Saturday, December 29, 2007

Technology Aethists Inc!

She crossed the road. Stood in front of the place for a while. Opened the door. Then on there was a marked difference in her body language. It was more tentative, more skeptical. She braved on. Went in. She was all alone in the scary room. There was deadly silence within. broken only by the slow drone of the AC flannels. She looked back through the glass door for reassurance. Got none. The huge monster in front of her was blinking. With each blink her trepidation turned into certainty. She was helpless, she could do nothing, it was all futile. She turned back to get out of the cloistered room. But it was all part of a conspiracy. The door didn't budge. The panic button was pressed in no time. She was struck in this dingy place, all alone and no where to run. She started waving wildly for help. The sealed doors refused to carry her pleas out into the open. Then I decided the queue outside the ATM was too long. I had to go in to help my mom. I let out a 'here-we-go-again' sigh and went in.

"You gotta press the button to come out amma!"
"Oh! I didn't know there was a button. "
"Whats wrong?why haven't you drawn any cash?"
"Ayyo! That screen is not going away at all. I tried all sorts of things!"
"Did you swipe the card in?"
"! I felt the screen should be changed first!"
"Sigh! You felt the screen should be changed first!! What is the PIN code?"
"But is says invalid PIN code when I key it in! Maaaaaaaaaa! You have bought the wrong card!"

Well, this was just a small instance. I could list some hundreds more. Thousands more in fact, where my parents have refused to get in tune with 'technology'. Take for instance, a mobile phone. I got my dad once a couple of years back. Even till today he hasn't sent a single SMS from it; presses the wrong button and puts the call on hold rather than receive it! And he refuses to learn it right and refuses to acknowledge that he isnt getting it right! And this inability to operate such 'mindblowingly complicated devices' turns into an inexorable hate for any sort of technology! "Mobile phone are going to ruin everything! Students, girls, office life! Look at the number of accidents that happen because of mobiles. The doom is inevitable!". Well there goes a free prophecy of mass destruction along with every mobile that is seen. Its like the new package deal from Vodafone!

Its not that they are dumb! My mom has a PhD! My dad is an engineer working on the most intricate electrical designs for the past thirty years. Yet, they refuse to learn anything that is new, that has technology involved. ATMs, computers, internet, DVD players, MP3 players, mobiles, radio... the list is endless. The urge to take advantage of its multiple uses are there, but a flat refusal to learn the 'Know-hows'. I have given up trying to explain how it works, how easy life could get, how tough it would get in the future to live without knowing how to use it! And I get irritated every time I see that 'God, this thing is going to bite me if I touch' kinda look on their faces! And even worse is when they heap praise on uncles and aunts who can handle 'it'! "AvaLige e-mail yella kaLsakke barattante kaNo!" (roughly translating to I heard she knows how to send an email and stuff!!"

Robert Pirig in his book 'Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" ponders why his friends are so averse to repairing their own bikes. Why they refuse to mend a broken faucet at home! And then it dawns upon him and everything falls into place!

"Why suppress anger at a dripping faucet? I wondered.

Then that patched in with the motorcycle maintenance and one of those light bulbs went on over my head and I thought, Ahhhhhhhh! It’s not the motorcycle maintenance, not the faucet. It’s all of technology they can’t take. And then all sorts of things started tumbling into place and I knew that was it. Sylvia’s irritation at a friend who thought computer programming was "creative." All their drawings and paintings and photographs without a technological thing in them. Of course she’s not going to get mad at that faucet, I thought. You always suppress momentary anger at something you deeply and permanently hate. Of course John signs off every time the subject of cycle repair comes up, even when it is obvious he is suffering for it. That’s technology. And sure, of course, obviously. It’s so simple when you see it. To get away from technology out into the country in the fresh air and sunshine is why they are on the motorcycle in the first place. For me to bring it back to them just at the point and place where they think they have finally escaped it just frosts both of them, tremendously. That’s why the conversation always breaks and freezes when the subject comes up.

Other things fit in too. They talk once in a while in as few pained words as possible about "it" or "it all" as in the sentence, "There is just no escape from it." And if I asked, "From what?" the answer might be "The whole thing," or "The whole organized bit," or even "The system." Sylvia once said defensively, "Well, you know how to cope with it," which puffed me up so much at the time I was embarrassed to ask what "it" was and so remained somewhat puzzled. I thought it was something more mysterious than technology. But now I see that the "it" was mainly, if not entirely, technology. But, that doesn’t sound right either. The "it" is a kind of force that gives rise to technology, something undefined, but inhuman, mechanical, lifeless, a blind monster, a death force. Something hideous they are running from but know they can never escape. I’m putting it way too heavily here but in a less emphatic and less defined way this is what it is. Somewhere there are people who understand it and run it but those are technologists, and they speak an inhuman language when describing what they do. It’s all parts and relationships of unheard-of things that never make any sense no matter how often you hear about them. And their things, their monster keeps eating up land and polluting their air and lakes, and there is no way to strike back at it, and hardly any way to escape it. "

Well when every other statement they say begins with "You know in our times...", you know some things will never change!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Jab we mate...

