Sunday, July 31, 2005

Water World

I guess many of you must be reading a lot of personal stories caused by the deluge in Mumbai. The highest recorded rainfall in India, ever. Even as I blog, Mumbai is threatened by another lashing of heavy rains.

Have been reading everywhere about the mumbai chaos.... ppl getting married over mobile phones :-) The people behind the wireless technologies must be feeling so happy now. I remember I had a chat with an elderly man in a train, about a month ago. I told him that I work on wireless technologies/products. He then told me that he used to work for the railways, sending messages using morse code. He then had some doubts as to how secure the current wireless standards are, as compared to his time. I tried to clear some of his doubts. He then smiled and said that technologies will always be there but ultimately they are used to meet the same goal. To make life easier for people.

Ok back to mumbai. Both my sisters are currently in Mumbai. My elder sister Natasha will be migrating to Australia on 5th August. So my mom had made plans to go to mumbai on the 30th of July. However due to rains all trains have been cancelled till the 6th of August. During the first deluge she was desperately trying to get thru but all phone lines were jammed. She actually fell sick and stuff :-)

She finally managed to sneak into mumbai by air yesterday, after being diverted to Goa for some time. If it was me I would have tried to cancel my ticket and woud have stayed on in Goa for some time :-) My sister tried in vain to explain to her to come later on. But I guess thats what the doctor ordered. I li'l bit of exercise :-) I saw people complaining on TV that the prices for water, taxis, basic needs etc etc have shot up in water world. Come to think of it we all do the same thing. "Pay me more cause the other company is paying higher or I'll leave" :-) esp in the IT industry in Bangalore.

Also these news channels are going a bit over board with stories... They want to be the first to air the spicy stories. There was this Air India plane (AI 111) which was scheduled to go from Mumbai to London. However there was some technical snag with the flaps of the wings. They were not working and the engines were heating up or something. They had to have an emergency landing at Delhi. The news channels were into "Breaking news" mode... They were giving minute by minute updates on the situation. "They are 4-5 fire brigades on standby". etc etc... The news channels were trying their best to spice things up. "Hello.... Firebrigades would be standard procedure". They were unnecessarily causing tension for ppl in mumbai.... c'mon tell Mumbai after the plane lands. Finally the plane landed safetly. Nothing happened. The news reporter was like,"err I didn't see smoke but I just got news that the plane landed safetly". Yeah he was actually sad that there was no smoke. His face went pale, as if he wanted something more to happen. He just wanted a story... What he needed was one tight slap :-)

Media, technology are individually just a means to an end. It is not an end in itself.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Roomies day out

Paramesh used to work with me in Cisco. He was my neighbour at work. We then went on to become flatmates, gym mates, and trip mates. He used to be an evangelist for Linux until he jumped to Microsoft, and shifted to hyderabad.

We have been on some nice trips together. Like the unplanned one to Kodaikanal. Ayush, my other rommie had joined us. On the way we met some 7 other guys who Ayush knew from some IIT training classes. We bunked together in a rest house that had exactly 10 beds. Had loads of fun. The next day, the 3 of us found ourselves on our way to Madurai. We finally landed up spending some time on Swami Vivekananda's rock in the middle of the ocean in Kanyakumari. It is not the southern most point of India as most people think. Been on some other trips with him like the one to Kudremukh etc.

We used to gym together too. Manish, our other roomie had decided to join us but he ended up in hospital :-) He started again after sometime. Param has a senti side too. There was this time we were watching Stephen Spielberg's AI. Param had tears in his eyes at the end :-) Decided not to show him any of the real senti movies. He then got friendly with his childhood friend who is now a journalist. She told him that if he asked her father for any rice mills, she would kick his butt :-) He also built a miniature house and stuff for her out of icecream sticks. We had to parcel it to Delhi.

Present Day: Param got a transfer to Seattle and had come to bangalore to say his 'tata', 'bye bye' to everyone. Manish, Param and myself decided to meet over lunch. Ayush couldn't join us cause of work. We chatted about old times, future plans etc. He has made some more progress on the journalist front too. Met her parents and stuff. However they are of different castes so there is some initial negative reaction from both parents. He knows things will work out though. I asked him what caste she is from. He said ,"I don't know", and smiled. Will be there for your marriage dude.

Had come across this poem on the web a couple of years back.

