The New Year

Another year is past. I've learnt a lot, hurt a lot, laughed a lot but most important, loved a lot. It has been a year spent away from home, away from those I care about. But it has been a year spent maturing, much like fine wine, I hope. :D

I went to a new year's eve party at the DSOI ( Defence Service Officers Institute ) at Delhi with my cousin and friend. It was a tragedy. It was really cold but that was to be expected. It was also suddenly and incredibly, foggy. But that was rather beautiful. No, it wasn't nature that spoiled the party for me but the people there.

There were just too many of them, for one. The place was overcrowded. There were 3 dance floors with a DJ each! And that was just to accommodate the people that dance! Other's like me were just sitting around, chatting and catching up with acquaintances. I was there for the eating. Which was a major let down. There were queues everywhere. First, a queue to get the food coupons. Then a queue to get the food ( which wasn't great either, the stuff I had was just about passable ). Then there was the queue for the drinks. Actually, calling it a queue gives quite the wrong picture of an orderly lining up of decent people. If you saw these guys, you'd think they were giving the stuff for free! People were pushing and yelling to be served first. The counters actually ran out of glasses later in the evening! All we wanted were a couple of juices and they were out of those. Of course, we had to stand in the line for 10 odd minutes to find that out. Why they couldn't have separate counters for the soft and hard drinks is beyond me.

There weren't enough chairs either. We were lucky enough to turn up early and get a good table, near an angeethi. People kept coming to us throughout the evening to ask if they could take the chairs we were keeping. One lady even remarked, on being told that they were occupied, that '...but there's no one sitting there now. You can't reserve them like that...'. Of course we can! We came early and we're keeping seats for the rest of our group! Where are they expected to sit once they turn up? You should've sent someone else early to save you some places!

As midnight approached, more and more folks were inebriated and the empty bottles and glasses that could be found bore the brunt of their joy at welcoming another year. And of course, there were the usual fracas over stupid things.

I hate these parties. And I hadn't ever been for one at this scale so the actual intensity of my hate didn't become apparent till now. The guys who attend are usually idiots. They come to get drunk and hit on girls. They're disgusting. I really can't comment on the girls. Going to one of these quite defeats the purpose of celebration. There is nothing to celebrate. Having to watch all those cretins around you makes you think twice about the condition of the populace in general. And makes me feel more and more depressed about the state of affairs of Life. The Universe. And Everything. All the more reason to be thankful for the day off on the 1st of January.

The only good thing, according to me, to come of these events is that you often bump into old friends that you've lost touch with. This of course, is from an Army function point of view, because small world as it is, it’s even smaller in the Army circle.

So there you have it. My new year did not roll in in a very fun manner. I was fed up of the party. And the parties involved. I just wanted to go home, snuggle into my blanket with a warm mug of soup and watch something fun on laptop.

But I guess, the New Year is only what we make of it. And I hope you and I have an even better year this time.


I just went to Bangkok a couple of weeks ago. As always, the trip abroad put into sharp relief the shortcomings that Indians, as a people, have.

Indians are anxious, boorish, cheats, crude, cunning, dirty, disgusting, greedy, ignorant, ill-mannered, impolite, narrow-minded, noisy, nosy, pretentious, selfish, smelly, uncouth, under-confident, unhealthy, unhygienic and unkempt.

I planned to start this paragraph with a '...But they're also...' and list out all the good qualities but, umm...well...nothing jumps to mind, quite like way that an elephant doesn't jump. Instead, let me say this. At the end of three days away from home, I missed India. Not everything about it. I loved the (relative) order and cleanliness of Bangkok. But I felt a slight homesickness after a while. I guess, come what may, I am an Indian at heart. No matter how much I sniff at its failings and no matter how much I am disgusted by the bureaucracy and politics and government officials, it is my home. It is where I grew up. It is where my family and friends are.

I suppose, in the end, I'm just as bad as they are.

Do The Explore

That is actually the slogan for Samsung's Pleomax line of products! When my dad first got me a pack of CD-R's of that brand, I thought he'd been duped!

This post isn't about the funny, stupid or just plain ridiculous motto's and slogan's. It's about how I figure I like to explore; the thrill of finding new places. Well, not actually by going there, but the thought of them in the comfort of my room is very exciting.

In fact, I think that is one reason why I love the dark. Everything seems new and different. I am currently reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini and I just utterly taken by the idea of wandering on plains that stretch as far as the eye can see, with no one around. Hills that rise in the distance, at the horizon. Lone journeys where no one else is there. I guess there is an element of privacy involved. You could do whatever you wanted to, and no one would ever know. Of course, in my visions, its not all featureless plains. It's more of a journey towards them, flanked by rolling hills on the left and forests of bramble on the right.

But it's not just that. I like the ( science-ficition-ish ) idea of mammoths of engineering like a colossal spaceship or enormous tunnels underlying cities. The prospects of discovery of nooks and crannies that they present are innumerable.

Have you watched Pixar's Cars yet? It's a very good movie, worth a watch. I especially loved the vistas of the Grand Canyon like ravines and mesas. The views from atop a hill, looking down upon the valley, immense distances on all sides. Very appealing.

I've always found The Age of Empires, the Age of Mythology, and countless other clones, very fascinating. The idea of controlling all those little people, watching over all that land at one time, being able to see in all directions at once makes it remarkable for me. I don't like the game as such, I'm terrible at strategy. But I love watching all those little creatures go about their work, wandering all over the land.

Of course, like I mentioned, I'd probably not enjoy it so much if I was out there on my own. But as an observer ( from a slight height, I might add ) I just love it. One more reason why I thought The Lord of the Rings trilogy was so cool, what with all those shots of them riding those panoramic plains. Absolutely awesome!


