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Thursday, September 30, 2004

ABCD vs FOB
Aha! A topic I have been thinking on for quite some time but somehow people decide not to talk abt it out here. Is it very difficult to accept (at least in San Diego) that the ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis aka second generation Indians) and FOBs (Fresh Off the Boat aka grad students and techies) don't exactly socially interact with each other? Before I proceed any further I have to accept that both ABCD and FOB are derogatory terms but who said I am trying to be prim :)

Well, the whole thing started when Saket and I informed a new grad student that his dream of gelling with the ABCD crowd is not gonna happen in San Diego. I've had discussions on this with lotsa people and apparently there are two divisions - small university towns where most people know each other and this social bifurcation doesn't exist and places like San Diego where there are enough ABCDs to not make them require the company of fellow brown skinned FOBs. Come on let's face it - if you could choose from dusky husky nose-ringed girl (aka std ABCD) or "specsy" somber lap-topped guy (aka me) isn't the choice of social preference a no brainer :) However, strangely in UCSD, most ABCDs hang out with other fellow ABCDs - still falling prey to a myopic tendency of community building - something I feel other Americans are largely free of. I've been told that even out here people try to get their children married to other second generation Indian children of their own community when neither speaks the language etc etc. Anyway I am digressing - I am here to talk abt the fact that out here in San Diego the interaction between an ABCD and a FOB is limited to:

ABCD: Are you from India?
FOB: Yes
ABCD: Oh I went to India when I was three.
FOB: Yes I was there then.

We even have two different Indian Associations for the two groups - I still have friends who don't accept that the first and second generation Indians don't exactly mingle - but then they are the same friends, who always hang out with me - pretty much proving the point.

A final mention on this topic has to be about my good friend Saket (already mentioned in the begining). The guy is an Indian who was raised neither in India nor the US and came here for his undergrads - so neither do the ABCD's welcome him, and most FOBs think he is alien too - poor chap - nothing is as interesting as getting him drunk and hearing him narrate his plight :)

P.S. People reading this blog from other places in US - would love to know if things are any diff in your places.

Quick points
  • Based on the suggestion of a few people I have made it possible now to post comments on this blog (this facility was withheld largely to avoid Mr. Dam from creating havoc). So feel free to express your views and share your money with me.

  • I was done with coursework more than a year ago but have been taking some classes for fun. However the fun is being challenged this quarter with one of those classes being at 8 in the morning, for which I have to take the 7.30 University shuttle for which I have to go for a shower by 7 for which I have to wake up at 6.30 - all this for a person who normally sleeps at 2-2.30 in the morning - do I even have to say that I am sleepy?

  • My darling sis has taken great offense to the fact that I haven't mentioned her in this blog for eons and has threatened me with cheap defamatory techniques - so here it goes - Pummy, Pummy, Pummy, Pummy, Pummy ... :)

  • More after my 8 o clock class :)

    Wednesday, September 29, 2004

    No Modi No
    I have a bad habit of strongly defending people I really like - even though often times they aren't aware of (a) the whole situation or (b) me itself (as in this entry's case). My good friend Avinash Modi has said some fairly harsh things about Conan O'Brien in his blog. However, for a person who watches a lot of Late Night television, I personally love Conan. I am aware that the opinion on Conan is highly polarized (people either love him or hate him) but what impresses me most about the guy is that he rises much above the material he works with. I like Leno too, but seldom do you see Leno generating laughs from a bad joke - that's where Conan scores - his highly self derogatory humor often makes jokes out of sheer nothings. Moreover, he has risen from the ranks of the underdog (the show was once given a week to week contract and even called off for a night) and that is truly commendable. I agree that Conan uses physical humor but that doesn't make things any less funny in his show. Slapstick and screwball comedy are perfectly fine genres of humor according to me - if done well - which is the reason I feel Dumb and Dumber is as much a comic classic as Tootsie. Finally, Conan's other credits include serving as writers of the Simpson's and SNL - I feel the guy is awesomely talented and the rightful heir (?) to Leno's slot.

    P.S. Modi I feel that they will gives Conan's slot to Carson Daly but then the q will be who will take Carson's slot :))

    Win-dictive
    Well, Ronny Dam and I have been having an ongoing battle of sorts. He started the whole thing by scandalizing my Nedstat counter with obscene search queries and to top it all, he keeps adding a new entry every day. All these queries effectively involve me romantically (?) with Parnab Mukherjee and the surprising thing is that there are other people who have started making similar queries - hmm! So this morning I created a new email account with Mr. Dam's name (the id is believable enough to pass on as his) and then sent out a mail to all our common friends informing them about the change in his email id. The mail also talks about Damu's marriage plans this December. The thing worked because people mailed back asking for details of the marriage. On the other hand - the account has already started receiving junk fwds - a thing Ranajit Dam is famous for. The whole incident just shows that both Dam and I have too much time to spend on amusements like this (that’s not necessarily a bad thing). However, one thing’s certain - this battle has just begun.

    Another business anecdote ...
    Well, I just remembered another cool anecdote from my Venture Mechanics class - and I guarantee that I shall not rave abt the class for a while after this. Here it goes:

    Two friends A ad B are lost in the jungle and are sitting in their open jeep when they see a cheetah approaching them. A quickly reaches for the compartment and takes out his running shoes. B gives A a surprised look and says - "Do you seriously think you can outrun the cheetah?" to which A says "Nope, I just have to outrun you".

    Moral of the story: It doesn't matter how good you are as long as you are better than the immediate competitor :) I don't care if this is profound - I found it funny for sure.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2004

    Blogs I read
    Well, blogs are fast becoming almost a separate news/views medium. So here are some blogs that I read regularly:

    1. Ronny Dam's blog: coz the guy has an amazingly twisted sense of humor and, if rumors are to be believed, is a trained journalist. So I expect some good value for money :) However, for purely personal reasons, I am irked by the fact that he hasn't made his stats counter public.

    2. The search for Buchu: This one comes from another fellow Kolkattan, Antara. This blog has a very diary-ish feel and what I like abt it is that it reminds me of (a) Harry Potter and (b) Sukumar Ray coz it has all these recurring references of ppl and places which you haven't seen but soon know enough to follow the entries. Oh! and I have to mention that this is the blog that brought back memories of Parnab!

