Monday, December 15, 2008

WHY AN ACER IS GOOD FOR YOU

I've bitched about Acer enough. I mean, I've ripped them apart at MouthShut, in several flowery emails to their customer care, and somewhere deep in the recesses of my own blog. I shouldn't be so mean to them, no? I mean, it's not their fault that the people who make their laptops have IQs hovering around single digits, it? I take back everything I said about Acer being crappy, shitty and all that. Infact, there are quite a few positive things to come out of my association with Acer.

And here they are.

1. Efficiency in OS installation gained - Having re-installed Windows XP at least 20 times over the last year at MICA, I've become so efficient at the process and have found roundabout ways to install it. If, for instance, you get a DLL file missing error during an install, don't panic, just pop out the CD, put in another WinXP CD and continue. Voila! I can now re-install WinXP in around half an hour and restore my system to the previous state with all software and drivers in less than an hour. Such efficiency, you will agree, comes with practice, which Acer gives you.

2. Constant backing up of documents - People with Dell and Lenovos get complacent because their laptops are made by good companies. Then in the once-in-a-lifetime hard disk crash or virus attack, people lose all their documents and this results in untold grief, suffering and heartbreak. Never with Acer. Because you're so panicky about when the next blue screen is going to come and wipe your system clean, that you end up taking a backup of all your documents and photos atleast once a week. Truly, this is a virtue imbibed in me by means of my association with Acer and their rickety computers.

3. Putting all your software installations in one place - When your laptop is such that it forces you to reinstall Windows every two weeks, you end up efficiently putting all your installation files together - from Acer drivers to Office2007, from CoolEditPro to International Cricket Captain. Why, you have all the software you need for a lifetime, and you can help others out who ask for software too! Look at the plight of the poor Dell user, who has to install Office once, and forget about it, because he is sure his system never crashes? Oh, but what happens when the pesky kid brother at home uninstalls it to get some disk space? And you can't finish your assignment for want of Powerpoint? For an Acer user, this is never an issue. He would always have all pertinent software files ready.

4. Trusting external storage - I really don't think this needs to be elaborated upon.

5. Intricate technical knowledge gained - When you interact with Acer's customer care and learns about its asininty, inefficiency and sheer unfriendliness, you take it upon yourself to do things yourself. When I was in Jamshedpur and something was fucked with my HDD, they asked me to take my laptop all the way to Patna. Where? Pat-effin'-na! So what did I do? Slam the phone down, and fix the HDD myself, all that was wrong was the pin was slightly loose. There you go. A few more years and I'll learn how to put together my own motherboard!

6. Avoiding serious injuries - Since the on-laptop mouse buttons are likely to die out in the first three days of operation, you end up buying a proper desktop mouse and hence reduce the chance of getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (okay, I made that one up, but heck...)

7. Internet and computer de-addiction - Since an Acer user will be without his laptop for atleast a month a year, he automatically gets a break from the highly addictive, black-hole-like world of the internet and computers. Why, my own Acer was in the service center for a month this year, and during that time, I learnt to appreciate the finer things in life. Like books, music, fellow human beings and writing with pens (wow!). Such luxuries and learnings are not, sadly, easily had by a Dell or Lenovo user who would be bleary-eyed after 15 hours on Facebook and Counterstrike.

8. An Acer teaches you patience - Infinite patience. Dell users are so uptight and get hassled over the simplest of things. Not an Acer user! We, who are used to waiting ten minutes for WinXP to boot up (imagine what it will do with Vista! A whole new species would be formed by the time!) do not get hassled by relatively smaller things like waiting for the bus or for boring lectures to end. We are blessed with such infinite patience, that even Chinese Kung-Fu masters come to us for lessons.

So there we are. Who says I hate Acer? Who, me? No, of course not! I positively love those penny-pinching morons who make computers out of sheer garbage. I think that itself is a great advancement in technology. Acer should be commended for making things which people can blog on, out of components that must have been rejected by Mitashi's MP3 factory.

On a parting note, here's a pic of my Craptop doing what it does best: Getting reinstalled on.

Friday, December 05, 2008

TO DE-PFAFF THE WORLD

faff: To keep speaking pompously and with a lot of jargon , when in fact you don't have a clue of the topic at hand. Often excercised by Business people (mostly MBAs), public speakers, HR guys, politicians etc.
1] The CEO got up late to prepare for the presentation and ended up faffing like mad on the podium.
2] In an interview , when you've said enough "I don't know"s , its time for faffing.

- From UrbanDictionary.com

If you're an MBA, faffing (or pfaffing, as we MICAns prefer to call it) is second nature. No, seriously. We even have an event for it during MICANVAS, where people are presented with random slides and are asked to make presentations on the spot, and they end up doing a good job of it!

Now this post is not going to be pfaff-bashing, pfaff-eulogizing or telling people how to pfaff (the last one, though, I promise to write on soon). What this post will be all about is imagining a world without pfaff, and how much simpler life would be if we didn't beat about the bush.

Imagine, for instance, the mother of all pfaff situtations, placement interviews in BSchools. Let's take a dialogue between Prospective Employee (PE) and Recruiter (R). Let's call the institute Management Institute of India (MII).

R: So, tell me something about the subjects you have studied at MMI, PE.

PE: Well, I majored in marketing, and learnt a variety of subjects such as branding, general marketing, advertising, media, consumer behaviour, etc.

R: Hmm, I see. And do you think these will help you at our company? For instance, you say you studied branding. How do you think that will help you?

PE: Undoubtedly, sir. In today's marketplace, it is imperative to look from the consumer's point of view. The brand essence that he carries forward in his mind is of utmost importance, it can make or break his decision to invest in your product or not. Hence building a brand, maintaining it, etc, are vital, and I believe the skills that I have imbibed during my study at MII will help me greatly, and help the brand grow as well.

R: Impressive. You were an engineer before this, according to your CV? A mechanical engineer?

PE: (oh-oh) Yes, sir, I was...

R: And after that you went and did a software job, and after 10 months you decided to do an MBA in marketing...? How do you justify that?

PE: Well sir, it's like this. When I started out to do my Engineering, there were a wide variety of options in front of me and I decided that this would be a safe career path, after which I could choose anything I wanted. At the end of engineering, I decided to go for a software job because it was a lucrative field. Of course, it is not as if all of my four years went to waste. My stay at college was invaluable to help me inbibe analytical skills, which I carry forward even today.

R: Impressive, PE. I think you will be an asset to our company. We would like to make you an offer, do you have any questions?

PE: Sir, what would my salary be like?

R: Your cost to company will be 9.7 lakhs per annum

PE: (kickass!) Sir, how much will that translate to per month?

R: Well, it depends on your performance and the company's performance, but I assure you, our in-hand is on-par with what the best in industry offers.

PE: It's been a pleasure, sir. Thank you so much.

R: Good luck!

==

Now, cut to the same conversation happening without all the gas.

==

R: Dude, what did you do out here at MII for two years?

PE: Laid a few people, learnt how to make better Powerpoints and speeches, a bit of guitar, Stanley Kubrik movies, Deep Purple's music, and stuff like that.

R: Why on earth should we hire you?

PE: Dude, listen, I may not have the greatest CGP thingummy, but you can bet your corporate ass that I can sell.

R: You sound pretty sure and confident. I like that. What did you do in your internship?

PE: Flirted with the other temps, and gassed out a few models and impressed higher management.

R: Hehe, buttkickin, dude! We're hiring you.

PE: Sweet. How much are you gonna pay me?

R: You'll get 45,000 in hand per month. Plus some money when you get really old and all - some PF crap.

PE/R: (laughs)

R: Though, I'll take up your offer only if --- is offering me less. No hard feelings, eh?

PE: Haha, sure dude! I understand! I wouldn't be in this shitpot interviewing nutters like you too if I had my way! Chal, man, it's been great. See ya!

==

See how simple and transparent it is? No need to build up a corporate facade, no need to use words that are over 6 letters, and no need to pretend to be a genius. Everything is truthful, in-your-face and real. And it's all over about half an hour earlier.

Another good exercise is to read interviews with CEOs of companies that have recently undergone a logo change. They spew out so much bovine feces, it's not remotely funny and you'd want to drown under the repugnant puke of corporate pfaff. Youthful identity? Energy? Symbiosis? Who the heck are you kidding? The true reason people change logos is just to create a bit of noise and to remind people that they're still around. Youthfulness? Give me a break!

