Sunday, November 23, 2008

Are some entrepreneurships meant to be fragile?

The disclaimers first. I am (still) an unadulterated geek at heart who knows absolutely nothing about business. Yes, corporate environments have modified my thinking: I look at effort vs. value these days much more than I would like to, especially when there's a beautiful and elegant solution at hand. Still, I am clueless when it comes to many of the questions which arise when one starts a business. That's in part, why this post is in the first place.

Startups on the internet. It surely surprises me still that Google could amass a fortune and be so valued just by making revenue out of advertisements. I am then told that I have no idea about the scale of reach the Internet provides. Point noted. I then find that the new businesses do nothing to monetize, while accruing losses. Isn't that something so fundamentally wrong? I am then told that this should happen much later in the process, when you have a sizeable user base to talk home about. But what still baffles me is how some of these startups are so very dependent on some lack of a feature out there in the internet. Don't they think about what happens when that feature finally appears out of the blue, one fine day? They obviously do, just that it doesn't strike me.

Take for example, Splicd. This service tried to improve Youtube by allowing the capability to share parts of a video as a link. Neat and much needed. Till the day when youtube got it for themselves, with surely much lesser effort. Where does this business go then? Or for that matter, the more recent Surf Canyon, which tried to 'improve' Google search results by trying to monitor what you end up clicking ultimately, and 'promote' them. Won't Google's newly launched 'SearchWiki' sound the death knell to them?

In general, there are so many of these services which try piggybacking on an existing phenomenon by implementing a feature they don't provide, and try making a business out of it. Twitter, especially, is the root for many of them. If they fail, it's the end of them. If they succeed, it sounds likely to me that the parent business would end up implementing them, and that would be much more integrated than this. Sounds like a no-win situation? Or is it just my lack of business acumen and training showing?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Sunday Evening Blues

Rambled on a Sunday evening, obviously :D

There is action and the lack of it
There is fun and the looming lull
Do you have a choice if what you have
Is inaction and dreaded routine?

There is company and loneliness
There is yearning and the lack of it
Do you have a choice if what you have
Is loneliness and company you dont yearn?

There is emotion and the stoic side
There is purpose and the lack thereof
Do you have a choice if what you have
Is stoicism and purposeless emotion?

There is progress and stagnation
There is a road ahead or none in sight
Do you have a choice if what you have
Is stagnation or progress to nowhere?

Yet another eventless weekend streaks by your eyes,
Yet another typical week looks all set to arise,
Time's cruel when with nothing it leaves you,
To look back satisfied, or to look forward to.

Friday, October 10, 2008

அடியேய் காதலே

(An attempt at tamil poetry, please excuse my lack of formal education in the language :D)

தீ பொலிவின் எல்லை, ஆனால் சுடும் என்று தொடவில்லை
கடலோ குளிர்சியின் எல்லை, இழுக்கும் என்று இரங்கவில்லை
நீ அழகின் எல்லை, கொல்வாய் என்றாலும் விழுன்தேன்
சதிகாரியே, மயக்கமோ உன்னிடம், பழியோ பெண்ணின் மீதோ!

On request, tamil transliteration! :D

adiyEy kAdhalE

thI polivin ellai, AnAl sudum endru thodavillai
kadalO kuLirchiyin ellai, izhukkum endru irangavillai
nI azhagin ellai, kolvAi endrAlum vizhundhEn
sadhikAriyE, mayakkamO unnidam, pazhiyO peNNin mIdhO!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Life, we have a problem...

You make me cry to start breathing,
I learn how to get people to notice me,
And I chuckle with a sense of satisfaction.

You keep me from standing on my feet,
I learn to take support from the walls around,
And I run with a new found freedom.

You make me feel anger and resentment,
I learn to see an alternative point of view,
And I find a new sense of calm around.

You test me for how hard I can work,
I learn to look at the light far away,

And I finally reach the end of the tunnel.

You hide from me many pleasures of life,
I learn to relish the ones I am given.
And I sleep with a content smile.

You perplex and confuse me,
I learn to look deeper into my environs,
And I make myself a wiser person.

You remove many pillars of support,
I again learn to stand on my feet,
And I am blessed with an strong mind.

You show me what love could mean,
I learn what it is to care for someone,
And I gain a heart that lives for me.

You thrust me into the worst of conflicts,
I learn how to balance on a long thin rope,
And I begin to feel a sense of judgement.

You hang before me a veil of despair,
I learn to somehow wade and tear it apart,
And I am reassured that optimism works.

You shake and shred my sense of security,
I learn to search for my ultimate protection,
And I realize the presence of God.

You strip me naked, and try sucking me out,
I learn to hold on to what I need the most,
And I discover what I am really.

You leave me at the dead end of a road
I learn how to go back and compromise,
And I gather maturity along the way.

You slowly drain me off all my energy,
I learn to make use of what is left,
And I feel what it is to smile.

You would end it all by killing me off,
I would finally learn how to lead a life,
But I will not be living to use my knowledge.

Pray, why didn't I stay ignorant and chuckling?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sydenham. This is Sydenham.

Technology affects our lives in subtler ways than what we expect. As I was walking back home after yet another day at office, ruminating over the monotony and the rigid structure that daily life imposes, it struck me that this big monotony had subtler monotonies built in. It's like formalizing and lending predictability to an layer of living, beneath an another layer, beneath an another, and so on.. A good example of this subtle monotony is the recorded messages we here everyday. I guess living in a developed country has more of this. Those messages probably give no information to you by now, like these five I hear...

Sydenham. This is Sydenham. The train now standing at platform two is the O Seven Eighteen Southern service to London Bridge via Forest Hill. Calling at Forest Hill, Honor Oak Park, Brockley, New Cross Gate and London Bridge.
Please mind the gap between the train and the platform.
Fourth Floor. Going up.
Welcome to Topupnow. For your account balance, please press star. Please enter the number you want to dial, and finish by pressing the hash button.
Welcome aboard the Southern service to Caterham. Calling at New Cross Gate, Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Sydenham, Penge West, Anerley, Norwood Junction, East Croydon, South Croydon, Purley Oaks, Purley, Kenley, Whyteleafe, Whyteleafe South and Caterham.
Probably these sound new to you, but you too would have some messages which ring in your ears day in and day out. They have a purpose, of informing people. But perhaps none to you, but for probably reciting along with the recorded voice as a time pass. Monotony. Makes things less valuable, doesn't it?

If you reached till here wondering what this post tried to tell, join the club. Oh well, you really need a purpose. Could you please explain to me why the first message starts off the way it does. Something like telling someone his name. Has kept me wondering for a long time. Any guesses?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lausu is in the air

Rather, I should say, in the graffitis. Found this on a bus shelter near my house. And you thought such artwork was unique to India?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thoughts of the day

No, I am not going to put philosophical or humorous quotes from various known and unknown people now. If at all, I like to make themselves up. Actually they come up by themselves, in the midst of chatter with friends. Perhaps will make a post out of them as well in the future. (end digression).

