Thursday, March 22, 2007

THE game tomorrow

I don't know who will win, so don't ask me.. I hope India wins, but that has as much to do with the fact that I have not seen them play than anything else. But I am banking on the fact that we have traditionally done well in must-win games in the World Cup.
I know that even if we lose we could go through, but I'd rather we win.. Simply because, we win, we carry two points.. SL helped us by wallopping the Bangladeshis.. Now we can return the favor..

Lorem ipsum

Yeah yeah yeah .. I know it is typing jargon .. but this is all I could think of as a title.. There's so much to write.. Since I decided not to get a camera along with me, this blog is the best thing to a time capsule I have for this trip.. What better way to intro it than to write something in Latin .. FYI, Look up Lorem ipsum on the net, I was very intrigued to find out that it is actually from the Roman days..

Anyway, here's my time capsule..

Tuesday, March 13, 2007:
Slept in: LH 757, Mumbai - Frankfurt

I know this is not part of the trip, but I have to start here, since I couldnt be here, if it was not for what happened this day (Well, if Tuesday never happened, how would Wednesday happen, you ask??, that's true.. but there's more than simple chronology at hand).. After running through a lot of hoops to get laptops from work, finally got one, packed all the office stuff and took the laptop to the IT group to finish all their formalities. Turns out that laptop was screwed up, so they gave me a different one. So, I took that and drove home. Locked the car home, and it dawned on me, that the office stuff was all in the bag which had the old laptop.. Ergo, two options.. Drive back or have someone bring it.. Lata and Abhijit helped (Thanks to you great souls, I am travelling 4 countries in 9 days.. Don't know whether I should have forgotten it!!) Anyway, off we sail..

Oh and btw, the World Cup just started.. Saw 3 overs of wonderful action .. Pakistan looks like it's going to get in to some trouble..

Wednesday, March 14, 2007:
Slept in: Zweibrucken, Germany

Landed at Frankfurt and made the wonderfully sane idea of taking the German Rail pass.. 189 Euros gets you in a train on any 5 days of your choice of the next 30. Took the train to Mannheim (1). Was there in some 30 minutes, and then took the train to a place called Homburg Saar (2). (You'll soon get an idea where this counting is going).. From Homburg took the taxi to Zweibrucken.. 20 minute ride... Good time to practise mein Deutsch on the unsuspecting German.. Went pretty good.. Also got compliments.. Turns out I am booked in a hotel called Rosengarten (Rose Garden) which houses Europe's biggest Rose Garden.. Decent hotel, but seems to be quite old.. Had lunch, checked in (yeah, the room was not ready) and after a quick shower and a shave headed out to ZX works.. Work went off quite well.. Got back to the hotel.. Was quite used to German TV from my last trip, so knew that there was not much on TV for me.. Had a quick bite and plonked off to sleep

Thursday, March 15, 2007:
Slept in: Zweibrucken, Germany

Hmmm .. Taxi to the factory, taxi back.. (You're not here to listen to my work stuff, are you??).. In all of ZX there's one desi (or so he claims) who works at ZX works as an intern.. Had dinner with him.. Sweet kid.. In Germany to do his masters and like most masters students, no clue with what the connection his Masters has with his job..

Friday, March 16, 2007:
Slept in: Schwieberdingen, Germany (or something like it)

Spoke with Amit Prabhu before I headed out to work and he asked if we could meet that night.. "Yeah, we can, but I am going to have to stay at your place, since I am going to my uncle tomorrow", "Sure, no problem, take the train to Zuffenhausen, I'll pick you up".. So have 10 minutes to pack, and check out.. Taxi to work, taxi back and then take my luggage to the train station.. Train to Mannheim (3), Train to Stuttgart (4), train to Zuffenhausen (5).. If I were to do it all over again, I would take 15 mins to pack at least, I don't know how I have stuffed it, but the bag feels like it has a dead body in it.. (Maybe the hotel staff chopped some one up while I had it in storage at their end)..

