Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Time Travel

Liked this one a lot. Original can be found here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New games for CommonWealth Games

It is being widely publicized in the news how it is raining cats and dogs in Delhi, along with all the unfinished CWG work that has gone eons beyond its scheduled and revised and even re-revised deadlines, with no further hopes of getting completed in the near future. Add to it, more and more water is flowing into Delhi due to Haryana releasing water, creating a flood like situation in most of the venues, especially those concerned with the games. Due to heavy water logging in a lot of areas, a lot of crore rupee infrastructure developed just weeks back is falling apart like a pack of cards… quite literally so. CP is dug up so badly that no amount of fair and lovely cream or even ‘No-Marks’ can repair this damage.

So, as the government is now requesting general public to help make the CWG a success by cooperating with them. Now the fact that the Suresh Kalmadi did not ask for the help when it was time to earn a quick couple of crore is not to be discussed in this post as that merits an extensively dedicated thought of its own. So, coming back to the point… helping the CWG committee out.

I thought… a lot… about WHAT CAN I DO to help them out? I am not wealthy enough to help get some construction work done. I do not have enough political connections to get the public departments to get their work done instead of passing the buck, and on the way earn a quick dozen crore rupees. I am not the son of an influential politician that people would even listen to me. I am a simple engineer trying to be yem-bee-yey. I belong to knowledge economy and thinking is what I do best and damned I will be if I don’t try and think out a solution. And I did. At least I tried.

I thought why don’t we try and invent new sports for CWG 2010 seeing as most of the venues and connecting infrastructure is either incomplete or wrecked by the rains or lying in complete neglect. Hence, most of the games cannot take place in their conventional format. And like the typical Indian story, everything would have to be localized to Indian palate.

Now to the new game formats:

Kabaddi: This one is actually a no brainer. No infrastructure requirement for the game. Minimal requirement of training for the players. And best of all, it is one game where the Indians have a hell lot of more practice than the foreigners and thus more chance for them to win. Especially, looking at the cricket scenario, the Indian players seem unable to do a lot sorely on the basis of their talent.

Skip the pothole: Now that the rains are here and the top 2 mm layer of mortar has washed off the surface of roads, the underlying craters in the roads formed due to the underground water pipes giving way to behemoth craters which can swallow the entire eighteen tire trailers whole and not even belch. Even though I concede that of lately, it has been more of a swimming on the Delhi roads kind of scenario what with water logging and all, I am sure that most of the water will evaporate by the time games start. In these cases when there are more potholes on the road than the actual ‘road’, it is an art to walk or drive on these monstrosities without stepping in a puddle and/or getting drenched. With the entire CP dug, the cycle race seems to be going down the drain (forgive the pun), we need to have an alternate sport. What better option than to play a langadi (one legged) game of skipping the holes.

Pass the traffic jam: With heavy water logging on roads which were anyways dug to hell, traffic jams are one thing which has become a part of the daily life. Even faster than things such as packaged foods and cold drinks. Thousands of commuters face the jam every day. No time of day or night is without these jams. In fact, to some, it may seem that they are spending more time on the road than off it. Recent news is of a ten day long jam in china which has now crossed over 100 kms. People have not established their cars as a temporary home; how they conduct bodily functions is something that I do not even want to think about. But it is bloody China; they can do anything. But if China can do it, India too will. So we will institute this game wherein the players would have to pass through a jam in the peak office hour. The catch here would be that no honking or flashing-red lights or sirens will be allowed. Coming to think of it would not be a bad idea to include some politicians as well.

Beat the traffic jam: This one is more of a strategy oriented game than ‘Pass the traffic jam’ which was more oriented towards the brute force and maneuvering capabilities. In this game, player will be tested for their skills in planning the timing of departure, routes they chose, routes they avoid, where to avoid over speeding because the traffic cops are known to station around that area, etc etc. You get the idea.

