Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Leaving for Vancouver



I'm heading off to Vancouver tomorrow, for the World Universities Debating Championships. This is a city famous for Salmon. It has more Chinese and Sardars than white people, and is horrendously cold and rainy right now. So basically, it should be fun.

More importantly, its the end of a very excruciatingly long December, which albeit full of fun and frolic and tremendous amounts of activity, tend to bog one down. I need a break, and its not something I'm getting any time soon.

On a more progressive note, do check out xkcd, in my opinion the funniest comic strip on the web to date. They make jokes about matrices. And the periodic table. Now that's just class.

Back in a week's time, with hopefully a decent travelogue.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Three Years



Is a long time indeed.

Just because I haven't the time of late doesn't mean I don't love you any less.

Happy Bloggiversary.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hehe...I haven't posted for a while, but that's cos Legala and SF were taking up too much of my time:) But this was so totally worth it. Guess what I found while surfing during Consti Law class...

http://Manav.Kapur.dotale.com/?loc=New.Delhi&gen=m&story=12&date=28th November, 2006&partner=Vrinda


Cheers!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Three Blind Mice



See how they run.

Goddamn scientists want to take away our nursery rhymes now. What next? They'll figure out how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Green Apples make me happy



Yeah, so I'm going to Canada representing my college as a debater in the World Univ. Debating Championships. My term is not going disastrously. My posts and emails from now on will have flawless spelling because Firefox 2 is sweet enough to have inbuilt spell check. I have, after procrastinating for ages decided upon my first major on the basis of one class in Financial Options Trading with my megalomaniac Finance Professor. I even got over a long bugbear, and have been particularly thankful for the same. However, none of this makes me quite as happy as biting into a nice sour Granny Smith. Green Ones. From Cold Storage.

I had an interesting conversation with Joey today. Well, I found it interesting, I'm sure it bored the hell out of him. It was late, and he entered the college 7-11 which by the way should damn well be open 24-7 but was shut at 10:30. The shutters weren't down yet, and the teller was still there and one was generally lambasting the fact that you couldn't make a last minute sale. I mean, it seems so stupid. We're ready to GIVE you money and buy things, more sales for you if you just spend 1 minute more, but you don't and pack off. Why? Well, things are a lil' bit different for these franchisee outlets, and the people who own the franchises aren't necessarily the people behind the counter. This means that they're getting a fixed salary, and have no incentive to stay for that extra sale. Contrast this with Mama-Papa or Kinara convenience stores in Singapore and India, and you'll find them open at odd hours and ready and willing to make the sale, cos they've got a stake. Take not, Messrs Reliance ADAG with the launch of India's most ambitious retail network, the Reliance Stores. Innocuously, the first Reliance Fresh outlet opened in Hyderabad a few days back. The interesting part about Reliance is, although they may not be the best in the segments they enter, their scope and breadth of capital that they pump into any new venture forces the best to come out and be competitive. Take for example, Indian Mobile industry, which only became the incredibly large force that it is today post Reliance Infocomm. I mean, if anyone has used Reliance Infocomm, you'll know that its a crap service, but its price points made the rest sit up and pay attention. I'm interested in seeing how Reliance will work in its "I wanna be Wal-Mart" incarnation. I'm interested in seeing if they're going to run my Kinara store out of business one day, because its something that happened very quickly in the United States and Singapore, but has faced amazing opposition in Hong Kong and China. I'm interested even more in seeing how much in 5 years time Reliance is going to do to solve a lot of rural problems, that of guaranteed crop prices at market rates, that of crop insurance and contract farming for the same. I'm interested in seeing how Reliance sells things to a rural market, because you're only really rich if you can buy things, and making farmers rich is quite pointless unless you also give them things to buy, so that they can make other people rich too. I'm interested, because once again there's a solution in my country to a problem the government is incapable of solving, making people rich.
But most of all, I'm interested because in Singapore, there are no apples. They get them from somewhere else. And they're fresh, and given the cost of living here, very affordable. And they taste great, and the quality is good and standardized. I buy them quite conveniently from Cold Storage. I'm interested because Delhi also has no apples. We get them from somewhere else, and sadly they're not fresh and frequently don't taste very good. I want to go back and buy them one day from Reliance Fresh, or their best competitor. I want quality stuff to reach me at a good price. I want my juicy sour Granny Smith's, goddammit.
Because Green Apples make me happy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Its Complicated



Eid Mubarak, Shubh Diwali and Happy New Year, as may be your persuasion.
I live in a strange world. It's getting tougher and tougher to keep things simple, and I'm pretty fond of keeping things simple. But lest I start rambling on about nothing at all, let me make some sense of things.
Gender roles are getting increasingly muddled these days. Feminism has redefined the landscape for women, and as a strong proponent of human rights (I am a libertarian after all), this is a wonderful thing. Sadly, it didn't come with a refresher course for guys on how to deal with it. Now, I'm lucky. I've grown up in an environment of equality, at my house and school. It doesn't surprise or shock me, as it does many members of my gender. Pelt me if you like, but you've got to feel for a lot of guys out there who're just clueless about how to deal with this brave new world. I don't think they can. So they join orkut and ask for "fraandship".
Hell, its not even easy for me, or my demographic. There are very hazy and undefined lines between being chivalrous and being condescending; between smothering and caring; between joking around and being unacceptable. Sadly, there's only one real way to find these lines. Fortunately, I'm used to the school of hard knocks.
I live in a complicated political world. It used to be quite simple, things used to make people happy or sad. Somewhere along the line, things changed. In school, I loved to be oblivious to all the power plays and politics because...it just didn't suit me. Then one day, it hit me and I felt very dissapointed with the world. This year, in college I'm having to learn all over again. That there exists a tough but very important job of balancing egos, responsibilities, the present, the future and your own godforsaken ambitions.
I used to do this juggling act by writing out about things that I liked, things that were important, things I hated. You need an outlet to get you through your head, after all. Especially if your brain like mine is always set on hyperactive overdrive. I guess that's why many bloggers have mild neurotic disorders. At least their writing points to the same.
Somewhere along the line, I stopped writing. But this is my outlet, my way out. Lest I forget that, let me start writing again.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mushie Baby Speaks Out



The world's biggest weasel, topping even George W. Bush and Arjun Singh speaks out today, and I love this. I mean, I've heard it before but he just puts it so damn well.

"Does one call terrorists in Sri Lanka Hindu terrorists? Why is Pakistan's bomb called an Islamist bomb? Why is India's bomb not called a Hindu bomb and that of Israel as a Jewish bomb?"

Umm...lets see. The reason a lot of people, shudder, use the word Islamic Terror, Islamo-Fasicism is that rightly or wrongly, its being done in the name of Islam. Sri Lanka's terrorists want a Tamil, not hindu homeland, and thus they are branded Tamil Terrorists (tigers, whatever have you). I wasn't exactly aware Israel had a bomb, though I garauntee you when they finally announce that they do, it'll be called a Jewish Bomb.
See, when terrorism is done in the name of something, to do this wonderful thing called differentiation, so that people know what you're talking about, we attach tags and names to things. Therefore, terrorism done in the name of Chairman Mao, god burn his soul, is called Maoist Terrorism. Terrorism done in the name of Islam is called Islamic terrorism. If this kind of association pisses you off,Mr. Musharraf as an Islamic Moderate any more or less than it would piss a Tam Bram off that people are calling the Tamil Tigers Terrorists, or piss a hindu moderate off when the world Hindu Fundamentalism is used in conjunction with RSS/Shiv Sena, then I think you've gone a long way in justifying the otherwise ludicrous opinions of the west vis as vis Islamophobia.

But sigh, who are we as Indians to lecture Mushie on the question of offending sensibilities. This is my country which banned Da Vinci Code, Water, Fire, The Satanic Verses, Coke, Pepsi, The display of Nude Art, and about a thousand other things because it "offended someone's sensibilities". I wish people would grow up, but then I read our constitution and realise they're not going to. Because our freedoms are not absolute, so they don't have to care.

Such is life.

I'm very busy. And very happy. I think I'm in love. Again. It keeps happening every so often. Quite pleasing.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

With Portifolio



I'm exiting my teens. As of tomorrow, I'm in the 20th year of my life. I'm currently in denial, however, and just as I've not been single for two and a half years(a now fixed period of time that shan't change for a good while), I'm going to be 18 for another 2-3 years. The way I see it, I still pass off for 16-17 so I have no honest right to claim that I'm no longer a teenager. So sucks to anyone who thinks they're going to make me older than I actually am.

I'm with portifolio now. I've been elected (heh) to the post of President of the SMU Debating Society. We have a logo now, and a catchy tag line. I'm very impressed.

