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Aug. 23rd, 2008

boy with dog

They Fart

Yes, I am now the proud owner of theyfart at gmail dot com. Don't ask me why I bothered to get this ID.

It just seemed like a good idea at that time.

(The above statement has been used by many people throughout history, including those that committed the defenestrations of Prague that led to the 30-years war, those that used brandy in thermometers before switching to mercury, by Indira Gandhi during the 1975 emergency, by Abhinav Bindra's dad after he narrated the incident of young AB shooting the balloon off the maid's head and so on and so forth).

It is certainly not as cool as owning a domain name, and if emailed at that address, I promise to reply. Just for kicks.
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boy with dog

Introducing The 'Cook Buddy' Concept

I love to cook. Of course, I love to eat much more than I love to cook, but one look at me and you'd hardly ever think that I'd win a burger-eating contest. Of course, there's this other matter of how most food-eating contests are biased against people who eat slowly and are invariably centered around who consumes the most food in a stipulated period of time.

If contests were reformatted to be about who consumes N items of food, regardless of time, I would stand a fighting chance. But that is beside the point.

Like I mentioned before, I love to cook, but it isn't something I have been doing too much off-late. My culinary skills came to the fore under circumstances of extreme duress. In August 2005, after having nearly experienced death (another expansion of NED) due to a severe case of bronchopneumonia that resulted in me being holed up in bed for ten days during the festival season, I developed a strong aversion towards outside food of any kind. Although the condition that affected was more towards the pulmonary region rather than the gastric region, I was nevertheless unable to eat properly for almost ten straight days and lost a whole lot of weight.

Being skinny and underweight ever since I was about four, before which I was as fat as a miniature version of Jabba the Hut, when I say I lost a whole lot of weight, I do mean it. My cheeks were hollow and for the first time after the end of engineering college, I could once again see all my ribs.

This aversion towards eating outside food regardless of its price / quality spurred me on to learn cooking and avoid outside food altogether. The slight problem of not having a kitchen until May 2006 when I moved into an apartment with a few friends kept me from having a go with the cooking utensils, but even fate could not delay the inevitable.

My three subsequent trips abroad also honed my culinary skills to a point where I could confidently claim to all and sundry that I could cook, without cooking being considered as the ability to make maggi noodles or tea. I could cook to save my life (as I have done so on a few occasions) and I guess it was one of those things people tend to add on their 'life resume' and would, more often than not make a rather desired bullet-point on it.

I currently stay alone in a house that has a kitchen in it, but I haven't cooked food in a really long time. I would attribute my lack of enthusiasm towards cooking to two factors - I haven't had a significant gastronomic accident that has resulted in unpleasantness and aversion towards outside food to that great an extent (touchwood) and I spend way too much time in cooking for myself.

The second factor in question is a result of the fact that I view cooking as a labour of love, and I spend time in cutting vegetables correctly so that they are of even size and are uniform, garnishing the food and generally working on making it look good before I dig in mercilessly and clean up the entire plate.

When I do end up cooking, the quantity I prepare sometimes exceeds the amount I could eat in one sitting as a result of which I spend about two hours polishing off what I've made. Add that to about an hour / hour and a half spent in making the food and what I now have is the clock striking 2300 hours by the time I am done eating, assuming I started preparation at 2000 hours.

Also, there's vessels to be washed and the kitchen to be cleaned thereafter, which I end up doing myself because I am too lazy to hire a maid who'd show up and would require me to be home in the evening or be awake in the morning at a certain time, and I see myself as being above such encumbrances. I'm also too lazy to hire a cook for the same reasons. I might also be cheap, but that has been a congenital condition of mine which, somehow has nothing to do with anything concerning food.

But my craving for home cooked food has only increased over the years, and in order to cater to my needs, I have come up with the idea of cook buddy (or cook buddies, rather).

If there is a family that lives within walking distance of my house and would be willing to host me on two days of the week for having dinner at their place, I'd be willing to pay good money for it. This is in line with my being too lazy to cook unless ample motivation is provided, and would sort out considerations of proximity to my residence as well as provide me with good food in return.

