Saturday, February 28, 2009

The antics of the higher education department

The slumbering higher education department of Karnataka has woken up with a jolt to the noble cause of inculcating patriotic sentiments in the college-going students and teachers of the city and neighboring districts. To this end, it has issued a circular directing mandatory attendance of all students and faculty of colleges in and around Bangalore at Palace Grounds today to attend an anti-terrorism rally! Those failing to attend have been promised strict action. Call it a democracy of coercion! Around 25,000 are expected to attend.  The degree to which traffic across the city will be thrown out-of-gear is unfathomable. I’m even getting SMSes from Bangalore Police to avoid certain roads.

What the hell were the organizers thinking? What will be achieved by those attending the rally braving the scorching heat? A few wannabe terrorists will suddenly be cleansed of sinister intent and choose to become great apostles of peace? Motivational talks by rotten politicians will launch a thousand careers in non-violence? Students will learn the art of unarmed combat? Night-vision cameras will help pupils moonlight as neighborhood guards? Terrorists from across the border will panic and run amok? Osama will embrace the Gita?

Wanna learn how to waste your life? India welcomes you!

Junking Junk Food

Call it the clarion call. I’ve been living on junk food for over a decade and it’s high time I turned to all the goodies that nature has to offer. Though food malls are a great way to save money, they’re pretty far from where I stay and my only recourse lies in the kirana shops and fruit carts. Here’s a comparison from what I purchased from the kiranas over the past 2 days:

Kirana / Cart Food Mall
Carrots Rs.20 / kilo Rs.10 / kilo
Grapes Rs.50 / kilo Rs. 35 / kilo

Friday, February 27, 2009

My new pal

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I couldn’t pull myself away from this cute little bull dog. Since I couldn’t lug it around, I decided to harbor it in my blog. I must now think of a name.

Tapping into the root of the matter

Carrot_jumps

Why am I always hungry? I never had such a big belly before! I decided to cut down on the cost of keeping myself fed in these times of economic hardship by building a ready stock of carrots. I heard they’re good for the eyes as well – should be handy in keeping me focused.

If you need any irrefutable proof of just how abysmal a time we are living through, DepressionCooking should be it. It’s a treasure-trove from a great-grandmother who has seen it all before. Lap it up, people!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Making light of dark matter

The tube light has finally ‘choked’ to death. It seems to have taken the entry of my energy-efficient lamp to heart and simply refuses to be lit anymore. Well, to be honest, it did work for a day or two…but that was it. There’s nothing wrong with my new lamp, just that it’s plugged directly to the switchboard and the height disadvantage hurts my eyes. Anyway, its 25W (equivalent to a 120W incandescent bulb) is enough for my tiny room…better than a dim extended source of light.

My Twitter page, until now, had a near-black background. I slightly brightened it by ‘stealing’ a rather attractive background-image file from a site put up to celebrate the Oscar awards. One could also use it as a wallpaper. Why do I generally espouse dark backgrounds? Because, they’re more energy-efficient! They are easy on the eye and spotting icons also becomes effortless. However, they may be avoided if text is to be directly written on them.

I’m sure most people have failed to notice that my blog’s background color has changed recently. It’s now only a shade lighter, an imitation from my Orkut page.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire Triumphs @ the Oscars

One could mistake the 81st Annual Academy Awards for being themed on India. So complete was the dominance of Slumdog Millionaire that I was actually tired of my own exaltation.

I liked the movie but never imagined it fit for the Oscars. Rahman winning for the Best Original Song and Best Original Score was shocking. Was there no competition? Rahman is a genius by Indian standards, but ‘Jai Ho’ being adjudged the Best Original Song at the summit is impossible for me to digest. And what was so outstanding about the score?

