Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Help for Burning Souls

This was back in NITK when I was in second year. I had decided to get a laptop to replace my then almost defunct desktop, which left me with this DVD writer to dispose of. I had purchased the DVD writer only months before and had no intentions of confining it to the dusty corners of my attic along with the desktop. As you'd expect, selling it off in college (for what I'd want to call a decent price) wasn't as easy. So had I came up with this saucy piece of ad , which I recently found in a seldom visited folder on my comp. It makes quite a read. Read on.


Help For "BURNING" Souls
Does your saga sound very much like this??
  1. I shell out 10-12 rupees for just 700MB(i.e. a whopping RS 1.6/100MB) on CDs
  2. I move around the block with my hard disk just to transfer a few gigs
  3. My comp is old and has a mere 40GB HD & a screwed up CD ROM (ok..ok.. a CD writer)
  4. I wanna burn a few gr8 movies that I’ve just seen but the very thought of burning 5-6 CDs is punishing
  5. I've come across great DVD rips but then putting all of them onto my HD would be suicidal
There’s a panacea for all this...A DVD Writer.
  • Almost 5 GB off your HD with just one burn
  • Neatly burn 4-5 movies into just one disk
  • By using DVDs you spend a paltry 36ps/ 100 MB as compared to 1600ps/ 100 MB for a dumb CD. Dirt cheap, isn't it??
  • With a DVD RW you can conveniently take 5GB anywhere u want (Without searching for that screw driver)
  • With a double layer DVD you free up a mammoth 8.5 GBs in just 1 session (That’s 1/4 the HD space for quite a few of us)
By now u must be thinking "Yeah, yeah! That’s very sweet but i cant spend 3.5k. Besides I don’t have the time to go and get one". That’s exactly where this DVD writer of mine comes in. Its that much needed remedy for ur problems. The specs go like this:
  • SONY Q28A DVD+-RW Dual Layer(IDE/ EIDE)
  • Supported CD Format: CD Text, CD-Extra, CD-ROM Mode1, Photo-CD, Video CD, CD, Audio CD
  • Supported DVD Format: DVD-ROM, DVD- Video, DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW
  • Supported Writing Standard: CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, DVD+R DL (Double Layer)
  • Buffer Size: 2 MB
  • Features: Emergency Disk Eject Hole
I've only used it for 4 months and so its really NEW (The warranty is still there). Keeping in mind ur budget constraints, I’ve put a very modest tag of Rs 2850/- on it. The offer doesn’t sound true?? Well it is. Pinch yourself once and then call me .I'll do a door delivery for you. Achtung!!: Don’t waste time pinching or you'll miss out.

VINAYAK KAMATH K
Mob: 9448xxxxxx


I was convinced that my pitch had been perfect and even the penny pinching NITKian who might think twice before giving the second Chlormint he'd got at the co-ops in lieu of Re.1 change (or the lack of it) to his friend would fall for it. But I was proved wrong.

Enter jugaad. I realized that the average NITKian doesn't care if the DVD writer is in his comp, or belongs to the guy next door or some black guy with a squint from the adjacent block whom he'd once seen having Maggi at Sunder's many a times. As long as there is a writer somewhere, it was sufficient. Where didn't matter. Only there did.

I had learnt my lesson and the penny pinching NITKian and his buddy continued to suck on the Chlormint blissfully, discussing about the pleasantly large number of fresher girls that year.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Dining on Diwali

Come Diwali and its celebration time. Lights, crackers, festivities and of course, food! Several arcadian creeds and tribes, make this an occasion to treat themselves to a tasty meat dinner. High on the list of favourites among these is boar meat. The scene is not very different from Obelix's Gaulish village sometimes, with the whole community feasting together on wild boars.

Year after year since my early days, I've witnessed this annual ritual of boar hunting. And this is how it's done. A large group of atleast a dozen people enter the bush with wooden staffs. Hooting and bellowing, they literally beat the hell out of the place. Raising as big a ruckus as they are capable of, they scare these shy and peace loving animals out their hiding and into the open. The fleeing beast is either shot with a rifle, trapped with a net or just brought down with a spear. The ones that are trapped using a net are captured alive, with their legs tied, as seen in the pictures here. Their throats are slit and they are allowed to bleed to their death before their meat is extracted at the meat shop.





This year again, when I had been home for Diwali, I got to witness this, should I say, barbaric act? Four boars were caught alive, of which atleast two were young nursing mothers, who hadn't even grown their trademark tusks. Their piglets supposedly disappeared back into the bush. Without their mother to nurse them, death would only be a matter of time for them. The four captured boars were unceremoniously dumped onto the back of a three wheeler and trucked away. Weighing upwards of 50kgs each, with the meat selling at a hundred rupees a kilo, each of these was easily worth several grand!



Shooting pictures of these helpless beasts struggling to free themselves, I was struck by two thoughts. One, of my own greed of making a story out these creatures' death. I don't want to justify my act by drawing parallels. The other thought that occured to me was how the food chain gave one the authority and/or justification to kill in the name of sustenance and survival. In this case however, it was apparently neither. Yet, there lay these hapless beasts before me, shocked and traumatized, waiting to meet their end.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Cover Story

This one will sound like yet another of those rags to riches story.

She was an orphan, abandoned within a week of her birth. She was however adopted, along with her twin sister, by a caring elderly couple. Her other two siblings were however not as lucky, and met a brutal death. Perhaps it was her luck ... or was it?

She's as beautiful as beautiful gets. Loving and charming as she is, her beauty would not go unnoticed for long. Not much later, in August 2008, she was splashed onto the cover pages of the highly regarded fashion tabloid Chique - a place coveted by the likes of Gisele Bündchen, and someplace where even Indian belles like Aishwarya haven't been able to make it.




