Thursday, December 30, 2004

All in the bag - Finally

Janjira is an breathtking fort. Inside, it isn't that well maintained. Vandalised more by the dismal restoration efforts of the Archeological department than tourists carving love messages and the people who used to stay here till a few decades ago.

Its bang in the middle of the sea (like so many other forts in Alibag district - Padmadurg and Colaba fort). You have to take boats with sails from Rajapuri. It is quite an experience to ride these boats - no hum of the engines, just the wind whistling through the sails, the water rustling restlessly against the sides, the boatsmen attuned to the slightest changes in the wind pattern and quickly unfurling, rotating and furling the sails up again. The fort has 3 large tanks and could be self-sufficient for about 3-4 months. Legend goes that it was also linked to the village through an underground tunnel. Its quite fascinating to know that this mammoth undertaking took 22 years to build, is build over 22 acres and has 22 buruj (watch towers). Three of the cannons ('Kalal Bangadi', 'Chavari' and 'Landa Kasam' are so large, they could run through any enemy force with ease. Shivaji and later Sambhaji couldn't win over Janjira in spite of repeated expeditions. In fact, Kalal Bangadi, the largest was responsible for the fatal damage to Padmadurg, few kms northwest of Janjira, after which Sambhaji ran away from the fort.

Next day was Datta Jayanti and we went to Datta Mandir of Chaul early in the morning. Of course, whole Konkan had turned up at 6 am. But what made it worse that the facilties and management was so poor. No control over the queue and the temple is hardly big enough to accomodate such a big rush. Add to the fact that, the morning prayers had begun and it was all failed Indian Idols, shrieking from the top of their lungs. Prayers over, bhajans start. More bhajans and devotional songs. And then some more. It was so bad (the howling) that the sound system stopped functioning. Thankfully. We took darshan and scooted.

From there we had to drive north towards Mumbai. So a brief halt at Alibag sea front overlooking the Colaba fort. It is unreachable during high tide, but one can walk to it during a low. Later, Kihim beach. Kihim is another quite spectacular beach, but people are not made aware of its dangers. Not that it has an unsafe slope or the current is strong. Just that, it has rocks along the bed which you don't see during high tide. These are no smooth rocks. They are the ones one which a type of shell sticks itself to and grows. So they are sharp and cut through like a knife. There is no sign to tell people that and it was like people going in for fun and coming out of a battlezone, with cuts and bruises. Even the locals don't warn you. They just sell Band-Aids.

Another sumptuous meal and a visit to Karmarkar Shilpalay (very good) later, we were back to our Karmabhumi - Mumbai.

Some sour notes - Need a proper garbage disposal system in interior villages, as locals tend to dump stuff on the beach. Not a big problem now, but once Konkan becomes a tourist hotspot, it would turn into an eco nightmare.

Absence of good travelogues and local maps sure makes things a bit difficult.

We (as govt. channel or just as visitors) need some education on how to respect our monuments and our history. History isnt just our past. It's our identity.

Dad, mom should learn to chill, rather than be always on the watch for imminent danger.

I should be less demanding of them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

All in the bag -Part 2

Birla Temple at Salav, is built next to an Ispat plant along the creek. So, that takes away the beauty of the location a bit. But otherwise, it is quite spectacular - it is perched on a hill top, carved out of marble, with landscaped gardens and fountains all over.

Next day, first a halt at another of dad's ex-collegue, Phirphire. Lovely place right amongst palm and coconut trees. Its their ancestral home and the family have ditched Mumbai for a spacious and beautiful 3000 sq ft bungalow few km from Alibag (Agrav). Living off pension and land is not such a bad idea, after all. Only problem is that there is no electricity for hours on end.

About 11.00 am, we were off to Murud. Right on the way is Kashid beach. The approach road to the beach is through ghats and from the moutain top, you can see the whole crescent of the tree-dotted silver beach, strectching endlessly. The water was cool and refreshing, but as ususal dad and mom played no sport and refused to join in the fun.
Which was just as well.

All that splashing around certainly made me very hungry. So, we halted at Murud for a typical Konkan meal of fish, prawns, chicken, rice and sol kadi. The bhakri was of rice, very delicate and almost melted in the mouth. The location was picture perfect- tables laid out overlooking the sparkling beach front, shaded with coconut fronds, fishing boats anchored along the shore. Generally, you need to shell out lot of dough to be part of such indulgence. But sometimes, good things do come cheap.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Tsunami Tragedy

Awesome links by Utterlyboring

All in the bag- Part 1

Was back yesterday evening from Alibag. Actually, we were supposed to stay at Govt rest house, courtesy dad. But, he just dispenses advice and sermons, not follow it ("Do things on time"). He didnt, so at the last moment, we had to ask my grandfather (mom's uncle). He has a place there and finally, it turned out a far better option.

We went on Friday, picked up the key from his office in Alibag and went straight to his bungalow in Nagaon. He and his family doesnt use it too often, so its come to a bit of neglect, esp the garden. Mango and conconut trees could do with a bit of watering. Still the location is quite good in terms of connectivity to various places around Alibag and so no reason to complain.

After a brief siesta, and a halt at grandfather's factory, we were off to meet dad's friend. Unfortunately, he was away coz of Yatra (major fair around the Datta Jayanti festival) and we just met the family. The village was quite off road and it was amusing to see all the women folk busy at some really strenuous jobs - collecting firewood, fetching water in three matkas at a time and of course the house hold chores, while the men busy gossiping at village centres and watching kids play. May be some men, were working on the farm and elsewhere. But I didnt see any!

Then we went to Revdanda, which is some 20 kms south of Alibag. The old village was entirely inside a fort called Aagarkot which sprawls upto the sea shore. Story goes that it was built by the Portugese and has some inter-connected tunnels, though of course, much of that is out of bounds or existence. The beach is quite pristine and un-touristy. It was past dusk then and we were almost the only people on the beach. That turned to be a big mistake.