Another brilliant paper I read: After 6 pages of pfaff, graphs and figures, the earth-shattering conclusion: "Young children in India like watching television". Oh, no! Really! And I thought they spent all their time solving nuclear physics equations. Oh, you've really opened my eyes now!

Imagine if all rhetoric and gas were wiped out from the world.

After every terror strike, Manmohan Singh would just say, "We have no clue who did this, and we're not likely to find out, really. Just insure yourselves!"

After a controversial Ind-Aus test match, Dhoni would say, "See, Ricky really is a bastard, and I hate the stench of him when we get onto the field. That Clarke catch was not really a catch, and he effin' knows it as well as I do that we deserved to win!"

During the inauguration ceremony for new MBA students, the director would say, "Hey there, guys. You've paid a good sum to learn a lot of gas, which you might as well have done from Wikipedia for free. All we are is really a placement facilitation organization with a few frills. Join a few committees, have a girlfriend, have fun, mate!"

During the convocation ceremony, "I told you so!"

Hard Disk vendors on Lamington Road, "Yeah, will last for about a year, and then you can come back and buy another one from us."

And most importantly, noone will justify the biggest-mistake-of-my-life-was-doing-engineering eff-up by saying "it taught me analytical skills".

Analytical skills. ANALYTICAL SKILLS? ANAL-EFFIN'-YTICAL SKILLS? What in the Lord's name are ANALYTICAL SKILLS?! You slept through four years of mechanics and electric machines and manipulated some calculations and graphs in the lab, and you say you learnt ANALYTICAL SKILLS? So fresh out of Engineering, when E&Y give you a live case on why the sales of left-handed trousers are going down in rural Itanagar, you'll actually be able to 'analyse'? Why of course, you will! You have ANALYTICAL skills now, don't you? Oooh. What rot! For what you really learn in Engineering, click here and here.

Oh, and you won't have people like Jobs bullcrapping about the iPhone being an 'internet communications device'. You can check out one of my favourite iPhone-bashing posts here.

So there we are. How we would love the world to be a gas-free, pfaff-free place. Now excuse me while I go and write a mail to my professor explaining why I couldn't finish the assignment because I was involved in an "intellectual literary activity which would lead to eyeballs and appreciation by SEC A category graduates and post-graduates which would inturn lead to networking possibilities" (viz, wrote this blogpost).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

IN PRAISE OF CRICINFO COMMENTARY

There's something about Cricinfo commentary. There is. Something that TV, even with Bill Lawry commentating at the death overs, cannot equal. There's something to those words that come onscreen, making you imagine what's actually happening.

This reminds me of something I read in an old issue of Sportstar, about how radio made cricket fans in the 1960s and 70s recreate Lord's and Sydney in their heads, imagine Trueman to be running down and Sobers playing it away in the manner the commentator described. The mind had just a few two-dimensional images of the world's greatest cricketers (and not from billboards) to anneal into a virtual cricket stadium. There was a sense of romance in that, wasn't there? It's like what Stephen Fry said about PG Wodehouse... You feel as if you have contrived with Wodehouse to make his humour click. Similarly, you feel like you've contributed to part of the match by imagining the setting, the players' stances, the audience reaction...

And the Cricinfo text commentary is all this and more in an era where we prefer to check mail before brushing our teeth. There is no doubt that watching the game live on TV is still where the action is (and to those of us who are particularly masochistic, going to stadii to watch games is an option too). But for some of us who are internet and cricket addicts both, the Cricinfo Commentary is special.

Imagine this. Tense match on, everyone is jittery. When you look at just text on screen, you conjure up your own images. You read the text and run your own Tony Grieg commentary in your head. You are not restricted by TV contracts, commentator contracts, etc. You can have Bill Lawry and Bob Willis commentating on India v New Zealand. You can have Michael Holding and the fired Navjot Sidhu together for a Pakistan-Holland game. You can have anyone you want, speaking in any level of energy, in any words you want.

And as a batsman takes that one run to move himself from 99 to 100, you can imagine any celebration you like, aided by what Cricinfo tells you. They say he's excited. He might be jumping, hugging his mate, pumping fists, pointing his bat at the media box... There is only so much Cricinfo can tell you, and your mind conjures up the rest... Without being confined by the limits of what really happens. TV is so narrow! You would be subjected to Neo Sport's pathetic commentary, greeted by animated mascots and commentators talking about DLF Maximum Sixes on air. On-screen, you are free of market forces.


And then, you have the sheer anticipation that text brings you. A tense tense match, and all that the text says for the first few seconds is 'Symonds to Yuvraj. Four!'. You celebrate the numerical implications of the boundary. At this point, you really don't care whether he whacked it over mid-off or steered it to third man. Then, when it's sunk in, you go back to the commentary on your screen, and read about how it was a thumping cover drive, and then replay it in your head, complete with crowd reaction, bowler grimace and Ganguly pumping his fist from the balcony.

Moreso for a wicket. Tense match, India bowling.
'Zaheer to Younis. OUT!'. As soon as you see the 'OUT', you're celebrating. You have no idea what happened. Was it a plumb LBW with a peach of a delivery? Was it a controversial Michael Clarke-like cheat catch which will be on the front pages of newspapers for weeks? Was it a regulation 'keeper catch? Was it a brilliant catch by Yuvraj at point? Was it a needless runout? Was it even a hit-wicket? Was it Zaheer's 200th ODI wicket? Was it the best analysis by a left-handed fast bowler whose name starts with Z in a town which has two vowels in its name? Who cares? It's a tense match and any wicket is bloody welcome! After you celebrate, when the details are now on screen, you learn about the dismissal and replay it, again, in the high-definition, no-inch-limiting, screen in your head.

And can you ever dream of your comments or thoughts being mentioned on air? The very first time I sent a comment to Cricinfo, I had it published (search for Chuck). I was thrilled! Which other medium lets you do that?

Maybe the biggest draw for me is the sophistication level of Cricinfo commentary. You don't expect hi-bye cricket fans or zealotic village fans to follow Cricinfo. It takes a very different passion to follow textual commentary rather than be satisfied with the scorecard that updates every twenty seconds.

And of course, you have Cricinfo's resources. Gambhir batting? Want to check his FC record? Sure. From there, you want to see how much he made on ODI debut? Sure. Oh wait, wasn't Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangla opener in that match, the guy who made the century when they stunned Australia? Yes! Where is that match now? Oh, here it is. And from here you remember that Hatty Hayden once held the highest test score. Yes, he did, all the scores are there too. Man, I've just got to see Lara when he got that 375. Why not? It's here on YouTube, just a URL away. And before you're done with the actual over of the match you're supposed to be watching (reading?), you've traversed a few pages of cricket history itself. Reading text commentary can be a highly educational experience in itself.

To me, there is nothing better than Cricinfo commentary. I can do numerous other things too. I can pretend to work. I can sometimes actually work. I can copy-paste scores for other peopel who'd like to be updated, link my phone to the comp and send off SMS updates after every over too.

This, to me, is a new Kamasutra - textual intercourse.

Monday, October 27, 2008

SURE SIGNS OF INTERNET ADDICTION

Who can live without the internet, right? I mean, it's pivotal to our lives, our existence and our being. From email to news to chat to YouTube, some of us would rather have a computer with an internet connection rather than food when stranded on a desert island.

Some sure-fire tell-tale signs that you think the internet is the greatest invention ever, beating even sliced bread to the ground. And all these are from my perspective.

01. You get a deep sense of sadness when you don't see a (1) next to 'inbox'.

02. You refresh all your mail accounts once in 5 minutes. For some strange reason, you prefer new email to mails to reply to!

03. You use :P while writing with a pen and paper (oh come on, you've done a :) atleast! Admit it!).

04. When people ping you asking you for help, before they can state their query, you do Ctrl-T and have the cursor in the Google bar.

05. Your chat list has a familiar 'feel' to it. You subliminally know what goes where, and if one of the regular online guys is offline, something seems terribly out of place (but you can't put a finger on it). There has to be a term for this.