Anyway, the movie deserves adulation for its hard-hitting and in-your-face depiction of the lives of millions of people living in the ghettos of Mumbai. What’s incredible is that it took a British filmmaker to show us the ever-elusive ‘real’ India. Not surprisingly, Bollywood, which largely thrives on spinning a glittery world of ephemeral escape for those who have to struggle hard to make ends meet – many of whom stay in ghettos, hasn’t been overtly enthusiastic about the movie. Some stars, pseudo-intellectuals cocooned in affluence and far removed from reality, can hardly relate to the depiction of abject living. They complain of foreigners repeatedly projecting our poverty to the rest of the world; and yet, they never tire of scripts revolving around their signature brand of implausible romance . I wonder how much of their immensely incommensurate wealth is ever donated for a social cause. Perhaps our ‘stars’ need to be quizzed on what troubles them more – the very real poverty of India or its depiction on screen.

It’s time to rejoice in the glory Slumdog Millionaire has won for us.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why do women man electronic/electrical stores?

I remember scouring a city years ago for a CD player. I chanced upon an audio store with 2 women at the counter. I knew it was a waste talking to them about the technical details of what I was looking for. Still, I tried my luck and asked unenthusiastically if they stocked CD changers. One of the women looked at me quizzically and asked – What’s a CD changer? Educating people was not what I did for a living. I didn’t pursue the issue any further.

The tube-light in my room has been having problems for the past few days and we suspected it was the choke to blame. I thought it better to buy one of those energy-efficient fluorescent lamps than to get the choke repaired. I had spotted an electrical shop in our locality and decided yesterday to buy the lamp from there. Yeah, I didn’t know it was manned by a woman. I asked for what I was looking and the woman showed me some. Not once did she volunteer to show me what was available, I had to specifically ask. And after I had pestered her enough to make my choice, I asked for the price. She bluntly pointed at the MRP. People shouldn’t  mistake MRP (Maximum Retail Price) for ORP (Only Retail Price). I protested saying that fluorescent lamps generally retail for a lot less then the MRP. She stood her turf, the ignorant fool that she was.

I tried another electrical store a little further away. The young boy knew what he was selling and I was a happy customer, saving a good Rs.50 on what the woman had finally settled for after a lot of haggling.

My new lamp works just fine. It’s from Crompton Greaves.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Proud

accenture

The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals has announced the world's best outsourcing service providers in 2008.

Following are the top 10 global outsourcing companies, excluding the Indian firms in the list:

The Top 10 global outsourcing companies
Accenture (Rank 1)
IBM (Rank 2)
Sodexo (Rank 4)
Capgemini (Rank 5)
Hewlett Packard (Rank 8)
EDS (Rank 12)
ACS (Rank 13)
CGI group (Rank 14)
SPi (Rank 17)
Colliers International (Rank 18)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Evangelizing Twitter

13 months too late

I learnt at a forum yesterday of the sad and untimely demise of Mrs.Meera Sinha, my former Hindi teacher and principal of GSPS.

If I was mortified of school, Hindi must be partly to blame. The onset of every academic year was like an exercise in morbid speculation about who the new agent of terror would be in the form of my Hindi teacher. If it was a familiar face, at least I wouldn’t have to suffer all over again the ignominy of letting someone else gradually discover how poor I was at the subject. My formula for subsistence during Hindi period was simple: keep yourself glued to the bench as long as possible, hide behind anything or anyone, never utter a word and never raise your hand. In effect, keep a low profile and be as invisible as possible.

I wouldn’t always manage to escape unnoticed though. When the piercing gaze finally fell on me, it was like laser cutting through my head and discovering nothing inside. I would then offer a silent prayer and hope for clemency. I knew it was too much, especially since the teacher had already suffered endless pages of gibberish in my notebook that I would have to routinely submit. I survived those horrific moments purely on humanitarian grounds.

There were exceptions. Mrs.Meera Sinha was surely the best of them. Not only was I not terrified, I was the star of her class. She always had words of encouragement for me and I never felt embarrassed of my weakness. Her guiding me was in no way confined to her subject, she was there whenever I needed someone for help. She even showed me off to Sapna teacher as her most well-mannered and obedient student. Sapna teacher went on to become one of my favorite and most entertaining teachers in the years ahead. Some years later, by when I had outgrown Mrs.Sinha’s class, she once had to step in for substitution. Spotting me, she at once came close and asked me how I was doing. As usual, no one else enjoyed this personal attention. A few years later, she was transferred to GSPS as its principal. I had no doubt in my mind that this was a very wise move.

