The world, how it works, surroundings, myself, etc.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Prime Minister

Here's how I imagine a day in the life of Oxford alumni, India's Prime Minister, probably is:

4:30 AM
PM wakes up. Goes to the dairy. Fetches milk and delivers to the residence of Prakash Karat, Sonia Gandhi (and family, one by one). Returns back to PM's residence and begins morning prayers, "Oh God! May my government not fall today. May mighty Prakash and almighty Sonia shower their blessings on me today too. Amen!" In the background, photos of Prakash Karat and Sonia Gandhi, with incense sticks fuming him to oblivion. He has reached a trance.

7:00 AM
PM gives wake-up call and bids good morning to Sonia Gandhi (and family, one by one). Sonia Gandhi faxes back the list of places the PM has to visit and the papers he needs to sign the day today. PM then rings up the residence of all Left party leaders and asks, "It's 7:15 AM. I've been holding it since 4:30. Can I go to the toilet now?" Dare he not go against the common minimum program. Dare he not do anything more than the bare minimum. "Who am I to decide?" he muses.

9:00 AM
PM reaches office. On the wall are neatly arranged pictures of Sonia Gandhi and the entire progeny. Alongside is a check-list of the UPA coalition's common minimum program (CMP). It's a coalition government after all. The word "minimum" is the highlight. Time and again has the PM been reminded by his coalition partners that their aim is to do the minimum and no better.

The PM takes his seat and rings up the caterer who services breakfast to Prakash Karat. "Has it been delivered yet? What! What the hell are you up to? I will fire you." And yes, he can. When it comes to care-taking the appetite of his Left allies, he has supreme jurisdiction.

10:00 AM
PM chit-chats with Finance Minister.
PM: What's up with the sensex, dude? You told me it won't rise. 18k to 19K in 4 days. Are you kidding me?
FM: I don't know. I tried. I have the RBI and SEBI try every trick in the book, but the bulls have been raging the market. Evidently, they see India as an excellent growth corridor.
PM: I don't care about what you do. I just want it down. You have no idea how mad Prakash sir is going to be with me today. He had personally asked me to ensure that no progressive attitude be tolerated. How will the millions of sulking sobs survive if India's economy ramps up? We cater to the "common" only -- that's the plan. Anyone who has enough to eat two meals a day is not common. We don't care for them. The beggars are my friends.
FM: I do realize how deep the pole goes inside you. Believe me, I'm at my wit's end. All industry majors have been doing wonders with the economy. Lately, Mukesh Ambani rallied up to become one of the richest in the world. It's shameful I know. We have millions below the poverty line. How dare he make so much! I suggest that we seize all his money and bring him down to rags. Then and only then will he realize that the poor are his brothers.

11:00 AM
A train of cars screech towards PM office. All cabinet ministers come rushing towards a conference hall in PM's office. PM wonders what the meeting is for. "It only befits that they don't inform me when the guys are meeting. I mean, who am I to know?" All of them assemble inside the conference room. PM follows. Only the doorman gets up to greet the PM. And why not? He was appointed there through the national employment guarantee scheme. He did not deserve the job. What's great with giving the job to a deserving candidate anyway? It's divine only if the candidate couldn't dream of the job. Then it's mercy. Then it's charity. Then it's virtuous. No wonder the doorman is cheerful. Homo sapiens have no tail, or else one could see it wag.

The meeting has already started. PM quietly pulls a chair and seats himself beside Sonia. Prakash Karat is already furious and he would dare not aggravate the situation.
Karat: What's up with the Nuclear deal? What will we do with all the energy? Poor people don't have light bulbs or cars. We don't want the deal.
Montek Singh (from Planning Commission): Sir, our energy requirements scale exorbitantly with industrialization. We cannot afford to buy oil for long. The Nuclear deal is important.
Karat: You just don't get it, do you? We cannot purport the idea of being friendly with America. They are the bad guys. They waste money on education and science. Americans consume so much while so many in the world die of hunger.
PM: But, sir, with progress....
Karat: Shut up. Just shut up. Not a word from you.
PM: Sorry, sir.
Sonia: But Prakash, we must do something about the scaling power requirements. Where will India get its power from?
Karat: The nuclear deal will happen over my dead body. Cut the problem at it's source. Why do we need so much power anyway? Banish all industries. They are only corporate money minting machines. Dismantle all schools. Life was so much better in the stone age. Oh the stone age..
(face blushes with evident orgasm)
Sonia: Ok. As you say, Prakash. The N-deal is done for. I assure you it will be blocked indefinitely. We'll teach Bush a lesson. Manmohan, tell Bush to go to hell.
PM: Yes, Ma'm.
PM looks excessively worried, perspiration running down his chin.
Sonia: What is it now? Why are you sweating?
PM: Ma'm. Just this one thing. Not a big deal. If I call off the N-deal, the people are going to tell me to go and die. They are going to ask me to resign. They'll hate me. Why do I have to face the brunt? Oh, God, why!
Sonia: You mean they don't hate you already? Look.. spare us the thinking. You just giggle and nod along. Think of America. If the mightiest nation can have a retard for a president, there's absolutely no reason why you can't head India.
PM: (almost squeaking) Ma'm! I went to Oxford!
The room bursts into laughter. Everyone leaves the room and heads for lunch.

12:00 PM
Lunch time. All cabinet ministers are seated around a round table. Manmohan is the real boss now. He is busy giving directions to the caterers as they scurry around hurriedly. Who says he doesn't have a control over his ministers? Who says he doesn't run things? He's feeding them currently, isn't he? He has the sole responsibility of their nutrition. Don't say he doesn't have powers.

