Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of a decade

This indeed is the last day of a decade! Wow! And what a decade it has been, well I'm talking about myself here. I guess this probably was the most important decade of my life. I gave two of the most important exams of my life Class X and XII, got a sense of what fun in school is like when I got admitted in Kendriya Vidyalaya, and of course then came the entrance exams. I had always wanted to be an engineer. I had even enrolled for a preparatory course for IIT JEE. But things changed after I passed the Class X ICSE exams. My interest in Biology (which I had always considered to be a mindless-mugging-up subject) sky-rocketed and one fine day I figured out maybe medicine was my true calling. Add to that an awesome Biology teacher in school, Mr. Saha and the great 'Biology Sir' (whose name I absolutely cant remember as he was immensely popular by that name), and what I had was a paradigm change in my outlook towards the subject. Within a year I had come to the conclusion that medicine indeed was my true calling. What followed that realisation was hard work, burning the midnight oil and stuff, and by the time everything ended, I was really really really lucky enough to have gotten accepted in med school (or else let me put it this way, I bagged a seat in med school). I was finally gonna become a doctor! Tell you what, thats a crazy crazy feeling!

Well I guess life changed after that. Dunno why, but once you're a med student there's obviously loads of people who sort of want to become potential 'contributors', if you know what I mean. As Mr. Saha once most eloquently put it 'Success has many fathers, failures have none'. How very true it was!

Anyway, the years that followed were some of the most enjoyable days of my life. Med school is truly truly an awesome place no matter where you might be studying. The dissections, the 'trips' to the wards etc etc. Okay there are drab lectures, books which can only be used for weight-lifting and nothing else and screwy professors. But overall its in all senses of the word an 'experience' (Do check out my other blog post about those days here). And the fact that some day I will indeed get that hallowed 'Dr.' before my name is lets say, satisfying to say the least.

I guess I'm leaving behind an eventful decade. A decade which truly changed my life...forever.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My picks of 2009

These are my picks for the best 'revolutionary' softwares/OSes/web apps of 2009:

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1. Google Chrome - This is without doubt the most interesting product of 2009. Although it was released in September 2008, Chrome really came of age in 2009. There's now a Windows, Mac as well as a Linux version of Chrome and the usability and feature set of Chrome has virtually doubled in the past few months. Its looking like a much more complete browser now than it ever did! And well here's the thing, I was an ardent fan of Firefox (maybe I still am) but seriously, Firefox doesnt really have the 'nifty-ness' of Chrome and frankly speaking, the development of Firefox isnt really headed in that direction! And now Chrome has a really good set of "Extensions" (aka the "add-ons"), so you wont really miss Firefox!

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2. icloud - Cloud computing is the future, there's no debate about that. The thin line between desktop and online computing has been blurred forever thanks to cloud computing. Now you can access your favourite desktop apps and files no matter where in the world you are. And among all the other cloud computing 'sites', icloud is without any doubt the sleeker and the most popular one. This surely was one of the most awesome stuff we've seen in 2009 and we're surely gonna see more of cloud in the years to come.

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3. Ubuntu - Linux also came of age in 2009. This year saw the release of one of the most user-friendly Linux OSes ever, Ubuntu 9.10 (codenamed Karmic Koala). It shattered the myth that Linux was all about terminals, kernels and everything geeky. Linux as of now is as user-friendly (and in some instances, even more) than its Windows counterpart. The sheer fact that everything is customisable is the plus point of Ubuntu. Also, the impenetrable security of Ubuntu has also been the talking point. Ubuntu is coming up with its LTS (Long Term Support) release next year 10.04 codenamed Lucid Lynx which promises to be another revolutionary step in Linux.

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4. Twitter - Who'd have thought a 140 character stupid social networking concept would turn out to be one of the most most important path breaking achievements in the social networking scene! Twitter has used 2009 to usher into a social networking giant, competing with the likes of Facebook and Myspace. Sure Twitter has teething problems and annoying outages but the fact is for millions around the globe (and that includes celebs as well), Twitter has become a way of life.

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5. DivX 7 - An unlikely candidate you might say? Infact I might venture to say, the release of DivX 7 was perhaps the most important landmark achievement of 2009. What does that mean? Well in the words of Wikipedia, "On the 6th of January 2009, DivX 7 was released, which added H.264 video, AAC audio and Matroska container support, surpassing the restrictions of their previous formats." So now, you can convert your favourite high definition videos to a format which will compress them to a large extent (much larger extent than Xvid or DivX) without apparent loss in quality! If you have a video which you want to share with the world, size is now no at all a barrier. (Some might say H264 and Matroska existed way before DivX 7 released, but the fact is because DivX 7 has integrated these codecs, it will now receive a worldwide recognition and acceptance from users. What this also means is that come 2010, and we might see products aka Blu Ray Disc Players which will play videos which use the H264 codec! Should suffice to say, this is music to millions of videophiles across the planet)

That was my pick of 2009.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lindsay Lohan's 'tour' of India

So now we have Lindsay Lohan in India. And why is she here? Apparently she wants to solve or lets say highlight the trafficking problem in this country. Really? I mean, seriously, dont we have any better person to do this job? How on earth did BBC come to the conclusion that Lindsay Lohan is the perfect role model! Oh well, I guess the BBC just hopped in on Lohan's flight, or maybe she has convinced the media giant of her 'noble intentions'. Anyway, thats not the point.

