Monday, December 29, 2008

Australia trip 2008

It was  a trip that I, Richa and my parents had been planning for quite some time. We all wanted to go there to attend my sister Apeksha's convocation ceremony. Unfortunately, Richa had to drop out because she could not get any leave. She had just joined a new company.

One thing I will admit here is that Richa was quite magnanimous in allowing me to go to Australia, knowing fully well that she will be all alone in India and will miss all the fun. I kept telling her that I will have a half-full/half-empty feeling there all the time, but she kept telling me to enjoy as much as possible in her absence. Richa, tussi great ho :-)

We took a Singapore Airlines flight to Melbourne from Bangalore. The flight was good, except that my mom and dad felt the lack of leg-space quite bothersome. At Melbourne airport, the customs clearance took a long time because Australia is quite strict about quarantine, and we Indians like to take our spices everywhere we go. 

I was quite impressed with Melbourne city. Lots of cyclists, very impressive train network, lots of trams, lots of buses and not too many people. There is a certain charm about trams. I don't quite know what it is. The fact that one ticket works for bus, tram and train makes it all the more convenient. We enjoyed the trip to Yarra river, Melbourne Sky Deck, the Salaam-Namaste bridge, and the trip to the Queen Victoria Market. We also went on the Great-Ocean-Drive to see the 12 Apostles, basically 12 pillars carved out by the Antarctic ocean from the rocky cliffs on the shore. Also took a helicopter ride around the 12 Apostles.

From Melbourne, we all went to Goldcoast - specifically - the Surfer's Paradise. Lots of girls in very skimpy clothes, the beach, the sun, the surf, the wind - this place is special. Add to it a lot of roadside eateries dishing out an international cuisine and you have really come to paradise. I specifically enjoyed the omelettes at the Mediterranean cafes - full of spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives. Yummy. You have one, and you don't feel like eating anything till evening. The trip to SeaWorld was special - the dolphins being the star-attraction.

From Goldcoast, we flew to Sydney. Sydney is a bustling city, much more crowded than Melbourne. The ferry rides from Circular Quay (key) to Darling Harbour, and on the the Paramatta river were wonderful. I always thought that the Opera House was white in colour, but it turned out to be off-white in colour. Although we could not see much of Blue Mountains due the mist, the trip down to the rain forest in a Gondola and trip back up in a reversing train were pretty exciting. Incidentally, the train climb is one of the steepest train climbs in the world, if not the steepest. 

I enjoyed myself quite a lot in Australia, although I did miss Richa quite a lot. I must take her there sometime ...

Well - you all can see the snaps here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Give me time :-)

"You don't give me time..." is the constant crib that Richa has against me, and probably she is right. In my routine life, I am so caught up with the mundane daily chores - office, traveling, gym, TV news, sports etc that I hardly get to spend enough time with Richa.

A bit of a digression here - I was watching a show on TV quite some time back. AB was being interviewed by Semi-Girebal on her famous non-sense show. She asked him a simple question - "What is the importance of your wife in your life" - and he replied - "She has given me two wonderful children".

I was a bachelor then, did not even have a girl in my life, but I immediately retorted - "What non-sense? What about the time you spent with her? Does that have no bearing on your life?

Now that I am married, and now that I am in Sydney, I kind of realize that I am so caught up in the labyrinth of daily life that I probably don't spend enough time with Richa. Not that I don't want to but by the end of the day, there is hardly any time left.

I just hope that I can find ways to take some time out from my daily life, and create some memorable moments for us. One day, if-and-when someone asks me the same question, I hope I will not come up with that stupid reply.

Waiting to be back home

Right now, I am sitting in Gloria Jean's Coffee shop on Liverpool St in Sydney. Liverpool St is very much the heart of Sydney city, very close to the Town Hall Station. The time right now is 10:55 am on a beautiful Boxing Day, and today is my last day in Australia as I have a flight at 6:50 pm.

Since morning, I have been wondering how am I going to spend the rest of my time here. My family has gone back to Melbourne. The souvenir shopping is over. What next? So I found an internet cafe in Gloria Jean's Coffee shop and killing my time over here. And believe me, time killing is not over yet. I have to kill 24 hours at the Singapore Airport, as I have a connecting flight only the next evening. I might as well go out into Singapore and do some sight-seeing and take some Patel-shots :-)

On every trip, which happens to be a long trip for me, I have this great urge to be back home. When I was staying with my parents, all my trips were with them, so I don't know what it is to return back to them. When I was living alone, it used to be just-another-flight back home, and I used to be cocksure that I will have no interesting company on way back. It was always so, and it still is that way :-(

Things have changed a lot since I have been married. There is this strong urge to be back home with Richa, and the closer you get to home, the stronger the urge. The last journey from Bangalore airport to home will be the toughest of the lot. Fortunately, Richa will be there at the airport to pick me up, but let me tell you, its not the wisest thing to do - traveling 50 kms one way to pick me up at 10/11 pm when I can very well take a shuttle back home. Crazy it is, but I still like the idea of Richa coming at the airport - I get to meet here 2 hrs early.