Not knowing the road to the beach, we had got the car some way onto the beach. Now, it was time to go back and with all the members in the car, I revved it up. Stuck!! More race, just made it to nosedive into the sand. It was time to panic. There was no one around for help. The family got behind to push and then one more guy joined in. I could smell the tyres burning as if on a race track, but the car was an ostrich on Fear Factor. We dumped anything that we could find underneath the car - coconut husks, sticks, small rocks - to give something for it to hold on when kickstarted. Finally realising that there was no point in doing the obvious - to try to drive fowardds, I put it in reverse gear. Fortunately it was out of the grave the front tyres had dug ( while spraying sand on the folks pushing the car).

Now, came the crucial gambit. We needed for the sand to hold, so we started laying a path with the sea shrubs, sticks, the shredded husks, more rocks, anything that we could feel with our hands. It was now very dark, you see. I also found a rock about a foot long, which was flat on one face. I dug up the sand more and managed to lay it just so in front of the right tyre.

Wrooom.. Wroom!! Now, was the climax. Would our efforts pay off or would we be left there fending off for the night? I revved the car and let go. The wheels were spinning furiously, but managed to stick on the material fed to it. Especially, the right wheel rolled swiftly over the rock and the momentum ensured that the car followed through. I silently let out a sigh of relief. We were on solid ground.

It was a lesson learnt the hard away. Especially amazing is the fact, just some while ago, we had managed to drive to the beach without a hitch. What made the sand go quick in such a short span?

Suffice to say, that it was a lucky escape. And to give our thanks to the Almighty, we drove to Birla Temple at Salav.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Run while I can...

1/2 marathon training is coming along quite well. I was afraid my knee would give way, as has suffered an awful hamstring injury during my Harishchandragad trek. Thankfully, it is holding up well. I also had a slight back and neck problem a couple of years back. Esp with the neck, it would recur once a month and I would be a funny sight, pivoting my whole body around, instead of just turning my neck around, for simple tasks. All of these did trouble me for a long time though.

Thankfully, the body still retains self-healing abilities and the injuries have disappeared over time.

Still, for a rookie like me, 21.097 might as well be without the decimal. It remains a herculean task. That's what stops me from getting complacent. In training, haven't yet exceeded 7 km. The target is certainly not hop, skip and jump away

Again tomorrow, I am off to Alibag, so break from training for 2 days atleast. And then few days later, it's year end bash in the car park - my jogging haunt. So, looks like training going for a toss this year end. Well...

Meanwhile, the world's smallest baby was born some time back, along with her slightly larger twin. I suppose the father could put her in his shirt pocket while carrying her around.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Tyrovial Pursuit

I need to give an explanation as to why the name "A Tyrovial Pursuit". What does google say tyrovial is?. Well, that tyrovial doesnt exist.

I came across this word in IITM, when I was attending a quiz to welcome all the freshers. Of course, as is true with most IIT events, there were hardly any Mtechs (matkas as the JEE qualified would say). The quiz master told one funda that they follow in quizzes - that they should be guessable. Now, you have to attend an IIT quiz to understand what guessable stands for. You have the most bizzare questions about the most obscure fields of arts, science, history, whatever. Like... who composed Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Mozart), connect Silence of the Lambs and Salvador Dali ("Salvador Dali was a cannibal and..." No!! You silly, the poster of the movie is inspired by one of his paintings), well anything and everything between big bang and the big kiss (Kareena-Shahid) that you or any sane person would miss (as in not remember). But never any straight forward GK questions. Like... Which is the biggest star in the known universe that doesnt throw an attitude? (not quite but you get the picture)

So, the guy said that this was such a quiz - guessable. Going by any typical IIT quizzer's forte - trivia, the quiz should be called trivial pursuit - a very well known phrase. But since, we were all newbies there and probably, would be found majorly wanting, we were the tyros. Hence Tyrovial Pursuit.

Now, I quite like the word tyrovial coz it conveys the essence so perfectly. A Tyrovial Pursuit would be an activity taken with passion and enthusiasm, but where you may not be the most adept. But you like and enjoy it and that's why you do it. Only after you do it over and over, do you get hang of it.

I am tyring to a get a hang of it.

Monday, December 20, 2004

What's brewing?

A bit under the weather lately. The smog so thick and heavy, it hardly lifts. So, can't help but, be under the weather.

Haven't trained for the last 3 days, coz of the cold. The throat feels like sand paper and the nose is a traffic jam. Well, just hope I can manage a jog in the (car) park this evening.

Yesterday was data model final review. Went Ok, except it just took too long (we havent heard the final word on it yet) and missed another wedding. Ameya's.

Today doesnt look that bright as well. Just got a cup of coffee, but the cup was leaking (and so was the coffee!) and now, my trouser has spots. Tried to wash the coffee stains, but coffee sure knows how to leave its marks behind. Never mind.

Friday, December 17, 2004

State of disappointment, I'm afraid

Crichton, is out with his new book, The State of Fear. Have been reading a lot about the book and Crichton, as a result.

I am actually in awe of Crichton. A graduate in medicine, he is 62 years old, looks 30, almost 7 feet tall and has done it all - written best sellers (most made into blockbuster movies), produced award winning TV series (ER), directed movies and won accolades for many more things.

I have always liked his attention to detail and his ability to even make the most unbelievable hypothesis into a certain fact. I have read Jurassic Park, Lost World (I thought the book was far better than JP and both movies), and Timeline and they were excellent reads. His research and depth of knowledge is truly amazing. In Timeline, he talks of teleportation and quantum computation, and that theory certainly needs to be paid some heed. At least it caught my fancy then

Anyway, State of Fear talks about how Global Warming is all a hogwash started by eco-terrorists for their own personal gain. In spite of his right leanings and even though, the threat to the environment cannot be dismissed, Crichton certainly has a point or two about alarmists coming up with "End is nigh" theories that are not based in science. He talks about how most predictions are completely meaningless. This is certainly a polished speech as his proof.