[Image rollover may not occur when viewed via feeds]


For more stunning pictures of this prodigy, please follow this link.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Wayanad

Starting Point: Bangalore
Places Visited: Chembra Peak, Minamutty falls, Edakkal caves, Thirunelli Temple, Kuruva Island and Pookot Lake
Dates: 2nd - 4th October
Distance: 300kms
Conveyance:Toyota Qualis
Approx Cost: 2000 per head (for a group of six )
Album Link: http://picasaweb.google.com/vin.kamath/Wayanad

Our weekend escape to Wayanad was a welcome break from the humdrum Bangalore life, but was a tad damped as we had chosen a very busy time of the year. The tourist places we visited were teeming with people. A bit of a disappoiontment I must say. However there were umpteen other reason to revel.

We set out from Bangalore at 5am and our route took us through Mysore, Gundalpet and the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary. Roads are good and its a 5 hour drive from Bangalore. It can take almost an hour at the Karnataka - Kerala border to get the permit, but the place around the check post is worth exploring. Bamboo groves with a little, lazy stream meandering along, with loads of fresh elephant dung here and there! By the time we reached, it was noon and the sun was shining high and bright.







Edakkal Caves

This was the first of the places that we hit in Wayand. Defying all our expectations, this place was flocking with throngs of hooting Mallus, who are capable of weaving their way through a lung crushing crowd - even wearing a lungi or otherwise! The 6 of us buying tickets and getting in was an accomplishment in itself!

You must go to the Edakkal caves for two things. One, the supposedly pre-historic engravings on the cave walls and two, for a short trek. The caves are located some place between the base and the peak of this mountain and getting there is a short climb from the entrance of the cave.
The best time to go would be anytime other than noon. Check the visitng hours before making your plans though.

We stayed in a sleepy little town called Ambalavayal, which is comfortably placed with respect to many a places of interest and is a 10minute drive from the Edakkal caves. It was a decent, clean place with cheap food available (at just one hotel) nearby and so, boarding and lodging wasn't an issue.




Meenamutty Falls

This is a wonderful place to visit with ample place to take a dip and relax. Its prudent to reach the place before 4 as it gives one ample time to trek to the falls, bum about at the falls and return before dark. We happened to reach a bit late and hence had to cut short our fun. The route to the falls is circuitous but you will not need a guide unless you are mentally challenged or emotionally paranoid or just a bunch of girls [No offence meant ladies]









Karapuzha Dam

Karapuzha Dam is a surreal and mystifying place; provided that you are there at the break of dawn, before the harsh sunlight kills it all. Placid tranquility with a light mist gracefully kissing the delicate ripples on the surface of the water, as fishermen patiently cast their hook time and again breaking the water surface in silent anticipation.

The dam is a short 15min drive from Ambalavayal and the Sunshine Valley is located nearby too.


Thirunelli Temple

Located nearly 70kms from our stay and 32 kms from Mananthavady, the renowned Thirunelli temple is also known as the Sahyamala Kshetram. It is believed to be more than 3000 years old. Legend has it that this temple dedicated to lord Vishnu was built by lord Brahma (The Creator) himself - an architectural marvel with 30 granite pieces supporting the shrine and the floor paved with huge square granite blocks. [Source:http://www.naturemagics.com/kerala-ethnic-traditional/thirunelli-temple.shtm]. We hit a rough patch when we made a visit to this renowned temple. The temple was closed for renovation and we had to quell our disappointment by spending time by the stream that flows nearby. Present in the temple premises is a'Uduppi Hotel' that serves quintessential Kerala meals.



Kuruva Island
Kuruva is a small island that has been now been commercialized. My mental picture of a peaceful island with lush green trees and wet grass underneath full of chirping birds turned out to be a long shot from the reality. The island is mostly comprised of bamboo groves with ample places to swim and bath at numerous places along the banks of the island. Hand rowed boats connect the island to the mainland.

The time that we visited was atrocious in terms of the crowds present. However, if one were to visit it during any other time however, it would be a nice place to sit and relax.



Pookot Lake
Pookot lake is yet another place that you can visit in the evening. Its just about 3kms south of Vythiri. There are boats to leisurely paddle around. Again, be forewarned that the place is fairly commercialized (quite contrary to what the official website of Wayanad claims) and if you want to spend some lonely time in peace with nature, this is definitely not the place to go.
The lake is closed by 6pm and hence, make sure you get there on time. We turned up at 6 at the lake and hence had to return disappointed. Not to be undone, we headed off to nearby tea estate located beside the highway and waited for the sun to set. This is something that you have to do if you're visiting Wayanad.




Chembra Peak
This was clearly our main course and we had no plans of any compromise on this. So we made enquiries a day in advance and found out that to trek, one needs to get a permission from the Vana Samrakshana Samithi / Forest department office located within Chembra Estate - which is where the Chembra Peak (and not the Meppadi Forest department office as mentioned in most pages across the web). The estate itself very close to Meppadi town, but the base of the peak is a good 3km drive from the estate entrance. The pass office is located enroute and opens as early as 6 to accomodate the heavy flow of trekkers.
A pass costs a min of Rs.500, and is issued for 10 or less people. You are offered the services of a guide; free with the pass, so to say. The advantage of having a guide is severly handicapped, if not nullified, but the fact that our guide spoke (not surprisingly) only malayalam and some scant tamil. For that matter knowing malayalam or having someone onboard who speaks malayalam is almost a necessity when travelling through Kyarala. Despite the fact that Kyarala brags of being the most literate state in India, both the lingua franca and the 'lingua comprehendo' are limited to malayalam.
If you are to scale Chembra peak, start at the break of dawn. Or else you have another option. Just don't do it.Heart Shaped Lake - Chembra Peak
The peak is a 3 hour trek from the base. A heart shaped lake is located midway and the path from the lake to the peak is steep. So, the trek is moderately difficlut from the lake onwards, but definitely not something to fear if you are in decent shape (Remember, we are engineers working for MNCs and the most exercise we get other than tapping on our keyboard all day is at most a 10min walk). Near the heart shaped lake enroute the Chembra PeakThe climb to the top is definitely worth the effort with brilliant sceneries flanking you, right from the word go. Be sure to pack some breakfast. Cool spring water is available enroute, providing a refreshing pitting area to pause, refill and resume.Resting on the way to Chembra PeakThe trek to the peak is, in short, a challenging (not a punishing) and enjoyable trek - a great sensuous treat for trekking enthusiasts!