06. You have a folder full of text files with answers to frequently asked questions :P

07. You love the Alexa toolbar.

08. Somehow get a kick out of watching Cricinfo commentary online, as opposed to watching a game in real life.

09. You feel the internet should never be wasted, especially an unlimited collection and keep downloading.

10. Actually cheer torrents on (Come on, you can get to 30 kbps! Go guys, go!).

11. When you say HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA or HILARIOUS!!!! what you're most likely to be doing is just smiling.

12. Refer to :P in real life as the P smiley after an incredulous friend asks why you're sticking your tongue out at a goofy angle after saying something stupid.

13. You feel extremely proud of yourself when you do something non-internet like read an actual newspaper or are writing on an actual piece of paper, so much so that you feel the dire need to go online and tell people :|

14. You have your phone attached via Bluetooth to the computer so you can send off even quicker SMSes, and can check numbers even more fundoo-ly.

15. You actually take your phone to the toilet and finish writing the blogpost, when nature calls. Like I did for this point onwards.

16. People exclaim in surprise that you actually went offline, when what really happened was you got disconnected.

17. You check your college and personal mail before brushing and going to the loo.

18. ULTRA-ADDICTION: You rename all your contacts according to how you know them (School, College, Work, Online, Others, etc) and have created mailing groups so you can spam multiple people easily.

19. You get a high when you find a long-l0st friend on Orkut, and have this feeling of relief when you finally establish contact with him. It's another matter that you may never speak to each other for months, but he just HAS to be there on your Orkut / GTalk list.

20. The last three times you saw a movie on the computer, you minimised the screen so that you could chat with someone side-by-side.

21. You find your friends in the US asking you whether it isn't time to go to bed yet, only then you realise that it's five in the morning.

22. You looked at the computer clock first for the previous point, and then, incredulous, you look at the phone.

23. The idea of signing out of GTalk is antithesis to your entire being. What if someone important pings while I'm sleeping?!

24. You waste time reading useless lists like this and say, "That will never happen to me."

PS: Slightly related post: here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

THE LAST STRAW

Friends and fellow cricket lovers will know how much I hate the Australian cricket team. I mean, I love their aggressive play and I love watching Warne and McGrath and Haydos as much as anyone, in full flow, and I truly believed they revolutionized the game from the 90s on (and by game, I mean Test Cricket, not the French Fry version).

Too bad, they seem to be hell bent on undoing everything that they and their predecessors stood for. Of course, it all started with Mr Red Rags Steve Waugh (Aww, now, did I hurt sentiments and all of people who are his loyal fans and all?) and now Ricky Ponting. Now don't get me wrong again. I admire Ricky. He's an incredible batsman and going by current form, I tip him to overtake Sachin's centuries and runs records, as did Lara himself. And I also believe that all this crap about sledging should be left on the field, as the Australians insist they do on so many occasions. This is why I still admire them ol' bowlers.

Of course, then you have Ricky Ponting, who has the balls (pun definitely intended) to claim a grounded catch, to appeal like a maniac (of course, the Indians did that too and got fined in South Africa, but then, we're brown, right, match ref?) and get even Australian papers to condemn the team and have former greats monicker the team 'crybaby's. How apt. Exemplified by that drunken typhoon Andrew Symonds.

But as much as we all love to hate Australia, we just have to love Adam Gilchirst. A favourite with the crowds wherever he goes, an amazing ambassador for the game, played in the true spirit, walked when he knew he was out... Adam Craig Gilchrist was almost an antithesis to the Australian cricket team. Everyone loves Gilly. I mean, there are more than 35000 INDIAN fans on INDIAN fan clubs for Gilly on Orkut. So why, oh why, Adam, did you have to say what you said against Sachin? Bad sportsman because he refused a handshake? It's not like your team is absolved of every crime in history. Surely, refusing a handshake is not as great a crime as forcing a brother to bowl an underarm delivery (and to think they made the guy the coach! Ugh!) or instructing the umpire that catches had been taken (it's another matter that the umpire in question probably had as much brains as dead cactii...).

Like a poster on Orkut said... If being 'selfish' results in 30000 international runs... :P

It's painful to read through comments on that news report that claim Gilly performed a marketing stunt, yet, it was heartwarming to see some more Australia-bashing. This is not a case of wanting to see a Goliath fall. We all love to see an Australia in full flow. Yes, we do! I have tons of videos of the Aussies in my YouTube collection, and was the happiest guy in Malluland when Hayden broke Lara's record. But then, it's the arrogance, the utter lack of respect for opponents, and the sheer mental-effall-disintegration that makes the rest of the world look at Australia like they are popmous, beer-sucking morons. And over the last two years, under the able leadership of Ricky Ponting, Australia have been able to show that. The most hated cricket team in the world. How else do you explain Indians and West Indians crying in joy when South Africa beat you in the greatest one-dayer of all time?

Now with the last hope gone, the Australians well and truly retain their place as our most hated cricket team. We look forward to seeing them lose the post they occupied, which, by the way, was given to them by Allan Border and Mark Taylor.

One thing I love about the Australian team, they always give me something to blog about.

EDIT: A brilliant open letter by Anil Dharker questions Gilchrist on his double standards - on one hand you say play hard and leave it all on the field (abuse them like crazy, and then chill for a beer afterwards). And right after that, rake up issues - like Monkeygate, and now this in his autobiography. And let's not forget, Kumble graciously offered his own hand to the Aussies after the Sydney fiasco. Not a single Australian was ready to shake.

The Australians have been the instigators of the worst acts in cricket in the last decade. Merv Hughes was nothing but an overrated, fat, beer-guzzling slob. Steve Waugh used his 'charity' and other sentimental bull to hide his ruthlessness. Ponting may be a great batsman, but is an out-and-out cheat. McGrath spits on batsmen. Sledging is one thing, asking people who their wives are sleeping with (when news leaked that Graham Thorpe's wife was having an affair) is totally below the belt. Using press conferences for 'mental disintegration'.

Listen, you pieces of shit. Noone likes you or your f**d up team anymore. Yes, thank you for showing us that we can score runs at 4 per over in Test cricket. Had you left it at that, had Warne and McGrath just shut their f**kin' traps and concentrated on bowling, the rest of the world would actually like Australia.

Like a friend said, "You can take an Australian out of Australia, but you can't take Australia out of an Australian." Adam Craig Gilchrist, once considered to be a needle in a haystack, has indeed shown his true colours. I wouldn't have imagined, a week back, that I would be writing a vituperative blogpost about a cricketer who I would not have thought twice before putting him on my world True Sportsmen XI.

Why don't we all just buy the loser's autobiography to make him happy? And not off the sidewalk, please.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

CHUCK'S TOP FIVE TECH TIPS TO AVERT DISASTER

In a previous post, I enlightened the world as to how jinxed I am when it comes to anything that has anything more than a diode in it. Unlucky I may be, but the good samaritan that I am, I would like to share my blunders with you so that you, my loyal readers, are not afflicted with the same. So here are my top five tips for averting a technical Waterloo.

5. Use a surge-protection extension cord while using an external HDD.

Alright, that sounded vey geeky, I know. (Okay, I'm an engineer. So sue me!) Let me break it down. There are external hard disks. You know, the big ones with an external power source, as shown.



Now chances are, you plug your nice shiny 7500 rupee drive into the wall socket or use a cheap extension cord. For heavens sake, don't! Those 400 rupee extension cords cost 400 rupees for a reason - they come with something called surge protection. Now while the geekiness counter might go haywire here, all you need to know is this surge protection thing protects your hard disk adaptor from power fluctuation. In effect, it doesn't get fucked up. Ha, you say, you've been connecting your laptop adaptor to the cheapie and no damage has happened till now, you argue. True, but your laptop adaptor is a lot more powerful. The li'l thing inside a adaptor of a HDD is not. And noone repairs it. I've tried.

So do your 60 GB pirated music and 500 GB of downloaded movies a favour, and get yourself a surge protector.

4. Back up data!

Backing up data is like trying to save from your first salary. You keep thinking you'll start off next month and before you know it, your nose is in the grinder. Seriously now, it won't take you more than a couple hours to back up your documents. And if you have a music collection or movie collection that you've spent ages organizing and putting together, it deserves to be in more than one place. Think about it... Your life's hard work is in between a few metal sheets which are all oh-so-delicately balanced and read by a modified version of a gramaphone head. Now that I've succeeded in scaring you, go back up your data, and you'll truly have peace of mind. Like all those insurance ads claim.

