Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Vampirism Test


Published in the leisure section of a Bhopal-based newspaper:

You might be a vampire if:
  • You have a strong desire for blood.
  • You have a nameless craving that can never be fulfilled.
  • You can go without food or sleep for an unusual amount of time.
  • People find you interesting at first, then begin to avoid you.
  • Even when surrounded by others, you always feel alone.
  • You tend to be a night person by nature.
  • You have had a strong interest in vampires.
  • Sex tends to leave you feeling revitalized and full of energy.
  • You are very sensitive to sensory extremes.
  • You believe in reincarnations and have had past life visions.
  • Your relationships tend to be passionate and intense.
  • You look younger than you actually are.
  • You can see and/or read auras.
  • Animals tend to get along well with you.
  • When you will things to happen, they usually do.
I checked on 14 out of 15 traits. Whats your score?

Credits: Poster: Sirisha

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ek Duje Ke Vaaste: Why Good Girls and Nice Guys Are Never Together

Came across the following piece:

 Nice girls who will always remain 'a good friend'. Nice girls who are 'just one of the guys'. Nice girls who get punched on the arm (because they're just one of the guys), but never get kissed on the cheek. Or anywhere else.
This is for the women who talk of women's lib but are secretly too shy to actually ask a guy out. And who must haplessly watch him being asked out by a girl, who's I.Q. is about as high as her neckline (which, in case you missed the point, usually isn't too high). This is also for those girls who can never summon up the courage to tell a guy, that they think he's the best thing since sliced bread. And who will continue to think that while the guy in question flirts shamelessly with them in a half-assed attempt at making a completely different girl jealous. This is in honour of girls who give roses on Rose Day, but never get one back in return. The ones who have to resort to dropping hints in order to get asked out but, (since men are men and wouldn't take a hint unless it showed up naked on their doorstep bearing apple pie) who never get asked out anyway. This is in salutation to the girls who prefer playing hard to get, and who wonder why all the nice guys are dating women who play not-hard-to-get-at-all. This one is for the girls who've been repeatedly told that they're smart and cute and desirable – just not by the guys they actually care for. This is a voice for women who appreciate that under the macho-man-randy-savage testosterone drive, most guys are not too bad, as friends or as anything else, and who don't honestly want to be put on a pedestal and be worshipped for thinking so.
This is a tribute to girls who never have doors held out for them, never have chairs pulled for them, and never complain about it. This is for women who'd happily split the bill with a friend, boyfriend, husband if only they'd had one. And if only he'd let them. This is in defence of women who give tentative hugs out of the fear that they might send the 'wrong signals', who never drink too much at parties so they'd never have to be 'cared for' and who never, ever misbehave. And this is also for the girls who still stay friends with girls who openly flirt with their boyfriends, but who'd never dream of stealing their best friend's boyfriend, even if he's their intellectual soulmate. Because they're nice girls and nice girls don't do that sort of thing.
What nice girls do is get stood up, ditched and taken for granted. Nice girls get to be the friendly ear, someone to crib about ex-girlfriends, present girlfriends and women in general. Nice girls get to be doormats, someone whose house you can use to throw a surprise party for your girlfriend, and who's left to clean up after you go to drop your girlfriend home. Nice girls get to be someone you kiss when you're too drunk to notice and someone who'll accept your profuse apologies the next morning. Nice girls get to grow up believing the Cinderella story, the Ugly Duckling story and all the stories their boyfriends tell them about why they're getting calls from ex-girlfriends in the middle of the night.
This, dear nice girls, is for every time a guy told you that "any guy would be lucky to have you" and you wished he's stop saying that considering he wasn't doing the having bit himself. This is also for all the times you've watched your crush ogle at women whose idea of socializing involves high-pitched giggles and cleavage-baring antics. This is for all the hours of knock-knock jokes, breast jokes, beer jokes, women jokes, feminist jokes and dead baby jokes, of being a 'sport', being a 'pal', being the only one in the group not salivating over the Playmate of the Month, or not having any kind of Mortal Kombat score to discuss. This is for every time you wanted to but couldn't stop being sensible, for every fun thing you didn't do because it seemed 'inappropriate', every guy you pined for because he was, in some odd way or other, "off limits". This is for every time you wondered what the hell was wrong with you, if you set off an allergic reaction in men and if that wasn't the case then why all the men in the world have to have such a lousy taste in women.
The worst part of this story, girls, is that eventually most men look out for someone they can take home to mommy. Oh they'll shake their heads and laugh it off if you ever suggest it, but deep down that's what they really want. Eventually. While they're secretly fantasizing about lingerie models, the only one they'll really consider marriage material is the girl-next-door variety. Someone who needn't exactly be a chef extraordinaire, Salma Hayek's twin or winner of the Nobel Prize for Astrophysics. But also someone who won't embarrass the shite out of them by quaffing beer, flirting with their cousins at family get-togethers or insisting on dirty dancing with them in public. In other words, a 'nice' girl. And till men in general are hit by the proverbial bolt of lightning that, by god, she's the one I've always been looking for, your destiny is to live down the injustice, the humiliation, the heartache and the suffering. Go ahead, just do what you do best. Be nice.

