Saturday, December 27, 2008


Photography is a hobby that requires a tremendous amount of interest and patience. I have a ton of friends who are into this and purchase all the required stuff for it like lenses, tripods, filters etc. I myself have never been 'into' this hobby much. I would much rather be in front of the camera rather than behind it. Its not that I do not enjoy taking pictures. But as long as they are of some occasion rather than just abstract shots then its fine.

People take pictures of random trees, flowers, scenery etc. etc. and I will end up just looking at something like this for a moment or two and then forgetting all about it. Its not that it don't like the picture its just that the picture is absolutely pointless. Maybe a really good picture will end up being on someone's desktop wallpaper someday.(I have a picture of the Golden Gate bridge from SFO on my desktop at work right now). But other that its 'just a picture'. There is nothing in that pic which will have me looking at it 10 years from now and getting all nostalgic about it. Sure if I was the one who actually took the picture then definitely it would be a hell of a story to tell.

Probably my situation is same the reverse as well where I am more interested in car mods like intakes,exhaust systems that won't appeal to all my photographer buddies.

P.S. I did own a canon basic digicam sometime back but now that I have sent it away to India I make do with my cellphone cam.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Driver's Choice

While driving depending on the mood I usually put on some music. Most of the music I have burned on CD's is bollywood and there are a couple of cd's which are floyd,led zepp, ACDC and the like. But I preferably try to listen to bollywood dhinchak tracks. This is because you never ever hear bollywood stuff anywhere else. I mean I can always listen to Death Magnetic (Metallica's latest outing) on the radio but never ever will I get to hear 'Sundara sundara' from Rakshak on the radio(not even in Dallas,TX with its desi radio stations).

But one genre I avoid while driving is ghazals. I do listen to some occasionally during an extended booze session but never while driving. I believe there should be a specific genre known as 'roadtrip' with songs like 'Turn the page-Metallica','Barracuda-Heart','Chick Habit-April March' and of course 'Roadhouse Blues-The Doors'. (Here's some more)

Driving with songs like these on brings something else to the entire driving experience altogether. Also songs which one may enjoy in a party or at a rock concert do not necessarily translate back into being songs one can enjoy while driving.(I can only listen to Indian Ocean/Lucky Ali these many times but not everytime man...)

An open,clear road, the wheel, good music (and of course cheap gas) and that is a combination that can also be called your 'Stairway to Heaven' (Pls do not take the 'Heaven' term literally over here. Drive Safe.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Apna Hollywood

A lot of hollywood movies are dubbed into Hindi for the mass audience in India where an American accent is the stumbling block. Subtitles are too distracting and take away from the 'action' ;) on screen.

I have managed to come across several recently including:

1.Indiana Jones aur Chamkili Kapaal ki Saltanat (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
2. Mahashaktimaan (The Matrix)
3. Mita Doonga Naam-o-Nishaan (Eraser)
4. LOTR - Anguthi ke Hifaazatgaar (LOTR - Fellowship of the Ring)
5. Mayaawi Talwar (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

I could go on and on about these titles. Now we are speechless when titles like these come up because we, desi junta are more used to the sugary sweet titles like K3G, KKHH, DDLG, Mohabattein. This is where Bollywood distributors have got it all wrong. You don't see movies like 50 first dates, Knocked Up, Amelie getting translated into Hindi, thats because we can dish out equivalent romantic comedy types but when it comes to action, now that's a different story. Even the most well executed stunts end up looking hilarious (of course there are exceptions) and we end up splitting our sides.

I wish there comes a day when Hollywood will translate our fare into English and see for themselves how mutilated this whole dub-redub process becomes and that day we get to hear the immortal dialog
"Children of Pigs. They were two and you three !!, even then you returned !!. What did you think, the ringleader would be joyous and shower praises on you !!! " (Any guesses about this masterpiece in its original form)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Discovery Channel updates

I keep getting these updates in my gmail inbox which keep me updated with the 'latest news' around the world. Quite a few of which happen to do with discovery channel.Now I fail to understand who even keeps abreast of this stuff. I have a ton of other crap in my head already without the need for more nonsense to cram into it.

Who does even care about news like "Ancient chariot found in Bulgaria" or "New remains of CroMagnon discovered". I fail to understand even the least amount of importance 'news' like this has to my life. I worry enough about the economy and gas prices and my next set of tickets to India to even get into this crap.

Which brings me to the point that Indiana Jones may be the most dashing archeologist but except for treasure hunting I really doubt am ever going to be interested in digging around old bones and sculptures.How would the Indy movies ever work if he was just shown to be digging around scavenging fossils and finally ending up as an old foggy museum curator.

Yes, yes I know that keeping in touch with the past allows us(mankind) to know ourselves better. Well then keep it out of the news unless something really relevant happens(Maybe they discover an AIDS cure in trillion year old insect DNA preserved in amber). Until something really ground breaking comes along am still going to be bothered about the economy, gas prices and other mundane activites of the day.

I can picture a scene from FRIENDS in context of this where Ross(PhD in Paleontology) goes into the nursing ward with Rachel to see Dr.Green(Rachel's Dad) and introduces himself as Dr.Gellar and Rachel reminds him that they are in a hospital and the prefix 'Dr.' really means something over here.

P.S. Its great to be back :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Linux'd (again)

Very few people other than active developers are into linux and use it as their main OS. Even those who do use it occasionally do have the dual boot feature with Windows just so that some features are easier to use in Windows than Linux.

This is aversion to linux is also unfortunately something for which the development dept is to blame as well (atleast partially). One of the biggest things being video rendering related s/w. I did a lot of that during Diwali Night at Rolla, making those presentations for the show but haven't seen anything like Adobe Premiere,After Effects on linux (yet). Not to mention the loss of gaming since then too. Very few games are out there which are fully supported by Linux and those that do run do so on WINE(Win Emulator :P).

Dhake and myself were having a discussion yesterday on s-video capture through linux since that was one of the few things for which he still had a Win dual boot on his system. Finally after some poking around I suppose he got through to it and hopefully will now ditch Win totally :). Later when Alok (handy Linux quick ref guy) and myself were chatting about situations like these and he came up with a situation where one day if a couple of linux guys started a company then they would no doubt use Linux for everything. However the kicker is that today most companies (atleast all the application/service provider ones) do NOT use Linux.

This is mainly due to the fact that Linux is restricted to the techy guys rather than to the mainstream eg. Business Analysts, Sales, Marketing, QA, Conversion, Customer Service Rep, App Analyst, so on and so forth. Also until someone can effectively demonstrate that business can be as usual in Linux as in Windows the scenario will still never change. (and Microsoft will continue to reap their millions).

It may take time and patience to wade a bit through various Linux forums to come up with quick answers to even the most basic things but it definitely is worthwhile in the end. Unfortunately both time and patience is something that very very few people have today and the same translates to the corporate environment as well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Coming Soon

Its been quite a while now since my blog was updated. There is a ton of stuff that has happened between now and then. I hopefully should be able to put down atleast some of the stuff over here. Will be getting back to posting soon.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Long Weekend

Since the US has so few public holidays (compared to India) most people try to make the most of the few that are around. Public holidays in the US are usually structured in such a manner as to make every holiday count. The Long weekend is a concept that is the most popular. It happens such that the Federal Government schedules a holiday on a Friday or a Monday. Thus with the Saturday, Sunday coming in between it makes for a solid 3 day vacation. Flight prices soar, hotels are booked to capacity and popular tourist destinations are packed.

Planning for these weekends takes quite a bit of patience and enthu as well. The list of places to go and people to visit was always endless. Ultimately it used to come down to cheaper flight tickets.(invariably) I have scoured around on travel sites for just that one exclusive flight deal which could make/break the trip. This process is somewhat akin to the hunting techniques of the Cromagnon dudes of old. You basically look up the deal on several dozen travel sites and initially gauge an estimate of how much it would cost you and then once you have set your upper limit on this then try hunting for something 'better' over the next couple of days. Also planning meant ensuring that you dug up your old contact list and sometimes even renewed friendships with old lost buddies.

