Tuesday, July 29, 2003

People often talk about their culinary pursuits. How their first attempts went wrong. How the first omlette they cooked was scorched, and didn't have salt and yet tasted wonderful.

I cooked my first omlette this sunday. It tasted great. But surprisingly, it was neither scorched, nor did it have too much or too less salt. Okay, for the salt part of it, the credit goes to Anant, it was he who put the salt and chilli powder and raw egg and onions together, and produced the mixture. But it was me, who put oil in the frying pan, poured the mixture into it, turned it this way and that and switched off the gas right in time to get a perfectly fried omlette, not scorched, not overdone.

Of course there was a glitch. There had to be, I suppose. Being my first attempt, I didn't have any sense of proportion, and put too much of the mixture into the frying pan. As a result, while omlette was being formed in layers in the bottom, the top remained a mixture of raw yolk and onion. I tried to turn it upside down. The idea was to give all parts of it equal oppurtunities to cook, I am great believer in equality. Only, the egg had other ideas. It resolutely stood its ground and refused to overturn. What followed was an epic battle between me and the egg. Of course I won. I calmly finished the cooking, and gathered the pulverised remains of the egg on to a plate, and proceeded to eat it in triumph. So what if it was more of scrambled egg, than an omlete? It still tasted rather good.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

They know. You know. They know that you know. You know that they know. But they don't say so. So you don't either. And they go on acting natural. So you do the same. Nothing unnatural in the whole thing. As if nothing is different. But what's wrong if things are different? Different is not wrong. Different is not something to hide. So why all this play-acting? Why can't I declare aloud that I know, so speak to me without this deception, this mask?

And what good comes out of it all? A realisation. I thought I was their friend. I thought that they would tell me about it...something important. They didn't. I wasn't as close to them as I thought. So even if they know, and I know, and all of us know that the other knows, this must go on. Till they take the first step to change things. Will they? I do not know.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Firstly, I apologise to my readers for posting no posts for the past few days! I have been rather busy with work and a few extra-curricular activities. Secondly, I again apologise to my readers, because I anticipate the irregularity in the posts to continue for some more time.

Apologies done, a brief update on the past week. We lost the first match in the tournament. Our opponents were arguably the best team around, so experts say, and we still have a chance to proceed to the next round. On the work side, the past week has not been as productive as I would have liked it to be. I have finished or started quite a few of those million tiny tasks that remain associated with every project, so that's a plus point. On the main block design, I have completed the design part of it. Have a review next monday, and am sure things will be accepted all right. But still I am not really satisfied with the design. I can't point my finger to exactly what it is but I get a nagging feeling that things are not all right. Will probably find out soon, or get rid of the feeling. Let's see.

There was a review of a fellow designer's design today. (Most of my readers have heard me mention Sumeet's name, or are aquainted with him, it was his design review.) The review went on in a predictable fashion. People at the beginning were rather quiet, as always, getting the feel of the atmosphere. You have to be comfortable before you can attack! So the first few slides went of as people began to feel at ease. Then the onslaught began.

Of course it was expected and of course it is absolutely necessary. The single purpose of the review is to ensure that the design is perfect, and that is best for everyone. All aspects of the design are critically discussed. Lots of changes are suggested. In the end the designer feels that he has done nothing right. The reviewers then congratulate him on a good job and leave! I have gone through this experience several times, and now it does not make much of an impact, but the first couple of experiences will remain etched in my memory.

After the review is over, one is overcome with a sense of accomplishment. It is a divine feeling. One feels that with the review, the day's work is done. I never have done much work after a review! So I can foresee that the coming monday will be rather unproductive as far as I am concerned. My review is at 9 in the morning, with the whole day after it to bask in glory!

Read through the whole post once. I believe that this is the most boring article that I have posted so far! Lets see if a few interesting comments can make up for it!

Friday, July 18, 2003

Cricket is my favourite game. I started my cricketing career when I was about ten. For the first few years, my cricketing exploits have been limitted to what is known as 'Gali Cricket', 'Para cricket', et al, where the rules of the game are strikingly different from the normal form of the game which we watch on tv. The rules include dismissals like 'one drop one hand', which signifies that if the ball is caught one handed after a single bounce after hiting the bat, the batsman is out. The other popular dismissal is when the ball crosses the boundary without pitching, or hits the wall directly, whichever may be the case depending on the field of play. While the former makes the game interesting, keeping the batsmen on their toes in an otherwise batsman friendly environment, the latter rule arises chiefly from necessity...it is difficult to find the ball if it goes too far. This is the case for smaller grounds, or where the playing area is confined to a small piece of flat land available between several surrounding houses.

