Monday, September 29, 2008

The Beginning of Death

I waited for him in the hall. An uninvited guest, as I am all the time; disliked by everyone on the earth though it is very likely that they all will meet me at the end. Of course, I do not come in person for everyone. I have my minions at my disposal that would have their fun doing the work for me. And I make my presence only for those who are "worthy" enough to stay alive but still have to go. As "fate" calls it, it was God’s will. They get cheated by "fate" all the time. Yet they believe it. What an irony! Especially, this person here, Mark as he is rightly called is my Mark. I marked him. He is not like others. He is a special person and it is time for him to move on to his next destiny even though his destiny in this life will go unfulfilled. Destiny like time will not wait for anyone; though unlike time it can be chased on. But his chase is over now and he soon will lose. As I told before, his time is up and he have to go. Even Duke has to go. But not me.
I am getting tired of this. It has been an earthly hour and he is still away planning for something that is never going to happen. When they find out of him tomorrow morning, things will change. There will be war. And I will reap the harvest. No. Wait. I will send my minions instead. After another hour of restlessness, I sensed him walking towards his room unaware of who awaits his appearance. I walked to the door to greet him with my scythe. Raised above my head, I waited for him to come and face "Death". The knob turned with a click as he entered and I swung my Scythe.
And then it happened. Before, I could tear the soul out of his flesh, a sword clashed my blade producing a spark that lighted the whole place and pushed me back inside. I was moved few feet behind and I held guard for the first time waiting to see my challenger. Still shining in bright light, my rival stood there holding a long sword that I very well recognized as the Solarbringer forged in the molten iron river of the primitive earth. It is believed to be forged by the Gods and yielded by the Guardians of Existence during the Earliest of the wars to defeat the Undefeatable. And here it is in the hands of my adversary who is challenging he does not understand. I am impressed at myself. The work of God is needed to meet me face to face. Still sharp with his eyes, he jumped on me with the Sword raised above his head. The blades again met and a lightning crashed on the ground. I pushed him back and swung my scythe as he dodged with ease and dived back and took guard. I smirked and ran towards him revolving myself into a spin with the blade ready to cut anything that comes in contact. He dived again avoiding his end again. As I rested my spin, he yielded the Solarbringer and started bashing as much as he could while I deflected every attack while still happy about watching a worthy Guardian after a long time.
Every living creature has a bond between soul and the body that keeps them together against harm from casual dangers and deadly minions, that is me. Depends upon the will to sustain life and the Karma he have lived for, the bond generates energy that makes life stronger and difficult for me to finish my job. For most creatures, the bond generates passive shield that can withstand only weak forces of darkness and easily get succumbed soon. But for creatures with high Karma and grace, the bond produces an active spirit called "The Guardian". The Guardian is destined to protect the bond till it lasts. But as "fate" terms it, everything that has a beginning, has an end. So the Guardian protects the bond till it end comes and there by brings the end to the life it guards too. And it happens mostly in my generals’ hands or in special case like Mark, has to be mine.
The guardian raised the Solarbringer that looked majestic with its 40 inches blade and extra ordinary 10 inch hilt that forces one to hold the sword with two hands and yet confuse the opponent for a double edged sword that can strike even on the handle side. He swung the blade and it clashed again with mine. The blade remaining against each other, he pushed it hard trying to push it over me. "Do you know what you are fighting for, Guardian?" I laughed at him. "I am death! I cannot be defeated, you blind man" I growled and pushed his sword away. He remained silent and moved in circle waiting for his moment to watch me lost stance. I have seen these pathetic Guardians doing the same again and again as they are told. Their entire life has been written as a Haiku with only words meaning "Fight till Death conquers you". As I lowered my arms a bit, he moved in and struck with his sword towards my left. It met the Scythe and he backed again. I must admit that this is a worthy fight that I have been waiting for so long that I forgot how long it has been since I have to watch the rival’s eyes to determine when his next attack is going to be. The eyes speak before your own arms get the message for action. His eyes spoke swift and hard that it made an impact inside me with every action. Could he be the one to bring the change? Is it time for Duke to go? Is this the beginning of a new era?