My files (found the original; it's not much be...Image via WikipediaPoint is, screwed up people in the West, mostly celebs (or pseudo celebs like Lohan), think that all problems of the world are either in Africa or in India (ask her who the Indian Prime Minister/President is and I'm sure she'll fumble for the rest of her life; ask her what she thinks of India and I'm sure she'll come up with nothing more than 'curry', and maybe now, 'trafficking'). And they think they are the saviours of the planet and could come here and 'do good' and serve humanity whenever they are in trouble in their home country, and 'experience life on the other side of the fence', and then...? Erm, I guess they go back to the US, arrange for expensive interviews with media giants and somewhat recover their public image. Erm wait! I forgot to mention about the autobiography bit! So, then they come up with these 'great' tell-all autobiographies where they brag about saving people's lives, helping others, while carefully forgetting about their own messed up ones!

And who exactly is Lindsay Lohan? An actress? Hell...the 'dance-around-the-tree' Bollywood actresses do a far better job at acting than she! A socialite? Erm...what exactly is a socialite? I guess someone who has nothing else to do apart from partying, doing drugs and Lohan's case, having doubts about one's sexual orientation! For heaven's sake she cant make out what sex she gets attracted to! (I have nothing against homosexuals but I hate people who consider it a fad to be called a gay or a lesbian) One day she gets attracted to Samantha Ronson (her mom approves their relationship and stuff) and then she decides 'oh wait, maybe I'm taking this too far, lets get hooked up with someone in a better position to boost my non-existent career, someone like erm..Leonardo Dicaprio?' And then the stories of her and Britney Spears' crazy night-outs are legendary.

Having Lindsay Lohan as a do-gooder in India is almost like asking Amy Winehouse to be the brand ambassador for drug de-addiction campaign! For god's sake please let us have some 'real' people do the job than wannabe stars or starlets having no intention but to restore their long extinguished careers.

Image uses GNU Free Documentation License

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The hullabaloo over climate change

Its the 'climate change' season (quite literally)! Everyone's talking about climate change and its definitely the buzz word right now. (Check out this Google Insight page. It shows a huge rise in the number of people searching for the world 'climate change' over the last 90 days)

More than 15,000 delegates from 192 countries from around the world have gathered in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference. Fair to say, the entire humanity is looking at this event in the hope that it would help carve an amicable path to tackle climate change. A solution they hope will be acceptable to the developed countries as well as to the developing nations without hampering their path to progress and development. Yet this simple idea has run into trouble since time immemorial. The developed nations are unwilling to share the burden of climate change and are more intent on passing the buck towards the developing nations. While the developing nations are unwilling to trade development with the pro-climate-change agenda. And there we are, exactly where we were around a decade ago, still deadlocked in the silly old mudslinging and passing the buck game, while the temperature rises, the Antarctic melts and more and more people lose their lives to the violence of nature.

Fair to say, in all these UN conferences, its the US which gets the priority or has more say when it comes to framing of new regulations. In this respect, the current US administration is certainly more 'green-minded' than its predecessor and President Obama does seem genuinely concerned about the issue. However when it comes to framing stringent, time-specific rules, its falls short of even coming close to a mutually agreeable solution with the other nations. And the developed countries always have the development vs climate change costs argument to come up with.

Since this debate has clearly divided the world into the 'developed' and the 'developing' nations, I would say its time that both parties showed some maturity in dealing with climate change.
The US needs to let go of the presumption that it has significantly reduced carbon emissions because it has not. It needs to come out of the assumption that developing countries as of now contribute more to emissions than itself because they dont. It needs to contribute whole-heartedly to global warming/climate change research and help the poorer/developing and even the other developed nations in sharing the research. It needs to provide the developing countries with all necessary financial support. I know its a lot to ask for, but havent the developed nations contributed (and is still contributing) the most to the enormous carbon emission levels today?
The developing countries need not sit tight and relax while the big brothers battle climate change. It needs to come up with a proper time specific solution of how it intends to tackle global warming. It needs to figure out a way to significantly reduce carbon emissions and perhaps most importantly figure out a path to continue industrial development without harming the climate any further.

At the end of the day its all a matter of good, old-fashioned 'intent'. Lets hope our leaders from around the globe come up with a proper idea of creating a cleaner, greener future for us.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shocked, stunned and utterly bewildered (all over again)

Tiger Woods in 2007Image via WikipediaFair to say that I'm shocked. I've never felt so let down by anyone, let alone by people for whom I have a deep sense of respect.

