Monday, September 29, 2008

On being amit_123

Krish Ashok's excellent blog here first mentioned amit_123. A typical North Indian who hates everything from Madras and feels that the North is superior in many ways than just the weather (amit_123 hates Chennai’s weather).

We have all heard about the typical South Indian as well (I am from Hyderabad and proud of it), the one who hates learning Hindi and though knows it won't utter a word of it. Both these types of aforementioned people are probably in every Indian. But then I think that is just me giving it not a second thought and letting rip the very human trait of being judgemental. But then are these types of people truly around? Do these people think of themselves as superior in some way?

Living in Australia was the first time I got to meet a very good cross section of Indians. Being from Hyderabad meant for me to know how to speak in Hindi/Urdu/Hindustani and Telugu and determining the part of India where a person comes from just by listening to their first few words of Hindi. I have met both the typical amit_123 who refer to anything from the South as Madrasi and the Tamilian who wouldn't speak one word of Hindi though being a running database of ShahRukh Khan movies.

So, when I first read about amit_123 I didn't think of these people, but promptly left a comment as amit_123 myself to redirect some traffic to my blog.

The great thing about being in Hyderabad is one doesn't run into any amit_123 or Madrasi for that matter. They would feel very comfortable being themselves in most cases as there is free run of good South Indian food with equally good number of Hindi speaking people around. So, no cause to complain. A Hyderabadi probably wouldn't go and live anywhere else in India (may be overseas yes) and if he did, he probably would complain about the lack of proper Biryani joints thus making himself a hyd_123.

I admit that I stumbled across Krish Ashok's blog quite a few times and also read Great Bong regularly, but the first few times have dismissed them as being very regional. But now I have kicked the amit_123 out of myself and do see the better parts of these blogs.

On watching a report about the unrecognised new country of Abkhazia the other day, I heard how the president of this region was saying that they are culturally and linguistically different from Georgia and thus are a different country. This made me realise how the same thing is true about different parts of India, but we still live as together as one, not just now but have been doing so for thousands of years.

So when you find an amit_123 or a Madrasi who complains, smile and take him out to eat Biryani, perfect blend of North and South. You can't change their complaining though. It's just human.

Monday, July 28, 2008

uTorrent - Frequent Error

If like me you are using uTorrent and keep getting the error: "The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process", then the issue might be something very simple... like Google Desktop.

After searching for a fix for this issue on the net and not reading the very apparent messages, I switched so BitComet. Bitcomet used to be good once but not any more, it locks up the entire system after it starts.

To fix the issue, check if you are running Google Desktop and then:

  1. Go to its preferences page
  2. Go to "Do not search these items" option.
  3. Select the folder where the file you are downloading is being saved.
If you are not running Google Desktop then there are other options like Unlocker which I haven't tried (so cannot recommend).

Good news in the Morning

Sleeping on Friday night after hearing the news of Bangalore blasts was bad enough, waking up on Sunday to the news of Ahmedabad blasts made very bad news for the morning. Monday morning, no bad news, should I feel happy or should I feel sad for those who passed away?

The poor average Muslim joe in Gujarat now has to fear more than anything else as he might have to wake up to something like Godhra news again. The Hindu fundamentalists now will come out in full force, no thanks to those Muslim fundamentalists who planted the bombs.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blogs I read - Futility Closet

If you have an afternoon to spend reading fascinating stuff, the you probably would like Futility Closet. A Sample:

The first arrest by telegraph took place in 1845. John Tawell poisoned his mistress at her home at Salt Hill and fled by train to London, but police sent the following memorable message ahead to Paddington Station:
Read rest of the story here.

1 Trillion pages on the internet

Official Google Blog: We knew the web was big...
Google now indexing 1 trillion pages and counting. If you read the post above, they say it may be infinite as new pages keep getting created every minute, the crawlers will have a tough time keeping up.

In a college assignment to create a search index for an article containing 1 million words, my program took about 30 seconds to execute. 1 Trillion web pages with so many words in them, it is awesome just to imagine that.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Blasts in Bangalore

Again, these bastards (whoever they are) did this. 2 dead as per reports. All the hype about how the Indian spirit won't die and people will go back to work tomorrow will be played over and over again. And if there was a cricket match scheduled it will go on.

