Thursday, October 26, 2006

My Rainy Day Experience

This has by far been my worst rainy day experience ever!
It was raining heavily and I was coming back from work. Usually the journey takes about 20 mins; and if the traffic is bad, about half an hour. Not more. Today it took me an hour and a half.
Dad called me several times throughout the evening asking me how I was gonna come home. Since I was in the middle of an conference call, I couldn’t talk to him properly. Finally I called him back at 9. He asked me to take an auto home. Ignorant of the situation outside my office, I walked all the way to the end of the road and tried to flag down one such three wheeler. No one stopped. Meanwhile, my dad called back saying that it was only drizzling and that I can come back by my bike. Since it was indeed drizzling there as well, I decided to take my bike home. Little did I know that it was the most idiotic decision ever.
Ever since the city’s traffic police have placed barriers in such a manner that people coming out from my office cannot take a right turn to enter Sardar Patel Road (SP Road), I’ve had to take a round-about route home. I have to go all the way to Saidapet, take a U turn and enter Sardar Patel Road via Chinnamalai. I had to follow the “rules”. So, I was off to Saidapet to take a U turn. That part was fine. Only after I took the U did I realize that the way back till Chinnamalai is jam packed. All of a sudden it hit me that my dear scooty was running on reserve. Great! Vehicles were inching along. Literally. I was worried about running out of petrol and getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. There was no bunk in the vicinity.
The only thing I could do was pray. It had started raining heavily. I was drenched to the skin and was shivering as well. For about 100 vehicles that took the Guindy route from Saidapet, one vehicle went towards SP Road. So the traffic was blocked completely by those taking the Guindy route. I had to take a left to the SP Road. All the vehicles that wanted to turn right were on the left extreme and did not even allow us to go our way. After about half hour of waiting in the traffic, I crossed Saidapet court. I started thinking of possibilities. What if I run out of petrol? Should I just leave my vehicle by the side of the road and walk home? But how will I be able to walk? I hadn’t even covered half the distance. I would have to walk about 5 to 6 kilometers.
As I passed Birla planetarium, another traffic jam was waiting for me. I least expected this place to be crowded cos usually traffic is smooth here. The reason of course was some of the vehicles that wanted to again go to Guindy/Velachery had to turn to the right whereas I had to turn left. They were blocking most of the road. Again there was an agonizing inch-by-inch movement with me constantly chanting Hanuman Chalisa, praying that the monkey God should somehow help me reach home.
Another half hour had passed by the time I entered the SP Road. The rain had become heavier and I was shivering. Nerves in my neck started pulling my jaw downwards which made it impossible for me to chant my fav mantra. Nevertheless, I carried on, hoping it would help me reach home soon. Upon entering SP Road, the traffic was smooth. I reached home in 15 mins flat.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Sign

My usual routine is to chant Hanuman Chalisa on my way to work everyday. Of course, I can make time for it at home, but that almost never happens:). The route I take is picturesque; trees on both the sides and cool wind blowing thro your hair. As I was driving, I saw a small monkey at a distance. It seemed to me that it was smiling. I was taken aback quite a bit but drove on. As I neared the ‘monkey’, I realized that it wasn’t a monkey and was in fact a large rock by the side of the road. I could have sworn that it was indeed a cute little primate. Anyway, as I smiled to myself and drove on I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to chant my favourite prayer. It dawned on me just then that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. I had been warned by the monkey God himself, not to forget Him.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Is the Indian Judicial System a farce?

With the recent flow of shocking events, I’ve lost all faith in the Indian judicial system. A professor gets beaten to death, on camera, by a bunch of hooligans and the latter walk away scot free; a woman gets murdered at a bar in front of hundreds of people and instead of punishing the murderer, the bar owner is targeted and harassed for not possessing the correct liquor license! What the hell is happening to our country? Have we all become blind? Why aren’t the culprits being put behind bars even when the evidence is right in front of our eyes?

In Prof.Sabarwal’s murder case, the poor guy and his colleagues were clearly threatened on camera by ABVP and NSU activists. The Chief Minster’s reaction to the murder is that it must have been an “accident”. The camera doesn’t lie. Has he no conscience? BJP is just trying to squirm away from the whole controversy by saying that those who have committed this heinous crime were never a part of their party and that they have nothing to do with them. The CDs that bore the evidence of the murder were clearly doctored. Nothing is gonna happen to the case. It will just lie like a dirty old sock in the last drawer. This entire furor in the news channels will go on for while and once another high profile murder/investigation comes into the picture, the cameras will pan in the other direction, forgetting that there was one Mr.Sabarwal who did not deserve to die such a gruesome death.

Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattu. Two names that we’ve heard a lot over the past few years. Why? Because their cases too still lie in the can, waiting for re-trial. The person who shot Jessica Lall in front of hundreds of people is getting away with it cos he is the son of a high profile politician. Apparently, justice is not being done because there is not enough ‘evidence’ pointing towards him. All those who bore witness to her murder, have turned hostile because of threats to their lives. Ms.Mattu’s case is all the more depressing because the judge who chaired the first trial has said on record that he knew that the person on-trial was in fact the killer, but he had to be acquitted just cos of lack of proper evidence. What is this country getting to where people committing un-forgivable crimes get acquitted?

The public came out in support of Ms.Lall and Ms.Mattu’s families. Why can’t they do the same for Prof.Sabarwal? I believe there’s strength in numbers. The only thing that can save this country right now is unity.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Too little, too late?

Global Warming. Two words that we’ve been exposed to for about 10 odd years. I don’t think people really understand the gravity of this concept. Just finished watching a half hour program on Global warming on a 24*7 news channel. I learnt that even though many of the developed countries are trying their best to reduce the level of emission of toxic gases, as per a recent study, it is too little, too late.
Apparently, the recent floods all across the country have been due to global warming. The tsunami, the recurring earthquakes and all those hurricanes that hit the coast of Florida, were repercussions of the same phenomenon. More such freak climatic changes are in the offing. The program also highlighted probable occurrences over the next few decades. For example, by the year 2050, some of the European countries will no longer have acute winters; by the year 2060, the Swiss Alps will begin to melt; and by the year 2100, winters in the Eurasian continent will begin to resemble Ice Age. All this sounds so scary. Most of us would jus shrug our shoulders saying, “We’ll be over 60 by then. Why do we have to worry?” Excuse me; shouldn’t we be worrying about our descendents? Our children? What if by the beginning of the next century, the population of human beings starts dwindling? Most of you may think that I’m way over my head. But just think about it… I’m sure each of you is as concerned as I am.
If there were a simple solution to every problem, then everyone on this earth would be immensely happy. There isn’t one. Therefore, even though it is too little, too late, we can do something about this right now. For starters, think twice before taking the car out to visit the corner shop. Instead, walk. Air conditioners are the main culprits. Use them sparingly. Do not dump your old computer just because a newer and slightly better model is in the market. Instead, you can upgrade your old one. The reason being, computer scrap (popularly known as E-waste), is clogging up dumping yards all over the country. Toxic gases produced while recycling e-waste, is contributing to global warming.
We shouldn’t be the only ones concerned. The government has to take actions on India becoming the dumping ground of the west. 80% of the e-waste generated in the US and UK, is dumped in India. This is due to the fact that we have the cheapest recycling process! The workers in these plants are exposed to the toxic gases and chemicals day in and day out.
Most of you would just skim though this article as “just another article on global warming”. I request each of you to think about this at least for a couple of minutes and try and contribute in your own way towards the betterment of the environment. After all it is our world, our home.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Khans and the media

Recently two of the most popular Khans of the hindi film industry have been in the news for two different reasons. Aamir, for lending support to the Narmada Bachao Aandolan and Salman, for getting sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in the black buck poaching case.

Aamir’s involvement with the Narmada Bachao Aandolan, got him a lot of flak, from both the media as well as politicians. This noble cause cost him dearly, with hoodlums tearing down his posters and burning his effigy. This so-called anger was not just from the people of Gujarat, but the media as well. The news channels are being so sarcastic that they’re making fun of the whole thing by comparing it with his recent hit “Rang De Basanti”. He is being made a laughing stock.

The reason Aamir supports this cause is that he believes that the villagers who might be affected due to the building of this dam, should be properly re-allocated and proper cultivable land be given to them. He has nothing against the people of Gujarat.

Mr. Narandra Modi, in his speech during his “dharna”, was speaking as if Gujarat is not getting its due and that Aamir is against Gujarat getting water. How dare Mr.Modi threaten Aamir on national television to sabotage the screening of the actor’s forthcoming movie “Fanaa” if he does not apologise to the people of Gujarat? And the opposition is quiet!!!!!!!

