Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year @ Immadihalli, Whitefield, Bangalore

Happy New Year. Well, I was kind of confused or rather confused without kind of while thinking how to celebrate my new year, that is, the much hyped 00:00:00 of 1st January 2009. I was quite in a fix when I started out around 8.15 and reached the whitefield main road around 8.30. The first thing I saw there was a Red Vajra bus No 333P which goes to MG road and Majestic too, which is on the way to my sister's home. I felt like it was an invitation as I've to wait for this bus whenever I plan to go somewhere. But.. I didn't go.

After moving hundred meters of the cross/bus stop in one direction and a hundred in the other, I settled for 'food first, rest later' strategy and had my dinner at Mayuri Sagar. The food was fine but I felt the thirst I used to at Dhaba, the drink thirst. I don't yet take hard drinks, but can't classify it as soft drink thirst because the effect of soft drinks during this thirst isn't exactly as soft drinks are supposed to leave.

Well, in that mode of mine, I bought an Appy Fizz (cause Mirinda can wasn't there) and started moving in the two hundred meters range I was previously walking, with the deceptive Fizz bottle in my hand, even moving in a way that was deceptive.

While coming back from the Dhaba, I always needed people when I was in such a mode and always got some victims. But this time, there were none present there, so I had to take up the phone. After finishing my Fizz, I called up a friend who tried her best to find some way out for me to celebrate, but since there were actually none, she couldn't find out. Finally I decided to pass some time in the nearby Reliance Fresh and do some shopping, that is biscuits, and more biscuits.

While at Reliance Fresh, I called up my mother and talked to her, and while on the way back, my local guardian, my Jijaji called up. As I reached my room, I and my flatmate Ambuj were thinking how to celebrate our time of the year. Finally, after some usual time pass, I decided to make a list of books I would want to read this year. Ambuj did the same too.

As my list of some twenty-five books was over, sounds of crackers being burst started coming in and we decided to move out of our home to see what was happening outside. I was a bit shocked and a lot surprised to see that people were bursting crackers like anything and everyone looked very enthusiastic, even in the dim lights of street at midnight. And then came the real surprise, when a girl from the party saw us and offered wishes and cake. It was heartening to see people offering cake to us, as we are totally unknown to all in the neighborhood yet.

Later, we both had our time receiving calls from friends and eating biscuits. And then, listening to the Samrat's story of party at UB City when he came at 2.

It was a different type of celebration but it was one. Better than the non-celebration I was afraid of. I wish the year goes well like this too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kill piracy.. Shall we ever?

It's a question to which i've no answer. Really. India has changed a lot in the past few years. So has the entertainment industry, especially in its try to curb piracy. The rates of movies' cd's have come down to an affordable and reasonable rupees 150, Moserbaer has brought a number of movies at prices down to earth, Cinema halls have changed to multiplexes, at least in big cities, and we've movies on tv in just a few months.

But still, with all these things changed, one thing that hasn't changed is piracy. The number of movie goers has increased, number of cd buyers has increased, but i don't think the number of pirated cd's sold has decreased. I can still see pirated cd's being sold in shops, roadsides, and buses and trains.

The fact is that at the time of writing i'm sitting in front of tv where my sister's dvd player is showing me a blurred rab ne bana di jodi with a blurred voice.

We see pirated movies in hostels, no doubt, lots of them, coming from internet, traveling on USB drives and even wirelessly. But it's not that just students watch pirated movies. Even people who earn lots of money do watch these pirated movies, my sister just being a representative of them here.

In fact i couldn't resist the temptation to watch the movie myself. And i'm watching the movie too. It's hardly a great experience and nothing compared to watching a movie in the cinema hall. But when I can save money and time wasted not just in the cinema hall but more than that transportation, I think a little blur can be borne with.

Actually, for now, i don't think piracy is going to end. And so, I guess it's better I watch the movie now and we'll discuss the piracy problem later. But the fact is that this question will remain there. Will piracy come to an end?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Write priorities

Today I read news that says Bangalore shopkeepers will be fined if they do not write their signboards in Kannada. Even if it's not something Raj Tackeray like, I do not think it's the right path that we are taking.

I think we are setting our priorities wrong. I'm not saying that police is not doing it's work, not enforcing law where it should and not catching thieves, robbers and terrorists, but I still think we're in the wrong lane.

I don't really think it matters to those who are shopping whether the signboards are in Kannada or not. Whether they understand English or not. But I think it does matter if somebody hits you and runs and you are not able to read the number of the vehicle.

Yes, I'm talking about the law that deals with the number plates on vehicles in India. As far as law is concerned, every vehicle in India should have a number plate in Roman numerals which is ethically correct too as everyone cannot read numbers in local languages, especially in a city like Bangalore where lot of outsiders are there, while Roman numerals are known to everybody who knows how to read.

But still, I find vehicles on the road, public and private, which do not have number plates in Roman numerals at all. And I don't think anybody tries to fine them.

I don't disagree with the people who feel a shop in Karnataka should have signboards in Kannada. (In fact that way I get more practice of reading Kannada) But I think first we need to set our priorities right.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can they leave at least THEM?

While the country salutes the heroes who fought the terrorists, our politicians don't forget to encash whatever they can. When I saw this banner, I really didn't understand what the local politicians showing on the left of the banner have done to get their pics smiling beside the Mumbai martyrs. Isn't it possible to leave some people without finding your personal benefits from them?

Do we want politicians' photos with our heroes?

And yes, this is not about some party or someone specific. It's a shame to use the name of these martyrs for their own benefit for all the politicians, wherever they are and whichever party they belong to.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's up, Bangalore!

It's been long since I wrote something light on this blog. In fact it's been long since I actually wrote anything on this blog except a Raj Thackeray piece, that is, the one below. So, here we go, on my training in Bangalore.

The fact is that I do not want to write anything about the training or the office. They are too boring to be talked about. Right now I'm in a class of 37 and I hardly remember names of half of them, that is, when there are 5 from my previous batch and a few others from my college also.

So, if the training is boring, what is good at Bangalore. Traffic is certainly not. I start early, at 7-7.15 in the morning so that I reach my center in time. And then, I reach home when the clock is almost in the same position, making it a 12 hour workday for me.

Well, the only good thing at Bangalore is FM. (counting only things, not people, who've been really good, they'll be taken up later sometime) Especially 94.3, the Radio One has been simply great. This channel gives 99.9% Hindi songs (maybe 100, not sure) with Hindi-English-Kannada mixed chattering all the time. They get the credit for my listening to Haule Haule and Guzarish before they reached me through net.

Actually I have a parallel FM too, and that does even have these chatterers in between. It's pure and simple music, songs one after the other. Back to back in the RJs' language. And this is courtesy my cellphone which right now has some 336 songs, that is in a 470 MB memory card. (generally known as a 512 MB card) The only disadvantage with the 'parallel' FM is that it doesn't have ONE song. Here ONE means the latest one.

For example, it didn't have Haule Haule when FM played it for the first time. Then after two days I had all the songs of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and then after one day I didn't have Guzarish that was being played on FM. So it's just that my FM is one song behind, which is covered up by Radio One.

Other than that, there is 'The Afghan' by Fredrick Forsyth that I'm trying to read in buses and office breaks. But the not-that-interesting book has to fight a lot for my time, with FM and sleep always on the cards. The most surprising thing is that I haven't yet seen Fashion, or any other movie for that matter since I've come here.

Hope things are better when I'm out of training. Till then, it's Java, J2EE, Oracle, RDBMS, tests, projects, JBoss, Eclipse, Head First, Complete Reference....

God Bless Me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is it Only Raj?

It's been really long since I want to write something about Raj Thackeray. I was hating him from the core of my heart. But for the past few days I'm not hating Raj that much. Actually it's not that I'm not hating Raj that much, but the thing is that I'm feeling more hatred for others now.

First of all, I should clarify that in what I write ahead, I do not support Raj Thackeray in any of the activities he has done or any of his statements or policies.

Actually this is something that was running in my mind for quite long. It was made more clear when I read an article by Mrunal Pande in 'Hindustan' and the spark for writing this came from the huge hoardings of LK Advani that I've been looking at for past one week while travelling in Bangalore buses.

Raj Thackeray is a selfish person. No doubt about that. He has done all things he could to get himself in the news and has put his hand on a pulse of many Marathis. At the same time, he has fallen to levels not generally found in today's India, that is, with a few exceptions from UP or maybe Bihar, mainly in the less educated areas of these two states.

But the way Raj has done it, he has found some support from even educated people, something that is not easily found in the 'less educated' UP or Bihar.

