Googlewhackblatt

March 10, 2016

Found a Googlewhackblatt! 

Sharovements

The word was originally written by Mahanth Gowda in error and I tried to search it on Google! Here is the result.

Googlewhackblatt.png

Evasion

May 11, 2009

Disclaimer

All characters mentioned here are my imagination. Any coincidences if detected, must only be thought of as added for dramatic effect.

Prologue

Motorcycles have very good stability and balance, but the rider must be careful. Sometimes, the city administration creates hurdles for bikers that are hard for them to dodge. Then, stability does not help. A bad pot hole in the middle of the road caused this rider to apply breaks much too fast and with too much pressure. The bike skid and the rider lost his balance. The RTO prescribes a leg-guard for all motorbikes and that saved this rider’s life. Everything would have been forgotten, but for the car behind him. The car driver saw what happened and reacted exactly like the bike rider and put the car off the road, only to hit the footpath.

Most people feel they are safe on the road; some others use the footpath. Everything would have been forgotten but for this person walking on the footpath.

Chapter 1

Dr. Prachi Gokhale had been the first to take in the patient at the Civil Hospital’s Emergency and Accident room. An I-card in the wallet had revealed the name of the patient to be Prakash Verma. On admission his condition appeared critical. He was treated for the bleeding wounds and then sent for an X-Ray of the broken leg. Prakash was unconscious and remained so for the rest of the night while his blood samples were checked for blood group just in case a transfusion would become necessary.

Dr. Prachi visited her patients at seven in the morning and was pleased to see Prakash awake. “Good Morning, Doctor!”, Prakash exclaimed as he saw her approaching his bed. “You look much better now, and are wide awake. You met with an accident yestreday evening and were brought in here by the person who crashed his car into your leg. You were knocked out for almost the whole night and have been undergoing some standard tests for checking your vitals and your fractured leg. You are on painkillers and hence are feeling reduced pain, but your leg needs attention and so do some of your stitches.” Prachi was reading out aloud partly from memory and partly from the patients chart alongside the bed.

The couple of constables sitting on the stool nearby heard the conversation and came by the side of the patient. “We need your statement on the incidents of last night.” said one of the constables while the other took out a notebook and a pen. Prakash was not very enthusiastic about all this, but did a good job receiting what all he remembered. In fact, he had only just seen the motorcycle accident when he himself was hit. Prakash’s statement only proved that the motorcyclist was telling the truth. The police were satisfied and left Prakash alone.

“When may I go home?” Prakash asked the nurse for the third time in the morning and he always got the same answer. The nurse had said that he was not yet ready to go and must at least wait for his doctor’s next visit. Dr. Prachi visited him again in the afternoon and showed him the X-Ray of his broken leg. “I am fine, I do not need a plaster!” Prakash had resisted while he was been wheeled into the orthopaedics’s clinic.

Chapter 2

Prachi was irritated by this man’s insolence. This man had a broken leg, and was refusing free treatment without any explanation whatsoever. He tried to walk out of his wheel chair only to realise that he was not good to walk and fell down. Thankfully for Prachi, Prakash had then taken the rest of the process calmly. The doctor asked Prakash to come back after 3 weeks for checkup and then would decide when to take off the plaster. Surprisingly, Prakash thanked the doctor and smiled at Prachi on his way out.

Prakash was left alone on his bed with the plaster. He knew he did not require it. He also knew he had to get out of the hospital soon. Now with the plaster on, it was much more difficult. He could not sneak out without being noticed. Also, he had to go to some doctor to get his plaster cut out. After arousing suspicion from two nurses for trying to get up from the bed, Prakash decided spending one more night at the hospital cannot do much harm.

Chapter 3

Dr. Prachi had to wake up Prakash almost forcefully the next morning as Prakash had been awake in pain and agony for most of the night. The Civil hospital was a busy place. Not only it was impossible to sneak out even in the night, but it was also impossible to sleep in all the commotion that enveloped. He would have much appreciated a fuller sleep at his home. Dr. Prachi continued to question Prakash, “How do you feel today?” She moved ahead with examining the stitches on his body without really hearing what Prakash was murmuring about. She was surprised to see most of the wounds had already dried up. Prachi’s curiosity got better of her and she asked for a clotting test to be performed on Prakash. The wounds were already closing up which could mean an alarmingly high platelets count. That would be a dangerous condition after the injuries were healed, and Prachi just wanted to verify that the count was in the normal range.

Prakash stared open-mouthed at Prachi when she ordered the test. The worst had occurred.

Chapter 4

Dr. Prachi was dumbfounded when she read the reports. In fact, the pathologist had attached a note saying “You may want to redo the tests.” The platelet count was very high, indicating possibility of internal clotting or thrombosis. Also, the white blood cell count was high indicating that Prakash’s immune system was fighting with something. Prachi was not so much worried about the high white blood count as she was about the platelet count. She went to Prakash and drew a small quantity of blood from his fingertip. The clotting took less than ten seconds!

Prakash asked Prachi “Can I leave the hospital now, since my wounds are better?” Prachi immediately replied in the negative and told him that his condition was not as good as it seemed, since he had very high rate of clotting and that may indicate a possible internal clotting. Prakash asked if the stitches could be now removed since he had healed properly. Dr Prachi was too involved with the puzzle to hear him and ordered some more tests to check for Prakash’s general fitness. She would have liked to probe Prakash’s body for indications of internal clotting, but given her infrastructure and the fact that Prakash actually complained of no problems, it was not possible to conduct any expensive tests.

Prakash wanted to run away. Only if his leg was not bound in hard plaster!

Chapter 5

“How can a person be in perfect health with such a high platelet count and white blood count?” Prachi asked herself for the tenth time in that day. When she visited Prakash during her evening visit, he pleaded her to discharge him. Dr. Prachi was in no mood to oblige. Instead she ordered some more tests. This time, she did not tell Prakash what they were for. When the results came back, she had to speak with Prakash. “Have your wounds always healed so fast?” Prachi asked Prakash. Prakash did not know what to answer. He just grunted a “yes”. Prachi then asked what Prakash found most difficult to answer “What is your age?” Prakash’s I-card mentioned his birthdate. The question was unnecessary and he told so to Dr. Prachi. “Yes, I know, but your body looks more like it is in its 30s instead of late forties” Prachi replied.

Prakash silently cursed himself for being lazy of late. He should have changed the I-card years earlier. Identity, he knew, was a major problem in the modern world. He had no problems going into an entirely new city and settling in, but now everyone needed proof of residence, or birth, or some kind of certificate that basically was meaningless for him.

“I did not understand.” Prakash replied to Dr. Prachi’s comment about his body, even though he perfectly understood what she was getting at. “I mean, your internal systems are fantastic, your immune system is extremely active and you are almost the fittest individual I have ever seen, and still you have certain blood counts not explainable by the condition of your body. How have you remained so fit over the years? Also, do you have no family? No one has ever visited you in the past few days.” Prachi’s questions were pestering Prakash.

Chapter 6

Dr. Prachi had been speaking with Prakash for about ten minutes when she observed that whereas almost all his wounds had healed perfectly, the one on his forehead, caused by a splinter from the car, was way behind. “That wound on your forehead is not keeping pace with the ones on the rest of your body!” joked Prachi. After a moment’s pause, Prakash answered, “That one may take time. I had a similar wound in my childhood and it took very long to heal.” Prachi frowned at this answer. “But you just said that your wounds heal very fast.” “Yes, they do, except for the ones on my forehead. Don’t worry, I am fine. May I go home now?” Prakash was really only interested in getting discharged. He did not mention that the pain from the wound on his forehead was intolerable. “Okay, but let us first take another X-ray of your leg.”

