Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dr. Stephen Hawking sends a message to Yahoo! Answers community

The comic that started it all, scanned for your convenience.
Last day of indignation!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

CRC Error

Computer #1 was special.

  • Since it was right next to the door, it was the first computer the school principal got a sneak peak of when she decided to snoop around. This was too high a risk for most of my classmates since they would prefer playing games and tinkering with PC Tools. Since I was never interested in games, this wasn't ever an issue. I found the DEBUG.EXE prompt far sexier than the stupid Prince of Persia. And since Assembly Language looked boring and 'academic' enough on screen, no one ever grew suspicious of my intentions.
  • This was the only PC with a color monitor though the resolution was awful and you could literally count the pixels on your fingers. I found the other displays revolting, especially the Green Amber ones. I loved using the ANSI.SYS device driver to color the DOS screen. Only few friends knew the trick and we would love endlessly teasing others for their ignorance.
  • Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) Error mysteriously surfaced at arbitrary moments of the usage of this machine. No one knew what triggered it or how to deal with it. Once hit by the error, the machine would freeze completely and even a cold boot couldn't be initiated. The only solution was to reach out for the black switch at the rear end! No one liked his work being washed away all of a sudden for no apparent reason. But since I had more patience than even the laziest of Chess players, I was more than willing to be allocated this machine.

But eventually even my patience ran out. I developed CRC phobia. I loathed it, I researched it, I tampered with the OS, I messed with the system configuration, nothing worked. What could be so redundant about my machine? What was it that the blessed machine was doing again and again? Why the hell did it bother with the checks anyway, which, to my mind, was itself redundant in the first place? All this remained a mystery that still remains unresolved.

The Ghost of Redundancy has returned to haunt me. Firefox's ever-expanding memory footprint is giving me nightmares. I'm currently using a beta and find that the snag has yet to be resolved. I'm happy that my constant espousal of the rival web browser has helped defect some of my colleagues from the IE camp. But I've now been repeatedly telling them not to use it for too long continually since other applications would then suffer because of memory leaks. I'm discovering of late, much to my embarrassment, that I've grown redundant in issuing these warnings. So each time I offer the same warning to the same guy about the same issue, I'm stopped on my tracks before history repeats itself. Yes, I must stop at once.

Yet another fallout of having a bad memory.
My new office tag-suspender is so light, it keeps swinging wildly like a yo-yo when I walk. And when the tag finally rests, it almost always does so on the flip side!

Here's a thought. Maybe I should take up catwalking to stop all the swinging.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sex & the City

Could someone please tell why didn't our forefathers have anything better to do than to chant holy hymns during the day and endlessly copulate during the night? And they didn't even bother to cross breed at that, condemning our gene-pool to steady degeneration. Why the hell couldn't they occupy their minds with other things?

The population in India is a real pain. Everywhere you go, there are people staring indignantly at you, talking aloud to each other or over the phone, honking, screaming, scheming, threatening, intruding...well, the list is endless. I blame our ultra passionate ancestors for causing all this mess. When resources are limited and people multiply faster than bunnies, there'll obviously be pressure on the land. There's competition for even the most basic things, and even when you occasionally manage to win, your share is considerably dwindled.

The trip from office to home normally takes three quarters of an hour. It took an hour more today. Traffic is really choked and when you have people with little or no civic sense, the situation is aggravated manifold. The BTM stretch is a real pain. The 5 kms took more than half-an-hour to traverse. What's supremely irritating is that the shuttle halted after every few meters. You'll never find vehicles moving in streamlines in India. They'll squeeze into whatever space they find and in whatever direction that is available. Moving ahead by all possible means is the only rule of thumb followed here.

The bus stops are another pain. People at the stops pour heavily onto the roads and this causes additional traffic snarls. I just wish the bus could raze such people. To make matters worse, the tiny autos try all possible means to park at the turnings, thereby reducing visibility and causing a bottleneck. It's a matter of common sense that curvatures should always be cleared as soon as possible since it otherwise leads to jams. But why complain when no one finds that a problem?

In half-a-century of post-independence, India's population had already multiplied 4 times! I guess the only solution to all this unbridled fledgling is a nuclear holocaust or a natural calamity. Guess what, even our national language is sex-obsessed. It affixes a gender to inanimate objects like a typewriter or even a book! No wonder!

Addendum: I know what I've written above is rather semi-racist and derogatory. But it isn't far from the truth and it most certainly isn't wrong. I generally try not to vent my frustration via my blog, but I'm allowed this rare moment of outburst. And I'm not taking my words back.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Parallels

Santosh is inseperable from his mobile, just as a mother is from her newborn baby!
  • When the baby wails, the mother comes to check what's ailing him.
  • When the baby's silent, the mother still comes to check why he's so quiet.