    3. The Unknown: This is the only blog that I read where I have no clue who the blogger is. Ironically, the name of the blog is "absolutely anonymous". Somehow this blog reminds me of my own blog and well - blah blah blah - I just like reading it.

    4. Finally, there are some blogs which are written by friends but they aren't regular bloggers - so I read them once every 2-3 days. These include Modi's blog (who is now officially smitten by the Apprentice) and Vikram's blog (this guy is a published author - so I think of his blog as free literature :) ). Moi is also looking fwd to reading Chitra's newly started blog, coz the woman has an endearing crankyness that I just love. So Chits, make sure you blog more.

    Enuff blogged - that too on blogs - reminds me of the Bard's line which I shall hereby distort - "enuff, no more - tis not so sweet now as it was before"

    Quick check
    Do you turn the tap clockwise or anti-clockwise to open it? Whoever asked me the question informed me that very few people manage to get the answer without mentally or physically doing it once, even though we have been doing it for ages. Interestingly, I tried it on at least 5 people and, true to the claim, none of them knew the answer up front :) Nice.

    Monday, September 27, 2004

    Droplets of wisdom
    Just came back from the first lecture of Venture Mechanics, where they are supposed to take us through the whole business process of engineering. I have to confess that this was by far the most interesting lecture I have attended in a while. The class lasted 3.5 hrs and not an ounce of boredom. To top it, the class had a strong dose of humor and that's such a welcome change. Shall leave you with three profound statements from the class:

  • If you go to one book and learn it precisely - you are most likely to fail.

  • Nobody loves the insecure over achievers.

  • In Math they want you to be precise; in engineering, almost precise; and in business you just have to be good enough.

  • Sex and democracy
    For a fairly apolitical person like me it is highly unlikely that I will blog on anything to do with politics but I shall make an exception with this post (I have no idea why I try to give reasons for many of my actions). Yanyways! The matter in question is this article I read in my college newspaper that mentions a non partisan effort aimed at increasing sex and democracy. The group urges the youth to have sex with a fellow voter and abstain from sex with a non-voter for the next four years. No views on this - no comments either. Just found it interesting and thought of putting it up :)

    Discrimination
    I am completely against the BCCI's new idea of categorizing cricketers in different groups and offering them different pay packages based on the classification. I always thought that sports was the one field where we were at least outwardly claiming that people just play for our country and not themselves. Obviously this policy doesn't support that notion. Can you imagine if A and B are running and A stands a chance of getting run out? Earlier B could have sacrificed his wicket for the team. Now B will have to quickly calculate in which group he is, in which group A is, whether he can oust A and get into a better group, whether he will make some extra dough in the process etc etc etc. I understand that the whole sponsorship process pretty much does the same thing but this comes from the very institution that is creating the team. The whole thing reminds me of a school I once visited where students were made to wear different uniforms based on their merit (?). To add to the woes I can't seem to figure out why Irfan Pathan was not included in the A league - this guy has been one of the best finds for the country and I doubt if this "scheme" will boost his morale. As Yoda would have said - "Stumped am I".

    Sunday, September 26, 2004

    Assisting the Apprentice
    Well, well! I am finally gonna blog on the Apprentice. Yes, yes! I know I am no authority on the show and have barely seen a few episodes of this cult reality series. However, what amused me most was Donald Trump's executive assistant Robin Himmler. I really wonder how she feels - her role in the series is limited to a 10 second appearance per episode where The Trump tells her "Robin, send them in" and she responds by sending the people into the board room. Do you think her friends sit around the TV to watch her - who knows? Did anybody following the series try finding out abt her? Hmmmmm! I just felt that in between all the high flying managers and executives somebody ought to mention this series regular as well. Well if you are interested in knowing just a little bit more abt her you can visit this site that I found on her.

    Why is it ...
    .. that I have no problems sleeping with loud music, blasting television and a gamut of voices disturbing me; BUT come morning and even the sound of my apartment mate's typing wakes me up? Am I more focused in the morning or is it just easier to disturb me then?

    Saturday, September 25, 2004

    Jackie in the Box
    I am currently watching Jackie Brown again, reaffirming my belief that Tarantino is a genius. Take this line from the movie :

    You can't trust Melanie but you can always trust Melanie to be Melanie.

    A Heroic Effort
    Since I missed my Friday night movie, I had to make it up today. After juggling between Hero and Forgotten I finally went for Hero. Let me summarize it this way - Hero is not one of the best movies in recent times but it is surely one of the most beautiful movies in recent times. The movie is a visual delight - be it the choice of landscapes, the color combination (it is nothing short of a marvel) or the CGI - the movie looks like it has been painted and not shot. The story reminded me of Travolta's Basic (which itself is inspired by Kurosawa's Rashomon) where the same segment of the story is witnessed several times from different perspectives. However, in the case of Hero, it wasn't just different perspectives but different visual feels as well. If you have to see a present day movie that showcases what the visual medium can achieve I'd say - don't miss this film. Heroic, truly heroic. No wonder Tarantino gave the movie his name.

    Friday Night boredom and a crude joke
    Had absolutely nothing to do last night. Was supposed to go for my quintessential Friday movie but the two prospective candidates, Forgotten and Hero, were both playing at hours that I wouldn't have been able to handle. The other movie that I wanted to catch, the Last Shot, has had a limited release so limited that it hasn't come to San Diego.

    So in order to combat boredom I decided to sit through an hour of Friday Night Stand Up on Comedy Central. It was quite amusing and I have to crack my fav joke:

    "The 69 position in sex is like going for dinner with your lover and deciding to go Dutch."

    And that joke alone will ensure that no dignified individual ever reads this blog again :( On the topic of dignified - I was standing in my balcony, overlooking the spa, and this Indian couple were making loud conversation in there. What was amusing to me was their attire - the guy wore a T shirt into the spa and the lady (?) wore a T shirt and pair of shorts - the couple had more clothes on them than the last 10 entrants of the spa. Hmmm!

