Sunday, August 28, 2005

On The Double

Today, during lunch hour, Prof. H.N. Mishra came to our mess to eat food with us. Not as an act of solidarity, but to fulfil his duty as a member of H.M.C. (or by whatever name it is called now). Now he made a surprise visit to inspect the quality of food. I didn't knew why he came today sacrifising his Sunday lunch, but my best bet is knowing that R.P. Hall serves special food on Sunday lunch, it is best to inspect it then.

While testing a computer programme, we try to see if it works for the special cases. Because if it does, it must also work for the usual cases. That being a Professor in Agricultural and Food Engineering Department gives this wisdom I wasn't sure until I saw it today.

If they can make good food for special occasions, they must be successful in making it for usual occasions. But unfortunately, R.P. Hall had a different platter for him. For the past few weeks, the special meal have beed shifted to Sunday dinner instead of Sunday lunch. So he was forced to rate the R.P. Mess food on a scale different than he had initially planned.

Anyway, my eyes followed all his movements. First, he commented on the Cereal (dal) and Sambhar bowls kept on the ground. Though I couldn't hear him, he must have said that they should not be placed on the floor as it has a chance of contamination.

"Please try our mess food...Please try our mess food...", I was continuously praying. My prayers were heard. Though with a grim face, he took a bit of everything on his plate and proceeded to eat at one corner of the table with Jyotendra Pallab (I hope the spelling is correct), the General Secretary (Mess) of R.P. Hall.

As soon as he sat, he realized he had no spoon. Noticing this, Pallab waved to Gopal da. Never before had I seen him run. Reminded me of the person he must have been in his early twenties. After making a running stroll across the mess, he presented the professor with a spoon.

He took a bit of curd on his spoon and tasted it with sufficient alert as he was having the job of a poison taster. He tried other dishes as well, but the gloom on his face didn't fade. He took some rice and was marvelled on how lumpy could rice be made. He tried it also but was not humoured. He called for roti and again Gopal da ran into the kitchen to fetch a roti. Maybe for water, Pratap da had to run. Here again, I must admit, that I had never seen him run. He called the assistant mess manager and told him his observations which he noted on his pad. He shook his head many times pointing to the various dishes he ate. Then he stood up and began to leave. He hadn't sat to eat for even 5 minutes and even for 3 minutes out of that, he was talking to either Pallab or the asst. mess manager.

Now the funny part. Even as he was leaving, I saw him (yes, Prof. Mishra) walk pretty fast (almost running). No offence to him but I feel that he had to reach home soon to tell his wife to make some lunch.

"Kuchh bhi banao. R.P. se accha hi hoga.(Make anything. It will be better than R.P. food)", I imagined him telling his wife and couldn't resist the smile. It is rare that I smile from the bottom of my heart while eating something like this. I knew I had to blog it.

बातें भूल जाती हैं।
यादें याद आती हैं।

"Baatein bhool jaati hain....
Yaadein, yaad aati hain...."

Caught in the Act

This morning I decided to sell the pile of old newspapers to the junk-seller (raddiwalla) that came doing rounds asking for "Purana Paper". Before going on with the routine measurement, I enquired the prevalent rate in the market. He said, "Rs. 4.50". I wondered how he was able to offer such high rate when I remember the one going on in my hometown varies from Rs. 3~3.50. As it is better, I decided not to bargain.

"Take the pile and go ahead with the weighing", I ordered.

He took the massive pile out of my room, which must have been 8 kilograms atleast. Then he took out his pan balance and a 500 gm weight. I asked him why he didn't carry a 1 kg weight. He told that his carry bag would tear apart on being subjected to 1 kg weight. But I knew the answer. They always go for smaller weights because they can put more paper on the other pan to show "just balanced" and then use that greater weight with the dead-weight already present to maximixe their profits. But this much cheating is allowed for them. I knew that if I went on to measure the actual weight of the dead-weight, it would be more than 500 gm. But I comforted myself on the plight of the poor man and chose to ignore.

