Monday, December 15, 2008

The Trip of a Life-Time!

I was on a three day road-trip to Yercaud (hill), which is around 380kms. from Chennai if you take the shortest route. Road-trip meaning, we travelled the distance in our bikes. I’ve got a Bajaj CT100 which was obviously the least powerful bike in the trip. We weren’t even sure whether it would make it. The trip was everything we wanted it to be & more. We got together at 8 in the morning on Friday and started our journey. We had a wonderful time along the highway for around 200 kilometers. Then, we decided to take a detour through a village. It wasn’t exactly planned, but it was the best decision we could’ve taken. The ride through villages and their forgotten roads are something that I won’t forget anytime soon.

We did have some hiccups early on. One of the bikes got punctured, twice, thus wasting more than an hour and a half. But, without these troubles along the way, the trip wouldn’t have been complete. We finally reached the base of the mountain after sunset. Going uphill at night wasn’t something that we were planning to do, but the sceneries along the way tempted us to stop time and again, which combined with the puncture, made us late. But forget the lights, going uphill on a 100cc bike with a pillion rider and some luggage is no easy task, especially in that freezing weather. We did make it as enjoyable as we can and reached the hotel for dinner.
Do you remember how the time flies when you are having fun? Well, we still don’t understand how the next day ended so fast. We were just cruising along the hilly road, taking photos, trekking some uncharted paths, riding the bike to the peaks and just lying down on the grass. It seemed as if the day ended quicker than the time it took to snap our fingers. It was Sunday already and none of us were ready to return, but we had to. For me, the trip down hill was the best time I ever had on a bike so far, in my life. The curves, the hairpin bends, the climate, the view, it was all too much. It was as if my racing games came to life & I was inside it, living my dream. The whole trip was worth it just for this ride down the hill.

Finally, we hit the highways at full speed having gained confidence in our bikes. No detours, no shortcuts and no muddy paths. It was just us, the bikes and the highway. We pushed our rides to the limit (of course in my case, the limit was very close to our average speed in the trip). We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the roads and the amazing scenery on both sides of the road. We really didn’t expect such a route to even exist in India. Of course, we’ve travelled in the route many times in a bus, but only when you get on a bike, do you see the full splendor of the roads, the horizon and the hills on both sides.

Finally, we reached home after a few (route) confusions in the outer edge of Chennai. In the end, I’m happy that I took my CT100 for the ride. Yes, it was rubbish up the hill and it had a snail’s pace on the highway. Though it struggled a lot and I punished it as much as I can, it still clung to life. Not once did it break down or jam up. It was as if it had a small heart inside it and that heart never stopped beating. We did prove something in this trip. If you are truly interested in something, you can do it, no matter what the situation is. If I and my CT100 weren’t the best example, then my friend who brought his bike for the long ride when he didn’t even have a license is definitely something to look up to and learn from. We aren’t mad bikers; me for example, haven’t even been on a bike with more than a 150cc engine, but we were truly interested in something and we were able to have a ‘once in a life-time’ adventure. So, to the nah-sayers, ‘Will Is Everything’.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The heart of our daily life!

A lot has happened in the past week; a lot of problems and sufferings were caused. There was this financial crisis in the international scene. Then, the terror attack in Mumbai at the national level. The cyclone and the flood in the state level. A lot has been said and done about these issues. We've probably had enough of it from the media and in our daily chats. Lets talk about a lighter issue. A relatively smaller, but none-the-less, an issue. I'm talking about electricity shortage..

Remember the old saying that we take things for granted when we have it in plenty! Well, we may not have had plenty, but we did have a good supply of electricity, but in the recent weeks, things have changed. Initially, they cut the power for an hour and a half daily. They did change the timings, but it was either from the moment I wake to the moment I leave for college or from the moment I return from college to evening. It really gets on my nerve to wake up to a dark, sweaty morning. By the way, that is how a morning is, without power - dark and sweaty.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Electricity Board got a great excuse recently. The cyclone, the rain, the flood and what not! Nothing could stop them now. They would cut the power whenever they want, as long as they want. They would cut the power in the middle of the night (2am to be exact) and we didn't have power till 2pm. A friend comes over to my place and we spend 15 minutes frantically trying to enter a room (in an online game client) and just when we enter, boom, the inevitable happens again.

That really made us wonder. Is there anything fun to do without electricity! I mean, surely there must be something that both of us would be interested in and would be fun to do. But I really couldn’t think of anything. We could go out and play some outdoor sport, but not in this rain. If its not the rain, it would be the sun/heat. Cards and board games, well, they are not really something we play at home these days. Sit and chat? Maybe, but we did that a lot already thanks to the regular power cuts. Go out somewhere? Again, the conditions outside aren’t exactly favourable to just stroll outside. All we get to do, is sit and stare at eachother till we fell asleep. And that is exactly what we did, time and again. It was like taking the life, out of our life. There simply is nothing we could do, that doesn't require electricity..

