General

Calling all Anti-rapists!

Hear one. Hear all. Come forth with your solution to rape.

The best 500 solutions will get a cash prize of $1000 each evaluated at the lowest value of the rupee within the last calendar month*

The top 200 solutions will be given gold at half the market rate without exercising the impact of import duties, for 5 buying cycles without imposing a maximum weight limit **

The top 100 solutions will have free electricity and vegetable supplies for the next one year ***

The top 10 solutions will be given a grand prize of free petrol/diesel for 3 years from HPCL/IOCL bunks for 2 registered vehicles per solution****

Think. Speak out. Act. Make a difference. The next victim could be your friend/fiancée/sister or simply a person whom you neither know nor consider as a fellow human being.

*Values of the US dollar above 70 rupees will not be considered under this scheme
**Maximum weight per transaction is limited to 10kg. 5 buying cycles are to be completed within 1 calendar year or at 30kg, whichever occurs earlier.
***Limited time offer: Onions included! Hurry, offer lasts till imports continue from Pakistan!
**** Privately owned trucks and buses are currently not included in this scheme

Disclaimer –
We offer no guarantee that these solutions could be implemented by the government. We are merely interested in bettering the lives of our fellow citizens, atleast monetarily if not physically.

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Rant of a superhero fan…

This post is triggered by the numerous hate responses to Man of Steel. As a person who loves comics in general and a fan of Christopher Nolan, I would like to address these concerns directly in a Q & A format. This will be split into two parts, first analyzing the Bat trilogy and the second addressing Man of Steel. Those who haven’t seen Man of Steel yet can still read the second part of the post as it does not contain spoilers. Skip it if you want to watch the movie with an open mind.

Part I – The Bat Trilogy

  • Why pick Batman?

Warner brothers had no idea of giving this a reboot. Batman has a riveting story that any director would want to tell. The previous movies and the old TV series might have been “good” for the time, but they had deviated way too far from the theme and essence that the comics conveyed. There was a new dimension that had to be brought to Batman to establish his true identity.

  • What was the story that was intended?

Nolan’s vision was to explore the character and build a story that was justifiable. The story had scope for character development, from showing the inner scars of Bruce Wayne to go on and show how he overcomes them to become a better person.

  • There are many villains in the Batman universe, why choose those who were chosen?

Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed by a street thief for petty money, which was during the depression. Bruce chooses to avenge his parents, but doesn’t have a roadmap as such. After numerous experiences in life, he chooses to use his wealth and intelligence to create a face that criminals would fear.

The first step would be to battle the gangs in Gotham, or the “mob”. The muggers and the crime lord Carmine Falcone are interconnected. A psychotic doctor, assuming the name Scarecrow, plans to release a fear toxin that will paralyze Gotham. It is also revealed that the Scarecrow was pressurized by Ras Al Gul to create and release a fear toxin. Henri Ducard is a detective who trains Bruce in the comics, but Nolan merged Ducard and Ras Al Gul to make an intricate plot for Batman Begins. Scarecrow uses the city’s organized crime to smuggle his toxin, acting on the orders of Ras; this makes way for a believable plot; as against bringing in a Penguin or a Riddler for the opening movies. The first movie established a solid foundation for the subsequent movies that followed.

Batman isn’t complete without the Joker. Nolan’s version of the Joker and Ledger’s rendition of it will probably be the best in the movie franchise; in parallel with Mark Hamill’s version in the cartoons. The origins of the Joker are as mysterious in the movie as they are in the comics. Nolan chose to expose the chaos that the Joker could unleash as a sociopathic character. He merged the origins of Two-face as an outcome of Joker’s actions, by adding a personal tragedy that pushes Harvey Dent to the ‘dark side’. Harvey’s killings form an important part of the story which lays the premise for the third movie.

Bane is a product of a drug test, as per the comics, and increases his strength by pumping the drug ‘Venom’. As for Catwoman, she was never a killer, Nolan stuck to the comics and treated her as a hired professional thief. He extrapolates the story of the League of Shadows and links Bane to it so create a continual contemporary storyline; thereby making a logical and realistic trilogy.

