Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Flowers presented or stones thrown??

Deepa Mehta recently said after receiving an award, "This feels much better than having your effigies burnt". Nice quote eh? However, this set me thinking- whether it is better to have some radical, crazy people burn your effigies, raise slogans against you and create 'hungama' in general or receive an inconsequential award from a flattering uncritical audience? I would chose the former anyday. It gives a greater sense of accomplishment I guess :D.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Smarted by the smart card

Saturday evening. After a hectic week in which despite working seriously (with minial distractions i.e chatting and almost no procrastination :O ), I was still lagging behind quite a bit with respect to the work that needed to be done. And that afternoon was quite weird, weather wise, as it displayed the full essence of the whimsical english weather. It was bright and sunny for an hour and then it poured like the first monsoon rain back home and then got back to sunny. And repeated this whole cycle every hour. Anyway, I decided to go to the lab and get some work done. I often make such decisions during weekends but rarely implement them. But this time, I actually did, so what if I was supposed to go before 4 but went after 6?

As I reached the building and was entering the lab, I came across two other such 'lifeless' souls (lifeless because they dont have a life! they come to work on weekends!!) who were just leaving the lab and exchanged our trademark sad smiles at each other's fate. It is not usual for the 150 people strong lab (spread over two floors - internally connected) to have even 2-3 geeks working on a saturday like this. Well, I entered the lab, swiping my wallet (which contains the smartcard having the rfid tag) against the sensor to open the door only to face a dark lab. The corridors light up as I walk through them to reach my desk. Yeah. every nook and corner of the lab has a movement sensor. I sit down at my desk, do some work and lots of chatting. Right in the middle of work, it suddenly strikes me that I might me the only person in the lab. Atleast, I was sure that I am the only person in 1/4th of the lab. And looking at my wallet which is placed on the desk, I vow not to leave it behind while going out of the lab. Then, I tell myself not to be silly, as in the past 7-8 months that I have been working in this lab, I had never left my wallet behind while leaving the lab, even if for a minute. It was kind of ingrained in me to carry my wallet whenever I leave the lab. There have been numerous ocassions when other people have forgotten their cards and had to knock on the doors and wait for someone to hear them and let them in. Ofcourse, today there didnt seem to be anyone else to even hear the knocking. The best part of the building was that the wall to the external corridor had huge glass paned windows, so anyone inside could see the people outside and vice versa. Coming back to the narration, I did some work and then decided to go home. Checked the bus timings online to see that I would be leaving at the right time and not have to wait outside in the rain.

And then I leave the lab. Just as I step on the corridor outside and just after the door closes behind me, I realise that I have done it! I forgot my wallet inside! Now, I dont have the card to get it. The same card also acts as my bus pass and ofcourse, it contains my money too. Yeah, and I left my cellphone inside too. Cant even call one of my lab friends to come and help me out. I had exited on one end of the lab. I start walking to the other end, with the faint hope that someone might be there in the lab, near the windows to notice me and open the door. And yeah, right at the very end on the other side, there was this guy inside. If there was to be only one person in the lab, it had to be him. On the many ocassions that I leave the lab, late at night, I find him staring deeply into his monitor and wonder at what I assume is 'his boring life'. However, today I was thankful that he was such a workaholic. He notices me and opens the door. I thank him, and get my wallet and cellphone and then out of curiosity make a round trip around the lab to see if there was anyone else who could have helped me.

Nope, there was no one else in the lab! Whoaa, had this guy not been there, I would have been in deep trouble. Lets thank the world that it still has some no-life workaholics around. Also, lets accept the fact that your subsconsious mind holds great power over you and makes you do things that you fear you would. Or we can just say that I am clairvoyant :D.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy birthday Mythalez's blog!!

Happy Leather anniversary to the blog. No, I dont like leather in anyway. But thats what third anniversaries are called. Yeah, today, this blog completes 3 years. Congratulations to mythalez. Started on a bored summer afternoon, today it contains 218 posts-- 212 published and 6 drafts (some of which would never be published) .

Both the blog and the blog-author have gone a long way (in many directions) over these three years. From the first post which was random typings to one which had layers of deep meaning interwoven into it. From being a nondescript guy in IIIT being initiated into the luxuries of the internet to one who blogs about the evolution of spam. From a train journey to the first plane trip on to small travelogues of Japan, Switzerland and Paris.

