Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Don't Dream It's Over

A wise guy once said - "Don't write crap when you can write better". Being the fool I am, I have chosen to chuck those words of wisdom down the garbage chute and come up with some trash so as to earn some well deserved curses, slangs, and abuses. I just couldn't help it fellas. I know I have to write something when instead of dozing off, I think of getting hold of pen and paper and coming up with some fancy introduction to an even jazzier post. Not that I usually end up doing that. Sleep is too expensive a commodity to be trifled with over such whims.

Coming back to more familiar grounds. As some of you might be knowing, I am currently interning in Mysore under the aegis of University of California, Berkeley. My work involves serving as a researcher in a project named MILLEE (Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies). The project seeks to promote English Language Literacy in developing regions through mobile technology (read games, applications etc etc that can be deployed on mobile platforms like cellphones). As a part of the MILLEE team, I have had the fortune of being mentored by an extraordinary doctoral student, Matthew Kam, whose brainchild is known to us all as MILLEE.

MILLEE, a name with which 8 guys have become synonymous with over the past 4 weeks. A name that seeks to bring a change. A name that changes the people it touches. Okay, as usual, maybe I went overboard. But the fact of the matter is, MILLEE seeks to cater to the impoverished section of our society. And that is reason enough that it should get all the support we can muster. It is always a good feeling to be helping out the needy. I can vouch for that from experience of working with village kids for two consecutive summers now.

But working our asses off (if only sometimes) doesn't mean MILLEE is all about work and no play. Neither am I. So when on one hand we spend entire nights deploying the apps on 20 highly irritating Motorola Razr cellies, we also go biking on Wednesdays up the Chamundi Hills (OK well maybe not all Wednesdays). Then there are the unrelenting sessions of leg-pulling, jokes, and Davidisms that keep all of us on our toes. All sane mortals here very wisely choose to ignore the steady stream of PJs coming from a direction named Anuj 'The Graduate' Tewari. Not included in this category is Anuzz 'Chiku' Kumar, who manages to fall over himself on hearing the silliest of jokes.

Recently, that is last Sunday, the entire team went around Mysore, visiting the regal Mysore Place, followed by a session of some kick-ass amateur bowling. All of us were bowling for the first time and I almost managed to kill a guy by hurling the bowl thingie as high as it would go. Anuj (Tewari that is) managed to steal the show by snatching victory from Jacek aka Kebab through the very last throw. I very conveniently finished last, just behind Chepu Champ, Mathurz. Aish 'Hadd' Aunty somehow managed to perform spectacularly even though he was bowling and cell-phoning at the same time. I tried to goad him into telling me the secret of his multitasking capabilities. But he has, so far, refrained from letting out any secrets.

That is the story till now (only the rosy parts of course). Let's see how things develop. As and when they do, I'll make sure to keep you buggers posted. As of now, the coding team has to get cracking on its next assignment - the second set of prototypes that need to be demoed to some MicroSoft guy named Don Williams. Till next time, all you hudugas and hudugis keep commenting on the damn posts.

P.S: Oh Yeah! I almost forgot. We had Akshaye Kumar (yeah the dude in the damn Khiladi movies) shooting right in front of our farmhouse. He was there shooting for some crappy Priyadarshan movie called Bhool Bhullaiya.

Monday, June 11, 2007


And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
Was the hardest part

And the strangest thing
Was waiting for that bell to ring
It was the strangest start

And I tried to sing
But I couldn’t think of anything
And that was the hardest part

Everything I know is wrong
Everything I do, it's just comes undone
And everything is torn apart

- The Hardest Part, Coldplay

It's not that I am feeling particularly melancholic or anything. It's just that I wanted to write about something, anything, and what better way to start off then Coldplay. Okay. Agreed. Not all of you have heard of them. But music's something that doesn't need acceptance from others. If you really feel the beats of Hip-Hop, the sugary voice of Spice Girls, the death notes of Heavy Metal, or the falsetto of Chris Martin, then it is as good as any other kind of music the purists might propagandize. So let the music play. Let the others go and funk themselves.

Moving over to lesser abstract subjects. The Mysore Mein Mangal thingie. Oh yeah fellas. It feels good to be working again. Especially when you get a chance like this. Lovely environ. No sweaty bus rides to the school we visit almost every weekday. Instead, we work (or more precisely code) from a 5 acre farmhouse that has all the necessary amenities to keep us smiling contently. Then there is the excitement of actually seeing your khoon-paseene ka kaam being tested in the field. Kids going gung-ho over silly games that you have designed for them. Matt coming up with ever more beta-test defects in your applications. The 4 programmers + Content Developer + Logistician taking it all in their spirit. Yeah, it's good to be working again. And I am not exaggerating.

The best part of the day is when all of us, dead-brain-tired from the day's work, indulge in the ancient art of bakar. Oh dear, there's no better past time than that. And then the shameless Sophomore assumes the role of the court jester, the gossip monger and the g33ky programmer - all rolled into one. Crazy-Ass fundas and concepts roll out of the Factory one by one. Then comes the rolling part. Uhmm...it's people literally rolling on the floor and laughing.

Anyways, it's time to work. Again. But this time, I won't talk.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Munh Ki Baat

Munh ki baat sune har koi, dil ke dard ko jaane kaun
Awaazon ke bazaaron mein, khamoshi pehchaane kaun

Sadiyon sadiyon wahi tamasha, rasta rasta lambi khoj
Lekin jab hum mil jaate hain, kho jaata hai jaane kaun

Woh mera aaina hai ya main us ki parchhaai hu
Mere hi ghar mein rehta hai, mujh jaisa hi jaane kaun

Kiran kiran alsaata suraj, palak palak khulti neendein
Dheeme dheeme bikhar raha hai, zarra zarra jaane kaun

- Munh Ki Baat