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24th Jul, 2008

LJ Bleg

A number of you have been cribbing that you won't be able to see my posts anymore on your LJ friends' pages, and have been asking me to continue blogging here also.

Here is an elegant solution to this problem. LJ Paid Account users are allowed to syndicate non-LJ feeds. I assume some of you people have a paid LJ account. If you do, I request you to syndicate the feed to my new blog (http://feeds.feedburner.com/noenthuda) and then leave the link to the syndicated feed in the comments here.

Then, all of you can add that syndicated feed as your friend on LJ and you can continue reading me on your LJ friend pages.

Update:
Thanks to manubhardwaj for doing the needful. I request you to subscribe to this feed: </a></b></a>noenthuda
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22nd Jul, 2008

I have moved

My new blog can be found at http://blog.noenthuda.com

Subscribe to feeds here

There is also a new Twisted shout blog: http://twistedshout.noenthuda.com

You can subscribe to those feeds here
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Goodbye LJ

It's been almost four years here. It was on the 27th of July 2004 that I put my first ever post on LJ, moving it from my earlier blog which was on blogger. It was the network effect at work - a large number of my friends were on LJ, and with its "community feel", friends lists,  threaded comments, etc. LJ was really comfortable.

For the first few months, this blog was fairly quiet. There would be the odd post, which would get one or two comments. For almost a year, maybe there were only a handful of readers. And then joblessness during the second half of my internship at JP Morgan meant that this journal took off. When I look back, what I wrote in those days was hardly spectacular. However, I was prolific. And my initial set of readers, who were moslty batchmates from IIM, were also fairly jobless at their own internships, and thus I had a good and regular readership.

The fourth term at IIMB was a bit hectic, so blogging took a bit of a back seat, but I was soon back to my prolific best. There were a couple of seminal posts that I put around this time, one about a girl I saw during a Landmark quiz, and another about what I now call the Petromax Principle. These and a few other posts got links from desipundit (which was a big thing for me in those days) and the general readership of this journal also went up.

Soon, I started being known from the blog. Whenever I told people that I was Wimpy/SKimpy, "oh I read your blog" was a common reply. I felt quite proud when, once, I was walking down a lonely road in Jayanagar and one guy came up to me and said he reads my blog. Some random guy who I had never met before.

For these last four years, LJ has been an excellent platform for me to communicate. However, sometimes, I have felt it to be a bit too constraining in a number of matters. I have postponed this decision several times, but I think this was going to happen - I'm going to move to my own site. That site is still under construction, though I hope to have it ready by the end of the day today, and I'll let you know about it. I hope, and expect, that you will continue to read my stuff.

There is another little announcement. Also starting today is a group blog. This will also be hosted on my new site, and I'll be writing this along with Kodhi and sw_aadisht . I have a feeling that those of you who enjoy the posts tagged "arbit" on this blog will enjoy those posts too. I'll be back later today with details regarding these announcements.
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19th Jul, 2008

Limiting the number of terms

I read somewhere that the US president does little bold work during his first term as his sole intention at that point of time is to get re-elected. In his second term, however, he tends to take more risks and make bold decisions, for he knows that he can never be re-elected.

I was wondering what would be the consequences if we limited the number of terms for chief ministers and prime ministers in India to two. And this limit will stay irrespective of the lengths of the government. So irrespective of whether you've been CM for five days or five years, you've exhausted one of your chances, and you have one more.

In order to be fair to people who have been in power for a number of terms now, we can say something like their current term is counted as their first in this regard, and hence they have only one more turn left at leading their respective governments. However, there is no limit on the number of terms they can work as a normal representative.

One fallout of this - I think - is horse trading and formation of minority governments will come down. If you want to form a government that may not run it's full term, a number of leaders may not want to lead it for the fear that one of their turns will get over very quickly. There will also be less of this tamasha that usually happens where central leadership keeps changing the chief minister to suit its whims. I don't know how much of the 'bold decisions' will get taken for even if the chief minister can't be elected again, most people in his cabinet will be hoping to become CM the next time round and will want to keep electoral chances in mind.

