Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's upto our muslim brothers to answer...

I came across this shocking video in Google. I'm not a specialist in Arabic and I'm not an expert in Islam. So I don't have the knowledge required to really validate the content in this video. But if the content in this video is true, it'd be the hardest fact to digest! When man cannot be kind to another man, what purpose could a religion solve? I defer discussing it further but if someone could provide a response to the content in this video and validate if it's the translations are real, it'd be greatly helpful!

Does Islam preach these things?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Vellitthirai (Tamil) - Movie Review

Expectation is the root cause of disappointment and this movie is a typical example. Had it not been produced by Prakashraj under the 'Duet movies' banner; I would've greatly appreciated the movie. But after giving a masterpiece like Mozhi, Vellitthirai created great expectations and somehow couldn't make it up to the mark.

Vellitthirai is the story behind the silver screen, typically focusing on the number of youngsters who come to Chennai with the dream of being a part of the film industry and the changes that a person undergoes once madam luck knocks his door. It also touches upon the hero centered culture in movies which is the primary cause for purely commercial movies.

Prakashraj and prithviraj are as wonderful as usual and did perfect justice to their roles. Gopika doesn't play a huge part in the movie but the romance sequence between Prithvi and Gopika is cute and enjoyable. Needless to say that Bhaskar performed his role so naturally. The scenes where he insists on outdoor (abroad) shootings are just too hilarious. Some dialogs in the movie were outstanding. Examples - "Kodambakkatthula therama irukkuravan therama illaadhavan nu ellaam kedaiyaadhu... Vaaippu kedacchavan, vaaippu kedaikkaadhavan rendae paer dhaan!", "Oru ponna pidicchaa dhaan oru aambalayaala avala rasikka mudiyum". The only song that stays in my mind is "Uyirilae..." and the music (which was a great + in Mozhi) is not up to the mark in this movie. The biggest negative in the film at least in my opinion was the climax and the way Prithviraj completes the film that was interrupted by Prakashraj! Somehow it sounded a bit too childish. The director left his mark in a few places while making us yawn and yell at most other places.

In short Vellitthirai is a good attempt to show the life behind the scenes and to a great extent it succeeds in giving us the real picture too. But the slips in the movie were not expected in a movie produced under Duet movies banner.

Top 10 reasons to be a Hindu!

Beyond the layers of spirituality, philosophy and beliefs; man* is embedded with an inquisitive mind that questions everything that he sees and does and nothing but pure reason could convince it. In trivial things, we let it loose and with religion most of us control it in the fear of questioning God and being a sinner. I couldn’t accept this difference in perspective and I’ve revisited my beliefs, practices and religion quite often. Every time I think about it, Hinduism makes me feel proud, thankful and ecstatic; and this article is an attempt to identify the top 1o reasons to be happy about my spiritual self.

10: The Oldest Living Religion

Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world and there is no start date for the religion. Ever since the day when man glimpsed at the sun with respect, Hinduism was born.

9: Liberty

Hinduism never compels you to do anything. No part of Hinduism mandates you to go to temples and there is nothing called a ‘Hindu Costume’. The religion underlines the fact that self actualization is the ultimate target for a man.

8: Feel free to ask questions

Unlike many other religions, Hinduism lets you question everything and sincere efforts are made to answer your question with the best reasoning possible. The Upanishads and Bhagavath Gita are classic examples of this quest for knowledge.

7: Vastness

Hinduism doesn’t have one holy book though ‘Bhagavath Gita’ is usually considered one. It is essentially a collection of so many sayings, wealth of knowledge and an ocean of facts presented under one name.

6: The way it spread

Hinduism does not believe in thrusting religion on others. Hinduism discourages conversion and it has never spread itself through conquests or forcible campaigns.

5: Contributions to the Human Society

Hinduism has provided innumerable contributions to the human society beyond the religious aspect. It has been the bed for countless discoveries, inventions, ideas and practises that helps an average man to be a better individual.

4: Civilization

Hinduism has never held itself to bad ideas; and concepts like animal sacrifice which came up in the minds of metamorphosed apes were slowly replaced by non-violent alternatives that beautifully retain the rituals intact except for the bloodshed. This level of civilization is hard to find in any other religion.

3: Science

Hinduism is filled with science and every single aspect of Hinduism has a scientific background to it. Even though “God’s will” could be used as an escapism to explain the complex realities, Hinduism never does that and even better the answers are packed neatly in the religious capsule. A classic example is the theory of evolution explained by ‘Dasavathara’ (the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu).

2: It’s not a religion but a way of life

Hinduism doesn’t refrain itself into a religious shell and instead it offers habits and best practices which are an integral part of life. From Yoga till the Ozone inhalation in Dhanur masa (the nineth month in the lunar calendar) there are so many ways in which a Hindu is made to follow best practices without even realizing he is.

1: I’m not a sinner, I’m God

‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I’m God) is the underlying principle of a beautiful concept called Advaita that says God and Man are not two different entities and God manifests Himself in the form of life in all of us. None could explain life or God and that makes them synonymous.

The second part is the concept of ‘sinner’. I do things good and bad, and the bad things I do make me a sinner, is the version presented by many religions in the world. Some religions even follow ‘union theory’ where the fear of being haunted by sins is used as the base to attract people to the religion. But Hinduism leaves its classic mark here too. The soul (Jeevathma) in you is the ‘real You’ and eradication of the traces that your mistakes can leave behind in it by awakening the intelligence in you, is the concept behind the Maha Gayathri Mantra. To me this phenomenon cannot be explained any better.

