Skip to content

The power to pardon – The Hindu

April 18, 2013

The power to pardon – The Hindu.

Dispatch from Danforth

March 14, 2011

Neither I turned a Statesman and nor Danforth a prison. In fact, I am still pretty much the same old clueless guy and Danforth is the apartment where I am currently put up. An alliteration in the title was just too tempting, nothing more. 

Yeah, it’s official and after quite a long time (probably like an ice age) it had happened and I happened to set my foot in the US of A. My Father refused to believe that I had gone to America till I placed him an overseas call and all. He knows far too much that most of the times an IT guy’s travel plan remains a plan forever.  Damn him and his knowledge. Here I am! 

The Hostess at check in for BA in Chennai Airport asked me that I am travelling very light. It’s a business trip, I remarked. And she smiled. She was nice looking and all; with her one smile she changed the business trip instantly into a pleasure one. Now, don’t you read too much into that? Also I know they do it to all the people all the time. So cut me some slack will you? 

Lest I forget, I shall mention in the passing that we (I and a colleague) had a brief stopover was in Britain and all. You are allowed to pass here for a second and cry out aloud “Big deal! “.  Also I have heard that it’s an English propensity to remark about the Weather in general. Keeping that tradition, Weather in Heathrow was around zero degrees with clear sky, no snowfall, wind blowing at 3 mph and a visibility greater than 5 miles etc. If you spotted that I sneaked in British units then you are allowed to give yourself a pat on the back. 

We then landed in Boston our final destination and attended immigration proceedings, in a calm and composed manner befitting professionals. I actually wanted to jump up and down but PDE (public display of Emotions) is not allowed in Border Control, briefed our travel security back at the office. Stamped (in a positive connotation that is) by the immigration official we proceeded to catch our cab waiting for us in the third island.

The first thought that comes to my mind talking to people here is that will they ever get tired of asking people how are they doing? So much for articulation, I have not able to respond to that seemingly simple question clearly so far. To me it appears to be the most complex question that can ever be asked. If I had ever to tell truth for an answer then I would need all day and night to answer that. And the person who had asked that would regret for the rest of his life. Now I had learnt how to make a short reply that is expected.

Holding doors, right of way for pedestrians, no horns etc sounds pretty much insanely civil to me. But all of it happens here. And we are cooking our own food, doing the dishes, washing clothes (only ours), and disposing the garbage (again only ours.) Yet isn’t as awful as it sounds. It’s liberating experience if I can enthuse. It’s a short trip, or rather shortest by the normal standards. Yet, I hope to broaden my mind and learn a thing or two and all in this trip. A beauty in travelling is that one learns more about self than about the place. Hope it works!

TBC. Probably! 🙂

Paranoidal Activity

May 18, 2010

Normally, I do not err on the side of the caution.  I err on the side of paranoia. “Paranoia”, said the great Woody Allen, ” is knowing all the facts”.  When I err, I prefer to be on the side that knows the facts.  And, Paranoia is not such a bad thing after all.

My brother, when he was quite young going to school and all, practiced so many vocations in his spare time.  At one time point of time, he simultaneously was a Bicycle repair man, Vulcanizer of tires, Cassette recorder in a Musical Shop, Electrician, Plumber, Accountant, Collection agent, and a Field hand.  And I, the most trusted lieutenant, obligingly played a sidekick in most of his experiments.  Mind you, I could almost match him in whatever he does.  Except when it came to fixing an electrical appliance where I am a total nonstarter. My brother, a live-wire, always knew if  electrical supply is on or off.  I always knew by touching the live wire.  He was like a true Goldman Material. Neither warns, nor discloses!  This had often led to me directly receiving a grossly unfair share of electricity, which in comparison is more than what Mr Arcot had supplied to whole of TN throughout his tenure.  So much so that I dare not to change a blown fuse even after so many years now! I am so paranoid of electricity that if  Death wishes to electrocute me then it will turn out to be an Epic Fail.

Apart from Electricity, I am also paranoid about driving in traffic.  While riding my bike, I scan the rear view mirror every 6th second so much so that at times I have rammed straight into a vehicle in front. You see, the scanning helps to see if any moron want to kiss my behind. Surprise! For some strange reason, all of them want to do it!  (I have never read anything in my life that taught me something, nor do I intend to do so in future. An exception, however, is this blog where I had virtually learnt about driving. The Scanning technique is learnt by me from here.) If you think that all road users are out there because they want to reach somewhere, you are mistaken. All they want is to kill you. Do not argue. The moment you see someone at your rear then fly you fools or you shall not pass. Am sure that being Paranoid in road is what that keeps me alive.

Many other things make me feel paranoid too: Eating in office canteen; parking in park lots; buying a ticket from a MTC conductor; walking in a pavement; reading the ToI; watching Arnab G etc. The list is a work in progress. All of them seemingly normal activities but are extremely dangerous when you pay close attention. The Paranoia in me helps me to avoid undertaking these dangerous missions, and when cornered to do it, I always come out less scathed thanks to paranoia which triggers a proprietary superior responsive mechanism mitigating the disaster.

