Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Whose money is it anyway!?

When it was found out that petroleum gas could be used as a motor fuel, the world was thrilled. When it was found that the cylindered liquified petroleum gas (LPG) -the domestic cooking gas can drive cars, the middle class was thrilled. Their petrol bills could be cut to as much as 40%-50%. with the upper class anyway using the fuel guzzler limos, they never had too much of worry of their fuel bills anyway.

Now, this was another technological revolution, soon enough, the bootspace in the cars were cleared to make room for bright red LPG cylinders that would save a bunch of money replacing petrol and diesel. A bunch of smart business minds sprang to action. Connecting the cars engines with the cylinder adaptor was a flourishing business for the next few weeks.

But the LPG that government sells in a subsidised price cannot be used for driving, it is meant for cooking food and is rationalised for every family. So the government was quick to proclaim the usage of the cylindered gas for driving as illegal. there were frequent raids on the roads and cars which had cylinders were fined heavily.

Commercial gas was introduced. It was definitely more expensive than the domestic cooking gas, but still a lot cheaper that liquid petrol. Smart entrprising entrepreneurs took up the business of converting petrol cars to LPG operating cars. It was done at a cost of 10,000 - 20,000 INR. Though thats a lot of money, people still got their cars converted with the long term benefit in mind.

So, now we had commercial gas pumps, cars with special internal tanks for the gas. So you think all is good and legal. But, in addition to all this, we also have few more enterprising and entrepreneurial people and we also have few more red cylinderful of subsidized LPG which costs cheaper than the commercial LPG. So what happens?

One good motor, fitted onto a pump. Two pipes - one for suction and one for release. all this in one garage. you have a well earning business. A gas-converted car pulls up into the garage and the driver unloads a cooking gas cylinder from the dickey, which he had probably picked up from his kitchen. The garage boy fits one pipe to the cylinder and the other to the gas tank in the car and starts the pump. the gas is transfered from the cylinder to the car tank in few minutes. It costs 20-30 INR. the garage fills over 50 cars a day, thats good money and less overhead for a business. The car owner saves about 40% on his car fuel. All sounds well.

Though win-win, though enterprising, it is definitely illegal, because all said and done, its the gas thats supposed to be used for cooking that is used for driving and that is definitely not fair. All parties involved know it, thats why these garages are never on the main road, but always in shady corners! and of course, the police who come raiding are bribed by the garage owners. The way it looks, you would think India must have the best Intelligence force, but the truth is, this is the story of the world. We like to make money, out of anything and everything. But it looks to me that we Indians are definitely better at it! and we will stay better at it as long as we know that getting away after getting caught is never too difficult!

Sneha

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'I quit'

Few posts ago, I was writing about the most difficult thing to do, this post is about the easiest thing to do. I did not get enough time to do my usual informal survey for this topic, so I will just put in my thoughts. As far as I am concerned, the easiest thing that I have ever felt I could do was, to quit. Just that, simply quitting. Thats one action that gives you immediate relief and that has so far been the easiest thing to do. I am not talking about just me, I have noticed this with lots of people around also.

Im sure you already got my point, but to reinforce it, I will give you an example. Jogging is a great way to exercise, when you start your run, you feel good (because you almost hear your fat cells going 'pop' :) !!). But after you have run a long time, at a point when you are gasping and panting, all you want to do - is to stop running. Nothing else matters. Its as simple as that, You JUST want to quit running! and catch your breath.

If you have ever jogged, Im sure you will agree with me. When you are gasping for air, you think you are going to die or choke, though you know very well that not too many people fall and die on jogging tracks. Still, the facts and the statistics cannot reason with your brain at that time, because you want to stop. that is definitely the easiest thing to do.

It takes people with extra-ordinary will to keep going and not succumb to the temptation of doing the easiest thing. This simple example is very similar to many things that we face everyday. Anything difficult always comes with a loophole - and that hole will be the 'easiest thing to do'. in most cases, its just plain old escape. and everytime we turn our back and flee, we are making a voluntary choice. We know what we are doing, we know the consequences. In short, we know that we are quitting, but we do it all the time, because sometimes in life, you are just exhausted and to quit is the easiest thing to do.

You just want to get over with it, quit it and get on with whatever is left. Easy temptation I would say, desparation - you would say, but you know we have all done that sometimes. Some other times, thats the last thing we do. But we do.

Not to mention, in few cases, quitting would be the best thing to do. Thats the situation I would love to be in. Picture this, its the easiest, its the best..now, how cool is that??

Sneha

Friday, December 14, 2007

Almost lost

Nowadays my schedule involves a visit to Mylapore atleast once a week. Mylapore which is the cultural heart of the city also has to its credit another status. It has the most dense human traffic, second only to T nagar. or should i call it debit instead of credit? PS: recent researches show that laughing at poor jokes improves longevity ;)

Anyway, certain narrow streets of Mylapore are a driver's nightmare with pedastrians leaving no space for vehicles, small or tiny. The situation on the roads in the evenings is synonymous to pandemonium. So here i was with my weekly contribution to the confusion, wading through the sea of people, occupied with umpteen 'things to do' running in the head.

I stopped at Adyar Ananda bavan for a snack and asked for the standard dahi poori as a matter of habit. i had just settled at the table, putting the numerous bags that i was carrying on the table that I suddenly remembered that in fact, I didnt feel like dahi poori. I wanted something spicy. I took few quick steps to the counter, leaving all my things on the table, and corrected my order before the bavan chap started making the chaat.

I was back at the table in a matter of few seconds. I finished the pav bhaji, paid and started to collect my things to leave when i realised that my mobile phone was not with me. I was almost sure that someone had taken it during my short absence at the table or had someone picked my pocket? I looked everywhere near the table and gave a tough time for the waiters there. Most of them were quite sweet and finished searching the whole stretch of the floor. My phone was nowhere to be seen. The weather was infact very cool and it was drizzling, but i was sweating.

So many times in the past, I had come close to losing the mobile, but had never really lost it. I would search for some time and would ultimately find it. But this time, I thought, I had finally lost it. Who would want to steal a basic nokia? how much can the stealer sell it for? two grands may be. I was glad that I did not invest too much on the phone.

Losing it was not weighing too much on me, it was the fact that it got stolen that troubled me. After the thorough search, exhausted and disappointed, I sat down to ease my nerves. I knew that it was not a huge loss, that it was just a mobile phone for which i had spent hardly 4000 rupees, but most of us have this tendency of treating any loss that is slightly valuable to be life threatening, its pretty normal. I slowly calmed down, and I tried calling the number continuosly and it went on ringing. I was puzzled. If it was stolen, the first thing the person who stole it would do is to switch it off. Then to my great relief, my roommate answered the phone. I had dropped it at home before i started to go out. whew!!!

This taught me few lessons: one is that, i am never going to invest too much on something that i can so easily lose, and of course I will keep a back up of all contacts. two- no loss is actually life-threatening. we can lose anything that is valuable to us and still live through it. the only thing that we cannot live after losing is, of course our life!

By the way, today I almost lost my walet(just one day after the mylapre mayhem). yeah, i left it at home. But didnt someone say 'losing is part of a good life'? to put my original thoughts to that, 'almost losing' is more a part of life than actual losing. (applause, applause)

;)

Sneha

Sunday, December 9, 2007

too many reviews, too bad

Eventually, I read the book, 'The Alchemist'.
Few posts ago, since i got interested in the book, i was contemplating whether to buy the book or use the money for something else- that is, to buy a chicken biryani instead.

