Friday, June 29, 2012

Driving : Redmond vs Hyderabad/Delhi

So I am currently in Washington state and things here are so huge (including distances), that one has to invariably drive around to reach any place. Public transport is there but too expensive for rupee to dollar convertors like me :)

I was a little un-nerved about driving here, mainly because they drive on the wrong side of the road in this place and the compacts here are the B and C segment sedans back home. But as it turns out if the traffic signs are good and people are disciplined, driving is easy.

First things 1st, the speed limits here are not assigned on someone's whims and fancies, there is a science behind the speed limit in each zone and the speed limit signs are appropriately posted everywhere. Whether its the freeway, onramps or residential areas. We even have markings before certain curves telling what is a safe speed to attempt that curve.

Lane markings are omnipresent, left-only/right-only lanes are marked nicely and the yellow/white lines are perfect often guiding you on joining a particular lane while taking a left turn.

Contrast that to say Hyd, Delhi still has proper lane markings (although no one even knows what they mean). In Hyderabad, lane markings are non-existent. Anyone can switch lanes anytime without an indicator. There are no fines/fines are too small for any deterrence. Infact the traffic cops are themselves so corrupt that they tell you inflated values for the fines so that they can be bribed instead (not all though, but most).

Put all of that together and a licensing office that does little to test the skills/knowledge and temperament of prospective drivers and voila, you have a recipe for disaster.

Things are changing though, both the Delhi and Hyderabad traffic departments now have social presence and are trying to curb corruption and traffic violations. Delhi Traffic Police is pushing for higher fines and stricter enforcement. But sometimes I wonder if its too little too late.

The licensing offices also need to be brought under strict control. It isn't uncommon to hear folks say they have a license but don't know how to drive. Infact most folks have never driven in their life before but still have a car+bike license. And these aren't folks with questionable backgrounds, these are folks who are educated and are working in top companies. Usually states are the culprits here. Is big cities, still there are tests, but in most small towns and corrupt states, that simply isnt the case.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Dear Salman Khurshid, we are smarter than you think

Just saw a Devil’s advocate program in which Salman Khurshid tells Karan that his viewers wont understand the word ‘euphemism’.

Small Note to him : We are smarter than you think ! (As you might discover during the next polls)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Now we cant even protest in peace !

Really mesmerized by the government’s latest move imposing restrictions on the protest by Anna Hazare, whats particularly interesting is that there was no such condition on the earlier fasts. Totally furious with our government !

And we have party morons on talkshows telling us to reject the bill because its not going to work anyway !!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Indian Govt’s Lokpal Bill a bad joke !

If you have been feeling that the Indian Govt. is shortchanging citizens with its Lokpal Bill, then you probably are right, have a look at these thought provoking talks by Arvind Kejriwal. Opened my eyes !

Kapil Sibal’s and Digvijay Singh’s comments are aired by all news channels, lets see how many show this!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Google Goggles Ad :)

Just found this while spring cleaning my computer, had made this in my sophomore (or was it 3rd) year of college for an inter-college competition. As you might have guessed, we had to design an advertisement for fictional Google goggles.

I didn’t win, apparently the ad wasn’t MBA-ish enough. But still thought it was worth sharing. Click for a better view.

Google Goggle Ad

Disclaimer : The ad was made while I was in college and has nothing to do with my organization's views and is completely a work of fiction.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Karan Thapar's interview of Digvijay Singh

I am tempted to write this blogpost regarding the recent Devil's Advocate episode in which Karan Thapar grills assists Digvijay Singh with the ultimate aim to create doubts about the great civil campaign meant to fight corruption.

Throughout the first segment of the show both Karan and  Digvijay indulge in what I would like to call borderline slander against Anna Hazare and the other civil Lokpal members. The interview seemed very biased to me and this is the first time I am thinking that the guest must have called out a favour from Karan Thapar and got this interview made  staged.

In any case, most intelligent viewers of Devil's Advocate are quite discerning and would be easily able to spot the deliberate points raised by Karan and the irrelevant comments by Digvijay which on the surface seem innocent and complimentary but on a subliminal level work to discredit Anna Hazare.

I am really disappointed by Karan Thapar this week.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Let us support Anna Hazare

I come back from my blogging hiatus to support the great crusader of the rights of Indian citizens, Mr. Anna Hazare. He is the person who was single handedly responsible for bringing about the right to information act. The RTI act is one of the most powerful pieces of legislation which empower citizens of India to keep a check on the Govt. and its often times corrupt activities.

So when Anna Hazare starts a fast unto death, it’s a very important event for this country. Mr. Hazare is now fighting for an equally important piece of legislation which is the Lokpal Bill. Unfortunately the Govt. is keen to protect its corrupt by drafting a much weaker version of the bill and by having suspect ministers as part of the committee which is empowered to take a decision on this Bill.

