21 June, 2012

Spock was not there in Star Wars....erm..so what?

Before I proceed with ranting about random issues….erm…I mean problems in my life, just requesting all my readers and followers to find time in their daily prayers for the quick recovery of a dear friend who met with an accident last week. Hope to see him back on his feet (literally) in the next few months.

Now back to me, a week prior to my birthday I had a panic attack of sorts. The panic attack was caused by the sudden realization that I might actually die alone. Hear me out…hear me out… I know we all die alone, but I meant ‘die alone’ in a ‘die ALONE’ sort of way.  This epiphany dawned during a conversation I was having with some people on Facebook after a friend posted the full trailer to ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ movie. The conversation went somewhat like this:

Friend: Oh hell yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! This is going to be one hell of a movie!
NM: Nice.... "Meri" Jane Watson.... I call dibbs!
Friend:  That isn’t Mary Jane ;) she's Gwen Stacy
NM: Whoa! Thanks for letting me know.... that's odd! Spiderman without MJW is like Batman without Alfred... even in the comics, Gwen had a 'first love' role before MJW....kind of like what Lana Lang had in the Superman series before Lois was introduced....anyway, I still call Dibbs! Emma Stone... I
Friend: You can say like Batman’s first love was Rachel and then comes Saline Kyle :-)
NM: Batman has too many love interests...there's Vicky Vale, Talia Al ghul (with whom he has a son - Damian Wayne...who is one of the many Robins)....and Julie Madison (considered to be Wayne's first love interest....played by the lovely Elle Macpherson in the very painful movie "Batman and Robin”)

It was at this point it dawned on me that I am so far down the geek-rabbit-hole that I don’t see any point of return. I retraced my steps and realized that I know way too much about comic book heroes and I always get so excited and animated when I talk about them that I more or less zone out. And this demon has cropped up one too many times into conversations with the opposite sex. No wonder I’m never taken seriously. I know more about Bruce Wayne’s love interests than my own. (PS: Subtle hint that FB status is ‘single’ *wink wink*)

 Which woman would want to be with a guy who would admonish her for confusing the ‘Tesseract’ (from the Avengers) with the ‘All-spark’ (from the Transformers)?  I can’t even visualize how berserk I would go if a girl I took to see a super-hero movie said something like,” Why can’t Hulk and Superman fight evil together? It would be cool no?” My hypothetical reply,” Sure…why don’t we try and disprove Heisenberg by saying where the electron around the atom is, and at what speed it is going at, AT THE SAME TIME? “

I am going to surely die alone. The only two ways out of this problem are that either we find a dame who is equally enthusiastic (retarded) about such geeky stuff as I, so that we can have long romantic conversations into the night about ‘who is more annoying in the Star Wars Universe - Jar Jar Binks or General Grievous?’ or a rainy Sunday afternoon, sipping hot chocolate, looking into each others eyes, discussing ‘Which Robin is better - Dick Grayson or Tim Drake?’ (We all know that Robin is weak even otherwise, and that the girl even wanting to discuss this forms grounds for breaking up…. just saying).

The other way out of this problem is to find me a ‘Penny’. (Anyone else just thought the title of this blog should be ‘Penny for your thoughts’?) I have discussed this option with some friends and we all agree that we need to find a Penny like girl, move her into the apartment opposite to mine, ensure her shower does not work, and then see sparks fly. Now, I know most of you would think I am being shallow and the only reason I am saying Penny is because she is….in the words of men….. Smoking like a Tandoori chicken! (Ok, the tandoori chicken bit was just me) But no…what do you think I am?

 Sheesh….inner beauty people, inner beauty. Penny is able to love and tolerate a comic, sci-fi, gaming loving fellow like Leonard and even quote Yoda after ‘you-know-what’. Have any of you had anyone quote Yoda after ‘you-know-what’? And she knows the difference between ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars’. Behind all the temper, and golden locks, she’s a nice person and really cares about her friends…although that might some times come off as insensitive. I should probably stop here because I just started drooling on my keyboard. Quoting what is written on Wikipedia - has great social skills and is very knowledgeable about pop culture….She is also messy and disorganized, but appears to like it that way….While usually very kind, Penny has a bad temper which has erupted on many occasions…Sheldon compares outbursts to The Hulk.. Chinese character tattooed on her right buttock…..claimed to be vegetarian, with the exception of fish and the "occasional steak...I love steak!"….. Surprisingly good the first time she played Halo 3…. quoted, "Do, or do not. There is no try" while in bed with Leonard, and even mentioned she knew it was from The Empire Strikes Back…..