Will blog about my Australia trip in detail later, with snaps and all. For the time being, let me just sign of with -

"Love you Richa"

Monday, December 1, 2008

The shallowness is abyssmal

Last night, one of the politicians went to meet the family of one of the martyr's. The family, politely at first, and firmly later, refused to meet the politician. After all, it is the family's prerogative whom to meet and whom not to meet. I don't find anything wrong in it.

However, there is something very seriously wrong with our political class. Imagine I go to a person's place to offer my condolences. However, instead of going with humility and sincerity, I go there with a pomp to show off or go there because everybody else has been there. I also take sniffer dogs with me, just to be ultra-sure that there are no bombs at that place. How would that person feel?

The next day, our TRP-hungry media, questioned the family and the politician. When they should have left the family alone, they went to needle the family.

Here comes the worst - our eminent politician says - "Not a dog would have visited that house had his son not been a martyr."

Where is humility? Where is humanity? Do you understand that someone has died? Do you understand that someone has lost his son? Do you feel his pain? Do you know what is the value of life?

How can you? After all, you are Mr. Politician.

Where is the government?

I was reading the latest post by Arun Shourie. You can read it here. As you read this article, you will notice in the 6th para that there is a link with the name Government. I accidentally clicked on the link and found this -

error 404 - not found

I do not know whether this is by design or by accident. Whatever it is, it sums up the whole situation. Where is the government?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why is life equated with money?

Everytime an accident happens which is due to failure of the government machinery, politicians come out and dole out a few lakhs as compensation. For the poor and the needy, this compensation is necessary because they could have lost the sole bread-earner in the family. The generosity is only a facade behind which is the opportunity to swizzle a lot of money. I some times feel the politicians eagerly wait for calamities to happen, do not take steps to prevent preventable-calamities such as floods, and then make a living out of other people's misery. Bihar floods of 2008 was certainly a preventable calamity, but nothing was done to prevent it. The administration slept on it, and millions in Bihar died. How many of them received compensation - well there is no account of that, and probably there never will be.

Another thing that I hate is that every time a soldier, an honest policeman dies on duty, these politicians dole out a few lakhs as compensation. Sadly, they do not understand the value of life, the meaning of responsibility, the meaning of duty. When Hemant Karkare died on duty, he was not doing it for money. When Maj. Sandeep or Hawaldar Gajender Singh died on duty, they were not doing it for money. They went down doing their duty, and this feeling comes from a sense of accountability that you have towards your job and responsibility that you have towards your peers and the men you lead. 

No amount of money can encourage you to give up your life. Sadly, our politicians do not understand it at all and indulge in trivialising the contribution of soldiers by doling out money as compensation.

As crass as it gets

Now that the siege of Mumbai is finally over, politicians have started coming out and started doing what they do best - talk and only talk. Barring a few politicians, who in fact are not politicians but statesmen, I consider their comments nothing short of crassitude. I have developed some kind of immunity for this crassitude because day-in and day-out, we are bombarded with their crass statements.

The recent statement, made by DCM of Maharashtra, was the worst of the lot. What angers me most is the fact that he made light of the whole incident saying - "Itne bade sheher mein 1-2 incidents to ho hi jaate hain." How on earth can you say something so insensitive, so stupid? 

What did the CM do - take RGV to the Taj. I am not suggesting that RGV wants to make a movie out of it. However, he had no business being there. Is he part of the security establishment, is he part of the political establishment, is he an employee of Taj? No. Then what business did he have being at the Taj? What was his contribution to the resurrection of the Taj? Zero.

These people do not value life, especially others', I guess because their own relative has never been a victim of terrorism or any such acts. These politicians have no iota of responsibility, accountability, morality and humanity. I would say, we are the ultimate idiots, who have elected these super-idiots.

The people of Mumbai have been coming out with placards and holding a peace march. One of the placards sums up all my sentiments -

Mr. Terrorist: I am alive, what more can you do.
Mr. Politician: I am alive, despite you.
I am a Mumbaikar.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hamare liye kuch mushkil nahi hai

"Hamare liye kuch mushkil nahi hai" - the first statement made by an NSG commando returning after a successful operation - Operation Cyclone - at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. He said it such a simplicity and a sweet smile on his face, which is what makes it so encouraging and charming. Imagine what a billion people could achieve if all of us had the same spirit.

I was watching the action live on various news channels, and I could see the crowd clapping with joy when the operation at Nariman House ended. They were jostling, although not literally, to shake hands with the NSG commandos. They did not care whether the commandos were "Maraathi Maanoos" or came from other end of the country. They did not care about the religion of the commandos. They were there to salute the spirit, courage, and dedication shown by the commandos. This is the real India, this is the real spirit of people of India.