I suppose we need to take everything in this world with a pinch of salt (and there's enough of it for everyone's pinch)

Talking about things closer home, Swades has turned out to be a big disappointment (reviewers say). I was keenly tracking the progress of this movie and hoped that it would fare well. Here was a movie that wasnt going to go over the top with all the typical Hindi flim ingredients - jingoism, sabhyataa, sanskriti, Gaajar kaa halwaa, sarson ke khet, loud humour, disjointed storylines. Well, its isnt but then, it doesnt make a positive film viewing experience either. Sigh! Whats wrong with Bollywood writers and directors. Why cant they come up with a film that one can sit and enjoy or 2 1/2-3 hours? How difficult can that be, when you spend 30 crores on your film.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Music to one of the otorhinolaryngological organs

Today, I learn a new word. When I first read the word - otorhinolaryngological, the context made me think of something wonderfully unreachable. It still remains unpronounciable. On googling, found that thankfully, it pertains to something far simpler. It relates to study of eyes, nose and throat. Duh!

Nevertheless, I think, Tom Wolfe deserves the award.

Anyway, just heard this song, Wherever you will go by The Calling. Actually, had heard strains of it earlier (I think it plays in Love Actually trailers), but this time, on a certain recommendation, gave it a twice over. I would recommend it highly.

If you are a music freak, you ought to be aware of all the mp3 blogs out there. Earlier, it was just the music sites, I would browse - like mp3shits (read mp3s hits), mp3dimension, but these started getting increasingly erratic and irritating, hence, haven’t ventured there for a long time. Mp3 blogs are blogs with links to directly download mp3. Normally, these sites dont host the songs (how many blogs can allow so much space). But the bloggers know where the downloads are available and they just link to the right page/song. Most of the blogs are dedicated to just one type of music, and are about highly personal tastes. Still there are gems out there that have universal appeal. Won’t it be good to have a consolidated list of all such blogs? Well, take heart, there is. br>

My personal favorite is open dir. No frills mp3 download. What more can you ask for? A Hindi mp3 aggregator, you say!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Analyze this

Increasingly, I am getting this worm (kidA)to write about certain things in today's world that bug me (who gets prize for mentioning insect synonyms thrice in one line?). However, cant seem to get a decent flow, structure and conviction to my arguments.

One of them, is about how the complete hold and propagation of English is killing our identity (How totally ironical that I express this in English). How increasingly, it is getting difficult to express complex thoughts (some of which may lead to new breakthroughs - not actual innovations, just new way of looking at things) in our mother tongue. Esp. I believe, Indians continue to be conservative and dogmatic in reasoning, not only by nature, but also because most havent mastered a single language enough to bring out any path-breaking thought and worse, even if we do, we are not able to express it clearly and convincely

I know, I know, its difficult for me (victim of the Dual regime, myself)to convince you. But this argument holds some water. Well, until, I succeed in finding it, you are spared of a lengthy discourse about the "Harms of Dual Language Policy"

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Leftover days

Mom and sis are away on a mini tirth yatra. Actually they are visiting Asthavinayak along with my aunts (all 4 of them), 2 uncles, and 2 cousins. Quite a racket, isnt it. So, that has me and dad alone at home for 2 days. We had to make do with left-over chicken and rice.

Anyway, today, she will be back, so no more stale food.

Today is also delivery of the data model, before it is sent for final onsite review. So, quite busy with that as well.

Still have to find some time for the Mumbai marathon. Actually I am going to run the half marathon, but lets just skip the half part, while telling people. The half marathon is 21.097 kms. So, its still not any easy task. I started practising since this Monday. I get a good feeling about this, because yesterday ran approx 5 kms (ofcourse stopping/walking for a while), but still no major cramping or muscle ache. Still, the practice has to be continuous and focused.

Let's hope for the best!!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Marriage season

Yesterday, was Vishal's wedding. Another grand affair. Another bachelor lost to the diktats of societal norms. Sigh! Anyway it was fun to meet all the gang again. With the number of weddings lined up, it looks like there's going to more such meeting

Vishal was the first amongst the US gone who decided to come back to India for good. Looks like the trend is catching up, all over India

Have some pics of the wedding, but yet to download them. Meawhile here is a beautiful picture that I took during my trip to my native village, Sawantwadi.

 The gate on the left hand side is entrance to the family home there. To the left of where I am standing, my uncle's home.

Friday, December 10, 2004

i.e. Expose'

Indian Express continues to show the way for other newspapers, by unrelenting investigation and analysis about really about breaking problems plaguing India and the mind-numbing insensitivity with which polticians like Dharam Singh try to ignore/hide them. Just look at this.

Just look at the silly reasons for their ignoring the infrastructure problems. Because the government doesnt have enough ministers. They havent been able to expand due to the bittern infighting between Congress and JD. Then BATF, headed by Nilekani which was doing good work to help improve infrastructure problems was royally ignored. The reason being that it was formed by S.M. Krishna and Deve Gowda hates him. His son is in power, so cold shoulder to BATF. Gowda son even had the gall to accuse the IT bigwigs of doing nothing about the problem. Ha!

India certainly needs more IEs (and no TOIs!!). Also, looks like Sonia also was perturbed by the problem and had pulled Mr Dharam, who's gone naram and is on a massive PR exercise.

"Why did you leave Infosys?"

Brand building is extremely crucial for any company and requires endless strategizing. You can either you go the whole hog, and shout yourself hoarse, about how good you are, what a great product you are selling (you are always selling something), make sure everything you do well gets noticed, grab hold of spin machine and spin. Or you sit back and let your the product or financial figures do the talking. Infosys' way of image building lies somewhere in between. But whatever it is and however that they do, they do it extremely well. Why is it, that I get asked often "Why did you leave Infosys?". I wonder, if guys leaving TCS and Wipro (both provide equal career growth oppurtunity) get asked the same question.

In terms of type of work, none of the Indian IT companies have any niche. Everyone does the same thing (in fact now, anyone has started doing IT). They make a pitch, promise price and quality advantage, and get projects to develop or maintain (mostly maintain) information systems. None of the really big companies here are doing cutting edge work. Research and consulting are two areas being touted by some companies as their focus areas, but that is mostly a con for market differentiation. And it hasnt really worked. The amount of work that percolates through them is quite miniscual. So, no distinction in terms of quality of work, really. The pay scales across companies are also similar. As most companies are adopting the same policies, benchmarking them against their peers, work culture, facilities, benefits, perks remain more or less constant across all the firms.