Should there be any incomplete pieces here that you’d like to know more on, please feel free to contact me.

|| ‘Sarvam Shivarpanamasthu’ ||

* The word Man is used in a non gender-specific way all through this article

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Indians in US

With the number of Indians in US expanding year after year, different views have come in about outsourcing and non-immigrants. However, that is not the topic of my conversation. I wanted to talk more about the impact left in an average Indian by the American society and some extremes I've seen and experienced.

To a first time (Indian) traveler, US is bound to be different in a lot of ways. Right from the way you turn a switch on/off (trust me they are opposite in India and US) to the way people behave is totally different out here in the US. Inside a professional setup, people wear an artificial 'good person' mask and they act as per the protocol defined for a diplomatic professional. Any stranger would fake a smile and ask "how are you" as s/he crosses you and if you stop there to explain how you are doing, you are bound to get a strange look from the person who inquired about you. You are just supposed to say 'Good. Thank you' and keep walking. After all you have a protocol in place!

Does this mean Americans are hypocrites and Indians are the best in the world?! Not at all. There are so many things we have to learn from them. People (at least for the most part) respect other people. American bosses are generally more liberal and all they need is that the work needs to be done. They don't care when you turn up, whether you blog or Orkut at work as long as the tasks assigned to you are done. Most people are in perfect shape, no extra flesh (there are a few others in the other extreme too). I'd say at least 60% of Americans stay in perfect shape through regular exercises.

So what happens when our Ramus, Somus and Karthiks (Indianized version of Tom, Dick and Harry) are put into this atmosphere? Quite interestingly they absorb the bad things easily and find it hard to learn the good things. Indians settled in US make the worst bosses in the world with their meaningless tortures in the name of improvising productivity. Almost every Indian out here has a tummy with a few or more extra pounds. Indians also vacation like crazy and Niagara on any given day has less Caucasians than what we see in any famous Indian tourist spot. They try to become artificial in the process of 'adapting' to the environment and with the traditional conservative 'money saving' attitude Indian folks come up with a lot of bright and insane ideas to reduce their expenses. Sometimes this goes to the level of getting something for a tour, using it to the fullest, coming back from the tour and returning it saying they are not happy (shops here take the product back no questions asked as long as the item is not damaged). Then comes the worst part. As though they were finding it hard to control their desires, people start boozing, smoking, haunting strip clubs and you name it! IMHO whatever you are, has to be the same wherever you are and when you try to hide all your inner personalities and stay silent due to the social restrictions/culture then that is no way close to being truly traditional.

In total Indians in US are neither raw nor completely cooked. Due to this 'cat on the wall' approach they take, it's hard to sync in with these folks and somehow the Indian in me is not happy when he sees other Indians being senseless and unlovable.

P.S: As usual, this is a generalized version in my personal opinion and it doesn't mean that all Indians in the US are bad... I'm talking about the majority and summarizing my views!

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm Kannan... Single... 30 yrs old!

Since I got into story telling mode in the previous post, I thought I could adopt the same for this post too considering the correlation it has to the current status of the Indian society.

Kannan is not so different from the other Indian youngsters. He is of average height, not so dark-not so fair complexion, loves cricket, spends a lot of time on Orkut and Gmail and he has a decent if not handsome appearance. However, there is one major difference. He is not into IT as most others are. He is a senior field engineer in a reputed firm at Ambatthur that manufactures spares for trucks and heavy vehicles. Until the time Kannan's parents came up with the idea of getting him married (In India, the parents decide bride/groom and incidentally the system works better than many others across the world), Kannan was a happy go lucky person who had a comfortable living with his 15K salary and lived life - king size. But then every happy story has a twist!

The first time he heard his dad conversing with the girl's parents was the first time he felt inferior in his life. The plan was that Kannan's parents would talk to the girl's parents just as a formality and then Kannan would meet the girl and talk to her. Courtesy - a popular matrimonial site that hosted Kannan's personality in his own words. Kannan took 3 full days to come up with the profile and the first few lines of the profile read "I'm Kannan, Single, 25 yrs old Mechanical Engineer working in a reputed firm. I'm a happy go lucky person with good sense of humor and I'm looking for a girl who is understanding, homely and cute".

When the profile had a response, Kannan was ecstatic and it was a usually unusual day where every guy has a kind of excitement about getting married and a virtual ball kept rolling in Kannan's stomach. His brain was thinking of ways he could start the conversation with the girl, the questions he could ask her and the topics that would be romantic while his hands were busy brushing his hair and his eyes scanning his mirror reflection a thousand times to ensure he's presentable. The hour finally came and Kannan's dad called up the girl's home.

Dad: Hello! May I talk to Mr. Karthikeyan please.
Dad: Hello sir! This is Rangarajan - Kannan's father. How are you doing sir?
Dad: I'm doing great by God's grace. So everything as per plan? Are we meeting at Kabhaleeshwarar temple at 10: 30?
Dad: But sir... You could've at least told us before!
Dad: Hmm...
Dad: That's ok sir! That's God's will. What else could we say... Thank You!

Kannan was confused by the conversation and suddenly all the excitement he had since morning was wading off. "What happened dad" he asked his father...

