Monday, January 31, 2005

Free but comes at a price

I had never grasped the full extent to which free messaging had caught on till I found myself at a hutch showroom next to a 60-year-old priest who was making sure his plan included free messaging. Now, before you accuse me of anything, I have to say I have nothing against vadhyars being tech savvy. It’s just that, there is something incongruous about the image of a priest clad in a dhoti and messaging (of course its could have been for his kid but I choose to ignore that).

Free messaging does seem like a win-win situation, you and I get to message free of cost, also the number of connections go up meaning more moolah for the provider. Where then is the problem? Well, the next time you send something of great consequence to a friend and then wonder in frustration at the non-delivery of your message just take a moment and think about the competition your message has to face in the network.

(This is not an exhaustive list. Feel free to add on)

#1. X sent the following message to Y –

Ok (shortened form of okay obviously)

#2. R sent the following message to S–

K (that’s Ok in short)

#3 Y sent the following message to W


#4 A sent this message to all the contacts in his phone book (yes, all 42 of them)

Why did Bunty Singh eat only the filling in his samosa in a restaurant? Because his doctor told him not to eat anything from outside.

C feels that the joke is worth forwarding and proceeds to send the above message to everyone on his list including (for some strange reason) A

#5 B sent this to all the contacts in his phone book.

Hi! XYZ company is celebrating its second anniversary today. Send this message to 15 friends and your Rs.250 will be added to your account balance.

#6 L sent this to every person on his contact list who had an exam the next day

If you send this message to 15 people you will surely pass tomorrow. Trust me, I did it the previous semester and I cleared all my papers.

I think you get the drift. Shame of you if you can relate to more than two among X, R, Y, A, C, B and L!

It’s interesting to note the way the social etiquette of messaging has evolved. It was never necessary to acknowledge a message whenever you received one. Instantaneous delivery was assumed and replies never expected unless absolutely necessary. Replies in fact were a bonus! Now, inboxes are filled with a deluge of messages for not acknowledging each of the previous ones.

The next time you curse the network provider for delay in delivery, just remember that there are probably atleast four abusers of the sanctity that is free communication out there who are forwarding to you the same joke for the sake of keeping in touch.

Finally, a very apt Dilbert cartoon strip. Trust Scott Adams to have come up with this! (Thanks to Orkut and Swaminathan from Bangalore)

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Thursday, January 27, 2005


The last week has been a fantastic vacation. For once, I have spent quality time during an academic semester enjoying myself rather than sitting in the last bench and complaining about the sheer monotony of life in an engineering college. You see, saarang is going on and the students of Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai sure know how to throw one hell of a party.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or what you enjoy, if you are a college student in Chennai life just stops in the third week of January every year. Plans are worked around Saarang, deadlines are put off and thoughts of college work are banished.

There is something for every single person here regardless of what he/she likes be it dancing, singing, quizzing, writing, painting or public speaking (For ex: If you like writing you have four or five writing competitions lined up for you including 17th century Japanese poetry!) If you aren’t interested in any of the above you could still just head there for the spectacular sights!

As AC has mentioned here, it just irritates me that my college has to schedule the internal exams every year at the same time as this celebration. People talk about the college going autonomous, if that happens good luck to the future generations as I am sure that the college will raise the minimum attendance percentage to 85 and nothing but pure torture.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Random Notes

The introduction of Conditional Access system in Chennai has led to the creation of two groups - the ‘Bums’ and the ‘Rest.’ The ‘Bums’ are the ones who possess a metallic box and get to enjoy quality television. They talk about it the next day with other members from their group. The ‘Rest’ can do nothing but listen as the ‘Bums’ use phrases like "Brilliant Goal "and "Awesome Movie". From time to time, a member of the 'rest' might get a word or two of sympathy from the ‘bums’but these are few and far between. Obviously, there are the nice 'bums' and the not so nice 'bums' but I will save all that for later. Communication between the two groups are often just restricted to sentences such as “Oh! You don’t possess a set-top box?” and “ You really ought to get one and fast".

Anyway, I digress. The reason why I am writing all this is that the introduction of the system has ensured that I end up channel surfing most of the time for want of quality entertainment. (especially after my cable operator removed a quality channel like Zoom TV!). Just recently, I came across some guy on BBC talking about the environmental policies in Great Britain. He seemed particularly happy that the future of a particular monument was safe because of new laws governing the industries around the monument. He went to great pains in describing the laws without mentioning the actual structure.

As he rambled on, I started to think of our own monuments and their beauty. Architecture in this land varies from state to state and yet, (apart from a few) we remain totally oblivious to it. Instead, we prefer talking about Paris and London.

Well, in the end it turned out that the guy was talking about this. I tell you, we have to hand it to the British. Love them or hate them it does take clever marketing to turn THAT into a must on any traveler’s list.

PS: Whatever you say mate, that’s just stone.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Its hard to say goodbye if you wont leave

The best piece of news I have heard in 2005 has been that of the retirement plans of KPS Gill. In case you didn't know, Mr. Gill began his career as a police officer in the state of Assam, quickly earning a reputation as a tough officer. He became a household name across the country as Punjab police chief in the early 1990s, when he was credited with crushing a separatist revolt in the state. Why do I hate him then? Well, for the past fifteen years Mr. Gill has been the head of an organization that has done brilliantly well in ruining our national sport. Its not often that a country produces world champions year after year in the junior editions of the sport and lacks successes in the main editions. However, the incompetency of the Indian Hockey Federation has made sure of just that.

One of the most interesting stories describing aptly the pathetic state of Indian Hockey is that of Rajeev Mishra. As a young forward Rajeev dazzled his way through the junior world cup in Milton Keynes in the nineties stunning other coaches with his breathtaking speed and fantastic ball handling abilities. India won the tournament and he was touted as the next big thing. What happened next? He got himself injured, missed one year because of lack of specialist treatment and was thrown out of the senior squad. Last heard he was a ticket collector in a train in UP.

Repeated mess-ups with coaches, bust-ups with leading players, lack of any planning, punishing training camps before the Olympics have characterized his tenure. India has now fallen behind countries like Argentina, Spain, South Korea and New Zealand as well. Instead of a well-established coach he went and got an unknown in Gerard Rach a month before the Olympics. Rach has now resigned, it will be interesting to see who Gill gets. I hope it's a good foreign coach. (heard Ric Charlesworth is interested) A coach who can mould this Indian side into a competitive team in time for Beijing-08.

The introduction of the Premier Hockey League definitely has changed things a bit, but to ensure its success the league needs to be spread out and held in all cities where the teams are based. I can't wait for the day when I can actually head to the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium (with Varun and the gang) to support Chennai Veerans (maybe then I will understand how soccer fans feel about clubs based in their city). Its important for the game that the league grows, that there is a great rivalry and more importantly that the corporate world and the public take to the game and to ensure that the PHL needs to constantly reinvent itself every year.

Gill has assured the public that he won't be changing his mind. He has done this before only to let us down by staying put. I hope he sticks to his word this time and quits. Maybe that will kick start Indian Hockey.