How many times have we stopped to think about how many thoughts are going across the world at any instant of time? Perhaps a few billions of them? Isn't it just amazing how diverse the emotions and topics involved could be? Well, at least I had not thought on such lines till I got to see this site. Hmm, may be once before, when PostSecret did something similar: started bringing out the darkest of human thoughts to the open. They were shocking, or funny, or outrageous, or sometimes a combination of all; but they gave an idea of what all a human could possibly think of.

Seeing that these are real thoughts of real people out there in this vast world, you just can't help but feel awe of all the different emotions that humans are capable of. So many things to bother about, so many people in our lives, so many phenomena, so many activities! Phew! Awe. Yes, that's the word. Perhaps you are just amused at my child-like colon-wo-ing, so as to say. Or may be you will agree. Or perhaps you are thinking of something I might not have ever imagined. Sites like this make you think that the latter could be quite probable, don't they?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The mommy stereotype

This happened on my trip to Switzerland a few months back. After a day of sightseeing, my mother and I were on the train back to Zurich, wrapping up our travel for the day. A station or so later, we find a woman, perhaps in her late 20's or early 30's, enter the compartment with three kids on tow and no one else to accompany. This surely struck us as something not so common. Firstly, the fact that she had three kids, all of them quite small (and no twins or a triplet for sure), and the fact that she had to manage all the three of them alone.

Swiss trains have this family compartment in them which has a kids playing area with stuff like slides and toy cars. The eldest had gone over to play slide with an another girl in the compartment. The middle one was left to drive a toy car with one more kid, who was refusing to give him the driver's seat (Some sort of a first come first serve mechanism, I would guess!). That made him all angry and the two got into a fight. The third was still an infant which had to be held on by the mother, while she had to separate the kid fighting. And while the kid was fighting, the youngest started crying, and she had to breastfeed it, while the ticket checker came and was asking her for the tickets. It really amazed us as to how calmly she was able to handle all this commotion. My mom went forward to help her, but that I guess that was more out of an assumed sympathy. The woman looked completely in control, not even slightly perturbed or irritated. Not even panic, when the fighting kid later came over to his seat and lied down on it to only roll and fall down. While the two of us let out a gasp of shock at the kid falling, she calmly looked down, and realised that nothing had gone wrong.

Some people cross our lives and make us smile. Like she did when she finally got down an hour later, with the three kids following her. Stereotypes talk highly of the quintessential Indian mother who is the very epitome of patience and endurance, while the Western woman is considered her antithesis. Yet, we don't know too many Indian mothers today who would like to parent three small kids like these. As my mother pointed out to me, "And I have the woman in the neighbouring flat pour out her agony on the miserable train trip she had with her only kid alongside her and curse her hubby for not being able to accompany"! So much for our preconceived notions of people...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ominous Sign #3

Of being too attached to the Internet...

Your friend, at X, needs to know the local time,
The friend asks you, a few time zones away, on chat,
You Google for "What is the time at X" and tell the answer.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Early morning philosophy...

Thousand issues to grace your life,
Hundred problems troubling your head,
Ten crises for you to lose sleep over,
And an espresso to keep you kicking in office.

Apparently a double espresso makes you a zombie and you lose out on such poeticism :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Gopuram

(This was a play I wrote as a part of a Playwright Workshop held in Bloomberg. It's was enacted out by professionals from the SOHO theatre on the ides of last April. I waited so that I could put a video of the play, but turned out that unfortunately mine alone was not recorded, as it was held in a different place -- The idea was to hold it in a 'open' sort of a place with the artistes mingling with the rest of audience and acting it out while the audience moves along with the actors.. Sort of created the 'temple ambience'. The play was quite well received, thanks to the actors who did an awesome job!)

Aditi, Swati: Female
Mahesh, Aditya, Mike: Male
All characters in their late twenties.

Scene opens in South India inside a temple. A south Indian couple is walking along the pathways inside, along side a young German. There are clear skies above, with an occasional chirp of the birds, and a gentle breeze blowing across. The walk is pretty brisk, but the German keeps falling back now and then, while the Indian couple waits for him chattering amongst themselves.

Mahesh: So, yeah.. there's this place in the middle where the statue is kept.. The most sacred place, while there are pathways going around it in circles where people walk. Walking around these is supposed to be a good thing to do. And the tower atop the entrance, that's called the Gopuram. Almost every South Indian temple has one. Actually every Indian temple has one, but they vary in size and style. Supposedly even looking at it relieves you of all sins you have committed.

Mike: Interesting.. Well, yeah, all this is pretty new to me, but there's one thing I do observe. There's a certain air of serenity over here.. the low buzz, and the temple bell.. The occasional laughter.. It's quite calming, away from the drone of city life. And hey, Indian girls look pretty good in traditional dresses (chuckles).

Swati who was otherwise just observing things around and praying to all deities was caught blushing for a fraction of a second. Mahesh almost missed it.

Mahesh: Oh well.. yeah.. Well.. that's pretty much a flash introduction to Indian temples for you.

Swati is looking around and suddenly notices a person. A bright smile comes up on her, then a confused reaction, and as if impulsively, she finally calls out loud..

Swati: Hey Aditi!

An another South Indian couple pause on their tracks, look back and start moving slowly towards them. Aditi mirrors the same confusion as Swati had a second earlier, and beams up suddenly..

Aditi: Hi Swati, and hi Mahesh! Been a long time.. When did you guys turn up here?

Swati: Oh.. just a couple days back. Been missing my parents of late, so nudged him to bring me down.

Mahesh smiles gently, and adds hurriedly, as if he had forgotten all along.

Mahesh: And oh, this is Mike. Mike is my colleague and he was planning a holiday in India, and we thought we could meet up here.

Mike: Hello Aditi (finding it tough to pronounce her name). And...

Aditi: My husband, Aditya.

Mike: Hi Aditya. Nice fun being here, really...

Swati: Aditi and Mahesh were in the same college during their undergrad days.

Mahesh smiles. He pauses and addresses the others after a second..

Mahesh: Why don't we keep walking?

Aditya: (Speaking in a distinct baritone) Oh yes, let's do that.. I think the temple is going to close pretty soon.

Swati: (To Aditi) You were at Connecticut right?

Aditi: Oh yeah, an year back. I didn't like the place that much. Pretty much lonely for an Chennai girl used to all the chatter in this city. One fine day, Aditya showed me his resignation letter and said 'Let's go!' (imitating this voice). I didn't know whether to get angry or feel elated. But well, he hadn't told me because I wouldn't have allowed him to stop doing something which he dearly loved. So, we came back and he is working here now...

Swati: Sweet of him.

Aditi: Yeah...

Aditi smiled, but not able to hide a streak of sadness in that. Aditya's voice came a bit to the foreground by now.

