Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Freddie Hubbard passes away

File:Freddie Hubbard 1976.jpg

It’s indeed very sad. I never paid much attention to Hubbard as a solo artist. Indeed, most of my recollection of his playing is owed to his role as an accompanist in the Blue Note compilations I managed to buy from Kolkata.

I hope to make up for sidelining him. Anyway, the trumpet is so dominated by Davis and Armstrong, a distraction is urgently needed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The unplanned trip

It was such a dreadful experience, I don’t even have the heart to write about it. Yet, it provides me with all the substance my blog has been conspicuously lacking of late.

It’s undeniably true that I’m lazy. The price I paid this time around is all too much for me to forget. I wish I had invested a little effort in chalking out the details.

I didn’t bother to get my luggage ready on Sunday. I hurried through the chore only on Monday morning, losing precious time in the process. I hadn’t even withdrawn enough cash from the ATM the night before. So after the packing, I dashed for the ICICI ATM, but it wouldn’t accept my HDFC Bank card. Great! Just what I needed. The lessons were flowing in already. I hurried to Canara Bank and its ATM, luckily, didn’t disappoint.

I returned home, picked my luggage and hurried my way out, took an auto to the KSRTC stand at Majestic and enquired – only to be told (it was 11AM by then) that the next available bus to Chennai was at 1PM. The trip would take a good 8 hours…too late for my 9PM flight to Kolkata. The 11AM bus was already full.

I took an auto again, this time to the railway station, though it was just a stone’s throw away. I guess I was to panicked to think rationally. The rickshaw, having discovered yet another hapless passenger in me, asked for Rs.20 – I had lost the urge to haggle by then. The drama at the railway station was to soon unfold.

I had already been told by someone earlier that the train would take 6 hours to Chennai. I frantically bought a current ticket but didn’t know which was the next available train. I asked at the enquiry – and was told that my train would leave at 2PM and reach Chennai at 8:20PM. Now, this couldn’t be happening to me. I was running out of options.

Hobson’s choice to the rescue: I took a cab to the airport – the ride costing me a cool Rs.1000. I bought a Kingfisher ticket to Chennai for around Rs3.7K. The flight was scheduled at 3:40PM, the trip to Chennai would take exactly an hour – which seemed rather odd to me since the Chennai-Kolkata trip would take 2 hours.

Chennai airport is located in a very picturesque location. My wait wasn’t long, especially since I was famished and spent some time at the airport restaurant. The trip to Kolkata went fine. My few days there was very hectic.

I returned to Bangalore this morning.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Terrific rules!

23122008290

A sight in Kolkata

Monday, December 22, 2008

In the airport restaurant @ Chennai

22122008289

The sight was stunning - almost made the city look like a hill station.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I fly

Bangalore is poorly connected via rail and air to the metropolitan cities. While it’s easy to get a Delhi-Howrah rail ticket, Bangalore-Howrah tickets are scarce. The same goes for air tickets as well. Consequently, instead of buying a Bangalore-Howrah air ticket for tomorrow, I settled for Chennai as the source city, thereby saving Rs.2k.

The only headache now is to travel from Bangalore to Chennai. I might take the bus…just for some adventure.

Ghulam Ali

File:Ghulam ali.jpg

It’s time to listen to this man. I have fond memories of his ghazals.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mom is in hospital again

I really don’t know how long I can drag on like this. I guess it’s time to resign to fate and wish adieu to the good life once and for all.

Wish I could pour my heart out. When I do it one day, the flood will stun the world.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What a year!

Even an over-ebullient optimist won’t mistake the title for a compliment to the waning year. What a horrible year 2008 was! I think the economy is to blame for the gloom that set in the world over. The domino effect affected all walks of life and news has seldom been as bad. People have committed suicides, murders, robberies, kidnappings, extortions, evictions, embezzlements and countless other misdeeds – all to tide over the miseries brought forth by diminishing funds.

Things are so sombre, not much is expected from the next year either. In most cases, people are simply bracing themselves for the worst. I just hope we’ll see an upswing, even the tiniest hint will do.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The filler

A long abeyance had been unusual to my blog…until now. Part of the cause is voluntary (a lot of self-swearing to slow-down was evident) and part necessary. A jaunt to New Delhi was what made it the latter.

I visited the national capital last week (& returned today) for the 2nd time in 6 years. Though I would have preferred putting up at the famous Kali Bari straight away, I got slightly adventurous and decided to try my luck at a cheap hotel in Pahargunj. It was a decision I would deeply regret. Pahargunj is the dingiest, craziest, dirtiest, filthiest, noisiest and gloomiest market I’ve ever seen. The hotel where I put up for 24 hrs had a highly vociferous manager who apparently could do without any sleep at night when his voice was equally loud and redundant. Pahargunj is frequented by many foreigners – probably competing against each other as the ultimate test of resilience. What struck me most on the morning I made the fateful decision to be lodged in hell was the sight of a dozen motionless bovines right in the middle of a dingy chowk, perhaps collectively admiring the human race for living in conditions fit for hogs.

I shifted base to Kali Bari on Mandir Marg the next day, and life instantly became a lot less traumatic and more pleasant. Over the next few days I met some very interesting people, including a bong family that bore a strong resemblance with the Raddis in Pune. Madhumati di was undoubtedly the most stunningly beautiful and graceful middle-aged bong I’ve ever seen. In her husband I discovered a fellow jazz enthusiast, thanks to the ringtone on his mobile!

I also had my first experience of having a shave by a roadside barber! The venue was under a tree on Mandir Marg, bang opposite to Kali Bari and it cost me all of Rs5.00, which was the cheapest service I could avail in the city. Auto fare was seldom decided by the electronic meter - the driver simply quoted any amount that suited his fancy. When I had last visited the city, these folks were on strike against a government ruling to fix electronic meters (which couldn’t be tampered with like their mechanical counterparts). Apparently the government won the battle, but lost the war to human greed and unionism.

The return trip was nowhere as comfortable as the Rajdhani Express. It took a staggering 41 hours, the train (Kongu Express)was dirty right from the start and my coach was infested with cockroaches and at least one mouse that nibbled twice at my feet. People added their own filth, a juicy magazine (Manohar Kahaniyan) was widely circulated and I killed time on my Reader’s Digest. I spotted Venus and Jupiter in the West.

Oh, I almost forgot - Delhi Metro is awesome!

Moon Moon Sensuous

The Moon via my humble Nokia N72

The Moon, as sighted via my humble Nokia N72 through the window of the rat infested Kongu Express.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dad's 4th Death Anniversary

Each day, I pray that I’m wrong…

  • that there’s indeed a God
  • that there’s indeed a Heaven
  • that there’s indeed Dad somewhere out there
  • that I’ll get to meet him when my time comes
  • that I’ll embrace him then, never to let go of him

But I know I’m right.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Take me home

Remember these adverts?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terrorism raises its ugly head

Mumbai is in the news again, this time for being under siege by terrorists who have launched synchronized attacks in the southern region of the city. More than a 100 people have lost their lives in the past 24 hours since the drama unfolded.

Is 1 book to blame for all the global unrest and regressive thinking? Can’t we imagine a world without religion?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One of those few jewels

I do the occasional search for my many fixations. Today was especially kind to me as I discovered an Indian article on Willis Conover published in a never-before-heard The Music Magazine. Here’s a coincidence: the article starts with a reference to the signature tune of Voice of America Jazz Hour, Take the 'A' Train. I was actually listening to the same tune on my computer as I read through the article!

The site is now apparently defunct and I’m copying the article to salvage it.