The result of the X-Ray was the final blow. Prachi could not believe her eyes. The leg was completely healed. It even left the orthopaedics doctor baffled. “I want to know what is the secret of your health, Prakash.” Prachi felt she had no other alternative, and more importantly no reason of holding the patient back. She asked Prakash directly. Prakash quickly assessed that no one was listening to their conversation, and answered, “Nothing. So I can finally go home now?” Prachi was not going to be so easily put off. She continued to question him, “Have you ever been sick?” Prakash had the urge of running away, and now, without the plaster, he could easily do that. However, Prachi’s desperate face held him back. “Okay, I will tell you my secret. Lets go to the cafeteria”

Chapter 7

” I do not age.” Prakash simply said the sentence and let it percolate for some time. “You mean, ever?” Prachi did not know what to ask. “For a very long time. I have an immune system to beat all infections, a very strong healing system to cure my wounds and a very healthy muscle regeneration system to keep me going. Now you know why I was insisting on being discharged.” Prakash was calm and very definite. Prachi thought she was sitting with a mad man, except that what he just said made sense. Part of it, she had already seen in the healing of his wounds. “So how old are you?” Prachi could not help asking this question again. “I really don’t know. I have been around for a very long time, have hibernated for months and seen a lot of changes, learned a lot of languages and have forgotten the count of years. Do not bother yourself too much. Just forget me, and continue your life. It is unlikely that you will see me again.” Prakash began to get up indicating an end of conversation, but Prachi was not satisfied. She kept sitting and her gaze dragged Prakash to sit back on his chair. “But that is impossible. I am a doctor. You cannot make me believe anything of that sort! What proof do you have?” Prachi would not leave him alone. Prakash seemed used to such conversations. He was as calm as he was at the starting. “I have no proof and I am not even asking you to believe me. Thanks a lot for your care. You won’t see me again.” Prakash concluded. Prachi pushed on, “Did you see Mahatma Gandhi?” “Yes”, Prakash answered.

“Shivaji?”

“I knew him very closely.” Prakash did not find the questions unexpected and answered without having to think much hard.

“Have you changed your names many times? What were you during Shivaji’s time?” Prachi just would not stop. Everyone does not get a chance to see a person who claim he knew Shivaji!

“I am sorry, that is previliged information, and please do not ask any more questions.” Prakash had no intention of going back down his memory lane and expose all of his secrets in front of this girl. Prachi was still not done. She quickly asked, “Have you seen Ram-Laxman-Sita?” Prakash did not expect Prachi would jump from Shivaji to the Satya Yuga in a step of one question. He had expected some date close Chandragupta Maurya’s. Prakash was humbled out by that question. “No”, he replied, “they predate me.” “And what about the Mahabharat?” Prachi pressed on.

Prakash now got up from the chair completely and did not look into her eyes. He started walking away from the table. Prachi quickly followed him. “Okay, don’t tell me anything more, but let me at least prescribe you something for you forehead…”

Prakash quickly turned back and asked, “How about some warm oil for my wound on the forehead?”

Spoiler

The story ends here. But if you are not very up to date on the Hindu mythology, you may consider reading this article from Wikipedia. A movie “The Man from Earth,[IMBD link]”  is based on a very similar idea. I had no intentions of stealing anything from the movie, but the idea is surely not owned by the movie’s producers or writers since this is believed by many people in India since ages, as is evident from this link.

All in a day’s work!

October 2, 2008

My friend Nirav Uchat and I got an excellent experience of what happens if are trying to modify parts of code while we do not know anything about some other dependent parts. As a part of our MTech project, we are modifying some drivers. The part of the driver that communicates with the underlying hardware, called HAL code, was a black box for us until today morning. We wanted to add a functionality in the driver and had been struggling with the known parts of the driver for about a month now, without making any progress.

Today morning, we got the news that the HAL code has now been released by the manufacturers. After we got access to the HAL code, it took us only a few hours to find out what needed to be done to successfully add the required functionality. We were also relieved to know that we could have never found out the solution without either the HAL code, or knowing about some hardware register details. The solution did not exist in the parts that were accessible to us for the past month.

In case you are interested in what we are doing, I will briefly describe it. We are using wifi cards and madwifi driver to enable TDMA communication instead of CSMA in wifi. We did not have access to the Atheros HAL. We wanted to get SWBA beacon interrupts from the HAL to define slot boundaries in TDMA. The HAL timer is much more accurate than the kernel timers (we are not using a real-time kernel).

SOA is different from DOA

August 22, 2008

I cannot produce all that I need myself. Therefore, I rely on others for many things. I buy milk and bread from my grocer, newspaper from the newspaper agency close by, cooking gas from the Bharat Gas retailers and so on. In addition, I book my travel tickets through my travel agent, pay taxes through my accountant and visit my doctor when I fall ill.

It is very interesting to see the mechanism in which all these day-to-day activities progress. My cooking gas connection is distinctly different from the other services I avail of. I have a contract with the gas retailer. My retailer has handed me a gas regulator and a cylinder, the latter he promises to refill, the former I promise to preserve till I require his services. This contract is a tight relationship between me and my retailer. It is not easy to shift my gas connection from one retailer to other.

On the contrary, I can easily change my grocer, my travel agent or my accountant (changing my doctor often is not advisable) and we do not keep any entity such as the gas regulator to bind us tightly. Most of these service providers do have a substantial information about me, which they maintain on their own accord, but this is very different from a contract that says “I buy from you and you alone”. Nevertheless, these services still function efficiently since I fill out the required forms and my agents know how to interpret these forms. In the real world, these form exchange may be often verbal as is the case with the grocer or the newspaper  man.

By taking real world analogies, I have tried to establish that there are two models of interactions. Real businesses are not unlike these daily chores when we think about interactions. Businesses also depend on others for services, and frequently fill out forms to access such services. With computers proliferating the business, these interactions can be easily made machine to machine. Which of the two models of interactions will businesses prefer?

Distributed Objects Architecture

Closely related to the gas retailer model, we have the distributed objects architecture. Here, a machine belonging to one business will avail of services provided by the other by referencing objects from the other business’s interface. It will invoke a set of methods and gets its work done. To operate properly, this mechanism requires the “service user” to know what objects are exposed by the “service provider”. When accessed, the service provider must create these objects for its customer and execute the instructions given by the customer. The degree of interaction is such that effectively the customer gets the work done by micromanaging the object on the provider’s premises. Both the service user and the service provider would not want this. Consider for example a telecom company that uses the services of a retailer to ship handsets to its customers. If these two companies use a distributed objects architecture, the telecom company will have to establish an object reference with the handset retailer and maintain this reference till the transaction was complete (which can be several days). The handset retailer’s machine will have to maintain a real object all this time. Very few interactions really took place, but the object occupied memory on both machines for the entire duration of the transaction. Tight coupling and micromanaging is definitely not a good option for this type of requirement.

This model also assumes a lot of trust. The retailer exposed its interfaces, it maintained all the objects that the telcom company requested and executed the service required because it had a predefined contract with the telcom company (and also possibly wrote the entire application in a programming language that was previously agreed upon). When we are going to this length of coupling, there better be multiple interactions between the two entities, or else, all this was wasteful. This also implies that the telcom company cannot change its retailer overnight. It has to painstakingly negotiate a new protocol with the new retailer before its services can be availed of.

Since the service user was supposed to micromanage the provider, the user’s thread was blocked. It performed synchronous communication with the provider and spent lot of time waiting either for the provider to return a result or in establishing network connections with the array of objects it required. Everything had to suddenly also be tolerable to network disruptions; an entity that is neither controlled nor owned by the parties involved.

We have highlighted the following fallacies with the use of Distributed Objects Architecture:

  1. Tight coupling and micromanaging objects leads to unnecessary reservation of resources.
  2. Synchronous calls leads to blocking of execution control.
  3. Elevated amounts of predefined contracts and trust needed.
  4. Tolerance to network issues.
  5. Possible constraints on the use of programming language.

