Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Different moods..

Here is a light hearted comparison..

We've always conjured that maybe - just MAYBE the chimp will give a better press conference, run the country a bit better, etc etc, but now - here (or here, if the link does not work) is the real stuff - solid proof that it is only a matter of testing the two together and its quite possible that the underdog might come out on top - now that's not a fair statement - is it? It really depends who you think the underdog really is!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Photo of the day

Somebody save the poor dog!!

Rudy Giuliani was in New Hampshire yesterday.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thangsgiving folks

Thanksgiving is one American holiday I really like. It's all about the good stuff. Food, friends, family, friends of family and family of friends. No presents, no decorations, no cards - it's just about having a good time.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Use a 17 cent disposable razor for over a year!

I saw this on lifehacker the other day - I was simply surprised that what I do every day (or every other day) is actually going to be featured in the Chicago Tribune.

Have other tips? Share it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Photo of the Day

The demonstrations in Pakistan are not to be ignored. How can you ignore them anyway? There are 5 cameras in this photo. 6 if you count the one taking this shot. One wonders if they would shout as much or even get arrested if there were no cameras. We've all seen those video clips when people are shoving to get in the camera frame - many a times - finding it difficult to wipe off that smirk from their faces, sometimes even when they are getting the lathi on their heads. Even when Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto came back to the country and was offering prayers at a religious place, people were shoving each other, even with their hands raised in prayer. It's not funny at all.
By the way, isn't she loving every moment of this circus?

Monday, November 05, 2007

What's the difference?


Both places (Burma and Pakistan)
-have NO democracy,
-have military at the helm of political affairs,
-have the military crushing popular uprisings.

Then why do western nations favoring one (U.S. Is Likely to Continue Aid to Pakistan (or click here if link does not work))
and put sanctions and condemn the other?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Flying back home on a clear evening

Last night, I returned from Atlanta after attending a conference. It was a nice evening and the sky was clear when my Delta 747 descended from 30,000 feet. The sun had set and we could see the beautiful orange colors on the horizon. As soon as the plane did a turn and tilted a little, I could see the numerous lights - both moving and stationary. The towns and cities below me were alive and moving. What I thought I would see - or rather expected I would see, was just a faint light at the horizon and then darkness on the ground, as the deep dark woods devoured whatever light there was , and a few reflections of the waning evening in pools of water here and there. This was what my mind was trained to expect while flying down from the skies into the Raleigh - Durham International airport, or RDU. The airport is small, the parking is cheap and the roads are friendlier - and without any tolls.
This was my first time flying after moving into the Boston area. For 3 and a half days car parking, I paid $84 - and my home was another 45 minutes drive away.

But it sure felt much better as soon as I told my GPS to take me home!

The woods were lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bobby (Piyush) Jindal, Governor, Louisiana (2007 - ? )

Yes - that's right, Piyush Jindal was elected governor of one of the most backward/poor/conservative states in the USA (trust me - I have lived in Louisiana). He is merely 36 year old, married to Supriya and has 3 kids. He can trace his ancestry to Punjab, India.

Maybe, the US is ready for an African American or a woman president. I would prefer the former. What do you think?

Monday, October 22, 2007

"it is not the end of life"

After declaring that the nuclear deal is needed for the forward movement of India and calling those opposing the deal “enemies of development and peace”, the government in India became just that - enemies of development and peace.

Clearly, the lure of power had won over the need to pursue the deal which, according to the PM and Madame Gandhi, was in the national interest.