And this one too:

Ode to the Nice Guys
This rant was written for the Wharton Undergraduate Journal
This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining and bitching about what assholes guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on but restrain themselves to tentative hugs, those guys who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores. This is in honor of the guys that obligingly reiterate how cute/beautiful/smart/funny/sexy their female friends are at the appropriate moment, because they know most girls need that litany of support. This is in honor of the guys with open minds, with laid-back attitudes, with honest concern. This is in honor of the guys who respect a girl’s every facet, from her privacy to her theology to her clothing style.
This is for the guys who escort their drunk, bewildered female friends back from parties and never take advantage once they’re at her door, for the guys who accompany girls to bars as buffers against the rest of the creepy male population, for the guys who know a girl is fishing for compliments but give them out anyway, for the guys who always play by the rules in a game where the rules favor cheaters, for the guys who are accredited as boyfriend material but somehow don’t end up being boyfriends, for all the nice guys who are overlooked, underestimated, and unappreciated, for all the nice guys who are manipulated, misled, and unjustly abandoned, this is for you.
This is for that time she left 40 urgent messages on your cell phone, and when you called her back, she spent three hours painstakingly dissecting two sentences her boyfriend said to her over dinner. And even though you thought her boyfriend was a chump and a jerk, you assured her that it was all ok and she shouldn’t worry about it. This is for that time she interrupted the best killing spree you’d ever orchestrated in GTA3 to rant about a rumor that romantically linked her and the guy she thinks is the most repulsive person in the world. And even though you thought it was immature and you had nothing against the guy, you paused the game for two hours and helped her concoct a counter-rumor to spread around the floor. This is also for that time she didn’t have a date, so after numerous vows that there was nothing “serious” between the two of you, she dragged you to a party where you knew nobody, the beer was awful, and she flirted shamelessly with you, justifying each fit of reckless teasing by announcing to everyone: “oh, but we’re just friends!” And even though you were invited purely as a symbolic warm body for her ego, you went anyways. Because you’re nice like that.
The nice guys don’t often get credit where credit is due. And perhaps more disturbing, the nice guys don’t seem to get laid as often as they should. And I wish I could logically explain this trend, but I can’t. From what I have observed on campus and what I have learned from talking to friends at other schools and in the workplace, the only conclusion I can form is that many girls are just illogical, manipulative bitches. Many of them claim they just want to date a nice guy, but when presented with such a specimen, they say irrational, confusing things such as “oh, he’s too nice to date” or “he would be a good boyfriend but he’s not for me” or “he already puts up with so much from me, I couldn’t possibly ask him out!” or the most frustrating of all: “no, it would ruin our friendship.” Yet, they continue to lament the lack of datable men in the world, and they expect their too-nice-to-date male friends to sympathize and apologize for the men that are jerks. Sorry, guys, girls like that are beyond my ability to fathom. I can’t figure out why the connection breaks down between what they say (I want a nice guy!) and what they do (I’m going to sleep with this complete ass now!). But one thing I can do, is say that the nice-guy-finishes-last phenomenon doesn’t last forever. There are definitely many girls who grow out of that train of thought and realize they should be dating the nice guys, not taking them for granted. The tricky part is finding those girls, and even trickier, finding the ones that are single.
So, until those girls are found, I propose a toast to all the nice guys. You know who you are, and I know you’re sick of hearing yourself described as ubiquitously nice. But the truth of the matter is, the world needs your patience in the department store, your holding open of doors, your party escorting services, your propensity to be a sucker for a pretty smile. For all the crazy, inane, absurd things you tolerate, for all the situations where you are the faceless, nameless hero, my accolades, my acknowledgement, and my gratitude go out to you. You do have credibility in this society, and your well deserved vindication is coming.

Makes one wonder which one is true ;). And if they both are. the dude in the picture above is definitely not doing his job well :P.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

When Butchers perform Surgeries and Nanotechnologists dole out Justice



With the placement season upon us, the campus has been witnessing the usual pre-placement talks by several firms who wish to recruit purely for the reason of a certified intelligence level that has been rated by an examination noted for its rejection rate. However, being a believer in Howard Gartner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, it is quite natural to wonder about the possible consequences of a mismatch.
The consequences might not be that devastating upon hiring engineers to perform financial services (except , probably, an unhealthy dependence on mathematical models that has proven to be fatal in the past). However, imagine a situation where for the mere sake of fulfilling a legal requirement, an on-paper committee is created to handle legal mishaps in, say, an educational institution. While in corporate organizations, it is the Human Resources department that handles such issues, in some consultation with people possessing legal knowledge, academic institutes have been content with asking professors to fill in for such roles. After all, shouldn't they be allowed to enjoy the benefits of the lack of a proper corporate governance structure.
Imagine a situation where an electrical engineering academician is asked to tackle harassment complaints. Not really their fault that human behaviors don't follow the equations that our bright minds are used to. True ,they might have degrees to their credit and have patents and papers published, but often, they have zero knowledge of  psychology, let alone criminal behavior or jurisprudence. Their methods of handling cases that come their way would make even first year law students roll around on the floor laughing. Researching methods on fabricating semiconductor devices does not teach you to validate evidences or cross question testimonies. People should stick to what they know. Not try to perform duties they know naught about. Deciding whether a punitive or preventive action has to be taken can only be done by understanding the case profile and the profile of the accused, something which cant be aided through IEEE.  I mean, come on, I have a friend who has  basic medical knowledge, despite her automotive engineering education, she can even tell you the required medication in case of common illnesses, but she doesn't go about performing surgical oncology procedures. Its an even bigger mess when the persons handling the wrong job, by virtue of being experts at their actual job, have a pretty high opinion of their intellect, which causes them to accept what they see and renders them incapable of accepting that there can be more to a situation than is meeting the eye. What they don't understand is that their clumsiness coupled with apathy can harm a  life, damage a life, wreck a life, or even take a life. When they don't have the skill, they most certainly should not have the right to mess around with people's lives. Because while those lives involved might mean nothing to our high-bred academicians, they do to others.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stand By Me



