Saturday, October 4, 2008

Settled down finally

I shifted my home to an apartment in Koramangala, today. I'm going to share this house with 3 guys, Shivaram, Karthik (MK) and Gaali (haven't met him and don't know his real name). Karthik has gone to Chennai for the weekend and Gaali is in Korea. I know MK through Vijayaraghavan. MK was Vijayaraghavan's senior in NITK. I met Shivaram only today. MK and Gaali (both from NITK) work for Samsung, and Shivaram (BITS, Pilani) works for Google. Also, Shivaram and MK studied at DAV matriculation school (adjoining to my school).

This is a very spacious double-bedroom flat at a very silent, clean and posh neighbourhood, which is also very close to anywhere we would want to go. They also have a TV with Tata Sky connection, a washing machine, a microwave, a bread toaster and a broadband internet connection with a wifi modem, here.

It feels so much better to have my stuff unpacked, which by the way were packed (on june 14th) when I moved to Bangalore to join GS. I have been living with all my stuff inside suitcases, all this time, even in New York as the shelves there were not very convenient to use and at Krish's place there was no space to unpack them. I now feel like I have settled down. Finally.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My New Bike

I bought a brand new Bajaj XCD DTSI 125 cc bike today, for Rs. 48,169, with a down payment of the whole amount, at the Khivraj Bajaj showroom here in Indira Nagar. After a week's time of research on the internet, reading up lots of negative and positive reviews about this model and other bikes, asking people about their views, visiting Hero Honda showroom and comparing the features with other models, I decided to buy this one. The bike is black in colour. I have already started loving it. The dealer promised a mileage of 65-70 kmpl. I hope it renders as promised. As far as looks of the bike go, I like the bike a lot. I had taken a test ride on the bike 2 days ago and it was very comfortable and smooth. So was it now, when I rode the bike from the showroom to Krish's place (where I'm temporarily put up). I promptly got a helmet too, for Rs. 1050. Registration work for the bike is not completed yet and I expect it to be over by monday.

I now have two 2 wheelers. The other one is my Honda Activa, which is in Chennai now. I'm totally excited about my new bike. Looking forward to many happy and safe rides on it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Paid Vacation Gets Over

I left Bangalore on July 16th, for training at New York. I came back on September 14th. The 2 months in Manhattan was fun, despite the few initial shocks - economy class was such a punishment (very painful), weather at NY was extremely hot (comparable with Chennai), NY was totally unclean (garbage and waste everywhere), the train stations can bake us alive (that hot), people don't wait for the signals to cross the road, etc. As I mentioned, these were no hurdles in our way to fun, making the trip more of a vacation, though the purpose of the trip was training.

We (all the new joiners) had the luxury to get an accommodation at mid-town, Manhattan. We stayed at Eastgate Tower Hotel (at 39th St between 2nd & 3rd Av). We used the metro trains 4, 5 and 6 for commuting to office.

Places I went to, during the US trip :-

  1. Atlantic City - I won 45$ on the slot machine
  2. Six Flags, an Adventure Park featuring roller-coasters like Kingda Ka (tallest and fastest in the world), El Toro, Superman, Batman, Nitro and many more - I went on all the rides
  3. WWE RAW, a house show - Though I had lost interest in WWE way back in school, the real thing, with the crowd cheering unanimously, was an awesome experience. The crowd went crazy for John Cena and C.M. Punk. Adding to the exhilaration, D'Lo Brown (my childhood favourite) had a fight that night. Though he lost, he and his attitude were awesome in the ring as always.
  4. Niagara falls, a wonder of the world - The experience was out of the world, not to mention Maid of the Mist, which was a boat ride to the foot of the falls, from where you can see the horse-shoe falls surrounding you. The scenic beauty of the falls at night goes beyond words. On the way to Niagara falls, we went to Corning Glass Museum, which was amazing too. Buffet dinner at a Chinese restaurant on the way proved to be the heaviest meal I had in US. I had 5 servings of fried rice and noodles, one serving of a variety of fruits and one more of ice-cream (3 flavours), all for $12. The food was very good.
  5. Broadway Show - Phantom of the Opera - Oh, how can I ever describe this? Is superb the word? This Broadway's longest running musical was an orchestral performance, magic show, dance performance and many more (don't forget acting skills) put together with an amazing exhibition of stage management, both onstage and backstage. The music, still playing in my head, just blew me away that night.
  6. Columbus - I visited Ramu mama's house for 3 days. It was a pleasant stay at their place. I played a lot with the kids. We also went to a water-theme park and a bowling alley. They have a palace for a home. Their dog Duke, which scared me to death initially, was actually very friendly. I am now less scared of dogs.
  7. Brooklyn bridge, Central Park, Bronx zoo, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not, American Museum of Natural History (where the movie Night At The Museum was shot), Top of the Rock (Rockefellar Plaza), Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets (where I bought my Nike shoes), Times Square and other stuff made huge contributions in making the trip very memorable.