The fight continued on as the clashes produced more destruction and thunder as it deafened everything around. With fight aggravating for heavenly hours with both of the players incapable of giving up, the clash moved across seas and oceans and on to the deep forests and finally to the Almighty’s feet at the edge of the river of Void. Fighting harder and harder I wished for the first time, that this should get over soon and found his eyes blinking for a second and before I could interpret its meaning, the sword came to my left and hit the handle taking it away from my grasp. The next bash almost sliced my arm as I dived away to leave the blade untouched. I grabbed the weapon from the ground and moved with a spin on him as he went on moving behind deflecting each attack with the Solarbringer. And with the final attack, I struck hard the blade over his head but he moved away in the final split second.
As the scythe hit the ground, he kicked it taking it away from my grasp once again. And this time, he was lucky enough to wound my arm with his blade and I fell on my back rolling away from the sharp edges reaching out to my weapon. Like a true soldier, he stood there waiting from me to gain ground. "You have no idea what you are doing?" I shouted at him. He really has no idea. "Why do you not understand that death can never be conquered?" There is no win in this fight. "You arrogant slayers never try to realize the simple truth" I was aloud trying to make him understand the inevitable. He never spoke. His eyes were blind yet fixed on me. "Fools!" I laughed. "Victory is not your destiny. You can never stop fighting. I am just trying to offer my help to end this torture." Like drumming on the deaf ears, he stood still with guard. "Okay! If you want it that way, so be it." I decided it is time for the ultimate test. It is time to leave the destiny in the hands of the "fate". I raised my weapon for one final clash. The storm rose high and the clouds gathered together breaking the silence with thunder. It started to rain. He held his hands tight on the sword and raised his arms ready for the strike. The final blow will tell us who would succeed. Whatever the end is, you will not survive. "The Gods play the dice. Let us play with Strength." I ran towards the Guardian with the scythe in front, he too followed unaware of what lay ahead. As the thunders roared as we came close to each other, we swung the blades finishing the fight as we crossed our path slowing down the run at the other end. He turned around still holding the Solarbringer firm in his hands but lowered towards the ground. He knew his opponent could not hold the weapon after the blade has sliced across the torso. I dropped the scythe. My hands would not obey my will. And my legs failed too. I let down myself on the ground. "Well done, Guardian. Well done. You have finally done what most of your kind is not even worth to think of". I let out a loud laugh. Like the only keeper of the secret, I laughed at his ignorance. "Your will to succeed have made you lose your destiny. " I looked at his proud yet confused eyes with full of questions. Of all the questions that haunted him, it is not ‘what next?’ that troubled him but the question why no one told the end of his destiny that frightened him. "You still do not understand. Do you?" I laughed for one last time under Duke’s skin. "It is time for Duke to go and you to embrace death".
And as the last word echoed, I revealed him the truth. "When you conquer death, you become ‘Death’. And I remain forever." As he moved behind realizing his stupidity, the Solarbringer disappeared and the scythe replaced its place in his hands. As the remains of Duke were blown by the winds, his face grew darker and the cloak covered the body that was once protected by Golden armor. The destiny rewritten, the Guardian of the light reincarnated as the Reaper of souls bidden to the commands of the Gods. And the Gods have spoken his first task in his new destiny. "The soul of Mark".

