Friday, December 24, 2004

My wishes

My Xmas-New year wishes for some special people (in random order)

- For a very creative friend who is off to the Himalayas. Wish you a very safe journey and don’t decide to be a hermit and meditate in the Himalayas forever. What would CISCO do without you, Raj?

- For the new baby, here’s a wishing a great life ahead. A wish for you to grow up and be a smart woman.

- A wish for my parents for a healthy year ahead and peace and happiness.

- A wish for my brother – u can redeem this wish for whatever you want.

- A wish for Vishy to put on a little weight next year and have a good start for AbaKus

- A wish for VV to look as smashing as ever in the next year too and good luck with Abakus

- A wish for Rahulu for finding someone soon who can sing ‘nuvvu nuvvu’ for him and know its meaning too

- for that someone to let him somehow smuggle himself in his friend’s suitcase and come back to India ASAP. I miss you buddy.

- A wish for COSMO BOOKS employees in TCR to get a big fat raise :)

- Ditto for WIPRO

- A wish for all the children of Vimala Home to be happy

- A small prayer to God to make reddy get a haircut as soon as possible

- Another small prayer to God to make the Noida summer bearable for a small kid who is gonna be daring her life there this summer

- A wish for Siji for a healthy and more importantly painless baby

- A wish for Nisha to grow up soon and start behaving like a mom :)

- A wish for all my cousins studying in BSchools- Sowmya, Achu, Kavi - to get fabulous placements.

- A wish for my cousin Kichu to make the treatment from Nashik to start working

- A wish for Deepak to get his CA soon

- A wish for Shankar to become a BIG
entrepreneur.

- A wish for a good monsoon next year and a good GDP growth for India.

- A wish for Anand to realise his dream and get into an IIT

- A wish for my Rakhi brother Aravind to make it big as a Fashion designer

- A wish for Sukumama for a healthy and happy year ahead

- A wish for all the good Profs at K to not to leave K.

- A wish for Media Cell to get some rocking coverage for K next year

- A secret wish

- A wish for all my friends at K – for a rocking term ahead and no classes at 8AM.

- A wish for all the people reading this - give them diarrhoea for a day :)
Just kidding. A wish to make their dreams come true.
(but I liked the first wish better. God, it's your choice :P)

- Finally a wish for myself – please make all the wishes above come true.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Three expert opinions

The whole of yesterday was spent visiting all the medicine men in Thrissur.

My RAM’s performance has become so bad that this time I could not ignore it and attribute it to maybe carelessness or lack of sleep or stress in general. So my mom and I set across to visit some good docs. By the end of the day I could recite my ‘case facts’ like a parrot! I got three expert opinions after all the consultations out of which two were ruled out without any second thoughts.

The first doctor I went to was a Govt practitioner specialized in Gynecology. Yes, I know RAM and Gynec are not exactly directly related to each other. But I had to go to her because of mom’s compulsion, they being Gym-buddies and according to my mom, if someone is a doctor, they ARE a doctor and they know about everything. I played along like a good daughter.

As expected, the doc was busy and there were about 6 ‘fully’ pregnant women waiting to see her. We joined the line. I started chatting up mom about the latest gossip in town. After sometime the doc comes out and sees her best friend and of course she has to call us in! (we had an appointment). After half an hour of incessant chatting by the doc about her hubby, her mom-in-law, some property dispute, her son’s disease, her new cotton saree, what she cooked yesterday for dinner and who is the ‘fattest’ in the gym these days, she decides to get to the matter after she sensed that I was getting pretty restless. I laid my case in front of her with all details including whatever I had learnt about the memory loss problem while googling about it.

I guess she never had such a prepared patient in front of her. She was taken aback and didn't know what to do for awhile. Maybe she would have been more comfortable if I had told her that my fallopian tubes had the habit of doing a cha-cha-cha with each other. She thought long and hard about my case and gave a very beautiful smile and then gave her verdict

“I think you should stop studying and get married. That would solve all your problems.”

I was taken aback. Once what she said really sank in, I gave her one of the coldest stares I could possibly conjure up.

It was after 45 minutes and a lecture on the merits of being married and the hormonal effects that we could get out of her room. The pregnant women were still waiting outside, this time with an expression that meant business. I told my mom once again that we should have waited in the line. She pretended not to hear it. Sigh.

The experience at the second doc was far better. At least he asked me some relevant questions. He even knocked on my knees and shins with a hammer. That hurt! He was just checking for reflexes and was pretty satisfied with my reaction :P
He brought down the memory problem to my unhealthy food intake [I have no choice :( ], irregular sleeping habits and low iron levels.
That was when I laid out the gyan I had googled about memory loss. I asked him whether by any chance it could be a Thyroid problem or B12 deficiency?

He looks at me VERY surprised and tells me

"Those are the two things I have prescribed for you to check. You seem to be as good as a doctor."


I give a smug look to my mom that said "See I told you I am not wasting time surfing on the net all day. :) "

Just before we leave, the doc asks me, “Have your eyes always been like this?”

Me: “Like what?”

My mom and dad start laughing and say that that was the thing they first saw of me in the sonogram. Eeeeeeesh PJ!!! Another joke about my eyes.

The third expert was none other than my dear paatti (grandma). Among her 20 other suggestions, she advises me to take Panchakavyam regularly. I beamed. It sounded like something tasty, nothing like all those kashayams and lehyams. She tells me this is a concotion of 5 sacred things. And the sacred things seem to be Milk, Buttermilk, Ghee, Go-muthram (cow’s urine) and Chaanakam (cow dung) - all collected from the same cow and mixed in a special proportion!!!
Drastic change in my expression.

Luckily for me, it seems Panchakavyam is not available that easily these days.

But today morning I see her on a long discussion with our milkman. Uh oh!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

"Do you know who I am?"

6:30AM Its my usual time-to-get-up at home and have a cup of steaming coffee. But today I am still sleeping peacefully.

7:00AM Still sleeping

7:35AM I hear my name being hollered by Giant Robot. Oh! It's only my brother who has been sent up by mom on the mission of waking me up.

7:45AM A horrible noise makes me jump and sit up in the bed. The stupid calling bell - the one that is used for communication between 'upstairs' and 'downstairs' by someone who is too lazy to climb the stairs. It's a signal from my mom to take my bum off the bed and start my day.

7:55AM I am lying in my bed thinking of how to minimize boredom within all the constraints that I have at home. Lindo says "No feasible solution exists" :(

8:00AM Am dreaming of Bangalore.

8:05AM Am thinking about my future and some serious thoughts about my life. A bed coffee would have been great.

8:10AM Somehow manage to drift off to sleep again.

8:15AM Two big hands are trying to remove my blanket and trying to touch me. Painfully, I open one of my eyes. Since I couldn’t recognise the figure in front of me, I decide to open both my eyes. A typical Mami comes into focus. There's only one problem. I have no idea who she is.

And then what I dread happens.

Mami: "Do you know who I am?"

I try to pretend to act as sleepy as possible so that she might think that I am too sleepy to recognise even Rahul Roy (one of my old crushes).

She does fall for it. Good!

But then she gives me a good shake to wake me up and sits on my bed and repeats the question again. This time with double the volume and accompanied with a very plastic smile

"Do you know who I am?"

This time I had no idea what to do. I give her a blank look. I wanted her to believe that I am the dumbest kid on this planet and how can she ask such Difficulty-level-3 questions to poor me!

I see her expression changing. The smile has almost vanished. Now she is feeling very uncomfortable. What does one do when someone tells you that they don’t remember their name or even who they are? It was evident that she was hurt.

Well. I didn't want to hurt anyone....so felt that some damage control was very much called for. So I sheepishly ask her

"Give me a clue please."

The expression on her face was priceless. A pot pourri of surprise, sadness, helplessness, disbelief, loss of faith in the new generation..................

She thinks for 10 seconds and says

"Mysore"

I say "hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" buying time to think.

The only things that come to my mind when I search for Mysore are the palaces, the twin mirrors in one of palaces - the one that makes you look so-goddamn-fat and the one that makes you look thin-like-noodles - so that by the end of the experience you leave the palace being very happy about the way you actually look, Chamundi Hills, the dancing lights of Brindavan gardens, Tipu Sultan - the Tiger of Mysore, The yeshtu ghanda aithye joke by my mom and the STD code 0821. There seemed to be no more data in my archives about Mysore......And the Mami from Mysore?? Out of the question.

