Sunday, December 8, 2013

Life is Short

Life is short. Enjoy it while you can.

Guess I should have seen it coming. He was getting weak and needed a glucose dosage every 6 hrs. And even when he was awake, it wasn’t to the fullest, getting tired real soon. Sometimes, he would stand at a place and stare at nothing.

The hearing had gone down and the voice faded – many times he was barely audible. The dental setup was gone and he needed an artificial tooth. His memory was fading. He couldn’t recall the good times he had stored “forever”.

His connections had become weaker. Even old friends were forgotten. Many times he needed to be reintroduced to them as “new friends”. And just yesterday, even the doctors said there was no further support available.

And today it happened. It fell and broke its glass. Thank you Nokia 701.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Answers to your 10 Qs Mr Sampath

Read this piece in HT (with Reference to Mr. G. Sampath's book) where the author asks seemingly uncomfortable questions to Sachin Tendulkar. Since Sachin is too much of a gentleman to answer his critics in any other way than making more runs, I thought, as a fan, I might fulfil this hard task for him.

Q1: Why did Sachin remain silent on the match-fixing issue?
A1: Is it actually not possible that he didn't know anything? Think of it like a corporate department - the boss knows something. Another guy is also part of that secret team. And suddenly one day, you hear the launch of a completely new plan. Do yo speak about the plan? You are not supposed to - because you were not part of the team that hatched the devious plan!

Q2: On his and India's opposition to DRS as it would harm his batting averages
A2: Test Match 199, Eden Gardens - First Innings dismissal. I rest my case.

Q3: Seeking exemptions for his car and bungalow as special concessions for his "Celebrity Status"
A3: Asking for favours is human. That he did it openly demonstrates his honesty. Couldn't he have done, with all his money, what a normal human would have done - go and pay a hefty bribe, or in his case, offer the commisioner's kid his bat, and get the same work done? He was just asking for a favour. To honour or not was a government decision in which he had no role to play.

Q4: Not voicing his opinion on important things
A4: Not having a public stand doesn't mean not having an opinion. Rajya Sabha is not just a place for voicing a public stand. it is a place where he can influence opinion. BTW, this question is a contradiction to your second question.

Q5: Choice of Rajya Sabha and Cricket
A5: Huh? What kinda question is that? Have you never done two things together - one of which is a priority? Say attend a family function by skipping a crucial workplace meeting because family comes first? Is your workplace a hobby?

Q6: "Abysmal" Captaincy record
A6: Does the writer know that Sachin QUIT captaincy? He was not sacked. He was not even asked to step down. He just quit because he wanted to concentrate on his batting (Ref: Chandu Borde's statement on the issue). And remember, he was 22 then and nowhere close to the "star" that he is today. Just shows that he knows his limitations well. Next are you going to ask him why does he not win cricinfo fantasy leagues as it involves the same cricketing intelligence?

Q7: Personal records before team player
A7: Does it harm the team if few individuals get personal records on the way? Didn't he also put his hand up to open the innings in the ODI's when after Siddhu, India was searching for an opener? Who doesn't remember the Hero Cup final over when out of nowhere, he took the bowl and left the Proteas clueless! Again, reaching personal milestones is important to every individual. Doesn't in any way mean that he is not a team player. Regarding the Bangladesh match, Mr. Author, he did well not to blame the bowlers who let Bangladesh chase away those runs so easily!

Q8: Performing under pressure
A8: Haha. Desert Storm 'Semi Final'? Hero Cup Final? Chennai Test against Aussies? Shall I continue? Yes there are instances to the contrary too. But doesn't mean he thought of the team any lesser. And remember, the captain of the ship steers the ship amidst troubled seas. Even tugboats can steer it in the shallow waters of the port.

Q9: Public Speaking
A9: Again, haha No comments. Speaking is not his forte. Doesn't make him boring. Trust me, when his bat is doing the talking, no one calls him that!

Q10: On Journalists who suck up to him
A10: Again, No comments. The question without any context doesn't merit an answer!

