Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Short Story Series: Episode 2: When James Actually Meets Amanda

The following post serves as a prequel to my previous post titled "When James Meets Amanda" with this story setting about 4 years before the events of "When James Meets Amanda". The link to that story is available below. Read that before you proceed with this post to help you understand better about the characters


Time has been moving slowly the last couple of days. Summer is coming to an end but my worries are growing. I am approaching the end of August and University starts in early September, but I am yet to be accepted into University of Michigan.

I have always aspired to be a chemical engineer and the University of Michigan has always been the place I wanted to go. Days come and go as I eagerly await by the post for my letter of acceptance in to University of Michigan. Hi, my name is James and this is my story

As days goes past and my hopes goes away, I started to prepare for what life has to offer to me if I failed to get into university. It was a scary world and I was not prepared for it. And then I heard a voice, "Good Afternoon, is there a Mr.James. I have a registered post for you."

 I dropped everything I was doing and ran across the front door. Yes! My dream was about to come true. I, James Charles Morrison have been accepted to into University of Michigan to pursue my degree in chemical

Time start to fly fast then. I had only two weeks to pack my things and move into my campus in Michigan to start a new adventure. It was scary times as well as I am guy knows in my town for not being a friendly and charming

As soon as you know it, here I am on my first day at University of Michigan, registering myself to start a new life here for the next four years. I was placed in the North Campus as there is where the engineering school is. New place to stay, new surrounding and I was eager to start my classes

It's been a month here and I have started to adapt myself to the new environment. It was autumn so the days where shorter while the nights were colder and I was doing what I do best, which was keeping things for myself. I haven't made many friends and tend to things on my own without depending on people

A year passed on and I have completed first year of school. Nothing has changed much for me except I tend to be quieter and of cause very few friends. I have always liked my privacy and enjoyed being by myself. With the start of second year, I move to a single room and everything seemed perfect for me

Then came the day the whole university was excited about. It was the NCAA Football Championship Final and The Wolverines who are University of Michigan football team are playing to secure their 11th Championship crown. I went for the match and was part of the crowd who witnessed The Wolverines making history that with their 11th tittle. It was a night to remember, not because we won, but because I saw her

There was this girl, she was part of the cheer leading. There was something about her that caught my attention. Was she gorgeous? Yes of cause she was perhaps the most beautiful girl in the world to me. She had this beautiful eyes and a smile to die for me. Honestly I did not see the winning touchdown, my eyes were carried away with her every moment.

"Who is this girl? She must be the most beautiful girl in the world" My heart kept telling me this. "I don't know who you are, but I am going to find out and take you on a date one day". "You are the girl with the million dollar smile". That was what I called her, the girl with the million dollar smile.

A couple of weeks passed by and it still feels like yesterday I saw the girl with the million dollar smile. Everywhere in I walked in the campus, my eyes would search for her, hoping the corner of my eye will catch the million dollar smile one more time as that would make my day again.

One day, I was in the library borrowing a couple of books as finals were looming around the corner, I saw this girl flaunting her hair. My heart was racing,"Could this be the girl with the million dollar smile?". And then she turned and smiled. "Yes that's her, the girl with the million dollar smile". 

It was mixed feelings for me, I was happy yet nervous. I wanted to speak to her but I did not know how to do it. It was than when I saw David, my roommate during first year finished speaking to her and walking out of the library.

I initiated a casual conversation with David to find out who that girl was. I had to endure the dreadful catching up session with David which I had no interest of before I could pop the question,"Hey David, who's that girl over there, she seems beautiful?". "Which girl James?"  

I pointed to her and David said, "Owh her, that's Amanda. She joined the same time as us. She is majoring in Literature, Science and Arts. By the way James, she is also the only single girl in the cheer leading team. Heard lots of guys in school are after her"

"Amanda, Literature, Science and Arts and single". These were the only things registered in my mind and that put a smile on me which was rarely seen by people here. With that I said goodbye to David and told myself I have to go and speak to her now or I might not get another chance.

I summed up all my courage and walked towards her. There was a smile on my face but my legs were trembling and my heart was beating fast. I was no longer thinking with my head but reacting with my heart. I walked towards her and stop in front of her and said, "Hey, can I have a minute of your time?".

"Hi Amanda, I'm James and I want to take you out for dinner tonight. Since you are majoring in Literature, Science and Arts that means you live off the Central Campus and be ready by 7, I'll come pick you up. We will talk more over dinner. Alright Amanda?"

She was stunned. She stood there a couple of seconds without blinking an eye. Clearly I caught her off her feet and she was speechless. Finally she spoke and said, "Well this is interesting. It's James right? I like your guts in asking me out. Be punctual James, I don't like having to wait for people". She turned and walked away and my heart was doing somersaults in joy hearing her say yes

She turned back to me with a smile and said, "Hey James, you are different. You are not like other guys. I like that. See you at 7." Those words sounded like a Shakespeare poem to me. Perhaps that was one of the most beautiful thing a girl has ever told me.

I was there in front of her block at 6.45 p.m. dressed in black suit with a bouquet in my hand and sharp at 7, she stepped out of her block in fine red dress with her hair blown and untied and she smiled towards me. She was the most beautiful woman I have seen in my entire life and life felt so completed. I picked her up and drove her to our dinner reservation.

We spend most of our time during dinner talking and getting to know each other. It all felt like a fairytale and we hit off quickly. We shared many interest and passion while having similar ideology of life. We were both people with big dreams who want to make it big in life yet are missing the companionship of a love one. 

Time flew as we spoke and we realised the restaurant was going to close for the night when the waiter came and informed us. We left the restaurant and I drove her back but parked a couple of block before her place. I walked her home while we held hands and she told me this, "James, I like you, you are different and mysterious and I like that. Thank you for this beautiful night".

