Friday, December 31, 2010

Transitioning to the next decade

Essentially time is continuous. It started 13.7 billion earth years ago, that is if you buy the Big Bang theory! But we humans measure it in days and decades for our convenience. Today is the last day of the first decade of the twenty first century. The papers and magazines are as full of reports of remarkable events of the past year and the decade as predictions for the future years. But how the lives of us, the early Generation Ys (born around 1980s), will be different in the next decade?

Monday, December 20, 2010

A trip to the Chilika Lake, Gopalpur and Rambha

The tour started on last Thursday as I left office in the early afternoon and hurried home to take my packed bag and then headed to the Howrah station. All the rest of our group of eight arrived at the station directly from their respective offices. The train, Yashwantpur Express, was at eight thirty five in the evening. I quickly had my dinner at the Comesum restaurant at the station complex while others got the chicken-rice(s) packed to be eaten on board. Watching my friends tearing open the food packets and eating their dinners was funny. The train tried its best to throw the food out of the plates with sudden jerks and jolts. My fiends brought out all their tricks to keep the plates steady!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Go Green Approach of Standard Chartered Bank

I liked this seemingly trivial go green approach of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB). When you withdraw cash from SCB ATMs, the machines ask whether you want a printed receipt or not. Two options – ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are displayed on the screen. Just after the ‘Yes’ option the following is written in brackets: “Save a tree. Print only if you really need it”. This line has deterred me (and I guess many more) from printing a receipt unnecessarily. I have seen many to print the receipt just to tear it and throw it into the basket kept beside the machine. I think, every bank should take such small but important initiatives. SBI ATMs do not even ask whether you want a receipt or not – they just print it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The More You Have The More Concerned You Are: A Simple Example

They say more money results in more worry. The more (assets) you possess the more concerned you are about their protection if not appreciation in their value. Well, these wise sayings are not only valid for money-matters. In small incidents of our daily life this is quite evident. You travel wearing a precious jewelry or carrying a costly gadget say, your iPhone in public places and you are constantly vigilant not to lose them. You have property and you are worried that somebody might encroach on it. You have gold ornaments at home and you are scared to go out keeping the room locked. You have a high designation in office and you are constantly trying to live up to it if not to move-up.

In this context, I’ll narrate a simple incident. I travel between Kolkata and my native place by public bus. The journey of about 100 Kilometers takes around 2 hours thanks to the National Highway built under Golden Quadrilateral project. The buses generally are crowded and unless you buy the ticket beforehand (sometimes almost a week ago), it’s highly unlikely that you will get a seat after boarding. Hence, I, ninety nine percent of the time, buy the ticket well in advance. But during my last travel I didn’t have a pre-booked ticket!

When I have the ticket I am anxious to board the right bus (there are many similar looking buses on different routes) at that particular time, find the right seat (and I hope that a young lady sits on the seat beside me)! But, when I don’t have the ticket, I am not worried. I know that if I miss the 7.10 bus I will catch the 7.45 one. As I don’t have a seat, I board patiently. In other words, I feel lot less stressed. (I have to stand for the next two hours though – but more calorie burns while standing than while sitting!).

Is the number of senior citizens increasing?

Is the number of senior citizens increasing in ‘young’ India? Or are they becoming more aware of the rights and benefits available to them? Because, for the last few months I am observing the following: whenever I travel by public buses and sit on a vacant seat reserved for the senior citizens, some fellow of my father’s age come and rightfully claim their seats!!! :) May be they are travelling more now than ever?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Movie Review: Planet of the Apes

I was watching the movie ‘Planet of the apes’ tonight. Here is the story in brief:

Three US astronauts after travelling for almost 2000 earth years in a spacecraft crash lands in a planet 300 light years away. They found that a portion of the planet is habitable but apes rule there. Humans are primitive and couldn’t speak. The apes treat them as beasts and use them for experiments. The humans along with the three newly arrived astronauts are attacked and captured by the ape soldiers. One of the astronauts dies in the fight. One is operated upon in the brain while in captivity and made voiceless. Ultimately, the third astronaut, Mr. Taylor, breaks free with the help of a researcher couple, who try to prove that men were there before the ape. Mr. Taylor takes Dr. Zaius, Minister of Science and Chief Defender of Faith of the ape civilization, hostage and set for the forbidden land(other part of the planet). But Dr. Zaius knew all along about the humans and there destructive nature. He lets Taylor go and says that ‘He will find his destiny’. After riding along the coast on horseback for some time, Taylor sees the wrecked Statue of Liberty. He understands that he has reached earth only (2000 years later) and breaks down with laments.

Wonderful concept!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Book Review : Next

I finished reading the book ‘Next’ last night. ‘Next’ is Michael Crichton’s final book published before his death (on Nov 4, 2008). The book which revolves around genetic research, gene patenting and breeding transgenic animals is an awesome read. The book is a work of fiction based on facts which the author separately mentions. The story builds on lives and works of different protagonists spread across different cities of America and beyond. The common theme which unites them is their involvement in genetics, in one way or other.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cognizant project outing at Raichak

As the client and the onsite team members celebrated Thanksgiving in the US, the project team in Kolkata had their day-out at Raichak this Friday. Raichak is a weekend getaway around 50 kilometers south of Kolkata on the bank of river Ganges. The Ganges has become very wide here as it races to meet the Bay of Bengal just few kilometers away. The place is full of beautiful bungalows with large decorated lawns. The Radisson Fort (also called Ffort) is the most attractive resort at Raichak.
The bus route and boarding timings were mailed to us the previous evening. But as normally happens, the bus started more than half an hour late in the morning, jeopardizing to some extent the pick-ups of the people down the route. However, we later made up some of the delays and were on the way to Raichak, all set.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Grandmother

My grandmother died a few days back. She was ninety years old and died in her sleep of natural reasons. She was not well for the last few years of her life. She needed help for her daily activities. She was unable to move. She used to spend most of the time lying on a mat and hence, developed bedsores on her back. When I met her last time, around three weeks before her death, she was even unable to recognize me. Naturally, everybody was happy and relieved that she’s left for her heavenly abode.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chariots of Gods

I just finished reading the book ‘Chariots of the Gods’ by Erich Anton von Däniken. In the book, written in 1968, the author claims that the human history was influenced by extraterrestrial (people from other planets) intelligent lives in the distant past and he gives numerous examples of unexplained things on earth to justify his claim. According to him, our Gods might be the people from other planets in the universe with enormous powers, whom our ancestors worshipped.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The mike culture

I can understand the use of blaring microphones during political propaganda and for announcements in events but I could not figure out why people in India play Bollywood movie songs among others at high decibel over hired microphones during 'Pujas', marriages and other personal family functions! Is it to share happiness among neighbors - an example of Eastern collectivism vs. Western individualism? Whatever it is sometimes it really bothers me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How I connected to Internet using GPRS over Bluetooth Link

I bought a tiny Bluetooth adapter for my laptop day before yesterday (my laptop being more than 4 years old does not come with the in-built Bluetooth functionality!). Also, I activated a GPRS plan from my service provide in my mobile. What I intended to do was to connect to internet from my laptop using the mobile GPRS connection over the Bluetooth link between my laptop and mobile. My mobile is Nokia N90, which I bought in 2006 for 30000 INR ($650).