The prime minister even went ahead and uttered these unfortunate words:
"I do attach importance to seeing this deal through, but if the deal is not through, it is not the end of life"

Sure, it is not the end of life. Life would also not end if you, Mr. PM would have stood by your words and resigned in protest. Life would not have ended if you had not been attracted to the lure of power. Life would definitely not end if you stopped licking Madame's shoes and adhered to some principles and had the good of India on your mind. Shame on you Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Communist Karat and all those who are not a part of the solution. They can only stand in the way of any solution.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The War

No not the one in Iraq - the one on PBS, describing the World at War (1941 - 1945). It's an interesting recount of the times from the perspective of 4 regular towns in the USA and their people. It's a history lesson, a reminder of what people are capable of doing - both good and bad - and what price everybody paid - in every corner of the world. The documentary, of course, focused on the war on the ground in Europe and North Africa and Philippines and the other islands in the Pacific ocean, it mentions little about all the British Colonies that were a part of the war in one way or the other - and for obvious reasons.
While I was watching it, I couldn't help but wonder the sentiments of people in India during the war, which side were they really on, being occupied themselves by the British and were they looking forward to the Japanese advances from the east? One person who tried to use the war to India's advantage was Subhash Chandra Bose. I also remember vividly my father talking, somewhat highly about general Rommel and the Kamikaze pilots. Of course, Churchill and his caustic tongue was of no comfort to India ('I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion' and 'India will fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages' if the British left India).

Our early knowledge about the war as children came from Reader's Digest books, one of them, World at War, in Pictures (or something like that). It had vivid photographs of the Pearl Harbor attacks, the death march, etc. This little knowledge was way more than others of my age.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sunset from Cadillac Mountain, Maine

6:18:42 PM

6:21:11 PM

6:24:16 PM

Photos taken on Sept 30, 2007.

Friday, September 28, 2007

New England Patriots Vs Buffalo Bills - my epinion.

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
When: Sunday, Sept 23rd, 2007, 1:00 PM.
What: NFL Preliminary Round.
Why: Why Not?

The Gillette Stadium

It was a beautiful day for the game. We wanted to get there early as we had little knowledge and information about how to get to the stadium, where to park and even if we would be allowed a camera. A week or two earlier, there had been an instance of video taping the opposition coach at the instance of Patriot's coach Belichick (which is illegal in NFL) - so we weren't sure.

Another reason to get there earlier was to make it in time to the Tailgate party we were invited to go as well. That started 10:30 AM. Yes - you got that right - Invited. Lets not get into the how and why of that.

Anyway - we got in the vicinity of the stadium at about 11:00AM. We knew that parking our vehicle around the stadium would be costly ($40.00 for 3-4 hours!). We started looking for private lots that were about half a mile away from the stadium - and hence slightly more reasonable. Another reason to park as far away from the stadium is that it would almost always be easier to get out of the area when the game ends. We got the first parking available for $25.00. It was offered by local businesses that operate from around the stadium there.

After walking to the stadium in perfect weather, we looked for the Dana-Farber house. This is where our cocktail and lunch (IOW, the 'Tailgate Party') was being served. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food and the drinks available at the party.

There were thousands of car in the parking lot enjoying the real tailgate party. Bar-B-Que, grills, radios, TVs (some portable, some not), footballs and of course, beer - it was some atmosphere.

Promptly at 1:00PM, the game started with the National Anthem. Right after the anthem got over, 2 F-16s flew over the entire stadium filling the stadium with a deafening sound.

The game itself was not a nail-biter.. the results were almost expected - a TV commenter had said previously that he was not sure why the Bills came to Patriots territory - to see the fall colors - but it was too early for that.

During half time, I ventured to the rest room. To my surprise, they were pretty clean and tidy - despite thousands in attendance. The food was the same expected stuff.. HotDogs, Pizza, Popcorn, there was even a McDonald's - but don't expect to pay less than 2-3 times for anything. Bad luck if you want a bottle of water while in the stadium. A half liter (or was it less?) left you with $6 less in your pocket. You might as well have a Bud for $7.50!

We tried beating the crowd out of a full house of a stadium - in case you are not aware, the stadium can handle a crowd of almost 65,000 people. We got out of our box 5 min into the last quarter. Unfortunately - we had parked at the other end of the stadium - so we had to walk a good 2-3 miles just to get to the right exit - yes the stadium is that big.

And we were allowed to take the camera - in actuality, we never asked and just walked in with it. They frisked everyone before you can enter the humongous structure.