3. Never buy anything over 5k without a bill.

Sure, that N series from a place in Lamington Road may look tempting, priced 2000 bucks lower than at the MobileStore. So what, you say, its a Nokia! Good quality! Of course I trust them and won't need a warranty! I'll get by.

Wake up, chowderhead. The reason the thing wound up in Lamington Road was because it was probably a factory reject. It's not like a Levis' factory reject from the Loot where you can tailor it up for 50 bucks. If your phone crashes, chances are you'll need to spend over 500 to fix it. Plus you will be at the mercy of private repairpeople who'll charge you whatever they please and tell you whatever they want when in reality all they might have done is piss on your screen and changed the keypad. Sometimes that invoice can be a great comfort. In my opinion, any electronic item for over 5000 bucks should be bought from a proper store, with a bill. And warranty.

2. Test memory devices before buying

Yes, I know not all of us can afford iPods and Sony Memory Cards (those propreitary-toting bastards!) so we may be tempted to pick up cheaper stuff from the Lamingtons and Richies of India. Not a bad idea, if it's not too much of an investment. At the same time, make sure you check the thing because many unbranded memory cards and players (Mitashi and Suny are not counted as brands, by the way) may not always contain the rated memory. I had a 1 GB player that ended up having just 512 MB (and my roommates had a field day at my expense). So caveat emptor, really. And when using one of these things, alwasys keep frequent backups because you never know when one of them will crash and lose your favourite songs or your killer photos.

In any case, you get pretty decent memory these days.

1. Don't buy an acer

Last but not the least. Even if you're held at gunpoint, do NOT buy this piece of utter, undiluted shit called acer. Note how I don't even capitalise the 'a' to show my utter disrespect. They tempt you with low prices but have as much quality as Ashish Nehra has a batting repertoire. Their customer care is pathetic, their after-sales response is a nightmare (think not? Try waiting two weeks just to get your RAM replaced). And of course, their laptops suck. I don't care if I got a bad piece (like one of my friends suggested), it had no business being in the market with all the 'good' pieces then. So please, please, please, please, don't buy an Acer. Discourage anyone who plans to do so. I've talked hundreds of people out of buying an acer and will continue to do so. This is called philantrophic vengeance. Actually, don't buy any laptop other than Dell. Laptops = Dell. They'll come and fix your laptop even if you drop water on it. THAT is Customer service. Acer on the other hand, refuses to replace a faulty keyboard because 'they don't have spares', and act as if the fault is yours all along.

Oh, and a word about their marketing campaign, if you can call it that. 'Life is Busy, Acer makes it easy' is in my list the worst ad campaign ever, trumping HCL's pathetic wannabe effort. What sort of shit is that? I lost respect for Hrithik when he did an ad like that. And don't go by what PCWorld says. The laptops (as well as all the other equipment) sent to them for testing are like the blazers the college director gets. The masses get crap, but he gets a carefully tailored one - probably one that has been through multiple quality tests.

And I apologize to Ashish Nehra and all his fans for comparing him to a craptop like acer.

And as a bonus point, if any of you have any intentions of buying the most overhyped thing ever to exist, the iPhone, please don't. Get yourself a Nokia ESeries and some quality and value for money. Expanding pictures and all is cute for the ads. Here's a killer take on why the iPhone is, well, less than satisfactory.

This picture sums up what a lot of people feel about the iPhone:

So there you have it. Follow these simple instructions and you will lead a happy life and reach Tech Nirvana. Now, where's my Creative?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WHEN MURPHY'S LAW MEETS INDIAN RAILWAYS

Ardent followers of CoD would already be familiar with the author's ill spate of bad luck with technology, entrance exams, and of course, the Indian Railways.

But there was one incident, wherein it looked like Murphy himself decided that three of us should go through an experience that would make the aforementioned trinity of incidents look like mosquito bites.

Introducing the protagonists of the story:
Chuck (guitar)
Anshul (drums)
Golee aka Gaurav (Keyboards)

Murphy looked at this eclectic set of people, smiled wickedly and thought, "Alright! Here's the chance for some top-rate mischief!". How deliciously he decided the venue and timing of the incident as well, given our musical backgrounds: The mecca of rock fans in India - the Iron Maiden concert of 2007.

The concert in itself went without a glitch - no bones broken, no clothes torn, no wallets looted and no physical damage done. But I knew something was going to happen, given my incredible record with Indian Railways, which included proudly strutting onto a train for which I had booked the previous day's ticket, and sheepishly getting onto a second sitting seat (or floor, depending on your point of view).

Now, a little background. Me and Anshul were booked on the same ticket, which I held. Golee took his own ticket. Anshul was staying with a friend somewhere, me and Golee were staying with his uncle together in Grant Road. Oh, we had already lost 300 bucks for travelling in a first class, so I could sense something was going to happen.

Final day, about to return to Ahmedabad from Bandra. So me and Golee are in a highly compressed local train (now I know why they say Mumbai is a very close-knit city), approaching Bandra where we needed to get off.

Then comes Stupid Mistake # 1. In a moment of Warren Mendonsa-induced madness, I look at Golee and blurt out, "The solo of Cry is amazing, man... " and proceed to air-guitar and produce random tones, which were meant to be an emulation of the solo. The usually musically receptive Golee told me to shut up and focus on getting out of the goddamn train. And indeed, Murphy struck as he was pushed out by an exodus of people, but I was pushed in by an influx. :|

So by the time I recovered, tried to abuse my way out of the train, it had already started moving - and to my dismay I realised it was a fast train. Next stop - Andheri! Time for our Ahmedabad train: half an hour to go! :D

So what does this genius do? Instead of getting onto the local back to Bandra, he decides going by auto might be quicker. (note, at this juncture, the author's adept technique of shifting to third person to absolve self of any allegations of inanity). Stupid Mistake # 2.

During this story, no doubt, all you Anshul fans (who have his teeshirts and are screaming his name, and are crying for just one glance of him) are no doubt perplexed as to where he is in this strange turn of events. Good question. Neither of us knew either. A quick phone call to him, and he said he was on his way to Bandra. Good. But the fact was, the ticket remained with me. I didn't think at this point it would be very therapeutic to bring up this minor monkey wrench-in-the-works. So I let it pass.

Then, comes Stupid Mistake # 3 of underestimating the Mumbai traffic and hoping the train would actually reach Bandra on time. The auto driver told me it was a no-brainer and told me it would be better to catch another train from Dadar. Seeing logic in this wise man, who had no doubt aided many a stranded journeyman, I proceeded to Dadar. When I informed Golee of the latest tectonic change in my travel plans, he was livid.

Anshul, in the meantime, was still nowhere to be seen.

Ten minutes later, Golee called to give me the momentous news of the train having left Bandra, proceeded to curse me, and ordered me to get to get to Borivalli, where the train would stop next. I sheepishly asked the auto driver if it were possible to get to Borivali in the next 10 minutes, and the look he gave me was the same sort of stare that would be cast on an asylum inmate by a visitor. I took the hint, and asked him to proceed to Dadar.

Still no Anshul.

At Dadar, I paid an exhorbitant 700 bucks for a single sleeper ticket. And while taking a break from questioning the agent's geneaology, I called up Golee to apprise him of the situation. Anshul, in the meantime, having missed the train at Bandra, boarded an auto which ran parallel to the train - and after a western-style chase, actually ran and jumped! :O

So there we were, Golee and Anshul in one train, me in another. Quite sorted, you would agree.

Right?
Wrong.

Then came the tickets.

Anshul pleaded and brought out the whole saar-please-I-am-a-student sob story, and was let off from paying a fine, and was ordered to get off at the next stop, which, luckily happened to be Surat (this probably happened when Murphy went for a toilet break). So he proceeds to call me, asks for the name of the train and joins me :D

In the end, we make it, in three pieces, to Ahmedabad and proceeded to the alumni party on campus.

Oh, and the other Metalheads had their share of Murphy too - a gang had bought a full 'haul' to beat the 'dry'ness of Gujarat (if you catch my drift), and left it in the trunk of a taxi. Good thing they didn't leave milk behind, that would have been an udder waste.

