Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Caution: Chicken crossing

I'd broken a plastic comb this morning,
Followed by a plastic jar of glue;
Thank heavens her heart wasn’t made of plastic,
Or I'd have ended up breaking that too...
(A song not written by the Beatles)

Swaminathan, the village idiot of a remote village in South India caused quite a furore in the philosophical world yesterday when he claimed that he had solved the question that had puzzled philosophers, theologists, theosonists, arsonists(??) and Marxists for several centuries (and in that order). The question in question here is the famed "Why did the chicken cross the road?" or "Kukkutaha maargam tarati kim?" as was known to ancient Indian philosophers.

To the uninitiated, let me begin with the historic importance of this famous question. Any philosopher worth his salt will agree that this question is to philosophy what Einstein's Theory of Relativity is to Physics. The exact origin of this question is still in dispute amongst the historians. Some experts say that this happened during the late Selandian era when the chickens evolved enough to distinguish between the road and the pavement, and the Darwinian force called the "survival instinct", made it cross the road to the other side, where it perceived an abundance of bird seed. However this group of experts is small indeed, for there are several other groups who have put forth arguments that have cast some aspersions on the validity of this theory. Rival groups have long argued that there were no chickens in the late Selandian era and the rest of the theory is hogwash. However a recently unearthed signboard of KFC has been found to be of the late Selandian era (in fact in the last 3 years of that era - carbon dating has accurately established) and this seems to lend a little credibility to the former group (Let's call them Selandian experts) Another group of radicals however argue that there may have been chickens, but certainly no roads in that particular era. Selandian experts have dismissed this saying that the KFC signboard was that of a KFC “Drive in”, and “Drive in” must imply the existence of roads. QED..

The opponents look silenced for now, but there is a general air of calm before the storm, and rumours have it that these opponents have an ace up their sleeve that will demolish the Selandian experts once and for all (All this became "like lighting divine fire underwater" or "neeralli madida homa" as Swaminathan, effectively put an end to this topic yesterday. More on this later..)

The origins of this question is not the only thing disputed with regard to the question. As one can see here, there are arguments that chicken did not have the rationality that road was indeed a road. For that matter, it wouldn't discomfort the road-crossing-chicken the slightest bit, if one called road a toad. This seems to suggest that the chicken was well versed in the Shakespearean philosophy of "What's in a name?" which suggest the it was indeed a rational thinker (assuming that anyone who reads Shakespeare is a rational being) Thus a mere suggestion that the chicken is not a rational being leads to 'it' being proved to be a rational being! However such suggestions not withstanding, the author of the above essay has brilliantly dismissed the idea that the "question of chicken crossing the road is meaningless and invalid".Thus there is no need for the rationality or intentionality on the poor chickens part here. It has also been bought to light in the recent LHC experiment that this question is indeed a valid one. Scientists recently claimed that the same force that causes a bunch of scientists to study atoms by colliding them against each other and breaking them apart is responsible for such actions of the chicken. Philosophers smirked at this news, saying this is what they had claimed all along. They even named that unknown force as "Curiosity"

It is to be noted here that this mysterious force has long been associated with felines. This same force has caused several members of the feline fraternity to pay dearly with their lives. This discovery of "curiosity" as the force behind the chicken-road-crossing, some philosophers go on to claim, has heightened the importance of the great question. They say that since there has been no historical evidence of any chicken having to pay with its life, even under the effect of this force, chickens are allegedly immune to the force of curiosity. Their claim is that solving this question will make even humans immune to the curiosity force, thereby prolonging their lives.

In related news, Chicken rights activists recently held protest near the author’s office stating that it was dangerous for the chickens to cross the Indian roads. They wanted the traffic police to help any chicken crossing the road. Later they distributed pamphlets, which enumerated the safety precautions that chickens had to follow while crossing roads. Unfortunately the 30 chickens who were bribed into attending this protest were nowhere to be seen after about 30 minutes after the start of the protest..