First Andre Agassi and now Tiger Woods. Well although the Tiger Woods incident was a personal affair, it did hurt fans of the great player (and that includes me). All those family pics of trophies he lifted with his wife and kids by his side...

Oh well, I guess we fans place our expectations from at sky high levels. Only to realise later that these people are after all fallible humans, vulnerable to all the pleasures of life.

Will keep this post short. Really dont want to delve deep into this uncomfortable topic.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The mess that was CAT 2009

Students taking a computerized examImage by Extra Ketchup via FlickrI think I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say that this year's CAT was a mess! The most awaited exam went online this year with the examinees having the option to choose the exact date and time for appearing. Alas!

Thousands of candidates have been asked to reappear for their exams for some unknown reason, apparently a 'virus'. At least so says Prometric (the tech giant which is behind conducting the exam). You know the story! (If not check out this link from The Times Of India)

But here's the thing. India's most 'popular' exam (in all senses of the word) goes online and there's a 'virus' which repeatedly affects the system? A 'virus'? Erm...sorry, but just seems a bit too incredible to me this one. Most industry experts say that such a glitch should not have taken more than a day to fix! The real cause seems to be server problems. Or more specifically incapacity of servers at the exam centers. I mean, there's this huge exam and everyone knows how important it is, and there's this screw up of magnanimous proportions! I expect these to happen in local exams but in CAT? Most certainly not!

And now there's this 'fairness' argument which is being put forward. People who were able to take the CAT at the first go, might be at an advantage compared to candidates who could not. This could be a valid argument. And frankly it puts a real question mark on the entire exam really. Imagine the stress the candidates might be going through!

And the saddest part? The IIMs are thinking of going back to the pen and paper format. Although I'm more familiar with the pen and paper exam, online exams are much more 'neutral' or lets say, 'leak-proof'. Just because Prometric messed up their job doesnt really mean that online exams are a failure. After all, most major exams around the world are held online.

Hope the right lessons are learnt this time around and the rest of CAT this year and the next turns out to be error free and 'virus' free. And of course, to all those hard working folks appearing for CAT, all the very best!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Google Wave...boring but brilliant!

Google Wave ScreenshotImage by marketingfacts via FlickrIf you're one of the lucky ones to have gotten an invite to google wave, you probably know that what you're using is something revolutionary. Okay, I admit I had my doubts over Wave. For starters it came from Google (a company I HATE with a passion). Second its in beta (oh well cant complain about that really. Orkut, Google's social networking cum Facebook copying wing has been in beta since I was a kid! :P). And third, I had the same old privacy concerns Google apps are renowned for gifting its users.

Anyway, all concerns aside, I had to have a go at it! (After all everyone's talking about Wave these days!) And for once, I was pleasantly surprised. Google wave is really a novel concept. You communicate with your 'friends' (who also must have received a Google Wave invite) via 'waves' which are sort of notes/ideas. The best part of it is, you can chat here in 'real-time' and I mean 'real-time'! You can see the other person type the words as the chat goes on! Should suffice to say that this is bloody brilliant! I dont think there's anything like this anywhere on the web, and I firmly believe this is what net chats in the future will look like.

However, apart from the brilliance comes the reality of it all. At the moment Google Wave isnt for everyone. You can only log in if you are invited by Google or if you've been sent an invite (which are pretty hard to come by! These invites were selling for 70 bucks each on ebay the last time I checked! And thats $$$!). As a result you wont find many users to 'wave' with. Now that could basically spoil your experience. Fortunately I have found some buddies to chat with on wave! But still it isnt as exciting as facebook or twitter simply coz I cant see any of my friends here! :( Also it can be pretty buggy at times, I was repeatedly asked to refresh my Google Wave page for apparently no reason whatsoever. In other words its more of concept right now than a real web application.

But I firmly believe Google Wave is here to stay. The concept is likely to be replicated by many other social networking sites.

If you have received an invite, dont waste it, give Wave a try! As they say...RIDE THE WAVE!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

26/11 one year on...

IMG_2388Image by Anand Krishnamoorthi via FlickrIs it really one year since those attacks? Seems like just days ago!

Of course newspapers and tv channels are talking loads about this 'anniversary'. But I'm a bit concerned about something else. Lets face it, our relations with Pakistan are at an all time low. Pakistan is a hot bed of terrorism, its a proven fact. The army chief reports that around 2000 terrorists are waiting on the other side of the border waiting for an opportune moment to sneak in to our land. Pakistan lets go of the terrorists responsible for the attacks. The US simply refuses to take stern action and President Obama is, as always, going about pleasing all country heads. Add to that the economic slowdown of the developed countries. And what you get is the perfect 'climate' for terrorists in our neighbouring countries to spawn.

Now many are asking a question. Isnt it time we took things in our own hands? In other words, isnt it time to take military action against Pakistan? The answer to this question varies from person to person but here's my take.