Overall - it was a fabulous experience - even if you had taken the cheerleaders out of the equation.
Of course, the Patriots wiped out the Buffalo Bills 37-8.

Here is the slideshow of some of the photos..

Monday, September 24, 2007

India - Twenty20 World Cup Winners!

I must admit, I was unaware of the fact there was even a Cricket world cup going on up until the game in which India played Pakistan in the preliminary round. Twenty20 was not a big thing in India. I was even surprised to hear that in South Africa, the first twenty20 game was played almost 6-7 years ago!

Anyway - I did not realize that was this a big deal till the semifinals.. I know I know - I am slow - but I am slow.

Twenty20 or fifty50 - who cares - as long as India keeps beating Pakistan in the game, specially if its a world cup. I have started to believe that win or lose anywhere else, come World Cup time - India is ALWAYS going to spank Pakistan any place, any time. It's the power of belief, the confidence of winning, the taste of victory, call what you may.

Any win over Pakistan is sweet - but all the more sweeter if it some sort of a World Cup game.

It will be interesting to observe how the shorter game (twenty20) will impact the 50-50 overs a side, commonly known as the One Day International version of the game. Suddenly, waiting for a result for 8-9 hours sound like an insanity.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New York Times ends TimesSelect

Good News New York Times readers. Since they started this TimesSelect, I have stopped reading Friedman and Dowd. I could have scoured the net looking for blogs that cut and paste from NYT, but that just became a wee bit more painful each time I had to do it. Anyway - from Sept 19th, they are getting rid of this bad experiment. Bye Bye

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bring Back the Prince

Neither Tendulkar wants his batting to suffer because of being the Captain, nor Dravid, that leaves with only one person in the national Indian Cricket team who doesn't mind that his batting suffers while he is the Captain - yes you've guessed it - Sourav Ganguly. BRING HIM BACK.
Under his captaincy, India went all the way to the finals of the world cup in 2003. The Australian team had a real problem at hand while he was the Captain - there was somebody out there who could speak and understand their language.
In today's tough times - we need and deserve a captain with a 'thumb on your nose' attitude who knows how to keep a team together. Who cares if his batting average falls from the 50s to the 20s...or even lower (??)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Roger Federer gets 2.2 million for 2 weeks of .. play.

2.2 Million USD!! That's just insane. Oh and yes, the latest and greatest Lexus as a bonus.

I know he deserves a lot - but I doubt he ever thought that he will have to worry about where to put this loose change.

Just goes to prove that there is enough and more for people who like what they are doing and who do it well.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Niagara Falls..

At last - we have seen the falls.
For decades, it has been the foremost thing to see and admire - at least for people from India! Yes - I want to single them out here. It almost felt like we were in India to see a natural wonder in an Indian city. The buses were 90% occupied by Indians, the Niagara Falls National Park was almost all Indian. I guess the Niagara Falls is like the Taj Mahal in India. You just gotta see it!! Anyway - it took me 8 years to check it out - and I am glad I did it.

We took a great boat ride all the way to the foot of the falls.. and the falls looked absolutely gorgeous in the night!

Here are some more photos..

As my sister points out - there is some mention of Canada in all (or most) of my photos and she wondered if the grass was greener on the other side.. well .. if you are talking about Niagara, the grass is most definitely greener on the other (Canadian) side! We did not venture on that side of the world as there would have been immigration consequences - but do intend to check out the view from Canada one day.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Communists in India see RED

When Prakash Karat wakes up every morning, his main agenda for the day is simple, focused and straightforward: How to create road blocks and throw spanners in the juggernaut of Indian democracy. It's because of people like him and the politics he represent, India is lamenting the fact that she is a democracy where EVERY ONE has a voice - no matter if it is one that is shouting to cut Mother India's arm and legs and then sell the torso in the fish market.
Communism has a wierd history in India. They are broadly divided in 2 catagories - ones that are mainstream and participate in electoral politics and ones that are involved in armed uprising and are deemed terrorists in India. This writup deals with the ones the citizens of India elect as their leaders and representatives. We will leave the other kind to be dealt with appropriately by the Indian law and order machinery.