Service Oriented Architecture

Coming closer to how services work in the real world, if we have a mechanism in which I ask for a service and then the service calls me back when done, we may find answers to the problems we face with distributed objects. To make the coupling loose, I would no more hold a reference to an entity belonging to someone else. The service user would rather send to the provider the entire set of requirements, maybe through a form of some kind and go ahead with other activities. We now need the two entities to understand only the forms that they exchange. The service user could avail of similar services from multiple providers simultaneously without being bound in a one-to-one contract with one provider. Of course, all the entities involved will still need to understand the same form, but that is much better than having to build applications in the same programming language!

In service oriented architecture, we expect the service users and the service providers to exchange documents in an universally understandable format. Implementation of the service can be done, after interpreting the document, in any language that the service provider deems fit. This more natural way of functioning paints a pleasant picture. We can now achieve loose coupling (no maintaining of each other’s entities), dynamic binding (freedom of selection of the service provider (with only the constraint that the new service provider also understands the document format)), asynchronous communication (no blocking for the code to return from a remote call), and independence of programming languages (you like Java, I like C and he likes Python)!

Caution

It is easy to be thrilled about this new technology. After all, it gave us all that we craved for. But surely there must be a downside. Yes, there is. I once read in a software engineering text how a team that had jelled together could get much more work done through much less formal interaction than  a team that was yet to jell. When I explain a concept to one of my old friends, I do not have to explain much. They understand more quickly than a new colleague. It is as if I have an unwritten protocol with my friends (they understand my body language, my usage of certain words, and my tone) that allows me to skip many verbosities in communication while explaining something to them. On the other hand, I have to mention all disclaimers, all auxiliary details to a new colleague. This is exactly what is happening in the document exchange mechanism in SOA. Both sides have to continually parse documents. The format of the document is fixed. These are much less optimizations possible. The telcom company in the above example may request the retailer to provision a thousand mobile phones per month and only a few broadband ADSL modems, but still, it has to use the complete document specification and the provider has to parse this entire document every time.

I am only raising a word of caution that SOA is not a silver bullet. There might be instances when DOA or some other mechanism is more suitable than SOA.

Conclusion

SOA is definitely different from distributed objects. Its underlying philosophy is different and, I feel, it is more human-centric than distributed objects. For most scenarios to which DOA is a solution, SOA offers a better, much simplified alternative. Documents prepared in universally accepted formats, such as the XML, allows us to overcome many of the shortcomings or awkwardness of distributed objects. Nevertheless, we must remember that there might be instances when SOA is not really the way to proceed–it is not a silver bullet.

A Quest to Meet

June 1, 2008

It was a late November afternoon with warm sunshine and clear skies. Vishal Joglekar had received an envelop from University of California, Los Angeles. What the letter contained was his dream. He had applied to do a summer internship at the UCLA under Dr. Arjun Joshi. It was unlikely that anyone from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay would ask for an internship in a medical university. However, Vishal’s special interests in life critical embedded systems and his related project had convinced his guide and the faculty advisors that this Computer Science student genuinely required to visit the Cardio-Vascular facility at UCLA.

Vishal wanted to develop real time software and hardware for pacemaker which would warn the person of any irregularities in the heart’s operations. Transmission of wireless signals from within the body and particularly from so close to one of the vital organs was a great challenge. This research would require a facility with test beds of pacemaker fitted rodents at a scale that was difficult to have in India. Vishal had thus applied for a three month internship at UCLA.

Behind this academic urge was a completely different thrust. His guide and the faculty advisors would have suspected this had they known who he had applied to work under. Dr. Arjun Joshi had married Ashwini Phatak–a prominent actress in Bollywood. Vishal was a staunch fan of Ashwini. Of course, Ashwini was much elder to him and Vishal had no intentions to love her or marry her, but was always desirous of meeting her once. Ashwini had settled in the US and was not seen much in India. The only way, Vishal thought, he could meet Ashwini now was through her husband. It was this utmost desire to meet Ashwini that had made him think of an elaborate plan. He was a good student and would be invited to some US university for whatever he applied. But applying to medical school in UCLA was strange and he had to build up a good case.

He worked very hard reading a lot of research journals about the subject he had selected. The anatomy of the heart, functioning of the various nerves, expansion and contraction muscles and the other intricate details of pumping blood were almost the only things he could think of for months. Along with that, he had studied the mechanism of many pacemakers, the problems people faced with them and the problems doctors faced understanding the condition of the heart without opening the chest. All this study was profusely important for his initial letter to UCLA. His idea of what he wanted to do was so clear in the letter that UCLA not only gave him permission to do his internship at their facility, they actually funded it.

The very pretext of meeting Ashwini Phatak was so strong that he could easily push himself to the limits. Not once while he was studying for this new found passion did he actually think of Ashwini. The means were the short term ends. The long term ends were vaguely pushed back in memory. This long term end came rushing back to his memory when he read the letter from UCLA. He knew that the task is not done yet. He shall not arrive at the Cardio-vascular facility and demand Dr. Arjun to arrange a meeting with Ashwini. Such things are just not done. He will have to completely conceal his intentions and create a great image for himself in the eyes of the good doctor. Then, through affection and respect for Vishal, the doctor would call him for a dinner at his home. In India, it is not unlikely to happen. Many discussions do take place at one of the participant’s place with dinner prepared by his wife. Men take a lot of pride in the cookery skills their wives possess.

This means three long months of toil at the UCLA. But it meant a lot of things in the near future. It was late November and Vishal would require to buy his tickets, get his VISA stamped and buy a lot of clothes. He did not have a suit and during his stay in US, he would require at least 3 suits, multiple ties and good quality shirts. Along with all this, he had to complete his studies for the spring semester and be proficient in all the details of his research. Time sped like a rabbit and Vishal was astonished at how much can be done in a four month timespan. He had performed fabulously in his semester exams, flopped a course project, done three other projects on good terms, and done all the necessary shopping. He read and reread the journals he had referred and then prepared notes on his observations.

His flight date was close on heels of his exams and he would not get much time to do the packing. His parents had landed in Mumbai and stayed at a relative doing the packing and last minute shopping for their son. They were completely aware of Vishal’s reasons for taking up this research. But they were happy for all the effort he was putting in. “After all, some kind of motivation is absolutely necessary”, his father used to say. His mother taunted him saying, “My son might arrive with a wife when he returns. Vishal, Ashwini is a good girl but is also happily married. Do not run off with her! Of course I know you won’t do such a thing.” Vishal consoled his mother saying that he just wanted to meet Ashwini and give her the review of one of her old movies that he had recently written. That was his sole goal.

Finally, Vishal’s exams were done with, and he had carefully packed his paper work, bunch of CDs and inspected all the packing that his parents had done. After carefully removing a dozen of eatables from the various pockets of the huge bags, he told his parents that the US was not starved and this food would anyways be thrown in a dustbin at the airport. His mother knew all this and still had packed all the stuff for her boy. They all then left for the airport and bid Vishal goodbye when the time was ripe to do so. Before this, he had to promise that he shall take good care of himself, eat properly, sleep properly, study properly, socialize, make new friends and concentrate on his research work. Vishal had no time to think out how many of these things were mutually exclusive.