Throughout the trilogy, there is always a mix of villains that work together, to make to plot as believable as possible. Debates about the other villains like Poison Ivy, Riddler, Mad hatter, Killer Croc, Hugo Strange etc can be silenced; because frankly we didn’t miss them!

Now that we are done with the Bat trilogy, let’s get to Superman.

 Part II – Man of Steel

  • Why Superman?

This was another superhero franchise that never quite got what it deserved. It was very well worthy of the reboot. Riding on the success of the Bat trilogy, who better to be on board than Nolan, Goyer and Snyder; all of whom have a good track record.

  • What was the story that was intended?

The writers’ vision was to explore the character and build a story that was justifiable. The story had scope for character development, from showing how a misfit alien tries to align himself to the society to go on and lay a foundation for subsequent movies.

  • Why General Zod?

To explain this convincingly, we need to explore the origins of Superman as per the comics as and per the movie.

First, the comics –

Jor-El predicts that Krypton would cease to exist, but by the time he figures it out it is too late to save its entire people.  It becomes wildly unstable due to its radioactive core which results in frequent quakes. Kal-El [Superman] is sent to earth just so that he can be saved. Earth was chosen as it has a lower gravitational field and a brighter sun than Krypton; which implies Kal-El would possess superhuman powers.

Now the movie –

Krypton is shown to have births from separate incubation chambers and Kal-El is supposed to be the first natural birth in Krypton [after centuries]. Jor-El is the person who cracked this code for natural births and saves Kal-El and the code containing genetic information for natural births. I will avoid discussing about the code as it involves spoilers.

All that we need to understand is that there are reasons why Zod comes looking for Superman.

One – He believes that Kal-El has access to the genetic code which can help him rebuild Krypton

Two – Earth is a good planet to ‘terraform’ to Krypton [terraform = create the properties of one planet to match that of the other]

  • Character development of Kal-El

Kal-El is brought up as Clark Kent, by Jonathan and Martha Kent. The trauma that he undergoes as a child is depicted quite well, and I don’t find a reason to complain. Examples – Trying to adjust to the various sounds in daily life, focusing only on what he wants to hear or use his X-Ray vision only when needed, controlling his anger while bullied in school etc. His foster father is his greatest inspiration and is instrumental in molding him during his formative years. The father-son moments have preachy moments but it blends well with the story. The numerous instances where Clark does superhuman feats and the consequences that he and his parents face are portrayed well too.

  • What people wrongly think went wrong –

Ok, there is good justice being done to Kal-El and Superman. So why are most people disappointed with the movie? The answer is simple. Superman is not Batman. Most people expect a Dark Knight when they walk in to Man of Steel. I would be surprised if they are not disappointed. It is like walking into a ‘Fast and the Furious’ movie and expecting Bruce Lee to show you his cool Jeet-Kune-Do or Karate moves!

In all fairness, Batman and Superman cannot be compared; even with Nolan+Goyer+Snyder at the helm of things. All we need to ask ourselves is one question – Did they do justice to the story of Superman? Hell, yes!

Superman and Batman are two different characters. Frankly, Superman is less exciting because he is too perfect. He doesn’t have the dark past like Batman, or the quick wit of Iron Man, or the bad ass demeanor / adamantium fists of Wolverine. Superman is intended to be an ideal superhero and an ideal man which is why certain amount of suspension of disbelief is needed to appreciate him. Batman is supposed to be a believable character – he is a guy who has his limitations but still goes on to fight his demons and rise above them.

Anyway, all said and done; for the people who think that there wasn’t enough character development that went into Superman, maybe we need to look deeper. Take off your Dark Knight cape, and wear the Superman hat; you would definitely enjoy this effort.

Keep calm and trust in Nolan.

(Dis)Re(garded)public of India. . .