There a ton of long weekends coming by end of the year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's are all available and I have no doubt that people will travel too (thanks to lower gas prices) but I for one have absolutely no plans for these holidays (which is weird because usually I was among the first people to have my travel plans all sorted out.) I am planning for a trip to India soon in the next year and thus thought it best to avoid any outings this year and go for the biggie next year. :)

(It feels great to get back to blogging after a break).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Borg

Bluetooth technology is something great. I used to own an Ngage (The Classic one and NOT QD) back in India. The Bluetooth feature was one of the most favorite features in it. It was sometimes damn slow but then it was probably one of the easiest ways to transfer data during that time. Primarily I had used it to transfer some pix, ringtones, etc from others.

I got myself a bluetooth headset a couple of days back from Radioshack. I was previousy using one of those cheap handsfree connectors for talking. I finally relented and got myself one of these devices which could be worn on the ear. (Also my handsfree cable got snapped somewhere so it didn't help matters.) I got a pretty pricey headset, the Plantronics Voyager 520.

I had done some decent amount of research into these headsets and also have tons of friends who use them regularly. I was looking for something comfortable and loud and clear. My friends who use them had often complained that comfort was the primary point. Most headsets will have decent enough reception and clarity.

The headset is also sometimes a cool accessory if you want people to think that you are actually talking to someone else while in public, you can jabber endlessly on it and no one would be the wiser. It also brings back very futuristic images of a Cyborg from some Hollywood action movie.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Data Dump

My first thanksgiving shopping experience in the US and I got for myself an external HDD. I didn't even have a laptop at that time but I just couldn't resist a deal like 25$ for a 200gb external drive. (Dhake being the oversmart guy that he is got two of those.) Subsequent thanksgivings never had that sort of a deal.

Now why is storage capacity more important than a laptop you may ask. Well for one, laptops and desktops were available in plenty in the university and almost everyone (except us, new guys) owned one. HDD's were a lot cheaper too than a laptop for a first time purchase. Also this was the time of the infamous Seek42. Seek42 more than anything else was famous for a search tool on the university LAN network. It had a ton of other stuff but as far as we desis were concerned we were just into it for the wealth of data out there. Now it wasn't always possible to get movies, mp3's, games from seek42 too as there were restrictions as well on various HDD's and to avoid a burnout due to a ton of people logging into the same directories and basically just clogging and taking up all the traffic. The amount of movies especially was huge. It was a paradise for a movie aficionado. (A special mention over here goes to Abhinay for being the "imdb of Rolla" for several generations.)

My good old HDD has survived a lot of bashing in Rolla. Since it was a total dump of movies most people borrowed it dozens of times. (Also because the dump was directly from Abhinay's server with top notch stuff) I myself had to hunt for it several times and finally found it in some totally random location than it was at previously.(Several times at Dave's place. :)) Thankfully it is still working fine even though it does make a ton of noise now.

I have never felt a need to get more and more storage capacity. But I think I will have to get myself a new HDD soon sometime as my current one has been abused so much that it may die out on me anytime now. The next thing thus I am targeting for thanksgiving is a 1 TB+ external HDD.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wholesome food

Its been quite sometime for me in LA now. Initially, Yatin and myself had pretty much frequented almost all the food joints in the vicinity. Then after we finally moved into the apt we started cooking. Its been about a week now since we started on home cooked meals and for a change we went out to a normal American diner yesterday.

Now this place had the best lemonade I have had so far in the US. Seriously its just like the tangy sort that you get in India. (Most other places the lemonade is just not done.) We had been to this joint before and remembered only the lemonade part of the previous meal. Yesterday we ordered almost the same items off the menu. But for some reason neither of us could finish the meal. We both were quite hungry and the food seemed exactly like the previous time but for whatever reason we just couldn't eat beyond a few scraps.

Finally we attributed this to the fact that we were getting so used to home cooked food and thus couldn't get ourselves to feast on normal American fare which now seemed way too bland. We then decided that Chipotle (Mexican), SUBWAY, IHOP, Dominos would probably be the only set of joints we could eat out at and that too in the worst case scenarios. Otherwise it doesn't matter how low our culinary skills stooped to but we would still prefer to eat ghar kaa khana.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Aye Hitch Hiker

How many of us have taken random rides from people. ( i.e. lifts) I have taken quite a few from some strangers during my undergrad days. Usually the trick involves to have a chick sticking a finger out (especially for flagging down a Sumo, Qualis) and then after the vehicle has stopped the rest of the junta used to pileup as well into the SUV.

Now regular drivers do regard hitchhikers as dangerous and even the vice versa where the hitchhiker needs to be careful about whom hes taking the ride with. Hitchhiking especially for the fairer sex is a lot different than it is for the guys. I remember taking a ride in a truck alone about 4 in the morning while coming back from a college fest. Now most people would probably consider this sheer lunacy but then again the only vehicles out at 4 in the morning are trucks ferrying the day's morning paper or vegetables, so I really didn't have much of a choice.

Hitchhiking is also a subject thats treated in a very negative role in most movies. Hollywood/Bollywood have a very stereotyped notion. Most often either the driver or the passenger turns out to be the evil dude.

In the US hitch hikers are a rare breed. First of all on no one walks on the roads, other than in the cities. However there is definitely a unique form of hitching a ride also known as "slugging" over here. This is pretty much specific to the Washington D.C. area (for now).

There is the concept of the HOV (Heavily Occupied Vehicle) lane on the freeways over here but for that in DC there is a 3 person HOV so many a times a car may have only the driver who cannot use the HOV as he does not have the specific capacity in his car. Thus the driver pickups passengers (slugs) from the bus stops and thus it is mutually beneficial for all people involved. The driver gets to his destination faster because he can now use the HOV and the slugs save on traveling time, parking and gas.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

On the tube

The television is something that means different things to different people. Guys usually watch TV to catch up on a game or two. I have hardly ever seen a guy sitting and watching a serial (and am not talking about the K crap here.) Watching a game is something that takes precedence over most other matters. While in India it was cricket. (as probably this was the only sport that had the highest media coverage of all) but in the US its a whole different thing. TV rules the average joe's life over here. Its no wonder that the Superbowl is among the most watched events ever. The World Series, Stanley Cup, NBA Conference Playoffs aren't far behind either.

Also people watch all kinds of programming over here. Sometimes seriously the amount of crap out there on the TV is huge. I mean how many people need to see late night reruns of bad 80's acting.( or even Flavor of Love on VH1). TV was always a luxury in Rolla, not many apts had TV's and there were even fewer with cable installed. Most of the time though we hooked up our laptops to watch a movie or watch a cricket match.

Southpark will be of the most remembered shows. We are still so hooked up to it that "Timmmy", "Lick my b****" , "Screw you guys, am going home" are like golden words.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Blackjack !!!

I have never been fond of playing cards. Actually I'll probably be the last person you would associate with cards. Don't get me wrong I have played these games before but I would invariably forget most of these games once they were over. The next time that someone would ask me to join in for rummy etc., I would need a crash course again in the basic rules before I could actually play.

Also I fumble a lot if there are more than a few cards in my hand. I couldn't produce a highly stylish 'fan' shape even if all my money depended on it. Also I tend to get bored after sometime of playing card games. (Its probably because I lose concentration on the current set of cards and look for something else to do :))

However this post is about blackjack, one of the most popular card games in the world. I had recently gone to see 21, it deals with a bunch of MIT students who could beat the big time casinos and take them at their own game. I felt the movie was quite over the top as I highly respect Kevin Spacey and wanted to see him in a meatier role.

I found the game quite interesting though as for one I didn't have to hold cards in a 'fan' shape and just plain maths was involved over here. 21 is blackjack period. You didn't have to take into account for colors, shapes or anything else. It was just numbers, and that too basic math i.e. addition, subtraction. Most housewives in India could probably play good blackjack as this is what they did daily. (Compute regularly the rates of the veggies, assorted household products.)