A kind soul who read that particular blog was exasperated to see me bring down one of his favourite books to chicken biryani levels and offered to lend me his copy. Thanks pal, people like you make the world go round ;)

Getting back to Alchemist, its a very sweet story of a shepherd boy who literally follows his dreams. He has a repetitive dream of a treasure and decides to follow it and ultimately gets his treasure. Full stop.

What got me interested in the book was the countless reviews that I had read on book sites like amazon and shelfari. If I had not read all those reviews, I would have really enjoyed the book. All the reviews, except a few handful, glorified the book so much and elated it in such a way that it increased my expectations sky high.

While reading the book, with every turning page, i was waiting for the contents to reach my expectations. But as I neared the end of the book, still waiting for the tryst, I realised how influenced i had been by what other people thought and told. That very fact prevented me from enjoying a book that is actually pretty cute by itself.

Certain things in life are best enjoyed when you just look at them with your own eye, critical or not. you should just do justice to your tastes and just forget what your friends and people around you think about it. Ultimately, each one of us are built differently and have different tastes. Some stuff i like, you may hate and vice versa. The same thing affects two people in two completely varied way. Well, we are just made liked that, different people, different opinions. ahem, im not advertising HSBC here.

A last word on the book. I felt its strength is simplicity. though it is a translated book, the language does not sit away from the context. it has got some passages that are thought provoking. On the whole, its a book thats put together beautifully, and the beauty lies in its simplicity. dont expect it to blow away your mind and pick the pieces up again to build a brand new you. Just enjoy it.

Sneha

Thursday, December 6, 2007

honey, I shrunk the media!

Media - a magical word. The plural of medium - the agent or instrument that communicates/conveys. While the television and newspapers and similar agents still act as the mass media, there arises a highly volatile, still powerful ‘personal media’.

Getting your writing published in any of the media was considered rare earlier. I still remember my first ever write up that was published in the daily newspaper, I had kept the cutting for a long time before I eventually lost it. The whole school was proud of it for the few days that the item appeared. And today, I write a blog and it is on the Internet!, for the whole world to see! (the whole world doesn’t want to read this rubbish, of course), but technically, it is there to be seen, whether anyone wants it or not. Something so unreachable is now available to anyone who has the interest and time. The very fact is amazing.

You cannot talk about personal media without mentioning the I-pods. These Apple’s kids are amazing and have brought lot of attention to personalising music. The other day, I saw a gadget that can play your ipod music on your car stereo, it can be used on static radios also. All you have to do is attach the transistor to the gadget which is already attached to the I pod and set it to a frequency that is empty(not used by other transmitting stations). Anyone in the radius of 50-100 feet can tune into his/her radio on the frequency that you are playing the music and listen to your music. and the people who use it, are not transmitting just music :)

Coming back to my blog, though I can call it ‘media’, it is definitely not mass media, it’s a highly personal media, I project only what I think is interesting and the things I think are important gets mentioned. Similarly I find millions of other people in this same media, they share the internet space and are part of the media.

Their views gets published, turns up at internet searches(google,msn) – this way, other people get to read it, some people who read it, think over it, sometimes act over it, and that is great. Sometimes, its not so great also. Anything that can be used, can be abused also. Internet probably is the most abused medium among all the media. The positive and the negative of this medium is the same, that it is ‘Available’. Available for use, available for abuse.

But for now, lets look at the bright side of it! Think what great things we can do with this gold mine. Viola! The media is personal

Sneha

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Books to buy (Compulsory this semester)

I was discussing with my friend, the best places in Chennai to buy pirated books and suddenly remembered the college days.

During my 2 years course, there was always a list of books that the college wanted us to buy compulsorily. Each one of us either had to place orders through the college, or buy a copy and that copy should be shown to the coordinator. He/She is said to note this and add it up to our internal marks!!! Anything that the students were supposed to do in the curriculam, was directly or indirectly and sometimes proportionately linked to the internal marks.

The college authorities took all this trouble to make sure that no single soul has been individually deprived of the knowledge and literature that the book provides. (its a pun... please!)

But in fact, these 'compulsory' books are the ones that are never, ever actually taught or used in the actual curriculam. To prove this to you, I will just give you the names of few compulsory books that we had to buy for the second semester; 'Power of positive thinking'. 'Case studies in Accounting'. Case studies! in accounting!! can you believe it?? Not even once during the classes were these books mentioned. Anyway, you get what i meant, right?

We being sensible hostelites (ahem), never really saw the reason to have more than one copy per 5 of us, or maybe 7 of us. Of course, there were few students who would buy each and every prescribed book and read it cover to cover. I dont mean them, I am talking about normal people, like me ;)

One of us would buy a pirated copy of the book and take it to the coordinator to show him/her and then hand it over to the next in waiting and that person would do the same and this will continue till all of us were convinced that our internal marks are safe. The bright part of this was, when I vacated the hostel, I did not have to carry away too many books. All my books fitted in to one compact cardboard box.

Sneha

Friday, November 2, 2007

To Believe

Whats the most difficult thing you have ever done in life?? Few answers i got from my friends: To think, to forgive etc., 'To believe' tops my list. To believe and have faith in things that do not have statistical backing and reasonable explanations.

Imagine a situation where a majority of the populace believes and has faith in a particular something, but when you try to make sense out of it, you never find any.. The mind always looks for sense, atleast mine does. When I am told something, or read something and am required to believe in it, I try to explain things to my brain using science, using the evidence available. its simple- how difficult is it to believe something when it can be proved?

Unfortunately in some cases, the issues that are widely believed in, are never explained by science. For example, intuition. I never believed in it, in the sense that it has to be believed. I was happy to rename it as coincidence. The only reason i believed in coincidence was because I could explain it. its not complicated. but intuition? well..

Of late, i have been reading many books that has strong thoughts and as a result, it set the brain thinking. While I was at it, my unbendable brain, which never accepted anything that was not explained by science started thinking about few issues that science could not explain. Intuition and Faith.

I am not saying my thinking system is totally freaked out, I am just saying that now, instead of living just by the facts and by the rules, I have started taking the minute and minor risks that science or statistics cannot explain. yes, iam surprised by the results, yes i will continue to be surprised till i believe more.

yesterday, at 7 pm, i took the guindy kathipara route to the mount road instead of my regular 8 kilometer muddy and narrow short cut and reached home in just about half an hour and its only 6.5 kilometers. It was a regular weekday and usually the Kathipara route means 1.5 hours on the road in incredibly heavy traffic, not to mention that 7 pm is just the height of peak traffic. anyday my muddy road takes me home in forty minutes, so all these days i used that except yesterday. Yesterday, i just had this totally confident gut feeling that its better to take the kathipara route, i never doubted it. all the same, i was surprised to find the traffic considerably less.

See, I know i am not making too much sense here, and thats exactly the point. sometimes, you just believe and act. Yes, of course its difficult! now you know why i said believing is the most difficult thing?

Sneha

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Giving it some time

I was trying to use an application on my computer system. Though this was everyday stuff at work, the computer today was not very co-operative. it just kept on hanging every few seconds. And this was just the beginning of the day! just 10 AM in the morning. I had a helluva lot of work to be done and the phone was ringing incessantly- calls from all the ppl to whom i owed the work.

I was getting very impatient and had ended the program couple of times with Cntrl+Alt+Del. Now, I couldnt do that any longer because I had typed a long and complicated mail and I did not want to end program lest the mail gets lost without saving.

I had had an incredibly long day the day before, infact the past many weeks had been unusually hectic. Yesterday, I had worked for 14 soild hours and that too in a feverish pace, spending just ten minutes on lunch. I didnt wanna do that again today! I had got up in the morning looking for my jeans, thinking today is the casual friday but realised its just tuesday! and to top it all, my computer wont behave and its just the start of another long day!