His father remained silent for a couple of moments and said "The bride's family doesn't want to proceed any further with this marriage proposal. They have a better profile - a software engineer settled in US, earning 200K per month in Indian value. Don't worry Kanna. You'll get a better girl".

Those words keep echoing in his ears all these years, every echo reducing the trust in those words and every rejection reducing the confidence in him. "After all 15K?, Mechaaanical Engineer?, Hasn't even been to US?, Was he a college drop out?" - different versions of the same story from different girls. Kannan is still unmarried, thinking about learning SAP and applying for a US H1 visa. The profile in his matrimonial site currently reads - "I'm Kannan, Single, 30 yrs old Mechanical Engineer working in a reputed firm... "

Friday, March 21, 2008

Performance-driven appraisal

If you are not a 'yet another nerd' working for a Software services company, you might not have heard the phrase 'Performance-driven' appraisal quite often! The definition of appraisal says "appraisal [n] - the classification of someone or something with respect to its worth". In this context, we are talking about a poor (based on his state and not his/her wallet) software engineer who is promised about being classified into 'buckets' purely based on his/her performance. The best 'bucket' gets you more money and a better chance to get promoted (at least as per the book) and vice versa. It's such an interesting concept in itself and when you are not the person in question, it's real fun to watch the whole thing. I thought of adopting a story-telling mode for this post to make it all the more lively...

Ramu (that's the default name in all Indian stories isn't it) is a brilliant environmental engineer who can talk fluently in English (importantly say his name correctly) and has a decent score in his exams (I said brilliant and this should be implicit). His college being one of the top 200 in the state that has 210 colleges, a great software company, let's call it tnazingoc visits the campus for recruiting freshers. Out of the 300 who attend the aptitude tests, 299 are short-listed for the interview round and quite obviously Ramu was one of them. Tnazingoc decides to have a short and sweet interview round considering the number of students attending and the time factor. Ramu's interview is scheduled at 3:51 PM and by the time he gets into the room it's 5:30 PM. The interviewer has a stern look and gave all symptoms of putting forth the toughest question that one could imagine. Finally the conversation starts -

Interviewer: "What is your name"...
Ramu: "Ramu sir"
I: Good! Could you tell us about yourself Ramu?
R: I'm Ramu... Environmental Engineer from Annai Arulmigu Anandavally college of Engineering with a CGPA of 8.993. I'm the only son of my parents and my hobbies are reading, playing cricket and watching movies.
I: Great! Thanks Mr. Ramu. It was nice speaking to you! Please wait outside. We'll get back to you.

One phrase that jeopardizes any interview candidate is "We'll get back to you!" - nothing is committed, no answer given! Ramu waits outside the placement hall with half of his nails gone and finally the company representative shows up and announces the list of candidates selected.

"Based on the stringent evaluation of the candidates, we are pleased to announce that 295 candidates have been selected by Tnazingoc. The names are... Raghu B.E. Mech, Ramu B.E Env Engg, Seetha B.E Instrumentation, ...". Ramu feels ecstatic about his achievement not knowing what is waiting for him...

After a lead time and a so called training he gets into the actual stadium - a huge building with high tech infrastructure and 1000s of employees generating constant waves of sound through their keyboards. Ramu gets introduced to his team leader Bharath and his project manager Ashok. Being quite brilliant Ramu manages to write some good programs within a short span. Appreciations all around make him feel as if he is God. Then comes the appraisal season. A lot of co-workers staying late, some getting certifications in technologies, some working hard to manage their work and other's work; and Ramu being a first-timer didn't realize that they are getting ready for appraisal. Finally, Ramu's appraisal meeting was scheduled and he walks into a conference room with a glass table, costly chairs and vibrant interior decor. Ashok and Bharath spoiled the beauty of the room by their presence but the lead and the manager had to be there for his meeting. The conversation starts...

Ashok: Hi Ramu! Wazzup?
Ramu: Pretty much the usual stuff Ashok. Working on a data model for the new project.
Ashok: Good! We are greatly impressed by your performance. Bharath in particular gave a wonderful feedback about you. He thinks you are a stellar performer. (Ramu gives a broad smile good enough for a dentist to treat him. Bharath keeps nodding all along whether Ashok's statement needs an acknowledgment or not) It's our pleasure to give you the second bucket for all your contributions.
R: (Thinks WTF) But Ashok... why second bucket? Why not first?
A: That is where it gets tricky Ramu. We have so many other experienced folks in the team who desperately need some recognition. Usually we give the third bucket to new comers but in your case you deserved a lot better rating and that's why we gave you a second bucket.
R: :(
A: Don't worry Ramu. You will surely get the first bucket and a promotion next time.
R: :) Thanks Ashok.

A year passed like a jiffy and Ramu's profile is really great now. He's done a lot in the past year and he's sure about getting positive results. A different room with the same faces and the discussion starts...

Ashok: Here comes the man... Please sit down Ramu.
Ramu: Thanks Ashok.
A: You've done a great job Ramu. I could see you spin around the entire bay. Getting a team member like you is not easy. But you know what... From an experienced (?!) candidate like you we expect a lot more.
R: What more could I do Ashok? I completed all my work on time, helped others and never delayed my deliveries.
A: I know. That is why you are given the second bucket. To get the first bucket, you need to think out of the box. Do things at the organization level... Handle trainings, Conduct interviews, Interact with the Center of Excellence teams... I didn't see any of them.
R: But Ashok, I hardly had time for all that.
A: This is where your time management skills come into play. You need to prioritize your work and come up with the most optimal path.
R: Am I at least getting a promotion this time?
A: I've nominated your name. Let's see. But I can't assure anything now. We are yet to get the complete list.
R: Thanks...

