Category: Memories


Link to previous post – the beginning.

Recoil was a fantastic game. It was an arcade game. You were a tank with many missions to destroy evil. I kept playing it. It also had a God mode. God mode meant that you will never die. Mission accomplished. I never completed the game without the God mode. I was that good a player.

One fine day, the CD did not work. I could have searched and downloaded the game but that did not work out because my internet bandwidth was just 64 Kbps. Yahoo took a full minute to open. So that option was out.

But newer CDs were available in the market. Grey market. I visited a friend’s place one fine day, and found him playing a game with little little men running around. There were few men cutting down trees, few were fishing, and few more were mining. There were many buildings. My friend controlled all those. I immediately wanted that game. No. Don’t imagine me as a 31 year old man jumping up and down for a game CD. I was just 19 then.

When AoE 2 released, my friend bought the AoE2 CD and I borrowed the AoE CD from him. Then it all began. I did not where to start. I did not know which civilization to start with. So I started with Random Map. Divine. It took me a long time to win one game. I did not know about cheat codes for AoE then. I only thought cheat codes were there for Ashes 97. Once I got the cheat codes, I mastered the random map games,  and moved to the Death Match. The game was tried with different difficulty levels and different number of opponents. I, at one stage, became such a good player that, I could win the game without cheat codes at maximum difficulty.

The beauty of AoE is the control it gives you. You are God in AoE. You create, conduct, and destroy the world that is under your total control. Starting from the interface and going until the credits, the efforts that have been put into this mammoth effort is not at all small.

When you say Age of Empires, three names should be remembered – Bruce Shelley, Tony Goodman, and Dave Pottinger.

A very short introduction of these three men is an absolute necessity.

Bruce Shelley – The face of Ensemble studios. Yes. The same man who worked along with Sid Meier in Civilization and Railroad Tycoon.

Tony Goodman – The founder of Ensemble Studios along with John Boog-Scott (He was with Anderson consulting which was renamed as Accenture later). He worked on the art in AoE.

Dave Pottinger – The man behind the awesome artificial intelligence (AI). A 33 year old graduate from the university of Arizona, this man worked in the entire series of AoE as the engine lead and AI specialist in Ensemble Studios.

Ensemble Studios, the maker of this great game, was acquired by Microsoft in 2001 and continued to function as an internal wing until 2009. On 29 January 2009, Ensemble Studios was disbanded and the employees were laid off. Lot many employees from Ensemble joined together and currently work under the brand Zynga.

I have my resources from the internet and Airtel has messed up big time with my internet connection. So I am unable to gain more information on this topic. I will resume the posts once my internet gets okay.


Hey All,

Do you all love Age of Empires (AoE)? I love it. Rather, I loved it.

Those were the times of PII systems. For those who were born after 2000, the P is actually Pentium. We had Pentium processors first, then came Pentium II and then Pentium III and so on. My association with the computer game started during the times of Celeron processors which were inferior to the Pentium ones.

The year was 1997. I was in tenth standard. The exams were over and we did not have anything to do in the vacation. Beer and stuff were out of reach. Computer’s were the next big thing in life. People were speaking about jobs in computer companies that were paying huge amounts of money as salary. So computers were inviting and I joined a computer class around 2-3 kilometres from my house.

The fee was around 200 bucks. They taught me MS-DOS. Yes. Fricking MS-DOS. Everyday, I used to go there at around 09:30 am and sit and get the instructions done by 11:00am. Once the instruction session was over, we used to have the practical. Practical was interesting because it allowed us to handle the computer. The MS-DOS was not interesting. Ten days into the class, I had made friends there. A good friends taught me well and he taught me some tricks too.

The trick included accessing a folder called games and play a F1 game in a system with MS-DOS. With nothing else to do, that was the only option. Still, the game was very addictive and it just took me a day or two, to get addicted to it. I played the game until the summer holiday was over. Once the summer holidays were over, I did not get a chance to play a computer game until I met few more friends with computers at home.

Ashes 97 had been released. A friend of mine had the CD and we went in everyday to play the game at his house. He had a computer with Pentium processor. Super fast. However, he could not allow us to play the game in his computer for long because of some family issues. His family had issues with us sitting inside the house and playing. Ashes 97 CD was borrowed. We made new friends in tuitions. I used to go for a physics tuition and I was friends with the physics sir’s son. His brother had a computer. When his brother was not around, we went in and used the CD and played the game. We had cheat codes. 131 used to make the batsmen hit a lot of sixes and 321 made the players drop catches. What nice times those were.