As you can see in this figure, the communists are kingmakers in the Indian parliament. The communists have an idealist agenda and are increasingly isolated in a forward looking India. Dare I say, that sometimes they come out as even more communists than the ones found in China and the USSR. Even China has learnt to change their idealogy to adapt to a changing world environment.
A curious fact about this is that India is the only country that ELECTS communists to the parliament in a free and fare elections. So whatever I say here, some would say that we deserve it.

The communists claim that they have the best of India at heart and they lookout for anything that could be detrimental to India's national security and so on and so forth. A deeper look into their dealings give a different picture. A revealing article here details how the fathers of Indian communism movement used to take orders from their masters in China and the earstwhile USSR. In fact, it hasn't been even a few months when the Indian communist leaders could not decide how to respond to China's claim over Arunachal Pradesh. Of course, the communists still don't condemn the 1962 Chinese aggression over India*.

Now to this nuclear deal with the US. Of course, the communists will use whatever they have in their arsenal to shoot this bird down. After all, capitalist US is an anathema to the communists. A joint partnership with the US will mean the death knell for the only elected communists in the world.
As Times (UK) points out "Who would have thought, in a deal that gives India too much while asking for too few safeguards in return, that the greatest opposition would come from within India itself?"

With Friends Like You, Who Needs Enemies?

*Want to read more about the various stances the communists of India have taken over the years, read here.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Down Memory Lane

Feb 05, 1999

Its summer, and to avid followers of Cricket, that only means England Vs somebody at the Lords. Playing cricket at Lords, the Mecca of cricket, is like spending a moonlit night with your lover on the lawns of the Taj Mahal. For those who cannot play, but simply witness the game is like watching the movie 'Taj Mahal'. For those who cannot see the game but know that there is a game going on at Lords, its like knowing that the Taj exists.

Anyway - that somebody, these days is India. So you see - a half a billion people have their eyes pinned on Lords.

But this photo has nothing to do with Lords. This is a photo taken at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Feb 05, 1999. SCG can be called the Lords of Australia (with permission from MCG fans). Australia was playing England in a day/night encounter - and I happened to see that game, with Brad and one of his friends. The finals of the triangular tourney was a don deal by the time this preliminary game was to be played - but hey - we didn't know that when we bought the tickets and neither did the other 30,000 odd people who came to see the game. It almost felt like there was only about a 30% interest in the game itself - the other 70% was distributed like this: 40% beer, 10% Mexican waves, and the rest in shouting Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. It was a great day - overall. Sri lanka was the other team in the competition - and so people safely assumed that I was from Sri Lanka. So that added to a lot of fun and taunting.

It was one of those days that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Oh - and thanks Brad for the photos and the great time.
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Saturday, July 21, 2007

India elects a new President

It can be safely said now - that no matter how currupt you are, no matter if skeletons keep popping out of your closets, you can even become the president of the largest democracy on earth if you can pull the right strings and know the right people.

If this is not a sham - I dont know what is. Had there been a popular vote, Dr. Abdul Kalam would have won hands down - but that's not how the president of India is elected. S/he is elected by the elected member of parliament (both state and federal). In these times when most governments in India are coalition with plenty of give and take and grand bargains, the role of the president becomes important as s/he is the person inviting head of various parties to form the government. In that case, it would have been imprudent to keep Dr. Kalam, a rocket scientist and a well reputed man, but favored by the opposition in today's government.

So in comes Mrs Pratibha Patil. Her only qualification - she has been a loyal poodle to the Congress party - the party in power, for well over 40 years. (In hindi we would call her a chamcha - चमचा ) . She has a number of corruption and even criminal cases against her - but who gives a damn about that in India.