During the long flight from Mumbai to Los Angeles Vishal got peaceful time to think about the dozen or so films he had seen which starred Ashwini Pathak. He was proud that he had seen so many of her movies. The possibility that he was clutching now gave him a chill down his spine. It was now possible that he would meet his favorite heroine. It was difficult to think of what he would speak with her. He also had to show his capabilities to Dr. Arjun before all this. It would take a lot of effort. He had not been among doctors ever. He was a computer engineer and not a medical student. Suddenly a terrifying thought passed his mind. Was he correct in what he was doing? He was actually setting up a meeting with his favorite heroine hiding behind her husband’s back. His intentions were different from what he had made public. But his intentions were not bad. They were simple and impossible without any put-up at the same time. He could have surely not been able to meet Ashwini had he written to her husband that he wanted to do so. Moreover, he was truly doing the work he had written to the UCLA about. At length, meeting Ashwini was just a motivation to do the pacemaker research. Rather, it was the other way round, but it did not matter whilst both the ends were met.

His reception at the Los Angeles International Airport was simple and professional. One of the Indian interns at the UCLA had come to receive him on the airport and took Vishal from the airport to the UCLA Medical Center where he was shown his workplace at the Department of Surgery. Vishal was thrilled. There was a proper place for everything. His computer console was up and the username and password was written in black ink on a yellow paper and pinned to the board next to the monitor. He unpacked his study material and placed it in the drawers. After carefully locking everything and logging off his terminal, he went to lunch with his Indian guide.

Chatting with him, Vishal understood that Dr. Arjun was very busy all the time. He was neat and meticulous in all that he did. He was friendly once you know him and had great respect for people who knew their areas well. He did not have a prejudice against other professions and in fact that was a reason Vishal could be here. He had made special recommendations since he felt that it is time that other branches of science get more closely involved in medicine. Computers, Dr. Arjun thought, were going to make medication and diagnosis easier in the near future and that was their rightful purpose. Vishal instantly knew how lucky he had been. It was an application sent to the right man at the right time.

For a few days after Vishal had gone to UCLA, he never saw Dr. Arjun. Vishal’s work was investigated by an array of other interns, residents and doctors. They all told him the same thing. Dr. Arjun was busy in some surgery or in some meeting. Vishal did not know that he was actually been evaluated by all the associates working with Dr. Arjun before the doctor would waste his time with the young lad. It was a couple of days after Vishal had already started working on his idea that Dr Arjun met him in a laboratory. After exchanging pleasantries, Dr. Arjun fixed an appointment with Vishal at Vishal’s workspace and left. Vishal was used to his professors wandering about his desk whenever asked for help. However, he had not thought same would apply in the US too. He had expected Dr. Arjun to ask Vishal to come to his own office rather than the other way round.

Later, Vishal met Dr. Arjun at regular intervals to report his progress. Within a month the basic idea was prepared and the feasibility was studied. The basic novel idea was that the pacemaker would not continuously emit signals thus reducing the danger of electromagnetic exposure. Instead, when an equipment like the ECG machine was trying to measure the heart’s electrical activities, the machine can activate a log reader. The pacemaker will then download important information, if any, through electrical signals akin to those recorded by the ECG machine. Modifications would be required in the ECG machine to trigger the pacemaker to start sending the data and also to record the downloaded data. In case of emergency, the pacemaker would use both electrical pulses as well as wireless signals. The wireless signals will be in the cellular mobile spectrum so that a mobile phone nearby will be informed automatically.

The idea was new and daring. It would require much more time than three months of internship to get a prototype done and working. Arjun smiled at Vishal when he mentioned this concern. Arjun said, “Vishal, success in all fields of science are a combination of immense work by many people adding small bits and pieces to our collective knowledge. A particular idea can be thought out by only a single individual, but ideas put together make big leaps. And, that definitely takes time. It is for us to make a bit of progress here and a bit there. Someone else will take up your work maybe in some other part of the world and someone else will probably successfully prototype it. Your initial work will have created solid foundation blocks for these people. It is not for you to worry that you may not be able to complete what you set out with. Your task is to take it to the next stage. During your stay here it should definitely be your intention to take this stage as close to your end goal as possible. But remember, your idea will not be lost. You will publish a couple of papers about your work here and those will motivate others to move ahead with your project. I recommend however, that you spend time on your papers only after going back to India. Here, while you are at it, make the best use of the facilities we have to provide. But, keep a journal about your findings, frustrations, surprises and anything you feel interesting. It will help when you sit down to write your papers.”

This might have been the longest monologue Vishal had ever heard from Arjun. Vishal’s respect for Arjun as a person increased many fold. In later months, parts of the original idea could be tested. The pacemaker was connected with an additional device that could send electromagnetic waves when triggered. The pacemaker would trigger this device when it observed abnormal activities. It was not possible to test this apparatus with rodents in its current form due to size constraints. An external wireless device could have been created but it would take a lot of time. Close to the end of the internship, few other complex parts were also in mid-progress and would not be completed. Still, Vishal’s idea seemed feasible. He made plans about the remaining parts of his project. He decided to focus on whatever real time software requirements that his idea will have. Though parts of his idea were tested, they were not done using real time scheduling. After returning to India, he would have little chance to work with hardware and hence, he would work on the software component alone. Of course, testing software without the actual hardware is very difficult and he will have to ship the code back to the US to test it. But he did not know if it would go that far.

With all this, Vishal was very exhausted from having worked virtually round the clock, sleeping at his workplace most of the nights for last few days. It suddenly occurred to him that his primary motive was not yet satisfied. He wanted to meet Ashwini and he knew he was just half an hour’s drive away from her. He hoped Dr. Arjun would invite Vishal for dinner before he left. After all, they had become quite friendly and were increasingly spending more and more time together. Other interns were jealous that Vishal got to see so much of the doctor lately. Vishal was once also invited to a cardiac surgery. Vishal politely refused since he had not seen any surgery earlier and this would be too much for him to bear. He jokingly added, “Let a computer engineer remain a computer engineer.” What he really wanted to say was, “How about changing this invitation to one in which you ask me to come with you for dinner at your home?”

Vishal was thinking sadly about his misfortune as to how close he was to meeting Ashwini and would now surely miss this opportunity when his father’s words crossed his mind. Indeed, meeting Ashwini was only a motivation that made him take this difficult project and bring it up to this stage. She was a means to attain a completely different end–one which involved academic complexities and not just emotional ones. Meeting her was not the end. This was. Still, he hoped it could be some sort of a side-end or a side-effect of his visit here.

On his last day in the US, he bought a beautiful gift for Dr. Arjun. It was an exquisite piece of smoked glass in the shape of a muscular animal holding his head high, probably in response to the honor he so rightfully deserved. For Ashwini, he printed out the review about her old movie that he had written few months before. He felt that this was the most appropriate thing to do. Even if he could not himself reach Ashwini Phatak, his writing would reach her. And, anyways, he had planned to give it to her if he did meet her in person. Near the end of his last day, Vishal went to Dr. Arjun’s cabin and thanked him for the support, guidance and everything Dr. Arjun himself and the department had given him. At this point, Dr. Arjun said, “I wanted to actually call you for dinner at my home sometime, but you were always so dedicatedly busy with your work that I did not feel like disturbing you. We will do that the first thing whenever you come back here.” Vishal was spellbound. Of course he had been dedicatedly working on his project, but that was so that the doctor would have a good impression about him and invite him to dinner. But it now was clear that his dedication was actually the reason he could not meet Ashwini. Quickly overcoming this mild hysteria Vishal gave the gift he had bought for Dr. Arjun and also presented the envelope with the printed movie review. He asked the doctor to do a favor and pass on his review of the film to Ashwini. Arjun was surprised that Vishal could produce such a thing, but promised Vishal that he would give it to his wife.

Vishal left for India later that evening. He was completely exhausted and deprived at the same time. He was exhausted because of little sleeping for the past few days and deprived because he had lost the chance to meet his favorite heroine. Though the printed review was some consolation, it was nothing compared to a one to one meeting. A little bit of apprehension also hung in the air as to whether Ashwini or Dr. Arjun will write to him about the review. With all these mixed feelings, when Vishal landed in India, a new much more dominant feeling overtook. The strong desire to meet his parents and to tell them all his experiences over and over again. Indeed he had had a great time in the US. His study was a small breakthrough in the field and his papers that he planned to finish by the next couple of months would make him really famous in the community. He wanted to tell all this to his mom and dad. He spent all the time during the long drive from Mumbai to his home town telling his parents about the various small things about his stay in the US.