I did go back home and try it though and I have been hooked since then I must say. (and No I don't play with real money as frankly I don't have that much to gamble away. If I did have a bundle I would probably spend it on a trip to India or visit friends elsewhere)

I still play blackjack online as and when I get time for it. And maybe I will play with real money when I go to Vegas, but for now am quite content with learning the game and becoming a better player at it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


After I had moved to Rolla one of the first things to do was hunt for an apartment. 1300 was the desi apt complex and with a ton of people coming in for the fall semester it wasn't going to be easy to secure an apt.

Shetty and me had decided to book an apt from India itself. (Shetty will probably remember our garam sessions near Thane station.) After spending a night or two at apt 5 we made our way to the nearby Investment Realty (IR). Now IR is the agency which has under it most of the buildings near campus and as mostly desis stay near campus its quite used to seeing desi junta coming in regularly to get an apt. The unit we were getting was a brand new unit as previously due to a heating problem it had been completely renovated.

We both were among the first bunch of people to finalize an apt and a grand housewarming ceremony was held as well within as much as our meager $$'s could afford. It was the first sem and Bud was pretty much the staple diet initially. The apt was quite big and was the most expensive one in the entire complex during that period.

Moving into your own house however empty it is, is always a different thing than staying in temp accommodation at some other place. Setting up a house is something I also got pretty much used to now. There are a ton things to be done when you move into a new place. Also this was a lot more than just a new apt. It was an apt in a different continent altogether.

We did prepare some food and pretty much most of the guys who came for Fall 06 were present. It wasn't like it was a 4 course spread but then it was our first home cooked meal.

I will probably move in and out of several places in some span of time but moving for the first time into 'My first home in the US' will always be in a different league.

Cuban Connectivity

Cuba is primarily known for its cigars. I came across an article that said Cuba was finally selling PC's to the general public. (Mind you, legal internet access is still a long way away.) The new prez has finally opened up a lot of stuff that were previously not available thanks to sanctions etc.

In the 21st century we have got so used to being connected all the time that it sometimes is difficult to even imagine that a country so close by to the US is still in the dark about IT.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Need for MORE Speed

We had been looking forward to the Red Bull Air Race since quite some time. The RBAR is a basically an aerobatics event where pilots have to complete a complex course in the shortest possible time. It's popularly known as the F1 of flying.

We decided to attend the qualifying event on Saturday instead of the final race on Sunday as crowd would be a bit less, hence parking wouldn't have been a major issue. Yatin, Raajan and myself setout from LA to meet Deepak and his friend at San Diego. Tickets had been already booked online and we had an idea about what we were in for. The good thing though was since this is a relatively new event the ticket prices were kept decently priced. (15$ each)

The only way you ensure that an event becomes a big name is by making sure first that the event becomes popular and this can only be possible if you get the maximum amount of people to attend it. Thus the crowd turnout was quite sizeable at the event and since it was on the weekend with some excellent sunny weather, people were out to have a good time in the sun.

Food,drinks and merchandise however were a different story and were quite pricey. Then again this was being held in the San Diego bay area where I don't think that you can do something like this regularly. Restrooms were also easily accessible which was a good thing as the entire bay area was pretty much cordoned off. We initially drove a bit off path and were almost at the Mexico border. Soon though we were back on track and reached the South Embarcadero Island which was one of the two viewing points for the race.

We then met up with Deepak and took some good spots to view the race. Initially there was a show put up by the Navy the highlight of which was a F-18 Hornet roaring past us on full afterburner. The sound was HUGE and the entire bay reverberated with it. Soon the actual qualifiers started and it was treat to watch highly honed skills being put through razor edge tests. The pilots had to complete a highly intricate course with chicanes in the least amount of time. This was very similar to F1 where skills are put to the test a lot more than strength. Soon we were cheering for passes being completed successfully and for even shorter lap times.

In the end it was a highly successful event and everyone returned back tired but entirely satisfied. This was a very different outdoor experience akin probably to going to a Lakers game. (Probably I'll think about catching a Lakers game sometime now.)


My travels in linux land

Monday, April 7, 2008

Concrete Ideas

The internet boom has made it easier for people to interact, blackberries, corporate wi-fi services have also ensured that no one anywhere is 'left out'. Rolla for instance which is referred to as the middle of nowhere has one of the best connected campuses in the entire midwest region.

Now considering that all this connectivity exists today then why do still people crave to live in the urban jungle. If you just consider the monetary aspect over here it would definitely be advantageous to stay in a place like Rolla. As far as commodities go the essential ones will always be available at the local Walmart and if you want something specific then you could always pick it up online.

The bottomline thus comes to the fact that we prefer being around people. To be more specific we prefer being around 'like minded people'. Yes most of us often dream about owning our own private island but when it comes to actually moving permanently then I doubt how many of us would actually go for it.

In the US there is something about megacities like NYC, SFO, Chicago, LA. In todays world being around the right people more often than not is the reason for people relocating to these megacities. The $ factor is there obviously but you are exposed to a whole lot more when you are based in the cities. You learn to live by your watch, subway times become more important than anything else and most of your routine is based on the subway schedule.

And once you are into this system it becomes really difficult to let go and move to a laid back country lifestyle. Maybe several decades down the line we consider health issues and then relent to moving to something less stressful and slow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Coming back to Life

A classic Floyd track from the Division Bell album and then something more too. The phrase "Coming back to Life" is something related to rejuvenating the mind, waking up from a deep slumber, a fresh start.

For any desi who has been in the US of A for a sufficient amount of time this phrase can be truly applied when he is landing on Indian soil. There is a very very different feeling when you are coming back to your country. The feeling, the high can never ever be achieved by any sort of stimulants whatsoever. And if you ask anyone he would probably tell you that just this feeling itself is totally worth the actual price of the ticket or any other expenditure incurred on the trip.

I had gone to India last summer. My itinerary was St.Louis - Detroit - Amsterdam - Mumbai (Northwest Air). I couldn't sleep during the route from Amsterdam - Mumbai. The airbus had displays which showed the entire flight route being undertaken like a driving route on google maps. I spent quite sometime watching that route and especially had my eyes glued to the display when the flight was somewhere beyond the Pakistan border and in the Arabian Sea.

I sometimes think that patience is one of the few virtues I possess but now with the flight just hovering over Mumbai I was getting damn pissed. Finally it did land however. The feeling when the wheels touched down on the tarmac are just the same as any other flight landing I had experienced but then again I knew better. The flight finally taxied a bit and soon was at the gate. Even while the flight was taxiing I was grinning from ear to ear. There were signboards around in Marathi and desi vehicles all around. As soon as the doors opened to the aircraft and I stepped out I was hit the face with INDIA all over. It wasn't just the weather or the smell or anything like that. It was just the entire experience of being on Indian soil after being away for so long.

I was never more happy to see a Mumbai Police constable than when I was while walking towards the baggage claim carousel. I hadn't told anyone that I was coming on that day to India except a few close buddies and so I really wasn't in a rush to head back home and all. I managed to get my bags comfortably and headed out of the terminal to gorge on some really good food after eons. Since no one at home knew about my arrival I figured I might as well use the extra time I had at my disposal and go home at my own convenient time. I did reach home late though and gave my folks quite a good scare.

Hamara Jagghuaar

I came across a news article recently, Tata Motors had bought the marques Land Rover and Jaguar from Ford. This piece of news is a huge step for the Indian Automotive industry. It could turn out to be a bigger revolution than the IT sector and outsourcing for India.

These events could very well mean that Tata could now compete in the global luxury car market. This market has mainly been the bastion of the old school players, i.e. Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Bentley etc. (Note. I do not mention the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches over here as they truly do not recent the uber rich class. You will more likely see a multimillionaire astride a Triumph than a Harley Davidson or inside an AM Vanquish than a Porsche 911.)

Now even though Jaguar wasn't exactly a profitable division of Ford it was still a league apart compared to the other road cars. Jaguar showrooms were and still are few and far between. I have seen tons of other car showrooms in Dallas but have hardly come across an exclusive Jaguar dealership.