What is a republic? We have heard this go around a lot, let’s hit the dictionary.

Wordweb tells me two things –

  1. A form of government whose head of state is not a monarch
  2. A political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them

Well, today is the 63rd anniversary when we technically “became” a republic. 63 years ago, on this day, we formally had a constitution in force. After all these years, I don’t understand why we need a holiday. It is attributed to the celebration that we are supposed to have for having becoming a republic. While I bask in my ‘freedom’ of speech that my friends in some countries may not have, it is imperative that we ponder upon the rising hypocrisy we are living with.

2012 has been an eventful year, as the ones previous to it were – Big fish got caught in scams. Ministers were caught watching offensive videos. Family politics ruled. We had our most successful Olympics so far, but more money was burnt playing a tournament of a pseudo national game. A terrorist was hanged. We had an exodus from the south to the east. A budding psychiatrist was gang raped causing international uproar. With all of these and more happening; is there actually a point in being busy priding ourselves of being a secular, socialist, democratic republic? I agree that things cannot change in a day, but if Republic day, Independence day, Gandhi Jayanthi, etc are to inculcate national pride and patriotism in us; I feel they do a shoddy job! If Gandhi were to be alive today, I think he would have wanted us to work all the more instead of watching a bunch of movies or going out on a fun trip.

Sad to see that we live in extremely hypocritical times – Goddesses are worshipped but women are raped. Criminals can plead innocent and walk free, but a person posting her opinion on Facebook would be arrested. We pride ourselves for our cultural heritage while today it is merely a fancy term which few of us truly understand. We ban realistic films quoting secularism; religion serves more as a dividing force rather than bringing people together. Bundhs are respected (feared) more than protests. Bureaucrats rule the roost while lay-men hunt for someone who can provide them with free rice or TV.

It is high time we focus on grass-root problems rather than live in the glorious past.

Every year should be seen in comparison with its previous year. An annual poll must be conducted and a specific number of issues need to be identified to be solved within the next year. An action plan is to be made and presented to the public within a timeline. By the next year, progress that has been made on these specific problems is to be documented and presented to the public on lines of the annual budget. I don’t see how progress can be achieved in the current setup where accountability is virtually absent.

An example run would be something like this –

Step IPolling results of issues at hand as on 26th Jan 2013

  1. Ensure safety of women in cities and villages alike.
  2. Mitigate religion oriented communal issues.
  3. Encourage education of children >5 years old.

Step II – Action plan presented at the Annual Action Plan Convention on 31st  March 2013

  1. Ensure safety of women in cities and villages alike.
  • Create a separate security wing specializing in human safety – rape, child abuse, domestic violence etc
  • Develop a task force and agenda to recruit police officers specifically for the security wing. Provide appropriate monetary benefits to encourage enrollment.
  • Develop a training program to effectively utilize the newly hired man power.
  • Chalk out a plan for having counseling sessions directed at parties responsible / affected due to the problems listed  – men, women, in-laws; with primary focus being on reaching out to the remote corners of India. [These sessions would help overcome male dominance / perversity which I would say is the root cause of the issues listed]

2.  Mitigate religion oriented communal issues.

  • Appoint a committee to select religious leaders from each religion to participate in a parliament of religions. Priority to select a candidate is to have understood his/her religion and interpreted its teachings correctly.
  • Convene a parliament of major religions practiced in India with participation from influential members of each religion. [This would allow healthy exchange of thoughts and open up people to the fact that no religion is superior to the other]
  • Develop an agenda to have religious discussions on a public platform across India with participation from these influential people from all religions. [This would help in reaching out to the masses to promote communal harmony]

3.  Encourage education of children >5 years old.

  • Estimate number of children who do not have access to primary education.
  • Develop a training program for teachers to be hired in government schools.
  • Recruit teachers as necessary with a student:teacher ratio being 30:1. Train them as per the new standards mentioned. Offer monetary / fringe benefits to encourage enrollment.
  • Deploy these trained teachers to identified government schools.