Now I know why I couldn't read the book. Because, its just not funny!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Doctor: Between the devil and the deep sea

I’ve seen many “positive” reactions to the Supreme Court verdict that many news channels termed historic and landmark. While the case might be historic, extrapolating it to any and all other medical cases is, however, not good for the profession in particular – and general public at large.
  • Disclaimer 1: I belong to a family with a few doctors.
  • Disclaimer 2: I’m not a medical practitioner. I’ve not consulted with one before writing this. I’m not in any way related to AMRI or any other hospital for that matter.
  • Disclaimer 3: I’ve nothing to say about this particular case but a lot against generalizing this case.
Here’s why:
Have you gone to a car mechanic with a complaint of a weird noise in your engine? How does he repair that? He doesn’t take it to an automotive lab. He doesn’t contact the car manufacturer for the engine specifications and schematics. He puts his ear to your gas guzzler and asks you to turn the ignition ON. He keeps his ear close while making those faces that make you feel insecure about your 10-yr new possession. He suddenly rises from the hood of the car and pronounces to no one in particular – “There is a jam in the valve”. Now he is not talking to anyone. His brain is however working to repair your car. He then calculates and tells you, “It will be done. Do you want a company valve or just any will do? It will cost you Rs.4000. You can collect your car tomorrow.” You haggle about the valve price without having any clue whether 4000 or 1000 is the right price. And finally, a number decided, you entrust him with the vehicle. He repairs it, or if else while trying to repair, finds some other fault, calls you up to tell you that his initial diagnosis is wrong and a separate procedure might be required.

A doctor does the exact same thing with your body!

He has two options:
  1. Go the detailed way:
    1. Conduct thorough diagnostics – You never know if a scratch on the outside is actually deep rust from the inside! So better do a x-ray scan of the complete car
    2. Prescribe the best medicines. Why go with a Rs.10 rubber strip when you can go for Rs.200 guaranteed puncture fixers from Dunelope!
    3. Treat it with intense care till it becomes alright. Even if its just puncture, better get the car to a workshop where a team of specialized mechanical engineers from IIT-KGP will work on it for 4 days and fix the puncture.
    4. And at the end, give you a bill of Rs. 1,20,000 (+taxes)
  2. Go the trusted way:
    1. Conduct brief diagnostics – just feel inside the tire to see if there is a nail.
    2. Prescribe the most effective known medicine – you know the crowbar is enough to open up the tyre and a hydraulic press is not really required.
    3. Treat it with care – you know its not your car but you have an intent to do good for two reasons – i) you do not want the brickbats ii) You want a repeat customer. Hence, give it chhotu who knows how to repair the puncture and has a workshop record of doing it under 4mins 39secs.
    4. Give you a bill of Rs. 200 (the tube has to be purchased from the market by you)
Agreed, a car is far more dispensable than a human body, even then, does the doctor prescribe ELISA the moment you go to him with a second instance of a running nose! Ideally, he should – recurring diseases is a sign of AIDS. And if he does that, Aamir Khan will be knocking his doors with a court notice of unjustified expenses on the treatment of a “poor hapless customer”. And then he’ll be accused of being a stooge of the pharma and medical instrumentation companies.

This, btw is very likely what happened in the west where the cost of medical treatment is high. So high that healthcare alone could shut down the government controlling the biggest pot of money in the world.

Not all doctors are unscrupulous thugs. In fact most aren’t. Medicine is a profession built on trust and fame. Infamy is a death knell in the profession. More often than not, a doctor intends well. More often than not, a doctor will practice his profession well (almost like a case of a SW Engineer coding – the ‘default’ is the right way). In a few cases where he doesn’t, action needs to be taken. But to say that all hospitals are 5-star hotels and thugs is a gross misstatement and, imho, a disservice to the nation. Continue this tirade against the doctors and very soon we’ll be shutting down the Indian Govt too asking for a cheaper healthcare system.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rahul's Press Conference: Behind the scenes

Disclaimer: Nothing Official About it. Attempt at satire/humour. Is in no way meant to dishonour/discredit the people or the positions of the honourable PM and the President of India.

So here is what happened an hour before the Press Conference of Rahul Gandhi today (Sept 27th, 2013)

Pranab: OK What do I do... I have to return this ordinance. BJP does have a point.

MMS: Kya Pranab da, sign karo na Jaldi.

Pranab: Singh Sahib, Itna aasan nahi hai... Ise to waapis karna padega. Govt ko bada dhakka lagega

MMS: Sachchi?

