Friday, August 27, 2010

Technical Humour

Apart from releasing a high quality software product, our team has various other talents. Amongst those, there is one that just cannot be overlooked. If some of my team mates are reading this, they would probably know what I am talking about. Yes, it is the ability to crack pathetic jokes about anything and everything on the surface of this earth.  Over the last 7 years, I remember two "technical jokes" that deserve a special mention. If you know more, please feel free to add.

Technical Joke #1 (Joke Creator: Saurabh Gupta, Audience: Me, Comic Creator: Me)

Technical Joke/Puzzle #2 (Joke Creator: VJ, Audience: Whoever he could catch)

There was a group of 30 people and a tray of 30 sweets. The first member of the group said "Lo or aage pass kar do." So the tray went around the room and when it reached the last member, it still had 30 sweets in it. Why?
Try harder!!
because the instruction was "Lo OR aage pass kar do" and not "Lo AND aage pass kar do."

Now this is what I call talent.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Tiny Voice

(Wrote this about four years back. But has remained my favorite till now.)

Vinay was a sound sleeper. He usually slept late in the night and, as a result, woke up late. Very few things could disturb his sleep. He barely stirred when there was an earthquake. He would not budge if clouds thundered themselves away. He would not even wake up if his cell phone shrieked right next to his ears.

Things looked the same that night too, when after a wild evening at the local pub, Vinay came back home and slumped down on his bed. He fell asleep right away and started dreaming almost immediately. He dreamt that he was back in the pub surrounded by beautiful girls and having the time of his life drinking and flirting. This was his favorite type of dream and he was thoroughly enjoying himself when something very unusual happened. He woke up!

Surprised, Vinay looked around for the source of this nearly impossible interruption in his sleep. A very low but continuous static could be heard. He tried to locate the source and traced it to a very small ball of milky-white light at the foot of his bed. “What in the devil’s name is this?” He mumbled to himself. Slowly, the white light spread and took an indiscernible form that loomed above his bed. This freaked him out. “What the hell!” He said loudly.

“Don’t be afraid, child. I am not here to harm you. “, said a soft but clear voice from somewhere within the huge white blob. Strangely enough, the white blob glowed but its light did not reflect off the surrounding objects. And the voice! It was amazing. Very sweet! Vinay could not make out whether it was male or female. It sounded like thoughts. Thoughts that are clear, audible, and human but neither male, nor female.

“I am here to help you.” The voice spoke again. “What are you?” Vinay asked nervously, trying to sound stern. “I am God.” The voice replied.

“God! Now I understand. Nishant, come out from wherever you are hiding. I know it is you. And how did you make this white creep?”

“Child, there is no one here but you and me. Just think, would Nishant or anyone else have been able to wake you up?”

This made Vinay ponder. It was true. Nishant or any other friend of his would never have been able to wake him up. After a short silence and a bit of looking around the room, Vinay admitted, “Okay, so you are God. Now what? Do I die?”

“Die? Of course not! I just thought of visiting you because I thought you needed help.”

“Me? Need help? Someone has definitely played a trick on you. Go Home, God. Or to heaven, or wherever it is where you stay. Whoever told you that I need your help, needs to see a psychiatrist.”

“Child, do not talk about your poor cat like this. He has been living in heaven for the past three years, but still cannot stop talking about you.”

“Babba told you about me?”

“Yes, he was very concerned. He was sure that I could help you. I told him that it will be of no use as Vinay has never listened to me. But the stubborn cat just would not listen. Like master, like cat.", sighed God. "He kept pestering me until I promised him that I would visit you.”

“When have I not listened to you? This is the first time I am seeing you. If I have never met you, how can you claim that I never listened to you?” Vinay was getting impatient now. He just wanted to go back to sleep.

“Calm down, child. Do you think I have so much time that I can visit every single human in person? Do you think I have more than twenty four hours in a day? If I do not visit you, it does not mean that I am not there. I have tried to get across my point to you many times, but you have always ignored me.” God answered peacefully.

“And when was that? May I know if it is not too much trouble to you?”

“No, not at all. Nothing is too much trouble for me. I have advised you a lot of times in your life. But you always turned your face the other way and chose not to listen.”

“Go on, give me an example. I am all ears.” Vinay mocked.

“You remember the time you broke the beautiful vase your grandma had gifted to your mother? You did not listen to me and blamed Babba for it.”

“Well, call me stupid, but I do not remember you popping in at that time.”

“Of course, I was there. Do you not remember that voice in your head that kept nagging you to own up for the incident and not blame the cat? You just ignored the voice.”

A little ashamed, Vinay argued, “But God, Babba was not punished for this. I would have been.”

“That is true. Babba was saved then. But that was because your mom listened to me when I whispered to her to let go of her anger. If she was as unreasonable as you, Babba would have been homeless after that incident. Do you agree?”

“I didn’t know you talk to mom as well.”

“Of course I do. I talk to everyone. My voice can be heard by anyone who wants to listen to it.”

“Ok. But that was just one such incident. How does this one incident mean that I need help?”

“Child, I agree with Babba. You do need help. I have tried to tell you the right way a lot of times, but you have always gone in the opposite direction and done the wrong thing. You may not be aware, but your actions have hurt a lot of innocent people.”

“God, I may have hurt Babba, but I don’t think that I hurt anyone else. I just live my life according to my own rules. If someone does not agree doesn’t mean that I hurt them.” Vinay persisted.

“There is nothing wrong in living life in your own way. It is wrong only when you do not own up to your mistakes and try to blame others. Like when you broke up with Mohini.”

“I broke up with Mohini because she flirted with Nishant in front of me.”