So that was it, another incredible story starring Chuck and Indian Railways.

This post is NOT dedicated to Iron Maiden, who caused all the trouble in the first place!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

CAT AND MOUSE

A rather adorable member of the feline species happily strolled into a friend's room here at MICA. With most people on campus averse to letting pussies... Erm, cats into their rooms, here was a happy jolly friend who seemed quite welcoming to the idea.

==

me: How was lunch?
Arati: havent gone yet..
me: Shall we?
Arati: sure..
only
there is a cat in my room
me: :O
Arati: under the bed...
:)
me: You keep him as a pet, or...?
Arati: it just walked in..
me: :P
Arati: what to do..

==

Anyway, the cute li'l critter (the cat, not the friend, although she comes close) inspired this post. You will soon know why it's called 'Cat and mouse'...




PS: For a bonus PJ on the same theme, go here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A GUIDE TO ETHICAL HOSTEL TOILET LARCENY

Let me at the very outset, make two things very clear:

1. I am against stealing. Taking what is not yours without the consent of the actual owner is wrong.
2. I love thin lines ;)

And in this case, there is a very thin line between stealing and, well, uhm, using stuff that people have left behind in a fit of idiocy or forgetfulness. I mean, it may sound quite stupid and may reek of double standards, but it's not. Allow me the liberty of an explanation.

When a starving Ethiopian, who hasn't seen solid food for the last two weeks comes across a sack full of good food in the middle of nowhere, with no address, with ostensibly nobody to claim it, he's not going to sit down, ruminate, wait and then pick it up when it's too late (spoilt, or worse, someone else eyeing it).

Cut to a similar scenario - hostels. When one sees shampoo bottles, toothpaste, soap and detergent lying in the toilets, there are two lines of thought he could pursue:

1. This is not mine. I did not pay for it. The rightful owner will realise his folly sooner or later, and will come back to claim it. Therefore, it is not correct on my part to take advantage of his forgetfulness and use it. That would be wrong and unethical and would be akin to administering an IIT-JEE exam on a dyslexic kid.

2. Okay, then. Obviously someone did not read the terms and conditions of the hostel. No responsibility for goods kept lying around. Now the bozo who owns this either does not like the flavour of the shampoo, or he just plain forgot to take it back. In either case, I can use it, because if he does not like it, I'm doing him a favour by helping him finish it off, and if he forgot it, well, he must be punished for the same. I mean, what if people go about forgetting things? What if the gatekeeper at Google 'forgot' the keys? What if Tendulkar 'forgot' which end of the bat to hold? What if the chief launch engineer at NASA 'forgot' how to switch the ON button? This stuff is here for the using, and boy howdy, am I going to use it!

I don't know about you, but I subscribe to line-of-thought number 2. I find it perfectly natural and there is no question of ethics. If someone doesn't like the flavour of the 2-gallon bottle of shampoo that an obscenely rich uncle bought him from the Gulf, then he would obviously want to keep it in a common place where everyone can use it, right? I myself was highly disillusioned with Savlon Hand Wash (J&J, take note) and kept it on the sink where everyone could use it.

I know that there are many amongst you who will be writhing from the inside about my methods. But it's not all that bad, really. I never said anything about purloining things from the toilet and keeping it for yourself. Now that again, would be wrong, because you're denying everyone else a chance to use the stuff, hence taking away from the purpoted intent of keeping it in a common place. Use it, I say - use it liberally. Even if you're as folically challenged as I am, take enough shampoo to wash a dirty panda with - but for heaven's sake, don't flick the thing and keep it in your room. How cheap is that?

You could, of course, wait for a week, and gauge how many people are using it. If there is no perceptible change in that one week, you can safely conclude that nobody likes the flavour, and by flicking it, you cause no harm to the student community at all. In this case and in this case only, is it ethical to indulge in kleptomaniasm.

So there you are. Believe me when I say your monthly FMCG bills can be lowered drastically.

PS: Moving the shampoo to somewhere in the loo where noone can see it is also not unethical. I mean, if someone wants something free, they'd better work hard for it!

DEDICATION:

This post is dedicated to the people in the Amaltas first floor, who over the last one month have left the following in the washrooms:

- Peach Handwash
- Strawberry-flavoured shampoo, 1 liter (!)
- Cinthol soap
- Aloe vera face wash
- Yet more Cinthol soap

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

THE MOST THRILLING ADVENTURE, EVER!

PROLOGUE

Now, people blog about all sorts of nonsense. About their opinions on the IPL, about shoes, about their favourite sitcoms, about book reviews, about their loved ones, about failed Frankenstein experiments and... Erm, never mind.

Now, I have blogged about all sorts of nonsense myself. What I truly lacked, of course, is an adventure of sorts. A live report sort of thing. Of course, you will agree that blogging is rendered difficult during the course of an adventure himself. Otherwise Superman would have done so himself, had not the act of handling a laptop computer in one hand, while using the other to inflict super(hu)man punishments on his enemies been slightly taxing and impractical.

Here, now, once again, in the Chronicles of Dementia, I present to you, a revolutionary new idea. Blogging while undergoing an advernture. And how is this possible, you, o sceptical reader, asketh? How, when even the mighty Clark Kent failed, can a Chemical Engineer-turned-MBA student succeed? Can the knowledge of the 4Ps and management pfaff prevail, where Kryptonite powers failed?

Ha, I say!

For I have come upon the solution - perform your adventure online! Yes, within the realms of cyberspace. Where a simple Alt+Tab can move you from your adventure to your textpad to write your post. But again, doubts remain in your mind. What sort of adventure can you derive online, you ask?

I have come upon the ultimate. It gives you thrills, goosebumps, uncertainty, your future in real life will depend on it, AND it involves money as well. What is it, you ask? We are talking here, o captivated reader, about nothing other than...

PART ONE: 03 JUNE, 11:52 PM

Indian Railways' online ticket booking.

No, really! Where one accidental 'backpage' can render you helpless and ask you to start all over again. Where one small error can land you in deep crap. And what makes it all the more exciting? Tatkal, of course :D

Now, the history is such: I needed to go to Mumbai on the 8th of June, following my internship at Jamshedpur. Now, me being the 21st century poster boy for procrastination, put off the ticket booking till until only a waitlist was possible. Now, in a fit of panic, the waitlist does not seem to be moving at all, leaving Tatkal and its various shenanigans my only hope to get my Mallu arse to Mumbai! Now my travel agent has failed to book a Tatkal for the 8th, and in a fit of frustration I tell him to book anything - even sleeper - for the 9th. You will, of course, know that Tatkal bookings happen 5 days before the train leaves, at 08:00 AM.

Now, I'm taking the onus upon myself as well. I'm getting up tomorrow morning, after analysing what train, which class, which will result in a loss if both agent and self book tickets, etc, and going to book one myself!

You may whap your head and say, what nonsense... Leave alone to blog about. But I assure you, I have hardly been under more tension. I can't sleep, in anticipation of the booking. I have practiced entering my User ID, password, name and all. Oh, and IRCTC is notorious for transactions stopping halfway through. I'll have to start all over again, and in those few precious seconds, dozens of tickets could be swept away.

AND to top it all, I'm using a fragile GPRS connection, and on a computer that is prone to go blank every half an hour - my stupid Acer!

So, the tension is in the air. Everything comes down to this now. 08:00AM, tomorrow morning. I'll be up at 07:30, do my finger exercises, practice typing my name a few dozen times. Phew. This is real heart-stoppin stuff here. The remaining part of this post will be typed out tomorrow.

PART TWO: 04 JUNE, 12:50 AM

Goodnight, world. When I wake up tomorrow, the stakes will be high, and the competition intense. Phew.

PART THREE: 04 JUNE, 07:52 AM

I've never woken up so early. Well, for a while, anyway, and that was only to take a leak. 8 minutes to go till I can book a tatkal ticket. I'm logged in, I'm ready, and I'm raring to go. Heart is pounding. I haven't been this nervous since awaiting my final year marks in college.
Now just two minutes to go... The tension is getting to me. No mails to distract me either...