Aditya: True, but well, things are looking up in India as well. I guess that's something we should be appreciating.

Mike seemed more interested in capturing more of the colourful place.

Mike: Sad that I am not allowed to take pictures in here. I was told that that's against tradition. You guys must be finding life tough in such a conservative society, right?

Aditya: Well, yes and no. Conservatism is more a shade of grey. Works sometimes though. Take arranged marriages for example. Many claim that its hugely responsible for the low divorce rates in India.

Mahesh: Well, I would say you are painting a rosy picture. Marriages here succeed, more because perhaps women here are more tolerant and work hard to maintain the relationship. On the other hand, lot of youngsters here have their lives shattered because of the resistance the society offers to love marriages.

Aditya: Perhaps, but I am sure many people, like us, are quite happy with arranged marriages.

An odd Indian girl continued to trance Mike once in a while. He slowly drifted, wandering about the temple.

Aditya: So, what's your job about, Mahesh? (pauses) Mahesh?

Mahesh: Oh.. Uh.. sorry, I just kept looking at those birds over there. Nice they are, aren't they? (Pause) Anyway, what did you ask?

Aditya appears a bit intrigued, but continues...

Aditya: Oh.. was just asking about your job... (Pause) Oh god! I just remembered! (To the rest) I have to ask the temple authorities about a donation I need to make. I will be back in a couple of minutes.

Swati: Sure.. uh.. Mahesh.. I will wash my hands and come in a moment.

Aditi tried to say something to her, but stopped short. Swati turns back and walks towards a tap at one end. Aditi and Mahesh keep staring at Swati moving, though their eyes seem to be fixed into empty space. Aditi abruptly breaks to a sob. Mahesh swiftly holds her face in his hands and kisses her lips. Aditi's face contorted to a fury for perhaps a quarter of a second before it quickly mellowed to sadness, while she wipes her tears just in time for Aditya to come back. Swati joins them a moment later.

Aditya: Well, job done.

Aditi still seems in a state of shock.

Aditya: (To Aditi) Hey, what's wrong?

Aditi: (Recovering herself) N.. Nothing..

Swati: (Moving closer to Aditi, embracing her) Hey, heard you had a son last year? Where's he?!

Aditi: (Smiling a bit) Yeah, we named him Mahendran. I call him Mahi. He is at my mom's place now. We came over when she was ready to take care of him. And you? We haven't heard about you two as yet?

Swati: (Glances at Mahesh) Oh, none as yet. We thought we could let a few years pass before we think of kids of our own. Hmm.. Mahi.. nice name.

Aditya: Wow! She finally got some company! I was convinced that there couldn't have been a crazier way to call someone. But for some reason, she just loves that name. There are at least a dozen more things we have which she calls by the same name.

Swati: Well, yeah, people have their whims. Take Mahesh, he would never change his watch. For that matter, he doesn't remove it for long. He sleeps with it, and bathes with it on. I am thankful that it is waterproof. Well, the habit is pretty harmless, so I am OK with it.

Mahesh: Yeah, I guess it sounds fairly ridiculous. But it sort of feels incomplete without that watch on. Has been with me for years now.

Aditya: Interesting.. Perhaps there is something emotional about it. We should discuss it sometime, preferably when Swati isn't uncomfortably close to you for you to be disclosing it (Winks).

Mahesh lets out a short laugh, while Swati tries to look grim, but unable to suppress a smile.

Mike: Hey, you know what. I just saw an Indian wedding here. Just the couple were there though. You used to tell me that Indian weddings are elaborate ceremonies, with the most traditional of them spanning even five days?

Aditya: I would suspect that they are getting secretively married. Most probably their families wouldn't have approved of them marrying.

Aditi: Pretty sad it is, to see people just throw away their families like that. I find it distressing to think of ignoring your parents like that.

Mahesh: May be they just couldn't think of being separated. You can't really blame them, you know. You might think of your families, and concede. But there is no guarantee that you might, at some point turn back, look at your life, and think -- "What's the point in leading a life with much of your happiness vanishing to thin air, all because the society forced you?!". I, like anyone else, try to lead a life pursuing happiness. As far as I can think, that pretty much defines why I live in the first place. But what life spins around me is a web of complications which end up contradicting its very existence. You forge relationships, either because they exist, or because they keep you happy. You are grown to follow your culture. You believe that your traditions help you lead a life. But you end up with conflicting relationships, rigid societies, and inapplicable traditions -- all of them individually adding so many constraints to what you do, that they defeat the purpose they are here for: to make your life better. Its all as if some big magic has been pulled over your eyes. Except that it smells more like con, rather than magic. You do what you think is good for you, but all your deeds sometimes end up entangling your life beyond any recognition.

Aditi: Yes, a tangle it is. But it is perhaps best to make do with whatever good you get out of all that. Relationships, Societies, Traditions.. they might all cause problems, but their absence might be a bigger problem. We are meant to coexist. It doesn't really imply that just having your way all the time is bound to make your life happy. You might live the life you wanted, but if to achieve that, you might have trashed other dreams, broken hearts and made others shed tears. In that case, you will forever be haunted by your conscience. Having your way is no good when you can't live peacefully. I might not have got what I wanted in my life, but there's a minimum denominator of happiness which still floats around. I have a conscience, and I did what was right according to it. That peace of mind will perhaps brighten up my life slowly, but surely. I would still have memories and unfulfilled dreams, but I would slowly work to actively live with them, and make them a source of strength and happiness to me. That's a confidence this couple might never get.

Aditya: Well.. lots to think about, I am sure! I think its better we leave. I promised my relatives I would be there at their place. I better not get them wild!

The couples bid farewell to each other, and Aditya walks out. Aditi follows him.

Aditya: (To Aditi) I would think that Mahesh once loved someone, and couldn't end up being with her finally. I guess he must be having a tough time keeping it to himself. You know, must have been pretty emotional for him, so I thought it might be better to break up the topic. Why should we end up creating a rift amongst the couple!

Aditi nods, while Aditya moves a bit forward. Aditi turns back to throw a longing look at Mahesh, and then looks up to the Gopuram while moving out.

Swati: (To Mahesh) Thirty seconds. That's all I could get you.

Mahesh gently takes Swati's hand, with a tear trickling down his eye.

Swati: She used to call you Mahi?

Mahesh sighs and nods.

Mahesh: The name has been to her, what the watch, which she once tied to my hand, has been to me.

Swati smiles.

