Thursday, July 31, 2008

Surprise!!!!!! - Based on a true story

My best efforts in trying not to notice the birthday party that my flat mates were planning for me, which was pretty hard to ignore considering that we stay together, must have somehow created a chemical disturbance in my brain that it developed a shield around my "common" sense and made me ignore all the obvious signs that X had left about the secret surprise for the evening. So when we completed the dinner at Cafe Nirvana and were about to leave, to my surprise (real one), a chocolate ice-cream cake was brought to the table with a single candle lit on the center. As it reached the table, I was left dumb stuck with all questions on how, when and where they planned the surprise. The funny part was that I was with X the whole evening when X had bought the cake without my knowledge and the worst to hear was that the cake was bought with my own credit card as X lost the wallet. I never suspected a cake all the time. It was a complete opposite situation of what I had been talking about the whole day on how "lame" friends try to surprise you on your birthday. There I was sitting flabbergasted watching X who has been the victim of all tease and pranks in the recent days defeating me out by complete surprise. With X and Dr.P along with Deepak from the restaurant singing the birthday song, I made my secret wish and blew the candle for the second time celebrating the silver jubilee of my existence. Even though this year's birthday started and ended in the middle of offshore calls, there is no doubt it beat the previous one hands down. Let’s pray and hope it will be as interesting and eventful as the previous year.

Thanks for the surprise X and Dr.P. You made the day much happier and a memorable one.

Signs I ignored leading me to the path of "Dumb" and "Surprise!"

  1. I dropped X in the Wal-Mart to buy "2 apples" for dinner. I never suspected why apples were so important for the night when we were already on the way for a treat.
  2. X and Dr.P were murmuring secretly as we got out of the car in front of the restaurant.
  3. After being seated, X went back to the car to get the mobile and was reluctant when I offered my help in getting the mobile.
  4. Dr.P was talking about the previous experiences of the failed attempts in organizing a surprise party. (You succeeded at last Dr.P. Thanks)
  5. Never realized the reason why X took the highly -priced AE classic shirt which I like very much to recheck the rate with the assistant. It later came out to be my present.
  6. X was holding a camera the whole evening, but did not take any photo even while presenting the shirt.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Surprise!!!!!! - Ready, Camera, Action!

UPDATE: It turned out to be an Orange flavored cake with 12 birthday candles and a strange 'zero' shaped candle in the middle. Trust me. I tried to act surprised to my best. But most of the drama was avoided thanks to the long call we were having with offshore when Naren entered my room with a smile.
So after announcing a break from the call, I dried my throat completely trying to blow all the 12+1 candles in one go and the cake cutting ceremony went well with a butcher knife. The cake was good not only by taste but was also soft when applied on face and to my surprise (yes! It was a surprise), it was not sticky when Srikanth applied it over my head. With Vinayak's slow photography; Naren's diet cokes (that’s the booze); Anji's good heart with namesake birthday bumps and Srikanth's wicked mind to play football on my ....., the midnight surprise party was a successful one. Thanks guys for throwing a wonderful party that took me out by surprise! I never expected it from you! (Sarcasm intended)

Please find below few photos from the party!

Cutting the cake

The Surprise party gang (From left: Anji, me, Srikanth, Naren and Vinayak behind the camera)
Vinayak trying his best to make me fat

Birthday boy with cake on the face

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Surprise!!!!!! - Take one!

The most difficult part of a birthday eve is the act of throwing fake surprise to your friends' un-Surprise Birthday party. Though a birthday party can happen only on the birthday eve and there is no surprise about it, everyone around you would expect you to be surprised when they bring the cake at the stroke of midnight to your room as a surprise. You will have to say all words like "Wow!", "You need not have done that", or "I never imagined this" and even "How do you guys know it is my birthday?????" even though you would have washed your face and are on your neat clothes so that the photos would look perfect. Witnessing this trend for many years from college days, it is always a difficult task for me to act surprised when all your friends live in the same room or house as you and hang out with you all the time. However as a true friend, you will never want others to appear stupid after all the hard work they put on creating the surprise. So I always take the trouble of making sure that I don’t hear any of their plans how much lame they would be sometimes to hide the cake in the refrigerator or make secret calls to the rest of the group in other Indian languages that they believe that I wont understand. What they really don’t understand is that we all obviously expect them to throw a party on the birthday and in what ever language they talk, the words "cake" and "birthday" are always voiced in English. So it is hard not to hear the obvious plans. But we still manage not to surprise our friends by acting surprised on not knowing about the surprise party.