Our 'field' conformed to the last description. All my cricketing antiques were limitted to this small lawn till I was sixteen. It was here that I was dubbed with the title of 'Jadeja' (then an upcoming star, and known for his brilliant fielding) mainly for the enthusiasm with which I dived around for the ball, irrespective of whether I stopped it ultimately, or not.

I started to play in the 'bigger arena' when I joined a new school for std XI. (My old school had neither a playground, nor XI or XII standards!) At once I began to discover my hidden talents. For one, I could bowl as fast as anyone else, probably faster. This pertinent fact failed to impress my playmates however, since I seldom finished the over in less than 15 deliveries. As a result, I was not considered the ideal bowler, the captain of the team would look up to, when faced with a situation of having to defend ten runs in the last over. As for batting, I developed my own style there. The field had a peculiar shape with the thirdman boundary being much closer than the rest. I found this fact to my advantage, since I could nudge and cut the ball through that region, using the bowlers pace, and score as fast as anyone else. At one point of time, my 'slip' shots became every bowlers nightmare, and everytime I came to bat the majority of fielders would be shifted to that region. In fact in the last match that I played in that ground, throughout my innings (of 2 balls) nine fielders where placed in the slip and thirdman region, with a lone fielder watching birds at the legside boundary. I still hit a boundary through those nine fielders, before getting out caught in one of their hands.

In college, I no longer found this kind of play advantageous. I started hitting over the bowlers head. During these days, I started paying more attention to my fielding. I was undoubtably the worst fielder in school, but managed to pull myself up to average in college. I had discovered one intriguing feature about my fielding quite early. While I could easily reach and hang on to overhead catches single-handed (that is with one hand), I invariably missed any high catch which I tried to take using both hands. This is still true.

I have played some cricket after joining the company I am in presently. Here, I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of players, who are not much better than me.

The musings on cricket were triggered by an internal tournament which starts tomorrow. I feature in one of the teams from our group, as captain. The journey from 'Jadeja' in the small patch behind our house to captaining 'VRFAMouS' (We are famous / RF group and AMS group combined) has been quite eventful and full of highs and lows. It's rather pleasant to think back and remember all the interesting occurances that I have experienced in the course of this chequered career.

Monday, July 14, 2003

There are busy days, and then there are days that are not so busy. I don't know what today was. I mean I have been doing something or other since morning. I have completed a lot of those small tasks, that you keep till the end, and then you don't find time for them, because you had thought that they would not take any time. Which was probably a correct assumption, except for the fact that there were so many of them, that together, they constituted a major time-consuming job. So I guess, I have done some work today.

But still, it seems unethical to classify today as a busy day. The work pressure that keeps you glued to the seat, makes your head spin occasionally, or flashes five or six of those 'tweety birds' in front of your eyes, going round and round and round in circles, was totally absent. I did all these tasks because I wanted to finish them off. But the project deadline is still some months off. I could have stopped any time I wanted, taken a coffee break at my leisure, without affecting anyone or any schedule.

Curiously, I didn't take a single break today except for the lunch break and half an hour in the evening to attend a small celebration to welcome the freshies who have joined the group this year. I sent very few mails compared to other days, and none of the ones that I sent were particularly long. Anyway, sending mails during analog design is not a major 'time-robber' since you get a lot of free time in between tweakings of the design, when simulations are running. I used those gaps to multiplex between different modules rather.

There is a certain current limitting circuit that I need to design. Somehow this particular circuit has been evading my control for a long time now. In the previous project also, I had given up halfway through, unable to conquer this mesh of transistors, and thought up a crude replacement which did the job. This time also, it seems, I'll have to do something of that kind. My initial attempts in the morning to get meaningful results from this block were futile. I gave up before lunch, and went over to some other block. I'll have to try and tackle this nagging block tomorrow.

An unremarkable day, not a busy one, with no adventure, but I get a nice smug feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. Some days are like that.

Friday, July 11, 2003

I like to reach the Examination Hall at least an hour in advance for the examinations. It leaves me with enough time to take in the surroundings, be calm and comfortable, and get the feel of the place, before I start writing. I have always found the policy fruitful in all my school and college days. But everyone doesn't share my opinion.

