Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fake Email - A Rant

I keep getting these obviously fake emails - from places like Uganda, Nigeria etc. I really do not know which moron will even believe these fake-sters. In fact there is a variant of this that tells you that you are being offered a $10000 per month job in some god forsaken place on an oil rig. The next time I get that, I'm going to put it up here as well: So here is you dose of humor for the day:

This office received an instruction to release your payment.The chairman Africa union (au) in conjunction with his European union (eu) counterpart have agreed to ensure that the good relationship existing between them is re-echoed and therefore have decided to make payments to all beneficiaries been owned by Africa union member states via contracts,inheritance and lottery winnings/other related payments.
In their recent interview with British broadcasting co-operation (bbc) they agreed that the recent grant to African union be utilized for the payment of such debts through our bank. However the (au) secretariat will handle all the processing to avoid the battered image of our continent concerning financial transaction.
You are hereby requested to choose from the below options of payment for confirmation.

Requirement : Your bank details.

Requirement :Your present home/office contact information.
3) Automated Telegraphic Machine (ATM)
Requirement :Your present home/office contact information.

We wait to hear from you .
Yours faithfully,
Mr Edward Van (SECRETARY).



Tuesday, August 24, 2010


When you are the son in a household with one son and one daughter, you pretty much learn the basic fact that your role in the general auspicious days in the household is to be the 'edupudi', helping my folks to move objects, cleaning spaces and of course, going out to get the items for the festivities. The one day in the year when the guy in the house is given a token 'vanakkam' is on the Aavani Avittam. You get asked if you would like Poli or Sakkaraipongal. In spite of it being a fleeting moment of being attended to, it is a reassuring feeling.

Till the time I was in school, the advantage of studying in a 'nambalavaa' school was that Aavani Avittam was declared a holiday and the school used to start late on Gayatri Japam day. The only catch to the Aavani Avitam holiday was since you were not supposed to eat anything before doing sandhyavandhanam and the fact that typically the main food was served at 11am meant that you had to wake up early, bathe, do sandhyavandhanam, then go to the samithadhaanam and then do Kaamo-kaarsheeth japam and then the poonool changing meant that as soon as the 3 course meal was served, you pretty much crashed for 2 or 3 hours after that. The disadvantage with these one-off holidays in India is that once you sleep during the afternoon, once you wake up, you feel depressed that you lost the day. One more round of batchanam in the afternoon and religiously do the evening sandhyavandhanam (you feel guilty if you don't do it as the entire day revolves around the poonool) and do 'palakaaram' (consisted of good tiffin material - Dosai, Chappathi kinds) and then since I was supposed to not have rice, do a mega round of fruits after the tiffin and then go to bed. All this made the task of waking up on Gayatri Japam all the more difficult. You still had to, and you religiously use all counting tools (fingers, thannile kodu, dharbai pichu podudhal) you make sure you exactly say the mantram 1008 times. Then, the advantage of studying in the 'nambalavaa' school was that you could proudly display your 'nambalavaa' traits of forehead markings and kinda overdo the part by having painted wrist and arm markings. You and the most of your 'nambalavaa' classmates talk about how you did/did not do the 1008 thingy (this was in middle school). If you were in high school, then sufficient care was taken to wipe out the marking sufficiently so that there is just a hint of it, leaving people to guess whether your were religious or not. Oh, the stupidity you go through during adolescence.

Once you go to college, though the Aavani Avittam day goes as usual, Gayatri Japam does not come with a late start. So you hurry through the 1008 and you are extra careful to wipe out all traces of your early morning activities and you go to the college bus stop and take extra care to make it seem that it was just another day. The fact that I studied in one of the most wannabe colleges in Chennai meant that you had to publicly disassociate any link to 'nambalavaa' activities. You could either do this by going and eating 'chicken pizza' in Pizza Hut, eat from the same plate with nanbargal and do all those cinematic stuff or silently not commit to being a believer. You just shrugged off questions regarding Aavani Avittam and carried on as if it were just another day.