No one will take long term steps to fix this. Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and now Bangalore. While the government will continue playing cash games in the Parliament.

Hopefully not many people are affected and more hopefully, the Indian government now takes some concrete step about this.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Knol - A review

I write this like I write some movie review which comes after much awaiting by fans. This is not a movie review. Unless you have been living in a cave you probably know about Knol by now. Knol is Google's answer to Wikipedia.

So, the search engine giant has created an online encyclopedia for us, so that if wikipedia's answers and the numerous web links wikipedia provides isn't sufficient then we can go over to Knol to get brainier.

I went over and checked the site out. It is impressive the way Google has set it up. Here is how I understand it works:
1. You write a Knol (or an article).
2. Some others who read it make suggestions.
3. You have the control to either make edits based on their suggestions or not.

This throws up many issues: As with Wikipedia Edit Wars, if you disagree with someone you can create your own knol on the subject or worse, can write a very biased article about someone or something and get a few people to agree with you and get your article popular. Imagine how politics would be played on Knol.

The articles themselves are very good and would probably take an afternoon or two just to go through one of them. See the articles on Type 1 Diabetes and While the depth of the article and the knowledge of the author is appreciated, there certainly is lots of information to go through.

What does the above picture mean? Probably nothing. Late nights on TV there used to be ads about random stuff with women just smiling and only at the end of the ad you would realise how dumb those ads are. The articles have pictures very unrelated to the actual article. Not sure what they want us to look for here.

Also, as someone pointed out there are no actual links to other articles within articles. When I first learned about wikipedia it was hailed as the perfect example of internet working with links to other places within articles so that internet grows. None of this here in Knol.

While there are certainly other concerns about search results (will a Knol article rate higher than anything else?) or about how multiple articles on the same subject will be handled, Knol is certainly a good way to get quality information from qualified people.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Australia - No Fair Go!

When trying to look for work as a student, I hit many blocks. It wasn't the number of opportunities available, Australia has been having a very good run of low unemployment rates with a large number of jobs still being advertised. Currently, this report shows that there is a very low unemployment rate in Australia (around 5%), and at the time of this writing, jobs website is advising 212,700 jobs online.

I cannot count the number of applications I made for specific and relevant jobs, but never even got a call back. The same jobs were being advertised time and again, but no go for my application. When I did get one lowly call center job, I met with so many over-qualified professionals working with me, I knew I wasn't alone. That was five years ago.

Now my wife faces the same issues. This is not a rant about not getting a job, but more of a pattern that I see emerging as even my wife's colleagues are still overqualified professionals getting by with a job which will pay the bills, barely. No amount of overseas experience or qualifications matter as she and her colleagues keep applying for different jobs.

Then I read this opinion article in The Age, the author Helen Szoke talks about the something similar:

At a time when we are hearing so much about labour market shortages and skill shortages, Harnessing Diversity reveals stories of people who have lived in Victoria for some time, can't get their overseas work experience recognised and can't get a job. How can this be so, when we know that some sectors of the job market are running at 20% vacancy rates, when employers are using all sorts of strategies to retain workers because of labour market shortages?
This part of the article is certainly very demeaning:
Take, for example, the research on people with Arabic-sounding names who failed to win an interview until they changed their names on their applications to ones that sounded Anglo-Saxon.
If someone looked at this in a different light, they probably would call it racism as this is systematically avoiding outsiders. May be not racism, but some kind of bias towards people only with Australian experience, but you probably see my point. The people who are struggling probably won't be able to speak up as they are too busy worrying about their career.

Helen also says, "The land of the fair go is an illusion for many migrants.", lets hope people in charge of hiring actually do something about this.

Picture courtesy: Auckland Art Gallery

Dark Knight: A different look

Blog LifeDev has listed 8 ways The Dark Knight is different to other movies, I happen to agree with all of them. On Saturday we had to go to two different cinemas to get a ticket for this movie and also had to wait in the for about 20 minutes to get a good seat.