“She was just trying to make you feel jealous as you were continuously eyeing the bar girl and ignoring her. I tried to tell you at that time to show Mohini that you cared for her and not for the bar girl. But your ego made you deaf and you, as usual, did not listen to me. You flared up and shouted at the poor girl.”

Then Vinay understood. “So you mean that you are the voice that keeps on telling me stuff that I think will ruin me.”

“Yes, that is yours truly.”

“But God, I think your advice will, in most situations, make me appear stupid and mean to others.”
“Yes, I know. It may. But it will help you be a better person as well. It will make you feel proud of yourself. And, above all, it will prevent future visits from me.” God smiled.
“Yes, that kind of convinces me.”
“Ok then, my work is done here. I have to be off to help someone else like you.”
“Don’t go yet, God. I am just starting to enjoy my conversation with you.”
“Child, I have to go. I think you have understood enough already.”
The voice and the white light faded away. The room suddenly became very warm, and Vinay sat up in his bed.
“Is this a dream?” he wondered to himself. “No, it isn’t.” replied a tiny voice in his head. And, this time, Vinay heard it, loud and clear.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Anxiety, thy name is Tiger/Lion

(Photo clicked by my friend, Sachin Jain)

I am not afraid of Tigers and Lions. I love watching them hunt on National Geographic or Discovery and am not repulsed by the way they devour their hapless victims. I do not jump out of my skin when I see their pictures. They are the animals that I find most interesting when I visit the zoo. And while on a Safari, I keep my fingers crossed for a sighting. I am not intimidated by them provided they maintain their distance. 

People claim to have recurring dreams or nightmares. I do too. I dream a lot about Lions and Tigers. They do not attack. That could be quick and clean. Instead they stalk. The general pattern of these dreams is that there is a village or a town where these tigers or lions or sometimes both, are roaming around. I am trying to get somewhere while avoiding these predators who, by the way, seem to sense that I am trying to do just that. On my way, I take shelter in various houses and many times narrowly escape being spotted by the animals. Even though I have had these dreams a zillion times, I am yet to see one with a conclusion, either ways. But I always wake up feeling relieved that it was just a dream. 

When I recently had one of these dreams, I tried to make out the pattern behind this and discovered that whenever I am anxious about something, there are chances that I will dream of Lions and Tigers stalking me. Why would I dream of Lions and Tigers of all the things? There can be hundreds of other symbols that I am in touch with in real life that could symbolize 'anxiety'. For example, it could be my boss (Sorry Boss, if you are reading, I am just kidding ;-) ) or traffic police or anything else. Why my subconscious mind has chosen Lions and Tigers is beyond my comprehension. Probably even my subconscious wants to be politically correct all the time. :-)

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Post Office with a Difference!

On Saturday, I had to deal with India's Snail Mail System after ages. I do not remember when I last received a speed post. Yet I received one on the 27th and that too at my Indirapuram flat which is currently unoccupied. So it was only by chance that my friend went up to the house to show it to some potential buyers and he discovered a note stuck on the bolt.

The note stated that the Ghaziabad Post Office had received a Speed Post in my name and I would need to collect it from the Shipra Sun City Post Office the next day from 9:00 AM to 10:00AM. My friend went to the post office to collect the letter but the post office did not hand it over to him. They insisted that someone from the Malhotra family would need to collect it.

Everything about a Speed Post suggests that it is important. They are mostly used by government agencies as they are considered safer. And the term Speed Post also carries with itself the connotations of urgency.  And an urgent letter from the Government is not something to be taken lightly.

So I found myself on my way to Indirapuram on a Saturday Morning amidst heavy rains and a looming threat of traffic jams. I had braced myself for the infamous bureaucracy of Indian Government Offices and approached the person at the desk humbly. The time was 1:45 PM, which is dangerously within the limits of the famous lunch hour and much after the time mentioned on the note. I was surprised to find the entire staff at their desks busy with their work.

I enquired about my speed post. The person sitting there told me that the speed post can only be collected from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM everyday since that is the time when the post man from Ghaziabad post office is available at Shipra Sun City post office. He carries all speed posts with him.

I asked whether the speedpost can be collected on following Monday. At this, he seemed to consider the situation for a while and then gave me a mobile number of the postman "Mr. Kaushal". He also advised me to call Mr. Kaushal immediately.

I made the call. The voice at the other end was a typical U.P. voice with a typical U.P. accent. When I asked him about the speed post, Mr. Kaushal asked me the date on which the notification for the speedpost had been placed on my door. I told him that it was the 27th. He enlightened me with the information that undelivered speed posts are sent back within 4 days. I said that this was the 4th day as it was the 31st. He corrected me and told me that it is the 5th day since the counting begins from the day that the post is received in the post office.

I was crestfallen and lost all hopes of ever knowing what the post was all about. After all, I had driven for over a couple of hours in an unfriendly weather to get here. Hopelessly, I asked him what were the options for me now. He took pity on me and asked me to wait while he checked whether the post had been sent back yet. So I held on to the phone with my fingers crossed while he looked for the in-demand post.

After half-a-minute, which seemed more like half-an-hour, he confirmed my name and address and, to my utter disbelief, informed me that he still had the speed post. And, miraculously, he was distributing letters just a couple of blocks away and I could collect the post from him. Within the next five minutes, I had the elusive, almost-missed, speedpost in my hands. And all of this happened with a lot of smiles and pleasantaries.

Though good luck had a huge part to play in this chain of events, I was not expecting things to be so hassle-free. I had never heard of helpful government employees. And it was such a pleasant surprize to find them so willing to go out of their ways to help me. They did not have to do it. As per their process, I had already missed the chance to collect my speedpost. Probably, this was one of the encounters with the new India. Looking forward to more...