December 29, 2007

The Interview

A man with unshakable integrity and an inherent reservoir of talent will seek out a place of work that recognizes his capabilities and hires him on the basis of his education, past experiences, and potential for growth with no trace of favoritism bestowed upon him. To level the playing field, I chose to apply for new positions through the Internet using job sites such as and I also skimmed through emails sent to the SFU Computing Science jobs list for any interesting opportunities. A few hours were spent applying to a handful of companies with positions meeting my criteria. Within days of my return from my Indian odyssey, I secured an interview with a Vancouver-based firm known as ResponseTek.

My last job interview had taken place over a year ago so I was a little rusty. To regain entry into the working world I would have to rely on my solid credentials and understated charm rather than on providing eloquent and long winded answers to inquiries of my activities, challenges, goals, and other topics frequented by interviewers. A shining example of nature's splendour, I bathed, trimmed the ARNABeard, combed my hair, and dressed myself in business casual attire. I took a cursory glance at the mirror before heading off towards the unknown. After taking public transportation to downtown Vancouver, I wandered the streets until I located the building that contained the head office of ResponseTek Networks.

After being granted entrance into the secure facilities by the receptionist, I was told to have a seat until my interviewer arrived. I composed myself and waited. Minutes later a man introduced himself to me as the Director of Engineering and asked me to accompany him. The interview took place, the details of which I do not remember very clearly apart from the fact that I summed up my educational history and Indian experience to him and other members of his team. After getting a brief tour of the working premises, I gave my customary limp handshake and was guided out.

When I taste some food, I can immediately determine how savoury it is. When I watch a movie, I know when it is engaging and when it is boring. Whenever I view my countenance in the reflective surface of an ARNABabe's dilating pupil as she briefly makes eye contact with me, I can feel the passion erupting in her veins. But when it comes to interviews, I have never been able to accurately judge whether it has been a success or not. As such, I left the ResponseTek premises with no expectations either way.

Days later I received a phone call notifying me that they were ready to offer me a position as a software engineer. The opportunity to join a small but fast growing company where I would play a starring role was quite tempting, and after some deliberation I decided to accept the offer. My job hunting expedition lasted a little over a week, having the good sense to end not long after it had started.

December 14, 2007

SkyTrain Switch

There is usually a 2 to 1 ratio between Expo and Millennium Line SkyTrains leaving from Waterfront Station in Vancouver. An Expo Line train terminates in Surrey while a Millennium Line train does a partial loop through the suburbs before returning to Vancouver. Even though I am hoping for a Millennium Line train to saunter down the tracks, usual an Expo Line train comes my way. As there is a distinctly small chance of a Millennium Line train overtaking the Expo Line trains that have preceded it on the same track, there are two temporally equivalent actions I can take:
  • Get on the present train and switch to my desired one at a later point in time
  • Let this train leave without placing myself within its welcoming interior and wait for the correct one to arrive eventually
One of these two options allows me to reduce my overall risk of being stuck in transit limbo. I want to be as close to my final destination as possible before there is a delay inducing incident aboard a train, at a station, or on the tracks itself. Any or all of these events will happen at least once a week to a daily commuter. My decision then becomes easy. I will get on the Expo Line train and ride it until Columbia Station, after which it will veer off towards Surrey, while I will await a Millennium Line train once more.

One winter evening, I nonchalantly boarded an Expo Line SkyTrain departing from Waterfront Station. I knew it was an Expo Line train since I required a Millennium Line one and I always check the display to see where the train is heading. This information is reconfirmed aboard the train when a soothing female voice announces which line the train is operating on. Usually I power down and go on standby mode until Columbia Station arrives, but on this enchanted night I became aware of my surroundings at an earlier stop as an ARNABabe was standing at the gates of my train compartment in anticipation of going to Surrey. The soothing female voice once again spoke, but this time she mentioned that the train was a Millennium Line one. I was still groggy at the time so the impact of the announcement had not yet dawned on me. The ARNABabe frowned and decided not to embark (having not spotted me). The sliding doors slowly closed and my train sped up, leaving her but a memory.

I was not completely disheartened though as I had discovered I was on a Millennium Line train and would not have to switch trains again. My journey continued, with each successive stop being accompanied by the announcement that this was a Millennium Line train. All was well, until Columbia Station. Now the voice said that this was an Expo Line train. Befuddled, I exited the train and saw others hastily do so as well with sheepish looks on their faces. I decided that I had been right all along in my perception that I was traveling on board an Expo Line train. My conviction was weakened though as two successive Expo Line trains came within the next ten minutes. According to my carefully observed 2:1 Expo to Millennium ratio this should not have occurred as that would mean there were 3 Expo Line trains in a row. The first of the two Expo line trains contained the ARNABabe seated inside, which provided further proof that at some point in the past my train had definitely been a Millennium Line train as the only reason she did not get on was because she wanted to take a ride on the Expo Line. Several minutes later a real Millennium Line came and took me home, but the mystery of the switching SkyTrain was never solved. To this day I wonder where those fateful souls aboard the Millennium/Expo Line train eventually ended up.

December 02, 2007

Back to School

Sixteen long months had passed since I last graced the halls of academia. A firm believer in lifelong learning, I decided to reenter the educational arena upon my return to Canada. I would not return to the atmosphere of excellence provided by my alma mater Simon Fraser University though, as I chose to continue my scholarly endeavours at Kwantlen University College. Taking classes part time would allow me to concentrate on finding a job without the burden of a full course load. In the sinister scenario that my superior skill set was not being adequately appreciated by the marketplace I would have the freedom to scale up on the number of courses I planned to take or scale down if I had become gainfully employed. For the technically inclined, here is the pseudocode for my continuing education algorithm:

Let x = number of courses Arnab is taking

If employed
x = 1

If unemployed but still actively seeking employment
x = 2

x = 4

November 20, 2007

A New Chapter

My career to date is composed of 8 months at of Canada Revenue Agency and one year at Satyam Computers Ltd. One is a Canadian government institution and the other an Indian software giant. One is answerable to the people of a great nation and the other to the hundreds of large companies across the globe that form its client base. One is a slow moving non-profit organization that handles the largest amount of money among any outfit in the country while the other is a fast growing publicly traded multinational firm that handles sensitive data belonging to others. The workplace culture of these two organizations is not as great as appearances might at first indicate. Both have an approximate employee strength of 40,000, multiple office locations spread out over vast distances, relaxed working environments for the legions of cubicle dwellers, and a need to manage large amounts of information securely and efficiently on behalf of third parties. As an employee, I was a small part of a much larger picture.

Just imagine that the picture was much smaller, with me comprising a greater portion of it. Would the picture then not be prettier? So my quest began for obtaining a job with a small company with big ambitions and a need for superior, albeit raw, talent. It also made sense for my third job to be something completely different, with a company that was focused on offering a particular service or on creating a product of their own, rather than according to the mandate of someone else. As I gave it a little more thought, a list of features that I was looking for in a prospective employer emerged.

