Well.. As the most eagerly expected part of the holiday calendar approaches, I am only too glad that we are escaping this lovely British weather after about 1.5 years. We are heading to Singara Chennai and thereafter to Rock City. With 2 cities & few temples to shuttle around, couple of domestic functions to attend, never ending list of friends to meet/call, 2 big suitcase full of things to shop, quite a few dinner/lunch invites to decline with equal or more number of people to convince, lot of nitty-gritty things to experience, burning issues like Shankaracharya/Jayalakshmi etc to keep pace with – the 19 days (hmm.. that is less than 3 weeks.. damn!) from 28th instant promises to be hectic – but, interesting. We do hope to have a great time though.

I would love to show my face in these pages but I doubt whether I would get enough time. Nevertheless, I would try. In the meanwhile, let me wish you & your family a very happy & prosperous 2005.

Raffle

One of the interesting prizes in this year’s Christmas raffle at our office is an hour at the controls of Boeing 727. My chances of winning are 4 in 1200. I am not interested in other prizes like DVD-VCR combo, DVD player, compact camera etc, but wouldn’t mind if they come my way. The draw is being held later this afternoon.

UPDATE: Draw over. I drew a blank. Peace.

Airport Experiences :: Mumbai

Part 2 of 2

That thug called me aside and asked the following questions:

Loop —

· What is your name?

· What is your father’s name?

· Where are you going?

· What for are you going?

· Where are you working?

· Is this your first job?

· When did you first go there?

· Why did you come so quickly?

· Exams? What exams? Which university? What semester?

· Have you got the hall ticket? · Who is sponsoring you for the work permit?

· How many branches does Ramco have?

· What kind of business does Ramco do at UK?

· What is your role?

· Why did they choose you to send UK?

· For how long you are with Ramco?

· What is your qualification?

· Why didn’t you come from Chennai itself directly?

· Show me the appointment order of Ramco.

· How much you are being paid?

· Where do you stay in UK? (As if he would make out between ‘Westminster’ and ‘West Mambalam’)

· Where is the proof of landing at Chennai. (Here I explained the story of the seal.. but he didn’t believe a word of it)

Finally he said, “I don’t think you have come back by legal means”.

“What do you mean?” I retorted.

He replied, “You have to tell” and sent me to another officer.

— End of Loop

This loop continue ‘n-1’ number of times (n – around 10) when the (n-1)th officer had a spark and called out another officer yelling, “Saab! Voh, campootar aadhmi hein!!”.

The supposedly super-technical guy came to me, got seized of the issue and asked “Which area you are working?” I was about to tell, “Harrow”, the name of the London suburb where Ramco’s office was located in UK in those days. Before that he clarified saying, “I mean Windows 95 or Windows NT?” I was bowled over by his question and said “NT”. He was too happy, so his smile said. He turned around to that first thug and spoke some words in Marathi again.

The first thug would have been thinking all along, it appeared. Suddenly he woke up and asked me the airline by which I came from London. Luckily since I had booked the ticket for both onward and return journey together, I had the ticket with me. He immediately called up British Airways counter and enquired whether it is genuine. They confirmed it in seconds and he cleared me.

After that, every one – right from the pan-chewing cop, n – 1 thugs, one computer expert came to me and apologised for the inconvenience caused. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry about these guys. What would have been the situation had I told him that I am working on Linux? Don’t know whether he would have considered me a technical guru – much above the ordinary campootar aadhmis or would he have considered me a cheat, who sneaked into the country by some illegal means. 🙂

Airport Experiences :: Mumbai

After writing about my experiences at London Gatwick Airport, I felt that I should put down all the strange experiences I have had so far. Mumbai comes next in this series.

Part 1 of 2

I came to UK for the first time in mid-April 2000. Within 6 weeks, in order to take up an examination to complete my Masters, I had to make a 5-day trip to Chennai. I headed to Chennai by British Airways flight and was slated to return from Mumbai by the same airliner. I was told by some of my friends that Bombay & New Delhi airport immigration people are generally troublesome. Not wanting to take any chance, I carried all relevant documents – from my mark sheets to Ration card copy.

