Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Foosball and misunderstandings

I had, earlier in the year, dragged Madhu to watch Resident Evil: Extinction, which I thought could not be worse than the previous two installments. I was wrong, and soon enough I found myself in the position of owing Madhu two movies of her choice. Which is rather scary when you know there is a Shah Rukh "I'm a Backstreet Boy" Khan movie lurking around the corner. Or the back street, so to speak.

So eventually, we found ourselves in the coffee shop at the movie hall, trying to fortify ourselves for the ordeal with lots and lots of caffeine. It is, in many circles, considered rude to speak with your mouth full, and therefore conversation flagged, and we gave our undivided attention to our coffees, except for Madhu, who was on the phone as usual, and Shrik "I don't have coffee at night: it ruins my sleep", who gazed into the distance, contemplating life, or perhaps his bed back at his place.

"Too much cricket in the media these days."

I looked up from my coffee to see Yoda folding her newspaper in disgust.

"It's the only sport India seems to support," she added.

"Yes, you don't see too much support for the Indian Foosball team," I remarked, with one of my subtle witticisms.

Yoda gave me a look.

"You don't see much support for the Indian any team!"

Shrik gave her a patient look, much like a father watching his toddler throw food.

"You don't see much support for any foosball team, Yoda, " he explained. Shrik is one of the few who gets my subtle witticisms, and vice versa. I have in the past explained to the others that great scientists and humourists like Wodehouse and Galileo, or the other way round, have been persecuted throughout their lives, but to little effect.

"Except maybe the Americans," Yoda stated, in a rare flash of insight.

"True," said Shrik, who had spent more time in the US than the rest of us, who hadn't spent any. "They probably have a few teams that compete with each other for a 'World Foosball Cup'."

We lapsed into silence, like a few trappist monks, except for Madhu, who was very un-trappist-monk-ishly talking nineteen to the dozen into her mobile.

At which point I remembered something of importance that I needed to tell Shrik.

"Hey, apparently Khushru heard your remark that we should be renting his place out for new year's eve, and said that we could just come over, no problems."

Shrik raised a puzzled eyebrow.

"I didn't say anything."

Yoda realized some clarifying was in order.

"I told him that Matto was the one who said it. And I told him that he should be renting his place out and earning a bit on the side!"

"So he confused the story and randomly added my name into it. Hm. Maybe he was tired", Shrik said, taking the philosophical view.

"He was not tired when I told him all this!"

"But maybe he was tired when he told me this last evening. You know, memory refuses to jog and all that..", I interjected.

"You mean, he told you that I told you all this yesterday? It was ages ago!"

"No, no, he told me all this yesterday." I explained. It's surprising how far one can stretch a little misunderstanding.

Yoda fell into a reverie, and we resumed the trappist monk routine.

Then she brightened.

"You know what, he must have confused the story and randomly added Shrik's name into it!"

Shrik and I exchanged glances, shaking our heads a little. Which is tough to do, actually. Requires some skilful neck-eye coordination.

"Maybe he was tired," I said, with another of my subtle witticisms. I have a lot of them, but like I said, hardly anyone notices.

"I'm tired," said Shrik, and left for home. The rest of us spent the next three hours flinching in the movie hall while Om Shanti Om tried desperately to entertain with self-parody. Which goes to show you... goes to show you something, I forget what, but you see it, don't you?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Paging buildings

I finally have broadband installed in my house, which means I can now be rude to my sis across the room (be rude across the room, not my sis across the room - I have only one sis, even if she's across the room) on google talk, and type witty repartees faster than she can speak to me (across the room).

So this evening, My sis, Madhu, and yours truly (that's three of us - Me, my sis, and Madhu, though my sis is also Madhu, but the aforementioned Madhu is not my sis Madhu) were sitting at our respective laptops and while I was immersed in the archives of Wookieepedia, which, incidentally, all you people should check out, the two Madhus were doing random stuff like checking mail. Suddenly Madhu (not my sis) broke the silence.

"Wow, look at this hi-fi building paging!"

I knew about some really nifty buildings from Japan, but they never paged each other, as far as I knew, so I sat up and took notice. But my sister was quicker, though her hearing wasn't as good.

"My building?"

Madhu raised her eyebrows. This information needed a keen line of questioning, she decided.


"Oh, did you say 'a building', or 'my building'?"

"My building?"

"Your building?"



I decided enough was enough. These silly girls were not even close to the nub of the issue. I intervened.

"How can buildings page each other?"

Both girls looked at me.

"She said Beijing. A cool building in Beijing."

"I said Beijing. A cool building in Beijing."

This was rich, I thought. Two girls giving me the frosty look, all because one of them can't pronounce Beijing properly, not to mention their own partial deafness. And "my" doesn't even rhyme with "your". And they completely missed the point about the paging. One must take a firm line with these things.

"Oh, ah," I retorted, pointedly.