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    Thoughts
    It's Friday night and I just came back from dinner alone; shall go for a movie alone and then proposition myself to go to bed with me. Here are some stray thoughts sauntering in my mind:

    A realization that evaded me for a year - it's better to be alone than in the company of hypocritical morons.

    The miss mis-used me!

    I am bitter now - but she aint sweet either.

    Strange
    I can never be friends with a person I once was in love with and I cannot be in love with a person I have never been friends with ... strange!

    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    /-0-0-\
    Well let me introduce a new phenomena - I shall call it being too "In'Spec'tful" (so much for darn nomenclature). Yanyway! The problem I am talking abt concerns people who wear glasses after wearing sunglasses in the past. Now I normally wear sunglasses during the day. Sunglasses normally give me a good shield with respect to where/who/what I am looking at. Be it fabulicious women or bickering couples you can afford to be temporarily voyeuristic without being caught staring. However, now that I wear glasses, I often get the false impression that I have my sunglasses on. So today I was gaping at a guy's fashion sense, only to have him gape back at me. Needless to say that the whole thing left me completely embarrassed. Look no further!

    Brevity ...
    ... is sweet.

    More on dreams
    Well, I discussed my question on dreams (just scroll down a bit and the post will be there) with Uma and I am still not very sure whether I'm covinced. Hmmm! Talking of dreams - Raghav had mentioned something which I found really funny. We were discussing strange dreams and I menioned that a friend of mine had once seen an episodic dream - where he resumed the dream from where he had left it the previous night. Raghav upped the stakes by telling me that he once saw a dream where the dream was abt "thirst" and the whole dream just made him thirsty. So he just woke up, had some water and continued with the dream :) Beat that!

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    Alone
    I feel completely alone. It never struck me that the word "alone" has "one" in it. How apt. Not just that - it almost sounds like "all" + "one". How true! I feel most lonely when I am surrounded by people but still have no one to share my thoughts with (like now) - that's when the bite of solitude seeps in. Hmmm! I think I am plain sleepy! Or maybe I am just alone :)

    I am ...
    ... this close to turning mad! Don't tempt me ...

    Nothing - just nothing
    In the recent past bloggers have got considerable fame and prominence by reporting from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Well today is my turn. Don't jump the guns. I am not well known or well read enuff to be given admission to any venue of importance to blog - however I am currently an idle volunteer in the ongoing IEEE Cluster 2004 Conference in San Diego (wow I can sense the excitement in the eyes of everyone reading :) ). So imagine this to be the highlight of this blog - blah! They have free breakfast (which I am not using) and free lunch (which I might use) and a free bag for all the people registered (I have way too many bags). Moreover, I got lost while trying to reach this place, was told that I am not needed once I arrived here (that's not too bad a thing) and have nothing to do right now. Boy! IS wireless access to the Internet a good thing? My only way to combat boredom now. Yanyway! This is your reporter Sagnik Nandy, signing off!

    Why dint they make these movies?
    1. You, Robot too.
    2. Stench of a Woman!
    3. Cacophony of the goats.
    4. When Harry missed Sally
    5. What's Gilbert Eating? Grape.
    6. Lock, stock and two smoking barrels, three pints of beer, one pocket knife, a dozen match sticks ...
    7. You've got SPAM.
    8. Profound Fiction

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    Ten Things that are annoying me right now ...
    1. The fact that I have so much to do and want to do so much but just don't do anything.

    2. India lost after putting on an "almost fight" in the ICC tournament.

    3. That I could not think of enuff material to finish the original intended post - "Ten things that I find funny !"

    4. My laptop doesn't have a Firwire port.

    5. My wireless card is behaving strangely on campus.

    6. I still haven't met the magical celebrity who'll allow me to make a movie for him/her.

    7. I still haven't watched Hero - na this one is actually not that annoying.

    7. The fact that I haven't watched Hero and am still not annoyed by it - am I losing my love for cinema? (Don't think that I am just using this to increase the number of points - this is still number 7).

    8. Any mention of Girija. (where the f**k is my dream woman? lady, neither do i see you in my dreams nor do you appear in reality - do you even exist?)

    9. That Nileen left Kol, Ronny Dam left Kol and that Abhik and I never cross paths in Kol.

    10. That inspite of me trying, Pummy is not gonna do the advertising course.

    P.S. Apparently Pummy's HOD (Head of the Dept) said - "I am telling you now and I had telled you before ..." - what? Exactly.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    I love Parnab !@!%
    Well Mr. Dam has done it! My wrath has been challenged and revenge shall be mine. Noticing my bitterness towards the highly discussed Parnab Mukherjee, he figured out that if he enters "sagnik love parnab mukherjee" in Google (without the quotes) then the only result will be this particular page. He even visited my blog using this search phrase - therefore making an entry of the search key in my Nedstat counter. To get back at Dam, I scanned through his blog to unearth scandalous phrases that ca be created from the material on his page and the best I could do was "cornflakes and toothpaste doesn't help in ek se badhkar ek sex competition". However, sadly Mr. Dam's page has not yet been updated in the Google servers - so even though all the words in the above key are there in his blog Google doesn't recognize it - but don't you worry Mr. Dam - revenge shall be mine. The search is on!

    Some sleep and a dream
    I finally managed to get some sleep in the night but the sleep was punctuated with several breaks - but the sum total was enuff to not make me as tired as I have been in the past few mornings. Let me not blabber too soon. Shall confirm this later in the day.

    Early in the morning I had a dream. The dream is not important but what is interesting is the questions it led to in my mind. The dream was basically a conversation between me and another man. However, what was really impressive is the way the other person spoke and the eye to detail in creating this character. If this was a play I would have really liked the direction. I don't know much about dreams but I can't stop to wonder if in multi character dreams I role-play for all the characters. Coz, to be very honest, I don't think if I were to actually write a play with this dream sequence I would have done even half as good a job. I can understand that in ambiance-centric dreams (say lost in a house) its just me and occasional other characters and my thoughts are probably the way I would have reacted to this situation but who controls every action and mannerism of a parallel character in a double hero project like this morning's dream. I am really curious and this is one issue where I have no idea to what the answer is - shall get in touch with my psychologist friend Uma Dam and blog back the findings. Till then (in true inspiring spirit) - dream on!

