Friday, December 30, 2005


A quiver full of quirks

Sougata, one of my favourite bloggers, tagged me with the 'What are your top five quirks?' meme.

My quirks are like seasons. They come and go. And, I must admit, I am far less quirky than I used to be, say, five years ago.

So, here, in no particular order, are my five top quirks, most of them a product of my absent-mindedness.

I have already written about two of them -- making paper boats and rolling pieces of paper -- on this blog.

Number 3: Like Sougata, I prefer to go to sleep to some sound. In my college days, it used to be the sounds of All India Radio. Nowadays, I set my Worldspace radio to switch off in 30 minutes. Usually, I am switched off before the radio switches itself off. If I forget to set the timer, as sometimes happens, I get the pleasure of waking up to music as well. I am not particular about the kind of music: it could be Hindi pop, old Hindi, Western classical and Indian classical. On days that my wife isn't home, I even go off to sleep watching TV.

Number 4: My legs are in constant motion, even though the rest of me is still. Whether I am in a restaurant, or in a meeting, or at my desk, I am continuously shaking my legs. I am doing it even as I write this. My wife says I shake my legs in my sleep as well. But then, she says that I also snore sometimes. I strongly disagree. I think I just breathe a little more deeply than usual. But that's one argument I can't win :)

Number 5: I love the word compelling. I use the word more often than I would like for work-related writing...

So those are my little idiosyncrasies. And I now pass on the meme to Sylvia, Zaki and Codey.


Seems familiar...

A man's digicam gets stolen from a restaurant. He heads to eBay, and finds a great deal on the same model. He is happy that his accessories won't go waste. He buys it. And realizes that it's the good ole camera he lost in the restaurant.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Moan... moan...

You're fired!

In a German firm, you are not allowed to exceed your limit of moans at the water cooler.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Ganguly, ganguly, ganguly

Ganguly, Ganguly, Ganguly, Ganguly, Ganguly...
Ganguly, Ganguly, Ganguly, Ganguly, Ganguly...

Can someone please turn of off the tap?

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Lice, damned lice!

If Head and Shoulders had been invented in the early 1800s, history may well have read differently.

Louse-borne diseases killed more soldiers of Napolean Bonaparte's invading army than the Russians.


Chamchas have a mind of their own

In a path-breaking study, Australian scientists have proved that teaspoons have a mind of their own, and a habit of disappearing. Spoons have an aversion to humans and are believed to be migrating to a planet populated by spoonoid life forms.

While such cutting-edge research is most certainly welcome, I would like more research on two other objects that love to vanish: pens and umbrellas.

During my days as a journalist, I have lost not only several of my own pens but also those that belonged to my colleagues. To solve the problem, they pitched in and gifted me a thick, fat pen that you could hang around the neck. But pens will be pens. It's their karma to disappear.

Within a week, only the cap of the said pen was hanging around my neck. The pen had moved on.

About umbrellas, I follow a golden principle: It's better to get drenched without investing in an umbrella, than get drenched after investing in one.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Whose public interest is it anyway?

Sting operations are the flavour of the season, and it’s a bad time to be a politician. Hidden cameras make for great TV and even better TRPs, and I have no problem with that. But when the media starts to position sting operations as public interest exposes, I find it a little hard to digest.

If broadcasting politicians making complete asses of themselves did not translate into higher TRPs, the spycam would not be as ubiquitous as it is today. That sting operations may actually serve public interest is incidental. The icing on the PR cake. So let's just call a spade and spade.

By the way, isn’t bribing a public official illegal in India?


Butcher's knife or surgeon's scalpel?

Surendra, a rickshaw puller, went to hospital to have his appendix removed. The doctor, instead, stole his kidney.
IBN Live, CNN-IBN channel's online avatar, reports that Surendra is now battling for his life.

Upate: Surendra died Saturday. Apparently, the doctor stole both his kidneys.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Bells and whistles

The Times of India adds some Christmas cheer to its online masthead.

Why does it remind me of Google?


Not as easy as it seems

The Guardian has an article on how unscruplous companies are manipulating rankings on Google. The newspaper created a spoof site for a company that sells eco-friendly flip-flops and managed to secure top billing within a couple of days. The trouble with the article is that it uses a particularly bad example to prove its point.

It is common sense that your ranking on Google will be determined by the number of pages that are competing for that particular key word or phrase. One of the most important factors Google considers while ranking a page is the text in the title (the words that appear on the blue bar on the top of a browser).