All this is certainly very unfortunate. More unfortunate is that people will still cast their votes in favor of Raj and he will get what he has done all this for.

But the most unfortunate thing according to me, is the silence of the so-called leaders of our country. Be it Sonia Gandhi, the lady above the PM and President of our country, or LK Advani, who probably finds himself the most suitable person for the next Prime Minister, or even Manmohan Singh, our Prime Minister himself, all are afraid of commenting against The Great Raj Thackeray. Of course, their party spokespersons have issued the press statements from the respective parties condemning the 'unfortunate incidents'. But our national leaders who are not hesitant to disturb entire rescue operations in floods, fires, earthquakes and bomb blasts just to show their faces, are hiding behind the curtains when they need to speak up. Actually I do not know what they fear, but I guess it must be fear of losing votes by some calculations because that is the only thing they are afraid of.

That's the reason I'm hating these leaders more than Raj Thackeray nowadays. What Raj has done is surely beyond all limits, but there is one thing I felt good about him when I compared him to these leaders -- that he has a stand of his own, however bad, wrong, dividing, disturbing or destroying it is. Our leaders are of no use if they cannot take a stand of their own in such conditions. When I compare the two, i feel there is no better to go to, while one is all set to divide the country, others are quietly watching the drama unfolding itself, waiting for the next move of the artist.

Overall, I feel it's not just Raj Thackeray who is trying to divide our country. All those who are sitting and enjoying this drama instead of trying to end it, are playing their roles in the drama too. And when this drama ends, I do not know where will me and my country be.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Run maadi Run

Catching the bus back from TCS Trivandrum is always a tough job for me. I mean, I avail the bus service provided by the company, and I am talking about the bus provided by the company only. But it always comes so late and when it comes, there is always maara-maari for a place. Especially when we get the good one. Because it's one or two short of our strength and one or two guys always go standing. That day it was my turn.

And I'll have to say, it was one of my best bus journeys, at least of those between Hotel Mas and Technopark. I generally sing all the songs into the window when I'm in the bus, so that others aren't troubled. But this day I wasn't concerned about others troubles, probably because I was the one standing while others were sitting. The other guy standing was Naveen. Also a few others were there till the gate of Technopark. And there it was our CR who boarded the bus for a ride to the executive hostel which is some half kilometer from the Technopark.

I remember we were shouting out Khalbali with AR Rehman and Naresh Iyer, me and Naveen at least. The girl was silently bearing the pain of all the voices. Soon she got out and we were shouting more loudly. At least I was, as Naveen hardly had left any scope remaining already. Also, with his voice, I was always the humbler one.

That was probably the first day Naveen got into the back rows of the bus and made almost everybody sing. Thanks to our bus driver's wonderful collection, the songs playing were Khalbali, Meri Neend, Mast Kalandar, and same sort. All the way it was I wasted my energy as much as I could and when I reached hostel, I was soooo... energetic. So much so that I moved out of the hostel within a few minutes of coming. Just as soon as I was out of my tie and shoes and back into my VIT UNIVERSITY T-shirt, I took my phone, purse, headphones, and put them on, to start on an unknown track.

I started on the road in front of my hotel. The side I knew had the market. I walked past the market, the one I knew, to some new roads, keeping it straight. Guess some 2-2.5 kms later, I took a little turn and saw a bookshop. It was quite big and even a few foreigners were strolling inside. I got into the shop and started looking up the books there. Quite a few books caught my interest too, but I didn't want to spend much money, as I had not yet received my first salary.

Then there was another book called 'You Are Here' that caught my attention. Probably because of the name of the author, it's bright colorful cover, and an introduction that completely mismatched the name of the author. Actually the book's author is called Meenakshi Reddy Madhvan, a South Indian name that brings me the smell of Sambar-Rice and when talking in books, some serious subjects. But here it was, a book with a few lines on it's cover, looking like a map, and showing points as: The job that sucks, Smoke first postcoital cigarette, do-not-disturb: perfect make out session in progress, attend dad's second wedding as bridesmaid, and so on.

At the same time, I saw another book called 'reluctant fundamentalist' that looked quite readable. Also, I saw later that it was nominated for the man booker prize. Both these books costed Rs 200 each. And I thought I'd buy the fundamentalist book. But for some reason quite unknown to myself, I bought the other one.

On the way back, I was quite exhausted as I had already been standing in the bus and now it was a complete 5 kms way up and down for me. Finally when I reached the Hotel, it took all my will to get up for the dinner. Yet another run to the Ramji Bhojnalaya.

Time to Act

It was a class of personal grooming by Ms.Jaysree. A first again. She came, talked some things about first impressions, dress sense, etiquette and professional and unprofessional behavior, and after some time, suddenly divided us into four 'random' groups and said that we'll have to come up with a skit that would differentiate between professional and unprofessional behavior. She allotted us ten minutes for that though later it was extended.

I was in a group of eleven, with three girls, two Naveens, and five more guys. We decided to go with two groups shown as two companies, the professional company and the unprofessional company, and one common client, Sugam.

I myself was a manager in the professional company. Quite boring. And I guess I played my role strictly OK. May be worse than that. But on the whole our skit went well. Even though we were group number 3 and called on first.

Later on, there was one more group that I loved, because of Dhruv's acting. Dhruv Mandal (dhroo-bo-mon-dol), actually a Bengali, played a Punjabi customer of a telephone company, and kept all the class and the facilitator laughing for almost 5 minutes. One thing I had to accept that I had never seen a Bengali speaking such wonderful Punjabi, without a trace of Bengali accent.

Later when the skits were over, Jaysree said all the plays were good but story wise, group three did the best. Hurrah! She also said, pointing to Dhruv, that she didn't know we had such good actors in our batch. It was one class I liked a lot. In fact I remember Dhruv's great acting and I think it'll stay in my memory for long.

Yet another lesson learnt was once again about our abilities and our potential. Once again I came to know we were capable of performing quite well on such a short notice while previously I used to be afraid of acting even after long sessions of rehearsals. Hope it makes me less fearing for the future.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sesame

Probably it was my third day in ILP. We were called in Sesame, a small auditorium of almost 120, 3 batches. It was supposed to be a lecture on life skills by Sakina Hussain.

Yet another boring lecture, yet another bunch of slides on Microsoft PowerPoint, probably the most used software at the ILP, I had thought. But it turned out to be better than that. First of all, when Sakina came in, she was quite good at speaking, or talking, to be more precise. In a hall where people later communicated through microphones, she was audible to everyone without it. A genuine positive point if you have a good voice.

And after some talking, she gave us an exercise. She started numbering students 1-2-3-4-...15 and then repeated the same till the end. Then, all the 1s, 2s, 3s and so on were asked to come together. Thus, all of us were divided into 15 random groups of 8-9 each and each of us had to know the entire group as much as we could in 15-20 minutes. And when it was finished, she asked questions on group members. And once the introduction was done, she asked names of students across groups.

It was a great exercise and we got to know more people than we generally do in the same amount of time. But the exercise didn't give as good results as it was a combination of three batches while there is need of communication inside batches themselves.

Another thing I got confirmed about is that I can remember details of 8 people in such a short time. Yet another underestimation of one's own abilities.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Clove

It was my second day at TCS Trivandrum. The day assigned for ILP Pretest. I had hardly done any preparation except a few things which I had seen on the previous day evening. And I guess most of my 'colleagues' were equally well prepared.

The test was supposed to start at 9.30 and we had instructions to be present in the 'Clove' by 9 sharp. Clove is the lab where the test was held. We reached clove in time but what happened inside was not the least we had expected from the Tata Consultancy Services.

After we entered the lab, we found that some of the systems were not working for us for various reasons. And so, almost 20 students were standing without systems. Interestingly my college had a majority with 11 of them being from the same.

The problem didn't end there. When the invigilators came and told us how to log in and take the test, the database server started showing connection failure. Once, twice, thrice.. We soon became used to a new thing. We had to reload almost every page again and again to reach the servers. Yes, those twenty-something number of students were.. Sorry, colleagues, were sent to some other lab where they could find systems and finally, we were able to start the test at around 10.15 AM.

It was a test of 30 minutes duration with 19 questions. The interesting thing was that it wasn't questions that really troubled us. It was the test that did. The procedures, the systems, the hardware and the software were the troubles. Supposedly we had to finish the test before the half an hour was over once the test started. That was to be performed by clicking a button that said Submit and Finish Test, or something like that, followed by a confirmation, but when we started doing the same almost 5 minutes before the end of time, it was failures of connection that came our way once again.

