Thursday, May 29, 2008

What am I after?

Today I'm in a terribly philosophical mood and quite naturally this post will be loaded with philosophical blabberings... So...

Caution: Extreme philosophy ahead!

A question that I had/have for a quite long time is "Will I ever be satisfied? What am I after?" Strictly speaking this is the question that leads to self revelation and this is the question that led Buddha to quit his empire and Swami Vivekananda to become a saint (ok... I'm not comparing myself with them... Just a continuity folks... :D)! I'm not into the question of what am I in this universe and all that... I had been through it but at least now I'm not into it.

My search is for something that could keep me satisfied at least for a while. You know... giving me the feeling of having done something good! Something that I can call an achievement in life. I don't want to be a 'yet-another' in the list. I did my engineering (yet-another engineer), I joined a multinational IT company (yet-another software engineer) and I came over to US on a deputation (yet-another onsite coordinator). If I continue this way and turn back to take a look at the path I've travelled perhaps 10 years down the line, I'm sure I wouldn't be happy to see a 'yet-another' loser all the way.

The basic reason behind all this distress that I could figure out is just one thing - I never loved what I did. I mean, just because I can write software it doesn't mean that I'm the best fit software engineer in the market and in the same way, just because I didn't prefer any other Engineering departments, Computer Engineering is not for me. Somehow the IT flood has drifted me away totally and until I started my work, I always believed I did the right thing and the society gave me all the encouragement to believe so. Even today, I don't find any hesitation to introduce myself in public and tell them what I do for living but if you ask the libran in me to rank me from the achievements standpoint, he wouldn't give me anything more than a '0'. If I try to assess what could make me happy I'd say some form of creative business, some line of work that lets me be innovative and completely free, arts perhaps... But there are two important negatives there. First, is there any guarantee that I'll be happy once I start doing one of these? No idea! What is the probability of being successful in the eyes of the society? To make the lengthy question short, can I make a lot of money? There is hope and scope but no guarantee.

I saw this interesting video on YouTube that talks about risks and defeats and stressing the same old point -"failure is the stepping stone to success"

But the world has had a million unknown Jordans, Edisons, Disneys and Lincolns; and the very education that I spent a major portion of my life on, says that probability of an event is the best guide to choose a path... Now, which way am I supposed to go? Be a loser within myself but a winner for the society; or risk everything and give my intuitions a shot? The creator has decided longtime back and I'm waiting to see if it's bestowed upon me any sooner!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Technology - the brighter side of sixth sense!

This is perhaps the longest interval between two posts in my blog... But then, things can't always be in a straight line - theory of non-linearity as explained in the movie '21'. Ok... this is not a philosophy post so you can carry on without any caution :D

I've always believed that life is driven by needs but the extent to which it has influenced the US life is unimaginable. As the urge to break apart and remain as individuals, free from any strong relationships, increases; the society and the setup needs to transform a lot to accommodate the change. A typical example is driving to an unfamiliar destination in US vs driving to an unfamiliar location in India. In India, we just get the basic idea on the direction of the place and after that you'll have tea shops, auto (it's not just automobile, it's auto :)) drivers, pedestrians, waiters at road-side restaurants, old ladies sitting at the 'thinnai' (sitouts) of their houses and a gazillion others to guide you. But over here, things ought to be planned and things ought to let people be as detached from each other as possible. Cities are neatly planned and you have to come out of the 'free ways' (which are literally free from everything except vehicles) to get anything from food to fresh mints. None of the gazillion persons I mentioned earlier would be on the streets to help you out and you are on your own all the way unless you deliberately get into a mall, order a pizza and ask for directions. However, I should admit that this detachment has improved the lives of Americans to a great extent.

Moving from one place and settling down at the other is nothing less than a nightmare in India. Poor bank officers would often combat this nightmare and tune their minds to such a great extent that they boast on their abilities to move anywhere, anytime. Everything sounds new (as it is supposed to be) in the new place and it takes at least a month to comfortably settle down. But even after that month, people keep thinking about the good neighborhood and the so called 'prestige' they had in their previous locality. But here, life moves on a Fast forward button and if you just have your credit card, mobile phone and a laptop with Wi-Fi; you rule the place. Booking tickets, movers, hotels, transportation, finding accomodations, locating nearby places of importance and anything that you would need in a new place is brought to your finger tips. With a GPS, car, the destination address and a fat wallet; the need to know the place you stay completely vanishes, of course given the fact that you choose and you 'love' to be independent. Whether this promulgates a good trend or not, it definitely proves that the greatest gift of mankind - 'the sixth sense' would make him turn the world around him as he likes. The best part about it - someone's sixth sense helps me enjoy the benefits! :))

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is anything random?

