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This blog is named after one of my poems. Even thought its not the best of the lot, I just fell in love with those words- The Psyche Unknown...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Life in Netherlands-Part 7-When I saw sound....

“Hey Soul Sister...Ain't that mister mister..On a radio, stereo.. lalllaaalala” played the radio gleefully as we left the woods and highways behind and saw the face of civilization . Flooded by a bright summer sun, archaic European houses emerged on both sides of a shady downhill road. My mouth was slightly open in an 'O' as my gaze tried keeping up with the speed of the car.. Absolutely clean, big roads sparkling here and there in the shade of flowering trees and a hearty spirit of mild summer that infixed a spring in the step of young and old alike, welcomed me to the beautiful city of Arnhem. It couldn't have been a more comfortable journey to a fabulous new place, especially when the relocation was for work.
City center of Arnhem
I was lucky enough to get an internship at a really cool company whose head thought making the employees feel comfortable was important! (How many do that??) I was picked up from Delft and comfortably dropped at my new home (which they had rented for me!) by one of the cool guys working in that small but kickass company. My 'O' was stuck as it was, cos Arnhem had something that Delft did not. I could not quite place it then, but I realize now, what it was! Keep reading..

Well, I got a nice little studio apartment for myself right above a cafe called “Grandcafe Metropole”. I loved it instantly! It was like a cross of “Central Perk” from F.R.I.E.N.D.S and “MacLaren's” from How I met your mother! My little room was surrounded by tens of shops that sold items right from groenten to goud (veggies to gold)! A colorful, slithering centrum, beautiful lakes and farmyards, couple of good places to visit and an awesome Kannada family for occasional homely company and food.. Hail Arnhem!
Well, this place, job, people influenced me in so many (good) ways, it would be impossible to forget these 4 best months in abroad till now.
Nearby lake

I began my internship. I was lost . Let me give you a background. I loved electrical/electronics as much as anyone would love to eat raw Brussel-sprouts for all three meals and knew as much as Agatha Christie would know about it!(I blame P.R for it!) Programming was my nemesis, the end of the world as I knew it! The only reason I took it up was because of Acoustics. The little section in one of my courses at Delft had caught my attention for longer than the quarter it had lasted. Plus the wise advice from the donors of my DNA , that it was high time I faced my fears, marked its space against my will in my awfully little brain. And so when I encountered a room brimming with electronics and computers running hundreds of lines of codes, I felt like my intestines were being pulled out like Draupadi's saree!

But miracles exist and they happen! After a confusing first couple of weeks in which my face had turned into the shape of a question mark, and my evenings back home revolving around wiki articles and e-books for dummies series, I began to re-valuate my feelings towards the subject. The biggest source of inspiration was my supervisor. May Science bless him with a long, happy life! A prodigy in programming, he had the magical ability to make me want to program! In the four months of his mentoring, my programming skills got such a boost that I understood, edited and wrote part of a complicated code for my project! * yay * Also since it revolved around signal processing, and I was even unaware of its definition, my supervisor deserves a standing ovation for teaching me with such clarity and not losing patience with my obtuse learning capabilities.. Not in my strangest fantasies, did I dream of working on signal processing, but Acoustics as it mainly deals with signal processing, had me in its reins. I loved it! I remember my friends from EE branches complaining about SP in bachelors. If only they had the kind of supervisor I did, they would have learnt to adore it. But I still elicited laughter from those doing their Masters in SP! May be I did not learn statistical math and probability functions from the Master tracks, but I still learnt to appreciate something from the EE sector! And learning Matlab alongside of SP in the way my supervisor made me do it was absolutely rewarding. For the first time I felt like I could do something in Science! And now my mind yearns to do more with aircraft/space acoustics!

All this- because of Acoustic Sensors. What a fascinating area! So many techniques, so many dimensions, a subject because of which I saw sound! Yeah, no kidding, try scan and paint with a good particle velocity sensor and you will know what I mean. I understood some of the basics of electrical engineering and sensors that I never did before, in ways I always wanted to understand. I saw things that I hadn't seen before, I worked with them, I understood them, I began to appreciate the same that I feared before!

One of the Indo-Italian dinners with
my roomie
And the people here- Oh my! I never thought the Dutch could be so friendly! I dunno what is the problem in Delft, but here, I found some of the coolest and friendliest Dutch people! Not to mention others like Spanish, Indonesian, Scottish, Omani, Italian etc. And the amount of cultural gyaan I got here beat what I acquired in the last one year! (My Dutch vocabulary improved a tad bit too!). And not to forget, the variety in cuisine every now and then. To top it, there were the casual, relaxed late evenings after work while we grabbed a drink and played darts or PS3.

And the work culture in NL is absolutely comfortable. Unrestricted (not completely) work hours, approachable heads, easy-go-nature with your superiors and colleagues... To think, where in India could you call the head of your company and the technical head by their first name?! Or atleast your own supervisor for that matter. It doesn't mean people don't respect each other here. It means they just don't overdo it with every step they take! Everyone is treated equally. From an intern to the head. What you say evokes an encouraging response and is well received even if it has the tiniest of significance attached to it, unlike some work colleagues and supervisors I have met in India, who shut off their brains when an intern has something to say.

Colors of fall
Blinding fog
And the city itself has some charm to it. I saw 3 seasons here and it felt wonderful to see its beauty each time with a different eye. It was somehow unlike Delft. May be because, it was a new place or because it was bigger, but I enjoyed it better than last year! I will always remember the bright mid-day sun piercing through the cool wind when I biked uphill during late summer(yes, I finally saw some ups and downs in the streets of NL! Arnhem is full of it.), the horrendous and yet beautiful winds of fall that blew the groovy golden leaves all over my face, the chill of the sharp rain that densely fogged my spectacles making me ride back home almost blind, the softness of the snow on the path to work that was so considerate seeing me in jitters, the friendly neighborhood felafel shop that made my dinner on most nights and the mouth-watering Indian restaurant 'Mantra' that drove my homesickness away with awesome samosas!
Whity white!