PART THREE: The during

ARGGGH! It's started! Here we go! :D
'unable to retrive train list' :O
Re-login number one :|
Entered MCST instead of CSTM. Tension getting to me.
Only 18 tickets to go. That means 5 tickets booked in the last five minutes.
Re-login number two. Curse you, IRCTC.
I wish I had a better internet connection to do this. Should I need to do this again, I'll do it from office.
Yikes, browser acting up. Will I have to restart the computer as well? *tears hair out*
Typing this down is actually keeping me sane.
Only 14 more tickets to go. I hope to hell that my agent got one of those 9 tickets that have been taken up...
The second AC is already in Waitlisted mode! Why the eff to people want to travel so much? Why can't they just stay rooted to one place? >:(
IE sucks. Atleast this ordeal has proved to me that Firefox rules.
I don't mind if I have to swallow my previous words and IE comes up with something. For all its faults, it's always looked to be slightly stable. If only it didn't move like a snail held down by an anvil...
Online reservation not happening. Keep getting errors :|
BREAKTHROUGH! Oh my goodness, Mozilla has taken me to the neext stage! More tension now!
Only 2 seats left *groan*. Incredible. Lalloo, you fodder-straddling, scam-collecting twit, get us more trains!
Just one seat left. This is better than the IPL final.

In-fuckin-credible.

Payment made... Now for the painstaking wait for the confirmation page. Last ticket, at that. I envisioned this last night. Must look up alternate career as a prophecy-seer.

I DID IT! THE LAST FUCKIN' TICKET IS MINE! Just checked the status on IRCTC, and there are no more seats left! I did it! I got the last fuckin' seat! This is bloody incredible! The most AMAZING, thrilling and fuckin' tense thing that has ever happened to me!!!!!!! :D :D

EPILOGUE:

I swear I'm not making this up. It's 08:39, an hour since I woke up, and what a rollercoaster it's been! Thank you Mozilla Firefox! No thank you, IRCTC, for making my life hell.

YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I'm going to Mumbaaaaaaaaaaaai! :D

I'm putting up this post five minutes after the whole ordeal. Should have probably kept blogger open as well. What an aadventure I say. I don't need to jump off cliffs and chase trucks with soft drinks for thrills - IRCTC can give you all that and more. Fear Factor should take a few leaves out of their book! :D

Friday, May 09, 2008

FOSTERS... AUSTRALIAN FOR WHAT?!

Oh, I just love this. Too much, I say!

Dr. Anubami Ramadoss, our dear ol' health minister, surely means well when he wants to ban all tobacco and liquour advertising. Fair enough, given that combined, both are responsible for more deaths in India per year than suicides relating to studies (or the lack thereof), and in a country as educationally paranoid as India, that's saying something. So let's forget fag or booze as far as advertising is concerned.

Now, a simple mandate like that can't stump our account planners and media planners, now, can they? Oh, no, no, no. Companies go one step further and the end result is, and forgive me for laughing everytime I see this, is packaged drinking water made by breweries... Too much! Just look at the Foster's ads during the IPL... Refreshing Australian Packaged Drinking Water? As opposed to? Dehydrating Indian Loose Vomiting Water? It would be great to see an Australian see this ad - what sacrilege, I say... Remember the uproars when a French Lingiere tried to use the name 'Darjeelig'? Imagine the insult to an Australian when beer is marketed as water! Hoo-ha!

The second tactic, of course, is to record a music album with vocalists who can just about carry off a tune... And end up calling it something like McDowell's number one Collection, or Bacardi Blast, or Royal Stag cacophony, or whatever.

Method three is to check whether your surname is Mallya - and then go off and start an airline. The most hilarious extension of this, being a recent ad in the papers - where, flaunting off their fifth team endorsement in the IPL, pictures of five of the players and copy like 'Kingfisher Premium' and a backdrop that could be nothing but chilled beer! And if you look carefully enough, possibly with that electron microscope every house should have, you will find the text 'Premium Airline' tucked away in a deep, dark corner. Ah, it's only an airline advertisement. I thought someone violated Dr. Ramadoss! Shudders!

The good doctor, nastilly referred to as 'Killjoy' by one publication, surely means well. But there is nothing that he can do to stop brand extension and surrogate advertising. It could be a strategically placed bottle of Old Monk in a movie, or seeing a Smirnoff bar of soap in the supermarket. And anyway, I always believed word-of-mouth is more important. First-time drinkers always seek the advice of more experienced drinkers before taking the first plunge.

Maybe one day, the good doctor will come up with someting. But till then... Foster's drinking water... *rolls off chair in hysteria*

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

UP IN THE SKY... IT'S BIRD... IT'S A PLANE... IT'S A DLF SUPER SIX!

Okay... I just HAVE to put this down... Recently, like every other self-respecting Indian cricket fan, I have been glued to the IPL... No, no, this is not another of those blogs espousing or denouncing T20 crricket... I am a firm convert now...!
This is to vent my disgust at how some marketers go overboard.

Okay, I'm a student of advertising and like any other MICAn worth his / her salt realise how important each and every one of those ads and visuals are to companies that dole out crores and crores to grab viewers' attention. So we have come to live with ads and cricketers who look like moving billboards. Yeah, all that is fine, because one thing is kept intact - the game itself. The cricket was still happening, the viewers could see whatever was happening, irrelevant space between overs were getting filled up. Fair enough.

But then, disgusting things happened. The replays of the last ball started getting eaten up. And that is particularly irritating when the ball is a jaffa or the shot is one Mr. Benaud himself would have went 'ah' at. This trend was started by Doordarshan, but we really didn't care to complain because they're crap anyway, right? But now you have private channels that do this and that is disgusting! I don't know about you, but I think the SETMax-isation of cricket was one of the worst things to happen to the game in India. As entertaining as cricket is, SETMax is a goddamn movie channel!

Anyway... Coming back to the point at hand, this ad-diction eats away from the over and spoils the viewing experience.

Another highly irritating thing this series has brought out is the commentators ostensibly endorsing products on-air. Every time someone hits a six, the commentators instantly go on the 'another contendor for the DLF maximum sixes award!'. At first I thought it was just an allusion to the contest but as sixes started coming, it became more and more evident... The horror... Are commentators actually being paid to SAY the name of the product on-air?

I've watched cricket long enough and know that no self-respecting cricket commentator would deliberately do that!

Initially, Vodafone and Godrej jad very irritating within-screen ads which had loud music and obliterated what the commentators were saying. Thankfully, someone had his head screwed on right and now the music does not play.

We know cricket is a commercial medium and all that and marketers are desperate to get a piece of the pie... But the moment you actually ruin and destroy the viewing experience, things have gone too far.

Makes you wonder sometime, where cricket is heading. Someone once described cricket as a ten-hour advertisiment show with odd breaks to show men in pyjamas playing with bats and ball. Now we run risk of watching even that!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

THE AUSTRALIA THAT WAS... THE AUSTRALIA THAT IS.

Circa 1987. A man called Allan Robert Border took a risk in the final of the most prestigious cricket tournament in the world... And a risk that paid off. A risk that ended up taking his country on an unprecedented cricketing trajectory - an upswing that few could have imagined possible.

Circa 1998. Mark Anthony Taylor leads his merry men on a tour of Pakistan, one of the Kangaroos' few unconquered terrains. Ending the day with 334, and a very realistic chance of achieving the greatest individual record in cricket - Taylor throws it away to give his team a chance of winning.

Circa 2008. The image of the Australian cricketer is at an all-time ebb. People don't care that Ricky Thomas Ponting scored one of one-day cricket's greatest centuries to help win the 2003 World Cup. Or the fact that Andrew Symonds played a scintillating 141 to beat a daunting Pakistan in the same event. What they know now is that Australia are a bunch of sissies, a bunch of schoolkids who can't take what they give, and a team - if they don't do something about it quick - which is on the decline.

Before I run the risk of sounding biased, let me say that I am as much a fan of Australian cricket as anyone. I think their strategy of going at atleast 4 an over and giving themselves enough time to bowl out the opposition twice was the best thing to happen to Test match cricket.