As we reached her block, she told me she had to go but I could see in her eyes that she did not want to leave just yet. In a moment of instinct, I pulled her closer to me and kissed her deep before she left. She smiled and left while saying, "Thank you James, this is a very special night for me. Call me tomorrow. I would love to see you again James. Good night James". 

Indeed it was a special day for me too, because this is the day when James actually meets Amanda.


Saturday, 18 April 2015

Under The Spotlight: OK Kanmani

This marks my debut as in officially writing reviews based on movies that I have watched. Been a big movie buff for a very long and I am take the opportunity to use my blog to start writing my reviews on Tamil movies that I have watched. To start it off will be Sukesh Pandian's take on OK Kanmani

*Spoiler Alert: Don't read if you haven't watch the movie"

Story Review

After watching the trailer, I was a little skeptical that OK Kanmani is going to be another version of Alaipayuthey due to the similarities in the trailer. 15 minutes into the movie and all of those thoughts are broken. OK Kanmani is a breath of fresh air. It's a not your normal love story told in a Mani Ratnam way. Its a story about boy meets girls and they immediately hit off thanks to the similarities in thoughts they have. What better place to hit off than a wedding. But the difference is, this is about a girl with baggage from her family issues and a carefree young boy who both dont believe in the institution of marriage and wants to excel in their career. Now that is a rare plot to have in a South Indian movie where the general audience could be a little sensitive about this issues. The couple soon moves in together and start a live in relationship. Over time they realize that they want more than just this as they start to fall in love more and the thought of separation haunts them. Living with a landlord old husband and wife, they start to understand more about love, relationship and marriage. Some twist comes in here and there to alter the pace of the way and than shapes up to climax well. Whether will they sacrifice their careers to get married or put their relationship on hold and work towards their career or do they end everything and move separate ways is for you to watch to find out. The only drawback for me is that at one point of film, things becomes a little predictable and a couple of scenes seems to be in loop as if they were out of idea on what new scenes they could do to portray the couple.


 Rating 3.75/5.0

Director Review

"You are always judge by your last film" is quote most directors live by. Taking that into context, Mani Ratnam previous film, Kadal failed to meet any expectations of your classic Mani Ratnam film. Therefore the expectations are high on Mani Ratnam to silent his critics and show that he still has what it takes to be up there with the best directors of current time. OK Kanmani was the perfect way to make your comeback. Hats of to Mani sir for choosing a sensitive plot and yet portrayed it so elegantly and beautifully. From start to end he manages to make you smile throughout the movie. It was a beautiful love story portrayed in his classic style. He got absolutely right with his cast and technical crew. One of the biggest strength the film is the on screen chemistry between the hero and heroine. They look like the perfect couple and they will never fail to make you smile. The characters of Ganapathy and Bavani was another treat to the film The dialogues were so realistic where at times you are able to guess what the characters are going to say before they do. It gives you a sense of belonging in the film. The master is back with his golden touch

Rating 4.5/5.0

The Cast & Crew

The Hero

Indian cinema, remember the name Dulquer Salmaan! He is here to stay for a long time. For those who don't know him, he is the son of the legendary actor Mammoothy  and he has shown that he has the qualities to live up to his father's name. This is his second Tamil film and he nailed it to perfection. Portraying a cool, care free, jovial youth and he look like a natural. He makes it look so convincing that you may tend to think that it was real and not acting. He has the looks and charms to win over the ladies and the qualities to climb up the acting ladder. His expressions were on cue let it be fun or sadness. The emotion changes were good scene to scene.

                                           Rating 4.0/5.0

The Heroine

Nithya Menon has been in the Tamil film industry for 4 years now and this will defiantly be her biggest break of her career. It's rare heroine these days gets huge scope in a film like how Nithya was given in this film and she showed so much of maturity in her acting. Her on screen chemistry with Dulquer was extremely cute  and it was a treat to watch her perform. Let it be emotional scenes, prank scenes or song sequence she was there at her best justifying why it was right for Mani Ratnam to pick her for the film. She emotes her emotional well and handles the scenes of dilemma in the climax to perfection. It was a very heavy and mature character to play and she did justice to her performance

Rating: 4.25/5.0

Ganapathy Uncle

Once famous for villain roles only, Prakash Raj has now transformed himself to one of the best character artist in the industry right now. His versatility has no limits. In this film he plays an old landlord who is strict and rigid but a very loving husband to his wife who is having  Alzheimer. As the play film moves on, his character relaxes a little and become a little more open till the point he accepts a living in relationship. The way he portrays his love to the wife will make you believe that true love still exist even at old age. 

Rating 4.75/5.0

Bavani Aunty

Leela Samson makes her acting debut as a former carnantic singer star who's aged has already caught up to her and is now suffering from Alzheimer. Her portrayal will make you touch the emotion side of you. How her Alzheimer gets worse and how she struggles to cope with it. She performed like a seasoned artist instead of debutant complimenting Prakash Raj scene to scene. One of her most beautiful scene is when she asks Prakash Raj to tell Dulquer and Nithya about their love story

                  Rating: 4.5/5.0


Music Director

AR Rahman, the name speaks for itself. His songs are a treat to music lovers. If you loved the audio, wait until you watch it on screen. The picturization of each songs elevates the song to a greater height. But what stood out more for me was his rerecording. The background score scene to scene was amazing. How he mixes and matches the song tunes as the background score for different emotions was amazing. It was AR Rahman weaving his magic wand and songs gets craved beautiful. Focus on the scene where Dulquer explains to his boss about the a new gaming ideas he has and try to listen to the background score AR Rahman plays when Dulquer explains word to word. That is detailing at its fines

Rating: 4.75/5.0
 

Cinematographer
Another big highlight for this film was the camera work of PC Sreeram. You can have a beautiful plot and songs but it will never reach the audience if your cinematography is poor and Mani Ratnam made no mistakes here by working with PC Sreeram. He proves once again why he is the best in the industry and a host of top directors are eager to work with him. There will be a scene which is shot in a lodge. It is an empty lodge room with minimal things in it, yet thanks to the genius works of PC Sreeram and the art director, they made that whole entire shot so beautiful. His shots of the song were amazing which makes the songs all the more better to hear.