The only thing we could’ve done was plan. If we knew that there was going to be a power failure, we could’ve planned our day around it. We could’ve planned to go out, to meet someone, to simply sleep, or atleast have an idea of when the power would be back and what we could do till then. But sadly, our electricity board doesn’t believe in informing people, it doesn’t care about the discomfort it creates. It believes that it has a god given right, to give or take the power, as it sees fit. It is no wonder why people hate the electricity board. This blog, is dedicated to those energetic and enthusiastic chaps working in our EB offices. Cheers…

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

DotA in Chennai


DotA was introduced to Chennai in 2005 when Zap was the lone gaming café here & the Zap DotA tournament was the World Cup for Chennai’s DotA fanatics. Zap conducted monthly DotA tournaments back then and DotA was quickly gaining popularity. By this time, Mumbai probably had more tournaments in DotA. But none of the international tournaments that took place in India had DotA. But still, gamers got attracted to DotA for what the game offered and for what it was. And it was simply a strategy based team game.

First Look:

The Indian DotA community was in its nascent stages and most of the players connected through Hamachi or Yawle networks to play online. Indian DotA tournaments weren’t famous enough to upload the replays online & so, the gamers had just began to watch international replays & were getting introduced to the concept of combos. And speaking of combos, Chennai’s first formidable combo was devised by ‘Agents’. Agents were Zap’s premier clan. Regardless of which game it was, Agents were the top contenders for any gaming event in Chennai.


In those days, Agents were famous throughout India was a Counter-Strike clan from Chennai. The mastermind behind the team was Jai “Burn” Prasad and was led by Yunsung. Their combo consisted of Treant played by Zaki “Ghillli”, Sniper played by Immortal, Earthshaker Narayan “Yunsung” and Omniknight played by Burn. Treant would get a refresher if the opponents had the slightest chance of victory, else, will simply get Radiance & finish the game. The combo was fairly simply even for that time. Earthshaker with dagger would initiate with his ultimate, Treant will use his ultimate at the same time & sniper would’ve farmed enough to kill them before they could reach any closer. And this, no team could challenge. This is when a team called ‘Guardians’ led by Ganesh “hunt3r” started to take part in the tournaments.


Guardians were a newly formed clan that started playing Counter-Strike until they were visited by an old friend from Mumbai near the end of 2005. Ganesh, having spent a few years managing a gaming cafe in Mumbai returned to Chennai bringing with him, DotA. With his expertise and unique play style, Guardians, after a lot of failed attempts, started to challenge the Agents. This is when Burn was caught between work & play and the Guardians were starting to take control of DotA in Chennai. Teams started to take cues from international replays & Gdn went for the Clinkz with Rapier & Aegies along with SandKing using the ultimate & dagger combo. But it lasted only for a short while as then came ‘Roar’.


If Zap was in the center of Chennai, Guardians were from the south of Chennai, then, Roar was from the north end of Chennai. Roar masterminded by Abhinav “DemiGod” Subramanium took control of the gaming scene in Chennai as soon as they entered the arena in the second quarter of 2006. They came at the right time as International tournaments started to accept DotA. Abhinav known of his infamous micro with Chen and Anthony MediChang known for his farming abilities & gameplay were the aces for 0mF. Their combo of Enchantress with HoT as tank and Omniknight for support was unbeatable at that time. Very few matches went competitive against Roar, whether it was Gdn or Agents. Then in September came WGT 06, the final showdown in Chennai.

WGT 06 Chennai:

DotA was in its peak in Chennai at that time & all the 3 clans practiced to the max.

Two weeks before the tournament, Ganesh of Gdn quit gaming. Since he was the mastermind behind the team, Gdn was out of the race for WGT. Only half the teams in Chennai competed in the event since the best players from smaller teams joined together to form competitive teams. The top teams were ‘Agents’ under the name GO, ‘0mF’ who were back then known as Roar, ‘Birds’ who are like 0mF2 & finally Gdn. GO lost a match against Roar in the preliminary stages. The final was between Roar & GO. GO won the first match, but lost the next one & so, 0mF (Roar) won the event. And with that grand finale ended the golden era for DotA in Chennai.

Reduced to Pub:

After WGT 06, the teams changed. Roar became 0mF by removing Rahul from their line-up & taking in Ben from Birds instead. Jai quit competitive gaming & got employed. Ganesh from Gdn never returned to gaming. And to top everything, there was not a single national/international gaming event in Chennai throughout 2007. Therefore, everyone turned to the internet. DotA players throughout Chennai went online & connected through Garena. Even Zap made facilities to use Garena. The number of players doubled and tripled, but the number of competitive teams remained the same. With the absence of players like Jai & Ganesh, the team 0mF didn’t have any competition. What good is a team without opponents? And thus, Chennai never reached that peak again.

Resurrection of Hope:

0mF did its best to practice online but it wasn’t enough. Chennai lacked serious DotA LAN events and Agents dissolved their DotA division. Players from cafes around Chennai started participating in online events. Thus, the café players joined together to form teams. The teams that attended most events were ‘Gdn’, ‘0mF’ with players from Nyx, ‘Atl’ from Atlantis and a few other teams like ‘Dead’ and ‘Zion’. Along with the teams & players, the strategies too changed. Teams started to concentrate more on nukes and early game heroes. Warlock, Zeus and Spectre became the most sought after heroes in Chennai.


After WGT 06, the only event that attracted players from other states was the tourney conducted by Nyx Café. A team from Hyderabad & Err0r attended the event. Two teams from Chennai (Gdn & 0mF) managed to get sponsored to attend the prelimis of WGT 07 in Mumbai. Besides these two events, the top teams were banned from the local tournaments and so, Gdn & 0mF were pretty much out of action. Zapak has started conducting 3 on 3 tournaments every week. Like the T20 in cricket, Chennai’s new DotA style is 3 on 3 & it is getting increasingly popular in Chennai.