You can find all the pictures of Chembra here.


Mysore Dussera and back

It being dussera time, we did not miss the grandeur of Mysore dussera during our return journey. The entire city was brimming with energy and the air was thick with the celebration mood. You could feel it in the air. The excitement was tangible! The mysore palace was looking glorious as ever, drowned in a bath of a million incadescent lamps, reminding one of Mysore's glorious history and heritage. The entire crowd went "Ooo..." as the palace lighting was thrown on, on Abhinav Bindra's arrival.



We were back home by 11pm the same day - delighted, exhausted yet gratified, with a tinge of annoyance for the want of having chosen a better time of visit.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

FIR

The following play is based on a true life incident. Any non-resemblance to real life characters is purely unintentional. [All references to the police is factual. Karnataka Police Force does really exist and contrary to the common misconception it is not mythical. The 'force' however is mythical].

Characters :
1) Techie Vith a Kinetic (VK)
2) Techie with a Beard (TB)
3) Konfused Extra-terrestrial Looking Andhrite (Kela)
4) SWeater WearINg policEman (Swine)
5) SOB (SOB)
6) Constable at the door

Scene One
The scene is that of a typical police station [HAL police station, Bangalore, if that helps]. Its 9:00am in the morning and the station wears a desolate look. A constable is standing just outside the door, his .303 rifle by his side, spoiled by disuse. Another runs with a cup of tea towards the SI's cabin, trying to make up for the time lost in ogling at a girl who had come to book a complaint. A third cop wearing a sweater stands by a table in the lobby shouting directions to two others.

VK walks up to the cop wearing a sweater (Swine) with TB close behind.



VK: Umm... saar!
Swine: [With a tone of indifference] Aa!? Whats the matter !?
VK: Saar, I've come to lodge an FIR ..
TB scratches his beard.
Swine: Why? Whaat happened?
VK: Cell phone was stolen yesterday [With resentment in his tone]
Swine: Oh [Smiles]. When, where...?
VK: Yesterday when I was getting into a bus in Marathalli, this chap flicked it out of my pocket and ...
Swine: Why dint you catch him ? [Still smiling]
VK: [Not knowing what to reply] Sir! But..
Swine: And how am I to know that you own the phone? You have any proof?
TB scratches his beard.
VK: Sir you want the bill? But I don't have it here now..
Swine: Great! Then get it [Smirks]
VK: Eh!? Fine... Thank you saar.

Scene Two
The time is 6:20pm. The police station is full of people now. The constable at the door is bored to death and contemplating using the rifle once - on himself. A constable at the table is busy resolving a feud. After an extended exchange of words, a compromise is arrived at he begins to write down statements from each of the witnesses. A lady is running in and out of the SI's cabin - a cell phone in one hand and a child in the other.

Enter VK and Kela.

10 mins pass by.
VK: Maga... En sheke!
Kela: [Swallows] Mmm..

20 mins pass by.

SOB finally finishes taking down statements and turns to the two fazed teenagers standing before him. One of them is tall and has curly hair. The other looks like ... well.. Kela.

SOB: Eah!? [Taking out another pad from inside his drawer and beginning to write]
VK: Saar... I had come in the morning. My cell was stolen yesterday in Marathalli. Came to lodge an FIR. Didn't have the bill then... Now I have aa...
SOB: Ok Ok Ok. Sit down [Continuing to write]
5 mins pass by and VK realizes that he's been a moron. He neither has a pen nor a sheet of paper.
VK: Saar... Pen illa , paper illa.
SOB: Then why did you come here?
VK:[Trying to sound as polite as possible] Sorry saar.. I din't know... I'm coming here for the first time. How am I supposed to know all this...
SOB: [Turning to Kela, grinning] Look! You're friend wants to lose his cell again..
Kela: [You joke sucks man. Mine are better ]
VK: Sorry saar.. but.. what should I write...

SOB explains the format of writing a complaint letter

SOB: ... and get a xerox kaapi also.
VK: Xerox aa!? Where can I get one saar?
SOB: Its close by.. I don't have paper to give you. Don't ask me for paper.

The two techies exit.


Scene Three
Its growing dark now and the Banglore traffic has reached its glorious peak. Cows on the footpaths are zippping at enviable speeds past vehicles on the road. The whole road looks like one big parking lot, albiet that the engines are still running and the drivers are horning.
At a xerox shop 1km away from the police station...

Kela: So now we have to write a complaint letter and make a copy!?
VK: Ya.
Kela: And so we have to take a xerox copy right !?
VK: [In an irate tone] Ya!
Kela: So you'll write the letter and then take a copy, right?
VK: [Now losing his temper] DUDE!! Whats the matter with you!!!?
Kela: What...? I just wanted to be sure man..
VK: Whatever dude! Don't get on my nerves for God's sake!!
Kela: Fine man.. Why do you get so angry...


Scene Four
Back at the police station, its grown dark now. The constable at the door in now eying a sturdy branch of a nearby jackfruit tree to hang himself. He has long given up on his .303 which refused to fire despite his best attempts (which to his horror was manufactured in 1913). But a look at the size of his abdomen is only adding to his apprehension of climbing the tree. SOB continues to write sitting at the table.

Enter two techies.

VK: Saar!
SOB: Eah!? You're back? Sit down, sit down..

Techies seat themselves on the chair opposite SOB.
10mins pass by and SOB ignores the two techies and continues to scribble on.
VK: [Gingerly pushing forward two copies of the complaint letter] Saar.. If you please ... Sir its past 7 and the Vodafone outlet ...
SOB: You're in a hurry!?
VK:[Scared] Saar... Its getting late sir.. If you please...
SOB: [Now smiling] If you are in a hurry, you should not come to a police station.
VK : Yes sir! But I want my SIM blocked. So if you please will...
SOB : Fine Fine...
Kela: [I'm so hungry!]
SOB browses the complaint letter.