It is also to Australia' tribute that many of the greatest matches in the 21st century feature against Australia... I mean, sample these:
  • India beats Australia, after following on, VVS Laxman playing India's greatest ever innings of 281.
  • South Africa chasing down 434 in what was quite simply, the greatest ODI of all time.
  • New Zealand chasing down 340+ scores twice in 2007.
  • Mark Butcher's innings of 173 against them in the 2001 Ashes.
  • The entire Ashes 2005 series!
  • Mohammad Ashraful's heroics against Australia in the ODI series in Holland.
  • And many more. Infact, I can only think of Nathan Astle's blitzkrieg against England (222) as the non-Australia really-great-innings in the 21st century.
Anyway. What went wrong? To me, it all started with one of the most overrated cricketer in history, Stephen Rodger Waugh. Yeah, yeah, he was a good batsman, and his greatest strength was keeping his cool. But hell, come on... He wasn't as great as the media makes him out to be.

So he goes to a charity in Kolkata? Big deal, everyone, Ozzy Osbourne included, does charity.
He's got a red towel which apparently is part of legend. Oh, please.
He scored his second, yes, second, ODI century in the 1999 World Cup. Yes, that was a good innings, but statements on the line of 'history does not recall a captain in a tougher situation' are unwarranted. The fact that he scored over 10000 runs is a partial function of the fact that he played well over 150 matches. Mate, if you're playing 150 matches as a captain and don't have over 10000 runs, what are you doing in International cricket when people like Mike Hussey and Stuart MacGill are knocking on the doors?

Okay, so Stephen induced a win-at-all costs sort of mentality into the Australian team. Sledging became more personal, using the media to intimidate teams became a tactic. Excuse me, where is the 'fair' in 'play tough, play fair'? All the hoopla over his retirement... Bollocks! Adam Gilchrist did more than Steve ever did for Australian cricket and was not accredited half as much hype. But hell, we all love Steve don't we?

Let me not bitch about him, and let's get right to the real culprit. A person who has been more abused by Indians on Orkut communities than anyone else in the world. Sample this: "changing from yellow to green and gold might've just changed the appearance but still they're the old yellow s**t"

Then Ricky took over. Things got worse, and came to a head in Sydney 2008. For all the rest of the world's whining about their hard tactics, Australia would shrug and say, this is a hard game, you've got to take it. Fair enough, that. Then why, mates, can't you take it back?

Why, oh why, can you abuse someone's parentage, and then squeal when someone calls you a 'monkey'? You score one run in the finals, and have the effing audacity to blame your teammates and proclaim the fact that the dew did you in? Hell, just accept you were second best on that day! My dear fellow, remember that stump you received as a 'Thank you, try again' prize in the finals? I'm sure thousands of your countrymen might want to literally translate a rather popular Hindi song whose initials are GMD, and stuff the thing right up your posterior... For bringing Australian cricket to shame and disrepute.

In my mind, there is no doubt that Australia have been protected by white-skinned mofos of match referees who still live in Apartheidian eras, who think that anyone with melanin in their bodies are not allowed to appeal over 20 decibels. Sure, Glenn McGrath can ask everyone else how their wives are, but the moment a mention is made about his own, he turns violent, as he did against Brian Lara. And yes, Mr. Symonds - at a point of time, one of my favourite cricketers - provokes Ishant, and then Punter comes in when Ishant retaliates, and gets the pacer docked 15%of his match fee. I guess they've practiced doing that, now.

There needs to be some major attitude re-jig here. The world has finally woken up to the fact that Australia may be a great cricket team, and there is no doubting pure talent like Michael Clarke here, but finally, the image of a team moves beyond performances.

The icing on the cake was when Ricky Ponting said that the third final of the CB series would not be required. What he did was, hand the final nail and a hammer to the selectors, jump inside his coffin and say, "Go on."

It's been nice knowing you, Ricky. Maybe now, we can get back to some more of that Borderian, Taylorian cricket that took Australian cricket to where it was before you attempted to ruin it. I cannot wait to see what the IPL crowds have in store for you. Like a brilliant post on that Orkut community said, "ab to mazza tab aayega jab ipl mein ganguly usse 12th man banayega paani laane ke liye"

==

One last footnote, which I read from somewhere on the net:

Andrew Symonds 2005
Symonds may have dominated headlines in the last couple of months for his mouth, but early in Australia's 2005 Ashes tour he was dropped after going out on an all-night drinking binge on the eve of an ODI in Cardiff and returning to the hotel as his team-mates were coming down to breakfast. Symonds passed out in his room and room-mate Michael Clarke had to stand him under the shower to wake him. Although he made it to the ground, Symonds raised the suspicions of Ricky Ponting and John Buchanan when he slipped off a wheelie bin while doing his stretches. He was banished to the dressing room and dropped. He later admitted he had thought: "Ah, it's only Bangladesh, a little bit of fizz won't be a worry." Later that day, as the hangover kicked in, Bangladesh recorded their first one-day win over Australia. Symonds was suspended for two matches.

Ricky Ponting 1999
Aged 24, Ponting was struggling to hold down a place in the Australian side and had already been in more than his fair share of trouble when, after a failure in an ODI against England, he went to a nightclub in Sydney's Kings Cross district. Many drinks later there was a scuffle which ended with Ponting being thumped by a bouncer. Unfortunately for Ponting, his ignominious exit from the club was snapped by a photographer for the Sydney Morning Herald. Although the story didn't break, the Australian board took the initiative and made Ponting face the media, where he admitted he had little recollection of events. "I have to admit to myself that I have a problem with alcohol at times and I intend to overcome this problem," he said. That he did, seeking counselling and turning his life around, even though many said he was too far gone.

==

Saturday, February 09, 2008

GENIUS...?

genius [jeen-yuhs]
an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work in science, art, music, etc.
- Dictionary definition

When I was in my tenth, I came across an article in the SportStar written by Vijay Lokapally (or was it Nirmal Shekar? I really can't remember) about 'Genius' that redifined the way I looked at the word.

The article started off cricket-commentator-bashing who seem to think that anything that crosses the boundary or yields a wicket is 'genius'. And then goes on to describe how some moments in sport are sacrosanct - a Maradona's run in the 1986 World Cup against half of England - for one. Only can some select moments - moments of sheer inspiration coming to an otherwise good, or at best, great sportsman.

So, what do we draw from that? Can no man be a genius perpetually? Is genius just a glorified topping to a brilliant performance that 'just' happened? Is genius being taken over by a surreal force for a brief while?

Coming to think of it, a Maradona running rings around football teams (like he made Best and Co. look like gawking mannequins that eventful day) in every match would turn out to be rather boring. So a Lokapallian 'genius' has to be rare. It cannot afford to be commercial or guaranteed of every match.

Fair enough. I've seen dozens of Tendulkar's innings. But the one shot that remains in my head is the India-Australia clash in that amazing series in 2001. The game was in Chennai, and Shane Warne was looking to redeem himself. Getting a bit of bounce, he managed to beat the Little Master a couple of times, before getting one to bounce well outside off. Sachin first ducked, then, it was almost as if the world were in Wachowskian slow-motion - as the ball came, and was about to cross. Tendulkar's initial plans were to let the ball go, but something seemed to come over him, and he seemed to say, "Hell, why not?" and just propped up the blade of his bat - and ever so cheekily - nudged it over slip, for four. It was stunning. Nothing in his previous 12 years of international cricket could have readied him for that - neither could anything Achrekar taught him in Shivaji Park, or the Don in whatever they conversed about in Adelaide. Warne couldn't believe it.

The SportStar (let's assume they are the ultimate authority on 'genius' for the sake of argument) said: "The shot of a genius, which Tendulkar surely is."

But then, it's all so subjective, isn't it? Was it truly genius? Let's assume for a moment that the shot was a well-rehearsed one, and he spent months asking a net bowler to pitch one exactly the same way Warnie did at Chennai, and he perfected that cheeky shot. Now had he done it that way, it was obviously calculated, and not borne of inspiration. Could that shot, now taking this into context, be termed genius?

It's something that's bugged me for a while how exactly do you categorize? For instance, the Gatting ball was, of course, sheer genius - right? Popular culture says so! It was Warne! First ball in England - and that too, to Gatting. How could it be anything but genius?
But then, the Lara ball which Glenn McGrath took en route to his hat-trick? That was the result of the same bowl-at-off-and-bore-batsman-into-doing-something-stupid ball. Would that be termed genius?