Also, there are quite a few things to see around in Arnhem, ranging from a variety of animals and birds at the famous Burgers' Zoo to the age old Dutch way of living at the Open-air museum, to the historical John Frost Bridge (watch the movie “A Bridge too far”) to the Rhine river and a wild Sonsbeek park, this city is an absolute delight!
Coming from a small 'city' like Delft, this moderately big city was a like a big teddy in a toddler's hand! I felt life breathe here..Living right in the center of the city, I saw traffic and people on streets which hardly one can in Delft .. When I returned from Delft once at around 2 a.m, it looked like evening 8 with people casually strolling on the streets and some pubs and small shops still open! I'd bet, in Delft you'd get the feeling of being in a graveyard!

View from the office one eve..
Lot more to tell, but it still wouldn't completely justify the extent my experiences. I am not an expert in sensors and acoustics but hell, I overcame my fear and I actually like EE now and am interested to learn more about it! A feat I thought was never possible. (I hope you are proud of me Anil =)). I learnt, I enjoyed, I was a little more content with myself than usual, I socialized more and I lived for the first time in the last one year......I will miss Arnhem...But on the positive side some rocket gyaan awaits me in Delft along with a million other positive/not-so-positive things.. So I think its phases out! =)
I shall yap more soon!

Tot ziens!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

A letter from the Barrister...

One of the recent mails that saw the face of my facebook inbox! Believe it or not, I fell down the chair. The true "ROFLMAO" scene!With every passing word, my thoughts were whizzing crazily! I'll try jotting it all down. The orange marks the content of the mail. And the white...Oh you will figure it out! For convenience, I first post the entire mail and then some detailed replies I had in mind! I just had to write it down!

Dear:Krishna ,Urgent Reply

I am Barrister R.......T, a solicitor at law, I have a fund that I want to transfer into your account as the next of kin to my late client.Engr, HC.Krishna, I ma contacting base on the surname you bear with him. 

I am doing this because the bank where he deposited the fund what to confiscate, and the have giving me mandate to provide the next of kin or the fund will be confiscated, Can I trust you?

If you know you can not run with fund when it finally transfer into any account you will provide, which most be empty account.

Reply back to me through your private email address or through my private email: r.......t@gmail.com with any of your identification ID CARD.

Full names.........Occupation.......Marital status.. Age.............. Phone number.....Full contact address... Private email address......

Thanks for your understanding

Barrister R........T 

Tel: 000000000

MY PRIVATE EMAIL: r......t@gmail.com

And if interested, go through some of my thoughts when I was reading this!

Dear:Krishna ,Urgent Reply (Its Krishna, Swathi..... Urgent reply is not my first name dude!)

I am Barrister R........T(Sounds half Dutch and half Japanese! and barrister at it..OoooKkkaYyy!) a solicitor at law(hope you are good at it! I might need you some day! And like wow! A barrister contacts me! ;) may be he read my blog somewhere..why else would he contact me?), I have a fund that I want to transfer into your account (WTF!!!! I didn't see that coming!! really?!)as the next of kin to my late client.Engr, HC.Krishna,(Who the hell is he?! Since when is he my kin?!) I ma contacting base on the surname you bear with him.(Holy....! So anyone who has a surname of Krishna is eligible for this “fund”?? And am I the only one with this surname? What if someone else comes claiming tomorrow?!and dude its “am” and “based”!)

I am doing this because (well,that's a start, good to see you have thought of giving an explanation) the bank where he deposited the fund what to confiscate,(you mean “want”) and the have giving (again is it “they”? Honestly dude! Matter of such importance, shouldn't you atleast run a sentence check?!) me mandate to provide the next of kin or the fund will be confiscated,(ok your English is irritating me now!What sentence formation man! A BARRISTER! Sigh.. you break my spirit!) Can I trust you? (For the record, yes you can!, absolutely and completely! Trust me! I wont laugh at your face if you ever come in front of me!)

If you know you can not run with  fund (I fell off the chair for this one!I dunno dude, I have never tried running with “ fund”! Is it some kind of a test I will have to undergo? How fast does "fund" run??)when it finally transfer into any account you will provide, which most be empty account. (And you mean finally the funds are transferred and my account will be empty?! I thought you were going to transfer TO my account! Thanks for the heads up now! Moron!)

Reply back to me(Sure..I'm waiting all day to take your orders!) through your private email address (What is a private email address? I thought email addresses were meant for sharing publicly! On the other hand, if I share my “private email address” with you, it will not be private anymore.. will it??!) or through my private email (Sure, send me your password peabrain, I'll send my response to you through your id!): r.......t@gmail.com with any of your identification ID CARD. (Only you could have said that! Identification ID card!-keep it up dude..)

(Are these the details you require or something? Or you just felt like typing random words?!) Full names.........(How many names do you think I have?! And what's with so many dots?) Occupation.......(Hasn't late HC Krishna ever told you about me?! The next of his kin! *sniff* ) Marital status..(If I say I'm asexual, will you still transfer the money??) Age.............. (didn't you see the DOB on my fb page?!) Phone number.....(I hope this letter wasn't just to get my phone number! Cos I'd have given anyway..I use my cell phone only for the alarm!) Full contact address...(Why do I have a feeling you are asking for my IP address?) Private email address......(Didn't you already ask me to reply through my “private email address”? Oh! May be this applies if I mail you through your address!)
After all this you forgot to ask my account number!

Thanks for your understanding (Sure man.. anytime..keep me posted on more funds that I am entitled to!)