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Soccer Weekend

Thanks to Srikanth for the new HD projector and Satman's love for Soccer and my passion for video games, we were able to set up a big screen Soccer Arena this weekend. Though the last time I played real football was during my high school days, (I lost every game) and if you do not consider the tiny guys hitting the plastic ball in our office diner (Foosball), this is a huge advancement in my sports interest. And the game play of "Winning Eleven 9" also known as "Pro Evolution Soccer" is very exciting and way better than the weak and "more-for-looks" EA FIFA titles. Not only did I hit my first goal in my first game, I won 5 games so far even against Satman who have mastered the game for years. Now, will it make this any less if I say that I won all the games through penalty shootouts? Who cares? I won. Didn't I?
I have decided to put some effort on training lessons to improve my skills. Satman, be prepared to be challenged soon!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Best "buy" from Best Buy

I know that I told a lot about being a desi. But before I begin, please be clear that I did not pull a "desi" though Satman and Srikanth can be categorized as one. This started a week back when Satman called one evening and asked for my home address and verified whether I have a cable connection at home. Though I had a doubt whether he is going to gift us a free cable connection even though my birthday is very far away, I put away that thought knowing that I might be forced to buy a new TV if we get a cable connection. When Me and Srikanth met him in Best Buy, one of America's largest electronics store chain who have absolutely no idea of what they are selling and might even say 250GB hard drive computer is faster than 160GB computer, he was acting secretive and behaved like a secret agent making unfocussed eye contacts and speaking in a low voice as if we are "watched". He was not ready to disclose his intentions even after asking him. His face appeared as if he have stolen a 55" HDTV and was wondering how to hide it in the pocket. Not able to understand what it was all about, we just waited for an hour and finally found that he pulled a "desi". The unintelligent BestBuy guys have priced a Gateway laptop at 520 which is actually sold at 800 bucks in their online store. Now getting the news from his friend, Satman had made a hush-hush purchase of the laptop and came out victorious. Now this is not the entire news. BestBuy also has an offer of $100 off on your laptop if you get a broadband connection from them. And this is where the "Desi" mind came to act. The 520 dollars laptop became just 420 when bought with an Internet connection. And guess what. You can terminate the Broadband connection as soon as billing completes. And that is what I call a "Desi buy".
Hearing the amazing deal, Srikanth too pulled a "Desi" and came out with a laptop for his own on the same day.
One must understand that no laws or rules were crossed in this deal. The wrong pricing was a mistake by the Best Buy store and they had no intention of correcting it even though the mistake was pointed directly on their website by some users. And even the broadband connection was terminated legally by the helpdesk.
So after watching this for a week and when the news reached that the price was corrected in the store but in the wrong direction from 520 to 440 dollars, I too had no hesitation in pulling off the deal. But as I mentioned in the start, I did not pull it in "Desi style" for my mind could not find any justifiable reason for taking the broadband connection and canceling it just to benefit from the offer. But still 480 (incl. taxes) for a laptop with configuration Intel Core 2 Duo 5750 2GHz processor, 4GB RAM and ATI HD2600 512MB graphics card is not a deal but a steal.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to capture "Team Work"?

Our department comes up with interesting idea once in a while. And now it has put up a Photography contest and the choice of topics are "Company Values" and "Team Work". Now the main rule is that I have to take photos especially for this contest and can not use the already taken ones. So I can not use our Treat photos to show our team work in finishing off the Birthday boy's wallet. My evil mind is having troubles in thinking of creative ways to show case "Team work" other than planning to trip down the project manager by a rope. So I request you all, my beloved readers who rarely (never) comment for my posts to break the silence and help me with good ideas for the contest. If commenting on the blog is not comfortable with you, please send me a mail or leave an offline message in the IM or send a SMS or call to my mobile if you know the phone number.

Prizes if won will obviously be shared with those who help me out. Of course, the percentage of your share will be decided later after I receive the prize.

UPDATE: The contest is extended till 26th September 2008. So keep pouring your ideas.

Monday, September 15, 2008

2.6 Million people named Desi

The term Desi is a common way of referring to the emigrants from the Indian Sub continent living in US and UK either temporarily or permanently for many generations. Primarily not an offensive term and is more used by the Desis only, the word has starting representing a culture of its own. The culture that it has established represents many aspects of a daily desi life and the life styles followed by a typical Indian immigrant. The love of spicy food at any time of the day is a classic characteristic of a Desi. Been in UK for almost an year and being in US for the last 1.5 years, I have noticed many interesting characteristics that a Desi typically exhibit, some of which are to be proud of; also equal share of shames and few embarrassing or unethical behaviors too. Here I have tried to list few of them but mostly the adverse characters seen in a Traditional Desi. As most conventional characters are similar to an Indian resident, I have pointed out only the adverse ones. Please not that all the points are my own view and is not meant to hurt anyone.

