Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol







When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.



   
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My Past
Loyola High School Patna
Delhi Public School RK Puram
Institute of Technology BHU
Infosys Technologies Ltd
IIM Kozhikode

My Present
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

My Future
My Life


Project Nanhi Kali for the girl child


Movie Reviews at Mode C

Kaminey
Gulaal
DevD
Guru
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Omkara
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Batman Begins
Viruddh
Anniyan
Dus
Sarkar
War of the Worlds
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Bunty aur Babli
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Kaal
Shabd
Raincoat
Swades
Musafir
Naach
Veer Zaara
Phir Milenge
Kyun! Ho Gaya Na
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Spider Man 2
Lakshya
Yuva
Main Hoon Na


Book Reviews at Mode C

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
The Inscrutable Americans
Harry Potter - Half-Blood Prince
The Monk who sold his Ferrari
Angels and Demons
Life of Pi
The Da Vinci Code
The Tristan Betrayal


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All pictures and names concerning Calvin and Hobbes are copyright Bill Watterson


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Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Too much for a lifetime

I hope that I am not taking up things that are beyond my capacity to handle them. It has been five straight days since I watched a movie and for me, this is quite a lot. The initial days (it has been more than a week, actually) of the guitar lessons are turning out to be quite a task, what with the notes, the cycle of C, the fingers and the chords. At the same time, the French classes scheduled for the weekend are already giving me jitters as I am not sure how much of what was taught last week will I be able to recollect and retain when the time comes for the next lesson. On top of everything else, of course, is the reason why I came to Kolkata, which is, despite what anybody else might think, my summer internship ;-). With the new phase of the project having started and the new team working with seemingly unstoppable enthu, things do not seem to be following a straight line anymore.

The alumni freshers' meet for IIMK in Kolkata is due this month. When Vaibhaw from the Alumni Committee had asked me to take care of it, I had said yes without giving it a thought as I was in a hurry to do a lot of things...pack my stuff, submit assignments, take home end-term papers and what not. Now that I have started making the arrangements and actually calling up people, I have realized that it might turn out to be more than I had bargained for. There are hardly any alumni in Kolkata and even all the freshers are not going to be here in May. As for our batch, there are just two people...Sandipan and me, waiting for Rohit who was supposed to be here this week but has not contacted any of us so far.

I guess that this much of cribbing is enough for the day so shall move on to some thing different...not too different though. I am still in the Dan Brown mode and after finishing a higly engrossing "Angels and Demons" (and giving myself a small break...just enough to re-vitalize my taste buds), I started off with "Digital Fortress". Recommended by a lot of people as delicious fare for the computer-savvy, I had great expectations from the book. To say the truth, it did fulfill most of them. There were a number of references to viruses, worms, 64 bit encryptions, cryptography and powerhouse parallel processing. And more than that, there was the typical Dan Brown thrill-a-minute caper that made the story that more interesting.

However, the book did not excite me enough to finish it off in one sitting, as had been the case with the earlier two. One primary reason for it can be that I may have got used to the tricks of the trade. The character building of the villain of the piece has become too much of a common trait to be a coincidence now. Brown seems to have this habit of building up the qualities of the character who turns out to be the villain in the latter half of the book. And not just this...you can also find the villain to be not a villain actually...just a person who does what he/she believes to be right and in the process, crosses the line somewhere. These people, as Dan Brown shows them, are not inherently bad, but have been forced to do things by the situation and their convictions which often make them prone to be mentally disturbed, too.

Digital Fortress is the story of NSA (National Security Agency for those who haven't read much of Ludlum) and its high profile code breaking Cryptography division which is held to ransom by an ex-employee via the threat of having developed an unbreakable code, a code with mutation strings that can not be out-guessed even by the fastest of parallel computing that NSA is capable of unleashing. Unfortunately for the reader, the suspense is too thin to be of any sustainable interest and not just the villain, but even the fate of the unbreakable code and the climax of the story are quite predictable...certainly a little timid when you compare it to the twist-a-page nature of his other two books. Anyways, the next in line is Deception Point by the author...if things go as peacefully (sic!) as they are going right now, I just might be able to finish it in this lifetime. :-)


Posted at 11:33 am by Nitai

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Monday, May 09, 2005
Oui, c'est Louis!

