an "a to z" of thoughts, conversations, remarks, observations,musings about

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

news from home

Now I know what I am missing here in America... the Indian Express reports on a small incident that happened in Gurgaon while i was away - read the full story here.

Dr. Amit Diwan, a radiologist at a Gurgaon hospital, was parking his car at his Sector 10-A house when a speeding Tata Safari, bearing a Faridabad number, scraped it, police and eyewitnesses said. As Diwan objected, the driver of the Tata Safari reversed it and hit him. “The car then tried to speed away, but my son caught hold of the fender and was dragged for over 150 metres. The vehicle also hit a rickshaw and injured two other persons,” said Amit's father BR Diwan. When one its tyres burst, the occupants abandoned the vehicle.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Peek of the day

courtesy - 9961 blog

batli more

been busy drinking...was my birthday..then diwali, the festival of lights and then just happened to stop by an irish pub at midnight on sunday, when better sense should have prevailed. Been playing catch up ever since. Suffice to say that I roamed the area from Boston or Bastun to Batlimore or Bawlmer during these three days, and my chariots were winged, rubbertyred, steelwheeled and laced. I ate pizza and drank beer, ate a full indian wedding meal and drank whiskey, met a new born baby and drank whiskey, slept on the floor of an apartment without any furniture whatsoever and drank whiskey, played tennis, drank beer in the airport and in the irish pub and still had enough time left over to sing devotional hymns and the latest chartbusting hindi songs.... one wonders where all that time comes from. All this in one weekend and there was lots of time left over. Even got through 400 pages of a book called 1491 which is awesome and I shall be reviewing here shortly, if I can digest it. Right now its gotten inside my head and I suddenly feel like an expert in pre-columbus history of the Americas, but lets see what happens once i finish reading it.

Found a nice description of Baltimore, where i just spent 3 idyllic months wallowing in americana. This was in, heres an excerpt -

To understand Baltimore, it's helpful to get a grip on its geography. Baltimore is one of those odd American cities that lies in no county; instead, it dangles in the water, surrounded by a ragged blob of land. It has been said that Baltimore County looks like a monkey wrench hanging from the Mason-Dixon Line, which makes Baltimore City the bolt -- one that has been tightened a hair too much. Incapable of expanding, the city has been losing population and political clout since the 1960s, when white residents began to flee for the suburbs. Fittingly, all quintessentially Baltimore stories have a "Wizard of Oz" quality: Characters dream of escaping to someplace new, only to yearn for home. Or, as we say in Bawlmer: Hooooooohme.

read the full article here, after watching the mandatory advert :)

Friday, October 20, 2006

8 years ago

For those despairing of India's form and not fancying their chances in the current tournament, remember 1998. Also for those who say Sachin never wins us the below, courtesy - Scott Heinrich - Foxsports

Staged as the Wills International Cup, every match of the tournament was played in Dhaka - a third-choice venue behind Disney World in Florida and Sharjah.

The knockout format meant that the four winners of the qualifying finals progressed to the semi-finals, with no second chance for the losers. Australia was drawn to play India on October 28, a match which saw Mohammad Azharuddin become the first player to feature in 300 one-day internationals.

Australia was coming off a big Test series win in Pakistan - just 48 hours previously it had played out a draw in Karachi - but fatigue was not really the problem. The problem was Sachin Tendulkar.

After winning the toss and quickly reducing India to 2-8, Australia's pace-heavy attack proved cannon fodder to Tendulkar's class on the low, slow pitch of the Bangabandhu National Stadium.

Opener Tendulkar scythed 13 boundaries and three sixes in a majestic 141, scored off 128 balls and ended only by a run-out. Michael Kasprowicz took three wickets but conceded 71 runs off nine overs, while South Australian Brad Young's eight wicketless overs leaked 64 runs. By innings' end, India had racked up a formidable score of 8-307.

Australia's run-chase started well enough, with the top five all getting decent starts and Mark Waugh clubbing 74 off 79 balls at the top of the order.