Coming back to how this question came to be solved, let us first see the previous solutions. Over the years there have been several attempts to solve this conundrum. However none of them seem to have satisfactorily answered the question. Given below are some of the more important theories:
  • "To get to the other side" (A very popular and old solution) Reason of dismissal: But why? Answered again by: "Perhaps there was grain on the other side" Reason of dismissal: "Perhaps... Indeed *smirk*"
  • "The chicken discovered that the side of the road on which it was standing on had a KFC outlet" Reason for dismissal - Chickens cannot distinguish between KFC and "McShmucks Home for homeless chicken"
  • "The sidewalk on which chicken stood was dug up to lay the Optic fiber cables. It had no space to stand, hence it crossed" (A popular Indian theory by the second-cousin forty-seven-times removed of the Nobel prize winning Chandrasekhar) Reason for dismissal - When there is a dispute over the existence of the road itself, there can be no question of admitting the existence of optic fiber (Indians have protested that it was racism that caused the dismissal of this theory)
Thus for years there were not satisfactory explanations for this philosophical question. That is until yesterday. And then,

World sat stunned in silence as Swaminathan announced: "The chicken never did cross the road... Road just happened to move under chickens feet (a la Relativity)"

Thus it came to be that a philosophical question that was compared in likeness to Relativity came to be solved by the same. Nobel committee has decided to open a new category in philosophy this year. And guess who the prize goes to?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yet another weekend post

Bored sitting at home, I decided to go shopping for books. Landed at Blossoms after a little walk.

So here I am, looking for some books that would help me pass some time this weekend (and many more weekends to come) All of a sudden I bump into a lady, of a different country (more commonly known as a foreigner - or the one who foreigns)

"Excuse me", says she, "You work?"

Eh? Now what's this? Why is a person who is revered in our country (as in Athiti Devo Bhava et al) concerned with my employment? What would be the consequences say, if I am to reply truthfully, or should I rather escape with a lie? I had been caught unawares by this question several times until today (all the while this coming from fellow Indians - those who tried to heap upon me some sort of great pyramid scheme - that would help me earn more money than my current job) And now, this ? (Et, tu ?)

I made a gesture that indicated neither this nor that ie a shrug and tilt of head from side to side, in a careful hybrid of a yes and a no and tried to get away. Not really xenophobic, but some stranger asking about your employment usually gives one cold creeps.

Slowly backing to escape this strange predicament, I knocked over a small pile of books. Drat.. I started rearranging them, helped by the lady. Whilst reconstructing the pile of books, she spoke again smiling a little "Where can I find Vikram Seth's Suitable Boy", she said before I could disappear around the corner. I replied this time with words, that I had no idea. "Oh so I'm supposed to find it on my own?", she said a little more serious this time..

Somewhere in that dingy, cobwebbed, dilapidated old structure some people call my mind, a tube light flickered to life. "You work?" meant "You work here?" (or perhaps I had lost the last word of that sentence) "Oh", I managed to grin sheepishly, "I'm sorry, I don't work here"

"Oh!"

Ten minutes later I left the store with my purchases, really wondering if I looked like a bookstore assistant.

(PS: Hope the lady found her "Suitable Boy")

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Passing on the baton

Seen today:
A burkha clad woman, wordlessly handing over her daily bus pass to another burkha clad woman as soon as she got off the bus.

Million dollar question:
Would she have done the same for anyone else?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

How the Grinch Stole Diwali

Even as a kid, he hated crackers. Apparently his dad couldn't fathom the idea that any kid could hate crackers. All of the boy's pleas disguised as, "Let's buy less crackers this year" or the classic "Let's do something else other than crackers" were dismissed with a shrug, and then, "That's alright, we'll get them from Hosur this time. Pretty cheap they've got over there"
Blast!! (pun intended) He thought. Another nightmarish Diwali :(

I mean, it's not like he hated the explosive variety. He hated even the sparklers. Suresh Heblikar would have been proud of him if not for the fact that he could do nothing to prevent his share of contribution to global warming. And thus he spent a few Diwalis that way...

Finally on one Christmas eve ,he found a solution to this problem. Watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!", he was thrilled with the idea of a creature of this sort(who could steal holidays, not trinkets, but holidays ladies and gentlemen!!) who would come to his rescue and steal Diwali. But how was he, a mere boy, supposed to contact him? Grinch was spotted in Whoville once in a while, but where did he reside for most of his time? Heck, even if he'd write a letter addressed to "Mr.Grinch, Whoville" would it reach him? (If "Dear Santa, North Pole" can reach the jolly old guy, why not our friend here?) He decided he wouldn't allow such petty obstacles prevent him from executing his plans. So be it...