Pranab: Muchchi...

MMS: Ek sec ruko, madam ko line pe leta hoon...

Madam: Kya ho Manmohan ji? US jaakar to bahut baaten kar rahe ho...

MMS: Madam, US ki baad mein baat karenge. India mein problem hone waali hai. Pranab da bol rahe hain ordinance waapis karenge.

Madam: Na. Nahi karenge. Main baat karti hoon.

MMS: Line pe hain.

Madam: Kyon Pranab. Presi ban gaye to humaari nahi sunoge?

Pranab: Sorry Madam. But BJP does have a point. Main agar sign kar bhi doon to koi na koi PIL file karke isko void kar dega. And fir Congress Govt ke saath saath meri bhi image kharab ho jaayegi. Aur poora credit Narendra bhai le lenge...

Madam: Wo Gujarat ka Chief Minister Narendra Modi? Wo kyon?

Pranab: BJP hi to aayee hai ye mere paas le kar...

Madam: To kuch bataiye na.. BJP ko nahi lene de sakte credit..

Pranab: Ek hi idea hai. Aap apne upar le lo. Aap bol do Congress is taking back ordinance..

Madam: Us se kya hoga. Manmohan ji ka to mazaak ban jayega aur saath hi govt ka.

Pranab: To aisa karo na. Rahul baba ko bolo Press Conference bulane ko.

Madam: Press Conference? But usme to press waale hote hain. Rahul baat nahi karega

Pranab: Press waalo ko Question nahi poochhne denge. Saath mein kisi doosre congress waale ko bhi rakh lenge taaki rauhl baba ki statement ka sahi sahi meaning de dein just in case kuch ulta bol de.

Madam: Kya matlab? Rahul ulta bolta hai?

Pranab: Nahi nahi madam. Ye matlab nahi tha mera.

Madam: Anyways, sahi to bol rahe ho.

Pranab: Aur fir credit bhi Rahul baba le sakte hain. Main bol doonga BJP ki sunta us se pehle hi govt ne ordinance waapis le liya

Madam: Manmohan ji, aapka bhi kuch boliye

MMS: "Thik Hai".

Madam: Chalo bolti hoon kisi ko press conference arrange karwane ko.

Pranab: Manmohan dada, sambhal lijiyega. US mein press jyada poochhegi nahi. Jab tak waapis aayi tab tak kuch aur scandal arrange karwa denge. ya fir news waalon ko bolenge thode din Modi ji ka laughter show dikhaye TV pe...

MMS: "Thik Hai"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Delhi Dystopia: BA Pass

Ok, I didn’t want to do this but I was asked so many questions about BA Pass that I had to write it out on the blog.
Warning: The below text contains elements of the plot.

It is a movie rife with dystopia - dark with no glimmer of hope... It accentuates the hell that life can be for an aspiring middle class "BA Pass". And worse of all, shows the defeatist side of humanity that has no spine and keeps on bending as more pressure is piled on... and at the climax, the spine breaks and the protagonist is down flat.

It starts off with an unassuming, just ‘adult’ Mukesh being asked to collect a carton of apples from the manipulative Sarika’s house. Apples – the first sin committed by mankind..! What he doesn’t know is that a plot has been laid out for him to be sucked into a world of male prostitution. Yes, he is reluctant at first, but soon accepts it as a way of life. And not surprisingly, very soon he begins to enjoy the money that he earns! After a few repetitive erotic scenes, we land at the intermission.

Things change after the intermission. Mukesh is discovered by Sarika’s husband, thrown out of his aunt’s house (under a different pretext) and lands into the open and waiting arms of the man who makes his daily bread from the dead. Suddenly, Mukesh has no “business” and no money (having handed over every pie to Sarika for “safe-keeping”). Instead of working to make a living and also paying for his sisters who stay in an orphanage, he does what he knows best – pimps himself out – this time to a gang of unruly guys who pick him off the road. Ill-treated, he decides to rob Sarika and ends up killing her. Not surprisingly, the Delhi police is after him. On the other hand, his “friend” from the graveyard has disappeared. His sisters are waiting for him at the Delhi Railway Station in the dead of the night. And he decides to jump off a building and kill himself.