Easy question. How to you think world peace can be achieved?
  1. Nuclear disarmament
  2. Destroy WOMD
  3. Mitigate religious intolerance
  4. Remove political and national boundaries
  5. Make UN a super power
  6. Kill all extremists! (What a paradox!)
  7. Call for Gandhi to be reincarnated
  8. Make 'Imagine' by John Lenon the national anthem of the world
Well, you are wrong if you have picked any of these solutions above. Dont judge me, so say Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell, founders of an anti-war organization, Baring Witness. To conquer world peace these 'out-of-the-box' thinkers felt that the only solution lay in a giant orgasm! And thus was born the 'World Orgasm Day'! According to the official World Orgasm Day web site, passionate people are encouraged to have a romp at the exact moment of the winter solstice—which occurs during either the shortest day or the longest night of the year—across the globe to promote “world peace”. And the event is titled, hold your breath......The Big O (how ingenious!)

The 'who' list includes "All Men and Women, you and everyone you know" and the 'where' clause says " Everywhere in the world, but especially in countries with weapons of mass destruction and places where violence is used in place of mediation." Thank God there was no 'How' list over there! The 'scientific' explanation given for the whole show is

"The Global Consciousness Project, located in Princeton, New Jersey, runs a network of Random Event Generators around the world which record changes in their randomness during global events. The results show that human consciousness can be measured to have a global effect on matter and energy during widely-watched events such as the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, large antiwar protests, natural catastrophes, acts of war and mass meditations. Concentrated consciousness has measurable effects.

Our minds influence Matter and Quantum Energy fields, so by concentrating our thoughts during and after The Big O on peace and partnership, the combination of high orgasmic energy combined with mindful intention for peace could reduce global levels of violence, hatred and fear.

The world is full of men with axes to grind and weapons to fire in displays of their superiority over others. It is time to spare the planet from Alpha Male concepts of 'progress', 'growth' and Manifest Destiny, which are endangering all of us. True partnership between the Masculine and Feminine that is within all women and men may enable our species to survive in relative harmony. The Global Orgasm for Peace is one attempt to begin that process."

Believe it or not
hundreds of thousands of couples across the world got frisky simultaneously on Saturday to celebrate the World Orgasm Day. The organizer had even listed the exact solstice moment in each country when one should...err...contribute to world peace.

Just when you thought that the world was going towards some sanity!! And oh yes! they had a warning along which said "
Over population is a major cause of peak everything, so please don’t make more babies on the global orgasm day". Man! I am just dying for Russel Peters to tell the world about this 'extravaganza' in his next DVD!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I am on Facebook, therefore I am

Steve Webb, 42, a British member of Parliament for over ten years now, logged on to open his Facebook account. Facebook refused access telling that it had received complaints that 'he did not exist'! For a passionate advocate of online networking it came across as an ironic awakening for Webb. Within a few hours friends set up a Facebook group called "Steve Webb is real!" which attracted more than 200 users and he and others contacted people who worked at the site. A few hours later he received an apology and his profile was reactivated. Still, the time spent in the Internet's no man's land left Webb questioning his existence.

It is quite interesting and at times shocking to see how the internet has changed our lifestyles and now how it is threatening to reword our identities! The rise of social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook and MySpace have opened a whole new world of existence for the surfer and Web 2.0 for businesses looking to make money. Web 2.0 is the future of the web that allows more upstream movement of data from the users rather than websites dumping information on the browser. This collaborative development of content is working well for companies. Just think about the role of wikipedia in our lives now-a-days. Infact this very blog of mine is a living example of the influence of these sites: I have put links of my Orkut and LinkedIn profiles on it. This viral buzz about social networking led companies like Microsoft to invest @250 million in Facebook and the creation of alternative words like Second Life! I was part amused part shocked to hear that Wipro has recently opened a ODC in Second Life. These networking sites have now become a treasure trove for social scientists who are looking at human behavior, choices and networking patterns.

The amount of time employees are spending on such sites have prompted companies to block these websites from office. Of course there is another set of companies who are looking to capitalize on such websites to promote their companies, products and ideas. But what comes as a concern is the way in which our identities are moving away from what we really are to what we portray ourselves to be on these places. There are many questioning the quality of 'friends' whom people add over these websites. Arey they really good old friends are just the ones who gave you smile while you were taking your dog out for a walk on a Sunday afternoon in Timbuctoo? To parody such sites a host of fun ant-networking sites have already cropped up like Enemybook, Snapster and Hatebook!

Will these places over the coming times decide what we are or rather what we should be? Will the Second Life become more important than the original one? Guess only Mark Zuckerberg and you can answer that!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Close encounters of the third kind

Now, lemme think. I have been caught by the cops several times, but to reassure the skeptics those cops have all been of the traffic breed. My crime kitty includes over speeding, driving through a one way and not having a valid emission certificate for my car. The only interaction with the other kind has been when I was in the police station for my passport. I came very close day before in having a tete-a-tete with them.

I work out in a gym near my college. A couple of days ago I found a key in my bag which I carry to the gym. It wasn't mine and the only way I realized that the key had found its way into my bag via the gym were from the bold letters yelling "GYM" on the key chain. I found it in the top compartment of my bag where the zip is broken. Like a good Samaritan, I returned the key in the gym in the evening.

In the evening around 10, my friend A, received a call from the gym owner about the keys. He had no idea about the keys and as I had gone along with him he figured out that I must know something about it and handed over the call to me. I just told him that I found it in my bag and I just returned it. After an hour, he called again! And this time he was serious.

"What is the problem yaar?" I asked.
"Dont call me yaar, I am not your friend! Call me Sir."

This was the same guy who had talked with me a couple of days ago with me like a long lost buddy about my schedule and nutrition.