A story of four young boys on the brink of adolescence, sharing an over zealous quest to find a dead child's body, Stand By Me explores the purity of childhood friendships. A recounted narrative, the film ends with the protagonist saying that he never had friends the way he did when he was twelve. 'Does anyone?', he asks. True, maybe it was the innocence of the early years or the inability to understand how the world functions, but there was something that reflects in the warmth one feels on hearing an old friend's voice albeit 2000 miles away.  You probably dont cry to them about break ups the way you can cry to your college friends and its not watching endless hours of movies together but the 5 minute catching up sessions are like spa treatments. College friends are great, grown up and capable of handling grown up messes (very effectively, I must add) but probably feeling twelve again helps one reconnect with the non-messy side of life that used to be.
One can never have friends the way one did at twelve. No one can, or so he says,
But while the ending did remind me of old friends and brought a smile to my face with memories of carefree times, the words Stand By Me made me think of the friends here who have stood by me through really rough times. They know this is to them. Love  you all :).



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Karma Circle



Flipping through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the nth time, came across the following lines:

Draco Malfoy was no longer strutting about the school as though he owned the place.
On the contrary, he looked resentful and sulky.
On the other hand, Ginny Weasley, was perfectly happy again...

Loved it. Life's little pleasures. :).

Friday, October 23, 2009

For Everything Else, There's Mastercard



Auto Fare Round-trip to Cream Centre: Rs 120
Refried Bean Tacos: Rs 125
Half-and-half Enchiladas: Rs 220
Total expenditure on the Thursday lunch: Rs 696
Authentic Mexican Meal after having craved for a month: Priceless :).




Monday, October 5, 2009

Of Seances, Spirits and the Subconscious


Lemme begin by asking, Do you believe in ghosts?In black magic? In God?
This post probably stems from the psychological and para-psychological turmoils  of the last few weeks. The recent bouts of insomnia ravaging my being have presented me opportunities to meditate upon excruciatingly weird issues, for reasons still unknown.
A rational scientific mind might argue to the non existence of such entities. But has it never happened that you do feel an unexplained presence in your life, even if it is your guardian angel? I have been blessed with an above average intellect and by virtue of pursuing my education in applied sciences, I have been bestowed with a pretty rational mind. But, yes, I do believe in the paranormal. Whether it happens as a result of the manifestations of the human brain or the existence is for real, not sure, but I do not deny the effects of such phenomena on life as such.
Possessed by an incessant urge to speak with a dearly departed, I began researching methods. Seances and planchits have been long advertised as means to do so.But whether they establish a communication channel between the spirit of the actual person or are just a manifestation of our hearts deepest desires is still unclear (ref). A friend recounted a story told to him by his father about a seance having gone horribly wrong, with  an uninvited invisible guest showing up and refusing to leave; they were later rescued  by an ancestor, who in their dreams told them never to do it again. That did it. Seance was out of question. Then I wondered if simply praying would work. Maybe it did, maybe not. I'm waiting for a reply. And something tells me I shall receive one ( Worry not, I am as sane as you are).
While we are on the subject of spirits, what are they precisely? Remnants of a life? Or the very life itself? Or the energy that makes the hydrocarbon matter come alive? Dan Brown's Angels and Demons presented theories drawing parallels between concentrated energy fields and the soul. Brown's latest, The Lost Symbol, puts forth a similar view point. Are we coming close to understanding the concept of God and divinity? Or are we just trying to explain it using what we already know? I remember Papa explaining to me the concept of wave-particle duality using the same funda, that people had tried classifying light as either a wave or a particle in the same way man had tried describing God as a human incarnation or a heavenly bright source of light. The Lost Symbol talks of divinity being intrinsic while Eric von Danniken talked of the Gods as being extra terrestrial colonizers. Is it really a mere energy field running through us all that makes sure all modules of this super program function without a glitch?
Speaking of inner manifestations and the hidden signals transmitted by our subconscious, I remembered this book I had read back in the summer of my freshman year. I dont recall the title but it had something to do with Wicca, as the practitioners like to call their craft, which is witchcraft or black magic to the unaware. It talked of how it was possible to program any human mind into dying of its own accord, apparently there lies a hidden, teeny-tiny portion of resentment in all our lives which when excited and nudged into wanting release, starts walking upon a path of self annihilation purely by choice. The hocus pocus of voodoo dolls and chants is to create the suitable atmosphere thereby allowing the victim to submit his mind willingly to the  influence of the practitioner. Needless to say, the above cited was an example of black magic. The counterpart white magic uses the same technique for healing purposes.
Exploiting the power of the subconscious mind was branded witchcraft in the medieval times. When Rhonda Byrne packages the same as the Secret, she delivers a new kid on the block, something that has actually been around for ages. The Law of Attraction poses interesting questions, the first being why not a law of repulsion. Several interesting conversations circled around with the typical IIT minds trying to find a catch in the same. One argued using the string theory, while one tried to figure out if neurons could actually be radiating systems despite being covered with mylein sheaths.
Zillions of ways, countless cures to try to soothe pain and offer hope, each weird in its own way. Maybe they are all the grown up versions of the chocolate Mom gave you as a kid when you were crying, just to make you feel better. And, it works, even if for a very short span of time. So what if it might just  be a temporary escape route, it helps, like booze. And frankly between booze and this nameless, faceless entity, most of us will always prefer the latter.
PS: Why am I writing this? Scroll up. The insomnia demons are on rampage and I'm so high on lack of sleep!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tol Mol Ke Bol

 
Found in a bowl in a friend's room. Guess the amount.. ;).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pottermania Remembered

