Friday, December 20, 2013

Helmet, forever

Is there an expiry date for a helmet? Unless it is broken?

My helmet is about 12 years old and still running. It has helped me during couple of incidents - minor though. There are few bruises on it, which I can live with. But otherwise as long as it fits my head, and serves the purpose, is there an expiry date for these stuffs? Or is it a life time product?

Just wondering if I am legally bound to update my helmet.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stupid decisions. Really?

We take decisions on a daily basis. Small or big. Decisions have short term effects as well as long term implications. My professor used to explain there are three types of decisions - right decision, wrong decision and stupid decision. But often we wonder why did we decide so, or if only we decided differently the implications would have been better (or worse). It is not uncommon for a person to repent on his decisions.

Biologically, the electrical impulses which sometimes manipulate the brain are caused by over secretion of certain hormones. This explains the mob psychology and most unplanned criminal activity. Otherwise poor decisions are taken due to lack of sufficient information or under the pressure of time.

I think decisions are spatiotemporally influenced. No decisions are wrong at that particular space and time. Provided enough information is available, all decisions taken are right decisions. Later when the space and time differs these decisions appear stupid. Wise people accept that as a  stupid decisions and move on; but psychologically blind / myopic fellows (say, fanatics) just follow them.

So next time when you make fun of stupid decisions made by others (or by you) remember, those were right decisions, when those decisions were taken. Grow up, accommodate and do what is best for you in the present.

Rich and poor

I practice suryanamaskaram, some yoga, pranayamaam and dhyanam these days - for the last 2-3 months. Thanks to our institute which organized a yoga class, and thanks to Sri Sekaran who was my yoga teacher. 

I can actually feel the difference. I have learnt to accept what comes my way, and face it. I feel more resistant to otherwise frequent headaches and common cold. Slow but steady.

I am getting more spiritual. No, let me reword that - logically spiritual. Not blind belief, but actual logical explanations to the physical, chemical, biological and psychological facts. I love superstition bashing That is exactly what I listen to these days. I got rich spiritually.

I am also learning to be a minimalist. Courtesy : Leo @ Zen Habits. I love his principle of 'Earn less, consume less'. I got poorer materialistically.

Second  part of 2013 was good to me.... and so would be the rest of my life.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Loney tunes

I am a loner. I don't believe in teamwork that is, when I am in any team. I have read and heard a lot about synergy and that how 2+2 makes more than 4. But for me teamwork means 'Dynergy' (antonym of synergy; no, don't look up for the word yet, I just coined it, ha!). I don't do my best when I work in a team. Has somebody researched this phenomenon?. I am the architect and the critic of my work. If I make any changes based on input from anyone else, it is only a means to avoid the person.

Don't get me wrong. I am not against teamwork. Team work, does wonders, I know. Just that I am not designed for a team work.

So don't hire me to be a person in a team. I won't really work.

Weird. But that's me

I hate to have one-to-one conversations with anyone other than very close acquaintances. My hands tremble when I receive a phone call from an unknown number or when someone says 'I need to talk to you'. I don't know what to say after I say 'Hello' to anyone - be it the one who I just met or the one who I have been working with for the last few years. My mind wanders into wild during these conversations and can hardly listen to what they speak. I somehow want to finish this conversation, and in the process I agree to a lot of things which they suggest. I have run into trouble many a time when I couldn't think before I respond. I presume, I am easy to be manipulated over phone.

Surprise! But I am entirely different when it comes to public speaking - be it compering, or a presentation or just a talk to an audience. I usually do really well, and am very good at handling queries in such a public forum. I have received appreciation after almost all my presentations. During the presentation I have answers to all the queries. But if there is a post presentation one-to-one conversation with people, then I tremble.

No idea why this happens.

I am a specimen. You bet.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I forgive you

I had a presentation yesterday. I had invested a lot of time in preparing for it, arranging my slides so that information is passed on in a sequential manner. But as soon as I was in my third slide, people started pouncing on me. My repeated efforts of explaining things and clearing the perspectives  were not listened to. This drifted the entire flow of the presentation, and I got into a defensive mode.

I felt bad. But I got to my feet again and did what I could do my best in convincing atleast some of the audience, who didn't yet have preconceived notions.

Why do people get prejudiced and why do people thing that one word can possibly explain only one meaning? What ever happened to the listening skills? sigh!