So now I have no choice but to tell her that even with the clue, my memory search returned NIL. I decided to do it again in a subtle manner by giving a blank-er look.

She gets the idea and decides that there's no point trying anymore. My brother who has been a witness to the entire episode gives a very sheepish smile that says 'Ha ha, I knew this would happen.'

She consoles herself that I may be too sleepy to think clearly and surely I would remember her once I get up. Wouldnt I?

I nod my head meekly.

She walks out with a very confused and sad face.

I withdraw inside the blanket. I seem to have done it again. Usually when some mamis ask me whether I know them, I nod my head with such fervour that they think that I have been thinking about them all my life. And I somehow always manage to guess their identities from the following conversations or from some clues from my mom. So they never end up asking the second question which would be to recognise them and their names. But this mami didn’t know the rules and jumped straight to the second question. Clearly her fault. :P

Started my day today with a big frown.

Looks like it's one of those days when nothing goes right. Decide to lie low and keep my mouth shut for the rest of the day.

Oh yeah. Have to see a doc today to check my RAM.
Hope he doesn’t say “Defective piece. You will just have to live with it."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It happens only in KERALA


This is a photo that appeared in the KERALA page of THE HINDU today.
Posted by Hello

The caption reads,
The law prohibits transportation of human beings on goods carriers. But it is often observed in the breach in many parts of the State. Two Kathakali artistes being taken on a mini-lorry through Thiruvalla town recently right under the nose of a policeman.


I could start another day with a huge grin on my face.

Yup. It even overruled the discovery I made today morning - someone has been breaching my privacy by rummaging among my stuff when I am not home. Whoever it is has to be pretty stupid, because he/she left plenty of clues behind. I know who you are you sneaky little nuisance!

Coming back to the picture. I wish that photo was in colour. Two Kathakali artistes on an auto-lorry hybrid right in the middle of 9AM traffic. :)
The journalist who saw this really got a feast for his eyes. But the person who wrote the caption really deserves a PJ award or something.

How the hell can someone relate something as practical as this to a law that tries to enforce minimum respect for human beings. He should have protested against all those low class worker men and women who are transported in a lorry be it rain or shine. I know the journalist meant well, but he dint make his point well.

It would be really difficult to fit those Kathakali artists inside a Ford escort what with their flaring skirts and those numerous dangling thingies! :P

The caption makes as sense as the arrest of Bazee.com CEO, Avnish Bajaj.

How can people be so DUH!?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Am a sucker ........

…………………..for attention given to details.

I tend to follow it religiously….......or at least I think I do…..so when I see somebody doing the same thing it gives me immense pleasure to know that there is someone who thinks the same way :)

It can be as small as

- a phone call before an appointment letting one know that the person is going to be 2 minutes late. (Very few people would make a call for this, thinking that a 2-min delay is NOT a delay)

- Service at Laundromat; they continuing to use a particular brand of detergent because you once remarked that your clothes smell like heaven after one of those washes. Its all the more to be appreciated since they have changed their regular detergent, but they keep buying the old brand of detergent just for that ONE customer

- Someone taking time to appreciate small things in life; a second visit to the tailor just to let him know that he had stitched that salwar perfectly. Couldn’t believe the joy in his face when I walked into Playboy (it’s a tailoring shop in Trichur) and told him that I loved the way he stitched my salwars

- Covering books that you love with transparent sheets to make sure that it looks and remains as good as new – saw Anju doing this several years back and anjooos, have I ever told you what that small gesture spoke to me about you?


- Planning out a fabulous bday party right under the concerned person’s nose, but then making it the most memorable ever giving all possible to attention to detail. Hats off to Pragya and PKT for this one. I still cant beleive you guys were able to pull it off.

- Remembering things; This one goes off to Ramki, a good friend (mentor?) who remembered the day I was supposed to join K and dedicated a small post for me. Well Ramki, I assumed the 'she' in that post was me, if it's not please dont tell me and break my heart.

- My chithi who takes whatever pain to get the special cheeda from palghat that I just love. Lali chithi ALWAYS makes sure that she brings a packet of those whenever she vists us.

- Wash basins set at different levels at Vimala Home for the handicapped rather than just providing a stool and lots of other small small conveniences without compromising on anything, so that each of the speical kid wouldn’t have to take any extra effort to go about their daily chores.

You might feel that some of these are mere formalities in life or that they are just a way of showing that you care about someone or their time or its just some ways to delight a customer by being thoughtful; but whatever it is, it floors me every time :)

Latest one was what I saw at the entrance of Vadkkunnathan temple today morning.
In most parts of India there is this custom of washing one’s feet before entering places of worship. But this is not very prevalent in South India.
Today before I could make my first step into the Vadakkunathan temple, I felt small ripples of water slowly caressing my feet. My first thought was to check if any elephants were around ;)
When I looked down what I saw simply blew me away. There was a small pipe just beneath the first step and there were several small holes made in that pipe in such a way that it let out small streams of water that would wash the devotees' legs before they entered the temple. Usually a small tap is provided for this purpose near the entrance. But this was a VERY ingenious idea.

Whoever thought about this deserves a pat on their back. It made me start a day with a renewed belief in the humankind and of course a big smile on my face :)

The Gulf Connection

I was a witness to one of the strongest connections that Kerala seems to have developed in the past decade. Didn't realize the strength of the connection until I saw what a difference it can make to people and their lives rather than just giving Kerala a boost in its annual accounts figures.

It is often boasted by Keralites that every Mallu family has at least one representative earning dirhams in gelf land and comes home every year with a big suitcase full of goodies for all relatives, their relatives, their neighbours, old friends and new friends……and some extra stuff for new friends he may make during his vacation :)

Until some years back, the only connection my family had with gulf was my uncle X who decided to make it his base after his short US stint and a good job in the banking sector in India. He is a big influential banker in Doha now. Then there’s uncle Y, who too went to Arab land, but lost his job there and had to come back in a few years. He found it very difficult to find a job back at home. The house they had purchased a year back when they had the inflow of gelf money became a burden now. They were struggling to meet the m onthly EMIs. Situation became so bad that his wife and his daughter had to start working – that too very low paying jobs. The daughter, who wanted to study more had no choice but to swallow her sorrows and contribute her share for the family’s welfare.

My mom was the angel who connected these two so contrasting stories and asked my influential uncle to help uncle Y. And voila! Before we knew it the visa was ready. Now all Uncle Y had to do was to get in a plane and find himself a job, which he says is gonna be less painful than getting the visa. The joy that lit up his face when he held the VISA in his land like a ticket to a kingdom of treasures was something to be seen to be belived. A simple VISA had saved a family from depression or maybe something even worse.

Have been reading some reports that say that the number of mallus in gelf land has come down drastically after the war and the lay-off. But my personal experience suggests otherwise. Now my family knows at least a dozen people who have happily settled down in gelf land. Another interesting factor is that most of these people had thrown away their very comfortable jobs at home and gone in search of greener pastures. But then there are people like my neighbour who has been trying since I was in LKG to get a CA, and finally had to give it up when they assigned him permanent roll no and a special seat for the CA exams considering his seniority :))
He is happily doing ‘something’ at gelf land and is being paid well; now his house has transformed itself from a one storey old fashioned home to a two storey stylish villa!
But are all mallus in gulf land doing white collar jobs? Of course not. The reluctance to talk more than a couple of sentences by most of the Gulf NRIs is an indication that they are doing something there which they would naver have done in their homeland. I can only assume that Mallus leave their abominably huge egos behind when they leave mallu land. Have also heard that people become the biggest misers there, just to save enough to fill in their suitcase during the annual vacation and to live like kings once they are back home.

The small stories of what gelf means to some of the Mallu families is surprising. For me the Gulf influence only meant some neat chocolates when any friends/relatives came for their vacations and those houses that scream of gulf money that are coming up in Mallu land at an alarming rate. The bigger picture is even more astonishing. Some facts and figures I could google out about the NRI remittances that flows into Kerala’s economy

- In 1998 there were 13.62 lakhs Kerala emigrants living abroad. Must have become close to 15-17lakhs by now.

- Towards the end of the nineties, Keralites working abroad constituted 10 percent of the workforce in Kerala. The size of those working abroad now exceeds those working in the organised sector (both public and private) in Kerala.