But this honeymoon phase with the computer was short-lived because the system conked one day. My tryst with computers were over for good.

It was not until the April of 2000 that I touched the computer again. Dad bought us a computer – A Compaq Presario PII with 128 MB RAM. That was like rocket speed when compared to my friends systems. The system also came bundled with some CDs and games. I got an encyclopaedia and a tank game called Recoil. Recoil was my favourite game until Microsoft released AoE. That was a stunner!

I was madly in love with AoE until 2004. I used to create a huge map and do all sorts of nonsense customizing and create a lot of resources with cheat codes. I made many forts and lot of cavalry. Making the cavalry march towards the enemy fort with battering rams, Gatling guns, Catapults etc. was a beautiful sight. Achieving the victory was sweet. I had played many more strategy and simulation games after that, but nothing beats AoE. It was right royally a game for the kings! My exploration led me to a variety of games. You all must have forgotten those. I will take you back in a trip to the past.

Will continue! Got to clean the house as wifey’s seemantham/valaikappu is tomorrow. Entire house is being cleaned and I am being frowned upon.

Before I go, I am going to write about AoE in detail, in the next post. More games will come with subsequent posts.

Got to go. Bye.


Five years of age. The age at which a kid enters school. The age at which exploration starts as horizons expand. The age at which a kid leaves the protection of home and moves out into the real world.

I had a pretty bad experience of my first day of school. Back then, I was this tiny little guy. After the first day of school, I boarded the school bus to go home. I was waiting for my stop. I did not know how it would look like. All I knew was that my grandma will be waiting for me in the bus stop. Before I could know, the bus was in my stop. I could see my grandma searching for me anxiously. Before I could push through the crowd and move to the door, the bus moved. I thought “Ok! They will come back and drop me.”

Sadly, I was fooled. The bus showed no signs of return and was heading towards school. When the bus was empty without any student, of course except me, I went up to the driver and asked him to drop me home. Poor fella, that driver. He had the shock of his life. I did not know the name of my stop. He did not know which stop I was from. So they took me back to school. Meanwhile, my grandma had called up my mom, dad and a huge group of relatives, because I did not turn up in the school bus. They thought someone had kidnapped me for a ransom.

The driver took me back to school and we went into the office. They checked the office file for details and found out my home address. The driver said his house was near and he could drop me home. The teachers said yes and sent me along with the driver. The driver had a cycle and he also had an indigenous pram that could be attached to the cycle.

So up we went – against all odds to find my lost parents, grandma, and a huge group of relatives. Before that, I should also tell you about the snacks I ate. The driver, hungry after the trip, wanted to have a tea. So he and another chap made me sit in the cycle and took me to a tea shop. Unfortunately for him, the driver asked me what I wanted. I took two buns, two cream biscuit packets, few chocolates, and ordered a masala milk. I needed snacks to last for sometime until I meet my parent’s right?

So then we went towards my house. Meanwhile, there was a huge commotion/chaos/hullabaloo in our house. A kid is missing. Dad had gone to school and searched. They had told that I had left in the school bus because I had left in the school bus. When my Dad went, there were no teachers. When I returned to school, there were no office administrators. So we did not know that Dad had come to search for me in school. So Dad and other relatives panicked, ran around, and were about to go to the cops to file a complaint.

I had told that the driver picked up my address from the school. My grand mom’s house lies on the way to our house. So when we neared my grandma’s house, I could identify and told the driver to drop me there. Finally, they all let a sigh of relief when they got assured that no body had kidnapped me.

Outcome of this incident –

  1. I sat in the dashboard of the bus for the next 1 year. I never sat in the seats.
  2. I cried for 1 full year when I go to school. When I come back, I used to be my happy self.
  3. I hated school because of this incident. I used to be so scared that I always thought that the bus would leave me at school and go. Because of this, I used to always sit on the table (not the bench) and watch the bus that was parked next to the building. If it moved, I would start crying.

Coming to the most important part of the blog – How the title is related to this incident:

Answer is here!

I wanted to be a driver when I grew up. You know why – I would save a kid from getting lost. The driver was my hero, that day.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I did not become a driver. I am a dentist.

p.s – This is a true incident. My memory is very strong.

Open-mouthed smile

India and me–The Mobile Story

Hi All,

Mobile phones are everywhere today. It was not so, some ten years ago.