I don't ask that the family in question serve me food that is gourmet-level. I merely ask that on two days in a week, the said family or bunch of people that live together make an extra portion of whatever they're cooking and have me over to consume it. If the food is simple, vegetarian and is home-prepared, it would fit the bill appropriately.

In return, I would be willing to be a temporary member of the family until such time that the food gets over and then leave and go home until the next time that I was scheduled to visit them. This would mean that I would be courteous, polite, I'd pass the salt when asked for and refrain from breaking wind at the table and not make unsolicited comments about anything that is wrong with them, if at all.

There are plenty of people out there who want to cook but have the disinclination to do so due to a multitude of factors. Their living situation also prevents them from eating home cooked food every single day at their place of residence as a result of which they end up eating random food outside, which is cooked without the most important ingredient that goes into making good food - love.

At the risk of sounding immodest like I always do, I would also consider myself as interesting enough company for the family to look forward to having me over on the stipulated days. They'd of course be given the opportunity to interview me and meet me before zeroing in on a prospective match for their cutlery and their dining table, but I'd be ok for that as well, as would hundreds of other people in my predicament.

I believe that the west has a similar concept in place for fulfilling the carnal needs of a person, and that rhymes with cook buddy. We are, as a society not as immoral or polygamous and hence we'd rather keep things G-rated and just proceed onward with the search for the right cook-buddy.

An off-shoot of said idea would be to invite people over to one's place after having cooked for them, but I'd rather not propose it because I don't like too many people coming over to my house. The ones who are welcomed with open arms at any time know who they are.
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Aug. 20th, 2008

boy with dog

Schadenfraude towards Rule-Breakers

While it is ingrained within our moral fibre to play the role of the good samaritan in case one notices people in distress, especially when they have been part of a grevious accident and require emergency medical treatment, I am facing a serious moral dilemma with regard to how one should approach the situation when rule-breakers are subject to such mishaps.

Let me illustrate this with a particular example that I was witness to the other day. This took place on a weekday morning at a busy traffic intersection on the ring road in Bangalore, when some buffoon chose to use his helmet to protect his left elbow instead of protecting his head.

Combined with the almost-reverential protection given to his elbow was the fact that he didn't know enough math to discern that he was speeding at a place where he should've ideally breaked and waited for the red light to turn green.

Hence our man, let's call him Raju, was guilty of two offences - jumping a red light and protecting his left elbow instead of his head with a helmet. What happened when he chose to move instead of wait is something that was predictable. He rammed into someone who was travelling in the purpendicular direction and hurt his hand, because the helmet got in the way.

I saw the whole thing happen, and I couldn't help but grin at the fact that Raju was being a dumbass who deserved what he got. I don't think it is bad Karma to laugh at someone who is being an idiot and breaking the rules. I'd consider it to be priceless entertainment instead and I must say that I look forward to many such instances in the future.

The same applies for all the morons who travel the wrong way in a one way to save a few paise, instead of going further ahead along the road and taking a U-turn to get to their destination. Skimpy and I once had a discussion and he pointed out the following logic to me made a pertinent observation, which I wish was something that people could come up with intuitively instead of putting themselves through such peril.

Assume that you save 10 paise petrol while going the wrong way, and that you face a 1% risk of injuring yourself. Consequently, the value of your life is INR 10. If these people have such a small value for their life, should those that don't break the rules bother much about them?

The traffic rule breakers in Bangalore should have their own section in the Darwin Awards, so that they can go ahead, and literally knock themselves out. For good.
boy with dog

Dirty Linen Washing

With reference to the below post on Independence Rock, which is seeing its 23rd year is something else that has had people watch with mouths agape.

Things like these usually happen only on reality TV shows, with an element of stage-managing, but in this case people are washing their dirty linen in public and making a big deal about it, while the rest of the world watches in glee not so much at the fact that its two heavy-weights that are slugging it out in a verbal battle, but more so because it provides a temporary distraction from the things that otherwise occupy top priority in mind.

While I don't want to name names, I have no qualms in providing link to aforesaid verbal battle. Needless to say, it is between one of the most recognized Indian bands south of the Vindhyas, having had the distinction of opening for Megadeth and Machine Head this year and the founding father of the annual Independence Rock festival.

Of course, this 'fight' has taken place across various social networking platforms, but no place like the RSJ forums to put it all together. For further drama, click here.