Infosys also, implements a lot of things well. So do many the other top 5 IT companies. But then, it ensures that these positive aspects get high visibility in the media. Of course, the media too is ready to seize on anything that remotely involves Infosys because they know that the public is ready to lap it up. Anyway, Infosys does its PR with great subtely and tact, and not with the arrogance of a market leader. So, every now and then, you will have news articles related to Infosys appearing innocously. It is a relentess and a patient effort from PR. Of course, over a period of time, it has got well ensconced into the Indian physche, that Infosys is corporate God, that it can do nothing wrong, that its employees are rolling in the dough and raking in more. That is certainly not true. My point is, even though Infosys deserves praise for what it stands for, the pedestal at which it has been placed on, is a bit unjustified.

Still, it works well for all including the employees.

They have a brand which they can trade on they have respect they unduly get as an Infoscion ("You are an Infoscion. You must be a millionare!!"). That's also its downside. An infoscion who goes looking to rent a house would know ("You are an Infoscion. You must be a millionare. What's 7k rent for 1 BHK to you, anyway!").

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Fall was here!

Work's on an upswing now. The first cut of data model looks ok to the Client team as well. But I know there's going to be lot of rework on that,later on.

Anyway, was wondering all this while, how I could make today's post interesting. The topic dropped right in front of me.

I was typing away on my PC, when out of thin air, dropped a guy. From the ceiling above- making a neat square hole in it. He just missed Pradeep, a collegue sitting in cubicle diagonally opposite. Anyway, the noise of the fall was enough to stir even the guys sitting in cubicles some distance away. Everyone just jumped to see, who it was. The first split second impression was it was a guy working on first floor above ( I sit on ground floor). It wasnt. It was a person from the housekeeping department cleaning the concealed space between the ground and first floor -you know the space hides all the wiring, air ducts, plumbing etc. The floor of this space is plaster of paris and not supported well in all places. He had stepped on one such portion and the bottom just gave way.

Fortunately, he was not hurt too badly, though was bleeding due to some broken glass. The celing was supporting a light bulb which had cracked and was hanging limply. He was able to sit up on a chair and then later, hobble towards the door. Hope he doesnt hasnt broken a bone. Anyway, the company should do a checkup to ensure that there's no internal injury.

It was a melee here meanwhile of people coming over in droves to gawk at the spectacle. Soon after the accident, we had to stop them from crowding around the spot. Even later, we had some many people coming over, gaping at the hole and speculating about the incident, and what possibly went wrong ("I am telling you it reeks of corporate sabotage!!!").

Still, I think it was a safety lapse that needs to be fixed at the earliest. The space is frequently used by support staff and surely there need to be instructions about which part of it should not be stepped on. Something like "Trespassers will be prosecuted (in case they dont drop dead)"

An eventful afternoon indeed!!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Yeh hai Mumbai

Another Monday dawns. This weekend, bought Kodak USB cable, Calvin and Hobbes books - Lazy Sunday book and Yukon Ho, DVDs of Shrek, both parts, Toy Story both parts and Monster Inc. Helped out Reema, (Deepti's friend) finish her presentation. The pair of Lee jeans that I want so bad, still eludes me. Later.

Anyway, rediscovered why Mumbai is such a great shopping place (even though, I dont quite like it). You can find anything that you want, any small spare part, any item, any accessory here, and that too, at a bargain. Generally there are hubs of particular type of equipment. So for cameras, you go to DN Road, household items Dadar, Electronics at MuhamadAli Road, Books Churchgate. So, there are n number of places you can have a look, before you are sure you have the right buy. The choice is also amazing. The USB cable I was offered at prices starting from 175 to 1600 (no kidding). C&H, I bought orginal copies at Rs. 520, when the MRP is approx 800 Rs. Same for DVDs, though pirated and without bonus material, were a steal at Rs. 300. I played them and no defect so far.

It is Monday and we have first datamodel design discussion with Client Team. So let me jump into it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Life's a beach

Wish I was somewhere here...

and here

Its Friday, may be I could plan to head there this weekend. Wanna join in?

The Abyss

Yesterday was an awful day. Actually, only me to blame. I found a nasty bug on the floor at our home. Not willing to let go of howlarious oppurtunities to offend my sis' pestophobic sensibilities, I threatened to let it fly at it. Of course, the bug was dead and I had caught it by one of its tentacles. The poor thing was alreay dead. Someone had already involved in a ruthless insecticide. Anyway, whats there to be afraid of of a poor and dead insect. Right! Guess not. Sis started shrieking and getting all uneasy. The colour drained from her face at the thought of a close encounter with the 8 legged kind, She was really upset and warned me to drop my plans and insect. Then without any notice, she let loose a flurry of judo style kicks (or was she dancing?-she had just come from her dance class). Now, I couldnt take it lying down. Had to be a man (with a pest to let loose). So, I was and did. Sis cried out loud. Hit me again. And again. Mom, dad flabbergasted. A totally bizarre melee. It became bloody serious and it was like gladiators in the ring. Of course, we didnt kill each other, but the damage was done. There will be no making up at least for a few days.

I am still recuperating from the vile physical attacks from my sis. As I wallow in the depths licking my wounds and looking around for my self-confidence, you go and have a look at this. Truly amazing. As James Cameron said, there is still so much we dont know about the ocean.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Work around

Quite a hectic day today. My Team Lead is insisting that I get a high level data model (I am working on creation of data marts) ready by tomorrow. Now I got started on this module just yesterday. So, its a tough ask. Still, the overall feeds look simple enough, so dont see too many problems.

Actually that might be a problem. I am new to this project and may not be able to see some obvious gaping holes in the requirement. Well, thats familiar territory.

Still need to work on my inability to concentrate. The deadlines for the last few months were never too stiff and I got into this habit of straying - checking mails, scores(India hasnt done too well today. The usual), readings articles, news, blogs not every few min, not to mention writing one as well.

Need to work on all except keeping the blog alive. That should not suffer much.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Which hike to the tikona?

