December 14, 2011

Inventions S1E04: The Spelling Bee Trick

You’re walking on the road minding your own business when someone stops and says, “Hey, how are you? Remember me?” 

The person looks mildly familiar but you can’t really assign a name to that face. You don’t want to sound rude in the middle of the road, so you reply enthusiastically, “Of course! How are you? It has been so long!” and go ahead with the conversation hoping to pick up enough hints on the way to identify the friendly stranger. 

This heuristic strategy works well in the average case. You can narrow your options down depending on what kind of questions he asks. If the conversation is circled around your high school, hometown and other things, you can safely assume that he was a childhood friend. Then you throw in a strategic question related to siblings or his parents for more hints until you can make an intelligent guess. 

That is the average case. Sometimes it may happen that even at the end of your small talk, you still have no idea who the other person is. And it is time to exchange phone numbers! That guy enthusiastically tells his mobile number and asks you to give a missed call to his number. You typed down his number in your phone and now you have to type a name. But you don't know the name!

You can’t just type “that dude with long hair” (I have names like that in my phone book) for later reference because he is looking right into your phone, waiting for you to enter his name and then give him a missed call. 

*Awkwardness begins* You started with the good intention of not being rude but now you’re on the verge of looking like an asshole! This is when The Spelling Bee Trick can come to your rescue. 

The Spelling Bee Trick involves two simple steps:

  1. Keep your best “sincerely confused” face 
  2. Ask him, “So how do you spell your name?
It's a good move to make generally. But heuristic techniques always come with caveats. If he turns out to be a Naimish or a Twishmay, you’re safe because he would be used to people asking him how he spells his name and wouldn’t suspect anything foul. 

But such names are sadly rare, there is a good chance that the conversation may end up like this:

I suggest readers to stick to “What is your full name?” instead of “How do you spell your name?” That way you can get away saying “There are a couple of other Rajas in my contact list and I don’t want to be confused.

You're Welcome! 

P.S: Additional Reading -- My First Invention: Leadership by Ineptitude

December 10, 2011

Inventions S1E03: The Great Nation of Gultisthan!

Friends, Gultis and Countrymen,

I have had enough of these demands for a separate Telangana, a separate Rayalaseema, a separate Sreekakulam etc. I cannot stand to see my gult brothers fighting amongst themselves dividing our motherland using anything other than caste.

It is time to think big. Great leaders sometimes have to take harsh decisions. Here is mine. Pro-Telangana people, I have decided to expel you from our state. You can have your Telangana. Just take it and go. You can even go ahead, take Northern Karnataka and Vidharbha too and form a “Brotherhood of fucked up provinces under the erstwhile Nizam” for all I care but let me be very clear about this. You did not fight and “win” your separate state. You got it because we gave it!

Fellow gults, do not worry about the loss of Telangana. Consider them as the prodigal brother who will come back to us once he realizes how difficult life is. In the meantime, let us continue thinking big. 

Remember Madras Presidency? Boy those were the days when there were no autos in Chennai, Chennai was Madras and everyone in Madras spoke Telugu! We should aim for that kind of domination instead of wasting time fighting these petty bifurcating and trifurcating battles. Yes gults, it is time we fight for The Great Nation of Gultisthan! Spelt with an ‘h’! (Dear every country from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, I’m sorry to tell you but you don’t know how to spell your countries. Love, Gultisthan.)


With the expulsion of Telangana, we have to let go of Hyderabad. We’ll need a new capital. Let’s take Chennai back!

Historically, we built the city together and then they (the Tamils) took over and named everything after Anna! It is time for us to reclaim Madras. Let us revive the “Madras Manade” movement. (Remember the M&M Revolution™©®?) Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Madras Manade 
In 1953, Telugu speakers of Madras Presidency wanted Madras as the capital of Andhra state including the famous slogan Madras Manade (Madras is ours) before Tirupati was included in AP. Madras, at that time was an indivisible mixture of Tamil and Telugu cultures. It was difficult to determine who should possess it. 
Panagal Raja, Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency in the early 1920s said that the Cooum River should be kept as a boundary, giving the northern portion to the Andhras and the southern portion to the Tamils. In 1928, Sir C. Sankaran Nair sent a report to the Central Council discussing why Madras does not belong to the Tamils. Historically and geographically it was a part of the Andhra region. It was Damerla Venkatadri Nayakudu of Recherla Velama caste was provincial governor in 1639 from whom the English sought to take permission to set up a factory. 
The increasing political dominance of the Tamils from early 1920s at both Central and State level politics caused Madras to remain in the Tamil region. According to the JPC report (Jawahar Lal Nehru, Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya, C. Rajagopalachari) Telugu people should leave Madras for Tamils if they want a new state.
And that is how they took our Madras away. It is time to win Madras back and change the name to Medrasu because how is that we roll.

We will also lose considerable amount of land after expelling Telangana. My plan is to take a part of Karnataka to make up for it. Besides we can use some Iron Ore and Bangalore!

The Great Nation of Gultisthan
Oriya people may want to join us. They have a lot of cultural relations and natural resources but with the poverty and Maoist problems, they come with a lot of extra baggage. We’ll take a decision about the fate of Oriya people at a later date.


With the annexure of Medrasu (formerly: Chennai, formerly-formerly: Madras) and Bengaluru, we’ll have a naval base, a strategic port, the whole IT sector, two IPL teams, R. Ashwin and Deepika Padukone. So our economy is in safe hands.

The Revolution

The process of annexing these territories has already started. Bellary, Tumkur and Raichur are already ruled by gults for all practical purposes. Our soft power tactics are working wonderfully in and around Bangalore where the cultural domination is quite mature too. Gultis are being arrested almost everyday for scams in Karnataka. If that is not domination, I ask you, what is?

More than 25% of Bangalore speaks Telugu. There are an estimated 1.35 crore Telugu speakers in Karnataka, so it is only fair we have some of their land too! People of Karnataka might get a little upset about this but they are nice people. I am sure they will understand and look at this as an opportunity to bring Mysore back to its past glory.

While the Tams are busy making fun of their brahms, trying to answer age old philosophical questions like “Why this kolaveri di?”, and giving war hero like welcomes to their politicians returning from the conquest of Tihar, our people are infiltrating their territory by the thousands to take Madras from the inside.