Where were the eminent politicians of Mumbai, who till some days back were busy breaking taxis? Where were the politicians who routinely attended bollywood functions? Where were the politicians who talk about Mumbai as if it is their own private property? Where were all these people. None of them had the courage to come out in open. In a way, it was good that these people did not come out because not only do they lack competence, but they also would have required their own share of security and created a ruckus out there.

Now the siege of Mumbai is finally over, but I am sure it is not the end of what we have seen. Our intelligence and security infrastructure is in shambles, and cannot be corrected overnight. I do not see any change in the foreseeable future because change requires tough measures, and our politicians are not the tough guys we need at this point in time. 

26th Nov, 2008 - Bombay Attacked

All the news channels around the world are carrying this piece of news. I won't elaborate on it too much. However, I am compelled to write a few things that I very strongly feel about. 

For quite some time, we have had a very weak leadership, which has set the tempo of India's response. Our response is neither prompt nor appropriate. The siege at Charar-e-sharief and Hazratbal shrines has, in a way, set a wrong precedent and it is solely the fault of our political leadership. The defence forces are not to be blamed for these debacles.

Since then, we have had a series of terrorist attacks, bomb blasts in cities and in temples. So many people have died in these attacks, but we haven't learnt our lesson at all.

What I fail to understand is after each such incident, we pin the blame on Pakistan and say - "ISI is involved in this incident." Is it not a given by now that ISI is behind every such incident? Why don't we take this for granted, and prepare ourselves to counter them? We give Pakistan a list of wanted terrorists and what do we expect from them - to hand over these terrorists to us on a platter? I find it all too silly.

Secondly, our political class is great at using diversionary tactics. When confronted with the question of handling terrorism, they divert public attention on whether it is Hindu or Muslim terrorism, whether to call it that way or not. For God's sake, please understand that no matter what kind of terrorism it is, people in India, our very own people are getting killed. Instead of bothering about adjectives and labels, we must focus on the core issue - terrorism.

Thirdly, the kind of idiotic questions that are raised on TV channels is unbearable. Yesterday, I was listening to Times Now and NDTV, and both were as idiotic as AajTak - the benchmark index of idiocy.

Times Now: asked foreign anti-terror experts why other countries do not support us diplomatically in anti-terror related activities. 

What kind of support we are looking for? We have to learn to solve our problems on our own. Why should any other country bear the brunt of our problems? It is silly to ask other countries to support us. We have to put an end to this menace.

NDTV: was wanting some positive comments from some film personalities about our political class uniting against terror. The example they cited was our PM and leader of opposition travelled in the same plane.

That is the least they can do. For 1 day in 5 yrs they did what was expected of them.

On a final note, a big salute and thanks to all the soldiers who fought and took care of the situation. They along with the hotel staff at Taj and Oberoi, who rescued people are the real heroes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why values are important

Yesterday, I was reading an interesting article about the meltdown of Wall Street. You can read it here. This article gives you an insider's view of what was happening in the Wall Street, and how an unsuspecting common man, was being taken for a ride.  

The business honchos at the Wall Street, who are the engineers of this financial crisis, do not have any moral standards. They knew exactly what they were doing, carving out AAA securities from shit. Even the rating agencies, that are supposed to be independent in their analysis, were accomplices. And now, these companies, the Citibanks, the Goldmans, and the lot are asking for a bailout from the government. Looks like a grand plan of robbing the taxpayer.

This is where values are important. I was listening to an all-hands call, and one of our VPs said that creating profit and more and more profit should NOT be the sole motto of a company. The motto should be to make a company a great place to work, a model company, a company loved by the community where it exists. Had this thought even crossed the minds of the engineers of financial crisis, things probably could have been different.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

After a long hiatus

After a long hiatus, I am back to blogging. A lot has happened in the mean time - 
  • Bomb blasts in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, and now in Assam. The government seems to be in a total mess and does not know how to tackle terror.
  • Lehman Brothers and quite a few companies have vanished from the radar screen, effectively forcing a lot of technology companies to go into a cost-cutting mode.
  • A very interesting test series between India and Australia is in progress. The Mohali test match was a great spectacle, and India out-bowled Australia in that match. Brett Lee's wicket (bowled Zaheer Khan) reminded me of Rahul Dravid being bowled by a similar delivery by Wasim Akram in the Chennai test. It was a great exhibition of reverse swing.
Let us dig a bit more into the cost-cutting measures in place, and how people have responded to these measures. Many of the cost-cutting measures in place in my company have been suggested by the employees. Here are some of them -
  • No work or work-only-from-home on weekends. This will enable the lab to be shut down. This effectively means that we don't require air-conditioning in the labs for 2-1/2 days. A lot of saving indeed.
  • Cut the frills from the beer-bash. Some may argue that beer-bash itself should be stopped, but in our company, beer-bash is more about bash than beer. By removing the chicken-tikkas, and chats from the beer-bash, the frills are gone. Beer-bash is not the same anymore.
  • Certain restrictions on food items such as biscuits, fruit juices, certain types of tea etc.
Among all measures, restrictions on food items have created the most flutter in the company. There was a big discussion regarding biscuits, coffee and tea. Some people were of the opinion that there should have been a poll about which biscuits to keep and which ones to remove. The person I guess is too influenced with "America Votes". One guy was upset that Twining's Green Tea was removed from the pantry. One guy probably did not enjoy the coffee from the vending machine, so he wanted somebody to make fresh coffee and serve coffee in the office. One guy was of the opinion that coffee should be served in flasks with a depressor.

