Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Paisa Vasool? Maybe not...

Yesterday I saw an India Premier League T20 match for the first time (first time? I hear you exclaim... the reason why I did not watch any match earlier are too complicated to be dealt with on this post), and walked away un-impressed. The match between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Mumbai Indians (what kind of name is that??) did not hold out too much promise in any case. But my reasons for not liking it are different.

Most important, I was not rooting for any team. It made not the least difference to me if one side was winning or the other. I dare say it would have been exactly the same had the Delhi DareDevils been playing (again, a name I do not sympathise with!). This robbed the match of any kind of excitement.

Next, the players themselves seemed kind of ho-hum about the whole affair. Ricky Ponting is the last guy I would want to be against if his national team is on the backfoot. But in this match, he seemed quite casual. In fact, I probably should not name names, because even the Mumbai players seemed to lack any kind of bonding. It was just a game to everyone (probably as it should be!)

Third, I did not like the garish golden/ugly blue helmets and pads that the players had on. It looked like a blooming circus show

Fourth, the match itself was pretty one-sided. Right from the first over. So much so, that I gave up after the first six overs, and returned for a very brief interlude towards the middle of the 2nd innings

Maybe this is a litany of negatives without reason. But I certainly do not see what makes it so attractive for everyone else. Apparently the whole nation watches little else on TV. Not that I disapprove - if this is what they want, this is what they should get.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Theatre of the Absurd

I always suspected that we are moving inexorably towards a police state in India, given the bleeding hearts not only in Government, but alas, among general society, who think that laissez faire is a concept best left to academia. They have all the answers, and they know best what is good for you, me and everyone. They are the proponents of the communist state!

I suspected it, and now I have evidence. Sample this, sourced from today's Economic Times. It first made me slack jawed in disbelief, then exceedingly angry, and finally just numb and confused. Am I reading this right? Is there something that I am missing?

(italics are mine):
Ban on pvt school teachers on investing in stock market mooted
20 Apr, 2008, 1041 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: Teachers in Maharashtra's private schools may be banned from investing in stock market if a proposal by the Education Department is implemented. Reason? The Department considers such investments as gambling. A proposal mooted by the education department says that the teachers in private schools in the state could invest only in cooperative banks and credit societies.

The Government has come up with a 'code of conduct' for secondary school teachers, including those in private schools. The draft code of conduct has been circulated among the teachers' unions. The proposal also puts restrictions on investments and business by family members of the teachers. If any member has an insurance policy, or is involved in insurance business or any other business, it needs to be reported to the Deputy Director of education, according to the proposal.

It also stipulates that teacher should not marry a person whose ex-partner is alive and also bars teachers from entering into a marriage contract sans permission from school management. The proposal also adds that marriage to a foreigner should be reported to the management.

The proposal also puts restrictions on teachers' participation in social or political movement and asks them to convince family members to do so. They would also be required to inform the management if a family member wants to contest election.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Connaught Place in pictures

Photos from walk described in earlier post (move mouse over photo to see label):

what a dainty lampposta bridge too far?sweet leisurenot yet trafalgar square!open ranges?

A walk around CP

Being a bit free in office, I just took off for a bit and went down to CP in the middle of the day. The bright sunshine and the happy milling crowds sparked off the thought that I miss out on this cheerful daily spectacle everyday for no reason! There is something about the magic of human contact, even though you may not know even a single person among the thousands walking by, that beats sitting by yourself in an air conditioned office all day.

Another thought that struck me was that Connaught Place really is quite pretty. The quaint architecture, the wide grassy lawns, the massive wide roads are all quite alluring. If only the honking of cars reduces a bit (which it will - CP is going to be a no-traffic zone from 2010), it would become comparable to the best town centers in the world (Marienplatz in Munich comes to mind).

Yet another thought was - what the hell was I doing in my younger days, when I should have been roaming about this place, without a care, like all the pretty and happy young people here? Sigh! Lost opportunities! When I was closeted with my books (actually I never was! I think it was mainly the computer and the intranet which kept me occupied :-) during college days, I missed out on this hugely relaxing aspect of life. And though I probably am reasonably well off today because of my education, I kind of yearn for the lost, carefree days when I could have chilled out in CP doing nothing.

