So What If Albus Dumbledore Is Gay?

Ever since J K Rowling announced that Albus Dumbledore was gay, there's been a furore. Some people hate the fact and some people love it. I say accept the fact and move on. It is a damned fine set of books and, if you'll pardon the pun, a spellbinding series of tales, read it as that if you want to, re-examine the stories in the light of this new fact if you must. Why the controversy? Did anyone have a problem with Hagrid? Being half-man and half-giant as he is? Did that cause anyone to raise moral and ethical concerns over the issue of half-breeds?

People put forth that it's a publicity stunt. Well, duh! She's got to make money off the sales of her books, that's how she makes a living. Now that the series is over, it's going to drop out of public view and she would obviously like it not to. And why shouldn't she flesh out the back stories only hinted at in the books? Why should the magic of the series end with just these books?

There was an article in the newspaper today about this and how schools were discouraging students from issuing the books and parents were forbidding their children from reading them. Why? What's wrong with a central character in a popular book being gay? It's a fact of life: some people are homosexual. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away. Your kids are going to have to learn about it sometime. And with the reach that the media has nowadays and the exposure kids have, chances are they already know. Is the aim to protect children against people who are different? What about differences in colour of someone's hair? The colour of their skin? The colour of their eyes? What about the fact that some people don't like chocolate? Should the kids be shielded from this horrible fact lest it do them irrevocable psychological harm? Are they going to stop the kids from reading The Chronicles Of Narnia next? Those stories are criticized for racism and sexism amongst other things. And what about Enid Blyton stories that have golliwogs in them? Those are thought to be politically incorrect too and by this logic, may put racial bias into the minds of young, impressionable children hence should not be given to children to peruse.

I feel that, contrary to what appears to be popular notion, these books give parents a great way to explain to kids about homosexuality and to teach them not to be prejudiced or think of it differently. Don't these people understand that children don't have biases and preconceived notions? They only pick up what they see. If you tell them that they shouldn't be reading these tales they are going to read them behind your back. And they are going to get the idea that being gay is bad and they are going to be prejudiced. Don't pass on your fears and irrationalities on to your children. But if you are biased yourself and don't have the courage to be sensible and do the right thing, then I'm sorry for your children; I think they start out in life with a handicap.

What Were They Thinking?

I’m not quite sure whether this can be attributed to a simple lack of fluency with the language; seems to me it would take a fair bit of mangling of thoughts to come up with this gem. I can’t think of any thing that would be close to what ( I think ) they were trying to say that would translate into this.

Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation Now Officially Accepts Bribes

Here’s something interesting, albeit in a very pathetic way: The Times Of India, Delhi Edition, dated 11 September 2007, reported that the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation now officially accepts bribes.

In case the link breaks, this is what the article said:

GHAZIABAD: If you can't check corruption, institutionalise it. This is the bizarre mantra that the Municipal Corporation of Ghaziabad (MCG) has hit upon.

Believe it or not, MCG is now officially accepting bribes paid through cheques that would otherwise have gone into the pockets of its officials.

Here's an instance of how it works. A contractor who bags a tender for a government project is now required to pay 15 per cent of the quoted amount to MCG. That's the kickback money he would ordinarily have paid to department employees. But now it’s going into the municipality's coffers.

This is the new system being put in place by municipal commissioner Ajay Shankar Pande to "curb corruption as well as enrich the MCG". And, as much as Rs 22 lakh of 'bribe money' has now officially gone into the corporation's account. And this in just two months that Pande has headed the corporation.

Says Pande, "Corruption has gone so deep into the working of government departments that officials cannot dream of handing out work, or payments for it, without taking bribes. So, we have adopted this method of officially taking the bribes, by cheques, into the MCG account."

Interestingly, most contractors have reacted by revealing the exact amounts, usually ranging from 5 per cent to 15 per cent, that they had agreed to pay as bribe. They are signing declarations that they are "voluntarily depositing the amount that would have gone into bribes to realise payments, into the corporation's account. And, this amount should be used by MCG for public welfare projects".

But, asserts Pande, giving this "official bribe" does not absolve any contractor from providing quality work. "Contractors who have earlier done sub-standard work are being given one more chance because it appears that everybody was earlier involved in corruption. They have to repair the shortcomings at their own cost," he adds.

I’m not quite sure if it’s a stupid move or not. After all, if it’s legal, then it can be tracked and accounted for. So, if it does work out, then it’s a good thing and would show that the guy who came up with the plan is a pretty smart fellow and that tough times call for tough measures.

On the other hand, it reflects rather poorly on us; that we’re this incapable of dealing with corruption that we have to shift focus from stopping it to making sure we can at least profit from it.

I figure it’s like telling kids that “stealing chocolates is a no-no; but if you do do it, you’ve to give up half”. So what do kids do? If you said “stop stealing and lead an honest life”, go directly to the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation ( apparently they employ similar thinking folks ), do not pass go, do not collect 200 rupees ( over or under the table ). If you answered, “steal twice the chocolate to make sure their share doesn’t drop”, congratulations. You’re an unfortunate, thinking, rational member of a society that seems to get weirder everyday!

Next they’ll be telling dacoits “…alright, so you can loot and burn trains. But make sure you buy a ticket first!

Update [13 Sep 07]: Here's another post about this on the "Weird India" blog

Nuclear Arms

You can't hug your children with nuclear arms

Alright, so this was spoken by Amy, Death's crush, from Family Guy, Season 3, Episode 6. And it's sardonic. But it still sounds cool :D


I'm not big on birthdays. For me, it's just another day with the same old things to do. Maybe I'll use it as an excuse to pig out, but otherwise, I kinda even dislike the disruption of my routine. I know, I know, I'll age into a bitter old man. But that's just the way I am. It's not like I don't enjoy life or give thanks for what I've got; I just don't pick my birthday as a special day for it. I take joy in the smaller things...which I shall not list for fear of being labelled a geek! I just don't think birthdays are a big deal.

But my friends and family think otherwise and in spite of my reluctance, they do their best to make it special for me ( which I appreciate but only after a while; after I give up my attitude better suited to a hermit )

So here's some links to what some nice folks had to say to me on this day:

There were others too, friends from school and college, who called and scrapped me on Orkut. Thanks guys.

And last, but not least, a big thanks and a hug to that special person for sending me a scrumptious chocolate cake ( even though I was less than gracious while accepting it; I'm sorry, I was a jerk ).

...Bienvenue 5300

A few days before my Nokia 3120 gave up, I'd been looking into phones because my family had been pestering me to get a 'better' phone, considering the condition the 3120 was in. So when it did die, I wasn't completely unprepared to buy.

I didn't want to spend too much on a device I'd primarily use to make calls. But if I was going to spend and get a phone, I'd want at least some features. The principal features I was looking for were connectivity via Bluetooth and USB and a music player. Secondary were camera, radio and connectivity via IR and whatever else would come as part of the package. And I didn't need any of these to be top of the line. I was happy with a 1 megapixel camera rather than shell out for a 3 megapixel one that I wouldn't really use.

Now, I'm partial to Nokia phones. I think they've the best, most intuitive interfaces around. And most of them are very well built and the standard features are well thought out. Plus, I've been using Nokia PC Suite for years now and I think it has all basic features I'd need or want to put stuff on my phone. It's bulky but it works. Also, I wanted to be able to access my SMSs and contacts on the phone and save them on my computer. As far as I know, most other phones don't let you into the phone memory even if you can connect them to your machine.

So I finally settled on the Nokia 5300. It's price was short of the upper limit on my budget and it had a music player, FM radio, 1.3 megapixel camera and a mini USB port, Bluetooth and IR! Everything I wanted.

It's a little flimsy, the body is plastic. It's a far cry from the solid feel of my 3120. And the screen's supposed to be problematic. And the battery doesn't last very long. And the camera's image quality is not great. But so what? I'll be careful with it. And I'll carry my charger with me. And I've got a Sony digital camera anyway, so I won't be using this much. ( Who am I trying to convince again? )

All in all, it's great for me; just what I need, in the price range I can afford, with features and looks that I like. Let's see how this one works out.

Adieu 3120...

I'd got my first mobile phone in 2003; a cousin of mine was getting rid of it. When I got it, it had a cracked screen and a loose cover. But it was reason for me to get a number and those surface imperfections were easily fixed.