There are only a few movies that break the norms and become something special because they didn’t do what everyone else did before them. The latest Batman movie The Dark Knight is just one of those movies.
Read the rest of the post here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


No words!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Crime in Melbourne - Part 2

As previously noted on my blog, Crime in Melbourne is pretty non-existent. I keep getting traffic through search engines about this issue and here are a few points I would like to make:

  1. Assault type crime is lower in Victoria (of which Melbourne is the capital) is lower than the national average, even lower than in NSW, as per this.
  2. The last major scare in Melbourne city was 2007 CBD Shootings. It wasn't a terrorist type scare, nor was it organised or pre-planned.
  3. There aren't any street muggings, at least none are reported.
  4. Victoria Police have released their Crime stats here.
  5. While Footscray and some other areas used to be a problem earlier, they are much safer now.
  6. Late night train rides can be an issue with drunks and druggies creating nuisance for others, however, they do not interfere with others.
Rest assured, I feel as safe in Melbourne on the streets as I would feel in Hyderabad or at my home.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Indian Caste Discussion on

Was reading this story on

PEOPLE cross the street to avoid Baby, a sweet-faced young woman dressed in a cherry-red salwar kameez. It is the wide iron pan and wire brush she carries that mark her out as someone to be avoided: these are the ancient tools of the “manual scavenger”, a euphemism for those who clean up the faeces from houses that lack flushing toilets.

A couple of delightful discoveries in the story:
  • Sulabh International has been started by a Brahmin.
  • The same Dalits who were not allowed to enter temples are making wicks for oil lamps.
Great story, greater moral for those high-caste idiots who think they are superior.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Obama to target Pakistan

In what seems to be perhaps the most logical step being taken or even considered by the US, Barack Obama says he would target Pakistan if he becomes the president.

But Obama, who also promised to use diplomacy to end Iran's nuclear program and renew US alliances, promised to switch the focus of US military action overseas from Iraq, to Afghanistan and Pakistan.


This is great news, as someone finally is looking at the right way towards the whole Al-Qaeda issue.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Otway Forest

The wife's birthday on a weekend was just a very good time to visit the Otway Forest just along the Great Ocean Road. When all the weekend pack of tourists were away on the snow mountains, we went to some place where fewer visitors planned to go.

Great Otway National Park is 3 hours drive from Melbourne. The natural rainforests features Australian wildlife and also some great Waterfalls, which unsurprisingly very few people bother to visit.

Slowing the shutter speed when taking pictures of a waterfall produces the silky effect that can be seen here. Without a tripod, I think I did ok.

It also has Otway Fly, memo to Australian government: Constructing a high tower in the middle of a forest and ripping off visitors by giving them access to it is not appreciated.

Want to go to the top? That will be $20, thank you.

Otway remains the younger brother of attractions when compared to the Great Ocean Road, but is much more beautiful if you want to work for it. (The walks down and to the waterfalls is only for the very fit).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Comma rules!

Some rules about how to use the comma in daily use are here.

One of the examples:

10. Use commas to avoid confusion. For example: Tell the doctor, pepper is one of your asthma triggers. Or better yet: Tell Christopher, Columbus discovered America..

Also, while on the topic of a comma, read up on the Oxford Comma.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Epic India is Epic!

Click on pic to view larger version.

Found this on Wikipedia, here.

Interesting to note the familiar names of places after watching Ramayana and Mahabharata on TV when I was young. Places of note are:
Kuru of Kauravas
Panchala of Draupadi's father
Dwaraka of Krishna
Anga of Karna
Gandhara of Shakuni (note the geographical location, Afghanistan perhaps?)

Also of note are kingdoms of exotic tribes in Pink. Yakshas, Rakshasas, Asuras etc were referred to as different types of beings with special powers, Rakshasas were for example simply demons as depicted in Ramayana. As I haven't read Ramayana myself, I am not too sure about it now. This maps certainly is a good way to read into India's ancient history.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

6 Reasons I won't get the iPhone tomorrow

Tomorrow the new iPhone 3G will start selling in 23 countries including in Australia. I won't get the new iPhone because:

1. It is too costly. If I wait at least 2 months, I would probably get an upgraded model or the same thing for cheaper.

2. It is a new model (3G) and with all electronics there may be a few technical glitches that may need fixing.

3. Contract. Sure, in Australia I have a choice with three different providers, but if I want to move between providers I will have to break the contract and pay termination fees. I should be able to buy the phone outright and then plug my SIM card in and be able to use it.

