26 May, 2006

The Wonder Years!!

No, I’m not talking about that special period in my life. I’m talking about one of my favourite T.V, shows – The Wonder Years. The other one of course is’ Friends’. ‘Friends’ is one of those serials that made slapstick comedy really popular among people. It redefined cool. 6 people, 6 different personalities, and how crazy life can be is what this serial is about. But still you can’t really connect to a serial like ‘Friends’. After all we don’t come up with wisecracks every other word we speak a la Chandler Bing. Being stupid can be tough when u got someone like Joey. This is a great show, but these are not real people. That’s where ‘The Wonder Years’ is so different from ‘Friends’. These are real people and if you’ve had a fairly normal childhood, you’d probably be able to relate to just about everything in the serial. Its one of those perfect serials on adolescence and growing up. The show transports you to another world – the world of Kevin, Winnie, Paul. The world of puppy love, crushes, friendships, competition, silly quarrels, innocence, etc. The world where everything was so simple.

Anyway, I’ve been searching for episodes of this show on the Internet for a long time now. And finally I hit upon one of the episodes – ‘The Graduation’. For people who have not watched Friends before (shame on you), this is a story of a few friends in junior school, their life, love and their experiences of growing up. This episode is about the graduation day when they are to graduate to high school. It reminded me of so many things from my own life, that I had long forgotten. It reminded me of my last day at school. While on the one hand you were moving on to do (or at least you were supposed to) bigger things in life, on the other hand you were leaving behind all you friends, your teachers, you memories behind. And for me it was more of the latter. While all of us were trying to make it look like we were happy that we were done with school, deep within I guess there was this sadness knowing that we’ll probably never see a lot people again, never get to share our lunches, bunk classes, cycle home with friends, shout for a ‘free period’, cycle down to your friends, come back home by 4 and watch TV. No more excuses for your mistakes. Life sure was moving on, and very suddenly.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a few dialogues from this episode,

- “It was time to move on. Time to bid goodbye to old times.”

- “I didn’t feel like graduating. I felt more like shooting hoops.”

- “I went for a walk. Traveled streets I’d long known, long ago, when life was simple.”

- “I guess that’s when I knew, the old days were gone. Things had changed and they were never going to be the same again.”

- “The world I knew had changed.”

- “The future is rushing at us. And we in turn stand ready. Therefore as we stand here at the end of one journey and the beginning of another, lets make a bond. To never forget our time at our junior high. And to never forget the friends we made here.

- The past is kind of a blur. What I remember is green yards, sprinklers, the smell of backyard rose…..”

I guess I was after all talking about that special period of my life.

21 May, 2006

Just another Sunday? Well, not exactly.

It was one of those lazy Sunday’s and I was sitting by my house door. You never know - your neighbour might just have some interesting friends. And when that happens you don’t want to be listening to Dean Jones giving us a probability (which of course is calculated based on a highly advanced formula taking into account everything from the loudness of the Barmy army to Dhoni’s present hairstyle) of India winning their match (which never seems to go below 50. After all you don’t say on NDTV that India is going to lose the match).

Okay, enough of my rambling. So, here I was sitting by my door, waiting for someone interesting to pass by. Well, someone interesting did pass by. Just that that’s not exactly the ‘interesting’ I meant. These were two huge policemen, and they were having a chat with my watchman. And btw, these were not the ordinary constable kinds with a lathi in their hands and a belly which would give any pregnant lady a run for her money. These were guys with a holster and a mean look. I don’t know why, but the police always give me the creeps. Its just that if they’re there, there must be some trouble somewhere. So, here these guys were making some kind of enquiries with my watchman while I began to think of a hundred reasons why these guys could be here. Did one of my neighbours get robbed? Did the only cute looking girl in block run away with her boyfriend? While I was busy thinking up of all possibilities, my watchman suddenly begins to point his finger towards my house. What?? Whatr u doing u crazy man? Point the other way!! Anyway, too late. Damage done. So, based on some secret information given by my watchman, these guys begin to walk towards my house. What did u do Nikhil? Think…Think…. Was it for the time when I was 10 and beat up a guy black-and-blue because he didn’t agree that I just couldn’t be out in cricket. Oh but that was quite a while ago. It must be something recent. Or was it….. Oops time up. The police is at my door.