Barrister R........T

Tel: 0000000000
MY PRIVATE EMAIL(Again! Damn you!): r........t@gmail.com

Aaanyywwaay, I dunno who or why they send such mails.. I mean, seriously, they cannot think someone would fall for this?? Whatever they had in mind, this mail changed my mood for the day.. A 100% refreshing entertainment! :D  


Monday, November 22, 2010


Its a hard life
To be a tough girl
But deep within
You have not been here.....
Its a dirty kind of love..
You don't need it anymore
Let your heart have a rest
Its been broken so many times before..

I dunno what Crucified Barbara team had in mind when they wrote/sang this song...It was accidental that I heard this song today but it impressed upon me that this is so true; for so many girls in so many different ways... whatever the band intended, they wouldn't in their direst imagination conceive the ideas that are currently running in my mind..I somehow can't express all my musings here and be assured, you don't want to stand amidst my thought processors sometimes. You will burn out by the mere heat emanating from it, forget swimming in the bus systems.
But yes, being a tough girl isn't an easy job. Her mind has been tampered with many times in many ways and she has survived it all. She derived strength from those moments. But somewhere close to the mind-(I no longer believe in the concept of hearts, Its always, ALL IN THE MIND!)- tougher the girl, stronger her are emotional minuses. To the world she might be a daredevil, but once her deepest negative emotion is stirred, she can destroy everything she built for herself through her emotional foolishness. She can embarrass herself when ought not to, she can forget her goals, dreams, ideals and every other thing that actually matters to her when pricked at the place where it hurts. Strong girls aren't always strong! All you have to know is the cave she always avoids when she goes hunting. Finding that may be a little difficult, but once known, she is your puppet!

I recently had a chat with some Indian girls and their predicament was the first thing that struck me when I heard this song. I will talk about Indian girls only here cos I haven't come across a girl from the western world who seemed to fit into the description below.
There are a lot of Indian girls who are quite brave. Those who dare to dream, those who dare to pursue and those who have a vision in life. But most drop out of it early in life. Let me share few facts, I'm feeling generous.. Most Indian girls-strong or not have a common emotional negative-Parents! I call it a negative cos its the emotion towards them is always in excess. Its like a combination of all emotions in one bundle that is way too much for the bag to handle and hence is overflowing. Indian girls are capable of feeling/showing love, gratitude, hate, resentment, desperation, obedience, depression, anger and respect, yes RESPECT towards their parents all at the same time. How a simple frown on the parents' faces can melt even the toughest of girls!

Indian girls have always had a rough run since ages. Our western counterparts might have endured it in the past(quite minimal when compared to Indians), but I don't think there is a cause for worry anymore for them. Things have changed a lot in the recent. But for the desi girls, its restrictions, parental/peer pressure and a million other requirements to be the best of the lot. The worst part is these work effectively in creating a negative aura around the girl and only when triggered by the parents! The mentality is such that the parents do not let go off one day in her life without reminding her of her bounds, duties, flaws and requirements. Probably its this emotional scar that was created at her birth that fails to keep the tough girl going tough! Some obligation, some acceptance to defeat, some unknown finality that she always knows she would have to bow down to.

“For the first time in my life today, I truly despised being a girl. There have been times in the past when I have cursed/wished I wasn't born a girl. They were silly and stupid. But it was only today that I realized the implications of being born an Indian girl.” The friend I was chatting with poured out to me. Listening to her story, I felt she was acting a lil' stupid! All her parents did was to Skype her with a frown on their faces about her recent decisions of going abroad and the related issues. She had broken down..rather they had broken her down. A girl of grit was now in pieces. And the main reason? They had thought of getting her married! I thought it shouldn't be a big deal. After all, it takes time for everything. She'd still have time. But then she asked me to stand in her shoes. I did. The situation I then saw was different,scary! And yes, horrible. Imagine you are 22 years old with truckloads of dreams and visions for the future and you are asked to follow a guy(of course after the marriage!!!) wherever he goes and that too across continents. The girl is allowed to study/work but, choice limits to the options in the city/state the guy lives. Its hard when a parent doubts your abilities and points out a recent “mistake in decision”, turns all droopy eyed and sore-throaty and adds few sentimental statements that pinch you cold and hard like Holland's rain.(The ultimate one being “Our destiny, this is the fate we have been entitled to” in the most despairingly vacant voice and a deep expression of resignation etched on their face.) Its hard to maintain your go-get-it attitude or kick-the world-in-the-shins demeanor or your I'll-live-the-way-I-want confidence or for that matter your come-what-may-I'll-fulfill-my-dreams enthusiasm. I realized when she said it..its all crushed by one statement from the other end. And this works only on Indian girls I think! I can't see the western counterparts falling for such acts. The bond/attachment/what-the-hell-ever it is, runs high and fast only in the Indian girl's veins I guess. It is easy to break strong girls eh? Those girls who are actually capable and enthusiastic of doing something worthwhile with their lives rather than just getting married and continuing the tribe. Parents may not knowingly en-cash it but they do!

And along the same lines-I don't understand some of the traditions that have been followed since times immemorial, across different parts of the world. (Okay you might have come across exceptions, but that is not the usual..) Why is it that, the woman is asked to relocate with her man? Why is it that she is required to change her last name to his family name? Why is it that always her options depend on the guy's situation?? I know things change when there is a kid involved because the maternal hormones are hell more prominent than anything else in this world.. But why until then is she always limited?? They say girls and boys are treated equally these days. Whoever says that are BSing..BIG TIME.... I have loads of other questions-most for which I know the answers that lead to greater BS. I don't think you should come any closer to the processors now!
Deeply rooted blind and biased belief systems, unchangeable mentalities, fear of questioning elders, exceptional respect for elders, exceptional expectations from the children-all these not seen in the western world runs like blood in the body in Indian ménages. I dunno if it should change or if it ever will (I do hope it does to some extent in all families and not just the rich and fancy) but all I know is strong girls have their weaknesses. Those who are capable of exploiting it(a.k.a parents), do so. But if the girls can hold on to their senses for those exceedingly excruciating moments of emotional torment, then it is definitely possible to find a way out of every black hole! After all, girls who dare to dream also dare to cross hurdles and usually are equipped with a bit of common sense and a talent to leap over troubles!
And now, I hear another apt song on the radio-Lindsay Lohan's “That girl was me”.. :) This one is also so damn true! Drama queen or not..Check it out.....Let the lyrics inspire and the music re-energize you...

