Thursday, March 27, 2008
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.
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
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
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
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
My flight from
I was in for a major mess up ahead now. My connecting flight to
I managed to catch the first half of Omkara before I finally boarded the flight to
On finally reaching
The delays however were restricted just to the eastern zone (
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
After quite a wait (while watching Chaalbaaz) we (Shubika, Moumita, myself) all finally met up and moved to the NJ Transit for
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
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
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. :)
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
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
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
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
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
Sunday, March 9, 2008
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
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."
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 now...lol). 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
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'.)
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.
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. :)
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
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'
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.
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.
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.)
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
While onto the mystery novels I was also catching up on the the two best loved comic book characters ever.(TinTin and Asterix) Captain Haddock especially was one of my most favorite characters.
However (with the advent of the rat race) the only stuff that I ended up reading in later years were my trigonometry and physics textbooks. I caught up later onto Clive Cussler,John Grisham,Ayan Rand,Mario Puzo. One of the books which really got me though was the entire LOTR trilogy. Tolkien had created a masterpiece which did require some amount of perseverance to go through.(it's a pretty fat tome.) Since then it has remained on my reading list for a pretty long time and will probably stay on top of it too.
A lot of people have asked me to but I haven't read any of the Potter books though. Maybe I will try them out someday. There is another book that I need to mention over here 'Shantaram' by Gregory David Roberts. Now that was a superb book. I tried out Maximum City by Suketu Mehta as well but liked Shantaram a lot better for the entire portrayal of the city of Mumbai.
There is a movie reportedly in production based on Shantaram with Johnny Depp essaying the lead role. I just hope that they do the character justice and don't end up screwing the whole idea behind the book (i.e. Mumbai)
Social networking is also one of the most popular systems behind the whole concept of the 'arranged' marriage in India. In the 90's it was still in its nascent stage,but today with the advent of the internet it has taken off in a BIG way.
Orkut is one of the most favored sites among the several contenders for the title of the best social network website. I was a late entrant to orkut and was sent an invite by someone who probably couldn't stand to see me absolutely ignorant about the most 'happening' activity around. But I have to admit that it did get me hooked immediately.
Orkut also helped in a big way when I was leaving India for my MS.Meetings could be fixed up easily now(Am sure members of the group UMR Fall 2006 will testify for this.) Also it helped to get in touch with people when I moved recently to Texas.
But then there are vices as well of this service. Most countries in the middle east have blocked orkut and other sites. Consequently people found a way around them by utilizing proxy servers. But the tug of war between censorship and the people is still on.
But orkut is just the tip of the iceberg. I have been getting invites to numerous sites now. During my days in Rolla I had created an account on facebook as well, but hardly ever used it as most friends in India were mainly on orkut and facebook was primarily an american campus thing.
I began to use facebook now again and hope that it is one the last services I sign up for. Getting in touch with friends is fine but the pain is later keeping track of them. Slowly it starts affecting a major part of a person's lifestyle as well. I know people who have made and deleted their orkut accounts several times just because it was turning out to be too much of a hassle and addicting as well.
On a closing note,I have around 400+ odd friends on my orkut friend list and I have been asked by people if I stand at a busy traffic junction the whole day and talk (scrap) with anyone who stops by.
The trip was excellent overall and also because I met an old friend in Chicago from my days in Engg in Mumbai.We had a great time at Devon Avenue
I made my second trip to Chicago during Thanksgiving 07. Now I made this trip to meet an old friend from Mumbai again. Gerry gave me a ride from Rolla - St.Louis following which I took the Amtrak to Chicago Union Station.Chicago this time gave me a proper feel of the place. With just the map provided by the CTA I could comfortably navigate the city at my own pace.
In spite of the chill in the air, looking from Navy Pier for a view of the amazing skyline felt great.Devon Avenue as usual is always a stop over for any desi who is visiting Chicago to sample the fares of this place. Millenium Park was fun especially the 'bean'.
Since there is the facility of the fun pass which allowed you to use an unlimited number of rides on the CTA(bus,train) we usually made our way to Loyola and then Devon for several breaks :)
I wasn't all enthu about the prospect of leaving Chicago back for Rolla, but I made my way to Sameer's place in Aurora. He was coming back to St.Louis with his mom and after a hearty lunch at his place we made our way to St.Louis from where a very very patient Devdutt got me back to Rolla.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Cuisine has been really good over here. Desis seem to have pretty much displaced the notion of a Texas Cowboy. Rather it is the time of the Desi Infotekker than the Texas Cowboy. With several corporate giants in the vicinity it comes as no surprise when I can search on google maps for Indian restaurants and come up with results of 10+ joints within a radius of a couple of miles.
Also a BIG factor for desis to have adopted Texas in such way is because Texas is a tax free state.(You just pay Federal over here and not Local.)
On Fri/Sat Night most parking lots in happening nightspots are filled with Hondas,Toyotas and the occasional Nissan,Mitsubishi.Richardson is a suburb which is home to UTD. The shopping complex nearby seems to house only desi shops(names like Bombay Chinese,Zyka,Taj Mahal Imports etc.)