Some people reach the Examination Hall just in time. They rush in in the last moment, barely seconds before the gong, snatch up the question and answer papers from the invigilators' desk, jump onto the alotted bench space, and immediately start scribbling the answers to question number one. I once had such a friend in school. In one particular examination, I had the dubious distinction of sharing the same bench with him. (We used to have 2-sitter benches back then.) On the day of the exam, I found him outside the school building, in his common pre-Exam state, sitting somewhere, holding a couple of exercise books in both honds. His mother stood next to him, holding one more book for him, and at the same time, fanning him with one of those hand fans made of bamboo. (It was somewhere around december, but then this fellow always used to be in a state of perpetual sweating!) His father was lurking around nearby, rummaging through his school bag, no doubt trying to find another book to hold in front of his eyes. I never could make out which book he was reading from at any moment, his eyes would just go from one to another at the speed of light. So I gave up, waved at him, (which he didn't notice) and went in.

I had settled down nicely, had a chat with my next bench neighbours behind me for a few minutes, then with those in front, then again with those in the back, and so on, till the teacher came in. Everyone became silent. The teacher took a glance around, eyes glaring, no doubt to convey the information about who was going to be the boss around there for the next three hours, satisfied herself that everyone had got the point, and then settled down heavily in her chair, which squeaked its protest. She grunted, pointing to the pile of answer scripts lying on her desk, and looked up at the ceiling with bored eyes. Again everyone got the point. We silently filed to her desk, picked up one paper each, and came back to our seats.

The first gong sounded. The assisstant invigilator (a certain lab assisstant by profession!) came in, carrying the bunch of question papers, and started distributing those. It was at this point of time that the teacher noticed that the space next to me was empty. She looked at me and enquired in a quiet voice, who the hell was the bugger, who was supposed to sit next to me. I meekly told her. She demanded to know where the hell that guy was, in a tone that convinced me that I was that guy's guardian and friend, philosopher and guide, all in one, and it was the most natural thing in the world for me to know where he was and why he was late. So I told her that he was outside, revising. The teacher gave me a cold look of disbelief and distaste, which would put all Aunt Agathas in the world to shame, and resumed her ceiling-staring.

Now it was my fault that I forgot about that incident in the tension of the moment. I should of course have remembered to keep an eye pointed at the door to welcome my benchmate. Had I done that, it would have saved me one torn page of the answerscript, and the hundreds of necessary explanations that came free with it. But like a fool, I didn't remember. In those days, we had to draw margins on all pages of the answer scripts. It was my habit to draw margins on all pages before starting any answer, and I was diligently doing the same, when the earthquake hit. For a brief shuddering moment, I didn't have any idea whether I was hanging from the ceiling, or walking on my hands. As things cleared down, and the layers of dust settled slowly, I drew in a breadth, and slowly peered around at the rest of the class, looking for casualties. Surprisingly, everyone appeared to be calm, and unaware of the debacle. It slowly dawned on me that it was the advent of my friend, that had caused the bench to shudder. I gave him a cold look of welcome, and went back to my line-drawing. The earthquake hit again, this time with more vigour. This time it took me less time to gather my wits and discover that my friend next to me was missing. He had got up to get his answer script. It was this second quake that caused my pencil to pierce through the paper, and result in the torn page alluded to above.

This time I was ready for him when he came back. I quickly removed the pen when he was about to sit, and avoided further damages. I sniggered at his forlorn expression, when he failed to harm me farther. I was under the impression that I was saved for the day, nothing more could go wrong. I was hopelessly wrong.

If you keep your answerscript on a clipboard, balance the combination resting on your thighs, and on the desk edge at forty five degrees, and scribble furiously with an aura of vengeance, the old wooden desks are bound to shake. I couldn't very well blame the desk for it. I gave up. I conceded defeat. I don't know how I managed to finish my own paper, or how I fared in that particular exam. I do remember that I requested for a separate seat for the rest of the papers, and was granted. But that one examination was an experience that I will not forget in a hurry.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

I am not the greatest of footballers the world has ever seen. Or India has ever seen. Or Bangalore. Or my friends. Ok, ok, I am a pretty bad footballer. I can defend up to a certain extent, even give a few passes to teammates lurking around the opponents' goal, but I can never hit a straight shot into the goal, execpt when I manage to hit straight at the goalkeeper. That is, I can never score goals.

Now what kind of footballer am I if I can score no goals? Thats what the people I play with always ask. Not always verbally but with glances that tell the tale, or whispering conversations among each other with an occasional finger pointing at me! Being the centre of everyone's attention is not always the most comfortable thing in the world.

I blame the world for the way my footballing skills are viewed. I mean, people have got all their priorities mixed up. Is scoring a goal the most important thing in the world? What good does scoring a goal do to the world? Does it reduce poverty, save Amazonian rain forests or spread literacy? Why, Escobar lost his life for scoring a goal. That too in the World Cups. Whats wrong if I hit a few shots off the mark? Its the spirit that counts. I have all the intentions of scoring goals. I should be respected for that.

Disagree? Like I care!