“There was a girl I knew who always wanted to be the one to stand out from the crowd
Always believed that she was gonna live her dreams
That what went down was gonna come around
For all the doubters, non-believers, the cynicals that once were dreamers
One of these days you'll open up your eyes
And you'll realize

That girl was a one time teenage drama queen
A hot, tough everyday wannabee
But she'll have changed her destiny 
Now she's a somebody
That girl was a wild child dreamer but she'll find herself
'Cause she believes in nothin' else
And you'll look back and you won't believe
That girl was me

Armed with an attitude that she knows how to use
She's gonna get there any way she can
Now she knows what she wants

No one is gonna stop her
Nothing's ever gonna hold her back
For all the doubters, non-believers the cynicals that once were dreamers
One of these days you'll know that you were wrong (who would've know) [Chorus]

Life is a work of art- you gotta paint it colorful
Can make it anything you want
Don't have to stick to any rules
You don't need a high IQ to succeed in what you do
You just gotta have no doubt just believe in yourself
Doubters, non-believers, once were her dreamers
One of these days you'll open up your eyes
And you'll realize [Chorus]"


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


It struck her hard... She was just coming to terms with the new reality and an old saddle fell down crashing on her..
All she wanted was to clean up her past and let the shine of the present lighten her spirit. But then she winded up questioning her own identity. For she had so dearly associated with it, that even distance and time hadn't erased the bitter-sweet memories of a world she had construed. The world which strayed out of its orbit to another galaxy.
She had been dethroned. She had been replaced. Stripped off all her dignity in front of the world. The hopes she once foolishly harbored in her willfully dim psyche had been squandered. She chided herself for not realizing beforehand that this day would come. What was she expecting?A warm welcome back with probably a deeply written apology?! She was feeling the sting of her predator even long after she had been set free.
And the lonely evening offered no help in alleviating it. She looked out of her window and couldn't recognise the dampish road that reflected the twinkling lights from the mystic Chinese entrepot. May be it was the November mist that obscured the window or the shock and the anger that clouded her eyes, she felt lost amidst a haze of billowing long coats..
The sound of typical high-heeled boots reached her from across the street and she instantly realized her nakedness in the world. Once, a happy aspirant, was now stranded with all doors closed and guarded by a heavy iron mantle. She had tried to move it, she had tried to get back to the one thing that had made her vulnerable, to the one thing that had pulled her out of her tediously built fort, to the one thing she foolishly thought was going to last for a lifetime, but as destiny would have it, she only slipped on to the muddy uneven ground below.
There were days when she had reined, days when she wept-but not for herself, days when her soul flew off her grasp ecstatically and days she had hastily retraced steps back to her cover.And after more than a year of nonchalance, in fact neglect, she still felt the pang of all emotions bundled as one. This wasn't new to her but the knowledge of knowing she had been replaced charred her cells till they were dead.
A finality had been reached and she hadn't planned on encountering it. The totality of the universe seemed to be acting in unison,screaming out changes since a long time and she never suspected it for once. Her true innocent nature that rippled in her veins had distracted her from the harrowing truth.
And now all she could do was stare out of her window. She couldn't shed a tear, may be that would have helped. But it wasn't grief cos she knew she was once glad to fall out of captivity of negativity. It was disbelief, anger- with herself and the world. She had let them mock while she shed her real identity and had transformed into a puppet. She had enjoyed it..
She would still go around the universe, holding dearly the world she once owned. She only had to search for it now.
 No, How could she?! She was in a better place after all, she had flourished multi-fold. Her self-respect was indeed the top priority.
 But  the world she owned was definitely the most beautiful of all. If only there was a binding force...
No, it was gone, she had to snub the other feeling. She couldn't let it go on. There would be a better place and she would take a root there.
At the moment, a whirlpool of autumn leaves carried the cold winds to her. It stung her but she endured it. She knew she had to prevail through it, she could acclimatize, same as with her new position.
The cold penetrated deep into her nerves even though the fresh golden yellow leaves covered her torso. Vengeance some day would feel sweet. She would taste it for sure.
 Her cold lips quivered in her smile and her eyelids closed tight pushing forth two tiny pearls of droplets that glinted in the blue of the diamond like eyes that shone far far away from her.....


Friday, October 29, 2010

Rein over...

Note: Not very often I write slushy material, but on the rare occasion that there is a chemical misfire in my body, a sappy piece like this one that unintentionally resembles many (living and dead) egresses. I wouldn't mind if you skipped it. :-)

As the sun sank low,
A heart that fluttered,
Longed to settle,
with a song of love
that had it flicker;

Ringing the soul like a newly born,
Cockling the senses like a spirit birthed young
She found her breath enlaced in his,
As one, for one, she knew they were wound.

She had feared, for the loss would kill-
the desires that she had needfully built;
But the day his blue diamond of an eye had reckoned,
She had coerced and let him rein over..

Like a farmer's pasture, like a climbers rock,
Her faith had forged into his deepest vein;
As the morning blossomed, and the dreams untwined,
His quivering lips had seized her in rein.

Being an ugly duckling that she was,
She cared not why or how he loved,
The uncouth brown of her eyes, mystic plenty,
Had the mountain of a man take the rein over..

With fantasies exploding, and the space drawing in;
They discern the sound of their hearts as one,
Time speaks and waits for none,
The hour to part, they realize has come.

The silence when the hearts unhinge,
A deafening gloom to withhold;
The pulse profligates beyond the nerves,
Leaving libertine drops of blood and tears.