People often said that the craze surrounding Harry Potter books and everything else that got associated with the boy wizard was over hyped. Well I dont know if it was a case of brilliant marketing or simply superb writing, the series has been an integral part of my growing up process. What probably clicked with kids (back then) of my age was that as we matured, the characters themselves matured, the plots grew darker. Every single HP fan has tried finding himself in some or the other character in the series. It had  shots of thrill, drama, emotions, humour, everything. Every character, from the protagonist and his friends to guest appearances like Stan Shunpike and old Archie, seemed so real. The excitement of waiting for the next book, discussing theories, crying over Sirius and Fred and Lupin, to the eventual sadness from realizing that the defeat of the Dark Lord marked the end of an era in our lives. There are some quotes from the series, which I absolutely love, be they laced with sarcasm or deep sentiment:
  • Prizoner of Azkaban, Lupin: You heard James?
  • Goblet of Fire, old Archie, on being asked to wear Muggle trousers instead of lacy nightgowns: Thanks but I am comfortable with these, I like it breezy around my privates
  • Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore: Differences in habit and language are nothing as long as our aims are identical and our hearts open
  • Ron Weasley, Order of the Phoenix, when he sees the blood on Harry's hand: You said you were just writing lines
  • Dumbledore, Half Blood Prince: Please, Severus
  • Snape, Deathly Hallows: Look at me Harry
  • Harry, Deathly Hallows: Albus Severus, you are named after two headmasters of Hogwarts, one of them was a Slytherin and he was the bravest man I ever knew
Anymore, Anyone?

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Non-Males' Story

This post probably takes birth following my friend's post on how hard it is to be one's true self when one carries two XX chromosomes instead of an X and a Y. I also had a conversation with an old friend who talked of why he did not want his sister to write JEE despite her being academically brilliant and having opted for the science stream in +2. The reason he cited was, this is an unhealthy environment for girls, it takes too much out of you being a girl in this place.How many of us can truthfully disagree with that? The first thing that a school junior of mine uttered, on being asked how she was finding IIT Bombay, was, it feels scary being a girl here.
Girls suffer the torment of being placed under a judgmental microscope practically everywhere but I'm just going to talk about this esteemed centre of excellence. For some crazy reason (I still cant figure out what), I always believed that education was associated with character and an open mind. My naivety in associating academic excellence with education is another issue. I can still recall the culture shock I got, back in my freshman year, when I realized that a majority of even the so-called educated guys in an esteemed and reverred academic institute were in character no way different from roadside hooligans.
Right from the freshie night anti-cheerings and the countless sick messages received to bets on what you would wear in class to gossiping of graphic liasons with every guy you speak with to attributing every single achievement of yours to unscruplous means, every girl here learns to accept that she cannot expect any respect from her male counterparts here.
A dear friend had once tried to surmise a reason for guys here being even worse than the guys in regular colleges, a fact that he believed to be the case. His reasoning was that nearly 95 percent of the guys who made it here had spent their growing up years absorbed in just books, obviously a healthy interaction with girls was absent, especially at a time when they were maturing. Upon coming here, they were introduced to countless hours of pornography that eventually resultsed in them viewing the female species as mere objects, nothing more.
Another reason that people kept pointing out was the male ego walking ten miles ahead of the entities themselves. Its hard for guys to accept that girls can be equal to them. When the equality in skill gets proven, its time to find other faults. The fact that they then no longer consider the girls female but coin a term non-males for them should give an indication of the levels to which they would go to display their contempt.
Whats even more disheartening is that when, in such a place, we girls should have stuck together, we failed to do just that. We turned out to be each others' worst enemies. Instead of supporting each other, we pulled each other down when one of us got something we all wanted.
You can attribute it to the male ego or the skewed sex ratio but the fact remains that it does take a lot out of you to retain your sanity here if you're a girl. Of course we do evolve to adapt to the environment. We get used to people talking rubbish and just accustom ourselves not to pay heed. And if we cannot develop that resistance and immunity to these arrows , we wear cloaks of invisibility and hide inside our shells, at least no arrows are launched then. We dont wear skirts to class even if its sweltering 41 degrees outside with an 88% humidity to match. We train ourselves not be hurt when we realize that erstwhile friends had been talking behind our backs. We accustom ourselves to keep our feelings inside us and not let them out even if they lead to insurmountable stress accompanied by pcos.
A place of learning should be characterised by freedom, to explore one's strengths and not by prejudiced societal diktats. People might argue that its the Indian society where we grew up but somehow I believed that people of such high mental callibre would have an associated moral fibre to think independently and choose what they believed was right. Sadly, I was disappointed.
PS: That apart, I must say I have been lucky to have friends here who have not only treated me with respect but also supported me in my endeavours. may their tribe increase. And unfortunately, most of the girls here have not been that lucky.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Third Degree


The cover page of Greg Iles' Third Degree had something thought provoking to say.

PS: This is not plagiarism. It is through mutual consent ;).


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Piggy Paranoia

The last few weeks have witnessed an obsessively incessant paranoia about swine flu. From mass quarantines to entire states declaring shutdowns, signs of people's fear are everywhere. Aren't we over-reacting, to say the least. I mean, come on, more people die of regular influenza every day, which is just as contagious. And an even larger number die every 3 hours of tuberculosis, which again falls into the highly contagious category. And I am not even talking road accidents yet. I seem to remember a similar scare following the Avian influenza outbreak and the SARS epidemic. I guess people do get scared and panic easily given this level of hoopla. Some might reprimand me for being insensitive and remind me that the diseases did claim lives. True. And so have cholera and drunken driving. I had intended to argue, by way of this post, that being so totally paranoid is not really rational, but halfway I realized I am just terribly missing Iced Tea (serving of any cold drinks has been suspended everywhere on campus as a precautionary measure).
Yeah that's the sign at Basera :(

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me: India turns 63


This post comes a little later than its supposed publishing date but ah, never mind. I was home the previous week, the first Aug 15 at home after four years and in accordance with the Independence Day tradition of my pre-JEE days, I had wanted to watch the traditional Independence Day programmes on television; 63 things India should be proud of; the past year round-ups; promises ahead etc. Well it was different this year. Not only were they absent but every news channel seemed to be trying to grab its share of the TRPs and every pseudo-celebrity was vying for their fifteen seconds of fame commenting on King Khan being detained at Newark Airport. Also prominently present were Shahid Kapur and Priyanka Chopra busily promoting Kaminey. Somehow didn't seem right. Not like the festival I remembered.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good to be Bad???