I pressed the finish button with more than 3 minutes remaining and thankfully, I was able to get it done after reloading the page just once. Yay! And I got a score of 45 out of 100. A failure by TCS standards (they ask for 55% in tests after this. This one is just a pretest.) but I was pretty good by my standards and was happy that I was able to see my score. Those who lost their submissions to failed database connections were later consoled as they were told their marks could be found from the back end of the system. Though I don't know if that has really been done as most probably the students who didn't get the score that time didn't get it later also.

Now, the question on my mind is, why so? I know how good and credible are the TCS products for clients. Then why do database connections fail while employees are taking test?

I guess I can't answer that. Probably it's part of the ILP. Part of our Learning. And the answer is a TCS Top Secret which mortals like me will not be knowing easily!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sage, Saffron

Peepul Park TCS looks quite impressive from outside, but since I had seen quite big buildings in VIT, I didn't feel something odd. Before I got inside I came to know we couldn't bring in any cameras, laptops, or even pen drives. Thankfully nothing was written about a camera phone so I took it in. Though, later I came to know that camera phones, once banned, were allowed in the campus but photography was strictly prohibited.

Inside was a normal experience for the first time as there was quite a crowd of us and I am now used to crowd. But later I realized that the campus is really big as far as the structure was concerned.

But what was interesting about TCS was that they had called us there before 8 when we had our first class at 9. And this one hour was given for breakfast. Intelligent people - they know I always used to skip breakfast during all my engineering. Now I can't as the same schedule takes place everyday. The canteen @ TCS TVM gave milk (Horlicks/Bournvita/Boost/corn flakes) at Rs 10 and Dosa/Idly at Rs 12. It still does. Almost the same can be said about the prices of Lunch but it's not that good, especially salt is always, ALWAYS too less. Probably absent.

And then, we entered Sage. Sage was a lecture hall with a seating capacity of around 200 and 2 large screen. After enjoying Sage for some 20 minutes, we were told we had to be in Saffron, a mirror image of Sage, and not there in Sage itself. So, the few of us were shown the way to the nearby hall where a presentation had just started and we were quickly given a Reynolds 045 pen and a notepad carrying the TCS name.

Our first belongings from the TCS.

I don't really remember who it was who gave the presentation, as I wasn't there from the very start, but the most interesting lines I remember from that presentation were: "Worry about your cellphone, your purse, your valuables. Don't worry for your original certificates. These are of no use for others. You can leave them wherever you want."

By the way, one thing I forgot to tell is that there were a number of students from my college in this batch of TCS ILP too. As I later counted, I could identify 24 VITians of them in the auditorium of 202.

The day went in a few inductions followed by long HR verifications of original certificates. The verifications were over the first day itself but the inductions went on for almost a week except for that of Programming Concepts of which we have 3 sessions a day now. That is almost 6 hours. Thankfully it was not shown on our first day.

Well, in case you don't know, TCS expects you to do some reading in advance before you come for the ILP. And for that they have a test on the second day of the training, which is known as Pretest. Our pretest schedule was out up and we had to take our first test in TCS on the next day morning at 9.

The first day ended at around 6 and we left by our bus with a new series of songs. This time songs were almost a year or so old. Superb again. I had found something matching my tastes in Trivandrum. My bus.

First Experience (ILP @ TCS Trivandrum)

In the sky

Fortunately I have been on a lot of flights by now. But most of the times it used to be Deccan or Jetlite, or a few Spicejet ones recently. But this time things changed as I boarded on an Indigo and a Jet airways plane on the same day.

I was coming to Trivandrum from New Delhi and I had to change flights for that in Chennai. And the Chennai Trivandrum flight of Jet turned out to be a great experience. It was a small ATR plane I boarded and I got a window seat there. I don't know why I could see below all the time - was it the small size of the plane or the height it was flying at, or simply my first flight where I didn't sleep at all, but I could see below - on the ground, the cities, forests, roads, rivers, and clouds, lots of lots of them. Another thing I loved on Jet flight was food. Later I got to know it was Taj's food they served.

God's Own Country

As soon as the plane reached Trivandrum, I could see trees and trees on the ground. I could see the city and at the same time, lots of trees, a long sea shore, and a lot of trees again.

When I landed, I felt Kerala deserved to be called God's own country. It was trees all around, and people living in an environment covered by those coconut trees looked different from those living in any other capital in India I have been to.

Also, on my way to Hotel from airport, I could see lots of women, mostly girls in their teens. And there was a difference I could instantly see: They All looked educated. It showed on their faces. There were only a few uneducated looking faces of those selling fishes beside the road. Even the main city is quite good with trees wherever they got place.

And then there are the beaches. Well, by now I have seen only the not-that-popular beach of Trivandrum, called Sangamagam or something like that only and liked it a lot, more than any other I have seen in the past. Quite understandably, I want to see what will Kovalam be like, considering it is known as the best beach in Asia.

Pehli Nazar Mein...

I slept around 12 and got up at 6 for my first day of job, training to be more precise. 6 for me was quite early and I was feeling very sleepy when I got on to the bus at 7.30. But as the bus started, I couldn't believe my ears for a second. It was Atif's 'Pehli Nazar Mein' playing in high volume. I was no more sleepy. And by the time we reached Technopark, it was 3 songs of Rock On!!

Now I'm standing in front of my office at Technopark, Trivandrum.

Tata Consultancy Services. Peepul Park.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In God's own country

Right now i'm at trivandrum. In case u don't know, for my ilp, the initial learning program by the tata consultancy services. And for now, though i'm busy at the company all the day and badly in need for sound sleep all the time, i'm loving it. The city is great. I've already been to the kovalam and sangamagam beaches. The fact is that i've a lot to write but due to lack of time i'm unable to write and unable to post the written. Though now i hope to do the same soon as my net seems to be working today. After seven days, thanks to airtel, my internet is back.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dhoni Savvy Media

A few years earlier we used to have media savvy people. But now, we are having the opposite, people savvy media. Actually, it's not a people savvy media, but a celebrity savvy media. They make celebrities, they run programs on them, increase their TRPs, and then dump them with a few more programs and polls deciding should he/she do this/that in this way/at all etc.

I guess nowadays it's our one day Cricket captain Dhoni who is the apple of camera lenses for these TV channels, even newspapers. There are articles proving and reproving, assuring us all, that Dhoni has done something which was never done by anyone in India from Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin or Sehwag. By now I have no idea what exactly this something is but if the media continues this way I guess in some I shall be sure that this something has a real existence.

The interesting thing is that this media thing is affecting even bigger things now. Or so I feel. I really have no Idea why Dhoni is the only other player than Sachin Tendulkar to get a Khel Ratna award. I do agree that he is the poster boy of Indian cricket, but if Dhoni deserves a Khel Ratna, what about the players with 950+ wickets or with 10k runs in ODIs as well as in tests?

I think we just need a hero, and now that some are saying it's Dhoni, we are happy to have him. Otherwise, there was never a need to clarify that a winner 'deserves' the Khel Ratna award. Isn't it?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

व्हाट एन आइडिया सरजी!

आपने अभिषेक बच्चन का व्हाट एन आइडिया सर जी वाला विज्ञापन तो देखा ही होगा जिस में अभिषेक मोबाइल फ़ोन की सहायता से गाँव के बच्चों को पढ़ाने का काम कर दिखाते हैं। वैसे वास्तविक ज़िन्दगी में तो बच्चों को ऐसे पढ़ाना आसान नही है पर यदि हम यू जी सी की हालिया बातों पर ध्यान देन तो हम शायद समझ पाएंगे कि अभिषेक के इस आइडिये को कहाँ अमल में लाने की ज़रूरत है।

हाल ही में यू जी सी ने कहा था कि भारत में विश्वविद्यालयों की संख्या बहुत कम है। अंकों में कहें तो भारत में आज लगभग 400 विश्वविद्यालय हैं लेकिन हमें आने वाले 4 साल में लगभग 800 और विश्वविद्यालयों की आवश्यकता है।

निश्चय ही हम इतने विश्वविद्यालय इतने समय में नहीं बना सकते। लेकिन हम कुछ और कर सकते हैं। आज भारत दूरसंचार के क्षेत्र में निरंतर प्रगति कर रहा है। आज देश में इन्टरनेट की पकड़ भी दिन प्रतिदिन बढ़ रही है। ऐसे में हम इन्टरनेट के ज़रिये उच्च शिक्षा को विद्यार्थियों तक पंहुचा सकते हैं। हम भारत के सर्वश्रेष्ठ अध्यापकों, कहिये professors और researchers के lecture रिकॉर्ड कर के उन्हें इन्टरनेट के ज़रिये उन्हें विद्यार्थियों तक पंहुचा सकते हैं और बाद में परीक्षाएं करा सकते हैं। सच कहूँ तो मेरे विचार से इन्टरनेट पर वास्तविक जैसी, या फिर उस से भी बेहतर कक्षाएं करायी जा सकती हैं।

कुल मिला कर इन्टरनेट से हम घर बैठे शिक्षा को सफल बना सकते हैं, लेकिन इसके लिए सरकार को एक पहल करने की आवश्यकता है। आज जब इन्टरनेट हर गीत और फ़िल्म को जनता तक पहुँचाने में सक्षम है, तो फिर शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में हम पीछे क्यों हैं?

