Archive for July, 2008

Kismet Konnection

My Kismet was bad, that I had to see this movie. It was as though, I saw the movie twice. Seconds before a scene would play out, I will think about it.

Two scenes, where even I could think up of better direction/ dialogue/ screenplay, goes to show, how much off the mark the director was from making even a half decent attempt at making a watchable movie.

One was, an totally contrived scene, where the wrong guy is going to marry the heroine. A old hag and a old thatha try to engage the wrong guy in a conversation which goes like how are you going to keep the girl happy. The wrong guy gives the cliched answer. The girl says that is not enough. The wrong guy says, what more can I do. I have no answer. The hero says, I have an answer.

And what is his answer- A stupid song, which just paraphrased what the wrong guy said.

And what could have been much better- An a-la Sharukh Khan’s Kal Ho Na Ho monologue. I never thought, I will come close to praising SRK, but I have to.

The second was when the Kismet Konnector, aka the fortune teller, who in all the previous scenes, asks for $10 as consulation fees, lets the hero go without paying because he is going after true love. How stupid!

How much more funnier it would have been, if she after making him realize about his true love and put all the funda, asked for her fees. Sigh!

Anyways, dont watch the movie, and if it is releasing at a cinema near you, stay away from the cinema.

The good part of the day, though, was I got a few books that I have been wanting to buy. I got Salman Rushdie’s latest book – ‘The Enchantress of Florence’ last week. And, I got an autographed copy of the book, and listend to the man himself, read a few pages from the book. It has been an engrossing read so far. Given that Chicago trip stands canceled, I can finish it this weekend (and maybe review it).

Ever since I read the Midnight’s Children, I have been wanting to read more Rushdie. So, I grabbed -‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’ today.

Ever since I read Two Lives, I have been wanting to read more Vikram Seth. So, I grabbed -‘A Suitable Boy’ today. Phew, it is thick.

I have always loved ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’. I owned a copy once, but lost it. The first time I read it, it was borrowed by B from her library and she lent it to me. The second and third time, I read it, it was my own copy. Then, I gave it to a friend to read, and he never read it, nor did he ever return it to me. Now, I have my copy, Again.

But, it is such a book, I am always looking for friends even remotely interested in reading to lend it to.

I also got an Arab stories book, translated to English. Only because I liked the title and the first paragraph of the book.

Already sitting on my shelf is short stories by Agatha Christie and Asimov. And, there is one -‘The selfish gene’ on the way from the library.

It will need a big effort for me to finish these, as lately, I have been devoting much less time to reading too. It is mostly weekends. The laptop and streaming and chatting, and general reading on blogs and wiki and news sites and random clicking is eating most of my evenings away.

I also started watching ‘Cheers’. Absolutely loved the first six episodes of Season-1. I know, I am into watching it for the long haul. All 11 seasons (although Wiki says that the 11th season DVD is still not out). It will take some time for me to get there though. I have Fraiser going parallel with this too.


God save me, when I get a *real* job!

Had a really good discussion with my adviser. Before yesterday, it looked kind of bleak, the things I wanted to do. But, my adviser was happy with my plans with the work. So I am up again.

But, I did not feel like working today, and took the day off. Recently, have been doing this pretty regularly. I feel guilty for being lazy, but I just can’t stop being lazy 😦

I have been putting up with my roommate for a year now. I guess, it reached the tipping point today. Another angry mail. I should control that too….

Going to Chicago on Saturday. Going to see a broadway show. Don’t know, what’s in store with that.

going to Florida next weekend. Yay!!!

a very lazy me!



Ashwin was wearing his favourite Singapore T-shirt. Kavitha was mixing colours with water. She had just seen ‘spray painting’ on the T.V., and had stolen the her tooth-brush to play with colours.

Thinking, it will be fun, she sprays red on her brother’s favourite Singapore T-shirt.

Kavitha found it funny.
Ashwin did not.

‘You-donkey’, he said, and pulled her hair.
‘You-monkey’, she said, and sprayed a little more red on his shirt.
‘Your wife fool- your kids fool’
‘Same to you’

The war of words morphed into a fight. Ashwin was stronger than her, but she bites. Shrieking in pain, he said, what should never have been said
‘Amma is not your Amma’.

Kavitha stood still. The weight of the words, slowly pulled her down. A trickle of tear, a river of tear-drops, as she sobbed and cried herself into the arms of her amma, who was not her amma.

Truth is better than the lie. She thought, as she told her kids the truth, a few days ago. Kavitha was not her child. Ashwin was. He was 11. She was 9. They did not understand the details. A few innocent questions, and all was like before. They were the best of friends, and she sighed in relief, for within a couple of days, they behaved as though, the conversation did not happen.

A week later, now, she wondered if the lie was better. She hugged her. Slapped him. Everyone was crying now.

