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Blogging again …

I think I am finally in that place, where I can start blogging again …
The past couple of months have been pretty hectic – and everytime I thought I’d start writing, I would realise I had something better to do …
As you can expect, some important stuff happened since the last time I wrote …
A small recap is the order of the day I guess …
I will dedicate a blog each to all of these things …

  1. I have switched to wordpress. It was waiting to happen. Blogger has been extremely awesome – and I will miss a lot of things there, but it was time that I took up the hosting of my blog on my own server.
    (As of writing, this blog is actually on wordpress.com – but I will be moving it soon to another personal server)
    Wordpress has tonnes of more features too which I just loooove … so the move was just waiting to happen…
    More about this in another post …
  2. We finally registered our own company – ThinkingSpace Technologies.
    Technically, we’re 4 months old already – but the registration happened of late – and I am still basking in that sense of achievement.
    We’re just three classmates from college, don’t have posh offices (yet) but are poised to get there extremely soon!
    Watch this space for more …
    And yes, we also do useful things (see next point)
  3. We took ActiveCiti to Public Beta.
    ActiveCiti – our first product, entered into its public beta phase (after a month of being in stealth private beta) and the response has been good so far.
    If you don’t know what it is — ActiveCiti is this extremely cool event management application — with which you can create, plan and organise your events very, very easily.
    From inviting friends, adding other organisers, polling people to what they’d prefer, sending automatic emails about changes to the original plan — ActiveCiti does it all.
    You can check it out at: http://www.activeciti.comIf you are wondering, this is not quite the same application we did for our final year project a year ago.
    It has been completely written from scratch – and does tonnes of things the previous version did not …
    Please do check it out and we’d love to hear your comments and feedback on this.

Hmm …
So, these are the things that have happened to me so far – and which have consumed the bulk of my time.
Will update this list if I think of anything else …
And please do update your bookmarks / blogroll to: http://blog.saurabhj.com for my blog.
Even if the base platform changes, my blog will always be accessible from this URL.
(Now why didn’t I think of this before !!!)
Anyways, feels really good to be back.
Thank you for being so patient and coming back and reading what I write.
[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 82.]

Atlas Shrugged …

This is to inform all you people who doubted me – I finally finished Atlas Shrugged!

Woohoo !!!

Okay, I shamelessly took 2 years and 2 attempts (the first time I gave up mid way at the John Galt speech) to finish it, but I finally did it last week and just wanted to pat my back a bit for the achievement …

Honestly, Atlas Shrugged is not a page turner per se …

It requires a good amount of dedicated reading and a lot of effort to get through some pages sometimes.

But saying that, its an awesome, awesome book – and a definite read if you had read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and liked it.

I am not going to do a book review here (because I am pretty sure I’ll suck at it) but if you have sometime to spare and want to get into the entire philosophical reading mode (without reading absolutely boring theoretical stuff), I suggest this book would be a good read.

The scope of the book is quite far fetched and exaggerated – and yet you wish such things could happen. You wish one person could stand up and stop the functioning of the world.

The name comes from the question about Atlas.

Atlas is shown carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders … What would happen to the world if he shrugged?

One of the most powerful lines from the book and my favourite (which is kinda clich̩d) is by John Galt Рthe main protagonist of the book. It goes like this:

“I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 83.]

Goodbye college …

Today, unfortunately (for some) or fortunately (for most), was our Engineering College Farewell to all the final year students … Something to explicitly tell us – that its now officially over – end of student life for the most of us …

Most of us who have been placed, have to join by the first week of July – so its a big step, moving onto a job and whole new world …

Anyways, as I turned up for the farewell at 6:30 – there was the usual, the boring principal speech and the yada yada … Something which nobody enjoys …

As the evening progressed, the motley crowd of students that we are – some were enjoying it thoroughly while others were getting bored …

After the speeches that were given by members of the staff, there were some contests organised by the juniors … of which some were fun, and some weird …

I was dragged into taking part in two contests – one which involved recognising a junior student and being able to give out his full name – these guys brought in front of me, a guy – whom I had never seen before – and thus guessing his name was way out of the question – much to the embarrasment of both of us.

The only solace was that the best anybody got was one guy guessing the last name of his junior.