  1. As already said, Love of spicy food that is "Cooked". "Cooked" food generally means food that is either fried on a Tava or deep fried in oil. Steam boiled food is not considered to be cooked except for rice.
  2. A perfect Desi considers any food that has bread including Subs, sandwiches and burgers as a snack. Only "Cooked" food is considered as meals.
  3. "A penny saved is a penny earned" - Benjamin Franklin
    "A penny saved is Rs.0.45 earned" - Desi
    For a desi, everything needs to be converted to Rupees. A burger for 2.3 dollars is too costly compared to 10 rupees Pani Puri in India.
  4. "Please" is reserved for important occasions only and are hard to be used on normal conversations.
  5. As a general rule, never talk to others unless you are questioned.
    American: "How are you today?"
    Desi: Fine. (Do I know him? Why is he talking to me?)

    Desi 1: "Hello" *smiles*
    Desi 2: Returns a stare. (Now what does he/she want from me?)

  6. If it does not affect you, it is never a problem.
  7. Bashes Indian Police for not following rules. Swears at American Police for following strict rules.
  8. Can take a right turn by standing in the front of the left most lanes.
  9. Complains about the low quality of the pirated movies online and the high cost of Pirated DVDs.
  10. Never heard about the concept of 'buying' MP3 songs.
  11. Calculates the resale price of the car before owning it.
  12. Rules are meant to be bent and Contracts are made to be broken. Whether it is the internet or the mobile phone, the service must last only till the offer exists.
  13. Anything that is not bought in sale is considered as over-priced.
  14. Feels happy about fall in India's economy which would mean increase in US Dollar value against Indian Rupee.
  15. 15-day return policy are created for renting high end gadgets for the weekend tours.
  16. Girl friends are important for healthy social life. Night clubs and lap dances are modern culture. But the bride should be from a homely family brought up in a traditional society.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tweet! Tweet!

After years of speaking, shouting, growling, yawning, burping, hiccupping, laughing, whispering, humming, singing, screaming, crying, hissing, murmuring and even blogging, I thought I will sound myself in one another way. For I know twittering too. And you can hear me twitter at Let me know if you tweet. We can listen to each other even if it might sound like a crow.

For those, who dont know what Twitter is:
(Ref: Wikipedia)
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.
Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone being the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application such as Twitterrific or Facebook.

The best part is that I can tweet from my iPhone too through Twitterrific Application or from on my iPhone Safari browser. Tweet! Tweet!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

GM diet on the air - Emergency Curfew on food!

I hereby declare a emergency curfew on all talks that involves the deliciousness of food especially cakes, ice creams and deep fried chicken for the next four days.
This is put in place to restrict the temptations of breaking my GM diet planned for this week. Not having any troubles following the diet plan in the second week of August, I decided to try it for a week this September too. But I must admit, it is getting difficult this time. Probably it was easier last time as one another person joined me in the diet and we had each other for support. But as I am trying it alone this time, any talk on creamy donuts or spicy masala curries is tempting me to write an exception to have limited quantity of junk food against the rule. But as Neo replies to Smith's question "Why not give up?", I say the same. "Because I chose to". So here I am fighting to up hold the law and control my mind. And I smell victory and not the cod fish at hand.

I actually wrote about the struggle and experiences from the first week, but somehow did not post it before. Boy! Am I proud to say that I reduced about 7 pounds in the first week!
>>Click here to read more

Not able to withstand the continuous criticism on my recent photographs and the fact that the weighing machine is spinning fast when I stand on it, I decided to take the sour pill of dieting. I have also tried few other ways of reducing my own personal punch bag through Gym and Apple Cider Vinegar but there are many obstacles in it. I am unable to go to gym regularly due to the legal necessity of a driving license to drive the car. And the intolerable Apple Cider Vinegar tastes more like Vinegar than Apple. Probably they added it in a proportion of 1:100000. It is the most awful syrup I have ever tasted. Even the tablet equivalent of the syrup did not make any difference. Fed up with these failed attempts, it was time to do the diet way. Contrary to many people's belief, dieting is not stopping to eat, but eating the right food. And searching for the best diet plan, I finally landed up on this GM diet.

GM diet was developed for employees and dependents of General Motors, Inc. I couldn't understand the connection between fitness and automobiles. But reading that the plan was designed in the year 1985 makes you amaze at the Employee relations program by GM.
Coming to the point, GM diet is a week program with food limited by type and not on quantity every day. For the details about the GM diet, please refer here.