I feel some times, no matter how much people earn, they still remain nothing but cribbers and are always game for free food. In these difficult times, I feel one should not crib about such petty things. Take for example the issue of green tea. For God's sake, there is Twining's Lemon Tea in the pantry. Drink that. The coffee is still of 4 types - Cappuccino, South Indian Light, South Indian Strong, and Espresso - and it is freshly crushed and brewed. What could be fresher than that? There are two types of biscuits - Britannia Cheese Crackers and Digestive. 

What more do people want? It is time to increase your productivity, which in my opinion, is the best way to save and make money for the company.  Wasting 6-hrs a day fighting over such petty matters is certainly not the way to go.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Terrified by weekends

It was Friday again. Beginning of a new weekend. For me, in an ideal situation, weekend is the time to relax at home, watch some EPL action, some TV, some ELR (Everybody Loves Raymond), and sleep for long hours.

I would like to confess something here - each weekend, I am a bit terrified: terrified because I have to think of something to do, possibly new or at the very least not mundane, so that Richa doesn't get bored. Some times, I wonder, why do only men have to come up with these entertainment options? Why do only men have to think of places to visit? Why can't women come up with something that both the sexes can enjoy? Wait, I am not talking about ---, but an activity of some other sort that would mean "quality time spent with each other". By the way, watching movies together at home, watching TV etc does not qualify as "quality time" :-). A piece of gyaan that all married men should get used to asap :-)

I must admit I was fortunate at least this Friday because Sidharth had already planned on going to a movie "मुंबई मेरी जान". Richa suggested that we watch this one and I, admittedly reluctantly, tagged along.

Fortunately, the movie was superb. The cast, I would say, is better known for their acting rather than for their parents. Each actor, apart from Irfan Khan, was beautifully used by the director. Although the movie is based on Mumbai train blasts, it is not a cliche as it does not focus on police hunt for the terrorists. It focuses on the psyche of the people, the fear factor that sets in, the mistrust that develops among communities, and how the city, slowly but surely, comes out of the tragedy. It is truly a tribute to the spirit of Mumbai. And the song, "ऐ दिल है मुश्किल जीना यहाँ" is truly amazing.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bombay-Pune Trip 2008

Coming back to reality after a tour of fairy land isn't a wonderful experience. I had been to Bombay and Pune for the entire week, and the trip was remarkably good. The only problem is that such trips do end, and one has to get back to work.

I did a lot of things during this trip, especially catch up with old pals from Symantec and Panta. I was quite surprised and happy to see that these people haven't changed at all. Their world has changed (married, kids etc.), the world around them has changed, but they haven't changed at all.

Another thing that happened to me is that I was set back by at least 2 months in a span of 7 days. All the effort that I put in the gym for the last 2 months has been nullified by 7 days of gorging, forced on to me by an eager-to-feed mother-in-law. At times, I felt the urge to feed me was incessant and unnecessary. I am not one of those who is shy or who needs an invitation to eat. If I like something, I will definitely enjoy it, but I do enjoy it in small quantities. However, an Indian mind has still not become comfortable with the idea that good food can be enjoyed in small quantities. As they say - "तुम्हारा पेट तो भर जाता है पर खिलाने वाले की नीयत नही भरती".

Apart from the food, too much alcohol was consumed during the last week. At my uncle's place in Bombay, I indulged in liqueur tasting. I had shots of Cointreau, Kahlua, Creme-de-Menthe, Irish Creme and something else that I don't remember. Cointreau was the best of the lot. This was apart from 2 glasses of red-wine that I had during dinner at the Turf Club. I also had a brownish-red Californian wine at my brother's place and some red wine at Sheesha.

The highlight of the trip was the trip to Tamhini Ghat. Tamhini Ghat, around 60 kms from Pune, marks the beginning of picturesque Konkan. The whole landscape has a fresh green color during the rains. Somehow, the clouds get trapped in the hills and it rains almost continuously in the Ghat. This place is full of small waterfalls in the rains. Getting wet in a waterfall is one of the most enjoyable experiences. I like to have the sheer force of water on my back. For nearly 40 mins, I was in the water, behaving like a 10 year old kid :-), shouting and throwing water on others.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ram Setu

रामसेतू is quite hot these days. The bridge, approx 30 miles long, connects रामेश्वरम in India to मन्नार in Lanka. This bridge is visible in satellite images, and is made of limestone. The government of India has been shifting its stance on the issue of रामसेतू everyday. Too much of controversy has been created where there exists none. In my humble opinion, there are only two options here -
  1. Either believe that रामसेतू existed, and continues to exist, and find some alternate route for the ships.
  2. Or do not believe it at all, destroy it, and let the ships pass.

