Thursday, March 29, 2007

US no longer technology leader

A slightly unusual and interesting report. I don't agree completely, but have a look nonetheless. Article at BBC.

Vakil Sahab

This is a character sketch that I wrote. I wrote it over a period of time, with the idea coming to my mind when I saw this man, nearly 4 years ago. I wrote my initial draft on the spot. I converted it into a full-blown sketch last year but never got around to putting it up on the blog. A character sketch has no story, it is just what the name suggests; a character sketch. Do leave your comments on this one.

A small town. A slightly dusty afternoon. The dampness of yesterday’s rains has started to give way under the relentless attack of the freshly bathed sun. A bit of heaviness hangs in the air. Like an unpleasant thought that refuses to go away. It is as humid as anywhere yet a bit more cool in the large tin shade outside the local courts. The shade houses close to a hundred and seventy-five lawyers. A jumble of black coats, dark pants, white shirts and kurtas, dhotis and pagdis. The sickly sweet smell of stale tobacco mixed with pungent sweat, dust and rancid decay enters everyone’s nostrils. No one feels it.

A lawyer in this hodgepodge. Small town creature. Short, squat, possessor of a closely-cropped pate; hair that has been cut so short that it stands at its ends, resembling the back of a porcupine. The skin-folds at the back of his head bulge and peek through this liberally oiled bush every time he throws his head back to look at the ceiling. The hair is grey, black and white; all thrown together in equal measure. The oil promotes quick growth and is a quick preparation for its next shearing. It seems that the hair is shorn off completely once a month so that his prospective clients can identify with him more closely. The oil trickles down along with copious amounts of sweat and gives his face an extra luminousity. He wipes off the sweat with a deliberate and slow action, using both the shoulders of his shirt alternately. He is slow, not because he is weak, but because he can afford to. He has all the time in the world.

His pencil moustache harks back to the heroes of black & white movie era, frozen in a time capsule. Once a fashion has been adopted there is no deviation from it. He hates change. A shave has been executed today morning by the neighbourhood barber and the results are there for everyone to see. A bit of hair is left unshaved near his jowls. He strokes it out of boredom. This will make its presence felt only today. Since the shaving ritual is performed on alternate days, this extra growth will hardly be noticeable on the second day. This ritual saves money and anyway who needs a shave everyday?

A paunch rests gently on the thighs, heaving with a slow rhythm of breathing, doing complete justice to years of sitting and talking. Talking to fellow lawyers and clients over endless cups of tea - tea with too much sugar, too much milk and too less tea.

A mandatory white shirt with an extra dose of indigo that makes it look almost bluish. Dappled with yellow. Striped pants complete the ensemble. The attire tells prospective clients that he is “Vakil Sahab”.

The feet sport an old and decaying pair of sports shoes, the ones probably purchased at the local shoe store, because it had got a new lot from the city, and was giving a nice inaugural discount to kick-start the shop. Or may be the shop was closing down and gave a nice discount to rid itself of the old stock.

A small hole in the vest is visible from under the now-translucent-from-sweat shirt. He doesn’t care for he can’t see the hole. Even if he could, it would not matter. The button holding the most critical part of the shirt, the one directly above the paunch, seems to be close to yielding, but miraculously stays put. He looks at his watch for the seventeenth time in the past fifteen minutes yet fails in his desperate attempt to look busy. There is no client till now. It is already 11 in the morning. The court has been open since 10. He must get a client today, if he is to get his bottle in the evening.

He takes out a small key from his top pocket and puts it in the keyhole of the top drawer of his table. It turns smoothly. He opens it slightly to release the mechanism that protects the lower drawers. He opens the middle drawer, takes out a small rag, cleans the imaginary dust from the table and wipes away some sweat that seems to have trickled down along his forearms and elbows, onto the table.

He promises himself to wear the old full-sleeved shirt tomorrow, instead of this half-sleeved one. They full-sleeved shirt does not look bad, just a bit frayed at the collars and cuffs – maybe his wife could repair them once again – but at least the mess on the table would not happen. Appearances are important in this business and a sweaty creature has a far lesser chance of trapping a client than a somber-looking man.