4.   Announce the budget for each of the points mentioned above.

Step III – Annual Review Presentation – 26th Jan 2014

  • Budget allotted: X
  • Amount spent: Y.
  • Deficit / Excess: X~Y. Quote reasons.
  • Mention specifics regarding progress made on each issue.
  • Present the action plan for next year

If an ordinary guy like me can think of options in an hour, I am sure people sitting high up in the ladder, people whose decisions move things through our sluggish system can think of better and more plausible options. The very sense of being a republic is lost in today’s times. In spite of all the rant, I am disappointed that I am not able to do anything to change things. I am just hoping something knocks some sense into at least some of those even remotely concerned!

Police Story..

I recently had the ‘privilege‘ of accompanying my cousin to the police station to get his identity verification done for his passport issuance. I am deeply troubled by the attitudes of those employed in government offices. The people who are supposed to get our prime jobs done are so narrow minded that, at times, they do more harm than good, knowingly or unknowingly. I mostly think it is the former! Outlined below is my experience and views on the process.

We got a call at about 10 AM from the police station that we need to be present at the police station at 12pm, with some documents that need to be produced. I understand that the purpose of this procedure is to verify that the passport is issued to an authentic person and that it is not a fraudulent individual. We were present at the police station at 12 noon and were told to wait for a while till the supposed person is to arrive.

A girl in her late teens / early twenties enters the hall with the required set of documents for the same process, and she too is asked to wait like the rest of us. I shall term her as Ms.G for simplicity. She received a call on her phone and was engaged for the next 15-20 minutes. She kept her voice low and made sure that she wasn’t disturbing anyone in the waiting hall. One of the older, pot-bellied staff in the police station, whom I shall term as X, did not like the sight of her speaking over the cellphone in a police station. He rudely asked her to cut the call or asked her to get out and do the talking. This was strike one. Ms.G ended the call she was on and sat waiting there for the verification staff to come in.

A few minutes later, Ms.G got another call, which she received outside the police station. She wound it up in less than 5 min and came back in to the waiting hall, sitting with her legs crossed, one on top of the other. At this moment, a jeep rushed outside the police station, which made X and the other staff in the police station stand up. I also observed that he hurriedly wore his hat, which is a part of his uniform. A few other people who were waiting stood up looking at the others. X observed that Ms.G and I did not stand up in response to his act and shot us a glare. He also gestured Ms.G to uncross her legs. Strike two. A lady sitting comfortably in a government office when an officer walks in is supposedly disrespectful! She was as confused as I was and we didn’t understand what he was trying to say. A lady sub inspector walked in to many people standing up and saluting her. I neither stood up not saluted her as I didn’t find the need to do so.  She went into her chamber and was not seen thereafter.

The guy who verified the identities of all these people was a youngster, in his mid 20s. I was pleasantly surprised to find him being extremely courteous and polite to all the people whom he was interacting with. The verification process started at about 1230, and went on for half hour. I noticed that X was shooing away people waiting outside the police station. Where are they supposed to go!!

The waiting area had 3 vacant seats at the time as most people were in the relevant rooms where their respective queries were catered to. Meanwhile, X did not find anyone to bully or boss over for the next few minutes. He glanced at me, and concluded that I must be his next unfortunate victim. He approached me and asked in Kannada if I had any work to be done at the police station. I responded that I had just accompanied my cousin who is getting his identity verification done. He promptly asked me to get out, as I was supposedly crowding up the area and taking up unnecessary space! Strike three.

I was shocked for while about the audacity and rudeness of X. All people present there were seated, and I would have gladly offered my seat to anyone who would have come. It’s not the seat that I am bothered about. X’s attitude and apathy towards fellow humans disturbed me. I got up and left the place giving X a cold stare, not once looking back.

As I stood waiting outside, my mind was seeking answers to many questions –

  1. Why is apathy shrouded in most government servants? Are they doing us a favour by doing their jobs?
  2. Why is there not enough respect for women even in today’s times? I cannot understand why making oneself comfortable is a matter of concern.
  3. Why do these people demand respect, instead of commanding it through their actions?

