Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

Air Travel – Bangalore, Hyderabad, Dubai, Birmingham!

In this age of low-cost airlines, every Tom, Dick and Harry seemed to have traveled in different airlines – long distance or short. At 24, I had not boarded the flight even once, out of my own volition for quite some time though. However, an opportunity came by and travel I did, on company’s expense in different flights and if you ask me my first impressions…ah..well, flights are not as interesting as traveling in trains.

Bangalore – Hyderabad

Well, this was Kingfisher Airlines in the evening. Known more for its style and panache, Kingfisher did not disappoint at all. The passenger sitting beside me was an Iraqi – huh, great start I thought. He was a consultant in Iraq, helping Iraqi students get education abroad – from counseling to ticketing. We had an interesting conversation at 30000 feet about different food habits in Iraq, post-Saddam Iraq and the way Indian economy was becoming stronger by the day. He was fluent in Arabic and German (that is what he claimed) but was not in English. So, we had a kind of Morse code going on about some words he could not utter. The air-hostesses were pretty and they were taking kisses on their cheeks from all the little babies around….ahhh..I wish…

I digress.

If Bangalore runway was pathetic, Hyderabad was even worse – felt like some speed breakers on the runway (interesting way to stop a plane though J). I would not be wrong if I claimed that the Bus station in Hyderabad is far cleaner and better than the airport. Most of the trolleys don’t work and pre-paid autorickshaws are a misnomer. End of the first-trip on an Aeroplane was exhilarating, watching the land, lakes and the clouds from 30000 feet. Conversation with an Iraqi made the trip even more memorable.

Hyderabad – Dubai

The best flight of the three – flew in Emirates. Very comfortable – seating, food and entertainment. All fell in place. The only complaint was that every announcement was made in English as well as Arabic – so had the funny pleasure of watching every advertisement and hearing every announcement twice. Watched Rocky Balboa and Bollywood Calling again after an hour of admiring the grandiloquence of Boeing and the takeoff it made. Enjoyed them thoroughly. The landing in Dubai airport was near perfect and to go along with it, there was a superb runway and an excellent airport. Had McDonalds and Coke for Lunch which cost me 15 Dirhams. Hopefully my company reimburses this too J

Dubai – Birmingham

Emirates again. Worst of the three. Bad food, Bad entertainment and a 7 hr flight. There were no choices in movies like the earlier Emirates flight. We had to watch what they played. They played ‘Don’ (SRK) which I watched and some arcane Priyanka Chopra movie which I didn’t – didn’t have the courage must admit. The view from the plane over Alps and other rivers was breathtaking. That was the only salvage point of this travel. At the end of 7 hours, was tired, hungry and frustrated. Immigration authorities were kind enough to let me through within 5 minutes. Picked my luggage and took a taxi to Nottingham. The taxi was extremely comfortable – was at my destination in an hour and a half. Charge – 90 pounds. (huh!)

Airplane travel…ahhh..well, it would be great if the travel doesn’t exceed 4 hrs at a stretch and there is good food. Otherwise, it is quite boring. Train or even bus travels are much better.

The Futility of Logic!

How often have we heard the terms ‘How logical is that’, ‘Your logic is brilliant’, ‘Logically, it is true’. Yet, rewind the instances in your thought process and evaluate whether the logic convinced you or your sense of logic or thought process merged with the logic spoken by the other person.

In my experience, logic did not convince anybody at any point of time. As I read in a book the other day, only when the spoken word appeals to the other person’s self-interest, will or thought process, will logic be of any use. Logic primarily is to be used for rational beings, or inanimate objects, say with computers. Logic works perfectly in such a system because they are devoid of their own thought process and neither do they possess a sense of individuality and hence self-interest. Human beings are primarily emotional creatures. In an emotional atmosphere, there is no place for logic.

The religion/culture (or whatever you might want to call it) of almost every country doesn’t propagate selfless service. It propagates ‘you help people, there is heaven when you die’, ‘you get punyam’. The key word essentially is ‘you’. The futility of logic was perceived was by our ancestors thoroughly. They had to create an incentive, a self-interest motive to help the poor and the needy. ‘What is in it for me?’ primarily drives arguments and not logic. Innumerable examples to support the futility of logic. They are around us every day and every moment, from global to personal.

