Saturday, September 30, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mumbai Housewife invited for guest lecture at IIMs

Why? She achieved a turnaround for her son in his studies, that's why! Read the details here. ;-)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bachpan Ki Yaadein

Looking at a photo on the orkut album of Anish Kila, I was reminded of my bachpan! Phantom Waali, Laal Dibbi Wali, Meethi Cigarettes!! Have a look at this photo to relive those days!

Hai Hai! Kitne paagal hote the! Baar-baar flick kar-kar ke imaginary raakh phenkte the, imaginary dhuaan udate the! Asli toh kabhi bhi nahin pee, par yeh waali bahut pee dali!

Tomorrow's agenda - Get a packet and finish it off :D

Things I hate

In an update to this post, I realised today that I absolutely hate car-perfumes. They have this sickly sweet smell that is worse than any perfumes many girls wear. If I sit in a car that has these so called perfume bottles, I feel like throwing up. I wonder about people who spend ridiculous amounts of money on things like these.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How to identify a place in India?

Scenario 1
Two guys are fighting and a third guy comes along, then a fourth and they start arguing about who's right.
You are in Kolkata

Scenario 2
Two guys are fighting and a third guy comes along, sees them and walks on.
That's Mumbai

Scenario 3
Two guys are fighting and a third guy comes along & tries to make peace.The first two get together & beat him up.
That's Delhi

Scenario 4
Two guys are fighting. A crowd gathers to watch. A guy comes along And quietly opens a chai-stall
That's Ahmedabad.

Scenario 5
Two guys are fighting and a third guy comes he writes a software program to stop the fight. But the fight doesn't stop b'cos of a bug in the program.
That's Bangalore

Scenario 6
Two guys are fighting. A crowd gathers to watch. A guy comes along and quietly says that "AMMA" doesn't like all this nonsense. Peace comes in.
That's Chennai.

Scenario 7
Two guys are fighting. Third guy comes along with a carton of beer. All sit together drinking beer and abusing each other and all go home being friends.
You are in Goa

Scenario 8
Two guys are fighting. Both of them take time out and call their friends on mobile. Now 50 guys are fighting.
You are DEFINITELY IN Punjab!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

MRTPC move to benefit many students

A very pertinent topic, that is a bone of contention for a large number of students every year!

In a judgment that can benefit a large number of students who change educational institutes during competitive exams such as Common Admission Test (CAT), the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission has told Mumbai-based S P Jain Institute of Management and Research to return Rs 1.4 lakh (Rs 140,000) to an applicant who later took admission in IIM-Lucknow.

"We find that the respondent (SPJIMR) has indulged in unfair trade practices and also brought about additional cost on the applicant by forfeiting the entire amount," MRTPC acting-chairman M M Sardana said. He asked the institute to refund Rs 1.4 lakh to one Varun Gupta within six weeks.

The commission held that the scheme of changing from an institution to the other by a student was "inherent to the entire system" and slammed the premier management institute for making "undue gains." "It (the institute) is not expected to make undue gains particularly in a situation where the system allows the candidate to change their institution before the commencement of the course," Sardana said.

Gupta, a resident of New Delhi, had appeared in Common Admission Test for management institutes in 2002. On the basis of his score, SPJIMR sent an admission letter in April 2002. The institute had mentioned that Gupta would have to deposit a sum of Rs 1.4 lakh, which was non-refundable. As per instructions, Gupta took admission by submitting Rs 1.4 lakh.

Later, he got a confirmed call from IIM Lucknow and took admission there. He also informed SPJIMR and sought refund. But, SPJIMR refused to return the fees paid as per the terms of admission, forcing the candidate to approach MRTPC against the institute for indulging in unfair trade practices. Gupta argued that this forfeiture clause was to apply only when the seat vacated by him remained unfilled.

"There was sufficient time to fill-up the seat vacated by candidates of waiting list since the course was to begin on June 11," he contended.

In his petition, Gupta said, SPJIMR's action amounted to restricting the competition, leaving no scope for candidates to exercise options with their CAT score and would burden them with additional cost. SPJIMR countered Gupta's contention and said the institution suffers loss if an admission is cancelled.

"We have to plan the budgets and expenses accordingly. If every student seeks cancellation after the admission process is over and asks for refund of fees, it would be difficult for the institute to run," SPJIMR argued. However, the commission rejected this contention and observed that Gupta had informed SPJIMR within a week. At that time a waiting list of candidates was available and the institute could have filled the seat.

MRTPC compared the admission cancellation process of other institutes such as Indian Institutes of Management and MDI, Gurgaon, and found that in most cases only a part of tuition fee is deducted and substantial fee is returned. The commission felt that the institute's action amounted to "restricting the choice of candidates."

"It (the institute) would naturally be making financial gains at the cost of students while it is not making any financial loss correspondingly," the commission observed and directed the institute to return Rs 1.4 lakh to Gupta within six weeks.


American Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
An unsurprising report, if there was one!