Once I came here, the first year was marked by an extra-ordinary enthusiasm to follow our rituals in this 'ayal'naadu. With typical trademark vetti scene that characterizes me, I not only went through the rituals myself but also forcibly dipped my two room-mates in the Aavani avittam sauce as well. But unfortunately, none of us could cook well and so we ended up going to an Indian restaurant and I ended up eating onion chutney - talk about irony. I think God kind of decided that I was too dangerous to be left alone and so I ended up being a part of the 3-S veedu, where one of the S, he of the perfect tambrahm cooking skills and the perfect vetti scene skills took me under his wing for all Aavani Avittam days. He pretty much made sure that I at least said the correct version of the chants (Dakshine paarswe v PaschimE Parswe) and made sure I did not do 'aagadha' karynam such as putting the discarded poonool on the Southern side or using the wrong pavithram etc. This year, I had to be travelling on Aavani Avittam. I always consider that sometimes coincidences seem to favor me. On that vein, I ended up travelling to the same city where S lives. And the height of coincidence being my work and hotel being 15 minutes away from his place. So I almost invited myself to his house in the morning and went through the ceremony and in the evening, went to his home and had dosai and chutney (made the authentic way using wetgrinder and India mixie). I have on various occasions, questioned whether God likes me or not, but today, I can say, I was one of God's favorite beings.

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization | Video on

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization | Video on

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sins Against Gender Stereotype Tag

After RealNirmal tagged me, he has at least on 10 occasions reminded me of how evil I'm to not complete a simple tag. From what I understand we gotta say traits in us that go against the typical gender stereotype.

1. Cleaning
I like to clean my apartment, car, desk.. whatever that can be cleaned. I'm quite religious when it comes to cleaning that I get multiple cleaning utilities - Clorox Wipes, Microfiber cloth etc. I do not mind if things are scattered around and look clumsy, but I cannot bear to see things with a layer of dust or strands of hair on the floor etc. The only time that I do not clean is when I'm mentally preoccupied. In fact, when I'm going through phases of unhappiness/distress, the first signs of it are a dirty car and apartment. I also love to clean my utensils. I believe more in me cleaning the utensils than on the dishwasher. Talk about being an engineer.

2. Shoes
I have a collection of shoes - literally. I cannot wear the same pair of shoes to work two consecutive days. I have a belief that if I wear the same pair of shoes everyday, I'd put my foot at risk of an infection.

3. Shaving
I hate shaving. While I know its good to sport different beard styles, one of my secret wishes is for some technology to either make shaving a monthly once activity or, better, once-for-all activity.

4. Gambling/Poker
While anyone who is someone knows to play the Texas Hold'em, I do not know ANYTHING about Poker. In fact through most of the movie 21, I was just wondering what the hell the game was. I have never been to a casino or Vegas. My only reason to Vegas, if at all, would be to see the sights and shows that are famous.

I really cannot think of anything else being my sin against my gender.

I really do not believe in tagging folks, so if you are interested, go ahead and spill the beans.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

American Airlines

I generally try to avoid American Airlines, the company that has led the way in customer dissatisfaction for a long while now, in my opinion. Though they might whip out some random study that shows they are best or whatever, my co-workers and I have all had really bad experiences with them, consistently. Yesterday was no exception. At Dallas Fort Worth airport, the flight to Tampa had its gate changed three times, and each time from one corner of the terminal to the other. And the icing on the cake being there was not even a hint of an apology from the personnel announcing the gate change. They had the smugness that comes from the knowledge that the passengers have already paid money and are about to be screwed, one way or the other. And the flight was delayed by an hour and 15 minutes and again, till we got into the plane, there was no hint of any reason as to why it was delayed or an apology. Once we got in, there was an apology all right, but for all the passengers, there was no reason offered as to why they are being delayed on a flight for which they have paid money in advance.

All this reiterates my opinion that American Airlines is one of the worst airlines companies in America. Never again will I make the mistake of booking a ticket with them, even if the next ticket is 100-200 dollars more expensive.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Homo Phobia and Intolerance

With the recent ruling in California annulling Proposition 8 - Marriage Protection Act, immediately, a section of population erupted saying that Planet Earth is going to be overrun by Homosexuals and all that.

It is quite interesting to note how people have labelled a particular trait in humans that has been scientifically ruled out to be a conscious choice is generating so much of intolerance from folks. Given enough padding for the demographic inequalities, I can surely make a statement that the number of heterosexual sex offenders is greater than homosexual offenders - the dehumanizing that section of the population seems to more a result of the fear of the unknown than anything that is qualified.

As soon as I make an argument like this, the immediate question from some acquaintances is whether I'm gay. While it is interesting to see that people assume that if you are just portraying how intolerant people are, they assume that you have a personal stake in the issue. While I have never had a gay friend/acquaintance (at least not openly or known to me), I don't think I can see a couple of guys making out (I exactly stopped watching Sean Penn's Milk in the first 5 minutes and I never had the gumption to see 'those' parts of Brokeback Mountain), I don't think that should influence my tolerance towards a microcosm in the population that is increasingly being portrayed as evil, sex maniacs and what not.