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Final Verdict: It's not OK Kanmani, but FANTASTIC Kanmani!!!!
4.4/5.0

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Short Story Series: Episode 1: When James Meets Amanda

Finally its my off day after a long week of work. Woke up to the beautiful sight of sun rise on a Saturday morning. Having so used to wake up early for work, I seem unable to sleep late on my weekends now. Made my self a good cup of coffee and decided to take a swim in the morning as the sun continues to rise brightly and I thought to myself today is going to be a beautiful day take spend my day outside my house. I had my favorite breakfast and ate it with sips of orange juice in the balcony of my apartment while enjoying the beautiful view of my city

So I thought to my self, it has been some time since I went to the mall downtown and it's looking like a beautiful to do so. After getting ready I took my car and took a slow drive to the mall which is about a half an hour drive away. I still had no idea what was I going to be doing there but I decide I am not going to spend my off day just lazing at home. With growing office politics and work pressure, I need a breath of fresh air and I just needed to get out today. I reached to the mall, parked my and made my way to the ground mall. It has been a couple of months since I came here and I could hardly recall which shops were located where at the mall. Thus I had to go to the directory board to find out what was there available at this mall. As I was going through, I heard a young, sweet lady voice calling me out. "Hey James, what are you doing here? Its been ages since I saw you". It was Amanda after all who called me out. We have been friends all the way from our university days and this was the first time we ran to each other since the day we graduate. Over the years after graduation, I have tend to keep things more to myself resulting in me losing touch with much of my friends. I was obviously shocked when I saw her and greeted her back, "Hey Amanda, I am doing good. What a pleasant surprise seeing you here.". This was the first time I actually felt genuinely happy running into someone I know and I was glad that it was Amanda among all of them

Amanda was no ordinary girl neither was she just my university buddy. Actually me and Amanda go way back than just being friends. She was the girl I dated for 3 years when we were studying together. Those three years were the most happiest moments of my life. She was the sunshine of  my life and the spark of brightness on my smile. 

It still surprises me how Amanda choose me over all those other guys who were in for her. They say love is blind, I guess it was true here. I was this quite guy who loves keeping things to himself and pretty much an  introvert. I did not have much friends during my university days because I was not one of the cool guys or the type of guy you would want to spend your Saturday night partying with. While Amanda was the gorgeous looking girl. They type of girl who will make your eyes follow her when she walks past you. They type of girl that would freeze your mind when she gives you a warm hug. There was a charm about her and her smile could make you feel like it was heaven. She was indeed very mature and knew how to carry herself and someone who was much respected among her peers. Despite the contrast in characters among us she was with me. She likes a mysterious men and that was something I could offer instead of the other guys. 

Yet there was only so much she could take being with a guy like. It was clear I was not doing enough for her and appreciating the little things she was doing for me. I am guy who has temperament issues, combine that with my introvert nature, it is a recipe for  disaster. I often lash out at her when she does something cute for me in public and never in return bought her flowers nor hold her hand. She loved dancing but I never danced with her. Eventually I drove her away and that perhaps would have been the best thing that could have happened to her. My life was never the same since that day and I never felt that happy again until today I ran into her in the mall. Maybe in mind secretly I was hoping that some day I would have a second chance to do it all right with the Amanda and never let her go.

We spent the time talking over lunch at her favorite restaurant in the mall. I remember the place well because it was here where I brought her on our first date and ever since than it has became her favorite spot. We spend hours reminiscing on old times and all those beautiful memories together in university. With every passing second, I became more confident that maybe, just maybe she was still single and we could try to work things all over again. She seemed so happy to see me and she was genuinely smiling. It was her idea to spend time together instead of parting ways after bumping into me. Maybe she is just waiting for me to pop the question.Yet something was still holding me back. It was the fear of rejection. What if maybe she just sees me as a friend. Especially after what I have done to her, why would she even want to be with me again. After lunch we decided to go for a movie together and end it with ice cream. It was just like old times again when we used to go for dates.

While we were having our desert, it finally hit my mind that I should speak up now before she says she wants to leave. She has been with me now for a couple of ours now and of cause she would want to be leaving some time soon. I know it's now or never. So finally I brave my self up and and said, "Hey Amanda, there is something I need to ask you?". Before I could complete my question, her phone rang and she said, "It's Mike, I got to take this call, excuse me James" and than she said, "Hey love, sorry I've been out so long, I bumped into James and spend the time with him. It has been a couple of years since I saw him and time just flew as we speak." after a short pause. "Yes love I will be there sharp at 6 and we will have dinner together, love you Mike.Bye". My heart shattered when I heard the conversation and my face turned pale when I knew that the guy she just spoke to was either her boyfriend, her fiancee or maybe her husband. I never felt so cold before. Than she kept her phone and said, "Sorry James, that was Mike, my fiancee. I totally forgot to tell you about him. Was so caught up talking to you.I have to leave now to go see Mike now. So sorry James but lets keep in touch alright. By the way what is it that you wanted to ask me James?". I sum up all the strength I had and put it into a smile and said, "Nothing Amanda we shall talk about it next time. It's getting late you should leave now before the traffic gets worse". She stood up gave me a hug and she walked away. As she was walking away, I knew this would be the last time I would be meeting her because it's best I stay away from her. I told my self that she surely deserves better and maybe Mike was the guy. Mike is going to give her everything she deserves and all the happiness I should have given her along time ago. I let her slip away before and it is only right she found the right guy to spend her life with. With a teary eyed this lines came to mind.


