Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

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Reflections of a new traveller

August 18, 2010

So I did my first (of many many) trips to East Lansing and back last weekend. I had N as company on the way over, which was fantastic, as it was the first time I was solo driving a 300+ mile route. Long worn travellers will probably scoff at this, but to put this in context, my next longest drive has been to Dayton and back, which is a 120M round trip.

Here are my essentials for a road trip:

1. A good music system: My car radio is just that – a radio (even though there are buttons marked CD and TAPE). There are 4 speakers, though at this point only two work (as far as i can tell), and it has 2 volume settings, low and very high. Not ideal.

2. Well planned stops: I just entered the address in the GPS and hit go. It was two hours into the drive that I started hankering for a Starbucks. Before realising that there are literally no Starbucks coffee shops between Bowling Green and East Lansing. (I did see a Timmy Horton’s though, of all things).

3. Good company: This is the most important aspect of a long drive. While going to E Lansing, we hit a thunderstorm for about 45 minutes and reduced visibility to about 20ft. But we were having such a great conversation, it wasnt really that big of a deal. On the way back, I was so bored that I tried doing a monologue to see how long I could keep it up. It turns out that I really don’t have as many interesting thoughts as I may have thought. Mental note to not do that again.

But my biggest problem with the trip was the uniform non-niceness of the roads. Seriously, while the roads are fantastic for going from point A to B (I could’ve done most of the trip without stopping once), they are very lacking in the seriously scenery department. Or maybe it was just the roads I decided to take. Anybody has any idea on how to find scenic routes to a destination?

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Summer again!

May 24, 2010
Hmm, again, its been a while. Leaves have fallen, whole rivers have changed courses since I last wrote a post in this blog (or any other blog, for that. I don’t want to give the impression that I have other. better blogs to write for. I just un”blog”ged for a while).
This is going to be a rather personal post. So all casual readers can skip this one. For the one remaining reader, a lot of rather interesting things have happened since I wrote last. In chronological order –
1. We won the Regional Case Competition in Pittsburgh sometime last year. beating Carnegie Mellon, among others. Ha! (We also went to Vegas for the finals, but didn’t win there).
2. N came for a month, We did a fabulous NY trip with P and S. (And she came again a few months later, when we went to NJ and I fell in love again. With her niece).
3. B came over to the US for P’s graduation, and we surprised her (S came over from Canada on a day when snow was falling, and neither man nor beast was about. It was the stuff of romantic blockbuster movies. Karan Johar would’ve loved it). It was also one of the more emotional moments of my US career.
4. I got a job at dunnhumby. If I could’ve written down my personal specifications for my dream job, it would’ve come quite close.
5. I bought a car (and passed my license test – with heroic difficulties, but that’s another story). I love my car.
6. Oh, and I graduated (with honors I think, but the university only awards a degree to the graduates, while going all french on the undergrads).
But for the last, and most important thing that has happened in my life over the last couple of years. N is finally coming here to do her MBA. The clouds are parting, and sunlight is shining through. Its been a while, and I can’t wait.
Touch wood.
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Harry Potter and the Gaping Plot Holes

March 25, 2009

So I was sick and delirious a couple of weeks back. It was the flu, but sitting (or lying down) alone at home rather exacerbates the situation. Next time I’m sick, I think I will go to Disney Land (or take a couple of Advils and watch Top Gear, it comes to the same thing).

So anyway, you know how you read comfort books while you’re sick, and I was reading the Harry Potter books again, specifically the fourth one, the goblet of fire.  And reading retrospectively, with a view of knowing what has happened before and next, two plot points stuck out.

1. How dense did Dumbledore have to be to not realize that Moody was faking it?

D: (drinking his fifth firewhiskey) Lets sing the Firewiggle song Alastor!
“Boars in the mountain! Tra-la-la-la”

M: (on his fourth, gulping) “The dark lord wins through… ding-adong-along”

(Blue flash of light. End of story)

2. Why did Moody have to do the incredibly long and dangerous process of getting Harry through the Triwizard championship when all he had to do was to get harry to touch a portkey?

M: Harry! Come here, I got something to show you.

H: Yes Professor (bounding in).

M: Here check this out. It’s a dark thingamajig (taking curious looking object from pocket).

(Harry touches it, OMG it’s a portkey! He flies to Voldemort, who kills him on the spot, and laughing insanely, goes about his business, foremost being to find a good plastic surgeon)

Other plot holes in the series (I was sick for a while, and I read really fast)

1. Considering that they used the time turned to save an animal (Buckbeak the hippogriff), would be have been too much to do the same to save Sirius and Dumbledore? (Especially as there were in the ministry when Sirius died).