    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    Flavors
    Na! Three days and the jet lag is still getting the better of me. I guess I have to wait and ... wait :(

    Watched this India-American movie called Flavors. The movie received a fairly good critical consensus and though in the past I have been largely disappointed by Indo-American ventures (ABCD, American Desi etc.) I thought of giving this movie a try (that sounds borderline vain coz I am no one to give this movie a "try"). Yanyways! The movie was watchable. I liked the fact that they did not fall prey to the standard cliches of generation gap though the subject is touched upon aplenty. Instead, the movie uses almost all the stock characters we know of about Indians in the US (the laid off SW engineer, the Desi guy dating white girl, the culture shocked parents, the foul mouthed lungi clad desi, the doting South Indian damsel etc.). This collage of characters keeps the movie moving at a brisk pace, preventing it from touching monotony. Sadly, this also leads to the biggest drawback of the movie - lack of a single cohesive storyline. The movie soon looses its charm thanks to it’s over indulgence in the episodic narrative. However, I have to agree that the movie does have some really witty moments and sans the few moments of getting carried away the movie is quite watchable.

    The star cast was fairly impressive and I checked out the official web site of the movie. My personal favorite was this girl called Sireesha, who in spite of her background in this country, appears extremely convincing as the reticent South Indian house wife.

    Saturday, September 18, 2004

    What? ... what?
    I am so freakin tired right now - I did nothing today - the whole morning was spent in contemplating whether I should sleep off my jet lag or not and finally in the evening my body made the choice simpler by simply dozing off. Some doze it was! Woke up after 3 hours and now I feel completely dazed. I dunno why I am making an entry right now coz I pretty much have nothing to say - it's just that the other alternatives include (a) going to the gym - which I don't have the strength to (b) sit down with my books - which I don't have the motivation for and (c) go to the microwave to get the cornflakes - somehow I am too bogged down to even get that done. That implies that I shall ramble on a little more.

    The morning resulted in a lot of communication - two one hr e-chats with Vikram (who makes delightful conversations) and Swati. This was followed by three hours of telephonic conversations with a happy Modi, a concerned Uma, angry Haimanti and the proverbial Dam.

    I will also have to harness adequate enthusiasm and strength to call up home in some time and thereafter try to reason (followed by argument) with my folks about my sister's career options. On one hand my entire family wants her to continue with her MA in "South and South East Asian Studies" while the lone me and the secretive Pummy would much rather have her shift fields to do the advertising course she has managed to get into too. Now, I am completely against my sister doing something just because my aunts and uncles and parents can rave about it - sadly, Pummy is too good a girl to disappoint my doting folks. So moi shall try hard to infuse some zeal in her and make her break the norms - I am aware that my efforts will be futile but rather make it than ponder upon it.

    The review returns !
    Aha! Being back in SD means I can once again watch my Friday night movies. Now before I talk about tonight's movie I have to mention that I can recall a zillion instances where I was impressed by the trailer but disappointed by the final film. However, seldom has a movie appeared better than what the trailer projected it to be (I recall the Hindi movie Hera Pheri which for some reason was projected as an action flick but later proved to be a thoroughly delightful comedy). Tonight's movie - Sky captain and the World of Tomorrow is one such rare movie. The trailers didn't look cool at all but the movie pleasantly surprised me.

    Before I go into the details of the movie it is important to say a word or two about the director, Kerry Conran. Conran is a non-"filmy" guy who conceptualized his dream on a Mac machine in his house. After years of diligent work he pitched a demo to the studios who gave him a chance to make his dream into a full length motion pic. This should be an inspiration for people who don't have a stronghold in Hollywood but still dream to make celluloid magic some day. Bravo!

    Now coming to the movie - it has a very standard story of good guys (and girls) saving the world from the bad guys but boy is the old wine packaged in a really new (or old!) bottle. The movie has a retro 1950s cartoon look and feel. You almost start believing the subdued texture and the story book visual Conran creates. I had complained a few weeks back that movies are no longer capitalizing on the visual strength of the medium and this movie impresses me heavily in that aspect. The movie captures the largeness which is so desired in a sci-fi while keeping the old school look intact. As you can figure out - you have to watch it to believe it. Law and Paltrow's chemistry is heart warming, with the right blend of wit and humor. Add to that the pirate eye-capped Angelina Jolie in a brief role and we are on the way to see a trend of the one eyed beauts (remember Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill). I wish the script had a little more excitement but then I never said this movie is a masterpiece - though it is definitely a highly recommended watch.

    Friday, September 17, 2004

    A bitchy thought
    My father has raised a fairly pertinent question to which I have no plausible answer to offer. He pointed out that the Indian society considers "sher ka baccha" (child of a tiger) to be a compliment while "kutte ka pilla" (the global son of a bitch) is considered defaming. All this when the tiger is a ferocious carnivore reputed to rip off its victim and the dog is the man's best friend. Why then do we prefer being from the lineage of the tiger as opposed to the canine delight? Very very profound - I am completely stumped!

    Morning Whimsy
    I have one of the worst form of jet lags - the 12 hr phase lagged one - instead of my decent sleep at night and a siesta in the afternoon I slept from 1-5.30 yesterday afternoon and I am wide awake after my nap from 2-4.30 this morning. Good morning folks. I hereby present bad poetry for you:

    Jet lag, no sleep, yawn
    When is it morning? When is it dawn?
    Vagueness beckons, droopy eyes
    Sleeping in the night - futile tries
    Awake alone, no one to talk
    Corridors, alleys - random walk
    Crappy poem this, to spend some time
    Just no reason, terrible rhyme

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    A song worth a hear
    Waisa Bhi Hota Hai - Part II (a most entertaining name to a fairly novel film) has this song called Sajna Aaa Bhi Jaa, which I am completely smitten by. The song is available in both Music India and Raaga and if you have some time to spare, listen to the song. The most entertaining part of the song is the fact that they have digitally distorted the singer, Shibani Kashyap's, voice which gives it this rustic and old-ish feel. Sid complained about this effect but that's what initially attracted me to the song (I heard it first in the play I recently went to watch). I also have to say that Vishal(he is an otherwise rocker who is part of the band Pentagram)-Shekhar, the music directors for this film, are among the most under-rated talents in Bollywood. The duo has given some very trendy, different aka hatke and innovative music in films like Jhankar Beats, Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi and the new Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jao. Sadly, not many people know about them!

