Sunday, May 25, 2008

Musings of a Confused Mind

I love Marvin.

For those of you who have the annoying habit of jumping to wrong conclusions, Marvin is my Macbook Pro and not a guy.

Leopard rocks. Again, do not jump to conclusions, Leopard is the Mac Operating System.

The reason for this announcement is the discovery of google blogger widget for Mac. It allows me to blog directly from Marvin without logging into blogger directly. It just provides basic functionality for now but I am hoping it will get better.

Past few weeks have been tumultous (once again).Why can’t I have a normal 9-5 life? Because I would hate it. I prefer things to be like this and a tad unpredictable.

A change of job, change of environment, adjustment to the new place. Let’s just say that the Piscean in me is at its most dominant in such situations.

And the next few weeks are going to be hectic again. Loads of work other than the office stuff going on. Next few weeks are going to be something to look forward to.

The upper management at my new job takes training of the associates pretty seriously. I have seen people groan saying "Not one more session on oral communication or written communication". What most people do not realize is that no two training sessions are the same as the personality of the trainer makes it different for each session. And learning never stops.

Two training sessions stand out from the rest:

1. Influencing Techniques: I realized how much my mom uses them consciously or unconsciously. Just as an example:
Mom: Son, get married
Me: Mom no. I am still a kid.
Mom: Ok then atleast get a haircut.
That's what my mom does to get me a haircut whenever I go home. Classic example of Influencing Techniques.

2. Leadership Development
Now I have a different view point of leader from most people. I believe Leaders are either born or become so because of the circumstances. One cannot train a person to be a leader.

I have had a fascination with entrepreneurs for as long as I can remember. Again, entrepreneurs, leaders, managers are confusing concepts.

Entrepreneurs by definition make for bad managers. A leader need not be an entrepreneur but vice versa is not true.

But as regular readers (if any) of my blog know, I really do not like discussing serious stuff. People assume I am not well if I talk serious stuff.

The thing that made that training session stand apart was a story of making split second decisions and making tough decisions. A story of leaders in the army. The story was “The Rope” by Capt. Raghu Raman. In hindsight, calling it a story/case study etc seems demeaning. So I’ll refer to it as “The Rope”. One can find it here

I am not looking forward to being sued for copyright violation. So the disclaimer that no word of “The Rope” belongs to me. “The Rope” is sole property of Capt. Raghu Raman. I would have liked to have his permission to share “The Rope” on my blog but I could not find any contact details for him. In case, he sees this, I request him not to sue me as I am under a huge debt already.

Jumping to the next thing I want to write about. The most abused word in English Language. SORRY. Do anything, just say a sorry. Repeat it and say Sorry again. A cab driver hit my bike from behind on one signal and said “Sorry”. Next signal, he again does it and says “Sorry”. The food delivery boy to my place messes up my order every day and says “Sorry”. A dialogue from Mr India comes to my mind "Soon people will commit murders and say Sorry".

For those who are not interested in sports, anime or movies, the post ends. Please leave a comment so as to motivate me to continue blogging once in a while. That is if you want me to.

Real Madrid win La Liga for the second time in a row. Yipeeee. The team needs just a more GOOD defender (good bcoz RM just sign defenders and not good defenders) and one CONSISTENT creative midfielder (consistent because Guti is not. And no I do not want CR7. I want Diego).

Euro 2008 is about to begin. Again, I am supporting Spain (I love their style of football. But then again I also love the game of Arsenal who have been trophyless for a while now). However, I think Germany and Italy are the strongest contenders.

RR win IPL against all odds. Goes to show how important the Leader of a team is. Gr8 show. IPL is here to stay. Atleast, it gives something to watch other than the K-serials.

Watched Strangers & Indiana Jones over the weekend. Strangers is a good concept but Indian Directors have something against making fast paced thrillers. It is too slow & hence, not gripping. Indiana Jones is ok movie. Not really as gud as earlier Indiana Jones movies.

