Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Booze and Brains
No this is not a post about any new obscure survey propounding the beneficial effects of booze on your grey cells. This is the name given to a weekly quiz conducted by a pub called NightWatchman out here in Bangalore. They claim that they have been holding this for the past 6-7 years on a regular basis on Thursdays. One of my roommates made me aware of it and we decided to pay a visit and check it out. We ordered a pitcher of draught beer and nestled down comfortably. It started around 9.30 pm, the ambience was similar to any of the other innumerable pubs of bangalore, dull lighting, dense seating arrangements, decent but not too loud music, and jazzy shirts for the waiters( here it was a combo of pink and orange).

The QM was a guy called Mark Rego , looked like an Anglo-Indian, this community has done quite a lot for quizzing in India, starting from Neil O Brien to "The Rack-your-Brain"( inspite of my not so high opinion, Derek is one of the most popular QMs around) . Rego seemed competent, had a good voice, and decent quizzing acumen. One can find out the quizzing knowledge of a QM by finding out his comments on some of the wrong answers, whether he gives some insights on them or acknowledges their relevance/irrelevance . Here for example there was a question "Which brand's mascot is known as the proud lady", we guessed "Rolls Royce" , the actual answer was "The lady in Columbia Pictures", then after seeing the answers he said that the lady in RR is called the "Spirit Of Ecstasy". Which I knew, but still went for it, due to lack of a better guess.
Coming back to the quiz, the way it worked was.
  • All tables are given numbers ( max 4 people in a table) , if you have a group more than four you have to play separately.
  • Tables are given about 30 cards to write their answers.
  • The QM asks questions one at a time, after he is done , you write the answer in your card ,along with the table num and pass it to a person who comes to collect.
  • This doesn't go on continuously, after each question there is a gap in which the music is played, or better put whenever the song stops a Q is asked.
  • The QM has a sheet in which he marks the points for teams after each question, he also announces after every 5-6 ques what are the scores for the teams.
  • A rough back of the hand calculation that I did was that for 30 Q to progress in this way it will take 30*5 = 150 min (5 min per song). Also the rhythm or josh wasn't there, because the wait was to long. but thankfully he had a couple of "rapid-fires", in which he passed a paper, and then asked 5 questions in a row, and collected it pronto.
  • total questions asked were around 30 odd, most were for 1 point one or two were worth 2/3.
  • In one rapid fire there were two choices given, with negative marking. Even passing entailed negatives, so one had to compulsorily answer.

Prizes: All team scoring 25 or above get one pitcher free . The winning teams table bill is waived. Plus vouchers are given for jeans, bunge jumping etc.

Unfortunately we missed out narrowly, we had scored 25 points, but due to negative marking we slipped up to 22. The last bonus question he asked was for 5 points, "Who is the father of donald duck". i thought i knew it, and racked my brains hard, but guess the combined effect of 3-4 glasses of beer and the blaring music rendered my efffort fruitless.

BTW the answer was "Quackmore".

Some other questions were.

Who are known as the Hibakushas (Japanese atom bomb survivors)

The Swiss Guards protect whom? (Pope)

Whose cricketer's autobiography is "By God's Decree"? (Kapil Dev)

Who owns Garfield ? (John Arbuckle)

If Batman is Bruce Wayne , then what is Robin's real name ? (Dick Grayson)

Which soccer player's jersey has been retired by Napoli ? (Maradona)

Overall it was an entertaining experience. Now you know where I will be this thursday evening :) .

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"The Road Ahead"
Have got to know more about the anatomy of Bangalore or more precisely the circulation system of Bangalore. I usually have a keen eye on the different roads, landmarks of any new place I visit, I try to map it in my mind, and then sometimes challenge myself to think of a way of going from point X to Y and to predict where a particular road will lead to without actually going on it. I get to validate it, when I get a chance to go along that road, or ask some friend who has lived there for long, or an auto/taxi driver. I try to put in the missing links of my road info jigsaw. This is not only an interesting pastime, but it can save you a lot of money and time, especially if you are travelling in the weird third-world contraption called the auto-rickshaw, with the drivers trying to take you for a ride literally by taking you through a longer route sometimes.

Not to malign the auto-drivers, in general the Blore drivers are good (but not in the driving sense), you can trust them to not to trick you, unlike the Delhi ones who are the worst of the lot. Pune/Mumbai ones are also okay.Bloreans lament about the state of traffic especially the driving behavior, saying it is worse than other places. but believe me it is much better than Calcutta or Lucknow, and even Pune. Discipline is more in Bangalore inspite of heavy traffic. Among all Indian cities I feel Bombay is best regarding traffic sense and order.

Some other observations about Bangalore.
  • Offices/Markets spread out all over the city. So no central congestion point, unlike Calcutta and Bombay.
  • Lot of choices of buses, quite efficient and cheap public transport. Major drawback is that all route info is in Kannada. One has to memorize the route numbers to identify the buses.
  • Best footpaths in the country, they are wide, smooth, tree-lined. So one can walk unhindered even in the busiest of intersections and roads.
  • Glut of autos. The drivers lament about their exponential growth. In economics it is akin to the "Tragedy of the Commons" theory, where a profitable common resource is over-exploited so that finally it turns out to be economically unviable for all. Though not perfectly applicable here because supply-demand will finally stabilize, but not before economic hardships for lot of these drivers.
  • Large military presence in the center of the city, similar to Pune, Calcutta. They occupy acres of prime land. Positive aspects are that over-commercialization and crowding is avoided, open spaces and green cover exist which acts as the lungs of the city. Some drawbacks are that it has stretched the city unnecessarily and some of the wasted or partially-used defence spaces could be put to better purpose, like parking lots, roads, some public utility establishment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Wishlist from Sachin
Was watching Sachin in the match today and suddenly I came up with a wishlist.

