Friday, November 19, 2004

Here w'EGO'

Pronunciation: 'E-(")gO also 'eg-(")O
Function: noun
Inflected Form: plural egos
Meaning: Too little of it means that you dont have any self esteem and too much of it means that you are a pompous pig.

Errr....ok thats not a standard websters or an oxford definition of ego but its something that yours truly came up with after his 23 years of existence on planet earth.

I was just talking to this friend(ok thats carrying it a little too far...... someone whom I studied with for 4 years) of mine. She is a 'scientist' in ISRO now. The conversation started of like this:

X: Hey Long time no see
Me: Yeah how r u doing?
X: I am doing fine
X: actually Work is killing me you know
Me: Uh...same here..too much home work
X: Homework! oh yeah what r u doing?
Me: Masters in Electrical
X:sheesh! but do you like doing that
X: I mean its completely unrelated to what you did in your undergrad
On seeing that I was desperately trying control my temper. Thank God this was on messenger and not not face to face.
Me: Uh... well... yeah, X but over here everything from robotics to signal processing to control engineering getsclubbed into the EE program. So its pretty much a continuation from where I left.
X: Oh, thats good! but I personally feel that you can understand a lot of things only when you work in the real world. You know what I mean
Ok thats it She has gone way off the mark. Gritting my teeth, I was in two minds to just close the window.I didn't type anything for a while.
X: Hey...U there! Helloooooooo
Me: Uh yeah yeah I am there. I know what you mean. A job has its own pluses.
X: Yeah. Like I was saying ISRO is planning to send me to all the ISRO centres in India
Me: Hmm what for
X: They want me to do a study on how cryogenic instrumentation is used ina ll these centres
(Me Thinking...Cryogenicaaaa ok sounds too technical for my tiny brain...anyway I am not going to say 'WOW!!! way to go, cryogenic and all amazing'......I am going to be as indifferent as possible)
Me: Thats interesting! so when are you leaving
X: Uh in a month or so.
Me: Are you going alone or are there a group of trainee engineers.
X: Trainee Engineers!!! I am not a trainee engineer
X: I am a scientist, a gazetted officer. I can put an official stamp with my rubber seal and endorse legal documents
Me: Uh I am terribly sorry. I assumed that you were a trainee engg
X:No I am not

I could sense how furious she was . I have to play it safe here. She would probably ask Kalam to loan her a nuclear warhead using her ISRO credentials and shoot it straight at me.

Me: Well thats quite an acheivement X
X: You know its very difficult to get into ISRO. You guys did not even reply to my email

Well...what she is refering to here is the fact that she emailed everyone saying that she got into ISRO but only a couple of us congratulated her and I was one among them.

Me: Well I dont know about the rest but I replied to your email promptly.
X:You replied to Suresh when he said he was going to Australia.
(Me Thinking...what in the world is wrong with this female!!!)
Me: Uh I replied to your email too. I am sorry if it did not reach you. Anyways my hearty congratulations.
X: Thats ok. You know ISRO is going to sponsor my Mtech in Cryogenic instrumentation
Me: Oh thats super
X:You know where I will be doing it?
Me: No
X: IIT Madras

After hearing that let me assure you, I was absolutely not jealous but neither did I feel happy for her. I usually do, when I hear things of this sort. But I don't know the whole conversation irked me and I could only think of ways to politely end this chat session. X, I have a big boil on my behind and the doctor has advised me not to sit in one place for a long time...ummm what if she asks me to stand and type...well she is definitely capable of doing that. X, you overstuffed toad with a queen sized ego....Get lost....uhhh well that would be a little too rude.X, I have an early morning class tomorrow and its 1 am now I have to sleep.Cya later.....ahh now thats more like it.Jeez I never had thoughts like this since 9th standard when I wanted to desperately sit out of my Maths exam and finally had to act as if I had a severe case of stomach ache coupled with dysentry.

