Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Long weekend

The plan was to go to Isle of Wight or Scotland or wherever for the long weekend. Alas, things didnt work out and I was forced to spend the 3 days mostly in my own company. I have emerged more elightened, better tuned with my inner feelings (no, I am not into lingerie) and in peace with myself (A smile is born)

Not that it wasnt bad. Saturday, it was mostly milling around at the Forum. Caught some silly magic show and a great country band - with banjo, cello, saxophone and flute. They would be talking over, above, under the lyrics, interspersed with funny funny comments. Like there was a song "I am in the mood for love". One of the few slower numbers the band played. And at one time, the lead singer went "I am in the mood for love (or some casual sex)".Saxophone and flute was helmed by a woman and was she brilliant.

It was an energetic, taut and highly enjoyable fare.

Evening, checked out Royal Theater on an open house tour. Then went bowling with roomie and for the first time crossed the score of 100. And then repeated the performance. I think I am getting into the groove and now have got the basics right. Not that bowling is difficult, but then, with the long lane (62 feet) and heavy ball, it is so easy to go into the gutter.

Sunday, went to Whitingham Country Park. The project has won an award for environmental planning. I am not surprised. The project was supposed to provide building material (stone gravel) for major construction work in Norwich like the Castle Mall and other road work. Here's a pic of the original site.

And now, its just a secluded park with a huge lake where people come to relax, or practise/learn kayaking, canoeing, sailing, boating. There is a pathway along the periphery with lots of nodes for fishing, bird-watching. It is just breath-taking. It almost got me a feel of the Broads. Its wonderful how nature reclaims what belongs to her, but you should let her.

The weekend I finally mastered the sudoku conundrum. For some reason, didn't take to it earlier and now its hard to ignore a sudoku.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Old York and sad lessons!

Back from York. Just had some process walkthrough meetings with Business Analysts. Didnt get much time to explore the city. The one thing that I learnt (or was corroborated) was that, it is a pain to deal with adults.

Life turns us into selfish, conniving, inconsiderate bastards without giving us an inkling about it. It is quite scary how delusional most of us are about ourselves

I do not know how much importance to attach to this, or to ignore it altogether. May be its a crazy co-incidence. After all, no one seems to notice or doesn't care (living in their own delusions?), so why should I? The catch is that, exposing such psycotic behaviour somehow makes you into a manipulative and insecure person. So day-to-day innocous acts of inhuman-ness go unheeded.

I shall delude yourself that everything is alright

Sunday, August 21, 2005

my bike

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Truth be damned!

With reference to Mangal Pandey - The Rising, there was a discussion thread raising concerns about historical accuracy in period films. Even though my response below might sound that I am in favour of free cinematic license, total disregard for history is not what I recommend. E.g. to show Shivaji as a complete coward or British Empire as epitome of benevolence would be a travesty of facts. But to exaggerate certain traits or events especially when there is lack of authentic information about them, is not criminal. I dislike the fact that we don't care to capture or document history well enough and then it's bound to leave glaring holes in knowledge about our past - even important events like the First War of Independence. Should film-makers disregard such important events, just because we don't know enough. I don't think so. if anything, we need more films with facts extrapolated with imaginative fiction, so people atleast get a sense of what actually happened.

There is a phrase that goes something like 'History is not how it happened, but how it was recorded'


Was just watching Shakespeare in Love the other day. Now, I can hardly claim to be the literary types, but here is a movie, that is intelligent, funny and cool. Don't be weighed down the fact that Shakespeare was another lesson in college. There are extremely witty dialogues, great screenplay (Romeo and Juliet starts as a comedy because comedy is what audience wants) and fabulous direction.

It would not have happened had the writer (Mark Norman and Tom Stoppard) fictionalized the whole account and added there own bold inventive touches.
About how Shakespeare's affair comes to fundamentally shape Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare has been shown to be inadvertently responsible for Christopher Marlowe's (his contemporary) death. The exchange of roles (Viola in disguise playing Romeo and a guy playing Juliet) due to restrictions on women at that time. Even 'the rose by any other name' is attributed to a sermonising priest.

There is an urchin who constanly makes references to death and gore. I looked up John Webster, his name and lo and behold, a master of tragedy and contemporary of Shakespeare.