Kavitha spent the next few hours, playing with her teddy underneath the bed, her tent. Ashwin, took to his favourite corner with his Tin-Tin. She stared into her laptop, but her eyes were lost in a whirlpool of memories and thoughts.

Later, Ashwin, comes to her, and asks for 5 rupees. He wants to buy Kavita a chocolate. He says, he is sorry. Kavita, surprised, on being offered a chocolate by her brother, promptly offers half to him, and asks him to help her with the spray paint. They paint till late in the night, and fall asleep in each-others arms.

She looks happily at the children, sleeping arm on arm, leg on leg. How quickly they forgive eachother. How quickly they forget.

The next day, he comes to pick up the kids for his weekend with them. As they run into the car, she tells him, ‘You know, I can forgive, but I cannot forget’.

Kavitha, was his daughter, her husbands daughter.

As a kid, forgive was always accompanied by forget. The sorry, and all is well handshake, was really meant. No matter, how big the fight. You forgave and forgot. I wonder, where we lose this ability as we become adults. We forgive but we pretend to forget.


A Summer Memory

Sometimes a memory just jumps at me from nowhere, and lingers on. And, it makes you think, why is it that, such a trivial thing, is so special that you filed away the memory.

It was back in the summer vacations in 1994 or 95. We had just moved into Vishal Apartments, and gelled in with the gang of kids there. Thatha, had just gifted us (me and my sister), the coolest set of board games. We had Scotland Yard, Life and Battleship to spend our days with. Mama, had given us the amazing concentrates for the grape juice and the mango juice and the orange juice. Amma, had made them, and got a bunch of other small things to eat.

The mood was all set, for afternoons after afternoons of board games. Of, fighting to decide who gets to be the Mr X. in Scotland Yard. Of chalking out strategies to outwit the thief (many of which included following the thiefs eye-board movement). Of gasping and smiling when someone got married in the game of Life. Of sharing school stories. Of making fun of the maths tutor, who came with 15 pens. Of making fun of the dance teacher, who thought he was a she. Of discussing the morning Cricket matches. Of making teams for the evening kho-kho.

It was a magical summer.

So, this one afternoon, we were playing Scotland Yard, and sipping the wine-colored juice, thinking we were rich people, betting with millions of rupees and sipping whiskey as they see the game unfold. Amma (and Appa), has this incredeble ability, to gel in with the kids, so much so, in a few minutes, you don’t even think that there is an adult around. As, we were playing, Amma, as a matter of conversation, asks all the kids, ‘What does your father do’. And, everyone starts answering, Business, Doctor, Doctor, Banker etc etc.

As the question, travelled round the circle, it stopped at another brother and sister pair of M & J. Of everyone in the group, only me, Vidya and amma did not know. Suddenly, everyone became quiet. M looked upto J, and slowly whisphered that their Father is no-more. That he passed away, when she was quite small. Amma, quickly changed questions. And, in a few minutes, we were back to concentrating deeply on the game.

Till then, death, to us was just a phenomena in the movies, and a orphan ( M& J havetheir mother, a truly faboulous lady) was Oliver Twist. At that moment, it became reality.

At that moment, I (and am sure, Vidya too) realized that, some people are really not as lucky as us.

Appa would have been surprised by the extra attention, we showered on him in the evening.

A couple of days ago, I learnt that M is pregnant. I am sure, she will be a great mom.
For me though, it is just as shocking, as to learn that my 5 of my friends will be married by the end of the year.
As I was standing in the bus stand in the evening today, there was a squall. It was getting dark and ominous, as I stood waiting for the bus. As the bus approached my stop, it got the red signal just before my stop, and the squall stuck. The sky emptied everything it had, like it just overturned a bucket full of water, and the bus was standing, a few feet away from me. And, I got totally drenched. And, I loved it.

Just finished watching ‘What Happens in Vegas’. It is a formulaic movie. Take a guy, a girl, apply formula, put happy ending, release it. But, well made. Just like Jaane tu. Any movie that makes me feel good, is a good movie.


Short Temper

I have a bad one. I get angry really quickly. Although, over the years, I have developed a habit of keeping the anger in with me, and letting it out only on family members and close friends ( I should not torture them either….but they understand).

But, today, in the morning, in a few moments of action without thought, my anger, took a drastic decision, which is in no way going to help the already fragile relation-ship that I have with a lab-mate.

Our lab has an antediluvian back-up system. We have to insert tapes into it everyday, and these tapes are numbered. The software that does the backup, does not overwrite a tape nor does it allow us to skip numbers. Being the long weekend, I was lax in changing the tapes. And our system-administrator, quite correctly pointed it out.