However, saying that Lord Rama himself destroyed the रामसेतू is asking for trouble.

I read an interesting article in TOI today. River तुंगभद्रा is currently flooded. Apparently, some monkeys had crossed the river over to the other side. I don't know how they did it, but they did cross over. Later, when the river started rising, they climbed tall trees to avoid drowning in the river. The villages saw the predicament of the monkeys, and alerted the forest authorities. As usual, forest authorities did not take any trouble, and paid no heed to the villagers' request to save the monkeys. The villagers took upon themselves the task of saving the monkeys. They built a bridge of barrels across the river. They then crossed over to the other bank in a paddle boat to woo the monkeys to cross the river. How do you woo the monkeys? With bananas of course. One person climbed the tree, and coaxed the monkey leader to cross the bridge. The rest of the gang followed the leader to the safety of the other bank.

Now, this looks like a story from पंचतंत्र, but it is indeed true. As true as reported by TOI.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

An interesting junk mail

Today, I got an interesting junk mail on my office email address. Interestingly, this mail originated from within my office because the sender knows quite a bit about the habits of the employees and the name of the VP. Without going into details, here is the email -


Hello all,
It has been brought to my attention, by a certain soothsayer, that developer productivity, on a given day, is inversely proportional to the number of postings to dl-nb-random.
I have decided to monitor and use this, from this day forward, as a metric to measure what our employees are up to.
Weak Rum
President of Vice

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hardy's - Australian for Wine

Last night's dinner was special. We all were having Pomphret (fried and Goan style) for dinner. I had picked up a bottle of Hardy's Cabernet Merlot (a red wine) from a supermarket.

"Red wine with fish? White wine goes with fish." is what many people will say on reading this article. Let me tell you a small story before I go any further. On a wine tasting tour in Napa Valley, California, I was asking some very obvious questions to the lady who was conducting the tour. She was telling me that she could feel "peach and cherry" flavours in the wine. Since I had read their brochure some time back, I knew she was telling me exactly what was written in the brochure. This prompted me to ask her - "Where do all these flavours come from? Do you add these flavours to the wine?". She said "No. These flavours come from the soil, but we dont add anything to the soil". I instantly knew that she was spinning-a-yarn. To me, all this looks marketting gimmick.

"Make a simple thing a bit complicated, and you will arouse interest."

The point of the digression was that if you like a particular wine, just grab a bottle and enjoy it, and avoid all the talk-about-the-wine.

Coming back to Hardy's. I had a glass full with fish, yes fish, and my head started swirling. Curious to find out how others felt - I said - "Hardy's is ... (searching for the right word) ... dangerous". Instantly, others agreed, except Richa, who had consumed very little wine. I felt extremely fizzy from inside. Like shaken soda in a can. Just can't wait to get out. A bit too happy. This feeling is superb. Worth experiencing.

Come home sometime and I will get one more bottle of "Hardy's - Australian for Wine".

Friday, July 18, 2008

Commentary on DD-Sports

It was Saturday again, and as usual I got up early in the morning. Usually on weekdays, I get up around 9am, and on weekends, I get up around 7am. I find that quite unbelievable and strange.

I was surfing the channels, when I noticed that DD-sports was telecasting the final of Junior Asia Cup (hockey), the match India won against Korea two days back. I hadn't seen the match live, so I decided to watch it.

One thing I have noticed is that India always does well in the junior hockey event, but fares poorly in the senior category. I guess the other teams graduate very rapidly and we don't when it comes to playing at the higher level.

The soul of world hockey has changed, ever since "astro-turf" was introduced. Hockey is no longer "dribble past the opponent" game. It has become more of positional play, a quick one-touch game. Very much like football. If you ever see the Dutch playing hockey, you will understand what I mean. We continue to play the same old hockey which was popular when hockey was played on grass. Another major issue with Indian hockey is that we don't have a penalty corner specialist. Diwakar Ram is a budding talent, but he is still not in the class of Bram Lomans of Holland or Sohail Abbas of Pakistan.

The highlight of the programme was the pathetic English commentary on DD-sports. The whole commentary was made up of max. 4 words per sentence. The funny part was one commentator sounded drunk, and was interrupting his partner. Here are some excerpts -

  • Koreans moving fastly
  • Here come the Korea
  • The defence of the Korea
  • Yes Yes. Indians takes the move. On the attack.
  • Right, right. You are right. Chance missed.