I'm addicted to the Internet. I just can't do without it anymore. I need to check my mail and Orkut scraps daily. There are contests that need entering. And of course utilities, songs and videos to download. And when all that is done, there is so much to explore and discover.

I use the net for everything nowadays. And I *can* use it for pretty much everything. I had to find out the numbers of KFC and McDonalds near where I live. So I Google'd the keywords, found the sites, went to the appropriate city page, and voila! There I had it, all the contact numbers. I downloaded the menu for Pizza Corner from their site. I didn't need to ask anyone for any of those things. And that's the way I like it. :D

Whenever I need to find out about a movie or some application or form to fill or symptoms of a disease or details of anything, the first thing I do it get online. More often than not, I find what I'm looking for. Only as a last resort do I go and ask someone for help.

Of course, it doesn’t help my social skills any. But I'd rather deal with search engine results rather than actual people any day. However, not all sources on the Internet are reliable. It's always better to check out the credentials of the contributor.

Oh, and if I wasn't addicted, you wouldn't be reading this now :D


"Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to
- Arthur Schopenhauer ( 1788 - 1860 )
I wish. But it seems human nature is less prone to melting than wax. In fact, rather than making people help you, it seems to be taken as an indication of weakness. It is really difficult to get anything done if you insist on being polite. People take you for a push-over. Someone who can be easily swindled.

I'm not street-smart. Far from it. I always wait patiently at the grocer’s or at banks or wherever else a queue forms with me as a member. I never push my way to the front. I never protest when people push and shove. Though I think it may be attributed more to my lack of aggression ( and maybe a spine :( ). I always feel that isn't worth losing your dignity for. I'd prefer waiting and not getting rather than jumping into the fray and fighting to be amongst the first few to collect. And of course, that often leaves me without. It really irritates me, but I get over it. Though I do believe it would be different ( I hope ) if I was ever unlucky enough to be waiting in line for some sort of handouts for me and my family.

Bombay was ranked as the least polite and helpful city in the world in this year's survey by Reader's Digest. Delhi was much higher up in the list. I haven't lived in Bombay. But if the survey is true, I guess it would be since the extremely large portion of humanity that inhabits the city is so caught up in the struggle of day to day life and under pressure to make ends meet that it can't give much thought to anyone else's troubles.

I'm staying in Delhi now. People here are supposed to be really helpful. I don't know about that. It doesn't seem that much different from home ( read Pune ) to me. People are cordial enough. Though I suspect the belief stems from the populace's rather intrusive interest in everything. They have this need to know exactly what is going on. People will drop what they're doing, stop on their way to work, if they spot something interesting going on. They are ready participants in whatever debate or fracas happens to be in progress. Other folks may like the attention given to their cause but I happen to be very uncomfortable with it. I like my privacy. A lot. I don't want everyone to know about what is going with my life. What you call helpful I call invasion of privacy.

Like with everything else, I guess, moderation is the key. You should be polite, but back it up with some firmness. If you're not getting your rights, do away with the graciousness and niceties and get down to brass tacks.


In India, broadband is defined as anything over 256kbps. ( By the way, you do realise that that is kilobits per second? Not kilobytes per second which is written as kBps. So 256kbps would be 32kBps. Just something you should consider. ) But even if you're willing to shell out hard cash, there really aren't that many options. Though it has been getting cheaper.

I'd got my first Internet connection in August of 2004. It was a 32kbps dial-up. In 4 months we switched over to a Sify broadband connection of 256kbps. I now have an Airtel broadband connection of 512kbps ( at night ) and it costs me much lesser than what I was paying earlier. And it is a pretty good connection. I've had no problems so far and the speeds are really good.

I'm now drooling at the news that the government plans to increase the speeds of the plans next year. MTNL and BSNL will be announcing the details, independently, in a few weeks. Of course, the private players too should follow suit soon. Though I'm sure it'll be a long way off from the 1 Mbps connections with dedicated 512kbps upload links in the US that I keep reading about, enviously, I might add, on forums on the net. But still, you can never have enough bandwidth. Even it increases just a bit, it's a step in the right direction right?

More bandwidth to the people!

Police II

On Wednesday morning, in Howrah, a newborn died of hunger and cold in a police station as the cops ignored the baby and continued the interrogation of the mother, who had been picked up the previous evening for bearing a child out of wedlock.

The 21 year old mother, Soma Giri, is mentally challenged. Her mother who accompanied the four year old girl and Soma to the police station said, 'The baby needed to be nursed. As the temperature dipped, she shivered violently. There were no warm clothes. We promised to return in the morning but the police just wouldn't listen. Sometime close to dawn, the baby slipped into a deep sleep. It was only later that we realised it was death.'

Reading these lines over and over makes my skin crawl. There's a lump in my throat as I imagine the poor baby and her mother. The inhumanity of the situation! What kind of heinous, disgusting excuses for men would let something like this happen? The sheer helplessness of someone in a situation like this is just so pitiful. I can just see myself in her shoes. There is just nothing you can do against authority like that. Nothing as a lone individual. Society as a whole must do something about this. But it's so easy to pass on the responsibility to other people. I wonder what I would do; what I should do. I don't think I have the guts to face up to someone like that. Though, maybe, the utter desperation of the situation may push me enough to take some action.

I wouldn’t condemn public lynching of these men ( if you can call the monsters that). I know it's a blanket punishment. I know it's a step back to the dark ages. I know that taking the law into our own hands doesn't help anything. I know that these people probably have families that need them and love them. But as I read the paragraphs again, all I comprehend is that thanks to them, an innocent child died. Her mother is in anguish. Yes, I'd probably condone the lynching.

( Based on the article "Newborn dies as cops grill mother" by Saibal Gupta from the Times of India, New Delhi edition, dated 1st December 2006 )