The mobile phone industry in India started hitting the right button only in the late 90′s. Before that, it was the dial by phones (land phones). Much before that, it was the trunk dialling wherein you call up the operator, request for a call to be placed, then wait until the call connects and then speak. It was expensive and it was with frequent disconnections. It was used only to inform very very important information.

When I was doing my schooling, the wired phone market was a big thing. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) was the sole provider of telephones then. I still remember the day when we got a phone connection to our house. It took two months to arrive after registration.  There was excitement. I was in my summer holidays and suddenly one fine morning, two technicians came home. They had brought with them a phone like this.

They connected the phone and went off, after taking a service charge of around 20 rupees. My Dad came out with an instruction – “The phone has to be used only for essential communication and not to chat with relatives/friends.” We all (Mom, me and sister) nodded. After an hour, I found Dad talking to someone in the phone and exclaiming the advent of technology. Essential communication example was set by the leader.

Next thing was – I had a phone and I had to boast to my friends. The problem was that none of my friends had a telephone at their home and even if they had, I was not even aware of its existence. There was no Facebook to inform others via a status. It was a very catch-22 situation. To call, you had to have the number. To have the number, you had to call and find out or wait until the summer holidays were over. How difficult. But then, life moved on.

After few years, my dad bought a Pager. It was one of the stupidest devices I have ever come across.  We had to call up the pager company and tell them the message and the paging company will send a short message to the pager. Very similar to voice messages of the present time but the biggest use of the Pager was to ask Dad to buy vegetables on the way home. I still have his pager with me, just for a vintage value.

Later cell phone came. The first one was like a brick. My Dad did not buy a cell phone immediately because of his bad experience with the Pager. My Uncle had bought a huge cell phone which was of such a size that I thought it was communicating with the satellite directly. Later, Dad bought one and was using it sparingly. By then, the landline charges had come down and I had also got the numbers from friends and “essential communications” were being shared.

It was not until college, I owned a cell phone myself. I was in my third year (2002) of dentistry when I had this problem. My girlfriends were on leave for 1 month, but I wasn’t having any holiday. They went home, I did not have a landline in my dorm and mobile phone was very much needed. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. So I invented ways to buy a mobile phone. One of my friends (quite a rich guy), had an Ericsson mobile phone.

The phone wasn’t cheap. He demanded 4K for it. I bargained down for 2K. The problem was not the initial investment. It was the recurring cost. The incoming calls were charged at INR 4 and outgoing calls were charged at INR 6 for each minute of usage. I was bankrupt in 1 month.

Slowly the prices started to come down. At one stage, the incoming was free and outgoing was at INR 1. It was then, the mobile market started to flourish in India. I ditched the good old Ericsson phone and moved to a Samsung C100.

On one fine day, I lost the Samsung C100. It again became a struggle to buy a phone. After that, I moved across various manufacturers and models – Reliance Nokia, Motorola C350, Sony Ericsson K750i, Nokia 5310, Samsung Corby, Nokia E63, and most recently, Samsung Galaxy Y. But the company I work for, does not allow camera mobiles to be brought inside my working area, so I have a blackberry phone without camera, a very primitive blackberry model, at present. Without me telling ya, you all know – it sucks!

When I see my friends boasting extreme connectivity with newer models and lovely features with android and iOS, I have a tinge of jealousy arising inside me, but the company pay check silences it. I am thinking of newer territories to exploit and if those work out, then my company-imposed camera phone ban will vanish. I can then own a good phone with which I can shoot pictures, share it, blog, and connect.

Getting back to the bills, the telecom industry in India has reaped millions and millions of money due to telecom auctions. Despite bribes in million’s, we still have to pay a maximum of 0.5 INR for an outgoing call and none for an incoming call. The internet has taken over the mobile phones too and I pay 950 bucks for 6 GB of 3G data. Now with the introduction of 4G, the 3G plans have come down. I should review and alter my 3G plan on October 01st. Hope that goes well.


Hi all,

I shifted from blogger to wordpress because I find wordpress more inviting. 🙂 Please follow me here. It’s a new beginning.

I have started a new blog to showcase my photography skills – Rajanna Photography.

You can also connect with me in Facebook – Rajanna Photography.

Glad to see you here. Please comment/interact/share. That’s all I ask.


Crowdsourcing based nurtering


Nature writing in Tamil


கனவுகளுக்கு பதிலாக அறிவியல், கண்ணீருக்கு பதிலாக போராட்டம். போராட்டமே நம் இருத்தலுக்கான அடையாளம்.


experiences - travel - photography

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