So that’s my theory, we need to find me a Penny. None of the women I know or have met in my limited life time will tolerate such nonsensical dedication to comic books. Also note, there is the demon of music that can go into debates about ‘Was Pink Floyd better after Syd Barrett or not?’ or ‘Was Dave Mustaine’s exit from Metallica instrumental in making Metallica what they are? Or would they have just ended up sounding like Megadeth?’ Keeping all these demons in mind, I fear for the parental unit who some time next year will be taking their dear son to the ‘marriage market’ with the slim hope that some woman out there would accept their whack job of an offspring.

PS: To the one friend who told me that I have a year’s time to change, I say, “Dei….if I change who I am, then what is left of me? Next she’ll be asking me to give up non veg also….not happening boss. Music, non-veg, OH-molecules, comics, Manchester United and Star Wars stay…period”

Until we figure out a permanent solution to this problem, check out this video of Batman (yes...ironic) on his night out. 

12 June, 2012


So I turned 28 on Sunday, many thanks to everyone who remembered and wished me despite me not setting up a reminder on Facebook. I am kind of disappointed I’m not part of the ‘curse of 27’ dead musicians club, but then again I’m not a musician either. Also, I’m not pulling a Cobain, I love myself too much. And therein lays the problem.

Sooooo…..28, that means I’m one step closer to the ‘M’ word… nope, not ‘marriage’ (yeah, I know most of you thought that)… I am referring to ‘maturity’. ‘28’ is apparently the age where you are no longer forgiven for ‘the mistakes of youth’. Most people my age have more or less figured out what they want to do in life and who they want to be with. I know many who have kids big enough to start saying the F word, and not stop saying it over and over again if they hear you say it. (No, that did not happen, but I have this bad feeling I’m going to be the propagator of some new vocabulary to some of my friend’s kids). While I look upon my friends who are so sure of their careers and lives, I can’t help but feel I’m a fairly different from everyone else. And I don’t know if it is a good different like an Ernest Hemingway or a bad different like a Hannibal Lector.

Society deems marriage (followed by children) as signs of maturity. Yours truly does not fall into that category. Well, who else gets a tattoo on their birthday after deciding on the design at 8 in the morning over coffee. So much for ‘maturity’. While most people my age are busy working their butts off making money and dying to go onsite to make even more money, I’m more worried about the set list for the show my band has on the 24th of June (subtle marketing….tick) and finding a jam room for the ‘other’ band (subtle marketing part 2….tick)

So is it wrong for me to be this way? And it isn’t like the parental unit has tons of money which affords me the luxury of not caring about where my next paycheck comes from. So where is the wiring in my head all wrong? Shouldn’t I be clamoring a trip onsite to make money, shouldn’t I already be scouting for the will-settle-for-you-to-be ‘the one’? Shouldn’t I be incurring loans for a new house, new car? None of that seems to figure in my head. Going by general consensus, it’s all going horribly wrong for me….but I don’t seem to really care.

While one is looking for a relationship with a member of the fairer (and lovelier) sex (subtle hints….tick), one is not killing oneself over it. One is just happy to be 28 and still be able to pursue his silly dreams of being a part of a popular rock band and hopefully quit his day job because the band pays enough for what he needs. To be honest, if someone were to give me the following choices –

a)    A career where you play with a band and make enough money to ensure 3 meals a day, all basic amenities, a house and tons of friend with whom you can talk music. No fancy car or holidays in exotic locations like Mexico or Argentina.
b)    A career where you work for a big company, slave all day long, marry a nice girl (maybe the one of your dreams), drive a Mercedes Benz, live in a house in one of those ‘Palm Meadows’ type places, travel the world but never play music

…..I’ll probably choose the first one. There is this huge part of me that wants to just be on stage playing guitar and singing for people every day. Writing songs that people go to when they are happy, or sad. But then, one does understand that life rarely gives it to you that easy. And I need the monthly pay check to keep things moving along. I understand that my parents are not getting any younger and as their only son, I need to start saving up to support them and myself financially in the next few years. And I guess for 28, that’s enough maturity I need.