She lay there stunned, mutinous to speak;
Her fears had come alive too quick a peek;
The minutes spent turned to nothing of sense,
And she still lay there in a mess under his rein.

She had asked for it, she remembered,
To be freed off the sweet pain,
Now that the sparkling blue resentfully stares away,
The sting of the rein sharpens on the prey.

A girl of dreams that she has been,
Continues to tread in the path she laid,
The necessity to walk free is ever so high,
She turns back to retrieve her lost rein in vain.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Agent Kats strikes again! (Story-2)

Today, I was traveling back to Delft for an exam that I so desperately wanted to do well. Yeah, a little more desperate than the usual. I boarded an uncommonly crowded train in the misty morning with a cup of free espresso in one hand and exam notes in the other. I was already running late owing to the unfortunate change in train schedules. Adding to the confusion was the wrong destination displayed inside the train. After a lot of reconfirming, I sat down in one of the last few available seats. Right behind me two blonde ladies followed, mostly in their mid-twenties.(No racial pun intended. Since I don't remember any other visual attitude, this description will have to suffice without causing any offense). I smiled at them and got back to my notes, trying to cramp few last details before encountering the professor. One of them sat next to me while her friend occupied the seat on the other side of the aisle. All was well until the train started moving by which time they very disturbingly made themselves uncomfortably comfortable.

And then it began.. what is with some women? They talk like its the end of time! How do they go on, non-stop, yapping about nothing that serves any particular purpose to anyone in the whole wide world?! Boots, dresses, hair and someone else's boyfriend?! Especially when they come up with this shrill, utterly unnecessary high-pitched laugh for a ridiculously lame statement?? You got it right.. I had to endure a hour long torture from these women especially since the train had stopped in the middle of nowhere owing to bad railway traffic! And all I wanted to know for the day was Infrared thermography!

One of the recent times when I really lost my sanity! The two blondes and the couple right in front of me who were probably in a time warp, back to the last night, people standing along the aisle (which still did not deter the blondes from shouting across to each other) and seeing other trains moving past ours clearing the view for an enormous expanse of nothing. I couldn't move out of that place. I couldn't sit there either!

I was trembling inside. No it wasn't because of the cold. I couldn't hold back any longer. Something or someone was yelling in great fury and I couldn't place the voice. It was deep, crusty and yet enchanting! I felt as if the whole train was shaking violently but no one seemed to feel anything around. Meanwhile, the blondes felt the need to reassert their presence every second with their chafing vocals. The yelling was growing louder and yet distant. I was on the edge of my seat almost overthrown by the urge to hurl myself towards the door. And then it happened... A familiar six feet tall phantom of a frightening woman zapped out of me, slithered above the ground in between people at a speed that almost made her invisible and came to a rest, hovering few inches above the ground right in front of those annoying women. It was her! Agent Kats! It felt so good to see her after a very long time. She truly was captivating, more mesmerizing than the last time I saw her. She wasn't what you'd call- beautiful, but I could give up my eyes to look at her for an eternity.. There wasn't a slightest hint of anger on her face, nor did she exude kindness. She was power, a paradigm of confidence! A magnificent aura by herself that had dimmed the surroundings! She knew I needed her. She had come for me.

The blondes could suddenly feel her presence. And I hoped for their lives' worth, they would stop jabbering. Only when they didn't, Agent Kats showed herself to them! I was dreading the worst for those girls when they adamantly just continued chewing their fat. Agent Kats now unfolded her arms and in one swift motion ran them across their faces. I didn't see that coming but there were deep gashes and blood was draining out of the blonde girls' faces. It was then I saw that Agent Kats' fingers had turned into dazzling sharp cold Titanium blades. The blondes now threw in another surprise by launching themselves at her while Agent Kats showed no element of astonishment and glided high and then ducked low deferring their “attack”. It was as if the space had expanded inside the train and the seats had been pushed back to the walls. I had thought that nobody could elude her but the blondes here were themselves trying to thwart Agent Kats. I was shocked!

I sensed that, Agent Kats saw humor in their attempt to overpower her. Agent Kats jumped high and let the foible of her fingers sink into the roof. Dangling with one hand, she zipped out her special OMG11 console. As soon as the console saw the light of the day, it turned itself into a monster of a wire. The silly blonde tried to snap it into two using a knife. It only became longer and thicker and started entwining lightly around her neck and then her body. I thought may be it should tighten itself around her. I wasn't sure what it would do, the girl wasn't choking but she was convulsing all over. I wondered what was happening. Then I saw it, the thick wire had come out of Agent Kats, there was a tiny, almost invisible thread that connected the wire to Agent Kats' veins. A bright blue was visible on her forearm. It then struck me! She was draining current through her body to the blonde. The power was so high that splinters flew out of the train's body that was held captive by Agent Kats' lustrous metallic fingers. Mere human as the blonde was, she couldn't tolerate the high voltage between her and Agent Kats. The wire forced itself into her mouth and reached the throat rapidly. The blonde began to yell but soon succumbed to the pain. The wire was now slowly untwisting itself from that girl and began to slither towards the second one who was appalled beyond her bare wits when she saw the fate of her friend. She attempted to flee but Agent Kats was quicker and who by that time had lost patience with the nagging affair, released herself from the roof, licked her titanium fingers once and sunk it into the blonde's throat. There wasn't a drop of blood but the girl just stood still, with the last of fear still dancing in her eyes so wide. It was poison. Agent Kats' cells had poison in them! She retrieved her sharp steel fingers back into her knuckle sockets and the blonde hit the floor in one motion.
Agent Kats just looked upon her victims with satisfaction and started to shrink into her shell posture. She was almost near me when she gave a look of “Silly girls..They deserved it” and then lazily floated back into me.

The train had shrunk back to normal size and my head was lighter than the usual. I hate it when Agent Kats inflicts so much pain and misery and causes a lot of destruction, but sometimes without her, the situation could get far worse than imaginable. Although I hope, I won't have to need her help far too often. Thanks Agent Kats!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Disguising my India...