Read complete article. (Free login required)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Recently read books

Recently finished reading:
  1. False Impression - Jeffrey Archer's new novel did not impress me. It can easily be classified as the worst JA I have ever read. JA should write as JA does. Trying to copy Dan Brown's story does not work. JA neither remains JA nor becomes DB. And therein lies the rub - he is the latest Trishanku on the block!
  2. The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri's second novel is impressive. Strong insights into human psychology make her simple narrative captivating. The struggle of Gogol to come to terms with his strange name, his lineage as an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) and the ways these two dilemmas are essentially the same are well-written and well-woven. A must read!
  3. Artemis Fowl - A simple fiction for young adults, it was impressive for its ability to vividly describe the imaginary world of fairies (a misnomer for magical people) and how their problems are the same as ours!
  4. The Talkative Man - Had missed reading this simple novella by RK Narayan and made up for it recently. Very simple, in his characteristic narrative style. Interesting for its plot of a philanderer on the prowl in small-town India. Very small novel (as the author himself confesses; "Only 116 pages") and left me with a sense of having eaten an incomplete meal!
  5. Nirmala - Premchand's saga of a young-girl-marries-much-older-man never fails to move me, inspite of repeat readings! Wow!
  6. Currently reading Freakonomics for the second time, and trying to read up Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (Unabridged). The first is easy enough and the second is difficult enough to consider abandoing!

Writing a book

I am writing a book. Part of it is already complete. I have written down all the page numbers!

Pajama Party in Shanghai

How many Shanghaites wear pajamas outside their homes? More importantly why? I wonder what will be the result of such a survey in India where everyone wears pajamas outside their home!

Even more importantly, why is this question important?

I guess someone is trying to co-relate sociology and anthropology too much! Decide yourself.

Cheating in business and business schools

Cheating in business and cheating in business students. Are they cause-effect, effect-cause or does there exist a duality in this relationship?

That you decide on your own; read this article on cheating by business students, in the meanwhile.

Sleep to get more marks

Something that I have known for a long time, just confirmed by research!

You should sleep to get more marks in exams!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Warning: PJ Ahead

A sci-fi cartoon strip, S-1019 by Brian Codagnone, takes place in the far future aboard the starship S-1019. In this three frame episode, one of the non-human crew members is typing as another one, Keon, an energy cloud, is watching over his shoulder. The dialog is as follows:

Keon: "What are you doing, Znaxl?"
Znaxl: "Writing a book!"
Keon: "What's it about?"
Znaxl: "It's a thriller. The hero is a paraplegic chameleon!"
Keon: "I'm going to deeply regret asking this... What's it called?"
Znaxl: " 'You Can Hide, But You Can't Run'!"

What My Mother Taught Me

This is an old forward, but I really like the tounge-in-cheek approach in this!

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION .
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
" Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY.
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
"Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONIST.
"Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12.. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
"If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION .
"Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING .
"You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way."

19. My mother taught me ESP.
"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT .
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
"You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. My mother taught me WISDOM .
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

And my favorite:

25. My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yeh Soch Ke Baithi Hoon, Ik Raah Toh Woh Hogi, Tum Tak Jo Pahunchti Hai, Iss Mod Se Jaati Hai

Kya Combination Tha!
Movie - Aandhi
Lead - Suchitra Sen, Sanjeev Kumar
Lyrics - Gulzar
Music - Rahul Dev Burman
Singers - Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar

Kya Song Hai!

Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain,
Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain,
Kuch Sust Kadam Raste,
Kuch Tez Kadam Rahein,

Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain,
Kuch Sust Kadam Raste,
Kuch Tez Kadam Rahein,

Patthar Ki Haveli Ko,
Sheeshe Ke Gharondon Mein,
Tinkon Ke Nash-e-man Tak,
Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain,

Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain.

Aandhi Ki Tarah Udd Kar,
Ik Raah Gujarti Hai,
Aandhi Ki Tarah Udd Kar,
Ik Raah Gujarti Hai,
Sharmati Hui Koi,
Kadmon Se Utarti Hai,
In Reshmi Raahon Mein,
Ik Raah Toh Woh Hogi,
Tum Tak Jo Pahunchi Hai,
Iss Mod Se Jaati Hai
Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain.

Ik Dur Se Aati Hai,
Paas Aake Palat Ti Hai,
Ik Dur Se Aati Hai,
Paas Aake Palat Ti Hai,
Ik Raah Akeli Si,
Rukti Hai Na Chalti Hai,

Yeh Soch Ke Baithi Hoon,
Ik Raah Toh Woh Hogi,
Tum Tak Pahunchti Hai,
Iss Mod Se Jaati Hai

Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain,
Kuch Sust Kadam Raste,
Kuch Tez Kadam Rahein,

Patthar Ki Haveli Ko,
Sheeshe Ke Gharondon Mein,
Tinkon Ke Nash-e-man Tak,
Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain.

Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Poem on Cricket

Ask Steven, my favourite cricket haunt, recently ran an unusal question.

And finally, a plea that I can't answer, can anyone else help? from Tony Woodward in Canada:
"I'm trying to complete a humorous verse I heard decades ago, which used cricketing terms. I've remembered most of it, but I am missing a couple of lines in the middle. Can anyone fill in the missing lines?"

With my arms around her Boundary
I said "Will you be mine?"

As I admired her two Fine Legs

And splendid Bodyline.
[Darn, I've forgotten the next two lines and I can't find them anywhere!]
"Did you bowl the Maiden Over?"