I reached Chhatrapathi Sivaji International Terminal at Mumbai very well in advance. After the check-in, I stood in the Immigration queue. I gave the relevant documents to the officer behind the desk. He scrutinised the passport and asked me when I came to India. I told him that I came back on 4th June instant. He asked me the proof for that. Normally, upon arrival a seal would be affixed on the passport by the immigration official at the port of embarkation. It was there on my passport too, but it was not very clear. (Flashback: While embarking at Chennai in the wee hours of June 4th, the guy behind the counter had put that seal sleepily and the date impression didn’t fall on the passport properly. So, he manually wrote the date over the seal). This aroused suspicion in the minds of the officer and he called out “Arrrreey! Sawhney!!” (I couldn’t help translating that name!). A pan-chewing cop emerged from nowhere and they had a lengthy conversation in Marathi after which that cop led me to another officer who looked like a thug.

Christmas Carols

This year I am making sure that I don’t let any of the invites I get for Christmas carols go un-honoured. I realise that I had underestimated this carol singing as a mere religious ceremony when I attended one last week. Apart from the advantages of being served with Christmas cake & other pastry items (‘masala vada‘ if its an Indian home), they provide a big network of acquaintances. Also, the carols themselves don’t push me into the territory of spirituality, as I had feared earlier. They are sung like a group/theme song and though I don’t sing/know a word about it, I enjoy watching the faces of those who sing their heart out. Further, if you don’t know the language in which it is sung, the better it is.

More than anything else, it would train me for the future as well. If I happen to jump into politics when I return to India, as is the norm for any pseudo-secular politician, I would have to attend & host Ifthar parties. Attending carols would at least go a short way in getting trained towards that end.

DPS case & IT Act of India – Points to ponder

In an interesting development in the Delhi Public School case, the CEO of Baazee.com – the Indian arm of Ebay has been arrested as the site had facilitated the sale of CD containing that controversial porn MMS. Leaving aside the argument whether or not sex & porn should be open/legal etc, I feel that the Information Technology Act of India (click here to read a part of the Act, especially look at Section 67 of Chapter 11) is a bit too harsh in this case leaving me ponder over the following points:

– The website in question is an online market place where anyone can sell or buy anything though the site does stipulate that the users should not sell porn. The VCD, which was listed was removed from the site by the company after they became aware that it was porn.

– I feel that it is practically impossible to monitor all the items that are being bought & sold in the site unless they mention about it in the product description explicitly. So, in what way would the CEO of the company be responsible for the spread of that MMS, while one can find it available in the Internet as free download?

– If the CEO of a site could be arrested for unknowingly acting as a link facilitating the sale of a porn video, shouldn’t the CEO(s) of the respective mobile networks be arrested as well for starting the spread in the first place?

– If one of the the Google adverts you find at the top of this page links to a site that sells porn, would I be responsible for that?

I am not campaigning for the availability of free porn over the Internet, but I feel that either the law is ambiguous or it is being misinterpreted or misused. As I said in one of my posts before, who are we to argue with law?

A brat had been playing with his dog in his garden. It was no ordinary dog, but a fierce looking one – quite huge for its kind, about 3 ft high, roughly the size of a bigger sized calf. For some reason, he chose to chase it out of his house and out went the dog. It was exactly at this time, I walked past that particular house on the way to work this morning. In the corner of the eye, I could see something running towards me and it appeared to me like a monster about to pounce on me and extract few kilos of flesh.

Instantly, I jumped onto the road making the traffic come to a screeching halt. Had it been Chennai, I would have been fortunate to be showered upon with “saavugraaki“, “vootla sollittu vandtiyaa” & few other encomiums. However, I was not so fortunate even to hear its English equivalent that the scared, old lady driving the car muttered. Meanwhile, the dog followed me to the road, but perhaps saw no point in chasing me and started running in a different direction. By the time the brat came out of the house and controlled the dog, I had sprinted across the road, safely jogging my way. Needless to say, I had one hell of a moment this morning.

Campaign

Got a nice, little, personally addressed – signed Xmas greeting card from Tobias Ellwood – Conservative candidate for the parliamentary elections from Bournemouth (addressing himself as “your prospective MP”). This is a good way to start the campaign with a personal touch considering General Elections are still a good 7 months away. Anyways, I don’t think I would vote for Tobias next June.

MS



Kurai Ondrum Illai Marai Moorthi Kannaa

Kurai Ondrum Illai Kannaa

No word of tribute would be apt to describe the vacuum created due to the departure of MS. As long as the Venkatesa Suprabatham & Vishnu Sahasaranamam continues to be played in some remote corner of the world and as her voice once again touches the layman’s heart, she would live in our hearts and that is, forever.

Image courtesy: http://www.newindpress.com/mssubbulakshmi/