Was having this discussion with my mom and she alleged that our generation has a problem of equating being "bad" to being cool. So arrogance is sexy, drinking and smoking is hep, its fetch to be unemotional and cold, being manipulative is admired, infidelity is studness. Then came across the following lines scribbled on the back of a notebook which made me wonder if she was right after all :
You think you know
But you never can
Nothing is ever what it seems
Masks are the latest fashion
Deceit runs through as the deepest passion



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adieu to the Maharani

I was in my seventh grade, if I remember correctly, when I came across the name Maharani Gayatri Devi for the first time. It was on this show Rendevouz with Simi Garewal, Amitabh Bachhan was asked to name who, in his opinion, was the most beautiful woman in the world, and he answered, Maharani Gayatri Devi. I asked my mom, she told me about the Princess of Cooch Behar who went on to become the beloved Maharani of Jaipur, smashing several stereotypes along the way. Coincidentally, the India Today edition of that week carried a piece on her and I saw the above picture for the first time. There was something about her mannerisms, the air of sheer dignified grace about her that made me wish I could hold myself like that. I later learnt of how she was different despite being royalty, how she didn't stick to prescribed norms. I also remember this coffee table book, her memoirs, A Princess Remembers, at an Uncle's place and I distinctly recall a conversation which explained why it was so daring of her to play polo wearing riding breeches. I have talked about how rare such grace is today in one of my previous posts. She was an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. Here's my personal farewell to the Maharani.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Cut-Off


Today's Sunday supplement of Hindustan Times, Brunch, carried a short story by Chetan Bhagat. Titled The Cut-Off, it is the account of a school topper who plans to take his life because he will not be able to get into SRCC or Stephen's despite scoring 92% in his CBSE 12th Board Exams. "Everyone tells you how to live your life. But no one ever tells you how to end it.." is how the narration starts. It goes on to talk of the burden the eighteen year old carries from having made one calculation error in the exam. While he does draft a letter off to the Education Minister complaining of the lack of enough universities for even the top 5 students of every major school in the country, he eventually ends up blaming himself for not having worked enough to earn that extra 3 per cent that could have gotten him into SRCC. The expectations of parents, neighbours and relatives, disappointment at not living up to your own expectations, the futility of scoring 90% in boards, everything has been brought out in a way that it grips your small intestine, pulls it out and wraps it around your throat. The Hindustan Times E-Paper carries the story. Would recommend a reading, I'm sure most of us shall identify with at least parts of it. I know I do.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mr Sibal, You Reading??

While the HRD Ministry is busy making plans for further expansions of IITs, students are busy sending out signals begging them to stop. Over 500 students this year have refused to take admissions into the seats alloted to them at the new IITs (a reference article can be found here) .And I dont really blame them. Institutions do not become premier centres of excellence just by sticking labels on them. Though I agree that the chief reason for the global respect for IITs stems from the rejection rate and the selection process, what follows post admissions is considered equally crucial. The new IITs can be cited as case studies in frugalism and minimalism as far as infrastructures as concerned. A dearth of good or for that matter any faculty is something I am sure even they can't choose to ignore. Why would students want to risk their futures through such a compromise. They got through the toughest undergrad filtering examination on the planet, naturally they understand that a four room structure holding the Indian Institute of Technology Indore sign is not going to guarantee them a better future and definitely not enrich their education. They are aware that the nation has institutes other than the IITs which are highly reputed and house facilities to help their intellect grow. If enhancing the quality of education in the nation was the primary agenda of the Human Resources Development folks, why do they not consider it more worthwhile to spend a comparable amount on bettering the infrastructure and research facilities at the existing institutes. If I remember correctly, demand for more IITs was projected as the chief reason for their creation. Sorry to point it out to you sirs, but the numbers don't really support your claim.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tagged!!

There is this game that I have seen people play on the blogosphere, usually when they are out of topics to rant and rave about. Called Tag, it asks you to blog about something in particular, favorite songs, disastrous dates etc and then you pass the baton on, asking others to do the same. The rules of this one are as follows:
Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag up to 15 friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose

Well, considering the fact that I have just spent close to two months here in a practically deserted hostel ( you know, haunted would have been better, I might have at least had the ghosts to talk to), books are what have kept me sane or close to sane. Anyways, this asks about the books you think will always stick. So, here I go:
  1. Harry Potter series: Nearly everyone loves them and I'm no different, happen to belong to the class of people who used to draw the lightning scar on their foreheads with sketch pens and henna dyes and can recite anything related to the series, from the method of brewing the Draught of Living Death to Mrs Weasley's favorite song, A Cauldron of Strong Hot Love by Celestina Warbeck.
  2. The Diary of Anne Frank: Someone rightly said that if marooned on a deserted island, he would like to have a copy of this book with him. A ray of sunshine bringing hope in the darkest times, Anne has always been a faithful companion since I was 15.
  3. Chicken Soup Series: Not really putting them out as separate books. Love the simple, enriching, heartwarming stories that help me kinda keep faith in life, in others and in myself.
  4. Pride and Prejudice: The first love story I ever read, the first crush I ever had, my notions of love, sharing and bonding all seem to stem from this classic.
  5. Little Women: Another warm family bonding book that I love to this day and don't mind re-reading.
  6. Freakonomics: A wonderful set of case studies about the hidden hand of economics in a host of world phenomena.
  7. India Unbound: Probably sprung to mind because I recently heard Gurcharan Das speak at the E4SI workshop last weekend
  8. What They Dont Teach You at Harvard Business School: An amazing insightful book on management skills by Mark McCormack. And no, HBS bumping me has got nothing to do with this choice.
  9. Love From Your Friend, Hannah: Wow, don't really know how that came up. Was among my favorite books when I was 13. Its the story of a lonely young girl, growing up during the Great Depression, who finds unlikely friends in her pen pals which includes President Franklin Roosevelt.
  10. Power of Positive Imaging, by Norman Vincent Peale: Describes a wonderful and strong motivational technique called imaging, which I would recommend all to try.
  11. Strong Medicine, by Arthur Hailey: The protagonist in this book on the pharmaceutical industry, a strong ambitious woman named Celia Jordan somehow was one of my initial role models (as my sister likes to allege and she does know me).
  12. Lisa's Story: The diary of a girl dying of leukemia, its a story of hope, of bringing in happiness in spite of what life offers, something I hope I never forget.
  13. Why Do I Love These People: A book on helping understand family better, I guess its somewhat responsible for me loving mine, despite the stories they make me listen to during Diwali (sorry Ma, I told them it was Nani's).
  14. Like a Flowing River: Beautiful short stories about life. Well I guess I love most of the books by Coelho, this one is special for a different reason, being a birthday gift to my best friend (who would also respond to the name of Mr Philosopher).
  15. Catch 22: The book is by all means a classic satirical piece, but is extra special being a gift for my 21st birthday and the copy has motivational messages scribbled on over 20 percent of the pages by my friend.
I guess I could still go on, but the rule says 15 so 15 it is. By the way, I was Tagged by Pratik/ Punchar. Passing on the baton, I tag Nitin, Apurv, Sirisha, Aniket , Bhondu, Bhale, Hula, Abhi, Aruna, Tarun and Mrugen.
The game's on..

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bhai Dooj Tales Recounted

The festival of Raksha Bandhan is approaching. While this festival celebrates a brother's eternal vow to protect his sister and safeguard her honour, there exists a variant that extols a sister's commitment of protecting her brother. Called Bhai Dooj, it is observed a couple of days after Diwali. In my family there has been a tradition of telling stories where a sister had saved her brother's life. Given the fact that this entire exercise happens at the Puja Mandap, it is extremely hard not to laugh or smirk. You would know why:
Once upon a time, long long ago, there was a brother-sister pair. The brother was married to an evil woman who was having an affair with, wait for it, a snake. The brother, his sister, his wife and her lover the snake would henceforth be referred to as bhai, behen, bhabhi and saanp respectively during the course of this narration. This is to help you understand better what it was like hearing the story at the Puja for each Diwali of my last 16-17 years of recallable existence.
Now the bhabhi wanted to kill the bhai so that she could be with the saanp. So she plots with the saanp and asks him to bite the bhai when he goes to the fields at dawn because its dark. The lucky bhai escapes because he sees the saanp. Again the lovers plot and decide that the saanp should hide in the turban as the bhai doesnt shake the turban before wearing. Lucky bhai (un)fortunately shakes the turban and escapes again. Then the saanp decides to hide in the shoe and this time the bhai gets suspicious and kills the saanp. He brings the body to bhabhi tells her how the saanp had been trying to kill him. Bhabhi pretends to be relieved that bhai is fine but then goes and cries infinitely when alone.
Now bhabhi cuts the saanp into 7 pieces and hides one each under the bedposts, one in her cupboard, one in her earthern lamp (diya) and one in her sindoor daan. She then says to bhai, "I have a riddle. If you can solve you throw me into the fire else I throw you into the fire". Bhai is astounded but she insists and he has to reluctanly agree. Here's the riddle:
Piyu more khatiya, Piyu more machiya
Piyu ka tel jale saari ratiya
Piyu sindoore lal

Stumped as he was, bhai admits defeat and requests bhabhi to allow him to visit behen one last time, especially since it was Bhai Dooj the next day. He meets her, behen does puja and all but she senses something amiss and insists on accompanying bhai back to his place. They are tired during the journey and rest under a tree where bhai falls asleep. Now this wasn't an ordinary tree, it was the meeting place of household earthern lamps or diyas. Of all the diyas assembled, there was one that was smelling a lot. On being asked by the other diyas he mentioned that his mistress kept a piece of her lover, the saanp, in him and he was smelly therefore. He also recounts everything bhabhi had tried doing to bhai, including the riddle and the ensuing punishment. For some reason (I never asked my grandmother what), behen realizes its her bhai-bhabhi being discussed. She wakes bhai and lands up at his house and says that she wants to take the riddle bhai couldn't decipher with the condition that if she fails bhabhi can kill both. Bhabhi agrees, behen pulls all 7 pieces out from their hiding places and assembles the saanp and then kills bhabhi and hence saves bhai's life.
You felt like pulling your hair at one reading, I have had several years of maintaining a straight face while the same thing was being narrated. By the way, I could really benefit if any of you knew another story for Bhai Dooj. Please.. Cant bear another Diwali with this one.