However, the problem is in bringing in this rule. Looking at the number of parties that have a "supreme leader" ideology, it is hard to see any of them supporting this kind of a rule - for that might go on to clip the wings of their supreme leader and so on. Of course - they too can work around this by institutionalizing the concept of O Panneerselvam. However, it's unlikely any non-cadre based parties (= left and BJP) is going to support this kind of a thing.
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18th Jul, 2008

K Serials

Many people may claim many different things, but I think the main motivation for people to watch so many soaps is schadenfreude.

  • Why do you think most characters in soaps are shown leading such miserable lives? I mean not miserable in the material sense, but everyone seems to have one problem or the other.
  • Assuming that people who watch soaps, on the average, lead not-so-happy lives, I can't think of any reason why they will want to worsen their state of mind by bringing in more negative thoughts - if anything, by indulging in activities classified as "entertainment" you are supposed to be looking to lighten up your mind blah blah
The only other explanation I can think of is that all these soaps are part of some elaborate joke, and avid watchers are silently giggling as they watch these soaps. That they don't want to let their secret away so they give reasons such as "it reflects life so we love it" and all such.

On Caste and the Gentleman Class

Some 3-4 days back, I wrote a post in the Indian Economy Blog with a conjecture as to why India never got an overwhelming "gentleman class" in the way that European countries did. I forgot to cross post it here back then, so I'm doing it now.

Actually, when I posted this I wasn't even sure if it would be appropriate for the IEB. I'm not sure even now - given that this isn't something that is of direct consequence to the economy. Nevertheless, I thought it might be interesting to the readers of the IEB and I could concoct some kind of a connection with the Indian Economy if questioned so I put it there anyways. I'm copypasting the post here.

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17th Jul, 2008

Commie uncle and family

This blog post is about a relative of mine, who, for purposes of this blog post, shall be called "Commie Uncle". That name is intentional, for he is surely a commie. Ages back, he managed to land himself a PSU job with the help of a recommendation from his cousin's wife's cousin's girlfriend's cousin's uncle. And no sooner had he got his appointment, he became prominent in the union, and started fighting against the very person who had recommended him for that job. About four years back, he had visited us, jubilant in the knowledge that the left would play a major part in the UPA government. My father and I had tried to drill sense into his head, but not to much avail.

Actually this post is not so much about Commie Uncle (I have told most of his life's story in the first paragraph) but about his wife, who, for the sake of convenience of nomenclature, we shall call "Commie Aunty" for the rest of this post. I don't know her political views, I'm not even sure if she has one, for I know that they've never subscribed to a newspaper. But "Commie Aunty" seems like a convenient name which will not end up confusing the reader.  If you can look at this post as a case - of the types that is discussed in MBA classrooms - let me tell you that the question posed at the end will be "What should Commie Aunty do?". Even if you don't like MBA-type cases, you might want to read on. And despite the tone of the post so far, let me assure you that this is a serious post.

What should we use as the risk-free rate

The cost of credit default swaps (CDSs) for 10 year US Treasury bonds have reached an all-time high, trading at as high as 24 basis points. In this regard, what should we use as the risk-free rate?

Traditionally yield on government bonds has been used as the risk-free rate. But when the government bonds are themselves not really risk-free (as the CDS rates show), what should we use? One measure I can think of is to use the yield on treasuries and subtract the CDS price from it.

Of course, this method assumes that the CDS on the government bonds has been priced properly by the market. Can you let me know how we can do better?
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16th Jul, 2008

Regarding the Kumble controversy

Last week, Kumble was issued a notice by the BCCI for talking to the media about selection committee meetings. Kumble's "crime" was telling the Mumbai Mirror that he insisted on two specialist keepers in the party.

