Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Golds that glitter and the Golds that don't

A Gold in doubles? Roger Federer wins the Olympic gold for Switzerland in men's doubles on the last day of his 4.5 years of top singles ranking....incredible! And totally deserving. They defeated the unbeatable Byron brothers in the semi-final. And they also defeated the Indians in the quarters. Hmmm that was a big ethical question I had to face. What to root for - loyalty or royalty? I chose the latter. With the unreasonable breaking away of Bhupati and Paes, and then a comeback for these Olympics, I was not sure how long they will last this time, so there was hardly a question of national pride there. But the royal Swiss was more deserving of the medal anyways.

Still, India goes back with the historical medal in shooting for Bindra -an achievement too much for the whole 1 billion populace we own. Each year our people manage a solitaire medal. But the rest of the 5 billion in the world get to share the remaining 302 x 3 of them. I sometimes wonder, why there is so much discrimination?

While we are at it, let's talk about China's bag of 40 odd golds - the age of the female gymnasts, the sudden appearance of world record breaking swimming athletes, and all other questions in peoples' minds. Well even though a gold is a gold, a victory is a victory, I find it hard to them due credit. I am sure this whole business is transparently opaque!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

"I don't care what the others say, I like it when it is praise" - Roger Federer

100+ aces in the tournament, no set dropped, impeccable performance all through, unruffled after playing for 4 hours, a 5 time winning streak.....and still, the guy could not earn enough camera attention? A very short while back, the guy got nothing but praise for his perfection, his natural flair, the ability to raise his game per the requirements of the opponent, the reigning champion....but the commentators could not utter a single word of appreciation for him even when the match began? No camera focus? no discussion about his extraordinary feat?......

With the exceptional match, at least he shut their mouths up. It was surely not his best performance, or his full faith in his shots, or his natural game. But it was the game of "the king". Only his opponent, the wonderful Rafa, gave him credit for what he is, and acknowledged that he is the best player ever been.

Here I should put in a few words of honor for Rafael Nadal. It is often difficult for me to convince people that I am Federer's supporter, and not Nadal's. I have never been disturbed or irritated by his superstitions or other antics, and have really admired his on-court killer persona, in spite of having the heart of a kid. I have given Nadal credit for all the matches he has won till date, even got up to clap when he thrashed Federer in 2008 French Open final. After all, he who won is the winner, and whatever effort he put in was at least an iota greater than his opponent's. However, today it was no victory for anybody, it was just a loss for Federer. Just a loss of.....

From 600 to 1400 July 6,2008, I was hooked on to the greens of Wimbledon, and wished to be physically present there in 2012 to watch my God win. There was no dearth of anxiety, emotions, stress, and awe. But I still wish that these things could have helped more. I tried my best. Well, I did not know I was superstitious, but today I surpassed all limits. I did not wear the same clothes I wore on the morning of French open, did not talk to my Austin buddies during the match, I kept my phone in the other room, just so that no conditions of French Open could be replicated. I did not eat because when I started eating he began to lose. While I was sitting he got 2 sets down, but when I did lie down, he got back into the game. So of course, the next 3 sets I was lying down on the carpet even though my back ached. I did not talk to anybody, or express any feelings. I did not pray. I searched and collected little dirt particles from the carpet after every game, throughout the match, and threw them out in the balcony, because it worked the first few times. He fought, he struggled, and all that I consider a part of the game, but I could not believe the loss. I just wish I could have done something more.

Yesterday I took my GMAT. Of course it was scheduled for yesterday on purpose, so that I could watch this final with full concentration. I went into the exam with the only thought of Federer, and the way he tackles each ball with full vigor, and that I will have to put a fraction of that effort into every question. During the exam I often thought about the same and courtesy Federed, I did quite well. I wish I could have done something more to help him today.

I think I knew this would come some day, but I had hidden it in such a nook of my mind, that I don't think I could have found it until this morning came. It is not always that I overrule my sanity, and so I just wanted/believed/hoped/wished him to continue forever. That is probably because I dread the thought of his becoming absent from the game of tennis. For me right now, there will be nothing left to watch after that. I have come to associate so many of my principles with him, and learn so much from him all the time, that it seems difficult to think about the absence of my guide.