After reaching home, Vishal freshened up and checked his email account. A new email from Dr. Arjun read:

Hi Vishal,

This is Ashwini Pathak. Since you may not have my email address, I thought it best to ask Arjun to send you my email. Thanks a lot for the glass showpiece. It has decorated our living room display like nothing else.

We both read the review that you gave to Arjun. He had to view the entire movie once more to believe that all those details you mentioned are, in fact, present in the movie! You have done a fantastic job, Vishal. Kudos to your literary skills! (And I understand that your academic skills are great as well.) I would have liked to meet you. Do visit us if you come to the US anytime later.

Best Wishes,
Ashwini Pathak

P.S. If you write a good script, I will be willing to do the movie.

I had originally posted this story on my googlepages on June 1, 2008 at http://ashutoshdhekne.googlepages.com/aquesttomeet

Mixed Tea

May 30, 2008

All characters and incidents in this story are purely fictitious.

Chapter 1

That night I almost did not sleep. Well, I must have slept since I remember waking up the next morning, but I was most certainly swinging between consciousness and sleep throughout the night. Changing a job is a disturbing phase. I had no complains about my previous employer. My work had been appropriately appreciated from time to time and I had loved it. It therefore seemed somewhat wrong to just turn my back and join a new employer overnight.

Mr. Paresh Gaonkar had spotted me in my restaurant and had asked me to meet him after my duty got over. At about 7 in the evening, we were sipping tea at a local tea stall. It was then that Paresh offered me the job of “waiting tables” at his firm. To start with, he made it clear that I will receive pay twice of what I was getting at the restaurant. I was thrilled and almost agreed before asking him where his restaurant was. When I asked him this, he stood awkwardly silent for sometime as if contemplating what to say and then said that he did not own a restaurant but was the proprietor of a small computer firm.

Mr Kunal Manjarekar and Mr Rajendra Damle were Paresh’s partners and worked in a small basement shop. All of them were worried about food they ate and were in search of someone who could feed them regularly to good quality food that could keep their stomachs in order. My duty was to not only serve food but also order it from the most appropriate places. They did not care what I did in my free time as long as I was always in time for their meals. I was skeptical about my duties but the pay was luring me to accept the assignment. I had verbally accepted over the last few drops of tea that we were sipping. Promptly after getting home, I had written a neat resignation letter and planted it in a clean envelope. After all, I had my reputation to preserve even at the previous employer’s place.

Presently I was dressed clean and ready to leave for my new office. Before that, I went to the restaurant and directly stood besides the manager’s desk. I put forth the letter and said, “I had a great time here. Thank you. I am leaving this job for another one.” My image of a resignation was simple. I was wrong. It took me three quarters of an hour to finally convince the manager that I was not making a stunt and that I had no grudge against the restaurant whatsoever. It was plain simple that I had found another employer and I was moving on. I had failed to discuss or hint at my leaving before this day since all was decided after my hours at the restaurant just the previous day. When I left the restaurant I had to run and take a bus to avoid being late at work the very first day.

Chapter 2

I was close to the building where my new workplace was, when I noticed a couple of eateries and tea stalls at the vantage points of road crossings. These were the places closest to the office and hence must have been visited multiple times by my new employers. They might know the taste of each dish that these hotels had on their menu. I will have to be creative.

At 10 in the morning, the office had just opened and all three looked up at me as I approached. Paresh had a grin on his face. I was promptly sent away to bring tea. This was my test and my opportunity. I bought 2 cups of tea from the two different tea stalls round the corner. Then I mixed the tea. I did not know what it would taste like, but I was sure it would not taste the same as that from any one of the stalls. When I served the tea, I saw the puzzled look on everyone’s face. Rajendra told me that I can eat and drink what they eat and drank. I had already bought four cups of tea, but that was to equally mix it. From then on, I could do that and drink my cup of tea too! Rajendra also told me that I could call them using their first names and not attach a ‘sir’ to the names. He said it was the norm in the computer industry.

After all of them had finished their tea, I went away to return the cups to the respective tea stalls. On my way back, I took a detour to investigate if any other eateries existed in the surrounding. I came across a small mess and another 10 table restaurant. I made a contract with the mess manager. She agreed to provide me with four people’s food in a Tiffin box. I asked her to prepare tasty food without much spices. She smiled and said that I was contradicting myself, but promised she would try.

My employers were visibly pleased with me when I severed them food from this Tiffin. They told me that all of them were interested in a lot of boiled vegetables and salads. Since none of them had time to exercise, too much heavy food had a tendency of upsetting their stomachs. I made a note of this insight and this guided my decisions about what to serve for all the time I was with them.

I had pleased my employers for the first day, but I knew this all would soon wither out if I did not continue to do innovative things. In all the spare time I got between tea breaks and lunch times, I would wander around the area to find out if any new eateries were close enough. Everyone would get bored of the similar kind of food that the one mess nearby served. To avert this problem, I had already planned to buy sweets from different sweet stores everyday. I spotted two other homegrown messes a bit farther from the first one. I made it a point to switch between these messes after about a week. It is really astonishing how a person cannot change his cooking habits even when instructed to do so, so that the food tastes a bit different, but how easy it is to get food of varying taste if you change the person making the food.

Chapter 3

As months passed by, I continued switching between messes and altering my instructions about what kind of food I wanted. The computer firm was growing and we had a few staff members and therefore more people to feed. Every now and then, these people would be elated over something and I would promptly skip the routine boiled vegetables and replace it with some dish from the nearby restaurants. Pizza, cake and soft drinks were brought in when it was someone’s birthday.

The best thing of all this was that I could eat the same food that I had ordered for them. This was so drastically different from my previous job that I started feeling great about my job switch. Simple everyday food and regular parties was a very good way of living! With growing number of people at the office, I had made provisions for someone from the mess to deliver warm food to the office directly. My duty was then reduced the calling everyone for food and laying the plates and then clean everything up.

The firm expanded in leaps and bounds. I had never seen such expansion. Within the one year that I was at the firm, we had bought the adjoining shop and converted it into a second office internally connected to the main office. There were about five more people working in the other shop and I heard plans of shifting to another building. At this, I had to ask if the place to shift to was fixed. I had to look around that place and make arrangements for food. I was unduly concerned for the new building would come up about a year from then and our firm was buying a part of a floor. It was large enough to house a small canteen in addition to three cabins and other cubicles. With this, it was unclear for me what my duties will be. No one had indicated any risk to my job, but I was frightened all the same.

Paresh had once said to me, “You are very innovative in how you manage our food problem. Innovation and creation of work to do is a sure-shot way of always being able to do the best job. All the expansion you see in this firm is an output of some or the other innovation. People working here are producing things that others have not thought.” Remembering these words, I was determined to keep my place intact even in the new setup. I had been able to attract appreciation from my employers through creative thinking and that was exactly what I was also going to do now to keep myself employed and required. I jotted down things that I would like to see in the new office. This included water coolers, a snack counter, the dining room and the kitchen. Inspired by my enthusiasm, I was shown the plans of the new building. My limited education kept me from understanding the details of that plan, but I got a good idea of what should be where. Later I went to the site myself and inspected the size of the rooms. I had no estimates of the dimensions shown on the plan and this was the only way I could have enacted on my planning.

