Thursday, November 06, 2014

Blame

Let's play a game - call it blame you'd call me lame - I'll call you the same Let's take turns and then go in circles No one'll win and that's a real shame!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

To where?

Board at one of the bus stops on the way to Yakum had an interesting graffiti apart from other bus route information:

Bus No.      Destination
666             Hell

I'd probably also mention the timings with a *usually on time :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Little sweet flower
hasn't lost its fragrance -
nor the memories
---

Continuity of ant-line
seems broken
at the sugar-crossing
---

Why I love writing (or at least to try writing) such three-liners is, unsurprisingly, a mystery. Well, not really. I will not be arrogant to call my such endeavors as Haikus, for they need to follow a lot of rules. At the same time, I will not shy away from trying to create something that fills me with joy. Thinking and coming up with such experimental word-plays isn't that difficult. My only criterion of success is that such arrangement of words should make the reader paint a picture that is enjoyable. In a way, I take it as a challenge to be as frugal at use of words as possible and yet describe a scene as best as possible.

I have tried many such three-liners, mostly inspired by nature, and how nature connects to emotion. I could explain in details each one of them, but that would defeat the whole purpose and destroy its beauty (if any, in my writing's case).

And perhaps that's why the Japanese invented and mastered that art  - in a truly Zen way!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Let Me Check

American Express is, simply put, an overrated brand to own a credit card from. I have had enough experiences in the "America" when the shops proudly exclaimed "We don't accept that card!" So much for having the "Corporate Card" from American Express.

Today, in Israel, however I had a different kind of experience. Usually I ask up-front if they would accept Amex card, and so I did ask the cashier. "Let me check," he responded. I thought he was going to check with his manager. Instead, he just swiped the card. To my surprise (and perhaps equally to his) the card worked.

Perhaps, it was yet another example of typical Israeli risk taking :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Friday, August 09, 2013

Dexter IS impressive

My first reaction to the them of serial Dexter was - who the hell wants to watch a serial killer as the hero?! I must say, my reaction was a bit premature, as this serial killer is of the Robin Hood kind. A few episodes of the first season under my belt, I think I am hooked to it.

And this is only the second such experience after devouring the 'Downton Abbey'.

I am yet at the first season, so catching up with all the seasons in next few weeks is going to be real fun.


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

As we were returning home this afternoon, saw a car stopped almost in the middle of the road. Through the half open window on the driver's side, an empty cigarette pack was dropped on the road.

As we passed that well-polished and bright red car, smoke was already half-escaping out the window.

---
I doubt if namma Bengaluru city will ever be free of garbage. Of the recycle-able, not-so recycle-able types.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Paths of Glory


Watched "Paths of Glory" a couple of weeks back. Once you have watched it, it's not easy to forget it. Although the background is that of war, one may find many parallels and situations to relate it to.

I read somewhere that there was a serious discussion to convert the film's end into a happy one. However, it was not done that way, and I think that's the high point of the film.

Don't miss it - if you can't find it, borrow from me :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Out of this world

There was an accusation that the congress president spent INR1800 crores = ~$320 million over three years on foreign trips. Let's try to see what $320M can buy for you:

Foreign air-travel (assuming 200 round-trip first class tickets) over three years: $2M;
Assuming $10k/day stay at a hospital for 12 months: $3.65M;
Medicines: $0.5M per year (World's costliest drug)=$1.5M for three years;

Surgery: $1.2M (world's costliest procedure)
Misc expenses $5M (food etc etc)
So far, $13.35Million.

Even if one has to do this ten times (!!) over, it costs about $135M.

I recall an essay by Douglas Hofstadter about use of 'astronomical figures' to exaggerate. (Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern, Basic Books, 1985. Chapter 6, "On Number Numbness," pp. 115- 135).

This is a wonderful example that can be added to numerous [sic] examples quoted there :-)





[I realized I didn't account for the security expenses, but still, no matter what you do (or spend) figures don't add up!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Check, mate!