I was at the end of my wits. What I really wanted to do was turn the table and break the **** computer and tear the papers that were waiting to be reviewd and rip the phone lines which hadnt stopped ringing. But, instead I closed my eyes. My eyes were burning due to lack of sleep. Tonight, I thought(as I used to think everyday), I will have a long, long, peaceful sleep. For a few minutes, my mind went blank and I stopped thinking - it was easy, tired that I was, I could easily switch off.

I opened my eyes few minutes later, to see that nothing has changed. The system was still hung and not working, the phone was still ringing, the papers were still there and one of the project managers had left a CD on my table to install an application(more work for me) I wanted to scream, but I realised that I was less angry than I was before.

I got up and got out of the crazy zone, I just decided to give it some time. after all, all those people saying 'time heals' cannot be total empty heads! My system manager used to tell us to give the system some time while in hang ups. I really hoped the time theory worked on my over worked brain and my stupid over worked electronic box.

I hadnt read the papers, I started with metro plus and soon I was completely engrossed in the news. I didnt bother to answer any more calls. After about twenty full minutes, I folded the papers and got up, completely distracted and feeling better, I returned to my desk and saw that my PC had got back its senses and was out of its trance and that my mail was not lost.

I hit the send button and started on the day's work, afresh, anew. I knew I would feel doubly frustrated and just worser than ever by the end of the day, but that did not matter. This was 'the now' and I was feeling better. Giving it some time helps, a lot! so far proved by experience on human nervous system and a few select electonic machines!

Sneha

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Alchemist fever

Of late, i have been on a reading fever. I feel like reading all the time - this includes magazines, newspapers, fiction, non fiction, comics, etc., etc.,

When I had finished whatever printed matter I could lay my hands on, I started looking in the internet. Initially I read stuff related to work, then started looking for more interesting things to read. Though I had loads of work, I started copying pages of interest and read them in the seconds-long breaks I had!

Now, I wanted more interesting and substantial stuff to read, I started looking for e-books. Since I didnt know any great websites, i ended up reading some really throw away stuff. The free stuff online is really really trash-worth. Or maybe google doesnt list the good ones!

I never believed in buying books, because as far as I am concerned, books once read are completely exhausted. I never found a need to re-read any book, no matter how nice and interesting it was. While online and several websites wise, I grew an interest in the book 'The Alchemist'. I read a lot of nice reviews and I felt so eager that I actually decided to drive up to T-nagar and buy mysef a copy. I know a friend who has the book, but she is away on vacation, and I just couldnt wait!

So before I left, I thought I would read the amazon reviews. and i saw that more than 1 out 10 have given real bad reviews. No one has given a mediocre review, they either love it, or they hate it. No one says, its an OK read. Its either 'amazing' or 'trash'.

Spirits dampened, I am wondering now which category I will fall in - the love one or the hate one.. and have decided that I will buy myself a chicken biryani for the money that I kept aside for 'The Alchemist' and wait till my friend gets back to the city!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Cautious Indians and the Armenian air

Whenever someone tries to sell something to me, I am automatically on my guard. This response is not a result of thinking, its just a reaction which is almost a reflex. I do not start thinking about the product or realise it may be useful to me, but its like an automatic switch that flicks on and says “no” the moment I sense that something is being marketed to me.

I realise its not just me who acts like this. I observed that lot of people around have the same tendency. I even spoke to few of them about it. The answers that I got from them were mostly similar. Many feel that our population is the kind that finds a way to capitalise on anything and everything accessible to them. As a result there are people who are selling goods that absolutely useless. Also, our parents keep cautioning us against such people who are ‘out there to grab your money for nothing’. As a result most Indians are overtly cautious about things.

A well read and well travelled friend of mine still thinks that its an Indian attribute to try to make money out of anything at all. Wait till I tell her that, in the country of Armenia, the locals sell cans of ‘Air of Armenia’ to tourists! Technically speaking, thats nothing but empty cans! Ever heard of making money out of thin air? :)

Of course, you can never catch an Indian tourist buying the air. 'Buying air'!!! dont you think its a ridiculous idea? Well, maybe we Indians are too cautious, but that suits us, and our wallets!

Sneha

Simply Single

All weekdays, I have to get up early in the morning for my morning walk and then to freshen up and proceed to work. Saturday is one day that I get up as late as possible. The later I get up, the better equipped I am to face the upcoming fresh week ;)

Ideal Saturday: Meeting my friends (who are nice to me), and spending the evening reading the newspaper and sipping tea. Sunday starts with church and ends with me finishing the laundry and cleaning my bike.

If I didn’t live with aunty, I would probably fry an egg and make some toast for breakfast. Then throw in some half cooked veggies into a dabba for lunch to take to office. Day is good when there is quality work to be done. Day gets better (sometimes worse, he he) after a call from home; far away home.

Some evenings after work, I just like to take a detour on the way back home and meet a friend over coffee. Get back home, freshen up, finish dinner and hit the sack with a book! Do some easy reading or some useful studying before drifting into sleep.

Can life be any better?
I simply don’t understand why people decide to stop being good to themselves and get married!!! Well, for my mom’s sake at least, I do hope to understand one of these days!

Sneha

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Best birthday surprises -Part 5

Lucky's birthday. He was(still is) the most matured and practical guy in our gang. well, some would argue that he has to vie with me for the title, but lets leave it at that ;)

It was his first birthday post marriage. We hadnt seen one another in ages. We decided to go straight to his office to celebrate! but yes, we wanted to surprise him. So, tripleR befriended the HR of the company where Lucky worked and arranged with her to keep him in office at a decided time, so we can barge in and surprise him.

8 of us met in a common place and started towards his office in Mylapore. We had also taken an eggless bday cake, drinks and snacks. We set up the cake with candles and other food and drinks on tables and Lucky's HR (I forget her name, but I am sure TripleR would remember ;) brought him in and we sang the birthday song. Lucky's eyes popped out!
He cut his eggless cake as we sang happy birthday.

Actually, we ended up surprising more than just Lucky that day, his colleagues and his boss. It was a super success.

Another memorable one was Suresh's birthday treat. There were about ten of us, and we made Lucky and Asha drink spitfire(a pungent, infact spicy orange drink) at the Greams road Fruit shop. Of course, I had helped them with the order assuring them it was an amazing drink :)
Lucky nearly spit it!

Continued...

Best birthday surprises -Part 4

My Belgian birthday: The latest of my birhtdays was spent in a strange country, with people I had known only about a week. It was all very different, alright, but I missed the possibility of the usual surprises that we used to have in the good ol days :) But then, I thought to myself 'aint I getting a bit too old for that'.

So that was that, a regular day at work - or so I thought. It turned out to be a really joyful day! For starters, my colleagues in the Belgium office knew it was my birthday, I had not expected them to. When I came to office, my PC was already on and had 'Happy Birthday' on it, I thought that was so sweet of the colleague who did it.

Then, Linda gifted me a home baked cake with lots and lots of hazelnuts(from her parents' garden!) in it. It was so yummy. now i know why those squirrels in the cartoons are so crazy about hazelnuts! Later, I went around the city buying a lot of hazelnut chocolates! Anyway, I didnt miss my mom's cake :) Her son who was studying to be a chef had made it. I thought that was so terribly sweet of them!

Since I had been in Belgium for the past 10 days, I had been having totally bland food everyday and that killed the life out of the joy of eating. anyway, I had tried many of their dishes and actually liked them, so no regrets. Today, my kind colleagues decided to feed me spicy food and took me to a Thai restaurant! And the food was REALLY spicy and toooo good! It was another colleague's wedding anniversary so we celebrated jointly.