Loads and loads of movies to look forward to this summer. The Dark Knight (Anticipation is driving me crazy. Batman movie directed by Chris Nolan with Joker as the villain. Look for a post on Batman in some time), The Incredible Hulk (Ed Norton plays the Incredible Hulk), Wanted (Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman. Promos look really good) and Righteous Kill (Al Pacino & Robert De Niro together for only the second time in Indian movie history. Need I say more?).

Time to sign off. Next post on Batman in a fortnight.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Blogathon Day 1, Sunday April 20 2008: Infrastructure-How can we improve the traffic condition in our city?

The city in this case would be Bangalore-The IT Hub of India.Just to give you an idea of the traffic condition in Bangalore, everyone in Bangalore - the auto wallah, bikers, car users, company transport users & so on curses the traffic atleast once a day.

Traffic conditions are not just a well accepted excuse for being late but are also used extensively as an ice-breaker in discussions.In you are at a party, new to your company or a first timer in Bangalore,just walk up to any random group and say "Man what traffic !!".You would be accepted immediately as a fellow sufferer and a long heated discussion on Bangalore traffic would follow.The car owners will say bikers are at fault.Bikers would say the issue is with bus drivers and auto wallahs.Bus drivers and auto wallahs would pass the blame too. All this is apart from the usual grovel on condition of roads,one-ways,lack of a public transport etc.So as evident, traffic conditions form a huge chunk of conversations across the city.

Everyone knows what the Govt should do.They should provide nice,smooth,8 lane roads throughout Bangalore.Sorry not gonna happen in the near future.Public transport i.e. Metro would take a few years to get completely operational.

However I would say that instead of these long term projects, Govt can take a look at smaller issues to take care of the bigger picture e.g. Parking Space.The Govt should take a cue from the West and invest on building parking complexes.Say we have one such parking complex in the vicinity of MG Road. All the space on Brigade Road, Church Street etc that is currently being occupied as parking for vehicles would get free leading to widening of roads for traffic as well as reduction in traffic.Ofcourse this would mean that public would have to walk for some distance.I for one would not mind it and I think many others would not either. Most of the techies in B'lore could use the exercise anyway as they spend most of their time on their desks.

Better roads automatically result in smooth flow of traffic and less congestion. Now roads like Airport Road, 100 feet Road, Banerghatta Road etc are amongst the better roads in the city.The issue starts once you leave the main road for a side street.Here the citizens can take an initiative with societies pooling in money to build the 2-3 km roads.Or corporates can undertake it as CSR (I am not really sure if it would come under CSR but I am assuming that building better roads for the society can be considered CSR)

However,having better roads is just one part of the solution.Airport Road, Marathalli Bridge etc are areas that have good roads but are forever jammed.

Let me take an example.I used to go for work by the company cab.The cab had a capacity of about 15 people but on a normal day around 7-8 seats were occupied. Many people living in the same area would come to the office late by their own vehicle. Here I believe the willingness of the citizens with a little incentive from the Govt. can work miracles.If people are willing to use the company cab by going office an hour earlier than their usual time (& coming early too), the number of vehicles on the road would go down.One of the reasons why people prefer their own vehicles is the cost effect. In case, going by the company cab comes out to be more expensive than personal transport, people would prefer personal vehicles.Govt subsidy/tax cuts for companies operating their own transport would allow the company to cut the costs and pass on the benefits to its employees.

Traffic congestion is a given at the time of office hours.Hence it would really be beneficial if companies at can co-ordinate the cab timings amongst themselves.Lets take the example of Whitefields.If one-third of companies EOD is at 6, next one-thirds at 6:20 and the last one-third at 6:40 and similar timings for morning cabs, the number of vehicles on the road for those 20 minutes would reduce and so would the congestion.