"No, she belted me for Six!"

This was last week. Today, in the next weekly edition, the following answers have been run by the column!

There have been a few responses to last week's appeal for the missing words for Tony Woodward's poem:
Mike Staveley from Canada suggests:
I wondered how she'd look without her Extra Cover,

And how she would respond if I tried my Leg Break tricks ...
While Tony McGowan attempted:
Did she spot your googly coming,
Or your other fancy tricks?
And Farrukh Aziz from Pakistan tried:
Wanting to drive Through the covers, I just got a nick,
I heard the Third Man saying "Oh what a nice flick".
But possibly the best one came from Chandramouli in India:
I thought she would be a good catch,
And we would make a perfect match.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The English Divide

An article that focuses on an extremely important issue - The English Divide. As a trainer for English, I see a tremendous amount of anxiety students undergo whenever they are faced with that great dread of their lives - English.

Reading this, I was reminded of two students of mine. Both have similar stories. One is the son of a drunkard father who no longer works and a vegetable seller mother. This student studied on his own finances after class XII, by working as an LIC agent. He got a call from FMS (part time program) and could not convert it. The other student was still in final year of College of Business Studies. He was the youngest son of the family. His parents, all four of his elder brothers and their wives were illiterate and the family worked as carpenters. He was in the top of his class with nearly 71% marks, a no mean achievement in a rigorous course like BBS. He had a call from IIM-Kozhikode and he too did not convert it. And oh, did I mention both of them belonged to Scheduled Caste catergory. Probably they too were faced with similar prejudices.

This article is by Barkha Dutt.

One of the most awkward - and yet, strangely compelling - things about journalism is that sometimes your work makes you hold a mirror to your own life. This past week, a quiet, but determined 16-year-old became an unexpected reflection of my education.

I have always believed that my school and college years were the first architects of my personality; like every middle-class Indian, I take pride in where I studied and what I was taught. And yet, the gentle idealism of this young girl made me pause to wonder: Had my public-school education been shamefully elitist?

At first, the story seemed straightforward enough. Garima Godara, a CBSE topper, with an astonishing 97.6 per cent had taken the entrance exam for the Delhi Public School (Dwarka), the school closest to her village.

The daughter of a police constable who earned less than Rs 6,000 a month,the school's fees would have been a problem. But the family was undeterred; perhaps there would be a scholarship or a loan; surely the school would be keen to admit the girl who had topped the national capital's merit list.

Garima's proud father had spent months battling the entrenched patriarchy of his peers, fending off nosy neighbours who gossiped about why she didn't spend enough time in the kitchen. Now, he was even more determined to give his daughter the best education her marks could buy.

This could have been the story of New India and its emerging, self-made middle class; a proud milestone for a country that dares to dream.

Instead, here's what happened: DPS turned her down. Her results were good, it conceded. But marks aren't everything, said the school principal to NDTV, and besides, her English was poor, and just didn't cut the grade.

Later, listening to Garima in the studio, it was hard not to feel both angry and moved. Angry because of the obvious injustice: not only was she as bright as her results indicated; there was nothing about her spoken English that suggested that she would have been unable to keep pace with the syllabus.

Yes, she spoke with a regional accent that some would consider
insufficiently sophisticated. But there was no doubt that she could not only follow a complex argument, she could also make herself understood to any English speaker.

But it was her calm that was almost heart breaking; a quiet courage that belied her teen years. It was almost as if we were more outraged and indignant than she was. During the course of the programme, a principal from a well-known school in Dehradun called in, offering her admission and a scholarship; others promised to get DPS to change its mind.

But betraying only the slightest sense of hurt, she said firmly that her aim now was to show DPS that she would do better than any of its students. She had already got herself admitted to another school, and DPS could quite simply, take a walk.

As she spoke, viewers clearly shared my anger. The online poll showed that 90 per cent of viewers believed that the English language exerted a disproportionate influence over the education system.

Yet, were we all being hypocritical and dishonest? This time it was DPS under the microscope, but were any of us any different?

Let's say she continued to do outstandingly well in school. The next stage would be college. I pictured her trying to take the entrance interview at my old college, Delhi's St Stephen's. Would she get in? And even if she made the cut, how would other students react to her presence? Would they admire her for her academic brilliance? Or would they snigger at her
accent, titter each time she made a grammatical error and then, melt away, leaving her alone to find her own friends?

Garima's story is a metaphor for India's twisted tryst with the future. I learnt after the programme was over - and it is significant that neither she nor her parents brought this up themselves - that she is an OBC.

For some months now, as the debate over reservation has raged, opponents of the quotas have made the same point again and again: we should be a society where merit matters. It's a compelling argument, and one that I have personally supported.

But what do the anti-quota street fighters have to say now? Here's a girl who competed in the mainstream, her own Hindi medium DAV pitched against the trendier, richer, big names. But her merit was swallowed up by prejudices.

Is it any wonder then that supporters of reservation believe that the system is stacked against them, and that merit is a con-word used by upper-caste tricksters?

Her story is also a scathing comment on the class divide in India. It is fashionable for marketeers and economists to talk about the burgeoning middle class. Each day a new figure is conjured up to demonstrate the size of the Indian market, and the clout of the new middle class; is it 250 million this week or has it already reached 300 million?

