April 22, 2009

The Heavenly Spammer (or The 'Belief' Scandal)

As usual, I opened my mailbox first thing in the morning, and amidst the pile of e-mails, found one from a close friend with whom I had not communicated for quite some time. Eagerly I opened it, and found a forwarded mail. Most of us would have received such a mail at some point or the other, a mail that carries the picture of a god or a goddess, or some sloka (religious chant), the forwarding of which mail if you failed to do, would bring you untold misery. Or great luck if you did.

Well, I would agree I am not that much of a sucker for the idea of God and such things in the way many others are (I am not an atheist too, for that matter :) ), and also hate the principle that good thngs and bad things in our life can be influenced by such scandalaous bull***t like forwarding a "good luck" mail or not doing it. But many times in the past I have succumbed to the blackmail found in those letters, and forwarded them to my close friends and relatives. Like, if you don't forward it to 15 or 20 people (depending on the 'mood' of that particular deity) within a stipulated time, you would land into trouble big time. Au contraire, if you did, then all the riches of this world would be showered upon you within a short time.

Well, I fell for this scandal, yes I did indeed call this a scandal, and used to forward it sincerely to many people. But see the fallacy in this principle. Such mails force you to send it to atleast 15 or 20 people, and most of us either flood our entire address book, or forward it to the same select set of people. And the theory of probability says that there is more than a fair chance that at least 1 out of these 20 people would surely have us in their own select set!!! So the cycle goes on and on and on....

And I did indeed, like a fool, wish for some good luck before forwarding such mails, as demanded by such 'deities', for fear of losing something that I cherished. And lo behold! True to my guess, nothing of that sort ever happened. In fact, quite a few times, I got 'bad luck' the moment I forwarded such mails. Ah..there I caught you, I told myself.

So what is this scandal all about? Should I just trash such mails, unafraid of the deity in question? Na, we always have this sense of bhakthi (devotion) ingrained into us since childhood, which prevents you from trashing such mails. So I used to forward such mails dutifully. And after making a wish!!!

That is, till recently. Why this Gnyanodhaya (enlightenment) suddenly? Probably I became a quasi-rationalist in the recent past. By that I mean that I started questioning my own belief systems and values. Including God and the like. For the moment, I am still "in the fold", and am a border-line believer. But I am not sure that I will stay so for long. No, I may not become an "atheist", since I believe that the opposite of a "God-Believer" is NOT an "atheist".

I jut felt that I should stop using God as an excuse to do good to others, and also to stop blaming God for all my ill-luck. If I wanted to do good to others, I would rather go ahead and do it, wthout attributing it to any higher authority - anything higher than my conscience. After all, did Abraham Lincoln not say,
If I do good, I feel good. If I do bad, I feel bad. And that's my religion... ?

And, forwarding such 'belief' mails would not bring me any good luck. But what if it brought me bad luck for not forwarding it? Simple logic, my dear Watson!!! If God were such a hypocrite that (s)he would punish me for not doing such a triviality like forwarding bulk mails, then I would rather call her (him) the Heavenly Spammer. And no use in believing in such deity anyway :)

More about my beliefs and such stuff later...

For now, I have to get on with my work of deleting, or rather trashing, more such junk mails. Amen!!!

April 02, 2009

UPDATE: Re-location etc.

OK. To those who wished me on my re-location and my "contesting" the elections, a big Thank You. But no, thanks!!!

Well, no, I did not for a moment expect that any one at all would be taken in by my prank on All Fool's Day. After all, tell me who falls for such things nowadays. No, not at all. Moreover, as is the custom in any April Fool's prank, I made it a point to provide indicators, like opting for an A-S-S for my election symbol. The timing of my "announcement" was another (just before midnight April 1st ).

And so was I stupefied, to find that quite a few people had indeed fallen for it. When I say quite a few, I mean about 30-35 people!!! And that is nearly 25% of those to whom I "announced" my decision to re-locate and contest the elections!!!