    Stereotype # 437

    Airports are excellent places to hone one's observation skills - you have a large sample space to spot an interesting subject, you can have a fair amount of time to study the case in point and even if someone spots you, the chances are slim that you will be known to the person. Moreover, you are either feeling the "excitement of returning” or the "blues of leaving" and both these emotions, I feel, help you to focus.

    Yanyway, the topic of discussion now is the "visiting US for the first time Bengali couple". They were visible aplenty this trip and they have some very entertaining traits. First of all the first-time-US-going Bengali man will never accept that this is his first trip - Never. He will try to "look" confident, often extend advice to other lost travelers and most importantly - he will always boss around his wife, while staying within the bounds of gentlemanly behavior. Secondly, he will always be in a hurry. There was this couple standing in front of me and the line was moving at its own pace but every time there was a possibility of movement the man would hasten up his wife with the proverbial "Taratari chalo". Another aspect where the Bengali first timer differs from his counterparts is his dressing. He will always be dressed in prim and proper formalwear and shining boots. The South Indian crowd can be caught with the shirt hanging out and/or the rare sandals but the Bengali man will always look all set to enter a business meeting.

    Now let's get to the woman aka "boudi". They can be categorized into several categories but the one group which seems to be growing at a fast pace is the otherwise “orthodoxly dressed homely Bengali didi”. She suddenly gets the freedom she had only seen in TV serials and doesn't want to let go of a single drop of it. I am not lying but I seriously have seen a few Bengali ladies dressed in men's shirts and trousers with tonsa ornaments; and that people is a very amusing sight :)

    I am pretty sure that none of the people reading this blog fall into any of these categories. So I doubt if I have offended anyone and in case I have ... (the beauty of the ... is that it can mean anything :) ) ...

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    From home away from home
    Moi back in San Diego. The house looks a lot cleaner and I'd love to believe that my absence wasn't the reason for this transformation. We shall wait, watch and get dirty.

    I have concluded that I am indeed a magnet when it comes to attracting boring Asian company - not once not twice but time and again I get seated in flights next to the most somber looking Asians - why? Why, Anamika why? I have seen a zillion movies where Meg Ryan-ish women give company to absolute strangers; then why do I get people who refuse to speak? The conundrum baffles me once again!

    It must be noted that my luggage has got misplaced for the second time now. My mother bought me the brightest possible red suitcase in all of CIT Road just to ensure that it can be easily identified (and my father has added my name in bold on top to aid the process further) but its effects are quite contrary in nature. My ego does get supplemented when my name is announced in a select gathering but not when the issue in question is my missing luggage. Yanyway! They have assured me that they will deliver it to my house tomorrow; unlike the last time when I had to make incessant phone calls and then finally go and pick it up myself.

    More shall follow later.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    From Singapore
    I am currently in Singapore and couldn't resist the idea of making an entry from here. Just bumped into Fez, who is a senior of mine from Pilani. He looked different, recognizable and like the quintessential manager. It was a short but nice meeting. This is a short and (maybe) nice entry!

    Monday, September 13, 2004

    e-com
    I visit this site called Orkut quite frequently every day. I had claimed some time back that the Orkut phenomena will fizzle out soon (and I still feel that way) but am a fairly active user of this service myself. The concept of online communities amazes me - the ability for isolated individuals to find common interests and then form a group without physically meeting is a marvel of technology and moi is quite smitten by it.

    While on the issue of online communities, I was once associated with a startup (whose end followed soon) that dealt with online community building. In my moments of enterprising frenzy I had dreamt of building some such communities myself - the first one being a common forum where students can seek and provide online help from/to each other. The idea was to categorize students as experts in certain fields and then build a collaborative environment which largely relied on symbiotic urges. Needless to say, this lack of business model failed to excite anyone I mentioned the idea to. Two years later Google launched a far stronger, superior and business-wise sound version of this premature idea that I once fostered, and I think they have a done a great job of it.

    The second idea I felt strongly about (which too is seriously flawed) is to build a medium to aid budding film makers. The idea being that interested film makers can put up their story ideas, budgets etc. online in this forum and based on how exciting the idea sounds other users can pitch in financial support to the idea. My motivation being that most indie movies cost around $10-20 million and can rake in a good profit. So even if the community had 2-3 million users and half of them supported a story idea, all of them had to invest $15-25 to be part of a movie production. If the movie made profits it will be shared by the users in accordance to their spending and if the movie does dismally then you don’t loose too much either. The thing that I thought was neat is that only ideas that would appeal to a large group of people will get adequate funding - and that would directly hint at the potential of the movie. Sadly, this idea has several large flaws - lack of accountability, issues on fund management and monitoring and fear of loosing your idea being some of them and I have never managed to find satisfying solutions ot any of them. Hmmmm!

    Enuff of blogging - shall check out Orkut once again.

    Sunday, September 12, 2004

    Games people play
    I suck when it comes to computer games. I just don't have the tenacity to indulge in a virtual world. I have seen people like Dhaji and Sid get completely soaked in a make believe world - Sid even talks about gaming characters as if they are his real life friends. Another reason why I have stayed away from these games is the proverbial case of "sour grapes" - moi just don't do well enuff in these games. The only game I play (the modern community would take strong objections at my usage of the term game) is Minesweeper. I am pretty good at it but I don't think anybody can beat Gij when it comes to this. I recall that she seriously wanted to be a Minesweeper coach at one point! Yanyways! I spent the morning bettering my personal scores in the game, though the use of a laptop mouse strongly hinders my performance.

    Special note to the Geek-minded: Minesweeper the game is NP-complete (for the ones who are raising an eyebrow at this term, let's say that's a CSE major's way of saying -"it's a very difficult problem). You can check out the details of this here.

    While on the issue of games - I was watching Game TV with Sid and they had some countdown on the best games of all time and Pacman and Prince of Persia still features among the top rankers. I also remember hearing it in some quiz that the first computer arcade based game was called Pong (the first computer based game I believe was some version of tic-tac-toe), though I have no idea on how the game is/was.