SOB: What is this!!?? [Pointing to a line saying '...my mobile was stolen on...']
VK: Why!? [Acting confused]
SOB: You're phone was stolen!!? Do you even know what stolen means?
VK: Yes saar, I do.
SOB: What 'do'? Do you know who he is? Do you know his name?
VK: No [WTF]
SOB: Then! How can this be stolen ... You've to write it was LOST.
VK: Sir, but it was stolen right out of my pocket.
SOB: Yo! Take this letter of yours and go away. I can't take it if you argue non-sense with me like this. Talk to the SI otherwise!
VK: [Realizing things will not go his way] Sari saar... Sorry .. I'll cut that line out and sign against it. But then will I get my cell back?
SOB: I don't know.

SOB continues to read futher.

SOB: [Clearly irritated at being defied] And what is this!? I can't take your complaint. Take this away [Refering to '... request you to locate my cell phone at the earliest...']
VK: Yes sir! I want my cell phone back... Not just my SIM blocked.
SOB: Come tomorrow. Take this back. I can't take this!
VK: But saar..
SOB: NO! You may leave...

VK: [Looking at Kela and back at the constable again] Fine saar... I'll strike that out too.. Now my complaint will only says that I lost my cell and I want the SIM blocked...
Kela: [I'm so hungry!]
SOB: Ya.
VK: Sir.. but.. my phone...
SOB: Do you want me to accept this or not?
VK: [Striking out the offending line, feeling humiliated] Here you go...
SOB signs the letter and applies a rubber stamp seal.
VK: Thank you saar.... [With a hint of sarcasm in his tone, getting up from his chair]

SOB eyes the two of them waiting for either of them to pay up. But neither does, each acting more innocent than the other.

Scene Five
The vehicle parking outside the police station is deserted. Two techies exit the police station. One of them is fuming. The other is well.. Kela.

VK: [Steaming with anger] THAT #$@#$(*$@#*$!@#$+..... !!!!
Kela: [Nodding his head] Hey, we'll have dinner at home man...

Friday, 10 October 2008

1 Missed Cell

For all that I know, I am obsessed with my gadgets. Last time its was my laptop and now its my cell.

It was lifted right out of my pocket yesterday on the way back home, when I was making my way into a jam packed BMTC bus. That unscrupulous mongrel actually escaped by a hair's bredth. When he tried the first time, I noticed him trying to reach for my pocket. But I looked at him and then dismissed it as a innocent brush against my pant in all the melee. What an irrevocable decision. Yet again, I find out how bad I am at judung people. Exactly a minute later, I am in the bus and when I reach for my cell, its gone! I did get out of the bus and try to looking around in the dark. And when that did not help, I pushed my way back into the bus and had my cell called up. It was ringing apparently, but I could not hear it ring. It was either drowned in all the noise, or the guy was not in the bus. Darn!

And I see no way in which to get it out my head at the moment. After all isn't it just a cell!?

In course of time, its very easy to get emotionally attached to ones cell (or computer) as I see it. I spend hours using it everyday and so its been a part of every event of my life. Be it the Jammu Convention when I had just bought it and loved to flaunt it or be it receiving some incredible news of my lost wallet being found at a place miles away. And now being suddenly separated from it is like losing a loved one.

I'm leaving no stone unturned to get my cell back. There seem to be not much to do other than

  • Lodging an FIR
  • Blocking my SIM and getting a replacement
  • Searching every other second hand handset shop in the area
I will try it all and my hopes are high. I have even come across instances like these describing how sending a mail to Chennai cops has helped in recovering lost cell phones. I shall give that a try as well.

In the meantime, if there is anything more which you are aware of that I can do, do let me know. Its not just another cell phone... it means a lot to me.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Filthy Rich

The incident really set me thinking. Our office bus had only just left the ITPL campus when it met with a freak accident. While pulling onto the main road, the driver took the corner a little too sharp and broke the rear view mirror of a minibus which was also pulling onto the road from the left side. Both the vehicles pulled over and a verbal duel with the usual quota of expletives and exclamations ensued. But while at least a few of the occupants of the minibus got down and backed their driver, none of us bothered to so much as get up. Shamefully, our driver was outnumbered and he had to shell out a few hundred rupees too to pay for the damages. Dejected, he got back into the bus and as he did so remarked, "ಒಬ್ಬರಿಗೂ ಮಾತಾಡಕ್ ಆಗಲ್ವಾ? ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಬಸಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂದು ಹೋದ್ರೆ ಸಾಕಗಲ್ಲ!" (Not one of you could speak up? Its not just enough if you travel in a bus)

He had a point. The occupants of the minibus were mainly daily wage labourers. They did care about the person driving them home and at least bothered to step out, be it out of curiosity or to just morally support their driver in abusing the 'perpetrator'. But on the other hand, none of us did. We just sat in the bus talking over the cell phone or listening to music, all the while aware our driver outside was facing the music all by himself himself. And that includes me. What a shame! Besides, the few hundred rupees that our driver had to shell out would definitely have been a sizable part of his salary, compared to all of us who drew 6 figure salaries. And as I sat contemplating over what appeared to be a callous attitude on our part, there were several questions that I could not quite find the answers to..


Do the well to do consider it denigrating or to put it simply, below their dignity, to deal with a prole? Take this instance itself. I mean, why the hesitation to get down from the bus and exchange words to resolve the situation? The bus driver had after all taken up the responsibility of taking us home safely. So its nothing but humanitarian to have a sense of compassion towards him in return. An argument on the lines of '.. its his duty and that is what he's being paid to do.. " is nothing short of apathetic. As to if our driver was responsible for the accident is another question altogether. We just had to be by his side when he needed it.