Ok... Long time since I gave you philosophical crap! [:)] Let me talk about something that has been fascinating me for a long time - randomness.

Is there anything really called 'Random'? Scientifically and artificially we could simulate only 'pseudo random' or seemingly random behavior. Extending that to the real world, I often wonder if there is anything called 'Random' at all. The most classic example of a random sequence is atomic vibration. We call them random because we don't see any clear and observable trend in their movement. If quantum physics states that space is an illusion that we assume (see video below), I tend to correlate our daily movements to the subatomic movements. Afterall we could be as small when viewed from a higher altitude and at that altitude, we seem to move in random, without purpose and in an ad-oc fashion but we plan things and we hardly wander around without a purpose. Can it be true that sub-atomic vibrations happen for a purpose or they even plan their steps and communicate with each other; and it's just that the purpose and the equation is not really visible to our eyes? If the answer is yes, is there anything that is really random or it's just that we are yet to invent (or should I say discover) the equation behind these movements? Is the word 'random' abstract as is Mind, Life, Love and God?! There are a lot of mysteries yet to be unravelled, surrounding us!!

Friday, May 16, 2008


I've been oscillating between too many topics and in the end I ended up writing none... Let me pen them down one by one! :))

Of all the indoor board games invented by man, I've always been fascinated by the game of cards. Pretty simple concept - a stack of 52 cards (54 if you included the jokers) classified into 4 varieties; giving innumerable gaming possibilities. I remember inventing weird games that I used to play with a small group of friends during my childhood. From the simple jackpot (keep putting down your cards alternatively until the same number repeats) to strategy games, there is something for everyone in these 52 cards. I remember the quote - "Life is like a game of cards... None knows who invented it and the players didn't frame the rules. The person who does the best with the given cards, wins". How true...

Until I came here, the game I played the most is rummy - forming sets with at least 3 cards per set on a hand of 13 cards! There were (many a) times we were awake all night playing the game... My good old friend Tampa changed this too! :)

I started playing an inherently beautiful game - 'Bridge' and it just wiped off all my past favorites. Even though it is as dependent on the hand that you get, as with any other card game; bridge is not just about luck... It's about team work, communication, calculations, strategies, taking chances and what not... I love the communication part in particular where the bids that you and your partner make can change the course of the game... The same holds good with one wrong move during the course of the game. Unless you have the artistic perfection to play the right cards at the right time, things could always topsy-turvy; unless you have a very strong set of cards which is bound to get you the expected result - eyes shut. Unlike other board games like chess, you don't always get the same set of cards (or pieces) every time and it's not worth by-hearting the moves as one does with games like chess. All you get is guidelines and it's up to you and your presence of mind to turn things to your favor. In short if you want to spend hours together thinking, celebrating and sighing, bridge is the game for you and trust me, you would find the game irresistible. has a very good collection of resources on the game both for beginners and advanced players. But it takes some real deal of time and brain to understand even these tutorials! :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I was a big fan of WWF during my high school days and there have been days when I traveled 10-15 kms (approx 6-10 miles) in my bicycle to watch the matches; caring damn about the scorching sun. It used to be so appealing, you know... the color, the style, the characters, their mannerisms, the trademark shots, the music, the varieties of matches (tag team match, iron cage match, 'kiss my foot' match and so on) were just so attractive that a bunch of us were crazy fans of the program, which even led to real time fights between us. Often it'd be a quarrel on who's great - Hitman or Crush... Undertaker or Diesel... Lex Luger or Yokozuna... Jeff Jarret or Sparkie plug!


Crush (my hero :D)