One should understand how hard I have been trying not to be there when Srikanth, Naren, Anji and Vinayak are busy discussing about the party tonight. Whether it was when Naren calling Vinayak to inquire about me or when Anji came home to tell Srikanth that he is going to Bi-lo to get the cake or when he called Srikanth after getting the cake, the best I could do was to act very busy exploring the features of my new iPhone. The only surprise that is not open yet is the flavor of the cake. I bet it is chocolate mousse.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Out of the darkness, comes the Knight

If there is one movie I have seen the US crowd to wow aloud and even cheer and clap at the end, it was "The Dark Knight". And it is also the first movie for which the tickets were sold out at 10 PM show and we had to take tickets to 10:45 show and could not find any seats together when we entered the hall 10 minutes before the start. The movie was hyped high to such a level that everyone feared that the movie can never satisfy the much expecting audience. It was the most anticipated movie of the summer season or perhaps the most awaited one of the year. Right from the teaser trailer which had nothing more than the voices of Alfred, Batman and the Joker over the batman symbol getting blown up with the final piece showing a joker card, the movie created a sense of something big is on the sight. And after almost 6 months, there were the first pictures of the movie and especially the photo of Heath Ledger as "The Joker". Astonishing is the right word to describe it. The dark mood of the movie was clear to everyone. The Batman begins was sure to continue to extend the true Batman that every fan Gotham's dark knight longed to see in the big screen. And then there was the trailer. No wonder people went crazy. Summer was all that the Batman buffs dreamt for and here it is, finally on the silver screen. Not only did it smash the Box Office on the very first show at one minute past midnight, it lived to the likings and expectations of every Batman fan and all the movie buffs and even those who might even refer the dark knight as "Batsman" as in "Bat's man". And even after seeing the movie twice, I am eager to watch it again over the coming weekend. It is satisfying just to listen to the audience go "wow" when Joker makes the pencil disappear. If you have seen the movie, you would know what I mean.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What you need and what you deserve?

I am back from "The Dark Knight".Hmmm....... What can I say?
There are so many things to talk about. Much more to explain and discuss. But let us hold on for sometime. There are important things that needs attention. So let me say this first. Forget all the "thought-provoking" or the nerve-breaking thrillers you have ever seen before. This movie will question everything that matters to you. And it questions more. Do you think you are good and are you really good? It questions who you really are? What is the breaking point of every hero? Are choices so simple to be made? Is it best for the fate to decide the choices? Is "control" more powerful than "money"? What drives you to do what you do? Were you really thinking you can do it?

As you could see, I have nothing to say about the movie.... at least not yet. Go to the theatres and experience yourself. You will know there is more for you to answer than comment on the 2.5 hours of astonishment sitting on the edge of the seat.

Before "I" can answer....... I am going to need some time to think. So please wait.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why so serious?

Enough is enough. The most anticipated movie of the year is just few hours away from my sight. My plan to watch the first show was spoiled by my manager's request to be in office by 9:30 the next morning. So difficult for a Friday. Now don’t ask me if it is ok on other days. Anyways, the problem was that the first show was screened at 12:01 AM today and I was thoughtful that I may not be able to wake up early after watching the show. I probably would have spent the night dreaming about the movie. So with many thoughts, I had to take the tough decision to watch the movie in the evening. Another fact that made me furious is that our client who is actually brother/sister of the Movie's Production company, (yeah! you guessed it right) arranged Premiere show only for its "EMPLOYEES" and not its "Contractors" on Thursday morning itself. You can imagine how mad I was when one of the clients cancelled the meeting with me on Thursday with the reason "I am going to the movie!” So there I was looking at the same excel sheet while he was enjoying the day with the Dark Knight, a day before the actual release. I wish I have the cold heart as the Joker. But fortunate for him that I didn't have. Public views that the "Contractors" get more money while the employees get only the "Benefits" can not hold true here for I am with an Indian IT services company and we all know how much we are paid compared to both the employees and the direct contractors. It is high time that they provide equality between "Employees" and "Contractors" at least on Movie tickets!
To add fuel to the fire, there are always my friends who said the movie as "The Black Knight" or "The Dark night".