I am quite sure that I am not alone and paranoia is universal. For example, my room-mate is so paranoid about safety that sometimes he locks the bathroom with a massive padlock of a size typically used in temples-closed-due-to-parampara-enmity shown in Tamil movies. I am not sure what he wants to safeguard in our unkempt bathroom. Also you, my dears, just ask yourselves whether you are paranoid, too. If you don’t think you are paranoid, then by definition you are paranoid. If you think you are paranoid then you are paranoid, too.

Don’t just be plain cautious when you err.  Be paranoid because paranoid is new normal. To paraphrase Hunter Thompson: “There is no such thing as Paranoia, it is all true.”

Prejudiced and Proud.

April 26, 2010

To divest one’s self of some prejudices would be like taking off the skin to feel the better,” quipped Sir Fulke Greville. And I say, “Without prejudice, Mankind would not have progressed at all.”  I am not going bother with evidence to support my claim.  Am prejudiced, you see.  Evidence is a triviality for my kind.  I am going to share an anecdote, instead.

Our firm started recruiting after two years of uncertainty.  A resume was provided by our consultant for a vacant position. Interviews ensued. The Tech team was convinced, HR was happy, background verification positive, and the candidate accepted the offer.  A copybook recruitment – or so we thought!

Unbeknownst to us, fate was orchestrating a proceeding whose genre we later knew to be irony.  Firstly, the candidate belonged to Delhi and the firm is located in Chennai.  Secondly, our firm doesn’t provide onsite opportunities. (What an injustice. Workers of IT, arise!)  Thirdly, the candidate has two and a half years of work experience and the position open is for programming.  How in the IT field, such ‘vast’ experience can be wasted in programming and not focus on project management instead.  Fourthly, the candidate’s name contained amit in it.  Those who are not fans of KA and did not shudder after reading the name, see the definitions here.  Hearing the name, I realized then, at that precise moment, how exactly the story is going to end.

The very first day, when beloved amit  came into office, we had a pleasure of  receiving his friendly charitable comments on the food, weather, traffic and language patterns.  Suppressing my bestest of  smirks, I wagered a bet to a colleague that he will not last longer. He didn’t turn up from the next day.

Call me prejudiced.  But, isn’t life a prejudiced script, too?

The Apartment

March 2, 2010

You see, I have this little problem with my new apartment. Technically it’s not an apartment. A painted brick and cement structure may be. But the broker certified that it is one. Everyone you happen to meet in Chennai streets, when you are looking to rent a house, will be a broker. If you disprove this, I promise that I will give up my right to be a broker when you are walking in streets looking to rent a house.

I had stayed in my old apartment for four and half years now. The Owner of the house politely, very politely, informed us that he cannot rent his apartment for charity no longer. He selflessly announced a ‘nominal’ revision. Henceforth, we are to pay a monthly rent of Fifteen Thousand rupees instead of Ten Thousand rupees. He has done his homework. Dinamalar said that global economy is recovering. Who are we to dispute Dinamalar? We either pay or we vacate. We vacated.

And we moved on to our new apartment just across two streets. It’s a real nice apartment. Nothing fancy, but just right for bachelors. We stay in the First floor with the house owner in the ground floor. The Apartment comes with a ‘bouquet of benefits’ like those listed in your offer letters: Street parking facility; free swimming pool in rainy season; Neighbours who never sleep and so a secure area; a 24/7 bawling baby and a super singer in the next building and many more. And if you believe that my list is a total farce and they don’t make a bouquet of benefits then you probably never worked in an IT Company. My listing is better one.

There are two dogs in our apartment – a Mongrel and a Doberman. Johnnie, the Mongrel, needs no description. His humbly requested to use an ‘ie’ instead of ‘y’ when spelling his name. He apparently doesn’t believe in the saying ‘What’s in a name’. He is a gentleman’s gentle dog. The Doberman is named Ruby. Ruby, too, believes that everything’s in a name. He behaves like a ‘gem’ of a dog. He just eats, shoots and sleeps. We also have love birds in our apartment. It depresses me. No, it’s not because of me being single. Let me be clear: My progressive-liberal-broad mind and big heart yearns for freedom for those wings. I demand a call for action to abolish cages for all birds. Hand me down Nobel please. The birds and dogs never bath. I have decided to catch a cold forever.

This apartment is cheaper than our previous one. Good for us that the owner reads Murasoli and not Dinamalar. You are right. He belongs to the party. I am now a party man, too and I solemnly declare my approval to all Paarattu Vizhas. Beat it, dear Ajith. I strongly recommend you to take some rest to correct this ‘spine’ problem. The apartment is window less. Probably the builders believe more in the open source – the doors. Grit and dirt lay spread in front of the house as another apartment is coming up opposite. A garbage dump is located nearby, and it looks cleaner than most roads.

It might all sound like no problem. Probably there ain’t one. Probably I am just missing a home. I don’t know. I guess that’s the way it crumbles, apartmentwise.

The Missing Spark

February 1, 2010

What would you do if your Motorbike refuses to start, especially, when you had gone to an Engineering School and graduated in Mechanical Engineering with ‘distinction’ ?