Mahesh: Thanks. For everything.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Top three ways to become famous

In (vastly) decreasing order of effectiveness...
  1. Be crazy.
  2. Be bad.
  3. Be good.
And this led me to this realization. I often hear that it's a crazy world. I am joining that club...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Creative Tamil Lyricists

Sometimes Tamil songs get quite weird and funny. This is one of the latest songs.. 'Aatthi Chuvadi' from 'Chakravyooham' (The music is great by the way, Karthik Raja rocks!). The song I guess is a peppy song about youngsters boozing and having fun, and there is a part in the middle where a "mom's voice" talks out...

en chellame.. ennaacchuda onakku..
ullhe varum poadhu oru puliyai poala vandhaaya..
ippoadhu siru poonaiyai poal pulambigiraaye..
appozhudhe thadutthaenada..
endha sarakkaaga irundhaalum raw-aaga adikkaadhe..
adhu than vaelaiyai kaatti vidum endru.. kaettaaya nee..
Pepsi-yo Fanta-vo kalarndhirundhaal...
gap-chup endraagi iruppaiyada..
gap-chup endraagi iruppaai...
aiyago.. ippozhudhu ellai meeri poagi vittadhe..
yaaraavadhu elumiccham saaru kondu vaarungalhaen..
indha baalaganai pazhaiya nilamaikku meettidungalhaen..
enna seiya.. ilhamai miga vinoadhamaanadhu da..

Hilarious stuff. However, for all you know, this might be how parents would be responding in some time! Funny how opinions, and parents' reactions and opinions change along time, as one generation passes over to the next...

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ominous Sign #2

It's a hard day back from office.
You get up the escalator at London Bridge.
An advertisement by the side catches your attention.
"Please be careful, No. of injuries on escalator last year: 1024"
Your face brightens up, and you get excited.
Then you realise that you are supposed to get depressed
And conclude that you have been programming too much.

Monday, May 05, 2008

You have exceeded your mail quota...

What? You are wondering what that means? For you kids around here, we veterans on the net used to get these messages in our Yahoo! Webmail accounts long long ago. Err.. no, I am still quite young, and that was only a few years back... Funny how things change so fast, isn't it? The days when we used to scream with horror if a moron ended up setting a big file attachment, and we would have to hurriedly delete it off lest we get that dreaded message again and we lose our incoming mail until we make some space...

Then, one fine day, around summer vacations after my second year at IIT Madras, we got to know that Google, the search engine company (Yes, it was more known for being a search engine company, rather than the God of all Internet companies, which struck gold at wherever it struck), is offering a mail service called GMail. What followed for many of us stuck to Yahoo! or Rediff or MSN mail was one of our silent-est days. We were all, so as to say, 'Colon O'd. "What? Wone Geebee-a? Dei.. stop blabbering da!" "No da.. seriously!". But the dampener soon came. Only a few 'elite' people had access to the service, and each of them could hand out some ten invites to others. More madness followed. These elite people became the starlets of the day. Forums started where people could trade 'stuff' for GMail invites. There were others who would invite themselves, so that they started getting more invites. Crazy days, indeed...

Yeah, so this was during the summer vacations after my second year. A few of my friends were slogging out at labs of professors whom they desperately sought for their projects in the final year, or at foreign universities helped by 'US Uncle' or others of that ilk, while the rest of us were essentially jobless at our homes, blissfully ignorant of all the so-called opportunities for monetary and career development abound in internships during second year summer, first year summer, jobless summer before IIT joining, winter, Diwali/Pongal and weekends with Monday bunked. Or so we thought, till we realised that they were more jobless, and even had free high-speed Internet access to inculcate the nuances of subtle art forms like chatting with the fairer sex and making their way into social networks.

It was then that one of these uber-jobless people got this brainwave of starting a 'Yahoo!' Group where all these people colluded to form theories on interesting topics like what pigs thought about human culinary practices. As it was expected, it soon became pretty clear that Yahoo! Mail was no match for the mailing skills of these talented youngsters pepped up with multi megabyte Internet access and GMail accounts (and some with professional typewriting classes). tam_gumbal at Yahoo! Groups thus almost compulsorily needed a GMail account, and if some good samaritan invited you for one, you could join these intellectual discussions.

A set of jobless Chennai localites at IITM not having much work either during the semester or the vacations was a perfect recipe for making a great mailing list. Mail counts reached a couple of thousands a month easily, but the Yahoo! servers were still a bottleneck when compared to the mammoth 1 GB that Google had provided. And after sometime (I don't recall exactly when), GMail doubled its capacity and then later started increasing the capacity slowly, but steadily. Yahoo! servers could be notorious. Some of the mails took days to come, especially under high load. And then, it was in the beginning of 2005, when we decided to break the shackle their servers had on our creativity and moved over to the newly launched Google Groups.

tam_gumbal's (TG) thirst for mailbox space knew no bounds once it moved to Google Groups. A couple of thousands of mails were laughed upon soon, as the ten thousand in a month mark was breached in six months or so, thanks to the third year end summer internships. Compulsory internship, and so more joblessness, including this figure of authority writing this post, who had by then become a moderator of the group. The gap between GMail's space limit and my usage started to reduce, thanks to TG, till around March 2006, when it almost reached capacity, and I had to either delete TG mails or use a different account. "What? You even thought about deleting TG mails?", bellowed an inner self. It took me days to pacify it and stop it from shouting slogans of blasphemy at really odd times of the day. Creating an account for TG'ing alone had its share of problems as well. For one, my mail count would drop to zero, and that isn't like all that good for the ego of a person perched at the second position of the 'Top Posters' list.

I was fortunately saved from a philosophical introspection into wars between religion and fame, as the helpful souls at GMail offered an option to change your 'From' address of your mails to something else, as long as you prove that the other mailing address is yours. Quite a pleasant use of an obscure EMail functionality which we had before used only for sending prank messages to the class mailing list demonstrating that Britney Spears (yes, she was quite popular, and for the right reasons, those days) thought you were hot or something like that. So, I mailed from the TG account, but Google Groups thought I was doing so from my earlier account. And since the TG account was subscribed to the group mails, it got a copy. And my earlier account was set to 'Don't send me mails, I will read them from the net'. Neat, isn't it? To top it all, this mechanism, my geeky inner self reflected, was scalable. I could always get a new account with the same mechanism once this new account gets over as well.