What a full weekend it has been! I know that this blog mentions just how even most of my earlier weekends in Kolkata have been full, but this one takes the pride of place amongst all. Having ditched Sandipan for the last few times (that is what he says), this weekend was reserved for a rendez-vous at his place. At work, the project had come to the end of the first phase and I was expecting to be taken off it and put into another at any time. The HR Head had called for a meeting at 4:30 in the evening but it never happened and so it was at 6 that I left with the entire batch of trainees for an evening of fun that we had been promising each other for quite some time. The idea was to go to some hangout, have a drink or two with some snacks and then head for some movie.

A good idea or so it seemed till we reached Opium, the hangout selected for...well, hanging out. The place did not appeal to the refined tastes of many but after some cribbing, owing mainly to the fact that most of the others were not willing to travel all the way to the city to go to Someplace Else or one of the better do's, we made peace with Opium. After a few drinks and some food, we decided to call it quits and while some of the people left for their homes, I, Sandipan, and the two IIMC guys, Aditya and Sivaram, decided to move on to Someplace Else for some good music and some good crowd. The ambience was great, as it was when I had been there the last time, and by the time we reached Sandipan's home at about 11 in the night, I was satisfied with some good music still ringing in my ears, dead tired, and my stomach was filled right up to the brim.

The amazingly affectionate hospitality and the delicious dinner that Sandipan's mother had put out for us, however, turned out to be my undoing and...I hogged. I kept hogging for the rest of the weekend and had it not been for the few outings that we had and the few chances of walking and sweating the calories off that I got, I would surely have gained a couple of kilos on this weekend trip to Sandipan's home...not that I am reasonably sure that I haven't gained those couple, either.

The first of these outings that I talked about was to the Alliance Francaise for the third of the weekend classes in the month-and-a-half elementary course in French. We had already missed the first two classes because of joining one weekend late but the enthusiasm of the teacher (Mr. Amitav Ghosh, who quite resembles Prof Broaca, back at IIMK, in his teaching style and enthu) and the help that we got from some of our batch mates (especially Sweta, who is an ICFAI Hyderabad passout working in Kolkata, and who loaned us her notes of the first two classes for getting them photo copied) compensated for whatever trouble that we did have in the first hour of the first class.

French is understandably, one of the more popular languages in the world, what with its musical feel and the romantic appeal of all things assoicated with France. In fact, I have still not been able to recover from the extremely melodious way in which the French pronounce the phrase "Oui, c'est Louis!" (don't ask me why this phrase of all...my subconscious just picked it up amongst others). BTW, the way it goes is something like this...oooiii, say Loooiii :-). And so it was that by the Sunday class, we were quite sure of our foot hold and quite in sync with the rest of the batch (especially Sandipan, who even took a lead over others, partially due to his starting advantage of having learnt a bit of Italian earlier, which is helping him at quite a few occasions in this course, as well).

Once we were out of the class, we had some other concerns. Tanu, Sandipan's girl friend and Pallavi, my cousin had both agreed to come for the night's party at Fusion, one of the better known Kolkata discs. Pallavi is going to join Wipro at Bangalore as a Business Analyst and she was going to be in town for the weekend. When she heard about the party at the disc, she wanted to go and get a feel of the Kolkata discs after having been through the razmatazz of the Goa night life (she passed out of GIM this year). I had to ditch my own friend I had already asked for the party and had quite a row over the thing with her and we are still not talking :-( but that is perfectly okay...after all, I might not be meeting Pallavi again for quite some time and family takes precedence for me...any day.

The concern that I had been talking about was only this...that I had to go and pick Pallavi up from her Bua's place in Golf Green where she was staying. Having not known the folks and not having met them ever, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable about the entire thing...as if I were a rogue come to ask my own cousin out for a late night party. I perfectly understood Pallavi's Fufaji's hesistation in letting Pallavi go without ensuring that there was someone escorting her to the disc and all the way back to home but as I said, it just did not gel with me. I was really glad, however, to have met Gudia didi, Pallavi's cousin, at the place...though she was busy with getting her kid ready to go home with her and we hardly spoke and though we had met for the first time...I still felt that somehow she seemed to be aware of my discomfort and silently telling me that it was okay. I relaxed and all thanks to didi for that.