 

The authentic voice of America and jazz

Willis Conover, VOA's jazz presenter, died four years ago on May 17. This is a tribute to the man who presented jazz with so much passion that he became a cult figure himself

Among my most treasured memorabilia is a photograph of Duke Ellington and Willis Conover. It was sent to me by the office of Willis Conover at the VOA in Washington DC around the year 1983, when I first bought a radio.

I'd written to Conover in an effort to settle a ten-rupee bet I took (with a slippery character) that the signature tune of his Voice of America Jazz Hour, also Duke Ellington's theme, was Take the 'A' Train. The slippery character claimed it wasn't and, saying he had the record at home, offered to check it. Since he didn't do so, I had to write to Conover in desperation to settle the issue.

I got a letter from one of his assistants saying I was right: it had always been Take the 'A' Train, right from 1946 or so when the programme first started. I got a brief printed write-up about the programme and the photograph as a bonus to confirmation of winning the bet.

At that time the only three names I knew in jazz were Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Four if one includes Conover. After three years of listening to the programme every evening I acquired a tiny portable two-in-one from a friend, started buying cassettes, and also recording some of the VOA Jazz Hour broadcasts.

Reagan's propaganda

By this time Ronald Reagan had decided to cut the Jazz Hour to once a week and substitute it with anti-communist propaganda for "crucial" areas of the world such as Asia. But those recordings and the help of a friend with his record collection got me a start in trying to know jazz as well as I'd loved it for 20 years of occasional listening on my parents' radio during vacation visits.

Conover, whose voice I loved as a friend, died of cancer on May 17, 1996. He was irreplaceable on the Jazz Hour, which continued with recordings of old programmes from his archives for a year or a bit more, after which the programme along with most other music programmes was dumped for interminable sessions of "analytical" news.

I had a premonition of his death a few months earlier, when his voice sounded very tired. Inexplicably, it perked up again, but that was because of repeat broadcasts, I realised. In fact, soon after that the VOA started a series called The History of Jazz in America, which Conover had pieced together from his Jazz Hour archives before he got seriously ill and went into hospital. The broadcasts of the series outlasted him.

Cult broadcaster

Conover would perhaps have described himself as a broadcaster rather than a jazz critic. For all the nearly 50 years of his programme he selected every record himself. Before that he had established himself in New York and at one time commuted between that metropolis and the capital to present local and international jazz programmes. His influence was already tremendous by the early '50s. A Washington band wanted to name themselves after him, so he settled to let them call it 'The Orchestra presented by Willis Conover'.

Yet, as I surmise, when he came to New York in the early '40s (he must have been about 25) he was unknown and close to resourceless. "Let's see", he recalled thinking and dipping into his pocket when he wanted to walk into a club where Peggy Lee was singing with the Benny Goodman orchestra. He found he had just enough money for the price of admission.

This must have been the germ of his career. And it was perhaps five to eight years before he started the world's most famous jazz programme. It was the only one that people like me in India switched the VOA on for, and one that many in Eastern Europe later recalled having thought of as personifying the voice of freedom for them in preference to anything else from the US.

It must have been the '50s or '60s when Conover got a phone call from someone called Eubie Blake while he was broadcasting a local jazz programme in New York. "You don't know me, Mr Conover," Blake said, "but I want to know who's that youngster whose music you're playing." Blake ended the conversation with the words, "Well, you just go on playing all that good stuff, Willis," but in the meantime Conover had surprised him by saying, "I know you, Mr Blake. Memories of you, I'm Wild about Harry...'' Soon enough Blake's second career had started, thanks to Conover. One of its landmarks was the New Orleans International Jazz Festival in 1969. Blake jokingly complained that Conover had pulled him out of peaceful retirement, but he kept working till close to his 100th birthday in 1983, soon after which he died.

Others got their first career going after he discovered them. The blues and jazz singer Ruth Brown, who shared in the VOA's star-studded hour-long tribute to him on his death, was one such. She was put onto him by a friend who called Conover from a public telephone and said, "I want you to meet and listen to this young lady."

Conover was the presenter of choice for special jazz occasions, from festivals to private concerts at the White House. He was there with Jimmy Carter in 1977 for a concert featuring Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan, and during the Nixon tenancy for an all-star concert for Duke Ellington's 70th birthday in 1969.

One-in-a-million voice

His personal friendships with great jazz musicians came through in his broadcasts, many of which had excerpts from interviews with them, especially Duke Ellington. An interview I remember well was with the blind English-born pianist George Shearing. He complimented Shearing for having recognised his laugh in a 5,000-strong audience during a concert in Washington DC and saying "Thank you, Willis." Of course Shearing's hearing was keener for his being blind, and of course Conover's rich baritone voice was one in a million, not just 5,000, as Shearing implied in his reply, as gracious as Conover's compliment.

Ellington was Conover's favourite jazz musician -- that was obvious from the many programmes he devoted to him and from his adoption of Ellington's theme tune as his own. But the high regard he had for modern jazz musicians, from the be-bop heroes Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to the pioneer of many styles, Miles Davis and the intense John Coltrane, also shone through. He ended one memorable broadcast on Parker with the words, "Charlie Parker. The greatest alto saxophonist and one of the most original jazz musicians of all time."

In fact all jazz was an organic unity to Conover. That may be one reason why he was partial to the young trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who believes in rediscovering the roots of classic jazz, Dixieland and swing. As Conover said, "Jazz is the only form of music that one can appreciate with the feet, the heart and the head," and any jazz that blended these three aspects with whatever individual degrees of emphasis was true.

Conover indeed recognised the place of jazz within modern American popular music even as it has a distinct identity. In a separate programme called Music USA Standards, he used to play great hits of popular American music, some of them in jazz versions. The most popular bandleader of the swing era, Glenn Miller, often found a place in that programme but only once did he figure in the Jazz Hour -- a recognition that his music didn't have the creativity of jazz. And yet to Conover good music was good irrespective of the label. So too was it to his hero Ellington, who in any case preferred the label "Negro folk music" and once asked in exasperation, "Why should this thing called jazz be bigger than me!"

Jazzebel

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The blog speed-breaker

It’s working…finally!

Techies, I gotta ask something: do you read PDFs of tech-books on your computer? I mean, they’re available but I don’t now if people can use them as replacements for the real thing. Maybe the occasional reference is okay, but substituting real books full time can be a problem. What’s your take?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Going mouseless

Mouse-02-june

After more than a year thinking the mouse was indispensible both to Andromeda and our sweet home, it’s time to bid adieu to the eponymous laptop appendage.

We had got rid of the real ones when Mantu fortified our place 2 months ago upon his return from Pune. Felt real good!

The touch pad had apparently given up on ever getting physical with my fingers. It was sluggish to the touch, scrolling was erratic and I was close to calling DELL Support. Thankfully, over 12 hrs of touching has made the device responsive yet again.

Video of the moon from Chandrayaan

Saturday, November 15, 2008

To Dad

I come across so many things each day that remind me of you.

In a world that keeps changing, there’s just one exception – my love for you.

I miss you.

Images from Moon Impact Probe

close up pictures of the moon's surface taken by Moon Impact Probe (MIP) on November 14, 2008

close up pictures of the moon's surface taken by Moon Impact Probe (MIP) on November 14, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chandrayaan-I Impact Probe lands on moon

What a fantastic achievement my our ISRO scientists! Congratulations to them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Amazing stuff

  • BitTorrent plucking bytes from all over the world
  • foobar2000 playing Liszt
  • FileZilla transferring my files to a server
  • Chrome springing into action ever so often
  • VWD helping me code with ease
  • Google Docs hosting my source code
  • Live Mail receiving all my emails
  • FeedDemon gathering customized news for me
  • Chronos syncing my clock with atomic clocks
  • Live Writer helping me blog

I couldn’t have imagined all this even 5 years ago!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Down with severe cold

It’s awful. Crocin, please help me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

SIM replaced

Got the SIM replaced at the Vodafone Center and things seem to be fine now.