The Mumbai attacks have been one of the worst episodes of our country. I guess to some extent it reaffirmed the fact that our Union Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram confirmed on a documentary of National Geographic on the issue, 'no country is safe'. Let us not mince words in saying that the attacks were horrific and merciless attacks of terrorism.

But even having accepted all these facts, I wouldnt want India to go on an 'anti-terrorism' spree taking military action against neighbouring countries. The US has had a terrible impact on the world thanks to their so called 'war against terror'. Afghanistan is far from normal even after 8 years of anti terror actions. Iraq is another country which has had a similar effect thanks to the US response. Hundreds of lives lost, children killed, injured, seriously wounded, and thats just the human damage. Then there's of course the material and cultural damage. All in the name of anti terror actions.

The world hated the US action and so did I. And I dont want my country to commit the same mistake the US did. First of all, not all the people in Pakistan support terrorism. And not all of them are terrorists. Even if a very carefully planned military action is undertaken, there's no guarantee that it wouldnt kill innocent victims. And perhaps more importantly there's no guarantee that terrorists would be eliminated in totality! Also, India's image would take a beating. We cannot be an irresponsible nation at this juncture. Let the UN take action, or at least suggest proper action. Without the consent of the world, it wouldnt be very sensible to engage in a war with a neighbour. We dont want to be seen as another US-like superpower in the making, but as a responsible nation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

March of the seasons

These are pics I took of my college throughout the year of various seasons.

Finally something useful from Google

This is one of the huge welcoming signs for Go...Image via WikipediaLooks as if Google does listen to its users! :) It has finally come up with something really useful. The Google Dashboard. Many of you may have already noticed it but for those who havent, the Google Dashboard is a collection of all the info collected by Google and contains all your user account info in various Google affiliated sites etc. So for all you privacy freaks (erm that includes me as well) this is really good news! Although I doubt if Google is releasing "every" bit of info collected from us. But hey, something's better nothing!

To check what info Google has collected about you, log in to Google Dashboard.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cant we be just a little more far-sighted?

Rear View of the Babri Mosque.Image via Wikipedia

I'm seriously stunned at how myopic our politicians are! Our country is going through one of its worst phases with uncontrolled food prices, terrorism, inflation, economic slowdown, etc. and all we are worried about is something which happened more than 10 years back? Yes, I'm talking about one of the darkest days in the history of this country. The Babri Masjid demolition.

When we finally seemed to have buried the past and moved on, all of sudden comes a report leak and the opposition starts shouting and disrupting the Parliament session and development and other vital issues take a back seat. Largest democracy in the world eh?

Anyway, I somehow feel our political parties need to come to terms with the changing political scenario of this country. Most of these disruptions nowadays are telecast live on news channels, and it really makes me sad. These are the people we send to the Parliament for voicing our needs and here they are doing everything else apart from that!

Hope some sense prevails.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Image uploading sites

Image representing imageshack as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBaseWe all are born photographers arent we? :P Anyway, these days the trouble doesnt end there, you have to upload the photo somewhere to share it with others. There are loads of image uploading sites on the web. Some of them are really popular and some popular but useless. So, here's my take on some of them.

Flickr happens to be perhaps the most popular image uploading site. However it does have an uploading limit. So, basically its useful for posting private/family photos, but not for using it as a source for pics on your blog. And of course as with all yahoo services, you need to register to start uploading.

I learnt about a really cool image uploading site today called Imgur, which lets you do a whole lot of stuff apart from letting you upload your pics and it has a really cool interface. No registration is needed to upload. But the problem with it is, your images get deleted if they dont receive a 'hit' in 3 months. So basically if you have a huge blog which isnt very popular and you dont go through your really old posts at least once in 3 months, your images get deleted.

Photobucket is good, great options etc. but way too many ads for my liking. I dont feel like using it even for my family pics! You also require a registration to upload.

Finally, Imageshack. I'm sure most of you have used at some point in time, but fact is imageshack is the best we have! You dont need to register to upload images, your images get deleted only when they dont receive a hit at least once in 1 year (pretty reasonable), and if you register, your images dont get deleted at all! Plus, there are loads and loads of options (more for registered users). Registration, as with all these services, is free.

Chrome OS...what the hell is Google trying to achieve?

Ben Goodger and Google ChromeImage by niallkennedy via FlickrAnd here comes another OS...Google Chrome OS! (cant they think of any better name than that for an OS?)

Anyway, coming to the point, as of now Chrome OS is very much in development and currently the version thats "leaked out", seems to be a dampener.

First up, you require a constant internet connection to do stuff (even to log in to your OS, you need a net connection). Apparently your username and password are the same ones which you use to log in to your google account. Secondly, there are loads of google apps on this OS and all of it runs in the guise of the Chrome browser (hence the name). Although google apps are seriously cool, they still leave a lot to be desired when it comes to offline activities and privacy concerns. As of now, there's no provision for installing extra apps apart from Google ones (hope this will change by the time the final version comes out). So basically its more like icloud installed on your desktop! I seriously dont want to be in a situation where I have Chrome OS installed and find myself unable to connect to the internet!

