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Notes from an Indian Diwali …

It’s 12:20 AM and people are still out having a gala time bursting fire crackers – even though the guidelines set by the commissioner of police said it should be done by 10 PM max.
But what can you do? We’re a democracy right?
In India, I have learnt this the hard way – you just need sometimes to let go.
In a very funny sort of a way, you have to are forced to respect the collective decision of many people at your own expense even though each individual in the collective is being a selfish idiot!
Speaking about diwali, a couple of interesting incidents took place in the days leading upto the festival.
The first incident has to do with our dead telephone and the line repairman.
Mysteriously, about a couple of days from diwali, our main land-line phone went dead. I raised a complaint on Saturday but we were all pretty sure that nothing would get done until the long diwali weekend (stretching upto Thursday) was over.
Imagine my dad’s surprise when the phone magically rang on Sunday morning and the person at the other end of the line was the repair man asking whether the phone was working now. (Apparently there was a fault with the underground wiring … apparently)
My dad was so elated and surprised at the same time, that he profusely thanked the repair man for fixing the phone a day before diwali – and that too on a Sunday! He even wished him a happy diwali.
Imagine our surprise, when the repair guy says “Thank you for your wishes. I’ll come to the premises myself and meet you in person!”
Come he did, in a good 10 minutes.
And when he left, he had downed a good glass of soft drink, some exquisite sweets and pocketed an easy Rs. 51/- (diwali bakshish)
You give your little finger and pull out your entire arm 🙂
The other incident however was to do with our maid.
All through the diwali cleaning – which lasts a good week, my mom asked our regular maid to help out with some of the nitty gritties. Now, all maids in Pune (and I’m pretty sure in India too), look forward to demand an extra bonus during diwali.
My mom promised the maid a whole month’s pay for the bonus – provided she helped her with the extra cleaning of the place.
So today, on diwali, when my mom finally gave the maid her one month’s pay and two boxes of diwali sweets (which she had specially gotten packed and gift wrapped for her) our maid instead of graciously accepting it and thanking her, turns around and asks my mom “Where is my sari?”
My mom was completely taken aback and couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
Definitely dented her trust in the human kind a bit I’m sure.
Ofcourse she didn’t get her sari. There was no talk about a sari. An extra month’s pay itself was a substantial amount. Another case of giving someone your little finger and they trying to pull your entire arm out.
But what can you do? C’est la vie!
I read that in Japan, it is impolite to leave a tip. They believe a person gets paid for doing his / her job to the best of their abilities. Expecting money for doing a better job (that they do right now) is just insulting.
Sigh …

Uploaded some photographs …

I dunno why I did this, but I went to Flickr today and uploaded some of the interesting snaps that I have clicked so far in my life …

Check them out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saurabhj/

Comments are available, so please do go ahead and comment.

A couple of ones that I really love are:









Larger sized images are at flickr.

I have tonnes more left to upload – will do as soon as I can extract some time for myself …

[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 81.]

Just a small heads up …

Yes. I am still alive and kicking.
This post comes almost a month after my last one – and though I have been pretty lazy in not blogging as much as I would like to, I will still go ahead and blame the weather …
Somehow, even though the colder months bring with them the promise of sitting by a nice fire in the garden, curling up on the couch under a blanket with a nice book – and many such activities that one can indulge in when the weather is so cold generally, the winters have always brought a lot of stress and difficult decisions to make for me …
One way or the other, I manage to get myself into these really cascading depressing situations which takes the bright and warm (nowadays exceedingly hot) summers to get out off …
In the meantime, I have read this book – Freakonomics – which I will recommend.
Even if you don’t agree with many of the controversial topics of debate that the authors have chosen (I somehow agreed to 99% of them), you will find yourself looking at things from a more economist’s point of view once you have gone through all the pages.
The other very interesting book that I am going through right now is – Games People Play – a book which deals with transactional analysis and social psychology in general. Though it makes for a pretty interesting read, it does tend to get technical at places …

CampusCombine …

http://www.campuscombine.com

Hey!We (The ActiveCiti Team) just wanted to inform you about the new initiative we just started – CampusCombine.

How many times have you felt the need to know what was going on in other colleges – from which questions were asked by the external examiner during the viva to which companies are coming for campus placements to when that inter collegiate event is going to take place. How do you know if the college/stream you are entering is the right one for you?

How many times have you felt frustrated while completing an assignment which even the staff members had no idea about? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could ask people from other colleges for help – those who had completed the assignments you wanted…

How many times have you got stuck due to lack of ideas and guidance while working on a project and had no one to take help from or turn to…

Well, trying to provide a solution to all these problems and thousands more – which students face, we give you “CampusCombine”.

CampusCombine aims to bring students, ex-students, companies and interested mentors – all together on a common platform so that they can help each other out.

So, if you are a student and the next time you are wondering how a particular problem can be solved, or what questions were asked by the external examiner in other colleges, all you need to do is log on to CampusCombine for your particular city and get your doubts and queries cleared.