4. I am with Three. The only mobile carrier which is not offering the iPhone. This may change in the future.

5. Everyone will have it and it is not a novelty anymore. Whenever the price decreases, I can be able to point and feel smug about how I still have the same thing they have and I didn't have to mortgage my house to get it.

6. And the number one reason I won't get the iPhone tomorrow, is because I am broke. :(


This made my day in the morning itself.

Found here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

AVG 8.0 now malware

As per this.

Even my favourite site Whirlpool has been affected by AVG sending out DDOS attacks to Whirlpool. Around 12 per second.

For someone who has recommended AVG to so many friends and colleagues, this is disheartening. I used to trust this software and now in the guise of protecting us from the internet malware, AVG itself has turned into one.

It all started when grisoft launched 8.0 and the pop-ups started coming up to upgrade, this was annoying in itself. The installation needs one reboot and the first scan needs another reboot. And now I am giving it the boot.

Free alternatives are:
1. As per Simon:

If you follow some basic rules — don't download dodgy crap, don't use IE6, use a virus-filtered email service like gmail, and stay behind NAT routing — you can avoid most everything out there.

2. Avast
3. Avira

UPDATE: Peter Cameron from AVG has released an update here:

As promised, I am letting you know that the latest update for AVG Free edition has addressed and rectified the issue that Simon and other members of Whirlpool (and others) have brought to our attention. This update has now been released to users and has also been built into the latest installation package for AVG Free.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Indian Scientists Firm Believers

My father was at best an agnostic, refusing to bend to norms but still leading us into the rites on a major festival. Understandably, this drew criticism from my mom about how even our family doctor was clearly very religious. "Are you wiser than him?", she would ask. The comparison of course meant that the doctor studied science and still is religious.

Seems like my mother had a point. As per studies it has been reported in The Hindu (lucky coincidence) that:

A survey, by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut and Hyderabad-based Centre for Inquiry, found that religion and faith had deep roots in the minds of Indian scientists.

The upside to this is that the religious scientists refuse to develop any kind of weapons, a concept that makes one wonder how much better our world would've been if all scientists thought this way (Not religious, but against weapons).

On the 150th Anniversary of the Theory of Evolution, this news has been brought to you by the very irony that also made Robert Oppenheimer (contributor to the Nuclear bomb project) who quoted Lord Krishna's words, "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds".

Hancock: Review on Wired

I am looking forward to this movie. has put a review for it here.

Yes, he can fly, yet the hard-drinking, bulletproof superhero is so reckless that his life-saving rescues destroy property and prompt lawsuits, jail time and snarky comments from bystanders.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Books I am reading

A frenzy of book buying has got me a ton of books at home, like a child with a big piece of candy, I am slowly reading through them.

The books I am reading are:

1. Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian (Preview: Engaging, Interesting)
2. Cervantes, Don Quixote (Preview: Old School, Amusing, Satire)
3. Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers (No preview, haven't started)
4. Homer, Illiad (Preview: Read it once in school before, want to read it in full)
5. Alexandre Dumas, The Man in the Iron Mask (No preview, haven't started)

If you have read any of these, please provide a short review in comments.

Monday, June 30, 2008

First Indian Gay Pride March in New Delhi

As per this. This is great news for the gays of India who not only have been persecuted for very long, but actually have some very harsh laws against them.

A quick search for Section 377 leads to links of laws in Singapore and India pertaining to gay legislation. The reason the code is the same is because it has been inherited from a common British law. So, if it is such an old law, it is time it is reviewed.

But with Eve Teasing being such a prevalent issue in India, the society taking gays as natural is probably still a long way off. But with this news of Gay March going off peacefully, there is hope.

If you want to read more about Section 377 please check out Naz Foundation.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Spanish Apes have more rights than humans in some countries

Spain’s parliament approved a measure Wednesday to extend some human rights to gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans, becoming the first country to explicitly acknowledge the legal rights of nonhumans.

From: here

This news is great for the animals, I am not too sure that they realise this though. If you randomly pick a human from India and an ape from Spain, the Spanish ape probably has a better chance of being treated. Think about it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Phoenix Mars Lander is on Twitter

If you guys know what Twitter is then Mars Phoenix Lander is on it providing us Earthlings with updates and news. You can follow MarsPhoenix here.

If you don't know what Twitter is then it may be a good thing to get on to. You can follow me here.