Although we all used to think that a Govt. led by Dr. Manmohan Singh and others like P.Chidambram and Pranab Mukherjee would be superb for the nation, sadly scam after scam has seriously altered that thinking. The Govt. should re-evaluate its priorities and its commitment to legal reform and not just social and economic reform.

Let us all come together and support Anna Hazare !

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bachelorhood Experiences : Food Cravings !

Its one of those things about bachelorhood, every once in a while you crave a certain type of food that wont be available in the God-forsaken place you live in and you have to make it yourself. Sometimes its complicated (like the lotus stem dish my mom used to make) but sometimes its as innocuous as lime soda. So here it is my friends, my lime soda craving.

It all started after a visit to the Little Italy restaurant in Banjara Hills on a team outing , the sweet lime water there was so nice that it reminded me of the days mom used to pack a bottle for me for school and later on for college. Since fresh lime is something one can easily make at home, I decided to bring pseudo-home the ingredients :

1. Lemons – Rs.39.9/kg from Reliance Fresh

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2. Pudhina (Mint Leaves) – Rs.40 something/kg from Reliance Fresh , pretty cheap the huge bundle I got cost me just Rs. 1.79

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3. Soda (can be replaced with water) Rs. 12/600ml – Had to tell my roommates this is for lime soda and not other drinks Smile

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4. Salt – Made a mistake here, should have bought rock salt, but bought normal sea salt. Will get rock salt next time.

5. Sugar – To Taste , You may skip the sugar or add sucralose if you are health conscious. If you are health conscious and stupid, put in some aspartame and kill your kidneys.

Method of preparation – Separate the mint leaves from the stem and thoroughly clean them in running water. Put them out in a plate and let them dry.

Cut the lemon into 2 and squeeze out the juice in a glass, add sugar and salt to taste.

Twist the mint leaves with your hands and add them to the concoction. At this point you should have something like what's shown below :

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Now just add some soda and you will have fresh lime soda. Easy wasn’t it, now if you are a bachelor, see the mess you have created, enjoy the drink and then start cleaning it up.

I was in such a hurry to drink up the lime soda, I forgot to take its photo Smile with tongue out , btw, this tongue out smiley is weird ! Feedback for the live writer team.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Why we need a Whistleblower Law in India

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Ok so I am back to writing serious posts. There is an issue which has been bugging me for quite some time, last few years actually. Its the lack of transparency in government offices in India. Ever since a student steps out of school, he realises that the big bad world is not such a nice place to live in. Officials are blatantly corrupt and care little about threats to senior authorities etc. The situation in Delhi is much better than other parts of the country, but still we have a long way to go with certain departments like the MCD and the Police department wherein rampant corruption and utter disregard for citizens is unfortunately an accepted evil.

I will first issue the bouquets, I have had recent interactions with the Passport office at Bhikaji Cama Place and the Transport office at IP Estate. At both these places I was pleasantly surprised by the zero corruption or harassment. I used to hear of horror stories on how I would be harassed and money would be asked for at each step. This is totally untrue for these two offices as long as all your documents are complete. If they are not, it is possible that you may be subject to harassment.

Now coming to the brickbats, its no secret that in India everyone from the lowest level class 4 employee to the IAS officers sitting in their comfy AC offices are corrupt to the core. Not everyone is corrupt mind you, but many are. Has anyone tried to reason out why they turn to corruption ?

Loose morals – I can see it in a lot of students and people around me, these are the people who are really the termites/cancer eating out India from the inside. If people currently studying in college have no qualms in admitting that they think a Government job is for earning money under the table, it points out to bad upbringing or bad company, it is usually a combination of both.

Such people need proper counselling on the ill effects of corruption and how even taking bribes would negatively affect them and not only in the law enforcement scenario. That is why I am of a firm opinion that ethics should be a subject in school as well as college.

Embarrassment also works, I remember on a recent visit to a photocopy shop in CR Park, a few Govt. school boys were there getting notes photocopied in small sizes so that they could hide them. Upon seeing me looking at their operation intently, they did get embarrassed and started talking among themselves about how they were sick etc. and couldn’t attend classes. So its essential to instil the fear of social stigma inside the corrupt with loose morals.

Strong Morals but helpless – This is the second category of people, those who have strong morals and are absolutely sure about the fact that corruption, bribery etc. should not be encouraged in any circumstances. They are the kind of people who will help India eradicate corruption. Unfortunately though, these people are a minority and even worse these people are usually scared of raising their voice as there is no Whistleblower law in India. They are scared of meeting the same fate as Satyendra Dubey and Shanmughan Manjunath. These two great souls gave their lives while trying to fight the corrupt.

The reason why they were killed was because there was no protection given to them under any law for bringing out instances of corruption. Even more tragic is the fact that their examples might be scaring off more people than inspiring them.