Is the well healed section of society but a bunch of hypocritical opportunists? Seems like a bold and unwarranted comment. But its my observation. If the city were to be flooded or a catastrophe were to strike the city any day, then take note of this. While the IT professionals and business executives only bother to drive home safe and sound as soon as possible, the aam aadmi actually tries to help his fellow citizens get home safe. Good Samaritans somehow always seem to hail from the middle class. But then you could say that the rich and the filthy rich give back to the society in a different style. In Warren Buffet style maybe. I tell you, when a blast rips through your city, a million dollars is the last thing you'd want. Humanity is what one needs then. And its compassion and consideration for fellow denizens what is needed on a day to day basis. The well to do section of the society somehow is under the misconception that signing off a lakh rupees once a year should be enough to write off anything that they owe to the society. Disappointing indeed.

And that brings me to the next point. Rules are for them to follow!? Don't the well to do think that money gives them power and politico-legal immunity? They almost think its their right to jump queues at the bank and signal lights at the intersection. Its bad enough to see someone litter the pavement before your eyes. What is even worse is when an educated someone, wearing a Alan Paine or a Levis does it. For all those lakhs spent on education, if one still lacks some basic civic sense, what can we expect from the rest? It is like he feel the grime of the city is for the proletarians to writhe in and he has nothing whatsoever to do with.


I'm don't want to generalize and equate the affluent to the arrogant. But its been the thumb rule. Its just that economic advancements inevitably bring a lot changes in one's demeanour and one's outlook towards towards the society and issues pertaining to it. Being civic is to realize this simple truth and swallow ones ego. Easier said than done. Unless you see yourself ending up in a Phone Booth like Stu Shepard for the contempt with which you treat the rest of the world, you and I are not bound to change anytime soon.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Rebirth

Today was not just another day. Sitting in her office on the 4th floor of the RMZ Infinity building in the EPIP area of Bangalore she leaned back in her swivel chair and stretched. The clock on the bottom right corner of her screen said it was still just 3:40pm. A gentle smile crossed Vasundhra's face. However hard she tried, she'd never her finish her work early. Not today. But finishing work early in office was not what made Vasundhra's day special. Manu had turned six today!

Her little angel Manu - how they loved her. Her birth marked the turning point of her and Shekhar's life. Their lives had changed for the good ever since. Manu was now their sole purpose. In fact, Vasundhara had spent the whole of last weekend trying to find a gift for Manu. A perfect birthday gift that would delight her daughter on the occasion of her 6th birthday. As was the family custom, only the first five birthdays were celebrated ceremoniously. So she had been very careful while choosing a gift. After spending the whole day in Jayanagar's 4th block area, she finally managed to find it...the perfect gift! It was a beauteous red frock with yellow flowers sprinkled all over. The bottom was a brilliant verdant green studded with birds, rabbits and snails running around in gay abandon. The moment she has caught sight of the dress, the mother in her knew that the search had ended. The Rs.799/- tag had not deterred her, for there was nothing more precious to her than her Manu.

Manu was a precocious child. Unlike other kids of her age, let alone demand, she didn't even expect any gifts from her parents. She knew she would be turning six and so unlike the previous five birthdays, this time there would be no ceremony. Not that she could recall any of those, but she was now mature enough to realize it. So on the morning of her birthday, she was overjoyed when amma presented her with a gorgeous red frock. The animals and flowers instantly reminded her of the summers she spent with her cousins out in the country in Kollur. She could not wait to wear it. Had it been some other day, Vasundhara would have rebuked her with a firm "No". But today, there was nothing more that she wanted than to see Manu happy. So after packing her lunch-box, helping her wear her shoes and dabbing on some fragrant talcum powder, she kissed her a gentle goodbye on the forehead and watched as Manu stormed out through the front door, eager to show all her friends her new frock. There are some moments that make being a mother so gratifying that all the pains and troubles are worth this one moment. She wiped the tear from the corner of her eye with the pallu of her saree as she turned back to the kitchen.


Stepping out onto the street below, she made a beeline for the bus-stop. It was early March and the heat was oppressive. The rains had not yet showered their blessings on Bengaluru. She boarded a 335E and made herself comfortable by the window of the second seat on the left, behind the driver. This was one of the rewards of getting out early. The buses were almost empty and the traffic sparse, by Bengaluru standards that is. She began to ponder over how she could surprise Manu. Everyday, Manu came back from school at 5:30 and religiously settled down on the sofa to watch Tom and Jerry on Cartoon Network or Takeshi's Castle on Pogo. That was one thing she was very finicky about. Anything else she could compromise. And if you gave her a packet of potato chips, and she would as grateful as a bear being fed a potful of honey. Vasundhara was shaken back to reality from her reverie when the bus pulled into platform 17 in Majestic. It had taken her only an hour and her wrist watched now told it was 4:03pm. The golden plated watch had been a anniversary gift from Shekhar. Without wasting time she headed to one of the shops adjacent to platform 1 and bought a packet of MTR Instant Gulam Jamun Mix. Not wanting to waste anymore time, she got out of the bus-stand and flagged an autorickshaw and half asked the driver "Rajajinagar 6th blocku!?". She got a nonchalant nod lacking even the slightest hint of courtesy.

As the auto finally swerved around the last bend, she looked up from her cellphone. She was mildly surprised to find a crowd of twenty odd men huddled together, blocking the traffic. Apparently there had been some incident and people were milling in to have their cut of the action. Not wanting to waste time waiting for the traffic to clear, she asked the driver to pull over. She paid the auto driver the fare and stepped down onto the pavement. It was not uncommon to see such huddles, but it was not common either. It usually involved a freak accident involving two short tempered commuters, each one trying to blame the other in an attempt to bilk. Unable to contain her curiosity Vasundhara told herself that a little peek would do no harm. After all, she still had an hour to spare and preparing gulab jamun would not take more than 45minutes. Keeping her reservations, she tried to see what best that she could.