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Wanted to post a post yesterday, but was going through what is popularly known as a writer's block! I never thought I would face such a problem...you have to be a writer to face a writer's block. Who knew there is even a thing called blogger's block!

Even now that I am typing, I don't know how to proceed with the article! I always thought that free-wheeling on a piece of paper (or a 108 key keyboard) came easily to me. One of the reasons why I chose this particular title for my blog. But then, free-wheeling also requires the right frame of mind. You have to think freely to type freely. I don't know why I am not being able to think freely for the past few days. (Hence all those one-liner posts!)

I had thought about a lot of things to write. I had even decide how to write all those articles. What examples to use. What catch phrases to slip in! Now that I am sitting in front of the comp, however, all those thoughts and ideas are escaping me! Hopefully better luck next attempt.

Anyway, since I have started to type, I may as well bore the reader with the details of my weekend! No reason why you should be interested in what I did in the weekend, but since you are reading, you don't have much of a choice! You can of course stop reading and click the small 'X' button on the top right half of the window, or press Alt - F4, but somehow I have the idea that you are not going to do so. So here goes.

Friday evening, don't remember what I did.

Saturday morning, played football, was leading when ball burst! Afternoon, watched Roman Holiday (second time, loved it again) and Reservoir dogs (not as good as I expected) on VCD. Evening, reloaded Matrix for the second time. Didn't like it again. But then I was hardly paying any attention to the 'enjoyableness' of the movie.

Sunday evening, went for a cultural program arranged by BITS Pillani. The fusion music played by the young generation alumni was great. Apart from that it was pretty boring, specially the part when anyone who was given a chance to speak, went on praising BITS and BITSIANs. Don't know if I would have enjoyed it any more had I been a BITSIAN.

Have been reading All Creatures Great and Small (James Herriot) for some days now. In fact it has been a couple of weeks since I started. Never happens that way with any book. (Except Lord of The Rings.) Am not enjoying the book at all. The first couple of chapters may be good, but then things become too monotonous. And stay that way. Till page 340 (as far as I have managed to read so far). Have decided resolutely to finish by tomorrow, so that I can move on to greener pastures that have been waiting for long. I don't like to leave a book halfway through.

So you are still reading? Sucker!!

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Didn't imagine it could tell me that I was thinking about a rock, and then a notebook!

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Somshubhra's Law of Design Simulation:

"Whenever something goes drastically wrong with your simulation results all of a sudden, look for careless mistakes in your testbench, do not doubt your design."

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

It feels great when you are walking down the thronging crowds of M.G.Road with her. You don't have eyes for anyone else, but her. You don't notice when your close friend comes next to you, stops, looks at you enquiringly, and seeing no response or signs of recognition in your eyes, heads away, not wanting to interrupt your te^te-a`-te^te. Nor did my friend!

I don't have a girlfriend. I have many girl-friends (i.e. lady friends...friends who are also girls!), but none of the non-hyphenated version. I don't now if I give the impression of being the universal brother, the attentive ear with whom you can confide your deep secrets, but that does occasionally seem to be the case. I have several close lady friends who talk to me about their boyfriends, about what they hope their boyfriends will do or tell them, about how they are going to dress up to impress their lovers. Once I even had a married girl telling me, in a state drunken hysteria, over the phone, from a thousand miles away, the problems of her married life, and the wrongs her husband did her. (I didn't quite agree to her opinions of what is wrong, but that is beside the point.)

I have a close friend, who is having an affair with another close friend of mine, a guy from my school. This particular lady surpasses everyone else for the numerous and varied uses she find for me. For most parts, she probably mistakes me for her audio diary, one of those electronic gadgets, where you press the 'Record' button and unravel your woes and delights and accomplishments! While listening to some tragic tales of her misery, I had, once or twice, tried to offer a few words of comfort, but I soon found out that my soothing offerings fell on deaf years...I was not there to speak, she never paused to listen to what I had to say! She just spoke, and I just listened. On a particular occasion, she found out a rather innovative use for me. Her intentions were to use me as a hanky, that people leave lying on seats to mark their territory, while they are away! That is, I was supposed to sit next to her, lest someone else took the seat, till her boyfriend came! I am ashamed to say that on that particular occasion, out of some false feeling of dignity, I denied accepting the position!

I have good 'normal' friends as well, girls with whom I occasionally exchange greetings, inquiries about their and their associates' health and other pleasantries for forty minutes or an hour on phone. I have friends who are slightly older than me, and are pleased when I refer to them as didi. I have friends with whom I communicate only by emails, and don't even know their phone numbers (although I know them personally). I have many girl-friends. But I don't have a girlfriend!