Solar power plant in Nevada

Solargenix Energy,, has commissioned a solar power plant in Mujave desert in Nevada, US. I came to know about this through Nat Geo when I was watching MegaStructures. The plant is able to generate some 22MW of electricity and is feeding it into the Nevada grid.

The solar power plant works this way. Very simply, sunlight is reflected using concave mirrors onto a special tube. The concave mirrors and the special glass tube have been specially made by Schott, AG. The concave mirrors focus sunlight onto this special tube. The glass tube is special because it is made from ultra-pure sand. This sand is free from metallic impurities. This helps it in letting through a lot more light w/o reflecting any of it. The glass tube has a metal tube inside and the air between the glass tube and the metal tube has been removed, creating a vacuum. In short, its a thermos. Temperatures inside this thermos can be as high as 700C. A synthetic oil is heated due to sunlight. The oil heats water to produce superheated steam, which drives an alternator.

The power plant is spread across 40acres of land. The cost of building this plant was high - something around 250M$. Doesn't sound much, but so much money for 22MW of power is high. However, the beauty is - fuel is free. All your investment is one time investment. The incremental costs are only maintenance costs.

The sceptics will argue that it is way to costly to be commercialized. I disagree. We have to start harnessing solar energy, wind energy etc today. The fuel is free. We don't have to invade other countries to get fuel :-).

Something like this should be done in Rajasthan's Thar desert. It will probably go a long way in solving India's energy crisis.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sports and Performance Enhancing Drugs

Mohd. Asif is yet again at the center of a drug controversy. Some days back, he was detained at the Dubai airport for possession of cocaine, which he said was given to him by some hakeem. Now, he has tested positive for an anabolic steroid, which will, in almost all certainty, be Nandrolone. Some years back, he and Shoaib Akhtar, his good bat-wielding friend, had tested positive for Nandrolone. PCB had banned them, and in its inimitable style, had exonerated the duo of all offences. Now, PCB has banned Asif for life. I guess, PCB is helpless now, and cannot help a person like Asif who gets caught thrice.

Why do athletes take to drugs? Due to the pressure to win. The physique of an athlete, his endurance, and injury management have become so important today, that these athletes are forced to look for short-cuts. Anabolic steroids (Nandrolone being one example) provide them this short cut. They help in building muscle and bone mass by stimulating the body to create more protein. These steroids help athletes to train harder and longer.

But as you have definitely heard - "no gain without pain". One has to earn the muscle the hard way. Taking steroids to build muscles is not correct, not only because it is banned and unethical, but also because it puts you at risk. All these steroids have serious ill effects.

At times, even in gyms, the trainers offer your some good advice - "You should take protein supplements in the form of shakes etc." These protein supplements have a photo of a muscle-man on them. You know what I am talking about. My dad (a doc himself) told me a few days back that these protein supplements create electrolyte imbalance and put your kidneys under a lot of duress.

Another example is "lose 5 kgs of weight in 5 days w/o any exercise". Lot of TV commercials are promoting various gadgets that help you lose weight without exercise. Frankly, all that is lost is water. I have been running 2-3 kms per day, lifting a lot of weights, and eating normally, and I have lost just 1kg in 15 days. Still, I am happy with my progress, because I am not losing water. I am burning fat.

People should understand - "no gain without pain".

Sunday, July 13, 2008

कभी ख़ुद पे कभी हालात पे रोना आया

It was the final of yet another reality show "जो जीता वोही सुपर स्टार". Mandira Bedi was back in the spot light. It reminded me of the cricket world cup in South Africa.

When I started watching the show, it was time for the duo of Shahid Kapur and Vidya Balan to promote their upcoming film "Kismet Konnection". If not anything, the name has an Ekta Kapur "konnection". As usual, they mentioned that the film is different, and the moment they read the script, they fell in love with the script, and they had a great time shooting the film, and they shared a great chemistry with each other. So so cliche.

One interesting question w.r.t this camaraderie between realtiy shows and film promoters is whether any money exchange is involved? Or is it simply - we increase your TRP and in return we will promote our film through your show? This is the most interesting aspect of this association.

All this was followed by some stupid challenges for the contestants, and the judges clapping for them, and those fake whistles from the crowd. Finally, it was time to announce the 2nd runner up. I did not count how many times Mandira repeated "2nd runner up" and its meaning, but it must have been atleast 20 times. In between, there were those expected surprise breaks "जो आपके दिल की धड़कने तेज़ कर देती हैं". Just before they were going to annouce the results, the contestants were asked their "दिल का हाल. क्या कह रहा है आपका दिल आपसे इस वक्त", and they were asked to sing a song that reflected what they felt at that moment.

Harshit sang "सुनने वालों कभी ऐसा भी होता है" from OSO. I dont know how he could feel that way, but it is his heart and his feelings. Rahul Vaidya sang - "कभी ख़ुद पे कभी हालात पे रोना आया" and sung it beautifully. I dont know how he could feel this way, but because this is one of my favourite songs, I give him the benefit of doubt.