Lunch done, we got back to the office after a quick stroll. To our curiosity, there was a huge cardboard box standing at the door and it was carried upstairs to the office and stripped. Imagine my surprise when it contained colourful flowers addressed to me! My friend was nice enough not just to remember my birthday, but also to send some customised flowers abroad. now, thats a surprise!

Continued...

Best birthday surprises- Part 3

Ashwin's birthday: He was my boss, a real good one in fact! We were a small office and each one's birthday was celebrated specially. Mostly we surprised the birthday person, atleast we tried to ;)

Ashwin was a model boss. He was always the first to get to office everyday, at 7.30 or 8 in the morning, worked real hard, treated all his employees importantly, AND encouraged us to plan everyone's birthday surprises. So, it was going to be difficult to surprise him, but we badly wanted to..

For days we toyed with different ideas and plans and finally came up with a fool proof one ;)
The night before his birhtday, Shobz and I went birthday shopping and bought his gifts, a cricket book by Steve Waugh and a smiley stress buster rubber ball - He was crazy about cricket and had wanted to get the book himself. We got chocolate cake, glitters, balloons and other decorative strings and papers. We came back to office and did up his room till i think 9 or 10 in the night.

The next morning, at 7, all of us huddled inside his small room in the office. The plan was to stay locked in his room silently and surprise him by singing happy birthday and bursting the balloons, just as he opened the door to come in. Everything was perfectly arranged. We heard his car and waited breathlessly. He was on the phone when he came up the stairs and opened his door. All of us screamed "Happy Birthday", balloon bursting, glitter flinging et all! He dropped his bag, almost dropped his O2 phone on the hard floor.

I saw more shock than surprise on his face! :D but then, we did manage to genuinely "surprise" him :) ha ha

Continued...

Best birthday surprises - Part 2

One of my own bdays- It was my first year in college and I was not fitting too well -either into the course or into the crowd. But life was going on, in its own pace.

In the college facility, the staffs' room was among the PG (Post graduate) area and I had to go there to submit an assignment. As I was getting back, a senior girl who travels with me in the college bus took me by my hand and started talking animatedly. I was wondering what was wrong with her, she never even used to smile at us kids (UG first years). She deliberately pulled me into a class room where there were few more seniors, taking a break. Then I got the hint..

I started getting very nervous. I had thought ragging was practically non-existent in the college, as the previous year there had been a death related to college violence and punishment for ragging was very severe. I was already preparing in my mind what I would complaint to the college Principal when the girl suddenly presented me in front of a guy and left in a whiff. I was paranoid standing before him. This senior guy looked completely laid back and cool and he waved off the other guys who tried to join him in the fun. "So!"he bellowed, making himself comfortable on the bench "can the baby sing?". I shook my head furiously. "Liar! I heard you sing on the bus day!" Silence "Ok, then dance for me". What nerve! I thought to myself.

The break was over and the classroom started getting empty, much to my horror. In a few seconds, there were just the two of us in the room. I was close to tears. I told him I wanted to leave and started to, but he stopped me. "You are not going anywhere" he said firmly. I finally sang a song in a stupid voice and then he smiled and said I can go. I was so relieved! I almost ran out, he stopped me again. He brought out a huge chocolate bar, Cadbury's Fruit & Nut and extended it to me saying "Happy Birthday"! I was completely surprised and I broke into a wide smile and thanked him and off I went with my thrilling birthday wish!

We bumped into each other many times later that year and he turned out to be the one to show me the ropes in the college. We did keep in touch even after he left the college, but slowly lost contact. I hope to bump into him again in the future, but whenever I remember the first encounter, my heart pumps faster! :)

Continued...

Best birthday surprises - Part 1

For the record, I am gonna put down the best birthday surprises (my friends' and mine), not because I am gonna forget them, but just for a fun read. am not ranking this or anything..

One of the best was Asha's. She was engaged to marry Naren a few weeks ago and it was her birthday that day. Our gang usually tries to meet up to give the bums (pun) on all of our birthdays. That particular day was a weekday and it was crazily hectic for me. I could not spare a minute and was certainly gonna work late. but i so wanted to surprise her. I knew she would expect me to meet her. and she was not even allowed to meet her fiance' before marriage-the usual story..

So, after a bit of positive conspiracy, we traced Naren's phone number through his colleagues - none from the gang knew him personally, all we knew was he was working in Infy. I phoned him up, introduced myself, and asked him if he wanted to meet her, but of course they were not permitted to see each other. I told him that I would call asha and tell her that I wanted to meet her and that he can go in my place and surprise her. Another gang member got Naren even a flower bouquet!

So, I called her and told her that I was going to pass by and wanted to see her to wish her. She fell for it and agreed to come out of office and we fixed timings and all that. Imagine her surprise when her fiance' hopped out of the car, complete with flowers to wish her Happy birthday ;) - that time I was in a high tension meeting and didnt even pick up when she called!

Sneha

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wanna be friends?

Who says we learn from experience? Sometimes, we just end up doing the same things that hurt us over and over again. Then of course, we do it only because we like it. How ironic is that!

In the past few weeks, 6 of my best friends have moved away from town, for different reasons. Actually, no.6 and no.7 are just packing their bags and waiting. The other 5 have already left, each one has his/her own reason.

It was in these few weeks that I realised how dependant my life had been on my friends. I dont mean to say they are my basic needs, but they somehow complete my day. They are an integral part of social life, also giving emotional back up. Being in a different city definitely does not mean that they are not friends anymore, but geography matters. You see what i mean, right? If this girl is sitting in arizona, which is about half the globe away, can i ever catch up with her for coffee at the end of the day?

Just 6 people leaving at the same time has left me thinking in perspectives I had never thought before, such as this- Everytime we make a friend, when we get close to someone, are we just getting ready for another separation and pain. Yes, this sounds a bit far stretched, and yes, this thought will never make me stop making friends. Humans as they say are really social animals. We just cannot live without one another! :)

So people, here I come. I have 6 friends' worth time on my hands after all ;)
Sneha

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Whats good when its fat? ; )

Other than the pay check, of course...
The newspaper for one thing :)

This year, as always, we had lots of Independence day specials- special discounts at shops, special programs on TV, special promotional events by brands. The Hindu (newspaper), for its turn, brought out a real fat edition on 15th August, Wednesday. The newspaper was about 90 pages of printed matter. Of course there were lots of print ads, but still there was so much to read! Just the mere sight of a fat newspaper increases the joy level you know.

Not many of us read the whole of the paper, no matter how much time we have on our hands. But its a fact that we do like to see a fat newspaper everyday. Atleast, thats how i feel. I have always felt that information/knowledge is the most difficult thing to get. And the fact that so many journalists and editors put in their whole days' work in to it, only increases my respect for the mighty bundle of black and white! All this comes to you for just 4 or 5 bucks! I think its amazing..

Yeah..but that does not mean that i read the newspaper everyday just because i respect it so much. Appreciation is one thing, it is better than 4 bucks, it doesnt cost me anything ;) My sis knows better, she had had to try all tricks when i was younger to make me read the papers everyday. But fat newspapers are a totally different subject, no one has to motivate me to read them, the reason why they interest me, still intrigues me!

Sneha

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I woz. Literally!

I am reading the biography of this great guy who founded the the first ever practical personal computer, The CEO and founder of Apple computers, Stephen Wozniak. The book is titled ‘I Woz’. When I first saw it, I thought it must be some sci fi book like ’I robot’ ;)

It turned out to be a semi-auto biography, it is written by Gina Smith and Stephen Woz himself. It started on a good note and kept me on for the first few chapters. It is always nice to know about the lives of great people. But, I am just not able to bring myself to read beyond the first few chapters.

