Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Anatomy of a Mousehunt

Our blissful existence was shattered one day when Roomie 1's parents informed us that our kitchen had an unwanted inhabitant - a mouse. He behaved exactly opposite to what children are ideally supposed to, he was mostly heard and rarely seen. He could be heard at night, gnawing away at the cardboard boxes of our TV, fridge and washing machine. Our relations by and large were cordial, we didn't disturb his nocturnal routine and he didn't bug by intruding in our rooms (at least to the best of our knowledge).

But change was underway. The mouse was getting more adventurous. Roomie 1 was once seen blazing a trail out of the bathroom, because the mouse had decided to use the loo at the same time. Yours truly once disturbed his rest by banging utensils a bit too loudly. He responded by streaking between my legs and I jumped, almost touching the roof. Roomies 2 and 3 also reported sightings. It was decided by general consensus that the mouse was HUGE and it was best that we steer clear of it.

Our cook tried to pass off valuable advice, like telling us where a mouse trap could be obtained. Lazy people like us were content to let things be. Roomie 2 after detective work discovered the fact that the mouse was using the kitchen sink drain pipe to gain entry into our house. Recently the poor fellow (the mouse) got locked inside a cupboard in the kitchen and wrecked havoc. But life continued as we were willing to forgive and forget. Till today.

The mouse became a bit too bold for our liking. The absence of Roomie 1 might have contributed to this sudden change. Anyway, on fine Sunday morning aka Today morning, the mouse ventured out of this adda (viz the kitched) into our hall. Roomie 2 and I were going through our mindless Sunday ritual of watching Boogie Woogie. Roomie 3 had gone to buy milk for his cornflakes.

The ritual was suddenly interrupted by the shriek of Roomie 2 - he had spotted the mouse in a corner. This was a particularly crowded corner, with 3 folding beds and 2 suitcases piled there. I quickly shut all the doors out of the hall, except the door leading to the balcony. Roomie 2, a true football fan boldly started kicking the junk in the corner, hoping to make the mouse come out of his hiding. I was content cheer him on. At this point Roomie 3 arrived with his was greeted by this spectacle. After being told was going on, he headed to the kitched. After he came out with a glass (which looks like a mini-jug) of milk, he too joined into the Mouse hunt which underway.

After carefully removing stuff from the corner, the mouse was exposed, he rushed back towards the kitchen, and found the door closed. This sight brought the all the wild life photographer instincts of Roomie 2, who rushed to find his camera. He bravely went close to the mouse, getting closeups and video clips, that would hopefully one day earn him name and fame.

The mouse went around the hall 3-4 times, never once going out of the door that we had invitingly opened for him. Roomie 2, with compassion welling up for the mouse in his kind heart, said that we should open the kitchen door, as the mouse "just wanted to go home". Roomie 3 suggested a novel method to trap it, spread jam on a tray and the mouse will get stuck in the gooey stickiness of the jam. I was merely content to jump about and make noises last heard in the song Hum bewafa hargiz na the from the movie Shalimar. For those who are clueless ... the sounds are Jhinga-lala-ho Jhinga-lala-ho.

After an animated debate among us about the fate of the mouse, we decided to open the kitched door and let him go home. The mouse responded by scooting toward his gandi naali. We too called it quits for the day. We all lived to fight another day, but I have a feeling that this battle between man and nature is not yet over.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Iss desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta :(

The entitlement economy is causing a crisis of selection—it is impossible for India to be competitive globally unless it can put together its best team, regardless of groups the players belong to. Competitive intolerance is beginning to hollow out intellectual and cultural life. And leaving political violence unpunished is not only wrong in principle, but extremely dangerous in practice—not least in the context of caste/community-based entitlements.[Mint]

The author's blog is here.

Do we even need to think twice why educated Indians fly abroad?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Counting blessings

Readers of this blog may have noticed, my general mood is that of being pissed off with life :). However, it is good to sometimes take stock and count blessings. After all, life cant be all that bad, there must be something going for me.

So where do we begin. I have a regular job, which pays good money. Never hurts to have some money in the bank. I am treated reasonably well within the workplace and have made a set of friends there. Due to the intensive nature of the company's training program, we have a lot of shared experiences to talk about. Many people are from Delhi and we often talk about our beloved city. I can afford to take a week off every 3-4 months or so and go home by plane. Considering that 2 years ago, I had never sat in one, this is quite an achievement.

