Sunday, December 05, 2010

an attempt to fly

I strongly think that my financial status doesn't call for traveling within India using domestic flights. But yesterday I had to do that for personal reasons. I went to Bangalore and came back to Hyderabad by evening using air travel.

Ask anyone who knows me for even for one or two months, they will tell you in no diminishing terms, about my apalling dress sense. My family thinks I ought to be wearing more formals, where as my friends think, I do not look like a software engineer. In India, it translates to a dress code - bluetooth head-phone attached to one ear, jeans, tight t-shirt, an iPod hanging from the jeans pockets, a very posh looking watch, nice rebook shoes, and amazing deodorant smell, a nice laptop bag. Taxonomy would place these people under the genus - Charismo and species - technorica. The only difference between unmarried and married ones in this kind, is that married ones have some-what more visible paunch.

Like some guy poetically put it, I have all the vices and none of their virtues. I have a paunch and generally wear a loose t-shirt and cotton pants (comfortable, you see .. ), my laptop is eternally under repair and ipod now has video lectures on some or the other obscure comp.sci. topic. Some one stole my posh phone long time back and so my mobile is not something to write home about. You know what it's like. Not to bore you with my dressing habits and if you look at it, it's not just about dress sense. I lack the whatdoyoucallit,.... hahh .. character. Even though it's not my first flight, the situation I was in, more or less demanded class and so when there is a mismatch, you can expect unpleasantness.

For me it all started early in the morning in the cab to airport. Over the phone, the cab-wallah was all "I will wait for you, Sir. What time is the flight, Sir ?", surely with all the sense of feudal worship that is, in general, shown by him towards the overlords of flight-travel (here I'm talking about people of my age with more flight-character or people with money oozing out of their shirt buttons). I came down on time (5 am) to the cab for the fear of waiting-charges and immediately realized that it was the wrong thing to do. The guy was sleeping and when he got up, he drank me in with his eyes and I sensed the initial worshiping tone in his voice dropped to a formal reservedness when he asked me to get into the car in the back seat. It's almost like he said... "Ehh ... yyyoouu .. !! " He sluggishly opened the back-seat door for me. Again, as is my habit for any cab situation during sleeping hours, I left my bag in the back-seat and sat right next to him (determined to be wide-awake, just in case the driver is not), much to his amusement. In the meantime, as this was happening, very supportingly of course, my mother, wife and brother-in-law called in to check if I got up (lest I miss the flight) and if I had head-bath (I was going to a temple near Mysore). I assured them that it was so in my mother tounge telugu. This was another slip. He started off the cab and was as chatty as he would get with another cab-wallah. I noticed that at times, he almost restrained putting a hand over my shoulder as he shared some interesting current affair, all this in telugu. We talked about this and that during the 45 min journey. At the airport, I pulled out the exact change (like I do to auto-wallahs) and this time the look in his eye reduced to a mix of mere contempt and sympathy. I attempted to salvage the situation by providing him two extra 10-rupee notes, which he took happily but left that cold stare as I got down.

At the airport, of course, people are trained to keep their emotional reactions down while they speak to anyone holding a ticket. It's almost like they are afraid that the person would flash the ticket in their face, in case, they become less polite. So, it was all well, till the time an official came near me asking if I had paid the UDF charges for the airport. "Hah, yes, the ticket fair split up showed that I paid them already.", I replied triumphantly. He politely indicated to me that the charges increased by a 100 bucks more since the previous day, with that dude-dont-you-read-the-news look. So, with reluctance, I fished out a 100 rupee note and gave it at the UDF desk. The air-india check-in personnel smiled a 30A (terminal) to me as she handed over the boarding pass after doubly checking my identity in my passport. Do you know that these people put a good show ? Let me tell you. She knows upfront that given a chance I would like the window seat. May be I look like that guy. She asked me if I wanted a window seat. "I'd like that", I beamed at her naively. She pressed space and enter button twice and then alternated the sequence with a focused look on her face and told me that she was sorry as all window seats are taken. It doesn't take too long to realize that you have been hoodwinked as it didn't slip my keen observation that she's the only one in the air-india counter. May be you think I'm being paranoid. How do you explain, if the same thing happens during my evening flight as well with another airlines in Bangalore ? But that's that.