Tamil People, do you guys seriously believe that all those gult engineering students on Mahabalipuram Road are there to study engineering? Do you have any idea how many engineering colleges we have? They are the future #OccupyMadras protesters.

Mark my words people, mark them well. The process has already started. The clock is ticking. Fates are changing. The wheels are in motion. History is being rewritten. Things are happening as we speak. The revolution is just a matter of time. Gult Greatness shall soon be realized. 

Gultisthan Zindabad!

December 9, 2011

Inventions S1E02: Facebook Tourists

Like I said, I am going to invent new words and phrases all week!

Facebook Tourist: Definition

You’re on the beach on a beautiful sunny day. The air is cool and the sun is warm. Gentle waves are crashing against the cliffs on the horizon while the seagulls are playfully flying around in circles. Walking along the beach, the bright sun is just hot enough to cover you in an invisible blanket of warmth. The big beautiful ocean invites you to take a swim in the crystal waters with each wave. 

As you walk barefooted through the warm golden sand, the gentle waves kiss your feet harmonically while tiny shiny sea shells tickle you randomly. You instinctively spread your arms and take a deep breath and for the first time in years, feel one with nature. And then your friend says, “Mama, tu idhar ek photu nikaal re. Facebook pe ye chadayetho… likes pe likes udaayenge bolroon mein!

We are all Facebook Tourists at some level or the other. Nothing inherently wrong with that! But a real Facebook Tourist takes it up to an entirely different level. For a true Facebook Tourist, beauty, history or significance of the place are irrelevant for most part. Whether they are on a Himalayan peak staring into the curvature of the Earth’s horizon or on top of the Eiffel Tower sipping champagne at sunset, at a serene temple in South India or in the gas chamber at the holocaust museum, the only thought that goes in their head is “If I give Titanic pose here, will it look cool aa?” 

A special mention here goes to people who upload pictures of them while they are eating. Enough has been said about them all over the internet. I am just mentioning them here to tell them that they belong in this category! 

How to Spot a Facebook Tourist?

It is not really difficult to spot a Facebook Tourist. I am sure many of your friends are Facebook Tourists themselves. So I’ll leave you with a partial list.

  • They typically have 242 profile pictures with the same expression but different backgrounds 
  • They feel that their trip is wasted if the photos don’t come out well 
  • They prefer recording Diwali celebrations with a handycam instead of actually celebrating Diwali
  • The only reason they visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa is to pose on the grass nearby trying to make the monument look like an erection! 
Home Work: Look through your Facebook News Feed to identify more characteristics of Facebook Tourists. Share them with the world (preferably in the comments or on the Facebook page)

P.S: SMBC pretty much nailed this thing long long back!

P.P.S: You may want to check out Episode 1 of this series here Inventions S1E01

December 7, 2011

Inventions S1E01: 2bit Toss and The Great Indian Note Trick

I have a feeling that there are not enough phrases in English to deal with the complexity of the world we live in. Especially when you're forced to be concise (on Twitter especially). I have decided to invent a few new phrases for the benefit of humanity and this part of my "making the world a better place in your own way" thing. I think this is the good time to remind you that I have not started my GRE preparation yet ;)

2bit Toss

Pingalaka, Sanjivaka, Karataka and Damanaka want to buy a tub of ice cream and eat. All of them had a different flavor in mind and were not able to arrive at a consensus. Now if there were only two, then they could have just tossed a coin to decide in a fair and simple way.

With four people, they have to do two rounds of tossing – two semi-finals and a final which means the coin should be tossed thrice. But life is too short for tossing a coin three times. To solve this problem they need to 2bit toss!

Let me introduce you to the 2bit toss. You toss the coin twice. (Yes, life is just long enough to toss the coin twice!) Heads is 1, Tails is 0. So the outcome of the two tosses is a 2 bit binary number i.e. one of 00, 01, 10 or 11. The four parties in question choose one of 00, 01, 10 and 11 before the toss and whoever wins gets to pick the ice cream flavor.

Problem Solved. 

P.S: It is generally advisable to refrain from 2bit tossing (or any n-bit toss for that matter) if your romantic interest is in the vicinity.

P.P.S: Now if the four Panchatantra characters in question cannot agree on how to assign the four binary digits among themselves, we'll give them a small lecture on elementary probability.

The Great Indian Note Trick

You’re going out with friends and the only money you have on you is a 500 rupee note. (Wonderful feeling isn't it?) You get into an auto to go to the local station. The meter reads 28 bucks. You are the first to get down, pull out your wallet and give your crisp new note. The auto driver naturally replies, “No change”

The fun part begins now. Immediately (almost instinctively) you start searching. You search everywhere. You search your shirt pockets. You search your back pockets. You search your side pockets. You even search that small pocket just above the side pocket of your jeans! And then you move on to your wallet. And you go on until you sweep all the small insignificant corners looking for some loose change. And you do all this searching while being perfectly aware of the fact that you don’t have even one rupee on you (other than the 500 rupee note). You are pretty sure you wont find anything from the moment you got into the auto. Not even some loose change! And yet you do it.

It shows in the way you search too. You don't search search. You know what I mean? All you do is feel your hands over your pockets from the outside! When was the last time you found something you were looking for just by feeling the outside of the pocket? And while you're searching, you look at your friends waiting for one of them to pay the auto guy. By this time, your friends are also sort of doing the same thing (but only more subtly). And this goes on until one of the friends gives up and pays the cash. And then you move on to the pani puri guy for a repeat performance! 

That little show we all put on from time to time is called The Great Indian Note Trick. A normal GINT lasts for about two days but professional GINT practitioners can drag it up to a month!

P.S: The GINT bit can work as a nice stand up routine don't you think? 

November 9, 2011

The Train Travelers guide to the Journey

Hey folks, as a lot of you may know. I used to write for The NRI but for almost no reason stopped contributing. Well, I am back again.

click on image to proceed to the article

Incidentally, I wrote most of this post while traveling in sleeper class after the lights were turned off at 7:30 in the evening!

October 25, 2011

The State of Affairs

James Bond in Live and Let Die
Super villains of the good old times always tried to kill the awesome hero (and heroine) by tying him up to a pole and dramatically lowering him in slow motion into a shark tank with some extra piranhas. While the hero's dramatic descent into certain death happens, the super villain explains his super evil plan which is usually launching/procuring some new kind of weapon system (while the heroine screams) and the evil speech ends with, "And the world shall be mine! Muhuhhaa muhuhaha... "

The story as usual ends with the defeated super villain swearing revenge (for a sequel) and the as-awesome-as-ever hero riding/walking/driving into the sunset (with the heroine in his arms) while the sharks are left hungry (No one cares for the sharks) and the world -- saved once again! 