Bribe the peon: With Delhi being the political capital of the country, there is obviously a lot of politics going on at any point of time. Everyone, except me sadly, has a political connection here. Even that peon you see watering the plants, is on that position because his uncle’s aunt’s nephew’s friend is peon to a minster. So he got the job though ‘approach’. Also, anyone who has had a file stuck into a government office knows this as well that even though it is the officers who are signing the files, the real deal maker or breaker are these peons who physically move these files from one desk to another. Infuriate them and a woman’s fury, let alone hell’s, would seem like a gentle warm breeze. Files have been known to simply disappear when these peons are not happy with a particular person. So, the challenge here would be to get the files moved in a government office, say MCD or DDA, without using any high level ‘approach’; sorely on the basis of bribing the peon. They will be judged on how much money they spent and how quickly they got their work done.

Hit the migrant laborer: This one is actually quite famous amongst the spawns of the rich. Seeing as government is not able to do anything to prevent it, we might as well institutionalize the bloody (literally) exercise and make some money out of it. This will help India in more than one ways: A) Some population will be reduced; B) Since some cars will be destroyed and the spawns hurt, there might be better driving experience for some time; C) With the cars destroyed, more cars will be imported into India which would benefit the auto manufacturers into setting up auto hubs in India; D) More money out of pocket of the riches and some will flow into the pockets of laborers etc. Coupled with the fact that games like shooting and archery seem impossible going by the condition of the stadiums, this game should be an instantaneous hit.

Garbage-in-bin: This could be the one sport where Indians might now be able to perform as well as their taller and fairer brethren. After all, having the treated the entire area outside of their home and vehicle as a litter bin; it might be a tad bit difficult to throw garbage in a small box at the corner of the road. On the plus side, since shooting and archery seem to be out of action, this game will provide an interesting alternative to the games and there is a slim chance that Indians might actually learn something from it.

Feel free to add on to the list.

PS: I Hope that Suresh Kalmadi is reading this one!

Image courtesy: thehindu.com, blogs.seattleweekly.com, samaylive.com, bharatchronicle.com, commonwealthgame2010.com, graphicreflections.org

Friday, August 20, 2010

Random Thoughts

Just today, I was talking to my family. We were planning what to have in dinner. Different views were being contributed all across the bed but we could not reach any consensus. Tired of this daily exercise, I suggested to my cousin who is pursuing her M Sc in Food nutrition that she should take, as her research project, the onerous task of devising a pill so that we do not need to eat or cook food. A simple tablet should do the trick.

Then, we had a discussion which I will sum it up here... We all work because we need to eat good food, do to good places. The lower class likes rickshaw worker and masons etc work primarily to earn four square meals of the day. If a pill was to be devised in which a pill, once eaten, would last a week or something; or any similar variation of standardization... Where would the variety of life come from? Why would I want to earn loads of money when all i have to do is pop the pill... better to lead a more of a comfortable life.

That got me to think... what would happen were we to go to a WALL-E kind of state when day-in and day-out you are doing the same thing, meeting only the same people and wearing the same clothes for months straight. How dull the life would turn out to be... A mass of blob all across... Where would the difference in life come from? What would be the initiative for one person to differentiate themselves from the others?

Friday, August 13, 2010

64th Independence Day of India

We have 64th Independence Day of India on this Sunday. Now, I know that while it all yay and yippie; has anyone stopped for a second and wondered what it means, if at all it does.

What has this bought for us? And even more importantly, what have we done for India?

True, we have been able to do a lot of things that people were not able to do earlier; like listen music and watch movies on video iPods, talk on blackberries, wear fine French tailored suits, drive German cars with American/Nigerian friends, get high on vodka and run over migrant laborers, more variety of STDs and so on.

India has developed a lot over the years. But, more to the point, it has developed split personalities. On one side is the personality which everyone endorses; the ‘India Shining’ persona. Heads of various leading companies across the globe have been quoted as looking forward to India becoming a beacon in the global landscape (Read some here). Global consultancy firms have been ranking India high in various performance parameters (read some here and here).