Leaving the controversy alone, my hunch is that the selectors might have insisted on Parthiv Patel being the lone keeper on tour, thanks to his excellent batting in the last Ranji championship (albeit in the Plate League). Even if Patel has improved, the only thing Kumble remembers of him I think is the Sydney test in 2004, when he kept missing stumping after easy stumping, which was ultimately partly responsible for India failing to win the test and the series (Bucknor was the other reason).

In contrast, even if he gave away a record number of byes in his last test, Dinesh Kaarthick has generally kept well to Kumble and co. The general opinion is that he's a better keeper than Dhoni, who usually gets the nod for his superior batting. I remember that during the last tour of England, every day Siddhartha Vaidyanathan used to write an article in Cricinfo demanding that Dhoni be dropped.

It is quite clear that Kumble significantly prefers Kaarthick's keeping to Patel's, and Kaarthick is also a competent batsman having played a significant number of his tests as a specialist batsman. And when the selectors wanted to pick Patel over him, Kumble reasoned that the best way to keep Patel outside of the area behind the stumps was to also get in Kaarthick into the squad.
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The economics of motorcycle maintenance

Yesterday I gave my old bike for servicing. It was in such bad shape that for a while I was worried that the cost of servicing would be greater than the salvage value of the bike. This morning, when I went to pick it up, I was pleased to see that the bill came up to Rs. 445 only. The first thing I did after that was to ask the mechanic how much I could get if I were to sell my bike. And he started laughing loudly.

He then told me that I was lucky that most of the problems with my bike were easily fixable, and minor, since it's impossible to get components nowadays. It is a Kinetic Challenger - the first ever bike released by Kinetic. My parents had gifted this to me in 2001 at the time of my thread ceremony, and the reason this bike was chosen ahead of the Splendor, the Victor and a couple of others was mainly because of its looks. In every other department, it seemed to be below par. And every time someone asked me what bike I had, I had to spend ten minutes convincing them that the Kinetic Challenger was a real bike and not an ungeared scooter.

The mechanic then took me inside the garage and showed me another kinetic bike that had come to him. It was some GF125 or some such thing. One of those snazzy looking things that cost upward of Rs. 80,000. It had been lying in the garage for a year and a half it seems, for want of spare parts to repair it. The mechanic went on about various other bike models that were once THE hot thing. For most of these, spare parts are extremely tough to find nowadays, and the cost of maintenance is really high. He told me this was the case with all non-Pulsar Bajaj models, most Yamaha models and many more, not to mention all Kinetic models.

One major problem with the large number of bikes being released in the last few years is that production for the not-so-really-successful models stop a couple of years after they are released. And with that, they also stop making spares for these models, thus significantly pushing up the costs of maintenance of these bikes.

To put it in other words, there is a chance that the cost of maintenance for a bike can suddenly shoot up, if the manufacturer decides on not making them any more. Hence, when you go out to buy a bike, you need to be reasonably confident that it is going to be a successful model, in order to keep maintenance costs low. So it really makes sense for you to go for popular and already successful models. What this shows is that it may not be so obvious, but network effects are definitely there when it comes to automobiles.

Before I left, I told the mechanic that my next bike is likely to be an Enfileld. "Enfield will always be Royal, Sir", shouted one junior mechanic who was working on the adjacent bike. "Definitely buy that and get rid of this jalopy".

15th Jul, 2008

Russian Mags

Long ago, Soviet Russia decided that a good way for them to propagate propaganda in India would be to distribute magazines at subsidized rates. My father had taken the bait and subscribed to all such magazines available - Soviet Union, Soviet Woman and Misha. All of them were available at dirt-cheap rates (don't exactly remember them). It was so cheap that buying the magazines and giving them to the raddiwala was almost a profitable business.

This is the extent to which the Russians went to propagate their propaganda. And sadly, in those days, the world was yet to hear about anti-dumping duties.

For some reason, I never liked these magazines. My father would sit with me and make me read Misha. He would help me set up and play some of the games mentioned in that. Even then, I never managed to appreciate the magazine, and most of it went straight into the raddiwala's hands. However, given the extremely low cost, my father didn't particularly mind.