The moments that followed were pure unadulterated panic and sheer terror. A chill ran down her spine raising the hair on the back of her neck. Her legs gave away and she collapsed right onto the road. Her mind went blank and her throat went dry. Her heart throbbed. The pain in her chest was searing. Her tongue tasted bitterness. She had managed to catch a glimpse of the body lying on the road, now soaked in crimson blood, its head mangled beyond recognition. But the red frock and the yellow flowers could not have been mistaken for anything else. A placid, almost memorable evening had unforgivably transformed into a incubus. Vasundhra had lost all her senses. She was lying limply on the road contrite, her cellphone lying on one side and her velvet bag on the other. It was almost as if rigor mortis had set in. She had no sense of time or space. Few people bothered to notice her. Their minds fed by innumerous vapid Kannada movies, they found the grisly sight more captivating.
The delicate bubble that she and Shekhar had nurtured all these years had burst in an instant without a trace. The agony overshadowed the pain of labour. Regaining her sense, Vasundhara turned away from the unsightly scene in a desperate attempt to farther herself from the truth - to find a puzzled yet thoroughly amused Manu standing before her, her velvet vanity bag slung over one shoulder almost reaching down to the road, absorbed in a game of Snake on her cellphone.

There are some moments that make being a mother so gratifying that all the pains and troubles are worth this one moment.

Friday, 22 August 2008

iPhone(y)

What do you call a bunch of guys who spend the night of 21st August 2008 at a consumer electronics outlet trying to get their hands on a 3G 'smart' device for over INR 31,000 that does not let you so much as

  • Forward a text message
  • Single button speed dial
  • Copy-paste a line of text
  • Send an SMS to multiple recipients
  • Listen to FM Radio
  • Record video
  • Send MMS
  • Set an mp3 track as your ringtone
  • Share files over bluetooth
  • Support Java or Flash
  • Support voice dialing
  • Change your cell phone operator
  • Use it as a wireless modem (when you are shelling out by the thousands every month)
I don't care what you call them. But I call them JERKS.

For all the hype and hoopla surrounding it, the apple iPhone is nothing short of a white elephant. Over priced and over hyped, its just not what the Indian market wants. If you're gonna tell me to look at the initial sales figures that should be out in a weeks time, let me tell you. All the initial sales that it is raking in are from the media hype and the popularity of it being an Apple phone. If one were to consider the functionality keeping value for money in prespective, a Nokia 1200 would fare much much better. Its reported that over 2 lakh consumers have registered for the iPhone already. But what they don't tell you was the figures are from the registrations that began way before the prices were announced.


Imagine having to turn to i-tunes for even trivial things like a petty currency converter. Isn't that just outrageous, when there are thousands of wonderful free java applications out there? What is even worse is you cannot connect to iTunes through your iPhone. You need a mac or a PC to do that. God! Thanks to Google, iPhone now has atleast has an IM client. And in the worst case, (if were still using it for the sole reason of having spent a fortune on it) if you had to change the battery after a year, you can't just do it by yourself. Yet again, get down on your knees and ask Apple to do it for you. And if you are still convinced that you want to get one, go surrender yourself into servility. God help you.

So Ms. Swathi, in case you're thinking that you've just made an achievement of a lifetime by buying the first iPhone, well... I'm sorry. I think you're just a nitwit.

Getting ripped off has never been this easy*...


PS: There can be no better personification of the saying ಜನ ಮರುಳೋ ಜಾತ್ರೆ ಮರುಳೋ

*Conditions Apply

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Flower Show at Lalbagh

Here is glimpse of Lalbagh's ravishing annual flower show, held around the days of I-day. Vibrant and vivid, I say there are more colours here than what even the human eye can percieve.





You can view individual pictures of the collage, just by clicking on them above. Isn't that just brilliant!? You can mouse over the glogster.com logo on the right hand top corner to view the embed in full size.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Your 74663 is smarter than 968 think

Well, if you Sending 8398 63772437 shouldn't be about hammering out the ABCs. It should be about 78425 and easy communication.

With T9 Text Input, you can stop 8277464 out the 5388377 and start getting out the 6377243. T9 is predictive text 76389273 that makes it faster and easier to type on small 662453 devices.

Pre-loaded with thousands of words, emoticons, and punctuation, T9 77334287 what you want to say as you type. If you type in a word T9 doesn't recognize, T9 532767 it and recognizes it next time. It's a text experience that gets 327837 every time.


Published verbatim from http://www.t9.com [Title Included]

Friday, 1 August 2008

Spice up you Gtalk

Here are some little known/ unknown tricks for all you Gtalk users out there. You'd know many of them, but there are lots more that you don't too..


Text Formatting:
1) Bold: Enclosing text within asterisks (*) makes it appear in bold face.
So the next time, try *GTH !!* instead!
2) Italics: Enclosing text with underscores(_) italicizes the text.
Ergo '_Abbey sale_' would be easier to comprehend than just 'Abbey sale'!

Shortcuts:
Here is a list of really handy shortcuts.
  • Windows + ESC: Open Google Talk (if it's minimized, or in the tray)
  • ALT + ESC: Minimize the current window
  • ESC: Close the current window
  • TAB: Switch between multiple chat windows
  • CTRL + I: Same as TAB
  • SHIFT + TAB: Same as TAB but in reverse order
  • CTRL + TAB: Same as SHIFT + TAB
  • CTRL + Mousewheel up/down: Change the font-size in the typing window
  • F9: Open Gmail to send an email to your friend
  • F11: Start a call with your friend
  • F12: Stop the current call
Mozilla firefox addon:
In case you'd prefer to chat from your browser (read Firefox) itself (because you are either too lazy to login into gmail just to chat or you cant install Gtalk on your office computer) then grag the gTalk Sidebar addon. This nifty little fellow launches as a sidebar (by pressing Alt+g) in the browser window itself and lets you chat conveniently (and clandestinely). Shortcuts for the chat window tabs are the same as those of Firefox. Having Google Toolbar makes signing in that much more hassle free.