Of course, all this did was to prevent me from going over limit on GMail. I was still inching closer to the capacity, as the number of mails from other mailing lists, forwards from friends etc. still was more than the amount by which GMail was increasing its capacity. Yes, I didn't mention about all the various Linux oriented mailing lists, and other stuff till now right? Quite a proof of how they fade into insignificance in the face of TG's spamming capabilities. So, a third "Secondary" account was started, to siphon off all the mailing list traffic. Me being the moderator of the closed group TG meant that I could create two subscriptions in my name over there. But since this was not all that nice for other groups, I set up filters to forward all these mails from the first account to the third account, and trashed it from the first. And of course, I faked mailing from my only visible account! And that, well, brought things under control. But I still returned to the Yahoo! Webmail days. One big attachment and I would go "Eeek! My mailbox had only 20 MB left!" (GMail actually stops you from sending mail if you fall within 10 MB of free space. Now, thank me. Pretty unlikely that you would have got to know this trivium otherwise!) So, any personal mail with forwards go to the Secondary account (and get labelled here as 'backed-up', so that you can delete them but be sure that you have a copy anyway). You know, thinking of all these solutions you had crafted for such life-critical problems puts you in a state of self-awe! :D

It's been more than two years since then. Somewhere in between, GMail suddenly pumped up its speed of mail box capacity increase by a few orders of magnitude. Today I did a totalling of my mail space across my accounts. 3005 MB on my Primary account, 2646 MB in the TG account, and 902 MB in the Secondary account. My Primary mailbox is now well within half the limit of 6692 MB. TG is still flourishing with quite a few thousand posts per month. So hopefully the story has ended on a 'everyone was happy ever after' note. But still, you can't help but be surprised at the fact that you have got over 6.5 GB of mail across your accounts. At some point of time, I would take a (then old) 40 GB hard disk and keep it as a GMail archive. Such a nice piece of memory (pun unintended) right? You don't agree? You aren't a geek, are you? :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ominous Signs

You know you have been online too much when you look at a Volkswagen and start wondering when Wordpress started making cars...

No.. really!

And yeah, you must be sleepy as well...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A sizeable problem?

There has been lots of hot air surrounding a recent heated debate regarding an issue with resizable entry boxes for conversation windows in Pidgin, which lead to a fork of the software. Here's some fanning from my side...

From the technical point of view, Pidgin developers were perhaps taking the right stand. It was decided by the developers right back when version 2.0 was released, that Pidgin would keep options down to a minimum and present a very simple, usable interface to the user. Now, the question is not about whether that decision was right. The developers had their reasons of course, but many wouldn't like this approach. As a matter of fact, I would prefer control and power as opposed to simplicity. But well, that was a design decision they made and they have every right to do so. And for the sake of design consistency, it is important that they stick to this approach. Giving an option to resize windows is well, going straight against that decision.

I wish the person who forked had bitched about the decision to 'go simple' back when it was v2.0, and forked if things didn't work out. By now we would be having two programs, one minimalistic and one fully controllable. That sounds really great! In fact, there have been examples of software forking for similar reasons, like Links and ELinks. I do agree that forking wastes lots of resources. But hey, that's the way free software works. There will be differences in opinion, and since the source is there for everyone to hack, there will be variants. But as long as there can't be one good solution satisfying all, forking atleast provides users with options to pick and choose from.

The funny part of such episodes is the side-attempt made by proponents of proprietary software to get a few brownie points with the argument that commercial software is better off, since companies have to listen to their users in order to retain them. Yes, companies will lose money and thus change if users protest, but I am not sure it always works that way. For one, that's the entire reason we have anti-trust laws are in place. And here are some statistics. At the time of writing, "Downgrade Vista to Windows XP" has 392, 000 Google search hits. "Vista Sucks" has 541, 000 results. Shouldn't that mean that Windows Vista should have rolled back to Windows XP by now?

Let me end it this way. Developers would many a times be happy to help and be considerate enough to do what you suggest, if they like the idea. If they don't, they will reject it. The FOSS model puts the developer at the top. You code because you want things your way. If you don't like it, then you would be asked to go ahead and tweak for your own, because the code is made available to you. FOSS came to the forefront because developers needed a break from programs created by companies which didn't allow them to do what they wanted with their programs. It thus doesn't make too much sense to assume that they will get into the same issue because of users, and that too with the code they have copyright over, as opposed to the company before.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A second peek at Switzerland

So.. left with around a week off from work, two holidays thanks to Easter, and two weekends, we had suddenly decided on a trip to Switzerland. I had been on a six day trip to the country last December (Note to Self: Should blog about it sometime!), but well, it was a second trip with my mom around this time. Its perhaps jinxed, but so happened that both my trips were essentially last-minute. The comforting part though is that as an UK resident, a visa is not needed. However, the plan involved my mom as well. Actually the trip was mostly for her, as the travails of Bollywood and Kollywood over there had expectedly left a deep impression on her. But the question was, as a mere visitor to UK, would she be exempt from a visa as well? After much digging into the UK Swiss consulate website, we found a nice webpage with neatly put pictures of valid visas, with the column 'No. of Entries: MULT' in the visa circled, so as to say, "See, this is what you need to get in!". We scurried her passport to find the magic letters.. ah! there they were.. MULT!! and so we were all set for the Swiss trip.

Thursday the 27th of March, 2008

We reached Zürich by the afternoon. Vinodh aka Vindy was our host. If you need to roam around this country, a Swiss pass is a must. This provides you free unlimited travel using almost the entire travel network in the country (but for flights, of course, and some other exceptions like many cable cars), including trains, buses, trams and steamers. The minimum time for which this pass is available is for four days, so if you are travelling the country for less than that, you will have to shell out for four days. We got the pass starting from that day itself, pushed in our luggage to the lockers in the railway station itself, and headed to Schaffhausen from Zürich. Like many cities in the country, Schaffhausen too has an 'old town' strongly reminiscent of the medieval times, with the pebbled pathways, and squares with statues and spouts of water. A pretty sight that. We soon took a bus from there to Neuhausen Am Rheinfall, from where it is a five minute walk to the falls. I had been to the falls before as well, when the volume of water was far more impressive, but the falls still had its unmistakeable grace intact. It was evening by then, and after some time, we made our way back to Zürich.

Actually, you get from Zürich to Schaffhausen and back usually by the German railway (Die Bahn, aka The Railway.. Talk about egocentrism!), as Schaffhausen at the very border with Germany, and is en route places inside Germany, from Zürich. Trouble is, someone needs to tell these guys that what gets prominently displayed across the train is the destination, and not where it was coming from. I almost got in the other way thinking that a train was headed to Zurich, on my way back. Turns out they meant, "that's what it is coming from"! Duh! To add to my scares was my cellphone provider O2, which greeted me suddenly with a 'Welcome to Germany' text when I was returning in the right train. Smells strongly of a failed conspiracy to catch me without a valid visa and get me deported. Better luck next time guys! :D

Friday the 28th of March, 2008

Our trip had to be more of a 'milder' nature (as opposed to climbing hills and stuff like that), as my mom was accompanying me. The best that Switzerland has to offer for such trips are the 'scenic' transport options. Breathtaking views from them are, indeed! Our second day started off, after much brainstorming and planning between me and Vindy the previous night, with a trip to Lucerne from Zürich, from where we went atop a mountain called Pilatus in a cable car. It takes a good 45 minutes with two stops in between, and provides really beautiful views as you climb up, provided the skies are clear. Luck seemed to favour us, with the sun shining down, till the last 100 metres near the peak, where we were like.. 'err.. where did all this fluffy stuff appear from suddenly!' So, there was hardly a view from the top. But well, the cable car views were good enough. We came back to Lucerne after a couple of snaps there. Looks like we could take 'the world's steepest cog wheel railway' from the peak to Alpnachstad, near Luzern. Didn't know it then.. should have been good!

