Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai Terror...My Views

India has become a pyrotechnic playground for terrorists...probably their conversation would look like:
Terrorist1: Let's play Diwali this November
Terrorist2: Sure, that's a good idea. Where shall we play?
Terrorist1: Which one do you like? Delhi or Mumbai?
Terrorist2: I prefer Mumbai...you?
Terrorist1: I like it too...what shall we play this Diwali with?
Terroist2: I'm bored of AK47s, let's use some MT6, RDX and some grenades my uncle has prepared.
Terrorist1: That's a great idea. Done deal!

Fun apart, India, in recent days, has indeed become a preferred target for terrorists from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and well within India. ULFA screw the east, LTTE trouble the south, LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and many more torment the north and west, and finally the newbie Deccan Mujahideen probably takes care of rest of India. And for name sake we're 7th largest nation on this planet and to scare others, we posses WMD.

Sometimes I feel that we've elected a pussy government...I mean seriously. For a moment, imagine Israel in place of India and had they been attacked just the way it happened in Mumbai...they would have split their army into two - one to rescue the hostages and deal with the situation , second would have, with all their blood, sweat and tears, made sure that Karachi would be in ashes. I sort of like their first strike, then think attitude...probably that's the reason they're still going strong surrounded all around by their enemy nations.

In our case, we seldom strike...all we do is "analysis". All the intelligent, old bureaucratic uncles would analyse the situation so lethargically that the terrorists would be planning their next Diwali. Terrorists have realized this fact so well that they don't have to contemplate too much these days...just decide place and time and weapons to use. The fact states that the ship that injected terrorists into Mumbai started from Pakistan and India is still pondering if the whole act had any Pakistani footprints! All these years, the act of terrorism was an obscure one...with mostly explosive incarnations. But our "do-nothing" attitude has made them quit their behind-the-curtain way and now they've started firing in open. I just saw this on BBC website: "PM Singh came close to threatening retaliation against Pakistan" but I guess, Pakistan more staunchly believes "PM Singh is not at all serious in retaliating".

And I'm surprised by the amount of international limelight the whole drama has got. American news channels broadcasted live coverage, in place of ThanksGiving talkshows. And I was surprised by this statement of this news reader "If it's found that there was a Pakistani footprint in the whole operation, we've to see (I was expecting something like 'how India handles the situation') how president Barack Obama would handle these two nuclear powers"!!!!!!!
I always wonder why Big Daddy would want to take political advantages of every small opportunities it gets? Probably it would want to rule India just like it's ruling Afghanistan, Iraq? And what more? Mumbai has oil too!!!
My serious suggestion to Obama: Get your people to pay back their debts and solve your economic turmoil instead.

And these English cricketers...the great pseudo-moralists on this planet, who chickened out to continue the one-day series. I mean why? You guys are from the same country from which General Dyer, "The Butcher of Amritsar" hailed from! And why history, a couple of terrorists in this very incident, were very much from your country, see this.

My deep condolence for the affected people and for their families. I pray that God gives you more strength to endure everything. And I also wish a life more safe and secure. Hats off to all those brave commandos and police who, without giving a damn to their lives, rescued the hostages and shot down the terrorists. I just hope India wakes-up before it's too late.

National Wildlife Federation - Winners of 2008 Photo Contest

Yet another contest results announced few days back, in which I had participated. Unfortunately I couldn't make it to National Wildlife Federation (http://nwf.org) Photo Contest 2008. Here are my contest entries and below is the link for the Winners Gallery. Hearty Congratulations for the winners and better luck for those who couldn't make it next time.

National Geographic Photo Contest - Winners 2008

Finally the much awaited results of NatGeo Photo Contest 2008 are out and here are the winners:

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO CONTEST - WINNERS 2008

I was amazed at simplicity and brilliance of each of the entries. Congrats to all the winners and honorable mentions. For those (like me) who didn't make it, better luck next time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Recession changes

Recession of recent days has brought over lots of behavioural changes in the office life.

People no more log in to their yahoos and gmails as their mundane startup tasks...instead, it's their office mails which are meticulously checked for subjects like "Organizational announcements", "Company re-org", or "CEO's address to employees". A sigh of relief immediately follows in case of no such mails.

Movie discussions, weekend party plans, steal deal shopping are all passé topics to rant over. Hot topics, now, include senior VP's dismissal, first list of employees to be laid off, cost cutting methods, loss of business and the likes.

Employees voluntarily quitting will be unfortunately branded as the pinkslipped ones.

Earlier, one-on-ones meant appraisals, promotions or salary letters...but one-on-one meetings are now the most hair-raising, spine-chilling, blood-curdling, nerve-racking ones that could ever happen.

People on-bench (resource pool, people not part of any project) were once upon a time, feed to the new projects, but the concept of resource pool itself is extinct. People on-bench are no more on-bench...they're no more in the company.

VPs, Directors and Business heads...who, until now would have enjoyed their hard-to-count 6 digit salaries, lavish business class trips, chilled beers in Hilton hotel pools...will either have to start something on their own or prepare for a 'slightly' earlier retirement.