This topic has been fairly running in my mind for quite some time and a recent conversation has pushed me into writing this pronto. I don't know if anyone will feel offended after reading this, but if you do, you must understand that I am just expressing concern over an issue that ought to be given a thought, rather solved soon pending which the impact in future will be significant in an awry way.

An acquaintance here today who has visited India couple of times was recounting his experiences and as with any foreigner he started off with the “quantity of spice in food” to bad roads to unbearable traffic to India's growth. I was quite used to explaining people about the first three. But the last topic hit me hard because I realized I did not know answers to the questions that surfaced in the discussion. He was being very polite with curiosity but I found myself in a web that I couldn't clamber out of easily. It slowly dawned, 'Growth' is the answer to so many of India's problems today and will probably be in future too.

Its nice to know we are growing in all spheres-scientific, economic social etc., surpassing all boundaries and gaining new heights with every step we take. But there is growth in one particular field which is often overseen, in most families neglected. I am talking about the population growth. Why do we Indians forget that we are expanding beyond the point of explosion and still procreate even after a healthy beautiful child was conceived earlier? I can understand if this was the case with the previous generation. Still in the 70's-80's or even early 90's population wasn't much of a threat. But what is wrong with the current highly-qualified generation who has seen the world, understands the threats to want more of their own gene pool bobbling in front of their eyes?! Many couples argue that its the elderly (who have already grandparented more than once, considering the count they themselves were responsible for) in the families requesting for new products to be manufactured and supplied so that they can spend their last days playing with them! And no, it cannot be brought off a shelf, it has to be made in-house! While hundreds of thousands of kids lay orphaned in the direst of conditions, the influx of those children is increasing who really have little or no clue of the imminent risk they are running into.

Procreation and variation in gene pool is very much necessary to continue the species, to carry forth the name, different traditions, culture, knowledge, heritage and in some cases businesses. But considering that the birth rate is about 25% while the death rate is about 9% for every 1000 people, doesn't it become the responsibility of every citizen to ensure that we have only what we will need for progress in harmony than have a surplus of human resource who fight for every other available seed for sustenance? Consider this, you and me will not have trouble during our life time, its the next generation that is going to suffer. If you have been in a city like Bangalore you will see the development and the increase in population over the last ten years grow manifold and you will also notice/complain about how there is no more place, how things are getting expensive, how there is not enough land up for purchase and definitely not many houses that can be bought. Everyone needs it. Everyone is in a pursuit of house, vehicles(atleast two-wheelers if not four) and being Indians, gold amongst the materialistic entities while simultaneously demand for lesser traffic, cleaner air, more space and what not! How on earth will anyone be able to provide all these if the population just keeps sky-rocketing? The usable land remains the same unless of course you start adding rural areas to the city limits as well. In that case if the arable lands and farmers are forced into different careers, then how can the food demands be met for a higher number of people?

Big families don't necessarily lead to a healthy, bonding society. I once lived across a family which probably had a sole goal in life-to populate the world. In pursuit of it, every year came a new entree into the market. And being rich as they were, they celebrated every one of the joyous occasions marking the successful anniversaries of each product. Of the many ignored birthday invites (to save my money on gifts) I picked up one random nipper who was unlucky enough to be graced by my satire presence. I had gone there just to count the total head. It was impossible. The gradient in looks and size wasn't that big and I just kept counting all of them over and over again. The house ran in chaos while the matriarch of the house just sat in her fat armchair overlooking her tired production unit(read daughter in law) who herself was haplessly gazing at her troublesome products. There really wasn't any enthusiasm in her eyes. Of course, if every month you had a commodity demanding cake and balloons, would you be spreading joy? Yes, I don't like calling them children. It seemed to me like a production house for humans where the machines in the production line never found rest time! Either the couple hadn't heard of birth control methods or they had some superficial dreams and beliefs. Just think, if the parents cant spend enough time on each of their kids what is the point of bringing them into existence?Its bad enough that we have a terrible percentage of unproductive, inefficient people, do we need more of them? Atleast that section of people is ok, do we need sociopaths or psychopathic additions to the society? Oh, this applies to a 2-children family as well. I have known instances where one of them is ignored, so that the other gets the light of the hour. Seriously, is that why the seconders are conjured?

The main detrimental aspect is the Indian mentality of conservative shyness when it comes to birth control methods. Many couples claim some of their conceptions is because of an “accident” where the doctor's prescribed pills did not work exactly the way it should have on the woman's reproductive system. How difficult is it for men to take one step forward to buy some protection? Why is it acceptable rather expected for a woman to take B.C pills prescribed by a doctor that involves so much risk and money, not to mention adverse effects on health, while all men have to do is buy a pack around the corner of the street? One of my friend was telling me how condoms are available for as low as Rs. 3 (its true, check the websites!) and as discreet as in places like the gents restrooms of malls and showrooms. Is it really “Oh what will the other person think of me if I buy this?” or is it just plain ignorance combined with arrogance?  Its the tradition of keeping it under covers as though its some pagan ritual that Indians should really rise out of. 

We are not far behind..
Chinese who are currently world no. 1 in terms of population, have some policies that they strictly follow. One child per family, More than that? pay more taxes! And to see, its working out efficiently. At the present rate, we will surpass the Chinese by 2030. In India too, if they can bring some policies like that AND FOLLOW THEM strictly, then we can keep a check on our population too and thus ensuring equal opportunities for all in every matter. This was what was going on in my mind when my western acquaintance asked why we don't have a policy to curb this godforsaken rate of increase! I told him that we do have a 2 children policy and his immediate question was, what happens if you have the third one? I did not have an answer because nothing happens in India! Why are we so negligent about it? We have all the time to divide states and pay foreigners giant bills to play in some chaotic, senseless tournaments but we don't have time to solve the problems on hand!
A simple policy (This was suggested by the same friend mentioned above and I support)-
One child per family- Reduction in taxes,
One child+an adoption-further reduction in taxes,
More than one-Increase the taxes(by a specific percentage),
No offsprings-Minimum taxes.
No offsprings+adoption-No taxes!