Calling Sabu

Called Sebastian after what must have been more than 2 years. Wonderful to catch up.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Communication breakdown

Nothing seemed to work today.

Yahoo! Messenger was really cranky. Messages were not reaching me. And then all the buffered messages flooded my mobile even though I was online on the desktop.

Mails sent by TTK weren’t reaching me. Repeated requests elicited repeated replies, none of which reached me for hours.

The biggest tragedy: my SIM card began to act cranky big time. SIM CARD IS NOT VALID was flashing on my screen. The only solution was a restart and even that would work fine for only a few seconds (sometimes minutes) before the same message flashed again. I must have restarted my N72 more than 20 times – only to finally give up. I’m unreachable over the phone for all the frivolous fans. Mani and I swapped SIMs to see if my phone was the real culprit. Nope.

Even the Vodafone Services page had a big SORRY message!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I miss Hajmola

All that lies is an empty mini-bottle between my books.

What am I reading? Nothing!

It looks startling to me, but in retrospect I feel the Net has lured me with crumbs of literary spark that later turn out to be nothing but prosaic and run-of-the-mill ramblings. The Net easily lets me zoom in on content I like, but the caveat to such instant swoops is the loss of a wider field of view, a where-does-it-all-fit-in picture in the grander scheme of things.

I’m forced to do a rethink, do I really need my newsreader over the newspaper? Do I learn more from the occasional brilliant on-line editorial or the palpable newsmagazine? In both cases, the choice is obvious…but only after some serious introspection. The web, without a semblance of doubt, is an immensely rich repository of knowledge. Problem is, there’s too much of junk lying around…and sifting through it, well, might just not always be worth the effort. I spend more time hurriedly scrolling down pages or clicking hyperlinks than reading. Effective quality time? 20% would probably be an optimistic figure.

Print media is slowly but surely on the wane and I wouldn’t like to expedite its exit from my life. It’s high time I’m less Net-centric. Much less.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I feel liberated!

Don’t ask me why!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Blogs To Wikis

It was early 2001. Sebastian had come from Kolkata and was temporarily staying with us in Pune before joining Tata Technologies. He had bought a tech magazine (Chip/Digit) from the station to keep himself engrossed. I lunged at it as soon as he came home and that’s how I learnt about blogging. A few service providers were mentioned and I tried them all at the cyber-cafe right across the street. Based on the description in the magazine and personal user experience, I chose Blogger.com. It was to prove the correct decision.

Though it seems incredible to me now, I really didn’t understand what blogging was supposed to accomplish. To me, it was just an easy but restricted way of creating web-pages quickly. Confusing me further was Blogger’s archive feature, what on earth was it for? It took me some time to figure out that blogging was essentially a way to log your daily experiences on the web, a kind of personal diary was wasn’t really all that personal. Purists would find this over-simplification sacrilegious, but that’s all blogging meant to me before it went on to become a global phenomenon few could have envisaged.

Next came the question: what do I write? The first dummy post was nothing more than a placeholder, a way to make my message visible on a publicly accessible webpage. It was also a rather shamelessly overt way of  seeking attention from search engines. I got the attention I sought, it felt like I had attained world fame.

Posts were infrequent for quite some time and blogging wasn’t yet an important entity in my life. I even deleted many posts (mostly online litter) before I gathered enough steam to attain steady momentum. It’s been this way ever since, although I often fear running out of steam. I’m too petrified of looking into the boiler.

Wikis happened along the way. Wikipedia became an astounding success that changed the way the world perceived the power of collaborative thinking. I became a small-time contributor and began referring to it (like the rest of mankind) almost daily. In many ways, blogging and wikiing are essentially the same tool manifested differently.

For long I’ve felt the need of a web-based notepad and wikis fit the bill perfectly. I’ve finally created my own wikis to keep my mental jumble from evaporating into oblivion. Hyperlinked with my blog, I now have a powerful arsenal at my disposal.

The web has assumed a whole new meaning for me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My first voice message on Blogger


I sound horrible! Maybe I should keep my mouth shut and just do the typing!

Diwali was on 27.5

It’s good that today was a holiday as it gave me some time to recover from the high decibels. Check out the videos!

Monday, October 27, 2008

ICICI Bank ATM still defunct

Can you believe it? I thought I had insulted these guys enough and that the ATM would now function smoothly. The contrary has happened. Not even once did I find it working after the mail was sent. Maybe I need to fire another salvo.

I’m left with Rs.7 in my purse.

Whenz Diwali?

  • Going by the fireworks and holiday for companies like IBM, Wipro and Infosys, it’s today.
  • Going by what some folks are saying, Mozilla and holiday for some other companies, it’s tomorrow.
  • Going by the holiday in our company, it’s day after tomorrow.

Our office was virtually vacant today. Traffic too was minimal.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

FTP

image

Working with free web hosting and FTP can be such great fun! I never imagined FTP support could be provided free. Understanding the web (yes, I’m very late) is a lot easier now.

I’ll be fidgeting here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Extreme records

A few days back, we set a new record of travelling office to home in 50 minutes. We set a new record today as well, though at the other end of the spectrum. We took 150 minutes to traverse the same distance!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Did you know?

India had the world’s highest GDP for 1500 of the last 2000 years.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Destination Moon

I launched myself from the bed at 6:10am. Though the early hour is a pain, today was clearly an exception. I put on the TV at once and switched to a news channel. Santosh was awoken by the noise & decided he too must witness history in the making. I impatiently kept switching between the news channels for the ‘best’ coverage, whatever that meant.

The weather at Sriharikota luckily wasn’t inclement enough to postpone the launch, though the thick clouds heavily shrouded vision. To top it, the official launch cameras were kept too close to the site (as is always the case), and we could hardly witness anything once smoke started bellowing from the first stage at lift-off. I was teary-eyed for I knew Dad would have been absolutely enthralled by today’s launch of Chandrayaan-1 via the very reliable PSLV-C11. My heartiest congratulations to the scientists at ISRO.

I was hoping some amateurs with camera-phones would catch a better launch spectacle. Videos 1, 2 and 3 proved me right. Thanks, guys!

Opinion

It’s extremely annoying when I find people vehemently criticizing India for pursuing the nuclear or space program. Here’s my say on the BBC’s Have Your Say:

To all the myopic people who keep saying that India should be spending money on alleviating poverty instead of pursuing the space program, here's a suggestion: why don't you come to India and tell us what exact formula you have in mind? Do you recommend minting money and throwing them at the poor?

Poverty is a malady whose anodyne lies in effective use of resources. One of the best resources we have is in the exploitation of our scientific knowhow. Space exploration is a step towards that end.

I could have gone on and on but for the size limit. I hope the hard-pressed moderator clears the huge queue and publishes my say.

A CNN report on Chandrayaan

I’M OVER THE MOON!

MOON
MOON
MOON
MOON
MOON
MOON
MOON

There was a stealth payload in the rocket. It was me!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mani’s lonesome again!

Mantu lives in Ranchi, Santosh lives in a different time-zone and I live in my own world. Poor Mani, he only has the humble TV for company after work.

Chandrayaan launch at 6:20am IST tomorrow

image

I’ll spend a sleepless night!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Apple of the eye gone bananas

Apples cost Rs.60 a kilo?! Do I look like a fool or am I yet to be acquainted with reality? Maybe fruits can be listed on a stock exchange so that ignorant people like me aren’t taken for a ride.

I settled for my old favorite: bananas!