Sketch by Jason Casey
Look at the really bad ass villains these days. Hannibal Lecter, The Joker... have you noticed that the super bad-ass villains of today don’t want to rule the world? Isn’t that slightly disturbing? Right now, the planet is so screwed up that even the super villains have given up their global ambitions of taking over it and have resorted to becoming psychos who kill women and children just for the fun of it! 

The funny thing is, the lack of ambitions among super villains reflects poorly on the super heroes! While the awesome hero of the good old times often saved the world from nuclear holocaust/“communism”/descent into anarchy, all that the super hero of today does is bring things back to normal. Maintain status quo! 

And status quo is a world with super power countries waging imperial wars to control oil and other natural resources so that the evil corporations and greedy corporations can continue to draw lavish paychecks while destroying the world economy. How lame is that?

September 17, 2011

Small Victories of the Lone Mosquiteer

The lone Mosquiteer

If it is one of those days you think your life is meaningless, swatting mosquitoes is a wonderful way to reassure yourself of your place in the food chain. (Although, I would argue that mosquitoes ought to be above us in the food chain because they drink our blood and not the other way round)

It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that there are very few things in this world that give us the kind of satisfaction swatting a fat bloody mosquito gives. Now don’t cringe. Don’t say “Eww!” as if you've never done it. I know you killed mosquitoes and I know exactly how you felt after that. Yes, I am talking about that short adrenaline pumped euphoric high you get as you see the body of a dying mosquito moving it’s legs slowly one last time before drowning in a pool of your own blood. I know how much you enjoy that okay, so let’s be honest for a second here!

See, now that's a kill!
Now that we’re on the same page. Have you ever tried to trap and kill a flying mosquito using just your thumb and index finger? Have you ever managed to pull that off? I did it, just once. Wow, a fat bloody mosquito killed using just the thumb and the index finger in a snap! The feeling was one of pure awesomeness. I was on top of the world. For 30 seconds, I felt like a ninja!

I eagerly looked around to see if anyone was fortunate enough to witness the amazing display of phalangeal athleticism. Unfortunately, there were none. Well there was this one guy who found it gross but don’t believe him, he turned his head late. So all he saw was the blood on my fingers. He missed the real deal. If you walked into the last scene of a Quentin Tarantino movie without any context, you would find it gross too wouldn’t you? It is exactly like that.

Smell the Coffee and other things

Now if you’re sad and you live in a more privileged place where there are no mosquitoes. Don’t worry. All you have to do is drop something on the floor and pick it up with your toes without bending down. That should make you feel like a frickin’ gymnast! (spoiler alert: for 30 seconds only)

Easy isn’t it? Like the cliche goes, happiness is all around you. All you have to do is look at the roses, bask in the sunshine and “smell the coffee”. Speaking of Coffee, have you ever tried to transfer coffee from one coffee mug to another? It’s one of the hardest things to do! The coffee tends to drip along the outer surface and spill. Imagining transferring it without even spilling a drop. Those are the kind of #wins I am talking about!

Have you, in recent times, written a full paragraph on a piece of paper that is bigger than a sticky note? I mean with with your hands using a pen in legible handwriting? Just imagine the clarity of thought required to do that! Especially in these days where we press one backspace for every three characters we type in MS Word and still we need spell check! If you have managed to do that, you have another #winner my friend. 

Here are a few more tried and tested ways for small victories... feel free to add your own too

Take a piece of paper. Crumple it and sink a glorious three pointer into the corner waste basket #win

The most common one of them all
You’re late to the railway station and the train is also late #win

You’re late to the office and no one notices #win (or #fail depending on  how long you have been around)

You honk at a girl and she looks at you #win

You convinced a friend to buy dorky sunglasses by putting on a global warming argument #MediumSizedWin

The auto guy agrees to come by meter fare (not applicable for people living in Bombay)

The auto has a meter (for people in Chennai)

The number of birthday wishes you received is greater than the number of wishes you gave (note: Facebook wishes don’t count)

You get lower berth and no uncle requests you to exchange it for an upper berth because aunty can’t climb 

Guessed the right direction while driving in a strange place... just by looking at the north star

You manage to buy a tatkal train ticket online! (This is actually a #bigwin)

(edit: added from comments) "I once managed to score 52 runs in 2 overs in a 10 X 10 meters cricket ground playing with my 8 year old nephew and his friends in tiny shorts and vests. They sidelined Sachin and honored me by calling their favorite batsman #MyGreatestWin" -- Sourav Roy

(edit: Also Keerti had some to add)
Putting a thread through the eye of a needle

Taking your car/scooter from a cramped parking space (big winner feeling)

Sleeping through a Balakrishna movie (it would be so difficult with all the yelling and the shouting) = #SmallWin. Managing to stay awake through it is #BigWin

If someone is planning to commit suicide and they call you before doing so... share this with them. If they still end up killing themselves, you have only yourself to blame.

September 5, 2011

Jihadi Chess

Chess has been around for like forever. The earliest form of Chess that resembles modern Chess was found during the Gupta period. Like most things in history, the Persians picked it up from us, then the Moors kicked some Persian ass and learned Chess from them. The Moors then kicked the Spaniards and taught them Chess. And like that it spread across all civilizations.

The Sanskrit word for Chess “Chaturanga” represents the four major divisions of the ancient and medieval armies -- Elephants, Chariots, Horsemen and Foot Soldiers. The problem with Chess is, our armies are nothing like that. We have come a long way from slaying people with a sword while riding on a horse. That time has passed.

Most big Armies today along with the Navy and the Air Force are ready and capable to fight a two ocean war with a major power. But which two major countries are on the brink of a two ocean war? Iceland and Ivory Coast? That time has passed too. It’s over. The mechanism for world domination has changed and with that, the nature of war too. 

The war of the future is terrorism. It is and it will be a small group of dissidents who, perhaps, unbeknownst to their own governments plot to bomb public places, kill innocent civilians and hurt the country’s economy to make a political point. As an Indian whose ancestors have invented the game of Chess, I feel it is my duty to post modernize the beautiful intellectual game to reflect the current war scenario.

Highlights from a few games...