The second contest which I was dragged into – which I would never have gone into – on my own free will was the Mr. College Contest …

Here things got a bit awry …

The guys who got called up (there were about 12 of us there initially) did not like the fact that the compere was dictating rules very sternly to the participants …

The contest was supposed to be a fun contest – nothing was at stake and the rules could be bent a little.

Added to the fact, that the Final Year students of our college (and a good percentage of people on the stage at that time) are NOT the most affable, the guys decided to screw up the event.

So one common line was thought, and everybody introduced themselves as : “Hi ! My name is so and so … and I’d like to be known as XXXX” (XXXX being a common joke that we have amongst us)

So, basically – the Mr and Ms. College Contest got completely ruined

Anyways, what struck me at that time was that farewells are pretty difficult to organise … especially in colleges like ours where there is not much interaction between the juniors and the seniors at other times of the year.

The thing that screwed up the last Mr. and Ms. College contest was that people thought that they were being dictated rules – rules to a party which was being thrown for them.

This is the difficult part in organising such a thing …

I have organised a couple of things, but never a farewell of such sorts – nor have I thought about how I’d do it …

The difficulty comes in drawing the line between doing it well and over doing it a bit … and mostly in catering to the people whom the party is for, making the rules – and at the same time pulling it off without making the people think that they are being bossed over.

Then again, we have a pretty rowdy crowd – which makes it even more difficult to organise such an event. But at the end of it, it was fun nevertheless and people should probably be grateful to the organisers for atleast taking the initiative to hold such a thing.

Anyways, so long MESCOE … sort of mixed reactions for me …

Technically, still a long way to college “officially” being over – there are submissions, and exams and projects to demonstrate – so shall write an “official college over post” once all those things are taken care off …

Life comes a full circle …

For all those who wanted to know, we didn’t make it to National Finals of the Imagine Cup this year.

Now, unfortunately (or fortunately) the BE Project that we guys were doing and our IC submission was one and the same thing (for the sake of our sanities) – so atleast we will be seeing this thing through (hopefully)

Our theme and ideas were kept somewhat hushed up (which feels kinda stupid now) but anyways, will be letting the cat out of the bag soon enough.

In other news, came back from an awesome two day picnic to Nagaon (which is about 8 odd kms from Alibaug) and it was awesome fun. Will be posting pictures of the trip soon.

Perhaps the last with the guys from college – everything went off nicely and everybody had loads of fun.

For starters, here are a couple of images that I took on the beach …

Low tide at the Alibaug beach at sunset – small kid with his dad

A family of four moving towards the Alibaug fort which is accessible by foot during low tides

Life on track …

I haven’t been blogging of late – have not had much time.
The last couple of weeks have gone in a blur actually. I was actively involved in organising our inter collegiate festival – and it was a mad rush of things …
One thing that I learnt after the event got over was – to never organise anything like this ever again. Its very very painful.
However, the event went off decently well – and most of the people were happy at the end of it.
However, this saturday – the last day of the event, all our sponsor banners disappeared from the parking in broad daylight – due to which, this event hasn’t gotten over – yet.
These things just never end.
Anyways, now that most of the thing is over and I have more free time, will be blogging more often.