The party, however turned out to be a dud. With Jassi-turned-Jessica-but-actually-Mona-Singh scheduled to make her appearance at the disc, the place was choc-a-bloc with some faces and chartacters that you will never expect in a night club. For the very first time in our lives, we saw kids in a night club...and not just kids, but fully grown Papajis and Auntyjis, too...and to top it all, some salwar and sari clad behenjis and some kurta clad bhaiyyas, as well. They had all come to watch their girl-next-door-turned-glam-doll Jassi-Jessica and until she arrived at about 11:15, the party was at a stand still...well almost...but for the last three quarters of an hour when they played some real music and all the six of us (including Sandipan's friend 'chai' and his girl friend) had a good time shaking our legs. By the way, I realized that it does feel a little awkward to be dancing with your cousin in a night club and neither of us could really dance with as much abandon as we could have, had the company been of friends. Strange but still true!

Much before the DJ took over and the dance started, the disc managers had been thrusting upon us, their idea of entertainment. It consisted of three skimpily (but smartly) clad Chinki girls (they called themselves Filipino...they might have been, too...who knows) trying to make a mess of some good songs by trying to shake to the music and sing at the same time...all the while, making sure that their stilletos did not slip on the polished dance floor. Mona Singh's arrival (and she does look stunning, BTW) put an end to all fun that had started post the torture with the DJ taking a hold over the proceedings. We had to make a beeline for the exit at about 11:30 (10:30 being the time that I had promised Pallavi's Bua we will be back home by).

With "Chai" doing the Michael Schumacher (and a drunk Schumacher at that), we reached Golf Green in good time and it was at midnight that we stood outside Pallavi's Bua place, expecting the worst. It did not come immediately...not in my presence at least, might have come the next day for Pallavi...am not too sure. We did hear some rapidly spoken Bangla from Sandipan's mom though, but since I could not make head or tail of it and anyways, since it was not meant for me, I just sat down to another dose of royal pampering and another lavish dinner to fill an already filled stomach.

Sunday's French class took a little longer and though there was quite a lot that was covered and despite the pace being scorching, I enjoyed the session. However, I did not enjoy the following session that we had with Sandipan's friend, Soochna (nice name, isn't it?) at Camac Street. Heavily made up and full of words, my prejudice started working as soon as I saw her. The telephone call from my sister, Priya, having put my mind in the dark mode, I was a silent spectator to the lively and intelligent (my prejudice turns out to be unreasonable, too...at times) discussion between Sandipan, Soochna and Sivaram (yes, all three names starting with 'S' and as for Sivaram, the fellow trainee from IIMC, we met him roaming around the Camac Street, absolutely out of the blue).

We finally managed to make it an early night and Sandipan's mother...was she relieved! After two more meals (another couple and I would be bursting out of my widest pair of jeans), I bid good byes to Sandipan's folks and the excellent stay that I had at his place over the weekend. The odd one out (not having carried my formal office wear, I was still in my casuals) in the company bus, I was relieved at not having to hide beneath the last seat. I must have been looking like a pig, in worn jeans, not really spick and span tee, and with a stubble that had been growing for the last five days. I skipped out of the bus as soon as it reached office and instead of moving in with the rest of the people, made a rush to my PG.

A clean shaven, fresh smelling, nicely dressed me came to office to realize that I had not been put into another project. However, the second phase of my project is going to start now. Along with two others, I shall be given access to the new ERP system that the UK office is currently following. With the Indian system already charted out, my job now consists of trying to understand the UK system and prepare reports relating to the gap analysis between the two systems and regarding the things that the Indian system might put in its wish list for the adoption of the UK system to be profitable.