Overall it's been great over here. And also more importantly than any other factor.People are nice too...:)
I made the trip on the MSRTC(Maharashtra State Road Transport Corp.) bus service totally. (I had opted to stay out of the whole VOLVO,luxury bus thing).My theory is that seeing a new place doesn't mean seeing it from a bird's eye point of view because then you hardly remember any of it.Rather if you want to make your trip then do it the way with the common locals. Eat the food they eat,stay where they stay, and speak their language.(I had no issues with any of the conditions.)
The culture of a new place is made by the people inhabiting it rather than the buildings,architecture associated with it.I met some fantastic people along the route and ate some really great food (authentic maharashtrian fare).
The route from Mumbai - Aurangabad was rather uneventful. However while on my way from Aurangabad to Nagpur. I was stranded for quite sometime as all the buses were running to capacity and I barely managed to grab a seat on a broken down vehicle. But since I was totally exhausted, I couldn't care less and dozed off immediately.
My fellow passengers were mostly just local families who were traveling to other places on the route and I was going the furthest to Nagpur. I did manage to strike a conversation with a few guys like myself. We ended up discussing on general topics like the state of India's politics or the some bollywood movie running at that time.
After reaching Nagpur finally it was quite a relief to have completed the whole trip. I mean with my flying date to the US barely a month away most people wouldn't have taken the trip (man..if I get sick m gonna get screwed etc. etc.)
Personally am glad I did make the trip. Yes,I did endure the heat(Nagpur during summer is BLAZING) n also run the risk of falling ill in the whole process. But it was an excellent experience on the whole.
It started out big with the Linux kernel. Soon slowly big corporations embraced it.It did take time for Linux to be accepted by the mainstream consumer (I am typing this on WinXP though, however I did have an installation of Fedora Core 2 earlier).
Open Source doesn't just mean however making the code of a piece of software public.It could mean making 'anything' public. (Anything over here refers to the creative juice that has been used for product development.)
When the whole Mp3 revolution came around most people just thought of it as just another fad that would pass over .(Thanks to the Ipod now though it has become a way of life for most of us). If anyone would recall the mp3 file sharing service 'Napster' controversy with one the biggest bands, Metallica. It just goes to show another situation of open source in use. (i.e. Creativity vs Making Profit from it)
Personally I think that if it wasn't for open source it would only serve one purpose.(Make the rich, richer while keep the poor in the dark). For eg. How many kids in India in the 90's would actually go out n buy a Metallica Audio CD.(and I don't mean buying pirated stuff here)
Just another case of the big evil corporations having their monopolistic way.
"DON'T BE EVIL" is the idea on which one of the most successful corporations today(Google) has been built. (Keeping products free while earning from other corporations advertising on their products works well.) I mean if there was an ad on a cab which promoted a tobacco product, but if that cab was giving the ride for free, people would still take the cab as it remains a choice whether to accept the product or not.Google is based on the idea though of "Don't be evil" and NOT "Knowledge is Power". The difference lies in the fact that the usage of the product is free for the consumer but the creativity behind the product is not.(eg. The source code for Google Search will never be made available however consumers are free to USE the search engine as much as they want and in whichever way they want.)
The conflict seems never ending though for now with all parts of the corporate world taking sides with some compromises being slowly made by both parties. Google for now though has reached a rather innovative way out from this conflict.(Good for us.)
I initially started out on a service recommended by a friend (uspcard.com), later the site closed down and I started using Reliance (like most people do). I was also invited to another service (Stanacard). But I was quite contended with Reliance and so didn't see any point in a switch.
I have now moved to Texas (from Missouri) and some folks recommended the services of VOIP(Voice over IP). Now I absolutely loath the idea of having a headset,mic thingy and talk to India, so I was quite skeptical about the whole idea.
I tried out the VOIP thing though(www.nonoh.net). Being cautious I started out with just an investment of 13$ on the initial talktime .
You just need your cellphone to talk to India over here(Also the party you are talking to at the other end just needs a phone,either cell/landline). The phone is something which is much more common in India still than gtalk,yahoo ids. Also people in India aren't logged in 24*7 to their user accounts like some folks over here I know are ;)
This ultimately meant that I could now talk to India( dirt cheap i.e. 3c/min) and also not feel like a call center employee( bbye Mr.Headset n Mr.Mic) while doing so.
Voice clarity and other details like connectivity etc. were fine. I have used this service for a week now. But of course there is a downside to this. Whoever is doing the calling over here has to initiate the call through the site.
So if you are on the move then I would say you are better of using Reliance,Stanacard etc. But if you are looking for a leisurely long chat then VOIP is the way to go.
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with any VOIP sites, nor am I getting a commission from them. I am just a consumer of this great service.
The blog name "windypulse" has been inspired by Chicago( The windy city), one the best cities I have been to.