Finance Jokes



No. They don't work. They're just simply wrong. I've been subjected to Finance-related-jokes by Prof Who Shall Not Be Named(I have to learn to be politically correct and diplomatic now that I'm with Portifolio). These are so cringe worthy that I've even lost my patience for jokes on maths and science. Afore mentioned Prof is also a megalomaniac and makes me look like a humble and modest youth (can I stress the word youth a little more to you people, I'm so not ready to get older).
Sample these gems.

"No Finance, no Romance"
"Random. Its a word, its origins are from Randy"
"Arbritage: There's always a sucker and a suckee. Don't be a sucker."
"For those of you who have a liquidity crisis, go ahead. Have more liquids or go do whatever you have to." (The most disturbing way EVER to announce a bathroom break)
"Why is Internal Rate of Return called the dog's metric? Because when you say it really fast, it sounds like IRR IRR IRR (eye-aarr-aar eye-aar-aar eye-aar-aar)."
The last particular one sort of loses its effect without Prof barking like a dog. I'm sad to say I mean that literally.

Suffice to say, this term shall drive me insane.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Heh.



The Kopitiam(Canteen/Food Court) outside of college has a pizza place which offers a Beef and Pork Pepperoni pizza, i.e pepperoni made of a beef and pork mix. This proves once and for all that it is possible to piss off both Hindus and Muslims at the same time.

Me? Its nice to be an atheist.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Forgotten Hero?



On Independance day, Indian TV channels run obligatory patriotic films on prime time and pretty much through the day as well. I'm guessing its a money spinner. Some are your old classics like Border, Gadar, Sunny Deol Kills a Lot of Pakis and Yells in The Process, and some are the new wave of period patriotic cinema, including but not limited to every single person playing Bhagat Singh. I had the misfortune to catch parts of an incredibly bad movie about well...an incredibly daft individual. Bose, the forgotten hero.

I tied it back to my trip to Manila, just before I had returned back home for my holidays. Over there. Talking to the local junta, and indeed Singaporean Junta sitting along with, there's a hell of a lot of continuing animosity against the Japanese. If you follow the news you'll know that their otherwise charming president has got himself into a hell of a lot of trouble with the Chinese by visiting old war shrines. See, here's why everyone has a problem. The Japanese imperial army was at the time some of the most vicious bunch of sick individuals walking the planet. They had in very simple terms no respect for human rights whatsoever. To say that carnage ensued where they went is putting it lightly. The population was tortured, the women were raped and/or forced into prostitution and everyone else was generally put through hell. In China, mass graves of over 100,000 were found. This is a ground army, may I remind you. Not an atomic bomb. 9.3 Million Chinese prisoners are estimated to have been killed, and only the relatively lower population of places like Singapore, Hawaii and Philipines kept that number lower over there. Horrific is a pleasant word for this. It puts even Hitler's Holocaust to shame, though seems to get far less publicity. Lets just say the Jews seem to market themselves better.

So here's the thing. The last thing any sane sensible person would want to do, especially an ASIAN sane sensible person during the world war is to invite the Japanese army to help take over your country. I mean, agreed the Brits at the time weren't the best thing going, but hell I don't think the UPA is any better in terms of securing my rights but seriously, the Japanese and the Germans weren't exactly popularity plus in the world at the time. So what does our Netaji do? He flees to Germany. Why? Cos they're at war with Britain, and anyone against the mother country can't be all that bad, right?

Before 500 angry bengalis attack me and tell me the times were different, I agree with you. They were. The entire asian region was petrified of having the Japanese anywhere near them for very obvious reasons. The rest of the freedom movement in India was against the idea of asking for Axis help too. I may bitch about Nehru, but even he stepped up and spoke against the facist rise in Spain, Italy and Germany. Stupid yes, but sane at least.

But here we have Netaji, who decides that he needs blood spilled for freedom (Hmm...I wonder who that sounds like now....oh whoops I forgot that the times have changed). We have a man who literally went and begged the Gerries and Japs to come and help him take over the country, and naive enough to believe that they'd just march right out afterwards. We had an insane fool at best, and a vicious facist supporter at worst. Both options don't seem pretty appealing. As far as his heroism goes, he managed to get himself killed and matryed, like everyone elses favourite insane mass murderer, Che Guevera.

I think its funny that if I mention to a Filipino, Chinese or Korean that in our country, we have a national hero who ran off, wanted to march in with Axis Support, and trained his army using Japanese help, they might even consider boycotting us, or generally issuing statements of distaste. But such are our heros. He was a great patriot, and that seems to be enough.

They say the Hezbollah are quite patriotic as well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Independance Day



I went out for a very nice breakfast today, at a place called Yellow Brick Road. Driving there, the streets were empty, almost deserted. My bua was much pleased, telling me how it was like the Delhi of old. Gone was the regular hustle-bustle and noise that makes a metropolis what it is, the entire place was empty, nary a person on Ring Road; the artery of Delhi.

Its time like these you question Independance Day. Great, so there haven't been any attacks today, so the terrorists will wait a few days. In exchange, my city is too terrified to step out, the airports are paranoid about people coming in or leaving and we've all accepted as a part of our lives the "Red Alert" that we're in. I'm dissapointed to be honest. I'm going back to Singapore tomorrow, and even though it is a token democracy, it is quite well functioning in terms of your basic rights. Critics abound over there over restrictions over freedom of speech, but the only people you can't criticise without getting into trouble are the Men In White (People's Action Party members). Here, there are a thousand holy cows. But free speech shockingly isn't even the highest of my worries. There's even my basic freedom of movement that's come into question.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I want freedom. I don't want Independance from having a foreign power making my laws. I want anyone making laws that empower me to do what I like. People don't get that. People are okay with shitty governance and shittier laws as long as they're ours. People value independance and our flag and our national symbols but they don't seem to value being able to step out of the house, or walk into a theatre without having to be checked. I value that, I'd like to live in a world where I can walk into a theatre even while carrying a bag, which quite frankly may contain a bomb. I'm mortal, and I know if people around me are crazy enough, they're going to kill me; whether that's because they're bad drivers and are going to get into an accident when I'm on the road, or because they're fundamentalists who think its going to send them to heaven, I really don't care. I'm more comfortable accepting it, and moving on with life. If they're going to get you, they're going to get you. They're crazy and are going to find ways to blow you up, no matter what you try to do. I think its time people realised that. There's no security from them. There's no stopping terrorist attacks, untill they stop terrorising you. Leave it be. Go to the hall, go to the airport and just relax.

That's how I learnt how to stop worrying, and love the bomb.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Honour My People



For centuries, my people have been systematically opressed. In asian societies in India and China, we've been labelled "wrong", "unnatural" and evil. The Catholic Church has spoken out against us, missionaries have resorted to capital punishment to make us conform. Even in today's enlightened times, clothes, sporting goods, instruments, and pretty much any object, building or proccess of note discriminates against us. I demand a correction of these historical wrongs! I demand a ten percent reservation in all institutions, to be in line with my representation in society! Goddammit, I demand my rights!

Hell, actually I don't. I'm left-handed by the way, and all the things written above are true. But we Southpaw's aren't much of a political demographic, nor are we a bunch of whiney wusses, so you'll never hear that kind of noise from our camp. Why would you? We've got the smartest brains, the coolest and most sexually prolific presidents and the rest of the jing bang as well. So Honour our People, just for today so that we can feel a bit important in the whole "lets be nice to minorities" scheme of things, because quite honestly no one seems interested in our lot. So here's to spreading the word.

I'm leaving this Wednesday, it's been fun.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dynafares



Budget airlines such as Air Deccan have, or used to have a flexible fare system known as Dynafare. This basically means that the earlier you book your ticket, the cheaper is the price you pay for it, up to a point. Also, if a ticket cannot be sold, a last minute booking is also going to be considerably cheaper. Here's the logic behind it. The only way to make revenue on a plane flight is to fill the thing. Its going to fly regardless, so your fixed costs are there whether you stuff it full or not, so it just makes plane(sic) (please excuse the pun) sense to not have any empty seats, even at the cost of giving them away dirt cheap. If you are a budget airline, your variable cost per passenger is also low, as you're not exactly providing much in terms of service. Basically, its a really smart move, that has only really backfired because there is an extreme mismatch in India over demand and supply of plane tickets, i.e everyone seems to want to fly. Something that our "Ooh, spending any money on yourself is a fucking luxury" stupid ass government didn't seem to think of. The point is that in a market where demand and supply are evenly matched, this is a great system to maximise your revenues, as you encourage people to a)get into your flight early, garaunteeing you revenue b) More people to fly, by booking early c) Filling up the last few seats which would otherwise have gone to last minute travellers taking a train or having to pay insane amounts for a fixed final fare on Jet or other full service airline.

Okay, not that I've dealt with the explanation, here's my idea. There's another industry with high fixed, low variable cost ratio, that is also dependant on people buying tickets, also involves a lot of cheapasses, and also has to deal with a large amount of stupid and overburdening tax. It's also targetting a very similiar economic demographic, which usually has the access to internet (Deccan usually has its bookings online) and credit/debit card payments. It's called The Multiplex.