One thing that this OS will definitely do is bring much needed attention to Linux. Hopefully we'll find better drivers, softwares and codecs for Linux if Chrome OS becomes a success. However I dont like an open source platform being used by corporate honchos like Google (oh well, thats my way of looking at it).

But, here's wishing Google Chrome OS all the luck! Hope it turns out to be something really useful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mobile number portability at last!

Sony Ericsson 2Image by NiklasNikon via FlickrTRAI has finally done something really useful! It has managed to introduce mobile number portability, which basically means that you dont need to change your mobile no. everytime you get a new SIM.

This will definitely come as a relief to all mobile users out there. India after all is acknowledged as the fastest growing mobile phone/wireless market, and perhaps its only appropriate that we had some of the cutting edge facilities users in many other countries enjoy. Quite surprisingly however our next door neighbour, Pakistan, seems to have caught the portability train earlier than us (way back in 2007)! [Source - Wikipedia]

As per the new rules, you need to pay upto Rs.19 (dont expect it to be anything less than that!) for the transfer (which is quite reasonable I think). Also you need to hold on to your service provider for 90 days (again, pretty reasonable I believe). What this will do is increase the competition among operators who will have to dish out some pretty customer friendly offers to hold on to their customer base. For instance, since Vodafone has discontinued its 'unlimited GPRS' aka Vodafone Live net-on-phone pack, I'm planning to take full advantage of this offer and switch to Aircel, which apparently has an unlimited GPRS plan for just 98 bucks!

At last we are free from the clutches of crappy offers! w00t!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Smile Pinki

Jonathan Curiel and Megan Mylan talking about ...Image by Steve Rhodes via FlickrI would say, I had the privilege of watching this movie yesterday.

Smile Pinki is the story of a five year old girl Pinki from Bihar who has cleft lip who gets a new lease of life when . The social stigma, the superstitions associated with cleft had kept the little girl in a miserable state until the family comes across Pankaj Kumar Singh, a social worker associated with G.S. Memorial Plastic Surgery Hospital in Varanasi. The movie follows the journey of Pinki as she goes through her surgery and smiles all over again!

A brilliant short film by director Meg Mylan, which deservedly received the Oscar for the best Documentary Short, this is a must watch for everyone. Undoubtedly one of the most inspiring movies I've seen in a long long time.


Check out the following links for official sites and videos of the movie:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Isnt it a pain to keep one's PC configuration up to date?

A photo of a microATX motherboard with an AMD ...Image via WikipediaI bought my PC way back in the nineties when Pentium III was a top notch processor, 128MB RAM was considered out of the box and when 40GB of hard disk space was considered enormous. However that configuration didnt last me long, soon it was time for me to update my PC to something more "sturdy".

Come the new millennium and I got myself a brand new AMD processor. Dont remember the model no. Maybe it was something like AMD Athlon XP 2000+. Upgraded my RAM to 256 MB and then later to 512 MB. And got a top notch motherboard (at least it was top notch then!) Asus A7N. Didnt let go of the hard disk though.

My next upgrade was about 3-4 years later when I got an AMD Sempron 3200+, 1GB of RAM (with an MSI K9MM-V motherboard) and a 160GB hard disk and got an sleek TFT panel. And now as so many times in the past, I'm feeling obliged to change my PC configuration, again! I'm thinking of either going for an AMD Phenom or Athlon 64bit, around 3Ghz and getting a 3GB RAM (as I already have 1GB from my current configuration), and getting a Nvidia graphics card.

With technology progressing at break-neck speed, its important to keep up with the latest in business. But seriously isnt this constant upgrading a pain in the arse? I mean, I spend loads of money every time on something which isnt even going to last me 5 years? Wish upgrading PC configuration was cheaper! Pity...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shashi Tharoor and the Cattle Class

Shashi Tharoor campaigning in ThiruvananthapuramImage via WikipediaWhat a shame that a simple "cattle class" reference by one of the most respected diplomat (former diplomat should I say?) is being turned into a stupid controversy! Shashi Tharoor is the only Indian politician who has the bloody guts to tweet! Why on earth cant we just respect that, instead of criticising each and every statement that he makes? Cattle class is in no way being referred to the passengers of the economy class but to the cattle like treatment being meted out to the passengers!

An Indian politician makes a perfectly classy and humorous, and this is how we treat him? Forcing him to quit his post?

Oh please, cant we be a little more sensible? The other day NDTV asked people whether they actually knew the meaning of "Cattle Class", and none of people asked did!

We really need to get something straight, do we need to free our country of corruption and corrupt politicians or do we play the age old misinterpretation game?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cant think of a title!

Picture taken in 2005 at Maddox Square, Kolkata.Image via WikipediaI never expected that maintaining a blog would be this hard! Well it really is. Call me lazy, but posting new stuff consistently seems to be getting a bit difficult. Especially when nothing much is happening at my end.