Shawn Michaels


The best feature of WWF in my opinion was the way the matches were held/handled. It'd never be monotonous. 'Heroes' (during their initial) will have a lot of matches with unheard wrestlers so that they can thwart those kids and establish their popularity. There is always a discrimination between good and evil; and good heroes always keep smiling, entertain their audience a lot, gift their audience with sunglasses and arm bands while the evil always remain in anger, keep shouting and are immoral when it comes to their attitude. The fight between the good and evil comes up once in a while and the ratings skyrocket during these clashes. The best part is good always wins over evil but not so easily. Initially the super hero undergoes a lot of suffering and pain; and in the end, out of nowhere the hero wins and is declared the champion. The drama is stereotype when it comes to 'tag team' matches. Pair 1 and pair 2 clash - person 1 from pair 1 (the good pair) is hit hard by person 2 from pair 2 (the evil pair) and at the end, pair 2 decides to change roles by tagging person 1 and giving him his chance to hit the already exhausted person 1 from pair 1. Just when person 1 from pair 2 reaches out to hit him, the weak gains power from nowhere and tags his partner who is a superhero. The superhero steps in, destroys both elements from pair 2 and destiny is reversed - the good wins over the evil. There was a time when I argued that all this is true but as I developed a little bit of maturity, I understood the drama behind the entertainment and my interested slowly faded off. After I quit watching, there had been a lot of improvements in the 'masala' behind WWF and now there are girls coming out half-naked with the wrestlers and the whole story is fabricated just as it happens in real life (wrestler 1's GF insulting his partner - wrestler 2 and they become enemies; & stuff like that). I've added the video of one of the most dramatized heroes - 'The Undertaker'

After a decade (ok... more than a decade :D), I got the same feeling when I watched the IPL matches. Some players a paid a huge chunk of money and made heroes - classic example Dhoni, Symonds and so on. Out of these there are good heroes (like Dhoni) and evil heroes (like Symonds - read,8659,23016114-23212,00.html if you don't know why). The matches keep happening and some teams keep winning, some teams keep losing while some others win and lose. Just when everyone thinks that the team that lost the first four matches has no way to come in to the top few, the team starts playing like a champion and thwarts the other teams (read heroes suffering first and winning later). At one point there would be more than five teams competing for the top four places and nothing could be decided until the last few matches. The audience thoroughly enjoy the action providing expert comments on the shots played, the line and length of the balls bowled, the fielding, the captaincy, the commitment of the teams, the cheerleaders and whether or not these cheerleaders affect Indian culture; based on their rich experience as viewers. I couldn't control my smile seeing the same spirit I had in me thirteen or fourteen years back; in these grown-up kids enjoying the magic created by a similar show with a better drama behind it.

Cricket or WWF, the bottom line is money and actors, politicians and industrialists are not crazy to invest their money on something that has no clear trends. Whether it makes sense to watch these matches or not; it sure does make sense from the perspective of the investors. After all, it's value for their money and if I were them, I would've invested at least as much in IPL. :)

P.S: With little idea on the algorithm behind the matches, I feel that Chennai Super kings would win the cup given that it stars the Indian captain (superhero) who has been offered the maximum remuneration. After all more investment = more returns.

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's tennis time again!

If you could remember, I wrote a post last week on the Tampa tennis tournament that we contested in and if your memory is too good, perhaps you would've noticed that it was a mix of pros, ameteurs and first-time-racquet-holders. Since our ego (we seriously have no reason to have one with our 'outstanding' tennis skills :D) was hurt, we planned to organize an even contest for equally competent (or should i call it equally weak) colleagues and the end product of all our brain work was a Tennis tournament open to our colleagues and their families.

The first day was fun and it was my first time in the tennis court as an umpire :) It wasn't an exciting thing though to watch the net and the line all the time; the worst part being a chair umpire without a chair :)) But I'd say the purpose was solved because it was all fun, tough contest for the most part and a bunch of happy faces at the end... A few snaps from the tournament for you!

Meet the chairless chair umpire!

Ajith in action!

Prakash preparing to knock the ball off the court! :))

Good pose but not a great shot... Ball ended up in the net! :)

This is drungan monki style! :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The other side of US

Looking at this title, one might perhaps think I'm going to talk about the military operations of US or the Iraq war but this is not even close to that... :) I'm going to talk about the differences between the US I heard of and the US I'm seeing completely from the social perspective!

To an Indian who has never been to US and doesn't have too many friends here, the thought of US would bring in skyscrapers, ultra-modern cars moving as swift as a lightning and a clean, pollution-free, shining environment. The contributors to this image include the duets in Times Square, 'US return' folks and to an extent the media. So is US rich, prosperous, clean and neat throughout? Actually - No!

So, does US have as much pollution as in India? No! If the only two images known to an average Indian has been ruled out, what does US look like? Like any other country US also has the famous line drawn - the 'poverty line'. On one side, people own BMWs and wear 600$ shirts while on the other side, people live in streets as narrow as a gutter and struggle to make their living. Yes! The inequality is there in the US too... But the US government acts way better than the non-functional Indian Government and the people here get to avail a lot of allowances and services offered by the Government. A recreation park (free of cost entertainment) over here has tennis courts that are better than the rented courts back in India. For the most part, the Government takes care of providing basic necessities to its citizens as opposed to the Indian central/state governments which take care of filling up the wallets of the politicians.