On the other side of the spectrum is the India that nobody wants to talk about. The India which is barely able to cover four square meals of the day. The India which tried to host commonwealth games and is, seemingly, failing at that. The India which has a plethora of corrupt politicians like Kalmadi, Lalu, Behenji, just to name a few. The India in which spawn of rich tycoons go scot free even after killing a dozen people while a common man is killed in fake encounters and jailed for having sneezed. The India where the vigilante army MNS and Bajrang Dal think that it is their moral duty to curb the right to every free expression there is.

Kind of makes me wonder, which India is celebrating its independence day!!!

Image Courtesy: nehasinha.wordpress.com

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Memories

Has it ever happened to you that came across some old memorablia of earlier years, like a greeting card you made when you were 6, or a tiny glass rose that you gifted to someone dear. Do you feel nostalgic about those times? All the memories you had of that time.

Coming to present, do you think that we would be feeling nostalgic about what we blog today, or tweet or share on FB?

Even today, it is the physical experience that we remember... The time you pulled an all nighter finishing a project, the time you felt like practically killing the next guy, the time when you were so over joyed that you could not restrain your enthusiasm to share some news with some one.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review-Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex


I am a big fan of the entire Harry Potter – LOTR – Septimus Heap – Eragon type of books. I have read through a lot of books in this genre, and several of these series are over. To this extent, I had actually been waiting a lot for this book to come out along with the sixth book in the Septimus Heap series.

I am not going to spoil the story for those of you who might be interested in reading the book. instead some broad premise about the book might be in order. The story is a typical Artemis Fowl plot with a villain planning to cause havoc in the Haven. And it is up to the boy genius Artemis Fowl and his entourage of the ‘Butlers’, Mulch ‘Tombstone’ Diggums, Captain Holly Short and Centaur Foaly to thwart these plans, capture the bad guys and save a magical warlock along the way. Except, Artemis is not all himself. If, anything, he is more than himself. HE is double himself, what with a hopeless romantic split personality of Orion (Get it? Orion and Artemis…. Subtle…). And he has an obsession with numbers, especially fours and fives. Hence, we are treated to a general dosage of OCD and split personality gyaan. A lot of it. Interestingly, the personalities interchange the ‘Driver’s Seat’, an expression used in the book as well, at the behest and command of, of all things, an electric shock.

I must confess that after the 'Time Paradox’, I was a little bit skeptical about the book as the Time Paradox was not at all what I had expected from Colfer. There were so many lose ends in the book and the technical glitches etc. But I am must say that ‘Atlantis Complex’ proved my apprehension to be baseless. True, that the book did not quiet reached the epitome of the first book and we don’t get to witness the brilliance of Artemis’ thinking as much as we had wanted. But Orion proved to be a comic relief in the story with phrases like “Oh fair maiden” and “Oh goodly beast” and ever preparing to fight a dragon, look for his birthmark which he may or may not have; of course somewhere involving a bivouac on the way. The climax was slightly anti-climatic and could have been done wonders had a little bit more thinking put in it. But the Squid phase was interesting and Mulch Diggums has always been my favorite.

The story proceeds along nicely and as well as the story in the rest of the books.

From my side, it is a must read for the fans. Rating of 3.5/5.

PS: A sample first chapter of the book can be found at: http://www.artemisfowl.co.uk/downloads/atlantiscomplex_chapter1.pdf

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Don't quote me on that!!!

"Don't quote me on that" is such a wonderful phrase. It is an incredible ploy to say anything and everything and yet get away with it by disclaiming what has just been said.

Of course, once disclaimed, the listeners are then free to go ahead and repeat what they just heard from a reliable source, but just don’t quote them on that.

If the information turns out to be true, then the original perpetrator gets to say “I told you so”. If the information, however, turns out to be false, they could not be held liable.

It’s a Win-Win situation.