Friday, November 28, 2008

Prannoy Roy cornering Pakistan's Foreign Minister

The video shows a telephonic interview by NDTV Chief Prannoy Roy with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mohammed Qureshi, who my friend calls The king of Digression. Check out the video here to know why..

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Social Networking: Desi Style

Since the time I came to US in 2005, I have noticed that there are 2 types of Desis here (or 10 types for the binary inclined) you meet . Of course, there are different justifications for the 2 types.

- The 1st one is the "Desi" Desi v/s the "ABC" Desi for which I dont have to offer an explanation (there are exceptions, of course).
- The 2nd one which I categorized after doing my MS is the geeky type of Desi, who is only interested to know who is doing his/her thesis and their research interests while he/she worries about their own, v/s the more Social Desi who likes to party and not discuss next week's assignment questions during the party..
I will not discuss about the 1st two types as it is very general and everyone knows the difference.

- The 3rd and the one which encouraged me to write this post is the type most of us can experience after we start working full time (again, there are exceptions I know of). This happens when you are new to a place and like to meet new people there/establish some social network. If you haven't guessed already, there are the Desis who like to talk to you as they have the same objective as you (this no. is few) v/s Desis who like to talk to you and get your contact information to make you join Quixtar. (This has subsequently created a small group of a 3rd kind, those who stay away from you assuming you are from Quixtar)

Those who haven't heard about Quixtar (formerly Amway), here is a wiki link for it. My advice: just skim through it, dont get interested and start digging your own pit.

Anyway, after I graduated from my MS last year, I moved to Atlanta after getting a job in December. Since then, I've met about 15 desis who I bumped into mostly in Walmart/Malls etc... The 1st one I met was on the 1st day I moved in to my apartment and the most recent one, about 2 weeks back in a Mall. All these people had some things in similar.
They seem very interested to talk to you and try to connect with you somehow. For e.g. they will ask where are you from, and if you say that, they'll say something like, "Oh, you know my brother/ some other close relative is also from there" (3 people have said it), or "I studied there" and in 1 case, "I am also from there". That way, some connection is established.
They are all doing their own business in Logistics/Supply Chain or somehow connected to Logistics.
After some nice probing talk (they'll ask so much about you as if they are writing a book about you), they will all pull out their visiting cards and tell we have to meet sometime and also ask for your phone no.
The call comes a few days later. (In one case, it came 1 month later as the guy met me in a train on the way to the airport. He was heading to India!! And Faithfully he had kept my no. till then and called me 1st thing upon coming back). They call to tell that they have an excellent business opportunity where we can work from home apart from our regular job and would like to meet sometime to give a presentation about it. Me and Naveed attended one such presentation just for the fun of it, only to tell that fool at the end that we wont fall into the BS trap. Anyway, once you tell them you don't want to do Quixtar, that's about the last time you will be speaking to them. You are Blacklisted, and they are no longer interested in meeting you.

Infact, I saw this guy who was sending friend requests in Orkut with a message that he has a business opportunity for us. What I think of that guy? He is a loser among losers.

What really grinds my gears is that aren't there people whom you meet who are genuinely interested in only developing a new social network? So far, I have been courteous to all these people who have approached me with Quixtar intent. I speak to them well, exchange numbers, and give a polite "No" when they start the business opportunity shit. But I've had enough and will use alternate ways to handle these people next time onwards. One of my friends gave a good suggestion and it worked for him. When the person called, my friend started asking him if he is interested in Quixtar, that guy was taken aback, and told him he didn't know my friend was already a Quixtar member, and I'd be interested to have a look at his face at that time!

Anyways, many people would have seen this already but here are some links about Quixtar scams:
Youtube video: Part 1, Part 2
some facts and figures can be found here

The interesting thing is, for some reason, I haven't met any non-desi who's a Quixtar member, I'm sure there are thousands but I dont know their approach methods.. but one thing I know, if a Desi stranger approaches me and starts talking, I now get to hear only the sounds of an Alarm bell ringing in my head.. "Quixtar Alert!!! Quixtar Alert!!"

Sunday, October 05, 2008

And our government does it yet again...