Another realization since the morning has been that after Friday's bout of not-strictly-related-to-project activities of the trainees observed by some senior people in the company, the mid term review has been called for. We are all scheduled to present a status report of all that we have done so far and a plan of action for all that we are going to do over the coming month...and all this action happens live...right here in Kolkata...at the 16th of May, which incidentally is exactly a week away...one whole week?? We will be able to make a dozen status reports in this much time :-)


Posted at 04:08 pm by Nitai

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Friday, May 06, 2005
Godspeed!

I had to wait for one entire day before I was finally called upon to make the presentation and it did turn out to be pretty low key, not at all what I had expected. Probably, the decision had already been taken and the presentation was of academic interest  only, as they say of the last cricket one-day in a series that has already been won and lost. The proposal to adopt the UK system, it seems, had already been rejected and the UK guy might have been trying to salvage his position by studying my presentation and trying to draw parallels between their system and ours. At 6:30 PM, when I finally gave my presentation, it was not too detailed and of the 50 odd slides that I had prepared, I was asked to cover only the selected few that had created some doubts in the mind of the intended audience of the presentation. From my end, I would say good riddance if this project dies out here and I am sent on to another by the start of next week or better still, by the time office ends today. I have decided to meet my Project Manager today..let's see what he has to say.

While I was waiting for the presentation, I decided to make some good use of time and got on with the e-book version of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Widely publicised as the prequel to The Da Vinci Code (actually, the stories have no relation apart from Christianity, of course and the books are just part of the same series with the symbologist, Robert Langdon as the common protagonist), the book scores over its more famous cousin in terms of thrills but as far as the symbology (which really made The Da Vinci Code so popular) is concerned, this book is certainly a poor, and yet somehow fitting, cousin.

Based on the eternal conflict between religion and science, the book tries to trace history in the backdrop of the current times. Right from the times of Copernicus and Galileo to the modern times of the nuclear bomb (and even more serious, harmful , and as the beginning of the book says, factual technology called the antimatter), science and religion have been at loggerheads. The analogies drawn right through the book are impressive. I particularly liked the part where one of the staunch church believers admonishes science for its reluctance in accepting a greater power in things that it has not been able to explain. He says, regarding the beginning of the universe, that scientists are ready to believe a mathematical near-impossibility of perfect conditions for the genesis of creation but are not able to see a bigger hand in the creation of those conditions. Well said, I believe....given the Time Zero's non-explicability in the Big Bang theory.

Religion supporters go on to argue that science is taking the soul away from the human race by making the entire lot cynics and unable to appreciate the finer things in life, unable to submit to a bigger power. Surprisingly, little has been said about the point of view of science. In a pretty lop-sided story for most of the part (except the end, perhaps), science is shown to be the villain of the piece and the brothers of Illuminati (another sect that factually exists) shown as the Satanic cult that is all set to destroy the church. With illustrious members like Galileo, the Illuminati (the enlightened ones) are shown to have infiltrated the Masons of the current times (with the Masons having some more illustrious members as Winston Churchill, Roosevelt, and even George Bush) and thus, preparing the world for the tomorrow that shall accept Science as the new God and the only God capable of miracles.

As for the chills and thrills, apart from arranging four churches at four ends of the cross, with an obelisk each as company, the story does little else. However, this is sufficient to keep the viewer glued to the book (or the computer screen in my case). The imminent destruction of Vatican City can be stopped only by a symbologist from Harvard and a scientist from Europe, an unlikely team that, as expected, does the unlikely and in the end, all is fine...well, except for a final twist, which I shall abstain from disclosing (for people who still haven't read the book and want to).

The guitar lessons are becoming more difficult now and it does need a lot of patience to keep tugging at the strings as if there is no tomorrow when I can see my instructor play Floyd and Maiden with such ease. The finger tips have had quite some wear and tear and they should be thankful for the two day break that I shall have this weekend. I am likely to go to Sandipan's place for the weekend and will be back to the PG only on Sunday. Tomorrow also marks the beginning of my weekend French classes at the Alliance Francaise...after all, I need to be able to communciate to the French supermodels once I am in Paris, what say! :-)


Posted at 11:13 am by Nitai

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005
A long day at work

I have done it and I have done it right and proper this time. I was in office till 10 PM (yes, you read that right, it is PM) last night and no, I was not doing "something else"...I had been working. With the meetings, which were supposed to give me the final inputs for my presentations, delayed, I had no option but to wait for the post lunch session to get the data. Post lunch turned out to be quite post lunch and it was only by 5 that I had all relevant information with me.