One of the catering boys, an OBC, aspires to enroll into the B.Tech programme from a reputed Indian university next year. His eyes are lustfully fixated towards Arjun Singh, his hero limping along to fill his plate. He rushes towards him and performs the needful and jestfully mentions "I'm an OBC" at an opportune moment. And why not! No one else stood for a cause as noble as marking deep the social caste divide and plant into an unprecedented territory as higher education. OBCs have suffered for ages. It's time to reverse the winds now. Arjun Singh looks back in his eyes with an equal lewd. Sparks! Cupid strikes. Arjun drops his plate and drags the boy to an adjacent room. Door bangs shut.

1:00 PM
PM is sitting on the floor of his office, trying to mend the broken wheels of his revolving office chair. It broke the other day when Rahul Gandhi took his mother's words too seriously when she said "My son will take the chair soon". How alarmed the PM was that day while he wrestled with Rahul pulling onto the chair from either side. "Naughty children!" muses the PM merrily.

2:00 PM
PM heads towards a suburb in western Delhi. He is supposed to inaugurate a newly built road near Indira Nagar. The road is christened M G Road, named after the "father" of the nation. PM is oblivious to the fact that the new road leads up to another road of the same name at the next turn.

5:00 PM
PM heads back to office. Meets a few people, mostly representatives of charity organizations, anti-industrialization gangs, anti-rich campaigners. He has had a tiring day. Being the head of a 1bn strong democracy is no mean job. He prides himself and gives himself a pat on his back. Another day passed. He was able to push all "contentious" decisions for another day. 'Why should I have bother about these? Ma'm is there. Who am I to think?"

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sin City

I visited Sin City, Las Vegas, last weekend. The last words of the pilot while greeting our arrival at the Mc Carren Intl airport were: "Take a final look at your money" as the people cheered.

Las Vegas presents tens of thousands of ways to lose money. The main street, Las Vegas Blvd, is aptly named "The Strip" -- so easily can the road strip you off your money and clothes alike. The four elements of joy considered taboo in a "decent" society -- drinking, smoking, gambling and flesh are abundant as air. It's a festival every day. Blazing lights, music, (free) shows, crowd -- the sin city has it all.

Several casinos host periodic free shows. Famous casinos include: Bellagio, Caesars Palace, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Newyork Newyork, Paris, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, MGM. Bellagio hosts a dancing fountain show which is spectacular. The Mirage has a volcano-on-water show. Treasure Island featured a 20-min long carribben pirate show with real boats moving and canons blowing, while girls danced (of course).

Caesars Palace is my favorite and it's absolutely out-of-the-world. Rich Caesar-theme abounds from the walls to the ceilings, which have royal statues and artwork. Expensive shops are located in a setting with sky-ceiling and lighting that makes u feel you are in the open. Lavishness is the word. Money flows. And you can see it. All casinos are always filled with people who are ever ready to gamble even though they know they're most likely to lose all money -- people earn hard and spend thriftily in Vegas.

Insane is it? Well, is the "real" world sane? At least the Sin City is truthful. Clothes are a redundancy anyway.

Oh, and there's a quote:
What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.

Friday, August 17, 2007

India's I-day at the Googleplex

A social ceremony was held at Charlie's Cafe in the Googleplex to celebrate India's 60th Independence day. Friends and family were invited and it looked like they had a good time away from home.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Crookedest Street

My favorite place in San Francisco is Lombard Street. Touted as the crookedest street in the world, a patch in Lombard street takes 8 sharp turns on a downward slope of 40 degrees. The street has beautiful flowers on either side and it's fun driving with a speed limit of 5 mph.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

17 Mile Drive + Big Sur

I went on 17 mile drive and to Big Sur last Saturday. The place is a one-and-half hour drive from Moutain View. Both of them are scenic drives along the Pacific ocean, with beautiful cliffs, rocks, beaches, vegetation and such. Awesome weekend getaways and a sight for sore eyes.

Of particular interest is the way such scenic spots are publicized and streamlined for visitors. All along the way you'd find directions, illustrations and teasers about what to expect. It gets a lot easier for visitors and earns natural income to the county managing it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Two Days at Dubai / Sharjah

I spent two days last weekend at Dubai and Sharjah. I was en route to San Francisco and had taken a stopover at Dubai. Luckily, a colleague's relatives stay in Dubai, so I didn't have to worry about accommodation and food.

The most apt word for Dubai is "lavish". Not only do the Sheikhs have an enormous amount of money, they don't hesitate to show it off. Beautiful mosques with golden domes, neat roads with posh latest cars and heavy concrete density abounds this oil-rich mafia-ridden port city. In case you didn't know, you don't have to pay any income tax in Dubai. Yep, you heard it, no tax at all. Yet the ruler (a filthy-rich Sheikh) provides all civic amenities at his own cost. Of course he runs the biggest corporation himself (heard of emaar group? they own hyderabad's hitex, if you will) and this promotes Dubai as a business hub. Another big one -- if you are a citizen, you can legally keep 5 wives. Of course you'll have to be super-rich to afford and maintain 5 wives (and that still leaves out 2 days of the week), but just think about it.