ज़रूरत है सिर्फ़ उस विचार की, उस आइडिये की। यदि हम इस आइडिये को सफल बना पाये, तो भारत में शिक्षा का स्तर उठाने में और सहायता मिल सकेगी, और हम गर्व से कह सकेंगे -- व्हाट एन आइडिया सर जी!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

पानी पानी रे

बिहार में पानी ने क्या कहर ढाया हुआ है ये तो हम सभी जानते हैं। लेकिन विडम्बना यह है कि इतने पानी के बाद भी हम कई लोगों के लिए पीने लायक पानी नहीं जुटा पाते। एक ओर सूखा तो दूसरी ओर बाढ़, ऐसा कितनी ही बार हमारे साथ होता है।

आज भी भारत की जनसँख्या का एक बड़ा हिस्से, यानि लगभग 10 प्रतिशत लोगों को पीने का साफ़ पानी नहीं मिल पाता। भूगर्भ से निकले पानी के कारण लगभग 7 करोड़ भारतीय अधिक फ्लोराइड्स मिला तथा 1 करोड़ आर्सेनिक मिला पानी पी रहे हैं, जो उनके स्वास्थ्य के लिए खतरनाक हो सकता है।

समुद्री तटीय इलाकों में एक और समस्या का सामना करना पड़ रहा है। भूगर्भी जल के अधिक उपभोग के कारण ज़मीन के नीचे समुद्री जल बढ़ रहा है जिससे ज़मीन के नीचे का पानी पीने योग्य नहीं रहता।

मुझे लगता है कि अब समय आ गया है कि हम इस समस्या को गंभीरता से लें और ख़ुद कुछ पहल करें। इस के लिए हम अपने घर बरसात से आने वाले पानी को बचा कर शुरुआत कर सकते हैं।

वर्षा से आए जल को कैसे बचाएं, इस के लिए यहाँ दिए गए लिंक को देखें।

http://www.kscst.iisc.ernet.in/rwh.html

यहाँ दिए गए चित्र, या कहिये चलचित्र की सहायता से आप आसानी से वर्षा के जल को बचाना सीख सकते हैं। और हमारी-अपनी प्रगति की दिशा में एक महत्त्वपूर्ण कदम उठा सकते हैं।

Microsoft??? Who are they?

Google recently launched its new browser Chrome. And tech savvies of the world are downloading it. But if you stop at the chrome download site, you may notice something interesting.

Google seems to be simply ignoring the existence of Microsoft and their browser Internet Explorer.

Take a look for yourself.

You can see the site mentioning download and install procedure for Firefox but Microsoft Internet Explorer, still the world's most used browser, finds no mention of its name on the page.

I guess Google makes a new thing, but even in competition they differentiate between friends and enemies. And of course, they know who their customers are. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

नए नाम, नए रंग

यूँ तो मैं Bangalore हवाई अड्डे पर कई बार उतरा हूँ। वही पुराना HAL हवाई अड्डा। पर इस बार कहानी कुछ और ही थी। Bangalore हवाई अड्डा Bangalore की जगह Bengalooru हवाई अड्डा हो चुका था। शहर का नाम तो बदल ही गया था, साथ ही हवाई अड्डा भी बदला था।

अगर आप इस शहर की थोडी बहुत ख़बर रखते हैं तो आपको पक्का ही यह पता होगा कि यहाँ नया हवाई अड्डा बनने को लेकर कितने विवाद हुए हैं। जिनमें हवाई अड्डे कि शहर से दूरी प्रमुख कारण रहा है। परन्तु इस बार जब मैंने हवाई अड्डे को देखा तो पाया कि अड्डा शहर से दूर बनाना काफ़ी हद तक एक सूझ बूझ भरा काम है। क्योंकि नया हवाई अड्डा जहाँ सुंदर और उच्च कोटि का बनाया गया है, उसे बनाने के लिए जितनी जगह की ज़रूरत थी उतनी जगह शहर में ढूंढ़ना एक मूर्खता ही होता। खासकर तब जब पूरा शहर ट्रैफिक की कठिन समस्या से गुज़र रहा है।

बंगलोर हवाई अड्डे का... माफ़ कीजिए, बेंगलुरु हवाई अड्डे का वर्णन यहाँ करना थोड़ा कठिन काम है। बस इतना ही कहा जा सकता है की जो हवाई अड्डे आपने यश चोपडा जी की फिल्मों में देखे होंगे उनके यह काफ़ी करीब है।

साथ ही साथ हवाई अड्डे ने शहर के विस्तार को एक नई दिशा दी है। मतलब, बेंगलुरु जो अभी सभी दिशाओं में बेतरतीब बढ़ रहा था, उसे बढ़ने के लिए एक दिशा विशेष मिल गई है जहाँ अभी बहुत सी सुविधाएँ आसानी से मिल सकेंगी।

आशा करता हूँ कि बेंगलुरु का नया नाम लोगों को पसंद आए या न आए, शहर का यह नया रूप सबको ज़रूर पसंद आएगा।

रॉक कर गई रॉक ऑन

रॉक ऑन, दिल चाहता है और लक्ष्य जैसी फिल्में बनने वाले निर्देशक फरहान अख्तर द्वारा अभिनीत पहली फ़िल्म है और इसीलिए अधिकांश युवा वर्ग के दर्शकों को इसका बेसब्री से इंतज़ार था।

और आखिरकार यह इंतज़ार काफ़ी सार्थक सिद्ध हुआ।


रॉक ऑन हालांकि कोई एकदम नई कहानी नहीं है मगर अच्छे निर्देशन और कलाकारों के दम पर यह साधारण कहानी भी लोगों के ह्रदय को छूने की क्षमता रखती है। फिल्म दोस्ती और रिश्तों के अर्थ को काफी अच्छे तरीके से दिखाने में सक्षम रही है और इसलिए यह आशा की जा सकती है की फिल्म दर्शकों द्वारा पसंद की जायेगी।

फ़िल्म में फरहान का अभिनय अभिनेता के रूप में अपनी पहली फ़िल्म कर रहे अभिनेता के लिए निश्चय ही अच्छा है।

फिल्म में अर्जुन रामपाल का अभिनय भी काबिले तारीफ है। कहा जा सकता है की यह आज तक उनकी सर्वश्रेष्ठ फिल्मों में से एक है।

अंत में, फ़िल्म में जान डालने का श्रेय मिलता है शंकर एहसान और लॉय को जिन का संगीत प्रारम्भ से ही लोगों को पसंद आ रहा है। जावेद अख्तर के लिखे गीत भी अच्छे और काफ़ी अलग हैं।

कुल मिला कर रॉक ऑन लोगों को काफ़ी पसंद आ सकती है, लेकिन फरहान अख्तर लोगों की ऊँची उम्मीदों पर कितने खरे उतर पाएंगे यह पक्का नहीं कहा जा सकता।

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Olympics: More than Sports

I am often asked if the Olympic village - the vast restaurant and housing conglomeration that hosts the world's top athletes for the duration of the Games - is the sex-fest it is cracked up to be. My answer is always the same: too right it is. I played my first Games in Barcelona in 1992 and got laid more often in those two and a half weeks than in the rest of my life up to that point. That is to say twice, which may not sound a lot, but for a 21-year-old undergraduate with crooked teeth, it was a minor miracle...

A revealing article. Read HERE.

Maybe you want to participate in the next Olympics. :P

Monday, August 25, 2008

Big TV. Too BIG?

Seems the new Big TV is too big for my computer. First, I was unable to open the Big TV site on my laptop even after trying again and again. Later I got a view of the site in the basic HTML, of which you must be familiar if you work with gmail, that too could hardly be called working. Better have a look for yourself.


Probably it's because of high traffic on the site as they have hardly given any information on their advertisements that is covering full pages of all leading newspapers today.

I am feeling like Big TV is too Big for itself, and Mr Anil Dhirubhai Ambani will have to work bigger proportions to make problems small for him.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Proud of you, Vijender!

He could not win us another gold. But Vijender Kumar is India's hero. He's a person who has made us proud.