Should I even say that Ramu is still waiting for the first bucket and promotion?! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Resuming blogging after a short break... Brain cells tire out thinking a lot of topics and weighing the advantages of one topic against the other! So they badly needed a break!

Coming to the topic, if there is a poll on the most discussed topic among guys then the topic 'girls' would sweep the polls... With girls the story is entirely different because you don't have just guys in the contest, you have gossip, cosmetics, dresses and a lot of other stuff that compete quite equally. Quite obviously we guys do discuss a lot about girls in a lot of different perspectives from physical appearance to character... So I thought of discussing things both good and bad that I observed in girls I saw and came across in my life...


Guys never notice differences in their friend's appearance unless the difference is too obvious (like a very poor haircut that leaves the scalp like a partially mowed lawn). But with girls, it's not the case... Try walking to your friend who is a girl (the phrase girl friend avoided for obvious reasons) with a small stain on your shirt which is usually unnoticeable. Chances are that you would get caught within the first couple of minutes.


Guys try their best to be caring but come on... they are not designed for that! Girls often tend to care more than what you want them to and often that makes them question every 10-15 seconds about your wellness. If you are down with fever and you let your best friend who is a girl (quite funny to type) know, chances are that you'll end up answering the phone at least 20 times that day!


Almost everyone has some childishness in him/her. The famous quote "There is no point growing up if you cannot be a child at times" is an illustration of that fact. However, the proportion of girls I've observed to be childish is much higher than what I observed in guys!


Even the most silent girl is highly talkative within her group. With guys a reserved guy is a reserved guy wherever he is but with girls, a reserved girl acts differently when she is with her friends and when she is in a larger gang.


I might be generalizing a bit too much here. But many girls are possessive about their friends and belongings! At least that is my observation.


A girl who stays at home knows much more than a guy who is hanging out most of the day!

Independently dependent:

Girls seem to depend on someone way too much either emotionally or personally but at the same time they easily switch preferences. Someone who was inevitable a couple of years back becomes a good friend today and a good contact tomorrow. At any point, a person who shows a lot of interest on her is always considered the best by a girl! Again, may be I'm generalizing... But that's something I observed out of my experiences.

Emotional handicap:

With the brain being locked in an emotional trap, girls usually end up taking decisions purely out of their heart which in most cases will not be correct. Ironically, even after realizing that they made a mistake, it is next to impossible for them to correct that.

Hypocrisy when it comes to guys:

Girls enjoy guys falling for them but many do not want to reveal that. A beautiful girl almost always confirms that the guys around her are interested in her through unnoticeable gestures. Guys however strong just start shaking at the sight of a beautiful girl staring at them and get caught. But a girl never reveals anything more than a smile at the corner of her lips... Gets hard for the guys to assess her pulse.

Quite too many factors listed. Some might sound offensive or too generalized but as I mentioned, it is just my view of the girls I've seen and been with. May be I'm wrong but my perspective stays until I find data to correct my wrong observations (if any) :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tampa to Tampa via St. Augustine and Daytona

One good thing about US is that you can cover long distances in short intervals due to the roadways and infrastructure in place. A travel that'd take about 10 hours at the least back in India would not even take 5 hours in the US even if you are always traveling within the speed limit (70 miles per hour is the speed limit in most roads but almost everyone drives at 80 mph and we drive even faster with the speeds sometimes crossing 120 mph). The result - you can plan trips at the last moment, comfortably arrange everything online and travel in your car.

We planned a trip on Friday and covered St. Augustine (a historical ?! place in FL) and Daytona (yet another Floridan beach) in the past couple of days. Apart from the usual solo and group snap collection for Orkut, some photographic experiments, food and roaming; I did find a few other things quite interesting in this trip.

First, the ability of Americans to make a big show out of nothing! The St.Augustine fort is the oldest fort in whole of US and surprisingly the fort was built only in the 1600s which is just over 400 yrs back. With the facilities, good orators and the past era costumes; they made thousands of visitors look at the place as if it was the most historic spot in the whole world! Back in India, we have a lot of temples, buildings and architectures that are thousands of years old but hardly any effort is taken to maintain them and some of them are not even known to Indians in other states.

Second, the revenue that is generated out of this vacationing craze. In India, people tend to save a lot which beyond question is a good habit. But even those who tend to spend money don't have much choices because the spots within India and well known across India could be numbered; thanks to the Government's strenuous efforts to hide these spots from visitors. In US, if you cover 5 different varieties of places viz cities with huge sky scrapers, old cities, theme park laden areas, hills and beaches; chances are that you won't find any more different places wherever you go. But still you could see a host of Americans traveling at every possible opportunities to different parts of US just because of the internet marketing and complete usage of technology to their (the Government/property owner) favor.

Third, on a lighter note the fun that we had in beach sports. Assembling a gang, going to some good beach and playing some sport is tiresome but refreshing. Even volley ball in strong winds and cricket in soggy beach sand was absolutely entertaining. In normal days, either so many people don't get together or there is always some other work that might take priority. So dedicating sometime of life for vacationing really helps!

Let's hope that meaningful vacationing is promoted in India and the beauty and majesty of the tourist spots and the ancient Indian tradition is taken to all corners of the world!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Indian History

Ok... Too many scattered thoughts for the past few days! So let me come back to a serious topic...