Basic Requirements:

*Increased amount of responsibility
*Small company with an involved and capable leadership team
*Fast paced work environment with enhanced learning opportunities
*Reasonable working hours so that I can still have time to pursue my varied interests
*Sufficient salary and vacation time to allow me to maintain my princely lifestyle

Additional Features:

*Location with plenty of dining and entertainment options
*Amiable colleagues with distinct personalities
*Miscellaneous environmental stimuli

As I embark on my quest to find enriching employment upon my return to the golden shores of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, it will be interesting to note whether prospective employees will look upon my international experience with favour, indifference, or contempt. With the specifications formalized, a new chapter in the iconic tale that shaped a generation can begin.


“I know not what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
-Isaac Newton

November 19, 2007

A Brief History of Arnab

In June 2006 I graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Science in Computing Science and Business Administration. The sizable female student population of School of Computing Science (12 at its peak) never recovered from the shock, but the SFU Business department embraced my departure by encouraging me to write an article in the student publication called “The Buzz”. The editor at the time was Peter, and a year after our paths diverged he has convinced me to become a contributor to the Work Blog.

The past year was spent in the land of India, where I devoted myself to my work as a software engineer for a large IT company - Satyam Computer Services. These adventures are chronicled in the much admired ARNABlog. After my one year contract had expired, several weeks of travel throughout North Indian and Western Europe followed before I returned to Canada armed with tangible work experience, an inquiring mind, and a sculpted body. Many tales are yet to be told, as old stories are recollected and new adventures unfold.

October 28, 2007

Calicut and Coimbatore

The Indian calendar reflects the richness and variety of the culture appropriately. Festive holidays are sprinkled throughout the year at regular intervals. Whenever one of these holidays came along, I pounced upon them as an opportunity to see more of the country. Everyone usually hurried of to their home towns during these dates, with most of Bangalore at a train or bus station on a Friday night of a long weekend. It was very difficult to find tickets for travel to the large cities or main tourist attractions during these times if I had not planned two or three months in advance. Thus, I would have to go off the beaten path to places such as Calicut and Coimbatore.

An intense 45 minute long flight from Bangalore to Calicut on a small aircraft that carried 40 souls on board was all it took before I was back in "God's Own Country" - Kerala. Calicut's airport was located on rocky highlands a distance away from the actual city which lined a
sandy coastal belt. Outside the airport there were only taxis waiting, so I loitered around until my favourite mode of motorized transport made itself present. After depositing a family of nine at the terminal, an auto rickshaw pulled a quick U-turn and was about to exit the airfield when the driver spotted me. The 19 year old at the wheel of the rickshaw, Kabir, was an amiable fellow. He did not speak English or Bengali, and I did not speak Malaylam or Hindi, but we were still able to communicate somehow.

Once we reached the city I instructed him to take me to a beach front hotel. Unfortunately, it was already fully booked. At each successive property on Calicut's Marine Drive I was rebuffed. Apart from the long weekend crowds there was also a conference being held, so rooms were hard to come by. I was then referred to the finest hotel in town, the Malabar Palace. Although not by the beach, it was centrally located and near the rail station so I decided to stay. After dropping off my travel bag there, Kabir took me back to the beach. We agreed to meet early the next morning, so that he could take me to all the sights in and around Calicut. The rest of day was spent meandering on the beach and soaking up the sun in the gentle company of several Calicuties. The Malabar Festival was in full swing, with many revelers on the beach enjoying the carnival atmosphere late into the night.

When I made my way to the lobby the next morning, Kabir was already there waiting for me. We headed for Beypore, a town 10km south of Calicut. Known for its wooden ships, I visited the port and the ship building yards. There I rented out a motor boat and was given a high speed tour of the port and its surroundings before heading out into the open ocean. After the conclusion of the nautical expedition, we passed through Calicut again, halting shortly at the aquarium, before continuing on to Kappad to the north. The gateway to the Malabar coast, Kappad Beach was the site where Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama landed when he stumbled upon India in search of unimaginable riches and untasted spices. I spent a few hours at the unspoilt beach before being dropped back at the hotel and saying farewell to my local guide.

Calicut to Coimbatore is a short distance with a travel time of only 4 hours by train between them. After my hotel graciously allowed me to stay a couple of hours past my midnight checkout time, I headed to the Calicut train station and caught a sleepy 2:30 am train to Coimbatore. The "Manchester of South India", Coimbatore is a textile town and does not have any must see attractions for a traveler to visit, so I just relaxed and observed daily life in Tamil Nadu's second largest city. I walked around the marketplaces of Kovai, ate a hearty and very spicy meal at a popular eatery, and enjoyed some pongalicious sweets from some Coimbatories before heading back to Bangalore.

October 24, 2007

Arnab Appreciation Days

My contract with Satyam expired on June 13, 2007, a date that marked my one year tenure at the company. Satyam admired my strong work ethic and love for the company and its associates. With glorious joy, my departure from Satyam was celebrated through a series of Arnab Appreciation Days. My humble and approachable nature had made me a popular figure to the employees of the organization, and the endearment was mutual. Tears were shed and fond memories recollected. Goodbyes were said and best wishes exchanged. After serving the company with passion and earnestness, it was time to go our separate ways.

At the farewell ceremonies my new logo was revealed to the public. The stylish "Arnab" word mark with a Bengal tiger proudly perched atop drew rave reviews from the audience at hand during the daring debut. The symbiosis of light and dark, and of man and nature, used the traditional "Arnab" colours of red, black, and white.

October 17, 2007

Blog Action Day

It was Blog Action Day on October 15, 2007 - a day on which over 20,0000 bloggers from around the world would unite to write on a single topic of global interest and personal relevance - the environment. I had signed up to participate in this event but after reaching home using public transportation to minimize my usage of fossil fuels, I discovered my computer was turned off to save electricity so I could not post an entry that day.

"And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world's multitudes should become a source of social good." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá

Future Me

Today I received another interesting email from Arnab Sen. Apparently on Friday, October 17, 2003 past me sent current me a message through FutureMe to be delivered to my inbox in four years time:


Dear FutureMe,

Have I graduated yet?

Love Arnab


My reply on on Wednesday, October 17, 2007:

Dear PastMe,

How were you? You will be delighted to know that I have graduated! I can only assume you meant Simon Fraser University, and not the International Institute of Heartthrobs, but either way I passed with flying colours.

Love Arnab

October 03, 2007

Canteen Angst

In the 8th floor of the Hebbal office of Satyam Computer Services Ltd lies the canteen. Affording stunning vistas of Bangalore, much time is spent on this floor by employees. In particular the view of Hebbal Kere (lake) is fantastic. During the course of my 8 month stay at this office, the lake was systematically drained until it was converted into a puddle. Hundreds of workers were then sent out to clear the lake bed of all the rubbish that had been deposited throughout the ages. Once the trash was removed the lake was to be refilled with clean water, allowing it to regain its original luster.

Apart from enjoying the view, a host of other activities take place here - playing table tennis or carrom, listening to Kannada songs on the radio, watching live cricket matches on television (or old games which India won), socializing with colleagues, and the most dreaded of all - eating the food provided by the caterers. A consistently putrid combination of rice, spice, and assorted gravies is offered to the masses who line up with trays in hand for their daily subsistence. The portions are great in size, but minimal in taste. More enterprising associates try to escape this facility in search of tastier dishes, but do so in vain. Encircled in barb wire fencing and high walls, the office is situated in a secluded business park. A shortcut to Hebbal village through military dairy testing facilities has also been blocked by the authorities. The sole remaining option is a hospital cafeteria located within the same complex. This is not a very palatable option either, although its business has boomed due to the influx of Satyam canteen refugees.