Finally, the most in-vogue solution of the day-Car Pooling.A gr8 idea.For those who are not aware of the concept, car-pooling is basically a group of people with same/nearby offices can co-ordinate amongst themselves to go daily in a single vehicle.That would save costs for everyone of them, reduce fuel consumption and bring down the number of vehicles on road.However car-pooling is a bit tricky to implement because of lack of info.However, an online application might be the an online web portal dedicated to making lives better in Apartment Complexes is planning to come up an web interface for the same.Here I would like to add the disclaimer that the promoters of are my batchmates from IIT Roorkee.However this post is not motivated by any commercial interests or marketing gimmick.This is just being used as an example of how carpooling can be implemented.Following is a sample UI of the application being developed by

Similar applications or communities on social networking sites would go a long way in helping with car-pooling.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize the point that instead of looking at big solutions of a big problem, there might be a number of small solutions which can each make a little bit of difference.The overall result would surely be one step closer to solving the traffic problems of Bangalore.Howerver, most of the above mentioned solutions would need full support as well as initiative from the citizens as well.A dedicated group of people with maybe support from a NGO could do wonders for this.It is my sincere request that kindly let me know if anybody is aware of such NGO. Also, if there is a group of citizens working towards this or interested in working towards this, please count me in.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reservation Quotas

Back after a long time. Seems like a different life. There have been too many happenings, so many changes.

It took some introspection on my part to answer the question, "Why dont I blog regularly?". I like writing.I havent been blogging very often, so it cannot be a case of "Writer's Block".The no of people reading my blog has never affected me, so why?

Guess its in the nature of a Piscean not to be too open.Maybe because I had decided that this blog would not deal with social issues,computer games,anime so on & so forth.However, that condition no longer applies.So I am hoping to blog a lot more often (fingers crossed).

So what have I been upto lately.I quit my job(That's why the change of blog title).Not that I got another offer or something.I just wasnt finding it fulfilling enough and frankly speaking it had become very monotonous.It just felt right to end that association.So I am now jobless by choice and on a sabbatical trying to get my life into perspective.

But the best news of the past 1 year or maybe longer is that one of the things on my bucket list is taken care of. Actually three if you count "Attending a live Iron Maiden Concert" and "Finishing a Death-By-Chocolate ice-cream all by myself".Now only about a thousand more to go. But getting back to the third thing......

The third thing was getting a Macbook Pro.Yeah people, I am now the proud owner of Marvin i.e. my new Macbook Pro. For those who cannot make the connection, the name comes from the Paranoid Android in Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy.C3PO and R2D2 were also close runners but Marvin's dry humor and sarcasm is unmatched.

However, this post is not intended to be about me.But being the narcissist that I am, couldnt help mentioning the few most important things.

Reservation. The buzz word for the past 2 years.Ever since Arjun Singh proposed 27% reservation of OBC, the nation (atleast the youth) have been up in arms."Dilution of brands","Unfair treatment" etc etc are the reasons being given.

Lets get this thing clear first of all. A nation which differentiates between individuals on the basis of birth might never achieve the true greatness it is capable of .Ability should be the sole criteria on which a person should be judged.Anything else race,sex,birthplace etc etc just brings down the standards and nothing else.

Not to say that I am against reservation.It is a well known fact that a discrimination in terms of opportunities has been there.If some people have borne the brunt of this discrimination, they fully have the right to demand preferential treatment elsewhere.

But as always, a good idea doesnt necessarily translate into a good implementation.Reservation has steadily become a way of gaining votes.

If I m not too wrong, there was a 22.5% reservation for SC/ST candidates in JEE 2002. Add 27% reservation for OBC and you have 49.5% reservation in IITs(I might be wrong here so any corrections are appreciated).So only about half the people in IITs would be able to say that "I am here on my merit, nothing else"? Now being an IITian I can say that the biggest differentiator between IITs and rest of the engineering institutions in the country is JEE.With a selection of about 8000 people out of 250,000, the IITs can very well stake the claim to having the Crème de la crème of the country (There is a minority who do get through on pure luck e.g. yours truly but that debate is for another day).Tampering with the selection process is pure blasphemy.So how about free competition for selection.Once a candidate proves himself to be worthy of a seat in an IIT, he can be given whatever the Govt wants.Low fees, all books, scholarship anything.