    ... crappy food for thought
    I was about to write a fairly boring and preachy entry on why "Intelligence is highly over rated". The bottom line of what was otherwise turning out to be a very boring read is that there is no direct correlation between intelligence and successs, largely because I feel the conventional methodology for quantifying intelligence is highly flawed - blah blah! While on the issue of boring entries, I am feeling completely cut off from several of my news sources and there should be a change in the type of entries (the movie reviews shall return) once I reach SD.

    I have started getting the blues before leaving for SD. The thing I will be missing most is Mummum's repertoire of delicacies. However, I hear that Sudipto, a temporary entrant to our San Diego household, is quite a chef. The taste of the pudding lies in eating it and I shall write more on Sudipto's talent after I taste the pudding.

    Caught a glimpse of Sholay again on TV and loved it once again. I doubt if they ever created another movie that led to so many cult icons - Jai, Veeru, Gabbar, Basanti, jailor, Surma Bhopali and even Dhanno the horse.

    Friday, September 10, 2004

    Some lesser known things about me
    I am feeling quite low for a weekend morning. So decided to put up some lesser known (largely insignificant and uninteresting as well) stuff about me. I have absolutely no idea as to how this will help me feel any better though.

    1. After 10 years of working with computers I still type with four fingers.

    2. I am terrible when it comes to spellings of common words e.g. I still don't know how to spell "commitment", I once got into trouble in school because I seriously got confused as to whether it is "eight" or "eigth"

    3. On the same lines I used to find (till very recently) it difficult to pronounce words like equivalent, equivocal, antithesis etc.

    4. I am among the very few people who can move their right hand clockwise and left hand anticlockwise simultaneously (Satyajit Ray popularized this game in Jana Aranya). I know Larry can do the same.

    5. My mom and dad call me by separate nick names.

    6. I used to have a very strong lisping problem and traces of it still remain (if you know me then make me say words which have two consecutive Rs in it)

    7. In seventh standard I derived Sridharacharya's formula of solving quadratic equations independently using a totally different method. Sadly, that pretty much remains my most significant mathematical findng :(

    8. I don't know the names of many of my first cousins even though I keep meeting them socially

    9. The only actor/actress's poster that I ever put up was this gorgeous poster of Kajol when I was in school.

    10. I once wrote under the pseudonym of S.N. Andy (which is S. Nandy broken down) for my sister's English elocution because she refused to reveal that I wrote her piece (incidentally she won)

    Play-full
    I just returned after watching a play called Andrews `94. The last time I watched a play in this city was almost ten years back when Bijoya and Bhavin apparently locked lips on-stage. The good thing about tonight’s play was that most of the cast members were in their early twenties and you could feel the energy and enthusiasm in the ambience. The play was touted as the first play that used digital sets (they had a screen which was used to project images and animation). The attempt was quite novel but slightly amateurish. However, I did not mind that. The chaos added a separate charm to the play. The evening also gave me a chance to meet up with an old friend whom I met after almost a decade (he was acting in the play). Ironically, the play itself dealt with (re)union of friends; nothing like a little bit of irony in a creative evening.

    I had actually reached the venue half an hour before the play started and got a chance to witness the cast practice. The whole setup made me somewhat nostalgic. It’s nice to see a group infused with energy where the whole ambience inspires you. Just made me realize once again how dull I have become in my post engineering days. Phew!

    Thursday, September 09, 2004

    Cheap Excuses
    Modi and I had a 30 second chat in which he informed me that my blog is getting duller by the day. Even my decision to drink hasn't amused my ex-wingie :( So I promised him some spice and ironically a topic sprung up courtesy him. Modi often breaks chats abruptly and uses the same old excuse of "hey, have some work". So I promised Modi some beter ways of ending conversations. So here are some excuses that I have successfully used in the past with decent success. In my defense a lot of times these excuses actually happened. So if people like Ronny Dam read this and feel that I have used any of these things on him its probably because I was being honest then.

    1. Hey, one sec - got a phone call!
    2. Shit shit! I just burned the chicken. Get back to you in a moment.
    3. Hmmm! Just woke up. Naaaa! I need to sleep a little more.
    4. Are you sending me messages coz I am typing but I am not getting any of your messages. Hello ... hello ... hello. You there? Hey at least buzz me. Hello!
    5. My favorite one because this actually happens a lot of times. In my house people often use my laptop and get my messages so every now and then I just say - this is not Sagnik, it's his room mate. Do you want me to pass on any message?

    Once again if any of the readers feel that I have used any of these excuses on them , dip your anger in question marks coz more often than not these things have actually happen and that's what makes these excuses realistic :) So Modi, do a better job next time.

    Issue with issues
    Just got into a discussion with Bubin on population control. The Indian media has found its latest eye candy. The Census report and the ICC awards are occupying every news channel's platter. One such debate on NDTV on the consequences of the Census report sparked the conversation between me and Bubin. Like most of our discussions, Bubin and I share different views on this issue. According to Bubin in a country not funded by the state (basically absence of social security benefits) the government has no right to dictate how many children one should have i.e. if a man is raising all his children he can have as many children as he wants. On the other hand I strongly support population control and feel that if anyone has the desires to raise more children they should adopt orphans. My take on Bubin's argument being that irrespective of whether you raise your children properly or not the fact remains that the growing population affects the social infrastructure and the possibilities of opportunities. Moreover, a large stratum of the Indian society produce kids without planning or wondering whether they can afford them. Anyway, bottom-line being - like most of Bubin and my arguments we have learned to agree to disagree.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    Inebriated … :)
    Woof! I just took my first glass of alcohol. Now this might not be news to most people but people who know me well (which most of the readers of this blog probably do) will realize how big a news item this is. I have been a strong teetotaler, so much so that I refrained from eating chocolates with liquor in it. However, I stuck to my resolution that I will share my first drink with my mom. The two of us just finished a little bit of Bacardi and now the entire family is wondering how I will react to my first drink – whether I will go frolicking around or whether I shall just keep mummm! My mom has already started giving me the quintessential lecture. More on this shall follow later (I am a drunk man, so I can’t write much :) ). Yanyway! I shall now end with a drunk joke. What do you call a sweet looking drunkard? …. Acute alcoholic! Haaa! Haaa! If you like it – hola! Else – what more do you expect from a drunkard :).