See, especially for morning/afternoon shows on weekdays, you have a lot of theatres going plain empty (which is a good thing at certain times, but anyhow...) I'm sure this entails a lot of lost revenue for any cineplex. It would be interesting to see how a dynafare system for a movie theatre would work, if you could price tickets dynamically. It would be of great convinience and advantage as well, setting up the online system, as it would save you the bother of having to buy tickets beforehand. If anyone has an eye on petrol costs right now, I'm sure the little extra you'd spend on the credit card service charge would kind of account for the money you'd spend going to the theatre to buy tickets in advance. It doesn't make sense. As with airlines, a printed ticket system for the movies could also be set up, making life a lot easier.

Basically, I think a system where the ticket cost starts off cheap, and gets progressively more expensive as the hall fills up is a very good idea. It'll encoura the last 10-20 at higher than average rates, so the people who really want to see the movie but were too bloody lazy can pay to get in it. Its supply and demand at its finest.

It would be interesting to see a study on whether it could be implemented or not. It might succeed, but then it might also be a fantastic failure. As with these things, you never know till you try.

Happy Rakhi by the way. If you're Mika, you might get more than you bargained for.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Backlog



Okay, so I've been lazy. In my excuse I've actually had a decent amount to do, and have been spending the rest of the time (where I've not had a lot to do) doing pleasant things like reading very large novels. In the interim, I have gone to Gult-Land (Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad), organised a quiz for The Alma Mater, and done secret important things that are none of your business.

At any rate, here are the prelim main round questions(at least the notable dry ones), for those who might be interested. Leave your answers in the comments.

  • Let’s get it started. Commonly known as Rongi, or Lobia, these harmless little beans have been made quite famous, through oddly enough, the American Music Industry. Just tell me what their “Western” name is.
  • Mitchell Baker, the CEO of this organization has the designation of “Chief lizard wrangler” Name the organization
  • CryptoKids™ is a new initiative by the _________ Organisation. It’s a cartoon based learning site for children, starring Crypto Cat™, Decipher Dog™, Rosetta Stone, Slate, Joules, T.Top. It aims to encourage the youth to take up cryptology, and join _____, giving whole new meaning to catching them young. Which organization?
  • An _______ ___________ or Einser Vorhang was an obligatory precaution all German theatres had to take to prevent the spread of fire from the stage to the rest of the theatre. It was first used in its current context by Joesef Goebbels, who popularized the phrase. What are we talking about?
  • Okay, this is a visual depicting a kind of demon that visits nubile women at night and well, makes merry with them. What is it’s name?
  • The word ______ most likely comes from the Old Icelandic "______" meaning "bear shirt." This refers to Scandinavian warriors who wore, quite literally, bear shirts which they thought would render them invincible. These warriors would attack ferociously, and their name became synonymous with their attitude to life. Fill in the blanks.
  • The lunar cycle repeats itself every 28 days. This usually means that there is one full moon every month, as most months have 30-31 days. Every so often, a month will have a second full moon. What is this event called?
  • Connect Nyxem-D, Raymond India Ltd. and Sir Richard Francis Burton and Frederick Foster Arbuthnot’s seminal translation of an ancient text.
  • The official site for this new religion is www.venganza.org, which in Spanish means the vengeance. Its followers are called Pastafarians, and believe that Global Warming is a direct result of fewer pirates in the world today. Their prayers end with Ramen. This is the Church of the __________ ____________ ______________. Fill in the blanks.
  • His real name is Mahakshay, but since the name seems hard to pronounce, _______, his Father, decided to make it _______, which is both, short and sweet. In fact the name is a combination of Michael Jackson and Mohammed Ali who happens to be his father's idols. He’ll be making his film debut in the upcoming release “He- The Only One”. Name him, or the father.
  • According to Zainol Abidin Abdul Rashid of Malaysia's space science institute, "following Earth time and facing in the direction of Earth are the key elements to solving the problem". This is a new problem, being faced for the first time by Malaysia’s space program. The National University of Malaysia was employed to produce a program to solve the problem. What’s the problem?
  • She once told Malcolm Forbes that "you may be publishing the capitalist tool but I publish the capitalist carrot, as it makes it worth all that hard work!" She is the CEO of a publishing and merchandising company, taking over the reigns from her illustrious father. Her, and the Company.
  • Okay, so the Ravens at the Tower of London had to be moved inside, to “Protect the british empire” in February of this year. Put Funda as to why.
  • Heidi Klum has sent us to hell. Who about what?
  • Its been produced exclusively by McIlhenny Company, a family owned business, since 1868. The product measures between 2500-5000 units on the Scolville scale. The product shares a strong relation with the US Military, appearing in Military Rations, and was also recently used in space. What am I talking about?
  • Composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, sung by Shankar Mahadevan, and propped by Amithabh Bachan, this has a lot of big names behind it. It’s a part of a larger rebranding campaign, entitled “Think Bigger” which aims to make this brand more youthful and consumer oriented. What am I talking about?
  • During his tenure as chairman of West Bengal board of industries, he made countless overseas trips to promote FDI, signing Memorandum’s Of Understanding. This earned him the nickname “MOU-Da”. He was born in Tezpur, Assam and of his more recent held positions is the chairman of Santiniketan Sriniketan Development Authority. Incidentally, its his happy birthday today. Identify please.
  • Okay, so this US organization (name withheld) awards a certain award, known as the Golden Fleece award to senators and government organisations across the united states. It was started in the mid 70’s, and awardees include · United States Department of the Army for a 1981 study on how to buy a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, and Rep. Don Young, in charge of a 315 million dollar bridge project in Alaska. What is the award in honour of?
  • In Liverpool, the town council recently voted to rename several streets previously named after individuals linked with the Slave Trade, of which Liverpool was a major center. One street, however, has been spared, named after James _______, a wealthy 18th century slave ship owner. Which street, and why?
  • He started out his career with Zee TV, working for some 1500 hours. His first break as a music director came with the film Pyaar Kiya toh Darna Kya. Two years later, he got his first Solo Break, with Dulhan Hum toh Le Jayenge. He became a popular composer for Salman Khan Productions. Some of his less inspiring works include the music for Tarzaaan the Wonder Car, and Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya (please do not watch these films). Who am I talking about?
  • The story goes that X made a bet with his team captain about whether he would win a certain Davis Cup match. If he won, his prize would be a alligator skin suitcase. He won the match and got his nickname as a result. Who?
  • When the company took its catchy rhyming phrase for its Vacuum Cleaner “nothing sucks like an _______” and brought it to America from English-speaking markets overseas, they failed to take into consideration the fact that “sucks” had become a derogatory word in the States. The serious language barrier persuaded the firm to turn to a U.S.-based PR firm for future ad campaigns. Which company?
  • England-West Indies test series in 1928-29. Walter Robbins, the English batsman was stumped and on his way to the pavilion said "Fancy getting out to a ______". What?
  • Zorbing video : What are these people doing?
  • Nicknamed the dynamite from TNT, this guy named his daughter after the city where he gave arguably his best performance. Who?
  • He was born in Luton, Bedfordshire. He had a fine first class season in 2005, where he took 46 wickets at 21.54, was followed by a stint at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide. In his international debut at Nagpur, he picked up his first international wicket, that of Sachin Tendulkar. Who?
  • It was created in 1994 and installed on the web in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, who also created the Portland Pattern Repository. It means "hurry quick" in Hawaiian. It also refers to a type of native fish of the islands. What word is this?
  • The mechanism used to open and close the stage curtains during a performance gave rise to this phrase. The hope is that the performance will be so well received and the bows of the performer will be so frequent and sustained that this mechanism collapses. Which phrase?
Answer away. Cheers

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Corporate



0/5



I do not give this rating lightly. For a piece of cinema to be so goddamn awful as to not elicit a single star, mark or general sign that it was worth its while there must be something that puts a smile, frown or any sort of emotion on your face from the time the movie starts to the closing credits. Corporate failed on all accounts. There are exceedingly bad films out there, like Govinda's Gambler, or Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, but even these have their moments or are just so plain laugh out loud bad that that is what you are doing. Corporate is like none of the above, it is just plain unbearable.

Here is what was wrong with it. A few of the things, anyhow.

A plot. A plot is a nice thing to have in a film. Not essential, as some pleasant timepass flicks have shown us, but it is one of those things you'd rather come into the theatre expecting. Here's the thing, when you have a film that is not dominated by a two person relationship, a plot becomes even more important, because you're no longer relying on character chemistry. Corporate's plot read like the machinations of some cheap Saas Bahu TV Serial, with double crossers and evil relatives and whodunnit at every turn.