Wordsmith changes email format

After more than 10 years of text emails, Anu Garg of AWAD (A Word A Day) has changed the format of the emails to HTML. There isn't much great about it, but it looks much better than the text emails.

If you are into learning words and haven't heard about this service it is great to learn new words, go to to learn a new word everyday. With around 400,000 words in English there is much to learn I reckon.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Life - Part 2

After waking up today the first thought that crossed my mind was, "Another chore done, what's next?". Life got so routine that even sleep is another chore for me. :(

This cartoon sums up what I feel like about it now:


'Life' is the favourite theme of cartoonists it seems, with this one showing how much we 'play' in 'life':


And life summed up in this Persian comic:


This is how I felt two years ago:

Alarm clocks. Snooze buttons. Cereal breakfast everyday, serial breakfast. Train ticket. Petrol costly. Drink coffee during morning tea. McDonalds. Worry about weight. Credit card bills. Mobile ringing. Office meeting. Call home. Mild home sickness. Beer. Hair cut. Working holiday. Long weekend. Washing machine. Press clothes. Vacuum cleaner. Government taxes.... Life!!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Looking for a job is exciting, very exciting. You are geared up to get more money and not just the 3-5% of annual raise the company plans for you. Almost no one gets the 5% raise, but when you are looking for a job, you can command a salary depending on the experience. Lesson learnt: Loyalty pays less than 5%.

A new job is certainly not very easy to find, nor is moving out of your comfort zone painless. But the excitement of doing something new and proving a different set of people how good you are is something of a challenge I do enjoy.

Job hunting is a time that is certainly stressful, but in retrospect feels so much satisfying. You get to learn a few new things about yourself and your confidence certainly shoots up. The mindset that you take in the interview room certainly sets the tone. The few interviews I wasn't too sure about, I didn't make it.

I followed tips given on few career blogs (psst, here -, here are some tips that I worked on:

  1. Don't flood the market with your resume, if a recruitment agency sees your resume too many times they will probably start ignoring you. Apply for jobs that you are certain that you will get a call for.
  2. Do a follow up call with the agency/referrer to check if they received your application.
  3. Fix your resume (search on the internet on how to make it better, I got calls just by doing this).
  4. Write a good and very relevant cover letter, it should make the person open your resume to read it. If there is no cover letter or it is poorly constructed, they probably won't go any further. Again, search the internet for this.
I am now happily employed in a new organisation. After months of searching without any results, I got two offers on the very same day. Very good advise from my wife made me pick the right one even if this one pays lesser. Another career tip: If they talk to you about your hobbies in the interview and they offer, then work there.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Out of form? Indeed!!

One very convenient excuse for a string of bad performances of a cricket player is "He is out of form!". Now, that is the most pathetic excuse one can give for anything.

What does it mean? Lets see what I can come up with:

  • I am having trouble at home with my wife/girlfriend and not able to concentrate while playing.
  • I cannot concentrate because I am constantly calculating my earnings and tax returns in my head.
  • No matter how much we sledge, it doesn't seem to affect the opposing team. Let me try this...
  • I am the man, I always perform, look at me do this...
"Out of form" excuse has been used by many a cricketer, the last days of Ravi Shastri, Navjot Sidhu, Mohammed Azharuddin were torture for cricket fans as the batsmen came in to the crease and then just had a picnic. In the old days if a hunter went to the jungle and came back empty handed he would probably be ridiculed so much he would give his profession up.

Agreed, there is some bad luck when at the crease and probably the opposing team is in much better shape than you are, but when you are consistently inconsistent then you must step down for a while.

Now, lets see what professions or performances would not allow the excuse "Out of form"!...

  • Student failing all his exams.
  • Air Traffic Controller, God forbid!
  • Soldier.
  • A cook.
So, why are these highly paid cricketers getting away with that excuse?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hayden calls Harbhajan 'obnoxious little weed'

Listen to this (The audio clip begins with an ad.)

In other words, "He still keeps objecting to our sledging after all this time." Note that it was Hayden himself who started it.