For one thing, the language is so American, which makes it very difficult to keep the interest. And whoever did the actual writing (Gina Smith, i guess) seems to have taped what Woz spoke and just typed it out to make the book without much helpful editing.

I feel that any language has to be projected carefully when it is written. When you are talking, you have the advantage of an additional medium. It is easy to make people understand things the way you want them to, but it is not always possible while its in script. That does not mean you have to use diplomatic words and phrases. It is still possible to capture all the action in writing. Good writers do it all the time.

Just out of curiosity, i googled this book's reviews and found I was not the only one complaining. Of course there were other ppl who liked the book also. But if you are the kind of person who appreciates a bit of good language along with the subject, I recommend staying away from this book, if you do want to read it, be my guest and get frustrated!

While the actual crux of the content is so exciting, the amateur language puts you off so much that you don’t want to read any further. What a waste of a good book!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yellow Stars on the floor

We were working late in the college computer lab again; the next day was the great show down of the computer projects. We had been working late for almost a week now and the application that we were supposed to present, the billing system was not working yet. When I stared at the monitor trying to figure what could be the possible code to make this **** thing work, I still had not understood why an MBA grad was expected to do a computer project and make the application work! Our profs had told us that the objective of this ‘exercise’ was not just the output that we have on the d day. It seems we pick up incentive skills while we are at this. Ya right! like these:

Learning new things: Yes, we are trying to crack .NET coding. No positive results so far.
Teamwork: The six of us had not reached the stage of exchanging blows yet, not bad.
Meeting deadlines: Of course, we haven’t finished our project, and the 2 assignments that are to be submitted tomorrow- we haven’t even started them. Great going!
Working under pressure: Why not, no lunch, the hostel mess closes at 9 pm. It was nine thirty already and we were still in college, no dinner.

My team-mates were exhausted, partly because of work, partly because of the high-pitched screaming-at sessions that we had had (for ease, I would call it ‘subject discussions’). There is always noise when great minds are at work, together! All of us were hungry, frustrated and angry at each other and also at the application we had chosen to develop.

After a brief intermission, we started arguing again. Five minutes later, Ramya cracked, she started sobbing. I couldn’t stand it anymore either. I took her out leaving the rest of my lunatic team and the systems behind. The lab attender threatened to lock us in if we didn’t leave sooner.

It was a cool night. Inside the building, there were workers welding something on the ceiling. As the sparks flew, they made an amazing sight. They were doing up something right in the middle of the ceiling and as the drops of fire travelled down, the height of about two floors and hit the ground below, it split into numerous smaller drops of light, bright yellow light. It looked almost like stars on the floor. We stared at this beauty for about 5 minutes, then we couldn’t look any longer, it sort of blinds the eyes.

I felt lighter and for some stupid reason, I even felt happy! Ramya also had recovered.

We got back to the lab, we had to wind up soon, we didn’t have too much of a choice. I knew our project is going to fail big time, I had trouble accepting the fact, especially because the expectations from us would be very high as we had won both the previous projects, the social research and the remodel one. Nevertheless, this is the result that we have today and we will be presenting it tomorrow with as much grace as possible!

We returned to the hostel and drank tea, finished half an assignment before we drifted off. Early morning was chaos, I wont go into details, otherwise, I wil end up writing a book!

So, we presented the project, of course we failed miserably. The judges, two experts, tore us into bits and pieces. And I felt the team that won just had beautiful html screenshots and not a single screen that actually worked, leaving all of us look like some stupid over worked blockheads!

To top it all, I was awarded grades for the two unfinished assignments also. I don’t even want to discuss it :(

It was a hard day, full of disappointment and bitterness. After all this, when I was getting back from college that day, I had a picture of beautiful tiny yellow stars on the floor. I was not trying to console myself by visualising them. I knew I had failed the project that I had so badly wanted to win. I have definitely learnt from the whole thing. But I was glad that something as insignificant as few sparks flying from a construction had made my day better.

Now, more than three years later: that day, is just another day of the past. Making silly billing systems work is no more on my list of important things. But, when I think of that day, more than the disappointment or the anger, I feel a sense of happiness, the sort of happiness i felt when i saw those sparks. How these small things of beauty give us such good memories!

Sneha

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Its a matter of Space

And I am not talking about the vastness in the universe or the earth's atmosphere!

'Give me space' – This is almost a normal statement in most relationships nowadays. Though I doubt if I can ever make my grand mom or even my mom understand what ‘giving space’ means. “In our times, ‘space’ was an unknown issue”, says my boss. “We knew our responsibilities and worked hard at making the relationships work”.

But now, we cannot imagine having any relationship that does not give the space that we need, because it is 'suffocating', and just few years ago, suffocation had only a physical/biological meaning!

Does this mean that we do not realise our responsibilities? Not really. Still, I have to agree that the effort that we put in to make a relationship work has definitely gone down. Blame the changing times, or anything else that you think is appropriate to be blamed, but we have changed. Our priorities have changed vastly.

Today, we seem to realise that we have a choice in life, most of us seem to concentrate on our own lives rather than living a life that is always dictated by other important people in our lives. I think it’s a good trend, I am sure my mom would disagree ;)

I am happy that I live in this period, when I am given my space, to think, to choose, to act, to live! Believe me, we are a lucky lot! It’s a nice time to be alive, so relish it :)

Sneha

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pain

When we are not prepared to handle a let-down in a relationship, the hurt travels too deep into the mind. Philosophers say that you should never expect anything from anyone. I really don’t see that as a good way of life. Come on, whats life without expectations? its VOID! It just does not work that way. Expectations are part of life.

Moreover, its not that you are going to have expectations from just about anyone you see on the street. It happens with people whom you believe are responsible, are trustworthy. When these so-called 'responsible' people let you down in a relationship, thats when it hurts, you feel pain. Sometimes you are shocked. It takes time for reality to sink in. After all the pain and fuss, what makes you get on to your normalty path is the fact that you are independent. What happens if you are so dependent on your 'trustworthy' relationship that you cannot function without their support? You either wither away, or you learn to be independent.

So, that said, Do expect, all the nice things that can ever happen :)
but whatever you are dealing with- people, machines..just remember that it’s a highly dysfunctional lot that you are handling. So be ready for mal-functions!

After all, surprises are part of everyday, aren’t they? As if I am gonna accept your argument! Ha ha

This is sounding good, on second thoughts, maybe i should put this under the label gyaan..

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The chances we take in life and my mood today

Yes, This post has got nothing to do with any chances anybody takes on anything and is all about my mood today.
And yes, I am evil! I conspired and cooked this title up so you would stop by and read this, expecting it to be some mantra of life.. otherwise why would u want to know about my mood???

Hey come on, dont stop reading, atleast not yet!
I deserve atleast one soul listening to my sad notes :(

so, my mood- awry! awfully awry. its not often that this happens. and not that iam not trying to do anything about it, I am trying. but everytime i read something or listen to someone trying to cheer me up, i get wilderly sadder.

after trying for a long time, i am just resigning this as one of those off-days. We all have it on and off. So, tell me, do you have off-days too? What do you do about it? Does anything at all cheer you up? Drop in your comments

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cats and Dogs

The aunty whom I live with, has a pet cat. Judging by the attitude he throws around the household, i feel that he(the cat) thinks we are all his pets, not the other way around.

Have you ever watched cats and noted how different they are from dogs? Dogs are pleasers. They make it obvious that they want you to like them. But cats, well.. I dont know what they think of themselves!