Just reading the dialogues will have you rolling in the aisles

Anyway, does any of this need to be true? No, because, on its own merits, Shakespeare in Love is an awesome movie. It humanizes the playwright and throws light on the fact that he could be a wife-cheating plagiariser(masterful one at that) rather than a serious dour wordsmith.

Monday, August 15, 2005

More more more!

I was out last week to make a spare key. The old man just put the key in the machine and in 5 seconds flat, the replica was out. How much did it cost? 4 pounds! 2 keys for 6 pounds. I know that it costs £60 per hour for a plumber. The Indian IT companies charge around $20-30 per hour in India and $60 (i.e around £40) per hour for onsite resources. Kya haisiyat hai hamari!

I bought a duvet (rajai) last week for £9 and the cover cost me £12. Isn't that funny? What's more, if I were to send the duvet to laundry, it would cost me the same as buying it new.

There is no place in the house where you can wash your clothes. There is just the bath-tub, but forget thumping and pounding clothes dhobi style. Everyone has a washing machine fitted as part of the furniture. And I doubt if people remember the manual way of washing clothes.

If British were Indian, they would have saved more, as manufactured goods are so cheap here, in relative terms. When I mean relative, it is better to factor in respective salaries rather than just convert currencies.

As this article so accurately points out, recycling and repairing is going out of style majorly. The developed countries are such voracious consumers that I don't think, in spite of all visible signs and audible noises about recycling, much of that happens here. Recycling is hardly as profitable here as it is in developing countries (labour intensive and new material available cheaply), so I think, most of the garbage and scrap is dumped, surreptitiously in third world countries.

People hardly bother about repairing their old stuff here, because there are no repair shops. DIY is the buzz word when it comes to doing the house (painting, plumbing, cleaning) coz who can afford. So basically, you may be richer here, but all the menial tasks that you hate and for which you wanted a helping hand and thought you could now afford..., well, you won't get it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Not too bad!

It may seem like I am excessively ranting (rantyly ranting). It's not that I think the world is conspiring against me. Mostly, good things in life don't inspire you enough to write glowing praises about them. We are anyway not known to appreciate positive things in life and wallow in negativity.

I forgot to mention about this weekend's trip to Sheringham. Nice walk by the beach. We sat where the DJ was mixing on top of a cafe. I juggled with sea-side pebbles. Then, the DJ called on the little kids and they started dancing to the Macarena. Some more college students joined and it was impromptu dancing (not that Macarena steps are difficult). Then some more tunes for which the guys knew the steps. It wasn't that sunny, but the smiles all around were.

From there we climbed up the beach onto a cliff. The old guys were playing golf (brilliantly) on this huge golf course. We walked parallel to the golf course close to the cliff. There was a watch tower run on charity and John was keeping a watch. Just as he was telling us the intracacies of his job, there was a May Day on his radio. John said, it isn't often that there are may-days. We sat there with an awesome view of the sea side. There were some sandmartins with nest burrowed along the side of the cliff.

We proceeded to walk through the Sheringham Park. Rhododendrons are what the people go there for. But that's in spring and there ain't any now. But it was fabulous with golden fields (Deepak insisted it was wheat!) on one side and trees on the other. Though UK is loads of greenery (it rains a lot) but dense forests are rare. The Sheringham forest is thickly wooded. So its great the visit such parks here (Seven Sisters Park near Brighton, Lake District).


Just today I bought a bike. Its GT Avalanche, humble compared to some Saracens and Rayleighs you get to see here. But its flourescent green and I love it. It has ruined my trousers, but now there is wind in my sails.

P.S. - Not too bad exemplifies british way of understating things. Responding to a 'How are you?', the Brit who has just won million pounds in lottery would say 'Not too bad!'

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Race to the finish

Haven't faced this so far, but I am scared.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Control + Alt + Delete

Just the other day, I was ranting about my company policies of not having CDroms and floppy drives disabled. Welcome to the Dark Age.

I am in Norwich and at client side. (If you are smart, it won't be difficult for you to guess the client's name) Anyway, the utter shock to see first hand how things are done!