I just watched both Salman’s and Aamir’s interviews on TV. I’m not here to judge anyone; hell, who am I to do so. But I could see a world of difference between the way the two spoke. While Aamir was unfazed by the riots going on in Gujarat following his decision to support the noble cause, Salman bhai was “blaming” the person who is responsible for making his mom ill (Salman’s mom fell ill as soon as he was arrested).

What’s happening to the media? Somebody does a good deed and he gets thrashed for it! Another, kills endangered species, receives punishment, comes out on bail, celebrates by dancing on the roof of his house, and gets praised for it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

We wanna change rooms again!

During the final year of my undergraduate studies, I went on a tour to Delhi along with my college mates. It has been one of the most eventful trips I’ve ever been on.
Our agenda was to board the Tamil Nadu express and go to Delhi directly without any stop over. But due to last minute itinerary changes by one of my professors, we got down in Agra in the dead of night. When we reached our hotel in Agra, due to complete lack of sleep, I passed out. However, I regained consciousness in a few minutes when one of my friends handed me a mint. I guess all I needed was a little bit of glucose. As soon as we entered our rooms, we crashed on the bed because we were sure that we would be woken up in a couple of hours by our chaperones.
As luck would have it, we woke up in a few hours, fresh and kicking, for the fun to begin. The ‘fun’ began with each of us drinking a glass of coffee/tea made from camel’s milk (a fact we were unaware of at the time!). We visited the usual suspects in Agra starting with the ever enchanting Taj Mahal. After lunch, the same day, we left for Meerut and subsequently for Jaipur. Speaking about lunch…….. the food on the trip was arranged by my professors. Three cooks accompanied us! Somehow or the other, double beans would land up on our plates during every meal! And I, being a double beans hater, would just pick on the food. Ok. Let me get back on track. In Meerut and Jaipur, we visited two beautiful temples; a Krishna temple and the famous Birla Mandir, respectively.
The journey from Jaipur to Delhi was horrendous. We left Jaipur at around 9 or 10 pm and expected to reach Delhi by 3 the next morning. Our dear driver could not keep his eyes open and stopped the bus at a road side dhaaba. He wanted to sleep off his tiredness for about an hour! So, in the middle of the night with a bus load of girls, the driver just parked the vehicle near a highway dhaaba and caught his forty winks for an hour! None of us could sleep! We had our hearts in our hands till we were on the road again.
By now you must be wondering why I’ve named this article “We wanna change rooms again!”. Hold your horses, I'm getting to that!
We reached Delhi at around 4 am. We weren’t given much time to sleep as we had to get ready by 8. The hotel that we stayed in was called The Heritage. It was quite a good 3 star hotel. A couple of friends and I shared a room. The first room (and I say “first” because we changed 2 rooms after that! More on that, later) that we were given was perfect except for the fact that the bathroom did not lock. We did not mind because there was nothing else wrong with the room. I was the first to have a bath. Both my friends were asleep and so I did not bother to inform them. As soon as I stepped out of the shower, my right foot slipped, my left foot hit the wash basin and my head hit the ground with a resounding thud. I had cut the second toe on my left foot. My friends did not hear me fall down. After a couple of minutes, I managed to get myself together. We weren’t happy with our current room and so asked the hotel authorities to provide us with another one.
The second room was good (?) except that there was no fan or a/c. There was one fan, but it was a wall – mounted one and was really small for the room. We did not mind and so decided to stay there. That day we went to a number of places like Qutub Minar, Raj Ghat and Birla Temple. That night, after dinner, I went up to my room early while my friends were still in the lobby. As I was entering the room, I heard the sound of gushing water. My instincts told me that something was terribly wrong. I opened the door to the bathroom and could not believe my eyes. The entire bathroom was filled with steam and hot water was pouring out of a hole in the wall, where the shower previously existed. It dawned on me just then that if I had entered the bathroom a few minutes in advance, I would have suffered terrible burns. My professors thanked my lucky stars that nothing of the sort happened. Anyway, we had to change rooms again! This time, however, the hotel authorities weren’t as polite as they were the last time in spite of the fact that we weren’t responsible for the turn of events. One room service guy was sent up to ‘assist’ us with our baggage. He just walked in without knocking, rudely picked up our luggage without even asking us and showed us to what would hopefully be our third and final room!
The third room was a class apart. The front door did not lock. I am serious! I am not making this up. I guess we were just destined to get faulty rooms. We were able to lock the door from inside but anyone with a key could open the door; i.e. the hotel authorities, if need be, could open the door with their key. Once again we decided to manage. We barricaded the front door with our suitcases. That is all that we could do.
There was one thing unique to this room. There was a door in one corner of the room. We did not know what it led to. The door looked like a one way mirror. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Humraaz’, you’ll know what I’m talking about. As a matter of fact, the 3 of us had just seen the movie before leaving on this trip. With all the room changing, we were tired and even a little scared to open the door and find out what’s behind it. We could hear weird noises from the other side, which led us to believe that there was something supernatural about it. Or that it indeed was a one – way mirror and that someone is watching us from the other side. We wanted to desperately find out but none of us had the guts to open the door. In the room next to ours, there were 4 of our juniors. Leaving aside our pride, we asked one of them to open the door. When one of those girls was about to open it, the phone that was in the corridor outside our room rang. It echoed across the entire hall. We were already on pins and needles when the door was being opened, and when the phone rang my friend just broke down. It took her a while to calm down. The door was finally opened. It was a balcony! We had got a room with a view! It wasn’t a one way mirror. And those noises were due to pigeons. Thereafter, we slept peacefully.
All jokes apart, now when I look back at my trip to Delhi, I realize that even with all these weird happenings, it was one of most enjoyable trips that I’ve ever been on.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Big B.E