Imagine a scenario where a young graduate enters a Government office with a zeal and vigour to do service to his country. What he sees at the office is instead corruption and harassment at every stage. He talks to his boss who warns him of dire consequences (death even) if he opens his mouth. What choice does he have ? He is forced to become a part of the corrupt system and pretty soon seeing all the money around him he himself treads the path which he had sworn never to follow.

Now imagine a second scenario, wherein this new graduate is promised immunity and security in case he blows the whistle, a system wherein his credentials are kept totally anonymous and the action taken on his complaints is direct and visible to him. When the fear of victimisation is gone, people are going to come out and blow the whistle on a number of corrupt officials , ongoing scams , frauds and mismanagement. But this is all hypothetical till the Whistleblower Bill is introduced and passed.

The good news is that the current law minister Verappa Moily seems to have supported the bill at different stages. But the motivation and intent seems to be lacking from others including our prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and AICC chairman Sonia Gandhi. Instead of enacting populist bills, this bill needs to be prioritised in order to ensure that corruption is reduced in our public offices. The congress has recently made landmark legislations :

1. NREGA 2. Right to Education Bill 3. RTI Act

Come on now, show us you care about the country and introduce the whistleblower law !

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bad experience on Delhi’s Roads

I was coming home from college, was near Dwarka when I saw this Alto which had some contractor pvt. ltd. written behind it (typical business run cars in Delhi with disregard for any law), all glasses heavily tinted, driver window half open. The car was in the middle lane and I successfully overtook it on the right overtaking lane and also sounded a brief horn to let the car know.

I look towards the right side and see the Alto accelerate and also tilt towards me, to my horror I see the moron driving the car is chatting with the co-passenger and car is drifting towards me without him even paying attention to the road.

Pretty soon, his car hit my car. And that’s when he finally looked onto the road. Realising that a lapse in his concentration caused the accident, he decided to run like a little girl. He accelerated the car to full (I knew we have speed breakers and a super long red light ahead), so I followed slowly and finally I see him heading towards the red light with full speed. Thankfully all the lanes were blocked otherwise he would have skipped the light and probably got himself killed.

At the light, I was unable to control myself and asked him to step out and inspect the damage on my car which includes a moderate scar and multiple scratches from his bumper.

He knew it was his mistake and apologised, I told him that I know he was not looking onto the road and was talking to a co-passenger. He didnt deny and said “Main sorry keh raha hun” , he called the damage on my flawless paint till now ‘minor’. Anyway, I told him to drive carefully in the future as he is responsible for others’ safety also on the roads. Dont know if anything registered into his head or not.

I was a little shaken by the incident, I mean even if you drive absolutely perfectly, there are people who might hit and consequently injure you and your vehicle. All this goes down to the super corrupt RTO and licensing department of Delhi state. The road tests are not even conducted for people who come through agents. I remember at my road test, an agent was talking about how approach can skip the road test. since I drive well, I decided to do the test and ofcourse cleared it. I had also cleared my learner’s license test in 1st go.

Just a small mention here, most of the people I know in college got their Driving License by illegal means, either bribing or approach or both. The sad part is that they are proud of it. Truly sad.

Here is hoping for saner drivers on Delhi’s roads.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Updates to my Life

Well, life is not busy anymore. Its the first time in 4 years I have had days where literally I had nothing to do ,nothing ! But as they say an empty mind is a devil's workshop, so a lot of thoughts have been coming to my head.

Before I get down to the dirty business, lets do the customary semester post, this is 8th semester and we have only 3 theory subjects + 1 big BTP.

Theory subjects include :
1. Software Engineering
2. Networking
3. Expert Systems and Advanced AI

The classes arent on in full swing though, a sense on non-urgency is set upon everyone. Going to class it seems is optional, I have been trying hard to attend all classes but the attendance is barely 15/60 per class.

In other news, I gave a piece of my mind to some juniors who were throwing used paper/plastic utensils at each other and littering the college. I was a little rude, but come to think of it , if educated people behave like this what can we expect from those who are not educated.

Also dear car (Jakiro) almost gave me a scare last week, it started to leak engine oil and that too at an alarming rate. Apparently it was due to a faulty timing seal fixed by Maruti Service Masters (supposed to be the best Maruti service center in Delhi (definitely the most expensive), but my experience was completely the opposite). Avoid them at all costs, multiple complaints = no response from them.

Moving onto other things, college is ending soon but I don't have any feelings about it, more of indifference to everything. Unlike school, college is not really your second home. I mean college reminds me of the long bus rides I used to take, the tension filled days and not knowing the syllabus one day before the exam :P . Its not like I don't recognize what it has done for me, college has given me a lot of opportunities and a lot of success also. If I were in xyz college I would not have tasted this kind of success and of-course the fee here is minuscule and the Return on Investment is awesome. Both God and the college have been really kind to me. Also I did get to meet a few good men/women in college. It would be interesting to see what effect the end of college has on them.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

What happened to my Delhi Metro :(

The Delhi Metro used to be the pride of the city, but today it was quite frankly a very harrowing experience, the number of people have multiplied by 1000 while the trains arent being increased fast enough.

