War, not libido's the villain

'Nothing is good or bad in this world, our thinking makes it so'

We've known each other from kindergarten,did all 13 years of schooling together and swear that we're best chums. When we parted ways to pursue our own careers, a good 5 years ago, Aj came up with the idea of an e-group. And thus started radclass.After five years,41 members and over 1000 messages, we still havent come to a concensus on what qualifies as an acceptable message. For a group which swears by post liberal ideas, its a sensitive and volatile issue. The latest episode sparked strong reactions and arguments from both sides. The story goes like this. There's this friend of ours studying in one of the top medical college in the country. His mails are candid, open to the core and filled with inscrutible medical jargon that at times all of us find it difficult to connect with his messages. But his last two messages evoked strong reactions from almost everyone from the group. He mailed in raw malayalam about a sudden bout of testosterone drive and further 'physical repurcursions' over few 'hot' foreign exchange students on campus, which was truly yellow paper stuff in language and well...bit uneasy to read!. That was it. Protest mails poured in. One called them 'filthy', another fellow medicine student appealed to him to keep his personal fantasies to himself, a software geek even suggested pre-screening of mails.Well, it was all high drama and our doctor in the making was one who fought to the core. His reply left me thinking. Who decides on what is acceptable and what is filthy? Well, with his permission, I am posting his reply here. The true caveat are the last four lines, truly insightful.

sorry about the pain i caused to the holier-than-me
faction of radclass. i live in a raunchy world, do
raunchy work, which if taken non-professionally, is
really below the belt...so pardon me if i reproduce
some modifications of "ayal kadhayezhudukayanu"...
LITERATURE! You shouldve listened!

At one point things stop sounding kinky anymore, its
stuff u deal with everyday! I mean, nobody out there
has ever tried explining things to a couple of parents
who bring their 13 year old daughter who just hit
puberty with back pain and vomiting and she turns out
to be a pregnant teen have you? or tried councellina a
guy who gulped down a bottle of Harpic coz he couldnt
handle the pain his wifes death? Or dealt with a
family who begs at ur feet to put and end to their
miserable fathers life coz they cant bear to stand and
watch him suffer slowwly? Or have any of you come
across a 40 year old married man who comes some exotic
disease he caught because he's been having sex with
his dog for 4 years? welcome to my world!
this is not something which happened in some vague
corner of scandinavia, this is in India, in Tamil
Nadu, in Vellore, in my cubicle! and this happens to
be an extremely orthodox Muslim dominated area... and
its not just here, it's everywhere, in karnataka, in
bihar, in nepal, in west bengal, in orissa, in andhra
pradesh, in bangladesh...i dont see the finer aspects
of life in a design studio, i see a raw world which
somewhere along the line has stopped disgusting me...
its not just sex, its riots, communal violence,
gunshots which blow intestines out, hardships of
life... the so-called "filth" is the lighter side of

any takers for missionary work? in Bihar maybe?

Truly, my friend you do have a strong point there....'the so called filth is the lighter side of life'.


Petrol's not going to be cheap anymore!

After 7 long months of deliberations, the Central government raised the prices of petrol and diesel by 2.5 Rs./- and 2.0 Rs./- respectively. The whole country seems to have gone in to tribulations over that. Many political parties have come openly against the government while the people themselves are raising their voice against this move. The common sentiment seems to be that ' the price hike is a gross injustice and a heavy burden on the purse of the public'.
But it has to be realised that the price hike was necessary and imminent and any responsible government cold not have walked away from that decision. Sometimes good economics come directly in confrontation with popular politics and the former suffers. When prices were last hiked in november, the world crude oil prices were nearly 35$/barrel, but over the past 7 months it has jumped manyfold to close to 59$/barrel and how long can the Petroleum marketing companies suffer losses? The hike has to be shared to an extend by the consumer also. There has been an argument that the oil companies are the largest profit making companies in the country and thus they can take this eating up of their bottomline. But it has to be remembered that it is from this same profit that these oil companies make huge investments every year to increase the energy security of the country. Moreover, the dividend paid by the oil companies form a significant part of the non-tax revenue of the government.
Thus the price hike was an inevitable move and it is high time that the consumers realised that the age of cheap fuel is over. A strong supply constraint is eminent in the oil sector and that will only spiral the crude oil price to the 100$ mark as predicted by Goldman Sachs.

