Monday, December 27, 2010

Logic Puzzle – Uncle Bob’s Life..

Before the puzzle: i have also created a really good (even if one says so oneself) quiz on random indian history. try it here.

And now, the Puzzle: (This one is not on Braingle) :-)

Uncle Bob had led a rich life. He had donned many hats in his 75 years and was reasonably proud of it too. On his 76th birthday, Nicole, his favorite granddaughter asked him to narrate all his professions, and what came when. His hands were quick, but not his memory. This is how his narrative went. Can you piece together the order for Nicole?

I retired as a ham radio operator, but started as a barber. Really, I did. I was only 15 at the time. In the 60 years that I have worked, on an average, every job lasted about 4 years.

I was a wine taster once, but that was after I had done some farming. I never did the same thing twice.

I was a chemist and then a doorman immediately after, but all that was before I turned explorer. The exploring was before the ushering and the innkeeping.

I was a prospector before I was a jailor, and an administrator before I was an innkeeper. The hunting profession was followed immediately by the exploring profession, and immediately after exploring I did Prospecting.

Would you believe that I was a hunter and a farmer? A gunman and a shepherd? A wine taster and an usher? All of it! Of course, I hunted before I farmed, and gunned before I herded. The wine tasting preceded the ushering though.

After that nasty jailor job, I went away to a quiet village and was a shepherd for a while. That was a very peaceful time, but it didn't last. As a shepherd, I often thought of how I'd like to be an innkeeper sometime. Of course, I didn't know it then, but that profession was a few years away in my destiny.

Guess what happened at the end of my innkeeping days? Why, I saved up some money, got a proper course done and was a Ham Radio Operator ! Fancy that, me, a proper Ham Radio Operator!

But like I said, I was a gunman once, though only a token one, you see, outside a hotel. It was after that, that I carried the gun to hunt. Now THAT was some use of the gun. I think it makes a difference, what you do. When I was a shepherd, and taking care of sheep, see, there was the urge to grow my own things, and I became a farmer right after. And when I was an administrator, it was easy to slip into the role of an innkeeper from there. It does make a difference, yes. You must remember that, my little ones – carry a token gun, and you become a hunter. Carry a little sheep, and you become a farmer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review of Agatha Christie's The Burden

This Xmas, i gifted self about 6 Agatha Christies. One of them is being reviewed. The Burden.

When a book's blurb says "The kind of writing perfectly at home in a women's magazine." You should understand that that is the most flattering thing the publisher could find about the work. AKA do not buy. Enough said.

Even if you are a die hard Agatha Christie fan, even if you love romance, it makes sense to avoid this book. For two simple reasons. It is not Agatha Christie. It is not romance. Thank God Agatha Christie gave up romance as a genre. And, avoid the book. Please.

Friday, December 24, 2010

More ways to go green

It started with my son asking me why i dont use notebook to practice his letters and drawing with him, and why we do it on a slate. Everyone else in class does it in a book ma.
That set me thinking. I use the slate because as children, we could not afford exercise notebooks. So all the rough work, all the drawing practice, and all the practice sums, revision answers, exam preparation answers etc. got done on the slate. We could just check if the answer is right, then rub it off and do the next answer.
Imagine the sheer amount of paper that gets saved!

I think its a good idea to pass around to other people who might be looking for ways to go green and use less paper. I am thinking of putting a slate on the fridge for my to do lists too. Right now, we use the back sides of bills that we get.. but they arent always available .. so maybe this is a better option. What do you think?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baidu, Tencent and India

Khushwant Singh once remarked to a Pakistani friend " The difference between you and us is that you import your cars and build mosques. We build our own cars. " That was a very important statement. Its about Sovereignty. We had our own heavy indsutry. We had our own education institutions, even our own space reasearch program that was boo-ed by the naysayers, but doggedly pushed. (One of things for which I love Nehru)

And then, the currency of the game changed. In addition to physical assets, digital supremacy became key currency. While we were demolishing mosques and trying to create temples, while we were tomtomming our fat packet google and yahoo salaries, what was China doing? It was creating Baidu, Tencent, and other internet giants - basic stuff that ensured that it did not come to depend on anything external. Who has the best techies in the world? Arguably, we do. And who has the ONLY known competition in the world to Google? China Does.

Who sends software engineers to the West like a staple export? We do. And who has the courage to take on MS and Yahoo in their own domain - English, French et al? Tencent, from China.