Also this piece of news was in the wake of the unveiling of the Tata Nano. Now monetarily at least the Jag and the Nano are poles apart. Also the biggest surprise is Tata acquired the Jag, Land Rover at half the price which was initially paid by Ford to acquire these marques. The Jag thus is probably Tata's initial foray into the higher end car segment. I won't be surpised if Tata later acquires a supercar marque (McLaren anyone...) and works its way into that market share as well.

I don't know if I can own a Jag anytime but it does give a great feeling to know that a desi manufacturer is taking it to the big guns.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


One of my biggest peeves has always been the printer responsible for getting me crucial hard copies. It works fine when anyone else gives it a print job but when my turn comes, then NOOOOOO it will more often than not spew out garbage.

It all started during my engineering. The lab printers hated me for some reason or the other. Even a simple print command from notepad meant reams and reams of garbage. There were occasions when during a particular lab someone had to sit and take printouts from the lab for about 10-12 of us friends. If I was ever given the charge to sit and take those printouts then rest assured the job would never have been completed and I definitely would waste a ton of paper and toner. Now these printers were dot matrix printers. The ones which go "khrrrrrrrrr.... khrrrrr... ghreeee......khrrr". It always seemed to me as if the devil was operating the printer and foul mouthing us for abusing the device.

This thing with the printouts continued till the end of my engineering. After I moved to Rolla the library, lab printers seemed like angels compared to what I suffered. They obeyed my every command and paper, toner was never an issue. I may not be the only one on cloud nine over here too. After the discovery of color printers in the ECE bulding it was a riot. Desis totally abused those printers and how. Tons and tons of printouts of personal photographs were taken. The entire situation got so out of hand that by the time I was in my final semester the color printers were removed from the ECE building altogether. (Desis later took their photos from the Mech building and other labs.)

The UMR library was one the best places if printouts were ever an issue. All those resumes which were handed out in lieu of coffee cups, assorted junk were mainly taken out on the old faithful library printers. Those printouts which later weren't of any use were either just thrown away or dumped in the recycling bin in the library itself. Maybe a few overzealous students would have maintained notes meticulously and those slides,handouts would again be used by the next bunch of guys taking that course.

I wish there would someday be the ultimate printer in the market, something which could print as fast as your mind could think. (Also I hope I am alive to see that day.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

6 Strings of Steel

I picked up the guitar pretty late. SSC (1998) had just got over and there was a huge 3 month gap before anything else could happen and so I ended up getting myself a 6 string to play with for that duration.

I bought a standard sasta Hobner for about 2000 Rs from Furtado's @ Metro. It was the first time that I had ever set foot in a music store to actually purchase something rather than just fiddle around with all the paraphernalia. Walking into a huge store with all these musical instruments around is a very different experience than walking into any other consumer goods store. You can see all the instruments lying around and you just know that there could have been a concert right then and there. Also when you walk down the walls of guitars in the store you have an urge to just pick one up, irrespective of whether you intend to play it or not. I have seen people going speechless while walking down that section.

I got the guitar back to my place and decided to join a local instructor. I wasn't the only one though and there were a couple of my other friends who also had decided to take up the guitar. The first couple of weeks were rather boring and also it didn't help that my fingers hurt like hell. We spent the initial couple of weeks just going through the basics and going through the scales to build up speed and harden the finger tips.

Many people who pickup the guitar ask me "Tell me the notes to play Hotel California/Stairway to Heaven etc. etc. I want to play only those." It isn't easy to explain it to them that learning songs takes time and patience. These songs are considered masterpieces in the own right and it took quite sometime before they were even composed so how can someone learn to play them outright.

I later soon left the instructor as school had started back but I still kept at the scales and still practiced them regularly. I took breaks quite regularly especially with the HSC coming up close. The vacation I got after the HSC was a really long one as engineering admissions for Mumbai Varsity took about 6 months to finalise. It was during this time that other friends joined in.(Amba, Jayant, Darshan, Rahul, Boney)

Engineering college started and finally I actually started on my guitar education. I had joined another instructor during the HSC break and soon quit there as well. I discovered the PC and after that there was no looking back. Jayant, Amba and myself spent countless hours perfecting some scales. There was always an interest in getting tabs, chord tabulature for some song or the other. One of the first songs we learned was "Nothing else Matters" by Metallica. We all felt on top of the world after we had accomplished it. There was no looking back after that and GnR, Floyd, Iron Maiden were being constantly practiced. It isn't easy for the person who doesn't play the guitar to understand this but its literally like a high that you get onto after getting one riff perfectly. ( I know people who have made the other person hear a particular song that they may have picked up, on the phone by keeping the phone right next to the guitar.)

After moving to Rolla I went to visit the local music store, Merles Music. It was quite a large store and had quite a few choices. Gerry helped with funds to setup the purchase of a Jackson Dinky. Sid had a basic Digitech RP80 processor which he had got from India. He had purchased the FX2000 and so I went to Merles and got myself the necessary adaptors and cables to hookup the RP80. Regularly then I had sessions at the apt also Diwali Night was just another excuse to pickup the guitar on and off. The jam sessions with Sid, Rommel, Arvie, Spandan and Romy will remain in my memory for a long time. More than anything else we were primarily interested in having fun.

As time passed however I didn't get a lot of chances to play, blame it on time constraints or just another party in Rolla. The Jackson is right now in St.Louis and I intend to go back soon and get it back with me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Jersey musings

I just got back to Dallas from New York. This was my second trip to NYC and I really don't need to mention that it will always be excellent. 42nd and Broadway especially will always have that kind of energy around it.

The trip this time around was more about meeting new people though than sightseeing NYC. The only people I 'knew' beforehand this time were Gerry n Shubika. Since we were crashing at Rutgers it was a very Rolla-ish atmosphere during the time we spent there. We did spend time sightseeing around NYC but since I had already seen the touristy places I was more than looking forward to meeting the Rutgers crowd.

On Saturday night we spent time alongwith them. It was a nice change to running around the whole time on the streets of NYC. Initially there were about 8-10 people which later on became larger and larger as time progressed. I have never been a big fan of board games but this time around with so many people we had some fun during TABOO, Cranium and later Dumb Charades (DC).

I have always enjoyed DC and so in the end was totally up for it with just 5 more people in the fray.(Hmm...let me see if I can remember everyone over here now....Satish,Ramya,Gayatree,Shilpi,Nishant...if any of you guys do read this do let me know if the list is correct.) The wine was just superb. I usually go for Shiraz but this time tried out Merlot and couple of others. Playing DC after wine is better than simply playing DC. :)

The best part was that people welcomed us to join in their parties just like they would have done to close friends and within themselves. I thought that UMR had the most enthu desi junta but turns out that Rutgers also isn't too far behind when it comes to having big desi parties too. (Probably the main difference though when it comes to Rolla and desis at any other place was that no one in Rolla needed a reason to party anytime. Ever.)

This post is dedicated to Satish, Ramya, Gayatree, Pallavi and the rest of the Rutgers crowd. Thanks guys. You Rock.

P.S. Gayatree if you do read this could you send me those pics taken at the party.

Friday, March 21, 2008


I just reached Newark Liberty International yesterday evening. Thanks to the Easter weekend there were tons and tons of travelers at Dallas, St. Louis and Newark.

My flight from Dallas to St. Louis was perfectly on time. Rather it was me who could screw it up by just missing the flight. I have usually just a single backpack on me (with no checked in baggage.) and so even a last moment dash to the gate is fine.

Seeing St. Louis will always have a special feeling. Am sure any person from Rolla will know what I am talking about here. It was just a stopover for me this time around instead of usually being the destination. But Lambert International will always bring back several memories. (Sanjeev will undoubtedly remember the Fall 07 pickups :))

I was in for a major mess up ahead now. My connecting flight to Newark was delayed and how. Whoever said that Indian Rail has delays hasn’t seen how delays affect the entire American system. My flight from St. Louis to Newark was delayed badly and the worst part was none of the staff and crew could tell me when it would be resolved. I usually carry several bollywood movies with me on my DELL whenever traveling to at least have something to watch rather than spending on pricey wi-fi services at airport lounges. (Bollywood stuff because each movie is about 3 odd hours long and so you have almost a solid playing time of 12-15 hrs with several movies)

I managed to catch the first half of Omkara before I finally boarded the flight to Newark. I thought that the worst was over but there are some ways of how these things keep spiraling out of control. My flight was then stranded on the runway. The captain switched the engines off and we were just sitting on the runway. It was sometime again before we finally were on our way to Newark.