So here I was, waiting at my terminal, a singularity among many Charismo-technoricas. The air was polluted with combined fragrance that is emanating out of people's deodorants. When the time finally arrived for boarding, I got into the bus that will take us to the air-craft. My initial reaction on getting into the bus is to keep my bag in the corner and sit in a seat available. But I observed that, most of my fellow travelers, come in and keep their luggage on the metal platform provided and stand in the bus holding the railing on the top. The people who actually sat next to me are only about double my age. Aha. I got up promptly (taking cue) and tried to feel like one of them people standing. It didn't feel correct as this act put me right next to a very good looking girl and it seemed like I was being sleazy. I'm happily married and have a kid. And, I have the least intention to be sleazy. But who knows that ? Luckily for me another veteran occupied the seat I left and I was so relieved that he did. My neighbors in the flight were this college kid who was busy messaging someone, and this middle-aged couple across the aisle who were lip-locked for some reason (I know, what's happening to the world ?). I was hungry as I had a frugal dinner the previous night and got up early in the morning. The guy next to me and the couple declined the stewardess's offer for a snack, but I happily took it. It was some kind of veg-puff and bread, but that was god-sent at that time. It later occurred to me that I might have looked ravenous to my neighbours. But I think I don't care (placing me right out of their kind). Through out the flight, even as I was enjoying "Three Idiots" film on the in-flight entertainment unit, I was thinking about how may be I can be little spendthrift, just for once and I'd feel better about being one among my fragrant co-travelers. I decided to be lavish. I got down the flight waving a generous thank you to the stewardess near the door and attempted desperately to have an air of the dollar about me.

It was in this mood that I approached a certain "Akbar tours and travels" in the Bangalore airport. I asked the guy at the counter, if a taxi was available for taking me to Srirangapatna and back to Bangalore. After nodding an yes, he said that the charges would come to around ..... 3200Rs. What? This is outrageous. This is the amount I paid to get to Bangalore from Hyderabad. Controlling my emotions, I asked him if the cab will be available if I come after half-an-hour, as I had something to attend to. He said yes. So, I escaped the bandit. Walked out, took the airport shuttle to Bangalore. What do these people think ? They can walk all-over me ? Heh, I showed them that I'm not naive. Wait .. what happened to my determination for being a Charismo Technorati ? Ah .. somethings never change. It didn't take long for me in my bus towards Mysore to realize that I shouldn't try to belong there where I don't. My reverie was broken by the ticket-collector who asked me to hand him the ticket because he got the change he needed to give me. What a nice person, I thought, taking the 7 rupees from him. After arguing with the auto-wallah to my satisfaction, I headed to the temple. Again during my travel back in another bus to Bangalore after my temple visit, I was again broken from my deep thought by the ticket-man, who this time, asked me if I didn't want my lunch as the bus stopped only for 15 min, Sir. Then I started to realize that may be it is okay not to try and fit in the elite group.

Things got better as I just scraped through time to meet some of my good friends and the feeling of not-belonging somewhere was lost in the good half-an-hour I spent with them. As fate would have it, I was thrown back at this situation without much time to think again, during my return flight. I'm still thinking where do I fit in ? I'm sure my wife would much less share my dilemma if she reads this. What she can probably think of would be - why I didn't have proper dinner the other night and not to board air-india again.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

kerning pairs

You know how sometimes we hear a term and get pretty excited easily from the connotations. Here's what happened. Being part of an internal mailing list on security issues, I got this mail with the subject that reads something like "... blah.blah .. kerning pairs... dooodah ... multiple PFEs .... double free corruption .... " and I'm like ....
multiple PFEs ... PFE ... hmm Page File Entry ... this .. I know .. man .... awesome !!
double free corruption .. Super AWESOME ... double free corruption related to multiple Page file Entry ...
Kerning pairs ... well .. I don't know this .. but ... this must be something God-level as it is mentioned in conjunction with page file entry and double free ... and now there is the word 'kerning' which sounds like kernel .. ...... If I know this stuff, I can casually bounce it on an unassuming friend at tea time and shake him to his core ... and have him on his knees !!!

So since I don't know - 'kerning pair' ... I go look it up on the net - wide-eyed and bated breath .. (much like some one waiting for Tom Cruise on a hollywood premiere) and when I opened this wikipedia link, I was sort of stumped .. the link was talking about digital typography, which isn't what I remotely expected. The page sort of slapped me on my cheek and told me kerning pairs in digital typography refers to the concept of adjusting space between two characters in a font for more aesthetic appeal ... they talk of a V and an A as a kerning pair because they can be aligned by their sides .. etc ...
The bug was in some kernel module related to fonts ... ahhem ...
Probably I shouldn't get too excited when I see something like .... ThreadedVMProc pairs ... they might be referring to a dance form ... ;-)

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Friday, August 27, 2010

grit my teeth

It seems P.G. Wodehouse wrote his best comedy novels while spending his time at the German concentration camps. My scenario at the moment, though not comparable with German concentration camps, is somewhat grumpy on both work and home fronts. Taking inspiration from PGW, I'd like to occasionally take some time out to have a good laugh at myself.
What I have ahead of me for next few months will probably make the deepest impression on my cerebral dump, which is getting old btw. I just need to be doubly careful that my brain doesn't ooze out. Sometimes we have to , how do you put it, ... grit our teeth, bend our heads and go through shit to enjoy what comes after it.
There this telugu guy, my cubicle neighbour, whose ringtone goes ... "Jayammu nischayambura .. Bhayammu ledura .." (which roughly translates to .. Victory is certain, have no fear), which is sort of giving me the right vibes whenever his phone rings...
I stand at the edge of a precipice .. to take the leap ..
here we go ..