  • When the mobile rings, Santosh jumps at once to the rescue of his phone wondering who on earth could be calling him at such an hour.
  • When the mobile's silent, he still checks to see why the rest of the world has forgotten him.

In fact, Santosh goes a step further. Even though my phone's ringtone is as different from his as a lion's roar is from a diva's cry, he'll instinctively check his phone each time mine rings! The mobile is the last thing he sees before going off to sleep. It's the first thing he sees when he wakes up in the morning. The maternal instincts are strong!


Really, I must stop making Santosh the butt of all my jokes!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

PwC

Didi revealed the name of the company that bagged Deep during the campus placements in Jadavpur University: PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Good going, Deep! I'm so proud of you. Now if you'll only tell me how you intend to use your knowledge of Chemical Engineering once you start working!

BTW, the first company to have visited the campus (no, it's not PwC) this year holds a very special place in my heart!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Peeved

Last Friday, I had asked for a train ticket to be booked for the 1st of Sept. It came as a rude shock to me today when I realized that the booking office had conveniently forgotten to do the needful. After scrambling for over half an hour, they realized that there had been a slip. To matters matters worse, no more tickets for the said date are available now.

In desperation, I've asked the erring folks to get me tickets for the 8th. I'll be grateful and pleasantly surprised if at all they can deliver on their promise this time. What's more worrying is that I'm not very sure if my new vacation schedule will be approved in the first place.

How can people take their responsibilities so lightly? All my plans are now at risk because of the oversight of a few guys who just didn't attach much importance to their duties. I've had it with these booking offices. A similar experience in Pune has now shaken my belief in travel agents. Technology is more reliable than people and I now intend to book my tickets directly via the Net.

Really, you can't whip an ass and expect it to run like a horse. My frustration and exasperation are shooting through the roof.

Sonia


So social networking does it again! Sonia & I had been out of touch for quite some time before losing contact altogether. Thanks to Orkut, she was able to trace me to my blog and finally to my Yahoo! Messenger id. It was wonderful chatting with her after so long a while & we still have a lot of catching up to do. I truly miss my most adorable and ambitious cousin!

Sonia, how are you adjusting to life in India?!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Eccentric Pluto pays the price


I was a sixth grader then and babes weren't yet on my list of interests. What caught my fancy instead was a scientific calculator that I spotted in a shop, and Dad bought it for me the very next morning. I was in love with mathematics all over again! It worked in many modes, my favorite being Stat (for Statistics). I was yet to get acquainted with the virtues of standard deviation and root mean square, but the calculator helped escalate my interest in this strange branch.

What I loved even more was Astronomy. And if you could provide me with statistical facts on stars and planets, I was on fire! Even my otherwise poor memory couldn't fail me on the numerical facts about heavenly objects. I created and pasted a chart on the wall that listed the the numerical facts about the nine planets and consulted them when in doubt. I especially loved verifying Kepler's laws of planetary motion, the 3rd being my favorite. raising the numbers to required powers was child's play with my calculator.

There was once a quiz contest held in our school. Though I wasn't a participant, the 'correct' answer declared by the quiz master (who happened to be one of my favorite teachers) when one of the participating teams failed to come up with the expected one perplexed me no end. The question was: Which is the smallest planet in the solar system? The team to which the question was posed correctly answered Pluto. I was stunned when the answer was shot down. The correct answer, it was declared, was Mercury. NO WAY! I couldn't be wrong on that. I spent the rest of the day in endless tumult. My friends couldn't shed much light on the anomaly. I was the leading light on the subject, how could I possibly consult others?!!

On reaching home after dispersal, I dashed straight for my trusted chart. There it was:

  • Diameter of Mercury: 4800 kms
  • Diameter of Pluto: 2300 kms

I was indeed right! I had to be! So the poor team had paid the price for the quizmaster's ignorance! What could have been the source of such misinformation? I was suspicious of my Geography book. I flipped through its pages and there was the culprit! Pluto's diameter was wrongly listed, making it larger than Mercury's. When Pluto was discovered in 1930, it was so distant that astronomers weren't too sure of its size. They, quiet erroneously, pegged it at a size greater than Mercury's (I don't remember the flawed figure). The flaw remained until it was corrected many years later, although the correction still happened long before our blessed Geography book was published! So why did the book list the wrong data? I flipped to the Publisher's Note which professed countless revisions, re-revisions and complete rewritings by the learned author. Then why was the glaring mistake still listed? Was our omniscient academician so intoxicated by continued royalty the wrong fact was fetching him that he didn't have the heart to set things right, lest his lucky stars should desert him?! Or did he firmly believe Mercury was the smallest planet and should remain so, come what may!