Aug. 18th, 2008

boy with dog

Avial at Independence Rock

Avial is a band whose music I have recently fallen in love with, despite not understanding their lyrics. I wish I knew enough Malayalam to comprehend what Anand Raj Benjamin Paul is singing, but regretfully, I have to be content with listening to his amazing voice belt out songs such as 'Nada Nada', 'Karakura' and 'Njaan Aara' (which I know means 'Who Am I' and is probably a song about existential dilemmas, but sounds cooler because its in a different language).

I am currently listening to 'Ettam Pattu' which has a distinctive RHCP-ish feel to it, but then gets transformed into something else altogether as the song progresses.

I heard from my friend Prasad just a while ago that Anand Raj is not in the country, and hence their DJ / turntable Tony John will be at the helm of the vocals instead. Their myspace page also doesn't mention Anand in it. Funny.

Edit: Turns out, Benjamin has left the band. So much for being up to date on the music scene. I think I should retire.

Well, nevertheless, Avial will be performing live at the Palace Grounds in Bangalore on 24th August 2008 as part of the Independence Rock's Bangalore finale. I hope to be there, time and circumstances permitting.

If you think they're your cup of tea (stew, rather), check them out. For more information, visit - http://www.independencerock.in

PS - Yours truly is in the process of writing a review for Avial's music on Gigpad. Links will be provided, watch this space.
boy with dog

Work Life Balance

Whoever invented the term work-life balance sure spared no expense in trying to highlight how the two are different. While it has been something I've heard off and on during four years of work (yes, its been that long, although - you can take harithekid out of college, but you can't take the college out of harithekid unless you want to perform some surgery and dig into the contents of his stomach), it really hasn't been one of my favourite expressions.

Its true that being in the IT industry for so long ensures that one embraces jargon or learns to abhor it from the very core of her / his existence, and falling in the latter category, I am no exception either. This subject is definitely material for another post, in due time.

Nevertheless, work-life balance is something some of my BSchool buddies have also used in order to convey the balance between academics and extra curricular activities.

Now, the very essence of the term and its subsequent usage denotes that it is an oxymoron, which thus implies that work and life are two different mutually exclusive entities. Hence, applying the regular tenets of logic would lead one to conclude that if you have a life, you can't work and vice versa, which is why both of them need to be balanced out.

The implications are that work is not a part of your life, and this in turn makes even those who are 'meh' about their work to end up despising it merely because they now see it as something necessary but invasive.

I think the Indian IT industry is seeing a trend where the new poster boys are those that are able to juggle multiple things aside from work in their daily lives. It is a far cry from the times of old when the guy who'd spend ages in front of his comp working away was considered as a model employee.

Personally, I think the entire hoopla around the said term is stupid. If you can't make time for something, it isn't important enough.
boy with dog

Chase Away the Travel Blues

Until recently, short travel (a distance which would at most be equal to the approximate diameter of Bangalore city), if done on a continuous basis was quite a pain, especially due to traffic as well as due to the fact that if the same route was travelled upon repeatedly, there was no novelty associated with that particular route.

This was particularly more so on the office bus commute, where one is unable to read books or newspapers because trying to do so will definitely damage one's eyesight (since the jerky movements on the bus would require the eyes to continuously keep changing focus), and listening to music is the only option given the fact that the outside 'scenery' is something that one has been privy to ad nauseum.

However, I have recently come up with a new way of kicking commute's butt and this method has two possible outcomes, both of which are win-win, should you choose to take it up. Of course, this method assumes that you are not the one in the driver's seat, in which case, such a move is ill-advised.

On the bus, close your eyes and visualise the entire route as you keep travelling along it and get acquainted with the noises, the wait times at traffic signals as well as the bumps and miscellaneous intentional and unintentional speed breakers so that when you do end up opening your eyes and finding yourself at a place that you'd expected, you will laud yourself at having been able to discern correctly your location based on movement rather than on sight.

The other thing that might happen to you is that you end up falling asleep in the process, which is also not such a bad thing. The important thing is to keep your eyes closed, in order for this to take effect.

Sure, your prediction skills don't really amount to much on a city bus where the bus conductor keeps shouting out the name of the next stop that the bus is approaching, but in the circumstances that you would manage to make it work, it is a really super way of killing time.