Over the last two months, I have managed to convince three or four people (it's really hard) to play a few games of Jihadi Chess with me and I have seen some interesting variations in strategy. The beginning of the game was quite normal. The fun begins when a player loses the queen. 

On most occasions, the players who lost the queen tended to use the rooks quite recklessly (may be because of the eagerness to wage Jihad) and players who still had the queen tended to become a little paranoid and often went on killing pawns  as if they were cockroaches meant to be squashed with a high heeled shoe putting more important pieces at great risk in the process. There was also one instant where a player sacrificed his rook just to prevent the other player from waging Jihad. 

One obvious rule not explicitly written down is that blowing up the pawn should not result in a check for the Jihadi side. This is not that easy to pull off especially after your King has seen some action. The most interesting development in this format is that the winning player is forced to think twice about getting his pieces forward during the endgame which turned out to be a huge advantage for the losing side. (which is good for me since I usually am on the losing side!) 

If you have nothing to do (which is evident from the fact that you're reading this) and if you have Chess board, I urge you to try Jihadi Chess. If you do, do not forget to leave some highlights/insights on this version so that we can make it better. Also if anyone is interested in collaborating with me to make a simple flash application so that people can play online, mail me at this address and we'll try to build something :)

Whatever you do, do not write off Jihadi Chess like you have written off 300 Chess!

Image taken from 

June 7, 2011

People and their phones

The age of the mobile phone being a convenience is over. They are now part of our bodies. I am not saying we’re all cyborgs who are useless without our electronic prosthetics. No, Not yet. But we’ll eventually get there. If you’re thinking that my prediction is ridiculous, then explain why society expects you to carry your phone everywhere you go and answer it every time it rings irrespective of where you are or what time of the day it is?

Tool or Not Tool

I use my phone like I use my iron box. I tend to leave it in my room unless I am absolutely sure that I’d need it. For me it is just a tool – more useful than an iron box but ultimately, just a tool. Apparently, this point of view is against social convention. That is the reason I, as a human being, am constantly yelled at for not answering the phone.

The reasons why I don’t answer phone calls are usually deep. It’s not like I don’t want to talk to you. It’s more like I want to talk to you but only when I really miss you. And people don’t respect that sentiment!

It sounds lame because it is the truth! Do you really think if I wanted to lie to you, I’d come up with a story that involves putting the phone in a corner and forgetting about it? Don't insult my intelligence!

Besides, this is not a big deal. All my friends have figured out their own ways to reach me. Some people send me text messages that usually read, “Pick up the phone!” or “call me back”. Closer friends send more aggressive texts like, “call me back you idiot!” or “what is wrong with you?” Friends in IIT usually contact me either by calling other people in my hostel or sending foot messengers (juniors) if it the matter is urgent!

People who Call Me

Forgetting the phone in silent mode happens only when I attend a class which in itself is quite rare. Sometimes I don’t answer the phone because I am in the middle of doing something. Like listening to a guitar solo or a deep interesting thought. But in situations like these, I do call back promptly within ten minutes. Even then, the first thing that people ask me is, “Why didn't you answer when I called?” or “What were you doing?

If I tell them that I was thinking deeply and did not want a phone call to disturb my train of thoughts, they take it real personal, accuse me of giving lame excuses and may even conclude in private that I am an obnoxious asshole!

Had I told them that I was in the middle of a useless meeting, it would have been a perfectly legitimate reason! It proves that humans sometimes prefer a bullshit lie to a lame truth. How come being in a pointless meeting is nobler than trying to improve my mind? These are the kind things I think about all day. These people make me think about those things. And then they complain that I don’t answer their calls! Now tell me whose fault is it really?

The Smarty-pants Phone People

Flicked this one from Flickr
I don't care much about my phone but there are people who consider their phone to be a physical part of their body. A part so private, that they just hate the idea of someone getting near it. Sometimes you casually go, “Hey nice phone” and try to take a look at it. They just go livid, “Whoa Dude… careful! That’s my phone! Did you just try to touch my phone? What the hell man! What is wrong with you?

What can we do? Some people are very touchy-touchy about their phones. Why shouldn’t they? After all cell phones – especially the ones that respond to touch – are very sensitive pieces of equipment. May be that is why they are always protected carefully in specially designed covers that hold them tightly in place while giving just enough breathing space to ring and vibrate!

The Bad Memory People

Then there are some who claim that they “cannot imagine life without a cell phone.” People with bad memory I would say because most of them were alive some ten years back when we all actually lived a life without being drenched in electromagnetic radiation emanating from our pants!

The Always-on-the-phone People

Image courtesy:
Of course we all have friends who are on the phone all the time. By all the time, I mean literally all the time. Eight to ten hours a day! The kind of people who remind me that George Bernard Shaw got it right when he said “youth is wasted on the young”!

Have you ever wondered what they talk about? Because if they’re on the phone for 10 hours a day, then it follows that they are not doing anything in life which implies that they’ll have nothing to talk about. But then they are still talking! And it baffled me.

Being a man of exceptional scientific temper, I did a little research (eavesdropping) on my own. It turns out their conversations usually involve describing what is happening around them. And it’s not like they’re in the middle of a war zone or a football match to have something interesting to say all the time! They give a live commentary of their lives as it happens. Except that they have no life! On the boring scale, it’s equivalent to describing the growth of a tree in real time!

The most disturbing experience in this area happened to me a couple of years back. I had this friend of mine who had this reliance to reliance unlimited calling with his girlfriend. I had some work with him. As usual, he was on the phone with her. I asked him if he had a few minutes. He nods at me and said, "Honey, stay on the line for 15 minutes, I have some work"

<-- additional reading

The non-stop-texting People

The only people who are worse than the always-on-the-phone people are the non-stop-texting people. I don’t even want to dignify their lives by making fun of them on my blog! People who are continuously tweeting their their facebook updates from their Blackberries deserve a special mention here.


Have you ever wondered who actually writes those chain SMSes that everyone keeps forwarding to everyone else every morning? I wonder if someone is actually paid to do that. As an unwilling recipient of a lot of chain SMSes from people whose numbers I never even cared to save, I speak on this subject with considerable authority.

Those 20 friends you have who spam your phone first thing in the morning with good morning messages don’t really care your morning! They don’t give a shit about what kind of a day you had. All they’re interested in is paisa vasool! You see, these people have “invested” 30 bucks in an SMS pack using which they can send up to 3000 messages in a month and they don’t want them to go waste! You are a mere cog in the wheel of cheapness that encompasses our whole society! How do you feel about that?