I do not know if I sounded really convincing, but as they say, if you really believe in something, you can also make others believe in you. It is akin to the usual spy mysteries, where a spy is trained to believe and assume the life of the character he/she is impersonating, so as to be convincing.

Yes, I see myself as some one who can flirt around with politics (Bhuvan -> Trouble -> Politics -- now you see the connection;) ). May be not tomorrow, but some time in the future I wish to take a plunge in politics, not that it will really happen, just that I want to.

May be that belief in myself made my prank sound all the more convincing...who knows!!!

With that note, I thank all those who wished me the best. And yeah, sorry for having made an election symbol (ass) out of you for April Fool's Day.


March 31, 2009

Re-locating and Contesting Elections

Well, finally am there. After a maniacal 8-year period in Germany, I have decided to re-locate to India. And the timing is not, by the way, coincidental.

I would be contesting as an independent candidate in the on-coming parliamentary elections (Lok Sabha) 2009 as an Independent Candidate from Chennai Central. I am planning to request as my election symbol Mr.A-S-S (no vulgarity intended, I am meaning the animal Donkey itself).

Well, the Democrats in USA have the Ass as their symbol. Politicians in India have been making an ass out of us people for so long. So I thought that symbolically and logically, I must have the ass as a symbol (STOP!!! Do not ask me whose ass...THAT would be vulgarity!!!)

Am not sure if I would be allotted the symbol, but have already got enough signatures to back me up for approval as a candidate.

It is a small step now, but am sure it will be a bigger stride for the future, for a better India. So ladies and gentlemen, any one who can vote for me, please do so. And those who can't, please send in your support and wishes.

As always yours with Cheers :)
Bhavishya Neta (Future Leader),

October 29, 2008

Homoeo'podi' (TBE # 1)

Well, I would not exactly include this incident under the topic "The Bhuvan Effect / TBE"), as it is not exactly an event where something that could not go wrong went wrong nonetheless. I have included it in the topic, as it was one of those events which reflect my "adventures" over the past 7+ years in Germany.

This occurred a few years back, probably sometime in 2002. A neighbour of mine from Vellore, India was travelling to USA, via Frankfurt. I had asked my mother to send me some 'podi's (spice powders) through him. What I did not know was that since his transit time was not more than 4 hours (or something like that), he was not entitled to a transit visa wherein he might leave the boarding area at Frankfurt airport, and I naturally could not enter the departure lounge as I did not have a boarding pass. Well, I went to the airport, was refused any access to this guy, and was disappointed. I was then directed to the Chief Duty Officer of the Frankfurt Int'l Airport, who said that only an emergency would entitle us to meet.

Naturally, I asked him what I should do to create an emergency. She was perplexed, and told me that an emergency usually "happened" and could not be "created". Hmm, but that gave me an idea. I told her that this friend was actually bringing some medicines for me. "What sort of medicines do you need that can not be obtained here in Germany?", she asked me. "Hmm, well, er, Homoeopathy medicines", I retorted. "Germany is the home of homoeopathy. Tell me the nature of the medicine, and I will decide if or not to let you get them from him." Oops, there I was caught. But not so fast...

I told her that I could explain her better if I actually had the stuff with me, instead of describing my illness that needed the medicines. Good, she ordered an airport officer to get into the plane and get the medicines from this friend. The "medicines" were brought to customs, where a small group of officers had gathered wondering at the various "podi's" that my mother had sent me. They suspected it was probably some kind of drugs. Allmächdna!!!

I was in a quandary, and had a good deal of explanation to do. "Where are your medicines?". "Yes, where are my medicines?" "And what are these powders?" Well, this is what i told them. "Oh my God, you have got the wrong powders. These are indeed not the medicines I was looking for. They are spice powders. This, for example is coriander powder. This one here is pulse powder (paruppu podi). To make this, you do this, bla bla bla...". But then hey, where are my medicines? The idiot forgot my medicines.