I also went to Janaka chithi's home at Staten Island, NY. She was very loving and affectionate, and gave me all the food I needed for the stay. Raghu chithappa was interesting to talk to and we talked a lot. I also met Ram and Sumi. Right from the first visit, Staten Island became my home in NY. The ferry ride to and from Staten Island, not only gives the best view of the Statue of Liberty, but also makes anyone wish that every frame which his eye records could be taken as a photograph and kept for life.

On our journey back to Bangalore, four of us (Karthik, Shravani, Aparna and myself) had a 13 hours halt at Dubai. So we took an on-arrival transit VISA at the Dubai airport for $145 and took a tour around Dubai for $45 with the Dubai Big Bus Tours. The Jumeirah Beach was very clean, beautiful and tempting, and the Burj Al Arab was magnificent and eye-catching. The Dubai museum is an underground museum and was originally an underground fort built in the 1800's. We had nice fun at this museum. Karthik lost his wallet in the public bus just after we left Dubai airport. It was quite an experience even to have a friend losing his wallet in a foreign country, with a plane to catch in some hours. Karthik however took it light as with anything else and enjoyed Dubai with us.

In a nutshell, the whole trip was fun-packed and awesome. But I'm happy to be back in India now, even if paid vacation is over and real work starts.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Religion at Office

I have now spent 7 days at office and today I saw something very interesting. But let me go in order.

I wore a new shirt to office on the first day - 16th, June (I bought 2 nice shirts from Fab India last sunday [15th, June]). Though the shirt felt really good, that day was buried in orientation programmes and hence was long and boring. Right from the second day, I had nothing more than training (Java, Unix and Perl). We have our training in a new building, in which, presently, only a handful of seats are occupied. Today was the last day of my Perl session and the instructor kept a small test at the end of the day. I was in no mood for a test. So I wrote something, gave the answer-sheet back and came out.

Then, I was literally taken aback, when I saw a religious (Hindu religion) ceremony ("Pooja"), for the inauguration of office at this building, in progress. For a company like mine to indulge in a proper religious ceremony, with a priest, a Lord Ganesha's idol (in silver), flowers, "prasadam", "Kuthu Vilakku" and mantras enchanted by the priest with the bell, is unacceptable to me.

Though it was shocking in the beginning, it started to become funny soon. The majority of the people who were invited for the ceremony were foreigners. Looking at their faces and thinking about what all this could mean to them, made me burst with laughter. I also got reminded of a story, my dad used to tell me when I was small. The story goes like this.

In a big kingdom, there lived a foolish and unhealthy king, who had no children. One day when the king died, the ministers decided to use the traditional method to decide who would inherit the throne, as there was no prince. So they got the temple's elephant, gave it a garland and took it on the streets of the kingdom. The method deems the guy, who is garlanded, the king of the kingdom. The elephant walked all day, but din't even stop anywhere. It finally made up its mind and garlanded a beggar, at the corner of a street. Though the ministers were disappointed that the elephant din't choose them, they were at least relieved as the ceremony got over. They quickly made the beggar the king. The beggar was very happy with all this but he din't eat anything in the dinner party that night and answered that he was not hungry, when anyone asked. The king was actually hungry. The next morning at the grand feast, he sent everyone out of the dining hall and shut the doors from inside. After sometime, the ministers got curious and peeked in. Inside, the king was holding a plate and was moving around the dining table. Near each dish, he stops and says, "Please give me some food. I'm hungry from morning." Then, he serves himself a small portion of the dish and eats it there. Though this new king proved to be very efficient and grew as a mighty king, he could never change this eating habit of his.

