Mumbai

My year in cities, 2008

This year was less crazy than last year . Nonetheless, here is a list of cities I have visited in the year 2008:

  • Seattle (+Bellevue +Redmond)
  • Traverse City, MI
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • Mumbai
  • Delhi
  • Kolkata
  • Fairfield, CA
  • San Francisco
  • Mountain View, CA

And of course, home snowy home:

  • Ann Arbor, MI

Here’s wishing all my dear readers a wonderful and happy new year ahead!

my year in cities, 2007

Happy New Year, folks! 2007 was a year of experiences for me. Inspired by Jason, here is a list of the cities I have visited this year:

My India Trip:

  • Delhi
  • Kolkata
  • Ranchi
  • Mumbai

My Beijing Trip (SIGMOD Conference):

  • Beijing
  • Xian

My Internship at Google this Summer:

  • New York City
  • Jersey City (I know it’s right next door, but it counts!)

My Austria Trip (VLDB Conference):

  • Vienna
  • Salzburg

Rest of my time:

  • Ann Arbor

11 cities; 4 countries, 3 continents. Let’s see what 2008 has in store for us!

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mumbai blasts

Blasts in Mumbai: Why don’t they understand that the city will be back to normal tomorrow morning?

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google mumbai, google delhi

Google opens sales offices in Mumbai, Delhi. Total tally: an R&D center in Bangalore, an engineering center in Hyderabad, and 2 sales offices.

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arnab zeitgeist, 2005

Wow, what a year. Highlights from 2005:

  • Lived in 4 cities, 2 countries.

Mumbai, Jan-April: Finished my stint as a research assistant at IIT Bombay. Kept cribbing about how sad my life was back then, but the experience was totally worth it.

Delhi, April-May: No place like home. Rest and Relaxation time.

Bangalore, May-August: The wild, wild life of a software company intern. Play foosball all day[Ok, I did do some work; it’s hard not to do work when you’re working with such amazing people!], get off work, do FreshLimeSoda+DosaCurry at Pecos/Mojos, do random timepass at CMH Road / Brigade Road, reach Guest House late at night, wake up at 10 to breakfast and VH1 in Bed. Aah, the good life!

Ann Arbor, August-Now: My first experience outside India, spending the first few weeks thinking “This is not too bad…”; and then getting caught in the storm of activity that was the first semester of grad school. Now that it’s over, I must say it was fun. Could have done better, but I’m not disappointed with how I fared.

  • Cooked Prawns in Butter Pepper Garlic for a group of hungry girls
    I have never seen a whole platterful of prawns disappear in 30 seconds. You know you got it right when they lick even the garlic off the plate :)
  • Moved around quite a bit.
    Cities / Towns I have been to this year (in random order)
    Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Goa, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Frankfurt, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas.
  • Started grad school
    Embarked on a multiyear expedition; an attempt to become Dr. Arnab. This has been the most difficult and important decision I have ever taken in my life, with all common sense pointing in the other direction. I’m really interested to see how this works out.
  • Bought my first Mac
    An old, second generation iMac, but the OS X experience is worth the money I paid for it and more.
  • Unbroke my heart
    For sure this time. Or so it seems :)
  • Spent an insane amount of money on my teeth
    If there is one advice I have to give to anyone, it is: TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH. DENTAL WORK IS FRIGGIN EXPENSIVE.

This year has probably been the best year in my entire life. A lot has changed, hopefully for the better. I’m really looking forward to next year: 2006, let’s see what you bring!

the indian dude behind every successful man

The PopSci article about colored bubbles is pretty disturbing. If I understand it correctly, the article proceeds like this: There’s this white dude who’s been dreaming about colored bubbles for 11 years, making pitches to Toy companies, burning up laboratories and stuff, all in the quest of a pink or blue bubble. Then he puts in an advert on Monster.com for a chemist. Enter Mumbai University educated Dr. Ram Sabnis, who comes up with a degradable, surfactant dye solution within one year. White dude finally realizes his dream, his company is rich, the white dude and his posse live happily ever after.

Hold it. I don’t mean to sound racist, but why does the Indian guy who actually solved the colored bubbles problem have to wait for introduction till the ninth page of the article? This is a science magazine. I understand the whole “pursue your dreams” lesson here, but why aren’t we talking about the actual guy who made these frickin’ color floaties? Maybe the real moral behind this was: “If you have a dream, hire an Indian dude. He’ll spend one year instead of the 10 you spent, and make you a success!”.