Logic states that pollution of air has to be reduced drastically to reduce global warming. Many countries signed the Kyoto Protocol. However, major pollution causing countries like the US have refused to sign Kyoto Protocol indicating that they do not believe these global warming reports. The most industrialized and a developed country speaking thus – logic, what is that?

Shilpa Shetty being kissed by Richard Gere in an AIDS campaign in India. As usual, a furore over this was telecast a million times in various 24×7 rubbish news channels. Shilpa Shetty enquires – ‘Why is the public raising such a furore? I do not see any logic in raising such petty issues to a national level’. The same lady was silent and probably approving with glee when the same public created a ‘star’ out of nowhere because of another worthless TV show ‘Big Brother’. Wasn’t logic working then?

Personal experiences are multiple. If my friend is faced with a particular situation, and I am offering a so-called ‘objective’ opinion, that is because of two reasons. The decision he might take will not affect me in any way and two, I get this exalted feeling of helping him out of a situation. All said and done however, my friend would act in a way that would maximize his self-interest and not any other way round. I have been on both sides of the fence multiple times and have observed that unless the logic serves our self-interest, the logic is bad/faulty/no use.

Rationalism, Objectivity are all things which can unanimously be applied to machines and computers, never to human beings. Next time someone says it is so logical, just take a step back and evaluate as to how it would benefit that particular person, because the way world is, ‘self-interest’ rules.

P.S – Books like ‘The Art of Negotiation’ and similar books have one baseline, serve (maximize) your self-interests, give and take very few. The blog is fundamentally against a core philosophy I strongly believe (tried it, with disastrous results :)), but then…‘Selfless’ uh…I hope to reach that state someday.

Indian Actors and ‘Apocalypto’

One of the visually-brilliant and most violent movies – ‘Apocalypto’. I watched it last week. The film essentially tracks Mayans (or Aztecs depending on whom you would want to believe) being captured and sacrificed by Mayans/Aztecs living in a different region so that they could satisfy their god Kulkulan. In the end however, as all movies end, the lead character ensures that all the villainous characters are killed and the hero and heroine live happily thereafter.

The lead character in the movie is enacted by Rudy Youngwood. For a novice, he was brilliant. But last heard, that different Indian actors were auditioned for this role before Rudy. Mel Gibson (who directed the movie) flew down to India visiting various states to finalize on the lead character – he deduced, albeit empirically, that since the Indian Economy was booming, if he hired an Indian Actor, there would be a ready market.

He wanted a dynamic actor, with a booming voice and a great body. An immortal line from the movie, and I quote ‘I am Jaguar Paw and this is my land. My father had hunted this forest before me and my sons will hunt it after me’. This was the line given as an audition test.

He started off with Bollywood.

Sunny Deol – Oyi, itni si baat!! Mein to Gaddar mein aur bhi shor macha ya tha. Audience meri aawaaz sunn ke, bhehere ho gaye the. Oyi Gibsonnnnn, sunn…’mein Jaguar Paw hu aur ye dharti meri hai. Mere baap ne ispe raaj kiya tha, aur mein jaane ke baad, mere bacche bhi raaj karenge….jo bole so nihal, sasriyakaal!!’

Mithun da – ye Mel….kuch disc visc lagaate hai na, kuch dhinchaak vinchaak rahega to apni public bhi khush ho jaayegi. I did lot of B-grade movies you know, where you know, I have shouted a lot you know. With me in your movie you know, you have a lot of market in Bhojpur you know. Now listen, I am Jaguar Paw, otherwise known as Disco Dancer. Ye meri dharti hai, kyun ki ispe maine disco dance kiya hai….mere baap bhi kiya tha aur mere bete bhi karenge’. But Mel, be sure to provide me a good wig you know, and a 20-year old girl as heroine you know – that chemistry should be there you know.

Mel Gibson was disappointed to say the least. He moved South.

Firstly, telugu actor, Balakrishna, fondly Baliah baabu – Balakrishna doesn’t waste time delivering his dialogue with meaningless banter, Shreya was waiting for him for a dance sequence. He jumps directly to dialogue delivery ‘vorey vorey vorey, ee seema naadi. Nenu toda kottanu ante, ee seema loni jantuvulanni naa kaallla daggaara vochi padtaayi. Ee seema paina maa naayana raktam kuripinchaadu, nenu poyina tarvata, naa pillalu raktam kuripistaaru’ – saying this, he rushed out and Mel almost fainted.