But if the Govt wants to continue like this, I have one request. Can we please have a heading on the gradesheets as well as the final degree which states the category of the candidate? If a candidate has the guts to mark a small circle on the OMR in the entrance form, he should very well have the courage to stand up for his decision.Sounds fair?
I am ready to bet that no candidate under reserved category will agree. After all, it would hit their credentials that they did not compete fairly which would translate into less opportunities to go abroad for further education,reluctance on the part of Private recruiters, so on & so forth.
Ohh wait, but the Govt is contemplating reservation in Pvt Sector too.They do have the best of minorities at their hearts.Who cares about the majority anyway.

SC (One of the few places in the country where logic & good of the people seems to prevail) has passed the bill with a few reservations (Pun unintended). The creamy layer cant take benefit of reservations. Totally agree. If one generation in a family has made use of the reservations for their upliftment,it shouldnt be allowed to do so anymore.
No reservations in post graduation.Again, agree. Once a person has gotten into top college for graduation on the basis of reservation,he shouldnt be allowed to use it for post graduation but this is where the loopholes begin.IIMs do not offer a post graduate degree. They offer PGDM i.e. Post Graduate Diploma in Management which holds its own against any MBA.BUT Govt might be able to claim that IIMs give out diplomas & force them to accept the reservation too.Lets wait & watch on this.
One observation on the part of SC that had me laughing was that the no of communities under OBC has steadily gone up since independence.So either the Govt discovers new communities which they didnt know existed OR the whole "India Shining" is a sham while in reality India is steadily declining in terms of social equality.

The statistic that I would really like to know is the
(No of Selections in general category)/(No of people appearing in general category) and
(No of Selections in Reserved)/(No of people appearing in reserved category)
to get a clearer picture.

All said & done, reservation in its current format is flawed. There are students in IIT Roorkee planning a "No CAT 2008" campaign. People think its their loss.I beg to differ.Talent will come out on its own.It doesnt depend on the institute, conditions or the country.And they blame us for Brain Drain....

As a sign of respect to my readers, no football (& no its not because of the fact that Real Madrid is out of CL), no cricket (not because of India's horrible loss) and no anime (not because Itachi Sama is no longer with us. R.I.P. Itachi sama.U'll always be in our hearts.sniff sniff)

Disclaimer: Couldnt help the last para.After all such things do define my blog.Topic might be serious but I hate being serious for one whole post.If some of that stuff is Greek to you, I apologize for spoiling ur serious mood

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows: Unanswered Questions

Two of us, me & Shradz got together to discuss the unresolved questions in Harry Potter so far. Nice timepass. Here is the outcome of approx 4 hours of hard work.

The unanswered Questions:

1. The Horcruxes
Dumbledore says Voldemort would have 7 Horcruxes: 2 belonging to the founders of Hogwarts, 1 the diary in Chamber of Secrets, 2 that he has destroyed, 1 being Voldemort himself. That leaves 1 more.
Dumbledore mentions Nagini as being the last one. However, cant the last one be Harry? After all, Dumbledore did mention in Chamber of Secrets that Voldemort transferred some part of himself in Harry without intending to (that's how Harry became a parseltongue). If Harry is the last one, then he has to die to kill Voldemort.
Or could it be both Nagini & Harry? Nagini was present when Voldemort murders the servant in the opening chapter of Goblet of Fire. She can easily be a horcrux too.

2. Snape-Good or Evil
Snape murders Dumbledore in front of Harry. Surely that settles it. Snape is evil.
But is he?
Dumbledore, the gr8est wizard ever. Could he make such a big error of judgement? Everyone tells him not to trust Snape but he does. I dont think so.
Wht if Dumbledore knew that Harry will never become independent, never discover his true strength if he was there. Harry is too dependent upon Dumbledore? Add to it that killing Dumbledore would put to rest any issues with the loyalty of Snape towards the dark side.
Towards the end of Half Blood Prince- Dumbledore says "Severus, please" before Snape kills him. Now lets see hw tht is explained in Deathly Hallows