During my school days I always had a feeling that studying history was an absolute waste of time and we rather could've had 2 science classes instead of a history or a geography class! After all, everyone needs a decent score in Physics, Chemistry and Maths/Biology to get into a professional course. So why care about history? But now, I realize the mistake I made in assessing the value of History! History offers something that no other subject can offer - experience. Where else do we get to learn from the mistakes of the losers and improvise on the characters of a winner? Perhaps a better history teacher would've created better interest in the subject but unfortunately all history teachers I had in my school days were middle class home makers who had to work for their economical stability and there were so many classes to handle and too many students to attend to. So they can't be blamed but the cause of my disinterest pretty much laid there...

Even today I'm not an expert in any kind of history but one thing that I could conclusively say is that Indian history has been messed up to a great extent and even worse - no initiative has been taken to improvise the information contained. I can point out several instances where History has been proven wrong right from Gandhi uttering the words 'Hey Ram' when he was shot to the latest findings on Taj Mahal that reveal the diligent efforts put forth in converting it into a tomb. (Refer to for more details.) But it'd indeed be controversial and I don't prefer that either! If that is one part of it, there is another portion of untold history like the scientific analysis of the past virtues. For instance, I was amazed when my friend told me the acoustic specialties of Golkonda fort. Despite my interest in History, I've never come across this fact in any book! The very sense of superiority and pride that these kinds of facts instill in a young mind is incomparable and rather than studying chapters and chapters on the battles that went between the Indian rulers and mugging up the years they happened, equal importance should also be given to the contributions from the emperors in various fields along with their scientific background. Further, efforts need to be taken to ensure that the history that a child learns is accurate and transparent as opposed to some story that underwent innumerable revisions. That is the only way the child can realize the importance of history, understand the ugly transformation from scientists to observers, sense the patriotism in him/her and cherish the learnings for a life time.


If you had a chance to read through my earlier posts, you would've come across the word pseudo-secularism in so many places... It's time to explain what I exactly meant by that phrase...

"Secularism is generally the assertion that certain practices or institutions should exist separately from religion or religious belief" -- Courtesy Wikipedia. As we all know India declares itself to be a secular country and often Indian National Congress and other parties boast of their secularist stand while accusing Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) for being anti-secular. Logically combining the above statements, the Indian National Congress says that it is totally independent of any religion or religious bias. Let's take a look at some facts...

The Haj Committee Act, 1959 says that Haj pilgrims chosen by the designated committee would be given subsidy for their religious pilgrimage. Ironically, no muslim country offers subsidies to this pilgrimage. At the same time, there is a 10 Rs registration tax applied on pilgrims to Amarnath.

There are constituencies reserved for minorities a.k.a Christians and Muslims... Quite obviously there are no constitutional privileges for the Hindus even though they are minorities in a lot of North Eastern and Northern states.

Somnath temple was reconstructed with funds from public (under the pressure of M.K. Gandhi post independence) while mosques in Delhi were re-constructed with Government funding.

Kashmir has intentionally been deprived of the major Hindu population and heights of injustice - a hindu cannot buy land in Kashmir.

We have a Government board that controls the revenues from Hindu temples across India and it is being used like revenue from any other Government sources. But churches and mosques can raise their funds and spend them at their will...

The examples are innumerable but my words and time are limited. So let me not dwell into these differences now. Suffice it is to say that the Indian National Congress (the party that ruled India for 50+ long years to change a developed country into a developing country), in the name of secularism has served as a pro-minority agency targeting on the minority vote banks and thriving on the divide and rule strategy established by the British.

I'm not against Christians or Muslims but the concept of secularism is now becoming synonymous to anti-Hindu and that is something I find difficult to digest. To put the whole concept in a word, I call it 'pseudo-secularism' - the false version of secularism.

When Narendra Modi was questioned by the press if muslims will have security in Gujarat, he said - "Every Gujarati will have security in my rule"!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Office bags...

A bag that is carried to school is termed a school bag and extending the logic to a bag that is carried to the office we can or I prefer to call it an 'office bag'. Weirdly enough that is the topic of my post today...

I've been working for about 4 years now and I haven't felt the need for carrying a bag to work! So quite often, I wonder what would be there inside the bag! Especially after coming to US and seeing people carrying (or should I say dragging) huge strollers in the name of bags, the concept makes me all the more curious...

In a way I could justify (some) girls/ladies carrying bags... You know... the accessories, mirrors, cosmetics, napkins and what not... That amount of inventory definitely deserves a bag! Over here I've even seen ladies who carry 3 bags and have no place for their sun glasses, cell phone and keys!!! Even better, the runner at their places havefood items, energy drinks and accessories that are good enough to serve everyone in office at a stretch!

But when I see a guy with a stroller, I couldn't even find out a way to explain that... May be he carries 3 pattapatti dowsers (shorts in Indian or rather Tamilian style), 2 shirts, a t-shirt and a pant?! Quite tricky to explain and this often makes me chuckle at the site of these guys!

Whether they really carry something in their bags or not, it's a real fun to watch these folks and perhaps that's the purpose I could see in the meticulous packing that these people do everyday before starting to office.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The beautiful mind!

No this is not a review on the movie enacted by Russel Crowe. To me the very concept of mind is special let alone the endless varieties it offers across persons...