There were more mistakes in the book, one of them being about the Ionosphere. What was stated was so hilarious that it got Dad worked up enough. He set about setting the record straight, and failed. Even Concise Physics wrongly stated that the rising and setting Sun looks larger than normal because of refraction. Actually, it appears slightly smaller because of the refraction! It looks bigger only because of an optical illusion. But even these egregious flaws are dwarfed by some of the things today's kids have to digest. Lalu Prasad is painted as a great saint in history books in Bihar. Elsewhere, a donkey is declared as being better and more faithful companion than a wife. If that's not enough, poems like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep are all set to be deleted from the primary school syllabus in Madhya Pradesh since the government deems them carrying an 'aura of Western culture.' Wow!

Coming back to our story, I was in two minds whether to confront the teacher with the comparative facts between Mercury & Pluto. I figured I would have to bring by precious books to school to prove my point. That was too much to ask from me, I loved my beloved books and wouldn't risk bringing them to school. What if my classmates wanted to borrow them? What if they tore or soiled the pages? What if...? The stakes were too high for me. I now realize how silly, paranoid and possessive I used to be then! Still, I should have done my bit in correcting the mistake.

So why am I recalling all this now? The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has today stripped Pluto of its status as a planet. Recent discoveries had necessitated the inclusion of a few more bodies as planets and apparently the community of astronomers decided that it was time to make the definition a little more stringent so that the continually discovered heavenly bodies didn't automatically qualify inclusion. A clever clause included to deliberately keep Pluto out (and to defeat future ambiguity) was that a planet must ' clear the neighbourhood around its orbit.' Pluto doesn't since its highly eccentric path criss-crosses Neptune's, thus sometimes bringing it closer to the Sun than the latter. In fact, some believe that Pluto may actually be an escaped satellite of Neptune.

Sigh, I feel sorry for the loss. Farewell, Pluto!

Addendum: Scientists at the conference of the IAU showed a soft side, waving plush toys of the Walt Disney character Pluto the dog — and insisting that Pluto's spirit will live on in the exciting discoveries yet to come.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Watermarks of Courtesy

Yet another casualty of the mass recruitment in our company was an unlucky guy who was stranded on the bus aisle today since all the seats were occupied. Or so he thought.

I had managed to capture the rear window seat before it could be lost; vacant seats had suddenly become an endangered species. The guy who comfortably sat beside me by spreading his limbs as far and wide as possible was apparently in no mood to sacrifice the extraneous space as more and more people squeezed in. Finally, only an unlucky individual was left with no seat to call his own. He stood at the rear end of the aisle, close to us. My neighbor, indifferent and not feeling any tug of guilt, plugged his earphones and lost himself to FM. I wasn't too pleased with what I saw, especially since two seats were occupied when only one was needed, robbing a hapless guy of what was his due.

I recalled how Dad would place me on his lap when I was a child during bus rides to accommodate a fellow passenger beside him, although I wasn't too appreciative of this courtesy then. Anyway, I asked my neighbor to slide closer and make space for the guy, a suggestion that was readily put into action. The vacancy was gratefully accepted as the man slumped there and tried to catch a wink or two.

I couldn't help remembering another equally petty incident that had happened one morning when I was walking to the bus stop. A ragged looking vendor was offloading vegetable crates from his two-wheeler when one of them gently brushed against me. The vendor immediately turned to me and humbly offered an apology even though there was no reason to. Such etiquettes are rare. That he was aware of it in the first place was surprising enough. That he actually decided to use it so wholeheartedly was surprising still. He bought me over with his gesture.

Little incidents leave a lasting impression on us. Long term memory is like a camera, freezing ephemeral moments that could easily pass off as ordinary and dispensable otherwise. These are the precious moments that leave behind an indelible imprint on our minds.

One such incident that was constantly recited by Dad almost drove me to insanity! He was attending a party whose details are all lost upon me. A young lad needed to reach out for something that was placed behind Dad. Since it was very crowded and Dad didn't have any space to shift to, he had to slightly duck as the man extended an arm and got what he wanted. No big deal. But it became one when he gently apologized for causing the trouble. The party was evanescent, but the courtesy had a lasting impression.

Such little things are what we often end up treasuring the most. These watermarks of courtesy make us what we are: humans.

Addendum: By the way, there was a short circuit today in the path the bus book took to register our attendance. It took a U turn at the penultimate row (the one immediately ahead of us) and switched to the other side and direction. We heavily jolted rear seaters deserve the miss!