The video is dark, the colours gloomy and the music melancholic. I'm sure if screens could smell, the theatre would stink. The actors do rise above the melancholy to give standout performances. Shadab (Mukesh) is amazing in his controlled display of emotions (imagine control during the first half and you will know why I appreciate it). The story is powerful and incisive. However, this is a movie made for the critics to applaud and not for the mainstream audience to enjoy and appreciate.

Overall Verdict: Go if you must, but don’t blame me if, after the movie, you feel like there is no good left in the world. The only movie that comes close is Requiem for a Dream, and I, while appreciating that movie, had bad dreams even days later.

Music from "Requiem for a Dream"

P.S: Btw, this movie could as well have been “Engineer” or “Doctor” :D

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Movie Review: Lootera

You know the movie was good, when on the following morning, you are still thinking about the movie! Lootera is one such movie… Agonisingly slow yet inexplicably brilliant!

Plot: It starts with those typical girl-learning-to-drive-collides-with-the-hero-falls-in-love-hero-goes-away storylines we know to be so common in Bollywood. The twist right before the interval! And then the prestige of the hero and then they fall in love again. So typical, right? Trust me, it isn’t!

Cinematography and Direction: The first half of the movie, though slow, is beautiful in the period setup and those few delicately handled romantic scenes. The authentic Bengali setup, with its vibrant colours and intricate sculpture cannot be missed. The second half is where the brilliance of the movie starts. Like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black, this movie takes beautiful form in the second half. Every act in the first half starts having more relevance in the second. Each moment is revisited, though in a changed scenario. And the way the climax is handled – pure brilliance!

Acting: Ranveer and Sonakshi are good, the real ‘hero’ of the movie is the direction, though.

Music and Lyrics: Amit Trivedi does make it a tad too exciting in places, but overall, is brilliant. The movie has no “songs”, only background score. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there is a beautiful line, so delicately woven in the storyline, that you will go WOW!!.

Mujhe chhod do, mere haal pe
Zinda hoon main, kaafi hai…

Overall: The movie progresses at a very very slow pace. So slow, you can go for a tea break and you wouldn’t have missed anything even if you decided to have some samosas along with it. But then, that is where the brilliance lies! Each scene has so many details, so intricate that you will realise their presence only after you exit the theatre. This movie will linger with you – you will either hate it for the slow pace, or love it for the direction and cinematography.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The three mistakes of my first trip abroad...

Apologies for the long time that is going to be taken to read this longish note but trust me it will be far shorter than if you were to get involved with the "Partner care executives" at Airtel

This March, I finally decided to get my passport stamped. Airtel, my hitherto favourite service company in India, I decided, would be my "telecom partner" for the epic journey (My first mistake!)...

Early March, I decided to visit the Airtel Relationship Centre to activate international roaming on my post-paid number. I was told to come 2-3 days before my departure. Seemed strange but I did. I was asked to deposit Rs.3000 for activation. I did. Surprisingly, they discovered later that the activation required a new sim and they didn't have a new sim for my series of numbers. Of course, they didn't bother returning my 3000.

I took a pre-paid sim and activated international roaming on the same. To reduce the charges abroad, I decided to take the 1299 plan (my second mistake). Now this was the 24th of March. There was no way I could test the activation and hence travelled to HK.

Imagine my surprise (or shock), when on landing I find out that I'm not able to make any call! I was travelling separate from my family and reaching out was essential. Alone in a foreign land, with no way to reach out to my folks, I admit, I did have a few beads of sweat on my forehead. Thankfully, my phone rang and at the other end was my dad. I was relieved (for a short while). Soon, my phone went silent for a long while. I travelled to Macau and somehow managed to reach my folks in the largest Sheraton of the world!

I tried calling myself a few more times on my return to HK (using my dad's phone) but my phone didn't ring. Essentially, the 1299 pack had not been activated on my phone...! So on my returm I thought of reporting the same to the customer care and lodge a complaint for the same (Why do I keep making these novice mistakes - my third).