It was a jobless summer afternoon - as jobless as you would expect a seven-year-old kid without siblings during summer vacations would be. The postman had just dropped off the post - two fairly heavy books. The latest editions of "Soviet Union" and "Soviet Woman". I don't clearly remember, but looking back, it seems like I wasn't in a terribly good mood that afternoon. And so I set to work.

I decided to tear the two magazines to pieces. Each and every page of them. I tore it out carefully from the book, and using my hands, tore each page into innumerable shreds. I must have either had tremendous determination, or tremendous patience, or both, for these books were fairly big. However, I diligently sat down and did my job. And I wouldn't budge until I was done with each and every page.

I think seven (or maybe I was eight then, but I tend to believe I was seven. Even my super-strong long-term memory can't  give me a clue on this) years is an early age to display your political leanings. However, watching me having diligently and efficiently torn down the Soviet Union and Soviet Woman to pieces, I think my parents were convinced that I'd grow up to be a right winger.

Shortly after this incident, I was taken to a field near my house and enrolled into the RSS.

on job hunting

I'm very suspicious about job openings which say "CA/MBA". I get the feeling they are looking for fighters only, with not much requirement for much intelligence on the job.
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14th Jul, 2008

The difference between Taleb and McKenzie

A few minutes back I finished reading Richard McKenzie's Why popcorn costs so much at the movies and other pricing puzzles. Since the book is not available in India, I managed to procure an online pirated version through a friend. And since the book isn't released in India, I didn't feel guilty about reading the pirated version.

Coming to the point of this post, I found the book a bit of a bore because I thought I knew most of the stuff already. McKenzie has done a good job of tying things together and classifying stuff, but the core concepts that he discusses in the book are nothing new. I now wonder if through regular reading of blogs such as Marginal Revolution and Econlog, I've outgrown the popular economics genre. Of course it is a good thing if I have - since that shows I understand more than I used to. But clearly, I need to update my reading preferences. I've got A Farewell to Alms lined up, again thanks to the same friend, and hopefully that should be more insightful.

Now, really coming to why I'm comparing Taleb and McKenzie. The similarity is that both their books didn't have too much more to offer. Just took a set of concepts that I already knew and understood, applied some kind of a framework (actually McKenzie's book doesn't have much of a framework) and compiled the stuff. Both authors' books didn't offer too much more new stuff to me, but only reinforced what I already knew. I, however, ended up really loving Taleb's works (in fact I read The Black Swan twice), while I don't seem to have really liked Popcorn.

The difference, I think, is in the kind of issues that they tackle. From my perspective at least, Taleb tackles what I call "deeper stuff". Stuff that explain things about life, etc. On the other hand, McKenzie takes the concept of pricing - a concept that I'm really interested in but not something I'd classify as "deep". I would rather do with reinforcement of my beliefs in stuff like randomness and other things mentioned in Taleb's books, than I would with pricing. The latter makes me feel good by telling me that I do know what I claim to know. The former reinforces certain "basic ideas" and principles which I had begun to doubt on more than one occasion.

The main reason I liked Taleb's works, I think, is because they filled me with a broader sense of confidence compared to McKenzie's stuff.

Coming back to Popcorn, as I mentioned earlier, it doesn't seem very well compiled. It seems more like a collection of huge blog posts. I sometimes wonder if it requires 300 pages to communicate what the book does, but that is fodder for another post. And I'm not even sure if I'd recommend the book to you.

13th Jul, 2008

Computer Science and Economics

Left-wing economics is idealistic, and the basic assumption is that everyone is a good guy, and he will work in the best interests of the system.

On the other hand, the basic assumption behind right-wing economics is that everyone is inherently a bad guy, and will work only for his own benefit. Hence, systems have to be devised so as to align a person's selfish interests with the system's interests.