In all these years since I left my alma mater, I’ve had this recurring dream of revisiting my primary school, walking through its sacred aisles and…meeting Mrs.Sinha to express my gratitude and indebtedness to her for making me feel special. Alas, that’s no longer possible.

I hope many others have been lucky enough to be guided by my wonderful mentor.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rear View Mirror

I love looking back, especially at landscapes that have gifted me with fond memories. This explains why I’m constantly on the lookout for news on Fergusson College.

I’m happy to learn that my college, an ever-enthusiast of astronomy, has been celebrating the International Year of Astronomy in a big way, the latest being a 1-day workshop for the non-teaching staff.

Here’s more.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Bicentennial, Charles Darwin!

Charles Darwin Giclee Print by Julia Margaret Cameron

Today marks the 200th birth anniversary of the man who was recognized by TIME magazine as the greatest iconoclast of the last millennium. Indeed, his ideas are so radical and avant garde even for the present generation that academia all over the world covertly avoid mention of his On the Origin of Species as it directly contradicts cherished ideas propounded by religion.

Theists, emboldened by mankind’s innate vulnerability to embracing ideas of self-preservation, have steadfastly refused to assimilate evidences that prove the contrary.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Twhirl

image

Twhirl is a fantastic Twitter client. It’s bewildering how the modes of communication keep changing.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Railways shuns side middle berths

What a relief!

Having already introduced a third foldable berth between the two side berths in around 7,000 AC-3 and Sleeper class coaches in the past few months, the Indian Railways, facing immense flak over passenger discomfort, is ready to give the idea a quiet burial.

Even as the Railway Ministry recently sought a feedback on the move from the travelling public by putting up a feedback form on its reservation website, senior Railway Ministry officials told The Indian Express that an “in principle” decision has already been taken that no new coaches manufactured from now on will have the additional berth.

Also, the Railways has dropped the idea of retrofitting another 9,000 coaches it had planned to earlier. However, the existing “high-capacity coaches”, as they are called, will continue to be used by passengers, said ministry sources.

“A significant sum of money has already been spent in providing the extra berth in around 7,000 coaches. While most of these coaches were old and retrofitted with the additional berth, some new coaches have also been made to have this provision. There is no going back on this. What we have decided is that no new coaches manufactured from now on will have this provision,” a senior Rail Bhavan official, requesting anonymity, said.

Railways original plan was to retrofit as many as 16,000 existing coaches with the extra berth and introduce it in all new coaches being manufactured. Now, to address problems being faced in high-capacity coaches, the Railways is planning to operate these trains on short-distance overnight routes and not the longer ones.

Introducing this additional berth had enabled the Railways to increase the seating capacity in AC 3 coaches from 64 to 72 and in Sleeper coaches from 72 to 81.

The Railways had also offered discounts ranging between 4 to 8 per cent in these high-capacity coaches. However, the move led to sharp public outcry with hundreds of passenger complaints pouring in.

One of the primary complaints related to the fact that the passenger using this extra-berth to sleep during the night was being accommodated with the three passenger using the berth on the cabin side to sit during the daytime. Another problem arose when the Railways decided to put a few high-capacity coaches in between conventional coaches. “This sent the entire seating system haywire. A person who was allotted a lower berth at the time of booking found himself on an upper berth at the time of travel because the conventional coach had been replaced by a high-capacity one,” an official explained.

An Indian Express Report

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Net @ Home

Didi finally has Internet access at home and we spoke over Skype yesterday for over an hour. Diya sounds so sweet! Buada did all the hard-work with the initial setup.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Who? Me?

I received a mail from the webmaster of EyeFloaters asking for an unbiased review of the site on my blog. It’s tempting but I must politely turn down the request as I wouldn’t like to deviate from the primary purpose of my page – to log my (mis)deeds.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A precious snap

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Didi & I…when life was at its sweetest.