Any company serious about selling eco-friendly flip-flops will have the phrase in its title. An easy way to check the competition is by using the Google syntax allintitle:eco-friendly flip-flops. Till yesterday, there were only two results, one of which was the spoof site.

So if only one other site is seriously competing for eco-friendly flip-flops for top ranking on Google, what are the chances that the spoof site would rank number 1?

Even otherwise, the article on the whole takes a rather simplistic view of how people manipulate Google's rankings.

Update: The competing site is the blog of the article's author :) So essentially eco-friendly flip-flops has no competition.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Thank you Eminem!

Nusta Khallas alerts me to an epoch-making first for FullTP.
Mumbai Mirror, the chota paper that accompanies the bada paper, has managed to excerpt my very chota post on Eminem for its column called Blogger's Park.
Not my favourite paper, not my favourite column, not my favourite post, but I am not complaining.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Third degree with Eminem

If listening to Eminem gives you a headache, imagine the plight of these detainees in a prison in Afghanistan.

Human Rights Watch claims that United States operated a secret prison near Afghanistan's capital as recently as last year, and that the rap music of Eminem and Dr. Dre were used as instruments of torture.

Link via Fark

Sunday, December 18, 2005


The math behind Sudoku

American Scientist has an interesting article on the logic and math behind what was for a brief while my favourite early morning pastime: Sudoku.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


May I watch Eknath Solkar get his 100?

The first TV in our building (rather neighbourhood) arrived with Clive Lloyd’s West Indians in late 1974. It came into the home of the Bhats on the ground floor. The Bhats soon realized what a heady cocktail live TV and cricket can make. The entire neighbourhood wanted to watch Clive Lloyd and his merry men smash the Indians to pulp. The Bhats had a simple solution to the problem: A house full board outside their door on match days. I kid you not!

The first TV in our home arrived with the new year of 1975. It was – hold your breath – a 24-inch Standard TV that my father had managed to buy through connections in the customs department. The West Indies were playing India at the spanking new Wankhade Stadium in Mumbai. After losing the first two Tests, India had come back with two wins, thanks to our famed spin quartet and the original little master, Gundappa Vishwath, who single handedly stood up to the fiery Andy Roberts. A keen contest was on the cards.

All I remember of the first two days is Lloyd’s double hundred, suitably aided by Bedi’s butter fingers. On the third day, Lloyd put India out of their misery, declaring for a mammoth 600-odd. Gavaskar provided some early fireworks with a stunning assault on Gibbs.

The next day, as Eknath Solkar edgily, scratchily neared his first Test hundred, there was a knock on our door. A complete stranger stood outside. He said he was a friend of Solkar, showed us a picture of them together to prove it, and wanted to watch Ekki get his ton. Join the party, we said. And he squeezed his way into our crowded living room. Solkar got his ton (if I remember right, he almost got run out running the hundredth run), the stranger thanked my dad profusely and left, Vishwanath played an uncharacteristic innings of 90 and India lost by an innings.

That was the only time one of my brothers, always in the minority of one, scored brownie points in the eternal who-is-better-Vishwnath-or-Gavaskar debate.

It was such a long time ago, I may have mixed up some of the details. My memory is not as good as it used to be :)

Friday, December 16, 2005


What a catch!

A New York woman threw her one-month-old son from the third floor of a burning building and the baby was caught by an amateur baseball player standing outside.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Hens lay eggs, hold up traffic

A truck carrying a load of hens hit a ditch and lost its load. What resulted was traffic chaos caused by a hazardous slick of broken eggs

"Chickens have begun to lay eggs on the roads and the conditions are quite treacherous at the moment, very slippy," AA Roadwatch said on its traffic advice line, warning up to 7,000 chickens were on the loose.

A sergeant said little could be done about the hens' egg-laying: "We wouldn't expect anything less from a hen." :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Ganguly gets a jaffer!

Not the way to treat Ganguly, writes Harish Kotian in

I agree.

The selectors did the right thing in picking him for the Tests. Now, they go do something that completely defies logic: drop him for Wasim Jaffer.

Logic, I suppose, is not something you can expect from the five wise men.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Veil of a time

Daniel Lak has some interesting observations about life in Bhopal.