Burj-al-arab, a seven-star hotel meant only for the super rich, is a tourist attraction. This is the hotel where David Beckham lives when he comes to Dubai and where Agassi and Federer played tennis on the heli-pad. This is the same hotel, by the way, where Rakhi Sawant stayed when she went to do it in Dubai. The tallest tower in the world, Burj Tower, is still under construction and its expected final height is yet unknown -- they want it to be the tallest for a long time. I also passed by Hyatt Regency, the hotel where Dawood Ibrahim's daughter got married and the cops from the world over kept vigil but couldn't track him down even though he's known to have come at the occasion. They don't even know for sure how he looks!

United Arab Emirates comprises of 7 emirates, of which Dubai and Sharjah are two. Apart from the oil business which accounts for most of the wealth, construction is a major industry. Dubai has the highest concentration of cranes world-wide, which was quite evident by the sight that almost all the buildings had cranes stemming out. Speed of construction is mind-boggling. Soil is almost as costly as gold. People gift soil and plants to each other during festivals.

The Arabs are very proud people. They do not resign their culture at any cost. They are highly motivated as well. Who can think of skiing in such a desert? Yep, they have a skiing center, artificially created. It's an entirely different world out there.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Height of Democracy?

So you thought that electing the wonders of the world was a height of democracy? Wrong.

There are more fantastic ways in which the democratic rights of the breeding multitude be used to establish fundamental facts. The algorithm of democracy mandates a clear answer to all long impending questions. Let me tell you some of them:
  • Vote to ascertain the validity of the Newton's laws of motion
  • P = NP? Vote to find out
  • Are dinosaurs really extinct? Vote to derive the correct answer
  • Vote to determine if God exists
  • Tsunami, is it? Vote to determine if Tsunami is really harmful
  • Is euthanasia cruel? Vote for it
  • Vote to determine where e = m . c^2 (or e = m . c^10000, for that matter). Also vote for the value of c, pi, e, etc
  • Should the value of pi be constant? Vote for it
  • Did Pratibha Patil's company go bankrupt? Vote for it
  • What's the DLF's share value? Vote for it
  • Vote for 2 + 2 = 4
  • Is all this the height of democracy? Vote to find out
Einstein once said, "God does not play dice".
Right. He votes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

President who Talks to God

Pratibha Patil, UPA's candidate for the post of citizen number 1, now also appears to be the number 1 contact with God. She claims that she gets divine messages from God.

Of dramatic consequence will the proceedings at Rashtrapati Bhawan be if she's voted to power, as a scientist leaves the premises and a "tantrik" takes over. I suspect that Rashtrapati Bhawan would be turned into a full-time reception station for beaming hotline messages to/from God, for the way things are these days, God's advice would be needed quite frequently. Mughal Gardens will have not peacocks but instead chanting sadhus trying to appease the Almighty. The rare species of herbs and medicinal plants in the garden will be used as incense sticks.

Everytime a bill requires the President's assent, a yagna would be performed and out from the holy fire will rise sparks resembling God's powers and the warmth from the holy fire will be used as an indicator of the President's assent. As for the signature, "old" ways wherein a pen was used, will pave way for "progressive" ones wherein sandalwood paste would be smeared on the bill, marking President's assent. Article 356, President's rule, would be rechristened as "the Order of the Almighty". The President, the head of the Armed forces, while on regular rounds, would purify the army-men by sprinkling holy water from the Ganges onto their heads.

And for once, India would be a country "bhagwaan bharose" in the literal sense too.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


This Sunday I accompanied a friend to "Sree Chaitanya IIT Prep school" at Ameenpur where he had gone to see his brother. Now, this place on the outskirts of Hyderabad is an all-inclusive world for the near-1000 students enrolled for 2 years to crack the JEE. The points which I find striking are:
  • Students are not allowed to leave the campus
  • Students have to get up at 5:00 AM everyday
  • Students have to sleep by 11:00 PM, no late-night studying, no night-outs
  • Students have to study during designated study hours
  • It's a boys-only boarding school, so no girls within sight for days/weeks at a stretch
All this reminded me of Gurukul, the movie, wherein a bunch of youngsters defy authority in search of "love" outside the confines of the institution. Obviously the institute is well within its rights to provide a suitable studying environment but I ponder how the crave for IIT has transformed the students' life. The shortage of good institutes of higher learning in India has reached magnanimous proportions even as the government continues to deduct 2% education cess from the tax-payers -- I wonder where all the money goes.

I don't blame the institute -- it's just catering to the demand from the public, and it's doing a good job. I don't blame the students -- they're just working hard in hope of a better future, even if it comes at a huge price, literally or otherwise. Whether or not the students are grown up enough yet to realize their freedom is a debatable issue. But something still doesn't feel right.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Online Chess at

There was a time once when, at IIIT, all I used to do was play chess online from dawn till dusk. So much so that I wanted to document the steps for playing chess online but never managed to -- instead I played on. I'm just about beginning another such spell these days, and before I get too engrossed, I want to list down how to play chess online with 'real' people at

Getting the interface:

So, you'll need xboard (download version 4.2.7 for unix/linux, for windows). There are a number of other clients available, but I use xboard. On a Mac, an easier approach would be to install X11 (if it's not there already) and fetch a darwin port for xboard with "sudo port install xboard". You'd have a better luck with linux if xboard comes along with your distribution. A more complete list of all available clients/interfaces can be found here.

Access at

As the name implies, is a free, well-maintained, feature-ful avenue for playing chess online. xboard merely connects to the server and everything else is managed by freechess. The things you can do at are:
  • play chess online with other people. You can set the parameters for a match (time duration, time increment, color, type)
  • observe other (great) people playing. You can also observe live matches from grandmasters, along with expert commentary
  • take online step-by-step lectures on chess -- this includes lectures on tactics, tips, opening/closing moves, best practices and recognizing patterns.
  • examine past played games
  • save / adjourn games for a later time
Sold? Ok, now get access by registering at freechess using a unique username (aka handle). You'll have to follow another link to activate your registration. This is a one-time process.