But it was to be Tendulkar's day, the little master removing Steve Waugh for 7 and running through the tail to return 4-38 as Australia were dismissed 45 runs short of victory.

happy birthday

to me :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

election time in USA

This was an unusual statistic that struck me when i was surfing through the election news. The neighbourhood is awash with color printed campaign boards and it does give a rather pretty and festive look to the area. I wondered how the american system compared to ours, with its ballot box stuffing, booth capturing, multliple voting, shots fired into the sky and countless other uniquely indian expressions of universal franchise. The below statistic should be troubling for all americans, because this is basically reflecting a sense of alienation and distrust of the system.

Notably, African American voters express much more skepticism their votes will be accurately counted than they did in the fall of 2004. Just 30% say they are very confident their votes will be accurately counted, down from 47% two years ago. The percentage of black voters who express little or no confidence in vote-counting procedures has approximately doubled ­ from 15% to 29%. More than three times as many blacks as whites now say they have little or no confidence their vote will be accurately tallied (29% vs. 8%).

An unrelated note- Andy Tanenbaum, who may be familiar to geeks and computer buffs as the guy who wrote all those textbooks, runs a site called which demystifies all the various trends and polls and makes simple graphical presentations on how the elections are going.

Monday, October 16, 2006

german prank - sponsored by adidas ?

The short and long of it is this... Two Germans created soccer balls filled with cement, labeled them "can you kick it?" and chained them to posts all over the city. Supposedly they caused a lot of physical harm because a ton of Germans tried kicking the balls... The german police didn't think it was funny, and probably had their terrorist unit on the case. They hunted down the two... based on serious "leads"... found their "workshop" where they made the cement balls.

august in october

Me friends swati and ammy been blessed with a baby boy this friday in boston. They are calling the baby agastya, as he is currently too feeble and powerless to protest. This is inspired by the novel english august by upamanyu chaterji.

Wonder if they call the kid ogu for short and if he grows up to embody some of the charecteristics of the original character. Ammy fell into the error which he had criticized in his blog, but I guess being a parent does that to you. I am anyway kinda thrilled as I look upon myself as some sort of godfather and look forward to initiating the kid into all sorts of bad habits :). Oh and for an explanation why this post has the links to roorkee and auroville...well its a long story.

quote of the day :)

"A person with a social conscience can run an enterprise with as much dedication and drive as a greedy person - he is just running it to achieve social goals not to fill his pockets," he said.

"And if you put the greedy person against the socially committed person in competition, the greedy guy will fall because he has to make more money to make a profit, where the other guy just has to cover costs."

So what was his ideal world?

"There will always be some poor because everyone has ups and downs, but everyone will be keen to help because poverty will be a novelty."

- Interview with Mohd. Yunus - Grameen bank.
courtesy - the guardian.

29 rules for real men

1: Under no circumstances may two men share an umbrella.

2: It is OK for a man to cry ONLY under the following circumstances:

(a) When a heroic dog dies to save its master.
(b) The moment Angelina Jolie starts unbuttoning her blouse.
(c) After wrecking your boss's car.
(d) One hour, 12 minutes, 37 seconds into "The Crying Game".
(e) When she is using her teeth.

3: Any Man who brings a camera to a bachelor party may be legally
killed and eaten by his buddies.

4: Unless he murdered someone in your family, you must bail a friend
out of jail within 12 hours.

5: If you've known a guy for more than 24 hours, his sister is off
limits forever unless you actually marry her.

6: Moaning about the brand of free beer in a buddy's fridge is
forbidden. However complain at will if the temperature is unsuitable.

7: No man shall ever be required to buy a birthday present for
another man. In fact, even remembering your buddy's birthday is
strictly optional. At that point, you must celebrate at a strip bar
of the birthday boy's choice.

8: On a road trip, the strongest bladder determines pit stops, not
the weakest.

9: When stumbling upon other guys watching a sporting event, you may
ask the score of the game in progress, but you may never ask who's

10: You may flatulate in front of a woman only after you have
brought her to climax. If you trap her head under the covers for the
purpose of flatulent entertainment, she's officially your girlfriend.

11: It is permissible to drink a fruity alcohol drink only when
you're sunning on a tropical beach... and it's delivered by a
topless model and only when it's free.

12: Only in situations of moral and/or physical peril are you
allowed to kick another guy in the nuts.

13: Unless you're in prison, never fight naked.

14: Friends don't let friends wear Speedos. Ever. Issue closed.