- 57 percent of the remittances to India from the UAE were to Kerala

- Average annual remittances ranged from Rs. 536 crores during 1980-85 to Rs.15,192 crores during 1995-2000

- As a percentage of the State Domestic Product (SDP) remittances constituted around 22 percent in the second half of nineties. Must be around 1/4th and rising now.

- The growth in remittances to Kerala has exceeded the growth in SDP by a wide margin throughout the nineties.

- Thanks to these huge remittances per capita consumer expenditure in Kerala is one of the highest among Indian states since the mid-eighties.

- Around 20 per cent of the workers from Kerala in the UAE were found to be daily wageworkers although most of them enjoyed regular employment.

- From the trend in bank deposits, it is seen that the savings rate that was around 21 percent during seventies to nineties (around the national average) more than doubled to cross 50 percent during late nineties. This is similar to the savings rates of the high growth economies of East and South East Asia.

- By the end of the nineties, remittance income has increased to 113 percent of government expenditure and 208 percent above the value added in manufacturing and 110 above value added in industry. (OMG)

- One of the formidable challenges facing Kerala today is its inability to convert the savings in the economy into productive investment. That it has not been able to meet the challenge effectively is demonstrated by a low credit-deposit ratio of around 40 percent for the past decade. This is partly, if not wholly, constrained by an unfavourable image of Kerala as an ‘investor unfriendly’ state in sharp contrast to its positive image as a state with high achievements in social development and recently in the sphere of tourism.

- Another challenge that traslates directly from the last point is the inability of Kerala to employ its eligible-to-be-employed population. The IT Park at TVM and the recent plans by Wipro and Infosys to set up dev centers in Kerala should bring a welcome change.

- Another very significant trend is the high growth rate of BPO industry and what is the role of Kerala in it. Wipro Spectramind was in Calicut a couple of weeks back to pick up mallus to work in Wipro Spectramind. (Still cant believe Reddy was the one who conducted the interviewed. I would have had a tough time controlling my laughter if someone like Reddy was on the other side of the table) This shows how desperate they are to expand and to get people who won’t contribute to their increasing attrition rate. Well, I hope they wont change their minds once they listen to temble and simble :)

As the facts seem to suggest, rather than sitting on a huge NRI remittances deposits, Kerala would be better off if it could translate the deposits into some good investments. Using up NRI money to dole out fat dowries and drowning the brides with gold heavier than the grooms doesn’t help matters.

Maybe I should look up something about the Gold industry in Kerala. Am sure it would be interesting. Especially for a person like me, who had to commute through long stretches of roads lined with ONLY gold shops on the way to her school and who hails from the land of ALUKKAS and ALAPPAT and now GOLD PARK, it sure would be interesting.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

End Term is starting off in 15 hours. And this term I have been into more 'extracurricular' activities than the scholarly stuff. And that is showing while I desperately try to wade through the material for the end term.

Was going through some poems for 'tension-release'. Came across this one by Keats, which is one of my all time favourites.


La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats


The dame and the knight Posted by Hello

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.


Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.


I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.


I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful - a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.


I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.


I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery's song.


She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said -
'I love thee true'.


She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.


And there she lulled me asleep
And there I dreamed - Ah! woe betide! -
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.


I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried - 'La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!'


I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill's side.


And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.



La Belle Dame sans Merci Posted by Hello

This poem had me mesmerized right from the time our English maam at St.Mary's recited it for us (with very good voice-effects, which I still remember). Though a tragic poem, this one has very powerful lyrics and probably has some connection to Keat's life too. It celebrates beauty and melancholy in a very different way.

But then this poem is also open to different interpretations. The enchanting dame in this poem could symbolise drug addiction, a failed but very romantic relationship and maybe even chain-smoking - all of which you enjoy immensely when it lets you enjoy it, but leaves you crippled physically or emotionally in the end.

And its funny the way Keats explains some of the usages in the poem. Look at a sample:
"Why four kisses -- you will way -- why four? Because I wish to restrain the headlong impetuosity of my Muse -- she would have fain said "score" without hurting the rhyme -- but we must temper the imagination as the critics say with judgment. I was obliged to choose an even number that both eyes might have fair play: and to speak truly I think two apiece quite sufficient. Suppose I had said seven; there would have been three and a half apiece -- a very awkward affair -- and well got out of on my side --"

Back to more slogging for the end term :(

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Babies and Wives

"Babies are such a nice way to start people" :)

"A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for"

"Father asked us what was God's noblest work. Anna said men, but I said babies. Men are often bad, but babies never are."

"My friend has a baby. I'm recording all the noises he makes so later I can ask him what he meant."

"There is one order of beauty which seems made to turn heads. It is a beauty like that of kittens, or very small downy ducks making gentle rippling noises with their soft bills, or babies just beginning to toddle."

"Ten fingers, Ten toes She's laughter and teardrops So small and brand new And amazingly angelic She's sent to bless you She's one special Baby The best of life's treasure And will grant and bless you Many hours of great pleasure."

"Take a sprinkling of fairy dust, An angels single feather, Also a dash of love and care, Then mix them both together. Add a sentiment or two, A thoughtful wish or line, A touch of stardust, a sunshine ray, Its a recipe, for a Baby Girl truly fine."


And a baby girl it is!!!!!!


Well, my dear buddy, Mariya gave birth to a darling angel - a baby girl. So I have reasons to celebrate and to be happy. Only that though I am very near to the place where she is now, I'll have to wait for 6 more days to have a glimpse of that darling. Now I know what is the first thing I'll do after reaching home. No prizes for guessing that. :)


Suddenly I have this very strong urge to get settled and have babies!

Yeah really!!!

Must be the maternal instinct inside me knocking desperately, since it can clearly see that I have no intentions of settling down atleast in the next few years. Had this same urge a year back while I was in Wipro but then the circumstances were totally different. memories...................

I was on my usual post-lunch walk around the Wipro campus.....still remember the shocked expression on my friend's face when I told him that I felt like resigning from the job at that very instant and having a baby :)
:D
That would have been the last thing anyone would have expected to hear from a colleague friend!

This reminds me of a small discussion I had a chance to hear recently. Topic was what kind of a girl would a typical IIM grad like to marry - personal preferences of some of my very good friends. Got two entirely contrasting fields of thought.

Mr. X wanted an intelligent girl with whom he can talk of anything under the sun. ( I thought this would be an implicit criteria, but seems it isnt!).

But surprisingly Mr. Y would be happy with a simple and plain girl, with whom he has no intentions of discussing any 'work related topics' or say 'general economics' or something like that.

Agreed.

But what if you wanted to discuss something badly and find out that you end up getting irritated trying to just explain the situation to that person. What would you do?
Would your wavelenghts match? Wont you get bored of such a person? Wont you end up going to other people to talk to? Does the person's role justify the term 'life partner'? Will u be really really happy? Or will you be missing something deep inside? Would you look at Mr. and Mrs. X at a later point and feel a teeny weeny sense of regret? Wont you run out of topics to talk since you have only limited choices?
On a lighter note, what if your children get your looks and your wife's smartness?
You would have ugly kids for sure :P

This statement by Mr. Y was a revelation to me. More so because it shook the image I had about Mr. Y. I had a pre-conceived notion that IIM pass-outs would be more like Mr. X, wanting a smart life-partner. Looks like my assumption was wrong. But I wonder how many think like Mr. Y.

I had heard similar comments from some of my supposedly 'smart' friends at Wipro. Most of them wanted a 'housewife' or a typical native girl, who would take care of them and their kids 24x7, would cook and clean and wash, and wont complain much and wont ask too many questions and would say 'Yes' to almost anything hubby desires. It surprised me to hear such statements, but then I thought they were kind of 'country' people or maybe even MCPs and that nothing more can be expected from them.

But this Mr. Y incident really surprised me. Still cant think of a logical reason why Mr. Y thinks this is the best decision.
Is it the background of the person or is it parent's influence or some sour past experience or a scary feeling about having to put up with a 'smart wife' or is it an ego thing or is it just pure MCPism????
Or am I thinking at a totally different level and mistook what Mr. Y had intended to say?

I dont want to jump any conclusions here, but the mystery still remains.

Anyways I just found one more reason to like Biharis, thanks to Mr. X :)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Can I have one day of your life, please?

I felt like they were all asking me this. Was lost for words.