The guy proceeded with the weighings. First he showed me his balance without any weights balanced and hence confirming a non-rigged balance. Then he proceeded to put the dead-weight in one and judiciously selecting a pile that was under 500 gms. He then took a little more newspaper into the pan to show almost exact balance. The pile looked like almost 800 gms, and it grew suspicion in my mind. Then I realized that when holding the rope, he was resting the side on his arm on the side of the scale to force it to look equal. I immediately understood his trick. But before I could say anything, he took off the newspapers off the pan.

"Stop! Stop!", I cried. "Take the measurement again". He though alarmed, kept wearing his innocent face and put the pile back on. "Why are you resting the side of your palm on the pan balance beam?", I enquired. A smile grew on his face and he put down his balance. After thinking a little, he said "Will you take Rs.30 for this pile?". I knew he had done his numbers.

"Why don't you measure it?", I enquired. He said, "I can't. Its not economically feasible for me to pay Rs. 4.50 per kg if I weigh."

"But I didn't fix the rate, you did", was my reply. "Its not possible....I won't weigh how much would you pay for it", he continued.

"I am not selling if you won't weigh it. You may go.", I was quick to reply.

We argued for a while till he was hopeless. As he started packing his stuff, I put forward my final step: "So what's your final amount?"

I must say he had to think a lot. Being in the same business for atleast 5 years, he knew his mathematics pretty well. "Rs. 40", he called.

"Ok. Take it.", I replied.

He started taking it but the expression was not of any joy.

I knew I could have got a better deal by pressing further or going for some other raddiwalla, but harassing the poor had never been my idea of fun. Though I never give alms to the poor(?) beggers, I bargain less with the vegetable seller. I put a question mark after the word 'poor' because the tragedy of India is that an average begger earns more than a hard-working labourer in a construction site or a vegetable seller. As I can't do on to show my solidarity with the construction workers, I do it with the hard-working vegetable sellers. I know that even many of them resort to malpractices, I show compassion to only those whom I go regularly to buy and know as bona-fide merchants. I don't mind if someone says I am a poor bargainer because I knew I could have. And the sellers also sometimes show happiness by pushing a little dhania/adrak in addition to the vegetables free of cost, even without asking.

Long live humanity.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Test Blog

If you can read this, I have successfully blogged using the New Plug-in for Microsoft Word.

I don’t have much to write as I have already blogged a minute back.

Keep blogging.

Smart Talk

The day before yesterday, I was shaken out of ignorance by my next-door-neighbour. He informed me that Google has recently launched its messaging client, Google Talk. Looked like a fancy name to me. Why say talk when what you actually do is type. Anyway, being a Google-worshipper, it was my responsibility to download anything with the word Google in it. I opened the site to find the installation ready to be downloaded. I chose to ignore the blah-bhah written on the upper part of the page. I found that the installation file was 900kB. I didn't expect any better, but here was it. I knew downloading this file would take a lot of time (the condition in which I was in, every second counted and hence, 10 minute download would have killed me). Just then I remembered the mighty old DC++. I knew if I had found it, so would have many more people who are geeker and freaker than me. I turned on the client to find the download ready to be started. I pressed the PANIC button. The download didn't even take a second. The installation was a breeze. But the interface disappointed me. I wanted it to be flashier. But anyway, it was in working condition. The first thing I did was inviting everyone in my message list who had GMail ID. Then, to chat with my next-door-neighbour, I clicked his name's tab. A window appeared that said: Calling so-and-so....What the hell, Yahoo! was better in that, it need not attempt to call in order to start chatting. It was then I realized that using Google Talk, I could actually talk to people apart from regular chatting. The talk window appeared as I had clicked the right corner of the rectangle. And it was lot better than Skype. The best thing was the quality of sound. This software had an amazing feature of background noise reduction that was a lot better than others, if at all existed in them. I became a fan of it. For the next one day I saw the bubble growing as big as the Earth itself. Almost 30 people had been added to my list itself. And the funniest part was the plight of Yahoo! Messenger.