15: If a man's fly is down, that's his problem, you didn't see

16: Women who claim they "love to watch sports" must be treated as
spies until they demonstrate knowledge of the game and the ability
to drink as much as the other sports watchers.

17: A man in the company of a hot, suggestively dressed woman must
remain sober enough to fight.

18: Never hesitate to reach for the last beer or the last slice of
pizza, but not both, that's just greedy.

19: If you compliment a guy on his six-pack, you'd better be talking
about his choice of beer.

20: Never join your girlfriend or wife in discussing a friend of
yours, except if she's withholding sex pending your response.

21: Phrases that may NOT be uttered to another man while lifting
a) Yeah, Baby, Push it!
b) C'mon, give me one more! Harder!
c) Another set and we can hit the showers!

22: Never talk to a man in a bathroom unless you are on equal
footing: i.e., both urinating, both waiting in line, etc. For all
other situations, an almost imperceptible nod is all the
conversation you need.

23: Never allow a telephone conversation with a woman to go on
longer than you are able to have sex with her. Keep a stopwatch by
the phone. Hang up if necessary.

24: The morning after you and a girl who was formerly "just a
friend" have carnal, drunken monkey sex, the fact that you're
feeling weird and guilty is no reason for you not to nail each other
again before the discussion occurs about what a big mistake it was.

25: It is acceptable for you to drive her car. It is not acceptable
for her to drive yours.

26: Thou shalt not buy a car in the colors of brown, pink, lime
green, orange or sky blue.

27: The girl who replies to the question "What do you want for
Christmas?" with "If you loved me, you'd know what I want!" gets an
Xbox. End of story.

28: There is no reason for guys to watch Ice Skating or Men's
Gymnastics. Ever.

29: We've all heard about people having guts or balls. But do you
really know the difference between them? In an effort to keep you
informed, the definition of each is listed below:

"GUTS" is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being
assaulted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to say,
"are you still cleaning or are you flying somewhere?"

"BALLS" is coming home late after a night out with the guys smelling
of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on
the ass and having the balls to say, "You're next!"

Hope this clears up any confusion.

fall colors

Saturday, October 14, 2006

the lion from india

Once upon a time there lived a lion in the forests of India. He was an ambitious and aggressive lion. Where his other contemporaries were happy to eat whatever food the lioness brought, he would go far and wide, seeking new hunting grounds and trying out different cuisine. He developed quite a taste for exotic meat after he came across a few hippies sleeping in a tent. After that indian meat never seemed that good to him and he kept dreaming of going to the west.

As luck would have it, the NYZ or the New York Zoo had a need for a lion. Their old Lion had reached the end of its productive life and was demanding more healthcare and shorter working hours and its roar was no longer the same as it used to be. The zoo authorities came up with a plan to let their old lion go and get a brand new hungrier lion from India. Our lion in India who was anyway dreaming of white meat, got wind of this and applied for the job. After jumping through a few hoops to prove his mental and physical fitness, he was selected and was soon on the boat to America.

On his arrival, he was taken to his new livng place and shown his cage where he would work. He liked the bright efficient world of lights around him, the wealth and prosperity visible and everything he saw seemed so much bigger and healthier than he saw back in india. The people were definitely juicier and bigger, the food he saw people munching looked so much bigger, heck even the squirrels looked like little cats. Our lion felt mighty pleased and looked forward to a great lipsmacking time ahead and soon was roaring enthusiatically.

After a while he became hungry and went to see what was up for dinner. There was a little corner where he saw a little door open and a plate was pushed in. Bounding forward he attacked the food only to immediately step back frowning. All that was there on the plate were a bunch of bananas. He figured that there must have been a mistake and they probably werent ready for his coming here and so mixed up the food. Being a lion who could take the rough with the smooth, he finished off the bananas washing them down with lots of water, and went to sleep.

The next day the same thing happened. Another plate, another bunch of bananas. This was getting too much. Still he finished them off and waited for dinner where he hoped he would get a juicy steak or something finally. Dinner came and again another plate and another bunch of bananas. This time he let out a mighty roar and someone came around to find out what was the reason for our lion doing overtime.

"Whats up lion dude" said the janitor. "Nothing much" said the lion, "but do you know who is incharge of the kitchen here?".