"You go to the gym right now to resolve the issue or I will have to send the cops to your hostel."
"But dude, its 11 in the night!!"
"Again! Watch your language!"

I didn't know about any sudden change in social norms where 'Dude' and 'yaar' were considered hostile words and people were asked to mind their language. Anyway not wanting any complications at 11 in the night we went to the gym to discuss about the 'Issues'!

There were a couple of points that made the gym suspicious about the two of us. If you have valuables with you like wallets, mobiles etc they can be dropped off at the counter after making an entry in the register. That day A was dropping off his stuff and I asked him to deposit my wallet along with his at the counter. He made an entry in the register. Apparently every one who comes to gym irrespective of depositing stuff should make an entry in the register. Now we had no clue about this. The instructor signatures were there on our health cards but I had not signed the register that day. Now they grew suspicious that two guys entered together and there was only one entry. There were a couple of pilferage cases in the gym a couple of months ago which led to the arrest of a member, sacking of some an instructor and a receptionist.

Now based on the conversations I had there, I have made a list of points that would have made Dr.Watson proud. ( These are just case facts, not the solution and hence only Dr.Watson comes into the picture)

-> The key was found in the front compartment of my bag which had a broken zip. Did it fall into the open compartment or was it placed there or was it put in to be collected later?
-> The key lost was from the morning batch. I always go in the evening. So how did a morning batch key land up in my bag in the evening?
-> Why did the instructor who had lost his key not reported the loss?
-> If the keys were lost how was the gym being opened in the morning?

The point here is not that this whole issue happened. The issue here is that it is so easy to frame someone into a tight situation which he cant wriggle out of. And the legal system is India is so brilliant I dont have to tell much about it. Recently there was a case where an employee of HCL was accused of putting up stuff about Shivaji in Orkut that led to rioting in Maharashtra. After some 15 days in jail, it was declared that he wasnt the person who did that and was let off. Within no time your life can be screwed beyond repair and you wont even understand what is happening around you. At the end of the day, it was a new experience for me that reinforced Momma's advice to stay away from strangers and always mind your own business!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Letz pateh like its yuah bud-dhay!

I am going to turn 26 day after tomorrow. So for the 26th time in my life I am going to feel damn good about myself on 16th December and hope that life will get better by the the next birthday! There has obviously been a pattern to the way my birthdays have been celebrated over the last many years. Let me show you my evolution!

-> Year 1: The Big One
I am assuming would have been the biggest, cause my parents would have thought "Bada hoke khaandan ka naam roshan karega!".

-> Years 2 to 4: The Gray Area
Dont really remember.

-> Years 5 to 12: The Halcyon Days
In school if it was your birthday, one would get to wear 'color dress' and not the lousy uniform. You would enjoy that attention being showered on you, not because you are one helluva popular guy but because you have that extra Coffee Bite that you could generously dole out. And yes, every year I gave only Coffee Bite cause it was my favorite toffee. Even today I cant resist one.

And of course, would come home to a party which would have the same people, same sorta menu list, more or less same sorta gifts and same games. But hey that was my Birthday and my fifteen minutes of fame. So felt great about it every year.

Midway through this phase I had to start sharing my spotlight cause my brother decided that it would be fun if he was born one day before. So my mom discovered 'cost cutting' way before the software industry stumbled upon it.

-> Years 13 to 17: The 'Cool Off' Period
This was the period I decided that celebrating birthdays was not cool anymore! The period where you decide you have grown up beyond silly things like birthdays and try to act mature and cool and make way for your younger siblings. But your cousins decide you are still the cuddly cute baby that they saw for the first time and try to treat you likewise. That was one helluva flux time!

-> Years 18 to 21: Recapturing the magic
Ah! I still remember it so clearly. It was the first semester of Engineering and the groups were just getting formed. I had never expected a surprise party, let alone them knowing it was my birthday. They had got candles, cake, knife, a super T shirt as the birthday gift and everything to the nth detail. Boy! was I overwhelmed or what!! we all drove some 20 kms that day for my treat in a Dhaba. It was mad and it day started a four year tradition where everyone's birthday was celebrated in the same broken down room at the end of the corridor, cake all over the face, happy birthday songs in all sorts of remixes and treats at Dhabas on Bellary road, phone ringing till 2 in the morning! A birthday isnt one without your friends around!

-> Years 21 to 24: The Blur
This was the first time that I wasnt home for my birthday. I had started working and was in Hyderabad. Some how for the first time I realized that I had grown up and some things would never be the same again. Ofcourse, it helped to have a fantastic group of friends at home who made sure it was a birthday I didnt forget. And that was the first time I tasted the pain and joy of getting birthday bums where one wasnt sure he is happy or sad for what is happening! And then I came back home for a couple of quieter birthdays which just zipped past too soon to realize.