To put it in other words, left-wing stuff is ideal. It assumes best case performance, or marginally below best case performance, from all players in the system. Similarly, in assuming that everyone has only a selfish motive, right-wing economics does what can be called a worst-case design.

Training in Computer Science inherently teaches you to think about the worst-case possibilities in everything.

In this context, isn't it  surprising that so many people from a computer science background are leftist?

12th Jul, 2008

My Dear Brothers and Sisters of America

I have a proposal to make. If you are visiting Bangalore soon that is. As you might have figured out from reading my blog, a large number of books that I want to read aren't available in India. I can ask a bookshop here to import it from the US but that would make the books prohibitively expensive, much more than my willingness to pay.

I notice on Amazon that there are "used and new" books also available for sale, at a cheaper price. Something like a second hand market. And I notice that a number of books are priced very reasonably in that. Unfortunately, delivery for these is only within the US. This is where I need your help.

I will order the books and give your address. You will need to ferry these books to India for me. Of course I know that you usually come back with your suitcases loaded, with gifts and chocolates for cousins up to four steps removed. In the middle of that if you can squeeze in two or three books, please let me know.

The ideal case for me would be to burden each of you with exactly one book. However, the free shipping of Amazon kicks in only when I'm buying a few books. Hence, you'll be saddled with more than one book. Actually, I wonder if we could work out a mechanism where my books and your books can be ordered together, so as to get the free shipping, and then you can ship my books to India.

As for payment, well, I don't know how well this will work but I have this mechanism. I'll order the books much before you leave the shores of the US. Even otherwise, you have a long plane journey to endure on the way here. By carrying my book, you will get the opportunity to read it. I don't know if I'm a good recommender of books. Nevertheless, I think you should find some useful stuff in these books.

If you can't leave a comment here, mail me at skthewimp [at] yahoo [dot] com

11th Jul, 2008

When I went to watch a Hindi movie

So on Wednesday I watched a Hindi movie in a theatre after a gap of a year and three months. The previous time too, Ashwin was with me, though the rest of the personnel were disjoint. Anuroop also joined us this time, before he embarks on a mission to sell phones in the seven hills. I had seen Baradwaj Rangan's positive review of Jaane tu ya jaane na and wanted to see it. And given that there was no other half-decent movie around, we decided to go.


I checked my credit card details online in order to find out if indeed only one set of tickets had been booked. To my horror, I found that I've been charged for the tickets THRICE. It seems like it will be a long battle with the Fame and ICICI guys, before I manage to get back my Rs. 900. I've written to customer care at fame, but don't really know how to take this forward. Can someone put fundaes on this?

10th Jul, 2008

The Fourth Bangalore PhotoWalk



Date: 27th July, 2008
Starting time: 8 am
Starting point: Alankar Plaza, Kempe Gowda Road, Gandhinagar, Bangalore 560009
Ending time: Approximately 10:30 am
Ending point: Malleswaram Circle


View Larger Map

Hope to meet you people there. In any case, let me know if you are coming. And spread word.

9th Jul, 2008

Billing rates

When I got my house painted three months back, the head painter suggested a new method of calculating his fees. Instead of charging by the man hour, which is how usually painters are charged, this guy proposed that we pay him by the square foot. Once all the work was done, he and I together measured up our house, and calculated his fee based on that.

And he had different slabs of rates, depending on whether we were using a single or a double coat, and there was a different rate for windows and grill work (there's a lot of those in my house). This method of fee calculation was extremely convenient from my perspective as I didn't have to run after the painters and make sure they were working. In the traditional model of hourly payment, you need to run after the workers and make sure they are working. If they take a tea break, they are wasting your money. If they are doing something slowly, again you are at a loss.

By hiring someone on a per man hour basis, what you are doing is to assume the risk of the fellow's performance. You are effectively hiring a guy who you know little about and paying him by the hour. You have little idea as to what he can do in that time. You can't do anything if he is too slow - he might just tell you that it is his natural speed. Time overruns in the project will result in cost overruns. All this forces you to micro-manage the entire project, and personally keep tab on the workers.

