May 30, 2003

"The Bridges of Madison County"
A nice peaceful evening after a tiring day spent rushing around trying to get things done.

Picked up a copy of “The Bridges of Madison County” by Robert James Waller. Read it completely in one sitting. Have done that after a long time. A beautiful book, though some people might find it a bit too sentimental. It tells the story of Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer, and Fransesca Johnson, married and living a peaceful life in bucolic Iowa and their four magical days spent together. But the book does keep a check on reality, especially when the present comes back to rear its head and the future has to be thought about.

The book has also been made into a critically acclaimed film, with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep in the principal roles.

May 29, 2003

Traffic Violations
This is a true story......

Three students from Rutgers were going to a conference in Boston. It is approximately a four hour drive. Here, on the major highways, usually the speed limit is around 65 mph. And the average speed of the traffic is usually around 5-10 mph more than the speed allowed. But if a cop catches you at about 20 mph more than the limit, you are liable to get up to a $200 fine, and even a trip to the jail thrown in.

Unfortunately, these guys were caught speeding, nearly 20 mph over the limit, sometime in the night. They pleaded with the cop, explaining that they were students going to a conference in Boston, and he nearly relented. Just as he was about to let them off, he saw that one of the guys sitting in the car had a book, the title of which was "The Making of the Atomic Bomb". That was the proverbial last straw! As this incident occurred sometime after September11. So then the guys had to pay up, and that too quite a handful.

As an aside, one of the top executives in Nokia, was fined for the highest amount in Finland in recent times. The reason is that in Finland, the fines are not only based on speed violations, but also are directly proportional to the amount that you earn!

May 28, 2003

Keeping the blog alive!
So now as my sister goes into self imposed hibernation I will try to keep the blog alive in the meanwhile!

Final Exams, Grading, Spreadsheets, Night-Outs, ASHA volunteering, TA party at "On the Border", The MATRIX - Reloaded, living on caffeine dutring the end-of-semester mayhem, research, the IAB, Poster Sessions, Memorial Day Weekend, friends visiting, rainy days, sunny days(though few and far in between even though it is supposed to be spring/summer), new cell phone (yippee!), getting a driver's license in the US (giving the written test), practice lessons, love driving here (so much more orderly traffic as compared to the Indian roads, people actually do obey the traffic rules here :-)), eating out practically every day of the week, getting your roommate to take your cooking turn, attending my first Bharatanatyam recital in the US (there were some beautiful pieces set to a few chosen shlokas from the "Thiruppavai" - composed by Andal, one of the twelve Alwars), fusion (to which I still have quite a few ambigious feelings, having learnt Bharatanatyam from a teacher who treasured maintaining the purity of this art form), start running regularly again, friends getting jobs, friends leaving, new roommates, reading "Atlas Shrugged", and finally ordering the fifth Harry Potter book "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and the complete set of "The Hitchhiker's Guide", getting back to research, catching up on sleep, hoping for sunny weather, getting organised, a very nice walk through Central Park, everything fresh and green around me again, no 4 PM sunsets for atleast 4 months now....8 PM sunsets feeling really good!

May 25, 2003

Its time I gave the E-factor some importance. So while I slog away for my final semester, its bye bye blogging till 9th June. If Indira puts up posts before that, this blog’s still worth a visit before then! Await a flood of posts with some visual changes too, after that!

Either I’m seeing very motivated kids nowadays, or their parents are drilling the importance of studies in them too well.
I was sitting on the terrace of my building, when one of my neighbours, a 2 Std kid bounded by.This kid studies in a luxury school where they give you ice-cream for dessert, have sleeping rooms in case you’re tired, and have a TV room too! After some show-off of new tattoos, he sat down for a chat with me.While we talked about his school & summer holidays(how he missed school), he told me as a matter-of-fact that whenever TV is switched on at their school, its always the cricket channel( all with a not-so-happy expression).When I asked him what he’d like to watch instead, pat came the reply,”I don’t watch TV at school.If I do that how will I come first in class?”