The phone was the Nokia 3120, apparently no longer in production. A Series 40 phone with CLDC 1.0 and MIDP 1.0 support, it was just what I needed. It had GPRS and support for MIDI files as ringtones and JPEG and GIF image support as well. I later got a DKU-5 data cable and used it a lot, putting wallpapers and ringtones on the phone and more recently, for upgrading my Java skills to include the basics of J2ME.

It was one solid piece of engineering; I must've dropped it a hundred times and it never gave. Light and durable, it gave me over five and a half years of service. But lately, it'd been acting up a bit; it wouldn't charge properly and there were problems accessing it via Nokia PC Suite. It appears the firmware was corrupted to some extent.

Last Friday, the keypad inexplicably stopped working. And it wasn't mechanical failure, because when I restarted the device, the keys would work again but stop after a while. All except for '5'. And then even that stopped. So I knew, as much as I'd been avoiding it, it was time to get a new phone.

Google Labs India

On 15th August, India’s Independence Day, Google had hinted it had something up it’s sleeves. Today Google’s announced Google Labs India, developing features and tools to provide a platform to work with Indian and South Asian languages for searching for content. Pretty neat.

Also, the Hindi transliteration feature on Blogger has now gone a step further and is now a completely independent tool and iGoogle gadget.

Awesome stuff coming from Google and loads more expected!


So. Who do I have to sue for making me spill the 'extremely hot drink I was about to enjoy', all over my lap in an attempt to read the warning?

Seriously, which genius had the flash of inspiration to slap the cautionary statement sideways?


This is my hundredth post on this blog and coincidentally, it's exactly one year since my first post. And what a year it's been! I've come a long way; from one blog and no readers, to 2 blogs, a domain name, a website and no readers! How things have changed! I've learnt much ( a fair bit of it the hard way ) and I've done much and met some very interesting people through their blogs.

And the more blogs I visit, the more I realize that my posts read like a series of essays! I can't help it though. You can blame the board exams for instilling the skill of creating an introduction, body and conclusion for virtually any subject and embedding the habit so deeply that now I'm unable to turn out anything else except for dry, straight-to-the-point articles.

And from the label count, it seems that a majority of them are about me ( Hey! You say self-obsessed, I say introspective ), but isn't that one of the many purposes of a blog? To help you sort out your thoughts and get to know yourself better? That was my intention when I started out, anyway.

I'm considering posting on short, random topics from now on. Stuff that comes into my head but about which I don't necessarily have much to say. Let's see how that works out. See you at the bicentennial post


Someone really needs to get working on a better, more ubiquitious method of authentication or at least some way of integrating existing online username/password combinations!

At last count I had:

1 Hotmail Id
1 Rediffmail Id

1 GoDaddy Id
1 hi5 Id
1 Hungama Id
1 SXC Id
1 Twitter Id

and about 10 or so assorted Ids for site's that I don't visit as frequently. Luckily, Google owns Blogger, YouTube, Picassa, AdSense, Webmaster Tools and Orkut, so that gives me 6 more sites with the same Google accounts that I use for GMail. Feedburner has also been bought by them so I'm expecting a switch to Google accounts there too.

And then there are the 'real world' Ids/passcodes I need to remember.

2 Debit Card PINs
1 Credit Card PIN
1 Mobile phone PIN
1 Mobile phone PUK
1 Mobile phone PIN2
1 Mobile phone PUK2
1 PIN to the control deck of the Death Star ( Alright so I don't have this one. What? Yes! It is real! )

How can anyone be expected to remember all of these? I'm managing fairly well right now, but I foresee the coming of the dreaded age of forgetfulness someday. And unless Google takes over everything by then, I'm afraid I'm going to have to start writing down sensitive information like this!

PS: I did try to make a simple application to encrypt and save my passwords. It uses a simple substitution algorithm so it's not very good, but it's a shade better than writing stuff down in plain text!

PPS: Quite a few people seem to be working on image based passwords; but nothing seems to ready for widespread use right now.

Shameless Self-Promotion

This is a picture of the top of a carton of Godrej Sofit soy milk. Wonder how effective this strategy has been. Maybe they should've added '...or else!' for more impact!


My mom often says, "Do whatever you want to; just be the best at it". I feel like I'm failing miserably. There's nothing that I've ever done that could possibly pass off for being the best, or even just simply, good. I'm just another one of millions; no claim to fame, nothing to show for my years in the world, nothing to be proud of, nothing to leave behind.

Mona and Charles and some others seem to think I'm pretty smart. While that certainly bolsters the 'spirit' ( as Mona prefers to call it ), it still is far from the truth. Maybe I'm a little smarter than a fair number of the population, but my rare 'flashes of brilliance' fade fast and are indistinguishable in the ambient illumination from the masses. Nothing makes me stand out if you take a step back and gaze at the hoi polloi.

A jack of all trades and master of none is a pretty apt description of what I am. I've dabbled in so many things, but I can't claim to know anything through and through. It may be because I burn myself out in the beginning by trying to learn all that I can; I read up on everything I can get my hands on, trying to get an overview first and get into the details later. Of course, when the time comes to actually read up on the nitty-gritty’s, I've either moved past the whole thing or I don't have the time/ inclination, having overdone it at the start.

Just for once, I wish I could do something, to prove correct those who believe in me and to shove in the faces of those who don't.

Status Messages On Mobiles?

How about being able to set a status message for your mobile number? Wouldn't that be cool? Not to mention useful! Instead of stupid 'Caller Tunes' you could actually play a useful, informative message for your callers.

If you're at a meeting, you could activate the service and record a message for people who try to call you while you're busy, informing them of what you're doing and how long you'd be unavailable!

And you could potentially customize your 'Out Of Coverage Area' and 'Phone Switched Off' messages too. If you know you're going to a place where there is no network, you could let your callers know where you're going and how long you expect to stay there. Ditto for when you know you're going to turn off your phone.

I'd love to be able to make an app to do this but unfortunately, as far I can see, this something that will have to be implemented by the providers.

Background Music

Maybe it's because I've been watching too many movies, but I keep expecting and wising for some sort of background score to accompany my doings throughout the day.

Wouldn't it be great though? Imagine striding into a boardroom meeting to the Imperial March! That would certainly make people more accepting of your ideas!

Or consider the possibility of being aware of your boss lurking around because you can hear the 'dum-dum dum-dum' from Jaws!

The music would also be a great way for people to know how you're feeling at the moment; happy, sad, filled with great expectations. This does have actual possibilities though. Maybe with time, we'd have progressed far enough with AI algorithms for music to have personal devices that can be set to randomly generate music based on a particular mood, soundtrack-style.

Of course, the problem with brilliant ideas, like this one, is that they're short-sighted and never factor in all the other people. With everyone playing out their own theme, it'd just lead to cacophony.


It poured like crazy on Sunday. The day started off sunny ( ugh! ) and sultry but clouds started collecting by mid-morning and after lunch, there was that wonderful, surreal light that precedes a really satisfying thunderstorm.

Wonderful and satisfying if you're safe and protected from the elements that is. I find it very comforting to be safely indoors, watching the rains lashing outside; warm and cosy and out of reach of the storm. It makes me feel invulnerable and all-powerful.

It's the same when I'm outside but protected by a water-proof windcheater and I can feel the raindrops whipping at me with the wind but to no effect. With a full-length jacket, I feel absolutely untouchable. In fact, contradictory to appearances, it's rather liberating, being able to walk where you want and stay out for as long as you want without, defying the weather.

Of course, after a while, the cold starts to get to you and the parts of you that are exposed, beg to return to the warmth of home. After a tempest, hot coffee is wonderful and satisfying in an entirely different way.


Recently, I discovered Twitter; it's yet another social networking site. But this one is pretty different. For one, it doesn't expect any commitment from you! You don't have to be a part of a community or group. All you do, is post what you're doing at the moment, in 140 characters or less, from your cellphone, IM or on the Web and that becomes your current status. Your friends will see your status along with how long ago you posted it along with others in their friends list.

Why do I like it? Well, it has the potential for saving you the trouble of having to explain what you've been doing for the past week/ month/ year when you meet someone who you haven't been in constant touch with. It's easier to follow what your friends are doing in their lives that have inexorably diverged from yours as time passes. You get this wireframe of an idea of how they're spending their time. It would make it so much easier to catch up when you do meet up.

Of course, you and your friends would need to be on the site and doing this regularly. Unfortunately for me, none of my friends seem to find this appealing enough to sign up. They claim to have enough accounts as it is and don't want to try it out. Sad.