Once upon a time
Once upon a time
Or so the story begins
They lived happily ever after
Or so the story ends
And the stuff in the middle
Is pretty much the same
As star-crossed lovers
Overcome some seemingly
Insurmountable obstacle
To get from Once Upon A Time
To Happily Ever After
Leaving me to wonder
Whether the love begat the obstacle
Or the obstacle begat the love

- Copyright 2002, by Joseph Rohrbach

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

26 on the 26th

It was that time of the year. I was about to turn a year older so I decided to share my sorrows with some friends. Since the number of friends seemed to be more than my sorrows I started to wonder what to do. I really wanted to do something nice so I ended up sending out an email.

The Invitation:

Please keep yourselves free this Sunday evening (24th July). And if you can manage to do that then drop by my place for dinner. The reason.... Well music's in the air etc etc... do you really need a reason... for those who need one here are two...

Ab tak chabees: ... and still counting.
I'll be 26 on the 26th...

Ab tak paanch: ... and still counting.
uhem.. I have made a lot of money from referral bonuses. Others go thru the grind by giving and taking the interview and I make some money on the side :-) Some even claim that I'm gonna build a house with all the bonuses :-)

Now the Big Plan:
I was planning to take you all out to Leela Palace but then we would be scattered over a number of tables. So I have decided to call you home :-) phew.
I was also planning to cook but then realized that I can't. Don't worry... we'll think of something.

The Place:
My home
the place I sleep



7:30pm .... till the building ppl call the police.

Repondez s'il vous plait. Not a reply all please.
Cause I need to plan. Yeah things like cleaning the house. Removing the clothes from the sofa so that ppl can actually sit on it etc etc...

c ya,

There you go. Nice and easy. Hmmm.... As I sat there in my chair staring at the email for a few moments it finally hit me. "Yikes I have just 2 days to go. We also have a release to make at work. Are they all gonna fit in the house." I then quickly rechecked my mental picture of all of them stuffed inside my place and gave it a nod. Called up my cousin and appraised her of the situation I had put myself into. She willingly agreed to take care of ordering the food. She also said that she would bake a cake for me :-) So the plan is that people come, chat, eat and go. "Hmmmm... Nah.. how boring." Maybe I should try to channelise they energies to lift up the tempo. What would my Dad do.... Games :-) Yup, my Dad always comes up with nice games. Called my parents up and asked them to send me some ideas.

The next day went by quickly in getting a lot of office work done. My Mom sent some ideas for some games. Slept on them. However was still not getting that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you know the mission will be accomplished. The next day I landed up at my cousin's place to go to the lady just down her road, who prepares some nice food. However her daughter had just delivered so she was unable to deliver. We went to someone else but that person was not at home. Yikes. We then went to a third place and they said they would deliver. I then rushed to office to complete some more work. After that I decided to work on some games. I just had to get that warm fuzzy felling. I then started to think of what my friends would like. Googled for ideas. Finally thought of a game that I just knew everyone would enjoy. However it was too much of work to prepare, so I decided to drop it. After some more thought I decided to go for it. Spent quite some time on it.

The next day we had a herculean task of cleaning the house. After that went out with my roomie Ayush to get some of the shopping done. Finally with only the food left I decided to take a half an hour nap. Called the food ppl and they give me a heart attack by saying that there is no order in that name. We finally picked up the food and then it began to pour. Finally everything went off well. Phew. Tired but with a smile on my face I finally went to sleep. C'mon.. I mean I went days without sleep. Its a good thing I used to sleep at night though :-)

Today alot of friends sent me messages wishing that life be good to me the coming year. Hmmm... Come to think of it people often ask "So howz life been to you?". But somehow its never, "So how have you been to life?". I have often wanted to ask people that, but somehow never have. So today I'll ask myself.

Monday, July 11, 2005

City of Joy

The view from the top is breathtaking. There are trees everywhere. It was to be my first visit to this city, the 'City of Joy'. My sister Sonali was getting engaged to Nikhil. I was to be picked up by Nikhil's friend Teddy.... err Teddy Bear???? Images of him started running through my head just when the airhostess thought I was smiling at her. Incase somehow I did not find Teddy Bear, I was given instructions to tell the taxi guy to take me to Biman Bose's house. The chairman of the Left Front, the ruling party in the state. He lives above Nikhil's parents place. However I met Teddy and we were off. As we moved into the city that has been a nerve centre of intellect, a home to four Nobel laureates, you realise that a lot needs to be done.