And the final thought I had was that commerce is booming! Foodstuff is getting sold (literally) like hot cakes :-). The branded stores may not be selling too much, but good old value priced stuff is flying off the shelves and into shopping bags. Roadside pirated booksellers are doing roaring trade. Plastic is getting flashed a-plenty. I am not worried about falling home prices or subprime credit issues half-a-globe away!

I am sure I would have got more insights after imbibing a chilled pint or two of beer. The temptation was almost too strong to resist. If only I had someone to share it with, I would definitely have taken the plunge :-)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Genuine confusion

Something puzzles me about the Dahllies (that is Delhi for those unfamiliar with Delhi's 'sophisticates' and their accent). And that is the following:

If Vasant Vihar is VV
If Defence Colony is DefCol
If Punjabi Bagh is PBags
If Kamala Nagar is KNags
If Greater Kailash is GK
Why is South Extension not SEx???

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The new new thing

What is it with the IIMs? I always suspected that they breed some kind of a herd mentality (actually I'm being very harsh here - all education in our country has the same outcome!), but what convinces me is this new rush to publish books with an 'IIM' tag.

It was started by 'Five Point Someone' which was the first in its niche. It was followed up by some juvenile effort called 'Anything for you, Ma'am' or some such about life in IIT. And I have been the victim of 2 recent publications - one which was truly despicable ('If God were a Banker' - which tries to peg its tag to IIM AND Citibank), and the other ('The Funda of Mix-ology' - What bartending teaches which IIM doesnt) which, while not the absolute dumps, is nothing to write home about either.

And more to come - I already see marketing efforts for more IIM books.

My point is not that all IIM books are trash - it is that if you need to leverage your IIM roots to sell your book, why dont you write something half-readable? In my opinion, you are diluting the brand, and giving up your chance to stand out from a cluttered marketplace (this sounds suspiciously like what some marketing guy would say, and I am certainly very poor in that discipline, if my grades are anything to go by!!)

I still look forward to the IIM book which is a) relevant b) readable and c) purposeful. Hell, I may just write one myself!!

Why would I want Feedjit?

As some of you may have noticed, I recently put a couple of embellishments on my blogpage. These include a survey app and a very simple scripting app that tells me who visited my page from where and left from where (branded by Feedjit).

The survey has been a spectacular flop, with 2 votes so far (I must shamefacedly confess that both were me, to see how the damn thing works!!). But maybe that was because the survey question was un-imaginative. The other application is what puzzles me, once I sit down to think of it. Why would I want to know who visits my blog page? These could be some reasons:
  • I want to generate advertising revenues by showing off my multi-national readership (not the case, since this is a not-for-profit enterprise).
  • I want to tailor content according to readership (I dont think I am that good or versatile yet!).
  • I am curious (a bit, but not REALLY).
  • I go on an ego trip by looking at how many countries I have readership in!!

Of all these, I think #4 wins hands down. However, this application is an inaccurate barometer for measuring countrywide readership and getting grandiose thoughts of being a widely loved and respected writer :-) This is because a lot of internet traffic is routed via firewalls / filters / gateways which reside in the US / Europe. For example, whenever I was logged into my corporate network at my last employers, I would always show up as a US origin IP address. So there is not much sanctity to what Feedjit shows me.

It does have its uses though (mostly for reason #3). For example, looking at what the damn thins says right now, I notice that the last person to visit is from 'Petaling Jaya, Wilayah Persekutuan'.

Clearly, I am much intrigued by who could be living in 'Petaling Jaya, Wilayah Persekutuan' which looks like it is in Malaysia. I try to rack my brains about classmates / colleagues / friends who could be in Malaysia right now. Cant think of anyone. I also notice that I myself show as having arrived from 'Bombay, Maharashtra', whereas I am indisputably in Delhi.

In conclusion, I find this application not of much use, and have decided to remove it from this page! I aslo want to ask other buddies who have this application - What is your reason for putting the thing on your page?