Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Depressing times are back again!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, its that time of the year again when the lights go out at 5 in the evening. Last Saturday, we turned the clocks back an hour (fall back, spring forward). While the holiday season begins now here in America - Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving in about 20 days and Christmas a month later, this time of the year just depresses me out (I'm like Marvin the Paranoid Android). By the time I get out of office in the evening, it is pitch dark. Why, oh why, do they have to push the clocks back? Coming from a tropical country it just feels so unnatural for it to be totally dark at 5 in the evening...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Indians and American politics

I was in my network class last Monday where the professor, an Indian, was teaching us about a paradox in network theory. So he goes, "This example is little counter-intuitive and some of you may not be able to grasp it immediately. Can someone give me more examples like this?", when a student, an American, blurted out, "The war in Iraq!". There was uncomfortable silence for a second before the class started laughing and professor with us. But we see could the discomfort in his face. He paused for a second neither asserting nor denying the statement before continuing, "Let me give you a more non-political example."

While the remark made by the student was definitely not on a serious tone, the professors refusal to even acknowledge the comment got me thinking - why are Indians so uncomfortable talking in public about American politics? This was not a one time incident. In my previous job, the manual which we had to go through before coming to the client location says - while you may talk with the client regarding non-business related topics refrain from talking to them about politics and other such sensitive issues.

Before coming to the United States, this made a lot of sense to me. Clearly, you don't want to jeapordize the relationship with the client by expressing an opinion which may hurt them. But it is after coming here that I've realized how much Americans value the idea of free speech. I had a manager whose step-son is currently serving in Iraq. She once told me, "Jared was always brave. After 9/11 he thought of nothing but signing up with the Marines. Though I respect what he does, I don't believe in this war (in Iraq) and what the President (Bush) is doing to this country." I just nodded and said nothing.

There have been other cases too. The person who used to sit next to my cubicle at my old job is a liberal and is always talking about hot button issues and how the Republicans are ruining this country. He and his neighbor, a Briton, were always having heated debates on American politics. While I and a few other Indians listened in sometimes, we never contributed our thoughts to these discussions.

Some may think that the reason behind this is that Indians don't know much about American politics, but that again is clearly not the case. I listen to talk radio all the time and know others who do too. I know as well anybody else the current candidates for the Massachusetts governor race and what these candidates stand for. We all are updated on a daily basis on the war in Iraq and can't escape it as it shows up on every television news channel. We know all about the scandals that happen in Washington and what the opinion polls say about who is going win the mid-term elections in November. But why is it that we are afraid to talk in public about what we know?

I know that many Indians do talk amongst themselves about American politics. I was at my cousin's place for lunch once when we had a very lively discussion about the Massachusetts governor race and the candidates. But we don't show the same level of enthusiasm while talking about this with Americans. Why? On the contrary, Americans are very interested about knowing how the Indian political system works, the parties, about India-Pakistan relations and such. They even speak out their mind on these things if they have any knowledge of it. After the recent bombings in Mumbai, everyone in my office came to me and others from Mumbai to talk about it and try to understand (from our limited knowledge) how it happened and who might be behind it.

My neighbor (whom I mentioned before) from my old job always used to tell me that it is important that I express my opinion about issues here as what happens affects me directly as I live here. I am not a citizen but I do pay taxes to both the state and federal government - and a lot of it :(. And the US Constitution guarantees me the freedom of speech and expression.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Microsoft sends a cake to Firefox team

Saw this on Slashdot today and thought it was pretty funny. You should reads the comments that people wrote there. I especially liked this one:

Has anyone actually verified that the cake is in fact from Microsoft?

I can hear the phones ringing....

Mozilla secretary: Mozilla- home of Firefox and Thunderbird, how many I help you?
Microsoft secretary: This is Ursula from Microsoft's browsers division- we didn't send a cake...
*phone drops*

Or perhaps upon closer inspection, there were flakes of white powder on the bottom of the cardboard...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tribute to Ashutosh Kendurkar

Ashutosh Kendurkar, or 'Ashu' as he generally known is a friend of mine and an wonderful amateur photographer. I die for the close up photos that he takes during our treks (one good reason to take him to such treks) which make some really amazing wallpapers. Below are a few beautiful shots that you can download and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What you ought to do when you don't get cellphone reception!

I always crack up laughing when I see this photograph. It was from our whitewater rafting trip to Maine where we made Sharad get on top of the SUV so that we could get in touch with the other party.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Maiden Boston

Went for Iron Maiden's concert at Boston Univeristy last night. They've started touring for their new album "A Matter of Life and Death" and this was a part of the North American leg of their tour.

I've been planning this since September but never went out to get the tickets. By the time I did go out to get the tickets, they were all sold out. So Ankur & I decided to go to the stadium and see if there would be anybody trying to sell off their tickets there. But on Friday morning - the day of the concert, I found a guy on Craigslist who wanted to sell his two tickets for $40 each - ten bucks BELOW face value!! I drove to 20 miles, got the tickets - which were e-tickets which means he could've duped me by selling them to others. Thankfully that didn't happen - may Eddie bless Sean Delaney from BC Law! Dude, thank you!