Who has the most coding experience in the world? We do. And who has an instant messaging company that pips Apple in growth rankings? China does.

When we are done discussing the application devleopment growth numbers and the fat salaries, when we are done with honor killings, Barkha Dutt's arrogance and the color of Saif Ali Khan's shirt, maybe it will be time for that long forgotten concept - nation building with a long term vision.

Guess who will win the supremacy race in the long run? We will. Because we have it in us. :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Review: Absolute Khushwant

Like I've maintained earlier, a book has to be exceptionally good or bad for yours truly to review it. Not because I m hoity toity, but because I am not a good book reviewer. Films, yes. Books, no.

Absolute Khushwant can be summed up in one word - Unputdownable. After how long has one read a book that is not a murder mystery by Agatha Christie and can be called unputdownable? Ummm....really, really long.

The man is straight from the gut, the conversational style (and the large size print) make for a breezy yet extremely engaging read. Engaging, because he forces you to think.. to almost talk back with him. The style is so conversational that you are tempted to jump in with "But you are obviously biased Khushwant. Remember when..." then you realise he is not there. Just the paper.

To make it brief, lets talk about what works and does not work for the book.
1. The very conversational style.
2. The honest writing.
3. Fresh perspective on a lot of things.
4. His absolute insistence on secularism and his correct identification of lack of tolerance being our cancer.

What doesnt work
1. A lot of opinions are not entirely based on facts, though he would like to have us believe that they are. But they are his opinions and we respect his right to have them.

In the end, I have only one complaint. The title of the book should have been Absolut Khushwant. Equally intoxicating - the book, and the man who peers through the pages of the book. 5 stars and a double Thums Up to this book.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jab We All Met

Today was a very special day for moi. Today, we had a small gathering of the very close blog friends that we have made over the years. Mampi, nm, and ihm.

Each one of these women is very, very special. Because we know each other from the blog, we know each other first, from the inside, and then socially. Some of them dont blog so much any more, but we have to thank the blogsworld for bringing us together.

Today, sitting there, listening to conversation.. one felt.. comfortable... like in the company of old friends.. and that is what makes it very, very special. Small blessings.

Unfortunately, we were so busy having a good time, that we took no pics at all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


When did it become ok, fashionable even, to hate? When did tolerance and co-existence become "weakness"? When did pride in one's culture, faith, or language start being based on hatred for another faith, culture or language?

For a people just 3 generations away from one of the biggest recorded massacres in history(The partition of India, in case you forgot.), aren't we incredibly snug about hatred and violence?

Unfortunately, i have no answers. I do not understand this culture. Or this thought process. Or the need to hate to feel secure. When did it stop being about personal excellence, and start being about the rat race, through and through?? I feel like i was standing by the river, and everyone else took the fast lane on the road. I feel left behind, alone, but not lonely. I see the achievers and the haters and the smugness, and feel no envy at all. Just wondering.. when did all this happen?

Quote from Calvin: Nothing changes from day to day. One day, you wake up, and realise that nothing is as it used to be.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Where are the girls??

Today, i went to deposit fees in Ishaan's school. The session will only start in April, but the fees is due now. This was post school hours and it was a pleasure to see children playing all around - in the corridor, in the field, where 2 soccer games were in session, and on another side, general pushing and shoving games.. all in good fun. And then, just as i reached the building, it struck. Where are the girls? Why are no girls playing in the fields? No badminton, no basketball, no soccer (i m a sucker for Girls soccer) , no tennis.. nothing! not one girl?
I paid the fees and on my way out, stopped by at the reception and asked "Where are the girls? Why is there not a single girl out there playing? Of any age at all?" The answer was rather non commital - they are probably in the classroom or in the library or wherever they want to be. This is not the sports period. So every child does what they want to do at this time.

Well..... not ONE girl interested in playing? Thats REALLY dissapointing. What is going on here?
Is it the peer pressure? The jeers from the boys? What is it about sports that keeps girls away in a well to do(even if i say so myself) public school in a well to do neighborhood? Even girls in slums do physical play. What is going on here?

What happens around you? Do girls do active physical sports? I think its CRUCIAL for girls to be athletic and active in sports. it gives physical confidence like nothing else does. And it doesnt even have to be formal sports - just physical playing - running, climbing trees, racing, jumping contests, gymnastics.. anything at all.. where are the girls??