And if you are someone who has gone through the rigors of the Indian education system and wants to lend a helping hand to people still stuck there, you can log on to CampusCombine and help out the students and make their lives a little easier.

So, please head on to http://www.campuscombine.com and be a part of this revolution that we’re trying to start.

Aao banaye education behtar 🙂

– The ActiveCiti Team

PS: As we are very short on our advertising budget, please could you forward this email to all the people you know who you think could use this service?

Thanks 🙂

What you just read up there was the pitch to a new site that we started a day before called CampusCombine.

As this is a non profit venture, with no revenues whatsoever and no venture capitalists or angel investors backing us up, it gets kinda difficult to sometimes spread the word.

So we have to resort to emailing friends, asking them to forward the link and hoping that they will do. We had already done this for ActiveCiti – and the initial response was great – but once you run out of people to email, the number of people signing up everyday slowly dwindles down.

The important thing then, becomes to get as many people as you can email to actually join the site and hope that you did a good job with the site – so that people can refer people and so on …

The very difficult and thus quite interesting part of this job becomes to word the email.

You have to keep it somewhat short and get all your ideas in place – worded properly so that your readers can empathize with what you’re doing.

However, this time I think we’re working with a more serious problem than we were with ActiveCiti – coz the response has been fairly decent.

Not to mention these are very early days and the student population of Pune is monstrous.

So only time will tell … 🙂

Comments …

I am very fortunate to have a very good set of readers who contribute a lot to my blogs by way of comments and discussions … so much so, that it ends up adding more value to the blog than the blog itself …
Of late, I have been receiving some really good comments which throw more light on the topic and just prove how you can never analyse a situation or a particular event from all angles and how it is so important to do so …
I have been so happily made to eat my own words on my blog by people who look at things from an entirely different (and better) point of view …
Thank you all so much for teaching me something new everytime …
As blogger lacks a feature by which a person cannot choose to receive an email indication after someone last left comments after his, and just because many people do not generally read the comments, I have decided to put down a list of my previous posts in which the comments have really added a lot of value to the blog.
Thank you once again …
The links are as follows (in reverse chronological order)

1. Indian Movies …
In which Rishi and Shantesh gave more dimension to my view of why Indian movies suck in some respect compared to Hollywood flicks.
2. Choice, the problem is choice …
In which Rishi and Ashwin point out that everything to do with choice is connected to your Karma in some way or the other (sorry, my knowledge about this is very poor) and then Id tops it off with one of his brilliant poems …
3. Being Prejudiced …
I feel, all the comments added a lot of value to this post – and especially the brilliant one by eshuneutics which hit the nail, right on the head …
4. Remember Remember …
This post had some really nice comments from Rishi, Id and Yuvi with totally different points of view …

This may have sounded somewhat like a “Comments” Oscar award, but it really isn’t.
I guess what I am trying to say here is – that its always good to know someone else’s point of view (We all have only 1 brain .. right?)
And reading a comment always feels nice, you know that people are reading the stuff that you are writing and always encouranges you to write more …
Not to mention the richness it adds to a particular post.
So, if you do have anything to say on anything written here, please feel free to do so …
A small investment of time ends up serving a lot of purposes …
As a matter of fact, lot of people’s blog that I check out often, have been the result of comment following …
So more the reason … eheheh 😉

Stop, start, restart …

I don’t know why … but I just tend to stop doing things for no reason at all – take blogging for example.
I won’t give reasons that I am too busy working nowadays and stuff … because, I can, if I want, take some time out for blogging everyday …
But then, every now and then, I just tend to stop it – and it takes a great deal of effort to start back – but once it has started, I am sure it will go the distance…
This did not really prompt me to write the blog, but its worth talking about anyways.
The story is about a little 6 year old boy who fell into a very narrow well type structure and was stuck there for more than 50 hours before the rescue team managed to dig a tunnel from a parallel larger well and rescue him …
The child was going to be saved eventually and would be unharmed – everybody knew that, but what was really sickening was how the media made such a fuss about it with all the sensationalising, that it was worse than the hundreds of soaps doing the rounds on air these days.
A couple of news channels, showed nothing else but 11 hours of continuous footage of the scene while the army was trying to rescue the child.
The child was ofcourse rescued eventually and as I had predicted, got quite some amount in cash … and I do believe, will get all his education and stuff sponsored eventually.
Then there was the other thing recently about the Govt. banning quite a few blog sites in the wake of the Mumbai terror blasts.
They originally wanted about 17 sites to be blocked, but as the technology to do this does not exist, the ISPs ended up blocking the entire domain and so, all the blogger sites … this one included.
Apparently a couple of blogs were being used by SIMI activists to plan other attacks.
In my opinion, all this mess happens due to pure idiots existing in the Govt Technology dept who would not know the difference between an operating system and a web browser.
On the plus side, it turned out to be great business for proxy sites (esp. kproxy) and a lot of people ended up learning inadvertently, about proxies and how blocking of sites is just not possible in most of the cases …
So much for sheer stupidness and tonnes of revenue loss …
Anywho, this was just a wake up post for me … nothing to really muse about in that sense …
But now that I am up and atom, should have better things to muse about soon … 🙂