I mean I'm attending the same college (of course I am!), the classes are as boring as ever, and there's nothing interesting worth mentioning.

But wait, may be there is! Ah yes, my semester exams start from the first week of October and my 2nd Prof final starts from the second week of December, thats something to keep me busy isnt it? Well it should be, but for the moment I'm happy to take in the intoxicating autumn smell and the priceless ambience of the oncoming Durga Puja (yes thats right, the festivities start from the 24th, I think).

Okay this is gonna sound really random and crappy, but I watched BBC Entertainment for the first time today. It was always there, but never cared to watch it. I have to say, a strong Scottish accent coming out from a TV right in the middle of Kolkata does seem a bit "out of place" (?)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time pass...Tag!

1. What time did you get up this morning?

Embarrassing question. 9am. Now that was an early start. I usually wake up not before 10! Sorry! Early to bed and all aint my forte!

2. How do you like your steak?

Dont like steak.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Wait a sec, hmm, ah yes, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

4. What is your favorite TV show?

Dont have much to see on tele! All crappy stuff. But generally speaking, Prison Break, South Park and right now Samantha Brown's Passport to Europe.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Okay, I know this is a trick question! If I dont say India, I wont be a patriot!

India of course but would love to visit UK someday.

6. What did you have for breakfast?

Rice and daal with potato chips cooked by mom. Love it! On holidays its usually bread n butter with a boiled egg.

7. What is your favourite cuisine?

Indian if cooked well. Else, Chinese.

8. What foods do you dislike?

All things supposedly essential for the body, like carrots, fish etc. Yea, I'm a Bengali and I hate fish!

9. Favourite Place to Eat?

Depends really.

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive?

I like to be driven by others. Say by a bus driver or a train driver!

12. What are your favourite clothes?

Jeans and tees.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?

UK, France, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, the list goes on...

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?

1/2 full usually, but hey sometimes 1/2 empty helps as well.

15. Where would you want to retire?

When I've become a successful doctor.

16. Favorite time of day?


17. Where were you born?

Now why would anyone even care! Unless you are preparing my horoscope!

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?

Cricket, tennis, football.

19. Who do you think will not tag you back?

Lets see...dunno!

20. Person you expect to tag you back first?

Cmon next question plz!

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?

I hope this questionnaire has better things lined up.

22. Bird watcher?

Isnt everyone?

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Night is when the fun begins!

24. Do you have any pets?

Am already a pet!

25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share?

Yeah! I screwed up my Ziehl Neelsen stain today!

26. What did you want to be when you were little?

An engineer

27. What is your best childhood memory?


28. Are you a cat or dog person?

I like woof more than meow.

29. Are you married?

Married to what? To my books, my PC? Yeah of course!

30. Always wear your seat belt?


31. Been in a car accident?

No but been witness to some horrific ones, unfortunately.

32. Any pet peeves?

Thats personal! I revolt!

33. Favourite Pizza Toppings?

Cheese of course!

34. Favourite Flower?


35. Favourite ice cream?


36. Favourite fast food restaurant?


37. How many times did you fail your driver’s test?

Hell lemme take it for the first time!

38. From whom did you get your last email?

A bot who tried to sell me ewwy enlargement stuff. (Sorry, the question was like that!)

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?

Tough one, lets see...eZone, PlanetM, Music World. Or even better

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?

Not that I can recall.

41. Happy with your job?

Get me one first!

42. Broccoli?

Where's the bathroom?

43. What was your favorite vacation?


44. Last person you went out to dinner with?


45. What are you listening to right now?

Stupid clicks of the mouse

46. What is your favorite color?

On my Bravia, green. Otherwise blue.

47. How many tattoos do you have?

One on my duodenum, which says "Frak", but you'd have to dissect my tummy to see that one.

48. How many are you tagging for this quiz?

We'll see

49. In What time did you finish this quiz?

"In" what time? That'd be like 30-45 mins. Thats coz I was tweeting as well!

And "At" what time? Well, right now its around 2 am.

50. Coffee Drinker?

Is that a trick question?


Dark times lie ahead!

These were the scenes at around 3 in the afternoon here today.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A very special moment!

Clock in Kings Cross railway stationImage via WikipediaSo right now the time is 12:34pm, and I'm assuming 56 seconds. And the date is 7/8/09 (or 7/8/9).

So that means - 123456789 are totally in sequence! This is a rare moment in history and will never come again!

Didnt want to let such a moment pass without "capturing" it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fuel emission it really possible in India?

Greenhouse gas emissions by country in 2000 in...Image via WikipediaReducing fuel emissions in India is turning out to be more difficult than previously assumed, by not just the government but the entire administration! I'm specifically talking of Kolkata here which has experienced a drastic reduction in air pollution today, thanks to the ban of vehicles more than 15 years old plying in the city, as claimed by some of the leading newspapers.

