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