Well, I spent the last two weeks making Tweeter!, a Java client for Twitter because I hated having to leave my browser open to be able to post. Initially, I tried out Twitteroo, a pretty popular app, but it didn't work for me. At work, I connect through a proxy and Twitteroo does not support using proxies as of this writing. At home, I don't have enough space to install the latest Microsoft .Net framework and I can't be bothered to clean out my hard disk right now. Once I discovered the excellent jTwitter API from ThinkTank, I decided to build my own; both for use later as well as a hobby app to teach myself Swing.

It's been done for a couple of days and it seems to have turned out fine. You can download it here. If you do use it, consider letting me know what you think at; I'd love to hear from you. If you don't like it, you can always try out other Twitter apps like Twitteroo ( Windows only ) or Twitterrific ( Mac only ). You can follow me on Twitter at

Why I Didn't Vote For The Taj Mahal

For the past few weeks I've been getting a lot of mail exhorting me to vote for the Taj Mahal as a contender for the New Seven Wonders Of The World as 'a matter of national pride'. While that in itself is more than enough to discourage me from voting and following the crowd but actually, there are more compelling reasons.

The N7W are being voted for from a list drawn up by a Swiss corporation, the New Open World Corporation which initially had 177 monuments and was later whittled down to 20. Now, what gets me about this is
  • The corporation is a for-profit organization

  • It is not associated in anyway with any public organization like the UNESCO

  • The organization reserves the right to exclude any vote cast

  • There are votes for sale!
Why would any thinking individual consider the featuring of one of their nation's monuments on this list a victory and a matter of pride? The list is arbitrary. It is known only to the Internet-savvy; the general population of the world has no idea about it and probably, no access to the means to be able to vote.

If you can buy votes, I think that completely defeats the purpose of voting. Would you consider an election of a politician to be a people's choice is someone could pay to win? ( The fact that this usually does happen is besides the point )

Then there is the fact that any one person could vote multiple times. In fact, two friends I asked claimed to have voted 5 and 6 times respectively. With Indians leading the world population with a massive one billion, if even a fraction of a population this large votes, it would be enough to tilt the balance in favour of the Taj. The final list seems to be getting further and further from being a people's choice.

Apart from the unfairness of the process, there are other reasons for me to not vote. Why should I feel proud about having the Taj feature on a list drawn up by someone? Is it not enough that the monument exists? Can I not be proud of the fact that it is Indian? Why should recognition by anyone, much less a for-profit organization be reason for pride? Though I don't think there is much to be, proud of considering the state it is in. It's presence on the list will not make people refrain from littering the grounds. It will not make the government and industrialists relocate the factories to decrease the pollution that the Taj is exposed to.

And the clincher is that in the end, none of this is going to help any of the monuments; the proceeds do not go toward their preservation. The New Open World Corp. happily pockets the money from selling votes and merchandise; the people bask in the glory and increased national pride of having placed their monuments in a virtual list that has no bearing on anything at all; and the Taj Mahal continues to disintegrate and decay.


We were being distributed Sodexho meal vouchers today and as usual there was a pretty long queue. The room is right at the start of a long corridor, next to the entrance of the corridor. The line snaked out from the room and was continually being added to by people who were stepping in through the corridor's entry and so kept growing longer till it was half inside the corridor and half outside.

This wouldn't be such a problem if it wasn't compounded by the fact that the door wouldn't stay open and the ones at the entrance had to hold it in place. The situation was further worsened since the people who had collected their vouchers had to pass out through the same door.

The situation could have been easily improved by queuing up in the opposite direction i.e. towards the other end of the corridor which was pretty distant. I suggested this to the people ahead of me and got the response, 'Oh sure! You go ahead and queue up that way! We'll stand right here! Ha-ha!' O..k. And this helps matters how? Are you stupid? Are you mentally challenged? Are you actually something that looks human but has the intelligence slightly lower than a lump of mud?

Anyway, I did just that. I stepped out of the line and went and stood on the other side. More snickering. 'So you're out of the queue now?' No, you stupid consumer of precious oxygen that would have been put to better use even if only by supporting combustion somewhere, I'm still in the queue. Only, you in your infinite stubborn idiocy refuse to help improve things by thinking a little differently.

How can people be so stupid? Would it hurt anyone to stand that way? Would they get their vouchers any sooner by cramping themselves and contorting into weird postures so they could be either in or out but not bang in the middle of the doorway? Would it be too much to ask to queue up in an orderly way and wait for their turn which is going to come anyway? Maybe it's because we have to struggle for everything everywhere, fight for what should be ours by right. But these are computer professionals ( ostensibly ); they are supposed to be intelligent and be able to think along different directions and come up with efficient solutions to problems. Not behave like brain-dead zombies shuffling along aimlessly towards the point of distribution, blindly following the person ahead of them.

That's another thing I hate: when people shuffle about in a queue; taking little steps and moving ahead half a centimeter at a time. And if you happen to be the ( rare ) person who actually does more with his/ her brain than generate heat, and you hold your ground until such a time when the distance between you and the person ahead of you is actually enough to justify taking a step forward; you will soon find yourself being elbowed and poked in the back and sometimes, literally being stepped into, by the jerk behind you, whose sole function in life seems to be nothing more than to consume food and produce fertilizer ( and, if you're unlucky enough, a rather pungent body odour that they do their best to bring to your notice by holding their arms up right beside your face ). If only they'd use that "drive" for something more constructive. If only they'd pay attention and realize that there is simply nothing to be gained from this behaviour; it doesn't help them, it doesn't help others, ahead or behind them. It doesn't make the line move faster and it doesn't get them more of whatever it is that is being distributed. It simply serves to irritate the hell out of everyone.

It reminds me of this story I'd read once, about a fly that gets trapped in a room. It spots a window and tries to fly out but the window was closed and it keeps smashing against the glass but that doesn't deter it. With heroic obstinacy and stubbornness and self-will, it keeps at it. Until it succumbs to its injuries. It was so focussed on getting out that it didn't notice that right next to that window that was tightly shut, was an open door with freedom beyond. I wonder how many of these dribbling fools will ever notice the door.

Power Cuts

After a couple of weeks of pleasant weather it's been getting quite warm here again. And to add to the suffering, there are frequent power cuts and low water pressure. Usually it doesn't matter much to me since I'm at office all day in air-conditioned comfort and by the time I'm back home, it's dark.

But today, a Sunday, was quite bad. The humidity's been on a rise and that makes the heat oppressive; the cooler's pretty much ineffective. Not that I had much opportunity to use it, given the length and frequency of power cuts.

The day started off with me waking up sweating since there was no electricity. Alright, fine. It was expected, kind of. So I decided to go about and finish off my chores and wait for it to be back. It did come back, after 5 hours, for about a minute! Then it was gone again, leaving me all the worse off after experiencing the somatic and psychological relief of the fan circulating some air in the room. It came back a while later but this was followed by yet another 2 hour power cut!

I'm seriously considering keeping a sleeping bag in my cubicle at work and gradually moving all my essential stuff over. I'd have an AC, a net connection and most importantly, uninterrupted power to run all that! What else could I want?

Segregation Of The Sexes

Two co-ed Mumbai schools, Vibgyor School and Jamnabai Nursery School have banned girls and boys from touching or hugging members of the opposite sex in school premises ( June 14th, 2007 )in order to 'discipline' students who, according to the school authorities, are exposed to and easily influenced by violence and vulgarity on TV and other media. I really don't see how this helps.

Why remain co-ed if you're going to segregate the students? And more importantly, how does this serve any purpose? The kids are going to find ways to meet and have 'physical contact' outside of school anyway. The whole point of having co-eds is to bring up the children in healthy, natural environment; to have them learn how to interact and behave with opposite sex. It's not like when they get out of school ( or even while in school ) they're going to be able to avoid contact with members of the other gender.

It's no wonder our society turns out twisted, perverted males whose perception of women is shaped by the way they are portrayed on television and other media. What stops them from seeing them, not as individuals and equals, but as objects of desire and weaker beings to be exploited and abused? By stopping healthy interaction, aren't they stopping the learning process? You only have to login to a networking site like Orkut to see how totally desperate guys are to 'have friendship' [sic] with random girls and how they seem to emulate what they watch in movies; singing out songs in classes in a completely misguided attempt to woo girls. Listen to the talk in a boys' hostel and you'd have a fair idea what most males in the country think on the subject of women.