In the evening, when I had a tough time at work, I could feel sleep covering up my eyes in place of eyelids and I was almost paralyzed with tire! Indeed I came home and thought about a cat nap (at least that's what I'd like to call a 5 or 6 hr sleep :)) my roomie stepped in and asked if we could play tennis today... Like a spell cast by the snap of a Genie's finger, all my tiredness vanished and I was ready in the next few minutes and ironically we played longer than usual and I played better than usual.

Thinking about it (of course this thought in itself is a courtesy of my mind), I wonder how an abstraction seems so life like and the powers that the creator has embedded in it. Even light would take a few milli-seconds to reach my home town from US. But my thoughts can reach there any moment without any latency of any sort! No wonder man created a field called psychology to analyze this beauty within everyone of us...

A real hectic day!

Yesterday I was happy that I'm having a blank mind. But today I'm having a blank mind because I'm stressed out! It has really been a messy day...

Problems to fix starting from 4 AM, deployment of a new code, problems in the new code, validation, verifications... things just left my head spinning...

Should rush home now and hit the bed and I hope I get some sleep at least today! Cross your fingers for me :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

A blank mind

After a long long time, I'm having something that I never had for years - a blank mind. Absolutely deprived of any thoughts, any purpose and any confusions... To me this is like riding a car at 120 mph in Times Square without getting a ticket - next to impossible!

Some kind of thought always occupies my mind - be it philosophy, spirituality, art, movies, relationships, self analysis, work, career, something... something has always been there. I always had something to write... something to share.. But today, my mind is as clear as quartz settled down like a saint in the verge of self realization.

May be a hectic day at work left it too tired to think or may be it decided to take a break. Either ways, I'm sure I'll have an undisturbed sleep and a serene mind at least for a while! Let me enjoy it before it's lost! :)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Daylight Savings...

The only place where 3 AM follows 1:59 AM is Daylight Savings (DS) - a concept followed by US, parts of Europe and Australia. The logic behind DST is that people use natural light to a greater extent and hence power consumption is reduced.

But this concept never impressed me till date not just because it is so unnatural but also because of the fact that thousands of person hours are being wasted across the globe to maintain software and correct any defects due to this sudden 'drift' in time. IT companies don't mind getting paid for monitoring their client's software and the impacts if any due to DST changes, but why should such a huge amount of time and money be wasted on a crap concept?!

I accept that humans can control their lifestyle and their social practices but meddling with nature and conventions is not even close to impressive. If you prefer using a lot of natural light, wake up an hour early and come to office by 7 instead of 8. Why does it need moving the hour hand back and forth in a year? Beyond all this, there are so many other unjust ways in which power is wasted and I don't comprehend what sense it makes to compromise the lifestyle to save energy on one side and waste it at the other.

Let's hope that saner ideas are brought forth in the future and that humans realize that nature is too complex and delicate to meddle with...

We badly need a light topic... :)

Over the past few days, my thoughts have been occupied by spirituality to a greater extent and the reflection was quite obvious in my posts. That means a high time for a light topic. So why not fulfill my friend's request to write about the house where I (we) stayed when I was in Chennai.

Kasthuribhai nagar, adyar is a serene place close to all the facilities of urban life but far from the clumsy atmosphere that is a by-product of urbanization. Unless you get into the nearby roads (LB road or SP road), the traffic is limited, the place is green and silence fills the air for the most part. A rich retired person can choose Kasthuribhai nagar to settle down - eyes shut! But it's not the area that I'm gonna talk about here but the chaos inside an apartment in Kasthuribhai nagar that hosted a mini-colony...

In a city where renting houses to bachelors is considered a sin, we managed to find a quite big apartment 3BHK (that's 3 Bedrooms, Hall and a Kitchen for people new to house hunting)! The opening population was 6 members, all guys working in different companies in different core areas. 5 of us were from my college and one the friend of one of my friends. It all started there and as time progressed, the population kept growing and at a point we were 12 persons staying in a 3 BHK. With the neighbor's invigilating every move in a bachelor's den (which was quite irritating); this grew up to be a real issue because the greater the number of persons the greater is the water consumption (people somehow always forgot that we paid twice as much as a normal family with 6 members paid). We always counted the number of persons in our house as if we never knew any number more than 6. Even when there were 12 persons, we'd turn on our cool and say "six!" whenever a neighbor questioned us. The best part is that 6 persons had 8 bikes and we count our bikes using the same "Upper limit 6" algorithm!! " :) Every morning, 12 different faces will walk right through their doorway and yet the algorithm remained unchanged!

Long nights at Besant nagar beach, watching movies on the day they hit the screens, weekly temple visits, pulling each other's legs, playing cards like crazy, getting all types of DVDs at dirt cheap rates and watching 3 of them in a row, glaring at Prakash raj as we crossed his office in the next street were some of our regular activities.

This post would be incomplete if I don't talk about a couple of interesting personalities here - the watchman of our apartment and our house owner. With his face buried in mustache and his eccentric character, our watchman was a real entertainer. One of my roomies had a very good combination working out with him and they used to fight like Agni Nattchathram (an old Tamizh movie where the heroes fight with each other in every possible opportunity, in case you don't know the language) Karthik and Prabhu whenever they met each other. The only thing missing was the BGM. :) The funny part about this is when other residents get involved in these clashes, they get the best one-line replies that makes them run away from the place. I still laugh recollecting the incident where the secretary of our apartment tried to do the negotiation and got his piece! :))

Our house owner was an interesting person too. He was a bank manager who loved talking and the love grew beyond limits that my roomies never opted to pay the rent. Somehow he had a special reverence to me and as a result almost always it was me and one of my roomies who pay the monthly rent. Many a times, we've got trapped in his house when the other folks are waiting for us in the movie hall and the tens of calls that came in to our mobile phones never disturbed his flow and continuity. But indeed he was good at his heart and we always had a warm welcome from him and his wife whenever we went to his house. So in a lot of ways I should thank him for being courteous.