Too young, too dumb to realize
That I should've bought you flowers
And held your hand
Should've gave you all my hours
When I had the chance
Take you to every party
'Cause all you wanted to do was dance
Now my baby's dancing
But she's dancing with another man

My pride, my ego, my needs, and my selfish ways
Caused a good strong woman like you to walk out my life
Now I never, never get to clean up the mess I made, ohh…
And it haunts me every time I close my eyes

A Letter For A 16 Year Old Me

Dear 16 Year Old Sukesh,

This may seem as your toughest year of your life at the moment. You just got your PMR results and yes it is not the best results out there. You are now distanced from your friends. You are in the last class in your school. You let your parents down big time and you are isolating yourself. Take a moment to read that again Sukesh. Look at the amount of negativity there is in those 3 lines. Is this how you going to let your life shape up to be. Let me tell you a secret, 9 years from now you are going to be one of the most positive minded guy people are going to meet. You are going to carry so much of confidence at the world is going to be at your feet.

It does sound all amazing and beautiful right. But for all of this to happen Sukesh, you are going to need to start from somewhere. And let that somewhere be now. This is the most negative phase of your life now and yes this is the best place to start changing your mindset. Being a positive or negative person is something that is within you and only you can change yourself. Don't let the struggles of your life define who you are limit what you can do. You are better than what you think you are doing at the moment and its time you start making that change. Remember the golden rule of life: 

Everyone fails at a point of life! But not everyone bounces back to be successful again

Don't let your failures become your identity. Show the world you are a winner. You have got two years now to prove to the world that you are going to be a very very successful kid. Work silent in your failures and the sound of success do the talking for you. Set your SPM as your redemption point. Take this two years do grow up and be a men. Don't isolate yourself. Staying away from people and being a nerd is not going to do the trick. Yes you would eventually score well for your SPM, but trust me boy you would not grow up neither would you learn anything about dealing with failures. Because what you did is just faking yourself and once you become successful you would go back to square one. Instead learn how to handle your failures, learn how to put a brave face on and meet the world. Yes people are going to question you about your failures. Acknowledge them as your failures and show the world you are ready to move on. That is maturity, the ability to accept failures and use that as your spring board. Once you learn to that, nothing in the world can stop you.

Don't be afraid to fall in love. People may say that you are only 16 and its too young to fall in love. I would tell you it's nonsense. You are never too young to fall in love. Take risk, fall in love, break up, get yourself hurt and start it all over again. As odd as it may sound, that is one of the best thing that can happen you. You should fall in love and break up at least once in your life. It will bring you to a low point in your life and that's when you will grow up again. So yes fall in love and life will turn beautiful Sukesh. 

Keep this things close to your heart during the next two years and when you look back later you will see that you have grown from being a failure boy to a successful men. Thought becomes things Sukesh, so keep a positive mind and success is going to come your way.


From:
25 Year Old Sukesh

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

3 Things YOU Need To Do Every Day

We have 24 hours in a day, and during this time there are many things which we do. Some things we do for ourselves and some its for another person. Have you ever wondered what are something which you feel you should be doing on a daily basis no matter what happens on that day (excluding the basic waking up, brushing your teeth and etc). Let it be all sunshine or rainy that day, this are things you should be doing. I have listed 3 things here which I feel every one should be doing it on a daily basis and that includes myself.

1. SMILE

The most important thing I personally feel everyone should be doing every single day is to smile. Nothing brings you more confidence than a smile on your beautiful face. Make this a habit, the first thing you do when you wake up and you smile. It gives an instant happiness and if you start your day with happiness, you are bound for great. They say smiling is contagious, so why keep your beautiful smile to yourself. Smile at people you cross upon and spread the happiness to them too. It makes people's day when someone smile at the. We often ask why aren't smiling at us. For a change why dot we ask ourselves the question why aren't we smiling at anyone. Be the bigger person and smile at people you see. You never know that they might be having a bad day and your smile might just do the trick to change their entire day. You have the power to make someone's day so why not use it and be a super hero yourself


2. RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS

A random act of kindness is a simple thing to do putting on a smile. Its a good will act not measured by the magnitude of the act the nobleness of the act. Helping someone carry a pile of load over the staircase is also considered a random act of kindness because you have just help lessen their burden and that would have just made their day. You may not know each other but you have done a something good which they will remember. And the best part of random act of kindness is that it's free and you don't have to pay back to the person. Instead you pay it forward. Whenever someone does a good deed to you, always remember to do the same for another person and encourage those around you to do the same.


 3. POSITIVE MIND

The strongest person in the world is not the one who are physically built but mentally built. Mental strength is the key ingredient to be successful. The one common trait you will see among every successful person you know is that they are all positive minded people. Therefore isn't that something you want to be doing on a daily basis as well. Keep a positive mind no matter what happens. We are all bound to have good and bad things happen to us, but no matter what happens never let any event turn us into a negative person. Always speak on positive thoughts and stay confident. A smile will always help you stay confident. The biggest advantage of being a person is that you will get everything you put your mind into. Thought becomes things and that's the secret of life. Because positive thoughts attracts positive things. Remember your mind is like your factory and your thoughts are the things you built. If you can imagine how you going to achieve something than it will be translated into the real world and boom you will see the magic of life unfold in front of you and your thoughts will start to come true
 

Make this 3 things the law you should obey every day in your life and you will see how your life starts to turn a corner and things will start getting beautiful. No positive confident human has ever failed in his/her life and it's your time now be successful and happy

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Amazing Journey

365 days just flew pass by just like that in 2014. Looking back at the events that took place, there is only one thing I can say. It has been one amazing year I flew through. A lot of great memories and also some very sorrow moments. Being a firm believer of "The Secret" I choose to focus my thoughts on the positives and amplify the positivity around.