On finally reaching Newark I saw that it was a total mess of things. Almost all flights arriving at Newark were delayed. I had a friend coming in from Greensboro, NC. Her situation was probably one of the worse ones. The flight previous to hers had been delayed and the crew over there as well had no clue when her flight would be scheduled.

The delays however were restricted just to the eastern zone (Newark, Cincinnati etc.). When I got off at Terminal A there was total chaos all around. It was like a sea of people. Most had no other choice but to wait it out. The numerous food joints weren’t complaining though. Even the pricey ones were crowded beyond the usual and people who would think several times about paying those exorbitant prices were lining up outside these joints.

Being the only one with a solid almost fully charged cell phone and full signal strength, I was by default in charge of ensuing a sort of co-ordination between the rest of us. (A special thanks to the inventor of the hands free without whom it would have been really slow as I had my hands full by now with other stuff.)

I have to say that patience is a virtue at these moments and could see several people who were quite pissed at the whole thing and were ready to fly off at the least of provocations. Now I hate to think about the state of those people who aren’t just delayed but also have misplaced baggage (I didn’t have both my bags when I landed in St. Louis the first time and I can imagine this scenario quite well.)

After quite a wait (while watching Chaalbaaz) we (Shubika, Moumita, myself) all finally met up and moved to the NJ Transit for Rutgers. I leave on Sunday back to Dallas and this time I have a stopover at Chicago. (The busiest airport in the US), and if I face delays of a major sort I have half a mind to take the CTA and go off to Loyola and then to Devon Avenue. (Btw I typed up the major part of this long post while I was waiting at Newark)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Flying Comments

My primary mode of travel in India has always been the Great Indian Railway.( and that too only 2nd class sleeper.) After coming to the US the only time I took the rail (long distance) was from St.Louis to Chicago. Low cost airlines are the defacto mode of travel over here for the common man.

Being a student I had to search and search quite a lot for getting good cheap flight deals.(However going to India justifies any and every cost.) I have managed to get some real good flight deals often. (Call it luck or my patience to wade through tons of deals to get the best one.)

While traveling as a student time was never a constraint and so flights at any time were fine with me. Also I have preferred to have flights with stopovers. I am quite tall and so sitting in a cramped position for any period of time is not my cup of coffee. (I don't drink tea.) Even if I do get a cheap flight with no stopovers while I am getting my boarding pass from the counter during checking in I try and ask the guys at the counter if they have anything with a stopover that I could change to.

Thanks to this stopover business I have seen quite a few airport lobbies and met several interesting people along the way too. There will always be the couple out to spend a special weekend together, an entire family, business executives on their blackberrys, the hottest chick on that flight( that everyone will be hoping to has the immediate next seat to them), the lost people (in their own thoughts), fanatical sports fans (I had a conversation for quite a while with a Cardinals fan when he saw that I was from St.Louis.) and other assorted characters. On international flights however I am a lot more interested in the airport lobby than my fellow travelers.(Duty free stuff anyone.) Also you get to sample local fares from that country at these international stopovers.

Low cost airlines are the big rage in India too now. (Air Deccan, Spicejet, Indigo etc.) There is nothing that can beat the Indian Rail network though. Even though there are these cheap airlines but still the common man who may have a stopover at Bhusaval while going from Mumbai - Nagpur will take the rail. The low cost model has done well in the US mainly due to the less coverage of its rail network and also due to the huge number of airports. NYC for instance is serviced by JFK, Newark International and La Guardia. (Dallas also has two airports ,DFW and Lovefield.)

IMHO until adequate infrastructure comes up it will take quite some time for low cost airlines to take off in India and become the main mode of transport like they are in the US.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shopaholics Anonymous

Shopping is considered a very big stress reliever in the US. (also some times known as retail therapy.) I am a typical guy and shopping is probably one my of last things to do. (My policy pretty much is I won't buy it if I don't need it IMMEDIATELY. Procrastination is an art I have honed and perfected over the years.)

I have several friends though who are constantly on the lookout for bargains and will keep searching like it was the Templar treasure. (Mind you it isn't just gals over here that am talking about too.) I don't mind going along for shopping though as it is interesting to see new stuff and also good fun. (If you don't know what I am talking about here you have obviously not seen females going crazy on a shoe sale.)

Shopping online though from recommended stores is good if you know exactly what you are looking for. Getting electronic consumer goods especially is a simple and hassle free process. It definitely beats going from store to store looking for the best bargains.

There are various types of shoppers. There are people on whom any store depends on. These are the guys who will pick the stuff up even if they won't need the stuff. There are also roadie shoppers who will hunt and hunt for even a pair of cheap slacks. I am that kind of shopper who is hated the most by dealers. First of all I come in at the last spur and demand just for one and only one thing. Also I CAN'T bargain. If I need something that would only be possible by bargaining then I take a friend or two along who are good at haggling and get my stuff.

I admire those guys who have the perseverance to negotiate a deal with the seller. These are the guys whom I call the equivalent of the spanish matadors. They can skillfully negotiate a deal with the seller and come out looking quite contended with their purchase. Whenever a hostage situation arises then I suggest these guys to be put in the negotiation teams.

On a closing note there are also people who need therapy to relive stress from shopping. (Varun's quote from Hyderabad Blues comes to mind.) I'll be in NYC soon with shopping some where or the other on the agenda for my friends. The trip should be fun. :)

Organised Chaos

Blogging for me is mainly about putting my thoughts down on any particular topic I have in mind or have been thinking about for some time. Lately I have been reading a lot and was often swamped by the amount of stuff out there on various blogs. There has always been a need to have easy accessibility to information. Just picking up stuff at random and reading through them is fine but if you are looking for some specific information then it could prove to be a daunting task. Sure Google search has eased the work out a lot. But there is still a lot more out there.

The latest widget to try and help bloggers is there on the right, 'VerveEarth'. Now I just registered over here today and got my blog on the VerveEarth network. The idea over here being the geographically mapping out of the web. For instance it could be used for finding out what fellow bloggers in Madagascar were talking about or meeting up bloggers with similar interests in Dallas,TX.

Its a good idea of geographically mapping the web and literally puts the world at your finger tips now. The site is still in its beta phase and with more and more bloggers coming into the picture soon this may just be the next way of checking out blogs,news etc.

It will take some time but soon people would be interested in checking out region specific stuff. Meeting out fellow bloggers could probably even work out as a dating service. (People having similar interests being the common ground to meet up.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gaming Station

My earliest experience with indoor games were the regular dice and counter based board games,Monopoly, Business and also Scrabble. Hours and hours of rainy afternoons were spent with friends on those boards. Later on however hardly any could get together to play them as most were immersed in books and school.

Nintendo,SEGA then flooded the indian market and the game system was the whole rage everywhere. The amount of time that kids during the 90's spent on these was huge.

Contra and Super Mario were everywhere. Any kid all over the country was into them. There was just one rule: You would be the grandmaster of Contra if you crossed all the stages on the 3 life limit.(I don't know how they did it but I could never complete the game even on the 30 life limit.)

Later on after sometime most of us lost interest in the SEGA's, Nintendo's mainly due to the advent of the PC. Kids now would spend their time on Dave,Prince of Persia (Original), Wolf, Alladin. Soon as hardware got more and more elaborate we played a multitude of titles NFS, Halflife, Age of Empires, Quake, Flight Sims and dozens of others. Multiplayer Gaming later took off thanks to the bandwidths being offered. (BTW I have played FIFA 02 multiplayer with a friend even on a basic dial up connection.) In Rolla I had some really great sessions of CounterStrike with fellow roommates and other friends.( Will post on those sessions sometime soon.)