I went to a Friend’s place over the weekend. It was a perfect Saturday: I had slept till 11 A.M, then tossed around and slept again till 2 P.M, ate three square meals in the afternoon, drank a nice cup of mixed fruit badam milk for just Rs 8 in the evening, watched television and generally did a lot of nothings. I, in fact, was so proud of accomplishing so many things a single day. I became hungry again and promptly went to my Friend’s place to see what’s cooking.

The Perfect day continued with puffed rice, Groundnut Sweets, Tea with milk(not Powder!), Dosas with three chutneys and playing Carrom Board in which I didn’t discriminate between my coins and opponents coins. I pocketed them all. Well, almost! And then the tragedy struck late night. My bike refused to start for my return trip. I had planned to do a lot of perfect activities for the next day, too. The Friend, having recently joined the gym, tried his might to do kick starting. Stubborn and unyielding, the bike let him know that he is solving a wrong problem and at this rate it wouldn’t matter even if he doubled his workout time as he is found lacking in the another department! After some time, us being Software Engineers (Where else would you expect a Mechanical Engineer to work? In Factories?), we changed the perspective: Borrow the Friend’s bike and continue the trip. Bingo!

The next day I returned to Friend’s place to deliberate on what might be issue with bike not starting. I told him that I had never studied Automobile Engineering in college and my elective was Computer Integrated Manufacturing. He told me that his was Computation Fluid Mechanics and I should not expect any expertise from him either. And we both had our spirits lifted when we remembered we got perfect 10’s in our respective electives. In case if you were wondering where we stood now, I work in COBOL and my friend in JAVA.

The Friend’s mom having specialized in our psychopathology suggested us to cut the non-sense and take the bike to the mechanic. We followed her advice and learned the following in the process: What to check if bike is not starting? How to check if Spark is not coming? How to check if Battery down? What liquid to fill in the battery? What we can do and cannot do without replacing battery? How to manage with a half battery? etc. Answers to all the above questions for just Rs 40.

Now, what would you do if your Motorbike refuses to start especially, when you had gone to an Engineering School and graduated in Mechanical Engineering with ‘distinction’. The answer is take it to the friendly neighborhood mechanic shop and then write about it in your blog.

Chick-Lit

January 16, 2010

A year has passed and pundits had analysed threadbare all the events that counted. But a seemingly innocuous event was missed in the counting. The event, ironically enough, has got to do with counting. Researchers discovered in 2009 that chickens can count. Indeed, folks, do count your chickens before they hatch. For once they hatch they are more mathematically capable than the omelette-loving-numerically-challenged majority human!

Our belief so far that chickens scratch the surface in search of food has proved us to be wanting. Chickens, in fact, were practising their craft of numbers. It is a matter of time researchers will discover that chickens can process even up to googolplex, a number most of us would not even knew existed!

The recent finding gives one jitters. We already know what knowing basic arithmetic could lead to. For instance, basic arithmetic knowledge will make chickens eligible for engineering admissions in T.N (One needs more than math to study liberal arts), work as IT Professionals (non voice, of course), invest in stock markets (and beat the investment bankers hands down), contest in elections (Coalition arithmetic involving ducks, promising that they will be declared backward will produce a winner). Now, the Chickens are also qualified to propose a plan or two to recover the world economy. Phew!

Now we should appreciate the one who first associated the number 65 with chicken is a visionary. He had probably understood the importance of numbers to the psyche of chickens. Sixty five it is believed is considered a sacred number for the chickens. Sixty-five which is being five more than sixty is said to be the only number which is also five less than seventy. No other number possesses this unique property. Sacrificing self for the sake of a chicken 65 is considered an honour in the Chickenstan. For this heroic deed, non-pecking hens await the martyrs in the paradise. Like all original meaningful conceptions this relation of chickens to number 65 was now severely distorted to a silly idea that it is just the number of chicken pieces occupying the plate.

Not just arithmetic but Chickens are philosophically matured, too, it appears. Poor chickens crossing the road were examined extensively and the literature runs into volumes rivaling Shakespearean. Taking offense of this unwarranted ridicule in the name of pun, chickens thus far had simply refused to submit to whims of human folks’ suggestion of crossing the road with a purpose. Why should one have a purpose for a simple matter like crossing the road? Chickens, the brave souls, never play to the gallery in spite of having a heart of chicken’s. Humans also amuse themselves with the egg vs. chicken questions. Chickens had promptly dismissed this as another ‘goosy’ behaviour and considered humans a bit immature and unworthy for knowing their ‘origin of species’. Elsewhere, the Geese association registered their protested for this imprudent comparison and highlighted their ability to fly in formations and mastery over aerodynamics contrasting this with human inability to drive saner irrespective of traffic conditions.

Having known thus far, it all now depends on the progress the researchers make in finding what other hidden mysteries that chickens possess which are concealed hitherto from human knowledge. The findings on cognitive abilities of one of the greatest and tastiest species ever cooked on earth, is considered as a game changer for both humans and chickens as well.