"Hell no, I'm just the janitor, but I could find out. Whats the problem?"

"Well you see, I am the king of the jungle. I roamed far and wide in the forests and plains of India. There was no one who could even raise their head and talk to me. I ate only the finest freshest meat and left the rest for my family. Yet ever since I came here all they give me to eat is bananas. I think theres some mistake.. why the hell would someone give the king of the jungle bananas to eat"

The janitor smiled a knowing smile. He had seen this before. He said " Hey lion dude, do you have your passport"

"Sure" said the lion, rummaging among his things and coming up with it.

"okay, now check whats written on your visa stamp"

The lion, peered closely and read the fine print, his frown getting frownier and frownier.

"Yup man" said the janitor, " you may be the king of the jungle back in India, but you came here on a Monkey Visa. Be happy that you get bananas, dude."

And our lion let out a roar, which was quieter and softer than he had ever roared.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The America Diaries

but baby you should see new york....its the most amazing place....theres so much energy there...everyone is busy and working hard...and the streets are full...and lights and music and noises...and people in cafes on the street...and small markets besides the streets...and all kinds of dresses....and all kinds of people...all types of languages being spoken.....its wonderful....

From the first bartender in an underground pub in penn station, to the cleaning woman at mcdonalds, to the concierge of the building, to the artist in the streets, to the cab driver from brazil, to the singer in the classic rock bar, to the poets in the campuses, to the bankers on wall streeet, to the kids skateboarding on concrete, to the pretty women puking in the darkened doorways, to the old man striding across the park puffing a pipe, to the guys reading about afghanistan while sipping a latte, to the girls doing their homework in cafes, to the dancers on the streets and the homeless covered in styrofoam.....this is my salute to you. New York, I had heard a lot about it, and I am happy to report that it rocks!!!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the sandbox

doonesbury just started something called a sandbox. Its a collection of blogs etc from the US military effort in iraq. Kind of interesting. Lots of stories protected under the First Amendment. The latest post starts like this -

..."I love the Army, I truly do. It has offered me incredible opportunities, and helped me come a long way from the crank-smoking high school drop-out that I was 15 years ago. And I love our country, even when I don't always agree with the people that run it. I'm desperately sorry to the people that have lost loved ones here.

My husband's job site was ambushed last week, and although no one was hurt, it has prompted a lot of these reflections. It was a terrible question to ask: If, God forbid, he had been hurt, what would it have been for? I read an article in Rolling Stone recently, about a reporter riding with some soldiers here in Iraq. He put it into words perfectly.

Those of us serving here simply can't afford to ask that question."....

the america diaries

Less than a month left of my american trip. 3 months is probably not adequate to see this country properly. I concentrated this trip on trying to see the north east corner and meet as many people as i could. Somehow never got around to seeing the touristy things. When I realised that the water of the niagara falls is used for electricity generation and is released for a few hours when the tourists visit, I decided not to get into any tourist type activity again. More important for me was to visit as many old friends as I could. After we left college almost a decade ago, everyone scattered all over the globe, and one way or the other ended up in the US of A. Its been nice to catch up with them and revisit the reasons that we became friends those many years ago.

I thought I would sort of group the people I met so I could make sense of it all. So here goes. First let me start with the Indians.

The various categories of Indians are -

1. Old Old friends - This was the main reason that I accepted the assignment to come to US. I missed my friends, and I am glad I got to meet most of them. Arshad, if you are reading this, get your act together, and meet me asap. Mostly they are all the same as I knew them, but have just grown a bit more. They no longer have unkempt hair ( if they have any left), the social skills are more developed, less goofy, more complex, busier and smarter, richer and fatter :) etc etc. Whenever I met someone whom I used to be friends with many years ago, it just took a little while to get through the interference and get a clear signal, and then we were back in sync and happily chutiyaoing along.

2. Work Gang - This is mostly people in my office. All of them have been in the states for a long time and pretty well settled in. All drive Honda's and work on laptops. They gave me a crash course in "how to live here when you get here" and then were always around to help me get settled in. Its amazing how theres no insecurity, office politics, pushing and shoving at all, as compared to any similar setup in India. Its a reflection of the American work ethic perhaps. I have been very impressed with how professional and punctual most american office workers are. Theres a matter-of-fact attitude and a unhurried but efficient way of working thats really fun to see. From a secretary, to a waitress, to an airline pilot, to a senior executive, the pride of "just doing my job" is great to see.