Prabhu came to pick me up.. We went for dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant.. Discussed old times and spent long times discussing what the future holds.. Watched MI:III and marvelled how the Hollywood summer movie market can come up with utter tripe most of the times.. Discussed tricks on how snoring can be reduced (he does snore like the Amazon was being deforested).. You get the idea..

Saturday, March 17, 2007:
Slept in: Bietigheim - Bissingen, Germany

Prabhu dropped me off at Bietigheim after a 20 min drive post-breakfast. At my uncle's place.. relaxed a little bit till lunch time and a little bit after that. Then went for a unique experience.. Tanzsport Sud Lateinformation.. Groups of 16 (8 men, 8 women) go through a series of Latin formation dances for a 5-8 minute routine.. Saturday was the minor league, and Sunday was the major league (or something like that).. Milan, my cousin, is the star dancer of the major league team of Bietigheim, and was in charge of the arrangements.. And he had a role for me.. Jack the clicker.. They had a Powerpoint presentation made to introduce all teams.. And Jack the clicker had to click for every team.. Wasn't that bad actually, Since the laptop was connected to the projector and was way abover everything, I actually had the best seat in the room.. Not too bad.. Minor Leaguers were dancing like KG kids.. not much coordination.. Even I could tell .. wonder what the judges would say..

Oh and yeah, India lost to Bangladesh.. Still me having a good feeling, but they are in deeeeeeeeeeeep shit.. There's a distinct possibility that they might be out by the time I get back to India, and I won't see them playing.. (Well, may not be such a bad thing, on second thoughts).. But the night's sleep is guaranteed by hearing that Ireland beat Pakistan .. Ireland plays cricket???

Sunday, March 17, 2007:
Slept in: Venlo, Holland

After lunch we headed for more of the Tanzsport thingy, just that this time it was the major leaguers on the dance floor. Milan's team was pretty good, but there was one team which was really cool.. It was tough to say if they were dancing or figure skating.. Graceful.. Midway, had to leave since I had to go to Venlo in Holland.. (Heard they came 4th)..

Anyway, started from Bietigheim by train (what else)(6).. As luck would have it the train to Stuttgart was delayed (5 mins, not much), but once I got there, had to run with the luggage to another platform and the damn bogie was at the other end (near the engine)... This is was one journey (7) for which I had reservations, and it was a good thing.. The train ride was nice, I found out what life at 281 km/h looks like (things go by really fast) and at 8.45 I landed in Dusseldorf. And it was freezing.. I was told it was warm in Germany when I had inquired about the weather.. But turns out there was snow predicted for that night.. Easily must have been below 0C. And I am waiting at Dusseldorf station for a train to Holland with not a soul on the platform.. Finally the train (8) arrived and it was another hour to get to Venlo. Land in Venlo to this most surreal snow storm .. Its pouring snow, and if not for the iPod headphones, I would have had frozen ears.. Don't understand the language, struggled to find a taxi.. Suddenly foreign visits don't seem that cool now, do they? Got to the hotel and crashed around 10.45 pm.

Monday, March 19, 2007:
Slept in: Enschede, Holland

Thought for the day: If languages were software, Dutch would be in a beta version.. It's like what you get when you speak German and English at the exact same time, all while trying to gargle without water..

I am getting sick of writing this, but there's more train journeys in store.. Venlo to Niejmegen (9), to Deventer (10), to Enschede (11).. Got into the hotel and it was pretty good.. The hosts at Enschede decided to take me to dinner.. Had Kangaroo meat for the first time (Kangaroo meat in Holland, you ask... You find tulips in Australia, I say).. Was ok (just abouts, nothing special)..

Also, India won by a mountain of runs.. Hmmm .. Still there's a chance..