The Lift doesn't Uplift

It drives me nuts when people use the lift to reach a floor that's just one floor above or below theirs. Just how lazy can they get? They don't get much mobility anyway, and when they do get a chance to stretch a little, they'll avoid it. I've come across some crazed folks who habitually halt the lift to go from the first to the ground floor.

I think we should commission a sentry in each lift whose sole purpose would be to crack the whip on such people. I'm sure some public humiliation would go a long way in discouraging this malpractice. If this seems too dramatic, maybe we can reprogram the lift keys to be disabled for the next floor. A more drab but equally effective antidote could be the slapping of a fine.

I'm reminded of a visit to a new shopping mall in Kolkata a few years ago. I was stunned to find people patiently queuing up for the lift. Source: 1st Floor...Target: 0th Floor. The staircase right next to it was wide open and virtually empty. People gain such perverted pleasures from short but free joyrides!

I just wish the shaft would go down right to the centre of the earth and allow the lift a freefall through it, the lazy bones being condemned to eternal detention within.

Rhymer's junked her cretaceous phone for a brand new one. Strangely enough, she looked slightly sombre at lunch...or maybe I was just imagining things. Maybe she's missing her old phone; I sure am!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

We need an additional bus for our route. Some folks didn't get a seat while on their trip back home.

Tell me why

Why is it that my featured posts (like a very recent one) always (& I mean ALWAYS) get the least number of comments? Is it because I stick to frivolous facts and refuse to delve into flowery fiction? Or maybe my posts render my readers speechless!!! Or could be my writing lacks the sway factor.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Heart 2 Heart

Santosh & I had a heart to heart talk tonight. He acknowledged there had been some oversights and that a shakeup was necessary if things were to get better for him. I sincerely hope he sticks to his new agenda. Bangalore can easily veer a simpleton like him off the right track. I have long held that he was losing sight of his priorities at a juncture that could prove most deleterious to him. It's nice that he's finally coming through.

It's very hard to digest condemnation, especially if it often comes by way of the publicly accessible pages of a blog. I just hope Santosh finds his way through the maze of life.
Shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan Passes Away

It shows!

I'm sure the cute receptionist is suspicious of my naughty ideas by now!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Seth & Beethoven

It's a lazy Sunday morning at nine. The Sun is in no mood to show up from beyond the thickly veiled sky. I give in to the ambience and remain reclined, reading Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy and listening to Beethoven's 9th. Clothes that were dumped into the bucket yesterday still lie there. An undergarment may have started bleeding green once again, threatening to dye the shirts. I don't know, I don't care. The wardrobe got a makeover yesterday in lieu of my probe for socks...just preparing the ground for the impending hunt.

Seth's novel revolves around the most important event in the life of an Indian: marriage. Indeed, even the birth of a child or burning the funeral pyre pales in comparison to tying the nuptial knot. Lata (the prima donna) is falling for the charms of Kabir, a guy whose firstname lends enough ambiguity to his religious belonging. Lata is immensely perturbed when her confidante unearths the fact that Kabir is a Muslim, something that could potentially make all hell break loose on her family. She, however, is helplessly drawn to him and offers meek protests to his romantic overtures. Love gradually begins to triumph and Lata is giving in. That's where I am in the novel.

Lata's fledgling yet frail romance coupled with a phone call I received last night made my mind race back in time. Ours is a country of deep divisions and many multiplications. The divisive factors that have stratified our society could be blamed on many evils, the greatest amongst them easily being religion. Hinduism is especially plagued with caste and creed sectarianism, a scourge whose intensity is sometimes lost upon city dwellers. The barriers are chronic and run deep into our psyche. I got a taste of the importance of my caste when I sought temporary lodging in a dharamshala in Jaipur a few years ago. I joined a queue that lead to a counter manned by an old guy in traditional turban and thick glasses. Among the things he documented in his thick and yellowed register was the caste of each entrant. I was flabbergasted and panicked in despair. What the hell was my caste? I had to think quick, there was no time to ponder over the mysteries of why this bit of information was important in the first place. I had a caste, but never bothered to know which one actually claimed me. I began to zero in on a prospective and impromptu caste by applying the theory of negation.

  • Brahmin, I wasn't. I never attended the thread ceremony, I didn't trust any of the countless gods and I knew no hymns.
  • Sudra, I wasn't. I would hate belonging to the lowest caste. Also, I ran the risk of being shown the exit if I expressed my affiliation to the harijan community.
  • Vaishya, I wasn't. I hated commerce. Business is nothing but a glorified term coined by those who made an art out of exploiting the needs of others. I know my thoughts were and still are misplaced, but I'm allowed my mental aberrations. And I'm not a leftist.
  • Kshatriya, though ludicrously contrasting to my timidness, was the only one left on my platter. It seemed the least revolting of all the candidate castes.