Taking a keen interest in the culinary welfare of my colleagues, I arrived at work earlier than usual one morning so I could attend a food meeting held by the building's corporate services staff at 10 am. They explained that the food was carted in during the morning from outside caterers as government bylaws prevented them from cooking fresh food anywhere but on the ground floor. The point that was driven home to attendees of the meeting was that although the quantity of food provided could be changed, the quality could not. One person mentioned that the food was "C/O the Dustbin" to much applause and synchronized head nodding. Another complained that the canteen teaman had laughed at him when he had pointed out severe deficiencies in the tea making process and had told him that he expected an improved product the next time. He was assured by the corporate services staff that next time there would be no such outburst of laughter.

September 30, 2007

Auto Rickshaws

My primary mode of transportation for intracity travel was the venerable auto rickshaw. Predominantly sporting an yellow and black paint job, these vehicles occupy an unique niche between private vehicles and public transportation. The peculiar shape and sturdy frame allows for it to navigate through dense traffic and diverse terrain without a care in the world. Auto rickshaw drivers are an interesting lot. Their driving skills are usually exceptional, allowing them to maneuver their three-wheeled vehicles through the most treacherous of road conditions. Their business ethics however, are suspect.

Officially only two ways to obtain a fare should be available – prepaid according to some standardized distance chart or according to the untampered meter which is to start running at the precise moment that the journey commences. In reality, it comes down to negotiating a price somewhere above what the actual rate should be. According to them, wherever you are going is either too far or too near, so you have to pay extra for the added effort or sacrifice.

Your destination will also be deserted even if it is the heart of a city with over 5 million people in it. They will have to drive back empty exactly to the point where you were picked up, so that means double the fare on the meter should be paid. If you want to accompany them on this return journey though, the fare again doubles. If it rains (August – November) or gets dark (after 6pm), 1.5 times the meter should be paid due to the personal anguish and physical stress placed upon them during these difficult times. If there is a traffic jam that means they will have to wait idly by without making much headway towards your destination. This will cause them to lose potential customers, so additional financial incentive should be provided.

Only 3 passengers and a driver are allowed by law unless extra moneys are provided. No change will be carried by the rickshaw driver at any time of the day or night, so the fare must be rounded up. Vehicles should only be refueled once a passenger is on board and not during the times when no passenger is present. Tea/coffee/toilet breaks and visits to shops/homes are permissible, but only for the driver. The meter may quite frequently be broken, too slow/fast, completely missing, or a figment of your imagination, so the charge will be greater.

September 06, 2007

Bangalore Burns, Arnab Bleeds

"What are you waiting for?! Run!!!"

I was reeled back into reality from a dreamlike state by my roommate Shyam's screams. Looking around, I saw everyone hurriedly clearing out of the small restaurant I was in. Panic was in the air. Everyone was rushing to the back of the dining room, into the kitchen, and out through the rear exit. I quickly followed them outside into the back yard, which was enclosed on the left and right by neighbouring buildings and by a 8 ft high wall at the back. A "Where's Arnab?" query came from a familiar voice just as I saw Shyam's body disappear over the top of the wall. Several more people followed him over before I too pulled myself to the top of the ledge, using cracks in the wall as leverage to power myself up. I discovered that the distance from the top of the wall to the bottom was almost double that of what I had just climbed on the other side. The descent was not even mildly pleasurable, although it did create a healthy distance between myself and my pursuers. I slid downwards along the face of the wall before letting go and landing on the ground beneath. A sprint through deserted back alleys and over some rail lines would lead us back to the safety of our flat.

Moments ago, a man with a motorcycle had come in through the front entrance of the Fraser Town eatery I had been dining in, warning everyone that an angry mob was fast approaching and to get out as soon as possible. The front shutters were pulled down as sounds of rapidly approaching footsteps, threatening shouts, thrown rocks, and heavy pounding were heard on the outside. At this critical juncture in time I had put down the food I was eating, stood up, paused, heard Shyam yelling, saw people fleeing, and joined them in beating a hasty retreat.

Once I had caught my breath, I checked to see if my comrades were alright and then examined my wounds. I had scraped my arms when I had grazed the wall, with the area between my arms and elbows bleeding from several lacerations. My skin, a surface so far left unblemished by the actions of man now bore the scars of communal violence, but the injuries were mainly superficial. Questions still remained to be answered though. ARNABlood had been shed tonight, but for what and by whom?

Did You Mean...?

When a user searches for "arnablog" on Google a surprise awaits them. The world's favourite search engine's suggests that the future ARNABlog reader may be better off perusing "arseblog" instead:

August 31, 2007

BlogDay 2007

Some of the items that come up frequently in ARNABlog posts are school, work, travel, India, and quotes. As today is Blog Day, I would like to recommend one blog in each of these categories:

Rate Your Students
  • This blog which looks at academic life from the perspective of professors. The viewpoints of those who are supposed to teach are quite different from the ones of those who are supposed to learn.
Overheard in the Office
  • The "Voice of the Cubicle" is a collection of humorous fragments of conversations collected by colleagues, customers, and other eavesdroppers.
Brave New Traveler
  • Informative articles for the intrepid adventurer as they wander the Earth.
A Wide Angle View of India
  • Provides a thoughtful commentary on a range of pressing issues that India faces today.
A Blog Around the Clock
  • The few lines that make up a memorable quote often resonate stronger than complete novels. The "Clock Quotes" section of this blog serves up a few timeless ones.
"Take time to gather up the past so that you will be able to draw from your experience and invest them in the future." - Jim Rohn

August 30, 2007

4 High Street

Now a popular tourist attraction, during my days in Bangalore I lived at 4 High Street in an area called Cooke Town. The maroon coloured apartment complex was protected by a pair of vigilant security guards who were capable of being present at any time of the day or night. For an additional fee they would also wash the vehicles of the other tenants of the complex. On the second floor on the third story (as ground floor is zero) of the building was my flat. There was a large lobby with sofa and TV, a balcony, a kitchen, and 3 bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms held 3 paying guests each, while the more expensive bedroom had two occupants. Each bedroom contained an attached bathroom, TV, beds, and cabinets. There was also a washing machine, ironing board, malfunctioning water filter, and maid for all of us to share. I was in one of the three person rooms. The rooms were sparsely decorated save for a sign taped to the wall warning us of all that we could not do.

Over the 8 months that I lived there I met an interesting cast of characters. At any one time the flat could accommodate 8 paying guests. The average period of stay per person was a couple of months, so a great many guests rotated through High Street during my stay. By the time I left I was third in seniority. Unsurprisingly, most of my flatmates were Indians, with 10-12 whom I spent time with and around 5-7 souls who did not interact with anyone not related to them or working with them. They came from many different states - Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Punjab. The rest of my flatmates were either Dutch (4), Mexican (1), Brazilian (1), British (1), or French (1). There were dentists, lawyers, interns, and software engineers. There were Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, and some who did not believe in anything one way or another. Some were married, some had girlfriends, some were engaged, some were not interested, some were searching vigorously, and some were hoping for a miracle. Some were extras in Bollywood films or contestants on Indian Idol. Some were friends, some were acquaintances, some were strangers, but all were my flatmates.