2014 has definitely served me one of my best years alive. Starting from landing the dream internship opportunity I could ever ask for at Linde to finding the love of my life to having my family getting bigger with the introduction of my future sister-in-law. Yet if I could pick one defining moment to be the best moment of my year, it has to be the moment I stepped into flight QR 849. Yes that was the flight which got me on course the "land of opportunity" United States of America.
The American Dream
 When I reflect back, I realized it was no easy journey to make this trip a reality. The seeds of this amazing adventure was planted back in 2013 October. When they idea of developing The STATS Charger was initially thought of. Never in my wildest dream I thought a random idea coming up in a bedroom late night was going to take me on a journey across the world. The idea was success and it blossom into making me apply to compete in a competition in USA.
STATS Charger on IEEE
I remember, it was a quiet boring February morning during one of my internship days where I was browsing the internet in search of competitions to participate using the STATS Charger and it was then when I came across the competition called Material Science & Technology 2014 which is to be held in Pittsburgh USA in October 2014. I just told myself why not? Why not just apply for this? What is the worse that could happen? I don't get selected that's all right. I'm not losing out on anything, so yeah screw it and lets just apply. After that I totally forgot about it until receiving an email in April from the organizer informing me that I am one of the selected participants to come. It was indeed my wildest dream coming true. From than on it was the process of raising the funds, applying for a passport and visa. Once everything had settled only than the feeling started to sink in that I am actually really going to travel to USA all alone. Mind you it was one of the toughest challenge I faced raising the money.

And then came to the moment, Friday 10th October 2014 at 8.50 p.m local time, I boarded into my dreams. Flying in an airplane has been a lifelong dream ever since I was kind. To be honest I was very afraid and nervous. I have been alone this far away from my family for the period of traveling plus I have never been to another country. I know nothing about the security process or anything about transit flight and here am I needing to transit twice before reaching Pittsburgh. Despite all the nerves I was overjoyed that I was about to fly all the way to USA.

I arrived at Pittsburgh on 11.30 am US time on the 11th of October with my worse nightmare coming true. The airlines crew misplaced my luggage. Here I am stranded in the land of the unknown, having no friends or family around with no luggage. After lodging a formal complaint, I was promised I will receive my luggage in 24 hours. Holding to that word I took a cab to the hotel and checked in. I remember the journey from the airport I was brimming with smiles looking at the beautiful scenery of Pittsburgh while feeling the breeze of the chilled air. I remember it very well because this has to be my most funniest cab ride. The driver was stuck in a relationship with an overly obsessed girl who intentionally got pregnant so that he wont leave her. How do I know this, because when she called, he put her on loud speaker and I was hearing every single thing. What a way to start my adventure. The first beautiful sight I saw on my first day was this amazing pink colour water fountain. Its actually a normal water fountain but it was breast cancer awareness week and they change the colour of the water into pink. The first meal I had here was pizza and it was then when I realized how much here Pizza Hut and Domino s has been cheating us when the serve us pizza. The amount of topping was incredible here
Breast Cancer Awareness Water Fountain

Pizza in Pittsburgh

I received my luggage finally that very night around 2 a.m. It is only at that very moment I realized I actually lost my keys to open the lock on my luggage. So now I have my luggage and now way of opening it. Smart right. I had to wait till the next morning to go to a hardware store buy a screwdriver and some pins and watch YouTube videos on how to pick a look. Yes the internet provides lesson on how to pick locks.

Surprising enough I never encountered any jet lag nor having trouble adapting to time difference. I think all those years sleeping at 5 am and waking up at 3 pm showed its benefit. I was able to wake up around 8 in the morning and treated myself to some heavenly breakfast . The food there is heaven I tell you. The day passed on with me just going around the town exploring what places are where and routes to get back to the hotel. I walked and walked like no men has walked before. End the day by packing back dinner to the room and dropping by to the hotel bar to have some drinks. Perhaps that was my best part of the day. A freaking chilled beer bottle cost me only $3 while a coke cost me $2. I reduced my drinking habits this year but the one week in USA, I definitely did drink every day. Not drinking until you get drunk but a couple of beers, healthy conversations and back to the room. What I realized here is how friendly people are there. I was sitting alone in the bar, and random people which just walk up to you and strike up a random conversation with you. They make you feel welcome and even suggest things you should do while you are around. Comparing to how situations are here in a Malaysian pub, if you are having a drink and if you just look at another person, it is good enough to strike up a fight not a conversation because you so called "pandang" him. Drinking here in Malaysia gives you a very negative dark aura. While there you see people laughing mingle around making friends. Its a total contrast. It was definitely helpful in making new friends and feeling welcome.

Day 3 which was on a Monday was the day to register myself for the competition . There was a mixed up by the organizers when they wrongly registered me in a different category. I was suppose to be in the student's competition category but due to a mistake I was placed in the category for master,phd and industry people's competition. I took positively as it a chance to compete on a higher level although it means it will hamper my chances of winning. One memorable thing about the day is about the small small games and trivia the booths were organizing while registration was going on. A simple wheel of fortune game was taking place where by you win something when the wheel stops spinning. My luck of the day was me winning this little Mr.Einstein. On the other side there was a mini competition where by you have to build a structure using clay. Using your best engineering idea come up with a structure and you stand a chance to win a shirt. The best was there is a booth with a game station where you could play virtual golf. Ended the with the usual packing of dinner and the evening spent in the bar having some beers and meeting new people. The most common topic of conversation is about how I was able to withstand my long flying hours.
Virtual Golf