Today, sitting in my home in Atlanta, I have a fear in my mind...a fear every Indian is having now.Will another bomb blast occur? how many more lives are lost? People are scared to get out on the streets, hang out in the malls, go to markets...and our "Intelligence" forces have been reduced to nothing more than buffoons. I'm praying for those affected by the blasts and hoping that no more blasts occur. But this post is not about terrorism. Rather, in between all these horrible acts happening in our country, our politicians seem to be more interested in getting more votes from backward classes as elections dates are looming near. How much more ridiculous can one get?

It's time for elections again in the Centre and some states, and the Government has made a "smart" move by increasing the income ceiling of the creamy layer of OBCs. Smart because it will help them get more votes, and nothing else. They don't really care about the common man anyway.

Imagine this. A family A with an annual income of 4.5 lakhs, that is Rs. 37,500 per month before taxes, which amounts to approx. Rs.30,000 after taxes considering 20% for that income bracket. Now, there are a lot of people in India whose annual income is much less than that. For a family B who has an annual income of 2 lakhs p.a, the take home salary per month is approx. 15,000, half of the salary of the former. Now, apart from getting twice the salary of B, A also gets more benefits because A belongs to the creamy layer of OBCs. (and this creamy layer is getting more fattening with new castes being added to that all the time). When giving reservation based upon caste itself is injustice, what do you say about giving reservations to people who are not economically backward. I mean, in case of A, the person can still lead a decent lifestyle with that salary if not a lavish one. My dad often says, our system is becoming so hopeless, that pretty soon, if there is a 100m Athletic race in India, an athlete from SC/ST category will start from the 50m point and someone from OBCs will start from the 75m point while the General category will be standing all the way back. It might sound funny, but I wont be surprised if they implement that.

I'm sure with the introduction on this new rule, more people will push their cases to include their caste among OBCs, while the General Category people will continue to miss every benefit. As someone who does not belong to any backward community, I am not asking for any benefit or special reservation for general category, but to consider "Merit" as the main factor for providing a reservation, and family income as next main factor. I only wish that some day in the future, the goverment abolishes caste-based reservation...but wait, for a country which is always fighting to go backward, how can the future be in sight?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Early retirement for our cricketers?

Its time for some cricketing action once again with the India-Australia series and I am looking forward to a good contest. What what really grinds my gears is the "Voluntary Retirement Scheme" for the 5 senior cricketers Kumble, Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman. Though this seems to be just hyped up because of the media, it looks the new BCCI committee has laid out this plan.
In my opinion, this is just bullshit. How can anyone decide when one's career ends? Well, in the case of rookies, many of time BCCI decides by totally ignoring them after few initial bad performances, but I dont blame them entirely as there are hundreds of people looking for a spot in the team and only performance matters. I feel the same thing should be done for the senior cricketers too. If you don't perform, we'll drop you approach is fine, but you can't decide when he has to retire. That too when 5 world class players are in question. Well, the BCCI denies it saying its all rubbish, but then how did the media make such a big issue out of it? Though its a known thing that a media makes a mountain out of a molehill, they atleast need a molehill first and I dont think Ganguly's omission for the Irani trophy is any basis for a VRS scheme! Like Bedi says, if ever such a thing happened, it is cricket terrorism!! Atleast for a test series, the presence of a few seniors is needed anyway.

I hope the players dont get distracted by these things and concentrate on their game and I hope we will witness an exciting series!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The story of Joe v/s Angry Parking lot lady

Disclaimer: Joe's name is used only because he was driving the car at the time of the incident. A more apt title would have been story of all of us in the car v/s angry Parking lot lady but the former is more catchy. Sorry Joseph!

How does it feel to pay a lot of money in parking lots when you want to park only for a little while? It hurts right? and it makes us think twice about parking the car in that spot. Well, something similar happened to us a few weeks back.

So we all decided to go on a weekend road trip to Chicago from Knoxville, for my friend's brother's wedding reception. Everything went fine and on Sunday, we decided to explore the city before heading back to Knox. I had 2 things in mind, Sears tower fast elevator and Navy Pier. We couldn't go on the fast elevator but we managed to go fast past the Sears tower as we did not have much time, and the girls were impatient to go to Devon street to look for Salwars, Mehndi and the likes, and eat in some nice south Indian restaurant!!