Now let’s take a look at my day to day experience in GM diet.

Day 0: A diet plan for 7 days that has mostly vegetables and fruits kinda scares me out. It might be because I am used to having them between the actual meals. So taking them as the actual meal raised my eyebrows a lot. But with strong determination, I prepared myself for the diet. I enjoyed myself with delicious idlis, masala dosa, medhu vada and spicy noodles at Udipi for brunch and dose of Spinach sauce dipped tortillas, chicken wrap and grilled herb chicken at Applebee’s for dinner. One week of dieting was compensated the day before itself.
Physical state: Strong and burping after heavy dinner
Mental state: Thrilled to start the diet

Day 1: All fruits except bananas. Your first day will consist of all the fruits you want. It is strongly suggested that you consume lots of melons the first day. Especially watermelon and a loupe. If you limit your fruit consumption to melons, your chances of losing three lbs. on first day are very good.

Watermelon being a favorite to me, the day started happily with watermelon in a 1 liter container for breakfast and 2 liters for lunch. Towards the evening, the stomach started showing its anger of not getting bread and cheese for the day. But I somehow controlled it by drinking a lot of water whenever the hunger tried to start. Had another liter size of Watermelon and half-a-liter container of cantaloupe for dinner. The toughest part was ordering a pizza for my flat mates and unable to taste it.
Physical state: Still strong and healthy with very less fatigue but no change in weight. The scale stills spins to an alarming position.
Mental state: Facing the challenge of avoiding junk food. Not much trouble though.

Day 2: All vegetables. You are encouraged to eat until you are stuffed with all the raw or cooked vegetables of your choice. There is no limit on the amount or type. For your complex carbohydrate, you will start day two with a large baked potato for breakfast. You may top the potato with one pat of butter.

Potatoes for breakfast??? What kind of diet is this anyway? But followed it heartily. Got a baking potato and micro waved it as I had no patience and time for baking it in oven for an hour. I was able to eat one whole baked potato which tasted better after adding a pinch of salt in the second half. Took a packet of Baby carrots for lunch which is the strangest meal I ever had. Like Bugs Bunny I happened to talk to the colleagues munching my carrot all the way. I was getting a bit hungry towards the night but was saved by steamed mixed vegetables with seasoning.
Physical state: Still no sign of weight decrease.
Mental state: Interesting. Everyone is talking about the diet plan. That made me feels motivated.

Day 3: A mixture of fruits and vegetables of your choice. Any amount, any quantity. No bananas yet. No potatoes today.

Work was hectic and the day started with no breakfast. But no tiredness. Felt like my body was getting used to the diet. I had 1 liter container of Watermelon for lunch and a cucumber in the evening. Today brought the greatest test ever over my determination. We went to Cold stone creamery and got "Midnight delight", a three-layered chocolate ice-cream cake for my room mate's birthday and Srikanth who accompanied me bought a large scoop of ice-cream mixed with roasted almonds and was eating all the way back home. But the toughest challenge was to munch cucumbers while everyone were filling themselves with Ice-cream cake. But I survived the day and the Diet plan is still alive.
Physical state: Hurray! Scale shows a pound less. I know it is less for all the sacrifices. But it is a start.
Mental state: Waiting for the week to be over. Already plan set to visit Cold stone on Monday.

Day 4: Bananas and milk. Today you will eat as many as eight bananas and drink three glasses of milk. This will be combined with the special soup which may be eaten in limited quantities.

This day indeed went by easier than I thought. Consumed only 6 bananas and a glass of milk for the whole day in addition to the 10 glasses of water. Water was more for hunger than thirst quencher. Lived through the day even after discussing the possible options for Vinayak's birthday treat and best Indian restaurants close by.
Physical state: One more pound decreased! Little concerned about the slow decrease in weight.
Mental state: Appears like I can complete the diet plan successfully. Slight thoughts of repeating the plan again in the future.

