Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Visa Interview

I had my Visa Interview in the Chennai Consulate today. The interview was scheduled at 8:30 AM, but by the time my turn came it was already 10:30 AM.

The interview consisted of the standard questions ("Why are you going  for MS?", "Who is paying for you?", "What have you been doing since your under graduation?", "What was your aggregate percentage?") and I
gave satisfactory answers. There weren't any awkward questions or moments. And just when I thought I was through, I was told that my visa is going to be held up for administrative processing.

For the administrative pre-processing -- done in counter F -- they took my passport and other documents. When I told the person behind counter F, that my classes start in  September, she said that I had enough time. Though she also said that the processing will take 4-8 weeks (the 221 G slip says 12 weeks).

Let's see what happens.

Meanwhile mom and dad think that I'm down in the dumps -- I'm not. At the same time my friends and fellow UCLA batch-mates (?) are consoling me saying "everything will be all right", "all 221 Gs go through", etc. I appreciate, and am grateful for, the concern and care.

As I see it, either things will come through but the timing will be extremely tight. Or they won't. Either way I'm fine.

The big problem which I'm facing right now is in deciding. Deciding which marathon to register for. My plan was to register for the LA Marathon if the interview went through and if not the Mumbai Marathon. The interview result is stuck in between and so am I.

Hell ... I will go register for Mumbai.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Inception: Thoughts and Questions

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen "Inception" and want to, stop reading now. 

I saw Inception yesterday. It was a decent movie, but I didn't find it as amazing as people are claiming it to be.

Of course, it's a crime if you don't like a movie which is extremely popular and which everyone else around you likes. The movie's faithful army will try to defend it ferociously. Questioning your intelligence or giving arguments why you must be wrong. I have experienced this, when I said I didn't like "The Dark Knight" and "3 Idiots."

But I'm not saying I don't like "Inception." In fact I'm saying it's all right. Though that apparently is not sufficient -- I should love the movie!

That aside (and this is where the spoiler warning kicks in), I do have some questions from the movie:

  1. Why should a dream end because you die in the dream? What stops you from being a part of the dream, but not be alive? I mean, after all, it's a dream.
  2. Why does Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) trust Ariadne (Ellen Page) with so many of his secrets so quickly?
  3. When Cobb's wife, Mal, kills Fischer Jr, why does he (Fischer Jr) end up in the next level of the dream and not go into "limbo"? Same for Saito.
  4. During the final sequence, what's the kick for the 1st level of the dream? How do they wake up at end of the flight journey to LA? As the ending is a bit fuzzy and you are forced to question if everyone even does wake up, this might be hard to answer. 
Update: Certain theories which answer the questions above and a few more can be found here

    Friday, 16 July 2010

    The 3 month priniciple

    I wrote this in August 2008. Left it unpublished. Don't know why?

    I come back after many a day with few words of wisdom. Long time ago in our very own Bangalore, I had gotten bored and frustrated of the daily routine. Looking for a change and a hobby I decided to take up the guitar. Being a cheapskate and a cynic, I decided not to invest in one but borrow an orphaned guitar form a friend. Also, I decided not to join a class but learn from the wise internet.

    After two days of dissonant sounds, finger-pain, rewinding and playing of instructional videos, I called it quits. Guitar playing was not for me. The guitar was orphaned again and it lay in a corner, accumulating dust and providing shelter to plenty of cockroach families.

    Later that year, I went to the United States on official work. A colleague of mine invited me and few other colleagues of mine for an evening of video games. It was there that I first played guitar hero. And was it fun!

    When I returned back to India, I found out that guitar hero was not available in India (well, I don't own a television or a X-Box 360 but those are trivial details). Sadly I slumped back into my cubicle and office work. In one of the following days, I was narrating the tale about my encounter with guitar hero to Naveen and my consequent disappointment, when he introduced to the wonderful frets on fire. The open-source guitar hero clone which works for the P.C. I was hooked.

    I spent the next two months mastering the game and I could play it at the highest level and ace all the notes. Riding on this high, I thought how difficult could playing the real guitar be. So, I uncovered the layers of dust and cobwebs and took out the guitar. I saw the same instructional videos again, and to my surprise I still sucked as badly as I had.

    But then this time around I was determined. I used to practice daily for an hour or so and after couple of weeks the pain reduced a bit (not completely, mind you). I had plenty of encouragement from my guitar advisers (comprising of my brother, Rakesh, Rajesh and of course Justin Sandercoe) and I plodded on relentlessly.

    Now, though still a beginner, I'm not that bad. I can play songs, figure out strumming patterns on my own. Which now brings me to the point of the post.

    Around two months ago I joined a guitar class. Being Bangalore it was heavy on the pockets and completely full of software engineers and yes all guys. The class, according to the instructor, was the most populous one till date. We had the classes once a week on Sunday afternoons. The classes went on and one by one the people started dropping. In the final two classes there were only three students left. At the beginning of the class there were twelve. I'm sure that they, like me, got awed by the task ahead and gave up. None of them were ready to be committed to the art for three months (approximate time when you stop sucking at guitar).

    I think most people only commit a few days to a particular skill/endeavour. They don't get instant gratification and give it up (what was your last longest gym/morning walk/jog stint/musical instrument?). We have studied in engineering colleges where you study the last few days (hours?) before the exam and still manage to pull through. I think we are applying the same attitude to other things as well. And the truth is it just doesn't work.

    Every skill/endeavour takes time (If you think about it, see how long it took you to learn English, learn to drive etc.) and the toughest part is the beginning: the time when you are not that good and it is so easy to give up. But once your past this stage, you will find that you start to actually enjoy the activity. And the key to this is nothing but plain simple discipline for the first three months.

    On Leaving Bangalore

    Sometimes the really tough decisions are the ones which are easy to make. Usually the right choice is the tough one and you pick that.

    Last Friday (9th July), after four years, I left Bangalore. I had a comfortable job, great friends, enough of interesting activities to do. When people ask me, how do I feel leaving Bangalore? I don't really know what to say. Frankly, I don't feel much. It just hasn't sunk in yet, I guess. There is much that I have learnt from the city, the people, and the experiences. But I left not too sad.

    It's been a great four years. And this blog is a testimony to that.

    Thursday, 15 July 2010

    Wanna heat train? Come to Delhi.

    Runners planning on taking part in KTM '10 or SCMM '11, come to Delhi. The weather here is superbly awful.

    All my last 3 runs here were not too satisfactory. And I would like to believe that it was the weather.

    Monday - 5KM (Pace: 5:20/KM)
    Wednesday - 7KM (Pace: 5:18/KM)
    Thursday - 6KM (Pace: 5:14/KM)

    Granted that my mileage in the last 2 weeks prior to this one was ridiculously low (12KM and 5KM respectively ... for each week!), but I don't think I have lost conditioning.

    In every single run of this week, my target had been a 10K, which used to get negotiated, while running, to 8K and then it would finally settle to the nearest whole number. Near the 3K mark of each run, I would feel overheated. I also felt my shoes burning up.

    Another factor could be that I never drank water. This is just me being a spoilt Bangalorean. This is one thing which I can change.

    So the goals for the coming run (please don't laugh at me). Break 10K; carry water; drop the pace.