He plans to get a fan soon. A fan increases the prestige one has among the clients. Some lawyers have their own fans and their own private air. Most others make do with whatever blows their way. His first priority is to replace the broken armrests of a chair in front of him, one of the two that the clients sit on. But before that he needs a better lock & chain that guards his belongings when he leaves for the day. The present one seems to be decaying like his practice. People don’t fight enough in this town, or may be he does not know many litigious people.

He replaces the rag at its place. He rummages through the other contents of the drawer. An old receipt for eleven rupees for a Jagraan, which some local boys took from him. He wanted to give five, but as everyone was giving eleven, he had to stick to the norm. Those boys looked like scoundrels! Must have had foreign whisky from the money they collected. He knew the Jagraan was a sham to collect money yet could not protest.

An old notice from his landlord. Eviction! At least he could fight this case properly, as there was no payment problem with this client. Most others were always short on their dues. Most of his clients are farmers with small land holdings in the villages near the town and fight civil cases over land, inheritance or money. And sometimes criminal cases over the not-so-uncommon violence - a result of the civil cases. Most people paid fees by mortgaging land or valuables.

An old bar council election handbill. Cheaply printed on recycled paper. “Vote Support Elect. Chandan Singh Awana Group.” He had tried his hand at the local politics but that demanded too much money and he could barely make both ends meet. Plus everyone demanded too much money for even getting small jobs done. He was content being on the fringes.

A photo of him and a prominent local politician. He had garlanded him outside his house when the politician was canvassing for votes in the last elections in his area. A photographer had charged 30 rupees for a copy of the photo. The thug! But at least he had a nice souvenir. He should have this framed before it loses its sheen. But where will he put it up? One needs a wall for that, and all he has is one side of a metal pole of the tin-shed. Maybe he will tie a metallic wire and make a loop that will accommodate the photo.

©Ankur Jain, 2007. Any copying, by any means, without express written permission, is illegal.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I am glad that India Lost

I am glad that the Indian team has exited from the Cricket World Cup 2007. Before you collectively launch into lynching me for making that blasphemous statement, let me put forward my side of the story.

  1. I am a great fan of the game of cricket, the Indian cricket team, its various players and things cricket in general.
  2. That does not mean that I am mad about cricket. I used to be, especially when I was younger, but even then, I was never mad to the extent that I would blindly support my team.
  3. Our team was under-prepared. Period. What people called experience of the side, was actually too much reliance on old-war horses. One-day cricket demands strong fielding and of the current bunch, very few can match the agility of our competitors. India's match against Bangladesh is a good example. Their on-field exuberance and enthusiasm reminded me of our own team in the days, when One-Day Cricket was picking up in India, and our cricketers were in general younger. Bangladesh saved 20-30 runs in the field and gave nothing away. They won the match in the last stages, and this run margin is critical.
  4. We do not have good all-rounders in the one-day side. Our 1983 team had, wittingly or unwittingly, 7 all-rounders. That made the difference. If one did not deliver then the other did. If one failed in batting, as can happen to anyone, he did so with his fielding or bowling. That made a contribution of 11 players count many times. With a team of specialists, we fail on that count.
  5. There is too much irrational expectation from fans that we will win all the time. We can't. Even Australia loses on a bad day. The Brazilians start as favourites in each Soccer World Cup. They also lose and go back home. Our players are fallible, just as anyone else. If they win, don't make them Gods. And if they lose, don't make them devils. They are human-beings. Let them remain that.
  6. So, when India loses and goes out, I am happy because it is a reality check. It is time for the right expectations.
Hasta La Victoria Siempre!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

True, isn't it?

The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am...but reveal the way I am.
-Dr. Sam Peeples

Never make an excuse by saying, "I could not achieve because of...."; have the guts to say, "I achieved despite..."

A tunnel 57 km long, 2 km underground!

As this article points out, the Alps is another frontier man is willing to challenge. Amazing, to say the least!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Taxation Demystified

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until on day, the owner threw them a curve.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings) .
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings) .
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got TEN times more than I!"
"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We! didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, dear people, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

This was developed by Prof.David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Formula 69 DVDs for sale

A letter from my order the DVDs.
I hear the movie is good :)

Formula 69 is a sci-fi comedy film about 3 IITians using their crazy inventions to solve a murder mystery and find a cure for terrorism.
What's unusual about this film is that it has been made almost entirely with IITians.There were no people from the film industry involved in the making of this feature film.
We have just tied up with a few companies to distribute our feature film - Formula 69. The film DVDs are available for sale online through the following sites: (direct indatimes link:
[Duration: 99 minutes, Language: Hindi (with English subtitles), Censor Rating 'U', Price: Rs. 200/- only ]
So if you are getting bored in office, do some time pass, and order the movie to watch...over the weekend...or better still on a weekday in office.
Tanya Singhal
Production Manager 'FORMULA 69'

The Dancing Cow

Michal and Kental started arguing as to which of them wrote the better music.