I forgive

I love bookmarks

What are you reading currently. I dont have an answer. I mean, I do, but I dont have ONE answer. Because I read a lot of books at a time. I take a really long time to read a book, irrespective of the number of pages. And , I like to read more than two books at a time, parallelly. I belive there is a virginity in books and I like to slowly enjoy these different virginities. I am a slow reader may be because I enjoy the pleasure of reading a book for the first time, and I would like to prolong it. I have met people who says they cant wait to know what happens next and keeps turning pages. I on the other hand likes to think more about the sentences and words written by the author, savoring every emotion the words might contain. In some cases, I went back to google some information the authors have briefed in their book, which inturn took me elsewhere. But I feel thrilled when I get back to a book, which I stopped reading for a while and continue reading from where I left. Obviously , I love bookmarks. This is one reason, I do not generally prefer to borrow books from library. They have a fixed return date, which means I have to finish reading by then (or by the maximum permitted extendable date). Many a time I wont finish reading by then. So I buy books. But sorry, I dont like to lend books to random people. I would however love to share my books with people like me, who I am sure will return the book (without their traces left on the pages). 

So what am I reading currently?

Immortals of Meluha (Yeah, I am a fossil)
Dont ask any old bloke for directions
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Thinking Fast and Slow

.. and I just finished reading The Lowland

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Hero

One of my dreams came true last week.

I bought a bi-cycle. Hero Xcello Itegra

A second hand one, through an auction. The rule is that, I have to hand this back to the office when I move out of the campus after the course. I love riding through this bi-cycle friendly campus. A Sunday morning ride besides our main building looks like I am riding through the back cover of our brochure. I ventured out in the main roads as well. Although a bit scared initially, I discovered that people in general do give enough space for a cyclist. Very nice.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What would you choose - B or A or is it A or B?

If A=B and B=A, then if you really want B, but does not want to avoid A, while A being an excellent choice, but B being a great choice, what would you choose? B or A?
Confused are you? So are we, the fellows who love Malayalam but living in Kanyakumari district.

It pains to see the slow but sure disintegration of culture, language and symbols of a once powerful empire. All malayalis of Kanyakumari distict respresent the quotient, which gets divided by zero. Was there are division – yes, Is the result clear – no. Sangamesh’s Varma’s documentary on Kanyakumari district brought tears to my eyes (Part 1, Part 2).

I have been asked many a times that if I were a malayali, by malayalis ofcourse. I ask them back to define a malayali. Would a person born in the geography of Kerala state be a malayali or the one whose mother tounge is Malayalam, learnt Malayalam during school and still have the love for Vallathol, Basheer, MT, Pottekatt, Sugathakumari, Subhash Chandran … is a malayali. If it’s the former, then no, but the latter, then a big fat yes! But then I am a Tamilian as well – as long as I can read and appreciate Kalki, Jeyamohan, Vairamuthu, Jeyakanthan, Ashoka Mithran and so. That’s the best part of being a person from Kanyakumari district – can enjoy the treasures in both these languages. So some things are fuzzy and not 1 or 0.

Then obviously it will be a problem if the authorities choose to go with one, while some of the natives decide to stick with what they love. This is what is happening in KK district. Infact most of the natives love both – especially during pre 1956. Jeyamohan absolutely portrays (in his book Uravidangal and Remitha speaks bout the ozhimuri effect) the actual mental picture of a KK native, by referring the influence of both the languages to their culture and probably developing a new one, with roots on both the languages. Isn’t that how new cultures develop? Then why wouldn’t the authorities let the development of a new culture, if the natives are happy with it? With all the demand for new states gathering attention, sometimes I feel that we should redraw the maps and get ourselves declared as a Union Territory.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Writing is an indispensable activity during research. I like to write; just that I am lazy. So I try to club sentences and present the idea in a minimum number of words as possible.  But apparently my writing is like whiskey without soda. I am advised to break down the sentence, and write in a diluted, lucid form. While writing I have to be clear about noun, verb, adjective and so. Feels like I am again going through the pages of Wren & Martin, just like a fifth grader. So now I have to write for the mass – which comprise of a handful of people who might read my research. In an earlier post I had mentioned about the sheer non-readability of research report; I feel I am being dragged to follow the same path. Now, that is some serious unlearning I have to do.  So no more hyphens, semicolons, parenthesis and any such add-ons, which in itself have the potential of growing into an independent sentence.

It’s all part of the game.

Or, am I running backwards?

Sometimes the opportunity cost is killing me. It is a cliché:  that people doing their PhD envy their friends about the kind of lavish life they are having. Many a times, I wonder as well – was that a wrong decision? Then I console myself – when I took such a decision, it did not seem wrong, and now that I am into it, let me play along. (Wow! That rhymed, let me rewrite it)

When I took that decision, it did not seem wrong
Now that I am in it, let me play along

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Glory Ahoy!

