Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coming back to Life

Reaching Calcutta on on the 30th. Can not wait. I have made a list of places that I must go to. Anyone who knows me knows that by places I mean places to eat. What can I say?

Had a reasonably good Mahalaya in our house in Madras with friends and food and Birendrokrishno Bhodro. Missed the visits to the ghat. Missed Rommo, Daniel, Subhayu, Teko, Tautaar, Shonai. Missed the early morning bus ride to Rashbehari, a subsequent bus ride to Esplanade row, the walk, the photographs, the thousands of people, beggars, sadhus, Decker's lane, Kumortuli, Esplanade, kochuri, cha. I know I have said this quite a few times on this blog, but really, 'What novelty is worth the sweet monotony where everything is known, and loved because it's known?'

That, plus, Calcutta is just awesome. As awesome as Barney Stinson, or Sheldon Cooper. Or both of them put together. They have their issues, but really, how can you not like awesomeness?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Google Plus Invite

Here is the invite link for anyone who would like to join Google Plus:​fications/ngemlink?path=%2F%3F​gpinv%3Dlpe0YLgq5W0%3Agl5j5rJC​qDI

I won't say it's better than Facebook- that is obvious. It's better than Twitter.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Madras Mail: Part 4

It is easy to forget things, especially when your life depends on it. Calcutta, my Calcutta, you are such a fair city.

None of my friends were given a lot of pocket money in college. But I remember we had a great life. Rarely ever was there an occasion where we felt constrained by money. I mean, yes, we had to think about money. But for God's sake we hung out at Park Street it was perfectly possible to spend an entire day there without spending a hundred bucks. When we did save up, we went to respectable places and had gourmet meals and believe me those were not very infrequent occasions either. We rarely ever took cabs, unless we were in a group, or had a screaming mother/ father at the other end of a phone call. And yet somehow we seemed to stay out late all the time. I returned home at one in the night every once in a while and it would be fast walks followed by shared autos, or buses. I would not have to pay a lot because it was late. The auto driver did not think of hiking the fare just because he could. Even if he did it would be 5 rupee instead of 3 kind of an affair. And oh, the number of options! If you wanted Chinese food, you could go to Chini's where you would be stuffed for 25 rupees. You could go to Tibetan delight if you were in the mood for spending a bit more. If it's a larger group you could go to Tangra- even there you can choose from expensive to backyard restaurants. Still more money? Well, Barbecue, Tung Fong? Still more money? Mainland China. Just look at the options! And the best part - all of them are delicious. Every one of them.

Had I grown up in some other city I would have said- in Calcutta there is something for everyone. But I didn't. In Calcutta I can be all the ''everyone''s. I can share a table with strangers while I hog pan fried mystery-meat momos in the afternoon and go on a fancy date to a fine dining place at night. Why will I be expected to visit a certain kind of a place because I earn a certain amount of money?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Realisations in IT

The Indian software services sector is a wonderland. Everyone bullshits everyone. Your job is to make it look like you have enough work for you to be drawing a salary. You are paid to justify that you should be paid. And how do you justify that you should be paid? By preparing elaborate slide shows and spreadsheets. It is one giant work of fiction in Power Point and Excel.

No one talks about efficient code. Even you wouldn't if your effort were to be measured by the Lines of Code. Just imagine. The more Lines of Code, the better. If you spend five minutes working on something, you put two hours in the tracking software, no kidding. If you spend two hours copying code from various pre-existing programs (which had been copied from other programs - you see forty years of Mainframe does give you a sizable chunk of obsolete code) you put your effort as forty. Yes forty hours. Of course, at regular intervals you need to  send out mails to various people about various things and demand they give you a solution by EOD (End of Day). If you are at the receiving end of such a mail, do not panic. A solution is usually a mail or any other form of engagement. Never mind if your solution is shoddy, just send it back. Or, better still, say that your solution depends on solutions/feedback from other teams and shoot out threatening mails to them CCing it to your sender demanding that the said team sends you back whatever it is that you hope it is going to send you back by - you guessed it - EOD. No body wants you to wade through the marsh of code and come up with an actual solution. You are discouraged to. You see, the idea is to keep the facade of work going on but never really solving the main problem.

No one but the really desperate should join (and continue in) the IT industry. Because getting out is hard and time consuming. Sometimes it is the only way to go - in the beginning. Small product companies are rarely in the mood to take up or train young engineers. But if you love programming, or life in general, know this from now. You must get out.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Talkin' bout a Revolution

Let this be the end of CPM. Of the most cold blooded organized plundering in the history of India. The Socialist Revolution ended the day they came to power. What began was nothing short of a slow transfusion of poison that continues to this day.