8th Jul, 2008

Munger on urban transportation

The latest podcast on Econtalk has Duke economist Mike Munger talking about public transport, and how things have changed for the worse in Santiago after public transport was nationalized.

One of the points mentioned in the podcast talks about homogeneity in services after nationalization. Munger talks about how usage of the public transport system dropped after nationalization and people started using their cars much more. The reason, he mentions, is that earlier there were different classes of service. But the current left-of-center government decided that everyone has to travel in the same way and so the class system in buses was abolished.

This reminds me of my first ever post on the Indian Economy Blog, where I had argued that the Volvo buses in Bangalore should remain out of reach of most people. I had argued that keeping it expensive would also keep it more exclusive - which was a quality that people who would otherwise travel in airconditioned cars were looking for. It sounded quite brash, but it is the truth - "exclusivity" is a major factor that goes in to the "comfort" factor (I'm not sure if i've blogged it, but the three main considerations for choice of transport are cost, time and comfort).

7th Jul, 2008

the hybrid pen

Back when I was in school, my father brought me two "Hero" pens. One brown and one green. Soon enough, the barrel of the brown pen was broken, and the nib of the green pen followed presently. I put made use of what was later to be called as 'Genetic Algorithms' and continued working. I don't know what I did with the spare cap though. The cap was once shiny gold in colour, but through constant biting and chewing, it's become quite dull now.

Two years later, I decided to classify this pen as my "lucky pen", based on one data point. I had used it to write my IIT JEE. Everything I did that day became lucky. The navy blue shirt. MES College. The breakfast (onion upma). The car in which I traveled to the venue. The Sankey tank route to Malleswaram. All based on just one data point. It was some eight years before I read Taleb.

6th Jul, 2008

Ranting and cribbing

Ok i've talked about this before. When you rant, you do so mostly to feel better. Get things out of your system. Just get rid of some trash so that you can structure the rest of your thoughts. And so all you need is a listener. A counterparty. A good listener. And it's done. I'm not saying it's easy to find a good listener. Those types are hard to come by. But it's mostlty a generalist's job. Whether you are pissed about your job or with your girlfriend or with the Prime Minister, and you want to rant, you need not find a different person for each!

Cribbing, as I'd mentioned earlier, is much harder. You need to find the right people to crib to. You need to organize your thoughts. You need to be able to ask the right questions. And you need to interpret people's vague answers and figure out the component of their answer along the direction of your question. And then fit it back into the larger question.

Cribbing is also an art. First you need to find the right counterparty. Next, you need to make it clear to the other person that you are cribbing and not ranting, and so you need a solution. Then, as I mentioned in the last paragraph, you need to give the crib a good structure. And you should be able to objectively ask those right questions without letting your emotions and feelings come in the way. You should get over all those "I don't want to pain this person with my rant" kind of feelings and think you're just asking the other person for some specific help.

From a macro perspective, you need to keep separate accounts of rants and cribs. People are more likely to get cheesed of if you rant to them (unless of course they are close to you etc.) but not so much if you crib - I'm mostly talking about bad listeners (which is most of the people) here. If you are cribbing, the structure in your questions and statements helps the other person and it won't be too heavy on them. also, they have something to do in the whole buisness -  to think of a solution, rather than to just sit and listen, so it's more enjoyable for them.

Sometimes when I feel like cribbing to someone I feel "ok i've been cribbing to this person a lot nowadays and he/she may not like it". I need to figure out if I'm going to rant or crib, and also filter the historical data on this parameter. And then apply the rule I put above. It's going to lead to a much more optimal solution.

The journey back home

It was almost 945 when I started back from the MG Road area this evening. The day travel card I had bought earlier was in my right knee pocket. I heard some people at the Chinnaswamy Stadium bus stop complain that there hadn't been a bus that way for a very long time. Bus number 20 presently arrived, but couldn't reach the stop due to the pile-up of traffic from the signal at the Mahatma Gandhi circle. I ran back towards the bus and was lucky to find the doors open.