We embrace these statistics, because we like the idea of India as this century's favourite financial destination. We feel flattered when Time magazine puts our country on its cover, and we talk glibly, especially to foreigners, of social mobility and how the gap between the rich and poor is closing; we argue that India's tomorrow is being built by its industrious and enterprising middle class, and we feel like the future is
unfolding, right here and right now.

But here's what we never admit. We're just the worst sorts of snobs. The social mobility of the last decade has meant that the new middle class does not consist of people like us. Instead, it is made up of people like Garima, who we still find excuses to exclude; we sneer at their lack of Westernized sophistication; make fun of their accents, and we try and
ensure that our children have nothing to do with theirs.

Finally, Garima's story exposes India's paradoxical relationship with the English-language. Nobody in the world speaks English like us. We have our own idioms, our own words and our own accents.

We pretend to love our own English and brag about how it is India's great selling point; the reason we dominate the global outsourcing business. But of course deep down we know that our English is not the English that the West really wants. And so, each time we talk to Britons or Americans, we subtly alter our diction and inflection.

When we set up our call centers, we drop the subtlety entirely and start accent classes to teach our young people to abandon the speech patterns of our own society and to migrate to a virtual, linguistic middle America, where they become impersonators of people they will never meet and never know.

But within India, we still treat our own English as the great social decider. We laugh at regional accents, smirk at those who make grammatical errors and feel most at home with those who talk like us.

Everyone else belongs on the other side of the English divide. And as it turns out, the other side of the class and caste divide as well.

Maybe we cling so tightly to this tiny community because secretly we are just insecure. Outside of our little bubble, India is changing. Every major institution in recent times - the Parliament, the bureaucracy, the military, our colleges and schools - is being forced to re-write the rules.

A new breed of Indians who no longer look towards the West for self-affirmation, is making its presence felt. We like to call this a decline in quality. But actually, it's the rest of India waiting to get in.

How long are we going to keep the gates shut?

Article available here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Brilliant Ways Girls Turn Guys Down!!

HE: I'm a photographer I've been looking for a face like yours!
SHE: I'm a plastic surgeon. I've been looking for a face like yours!!

HE: May I have the pleasure of this dance?
SHE: No, I'd like to have some pleasure too!!!

HE: How did you get to be so beautiful?
SHE: I must have been given your share!!!

HE: Will you come out with me this Saturday?
SHE: Sorry! I'm having a headache this weekend!!!

HE: Go on, don't be shy. Ask me out!
SHE: Okay, get out!!!

HE: I think I could make you very happy
SHE: Why? Are you leaving?

HE: What would you say if I asked u to marry me?
SHE: Nothing. I can't talk and laugh at the same time!!!

HE: Can I have your name?
SHE: Why, don't you already have one?

HE: Shall we go and see a film?
SHE: I've already seen it!!!

HE: Do you think it was fate that brought us together?
SHE: Nah, it was plain bad luck!!!

HE: Where have you been all my life?
SHE: Hiding from you.

HE: Haven't I seen you someplace before?
SHE: Yes, thats why I don't go there anymore.

HE: Is this seat empty?
SHE: Yes, and this one will be if you sit down.

RAW Woes

The Pakistani Secret Service - RAW - once sent a mole, posing as an Indian student, to one of the IITs. Two months later he was uncovered.
"Well," the spy explained to his superiors, "I couldn't drink that much. Firstly, it was almost physically impossible, and secondly, even if I could, it would have been against your instructions."
The RAW changed the instructions and sent in another mole. But three months later, they were facing a similar disaster.
"Have you been drinking like everybody else?" they asked the mole.
"Yes I have," the mole replied.
"How did they get onto you then?"
"They got suspicious when they found out my attendance rate was the highest in the entire university," the mole explained, "but I was only following your instructions."
Once again the RAW changed the instructions, and they sent in their third mole. Unfortunately, during the mid-term exams, they received the devastating news, the latest agent had also failed and had been expelled.
When the expelled "student" arrived for de-briefing, he said, "I had been drinking and partying just like everybody else, and just occasionally showing up at lectures, just as instructed."
"How did they get you then?" his superiors asked. "Why were you expelled?"
"I failed all my exams."

Thursday, September 14, 2006


The Smoking Gun has a great collection of famous Americans captured by police cameras, with their mug shots on public display. Of particular note are Martin Luther King Jr., Mike Tyson and Billu Bhaiya!

Wonder what will happen with an Indian website like this. Luminaries like Sallu Bhaiya, Sanju Bhaiya and every politician worth his name will be there for "Shobha Badhana"!

Computer beats human beings at crossword!

Ouch! That hurt. After chess, it is the turn of another bastion of human beings to fall. Crosswords are now being played and won by computers. What is next? Computers beating human beings at video and computer games!!

See the details in this article.


An interesting website,, is an American website that focuses on micro and macro consumer trends. Most of them are applicable to US audience, but with the shrinking gap between demands across borders, some of them are applicable to Indian audience too. eg. Have a look at this page which mentions which offers 11 simple questions to women in search of that elusively perfect jeans!

A great resource for marketers and trend-analysts.