I have a poor impression, among my relatives that I can’t even negotiate with an autowallah. It is not completely false; I actually dread them. I don’t mind paying something extra, but it has to be uniform (like a fixed price) for all the passengers. But these fellows are trained by experience in reading human behaviour. They charge by the appearance and body language.

Whenever I alight from bus at Kalasipalayaa (Bangalore) from my native, I am left with no choice but to depend on those hounds as it’s not safe for me with my wife and son during the wee morning hours. There are no buses and I was unaware of the geography. They used to ooze money out of me. They charge me about 400 Rs (after bargaining to my limit) for a 10km travel. I had to comply, even when I am fully aware that I am paying them more than double charge. They take advantage that I don’t speak their language. There was once a driver, who even caught hold of my hand and wouldn’t leave until I paid him an additional 20 Rs.  

I have now discovered other means of travel, although it takes more time. Now I feel a (sadistic) pleasure when I reject the offers from auto rickshaw drivers at the Silk Board junction. I ignore their pleas of charge-by-meter, with a loud laugh in my mind.  I now avoid auto rickshaws whenever possible, not limited to Bangalore. My wife has now learned to live with my eccentricities. Glory!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Of bean counting and bridge building

Engineering graduates in this part of the world, are increasingly finding bean counting as an interesting job! What else can explain the number of engineering graduates enrolling for a class which prepares aspirants for a clerical job in public sector banks. I haven’t conducted any survey on this, but I can easily count to a minimum of 8 fellows known to me who have either got into some banks as clerks or who are preparing for bank exams. Here are two different stories about engineering admissions.

Story One: My cousin and her husband, both civil engineers in Central Government Dept. are hell bent in making their daughter a civil engineer. With less that 50% marks in Math, and with her heart inclined toward English Literature, the daughter is now enrolled for a course in civil engineering. Wonder how she builds bridges!

Story Two: A studious girl, with more than 95% marks in her +2 exams has no idea other than follow what her parents choose for her. Her parents enrolled her for a course in an engineering college, which could possibly rank within 1 to 10 from bottom. When asked why this college when she could easily get admitted to some really good ones, the reply was, “We  just want her to earn an engineering degree so that she can appear for bank exams and become a clerk”. When further asked, then why engineering rather than a degree in commerce or so, the reply was, “these days every one who gets into a bank has a engineering degree, and so she too”.

Good luck to both of you, and whoever uses the bridge the fellow in story one is forced to build.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Car Care

My car bears an eternal dent on both sides of it; visible ones. One on the front left door and other on the right back door near to the tail lamp. I have been living with it for the past 2 years or so. Neither do I find the necessity to repair it nor do I have the means. Now that I am away from my car and because it lies untouched for months together, I take my car whenever I am at my home town to all social gatherings. Being the introvert I am, I find my ‘handicapped’ car a good ice-breaker. People measure me up with the physical status of this car and ask what happened. Then I would start off with a story which has been repeated like a million times.

Some people offer me suggestions about I should get it changed immediately and that they know this friend’s friend who knows a mechanic’s uncle and suggest me to take my car to the workshop to get it right. I politely nod along. When this suggestion and advice goes beyond a point I would say, I have no problem in driving my car in this condition, If somebody has a problem, that is not my problem, and let them better live with it.

I don’t know why people are so obsessed with the external appearance of their cars. As far as I am concerned, I need a car to commute when it is raining. Ofcourse now I have  put my car to better use. It serves as a goods carrier – transporting coconuts, jackfruits and other stuffs from our (say) farm to home. I would readily offer my car to anyone who would want to fine tune their driving skills, although they might feel shy to drive around.

Well, I might give my car a facelift – but somehow I presume few more bruises are on the way and I would address them all together. Three main reasons for my not maintaining my car properly: one, I don’t get enough time spent at my native, where my car rests; two, I don’t have enough money to get it done; and more importantly three, I don’t care.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just wait..

“Oh God, Acha look at my struggle. I am tired of shuttling between my wife and amma to keep them both happy under the same roof”, complained me.

Achan said with a smirk, “Wait until your son gets married”

Monday, June 17, 2013

Seat or Pride?

Assume you are the first person to get into a bus, from its origin. Where would you prefer to sit? Window? Aisle? Middle? Front? Back? Just behind the driver? On the last row? Beside the conductor?