He decided to call it quits with Indian actors. Just then he had an idea. How about having dynamic Indian cricketers. He enquired about dynamic Indian cricketers with disgruntled fans – they suggested:

The first fool, otherwise known by the name Kris Srikanth – Mel Gibson met him, did not understand whether he was speaking in Tamil, Hindi or English. Kris enquired whether Mandira would be playing the lead role. Mel denied and Kris said he was not interested in the role.

The bigger fool, Sidhu – Mel Gibson met him over three big glasses of Lassi, and decided to hire him as a dialogue writer for a movie Mel decided to direct once he turned insane.

Last heard of Mel, he was enquiring about Indian actresses for the lead female role eventually played out by Dalia Fernandez. Mallika was the universal choice suggested by many. Mel asked her if she had any inhibitions about wearing Mayan clothes (typical to clothes worn by pygmies). Mallika immediately replied that she would not waste time even on wearing Mayan clothes and would get on the job without them too. Wisely, Mel decided against her.

He went back to Latin America. Found Rudy Youngwood and Dalia Fernandez from Mexico and the rest as they say is ‘history’

P.S – If you want to watch blood, forest landscapes and learn a bit about wrong history, do watch the movie. Just kidding. It is brilliantly done, although I would have loved our Indian actors in it. Then, I would have recommended it as a must-watch 🙂

In Memory of Saugat Jit!!

I never ever thought that I would get to write an obituary of one of my closest friends on my blog. Saugat Jit was a person, aged 25, one of the brightest colleagues I have worked with – he met with an accident today morning and passed away in the hospital.
I guess the first job, first company and the first team you have worked with would always be dear to your heart. Saugat was one of the first team members I was introduced to in the Bank. We hit on like we had known each other for a very long time. He was bubbling with enthusiasm almost all the time – either at work, play or at home – making him one of the employees everyone loved to work with-colleagues, bosses or the customers. We have had innumerable rides on his bike and I for one still believe that he was one of the safest riders I had ever pillioned on. He was very conscious of his image, what with his big, strong biceps to go along with his short and stocky physical stature. He had an extremely short temper, but he would greatly surprise you with his calmness and smile the very next moment.
The bosses at the Bank had immense faith in him, as he had executed almost every task given to him to perfection. He was a dedicated and an intelligent employee, every organisation would have loved to possess.
Will miss you buddy, memories of all the breakfast and lunch sessions we had had everyday together for over 20 months just flooded in front of my eyes when the news came to me. It was plain unbelievable.
May your soul rest in peace!

Friday the 13th!!

The conversation went on and on. On Friday the 13th, X and his friend were discussing about friends, relatives and life in general over the past two hours. X was getting restless with each minute. It was already 4’o clock and only an hour remained before he could meet her. In the meantime, he had to rush back home, take a shower and rush to Coffee Day which was 30 min from his place. He had tried helplessly to close the conversation for over 15 min now, and yet there was no finish in sight. X reached his limit – he looked at his watch and said “Buddy, gotta rush back home, have some important work before I fly back tonight”. His friend became speechless, more so because he could not offer any counter argument to continue the conversation. X rushed as fast as he could from that place. He decided between boarding a bus or an autorickshaw and decided on the latter considering the circumstances. He rushed back home, evaluating his options of reaching Coffee Day on time versus the excuses he could offer, if he was 10 min late. He was lost in all the mushy thoughts of meeting and talking to her. He never left the city before meeting her, atleast for an hour or so and inspite of an extremely short trip, he had squeezed this schedule, and there was no way he would be late to the date.

He finished his shower and put on his favorite shirt. Just then, the phone rang. It was her. X thinking within himself ‘No way, she would be early to a date. Am I dreaming? She never came on time and now this…WOW’. The smile turned into a smirk, it was the usual excuse. She would late by half an hour. Her manager had held her up with some ‘important’ work. I sometimes wonder why she doesn’t just show the finger to me. Every time and all the time, being late had become the order of the day. He slowed down all his activities and more importantly his heartbeat.