Monday, September 11, 2006

15 minutes of laughter

Groucho Marx was two-laughs-a-second comedian. He had a great sense for nonsense and his looks complimented that amply. No wonder, his getup is still a favourite with American comedians.

Have a look at some of his quotes here.

This wikipedia page does some justice to him!


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Am I being a sesquipedalian?

Karan Thapar writes in The Hindustan Times, Mumbai Edition:

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious If you say it loud enough You'll always sound precocious.

I WONDER HOW many of you have heard of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, a delightful word from one of the more rumbustious songs from Mary Poppins? It’s an incredible 34 letters long and it’s been put together syllable by syllable. It’s a hybrid which according to Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopaedia, means ‘atoning for extreme and delicate beauty while still being highly educable’. Unfortunately, that meaning itself requires further illumination but what it suggests is that extreme beauty needs to be atoned for. The word dates back to the 1940s. However, in the Mary Poppins song it simply means fantastic.

The reason I’ve suddenly thought of it is because I’ve received an email from Anchal Anand in London informing me that the new word recognised as the longest in the English language is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. It’s 45 letters long, difficult to write and almost impossible to pronounce. It’s a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust, mostly found in volcanoes. The word was created by Everett M. Smith and designed to be the longest in the English language.

Now, as you may have guessed, there’s a well established if esoteric competition to define the longest word in English. Silently and obscured in academia, it’s been on for decades if not centuries. To be a candidate, a word not only has to exist but also be ‘in general use’. Hence the winner can change from time to time. Although pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis was coined in 1936, it was originally intended as a hoax. Pneumoconiosis, its short form, is more commonly used. But today, if my informant is correct, its full form is back in fashion.

In 1939, in Finnegans Wake, James Joyce coined nine 100 and one 101 letter long words. The most famous was Bababadal-gharagh-takammin-arronn-konn-bronn-tonn-erronn-tuonn-thunn-trovarrhoun-awnskaw n-toohoo-hoordenen-thurnuk, representing the thunderclap when Adam and Eve were thrown out off Eden. In the 1970s, Pepsi created Lip-smackin-thirst-quenchin-acetastin-motivatin-good-buzzin-cool-talkin-high-walkin-fast-livin-ever-givin-cool-fizzin, a 100 letter term. Around the same time McDonalds came up with twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun, which is 71 letters long. But none of these count as proper words. And, indeed, they are not.

The most common answer to the question what is the longest English word is antidisestablishmentarianism. This 28 letter creation dates back to the mid-19th century when a movement to disestablish the Church of England was at its apogee. Antidisestablishmentarians were those who opposed it. They won — i.e. the Church was not disestablished — but victory ensured their cause faded away. Today, the word is an archaism.

My favourite long words — also considered by some to be the longest in the English language — have a neat twist in their meaning. The first is Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. Before I tell you what it means, see if you can guess. The ‘hippo’ and the ‘monster’ are one set of giveaways. The ‘phobia’ at the end another. So, can you work it out? If you can’t, let me reveal that this 36 letter wonder means ‘fear of long words’! The other is floccinaucinihilipilification. This one, at 29 letters, is shorter but it’s a lot older. It dates back to at least 1741 when William Shenstone, in his Works in Prose and Verse, wrote: “I loved him for nothing so much as his floccinaucinihilipilification of money.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, floccinaucinihilipilification was created as an erudite joke by an Etonian who, upon consulting a Latin text book, found four words connoting ‘nothing’ or ‘worthless’, combined them and then added verb-endings. So what does it mean? The art of estimating something to be worthless! If you are particular or pedantic about getting these things right you could opt for floccinaucinihilipilificatious, which has one letter more and means ‘small’ or ‘insignificant’. But why be petty?

Incidentally, if you feel these words have no relevance or practical usage, pause and think again. American senators seem to be rather fond of floccinaucinihilipilification. On 17 June, 1991, Senators Robert Byrd and Daniel Patrick Moynihan competed to show who could use it more often on the Senate floor. Senator Moynihan even attempted to establish floccinaucinihilipilificationism. Sadly, he wasn’t successful. In July 1999 Senator Jesse Helms used it whilst describing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. I doubt if anyone knew what he meant. So far no one has used it in the 21st century. But there are 94 years left.

Anyway, am I being sesquipedalian? Or have I lost you with my longwindedness?

Made me think

“If not us, who? If not now, when?”
- Slogan by Czech University Students in Prague, Nov. 1989.

I am glad to say that I already follow this to every extent possible. I do whatever I can, so that when I leave this world, I can say that I left it a better place than what I got when I came here. Our previous generations did it for me and we should do it for our future generations.

Sounds philosophical and made up, but that is the way I really think!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Flying-car firm releases simulator, takes deposits

The Transition, a plane that can also be driven as a car, won't come out for a few years, but you can try a flight simulator now and is real enough for you to put a deposit on a future plane too!

Read more here. And happy ridin...err...flying!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Robert Frost

Robert Frost remains one of my favourite poets. His writing is simple, meaningful and uncomplicated. Here are two samples that I really like.

From the first one, the last two lines particularly strike me.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the road less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And in the second one, I am really impressed by the last four. Infact, they are a part of my desktop wallpaper!
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The English Teacher

Vocabulary badhane ka iss se behtar tareeka ho toh zaroor bataiye!

