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...