Left Wrong Left

Left is not right. That holds atleast for Kerala.Even in the midst of the startling victory of the left parties in the municipal elections of Kolkata, there is a general animosity towards the Left parties in Kerala. Atleast among people who believe that Kerala has the potential to be an economic superpower, but has lagged behind due to archaic social and political overtures. The remnants of an anachronistic socialistic mindset continues to haunt the state, where the policy of the Left seems to be to stall anything even distinctly progressive. I was left flabbergasted reading the insane attitude of the party towards the infusion of technology in kerala.
In the 1960's they protested against the use of tractor in farming as they claimed that it would lead to loss of job and was thus a 'capitalist's' ploy to exploit labour and accrue profit. Weirdly the same party let out vociferous protests against the computerisation of government offices, citing reasons of job loss. They even claimed that radiations from the monitor would lead to serious ailments including birth defects! Their other popular struggles include movements against mechanisation of farming, mechanisation of the coir industry and movement against privatisation of education.
The paradox of kerala is all too evident. Hailed as having social standards comparable to the developed world (with high literacy, low infant mortality, almost nil population growth, excellent medical care facilites etc.), the state remains to be one of the least industrialised in the country. Trade unionism is at it's fiery best here. Common lore goes that the red flag comes up the very next day a factory is started in kerala. Many investors have preferred closing their establishments rather than fighting it out with the trade unions and continuing investing money.
The latest controversy is regarding the establishment of an IT park in Ernakulam by the Dubai Internet City authorities. The left says that the project is mired in controversy and that the government is giving away prime land to the foreign company. A hug investment potential in the state hangs in mid air. The project will generate about 30,000 jobs and will give a fillip to the economy of the state.
Two days back, normal life was disrupted due to a 'hartal' called by the BJP to protest against the petrol and diesel price hike. Interestingly Kerala was the only state to go on a total hartal, nothing happened in even BJP ruled states! I wonder what the officials from Qatar who were at Kerala to discuss a multi crore investment project would have thought seeing the whole state come to a standstill at the call of a miniscule political party which does not even have a single MP from the state!
When West Bengal has moved forward from its rigid communist ideologies the Left in Kerala is still hanging on to an outdated philosophy which will only pull the state back from developing. The problem is that there is no viable alternative party in the state. The UDF (lead by the Congress I) is too busy sorting out internal party problems and it's off shoots themselves will make sure that the party won;t come to power in the next elections! That leaves us with the LDF (Left parties) as the clear winner in the next state elections. But I would prefer tattered yet forward looking party not afraid to move ahead with development plans. Left is surely not right.


Had Coffee with Karan, Thomaskutty and Mariakutty?