->Years 25 to 26: The Madness
Boy! thought I had seen some mad celebrations till I landed up in SP!! Never in my life I have seen such madness. And people who havent been here will never understand its magic. So for all those lesser mortals who havent had the experience, this is what will happen to me sharp 12.oo AM on 16th.
  • Messages would be sent out to all the guys in their room to assemble in the birthday zone.
  • Distruntled MBA grads looking for an outlet for their frustrations will swarm the area like hungry ants.
  • My roomie, poor soul would be scooped off the ground and depending on how badly people want to screw his happiness, will kick his butt till he cant take it anymore or some kind soul throws some pity on him.
  • Next would be my turn. The cheers would be louder, the numbers larger, the kicking harder and the time longer! I would be kicked until i feel or rather stop feeling my backside!
  • Then for the sake of formality, they would sing 'Happy birthday'
  • I say, 'Sake of formality' cause my roomie would be waiting with one of the worst smelling cakes in his hand, ready to be smashed right into the middle of my face. And then the cake would reach my hair, my neck and places i dare not mention on public space!Ocourse i would make sure that my roomie gets a generous share of this cake smashing.
  • Then comes the water. How can you have a birthday celebration without making a mess of the whole place. Buckets of cold water would be poured on the poor souls just for him to discover the places where it is going to hurt tomorrow.
  • And then with the water all over the place and cake strewn all over the place, the Birthday boy is held by his legs and dragged all along the ground to ensure that a fine mix of chocolate flavored slush is everywhere. I am sure the Battle of Panipat looked just like this the day after the war ended!
  • And ofcourse there are certain other things that happen that I dare not put here! :D
  • After that the Birthday boy and his roomies head back to hit the shower and then reassemble with a smaller number of friends to share a better cake, consumed more decently this time.
Well, this is how it is going to go day after and I am so glad that I have had this experience. My 27th birthday would be the start of a new phase and I dont know how that is going to turn up. So watch out for the sequel blog some ten years down the lane! :)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Just bloody brilliant!

How many times do you come across stuff that you read and go "damn! that is so very very very well written!!". I come across it EVERYDAY! Cause every day I make it a point to read Scott Adam's blog, irrespective of how time pressed I am. Scott Adams, for those who aren't into cartoons, is the creator of 'Dilbert', the worlds most worshipped office satire character ever!

Now why is the blog so brilliant?

1. Cause obviously, its so damn well written every time!
2. Cause the ability of the man to blog about just about any silly damn thing is sheer genius in itself! They are things, as a blogger, you wouldn't have even bothered to think twice about. But only Adams, has this brilliant knack of picking up the most mundane and transforming it into the most interesting blog ever! Read his recent post on Paris Hilton to get a taste of what I mean
3. Cause he manges to dole out a post every single day!
4. Cause in those lighthearted posts, he manages to bring in so much of life and maturity in between lines, it never stops to amaze you every time. The recent post on Champagne moments is a true testimonial to what I am tying to say.
5. Cause he manages to get, on an average some 300 comments on every post that he puts on his blog!
6. Cause some of the ideas that come up in the blog are so bloody brilliant and simple at the same time. Read todays post about Iran and you will know why.
7. Cause he is never afraid to speak his mind out, on any issue, any body or any thing!

I am sure when you go through it, there would be tonnes of more points that you would add to this list yourself! So go ahead and do yourself a favor! Read the Dilbert Blog everyday!

Damn! Some people just have the gift!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


“What is that thing in the world, Oh son of Kunti, which is fleeter than the blowing wind?”

“The human mind.”

-Yaksha Prashna, Mahabharata

It is four in the morning. I am not asleep. There are too many things in my head. I have tried to flush them out repeatedly, but to no avail. I don’t like this. I don’t like the idea of not being in control of my thoughts. It’s very unsettling.

There are things that are observed, interpreted by the mind and concluded rationally or otherwise. Sometimes there are things observed, not interpreted at all and still concluded. And there are times when things are not observed, yet they are interpreted and concluded in a jiffy. Also at times, things are observed, but the mind can neither interpret nor conclude. Worse still, is when things are observed and interpreted, but the mind refuses to conclude.

When too many of such conflicts simultaneously exist in your head, vying for equal processing time and energy, it can become quite a mess upstairs. It’s a whirl of logic and nonsense that can take its toll on the little grey cells.

I know this is a very vague post, but what is to be observed, interpreted and concluded is something which I leave to you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Options, options and more options!

If you look closely at my previous posts, most of them have been posted late in the evening or in the night. Now with that piece of information, the natural question that would pop up is "why is it in the middle of the afternoon this time?". Well, the answer is quite simple actually. I am sitting in class. The lecture is so boring that if the voice was recorded and played back to the prof, he would have bored himself to sleep.

Now, obviously, not listening to the prof and blogging during lectures is a sin at any B school. But , let me try to draw the whole list of things that happens in the class while the tirade is on.

1. Orkut!
With scrap counts running amok like a faulty taxi meter, Orkut is the ultimate get away for every bored mind. It doesnt matter that you are a member in a million communities where the only threads are like "play the or game" or "ppl, plz get more active". It is a solace any day, compared to listening to the endless blabber that is thrust on us.

2. Chat!
Yahoo, Gtalk, skype, MSN and in SP, the local IP messenger! You should see it to believe it, or should I say listen to believe it! At times when the prof goes silent for a second to catch his breath, the din of the fingers going berserk on the keyboards is a true testimonial to the prof's capability or should I say incapability.

3. Games
Now gamers can be classified into several categories.
a. Local gamers: Where rules! Minesweepers, solitaire, hangaroo, scrabble, chess...the list is endless.
b. LAN gamers: Where people dare to setup a LAN and in the class play NFS, Counterstrike and AOE, of course with sound muted.
c. Online Gamers: These are a set of people with short attention spans, who cant listen to the prof for long or even play games for a long time. So they log on to websites dedicated to such frustrated students and play the nonsense "put the paper in the dustbin" kind of games.