Rahul Vaidya singing the old melody was the only highlight of the show. You will be wondering why do I watch this reality show if I have so many abuses to hurl at them? Only for some good hindi songs. This is the only reason why I am ready to absorb so much of stupidity.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Left pulls the plug

Last night, I was watching CNN-IBN and Rajdeep Sardesai was questioning politicians from various political parties. The agenda of discussion was "Left had pulled the plug on the government".

The Left was saying why the PM had to issue an important statement on the nuclear deal when he was not in India. The Congress spokesman replied that when the statement was issued, the PM was in air and in Indian airspace, so technically he was in India.

The fight then moved to why the PM had to make the statement in the first place. What was the big hurry? to which Congress spokesman replied that the left had demanded that PM give his final position by 7th July.

Sometime later, Rajdeep Sardesai asked a very simple question to the Left. "By voting against the government, are you not siding with the BJP, the party you are so fundamentally against and the very reason why you sided with the Congress?" to which the Left gave some convoluted answer. Now, if I understand correctly, if you are not with the AYEs, then you are with NAYs unless you abstain from voting.

Politics is one area where boolean logic can never be applied. As one prominent politician has said - "In politics, there are no permanent friends and no permanent foes". I guess, when confronted with simple questions with very clear answers, politicians tend to use diversionary tactics and start a debate on the most frivolous matter without addressing the core of the question. They have this unique ability to call an Apple and Orange and justify it in one statement and deny it another.

Something I find very interesting, amusing and worth inculcating.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Income Tax Returns and Refund

Two very interesting things happened today - both are excellent examples of how things should not be.

I got my first income tax refund today. I was glad that ultimately I got a refund. I was all very excited to open the envelope, as I was hoping that I will find a cheque inside. Although I manage my taxes well and generally dont exceed the actual tax, some time way back in 2005-06, I had paid some 1K extra tax. This refund was for the same year. My excitement was short lived as the cheque was already invalid. It was more than 6 months old.

I was preparing all the paper-work for this years IT-returns when I noticed that my wife was given only 7K of deduction instead of 70K in the ELSS segment. I was shocked. I asked my wife to raise the issue with her finance dept. As expected, the reply was -

"अम्ह. एक ज़ीरो ही तो मिस किया है. अगले रीफन्ड मे ले लेना."

Both are excellent examples of carelessness.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sholay Tune

One of my colleagues has installed a new ring tone - the Sholay tune. The tune which Jay used to play on his mouth organ (harmonica). I love that tune. I have to get it from my colleague. Unfortunately, my mobile does not have an mp3 player. I need to install one. I dont have any data cable or any of the accessories, so not sure how I will be able to install an mp3 player on my mobile.

During our regular team meeting, my colleagues phone went off. In the midst of absolute silence, the Sholay tune was sounding great. My colleague was struggling to get his phone out of his tight jeans pocket. I enjoyed the Sholay tune.

One of our other colleagues quipped - "The National Anthem - huh".

What a pity. I was surprised to see that this fellow could not even recognize the national anthem. The anthem that one sings in his school day in and day out. The Sholay tune is markedly distinct from our National Anthem. Its impossible to make a mistake.

The fellow made it and then tried to cover up by saying - "Some other country's probably".

Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 1 - 7 day challenge

I got up quite late, 9:30 am, as I was watching Euro 2008 finals late on Sunday night. Usually, Richa keeps my tea ready and I just have to microwave it. Today, I did not have the luxury of ready made tea. I had to make it myself.

I then had some cereal, got ready, and before leaving, folded up the damn quilt and made my bed. It was a hectic day in the office. I also had my share of the traffic when I went to HDFC in the afternoon to collect some damn certificate. In the evening, I worked out in the office gym - a bit more than usual. I came back home pretty tired and very hungry. I thought Richa would have forgotten all about the challenge. I was probably day dreaming.

I was greeted with a sarcastic smile - a smile that said - "Dear, I haven't forgotten anything about the challenge. It is time for some supper". Fortunately for me, there was plenty of "Pav Bhaaji" from last night. I just had to heat it and set it on the table. I was feeling a bit relieved.

Before dinner, I had to place all the washed utensils in their proper locations, and believe me, I had no clue which one went where. I have seen Richa do it in less than 2 minutes. I had to open each and every drawer quite a few times. Took me some 15 minutes to finish it. During dinner, Richa continuously kept teasing me - "How has your day been so far?". Each time, the smile got a bit more sarcastic and annoying.

After finishing the last chore of the day - cleaning the table and kitchen - without a doubt the most annoying one, I was back on my bed, relaxing and watching TV. I was hoping to catch some Federer - Hewitt match, but the remote was in Richa's hands.

I should have seen it coming!