We then took the rail route from Lucerne to Interlaken called the 'Golden Pass' scenic route. Actually the Golden Pass route goes further, this is the first leg of that journey. Plenty of lakes and breathtaking sights on the way, as the train meanders its way between mountains, but the crown should undoubtedly go to the segment as you near Interlaken. The Lake Brienz near Interlaken. Wow! That's all you could perhaps say, I guess. You realise your linguistic limitations when it comes to describing a still emerald coloured lake with a snow-capped mountain fence reflecting on it. Beautiful. I would stop there.

Interlaken is right in the middle of the so called 'Bernese Oberland' region, best known for its hiking and skiing options, due to the abundance of mountainous ranges nearby. Like Jungfraujoch, which supposedly is the highest railway station in Europe. We decided to go to Schilthorn, which needed us to take a train to Lauterbrunnen, then a cable car, and then a rail again to the mountainous village of Mürren. Schilthorn had to be reached from there by a cable car again, but it was too late in the evening for us to do that. It was anyway weird to see a rail network being reached by a cable car! The short train journey was beautiful though, will all the snow around. The glass windows on the train could be pulled down as well. To hell with the sub-zero, I thought, as I pulled it down completely to peep out with the cold breeze blowing across you as the train chugged its way through all the snow. Bliss! This was also a moment of realisation that it had been more than six months since I had gone in something like a bus or a train with the breeze blowing against your face. Some of the small joys of having been in a tropical country!

We came back to Interlaken and then to Zürich to end the day. One of the good things about the Swiss transport is that these scenic routes coexist with the 'cut the crap' intercity trains which get you across the country in no time, when you need it. Yes, you don't get the scenery but you tunnel across the landscape to reach the other end in no time. These guys recently got the Lötschberg Base Tunnel, which bored through 34.6 km of Alpine rock to reduce transportation time by more than an hour. Crazy, I hear you say. These guys, you know...

Saturday the 29th of March, 2008

The third day was to be a continuation of the 'Golden Pass' route. Two more trains complete this trail, which we started after a journey from Zürich to Interlaken. It was halfway on the journey to Interlaken, when Vindy calls me up and says that he needs a key that I had immediately. Trouble was, we were heading out on a tight schedule, and Vindy was already an hour behind, if he had to catch us up somewhere. Luckily for us though, it turned out that the second leg of the Golden Pass route from Interlaken retraced the Zürich-Interlaken route backwards till Spiez. The plan thus was for Vindy to catch a train from Zürich to Spiez, within we cross Spiez to go to Interlaken, and then come back via the Golden Pass train to Spiez. The time buffer we would have, between Vindy arriving and we reaching, was around six minutes. That's actually a hell of a lot of time, if you have an idea about how punctual Swiss trains are. Vindy never ceases to be amazed of an instance where a friend of his travelled across countries for over fourteen hours and arrived at the destination at the minute he was supposed to. Not exaggerating when I actually say that you can set your watches by noticing when a train arrives in the station. But then, Murphy smiled. At really a bad time. In a rare event, the train Vindy was coming by, was late by seven minutes. Yes, from a buffer of six minutes to one, negative. I thought it best to leave the key somewhere in the platform so that Vindy could take it a couple of minutes later from there. Luckily for us, the authorities cascaded the delay to other trains leaving from Spiez, so that people could make connecting journeys. Bless them. A few moments of tension thus passed uneventfully.

The train chugged its way to Zweisimmen, covering more snow and more beautiful landscape. It's really tough for me to get bored of all that though! You get to see the second lake associated with Interlaken, Lake Thun, early on in the journey. Darker than Brienz and a bit more turbulent, it was a pretty sight to look at. The third leg was from Zweisimmen to Montreux, as we slowly percolated to the French side of the country, with 'näch halt' giving way to 'prochain arret', and the gutturals replaced by the dentals. Of particular mention is the last half an hour of this trip, during which the train quickly spirals from the top of the mountains to the level of Lake Geneva, in full view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Spell binding! Description of unending blue waters on a clear sky with snow capped mountains bordering it, and lush green meadows just catching up with spring on the other side... I think I better leave such stuff to pictures!

The plan was to take a steamer from here to visit a chateau and then from there to Lausanne. Montreux, I gathered, was famous for a Jazz festival, a statue of Freddy Mercury, and its promenade flowers. However we hardly saw a few of the flowers in our rush to somehow find our way to the pier in time for the steamer, as it sailed through the beautiful lake for around fifteen minutes to reach Chateau de Chillon, a small fort standing by the edge of the lake. We didn't bother going inside the fort though, and ended up snapping ourselves in front of it, and the edge of the lake -- really provides for a few very breathtaking snaps (Enticing ducks with pebbles on the banks of the lake is nice fun as well).

We took the next steamer from there to Lausanne. The steamer ride for over one and a half hours long over the blue and beautiful lake. The day was pretty cold, but that doesn't really stop you from removing your coat (leaving you with two thin layers of clothing) and stand at the forecastle with the wind blowing against you and your hair flowing in the air. Aah.. Liberating! My mom thought it wiser though to take the coat I refused to wear and wrap herself around. Turns out that a lady was quite impressed by my lofty hairstyle, as she came and told me that I looked quite handsome with that flowing hair. Would have been more flattered, but just that it might have required her to be a bit younger. Mom surely wasn't impressed with the young girls at the bow swigging vodka, but was intrigued by a particular lady whom she claimed was a Hindi actress on a Swiss holiday. Well, Bollywood isn't exactly my forté, so I left it at that. It was evening by the time we landed at Lausanne, so we took a train back home soon, and did some chocolate shopping! (Aren't they the first thing which come to your mind when you hear the country's name?!)

Sunday the 30th of March, 2008

The last of the four days in our little rendezvous with Confoederatio Helvetica. Vindy decided to join us on our travails despite his.. ahem.. busy schedule of searching, researching and soul-searching (But for the first and the third, which were for rhyming purposes. We are not casting aspersions on whether he does the second, though) We started our itenerary at half past six in the morning from the sleepy Zürich suburb of Adliswil. Or so we thought. Until Vindy, equipped with his superior sense of orientation, observed that the hour hand in the clock on the railway station was a bit too tilted to be between six and seven. We thus became the 2342nd, 2343rd and 2345th (mom observed all this a bit late and thus missed the place in between) victims in Switzerland of this wonderful invention known as the Daylight Savings Time, aka DST. So, it was Plan B for the rest of the day starting at half past seven, CEST. Thank god for small mercies though. Looks like sun hasn't yet yielded to human whims, and we got an additional hour to roam around later on in the day.