4. Books - 'e' or otherwise
God bless the Gutenberg project! With tonnes of e-books available for free downloads, constraint to network bandwidths of course, life can be transformed into magical worlds of Tolkien and Kafka, right there on you seats. And then there are a set of bravehearts who feel that the real essence of reading doesnt come unless you read it from hard paper! So out come the books. sometimes hidden behind the laptops and sometimes out in the open, daring the professor to come and ask. Ofcourse, the profs dont dare cause they dont want to risk their own humiliation!

5. Blog!
Like I am cribbing now!

6. Assignments!
Time in a B school in precious. It is not wasted on frivolous things like doing one's assignments well in advance. Time is well apportioned and utilized during the class hours to complete the set of assignments and group works which have to be submitted in the next class. The advantage of doing it in the nth moment is that all other assignments are already there in the folder for you to refer, copy, modify and impart your own gyan to it!

7. Sleep!
Some people have the knack for it! I just hate them. They manage to sleep anywhere, anytime, in any position, in any class, in the first bench, last bench, behind the laptop, beside the laptop, on the elbows, on the floor, on the chairs, on the desk...everywhere, with eyes open, with eyes closed, face covered, not covered....the list is endless.

There is no bigger entertainment in the world that looking at people. The simplest and the most effective thing to kill your boredom is observe how the others are trying to kill theirs! It can be damn funny! Some just stare back at the prof, some into their laptops, some keep falling off the chairs, some keep digging what not, some start drawing in their books, neogbours' books, on neighbors as well, some just cant take it anymore and walk out of the class, some laugh at others looking and laughing at someone else! As dear old Holmes said, "People see, I observe!"

Now, dont you geeky guys get disheartened. There are a set of people who DO listen or try to listen to the prof while the classes are going on. But for them and their notes, life would have been harder out here. But hey! what are friends for anyway!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The road less travelled...

I sling my bag over my shoulder and put on my headphones. Its time to go back to the hostel. I switch on my Creative and Floyd comes out to soothe my mind. My mind is like a cat on a hot tin roof. It moves around too much, it jumps places, it comes out with some serious shit that time and again takes me by surprise. So, i need Floyd. Music and badminton, I think are the only two things that ease my mind.

I am deviating! My mind, of course, is not what this blog is about. Its about me going back to my hostel. Now the walk from my college to the hostel is about 5 minutes, done at a leisurely pace. It was around 10 in the evening.I started walking alone. Its a simple straight road. Paved for some distance it has a college on one side and a temple on the other. I always make it a point to look at the temple while walking through. Not that I am religious, but its become a part of the walk ,which I have to make twice. Hoping, maybe someday I will find the reason why I keep looking at it. The paved road opens into a mud road lined by a beautiful lake on the right. I have always felt that water, in any form looks more beautiful under the starts. Trees on either side of the road give it a quaint elegance that makes the walk that much more enjoyable. It is the road I take everyday, but never stop to just stand and admire. Isnt so many things in life like that. Things and people that are an integral part of our daily life are taken for granted cause they are always there everyday in the same place. But no! Today I decided to stop and watch from a corner. To just watch time make it way across the lonely stretch of earth. To stop and feel the mundane part of my life, to connect all the thoughts and feelings the road has helped me through. Its not retrospection. Its just connecting with something that is a part of you and acknowledging it. In a years time I will be out of SP and the stretch will no longer be a part of my life. I know it.So I just tried to absorb the feeling, standing in the dark, staring at the water and just letting things be.

The path then leads to an huge open stretch of land. Just at the beginning, is a thatched house with people I have never bothered to see. What I do see every time though, is the pack of dogs that lie on the road. Lazy bastards who think twice to even move when a car comes along honking like there is no tomorrow. They are like the missing pieces that complete the picture. I have always enjoyed walking in this stretch cause it sort of changes the canvas suddenly. There you are walking along a narrow stretch of land bound by trees and barbed wire and suddenly the world opens up into this vast nothing. The wind is more welcoming here and it gives you a pleasant feeling of having reached home.

This might sound like a stupid description of a stupid walk through a stupid road. But to me, it gives joy beyond what a common intellect can fathom. Isn't life but a concoction of such small joys and sorrows that everybody holds close to their hearts?

Floyd has made way for Moby who is singing One of these mornings. I walk up to my room with a smile on my face.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Break on through....

Every time I listen to Jim Morrison, I am transported to some other world... and I cant decide which is better, the haunting music or the profound lyrics! Felt i had to just write about it when Winamp honoured me with "Break on through"....

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side, yeah

We chased our pleasures here
Dug our treasures there
But can you still recall
The time we cried
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side

C'mon, yeah

Everybody loves my baby
Everybody loves my baby
She get
She get
She get
She get high

I found an island in your arms
Country in your eyes
Arms that chain us
Eyes that lie
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through, oww!
Oh, yeah!

Made the scene
Week to week
Day to day
Hour to hour
The gate is straight
Deep and wide
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through
Break on through
Break on through
Break on through
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Isnt life all about breaking on to the other side? Beautiful!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The art of report writing

I know! You are thinking shouldn’t it be the science of report writing? How come I have classified it as art? Well it just takes about an year of B school living to bring you to this stage. You realize there are some things that can be done methodically, mechanically just like filling up some bland template. But there are others, where your creativity comes forth, like a specialist chef preparing a mouth watering delicacy or an expert sculptor chilling out the finer nuances of some classic statue. Report writing my friends, is in the same league of fine arts.