Aunty told me a cool story that clearly marks the difference between cats and dogs. It goes like this:
There lived a lady who had a cat and a dog as pets. Everyday, she feeds them and takes care of them, quite equally. So,
Dog thinks: Such a sweet woman, She gives me food, she takes care of me, she fulfills all my needs and she loves me. She must be God!
Cat thinks: Such a sweet woman, She gives me food, she takes care of me, she fulfills all my needs and she loves me. I must be God!

Have you ever wondered why you never find cats performing in the circuses or animal shows? I observed that people train practically any animal/bird on earth - including lions, tigers, fishes, birds...except a cat. It is because they are simply not trainable! Why is it so difficult to train this animal? I have not found a reasonable answer yet. You tell me if you know.

Sneha

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Biology anyone?

This is a doubt I have had, ever since I walked out of my biology class on that day when I was studying in 6th standard. Why do people associate love with heart??? I had grown up hearing people say things like 'love with all your heart' and 'from the depth of my heart' and similar stuff.

My teacher told me that all the heart does is circulate blood! She said it is the best pump in the world.

And all this while I had been thinking this heart is some super thing that does so much of complicated functions like loving, hating, feeling and all that jazz.. To know that it was just a pump, 'broke my heart' :(

The 'thinkers' among my friends told me that may be it was because people had difficulty associating emotions with brain and they needed something more romantic, so the heart was chosen. but lets face it, there is nothing romantic about the heart! Its not even a good looking organ. When its a question of looks, the lungs is anytime a better bet than the heart. and what about the liver, why not kidneys?

So please relieve me of my life-long doubt..tell me why you say 'heart-felt thanks' and not something like 'kidney-felt thanks' or 'SmallIntestine-felt thanks'??

;)
Sneha

Monday, June 18, 2007

Best time to be living in India?

One of the news items in The Hindu yesterday was that IT major Tata Consultancy Services has made a record by giving out 1006 job offers to students in the Anna university campus job selection.

The total number of students who registered - 2330, and TCS has given out 1006 offers! nearly 50% of the students are employed and this is just ONE company! Just think about the other innumerable companies in Chennai and other cities and states waiting to grab the students (Anna university or not) and put them on the company rolls.

Can you think of one single industry thats not doing well? Retail, IT, Realty, Construction, Bullion, Aviation, Hospitality - theres money everywhere. The opportunities that these industries throw around are never completely filled. In fact, there isn't enough supply of skills (manpower) to meet the demands. Gone are the days when you had to wait for ages to get into a job after finishing studies.

I think this is the best time to be alive. We have everything - The economy is on a roll, share markets are booming, almost every literate and skilled illiterate has some job or the other, the currency is gaining importance...and thats just what I can think of!

Could things get any better?

Sneha

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Love Deeply

Love deeply, Love passionately. You may get hurt, but that’s the only way to live life completely. A beautiful quote from one of those innumerable forwards via email. True to the last word.

While I read it, I couldn’t help but think about how we usually treat love and relationships in general. People who have gone through a failed relationship usually grow an emotional barrier around themselves. This is just a reaction to the pain that they have gone through because of the heartbreak. Once(or twice) hurt, they ‘learn’ from the experience and slowly retract within themselves.
Never opening up, rarely expressing feelings and never getting affected by others’ feelings towards them. They are scared that they will have to go through the pain again. It is sad, because mostly these overtly cautious people are branded as insensitive.

It is not that you never want to love whole-heartedly, its just that it takes a particular someone who loves you deep enough to break down this wall around the heart and pull you out..

Another quote that i read the same day: The deepest love and the greatest achievements are the ones bearing the most risk.
Though, do we ever want to achieve anything less than the greatest? So why wouldn't we love deeply again...

Sneha

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why do we forget birthdays?

I forgot my best friends birthday again! and of course, she is mad at me. She sent me a long e mail which said I dont care for her. But hey, thats not true! not true at all. You can never say that the person doesn't love you or care for you just because he/she forgets your birthday

I was just wondering.. Why is it that we rarely remember birthdays?
After deep thinking and rare insights, I have put together some possible explanations:

We forget birthdays because
reason 1) they come only once in a year - now, its only natural to forget things that happen only once a year. My mom has to do blood tests every year, and every year, she forgets! she thinks abt it only weeks later (dont ask me if she remembered my birthday, we will get to that after more thinking and more insights)

reason 2) its not a public holiday! - there are days that come only once in a year, but are still remembered - Independance day, Republic day, Gandhi Jayanthi. I never forget them, not because of the eternal love I have for my country, but because these days are public holidays! they are especially fondly remembered and looked forward to if they prefix or suffix a weekend ;)

but my sister is always mad at me for forgetting, she says that if you really care for a person, you have to take some effort to remember atleast their birthdays. So I did take effort and did remember quite a few birthdays including mine this year. My phone does my remembering. I fed them all in my phone reminder list, with 2 alarm reminders - a day ahead to buy a gift/card and then again on the day so that I dont forget why i bought the gift ;) aint i smart? :)

Sneha

Monday, May 28, 2007

Things that we take for granted

I finished reading a book titled "Inside the kingdom" by a lady, Carmen Bin Ladin, who had been married to a Saudi Arabian (Osama Bin Laden's brother, none less!) and had lived a good part of life in Saudi.

The book was not exactly an eye opener. These are facts that we already know: oppresion of women and their low status in their country. how in the name of religion, they are not even allowed to think! every other thing is either a sin or a shame.. and women who dare are punished (killing seems to be the regular punishment for such 'offenders')
I wouldn't say this is the best book written on women's plight in the Middle east. Yet, after reading it, I felt a deep sense of relief of having born in a democratic country like India!

Things that we have always taken for granted, the women there have rarely experienced. For example the freedom of thought, speech, choice etc.,

Well, I am wordless..but I know that I have the freedom to write if I choose to and I am happy about it

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lets have the missing checkered flag here

Have you been in formula one? or tried scuba diving? or bungee jumping? or chennai driving? gives you such a high! It excites you, pumps up the adrenaline, full throttle. you should try one of these, if you haven't, you are missing life!

No kidding..My boss (who was visiting Chennai, first time) took the team out for lunch and by chance happened to sit at the front of the car, near the driver. He is of the opinion that driving in Chennai takes you to the primitive laws of nature..survival of the fittest and the fastest and the most alert and the most alive! - all at a speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour, I must add.

Well, something to be proud of.
i know what its like without having to pay for a bunjee jump!

;)
Sneha

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Parrot green and pink :) and courteous Indians

It was a very important ceremony and I had to buy a new outfit. I went around the city and found what I wanted, the colours were maroon with zari.

I was discussing with a friend about the ceremony. He was also supposed to take part in it and we were discussing our outfits over the phone. He asked me what I was planning to wear. I told him that I got a real neat dress with a beautiful combination of parrot green and pink ;) For a few moments, no sound from the other end (well, obviously)

At length he said "mm, well..im sure you will look great in it". When I went on about how pretty the combination of the colour is, his comments were still on the lines of "oh yes, its good" or "it will be nice"

When finally I said "the combo is a bit bright, but it is very colorful..in any case, parrot green and pink is a horrible combination, why cant you just say that?". He blurted out- "but you have bought it, right?". Then I told him that I was just playing a prank on him. I sometimes wonder we Indians are a bit too courteous!, to the point of being misleading! next time my friend says something stupid, i think i will tell her/him slowly that it is what it really is.

Hey, but this is not to offend ppl who do like parrot green and pink combination.
After all, its not all that bad...
I mean, bollywood uses it a lot...
and yes, it sometimes suits some people ..
and..well :D
you know, i am Indian too..

Sneha

Monday, May 7, 2007

Life's little worries





This is a cute photo and caption that I thought would be fun sharing with you.

Appeared in 'The Hindu' Chennai edition on the last page of the main sheet this sunday.