On the other hand, she was as restless as he was. She was all enthusiastic to meet him from the day he promised he would meet her. She wore a dress which he always loved and admired, along with her favorite perfume. She had completed all her work by afternoon itself so that there wouldn’t be any inordinate delay. She consciously avoided eye contact with her manager all day for obvious reasons. Then, the inevitable happened. A report had to be submitted to the management by end of day and she HAD to do it. She cursed her manager profoundly, she cursed herself and she cursed her company. She didn’t want to be late this time around atleast. She had planned everything and now this. This was bad but she had no choice. His voice at the other end made her fell all the more sad and downtrodden.

She boarded the bus half an hour post the scheduled time comforting herself in the feeling that it was only half an hour’s delay and not an hour. In her innumerable travels back home from her office, it usually took only one hour with the driver honking continuously and screaming his bus over multiple potholes and Coffee Day was only half an hour from her office. She felt smug at the feeling of meeting him after a long time. But as the bus proceeded towards her destination, clock seemed to tick by very fast. The driver was in an unusually good mood, driving the bus with leisure and pleasure. Half an hour ticked by and they were not even half way through to her destination. She sent three messages to him in space of 15 minutes. ‘dear, boarded the bus now, should be there in half an hour’. ‘dear, caught up in traffic and the bloody driver is drunk – he seems to be happy today, will be delayed by 15 minutes’. ‘sweetheart, am so sorry, am reaalllyyy very sorry, 15 minutes or nothing, I am gonna kill this driver ba***** today’ and hoped that he would not be really upset.

He was waiting near Coffee day for 15 minutes before the first message came by. He didn’t know what he could do for 30 minutes. There was no Crossword around where he could browse through some books. His phone was on roaming for him to chat with another friend, neither was any shopping mall in sight. So he did the obvious, stared into infinity and occasionally looked at pretty girls with spaghettis and minis walking past. He enjoyed the delay. However, with every 15 minutes, he was getting increasingly frustrated. He wished he had met her at her office itself.

Her bus finally arrived at the traffic signal immediately preceding her destination. She just wished she could just jump out of the bus and run to meet him. She decided wisely against it and in the meantime, the signal turned green. She got down quickly as soon the bus came to a halt. There she was, looking at him from a distance wearing a white shirt with blue jeans. She was overwhelmed. He looked at her getting down from the bus. She was wearing his favorite dress – a cream t-shirt and a black skirt. He was overjoyed to say the least. As she came closer, he wanted to hug her and give her a peck. He decided against it as she usually did not like public display of affection. He restrained his emotions, but his delight could be seen in his eyes. Her perfume smelt quite a way from her and he was in a different world altogether. She rushed straight to him, hugged him and gave him a peck. X was dumbstruck with happiness and glee. She took his hand and rushed into Coffee Day, uttering many expletives on the driver, traffic and life in general. He was just too happy to hear what she was saying. X felt the delay and the effort worth it. Now, he thought, they would talk for an hour, an hour of bliss and happiness. She rambled off to glory, with all the delight in the world. For an hour, she would not think of anything or anyone else except him – and so she thought.

She was woken up by her mother. It was already 9’o clock in the morning and she would be late to office. It was Friday the 13th.

Motorola L6i and Canon A530

Two buys this weekend – one was forced and the other planned. As my previous blog indicates, I finally bought a mobile phone (which was forced) and a digicam (which was planned). Both of them were bought after a lot of research and peer review. After couple of days of intense use, here I present a review on both.

Motorola L6i – Well, any mobile is defined by the requirements of the user along with the budget he has. My major requirement was phone along with a basic level of camera. FM and MP3 were not a priority as I already had a mp3 player. With my limited budget (of Rs. 5k), I went about searching for different models, reviews on Net and reviews from friends.
Now for my review. This model has excellent speaker quality along with an user interface which is comparable to higher end models of Motorola. The VGA camera is quite good with a functionality of exposure on the pic (-4 to +4), although the pics are not comparable to the ones in megapixel. However, this one is much better than VGA cameras of its competitors. With Bluetooth functionality added in, this one is helluva value-for-money. I hope it stands up on reliability for a long time. I guess there is only one hiccup however – the battery needs to be charged almost every day, which can be quite a pain. Other than that, with the sleekness, the looks and the functionalities, I would recommend this to anyone anyday, as long as they are a bit tolerant towards the battery life.