Apart from its signature dish biryani, the other Hyderabadi delicacy that I experienced was haleem. This thick and succulent concoction is widely available during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The meat and wheat treat is available everywhere from upscale restaurants to the local mosque at this time of the year. ARNABride candidates are free to practice cooking haleem at home, with the aid of this recipe provided by NDTVCooks:

250 gm mutton/lamb
1 cup wheat-soaked overnight, drained, pounded & husked
1 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp turmeric 1 tbsp channa dal- soaked for 1/2 hour
1 tbsp moong dal-soaked for 1/2 hour
1 tbsp masoor dal-soaked for 1/2 hour
1 tsp coriander powder
2 onions-sliced and fried crisp
4 tbsp ghee
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
salt to taste

Take a heavy-bottomed vessel and heat 8 cups of water in it. When the
water starts boiling put in the drained dal, wheat and mutton along with
the ginger garlic paste, coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder and

Cook over slow fire till the mutton is tender then mash the mutton.

To this mixture add the crushed fried onion. Heat the ghee and pour it
over the Haleem.

Sprinkle lemon-juice before serving - serve hot.

Bengaluru Tigers

Waking up to see the sun shining through our curtains on a Sunday afternoon, two of my flatmates and I decided to go on a road trip to Bannerghata National Park. After heading to the Ulsoor Lake swimming pool and picking up a bald headed Belgian, we set off on the one hour drive to our destination. On Bannerghata Road we passed by two prominent local institutions - the Indian Institute of Management (IIM-B) and the Forum Shopping Mall - one for study and one for play. After taking a wrong turn we consulted the locals and were given directions to our destination. When we arrived at the 25,000 acre zoological park the crowds at the entrance were already large. Most were waiting to board the buses that would take them inside the popular lion and tiger enclosures.

Busy trying to identify potential ARNABombshells in the crowd, time flew by for the four of us and before we knew it our foray into the wild had begun. We boarded the bus and sat in any available seats we could find as the safari began. The Bengaluru Tiger came face to face with his counterpart in the animal kingdom. A Bengal tiger blocked the path in front, pausing momentarily to allow everyone to take a few snapshots, before slowly circling around us. The bus had metal grates across the windows for protection from the magnificent creature, so fear could give way to admiration. The same could be said for the tiger outside, with its muscular orange and black form and regal carriage. Several other tigers also appeared as our journey progressed. The lions we encountered were not as forthcoming, preferring to laze in water holes and not approach the bus as closely as the tigers had. They were also very thin and appeared to be chronically undernourished. There had been reports in the media of misappropriation of funds earmarked towards the welfare of the animals in Bannerghata. Rumour had it that some of the park staff had been taking home the tender and juicy strips of meat meant to feed the lions and having a nice feast at home with the family instead.

The park also contained a zoo within it complete with reptile park and aviary. Soon after we entered though closing time was upon us. Friendly park officials encouraged us to get out. We complied, but not before catching a glimpse of feeding time. Large snakes were given live rabbits for dinner while the smaller ones were busy swallowing rodents. It was an engrossing experience where the line between man and nature was as thin as it could be in a controlled environment.

August 20, 2007


Date: March 2007
Location: Outskirts of Bangalore
Event: Private Party

Due to my status as an international icon I generously made an appearance at a farmhouse party being thrown in Whitefield by a fellow intern, on the far eastern fringe of Bangalore city. After finding an auto, having it run out of fuel, going to the bathroom (indoors), finding another auto, arriving at what we thought were the premises only to have it be an intersection, and then sitting on a canister of gas in the rear storage compartment of a shared taxi, it was not too long before we reached the location.

Upon arrival, we followed a trail leading to a small treehouse-like complex where all the guests had congregated. With around a hundred people already in attendance, this area was quite crowded with lots of drinking and dancing going on all around me. As a devout non-dancer and frequent teetotaler, I was out of my element and frantically looked for a safe zone where I could place myself. I spotted some tables that had been left near the balcony. I gracefully glided in behind them, planning to relax and enjoy the rest of the night. I found quite a few bottles of rum and various soft drinks situated around me. By now darkness had fallen and the crowds were getting heavier. Soon people were accosting me and asking me to pour them drinks. It appeared I had taken the place of three no-show bartenders and had positioned myself as the preferred beverage provider for the party.

As I mention in my cover letters when I am applying for any jobs, I am a fast learner who can quickly pick up new skills. Soon I was simultaneously mixing drinks into many glasses at once, making small talk, and looking devastatingly gorgeous. The ARNABar was open for business. The ARNABeauties all complimented me on my newfound abilities and old world charm, while their male companions scowled at me and complained that the rum was no good. The rum in question was Super Jack Rum (from the makers of Super Jack Brandy and Super Jack Gin), and tasted better with each subsequent glass. At 6am the next morning I was finally able to go home and rest after a hard night's work.

August 17, 2007

ARNABlog Fan Club!

Never one to praise myself, the legions of ARNABoys and ARNABettes have taken it upon themselves to compliment me. My writing has been compared to that of an English Literature student and my physical appearance to a work of art. With such a groundswell of support it was only a matter of time before the collective appreciation of all things Arnab would manifest itself on a larger platform. Facebook, which has often been referred to as the Arnab of the social networking world, would prove to be just that. Rishi, ardent fan and one time coordinator of the Satyam Crossover exchange program which I was a proud participant of, created the ARNABlog Fan Club as a Facebook group and invited me to join. For those of you on Facebook, I also extend the same opportunity:

Join the ARNABlog Fan Club

"Arnablog needs no words of eulogy and praise from me. In fact I can hardly find out sufficient and suitable words which can be used either to describe it or to praise it adequately from my poor vocabulary. The notes of Arnaboss are perhaps of greater emotional appeal to his innumerable fans (Arnabelievers) than his rare speech. Arnablog could really be called " all in one", " all in all", and "all and all" as it offers everything from Arnabiology to Arnabuzz." - Rishi raves about the ARNABlog

August 05, 2007

Gmail Grievances

In the early days of Gmail's existence, I was able to obtain an email address that corresponded to my name - Arnab Sen. My namesakes were not very pleased with this turn of events although they were good sports about it, as I recently received this message in my inbox:

Hi Arnab,

I thought you are a decent person. But you let me down completely. You should have considered my welfare before blocking arnab.sen[at] for your personal use. I had a talk with other 'Arnab Sen' holding ' sen.arnab' Gmail id and he said that you deprived him of his preferred id too. Why did you do that Arnab, why? It's a crime on humanity and I have no words to despise this act. Now I have to carry the burden of a numerical one within my email id. It seems that I am thrown into eternal darkness with no way out.

Do reply,

Arnab Sen

June 03, 2007

Decision Time

With only a few weeks left on my current contract with Satyam, I now have to decide what to do next. Options include extending with Satyam, searching for a different job here in India, back in Canada, or somewhere else altogether, traveling, or pursuing further studies. No clear favourite has emerged as yet, although I am willing to continue my stay in India.