Almost 70 percent of those online on Yahoo! Messenger were advertising for Google Talk. Many of them had their GMail ID as well posted as status message. And I found out that same was the case with most people's message list. In one day I was aware of the features and drawbacks of the software. Here's what I had assimilated.

One of the key features missing in Google Talk is Emoticons support. I don't think that will be a big problem at all. The client can identify most of the common emoticons and displays them as Blue coloured bold-face text.

The second thing missing is attractive theme. At its current Vanilla theme, it is not at all pleasing to the eyes. Also, I feel that the message archive facility is not too good (I am not satisfied with the way it shows all past information in each of the chat windows). A categorized and separate view like Yahoo! Messenger would cerainly have helped. And why call it Google when you can't search for anything in your past history message records. Hopefully Google will sort out this problem soon.

When I was thinking about it, a new idea came to my mind. If they can archive text message, why not voice chat? As the voice chat works smoothly over the net, it must be consuming less than 2~3KBPS. With the practically free storage we have, I don't think anyone will mind the feature. Of course if you don't want it, you may turn it off. Sounds are something a man/woman cherishes more than text. Wouldn't it be better to be able to hear your last talk with your girlfriend or the directions your friend gave for reaching the party venue? I suppose it would.

I heard many people complain that it doesn't support sending SMSs to mobile phones or calling phone numbers as other providers do. I believe its just a matter of time before this thing gets added to the client.

When I was browsing through various critic's blogs on Google Talk, I was marvelled to find people explaining their theory on Google products yet to launch. These include Google OS (a distributed computing based OS more powerful than Windows and as bug free as Linux), Google Video Search (archive of old TV serials), Google acquiring miles of hi-speed cables, the Wi-fi's, etc. The good thing about rumours is that only time can tell whether they are correct or not. But I pray that they are. I pray for Google's success. Because it had a big hand in shaping what I am. And as one of our Professors pointed out:"You people should give a part of your salary to Google, for without it, you could not manage to pass out as engineers."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Bottomline

I Am Lazy

The seriousness of this bottomline made me write it on the top, to always remind me of it.

Looking back, I see that the last worth-while blog I had written was way back on 6th August, about my birthday extravaganza. Since then, many new developments have taken place in my life. And I have been lazy enough to not document anything in my sweet personal diary. Before anything, let me count all the reasons I feel are quotable for my laziness.

1) My love for blogging.
Okay, this needs an explaination. I am addicted to a crazy phenomenon called blogging. And I am crazy about it. I have added some 30 odd blogs to my Sage list and read them throughout the day. I had decided that every day I will spend two hours blogging. And reading these alone (with creative inputs and redirects from various other blogs) takes about three hours of my daily schedule. This way, I am left with no time to spend with my diary.

2) My Professors
All of a sudden, the whole department seems to have realized that the fourth years haven't been getting any homework. So all of the Professors I take lectures from have started giving outrageously many assignments, volumes that will even make Hermione crying for mercy.

3) My extra-curriculars
As this is a story in itself, I will write a detailed description of it.
In the beginning of the semester, I was sure to carry on the fame I have accumulated on my swimming skills. But soon I realized it was not to be. Attributing to a host of factors including those mentioned above, for the first two weeks I managed to get my feet wet only twice. I knew the writing on the wall and decided not to renew my subscription. Suman had other plans and is currently cursing his wisdom. But since I cannot let my body laze around, I decided to run. Not like Forrest Gump, but in a more civilized way around the Scholar's Avenue. And since I am even more civilized than the rest of the civilization, I decided that I would rather jog. I found a wingmate (Nasir) and we decided to share the madness.

Again attributing to the factors that prevented me from swimming, and a few more pointless arguements, I sit here writing with having gone jogging only twice in the past week.

This hasn't been the only development in my life. I had a few memories worth remembering on this Raksha-Bandhan. Far away from being a Hallmark Holiday, it isn't even a holiday in IIT Kharagpur. I didn't get any Rakhi till the D-day, and got one only on the same day. It was my from Shipra Didi. I took it with me to the class as I planned to visit SN Hall after the Lab class. Even in the lab I tied Rakhi to Atanu and Aditya (Ok, tightened; not tied). Jena had already got me to tie one on him.