Canon A530 – This one involved a lot of research for over two months. Peer review almost universally recommended Canon over Sony (Sony, it seems are much better at handycams). Within Canon, I was looking for a bit of flexibility in terms of my snaps as well as good picture quality. Budget was not much of a constraint here, although I was very clear that I would not be going for a SLR.
A530 fit in almost all my requirements. After using it for more than 2 days now, should admit am completely satisfied with the product. With a 5 megapixel and 4X optical zoom along with the price tag of Rs 11k, it is brilliant. Some of the features which I love –
1) Stitch functionality – A landscape can be broken into different snaps and can be stitched later in the laptop. Although I used this functionality before in other cameras, the difference and disturbance used to be visible. Take a look at this stitched photograph of Infy campus from the terrace of my house – the difference is negligible (zero in fact). I should experiment on the number of snaps that can be stitched yet, but the first stitched photograph involving three pics is great.
Before Stitching –

After Stitching –

2) Manual Option – My best option in the camera. Although other cameras claim to have a manual option, 70% of it is already programmed. However, in this camera, almost every setting can be tweaked to suit the requirement. Right from Shutter speed, aperture, brightness, ISO, image quality and many others – the feature is outstanding; and the best part being after clicking a photograph it switches back to the initial setting, making every pic customizable.
3) Optical viewfinder – I am not sure, but then I saw a majority number of cameras without the viewfinder. I used to use this quite frequently in other cameras (my friend’s :)) and am fairly comfortable. If anyone is low on batteries, this one is the best solution to save on batteries as well as have some snaps. Wonder what those digicam guys are thinking about removing this viewfinder from their digicams?
4) SCN option – This one is found in other cameras as well, but the range is excellent. From Colour Accent to Pets to Snow, it covers all. I guess more usage would let me fine tune it.
The major feature I did not like is the delay between one pic and another. 1 second – and this is the timeframe between a bird sitting on a porch and about to fly away – that crucial one second. Flash photography was never the claim, but a second is too long. Kodak has one digicam (I dont remember the brand though) where the delay was absolutely nil (though costed around 15k). Hopefully Canon would fix this in the future. All in all, a camera, 1GB card and soft case for 11k seems reasonable for a camera with multitude of features and great picture quality (unless prints are big, I dont think it wud make a difference between a 3.5 megapixel and a 7 megapixel camera).
More pics to come in the blog…and as usual only the best would be put up. Experimental pics would be the first one to be put up although my interest lies with landscapes. Smile please!! 🙂

A week without a mobile phone!!

It is surprising how one gets attached to mundane things like a mobile phone. A device which I had bought couple of years earlier (a Sony Ericsson T230), a device which just had to serve the purpose of communication wherever I am, an instrument which neither had a camera nor a bluetooth but basic functionalities of a mobile phone – it was my constant companion over these two years day and night, serving me in innumerable ways. I had become so attached to it, that once I lost it a week ago, stupor hit me. I went numb for a little while thinking about all the phone contacts with my mobile. Cost was not much of a factor, because the depreciation of the phone was close to zero. The phone contacts were priceless.
On my way back home the same day, the first instinct was to buy a mobile phone immediately – a typical knee-jerk reaction. However, I pondered and decided that I would do without the mobile for a week. Reasons were multiple – the main being I loved the challenge of staying away from something I was so deeply attached with. This challenge was enticing and exciting (partly becoz nowadays there is no challenge(work) at office). I decided to go ahead with my plan. Challenging myself like this on numerous occassions has helped me immensely – both mentally and psychologically. Probably the challenge in resisting something you are attached with remains probably for a day or two. Subsequently, it magically disappears.
Some of my friends were very frustrated of not able to contact me – some of them on mail quoted – ‘What is wrong with you, why the **** are you not buyin a mobile phone?’, ‘abbey *******, jaldi khareed na!’ and others which I cannot quote at all. Yet, in the midst of all these chaos, I felt immense calm. I did not have to worry about missed calls and messages while in a meeting, nor worry about messages about the stock market, which would have sent me in a headspin. Calm and Peace – two words you could have associated with me over the past week.
A week passed by. In the meantime, I had to scurry through reviews and websites regarding the mobile phone. I finally decided on one and bought it day before yesterday. A review of my mobile phone and digicam I bought the same day in the next blog. The process has started of putting in place my phone contacts. Hopefully should not take long.

Pic of my mobile – here goes
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