"My name is Ancy. I am 14 years old. Studying in 9th standard. I like Maths and Science. I want to be a doctor someday. I don’t mind being a nurse also. I like biology. I also like watching 4PM movies on Asianet and Surya. Will you take me to your college one day? I’d love to come there and meet your friends. You said your college is on top of a hill, right? When will you come to see me again? What are you studying? What is MBA? What job will you do? Why are you studying so much? When will you come visit me again? Why do you have short hair? Can I have more chocolates please? I like them so much……"

Ancy could have been any other child. Full of questions and dimpled smiles of a typical 14 year old. But she is a very special child. Handicapped. Her legs were amputated. That’s all. By all other means, she could have been just like you or me. But that one thing changed her life. She lives in a small building with 12 other special children just like her, some of them even 40-45 years old, but just as happy as her.

Vimala Home, situated at a 2 min drive from Medical College and behind Savio LP school, was my chosen organisation to churn out a report for Business Ethics. Vimala Home is a charitable organisation run for the rehabilitation of handicapped girl children, it's run by some sisters with the backing from FCC. Went there as a future-Manager, came back a very humbled human being.

Sr. Paulie was happy to welcome us (me and Rahul) inside the home. I thought maybe they won't allow us to see the children. Maybe that would depress them. How wrong I was. Slowly, one by one, each inmate started coming (dragging their feet behind them) to the visiting room, each one giving a very warm welcome smile to us. I was floored. They made themselves comfortable around the room, women and girls of all ages. The only similarity among them was their special shoes and their special smiles. All of them looked at me as I talked to them as if saying ‘Thank you for coming. You just made our day’. Suddenly I felt very awkward of having normal legs. I wished I were like them or better, they could have been like me.

They showed us what they do whole day….running a small mill which makes ‘Vimala condiments’. They knew Fr. Cyriac who goes there regularly to buy the spices. They showed us how they make ‘host’ - the white small thing served during Sunday service in the church. It is supposed to signify Jesus’ body. Made by these special children, they were very special indeed.

Their days started and ended with prayers. Prayers for a happy life. Thanksgiving prayers to God that said though you didn't give us good legs, you gave us a life. In between these prayers they went about their lives ….cleaning their home, cooking, studying, teaching, stitching, working in the mills, making hosts, sitting and having small fights, watching movies…… ……..being a family together.

Sr. Paulie was more than happy to show us the album of all the children who had stayed there. She knew each one of them and their stories……

"This girl here…she was very naughty. Used to run around all the time."

"And Sona, she could teach a thing or two to S Janaki about singing."

"Moni, smart girl, she is an officer in the Survey department now."

"Meenu, she is married now and has 2 special kids. She had called me yesterday."

I just nodded my head to each of them and was thinking about how it would be for her to be with them all day. A life well spent. Atleast she would be satisfied about what she did in her lifetime. What am I gearing myself for? - trying to increase shareholder value. Suddenly MBA and everything seemed so meaningless. Forgot that I was there to write a report on them, ended up spending around 4 hours with them.

The ride back to college was worse. The choking feeling in my throat was getting worse. This visit reminded me of the visits I had taken to the Mental hospital, the orphanage in tcr……Mary, a social worker, had taken me there and showed me around. Then there was Dream-a-Dream in Bangalore run by my boss’ wife, Mansi. Sr. Paulie and Mansi.....superwomen.
Once I started earning, I had made sure that I did something for these special kids atleast once a month. Last 5 months, someone somewhere would have missed it. Only myself to blame for it.
A bad day for me would be a bad hair day, breakfast without choclate corn flakes, a poorly written quiz, fights with friends, days with less time to sleep, days when I miss the F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode, days of huge traffic jams, days when my Kinetic wouldn't start, days when a crow shits on my starched white kurta, days when my body aches after a wild night of dancing and partying, hangover mornings…………………

But after this, nothing seems to qualify for a bad day anymore.

Have promised Ancy I’ll go meet her again. For me its just a promise. For her it means the promise of a very special day.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thanks for putting up with me!

My dear harishkutta,

Today is Karthika.....the envelope that you sent me is lying right beside as I write this. Somehow being away from home is making me very very nostalgic about Karthika. The lamps, the aura of the festival, the silent and peaceful evenings..........Miss it all.

You may not remember the fun we had when we were growing up. Though I keep forgetting most things, childhood memories seem to be etched in my mind forever.

I even remember the day you were born as clear as day. I was studying in UKG then, it was a strange day for me because instead of amma helping me get ready for school that day, it was appa who did everything and then he asked me to be a good girl and said that there was gonna be something new when I come back after class. But I dint know why he looked so tense if there was going to be a surprise. I thought mom was sick and maybe something bad was going to happen to her.

When I came back home for lunch, I was really scared to see our home empty. My first thought was that everyone has run away somewhere leaving me alone. The maid servant could not answer any of my questions. Then dad came over and took me to a big building in his red scooter (in which I used to love standing in the front and let the wind hurt my eyes). I saw amma sleeping inside a white room and you were lying inside a cage. An ugly boney thing.

My little brother.

It took me quite a few days to realise that from now on I would have to share my world with you. But then my dear brother, you must be the most easy-to-be-with brother ever. You used to lie around sucking your thumb without a care in the world, never interfering in any of my business. How many times have I rocked you to sleep in those cloth thoolis. (Used to be so jealous of you then for all the attention you got!)

You were my figthing partner during all those care-for-nothing years.

Be it fighting over who gets the bigger piece of cake

fighting over which cartoon to watch

fighting over who gets to lie in appa's oh-so-comfortable lap and watch TV


In the rocking chair Posted by Hello
fighting over which way to make Maggi

fighting over who gets the maximum vishu-kaineettam

fighting over who is taller (I've lost it forever now)


Look who's taller :P Posted by Hello
bets on WWF championship

fights over who gets to use the PC and the internet late at night

blaming each other for peeing in the bed

fighting over which CDs to buy


School days Posted by Hello
all the April fool pranks we've played on all our neighbours

sharing T-shirts and jeans

playing video games together


You and me Posted by Hello
how you ALWAYS used to run away when I came near you to give you a hug

gorging on Pizzas under amma's unapproving glares

taking care of the kittens...oh well...u did the most part of it


How chubby you were Posted by Hello
how you never kissed my cheek even after my repeated requests(you were so girl-shy!)

fighting for the best place in the bed

fighting over why I always get to buy more clothes


Happy us Posted by Hello
how you patiently listened to all the advices I doled out once in a while

discussions on all the small things

how u used to update me on happenings at home when I come back on short vacations,

fighting over who gets to drive the kinetic and then later the car

how you used to patiently eat all the stuff I used to 'try' to cook creatively


We have come so far and here's something for all those karthikas when you have made me feel special, dear brother today is your day or maybe OUR day.

Miss you very much.

love
your akka, whom u have never called akka!


ps: lets fight once more.....WWF style when I come home this time.


One picture says it all Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Fonetography

na...its not another one of those very specialised and complex thingies like Astrocartography or calligraphy....it's nothing but an 'unlovely' word coined by Nokia to describe photos taken using a mobile.

Camera phones...been just a year since they have been really popular. And given the fact that the young ones today have more than enough of dispensable income, almost every 20-something is sure to have one. Well, notice that I said 'almost'. Cause there is a different group of people in the same planet who think that a phone should be a phone should be a phone. And nothing more.

Thats why when I came across this interesting news, it sounded more than just interesting.

"If one definition of art is what hangs in a gallery, then a new artform has arrived: the camera phone photograph."

Nokia has invited artists and photographers - among others, Tracey Emin, Sir Peter Blake, Nan Goldin, David Bailey and Rankin - to test the camera phones.

The results will go on show at London's Association of Photographers Gallery next week.

Subjects vary from Emin fingering the lid of a beloved Royal Doulton teapot ("It looks like I'm touching a nipple: my nipple") to a portrait of actor Isabelle Huppert in Paris by Goldin. Bailey produced a self-portrait with skull, while the painter Jack Vettriano snapped a girl wearing stockings and suspenders under a scarlet Scots Guards jacket.



Well well...this may be a harbinger of another sophisticated art form. I am proud to be contributing towards the revolution.

