I have almost reached the age now where doing the ‘smell test’ to see if a t-shirt is still wearable is frowned upon. If I wear a t-shirt, it should be fresh out of the cupboard and neatly pressed. Which is what happens most days.
Last night saw quite a big storm hit Chennai in only the second bit of rain we’ve had this year (jealous much, England?). The thunder isn’t like the wussy stuff you get in England which rumbles around like an old man, it’s the make you cover your ears and hide under the duvet thunder. Lightning does the very best job it can to rip the sky apart from the seams, probably doing to particles what it took humans $10bn and a Large Hadron Collider to do.
So around 5am this morning, my room started lighting up like an action sequence in a Spielberg sci fi movie and the thunder virtually knocked me out of bed. “3-2-1″ I said to myself and right on cue and almighty explosion (probably from the same action sequence) signaled that the transformer outside my apartment had blown up and my a/c promptly died. It’s raining, what do I need the a/c for, you might ask. Well, this is the tropics, it’s still 30°C outside and the rain just means the humidity is pushed up to 99%. Uncomfortable? You betcha.
Even by the morning, the power wasn’t back on which not only meant a cold shower (mmm, invigorating), but a return to days of yore by doing the ‘smell test’ to see if a crumpled up t-shirt was still wearable since I couldn’t iron anything. Colleagues are keeping their distance from me this morning, I can’t think why?
A pic from outside Taramani Station this morning after the storm hit last night
It is written in the ancient codes of FORTRAN that the geeks will inherit the earth, and now it seems we’ll also get all the pretty ladies too. According to a fellow geek, we make the perfect partner for the opposite sex. He goes on to say that we cherish loyalty, stability and once you’ve made it plainly obvious that there is an upcoming birthday/anniversary (and by obvious we mean emailing us the date and occasion two weeks in advance – seriously, that’s all we ask) we’ll draw upon super human Googling powers, gather data and create complex spreadsheets with advanced filters just to find that perfect gift. Disagreements and arguments will be few and far between too, because anything can be quickly solved by searching the Internet, and since we all have smartphones we can nullify disputes before they blow out of proportion. We can also do spontaneity, when given reasonable enough time to plan in advance.
Geek Love: 10 Reasons to Date a Geekhttp://thenextweb.com/shareables/2012/03/04/geek-love-10-reasons-to-date-a-geek/Loyalty runs in our veins. If a geek can be so loyal to their favourite gadget manufacturer, operating system, TV show, movies, fantasy heroes and so on, imagine what happens…
Alcohol is quite a contentious issue in India for a number of social, political and religious reasons. Some states go as far as outright banning it, others, like Goa, take a more laid back approach. Both policies bring their own set of problems. Mumbai has taken the decision to force anyone who wants to go to a bar to get a permit from the police which has to be shown each time you buy a drink.
Chennai, a deeply conservative city, has had a love-hate relationship with the stuff. Successive governments first restrict the licensing laws to much fanfare before quietly relaxing them later on.
Today, after firstly restricting the sale of alcohol in the state, the ruling party allowed the licensing hours to be extended to 12 midnight for some places and completely relaxed to 24 hours for 5 star hotels in the city, giving customers to opportunity to get a drink any time they feel like it.
Now, I’m not sure whether to feel a great sense of pride or rapidly go and check myself in to the nearest Alcoholics Anonymous group because this afternoon I get phone calls from two different hotels inviting me to come and enjoy extended drinking hours at their respective bars!
Every morning I have to take the train to south Chennai. The Mass Rapid Transit System, or MRTS as it’s known, is a marvel in concrete. Soviet Russia style concrete monolithic stations are dotted every few KM and are so brutal in design, it would make Joseph Stalin himself give a nod of approval. Rather surprisingly, it’s also a triumph of punctuality and reliabilty too, something Network Rail would do well to study. Trains that actually run on time? How can it be?! The MRTS gets a lot of flack from the media and the local population but actually I think it’s pretty bloody fantastic for what it is.