All of a sudden people have started ramping up their programming skills, domain knowledge, logical reasoning and what not...as though the other companies are any better.

There is a lot of bluster about people returning to their villages and taking up agriculture, taking charge of their fathers' businesses, girls getting married to non-IT guys and photographers like me trying to realize their dreams.

Hmm...we're keeping out fingers crossed...lemme see if I'm gonna continue as a boring, geeky software engineer or a talented pro photographer in the near future.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

10 Driving Tips for Foreginers Driving in Mexico

  1. Don't carry weapons, drugs and opened alcohol bottles.
  2. Always carry cash, around 100-500 pesos in order to bribe the cops, if need be. Read this one: Cops and Karmas. Sometimes cops can be ridiculously unreasonable, like this hilarious incident.
  3. Carry your debit card for emergency purpose. Credit cards are as worthless as plastic.
  4. Carry all the documents to prove your identity and permit - passport, visa or FM3.
  5. Carry all the documents concerning the vehicle - registration card, insurance etc.
  6. Knowing Spanish would make your life much easier, else atleast have a contact in your mobile phone who could converse with the cops, in case you're stopped.
  7. If you're driving in cities like Mexico city, don't forget to do your prayers, for nobody gives a damn to lanes.
  8. Toll highways (marked cuota) are faster, safer and insured. But they're very expensive, probably Mexico is the most expensive country when it comes to toll fees. Free highways usually pass through villages and are bound to be much slower.
  9. Speed indicators on highways are never followed, I've seen cars zooming upto 200+ kmph. Be on the rightmost lane if you're planning to obey the speed limits.
  10. The distances marked on milestones are not all that precise. Read my another article: Unordered Milestones for more information. So expect about 5-10 km deviation from the marked ones.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Camping in Cuatro Ciénegas

Cuatro Ciénegas (read Quatro-cinegas) translates to "Four Marshes" that this place contain amidst the desert. It's located in the center of Coahuila state, which is about three hours drive from Monterrey.














We started at about 11, we didn't know that there was a road direct to Monclova from north of Monterrey, we went all the way till Saltillo and deviated to Monclova....what dumbasses!!! We could have saved 70Kms and about an hour. We reached Cuatro Ciénegas by 3:30, with a couple of stops for gas and snacks. At Cuatro Ciénegas village, we were told that the four marshes for which we came for was closed for public for some unknown reasons. But the other attractions like Río Mezquite and Dunas de Yesu were open.














We saw a board directing off-road with "Río Mezquite" written on it, I steered the car without much thinking. We drove for about a kilometer or two, before we approached the entrance gate. There were two señors at the gate lost in reveries, disturbed by our arrival. They showed us the pictures of what that place was all about and collected 90 pesos per person as entrance fee and allowed us inside. We were delighted to see the river like kids when they see candy. Without further delay, I parked the car, changed to my swimming costume, swilled a big gulp of beer and 1...2...3....I was in the air for a second before my body came in contact with warm but pristine waters of Río Mezquite.




















The river was one of the cleanest I had seen, crystal clear waters with rich marine life. Rest of the gang followed with beers and chips in hand. It was warmer inside the water than outside due to chill breeze, we swam for about an hour and came out of water to do some clickings at sundown. There are numerous open huts containing a dining table, barbecue grill and trashcan. It was time to make fire, the obscurity of twilight was spreading rapidly. Tequila was mixed, music started, charcoal was smoking out and in no the grill was heated. Chicken legs and breasts were skewered and roasted while tequila inflow was consistently maintained. Tortillas rolled with chicken bbq, topped with chopped onion and tomates tasted delicious in that ambience.














Post dinner, we got more firewood (it was not exactly firewood, some sort of long and light twigs which burned quickly) from the neighbouring huts and the bonfire illuminated our hut and it's surroundings in the middle of dead desert. Tequila, fire and dancing kept us maintain our warmth in that chilly night. I had never seen such a black inky night sky in recent days, the Milky Way lay like diamond-dust upon the robe of some great king, with adornment of twinkling stars. The lambent fire burnt for 3 long hours, after which we decided to take a stroll in peace of the darkness. It was indeed very pleasing to walk in the dead of the night, away from the civilization, guided by stars. We hit the tents after a long stroll.


We all were wide awake before the sunrise. It was cold, colder than the previous night. The rising sun had washed the mountain tips on the west pleasingly ruddy..we were waiting with cameras to see him. He finally made his entry on the east with crimson red face painting an orange-yellow tint all over the place. The waters were all sparkling upon his arrival, I kept aside the camera, stripped and dived into the river which made me warmer than being outside. We had apples, bananas and juice for breakfast, packed our tents and started our return journey.























































Wholehearted thanks to Lokesh (Canon Rebel XTi), Liyan (Canon SD1100IS) and Mallesh (Canon SD1100IS) for lending me their cameras for shooting.











































































































Technorati Tags:, , , , , , , ,