Characterisation: If you don't have a plot, good characters can save the day and win you a point or two. The characters in Corporate are not only one dimensional, they frequently aren't exactly sure what they're upto, or why they're doing the things they are. Bipasha Basu, who's eyes we are seeing the story move through, for some reason moves from career oriented corporate hotshot to simpering bimbo in two scenes, with the arrival of Kay Kay. Kay Kay himself, who one till now respected as an actor, seemed to have only one emotion on his face at all times, complete and abject bitterness. It didn't help that he must have downed 5 crates of Black Label whisky during the course of the film. They kill him off in the end, and that almost wins half a point, but its way too late in the movie for me to care. The characterization of the Corporate World itself is so scarily black and white that one wonders what would happen if people accepted this as the truth. The entire Corporate World seemed so commited to Bottom Line, that they could not think beyond 1 month of profit or indeed the consequences of any of their actions. Everyone is so frikkin deceitful, backstabbing and just plain unethical that it's a wonder any business can happen in our country. Now, I'm not so naive as to believe that all things are bright and beautiful, but for god sakes! Had Hundi Hai!

Dialogue: It's always nice to have a few decent lines to a movie, something you come out remembering. This movie has none. There are abrupt scenes, where characters say things like "Okay", "Thanks" or other similiar one lines to end conversations. There is no flow to anything anyone is doing or saying. People say things like "Sabse Best", and while I am all for language integration, there are some things that sound innately stupid. Sabse Best is one of them.

Reality: This is usually a moot point in Bollywood cinema, with a general willing suspension of disbelief. But when a film is touted to be "researched" and an insight into the corporate world, you expect at least a minimal attention to detail. Sadly, this is not the case. Stock Prices fluctuate Wildly. A new drink entering the market somehow captures a 66% market share in a month. Top secret documents are stored in a laptop which for some odd reason hasn't been password protected. Neither have the files for that matter. These are thinkpads, by the way, who are one of the Product Placements in the film. I don't know why they agreed, because they're supposed to be your safe as a brass locker business laptop. Over here, all you needed was a hooker and a pen drive to find and steal critical files. Board Room meetings, that seem to involve everyone but the actual board of directors. Corporations being run like family companies. The Chairman of the group for instance, on a whim decides to hire his Brother in Law as CEO. Corporate Governance be damned...

Generally, the only expression that one could actually muster out of the whole experience was a constant cringe. One wonders why this film was made. My father thinks it's because the director wanted to take out Khundak on people who he didn't like, and thus made them into caricatures in the film. I don't think its too far from the truth.

Under no circumstances should you watch this film. Go see Krissh if you have to, at least it has some nice shots of Singapore.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Deciphering Dubai



I was having a discussion with my father and his brother the other day about cities, and one asked how Dubai had managed to do so well considering it hardly had any seed money of oil, something quite similiar to Singapore. My uncle said something quite interesting, Dubai's success was thanks to Nehru and Shastri. That got me reading up a bit.

So here's how it worked. Nehru in his often stated brilliance imposed severe restrictions on the trade and price of Gold in India. The sheik of Dubai had free trade in Gold, and was well, a smuggler's paradise. Combine the two and you have possibly the largest movement of illegal gold trade in the 20th century, between India and Dubai. Figures, sadly, aren't exactly freely available for the sheer amount of trade that took place since it was all kind of illegal. But figure it out for yourself. Dubai has about 1/20th the Oil reserves of Abu Dhabi and was pretty much a creek with a palace 30 years back. They started building some serious infrastructure post that, and the city now speaks for itself.

It's kinda ironic when you think about it, though. Everyone curses the brain drain, and how the best talent goes towards developing the states. Even more criminal (quite literally so actually) is that we also seem to have funded the development of a very successful city state buy buying copious quantities of Gold in black money from there.

The world never ceases to amuse me.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Christians and Credit Cards



The Christian Religion has always been one that is actively involved in bringing you into their fold, but either I've been awakened from my own world a little more the last few months, or something is afoot. Now, I am singling this out because I haven't ever had hindu friends out to get me to pray or follow weirdass customs, not even my own family's Pundit who is quite understanding when I'd like to get a Havan thread tied to my left wrist rather than my right. In the same breath, I've never had any Muslim friends or general contacts who've ever tried to show me the way of Allah. I've indeed had discussions about Buddhism of both Chinese and Thai branches with friends without them ever even bringing up the "Join Us, Luke, join the Dark Side" discussion. Ditto with my Sikh friends.
Christianity I have observed, is just bloody well different.

Christians are out to convert me. Frequently.

Lets take a case in point as Singapore, which seems to be turning into militant christianities new homeground. Now, I have no problem with people practicing whatever faith they will, in whatever space they might have. However, I do dislike when this intrudes upon mine. My college has a few annoying Christian Groups in this regard, who mail you before exams, or before term starts to tell you how God will help you through it all, and how they're holding prayer groups for you. In addition, I have had classmates invite me to church to "see the light" as it may be. Its definitely not a faith of live and let live.

But singapore, with its...I assume christian majority is still understandable. What I don't get is how in Delhi, at Priya nonetheless I can be accosted by two Italian Catholics telling me to bow down to the Pope. Okay, they didn't use those words, but I wish they had because they gave out these damn silly pamphlets telling me how my life was shit and how Jesus was a Handyman (this is the part I'm not making up, by the way) with tools to fix all my problems, as long as I invited him in. Now, honestly. Why two blokes would travel all the way to Delhi to spread the word of Jesus the Plumber is well beyond me. They're headquartered in Bangalore, by the way, this particular group of Missionairies, so god bless all you IT types. Quite literally.

I'm still against any law that says I don't have the freedom to choose the faith I would like to practice, or change the one I do practice, but at the same time I would like laws governing how these people choose to go about it in much the same way as I'd like laws banning Credit Card Companies from harrassing you over the phone. It is an invasion of my privacy. If was unhappy with either my faith, or indeed my credit card provider I would actively seek a change. There's no dearth of either Credit Cards of religious institutions, so I'm sure I'd find my way around.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Of Telegraphs



This is a tale of the times of the British annexation(?). (please fo excuse the fact that I'm not quite conversant with the details of the story.In essence, it is right.) The British government had in its employ a certain Sir Charles Napier, who was the incharge of the attacks in the North West Frontier Province and the Punjab region. When he succesfully attacked and conquered the aforementioned regions, he was supposed to telegraph his superiors in London. He penned one of the most ingenous telegrams ever.* "Peccadive",quoth he. The Latin past tense of the verb, 'to sin'.(for those as slow as me: I have Sinned).

Just plain beautiful.

I got this off a Wonderful book which i read while in college, 'Bully to Brontosaurus' by Stephen Jay Gould. I have been meaning to recommend it for quite a while now. Its a collection of superbly written and fascinating scientific essays. Some (such as The Panda's Left Thumb) are a brilliant and interesting read. Do give it a shot if you can.

*Oh yes, another of my favourites is the one exchanged by Victor Hugo and his publisher. When Les Miserables was published, Hugo was in France, and wanted to find out how it was faring in England. He telegraphed his publisher with a "?". His publisher replied with a "!".

Monday, June 19, 2006

Meri Dilli, Meri Jaan



Home is where the heart is, or its where the hearth is; take it how you will. It is when I come back on vacations that I realise how completely I belong to my city. A certain fat man I know keeps insisting that Delhi is full of obnoxious snobs and is an awful place to live. Despite a great temptation to stick my tongue out and say, "pffffbbt, thats what you think" I generally desist from retorting, since I think its of no great consequence. But after having spent the better part of the day roaming around the rather obscure parts of Delhi, partaking(?) of all the forms of public transport you can think of, my love is just about bubbling over.

The Bus, and other Assorted Transport


Oodles has been written about the Metro, and the DTC, and whatnot. But to someone who has travelled in Delhi in the pre-Metro, BlueLine phase as well as the Post-Metro, CNG Bus phase, no amount of writing can suffice to explain the difference. I took the 620 from Sangam cinema today to go to Rail Bhavan. It was one of the new funky buses, the double buses. It was as comfy a ride as I've ever had...anything that can lull me to sleep after a nine hour night the night before, is worthy of praise. I got off, walked a measly 1.5 minutes to take the Metro to Vidhan Sabha(at which point, I got thoroughly disturbed cos the first thing that sprang to mind was Vidhan Soudha). I took the rickshaw from there to wheer I had some work, then took pretty much the same route back. Not once was there an unnecessary delay, the rides were always smooth, and every now and then people stopped to help me out.(reaching Jhugli Hall requires help, so stop mocking). Despite constant diatribes about how Delhiites are rude and boorish, all I could make out was that the men who stopped to help me out might have been talking in a funny Haryanvi accent that I had trouble understanding, but of their own accord they stopped and directed me via the shortest route. And, they all spoke Hindi!