Connection and Setup:

My xboard command that launches xboard and automatically connects to is:

xboard -ics -icshost -icsport 5000

If you have a firewall, there are workarounds discussed in detail elsewhere. Essentially, you'll need to have telnet access to a gateway server which can then connect to freechess. When at IIIT, I used to use:

xboard -ics -telnet -telnetProgram telnet -icshost -icsport 23

(this connects you to first, and then you can "telnet 5000" to start the session)

I usually save my username and passwd (on separate lines) in ~/.icsrc so that I don't have to enter it every time.

The Game:

There are >5 kinds of games on freechess:
  • Blitz: This is standard chess with short time constraints
  • Lightning: This is standard chess with very short time constraints. A match can conclude within 2 mins
  • Standard: This is standard chess with regular timings
  • Suicide: This is the suicide variant of chess. Whoever loses all pieces wins
  • Atomic: This is a variant in which bombs explode when you take a piece, thereby bombing adjacent pieces as well
  • Crazyhouse: As the name says, it's crazy. You have to try it out yourself -- it's interesting
Of these, Blitz and Standard are the most played.

After you have logged in, you can issue a huge number of commands. See "help commands" for the complete list. I'm listing out the basic ones:

List out all the matches currently being offered:
$ sought

To accept a match offer:
$ play 9
(where 9 is the id, as displayed by "sought"). There are lots of people online on freechess, so you need to be quick in accepting a match offer.

List out all players currently online:
$ who

Offer a match request to another user with handle "nirns"
$ match nirns
A match request is sent to "nirns" which if he accepts, a match starts.

$ match nirns 5 12
This starts a "blitz" game of 5 minutes and 12 secs increment after every move. If you run out of time, your opponent can "flag" you and you lose

To see your score/ratings/points:
$ finger

To see nirns's ratings:
$ finger nirns

To see the list of LectureBot's lectures:
$ tell lecturebot list

To observe LectureBot's lecture:
$ observe lecturebot


Apart from the game and the fun, you need to keep track of your ratings. Your ratings are displayed for each category of game with "finger" command. Newbies have ratings of 400 - 900 in blitz/standard category. OK players have 900 - 1400, Good players have 1400-1900. Computer bots have 1900-2400. Grandmasters have 2400-2700.

Apart from the rating, you need to keep an eye on something called RD -- Rating Deviation. It gives a sense of "confidence" in your rating. Mathematically speaking, if your rating is x, the probability that your actual rating is within [x - 2 * RD, x + 2  * RD] is 95%.

Intially, the rating deviates by a huge factor after every game because RD is high. As you play more and more, the RD decreases and therefore the rating settles to a near-true value.

That's it. Explore the tonnes of happy commands on freechess. Have fun!
Oh, and if you happen to get online, my handle is: nirns.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

1bn People, yet no President

1 billion. That's the population of India. But when it comes to deciding who the next President should be, our political parties don't appear to have a strong contender.

Smitten so many times by the current scientist president (Bihar assembly dissolution issue, reservation issue), congress definitely doesn't want an intellectual for the next President. Why, it's a democracy; every common man should have the right to become the President, and it appears that that's exactly what's going to be. Gone are the days when people of repute and excellence were contenders for the post of the citizen number 1. Only common people, those who have the distinction of having done nothing their entire life, thereby preserving their inability, are the contenders now.

Oh, and women should be Presidents. Why? Just because no woman ever has! If Left, the messiah of the common, the perpetrator of the idea that no one can go to college until the last limping sob has gone to school, has its way, so will it be.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Without Engineers All Around

Disturbed with the sad realization of spending most of my time with engineers, this weekend I decided to try something else. So, on Saturday evening, I went to a gathering of people where I'd ordinarily not. It was a group related to private franchisees -- Quickstar and Amway. There I was sitting with a lot of people from different walks of life -- there were doctors, lawyers, businessmen, teachers/professors, students, and of course engineers. There was a speaker who was supposed to give a presentation on "something which would change your life". A good deal of people jumped up to the stage before the "real" speaker did, trying to pull excitement out of thin air with their broken English and miserably impersonated accent, and each of them claimed that this evening would "change your life forever". This phrase was being repeated with such liberal efficacy as if the intent purpose of "something which would change your life" was either understood or unquestioned, as if it had been globally accepted as a common ask. I hung on, not for an opportunity to "change my life forever" but for an opportunity to analyze what was going on.

The real speaker ranted about why everyone wanted to change one's life, how one could make life comfortable, how one could be happier, and it was shocking to see that each of these were tied with an idea of not having to work. It was assumed that to be truly happy in life, you needed to quit work and spend time with family, and he would have me believe that as long as I had to work, I didn't have "permanent" happiness. I'm accustomed to let such brag pass unabsorbed through my head but I wanted to see what the speaker would arrive at and how he'd drive the point home, so I lingered on. To my astonishment, he didn't. He didn't have a point to drive home. He spent all his talk motivating people that they needed to change their life but volunteered nothing as the means to it -- as if it was already well-established, unquestioned. He beat around for long about how he had "changed his life" and now he didn't have to work anymore, as if work were a punishment. He would make liberal use of metaphors that I care not understand, citing examples of how the richest people in the world had made money, as if he had decoded all of them.