My list of things to be done now also included buying plates, cups, kitchenware and other items. I made intricate plans of food timings and how to keep supplies coming in when required. Pleased by my work, Kunal and Rajendra said to me, “You have an entire food protocol underway here. The only thing missing is a contingency plan.” The word was new for me. Both Kunal and Rajendra proudly explained to me how contingency plans were very important and a part of most of the software systems they have been building. It, they said, was a single point on which they almost always beat the competition in their software products. I promptly started thinking about possible disasters in the food region. It included a rat raid on the food storage, a strike by the cooks, a strike by the food suppliers, acute shortage of essential commodities like milk, sugar, tea leaves and so on. To top it all, I had also added a plan to house a two fold increase in people for an entire night. This was to help with probable floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters.

Ideas were forming the basis of my existence in this firm and my efforts of these few months before we finally shifted into the new place made my existence a necessity. I almost self appointed myself to the position of Chief of Housekeeping and Provisions. I have no idea if any firm in any industry boasts of such a position.

As the CoHP I had to keep a constant eye on the operations in the kitchen and the general cleanliness of the workspace. Personal grudges and gossip are very common in the kitchen and housekeeping staff and I had to make an effort to prevent this from reducing their productivity. Such things might have been a part of what the other people in the firm did, but keeping a tab on them was out of my duties, of course!

Chapter 4

The firm had grown multifold, but the old cozy atmosphere was long lost. Paresh, Kunal and Rajendra became more and more inaccessible not only to me but also to the other working staff in the office. Ranks were introduced among the fifty odd people in the firm. Only a few of them were supposed to meet with the three bosses. I knew there was probably no other way things could be managed in an expanding organization of this size, but it was disturbing nonetheless. But the firm as a whole must have been doing great since the intake never seemed to stop.

The firm now occupied the entire floor in the same building. Client visits became common. They had to be served special food brought from some big hotel. These people from other countries did not eat with the rest of the staff in the canteen. They had a special room that should have been used only for conferences, but was now more often used for luncheons. I would look over the waiters serving in that room. They had to be meticulous in their behavior for much depended on everything progressing well in that room.

Twice in a year, we would have a bash—a grand gathering of all the staff members and their families. Paresh, Kunal, and Rajendra had all married beautiful women soon after the new building was up and running smoothly. Their wives seldom came to the office. They had their own jobs and were busy. This quite surprised me in the beginning. I would have thought the wives would take up active part in the functioning of the growing business. They never did so. Maybe it was the correct way in this software world. This way, their family lives were distinct from their office lives. Of course, years earlier, when the firm was very small, I never knew these three to have any other life except to work in the small room for long hours. It was not required now. There were other people to work nights and create profits.

The three bosses frequently went away on foreign trips to bring in new clients or to consult with other firms. They always made sure that all the three of them were not out at the same time. Nothing in the company fell apart in the absence of any one of them. It gave me chills when I first understood this fact. If everything really works fine without one of the bosses on the chair inside his cabin, then was he dispensable? Much less would work the same without a supervisor inside a kitchen, or on the housekeeping front. This, I thought, was a stark difference in the way staff on temporary wages works and how the staff on permanent salaries works.

Chapter 5

The picture perfect I had painted earlier about the employees of the firm fell apart on that fateful day when I heard that Paresh was leaving the company for good. Through internal gossip I heard that differences had cropped up between the three bosses. They had distinctly different dreams for progress form then on. Arguments had become heated and Paresh had offered to remove his share out of the firm. Both Kunal and Rajendra agreed after careful thought.

It was a particularly emotional moment when Paresh left his office. All the staff gathered to bid him goodbye. A small speech was delivered congratulating Paresh for the acute effort he had put in the company and how the company would always remember his part in building it up. It is all very simple to give a heartfelt talk. But for a person to leave his entire life’s work just like that is no joke. He seemed to be distant with almost no expression on his face. I felt like I ought to resign that very moment. After all, it was Paresh who had hired me. However, it would have been insane to do such a thing. With enormous experience behind him, Paresh was sure to do great in his life ahead. I, on the other hand, had great experiences, but nothing to write on my resume. I had handled many people and looked after the provisions quite well, but no one would have noticed it. It is only if you are sloppy in your housekeeping duties that you are noticed. No one knows that layers of dust would accumulate on every keyboard over a weekend if it was not for my men to clean everything early Monday morning. All the employees were completely transparent to the mini-war that took place everyday inside a kitchen when one or the other supplies do not reach in time. My cooks are never noticed except if they make a bad dish one day.

I felt a sudden hollow in my stomach. I was so afraid to change my job from the restaurant to this firm. And now, when I am well set in this job with much more experience behind me, I am equally scared to shift job again. Paresh, on the other hand, was unemotional about an irreparable loss—loss of his proprietorship.

Chapter 6

A month and a half later, I left the firm. I decided to do so on the day Paresh left. But it took me all this time to write down the activities that must take place on a regular basis in all the small parts of the kitchen and in the housekeeping jobs. I also hired a new person to take over my duties and taught him all that I could.

During this month, I also kept an eye for any sign of change in the firm’s working after Paresh left. There were no changes. Just like I had thought when one of the three bosses went abroad, I again thought that at least Paresh was dispensable. This thought was disturbing. If Paresh was dispensable, then so was everybody else. All the dedication that I know of, all the traits of a good person, all the traits of a good manager was present in Paresh. If he was dispensable, then so was everyone else in this room. And so was I.

When I finally left, Kunal and Rajendra thanked my for my great service all these years and wished me luck for my future. They also gave me a very good recommendation letter. I knew I would never use it.

I went to Paresh’s house and saw how devastated he was. His wife had resumed her job and Paresh would be left alone in the house and would just think of his past days. I stayed with Paresh for some days taking care of the kitchen and the housekeeping on a much lesser scale than earlier. It was during this time that I understood he would not want to reenter the industry. I made a very bold suggestion to which Paresh laughed for a long time. I said, “Why don’t you take up a job as a Professor in some nearby college? You have much knowledge in your field and an enormous experience.” After finishing his hearty laugh, he finally said, “Your suggestion is not bad. In fact, when I was in college, I used to think that someday I will return here as a professor. Now that you mentioned it, I remembered that and felt stupid that I did not think of it myself. Thanks. You have shone a lamp over my path ahead.” His wife was slightly skeptical, but agreed to the idea since it would at least keep Paresh busy for few hours in the morning.

Later, I went on to construct my one catering business near to the same college where Paresh now teaches. Paresh is a favorite teacher among the students. He tells them a lot of stories from self experience and also uses his profound knowledge of the subjects he teaches to make them interesting. A lot of students visit my mess and a few firms close by also order food from my mess on regular basis. I use the same techniques of innovation to keep my students from switching to other messes. I do not change my cooks of course, but have taught them how to transform the food completely after a week so that the taste is completely different the next time.

Incidentally, Kunal and Rajendra could not handle all the growing business by themselves and were quickly looking for a third partner. Their firm is still standing but the employees are less enthusiastic. I do not know if a person, after all, is dispensable or not!

Yesterday, I received a note from the college nearby saying that some students wished to do a case study of my catering business. I do not think there is much to do a case study about in my business. Keeping your eyes open and changing with the circumstances seems to take you through the right course automatically. Still, I am glad to be noticed. I will get one more position in days to come–inside the library of that college as part of one of the case studies!

The End.

I had originally posted this story on my googlepages on May 30, 2008 at http://ashutoshdhekne.googlepages.com/mixedtea

Hum Aapke Hain Koun

February 9, 2008

Why I like this movie the most

Years after I first saw Hum Aapke Hain Koun, I still keep viewing it repeatedly. I could not stop myself from wondering why is it that so many years since and so many movies since I first saw this movie, it is still my most favorite one. One answer that I definitely know is that it had a great influence on my (childhood) mind. I was in the 5th standard when I saw the movie.