Coming back to our picture, this story relates to today's function only on the surface level; beneath the surface, today's ceremony proves, once again, that people hold on to sentiments more than logic, morals (secularism) or wisdom. But then again there were a few things that made me unhappy (really?) and laugh at the same time :
  1. Today is tuesday, which is considered inauspicious for events such as this.
  2. The foreigners were wearing their shoes, even when they went to get blessed (by the priest) and the priest din't object to it.

  3. Whenever the priest finishes a mantra or gives "prasadam" to someone, everyone starts clapping.

Ultimately, the boat was neither here nor there.

Friday, June 13, 2008

In the last few days of vacation

On May 30th, I went to meet Prof. K. S. Ramachandran, my maths tutor for IIT-JEE, who did much more than teaching maths or even teaching itself, at his house, with Vijayaraghavan, Rajashekar and Akshay Ram. Though he couldn't recognize us, he was happy to see us. We were more than happy to meet him too. A lot of memories came back to me then. The memories were not confined to the ones with KSR in it; but the entire world, I saw 4 years back, came in front of my eyes. I could realize, once again, that those days were beautiful. They were so beautiful that the very thought, that these memories would go away in sometime, was accompanied by tears. We talked for about 20 minutes about our plans after college and other arbitrary stuff, he gave us some sweets to eat and then we left, happy and content to have seen him after 4 years. He is healthy and his jokes are still very funny.

On June 9th, I went to my school (DAV Boys Sr. Sec. School, Gopalapuram), with Rajashekar, Akshay Ram and Sureshwar. We met our 11th and 12th standard teachers - Prem Chand (maths), Shanthi (computer science) and Sampath (chemistry). Physics teacher, Malarvizhi, had retired last year and we specifically avoided meeting Mini James (english), our most hated teacher. Sampath still remembered and told me that I wrote "Anbe Sivam" on the blackboard (in the place for proverbs), the day after I saw the movie "Anbe Sivam". When we met Sampath, we also saw our 6th standard science teacher - Maheshwari. She said that this was the first time she saw students coming back to school after completing engineering. Right then, I had a good mind to say, "Who will come to meet you, if you hit students with a steel scale?" But I controlled myself for, Sampath sir was sitting right next to her. We then met C.K.Lalitha (10th standard english teacher), who remembered all our names. To get all the feelings, I had on that day, in this post is close to impossibility. All in all, it felt nice.

Today, we went to the Dhabba on Cenotaph road, for dinner, partly to celebrate my birthday and partly to have a final get-together before I go to Bangalore. "We" includes Rajashekar, Venkatesh, Manoj, Nambi and myself. The food was really good.

Earlier today (in the afternoon), I, with dad and mom, went to this new Arun ice-cream outlet near my house. The outlet is not very big, but has a nice variety of ice-cream flavours. I had a double-scoop and my parents had a single-scoop each. One serving filled my stomach and it was very delicious too.

Tomorrow, I'm leaving for Bangalore by train at 11:15 pm. I have to join GS on June 16th (Monday). So tomorrow will mark my last day of vacation :(

Monday, May 26, 2008

When is my next vacation?

Its been a month and 4 days since my vacation started. It feels nice when I think that I do not have exams anymore. At the same time, its disheartening to note that I will not have the lovely vacations I had (and having) after the exams. Well, this probably is the last "2 months"-long vacation I am going to get in a few years.

In this vacation, till now, I went to the Marina Beach a couple of times, participated in the May Day rally (CPIM) in Chennai, went to Barista with friends, saw 2 movies, bought a new phone (Nokia E51), bought a new laptop (Dell Inspiron 1525), went swimming once (today) and a lot of other things.

I have only around 20 days left, after which I will have to join Goldman Sachs. So I wonder . . . when is my next vacation?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

RAGAM '08 - Inauguration day

Yesterday was Ragam '08 inauguration day. Though a few times something funny like Manu.A happens, inauguration is boring. So I decided to go to the pro-show after the inauguration directly. What I didn't know was that "The Raghu Dixit Project" (which is the band's name) takes around 1 hr 30 mins for a sound check. I have no idea if the sound system guy was the reason for such a long wait. But I like to think it was the band's fault.

Finally they started playing their music at around 9:30 pm, when they were supposed to start by 8 pm. The band consisted of Raghu Dixit, who was the lead singer and who also played accoustic guitar, a violinist, who was born and brought up in Calicut and who played really well, a base guitarist, a lead guitarist and a drummer. Their music sounded really good. It was different. But what bored all of us after the first 2 songs was that every song they played sounded the same. It had the same style. The music was different compared with what we usually get from film songs and western music, but within the concert the music had nil variations.