DeaR Frnds, eVerY mObiLe pHone uSr mUsT kNow aBt dis. sHaRe iT wd all ur fRnDs nd mK ds WrLd a BTtr Plce. guD Mrng B)

May 22, 2011

Phony friends and their Cell Phones

Cell phones have penetrated so much into our lives that we hardly notice how much of a pain the ass they are. Mind you I am not ranting about mobile phones or technology. Technology is good but can we say the same about our friends?

Chapter 1: The "Guess who?" Routine

After having endured a reasonably excruciating shopping session (all shopping is excruciating) with a friend at a mall, I treated myself with a little scoop of Gelato. So now I have the Gelato in my right hand and a reasonably heavy shopping bag in my left. I was halfway through the slurping when my phone started ringing.

My hands were full, it was quite noisy around and it was definitely not the best place or time to have a phone conversation. What else could I have done? For it is a call from an unknown num!

Why why why do people do that? Forget people, why would a dude do that? To another dude? I just cannot imagine a social situation where I would enjoy the guess-who routine from a guy! If the sole intention is to display what a cool guy you are, you may be losing some audience here!

How to deal with these kind of people:

Did someone just call you from an unknown number and say “guess who"? Don't worry.

If it is a guy, all you have to do is say something like this in a very angry tone, "You? Oh you son of a bitch! The nerve on you to call me like this! You said you’ll give me back my twenty thousand by last week. You never called back; you don’t even return my calls. WHAT THE HELL MAN? WHERE’S MY MONEY?"

Feel free to use expletives to bring the required effect. If you fake your rage carefully on the phone... the other person will get a little worried and confess, "Hey… you must be confused. It’s me Rakesh" after which you say something like, “Oh Rakesh? Sorry yaar I thought it was someone else. He sounds just like you. He is such an asshole! Never mind... How are you?..."

Problem solved and you can be pretty sure wont attempt that with anyone any time soon! If it’s a girl, it is easier. If a girl calls you and says, “Guess who?” all you have to do is start guessing… “Wait a second, I know this voice. You must be Shalini. No, not Shalini. Is it Priya?… Hey Priya! Umm… May be not. Is it Sagarika? No, it can't be. Sagarika's voice is a lot sexier. Ah! Now I’m know. You must be Divya. Or may be Pooja… yes either Divya or Pooja… Hi Divya or Pooja, what’s up? Long time huh?

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a gtoosphere guarantee that the next thing she utters will reveal her identity. You’re welcome!

Chapter 2: A perspective on time

Some people are not born with a sense of perspective for time. Let me give you an example. I called this school friend of mine with whom I haven’t spoken in 6 years. It was around 11:30 on a Saturday morning and the conversation went like this:

Isn’t it great to have a friend like that? A friend who is only concerned only about your immediate past? Thank you Sandhya for sharing all the useful information! If anyone asks me, "How’s Sandhya", I can now confidently answer, "Yes, she had awesome Sambar for breakfast sometime last month!"

How to deal with these kind of people:

Well you don’t have to. You haven’t talked to her in six years and you were doing fine all along. Why disturb the equilibrium?

Chapter 3: The Guess-Your-Mood Mode:

This usually happens in long distance relationships. If you’re in different time zones, it is even more screwed up. Imagine you are in the US and your girlfriend is in India. She had a nice day, a satisfying dinner, cuddles up in bed at 10 in the night whereas you in America are late to work, just spilled cereal on your shirt, took the wrong exit and are stuck in traffic. Then the phone rings and it’s your girl who happens to be in the mood for some chit chat. There’s your disaster waiting to happen.

Or it could be the other way round. You had a great weekend and are ready to hit the sack on Sunday night and you want to talk about the awesome beach trip you just came back from while your girlfriend is having a bad day at office on the Monday morning.

You have no way of knowing that she is having a bad day at office. You call her up and fill in all the details with a lot of enthusiasm while all there is on the other side is relative silence. Finally she breaks the silence and says something like, "Can’t you see from my silence that I am in a bad mood?"

How the hell can one "see" bad mood from silence? If the girlfriend in question is talking, may be it is possible to guess something from her voice but from silence? What is this pressure of having to guess the mood of the other person while talking on the phone? Well excuse me for being human who gets over 80% of sensory information visually from facial expression and body language! I’m really sorry. I cannot think a more romantic way to put it. My left ear cannot fill the void left by my two eyes that cannot see you!

How to deal with these kind of people:

You can’t. You’re screwed. I’m Sorry.

May 4, 2011

Babies, Kids and their Parents!

I was out one fine Sunday evening having dinner at Subway. There was this family at the next table having their Sunday dinner. I wondered what a family is doing at Subway because Subway is the sort of a place where bachelors go to eat when they are not in the mood to eat anything! Their choice, let’s not judge that. The Small family consisted of Mom, Dad and two kids – a baby and her five year old brother. Dad went to place the order; the five-year old was visibly excited; the Baby was crying and Mom did nothing to stop the crying!

For crying out loud!

First of all, why do babies cry? What are these babies crying about? They don’t have deadlines to meet. They don’t have financial problems or any relationship issues. In fact, their lives are so awesome that they don’t even have to move to poop and they’re still crying! They are living through what they would look back as the best period of their lives and still they cry all the time. Something is wrong with humans! You don’t see kittens crying do you?

I have come to accept that we can never completely do away with babies. But the parents – parents who board flights and trains with their babies; parents whose families cause mild-to-medium inconvenience to strangers like me; parents who take their babies to the movies or other places where I might be – they ought to be blamed.

Parents, we know you act all embarrassed, sport a guilty smile and wear an expression that says, “I have no idea why babies cry” but the thing is 90% of the time you are the reason the baby is crying. You take babies to dark loud claustrophobic movie halls and to bright noisy restaurants, to crowded trains and bumpy planes. You take babies to places they don’t belong to and then you wonder why they are crying. Your game is up – we know that you are the reason your baby is crying!

Mum's the tongue

Okay back to the story. The five year old brother of the crying baby was all excited about his meal. He was animatedly yelling instructions to his Dad on how he prefers his Sub knocking out a few things on the table in the process. Mom obviously irritated with his enthusiasm barks out simple instructions like “Chintu sit – Chintu no… Chintu don’t be a bad boy… CHINTU I SAID NO!” in a loud but hushed tone.