Braving myself for any consequence, I go up to the door with a big smile, hoping that it might win me some sympathy with them. Anyway, what followed was an anti-climax. One of them asks me for Chandrashekhar. Aah… so the culprit is Chandrashekhar is it?? That’s when I remember that they’re looking for the previous occupants of the house. Reason? Some minister’s son’s wedding and they had come to distribute invitations. And this Chandrashekhar happens to be a famous musician. Anyway, I just felt sorry for those policemen. These guys are supposed to be catching criminals and setting the society straight, but here they were distributing invitations for their boss. No wonder crimes are aplenty. And why wouldn’t they be? There seems to be enough ‘other work’ for the police to do. More than anything else this is a job of respect, a job one can be proud of. No more it seems.

18 May, 2006

Of quotas and protests....

Its been 16 years since Mandal happened and a person named Rajeev Goswami set himself on fire. For a long time, people forgot about all of that. It was a thing of the past. No more…. Looks like the ghost of the Mandal commission is back to haunt us again. The media is all over the place. They’ve got enough to fill their prime time slots and weekend specials. But hey…. Some things have changed… This time the protests are very much toned down and seem to be happening mainly among the doctors and mainly in the north. So, what’s happening? Are people not bothered anymore? Have people just lost hope in protests? Decided to accept what life, or rather the government gives them? Well, I don’t have answers to these questions. But I do have answers to a few others.

Along with this debate on the quota issue, there’s this parallel debate going on whether doctors should go on a strike at all, since in this profession absence means a matter of life and death. It’s okay if the postal dept strikes, its okay for the bus drivers to strike, its okay for the bankers to strike, its even okay for the municipal workers to strike, but doctors? It’s a strict no no. So, how does one show dissent? Wear black bands to hospitals? Oh yeah, like the government really cares about the band that you’ve worn on your arm.

So, on one side we accept that their reason for striking is justified but on the other hand we also say that they dare not strike. Aren’t we contradicting ourselves? So, what is the solution to this? Well, you know what!! For all those of you who support their cause, but feel the doctors should not protest, must protest on their behalf. Why is that only a doctor must protest. It could be anyone. If you believe in the cause, you should take it up on their behalf. More so, because it’s a profession which we feel must not protest. And later when u have a dozen kids, lets not complain about reservation and quotas. This is the time to act, make yourself heard – for the past and for the future.

12 May, 2006

Google Trends

One more product from the Google stable (so what’s new huh..??). This one is called Google Trends. You really got to give it to them though. Every once in a while they come up with some of the most interesting products.

So, what does this one do? This gives you a graph showing the number of users who have searched on a particular topic over a period of time. Say, for instance I search for Harry Potter from 2004 till today, I’ll get a graph showing how the search pattern has varied over time. So, just before a book release you can expect some tall peaks. You can also compare one search item against another (or how many ever), in which case you’ll have two (or more) lines on your graph. Not only that, you can also search by region/language/cities (U.S. cities).

Now, what’s really interesting about this product was that it has something in it for everyone. If you’re an analyst looking for trends or comparisons, this is just what you want. Or if you’re jobless, and have little else to do, you’ll really love this.

Here are a few comparisons that I did.

Wipro(Blue) vs. Infy(red)

Wipro(blue) vs. Infosys(Red)

Looks like a lot of people still prefer typing the longer and more official version (btw, these are search results within India). And, if you don't see the Red line in the first graph, thats because, there's not enough volume to show on a graph. Anyway not much of a comparison between these two, although when you put in TCS and CTS, you'll see some real difference.