Me: Well awesome
X: Yeah I know
Me: X I have an early morning class tomorrow and its 1 am now I have to sleep.Cya later
X: I am very happy that I am in ISRO because I am able to work in something which I am comfortable at. You know I worked as a programmer in CTS but did not enjoy it at all.

I was almost about to type Lady, didn't you hear me!!!!!! Thankfully the Lord heard my prayers and I saw those relieving words appear on screen.

X: Oh ok nice talking to you, even I have some work. I have to type up a report for an important ISRO research project.
Me: Oh, ok . Cya later

Well, I logged out of yahoo messenger immediately but I was still thinking of people and their 'empire state' ego's. But the irony was if I didn't have one I shouldn't have felt anything odd about this conversation. I should have just listened to whatever she said, but I think I can safely categorize myself somewhere between being that pompous pig with a bloated ego and the person who considers himself inconsequential.

Friday, November 12, 2004

No Man's Land

Does the phrase ring a bell? Ok the phrase is actually the title of a movie based on the Bosnian crisis and more importantly from a desi perspective, beat Lagaan for the Oscar.

There are not many movies that occupies your thoughts long after they get over. Only the special ones manage to do that and this is one movie which falls into that category. If I were on the Oscar jury, I would have definitely cast my vote for this movie rather than Gowariker's Lagaan.

Ok enough said about how good the movie is. Now let's get to the plot.

A Bosnian platoon is bombed heavily by the Serbian artillery division as they walk towards a trench located between the Serbian and Bosnian fences. Only two Bosnians survive the onslaught. Ciki (Branko Djuric) gets shot in the shoulder but he manages to get into the trench. Ciki's friend Cera also survives but barely, he is badly injured and unconscious. The Serbian camp are not sure whether they killed all the Bosnians, so, they send two of their soldiers to go to the trench and check if there are any survivors. The Serbian commander walks into the mess and asks for two volunteers but no one acknowledges his presence, they all have a smirk on their faces and resume eating.The director captures the mood of the Serbian camp brillantly-they are a tired lot who just want to go home and get on with their life. The irritated commander picks two guys, Mustafa Naderevic an experienced soldier and Nino a green horn (who just joined camp that very day) for the task. Nino and Mustafa reluctantly crawl towards the trench, on seeing them Ciki hides. He patiently watches the two Serbian soldiers rummaging through the trench searching for survivors. Mustafa concludes that everyone is dead and gets hold of some bouncing mines from a bag. He then goes on about expounding his worldly wisdom on bombs and mines to young Nino. Mustafa thinks that Cera(the other Bosnaian survivor) is dead and plants a mine beneath Cera's body. He then proudly tells Nino of his cynical booby trapping capabailities. Meanwhile, Ciki manages to get hold of a gun and comes out in the open and shoots Nino and Mustafa. Mustafa dies but Nino gets shot in the abdomen and loses a lot of blood.

So there are two Bosnians and one Serbian stuck in no mans land and to make things worse one guy has a mine underneath him and if he moves everyone in the vicinty gets blown away. They have no one to trust, no way to escape without getting shot.The film takes a satirical view from the perspective of a Bosnian, Serbian, the media and the UN peace keepers.It is amazing how the director Tanovic has managed to shed light on an unbearably tense issue with a comic and satiric undertone. I do not want narrate the rest of the story as it would be really boring to read all the detail. But every frame in the movie is soaked with angst, helplessness, hope and bitterness. It reminded me of Animal Farm by George Orwell.

There is this one scene where Ciki asks Cera how he is feeling. Cera's answer " I am feeling great, I was shot and I lost consciousness, whan I wake up I have a fucking mine beneath me , I want to shit but I can't move and inspite of all this I have to listen to your bullshit"
Cera played by Filip Sovagovic does not move an inch the whole movie but the range of emotions he manages to convey is laudable. Sample this, he wants to scratch his lower back and so he asks Ciki to do it for him.
Cera:" lower, yeah...oooh...aah a little higher...yeah there...yeah thats the spot oooh aah"
Ciki(dutifuly scratching Cera)
Cera: " Hey Ciki I need to use the toilet "
Ciki(perplexed): "Uh ok piss in your pants"
Cera:"No its the other"
Ciki(immediately stops scratching Cera):" Ok do it"
Cera(sighs):"Its easy for you to say"

Here is a guy who has to wallow in his own shit because of a stupid and meaningless war. The United Nations peace keeping forces will not do anything because they do not want to be undimplomatic and as always the instruction given to their soldiers is "Sit on it!"