"My music is better," Michal said.
"My melodies bring tears to the eyes of all women."

"No, my music is better," Kental disagreed.
"My scores are more enchanting than anything! Your music couldn't move a cow, my poor Michal."

"And what do you think? That your scores would make it dance?"

The dispute was in full swing when a peasant passed by, leading his cow back home from the field. The two musicians saw an opportunity to put their theories to the test.

"Hello there," they said. "Would you mind if we played something for your cow?"
"Well, if it gives you pleasure, why not? She's seen a lot worse in her day, I can tell you."

Michal warmed his hands, tuned his balalaika and played the most beautiful melody ever heard by a cow. But without result - the beast ruminated without moving an ear. Vexed, Michal passed the instrument to his compatriot, who played a lively score with the same result - no reaction from the cow.

"It's a lost cause," Michal cried.
"Your cow does not have a musical ear."

"Well, I don't know about that," the peasant replied. "If you would lend me your instrument for a moment, I could play something for her."

Intrigued, Michal and Kental handed over the balalaika. The peasant did his best to imitate the humming of the flies and the mooing of little cows. The cow lifted her ears, started whipping her tail from side to side, and walked closer to the peasant as if to hear the music better.

If you have trouble communicating with people, it may be that, like Michal and Kental, you are not playing the music they are used to hearing.

Don't try to flatter your listeners, but speak with words that they understand. Don't try to impose your meaning by using words and sentences that are too complex. As Robert Shapiro Said, "Because we think that we have to persuade, we forget how to listen."


There are three things that if a man does not know, he cannot live long in this world:
What is too much for him,
What is too little for him, and
What is just right for him.
- Swahili Proverb

Contrary Proverbs

  • All good things come to those who wait. BUT Time and tide waits for no man.
  • The pen is mightier than the sword. BUT Actions speak louder than words.
  • Wise men think alike. BUT Fools seldom differ.
  • The best things in life are free. BUT There's no such thing as a free lunch.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. BUT Time waits for no man.
  • Look before you leap. BUT Strike while the iron is hot.
  • Do it well, or not at all. BUT Half a loaf is better than none.
  • Birds of a feather flock together. BUT Opposites attract.
  • Don't cross your bridges before you come to them. BUT Forewarned is forearmed.
  • Doubt is the beginning of wisdom. BUT Faith will move mountains.
  • Great starts make great finishes. BUT It ain't over 'till it's over.
  • Practice makes perfect. BUT All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • Silence is golden. BUT The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  • You're never too old to learn. BUT You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
  • What's good for the goose is good for the gander. BUT One man's meat is another man's poison.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. BUT Out of sight, out of mind
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth. BUT Many hands make light work.
  • Hold fast to the words of your ancestors. BUT Wise men make proverbs and fools repeat them.

The Comet of 2007

I still fondly remember the comet Shoemaker-Levy. A spectacle that can be called AMAZING at the least. Here's news for another equally spectacular one. The Great Comet of 2007.

Marooned on an island

Mahesh and Mona are flying to Australia for a two-week vacation to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Suddenly, over the public address system, the Captain announces, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am afraid I have some very bad news. Our engines have ceased functioning and we will attempt an emergency landing. Luckily, I see an uncharted island below us and we should be able to land on the beach.

However, the odds are that we may never be rescued and will have to live on the island for the rest of our lives!" Thanks to the skill of the flight crew, the plane lands safely on the island.

An hour later Mahesh turns to his wife and asks, "Mona, did we pay our Rs 5 lakh deposit cheque yet to ICICI Bank?"
"No, sweetheart," she responds.

Mahesh, still shaken from the crash landing, then asks, "Mona, did we pay our ICICI Bank Master card yet?"
"Oh no! I'm sorry. I forgot to send the cheque," she says.

"One last thing, Mona. Did you remember to send cheques for the auto loan to them too this month?" he asks.
"Oh, forgive me, Mahesh," begged Mona. "I didn't send that one, either."