So he went and contacted the television channel who aired the show, asking them the contact address of a certain, Mr.Grinch. The guy who answered the call was pretty revulsed to be asked such information. Our hero made up a story that he was the reporter of a leading bi-weekly that caters to large group of business entrepreneurs and how with the stock market booming, they would love to know more about the creature, who in course of time would become a brand ambassador of major products world wide (I know this doesn't make sense, but that was the height of his desperation to rid Diwali) "Just think, a lot of kids would buy everything that some green creature endorsed. Why man, Grinch is the next "in" thing. You wouldn't understand all this. So why don't you.."
...
...
...
Dial tone. Drat. The channel guy had seen through our hero's cover..

It was time to take the risk and write a letter to the green guy. I have reproduced below the contents of that letter, to the best of my memory (as the hero of this story recounted to me one day):

Mr Grinch Sir,

 I'm a big fan of yours :) I'm not sure whether this will reach you or not, but I am writing this with utmost desperation. So I request you to please listen to what I have to say.

Your attempts over the years to steal Christmas, I must say have been very fascinating. I'm sure Christmas is really big in your part of the world. But you see, to cater to a wide range of people, you must reinvent yourself (Don't take this wrong, sir, I respect you a lot) I have a proposal for you.

This year why don't you come down to India, during the month of October, and we could have great fun stealing a festival called Diwali, that's celebrated here. I'm pretty sure this will be very much to your liking. We will have lots of crackers and fireworks to steal, and we'll destroy them all. Please let me know if you need any further assistance in reaching here, assuming that you agree to my proposal (I'm hopeful you will)   
 Warm Regards,
 (our hero's sign)

 
He addressed this letter to "Mr Grinch, Whoville" and hoped to see a reply in positive soon. Days turned into months as he waited for the reply. He hoped against hope that Grinch still resided in Whoville, and had not moved out elsewhere. That'd be bad for him...

5 months later,on a sunny afternoon, when he had almost given up hope, he got a surprise! A letter lay on his desk. It was open. Had his father seen the contents ? He hoped not. Hands shaking he took the letter and stared at the reply:

Stupid boy,
                    Buzz off... I'm retired now. Besides, I'll have nothing to do with a festival celebrated to commemorate the slaying of monsters and demons (Like I was in the past)

 (PS: Festivals are not always what they seem. Just as Christmas is not about presents, I'm sure Diwali is not all about crackers)

sd,
Grinch

He looked up to see his father standing in the doorway. He came to the boy and hugged him.
"Son, I've realised that Diwali is really not about crackers. You are right, we'll not have any crackers this year. But would you agree that we decorate our abode with diyas, lamps and lights this year? I mean this is a festival of lights and we should pledge to drive away darkness from our home as well as our minds. What say?"

The boy was moved to tears. Needless to say he agreed.

- The End -

[ Here's wishing you all a Happy Diwali. Before you light that cracker think about what Grinch had to say. I'm sure you'll agree too :) ]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Daal mein kuch kaala hain

I will NOT blog about Obama getting Nobel. This statement should in itself should make things clear about my view on the subject. Besides, there are worthier things to blog about.

For instance, take grocery shopping. It is simple right?

Breaking it into simple steps, firstly you have to locate your friendly neighbourhood grocer, enter the threshold of his humble store, ignore the overwhelming urge to buy some chocolates - located strategically at the entrance (this urge basically stems from all those years of being denied those goodies inspite of your best pestering - well, I never pestered my parents, ask them if you want - but I still have the urge to grab chocolates), find precisely the item(s) you want to acquire, proceed to the storekeeper, where depending on the time of the day, season and a lot of other factors, you may have to wait in a queue (but perhaps not), get the items billed (those you do not intend to shoplift of course), pay with cash/card or any other means of monetary transaction (barter included) that is valid in your part of the world, and proceed outwards, homebound seemingly delighted with your accomplishment.

Well I got this mission briefing from my mother, to procure precisely one kilogram of culinary ingredient they call Tur Dal, also recently in news for being very pricey .Entering the store, I proceeded directly to the location my brain indicated through various visual and olfactory cues that the assortment of pulses lay. Having previously being briefed on the exact technical specifications of the above mentioned item (yellow coloured, round, a little flat), I selected the first packaged 1 kilogram block that fit that description, paid for the item and returned home, pleased with my successful transaction.