We started the trip for the day by going to a different country. Yes, from Switzerland to Liechtenstein (Complaints like 'Hey, that's around 160 sq. km., the size of say, Chennai!' will not be accepted). After an hour's journey to Sargans, we boarded a bright (for the sake of political correctness) flourescent greenish yellow Liechtensteinian bus to take us across the border to their capital city of Vaduz, after crossing through a bridge (which we uninamously decided was the border), lush green fields and a few small, pretty castles. A few steps down the Vaduz Post bus stop onto Städtle ("Little Town", the Market Street) and I knew that I was in love with this city. The pedestrian had a heady mix of modernity and the charm of medieval European cities. We searched our way to the tourism office and got a nicely illustrated map of the city and its surrounding tourist spots. The map also had the postage seal of Liechtenstein, which is supposedly a collectible. We grabbed a copy to 'prove' our visit to this neighbouring country.

We had a couple of hours before our planned trip back to Switzerland, and thus took a bus to a nearby town (village perhaps) of Malbun atop a hill. The bus sped up the fairly steep incline of the hill leaving behind the picturesque town, as we looked forward to the snow-clad peak amidst the clouds. Turned out soon that we were wrong about the cloud bit. Malbun was actually in the midst of strong winds which were blowing all the snow into the air. Exciting stuff indeed. Things got more exciting when we actually got down from the train into the near zero centigrade clime with the winds pushing us. No, I am not exaggerating. Mind you, none of us were light, and well, if you know me and my mom, we aren't all that thin either! But the beastly wind actually swung our legs whenever we lifted them, leaving us tottering and moving forward (I actually had to hold my mom so that she doesn't lose balance!) Oh yes, before I forget, our main accomplishment atop the hill top on 'A windy day with Vindy' (I have taken a bit of a liking to this phrase I invented). Having tiffin box lunch of moar kozhambu rice somehow making sure that the potato chips dont fly away from the box in the front of err.. a toilet (that happened to be the only few square feet which was a bit protected from the wind) amidst the storm. Could some good samaritan tell me if this qualifies for some sort of an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records?

Anyway, after all that and couple of stylish poses for posterity back at Vaduz, we chugged our away back to Sargans, and took a train to Chur. That was where we started our bus journey "The San Bernadino Express" to Bellinzona, in the Italian part of Switzerland. En route were deep gorges, and even deeper tunnels, but the high point of the journey was the display of the Swiss engineering prowess. Or perhaps, fetish would be a better word, considering the amount of tunneling they had done in the country. Bridges at various depths and tunnels at every mountain left us amazed as the bus drove (or rather bore) its way to the Svizzera in Switzerland.

Turned out however that the Italian part of Switzerland was not all that well maintained as the rest of it. Well, it surely was a revelation for us indeed to know that trains could run late, and well.. we perhaps spotted the only places in Switzerland where people would walk across the railway tracks on the platform! Anyway, we took a short train from Bellinzona to Lugano, and then to the base of Mt. Bré. There was a funicular from there to the mountain top. The lack of staffing for the railway surely led to a lot of confusion, and to add to it, none of us knew Italian as well! We somehow reached the top of the mountain to catch a glimpse of Lake Lugano (and what was probably Italy beyond that) near sunset time. That ended the day, and our trip around Switzerland, as we packed back and it was back to the Queen's land by the next afternoon!

Well, yes, but not before a last dose of adventure, at the exit point checks at Switzerland. I hand over our visas to the officer (Grumpy Ol Visa Officer, or GOVO)...

GOVO: (Looking at my mom's passport) Can you show me where the visa is?
Me: (Turns to the UK visa page) Here
GOVO: I asked for the Swiss visa page.
Me: But this is the UK visa, and so she doesn't need one.
GOVO: What do you mean, of course she needs a visa
Me: Well, the website told us so. Even I don't have one.
GOVO: You don't have a problem because you have an entry clearance. Your mom doesn't have one.
Me: But this is the entry clearance page.
GOVO: That's visa, not entry clearance. (Pauses) Anyway, I can't do much. It's the official's mistake to have let you in at entry. But please make sure you get a visa next time.
Me: Thank you...

And we walk through, as I peer through both our passport pages, and finally find a glaring difference right at the top. One was 'UK Entry Clearance' and the other was 'VISA'. He had a point after all, right? Well, lady luck sometimes is kind enough...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dear Mr. Sam

Neither are you an uncle to me, or is it right to bring personal relationships to this, so I shall skip the 'Uncle' part. Let us get a few things clear here. You are one country. One country out of hundreds around the world. You have a constitutional setup and a congress whose job is to make laws for your country and your people. And to the rest of the world, you many a times sound retarded, or to use a more politically correct term, cognitively challenged. Or to put it like the way your countrymen do, you are a real dick sometimes. Now, let us shout this again to you. You, and your congress, are your country's, and not the world's. Didn't get me? Let me tell you again. Your congress makes rules for your country, and not for the world.

We appreciate your concern for Tibetans in China. Many of us share your concern as well. So, get your PR machine or the Congress to say so. But let's stop there. Let's not tell China what to do in this issue. It's their country and for all you know, as the Chinese Foreign Ministry says in so many words, you might not know anything about what's happening there. You have a job at hand. To help your country improve. As much as I would hate to follow your footsteps and tell you what to do, you do have a lot of issues within your country as well. What? Didn't get me? I said there's a lot of trouble brewing in your world. You know, companies writing off millions of dollars every day isn't exactly a new fashion statement.

Similarly, your concern regarding countries which refuse to repatriate immigrants who have been convicted in your country. Well, yes, you have a problem there. With your country that too (what a surprise!). Our sympathies. But you see, your highly logical VISA applications do ask for declarations stating that you don't plan to start any criminal or terrorist activity in there, right? And you thought criminals would obey them? That's sad! When you expect with such milk of goodness that criminals would follow what they give in writing, and all you get is betrayal. Tragic. Sigh. But hey, you didn't let them in purely to help them right? You know, like your statue of liberty says.. that give me your poor stuff. Yeah, your immigration laws clearly don't gel with that. Don't know what your culture and folklore says (Hey wait, you are only a few centuries old right? Atleast the majority of you which doesn't speak Cherokee and goes around claiming that people should speak the 'native' American English tongue? Sorry. My bad.), but there are lots of adages which float around in my native place which say something like when you want roses to bloom, you have to bear the thorns. Yeah, so, you get the point?

Very well, we still understand that you have a got a problem there. After all, those guys shouldn't be misbehaving like that. But well, you should talk and sort out the issue only by talking to the other countries. That's called diplomacy. But you have ended up putting forth a law which called for sanctions and suspensions of visas to countries which didn't tail your line. I would really hate to call you so, but well, generally, such countries are not really called peaceful. You know, the way you describe China and Saddam's Iraq.. yeah, a bit like that. What's funny still is that you don't realise what you would be up for, if all those countries decide to not bother about people not being able to come to your country, and tell you to stick that law of yours up your.. err.. you know what...