3. Harry Potter v/s LOTR: Is Wormtail to Harry Potter what Gollum is to LOTR
Its an open secret that Harry Potter is greatly influenced by LOTR.
Harry - Frodo, Ron - Sam, Dumbledore - Gandalf, Voldemort - Sauron, Death Eaters - Nazguls, Order of the Phoenix - The Fellowship
Now when Harry lets Peter Pettigrew go, Dumbledore says something like "Wormtail might do a great service to you someday" akin to Gandalf saying "Who knows, even Gollum might play a role in the quest". I suppose Wormtail is going to help Harry get Voldemort and maybe dying in the way.

4. Harry Potter v/s LOTR/Star Wars: Dumbledore/Sirius going to return
Gandalf comes back after dying
So does Obi Wan
Well does that mean one of Dumbledore & Sirius is going to come back? At the end of Harry Potter 5, Harry asks Nearly Headless Nick about how people can return as ghosts. Seems like an innocent conversation at the face of it but Harry Potter fans know that even a single, innocent meaning line can have hidden meanings. I think one of them is going to come back as a ghost to guide Harry.

5. Dumbledore's smirk in Goblet of Fire
At the end of Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore gives a smile when Harry tells him that Voldemort is more powerful as he used Harry's potter to regain power.Now why would Dumbledore smile on hearing tht? He should be terrified, stupified, petrified, mortified thinking of the repercussions of the Dark Lord being stronger than before. Was it just Harry's eyes, or Dumbledore being proud of his student for once or something else?

6. The Prophecy
Is there a catch in the prophecy somewhere? Something in the fine print?What if Neville is destined to kill Voldemort after all? I guess Neville is the character who is gonna die and would be responsible for downfall of the Dark Lord.

7. RAB
Who is RAB? Is he Dumbledore's brother? Or maybe Sirius' brother?

8. What's behind the veil in the Department of Mysteries?

9. Does Harry learn any unforgivable curses? Does Harry become a killer?

These are just the major questions. There is a lot of unanswered stuff.

Now I just love to make predictions. Most of them fall flat but that doesnt deter me. So here it goes:
- Harry doesnt die, Neville dies & is responsible for downfall of the Dark Lord. He becomes the hero & Harry can go on living a normal life.
- Sirius/Dumbledore make a return
- Peter Pettigrew plays a hand in the downfall of Lord Voldemort
- Snape turns out to be the good guy

Saturday, July 21. Morning 5 AM. My questions will be answered. Only Time will tell if I am eligible for the post of Divination Teacher at Hogwarts. Maybe I'll take Shradz too.

PS: Couldnt help the extremely cheesy ending.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Bose Effect

Last weekend, I ended up in the Bose showroom with my flatmate who wants a new set of earphones to go with his N91. Now while he was taking a look at his earphones, I just drifted around taking a look at various Bose products & making a mental catalogue of gadgets I wish to own someday.Sorry but this is also not what this post is about.
And I saw something that defied one of my childhood convictions. The poster said "Necessity is not the mother of all inventions". That got me thinking and I realized that what the poster said is true. I mean people didnt need bulbs or electricity, they were perfectly happy with candles & gas lanterns. Are cellphones a necessity or a luxury?
However, my inner self also had a counterview.To quote Akio Morita from "Made in Japan",
people are not aware of what technology is capable of. Its upto us to show them what technology can do
Most inventions start as items of luxury and become an integral part of our lives later on. 24/7 net access, google, wiki, youtube would be a few examples.
Guess like most things in life, this also is in grey. But I still think that most inventions come from ingenuity of the inventor rather than out of necessity.
About the usual stuff starting with cribbing about life in Bangalore.Well, I finally realized two things about Bangalore.
Its next to impossible to find an autorickshaw driver willing to take you to ur destination on the first try.
A movie ticket on a weekend can be flaunted as a status symbol
Ohh and turns out my flatmate was "settling" for Bose earphones. Now he is going for some 10k earphones. (& here I thot I was being extravagent by spending 1300/- on my earphones)