And women don't fare much better either. Many young girls seem almost physically uncomfortable in the presence of boys. They don't want to talk to them and certainly don't want any physical contact; not even, say, handing over a pen. And perhaps, it makes them more susceptible to being submissive and to tolerating abuse when they should stand up for themselves. They end up having weird ideas about life too. When I joined my company, we went through a little induction programme, as a part of which, we had to make a little presentation on any topic of our choice.

This young lady, fresh out of college with an engineering degree, dressed fashionably, speaking fairly well, spoke about 'The Requirement For Polygamy And Why It Should Be Legal'. More, allowing a man to have many wives ( technically, this is polygyny ). Now, I have no problems with polygamy if all the involved parties are fine with it ( assuming of course, polyandry is given equal importance ). But the reasons she came up with were a little disturbing, to say the least. She said that if a man were to remain unmarried, everything was fine and dandy. But if a woman were to be without a spouse, her life was a failure. And since there weren't enough men to go around, multiple wives who would share a husband was the only answer.

Really? This girl was at the threshold of her career, educated to a graduate level, placed with an MNC, and her views on the requirement of marriage were, medieval at best. If this isn't a clear example of how denying healthy childhood interaction between the sexes and filling up children's heads with nonsense distorts the youth's perception, then I don't know what is.

By banning physical contact on the premises, the school isn't stopping them from knowing about much more than just holding hands. Everything is now readily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. And children are much better with computers than most adults are anyway.

And finally, how long has it been since these people were kids themselves? Don't they remember anything? Since when did children start doing what the adults told them? Isn't adolescence the age of rebellion and defiance? Just the opportunity to break the rules will be reason enough.

Posts on other blogs:

I own it! The it in question being the domain name ''. I bought it yesterday and I've been fooling around with ever since. It's made me aware of a whole new dimension to the Internet. I'm still in the process of setting stuff up and so I guess I'll be a little busy for a while...which means no long, drawn-out posts :D

I have managed to publish both my blogs to custom domains using the feature offered by Blogger. There will be a few hiccups though; notably with images loading. I've also noticed that if you type in the blog's original, blogspot name with a 'www.' prefixed, it doesn't redirect to the custom domain.

Also, the blogs may simply not be available as the propagation of the changes across the DNS over the Internet takes some time; most sites I've seen say 24-48 hours, a couple stated up to 72 hours. Though I've already checked that a few people can already access these, it may still take sometime. Actually, if you're reading this, it's already happened; and if you weren't, well, then you wouldn't have known what was happening. :D

I think this post is getting close enough to being drawn-out now; and my domain settings beckon!


There's been a heat wave here in Northern India for the past week or so. It's been bad. Really bad. The maximum temperature recorded at Delhi on Saturday at 45 °C almost broke the June 1945 record of 46.7 °C. It was predicted that Sunday would be worse at around 46 deg. Some weather sites even predicted a maximum of 48 °C! Thankfully, that didn't come to pass and the temperatures seem to have stabilized now.

If you haven't been in these temperatures, then it's hard to imagine how bad it can. The heat just saps you of all energy. You’re drenched with sweat all day. It's too hot to even eat. You just don't feel like doing anything at all but sleep isn't an option because the touch of the warm sheets makes you feel even worse. Even a bath brings no relief; the water at 0600 in the morning felt as though it had been heated.

With such high temperatures, it's hard to imagine why anyone who has access to an AC and a fridge would not make full use of it. I imagine one would be hard-pressed to make them see the importance of saving power and making do with traditional methods of keeping cool and do their bit to save the environment. But I think it is these very sacrifices that can ultimately tip the balance in the fight against global warming.

Anyone who doubts the seriousness of global warming and thinks that it's all a big conspiracy should spend sometime in this blistering weather that seems to be here to stay, and give it second thought.

I've been ranting about the heat. But I spend almost all day in an air-conditioned office and only a few hours facing the wrath of the weather. I shudder to think how those who aren't as fortunate as us cope. The ones who contribute almost nothing to the decline of our ecosystems but bear the brunt of the aftereffects.


Shaking hands is such a common act; we all do it often enough everyday. And yet, it's so hard to get right. It's an important part of your body language and it's supposed to show what kind of a person you are.

I always wonder, after every handshake, if I did it properly; if it portrayed the right ( or at least, a good ) picture of me. Was it too limp? Too firm? Too short? Too long? Too damp? Too rough? And shaking hands with members of the opposite sex ( read women ) is cause for even more anxiety; you don't want to crush her hand in a seeming display of your testosterone driven virility but neither do you want your hand to lay like a limp, dead fish in hers.

And just how many times do you shake? Twice is how much I tend to; though it seems just a wee bit short but then 3 seem too many! And I get really conscious if the shake goes on longer than 3. Some people just don't seem to let go ( read men )! They shake a couple of times...and then just hang on! It's just weird! I mean, the guy meets me, shakes my hand and starts talking about something and I'm not paying attention because, all the while in my head, I'm thinking, 'Umm. Hello? Can you let go, please? Right about now would be nice, thank you. I'd like my hand back dude!'. It makes me feel like one of those pairs of guys you see walking on the road, hand-in-hand. It's just such an un-manly thing to do! Not that I'm all into macho-posturing or against homosexuality. But that hand-in-hand walk is just so, girlie. It is. Really.

There's also thing I have about offering my hand first; I don't. I'm not quite sure why but I think it stems from the fear of rejection; I don't want the person to ignore my offer. But that often leads to situations where we're both clearly wondering if one of us will take the initiative and offer a shake but ultimately neither of us does. It gets a little awkward. Not quite as much as when someone offers a hand and the other person, quite innocently and with no malicious forethought, misses the gesture and then, does a double take on realizing what happened and tries to shake except now the first person isn't paying attention anymore. You get the idea.

But nothing can quite beat the weirdness having your hand shaken when you're not expecting it to be. My friend and I were walking out of our hostel when we met the warden walking in the opposite direction. We stopped and greeted him. He nodded and stuck his hand out pointing back towards the way we had come ( apparently he was about to mouth some sort of a question ); a gesture which I mistook for an invitation to shake hands and so, I grabbed his outstretched palm with great gusto and gave it a couple of shakes. He could only nod in his flabbergasted astonishment at being caught unawares and wonder silently, just what the hell was wrong with me!

Laptop Woes

I finally got my precious laptop back from the service center yesterday; after an agonizing wait of a week. But wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me take you back to when it all began.

A couple of months back, the LCD panel on my laptop went dark. Turned out that the backlight had gone kaput and so it needed to be replaced. Luckily, I'd extended the warranty on my machine and so it was completely covered. I went over to the service center and got it looked over and placed an order for the new screen.

After about 3 days they called and told me I could come get it changed. So I went over, got the screen replaced and headed back home. At home I realized, to my horror, they had given me a standard, matte-finish screen and not the BrightView that I had had. So I called them and the guy was a little suspicious. I think he thought I was trying to get an upgrade for free. I told him that he still had my old screen and could check it out. So they placed an order for the new screen and I went and got the correct one this time.

After about a few weeks, the newly replaced screen started flickering. I went back to them and they kept the laptop under observation for a day and then got back to me and told me that this screen would also need to be replaced. Sigh! So I waited for a couple of days while they got the replacement and went back again to get it changed. Except, this time, they were sent the wrong part! And they didn't know when they told me to come over because they only opened it once I got there! Another 3 day wait followed before I, once again, reached the service center.

This screen lasted a fair bit lesser than the previous one; it started blanking out when I opened or closed the lid. To make things worse, my DVD writer seemed to be not burning DVDs. I tried out 4 DVDs before I decided it wasn't the software ( I'd recently reinstalled Windows ) and took it over to them to get it checked out.

They kept it under observation ( yes, again! ) for another day and then called me to say that the motherboard and the DVD writer would be replaced. I was thanking my stars I spent the extra 7k on the warranty! Finally, the parts arrived and I went over to get my laptop. I hurried back home so I could finally get back online after a week of forced abstinence.

About 15 minutes into surfing, the machine just powered off. Just like that. It didn't shutdown or anything. It just turned off. I turned it on again and this time within about 10 minutes, it did the same thing. I'd faced something similar with my desktop about a year back; the heat sink’s vents had been totally clogged with dust and the processor would overheat and just switch off. I suspected it was the same thing and so, downloaded SpeedFan, a nifty little utility, to track the temperature.