I have recently discovered that there are innumerable little things in the movie that keep me tied up. First of all, every character in the film is coherent. It feels that the actors are the characters themselves. It is like I tell you about a person in great detail, and you imagine the character. Then you will be able to tell how a person will react in a particular situation. This is the coherence I noticed in the movie. I am not providing a summary of the movie and someone who has not watched it may not derive any pleasure from the following monologue.

Let us start from Siddharth Choudhary (Anupam Kher). In the opening sequence when we see him on screen, we instantly know that he is a food-lover (and a magnificent cook). Moreover, we get a glimpse of how close knit the family is (in the “Yeh barni kisne todi?” sequence). This is very important for the rest of the movie. Pooja (Renuka Shahne) and Nisha (Madhuri Dixit) are emotionally close to each other. If you have not already observed, look at the sequence starting from when Kailasnath (Aloknath) meets Pooja and Nisha in the manager’s room. After the initial “namaste” Pooja takes away “Nisha” to their home while Kailasnath is meeting their father, Prof. Siddharth Choudhary. When Kailasnath expresses his desire for a match of Pooja and Rajesh (Mohnish Bahl) to Siddharth Choudhary, the (non-verbal) actions of Pooja and Nisha express their bonding for each other. When Rajesh comes in the living room, both Nisha and Pooja are watching from the kitchen. The contrast between the expressions on Nisha’s and Pooja’s face speaks volumes about the difference in the two characters. Nisha gets overly excited whereas Pooja shies away. Nisha models a bold personality exactly as per our expectations from her opening sequence on roller skates.

Pooja has a knack of finding the right words at the right time. This is evident from the movie but never “spoken” about. A shy girl that she is she could have found no words when Rajesh praises her for her painting. Her “Painting toh aap bhi karte hain, hain na?” plucks the correct string. Two more instances in the movie backup this observation. Later when Rajesh is going overseas, Prem feels guilty that Rajesh is compelled to go leaving pregnant Pooja alone. The way Pooja convinces Prem at that time is marvelous. That dialog could have come only from a person with the knack of finding the correct words. The other instance is when Bhagvanti (Bindu) mami insults Lallu (Laxmikant Berde) by claiming that the telegraph may have been fraudulent. Pooja handles the sensitive situation perfectly.

There are precise points in time when Nisha starts developing feelings about Prem (Salmaan Khan). There first meeting was a quarrel! The quarrel continues through the song “Wah Wah Ramji” and the time when Nisha visits Prem’s house for the “shagun” ceremony during the brooch (“Ouch! Sorry, chubha? … Chubhtahi toh aise hi lagta hai!”) sequence. This quarrel continues till the marriage ceremony and the song “Jute do Paise Lo”. But at the end of the song, when Prem catches hold of Nisha’s hand, and then suddenly releases her, is the instant when Nisha has a positive feeling about Prem for the first time. Shortly thereafter, she acknowledges a (non-verbal) thanks for letting her keep the shoes by looking back at the upper floor where Prem is standing. She develops a soft corner for Prem later when Prem asks Nisha to forgive him of any silliness he might have inadvertently committed during the wedding ceremony. Lata Mangeshkar’s “Ne sa re ga re sa re ga re sa re, Ne sa re ga re sa re ga re sa sa!” marks the first occasion and this is a classic tune of this movie. Later, Nisha’s excitement when Prem is going to pick her up is understandable. On the journey to “Prem Nivas”, Prem gifts Nisha with flowers and chocolate trying to impress her. Prem tells her that he asked for forgiveness (during the wedding) since Nisha was very sad and it was an awkward occasion. Prem felt that he could share the tension of the “bidayee”. This paints a character sketch of Prem. Prem is a jovial young man who is also sensitive to other people’s feelings. There are two instances when Nisha notices this fact. The second instance is when Rajesh is leaving for abroad. Notice that after Pooja convinces Prem, Nisha has a sparkle in her eyes. She notices how close Prem, Rajesh and Pooja are. For Nisha, this characteristic is very important. I must make it clear that there is no sympathy anywhere in these occasions. It is warmth between relations.

“It is bad manners!” and “Don’t be a spoil sport.” are sentences from the same person–Nisha. The manner in which she delivers these sentences, matches with her character sketch. For coming up with dialogs that assert and reinforce a character requires ingenuity on the part of the dialog writer. The character lives through these dialogs. Nisha does not voice her opinions in a manner similar to Pooja. Most of her dialogs with Prem are (more) non-verbal, with immense hidden meaning. She bridges the gap by persistent eye contact and expressions. Just before the passing-the-pillow game starts, Prem calls (through cleverly thought-out actions) Nisha to come and sit next to him. Nisha complies and is happy with herself for having accomplished it gracefully. In this sequence, the expressions on her face are a mirror into her exact feelings.

At the start of the “Pehla Pehla Pyaar” song, Prem unties the (pink) ribbon that holds Nisha’s hair together. This is the point where he crosses the “line”. Had Nisha not had feelings of love towards Prem, he would have earned a tight slap. The non-verbal factor is again in action here. Close to the end of the movie, when Rajesh confronts Nisha she does not utter a word and breaks down. Through her character, the way Nisha is, she would not have had any words for that episode. Pooja would have had very appropriate words had she been in a similar situation. It is not that there exists no dialog appropriate for Nisha (though I cannot think of one right now), but it is that Nisha would not find one (not that she could not).

There is one sequence in the film when I always find tears in my eyes. It is at the end of the “Aaj Hamare Dil Main” song when Reema (Reema Lagu) joins her hands in a “namaste” gesture requesting Kailasnath to take good care of her daughter Pooja who will soon be his daughter-in-law. Kailasnath, acknowledging the sentiment, accepts the responsibility with folded hands. It is very much in the spirit of the film and the healthiness of bonds shown.

Rajesh is a man of high elegance. When everyone urges him to marry Nisha he says, “Pehle Nisha se pucho”. His letter to Nisha reaffirms his concern about not spoiling the dreams of a vibrant young girl. Rajesh has immense confidence in his wife. This is demonstrated when he is about to leave for a business tour abroad and Prem voices his own guilt of causing Rajesh to go when Pooja is in advanced pregnancy. Rajesh could have soothed out things himself. Instead, he brings Pooja into the scene and lets her handle it. This goes a long way in showing the bonding of Pooja and Rajesh and the respect and confidence they have in each other. At the same time, of course, as I mentioned earlier, Nisha gets a peek into the ‘thoughtful’ facet of Prem. This is a time when characters of three most important roles interact and still hold their own character traits.

When few actors are speaking with each other on the screen, the actions of the other (background) characters are meaningful and often essential. I have mentioned earlier how Pooja takes away Nisha when Kailasnath and Siddharth Choudhary are talking for the first time. It requires that you not watch the active characters (those who are speaking), and pay attention to the other characters to notice this.

Tuffy needs special mention. The dog’s actions have a role in the movie. He is not just a pet, he is a member of the plot (and the family)! It is important that Tuffy be present when Prem gifts the necklace to Nisha. He is the witness. Tuffy’s acting is simply fascinating!

The movie contains plentiful of every character. You want to watch Madhuri Dixit, you may do so; in clear light, for long enough time, without the alterations caused by special effects, and without the distractions caused by loud “background” music. This is true about all actors. Rajesh does not open the vital letter three times, Nisha does not express shock when she knows who she is marrying by moving her head three times! All the emphasis comes from subtleties, facial expressions and background sound (that never invades into spoken dialog).

I am overwhelmed by what I have noticed; not to mention what I have not noticed! I shall never know if each of these observations is true, in the sense that were these subtleties intentionally added. But if they were, it must have taken enormous concentration on the part of the actors, the director and the script writer to not miss out on any of the fine details. Many people feel that the movie progresses through the songs. I feel, it does so more through non-verbal communication and subtle actions. Of course, the songs are an essential part of the movie and add to the overall appeal of the movie. But they are not all. There is a lot of appeal in the other part of the movie too!