Themes:
There are a number of themes and addons available out there. Mytheme is the one that I use and really love using! It lets you change the chat window background and has got tons of really cute and adorable smileys.[Don't forget to check out all possible smileys listed in the help file]
Extended Talk is another addon worth trying. It offers a wide gamut of features as compared to Mytheme. Worth a specific mention is the (independent) control of chat and main window transparency(of course, at the cost of higher CPU usage) which dilly dalliers in office will find really handy.

Winamp 5.5 'Now Playing' hack:
In case you do use Winamp 5.5x and find that Google Talk hangs every time you set your status to 'Show current music track', then there is an easy fix. It has been reported as a bug and an easy fix has also been suggested. Just go to your winamp installation folder (C:\Program Files\Winamp\ by default) and create a file named "winamp.m3u" (For nubes: Create a new text document and rename it). Restart Gtalk and lo and behold.. You're ready to sport your current track!

If there is more you want to know from me, just drop me a comment. And in case you are hungry for more, I suggest you look up the Google Talk Fan Site.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Bombs Away

Its been like no other week.. News of bombs exploding and being defused have taken over the headlines, drowning everything else to the background. Starting with blasts in Bangalore on Friday, news is pouring in from Ahmadabad and Surat now. Unlike any of the previous blasts, this time around things have not been the same. There is something amiss and is really worth pondering over.

Carnage has NOT been the intent here.
Lets start with the Bangalore blasts. The bombs were clearly not packed to kill and were set off during the early afternoon. In their wake, the 7 blasts left just 2 dead but sent the city into a state of panic. Nerves are yet to settle. This is evident from the fact that even 5 days later today, schools, business units and malls are ready to shut down at the drop of a hat; just to be safe. The 'terrorists' chose to not kill. Had they wanted, the toll could have been in the hundreds much like the recent May 13 Jaipur blast or the Hyderabad and Delhi blasts preceding that. Despicable as they are, these jehadists could have placed the explosives at crowded areas and set them off in close succession (as was the case of 7/11 Mumbai blasts) during peak hours. But they just did not. Why?(As soon as I heard the news on Friday when in office, it occurred to me that the blasts could be just decoys to get people panicky and out onto streets, when a real set of blasts would blow the unsuspecting commuters to smithereens at major traffic junctions! How glad I was that it didn't happen).

Explanation for this exception was given as - SIMI wanted to prove that they are crippled and are still fully potent and can 'hit on will', even after the arrest of their heads (Nagori et al) this May. But that does not answer the question as to why they chose to not kill. Brash as it may sound, they could have made a bolder statement by claiming numerous lives and drawing world attention.

The toll was definitely higher in case of Ahmadabad, but Surat? 18 live bombs recovered and not a single one went off!? Its hard to digest. These mischievous outfits are known for their meticulous planning and they could definitely not have bungled up this badly. A pointer to this is the fact that no attempt was made to conceal the bombs. Instead they were left hanging from a tree (like the one behind Matavadi police outpost in the Varacha area), hoisted atop a billboard or left at other conspicuous places. The reason for the massive failure has been attributed to faulty wiring of ICs (this is the first time ICs have been used). Again, it seems highly unlikely to me. An explosive recovered from Ahmadabad had a legend 'No. 23' suggesting that it was manufactured in batches from an organised establishment as against a basement or garage.

One plausible explanation to all these anomalies is that I
slamist jihadis are making themselves a part of the election discourse in India.[See this]. Its more sinister and deep rooted than it appears. And the fact that these gruesome activities are targeted at BJP run states is definitely not a co-incidence. I'd not want to thrash our crime branch and intelligence left and right on their failure. When major mishaps are averted, they don't garner much media attention or retentivity in the volatile public memory. But when it comes to incidents like these that could not be stopped, we refuse to forgive them. I'm not saying that you give them a clean chit. All I'm trying to say is that mistakes do happen and they too have their share of problems[See this].

So what is it that they these malcontent radicals trying to prove? That 'they are capable of hitting anytime, anywhere'? All Muslim organizations have 'condemned the dastardly serial blasts'... [Thanks guys.. We could not have asked for more] Pardon my sarcasm, but if they really were concerned, with the sort of network and organizational complexity they have within their community, I feel a sincere cooperation with the authorities would have let us nip these malevolent units years earlier and not let them grow into the juggernaut they are today. I'd just like to say, "Its still not late you guys, wake up and do the needful!!"

Friday, 18 July 2008

Blogs from Bollywood

First it was SRK. Then BigB and the all too entertaining Lalu joined in. Now its Aamir and supposedly even Abhishek. I couldn't have cared less. First they make news by announcing that they are blogging, sending the whole blogosphere into a searching frenzy, with the media not far behind. And then not much later you hear reports of blog abuse and a string of allegations and apologies/denials flying back and forth. Lalu's blog takes the shape of a handy complaint box and Amitabh's finding it hard to moderate and maintain his.

Take for example Amitabh Bachchan's blog. The design is hideous to say the least. From what I gathered, not many of the visitors even bother to read what has been posted. Not that the litter he sends at ungodly hours is worth reading. But frankly, the hundreds of comments are what captured my attention more than what he had to say. Its like people have been given a self addressed letter from their idol himself. So the comments contain everything from praises, blessing and love messages to suggestions of movie scripts and biodatas! Have a look..
#1
HI……….
Dear sir
i want meat you coz you know..? you are vry mch possitive and kindly personality [Hey boss! KFC's prtty dessent... Try it]

#2
Respected sir,
My self pardeep bhardwaj iam frm manali. I met u in manali at span resort when u was there at shooting of shoe bite. I met u in ur room through ur friend nana markovich. She was very nice to me and help me a lot in meeting with u. Sir, i am the same guy who had given u lord ganesha for good luck. As u kown that i am true devotee of lord ganesha and lord vishnu. Sir, u had promised me that we will meet once again but unfortunately some pupil had hit ur house and u have to rush to ur house frm shimla. I want to request u something that i could’nt do on that day. Please sir i had given this i-d specially frm nana. She said that know u can mail him directly and tell him ur request. I want to request u that i want to be the part of ur movie world. I got a belive that one day i can also be the good actor of silver screen. please help me out. waiting for ur reply.
Jai ganesha [I got another belive dude.. Try giving Laksmi in next time]


#3
media is using as for mivies like black/sarakar raj, now using as blogger, which media is doing i know this, how much u r making money, who is paying u for blogger i want to know that media with worm regards [No cimments!]