At Nikhil's place, his mom took out his sisters wedding album and then all of us became the wedding planners. From the church timings to the reception timings. From the seating arrangements to the dancing arrangements. Err.. sorry... make that from the dancing arrangements to the seating arrangements. Then the guest list. My mom already had her list. Nikhil's mom, aka Aunty Jean, is from our home town. So both the moms began exchanging notes on the guest list... friends, inlaws, outlaws et al. "What about the theme?". Nope... you can't forget the theme. "Whats the theme?". You know, like the colour of the decorations, the bridesmaids dresses, the writings on the walls. Basically a theme idea that can be adapted to your personality, style and most importantly.... budget :-) "Annette, I remember for your wedding there was some nice writings on the wall", says Aunty Jean. My dad had moved into the house just opposite my mom's when he had shifted to Nagpur. After some time they found themselves in a wedding hall with the following writing on the wall. "Ma. He's making eyes at me". My Dad retorts, "Thats why I'm wearing specs now".

We then moved to Aunty Jean's sister, Jackie's place, where we were staying. The balcony overlooked Theatre road. It was next to Park Street where the movie "Parineeta" was filmed. Then I started making plans for painting the town red. My dad was everready. My mom and sister Natasha also signed up, along with Uncle Jeff. The next day the mood was infectitious and the spirit sweeping. We went to Victoria Memorial and the museum. Then an old church nearby. Next to the church was Birla planetarium so we jumped in. There were so many stars in the sky, accompanied by a strong north wind (the fan). The ambience was.... err it was... well what can I say... the mood was infectitious and the spirit sleeping. We then headed home.

In the evening we had a short prayer service followed by a get together at Aunty Jean's place. Later in the night Nikhil narrated the story of the proposal. Phone calls for advice, practise, tension and timing. Airtel must have made some good money that day. Then Aunty Jean narrated some sweet childhood stories of Nikhil. "Sonali also must be having some sweet childhood stories." Then I start. "Yeah like the time she stabbed me with a pencil between my eyes, near the area just above the nose." A piece of lead could be seen behind the skin for nearly 9-10 years before it got assimilated into my body. I used to proudly show it off to people, like a brave soldier wounded in battle. "Thats because you bit me!". She then showed everyone the teeth marks near her thumb. Hmmm.. hu hmmmm. hu hmmm... Dinner.

There was also this time when my eldest sister Natasha hit my hand with a hammer. I was like two years old. Well she says that she doesn't remember anything so here is my version of the story. "Natasha is at an age when children are inquisitive. So she wants to know what happens when you hit your hand with a hammer. I realise what she is upto and start crying, cause I know she will hurt herself. Trust me, I know. I then bravely offer to be the guinea pig and thats that." Mother however claims that I was the one who hit Natasha's hand with a hammer. Now now... who are you gonna believe. My mother or a tiny innocent pure two year old child. Did I say innocent....

The next day the mood was still infectitious, however some spirits were still sleeping. My Dad and I made the plans. My mom decided to join in, just to make sure we don't get lost. First it will be like, "Where do you want to go now. Let it be. Don't go." After the plans are finalised it will be like, "I also want to come". I decided to let her join us cause of her umbrella, which had provided me much refuge from the sun the previous day. I mean I could have borrowed the umbrella but then again its nice if there is a woman along with you, under a flowery umbrella. After some site seeing we went to Mother's home, the house of 'The Missionaries of Charity'. Although the visiting hours had passed they allowed us to enter as we told them that we were from out of town. There is a 'Missionaries of Charity' in Nagpur, close to our place. My dad recently performed one of his magic shows out there. We visited Mother Teresa's grave, one amongst millions who discovered the human potential to make any city, the 'City of Joy'.

In the evening was the engagement. After a short prayer service which was again captured in 8mm by my dad, they were officially engaged. The cake was in the shape of a calendar showing the wedding date. Everyone got a smaller version of the cake, complete with the calendar. Neat. We then played a game where we were to guess the words of a sentence where only the first alphabet was given. Something like "7 D of the W" would be "7 Days of the Week". Uncle Jeff and I were the first to give in our papers. We would have won if not for just one which went "1000 Y in a M". Thats easy "1000 yards in a mile". Ok stop laughing... we were technically correct. 1000 yards may not be equal to a mile but there are "1000 (plus a few more) yards 'in' a mile". At the end everyone was declared a winner. However I have a theory. Nikhil's Dad, Uncle Danny, had come up with the game. It had some clues like, "39 B of the O T", "27 B of the N T", "66 B of the B", which stand for "39 Books of the Old Testament", "27 Books of the New Testament", "66 Books of the Bible". They were nicely spaced out. Maybe the intention was to check out our Bible knowledge. Especially after the violent childhood stories I thought were sweet :-) BTW Uncle Jeff got the ones about the 39 and 27 books. I'm good at Maths so I got the 66 one.