7 day challenge

On a quiet Sunday morning, I was relaxing in my bed and watching sports on TV. Richa had gone out to shop with our common friend. Usually, I am not amused at the thought of Richa going out for shopping, but this time, Richa had gone to shop for our common friend.

She had asked me to get the weekly grocery. I did not bother too much about the grocery till it was time for her to be back home. Hurriedly, I went to the store and got what she had asked for. In my hurry, I forgot to make my bed. The bed sheet had come off and the quilt was lying on the floor - unfolded. My clothes were strewn on the bed. It was indeed a real mess. I had planned on cleaning up the mess once I came back from the store.

When I got back home, Richa was already there. Quite angry at the sight of the mess that I had created. I got to hear a lot about how she keeps the house clean and how I mess it up, how she spends hours cooking and cleaning in spite of her hectic schedule, and how I do not realize my responsibilities etc etc etc. Then she dared me to exchange roles with her for just 7 days. By now, I too was a bit agitated hearing all my flaws and gladly accepted the challenge.

I had no idea what I was getting into then, but it seems accepting the challenge was very very stupid of me. Now that I have accepted the challenge, I will not chicken out of it. That is for sure.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oranje flatter to deceive

Euro 2008 has produced some fantastic football, the Dutch being the best of the lot. The Dutch along with Italy, France, and Romania formed the "The Group of Death". The Dutch played fantastic, fast, attacking football to beat Italy and France in the league matches, and won all their encounters with ease. In the process, they scored a total of 9 goals and only 1 goal was scored against them.

In the quarter final against Russia, who had been erratic till then, the Dutch, yet again showed that when it comes to the crunch situations, they choke. They looked like a school side in front of Russia, who thanks to Andriy Arshavin, played some very attacking football. The Dutch showed no fighting spirit, no will to win. They were lucky that the scoreline was just 3-1. Russians could have easily scored more if not for the Dutch wall Edwin Van der Saar.

When I look at Germany, they come across as a side that always bounces back. You cannot relax against Germany till the final whistle is blown. They always fight till the last. Sure they may have a bad match or two, but they still fight till the last. They always have the stamina and the energy to fight.

Unless the Dutch inculcate the German will-power, they will never win any major competition. They will always flatter to deceive.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Drucker Gem

After a long time, I am able to lay my hands on a book worth reading. My company, NetApp, has a tie up with Safari Online Books. When I have little work or I am not so keen on working, I can just pick up a book and read it online. Fantastic.

Currently, I am reading a book on Peter Drucker. There are lots of gems in this book. I am quoting the one I liked a lot. Peter Drucker was talking about the importance of asking the right questions when one of his students asked him -

"How do you know the right questions to ask? Aren't your questions based on your knowledge in the industries in which you consult? How did you have the knowledge and expertise to do this when you were first starting out with no experience?"

to which Peter Drucker replied -

"I never ask these questions or approach these assignments based on my knowledge and experience in these industries. It is exactly the opposite. I do not use my knowledge and experience at all. I bring my ignorance to the situation. Ignorance is the most important component for helping others to solve any problem in any industry. Ignorance is not such a bad thing if one knows how to use it, and all managers must learn how to do this. You must frequently approach problems with your ignorance; not what you think you know from past experience, because not infrequently, what you think you know is wrong."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Help Ashutosh Mishra

One of my classmates and a very good friend, Ashutosh Mishra, is suffering from blood cancer. Please visit We (all his friends, colleagues, classmates) are trying to raise funds so that he can undergo Bone Marrow Transplant.

I would appreciate if you could give some ideas about how to go about this fund raising activity more effectively, any social forums or organizations who can help us in this endeavour.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Motoring - today and beyond

When the stock market crashed on 22nd Jan, I went into a shopping spree. For many people, a stock market crash is a black day in the history. A stock market crash when the fundamentals are strong also makes the stock cheaper, and hence presents an opportunity of getting good stocks quite cheap.

My friend advised me to buy some Tata Motors. Tata motors has been in the news for quite a lot of reasons. The Jaguar deal with Ford, and of-course the Nano. Much has been written about the Nano - how it will create a chaos on the streets, the pollution levels will rise etc etc.

The Nano, IMHO, will provide a big boost to the cab industry in IT-cities in India. The diesel Indi-cab comes for nothing less than 4.xL. In this amount, the cab-walas can probably buy 3 Nanos. The streets in Bangalore and Pune to some extent dont present an opportunity to achieve speeds greater than 60. With Nano on the streets, the congestion on the roads will increase further. Mileage should not be a concern because Nano boasts something around 20kmpl, slightly more than an Indi-cab.

What most people dont know is that Tata has invested in a company called MDI. Check out their website There are a couple of good news reports that one can read. Tata has bought the license to build and market the car in India. The car will be available in India in a couple of years probably, and will be priced around 3500$. The real issue will be the ease with which one can re-fuel the car.