We had some differences of course and minor clashes here and there were unavoidable but we never failed to get together the same night and play cards. Every single person was different and so were their lifestyles but somehow we put up a quite impressive show that made everyone enjoy the stay. People came and people went but the fun and the laughter remained intact as long as we stayed in the simple and spacious house at the heart of Adyar.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

An Interesting Question...

During the spiritual discussions in the temple on the night of Maha Shivarathri, there was an interesting yet complex question that came up! "If God's will decides everything, why is it that he created me with the desire for money, making me stay in US far from my homeland and my people? If I'm not responsible for what I'm doing, can I do all sorts of bad deeds and call God as the person responsible for all that?" Since this question came up around 4 AM, not many were in a mood to answer it seriously and the question ended with a humorous answer - "I'll surely ask this when I see God!"

But a bit of thought would reveal that everyone has this question deep within. In my view, there are two parts to this question - (a) Why did God create me this way (b) Should I assume responsibility for my deeds?

The answer to part (a) is that God has His own reasons. For instance, Hinduism came back to the west through us. Now Westerners are aware of another religion called Hinduism and its great traditions. Any good thing happens only by the sacrifice of something else - physical or emotional.

Part (b) is a bit tricky. In my view, God (the paramathma) leads you through the soul (Jeevathma) in you and He has provided you with the best of gifts - Reason a.k.a the sixth sense. When the sixth sense is applied and decisions are made to the best of your interests, then even if the act results in a disaster, we cannot assume responsibility for that. But if you are denying the use of Him in you, then you are going against the will of the Lord and like a mother watching her child play around in her vicinity, God watches our activities and marks his presence somewhere to make us realize the mistake that we did!

I answered his question at least to an extent that I'm convinced... But I have a question and I'm not sure who will answer it - "Why did Lord get into the concept of creation? Why should he create the world and the universe and let the lives in there analyze the reason for their lives and search for Him? Is He afraid of loneliness? Does He want followers? Does He need some proof to prove his powers?". Will someone answer?!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tampa, Hinduism and Maha Shivarathri

When I came over to US, I was told that there would not be much of a difference in terms of availability of typical Indian utilities and infrastructure. Specifically, I was told that there are too many temples out here and I wouldn't miss any religious portion of my life. Being quite (or should I say a lot) religious, that was a pretty good news to me but I wasn't sure about the authenticity of the information.

My doubts were shattered to bits when I came into Tampa, Florida. It had (and still has) this beautiful little temple that impressed me a lot. (There's quite something to talk about the general life style too but I'll do it in a separate post.) Situated at Lynn road, about 15 miles from my home, this temple has now become a part of my life here. The first thing that impressed me in this temple was the divinity in the vigrahaas (idols). I've been to other temples in US where the vigrahas are disproportionate or dull preventing you from concentrating on the Godliness aspect of the vigraha. After all this associativity is why Hinduism follows idol worship and once that is broken, everything else is gone!! But the deities in this Floridan temple are so divine that you feel like visiting some ancient traditional Hindu temple in TamilNadu. Save a few basic things like aahama shashtra or the strictness in rituals (which has to be compromised when building a temple in a foreign land under so many regulations and people adopting such a different culture), this temple has the positive spiritual vibrations that any divine source of energy has!

Mahashivarathri this time was a classic example for the in-home comfort this temple offers me. Staying there the whole night, blessed with the boon to watch the Abishekas and poojas done to Lord Shiva throughout the night with a scope to share some of my thoughts on the scientific backgrounds of Hinduism, and understanding the background of Cambodian temples was a blissful experience; not to mention the 2 hour quiz on Hinduism where the devotees were questioning each other on the interesting aspects of the lovely religion. In short, the Mahashivarathri this time in US was one of the most spiritually focussed moments in my life and it was not just a night where I stayed awake and discussed gossips and politics; but a night when I was given the boon to focus purely on Hinduism, spirituality and Lord Shiva!

A day out...

For the first time since I started my blog, I didn't post anything yesterday... half due to official work and half due to personal work... The day was spent usefully though! Let me try to write on it pretty soon and I hope there won't be such outages in the future :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Nature has never failed to impress me and to me rain is one of the best shows put up by Mother Nature. Whether you call it Varuna (the Hindu God for rains) or droplets formed by condensation of water vapors, the beauty of rain remains unchanged.

With the scent of wet soil, the assembly of clouds that look like huge masses of sponge sprayed all over the sky to hide the stars, the humid air that brazes the nostrils, the sweet memories brought in from nowhere indicating the arrival of their deity; my mind gets so light every time it's about to rain, ready to welcome nature's masterpiece.