I don’t know how it is for you people but I find parents talking to their kids in English a little weird. Especially if the kid is 4 years old and the parent is not very comfortable in English! A conversation in English is totally fine but communicating with a four-year old involves barking a lot of mono-syllabic instructions and it always reminds me of puppies being trained! No offense but where I’m from, that’s the only time people use English! What can I do? I can’t change my past!

Finding it weird is my problem not the parents’ fault. But I don’t understand is why English is forced on little children as their first language – as their language of thought! I understand fluency in English is important but just because you work in a software company where you have to do the documentation in English doesn’t mean that your mother tongue has outlived its purpose! There is tons of inherent cultural knowledge your kids are missing because you are denying them their mother tongue. So young parents, you’re basically screwing it up for your kids in a big way!

Sanitize this!

Where were we? Yeah, Dad has now brought the sandwich along with some Lays chips and bottled water. Mom takes the hand sanitizer from her purse and instantly sanitizes everyone’s hands. Are washbasins “ssooo last century” now? What’s the logic in giving only tissues in a humid place like Bombay? We always end up leaving leave the place with sticky hands don't we?

I agree that as part of an “international chain” franchisees have to maintain some sort of consistency in the way the place looks but if stuffing paneer into a sandwich is allowed I don't see why putting a couple of washbasins is difficult. May be there is a bigger reason for the absence of washbasins. May be the only reason KFC is finger licking good is because they do not have enough washbasins!

Disclosure: I personally don’t have a problem with babies crying next to me in a train because it takes much more than a tiny baby with a shrill voice to disturb me from my sleep! After all I do have over 85000 hours of experience!

P.S: Have you seen lately?

May 1, 2011

My latest project -- Gultrage

For quite sometime now, (for reasons I shall elaborate in a series of posts sometime in the future) I have been mad at Telugu people and then came Tambrahmrage which opened a wonderful opportunity for me to use the rage meme as a cathartic tool and thus gultrage is born!

Yenjaay -- and remember, I am most serious when I am joking!  

April 14, 2011

Anna and the logic behind hunger strikes

As a kid, whenever I sat down to do my homework, it felt like I was doing someone a big favor. The only thing I ever got in return was for all the trouble was “no punishment”. Now what kind of an incentive is “no punishment”? I knew right away, that life isn’t fair but luckily I found a way around.

I realized saying things like “I won’t eat till I get a new pencil box to complete my math homework” or “I won’t eat unless you let me watch TV for half an hour” usually gets good returns. And it worked for the first few times. When I was eight years old, I started a similar hunger strike but my Mom shot back saying “Fine, sleep hungry and get punished at school tomorrow!” That was the moment I was convinced that "not-eating" is not a good strategy to get things done in the adult world! Clearly, I am not cut out for Indian politics!

Notes on Anna

Unlike a lot of young people in India, I did not get all worked up about my support for Anna Hazare’s successful fast-unto-death. By the time I found time to do some research and pick a side, it was all over...

I am absolutely convinced about Anna Hazare’s good intentions but a little disillusioned with the solutions he proposed. Let’s not delve into details. I can't help but notice that hunger strikes still remain the most potent weapon in Indian politics. It is probably the most important legacy of Gandhi after the hundreds of M.G Roads with potholes and tons of black money with his face printed on it!


A professional hunger-striker?

Why are hunger strikes considered to be peaceful? Isn’t it an insanely passive aggressive thing to do? You are threatening to kill yourself for heaven’s sake! By what stretch of imagination is threatening to kill a person peaceful? I agree it is better than threatening to kill other people but that makes it only “relatively peaceful” or put it in a better way “peaceful only when quoted out of context!” Why do we omit the relative part of it?

Although Anna’s fast was ‘Gandhian’ in every sense of the term and not even a window pane was broken as a consequence of his fast, it is not the case for most of the hunger strikes that happen. For most politicians it is just a wonderful way to get a lot of attention, re-energize their bases and pump some enthusiasm into their party workers and basically kick some political ass!

Hunger Strikes as a Choreographed Media Event

Hunger strikes (especially when politicians do it) are always accompanied by enforced bandhs. Enforced bandhs as we all know makes traffic worse. Plus, there is always a chance for sporadic violence and ‘stuff’ burning activities where stuff begins with an effigy and ends with a fresh fleet of Volvo buses! If you play it safe and stay at home, you have to live with the News anchors on TV going frenzy and blazing live visuals of ugly-looking politicians sitting under a tree and not eating while better looking Bollywood celebs voice their support to the cause!

We see at least one major league politician go on a hunger strike every two or three months. Isn’t it vaguely suspicious that politicians never die in one of these fast-unto-deaths? Isn’t there enough evidence to suggest that not eating will lead to death? I decided to do some research on hunger strikes and I have some interesting results.

An Illustrated History of Hunger Strikes

Given that hundreds of people have got themselves into fasts-unto-death and that not all of them are successful, one wonders why the over all number of deaths is surprisingly low at four!

Why are politicians not dying of hunger?

Whenever a politician goes on a fast – his colleagues and the media are instantly worried about his health. Just after a couple of days, the docs shift him to a hospital and “force” feed him intravenously. Now that’s cheating isn’t it?

The whole point of a fast is to degenerate the body slowly by denying all nutrition. By injecting glucose water (with all the essential proteins and vitamins) into the bloodstream, they’re not denying nutrition to the body. They’re just cutting out the middleman (i.e. the digestive system) from the nutrition cycle! Technically it’s just dieting!

You see, fasting is a relatively simple game. There is only one rule: “Do not eat!” but with the saline bottles and the injections, it has been reduced to “You may eat but not with your hands!” making it very easy to pull off political stunts with choreographed media coverage which sometimes may involve the channels flashing the hunger-striker’s blood pressure and blood glucose levels live on TV!

P.S: I have written most of this post way back in December and have been waiting for someone to go on an indefinite hunger-strike. What can I say, I am like that! 

April 6, 2011

World Cup Celebrations

The most popular format of the game

They (experts, critics, Siddhu etc.) said that this was the most crucial world cup ever because commercial success or failure of this world cup determines the future of the 50 over format. There was also a debate on the most popular format of cricket (Test cricket being the ultimate). Going by the way this world cup went, I am guessing these questions won’t be raised for some time to come.