Now once you land in a B school you realize that you are dishing out reports left, right and centre life never before. So after honing my skills on it for over a year what are the tricks of the trade I can pass on? After all these should be some method to the madness.

Primary research is waste, trust only copy paste!

Every MBA student has a God. No, it aint Kotler, it aint Warren Buffet or George Soros. It is some thing far beyond the reach of these lesser mortals. The tiny little idea in the heads of Sergy Brin and Larry Page today is the mother of all gyan today. Google my friends, is the answer to all problems. Believe it or not sometimes you will get the entire report that you have to prepare online, neat and ready to be downloaded. If you aren’t that lucky, don’t fret. There is always some para, some figure, some table, and some data that will fit into your scheme of things. Its just about the super googling skills that will come into play. Once you learn the art of googling my friend, there is no stopping your juggernaut.

Mole hills to mountains

There is no denying the fact that what you are putting in the report is the most mundane, oft repeated bull shit that everyone in your class has put in. So what makes you special? What is your USP? It’s simple! Exaggerate! Till the last full stop you put on your report make use of every possible opportunity to blow the scope. An innocuous table is made into a ‘comprehensive database’; a simple source of data is transformed into ‘well-ground research’; a simple method is labeled as a ‘storyboard approach’; ordinary people from the corporate world are promoted to ‘opinion leaders of the industry’! And believe me it works. No one wants a run of the mill non entity! A humdinger you expect; a humdinger you shall get!

Charts, tables, figures….and all that jazz

All MBAs feel insecure without quant stuff! It’s a disease if you ask me. It’s like a muddles lover going on one knee and saying “Darling, you complete me!” Every report will have a atleast have a couple of tables, some great diagrams, flowcharts, eye popping list of references and a truckload of number crunching. It doesn’t matter if it’s relevant to the topic or not! I know how to use the most complex excel functions and I am going to show off!

Chitti Chiiti Bang Bang!

An AK 47 can fire some hundred rounds in a second they. A MBA grad is worse. Bullet points spill across the pristine white paper like there is no tomorrow. Some wiseguy must have told in some communications class that the approach should be objective. So there you go! Every page has like a main heading, sub headings, sub topics under the subheadings and points under every subheading! I don’t even want to talk about the indentation. I think if there is some statistic similar to MIPS, maybe MBPR, millions of bullet points per report!

Just a little seasoning of Jargon!

Why do you think Chicken Tikka Masala is almost the national dish of UK? It’s spicy and its popular. If your report is the chicken breast, then the jargon my friend is the masala. Moving up the value chain, understanding the customer, minimizing turn around time, optimum utilization of resources, minimizing risk, change management…. It’s a shamelessly long list that is the bread and butter of every student. I really pity the profs who look at these reports (or do they?) Every year the same jargon, from every student, in every report, across all subjects! Man! It should be a pain going through them year after year!

It’s all in the packaging honey!

Double line page borders, delicate colors on excel sheets, fancy fonts, justifies paras, pivot tables, immaculate table of contents…you will get the most fancy of reports to the hilt. I some times wonder was more effort put on the report writing or the packaging. The popular proverb goes ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. Let’s not talk about reports!

So that was the inside info about “the art of report writing” .Do you think you have it in you to be an artist as well? No issues. Just join a B school!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


We were ten of to start with. Then Lamp had something coming up, Kouki fell ill, Amshu had an emergency, Koba had work and Bobby had relatives coming home. So it was left to only five of us. Vishwas, my cousin, his classmate Deepak, both of them doctors just passing out of college, Dubuk my pal from IBM, Muppy from the good ole TCS days and yours truly. And the mission set to conquer was Kumara Parvata, Karantaka's highest peak.
Muppy and I

We set out on Friday night on a KSRTC bus to Kukke Subramanya. Kukke is one of the holy places of Karantaka and happens to be the base point for the trek. It was a herculean task getting tickets for the bus as no other private operator had buses going to Kukke. Later we came to know that the main road connecting to Kukke was broken some where and a deviation had to be taken. Boy and what a deviation it was. The bus went through ponds, dirt tracks, marshes and everything else but a road. Having got only the seats at the end of the bus, the faithful friends of mine decided it would be a fitting tribute to me if I sat in the last row. So to everybody who wished me a nice journey, I just want to say I enjoyed every bit of the ride, the half when I was on the seat and the other half where I was in the air.

The peak

Having reached Kukke by around 7 in the morning we should have started the trek right away. But all we wise men decided to take a room and freshen up. So thus went the costliest loo break of my life, paying 400 bucks for a mere 1.5 hr stay. We started the trek around 9 in the morning, our half way pit stop being Bhattara mane ( Bhat's house). The peak can be reached by two routes, one via Kukke and the other being Somarpet. The kukke trail is supposed to be the steeper and obviously harder of the two. The trail runs right through the dense junfle to start with. Even at 9 in the morning the humidity levels were so high with the jungle all five of us were sweating like steam engines in no time. The high humidity coupled with the heavy backpacks was just the perfect combination to drain every ounce of fluid in our bodies. The good doctors prepared ORS and all kinds of energy boosters only to realize its not so easy to beat the mountain. I have been on treks before but nothing insane like this before. There is no freaking respite from the the slope. No flat lands, no breathing space, no nothing. It just keeps throwing steep paths one after the other with no mercy. As they say only the fools rush in! On the way we overtook a bunch of people who had left some time before us. Every one of them were wearing the same brigt orange T shirt with "Cobrosis" written in bold letter across. We guessed they must be with some adventure team only to come to know later that they were all members of the same family and Cobrosis stood for Co brothers and sisters. Talk about a weird world!