Karan,Thomaskutty and Mariakutty were not there, but we did have coffee. The waiter over the counter served authentic south indian 'kaapi' vouching that its 'simbly funtastic'. But none of us thought so. The rugged vendor in a second class compartment in the train serves me better coffee. I just looked around and wondered, they've put up a wonderful outlet, superbly creative interiors and lot of space right in the middle of the town, but serve pathetic food. That's the Coffee Club at Kottayam for you. There is an alarming dearth of hang outs in kottayam. Well, the 'achayans' would prefer to roam around in their rubber estates, the 'kochammas' would vile away their time in their social circles, the local 'dudes' hang out whereever they can, but what happens to people like us, who come home once in a while and want to spend some quality time with friends in a decent outlet ? We do miss Anns. The perennial haunt of all of us, where we could sit for hours sipping water, chatting and even listen to the music we wanted. But even they closed half the shop last year. Now its more like a take away shop with hardly any space to sit.
Then came the Coffee Club. I loved the concept at the very onset, with a logo closely depicting that of Starbucks (it is a traditional south indian filter coffee glass) they have tried to provide a different coffee experience. The theme is 'local' and 'south indian', from the menu (filter coffee, all kinds of dosas, delicacies like bonda, appam,stew etc.) to the creatively designed interiors (the men's toilet door has the carricature of Rajanikanth, common malayalam usages are written on stained glasses). And the first thing that catches your attention is the huge space of the outlet with one side open to a fountain outside. It should have clicked in kottayam. But my head count tells me otherwise. The first time I went we were the only ones there, the second time just three tables were occupied. I hear the experiences of others have also not been different and their comments on the food also match mine with striking accuracy. Another enterprise in kottayam (a real enterprising one in that) failing to take off. Well, I hear that they have plans to start the same outlets in the metros and bigger cities. And I put my money on them, incase they improve the quality of food. Because, their concept is strong enough to be a runaway success. A quality alternative to the CCDs and Baristas. Hmm, my friends will murder me for that!


The Final Showdown

It kind of gives me fears! Thinking that I am off to give my last semester exams in a couple of days time! Hey, that's like 4 years of engineering! And to think of how your attitude's changed after being at college! The kind of complacency youve got in to is sure to make people go crazy! Who else would be sitting in front of the pc at half past 3 in the morning browsing the net, go out to see a movie and chat overnight two days before the exams. Dont take it that we are all prepared and confident. The truth is that we havent touched our books!
That should be scary enough for a lot of other people in the college also, this is the extreme...I am sure the topper of my branch would have put his money that I would fail in my exams with my preparations! Well,well....there's this uncanny confidence that may be i am going to pass in all my exams and hopefully in first class! I really do not know where that stems from, but all that I know that its a bad bad thought! It is exactly that thought, some kind of assurance that everythings going to go fine that led me throughout the last two years to slack! Go from a good student to the most irregular in class! Of course I would have liked that to be different, to have added a bit more value to my years in college by being academically stronger! It just didnt happen....think of it, I'll most probably be coming for my convocation, getting the degree of chemical engineering, while working for a software company. So what am I? A chemical engineer or an acquired software engineer ? A software professional would be an apt term, but what happens to all the Heat transfer,Transport Phenomenon,Unit Operations and Fluid Flow fundamentals?....Who cares, when you are drawing a handsome salary and working for a respectable company? May be not, havent got that complacent....not attending classes is different and making career choices is different....may be I was not rotting all those hours bunking classes, the perspective college has given me is irreplaceable....i hope that i'll do well in my exams....for me the later part is more important, what I've been waiting for all these years....getting down to the real bad world....or is it the other way round? Whatever it may be, here I come!


A Dialogue with Time (I)

A Dialogue with Time

This is a rather long post, to be continued......

That’s it, time’s up.

Me: He,He….you thought I was surprised?

Time: Hmm,thought you would plead for an extension.

Me: At last, got you!

Time: Not actually, who would want to finish off their college life? That’s when you feel there’s excess of me and never give a damn to who I am.

Me: Hey, true man! So you’re offended? Even I am pretty sad I treated you this way, that’s why I am looking to move on.

Time: So that’s it? You’re fed up with life at college and want a break?

Me: Now that’s reading something which was not there at all! C’mon, the break is inevitable. You thought I was not realistic enough to understand that sadly no tangible associations are permanent?

Time: Aha, so your relationship with your family and even your closest friends is temporary?

Me: Yes, temporary depends on the time scale you are talking about. At a long enough time scale, every association is temporary. You should know better.

Time: No. My job is to run and keep on running, not to stop and think.

Me: To exist without having to think is a virtue. Choices arise when you start contemplating and you are pushed in to a complex process of decision making where you are never sure of your move. Lucky guy! You don’t have to do it. It’s a bigger virtue to know your duty and be on it.

Time: Interesting, so what if I thought one fine day that I am tired with all the running and want to be something else….let’s say a season?