I usually like to put blog entries with photographs but couldn't do that this time as there were no cameras allowed inside. By the time we reached the gates, it was 7:40 and the opening act by Bullet for my Valentine had started. I'd didn't think of them much anyway.

Iron Maiden started at around 8:30 PM. T
hey started out with songs with AMOLAD and played the whole thing non stop. Then they played Fear of the Dark (to which the whole stadium sung along with them) and Iron Maiden (have no idea why they chose this song) and went offstage.

They came back when the whole stadium called for an encore and played 2 Minutes to Midnight, The Evil That Men Do and finished off on a high note with Hallowed Be Thy Name - a total thrill ride!

Bruce Dickinson's onstage performance was absolutely fantastic. He kept the crowd entertained with his antics - jumping around, running around the set and of course with his standard line, "Scream for me, Boston. Scream for me." Dave Murray went crazy with his guitar and started throwing it around (in the air) around the end of the show.

The set that was prepared was
unbelievably great. Since AMOLAD is a war themed album, they had a huge stage tank (about 20 feet in size) in the back of the stage with a gun and a turret (which rotated) out of which eddie came out in the end with lighted eyes and stuff. Halfway through 2 Minutes to Midnight a 10 foot tall eddie came out dressed in WWII (or was that WWI?) fatigues and with a machine gun (sure there was a guy with stilts inside it), pretends to shoot everybody on stage and goes back.

The crowd was also an extremely enthusiastic lot - a LOT of old timers. Half were drunk and the other half were high . There was a couple making out heavy duty right in front of me - imagine, making out in a Maiden concert with all the noise and din - couldn't figure out how they managed to do it. Now, I've seen it all!

On Fear of the Dark, i jumped up on my seat and started headbanging due to which i lost my balance completely and fell on my friend right behind me. Thankfully, he caught me else there would have been a domino effect in our row.

Still recovering from a sore throat and neck...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Mt. Greylock Incident

OK, so I decided to do some hiking. Well it was more of a warmup before our 'big' hike to Mt. Washington the coming weekend.

Meet da gang:

Background: Well, I'd just spent till 3 AM the night before playing Civilization IV at Sharad's place after a heavy dinner (when we decided to do a warmup trek the next day). We started at 9 AM for Mt. Greylock near the Berkshires.

Here's what happened after that...

12 PM: Somewhere near Lenox, MA. Missed the route to Greylock and took a U turn where I shouldn't have. Cop catches me. Haven't paid the fine yet. :)

1 PM: Reached the base of the mountain. We decided to drive further up and take the Appalachian trail.

1:30 PM: Missed all the parking spots and reached the spot near the base of the mountian (see map below). We didn't realize this when we first parked there.

1:45 PM: Start trekking to the top. People follow the golden 15 minute rule of trekking (according to Sharad Agrawal). Start photographing! You will see a lot of that below. The walk was just beautiful. The trail was all foggy and wet. Reminded me of Lonvala during the monsoon season.

2:15 PM: Arrgh, reached there already! We climbed up the memorial on top of the peak and came back down. But wait, Naren & Manisha got some yummy bhajiyas. :)

2:30 PM: Finished the bhajiyas. Bored. Need to trek! We didn't drive 3 hours to just walk for 1/2 hour. Decide to trek to Mt. Fitch about 3 miles from Mt. Greylock.

Started out from the parking lot.
2:45 PM: Somewhere on the Appalachian trails to Mt. Fitch. Ashutosh, Naren and Daya fall behind taking photographs. Mitesh, Manisha, Sharad and I go further up.

3:40 PM: Halfway through to Mt. Fitch. This trail is deserted. No word on Naren and the rest.

4 PM: Manisha wants to turn back. So, Manisha and Mitesh turn back to meet with Naren and the rest. Sharad and I decide to trek a bit further up and then turn back.

Deciding on where to go

First Break The edge of the world and we like it.
On top of Mt. Greylock memorial
5 PM: Crossed Mt. Fitch. Went to a really beautiful waterfall. It was a small one but the water was just crystal clear. I even bottled it up and drank some. Walking back through the Money Brook trail. We were pretty convinced that we would back at the parking spot by 6:30 PM.

5:30 PM: Somewhere on the Money Brook trail, Sharad & I did not take a left and started climbing again on the Mt. Prospect trail. We didn't realize this at first but when the trail started going straight up the mountain we guessed it. Halfway up we met a couple who confirmed the same.

6 PM: We started timing ourselves cause we knew the rest of the gang would be pretty pissed as we were already late.

6:45 PM: Walking back to Sperry Road. Another horrible trail just going up.

7:15 PM: Back at Sperry Road. Called the rest of the gang. They were at another waterfall, so Sharad & I decided to walk back to the parking spot. It's starting to get dark.