The only bright spot - she is a woman - well - that's great PR all over the world. How many women presidents are there in the world?
Now the USA should follow what India has achieved - if you ask me though, that's highly unlikely. I would not put my money on that bet.
Read more: BBC Link

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Parents spend time with us

My Parents were in town for a little more than 2 weeks. While it was a short trip, we had a great time together. Old times, old tales, talk of family and friends, wine and Jim Beam were on tap. We visited Boston a couple of times and a last minute white mountain trip as well. Both my parents were keen on seeing Harvard and MIT (Its a desi thing - as a friend points out).

While they were here - there was plenty of drama on the immigration front. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) rose from the dead - and died again. The department of state (DOS) and the US Custom and Immigration Services (USCIS) joked with thousands if not millions of legal residents in this country. A comprhensive series on the events in cronological order can be read at my brother's blog (1, 2 and 3). After the drama, the words 'current' and 'retrogressed' have taken on a whole new meaning for me. Acronyms like PD, AOS, ROW, EB, GC, RFE, VB, AP, EAD etc have become like living objects controlling the lives and livlihoods of millions of people. Still oblivious of those shortforms? Good for you. May you never have the need to know anything about them.

Here are some photos from my parent's visit.



Saturday, June 09, 2007

Only in India

Would a bunch of people ask to be relegated in the social ladder (Read background here or here) (I promise I did not read the article before writing this :-) ). This is a sure sign that the 'Reservation or Quota' system, the equivalent to a government imposed, regulated and enforced affirmative action system is *NOT* working in India.

Here is one of the MAIN problem with the quota system that India currently has:
When the reservations were made, there was never a clause that discussed how and when these quotas would be rolled back in the future - once they achieved what they were expected to achieve. With an open ended legislation, motivated by the politics of vote, the regression of the Indian masses was bound to happen. Even water flows through the easiest path.

Without a system that was based on the economic (and other) condition of a person, the system was based on a class system, a caste system. A system that we are suppose to root out. But instead, with the sole motivation of gaining votes of a certain section of the society, the wheels of democracy has once again taken India backwards.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Delhi Metro

For a looong time, I wanted to write a bit about this phenomena - bringing about a change in the whole environment of Delhi.

With the Commonwealth Games in 2010 a very real deadline, the Delhi Metro has been moving at a steady pace to bring about a real change in the mentality of Delhiites and the whole of India.

Recently I have been reading about the metro for its energy savings, economic savings and last but not the least, saving human lives.

(click on the maps for larger images)

Till date, it has saved 33,000 tonnes of fuel, 280 lives - er - human lives, about Rs. 400 cr when combined. In addition, it has prevented about 2,276 tonnes of poisonous gases from being released in the environment (as a result of less vehicles on the road, a total of 17,00,000 vehicle kms). The summary can also be read here or here.

Other facts (as of June 2007):
Total number of trains - 64
Total Kms of track - 65
daily number of commuters - 5,50,000
Number of stations - 59

For more information - go here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pirating away.. A review of sorts..

Watched Pirates of the Caribbean, at world's end. You know that a movie is low on juice when you depend on the pop corn to provide some flavor. It was 168 minutes long and our mutual assessment concluded that they could have used the scissors to chop about 15-20 minutes of .. the nothingness the movie possessed.

We even saw the second Pirates movie just to make sure we are not completely lost in the plot. Turns out no matter what you did, you would have been lost.

Excepting the last war scene, and the look on Cutler Beckett's face, and a few other scenes - such as the one with the black pearl moving on sand by riding on the crabs and the black pearl entering the icy arctic ocean (or something similar) and a few others, most of the movie was at best average.

Most funny: Capt. Sparrow - Nobody move, I've dropped my brain.