Tuesday, March 20, 2007:
Slept in: Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Deutsche Bahn also gets late, ok??? Enschede to Munster (12, is it??) went off ok, but the connecting train got late .. 45 mins late.. My connecting train transit at Cologne had a 5 minute slot, so there's no way I can get that.. Eventually the train comes in (13) and it's peak time, and I dont have reservations.. So, I stand outside the WC.. Cool.. At Cologne, I take the train (14) to Frankfurt Airport.. Get to the Steigenberger Hotel.. Looks like a mighty fine 5 star hotel.. Was thanking my stars.. when the stars decided to go on a vacation.. They couldn't find my reservation... After tonnes of explanations back and forth, turned out there was a country cousin version of this finishing school graduate also known as the Steigenberger.. Was to meet Preeti for Dinner, and she also went through the same case of mistaken hotel identity.. Eventually both of us had to share from the buffet.. Both of us were soooo tired, we decided to meet next week in Pune (the food should be better)

Note of the day: They sell pirated DVDs at Enschede station.. Bought the DVD for "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Great Nation of Kazakhstan" which was on display there.. It was in the official cover and all. After I bought it and was examining it on the train, I found that the seal was broken and the DVD was something like what you get at Fort.. The movie works (at least 3 mins were ok... Decided to watch it on the flight to Mumbai.. Lufthansa is showing Vivah.. Borat sounds better)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007:
Slept in: Getafe, Spain.

When your flight lands, there's normally one thud sound, when the back tires hit the tarmac.. Sometimes there's two when the front tires hit the tarmac.. When there's three noises, you should be worried.. Very worried.. After a lot of puzzling looks from all passengers, the pilot apologised for the weird landing by attributing it to some wind patterns (don't ask.. he spoke in Spanish, and my Spanish is limited to "que pasa"... What the guy next to me explained, I have no idea..

Anyway, checked into a hotel known as the AC Getafe... And if I want to live in a hotel it is this one.. It looks classy .. No other words for it.. Classy ... And they charge 13 Euros for 24 hours of internet (Why do you think I am typing so much?? More bang for the buck.. ).. Driving out of Madrid (the hosts have a driver assigned to me!!) I was reminded of Los Angeles.. The freeways are very very similar.. To get to Valencia, one has to go via San Fernando (serious, no kidding)and everyone has to (HAS TO) speak Espanyol..

But all in all, I am almost done with the trip.. Plan to sleep early tomorrow, sicne my flight out of Madrid is at 6am on Friday.. (Can you believe it, my travel desk actually booked a flight out for 6 am and did not tell me about it!!!!).. Have been living out of a suitcase, so packing should not be a problem.. Let's see how things go..

And btw.. SL beat Bangladesh by millions.. So now if we beat SL on Friday (reasonable expectations), Bangladesh has to beat Bermuda by a run rate differential of 6.44 (assuming India win on the last ball possible).. In words for you and me, they have to win by 324 runs.. So, basically they HAVE to bowl first and hope that Bermuda gets out inside of 100.. The more they give up, the quicker they have to score.. Suddenly, India's job looks quite clear.. Beat SL by as much as possible, but all is not lost if we win on the last ball of the game.. AS LONG AS YOU WIN, DIMWITS....

Btw, was pleasantly surprised by the extent of CNN international coverage of the World Cup.. How much of it has to do with the cricket and how much has to do with the "newsworthyness" of Bob Woolmer's unfortunate death, is anyone's guess...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Things I think I think (European edition)