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Mumbai Help Blogs

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mumbai mayhem

The people in Mumbai have been through a lot of problems in the last two days — This city is one of the most prepared in the world for lots-of-rain situations; and the preparedness is not just in the infrastructure, it’s deeply engraved in the mindset of every true Mumbaikar. I’m pretty confident they’ll champion this and show everyone what amchi mumbai is all about.

update: Minutes after I post this, I read Shantanu’s post, whose ending says it all:

The BSE Sensex crossed 7600 today. It was open today, because, apparently, no one went home yesterday.

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Remedy for the forgotten generation

Rahul writes about the absence of an entire period of music from public radio:

So the teenyboppers have their Casio tunes, and our parents have Mohammad Rafi. Nothing for us. I think I belong to Bombay radio’s forgotten generation.

Rahul, you’re in Mumbai, where Go 92.5 exists — probably the only channel in India that played music I could tolerate. I’m not sure if they’ve changed their programming or target demographic since, but I really had withdrawal symptoms when I left Mumbai a couple of months back. Imagine yourself in Delhi — where you have the option of factory-processed hindi music on RadioCity, chirpy and mast hindi music on Radio Mirchi, or casual hindi music on Red FM.

Of course, Delhi does have a glimmer of hope in AIR‘s FM Rainbow which does play classics, but most of the Radio Jockeying would make even a six year old with speech impediments cringe.

While it seems Bangalore too has AIR FM Rainbow, the only thing people listen to here is the schizophrenic Radiocity 91, which has English-speaking RJs(Radio Jockeys) playing Hindi songs interspersed with Kannada advertisements. Not quite the thing for me, ya know.

My night in shining armor, comes galloping from the United Kingdom via the Internet: Virgin Radio UK generously provides Shoutcast streams that are make up most of my daily listening. Shoutcast is seriously a great source of free music; there are so many supercool radio stations; especially niche ones that cater to very specific audiences, like GothMetal Radio for all the pretty men and women wearing black mascara, for example. Plus Shoutcast is free. As opposed to WorldSpace, which is very nice, but costs a little more than free.

of bangalore and shameless bus conductors

There’s something really scary about the state of public transport in Bangalore. The bus conductors are also totally evil.

The reason this is unnerving is because Bangalore offers two modes of public transport to the common man – autorickshaws, and buses. While autorickshaw drivers are totally evil down to the bottom of their soul, I overlook this since this is the same in almost every Indian city. Maybe there’s an “Autowallahs and Satan” association panning Delhi, Bangalore and (reportedly) Chennai — with it’s primary mission to cheat and loot every customer till there’s none left. And it’s slowly invading Mumbai too, a city once known for the honest, professional auto-drivers who paid you back even the 50 paisa.

But I digress. This post is about bus conductors, who, in my eyes have always been the bastion of the strong-minded, hard-working but underpaid class that keeps the city running. Conductors in Delhi (DTC only, Bluelines are run by gremlins and don’t count) and Mumbai (BEST) are known for their no-nonsense attitude; but Bangalore busmen(and women — they have female conductors here) seem to weave a rather different tale. Not only are they spineless and corrupt, they try to assert their hallowed virtues onto the passengers as well. Here’s one of my many accounts with conductors on Bangalore buses:

Me: 1 ticket, Binnamangala please. (Hand him a ten rupee note, the ticket is for four rupees)
Him: (Takes note, returns six rupees, looks around)
Me: Excuse me, Ticket?
Him: makes face, offers me a one rupee coin
Me: Screw you! I don’t want your money, I want my ticket!
Him: Gives me an old, used six rupee ticket.
Me: What the….
Him: (Finally gives me the ticket I paid for.)

So what’s it with Bangalore that makes its conductors so evil? Considering the weather, the quality of life, the nature of the passengers; Bangalore conductors have a much better time than their Delhi and Mumbai counterparts. Maybe they’re paid really less salaries? I doubt it. Maybe they’re ex-auto drivers? Maybe. But what I believe is the real reason is the percentage of laptop-carrying, Nike-wearing bus passengers who give a damn for these trivial transactional details and would rather spend their precious time worrying about more important things.

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