The new BMTC bus stand in Shantinagar seems to be a major churning point. More than half the people in the bus got down over there (thus ensuring I had a place to sit) and a similar number quickly got in. I think more bus interchanges should be encouraged at this stop. In fact, this is better than Majestic or Market as a hub, since it will be a dedicated hub without being an origin or destination.

I got off at Lalbagh main gate, hoping to catch either 12B which would drop me at Deve Gowda petrol bunk, or some bus that would deposit me at the Ramakrishna Ashram. I found neither. I ended up in a Janapriya Vahini no. 2 which I planned to take till fifth block. By observing the crowd at the bus stop in fourth block, I learned that there hadn't been a bus towards my area for a long time. And I started wondering why none of them practised bus hopping.

Yet another bus later, I was at the Banashankari bus station, which is something like a black hole for buses late in the night. Buses arrived, unloaded all their passengers and parked for the night. Nothing was leaving the bus stand. Nothing in the general direction of Kathriguppe at least. Road works at the Kadirenahalli cross also meant that I didn't really know where to stand. It wouldn't have mattered since no bus was leaving the stand.

It was the first time in ages that I saw auto drivers competing to ferry me home. Some three of them seemed keen, and all of them offered to ferry me at 1.5 times the meter - which is the regulated late night rate. They resolved the fight quickly and I was soon in an autorickshaw. Rupees forty from Banashankari Bus Station to Kathriguppe. Earlier in the day it had been rupees thirty from Kathriguppe to M G Road and back to Banashankari Bus Station. As i keep saying, choice of mode of transport is made keeping in mind cost, time and convenience.

4th Jul, 2008

Asking for help

Sometimes I'm a bit hesitant to get back in touch with old acquaintances when I need a favour from them. I begin to wonder if they'll think of me as one of those "duhkh mein sumiran sab karein... " types. And sometimes I think ten times before mailing or calling them.

But then, I remember that I too keep getting lots of similar calls or emails. From old acquaintances who I haven't kept in touch with for ages. And every time, if I'm in a position to help out the other person, I do so. When I think about this, just like it is supposed to happen with Gandhiji's talisman, my doubts and myself melt away.

This reminds me of this batchmate at IIMB. Occasionally, you would get letters from her. Stuff like
Hi Wimpy!
How are you? How are you doing?
Hope you did yesterday's exam well.
What did you have for dinner?

Regards,
@#$*!%
And it is an indication that she wants some help from you. For I had noticed that otherwise she would be very direct and to the point!

And in my experience so far, if you are trying to get in touch with someone after a long time (to ask for a favour of course), you shouldn't apologize for not keeping touch or any such naatak. Just get to the point. Actually a subject line of "need help" is even better.

Let me know what you think of this.
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Contradiction

It was only when udupendrapointed out last week that I realized that "Theory Lab" sounds somewhat self-contradictory.

Conflicting signals

Yesterday, my gym installed a TV set in front of each treadmill. Nice looking LG flatscreen TVs. One in front of each treadmill. Each treadmill now has a remote control which is supposed to control the TV in front of it. Now, the thing is all TVs are of the same brand, and space constraints mean that the treadmills (and consequently the TVs) are very close to each other.

Which means that each remote not only controls your own TV, but your neighbors' TVs also! Much hilarity happens due to this. Say your neighbour will want to go ahead by two channels. Your TV will end up going forward too by the same amount. And you could face the prospect of say watching Aastha while working out on the treadmill.

Something like that happened yesterday and I decided to switch off my TV - it was too distracting. And off went both my neighbours' TVs! I'm sure this concept of TVs in front of treadmills is going to improve the fun factor at the gym, and also make sure people in adjacent treadmills start talking to each other, etc.

All this aside, another issue is that it's a 20 inch TV three feet in front of you. It's like watching a movie from Gandhi Class.
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