My mother had one look at the package and asked how much I paid for it. I declared that it was 32 rupees. "Hmmm.. only 32 rupees for a k.g of tur dal", remarked my mother "Nice deal" Uh oh!! That was when I felt that something was amiss. Or "Daal mein kuch kaala hain", so to speak. I remembered reading about the prices of tur dal sky-rocketting so this could in no way be tur dal, unless whatever I read about was a bad media joke.

"Why didn't you ask for tur dal at the store?" Would perhaps be your first question, right? Well the answer is: Nay, any self-respecting male will not ask for directions even when lost - and I extend my self respect to such levels as not asking for the store-assistant's assistance in locating items (If you are a male, you'll understand this, else don't bother)

I returned to the store again, returned the item that mimicked tur dal(it was 'avare' something - I'm told), back to the place where the other pulses of its kind lay and I find that miracle-of-miracles, Holy Father in heaven and all that, the items are actually labeled by their proper nomenclatures!! Below each item, on the rack was attached a handwritten label indicating it's name. Ah.. There's "tuvar dal" Hooray!!!!

That fuzzy feeling of blissful giddiness, caused by your success at locating a certain item without anyones help overcame me. I literally bounced across the store, landed in front of the puzzled looking storekeeper (Boy! Aren't some people just happy to purchase something as small as tur dal? Why then am I, the owner of the store, keeper of such exotic substances as tur dal, not happy to be doing what I am doing - his look seemed to say) It cost 90 rupees (actually I parted with only 58 bucks - as I had done a substantial share of parting with money during my first transaction) I returned home, handed the packet to my mother, who was satisfied with the quality and contents of it.

I walked away with my head held high. The Indian national anthem played in my ears.
Mission accomplished.. Bravo Alpha-One, the country is proud of you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Crash Chrome - a new way

Search Google for "crash Chrome". Everything that's listed there looks fixed with the latest update (3.0.195.25)

Well, it's noon. I'm at my office with my workstation doing strenuous amounts of work. Chrome has about 15 tabs open. And I find a new way to crash it. Couldn't find it on the net yet, so I'm duty bound to post it, sorry Google :(

Here's how you can repeat it too:

Open a web page in chrome and open History. This will be opened in a new tab.
Pick a day on which you have visited large number of pages. Click "Delete history for this day". Say OK at the popup and immediately close the History tab..

Kaboom kapow!!!


(enlarged below)



Thats right. Yeah go on, give it a try..

EDIT: This seems to be a one off incidence. Me and Chrome having a bad day. It never misbehaved with me in this fashion ever again..

C.Ds of a different kind

Looking out of the window you make a casual remark- "It's going to rain heavily today evening" Chances are 2 times out of 10 someone who hears this replies "Oh no it will not", with such a tone that almost implies that it was originally your idea that it rain heavily. And that by disagreeing, they will prevent your supreme show of superhuman powers of nature control by their sheer will power. They are the "Chronic Disagreers".. The strange sub-species of homo sapiens, whose only purpose of existence is to disagree. I shall refer to them as c.d henceforth. You will have greater pleasure reading this if you substitute c.d for something else throughout (Yeah.. the word that has "dress" in it)

My association with c.ds goes long back... My doctor disagreed with me when I attempted my first bawl just after birth. My teachers disagreed with me when I started attending school (Both very unnecessary I opine) And then few years ago I was discussing something with a friend, and well... We disagreed on a particular point. Very recently that same topic was repeated with the same friend (yeah.. I recycle conversations once in 2 years) We disagreed at the same point as earlier.. Funnily though, this time around I subscribed to the other guys views (remembering and repeating it to avoid a showdown) and he still disagreed!! I would have rationalised his behaviour perhaps, thinking that he has come around to my earlier view in the grand scheme of things we are all a part of, only if he hadn't exhibited the symptoms of being a c.d over all those years I've known him..