For the man who doesnt have to try, too hard

The jungle after some time opens up into a grasslands which means that although the humidity reduces the there is no canopy on the top to shield us from the sun. With rains having started just around a fortnight ago the grass was looking fresh, but during October/November the whole place looks like a golf course. Unfortunately this being May and the peak of the summer, the situation was quite different. And if you are Mr.Dubuk weighing 110 Kgs and having a 15Kilo bag on your back life almost comes to a standstill on the trek. I have lost count the number of times he proclaimed on the way that this would be the last trek that he would ever be on. Next time we would be heading somewhere cooler and and on road! The rest of us were managing a normal pace but for Mr. Deepak. We thought his brain was sending him signals that he was strolling through some flower garden or some thing and he just used to climb like a mountain goat with the minimum of effort. And just to hurt our egos a little bit more we got overtaken by a lungi clad guy from the forest department climbing up with Hawaii slippers and 20 kilos rice on his shoulder. But despite all these, its always a pleasure to trek. To listen to the sound of the leaves being crushed below your feet, the constant egging of the crickets, the occasional chirping of the birds, your breath so loud it could wake Rip van winkle and head so clear you can listen to your thoughts aloud. No pain no gain!

Friendly neighborhood spider, man!

Finally we manged to make it to Bhattara mane, the half way point. For over thirty years these people have stayed here giving food, shelter and water to people who have been trekking up the mountain. There were already three other groups of trekkers there. Twenty odd students from RV college, a bunch of 9 guys from Bangalore and 3 others who had started the trek along with us. For a mere thirty rupees you will get the most unforgettable lunch of your lives. Steaming rice, hot sambar, clear buttermilk and pickles. They say a drowning man catches a straw. i believe in that. You should have seen us hogging that day.

Now we were left with the tricky question. Weather to camp up in the peak or to stay there. To climb up and return here by nightfall was impossible. If we had trekked up to the peak we were told that we had to face the fury of the inevitable rains and wind. Like wise men we had only sleeping bags and no tents! And with Muppy running a slight fever we were left with no other option but to halt there and start the remaining trek the next morning. But with 25 people already staying over in the house at night we had no place to stay. So went a little ahead to request to the forest department guards to let us stay over at their outpost. And i should say it was one of the most beautiful locations that one could over imagine. The door opening to the view of the majestic peaks in the front, covered by milk white mist playing hide and seek with the mountains, sprawling green grass to cover the the whole area and a pretty flower bed right next to the house. I dont know for how many hours we sat there just staring at the view and trying to absorb each second of the peace and beauty that it offered.

Near Bhattara Mane

It grew dark by around 6 30 and we had a nice little dinner thanks to the Holige Vishwas's mom had sent and of course some ever so convenient bread and jam. The group who had decided to trek and stay over at the top returned by around eight, unable to face the wrath of the lashing rain and the danger of lightning strikes. The wind they said was so hard that it blew away twenty kilo stones that they had used to put up the tents. So, there went our night out plans, in sleeping bags inside the house! Of course the guy sleeping next me ensured that his symphony of snores kept me awake all night but still it was to hard to keep the eyes open.

The next morning we all set out early around 6 30. The mist was all over the tracks and the dew sitting on every possible corner of the grass blades. The weather was just perfect for our climb and we made a good pace.But it was the same old story. Steep paths and no respites! It was a funny feeling trekking up then cause your body is so heated up because of the constant climbing and the weather around is freezing cold. A thermometer on our skins would have got muddled up in no time if we had tried. We reached this place called the Mantapa by around 9 to catch out breaths. We were on good time considering that we had a bus to catch at night and it would rain like crazy from evening. Muppy had recovered from his fever only to pass it on to Dubuk. He was finding it almost impossible to climb even when the weather was great and he had no backpack to carry. We just had to ensure that there was someone with him always while climbing. From the mantapa it took us around an hour to reach Shesha parvata. Its like a cruel joke actually. After the life taking trek you feel that you have reached the top only to realize that its a a false peak! Infact most first timers trek back after they reach this point. But it is a fantastic point to be on. The whole place was covered with clouds and mist and it offered some breath taking views.

The gang sans Dubuk

We had to climb down Shesha parvata to reach the actual peak. Now this trek is through a jungle again. But there is a difference! While the jungle we trekked initially was hot and humid this was cool and damp. And when it is damp and you have vegetation on the ground get ready for leeches. The slimy bastards were there everywhere. They keep standing vertically on end and other swaying around in the air sniffing for idiots like us who would cross the path. And they latch on to you in a fraction of a second. If they latch on, you wouldnt even know cause they inject something like local anesthetics. Only when they have sucked your blood to their hearts content, bloated up to about five times their size and fall off you will realize they bit you cause the wound will still be bleeding! It really pays to wear white socks and shoes there cause you can easily spot them. But the issue is that if you stop to remove one that has climbed up, the rest will get on to your other shoe! Its crazy! The only option there is, is to literally run! And with a slight incline, heavy backpacks, thinner air and legs that have decided to fall apart it is a brilliant trick that the mountain plays on you. The leechy forest we termed it. Ingenious i know! A scientist from the Tata institute got lost in these jungles quite recently and it took them 6 days to find him. He was covered from head to toe with leeches and had they found him a day later he would have been dead.