Frankly, I had no such noble intentions when I set out to buy my sleek (ok some may call it dubba) Sony Ericsson. Nokia was ruled out plainly because the coffin shape doesn't really appeal to my asthetic sense. Moreover Sony Ericsson won hands down when compared with any other model....well except Motorola A70. But then that was a bit un-userfriendly with its stylus. So that's how I ended up with a Sony Ericsson.

So what's the use for a camera phone when I have a digital cam?

Plenty of them!

The day I went home after buying this phone was some sort of a 'technical exhibition' in my home. My mom, my dad, my granny .....everyone were gaga over it. So surprised to see that a phone could take a picture! (same AHA effect when I first told them that we could send a mail to our cousin in US and it would reach there in less than the time it takes my mom to say 'no way') My granny made me take a good number of pictures of her and was happy showing it off to all our visitors in the next few days!
My camera phone had arrived!

Another very convenient use I have found for camera phones are that they are very good instruments to break the ice between two stragers. People are always piqued by a latest model cell phone. And almost everyone loves to play around with the camera and see themselves in the tiny screen.

The pic of P&A in my cell, was a riot in the campus!

But then is all this worth the investment? I can hear all the stingy-sams questioning.

I would say YES it is!

Some of the most memorable pictures I have are the ones taken using the phone, impromptu.
My phone helped capture some of the 'glory' during my recent Kappad beach trip, where noone had carried a camera along.

It also doubles up as a memory saver. How many times have I taken a pic of a phone number or an address written on a scrap of paper oh-so-conveniently by just a couple of clicks! Perfect for people who cant be bothered to carry bits of paper with them to note down all these technicalities in life.

When my friend in Dubai, gave birth to a lovely daughter, I could see the darling just minutes after it landed in this world!

Another use is to be able to watch people without letting them know that they are being watched.
Me, pkt and sankalp were at the cinema to watch MunnabhaiMBBS and suddenly this very 'hot' girl and her boyfriend come along and stand right opposite to us at a distance. Both of them wanted to take a good 'look' at the girl but were a bit apprehensive because of the size of the boyfriend's biceps. Ta da!....the zoom function in my cameraphone was liberally used that evening.

Another thing is that people are not very shy to pose in front of cameraphones! Beats me why!
A testimony to this is the photos I have of Kanav and Reddy in varous stages of dressing up as 'Push-me-up Sen' and 'Munia'.

Have dozens of amazingly funny photos of my dear classmates snoozing happily in class, people caught in their very embarrassing moments, photo of a grasshopper doing pushups, photos of yellow teeth, utterly timepass pics taken during the munnar trip which would never have been taken using a normal camera, photos of my mom and dad and brother, photos of my friends doing funny faces, photo of a kannadiga woman helping herself to Go-muthram right from its source, photo of a very beatiful hand, nostalgic shots of hosur road taken while riding pillion on a bike on the way to office .....
But the best one todate is the pic of a tiny butterfly that I captured during one of my early morning walks in bangalore - a very beautiful green and yellow striped butterfuly all fresh and happy in its own world!

And more than anything it's 100% fun to have a cameraphone around. You know never know when you would want to take a photo!


Some interesting Dos and Donts given by Guardian's picture editor, Roger Tooth.

1. How to zoom?
Fill the viewing frame with your subject. If in doubt, go nearer

2. If you take a rude picture, don't send it to your parents by mistake

3. Don't breakdance and try to take pictures at the same time - this causes camera shake (THE BEST :P )

Thursday, November 18, 2004

B.L.A.C.K@Apsara

Feels real good having a strong coffee after watching the latest mallu flick
BLACK.

It's a Mammootty movie. This is one of the very few Mammootty movies that I would have compromised on to watch in big screen. Well, he is a good actor. But then I kind of don't like his movies...they tend to be quite serious or action oriented...or even if they aren't, he dominates the whole movie so much that it makes me sick!

So how did I end up going for BLACK?
Well actually I set out to watch a Mohanlal comedy flick called 'Mambazhakkalam' ....but Kerala State Govt decided that they need to have some service differentiation and had the second shows scheduled at 7:30pm rather than the usual 9:00pm, which these consumers were not aware of. So I had to make a choice between no movie or Mammootty movie.

On the spur of the moment I decided go for the bigger evil, and chose Black
:)

Reached the cinema and balcony was Housefull! Tried to chat up the ticket guy and after a lot of prodding he said he had 2 tickets available. But there was a problem, the seats were set at 90 degrees from the screen. I would have to actually strain my neck to watch the movie....well he didn't say that in so many words.....he just said that the seat is at 'an angle' to the screen and we thought what difference does an angle make....as long as it wasn't 180 degrees.......we bought the tickets. The show starts, we enter the hall and the gravity of the situation sinks in. There's no way we could have watched any movie in those seats. Wonder whose idea it was to put those seats there.

So we decide to watch the movie in 'thara'(first class). Ticket-counter-guy says he can't do anything about it but maybe the manager would be able to help us. We go to the manager and tell him about our problem. Would he please be a darling and demote our seats to FirstClass.
He says N-O, NO!. Distributor wouldn't agree..we'll have a loss of 50 bucks....u are too late...blah blah blah.
We say Please chetta... Perseverance finally won. He allowed us in. And we get to sit in the privileged front row :)
What a better place than this to watch an action packed movie!!!

Now some gyan about BLACK...
Cast: Mammootty, Rahman, Siddique, Shriya Reddy
Director: Ranjith
Producer: Lal


It is a story about 'Goondas' or the people who do not have proper identity or address but still form a part of life in the city. Shanmugham (Mammootty) is a money-lender and a police officer who doesn't wear khakhi and hardly goes to the Police station. And he has hajaar contacts in the right places. Rahman is the newly-joined SI who Mammootty has a soft spot for since he almost 'killed' Rahman's elder brother and that guy asks Mammootty to take care of his younger brother as his dying wish. Anandam (Shriya Reddy) is a Tamil girl whose iron-wala hubby is brutally killed by the police and finds solace in Shanmugham’s house as the little girl's friend. The little girl is the major (guessable) suspense in the story.

******People who want to see the movie don't read the next 2 paras********
The story starts off with action and continues with more action and ends with action + gore. No dearth for blood in this movie. As the movie proceeds, Rahman gets killed in a very dramatic or I can even say 'mind-blowing' scene by Siddique. That scene was full of panache and the monsoon rain really added to the dramatic effect. A local iron-wala is made the bakra and is charged for the murder. Poor thing dies after a lot of dishoom-dishoom by lots of well-fed pot-bellied and half naked police junta. In between there are the local pimps and the goondas leching at the iron-wala's wife, and the-trying-to-be-humorous-and-almost-succeeded accountant to add some spice into the story.

The next twist in the plot is when Mammootty realises that he has a duaghter in his old flame and that little girl is deaf and dumb. This makes him want to turn into a 'good' human being, that is something other than black. Get the connection now? He tries to reincarnate himself, but his already established gang don't agree to this and even goes to the extent of inviting 'quotations' (Goonda slang) for his murder. He realises they won't understand anything other than gun-talk and finishes each one of them smoothly and pushes off to Chennai with his brand-new-daughter and the iron-wala's wife (who I don't know whether will eventually be his wife or just a maid!)

Thats black!

Well I really enjoyed the movie. Not for the story....but for the way it's shot. Siddique, as usual, has done a terrific job. It was a pleasure watching him on screen. So was Rahman and his jhatkas :P
Maybe I like this movie so much because its been a long time since I watched a mallu movie and I would have liked anything mallu :P

Now that I seem to have started a trend, can't wait to watch the Mohanlal blockbuster Mambazhakkalam.

Wish these movies had subtitles......all my dear friends are missing out on all this fun and action!


Learnings from the evening and the movie

- Mammoootty wears brown, black and maroon lipsticks based on the scene.
Black for action scenes, brown for long dialogues or angry scenes and maroon for soft or romantic scenes :)

- I need to revise my mallu swear word vocabulary. Couldn't follow some of the dialogues which brought in great applause from the audiance.

- Action movies can be fun too.....especially if you are watching it from the 5th row from the front in thara....where you can actually make out which colour lipstick the hero is wearing and and also count the number of teeth fillings he has.

- Keralites...though not very good at customer service are slowly getting there. They just need to polish it a little bit. If it was in bangalore, the changing of tickets from balcony to first class wouldn't have been a problem. But then there wouldn't be such stupidly-positioned seats in the theatre in the first place.