A man comes home one day to find his wife, an English teacher, in bed with his best friend.
"Darling," he cried, "how could you? After all the years we've been together, I come home from work to find you like this. I am surprised."
"No, no, my dear," corrected his wife, "you are amazed. I am surprised."

Daft Definition

Primate: The act of removing your spouse from in front of the TV.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I am back for a small break I took. Nothing special, just visited my brother and his family in Jaipur. The real reason for me to be excited is that this was my first real break in nearly three years. To be honest, I did receive a few work related calls, and checked my email once (25 minutes only!) in these three days. But, for the most part, I played with my nephew and niece, painted with them, separated their fights, watched cartoons, went for a movie and a dinner with the family ("Lage Raho Munnabhai" Rrrrocks!!!) and generally had a timepass!

I really needed a break. I did not realise it so much before I took the break but more so after I have taken the break. When I had my own venture running, I had the luxury of setting up my schedule, and while the work did get very taxing at times, I had the option of taking a break when I wanted. But since I have joined back a full-time job, breaks have been a big luxury. My normal work day extends anywhere from 14 to 20 hours and this was beginning to take its toll. Mental fatigue aside, I started feeling physical exhaustion too!

The break forces me to contemplate a longer break - 15 days on a beach and 15 days on a mountain. No cellphone, no mail access. That is required!

Saturday, September 02, 2006


You can tell how big a person is what it takes to discourage him.

Do bathtubs drain counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere?

Do they? Why don't you check it out on your own? Have a look here.

How to get rid of pesky telecallers

I am sure everyone with a mobile has suffered the girls who want to give you a loan or excitedly announce that I have won a fantastic stay in some hotel resort and would be able to claim it, if I would just visit them!

I have invented some of the best ways of getting rid of these pests and here I share a few!

1. Tell them you want a loan for Rs. 5 crore. That really gets their attention and then ask them if the recent bankruptcy you have filed for will affect this anyhow!

2. Tell them you want the loan but don't want to repay, does it somehow work that way? They put the phone down in a great hurry!

3. Ask for zero interest schemes.

4. Ask them to tell your name. Mostly they fail since they call random numbers. Abuse them and put down the phone!

5. Tell them you are busy but will speak with them in a moment. Keep the line on hold and do your work. Pareshan hokar 5-10 minute mein apne aap disconnect kar dete hain!

6. This is my persnoal favurite. It worked very well recently. I faked a "policewallah" accent and shouted at them - "Arre tera naam kya hai? Tera manager kaun hai? Company ka director kaun hai? Yeh thane ka phone number hai. Tere ko abhi batata hoon. Phone karke dukhi karti hai! Naam bata! Teri FIR likhta hoon." Aisi bhaagi, aisi bhaagi ki kya bataoon :)

A Younger India Is Flexing Its Industrial Brawn

Nice Article from New York Times

PUNE, India ­ - India’s economic advancement no longer rests on telephone call centers and computer programmers. Among villages with thatch-roofed huts and dirt roads on the outskirts of this city in central India, John Deere and LG Electronics have recently built factories turning out tractors and color television sets for sale in India and for export to the United States. In Hazira, in northwestern India, where some residents still rely on camels to carry traders’ goods, the Essar Group is making steel to be used for ventilation shafts in Philadelphia, high-rise structural beams in Chicago and car engine mountings in Detroit.

For decades, India followed a route to economic development strikingly different from that of countries like Japan, South Korea or China. While its Asian rivals placed their bets on manufacturing and exports, India focused on its domestic economy and grew more slowly with an emphasis on services. But all that is starting to change. India’s annual growth in manufacturing output, at 9 percent and accelerating, is close to catching growth in services, at 10 percent. Exports of manufactured goods to the United States are now rising faster in percentage terms than China’s, although from a much smaller base. More than two-thirds of foreign investment in the last year has gone into manufacturing in India, not services. “

Saying we are a back office and China is a factory is a backhanded compliment,” said Kamal Nath, India’s minister of commerce and industry. “It’s not really correct.” Indeed, in interviews at 18 Indian factories and other businesses in 10 cities and villages scattered across the length and breadth of the nation, the picture that emerges is of a country being driven by advances in manufacturing to a much brisker pace of economic growth.

A prime reason India is now developing into the world’s next big industrial power is that a number of global manufacturers are already looking ahead to a serious demographic squeeze facing China. Because of China’s “one child” policy, family sizes have been shrinking there since the 1980’s, so fewer young people will be available soon for factory labor.

India is not expected to pass China in total population until 2030. But India will have more young workers aged 20 to 24 by 2013; the International Labor Organization predicts that by 2020, India will have 116 million workers in this age bracket to China’s 94 million. India’s young population will also make it a huge and growing market for years to come, while the engineering skills and English skills of its educated elite will make it competitive across a wide range of industries. So even though India remains a difficult place to do business, several multinationals have been placing big bets on India in hopes of taking advantage of this shifting global dynamic.