Moments of truth


At lunchtime, I somehow ended up at the Lhasa-Buddhist monastery market. Its this obscure place near ISBT, which sells a lot of shoes, a lot of cheap clothes, and some decent food. In the first floor of a "Shakura Restraunt", with seedy looking men looking in my direction, and staring down in consternation at the uber-oily food served to you. Thats the only way to have a lunch out in Delhi. With "Bela Mehka re Mehka Aadhi Raat Ko" playing in the background, I could not help but feel indescribably in love, except I don't know what with...though I do consider that there's no better place to fall in love than the whole North Campus area, it was something more than that. An all encompassing and almost unbearable lightness of being(yes yes, with all due references). Do go that side sometime when you have time on your hands, it'll make you at peace with the world.

Hehe. I realise how random this post must read to anyone who doesn't know me, so I guess I'll stop here. Just some random thoughts. I finally did see Rithala, if only for the heck of it. I had Maha Nimbu Lemon at PPC today...how one misses the good ol' days(nostalgic sigh). I can cook enough to garner a good match now. I hate ambitious work plans, especially when I make them. It is very difficult to release the clutch at the right speed. Nothing quite beats a mango sandwich at home. And lastly, panna is quite heavenly.

Cheerios.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

How to tackle reservations



In the reign of her royal bitchiness, Indira Gandhi, personal and corporate income taxes for people who actually earned money were raised to between 70 and 90 percent. When it becomes infeasable to succeed(I mean, for god sakes, what's the point of making money if the government is going to take it all), what the great indian people have done then is to instututionalise cheating. The government has as it is said that the laws of the land and constitution can be disobeyed, whoops, I meant amended with wild abandon, so why should we be far behind.
Anyhow, to the point. In a similiar vein, as tax evasion was instututionalised in one Gandhi's time, caste fraud probably will be institutionalised in her Daughter-in-Law's reign. Here's the deal. When the marginal cost of forging a caste certificate (in terms of both economic and moral/legal cost) becomes less than the marginal benefit of actually getting a seat in college, something that is most definitely about to happen, when reservations become 50% of seats, it becomes economically rational to forge a certificate for yourself. As more and more people start getting a fake certi, the market for the industry will grow, resulting in cheaper and more widespread availibility of fake OBC certificates, made even easier by the fact that there is no definitive list at the center for what an OBC is. At any rate, this is all just feasability. The point is that you're going to have another Telgi for OBC certificates, and I would fully advise it. Instead of protesting within your constitutionally provided rights to a government who doesn't give a flying fuck about the constitution, play with their own tactics. When you can't win, cheat. When enough people get an OBC certificate, you recreate merit, albiet with an added layer of corruption. In one scenario, some government will realise that this has happened, and things aren't exactly working out, and will roll back the reservations, as is what happened with the prohibitive personal income tax policy. Alternatively, a new merit system, where meritious "OBC" candidates will compete with fake certis will be created. Such is life.

At any rate, when you come down the the practicality of it all, reservations aren't going to help the people they want to help, and the people of our good land, much used to a government interested in screwing them over, will discover new ways to cheat that very governement. At the end of the beaurocracy and government, everyone's pleased because there's an added layer of corruption with with they can line their pockets.

Sorry for being a bit cynical about it, but at the end of the day, that's pretty much that.

On a brighter note, you can check out some of my snaps from Manila on my flickr account, where I have uploaded it.

Now, I must run to go buy vegetables. Sigh...the domesticated life I lead.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Manila Backlog



Tardy though it is, here's the run up of what happened post the break night party.

Tuesday, 23rd May: Free Day

I went shopping. Manila city is quite a fantastic place to go shopping if you have foreign exchange in hand and a lot of silly aimless desires. I went to the major shopping complex in a place called Greenhill.

The regular mall stores and multiplexes here share shopping space with gigantic flea and export surplus markets rivalling Sarojini Nagar both in size and price. Sadly, haggling is a little tougher when you can't speak Tagalog, but you can still work things down by at least 50 pesos, if not more. In addition, huge music stores existed, with CD's, VCD's and to my heart's delight, rock posters at dirt cheap prices. The country, as I observed, is crazy over rock music, and have exceptional taste. The radio's blare U2, Semisonic, Greenday and assorted other rock bands, and their local rock bands are exceptionally good. This is the country that Pop forgot.
I picked up a couple of posters, including a Pink Floyd Back Album poster, which is the most amazing looking thing ever to be hung up on any wall. We're talking better than the Mona Lisa here, I think you get the drift. Aside from that, I also purchased a pair of smiley shorts, which are...shorts with loud yellow smileys all over them. I was very proud. I nearly bought a spiderman tie (where in the world would you get that), but I relented. Not much opportunity to wear one of those, eh what. My shopping done, one moved on to grabbing a bite to eat, and one was again, not dissapointed.

I ate at Jerry's Grill, for a good taste of Filipino grilled food. I had a local fish called Bangus, the entire fish grilled for just 190 pesos. The fish itself is a milk fish, that is it's meat is white. It is the most brilliant tasting fish I have ever had. The fish is grilled, coated with Calamansi and garnished with tomatos and sprigs of green things. The fish itself is sublime, just flaky enough to break off well with a fork, and juicy enough to melt in your mouth. The best part, of course, is the Belly. The belly is the nice fatty portion of the fish, where you have the most delectable fish fat and meat which is all hopefully rich in good ol' omega three fatty acids. Even if its not, it was well worth it. To cut a long story short, I pigged out.

24th May: Break Day 1

On our octofinal round, facing University of Philippines Diliman, we lost in a very close round, with a split desicion dissenting against the chair going against us. I was crushed, I was sure we had taken the debate, and I really really hate losing, especially if its not a clear loss as it had been with NTU A. The other singaporean teams, NTU B and NUS A also got knocked out, leaving only the old brigade of NTU A in the quarterfinals. The QF's themselves took care of NTU A, leaving exclusively Filipino teams in the draw. A round later, it was down to only Ateneo teams, which was kind of sad. Takes the whole fun out of the competition. But one shouldn't complain, do better next year and beat them fair and square.

25th: Finals Day

Ateneo A vs Ateneo B. Ateneo A wins. That's called cutting a long story short, and I'd rather not elaborate on the politics of the affair.

Screwy Luck



Aside from the complete screw up with our tabs, in our third round, one of the adjudicators mistakenly gave us a 68 average for the round, which is...incredibly low. It was apparently another mistake, as the adj. believed it to be the average score for AUDC. Sigh...I really hope we don't have to go through so much contreversy in the next tournament.

After Party



After the finals and the results and the general prize distrubution, one left for the After Party at a pub called Ponticelli. The pub itself had an excellent live band, who kept performing the various and varied requests we set out for them, from Losing my Religion, to Bohemian Raphsody(The ultimate Drunk Singalong Song) to Elevation. The party itself was quite wild, a group of exhausted debaters getting drunk makes for an interesting night, especially if you're one of the few sober chaps around. A group of straight laced Tam Brams from NTU getting drunk makes for an even more interesting night, especially when one is slowly manouvered into a little guy on guy action. That wasn't of course, the only guy on guy or indeed girl on girl action that night. As I said, it was a very interesting party. Around 2 at night we all departed, heading back for the hotel to grab a final night's rest before flying out the next day.

Home again



I'm back home, which is why I had been a bit tardy with the update. Meeting friends and family after ages does take up a bit of time, and I am quite attached to this city, it's horrendous weather, its beautiful buildings and delicious food. I'm sadly vegetarian for a while, till my stomach recovers from the hammering it got in Manila with a steady diet of fried meat and rice.

I'll be putting up photos of AUDC soon, at my flickr (yeah, I created one) account.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Asian Union Debating Championships


Friday, 19th May.

This is an entry I've written over my few days here, so allow it time. Its going to be a long one.

Landing in Manila was almost like being at home. The same lines at immigration, the same white on blue signs at the airport, the same familiar grime around town, I was back in the third world again. And it actually felt great. Ten minutes into the cab journey to the campus hotel at University of Philippines Diliman, where we were being put up, I saw Gulmohar Trees and pretty much went into raptures of joy.

Manila, of the little I’ve seen of it so far is very similar to home. The houses are all low lying bungalows; the streets are nice and wide, with cracked concrete sidewalks and cars aplenty. The sidewalks really differentiate first and third world countries, when I come to think of it. Go to Singapore, and each is impeccably maintained, with not a crack uncovered, and defined edges. Waver away, to a regular street in the third world, and you see the effects of a lack of maintenance sink in.

What was also reassuring was the Filipino currency, the Peso, which is a little weaker than the rupee. If that isn’t amazing enough, things are actually a little cheaper in pesos than they would be in rupees, especially when one is eating out. You can pig out at a decent restaurant for less than 300 pesos, a fond dream now in Delhi.