The tax reduction or increase doesn't have to be more, trust me, considering the Indian mentality, people will definitely think for every tiny percent of increase or decrease in their tax slips! The government too can make quite some revenue with it considering that there will be a few nonchalant people and few more idiots who will make up for all the sensible (albeit a few) lot's taxes..If only this was possible somehow..

You could mock me calling me an “outsider” at the present but I am still an Indian and it hurts to know that my country has some shortcomings and that the world knows about it, worse laughs about it. Its even more a fierce battle within when I cannot defend cos we really aren't working on solving it. If we were making an effort then I could proudly defend my country's honor in front of the western eye.
But sadly, I did convince them in a totally polar approach (by pointing out the human resources and potential because of the increase; the marquee of Indians covering the globe etc.) although it was basically me trying to reaffirm my love for my country by disguising one of its many negative tapers. I am sure many other expats have tidied the crumbles this way which beyond doubt is not a permanent solution for our own good within India and outside too.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Independence Day... Really??

Its plastered everywhere. Songs, flags, slogans..I am being wished by my countrymen and yet I do not feel it. I do not feel I am from an independent country. After 63 years of our so called independence, we still are cluttered and confused, in fact in more ways than what existed back then..

Every anniversary, one old man will be remembered by most in the media for his over hyped ways of contribution and the rest of them will be conveniently forgotten. Children sing songs, enact plays from pre-independent eras, hoist flags, eat sweets and go home to a national media that is hell bent on manipulating viewer content  according to their profit charts. Don't get me wrong, these acts will help children remember the struggle but will this show them the reality? The present that is screaming out for help?

Year after year, its all done in a wish, but are we truly independent? Not everyone feel they live in democratic country because they are bound by a million problems all of which manifest from a regime so senseless in varied facets. Are we free of a multitude of socio-economic and political problems that could and should have been addressed already? We drown in corruption and uptight bureaucracy run by umpteen number of selfish, power hungry uneducated fools and yet we sing of a victory that was attained a lil' more than half a century ago with great difficulty, endurance and time..

I think we still have a lot to fight for, as this day really means nothing to more than 3/4th of India, most who will be happy to feed a morsel to their malnourished kid just like another day, most who will be glad if they did not have to pay their salaries worth to get a simple seal from the government and some who will feel blessed if their merit was recognised and not their economic/socio-cultural backgrounds. While the more 'fortunate' souls bless the holiday if its on a week day and enjoy it in a cafe equally plastered with an overdose of patriotic symbols. We are satisfied with the malls that get bigger and personal pay checks that can afford them. We aren't afraid to encourage corruption because we see the one standing next to us and think that's the way world works. But is it?!

Lead from darkness to light..
We might have let this detail slip through before, but let us no more.. Let us each do our part righteously and take time to help our neighbours do the same. There is nothing a common man can't achieve through his common ways that can bring about an uncanny change to the current situation. The common man just needs the support of another common man. Lets put a foot down and not enter the gate guarded by the satan's sentry. It will take time and it will be painful but it will be worth the trouble. If we yield to the easy route now, we will be answerable to the future generation who will not only be born in the trammels of vanity but also will have to live with such fate, and evil only worsens with time unless treated otherwise.

Of course I am not saying the whole of India can do this at once. Its unreasonable to expect everyone to reason in terms of the benefit for future, but if one can take time to educate and help people in their surroundings, homely neighbourhoods will slowly lead the way to a beautiful country-free and prosperous. It will not happen in a year or two.. It may take decades, but if we do not start even now, then we really fail as patriots, fail those who fought for an independent India and no amount of calling out slogans or remembering their achievements on National holidays will prove it otherwise. 

All we have to do is start, stick to our ideals and spread the thought in whatever responsible way we see fit. Let us bring a change together in the hope that such time shall mightily arrive when our children can grow up in a free country-free(even if not completely) of all the negatives that has bound us today in shackles, such time when they will really empathize and appreciate the blood and sweat of all those great heroes who dreamt and sacrificed for a FREE INDIA, such time when western tourists are no longer looking to photograph award winning 'art' pictures of dusty markets, slums and their inhabitants fighting for survival. Let the disparity amongst people end. Let democracy be a word understood and respected by all. Let Independence Day mean to everyone. 

And to all those who want to argue that it cannot happen because of a countless reasons, first dethrone that negativity from your brain. If our fighters had thought like you then we'd still be wiping slime off a British foot. For once, plant a positive seed and just nurture it, you will find a countless reasons to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. And as a derived version from Charles Tindley's gospel song goes-
We shall overcome                                                        
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe,that,
We shall overcome some day....

Let's help ourselves..Jai Hind.
Happy fighting for our true Independence Day.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life in Netherlands-Part 6- ..3..2..1.. Ignition..Lift off

And tower cleared.. It went ricocheting from the ground into the windy skies of the ASK Military base at 't Harde.

After months of designing and constructing with 4 other super cool international students, the rocket was ready for launch. It was a fantastic experience which involved some awesome rocketry knowledge, a chance to work with some brilliant minds around and a real launch feel . Probably the coolest project I have done till date. For the first time in Holland, being with this team made me feel at home.

      Best team I've worked with till date

Antanas couldn't make it on launch day

We probably had the best looking rocket amongst all. Martin's idea of putting up every team member's country flag was such a feel-good idea that made us all proud and happy. An international collaboration that truly materialized experiences in a plethora of domains.. We named our rocket MEAT 52, a scramble of TEAM 25 that we were officially called in the beginning.

Successful or not, a great deal of lessons were learnt while sprucing up the rocket. Listing few major ones and the entire experience of launching a rocket! 