After the Lab, I went to SN Hall to get the Rakhi tied from Pallavi. She also tied one of hers on me. After the routine blessing, I went back. I had to catch the next day's train to Dhanbad, the Assansol Passenger which departed at 4:45 am. So I had to put an alarm of 3:30 am to reach on time.

Upon reaching the station, I enquired about the train timing, and was frustrated to know that the train actually leaves at 5:35 am, costing me an hour of sleep. But this brought me another worry. The information of the train timings were briefed to me by my Mamaji, who also told that I would be getting a connecting train from Adra to Bhaga. If he had done his arithematic based on the fact that the train starts at 4:45 am, I was sure to miss it. Fortunately, he didn't use any such methods to calculate it, and was sure of the arrival timing of the train at Bhaga. I reached Bhaga at around 11:30 am and home at around 12 noon.

Before going further, I want to document the reason for my visit. One fine day I get a call from my sisters, Nidhi and Iti, that they have bought Rakhis for me. But they aren't mailing it. If I want them, I should personally come over to Dhanbad and get them. This was blackmail, but I couldn't complain.

We spent days together doing nothing but masti. We (I and Ankur) returned by the Monday's Passenger to Adra followed by Rupashi Bangla Express. Fortunately for us, there wasn't any rush in the Express train that I had to bear while I was coming back last time.

There were more events. I designed the website for my Department's Society. And tried to make it as functional as possible. But since I am not too bright, Prof. C.S. Kumar said, "This definitely can be made better." And as a tribute to my effort, I put in the logo I had myself created as the official logo.(See left) As the official logo hasn't been finalized yet, all are welcome to come with suggestions of MES logo. But NO GEARS OR ROBOTS please!

Another event that happened was the freshers' intoduction of the department by MES. As I and Atanu are the only active members, we had to share almost all the responsibilities. Although it stated as a damp squib due to torrential rains, it was a success eventually. I will not go into the details as they I am saving them for the MES blog. We are planning many more events, and hopefully they will be organized well.

This seems enough for a single post. But in this I have proved one thing. Blogging this much is not a thing a lazy person can do. And hence,

I Am Not Lazy, I Am Just A Spoilt Youngster.

And this is the bottomline.

(N.B.: Incidently, this is my 50th post in my personal blogs section. i.e. leaving aside 193 posts in Humour blog and 68 posts in Serious blog.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Doomed for Hell

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you (Ambuj Saxena) to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)High
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Get ready for Blitzkreik...I have been compared to Hitler

As you read this, I am setting up the Fourth Reich in my wing. I have got another Hitler as my next door neighbour and I suspect there are more.

What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Birthday Buoy

August the 2nd was my birthday. And it will continue to remain so until they do something creepy with the Gregorian Calendar. After that I may have to celebrate it in July or September depending on which way they shift. But I am not going to worry about it until I am forced to. At this moment, I am forced to worry about bigger issues like whether I should be studying or blogging. Apparently I have found a solution. But I won't tell you.

I remember my birthdays used to be very routine till I was in school. Only the faces who turned up and sung : "Happy Birthday To You..." changed but everything else including the menu of the birthday would remain same. I know that my mother will kill me for this as she makes sure that the menu is different everytime, but anyway, since the choice of birthday dishes is limited to 8 dishes with 3 dishes being cooked everytime, repititions are bound to occur every third year. Given the fact that I have a poor memory and I remember very less about my birthdays, and I can't recall any differnce among them. Of all the places I lived, I remember just one birthday celebrated there.

When things become routine, we crave for a change. so when in the first year in IIT Kharagpur, I wasn't hounded for by birthday by anyone, it was a welcome change. I was feeling a lot more human on that day. Though I didn't think much about it, in my sub-conscious mind, it was written in bold print that I love being human on my birthday. That I was no party boy made it simple for me to save myself from being hounded by people to give treats and GPLs.