My regret is that I could not enjoy the game of tennis, strictly in those terms, because I have heard that "it was a spectacle, the most wonderful match ever been". But, I don't think I saw that match then. I was just numbed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


It is amazing to know how lack of constant use leads to rusting. Be it in terms of a machine part or the brain cells. This morning I came across a dig at the English language in reference to Math. It said, "A triangle with one angle greater than 90deg is called an obscene triangle." I laughed out loud at the idea, but later wondered what exactly is it called? It beat the hell out of me throughout my train journey to recall the name of a triangle with one obtuse angle. The only source of comfort was, "I will Google it!".

Yesterday was the 6th of May. Exactly 7 years back on the same day I took my JEE. THE JEE, which changed everything in my life. But could I have dreamed that day, that there will be a time so soon when I will not be able to remember the simplest of concepts in Maths, the subject I have breathed day and night, the subject in which my whole family talks, the subject injected in my bloodstream.

Initially I used to be wary of using a calculator also, so as to not get over the dependence on my brain. That gradually sunk in in IIT, as the expanse of courses and their impossibility broached graver topics of concern. I still felt that I am better than a colleague of mine in grad school, who needed to use a calculator to multiply 3.749 with 1000 (I guess I do not need to divulge his nationality). Getting out of school, came the brunt of full time exposure to computers. There is no longer a need to use any brain cells for math calculations. Firstly because you no longer have to do any, and secondly, God forbid if you have to, there are silicon chips specially designed to take care of you. The unending power of Google, gives you all the required information about driving directions to English dictionary to astrology. If you just take a breather here and think, where is the world heading?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Bull and the 'ayes'!

Democracy is Of the people, For the people and By the people, although we can chose what represents "the people".

Here is Arjun Singh to support the idea.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Be (on) Right Track

I am a former student of Dr. Geetam Tiwari, TRIPP lab, IIT Delhi, and currently working as a transportation engineer in San Francisco Bay Area. It is shocking to read the response of media and people to the Delhi BRT project. It can not only be described as a reaction to change but also as a hype created by media against the system.

The building of freeways, flyovers and toll roads has been on the horizon for a long time, to cater to the ever increasing transportation needs. But, as it is well known, even before they become fully functional they get to the point of operating beyond capacity. It is clear that that is not a sufficient solution to the increasing traffic problem. The rate of increase of vehicles on the road is much higher than even the theoretical potential to build roadways, not talking about the practical side of things. India is gradually becoming the largest market for automobile companies. There are even greater number of models and varieties suiting everybody's liking. The percentage of people owning cars has gone up many folds in the past 5 years. Tata Nano, the car for the common man, is the epitome of the 21st century. But there are over 1 billion common men in India, and everybody riding their car which will amount to paving almost the whole of the county with asphalt. There is definitely a need to find a solution to this roadway traffic explosion or else Tata should probably develop Nano aircrafts for scope of any possible commute in the 21st century.

Majors cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Bombay are facing severe traffic congestion issues, and it is something not uncommon in the rest of the world as well. The absolute dependence of people on their personal mode of transportation, sheer unwillingness to use existing means of public transit, or the utter lack of any mass transit service has lead to similar problems in the western countries. Even though the population is not comparable in India and the US, the latter is reaching the crisis state as well. Each person's desire to drive his own 4 wheel-5 seater automobile for commute has led to massive traffic jams in peak hours in almost all of the majors cities in the US. To tackle this problem, the transportation authorities are in the process of developing and popularizing public modes of transportation. But it is so ingrained in the psyche of the people that change is an uphill task.

India, being primarily a transit dependent nation in the past, has seen a rapid increase in automobile ownership in the recent years. With the increase in the purchasing power of people, and with the relative decrease in the cost of cars and gasoline, India is headed more and more towards the likes of the western world. Agreed that it might be a symbol of prosperity, but just for the sake of a symbol, we surely do not want to face the repercussions and face the same issues which the other developed countries are. We are a progressive nation and we know it.

It is good to know that at least the planners are acknowledging the importance of a well developed transit system and the taking measures to develop a functional one. The decrease in the number of vehicles on the road is the only source of rescue from the immediate state of crisis. No one can stop people from buying cars, but limiting the capacity of the road to discourage the use of them can definitely be a measure. No one can demand to change the people to ride transit overnight, but it is not be impossible to expect that with better transit facility and worse driving conditions, people can be willingly forced to use the transit.

That is the aim of developing the Bus Rapid Transit in Delhi. Without going into intricate details of right -of-way, separate corridors and signal priorities for bus service, we can state in a nutshell that this simply means preferential treatment of buses. This ensures that there is scheduled bus service and no unnecessary delays as a result of traffic jams. These systems are highly successful in other parts of the world, and have a promising future in our country as well. If the buses provide assurance of time, good frequency of service, good riding conditions, comfort and convenience, then there is no reason people still prefer to drive their cars through clogged Delhi roads. The population which this system is targeting is the one which is getting agonized by the impossible driving conditions, and seeks to make them switch to this mode of transportation, in turn relaxing the roadway traffic.