Well, I’ll probably choose the one beside the conductor – the window seat. May be because that gives me a sense of pseudo authority. Conductor will not be at his seat during half the duration, which means the seat remains empty. Not many would bother to sit down on the conductor’s seat, due to the fear of losing out the pleasure of a (relatively) permanent seat. Only trouble is clueless prospective passengers checking with me if the bus would take them to some certain place or not. But that is fine with me. So my ideal bus journey would be the one when I am traveling by a window seat beside the conductor. That said, my joy couldn’t be explained when I found the above seat free when I boarded the bus from Sreekaryam to East Fort. Ha! Rejoice dear me, because I am on my favorite seat observing Trivandrum on the move. I settled, with my backpack now on my lap and waiting for the conductor to issue me my ticket. The bus crossed another major stop and all other seats were occupied by the time the conductor approached me demanding for the ticket. Shock !!

The bus had a female conductor!

I began to sweat. Big fat confusion doomed upon me. Should I stand up, or should I continue to hold the seat? I have to remain standing if I leave the seat and for sure others would stare at me. Some other might still stare at me if I did not stand. I was worried that if I did not get up would that amount to misconduct from my part? Would I be dragged to police station for ‘accidentally’ touching a female (albeit a bus conductor). Damn I forgot my hand kerchief as well, which I could use to cover my face from the eyes of media. Or may be the conductor is used to a male sitting next to her? What if she asks me to vacate the seat? I had to make a choice between my favourite seat and my pride. Seat or pride? Seat or pride? Pride took precedence. I was just about to get down at the next stop, and continue my journey in another bus. At the right moment my savior appeared in the form of an old man. He was asked to sit beside me – for the rest of the journey. Phew! I remained on my seat, proudly.

PS : Made up incident for the blog post.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Saving Little Kitten

Once I was casually walking around my home at my native and heard a soft cry; it was a kitten. I was aware that there were three kittens in the back yard and so I ignored the cry. But the cry was becoming louder and with increasing frequency – as if something is wrong or ‘help me out of this trouble’. I glanced around and discovered that a kitten got itself stuck in a broken piece of PVC pipe, with its head and front legs in one end while its hind legs in another. Clearly it got itself trapped inside the pipe and desperately wanted help. By a short distance from the trapped kitten was its mother, who was also meowing.

I wanted to help this kitten out of the trap, but didn’t know how. I being the engineer plus MBA was thinking abut the diameter of the pipe and assumed that if the kitten did not cry and exhaled, its stomach would shrink and then I can probably push it with a long stick. Or may be if it was left starving for some time, its stomach would shrink and then I could help it get out. But all the while I kept an eye on the mother cat, because it might attack me thinking I was troubling its little one.

I also thought of pouring some water mixed with detergent powder on to the kitten so that the pipe might get lubricated and the kitten could get away. All the while the kitten was crying aloud and little did I know that the mother was scared to come near the kitten as it was apparently worried of my presence. I have almost made a plan, but was scared to get near the kitten fearing its scratch. So I decided to wait until it is asleep, buying myself some time to design a method for its rescue.

My son came along and I warned him not to go near the kitten; so he was also beside me and so was my wife. We began discussing how to save the kitten. Unaware of this my grandmother (aged about 94) walked in and asked me what we were discussing. I explained the situation and warned her not to go near the kitten as its mother was close by. Grandma did not listen to me, walked towards the kitten, grabbed the pipe with kitten still in it and gave it a shake.
The next thing we see was the kitten running to its mother. Grandma walked away as if nothing happened.

It took us a while to realize what happened and to close our open jaws.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Just for laughs

Random comments from my 4 year old son

He was assigning characters to all of us from his story book– he was the puppy, his mom was the squirrel and then he turned to me and asked “Achan kozhiyaano?” [Loosely translated : He wanted to ask "And Dad, are you the hen?" but colloquially it meant "Dad, are you a womanizer?"]

Some characters in an animated movie talks about all things that go fast are made in Japan. He liked this thought and connected everything that moves fast were made in Japan. So he used to say ‘Acha, look at that bike, that’s a racing bike and that is made in Japan’, ‘Acha look at that red car, that is moving very fast, That is sure made in Japan”. So once we came across this man who was jogging wearing his sweat-pants. He took a look at this person  who ran past us and commented. “Acha, aa appoppane Japanil undakiyatha” [Dad, that person is made in Japan]

He was staring for long at the calendar hanging on the wall and suddenly exclaimed “Ho  pathu mani aayi, acha” [Oh, it’s ten o’clock, dad!]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


A research student works in the principle of KITA. KITA is the acronym made famous by the celebrated author on motivation, Herzberg. It simply unfurls as Kick In The Ass.