In essence, the speaker spoke about everything except what the real point was. It was unnecessary. The audience was in applauses.

The speaker had taken 2 hours for his beating around the bush. If I had given the same presentation, it would last no longer than 5 minutes and all of it would contain the points of essence, nothing more nothing less, as if hitting the nail on its head.

Now that's the difference between engineers and others. Engineers try to make a point, others consider that it's unnecessary to make a point. Engineers tend to go by logic, others tend to go by ... well, I don't think they go by anything. (no flames please, by "others" I mean the crowd that was there)

I'm better off with engineers anyway, but I'll continue with my analysis at such gatherings. There's an awful lot you get to understand about the world and its suction.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Engineers All Around

I had been contemplating the other day about the people I spend my time with daily. The introspection was shocking.

From dawn to dusk, I spend time with engineers of the most technical type. But shocking is the fact that it's only engineers that I spend time with. Of course there are other kinds of people which I don't happen to cross paths with, but are at least equally capable. Not only that, all the engineers that I spend my time with are computer engineers, so that's an even more specialized group. I'll have to strain my thoughts to recall the last time I talked to someone who was not a computer engineer. Despite the usual brouhaha about a large portion of the currently employed kind in the country being computer professionals, it takes out a certain spice/variety from life. I would have loved to talk to lawyers, writers, painters, poets, businessmen, detectives, criminals, and such. What a pity!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

McD buys IIT Kanpur?

At about 3:00 AM yesterday night, a friend pinged me to inform that IIT Kanpur's site had been hacked. And it had been done in with a funny story-line:

McDonald buys IITK for $40 billion. The institutes's mission has been revised to: carrying out original research of significance and technology development in the ever-green field of burger making. While the general look and feel of the website remained the same, funny links to McFries, Mccy, Fry Gold medal, McBurger appeared.

See the screenshot for the rest of the fun.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Should the Unfit Survive?

As per Charles Darwin, evolution is governed by the survival of the fittest.

However, we have reached an age wherein the unfit and weak are almost forced to survive, out of compassion, brotherly love and the like. This not only places severe resource crunch, it discourages development by the able. Progress is governed not by the fastest but by the frailest legs. Society dictates that even the most unfit be allowed to survive, even against will. I disagree. Let me elaborate.

I was discussing with Rawat how ridiculous certain laws are. Did you know that it's kinda illegal to use nmap on a system on the internet? Not because you'd do any harm. But because it's "possible" to. Compassionate desire to protect the vulnerable renders armless the able. Deeds are governed not by your ability to hack, but by the vulnerability of the weakest target. I'll never understand the logic here (or the lack of it). A similar discussion on slashdot today discusses why we need most of the security industry anyway.

Turning our eyes at society, we find innumerable instances of laws that protect the incapable -- permanent reservations being an exponent to the case. Mind you, all these efforts have the utmost brotherhood, selfless compassion and the purest love in mind. Millions are spent to coax the downtrodden to rise above their levels and lead a better life. They refuse. It's not a coincidence that 60 years of reservation didn't bear fruit -- it can't. Ask a beggar to give up and work for you. You'll see why he continues to beg.
Give me a fish and I'll eat for one day
Teach me how to fish and I'll eat for the rest of my life
Unfortunately, all compassionate public-welfare laws are prime examples of the first kind. It isn't myopia. It's blindness. It doesn't taken an Einstein to realize that there aren't infinite fishes. It won't be long before fisherman will be forced to part with his hard-earned fishes because his pitiful brother doesn't bother to fish for himself and would almost certainly die otherwise. Alms has become righteous, ability depraved.

It's all about balancing equations. Unless the LHS equates to RHS, there's no way any ground can be gained. The rich will remain rich and the poor will remain poor. I believe that if you work honestly, there's no way one can remain poor in the first place. It's not difficult to make both ends meet and make enough for three meals a day. Poverty cannot be pitiful, it's criminal. In the least, it cannot be virtuous.

Have you no sense to realize that you need to remain indoors if you are so vulnerable? You cannot blame the wind for blowing off your candle, can you? The earth doesn't owe you a living. It came here first.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Curse of Heritage

So someone kissed Shilpa Shetty on her cheeks on stage the other day. And now arrest warrants have been issued against the two. Why? Oh, we have to preserve our "culture" and "heritage" you see. We have no food, drinking water or roads, but we MUST preserve our rich heritage. Study shows that 50% of Indian children go through sex-abuse but we MUST maintain the sovereignty of our diverse culture. Respected MPs are busy with illegal human trafficking -- who cares about these trifle matters? All we care about ever is to preserve our culture. Let nothing change. Stand still the time. Let the backward classes be permanently labeled as backward; go a step further, hand them free certificates of accomplishment. But we MUST preserve our culture. And we'll use force, dharnas, plundering, firing, mass-genocide or any other conceivable measures to safeguard our culture. If these fail, we're prepared to use missiles, nuclear warheads inclusive.

Suddenly, an actress, who no one really cares about, has become a symbol akin to Mother Mary whose virginity needs to be preserved. Suddenly she's a representative symbol of India's culture (recall the Big Brother tantrum!). If any of the culture and heritage drama is any worth, is it really so fragile that a actress's pomp could not only shake but challenge its very base? I mean, what's the whole tantrum about anyway? Are the people pissed off that a foreigner dared kiss Shilpa Shetty on stage while no Indian had the guts to do the like? Oh, I see. Can't say this in public. What a trick -- remodel the cause as an abuse to our heritage. Ahan.. I get the point now. And why was FTV banned? Oh, more foreigners. Yep, gotcha.