The beauty about rain is the choices that it offers you to admire its beauty! Quite narcissistic I'd say but still none of those options could be turned down. If you are alone, just sitting at the edge of your balcony just where the rain drops can't reach you and staring at the rain, listening to the thousands and thousands of gentle claps would take you to your own world of thoughts, dreams and sweet nothings (or may be it's just me :)). If you are with your family, nothing can beat some hot (in taste and temperature) snacks, the chill wind, hot drinks and a game of cards. If you are with your friends, you can either get drenched in the rain & play football/cricket and have a cup of Cornetto ice cream or just talk on all topics under the sun sitting in a room with all the windows open. The bond between rain and romance is a separate topic in itself and more than anything else, the way one views romance is private and subjective. So I defer the discussion here.

To make long things short, if I'd told that I've not fallen in love, it's not a completely true statement because I've been in love with rain ever since I had an analytical mind.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


It doesn't take a rocket scientist to fill in the logical series India, sport, _____________. Quite obviously the answer is Cricket and in India and the definition of sport has been Cricket for quite a while. Other sports including the national game hockey are greatly ignored and a person who follows Hockey world cup wouldn't be a hero in a group that celebrates a person who remembers when and in how many balls Sachin made his 17th ODI century! If India wins the T20 cricket world cup the entire nation celebrates while people hardly know whether the Indian team plays in other world cups or not. There are so many who are ready to fall straight at the feet of Sachin while they don't even know the name of the captain of the Indian team in any other sport.

Looking at this from a sports person's perspective, it is highly unfair and it's a grave injustice to the other sports both by the media and the Government policies. But cricket has become much more than just a sport. Akin to YouTube, a site that gets its 9/10 page rank purely because of its visitors; cricket is becoming a large scale business. India might not be the richest country in the world but the Indian cricket board is the richest in the world with better revenues than any other cricket board including the Australian board. Actors, business men, politicians, product companies and almost everyone with a considerable chunk of money has invested their black, white and gray money in Cricket. A recent statistics that I read in my friend's blog says Ishanth sharma (the newbie pace bowler) is getting hundreds of thousands of rupees for every ball he is bowling in the IPL! That is the level to which money has been liquidated through Cricket.

All said and done, as long as there are folks who worship Cricket and the players it's quite natural that investors would look at Cricket as a Golden duck that takes their products to a larger group of people and converts the bars in their returns charts into skyscrapers. It'd be great if the Government can do something to make the other sports equally popular attracting more and more investors there by helping sports, sportsmen and the best of all - Indian economy.

You got 30 seconds...

If short story writing is an art, directing a commercial is a much more involving task. The concept, the cast, the bgm, the camera, the color composition are some of the several aspects to be taken into consideration. It takes all talent required to direct a good movie PLUS the art of communicating short and sweet.

Good commercials are always a treat to watch. Whether it is the Saint Gobain ad where the fat African-American lady pours water over the glass pane scaring out the poor diners or the airtle ad where they show the power of human expressions or the contemporary Havells cable ad where the boy finds in a Havells cable to help his mom make Rotis; good commercials don't fail to bring a smile to your face and there has been days where I've avoided changing channels because of a sequence of good commercials.

But these days, it's become a miracle to see lively and good commercials. Instead most commercials just make you frown... Typical examples, the PEPSI ads these days, Balti (IBIBO) ads, the FM box ad from Vodafone which makes absolutely no sense in the era of micro-electronics and virtually every other ad that comes in these days just gets one word out of my mouth - 'crap'!

Whether it is the lack of creativity in the new comers or the hurry in coming up with commercials, suffice it is to say that commercials these days have been
disappointing to say the least. Let's hope that we see better ads in the future!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

We offer 24 * 7 support to your applications...

One common clause in the business maintenance and development proposals given by software companies especially on the services front is "We offer 24 * 7 support to your applications". This means that the poor guy who is 'taking care' of the application would be available anytime of the day/night to address problems with the application.

The person who comes to the client location (75% US, 24.23% UK, 0.77% other countries :)) would be told that it is a loooooooooooooong term assignment and he/she comes with the dream of spending a dream vacation at Hawaii or the Alps on one side and carrying a huge sack of US $ or Euros when coming back to India, on the other. But one aspect missed by everyone is the lifestyle out there at the client location.

People might call you at 3 AM in the morning and leave you awake for 3 hours just because some dumb scheduling support person ran the wrong job at the wrong time. The next day (or rather later the same day) your client manager would schedule a meeting at 9 AM to make sure you are in the office by that time to explain what happened early in the morning. On long weekends when clients take a day off before and after the weekend (additionally) to make it a week's vacation, our hero would be sitting all alone in the office to make sure everything is 'up and running'. If he/she manages to sneak a vacation to some good place, a call would immediately follow! Isn't it romantic to sit in a cabin in Smokey mountains and ensure that your application recovered from a failure caused by an untimely shutdown of the database? Not to mention the hours spent to correct the issues created by bugs in the applications that provide data to your application! Everything ran fine but phew on the wrong data!

If this is one portion of it, there is another portion that is shared by all folks who stay out of the country - right from food until your housekeeping you got none to help you out and you need to be your own boss and servant. Thanks to the hundreds of desis out there in the US, right from a temple till cumin seeds you could get almost everything you need in your locality. But the irony is that people hardly get the mood, the material and the time simultaneously to prepare something good and hence most of the time the Indian restaurants and oat meals come to the rescue!

In this largely artificial and happiness free life, the only or rather the couple of advantages are a comparatively better pay and proud parents in India and since both of these are quite important factors, it wouldn't be uncommon to see more and more Indians volunteering to become scape goats!