Since the person from PwC UK is going to come today and in all probability, the presentation might happen today or tomorrow, it was imperative that I finish the presentation yesterday. With about a dozen slides to go and some heavy duty graphics and animation pending, I had a tough time and had to stretch myself to finish off the thing by 10 (after all, I couldn't have afforded any delays beyond this time...the PG shuts its doors at 10:30). Luckily, I was able to give a satisfactory final touch at just about time to get me a fast (really fast) auto to Karunamoyee (I just can't write it the way it is pronounced...it will test all my spelling skills).

As is evident, I missed my guitar lessons, missed my movie, and more than these, missed the book that I have been reading for the last few days. Yes Prime Minister is an excellent sequel to Yes Minister and although I am reading it for the nth time, it never fails to amuse me. Subtle humor, sarcastic at times, dry at others, even goofy at some...always keeps the reader clinging to his/her stomach.

I tried calling some of my friends yesterday but unfortunately, could not contact even a single one of them. Either they were all (all the four of them) switched off or not answering...don't know why it happens all the more when I really want to talk. I was all tired and actually weary after the day's work when I dialled these people to get a booster but alas!


Posted at 10:40 am by Nitai

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Snobbish bloggers and customer relations

I did not have much to write today but got into writing because of a peculiar incident that happened right now. I had been going through some random blogs during my free time for the last few days and came across some really interesting ones in the process. I kept myself to reading the blog posts and not commenting anything on any post probably because these people were so very unknown to me. Yesterday however, I broke my rule and actually went ahead and commented on one of the blogs. I really liked the way the author used an in-your-face (or no-nonsense, as that author says) style in the blog posts and commented about the feasibility of using the same in real life.

All is well till this part but things came to a head this morning when I came to office and just checked the blog to see if there was any answer to my comment. Lo and behold! I find that my comment has been removed and in addition to the answer to my comment, there is another comment by the author which mentions how the author does not like the blog to be used as a publicity vehicle and if I want, I can re-post my comment without the unnecessary links. For a moment, I failed to understand what link was the author talking about and then it came to me that it was my blog link that I had left on the comment to let the author know who I am and where I am from. For God's sake, publicity for my blog is the last thing that I would want, especially after the problems that I have faced because of this so-called publicity.

Of all the snobbish and self-obsessed acts, this one takes the cake. I was so pissed off that I immediately fired a rather mild but yet inconsistent-with-my-ways comment on the blog. Though I did follow it up with a peace message as soon as I cooled off a little, but I must say that this episode has taught me some things. First of all, that you should not meddle into affairs that you know nothing of...next, that you can be misunderstood on the slightest of pretexts...more over, that there are people who have a way of thinking that is so different from your own and between such people and you, there just can not be any semblance of reason...and finally, that it does not matter a damn, each one to his/her own.

I went to the ICICI Bank yesterday and got my internet banking user-id from them. They do have a better system now and when my call got transferred to the specialized officer, the good part was that the specialized officer already knew about my problem and I did not have to go over it yet again. However, the bank staff remain as apathetic to the concept of customer service and relations as they used to be. Just because the bank has been more successful than the others because of being the first mover, they should not be complacent and let the Citis and the HSBCs get away with the booty through some good customer relation skills.

There were quite a few steps taken to improve the customer service in the past at ICICI Bank, with feedback forms asking for the way the customer was greeted and so on. I just hope that the spirit continues to exist and the letter is carried out in action. I know that I am sounding as if I am being grand-motherly towards the ICICI Bank but being their customer for the last three years, I have seen so many changes and I wish the bank well.

I had some meetings yesterday and today at work promises to be some more of those and a bit on the presentation side, too. I think that I will be too busy to read any more blogs today and that should be good for me.


Posted at 11:19 am by Nitai

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