This illness perhaps stems from the innate need to be one up on the other person. Especially when you can have the thrill of disagreeing and being successful at that with a fellow of such great intellectual capabilities as myself. Really.. People cannot resist disagreeing with me. Case in point, I am not spared even by auto-drivers... A few weeks ago I happened to find myself on an auto (I found myself there as in - I have no recollection of how or where I hailed and occupied that 3 wheeled wagon) It was raining.. Or perhaps it had stopped raining. Doesn't matter for my narration, anyway, so feel free to assume either.

The auto passed/ ferried across a small pond (which I had never noticed all my life) at the base of the Richmond circle flyover. A few other vehicles struggled to get past that pond (my own vehicle had comedown with flu at the sight of an even smaller water body previous day- which led my present situation). Auto driver seeing me looking at other poor vehicles with concern said,
"Nodi saar, bere autogella coil-ge neer seerkondre ashte. Naan coil-ge protection haaksiddini" (Or something similar - I don't exactly remember)

I said, "Hmm.. So nimdu LPG naa??", simply because I thought he wanted to converse a little with me.. Bad mistake. I saw a flash of evil c.d grin before he replied ,"Ayyo.. LPG-ge addakke sambhanda ne illa" (in the same tone Vishnuvardhan said "Nange ninge innumele yava sambhanda noo illa" in a senti-film) Strike one!!

A few minutes later he again started talking about how due to heavy rains, a branch of a tree almost fell on the head of someone he knew.. I though it was my duty to make appropriate sounds again. So I said that one has to be careful during such rains. Uh oh... Another grin (disguised as a wry smile - but I tell you, it was a grin) "En hushaaru saar.. Grahachaara nettig illandre husharaagidru en prayojana"

Strike two!!
He nonchalantly dismissed my mild suggestion that one should be especially carefully in such rains and just resign to our fate as decided by the nine planets..

Some miles later, he asked me the time. I said 8:30.. "Ayyo illa saar, adu 6:40!!!" Strike three and Out!!

Ok, I made the last one up. But twice bitten, third-time shy, I decided to have no more such conversations with this knowledgeable auto-driver.. Apparently he was satisfied with having the last say twice..

So what do you when a c.d marks you as a target? For one, you can try steering conversation towards a topic c.d is uncomfortable with.. Or if you are physically strong you can try to knock c.d out before he has the pleasure of disagreeing with you. If all fails, make a run for it! Get as far away as possible.. In the meanwhile I'll look around if some NGO offers a helpline to such hapless victims as myself. I need counseling, for the last attack has traumatised me pretty badly :(
Be careful, for they’re out to get you…

Sunday, October 4, 2009

This post has no purpose

This post is dedicated to nothing in general. You may have a strong reason to believe the Infinite monkey theorem by the time you are done reading this..

First some random facts:

  • You cannot pull the same leg twice.

  • Two zenzizenzizenzic is 256..

  • World's first commercial ad appeared on July 1st, 1941 at 10:10 p.m - by a watchmaking company Bulova (Does the time ring a bell??)

There, that was like getting phleghm out of your throat.. Now for more important random things:

  • I spent the better half of my weekend looking for Sid. I figured some frustrated mom had plastered "Wake up Sid" posters all over town, asking the "not-what-the-country-can-do-for-you-but-what-you-can-do-for-your-country" countrymen, to wake up her son. Three frustrated souls named Siddharth, Siddhu and Sidhdharth (mind the double dh) are looking for me all over town, for jeopardizing their evil plans to slumber till lunch hour.. They however do not know where I reside.. Thank God for small mercies..

  • "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is an awfully depressing movie. And yes I'm one of those who judge people by the way they read this title out loud (Are you a ka-kk-oo, ku-kk-oo or a ku-ku person ?) 5 Oscars and being called one of the greatest American movies ever made does not endear the movie to me..

  • As I have quoted elsewhere - Hrithik starrer Kites is not related to nor is a remake of the epic Kannada movie Gaalipata. Rakesh Roshan does not copy. He is only inspired by Hollywood movies (Right, wiseguy, I'm being sarcastic here...)

  • 24 years to this day, Richard Stallman started the Free Software Foundation. May the code be with you. (Yes this is related to movies too.. How? That is left for the intelligent reader to find out)

So you figured out I had yet another boring weekend. Few more hours left, lemme see if it can spice it up a notch. I'll round this post with something I heard the other day - very inspiring - see if you can get the serious side of it:

My drim is old piss