    Tuesday, September 07, 2004

    Listen and Hear
    I have been thinking abt this for quite some time and still haven't reached a conclusive stand on the issue. So I decided to put it up on the blog. The question in question being "Which is more important - the music or the lyrics in a song?" I was discussing this with a friend and my stance was that music is the principal ingredient of a song. Now I can put forward my arguments; but that will just push this post to the borders of boredom. Instead I shall give my take on this issue as a dialogue between me and this friend of mine. Let's call me A and my friend B for the sake of a literal argument:

    A: I feel that music is the key ingredient coz had it been just the words, I would have settled for poetry and not a song.
    B: But lyrics support the mood of a song. Bad lyrics can disrupt the mood of the song.
    A: I agree. But that argument holds true for words as well - try injecting cacophony in poetry and you will rip the song into pieces. Ideally, both lyrics and music complement each other. All that I am saying is that if I had to choose a winner it would be the music.
    B: And what makes you say that?
    A: Well I have heard lots of songs where I had no idea abt the lyrics – it’s just that the music caught my attention. Haven't you done that?
    B: Yes, I have.
    A: Point proven.
    B: Maybe if you knew the lyrics you would have enjoyed it even more.
    A: Haven't you heard tunes being lifted? Have you ever heard the lyrics of a song getting lifted?
    B: Actually yes. Remember Macarena.
    A: Come on! They lifted the tune as well.
    B: OK! I have another phone coming in, shall get back to you later.

    Duh!

    Monday, September 06, 2004

    Harry Up
    The award for the most ludicrous TV serial on Indian television goes to this piece of absolute crap called Jadu High Shakalaka Boom Boom. The name alone is enough to make me dislike the serial but no, in retrospect the name was among the better things this serial had to offer. Please, pretty please, some extreme form of pleading please - if you are in India and if you have 30 mins to waste watch this serial - it is so disappointing that it will not disappoint you.

    The serial is a desi rehash of the Harry Potter series. I just watched it for 20 mins and they made absolute mockery of the wizard classic in that time. Bad acting, preposterous sets and dismal visual effects - name some aspect of a serial that might disappoint you and then switch on to this serial to fulfill those desires. In today's episode they showcased a dual between two wizards where one of them kept using his beard to shun the other's attacks - need I say anything more?

    Bangladeshi Ballerina
    I was channel surfing when I came across a Bangladeshi channel where some love struck couple were prancing (or was it dancing) around. What caught my attention to the song was the fact that they had lifted a popular Hindi film tune. While I was trying to figure out the source of the tune I heard the words (nope they can’t be termed lyrics) of the song and shall try my level best to reproduce it in English. The hero tells the heroine:

    Your love is a quicksand where I am drowning
    You have hidden some treasures in the quicksand
    And I am trying to find them there (while drowning)

    The humor and absurdity is partially lost in translation but I thought it will be an interesting entry nevertheless.

    Sunday, September 05, 2004

    ... More Old Ties and thank you Mr. Agaram
    Before I talk about my rejuvenated old ties with Jojo, I need to thank Kartik Agaram for helping me find the name of the movie starring Mithun, Rati Agnihotri, Danny and Tanuja that I had mentioned in my blog a few days back. Kartik informed me that the movie is called Boxer, using which I tracked down the name of the song that had challenged my meager knowledge of Hindi. It’s called "Shaadmaani", which I believe was one of the first hits of Kavitha Krishnamurthy. Sadly, the online music streaming sites I visit (Music India, Raaga and Smash Hits) don't have this song and I don't think they ever released a music CD of the movie. Hmmm! Have to find a way to get hold of a digital version of this track. The way they are running out of old tracks to remix these days (I gain a fair amount of amusement from the latest trend of simultaneous releases of the same song by different music companies) I can hope that this one will find its way to some sound engineer's desk(top). Yanyways! The bottom-line is that mentioning the problem on the blog helped and I am going to thank my mom, dad, neighbors, relatives and Kartik for it.

    Coming back to the topic of Jojo, I met up with the chap yesterday. Jojo is my oldest friend (na na its our friendship that's old; the guy is just abt my age). I have been told that our grandfathers used to take us out for morning walks even before we remember meeting). Moi has known Jojo for almost 24 years now and the guy is awesome company. The two of us spent the entire day scavenging around for movie theatres without the House Full sign and ended up punctuating our search with a lunch, dinner and quintessential meaningless conversations that is the staple ingredient of all our meetings. Jojo boy!

    Saturday, September 04, 2004

    ... return of the review
    This week's review spot is taken by Rakht - the first film from industrialist Vijay Malaya and the second film from actor/industrialist Suniel Shetty. The film is a thriller/whoodunit and is fairly watchable. The only loose aspect of this film, which has a stellar star cast and fairly popular musical score, is its script, which could have been made a lot tauter. Especially the surprise value of a good whoodunit was highly missed. Nevertheless, the movie is definitely better than most of the recent Hindi movies that I have seen (except Dhoom) and is definitely good enuff for a one time watch. Technically the movie is really good and the production values were great. I specially liked this one thing they did with the camera - to show the deranged state of Suniel Shetty's character they kept the character still but moved the camera instead in the frames in which he appears. This produced a very different and slightly disturbing effect which looked really cool. It reminded me of this great thing they did for Goodfellas where in a restaurant scene they kept changing the zooming of the camera lens while moving the camera physically as well. The two effects balanced each other keeping the relative aspect of the characters with respect to the frame constant. This gave the audience the impression that the camera is moving and the frame (visual) didn't reveal that. You’ve got to see the scene to admire the effect. Sadly, off late very few movies use the visual strength that the film medium can offer – I’ve heard that Jet Li's Hero does a very good job of it but I am yet to watch the movie.

    Friday, September 03, 2004

    ... random rambling
    Ambition(noun): like a glass of water.
    Few drops in moments of need is bliss
    But then the thirst’s not over,
    The desire continues to hover.
    Till you feel you are done.
    The empty glass you shun.
    Satiated, unable to take no more.