But still unacceptable are the below words.
Me: I am much awaiting the release of "The Dark knight"
X: What is that????
Me: Grrrrrrrr!

Satman, your idea to watch the movie on Saturday still holds. I will watch it again with you. You do not have to doubt about that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pin the Donkey tail

Those who do not know about the righteous explanation for the word "Assume", listen here.
Assume is actually ASS-U-ME which means you are making "Ass out of you and me". Take either the literal meaning or the common-lingo for the first part of the word, it holds right in every way. And this is important in particular to the software engineering world for the whole project will be in jeopardy when start assuming things. I first heard about this when I was in the final year and have been very vigilant in not falling to the pit and becoming one. And whenever someone starts with the phrase, "I assume that..." my mind would immediately imagine what he is changing me to and would be ready to stop him/her. A subtle phrase which means the same meaning and most people use is this. "What I think is....." All I could think is "Why should I care about what you think with your tinkling skull?" It always means that you do not know the subject and is just trying to contribute to the confusion. It is always better and time saving to clear it out with someone who says "I know that..."
Through some means, I was out of the "assume" and "think" world for sometime. But I was sucked back to the world of assumptions when we started our new project here. It is about constructing a hydro-electric power plant and replaces the thermal power plant to move towards eco-energy. The problem is that everyone in the team only knows that there should be dam before we can construct the power plant. Neither are we clear on whether there is any dam over that place nor the size of the plant if and all the dam exists. So we started making Donkeys on each other. (I prefer to use the literal meaning). One person said "I assume that the dam is already built and I think we only need to build the power plant." Another stated, "Probably the dam is smaller. We will make the dam larger for our large power plant." I too had a question. "How large should the power plant be?" Again the only answer we had is "I assume it should be for the village near the dam. So it should be smaller". With me being made a donkey, I did not want to leave things as it is and so I joined the group and started drawing donkeys. After all, we will have the meeting with the client only tomorrow to clear things out. Till that time, we can have some fun. "I think that the dam is present. But we might need another dam on which the plant will function." I added to the assumptions. Thus in few days, we created so many donkeys that we could make a sale either to the Indian kids who are scolded to herd donkeys by their parents or it will be easier to sell in America due to the upcoming elections. Again, I am not sure why they refer donkeys with the elections in US. But discussion on that topic will deviate from this post. So, with so many donkeys unleashed, we waited for the meeting which finally happened today. And guess what, we had drawn a huge donkey and even with blind-folds, we were able to stick its tail in the correct place so easily. We had made perfect donkey clones and the fact happened to be that the dam was built for a different purpose and they already have a small power plant for a different purpose. So we might have to build a new dam and a new power plant for which "how" is not yet answered. This again has invited more donkeys to be drawn and we will continue that in the coming days. It is always tough to avoid donkeys (assumptions) in the initial stages of the project. But we are trying our level best not to affect the ecological system (project deliverables).

PS: Please take the above post in a lighter note as I "know" we are bound to make donkeys in the early stage of the project and it is also important to brainstorm the possible options when the requirements are not aptly put on paper by the client.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A simple "hi"

It was a normal Friday evening with me on the kart racing track as usual. Driving a not-so-good kart which was skidding much adding to my frustration, I stepped on the gas as soon as I got to the straight part of the track. And that is when I found the driver no #16. It was a young girl around 16 years who was obviously racing for the first time. I could tell that as she was driving in the middle of the track at a much safer speed of about 10mph. Please note that my average speed on the track is 30mph and the maximum speed of 35 mph in the straight lane. Being used to find beginners on the track all the time which included me just a month ago, I decided to overtake easily with a wide turn. As I went closer, I found her looking at the side where her parents were waving at her. I was on the right side of her little behind the rear wheels and while I was just about to cross her, she raised her right hand from the steering wheel and in a cute girlish way, waved with her fingers up and down signalling a silent "hi" towards her parents. I immediately slowed down my kart and went along with her slowly until she turned back to face the track.