Coming to the food. My first meal in Manila was at a restaurant called Max’s, A place that styled itself as the one stop shop for fried chicken. That pretty much sums up most Filipino food. It is fried. It is meat. It is usually pork or beef. Vegetables are in very short supply, and the few vegetarians at the tournament have been given wry smiles and been told to get a life. Well, its not that bad, but I’m sure that’s what they’re thinking, deep down inside. The flight had the option of a beef, or fish meal thus confirming what I had been told about what Filipinos consider to be vegetarian. Clearly, fish is not considered to be meat.

I, being one of adventurous persuasion, had some of the local foodstuff at Max’s, rather than wimp out and have something as boring as a Fried Chicken Set.

The first thing I tried was Kare Kare, a meat stew. The meat was oxtail and what I think was lamb, the oxtail was very chewy, but the lamb was nice and succulent. The stew was a thick peanut based curry, which tasted somewhat like satay sauce, but with a much smoother texture and consistency. The peanut base was offset by an accompanying shrimp sauce, and the combination of the two made for quite an enjoyable curry. However, the fact the entire thing was made out of a whole lot of peanut sauce, cooked in meat dripping with animal fat and topped over by a rich shrimp sauce, I don’t think the entire thing was the healthiest food experience of my life. But god knows I need some meat on me, I just hope it goes outside, and doesn’t clog up my arteries.


The other dish I tried was Chicken Sisig, which I was later told was a wimped out version of the real Sisig(Seasick), which is a bunch of pigs entrails deeply fried. Did I mentioned how everything seems to be deeply fried? So anyhow, it was deeply fried chicken, nice and crispy, in little bits. The thing was quite well flavoured and not exceptionally oily (I think they burnt off all the oil) and was well drenched in Calamansi.

Calamansi is a native Filipino fruit belonging to the lemon family. Its juice is like having the most ultimate Nimbu Pani (Lemonade) you will ever try, there’s pretty much everything right about it. I’ve got to pick me up some before I leave. But more on food in later posts.

The Tournament

Day one of the tournament was adjudication test day, so we laggardly debaters had officially nothing to do till the opening ceremony in the evening. This, of course, didn’t stop us from debating.

We, as I have mentioned, have been put up in the UP D Campus hotel, which is strange considering that the tournament is being held in Ateneo De Manila University. Oddities aside, it gave us the opportunity to spar with a few of the local teams, including UDP, and DLSU. One notices that the campus is similar in maintenance and design to Delhi University, and one realizes just how little publicly funded universities in these two respective countries have to get along on.

Sadly, the teams we were sparring with could not arrange for rooms, so we debated two rounds on benches in the corridors of the College of Economics. The temperatures range from hot to searing hot and the College for some reason didn’t have a single water cooler. Not the best of combinations, to cut a long story short. Two debates later, we were sweaty and dehydrated, and one realizes how spoilt one has got sitting in the air conditioned environs of Singapore. At any rate, it’s good conditioning for the hours of power cuts I’m going to have to face shortly.

With sparring done with, one attended the Opening Ceremony, which was quite a drag. Far from the wonton drunkenness one generally expects at a gathering of college students, it was quite a somber sober affair, because everyone is strangely sensible enough not to get sloshed the day before the first two rounds of debating.

20th May

It Begins

Day one of AUDC, 86 odd teams from a good few Asian countries; with representatives (debaters) from a myriad more. The CA, Jess Lopez announces the tabs and our first motion, predictably The Middle East. My team was thrilled; we had spent the night discussing the political situation in Israel, Palestine and Iran and were well set for the first round. We were also set for what was to be the second round of the debate, Pornography, because Alvin and Joey insisted on watching very disturbing Japanese Animation. It was at that point last night that I had to vacate my room and look for…less deviant pastures. But I digress.

The first team we faced was from De la Salle University, a very good Filipino institution.

To cut a long and arduous story short, we won. We also won the next one, and as I write on the 21st, we’ve won the third one as well. I’m now 3-0 up, and need to win at least 2 more rounds to break into the elimination rounds.

Drama!

At the end of our third round, we discover that we’ve been given a loss instead of a win in our first round, due to a fuck up with the tallying of team scores. The initial diagnosis is that, to maintain the tabs instead of having to redo the last two rounds, they’re going to keep us on the loss, and the other team with the win. We’re suddenly faced with the realization that we’re now going to have to win pretty much all our debates to have any chance of getting into the top half of the break.

Bouncing back

Faced with the task of effectively being a loss down, and being in a weaker room than we should have, thus lowering our speaker scores, we go into each round needing to win. I hate to get clich├ęd and horrible sports movie like at this point, but our resolve never falters. We win our third and fourth rounds convincingly. In our fourth round, we’re back in a high scoring room, and meet Ateneo D. In one of the best debates I’ve ever had, we defeat them convincingly, by winning our principle issues. The adjudication, by Ateneo’s Sir Martin Cortez (the Sir is actually a part of his name, in Philippines it is not uncommon to have males called Sir and females called Princess) was the best I’ve ever had; it outlined each issue lucidly and succinctly.

An Old Bogey

We drew NTU A in round six of the tabs, the last round of a grueling 4 round day. NTU A between them has over 12 years of debating experience, their whip, one of the best in the tournament, has been for 6 international tourneys, and reached the finals of last year’s AUDC. To cut a long and simple story short, we were outclassed, and lost that round. We now were in a must win situation for the last round of the preliminaries, as 5-2 was the cut-off for breaking.

22nd May

Reprieve at last

Just before the final preliminary round, an ad-hoc council meeting was conducted to vote on whether or not we should be given our deserved win on the tabs. The tab-in-charge for the tournament, Kaushik, made the case that the unfairness of the tab would have corrected itself after one round, as a difficult team would have bumped our opponents lower, and meeting an easy team would have taken us quickly a level higher, thus removing the ultimate difference on tabs. 19 of the 30 council members bought the logic of the affair, and the vote fell in our favor, to much cheer. We were no longer cheated of our win, but we still had to prove ourselves. A win in the last round would seal our break, regardless of the extra point or not. With our final round against Assumption A (The Thai university where the 2008 Worlds will be held), we stamped a victory home by a clear margin, and broke on 6-1.

Break Night!

With the preliminaries over, we headed back to our “hotel”, to get ready to go to DISH, a nightclub where the Break Night Party was to be held. It incredibly started only an hour later than actually scheduled, due to the delay caused by the council meeting. The band performing was incredible, and did some excellent covers of Iris, One and…umm…Crawling(a band quite clearly with a wide repertoire). At half past eleven, the Chief Adjudicator took the stage to announce the break. Breaking sixth in the tournament, on 6-1, SMU-A.

Tequila

On actual physical duress I was made to down a shot of tequila. I am never doing that again. Why people would subject themselves to a drink that actually scalds your throat and leaves it crying out for a lemon, or anything to take the pain away, I do not understand. The single shot also failed to get me high, forget drunk. For that, I thank my Punjabi constitution, for I’ve heard of people passing out on a shot, or at least being high enough to do incredibly stupid things. But then, there are those also who get tipsy on a glass of wine. Thus the entire point of the experience eludes me. Some of the NTU guys were getting high to loosen their inhibitions on the dance floor, and since I am naturally inclined towards making a complete and utter ass of myself, I have no such inhibitions in the first place. What I don’t have, sadly, is a fallback of liquor to blame it on.

On the point of NTU’s loosened inhibitions, one of the funnier sights one will see in life is a bunch of Tam-Bram engineers mildly drunk and attempting to dance. Sadly, I can understand why they need the hooch to blame it on. One realizes that Bhaiyya would have seen his fare share of the same at IIM-Bangalore. Gawd bless em’ all.

On Filipino Girls

A touchy topic best saved for another day.

That's all for now, folks. I have my Octofinals and maybe quarterfinals tomorrow, depending on how I do, and my free time is over. Must get back to prepping. Wish me luck, once more.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Leaving for Manila



In a few hours time, I shall be boarding a plane that shall hopefully deposit me unscathed in Manila. Thus will begin my first international t ournament, the Asian Univ. Debating Championships. One hopes to make an impression, one hopes the training wasn't in vain. One really hopes to break, in short. It's been a long summer of training, and lets see if it all comes together and pays off.

That said, its a whole new country to check out, an entire new adventure, and an exchange rate even weaker than the INR. From one of the most polluted cities in the world, Manila, to the beaches and hopefully a trip to Mt. Pinatubo, a volcano that produced one of the largest eruptions of the 20th century, it promises to be a fun trip.

Au revoiur, and wish me luck.

Monday, May 15, 2006

This and That



I've had a remarkably busy couple of weeks. Between debating and class, I haven't had much time for anything else, and when you spend at least three hours a day reading news and blogs for debates, it really saps your strength to write. A quick fill in on life, then.