This incident has left me with serious doubts regarding the senior or older government servants. They need to set examples to the younger generation, and if this is the mentality of the vast majority of the work force, the future doesn’t look bright.

As Christopher Nolan puts it in “Batman Begins”, I would say that “people need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy”. I would suggest that a special commission be set up to monitor the behavior of people in government offices, and their attitudes towards the general public. Their pay needs to be proportional to the quality of their service. It is because these people get their salaries irrespective of them doing or not doing their jobs, that they are so apathetic to others’ needs. The rudeness exhibited by X demands a dismissal from all kinds of service if you ask me! A guy who thinks he is above the general public just because he is wearing the police uniform, which earns their respect , is a disgrace to the whole police community.

I just hope youngsters do not follow in the footsteps of the likes of X…

 

The year gone by . . .

Yet another year passes by, as it always does, in rapid succession.

Looking back from the events that have formed the crux of the previous year, it has been a year of mixed emotions, of trials and tribulations, of waxes and wanes, crests and troughs; and a myriad of experiences.

January – [to March]

2011 started off on rather slim note, with work taking up most time along with my third attempt at MBA exams; with XAT being the usual finisher. What followed a set of unexpected results. The first shocker was CAT – I had presumed that I had performed decently well, but it turned out to be the worst outing of the three! The other exams were fiascoes, barring NMAT & XAT which managed to get me calls from NMIMS, XLRI and XIMB. Of the lot, GD and PI, NM was horrendous and XIMB was decent. I didn’t take up XLRI as it was a call for their HR course. Having deftly screwed up my chances of getting an MBA seat in Operations management, I looked in the other direction which was to go the tech way, the MS way, which was the equally interesting and better plausible alternative.

February –

A bunch of us college buddies came together of the best trip we had ever been on together. After the Wonderla outing that came as a compensatory and consolatory trip to the fiercely failed Coorg trip; we set out on a trip to Goa – the state that’s always on a holiday! Abhishek from Bangalore, Hari from Coimbatore, Yesahavant from Chennai – came together at Bangalore; and I from Mumbai; met at Mapusa in Goa. We spent three memorable days roaming around the streets of Goa on non-geared vehicles, going well late into the night. Specific details in a separate post maybe 😛

March to May –

This was the period I truly enjoyed my stay at Mumbai – seeing around places that define Mumbai –  CST station; late night Marine drive outings including Tanmay’s farewell and the free roam with roommates after India’s world cup victory; Gateway of India; trip to Water Kingdom, Paintball at Powai with friends at office. Work was not very demanding too as many of us were leaving 😛

It was time for another Goa trip 🙂 This time with office buddies. To summarise – an unforgettable train journey with 12 of us sitting on 2 berths playing Antyakshari all night/day, stay at Tanmay’s place, exhilarating late night rides on Avenger, getting caught by the police at Panaji, cricket and football games, futile attempts to learn swimming, adrenaline pumping adventure sports at Baga beach, to the bumpy bus ride back to Mumbai – it was one helluva trip that all of us will cherish for years to come!

The last day of May was my last working day at Accenture. A sense of redemption, juxtaposed with the feeling of going away from friends for life, who wrote the Mumbai chapter of my life, crept into me. Wishing all well, and bidding farewell, I moved to Bangalore.

June – July

Time to spend at home, Bangalore. Mostly characterized by meeting up with relatives and friends before leaving in pursuit of the MS dream. Packing up stuff, finishing up tasks and also parting with my steed of five years, Apache :(. The sinking feeling of parting with my bike is something that I cannot find words to describe. The slick clutch, the seamless gearshift, the flaring acceleration, the feather touch manoeuvers is something that I would miss for a long time 😦

Bade adieu to close relatives and friends, whom I am not sure when I would be meeting next, and set off to Bhiwadi. The Rajasthan trip that ensued was culturally uplifting. It reiterated that India is such a diverse country with rich history and culture. Sad to see the current state of affairs. Cannot expect much except that Indian polity needs a revolution. More on this in some other post.