There is something special about this land and its people, that even with an exceptionally long list of interrelated problems and challenges to face, both man made (overpopulation, poverty, corruption, lack of infrastructure, communal violence, …) and otherwise (monsoon, heat waves, mosquitoes, …), I still have a desire to remain for some more time.


Some nice sayings I have stumbled upon while pondering my future:

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”
- W.H. Davies, from "Leisure"

"The true tragedy of a routinely spent life is that its wastefulness does not become apparent till it is too late." - Amitav Ghosh

“The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as long as we live.” - Mortimer Adler

“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”- Eric Hoffer

“80 percent of the problems in your life come from wanting what you don’t have. The other 20 percent come from getting it.” - Unknown

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A child leaves the womb, his hometown, his country, each time gaining greater understanding, altering his actions to some degree based on these new experiences and insights, and perhaps becoming a transforming element of society around him.” - Dan Glass

A Tale of Two Cities

My yearlong odyssey has been split between Hyderabad (~5 months) and Bangalore (~7 months). Recently I returned to Hyderabad to sort out some paperwork issues, and this allowed me to reflect on the two cities that I have called home during the past year. Both cities have their pros and cons. If the best facets of each city were taken and combined to create a new fictional city, Hydralore, and the worst parts were used to create another, Bangabad, I wonder which real world cities they would most resemble.


· Lots of events such as concerts, plays, etc (Bangalore)
· Rich cultural heritage with a blend of ancient and the modern (Hyderabad)
· Scenic hangouts (Hyderabad)
· Multicultural atmosphere (Bangalore)
· Salubrious climate (Bangalore)
· Thriving IT industry (Bangalore/Hyderabad)
· Varied shopping options (Bangalore)
· Multiple modes of public transportation (Hyderabad)
· Mixed accommodation (Hyderabad)


· Pollution and traffic congestion (Bangalore)
· Unscheduled but predictable power outages (Bangalore)
· Relatively high cost of living (Bangalore)
· Early closing times for commercial establishments (Hyderabad/Bangalore)
· Wild dogs prowling the street (Bangalore)
· Extreme heat (Hyderabad)
· Lack of infrastructure and unplanned urban sprawl (Bangalore)
· Riots (Bangalore)
· Explosions (Hyderabad)
· Unscrupulous auto rickshaw drivers (Bangalore)

April 30, 2007

The Bus Jump

At 7pm sharp each working day I leave my office and head towards the area where the Satyam busses are parked. This location changes occasionally to add an element of surprise. None of the company buses have dropping points near my residence, so I have resorted to taking the bus whose route comes nearest to the venue for my fine dining or other entertainment that I have planned for that night. As these are not on the official list of drop points, the bus drivers are reluctant to stop. Sometimes they slow down enough for me to elegantly leap of the bus and make a graceful landing on the surface of the road. Sometimes they only appear to be decelerating, before picking up the pace.

Such was the case, when I departed a bus in a section of town known as RT Nagar (named after the brilliant Rabindranath Tagore) to play a friendly game of pool with my eager colleague Kartik. Misjudging my angle and time of departure from the bus, I landed on the street knees first, lost my balance, fell, then revolved three times on the ground, before springing back up and striking a heroic pose to placate the souls of my female fans who were seated at the front of the bus and witnessed the whole spectacle with eyes wide and mouths open, concern for my well being clearly etched across their demure faces. Meters away the bus came to a halt and out jumped my coworker. Heroically, he came to my rescue, cleaning my wounds and nursing me back to health over the course of the next few hours.

“You’re a puff.” – British roommate upon examining the extent and severity of my injuries.

Water Shortage

Electricity is a wonder that occasionally graces the city of Bangalore, but water has been a much more stable resource. So far only once have I been left out to dry. After waking up and taking a look in the mirror, I turned on the tap so I could wash my face. It did not elicit a response. Frustrated, I tried the other water sources in the bathroom. Toilet – no flush. Shower – no sprinkle. Bucket – empty. Adapting to the situation using my sharp survival skills, I had to take a shower and brush my teeth using my one litre bottle of packaged drinking water.

Men in Saris

Out of the many categories of less fortunate people in India (the old, the young, the unhealthy, the mistreated, the frequently impregnated, …), the one that is the most forward in their requests for money are the Men in Saris (MIS’s). Frequently they attempt to make physical contact with me, stroking my face or other significant landmarks on my body. The MIS’s also have a unique clapping technique which they use to signal their arrival and consequent demand for compensation.

Draped in traditional Indian clothing, each of these (wo)men possess muscles comparable to what 10 regular Indian men enjoy, and can be very menacing. As their unique position in society prevents them from getting regular jobs, they have turned to alternate means of funding their subsistence. Whenever I am approached by beggars I give them food if I have it, but I never give them money. I usually receive several colourful epithets and a scowl in return for my lack of financial generosity.

Those with a superstitious mindset have suggested that the MIS’s may have instigated the birds against me, which would explain my frequent aerial attacks. In one week, I was victimized twice - a pair of brown nuggets on a blue shirt and a white stain on a beige shirt, bringing the total count to 6 overhead attacks.

April 28, 2007

Too Much SAX

Usually a taboo subject, this was the first time SAX was discussed in my presence at the office. Needless to say, my tender sensibilities were not spared.


The Setting: Conference room, Satyam office

The Actors: Arnab, Reporting Manager (RM), Software Engineering Trainees #s 1-12 (SE)

The Script:

RM: Hello, today we will discuss SAX. Does everyone understand what SAX is?
SE 1-12 (in unison): Yes, sir.
RM (to Arnab): Do you know SAX?
Arnab: No. I have never studied SAX.
RM (to SE 3): Send Arnab documentation about SAX.
SE 3: Yes, sir.
RM: Explain what is SAX.
SE 9: SAX can be used to send data in a unidirectional stream.
RM: What are the benefits of SAX?
SE 4: SAX is fast and efficient.
RM: From now on, SAX will be our first priority.
SE 1-12 (in unison): Yes, sir.
RM: Practice with SAX whenever you have some available time.
SE 1-12 (in unison): Yes, sir.
RM: Dismissed.

The End


Technical Information (from Wikipedia): SAX is a serial access parser API for XML and its name is acronymically derived from "Simple API for XML". A SAX Parser handles XML information as a stream and is unidirectional, i.e. it cannot renegotiate a node without first having to establish a new handle to the document and reparse. With that proviso in mind, however, the SAX parser, since it works in stream mode, is unquestionably faster than its sibling the DOM parser.

April 26, 2007

Chang and I

One of my favourite roommates at my Cooke Town apartment was Chang. Recently he moved from Bangalore and returned to his hometown. He accompanied the Bengaluru Tiger on many outings, ranging from fine dining to special events. His blog, the Buddha Soliloquies, describes three of our adventures together - one day trip, one concert, and one air show. I have taken excerpts from there and added a brief comment at the bottom of each.