Its the end of another long weekend. Friday was also a holiday, courtesy Gurunanak. There was plan to go trekking to Tikona. Its a difficult trek according to Harsh, the chief, but finally, the plan crumbled.

I meanwhile went shopping on Friday to buy atleast a pair of jeans. Ended up buying Ulysses and Cookbook. Ulysses is ofcourse rated the best book of last century and ofcourse, on the back, it mentioned in bright bold letters that it was just Rs 125. I am not sure when I will get around reading that. LOTR, a herculean and monumental undertaking (I am not talking about the writing of the same by JJR TOlkien, its the reading by me, silly), is now off the middle earth radar. Even Three men in a Boat are stranded midstream, without a connoisuer(!) to appreciate their antics. I am now in the 1st course of dining at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Also went back to the first episode of BBC Radio series of H2G2. Amazing how the series departs now and then from the book. Lot more characters and conversations, which is reasonable, as you cant have the book (Peter Jones) rattling off descriptions and incidents, no matter how funny. The actor playing Arthur Dent sure brings alive the utter helplessness and absursity of being put in the situation that he's in.

BTW, did you know that H2G2 was commissioned as a radio series first and after it success, it became a book?

A new series is already on BBC Radio and an episode is available for one week to be heard through streaming audio. Acc to the director (same as the one in 1993), it is a take on the book and not a direct derivation of it. Would love to hear that one. But, would far better if I could find a downloadable version somewhere.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

What's the good bird?

Yesterday, saw an amazing sight. Just outside Accenture boundary wall, is a mighty old tree. It was almost dusk, so, couldnt make out exactly, but looked like banyan or pipal. Anyway, suddenly heard screeching noises coming from that tree. I looked up and saw a whole pandemonium. Now a pandemonium is a group of parrots. All green of course and a whole lot of them. To see them, in such large numbers in an un-environment friendly city like Mumbai and moreover, on one tree right next to a large industrial complex (Godrej) was pretty amazing.

Wish I could see it in slightly better light to be able to count the exact number of parrots. But then again, I think, the parrots had made the tree their nesting place and wouldnt be there during day time.

As regards to bird-watching, we stay on the ground floor and have some plants/trees along the periphery of our home. So, pretty much used to seeing some exotic birds now and then. There is a guava tree and parrots are a regular guest during summer. As far as other birds, I am going to try to learn the names of atleast the fairly widely seen ones and expand my avian vocabulary beyond crows and sparrows.

The old lady at Tambda Surla surely has inspired me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A Must Marriage

Yesterday was Arti Parekh's wedding. Gatecrashed it actually as I didnt have any invite. But only reason was to meet DJ college mates after a long time. Havent made a real effort to get back in touch after I came back, so it was a nice get-together. Savla, Kapil, Tanna (all with spice), Supriya, Nainesh were there. Most havent changed. Supriya is still as she was - tall, Tanna with his zulfien more pronounced this time round. The wedding was a grand affair as expected.

Seems that everyone who hasnt been hitched until now, are getting hitched this year and that puts me in an akward position. Everyone goes "When are you getting married?". Well, we are looking (we as in family. YOu know that in India, a family marries another family), but its not easy. Easy for some may be, but not for me. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that this there is tremendous peer and family pressure to conform to what the society wants. I agree to the need to settle down, but what forces everyone to raise their eyebrows and more, to arrive at some hasty conclusions and dispense instant judgements, when a person doesnt follow the norm! And esp when the departure from norm, is as insignificant as pushing the marriageable age 1-2 yrs further.

Thats enough about cutltural policing. Work's going to get hectic. New project, tight deadlines. New bottle, white old wine. Still, I need to brace myself for some rough weather ahead. Back to the days of nightouts and no weekends? Who knows.

Watch this space.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A vacation most perfect

Back today to work after a really long vacation (11 days). Went to my native, Sawantwadi and Goa. It was awesome holiday. We left on Friday night by Konkan Kanya (a train on the engineering marvel that is Konkan Railway). But couldnt get to see any of the engineering or natural marvel as we travelled by night (while coming as well). Anyway, Sawantwadi looks almost the same. Except, now the town part can actually be called a town. The Sawantwadi Road Station is quite far from the main town. So there are no major signs of development in the town. But, yes, houses are mushrooming here and there and I could see some apartments as well. Still the place has its old world charm and going there certainly sets the time back a score.

While in Sawantwadi, we went to Kotkamte (grandfather's hometown), Vasanti (old caretaker's hometown) and Aunt's home in Kankanvli (for BHau BHij). It was great driving in the car.Konkan still retains its pristine beauty and as it still not ravaged by rampaging tourists. Still it can do with some tourist influx.

On Monday, we were off to Goa. Stayed in Panji (Mom's bank guest house - Hotel Mayfair). Accom and location was good. Right in the city center. Again, Panji seems to have grown leaps and bounds, though cant exactly remember, coz last time I was there was more than 10 years ago. City is very crowded, but the infrastructure is good. Loads and loads of foreign and desi (esp Gujju) tourists going the tried and trusted Goa way. But, Goa more than lives upto the expectations. The roads are wide and pot-hole free. Unruly development is largely not seen. Across the Mandovi, we can still see lush greenery. And Mandovi itself resembles a gentle river.

Making Panji as our base, we went to offer prayers to the indigenous Gods of Goa, Mangeshi, Nageshi and Shanta Durga. There a ferry from Marcela to Dincholim and we were at Maye Lake. Again, great ambience with the lake ensconsed within verdant trees. You leave Maye lake (which is a highly frequented tourist spot) and again there no civlization for some 1/2 hour ( driving towards Panji). We took Chordan ferry and were back at Panji.

Next morning was a visit to Fort Aguada. Agauda means water source in Portugese and thats what it was when the Portugese riles Goa. It location is breth-taking, but the fort less so. The light house has been reconstructed rather well, but inside the fort, there is not much info. No signs as well of the million gallons of water tank, which was supposed to the higlight of the fort. A nice recreation of that period would go immense good to this naturally breath-taking fort.