On the home front, I live in a nice house in one of the better areas of Bangalore. There are lots of avenues for shopping and eating out nearby. My office is not too far away and if autos misbehave, its quite easy to walk back home. The place is quite, with lots of greenery. This peace is ritually disturbed by the yelling and screeching from the people living below us every morning. But I am usually asleep, or in office so am not frequently disturbed.

The inmates of the aforementioned house are all batch mates who spent 5 years together. The set of shared experiences and common acquaintances has made our existence an extension of hostel life. In addition to my flat mates, there are more batch mates who are neighbours. Some old hostel friends are frequent visitors. The presence of all of them has helped to reduce the shock of shifting to a new unknown place. Given all the rush in Bangalore over the weekends, time can just be spent by talking about the good old days in IIT.

Sometimes I wonder how other people who move into new surroundings get by without the presence of old friends ? Many people who I studied with might now be working or studying in places where they do not have old friends to lean on for support. It takes time to build up relationships and you have to start all over again with new people. With the help of the Internet however, old friends are never out of reach.

These are by no means an exhaustive list of things going for me. There are other things like good health, family, good education, the stamp of India's premier college. And many more things which I probably take for granted. I mean, how many of us a grateful about the fact that we got to go to school ? Last weekend, I watched a movie, Blood Diamond which is set in a remote part of Africa, where children's limbs are amputated by warlords and children are made to use guns to kill people. This kind of made me look at my life and that of my peers in a new light. We are not even aware of the kind of handicaps that many people around the world face.

Why look at the world, even in India people face various challenges due to their caste, religion, region, gender etc. The problem is that people try to level the playing field by striving for equality of outcome, rather than equality of opportunity. But I am digressing here. The point is that there is always a silver lining to a dark cloud.

The ideal state of affairs, as it is said in the Bhagvad Gita is that a person should stop distinguishing between lab-haani, sukh-dukh, jay-parajay. There should not be any difference between the dark cloud and its silver lining. I think that I have a long way to in this regard.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Chutti ho gayi!!

The importance of most things in life is realised only after they are taken away. Same is the case with summer vacations; that period of bliss, with power cuts, mosquitoes and sweltering heat thrown in for good measure. In lower classes in school, vacations were always accompanied by loads of "holiday homework". It mainly consisted of useless chores like cursive writing or writing essays on "my summer vacation", which were probably concocted to save mothers from going mad with kids tearing about all day with nothing better to do. Other stuff like making charts was homework for family members, rather than the student!!

I dont even remember my first summer vacation, which would have been in KG. Life back then was one big vacation. I was recuperating from chicken pox, so I didnt join school when the session started in April. I started going a few weeks later and after a short period, there were vacations. I do remember that in the excitement and confusion I lost my water bottle, which if memory serves me correctly, was a red plastic one. It was a new one; bought especially for going to the Big School.

Vacations were also the time for visting my Nani's house, which I have covered in another post. Back then, in the good ol' days there was no cable TV or Internet to pass time. Time was probably passed by reading books and playing with friends in the evening. The last few weeks of the vacations were spent in hurriedly doing some bits of holiday homework, which had been put on the back burner for a long time. As one grew older, one became wiser to these tricks played by teachers and stopped doing this homework stuff altogether. This was my answer to W.H. Davies when he asked:

What is this life if, so full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.

: Summer vacations!!

People would expect that life would be all work and no holidays in IIT, but that was surely not the case. With 10 weeks in the summers, and another 3.5 in winters, were certainly had more than our fair share of holidays. My parents were initially shocked at what they thought was a waste of time, when their ward would have been better off studying :).

But as they say, all good things must come to an end and so has this saga of summer vacations. The last of them was sighted around a year ago, when I completed all the requirements for my degree and spent a good month and a half at home doing something which I excel in - doing nothing. The past 5 years in IIT had led me to take vacations for granted. Life was one big vacation with major and minor irritations thrown in. The vacation was not in terms of no work, it was in terms of no tension in life. There were occasional cases where a frustoo fight was required to pass a course, but other than that, life had a nice regular pattern. In my final semester with no courses and a good job, I had a golden period of 4 months, as did all of my friends. Perhaps that what the IITs need to sell about the dual degree program!!

So coming to the present, I am working my ass off for a release, which in all probability will not be used by any customer. It will be a build number preserved for posterity; or atleast as long as the backups hold. It shall also be noted that I was the one who fired some builds, long after I am not around. Now every weekend is savoured down to the last second. All vacations, or rather apology of a vacation, is used to go home. Still, I am better off than many others, atleast I do manage to get a week off once every 3-4 months. Summer vacations were always a big occasion; I guess that their loss means that finally we are in the BIG BAD WORLD of adults.