Sure enough, it started off alright, and then steadily climbed higher and higher till the machine powered off. Completely crushed, I took it back the next day, expecting them to order yet another set of parts. They kept it for observation but said I would probably be able to take it back that evening. So I waited. Evening came and I called them. They said it was fine and I could collect it. So I rushed right over and the technician told me that there had been dust in the heat sink and that he'd cleaned it up properly so there shouldn't be a problem anymore.

I took it back home and, well, it's still here :D So I guess all's well that ends well. Though, it wasn't, so bad without it. I got all my stuff done in time. And I got back to reading a few books; hadn't done any reading for a long while now. But I still missed it and the convenience and comfort of being able to sort my files and folders and just escape from the confines of reality into the limitless world of cyberspace.


When I first started publishing to this blog, it was meant to be just an outlet; somewhere to vent and rant and rave; really, a diary of sorts. And it was fun, for a while, feeling smug about the fact that I was writing about stuff and people around me and they had no idea; even if someone did stumble upon my blog, they wouldn't know who it was; the whole point of writing under a pseudonym.

But after a while, things got, well, a little boring. The whole deal of having no one know about my blog also meant that no one visited. The whole fantasy of people coming across it and marvelling at my literary skills and prowess with the written word began to fade fast.

So I told one person. And it stayed that way for some time. Then I happened to mention to another that I had a blog and they 'forced' the URL out of me. And then another and another and yet another. So now, a fair number of people have knowledge of the presence of my blog.

Which is good; but it also means that the original purpose of the blog is lost. I can no more write exactly how I feel and what I think; I have to tone it down a notch since these readers of mine also know, or can hazard a fair guess as to what/ who I'm ranting about and it may not sit well with all.

So what do I choose? Anonymity and the enormous power that comes with it? The means to write what I want, when I want, about whatever I want; all the while hidden safely behind the all protecting shield of my nom de plume? Or do I let everyone know who's behind the mask and let them feel compelled to reply and post comments so I can feel pleased with the fact that I do, in fact, have some readers and my pages are not relegated to the dusty, hard-to-reach, virtual upper shelves of cyberspace's library of innumerable blogs? Tough one.

And I'm not the only one who ponders this dilemma; I think all start out with the need to publish anonymously, moving on to the want to be read and finally reaching a crossroads where they must decide which way they want to head. Whether the desire to be heard outweighs the requirement to remain safely hidden in the shadows.

For the time being though, I think I'll be content with just a few, loyal subscribers of my prose while keeping my true identity a secret from the masses.


U no wat rly irittes me? Wen ppl use sms-spk in situations dat dnt warrant it. In emails n in ltrs n othr plcs. Ive got nthng agnst shrtning wrds n using acronyms; in SMSs, whr dey blong n help u sv a few buks or mayb evry once in a whl, whl IMing 2 sv tim or jst b qk.

Ppl cnt seem 2 difrntte btwn wen its alrite 2 use it n wen its absolutly 4biden. Ive seen ppl use it in apps n on thr blogs n jst about evrywhr dat dey employ da English language as a means of comm. It jst reeks of wannab-ness.

I no da language is evolving n changing wid tim. Ppl r even bng alwd 2 use dis 4m while writing exams n now u can rd ntire novels in dis 4m; its supposed 2 b a new, progressive 4m of literature. I never did get art n stuff.

Its nt dat its hard 2 decifer ( alrite, it is kinda ); I enjoy bng able 2 fathom wats bng said n occasionally its fun usng sum of da clvrer shrtnings of wrds; bt always? It jst seems so boorish n ilitr8.

Wid all dis incrse in bnwidth n dcrse in csts, ud tnk ppl wud tk da opportunity 2 b more verbose bt den life is often counter-intuitive.

For those of you who couldn't figure out what was written above:

You know what really irritates me? When people use sms-speak in situations that don't warrant it. In emails and in letters and other places. I've got nothing against shortening words and using acronyms; in SMSs, where they belong and help you save a few bucks or maybe every once in a while, while IMing to save time or just be quick.

People can't seem to differentiate between when it's alright to use it and when it's absolutely forbidden. I've seen people use in applications and on their blogs and just about everywhere that they employ the English language as a means of communication. It just reeks of wannabe-ness.

I know the language is evolving and changing with time. People are even being allowed to use this form while writing exams and now you can read entire novels in this form; it's supposed to be a new, progressive form of literature. I never did get art and stuff.

It's not that it's hard to decipher ( alright, it is kinda ); I enjoy being able to fathom what's being said and occasionally it's fun using some of the cleverer shortenings of words; but always? It just seems so boorish and illiterate.

With all this increase in bandwidth and decrease in costs, you'd think people would take the opportunity to be more verbose but then life is often counter-intuitive.

You Said It!

What is the difference between the American and Indian democracies?

In America, you can kiss in public but not pee; in India you can pee in public but not kiss.


From Contrapunto, The Times Of India Delhi issue dated 16 May 2007.


Seriously! What is it with these soaps? Stories that crawl along at a pace that would shame a snail on Prozac, terrible acting, laughable sets and the weirdest videography and sound effects that wouldn't be out of place in the grand lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker! Can't you just imagine the whole lot of them; producer, director, the cast, the sound effects guy and the cameraman, all conferring about the day's episode?

"Right, so I've thought of a new direction that this episode is going to take the show. Those hour-long traffic jams really give my creativity a boost! I got today's story done in 10 minutes! Unfortunately, the material is worth that much airtime too. So, once again, lets fill up, let see, another 15, with inane dialogue that is offensive to the even the mildly rational, preachy, patronizing and, oh just so incongruous in today's world. How are we for glycerine? Because all the talk will bore the audience. Lots of weeping is the key to grabbing eyeballs and TRPs.

About 20 minutes would be advertisements. And let's have another 10 minutes of insane, roller-coaster-ride-like camera movements with lots and lots of zooming in and out; something that seems like we've let a drunken monkey loose with the camera on the deck of a boat in stormy seas. I want lots of rolling and pitching; I think it looks artsy. Don't you?

And of course we overlay that with those new synth-sounds we've been waiting to try out. We know that our major demographic is middle-aged housewives who have been found to have a low probability of having watched any science-fiction movies at all so they won't realize that our sound effects are a rip-off the latest space movie's epic war battle scene!

Oh, and let's not forget that we treat our audiences like a bunch of brain damaged retards and so let’s start with the usual 10 minute recap of the last episode's 10 minute story at beginning. We'll end with a climatic cliffhanger that'll keep the suspense till the next episode. All this stretching's got us at least 5 minutes over time so we can quickly end with no credits but just a splash screen of the production house, so that it looks like we had really great story that left us with no time for anything else! Alright! We're all set! Go team! Let's have another great shoot!"



My favorite colours are blue, grey and black. But wait! Black isn't actually a colour now, is it? It's more like, the absence of any colour! If a body absorbs all colours falling on it and doesn't reflect any, then it's perfectly black. In fact, in physics, a black body doesn't reflect any radiation falling on it, visible or otherwise.

On the other end of the spectrum ( pardon the pun :D ) is white. White isn't a colour either. It is the complete opposite of black ( like you didn't already know that! ); it is the equal presence of all colours.

So the next time someone mentions that black ( or white ) is their favorite, you can sniff, turn your nose up in the air, look at them disdainfully and say, 'Well! That's not even a colour!"

Traffic Jams

There's work being done in Noida on flyovers and the Delhi Metro. And I it's going to help the traffic situation and the lessen the burden on our overcrowded roads ( if you want to call some of them that! ) but right now, it's only making it worse. Much, much worse.

My office is only about 6 kilometers away from home. It usually takes me 15 minutes; 10 on a good day. But today, it took me half an hour. And I travel by bike. That makes it possible for me to snake through the jam and ride on the shoulder of the road. Imagine the plight of four-wheeler drivers! Though, to be fair, they do have air conditioning!

The road that I take to work is, for the most part, in pretty good condition. There are two bottlenecks though. One, a crossing that is major in importance, but minor in road width. But it's just about manageable. But now, with the Delhi Metro coming here, they've encroached on about a quarter of the road. That takes away the buffer that we had and it's now perpetually jammed. Add to this the insanely long waiting times at almost all crossing and you'd understand why road-rage is on the rise.