This over enthusiastic lab-mate of mine, also pointed it out. I should not blame him for doing so, but still, I feel he had no reason to do it. And, this was the second time, that he decided to remind me, after the system-administrator, had posted on the group, asking us to take care of the back-ups. Again, it is not wrong that he decide to remind me again. But, somehow, the words that he used to do so, suggesting lack of seriousness and responsibility in me (something that even the system administrator did not seem to mention) blew me off.

I don’t have the best of relationships with the person. But it is not hate among us to. It is a cordial Hi-hello-and discussing research kind of a relationship. Things have not become much better than that, in the 6-7 months that we have been working together. Today, it took a step back. I wrote a sarcastic reply back to his reminder to the reminder email, and he got angry, and there were a few angry emails exchanged. Now, the status-quo would have changed to a different position. Will know that, once he returns from his summer internship.

Work wise, it is the same as yesterday. Wrote the boring bit of code. The optimization is taking even longer than I thought it would take. Although, the frustration for me today was that, I did nothing but watch the screen, as the computer was crunching numbers. I will have some results tomorrow, but effectively, I have wasted a good 5-6 hours of time when I could have worked, as tie simulation was running.

No cooking today. Went to an Indian restaurant that masquerades as an Afgani one. Spent a lot of time on you-tube watching arbit videos and songs. I cannot seem to get the song Pappu can’t dance from Jaane Tu out of my mind. Listened to it hajaar times since yesterday.

Adios then,


Another nothing day at work. No ideas at all. Got a book to read on Supply Chain. Read the first two chapters. It was a B-School book, so there was lot of jargon, but hardly any mathematics or anything related to optimization, which can help the reader to understand how to optimize a supply chain.

The past week has been such. I do not know what to do with my work. My simulations have been stuck at an optimization which is too slow. I tried trouble shooting, but no help. Read the chapters on Quadratic programing and constrained optimization, yet no light. Cannot do anything else, because, more complicated examples and situations will also be slow. Have to find out why.

Because I have been vetti, have been thinking about my career. Most of the time, I am stuck between a corporate career, mainly in a Management Consulting firm (that is, if they take me) and an academic career.

Will write about it later.

Made capsicum-potato-aloo-murungakai sambhar and beans kari for dinner today. Had gotten back home early today, and thus had time to kill. Decided to cut the frozen beans into tinier pieces, like amma does it. And put some coconut into the kari, like amma does. The coconut, as it got hot, gave such a lovely aroma, and it released a slight taste of coconut oil, which mixed with the beans, and made the beans kari taste totally awesome. The sambhar was good too. Packed the same thing for lunch tomorrow too 🙂

Well, I have decided to do some boring coding, and compare a few methods that I have been playing with. The last thing, that I tried, works the best. But, with numbers to support it, I will have some decent thing to talk to my adviser. And, with the optimization taking a lot of time, I can spend the next two days with this. Maybe, we will talk to an optimization guru to find out about the trouble, and I get to go to the next part of my plan with this toy example that I am working on.




Yay! Yay! Yay! I drove a car for the first time on the interstate. Yay!!!

Life is going to be a pedestrian 5 mph from now on.

The plan was to go to Johnson Creek for some 4th of July shopping. The ulterior motive, was to get a chance to drive. So, Brahma and me were the drivers for the day. We went to the airport in the morning to rent the car. I drove back to pick up the others, and then Brahma took the wheel for the up journey. The first time, unsupervised was amazing. I was always scared (even in India) to back-up out of parking lots. But that went well. I think, I got honked once at a right turn. But, Brahma does not think so. Anyways, we were not doing anything wrong. It was a red and cars were zooming past on the main road. So I had to wait.

Johnson Creek was a amazing shopping place. I never knew, I was such a compulsive buyer. I did not buy everything that I liked, but my eventual shopping expenses topped everyone else in our group by nearly 100$. I got couple of shorts, t-shirts, a shirt, a pair of sunglasses and a pair of slippers and a jeans and a tie.

We then drove to Milwaukee to eat at Bombay Place. The guy at that restaurant was obnoxious, and their music selection was Om Shanti Om on the repeat. But the food was good.

Then, came the most interesting part of the day for me. My turn to drive back to Madison. I was scared. Of all the things that I was least confident about, was lane change. And at 70 mph, I was horrible at it. My friends, had a their eyes closed and a prayer on their lips, the first few times, I changed lanes. But, after some time, it turned out OK. Returned home, and Brahma and me decided to make the most of the time left with the car and drive around. We drove, all the way on the beltline. This time, I got much better.

The thing with lane-change is that, if you don’t see a car in the rear view, the chances are very less that you will have one in your blind spot. But, I just keep looking back for a couple of extra seconds, fearing that suddenly some car will appear in the blind spot. And, I could not judge distances clearly using the rear view either. The confidence booster was, before getting onto the highway, Brahma asked me to go to change lanes. I saw the rear view, and the car was close. I decided for it to go past. That somehow, increased my confidence in lane changing. Later, to take our exit out of the beltline, we realized pretty late that we had to take the Whitney way exit. I was on the leftmost lane, and had to execute three lane changes in a short time to get to the exit. And, I did it like a pro!!!