The Pune International Film Festival

The 4th Pune International Film Festival is going around in town.
About 4 venues, with 6 screens are participating this time and they are showing about 100 movies.
The halls participating are: Gold Adlabs, E-Square, Citypride Kothrud and NFAI (National Film Archive Institute)
I, along with all the rest of my college crowd, went and got the delegate pass for 300 bucks (if you are not a student, it will cost you 500 bucks)
However, the benefit of a delegate pass is that you can walk into any movie without having to purchase any tickets at all.
Anyways, the general opinion is that if the pass costs 300 bucks, you should see 6 movies atleast to cover up for it.
Its a funny feeling actually, the all you can eat feeling.
However, I came up with my own rating – after having see a couple of really sidey movies.
My approach to this entire thing is, to pick and choose carefully which movies to watch – after which I decide an amount which I could spend to watch the movie, which would justify the movie.
If at the end of 7 days, I have made up the 300 bucks, I would be more than happy.
Anyways, got the opportunity to see some really awesome (and some really pathetic films).
Here is the story so far ( in the descending order of awesomeness)
1. Hotel Rwanda (English)
The movie is set in Rwanda (as the name suggests) and depicts the very violent struggle between the two different sects of people from Rwanda – the Hutus and the Tutsis.
The film has some very powerful performances and was nominated for 3 oscars.
A very hard hitting film.
My review on the film.
How much I would pay for this movie : Rs. 200
2. Dombivli Fast (Marathi)
This was my second good movie of the day (yesterday) and was pretty well made.
Told the story of a person – Madhav Apte – and what happens when you’re driven up the wall (kinda). You flip.
Again, contains some really powerful performances and some awesome screenplay.
Last I heard, it won the Hero Honda Screen Award for Best Direction and the Best Actor (Sandeep Kulkarni) in leading role.
My review on this film
How much I would pay for this movie : Rs. 150
3. Lemming (French)
Not all french films are good. But this one was very well done. Extremely well done.
The movie had a very Alfred Hitchcockish kind of feel to it with the entire 2 hours 10 mins of it being very intense and gripping.
Though the entire film is mostly shot in one house – indoors – and was subtitled, it was fun to watch. The subtitles were very easy to follow and I really enjoyed the roller coaster ride that the movie took me on.
My review on this film (yet to come)
How much I would pay for this movie : Rs. 80
4. While it rains hard (Malyalam)
This movie was pretty decently made and it was worth my time sitting for it.
It talks about 2 families from South India (don’t remember the exact place now) – one muslim and the other hindu.
Both the husbands are working in the Gulf.
Somehow, one manages to kill the other (in the Gulf) and surrenders and faces sure death penalty – unless the wife of the deceased decides to forgive him.
What I really liked about the movie was the “Malgudi Days” touch that it had – and the beautiful portrayal of South India – which transported you directly to the villages there.
How much I would pay for this movie : Rs. 35
5. My Nikofor (Polish)
Honestly, while it was playing, this movie was unbelievably slow.
Though the acting and direction were decently good, there were lots of editing flaws which caused a lot of confusion.
The movie is a story about Nikifor – a 85 year old Polish painter from the 1960s – who was a genius, but was living on the streets.
He also suffers from tubercolosis – and is shunned by everybody.
A 35 year old man takes care of him, and he himself is shunned by his family and friends.
How much I would pay for this movie : Rs. 20
6. A Real Man (French)
And they say, Indians make crappy movies.
After seeing this movie, I developed a phobia of entering movie halls, which, luckily for me lasted only one night.
This was the second movie that I saw, and in one word, it was pathetic.
The plot was paper thin and the movie was pretty badly made.
Though the cast acted decently well, the stupid story and untolerable songs (yes – they had songs equivalent to a Hindi movie) made the movie a definite no no.
How much I would pay for this movie : (minus) – Rs. 40
4 days still left to go … will update you as we go along …

The event update …

I haven’t been getting time of late to blog … been extremely busy – painting the town red – everyday, going around for sponsors and then later for project.
The funny thing is that I HATE to get out of the house and roam around.
Part of this reason being that to go anyplace worthwhile, I have to go quite a distance.
So, in the vacations, when many of my friends just hung out the entire day, I would wonder why do they do it.
I rarely ever did it, and now I think, have compensated for it in this vacation … maybe even for the rest of my life …
Anyways, as per the event, we’ve made some progress from the last time the post came about, but we are falling drastically short as of now … unless some miracle happens soon, we don’t know whats going to come of it.
The event’s gonna be on the 30th of Jan, and we need to get some amount of sponsorship, by the 10th of this month. Then only, we’ll be going ahead with additional expenditure, like poster printing, advertising and the works.
I guess, by this Monday, we’ll have a much clearer picture.
Either we do a full fledged event as planned (decently possible), a more cut down event – with lesser prize money and stuff (pretty likely), or we’ll be scrapping the event altogether (equally likely).
Lets see …
One more thing that you come across while doing an event is that the various people who you work with, all, have an event which they love.
Now, when the axe is about to fall on a particular event, these people will try and defend the event till the very last.
It is difficult to be stern, coz firstly, very few people are working anyways, so you don’t want to upset them, and secondly, coz you generally don’t want to upset people.
The other kind of people, which I hate completely are the ones, who come up with their own damn, neat, ideas for contests or additions to the events – last minute – months after everything was planned and months after people have slogged their asses to get to this position.
Whats more worse is, that these people, take the liberty of talking to people and start organizing things for “their” new additions and contests without consulting the others.
Very annoying.
But I guess, these are the typicals.
During this entire month and a half, I’ve met many not-so-typical people, but I’ll leave them for another post.
Lets just wait and watch and see where this all goes.