The little fellow is really upset that his hair is all gone. As the caption says, life has its own worries.. We call this little, but it matters the world to this chap!


Trust Hindu to come up with such interesting images!




Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Its movie time

I am sure you guys would have watched the hollywood movie "Speed" (Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. have i spelt them right??). For those who have not, it is an action drama where there is this bomb planted in a bus carrying some clueless passengers. The bomb is programmed in such a way as to blow up the whole bus if the speedometer falls below certain count (50 miles i guess), once it crosses it. So Sandra Bullock keeps driving the bus on and on without stopping or slowing against all odds on the road.

Now, I am talking about one particular shot, where the bus reaches the end of a half-constructed road. the road re-starts after an interval, and in between there is a deep space gap. In the movie, Sandra just accelarates, the bus is shown to be flying across the space and lands on the other side of the road wherefrom the road is operational.

Question: Do you think such a stunt is really possible? Since I cant hear you now, let me jus say what I think. NO way! There was a time when I thought things in motion if accelarated enough can go in a straight line even if they are not in contact with the ground. Eg: Bullet fired from a pistol. That was only till i watched this program which showed how they made this movie (Speed). The director was explaining how they could never have pulled it off no matter how they tried, because once the bus takes off from the road, it is pulled by the gravitational force from the earth deep below. So by all the glory of explanation, what the bus will do once it loses contact with the ground is- nosedive to where it is pulled from! So how did they make it fly up in the air? Simple, they elevated it.

Now that it is the end of the post, i have to give you something really interesting. Did you know that even a bullet that is fired does not travel in exact straight line in space? before it reaches the target, its altitude drops a bit because gravity pulls it down. Serious, i am not bluffing!

Sneha

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BRAIN and MIND

A very interesting question on Yahoo! Answers, and few answers that ppl had posted. One of these answers was posted by me. You have to guess which it is, ok?

What is the difference between BRAIN and MIND exactly-?(Wanted by someone for school project)

Answer 1-Brain is part of a human body:
It works to retain memory:
Mind is a non-physical one:
mind is the cause for all the activities of the human

Answer 2-brains is in actual term
mind is in factual term
i mean, brain is a physical quantity and mind is figment of our imagination
brain is part of mind if we think, but reverse is not true

Answer 3-Depending on what your exactly what you are looking for, people distinguish brain and mind in a biological and philosophical sense.
When people speak of the brain, it is usually spoken about in the sense of neurons and chemical processes that can be described in a more scientifc manner. The mind, on the other hand, is seen more as a philosphical idea.
To put in better words, the mind is seen as something apart from the body that reflects on ideas, thoughts, and feelings. This is a pretty general difference that people make between brain and mind but the debate goes on whether one or the other actually exists.
Hope this helped.

Answer 4-The brain is anatomical, the mind is not

Answer 5-Mind is the brainchild of the brain!
Let me explain, Brain controls all the body functions, including thinking. In the primitive days, nobody knew biology very clearly, So much so that they invented ways to 'understand' things in a way it can be easy. Simple people like them had difficulty believing that an organ made of flesh and blood (the brain) can do such marvellous things as thinking, analysing, distinguishing, philosophising and so on.
So, to make things to be easily understood, they started distinguishing the mind (conscience) from the brain. The fact is that, it is their brains that thought up such an idea! Interesting na?
Let me know if this helped!

Answer 6- The mind is how we think and the Brain is the actual organ

Answer 7- The brain is the actual, physical organ; the mind is a more abstract concept used to collectively describe many of the functions of the brain. Mind would not include things like the control of body functions or reflexes, but does include things like thought, perception, and memory

Answer 8- Brain- is a term used to indicate the organ in the head. Mind- resembles the activities of the brain

Answer 9- Brain is used in bio or science and mind is usually used in literature.There is no diffrence between them


Now leave in your comment and tell me which you think is mine and of course, give me your ideas of the 'difference'!

Sneha

Aint it interestin!?

Listen to this! Something I found in the internet:
Men have 4% more brain cells than women, and about 100 grams more of brain tissue.

Now dont think I put this up here to glorify the not-so-fair gender..
Here comes the punchline:

Many women have asked the scientist why men need more brain tissue in order to get the same things done.
(Touche!)

;)
Sneha

PS: Dont think I am bluffing about the facts. Here, go check it out for yourself:
http://www.doctorhugo.org/brain4.html

Monday, April 23, 2007

Plastic new-sense

Just the other day, I had a heated argument with a fellow pal about a revolutionary product that has made our life incredibly easy at the same time is unbelievably evil..plastic. He was arguing for and i was arguing against.

My friend considers plastic to be the most important invention of all world history, only next to the invention of wheel. Understandably so, he is a product designer. If you are a designer, you will know what exactly i am talking about.
Just look around you and you will realise that plastics have become an integral part of your life. right from complicated machinery to the water bottles and pens that we use everyday, almost everything around is made with plastic. This is a wonderful chemical component that has made life so easy.

Agreed! also to be considered is another factor of concern- the waste that is generated beacause of plastic use (read misuse). We do not have an amazing plastics waste management system as yet. That means they are just dumped in the soil.
Plastics are notoriously synonymous to the term 'non-biodegradable'. Anything that is non biodegradable chokes the earth, takes away the fertility of the soil and pollutes the ground water.

I am not forming a league to ban all plastics on the planet, I am addressing only a small (but considerable if long term) portion of the pie - something that i practise and is immensely satisfied with. Minimal use of plastic bags.

Multi-coloured plastic bags are almost omnipresent. All stores- big and small, market places and commodity shops use them because they are very cheap. And we the consumers accept them because they are very convenient. Observing at one of the stores, I saw people asking for/accepting plastic bags even for carrying single,tiny pack of snacks

Next time you buy something, think if you really need that plastic bag. Cant you just carry it in your handbag/pocket? Cant you just throw it in the back of the car/the pouch of the bike? or even better, if you have a shoppers bag lying there in your vehicle, use that when you shop for veggies or other commodities. Now, thats not too much to ask for, is it?

Sneha

You are FREE..finally!!!!! yeah..but whats so exciting abt it?

There are times when you are just baffled by the fact that you are so independant!

You have done studying, have finished slogging through those hard mathematical problems and chemical equations and never-ending homework..you dont have to prepare for one exam after the other..School and College are actually over!

You have gone through and come out of those jobless days when you attended a minimum of two interviews a day and lived on unbelievably less money so you dont have to ask mom and dad for money. Now you have a reasonably paying job. No more waiting for pocket money to buy an icecream.
You are no more a 'teenager'/adamant adolescent-so, no more taking permission from mom to watch the movie you wanted to go to with friends.. No more curfews on weekend nights..

Now you are grown-up (!?!) You have total freedom. You are independant- physically, mentally, financially. but, wait a second, what are you going to do with all the freedom and the glorified rights that you have in life?? All those textbooks and seminars had never taught what is to be done when one fine day, you are free from the several bondages that had held you back so long!
Enough food for thought for a few seconds? why dont you tell me what you have done/are doing/will do with your freedom.. Leave your comments..

Sneha

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Favourite Churches in Chennai

You can begin your Sunday with a visit to one of these beautiful churches. If not for praying, you can enjoy the peace and beauty. There is a very quiet, small church atop a hillock in St.Thomas mount. It’s only a short drive of about 30 minutes from the heart of the city. The hillock, on which the church stands, is inside the Officer’s academy premises between Pallavaram and Meenambakkam. This place is special to me, as students we have visited it many times. It is a place from where you can see most part of the city and also the landing and take-off of aeroplanes since the Airport is not far away.