Calangute beach is just 1/2 drive from Fort Aguada and God! was it busy. Tourists were swarming all over the place. Still was amazed at how clear the water was. So many foreign tourists again, but most were fat or old. Didnt really ogle at the fit and bold ones anyway. I was happy to have a nice times. Still funny to see, Indian women not ready to shed their coyness and dressed from head to toe even in water. Most were just watching others have fun anyway. Dad, carrying the weight of the world with him, was not prone to drop it along the beach and join in the fun. We (me and sis) speed-boated as well (Rs. 150) and then back in the water for some more time. Got too tired of splashing around in the water and decided it was time to leave.

Had a quick change of clothes and we were off to Mapusa. There we visited the local market, which is huge and bought some madiya. This is a local root, which grows about 1/2 a meter long, the leaves are like alu (of the aluwadi fame). It tastes like suran, but just a bit soft. You can make vegetable or slap it with rawa masala and fry. Uncle also gave us other roots and herbs. One was churan, chini, karande and something I forget. It almost looked like the ingredients of some youth potion.

Next day, we were off to Dudhsagar(Milky Ocean) waterfalls. It is quite close to Karnataka border and took us about 2.5 hours to drive. Dudhsagar waterfalls are right in the middle of a wild-life sanctuary, though there is hardly any wild life. We had to park our car at the village outside the sactuary and take a jeep ride. The jeep ride is just coz, in the forest, we had to cross three huge streams and numerous small ones. Mahindra Jeep would only stand upto the challenge. Its a dirt road but the ride is worth it. The waterfall is not that wide, but it forms a small pool where it meets the ground and the setting - water cascading from about 300 meters, a railway track cutting it halfway in its fall and the pool right in the midst of dense forest - is just awesome. The pool was deep in places and it was good that there were life guards around. I and sis stayed around the fringes of the fall.

On the way back, we visited a Shiva temple at Tambdi Surla. It stood stark against the lush forest, with a brook lapping at its feet. It is made of soap stone which is black in color and is largely preserved in its original form. I caught up with a member of the Bird-Seekers club, who were out there bird-watching. Interesting to note what pursuits drive people. She was an old lady in her late 60s from Devon, England. Her legs wont keep her good company, so she was watching the telescopes, while the other members watched the birds.

Anyway, from there on, it was back to Phonda (via Bhondla Sanctuary route), to Panji and to Sawantwadi. A perfectly nice vacation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Let there be light

This is the last week with this project. Been a good learning experience, esp on the database front. Though have been in BI for so long, still not worked extensiely on the database front (procedures, views or even simple ddls). Now, the next aim would be work at performance tuning on a database. Something, that is easily ignored and goes on to be a PITA later on. Certainly, it performance tuning (script and database both) cannot be done simultaneously with the rest of project deliverables. It needs to be done when the db has stablised and all the input/output streams are working in sync. Then you bring this up in data warehousing. How do I make this sql run faster? Is a commit here appropriate? Do I need smaller data blocks? Which columns should I index (very important). Anyway, hopefully, will get to do a real hands all on all of this.

Am not really keeping well. Dont know what kind of cold this is. Its been more than one week and the cold and cough refuse to go to some warmer climes. Why me! I dont know. May be I am harboring a new virulent strain of cold one which might decimate the future generations of mankind (cough! cough!).

Diwali starts from tomorrow. Folks went to Siddhivinayak and Mahalaxmi today early in the morning. They wanted me to go as well. But I didnt coz was afraid less sleep might aggravate my cold. Feel that I am none too worse now. May be should have gone with them. It is my first Diwali after a gap of 2 years.

Am off to Goa and Sawantwadi, my grandfolks' town this Monday. Not sure, if I can make it before that to my blog, as its Diwali guys. Lets see

Happy Diwali to all

Thursday, November 04, 2004

And the result is out

Bush won the elections. For the sake of continuity, its good. But it might increase the threat to intelligence and peace-mongering (Ha!) the world over. Anyway, I like the graciousness with which, both the parties, Bush and Kerry ended it. When Ohio and New Mexico were proving to take a long time to resolve, but clearly indicating that Bush was going to win, Kerry backed out and accepted defeat. Bush congratulated Kerry on running a fierce and spirited campaign. I was very becoming of them, to acknowledge the opponent after it was all over.

I was also struck by the focus on issues throughout the entire campaign and how a single line of thought binds the entire campaign all through. For Bush, it was unamibuiguity in policy( vis-a-vis Kerry's so called flip-flop), determination to fight the terrorists at whatever cost and of course conservatism. As for Kerrry, it was economy, World Consensus while fighting the WOT and Health Plan. When they spoke (Bush of course less coherently then Kerry), it was a argument based statistics and proven/provable facts- yes sometimes twisted to suit one's end. But still, far better than debates that happen in Indian Political milieu. Here its more like hoodlums slinging mud or even worse even on prime time TV. No one allows the other to speak and shouting is thought of a trusted way to win any argument. Facts and figures hardly come in the way of trying to prove a point. Totally irrelevant issues are created and raked up (Savarkar, National Flag, Afzalkhan's tomb, country of origin, Census figures, whatnot) to give a different colour to the elections and try to brainwash the illerate Indians. But they know far better than to pay heed to such cheap tactics. But our dear netas never learn.

I have one strong reason for the different approaches of the politicians here and in US. It boils down to education. The senators there are mostly lawyers and/or Ivy league educated guys. So, Ofcourse, they have the intelligence, guile and effectiveness when it comes to moulding the public opinion. In India, its just so basic. One can of course take heart from guys like Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, Jhindal guy and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who make compelling public speakers. Its not a fluke that all of them are very well educated.

May be the Indian politician can take some lessons from his US counterpart or even the younger lot.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The vote is in

Am home today. Life is Cough. Anyway, have been following the election results of US. When the counting was almost 70% complete, Bush was leading by about 20 electoral votes. Then suddenly Kerry caught up with him and was just 8 votes behind. This is just when about 20 more electoral votes remain to be counted. Democrats take purple heart. Seems like a tight call. Will go on later to catch the latest update.