The Leechy forest

Having crossed the forest we reached a rocky climb that we had to cross, accompanied with a tricking stream. The summit was quite disappointing actually. The mountain is so huge that the peak is actually flat land and offers no pretty views to enjoy. And with mosquitoes the size of golf balls biting through the shirts we had to scoot quite quickly. But among all the groups that were there we felt proud as we were the only two who made it to the complete summit and were the first ones to do so! On the trek back we had to again run through the leechy forest to save our lives. Muppy in fact ran so fast we all decided that he must have royal blood which should not be split on the ground. We met Cobrosis gang at the rocky path and half the RV gang at the mouth of the forest. They decided it was too risky to go thought the forest and also it was already twelve in the noon. So they decided to trek back with us.

The summit

The trek back up to the mantapa was swift and purposeful. On reaching the place we met a bunch of frenzied people from the RC gang who wanted to know who the doctor was. One of them had fallen down unconscious and was having what seemed like severe convulsions! Vishwas and Deepak immediately got into action and took control of the situation. It was surely not fits they declared and the only thing to do was to wait for him to wake up as he was in his REM sleep. After a frantic half an hour he woke up to the relief of everybody. A quick check up reveled that he was alright except that there was no vision perception in his right eye. Vishwas was worried cause he had fallen to his right and hence his vision on the left eye should have been affected. Since it was his right eye he suspected something more serious was the case and advised them to immediately take him down and get a scan. Its was really amazing to watch the whole thing. Just a bunch of kids who were with us goofing around talking bullshit like everyone suddenly transform into a someone who gives hope and meaning to so many people. For once in life I felt,damn this engineering degree has got me no where.

Gimme ur blood and I shall gv u freedom

Among all this confusion we had lost an hour and were terribly behind schedule. Dubuk meanwhile who was behind all of us had taken another path in an intersection and had by passed the Mantapa! With fever and a body not cooperating for a second he was on his own with no water and no cap! Poor guy was so thirsty that he manged to lay his hand on a straw lying on the road and drink some water from a puddle on the road!! Boy! he wont forget his trek in a long while! It was 3 45 by the time we reached Bhattara mane, had lunch and started out again.

Wanna jump?

The trek down we hoped would be quicker than the ascent. But what did we know! With the toes bearing the brunt of the body weight while getting crushed within the shoes, the knees taking constant pressure during the heavy descents and the ankles for ever in the mercy of the stones in the path, it was a whole new deal! And with Dubuk finding it just impossible to get down it was a slow painful trek down.The more time we lost we knew the treat of getting caught in the the rain was higher. But the poor guy was in shape to step up the pace. And the inevitable happened. For people who dont know, it just doesnt rain in these parts of the country, it just pisses down like there is no tomorrow! And we had no option but to continue on the wet rocks, fading light and unforgiving rain! By the time we hit the main road and the hotel it was six thirty and we were all soaked to the bone! With all clothes in the bag wet as well we had no option but to travel again in the night with the dripping clothes, And I dont even want to talk about the night journey (which again was in the last seats of the bus), the roads or the lack of them!

The proof!

I am sitting here now two days later with blisters on my feet, pain so high in my thighs and calves that I am unable to climb down a couple of stairs straight! Will I get on such a trek again? Bet your last cent that I will! There are few joys in the world than going up an mountain and coming down.

To all those who were with me in the trek, guys! this was undoubtedly the best trek I was ever on. And to those who couldnt, I say, sorry guys, it was your bad luck!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Missed Blogathon?

Its been a while since I have blogged. And what is the reason for that you may ask. I have loads of lame excuses to give. No Time, I am doing my MBA or I utilize my time better doing more productive work or some crap like that. But to be honest there are no excuses. Its just plain sloth. So what do I blog about I am wondering. So much has happened over the past one year, I dont know where to start and where to end? What to include and what to leave out? Its all such a blur.

Do I talk about the zillion tests I have given and how I have managed to scrape through the first year of my post graduation? Do I talk about birthday celebrations and the crazy life in the hostel that I am seeing for the first time in my life? Do I talk about Acad groups and assignments? Do I talk about reading case studies till 3 in the morning and then going for a cup of Horlicks and bland maggi. Do I talk about 3 crazy days in Lonavala in all the rain and slush? Do I talk about the Geeta, Swamijis and horrible loos? Do i talk about the one many army called Baba Amte and his vision? Do I talk about the Guild of actors @ SP? Of Kamala, Jai singh, rehearsals, lights and action? Do I talk about Placcom, MFOI and the control room? Do I talk about the magic of ADMAP, the Nanavathi hospital and the six thinking hats? Do I talk about my nirvana and an event called Bhavitva, the stage and CEOs sitting on it? Do I talk about managed float exchange rates, Maslows hierarchy, capital budgeting or buzz marketing? Do i talk about the Mumbai rains? Do i talk about the NCPA and the Marine drive? Do i talk about Lokhandwala and Infinity mall? Do i talk about Vrindi and hot vadas? Do i talk about Andheri Sports Complex and advance booking? Do I talk about the many brilliant movies I have managed to watch or do I talk about the magic of IP messenger? Do I talk about the tonnes of new friends I have made? Do I talk about highs and lows, the pains and the pleasures? Do i talk about what the past gave me or what the future holds? Do I talk about ........ I rather shut up!