The long march ahead …

As I stepped out of the corridors of the college, into the sunset and the open fields, the Gladiator Movie theme (the one with Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerald) started playing somewhere in the background.
Was I imagining things?
It was really playing.
As my other fellow mates slowly trickled out outside, squinting their eyes at the sight of the sun (or whatever of it remained at this time of the day), I slowly made my way to the fields.
The music was still playing in the distance, but I could hear it clearly.
I walked up to the more sandy parts of the field and stood there for a while.
Then, I dug a hole in the ground with my bear hands … and taking the five sheets of papers from my bag, buried them in the hole which I had dug and covered them up with the mud.
I stood up (the music still playing), looked up at the setting sun and said “Now we’re free”
I had just finished writing my last exam paper for the semester, and the five papers that I had buried, were the tragic question papers – ones which had killed many of my fellow mates and would kill even more (including me) once the results are announced.
However, the time had passed.
We were all free to live whatever life we had left.
As I walked across to my bike, the feeling of relief and jubilation set it in …
The music in the background had gradually stopped and it was now replaced with a soft sort of ringing, which had gradually grown louder and louder.

Till I realised it was my alarm !

I woke up. It was 6:30 am – and I was in my bed with still one paper to go !
I cursed, got out of my bed, when …

I heard a thud.
It was me falled off the bed.
I was dreaming about the alarm and was actually having a recursive dream (dream in dream) like the picture in picture feature of many TVs.
Just to be sure, I dug out my cell phone and read the date.
It said, 16th Dec 2005, 3:34 am
Exams got over yesterday.
Phew, what a nightmare !
— NOTE —
Just came from watching King Kong as a post exam treat.
Wrote a review on it, which you can check out by clicking here.

Politics and Religion

I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend how people – completely logical, sane people – make rules to govern the country based on some religion bias.
If you think, this does not happen in India, you should just take a look around.
Most of the things in our country are based on religion bias.
To me, religion should be a thing which you should practice at home. Period.
Don’t bring it out.
Your a hindu, he’s a muslim, he’s a Parsi, he’s catholic – who gives a damn?
Where in the world is all this going to help?
Will it help me get a job?
Imagine me walking into a company, slam my resume on the desk and yell “Hey you ! Yes you there! I’m a jain … now gimme a job!”

I don’t know if this actually is possible – but the thought that it could be … even in the remotest, possible way is very scary.
Unfortunately, this does happen on the caste level – which is just as stupid.
So many times you find advertisements in the newspaper which go:
Vacancy for the post of a professor: 7 (Open 3, ST 2, BC 2)