Mahesh grabs her and gives her the biggest kiss in 40 years. Mona pulls away and asks him, "So, why did you kiss me?"
Mahesh answers, "They'll find us!"

Matrimonial Ads

FISHERMAN :- Wife wanted, must be able to dig, clean, cook worms and clean fish.Must have own boat with motor. Please send photograph of motorboat.

SALESMAN:- Once in a lifetime offer, to get yourself the original, genuine article. One of the most handsome and smartest bachelor's around is now looking for a wife. And you could be the lucky one he chooses! Has own house, car and successful career!

ECONOMIST:- I am in demand of a wife. Supply is great though my requirements are high. However the elasticity of my demands should not bear too heavy a burden upon the national interest.

MATHEMATICIAN:- Wife required to complete the formula of my life. Must be numerate and understand complex algebraic logarithms. Needed to help further my family unit.

IT CONSULTANT:- Well there is definite room for improvement in my life. The speed of my current flows of information and processes is slowing down and the injection of a wife into my life is bound to improve efficiency. Compatibility could be an issue.

BUSINESS MAN:- Wife wanted for company.

POLITICIAN:- I feel there is a need in this world, to improve the ways we live,to harmonize the processes of life and to build upon past differences and short comings. I believe that we the people need someone to share our lives. To feel the joys of parent hood, and bear the social responsibilities, as we should in a civilized society.................
(etc etc and never getting to the point)

CAR DEALER:- Wanted a sturdy, reliable,low depreciating wife.Should be in excellent working condition.

FARMER:- Wanted a wife from good stock.Required for breeding.

LAWYER:- I hereby propose to solicit myself as an eligible candidate for the post of wife after marriage. The person whom I'm looking for should be strictly a girl.The girl should be strictly a girl, with evidence to support this view that she is a girl.The girl should be willing to surrender to the service and jurisdiction of My Lord Myself. Any objection?

How are answer sheets graded

A beautiful and tounge-in-cheek look at answer sheet grading can be seen here. Do look. One of the best I have seen :-D

Ek Aur Chatai

7 sadhu, 7 chatai per dhyaan lagakar baithe the.
Ek aadmi aaya aur sabse bujurg sadhu ko pranam kar poochta hai
"Maharaj ladki nahi pat rahi hai.. kya karu...?"
Woh sadhu sabse chote sadhu ko pukarta hain...aur kehtaa hai
"chotu....ek aur chatai laga de beta...."

How True!!!

Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.
- Lord Byron (1788-1824), English poet.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Munna and Circuit

Circuit: Bhai america mein address puchega tho kya bolne ka?
Munna: Dhobhi Ghaat
Circuit: Bhai english mein bolneka toh?
Munna: Washington

Circuit: Bhai idhar aane ko kya bolna?
Munna: Come Here
Circuit: Bhai phir udhar jaaneko kya bolthe hai?
Munna: Pehle udhar jaaneka phir bolneka come here.

Circuit: Bhai yeh kaisa bolne ka - chal-e-hat hawa aane de
Munna: simple hai yaar - Hey u move sideways let the air force come in.

Circuit: Bhai tum tho pass ho gela bhai
Munna: Yes bro i have just passed away

Munna: Abhi tu bol eh mamu bheja mat phira
Circuit: Mother's brother dont rotate my brain

Munna: Yeh bol idhar aa khajhur detha hun karcha pani
Circuit: Come with me for a date i will pay u

Munna: Ab yeh bol apun ko bahut sardi ho gayeli hai
Circuit: I got big winter in small nose

Ha Ha Ha

If you do somebody in Ireland a favour, you make an enemy for life.
- Hugh Leonard

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Richard Feynman

For those of you, who have not heard of him, Richard Feynman was reputedly the person with the lowest IQ (even at this low end, he was fairly high, probably at 125) to win a Nobel prize for scientific pursuits. I learnt of him first when I read his book, "Surely You are Joking Mr. Feynman". His interests were diverse including physics, biology and lock picking!

He was, by nature, a very curious person; a quality that I personally possess to some extent, and cherish a great deal. Here's a 50 minute video of him, in an interview with the BBC. It is called "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out". An instruction in itself.

Just goes on to show that your curiosity can be a good substitute for very high IQ.