General Motors and Motorola are preparing to build plants in western and southern India. Posco of South Korea and Mittal Steel of the Netherlands have each announced plans to erect giant steel mills in eastern India, where Reliance of India will soon construct one of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants. They are finding India’s labor force well suited to their goals. When LG set out in 2005 to fill 458 assembly line jobs at its factory here at a starting wage of $90 a month, it required that each applicant have at least 15 years of education ­ usually high school plus technical college.

Seeking a young work force, the company decided that no more than 1 percent of the workers could have had any prior work experience. Despite the limitation, 55,000 young people met its criteria for interviews. “In the villages there is little income,” said Siddu Matheapattu, 24, in between applying sealant to refrigerator frames. “Here I can earn more.”

By contrast, cities in the export-oriented Guangdong Province in southeastern China raised monthly minimum wages this summer by 18 percent, to $70 to $100 a month, after factories reported that they had one million more jobs than workers to fill them. Factories elsewhere in China face less severe labor shortages, but they also are being forced to raise wages.

As India has deregulated its economy, output has gradually accelerated to a growth rate of 8 percent a year, feeding a national euphoria and a few hopes of someday even beating China’s annual growth of more than 10 percent. Plenty of obstacles remain, however, notably India’s weak infrastructure. China invests $7 on roads, ports, electricity and other backbones of a modern economy for every dollar spent by India ­ and it shows. Ports here are struggling to handle rising exports, blackouts are frequent and dirt roads are common even in Bangalore, the center of the country’s sophisticated computer programming industry.

Pervasive corruption has slowed many efforts to fix these problems. India’s labor laws, little changed since they were enacted just after independence in 1947, also continue to discourage companies from hiring workers, by making it very difficult to lay off employees even if a company’s fortunes sour or the economy slows. Still, a new optimism prevails in India, bordering at times on euphoria. “The Chinese are very good at copying things, but Indians believe in quality work, we believe in meeting pollution norms,” said S. S. Pathania, the assistant general manager of the Hero Honda motorcycle factory in Gurgaon, 30 miles south of New Delhi. “I think India will pass China very soon.”

An Unexpected Boom In Manufacturing
Sprawling across more than a square mile next to a gray tidal estuary, the scale of the Essar Group’s complex in Hazira is already impressive. Essar has its own port to bring in iron ore and its own large gas-fired power plant for electricity. At the steel mill, giant buckets pour 150 tons of molten metal at a time to form slabs 2 yards wide and up to 10 yards long. But the complex is just starting to grow. Essar is quintupling steel production and pushing forward a sevenfold increase in power generation, most of it for sale to a national grid desperately short of electricity.

Growth on that scale, especially in industries like steel and power but also in areas like car parts and household appliances, is what India has long lacked. Industrial production accounts for only a fifth of India’s economic output, compared with two-fifths of China’s. But this ratio is starting to rise in India as manufacturing, led by exports, grows faster than agriculture and even some service industries.

Until recently, legislation effectively barred companies with more than 100 employees from competing in many industries. The laws were intended to protect tiny businesses in villages, often employing women and minorities; high tariffs were placed on imports as well.

But a result was hundreds of thousands of businesses too small to be competitive; India lags behind even the impoverished Bangladesh next door in exports of garments, a big creator of jobs for China. The Indian government has responded by narrowing the list of protected industries to 326 categories of goods from 20,000 and has lowered tariffs. Comparing factories in India to their competitors in China, many of the Indian factories are smaller but some appear more efficient.

India’s stronger financial system demands higher interest rates than China’s state-owned banks, making it costlier to hold the small mountains of components awaiting assembly that are often seen in Chinese factories. The Confederation of Indian Industry, a national trade group, has also been highly successful in pushing companies to adopt the latest Japanese lean manufacturing techniques. The drawback is that the nation’s manufacturing boom, built on higher-quality goods made under more modern conditions than in China, is not likely to create as many factory jobs as India needs.

The Essar steel mill, for example, has been replacing old, labor-intensive equipment with more modern gear. “We were having it all done manually, but because the customers demand very high quality, we have to do it automatically,” yelled Rajesh Pandita, an Essar manager, over the roar of a house-size machine that was stretching a minivan-size coil of steel back and forth through large rollers until it was little thicker than plastic kitchen wrap.

The Whirlpool factory in Pune uses machines, not people, to fold the steel exteriors of refrigerators. It has some of the highest productivity per worker of any Whirlpool factory in the world, with just 208 line workers producing up to 33,000 refrigerators a month. Labor laws, however, discourage flexibility. They still ban companies from allowing manufacturing workers to put in more than 54 hours of overtime in a three-month period even if the workers want to earn extra money. Firing workers is extremely difficult.

“Companies think twice, 10 times before they hire new people,” said Sunil Kant Munjal, the chairman of the Hero Group, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of inexpensive motorcycles. Hero in Gurgaon, on the southern outskirts of New Delhi, and its archrival, the Lifan Group in Chongqing, a city in western China, produce comparable motorcycles but the similarity ends there. Hero markets heavily to its domestic market, protected from foreign competition by high import tariffs, while Lifan emphasizes exports.