Me: Ha! Ha! Now this is the problem with not thinking at all!

Time: Now what did I say to make you laugh?

Me: You never understood that ‘you’ can not change from what ‘you’ are ? ‘Time’ and ‘Season’ as entities are diametrically opposite in their existence.

Time: Trying to teach me who I am?

Me: Well, all of us love to lecture, even when we know that it is of no avail!

Time: I know who I am.

Me: Is it, then let me hear it.

Time: I am the one you humans race against, not realizing that I will outrun you always. You perish, still I move on, on and on forever.

Me: There is a big difference between who you are and who you think you are. The road to the purpose of your existence becomes clearer when both of them converge. And my dear friend, for you the gap is as far apart as the poles.

Time: So are you telling me that I am not what I think I am?

Me: I don’t want to be conclusive. What I want to tell you is that who I think you are is very different from who you think you are. That may help you get to who you really is.

Time: Well, well….now do I really need to stop and think who I really am? Can’t I move on with who I think I am ?

Me: Yours is a completely different case! But for us to do that is a tragic offence. Essentially because your thought is only as good as the next one. And the process of evolving your thoughts is greatly dependant on your external environment and internal aspirations. You build a chimera and try to convince yourself that it is the reality. Sadly, you can drag your life on (even without realizing that you are dragging it on) till the very end, living in that ivory tower.

Time: So how does that matter as long as people move on in their lives?

Me: How does it matter living your life through shutting your eyes to someone and later realizing that the one you spurned was the one you loved and the one you loved was never the one for you? All you can do is sit down and rue about the lost ‘experience’ and hope life had a rewind button.

Time: Go on….

Me: It’s all about the experience. Only when you go through something will you realize its true flavour. Notions, prejudices and prejudgements often colour a picture of a hitherto un-experience reality. Sadly, we hold on to that canvas and cling to our present ‘secure’ realities refusing to change. Fear of the uncertain is primal.

But think of shedding your fears, treading the uncertain path and moving towards the experience of understanding who you really are. The ivory tower will come crashing down to the sweet chime of your inner realization. You will be born anew, look at things in new light, redefine yourself, your goals and make choices that really matter to you.
Freedom. That is when you experience real Freedom. Freedom leads to liberation and empowerment. People talk of inner peace and realization, for me they follow once you understand who you really are.
The value of both the experiences, being who you really are and who you think you are is completely different and it’s tragic if people miss to experience what really matters.


The trouble of posting on net

The trouble of posting on the net is that you need the net connection at the first place and the server's got to work....my pc took me for a ride and it crashed(i had a miraculous escape!) and then blogger.com refused to open citing some server problem....this is why i prefer human servers!....And finally when things are working well ,exams are staring right at my face, havent been deterred by that though( i've been living with my eyes closed these days!)....Anyways its wonderful to be back....The chai bell has rung....got to recharge....i'll be back!


When the spider family went on an outing, it was site seeing on the web! (My fav links)

Ok, I am a net addict,a surfing maniac to the extend that I would risk missing my classes,losing sleep,food or even an important assignment for the sheer pleasure of sitting up in front of the pc, site seeing! Anyway here's a collection of my favourite links:

1. pagalguy.com - the best place to be for an mba addict,studded with great info on all colleges,exams and with one of the most active,credible and serious discussion boards on cat,xat,instis,gre etc. News of any result is sure to be posted at pagalguy first. Yeah, it really turns you in to a pagal guy,pagal enough to be addicted to this portal!

2. bestcrosswords.com - a really good site, where you get to play crosswords online, with realtime scoring. Try getting up there with the top scoreers. A must visit for cross words enthusiasts.

3. vivisimo.com and dogpile.com - now here we have two real powerful search engines. Vivisimo employs a technology known as clustering, where you get clustered information of your search, making it easier to find what you are looking for. Dogpile is one of the most popular meta search engines. Its design and ambience is amazing and it searches google,yahoo etc. at one time.

