Monday, August 29, 2005

A tennis ball

I'll hate to break the unofficial rule that I have been attempting to observe throughout the blog. I had declared a moratorium on posting personal matters on the blog: no point in putting the readers to sleep, I said. After all, this blog isn't intended as a substitute for valium. But you will understand that the current circumstances are indeed extenuating: I've got a couple of hours to kill right now - and If I don't keep myself occupied by blogging, the ennui would force me to commit suicide. (More fodder for an insurance related comment?)

I don't know if you've seen a tennis match. It's a match in which two well built people keep smashing a yellow ball at each other using netted sticks (like the ones we see people swat flies with). I always wondered what the ball felt like. I mean - hit here, hit there - surely can't be too good for the morale of the ball. But I believe that I am beginning to appreciate the sentiments of the ball - and I am beginning to empathize with it - the way my course and my assignments are being swapped around.

You see, personally, I am stuck in a rather ridiculous quagmire. But I'm not worried. I know the ending is happy. I was supposed to work as a lab instructor here. And, (I can see Peter smiling somewhere), the department overlooked the fact that people had a Fluid Mechanics course coincident on the same time slot. So, they moved the Fluid Mechanics class so that it coincided with my lab. Since I do not have some of the more desirable qualities that people associate Scrodinger's feline with - I was withdrawn as a TA from the lab. So, here I am - stuck literally - with no lab to go to. The professor who was supposed to assign me to someone. He said I'd grade. Ah, well. Less work - more time for courses. Can't be all that bad.

So, the upshot of the whole thing is that I have in excess of an hour to kill and I am running low on inspiration on how to. I reckoned I'd spend the time on blogging - but I type way too fast. I killed just ten minutes. Ideas to kill time would be appreciated: Ideas, anyone? (Now, I don't want any insurance related comments, mind you.)

So, in conclusion, you know I'm a tennis ball right now. Neither here not there. I'll tell you one person who'll agree whole heartedly. Dad. He was always quite emphatic that I was getting rotund (FAT) to the extent of getting spherical. Well, I am a sphere now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

On cooking for oneself

Good morining. This will be a quick course on how to cook for yourselves without getting that strong urge to commit suicide that most male self-sufficient people are accustomed to. It's not as difficult to do as it sounds; but just to be on the safe side, discard your knives and ensure that ceiling fans which are convenient to hang yourself from are removed from your house.
Now that you have discarded you knives, you would think that the choice of vegetables that you can consume has drastically gone down. Not really! A simple procedure is outlined here: follow it and you won't regret it!
BITE THE RAW VEGETABLES! Bite them and spit them into the container! That's as good as cutting them - and you don't risk the tetanus from a rusted knife! You might experience some issues in biting some more exotic vegetables which are harder: and meat. But the only solution is to drink more milk. Milk has calcium and is good for the teeth.
Cleaning dishes is a pain. So, we'll make it a lot easier for the person who does the washing! We'll put the detergent in the food. What we cook will suck anyway, so the average person will be unable to make out the difference! So, take some vim or whatever it is that you use to clean the plates and put them in the food. You could fry it in oil if you want or just season your food with it. A welcome benifit, of course, is that it helps keep your stomach clean too! Plus, after eating think you won't want to commit suicide - you'll probably be dead already.
Here's a recipie that you might be interested in. Take some bread - put it in the blender - take some raw carrots and some honey - take some indian spices - put them in the blender too - what the hell - take some olive oil while you're at it. Now, I give you the opportunity to choose any food item - that goes in the blender too - then heat the blender in the oven. Pray that it does not melt - and then run it.
Try eating the cockaroaches in your bathroom. It gets your food bill down - and it sure as hell reduces the cost of exterminating the damn things. They can either be boiled and eaten - or just crunched. It depends. If you like potato chips, you'll like the latter. If you like french fries, you'll like the former. People accustomed to eating mangoes - like those in India can scoop the insides of the roach - leaving only the exoskeleton. The latter can be pickled. Ants can be made a meal of too.
Just remember, you don't have to eat this. There's the other option to. In other words, do or die.

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Post from the Western Hemisphere

There's three kinds of people that others make fun of. Blondes, Sardars and Aggies. When I was born, I checked the color of my hair. I wasn't blond. I checked to see whether my dad wore a turban. I wasn't a Sardar. Just when I thought I'd never really be made fun of, I found myself in Texas A&M university, pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. I'm an aggie now. So, if you catch me looking at orange juice, it's only because it says 'concentrate' on it.
I'm in the heart of Aggieland right now: and it is impressive. My life has been some sort of gradient since sixth grade: I went to something only optimists would call a school; then to a hut they called 'junior college'. And then I went t0 IIT Madras - a place which is as impressive as they come in India. IIT Madras is awesome in its own right - and I fell in love with the library there. And now, in Texas A&M, things are just double the size of what they were in IIT! The library is MASSIVE, to say the least. And if I am not wrong, I'll probably find some playboys stacked under the 'culture' section somewhere.
One thing that struck me as mighty impressive about the USA, is how polite everyone is. Everybody, from the customs officials to the librarians have been nothing by polite and helpful. It's amazing what a good salary can do to people! Everyone's friendly here: howdys are interchanged almost all the time - especially in the university.
As of now, I'm on foot and that's a negative. Distances here are large. Period. If I need to get to class from my room, I'll need to walk for half an hour. Cycles have to be procured. And procured ASAP. Riding a bike to a grocery store will still be an issue: some sort of parasitic existence will have to be envisaged. I could piggyback on my aunt!
That's a posting about life here in College station. An impressive place. I have no Idea why they make fun of us Aggies. Maybe I'll wait and find out.