It was an interesting experience to follow the chess world championship match that got over today at Moscow, with Vishy Anand of India being crowned the World Champion for the fifth time.

The professional chess is - well - difficult. First of all, I got lost (and amazed at) by extensive usage of chess-notation by the commentators. They seemed to remember the game move-by-move, just like a cricket scorer would remember statistics game-by-game. It was overwhelming, to say the least.

Here, at work, there was a large interest (because an Israeli was the challenger). At one of our weekly volleyball games, my friend teased me (Gelfand had just won a game to take lead in the 12-match series) about Israeli superiority. I simply had to offer a (Slav?) defense 'well, it's just a tactic to catch Boris unawares in the next match." And voila, Anand won the next game in mere 17 moves. "17 moves" was my subject in the follow-up email to my dear friend!

(I think) the tie-breaker games lived up to expectation. I was following game-2 (which Anand won). It was quite exciting to just see the moves and try my guess-work at what would be the next.

It was a complex situation: An Indian, Maharashtrian at that, working in Israel, following world championship match being played at Moscow between another Indian (Tamil) and an Israeli (originally born in Russia).

Yes, complex, but thoroughly enjoyable. Just as the tie-break games turned out to be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Point of View

Stars crowd the sky
to find out why -
I'm counting them

---
My photos complain -
I hardly look the same
As at their birth

---
The words enjoy
lying in such a way
I asked them to



Tuesday, February 14, 2012


We were on our way back from Tel Aviv. Suddenly one of the radio stations started playing hindi lyrics. Such fun! On the occasion of Valentine's day :)


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Facebook

Interesting facts and analysis of Facebook's imminent foray into the Market by The Economist: Here.
Alert readers must have noticed that I chose to share it only on my blog page and not on Facebook!

Aside, of late I have observed Facebook (of course courtesy of its users) has turned into a 'forward'ing tool. There was a time (not so long ago) that I'd delete most of the forwarded emails containing childish photos, propaganda messages, optical illusions and stale jokes. Facebook now reminds me of that. Just goes on to show it's not trivial to create 'content'.

With that, I have made a note for myself to reduce time spent on Facebook and invest it into something more creative somewhere else (like, here on blogger or reading a physical book!).

Surely there is a world waiting beyond Facebook and I surely can do better in those average seven minutes (refer to Facebook stats).

Monday, February 06, 2012

My experiments with Air**l

I have been a faithful customer of Air**l for almost 7 years now (Hint: A R Rahman's tune). Initially, I used to pay up front and use their services later. I realized there was no point in lending them money, so moved to post-paid plan (now favour is theirs upon me). Although the cellular business is on the high and will always be in India, incident such as narrated below might just tell the story of the state of mobile telephony services in India.

Question: How to get rid of unwanted services forced upon us?
Answer: A long answer, really:
Since we are presently not in India, my wife's pre-paid telephone is mostly switched off. Some analysis software must be highlighting this data to their marketing wing. One fine day (by rare chance, on that day we were in India!), she received a nice SMS stating "We have enabled Hello Tune on your phone. We'll deduct Re 1 per day, starting today. To disable the tune, please call XXX-XXXX". Natural reaction was to call the number and get rid of the ghastly tune. Well, if it were so simple, it wouldn't be India. Obsessed with that particular number, we began calling it every now and then. After lunch, before tea, after saying good night and so on. The other side seemed to have blocked all the numbers "Call Can't be connected" was the only greeting it would offer me.

Days passed and the balance eroded at the rate of Re 1 per day (consider another million subscribers, so for the company it's gain of a million Rupess a day!). Finally, I had enough, and decided to take the bull head-on. Determined to stop this leak, we went to local office. The staff was considerably arrogant (what did you expect?) and offered only a telephone and suggested to make a call to the call center. After holding the receiver for a few minutes, I finally got a human on the other end. He was unable (or unwilling) to help because I had called from Maharashtra, while the phone connection belonged to Karnataka. I thought silly matter of 'roaming' should not prevent the provider itself from fixing my problem. Apparently not. I picked a little fight with the local staff, who dared me to switch service to another company (which they promised would be as bad as they were).