2.  Its funny how, while Harry and Ron almost get thrown out of college for driving the car to school, nobody notices 5 children flying through the air to London

3. What the big deal with Voldemort? I mean, sure he has some 20 (at most) death eaters with him. Couldn’t the good guys, with some help, killed them all of? (At the very least, they could have asked the army to bomb Malfoy Manor.)

Anyway, as I said I was sick. Then I had exams. Then I got the exam results. I am thinking this getting an education shindig while forsaking a chance to make decent money is highly overrated. I want my money back.

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Day in a grad student’s life

March 3, 2009

0630:  Wake up. No seriously. Wake up! Groggily look around. Make Coffee? No. Brush teeth. Wear clothes. Look outside. Wear more clothes. Get out. Light a cigarette? Throat constricted. Need water. No.

0700: Get to college. Unlock doors for the labs. Signin. Sit in a chair, slack jawed, staring vacantly outside, as system fights to cope with lack of sleep.People start trickling in.

0800: Make some coffee. Check mail. Handle support calls. Wonder why people mess up their password so many times, Is it a disease? Should look into it. Take a couple of breaks.

1200: People start having lunch. Wonder (again) if it would be a good idea to pack lunch next time.

1330:  Shift over. Stomach growling in hunger. Go to Gold Star Chili. Eat.

1400: Go to the graduate students lounge. Fellow students rabidly discussing ways and means to complete todays assignments. Ignore them. Lie down on the couch. Get some sleep.

1405: Said fellow students ask for opinion on discussion re: assignment. Explain in choice terms. Everybody silenced. Try to go back to sleep.

1410: Can’t go back to sleep.

1415: Friend comes in, asks if I want to go for lunch again. Agree.

1515: After a profitable discussion on merits and demerits of burger chains in the US over a wholesome lunch , get back to college.

1600: Sit for accounting class. Try to take in whats been said. Stomach full. Feel sleepy.

1700: Halfway through accounting class, make mental note (again) to try and study the subject in free time.

1800: End of Accounting. Start of SAP class. Sit in lab. Check football scores. Very excited about ManUtd’s performance. Exchange grins with other United fan in class. Make fun of Arsenal fan.

1930: Break. Explain to American friend about the big cow/elephant traffic problem back home, and how the govt is trying to make new cow and elephant lanes to ease traffic. Friend seems reasonably convinced.

2130: End of class. Go home.

2200: Make dinner. Wonder if it would be a good idea not to make biriyani for once and cook vegetables instead. Drop idea. Too much work.

2300: Finish making dinner. Eat.

2330: Do assigments. Crib.

0230: Write long mail. Sleep.

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Likes and Dislikes

February 16, 2009

This blog was initially started to comment on the various facets of my journey to the US. And while I clearly have been slacking on that job, I did think of a list of likes and don’t likes, which I have developed over my time here. The list tends to be mostly gastronomic in nature, but then, I love good food.

LIKES:
People: People here are nice. There are really no other words for it. Even when they are saying no, they sound like they’re doing it only because its the the only thing possible at that time. And on the start of a bad Monday (are there really any others?) a cheery Hello! can make all the difference.

Traffic Rules: Cars stop for pedestrians, even when said said pedestrian is 10 meters away from the crossing, turning around, trying to light a cigarette because of the bloody wind. Words aren’t enough.

Education System: I am in the MSIS program, which for noninitiates means computers with smatterings of business. Well, I have this guy in my program who did his undergrad studies in music. He was trying to play the trombone, and apparently did it quite successfully. Why did he join the MSIS program? Because he thought it sounded interesting.

Chili: Fast Food Nation they may be, but you can have only so many bland burgers(see below, cons). or fries, or nachos. After a while, you want to run when you see cheese. Except for chili. This concoction, which consists of frying beef in a hot broth, while adding spices(hence the name), and serving it with fried onions, beans and some shredded cheese, hot sauce, and a side of crackers, is awesomely tasty, and filling. For reference, think mutton ghughni, without the potatoes.

Online Shopping: I know this is available in India, but it’s so much more prevalent here, that the retail merchants take it more seriously. Everything is available online, and due to reduced overheads, prices are cheaper too. The best option? Go the Best Buy, select the item you want, buy it on your iPhone (you get the lower rate), wait 5 minutes and pick it up from the counter. Which brings me to…

The iPhone: If somebody were to research the last ten years of my life, and make a list of things I want(ed) in my phone/pda/everywhere, they would have come up with the iPhone. Why is it a pro in the US? Due to the awesome mobile data network. Sure, people complain about it here, but people here are used to having 20mbps internet connections. I call my 256kbps at home a broadband connection. Give me a break. Oh. also. always on email, push calendar, an amazing app program, Google Maps, the brilliant form factor, the kickass battery life….