Friday, August 05, 2005


I'm off to Texas A&M university on a fellowship to the department of Mechanical Engineering next week. Here's what I am thinking right now. It's getting too much to handle.

I had always looked down upon those who leave India in search of greener pastures abroad. I had always held that their attitude was mercenary; and it was just the lust for wealth and the good life that led them abroad. It is therefore very ironic that I shall be flying into the US of A for a very selfish reason - personal gratification. I tell myself that it is the research I crave; I tell myself there are no comparable facilities in India. I tell myself that there is no other option for me but to board that Airbus and be off to come back (for good) only after a few years have gone by.

But it does me great shame to glance out my window; I see the poor beside the street battle the incessant downpours that Maharashtra has to offer; I see a country languishing in filth, poverty and degradation. A country that needs all the brains that it can get; a country that can ill-afford to educate people like yours truly to ditch it in its hours of need. But yet I choose the Airbus. It is a feeling of deep rooted guilt in my heart: a feeling that I have done the Indian taxpayers a big wrong. I feel a pang of guilt whenever I look at a poor man in India. A sense of shame. I have failed them. And there is NOTHING I can do about it.

I tell myself that India will take time, but it will surely get there. I tell myself, the forces of capiatlism will convert India into a large wealth generator. I tell myself India has a future. I tell myself that I'll be back - to work in India, for India as a professional. I tell myself that India is surely the land of opportunity; it shall be a rational economic choice to come back to India for anyone in a few years. I love India after all. Another bonus, of course, is that I will be close to my parents.

But it's a little more than emotion to that right now. The best job I can get with all the coaching that IIT has given me right now is with GE. GE does not solve any of India's problems. It just solves outsourced problems. Just a glorified call center. I could get into MNCs with their operations in India such as KPMG (I had an offer from them); but that's not my core competence. I am a Mechanical Engineer who has done work in Heat and Fluids. Where can I use that knowledge? Defence is out; I am a pacifist. I convince myself sordidly; the only way out is to go out.

Five years ago, I vowed never to leave India. I vowed to stay; brave the conditions and still emerge successful. I have failed myself. Will I fail myself again? If I do so, I'll lose all faith in myself. And I also know that if I fail myself later, I'll have a good reason for it. They all do.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Indian Cricket: A new Business Model

We're a country of hundred crores. That's 1, followed by nine zeros. And we lose to countries such as Australia (2 crores), and Sri Lanka (also 2 crores). And we lose convincingly. That too, in a game which is some sort of religion in India.

Let's extrapolate this a bit. If each state in India had its own team, then they could, with ample coaching become world class teams. Don't ridicule this; Sri Lanka did it, with a population which is only a mere fraction of that of any large Indian state. Bihar, Maharashtra, U.P., Tamil Nadu; they all could have world class teams if they really tried.

But they won't try right now. Why? Though cricket is a passion in India, it is still not compact enough for a family to watch in the evening. A match takes a full day to happen. It has to be on a holiday. And even one day cricket - frankly speaking - is quite a drag for most of the time. Though it is exciting in bits, it is not watchable entirely, especially domestic cricket. So, a match between Mumbai and Delhi attracts a handful of spectators. Lesser people watch it on Television.

It is not as if people in India do not like entertainment. Our standard of living might be low but the Indian likes his or her leisure. Rajani's movies are sold out in the south; Hindi movies are a religion in the north and the west. Cinema halls are always house-full. It does not take an upper middle class lifestyle to enjoy. The man on the street likes, nay, is passionate about, his entertainment. Surely, he can digest more cricket - even domestic cricket - if it were spiced up appropriately.

Suppose a cricket match lasted only three hours - the size of an average movie - or that of an American Baseball game. Suppose there was a lot of hitting .... lots of FAST bowling ... lots of excellent television coverage. Suppose Twenty20 cricket were played between states (and cities) in India. It would no more be the colossal bore that Ranji Trophy matches are. People would pour in to watch in the thousands. There could be a match every weekend in every town - there could be a national tournament. With people interested, advertising revenues would start picking up. Television rights would start fetching money.

Indian cricket would get a shot in the arm. More money would flow into rural India: into smaller towns. Talent would start showing from the villages: before you know it, India would have a dozen of Sachin Tendulkars.

India winning the world cup (perhaps still in the 50 over form)would be as simple as the American basketball 'Dream Team' winning the world series. India would probably continue to dominate the world scene - facing competition only from populous nations such as Pakistan. Perhaps cricket could become truly international: maybe USA and China. Once the game becomes more interesting, why not?