Vijender not only won us a bronze, he kept the hopes of a medal alive while fighting another champion. We all wish him luck for future.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ekta's view

Arundhati roy thinks India should free Kashmir, but Ekta kapoor is against that.

Guess why?

Because Kashmir starts with a 'K'.

Music on the go? Sorry!

Come on! Now i have to accept i was wrong. When i bought a new phone, i thought it was music on the go that was my top priority. As i consider myself a big music freak. And it's true, until internet comes in.

Yes, the thing i was keeping on a second priority, internet access has turned out to be my first love. I'm blogging on the go, and i'm reading newspapers online. Today when i bought the times of india in the bus to home from meerut, the first question on my mind was why i bought it in the first place, as i had already read two articles on my cell.

On the other hand, music is turning out to be something i'm not at all prefering to internet access. Though i've all new songs on my cell, and many of the old ones i love, it's not something i much like while on the run. Music also goes lower on priorities because it makes me look like i'm doing something different. Whereas accessing internet on the phone is a silent thing, like any other work on the phone.

Now, all i've understood is that i can go wrong on my likes and dislikes. Seems like part of evolution. Because me sticking to net is not a revolution at least.

Bad mind

It may be called a bad mind. Or a less working one. Whatever it was, i never understood the meaning of a line that went as 'tu hai ki mujhme sota nahi hai' of 'haan tu hai' song from jannat.

It was today when i realized the actual meaning of the song. Just in case u too are confused about the meaning, it's just that You never sleep inside me, that is, i always find you awake, present in my heart. It's a feeling that never dies.

I hope there r others too who didn't get the meaning. Cause i don't wanna think that its just me who has a bad mind. :)

Mis(s)-in-formed

Oops! This time i missed something. And it wasn't SOMETHING actually. It was the common entrance test form for admission to the indian institutes of management.

Well, it was my mistake completely. I didn't see that the last date of getting forms for the CAT from banks was 8th august. I just saw the last date of submission and reached bank to find later that the guard there was better informed than i was.

Well, the result will be that now i won't be able to take the exam and will have to stay with tcs. Now i'm waiting more eagerly for my joining date.

Once again

I've been bugged by drivers using cellphones many times. But this time it was a bit different. I'd seen owners of private vehicles using cells while driving. But this time it was a driver from a state owned roadways bus, when i was in a bus to meerut. I realized there was something wrong when the speed of bus was irregularly increasing and decreasing. And then i found what the reason was. The driver on a cellphone. Again and again.

I think we need to do something about it. Because safety is much more important. But what can be done, i don't know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vijender Kumar Semifinal Schedule


Vijender Kumar, the Indian boxer who has confirmed yet another medal for the country, will be playing his Semifinal on 22nd August.

The Schedule is as follows:

Men's Middle (75kg) Semifinal 2
Friday, August 22, 1245 IST
CORREA BAYEAUX Emilio (Cuba) vs KUMAR Vijender (India)

PS: The schedule has been calculated very carefully, but you may confirm the schedule from the official Olympics site.

All the Best to Vijender.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

U pick Ur STD plan: Latest from TRAI

Right from ET, 20th Aug '08

You’ll soon get to choose the cheapest STD and ISD tariffs, irrespective of your service provider. After recommending that internet telephony be opened up, telecom regulator TRAI this week will mandate that telcos offer their subscribers the freedom to choose a carrier of their choice for making long-distance calls, whether domestic (STD) or international (ISD).

This will start a new era of competition in long-distance calls, provided the government acts promptly to amend licence conditions to enable telcos comply with the TRAI directive.

What TRAI has in mind is not quite implementation of the carrier access code (CAC) project mooted several years ago. In the face of resistance by telcos to CAC and the willingness of the Department of Telecom (DoT) to play along with them, TRAI has come up with a variation. This is how it will work. Suppose, you are a Bharti subscriber and you find out BSNL is offering the cheapest long-distance tariffs.

You then buy a pre-paid long-distance package from BSNL for a specific duration. You punch in a set of numbers specified in the package to get on to the BSNL network, and then proceed to make the long-distance call you wanted to, and talk for as long as your pre-paid package permits.

Top Dug Pic!

The picture that was Dug most number of times in past sometime, getting hundreds of Diggs every hour.

Here is the link.

Sorry for not putting the pic here. ;)

Just in case SRK's 6 packs impressed you


The only question after seeing Phelps here is: Will Aamir Khan be perfect this time while flaunting his 6 pack abs in Ghajini?

Steve Jobs' Stories - 1

This is a part of Steve Jobs' speech at Pixar Studios in June 2005. I read this one in 'The World is Flat.'

Connecting the dots

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combination's, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Keep TRAIing

India has certainly seen a revolution in the communication. Not just mobile phones have grown like anything but even call rates have gone down and down, in fact even when we have the lowest rates in the world, we are happily waiting for the next reduction in call rates which is almost sure to be there soon.

One major reason for these developments is the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. TRAI has always helped Indian telecom customers by regulating the operators in many ways and simultaneously coaxing the department of telecommunication for various exercises.

The recent permissions to internet telephony and mobile virtual network operators are some such points which are examples of pragmatism and futuristic approach of TRAI.

The latest step taken by TRAI is something important as it is related to mobile number portability (MNP). Where the DoT wants to divide the country into two zones, TRAI is demanding one single zone for the purpose. Having two zones means customers of North India cannot avail the service in the Southern region and vice versa. Whereas if there is a single zone, we can use a single number anywhere in the country and shift it to any operator working there. Interestingly in the start, DoT was talking about four or five zones, that would hardly be of any use.

So I hope TRAI wins and we get a single MNP zone for the country.

Keep TRAIing TRAI.

Hurrah! College calls

Here is the email I received from VIT today. The best in the past few days.

From: Alumni
Subject: You are invited to attend the 23rd Annual CONVOCATION at VIT
To: vecpat@yahoo. co.in
Cc: "VIT Placement"
Date: Tuesday, 19 August, 2008, 2:32 PM

Dear Alumni,

Greetings from VITAA !

Please attend the 23rd ANNUAL CONVOCATION on 31st August 2008 in VIT campus. Please visit our VIT website(www.vit.ac.in) for further details.

All the graduands of 2008 batch of VIT University are requested to visit the following link and provide the details requested:

http://www.vit. ac.in/convocatio n/twentythird/ frmreg.asp

Please forward this email to your friends/batchmates and pass-on this information.


VITAA-We Share:We Care

Thanks & Regards,

VIT Alumni Association ( VITAA )
Ph.:0416-2202248.

Jade Goody has cancer: Out of Bigg Boss 2

Jade Goody is out of Bigg Boss. Jade wasn't voted out, but the sudden decision was taken when it was found out that Goody has cervical cancer.

Jade consoled by Monica Bedi
'Jade's stay at the Bigg Boss house has been cut short with an unfortunate development. Only yesterday, the results of Jade's test were out [conducted in UK before her departure to India], and the tests indicate the possibility of cancer,' said a statement from Colors.

Jade, who might look considerably older to some, is only 27 years of age and was tested for cancer twice earlier, in 2004 and 2006.

She will be flown back to UK on Tuesday night. Sources reveal that the footage of the incident may not be aired.

Media reports suggest that she is the highest paid participant on the show, drawing about Rs 80 lakh.

Shivratri @ Haridwar


On 30th July, I was in Haridwar for some work. Actually I had to go somewhere I could not bring a camera with me. That day was Shivratri and in Haridwar, people take kaanwar to the Ganga and take it back home.

That morning in Haridwar was something not to be missed. There were people all around on the roads, running with various types of Kaanwars, even moto-kaanwars. For those having no idea, kaanwar is a bow like structure that has to be taken to Haridwar from home and way back without letting it touch the ground. And there are tens of thousands of people taking kaanwars. Originally kaanwars were taken by people onfoot only but later there have been cycle kaanwars and now even motorcycles too. But still, the largest number is that of those travelling all the way on foot.

So, not having my camera with me, I could only take a few pics with my cellphone. Here they are.



Monday, August 18, 2008

Oops!

When I am home, electricity might be a commodity, but continuous supply is surely nothing less than luxury. A luxury that is available from midnight to 5 in the morning.

At other times during the day, the power supply is continuously on and off, sometimes taking gaps in hours, sometimes in minutes, and sometimes even in seconds.

What happens due to these power cuts is a bit interesting and a lot frustrating. For example, I was watching Naam today and it was my favorite song Chithhi aayi hai that Pankaj Udhas was singing. In the song there is a line that goes as Des paraya chhod ke aaja, Panchhi pinjra tod ke aaja, Aaja umr bahut hai chhoti, apne ghar mein bhi hai roti. This is probably the best line of the song and that's the reason Pankaj has stressed the line and sang it twice. But as he started into the high pitch and the first word des was out of his mouth, the screen went blank.