And went back to Wookieepedia. Which, incidentally, you should check out.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Desmodromic valves

I don't know why I call this post 'Desmodromic Valves'. For one, I am not going to write about desmodromic valves. Okay, maybe a little, because today was the day I found out what these valves are all about. To be brief (since I've already promised that I wouldn't be writing about them), they are valves with positive return mechanisms that make sure that the valve in an internal combustion engine returns to its original place, instead of the sissy mechanisms that rely on things like springs to do the job for them. Today was also the day I realized another major thing about myself - I heartily approve of the desmodromic valve principle, which makes sure stuff happens, instead of leaving it to spring resilience or gravity or the government or mom.

Talking about mom, she incidentally was visiting recently and tried once again to educate me on the art of cooking, but would not let me reason why. This time, she was educating me on the right daal-chawal technique.

"So you add lots of water to the lentils, add turmeric, and chuck it in the pressure cooker. DO NOT add salt. Add salt only after it's all cooked."

Now we engineers know there are reasons for each process, and phrases like "company policy" and "the ten commandments" do not faze us. We have, in the course of our education and career, learnt to perfect the process of probing into the depths of established processes and laying bare the underlying reasons by asking direct, well-chosen questions that put the finger on the nub, so to speak. Which is what I proceeded to do.


"Because if you do, you'll never get those lentils cooked."

I raised an eyebrow.

"Hang on. The whole pressure cooker idea is to elevate the boiling point of water, right? Now adding salt to water does the same thing. So combining the two should actually cook the lentils better, right? Right? Ha!"

Mom turned to my sis, who for some reason was standing around with a grin on her face.

"This is why you should do the cooking."

This is why Galileo decided to stay out of the kitchen and proceeded to invent the telescope, and Gustav Mees vented his feelings by developing the Desmodromic valve. I can't invent stuff myself, but I can drink beer. And I think I will.

Friday, February 23, 2007


The last time I left my blog alone for this long, I got to the point where I found all my entries embarrassing, and after the one year it took me to figure out what my password was, I deleted the damn thing.

This time, I decided not to. No, not because I'm more shameless than I was four years ago - I more shameless than I used to be four years ago, but that's not it. It's not that I don't find the posts embarrassing. Nope, I do. Sometimes. But not as embarrassed as I should be had I been the director of "Ghost Rider", watching which Shrik and I laughed our heads off a few hours ago. And I haven't suddenly thought of anything earth-shattering to post, either. In fact, this post won't even rattle my own laptop screen, which finds itself mounted on a slightly loose hinge, and will have a natural frequency of about a tenth of the other laptops my colleagues have. I have not marinated in the bath, thinking about gold crowns, and therefore am not in a position to say "Eureka" like Shakespeare, or Archimedes, depending on whether you're a Bertie Wooster or a Reginald Jeeves fan.

The thing is, I have nothing better to do right now.

There. I've said it, and I hope it makes you feel better about yourself. Anyways, to fill in the gap since November, I still continue to have no life, my bike continues to be my significant other, my camera continues to be my mistress (I don't care what Freud thinks of my zoom lens), I continue to have accidents, meet weird people, have strange conversations with my weirder friends- often lubricated by alcohol - and when I find time from all this, try to pretend I'm working so I get paid at the end of the month so I can fill up my bike's tank and load film in my camera. In fact, nothing has changed, except that I'd become too lazy to write. I'd become too lazy to wash my clothes, too, but you don't have to wear your smelly blog to work.

Anyways, since I'm trying to revive this blog, I shall try to write about something. Now what shall I think of... hang on, I shall just ask Shrik.

Bad idea.

This is what just happened:

I leaned over to Shrik and jogged his brain a bit.

"What's the weirdest thing you can think of? Quick! One word!"

Blank look.

"One word?"

"All right, a phrase, then. Quick!"

Shrik looks at the wall for a while, and brightens.

"Martians hate pink."

See? Bad idea. But in the words of the immortal Adolf Hitler, "es muss gemacht werden", which, in a less ominous-sounding language, translates to "it has to be done".

Why would martians hate pink? According to Dr. John Gray, Ph.D, we would. From when we were babies, we were clothed in blue, and our sisters in pink. Unless you were brought up by a mom like mine, who, though she assures me that she did want a boy and all, still used to amuse herself by dressing me up in frocks and doing my hair into what she claimed was a ponytail, but what, from photographic evidence, looked suspiciously like a bonsai coconut tree. I was three. Ha ha, mom, you almost had me going there for a while. Twenty-five years, to be exact.

But we digress. Why do men, even the funny green ones from our neighbouring planet, hate pink? I'll tell you a secret - we don't. We love pink. We just don't like it on ourselves. There was this girl in college who used to wear these plain, pastel-coloured salwar-kameez in the lightest shades of pretty much all the colours, and she looked breathtakingly like a cool afternoon breeze. Now a cool afternoon breeze is not much if you're in Haridwar in December, but this was Trichy. In the summer. Not that cool afternoon breezes can be seen, but if they could, they would probably look like this girl. And pink looked lovely on her. My favourite was lime-green, though. See, there's another colour. I, for one, would not want to be seen dead in a lime-green salwar-kameez, but I don't hate it. The same as pink.

So there, Shrikman.