In my first year at IIT, I have seen the “decline” of the ODI format beginning with the 2007 world cup. I also saw the rise of T20 with the inaugural T20 world cup. Misbah-ul-Haq scooped the last ball and once the camera zoomed into Sreesanth taking the catch, the hundred odd people in our hostel TV room started jumping, dancing, swirling shirts around yelling war cries along with other displays of genuine testosterone based badass-ery. The celebrations lasted for half an hour and then people ate dinner at the canteen and went back to their rooms.

A year later we were the number one ranked team in Tests. People read it in the newspapers, thought to themselves, “Oh, that’s cool” and moved on with their day. The really wild celebrations of the 2011 world cup that went out throughout the night and into the next Monday just showed that ODI is still the real deal and really matters to the crowds.

The Celebrations

Just after the presentation ceremony, hundreds of IITians marched out of their hostels, walking towards the main gate. Some wanted to go to Wankhede, while others yelled Marine Drive but no one knew where they were heading. They just walked (like lively Zombies) yelling “Indyaa, India” or “Sacheen, Sachin”. There wasn’t much difference between the two chants then. There was a general awareness that this is a once-in-a-generation thing. How often does one-sixth of the world’s population feel the same way at the same time?

Image courtesy: I don't know, I stole it from Google Buzz
Most of them walked out of the main gate towards Hiranandani. The atmosphere was amazing. For most people on the road, that was the first time India won the world cup after they were born. Fireworks lit the sky like it was Diwali. Down on the ground, people with painted faces stood on traffic islands, fountains, cars, trucks and everything ‘climb’able to wave flags, shirts and everything ‘wave’able. Sure there was a traffic jam but it was because the drivers got out of their cars and danced with the rest of the crowd!

Funny moment

There was this tall, huge probably drunk white guy who blocked the traffic by dancing shirtless in the middle of the road in front of a car waving his shirt and chanting “Sacheeeen, Sachin” while his expatriate friends looked amazed, worried and sort of embarrassed. The driver of the car instead of getting irritated with the unexpected roadblock simply waved his in hands Bhangra style in sync with the dancing! That sort of summed up the moment for me.

And so the revelry went on for more than an hour after which middle-aged policemen who probably behaved in the same way 28 years ago came to clear up the traffic. Thus the thousands returned back to their nests with the yelling and the chanting and the waving intact.

From our Vizag Bureau

The funniest world cup final story so far comes from a small middle class neighborhood in Vishakapatnam. After Sachin got out, a decent middle-aged gentleman got so pissed that he plugged the TV out of its place, ripped the wires clinging to it and threw the damn thing out from his second floor balcony. This fit of rage rendered his family not just speechless but also TV-less! An hour later, he realized that we were after all winning, so the family went to catch the rest of the match at their neighbor’s. I bet the neighbor spent some nervous moments after Kohli got out!

His wife, clearly shell shocked from her husband’s Neanderthal display, took the kids and ran away to her parents’ home the very next morning. We hear she is not keen on returning back till the gentleman sorts out his rage problem. Our sympathies lie with the middle aged gentleman. After all, “He did for Sachin” ;)

indibloggers vote for this post here -->

March 9, 2011

Project: Become Normal Again

An old school friend of mine came to Bombay and I spent the whole weekend catching up and talking about old times. It was a great relief spending time away from what I call the "usual intellectual nonsense" which includes reading dozens of articles on science, politics, humor, religion, philosophy etc. and follow it up by deep thought, connecting ideas, looking for patterns, gaining perspective, commenting, sharing and debating about things that has nothing to do with anything going on in my life. It is fun and satisfying. But I also realized how far I have gone from being "normal".

Thus Project: Become Normal Again was "incepted"! My first course of action was to get away from IIT and NOT spend time with IITians (especially my philosophically inclined friends) and try to "live in the moment".

Living in the moment is easy. All I had to do was not think much before speaking, not analyze the funny things that I spontaneously say, not observe those silly things people do, not make mental notes of life's little ironies as they happen, not scrutinize the little hypocrisies we all are part of, not read those hundreds of editorials on national politics and stay away from all the “usual intellectual nonsense” I am usually immersed in.

Living in the moment was simple and straightforward. I rediscovered that talking about what “people are up to” can be as interesting as trying to understand "why people do what they do!" Narration suddenly felt better than ideas. Counting how many girls in our school are already married was fun. Not using advanced statistical analysis methods for inferring generalizable insights into the career paths of young women from semi-urban areas was even more fun!

It was a weekend well spent. I wanted to finish it off attending a birthday party of another school friend. Most of the people at the party were her colleagues at TCS. I pondered if on an average day they have more fun on than I do by doing the simple things and living in the moment.

As the party progressed, I felt we lived in two completely different worlds. I wondered which world I really belonged to. I could feel the restless friction in my thought process. I began to appreciate the fact that everyone is capable of a different personality depending on the environment. I lamented that not everyone appreciates this amazing fact like I do.

I was in the middle of a rare intersection between two of my worlds. I was trying to define these worlds and capture the differences between them. I could see the little differences and the individual beauty of each world. I was amazed by the complexity that lied beneath this simplicity. I was now convinced of my near-invincible ability to switch between worlds and “live in the moment” at will.

Then it struck me – that I was not “living in the moment”; that I was no longer away from my “usual intellectual nonsense”; that I can never be away from “my usual intellectual nonsense”; that I am way past the point of no return. This has to be the ultimate FML.

P.S: Speaking of generalizable results, I think from this blog post we can safely infer that anyone who comes up with “Project: Become Normal Again” can never be normal! 

P.P.S: I really hope this wont affect the number of party invitations I get!

March 2, 2011

The Secret Celebrity Protocol for Constant Attention

With great power comes great responsibility” quipped Donald Duck. (name changed to protect identity) A celeb’s superpower is an insatiable thirst for attention. To convert that power into responsibility, the celeb must divert a little bit of attention towards some remotely irrelevant cause and hope to shine in the reflected glory of someone else’s agony! Barely a week into celeb-hood, the lack of constant attention is already driving me crazy because attention for celebrities is like sunlight for superman. I turn to my fellow celebs for some inspiration on how to get more attention for myself.