- Some movies are better watched in the front row than the balcony. Like Manichithrathazhu, which got Shobana her National Award. Can't forget the 'Vidamatten' scene that almost made me pee in my skirt!

- Mallu movies desperately need some good-looking heroines.

- Mammootty looks just perfect in a Royal Enfield. Made for each other.

- Unlike Hindi movies, Mallu movies can be successful without a heroine and a dozen song and dance sequences.

- Once upon a time I had a crush on Rahman (the actor). He has become 10 times the man he was then...of course in size! :)

- My fav restaurant 'Rajadhani' is no more. Theres just a big vacuum in the place where it existed once majestically. Run by a Haajiyaar (which I think is a local term for an elder Muslim man), this place used to have very soothing old hindi songs playing in the background. Have some good memories at that place. This blog is dedicated to all those yummy 'noolappams' I have had from there.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Diwali@K

3:30 am: Heavy knocking on my door. Think for 10 seconds whether to open the door or to let them bang it down. Decide on the former thinking that living without a door would be painful, even for a day. Get up groggily, open the door a crack and see Motu standing there along with Kanika with a very sick (the sickest smile I have seen till date) smile on his face. Still trying to figure whether this is a dream (Oh but I hardly dream. What if this is my first dream ever....Oh no...Motu is the one featuring in my first dream? :( ) Slowly I realize that there are more people standing around. Then I thought maybe something bad has happened. But then why is everyone smiling. They look as if they are poised to do something. Just waiting for the right moment. I dared to go out. And then it happend.

Splash. Splash. Splish Splash. HAPPY DIWALI

Bucketful and mugfuls of 3-am cold water were blissfully sending shivers through my body. One second I was happily sleeping quite snug in my warm bed.....and then I find myself completely drenched and shivering. If looks could kill, I am sure I would be in for a minimum double death sentence. Oh that way I could have had a small meeting and discussion with Kanchi Acharya and talked about different ways to do a smooth murder, especially without using a cell-phone :P

7:00 am: Switch off the alarm. Happy that I have two alarms. One to get up ON time and then sleep again. Another one to get up IN time. (I hope I got the usage right)

7:30 am: Snooze the second alarm and fall back into bed for that nice feeling of lying in bed watching the sun-shine and the Sweedish joggers.

8:30 am: Get up and check email. 2 mails to reply to. Get back to bed for more morning-sleep.

9:30 am: Have to get up. Can't go sleeping whole day on a Diwali. Moreover busy day ahead.

10:15 am: Get dressed up for Diwali. Try to get in touch with my feminine self by applying a little bit of kaajal and bindi and wearing slightly bigger earings and Salwar. And people do notice! Missed my long hair today. Yummy corn flakes and poha as usual for breakfast.

10:30 am: Me and Vishy start to work on our IT paper for horizons. We make plans of finishing it off within a few hours and part.

11:20 am: Me watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S :)

11:30 am: Realise that I haven't done much for the paper and try to google some stuff that I can download straight to the paper.

11:45 am: Get this great respondent(read Friend) who gives me some inputs for the IT paper and also participates in my CATCH salt survery. The only problem was that he hadn't heard about CATCH salt. But I managed. Anyways I learnt that it's strictly Mummy says when it comes to buying salt for a 25-ish Software chap living with parents. Hmmm.....

12:30 PM: C hostel decides that it wants to watch a movie and it wants to do it right now! The obvious choide - Yash Chopra blockbuster Veer Zaara....it's got ShahRukhKhan, Priety Zinta and Rani Mukherjee. What more could one ask for. It's funny how fast the priority list can tumble upside down. Just a little bit of kajoling and I am first in the line.

2:30 pm: 6 girls in a jeep.
No not a movie name. We 6 girls set out to Crown cinema in a jeep.The journey becomes very painful when we get to know that the movie has already started. What's the point of watching the movie if you miss the dramatic Shah Rukh Khan entry!

3:00 PM: How to find an empty seat in a pitch dark cinema hall. That book definitely wouldnt sell if I write it. Finally find a seat somehow and tap the person sitting next to me and ask "Who's this?" I was just scared that maybe one of the 'calicut male' population was sitting there and would mistake me for his partner. But turns out it was just my friend who definitely cannot partner me in writing the book.

4:30 PM: Interval. Calculating my oppurtunity cost of NOT sleeping the afternoon and taking an apparently WRONG decision of coming for this movie. Too much math...give up the calculation. Some things are better left un-calculated.

5:00 PM: Suddenly remember the 'incident' I had witnessed in another cinema hall in Calicut. Check to see whether anything like that is happening in my immediate vicity. Negative. So far so good. All I can hear is Neeta giggling and commenting on a very dramatic scene in the movie. I am not alone.

5:40 PM: Happy to be outside the cinema. Journey back to the hill we 'owned'. Strategic discussion with senior girls on eligibile guys (if any left) in their batch and our batch. We all agree on the scarcity of 6ft specimens.

6:30 PM: Diwali day at K. Time to lit up candles and Diyas. Mess looks completely different with the Diyas and disco light.

7:00 PM: Puja starts off with the pujari mentioning that the tanthras are highly confidential and can't be chanted aloud. We had to be contended with his lip movements. Gaurav not happy with this and swears to do it himself for next Diwali puja. Good. That would reduce the costs also.

7:30 PM: Sandipan with the Swedes. Ofcourse!

7:45 PM: Time for some quick photo sessions. My big eyes and 'bobbed hair' and 'not wearing a sari' are the current topics of discussion. I thought we should be chating some mantras or atleast pretend to do so. I tried pretending then gave it up after I found that it was more fun to watch people pretending.

8:00 PM: Enough of Puja....time for dinner. Best part juicy sweet and sour apples. My favourites. 3 apples get lucky to see my innards. So did the two puris and the peda. And the pan.

8:30 PM: Timepass outside the canteen. And more timepass. And ofcourse more pics. And ofcourse the latest gossip. And yes, Malini and I do our bit for 'keeping the country clean and green'.

9:00 PM: Housie kicks off. Me lucky enough to get a free ticket, but unlucky enough not to win a single prize. Who wants to win anyways! I belive that the most important part of the games is participation and not winning...... ..... .....atleast I would believe this until I win something.

9:30 PM: More timepass before Crackers.

9:45 PM: shhhhhhhhhh boom booom bang dong pffffffffffff sssssshhhhhh
fireworks start off. Ofcourse nothing but phooljadi-sparklers for me! can u think of fireworks without these? No!

Diwali crackers Posted by Hello

10:15 PM: Just holding phooljadi can get boring. Decide to watch whatever action there is rather than trying to contribute my delta. I've already done my bit.

10:30 PM: Three casualities. Devroop dhar injured badly.....who was asked to go back to college after shaking the dust off from his 'burned' part.
Abhineet....who had a thumb fracture from the sound waves or shock waves. Talk of the college now. Shock waves are little naughty suckers. Or maybe Abhineet, you should not go around throwing balls at good girl's behinds. See this is what happens.
Sandipan......Both hands badly injured while he was trying to detonoate the biggest bomb. With another bomb safely tucked inside his pocket, which is what he offerred as consultation fees to the doctor. Well Sandy, was this a ploy to impress the Swedes? I am sorry, but I don't think they noticed.

10:45 PM: Some more timepass...this time the longest and most boring of it all.

11:00 PM: Kaapi and Dumb-C time in the night canteen. Thank god for Qaynat, acting out Qayamat is so easy.

12:00 AM: Check mail before falling off to sleep. The paper writing carried over to the next day. Set both the alarm clocks.

01:00 AM: Someone has kidnapped me. My mouth is gagged. Wake up with a part of the pillow inside my mouth. Damn. How did this happen!

03:00 AM: Someone's banging on my door again. No way am I falling for it today.
Not everyday is Diwali.

Monday, November 08, 2004

20Q

Bumped into another one of my ol' fav sites. 20Q.

The site says "The program is very simple but its behavior is complex". I donno why but it sounds funny.