Such hypocrisy pertains not only to India but to the entire world. There are different levels its of operation, though and in India it operates at the very root. Any form of pleasure is taboo. How dare one ignore the oppressed and have moments of happiness! How dare one rest in peace while others have no food. So, what if someone has worked hard to earn his moment of peace? Sounds like communism, eh? Who do you think dictates the government anyway -- right or LEFT? Why do you think government employees are called "servants" -- they're just doing a "service", they have no personal ambition. Only the community holds supreme.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reservation Issue: Love you SC

With the decision to reject OBC reservations in IIMs (at least) for the current season, the Supreme Court has pushed its hammer up MHRD's (read Arjun Singh's) all necessary body parts.
With Arjun Singh's logic-less limping efforts suffering a jolt, I have only one thing to say to him: Do humanity a favour. Please goo and die!

The judgment was ensued from pure logic. The panel asked just the right questions and gave just the right answers to the MHRD's lack of logic.

The judges had said that the creamy layer does not deserve any reservation.

SC asked the Central Government was that why should there be reservation in institutes of super speciality.

And finally, when the Centre said that this 27 per cent was additional seats which had been created so that no inconvinience shuld be caused to the General Category, then the SC said that these 27 per cent extra seats were created by the revenue generated by all the citizens of the country. Under Article 29, all the citizens have a right to this investment.

Rightly said SC. Love you.

The Royal Flush Evening

We (Kunal, SMR, Rawat, Parry, I) were playing poker yesterday evening and what a game it was. Especially for me, I mean.

The game closed with my Royal Flush and wiped up almost everything. Now, Royal Flush is not something you get in every hand. Or even every day, for that matter. In fact, it has a meagre probability of 1 in 649,739 *. That is, if you deal a hand every second (for argument sake), it'll take you 7 days straight before you could expect a Royal Flush. It has the highest value hand possible in poker.

It felt lucky.

* Link courtesy Kunal.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Submit, Submit you Form

<input type=text />
<input type=submit />

It can't get simpler. Pretty much all you need to make an html form work on ALL browsers ALL the time, without being dependent on the phase of the moon or the price of tea in China or muhrat. Yet, of the limited number of ways to get this wrong, some website creators tend to know all of them.

Chances are they're are result of javascript abuse. If there's a need for driving licenses, there's an equal need for javascript-license. There are a couple of things in javascript you should not do just because you can. is a handsome example of a painful website experience made traumatic with javascript abuse.

Anyway, the website I want to criticize today is that of Hutch ( It has a login form. And it submits in exactly ONE browser. No points for guessing which one. And even on that lone browser, it won't work properly if ....(well, I don't really know what it depends on. my guess is it doesn't work unless your (age+weight+time_in_secs+7) % 22 == 0).
If you get through this ordeal (and I did), you have to be really good with all the pink colors which already make you feel unwanted, or else you'll get broken links, missing files, and what not.

Despite all this, Hutch AP is amongst the 5% of service providers who manage to cross TRAI's minimum service performance metrics. So, I ain't complaining.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Shitty bank

If you have an account with Citi-bank, you'll realize how much pain in the a$$ it really is.

The trouble started when I opened a Citibank account for my monthly salary credit. Little did I know then that it would become a frustrating experience within a matter of days. First off, a Citibank agent helped me open my account and thanks to the fantastic training she must have gone through, she managed to get my account name and date of birth, the two absolutely essential information, wrong in the records. It took me about 3 months of phone-calls and online complaints to fix the name. Talking of online, their UI is a nightmare. It has more flashing ads (for their own) than anything else. It's a treasure hunt to locate their contact phone number on their site (and no, the ATM card doesn't have this already. what a shame!). I set aside all work one fine day and put in all my time to locate their phone number, and I did. I called up only to find that the number was wrong. I think it took a few months before they fixed it. Talk of online availability.

They deducted Rs 500 for a card I did not ask for. Then when I asked them to disable it, they disabled my only ATM card instead. I could still login online, which is good because I could transfer all my money to some other bank and just forget about the whole trauma. But now, they seem to have disabled online access too. So, I can put IN money. But I cannot take any OUT. Talk of security -- could anything possibly be more secure?

I could have banked on the phone. But since they managed to record my wrong date of birth, they won't recognize me anymore (it's one of the things they ask you to confirm your identity).

More highlights:
  • There are exactly 4 Citibank ATMs in Hyderabad. And no, I cannot withdraw free-of-charge from other ATMs.
  • If you need to call up Citibank, it just notes down your request. They tell you that they'll call back within 48 hours (yes, yes, that's 2 days). But they don't. Instead, they call back after 3-4 days, if at all. Talk of 24x7!
  • Make an online complaint and you'll get back a template response. While we are at it, I must mention that their online complain form takes in no characters other than a-z and 0-9. Characters like (, ', ", %, $, are taboo. Therefore, you cannot write: it's.
Moral of the story: if you ever want to open a Citibank account, think again. If they approach you instead, run for your life.

The only thing integral to the bank's image is its name. Rhymes well with "Shitty".

