Saturday, November 26, 2005

Living The American Dream - The American Way

I am nearing the completion of three months in America (well technically its still 12 more days to go but...). I started to write blogs with the initial motive of sharing my American Experiences with the people I love and viceversa. But it seems that lately this became more of a Technology-Information Blog than Nikhil-Experiences-Infomation blog. Not that I have not had experiences here but somehow they were either not worth a blog or the lazier half of me took control, but after the last few days I am determined to write about some personal experiences.

24-25th Nov (or more generally the Thursday and Friday of the third week of November) are Thanksgiving festival days in America. Traditionally on Thursdays the whole family eats dinner together(or is it lunch?) and on Fridays its Day-of-Shopping. I had no plans to celebrate it - eating with family is a commonday activity in India (Alas! I have not been doing it for the past 4 hostel years) and a day just for shopping cant be labbeled as Festival in India, however in America its different and justified - but I ended up celebrating probably more than it demanded :-)

Well I just realise that given the amount of time I have *Wasted* in the past three days and going to tommorrow I really dont have the right to make this a detailed experiences blog, but just wont give up without writing a synopsis.

1. Wed Night
Movie - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with Nikhil K. and Mayank Kaabra. It was a good entertaning movie in absolute sense but the other episodes were much better than this one.

2. Thursday Night
Thanksgiving party at Antoni's Place with Doug and his wife Megan, Luke, Dashan and his wife, and two more people whos name I failed to capture there (I really apologize for this and request if ever any of you read this blog please help me update the names). This party is what actually made me feel that I am also celebrating Thanksgiving the American Way. After a sumptuous dinner - yes Doug and his wife were Vegetarian too so there was Vegetarian stuff too - we played few games that was a kind of Charades but had three stages to it. I must say it was one of the best night in America. Here only I came to know that friday is the Day-of-Shopping so..

3. Friday Morning: Day-of-Shopping with Diwaker, Nitin and Diba. Again this was one of the best outings - one...first time I did shopping without any list and ultimately landed up spending aroung 10k in INR in Walmart and Fry's. , two...the group was fun, three...we had nice Indian Lunch and 20 packets of ParleG :-). Bought a Tripod, Camera bag, Cycling Helmet, Small-sweet knife a jacket and some other trinkets.

4. Friday Night: Movie 'Rog' at Nitin's place with Nikhil K, Bhavjit and Kundu. Irfaan Khan being the actor - Nitin's favorite guy, and to an extent mine too - the movie was tolerated. Well the second and third reason to justify the moive can be Uddam Singh for his style and Ilene Hamman for her .... (yes I did a google search to find her name)

5. and there more to come tomorrow - Sun: bike trip with hopefully Panju, Nitin, Nikhil K, Sachin, Jyoti et al. Will write a seperate blog on this.

Phew! I must be get going, else the fun I had this week with be mapped by an inverse polynomial function the next week.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Movie Review - Osama

Just came back from the free screening of Osama. I should be working right now but the movie has left me in contemplation so I thought the best would be to write about it.

In short, the movie, based on a true strory, shows the pliglt of women in Afganistan during the Taliban Rule. The lead character is a 12 year old girl, who is disguised like a boy by her mother as women are not allowed to work or even travel alone. Ultimately the Taliban finds it and she just escpaces her death, when an old man weds her and takes her to his 'harem' where there are already handful of his other wives. (No he does not take her out of pity, but with lecherous intentions)

About the moive - its short and to the point, no background score, not many dialogues, a hitting story with no hanky-panky emotions or drama, a more like a documentary without narration. One does expect that like the usuall movie climaxes the story will somehow turn favorable to the girl and her mother but director Siddiq Barmak, spares no sympathy, probably wanting to depict the exactitude. This is what made me think.

I have heard from people and read in the news that Taliban was really merciless to the people especially the woman as the movie depicts. But was its really to this degree that woman was not allowed to travel alone even under a burka? And when a man takes his wife on a cycle, he can be punished as other men will be aroused? Or is it just another method to justify the ousting of Taliban by the Americams.

Well probably its true! And why not. I have heard stories about the restrictions the women had to suffer in the villages of India too but probably never really gave them a thought. Now when the thought passes by that the ritual of 'Sati' did exist(believing it actually did exist in the form as we know now) the verisimilitude of the movie can not be questioned. The problem is that I dont believe in condemning anything out and out. I believe in necessity is the mother of all inventions and also rules and regulations. But necessities change over time, and many a times the rules and regulations dont, that is the right time to condemn them. I do strongly condemn the ritual of 'Sati' and the 'unbendable rules' depicted in the movie' - in the contemporary world, and also want to do so in any other world, but the other half of me is trying to find possible reasons as to what in the first place gave rise to such rituals. Can they be justified at any point of time? (I believe not. Which might contradicts my belief of necessity is the mother of all rules and regulations, but who says that all necessities are justified? The problem lies in the necessity itself..... well!! A good movie go and watch it.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Information Management - Websites

So you are trying hard to remember a website that you had book marked at your office computer or just surfed by while enjoying an evening with your girlfirend on her computer. Or probably you are like the ones who dont believe in bookmarks and girlfriends ;-). Well I did not too! but after 'delicious' happened to me I started believing in one of them. And its still not girlfriends.

The most creative thing about the website apart from its core is its name - read del dot icio dot us without the 'dot's and you get delicious names - but they acutally have it . Dont go by the looks of the site just register and it will give you two links that you should add to your Mozilla browser (dont tell me you still use IE)

Whenever you want to bookmark a site ckick and it will take you to a page where you can add tags to that bookmark. If you want to retrieve that you can use my link. Simple as that. What makes it usefull is that it
1. You can access it anywhere
2. You can obviously sort using the tags
3. If that link is also marked by someone else it gives you a kind of page rank.
4. Its light on your network.

A suggestion: have a tag called freetime so that nextime instead of unconsciously checking your mail in your freetime you click my delicious and go to the your freetime ;-) sites without having to think what was the address or typing it in google.

Now the only thing left is - me to start believing in girlfriends, does anyone know a site?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Information Management - News

Yesterday night I had a long bulla session with Diwaker - The man for all the tools you would ever need to *live* online. We both were on the common ground that Information Management is necessary. We want our minds to be free - how many times have you regretted that you missed a deadline (backpackit, rememberthemilk) , or if you could just remember the site you went to that had the best information on Hiking Opportunities in Kinnaur district (delicious), or if you are away from your home sweet home, you surely want a *noise* free news site - (Read below) - And dont give me the crappy answer - "Isnt Google there!"

I wanted to get noise free news, Times of India/Indiatimes was pathetic, so was Hindustan Times Online, I could skim something from Rediff News, Google News and the Economic Times but going to so many different pages and then lookin'n'pickin news items from those portals was not an optimal solution. Here comes RSS.

Yes I know it has been around for ages, but only for point one percent junta (and if you are still thinking how does Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) solves the problem of getting news, you need a complete overhaulling of your infomation system).

RSS is the answer to not going to myriad of portals, and not having to scan through to get filtered news. Almost all good news portals have RSS support - and then there are RSS agregators. What agregator does is that it goes to all these sites (that supports RSS) and get out the content that you are interested in and display 'only' the content to you. Google provides an RSS agregator at also at the Personlaized Google Homepage, all you need to do is find the RSS link to the site you want information from and feed it in the agregator -like Rediff business news, CNN news, word of the day (all RSS links).

Now be sure to tap all the information without it being a pressure on your mind.