Oh yeah, that is what we researchers do to get ourselves motivated. Kick in not anyone’s ass, but in ones own and not by anyone else, but by the person alone. That is only how a research can be done. Research can’t be done at gunpoint (data can be collected thus, though). It is to be self motivated and with some amount of eustress. The research supervisor often does not really pay attention to the student because he knows research can’t be done with force. There is a time for it, and it is for sure. Some may have to wait for it and others may have to build it.

There can be days, weeks and months with no progress at all. Nothing to do. And all of a sudden the vault opens and 24 hours seem like few minutes. That is when dejection, disappointment and disengagement makes way for plethora of activities in short notice. Hardly can anything be planned for a research, although veterans strongly recommend having a plan and research diary and stuff. There is virtually no research student who would not have atleast once wondered why has he taken up this task anyway? But the experience and learning is fabulous – not just the subject part, but with regard to the patience required, KITA, reading, writing, reviewing..

I am often asked  - so dong a PhD ah? How long is the course? I say ah well.. this is not a course but research to be done at ones own pace and interest, so it cant be compartmentalized into these many years. Takers are few for this explanation. So now I say 4 years. But what if this gets extended more than 4 years? I’ve an answer : I flunk in few papers and am yet to pass those, hence the delay, I’ld say. I can see those smirks in the faces. 

Time for a  KITA ..

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Unflutter by

She was beautiful, or so she seemed in that split second when I could catch her glimpse.
But probably she thought she was ugly.
Well she was, although I would not call ugly, rather ‘not-so-beautiful’. This I realized after a moment, when she came close to me; very close.

It would have been bothering her that she was ugly, unlike her friends. Perhaps that’s why she wanted to end her life. She died; infront of me. In a way I am responsible for her murder. If it were not for me and my vehicle at that moment, at that spot, may be she wouldn’t have lost her life.

Was that intentional or accidental?

I killed her.
Or rather, she committed suicide.

I don’t know her name.
And I don’t want to name her, just for this obituary. Let that be a mystery. Just like her life.

Life in her cocoon must have been a bliss, and she might have seen hell in this world.
Rest in peace, dear butterfly.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Assorted quaestiō

What makes a person commit suicide?
Is it extreme self-love or self-hate?

I would like to believe it is the extreme self-love, because death is the ultimate bliss one could offer oneself.

Do suicides have a sadistic element attached to it? Or is it orgasmic? Or is it sadistically orgasmic?

How I wish I could speak to Nandanar or Rajalakshmi or Nanditha or Virginia Woolf or van Gogh or all of them.

What is easier – putting up a façade of pleasantness and feeling sad inwards or exhibiting a sad demeanor and feeling happy inside? May be equally difficult.

If people were all their true natural way, what would have happened? May be human race would have been extinct long back.

Is life a journey of procuring and securing materials to meet our metabolic and carnal demands?

What happens after one reaches the top most triangle of Maslow?

Does a person who has died by age of 30, suffer from a mid-life crisis at the age of 15?

Why is logic so much over rated?
Is magic, the opposite of logic?

Asking questions is a pleasure, although there are no answers.
Okay now, back to business.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Head Eastward

Assume you’re in a new place and need help with directions. Whom do you ask for? What do you look for in a person who could potentially help you with directions, distances, buses and street names? How do you choose a person who you think could help you, and not misguide you?

Because this happens to me all the time. Not the asking end, but the replying end. I wonder what do people find in me, which prompts them to stop by me and ask for help with directions. This is true even when I am in a strange city. I can sense it when people are about to approach me seeking guidance. I’ve answered questions like “Excuse me, how do I reach CDS, Ulloor from here”? or “Hey, which way to Mekhri circle?” or “Would this bus take me to Besant Nagar?”. On the other hand I am very reluctant to ask for directions if I am alone and if I am not in a hurry. I always have this feeling that “let me go this way, I can always take a U-turn and come back to my origin, incase I get lost”. I have discovered a lot of new pocket roads, especially when taking a walk rather than on a vehicle. Strange thing is I might find myself explaining this new route to a fellow direction-seeker, which I would have discovered only minutes before.

All said and done, I get immense satisfaction when I could help them, and I feel terrible when I say that I am helpless. But no, I have not misguided anyone.

On a lighter note: Once when traveling with my family in a village during night, we lost the way. There was a lone person, seemingly a farmer, beside whom I stopped to ask for direction. He answered hurriedly saying “Head eastward” and sped away. !