Actually it's not something new for me. It's something as old for me as I am. Because it happens everyday, almost twice or thrice daily with things I am watching so intently. Similarly it so happens that when I click on something while online, the power goes and so does the broadband connection. And sometimes I have to do the whole exercise again.

The fact is that it is fine if there is a proper power cut of an hour or more, but when these cuts happen to be for 2 minutes, 5 minutes and 10 minutes, it's something that adds to only frustration.

Anyways, it's the small town life, and has it's own benefits too. After all, it's my home.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bigg Boss Season 2: WTF!!

Bigg Boss Season 2 has started on Colors. And believe me, things were getting harder and harder to digest as I was seeing the inmates of the Bigg Boss house. One thing that is sure is that controversies are bound to be there with so many controversial people out there. And the second thing sure is that Bigg Boss 2 will be attracting a lot of audience, solely on the basis of its inmates' profiles.

As Bigg Boss 2 started, I saw Ketki Dave entering as the first candidate. And though I was a bit surprised to see her there, she seemed too trivial a person as more followed. The second entrant, Zulfi Syed was again nothing surprising. And then it all started.

The first surprise came as I saw Rahul Mahajan. Seeing him I could only think WTF. My second thought was that he would never have been here had Pramod Mahajan been alive today, and third, what the father was, and what the son is.

Later, although, I felt he was a real dumb person. Or may be a genius otherwise.

Whatever, the next surprise came in as Raja Chaudhry, though not as much as it was with Rahul. Rakhi, Sweety of Hum Paaanch, Payal Rohatgi and Sambhavna Seth were not much surprising either, even though I felt Rakhi was no more sweety as age reflected on her face now.

Another little surprise was Ehsaan Kureshi, the well known stand up comedian and even Elina who was a non-celebrity yet. And so was Debojit Saha, the singer.

But a big blow came when I saw Ashutosh Kaushik, the winner of MTV Roadies 5.0, as an inmate of Bigg Boss Season 2.

And what followed Ashutosh made it clear that this Bigg Boss was going to be something. It was a person who could not be imagined in such a place. It was Maharashtra's Congress leader, former Saamna editor, Sanjay Nirupam. Even Shilpa Shetty said that the country must be thinking at this time why and how he was there.

The end of the show there was one female who did not surprise me ONLY because I knew in advance that she had to be there - Jade Goody, the lady who was there in Celebrity Big Brother with Shilpa Shetty and had helped her win the show, as she was at the center of allegations of bullying, racist and elitist comments against fellow housemate Shilpa.

Later I saw I had missed an entrant as I wasn't seeing the dance performances that took place there. It was Monica Bedi who had been with Abu Salem and had been in the jail for sometime.

In short, Bigg Boss Season 2 on colors is going to be something worth watching. With a number of controversial people from various fields in India, and one from abroad, Bigg Boss will surely be attracting audiences and TRPs. Let's see what happens in the house now.

True or Hopeless? Read it

In her Sunday Times column today, Shobhaa De writes something that moves you. Read it and decide for yourself how much you agree.

Little things make us happy. We are a bit too easy to please! One gold medal at the Olympic Games, and we are over the moon. As India enters the 61st year of its independence, it's important to get a few key perspectives in place. I heard about Abhinav Bindra's thrilling win from a bedraggled little girl selling tabloids at the traffic lights. It was raining rather heavily, and she was dressed in rags. Her tiny body and saucer eyes made her resemble the archetypal, romanticised waif — the poster girl for poverty, like the iconic image of the popular musical, Les Miserables. She tapped on the window of my car and lisped, "Madam, madam.... India ko gold medal mil gaya." She was shivering as she sold the damp paper to motorists, most of whom shooed her away.

The irony of the moment was hard to miss. While nobody can take away from crorepati Abhinav Bindra's individual achievement, the image of this emaciated street kid announcing his victory in distant Beijing, was a study in horrifying contrasts. Just a few metres away, i could see the rest of her family huddled under bright blue plastic sheets. The father was sorting out a heap of pirated books, while her mother was stringing jasmine blossoms into gajras... perhaps to adorn the chignons of our Mumbai memsaabs stepping out later for a night on the town. The kid was dancing with impatience, watchful of the traffic light turning green. Her unshod feet were immersed in puddles of filthy rain water. She could not possibly have known what that medal meant... but she did know it would sell more papers that day. And that made her happy! Amazing, how a complete stranger's win touches lives on different levels.

For the little girl, those few extra rupees may have translated into an extra vada pav at dinner. But for our canny politicians, Bindra's medal was an opportunity worth milking for their own glory. Take Maharashtra's chief minister, who magnanimously offered Rs 10 lakh to the gold medalist. Does this rich boy need it? Where does Maharashtra come into it? If the CM had Rs 10 lakh to spare and wished to acknowledge Bindra's victory, why didn't he put that money into a sports scholarship to benefit promising youngsters? Why offer monetary awards to someone who is a millionaire to begin with? Bindra is a particularly privileged sportsman who was born with a silver rifle... er ... spoon, in his mouth. He got to his present position, thanks to the happy fact that his father had the financial clout to support his son's passion. Lucky Bindra. He had what it takes to create a champion — the grit, determination and dough! India merely happens to be the country of his birth and can claim no credit for his impressive win. Bindra rose above and beyond what his country can provide... not only to him, but millions of others. He won despite being an Indian. Isn't that a really sad acknowledgement of this tattered state of ours?

But the waif at the traffic light proclaiming his victory to motorists does not realise this. She will never get to see the inside of a pucca home. For her, the blue plastic sheets will have to suffice. When she is a little older, her life will change. From selling newspapers, she may end up selling her body. Like so many others who survive on Mumbai's mean streets, turning tricks, hustling, peddling drugs. Her bright eyes and cheerful smile will be replaced by a hard, stony expression, a twisted mouth...but chances are she will still be working the same street, ducking into the back seat of an autorickshaw to satisfy customers looking for a monsoon quickie. If her father and mother haven't succumbed to some disease by then, they, too, will be languishing under the plastic sheets, living off her meagre earnings. Her line, "India ko gold mil gaya..." in such a depressing context, makes me ask, "Aur aapko — koila? Ya... woh bhi nahi?" Try telling her our Bharat is mahan. She may just punch you!

Original Text from The Sunday Times of India, August 17th 'o8.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Indian boxers at Beijing Olympics: Schedule

Three boxers from India, Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar, and Vijender Kumar, are now in Beijing Olympics quarterfinals, and all the eyes are on these three now.

So here is the schedule of the three boxers:

Monday, Aug 18, 5 PM (IST)
Men's Bantam (54kg) Quarterfinal 3
GOJAN Veaceslav (Rep. of Moldova) vs KUMAR Akhil

Wednesday, Aug 20, 4.45 PM (IST)
Men's Fly (51kg) Quarterfinal 2
BALAKSHIN Georgy (Russia) vs KUMAR Jitender

Wednesday, Aug 20, 6 PM (IST)
Vijender Kumar (75kg) Quarterfinal 4
GONGORA Carlos (Ecuador) vs KUMAR Vijender

For confirmation you can check the schedule on the official website of Beijing 2008.

Hope I get to write more schedule after this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two Steps Behind

Akhil Kumar is the only person in Beijing now who is keeping the hopes of 'one more medal' alive for Indians.

Akhil reached quarter finals after beating world champion Sergey Vodopyanov in the pre-quarters which, they say, was something unthinkable and unimaginable.

Pray for him. :)

Because Everyone Needs Independence

Everyone has a right to Independence. And it's time we understand that.



Happy Independence day.

Jaago: Small Movies by Big Directors

A few months back I saw a short film called Positive, made by Farhan Akhtar, starring Boman Irani and Shabana Aazmi. I loved the film. Later I found there was another movie called Blood Brothers, that was around the same topic, AIDS. And today I found a blog entry on PFC that reviews both these movies along with two more. Here it is:

Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, for one of their project on helping humanity, have united with 4 directors Mira Nair, Farhan Akhtar, Santosh Sivan and Vishal Bharadwaj to co-produce 4 short films on issues regarding AIDS education and awareness. These short films are taking the AIDS awareness on more personal level with some beautiful and some incredible journeys involving blood relations, lovers and strangers with urges either sexual or just plain human.