4. http://www.blonnet.com/bq/index.htm - for the quizzers. This one by The Hindu has a real good compilation of business gk questions. Leaves you stumped and sure to exit the site enriched. Check it out right now.

5. worldwidewords.com and fun-with-words.com: two real good sites for people looking to play around with words. The latter has a wonderful collection of all kinds of word plays. A real treasure!

6. punoftheday.com - a site dedicated just to punning! Ain't I gay(!)? Check out their archives - funniest puns,longest puns etc.

7. rediff.com - i have my e-mail id in this one,so a daily visitor! Enjoys checking out the odd news link and of course playing the business quizzes. Check the quiz out,quality stuff.

8. magindia.com - a site dedicated completed to media and advertising(got hooked while preparing for MICA). See the ads,listen to the jingles, read about the latest news. Other good sites under this category include agencyfaqs.com,allaboutbranding.com,estrategicmarketing.com etc.

9. cheresources.com - that one's for chemical engineers. Got loads of free softwares, papers, tutorials etc. A must visit for chemical engineers.

10.bbc.com/entertainment/mastermind - play mastermind online. Quite an interesting site.

11. dilbert.com - the onestop place to know all about dilbert,other characters and ofcourse read those wonderful strips.

12. uselessknowledge.com - a rather useless site, timepass when you feel you need to kill time having nothing to do.

13. and ofcourse google and scholar.google....guess that figures in everyone's top list.


How slow can a slow train go?