3. The software engineering gang everywhere in the cafes, in the indian store, in the restaurants, in the housing blocks, on the aeroplanes. They are ubiquitous, ( hope i got it right, i think it means - present everywhere ) and are easily spotted. They know their way around america, having spent years here on many trips, on projects in many cities and they know the exchange rate down to the last cent. They know which is the best place to buy anything, the best way to cook indian food in a hotel room, the cheapest option of travelling anywhere. They can live without air or water, but if you shut the wi-fi off, there will be a croaking noise and they start dropping like flies.

4. The waiters, the cooks, the cleaners, the cabbies, the motel workers and the bums - I put that last one in in the hope that there would be one Indian bum in this country. For the future of this race, there must be a few square pegs in round holes, a few misfits, someone who didnt study his ass off and instead grew long hair and became a bum. Havent spotted one yet, maybe the species hasnt arrived yet. Still I am hopeful.

Friday, October 06, 2006

didnt you forget something?

i think someone forgot to plan for a way to reach this place. Wheres the road?
This is a particularly interesting characteristic of Bhutanese Architecture. They dont make anything easy to reach :)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Slaughterhouse Extract

The visitor from outer space made a gift to Earth of a new Gospel. In it, Jesus really was a nobody, and a pain in the neck to a lot of people with better connections than he had. He still got to say all the lovely and puzzling things he said in the other Gospels.
So the people amused themselves one day by nailing him to a cross and planting the cross in the ground. There couldn't possibly be any repercussions, the lynchers thought. The reader would have to think that, too, since the new Gospel hammered home again and again what a nobody Jesus was.
And then, just before the nobody died, the heavens opened up, and there was thunder and lightning. The voice of God came crashing down. He told the people that he was adopting the bum as his son giving him the full powers and privileges of The Son of the Creator of the Universe throughout all eternity. God said this From this moment on, He will punish horribly anybody who torments a bum who has no connections!

- Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse 5

hi there....

just changed the layout of this page...wanted to try the dark look....let me know if you like it.....

I had to make these changes to move from html based pages to the XHTML format, and so i started to fool around and ended up changing pretty much everything... leave a comment if you like it or dislike it or didnt really notice anything...

apart from this its been a quiet month of september which got over. Didnt do much, didnt go out much..didnt think much, didnt really worry too much. I think September is that kind of month. Its just there in between, and you dont notice it since you remember summer and look ahead to fall and winter.

Planning to go to new yawk this weekend. people tell me that the city has to be seen to be believed. Somehow, after the disappointment of niagara, i am taking claims of the local attractions with a large dose of salt. I havent seen any gunfights, no cowboys, no kukluxers, no children with AK47s, no people tried to sell me crack, no blonde came and asked me if i was alone, no gay men kissing in the streets, no cars roaring at high speeds with drunked kids inside, no muggers...... i tell you, america has just one more month to show me its better face, or i am going to be rather unimpressed.

Monday, October 02, 2006


A Chinese walks into a bar in America late one night and he saw Steven Spielberg. As he was a great fan of his movies, he rushes over to him, and asks for his autograph. Instead, Spielberg gives him a slap and says, "You Chinese people bombed our Pearl Habour, get outta here." The astonished Chinese man replied, "It was not the Chinese who bombed your Pearl Harbour, it was the Japanese". "Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, you're all the same," replied Spielberg. In return, the Chinese gives Spielberg a slap and says, "You sank the Titanic, my forefathers were on that ship." Shocked, Spielberg replies, "It was the iceberg that sank the ship, not me." The Chinese replies, "Iceberg, Spielberg, Carsberg, you're all the same."

A MBA and a CA go on a camping trip, set up their tent,and fell asleep. Some hours later, the CA wakes his MBA friend. " look up at the sky and tell me what you see."
The MBA replies, "I see millions of stars."
"What does that tell you?"
The MBA ponders for a minute.
"Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.
Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.
Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three.
Theologically, it's evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.
Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.
What does it tell you?"
The CA is silent for a moment, then speaks.

"Practically...Someone has stolen our tent".

funny to enlarge

BBC Widget