Still looks like the US people have so few (just two) parties to choose from. Especially, when you have people of so many ethnicities, it surely will not ensure that your voice is marginalised by the essentially White, rich Harvard/Yale educated and corporate owned/controlled representatives of Democratic/Republican party. Why, in the land of the free, are there just so less choice about who will go on to lead the country.

Anyway, if Bush wins, I reckon, its going to continue US' downward image spiral amongst the nations. Its role as the World Police (Team America) is already being questioned and a genuine hatred (not dislike) for US and what it stands for has emerged even amongst the moderate nations. US would do well to realise that Muslims is the largest religious community in the world and to antagonise a population in one location, may lead to mushrooming of more terrosists elsewhere. The paranoia that Bush and his cronies have cultivated just to finally justify the correctness of their War in Iraq (no links to Al Qaida, but look, he was making WMD) is not good for any semblance of normalcy (esp with the economy and deficit not looking good at all). Stability is what the new President (even if its Bush) should aim for, and he may even wan to read H2G2 - at least the title (I know Bush is not into reading thing) - Dont panic. Atleast dont create it.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Arthur Dent - "It is at moments like these that I wish I had listened to what my mom said, when I was young"

Ford Prefect - "What did she say?"

Arthur Dent - "I dont know. I didnt listen"

Can anyone get goofier and as absurd as this in a book about the earth, the universe and everything? It is just unbearably funny. The book, H2g2, reminds me so many times of Catch 22, though, both are vastly different, in story and treatment. Cant wait to finish h2g2. What abets my joy of reading this book, is the fact that I have heard the book in serial radio recording of BBC. The actors are awesome and the production is superb. While I read, to my utter delight, I recall the intonations and the histrionics of the actors, yet true to the English way of underplaying and understating everything. In fact, the book was written for BBC radio dramatization in a serial form and then finally, DNA put it together in a book. There are many versions of the story, but certain similarities ( I think the ending). Will delve deeper and find out.

Anyway, I need to do something about other books that I started and left by the wayside - Three men in a Boat and Lord of the Rings. Will catch up on "Three" after H2G2.Would want to write a decent review of H2G2, not that it needs my stamp of approval, but just to put all my thoughts about the book in one place. May be after I complete reading this book. At the pace that I am going, this might be soon.

I even have downloads of other Adams' gems - The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, Mostly Harmless and others you can find here. Of course, you will need a Babel Fish in your eye to translate the page for you. But dont worry. Some random clicking on the page, will take you to whereever you want to be on the Hypergalactic Space time Continuum

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Saw Collateral this Tuesday. At Cineplanet. Wednesday was holiday on account of Elections. First about Cineplanet. I dont understand the reason, these multiplexes charge so much just for decent air-conditioning, seats and dolby sound. And these multiplexes even get a tax holiday from the govertment. So essentially, they are just ripping off the aam junta. I paid 95 and got a neck breaking 2nd row seat. The sound system was just about better than my home theater system and the print was scratched at many places by the theater cat. Chennai theatres give far better VFM, with an unbeatbale audio system. I wonder, if we should really allow these guys to run riot with ticket rates or just boycott them and watch pirated movies instead?

Anyway, about Collateral. Heard lot about this action thriller and it lived quite well upto its reputation. For the uninitiated, the movie is about a hired hitman Vincent (Smooth Cruise) who hires a cabbie (Jamie Foxx) for a night to carry out his 5 hits for the night - these are guys who are witnesses on a drug tracfficking case. Things dont quite work to plan so Cruise moves into adapt, improvise, Darwin mode and gets Jamie entangled more and more in his crimes for the day. The action moves at a break-neck (not coz of my seating) speed and hurtles towards a nail-biting climax. Cruise turns into a horror movie physopathic killer, totally inconsiderate for his life and others, who cross his path, in the sole pursuit of his goal - the last hit.

The punches (of the cinematic kind) come at the right time and right panache. You are at once, feeling for Jaime for the quagmire he is in, but Cruise, being Cruise, you want him to go through with all his hits successfully (I did... perversely). He just has you by the fuzz of his high cheek bone. He is cool, menacing, fast and calculated. When he runs, he so much reminds you of the Robert Patrick's T-1000. Except, you will have women swooning for Vincent.

Yes, the film exposes the underbelly of LA, of being such a rich, hip, hyper yet a disjoint, lonely city - where your trouble is your trouble alone and possibly, someone else spoils.
Yet, there are many things that stop it from being a classic. I expected a successful hitman, to be reticent, not giving too much away to strangers. But Vincent, right from word go, starts to get too friendly with the cabbie, asking him personal questions, giving opinions and then justifying his killings, with insignifance of human life vis a vis the universe. Also, couldnt Vincent just do the job with a hired car, rather than making another person (that too, a so very traceable guy as a taxi driver) a witness of his crimes. Also, Vincent get into too many dangerous (dangerous for a hitman of repute, I mean) situations too easily. He kills rampantly and inefficiently. He could easily have floored the two muggers without a sound instead of shooting indiscriminately-causing a sonic boom noise which richochets through the block. Lucky no one notices. And, even though coming from me, I find that the plot doesnt get too celebral, though clearly the director (Michael Mann - Heat, The Insider) aims it to instill a deeper meaning into the murkiness of the on-killings. Or did it go above my head?( Blame the seats!!)

Basically, the falliablity of the plot is based on its premise of cabbie-hitman interaction and that makes it a bit difficult to work around with for the script writers. Still must agree, money spent on the movie is money well spent (yes yes, inspite of the seat)

Less Work and More Play

I have noticed that I work better under pressure. Atleast, I am more productive. The days, when I am not completely swamped by work, I idle away - reading blogs, visting mp3 blogs and downloading loads of mp3s, reading news, tech news, all kinds of news. When I would be busy, I would visit tech. forums, even when I was not looking for answers to techie questions. I think, I even though care of some personal stuff better. May be, less work makes me more lethargic.