This state-of-the-art project in Delhi has been well researched and planned by all the institutions involved in its development. It is baseless to condemn it with as abysmal a charge as monetary interest, and too from journalists, who have minimal background and knowledge of statistics behind the effort. It not only shows the lack of understanding, but also a lack of seriousness of the media. It is not only the image of our alma mater at stake, it is the image of the country, and its residents that is involved. If the reaction to a positive effort is so unsupportive, how will declaring yourself as the sixth nuclear power make things any better? How else do the learned journalists of our nation seek urbanization and development in the country?

If we are also not convinced of the benefits of this, how should we expect everybody else to understand it. We should provocate the development of the BRT as much as possible in our capacity, and protest against the aspersions and malice thrown on it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


How about writing a blog with this first thing missing? I know it is a difficult job, but nothing to do following a long day at work. Just got back from Oakland, and hit on this part in a book which told about a man who authors a full book without using it. Yup, a good activity for my brain to work on. But man, it is an uphill task! Saying rubbish is kind of ok, but actually writing down a point is kind of tough. Ok try, try until you do not.....(you know).:-)

This month has had a lot of activity and going around in California. Partly to show visitors around, and partly as I am now much familiar with this ground. A lot of trips to City, a lot of driving, and a lot of socializing, show signs of my spirit coming to normal.

San Francisco visits always sound fun, a good walk and amazing food is always to accompany. That was so for last bits also. This had additional plus points as not so painful wind, a good May sun high in horizon on top of Pacific, gradually fog rolling in from it, all old and young walking or jogging by coast, sights of guys in diving suits with surf boards, and good company. Aura of City was totally grand. Finally culminating it with Ravioli and Tiramisu in Italian town within San Francisco, my bliss I cannot portray through words.

But party follows work, and loads of it also. Days go by fast trying to wind up this California Rail task, but things go wrong in runs, and it is continuing for days now. By Friday this thing has to go out and finally comfort. Still, my days coming along do contain plans. I look forward to a play tomorrow, longing to go for it, and a visit to a fair on Saturday or Sunday, along with a visit by family also. All of it sounds fun.

Alas, it is damn tough to omit from your writing important "lEttEr E"!

NB- Kindly omit all grammatical flaws, if you did find any.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"Saturday night"

This is the best time to try to write a blog....midnight, insomnia, wasted day, another 'wasted day' in the making..... It is a bit of a struggle for me anyways, but let's try one more time.

How easy it is for people to jot down anything in their blogs, without thinking of making it readable, without thinking about who the reader might be, without any concern for what it might convey......"a blog is for yourself", "I couldn't care less if others read it or not", "I just have to write regularly", I have yet to feel what I have the heard the others say.

I just sat down to read all the blogs all the people had posted after a long time (partly because of the recently troublesome net connection at home). And I feel very unhappy, very low, kind of disturbed. I don't know why people disturb me sometimes, is it them or is it there thoughts, is it their presence or lack there of. But whatever it might be, sometimes just thinking about what others feel becomes disturbing. Tch tch tch...why should I care? But I do.

Anyways, it has not been a bad day. I have had company, I have had things to do, and I have had a good sleep. But I have had no exercise. I miss that. I have become this freak, that till I don't exert myself beyond exhaustion each day, I don't get the high (so to speak)! After a nice long run, or a day long strenuous hike, or a good exhausting game of anything, the exuberance is immaculate. I cannot define the bliss I get after any kind of physical exertion.

(The only thing I have been able to explain myself about this is that I have a lot of useless energy, which unless I vent out somehow, goes into my head as heat and disturbs the whole system. And so I force myself into continuing this to the effect that I remain content.)

I really wish I could have a physically active lifestyle forever. Could I find a profession which would seek manual labor? Sitting in front of the computer bothers me, irritates me, and I really wish I can find a out of this. Looking at the screen (how the hell can anti-glare, flat screen, 21" et al help!!!!) for 10 hours continuously gives me the biggest pain. Could there not be something other than that for me? Yet................sitting in the silicon valley, in era of micro-processors, even a civil engineer's only concern for the whole of Saturday was......."could I get my internet connection fixed?".

Sigh!!!!! This is "not" life.