8 PM: Back at the parking lot. It is really getting dark. The rest of the gang are still at the waterfall and walking back. The best part - no one has any flashlight or compass. The temperature is below 45 degrees (F). Sharad & I are both getting cold and we can't even get in the car - we don't have the keys!!

8:30 PM: Really cold now. But the strange thing is that I could only think of one thing - if the Indian restaurant that we saw in the last town would still be open. :D Yes, I was that hungry!

8:45 PM: Finally, they're back! We were more pissed at them for coming late!

9:30 PM: No Indian restaurant, but an equally good pizzeria...

If you like these photographs, you'll love the rest of them:

Greylock Photographs

Thanks to Kendurkar, the great photographer

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shine on You Crazy Diamond

Syd Barrett, one of the founding members of Pink Floyd, died of cancer on July 7th, 2006. Syd contributed to some of Pink Floyd's memorable songs such as 'Arnold Layne' and 'See Emily Play'.

This is my little tribute to him. You'll always be remembered!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You've been /.ed!

OK, this may sound quite geeky (rather nerdy) to ya'll but I just got my first article accepted on Slashdot! Yea!

Here it is.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Footage from the Discovery Shuttle

To watch for the debris impacts, NASA put in cameras on the space shuttle resulting in some of the coolest footage ever. Don't miss this!

Watch for the rocket and booster separation in the one below:

Right Aft Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Camera

This one has really amazing footage of the re-entry!

Right Forward SRB Camera

Thanks to /.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The 2006 United States Formula1 Grand Prix

Just got back to home from Louisville, KY and I just can't wait to start blogging (or rather bragging) about the GP. Well, the result was as expected (Schumi won), but the best part was the crash at the first corner - which, by the way, I witnessed first hand and captured quite a bit on video.

Me, with the Ferrari flag and one of those air horns which result in half the noise in the stadium (after the cars of course) - man are those things loud!!

NoopsK with the Ferrari flag. Notice his $35 Ferrari cap and $40 Ferrari t-shirt.

At the race track with the Ferrari flag flying high - Hanif next to me

Here's a summary of what happened at the first turn. Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren) hits his team mate Kimi Raikonnen and then goes ahead and then makes contact with Jenson Button (Honda). Button, from the impact of the McLaren dashes into Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) - you see a little bit of that in the video - who flips a couple of times on the gravel bed. At the same time, Mark Webber, Scott Speed, Christian Klien and Franck Montagny somehow collide together and all of them are out of the race.

More details at the Formula 1 website.

One thing is for sure - this circuit is jinxed!!

The start of the race - seven cars crash out. Notice Jenson Button who actually manages to drive out of the wreckage - He retired two laps later due to accident damage.

btw, If you are interested in last year's videos here they are.

Christian Klein's RBR being towed away

One of the McLarens being towed away

The race comes to an end and here are the podium photos:

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Juan Pablo Montoya says hi!

Did the pit walkabout today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. The point is you get to see the pit crew assemble the cars for the race, see the men behind the machines and things like that. And it turned out to be pretty fun! The drivers came out for interviews and I was only one screaming out "JP" (the others were calling out for Schumi)! And guess what ... the man looked up said Hi!

Here are the other highlights from today's pit walkabout...

Schumi waves out to his fans!

Turn 13 of the speedway

Me with the Honda pit crew!

Friday, June 23, 2006

A quarter century - over.

As I finished 25 years of age [yesterday] I tried to reflect on what I've accomplised. Oh, wait...
Dances with PS2

Ashutosh Kendurkar, my roomie, plays the PS2

He lost the game!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The three great roomies

Amit's parents wanted a pic of all of us when they went back to Mumbai. Here it is straight from

Westborough MA

Monday, May 22, 2006

Saving the world ... 9.8 miles at a time

With all the talk about rising fuel costs, global warming and pollution, I thought I'd do my part to save the world. Now that spring is here and summer is just around the corner, I decided to take my new mountain bike to work.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Went canoeing in charles river, newton, MA

Here are the pics.

The Da Vinci Code Quest

I took part in the Google Da Vinci Code Quest and was one of the finalists. Won a limited edition cryptex! See below ...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Heard on 105.7 WROR "Men from Maine" series...

Ephus gets a job with the Maine census bureau and goes to a lady's house and asks, "Ma'am, how many children do you have?". To which she replies "10". Ephus asks, "What are their names?". To which the lady replies "Jebediah". "All of them? How do you call them? ", Ephus asks. "Yes" she says. "If I want to call them for dinner, I just say Jebediah, come home for dinner. And all of them come". "What if you want to call just one of them?", asks Ephus. To which the lady replies, "Then, I just call them by their last name!"

Thursday, May 11, 2006

My New Posting Area!

After evaluating tripod / blogspot and other blogging tools, I found this to be the easiest to use. So, more from me .. right here!

you can link to my website here .. The loneliness of the long distance runner