Prashant Pings

He’s currently working for an ICICI Bank affiliate company in Ranchi. Naturally, my tirade against the bank for its defunct ATM got the loyalist worked up and he couldn’t help pinging me. It’s always such a pleasure chatting with the slumbering jack! I wish we could get together sometime.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Powerless Clueless Hopeless

We suffered a marathon power cut today with only a few minutes of respite in the morning. The only good thing to meet my eyes was my bedsheet that mysteriously resurfaced in the terrace after a day of absconding.

My favorite ICICI ATM was still not working; perhaps you could blame the power shortage. When I visited the ATM 2 days back, it was non-functional as usual…and you couldn’t blame the power this time. I was reassured via email and SMS the last time that my complaint had been forwarded to the department concerned, which, I now feel, is not a concerned department at all.

The afternoon was sunny and humid; my slippers were toasted in the sun. Within an hour, it began to rain.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2 days

  • Mani returned from Ranchi yesterday
  • Mantu left for Ranchi today
  • I skipped lunch yesterday and had a double-dinner, thanks to Reddy’s birthday
  • My bedsheet was stolen from the terrace today

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An irony

image

Remember the dawn of the 21st century when dot-com companies were vanishing like they never even existed in the first place? One company that thrived on reporting the fall of such sites in a very satirical and hard-hitting manner was FuckedCompany.com. It ran like a blog celebrating sites that fell like a pack of cards. The reporting was so witty and painfully funny, I suspect many an oversensitive founder/CEO of a sinking site must have contemplated suicide after reading dot-com obituaries scrolling down its dreaded homepage.

I remember telling Sebastian what an irony it would be if the company listed itself on its homepage someday. I visited the site today after many years and discovered that my prediction had come true!

I want this device!

Aravind Adiga wins Booker Prize

image My time will come!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

His Niece’s Voice

Diya’s voice is the most beautiful sound to my ears.

Bro-in-law, Didi & Diya leave Berhampur for Kolkata tomorrow.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Serendipitous Mehta

image

Having dinner with my roommates and friends is not something I do too often. Not that I don’t like their company (I love it), but I like being by myself even more.

Though I already had my dinner, I accompanied the folks today to dig into some mutton. Surfing the channels, I was elated to chance upon an interview with Zubin Mehta on CNN-IBN. Though dinner is always a noise affair here, they realized how engrossed I was and kept quiet for my viewing pleasure. Mehta spoke about Wagner, Israel, Bach, world peace and many other issues.

Guys, thanks for the silence!

Tintin

image

Missing the gang.

Friday, October 10, 2008

TTK...again

Submitted the courier Didi had sent. Arun, I was told by Ashwini, had left TTK. Back to square one!

December, 1997

imageIt was late night. I had just reached home after buying my first ever CD player. Somehow containing my excitement, I plugged the power cord and put on the unit. The display lit up. I opened the tray and inserted my first CD, a Naxos. The first track was a Beethoven sonata played by Jeno Jando.

I remember everything vividly to this day. Seems like yesterday.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A near-death experience

This may be an overstatement but I figured if Ross (from Friends) can claim that he had a near-death experience just because a car backfired (which he mistook for a gunshot), I’m overqualified to follow suit.

Traffic was far less today since most offices were closed for Dusshera. Our driver, enthused by the relatively vacant roads, drove the bus at top speed. While negotiating a poorly-lit sharp curve, the rear-left wheel hit the elevated sidewalk and the speeding bus careened heavily to the right. We shrieked. Dithering for a while, it landed on all fours instead of falling on its side.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The ties that bind

Taking a fancy for anything is the forte and primary occupation of all kids, and I laid stake at them very often. Being a town segregated from the fury of city life, Jamshedpur didn’t have much to lure kids with, but the wandering mind can latch on to anything.

Once, the stuff that my dreams were made of was the humble tie. Being an adult with a volatile memory, I don’t quite remember what I found so enticing in them, but I do recall that all I wanted then was a tie.

L.G Stores stocked fancy items to satiate the desires that would fire kids’ imaginations from time to time. It was, as a matter of fact, the favorite haunt of anyone with a fling. Notorious though it was for being overpriced, people nevertheless swarmed around it for being better endowed than any other store in Kharangajhar.

Dad took me there. The shop owner, lunging at the opportunity before my folly ebbed,  wasted no time in letting my eyes feast on the ties of various colors laid in front of my discerning self.  Choosing was hard, but I finally settled for brown. Dad mildly made his preference for navy-blue known, but I brushed aside the suggestion. Dad didn’t persist and that’s how I became the proud owner of my very first tie - a brown one with an elastic that went under the shirt collar for east fastening.

I understood years later why Dad preferred the navy-blue – it would match my school (Gulmohur High) uniform. Brown was for another neighboring school. I wonder if I ever wore the tie.

What a day to choose!

I had to choose today of all days to visit TTK. Luckily, I decided to call the HO before visiting. The recorded voice promised to connect me to an executive…and made me wait for over a minute before promptly disconnecting. Dialing the extension number (of the gentleman who calls himself ‘Mr.Arun’) didn’t elicit any response either. Multiple attempts later, I was suspicious.

I called the call centre, only to be informed that the HO was closed today and tomorrow. Cool, but can’t these clumsy creatures send the right voice response on holidays instead of treating them as April 1st?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Affirmative Action

  • Less blogging
  • Less news reading
  • Less surfing

…from now on. I’m tired of my dimensionless life.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Success!

We tried one last time and consummated the download.

Megs failed

Mantu and I have finally given up after 5 aborted attempts.

The insurmountable megs

It’s been 2 contiguous nights of frustration. Power cuts have made downloading a 600M image file in one stretch impossible since the server has rendered our download manager useless (I didn’t even know this was technically possible).

Even trivial things are sometimes such a challenge.

Abhishek calls

Lucky guy, he’s back in Jamshedpur. I’m so envious of him, Subroto and Balraj.

Abhishek has promised to send me some Durga Puja snaps. They’re precious already and I can hardly wait!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Beethoven Bust

image 

One of the things I want to possess someday.

My email to ICICI Bank (slightly altered)

Hello,

I’m thinking of consulting a tarot card reader before venturing out to visit the ICICI ATM located right across the street at the HP Petrol Pump in JP Nagar, 5th Phase, Bangalore. Can you suggest a good reader?

My several attempts at withdrawing cash from the ATM over the past few months have seldom been successful. If I were to enumerate my success, it couldn’t possibly be over 20%.

Today’s trial and tribulation deserves a mention not because it’s extraordinary (it isn’t), but because it’s a sampling of the exercise ICICI often compels me to go through…thereby keeping me physically fit but driving me mentally retarded. I went up to the ATM in the morning, little expecting it to work. To my astonishment, it was working! I couldn’t remember the last time the machine seemed so heavenly. To my even greater surprise, it was actually dispensing money!! I went weak at my knees and my eyes moistened.In my daze, I punched some keys and withdrew Rs.200.

The miracle had my head reeling and I was walking back home when I realized I had to withdraw another Rs.1000. So I returned to my beloved ATM, only to realize that my luck had run out. The ATM wasn’t working since there was no power.

Has the global economic meltdown hit ICICI Bank so hard that it had to sell/mortgage its power backup system? If so, I can only hope that the situation 10 years from now will be a lot better since the nuclear deal with the US is sure to make power shortages a thing of the past. Until your ATMs are nuclear powered, however, how about using bio-gas (‘gobar gas’, in common parlance)? Methane holds great promise, and I’m sure having a core team of cow-dung collectors to power your ATMs will win you new customers by the droves.