Discount Shopping: Thanksgiving, Christmas, the day after Christmas, New Years, the day after New Years, Valentines day… retail marts here need an excuse for a discount. And what discounts!

DISLIKES:
Coffee: Well technically, the coffee here doesn’t really suck. You have tons of options, and while they are expensive, they aren’t bad. But none of them, and I mean, none of them, taste like filter coffee.

Burgers: This has been my biggest disappointment since coming to the US. While I didnt run to the nearest McDonalds the moment my feet touched American ground, and start wolfing burgers, it was on my things to do list. I have since been to aforesaid McDonalds, KFCs. and other places I’ve forgotten names of, and they all make the blandest burgers. In the history of bland burgers. Back home, you could feed one of these burgers to people whose doctors have recommended them a bland diet (glucon-d and dal), except that the fat content is huge, but thats an occupational risk.

Fries: See above.

Alone-ity: This goes just for me. I really like this place. It has interesting people, opportunities, places to hang out, places to eat, place to do both, but I would still rather eat chilly beef in Besant Fast Foods rather than chili in Skyline Chilis. Or eat chinese in Beach Palms than in King Wok. Or go to a bar in LB Road rather than one in Ludlow. I miss home.

Oh, and subways in the US taste like Subways in India. Only, due to the lack of competition, infinitely tastier.

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Rock On!

August 23, 2008

The music for Rock On! has been out for some time now, and everybody and his mother have an opinion. I personally like it, with some reservations. Shankar Ehsaan and Loy have delivered (as they seem to do with some regularity these days), the lyrics are good (and have a nice college band feel), and Farhan Akhtar’s voice comes as a pleasant surprise. The sound is decidedly “rock”-y, featuring anthemic songs with a ballad tossed in (Phir Dekhiye) for good measure. The pick of the songs are the title track and Pichle Saat Dino Mein, especially the live version. Phir Dekhiye is beautiful, and uses an acoustic guitar to great effect. The only weak songs are Zehreeley and Ye Tumhari. One has a made by the numbers hard rock feel and the other is just plain schmaltzy. One can hear the producer clamoring for a Bollywood-y song somewhere in the lineup.

It’s not all plain sailing, however. The trio were clearly aiming for a raw anthemic sound, but the songs sound overproduced, with the bass barely making an appearance. The drums are muted too, with the focus mostly on the vocals. This is fine by Bollywood standards, but sounds odd in a rock focused album, where vocals generally get drowned out by the guitar. On the whole, however, it’s nice to see the Indian film industry taking a risk on a completely rock based album to support a major release. I like it. Rock on!

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Movie Shooting 101

August 21, 2008

So this friend of mine wanted to shoot this movie, and she thought that it would be a good idea if I played the part of a sneak thief in it. Now I don’t consider myself to be fit for the pages of Vogue or anything like that that, but it is a bit unflattering to be considered ideal for such a role. However, one aims to please (and get acting credits), so I readily agreed.

So it was that I landed up in this shady by lane in TNagar, at 11AM in the morning. The sun was wiling me to get roasted, but I thought my naturally dusky complexion would fool it. (I am sorry, it was very hot). I was wearing a weird monkey cap thingie, with old jeans and a tee which did not match, looking very much in character. The shot sequence involved me running up to this lady in the road, dispossess her of her bag, make faces at her and run. Which I did. Quite well I thought. And that’s when the trouble started.

I was happily running down the road, bag in hand, congratulating myself on a job well done, when I noticed this car coming in my direction. Whatever its initial intentions, the car suddenly swerved towards me, at around 120kmph (it felt like 120kmph, though I am told nobody has ever touched such speeds on that road. Lets say 100). It came rushing up to me, brakes screeching at the last moment, and I had to do a flashy pirouetting movement to get out of the way, which ended with me falling on my ass in the middle of the road. I was about to do my impression of a bear  which has just been poked in the fleshy parts, while having a nap, when the driver came out of the car and snatched the bag out of my hand, and gave the same to the aforementioned lady. And there I was, lying down on the road, wondering at the injustice of it all, when my friend said we had to to a retake. She wanted my face to be seen on camera. Or something like that. Oh well.

So here’s my advice to anyone considering acting in a movie/short film/serial. Act badly. There maybe unforeseen complications otherwise. Cheers!