So there I was, decidedly Kshatriya. Thankfully, the turbaned man didn't find my newly crafted caste a total misfit on my hapless stature, begging for inexpensive shelter in a strange city heavily steeped in history. I was ushered into my room.

A few days earlier, I had yet another taste of the hollow pride that fills those who have nothing else to feel proud about. The porter in a hotel in Udaipur I had decided to stay in for a couple of days beamed with great pride when he tactfully steered a discussion into the greatest revelation I was about to be let in: he was a Rajput. Rajputs, at least a vast majority of them, were small time worriers who spent most of their time heaping praises upon their lineage and royalty and who would go to any extent (generally verbal) to salvage his blue blood. Petty battles were the mainstay of their existence and their history was marred with mutual quarrels that would sometimes escalate to the rusting sword being pulled out of its scabbard. We've had thousands of such Rajputs, many of whom staked claims to kingdoms no larger than a village. When the British came, these were the very people who tried hard to outdo each other in laying down arms. Of course, this doesn't discount the valour of a select few who indeed deserve most of the merit our overzealous historians sometimes bestow upon them.

Oh well, our porter needs to swell with pride when he recalls the gallantry of his ancestors. I'm sure they must have been the bravest of souls to have ever walked the earth. My humble salutations to the guy who had just conclusively proven his superiority to me.

I was in the campus hostel of BIT, Mesra a few weeks later. Two young lads, perhaps aged around four and eight knocked on my door and demanded alms. And why did they demand, not beg? Oh, they were proud Brahmins and demanding was their birthright. There were more shows (though less spectacular) to follow, like our library being divided into sections that could be accessed by all and those that were exclusively accessible only to the backward castes. My wandering mind settles on the present. The law of the land is reinforcing the caste divides in all walks of life. Educational reservations are all set to get a whooping boost while the corporates will be similarly burdened in a few years.

Running jarringly contrary to these thoughts is the lofty strains of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Often hailed as the greatest piece of music ever composed, the 9th yells of liberty and equality right from the first notes of the first movement to the dying notes of the finale. This masterpiece, much in keeping with Beethoven's own traits, is a non-conformist. The second and third movements seemed to have swapped tempos and spirits while the last is radical because of its pioneering use of the human voice. Beethoven rejected the steady and assured employment of the monarchy, he found the idea of being commissioned to write music suited to the shallow tastes of his employers absolutely abhorring. His thoughts were free, as was his music. No tyranny could chain him, no fantasy could bound him, no pleading could melt him and no praise could flatter him. He never bowed to anyone, just mildly titled his head in acknowledgment. The peerless Goethe was chided for bowing. Even the mighty Napoleon incurred his wrath. He insulted his royal patrons as being nothing more than mere accidents of birth. Arguably no artist before him had had ideas so audacious and avant-garde. His music had scant respect for the laws of tradition.

But even Beethoven couldn't shake off the lure of belonging to the aristocracy. He went to great extents and concocted innumerable fabrications to prove that he was of noble origin. Cheap shot by even the greatest of thinkers! Luckily, all this personal skewness hasn't affected the beauty nor stained the chastity of the Choral Symphony.

Whoa!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mission SokSuk

I've been guilty of neglecting two things in life:

  1. Studies
  2. Clothes

Studies...well, my life is screwed beyond repair and any possibility of undoing all the damage would require a time travel into the past. The chances of that ever happening are rather slim and I've already made peace with my abject existence by now. The Hindu philosophy of nonchalance has come in handy.

But I can certainly do something about my aversion to taking care of my clothes. Bearing the maximum brunt of this constant neglect has been my much trampled stock of socks. They lie strewn all over the floor, in forgotten boxes, between books, behind bags and in places yet to be discovered. They laze around like destitutes neglected, forgotten, overlooked, nibbled at or lost.

A rather disturbing outcome of this state of affair is that socks which should ideally exist only in pairs are increasingly taking to solitary being, partners either eloping with stealth paramours or switching over to the other side of the material barrier. Dark Matter, anyone?

All this was fine initially, I had enough pairs to keep me happy till eternity. Or so I thought. As it turned out, each constituent member of a pair had a different lever of affinity towards me. So while some grudged the constant neglect, their respective partners preached the virtues of patience which in turn must have lead to a lot of discord. The result? I'm now left with too many mismatching pairs. So while I may have had a dozen 'couples' at the advent of my stay in Bangalore, I'm now left with perhaps only four or five pairs, the others now exist only in singles-divorced by their other halves.