I guess the explanation was either too convincing, or too confusing. More probably the latter. It has always been my principle - "If you can't convinve them, confuse them". The customs official just said: Get lost!!! And did I have a message for my friend, which they could give him on the plane? Why, of course, yes!!! On a piece of paper, I wrote in English: "You idiot, where are my medicines? Am pissed off!!!" Immediately below that, I wrote in Tamil: "Hey, thanx. I got 'em".

Well, looking back at that incident now, I feel that I was taking too much risk for nothing. But then, that is the thrill in it. In my life, I have always done things just for the thrill of it, overlooking the underlying risks. And have suffered the consequences a few times, too.

But then tell me, what is Bhuvan if not the risk and thrill factor? No risk, no Bhuvan. No thrill, no Bhuvan effect!!! Carpe diem.

October 21, 2008

The Bhuvan Effect

Most probably you would already have heard of Murphy's law. In short it says: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Like the buttered side of a bread always falling face down when you drop it.

Well, my experiences here in Germany (so-called Ger'Mania', eponymous with this blog) have led some people here to formulate what is known as the "Bhuvan Effect". It is simply a corollary to Murphy's law. Put in simple terms, Bhuvan Effect states that: "Even if some thing can never ever go wrong, it still will." More clearly, if there are 'n' number of possible outcomes to an event, and none of them can go wrong, then there will surely be an 'n+1'th outcome that never existed before, which will simply turn out just when the event occurs.

No, I am not bluffing. Believe me, it has really occurred, and not just once. Even I found it hard to believe, but quite a few events in the past have led me to believe in the possibility of the existence of such an effect. And it is about these events that I will be blogging about on these pages in the coming time.

So, watch out for it - "The Bhuvan Effect". Cheers !!!

October 15, 2008

Im Herzen der Scheisse

I have always wanted to document my adventures in Deutschland by way of a book. Something on the lines of "A year in the Merde" (Stephen Clarke), giving it an equally atrocious name. Thought of quite a few titles, like "Eine Ewigkeit in der Scheisse" (a blatant and near-perfect copy of the title), "Sick of home", "Boo-1", etc., but decided against all these, as I did not feel any of these to reflect what I wanted to put in the book. Moreover, everytime I have sit down to write something, I have balked at it, as I always comfortably find a stumbling block (hehehe, some call it "laziness").

So it is really a surprise that I have now decided to get my hands dirty by starting to put some words on to paper. I have already started collecting points (yes, points !!!) for the book, like a list of events (read: adventures) to write about. Hope my dear friends and fellow conspirators would pitch in with their own reminscences and correct me and update me when and where I go wrong or forgetful. Once I have started writing, I can always think of a good title for the "book"...

Let me see if I really manage to get the show on the road!!! Cheers :)

August 29, 2008

Back from hibernation

OK..the pause has really been too long, more than 2 1/2 years. There are quite a few reasons for me for having discontinued with my blogging, the foremost being the mother of all causes - laziness. In technical terms, a body in inertia needs a high starting force (or torque) to start it and set it in motion. Well, put "laziness" instead of inertia, and "kick on the butt" for starting force/torque, and there you have it - the recipe for getting out of literary coma.

What caused this inertia? And what was the proverbial kick on the B? The fact I was looking for a job that time back in 2006, and the consequential dis-attention I gave to writing, was one. And the raison d'etre behind my attempt to revitalize the blog? Was feeling really dissed and de-motivated about me, my life and pretty much lots of things around me.

Well, I guess that keeping up a blog, and the motivation to keep it alive, is good enough a way to spend time meaningfully and gear myself up for greater things. Let me see if I maintain it, or much like many other things I am known to do, leave it stranded in its nascent stages again.

There has to be a start somewhere, somehow, and here it is. (Thank you Al Bundy) Let's rock!!!