I tried my luck yet again in the evening. Power supply was restores, but the ATM remained its usual non-responsive self. I was reminded of notorious government officials in Bihar (I hail from the state but ail from few of its ills) who could be set into motion by a small bribe. I wondered if ICICI had done a one-up on its bete noir, HDFC Bank, and introduced a new bribe facility to set the cash dispensing system into motion, a kind of machine-induced nepotism that’ll be the envy of corrupt politicians. Maybe the ATM comes to life when you let it gobble a few bills or charge your credit card. I tried to find the new bribe slot, but failed. If you'd be so kind as to help me on this difficult issue, I’d be indebted for the current financial year. Please let me know of the tariff plans available. Is bribery Net-enabled yet?

Waiting eagerly for your reply before I’m forced to send collection agents to extort my money out of the ATM.

Deepanjan Nag

Friday, October 03, 2008

Power cuts and TATA bids adieu

Power cuts have set in yet again and we are getting used to being powerless for a couple of hours daily.

Reddy showed up in the dark and told me of the TATAs finally forsaking Singur in the face of protracted hostilities under the banner of Ms.Mamata Banerjee, proof enough that violence can get anything done (or undone) in the world’s largest democracy.

Mani

Mani is on vacation from today and left for home in the morning.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A simple question and a great answer

I asked…

What makes religion such a robust institution? It's baffling. I wonder how does religion manage to survive even in the face of mounting evidence that its sacred beliefs are based on blatant assumptions rather than careful observation of facts. How can people's faith in religion assume such unshakeable proportions?

The best reply I got…

It is quite literally a "no-brainer."  The capability for rational thought is a recent development.  Our ability to form beliefs is much older.  We believe things based on what we have been taught at a young age, and use our intellect to justify those beliefs.  It is very hard to change beliefs.  The brain does not like to think that it has been wrong about something.  In the face of contrary evidence, we will instinctively defend our existing beliefs more vigorously.

It takes discipline to recognize that beliefs should derive from facts. That is why the scientific method took so long to be developed, and why it is still so alien to the general public.  Until it becomes common knowledge that "common sense" is a myth, people will continue to believe irrational things on a massive scale.

and another one…

Low overhead. When what you are selling is property the existence of which has yet to be demonstrated, and you sell it on the basis of the buyer can only take possession of it after he dies, you really do not have to shell out very much
for your inventory. Every nickel that clinks in the collection plate is pure profit. With that set up, only about a third of the population has to be stupid enough to buy what you are selling in order for you to live very well indeed. Fortunately for the Elmer Gantrys of the world, closer to half of the population is stupid enough to buy, and most of the other half is too polite to say anything about holy swindles: this adds up to fat city for the priesthood.

The greatest thinker of the 20th century

image

Of all the people I wish I were (yes, I’m not too fond of myself), Bertrand Russell is foremost. I hope to read as much of his works as possible in the years ahead.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Salman Rushdie unrepentant about Satanic Verses - TIMESONLINE

Article extract:

Rushdie says he is an atheist who finds dead religions “much more attractive” but says he has nothing against true believers until their faith spills over into the public sphere and becomes “my business”.

Watch video highlights here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hitting a trough

I don’t remember the last time I had called home and was happy. Didi called up at 11 in the morning to tell me of her latest crusade (nothing less!) to elicit the evasive Discharge Summary. The doctor and hospital authorities ganged up to show their usual humane side and refused to budge.

What finally came through (as I understood from the conversation) was a piece of paper with a quickly scribbled summary (that I’m sure doesn’t adhere to the norm) and the doctor’s attestation. Isn’t it an irony that a cardiologist can be so heartless?

I’m hoping (but not expecting) TTK’s appetite for extraneous detail is satiated and the insurance money is reimbursed. If not, I’m taking my case to the Consumer Court, come what may.

I’m waiting to learn a lesson or teach a lesson to the lesser taught.

Amul Kool Cafe

 amul Tried it. Liked it. And my money goes to people in need.

If only Amul had the marketing clout of Pepsi or Coca-Cola.

Buy here.

Docsyncer sank without a whimper

Docsyncer used to sit cozily on my system-tray and synchronize my local expense manager (which I had designed on Excel) with Google Docs. I was startled to discover yesterday that a few days into July, synchronization had ceased. I thought Docsyncer had perhaps erroneously logged out of my account, and tried to log in. No luck.

Getting curious, I Googled (technically, Yahooed) to unearth the truth. Docsyncer had wound up since they didn’t have a feasible revenue model. I was surprised they weren’t courteous enough to at least inform their customers of closing shop.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I feel nauseous

It’s now the turn of Hindusthan Health Point to harass me. While the doctor has agreed to write the Discharge Summary below the hospital letterhead according to the finicky TTK’s twisted tastes, the hospital is playing hard to get. I just don’t know what sort of morbid game is being played here but the whole ordeal is…typically Indian.

Hope is beginning to fade. Perhaps it’s time to call it quits.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The changing room

Santosh is either away or slumbering in my room. I almost always have my eyes glued to the screen as my fingers get touchy with Andromeda. This grants our cozy room a level of privacy not extended to any other in our dwelling…which makes it a hot favorite for round-the-clock male strip-teasing. Each time the bathroom is occupied, sometimes even when it isn’t, and we have visitors and someone needs to change, my room hosts a quick show…albeit without on-lookers.

By the way, I’m always awed at the dexterity with which guys change their trousers (and briefs) with a wrapped-around towel.

Around the Earth on the Glory Mission

nasa

nasadad

Every time I hitch a ride to outer space, Dad comes along. The odyssey reminds me of the innumerable trips he and I stole to the terrace to let the heavens take our breaths away.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcome to Sajjanpur

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Another one wins my heart. It’s high-time I upped my expectations from Indian flicks.

Friday, September 26, 2008

ICICI ATM

The ICICI offsite ATM at the HP Petrol Pump on 15th Cross is often out of order and now I’m losing my temper. Perhaps I’ll have to redo the mail I had sent to HDFC Bank (5 years ago, in Ranchi) when I discovered, to my infinite annoyance, that an offsite ATM on Circular Road was lying as usual - defunct, when I needed some quick cash. What heighted my rage was the 2+2 kms I walked to and from another offsite ATM, which too wasn’t working.

The Circular Rd. ATM was immediately pressed back into service and an apology mail sent assuring me of unhindered access to the machine. They kept their word. Not once did I discover the ATM out of service after the incident.

It’s now time for ICICI Bank to face my wrath. More importantly, though, it’s high time I went to sleep. It’s nearly 4am!

Time 2 sleep

It’s 3:15am as I type this post.

I’ve spent a substantial part of the day communicating with Geoff over a WLMB bug. I’m amazed at the diligence with which he approached the problem and found the solution. He’s been practically over the snag round-the-clock and I’m left wondering about his time-zone!

Speaking of which, I’m wondering about mine as well!

MS & Usenet

I’ve been corresponding with the Microsoft guys today.

The Last Lear

image

Possibly Amitabh Bachchan’s finest performance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nocturnal Santosh

Santosh is supposed to be home everyday by 3 in the morning. These days, however, he’s rarely home before 4. In fact, he sometimes manages to return only when I’m readying for office at 7.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Can’t hide the truth

Beneath my clothes…

I’m really nude!

Travels in many dimensions

J calls just before close of office to know of my itinerary plans for Durga Puja. I say I have none. I walk to shuttle #8. The wait isn’t long before we move.

I remember I have my earphones today, dig into my bag and plug them to my phone. Kenny Rogers and others comfort me. Regional music – more of noise emanating from the in-bus speakers - leaks into my ears, but I have learnt to tolerate. I see a patch of lush greenery and wonder when was the last time I had felt the touch of grass. I can’t remember.

My mind drifts to an era when some of my favorite possessions were in the form of music cassettes. Forwarding and rewinding were such a delight! Didi had wanted Dad to buy an expensive music deck, and remained hopeful until crowding years ebbed her enthusiasm. I shared her ebullience, but not her expectation.