Over the weekend, my team placed runners up at SMU Hammers, our inter-varsity debating championships. Lost out to NTU A, in a close and well matched debate. dissapointing, yes, but such is life. The level of debate puns took a new low, and challenges even the disturbed sense of humour that quizzers have. In a continuing trend of making fun of Ashwin, MM Shah compared water-spout boy to Iran's nuclear ambitions. "He has the uranium, but the delivery system is just not there". This was, of course, following Ashwin's continued failure in getting it up.

Another result of training is that entertainment is needed now and then, and since we have no life, this has to be provided inside a debate. Hence the invention of "Bonus Words", phrases to be included in your speech to fetch you brownie points with the adjudicator. Sadly, its not easy to shove in "I'm a fag hag" or "Dude, where's my car" into meaningful geopolitical debates, nor "Virgin Atlantic" contextualised to reforming the UN.

All said and done, I'm leaving for Manila on Thursday, putting an end to my year at SMU. I'm less than two weeks from home, and looking forward to it.
Oh, I also read an amazing book, which I shall proceed to review when I next have the time. It is, quite obviously, about food. The topic's been lacking for a while now, hasn't it?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What Not to Do On A Rainy Evening




Step One: When you are quietly and calmly seated in the library, studiously avoiding distractions, IM conversations and are working like a good lil' girl, and it starts raining outside, do Not spend fifteen minutes staring at how pretty the trees look in the rain.

Step Two: After staring at the aforementioned flora for an extended period, do Not take the advice of a crazy senior and go for a walk in the (by now) thunderstorm, just to see what it feels like(again). Following which, do Not have long and extended converstaions in the canteen over hot coffee(with the aforementioned rain continuing outside) about the change in the temperature of pee with the change in weather conditions.

Step Three: Once you're done, do Not decide to not change your clothes and go sit in the library wearing wet vetements and 'dry off under the fan'. This is good advice for a number of reasons. For one, you are often more transparent than you think you are. For two, you will feel as Cold as if Hell Hath, indeed, frozen over.

Step Four: If, by chance, better sense prevails, and you Do, infact, go back to change clothes and be all warm, it is advisable that you wear All clothes. Do Not go around wearing a shirt and a towel, loudly yelling "I Dont want to wear pants". Unfortunate experience leads this chronicler to reveal that the result of such actions is generally an irate female coming out, slamming a skirt into your hand and telling you to get lost. As an addendum, it is probably advisable not to wear the said skirt and twirl around and generally enter rooms precdeding the entry with the loud yell of "Im not wearing pants". You may or may not get yelled at quite a lot.*

Step Five: (Admittedly, this has been added because the chronicler feels that five is a nicer number than four). It is probably best Not to insert sentences like "Unfortunately the researcher feels that pigs are fat" into the half-done projects of floormates whose laptops have been left unattended. Beguiling them into thinking that the said sentence has been added a number of times in their project, is again, not the Best of courses to follow.

But then again, you are open to make your own decisions when such situations arise. I sure did.


*- You really gotta love girls hostel.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The best things



They're not the moments you've been most looking forward to, or even the unexpected surprises. They're the everyday random conversations that make you laugh.

Home



It's a month off now, and I'm starting to miss it. It's nearly May, and will thus be a searing dustbowl in dear old Delhi. Still, I miss the afternoon airconditioned naps, the early morning swimming, the sheer bliss of aam panna and going out for ice cream in the evening. Delhi summers don't seem quite as horrible when you're in a land where the range of seasons is "Rainy" and "Fucking Torrential". A wise person(enter good excuse for not remembering the originator of the quote) once said "If you love something, leave it".

I often find myself defending my city to fellow degenerates from all over India, peers of mine at college. There's a lot of misconceptions about my home, and a lot of exxagerations. A couple jar me more than others. Delhiites use and love of Hinglish, a language all to our own, has often lead to presumptions of the incompetence of Dilliwallahs english language skills. I and others from Delhi will frequently mix Hindi with their english in conversation. This leads to a quick deduction on part of populace that Dilliwallahs are incapable of speaking or indeed writing competently in The Mother Tongue. Given that we're comparing across a similiar educational strata (that which has landed up at college) I don't see how Delhi student's english is any worse than any other part of the country. In fact, from the limited sample size that I have, evidence does seem to point to quite the contrary. But there's a chauvanism here, where one cannot mix and max language, and one must keep it pure. Well, adjust kar lo, kyunki Hinglish is here to stay. So is Punglish.
Misconception and hasty generalization number 2 is that Dilliwallahs are a bunch of snobs. The strange thing is that this usually comes from Mumbaikars, who I must say are occasionally more chauvanistic about their Maximum City than Bangaalis are about Robindra Songeet. Get one started about a local train, for instance. I find it quite amusing that the experience of being crushed in a mob-like crowd is cited as one of pride and enjoyment by every member of the city. I too have spoken of the sheer insanity of a DTC bus during rush hour traffic, but wouldn't exactly call it something to be proud of. Certainly not one the high points of living in Delhi.

What is, however, is the way the winds will come in and start blowing one of these April-May evenings, how everything will change from searingly hot to magical storm in a matter of minutes, how at any point it could start raining, hailing, storming; and indeed how nice a refreshing aam paana could be. My Gulmohar, as well as trees all over the city will have probably started blossoming as well, and entire lengths of road will be a sea of red shortly.

I guess someone else will rush to board up the windows and batten down the hatches this year, when the first dust storm hits.

"On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night"

"On The Turning Away", as performed by Pink Floyd

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Reverse Bungee





Me, Shivya and Malay prepare to be shunted 60 M up at 200 KMPH, touching 5G at the top.


And we have liftoff!

What an incredible rush. The adrenelin kicking through you is amazing. I'm heading to New Zealand and doing normal bungee, this was just way too much fun. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 17, 2006

Its Good to be Out



The world was mean to me, and I was afflicted with the scourge of chicken pox. It was a loving and thoughtful gift from my roommate, to whom all I would like to say is, Just wait till I catch scabies. Or even German Measles....

Anyhow, the world decided to more than make up to me. It has been exceptionally astounding to me since I have returned from quarantine, by amusing and entertaining me. I went out to town with assorted members of the phamily, and one of the most interesting sights in this weird lil place called Bangalore greeted me. Imagine this. Theres a one way road, leading from N to S(usual geographical abbreviations followed). This road is constructed to lead on to a fly over. The flyover, on the other end, is connected to Another road, going from S to N. One way. The day of the opening of the flyover, there are a couple of major accidents. (who'd have thunk it, eh, with traffic coming face on from both ends?) So they solve this problem by this really cool technique. Half the flyover is one way in N-S, the other half is one way in S-N. They created two extra branches to the damn thing. In the middle, without the aid of a traffic light, traffic switches over from one side to the other. Just like the blood did in the chapter on Circulation in high school. Its highly fascinating. Bloody stupid, also, but fascinating nonetheless.

In class, one of my wisest and erstwhile most respected profs informed us that she doesnt believe in the theory of evolution. Now, irrespective of what I might be studying, I still consider myself a student of science. I have forever been fascinated by the subject because I think evolutionary science, especially evolutionary biology, is one of the most interesting subjects there is. I of course dont expect people to concur with my views. But in this day and age, to flat out deny the existence of a well documented phenomenon, is just...well, to my mind at least, a bit myopic and rather absurd. To a point raised in class, she also attributed women's physical inferiority to men- in terms of running, and hunting skills, etc- to the system of patriarchy. Now, I'm all for women's rights, and all for equality. But you have to face the fact someday or the other, that the two genders Are different, you cant compare apples and oranges, as I read somewhere. It made for interesting discussion, at least. And I was called a pseudo-male-supporter. Sigh.

I have been given a very lucrative offer. To sing in the Univ. competition. If I accept, technically, its not My fault what happens. I mean, all Im doing is what they ask me for, right?
Muhehehehheee.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Woo Hoo!



My exams are over. Yay! I'm free, I can sprawl around and do nothing completely guilt free. For the next week and a bit, before summer term starts, I shall start resembling Garfield in character(sadly not in form) and shall aspire to the better life. I shall also, at some point, go for the Fullerton Chocolate Buffet, where you have all you can eat chocolate.

In completely unrelated news, Diga actor Rajkumar's death, a man we only know for his wonderful rendition of "If You Come Today" passed away, promping mass riots and mourning in Bangalore, and has brought the IT capital to a halt.

It happens only in India.

Anyhow, this blog offers him tribute, now that it's too late.
Tick tick tick tick tick tick. Dorling!

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Immorality of Affirmative Action



It's surprising to hear the views of many on the whole reservations scandals. Quite a few people I talk to are quite okay with affirmative action as a concept, and oppose this just because they're going too far. Well, they are going too far, that's a foregone conclusion and because of that they'll never be able to push in the new quotas. However, the existing Affirmative Action quotas for SC/ST will remain, and because the majority of us seem to be okay with this immoral grotesque concept, the government will get away with it for the next 50 years as well. Strangely enough, there won't ever be any "upliftment" of the classes this policy tries to protect.