January 12, 2006

Nothing More, Nothing Less (Obituary)

It was September, 2001. I had been in Germany for just a few days, having come from India for the Masters course in Electrical Engineering at Fachhochschule Darmstadt (FH Darmstadt in short, or University of Applied Sciences, Darmstadt). It was the introductory meeting of our course, where the professors were being introduced to us. That was the first time I saw him. His pleasing manner had won over everyone. At the end of the meeting, I wanted to choose him for my mentor. As I approached him, there was a small crowd of my classmates around him. When I asked him if I could have him as my mentor, he smiled and responded, "Why not? But I believe every professor is allowed just 3 wards." Well, I believe that the number 15 is greater than 3!!! And I was outside the closed interval [1,3]!!! An energetic, ever-smiling and pleasing personality, Prof. Horst Friedrich Roeder exuded the mirth of a man who knew not what it was to be stern. At least in appearance. None of us ever saw him angry. Or displeased. He always had a smile, and his carefree and relaxed manner was contagious. It stuck to every one of his students. Not just as a person, but also as a teacher.

And oh, I forgot to mention that he also taught us some subjects. Certain facets of a person's life are so over-bearing, that sometimes we forget that the other facets even existed. Like how wonderful a teacher Prof. Roeder was. He taught us Communication Principles, Advanced Modulation Principles and Information Networks (Parts I and II), in addition to leading some projects in Technical Management and also System Design modules. I would rather say he 'introduced' us to the subjects, instead of saying he 'taught' them. And he 'introduced' them not in the sense of showing us something new, but like you are introduced to a beautiful girl (if you are a guy) or to a cool guy (if you are of the fairer sex) at a party, whence you develop an interest in her / him, leading up to a relationship. It was a sort of romantic interest that he induced in us for the subjects he taught us, for here was a man for whom no teaching material was worth more than a few pages, no derivation to an equation was worth more than a few easy steps, and no solution to a complex problem was worth more than a few minutes of your valuable thought and time. To use his own words, every thing is just simple, "nothing more, nothing less". We used to imitate his mannerism of using this phrase quite often. So often that we started believing that not only the course, but everything else, was cool and simple. Nothing more, nothing less.

So much he believed in the beauty of learning that he told us that education was more than just getting good grades in our exams. "If good grades are all you want, I will give them provided you show me you have learnt something." How many teachers have we seen who would say that you do not need to solve a problem in the examination to its end to obtain full marks for it? Like Prof. Roeder told us regarding solving a Viterbi Decoding problem. "You need not get the final solution. If I can just get a hint that you have understood it, which you can prove by proceeding in the right way to solve it in its first few stages, then you will get full points for it, without having even completed the solution." Or how often does a Professor start explaining to you how to solve a problem, right when an examination is in progress? Like he did during our first semester. I still vividly remember him handing us over the actual questions for his exams in advance. "If passing in exams makes you happy, then let it be so. Exams mean nothing with regard to your learning process."

I worked under him twice. The first was during our semester break in February 2002, when almost every one in the class worked for him in the 2-MN project, creating MS PowerPoint presentations for an e-learning system ELAT. Many students continued it as their Technical Management project in the second semester, whence they not only got excellent grades for it but also were paid handsomely for it. I opted out of it, because I could never accept money for something that was mandatory as part of my course. I would either get grades for it, or money. Not both. Some time during that semester, one of his sons died in a motorcycle accident. That shook him terribly. But any one who saw him at that time, or afterwards, would not have believed that he was a man in mourning. He was serene and calmer than his usual self, I agree, but definitely not visibly shaken. At least that is how we students saw him. Including me, who worked under him a second time the following year. It was when one of my friends recommended me to him for another module of the same ELAT project. She had been doing the video presentation part of it, and I had to do the audio part. I was to provide audio background for the PowerPoint presentations of his teaching material. Not only did I just record my voice, but also I corrected and improved many of the slides. He was impressed. "Wonderful! Excellent!" Now, this was his standard remark to any student for anything. Do what you will. You could expect him to shower you lavishly with praise, which normally consisted of these phrases. And more. But this time I knew it was not just words by rote. He really appreciated my effort in not just stopping with my work, but also in going the extra mile to make it perfect. And boy, did I love it!!!