Not only is this really bad, what it does is turns us Open category people against the reserved caste people even when we previously had no problem against them.
C’mon – if I was a BC and had a certificate, I would be stupid NOT to use it to get a reserved seat in a college or a job.
But what the law in turn does is, gets the open category people pissed off on the reserved category people – and many times people don’t spend a minute to realise that its not
the reserved category people which are to blame, its the damn, stupid pre historic laws.
And why aren’t they changed?
Because it is suicidal.
Governments go to power to actually stay in power for eternity.
Doing this will make sure, a large percentage of their votes get depleted.
The biggest, most stupidest things that I have seen on Earth – something which walks away with the top prize for the Most Stupidest, Idiotic thing ever – are religious riots.
Hehe …
It is like we all have a set of Pokemon cards, and we pull out swords and sticks and go at each other’s throats because the other guy said that my Pokemon’s powers were not good enough, or it was crappy.
Who cares?
I mean … most of the religious backgrounds are based on mythological – fairy tale stories.
These things never happened.
But amazingly enough, the people who invented them, must be geniuses because thousands of years down the line, they are still effective – people are still fighting over the same, stupid reasons from the time that they were invented.
Somehow, I don’t believe when people say that religion teaches you to live life in a nice way.
It does set down some guidelines on what you should do, but at the end of the day, isn’t it just common sense?
Does it have to be written somewhere that it is wrong to kill another guy, or steal from someone else?
If you are not from India, you will not believe that we actually have different laws for different religions…
Some laws go like “You are supposed to do this, this, this blah blah … unless you are a Muslim” or “You are not allowed to do this and this, unless you are a Hindu …”
How about inventing one which says “If you kill another person, you will actually go to jail. Unless of course, you are a Jain – in which case, you shall be given the President’s medal”
That’d be really cool 🙂
I studied in one of the best schools in Pune.
But, it was a convent school – Catholics being the minorities and so, had some reservations.
I mean, if you think about it, their primary aim is to encourage Christianity – it being run by the Jesuit society.
But then, that is not a valid enough reason to justify a boy with 60% getting into the institute just for being catholic over a non catholic boy getting 85%.
In the junior college, there were even reservation over vocational seats – the situation was that you could get a Computer Science seat only if you were catholic with a decently high percentage or a non catholic with an impossibly high percentage – above 90% which is only possible if you have just topped the boards exams, or are from one of them ICSE schools.
What this does again, is divide the students.
Imagine how pissed off a student would be who scored 89% and missed out a computer science seat just because another guy with 75% got it because of his religion.
In the hunt for an engineering college, I actually came across this college in Solapur, which had reservations for Jains.
I was like “Full on. For the first time, I can get a taste of reservation.”

So, me and my dad go on a one day picnic to Solapur to check out the college and apply for it.
However, to my bad luck, the college was not what I expected it to be (it sucked in my POV) – and I probably would have hung myself on my second day there.
So, we came back which brought an end to my “reservation” dreams.
Hehe … probably reason why I am so pissed off with this entire issue and am writing this.
But on a serious note, I just can’t imagine why normally sane and logical people write such atrocious laws.
I mean, it’s like a very bad director making a crappy movie and he knows it – because, he can actually see how it is coming out.
But instead of stopping it and improving it, he goes ahead and makes it anyways …
I mean, c’mon…. grow a brain!

A different beat …

Oral exams or vivas have always been a pain in the rear end …
And this time, all the timings been missed up …
We had one AI ( Artificial Intelligence ) Viva yesterday and have another one ( Computer Networks ) tomorrow … on a Sunday !
Apparently, all the external examiners that come to take orals for BE students are people with jobs – working in companies.
The AI orals, was basically not worth the 3 day effort of cramming the utterly useless Rich and Knigt book.
The people who wrote it should be tied to a pole and stoned ( or booked in this case ) with their own book.
And the people who recommend it to hapless students as ‘Good Reading Material’ should be tied next, and again stoned with the same book – twice over !
No matter how much I tried, could not get stuff into my head from that book.
It was a frikkin discussion, with 18th century english and language so complex, that would put Ayn Rand to shame.
Fed up, last day, picked up the AI local author textbook and went through it from page to page.
Yeah … the language was really sucky, and in the end, lots of stuff didnt make sense, but then the satisfaction of having read an entire book is nice 🙂
Gives you that placebo effect.
Anyways, the external examiner ( bless his heart ) was one of the chillest dudes I have come across sitting on the other side of the table, and everything went off perfectly, awesomely well …
I had friends gushing “He’s so cool ya …” all over the place 🙂
Now, tomorrow, on a Sunday, have to haul my ass all the way to college for the Computer Networks Orals, which many people are predicting will be doomsday for most of us.
Again, some person from the ‘Industry’ is going to pay us a visit and probably, take our case.
Make sure his wasted Sunday holiday is well spent … eheheh 🙂
In contrast to that very crappy Rich and Knight book, we have an excellently written network book by Tanenbaum.
Now, this fellow can write … and very well at that.
The book is peppered with all these interesting anecdotes and examples, which make all the boring stuff network stuff – more interesting …
But lifes not fair, and we dont have much time.
So, even though I’d have loved reading the entire book – no time.
So, have to sit with the text book on one hand, and make sure to read ONLY the boring part.
Sooo … anyways, me sitting here blogging with less than 18 hours to go for doomsday, I have kinda given up …
Watch this space for more news from the grave 🙂