Having realized my mistake, I'm now a man with a mission: Mission SokSuk. Come Saturday and I'll probe ever nook and corner of my house to bring disputing couples together. After all, what could be more satisfying than facilitating a reconciliation, especially when I was the one responsible for their parting ways? How consoling it will be, especially for the overused pairs that still stick and stink together.

But what happens if it's mission impossible? The world should then brace itself to deal with me wearing mismatched socks. It's an insult I'm willing to endure. It's an oddity the world must be equally willing to accept. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for now.

Correction

The guy I wrote about the other day in such unflattering terms is apparently a new joinee in our company. So he wasn't really an unauthorized occupant, although I'm still not too sure.

But if this means I'll now regularly be in danger of being partnered with him in the bus, it's time to be sullen.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dhyani called...

to seek details about a romantic liaison! This tripartite mind game is getting very interesting!!

SAVED...

by the skin of my teeth!

I could feel my heart thumping and blood pumping as yesterday's troll squeezed through the narrow aisle and headed my way. Impulsively, I turned into a theist and prayed for mercy. I felt the cool breeze slipping in through the narrow window slit and coaxing my perspiration away as the guy walked past me and occupied a rear seat. What a relief!

As a bonus, my companion seat remained unoccupied through the trip back home. Heavenly forces, I could see, were seeking penance for yesterday mishap. I pardoned just before reverting to my original school of thought.

Duped

Online credit card fraud claims yet another victim in Ashu. Some bright spark has booked air tickets in his name for Rs.22k!

The hapless guy spent harrowing moments over the phone trying to convince Standard Chartered Bank and Air Sahara of the identity theft. I wonder why is it so difficult for our institutions to ascertain the truth when the victim is willing to provide all details needed to authenticate his identity. Do we always need to push this hard to make the lethargic personnel accede to doing some damage control when fraudulent activity is detected?

Well, some progress has been made and the immediate future doesn't look all bleak. The card has already been blocked and it's hoped that the tickets can be canceled once the bank reveals critical purchase details. Oh, such ugly stuff!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Too close for comfort

The after-office bus ride was a pain. Seated next to me was a voluminous guy who wasn't even an employee of our company. He occupied the whole of his seat and a substantial part of mine. I literally had to shrink to accommodate my turgid partner. So overbearing was his presence that I had to struggle to find enough pockets of space for my arms. The fellow could have oriented himself a little towards the aisle so that I could get enough space to breathe; but no, he found me too attractive for that!

My ordeal ended only with my ride. It must have taken me some time to regain my shape after being in a collapsed state for over an hour. How I shudder to think of tomorrow's ride.

But why should unauthorized people be allowed to take the ride in the first place?

BORED

Email, news, lunch, blogs and a training were my only engagements for the day. Even Nilotpal failed to show up.

Spell Check suggestion for Nilotpal: Antidotal (there's some fun!)

An Overdue Overhaul

Google has finally woken up to the fact that Blogger.com is fast becoming an antique of a site. An upgrade was long overdue...and it's coming our way soon! I've checked the beta and find it very pleasant.

Microsoft is doing its bit by launching Windows Live Writer Beta. I've already detected two defects and intimated the development team.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Flatlife

It's beautiful!

Jonas Geirnaert graduation project "FLATLIFE" (2004), selected for Short Films in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2004.
Watched Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna in the afternoon. Enjoyed it (though I fell asleep in the middle game!) even though the other folks weren't too appreciative of it. I guess the melodrama could have been a little less. Still, I'm impressed by Bollywood's expanding canvas.

Happy Independence Day!

That's the message I SMSed some of my friends (maybe around 12:10 am) and some of them did bother to reply. Samir called from Mumbai. I couldn't help lamenting how dull life had become as compared to our BIT days. Ironically, I loathed those days as well when I was doing my post-graduation! It's high time I changed my disposition.

Himanshu called in the morning to confirm my identity. Each time I message him, he has no idea who is the sender. His excuse this time was that he had lost his mobile recently.

I decided to use the occasion as an excuse to have chicken for lunch. A visit to the slaughterhouse was all it took to make me repent my decision. Still, the ghastly deed of murdering the poor thing just to satiate my greed was accomplished with the swift hacks of the butcher's. The place was no prettier than a crematorium and I'll never forgive myself for my guilt. I promise I'll refrain from a repeat act as much as possible. But no matter what penance I exercise, my crime will never be washed away. The only thing good that came of it was that it was an eye-opener.