And then one day I stopped working on the project. Not that I did not like it, but I had to concentrate on my Thesis. But I made the mistake of not communicating it to Prof. Roeder. I had made lots of audio slides, which I did not submit to him. At the beginning I thought I would give him those slides in a few weeks’ time. Then I felt sheepish how I could contact him after this break. Let me finish the entire module and submit to him. I did finish the module, but never submitted it to him, as I was trying to find words to tell him why I did not even communicate with him. Not that he would have needed any explanation from me, being the person he was. But I felt I owed him one. I did not know what I was waiting for. Probably for my degree certificate, which I got 3 weeks back. I felt the time was ripe to meet him to inform him about the completion of my course and also to submit whatever I had done. But he was unavailable. He was also unavailable when I had been at the FH to invite some professors for the Diwali Function we had organized at Darmstadt towards the end of October last year. I managed to invite a few professors, but Prof. Roeder was the conspicuous absentee, as I could not reach him.

Well, I never bothered to ask at the department where I could reach him. For a person like him who always made himself available to us all in spite of his tight schedule, I felt it queer that I had to ask some one else for his availability. That was simply not the way Prof. Roeder operated. And then last Sunday I happened to overhear two students speaking about some announcement that was due soon. I caught some phrases that made me curious. When I asked them if it was anything that would interest me, they just shrugged, and said: "Well, we don't know if it might interest you or not. May be you know Prof. Roeder. The guy from the Communication department at the Fachhochschule. He died of cancer last week."

We always thought he had a simple solution to every problem. Probably he did not have an answer to this one. This was one time when Prof. Roeder could not answer with a poignant "Ja" - to the question of life. Nature, with time, is the best leveller. Not without reason, do they say, "Nature is the best teacher." And then, of course, there was Prof. Roeder. Rest in Peace, dear Professor.

November 15, 2005


n. pl. in·ter·reg·nums or in·ter·reg·na (-n)
  1. The interval of time between the end of a sovereign's reign and the accession of a successor.
  2. A period of temporary suspension of the usual functions of government or control.
  3. A gap in continuity.
What is happening? Am I lazy? Or have I simply run out of steam? If anything is sure, it is that I have definitely not run out of ideas to write a few words on this blog. Well, I do not mean just typing what I feel, because even though this is supposed to be a personal blog, I understood long back it had transcended that barrier and become public property. Meaning, I have an unspoken responsibility towards the readers of this blog, and take care not to just spew trash in the name of a blog. That would be simply unfair of me, irrespective of what every one else says or does.

So does that mean I write a rigmarole everytime my fingers kiss the keyboard? Write only of cerebral or esoteric stuff? Nay, that is not why I started writing this blog for. I wanted to put in words my experiences here in Germany, so that I can re-live them, and also let the readers relish them. And I do have wonderful experiences every day. Though I would love to blog every one of those, I think it is not worthwhile, as such an exercise will only tone down the intensity of my blogs about other more pen-worthy experiences.

So, I have decided to do this. Make it a point to write atleast a post a week, probably more, but at the same time keep them worthy of being read by every one. This means I have to exercise my 'grey cells' at least once a week, so that I am always blog-ready. It is also good way to keep my brain active, what with my lazy lifestyle at the moment - having finished my course and just applying for jobs, and doing some part-time jobs, and of course, having fun. It is time that I start using other areas of my brain (Ooooh...enough said...get on with something else da...)

There are some 'events' that I wanted to write about very badly, but simply could not do it so far. I would write about them in the coming days. Some of them may be deemed unpalatable to some people - I mean the way I saw them and see even now. But it is imperative that I write what I feel, because if I do not defend myself, no one else will.