Another church of beauty is the one in Santhome – Basilia. This is the place where the St.Thomas has been buried. Visitors are allowed to the tomb. It has got awesome stained glass painting works! This church is close to the Marina beach.

Inside the campus of the Loyola college/university is a beautiful church, which was built as a chapel for the students of Loyola. Visitors are allowed. Families in the nighbourhood flock to this place for the Sunday morning mass. Again special to me for personal reasons ;)

St.Mary’s Church in Besant Nagar. This church stands very close to the Elliots beach and is said to be the oldest church in Chennai, now renovated and extended. Believers and tourists flock to this place any day of the week.

St.George’s Cathedral church. Gives you the old world feeling; right in the middle of the busy city. I was a regular to this one till about few weeks ago. You would be surprised by its extensive cemetery. There is also a smaller chapel inside the same premise. It is a very peaceful place..

This can go on.. but these churches TOP my list :)
If you live in Chennai, try visiting few of them when time permits..

Sneha

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Its money honey…

It’s funny to think how much these simple green papers matter! Though I would like to have loads of it, I just hate it for all the importance people give it! But I have to admit that this “hate” is because I still can’t think of many ways to lay my hands on enough of them. Haven’t you heard of the fox and the sour grapes story? ;)

Was just wondering…how much of money is there in the whole world? All currencies put together? What if I had all of it?











(no words because I just passed out)

Frankly, how much is too much? When do you think you will finally get convinced that you have enough money and that you don’t need any more of it?
Two possible answers: 1)Never 2)When you attain immortality

I don’t know about you, but since I do not have much hopes of attaining immortality, I think I fall in the “Never” category. After all it’s only fair. Money is like the elixir of energy in the world. Imagine a world minus money. No money, no reason to work, no joy of buying something new, no goals in life, no success, no motivation, NO NOTHING!!! It is scary, really! I am all for glorifying money, who cares if it is such an attention seeking entity, after all its worth it. Whatssay?

Monday, April 9, 2007

How to become a successful entrepreneur

Here is an article that I stumbled upon few days ago..
Disclaimer: This article was not written by me. Writer: unknown. Source: I dont remember!

Cheers!
Sneha


How to become a successful entrepreneur


Anyone who is employed has dwelled over this at some point or the other, some far more than others. That's the kind of allure 'being your own boss' holds for most people.
The sense of achievement in owning a set-up, and being chiefly responsible for it's future is the kind of kick one can never derive from a job. But, greater returns always involve greater risks. One needs to plan and execute with a high degree of detail to counter the many challenges a business throws at the entrepreneur.

Keep a lookout for these pointers if you finally get down to executing your dream of self-employment:
Being fed up with your current job isn't a good enough reason to start-up. It is more than a full time responsibility. Work does not end with office hours, and chances are that initially you will see more hardships than success. It takes intense commitment to stick it out through these tough times, especially when you know that your past job pegged you at a certain market value, which you are not matching with this new business.

More importantly, a half-baked decision to start a business not only leave you with little chance of doing well, it also jeopardises your options of getting back to as good a job as the one you left.

Understanding the nature of a business
The first step is to understand that businesses don't start with a great idea, or a breakthrough innovation, every business starts with the customer. If you are looking to get into a business as an inventor, try finding a client who'll pay you to develop something they need. Most of these clients will let you keep the rights over the invention, so that you can sell it to other clients later.
Entrepreneurship = 60 hours of work
This might be easier than it seems, and in business, success has got to do more with creating such opportunities and making the most of them.

Check for these skills:
Engineering -- the skill to invent and develop new products (or services)
Manufacturing -- the skill to deliver products, consistently and reliably, with quality, service, and price
Selling -- the skill to sell the products
Business -- the act of making a profit by doing the first three
While starting a business, the skills you will surely need are engineering and selling.
The longevity and profitability of the business are usually determined by the manufacturing and business skills. The level of competency you choose for the business decide how refined these individual skills need to get.
In case you choose the competition space as a local market or a niche industry, then the focus goes up drastically on one skill, while going down to a basic hygiene on the rest.

Breaking the 'notion' barrier
All your education and work-experience must have given you a perspective on how businesses work. These experiences, and the notions that they bring along with it have their own limitations. They don't quite give you the complete picture.
Also, most of this 'experience and knowledge' constitutes the answers to yesterday's problems. It might not necessarily apply to what goes on today. And there is an even stronger possibility of this know-how getting obscure in the future.

Finding the funding
In the ideal case scenario, find someone who will be willing to pay you for what you are currently doing. This is a critical stage for most businesses. Do not let go until you are convinced that you have exhausted all opportunities.

Got what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
The next best option is to find someone who has a similar business need. Then go about designing a solution for him. Try brainstorming further to keep customisation to a minimum so that the solution can be taken to other potential clients with minimum modification.

The benefit of having partners
There is only that much one person can do.
Like most businesses have separate business units or heads such as manufacturing, marketing etc., the skills needed to run most businesses too are quite varied.
What are the odds that you will be adept at the technical, marketing, selling, business and political aspects of the business? Besides, having partners makes sense on many other levels. Firstly, as the number or people owning the business goes up, the risk and intensity of a loss goes down. You can stay on in the market for longer in case of a lean period.
Also, since the business heads will most likely be split among the partners, one can focus on a couple of areas while doing complete justice to them and focusing on nothing else. This makes the entire business a lot more competent.

Don't quit your day job, just yet
You don't need to take the big jump straight away. Building a business takes a lot of time and groundwork. Spending up to an hour a day after work is a feasible option initially. It also helps you get a feel of what a business must be like.
Moreover, getting in a pay cheque every month is always the smarter option, especially when you might not have a steady income for some time to come. A few things you can do alongside work might be:
Examine the feasibility of the business model
Buy market research target market
Understand the selling patterns of related products
Get options on funding
Develop a marketing plan for various budget constraints
Talk to other entrepreneurs and get some tips off them
Try getting inputs from a venture incubation centre
Get a transition plan ready
Consider the worst-case scenario, and work on a feasible exit clause even for that. Chart out the future, the incoming revenue streams, how long do you plan to be in the business, exit options etc. Also, have a financial cushion in the form of some investments that you leave untouched while at the business.

Starting a business? Say goodbye to your ego
Try roping in venture capitalists at the earliest stage in the business to enable you to work under lesser financial pressure.
Tomorrow is just a second away from today
There is only that much preparation that one can put in. Stop finding excuses to delay getting into the business. You cannot learn swimming from a textbook. Take the plunge. Learn what works for YOU and what doesn't. There is no right or prescribed way to run a business. In fact, there are as many ways as there are people running successful businesses.
Also, this is as good a time as any to be an entrepreneur. The economy is growing; the government is supporting new ventures through various measures in the recent budget. And most importantly, the number of avenues for growth and the kind of opportunities available are unparalleled today.
So go on, what's stopping you from being your own boss?

City with a heart

I am not even trying to count the number of NGOs (Non government organisations) in Chennai! They are just innumerous. Every noble cause has supporters here. Right from planting trees to saving street dogs; from rehabilitating rag pickers to feeding the homeless, Chennai is one city that is full of people with golden hearts.

These are just few of the sites worth sharing.

http://www.hindu.com/2007/02/04/stories/2007020415240300.htm
http://www.ivolunteer.org.in/news/VolOppsChennai.htm
http://www.chennaibest.com/discoverchennai/ngowatch/index.asp
http://puggy.symonds.net/pipermail/health-india/2003-March/000082.html

In no other city have I seen people so worried about their fellow humans and the environment that they live in.. So what makes them tick? Do you have an answer? a comment may be? jot it here, I would definitely like to know!

Cheers!
Sneha