Yes, I actually watched TV after a long time today. Inspite of the fact that I’m supposed to be studying for my exams, inspite of the fact that I have studied nothing at all, inspite of the fact that I have full-fledged exam jitters this time, I sat down & watched Alai Payuthe(the original of Saathiya)…again, thankfully without either the cable guy’s lights or mine doing the disappearing act .Add to it the fact that in the past week every time I took a break, I was greeted by Madhavan singing “Pachai Niramae”. Quite irresistible. Somehow I can’t seem to find anything not likeable with this movie The first time I heard about it, my curiosity was aroused coz there’s a famous Ootakadu Kirtana by the same name.The songs only increased my desire to watch it.I finally did for the first time when Indira’s friend Karthik kindly consented to write the CDs for me.And so came the movie from across the seven seas.A shorter trip would have been from Madras itself, but I did not have friends there, then, who would not only write CDs for me at the slightest request, but also courier it to me within 2 days!
Even then I managed to see Saathiya before Alai Payuthe.I went to watch this movie with a couple, both of whom happen to be my friends(before anyone flames me for this, I was not a KMH there).This friend of mine,after almost every scene, kept exclaiming about how something like this had happened to her too.Finally when I threatened her with the dire consequences of revealing the whole story, did she shut up(I didn’t know the whole story then either, but it worked).My point is that out of the commonness of the story arises its speciality.One person said to me”What’s the big deal? They get married, fight & make up”Agreed the story is very common.The way in which it is presented is different. Again, isn’t it the fact that films many can easily identify with go on to become hits?

May 17, 2003

There's this ad for an ice-cream which airs on Sun TV quite regularly.It has this actress Simran(the same one from Tere Mere Sapne who made it big down South)endorsing it.Typically she catwalks down to the ice-cream kept on a table, tastes it and speaks some rubbish which ends with "All new --- ice-creeeeeeeeeeeem" (All with a put-on expression which seems to say "Oh! How I love this product" ).Makes me want to screeeeeeeeeeam!

May 11, 2003

"When a man sits with a pretty woman for an hour, it seems like a minute. Let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems longer than any hour. That's relativity."
- Albert Einstein in 1938.

Some more random thoughts…
Trying to make good use of my credit card, I decided to fill petrol with it the whole of last month. When I finally got the billing statement, I realized that with all the surcharges & hidden costs, I could have made four more trips to college, had I just used hard cash!

During my practical exam when the external turned up at my table, I realized I was talking as if I was trying to sell him a piece of software, emphasizing all the good points & of course hiding all the bad ones! I was pretty successful, I guess coz I had the distinction of being the only person in class to not be troubled by him. And I supposedly hate marketing!

Last week, The Sunday Review, now re-christened as Men & Women had an article on Harry Potter. Just as I finished reading it & switched on the TV, hey presto! My cable guy was airing the Harry Potter movie.What a nice coincidence!

Some examples about how ignorance of computers leads to funny situations…. I have Creative’s multimedia kit installed on my comp which has lots of embedded voice commands. Once , I just switched on the comp & was doing some other work in a different room, when my grandmom came running out of room shouting, “Something’s wrong! Your computer is talking”. Only when my mom assured her that this is perfectly ok , did she calm down.Another time I was talking with Indira on the PC-to-Phone. Our maidservant, an extremely curious person, kept ogling at the computer, wondering as to how one could hear someone across the seven seas on a comp. Now, I had minimized all the windows, & incidentally, had put a photo of Indira as a wallpaper. After talking with ‘tai’ for a few minutes, she finally summed up courage to ask me, “Does tai talk back to me through the photo?”

Talk about adjusting! My future roommate at Stanford(that’s hoping our group application gets accepted), a girl from UP, is learning South Indian cooking, so that she can cook for me!