Bottom line: Put in more Sparrow, on Rum.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, May 05, 2007

4 Reasons why the Market is doing so well and the Economy is Not

The Dow is well into the 13,000s, the S&P is also in uncharted territory. On the other hand, the housing market is in its own uncharted territory with foreclosures at an all time high, number of payroll jobs added in April well below past numbers and the rate of growth, overall, of the US economy at mere 1.5 % for the first quarter of 07. So what could some of the reasons be why the market is doing so well...

a) With the housing market not very attractive for investors, people are investing more in the stoch market. Hence more money in the stock market, more demand, higher the price of the stocks.

b) The multinationals are doing very well in other countries such as China and India. They are shielded from how the US economy fares, hence a downturn in the US economy does not affect the bottom line of these companies - thus the stock prices remain steady.

c) Stock buybacks from big companies as they have large stockpiles of cash. This allows their stock to go north. The execs at these companies benefit from a higher stock whereas the economy as a whole suffers as that money is not spent in R&D, thereby not allowing for the 'next big thing' to drive the economy.

d) Stock predict the future. It might very well be that the economy numbers are an indicator of the past, like driving forward by keeping your eyes on the rear view mirror, as NPR's Marketplace host puts it, while the stock numbers are indications that the economy is on its way up by the end of the year. It might very well be that the feds lower the interest rates as a result of the week economy (as evident by the numbers), thus boosting the housing market and providing a shot in the arm for the economy as a whole.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

News and Observer profiles "Indian" Ferry Road

Josh Shaffer at News and Observer writes about Indians at North Carolina State University pursuing graduate education.
"Indian students know about Avent Ferry even before they leave India, and they rank apartment complexes in order of preference: Champion Court, Avery Close, Colonial Arms" he writes. The fourth option is Kensington Apartments. Fourth because it is not exactly walking distance from the Centenial Campus (the newly built campus housing HiTech companies (Red Hat world headquaters are right here, as well as a division of Analog Electronics, Erricson, ABB etc), as well as the ECE and CSC departments, a fabrication faculty a beautiful lake, condos etc.

The full story is available here or here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

AKV Skiing

My sister and her kids came up to NH and we drove up to Maine to ski. It was my second time skiing - but I must say - it wasnt toooo bad. The kids, Dhruv (his second time skiing too), and Tanya, (her first time) were amaizing. They took to snow as a fish takes to water. Shruti and Mini - hmm - the least said about them the better.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Last 3 months

Ahhh - last 3 months. Lets see what passed by me - and what I passed by in these days. Iraq violence, Virginia Tech shootings, Richard Gere kissing, Sanjaya singing, AKV Skiing, The Cricket World Cup ... monkying.

On a serious note, whatever happened at Virginia Tech was no less than a natural tragedy. It has happened before, it happened on Monday, April 16th, and it will happen again. It is beyond anybody's control to know what will make a person flip and commit horrendous acts. What we CAN TRY TO DO is to make it next to impossible for that person to maximise the damage. There are a number of things that could have been done on that fateful day to prevent a disaster of this magnitude. I am obviously thinking GUN CONTROL laws. Time and space limits me from laying out my mind here - but common sense says ->
less (or better still no) guns on the street + better policing = less crime in the hood.
The tragedy was a shocker to me - I was no less shocked when students went on TV to say that if they were allowed guns on the campus, they would have controlled the lunatic with the guns. That's just the most ludicrous argument I have ever heard. Instead of 32 people dying in 1 day - we would have had 1 or 2 tying every other day.

Peace is not that hard a thing to think about.
Peace is not hard a thing to achieve.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Back Again

Its snowing here in New Hampshire! After a day of 20 below freezing temperature and nice sunshine - it is snowing and I am sitting in my bed watching the flurries (a few heavy ones are actually falling vertically - the rest are just flowing with the wind) falling from the heavens.

So we are in New Hampshire. Never in my life I would have dreamt that I would have my home address ending with 'NH'.

My defense went off well and after minor corrections and slight heartburn and frustrations - I got the go ahead from all relevant authorities to start driving north.

After a few days in the hotel and searching for an apartment - we found one (a pretty huge apt complex at that) in Nashua, NH. About a 5 minute ride to the MA border and about 15 minutes from work.

It is pretty beautiful here - even with the frigid winters at full blast to welcome us. All small ponds and lakes and marshes have frozen giving an eerie look at dawn and dusk - but nonetheless - beautiful and quiet. The shopping district is 5 minutes from the apartment - but our unit is located in a quiet corner with a vague view of the mountains.