The Clay Structure

Pinball Chemistry Style

Wheel of Fortune
Day 4 was spend fully on sight seeing. It was the only day where I was free for the whole day. Woke up 7 in the morning and decided that today I am going to walk the whole of Downtown Pittsburgh. Walked my way to a doughnut/baggle shop and had one of the most amazing hot chocolate in my entire life. Thick chocolaty heaven like hot chocolate. My day was of the a perfect start despite it was drizzling I continued to walk mile to mile around Downtown Pittsburgh. First stop was at this beautiful amazing park with a fountain nearby the river. One of the most beautiful sight to be at in the morning at Pittsburgh. After admiring the beautiful view of Pittsburgh, I headed to the Pittsburgh Museum and spent a couple of hours there learning from things on the Fort Pitt to Tamaqua to the Wars that took place there. Spent nearly 3 hours there and came out feeling a little more connected to Pittsburgh than before. From there I walk may back to the Toon Museum whereby they were having a display on superhero. Perhaps that was my most favorite museum I have ever been in my entire life. That took my whole till evening and I called it a day at the bar with my dinner and to early night sleep.
River Front Park

Overview of Font Pitt at Pittsburgh Museum

River Front View

River Front Fountain
 
The Heinz Stadium

Toon Museum- Batman

Toon Museum- Magneto


Day 5 was the day where I was finally able to put up my poster  and spend some time walking around the convention center before we were given free lunch that day. Everyone had their lunch together and I was able to make a couple of friends from India and France while we were having lunch. With that I headed back to room before coming back to the convention center in the evening for the Happy Hour Session. Alcohol was on sale with different types of snacks being offered around. There was music and the aim of the session was to allow us to interact with each other. I got my self a beer and join in a table with a guy from Czech Republic and was later join by two lovely ladies from Austria. We all hit of to a decent conversation as we all had one common incident between us. We have all had our luggage misplaced by the flight airlines before. It was day of laughter before we all prepared for our presentation the next day.

Day 6 comes the big day where I had to be there the whole to present my project to everyone who stops by my booth. Initially there was not much people stopping by but it slowly started to hit off. People from different countries came by and I explained about what STATS Charger can do and what potential it has. Many of them were left impressed and highly encouraged me to work on this idea as there is a huge potential in it. It mainly caught the eye of Indian guy who is currently doing his research in U.S.A. He was very supportive of my work and even started calling his friends around to come see my work. It was a priceless moment to feel that all the hard work you and your team has put all this while being acknowledge. He wanted me to continue my Masters in U.S.A and told me to ensure my Final Year Project is based on Modelling so that it's easier to be accepted for a program in U.S.A. This was perhaps my proudest moment being in Pittsburgh. After the session was over I spent some time at Macy's to shop some items for my loved one before calling it a day

Day 7 was my final day here and I had packed my stuffs and checked out of the hotel waiting to be brought to the airport. While traveling to the airport, I was filled with some sorrow because the beautiful dream is coming to an end and I am going to be flying back to reality of a hectic university filled with final year project. No matter where I travel around the world after this, Pittsburgh will always remain the most beautiful place I have been more so many personal reasons and for so many first time.



Arsenal! Its More Than Just A football club

"Oooh to, oooh to be, oooh to be a Gooner,
Oooh to, oooh to be, oooh to be a Gooner,
Oooh to, oooh to be, oooh to be a Gooner,
Oooh to, oooh to be, oooh to be a Gooner"
This song springs to mind when you meet someone who is also a fellow Gooner. Arsenal, its more than just a football club to those who supports us. It gives us the sense of bonding and belonging around the world. It is our identify of who a part of us are and we are hell sure proud of it.

It's More than A Football Club
Everyone has their own reasons why they start supporting a certain club. Some could be because they were scoring lots goals or maybe they were winning a lot of games or maybe they were joining the bandwagon because everyone was supporting that particular team. I too have my reason on how I became a Gooner. It is not as what you think it is. No it was not because of the brand of football, or the quality players they has. I begin supporting Arsenal at a tender age of 8 or 9 where I hardly know much about football. I started supporting Arsenal was because I was one of Wenger post game interview and on the screen it was written "Arsene Wenger, Arsenal Manager". I found that super cool on how the club's name and the manager's name was so similar. Maybe it was his club that's why.

Because it's destiny
Over time as I watch them play on a regular basis, I fell in love with the brand of football they played. It was quick and devastating. I found it to be very much different than any other clubs in England and with that I finally became a true Gunner.

Every club has their good and bad times and a true fan stands by their club at their lowest point and always gives a 110% support every time they play. My worst moment as an Arsenal Fan came in 2006. Arsenal recovering from the lost of Vieira to Juventus that season, was already struggling in the league that season. On the final day of the season we clinched 4th spot. It was also the final season at Highbury. It was one of the most emotional season for a Gunner. Despite the league struggles, Arsenal were on a magical Champions League run. They have qualified to the Champions League Final to be played at Paris against Ronaldhino's Barcelona. Along the way Arsenal knocked Real Madrid of their ground with a stunning solo goal at the Santiago Bernabeu and went on to win 1-0 over the two legs.

The Night King Henry Ruled Santiago Bernabeu
Up next was Vieria and Juventus. Up step Cesc Fabregas and Juventus was sent packing. It was a night where Cesc Fabregas made his mark and showed that there was life after Vieira at Arsenal. Having beaten the Galatico's, now the Old Lady has also fallen to Arsenal's feet.
There is new maestro at Highbury now
 Into the semi final was another Spanish opponent in the form of Villareal. Kolo Toure goal at Highbury gave Arsenal a 1-0 lead into the semi final. In the dying minutes of the second league, Villareal was awarded a penalty and up step Riquelme to send this tie to extra time. But Jens Lehmann had other plans in mind. He brilliantly saved the penalty and ensured Arsenal are through to their first ever Champions League Final without having a goal conceded in the knockout round.