This AI program is a simulation of the Twenty Questions game (which I used to play almost always during those powercuts in the evenings in Kerala). I would have taught this program half of what it knows during my initial 'bench' days at Wipro :P

Check out 20Q here. One warning though, it is pretty addictive. Already spent around 1 hour trying to beat this program and I did teach it a thing and two :)



I must be crazy fooling around right in the middle of our Midterms. But then the first one (Cost Accounting) was a real walk in the park and I am hoping that the rest of them would follow the pattern. Like VV says, 'Anything that begins well, ends well'
:P

Friday, November 05, 2004

AI

Artificial Intelligence has always caught my attention....right from the time I had this subject in my BTech 7th semster. My first encounter with AI was Eliza. The chatterbot that was created by MIT scientist Joseph Weizenbaum and named after Eliza Doolittle of My Fair Lady fame, it was designed to simulate a conversation between a psychooanalysis and a patient. Crappy versions (according to the creator and newer versions of Eliza is available here.
But mind you, Eliza is not that intelligent. I guess this was just a pet project and not much effort was put into perfecting this chatterbot.

But then the first thing I did when I heard about this from my Prof, was to look up how this thing exactly worked. I was a little disappointed when I came to know that it was nothing but a combo of a parser and a sentence matching program. But then later on I came across some newer versions which could actually learn from each chat. Now that was interesting.
Since then have spent so many nights chatting with Eliza and trying to see whether she had learnt something from me ;)

Had even tweaked her data file so that it would look like I was the one chatting on the other side.........sadly lost the whole tweaked version when my hard disk crashed.

There was another thing that I used to do with these....connect two chatterbots so that they talk to each other and I would just sit back and watch the word-war. It used to get really funny at times. :)
Well, 2 months of annual vacation really makes one do lots of stuff!

Eliza is not the only chatterbot around, there are many more like her. Even the Yahoo helper and AskJeeves are chatterbots. Now there seems to be a whole lot of chatterbots around. Check out this link to see Eliza's cousins. NannyB, RunABot (where you can create your own chatterbots), PandoraBots, Jack the Ripper, Yu sound promising. Wish I had some time to check them out.

Check out the lil chat I had with witty Shampage

SHAMpage: A penny for your thoughts; $20 to act it out.
GWBE: ha ha. you are just too much
SHAMpage: Sometimes there is no reason. Shit Happens.
GWBE: i think you are just talking randomnly
SHAMpage: Why do you say that, GWBE?
GWBE: becasue you are so stupid
SHAMpage: You're the one who's chatting with a stupid machine, GWBE!
GWBE: so you agree that you are stupid
SHAMpage: Why?
GWBE: u said that
SHAMpage: What am I DOING here???
GWBE: yeah tell me
SHAMpage: Me, me, me... do you live in front of your mirror?
GWBE: yes i do :)
SHAMpage: Yyes? Are you THAT easy?
GWBE: yes
SHAMpage: That's easy for you to say, GWBE.
GWBE: yes
SHAMpage: That's "si" to you. You're in South Florida now!
GWBE: thank you
SHAMpage: Any time...
GWBE: so tell me more
SHAMpage: Don't you have anything INTERESTING to talk about, GWBE?
GWBE: nope
SHAMpage: You're being contrary and obnoxious again.
GWBE: ha ha :)
SHAMpage: You think that's funny? Try looking in the mirror, GWBE!
GWBE: you are just too much
SHAMpage: No kidding!
GWBE: who is your bestfriend?
SHAMpage: Stop with the "Who" already! You sound like a freakin' owl!
GWBE: where is your best friend?
SHAMpage: In jail.
GWBE: what did he do?
SHAMpage: Like I care...



All these memories came flooding down on me when I read about this Computer Program that can predict the author's gender accurately. Since a machine learning technique is used, it learns everytime someone uses it and now the creator claims that it works 80% of the time. I would disagree and say that it works even better. Tried out with some of my friends writings and most of the predictions were correct, but then me and Neeta seem to have a masculine touch in our writing cause we were identified as male!!! I wonder what it will say if I try some writing by a homosexual person. hmmmmm I tried out Yash's writing......na, he was identified as a male. Maybe I should ask someone near Mananchira Square to write something so that I have a good sample :P

Anyways, the way it works is pretty simple. The basis this program is built upon is that 'men talk more about objects, and women more about relationships'. True? Am not very sure......
Patterns detected by the program include the use of pronouns, such as I, you, he, she, them (female) and words that identify and quantify nouns, like a, the, that, one, two (male). The software, developed by Moshe Koppel of Bar Ilan University in Israel, was designed to "identify the most prevalent fingerprints of gender." These words are given different weightages and the problem just scans how many times these words have been used by the author.
This program seems to have got it right. Check it out here and fall in love with AI.

But then I wonder what real life applications such a technology would have? Would someone ever want to buy such a thing?

Maybe Foreign universities which scrutinises students' applications and essays can use this as an additional check to find out whether it was written by a same sex person or even whether the person has tried to grossly change his/her way of writing.
Na...........doesnt sound very viable.

This can be used to check the gender of anonymous chat partners.
Now that may be an interesting use!
But then I guess these days people would be smart enough to talk like a girl, if they impersonate as one. But then, you never know.

Can even be used by profs at K to check whether the guys have copied any assignments from C hostel or vice versa.

And of course its a great way to catch someone's attention. Would do great as an Online Curio which is what it is today.

If you can think of some other use for this, do let me know.




Just found an answer, this would be a great use of chatterbots. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

OPUS04 & Rankings

OPUS '04

Another weekend gone by. Another Seminar. This time it was K's debut annual seminar of Operations and talks were mainly on SCM, Six sigma, Logisctics and dist management and blah blah blah.
Early sunday morning saw all of PGP I dressed up primly for the seminar. Though there were many speakers, the one that stole the prize of the day and was most talked about after the talk (maybe not for the right reasons) was the Key note address delivered by Commodore M.K. Murthy, Chairman & MD, Cochin Shipyard Ltd. A true retired army general, who looked his part perfectly, his talk as vibrant as he appeared to be.

Though he talked mostly about how principles and strict management and quality changed Cochin shipyard from a loss making company to a dividend paying one after he took over, what stole the show were the amazing idioms that he used. His comparison of the long list of problems at Cochin shipyard to Draupadi's sari and a tit-for-tat answer to a question on JIT that it works only in companies where you have a situation of In goes the pig and out comes the sausage! :P
He must have been a PJ king in his college days!
Looking back, I think thats one speech that I wont forget soon. It just reinforces the fact that "make your talk interesting and you are an instant success". Especially if you have a huge audiance of which the majority are not really
interested in the 'Operations' of things!
Had bought this book called '1000 anecdotes to make your presentation interesting'
from Blossooms in bangalore sometime before coming to K. Yet to read it.

My To do list counter increased by one.

What commodore reminded me was of the time, we (my family) had gone on a visit to Cochin Shipyard. Only thing I remember is the guided tour that we got of a passenger ship. Dammit dont remember anything more. From that day onwards I had fantasized umpteem times about a voyage in ship to a far far land.....and recently had even eyed one of the glossy ads in TOI about a Luxury cruiser.
When When When?! Too many unfulfilled wishes and here I am trying to figure out and
read for tomorrow's Quiz on FM. Though I kind of like the subject now, I still dread
the quizzes and Prof UD seems to just enjoy shooting quizzes now and then.

More on OPUS...........
The other speakers in the seminar were
Dr. N. Chandrashekharan, Senior Consultant CII and Head CIL.
According to him the five enablers for achieving excellence were leadership, policy & strategy, people, partnership and processes. He embedded examples from Amul, Britannia, BHEL and PNB as case studies during his talk.

Mr. Kumar Kandaswami, Director, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Private Limited
talked about the Global Benchmark Survey that Deloitte had undertaken last year
on companies around the world.

This was one talk that made me sit up and listen. Maybe because it was more structured and had some interesting results.
The survey done by Deloitte divided the pariticipating companies into 4 quadrants based on varying criteria and it explained how some companies are different from the others and stressed on the importance of Value chain synchronization in achieving operational excellence.

Mr. Sachin Bhatnagar, Manager - Commercial, Marico Industries Limited
He gave a very drab presentation of a real life case study on Marico. By this time I had almost lost interest and was trying to concentrate more on my growling stomach
than on the seminar. But I heard that his talk was actually good.

Mr. Jagdish Ramaswamy, Vice President, Quality Team, Wipro Technologies
Mr. Tapan Roy, CEO, TCI Logistics
Dr. A.H.Kalro former Director of IIMK


Since I dint attend the afternoon session (and am threatened to pay 500 bucks fine or no job for me in the final placements) due to MediaCell work (so am not paying the 500 bucks!!! PPPBbbbbbt) I dont know what the talks were about in the afternoon.