Come summer and along with the heat & sweat its time to welcome something pleasant-jasmine flowers.
The smell of these flowers will beat any artificial fragrances, any day.This by the way, is also the only good reason I found ,why marriages are held in May.This is the time when you see many women & children on the roads wearing gajras, a walk in the evenings always makes sure that the heavenly fragrance wafts up to me. It brings back memories of how as a kid, I used to sit and make gajras for myself , just with a thread, no needle here( a form of weaving flowers into a garland peculiar to the south)But nowadays I hardly ever see girls of my age wearing flowers in their hair.Half of them have hardly any hair, the rest are more afraid of being branded as a not stylish person. Once in a while, they do have a change of heart.During the industrial tour of my class, at Kodai , during a late night walk, I found a boy selling some freshly made gajras.I guess the sight & smell made for a heady combination. So I just bought 2 mozhams (equivalent to 2 elbow lengths) of gajras from him. Priya couldn’t resist it either & bought some too.Finally by the end of the next day, every girl on the tour had bought flowers.We even celebrated a gajra day.
Yet hardly anyone would dare to be seen in college adorned with flowers.I think flowers make for a beautiful adornment on a woman, making her look more beautiful than any jewel could ever do.I do admire those women who decide to enjoy such simple things rather than go for stuff like artificial perfumes & lots of makeup to try & look beautiful.
After all why let go of such enthrallment of senses which Nature herself offers us!

For starters, finally a site of my own, courtesy Indira.Also are some new snaps here.Some 30 more are languishing on my college comp, but finding a decent internet connection, a free computer and lots of spare time has become nearly impossible due to the ongoing exams in college.

Finally my engineering practical exams are over, forever.Out of the six semesters when we had practs, I’ve had exactly three lucky, three unlucky(that means scraping through).Trust me, after a certain point ,it is just luck which gets you through.I somehow can never reconcile to the idea of being judged by doing a program in three hours. Add to it the fact that you land up for the exam praying that you pick up a good chit, that even if you manage to get a decent program, that the comp doesn’t decide to act funny on a whim. I feel it takes time for a concept to sink in.Once you have lived with it for a few hours, then the ideas start to pour in. Give me a day’s time & I’ll write a decent code. Maybe that’s why I even got my BE project, I had a take-home assignment. As far as I know, people even mug up the programs for tests. What’s the great idea here? Semester long assignments make more sense, but people somehow never take it seriously.
When you finally decide to work for a software company, do you really submit a piece of code to your clients in just a few hours without being provided any resources or reference materials? Every time I land up asking myself this question, the only sane reason I can think of is that an practical exam is more for students who never do anything the whole semester, in the hope that they manage to ingrain a few concepts, atleast, before the exams are over.
But what I’d really like instead of 3-hour exams is a well-equipped library, some good machines, a fast internet connection, a small amount of guidance and of course lots of grilling from teachers along with class discussions as and when we do our practs. Will we ever see that in COEP?

May 10, 2003

A few random thoughts......
By the renowned Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet

I didn't know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or
splatters against the glass my
heart leaves me tangled up in a net
or trapped inside a drop
and takes off for uncharted countries
I didn't know I loved

rain but why did I suddenly discover all
these passions sitting
by the window on the Prague-Berlin

May 05, 2003

Even though WHO has declared India SARS-Free, according to the newspapers, we're now inundated with the desi version-Singapore se Aaya Rogi Sardi-khasi. leke

May 01, 2003

A Clean Slate...and a profitable one too!
Slate is an online magazine, and it is in the news for a good reason. It is the first among the "only online web publishing" magazines to declare a profit. Of course it does have Bill Gates' money power behind it..... Slate offers what it calls "the analysis of a weekly magazine with the immediacy of the internet".

"A Busy Morning"
Strange how when you are supposed to be really busy, you end up spending some time just doing nothing..... web surfing is extremely addictive, and with a 100 Mbps LAN more so.
A typical session starts with checking emails, which provide quite a few interesting links, especially the ones from the AWAD emails. Then usually not many days go by without somebody sending their online photos link, a spring break, a winter break, a birthday party or a conference visit. Then there is the Times of India to read, which unfortunately seems to have become more like a tabloid than the respected established paper that it was. So it is mostly glancing at the headlines rather than reading anything of substance there nowadays. (and get updates on the Salman-Aishwarya-Vivek Oberoi triangle.)
The New York Times on the Web is one of the really good web sites in terms of content and style. Their Books and Technology sections are worth reading (not trying to justify the time that I spend in the lab actually not working :-) )
And then there are the blogs, occasionally updating my own, but usually reading so many of them and then following up the links with a sincerity that I wish I did when it really needs to be done. (read coursework here)
And then, back to checking emails......
So here we are, done for the morning, is it lunchtime yet?


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