Also, to Ishant Sharma he says, "We all play for our country mate!". But Hayden also plays for Chennai Super Kings.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Goa - India Trip Part 2

When I decided to travel all over Australia and then may be more across the world, I realised that I haven't travelled anywhere in India itself. Sure, I have been to Udaipur when I was young, but that was with my parents and not as laid back as travelling is supposed to be. So, as honeymoon plans were being made we had to pick Goa as one of our destinations as my wife had been there earlier and she knew a bit about it.

We reserved first class train tickets to get there, first class being air conditioned coaches with clean sheets, clean towels and marginally better food service. Also included in the deal were cleaner toilets and an attendant to clear the litter.

Earlier, getting to Goa meant taking a train upto Hubli and then taking a bus ride to get there (or direct flight). But train lines were now going to Goa state. The last stop of our train was to Vascodagama, but we got down at Margao and spent Rs 550 on our auto trip to Candolim where we were supposed to stay.

The major thing that gets you in Goa are the costs involved. Rs 550 for a 55 kilometre trip wasn't much as the taxi cab charges would make us poorer by Rs 770. We took the cheaper option.

Beach shacks in Goa are the places to spend your day in. I heard that these are set up only during winter. At the shack one can drink, eat, read a book, have lunch, have dinner, drink a bit more, watch fireworks, play board games and much more without leaving one's cushioned seat. All this while taking in the fresh salted air in and watching the sun go down.

Renting vehicles is the way to move, unless you want to spend all your cash on taxis and autos. The rent is around 200 to 250 rupees per day and require minimum paperwork. The guy we were talking to said if there is Police lafda(issues) then I need something, I gave him my bank atm card which I don't hold money in, he kept it for five days, cash was handed over and I had a scooter at my disposal.

Northern Goa has the most number of beaches that are recommended. Ask anyone and they will rattle off names like Anjuna beach, Vagator beach, Arambol beach etc. All of them in the Northern side of Goa. Candolim is in the Northern part of Goa and going to any of these beaches didn't take too long a ride.

The roads are very narrow in Goa and it feels like you have gone back a 100 years looking at those old style houses and churches, driving by them you would occasionally come through to huge fields surrounded by coconut trees. Commercialism, if alive and well in Goa, has not hurt the natural beauty away from the beaches.

Fort Aguada is a proper fort. Though paling in size to other bigger forts in India, this fortress has a moat with self explanatory design. One doesn't need a guide to go around it, nor does it take hours of walking through it. The views from this fort of the sea and of Goa are not to be missed.

The one beach that is not be missed is Arambol. I have read about this beach in Jamies blog and wanted to get there. It is a good 40 kilometres from Candolim and took about an hour to get there. But there was a double surprise when we got there. On the way to Arambol is another beach called Mandrem.

Mandrem Beach surrounded by coconut trees. The coconuts cost Rs 50 each (compared to Rs 6 in other parts of India).

If the major beaches of Goa are filled with touts and sellers of an assortment of trinkets Mandrem and Arambol are featured with their absence. So, to really relax one has to first get here and then sleep it off in the sun.

Sellers of trinkets and various other types of clothing speak very good English. It is about their survival for them. They also speak in rhetoric: "You kidding madam?", was a question posed by one lady when my wife tried to bargain for a sarong.

The temperature while we were there was a gorgeous 30 degrees with some humidity as to not make it dry and hot. Guys could ride around without their shirts all day and all night, so did many of them.

More about Goa later.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Australia Apologises

Tomorrow the 13th of February 2008, will be a great day in the history of Australia. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is going to apologise formally on behalf of the Australian government to the Aboriginal community. This apology will be for the policies of Stolen Generation which were in place for almost a century from 1869 to 1969.

This is great news, not just for the aborigines of Australia but for every Australian as they shake off the stigma attached to their past and now move on.

Full text of the speech is here.

History being made and I am present here, I feel very lucky.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Qtrax - Update (Don't bother)

Looks like I got excited 'bout Qtrax very early. With reports from the blogosphere not very encouraging and Wired giving it a miss. I tried to download the player but keep getting 'page not found', so won't bother with it till encouraging reports come up.

So, for now it is back to hoping for a really free music downloading source. Till then check out Lifehacker's list on ways to download and listen to music on the web (free of course).

Monday, January 28, 2008

Qtrax - 25 Million songs for free download

Starting tonight, Qtrax is putting up 25 million songs for listening and downloading for free. This is an ad-supported site with a peer-to-peer network for downloading music.