#4
i had information that you had taken around 125 crores for register in bigadda [So you think bigadda is worth 125 crore? Wonderful!]


#5
Mr. B, you didn’t answer my question about The Last Lear and why it has only been screened at festivals and not released for the general public, but it’s all good considering you probably have a ton of posts to reply to. My next question is regarding the... [Keep asking, keep asking.. The more the merrier]


#6
SRK IS SUCH A GREAT IDIOT .HE DO NOT YHAT TO WHOM HE IS COMPARING HIM SELF .HE IS A GREAT BASTERED . [Ya.. that son of a beach...]


#7
HI, AMIT JEEEEEEEE . I M A HUGE FAN OF YOUR’S .[Hey try the bold and italics too dude!]


#8
sirji
aapka reply
kaha dekhuuuuuuuuuu [ghar aake dekh lo beta]



The media is happy. The icons are getting all the adulation that they cannot live without. The fans are in blissful revelry. As long as the comments keep pouring in, I'm guaranteed my share of entertainment. Why complain. Turn up the volume... Let the party continue!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Nostalgia

Remember the days when you switched on the telly to find Pt Bhimsen Joshi singing Mile Sur Mera Tumhara. Or when you religiously tuned in at 9:00pm on Sunday nights to let Siddharth Kak and Renuka Shahane take you along to places far and wide in Amul Surabhi. And how can we forget Swami's furtive efforts to make good his escape from home and school alike, to play cricket with his MCC! Here are some nostalgic tunes which are bound to remind you of those good old days and Doordarshan. You can find the tracks here for download.

Baje Sargam
Mile Sur
Malgudi Days
The Sword of Tipu Sultan
Mahabharath - Karmanye
Surabhi

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The 3 mistakes on my keyboard

Ever wondered what the SysRq, Scroll Lk and Break keys near the top right corner are for and if they do serve any purpose at all? The simple answer is they are indeed obsolete. They however continue to remain on the keyboard because keyboard manufactures never saw the need to vacate these veteran keyboard tenants. Some of the keyboards today however have done away with them. But why are they there in the first case are you wondering? Here's why.

Sys Rq: Initially designed as a software interrupt which could bypass the OS and directly interact with the BIOS (the origins can be traced to the antique IBM 3270 machines) to facilitate multi-tasking, the interrupt was left largely unutilized by subsequent operating systems . Keyboards today don't even write anything to the keyboard buffer when this key is pressed. So it should not be long before Print Screen has the whole key all to itself!

Scroll Lk: The scroll lock was introduced in the early days of computing when the screen was limited to 25 rows of 80 character each. As you can imagine, it would have served as a modifier key (akin to Shift and Ctrl) for the arrow keys letting you either move along a line of text or scroll through screen-full of insipid text. Surprisingly however, MS Excel still supports its functionality by locking the cursor to the current cell when you use the arrow keys with the scroll lock turned on. [That should somehow make up for the lack lustre performance, huh!]. According to sources on the net the scroll lock purportedly prevents text from scrolling in command line sessions in Linux. [At least it didn't work when I tried it on the command line in Solaris]

Break: As against its other two neighbours, the break key still retains it uses, but the utility of its fellow occupant, Pause is dubious. Its origin can be traced back to the days of telegraphic communication when a constantly ON line meant the line was up and working and any break (or pause) in line acted as an interrupt notifying the operator at the receiving end of an impending transmission (or in rare cases, a break/fault in the line). While Ctrl+Break halts the execution of many a compilers like TC, Pause is just as wasted as its other two neighbours with its use limited to DOS. But hey! One cool thing is Windows+Break brings up the system properties in Windoze!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Reflection

Amno: So you call it life...?
Bozo: Well, whats the problem? At the end of the day it pays well..
Amno: Duh!
Bozo: Er..?
Amno: How's your routine different from a washing machine..
Bozo: I choose what to do when I want.. Hey wait!
Amno: [Grinnn]

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Altruism... Still Alive

They are a dying breed of people. But they do still exist... A few maybe.

I lost my purse when my pocket was picked at New Delhi Railway Station, on the way back from our great North Indian trip. Given my situation, imagine receiving this message from an unknown number...

Mr. Vinayak, I have found ur lost papers, driving license etc.
Sandeep Dhingra
011233....

Well, I didn't quite know how to react. So hard it was to believe that somebody could have taken the trouble to actually contact me, that I was more skeptical than relieved! Not knowing quite what to expect, I called up the number and spoke to this Good Samaritan. He sounded like a man in his 40s; polite and extremely humble. He said that a friend of his found the contents of my purse at Pahadganj station and on finding my ID he messaged me. Whats more, he himself suggested sending my stuff to me by courier. I told him I would in no way be able to repay the favour he was doing me, monetary and otherwise. For more than my ID card, license, ATM card or anything else, there were some priceless hand written letters in them which were of immense sentimental meaning to me. I called him back a second time to make sure that he would leave his address on the cover. Atleast, I could do whatever little I can to express my gratitude.

Having known a selfless man like him going out of his way to help a complete stranger, I swore I'd be one such person myself. Will you be one?

Saturday, 31 May 2008

This and That

Never really liked xkcd strips, but I could not resist publishing this strip. Tells you pretty much how a blogger's mind works...


Lots more strips to browse through if you're nothing better to do.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Himalayan Life

During the course of our Himalayan trek, we came across some really splendiferous flora. Here's a quick glimpse into some of it. My thanks to Ajay for getting his cam along and shooting most of these pics.



You can find pics of the trek here.