Kamal(Red) vs. Rajini(Blue)

Here’s a comparison between Rajani and Kamal. Surprise, surprise…. Kamal’s way ahead of Rajini as far as he searches go (and mind you, the results don’t change a lot even if you substitute Superstar for Rajini). So go on, make your own comparisons, whatever be ur reasons.

08 May, 2006

My experiments with truth – Pondicherry

The entire week from Monday to Friday, all you do is pray for Saturday and then on Friday all of a sudden you realize that you have nothing to do. This weekend seemed to be starting off on a similar note for me….

Before you read any further, let me warn you: “Don’t read too much into the title”. I sure had a good reason for it, but I don’t seem to remember it now.

(contd from first para)
……….. until some friends of mine call me on a trip to Pondy. Aah Pondy – the abode of Sri Aurobindo, the city of French and Portuguese architectural marvels and Auroville. Oh, and you get your booze a lot cheaper here. So, off we head in our thirst for salvation and a lot of other things that can quench your thirst.


Initial plan: Start by 8:30 or so.
Revised plans: Start by 11
Actual start time: 12 noon (thankfully we were traveling by car).

The drive was a little more than 2 hrs, during which I had to put up with what one Mr Snoop Dogg(one of the more popular rappers in the world) had to say about life in general (listening to him you get the feeling that he was sure pissed off with a lot of things). Anyway, my pal Aravind is one of their most loyal fans and thanks to him we good an opportunity to listen to Mr Snoop. For a long time after we saw the “Welcome to Pondicherry” board, all that we saw were some huts on either side of the road. After some searching, we finally managed to locate the Tourism Development office.

Anyway, after a quick lunch (If you ever come here, make it a point to try out the continental/Italian dishes here. They have a very good variety. Great food at very nominal prices), we head to the museum. Its a small and a dilapidated building (with hardly anything worth a mention.), and we were more than happy to get out asap. We then headed to Aurobindo ashram. It’s a real calm place with a book section(but little else). Next stop was at the boating center. Once before when I had gone for this, the boatman took us to one of those private beaches (these beaches are very clean and the water around them a good shade of blue with some huts and a volleyball net), but this time we had the boat to ourselves for half and hour. The boat seemed to have made up its mind to not move, and so we were left covering a very short distance in the half hour.

Next in plan was to find a place to stay overnight and check out this shopping mall called ‘Casablanca’. After a little searching about, we found ourselves accommodation. And then decided to head to Casablanca by foot (If you’re looking to explore a place, try to walk, whenever possible. You real get a good feel of a place on a walk.) The main shopping center is very crowded (and very different from the calm in the other part of the city). The city is divided into two halves – the French and the Portuguese with the difference visible in the architectures. At around 8:30, we go for dinner. No booze around in any of the hotels, since it was election time. The liquor capital of India – and look at our timing. Although I wasn’t there when it happened, I can guess as to how the conversation between Aravind and the waiter would’ve gone.

Aravind: One whiskey.
Waiter: Sorry saar, not available. Election time.
Aravind: One beer.
Waiter: Sorry saar, not available. Election time.
Aravind: Aaarghh….Life’s not worth living. Get me some poison.
Waiter: Sorry saar, not available. Election time.
Aravind: #%^&@%#^@

Anyway, with nothing much to do, we head to the rocky beach. It’s a great feeling to be lying on the beach late into the night with the starts above you. We finally retreat to our room by 12. Next day we start by 6 in the morning and reach home by around 8. A nice trip. A good weekend getaway and some great food.

05 May, 2006

Why I love being a software professional

- How many industries give u the luxury of being in the free pool (aka ‘The bench’) every once in a while, so all you need to do is swipe in and swipe out(and if ur smart, sometimes you can do away with that too).

- You can get all the free coffee you want. Ok, so its not all that great, but hey when its free, who cares. In addition, you can get printouts of your favourite novels, get your driving license photocopied, and bring home stationary too.