From winning the second place in a local programming contest to coordinating the IIIT techfest called Threads to coming third at an international competition, RoboCup. From one undecided about his future, to applying to universities, attending job interviews to a budding PhD student.

The tag posts changed in their content and the blog changed colours. Descriptions about mosquitoes and horrorscopes lead to short stories-- smallish abstract ones to slightly inspired, imaginary to partly factual. The blog is home to the prologue of a unwritten book, the provenance of 'mythalez' to mythalez's own astrology.

Mythalez varied from not wanting to meet an old friend to saying goodbye to his close ones. Campaigned, discussed and participated in IIIT elections, wrote about the institute and then bid farewell through a todo-list which was also evaluated.

A hurried preparation to leave India was complemented by the exciting journey back. The meantime was peppered with various descriptions about the british land. Fledgling attempts at cooking progressed to elaborate invitations.

And ofcourse, attempts at poetry always peek in every few posts, just too many of the verses. Every five-ten posts ought to contain some pathetic poem distorting the indentation of the blog. Anywayz, the blog rocks (Mythalez is an arrogant presumptuous narcissist :D)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Un week-end à Paris

1. Eiffel Tower is magnificent. It is pretty tall and can be seen from most parts of Paris if the view is unobstructed. And yeah, its awesome, the symmetry, the metal, the curve to the tapering top, just too good. And when its lighted its better. And when it sparkles (which is like 10 minutes every hour from 10pm in the night in summers), its quite a sight to behold. Sadly, cant describe the view from top, didnt queue up for it. Personally, I liked it better than TajMahal (these two are the only modern wonders I have visited)

Most of the tourist attractions are along the Seine river. And the whole area around that is very very charming. Especially the famous road, Champs-Élysées. The square (near Concorde where this road starts) is the biggest I have ever seen! Walking along the Seine should be quite romantic.

Sacré-Coeur, the basilica is very tall and is situated on a hill and has very rich stained glass art. Arc De Triomphe isnt very impressive, quite similar to India Gate. The palace in Versailles too is no great shakes.

Every other shop on the streets ought to be a cafe, bistro, restaurant, takeaway or some such eatery place. And those which arent about food, are about fashion like clothes, hairstyles etc. Yep, food (including drinks) and fashion seem to be their only passion :D.

Monalisa is a very small painting, attracts huge crowds and looks over rated. Other paintings around it, however, are marvellous to say the least. The beauty of these examples of the best art in the world can be perceived even by art-ignoramouses.

The Louvre museum is very well maintained. Its quite friendly and lets visitors use their cameras, mobiles etc unlike some of the less important museums around the world. Photos are not allowed only in 2-3 rooms which have the major paintings (including Monalisa). The glass pyramid entrance sets quite a contrast to the rest of the museum. In all, the museum is surely a must visit.

The public transport system is very good. The metro has many lines all of which are regularly dotted with stations, so not much walking is neccessary when using the metro. The normal rail inside the city and to the suburbs is also pretty good. But some of the metro stations would do well to have escalators. And the metro symbol painted on the trains looks pretty silly with an outline of a face cutting across a green circle.

France is famous for strikes. Well, the postal department was on strike while we were there. All post-offices were closed even on monday.

Going to Paris from London in a bus (Eurolines coach) would mean that there would be visa checking and a terrible journey on a ferry at the dead of the night (2am). Channel tunnel is only for railways, sadly.

Parisians arent friendly or inviting. They are almost rude. The concept of excuse-me and sorry exists as much on the streets of Paris as in India, which is almost nil. They dont even respond to sorry or pardon. Unlike the general perception, Parisians do know and respond in english. They also carry huge umbrellas which can almost be substituted as canopy-shades (patio umbrella) on cafe-tables in the open.

Paris has a lot of immigrants. Its not easy to spot many native French. And in general, the parts occupied by the immigrants are dirtier than most cities in India. As such, Paris is the dirtiest foreign place that I have visited.

Paris tip1: In the direction boards, an arrow pointing downwards signifies that you should go straightahead.
Paris tip2: Stamps are available in shops labeled 'Tabac'.
Paris tip3: Buy metro tickets in bunches of 10, it will cost much cheaper.