The Girl Effect

video

Came across a fabulous pitch. Called the Girl Effect, it re-highlights the adage of improving the life of a nation by improving the life of the girl child. Tries to get the message across pretty effectively. Must Watch.

Ayan Sarkar: 7 Things I Wish I knew 10 Years Back

As I mentioned in my previous post, the E4SI workshop was mind-blowing. At the risk of infringing intellectual property, I would like to iterate the most valuable lessons from a talk by Ayan Sarkar (Associate at McKinsey's NY Business Technology office) at the workshop, which incidentally were not about social enterprise models and change making in particular but about living life in general.

1. Life is not a Sprint, its a Marathon
2. Life is 80: 20, only 20 per cent of things are actually important and worth worrying about.
3. Make Mistakes, dont be afraid.
4. Have Fences, clear notions of whats wrong and you absolutely cannot and will not do.
5. Stand Up
6. Question the Known
7. Do Well, Do Good

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Days at TransIndus

Back from Bangalore after spending the weekend attending the E4SI concluding workshop. The heady cocktail of funding models, impact models, double bottom line, triple bottom line, microfinance and a host of other insights and tips about the citizen sector space, just leaves you high and motivated to make a difference. Featuring experts like the renowned author Gurcharan Das, Bindu Ananth from IFMR, Laura Perkin from NEN, Harish Hande from SELCO, Ayan Sarkar from McKinsey and others, together with over 20 motivated peers, the weekend helped cement whatever had been floating around in my head for sometime now. More on that to follow.
PS: Got bumped by HBS. Aah Never Mind ;)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Satyamev Jayte eh?

A hugely popular game show in the West, Star Plus, in an attempt to salvage its plummeting TRPs, recently bought the format of the show which involves hooking the contestants up to a polygraph and asking questions which are scandalous to say the least. Not sure, however, if the Indian audience is ready for something of this sort. Oh yes, their taste in voyeuristic entertainment would not be an issue, given the success of Splitsvilla, Big Boss and Rakhi ka Swayamwar. Still there does exist a probability that the format might be too bold for the Indian audience to swallow. Anyways, my sister and I compiled a list of questions that we would have liked to ask people, living or dead, on such a show.
  • Pranab Mukherjee: Was CII influential in drafting the 2009 Union Budget?
  • Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose: Did you really die in the 1945 plane crash?
  • Shahrukh Khan: Have you and Karan Johar done it?
  • Sonia Gandhi: Did your decision to decline the Prime Ministerial post, after having been the Congress candidate for the job, have to do with the Bofors case?
  • Bill Clinton: Were there more before Monica?
  • Pravin Mahajan: Was there external influence in your brother's murder?
  • Marylin Monroe: Did Robert Kennedy discuss classified information?
  • Amelia Earhart: (Not really a Moment of Truth format question, but one I have wanted to know all the same) Where the hell did you go?
Further suggestions are welcome...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Triumph of the Nerds

An account of the rise of one of America's largest industries, after automobiles, arms and illegal drugs, the personal computer industry. Cringley, who prefers to be called an explainer rather than a historian, attributes the growth of the PC industry to accident. He describes the brains behind personal computing giants like Apple, HP and Microsoft as people who had just been trying to find ways of amusing themselves and giving themselves a sense of security from the bullies in the park who used to push them around when they were wiry, gawky, bespectacled kids. Focusing not on the companies but on their founders, the man builds a caricature-ish picture of each one of them. While he portrays Bill Gates as a megalomaniac, he paints Steve Jobs as a sociopath. Anecdotes of how kind Lady Luck and Lord Murphy had been on these amateurs are interesting and also helpful in understanding America's last great success story. The book also explores the new baggy tees, soda cans, basketball playing corporate culture that Apple, MS etc spawned as opposed to the suit-and-tie, coffee, golf playing cultures of IBM, Ford and Citicorp. Full of juicy insider gossip, the book is an OK/Globe for tech-buffs.

Friday, July 10, 2009

And The Good Shall Triumph

Wonder why so many works of fiction, be it science, fantasy or crime, from Star Wars to Harry Potter to Hardy Boys, are all about the victory of the good over the evil. Why? Because people are essentially good people. They would always want the good to win, they believe the good shall win, even if they themselves indulge in bad practices once in a while. Coming across stories with the triumph of Good over Evil only reaffirms their faith in goodness.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Carrying Forward the Family Name

One of the most hard-hitting advertisements I came across in recent times:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happy and Gay

Its weird seeing how much of thought and effort the government is willing to put into the Gay Debate. Sexual orientation and preferences are something personal and should be left to the prerogative of the individuals alone. But these dimwits find it more compelling to treat gays as criminals than punish the actual criminals. They actually do consider homosexuality a greater threat to society than rapes and murders. Bless them, Lord, with some brains, pray.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Inconvenience Caused is Regretted


Waiting at the domestic departures terminal of the IGI Airport. My flight, SG 309, to Chennai was scheduled to have taken off an hour back. There have been continuous announcements , each shifting the departure time only further. Am bored and irritated, even more so considering the fact that I could have spent these last two hours more productively at my best friend's home, where I had spent a rather happy part of the day (embarrassing photo albums topped by his mom's delightful cooking). Sitting here, listening to "May I have your attention please. SpiceJet flight 309 to Chennai has been delayed. The flight would now depart at 2030 hours. Inconvenience caused is regretted", isnt really what I had in mind.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