Hats off to Tanovic to make a film that is blackly satirical and hauntingly real!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Have you been shoe checked? Ok another way to rephrase that....."Welcome to America remove your shoes, belt uhh you can have your pants on"

Why are American immigration officials/Customs people so rude? I have travelled to a lot of places before, particularly the middle east and it is always horrendous because Arabs generally dont have a high regard for Indians or anyone brown or black for that matter. I always thought that things would be different in America or the UK because the people there are atleast a little broad minded. But I guess you just cannot make such premises without experiencing things first hand.

Once when My father and I had to transit via Dahran,Saudi Arabia we were shocked by the way an immigration official in the Airport talked to us. He first asked me and my dad to hand our passports and made us sit in a corner. The guy then just disappeared with the passport then resurfaced back after a couple of minutes without it. My dad always is very nervous when it comes to passports and he simply could not fathom the reason why they had to take away the passports if we were just transiting through the Dahran International Airport. So when the guy came back without the passport my dad went over to him and asked him where our passports were and why it was taken. The guy stared coldly at my dad and told him that he should speak only if he was spoken to. My dad just lost it but there was no point screaming at this doofus and especially in a country like Saudi Arabia, you will not be surprised if they will pronounce you guilty and chop your hands off.

Something similar happened to a History professor named Ramachandra Guha. He was on his way to Berkley from Toronto to deliver a lecture. He was on a B1 visa which entitles him to receive a paycheck for 9 days at a time in upto 5 universities. But, the immigration official on seeing his VISA and the letter of invitation from berkley (which had his remuneration) told him that "you get paid so much for teaching HISTORY!, how is that possible?You cannot get paid on this VISA" and refused him entry. This history professor received an apology letter from UC Berkley which stated

expressing shock at "such discriminatory and unjustified exclusion", and anger at the "terrible injustice you had to endure... [from] these cretins". "Don’t give up on us. Hopefully, there will be a new president elected on Tuesday." I write this on Monday, but I fear that even if John Kerry wins, the paranoia towards the foreigner shall persist.

There was this biologist called Haldane way back in 1960 who was also requested to deliver a lecture in Columbia Univ. but refused a VISA as he refused to "name all the organisations of which you are or have been a member of affiliate since your 16th birthday (with inclusive dates)"

His reply was very interesting,

I do not know when I joined the Association of Scientific Workers or the anti-fascist front, or whatever. This visa form is unworthy of the land of the free and the brave.If I wished to blow up the Empire State Building or subvert the Republican Party I should doubtless be willing to sign false statements. But I happen to have a professional prejudice in favour of the truth.... It seems to be ridiculous that a great country like yours (or rather its government) should be so frightened of what I can do as to make such demands.

I just wish had the balls like Haldane did. But, I did quiver when they asked me to remove my shoes for the first time.. But I have taken a vow that I will express my displeasure if anything unreasonable was expected of me instead of just meekly submitting myself to their authority.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

IQ and Elections

People voted for Bush's "Morals" and "Strong stance adopted towards Iraq"
and his "Unwavering foreign and domestic policies". Morals = Anti Gay
Marriages and Anti abortion but Morals != Thousands of Iraqis and
foreigners being killed,mercilessly executed or tortured in Iraq beacuse
of one man's madness.So will they vote for anyone who just remains steadfast
in killing people and going to war?Well that was the feeling in my campus
atleast. I liked Moore's comment."The best thing about this election is
Bush cannot be reelected next time...phew!"