And then, there was this piece that my classmate Ms. Pallavi Rao sent me. She wanted me to post a blog on this piece - an extract from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. Now, how many times have we seen his name cropping up out of nowhere, and every time there is a gasp, with people finding it quite unfathomable why on earth would onle like to disturb his ghost? Well, in this piece Mr. Hitler refers to India (the British colony of India, that is), and Pallavi wanted that I post my views on this. Well, I would not post a literary criticism on it, but just express my views on how relevant the issues expressed thereof are to the present-day country that is India. But I need some time to read it and do a write-up. Patience.

The following events deserve mention, and a few lines of blogspace here:

1. The Diwali function(s) at Darmstadt that I took an active part in organizing.
2. My adventures in the guise of having fun - my late-nighters at discos, my cyciling trip to Mainz and other such adventures.
3. My views on the piece about India in the extract from Mein Kampf, recommended to me by my friend Pallavi Rao.
4. My forthcoming proposed trip to Austria.

With this teaser, I sign off for the moment. But keep looking in this space in the coming days. Es lohnt sich (It is worth it). The interregnum is coming to an end.

October 19, 2005

'U' and 'I'

Aeons came and aeons went past,
But I always felt something missing,
So cruel that time slips by fast,
Too hazy for me to realize a thing.

Was it love or just something cheap,
I can but only stare and wonder,
'Tween me and ye lay a chasm so deep,
Me stranded here and you over yonder.

Was it trust or belief shatter'd,
That caused us to part our ways?
But what use it is, all that matter'd
Was the truth, we haven't met for days.

I do know dear what's missing,
I saw across aeons the vowels queue,
They had in them almost everything,
Except may be dear, just 'I' and 'U'.

Note: 'Aeon'
- alternate spelling for 'eon', meaning 'age'.

September 13, 2005

For whom...

Well, my Thesis is finally over..and with it ends one of the longest sagas in the history of Darmstadt...hahaha...I don't know how easy it is for others to have a Schadenfreude of their own selves and actions, but for me it is all the same. I am only relieved that it is all done and dusted..good or bad, it is over.

So many trials and tribulations..it was a case of
trial and terror (the 't' is not a typo) for me all through this time, losing friends at a time when I needed them badly, and it was a strange sense of de ja vu every time when, as they say, another bird flew off the nest. Reasons were given, but none asked, of why it took so long for it to finish, or why I took so long to finish it (both do not necessarily mean the same). But except the fewest of the few, no one was there to cheer the end of the Thesis, save me. And that was all that mattered. I am still there, as proud and sanguine as ever, with the past behind me..I would love to write more, but at a later date.

For now, I would just present the poem that I wrote in the
Dedication section of my Thesis report. It reflects my state of mind during my Thesis, and how I felt about finishing it, and to whom and why it was dedicated. Many may not agree with me, and most will just brush me off as another sick weasel that has forgotten its destination, but I care less...for the moment, all that matters is..I have finished my Thesis. Do you hear me? I-have-finished-my-Thesis.

I am a wary, way-laid traveller...
Left with nothing but my spirit.
But a spirit which refuses to flicker,
For ages it has but not been lit.

Do I deserve to go ahead,
After all that's transpired,
Or should I just stop dead,
For sure I'm no more inspired.

I can't see any one on the wait,
Who will hold me in their arms,
When I've got the better of my fate,
One who can conjure up those charms.

And then I hear some one say,
Hey wait, you do have some one,
May be they are light years away,
For them, let this work be done.

They may not know your pain,
But they know who you are,
The phoenix that time and again,
Rises to give destiny a scare.

“To them I dedicate this work...

To my parents...”

September 05, 2005

Gabel und Messer

I had known all along that my German was not bad. But today (Sunday- Sept. 4), while working at my coffee shop, I found that it was not just 'not bad', but also good enough to compose a poem (hehehe...). I was having a pizza, and was fiddling around with a knife and fork. It was then that this brainwave hit me.

"Warum brauche ich Gabel und Messer,
Wann mit Hand geht es besser..."
(Translation: "Why do I need a knife and fork, when with my hand it would do better...")

Watch out folks, who knows may be another Goethe is in the making!!!