"Sravanabelagoda is the first destination. Six hundred and eighteen steps are all it takes to get the top of the hillock to get a glance of the temple and the famous Jain statue. Six eighteen is a large number, and palkhis [palanquins] are available. In true adventurous & religious spirit, I intend to conquer those six hundred & eighteen steps (that I don’t have money to spare for the palkhi is irrelevant banter). The sluggishness of daily life & the sins of zero exercising catches up when only on the 50th step itself, the lungs are screaming for air, the feet are trembling and buckling under their own weight. But grit and determination (and a resolve not to embarrass myself) gets me going anew to the summit. The statue of the Jain Tirthankara stands at 58 feet, much smaller than I expect it to be. One of the largest monoliths in the world, it depicts a naked God with stone vines growing from a rock around him onto his thighs. The posture – erect. The expression – serene. The view from the top? Breathtaking – literally!!!!

The descent is deceptive. Though it looks easy, it is so easy to trip & go rolling down the hill. No Jack & Jill here. One tumble and hello Humpty-Dumpty. As always, hordes of hawkers selling everything from postcards to chess boards to imitation Ganeshas storm troop me. A cold, indifferent glance is all they get…

Surprisingly good noodles for lunch in a South Indian restaurant pave the path to Belur and Halebid. Both these places could pass off as the poor-man’s Hampi. The temples belong to the same dynasty and the same time period, hence the uncanny similarity in the architecture. From a distance, I can’t tell one from the other, but a closer look at the thousands of stone human figures, elephants, warriors, Gods and Goddesses adorning the temple clearly sets a clearer picture. The sculpted inner & outer walls of the temple tell a tale of dedication and sheer hard work by the craftsmen. Each figure is carved to perfection and straining to come to life any moment.

Each figure carries a different story, sometimes amusing, sometimes amazing and sometimes downright insane. Like how once Lord Vishnu was so pissed with a demon that he literally ripped the skin off his face [a la autopsy]. Also, how the word GOD actually stands for the Holy Hindu Trinity –

G - Generator (Brahma)
O – Operator (Vishnu)
D – Destroyer (Shiva)

That one has me rolling on the floor.

Journeys back home after an enjoyable trip are never happy ones, knowing that the getaway from the mundane daily routine has come to an end. The tired body has taken a beating, and it calls it a day."

Arnab's Notes: Being a physical specimen, I was not overly exhausted by this day trip, although the intricacy of the carvings at Halebid did overwhelm my finer senses.



"An evening of perfection
An evening of mastery
An evening of pure magic!

I expect no lesser in a jugalbandi between Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, sarod maestro, and Ustad Zakir Hussain, tabla virtuoso. 2nd March brings "The Tribute to Bangalore" concert. Chaotic traffic and poor parking arrangements are the venue’s decorations, but once inside the mind is set to rest. Ustad Amjad Ali explains how both haven’t had the time to rehearse their show, how they shall play according to each other [a gift of years of dedication & practice] – hence the amalgam music produced is birthed only once and never repeated. The perfect symphony between the two is the stuff of legends. The beautiful rendition surprisingly sounds like impending doom, melancholy, the advent of monsoon and joy all at once. The snail paced compositions pick up tempo to reach a frenzied crescendo. Sure, for a carnatic music ignoramus like me, it is tough to tell one composition from the other but surprisingly, I find myself swaying to this form of music too. Whenever the performance begins to get monotonous, the Ustads conjure a magic-trick from their infinitesimal repertoire that has us cheering and applauding with gay abandon. It is pure bliss to sit there and imbibe the renditions. Three hours pass by quickly in a haze of bliss & wide-eyed wonder."

Arnab's Notes: My second classical concert in India, but the first where true masters were playing. Enjoyable to the ear and soothing to the soul.



"I get to visit The Aero-India show 2007 due to the persistence of a fellow enthusiast. Passes are hard to get by (sold out two weeks supposedly) and we ride off in the eternal hope of getting them at the venue. The ride is long, and the bike unresponsive to the strains of high speed. We finally make it by 10:30 AM and secure tickets too. By the time we get in, a few parachuting maneuvers are all that we have missed. What follows is truly delighting. Choppers and fighter jets whizzing around the display arena at high speeds, performing dangerous and high “aaaaaah” quotient maneuvers. Throughout the event, there is a running informative commentary about the Aircrafts, the pilots having these beauties at their command and the skills required to make possible their majestic flight. It is another matter altogether that with the Jets crossing the sound barrier repeatedly and creating ear-splitting noise, it becomes virtually impossible to hear most of it. Apt music (part military style, part rock) adds to the overall ‘feel’ of the event. The prominent aircrafts on display are the C-17 Boeing, the MIG 29, Sukhoi, LTA, BEL 407, F-16 Viper, Tejas LCA, IJT, Saras heli-team, among others. Truly impressive!"

Arnab's Notes: This aerial spectacle was serene compared to my other avian encounters, but still spectacularly entertaining. Lots of stylish maneuvers were performed, such as a diagonal crisscross among a pair of helicopters coming from one direction and another one flying in a perpendicular direction right between the other two.

ARNABabe: Definition Clarification

Some loyal readers pondered as to whether there was a distinction between the terms ARNABombshell, ARNABabe, and ARNABride, as traditionally they have been used interchangeably in both literature and spoken word. Linguistically there is a distinction between these expressions that may not be readily apparent.

ARNABombshell is an umbrella term that can be used to refer to either the rare ARNABride or to any potential candidates I encounter on my quest for this eternal beauty. ARNABride is the title of my yet to be discovered wife. A high percentage of willing candidates will not be able to attain the coveted designation of ARNABride (aka Mrs. Arnab). These ladies of gentle birth and considerable dignity comprise the ARNABabes. In mathematical terms the union of ARNABride and ARNABabes comprise the set of ARNABombshells.

In related news, former leading ARNABride contender Aishwarya Rai was taken off the market after her marriage to actor Abhishek Bachchan. On the bright side I am now the undisputed most eligible bachelor in India.


“One man's folly is another man's wife.” - Helen Rowland

April 09, 2007

Checklist of an Indian Mother

Based on a hypothetical survey conducted during my travels through India and asking a representative sample of Indian mothers what are the most important characteristics that she looks for in a man when searching for a suitable husband for her beloved daughter(s). The following are the results in no particular order:

* Comes from a good family
* Deliciously handsome and fair skinned
* Intelligent
* Responsible
* Based in North America
* Aware of language, culture, and traditions
* Educated overseas
* Mild mannered
* Works in software field
* Morally sound

The Prince of Honour passes with flying colours! Unfortunately it is still a mystery what the Indian daughter seeks.

March 29, 2007

Travel Yup

After filling in a short questionnaire on the travel website World66, I was provided with an automatically generated travel type. I am a “Travel Yup”, which has the following definition:

"The Travel Yup likes exotic and adventurous travel, but prefers big cities with fast paced life. He has a keen interest in other cultures and always brings home a few souvenirs. Shopping in Bangkok, getting a tailor made suite in Kuala Lumpur, that's the kind of thing the Travel Yup is into. Even though he likes to get away, he prefers his travels to be comfortable."

All in all, quite an accurate overview of the Indo-Canadian Temptation.