1. Migration (2007).
Directed by: Mira Nair.
Written by: Zoya Akhtar.
Starring: Shiney Ahuja, Sameera Reddy, Irfan Khan and Raima Sen.
URL: MIGRATION

Migration is a set of parallel stories between a husband and his lover, husband’s wife, a mason worker his wife and infants. This short is very well directed, right from the drought death visuals to marine drive tides. The cinematography is eye catching. Thanks to Shiney Ahuja’s speaking eyes and Irfan Khan’s emotions for his lover, one way maybe. The core message of the story is delivered by sex education street actor Vijay Raaz with Beedi song in the background. Its the unconventional migration that is thought and written by Zoya Akhtar gives a different but convincing journey. It was exciting to see marathi stage and screen actress Sulabha Deshpande as Sameera’s mother-in-law, little has she changed from Choukat Raja’s (1991) mother.

2. Positive (2007).
Directed by: Farhan Akhtar.
Written by: Rajesh Devraj.
Starring: Boman Irani, Shabana Azmi and Arjun Mathur.
URL: POSITIVE

Positive is the story of AIDS awareness for a family as one of the members becomes HIV positive. The effects of it in a broad picture and a very tiny extremely personal point of view is very well written by Rajesh Devraj, whose future writings are Farhan Akhtar starrer Fakir of Venice and Shashanka Ghosh project Quick Gun Murugun. Boman Irani is fantastic with his lowering speaking abilities and at the same time with the desires of a young photographer to capture something. But it needed Farhan Akhtar’s trick to bring out the moment absolutely necessary for this story. The moment when Arjun’s character is positioning the rose in the window. This is perhaps the same transformation moment that occured in Dil Chahta Hai (2001) when Akash (Aamir Khan) calls up Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) only to realise subconsciously he dialed Sid’s (Akshaye Khanna) number. Incredible. Shabana Azmi is short but plays the character who has already past previously mentioned transformation.

3. Prarambha (2007).
Directed by: Santosh Sivan.
Starring: Prabhu Deva and Skandhas.
URL: PRARAMBHA

A truck driver (Prabhu Deva) finds an unknown boy Kittu (Skandhas) hiding in the back of his truck. Truck driver finds it unsolvable to get rid of an unknown boy riding with him. Kittu hands him a letter written by his mother with an address. Truck driver agrees to take him there. But then out of humanity he finds himself on a quest to make the people around Kittu realise what he feels for kittu. This movie is a cry out towards those strangers who might have some humanity left in them. Prabhu Deva does a great job. His apological and optimistic smiles are the driving force for the audience and kittu as well. Skandhas as Kittu is nothing short of a applauding performance. He represents the understanding son, rejected school friend and a happy boy. Though there aren’t many opportunities for Mr Sivan to use his lens he still captures the moments that do not need words.

4. Blood Brothers (2007).
Directed by: Vishal Bharadwaj.
Story idea by: Matthew Robbins and Ajit Ahuja.
Starring: Siddharth, Pavan Malhotra and Ayesha Takia.
URL: Blood Brothers

This story brings in the most courageous factor in the AIDS awareness. The point of view of the main victim, the one with the disease. This is the best short among the four. An ordinary man hears his doctor say that he is HIV positive. Devastated by the news he gives up on his life to find something that out smarts him. This is an absolutely astonishing story. This movie proves the fact that you do not need 1000 cuts in a 5 min movie to make it interesting. Though non-linearity exists in the narration it never seems a cliche by the creation of scars on Siddharth’s faces. This short challenges the viewer by putting in the shoes of the protagonist and ask them what if? Kudos to Mr Bharadwaj. This one is a must see.

Overall rating: 8/10.

Original text here.

PS: If the links given in the post are not good or working, you can also search for these movies on Youtube yourself. They are there too. In case there is any problem, you may contact me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Foul Sport

Today I found a mail in my mailbox which I found worth sharing, even though it was a chain mail, as it was a revelation to me, and can be for many others. Here are the contents of the mail:

This is me.... a Baby Seal..



Norway and Canada have a new kind of tourism. Killing baby seals!!!! They call it 'hunting' and it's a sport



You want to call this sport ??



Is he a sportsman???





Why?



You're our only hope !!!



Please let it stop. This barbarism shouldn't be possible in our society



Don't turn your back on us, we are so defenseless, we have no guns, please help us..!!!



I know these images seem painful for you, but we feel the pain...!! We are being slaughtered by ruthless people and it's going on RIGHT NOW...!!!



What gives him the right to kill us. Who is he to decide about life and death



What kind of sport is this..?? I didn't harm anyone..!! I was just swimming around doing nothing, now I'm dead...!!



Please help me and my friends...!!!




You can't just ignore these images..?? Keep silent and doing nothing makes you guilty...!!



Please help us...!!





Please don't leave us alone...!!



STOP THE KILLING OF SEALS
You can make a statement by
forwarding this mail
to as many people as you can.
Bring these murderers to the attention
of world leaders.
Thank you.... !!!!!


THIS IS THEIR HOME TOO

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aren't we a bit too much?

India's performance at Beijing Olympics has been much better compared to previous ones. And Abhinav Bindra is getting a lot of encouragement from various people and organisations, not to mention the coverage given by the media and the respect from the countrymen, which is expected and desired. But isn't it that in some ways some of us go too far sometimes?

Consider these:

  • The government of Bihar will be building an Abhinav Bindra stadium.
  • National Rifles Association of India and Milkha Singh suggest that Abhinav Bindra should get the Highest Indian Civilian Award, Bharat Ratna.
  • We read articles titled 'Is India's Mohammad Ali finally here?' as boxer Akhil Kumar enters the second round of Olympics.

I feel we sometimes do it too much and this may even affect those people negatively from whom we expect this much.

The interesting thing is that we find all the talent of the country only during Olympics, otherwise the media of our cricket-crazy country is happy running behind the so-called 'men-in-blue' even when they are in birthday parties.

As far as the Bharat Ratna for Abhinav is considered, I personally feel it will be an extremely exaggerated reaction if not exactly idiotic as I feel Bharat Ratna is too high an award at this stage. It can be understood simply by asking if we shall be giving out 10 Bharat Ratnas a year if India wins 10 Gold medals sometime? And leave that stage, what if more athletes win medals this time itself, say Paes-Bhupati and Akhil Kumar? Shall we be awarding 3 Bharat Ratnas or shall we be awarding it to the first one because his was an event that was scheduled to finish earlier?

I think we, that is the media of this country, as well as the countrymen, should behave in a bit more matured manner and governments should encourage sports by doing proper work on it, not by announcing yet-another-stadium that we know the end of.

Abhinav Bindra's Blog

So it is now over and the time for me to return home has arrived. I know my life is not goign to be even close to the same upon return but it is something i am going to have to embrace and actually enjoy which i am at this moment finding way more daunting than shooting...

Here it is: Link to Abhinav Bindra's own Blog: http://abhinavbindra.blogspot.com

Read about the Indian Olympic Hero's journey to Beijing, in his own words. I hope you too leave a commennt there.

News?? It's Prime Time!

Most of the times I feel there is no use talking about news channels. They seem to be a bunch of utterly useless people now. But then, it's not actually possible not to talk about them.

So here is more. What I recently found, and it's something I think I should have found much earlier, is the news channels' love for prime time.

It used to be a prime time when there was news on television during the Doordarshan era. But then times changed and with news channels pouring in, Prime Time news became a bit different, more of specialization than news. And now, it seems that news channels only want to show Prime Time programs, more than any news.

It was around 7.25 this evening when I found part of a story about a building that collapsed in Mumbai. I couldn't find the full details and so I started surfing channels.

But to my surprise, national news channels, all three of them which I get through my cable operator, were busy showing advertisements of their programs to be shown at prime time. I kept switching among the channels hoping I would find something as the clock strikes 7.30, but to my surprise, all channels started showing their 'programs' prepared for 7.30 and I had to log onto the net for the news report.

The question that comes to my mind is that what is the point in having 24 hour news channels if we cannot find news there, not even on their tickers.

In fact I feel MTV is the best news channel nowadays as I can find most of the news I need on the MTV Ticker.

PS: My cable operator claims he shows four national news channels. He had counted India TV too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Unlucky??

News channels might have tried their best to prove that 08.08.08 was an unlucky date, and the same was declared by most of astrologers and priests shown on these channels, but Indian film Industry, actually one of the most superstitious bunch of people, have found 08.08.08 extremely lucky for them as the movie released on the date, Singh is Kinng, seems to be the biggest hit of the year till date.

I think Akshay proves yet again that he is not one to fear these superstitions. That's the real Khatron ka Khiladi.

Reading Difficulties

Here is an article that I liked, even though I feel books should cost less. From Hindustan Times, 12th August '08.