Aug. 14th, 2008

boy with dog

Why Spoons?

I have recently switched over to eating idly and vada with hands instead of with a spoon. This has been done for some general cheap thrills, until and unless there are extreme case scenarios where I am unable to wash my hands, which case spoon usage is the only way out.

But whenever I see people eat idli-vada, I notice that they always use spoons without exception, and in most cases it is two spoons, in a manner similar to how people use forks and knives to eat food in the west. I am sure that idly and vada dishes have existed since a long time, which means that it is a recent change that has prompted people to use spoons to cut, dip and eat the idlis and the vadas in the slightly clumsy manner in which they do.

Dosas, which are also staple fare, despite also being served with sambhar and chutney are not eaten using spoons. Its probably because its not convenient for them to be consumed that way, although I have seen peculiar characters who do manage to use knives and forks to eat dosas.

As a teenager, I used to eat with a spoon all the time, and I guess my sister picked up from me as well. I did manage to get myself ridiculed for this habit of mine, but I managed to up the ante thereafter when I mastered the fine art of eating with chopsticks.

I'd start eating lunch with chopsticks and since lunch consisted mainly of rice and some sambhar or dal to go along with it, and some curry, by the time I finished eating my lunch, dinner would be served. Despite eating all that I could, my weight still remains what it was when I was 4 years of age. My width has decreased to give way to an increase in height.

Evolution has resulted in me coming back to square one and eating with my hands again. Somehow, I guess, instinctive behaviour is always the right one.

Also, next time you are at a darshini, do pay attention to the way people eat with two spoons. Just makes you feel more superior when you gorge on food with your hands.

Aug. 12th, 2008

boy with dog

Telephone Terrorism

Live Blogging:

This is happening as I type. Our workplace, which is a set of cubicles on our floor with each cubicle having a telephone extension, is under seige. Literally!

Each and every telephone in my vicinity has started ringing in synchronicity at the same time, since most of them have consecutive numbers, and this time, it is not the usual suspects in the form of credit card / personal loan salespersons who are causing megadeath (sic) level pains.

Everytime one chooses to pick up a phone, an automated message is being played with some subscription offer for something that I haven't had the patience to listen to. What I can say with absolute certainty is that this telephone ringing menace is getting on my nerves much more than I thought it would.

If I find out who was responsible for having come up with the first automatic telephone call and consequently appearing automatic telephone message, I would, if said person is not already dead, wring his neck with my bare hands and make him pay for all my phone bills until such time that I croak.

As I have been typing this post, all the phones seem to have fallen silent. However, it is not without a sense of foreboding that I am awaiting the next wave of the attack of the killer telephones.

I wish the phones, if rung simultaneously, could simulate different sounds of music so that it would atleast seem like some instruments were being played. Of course, to keep everyone at the office happy, it would have to be muzak, the likes of which even the most rabid music hater would be able to withstand.

Once again, death to those telephone terrorists.

Aug. 8th, 2008

boy with dog

Night Club for Moonlighters

Yet another brilliant idea from the stables of harithekid. I'm surprised at how awesome I am!

Anyway, to move on to describing the idea, I was thinking of how we should start a 'night club' which will be a bar / discotheque / lounge and everything else for all those people who work at night and sleep during the day.

The most obvious target segment for this venture is the BPO crowd which has money to burn and would be game to spend it drinking and dancing away at the end of their shift before they head back home.

The night club will open at 0530 or 0600 hours, just around the time the milkman and the newspaper delivery boys start functioning and can go on till the regulation time during which the bar has to be closed, depending on which city it can be opened in.

Artificial lighting will ensure that the people who visit the bars early in the morning don't realize that the sun has risen, and proceed to get drunk instead. Once the job is done, they will not have problems going back home as transport will be abundantly available in the form of buses | taxis | auto rickshaws.

For those who want to drink compulsively regardless of the time of day, my venture will meet their requirements appropriately. Cops cannot have a problem since my business is being conducted during broad daylight, starting from sunrise.

If addressed the right way, I could try to have many chains of this concept night club opened up all over the place in Bangalore and in different cities thereafter and then laugh all the way to the bank.

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