March 23, 2007

The Office

The Work

I work in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) unit of the mighty Consulting and Enterprise Solutions (CES) department. It is the pride and joy of Satyam Computer Services Ltd. Whenever a client, whether local or international, has some business requirement for Satyam to implement, a project team is formed to devise and deliver the finished product. Based on the stage of the development lifecycle the project team grows and shrinks. Some associates work on more than one project concurrently. Some do not work on any, much to their delight or chagrin. In Hyderabad, I received training on a PLM product known as Agile, while in Bangalore I was expected to first shadow the team to see how they work on a real project and then be gradually phased in to actually performing the development tasks myself. So far I have worked on one project for an aerospace company. I also attend team meetings and lunchs with astonishing regularity. As a highly motivated individual, the remaining time I have been increasing my knowledge base by studying the Indian business, cultural, and natural landscape, as well as improving my technical competencies in areas such as Java Server Pages (JSP) and Extensible Markup Language (XML).

The Environment

A clinical grey and white atmosphere with rows and rows of cubicles and diligent workers focused on completing the task assigned to them by their reporting manager (RM). Based on the client and technology that is the focal point of the work, the cubicles are further separated by dividers. Each of these cubicle clusters is then known lovingly as an Offshore Development Centre (ODC).

The Cast & Crew

A team of "freshers" or new recruits with 0-2 years of experience do most of software development, with more experienced experts offering advice and guidance when needed. Always busy, these meek young fellows rarely interact with me. A group of mid level associates are responsible for tasks such as writing proposals, design documents, and estimation. Busy only occasionally, these older gentlemen are friendlier towards me, taking great interest in my tales of travel and daily survival. The RM is primarily responsible for coordinating the efforts of the team and assigning work, as well as being a contact point for the client for whom Satyam is working on a project for. My RM is a fatherly figure who sees his task as not only involving managing the day to day activities of the team, but in nurturing the careers of the younger employees.
Security guards man each entrance point into the office complex, ensuring that unsavory characters are not able to enter or leave Satyam premises. Meanwhile a brigade of blue shirt wearing office boys perform their daily duties admirably. The elevator button pushers though are not nearly as impressive, and are often found sleeping on the job.

The Motivation

Almost universal is the desire to be sent overseas or "onsite", particularily to the United States of America, as this is seen as the ultimate career enhancing move. The motivation is primarily financial as being remunerated in dollars, pounds, or Euros provides a significant increase in the pay scale of the regular rupee collecting associate. Where previous generations who moved from India in search of greener pastures were quite likely to settle overseas, the new generation still visualizes themselves as going overseas to make a living, not a life. Almost all the youth I have spoken to say they will work overseas for a few years accumulating enough wealth to comfortably live in India for the rest of their days, and then return to the mother land.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Where Did All the Autos Go?

One sunny Bangalore morn I dressed up smartly in my carefully selected business casual outfit and proceeded for work. Having exited my flat and reaching the main street upon which I hail auto rickshaws with only the use of my intense gaze, I noticed a strange occurrence – the complete absence of these three wheeled vehicles on the road. Dazed and confused, I waited half an hour to no avail. The rickshaws were nowhere to be seen. Otherwise daily life was unfolding regularly, so I deduced the rickshaws must be on strike. To confirm my educated guess I returned home and checked the news on the television. Sure enough, the rickshaw drivers were on strike in protest of police cruelty or some other preposterous claim. Now my only remaining option to get to work was to use the public transportation system. Changing into some unwashed and decidedly less glamorous clothes, I waddled towards the bus station. Three buses and an hour and a half later I arrived at my work place, only a little worse for wear.

Satyam Crossover Party

Reeling from the phenomenal success of the Crossover internship program, Satyam decided to host a Christmas party for all its international trainees. The event was held in Hyderabad where Satyam is headquartered and the bulk of the trainees (around 60) are located. Those in Chennai (around 10) and in Bangalore (around 5) were offered train or bus fare to and from the party destination. I gallantly accepted the offer and attended the event.

As the national highway between Bangalore and Hyderabad was purported to be a smooth ride, I chose to take a sleeper bus. The interior of the bus was a direct replica of a second class air conditioned (2AC) compartment of a regular train, with one notable exception – the lack of a toilet. An overnight journey on well paved roads and the lack of urine aroma allowed me to sleep in peace. Half an hour before my arrival in Hyderabad, I was awoken by my bowels. In urgent need to empty my digestive tracts, I elegantly slid of my bunk, loosened my belt buckles, looked uncomfortable, unsuccessfully searched for the aforementioned onboard facilities, and then approached the bus driver. A follower of the Vulcan maxim “"the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one", the bus driver rejected my appeal for a bathroom break as we had almost arrived at our destination. The first stop could not come soon enough. As I leaped out of the bus a horde of awaiting rickshaw drivers curiously inquired as to where I wanted to go. “Public toilet!”, I said. Soon I felt relief, regained my stoic composure, and headed to my old flat in Banjara Hills.

Sporting the newest incarnation of the ARNABeard – a French cut with the sideburns smoothly connecting with the main facial hair segment (also known as a short box beard) – and a stylish velvet jacket borrowed from a Belgian friend, the city was abuzz with the return of the Hyderabadi Heartthrob. Having wined, dined, and reclined with a bevy of international beauties over the weekend, it was soon time for me to return to Bangalore. The journey in this direction was not as tumultuous.

Mosquito Bites

On my first day in India I was attacked by a squadron of bloodsucking mosquitoes. Left in an almost comatose state, each bite zone swelled up to the size of a ripe mango. Mosquitoes have a propensity for my sweet untainted blood. It is a savory delight which they feast upon with increasing frequency. At first I thought I was the meal of choice because I was the new treat in town, but eight months later the mosquitoes remain just as fond of my succulent blood as ever. My recovery time from the bites has drastically increased though. The initial agony from the bite is just as intensely painful as before, but within 12-24 hours I no longer notice any itchiness in the affected region. Legend has it that mosquitoes are universally attracted to a rare collection of individuals who possess a divine love scent. To counteract this effect, some victims have taken up smoking or prescribing to medications that make them smell like cabbage. As a man with considerable self respect, I have taken neither of these precautionary measures.

On a related note, the company bus arrives at the office half an hour before the departure time. During this period it keeps its doors wide open. By the time it is ready to leave a squad of bloodsuckers has positioned itself inside. During the journey home, my head is surrounded by a cluster of mosquitoes while the rest of the occupants merrily listen to their MP3 players, chat with their colleagues, or pretend to sleep. I have yet to determine if locals have been bitten so much that they instantaneously heal from the bites or if the mosquitoes have no interest in them when I am available.


On a Friday night I met up with a group of 13 Europeans. The approximate breakdown was 6 Dutch, 1 German, 1 Italian, 2 English, 1 Belgian, 1 French, and 1 Hungarian. Together we departed for north Goa on a two story bus, where the top deck consisted of mattresses and the bottom one of reclining seats. Always a gentleman, I took one of the less comfortable seats with my head grazing the bottom of the bunk positioned above me. 14 hours later we arrived in Panjim, Goa. From there the group split into two, with some settling down in Calangute and some in Vagator, but then meeting later on for joint escapades. The first of these locations, Calangute, offers a long stretch of sandy beach with overpriced activities on offer such as parasailing and jet skiing, while the other, Vagator, is known more for parties but has a rockier beach.