Although, I also got honked twice. First one, I am sure was because the driver behind me was in a hurry. There was a patch of road, in which construction was going on. The speed limit was 35, but I was lot slow (around 25), because the lanes were curving and ending, and there were dug up roads and all. The dude behind wanted none of that, and honked me. The second was my mistake. I was all set to go to a turning lane, when I realized that I was to take the next left. I came back to my lane, halfway into the lane change. And got honked.

Came back, saw some fireworks, and drove back home in the night. Often, there has been worry about driving in the night. But it seemed pretty OK.


It was the wedding of a lab-mate on Saturday. So, I got dressed up in a suit and tie and all, and went to the church for the ceremony. The catholic wedding ceremony, seems to be a filtered version of the hindu ceremony. Sitting there, in the church, I realized that our prayers are not that much different.

Coming back to the ceremony, the groomsmen and bridesmaid, were usherd in first. After them, the father of the bride, walked her daughter into the church. Everyone stood up when this happened. The groom came in earlier with the priest and was standing there. Then, the music played for a few minutes, and everyone were standing and praying and contemplating (atleast, I was praying then). Then, the priest invited the fathers of the groom and the bride to read from the bible. The passage that they read, was also sung by a person. The priest, then read a passage himself, and then explained all the three passages.

The marriage ceremony, then began, with the bride and the groom saying ‘ I accept’, ‘I do’ to a series of questions asked by the priest, regarding taking accepting the other person as their spouse. That, I think, was the point where they were legally (or religiously legally) married. They, then lighted a candle together, kissed. Later, the kneeled, and the priest, read out some more religious sermons, and they exchanged rings. That was the marriage then. Then all of us, joined together in thanking the lord and praying.

Relegions are not all that different . The priest explained the passages from the bible that was read, and the essence of the passages, was something that we all believe are the foundations of marriage. Only that, in hindu weddings, these readings take place in Sanskrit, and not many of us understand them and appreciate them. The promises made, were in old-english, but easy to follow. If only we knew Sanskrit, or if the purohit, took time to explain things, maybe our weddings will not look like the groom and the bride going through some actions. Even the final thank-you prayer, was like the english meaning that I used to write for my Veda/Moral Education classes in school. It was like our Pushpanjali in the puja, thanking God for the myriad small things in life and praying for happiness.

Later, the couple and the wedding party, took off in a limo, and we went to the hotel for the reception. Americans are masters of small talk. And, I was like fish out of water in the reception. Firstly, the couple, the wedding party and the parents had stood in a line to thank all of us. I just knew the couple, and I congratulated them. But after that, I had to go meet all the other people in the line, and I had no idea what to say. I just said, I worked with the groom, and the other side nodded. Later, I saw the Americans go talk to these people. And they seemed to speak for nearly 45-60 seconds with each person. Our lab-mom ‘Mary’, who was just like me, that is, knew ony the couple, took around 5 minutes to come out of meeting everyone, and I took 15 seconds. Later, at the dinner table, me and my office buddies, were joined by the Girl friends of the grooms-men and another random couple. For nearly an hour, this group of people, who hardly knew eachother were chatting. The same was there in another table, where, a professor (co-adviser to the groom) joined a group of friends of the couple. And, I could see that by the end of dinner, everyone in that group were freely chatting with the prof. On my table, everyone got into small talk. I just answered questions directed at me, and was talking to my brazilian office mate, sitting beside me.

A cute ritual in the reception was that people, will start making the ‘ting-ting’ noise using the spoon and the glass. Slowly, everyone will start doing it, and the couple will have to kiss. This happened every now and then, and as the number of kisses grew, the crowd started to oooh-aah and clap, only as the length of the kiss grew too. Later, the groom started it off. I was wondering what that meant. He started to point to his dad, and then his dad and mom kissed to applause. It was fun to watch. Around the time dinner got over, the best-man and the maid of honor made their speeches. Unlike the movies, it was not a loooong one. The best-man made the customary funny speech and the maid of honor, the girly speech. Later, lots of people came up and started speaking about how great the couple were.

I did not wait for the dance to begin, as there was an hour more of mingling and small-talk before the dance began. Knowing that I will not dance and I cannot small talk, I put escape at the first possible moment.


Typical of all sundays, I slept till afternoon. Watched Jaane tu ya Jaane na in the afternoon. The movie has got good reviews. But, I thought it was just OK. A good feel-good time pass movie. Currently, I am reading the Days@ISB blog by Raja Banerjee. Nicely written, providing snippets of a B-school life (something that I will not get to see anyway). Made Rajma chaval, ate it and have been typing for the past hour.

Another lazy summer week awaits me.