The bad roads won’t let me stay afloat, I reunite with the present. The driver puts on the lights and at once bathes us in cheap blue. We are a tad annoyed but accommodate the infiltration. I look at the windscreen. A miniature God sits tight in a frame dangling from the top. Lending artistry to the tiny prison are garlands of flashing mini-bulbs. The God dare not try to escape lest he be electrocuted. Some more flashing lights adorn the hind side of the driver’s cabin. The pattern is unintelligible, at-best like a Fractal abstraction. I lose interest.

I’m reminded of Scott & Amundsen, can’t recall why. A thousand other thoughts soon hog my mindshare, all incoherent. I love the songs that made today’s trip back home less painful, though my phone is sapped. I plug it to the power cable.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In love with Chrome

Google Chrome is now my default browser. In a few days of full-time use, not once has it crashed.

Here’s what I miss the most: Adblock Plus.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Maniz Relieved

Our house seemed empty. Satya and Suman had shifted to a new place near Marathahalli. Santosh’s work hours were very odd. Mantu had already left for Pune.

The only ones inhabiting Rakesh Nilayam after work hours were Mani and yours truly. Therein lied his excruciating. I remained aloof in my own world and Mani’s innumerable attempts at dragging me into an interesting conversation almost always failed. The ones that didn’t were short lived.

Now that Mantu is back, Mani is visibly relieved for having someone to keep himself verbally engaged. The dreadful silence is finally defeated.

Satya and Suman are staying with us today and tomorrow. We had mutton for dinner. Santosh contributed Sprite.

As I type this post, Mantu’s reciting an anecdote to his friends in the next room. There’s laughter ringing.

Filtered Culture

I’ve been out of touch with the Bengali language for the past 12 years, barring the occasional visits to Kolkata. I sought a quick-fix a few weeks ago by subscribing to Bengali feeds from YouTube.

The feeds vividly reflect our mindset: the only thing we are obsessed with is porn. My newsreader has been so inundated by graphic videos that I’ve had to use Yahoo! Pipes to filter them. Sometimes, even that isn’t enough.

Keeping exceptions aside, here’s what I feel: we are outright uncultured. I am truly ashamed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mantuz Bach

Yes, Mantu is back! It’s nice to have him around.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We need a Pied Piper!

That’s the prognosis. The Airtel guy showed up at our place early morning and discovered the reason for no Net connectivity: a rat had nibbled away at the wire!

Not too long ago, our place had become a regular hangout for pesky rats. Venturing into the kitchen in the dead of night was like going out on a safari without a gun for protection. The infestation became a serious threat when the gang of troublemakers started boldly venturing into all the rooms even during evenings.

Mani and Mantu (the latter arrives tomorrow!) fortified the place with a strong netting of the windows, and it seemed to be just the solution we needed…until a few weeks ago. Apparently, diligence has paid off and the rats have succeeded in cutting through the netting. They didn’t fall for the poison either. I guess it’s only a matter of time before the entire team shows up yet again at our dwelling.

Pests!!! Yuck!!!

Google Chrome Works!

image

I was always suspicious of Zonealarm Forcefield for the problems I was facing in installing Google Chrome. By now, I must have made more than 50 attempts at the installation! I was also getting increasingly frustrated with the buggy nature of Forcefield causing Firefox (and less often, Internet Explorer) to act really weird. Though the idea behind Forcefield is fantastic, it apparently has serious shortcomings. In spite of all the troubles, however, I wasn’t willing to let go of it, especially since it was a paid-product that I got for free.

Today, I had enough of Firefox launching in yet another avatar. I promptly uninstalled Forcefield and immediately gave Chrome a try. It worked flawlessly! I played with the new browser long enough and found it rock solid – no crash or misbehavior till now. It’s definitely fast and the spartan interface will entice the minimalist. Good for us.

Proud to say this about browsers for Windows - I’ve tried them all!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Net, Travel, Santosh, Mantu and TTK

My blog posts have been reduced to a trickle of late. Part of the reason lies in there being no Net connectivity at our place yesterday. By today morning, connectivity hadn’t been restored. The other part lies in the 4 hrs I spend commuting each weekday to and from office. That leaves me with a lot of time to reflect upon the daily events; but then again, what do you expect from a guy who spends 8 hours a day in front of the PC for a living!

The world’s worst kept secret - a stealth preparation for someone’s (resident of Rakesh Nilayam, of course) birthday celebration at the stroke of midnight, got another enactment yesterday as Santosh completed yet another worthless year of existence. He performed his role of ignorance to the hilt.

Mantu is all set to return to our dwelling on Friday if everything goes according to plan. I wish his experience in Pune was better.

The TTK sequel got a sequel of its own. After my bro-in-law ran from pillar to post (he and I are caught in a crossfire of bureaucracy) to try and get me some financial relief, the doctor has decided to rewriting the so-called Discharge Summary as verbosely as possible to quell any iota of suspicion that the insurance guys may have about mom’s operation. TTK guys are heartless.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Biscuits

Thought of pampering my taste buds tonight and bought 3 items, including a packet of biscuits. The kirana shop has a large assortment and one is really spoilt for choice. After a hard time trying to decide on my pick, I chanced upon a not-so-common type.

The last time I had come across this type must have been years ago, at my maternal grandparents’ place in Kolkata during a typical summer vacation. I loved this place because of one simple reason: it was the only escape we had from studies and the restive environs of Jamshedpur.

I particularly remember the relatively large kitchen, it was like a museum with a guilt-free pass to being raided. Raid I did, especially during the afternoons when most unsuspecting souls would be snoring away to glory. The very thought of joining the slumber gang when a whole world of confectionary delight was awaiting my prowl seemed like blasphemy to me. I remained loyal to my heart.

Biscuits were a challenge though. There were too many jars on the shelves, all of the same dimensions, all opaque. This unintended obstacle made the hunt all the more interesting. Once the biscuit jar was discovered, I treated myself without any restraint whatsoever to my reward.

I relived some of the old pleasures tonight, though much of the fun was missing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blue Lights

I hate the blue lights in our new office. The ambience is thoroughly ruined.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Revolution

Happy

Birthday,

Andromeda!

LHC goes live!

The world's largest particle collider went live today at 1230 hrs IST on firing two beams of protons in opposite directions around a 17-mile underground ring.

Protons traveled clockwise along the full length of the 4 billion Swiss franc (US$3.8 billion) Large Hadron Collider — described as the biggest physics experiment in history. Five hours later, scientists successfully fired a beam counterclockwise.

Scientists are expected to be able to conduct collisions within a few months. The collider is designed to push the proton beam close to the speed of light, whizzing 11,000 times a second around the tunnel.

Bye, Swapna!

Today was Swapna’s last day in our Hyderabad office. I drafted an on-demand farewell mail for her.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

From PostSecret

Life’s a sorry tale of compromises!

DELL Shocks

I’m in a state of shock. And I’m not speaking metaphorically.

I’ve been receiving electric shocks occasionally of late from the keyboard and even the optical drive. Problem is, we don’t have a 3rd wire. The monsoon has made things worse. Our learned landlord felt the need to save on costs is more important than salvaging someone’s life. You should meet him. He’s so humble, he’s firmly grounded…and thought so were we.

If you see my hair standing on end, don’t be surprised.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The TTK Saga Continues

Life's surely a joke at TTK.

After a month of spitting fire at TTK and receiving nothing but utter disdain, my only hopes to restore normalcy in my life was to personally visit the hallowed HO. Prior to the visit, I had barked so hard and so long over the phone at the folks from TTK, the window panes in my house rattled! I can't even begin to describe how my queries were answered. A bunny would have responded better.

