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.