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Back to Hyderabad

I returned back after a 3-month trip to Mountain View in Silicon Valley last Friday. I broke off for 2 days at Singapore. As I summarize the trip, the things that I remember most prominently are:
  • People in the US are generally self-centered and focussed. This is a good thing.
  • Rules have a reason. Following them makes sense.
  • If someone hates US, he is either myopic and jealous or blind.
  • Driving a white 2-door G6 Pontiac at 160 km/hr
  • The place is insanely costly. If you don't earn in dollars, you cannot survive.
  • Medial services are extremely costly. Hospitalization will cost you a fortune
  • There's no one on the roads to show you directions if you get lost
  • There are no small shops in the US.
  • Don't argue with cops in USA
  • Park only when you are damn sure it's not a "No Parking"
  • Beauty and brains CAN go together. Really.
  • US has pathetic TV/radio ads
  • Afro-americans wear only 1 size of T-shirt - XXL+
  • Americans are generally bold and loud.
  • People don't work or sleep or weekends. Instead, they go skiing, camping, surfing, etc.
  • Wine is just another drink
  • A$$holes are everywhere
  • There are approx 40% asians in the Silicon Valley (note: asians comprise about 40% of the world population)
  • Many americans don't know much about anything other than their line of work.
  • You're a veg? What's your source of protein?
  • Red/Pink == gay
  • There's only 1 fundamental right: Freedom

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On Necrophilia

Necrophilia (nekros: dead + philia: love) -- love with the dead. Essentially, necrophilia implies sexual attraction towards the dead (corpses).

If you are left gaping with "What? Really!", that's exactly how I felt when I started researching this topic a few days ago. My findings were bizarre to begin with and took time to sink.

Necrophilia is a paraphilia characterized by sexual attraction to corpses; the broad definition envelops all amorous propensities towards things that are dead -- corpses and carcasses alike. Some necrophiles like fresh corpses, some like it decayed, while there are some who like to make love to carcasses. Things get gory when necrophiles get to hunting for their dead, by digging up corpses, stealing them, or even by killing. Thankfully, most necrophiles don't. There are numerous instances of misdemeanor with corpses in mortuaries and morticians are a common suspect.

Now get ready for another eye-opener. Necrophilia is not unusual. There are books, papers and poems on the topic. Evidences of necrophilic activities appear in several forms, although the intensities vary. Examples:
  • The recent Nithari findings where dozens of skeletons were recovered. This is what sparked my curiosity in the first place.
  • Heard of vampires, demons and ghosts in the context of Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology? Well, that's necrophilia.
  • One Dr Carl Von Cosel, scientist, inventor organist and necrophile, found the woman of his dreams in Elena, a patient dying of tuborculosis. Heartbroken at the death of his beloved at 22, the doctor paid for a lavish funeral and she was buried. In a few years, he stole her body to his airship. For the next seven years, he held her body together with piano wire, put glass eyes where her real ones used to be, made a wig of her own hair and, piece by piece, strenthened her skin with wax and silk. He treated her with lotions and potions and electrotherapy. Amongst his resurrection tools was a million volt tesla coil. He serenaded her with his home-made organ and slept beside her.
  • Ed Gein was so fond of having the dead around him in his house that he hunted over 15 women to add them to his collection. When discovered, they found numerous body parts: four noses, several bone fragments, nine death masks, a heart in a pan on the stove, a bowl made from a skull, ten female heads with the tops sawn off, human skin covering several chair seats, pieces of salted genitalia in a box, skulls on his bedposts, organs in the refrigerator, a pair of lips on a string, and much more.
  • more, more, more, more, more, ...
Rob's site has a believable reasoning for the roots of necrophilia as a part of evolution. At a time when at average life expectancy was 20-30 years, there were more dead than living. It must have been hard to give up one's loved one after he/she died. Love lingered on.

Also intimidating is that most of these necrophiles don't believe they have done any wrong, that their acts are governed by their natural instincts much like the regular attraction of a live man and live woman.

As if life doesn't already exist in so varied forms, death too wants its share. I cannot figure out for sure whether I'm curious, frightened, enlightened or plain awe-struck.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Oh Lord! Pardon my Sin

I committed a huge sin. Even thought I was fully aware of it, I couldn't do anything to stop it. I was rendered powerless.

It all started when I went to Fry's to buy a laptop. I bought a Sony VAIO T2250 (1G RAM, Centrino Duo 1.73 GHz x 2, 120G HD, DVD RW, 15.4") for $874. Now the sin part -- the laptop came with Windows, a Vista variant, to be specific. I appealed to the Fry's personnel to give me a laptop which didn't come with Windows. There's none. I repeat, the whole of Fry's (a store with thousands of electronics items) didn't deal in a laptop which without Windows. In fact, there's no windows-less desktop either.

Helpless, I'm now waiting to take a dip in the Holy Ganges. It has purification effects, they say.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Damn you Wisdom Tooth

The story begins 5 years ago when two pairs of wisdom teeth set foot in this world. They were born in Jaw street, one pair in downtown, the other in upscale uptown. Being molars, they were destined to the dark parts, near the premolars. They had a playful childhood without much work to do in the inner bylanes; they didn't have much sunlight either. Off and on some crumbs would make way to them and they would have a nice time nimbling over. Such merriment was detestful to the gums residing in the neighbourhood.

"How dare stupid little molars have no work and all play!"
"How dare they be called wisdom-teeth, while we turbid gums!"

The gums conspired to outgrow their colonies. They began spreading their appendages to such extents where it'd almost block the growth of the poor molars. Very soon the molars had difficulty coping with the cramped up space. Lumps of gum would get in between the meeting of the uptown and the downtown wisdom teeth. It caused pain, yes.