Day 5:
Beef and tomatoes. The beef is for iron and proteins, the tomatoes are for digestion and fiber. Lots and lots of water purify your system. You should notice colorless urine today. Your allowance calls for the equivalent of five "quarter ponders". Do not feel you have to eat all this beef. You must eat the six tomatoes.

This is the costliest diet I have ever tried. Trying to have a healthy diet, I bought organic tomatoes instead of the usual Roma tomatoes and had to pay 10 bucks for 8 tomatoes. It makes me feel worried to see the cost of naturally grown vegetables costlier than the fertilized ones. I had 2 tomatoes for breakfast followed by 2 more and a roast beef sandwich for lunch. Finished off the day with two tomatoes for dinner. Hunger had stopped completely. And even treat in an Indian restaurant did not tempt me one bit. Hoping the remaining two days will go in a breeze.
Physical state: 2 more pounds decreased. That is 4 pounds in 5 days. But I was promised at least 10 pounds in 7 days.
Mental state: Felt sleepy in the evening. No sign of hunger though the total intake was just 8 tomatoes and a sandwich.

Day 6: Beef and vegetables. Today you may eat an unlimited amount of beef and vegetables. Eat to your hearts content.

The craving for food was higher today as I was just sitting in home on the weekend. With the previous days gone while being busy with work in office, sitting without any work pressed the stomach to take spicy and nutty food. It was a very hard day. Though you can eat unlimited amount of beef (meat), the fact we should eat without cheese or oil reduced the options. I settled down to sandwiches bought in Wal-Mart and removed the thick layer of cheese before eating it. But still managed to survive and the Diet continued.
Physical state: Just 1 more pound decreased. Made me wonder if I am doing anything wrong,
Mental state: I wanted to be in office so that the time will pass faster. Newton's law of relativity was playing its role.

The Final day: Today your food intake will consist of brown rice, fruit juices and all the vegetables you care to consume.

Fruit juices at last. The day passed with lots of watermelon juice and apples and watching "Tropic Thunder" helped in passing the time. And even when Srikanth, Vinayak and Satish suggested having ice-cream from Cold Stone Creamery, I was strong enough to sit next and watch them while they were eating "I love it" size of Banana Split, Cheesecake and Chocolate fantasy ice creams. I cleared the final test of controlling the temptation with flying colors.

The Verdict: Like a school kid awaiting the exam results, I was waiting for the Monday morning but only to realize that Vinayak had tampered the zero reading of the weighing scale and it showed almost 15 pounds less than my weight at the start of the week which can not be the truth. So with final approximation of how much he changed the reading, the total count came to 6 to 8 pounds. This is a great achievement for a guy who tried to reduce weight for the last 5 months but only increased by more than 10 pounds. So the final verdict is "GM diet works!"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Speeding ticket

Should I be thankful that it did not happen a week before when I was having only the Indian driving license and my US driving license was in expired state? Or should I be worried of being stopped by a cop in the highway? Or should I be cheered for joining the majority of the US drivers who atleast have got stopped by the cop once? Should I be excited for getting my first speeding ticket and that too 20 miles above the speed limit? Or should I just teach myself to be aware of the cops while speeding? Except the first two options, rest are either stupid or unethical. But as most other adrenaline pumped young (I AM YOUNG) drivers, though I am sorry for speeding, I am somehow less concerned. After all, I was not driving reckless. There is a huge difference between ove rspeeding and reckless driving. Over speeding is like using calculator in a Engineering Maths exam. You may not be allowed to use it, but it is not going to give any formula or direct answers. But reckless driving is copying answers from the next person. You not only skip the learning part but also put yourself in danger in case that the other person is wrong. I was using a calculator and unfortunately it was a scientific one(higher speeds).

Anyway, though I learnt my lesson at heart not to speed beyond the speed limit, whats so ironic was when I told about this speeding ticket to Satman, his comment was "You got caught speeding in a Chevy Uplander (7 seater mini van)? That is lame". Now the speeding is not making me feel worried, but his question "Just Chevy Uplander????" bothers me. Would it feel better if it had been a Pontiac G6 or a Mustang GT?

PS: I do not know the fine amount yet. I am asked to get that information by calling the department office in Georgia and they told that citation is not filed into the computer till now and I have to check with them next week.