1. Am in Europe this week and next.. Shuttling between cities like Zweibrucken and Horst and Venlo and Getafe and Enschede and Bietigheim (aka, places you have never heard of).. Getting to see a lot of the German countryside as of now.. It is a very beautiful place, especially since it is the start of the summer.. It does look a lot greener than the US, but it could also be because it is so cloudy that the contrast is better.. Don´t know..
2. Full disclosure: This is a German keyboard I am typing on. The Z and the Y are interchanged, there are a host of other changes on the keyboard, the Ü and the Ö and the Ä areall over, the enter key is too small for my fat fingers. Ergo, there´s bound to be spelling mistakes. Please bear with the inconvenience..
3. I know I said I have a good feeling about the Indian team, and I shall stick to it..The fact that 3 of the 4 major sponsors have major interests in India, also suggests to me that there will be major losses, if India doesnt go through.. Is there a connection, I dont know..
4. Before I forget.. Happy Birthday to Meghna and Pramod maam.. Dont know if I shall get the chance to email / phone .. so taking the public domain to wish..
5. Germany is a nice place to live in. I can speak a smattering of the language, and I think I can survive here. If language was not a problem, I would say that I would want to live here for a decent amount of time.. Their belief in systematic thinking is mind blowing.. Everything follows the system.. And the system takes care of them in times of crisis.. They are open.. there is none of the PC hypocracy like the US.. Shieße is shieße ... spoken and published in the public domain like papers and TV.. There´s none of the sh%&%t or shoot like they say in teh US.. And if they say that the white man cannot dance, they ought to come to Germany ...
6. Speaking of Dance, I am going to a latin dance competition in about 20 mins.. At the risk of sounding sexist, I shall stick my neck out and say that it has to have been created by a man.. Only men can make competitions out of things like who can spit farther and who can chew gum longer and group latin dancing..
That´s about it for now.. Shall keep you posted.. Hopefully all hotels from now on that I stay in will have internet connections.. So with nothing to do, I shall blog some more

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ghost who rules

Apna Laloo Prasad invented cows and had fictitious fodder. But our buddies in Africa have started to invent cabinet ministers..

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you... The Phantom Minister

How ironic, that the Phantom was deputed for Minister for "Trade"?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Things I think I think....

10. Good to see that I am providing the inspiration for Meghna to blog on something. As I wrote to her, this is an idea that I stole myself, so who am I to deny someone the wonderful concept of thinking?

9. A big hello to Murugesh Babu who is the first guy to actually say that he actually likes what I write.. Boss, even my wife says that I write trash at times.. It feels good to have someone who reads everything diligently.. BTW, his blog is titled Motorcycle Diaries.. It has nothing to do with the movie, but the movie is one of my all - time favourites..

8. Pune has a new commissioner, who has announced that he will make the traffic problem his top priority. If he's listening (or reads blogs like this one) here are some of my suggestions:
--- Get rid of government drivers (or chauffeurs). If the babus start driving their own cars, chances are bright that the roads would improve..

--- Make the BPO taxis illegal. Bane of traffic.. Companies should provide more incentives to car pools instead of having hired taxis.. The taxis are not on their rolls and the company is saved from the overhead.. The taxi companies have no bonding with the company, so the drivers have no responsibility while driving.. Instead if a company was to provide something like Sodexho passes to people who were willing to take their own cars and also take fellow employees as passengers. Even without looking at the driver or the car from inside, currently I can tell if the owner or a chauffeur is driving just by looking at it travel on the road.

--- Keep the buses on the left side of the road, and make the BRTS lane only for two wheelers. Any two-wheeler not in the dedicated lane is liable for punishment.. Something like the car-pool lane in the US.. Worth a shot.

7. Summer is coming.. Sugarcane juice on a summer afternoon .. It's been 7 long years .. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ..

6. Summer is coming.. Alphonsos on a summer afternoon .. It's been 7 long years.. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

5. Summer is coming.. And there's no bloody summer vacation in sight .. How am I going to have the sugarcane juice and the alphonsos?? No bloody idea ..

4. A very very worrying thought just consumed me.. I will be in the US for 3 weeks in late April.. I have friends in wide corners of the US.. I don't think I shall be able to visit anyone .. Sorry friends..

3. The new car is running fine .. Took me about 3 days to get used to RH drive and another 2 to get used to the stick shift.. Then I got my first dent on the car .. Big one to the right of the drivers side headlight.. Totally self-inflicted while taking a reverse.. How I got a dent on the front side, while reversing, don't ask.. But a huge load has lifted and it shows in my driving.. Something like an unmarried girl, who's no longer a virgin.. It just doesn't matter any more..