I returned with a heavy heart, the trip being made briefly lighter as I picked the aromatic trail of a very beautiful lady. On reaching home, I discovered that the taps were dry. Engaged myself with some surfing.

And I couldn't buy a tricolor even though I wanted to.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Amazing

I'm amazed by how some guys extricate a perverted sense of pleasure by feeling offended by even the most subtle chides. Do people really have to take generic attacks personally? Instead of learning from their mistakes and proudly (or even sheepishly) owning up to them, they'll bravely protect their flawed turfs like a citadel.

I know the feeling since I was an emotional wreck as a child. Even the slightest provocation would trigger a steady stream of tears. How silly I was! But I learned the hard way that taking offense to unkind words doesn't necessarily pay. I grew up and managed to jettison many of my faulty traits.

I guess some people never learn. My earphones doubled up today as perfect earplugs and helped drown the pitiable verbal attenuations of a mistake (very minor) with Mozart's Symphony #38!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Vanishing CDs

Now people have taken the liberty of using my blank CD-ROMs without even seeking my permission or acknowledging having ever used them. It's tantamount to stealing and I just don't understand why it's impossible for some folks to learn the basics of ethics and etiquettes. Just how humiliating does it feel to ask? The only CDs that remain are the ones I've already used.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I'm in the office well past my scheduled time of departure not because I have to but because I'm neutral to the suggestion now. I don't know what, but I'm certainly missing something in life. Is this a crisis of objectives?

Magic Anodyne

My backache is almost completely gone...though traces of it sill linger. Was yesterday's bumpy bus ride the reason for this? I got a back massage for free!

Monday, August 07, 2006

My back still aches...

...which is why it perhaps wasn't a good idea to occupy the rear seat in our big company shuttle. But never ever has the shuttle been so sparsely populated & I was spoilt for choice and settled on what usually is the most frowned upon seat. The wobbling was great fun, although it did add to my pain. Even perfectly smooth roads produced amplified jerks, something that was most apparent when signing the bus book. I even loved my quirky voice as I tried to steady it through the wobbles. I used to do it so often as a kid, it was such great fun then! My voice was a lot more subdued now as I tried to keep it to myself.

It's amazing how the roads of Bangalore remain jammed even late at night. I can see the downside of whatever success that may have come our way. We earn a better pay to live a better life but end up relinquishing the most precious commodity of all: Time. Wonder when we'll see through the futility of our urban ways.

It was almost 10 when I reached home. Santosh was walking in shifting spirals on the terrace, perhaps talking to someone over the phone. I changed, spied my slippers in a hidden alcove I didn't use to leave them in the morning, powered the PC...& posted this entry!

Ouch!

My back hurts.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Each time I wash my clothes, I skin my fingers and develop a temporary stoop!

The Lure of 72 Virgins!

Excerpts from an article by Ibn Warraq that originally appeared in The Guardian on 12th Jan, 2002:

In August, 2001, the American television channel CBS aired an interview with a Hamas activist Muhammad Abu Wardeh, who recruited terrorists for suicide bombings in Israel. Abu Wardeh was quoted as saying: "I described to him how God would compensate the martyr for sacrificing his life for his land. If you become a martyr, God will give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness." Wardeh was in fact shortchanging his recruits since the rewards in Paradise for martyrs was 72 virgins.
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What of the rewards in paradise? The Islamic paradise is described in great sensual detail in the Koran and the Traditions; for instance, Koran sura 56 verses 12 -40 ; sura 55 verses 54-56 ; sura 76 verses 12-22. I shall quote the celebrated Penguin translation by NJ Dawood of sura 56 verses 12- 39: "They shall recline on jewelled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of purest wine (that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason); with fruits of their own choice and flesh of fowls that they relish. And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris, chaste as hidden pearls: a guerdon for their deeds... We created the houris and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right hand..."
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One should note that most translations, even those by Muslims themselves such as A Yusuf Ali, and the British Muslim Marmaduke Pickthall, translate the Arabic (plural) word Abkarun as virgins, as do well-known lexicons such the one by John Penrice. I emphasise this fact since many pudic and embarrassed Muslims claim there has been a mistranslation, that "virgins" should be replaced by "angels". In sura 55 verses 72-74, Dawood translates the Arabic word " hur " as "virgins", and the context makes clear that virgin is the appropriate translation: "Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents (which of your Lord's blessings would you deny?) whom neither man nor jinnee will have touched before." The word hur occurs four times in the Koran and is usually translated as a "maiden with dark eyes".
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Two points need to be noted. First, there is no mention anywhere in the Koran of the actual number of virgins available in paradise, and second, the dark-eyed damsels are available for all Muslims, not just martyrs. It is in the Islamic Traditions that we find the 72 virgins in heaven specified: in a Hadith (Islamic Tradition) collected by Al-Tirmidhi (died 892 CE [common era*]) in the Book of Sunan (volume IV, chapters on The Features of Paradise as described by the Messenger of Allah [Prophet Muhammad], chapter 21, About the Smallest Reward for the People of Paradise, (Hadith 2687). The same hadith is also quoted by Ibn Kathir (died 1373 CE ) in his Koranic commentary (Tafsir) of Surah Al-Rahman (55), verse 72: "The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: 'The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana'a [Yemen]'."
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Modern apologists of Islam try to downplay the evident materialism and sexual implications of such descriptions, but, as the Encyclopaedia of Islam says, even orthodox Muslim theologians such as al Ghazali (died 1111 CE) and Al-Ash'ari (died 935 CE) have "admitted sensual pleasures into paradise". The sensual pleasures are graphically elaborated by Al-Suyuti (died 1505 ), Koranic commentator and polymath. He wrote: "Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one [ie Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetising vaginas."
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Wow! Now would you blame Osama bin Laden and others of his ilk for being so hell-bent upon self-annihilation? Who could resist the temptation of such heavenly pleasures? I would embrace any religion that guarantees me 72 virgins, to hell with my atheism!