- With a 100 Mbps internet connection, you don’t need to wait for ages to check out all the latest movies or all those ‘interesting’ forums which would otherwise take a long time with your dial-up connection from home.

- With the kind of attrition rate that our Indian IT companies are having, you can be assured of a lunch/dinner farewell treat at least once a week.

- You get to visit different countries at the client’s expense to develop applications which were never really needed in the first place.

- You don’t need to be in office on time (anyway, you’re going to compensate for it by staying back late into the night). Of course it helps if u live close-by and have a vehicle of you own and have an attractive pillion rider too (now that’s taking ur imagination too far).

Why I don’t particularly enjoy being a software professional

- U need to sit on the damm chair from morning to evening (to night), constantly worrying about how well rounded some parts of your body might become.

- You just can’t take a leave if ur feeling lazy to get up one day or if there’s an interesting cricket match happening that day. Everyone has a boss, who’ll probably be pissed off that he’s not able to watch the match thanks to his boss, and this just goes on. .

- Come March, and you suddenly need to come face to face with a lot of terms like GRPALL, PF, etc, which finally you have no idea of and realize there’s no point even trying and that its best to give ur alary to the govt for that month.

- Every once in a while you wonder about how less you get paid for working(read emailing and being on messenger and looking at your code at times) for hours beyond the mandatory 9.5 hrs.

- You begin to feel like some kind of a dustbin, when all kinds of irrelevant mail(from Group announcements to Online dating services) lands up in ur inbox, and u need to Sht+Del every once in a while.

- When every once in a while you get stuck trying to debug your code for hours together, only to find that you typed ‘forr’ instead of ‘for’.

To follow: "Why I love being a softare profeswsional"

02 May, 2006

The name’s Khan – Aamir Khan

Actors come and actors go,
Some who fade and some who grow,
And there are some u can’t ignore,
These are the ones the world will know.

Ok, so its just a couple of rhyming lines. But hey, its my first ever poem, and its dedicated to one of the all time greats – Aamir Hussain Khan a.k.a. Aamir Khan (from one great to another). After seeing him in movies like DCH and RDB, you trend feel a little old yourself(more so if u’ve come from a college like mine).

He’s one of those actors whom you can really relate to. Take SRK for instance. As an actor he is really good, but in real life how many people actually bring out so many expressions every moment. He’s very good at acting. But sometimes that becomes a problem in itself. And when compared to Salmaan Khan, thankfully he doesn’t have all those biceps(giving hope to mere mortals like us), and so doesn’t need to pull out his shirt once in a while. And more importantly he doesn’t share Salmaan’s sense of humour. Anyway, just wanted to bring out the differences b/n the Khan’s.

This guy is also such a bloody professional. From growing his hair and moustache for Mangal Pandey to actually getting drunk for a scene in Raja Hindustani, in spite of not drinking in real life (the only other actor who would probably do such stuff would be Kamal. Now that’s another story really). U might also recollect the controversy with Gracy Singh, where in one of the post release interviews she began complaining that Aamir made her work too hard(I think that was a first in Bollywood).

Anyway, he is not one of those dumb actors who looks good in front of the camera, and looks a dud otherwise. And with his latest stance on the Narmada issue, he’s gone where very few other Bollywood actors have. I think he was quite inspired after RDB, although I thought the movie failed to give a good solution. Anyway, its good that he took a stance on what he believed in. And for those who say that this was a publicity gimmick, gimme a break. Aamir has never done anything like this before and wouldn’t need to do it either(what with fans like me). So many Hollywood stars come out in support of / oppose causes. Noone finds that suspicious??

Well, then again I probably wouldn’t want to see Aamir romancing around in a Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or bathing in a tub with ‘Lux’ (better to let the professionals a.k.a. SRK do that) or shouting ‘Kutte main tera khoon pee jaoonga’ and Sunny ishtyle. Aamir is fine the way he is. Just another normal guy.