Okay, let's look away from cricket. Say in a Mathematics exam, a usually dufferish student suddenly gets a bright spark and solves a problem - that comes pretty easily to an average student. Genius? There are many times I've done exams and some questions I felt I tackled particularly sexily, I feel like giving myself a pat on the back. But d-uh, everyone else did it too, didn't they?

Coming back to cricket - how long can 'genius' constitute? Was Laxman's 281 a piece of genius, or just teeth-gritting, hard work? Surely, Ian Botham's 181 was genius? Could Rahul Dravid's masterpiece of a 148 be knighted with the G-word? Astle's 222? Akram's delivery to break Vaas' off-stump into two? Lasith Malinga's 4-in-4? John Davison's century in 67 balls? Each of these bring such flooding memories - but are they really genius? When Lara hit that magnificent four to go from 149 to 153 and take the West Indians 2-1 up against a rampaging Australia, the word 'genius' was blazoned from all corners.

Is genius inversely proportional to the time in which it is done? We would not accept that we are in a warp in which genius is happening - we as humans would like to think that whatever is happening around us is pretty normal. So Lara's 400 could not be genius, could it? But Jonty Rhodes' runout of Inzamam-ul-Haq in 1992? Oh, of course - that should be genius, right?

But then, writers and commentators use the term 'something special is happening'. Like when you watch Sachin Tendulkar make mincemeat of the Australian attack en route to 143 at Sharjah. You KNEW something special was happening. That was genius, right?

So, who is capable of genius? A to-be-legend cricketer at a packed Arab venue? An ageing basketball player playing his last game? A novelist who breaks his latest masterpiece to the world? A painter, who intended to just finish off his colour tubes but created a sensation instead? A bagger at a retail store who, going unnoticed to the world, places items in a plastic bag perfectly in a moment of inspiration? A blogger trying desperately to write something?

We may never answer these questions - and they definitely are not meant to be answered. Some things like 'genius' are just ways of interpreting something - that may be pretty much layman for everyone else.

"Oh what a shot... Straight out of the ground... All the way for six! What a player! Sheer genius!"
- Tony Greig, on Sachin Tendulkar, during the desert storm 143

Saturday, January 19, 2008

WHY PaGaLGuY, YOU ASK?

NOTE: Though I wrote this post on Jan 1 2009, I'm changing the date here because I don't want it to appear on the front of the blog.

Alright, this is an angry post, and it's coming on the back of some people indulging in their favourite activity - peeving me off about PaGaLGuY, and why I love it so much and shit like that. If you've asked such a question and take offense or are taken aback by the sarcasm, I'll consider that the purpose of this post is achieved.

So here, I'm going to answer some of the questions I've been asked in the past. I usually shrug them off with a joke, but now I have to get it off my chest.

Q: Why do you love PG so much?
A: Was my first source of information about MICA, made many friends there, and I love the community feeling. Have lots of friends there.

Q: Uh-uh. Virtual friends.
A: Yes, virtual friends. All over India to boot. I don't have to worry about having a place to crash in for a couple of nights. And what's the big deal with 'virtual' friends, anyway? Some of my best friends are people I've never met (oh, sorry, you still live in the 20th century?) in person.

Q: You can't trust 'online' friends.
A: I agree. Especially when all you restrict the research to make up that sweeping statement to Orkut and people who go 'u luk v pretty cn v b franz plz'. Oh, good job, genius.

Q: Alright, alright. So coming back to PG? Why do you post so much there?
A: Ever heard of freedom of speech?

Q: But I think you post too much.
A: Click the 'X' button on the top right.

Q: Stop evading the issue. Why do you post so much with regard to MICA on PG?
A: Because I like discussing. I had a lot of doubts (which got clarified) and I clarify a lot of doubts that other people post. Are you going to make your 'offline chatterbox' shut up just because he talks a lot?

Q: I still think PG is overrated.
A: You're probably right. Now try convincing 3 lakh people who are registered users of the site.

Q: I think you posted a lot to make yourself visible. A lot of seniors did know you before you landed on campus.
A: Just goes to show how jobless those guys were. In any case, if they were on PG to scout for people to rag rather than help people out, they are the ones who need a life, and not me (yes, this was supposed to sting).

Q: Help people out? Gimme a break...
A: Information about MICA is not too easy to come by. PG is a treasure trove of MICA information posted by a few seniors who felt compelled enough to help their would-be juniors. I am still an active part of the community, and look to help my juniors out.

Q: Oh, basically, you want to fool more people into getting into MICA.
A: Just because you spent two years sitting in your room jerking off and doing pot, doesn't mean that everyone who comes to MICA is a lazy fuck. If you're sitting and complaining about MICA having done nothing to you, then you're as responsible for it, for not getting off your lazy ass.

Q: Many people feel influenced by your posts. Do you not feel you're misleading them (actual question, I kid you not!)?
A: Dude, there is all sorts of information out there. Right from ponytailed morons trying to sell something better than IIMs, to people who talk about their BSchools on online forums. At the end of the day, if you're going to take a decision based just on what some idiot is going to type on a forum, then your own cranium needs a checkup. Do your homework on the institute, validate the claims, see if you fit, and then come to the institute. If anyone has come to MICA just because of what I spewed on PG, I feel sorry for their researching capabilities.

Q: Stop gassing.
A: And you stop questioning my right to do what I want. I'm not fucking with your life anyway, nor am I asking you to be a member of PaGaLGuY, or asking you to read what I write and criticize it. Go get a fuckin' life.

Q: Stop using that irritating alternate caps thing.
A: That's the way the name is supposed to be written. You may talk to PG's editorial team if you have an issue with the way it's written, and put forward your valuable points about how you think their market share will decline because of the semiotic implications of alternate caps.

Q: You're a show-pony. You started a thread on how to get through to MICA even before you actually joined. I mean, what sort of an attention-seeking dummy are you?
A: One that tries to give back to PG what it gave to me. Having been through two attempts at MICA, and interacting with a lot of fellow aspirants, I had a fair idea of how to get through to the place. I was jobless having got through MICA and quit my job, and waiting to join. And all the memory of the MICAT was still fresh in my head, and I wanted to put it down. And that thread has helped a lot of people. And since most of our seniors were more intent on searching for people to rag rather than try to be helpful...

Q: Alright, alright. So how long were you working with PG?
A: I've never worked with PG. I used to work for Accenture, Chennai. I did my internship at Tata Steel, Jamshedpur. And I'm going to join nautanki.tv, Mumbai.

Q: Whoa! You've never worked with PG! You might as well apply. They'll take you in with open arms!
A: Guess what, smartass. I did apply. And they raped me over three hours in one of the toughest interviews I've ever had. Make that the most difficult interview.

Q: Wha..? Why? I thought they'd take you happily seeing how much free PR you've given for them over the years...
A: And there are more people who give more free PR to PG, so shut your trap. It takes more than just yakking and rapping all over the site to get a job there. If getting jobs were that easy, the servers of half the internet companies around the world would be inundated.

Q: Alright, you've made your point. Why do you get so pissed when people needle you about PG?
A: Oh, you do your best to help people out, and all you get is flak from your seniors and your batchmates, who don't understand what it means to be a hardcore puy. Like an armchair critic who lashes out at Sourav Ganguly for playing a poor shot, when all the cricket he's done in his life is throwing an insect out of his bedroom.

==

NOTE: I've been a very active member of PG, and a proud one at that, for a very long time. Some of you morons just don't get what it means to be that. I can't blame you, since you probably still send telegrams to each other. PG has been instrumental in me getting through MICA and making some of my best friends. It's provided me an excellent platform to improve my writing, gain knowledge about a lot of subjects and help organize meets.

If all you've done is scoff while reading this, I really just don't care. I had to get this off my chest. If you don't like what I post or what anyone posts for that matter, remember that Firefox democratically empowers you with an 'X' button, or an addressbar so you can move on and make 'fraanz' on Orkut.

Peace.

DISCLAIMERS / NOTES:

@ PGP13: I still love (most of) you and think you were one of the best batches at MICA, ever. But this is something I wanted to tell you, long back.
@ batchmates: Oh, heck, I'm leaving on the 2nd anyway :P
@ Fellow puys: I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences at your BSchools. Would love to hear from you.
@ People who're wondering what the hell PG is all about: Here.