Since the elevated track runs along about 4 stories high, the plan was to use the first level of the stations as a car park for commuters and the 2nd and 3rd level as huge shopping malls, like the big stations of London. That was the plan. 10 years later and many of the stations still resemble building sites with scaffolding and construction detritus littered around the platforms. Where the thriving shops were supposed to be are instead cavernous halls, serving as shelter to dogs, goats and the occasional cow, the odd homeless person and not to mention a place for hapless souls to drink away their troubles in the cold darkness.
This photo shows the station where I catch my train. If you turn up before 8:30am then the platform is virtually empty like it is here and the journey is relatively pleasant. After 8:30am is when Chennai goes to work and 6m people mobilize at once…the journey is then pretty far from pleasant!
In my apartment we have a cat. King of the Golden Nuggets is his name. A fearless predator, an alert hunter, a father to half the local feline population, stalking through the night for his next victim, he answers to no man…unless of course you have some delicious curd to give him. The relationship between the apartment dwellers and Golden Nuggets is thus: you feed him whenever he’s hungry and in return he’ll guard the steps of the apartment against any trespassers and ne’er-do-wells*.
* Provided the trespassers scurry on four legs, go squeak and come at a convenient time when he’s not sleeping.
Makes for depressing, unhappy reading. But smile: We’re all doomed in the end.
A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the M25.
Nothing was moving.
Suddenly, a man knocks on the window.
The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”
“Terrorists have kidnapped all of our MP’s during a sitting of parliament and they’re demanding a £100 million ransom otherwise they are going to douse them all in petrol and set them on fire. We are going from car to car urgently collecting donations.”
“How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks.
The man scratches his chin in quick contemplation and replies, “Roughly a gallon.”
When it comes to interviewing for jobs in India you never really know what you’re going to get (which is probably the same the world over but I’ve never interviewed anyone in England so am in no position to say!). Often candidates haven’t been taught how to handle an interview, say the wrong thing, don’t say enough, say too much, don’t let the interviewer speak, cut the interviewer off in the middle of a question or worse they have read a “how to ace your interview” guide on ehow.com and come up with answers like “my biggest weakness is that I’m a workaholic.”
My company is currently doing interview rounds as we look to expand our team and as usual the process has thrown up a number of anecdotes. My favourite one so far went like this…
A young man enters the office. He’s from a small village in rural Tamil Nadu and visibly apprehensive, nervous and uncomfortable in the surroundings. His answers are short and he’s got no conviction in what he says. Determined to bring the young man out of his shell the interviewer tries a number of light conversation topics like films, food and family until she hits on one topic where his face lights up light a 1000 watt bulb. “actually it’s my life’s dream to be an MP for my village” he tells her, then continuing, “I will bring development and jobs, make electricity come and make sure everyone has healthcare. Then I will campaign for Tamil rights in Sri Lanka and bring the Sri Lankan government to justice.”
Suitably impressed with the eloquence and passion with which the young man has described his ambitions the interviewer asks him how he plans to get elected. The young man brushed the question aside and said “I will join whichever party gives me the most money then I will pay everyone in my village to vote for me.”
And that is south Indian politics
I was sitting in a bar in Delhi the other day where they brew their own German style beer on the premises and after 4 years of Kingfisher it’s like liquid gold in a bottle. The beer wasn’t the only thing unique about this bar though because I noticed one of the waiters carrying this boot of beer to one of the tables. I couldn’t let it go by without taking a quick snap of it – it’s not something you see each day!
Indigo is a budget airline that operates in India in much the same vein as EasyJet or BMIBaby. The budget airline sector in India is pretty crowded and with rising fuel costs forcing up the prices getting customers is harder than ever. Indigo have a unique style that permeates every part of their business, it’s the little things that separate them from all the other carriers. On the flight just before we landed the hostess requested everyone to turn off electronic devices, but part of the speech also included a note about making sure you save your work before you shut down your laptop. Very small, but it sticks in your mind. Airplane food also gets a tough time from many frequent travellers but Indigo has made a big effort to bring something unique to the food as well. The picture below is the box the sandwich comes in. It’s in the style of a matchbox because the sandwich contains a lot of chilly. Simple, smart and stands out enough for someone like me to mention it on my blog. A great marketing effort by Indigo!