Below is the journal of my complaint and how its going. I shall keep editing as it progresses..
First call on April 2nd, 2013
Airtel Ref No: COGCI20402076575 - on a chat with Kanit, the following facts were established:

  1. 1299 Recharge on 24/3 - 30 incoming/outgoing free
  2. Outgoing Not happening
  3. Incoming 5 calls
  4. CSL Network selection - OK
Call 28 minutes: Rs.5 2/4/2013 0800 Hrs
Call 2 minutes: Rs.0.50 0845 Hrs
Call 7 minutes: Rs.1.50 0850 Hrs - Call cut after being put on hold!
Call not being taken after 5 attempts - the last successful call was cut while transferring to a partner care executive!
Dialled from another number - 8294639940 and requested call back.
Jitendra Kumar called from 9661096610 - 5/4/2013 ~14:00 hrs -
He first denied having detailed information about my complaint citing incomplete receipt of information regarding my complaint.
Then when I gave him the complaint reference number, he read the mail with me. Surprise surprise - he had the complete email!!
Then he says there are no records of 1299 pack and recharge done by me. Unfortunately, he didn't realise that he was dealing with a guy who had the compelte records on mail.
Then I gave him the detailed time of recharge - he accepted there was a recharge and put me on hold.
Then he says there was some issue at the "client side" and that Airtel would get back to me within a day.
Talked to Lalit Kumar: Jitendra Kumar's Senior - Given a new reference NUmber: CBNRA30405319516
Get an e-mail reimbursing Rs.100 to my account!!! I ask them not to reimburse charity amounts to my phone!
Anurag: 6/4/2013 ~12:50 Hrs Transferred to senior - Raja
Nodal Officer: 9934334865. Mr. Rizwan Ansari
Call from Deep 6/4/2013 ~15:35hrs - Postponed date to 8/4/2013 09:44 hrs. Reports no transaction of 1299 - CONRC3040642363100
I post my concern on the Airtel India FB page.
8/4/2013 ~11:13 Saurav (Gurgaon Office - 9717894448): Confirmed that the recharge of 1299 has happened on my number - Needs a day to check and get back.
11/4/2013 ~11:38 Extremely rude call.
  1. He denied me having made the transaction for Rs.1299 while the completed transaction has been established multiple times - Once by Saurav (on the 8th of April) and once even by the nodal office.
  2. When I mentioned that I had already sent the bank detail and the confirmation of the transaction, he again denied me having made any transaction!
  3. When I asked him to transfer the call to a senior executive, he refused to, saying "Humaara Senior department nahi hai"..!!
  4. When I asked him who do I contact, he said he'll connect me to a senior department!!
  5. When I questioned him why I was lied to and demanded to know his name - I was told, (verbatim) "Achha sir, main aapki call senior ko connect nahi kar raha hoon" like it was a threat! And then the call was extremely rudely disconnected.
12/4/2013 ~14:01 Call from Poonam - Delhi Office - Asked for bank statement till today - to forward the same for reversal
I sent the same. Twice.
14/4/2013 ~10:21 Tapesh Kumar
ICICI recharge 1299 25/3/2013 not 24/3/2013 but claimed 1299 no recharge
Rana Pratap senior official 10:40 14/4/2013 Confirmed recharge. Took a 24 hr deadline
Missed call 15/4/2013 ~08:50 hrs. I Wrote back asking for a direct number or call back. They sent an SMS saying the complant was resolved because I was not reachable!
When I tried calling back, as usual, my number has probably been black-listed and hence the customer care doesn't receive my calls.
17/4/2013 ~12:27 Ankit from the Nodal Office
Internal Airtel Network slow. Hence information detail not accessible. Will call back within two hours. If not, call Nodal Office and arrange for callback from Ankit Talan.
23/4/2013 Received a mail saying there was no erroneous deduction. Wrote back saying it was more an issue of "service not received" than "wrong deduction". This mail was sent by the Andhra Appellate!
29/4/2013 ~11:05 Ankit from the Nodal Office
Internal Airtel Network slow. Hence information detail not accessible. Will call back within two hours.
Called later saying this issue is in the "mail department" and since I called, this issue cant be resolved on phone. Ankit Talan called back in the evening and handed over to Maya.