For those not into any Indian Colleges, GPL refers to the phenomenon of kicking the butt of a person using all the force you can gather, doing it in a group big enough so that by the time you are finished giving GPLs, the guy on the receiving side (howsoever sturdy and with cushoined buttocks) is also finished.

I have never been able to keep terms with either GPLs or treats. The people who "ask" for treat and "declare" to wield GPL are usually the same, and I find them mentally ill. While there is no harm in giving treats, asking for them should never be practiced. Treats are usually asked when a person gets success in doing something big, which usually amounts to money. So no sooner does the person gets the money, he is hounded to part with it by giving lavish treats at the place the receiving group finds suitable. So the happiness comes at a cost.

On similar lines, GPLs are given to people when they are ecstatic. And no sooner than a person has got a reason to be happy, is he reduced to a limpig and weaning lump. This aptly looks to me as the pull down mentality of the masses. If you don't get success, scare the others from success by punishing them for it.

Coming back to my birthday stuff. Now my birthday was without any stuff for the next 3 years. In the second year, I was out to JBNSTS seminar where they presented me with a big chocolate cake and again sung the routine "Happy Birthday" song. There are two things I want to remind everyone are:
1) I hate cakes. One of the reasons I hate birthdays.
2) "Happy Birthday" song is routine. People should invent some other parallel song that can help breaking the monotony.

While these were not the reasons that gave me happiness, it was the fact that they remembered was plaudible (Note that they use softwares for reminding). Even more heartening was the fact that they sent another cake for Ankur. A very interesting thing also happened. To those not inside my friends circle, I should tell that another JBNSTS scholar was Anita V, who because of a few unfortunate events that took place in the first year was mad at my brother Ankur. And she used some law that looked to me like the Principle of Mathematical Indcution from the Cretaceous Era into proving that I am the Ankur. Neither did she sung out of compulsion, she even refused to eat the birthday cake for some vague reason. I wasn't humoured by this. While we were returning back, I made her hold Ankur's cake for a while when I loaded the other baggage in the taxi. She gave me a look of disgust similar to what Mukta gave when she spotted her Lizzy. A small difference that Anita wasn't exactly afraid of the cake.

In the third year again, I managed to escape the public eye by keeping a low profile. Somehow, even very less friends and family members called me. The only thing I remember about that birthday is that I had a mini-treat in which I took along Suman and Hrishikesh and we had Chicken Biryani at Billoo's Restaurant.

This year there was a completely different story. I decided to go to sleep at 11:30 pm. But I was shaken out of the sub-conscious state I had reached by a call from Sarika at 12 midnight. Prateek called at 12:30 and I got an SMS from Chinmay Joshi at quarter to one. So I couldn't sleep before 1 am. And I woke up at six, giving me only five hours of sleep. Note that usually I sleep for about 7~8 hours everyday. I was pleasantly surprised by a note pasted on my door that said "Many Happy Returns Of The Day". It was though anonymous. Usually I would have teared such thing off in a second. But the fact that it was anonymous made me wait. I felt that until I acknowledge to the writer, I should not be tearing it. I left it dangling there.

Throughout the whole day, I kept on receiving calls and messages on orkut. I feel that orkut had a lot to do with such response that day as it keeps reminding of the birthdays and all. Eventhough I had no plans of it beforehand, I decided to give the whole wing a treat. I also decided to invite Addy to it. Here comes the differnce I talked about before in this post. Eventhough I decided to pay the bill all by myself, 4 more wing-mates suggested that they share the bill as they were unable to give any birthday treat owing to vaccations. It was eventually decided that I and Amiruddin share the amount between us. We had a great time during the treat at Little Sisters Restaurant. By mid-night, I had received over 40 birthday wishes. I realized that if such enriching and novel experience is what the birthday offers, I can start celebrating them again.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Supporting a cause

Steve Broback at the Blog Business Summit is doing an experiment on inbound links. So here is my link to his post on the Palace Hotel.