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

second lesson - part 1

There are 5 variations to each of the full musical notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) based on a semi-tone seperation on the lower and higher ends. These are called Accidentals of a note. They are :
1) Double-flat (♭♭) 2) Flat (♭) 3) Natural (♮) 4) Sharp (♯) 5) Double Sharp (×)
♭♭is being used here for want of a symbol that looks can represent double-flat. Originally, it must look like the 2 flat symbols are stuck together instead of the gap. I must constantly be on the look out for a better utf8 symbol
When we refer to a note, say A, we generally mean A♮ - which is A-natural. With semitone separation between notes, there are 12 notes. C, C, D, D, E, F, F, G, G, A, A, B.
Logically, then, there will be multiple ways to refer to a note. So, C can be referred to as D♭♭ or B. So, for the first time after I started learning guitar, I heard the term B ... or even E, for that matter. Naturally, I got skeptical and curious and asked Deepak, what was this all about .. there is no such thing as B and so on. He said that is not true. Then I asked him, why accidentals, when we have clear cut representations for the 12 notes. Why even bother to represent them in multiple ways and create ambiguity ? As an answer he started me off on Circle of Fifths:

Circle of fifths:
The idea is to start of with a scale (major or minor) and write down the scale of the with the fifth note (from beginning or end of the scale) of current scale as the key. While doing this, we must make sure that all 7 notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B are mentioned with the appropriate accidentals. This is to avoid having to mention the accidentals of the same note again and again within a scale. For example, if we needed to mention A and A, we rather mention A and B.

Here goes the circle of fifths with C note as the first key. Both ascending (fifth from beginning of each scale) and descending (fifth from end of a scale).

Ascending Circle of Fifths:


Descending Circle of Fifths:

E♭♭FGA♭♭B♭♭CD E♭♭
A♭♭B♭♭C D♭♭ E♭♭FGA♭♭

When a major scale, such as a C major scale, is being worked upon, it is interesting to observe how the ionion mode of another scale would sound like, if the scale started off from the fifth note of the current scale. When writing these scales, to avoid ambiguity of having to use the same note in its natural and sharp format, the accidentals of a previous or a next note are used, so that all the notes have a representation within a given scale.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

first lesson

Guitar lessons from an advanced teacher have started for me. I thought it'd be good to capture the input given in some form. What's better than a blog ? Until someone answers that question, I thought here's the place to capture it.

We discussed three important concepts that have wide use in western music (they go under different names in Indian classical music). They are Scale, Key and Mode.

Scale: Set of notes belonging to a Key.
Key: It's the pivot over which a scale or chord is built and defines the notes that'll belong to that scale/chord. Eg: E_M scale belongs to the key called E_M.
So, what are more commonly known as major or minor keys are defined by the modes of the key.
Mode: Mode is a get of intervlas that are to be followed when playing a set of notes belonging to a key/scale/chord. The commonly used modes are the following:
Representing the intervals of a Tone and Semitone by Whole(W) and HalfStep(H), we have:
1. Ionian: W - W - H - W - W - W - H
2. Dorian: W - H - W - W - W - H - W (right circular shift of above by one step)
3. Phrygian: H - W - W - W - H - W - W
4. Lydian: W - W - W - H - W - W - H
5. MixoLydian:W - W - H - W - W - H - W
6. Aeolian: W - H - W - W - H - W - W
7. Locrian: H - W - W - H - W - W - W

The practice exercise was to do the famous caterpiller exercise without taking the support of the thumb.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

finally ...