While this is one side of the story, the homosexual populace does not endear itself to the other section by displaying outright 'weird' habits - like guys sporting perfectly shaped eye brows, wearing some ill fitting clothes and of course talk without any 'raagam' and feminine hand movements and all that. The other day, at the airport I saw a guy who was wearing a ill fitting Golden jacket and a big peacock feather on his neck. All this outward declarations and crazy dressing does not help this group to be seen as just another group of people by the section which is already scared of what it does not know/understand.

But the biggest surprise has to be Glenn Beck supporting the ruling and of course, my question to Comedy Central is when they are planning to screen Sarah Palin interviews as a part of regular programming.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Perhaps the most well remembered part of my childhood would be watching SRT bat. I did not have the opportunity to see Albert Einstein or P.G. Wodehouse. But I will always be glad that I saw SRT in action. To me when it comes to the art of batting, there is God, then there was Bradman and now it is SRT. {In ODIs he is in a level of his own - but the World Cup scar remains! :( }

I think I can tell generations after me that I have watched Sachin play live in action - and I think that shall define the sports experience of my age. There cannot be a more hounded public figure who has never had any scandals or gossip or other dirt attached to him. There has been no other player who has simply represented India on the wold stage like he has and like he will.

To the best possible man to achieve the ultimate feat of longevity in tests, Salute!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Food for Thought

A very interesting (albeit old) set of videos:

Trivial - No More

I have, over the last one year, had the opportunity to see the impact of online persona over the actual persona. Recently, a few of my friends launched Claps and Boos, which is based on the desire of people to be socially networked online and the other big interest of most Tamizh makkal/Desis - movies. As a part of doing some spadework, I realized how much people let others know of themselves online.

I have over the last one year, hoped to maintain some form of online anonymity. I make sure my updates on Facebook is seen only by people whom I know and trust, deleted my Orkut account and of course, culled out most of the personal references from my blog as well. While people have called me anything from paranoid to being a jerk to keep most of my facebook friends on the other side of the wall (pun intended), I can only say that there is some method to the madness.

Family - Previously when I was in high school, college, there was an easier way to keep family and friends apart - but now it is beginning to get difficult. When a friend puts one number risqué comment on my wall/blog, I'm quite at a dilemma as to what to do. I hate to delete people's posts/comments as I do not believe in censorship - but, I can only imagine my mom doing a double take seeing some of the stuff that my friends seem to say/write. I have not solved this one just as yet as the only other way is to put my family on the other side of the wall - which will have serious repercussions which I do not desire. Right now, I think my family is becoming sane enough to realize what to see and what not to see. :) And recently, when Orkut Tamizh Cinema Community was hacked by a moron and was held to ransom, I realized how open/vulnerable personal information is when some idiot tries to hack you over reasons that are so stupid, that it is not worth risking your family's online information - especially when you have a substantially younger sister. Nothing is worth seeing your family pulled into the public over some stupid (non-)reasons

Work - Recently, when my company was trying to hire someone, my manager walked up to me and asked me to do some Facebook/LinkedIn research on a potential candidate he is vetting. even though I knew since 2006 that people were looking into these stuff, being asked to do that and finding some information that was really not pleasant to report to my manager has created a permanent scar on me to ever attempt a completely transparent online profile of any sort - especially Facebook which is supposed to be a completely personal application. I do maintain that I try to have a different set of actions at work - just because of the industry we work for, I cannot be as opinionated as I'm in my personal life. So, that has a great deal in this desire to be anonymous.

Friends - This is one of the prime reasons, though its been listed third; I have over the course of last few years, gotten to know some fantastic people online - with Blogeswari, Hawkeye and MeThinks topping the list, who, I would have never known if not for the internet. In fact, internet has also been responsible for me knowing RealNirmal better from the image I had of him from my college days - he had a particular nickname which was not easy to like, you see! :)  But for the past couple of years, I have been waging a battle against many of my friends' perceptions of what certain comments/blog-posts/wall posts mean. While I have completely avowed my lack of trust/interest over finding any kind of relationship online, people seem to want to give their own spin to what I say, the pictures I post etc. This is fine when it happens to be tongue in cheek comments from people I know well, but sometimes some idiots online do not know the level of liberty to take and barge in on a completely personal thread with a friend. Decidedly random acts of adding people, liking something online are given twists to bizzare, that I have stopped accepting any friend requests from people I do not know!

To summarize, I want to see whether I can doctor/cultivate my online image. I have already seen some success as some of the folks who read my blog think I'm an extreme right wing guy, while people who talk to me in person are of the decided opinion that I'm quite on the other side of the world. So far so good, lets see!