Keep it Simple (and) Stupid

The easiest way to get some attention is to say something really stupid and hope someone takes offense and criticizes me on twitter. Then I can go on the mainstream media, play victim and claim that the internet is a conspiracy of Internet Hindus whose goal is to transform India into an Orthodox Conservative Hindu Dharmocracy with Narendra Modi as the PM and Pramod Muthalik as President!

This strategy works well for Sagarika Ghose but unfortunately stupidity doesn’t really go with the whole “Computer Science @IIT Bombay” thing I’ve been pulling off for almost 5 years now. Also I am not married to the Chief Editor of any news channel!


Female celebs have it easy. All they have to do is attend some children’s charity event without proper underwear and oops! Male celebs however have to undergo a sex change operation before staging the wardrobe malfunction. I don’t think my mom would approve of this strategy!

Go Veggie

Wait, I’m already vegetarian, the kind that removes the chicken pieces before eating chicken biryani, but still technically vegetarian! I can go one step ahead and go vegan. But veganism is sort of a cliché already. Maybe I can take it up a notch and be something cooler than vegan, like a Jain-vegan!

Jains don’t eat anything that grows under the soil. Vegans don’t eat anything that comes out of anything that is capable of voluntary biological motion. Jain-vegan is what the kids get to eat when a Jain marries a Vegan! I really hope my invention catches up. 

A Jain-Vegan thali

Become a Reality TV Judge

If Siddhu can be a judge for a comedy show, I can be judge to anything! Judging someone with self-esteem so low that they’re ready to marry Rahul Mahajan just to appear on TV and then go to Rakhi ka insaaf to sort out their marital issues with the wife-beating-dope-head may not sound like fun but I look forward to insulting them!

The Grass is Greener on the Celeb side

Why bother about saving hungry orphans and dyslexic dolphins when I can save planet Earth? After all, being eco-friendly makes you feel good doesn’t it? Who knows, high self-esteem could be the trick to save the planet!

When it comes to being green, no one is greener than an A-list Hollywood celebrity. I have so much to learn from them. Julia Roberts lives in an “eco-friendly” $30 million mansion and she also does little things like composting and reusing Chanel reusable bags. Al Gore spends his summers in his $9 million yacht.

Leonardo DiCaprio uses an eco-friendly $3200 toilet! I have a feeling he was duped by the sales guy because the greenest way to defecate is to do it out in the open without using toilet paper! A mug of water can be used as long as the mug is biodegradable. The greenest of them all is adorable actress Rachel Bilson. She asks flowers for their permission before picking them♥

All these people inspire me to be greener than the statue of liberty. Global warming is a war against time, nature, evil corporations and cultural inertia. A noble and holy war to save M.E (Mother Earth)! The tag eco-friendly is way too lame to describe that emotion! We need something more powerful and heroic. What we need is a title like Planet Crusader!

Isn’t that the message we as celebs ought to give to our fans? Make them feel sad and insecure about the things we have and they don’t. Make them feel that they’re a burden to the planet while we’re a blessing. What better way to achieve that than demonstrate “To be really green, you need a lot of green”?

So there you have, my final Jain-Vegan, planet crusader, unpublished writer, amateur cartoonist, celebrity blogger mug-shot -------->

@IndiBloggers, you know that to do on IndiVine

February 21, 2011

I am now a celebrity!

I always felt I was celebrity material destined for greatness. I do have everything it takes to be one. I have "an attitude" if not "the attitude" for it. Also, I got clicked wearing huge black glasses  -->

The only thing that stood between me and eternal celeb-hood was an interview and now, thanks to Barnaby (who was nice enough to do *actual research* and then ask very *relevant* questions), I have that  too!

As you all know, It's Oscar season which means it is that  time of the year again where we celebs burst into well planned spontaneous acceptance speeches, here's mine:

"I want to thank my dad for constantly guiding me with his invaluable advice! I distinctly remember the day when I was 8 years old, he looked deep into my eyes and said, "kid, pay attention to what I am about to say for it is very important. No matter how good it smells, never eat shampoo!" and here I am today enjoying the fruits of those wise words..." *breaks into crocodile tears, takes out a white hand kerchief and blows nose like loud frog horn after being swept by a strong undercurrent of repressed emotions. Scarlett Johansson who is on stage at the time gives g2 a warm hug and accompanies him back stage. Soft music is played by a live orchestra in the background... fade*

Anyhoo, without much further ado, the interview -->

February 7, 2011

The Deported!


A bunch of Indian students are facing deportation because Tri Valley University in California was found to be a sham institute. Some of the students were even radio tagged which made folks in India mildly outraged about how the US treats it’s illegal immigrants. One can’t really help but feel sorry for the poor students who are being treated as criminals – their only crime? Dreaming for quality higher education! But wait, do they really deserve our sympathy?

Taking their chances

but you can have brahmi's
Before declaring my sympathy towards a person/group, I have to do some background checks. Of the 1500 odd students facing deportation, I am sure that some of the students already knew (or suspected) that the university was a sham but were desperate to go to the US so that they can look like they have achieved something in life. These students took a gamble that US authorities won’t catch them and it did not work out! Tough luck and welcome back, you don’t deserve my sympathies.

The Rest

It would be wrong to say that all the students were aware of the risks. Some of them  probably genuinely thought that Tri-Valley University is an awesome place of higher learning. I think I have enough evidence to call them naive and due to my strict “Never feel sorry for the stupid” policy, they get no sympathy either!

Here’s why I am calling them stupid:

The website

This is the screen shot of their website


That was all from the first look. Let’s go into the finer details now. Now what the hell is a Christian scientist?

Faith Statement

Tri-Valley University is a Christian Higher Education Institution centripetal in Trinity, centrifugal and radiating from Trinity, the Center, to encompass diverse spheres of academic study and learning.
A rather generic question

Why join?

If the number one reason to join their institute is a christian learning environment, may be we should check their accreditation. I'm just saying!


Now this is easily the funniest page of the website. I mean they have over 13 laptops and 5 desktops with both windows and linux! Who else has that many? Let me think... my hostel wing, an internet cafe in Rajahmundry, A primary school in West Bengal, the Engineering college in Stewartpuram, Pithapuram Railway station...


To be fair, TVU did mention in their website that they don't have all the required accreditation!


I am sure that all the students who have applied there must have visited their website at least once which means that all students there are either taking their chances or are genuinely stupid to fall for it. Either ways, they don't have my sympathies. Special thanks to for the inspiration for this post.

Indibloggers, vote for this on indivine here or else  ---------------------------->