In a 1946 essay, ‘Books v Cigarettes’, George Orwell explored, with penetrating and amusing insight, the reading and book-buying habits of his fellow Englishmen. He took the assumption — as prevalent in the England of 1946 as the India of 2008 — that “the buying, or even the reading, of books is an expensive hobby and beyond the reach of the average person”, and showed how much of a myth it was.

Taking the national average of smoking and drinking, Orwell demonstrated how “the [annual] cost of reading, even if you buy books instead of borrowing them and take in a fairly large number of periodicals, does not amount to more than the combined cost of smoking and drinking”.

I returned to Orwell’s essay after noticing over and over again just how few of us in public places have a book with us. How many people have you seen reading in an airport/on a plane/on the beach/having a solitary meal/on a park bench/at a salon/on a train or bus/in a doctor’s waiting room? Perhaps the only pleasure of travelling in an aeroplane nowadays — in what Jonathan Raban called its “sealed pod” — is to be able to read undistracted, free of the clutter and the white noise of our own lives. Phones can’t ring. Strangers don’t usually try and make conversation. Emails don’t ping in. Is there a better time?

Yet we don’t, really, do we?

The whole sub-genre of literary journalism alive in the West, that of ‘Summer Books’ or ‘Holiday Books’, doesn’t quite exist for us. What do we do on our holidays? Oh, we talk a lot on our mobile phones. (The roaming rates have been slashed again, let’s chatter some more.) But away from home and its attendant daily annoyances, we seldom commune with a dead master (or a living author).

We read, the 16th century English poet John Dryden told us, “for instruction and delight”. We read, as the Victorian novelist George Eliot said, because “art is the nearest thing to life”. What that means, the critic Louis Bayard explains, is that “to approach the mystery of our own condition, we have to grasp the mystery by which words make worlds”.

But we don’t seem to be doing enough reading or buying. An author’s sales figures in India (unless you happen to be Chetan Bhagat — not an aspiration anyone who fancies himself as a writer will share) are dismal. Sea of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh’s latest, intricately plotted, page turner of a maritime adventure, is expected to sell 30,000 copies across the country. (And while we’re at it, this, his publishers say, will be one of the biggest sellers of the year for them.) It is Ghosh’s big breakthrough book, his most accessible, almost crossover novel. The equivalent in England would perhaps be Ian McEwan and Atonement. That sold millions, and is still selling.

The old argument about English being the language of the metropolitan elite won’t wash here. There are in Delhi or Mumbai alone more than a million buyers of daily English newspapers. And there are 30,000 buyers across India for probably the most-hyped, most riveting English book of the year from an Indian writer. Also, even allowing for the thing about English being the preserve of the elite, is Bengali literature flying off the shelves? Is Hindi? Not when I last noticed.

So why are we so loathe to buy books? Too expensive, we say. How can young people afford them? Well, let’s use an Orwellian parameter to calculate things.

It costs Rs 200 to watch a movie on a weekend evening at a multiplex. (And that’s without the popcorn and the soft drinks.) Now my edition of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road — for my money the finest novel of 2007 and a New York Times bestseller, which means that a lot of people, including those who make their reading choices based on what Oprah recommends in her book club, have bought it — costs Rs 195. A Penguin Modern Classic — the storehouse of the finest literature in the history of literature — usually costs Rs 250.

It costs Rs 900-1,200 for a meal for two at a restaurant in Mumbai. You could get the new Ghosh and the new book of stories by Jhumpa Lahiri (award-winning, finely calibrated, exquisite tales of belonging and loss) for Rs 1,049. It costs Rs 125-150 for a coffee and a sandwich at one of the coffee chains. A Penguin Popular Classic — the cheaper version of the Penguin Modern Classic — is available for Rs 95. Oh, and my Orwell Centenary Edition of Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays costs Rs 367. That’s less than what I would spend for a few drinks at a Mumbai bar. So it’s not the money. And it’s certainly not that we don’t have the time. (If I could lay my hands on a study that totted up the amount of time we spend sending text messages or watching puerile rubbish on TV or travelling, vacant-minded, and not reading…)

It’s just that we’d rather not buy books. Most of us choose not to.

How many times have you dined out/watched a movie/gone for a drink in, say, the past three months? And exactly how many books have you bought in that period? How many things have you actively sought out and read? (Text messages, credit card bills and restaurant menus don’t count.)

What is it in our culture — especially our aggressively consumerist, burgeoning middle-class and affluent, urban, elite culture — that makes us shy away from reading and buying? It suggests that we don’t have the patience for it, don’t quite appreciate what it can give us, don’t derive enough pleasure for it.

“We used to build civilisations,” Bill Bryson once wrote. “Now we build shopping malls.” And we love them. We can’t love shopping enough. But we don’t love shopping for books. It is an affront to the notion of being civilised.

Soumya Bhattacharya

Original text here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Post-Gold

Prices of Gold have been falling for last one week. And there is a number of ladies in my home and family who are planning to buy some Gold and wishing it falls down more.

I think it will. As Abhinav Bindra will be bringing some extra Gold home while coming back from Beijing. Though I wish and hope there will be more Golden moments in Beijing for India, history doesn't allow me to expect a lot, and considering we have not fell down in terms of overall performance in Olympics for past 12 years, ever since Paes won us a Bronze in 1996 olympics, fighting Andre Agassi in the semis, one gold is where we should have landed after Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's silver last Olympics.

Fast forward to 2008. Abhinav Bindra wins a gold in 10 meter air rifle. Of course 95% of Indians will be learning the name of shooting events for the first time, it being a conservative estimate.

First of all, my hearty congratulations to Bindra. Anything said here is not meant to dishonor the national hero by any means.

Now, let us see what happens when Abhinav Bindra wins the Gold. As soon as we know Abhinav wins, there is a usual race among news channels to capture the nearest. Some reach his home to find his parents dealing with neighbors living at the other end of town whereas some try to reach him on phone before the national anthem in the Beijing's Olympic stadium could finish, rest trying to make up their stories with relations and coaches.

But the interesting part starts when it seems that entire contry except Srinagar where a curfew was imposed, was celebrating Abhinav's victory on roads with Dhols and fireworks. Not just in Chandigarh and Dehradun, people were found celebrating even in Meerut which had no specific relation to the national hero dancing with the national flag of India, though it was held upside down. Surely the men in front of camera cannot be framed guilty as they are too happy being on television but the channel showing the national flag upside down could have given it a thought while showing the clip repeatedly.

Television was also showing news of lacs of rupees being announced for the shooter by state governements that are trying to swim out of their debts of crores, as it was a great chance to prove our commitment to sports and sportsmen. But of these, the second most interesting was BCCI giving Rs 25 lac to Bindra, as if it were ADC, and number one was Bihar government's announcement to build a Bindra stadium. I wish that's not a cricket ground.

And among all this, there was a bunch that enjoyed the moment of Abhinav's victory as their own. It was the Indian cricket team, who lost another test and the series to Sri Lanka but as Abhinav won, there was almost no coverage on the match loss, whereas it would have been an experts' day on news channels who would lament the loss of our cricket team.

In the end, I also feel that some leading towns of India may see the rise of small shooting ranges where you could 'Learn shooting in 15 days' or something like that. And in my views which might be considered pessimistic, there will hardly be anything positive for Indian sports resulting from this because we will still be seeing the rates of gold day after tomorrow and mom will be sending me to my study so that I become a computer engineer and then I will be able to buy lot of gold.

But whatever the result, Abhinav has proved that we CAN do it. So if there are a few moms who try, we can WIN some more gold in future.

PS: ADC stands for access deficit charge that was paid to (a losing) BSNL till some time ago by leading companies like Airtel and Hutch as only BSNL operated in remote areas.

World's Luckiest Cricket Team

Indian Cricket team might not be the world's best Cricket team. In fact it is not. But surely they're the luckiest ones. I hope you have no doubts about it.

India lost a test series as Sri Lanka won 2-1. But both the times it so happened that nobody seemed to care.

The first match India lost was on the evening when Ahmedabad was going through serial blasts and no channel was interested in covering match as people wanted to see exactly what was happening in Ahmedabad. The score of 138 could not be heard among the blasts that rocked the country.

And then it turned out to be the third test, an almost similar show with not as bad scores. This time it was the good news that helped people forget the loss of Indian cricket team. Or rather, once again didn't give them a chance to think about cricket as shooter Abhinav Bindra gave India it's first Gold Medal since 1980.

It's not possible for any team to win all matches on pure luck, but this team has proved something different, that you need not always win. Sometimes you can perform pathetic, drastic, lose matches and still, luck favoring, you can escape the fury of the media and hence people.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Computers

Which car can be run easily on a computer? n how??

Alto.

Simple, by pressing Alt + O.