Some records I would like sachin to end with

  • 20000 runs in ODI and tests. 50000 in all
  • 50- hundreds (in tests as well as ODIs)
  • 100-fifties in both forms
  • 10 double centuries
  • 200 ODI wickets
  • 100 test wickets
  • 200 catches in ODIs and 100 in tests
  • Play 500 ODIs and 200 tests

His current stats before today's match (12th Apr 05)


Mat Runs 100 50 W Ct Avg

345 13509 37 69 137 103 44.43


Mat Runs 100 50 W Ct Avg

123 10134 34 41 37 77 57.25

What a performer! Legend.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Train Of Thoughts in a Plane.
Recently while flying down from Lucknow to Bangalore I had this bizarre sequence of recollections. I was sipping an apple juice and cursorily glanced at the pack, the place of manufacture intrigued me. It was Rangreth in Kashmir. It set me off to the period 1987-89, when my Dad was posted in Srinagar, we were in a place called the Old Airfield, it was about 10 km from the town. On the way to my school which was in the BadamiBagh cantonment, on the other side of the city; my school bus rather truck used to pass this same village Rangreth which was about 3-4 km from our house, though I don’t remember any other landmark but surprisingly Rangreth is still fresh. It was situated on a hillock, had lot of Sikh families living. Our bus used to drop off a few kids there, one was a classmate of my sister, she had a strange name “Sunil Kaur Love”. In addition to Ms Love there was another Sikh boy don’t remember the name, but I just recollect one conversation that I had with him, it was regarding Bhindranwale. He was a big fan of him, and told me about his bravery and the lavish life that Bhindranwale used to have, he slept on a golden bed apparently. This boy was also convinced that he was still alive and that Khalistan will be a reality, surpisingly he was even younger than me; I was 11. The irony of this conversation was that we used to discuss this inside an army truck.
From this guy my attention switched to another Sikh friend of mine Rajbir Singh, he was my classmate. A very efficient and well-mannered boy, also he was taller and stronger than me, I used to admire him a lot. I sometimes used to go over to his house to play. One day at his house when he was putting on his shoes, I saw that he put in an arch shaped pad inside first, when I asked him, he said that he was flat-footed and it was to get his feet into shape, also flatfoots can’t be recruited in the Army, which was our dream at that time. At that moment I felt good about myself I thought I am better off than him, my inferiority complex was reduced suddenly by this trivial flat-foot incident.
After this my thoughts drifted over to football and hockey that we used to play in the army colony in Srinagar. That was the only time I played hockey in my life, it is a difficult game. We used to have matches against the Air-force colony and used to defeat them without fail.

What is strange about these incidents was that just from the name on the pack of the fruit juice I recollected so many memories of my childhood which I thought I had surely forgotten.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bangalore II
Visited the two popular roads of Bangalore, the Brigade and MG road, (my office is only 2-3 kms away from them). Lot of glitter,crowd, neon lights etc. MG road has an airy Barista having a nice ambience. Also watched the movie “Be Cool” in a theater in MG.
Travelled quite a lot, went to Electronic City in Hosur, all the IT bigwigs have a pretty impressive infrastructure out there. Journey one-way took almost an hour from the Race Course road due to the congested roads. The traffic in the city is quite overwhelming, during the rush hour it crawls, and it is quite frustrating having to wait for long durations at the traffic signals. Only saving grace is that the temperature is moderate and generally a pleasant breeze blows, which soothes the nerves a bit, otherwise an oppressive climate like Chennai or Calcutta can exacerbate the situation. As in the case of Pune most of the older residents (anyone with more than 4 years in Bangalore) lament about the current state of affairs and long for the good old days. As far as I am concerned I sympathize with them, but generally such cribbing and despondency with the state of affairs doesn’t serve any purpose. We can just hope that the situation will improve, atleast someone in authority will take stock, it is a complex thing and out of our control. We can just live on and look at the brighter side of things. Sounds quite trite but guess this is the way I tend to look at these things. No point taking the burden of the whole world on you.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


In the mecca of the Indian IT industry. The cliched Silicon valley of India, the knowledge capital, and for knowing that I need not move around the city or read the Yellow pages or newspapers, but just ask a few of my college classmates from where they are earning their daily grub from. The seven classmates that I met in the last 24 hours, work for CISCO, Intel,Lucent,Texas Instruments, HP apart from the ubiquitous Infosys and WIPRO.
A few do work for non-IT company, especially one friend who works for AC Neilsen, I latched on to him for hours, trying to get the real world perspective on market reaserch, having done a few of market research projects in IIML. Whether stuff like Facotrial, Discriminant,Cluster et al are actually used, how do they find out ad campaign effectivenees, how do they design questionnaires, to the ultimate, that is does massaging of data takes place?

City is nice and green,especially here in Indiranagar which is Rahul Dravid's locality. Went to a Barista here, they have autographed mugs by him.
From tomorrow my summer training starts in HP. Looking forward to working in corporate life again after 1 year.