F.R.I.E.N.D.S: TOW which was the favorite one

Dont know if its because I seem to be needing some means of relaxation for the past few days or because I am simply too fond of the series, I just embarked on a zillionth re-run of Friends.And apparently it isnt just me, everyone who has followed the series has loved repeating it. There are some particular episodes that are especially fun to watch all over again
  • TOW the Football, the not-so-thanksgivingy fight for the Gellar Cup
  • TOW the Embryos, the episode with the embryos being transplanted into Phoebe, more memorable for the who-knows-whom-better quiz
  • TOW the Flashback, where Janice asks which of the 6 of them had almost...
  • TOW that could have been, if Ross was still married to Carol, Rachel married Barry, Joey a TV star, Monica still fat, Chandler out of work and Phoebe a stock trader
  • TOW where everybody finds out, about Monica and Chandler, they dont know that we know they know we know
  • And, of course, TOW All the Other Ones
Anyone wants to add any more here...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Back to School

Nostalgia is actually a good thing. It helps you draw energy from your secret energy source, the good times. School was real fun. Teachers were heaven sent caricatures and classmates better at one-liners than the man Chandler Bing himself (and that is seriously some level). There are some things I can never forget and they make me roll onto the floor laughing even today
  • Our Class 7 class teacher's classic statement: Some are over ambitious, uttered with a typical nasal twang
  • Aditi's mimicking her Psuedo means false and poda means legs
  • Trying to convince our Principal Sr Reji to free the school's pet pigeons (with Mangala madam's support, on a different note, her perfume was something though..the bell around the cat)
  • Putting N fight to prepare dances and skits for the Bhopal Central Jail inmates as part of Dharam Bharti in Class 8
  • The slightly bordering on adult commentary we used to rattle off during Buddha Charita and Mahabharat class readings
  • Our homegrown Celine Dion's "We are working on it" when she was telling students about how her daughter has been pestering for a sibling
  • The whole class punished to write lines "I shall be disciplined in class" a 100 times by Tresiamma mam and everyone competing for who finishes first
  • The totally arbit prayer service on Dussehra with the Ramlila skit and Akanksha Tiwari's convincing Hanuman act
  • Using orange pens to underline keywords for Bhattu's geography paper
  • The various Venu-omous fiascos (She-who-must-not-be-named) in Class 10
I guess the list can go on...Miss those days, fighting with Jasmine over any and everything, Ritika squealing over Rahul Dravid (she still does that), Pragya's laughs accompanied by her really powerful pats that hurt, Abhisaar and her mimicries, Misha's chidiya fad fad karke udti hai, Aditi with her kali-kali songs, Aakansha's really really high pitched screams.. All of it..love you gals..

Monday, June 8, 2009

Womens' Bill: The rose paved road to the abyss


It might come as a surprise for many, but I , being a woman, do see the idea of introducing a Womens' Bill as being preposterously ridiculous. This is because I am a woman and not in spite of. Any proponent who argues that the Bill seeks to bring about empowerment of women in the country is only kidding himself. The Bill shall make women dependent on its crutches and turn them handicapped for ever. True empowerment will happen when the nation shall willingly give deserving women their due without attributing their success to reservations and excuses. Merely incorporating more number of women in the Parliament does not translate to the uplifting of the status of women. Which is why no woman sang or cheered when Ms Pratibha Patil became the first woman President of the nation. Moreover the Bill might just became a weapon of installing puppets controlled by powerful males and shall further hinder the rising of the deserving females, since males can only stand a maximum number of women in positions of power. Having a Rabri Devi for a CM did not do much for the status of the women of Bihar. The Bill shall just remain a mere notion of women empowerment.
No self-respecting woman would like her rise to success being attributed to crutches the State wants to supply. She wants to be there on the basis of her merit and not her gender. She needs support from her family, especially from her father, her brothers, her husband, and from colleagues at the workplace. That is all she needs to help claim what is rightfully hers. If the State really wishes to help, it should provide incentives and facilities to help educate more girls, help create a safe environment for them to grow and prosper.

Re-emergence

Well..back from a long period of dormancy..thanks to Aniket. For insulting me repeatedly.. And as promised, I am acknowledging it here..
aniket
: ek kaam karo

delete your blog

Taunting reminder mails..with chat excerpts

Shruti: yaar bahut saare blog likhne hain
aaj raat mein likhti hoon
Aniket: chod do, tumse nahi hoga
Shruti: oh ho
we will see!
Aniket: dekhte hain

And the others too

me: thinking of blogging
srikanth: rehne do
tum sirf bolti ho

So..Here I go

Well, a brief round up of whatever could not get its share of the limelight here so far:
  • The Sem- mixed bag, Mtech courses with ultimate boring content, and even more boring profs
  • The Parties- Hostel Nites saw how guys can cry like human hosepipes and how girls can act, when high..On a serious note, also began to accept that I too am going to miss this place a year later , despite my repeated vehement refusal to accept the fact
  • The Partings- Btech friends started leaving for home, traditional bidai scenes witnessed
  • The Wedding- attended my best friend's sister's wedding in Hyd, first South Indian wedding I have been to, Snow World being the cherry on the cake (or ice cream)
  • The Internship- @iDiscoveri as part of the E4SI fellowships immersion programme, still on. more on that to follow
Here's to Verity Season II

XOXO

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gossip Girl

I always believed that its the pastime of jobless people with nothing else to do. Sadly realized thats its absolutely essential to stay tuned in to campus gossip, else you can end up shoving both your feet into your mouth...
  • You tease somebody about his girl..Ooops, they broke up..
  • You call someone names..Shucks, they're going around now..
  • Someone calls you saying they're standing for elections, you listen to the strategies, bored, but making the required nods and murmurs..Heck, they played a prank knowing too well you'd have no clue who the hell is contesting..
  • Someone calls you telling they're contesting. You respond with a Yeah Right, so am I. The person wins eventually..
Its been three weeks since this eventful weekend and I can finally recall it without tingling with mortification..Whew