Typing out 164.99.khrrmm.khrrmm for server ip and realizing that it is no more valid ..
Getting up at 10:30 am from the seat for a quick chat with team in a coffee break and realizing no one would come ..
Repeating the above step once again at 4:00 pm ..
Having to use the heavy RDP sessions only to 'interactive session' to a computer :-( ...
Seriously going to a cmd prompt and typing vi ..
Looking at code that starts with
'import System.WebSSO.Properties.Thingummy.WhatzitCalled.YouKnowWhat ...'
as opposed to a friendly
Slowly knowing that around 50 % of work time need to be spent in editing automation jobs :-(
Miserably failing at configuring pidgin to work with Office communicator plugin ...
Getting angry on why I need to have a *in***s only box to connect to office ...
Trying to say "Ab kahaa hein aap ?" to a cab wallah on phone as opposed to a cute - "ellidira neevu ? ..... aaha .. avuda .. allinda swalpa mundey banni .."
Not finding time for guitar and listening to my favourite songs on iPod, imagining myself playing them ..
Carrying lunch box from home, as the food at office is freaking costly ...
Realizing that the floor I'm sitting in (5th) has about as much strength as my previous company ..
Getting surprised when a guy from Utah, USA picks up my helpdesk call at 4 in the afternoon ..
Understanding that Visual_freaking_Studio takes about gazillion minutes to install ..
Not knowing the phone numbers of my own team mates even after about 2 months of joining .. They do not know mine too ...
Figuring out why first line managers are called leads here and still trying to understand why I'm in first role of test after 4 years experience as Dev.
Absorbing the fact that medical checkup post employment can be so weird that the lab guy asks for a sample of stools after asking me to come empty stomach ..

hmm ... transition transition transition ... life changes.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

cheer up bro

Going back home from office with the realization there's no one at home is becoming increasingly tough for me. I wonder how I managed it for the past one and a half month. And I don't even want to think about the fact that I have 4 more months (minimum ... that is ...) to spend this way.

In India, it's a norm that the pregnant wife will spend her last 3,4 months of pregnancy and the first 3,4 months of motherhood at her parent's place. And it's a widely agreed school of thought, that the husband's feelings during that period must be like .... wow .... !! yuuuhuuuu .... !!! But, no ... not me. I got too habituated to the comfort of having some one to speak to (back home) to bear with the thought of having to spend about 12 hours all by myself everyday.

Here are some interesting techniques and skills I have painstakingly developed over months after marriage:
1) I can code for fixing an intricately involved bug even as I listen to home news bulletin from my wife.
2) I can actually repeat the news bulletin - word to word - in case my wife tends to think I'm not paying attention. (Later I also remember giving her a choice of listening to a short summary - 2 marks or a detailed discourse - 10 Marks)
(Actually I'm mid-way - developing a technique where I can repeat what she said - word-word in the reverse order, not that it interests her .... just very amusing ..)
3) With a single look (I needn't even have to hold them), I can differentiate between capsicum and a badly grown brinjal.
4) I can prepare these items (ordered in ascending order of expertise) - coffee, horlicks, maggie noodles.
5) I can carry about 7 kg of grocery on each of my hands and walk slowly (to match my wife's pace) with an unfading smile on my face in a heavily crowded market area. (Normal people will have to do specialized yoga to achieve this feat.)
6) It's only after marriage that I couped up enough courage to watch a full telugu movie. (A piece of cake for my wife :( )

Don't want to boast about it in the list of points above, but I'd want to mention here - in passing - that at one instance, I bravely argued with an auto-guy for a rupee (only once though).

And it all seems such a waste, that I have no one to whom I can show-off these skills.

But, just as things were turning worse from bad, a ray of hope entered my life this evening, in the form of a dog. Okay, don't get confused. I can explain.

This evening, as I had a few things to purchase from Nilgiris, I had been there and was coming back with a fairly big carry-bag in my hand. Here I was walking, and at about 25 meters from me, due north east, I happened to glimpse at a dog on the other side of the road. Even though some people will be skeptical on this, I happened to easily observe that the dog's eyes were on my bag. I wanted to avoid a scene. So I started walking faster and realized that the dog was doing same on the other side. The road was fairly well occupied with zooming vehicles, so everything is fine for the present. My razor sharp brain could immediately come up with 2 plans, as they show in the movies - plan A and plan B. At this point, the road became silent because of a signal further down, and as anticipated, the dog crossed the road to my side at about 43 kmph. I don't understand dogs, especially this one. I guess it thought that I was a pie-faced nincompoop or something. It was about to know that it misjudged me. We were separated by about 15 meters and it starting walkin towards me, it's eyes hawk-like on the bag. Distance between us slowly started reducing. (slowly - owing to the facts that i) I wasn't too keen to get near the dog and ii) the dog was stalking it's prey.). We are about 7 meters apart, when I stopped on my tracks. The dog stopped as well. I had plan A on the cards. So, I lifted my bag up over my shoulders. Our eyes briefly met. I mustered up as much malice into my eyes as possible. But the dog looked away indifferently, back at the carry-bag. I delivered plan B. I took out the umbrella that I had hidden in the carry-bag and walked towards it (the dog, I mean) in quick steps with it (the umbrella) uplifted in a threatening manner. I think it understood the general message I wanted to convey - about how superior I was. It immediately backed out and ran away to it's evening chores (which I'm sure involves - conversing with it's friends about the incident, picking at humbler targets etc).

I came back home thinking that life isn't that bad after all.