Anyway, a few good things atleast have emerged. Ever since I left my prev org, where I was just overwhelmed by work - esp managing resources and projects, I was in the pits with regards to my mental well-being. Even when I would turn up for bed early, I would not get any sleep and would be caught in dreary project details. It was just terrible. Now, I get such sound sleep, I love it. Also, I get time to go jogging in the evening. This I really needed, just to put a break on the cycle of sedentariness (sedentation doesnt sound bad.) I have started slow, but now run almost 2-3 kms a day. We have a huge car-park and jog along the length of it. No an ideal place, but will do for now. Only thing I am worried about is not hurting my legs irreversibly. Jogging is high impact and needs to be done carefully on cement surfaces. Might move to shoes better suited for this activity.
I also need to start taking and imparting some training in this free time. I just spoke to my Career Counsellor and he (I concurred :-) was of the opinion that I should take some tech ( INformatica, BO) and soft skills training. Well, anything to break to monotony.
On another note, I am trying to get my photo added to my profile at blogger, but I am lost. Or has the absence of serious work dimmed my mental faculties. TOo bad

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Ultimate question

As I mentioned some time back about the trainer for Team Working course and what an overachiever he was. And just completed "The Alchemist". The book speaks passionately about destiny and how the whole world conspires to fulfill our destinies, if we set out to achieve them. The two-The Trainer and The Alchemist, set me thinking if I was born to live a life that I am living now or if I am destined to do something bigger. I dont see myself as a bearer of a revolution, having impact on millions or even a thousand lives. So, whatever, I do as an ultimate goal in life, may be special, but in a small way. I have some strong beliefs about a few things and one of these, I would like to espouse, take it up as a means of livelihood, even if its just survival. Right now, I am happy with this job, this life. Just for now.

Anyway, back to the book. Though, it took the fable route to talk about the lessons of life - pursuit of destiny, the journey to achieve it, adaptablity along the journey, ability to listen to your heart and then on, to the soul of the world- it didnt completely enthrall me. Looking at the reviews and the recommendations on the top and inner cover, I was expecting to be enthralled. At some places, I thought Paulo Coelho was just trying desperately to fatten the simple story line. Also, though the story is literally magical, it remains far from so, figuratively. It could be because it was not originally written in English and some essense or mysticism is lost in
translation from Portugese to English. Anyway, it remains a great book, from which one can truly learn many truths that would make our lives immensely worthwhile. I would also recommend, the extremely popular and powerful "Who moved my cheese" by Spencer Johnson for lessons on adaptability and change-readiness.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Been there, done that

Had an argument with a collegue on Thurs. It was really something trivial and should have been taken care of easily with calm and tact. I was stressed and lost my patience for the day and so, wasnt prepared for either. Moreover, I have this notion that the colleague is not amenable to suggestions given by others and that made me more agressive in my argument. Now its Monday and we still havent talked, though no work related stuff has come up that needed discussion with her. Anyway, its awkward. And I realise how patient and sensitive I should be. Anyway, have this session on about Team Working. The trainer is a bloody over achiever. Was an army captain, fought battles, shot at thrice, toured Europe and climbed all its peaks, owns his soft-skills training (highly paid) business, takes care of 31 special kids, and on a frivolous note, stays next to John Abraham. Wow. Made me wonder if its all true, coz he looks so young. Or may be, its just coz he all makes me so ordinary. What I have done as yet, that people should take note of me?

There IS that niggling want to do something special. Not just simply to stand out, but because I feel genuinely about it. But its so out of line with my work, that I have to chuck all this and devote full time to that goal. But I know I should make up my mind and just do it.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

What the stars foretell?

Just the other day, had an astrologer at our place. Apparently, his prediction about my dad buying an office came true and since then folks are converts (of him). Already my mom believes in it and has in fact studied it. She knows the moon being in the 7th house and Neptune being in the 10th, signifies longevity (of life, what did you think?) and that when Jupiter is in my house (astrological), you better get hold of some rings of Saturn to protect yourself. I am just making light of it, but really, the way, the astrologer went about methodically deducting what happened (we didnt tell me earlier) and predicting, what might happen, I was impressed. There are some rules that apply fundamentally depending on the placement of the planets and no one escapes these. So, its better to understand your stars and make your decisions based on them. Possibly, you would want to put off your marriage (or divorce). You might want to continue your education or make that investment now! Things like that. This was what the guru had us and me convinced. Am I a believer? Well, 70% yes.

It has also happened in the past, that other knowers of this science ( or art of deception, as you may prefer) have predicted things correctly. Though not all have come true. But even something that beats the law of averages, slightly, is good enough for me, to start developing faith in astrology. I find rather than just fishing around in the future, not knowing what it is, astrology provides a direction to it and a broad one at that. The gurus keep it broad for the sake of all I-told-you-so possibilities. No matter. Some knowledge of the future cannot be bad. Moreover, negative things are ignored in the prescience, as you dont pay to be told "You are gonna die in 20 days!!". That helps you focus on the positive possibilities. Now, whats the harm in knowing something, good about the future. Going by the past record, these may possibly come true. Lets hope.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The first post

A belated Happy Dasra to all. I wish the blog had broken into the world yesterday. No problem. Its still dasra today in some part of the world.

I am not sure if this one has to be special. Coz it wont be.

Was meaning to put a decent blog entry (with some analysis about a personality, but more of that in future), but didnt happen. Anyway, its good to enter gingerly in the blog world, without anyone noticing you, rather than all the flashbulbs blinding you, with an oh-so warm welcome. I prefer quiet. Let no one know that I am here.

I hope to emulate some of my esteemed bloggers, who do such a great job at recording their daily memoirs, with profound insights now and then, into so many things. I wish to just be able to hold my own, atleast.

That apart, I have lots of free time and know the power of ( an almost) daily dairy. I used to keep one (well, not exactly, but may be, if I get comfortable with you, my blog, will let you into that), and know how one changes over time and things that you recognize and stand for today, mean nothing a few years down the life. It has happened so many times, that I went back to my writings and was surprised that I, me, wrote that stuff. Surely, I didnt write that.

So, possibly, having this perspective, of your past, which your brain conspires to erase from itself, would, I hope in some way, help me, partially, understand myself. The incidents that make me who I am. The reasons that make me who I am. The thoughts that make me who I am.