About our sibling wars, well we were just being ourselves. When you are small you forget about it the next day. Unless there are physical scars that remind you about it. As you get bigger sometimes it takes just a little bit longer. This time around the scars need not be physical. I'm sure there must have been many sibling fights that very same day in some corner of the world. But come to think of it, "A brotherly fight, a sisterly scream. For some these treasures of life are just a far-fetched dream." These are one of the few things that make any city the 'City of Joy'.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Wars of the Worlds

Landed up at Rohan and Pooja's place, the movie marathon runners. They have a record of watching 3 movies in a single day. Or was that 4. Well I've heard of pub hopping but cinema hopping?? Today the humble plan was to watch just one. 'The War of the Worlds'. A movie where some ipods are trying to take over the world. Wait... iPods... thats a different war in a different world. In that world there are some who want to have windows in anything and everything. Then there is a tiger thats on the prowl hoping to woo everyone with its sleek looks, elegant movements and sturdy body. Will the halo effect of the iPods help to win the war. Boot, search, crash, boom, bang! The battle continues.

Back in moviedom there were these tripods trying to take over the world. There were some good special effects but the movie was definately not scary. Well thats not what the guy next to me thought. He was like all pale and stuff??? His eyes transfixed to the screen, with his hands covered over his ears. "Hear No Evil". I chose to cover my eyes, giggling, "See no Evil". Pooja too was goofing around and had no other option but to cover her mouth, "Speak No Evil".

The interval. There was already a war brewing between Pooja and Rohan about a certain brownie, topped with ice cream and nuts. Either Rohan or Pooja thinks that she is getting fat. I haven't figured that one out yet. Rohan turns to me, "Do you think she is fat". Time stops. "HELLO!!! Don't you guys have a mirror at home". "Then use it". "Why me (sob sob)". "Will you beat me up if I say yes". "Will you beat me up if I say no". Both of them were still looking at me for an answer. Pooja was sitting besides me. "Nah". At times like this tell a story. "There is this friend of mine in a world far far away. She got married sometime back. She sent me some of their travel snaps after a pretty big gap. I reply saying the snaps are nice. She replies asking me if I noticed how much weight she had put on. I then went on to give her some advice on how to shed the extra fat." "Rule no 1. Don't diet. Never diet. Once you are off the diet your body will store more fat to be prepared for future such drops in food intake. Even if you lose weight you might end up causing some permanent damage." "Rule 2. Run. Exercise. You won't put on muscle if you follow the proper schedule." "And Rule 3. If anything backfires don't hunt me down". Short and sweet. Pooja, for the record, you are not fat. And Rohan, give her the brownie!!

Now Pooja also had a story to tell. Her face all lit up. I thought you just covered your mouth a few moments ago saying "Speak No Evil". Well this was not evil at all. It was pure. Pure entertainment :-) Anyways its a story about the world of my roomie Ayush. Also a movie marathon runner. Infact they set the record together. Well, Pooja and Rohan's 6 month wedding anniversary was the previous week. I was out of town. They called up Ayush, to go out for dinner. He tells them that he can't make it as he has some other 'commitments'. Ayush got engaged (not officially) sometime back and his fiancee, Pallavi, had just come into town. So he is sitting there, all starry eyed, typing an sms, "Hi Darling. How are you. I am with my Uncle having dinner." As the message is teleported through space and time, the world around him seems to move more slowly. Then he gets a reply. "Hi Darling. I am fine. I am also having dinner. With my husband". Arre Ayush what is this!!! Pallavi are you listening. "aaj Pooja kal koi duja". Ok ok.. it was not evil at all. It was pure. Pure faux pas.

I can imagine Ayush, a few moments earlier, pressing the send button. Then the realization of the same. After a debounce time of a few milliseconds the circuitry in the phone comes alive and starts to send signals in all directions, but in a controlled manner. "Maybe if I remove the battery the message won't go!!!", his heart still pounding. Maybe it will, cause of the capacitance leakage current that may have still been driving the radio components. This capacitance leakage current can be a very nasty thing. Especially in places where they tell you to, "SWITCH OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONES!!!". So don't just go and remove the battery and put it back in, thinking that everything is off. It may just start ringing during a play, when you are seated in the first row. uhem.

The movie ended. But for Rohan and Ayush the War of the Worlds had just begun :-) I really enjoyed the 'Wars' of the Worlds. I think it should get an Oscar.