This is great news for music lovers like me. I just hope that this doesn't go the Spiral Frog way where the music is only available for downloads in the US.

In other music download news - Amazon music is considering going worldwide with their DRM free sales of music online.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Republic Day, Happy Australia Day

From Australia Day website:

The tradition of noticing 26 January began early in the nineteenth century with Sydney almanacs referring to First Landing Day or Foundation Day. That was the day in 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships from Great Britain and the first governor of New South Wales, arrived at Sydney Cove.

From Indian Government website on Republic Day:

It was on 26th of January 1950 that the constitution of India came into force and India finally enjoyed the true spirit of freedom. More than on a political level, the day has emotional significance for Indians. Attached to the day is the recognition that we live in a sovereign, secular, and democratic nation that breathes on the principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.

Today, I have double the cause for celebration. A proud son of two mothers, I am a citizen both of India and Australia. Overseas Citizenship of India has recognised its global citizens and gives opportunity and the privilege for expat Indians to enjoy the benefits of being an Indian citizen as well.

As if on cue, I got my OCI passport yesterday along with a sticker on my Australian passport with validity date of LIFELONG.

Have fun on your holiday and enjoy the benefits of living in a free world.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What a win for cricket!!!

After India's performance and its luck with umpiring in this series, I wasn't really sure of what would go down in Perth. Given the WACA's history and Australian team's aggressiveness I imagined Perth would be a draw rather than India's win. If India did win, then may be it would be a tight call.

But, no.

India won the series like champions of the game. When I used to watch Billiards and Snooker matches I used to think that I could hit the shots that the pros could, but there was one difference, the pros could do it repeatedly. So, when Ishant Sharma, R P Singh and Irfan Pathan bowled ball after ball with great accuracy and correct line and length they did show real skill in bowling.

That 19 year old Ishant Sharma would trouble a quality batsman like Ponting was not just amusing, but real treat to watch.

What would be memorable is R P Singh's hanging on to the batting along with Laxman to give just that little bit extra runs to India during their second innings. Kudos to Mitchell Johnson who made Indian bowling look stupid along with his adventurous shots, that stuff is what makes champions champions.

At the start of the game, the odds for India's win was $8, something I wouldn't really worry about. If I did bet on India, they might not have won, effectively, I made them win.

Picture courtesy:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nobody remains a virgin...

Quite F***ing true.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Monkey walks a robot

Scientists in Duke university USA connected a monkey's brain to a robot in Kyoto, Japan. The monkey's thoughts made the robot walk.

Read all about it here.

Live in Fear, die anyway

According to a New York Time article, American's are probably worrying themselves to death. The cause of worry? Terrorism!

But worrying about terrorism could be taking a toll on the hearts of millions of Americans. The evidence, published last week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, comes from researchers who began tracking the health of a representative sample of more than 2,700 Americans before September 2001. After the attacks of Sept. 11, the scientists monitored people’s fears of terrorism over the next several years and found that the most fearful people were three to five times more likely than the rest to receive diagnoses of new cardiovascular ailments.

Living away from India and getting the news that there has been a terrorist attack in Mumbai or Hyderabad worries me a lot. I make frantic calls to friends and family to make sure they are okay. But the response to any of this call is a very casual, "Don't worry about it.".

Major shopping centres and tourist places do have mandatory security checks in Hyderabad and no Hyderabadi would blink before letting someone else grope you for possible bombs. In effect, they just grin and bear it.

But the wonderful thing about all this is, there is no fear or worry that they might be attacked. I am no psychologist or a social-worker to find out whether people really are afraid, but one look at the way people congregate at various exhibitions and no one in the family raises any concerns about security when planning to go anywhere, it is evident that the attitude is definitely positive.

Be resignation to fate about death ('When your time comes, you go') or the immense and pervasive faith ('God will do right'), Indians are definitely better off in this area. They might not be enjoying the benefits or comforts of a first world country, they are not hindered by first world fears.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My India trip - part 1

I just returned from a seven week relaxing trip to India. The trip was for a very personal reason and also for a bit of travelling on the side. The spirit of the people there and the ubiquitous positivity of the people amazes me still. The happiness factor is definitely very high there. Mix this with the available food options, family gatherings, cheap travel with hundreds of worthy destinations and a very good weather make me kick myself why I don't live there.