Troubling also is the fact that various political parties right from the ruling leftists to the opposition have expressed their support towards the cause of the affected auto and bus drivers. There is of course valid reasons in them lending their support. They are fighting for the working class (now you might call this genuine concern or mere vote bank politics). Maybe the government should have been more proactive in implementing the ban of vehicles more than 15 years old months ago, but instead it chose to play the waiting game, something which I'm quite sure its regretting right now. Of course trying to implement the ban now, its facing stiff protests all over.

The fact remains, no matter what promises the government makes to the international community with respect to emission cuts, its not gonna hold true unless some serious grass root level remedial mechanism is set in place. At the moment a deep rooted grudge developing within all factions of the working class against the government. The public is angry about the absence of public transport on the roads, and the bus, taxi and auto drivers are obviously angry about losing their livelihood.

Even Delhi's LPG transformation wasnt without protests. However it was tactfully handled and now Delhi's a cleaner and greener city than Kolkata. I sincerely hope an amicable solution is worked out between the government and the fuming unions. No one's gaining from this irritating deadlock.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Of malls and recession...

The Mall BangkapiImage via WikipediaMost of us in India have gotten used to shopping malls by now. The mall phenomenon kicked off quite late in this country, the first full fledged malls becoming popular only by 1999-2000.

The thing about malls is that you get everything under one roof, and you have the proper ambience to do so. Now whenever you visit a mall, you see hundreds of people taking a nice cat walk around the showrooms. And some daring to enter a few.

Okay, so here's the thing. How many of them are "actual buyers"? In other words, how many of them are NOT window shoppers? The answer and I'm sure you'll agree with me here, very few.

Malls these days have turned out to be some cool place to hang around with friends (not that I'm complaining). But I seriously wonder what the showroom owners have to say about this issue. I mean seriously, how many people do you see leaving a mall with bag full of goodies?

This is a report by MSN India back in July, 2008: Retails quit Mumbai malls over low sales

Now of course, the recent recession hasnt helped for sure. Footfall in malls have dropped significantly over the past few months. More links here:

Again, access is a huge issue. How many malls cater to the masses? Most malls are located in the poshest areas of a city and there's absolutely very little what I'd call penetration into the deeper areas of the country. Here's a report from The Telegraph about Book Stores in Kolkata: The city is set for a bookstore boom, but are there enough takers?

Also, there's an interesting report, again in The Telegraph, which talks about footfalls increasing only in times of mega bonanza and offers like that. Understandable I guess. Here's the link to that report: Retailers struggle to foot mall bill as footfalls drop and sales dip

Well, the thing is until the recession has passed I dont think the situation will improve. But malls are here to stay thats for sure.

Got a new Octane!

Mum and dad's marriage anniversary today and it was I who got a gift! :D

Titan Octane

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is Blogging Passe?

I wish I never had to post this. But when regular bloggers start talking about shutting down their blog it is indeed a cause of worry.

The reason why people are talking about blogs becoming passe is mainly because of the advent of microblogging services. Oh well, the microblogging service, aka Twitter.

Okay, I'm on twitter as well. But I dont find any competition from Twitter to blogging sites such as Wordpress or Blogger. Both are very different at the outset. Twitter is more of a slow chatting sort of a thing. And a fad as well, considering the number of celebs who tweet. Blogging in my opinion is more of an articulate thing, and it requires a dedication. You cant just blog for a month and get tired of it. These are the differences I have perceived.

Blogs have certainly becomes more commercial these days, and that perhaps this has caused the creative type blogs to take a backseat. Most of the "featured" blogs on Wordpress are the ones belonging to big corporate houses or news studios/services. But the thing is, even when a blog is unpopular it just means its being read by fewer people, but being read all right! Personally I would prefer my work being read by few people than not being read at all.

Finally, I sincerely hope blogs live on. This is a way of expression which is unique. Let us not kill it.

You could check out this link I found while browsing: my 2 cents: Is blogging passe?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When it rains, it pours!


Pic taken yesterday from the top floor of my apartment building.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Am back on track

Strange things happen to people isnt it? Well my monitor which had simply refused to obey my commands, and had starved me of everything "web", suddenly decided it was enough. Shocking as it may seem, it has started functioning just as it used to!

Oh well, this gives me another opportunity to make a blog post. Have been running out of ideas lately. :P

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Now my monitor's not working!

Dunno what happened, but my monitor which has served me well for over a decade suddenly got screwed up. It simply wont switch on which is the most irritating bit. Repairing a monitor takes time and money, the former I dont have. So I have to get a new monitor soon. Have narrowed down to either a 14' or a 15' one. I already have an LCD tv at home, so it doesnt make sense going for another LCD all over again. As for now, I'm being forced to post a blog via my mobile.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince : My Review

British actor Daniel Radcliffe at the London p...Image via Wikipedia
Saw the movie today and here's my review.

With the Potter series being well and truly "over", its hardly expected that a movie would rekindle the magic which it had once upon a time managed to create. For me, Harry Potter was all about the books and Pottermania ended the day I read the last page of the Deathly Hallows. So, I hardly expected anything from this movie.