People, you need to understand the psyche of the 'average' sex-starved minion of the world's most egregious religion. Obliterating him with bullets is impossible, try offering him 73 virgins instead! Maybe you could pool in all your innocent and untouched girls (perhaps in Las Vegas) and invite the wannabe martyrs to 'ruin' them. It may still not be a match for the rewards in paradise, but at least some of these perverts may defect.

I write this not in contempt of Muslims, but in defiance of the toxic texts of one of many religions. Purge people of their religious pedigrees/identities and you'll find them all equally benign and egalitarian. Poison them with religious fetishism and find them slip back to square one.

I've been delighted by many 'Muslim' bloggers who have ardently and openly denounced the call of the Koran. Their doing so has greatly endangered their lives, yet they've spoken their mind. I applaud and encourage them in full measure, since it takes a lot of courage and extraordinary conviction to speak out against beliefs that have been embraced for centuries without exception.

My voice only adds to the rising dissent against religion (all of them). I don't know how much of possible harm I'm inviting for myself, but it's something that I'll continue doing for the rest of my life...or until I have a change of heart (perhaps on account of the promised virgins!). If I'm bound to fall promulgating my beliefs, so be it.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

How Saturday was spent

Today was dedicated almost entirely to reading news via Feedreader. Some of the sources were:
Audio news & music streamed into my room courtesy:
Especially nourishing was Amartya Sen's interview on the BBC.

Santosh has shifted his focus from Cyberspace to Mobilespace, partly because I seldom grant him access to his PC! He never gripes, lucky me! His phone is stripped of all bells & whistles, yet Santosh finds it intriguing enough to merit his constant attention throughout the day to unravel its mysteries! He never calls, he never SMSes...just stares at it in deep admiration and occasionally pokes fingers at its curvaceous keys provocatively. I'm reminded of a similar behavioral pattern when I had bought my Nokia 6681 around a year back. How time flies!
Those who talk most about the blessings of marriage and the constancy of its vows are the very people who declare that if the chain were broken and the prisoners left free to choose, the whole social fabric would fly asunder. You cannot have the argument both ways. If the prisoner is happy, why lock him in? If he is not, why pretend that he is? — GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Here's to Tony Bennett!

Dear Deepanjan,

I was very moved by the tribute to your father and his values you wrapped within your Amazon Review of Tony Bennett's "Here's to the Ladies." I like your thinking, and tip my hat to your masterful writing. I didn't own the album, and ordered two (one for a friend) based on your words.

By coincidence, today is the former Antonio Bendetto's 80th birthday, so "Here's to Tony Bennett!"

All the best from afar,

(Ms.) Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx
South Pasadena, California
I finally have an AOL email id!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Change

I'm awfully guilty of missing out on good reads for the past few years. Blogging is good, but only when it plays second fiddle to quality reading. Starting now, there'll be a drastic reduction in the number of posts I churn. I intend to spend the time saved in reading more often.

I'm sorry if this disappoints my few but valued readers. Believe me, the void inside my head was beginning to show.
Sreya was subject to a case of chain snatching while returning from Inox. Salt Lake is not a safe place anymore.

Santosh's computer has become painfully slow. The RAM is crammed, Disk D is filled to the brim and I'm running out of patience. There's a multitude of snags ailing this PC.