Of all the things you love about India its traffic is certainly not one of them. There were times where I longed to stay back and continue my life there, but once I hit the road, I am too glad that I don't live there any more.

Whinging and bad-mouthing apart. There are quite a few changes that I noticed that the government is working on to tackle the various issues. And I cannot help but wonder that if India has come this far despite the lax policies and omnipresent corruption, what where would the country be if things were a bit better much earlier when development started accelerating.

So there are now footbridges on major roads in Hyderabad (which, sadly was prompted by the death of 2 school girls) and plans are being laid for metro underground rail, which will take another 5 to 10 years by the time they are fully operational. The traffic issue will get worse before it starts looking up.

Public servants who sweep the roads have been given longer brooms so that they don't have to bend when doing their job. I always notice this because I cringe at the thought of them bending and doing their jobs with small brooms, but now am happy for them. It took so many decades for this change to come, probably no one ever protested enough. Not all municipalities have this though. One can still find some cringe worthy scenes of old ladies hunched up amid the dirt.

While my flight was taking off from Hyderabad, all the street lights looked very hazy through the flight windows. I was wondering why. Only later did I realise that the smoke and dust make them look that way. Why has no one thought about paving the roads so that there is less dust and dirt on the roads is another multi-decade question.

Will write more about my India trip later.

The reason I went to India was to get married. The wedding was in typical Bengali style with styrofoam crowns and conch shells blaring. I am now a honorary Bengali.
The wedding followed by a honeymoon trip to Goa and Hampi, both places being very relaxing and wonderful places to visit.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Title Change

Not to focus only on Australia and India, I have now changed the title to make my blog more generic. I don't know if anyone reads this blog, but since I have written about cricket, the traffic has been constant.

Unrational? Yes. It may not be a word, but I will use it, just to show case my quirky way of writing sometimes.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Taare Zameen Par - Stars on the ground

Okay, the cheesy translation(which is, due to an some inspiration by my local DVD guy who wants to translate every movie title) aside, the movie TZP itself is a star in its own and all other rights.

When the rate of sub-standard movies coming out of Bollywood is faster than the birth of potholes on Indian roads, we have a winner. Taare Zameen Par, I am sure wasn't made to be part of the race.

There are a few times when a very new artist out performs senior players in the industry. 'Sixth Sense' is one example of this. Lux New Face Award in Filmfare awards is not. TZP is another example.

When every new movie that is made in Hindi has to have a romantic angle to it and very subtle points are exaggerated with emotional music, a song and liberal use of glycerine on the heroine's eyes, TZP managed it with great acting and minimal music. The point in the movie where the shishya (pupil) outperforms the guru (teacher) is true not just in the story but evident even in the acting. Aamir Khan's direction, of course played a huge part in production of this gem of a movie.

Ishant Avasthi is a dyslexic kid stuck in the race for perfection on report cards. A race set by parents and schools, but the participants never realised they were running in. So, when he cannot pass exams due to his inability of spelling and reading he is despised for his inabilities by his teachers and parents. This, by the way is nothing new for any kid in India, where he/she is judged solely on their report cards and nothing else.

His condition, dyslexia, is discovered by his teacher Ram Nikumbh (Aamir Khan), who takes upon himself to improve Ishant's condition by teaching him. I thought this was another example of Bollywood excessiveness until I found out there is a pretty good reason for this.

As pointed out earlier, the entire movie rests only on great artistic skills of Darsheel Safary, the young artist who outperforms Aamir Khan not just in the story but in real life. When Darsheel weeps on the screen out of sadness, it radiates. "Fully grown men wail", was one observation noted in the cinema by a friend, I don't consider myself fully grown (not mentally at least), so I did not wail, but I was moved enough.

There is very good use of animation in this movie. Of all the children's movies that Bollywood doesn't make, one would think that animation is not part of their forte. But the few times that it does come up in TZP, we know that there is real promise in that direction. Whether directors or big studios would make some good children's movies is another question.

So, when you want a respite from all the stupid comedies and over-acting from old actors, a breather from the item numbers and a break from over use of glycerine on thick make up of heroines, watch Taare Zameen Par for some very genuine acting and a heart-touching story. I would translate the title as "A Star from Bollywood".