AA is an inherently immoral practice, and is tantamount to theft. Before I go any further, I'm going to clear up what AA is.
Affirmative action, in short, is a policy where because a particular community has historically been ill treated, as a compensation to them and to "level the playing field", reservations or relaxed cutoffs are created for the same in institutions with government affiliation.

In an institution where it is clearly stated that the only way to get in, no management quota through donations or whatchamacallit, is by merit through an exam, the policy of reservation undermines that very examination and principle, that the best will get in, irrespective of anything.

But lets put that aside, and look at AA from all its parts. First, the historical ill treatment arguement. They had a shitty life, still do, and therefore they deserve more than you do. Bullshit. My grandparents had to run from Lahore after partition, and came to Jammu with next to nothing. Thousands, if not millions of Punjabi's can claim the same fate, you can ask around how many of your parents or grandparents started off life with nothing. Not everyone was priveledged enough to be born into Brahmin Government Jobs, agreed, but not everyone claimed to be victims of their fate. Like the Punjabi's post partition, the Sikhs during India's Greatest Bitch's Dictatorship, The Sindhi's, Kashmiri Pundits, Indian Muslims in Gujrat or UP, communities abound that haven't exactly had the easiest time in life. Some of them have had the gumption to get out of the rut, and move on. None of them have had Affirmative Action. That people have had a hard time is no excuse to give them a better time now, at the expense of people who have had nothing to do with their suffering. I don't even know what an OBC is (the constitution isn't exactly clear on the matter either, neither is the mandal commision), leave aside discriminated against. The only community I have actively discriminated against is Communists, and quite frankly they've already got reservations, it's called JNU.

The next arguement, which is kind of silly to go into, because the first one is already a load of rubbish, is that quota's in Central Tertiary Institutions, with particular reference to IIT is going to level the playing field. Baaaa wrong again, kiddos.

To even think of getting into IIT, you need to have done science in 11th and 12th. To have do science in 11th and 12th, you have had to have made it To 11th and 12th. To have reached 11th and 12th, you must have passed your tenth, and to have bloody done that you must already have been in school and umm...not have been failing. To meet all these wonderful requirements means that you probably haven't been to the shittiest of government schools, and as a result have been given access to a decent standard of education. Now, if all these wonderful things have been met, there is no difference in the level of opportunity between you, and the SC/ST/OBC person attempting the paper. Sure, he may not be going to a fancy coaching class, but then again, he may. But that's pretty much like anyone else of any income level who's not SC/ST/OBC. So is this helping the downtrodden chappie never given an opportunity? I doubt that. Show me a statistic that says that any of these communities have opportunities upto 12, and then they suddenly dissapear, and I'll start to believe it. What it does then do is give people fortunate enough to have an SC/ST/OBC certificate to walk into an institution with pretty much any mark they like. Isn't life charming. What it further incentivises people to do is get that very certificate to give them easy access. Has it leveled the playing field, then? No, it's made it quite uneven actually. Because now the poor soul bereft of a certificate, irrespective of his income value, education or intellegence has given up his right to a seat in a college he's made it on merit, because the government has decided that some people are more equal, and more deserving than others.

It's theft, larceny plain and simple. Have the gumption to say so, instead of half heartedly attacking the government for having Gone Too Far.

EDIT: A lot of people ask and question me in very moral tones of voice how I can possibly be against AA. They then tell me how it's needed at a primary school level, to "level the playing field".
To answer to that, I'd just like to point out that providing quality primary education to SC/ST/OBCs is not affirmative action. Its an existing duty of the government, as dictated by our spanking new fundamental right to a basic education. I'm all for a government that secures its citizens it's fundamental rights, the Congress led UPA sadly is dedicated to snatching them away.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Indian Crab Syndrome



My exams are in three day's time, after which year one of college is officially at an end. I shall be staying on for summer term, so the joy of returning does not abound, not for a while anyhow.
Last month was a bit of a hard time(translate: generally a disaster) and as a result, I have to do quite well in my finals to recover my grade in a couple of my courses. I have studied quite hard, however, surprised myself at actually being able to understand things I earlier could not, and should be set for a decent set of final exams. On this topic, I shall speak no more, less I "Jinx" it.

One of my father's favourite stories, certainly one that is vivid in my memory, is a joke about Indian Crabs. My father is a well travelled person, and chooses this to illustrate a great point of difference between motherland and Foren. Here's how it goes.

There's this ship which is carrying seafood in it's cargo hold, nice expensive stuff. The captain enters the hold with one of his crewmates. Explains how this is the hold for crabs, from the world over. There's a container with crabs from Australia, and it's huge, a container with hairy chinese crabs(its a delicacy, don't ask me why, seems like the crabs got all the hair in the chinese genome), again closed, yada yada yada...you get the drift. Finally, he comes to the container with the Indian Crabs, and hot-diggity, the container's open. Crewman asks, won't the crabs escape? The captain says, take a look inside, every time one tries to climb out, three pull him back in.

It's that mentality of malaise that my father poignantly pointed out to me that we suffer from, and it's a great truth. That said, it's encouraging to see, at least in pockets and parts a climb out of this trap, where you don't let people succeed just because you're not. For every Sitaram Yechury, there's a Narayanamurthy, so to speak.

The first contrast I ever saw between these attitudes, and their results was when I switched schools back when I was a wee nipper(Sadly I still haven't grown much taller since then, and remain an averageish sort of nipper). I came from an Indian Crab School, where anyone good at anything was despised, and right from the students to the adminstration, an effort was made to ensure that everyone stayed at the same level. Sadly, no one really realised what that level would be. I wasn't really happy in that environment. When I shifted(out of much duress) to a school I had grown up hating, because of surprise surprise Indian Crab Syndrome I noticed a difference. There was an environment that actually rewarded you doing well, and had people celebrate your success. Hell, people even looked up to you sometimes!

And it makes a difference. If you're in a school/society/culture like that, you're incentivised towards working to get out of the container, and if you know that you're just going to be pulled back down, you've got to be one hell of a crab to fight your way out. How many times in your life have you had to say "Why Bother", when you know that the costs of attempting to do something pretty much outweigh any benefits. I applaud the efforts of those who did, who bypassed the system, stole from it, cheated it if they had to, because moral or immoral, that's what the situation demanded. I hope they've made steps, baby steps atleast, towards ridding ICS, because as far as sociological factors go, it's our biggest hinderance to development. People look to places like Singapore, now China, Korea, indeed America and you can see places where a winner is rewarded, not brought down. Quite often, this simple enough difference can bring about one hell of a change. You can see it in SMU, which despite has a similiar environment of competition and reward for success, sometimes scarily so.

Now, before I get teary eyed and start dreaming of a world where no one listens to Commies, and Pseudo Secularists, I'll stop. Miles to go before I sleep.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Freud would have had a field day



Samplers from my Business Government and Society Class, Presentation day

From a group presenting on the externalities created by Clubs (particular reference to Zouk) in Singapore.
On the slide: Excessive consummation of alcohol leading to drunken driving or alcholism

I pointed out the typo, and explained that consummation may mean that you want to have sex with alchohol.
The sharp and witty reply from presenting female: "We're just showing you alcohol in a whole new perspective!"

Yes, dear. A very disturbing perspective. What you do with bottles of Tiger Beer in your personal time, I'd rather not conjecture...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Wake me up



When March ends.

Work, grades, bad health, mood swings, stupidity, no time, good times, bad times, confusion, deadlines, debates, die orredy.

Ever just wanted a month to end?

Just a week to go.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Twenty First Of March



A year ago was a day of perfection, one I promised myself I'd return to and write. Today, by no standards matches it, but pleasant beyond measure nonetheless. Two years ago, this blog became Blah! A year to this day, I finished a major chunk of my life. There were hailstorms to mark the event.
I just read the post a year ago. It was indeed a day of perfection, but many more have followed after. It's been a wonderful year, a very taxing year, but wonderful nonetheless. I've never had such extremes of emotion, of experience in my life. Not that it's been a very long life, but each passing year seems richer in wealth and experience.

I dissapeared for a while, I've been insanely busy. Week 10 and 11 aren't kind to you in SMU, and week 12 only marginally less so. But it matters little. Today is a day of remembrance, an important anniversary if you will.

What happened today? A few things. It was the last day of training at debating. I got mail, I now have The Visa Power(Now you go get it) in debit card form. I can, effectively, purchase things online. Not for a week though, cos I have to wait for my PIN to arrive. Aside from that, nothing of any great significance. But it matters little. Its a wonderful day, and may there be many more like it.

How do I end this very disconnected post? Same as last year, I guess.

Some things are right, some things will stay the same.
You better believe it.