Just to add one more observation, Nisha never calls out Prem’s name. The only time we hear the word “Prem” in her voice is through the letter she writes to him!

The movie is available for free viewing and paid download at Rajshri Production‘s website. It is also available from YouTube


I had originally posted this story on my googlepages on Feb 09, 2008 at http://ashutoshdhekne.googlepages.com/humaapkehainkoun

Hard Disk Idea

January 15, 2008

I just thought of building a novel Hard disk with no moving components at all!

Each platter will have another platter on top of it with an circular-array of heads mounted on it. So now, nothing moves! The heads are only electronically switched on and off to read from or write to the disk. Wouldn’t it be a fantastic and elegant solution? No more head crash and no more motors! This translates to a very reliable system and a low powered one too. Caching becomes far easier and scheduling algorithms like SCAN and C-SCAN are not required (some others will be required in its place, though).

Of course holding the entire platter of heads just above the magnetic platter is very difficult, but now we can actually support the head platter at the landing zone.

I would like to hear from my readers about this idea.

Making Google Better

December 29, 2007

What do we have to offer to a company as big as Google? A lot. In fact, as a proficient and able user of their services, I feel, we should not let any of our brilliant ideas go waste. It may help us lead a more comfortable life. Comfort and laziness should be topics of another blog entry, which is why I shall not dwell anymore on them here.

Coming to my idea. I would like to suggest Google to create a pseudo file system for every Gmail account. All attachments may be listed as a directory structure and also linked to the respective message. Same attachment coming from different mails can thus be stored only once. A unique advantage of this is advanced search possibilities. Files can be easily searched based on their type and content in addition to their natural linkage to the mail they come from. I have received a lot of forwarded messages from my friends who do not find it necessary to write the relevant words in the accompanying mail or the subject line (despite my pleadings to refrain from such idiocy). The attachment thus is the only object of interest.

This brings me to another idea. I would like to be able to link an attachment through my googlepages web pages to be viewed by the outside world. This saves me from redundant uploads and saves space. With attachments stored in a directory structure and accessible across Google products (maybe also Google Talk), their value is enhanced.

My guests at hostel

June 6, 2007

All characters and incidents in this story are a work of fiction.

I felt bad. I had kept them in my hostel room for almost a month now and had grown used to their presence. Random surprise raids are really terrible. And, why did Prof. Choudhary have to start from my room? With even a couple of minutes of intimation, I could have hid them somewhere.

But now, I had an angry warden at hand who almost never thought that I could do such a thing. I pleaded for giving me some time till they find a new home, “Without me, where will they go?” At last he held up his index finger and said, “One day. Tomorrow evening I will come and check again. They must be gone by that time, and no tricks with me. Okay?” Was that supposed to be a question? In the school, I had heard the phrase “rhetorical question”. The answer is not expected, it is assumed. And in this case, it was assumed in the affirmative.

Prof. Choudhary did not venture in other people’s rooms and did not check the toilets. He just called off the raid and went back to his own room. But he had left me worried—not only about myself, but also about two other lives. I rapidly banished the possibility of treachery and attributed this to luck alone. After all, everyone who knew about them was fond of them and I knew none who were jealous. Anyways, I had a problem at hand, and it had to be solved quickly. No one else would dare to keep them for fear of being caught. I wanted to put off the problem till tomorrow but could hardly sleep.

I woke up early in the morning with at least a handful of incomplete dreams and that gave me awful eyes and a temper that was hanging by the thinnest string you may know. I thought of visiting my favorite spot at the Vihar Lake. This particular spot had soothed me for so many times now, that I had come to associate it with mental turmoil. “How contrary,” my thoughts drifted as I thought about it. “It has always clamed me down, and still I associate it with the saddest moments I had in this place. Why can’t I just remember the fond outcome and not the chaos of thought that I invariably have when I am going to that spot…”

Staring at the lake, I knew I was looking at their probable new home. They may have to be let off into the lake—a much bigger expanse of water than my glass bowl, but also a riskier one. It is not perfectly safe for a couple of guppies in such a lake. I was sad, but had to do it. I went back to my room and wanted to have a good look at the pair for the last time. When I will empty the bowl, I shall invariably close my eyes, so this would be the last time I would really be looking at them. Grown accustomed to my presence, they could sense me looking at them, and as usual, thought that I was going to feed them. Absent mindedly, I picked up the fish-food bottle and was just going to open it when I saw the characteristic black spot near the tail of the female. I have seen it so many times from my childhood, but the gripping joy that I feel when I first notice it has never reduced.

She was pregnant. No. I cannot leave her in the Vihar Lake in such a situation. I thought of a clean plan. I could cheat no more, but could easily gain the confidence of the warden to keep my fish some more time. I took out one of the best paper sheets I had. It was an “Executive Bond” plain paper. With no lines to guide my hand the so-called letter to the warden became so badly written that I had to tear it off. Consequently, I picked up a new bond paper sheet, and pinned a ruled sheet beneath it. With the lines visible, the letter was better looking. It read:

Ashutosh Dhekne
Hostel 11-A
Date: July 06, 2007

Subject: Inability to let go of my fish.

To,
The Warden,
Hostel 11-A

Respected Sir,

It has come to my notice only today morning that the female Guppy (fish) is pregnant. I consider it grossly unethical not to tender utmost care and proper feeding to her at such a crucial time.

According to my experience and study, the gestation period of Guppies varies from 28 days to 40 days. It will be, hence, not possible to immediately carry out your orders as to release of my fish. May I request you to please relax your orders?

In good faith,
Ashutosh Dhekne.

Snuggled in a modest looking white envelope, this paper lay at the bottom of the postbox at Prof. Choudhary’s gate. He has requested all inmates of the hostel to deposit their requests and concerns in that box. In the morning before leaving his home, he always checks that box. I did not know what would be the consequences of my actions and was nervous the whole day. I did not answer any questions put to us in the class, and my gloomy behavior was attributed to the loss of my fish. Till this time, all were aware that I had kept them in my room and was caught in a surprise raid. Some of my friends tried to console me and I smiled ruefully at them.

Prof. Choudhary was furious. In the evening, when I saw him coming to my room, I quickly opened the door, saw the white letter in his hand, my envelope ripped open rather disgracefully, and invited him with a smile. “Look at her. The babies are very tiny currently, but they will soon grow up and you will see a substantial increase in the size of her belly.” I was going to play the game to its fullest. “How many years have you had fish?” Prof. Choudhary was softening, rather quickly, I thought, and it was a good sign. “When I was in the forth standard, my brother gave me a pair of Guppies. They died in a couple of weeks, but my enthusiasm only grew stronger. I soon persuaded my parents to buy me more fish and this time, could keep them for about 4 months.” I could go on with this story of mine for about half an hour more, but Prof. was in no mood to hear me out. He waved my letter in front of me and said, “Let all this be true, or else, you are in a fix, my boy.” I was getting slightly amused since it meant that I could surely keep my fish, at least for some time now. Soon, when the baby fish are delivered, I would have a bigger problem at hand. Also, if my judgment was proven wrong, and the babies never materialized, I would be in a bad shape.

When I told this to my friends, they thought I fooled Prof. Choudhary. Well, I genuinely thought she was pregnant. I was correct. In a month’s time, I had about 35 baby fish swimming in another bowl! Prof. Choudhary got the wind of it, but never turned up. It seems he developed some respect for my feelings for the fish. I was wondering if I could raise another family of “Sunrise Moley” this time…

I had originally posted this story on my googlepages on June 06, 2007 at http://ashutoshdhekne.googlepages.com/myguestsathostel