The second bottleneck is the construction of a flyover. I can't begin describing why it's so messy and chaotic. The road handles most traffic between Noida and Delhi and also Greater Noida. Because of the construction there are detours all around and the roads that have been put to use for them are really narrow. So they too are perpetually jammed. And to top it off, today they closed off another turning that provided some respite at the crossing. It really doesn't make sense; the turning wasn't that close to the crossing so it didn't cause some idiot looking for a shortcut to cause a traffic snarl; and the traffic passing it is pretty light anyway so they could have easily managed to let all vehicles that wanted to go that way, pass. But no! They want to force everyone to the crossing so that everyone can enjoy the pain of a gridlock. Why must they ( the faceless, and apparently brainless, powers-that-be ) do things in such a senseless way? You'd think they lacked a basic understanding of how drivers work. Or perhaps they've never really driven a vehicle through one of these situations.

It's not completely their fault though. Most of the cars I see have just one person in them. Huge, hulking SUVs taking half the road's width with just one person. That is simply dumb. Jakarta has a solution to this though; it has a three-in-one rule which states that a car must have at least 3 passengers when traveling through the restricted zone. Pretty clever. Except that people are smarter. So now you have unemployed youth waiting at the start of the zone who will happily help you increase the occupancy of your vehicle. For a small fee of course. You get to drive through that area and they get paid. Everyone's happy!

Nigeria had another solution to their traffic problem in Lagos. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, only cars that had registration numbers starting with an odd number could use the roads. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it was the turn of the even numbers. Again, pretty ingenious, you'd think. Well, Lagos had a booming oil economy and that allowed people to buy second cars so that they had cars for both days! How do you like that?

London's got a hi-tech solution to this problem. They charge people who enter the congested zones a fee. The cars are photographed using cameras and software identifies the license plates and the motorists are charged once during the day, no matter how many times they enter or how long they stay.

India will probably not have anyway out of it's mess for a very long time since there is no way that either the people or the enforcers will go that extra mile to make sure that the rules are not broken. We'll probably just end up going the Jakarta or Lagos way and cheat our way out!



I'm really into downloading stuff using torrents and Mininova is where I get most of my torrents from. It's a pretty well maintained site with a simple clean interface.

Originally, when I was told to visit Mininova for torrents, I went to Except that was a scam site. Some guy was asking people for $100 to use, the actual site!

Anyway, a few days ago, they were able to win a court case ( you can read more about it here ) and acquired the domain name as well. So now if you visit, you'll be redirected to Do visit it, it's good.

And if you don't find what you're looking for there, try It's not a site for torrents but rather, a search engine. It searches quite a few sites, including Mininova, Meganova, TorrentSpy, Snarf-It to name a few.

Happy downloading!

What's This Life For?

I've been feeling...a feeling. I can't define it. It just is there. In part, it is a sense of lack of purpose; a lack of ambition and goal, at least any conceivably achievable ones. There is no drive and no will to continue like this.

I've read so many places about Life's tenacity and it's uncompromising instinct to go on. But to what end? What is the reason for Life to exist? What is the object of it's 'being'? Isn't it pointless, at least for individuals, to fight for survival for the ephemeral time they spend alive? What do they achieve? The satisfaction of a life well-lived? And what defines if you've lived well? Culture? What good is culture in the grave? In fact, what good is culture when all you do in life is suffer? How can you appreciate anything if all you ever do is struggle to survive?

Why all the suffering that one has to go through? A lesson that life teaches you? In preparation for what? More suffering? And with what we're doing to our planet with our accomplishments and technological progress, it doesn't really seem worthwhile to continue or even consider producing progeny to come into a world of chaos, hunger, strife and war; because that is what I see the world heading towards. There will be no water, not enough food, inhospitable climes, lawlessness and anarchy; the scenario of so many movies and books that take a look at the future.

In the vastness of The Universe and Everything, Life really doesn't seem to hold much promise.

Picasa Web Albums

I downloaded Google's Picasa the other day, and although I did have some initial misgivings about yet another photo-organizer, I have to admit, it is pretty slick! Very nice interface, cool GUI effects and pretty decent image manipulation features. Some pretty snazzy effects too. I don't think I'll be using it too often, I prefer to manage these things manually in Windows Explorer, but I did spend some time fooling around with it.

I signed up for a Picasa Web Albums account and then spent a day fiddling around with Picasa and Adobe Photoshop to get some pretty decent finals of some random photos I had lying around. Take a look at my public gallery and let me know what you think.


Ok. This has got to be the heights of laziness + stupidity. I know that laziness is a very common affliction, but this guy takes the cake ( actually, I think he'd be more likely to ask someone for the cake since he'd be too lazy to get it ). This picture was in the Times Of India, Delhi edition, dated 28th March 2007.

TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS: Levester Johnson takes his dog Armani for a morning jog in Akron, Ohio. “I was lazy this morning,” said Johnson. “I’m on the way to the gym myself. I wanted to make sure he got in a workout before I left”

I mean, you're going to the gym and you decide to walk the dog sitting in your car?! Seriously? He couldn't have used the opportunity to warm up with a jog?

People are so incredibly dumb sometimes.


This has got to be one of the worst parts of being online. Such an immense amount of time is wasted on clearing out your mailbox that could be utilized so much more productively in some other activity.

The origin of the term is from the Monty Python sketch of the same name. The sketch featured a menu which had the processed meat product with every single item. The idea of it being all-pervasive lending itself very nicely to the electronic phenomenon of unsolicited, junk mail.

I can understand that hackers, crackers and seedy marketers would use it as a medium of deception and promotion. It is rather perplexing though, how educated and ( seemingly ) intelligent people can forward mail with information that is pretty obviously fake. I get so many forwards about sick and dying people, victims of accidents and fires, fantastically dangerous drugs, free money being given away that it's a wonder I get any time to check any of my actual mail! I actually get messages that read '...if you forward this sms...'. Alright. I've heard of convergence of different technologies. But since when did messages make the leap from telephone networks into email and remain ( supposedly ) trackable?

On Orkut too, people now forward spam as messages. I've started sending out mails to all my friends when I'm sent any spam ( and no, that does not count as spam! It serves a higher purpose! ). The latest ( but actually quite old ) trend seems to be forwarding messages claiming to be from someone at Orkut and warning people that if they don't forward the message, their account will be closed. Really? Don't they have a news page for where they make announcements? Doesn't anyone stop to think why a member of Orkut would contact some random person and hand them the rather big responsibility of telling everyone what is going on? What if that person doesn't login anymore? And wouldn't the person from Orkut, being in charge of Orkut and all that, be able to message everyone at one go without having to depend on some unknown member?

Similar messages come in on Yahoo! Messenger as well. And I've ticked people off for that only to be told that they knew it was fake all along and were only forwarding it for a few laughs. There is nothing funny about spam! It wastes time and resources and increases costs because providers have to compensate for the extra bandwidth use.

And how believable is it that some major corporation is giving away money for forwarding a mail? Seriously? That's just dumb. No one would just give away money like that for some 'test' ( ostensibly for checking if you're using a particular browser! I'm pretty sure there is no field in an e-mail’s header which tracks what browser you're using! And so much of mail goes through other mail clients like Microsoft Outlook; where does that fit in? ) which would probably not even give proper results. What if you just kept forwarding the mail to yourself? And how would anyone guarantee that the mail would remain trackable across networks, especially if it was converted to plaintext ( assuming that the tracking was being done by some active code; I can't think of any other way ). That said, there is no ethical, legal ( or even foolproof ) way of tracking an email that any major corporation could use. Imagine the privacy concerns.

How can anyone imagine they're helping someone out by forwarding a trail of electrons across the network? Maybe it's because we feel guilty about not doing anything and since hitting the forward button is easy, we take that option and feel like we've done our bit in helping out the world. I'd like to see how many people would forward these messages if they mails read '...your bank account will be debited $1.00 each time you forward this mail. Forward to as many people as you can! Thanks...' instead of '...will donate $1.00 each time you forward this mail. Forward to as many people as you can! Thanks...'. Not as many as right now, I think.

On the lighter side, Google's GMail show's links to Spam recipes on the top of the spam folder. That's rather cute, you must admit. :)

There are quite a few sites on the net that list out all these hoaxes and various, popular spam messages. Here are a few that I find quite useful when I'm sending out an enlightening message to all my contacts who forward spam.