Last weekend me and a couple of friends went out and got ourselves a home theater system and a PS2. (We didn't go in for the PS3 because we didn't have a HDTV and neither did we have that kind of money to splurge.) We got Tekken 5 and a couple of other game titles and there was no looking back. We then stayed glued to the controllers and hardly left the apt thereafter.

It's a weekend again now and Tekken here I come. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nashe mein kaun nahi hai mujhe batao zara

In layman's terms, the word alcohol (Arabic:"al-kuḥl") usually refers to ethanol, also known as grain alcohol or (older) spirits of wine, or to any alcoholic beverage. Ethanol is a colorless, volatile liquid with a mild odor which can be obtained by the fermentation of sugars. Ethanol is the most widely used depressant in the world, and has been for thousands of years. This sense underlies the term alcoholism (addiction to alcohol).

Alcohol does elevate us to a different level. People drink for various causes. Some of the greatest ventures are celebrated with a toast, a special occasion marks the clinking of glasses and a pop of the bubbly, and also to just revel in the present moment.

There are various types of characteristics which can define people by their preferred choice of beverage. Most guys start out on beer and then develop a taste for the better stuff. The combination of alcohol and music is a deadly one. People dance,laugh and even cry after they are 'done'. Another thing I have noticed is people talk a lot when they are under the influence. I myself have spilled out stuff that most probably I wouldn't have if I was sober.( Then again I do talk a LOT normally.)

Conscience doesn't prevent sin, it prevents you from ENJOYING IT.

The above line is so true. Its for those guys who have a conscience to never touch a drop of the stuff. Now I am NOT advocating alcoholism over here. (Too much of a good thing is bad for one.) I know people who have tried it and say "I just don't like it yaar". Well then you guys probably haven't tried out the good stuff ;).

Another set of people are those who proudly claim to have a capacity of a large tank. I seriously pity this category simply because they are a waste of good spirits. I mean consider a scenario where you are just having a good time sitting and drinking with friends and you are the only one 'left' out because you are the least affected. It ultimately comes out that it is just drinking for the sake of it rather than enjoying the moment. The 'state' which your other comrades are at will never be attained by you.

This goes out to all my fellow revelers of the moment, those immortal lines from the movie 'Sharaabi'.

kissi pe husn ka guroor jawani ka nasha....kissi ke dil pe mohabbat ki rawaani ka nasha....kissi ko dekh ke sanson se ubharta hain nasha...bina peeye hi kahin hadh se guzarta hain nasha...nashe mein kaun nahee hain mujhay batao zara...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Freeze Frame

We have all heard the concept about the flash mob. (A group of people gathering at a place at the same time and vanishing just as fast after performing a common activity.) I then came across the 'Frozen Grand Central' video. It was executed to perfection. There were scores of people wondering to themselves and to others what was exactly going on. I then followed the links to ImprovEverywhere.(IE)

This was built on the ideology 'We cause scenes'. The FAQ on the site states that they are basically out to have some good harmless fun. (Fun doesn't mean over here at someone else's expense.) It is all purely voluntary and almost anyone can sign up. I went through the site and had a peek at the list of senior agents. There was something striking over there. This group is mainly based in NYC and I couldn't spot a single desi name in the listing even though Queens is a haven for desis.

There is something that was weird about that as there are tons and tons of desis in and surrounding NYC but still this was the scenario. There is a different mentality to be taken into consideration when you think about a desi participating in a venture like this. Even if someone did decide to take part the initial reaction would be "Nahi yaar....its too damn embarrassing yaar...Kisi ne mujhe pehchan liya toh fir...and of course...log kyaa sochenge...."

I checked out the IE Global site and saw that there were groups of people based on different cities, countries. I did find groups on Mumbai and Bangalore too. But with just the founders of those groups being the current members. I could imagine something like the NYC Grand Central thing happening at VT, Churchgate stations though. Mumbai, Bangalore have a very youth oriented crowd and so something like this if possible could be done by them. Mumbai University (MU) students have often staged several meets outside Kalina, Santacruz (MU HQ) and maybe someday this movement would be possible over there as well.

For now though if this idea was proposed most guys reactions would be..."mujhe aur koi kaam dhaam nahi hai kyaa...kyaa bakwaas idea hai...". Maybe bollywood could also make a movie based on this. Yuva-sque.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

All aboard the culture express

There is one striking scene about 'Swades' which defines the movie in its entirety. Its the 'cup of water scene'. This scene delivers the whole theme behind not just the movie but the entire system. The reason why this is because SRK is experiencing it for himself rather than reading about it in some common newspaper. We are equally moved because without saying a word we can feel what he is going through at that stage.

But this post is not about the movie. This post is about what SRK experienced during that moment.

The only way to actually experience something is to go do it yourself. SRK was a traveler here who was returning back to the village. While on the journey back he saw for himself what the people at the grassroots were facing.

Most of us travel with elaborate plans and everything chalked out right upto the end. Yes this does give one a good, safe view of the trip but also alienates us from something that maybe happening on the extreme fringes of the place which most tourists are aware of. For example some of the best delicacies are found in the bylanes and roadside shacks in Mumbai rather than in the fanciest of restaurants. You get to meet several interesting people there as well. And to really talk in 'Bambaiyya Hindi' you need to talk with its people who travel in the locals and eat the roadside vada paav, chicken fried rice.

Above is a pic courtesy of rediff, Mrs.Pitt boarding a local from Charni Road to Churchgate. Now thats what I call trying to be ' Lara Croft'. If she did something like this during peak hours then she probably deserves the title of the biggest action star since Bruce Willis in Die Hard.

Btw on a closing note. If you see 'Swades' closely there is a strong influence of water in the whole movie. It starts with SRK giving a talk in NASA about the dangers of global precipitation, his consuming a load of bisleri initially, the cup of water scene, SRK putting his feet into the water for the first time and finally diving headlong into the water tank.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Have been a bit busy on the weekend ;) and should be back to posting in a day or two

Sunday, March 9, 2008

with bag n baggage

The last weekend was pretty busy. A friend(Bazzu) just moved to Dallas and was helping out with the usual stuff. This got me thinking about several issues such as, how many ways someone may view a new place, the initial adjustment issues, making new friends from scratch, away from all the people you spent so much time with (and more often than not took for granted too.)

Moving to a new place is hard. Especially after staying in a place like Rolla(literally a home away from home.) When I moved to Dallas I wasn't exactly in a happy happy mood and all. However I did hear from other guys that Dallas was a pretty good place to be in.

I had a couple of friends already in Dallas (from UMR as well as from my undergrad days in Mumbai) so most of my weekends so far have been pretty much with those guys. Making new friends however is a different matter all together. Dallas has a ton of desis, probably more than even NJ, Chicago but getting to meet people and having a good time isn't that easy. I have been in touch with most people during my days in Rolla. (The north - south 'divide' didn't bother me much as it does most other guys.) Also I guess I have been a bit provincial in my outlook too and haven't moved on to make more friends than beyond the existing Rolla, Mumbai friend circle.

Maybe if I do end up hanging out with the UTD (University of Texas - Dallas) crowd then probably I will end up having a blast. Its much easier to make friends during your student lifestyle than it is during the working phase. (Also probably the reason for guys getting married and all and looking for a companion .)

This one is quite a different post (for those people who 'know' me). Well all i'll say is being in new place with a minuscule friend circle does give one time for introspection.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Loose Change

The city of Mumbai (previously known as Bombay.) There are cities and there are cities but none of them can come close to Mumbai and its people. There is something over here thats much more than the amount of money that is present in the city. In the early days if anyone in the country wanted to make something for himself then Mumbai was the place to be in.
Mumbai has been the breeding ground for most of the entrepreneurs we hear about today. Sure the majority of them have built up on businesses handed down to them from generations, but then the whole startup was in Mumbai itself.

There is something about the famous work culture of Mumbai. After the 93' riots immediately the next day itself most offices recorded large scale attendance. This was true even during the 26/7 floods which had disrupted and crippled the city to a large extent. I was a kid during the 93 riots and was more concerned about my Geography test in school. However I was quite affected by the 26/7 flooding incident. I was stuck at Thane station for quite sometime with a dead cellphone. I did manage to reach home the same day though after several hops, skips and jumps along the way. (Not to mention the amount of water that I did wade through. I am 6'2" and still had water pretty much waist high.) I am a decent swimmer.(I have been on lifeguard duty for the YMCA.) , however the raging floods were quite another thing so I can imagine how the situation must've been for the average office goer.