Here is an excerpt from an article

*****To mourn the triumph of George Bush—and make no mistake, it is a
triumph—would be an insult to the American people and American democracy.
The world's most powerful, affluent, intellectually robust, innovative
nation has elected a president much of the free world loathes.****

I find this a common trait the writer her mentions "Intellectualy robust".
I have interacted with quite a few international students who have
expressed the same thing....they always compare the American IQ to Bush's
uhh to pleasantly put 'comparitively lower IQ' just to emphasize the fact
that a country which has some of the best minds in the world have voted
for Bush. So this satistician Chris Evans puts things in perspective.
Maybe the bright people did vote for Kerry(the lesser of two no
means do I consider Kerry an ideal President but definitely he could have
been a better alternative)

To sum up one more article that gives you an idea about how BUSH-VOL.2 is
going to be like. A prologue of sorts by Seema Sirohi, Outlook

*****Will Bush finally begin building bridges around the world? The jury
is still out but the first news conference of the chosen one was not
encouraging. Bush declared he would work with all those "who share our
goals." In other words, "you are with us or against us." He boasted how
the "people’s will" was behind him (after four years of acting without it)
and the "political capital" he had collected. It didn’t sound like he was
turning a new leaf either on his domestic agenda or his foreign policy
projects.And Cheney and the neoconservatives have not shown signs of
mellowing either with experience or age. They see this victory -- by no
means a mandate because 55 million voted for Kerry -- as a vindication.
Danielle Pletka, of the American Enterprise Institute which serves as
Cheney’s brain trust, calmly declared a day after Bush’s reelection that
"force might be the only option" for Iran.

If this is the flavour of Bush II, not only Iran, but all others may want
to tread gently. The world is now faced with a hyper power struggling
internally with two visions/versions of itself while charting a course
that many fear. Yes, the bad dream got an extended run.******

On a personal note I am still recovering from the fact that my university
is not contributing too many bright people to the society.(Average IQ of
North Carolinians= 93). I have my doubts though, maybe coming to think
of it, quite possible because this thing was done before I joined State.

One more interesting article that compares the IQ levels of states and
the poll results by a satistician Chris Evans.

You can find a comaprative chart about Bush states and their IQ's Kerry
States and their IQ's. the results are as expected folks ;).

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Sorry couldn't think of a title more descriptive than this.

So, this weekend was the Halloween weekend where I got to see a lot of drunk chicks with skimpy clothes parading on Franklin Street , Chapel Hill . Some of them lost clothes by the hour(depending on how drunk they were) A lot of funny things happened in the parade. Some of the guys dressed themselves as Arabs/Osama (couldn't actually make out...hey it takes a lot of effort to switch your attention from attractive girls doing their sultry gyrations). These guys started mumbling something which was supposed to be Arabic and then they started shout Kerry Edwards and then part that I wished never happened....they started stripping....I am talking buck naked here. Once they were down to nothing they started jumping up and down singing something....then all of the sudden a guy dressed like bush starts chasing naked Osama and the crowd starts yelling.....I just moved out of the place as fast as I could. The most striking thing was a guy dressed up like Gandhi...I dunno what made him to.....but if he wanted to stand out from the crowd he CERTAINLY did..

Very Large Scale Integrated System Design is killing me. The last weekend was spent on drawing layouts of horrible transistors using the horrid Cadence tool. Sometimes during this excercise you would feel like a kid being shown MS Paint for the first time rather than a circuit designer. All you need is truck loads of patience and the amazing ability to pick and place things at an agonizingly slow pace. Yesterday night I had this really weird dream of a guy who wore a costume made of transistors designed by me....he has a plug coming out from his butt(hmmm Yeah that could have been a design flaw...hey after all I am human in my dreams too)....he holds the plug in his hands and yell at me...."Hey! If this thing screws up I ain't gonna look pretty." He plugs it into the socket ..... the whole thing goes kaboom and he gets electrocuted...he screams in pain and gives me a very disappointed look.

The effects of halloween and VLSI are taking a toll on my fragile body. Therefore I have decided to sleep for a solid 10 hours to neutralize the effects.

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