Lehmann Sends Arsenal To The Champions League Final
Luck was not on over side in the Final, when the referee decided not to allow Eto'o goal to stand after judging Lehmann has foulded Eto'o outside the box and he was red carded.. Pires was taken out and in came Almunia. Arsenal had all to do it now with ten minutes and most of the game still to play for. Yet we took the lead thanks to a towering header from Sol Campbell. But it was too much to ask for to contain Barcelona with ten men and we eventually fall with too late goals. I broke down to tears, weaping over the defeat. Because I knew that was the best chance we ever had to win the Champions League and now it is all over. I still feel if the referee were to have played on and allowed Eto'o goal to stand, we would have beaten Barcelona 11 vs 11.
So near yet so far
 It was so heartbreaking for a 16 year old me to see my beloved team lose on the big day but that never stop me from supporting the club. Because its not about supporting your club when they only win and turn your back on their bad day. As I've said, this is Arsenal and its more than just a football club. It like a family to me and you never turn your back on your family

Ooohh To Be A Gooner
And of cause being an Arsenal fan has brought me lots of joy as well with the greatest highlight being the only English Premier League team to win the league with out having lost a single game. No manager in the modern game at that point of time was able to do what Arsenal was doing. Over the years both Juventus and Bayern Munich was able to do so but they never had the same class of fooball as the Invincibles had nor had they been in a competitive league as Arsenal was. Arsenal was not only winning at that point, but they were winning with style and elegance, playing some really sexy football. You just cant hate the Invincibles. You can be a neutral fan and yet you will still be at awe looking at some of the things they pull off during that season. The could score, creates chances after chances, grind out results, defend resolutely and of cause turning games on the verge of losing to wins. And they did all this without spending mega millions but on pure tactical and philosophy guidance of Arsene Wenger. They went on to stretch the unbeaten run to a total of 49 consecutive games without a defeat. A record which still stands to this very second.

The Unbeaten Run
Cast of The Invincibles

Captain Vieira Lifting The Only Golden Premier League Trophy



Im proud to say I have stuck by club during it's hard times and during its glorious time. Its never easy being an Arsenal fan as you have to face with constant heart breaks, especially during this last 10 years. We have lost so many quality players to close rivals, a trophy drought of nine years and some very poor performance. It is always tough to take when your team plays bad and it will always hurt. But they joy when they win is something you can express with words. And makes it more sweater is that Arsenal wins by playing the Arsenal way. Quick beautiful football. The amount of happiness Ramsey's Fa Cup winner brought it almost made me go berserk that night because I have Arsenal in my veins. I leave you now with a link of the famous Arsenal chants.


Arsenal! Its more than just a football club


My All Time Arsenal Starting 11 (1999 - Present)

I have been an Arsenal supporter for the last 16 years of my life. Over this time I was blessed to see some of the greatest footballers play for my beloved club. So many players over the years have donned the Arsenal colours and left yet the club stood tall. Looking back at these 16 years I have came up with what I felt is my all time best starting 11 from 1999 up to today. I would go with my starting 11 followed by 7 Substitutes.

STARTING 11
Goal Keeper
 
David Seamen

Arguably one of Arsenal greatest ever goalkeeper along with the likes of Perry Grooves and Bob Wilson. He was Arsenal Number 1 when I started watching them play and after him, Richard Wright, Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia, Wojiech Szczesny and David Opsina has been the number 1 but yet no one comes close to the class he brings to the team. His finest save in his Arsenal Career most likely came against Sheffield United in a Fa Cup Semi Final in 2003

Right Back
Lee Dixon
It was a close one to choose between Lee Dixon and Lauren, but I choose to side with Lee for this one. Has been an incredible servant to club from 1988 up to 2002. Took him a year before he fully established himself as a starting 11 player and from that point onwards there was no turning back for Lee Dixon. Part of the Great English Back Five for Arsenal
Center Back
Tony Adams
The automatic first choice has to none other than Mr. Arsenal himself. Tony Adams was more than just an Arsenal player. He was a captain, a leader, a super star and now a legend who's story worth to be told
around. He was born in London, started his youth career at Arsenal and played his whole professional career at Arsenal. If there is one men who would bleed Arsenal, It would be Tony. He was given the Captain's Armband at a tender age of 21 and remained until the day he retired. One of the few Arsenal Legends to have their statue erected in front of the Emirates Stadium. One his most memorable goal would be that fantastic strike against Everton in a 4-0 win at Highbury which ensured Arsene Wenger's first Premier League Crown. He broke through the Everton defense as if they were invincible and coolly collected an over the top ball by Steve Bould before slamming it home and raise his hands in the air. Its an iconic moment no Arsenal fan can ever forget

Center Back
Sol Campbell
My second choice centerback goes to Sol Campbell. Its a closely contested tie between Keown, Toure and Koscielny but ultimately I had to go with Sol for one simple obvious reason. The man was a beast in the heart of defense and of cause because he left Sp*rs for us while he was their captain. He came in a time of transition between Adams and Keown as they were aging and that is no easy boots to fill in. He showed us exactly why he was worth the steal from Sp*rs as he played a key role in The Invincibles Season.