My profession hardly allows me to interact with the lower section of the society while the Indian in me (saving every penny) hardly allows me to interact with the higher section of the society. Professionally, everyone I know of is rich or at least living rich but when it comes to the day-to-day services that I avail, I try not to spend a lot of money. A classic example is getting a haircut. The cheapest of the hi-fi hair dressers cost you $15 for a haircut while a not so cozy barber shop costs you $6 and quite naturally I prefer the latter. After all, I'm losing hair man! :D

You could see old people at least 60 years old renting a den in the corner of a market place, filling the place with cutouts and pictures of their heroes - pop singers in the 70s or actors of the past era and making their living with the only rolling chair they have in the shop. Quite often they have sons or daughters who are in constant quarrel with them and the their customers are their only outlet to the memories and problems occupying their minds. Unlike India where people used to settle down in a place and live there forever (unless the head of the household gets transferred across India), you could see that people in US would've resided in at least two states in their life. The rich change their residence for reasons like 'weather', 'sporting' and 'ambiance' while the poor change their residence due to the cost of living factor. Predominantly this is the topic of discussion for the senior citizens in the lower economic segments running these shops and usually I walk out of these places with a heavy heart paying some extra tips to these old people who are cursed to suffer till the end of their life even after having children, grand-children and great-grand-children; and it often reminds me of the damage this trend has caused (and is causing) to the beautiful, strongly-knit Indian society by the Indian ambassadors of US culture. Hail liberty!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My first sports tournament - Ever :)

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would've noted that I've always stayed away from sports ever since my childhood up until I came to Tampa. And, you know what? Tampa took my sporting to the next level - I participated in a tennis tournament! LOL. It wasn't a pro tour or something but it still was a big thing to me - the first experience.

It was fun indeed... I spent the day with a bunch of desis in all weird combination of dresses, accent and peter level (degree of pseudo-Americanization). It was my first clay court experience and I got to play with a few 'real' tennis players and understood that I need to improve on certain areas. Further it also shattered my belief that I'm not even close to picking up the game. A few whoosh serves and top spins surprised me but I was pretty comfortable in returning even the best of their strokes. I was especially satisfied with my serves and when a good player misses your serve, you feel as if you've won the match!

Personally I felt that the organization could've been better and with the round-robin team formation and strictly 6 game sets, even though it was a doubles game, there was a third player on each side - madam luck and unless you had her favor you can't even get close to the top of the list. (It should not take a rocket scientist to predict that I ran out of luck many a times) After a day full of matches, gatorades, phone calls and driving (the match venue was 40 miles away from our place); I didn't have any material benefit or a trophy in hand but what I did have were a bunch of lessons, lots of strokes to analyze and moments to cherish!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Good bye 2013

Wondering why I'm talking about 2013 when we are in 2008? Well... it's not the year but my (ex-)apartment number. Has been my first residential accommodation in Tampa or rather US; and it had been so till a couple of days back. Had been a nice year at 2013 and fortunately my roomies were also in perfect sync with my wavelength and I should say I enjoyed staying there except for the fact that the apartment was in a pretty bad shape (courtesy the previous residents). Ideally I should be missing the place but somehow I'm hardly having feelings of any sort about 2013.

Pondering over that justifies my stand without much of an analysis. Life in the US has largely been driven by need and demand rather than emotion and relationships. Strangers become friends because you need a ride and friends become strangers because you don't stay with them anymore. A true friend can be assessed not only at the times of distress but also during stays abroad especially when he happens to be your roomie. Friends thick as thieves part so easily after a couple of months of stay together because the adjustment factor is reduced infinite times once you start working and earn as much as the other person staying with you. More than anything else, everyone is here to save money and that being the primary factor, other factors like affection, relationship, respect to individuals and values are pushed to the backseat. Pretty naturally, one gets tuned to this environment so soon and the way s/he reacts to situations changes dramatically by this artificiality. When artificiality steps in, the sense of belonging and attachment goes for a toss just like a saint who loses interest in world and earthly pleasures.

So it's quite illogical to correlate 2013 to our ancestral house that we vacated a few years back and it is as illogical to wonder why I didn't have that sense of discomfort while vacating the apartment. After all, the ancestral house spoke to me of my heritage and reminded me of people who made and molded me. Over here, I feel that I'm like a traveler walking along the endless shore of a deep blue sea, collecting the pebbles as I go along; finding some of those pebbles worth preserving and some others not worth carrying. But whether it was a good collection or a bad collection, neither the shore nor my travel ends.