With scant ventilation, Lifan’s factories are filled with diesel exhaust as workers test engines and ride finished bikes at breakneck speed out the doors, zigzagging past co-workers. Hero’s factory in Gurgaon, where Honda holds a minority stake, has far better safety standards and excellent ventilation. The Lifan factory pays less than $100 a month. The heavily unionized Hero factory pays $150 a month plus bonuses of up to $370 a month; nearly half the workers earn the top bonus, Mr. Pathania said.

Lifan’s labor force is quiescent ­ would-be organizers of independent labor unions face long jail terms or worse in China. Hero’s workers staged a successful nonviolent protest in 2005 to call for more contract workers to be eligible for the bonuses as well.

Bad Roads and Blackouts Take a Toll on Efficiency
But the biggest question mark hanging over the rise of manufacturing in India lies in whether the country has enough roads, ports and electricity-generating plants to move huge quantities of goods and power the factories that make them. Captain Abhay Srivastava, an operations manager at India’s busiest port, was on duty on a recent afternoon when a phone call suddenly came in from the docks below. An enormous container ship from Qatar needed to slide 35 feet backward along the privately managed dock at the Nhava Sheva port near Mumbai to allow another large vessel to squeeze into the dock in front of it.

Captain Srivastava grabbed his white hard hat and dashed for the elevator. As soon as he reached the water’s edge, a dozen laborers in orange jumpsuits began straining to arrange a cat’s cradle of heavy, five-inch-thick ropes that would allow the ship to use its powerful winches to pull itself out of the way. “They are efficient people; they don’t speak a lot,” said Captain Srivastava, who has visited most of the world’s major ports either as a ship captain or for port training exercises. “You go to some places and they just stand around.”

The efficiency of the Nhava Sheva port ­ approaches West Coast ports in the United States in the number of containers moved per hour ­ shows that India is capable of producing world-class facilities. But big as it is, Nhava Sheva is too small to handle the crush of traffic. John Deere tractors wait in a container at the dock for one to four days before being loaded on a ship. “If this pace of growth continues, we will see more congestion at the port,” said Raj Kalathur, the managing director and chief executive of Deere’s operations in India.

Similar worries prevail in Chennai, formerly Madras. “Another four or five years, we’ll be choked,” said M. Rafeeque Ahmed, the chairman of the Farida Group, a 9,000-employee shoe manufacturer in Chennai that needs the port for exports. Infrastructure improvements are particularly important because manufacturing companies are buying more and more components from far-flung suppliers. Making sure all those parts arrive on time requires a reliable transportation system.

“Manufacturing is no longer done all under one roof,” said Victor Fung, the chairman of the Li & Fung Group, a large Hong Kong-based company that buys goods from factories across Asia for sale to retailers and wholesalers in the United States and Europe. Indian officials are talking about expansion. Planning is under way for new wharves at Nhava Sheva, but the years-long task of construction has not yet started.

China has faced capacity problems, too. A surge in steel production in early 2004 overwhelmed bulk cargo ports. Inflation quintupled in a year, to 5.3 percent, as bottlenecks at ports, highways, railroads and elsewhere in China drove up companies’ costs. The Chinese response was swift and decisive. The pace of port investment nearly tripled in six months. Work crews labored around the clock to erect more cranes and expand wharves.

The Chinese economy grew at a breathtaking pace of 11.3 percent in the second quarter of 2006, but consumer prices were just 1 percent higher in July than a year earlier. By contrast, India is struggling with 8 percent inflation this summer as bottlenecks have appeared after three years of 8 percent growth.

Belatedly, India’s roads and ports are improving. Just four years ago, Sona Koyo Steering Systems, an auto parts manufacturer, incurred hefty financing costs to keep a month’s inventory on hand in case deliveries were delayed. Now its factory in Gurgaon makes six deliveries a day to a nearby Maruti car assembly plant; the eight-mile drive takes an hour or more because of traffic jams, but the deliveries get through. “I’m not going to deny infrastructure is bad,” said Surinder Kapur, Sona’s chairman and managing director. “But a lot of our vendors are around us, a lot of our customers are close to us.”

India is also starting to address chronic power shortages. But it is still a serious problem in northern India, where Mr. Kapur has his steering systems factory. He receives electricity from the national grid just seven or eight hours a day. So the factory has three enormous diesel generators, one bigger than a typical Manhattan living room, operating at four times what an industrial user in the United States usually pays.

Despite such obstacles, India’s manufacturing sector appears poised for further growth. In a country where the national symbol has shifted from government bureaucrats at aging desks to call center operators in cubicles, it looks as if the next icon will be the laptop-toting engineer on a factory floor. “The old philosophy was, ‘I should work in an office, come in at 10 and leave at 4,’ ” said Nitin Kulkarni, 35, an engineer at the Hazira steel mill. But in recent years, he added, “there has been a revolution.”

Read it online here

Batsman plays on despite heart attack

Duniya mein cricket ke deewanon ki koi kami nahin hai. Have a look at this idiot, who kept playing so that he could score his first half-century!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Shayari Blog

Came across a new blog on Shayari. Have a dekko.

Microsoft and Google give away office space

Microsoft and Google are offering free online packages to put your company's touch on its communications and to help build basic Web sites. While Office Live lets you register a domain name for free, Google's tools work within more browsers.

Read more here.


As per New Scientist Feedback, the word Googling is out and FWSEing is in. To understand the previous line, click here!