The auto ride was long and bumpy. The driver and I spoke languages that had nothing in common. The fare was Rs.125, which turned out not to be that fair after all. My appointment was between 2 & 3 in the afternoon, and in keeping with my tradition, reached before time. Killed the buffer time taking lunch at a Kerala restaurant.

The rendezvous at the HO was like a sword meeting the shield. To put it tamely, I was ready to grant someone frequent flier miles to Hell. Someone calling himself "Mr.Arun" [sic] had to bear my brunt, and he bore it well. I put my bro-in-law on the line cause he understood the nuances much better than me. Here's what transpired: we've got to contact the hospital and ask for a discharge summary. Knowing well how hospitable hospitals are, I'm not too certain they'll entertain us. I'm just hoping for a miracle or a secret hymn whose chanting will awaken the morally dead folks at Hindusthan Health Point.

I thought of taking the bus back home. Being illiterate to the local language, and most buses proudly flaunting their routes only in Kannada (a subtle overtone of hostility towards any non-native...again typical of the Indian psyche), my futile wait at the stand was a foregone conclusion. I took an auto after half-an-hour, this time the fare being only Rs.95.

I don't know if the visit was any use.

John Q. Walker: Re-creating great performances

Musical genius meets modern technology

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A date with calendars

I love calendars, especially the desktop ones.

image I tried Windows Calendar yesterday. Works flawlessly and looks stunning. I imported my Google (iCal compliant) Calendar flawlessly. The only problem: calendars have the equivalent of POP, but nothing akin to SMTP. Consequently, changes I make to my desktop aren’t reflected on Google Calendar, which is rather sad.

image My next stop was the adorable Mozilla Sunbird. It’s sluggish, ugly and has a problem with caching. However, like Windows Calendar, it flawlessly imported my Google Calendar. But the real winner lies in an extension, that, like magic, allows 2-way communication between Sunbird and Google Calendar.

I hope to play with the two for the next few days before deciding on loyalty.

Chromatic Aberration

Reviews of Google Chrome have been rave in general. If the world could look at how many failed attempts Andromeda made at adopting the Chrome, I suspect perception of the newborn would turn very hostile.

I must have tried installing Chrome at least 20 times by now. These are two of the massages I’ve received during various stages of sinking into insanity:

image

image

Only once did the product work…and even that joyride came to an end when I closed the browser window.

Scouring through forums, I’ve found that few people have experienced the same problem. I just hope this snag is taken care of before long.

Chrome seems to have put a lot of attention into Javascript. Benchmarks clearly prove Chrome faster than other browsers in rendering Javascript–heavy pages. But I personally feel Javascript is generally only a tiny part of a webpage. Most pages won’t see significant benefits. As one gentleman picturesquely put it, if you have a toilet that flushes 10x faster, how much you actually benefit from it depends on how often you worship the porcelain temple!

Google Chrome

Comic Book

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A ploy unearthed & a child deprived

Often when I wash my clothes and lay them out for a sunbath, the heavens above suddenly have a mood swing and open the floodgates. Ditto today. And this after my clothes spent 36 hours soaking in the bucket while we had no rain. There’s something sinister.

I bought 5 Eclairs, but the wait for Pallavi was too long to repress my growing greed. In the end, only 1 found its way into her mouth!

OMG!

image

I find life most meaningful when no one’s around to bug me.

If you can’t spot Canis Major, Orion, Taurus and Pleiades in the photo above, your eyes are a waste.

An excellent article

If I could write like this, I would never stop blowing my own trumpet. Perhaps I could even command an entire orchestra to play my tunes!

Alas, I can’t even play the flute!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Eclairs

Our entire morning was sacrificed to cranky power supply. The pattern lacked a pattern, as if a loose main wire was flirting precariously with the winds. Our fan was most annoyed.

2 potato buns for breakfast placated my empty stomach. An Eclairs for the adorable Pallavi was bought…and given to her when she preceded her mom to the terrace to dry the clothes. Her prize heightened her smile to an unrestrained glee as she dashed to her mom to flaunt her unexpected gift.

Santosh snored till noon. His oddly timed job is taking a toll.

The power adapter to our Internet hub decided to go on an indefinite strike, perhaps emboldened by the Singur siege. After sweating on it for over 30 mins, I gave up and connected Andromeda directly to the modem…a setup that wouldn’t allow others Net access. Mani remedied the snag by buying a new adapter in the evening.

Why do I constantly need to remind people to cap bandwidth consumption when using Bittorrent during normal hours? I guess reminding isn’t half as efficacious as launching my own client and nibbling away at whatever little bandwidth is still available…and indeed into ‘enemy’ bandwidth! I wish people could be a little more sensitive.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Martian Sunrise

image

courtesy Phoenix Lander

Dark Matter Discovered

Dark Matter, the unaccounted-for matter constituting 97% of the Universe was partly discovered yesterday. And who would have thought this will happen at my home!

Post dusk, every matter in my house was dark. The pillows were dark, the tables were dark, the computers were dark, the chairs were dark, the kitchen was dark, the buckets were dark and even Andromeda was utterly dark. Basically, everything that mattered was dark. Reason: the light-shedders and all other electrical appliances were powerless.

The ever-so-charming Mani meekly confessed having forgotten to pay the electricity bill. Ah, so the secret to our localized dark universe was unveiled! I took the opportunity to get acquainted with our fortnight-old neighbors- man, wife and 1-year-old daughter. I bribed the kid with a Kit-Kat to win her over and she readily fell for it. We are now fast friends.

Slumber-time was menacing. The weather was very humid and mosquitoes were gathering in full force. Mani unearthed some repellant coils without a stand. My sleep was interrupted in reorienting the burning tip of the coil ever 30 minutes, opening the door to let Santosh in at 5 in the morning and Sam banging at the door at half-past-6. I felt like digging his grave.

Santosh was reduced to an errand-boy in the morning. The poor chap had to commute all the way to the electricity office to clear  the due.That’s when he was told about yet another far-off office which he needed to contact to restore electricity to our place. How thoughtful! Santosh had more pressing things to attend.

Things didn’t look any brighter when I returned from office this evening. Mani showed presence of mind and replaced the missing fuse with a wire to restore electricity. Thus this post.

The Large Hadron Collider is getting ready to discover the secrets of Dark Matter. September should be the most eagerly awaited month for nuclear physicists. I wish them all the success.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I’m in hate

The title runs contrary to other emotions surging through me, but this is no time for sweet talk. I feel embattled after 2 days of demoralizing correspondence (nay, more of soliloquy) with TTK Healthcare.

Remember the mail I had sent on Friday? It fell on deaf ears (or blind eyes). When I called up the holy cows yesterday, the tremors affected my spleen. Imagine being told more than a month after original bills are submitted that they aren’t able to proceed as 3 original bills/certificates are still awaited from my end! And when do I receive the good news? Only when I enquire why the reimbursement is taking so long! What’s more, I had submitted everything in original the hospital had given me after mom’s treatment was over. I have nothing more but photocopies.

In the course of the past 2 tumultuous days, I must have called TTK more than 5o times. 10 calls were never answered, or hung up when the automated message was being spelt or when the executive had had enough of me. 20 times I explained the entire personal calamity, only to draw a blank and being promised that a message was being forwarded to a phantom who ostensibly existed even in reality…against all odds. 10 times I probably spoke to people slightly higher up the cannibal chain. They promised to revert to me after looking into the matter. Not once did I receive a call. 5 times I was endowed with new phone numbers that proved as useless as the originals. Memory fails me as I try to recall what happened to the remaining 5. I guess I’m too awed by our astounding sense of purpose in life.

And all this was over and above the flurry of my emails infiltrating their inboxes. I received only 1 response: we need the originals. Cool!