Had my fill of home food, movies and serials; which will have to wait once I started off on my MSE.

August – December

Started off with the “honeymoon period”, characterised by the excitement of being in the USA, all on your own, exploring places and meeting new people. As the semester progressed, I was brutally exposed to the true colours of the course. Stuff that I had supposedly ‘learned’ in my Bachelors had evaporated, even my from thick skull! However, one course [of the three] posed the most problems, as it was completely unfathomable to me! Bad choice for a rookie. Learned the hard way that I had to do some serious damage control.

All in good time, hopefully.

And now after the fall break, looking forward to a better 2012 – full of life, benevolence, optimism and yeah of course, learning 🙂

The Outcast

He stared at the vast expanse of the ocean, mulling over the time they had spent together. There had been memories, memories that were full of hope, exhiliration, intensity and soul. Memories that would make him the person he would be. Memories of events that he thought would never happen. Memories that would stick with him for the remainder of his existence.

She had been the light in the darkness of his life, the oasis of solace in his desert of solitude, the pull of gravity for the sustenance of his system. Deep inside, he heard the voice of his subconscious telling him that she is the one.

The horizon looked blue, full of optimism for the future. He could feel the wind whispering that everything would be alright. The simmering sun seemed to acknowledge his thoughts. The faint cry of the seagulls seemed to bring eternal peace to his disturbed mind.

However, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t come to terms with the fact that he had to let her go. He was going to war, literally and figuratively. One as a service to his nation, the other as a test of his emotional endurance. He Reeled under the myriad of emotions. On one Side Was exaltation that he was on his path for glory. Then reality hit him hard on the face. There was no assurance that he would see her again. He pondered that he could never get her, for he was an outcast. An outcast to her people, as they would never let her be or accept him as hers. The irony of life tore him apart.

He longed for her gentle touch. He pined to feel her hair on his face for one last time. But it was time. The enemy was closing in, his emotions were piling up, a storm was brewing, he had to go…..

Musings from a cubicle . . .

What happens when your conscious mind is doing something mechanical and your subconscious is left completely jobless? The result is the waking up of the many rusted neurons and getting them to work, as follows, resulting in the understanding of the seemingly simple things in life – all of this, from a cubicle!

Well; Abhishek , Puneeth and I put on our thinking caps once in a while.

These are some of the quotes that have popped up during our discussions at work, over Office communicator.

The affable Abhishek-

  • Busy wondering what’s keeping me busy!
  • Cryptic crisis criss-crosses the connections in your cerebrum causing you to be at the crevice of confusion
  • Cribbing over a cryptic crisis leaves you crippled.
  • I have hidden talents. Even I don’t know where they are!
  • Your inherent integrity is integral to interpolate your interests with their operability.
  • In life there’s what you know and what you don’t know and what you don’t know you don’t know.
  • The IQ test was so challenging that it left me mentally challenged

Yours truly –

  • Thank you Apple, for formulating the laws of gravity
  • Covert cynicism and overt optimism maketh a good manager
  • God does play dice [inspired by Einstein’s “God does not play dice”]
  • Perversity of your peers possesses your perception of processes with profanity
  • The IT industry is like a black hole. IT sucks big time!
  • Underperformance undermines your understanding of an otherwise understood process.
  • Adversity begets animosity begets Narcissism.
  • Think deeply! Going down is the only way up.
  • Damn the Male : Female ratio! Ladies always get to choose, not fair!
  • The best cure for woman, is a better one
  • Many things fall in place, to make me fall out of place
  • It’s difficult for a miss to miss conception unless there is a gross sense of misjudgment!

More additions to this post is directly proportional to the time spent at work 😉

PS : Puneeth had The Reaper series at the focus of all his attention.  His inputs will be added soon. .