Here's a gem:

'Then I noticed something you’d never see in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or even Old Delhi. A young couple roaring along on a motorbike, he driving, she riding pillion but legs astride the seat. Her burqa billowed alongside like the wings of a giant bat but her arms clutched his waist in a way that my mother might have considered immodest. A young friend later told me that many Hindu girls in Bhopal kept a burqa in her closet to wear on a date with her young man. "That way they can get to all sorts of interesting activities," my friend explained, "and no one can tell her family because curious passersby don’t know who’s beneath the burqa." '

That's inventive.


Come again, please!

"I have always maintained that if used rightly, tiny, lens bearing apertures, can empower a citizenry by exposing democracy's toxic acreage."

That's Aniruddha Bahal talking about the sting operation that has netted some MPs taking bribes.

Do people actually talk like that? What the hell is democracy's toxic acreage?


A is for...

There are some benefits of having a name that starts with the first letter of the alphabet.

Was checking my site statistics, and noticed a spike in my readership (even two extra readers results in a spike, but that's another story :)

I have been getting a lot of referrals from a site called Sunsuna, which tracks Indian blogs.

Since they list blogs alphabetically, yours truly has pride of place, till someone named Abhishek comes and dislodges me.

I am planning to change my name to Aashok. That would be hard to beat. I hear it has some great numerological effects as well.


More on Wikipedia

The popular encyclopedia now faces a class action suit.

"There is a problem with the operation and functionality of Wikipedia. The basic problem is that none of the Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., nor any of the volunteers who are connected with Wikipedia, consider themselves responsible and therefore accountable for the content.

"They believe themselves to be above the law."

Link via Digg.


Some Idiosyncrasies

Many of the more tech-savvy readers of this blog may already be aware of this.

I just got a mail that informs me that you can't create a folder called con in Windows. I tried and I couldn't.

Here's some info.

Zaki, meanwhile, points out an IE feature. If you create folder with a name like a Web address (for instance,, then when you type that address on IE, the browser will access the local folder not the site.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Breaking news on TV

Amitabh Bachchan ne aaj juice piya.


He's such a doll!

Suzy Walker cannot bear separation from her sailor husband. So she moves around with a $200 look-alike mannequin.


Your identity isn't a secret on the Internet...

Brian Chase discovered this at the cost of his job.

Much has already been written about the Wikipedia entry on John Seigenthaler Sr., a former editor of The Tennessean in Nashville; an entry that contained a lot of false information.

In fact, the entry prompted Wikipedia to ban new article from anonymous sources.

Daniel Brandt, who runs Wikipedia Watch, traced the computer used to make the Wikipedia entry to a delivery company in Nashville.

When The New York Times came calling, Chase, an employee there, confessed that he had put up the entry as a joke to shock a colleague.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic

MP Sharad Anantrao Joshi wants the word 'socialist' taken out from the Representation of People's Act, if not from the Preamble to the Constitution.

According to him, the description of India as a sovereign ‘democratic secular socialist’ republic is not only ‘‘vague’’ and replete with multiple meaning, it also forces those who have no belief in this particular ‘‘ism’’ to falsify their stand.

‘‘It has lost all relevance today. It is false, anachronistic and contradictory description.’’


Typos can be expensive... three-billion-dollar expensive!
Mizuho, the world's second largest bank based in Japan, accidentally sold 610,000 shares, valued at $3.1 billion... for 1 yen each.

Fortunately for them, the actual loss totted up to $224m, thanks to market rules designed to limit price fluctuation.

Link via A Capital Idea.


Wife swap

A Turkish villager runs off with his friend's wife. And then calls the latter the next day to offer his own in exchange.

Friday, December 09, 2005


9 is never as good as 10

Anil Kumble's perfect 10 may never have happened if Waqar Younis had had his way.

"Waqar, who was batting with me, had suggested that one of us get run-out to deny Kumble the perfect ten haul,” said (Wasim) Akram

“But I thought it would not be right to do something like that (get run out)...

“I assured Waqar that I would not get out to Kumble and the very next ball I was out!”


Blog is banished

Lake Superior State University is out with its 30th annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.

Blog (and its variations blogger, blogged, blogosphere) makes it to this year's list, alongside such worthies as erectile dysfuntion and zero percent APR financing. We are certainly not in august company.

Some reasons why blog makes the cut:

“Sounds like a Viking’s drink that’s better than grog, or a technique to kill a frog.” Teri Vaughn, Anaheim, Calif.

“Maybe it’s something that would be stuck in my toilet.” – Adrian Whittaker, Dundalk, Ontario.

“I think the words ‘journal’ and ‘diary’ need to come back.” – T. J. Allen, Shreveport, La.

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