Whats the point in adding new lines and stations to the network everyday if you are not going to increase the trains. The queue at Rajiv Chowk to goto DU North Campus was so long that it almost spilled over to the Csec. side’s tracks

Very bad experience.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The world’s best Auto Driver

Today was my XAT exam which I had filled before I had gotten placed well, coming back from XAT was going to be a pain as dad had told me he wont come to pick me up and I didn’t have the courage to take my own car due to parking constraints.

I walked from Army Public School to the Moti Bagh road and saw an Auto standing near the road on my side. I asked the slightly old man if he would goto my area and he agreed, we agreed on a price and I was off.

At the Moti Bagh red light, he asked me if I had ever come on TV, I said no (not counting my 1-2 appearances in TV shows). Then I asked him if he had, and he had infact been on TV , apparently he is an artisian and also makes models. He infact makes models for Delhi Metro also. He told me how he knows almost every Architect in Delhi since they come to him for making their course projects. He also asked me stuff about engineering and was really eager to learn.

The ride was awesome, we talked about a lot of  other stuff too on the way, I can say he was probably the best auto driver I have ever been ferried by. I wish that I take his Auto in the future also.

Lovely day it was !

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Something smart here, this is, isn’t it ?

For those of you who have me added on Gtalk, you must have seen for 90% of the time my status is the title of this post. The rest 10% of the time , its either my office name or the latest in the series of flus I have (stomach or common, thankfully nothing related to pigs).

I am often asked by friends what the above means, see it goes like this, Something smart here means that there should be a smart and witty status message in my Gtalk status. And come to think of it, it itself is something smart, isnt it :P , Deep I know :)

Anyway, if I ever am able to publish the book which I pen down in my free time, I am sure I will some sort of permutation of the above title.

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Moving on then. I am onto the phase in life where-in I am having long discussions with friends late into the night with old/recent friends. I guess the 4th year of college is a philosophical journey. You discover so many new things about yourself, about the people around you. Plus you got to prepare for the journey to the outside world. We seem to have our hands full and you add 4th year academics as well. Thankfully all our teachers were kind enough to set easy papers for the midsems :) (thank you teachers).

So here comes the semesterly post, the subjects I have this year are :

1. Compiler Design

2. Digital circuits and systems – II

3. Artificial Intelligence

4. Finite Automata

5. Advanced Microprocessors

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Bad bad bad day today

"Rain rain go away,
Little Johnny wants to play"

->

"Rain rain go away,
Little Ankit wants to drive to college and actually reach there"


Today was always going to be one of those days, I had reserved today as a study day for Artificial Intelligence. But things seldom go as planned. I had to make a trip to college today, I remember waking up at 9am and dad telling me to take the metro due to the rain, I said to myself, it isnt raining too hard, plus I will leave at 10:30 and will go after the office rush.

Here is how things unfolded :

1. Leave home at 10:30 am, dropped mom off so that she could take an auto and was on my way on the Outer Ring Road. There isnt a lot of traffic today I said to myself.

2. 10:45, Already near Vasant Vihar, cool, good progress and I pat myself on the back.

3. 10:55 , Hits the Vasant Vihar Crossing, huge pileup of cars there. This is by far the worst junction these days, the traffic cops just cant handle the traffic load due to the opening of the IIT Hostel flyover and subsequent road narrowing due to Rao Tula Ram Marg flyover construction. There is a traffic jam even at 8:30 am here when I goto college.

4. 11:30 get out of the mess at Vasant Vihar , clear road ahead to Airport.

5. Reach the Airport roundabout, see lot of rush coming from Airport road, so decide to enter inside airport thinking I would go from Palam Airport.

6. Hit a traffic jam inside the Airport (Wow), bumper to bumper traffic, see my opportunity and exit from Dhaula Kuan side taking the roundabout again.

7. Enter the road to Dwarka and its jammed, the cars are there almost till the roundabout(1.5 km to next signal), its 12:00pm, enough is enough, decide to go back home.

8. Traffic Jam again from Gurgaon side. The office rush is still there at 12:30 pm. Enter into bumper to bumper traffic again, trucks are also entering the city (illegally?), probably got delayed due to the rain, but they add to the chaos.

9. Reach Munirka, where the roads are a warzone, pray that the suspension of my 14 year old car is able to take the strain and doesnt give in. The potholes are seriously huge and I wonder how many cars are damaged due to them eveyday.

10 . 1:15 Back at home, wasted close to 3 hours and didnt even get my work done. :(

Here are some photos I took while I was stuck in traffic on the way back.