Anyways, so we head to Navy pier and we were getting lost searching for that place, and even our GPS aunty was getting confused recalculating every time we miss a turn due to either road construction, or heavy traffic. When we finally reached the place, we decided we are gonna stay for no more than 30 mins, and what do we get there? A parking lot charging $24 for 30 mins (or maybe 1st hour) which was ridiculous! But we drove straight to the lady managing the parking lot and Joseph, who was driving, asked the lady if there is any free parking available nearby, and she gave that mean look and said No and pointed towards the parking lot, which we happily ignored and drove past the lot.
After making 1 full round, we were again near the entrance when we saw this place where a few cars were parked inside a gate which opened up, like in the checkposts. We followed a car which was going in and the moment it went in, we tried to rush inside but the gate came crashing down and our car just managed to not get hit by that! In between this adventure, we saw 2 guys taking pics, one of them was giving a pose and other was taking his pic kneeling down and camera facing straight! We ran away from that place before a possible gay porno session was about to start..

So 15 mins, and still no parking, we decided to park it somewhere near but outside the entrance, we did find one asking $16 but still it was too much. So we decided to take one more chance and went inside again, this time as we did not stop near the Parking lot lady but just went past her. Believe me, if I had a chance, I would have captured the look on her face as she saw us pass by! We made another circle but decided to turn and come back the same way we came in, but this time, there were no cars on the road, so we just parked the car there, quickly ran out and took a couple of pics, ran back into the car and headed out again. During this, a tour bus did pass us and I bet the driver was cursing us..anyways, for a 3rd and final time, we passed the parking lady, but this time with our heads held high! She gave us one quick glance and turned back...but I can never forget the look on her face!

We dint have that problem in Devon street and we managed to park the car in one of those small gully roads. For free, thats important! Overall, it was a $23 well saved with enough adventure as a bonus!

PS: Devon St rocks!
PPS: Very happy in my heart to drink sugarcane juice after a long time!
PPPS: Does PS mean Post Script or Please See? Somebody please see and answer!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

If your grandfather hadn't worn it, you wouldn't exist

The above line was printed on a bottle of Old Spice Classic body wash which I happened to buy once. Now, the line kinda ticks me off. How can a soap manufacturing company challenge my very existence in this world?
Now after reading this, should I wake up the spirits of my taathas (grandpas) and ask them who was the one wearing Old Spice body wash in his youthful days in the pre independence era and line maarofying with my respective ammammas (grandmas), thus eventually leading to my existence? Come to think of it, what were the chances our ammammas even saw their husbands before the marriage day? zilch.. or atleast close to it. And in those days, how did it matter if the husband used Old spice or a pack of old spices to wash his body, it did not change anything and a cricket team was still born to them.
Coming to the next generation, I can probably ask my dad if he used Old Spice body wash before marriage, but since it mentioned only Grandfather (why, was Old Spice out of production during the 70's and 80's?), I will skip that.

But now that I exist, I can safely tell that when I get really old and have grandchildren and they come across this post by chance, they will be enlightened to know about their existence ... much before the storks came and dropped them off at their parents doorsteps, and even before their parents met up, their grandfather had once purchased a bottle of Old Spice Classic body wash and worn it...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Now, this is what I call planning..Part 2

Recently saw this ad in the Classifieds section of our university. It goes something like this..

Item/Desc: Greenwood Cemetery - four plots for sale

The plots are valued at $1895 each, but will be sold as a group
of four for $7000. The sites are located in the middle of the
North Knoxville cemetery.

It took me a while to figure out what this guy is trying to sell..was he selling a house plot or a graveyard plot? Now, who will buy a house in the middle of a cemetery unless that person is a ghost..well, I think the idea of ghosts starting to invest in "real" estate seems a bit far fetched. So it must be humans buying graveyard plots.

The US is one place where man really needs to pay a heavy price for his own death, everything is insanely expensive from coffins to funerals to graveyard plots, so looking at it, investing in your own graveyard while you are still alive is not a very bad idea... What is funny though, is the discount offered for buying 4 plots together, so that a family can stay together even after their that is what I call planning..

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