2. It's election time in India.. One thing I have never understood in India, is that how the incumbent government almost always loses seats. Very very very rarely does someone gain seats while in power. Chandrababu Naidu is the only one that I remember who stayed in power (not sure if he gained seats though). Everything is somehow conveniently blamed on a wonderful concept called "Anti-incumbency" factor. Somehow, I'd think if you did a good job, there would be no Anti-incumbency.. Or am I missing something here??

1. The World Cup starts in 10 days. It's going on till April 28. Somehow, it doesn't make sense that a game that is played in about 10 countries, should have a World Cup which is longer than that for Soccer, which is NOT played in about 10 countries.

Main banoonga Crorepati

Monday to Thursday 9pm for an hour we watch Shahrukh Khan ask questions to one person in the "hot seat". If the person gets 15 questions right, he/she wins Rs. 2 Crores (20 Million by the American system). At the beginning, SRK announces what the contestant would do with 2 Crores. The standard reply goes something like this:

Male contestant: Take _________ (Aishwarya Rai / Sushmita Sen / Mallika Sherawat / Vidya Balan / my parents / take your pick) on a trip to __________ (Alaska / World Tour / Disneyland / Trip to the moon / take your pick).

Female contestant: Produce a movie with ___________ (SRK / Brad Pitt / Tom Cruise / anyone but Amitabh Bachchan) which will win awards. One lady even went to the extent of saying that she would institute an award ceremony in her name, and have all awards except Best Actor, since SRK gets Best Actor, ex-officio.

People have weird desires, I must say. So I ask, what would YOU do with tax-free 2 Crores? Feel free .. Serious or in jest... I know what I would do.. But I shall wait for your ideas as well before I announce it ..

And no, I don't think I am going to take part in KBC, no matter what my family says..

Thursday, March 01, 2007

T1, where art thou??

T1 is a damn good friend. He also is a damn good blogger . He is also a newly married blogger. Since he is on some sort of self-imposed blogging exile, I am going to copy one of my favourite blogs by him dedicated to all the wonderful nerds in the world. At least this way, I can at least get a comment from him saying that he is alive

*** Jocks v/s Nerds ***
Michael Jordan having "retired," with $40 million in endorsements, makes $178,100 a day, working or not.

If he sleeps 7 hours a night, he makes $52,000 every night while visions of sugarplums dance in his head.

If he goes to see a movie, it'll cost him $7.00, but he'll make $18,550 while he's there.
If he decides to have a 5-minute egg, he'll make $618 while boiling it.

He makes $7,415/hr more than minimum wage.
He'll make $3,710 while watching each episode of Friends.

If he wanted to save up for a new Acura NSX ($90,000) it would take him a whole 12 hours.
If someone were to hand him his salary and endorsement money, they would have to do it at the rate of $2.00 every second.

He'll probably pay around $200 for a nice round of golf, but will be reimbursed $33,390 for that round.

Assuming he puts the federal maximum of 15% of his income into a tax deferred account (401k), his contributions will hit the federal cap of $9500 at 8:30 a.m. on January 1st.

If you were given a penny for every 10 dollars he made, you'd be living comfortably at $65,000 a year.
He'll make about $19.60 while watching the 100 meter dash in the Olympics, and about $15,600 during the Boston Marathon.

While the common person is spending about $20 for a meal in his trendy Chicago restaurant, he'll pull in about $5600.

This year, he'll make more than twice as much as all U.S. past presidents for all of their terms combined. Amazing isn't it?

However...If Jordan saves 100% of his income for the next 450 years, he'll still have less than Bill Gates has today.

$$$ Game over. Nerd wins.

Couldn't have put it any better

Got it through the office email list. I do a lot of recruiting myself these days. I don't think I could have listed this out any better. .

Being on the other side of the resume, I totally forgive all those damned recruiters, who may have trashed my resume all those years ago.