Left Back
Ashely Cole
 As much as I hate the fact Ashley Cole for the manner he left the club and the remarks he gave after his departure, he will still remain perhaps the greatest Arsenal left back of all time. Started his career with the Arsenal youths has he step up to the first team was amazing. He became the proper replace for another Arsenal Great Nigel Winterburn. His had something extra in his game which other left back did not have. He could attack as good as he could defend. Ashely Cole became a regular threat to the opposition on the left flank. He was part of perhaps the best left attacking trio in the world that time consisting of him, Pires and Henry. As Henry once mentioned, "Every one knows we would attack from the left and yet they could not do anything to stop us". He still would remain perhaps the best left back Arsenal has ever had

Right Winger
Freddie Ljungberg
He hails from Sweden and he only cost us 3 Million. Freddie Ljungberg was a very different type of right winger we had. He was not about crosses or out and out wing play. He had certain pace with him and a keen eye for goal and the defenders could not stop him. He became the first player to score in a Fa Cup Final outside of England and became the first player to score in consecutive Fa Cup finals which he did with his red hair. He played a key role in the unbeaten season was part of the free scoring attacking four along with Pires, Henry and Bergkamp


Center Midfielder
Patrick Vieira
He will remain as Arsene Wenger's greatest ever singing for the amount of money he paid for. He was a reject at AC Milan and when Arsene brought him to Highbury, he immediately turned out to be one of the most outstanding midfield general of his time. He brought the much need stealth to the Arsenal midfield was the most important player in Arsenal counter attacking fooball style. Henry quoeted "When Patrick is having a good game, I would have 3-4 chances in the 1st half. If he was having a bad day, I would probably only get 1." Such was Patrick importance to the team. He wins the ball and releases the ball forward early to get the game going and he was doing that with ease. Until today no Arsenal player has ever been fully able to bring the same amount of quality in their attacking and defending side of the game as what Patrick brought.

Center Midfielder
Cesc Fabregas
Francesc Fabregas, born in Barca raised at Arsenal. The wonder kid was already making headlines at a tender age of 16 in the reserves. His qualities was so obvious and it was only a matter of time before he makes the first team. he became the youngest Arsenal player at that time to make his debut at the age of 16 years and 177 days and scored in a game later. His break through came when Patrick Vieira picked up an injury and Cesc Fabregas was given a run of games which he was impressive justifying all the hype around him. Upon Patrick's departure to Juventus, Cesc Fabregas was handed the iconic Number 4 jersey to fill in the boots of Vieira. He took the task with his own style of football despite not possesing the same physical appearance as Vieria. But he gave Arsenal something extra in his ability to turn around the ball and spot runs from distance when others could not. Through balls became his expertise and he was soon promoted to be Arsenal's Captain. He remains one of Arsenal's best passing midfielders and continues to rank up the assist chart during his time at Arsenal and that is one of the reason why he makes into my best 11 ahead of Gilberto Silva.

Left Winger
Who else if its not Rober Pires. My favourite Arsenal hero of all time. He remains the greatest left winger ever to play the game for Arsenal. He owned the Number 7 jersey and become a regular goal scorer for the club. Let it be stunning curlers from outside the box against Liverpool or famous lob over the keeper against Aston Villa and Southampton, you name it and Pires has done it. He strike up and excellent partnership with Henry and they could be blind folded and would still be able to find each other on the pitch. He was free scoring winger at a time with was uncommon for wingers to hit double figures. More importantly he had an eye for goal against Sp*rs. He just love scoring against them. I could go on the whole day talking about Arsenal's Greatest Winger, but I would leave you with this video below which sums up why ROBERT PIRES WAS THE GREATEST ARSENAL LEFT WINGER. Thank you for the memories Robert, we will always love you


Center Forward
The classiest center forward to have ever graced Highbury. He goes by many names such as "Non Flying Dutchman", "Dennis The Menance", "Bergy", "Iceman" and of cause "GOD". He is the one and only Dennis Bergkamp. Due to his fear of flying and the beautiful football he plays, he is always referred to the phrase "Why Fly When You Can Walk On Water". Well Dennis is GOD after all. The best Number 10 Arsenal has ever had. He faced harsh criticism when he newly arrived because he was not hitting in the goals. Once he found his rhythm, there was no turning back and Wenger brought the very best of Dennis. He played the game like no other center forward has ever played the game. Dennis Bergkamp was know for beautiful goals. When asked by a journalist why does he always like to make a nice goal, he says "If the goalies is a little bit off his line, how much space do you have on his left or right? It's not alot. And how much space do you have above him? There is more. Its a question of mathematics". But that does not says everything about Dennis. He was one of the best passing forwards you will every see. He was very good at moving the ball. Henry said in an interview about Dennis passing ideology, "If you are moving and you are open than you should have the ball, its that simple" and Henry has always hailed him as the best strike partner he has ever played with because he always feeds you with ball. As good Dennis was with goals he was good with assist as well. During his Arsenal time, Dennis had scored so many amazing goals and below are the 5 of the GOD's best goals

Center Forward
The final player in my all time starting 11 definitely goes to the club's all time greatest player and record goal scorer King Thierry Henry. Words cant describe what a beast he was for Arsenal in front of goal. Although he comes from France, during his time at Arsenal he truly understood what does it meant playing for Arsenal. He understood the meaning of the club. He knows how important are those North London Derbies were. He had a little arrogance in his game and that was what made him a level higher than players of his time. He is winner and he knows how to win it. One of the best team players you will ever find. In the modern game its rare you can find a center forward who can score you 30 odd goals and 15 assist in a single season. Henry was one of them. As much as he loves scoring, he was also creating so many goals for the team. It is was not by coincidence that during that time both Ljungberg and Pires were cracking up the goal charts. He took the captain armband and became the face of the club. He has been honored with statue at the Emirates. He is the current club top scorer of all time. One day, someone is going to erase his name from the all time top scorer list for Arsenal, but no matter what happens, Thierry Henry will always be the men who scored the most number of goals at Highbury. Henry was The King and The North Bank was his play ground. And this is a special video tribute on why Henry was King

The 7 Substitutes


"Mad" Jens Lehmann
Martin Keown
Nigel Winterburn




Gilberto Silva


Marc Overmars

Mesut Ozil
Robin Van Persie