The next time you get the urge to send out some suspicious mail, do take a moment to check if it is a known hoax or not. And do use your common-sense. You are sensible, aren't you? Then prove it. And do your little bit for the good for the Internet community as a whole.

Now, send a link to this post to everyone in your email contacts list, messengers' buddy-lists, MySpace / Orkut / Facebook / Friendster / Gazzag/ or whatever else it is you use friends' lists in the next 2.5 milliseconds otherwise your newspaper will fall in a puddle of water tomorrow morning and you will have to read it all soggy-wet. You have been warned! :D


There seems to be something really wrong with the weather. It's the middle of March and we're still using blankets and fans are, for the most part, switched off. It poured like the monsoons for a couple of days, followed by a really warm 24 hours, followed by more rain. This set of events, of course, had to be shown up and so there was a hailstorm this evening. And it was pretty heavy too.

On realizing that it was hailing, we all immediately dropped what we were doing and darted outside; anything to stop work! It was quite a pretty sight; hundreds of thousands of little white hailstones falling onto the green lawns of the company. We watched for a while and more people kept walking out and joining the crowd. When it was finally over, a rainbow appeared. It wasn't a particularly bright or colourful or indeed, in anyway special, rainbow. But it was a rainbow and that makes it worth mentioning. People then streamed into the lawn to take a look at the hailstones. Some of the more playful one's starting tossing a few at each other. Ouch! Makes you feel kinda sorry for the people who've never experienced snow.

Now, I'm not one to complain about a few extra cool days before the scorching summers begin; but I just can't help but wonder - what in the world is in the works? All this weird weather phenomena has to forebode some disturbing changes in the climate. It sets me pondering as to whether it is the doomsday pundits who are correct or if it is the global-warming-naysayers and conspiracy-theorists who shall be proved to have been accurate. Only time will tell.

Images: Courtesy a colleague and her Nokia 6280.


tridecennary (try-di-SEN-uh-ree) noun

1. A period of thirteen years.

2. A thirteenth anniversary.

[From Latin tres (three), from decem (ten) + annus (year).]

I'm a subscriber of A.Word.A.Day ( not that it does me much good! Though, admittedly, I don't really get time to go through the mails properly, so... ). Anyway, last week's theme was the number 13, as it was their thirteenth anniversary. This was the first word and Anu Garg mentioned that Google showed only one hit for this word. I'd run a search for it at that time and seen 3 results; the original plus the Wordsmith site. And a search now shows about 668 results ( with Wordsmith at the top! )

As a Sally Boyson noted in the AWADmail Issue 253, it is a great example of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle which states that you can't observe something without affecting it in someway. Of course, it also reflects the immense popularity of A.Word.A.Day!

हिंदी Transliteration!

I've been busy the last couple of weeks and haven't really put up any posts ( What? You noticed? :) ) When I logged in yesterday and decided to tweak the settings a bit, I noticed a new option under the Basic Settings: 'Show transliteration button for you posts?'. Intrigued, I set it to yes and checked out the Blogger help entry for it.

Well, guess what? It's a totally awesome feature that automatically converts what you type in English, to Hindi! It works phonetically so what you type may not come out right, but they have very thoughtfully provided options to either correct what you're typing or have complete control by typing out letters from a on-screen keyboard. And it seems to work rather well too! It is just fantastically impressive!

However, it does have some limitations and the text may not always display correctly. But I guess they'll work that out sometime in the future.

तो अब हम हिंदी में ब्लोग लिख सकते हैं! क्या, क्या बनाया है इन्सान ने! विज्ञानं कितनी सीमाएँ पार कर चुका है! १-२ साल पहले ही, क्या कोई मानता कि यह सब मुमकिन है?

Alright, very 10-class-board-essay-type sentence there; but it pretty much covers it. And I just have to mention that I didn't have to edit a single letter for it! It came out right the first time around! This feature is just tremendously brilliant!

For those of you who can't see it, try reading this article and till you get it right, here's a screenshot:

After going through the help entry for this feature, I'm quite embarrassed because I realize that my knowledge of my mother tongue isn't as good as it should be. The Google guys probably know much more about the structure, syntax and semantics that I ever will. I don't even know the complete alphabet in order! I've got the option but I probably wouldn't be able to correct any spellings in my Hindi sentences!

Police III

Really. What is it about the uniform that turns policemen so apathetic and indifferent? Why do they look the other direction, literally sometimes when the general public is in dire need of their assistance?

I was once heading towards office and at that time, the main road leading that way was being repaved. And of course, the work was being carried out in the usual bumbling, inefficient methods of road construction that all road repair/ construction teams seem to unfailingly follow. I suspect the authorities have documented and standardized these procedures that must be adhered to in order to cause the common man maximum possible hindrance, exasperation and just plain disruption of schedule.

Anyhow, of the two lanes, for traffic heading in opposite direction, separated by a road divider, one was being re-tarred. And the vehicles had to drive somewhere. So the traffic was redirected onto the wrong-way lane, adding to the already chaotic flow at the crossing. This, of course, was done without the utilization of apparently trivial things like road signs and/ or traffic cones. So one had no idea what one was getting into till one was neck deep in it ( it being the aforementioned chaos at the crossing ).

However, we Indians are now resilient; we have built up a tolerance for the idiocy of the bureaucracy and the public works departments. What got my attention was the lackadaisical attitude of the traffic policeman at the crossing. He was supposed to be directing the traffic; but instead he had chosen to stand aside and watch it get interestingly intricately integrated into one entity; which was unable to go anywhere.

One motorcyclist, as he crossed the policeman, gestured to him to do something about the snarl. The policeman responded with a shout at the retreating back of the rider, inviting him to come and do the needful himself. Alright, so maybe he was frustrated and irritated. But the rider had only pointed out what he should have been doing in the first place!

This picture on Nikhil's blog says it all!

Bad Day?

I've realized something recently. If your day starts off good, don't feel too happy about it. Starting good means the chances of it getting worse are higher. So you're usually destined for disappointment as the day gets along.

On the other hand, if you started off on the wrong foot, it can only get better, right? So you've got something to look forward to.

That's just how I see it.

Bathroom Cleaning Tip

The room that I'm renting had a bathroom that was, well, not quite that dirty, but not pristine either. The tiles and bathware were stained a bit and the taps seemed really rusty.

Well, I've got it all gleaming now! And today I'm going to share my secret with you! You too can have a bathroom that looks brand new! It'll make your friends wonder how you manage it! And all it takes is a little bit of shopping a lot of hard work! Not to mention regularly visiting this blog to get more neat tips on various things ( a little bit of shameless self-promotion there :D )!

You'll need the following:

  • Harpic ( or something similar )
  • Steel scrubber

The Harpic can help you save a quite a bit of back-breaking scrubbing if you use it properly. And the scrubber is almost certainly guaranteed to scrape off most grime off most surfaces ( along with quite a bit of your fingertips if you're not careful! )

Start off by generously coating the surface( s ) to be cleaned with Harpic. Let it stay for a while but don't let it dry. If you clean now, even with a plastic scrubber, you'll get most of the stains off. But the steel scrubber will definitely do the job better. I used this method to get the taps good as new and the basin and tiles squeaky clean.

Oh, and for those of you that don't know, newspaper is excellent for cleaning mirrors without streaking or leaving irritating little strands.

So go ahead, clean your bathroom and get a good workout at the same time. And when your friends ( or foes ) ask, direct them to this blog :D


Holi is coming again. It's not a festival that I particularly look forward to. It's definitely not one of my favorite festivals. Heck, it's not even one of my 'tolerate-enough-to-say-nothing-about' festivals. I dislike it a lot.

For starters, it's very messy. I don't mind the water at all; that's even fun sometimes. The colours are just about bearable. I'd endure them for one day. It's the rest of the muck that people start playing with that really disgusts me. Folks start using grease, paint, rotten eggs, cow dung and lord knows what else. I'd just don't get the point of that; I mean, its supposed to be a festival of colours; not a festival of filth.

Then there are the people themselves. They have just no self-control. For days before and after they'd be throwing water balloons and colours at passersby and motorists. Why force someone to take part in something they clearly don't want to? If you're enjoying yourself, that's just peachy; but don't force me to join you and have fun because I won't. If I want to I'll do it on my own terms, in my own way.

The worst part is that some individuals ( guys, actually ) interpret the occassion as permission and a pretext to get in touch ( literally! ) with girls. I've been told that guys freely feel up females while celebrating and that the girls don't really mind it. I think that's nonsense. No occassion warrants such blatant violation of someone's personal space. And the idea that it being a festival makes it ok just shows you how perversely people think.