It was around 1 in the morning,I was at Hotel Cama,Ahmedabad,enjoying the 3* luxury that TOI has provided me (not as a token for being a faithful subscriber who ogles at the front page snaps) when it occured to me that I had absolutely no idea about how I was going to get to Surat. I always keep my travel plans flexible,real flexible. That means that I normally do not book my tickets for any journey which leaves me with a host of options to choose from, afterall the comfort and the mode of conveyance has never been the reason for my trips! My usual modus operandi is to look up for a suitable train at the Indian Railways website,reach the station early,load myself with magazines and cling on to,hang on to or even sometimes float in the GC (read General Compartment). That means that I do not need to run away midway through a party with my friends,I do not need to rush through the site seeing trips, I can not stay back for a day with my friends if my tickets already booked and so on. And that day was also not different. My decision criterions were salvaging attendance by attending classes the next day and getting some quality sleep and a less strenuous journey back to Surat. As there was no internet connection in the room,I rushed to my help line,Manu. He was quick enough in advising me to get the Karnavati Express at 5 in the morning and he replied with a long moaning 'no idea' when I quizzed him about trains after that. That left me thinking,now decision making and trade offs has always been a tricky affair to me. It was already 1 and if I had to catch the 5oclock train I had to leave the hotel at 4 and the kind of sleeper that I am,a mere three hour sleep never happens and even if it does it ruins my whole day. So that meant that I had to have another Night Out to catch the Karnavati. The 70 channel TV was a reason to stay awake, but the strains of the Night Out I had the day before and the A/C were even stronger reasons do doze off. Come on man, you are offered free accomodation (that too all alone in a double room) in a 3* hotel with complementary breakfast in the morning and you are saying a NO to that? And thus,I decided against the Karnavati. The former reason was not the primary driver for that decision though. I wanted to get some rest. I had had a real strenuous week,my parents had come over and taking them over Surat with the mercury touching 40 through the day and hopping on to another GC,coming to Ahmedabad had taken precious days of sleep away from me and now I didnt want to exert myself more, so I hit the bed.
I was woken up by the telephone ring in the morning. It was from ther reception,politely asking me 'When the hell will you be checking out?', I looked at my mobile(my cell doubles up as my watch these days!) and it was already 10. I told that I would be checking-out in half an hour and slipped back to sleep. The door bell ranf this time and this time it was the TOI being delivered(my decision to stay back was already starting to pay its dividends!). I had to check-out before 12. So rushed with my ablutions,finished the hotel formalities and reached the Ahmedabad station.
Ok,so which is the next train towards Mumbai? With all my effort I deciphered what was written on the information board in Hindi and figured that there were just two trains in the next 3 hours to Surat and out of that one was a Shatabdi,so naturally I was left with a single option - the Virangam Passenger.
I asked the man at the ticket counter for a ticket to Surat. He said, ' Baara baje ek train hei,local.' And he asked 'Ausme jaana hei?',as if asking me ' are you sure you want to go in that train, dud head?'. I knew how slow the train went,remember travelling to mumbai in that in my first year. I went back to looking at my decision making variables. I had no reason to get back to Surat early, I already missed my day of classes,I would be getting a confirmed seat, may be the compartment itself would almost be empty so I would have a comfortable journey, a GC journey so unlike a GC journey!, I would be reacing Surat by around 7 and that would be perfect enough to get back to hostel and catch up with two days of information loss. So I said with a confident smile, 'yes sir, usme jaana hei'.
Then I went on preparing myself for the trip. Travelling through the heartland of Gujarat at this season could turn out to be a 'hot' experience, so filled my bag with 2 bottles of mineral water.,2 biscuit packets and 4 magazines. Found a vacant compartment and settled down there.
I tried to turn on my mobile, for two reasons. One was that I had no idea of what the time was and second,more importantly I had to call up my parents to tell that I was safely housed in a local train and did not get lost/kidnapped on my way back to Surat ( I could trace the course they would follow if they did not get in touch with me,step by step. First they would call up Sangeeth or Manu, then the times people, then the fellow competitors, then even the hotel that I was put up at, and thinking of the kind of commotion that could create sent a chill down my fingers). My fingers literally froze when my mobile refused to start up! The battery was obviously down. Motorola users would empathise with me,the battery charge does not last for more that 30 hours and I had not charged my phone for the last 50 hours! And this was not the first time that I was pu in this precarious situation by the battery of my cell phone. That even lead me thinking of researching on solar charged battery powered cell phone(that would be such a boon,really!) or even having some kind of emergency battery charge reserve which you could activate under emergency! Anyway, I was stuck in the middle of somewhere and knew that there was panic and confusion at my house,hostels and at my ahmedabad friends' places over my where abouts. I dont know how/why, I was realistic beyond logic in this trip. I realised that the best thing I could do at that point of time was to read the article on cell phones as an indicator of national growth in the business magazine. The train would anyway take me to Surat and the first thing I would do will be callng up my parents.
I ogled at the watch of the person sitting opposite me. What!!!??? it was already 8:30....I had been in this 'local' for the last 8 1/2 hours? But,frankly this was just the experience I was looking for. I had come prepared with that mindset of spending 7 hours in the train,had lots of material to give me company and the sight of rural Gujju land, which you unfortunately dont get to see when you are floating in a GC, finding it difficult even to see your friend barely a metre away! I had got a seat all for myself throughout the journey, so I never felt the strain of the trip and that was just what I wanted from my trip back to Surat - comfortable with space to move your legs and breathe! I got more that what I asked for and I was happy.
At last at 9 the 'local' passed across the Surat board. I jumped out of the train and rushed to the telephone booth. Took the phone and dialled my house number. Papa picked up the phone. I said,'Helo,papa,its me'. 'Oh,my God,where were you? We were so worried, there isnt a single place that we haven't called up............'
The conversation went on expected lines,barring that fact that they called up the hotel I stayed at. Well,trying to answer the title of this piece, 'how slow can a slow train go', i guess its as slow as you make it to go. At times you feel that even a real fast train is moving like a snail, on my journey from Surat to Ahmedabad in an express, two days back I was standing in a packed compartment till Baroda and it felt as if those 2 hours were eternity. Anyway, the more important thing is about the trade offs that you make in your life. I lost a days class (not really repentant about that),travelled almost the whole day,didn't have proper meals,didn't have company during the journey.....but still at the end of the day it was the experience that I wanted and it left me happy. I guess thats all that matters, to you ,up close and personal. Yes I was happy.