Finally done and over with …

Today probably marked a pretty important day for me – college is finally done and over with !
I know this has been said before, but we had our project demonstration today, and so (considering I clear all my papers), I should not have any official reason for going back to college ever (except for collecting my marksheet)
Anyways, even though all these past four years have had many pleasant memorable experiences, I would be leaving with sort of a bad taste …
The only requirement for our project demonstration that we had off the college was access to a decent internet connection – we were carrying our own notebook (mainly because the college computers would not be able to support our development environment :p)
Anyways, our project guide from college called us personally a day before and informed us that the college was having some trouble with their internet lines and asked us if we could make some arrangements ourselves.
We ended up carrying a CDMA Wireless phone which gives dial-up speeds internet connectivity. It did get our job done, but was painfully slow and frustruating !
Anyways, on reaching college, we realised that the internet connection had been down from a couple of days and no one had many arrangements to fix it – or even call the customer care support for that matter, even though many teams needed an active connection to demonstrate their projects.
Moreover, all the computers were infected with worms and viruses which caused unexpected behaviour on the systems – adding to our misery.
The final ‘real’ downer – was that the examiner who came to check out our project was very, very unqualified to do so …
I’d go as far as to say that he was a complete idiot and had no idea at all about software development.
The college is not to be blamed for it – because the University sends these people – but c’mon, there has to be atleast some level of competence!
The guy who came to us, asked us questions like:
– What are the number of classes have you used in your project?
– How many tables are there in your database?
– How many pages does your site have?
It was very apparent that the guy knew nothing at all within the first five minutes, and to save his blushes, he had to ask us questions – many of which could clearly be termed as ‘stupid beyond belief’.
The demonstration did go past 60 minutes and he kept interupting us with his moronic questions throughout – half of which we had to strain to make sense off in the context of our demonstration!
It actually hurts when people spend months in completing a project – with the time, money and energy spent – and the person who is supposed to assess the project turns out to be a complete moronic idiot and does not even make an effort to understand what you have done.
With everything said and done, my other project partners feel that we did the best we could with this sort of a guy and we should be happy that its gone well.
I guess so … but the Pune University really needs a wake up call !!!

Out for a while …

Should have put this up sometime ago …
Exams going on till the 9th and as such, have substantially reduced the time that I generally spend on the PC – so there wont be to blog for a while till the exams have passed …

ActiveCiti goes LIVE

This post is coming after a fairly long time – and for good reason too…

The last week was pretty hectic – I was very busy studying for my exams and more busy in trying to get our Final Year Engineering Project done and released.

Well, I am happy to inform you that we went live today at 5:30 pm (thats when our faulty registration page got fixed) :p

Presenting … ActiveCiti

(clap clap clap clap … )



Unlike so many other Final Year projects that we had seen – which mostly are very, very niche and no one ever seems to use them, we decided to go and do a complete product from scratch – however insignificant it might be, or no matter how many people use it.

We wanted to go through the entire site of developing a product …

So we wrote our own spec document, did our own database designs, did all our own interface designs, chalked out flow diagrams and made our own mistakes (which are quite a lot actually)

And to tell you frankly – the feeling is brilliantly awesome.

At the other end of the road, seeing the number of registered users increase by the hour is damn awesome 🙂

As of writing this – 7 hours into launch, we now have 50 registered users.

I know that this will now decline exponentially, but we hope that we make 100 atleast.

Something about the project

The entire project is a web application which makes planning a piece of cake.

It removes all the hassles of calling so many people back and forth while planning anything – a movie, a trip or even just planning to hang out at a local coffee place.

Though the content on the site is Pune Centric – that should not be a drawback and everybody anywhere should be able to use it – as we let users customize and add to the already existing content.

The entire application is done up in ASP.Net 2.0 with SQL Server 2000 as the backend database.

It took us about 4 months to get this done – working part time, managing college and stuff.

But it feels awesome now …

We did have some anxious – adrenalilne pumping moments when 2 hours into the launch (we actually did it at 3 pm) we found out that the register page was not working.

Then later quite a few pages started acting up and were not working as expected … but we managed to fix them and as of now everything seems to be chugging along nicely (touchwood)

We still have some way to go before this is finalised and polished.

Have got tonnes of feedback and our list of todo’s has already gotten filled.

Anyways, please do visit the site and register there.

The address is : http://www.activeciti.com

Any feedback would be deeply appreciated and you can drop it off at : http://www.activeciti.com/contact.aspx

Yay ! ActiveCiti is LIVE 🙂

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 …