Lots of students went near the stage and started dancing to the music. At one point of the program, Raghu asked someone very close to the stage to restrain from getting on the stage. Apparently, that guy didn't say ok or something, Raghu got offended and asked the Security-in-Charge to get that person out of the OAT. Ya right! Since nobody seemed to follow Raghu's "order", he continued to play the next song, which had a fast and terrific ending. Right after the song, Raghu says,"This wasn't for you, man!" and pointed at that guy. It sounded so stupid. I got reminded of something that happened in my first year. When Mother Jane was playing, someone threw a one rupee coin at the singer. The singer didn't give reactions like what Raghu did. Instead, he coolly picked the coin up, kissed it and put it in his pocket. The entire gallery applauded for his wits.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Stupid E-Commerce Class

Everything below is fictional. Any resemblance to the present, past or future is my bad luck and pure co-incidence.

E-commerce is an elective, I have taken for this semester. In every e-commerce class, 2 students will take seminars (each a seminar) and the teacher will sit in the last bench, behind the rest of the class. These seminars will be covering the syllabus for the course. Every student will need to take a seminar in the roll list order. This is how he (the teacher) has planned to deal with the course. Comfortable, isn't it? All he needs to do is come to the class, sit in the last bench, pass the time asking people to sit properly, take attendence and get paid for it by the Govt. of India. For some reason, whenever he talks to the class, he keeps his face like he is under chronic stomach pain. One tiny nice part is that its enough if we go for only 12 classes for the whole semester and we will not get attendence shortage.

Today, in the e-commerce class, this stupid thing happened. It was almost 30 minutes through the class, and the 2nd seminar for the day was nearing its end. The class was extremely boring, not to mention this semester in itself has been quite boring and irritating. So to lent it all out, when the seminar just got over, we started clapping. I dont know who started clapping and why the others were clapping. Nonetheless, I joined them. When we were done clapping, he called me from the back and asked me why I clapped. I told him that my classmate gave us a good seminar and so I was appreciating his efforts. He knew I was bluffing, and I knew he would know. He said, "Then, tell me what is anitinic?". I didnt even understand what that last word was. I still dont know. "Anitinic" is what it sounded like. I vaguely remembered that the topic for the seminar was "Web based tools for E-Commerce" and I knew for sure that he knew nothing about the answer. So I started, "Anitinic is a web-based tool that is widely used by many companies to promote their products and sales over the internet. It has many features that include". He stopped me then. I, for a second, thought he knew the answer and that I got it wrong. But he said, "Stand up and say it loudly". I gained more confidence, then that I could understand he knew nothing. So I stood up and said loudly what I had said already and "billing features, shopping cart etc. Shopping cart is the best thing. You can add stuff and remove stuff from the cart. When you add, it gets appended to the cart, which is good because other things are there. Finally, when you finish shopping, you can check the cart to confirm. It will then calculate the bill with taxes. We can pay the bill through credit card or paypal. Once we pay the bill, the stuff we bought will come to our home." I said this whole thing without laughing and looked in his eyes as if I was telling him that it was the exact answer. He said, "Ok sit down." I can bet that what I said is not even close to the answer. He took this nonsense with no doubt. I mean who can be this dumb? We all now know that even he doesn't listen to the seminars. I think I got the idea or inspiration from my school classmate, S.Venkatesh (we call him "swenki").

What did Swenki do? It was 11th or 12th std. Our beloved maths teacher, Prem Chand, was teaching some problem in which we had to equate the tensions of the rope on either side of a frictionless pulley. He normally interacts with the class. So he asks Swenki, "What is tension?" Swenki started saying, "Sir, when we pull a rope," At this moment, the teacher nodded and was happy that he was getting the right answer. But Swenki continued to say slowly but without any pause (with actions describing what he was saying), "the electrons in the atom will spin very fast, making the near-by atoms to ..." While he continued to make this stuff on his own, all of us in the class couldn't stop laughing. After a minute or so of Swenki's explanation, which seemed to go on, becoming more funny with each second, our teacher asked him to stop, saying not to go into very deep physics, and asked Swenki to sit down. I dont know how Swenki pulled out a minute long comedy instantly. Oh man, it was too good.