I still don’t know what seems to be the exact problem: are they asking for original bills I never received from the hospital or have they made paper boats out of the ones I obediently submitted. It’s fairly safe to assume in the face of such congenial treatment that I’ll now remain poorer by Rs.1, 22,000. I’ve lost all hope, but I’ll fight until my ship sinks.

I’m contemplating taking my case to consumer court. Any brighter idea?

To the one and only you!

mail_2_femail

If you didn’t receive this mail, it’s not meant for you.
Don’t strain yourself!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A perfectly wasted weekend

Another one goes down the drain. My grand plans never saw the light of day.

062 A female friend was snooping around in Prague and spied on this hottie for me to spice up Sunday.

Life is undeniably beautiful!

Friday, August 22, 2008

My mail to TTK Healthcare

I composed the following mail in a fit of rage.

Hi,


   I had tried to call your center at some listed contact numbers (including XXXX XXX XXXX). Not once have I been able to get through. Some numbers seem to be defunct while others sweetly ring forever. I wonder if this is the norm in TTK or I'm being meted out ad hoc treatment.


   At the risk of never being responded to (as has happened previously), I'm falling back on the humble email as a means of reaching out to you. I hope history won't be repeated and I won't need to constantly prod for a response.


   I had staked a claim on my mother's medical expenses incurred a few months ago on account of her hospitalization. The claim was made on the 7th of July while the processing began on the 24th of the same month.


    It's been a long while but I haven't received any intimation regarding the status of the claim and why the inordinate delay in reimbursing the claimed amount. Consequently, I would request a speedy reply with a status update. I would also like to know of a telephone number that will let me through to you without trying my patience.


    I hope the urgency of this mail is well communicated to you and an expedited process to garner the required information is initiated.


Regards,
Deepanjan Nag

My weight-conscious pillow

My pillow is ‘growing’ thinner by the night. It’s losing precious content on account of an ever-growing tear that has been begging for a stitch for months. The needles that I had purchased well over 2 years back were lost in domestic service almost immediately, my roommates being the adorable culprits. Each night as my head sinks closer and closer to the mattress, I feel like suing these pestering souls.

My double-decker mattress is another cause for concern. The ‘terrain’ has become so uneven, I have to struggle each night to find a sweet spot to position my body.

Miles from then

imageIt’s been countless years since I last heard Yesterdays by Miles Davis. Dad loved this track, though I wasn’t very fond.

Today, it sounded special like never before.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Phoned Mantu

He’ll probably return from Pune by the end of the month.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Forgettable Me

I forgot my credit card at the counter today. Thankfully, the salesman was kind enough to trail me and remind me of my precious possession.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How I read news

image

Cool, isn’t it?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

330330/(7*11*13*10)

My beloved office shuttle has been replaced by a new one that’s really a pain. The seats are 2*3, very firm, non-reclining and the fronts have a very unergonomic ‘bump’ that's immensely uncomfortable. The bus has very poor suspension and the windows aren’t tinted.

Though my interest in life has considerably dwindled on account of this change, there’s still a visual feast that continues to linger while enduring the commute. The cynosure happens to be two female co-passengers. The first is a stunningly curvaceous redhead with a fantastic dressing sense. She should be walking the ramp in Paris instead of writing code in an unassuming cubicle! The second is a diminutive kid who seems straight out of school. Someone should adopt the cutie pie and put her through junior college!

Monsoon has made a revelation: my recently-bought umbrella has an atlas-&-axis defect. Each time it’s pressed into service, it keeps collapsing every 5 minutes.

Why have I chosen the strange title for this post? 33 (my shuttle number) seemed very boring and oft-repeated, and I though of beating around the bush! Here’s something interesting: any 6-digit number whose first-3 and last-3 digits are identical can be divided perfectly by 7, 11 and 13 (in any sequence) to arrive at the 3 digits again. Why? Because 7*11*13=1001. And, ABCABC/1001=ABC.

330330/(7*11*13*10)=330330/(1001*10)=330/10=33.

A dampener

Oceanside Photo & Telescope is unable to ship Celestron products outside of the United States or Canada due to a contractual obligation.

Really sucks. I was looking forward to procuring the Celestron C65 soon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Santosh lands a job

15th August proved lucky for my roommate!

Happy Independence Day!

Independence is a good thing, especially if it’s from an imperial power. I always looked forward to 15th Aug - for a holiday and toffees from school when I was a kid, and for only a holiday now.

I don’t mind being an Indian. Given a choice, however, I would never choose India.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Speaks Volumes

India is an audiophile’s nightmare – a billion+ people are perfectly at ease with atrocious acoustics. Blame lack of knowledge, poor or non-existent taste and a music ecosystem that lays no demands on hi-fi.

But there are two exceptions: Sonodyne & Cadence. While the former is trying hard to woo the mainstream listener, the latter is an elitist and completely at odds with what one comes to expect from an Indian manufacturer of audio systems.

image I first read about Cadence when I was in Pune. I learnt about how 3 audiophiles (2 Indians and 1 German) met at the redoubtable Osho Commune and teamed up to form a one-of-its-kind audio manufacturing unit in Mundhwa, Pune. Acoustics gained precedence over aesthetics - this is vouched for by each for its products. Don’t be fooled by looks, there’s raw power underneath the hood.image

Cadence has won rave reviews globally although they’ve not  been able to scale up production to gain the visibility accorded to other renowned brands like Bose and Onkyo. They don’t mass manufacture, they don’t advertise, they don’t offer promotions and discounts, they don’t try gimmicks and they don’t compete with anyone. There have been instances when people from abroad have come all the way to India just to buy their products. Sachin Tendulkar owns a Cadence.

I hope to be the proud owned of a Cadence some day. Will make do with a low-end Bose until then!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Self Reminder: Buy

telescope

Celestron

C65 - 2.65" f/12.9 Mini Mak Zoom Spotting Scope

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Glassware

It has been almost a week since I last wore my glasses. I’m not missing it particularly, except when a pretty creature walks by.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Skipping lunch doesn’t really help

The pizza that’s inevitable ordered a few hours later to placate my howling tummy does more harm than good!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How much they sleep!

It’s half-past-10 in the morning and these guys are still asleep. Amazing.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mosquito Mechanics

I come home from office. No power. I change, lie down in the dark and listen to Hawking and Dawkins on my Nokia talk about Quantum Mechanics. Mosquitoes soon unearth me and plunge their straws into my bloodstream. I escape to the terrace.

I walk in circles and try to continue with the lectures. I can’t, as the suckers have distracted me and left itchy sensations all over my legs. I switch to FM, some ballistic tune immediately compels me to the next station - the tame Vividh Bharati. A play offers me precious moments of respite. The good thing ends soon.

My nightly dubba is brought to my doorstep. Just as the guy is leaving, power bedazzles us.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Question

image Heard about 146 pilgrims dying at the temple of Shri Naina Devi Ji due to a stampede? I wonder what the presiding deity was doing while innocent devotees were being trampled to death. Perhaps she was digging into a pizza at the Domino’s!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Benjamin Zander: Classical music with shining eyes

One of the most inspirational talks I’ve ever heard.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Yahoo! Annual Shareholders Meeting

I have tried (successfully) to avoid covering technology in my blog since the past one month. However, I’m too passionate about Yahoo! and the annual shareholders meeting was something the entire tech industry was looking forward to, especially since the high-profile and unsolicited  acquisition bid from Microsoft fell through. I’ve thus exempted myself from the constraint just this one time.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I have a drinking problem

Startling, but irrefutable. It was time to finally come out with the truth and face the problem head on. My friends don’t even have an inkling. Fie on them, I say! Each fill leaves me on a high and I promise never to crave for it again. But it’s only a matter of hours before I have this irrepressible urge for yet another fill. Alas! I’m seriously addicted to mango juice.