The above is a story a dentist narrated to me after having charged me $150 making my toothache worse (he didn't have painkillers either). Well, he didn't craft it as a story, but yes, this is the gist. And yes, damn you wisdom tooth. Just kill the gums!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mystery Spot

Imagine a hilly-region about 50 metres in diameter. Also imagine that it's spooky enough to defy some basic laws of physics, that gravity behaves anomalously; a billiard ball placed on an inclined wedge rolls up the slant, two people standing on opposite sides of a level surface appear to change height. Mysterious, huh? Well, that's Mystery Spot and it exists for real in Santa Cruz, CA. No one has been able to explain the phenomenon observed.

A free pendulum makes an angle (about 17 degrees) with the normal, as does this guy hanging from the door. There's a small story about this place. More spooky pics here.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Renouncing my Religion

Convinced that religion of all forms is primarily BS, a mistake in the making for centuries now, and having dragged it along unconsciously for 23 years myself, I've decided to let go. I've decided to abandon my religion. I have no religion anymore. If there are any "religious" rites that my religion ordains before such acts of renunciation, I'm unaware of it. And I couldn't care less.

My apartment-mate at where I stay currently is a Chinese, and he doesn't have any religion. Neither do most other people in China and I didn't even know. That's 1.5 bn people, straight. One of my T-shirt reads "Come to India.. 1bn people cannot be wrong"; if this is true, 1.5 bn people are almost correct in not having a religion. My earlier apartment-mate, a Japanese, had told me that most people in Japan don't have any religion either.

A lot of bloodbath has taken place in the name of religion. Most don't understand why God was invented and yet would go any lengths to water his palettes, as if he's a sick sadist hungry for pomps of drums and incense sticks. A sizable population breathes with the hope of being able to please god as means to salvation, whatever manna that is. I refuse to comply with this insanity. I refuse to recognize an illogical stream with justification no greater than age-long adherence by the multitude. I refuse the madness. I refuse my religion. I refuse all religions.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My First Journal Paper: TVCG

I received confirmation yesterday that our Display Wall paper titled "Garuda: A Scalable, Geometry-Managed Display Wall using Commodity PCs" has been accepted to IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG). (Co-authors: Nirnimesh, Pawan Harish, Dr P J Narayanan). The paper underwent a series of correspondences, as is normal for a journal, before it was finally accepted. Thanks to Pawan for carrying out the numerous iterations after I left IIIT. The paper will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal.

I tend to believe that this is the first TVCG submission from India, as far as I know of (Jagmohan confirms me this, and I know he can be counted on his meta-researching abilities).

So, yay!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Macworld 2007

I attended Macworld 2007 held at the Moscone Center, San Francisco. I know people who lined up all night to catch Steve Jobs speak in flesh. And what a scene he showed.

I used to like Apple; I'm a fan now. Apple demoed the Apple TV and some exciting new features from Leapord, the next version of Mac OS X. But the most exciting thing was iPhone, and it literally had the audience sitting on the edge of their chairs, leaning forward.

A music player, a phone and a kinda computer -- all in one. If all the promised things comeout as wonderfully on the ground
as it looked in the demo, iPhone will be a must-have thing. And if
Apple's track record is anything to go by, it most-probably would. The multi-touch screen is exciting -- not a new concept -- but I'm sure it'll work like a charm, the ipod way. Who can imagine a phone with just one physical button? And a touch screen without the stupidity of a stylus. And 802.11 n wifi, 2 MP cam and Bluetooth 2.0.

So excited.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

From USA

I'm on my first trip to the US. I reached Mountain View, San Francisco on 4th Jan and have kept my eyes open since then. There are a lot of new things to see, and I'm just getting started.

The Journey

There's a finite limit to the number of times a plane journey is exciting before it gets monotonous and dull. How many hours can one spend looking out of the window to see the white clouds below and sky-blue sky above, and nothing else! Things get uneasy when the flight is long. Mine was about 23 hours on Singapore Airlines. Tired of watching movies and sleeping, I spent some time teaching myself the art of classifying chinki airhostesses into more than one class.

There sure was one thing funny about the flight, though. I woke up the morning of 4th Jan two times -- once in Singapore and again in San Francisco. The journey began at 0030 hrs and ended at 1100 hrs local time. Essentially, therefore my 4th Jan was 37.5 hours long. I was forced to compare this to time dilation, a phenomenon which occurs when you (or someone else for that matter) travels at speeds comparable to that of light. No, they're not the same. Contact Albert Einstein for details. I'm sure that the return journey will be even more fun, when time will shrink!

The place

You must have already heard the rhetoric of the place being neat and clean, so I'll not repeat the illustration. From where I stay, I can see lots of trees and the day is good today coz there's sunlight. It's cold out there nevertheless. Swanky cars and SUVs flaunt the place. Driving a rented car is cheaper than keeping a chauffeur. People are costly.

As I said, I've only been 2 days here, and I am still exploring the place. First impression is freakishly awesome. I passed by Orkut yesterday; yes, the guy himself. Later, I saw Sergey and Eric Schmidt too.

The Asians

There are a lot of Indians. Chinese too (or are they Japanese? Taiwanese? argh!!). On a small stroll yesterday night, I could locate as many as 3 Indian restaurants (a couple of Chinese too). So, yes, all the fear about Asians taking over the world is kinda true. I had been reading the newspapers today and on an average almost every page has a news about India and/or China. Funny, they remember about the ongoing Kumbh festival back there in India. I'm sure I wouldn't have known about it had I been in India this time. Naked sadhus dancing around? Not that interesting, I'd say. Newspapers have a lot of word about the "Incredible India" campaign. This explains the foreigners you find everytime you go on a trip in India these days.