Family and all were fine as I was the only one who had faced the floods. Dad stayed back in office and came the next day. Mom's work place was pretty closeby and so she had an early day off. The next morning while the folks stayed at home, I went out to see what had actually happened the previous evening. All I could see for quite sometime was a scene from Kevin Costner's Waterworld.

After surveying the damage done and seeing that pretty much everyone was out of the water and people were just waiting for the water to subside to get back to their daily routines, I headed back home with a heavy mind. I had tons of questions in my head which were asking basically just one thing." Mumbai is the richest city in the country, paying the most taxes, with a huge population demographic and still getting just loose change for all that it was contributing to the country's economy. Why."

Us and Them

You never realise this in India but when you are in the US there is a huge cultural impact of the term 'TGIF' (Thank God it's Friday). The whole system is geared towards the weekend being the most looked forward to of all days. And if there is a long weekend then you will find most people flying out to various destinations arranging to meet loved ones and having a blast while doing so.

After a really gruelling work week a Friday means that you will see most people smiling at you irrespective of who you may be. Even during my grad days in Rolla I have seen people just smiling and generally happy on Fridays. As it is the US doesn't really have an extensive list of holidays like India does, so the common public makes the most of those precious ones that do come by.

It starts out with Friday evening, people going back from work and planning to headout to some happening joint which would be the buzz around town, partying till the wee hours of Saturday morning and then heading back home for some rest. Saturday nights (SN) are also pretty much similar to the Friday night (FN) culture. However most people who have already partied on a FN try to avoid another round on SN. The people who do end up clubbing on a SN are either the die hard party goers or those guys who missed out on the previous FN. Most people though end up spending their time at a fancy restaurant or just relaxing at home with buddies. (Mind you, this doesn't prevent them from getting stoned though.)

In India nightlife usually means SN as most people work on a Saturday as well. However recently DUI has become a major issue in most metros and most people are having some sort of designated driver while traveling in groups. Also most regular people aren't really the partying types and end up just relaxing at home and watching a movie or something similar. Sundays are also pretty much relaxed with just some friends meeting up and going out for lunch etc.

In the US the Sunday is usually reserved for recovering from the hangovers one may have based on their SN experience. (I have become a veteran is this issue Also people finish up what they may have to leave out during the coming work week (shopping for essentials, laundry, paying the bills etc.)

Bottomline: The US motto " Work Hard, Party Harder"

Thursday, March 6, 2008


For those of you who aren't followers of the James Bond series, Q (Quartermaster) is the head of the research and development division for most of Bond's fancy gadgets. Most of us have seen or at least heard about James Bond's vast array of gadgets and his extreme wheels.(Shown below is the Lotus Esprit)

Most of us have wondered at some time or the other how a spy's life would actually be. I mean we really don't read most the stuff a spy actually does in the daily news. There have been scores of books published to that effect as well. But the gadgetry is something that none of the books can do justice to. Take the cellphone as an example. We had just started out with the most basic phone (Back in those days a single minute of outgoing used to cost about 20-30 Rs in India.) Today we have the iPhone. One device that can do pretty much everything that someone would wish for. However functionality and design are two separate issues at hand.

The device you see above is the next generation of cellphones from Nokia, Morph. Based on Nanotechnology the possibilities of something like this are pretty much endless. (Wearable technology anyone...) You can catch a glimpse of the 'Morph' over here. The future looks to be Nanotech all the way. However the repercussions of this revolution could be huge as well.
We have all seen the demos of Microsoft Surface Computing but I wonder how many establishments will actually end up using it actively.

I use a Motorola SLVR L7 and am quite happy and contended with it. (And NO its a not a case of the story 'The grapes are sour'.)

Knowledge - Nation

I came across this on Youtube. The work being done of this type at KSU (read the transcript of the video) is highly different than what most other varsities are having in their curriculum's. I went to UMR (now Missouri S & T) and could realise what actually a student today had to put up with.

There is a statement in the beginning of the video which says " If students learn what they do, then what are they learning sitting here". (here as 'In the classroom.') Today I think this is typically a primitive form of teaching .(I have been a teacher too, and a part of the system. So I should know.) Most of the stuff that we end up reading is usually not relevant with what we probably will be doing the rest of our lives. (I am a Comp Sci graduate and so with the whole IT thing, I am quite happy the way my curriculum has turned out compared to what my peers have faced. I can cite countless sources who had to change majors just for fitting into the demands present in the job market.)

The video also mentions that when a student does graduate from school he will mostly be working at a job which may not even have existed while he was going through the rut of schooling. (Pretty relevant I should say if the student does end up changing majors at the end of it all.) A typical student does work at some job or the other in the US. This has to be the MOST important lesson in the guy's education.(there is a saying "Don't let you schooling interfere with your education") Most desi grad students I know haven't worked professionally during their undergrad years. This work culture which is present in the US truly shows the value of money to the student. ( w.r.t UMR I say that any desi who does come to the US should work atleast once in a dining and catering service. I have moved to Texas now and have seen guys from UTD work at the local desi cuisine joints for those extra $$)

Me and my fellow classmates have worked on everything else but classwork most of the time when we had our laptops in front of us in class. This wasn't just because the whole session was too damn boring but also because we really didn't care about the course and had to take it because of the compulsory number of credits required for the program of study.

Seeing the pic on top I suppose the class in session was probably not the most interesting class to attend. The pic has been taken from a Journalism class at Mizzou (University of Missouri - Colombia.) If you look here you will see why most of the students are working on a Mac.

Rang Barse

Its March and the Festival of Colors, Holi is here. For most desis in the US it isn't a really big occasion. Back home however Holi means a BIG DEAL. The day starts out with a puja and then a meeting of families and relatives and then us kids headed out to the neighborhood for some fun with colors and water.

The last holi however I was in Rolla. We did celebrate there as well with colors and water (Schuman Lake). However it was quite freezing as it had snowed the day before and most of us were out wearing several layers and trying to enjoy as much as we could. The colors were brought from St.Louis as were several other food items as well. After we had finished our playing and the cleaning, it was time for some food. There was a sumptuous spread prepared by the student volunteers completely. There were even fellow American students who had come to join us, desis in our holi festivities. It felt great that even though we were away from the festivities back home there was still enough to keep us occupied in Rolla, the middle of nowhere.

In India all us friends used to gather together and roam the neighborhood stalking anyone who strayed in our paths. By the end of it all however when we did look in the mirrors then all we could make out was a shape that resembled ourselves in some ways and probably a ton of assorted colors everywhere else. There were several people though that had a major fanatical phobia of colors and we used to take delight in dragging them out of their respective houses and totally plastering them all over. When we finally made our way back home after a really tiring session of roaming and loafing around we sat and hogged as much food as our families and others could prepare.
When we had finished with the food sometimes we also went out for another round of colors and fun. It also happened that we were pretty much the only ones left out in the streets by late evening. :)

Rail Gaadi

If like rap you must listen to Rail Gaadi from the movie 'Aashirwad', its one the pioneers of the rap genre that has taken over most of the US. Long before Tupac and his gangstas, our very own Dadamuni had already done it.
This post is however about the subject of the song 'Rail Gaadi' (Train). I have traveled extensively all over India at a time when low cost airlines weren't the norm they are today. The great Indian rail is one of the best ways to see the country (especially when the rail network is very very extensive.)