At a family wedding I met a “kind” old gentleman, who retorted “Oh God! Why on earth are you studying B.Sc Mathematics?” when he asked me what I was doing. I was speechless.
It made me think if studying mathematics is that big a crime?
We live in a country where getting a B.E or a B.Tech degree is the be all and end all. Every parent wants his or her child to become an engineer and get into a good software job. Pure sciences have lost their place. They’ve become outcasts; kinda like how I felt when the same gentleman (at the wedding) went on and on about his grandson pocketing a handsome “software salary” after having done B.E. Electronics and Communication from some god forsaken college in the outskirts of Chennai.
After successfully completing my bachelors degree, I got into Anna University (one of the most prestigious colleges in India), to pursue Masters in Computer Science. I thought of it as getting the best of both worlds; I have mathematics as a strong base, and now I am specializing in my field of interest. In the third semester of my Masters, I had to attend a number of campus interviews from potential recruiters until I got a job with a CMM Level 5 company. Most of the tests I wrote were just an eye-wash. The companies wanted only B.E candidates. They might as well only call for B.Es. Why take the trouble of saying “All degrees” and insult others by recruiting only engineers?
I remember one such company whose test I had passed and moved on to the interview. I had to attend two rounds of interviews, both of which I did pretty well. I was quite content with my performance and was confident that I would get through. The results were announced the next day. Three B.E students were selected. The thing that was most shocking was that none of them were from a computer science background. One person had done “Metallurgy”, another “Rubber technology” and the third “Soil Mechanics”.
That day, it dawned on me that, what these companies are looking for, are not good programmers or people with computer skills, but people with ‘B.E’ as a suffix to their names.
Education is getting to be a farce. People no longer do the kind of job that they study for. If not medicine, “engineering it is” seems to be the mantra.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Women at risk in the 21st century!

The recent Meerut incident and the rape and subsequent murder of a Bangalore based call-center employee has made me realise that even in the 21st century, women are not completely safe. Technology wise, India has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 10 years. But that hasnt changed Indian society or mentality, one bit.
It made me furious when I first heard about 'Operation Majnu'. What right do these police men and women have to go around slapping innocent couples? What's wrong if a boy and a girl hold hands? Is it a crime for two friends to spend a few hours together? What an individual does on his/her own time is not the police's business. This kind of moral policing is unheard of in developed countries.
The recent murder of a woman call-center employee in Bangalore was extremely shocking. As opposed to a decade or so ago, more and more women are working these days. The percentage of women in the IT industry has increased as well. Incidents like these may either scare parents into not letting their children work, or scare employers into not recruiting women. Either way, women suffer.
I'm not one of those bra-burning feminists, but I do draw the line somewhere. I will not tolerate a society that does not respect women or treat them with the dignity that every individual deserves. I want to live in a country where a girl can meet her friend or even her boy-friend whenever she wants or wherever she wants; a country where women are not leered at by men, and a country in which a lady who has to go to work in the wee hours, is safe from the clutches of psychotic rapists.