They must go. Thankfully, they will. Nothing, nothing can be worse than this. No madness, no chaos, no amount of lack of organization can come close to the planned assault of the educated bhodrolok.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crimson Chakra- Adyar: Eating well in Madras:

If you are trying to decide whether Crimson Chakra is where you should go for your quiet dinner for two or a boisterous dinner with friends/ colleagues, this post is for you. And I will make it simple for you. Don't go to Crimson Chakra unless, of course, you love pretentious food places or you hate the people you are going out to dine with (and this is your only chance of getting back at them.)

If you understand anything about food, you are unlikely to go back to the place.  I had read somewhere that their table d'hôte sucks. It's true. I was continuously reminded of the opening lines of Annie Hall where Woody Allen talks about two women conversing in a restaurant:

"Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

Well that pretty much sums up Crimson Chakra's table d'hôte menu. Armed with this knowledge I decided to give the fixed menu a miss and order from their a la carte menu. The menu is a spectacle of sorts with the first half full of bizarre tamil names and english explanations that made each item sound more suspicious than the previous. I jumped to the second half which proclaimed itself to be the continental menu. I ordered a roasted duck in orange sauce secretly hoping that it would turn out to be better than what the others had ordered (the fixed menu). In the end however, it was difficult to tell which was worse. The duck was doused in a very, very sweet sauce. The vegetables were not blanched properly. And the fixed menu, let's not talk about that. The food is atrociously expensive. The fixed menu which has a soup, a kebab quarter plate (4 chicken, 2 mutton, 2 prawns, a quartered tomato, some bean sprouts), appams/rotis, a choice of identical tasting chicken/mutton or fish curries, curd rice (!) and a scoop of vanilla the size of a 3 rupee Calcutta rosogolla costs 650 rupee plus taxes.

The décor of the place is nice. The ambience is nice too. If you must go you can try the desserts. The menu is clearly made by people who have a limited knowledge of food. But that is not why the place fails. It fails because it seems to be run by people who don't have a genuine love for food and for feeding people. You cannot make a good restaurant by just hiring the best chefs and the best interior decorators. You need love, no matter how cliché that may sound to you.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Tramp's Message to Humanity


People, here is my message to humanity, yes it's the one the world has been waiting for, so listen carefully -

'Stop buying bread. Toil and save up and buy an oven. Also sell that microwave oven while you can. Then go and make your own bread. It is easy (you need flour, water and yeast, that's all) and so heavenly you will never be able to wipe your arse with white bread again. Start with not eating bread until you make your own. You will never regret it.'

Now go forth and do as I say (and do).


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Madras Mail: Part 3

Ok, Mainframes are a pain. We had our training in LISP and suddenly COBOL happened. It specially irks me because I know there are so many beautiful languages out there that people are doing amazing things with and here I am stuck with a bunch of ugly languages. And I have not even started talking about people who have known nothing but this all their lives and believe their dabbling with COBOL is what is keeping the Universe from collapsing on them. They want to avoid that, especially  because at least in their minds, they are at the centre of it and it would not be pretty.

What enthrals me is the work going on right now on the web. I look at the stuff and wish I could in some way be a part of it. Well, I am a part of it, we all are. But you know, in a more active way, by creating things that are beautiful. There is something I am working on. I wish I had more time and space to pursue it - but I am still at it and hope I will be able to talk about it soon. I travel for about an hour in an office bus to and from work and I have been doing a lot of thinking on usability- in general and in connection with my project.

I have lot of ideas that I do not yet have the skills to implement. I have learnt a lot and am taking it in stages. One of my problems, if you call it a problem, is that I feel very very happy when I learn something new- however small it may be. In fact, I get so overwhelmed by it that I take some time to cherish the moment. I do that. I stroll around. Day dream about it and how I am going to in all probability change the world with it. I am too much of a romantic to go on doing things in a matter of fact way. This means I take longer to finish the same things than I ought to have. But there is nothing I can do about that, I guess.

Which brings me back to the work I am doing. Here I am expected to just get things done and get them done fast. Because my client does not like to pay for my day dreaming. Fair enough. That also means I feel uncomfortable working here. I don't like most of the work. They are unchallenging to my intellect and challenging to my well-being in general. I have done better work. And I have done quite some work before I joined this company.

I won't be here waiting around for a miracle. Frankly, I find this entire industry a sham. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

We shall overcome

There is no bigger crime than mediocrity.  Wait, but there's hope.

Someday. It won't be long. I promise.