Tired of all this, I lifted the phone again, but this time to lodge a complaint against the local office (for not showing willingness to help). This time, the other human side seemed way too much attentive. She politely asked me what was the complaint about and what problem I had with the connection itself. After listening to this minor complaint about Hello Tune, she asked me to wait a few moments. When she returned, I had achieved my goal. In the next minute I received SMS that the "service" was now disabled (and the note had the customary thank you in the end).

What a hard-fought victory!



Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Movie-spree

There has been much movie watching of late. Found most of the films good: Drive, Another Earth. One of them was as bad as ever: Don-2!

Now looking forward to: The Last Station and latest movie version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Let's see!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Perspective

The tame bird was in a cage, the free bird was in the forest,
They met when the time came, it was a decree of fate.
The free bird cries, "O my love, let us fly to wood."
The cage bird whispers, "Come hither, let us both live in the cage."
Says the free bird, "Among bars, where is there room to spread one's wings?"
"Alas," cries the cage bird, "I should not know where to sit perched in the sky."


--Rabindranath Tagore

My humble contribution to the lines above: only the title, and unlimited admiration!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The tow-er and the towed

This evening saw a towing truck parked at red-painted curb (= no parking). Practically (and interestingly) it had no other place to park to tow a car illegally parked there.


Can the 'system' punish lawbreakers without breaking the law themselves?! Who will punish the 'system,' for breaking the law? A supersystem maybe, and so on.


Is there a 'systematic' solution?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Excused

In Hebrew, they have the same word for 'sorry' and 'excuse me'. Example, if you sneeze in public you may say sli'kha and when you want to alight from a crowded elevator you say sli'kha again.

Now, the converse just isn't true which leads to this enjoyable situation (I have been part of it a couple of times already):
You order pizza and are requested to take a seat while pizza is getting ready. Invariably, once the order is ready, you can hear the waitress shout out "Sorry!" At this time, you are supposed to translate it as "excuse me" and pick up your order at the counter!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Relax!

So much about life can be learnt while driving on Israeli roads. The Israeli life is what I meant.

They say the Israelis drive agressively; well; it's there lifestyle, and hence driving style. They don't try to be polite or give way or even an inch of space. Again, it's their lifestyle.

On busy mornings on the street, it's not surprising to see a lone car holding up traffic of more that twenty cars behind it. Many a times, it resembles what we call in computer science - a deadlock.

That particular day, I was stuck  behind a couple of cars at the traffic signal. On my left, a lady wanted to take a left turn and park her SUV. Well, on crowded roads of Haifa there is hardly any space, and we are talking about peak morning traffic here. No wonder, she had none of it to take her left turn. Out of my politeness or willingness to help her, I tried to inch my car closer to the car in front of me, hoping to give her that critical meter or so make her left move. To my surprise (and a little dismay) the space I created was quickly taken up by the car right behind me. The lady in the SUV, let out a puff of smoke and glanced at me. I glanced back "What I can do now!" She looked back at me, "no worries - it happens all the time!"

By this time the twenty cars behind her had grown to twenty five and loud honks could be heard from far. She was the roadblock. And the roadblock couldn't take a left turn. The traffic signal ahead of me wouldn't budge either - a perfect deadlock. Thankfully, one which could solve itself if waited sufficiently.

Now, then, the angry traffic behind her started raising their voices through their honks and I grew a little worried about the lady. But this must have been a routine for her. She just extinguished her cigarette, pulled up her car windows, raised the volume of the stereo and relaxed. She was looking forward to waiting, it seemed.

By the time the traffic light in front of me turned green and I moved on, I had learnt yet another chapter of the book of life in Israel.