The first day was spent learning how to ride a motorized bike. The Europeans looked down at me as I can only drive an automatic vehicle and have no experience with gears. I rented a scooter, a Honda Activa, and after a few practice rounds and one close encounter with physical disfigurement, was soon off and running. At high speeds (30kph) I was comfortable, but I was very bad at maintaining balance and maneuvering through high traffic areas. Due to my minimal velocity and lack of driving skills, at one point I was leading a caravan of around 70 cars, trucks, bullock carts, etc down the main street linking the two beach destinations. I pulled over and went inside a street side restaurant. After watching India’s cricket team play miserably against Bangladesh for one hour, I noticed that the traffic had subsided and thus continued on my journey. At night we proceeded to Club Cabana, where the young, rich, and beautiful gathered for a night of fun and frolic. The theme was “Model’s Night”. I spotted two scantily dressed ones (or was it 4?). Apparently India’s most legendary superstar Amitabh Bachchan was present for all of 35 seconds at this fancy establishment, situated on a hilltop overlooking the Goan countryside.

Day 2 was a continuation of the first night’s party. Thoroughly inebriated and unable to drive my scooter back to my hotel, I shared a cab back to my place with the French lady and a middle aged couple who were still young at heart. Around noon, I awoke, had lunch, and picked up my scooter, before heading off for the beach. A hearty game of beach soccer was played and I put on a dazzling display of my defensive skills, stripping the opposition of the ball and blocking shots with equal vigor. While the others were sunbathing, I proceeded to climb up a nearby hill. The ruins of a fort and a magnificent view awaited me. Apparently this was also the location of a famous scene from the Hindi movie Dil Chahta Hai. A 65 year old Bob Marley fan offered me a strawberry, clasped my hand and pounded it against his chest, and advised me to “Live free”. The second night ended with a trek down the hillside to the beach, only to discover that it was almost entirely gone due to the high tide. We retreated and after considerable effort and teamwork, created a beachside bonfire. Soon everyone fell quiet and underneath the starry sky contemplated their place in the annals of history. Meals consisted of hearty amounts of seafood and liquid intake was primarily alcoholic. Before heading back to Bangalore, I sampled the Goan poison known as feni in two distinct flavors – coconut and cashew, with coconut winning the taste sweepstakes. All in all, a most wondrous experience!

January 20, 2007

Third Bird

For the third time in as many months I was victimized by avian attackers. On this occasion, I was taking a leisurely stroll in a particularly desolate section of Hebbal surrounding my workplace when suddenly my vision was partially obscured. I staggered around before discovering a caramel colored gelatinous substance on my left spectacle. I found a leaf nearby and attempted to wipe my glasses clean, only to smudge the brown stain across the whole surface of the lens. A benevolent coworker came to my assistance and provided me with a napkin, which I promptly utilized to rectify my optical issues.

January 19, 2007

Holiday Season

Pre-Christmas weekend was spent carousing with Koreans. We ate Korean food, watched the film Kabul Express, and went to a temple. This site, located in idyllic Kemp Fort near the airport, is open 24 hours a day and contains a large Ganesha idol and an even larger Shiva statue. It is accessed through the rear entrance of a mall that claims to house the largest kid’s store in the world!

For my Christmas holidays, I returned to West Bengal and met up with my aunt, uncle, and cousin’s family. Together we went to Darjeeling, famous for its tea and situated in a very scenic location nearby the Himalayas with an elevation of about 7000 ft. Although foggy for most of my stay, I was able to glimpse the Kangchenjunga mountain range, containing the third highest mountain on Earth. From the airplane, I was able to view the complete range in all its magnificence from above. I was able to ride the steam powered toy train from Darjeeling to the nearby town of Ghum. This included crossing the Batasia Loop, an engineering marvel where the train completes a 360 degree turn to get up a steep path. Other activities included visiting the Nepalese border at Fatak, picnicking at the lake town of Mirik, going to a rock garden, checking out Buddhist monasteries, and learning how to play pool with my cousin’s son.

Post-Christmas, I came back to Bangalore on December 31st. As a refined man of the world, I try to attend various cultural events. Bangalore has a large community of artists and musicians so on New Year’s Eve I attended an art exhibition called Chitra Santhe and on New Year’s Day I witnessed a classical musical performance at Garuda Mall, one of the city’s largest shopping and entertainment complexes. My friendly flatmate Chang, destined to be one of the greatest dentists this world has ever seen, attended both the art show and concert and has written about them in detail on his own blog. Accompanied by two flatmates and two of their friends, I made my way to approximately the 32nd most happening place in Bangalore on New Years. For a flat entry fee we were able to enjoy unlimited drinks at a club and unlimited food at adjoining Thai, Chinese, and Indian restaurants. I do not remember my meal.


In India, Arnab means “ocean”. In Arabic, “rabbit”. In Africa, ARNAB stands for African Research Network for Agricultural Byproducts.


Some of my more foul-mouthed colleagues have taken it upon themselves to teach me vulgar terms in Hindi. Being pure of mind and virtuous of spirit, I have cleansed these words from my memory.


Not being the type to live a sedentary lifestyle, in the past seven months in India I have participated in strenuous sporting activities such as cricket, mini golf, and table tennis, among others.


A rickshaw driver by the name of Ali and I had come to an understanding where he would pick me up from near my flat at 10:30 am every working day and then deliver me to my workplace safe and sound. Unlike most Bangaloreans, Ali did not possess a mobile phone. Due to my overwhelming zest for work, I sometimes found that I wanted to arrive at office even earlier than my regular 11 am starting time, but I had no way to convey my desire to my rickshaw driver. After a week long trial period, the relationship ended due to this reason.

January 01, 2007

From One Year to the Next

For the hero of our story, the year 2006 was a momentous one. In 2007, the legend will continue to grow. As one year comes to a close and another begins, it is time for some "to do" and "have done" lists taking a look back at the year that was and offering a sneak preview into the year that will be.



Top 3 Achievements of 2006 (in no particular order):

Graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BSc in Computing Science and Business Administration after four years of continuous effort and dedication to my studies

Cemented my status as a bonafide heartthrob with mass global appeal and a diversified fan base

Obtained an internship with Satyam, allowing me to gain international work experience in my chosen field and at the same time explore my heritage, travel India, and visit my relatives



Places Visited So Far (Days Spent):

Mumbai (5)
Hampi (2)
Delhi/Lucknow/Neemrana (10)
Chennai/Kanchipuram/Mahabalipuram (4)
Aurangabad/Ajanta/Ellora/Pune (3)
Kolkata (12)
Cochin/Alleypey/Varkala/Trivandrum/Kanyakumari/Kovalam (6)
Nandi Hills (1)
Coorg (2)

Total Places: 27

Places on the World Heritage List (Visited):

Agra Fort
Ajanta Caves

Ellora Caves
Taj Mahal
Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Sun Temple, Konârak
Kaziranga National Park
Keoladeo National Park
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
Churches and Convents of Goa
Fatehpur Sikri
Group of Monuments at Hampi

Khajuraho Group of Monuments
Elephanta Caves
Great Living Chola Temples
Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
Sundarbans National Park
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi
Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
Mountain Railways of India

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)

So far I have visited 11 of the 26 sites. The complete list can be found on the UNESCO World Heritage Center website.



Bangalore restaurants I have been to or plan to go to
Hyderabad restaurants I have been to or plan to go to