We decided that a simple mechanical deployment system would work best (not the greatest idea-Lesson 1) for our rocket since we didn't want any hassles dabbling with circuitry and programming too much. Lesson 2-Nothing, I mean nothing at all is free of electronics and/or programming in today's science. I think it was quite simpler when men pushed the wheel cart!

Our rocket malfunctioned the previous night of the launch. Apparently the updated code wasn't working because of a software glitch in the system. How small things can ruin your life! Stefan(my skilled teammate toiled through the circuits all along when we lesser mortals who could not go beyond the definition of capacitors and resistors watched) and Eric(the electronics and programming/debugging guru) worked on it all night while the other teams and safety officers had set up a camp fire in the middle of a beautiful scouting camp situated right in the heart of a typical European countryside which had great big farms hosting animals like Llamas and kangaroos too!!
The campfire in the middle of nowhere
Yeah, it was peculiar but great.. The guru and the prodigy had set the system right before the night died and we began testing and retesting it. The servo behaved stranger than ever.. The gear inside wouldn't turn a full 180 degrees consistently. It kept getting stuck midway which ultimately was the cause for the 'after' condition of our rocket!
 Lesson 3- Don't test so many times that a working system fails!
Setting up the towers
Anyway few more adjustments, it was just fine and we retired into our sleeping bags. The launch morning wasn't a guest for perfect weather though.. Just like the previous day, it kept raining and the cold penetrated through my shoes and lost me my toes for the day. When you are in Holland, complaining about rain only wastes your energy. It rains in Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring!! And every time it does, it feels the same. A thin chill passes down your spine constantly giving you the feeling of being electrocuted! Soaking wet,we tested the deployment system and it was working. Alleluia! After removing and wrapping the parachute into the top section several times so that it did not interfere with servo rod that pushed off the nose cone during deployment, we fixed the motor with Olga's guidance and help. (Lesson 4 – Give more than enough tolerance for a mechanism that will keep your system safe). We went back to the tarmac and one by one the rockets shot off from the towers that we the participants had assembled the previous day.
It was awe-inspiring, encouraging and motivating to see a rocket-our rocket being launched. I got an opportunity to set off the ignition for the launch! ;)

MEAT 52 and some other launches
Rocket sciences isn't exactly easy or predictable, I can now sympathize with the millions of dollars draining in the gutter all over the world due to failed space missions. Who wouldn't after seeing the remains of our rocket that had a perfect launch but a failed deployment because the servo wouldn't just turn all the way?! The military officials at the base took the longest to find our rocket remains. The egg placed in the belly of the rocket that had to return safely to the earth (the competition criteria) was probably deep fried mid air and had shattered into a thousand pieces when the rocket nose dived at approx 200 km/hr from about 700 m high! 

What came back of our rocket!
We knew we had lost the run in the competition when we saw the rocket diving down with the nose cone still on the body after it had disappeared into the clouds for few seconds. The yellow of the parachute was nowhere to be seen then. But that was just one thing in the rocket that was intact amongst the remains, in fact we got it back exactly the way we had packed! The nylon was still roped around the cloth. We had probably tied it too tightly while trying to make space for the servo rod. Lesson 5- Make sure of the material thickness while designing the system. Everything occupies more space in the body than you imagine!
So our rocket's launch and flight were alright but we could not retrieve the egg safely, Mission failed. "Well, sh** happens!" grunted the safety officer. Though slightly disheartened, Martin's ever positive attitude and the rest of the team's pick up and learn mindset, helped a lot in digesting our rocket's demise. Atleast it would be lesser unknowns for the next time! Some other rockets that were working fine till the last minute faced terrible fate at the end too. But on the whole, the rockets not just from DARE but also NAVRO and NERO(all Dutch amateur rocket organizations) rounded off the day with some mind blowing show!

Wouter on fire! 
It was not just a great learning experience but also so much fun. Met so many amazing people, heard different stories, saw some great fire tactics display and truly camped after ages. Plus it felt cooler later on to tell “I just launched a rocket!” ;)

That was the first time I realized that it was not just Stefan who was good at working with his hands, it was common to all the Europeans there. They are used to working on their own. Some of them there had built every piece of furniture in their apartments! Of course assembling/transporting launch towers and rockets wasn't a big deal for them! In India, the usual age when you would probably hold a drill gun is around 15-16.. May be not even then for most of them(generally speaking). Here, a majority of them know how to repair any problem that comes with a bike or for that matter any mechanical/electronic gadget. It made me feel lot more dumb than usual! Why hadn't anyone let me try when my house needed painting or a partition in the living room had to be erected? Where was I when dad kept sending his old 70's bike for servicing? Or when my computer and audio/video player needed repair? Why hadn't anyone told me I could do it or taught me how to? All I remember from my childhood is everyone's desire for me to excel in academics and extra curriculars. India should be westernized from this aspect. We run to “professionals” for everything. We are so much dependent on someone else for everything. Why is it that we never try doing it on our own? Is it just laziness or pure ignorance? Are we afraid to try or do have a false dignity of labour concept? Or is it just because its simpler and easier to let someone else do it? Any which way, children in India miss out on developing essential working skills for life.
These people have done it all. Plus they are good at academics and extra curricular activities. I felt a little useless in comparison to their efficiency. But since then, its been a different story all together. Those couple of days changed me quite a lot. Every time there is some machine malfunction, I just think of the launch days.and some how I come up with a solution! :) Lesson 6- Just the mere thought of someone else being able to do the job makes you do it yourself first! And it gives a little boost to my confidence. Its not just me, most of my fellow Indians are now painting and furnishing their houses on their own which they definitely wouldn't have done in India!

The rocket days are something I will never forget for it has been an eye-opener to a new subject, new friends, new mindset and a host of experiences that I had come here looking for.

In the making of...
Unforgettable  days...