Maya, while courteous, was highly impatient trying to settle me off with mathematics that didn't sum up. So the cost of SMS went from Rs.250 to Rs.100 to Rs.25 depending on how you wanted to adjust for it mathematically.
Then she told me I had received an incoming call at 12:45 in Macau - when in fact I was in HK waiting for the the ferry till 2pm (Makemytrip can confirm the same if required)! So apparently, I was charged Rs.100 for the same. I asked even if we assume that I was charged for the Macau incoming call, why wasn't I able to dial any numbers! Why wasn't I able to receive any calls when I was back in HK?
She had no answers and went to check on the website. Apparently she couldn't find the 1299 plan online (yes they have changed the plan now - but but but.. I have the screenshot of the plan stored)!

Without letting me speak, she just kept repeating that she had checked! When I asked for the mathematics to work out, she didn't have an answer (don't blame her, she was well past her office timings - god forbid if she's unsafe because of a late night auto ride). She even offered to restore my services if I hadn't received them. So essentially, as I paraphrased for her, she was asking me to go to HK again to get the benefit of the Rs.1299 pack. She did realise her mistake and said she'd call me the next day.
So this is the status till today. apart from the 1299 that I didn't receive the benefit for, I must've already spent more than Rs.100 on calling the nodal office (the calls are not free, u see). I've decided to take this case to the end - lets see how Airtel copes up with a guy who likes to maintain all records and is willing to go the distance.

Update:1 07/05/2013 Finally Airtel convinced me to spend another Rs.50 in getting the itemised bill as I couldn't prove anything otherwise. I did. To my shock, I've been charged for calling my own number!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Budget 2013: Tax on Super Rich

Dear Hon. FinMin Mr. PC,

You are indeed the wily statesman - I noted this is how you introduced the tax on super rich: There are 42,800 persons - let me repeat, only 42,800 persons - who ADMITTED to a taxable income exceeding Rs.1 crore per year.

I'm sure you would be well aware and, might I hypothesize, quite interested in statistics. Here's one: There are 156 MPs (i.e. 29% of Lok Sabha) "who ADMITTED to a taxable income exceeding Rs.1 crore per year"... Compare this with 33ppm (parts per million :P) crorepatis amongst the rest of the population in India....

Does this call for a tax surcharge on the MPs?? Mr PC, Charity indeed begins at home :P The next time you think of the statement, "When I need to raise resources, who can I go to?" Look to your Left, then your Right - and then definitely at the Centre - and you shall have all your answers :)

Yours Sincerely,
A Tax-Payer :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Extra-judicial comments on a matter sub judice

Isn’t it strange (or is it political?) that a former judge of the Supreme Court of India has nothing but extra-judicial opinions to offer against a Chief Minister of a state of India!

I recently read his tirade against NaMo in the Hindu. Initially, I thought I’d rubbish off the article as it was published in a leftist newspaper, the views of which I do not share (quite often). But the fact that he compared NaMo to the Nazis was a little too much for me to handle.

I might agree with him that the Chief Minister of the state cannot feign ignorance when the state is burning. NaMo might not have had any active hand in the riots that followed the Godhra massacre of a coach of travelers (allegedly Hindu karsevaks). But that doesn’t absolve him of his responsibility as the Chief Minister. A railway minister is asked to resign if a rail meets an accident. Here was a case of a complete state under riot, the Chief Minister must be held accountable. Agreed.

But then, that is where he goes too far… While the event might have some parallels with Kristallnacht, the leaders at helm cannot be compared. At the point, had NaMo actually been like Hitler, he would have had the power to exterminate every single non-Hindu in the state! And when 3 decades later, the perpetrators of the ‘84 riots are roaming free, it would be a understatement to say that NaMo would have been far safer! Make no mistake, the cases of Zakia and many others are indeed reprehensible. However, that the Supreme Court found no ‘direct involvement’ of NaMo should be respected. As a formed judge, Justice Katju, of all people, should realize and respect the verdict of the Honorable Supreme Court of India. His extra-judicial comments are unsolicited and definitely not appreciated – especially when, as he himself says, the matter is sub judice.

It is indeed scary that at one point in time, this very man – who believes more in his “At least I find this impossible to believe” than the proofs – was deciding cases, many of which might have been of national importance!! He admonished the Government of Orissa for being unable to prevent persecution of the minorities (Christians) in 2009. Guess the judge in him continues to preside over cases even when he’s been retired from the post – quite possibly, for good.