Well, come Sunday, I'll be sitting, locked up, at home, as usual.


"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."

- Thomas Alva Edison ( 1847 - 1931 )

But in the end, it is the 1% that really matters. You could slog at something for weeks or months and get nowhere. Actually, you probably wouldn't even get started if it weren't for the initial 'A-ha!'.

There are so many inventions that are taken for granted but are just so wonderful. Take the safety pin. It is such an amazing design; simple, elegant and yet infinitely useful. Whatever would hold nappies together if it weren't for these little things? Consider also the stapler, paper clips, key rings, sticky notes, clothes pegs, band-aids and uncountable other things that make life so convenient. It's all about finding a niche to fill.

So I've been doing a little thinking about what I'd like to see created. You know how, with computers, you can change your desktop and visual themes to suit your mood or preferences any time you like? It great that when you get tired of looking at the same wallpaper everyday, you can choose another. Now, OLEDs seem to be big. And one possible application I see is in t-shirts. I know it sounds weird, but think about it. You could have a chip and the OLED embedded in you t-shirt and have some way, possibly Bluetooth or maybe through a cable that plugs in to the shirt at one end and the computer at the other, to load an image ( or even images so you have a choice later ) to be displayed as your t-shirt's 'print'. I think that would be really cool, to be able to select what your t-shirt looks like everyday; maybe even many times a day; to reflect your mood or your preference.

But this is something that I feel is more or less bound to happen soon. It's just waiting to be developed, what with clothes embedded with electronics being showcased all over and chips getting smaller in size and larger in capacity and just cheaper everyday. What I'd really want; what I really need, is some sort of contraption that will give me a way to manage my earphones! Something that will allow a quick-release from the 'put-away' state so I can just plug them in and put them in my ears without having to untangle the wires; and also vice-versa - when I'm done, I should be able to roll them up or wind them back or whatever, quickly and easily. Now that would be an invention. :D

I dream about inventing these things and being lauded the world-over. But, alas! I'm more dreamer than inventor. And I certainly am incapable of putting in the required '99% perspiration' !

Contentment And Resentment

Why is that every time I start feeling that I'm working hard enough and not a complete idiot, and lull my self into a ( false ) sense of security; someone has to come along and reaffirm my only slightly weakened belief that I'm useless, incompetent and a fool who doesn’t put in enough effort?

I don't want to be the best at everything. But I don't want to be constantly reminded of my shortcomings. I just want to be content being who I am.

Cold Milkshake Tip

I prefer cold coffee or a cold milkshake to a hot milk drink. But as we all know, Bournvita or Horlicks doesn't quite mix well with cold milk. It all just lumps together and floats on the top. It is fun to scoop it out and munch on but it leaves the milk rather insipid with only a very faint flavour. You could spend some unproductive minutes trying to crush the lumps but that doesn't really help.

Now, what I've discovered is this ( and ignore me if you already knew and carry on with whatever it is that you were doing, but those of you who weren't aware of this and wished for an easier way to mix cold milk with a mix, will thank me ) - If you make a paste of the additive, Horlicks or Bournvita or whatever else with water first, it will blend like a dream!

You could add just a little bit of water and the mix to your glass first to just make a paste or you could add more to make a sort of syrup. Stir firmly and crush all lumps to get a smooth paste/ syrup. Either way, when you add the milk, there'll be no more frustration and cold, smooth milky goodness.

This is how I start my mornings now; and so can you! All for the cost of having visited my blog and read this post! Not such a bad deal is it? :D


Ever since school, I've wondered if it really is possible to quantify intelligence with the myriad of tests and examinations that most of us end up taking through the course of our lives. There are tests in schools, tests to clear to get into college, tests to get through college, tests to get a job, tests to certify proficiency with something, tests to test soundness of mind; it’s maddening.

Most of these tests don't really test how well you can handle the knowledge you have or what you can do with it. What they do test is how well you can remember stuff that you've mugged up. Application of skills or intelligence is pretty limited. And I hate that.

I don't have the patience to learn up facts and figures listed in tables for some subject. I hate having to cram up arcane details of some chip or board. I have no need to remember that the range of a byte in Java is 0 to 216. If I want I can either calculate it or look it up somewhere. I feel that all these things should be in reference books and not memorized. If it does happen to get imprinted onto your mind in the course of using it then that’s great. But you shouldn't be forced to have to learn them.

And it really bugs me that people who know nothing about nothing manage to put in a few hours of hard work ( alright I'll give them that, they work hard at it ) to mug up the required stuff and then manage to excel at the afore mentioned exams. I know that I'm better than quite a few of them at figuring out problems and troubleshooting and understanding what is going on with a program; but I also know ( found out the hard way actually; through experience ) that in a straight test, most of them would beat me in the marks department if given sufficient warning and relevant material.

I know I'm not stupid. I can manage quite well with most stuff. I'm not brilliant or a genius, but fairly confident that I lie between average and above-average. But I have no patience with these tests. Which is not to say that I perform poorly on them. I do pretty well on most; but again, not brilliantly. And quite a few times the people who do do better, manage it because of some unfair advantages. However, other times, it’s my fault. I'm just too lazy to put in too much effort on the exam; especially if it is just some stupid test that doesn't really matter. At college and school, since the clearing exam was the primary goal and we were excused from all else to study for it, I'd do just that. But that was because that was all that was supposed to be done. I can't really handle multitasking too well; if I'm supposed to be working on the project at work, then by God that's what I wanna be doing! Not studying for some test or managing my finances or doing some other secondary thing.

I guess in the end it comes down to this: life itself is a test; but it doesn't matter much how you perform since everyone ends up the same way.


I like it when it rains. Not all the time; but every once in a while. And only on holidays or days when I don't have to do much travelling around!

I love the way the way the sky darkens as clouds start gathering in the distance. The whole world looks so surreal; the sky is dark but there is this weird ethereal illumination that seems to be radiating from everywhere. It gives the sky an orangish colour and makes everything look so different.

As the storm builds up you can see people scurrying around; rushing to get home and finish their business before the downpour starts. Soon, with flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, the rain starts. The smell of dry earth that is suddenly wet by the water from the heavens has got to be one of the most wonderful scents ( even though it is caused by bacteria! ).

Sitting cozily at home and watching the storm break is so much fun. You involuntarily crave hot samosas and/ or soup to counter the chill in the air. Or maybe after coming in after getting caught in the rain, you could use the nutrition and warmth.

The medley of sounds that accompanies the rains is very soothing; the low, deep, distant rumble of thunder that follows the sudden cracks of lightening; the steady pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof and windows; the water dripping from the roofs; the relaxing gurgle of water flowing into the drains. And what makes it special is the silence otherwise. It drowns out everything else and makes the world seem so private.

After the rain stops, everything seems so much brighter and cleaner. All the colours seem different. The green of the trees and plants seems to be glossy and dazzling. The world seems cleansed and reborn; free from sin. The air is clean, crisp and cold. And falling asleep to the sound of rain falling outside is so relaxing. You feel so warm and protected in your cozy bed while the elements rage outside.

But, as with everything else, there are certain drawbacks to it raining too. If you happen to be travelling when the storm hits, it's very frustrating and irritating to be wet and cold. The worst is when you're get caught on the way to work; if you're heading home, it's not that bad because you know you can have a nice warm bath once you reach, followed by a hot meal. I've spent hours squelching around in wet clothes and shoes at college so I know how bad it can be.

But I think the worst aspect is that we have to suffer power cuts! I hate that when it rains and its the best time to turn off the lights and make some popcorn and sit down for a movie, you can't because there is no electricity. And that my downloads at night get interrupted. Though they can be fun too. It gives you an excuse not to study ( if its not too urgent of course. I remember many exams that forced me to sit up on a cold, rainy night with a candle when I'd rather be tucked into bed with a good book! ). It's much quieter too, without any TV's or music.

But nothing lasts forever, not even cold rain; which is good because after a few days of incessant rainfall, things tend to get a little musty and damp. Clothes don't dry and food left out for a couple of days has a tendency to go bad or get soggy. Going out is severely restricted, especially if, like me, you travel around on a two-wheeler; and that can seriously cramp your style :D

So, I guess, as with all things, moderation is the key. Rains are welcome but only for a short while.