Before coming to the US, some friends and myself included made a trip on the Konkan Rail from Mumbai - Panaji (Goa). The whole stretch is often plagued by several landfalls and is closed quite a few times during the year. We decided to meet at Kurla Station and then head onto Thane to meet the rest of the guys. This was a weekday morning on which we were heading out. Being a true Mumbaiker it really didn't matter about the whole issue of crowds etc. (When you are from Mumbai and have spent some nauseating moments in the local trains you really care a lot less about petty issues.... lol)

We managed to grab some hot and spicy batate wade,kanda bhajias along the way. Our group comprised of Gaurav, Sushil, Mayukh (My undergrad buddies) and Laxman (An old pal from my 10+2 days), Rohit (Mayukh's colleague), and yours truely. The route from Thane onwards was breathtaking. It wasn't just enough that we were going to GOA!! but also that we were in the Konkan Rail. Travelling along the coastline was amazing. Konkan can easily be said to be one of the most beautiful and pristine places in India. Lush greenery all around and places untouched by the march of technology.

Malvan was truely amazing in every sense. We had a stopover later and then proceeded by bus to Panaji. We had just the bare essentials with us and so changing modes of transport wasn't an issue at all. We just slung over our bags and headed onto the bus. Sure the bus ride was bumpy and not ideally the cup of tea for most people but we really didn't care. We reached Panaji pretty late in the evening. We were exhausted but quite contended with our travails. In the following days we got ourselves immersed into Goa (aaah...heaven on earth).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Musically (De)clined

If we look at some the greatest musicians who have ever lived we can see a common pattern involving the use of intoxicants and assorted narcotics. The list is endless.....Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury, Michael Hutchence, James Hetfield, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne among others.
These are the same people who were icons during their time. I mean everyone knows that Hendrix was and will always be 'The Guitar God' (inspite of Slash,Petrucci and other contenders to the throne)

'Green day' is a band name but it also implies in California slang "Lazying around and smoking pot all day". What makes a musician indulge in narcotics is the whole issue. Yes, it does 'elevate' someone to a 'mind numbing' place. But the price that is paid is huge. I have had friends with whom I used to hangout and discuss heavy metal and the deepest ideologies behind lyrics, but soon with the usage of marijuana those same guys later moved onto Trance instead of Rock and Metal. This pretty much put them out of the group's hangouts as well as on various topics of discussion.

When we listen to Floyd or a even Dream Theater this is exactly what we try to achieve, a higher state. Yes the feeling that someone would get after smoking a joint and listening to "Coming back to Life" would probably even be better than anything else before that. (Some other guys I know would probably prefer Tool over here instead of Floyd)

Some of the most famous pieces of music were probably created when the band playing it themselves weren't aware of the notes being hammered out. Metallica themselves say that the "Kill em All" tour is something that they hardly remember anything of since they were mostly stoned while on stage. (Ref. the Live Shit - San Diego DVD)

Now if anyone thinks that all the substance abuse ended with Kurt Cobain needs to think again. Recently multiple Grammy winner, Amy Winehouse had some issues on that front.
There are choices to be made (maybe life altering one's) faced by most of us. The idea trying to be conveyed here is quite similar to the film 'Thank You For Smoking'

Dealings of the Horde

Thanksgiving for most desis in the US is concerned with getting good bargains while shopping. Most desis I know couldn't care less about the whole turkey eating event. Shopping remains the main priority during this time of the year.

During Thanksgiving 06' Abhinay woke up Dhake and myself to get to the STAPLES outlet nearby. So the three of us along with Devdutt made our way to the store in the wee hours. It was my first experience of shopping deals,rebates and what the big deal about the whole thing was. The previous night Abhinay had a whole sorted list of all the items which he was looking for (External HDD's,webcams etc.) I opted to just get myself an internal 200GB HDD.( I didn't want to risk a considerable amount on the whole rebates thingy as I frankly had no clue how the whole thing worked.) I had also already bought myself a external HDD enclosure online for 5$ (mind you, I had just got myself an enclosure and not the actual HDD yet).

Rama was the first one in the line when we reached STAPLES. I figured he was out for some serious shopping. Standing in line outside the store during thanksgiving is a nice experience. You end up cursing the weather a lot as well as STAPLES for not opening the store soon enough. Soon the store doors opened and the horde rushed in as if they were some conquering barbarians out to pillage and loot the golden town. One glimpse of the internal HDD was enough for me to pounce for it as if it was the elixir for immortality.

Abhinay and the others were also looking for their own share of bargains. Rama managed to achieve all his objectives by getting all the items he had on his list, as well as several other items which he could probably barter later for something he may have missed out. It was like going back to the Medieval Ages and STAPLES resembled a regular bazaar with hawkers, their wares and the customers haggling over bargains.

Once we were done with our dealings however it was time to shell out the cash and hope for the rebate checks to come back. We went back quite satisfied though and after reaching home fiddled a bit with our respective deals and then promptly went back to sleep.

It did take quite sometime but I managed to get all my rebate checks and so my overall purchase came to 25$ for a 200GB external HDD.

Wipeout !!!

Recently I had gone for skiing to a place near upstate Missouri. (Snow Creek) Turns out that skiing is way better than ice skating but nonetheless I was down most of the time. However I enjoyed the falling down part of skiing a lot more than the falling down part during ice skating.(Aaargh..)

Devang,Gerry and myself set out from Rolla to meet Mihir(from Tulsa) and Yadu,Dhake in Kansas City(KC). From KC the next morning we set out to the ski resort. Dhake had done some skiing earlier in Ohio and seemed a bit familiar with the whole environment. We started out by taking beginner lessons and then we were pretty much on our own. Yadu,Devang and myself were absolutely on a rampage, taking down ourselves as well as anything which stood in our paths. It was a lot like bowling actually. Going down the slopes at a decent enough speed and BAM!! before we knew it we were lying in the snow at the bottom of the slope. Gerry,Mihir and Dhake bravely hit the steeper slopes though.

After sometime we decided we had had enough and as usual went to grab a bite to eat. Gerry,Dhake and Mihir were still on the slopes though. We were quite contended with all the fun we had and after getting something to fill us up hit the slope (or rather should I say the deck once again).
Finally once all of us were done with skiing we returned our boots and gear. And I have to mention this but the relief you get from taking those two ton boots off is unbelievable. It felt for sometime as though we had just wrapped some cloth around our feet and nothing more. We then headed back to Dhake's place for some much needed siesta.

A mouthful of vitriol

vitriolic - harsh or corrosive in tone; "an acerbic tone piercing otherwise flowery prose"; "a barrage of acid comments";

We have always viewed television shows in India where the hosts are sweeter than honey.(Anu Kapoor, Pallavi Joshi and several other characters come to mind.) Some years ago before Simon Cowell came into the scene there was a show which originated from the most 'propah' place of all,London. BBC had started a new game show called 'The Weakest Link'. Anne Robinson, the host wasn't exactly sweet and sugary and most contestants on the show hated her. The show however became a hit with viewers because mainly people liked to see someone else being ridiculed on national television.

Now obviously (being inspired) TV channels in India started their own version of the show called 'Kamzor Kadi Kaun' (KKK) and the host over here now was Neena Gupta. The show was designed as an exact copy of the original BBC program along with the attitude of the host as well. Initially the show ran for some time but then it was soon shelved.

Around the time that KKK was meeting its demise another show was coming up on air, KBC. Soon KBC became a household name and the Big B was back with a bang. This now brings me to question why does Indian society frown upon rudeness and harshness on the part of the host. I mean c'mon even Big B must have lost his cool sometime . It would have been interesting to see how much KBC would have run if the host was all harsh and rude to the contestant. I suppose even if the whole Bachchan/Yashraj clan were hosting the show still it would have been a damp squib on the ratings scale and advertisers would soon have pulled out if the show wasn't a hit with the evening familywala viewer.

Simon Cowell on the other hand from his stint in American Idol is quite popular in the US of A. Its very true actually that there is no such thing as bad publicity.(especially when you are in the US.) He has pretty much told contestants off in the most blunt and rudest possible ways. India is also catching up though now to Mr.Cowell. If you happened to catch the latest MTV roadies auditions you would have seen one the judges, Raghu Ram and his scathing comments to the future bunch of roadies. Also there have been instances when contestants have told the duo(Raghu, Nikhil) off too.

It does prove though that audiences do want to see people taking it out on each other. (The auditions seem to be a bigger draw for most people rather than the actual roadies show itself.)