But another important talk was the one by our dear Director, Dr. Krishna Kumar. After his usual talk, he delved into the rankings issue, which he knew was the talk of the college after K's supposedly poor performance in all the rankings. He expressed his concern over the authenticity and the methodology of the rankings published by the leading magazines. He said that IIMK had not participated in any rankings because they believed that what was important was Education of Business and not business of education. I wish he would make some strong statements like this in the media.
Anyways I believe that rankings dont really matter to an extend. What are they other than just a ploy to increase the mag sales when the MBA aspirants are sure to buy all the copies even if they dont believe in the rankings. Most of them buy it not to be left out when the losers who actually go by the rankings buy all of them and discuss this. Peer pressure. Simple.
Even I had gone through all the rankings in ABC and YTR mags when I had to choose between the 3 offers that I had. But then I would say they hardly infuenced my choice. I agree 100% with our Diro when he says that What would matter is the brand ambassadors of K who go out into the world every year and not some numbers game.

One simple thing, if rankings are reliable, why the hell are they so different when done by different mags? And hello some of the names in the Top 10 weren't even there in the top 25 last year. So according to the critera used, did they go buy themselves a truckload of permanent faculty and another 10 truckloads of research papers and a skyscaper with all latest mumbo jumbo to add to the infrastructure of the institute?

Am sure those who are really intersted would be logical enough to do their own survey rather than going behind the bloated numbers game.

Long live common sense!






Saturday, October 30, 2004

2nd term in all its glory

Just finished Reading Five Point Someone. Anyone who is in some way connected with an engg college would like this book. Finished it off in one go. Its a good coffee-table book. A good gift to give someone studying in an engg college...or maybe not :P

Next in line to read Barbarians at the gate: the fall of RJR Nabisco
Supposed to be a real life novel in Finance. Reading this purely to the dramatic narration given by my Finance Prof. He gave such a good intro to the book that I feel if I dont read this I may be losing out on something good. Which I am sure he would agree with.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I want......


Posted by Hello

Check out the new iPod Photo here and here.

drool drool

Maybe I can save the summers stiped and give it a go.
Where there's a wish, there's a way :)

US votes......


Posted by Hello

Fitting, isnt it?

What would life be without cartoons? :D

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Munnar - land of tea gardens

It was a very wise decision when some of us girls at IIMK decided to spend a day and a night at Munnar - a well needed respite from the FMs and OMs and M in general!
There was a close tie between Munnar and Vayanad as our chosen destination but due to popular demand we decided to go to Munnar.

So it was on a usual busy evening when we had to submit the Company Track assignment
and the Indian Economic Indicators assignment that Pavithra, Neeta and Malini got down to the nitty gritties of the plan. Though initially only around 20 guys showed interest in accompanying us, once the D Day dawned, there were more people wanting to be part of the group. Finally we were a pack of 25 people all set to see how life was at a different Hill station in Kerala.

And different it was....here at K we have coconut grooves and there we saw tea gardens. Tea gardens all around! Nokkethadooram vare tea gardens!!!
Though I had been to Munnar once before, it was so long back that the only memories I had of that place were the Mattupetti garden, the huge healthy cows and the Research center where the man with the beard showed us bull-sperms through a microscope. And we thought it was those Keettanu that they show in the toothpaste commercials :P
Must have been in 4th or 5th then.

This time around, when we reached Munnar it was just past daybreak, the day was fresh. So was the hartal that was declared due to some murder. We proceeded to Munnar tourist home to freshen up and there we had another surprise waiting for us.

How to arrange for Breakfast for hungry and healthy 25 people!

And that too on a hartal day. All the restaurant had was 4 kutti puttu (cylinders of a rice preparation) and very few puris. The early ones, including me, got to have garam garam puttu. It was yummy without doubt.
But what about the rest 20? The manager of the restaurant told me that he cannot do anything about it. We struck a deal and he said that he will provide puri's in case we help him in the process!!! Ever heard of a restaurant where you go help them cook and serve the stuff and then pay for it through your nose!?
I did that on that day. I became a waitress-turned-budding-manager out of pure chance.

We somehow managed to finish our breakfast by noon(!) and proceeded to the Top Station. This meant around 1 hour of journey. But we didn't mind it since the way was flanked by breathtaking sceneries. More and more tea gardens, mountains hugged by clouds......the drizzle adding to the romantic beauty of the place. Sigh!

The next stop was Echopoint. Tried my best to get out a sound that would echo. But had to contend by hearing other people's voices getting echoed. Looks like whoever was there liked my voice so much that they didn't want to send it back :P
One thing I did not like about the place was the way it was slowly getting polluted.
Plastic covers and other waste and muck littered the entire place and nobody seemed to be bothered about it...that is, except me!
Munnar - tea gardens

Next stop was Top station....where under the guidance on Nitai we all set out on a small trek to the Kerala-TN border. (In school, I actually thought that the borders that we see in the map really existed between each states! :P ) There was this small gate on top of this mountain that separated Mallu land from Tallu land. I could actually sense Vishy and VV feeling so much at home the minute we crossed the gate! :D

Though the trek down the hill was quite enjoyable the same way uphill wasn't that memorable. It kept me wondering whether I was 24 or 42! I was literally panting and gasping for air every 10 steps up the hill :(
If it wasn't for VV who kept on cracking PJs till we reached the top and Nallari who gave me some good pushes from behind to increase the momentum, I would have taken the whole day to climb that hill!
On the top of the hill, Passion fruit was waiting for me.
When I was in Bangalore, living on my own, Passion fruit juice was something that I regularly had with my breakfast and dinner and which was always present in my refrigerator. Thanks to all those long list of food advices from my mom - especially since I was cooking on my own, juice was something which I couldn't resist buying during my weekly visit to Foodworld.
Coming back to Passion fruit, though I loved the juice, had no idea how the fruit looked like. And ta da, there it was at Top Station. It seems Passion fruits are once-in-5-years fruits and it stays fresh for 5 years!
Well, have kept one of the passion fruits safely in my suitcase to check whether it's still passionate after a year. :P

Munnar - wow!!

Next in the agenda was Lunch. Since breakfast was a disaster for many, nobody wanted to compromise on lunch. So we pre-ordered lunch at a small home-turned-restaurant in the middle of all those tea gardens and proceeded for Boating : The one thing that everyone had been waiting for. Especially the guys who were waiting to get into those vroom vroom speed boats. But alas...we only got the usual 20 seater boat, which took the smile away from some people's faces, but nevertheless everyone enjoyed the boating. What with half the people trying to capsize the boat and the others trying to neutralise their effects and the glimpse of peaceful-wild-elephants, boating was fun.
Lunch turned to be a near-fiasco with demand far more than the supply.

Important learning : While managing trips with 20+ people, better arrange for food well in advance and in good quantity especially if boys are the major chunk of the group.

By the time we finished lunch and got back to the city it was evening and everyone was tired of all the traveling. That's when we decided to snoop around the small town.

Got hold of these Yummy choclates made in Kodaikanal. Had about 3 packets of them non-stop! That is where everyone had this wild idea of buying these 10-rupee topis, which went on to playing a very crucial role in a drama that would unfold later in the trip.

After a small walk in the town and dinner at a swanky place with murals of angry Ganpathy, it was time to get back to the hotel for the party. Party saw a court martial of a case of 4 topis mediated by Reddy and Gagan. Got a bit boring towards the end. But it got me wondering whether we were studying PG or Pre-G!!!

A chilly night and the departure early morning ended the trip.

Maybe the most memorable things about the trip was the journey, the fun in the bus - DumbC and antakshari, the Gandh gang and the gangsta photo sessions, people falling asleep on each other and being photographed, couples being made and broken, Vishy finding his Guru and enlightening me about Losers over an asparagus soup, the gossip sessions in the bus, some of my North Indian friends actually enjoying a Mallu movie, Vishy and Nallari complaining about how difficult it is to get decent food in Kerala compared to all the Sharvanabhavans in TamilNadu and me trying to fight it out in vain, VV's self-obsessed photo sessions in the bus, Reddy and his undercover agents trying to get scoops for the newly born AbTakSabseTej- K's gossip paper, Gagan's instant to-die-for comedy, getting to know people more closely..........I am glad I went on this trip.

Take a look at some of the pics here.