    The day goes on.
    You go on.
    The night shines.
    The dawn dawns.
    And suddenly the urge is back.
    The yearning returns with a stronger attack.
    You forget the past.
    The taste of joy.
    The present yields to stronger cravings
    And you go in search of more.
    Till you feel you are done.
    The empty glass you shun.
    Satiated, unable to take no more.

    I have gulped a million glasses down
    And still the thirst persists
    Ah! Those droplets, trickling joy
    Ah! The mind insists.

    Errata
    Samit pointed out that we had spoken once for a few seconds, so the entry below stands corrected. On a separate note - I will go shopping for spectacles/glasses in the evening. While on the issue of spectacles I remember this trivia - What in cricket is termed a spectacle??? Answer: A batsman scoring a duck in both innings of a match (the source of this question is under slight question itself). Ducks remind me of one more trivial pursuit - Name the duck in Australia that shares the batsman's sorrow when he scores a zero? Answer: Daddles.

    Thursday, September 02, 2004

    Old Ties that Suit Well
    I chatted with Samit for the first time this morning. Samit is a guy who I remember as a gifted quizzard from my school days and is now a gifted writer. We have never spoken, not even the social "hi and hello", and yet I spent an hour chatting with him and that made me realize the power of the Internet medium once again.

    I have always been amazed by the fact that never has there been a technology shift so powerful that you change your communication medium completely in less than a decade. The telephone took a fair amount of time before becoming commonplace (and it never affected the snail mail much), television was a dabbler too (and the radio still did well), but the Internet - boy, did it zoom into out social system. Six years back when I was in college, my dad used to write me a letter (remember that paper-based thing) every week and I used to love reading his insight on several issues. These days I just wake up in the morning and open my mail account to read Bubin's synopsis of all things Kolkattan. So here’s a list of the 5 things I completely take for granted right now that I didn't even imagine seven years back:

    5. Using the computer as a multimedia hub - I buy/play/archive my music, watch movies, stream radio stations etc, all using my 5lb laptop. Frankly, if forced, I can do away with my music system or TV and use the computer for all their needs.

    4. Voice over IP - a professor of Indian origin once told me that in his days as a student they would just call home to say they are fine and still run the risk of spending a fortune - come Internet telephony and we even ask our parents to hold on to the line while we finish adding salt to the dal.

    3. E-mail: Could you imagine even a decade back that mails will be delivered at the press of a button, that you will have an address that will be free of the whims of your local postman, that something@something.com will be all that you need to get reliable mail delivery? I am still amazed.

    2. Google - I do almost all my searching for information on Google. Earlier one needed to be well read or at least in the company of well read people to gather information easily. Places called libraries were information warehouses. But now you just type it in your Google toolbar and hola! As a matter of fact I have asked a bunch of my friends about the one site that affects them the most and the answer has been unanimous - the search is on.

    1. The number one shift I still feel is chatting or instant messaging. Actually the items from number 3-1 on this list can all be interchanged since I am equally amazed by all of them but chatting I feel is a MAJOR sociological change and that's why I put it on top. Come on! We actually created new words or acronyms (asl, ur, 4ever) to use this medium. It showed that real-time multi way conversations are possible in a non voice form and that to me is true Innovation.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    Borrowed Inspiration
    For this entry I will borrow (or simply cite) from two other recent blog entries that I found thoroughly entertaining. The first one comes from Mr. Ronny Dam's blog where he talks about Indians in Mountain View. I have been raving about this entry to all and sundry. I strongly share Ranajit's sentiment about Indians in California forming their own little myopic communities where they pretend to shun the existence of a larger social stratum. This is an issue where words fail me to paint the picture that actually exists. We have to realize at some point that there is more to the World than people who share our particular language and that a social gathering need not be confined to the once-a-week-trip to the favorite Indian restaurant. I feel Dam’s entry has done an excellent job of giving vent to my frustration – kudos and thanks!

    The second entry that made me very nostalgic is from Antara’s blog where she discusses good ol’ Parnab Mukherjee. Now Antara mentions and I shall re-iterate that the humor and meaning of this dish can only be enjoyed if you have tasted Parnab in person. For those who haven’t (and you have all the reasons to feel good about that), I shall try to paint an accurate picture using two examples – (i) I once attended a debate where Parnab was the moderator and he spoke more than all the speakers combined (ii) he has a trademark “anything under the Sun round” in his quizzes where he lets you choose a topic and quizzes you on that. On one such occasion someone chose Salman Khan as his area of expertise to which Parnab said (and I am not making this up) – “Salman Khan acted in Maine Pyar Kiya which was such a big hit that some guy wrote a book based on the movie and that book had some character which inspired the name of a character in the other Salman Khan movie Hum Apke Hain Kaun. Name the character.” For those who still care for the answer, we were later told that it was “Tuffy the dog”. It doesn’t matter. The point I am trying to make is that most of Parnab’s “choose your topic” questions would finally boil down to things one could (or would) never verify and in all probability had little or nothing to do with the chosen subject to start with. These two incidents apart I can recount at least ten other incidents where Parnab provided me with more entertainment (I think the word should be amusement) than many of the Friday night movies I rant about. Sadly, I think I have spent more print space than what Parnab deserves (boy, I sound bitter about him) and shall refrain from any further indulgence on this topic.

    The saasy Affair
    Nope - no more lengthy descriptions of homecoming blues. However, as I type this my mother is diligently watching on of the innumerable saas-bahu affairs on television. I truly admire the makers who have made a genre out of philandering husbands, the dedicated wife and the unscrupulous in-laws. Hats off!

    Changing topics I shall now give my two cents on the Indian cricket team's dismal streak. The experts have cited several reasons - Dravid's wicket keeping role, absence of Tendulkar, lack of practice etc. Somehow all of them seem to be forgetting a simple alternative possibility - law of averages. The Indian team has defied expectations consistently for the past two years and it is but normal to fair badly every now and then. The over scrutinizing attitude of the non playing honchos baffle me. Nobody seems to question why a nation of one billion gets one medal in the Olympic games and there seems to be no plausible explanation in anyone’s mind but come a few defeats in cricket ad we are out to get the Men in Blues. Hmmm!

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