I was so so wrong!

I'll admit it, this is the best Potter movie yet. Period.

Where do I start? The opening sequence of the movie is mind blowing to say the least! I was just stunned and totally at a loss for words! The death eaters wrecking havoc all over the city, the truly outstandingly dramatic collapse of London's Millennium Bridge...the first few minutes is enough to make you realise that this movie is gonna be different.

Brilliant brilliant performances from all the leads. Daniel Radcliffe has truly come of age. He has become such a natural in his role as Harry Potter. But a special mention must go out for Helena Bonham Carter. Her menacing smile, the awesome "destruction scene" (not giving away too much in case you havent seen the movie yet) gave the killer punch!

The movie has its share of light moments, which is a refreshing change. And in the final 15 minutes you wont feel like uttering a word. The movie is truly a journey through a huge range of emotions.

Some of the scenes in this movie are truly truly breathtaking. And in the wide screen of a theatre they look all the more so. The cinematography is consistently brilliant and so is the music.

Now you might say they missed this and they missed that when you compare it with the novel. But the thing is, this aint the novel. This is the movie adaptation and there's bound to be changes. Let us accept that and then judge this purely as a movie and not as an adaptation or a page by page reproduction of the oh so awesome novel. For me the charm of Harry Potter always was the books, and it still is. The intricacies, the sub plots, the emotional upheavals of characters are very difficult to reproduce on screen. However this is as good a job any director could've done given the length and breadth of the novel.

A truly wonderful movie and I might venture to say, one of the better movies of 2009. It has well and truly created the ground for two awesome sequels.

Pottermania is alive and kicking, all over again!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Arent holidays boring?

Pūpūkea, HawaiiImage via Wikipedia
Seriously, arent they? Okay short holidays are cool but long holidays are really crappy! Just experienced it first hand today.

Enjoying a 5 day break from college right now. Although it started off fine, and I really was enjoying it initially, its turning out to be really really boring now. Have nothing to do, but to watch stupid movies. I was reduced to being forced to watch the movie Bad Company! Thats how desperate my situation is!

Whats strange is that when I have college, I feel like - gosh wish I had a day off! And when finally I get loads of days off, it gets boring. Oh well, just one more day and then college kicks off again. Cant wait, cant wait!

P.S. I dont mind long holidays if they are this cool! (I mean like in Hawaii)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shocked, stunned, and utterly bewildered

Customer service in most sectors in India is pathetic to say the least. The so-called customer care executives are ill-prepared, sometimes ill-behaved (the callers are supposed to be ill behaved not them for god's sake! Although I strongly protest rude behaviours of customers with the executives), and most frequently plain ignorant! They have absolutely no clue about what they are doing and behave as though they are doing the customers a favour by giving them proper customer service.

The thing is, the concept of customer service has been alien to the Indian way of life until the huge economic, social and the paradigm cultural change/explosion which took place in the late nineties and the early 21st century. Since then the country has never had to look back, economically, politically, strategically and in various other aspects. But unfortunately, the sloppy Indian "chalta hai" (it happens) attitude clearly hasnt got accustomed to it even now!

And why do I say all this? Here's the story. I was unhappy with my Vodafone GRPS and wanted a more stable GPRS with less server outages. The only other option I had was Airtel, and I decided to go for it. What a stupid mistake that was!

Its almost a day since I took the connection, as of now, my GPRS services havent still been activated, although I have already paid them for my GRPS for this month! And to add to my woes, the Customer Care isnt responding to my calls! The stupid guy simply hung up while I was speaking! And to my utter surprise I found that I could no longer reach the customer care because apparently they had blocked my access to their support number. I later learnt that once such a thing happens the customer care is usually out of reach upto one week!

I am just stunned at how insanely nonsensical and callous the customer care folks can be! How on earth are companies paying money for these guys! I know I'm being harsh, but just imagine being stuck with a new SIM, with an inactive GPRS (after paying them money for it) and not being able to do anything about it, coz the customer care is dead! Simply dead! For god's sake why even have these offices if the company's not willing to give proper support to its customers.

Am really shocked, stunned and utterly bewildered at this apathy.


Avatar is awesome!

Lego Avatar: The Last AirbenderImage via Wikipedia
Just checked out a really awesome animation series. Avatar - the last airbender. Now I know many of might say..."what? Thats so yesterday!" Yeah you're right. But the thing is, in India we didnt get to watch this awesome series.

Anyway, the thing is, the animation is simply superb! It reminded me of the days of "clean" animation, when the artwork used to be beautiful and the animation stunning! Not like today's 3D stuff (not that I hate 3D, just that the good old 2D still manages to stun me!). And apart from the amazing artwork, the thing which stands out most is the awesome storyline/plot and the humour. Avatar is an ultimate amalgamation of the best in graphics and storytelling. Amazing is the word!

Yip yip!