1. PC crash - The time given to resolve the call was a day. A day? Then the guy comes and tells me that it will take 2 days to rebuild the PC. What I am supposed to do meanwhile? Play Goti? In any decent IT company, the helpdesk guy would take minutes to attend to the call and few hours to give me a replacement PC.

I cannot even locate the IT help system online and have to call up helpdesk for every call and update.

2. Internet access - Fortunately, we got it the next day. but for the earlier guys it took about a month to get net access. You won't find anything majorly wrong in this, but to note that the client mail doesn't allow you to send external mails. It's as good an isolation you'll ever find. So how can you mail offshore to get your work done? You can't.

3. Clean desktop -Did I tell you about the desktop security here? Its autocratic. You don't see control panel, No Start-->run, no explorer (Flag+E doesn't work), you don't see desktop icons! Of course, forget admin access- thats only for God. Such smothering of personal freedom at workplace is not due to well thought out security policies, its more laziness to find solutions and work-arounds to possible threats by hackers or through viruses. Ignorance in finding out whether there is threat at all. e.g. we use the divine Lotus notes (upgrading from Outlook to Lotus Notes 4.5) and the address book is not active. Possibly, I could locate who the head of the client company is and behead him?
Can having desktop icons be a threat? How can disabling explorer, search and run functionality benefit security? In hampering resource productivity like this (forget the fact that PCs have highly antiquated configuration), we inch dangerously close to zero output - which would warm the cockles of the Infrastructure and Security guys - Zero calls logged, zero breaches of security.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Losing in real life

BTW, Bought two C&H books from a Charity Shop

The days are just packed

There's treasure everywhere

Cost me £4.5 for both. Quite a steal, eh? :-)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What are you saying?

Had to call the HSBC to check my debit card status (local account). First time, I called, there was someone called Sarita speaking in a neutral accent. She didn't know much about my problem, so she forwarded me to a local guy. Now, I think they had a look at the number from where I am calling - Norwich, transferred to a guy born and brought up in some far flung village of Norfolk. The accent was so horrible that couldnt understand most of what he said.

Even today, the woman on the line had such a strong local accent, that you need to really concentrate on what is being said.

Now, clearly, even the ordinary British must find it difficult to deal with these local call center representatives on a daily basis. Even earlier, most call centers were located in Ireland (lower costs) and Irish is not something that you get used to quickly. But these guys never complained about that. But are now complaining about strong Indian accents!

One point as my cab driver told me was the lack of understanding of local culture by call centers in India while trying to decipher the information the customer is passing on. Well, that would need more training, but don't cast aspersions on the whole BPO space.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I'm leaving on a jetplane

Have reached Norwich safe and sound. It wasnt a smooth sailing on Monday. The Sunday rains just wouldnt let up even on Monday. The ominous signs were there when some buildings around over locality started going under water. It was nightmare revisited.

Forgot my toothbrush, lost a key and couldnt locate my belt. We have been leaving like refugees in a vacant 3rd floor flat. So, things are a bit messy.

Plans were to move the stuff back, but seeing the rains on Monday, it was moving-packing redux.

The ride to the airport was horrendous. Two ricks were only ready to drop us to the airport for 300 rs each. A steal considering what lay ahead. The road was potholed like lunar surface. We reached Aarey Junction where policemen were stopping vehicles and asking people to go back in a typical babu way. The highway beyond Aarey Junction was blocked . What they should have been done was to explain clearly to people which de-tour to take in case he journey was really really necessary. In stead, it was plain rude 'Apne Apne ghar jaao'. Looking at the rains, I thought the same fate lay ahead at the airport and no flights would take off. I suggested we go back. But sis held on. The rick driver also felt, we should try another route from close to Goregoan station joining the highway near Goregoan Multiplex. It was a long route with flooded roads, but somehow we made it to the highway. Jusdt behind that point, water was gushing across the highway with a great speed. So obviously, vehicles couldnt ply there. But the police should have directed vehicles to this other route which we took.

After that, it was a smooth ride (relatively speaking). At places, the road was just plain washed away and we could see the path the sharp rivulets had cut into the tar road.

Somehow made it to the airport. Some minor luggage problems and I was on my way out of the deluge-city