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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.