Here are some of his movies that I just couldn’t get enough of.

Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
Dil Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar
Andaz Apna Apna
Akele Hum Akele Tum
Dil Chahta Hai
Rang De Basanti

And here are some I wish he hadn' acted in

Raja Hindustani
Aatank Ki Aatank(now how many of you have heard of this movie?)

And here’s some trivia about him (courtsey Wikipedia):

- Was offered Shahrukh Khan’s role in Darr but turned it down(now that would’ve been interesting)
- Accepts only National Film Awards; refuses to show up at any other of the many movie award ceremonies, such as the Filmfare Awards show.
- And finally, he’s coming out with a film with Mani Ratnam in 2007. This will be a comedy, Ishq ishtyle.

01 May, 2006

Darna Zaroori hai??

After a disastrous first blog, which thankfully very few people knew of, here I am with my second attempt. Hopefully, this will last longer than the first one. For want of a better idea, I’m going to start off with a film review – Darna Zaroori Hai. This is one of those films that has been long awaited and quite surprisingly the pre-launch publicity has been very low-key. Just makes one wonder if the producers knew what was coming. Anyway, coming from the Ram Gopal Verma factory, one tends to expect a lot.

Oh btw, I hate spooky films. I have seen a total of 3 horror movies in theatres(that is if u include an animal movie with a rhino and some kids and some gangsters and some eerire music, which I saw when I was in second class. This film for some strange reason scared the shit out of me and couldn’t sleep properly for many days after). And so, full of resolve to change things I head to Satyam theatre with a friend in tow.

The movie starts with the scene of a person watching Darna Mana Hai in the theatre, cussing all along. And then after the movie, as he walks through the graveyard, he begins to get the feeling that someone is following him. Just when u think that this scene is fallig in line with the clich├ęd horror movie scenes(what with all those spooky sounds, and the sounds of bracelets and wind rustling), ur in for a surprise. There was quite a nice twist here. This scene would probably fit into one of those ‘Scary Movie’ sequels. Anyway this was just the intro scene. The actual story has not started yet.

The story starts with a group of 5 kids, who’ve come on a picnic, wandering into the forest. They keep wandering till its totally dark and spooky all around(Me wonders what kind of 10 yr old kids do that). Anyway, they chance upon an old bungalow(just like in those old movies) and chance upon a weird looking grandmother who challenges one of the kids that she could scare the shit out of them. And that’s where the stories begin. The first is the story of Amitabh and Ritesh Deshmukh. The scare factor in this episode is totally because of the sounds. This one is directed by RGV himself. Nothing much of a story here and the audience is left a little confused in the end. The second episode has Arjun Rampal, Bips and Makarand Deshpande(The mystic in ‘Swades’). This was among the better episodes, but its quite predictable, esp if one has seen Darna Mana Hai. If you haven’t, then its definitely worth it.

The third episode has Suniel Shetty, Sonali Kulkarni and Rajpal Yadav. This has to be the worst episode. One keeps expecting something to happen till the end, but its just in vain - a damp squib. Its supposed to be similar to the Saif episode in DMH, but is nowhere as interesting. The forth episode features Mallika and Anil Kapoor. Its sad to see Mallika all covered up for a change. Anyway, this was another interesting episode. Its one of those ending which has one of two possible conclusions. Its just a matter of guessing the right one. Nicely done. The last oe featuring Randeep Hooda(The ‘D’ guy) is a direct pick from Gothika(or so my friend says). Well, at the end of this movie, if ur expecting to get spooked out, just forget it. If I didn’t, you definitely wouldn’t. How does it compare with DMH? Not half as good as DMH. It has a good intro and 2 good episodes. But the other episodes just pull the movie down. And the ending especially was unwarranted. Not a movie for the thrill seekers. With a movie like this Darna Zaroori Nahi hai.