You can very well live with all your hypocrisy given your economic clout, and have the rest of the world wagging its tail behind you. But well, things could change. Hell, it's already looking as if its changing. I am sure making some amends would do you a world of good.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Angry Young Man

One of my friends supposedly is. It's a nice pastime to make trends like this out of Facebook statuses :-)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pathway from heaven

View from the top of a ladder thrown from the heavens to earth...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Saw this 'plea' stuck to a tree near my house...

Innocence. That's all comes to my mind. I guess not a single person hasn't been without wondering.. "How I wish I still was a child, ignorant of all the complexities of real life!" :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Attack of the Instant Messengers

(wrote this article about two and a half years back, and had been mysteriously sitting in my desktop since then. I can assure you, its really interesting to read what you have written years back. Life!)

Just now, I ended up speaking with a friend on telephone for over half an hour. Ended the call, and gave a quick thought on when was the last time I had done this. It surely came as a surprise for me that my cognitive setup had timed out after a couple of minutes in the attempt to provide a reasonable estimate. Perhaps years, I thought to myself. Why this hit me hard was that it was this same R. Ramkumar, who had once upon a time engaged in meaningless banter for even three hours on the telephone. Three hours. The lifetime of the Indian movie hero on the screen. One complete innings of a cricket match. One end-semester examination paper of my Physics III in the fifth semester, which caught me in a horrible time dilation with my mind vacillating between breaking free from the lecture hall and not losing hope with perhaps just one correct answer on paper. Three hours. It's still perhaps not a long duration for time. It was not long before that perhaps the same amount of time passed off in a jiffy with my friends on the Besant Nagar beach or the famed Gurunath in IIT, which has this mystical charm - perhaps emanating from the bright broad umbrellas beneath which we sat - of making friends get together and go yap, yap and yap. Yes, face to face chats, or "fart sessions", as an IITian would put it across, still is on firm ground. But while the older generation goes on and awn and yawn over how letters have been relegated to the background, it may not be long before speaking on the telephone might be the next casuality.

I never had too much sympathy for letters. Perhaps due to absence of any romantic endeavors in college, I guess my last personal letters were posted way back in Bhilai, more than ten years back, to one of my aunts who was almost a second mother to me. But nevertheless, letters were too slow and painstaking, and it seemed to me that the natural course of technological evolution is bound to wipe out this means of personal communication. But telephones never had such drawbacks. They were convenient, almost instantaeneous and perhaps the most efficient in terms of information conveyed. The fact that my life has been overshadowed by other means of communication like E-Mails, Instant Messengers, Online Services and SMS's looks as intriguing to me as I was once, in my second year, when I learnt that the de facto standard for local networking, namely the Ethernet, was only 30% efficient and perhaps less than many other protocols. It was one more time when I was facing the fact that it's not always that the most efficient solution gets through.

Perhaps it was the cost. None of the other techniques I use today incur any cost for me, as even Internet is provided free of cost in the campus. Free SMS's have been a revelation amongst college-goers. But the issue was perhaps deeper than this monetary issue. Perhaps I realised that talking defeats the purpose of having a chat, which essentially was to spend free time. Perhaps because chatting face to face involves pauses, and in many cases, there are more than two people to contribute to the discussion. Perhaps. Perhaps I would never know why the means of communication which Internet provides have caught on like a wild fire.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Legend of the Sporting family

(Had once upon a time during my IITM days submitted this for a limerick competition. The first paragraph was given and was asked to continue from there. What carries this format is the quintessential silliness it potrays!)

Adi-dasa the ever-ambitious sadhoo,
Burnt his feet walking the fire-bed through,
So the next time, he ran on the coals,
With hidden padding on his soles,
And invented the first ever sports shoe.

Made of fish from the best of the clan,
With scales dried spick and span,
The shoes took him to many a race,
Where all his rivals just couldn't keep up pace,
And in no time became a popular man.

However deeper analysis made experts think,
Theory of shoes insulating had a chink,
Photos of Dasa running revealed,
Reason behind the magic on the field,
What pushed back the rivals was the stink.

Whatever the theory, Eer-kob was aghast,
His supremacy was now a thing of the past,
Thought he, Adi's image he had to marr,
So he proclaimed him a poli saamiyaar
As having used fish, he must be an outcast.

With stony followers fled our hero Dasa,
Lest he be made into batter for dosa,
One such follower got under his shoe,
And with greater speed he flew,
Roller skaters! He got the funda.

With similar fate met Kai-nee,
For once when playing with glee,
"Duck off", she alerted, noticing bees at the edge,
Only to be misheard as the game's first sledge,
The disgusted populace threw her out for free.

The two soon came into contact,
Similar interests had them attract,
A nuptial knot soon became clear,
And they soon had Adi-doosa, their junior,
But still with the town, they needed a pact.

The family roamed around the jungle,
Thinking over undoing their bungle,
One such day in a forest rot,
Munching leaves as food for thought,
The junior felt that something had him tingle.

Soon a lion chased him down the slope,
And Doosa ran like an antelope,
To his father's town, safe and sound,
But with no skaters or shoes around,
For now you know who discovered dope.


poli saamiyaar: [Tamil] A deceiving (rogue) sage - poli - false, saamiyaar - sage

A farewell poem

(And so, here is one more attempt to revive my blog.. I thought I could at least start with what I have written already, with a vague hope that this perhaps would help me blog more regularly! :) )

This was a poem, letter or whatever you feel it is, I once wrote for a friend...

Life today comes with so many bells and whistles,
and still you disregard them all and remain simple.
Can't think of anything more befitting, therefore,
than me replacing a fancy decorated coloured card,
with a sheet of white paper drenched in thoughts.

I will never mind that I am repeating it here also,
that sadly the world has gone too much ahead,
where calculation and sophistication rules the day.
But there is humaneness which still peeps through,
and it is through the kid in a few people like you.

If at all there's anything our friendship has taught,
let it be that whenever you sport or bring a smile,
you remember it is because you had been positive,
and that if you be your caring self throughout life,
everything will some day bend over to cushion you.

Nothing will stand forever in the test of time,
Neither you, nor me, nor this frail piece of paper,
But you still treasure ourselves and our friendship,
and maybe these words as well, with utmost happiness,
See how care puts in a smile, amidst imminent doom.

The world will pose itself to be as happy for you,
As your faith makes you think it has actually been.
Forever troubles will come, unknown and threatening,
but hope will step in and stand tall besides you,
tossing them off like footballs on the playground.

Whenever you face an important crossroad in life,
friends and relatives will surely come to help you,
but what finally decides is your attitude and belief,
and a realisation that there is nothing to fear,
but for your conscience which looks from within.

If fate kept us from being friends for a long while,
it also chose the time which made us very good ones.
Mind you, life can never be an optimization problem,
where the best possible options keep you the happiest,
the winner always turns out to be a contented heart.

Even if destiny cruelly decides to erase all memories,
and your will fights out to restore one back to you,
I wish it is that a person known to your name and heart,
will ever be ready to come when you call out for help,
and make you march confidently through the path ahead.