It was a blissful moment taking my mind completely off the race.
Even when you are totally drained with heavy thoughts, there are surprising moments like these that happen out of the blue sometimes and makes your heart lighter than ever.

Friday, July 11, 2008

When two S'es' meet

I am just back from one of the most entertaining and everlasting healthy discussion between the two S'es' (Plural of S) of our project. To help you identify them, let us just say one S "sucks" in foosball and the other left me "stuck" in this project for the past 6 months. It would always be interesting to watch the discussion between the two of them. We just hoped that we could get popcorn to munch while enjoying the showdown. Whether the discussion is on the design or the code or even the formatting of the excel sheets, the meeting that is supposed to be for 10 mins would extend to 100 minutes and will still go on with no sign of completion. If you are wondering what could possibly be pulling the meetings longer, give a hi-five. We are also wondering the same. But one point we could notice is that there will be long thought process put on the root cause of every problem they would talk from medieval history of the project to the modern hard-rock theme music of the client which is absolutely fine except that the problem will always have a tap root system (read Botany 6th standard book) which extends deep into the soil for which you would have to dig the dirt to the same or more depth than that of the actual issue to find the root cap (at least check wikipedia) or the root cause. And people like me who are just standing and watching the dig will be having our own fun watching it. You will not be surprised if you can find time even to read all of Viswa’s lengthy (but interesting) posts.

And on this eventful Friday (the servers crashed again), the fun was at high and loud as it took the whole weekly meeting duration leaving me with no time for my supposedly knowledge sharing session that I was not even aware of. What a perfect Friday!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In search of my Author - Preface

"What did I do to deserve this?"

Standing amidst the debris
with a gun in his hand;
The hole ending on his head.
His mind with all doubt and disbelief,
He recalled his life so long yet brief.
He questioned the Supreme Power
To discover himself; to know his purpose.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Into the unknown, he decided to go ahead.

This is the life of "Saathaaravan" born to an ordinary blockbuster hero and indifferent born-to-become mother heroine in a normal Government hospital in a remote village on a perfectly natural thunderstorm night. But what was abnormal was that he happened to be just a natural baby with no signs of turning out to be a great hero. At first, when his mother-to-be was admitted in the hospital, the delivery had to be postponed for weeks as either the lightning or the rain wouldn’t appear on the night and his father-to-be was adamant on getting the lightning as it would be the perfect start of the new hero, their son. And one final day, the lightning did come. But there was also one other pregnant heroine who did not have any child for many years got admitted in the same hospital. Happiness knew no bound inside the father-to-be that they hoped for their child to be switched by the careless nurse who wouldn’t tag the children yet keep them in the same cradle. This might prove to be important for their son's story to grow up in a different place and finally join with them after 25 years. And they need not even find a girl for their hero. He would probably find a girl in his college later most probably one who dresses suitably for the hot climate in India. With high hopes and dreams, they prayed to their author for blessing them so kindly with such a blockbuster son.
But as the director would intervene, the author had an entirely different script for their son. Actually, the author never had a script for their son. He wasted all the time in a hotel room drinking and you know what for all the money the producer gave him. So when the child was born, he was neither switched by the nurse nor did he have any disability that would make his dad neglect him for which he would worry all his life. Disappointed to find his son with everything normal, he even arranged for a kidnapper to steal his child and gave him an iPod with the family song that he sang with his wife when she was pregnant. But before the kidnapper could kidnap the child, he tried to hear the song and got his eardrums blown over. The father had sang too loud as they might be in a different country but still he wanted to be heard when he son plays after a long time. So finally, with no plans working out in favor of the child becoming a hero, the father named his son "Saathaaravan" which means "Ordinary guy" with much dislike. He hoped that his son's story will at least be named after his birth name. But we all know even that did not happen. And this is how the story began or that is what everyone thought so.

To be continued...