So on that note, thanks to everyone once again who made my Sunday awesome…especially my new tattoo guy who played Metallica, Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden while I got inked. We should put him in one of those ‘Bengaluru ink’ TV shows. For those of you who missed it, it is fine I know we’re still friends….but do note the same for next year…10 June…mark in big bold letters. My thanks to my awesome parents who allow me to get tattoos (and once even paid for one) and are not badgering me to get married just because I am 28. A special thanks to my mum from whom I get all my musical (lack of) genius. My thanks to cousins, who patiently waited at home for me, with a cake while I went and got drunk on Ultimate Long Island Ice Tea and Jack Daniels. It was a fun day overall.

Birthdays are a time hopes and aspirations for the year ahead. Here’s wishing the bands (yes…plural) go places, the new job goes awesome, and it won’t hurt if fate ( or any of my friends) is/are kind enough to at least introduce me to ‘the one’ this year. BTW, next blog topic will be about how I think ‘Penny’ from Big Bang Theory is ‘the one’. 

PS: A friend told me that I am getting way too cynical for my age and that at 28, it is high time to get married. Dear friend, do you expect me to become less cynical just because I’m married? And you call yourself a ‘Business Analyst with a leading IT firm’.

PPS: Below is the picture of my new tattoo….it’s my 5th. It’s a ‘Nautical Star’. It was used by sailors to find their way home. Hence, symbolizes direction….. So here’s hoping I always find the right direction wherever it is I happen to be going….. And I don’t mean that in an ‘I need to find the route to 18th cross Malleswaram’ sort of way.

03 June, 2012

You don’t have “issues”…you have “problems”!

What better way to come back to regular writing than an awesome Grammar Nazi blog. Let’s get right to it. Let’s set the scene for any of the readers who don’t work, or have never worked in the ‘IT Services’ sector. A typical day, you’re sitting there, minding your own business while staring at lines of code that represent the configuration of a server somewhere in the world. Your overly enthusiastic colleague is doing something similar. It turns out that some ‘business biggie’ somewhere isn't receiving emails on his blackberry (oooh….aaah….for he’s a blackberry boy). The colleague isn’t able to figure out what’s wrong. They turn to you and say, “The customer has an issue. He’s unable to receive emails on his blackberry.”

You, being the smug Grammar Nazi turn to colleague with a bewildered expression and say,” What’s the fella got against emails or blackberry? Is it a religious thing? We’re not here to fan the fires of some person’s personal beliefs. Maybe he should talk to the local padre.” Colleague continues to stare at you as though you just spoke to them in German (Nazi…German….get it?) and says, “Dude, the customer has an issue. He is not receiving emails on his blackberry.” Sarcasm fails you the second time. That is when you realize that years and years of bad English education, which includes the very first Indian in the IT Services sector confusing the words ‘problem’ and ‘issue’, has resulted in a generation of people who don’t get my sarcasm. Tsk…tsk…. What am I to do?

Still don’t get it? Alright. Here goes. (Clears throat). According to the English language, the one and only English language (American English is NOT English….and ‘I am an Indian daaaa’ is also not an acceptable excuse for talking like an idiot if you do it with an American accent), the words ‘issue’ and ‘problem’ hold two very distinct meanings.

Let’s take some real world examples; ‘rash-driving’ on the streets is a problem. How can it be solved? By ensuring that people are of the appropriate age to drive, and once they reach that age, impose several punishments for rash driving. That is a problem. However, is 18 the right age to be allowed to drive, or is 21 the right age to be allowed to drive? Now that is an issue. There is no right or wrong. Some people feel that if someone is 18 years of age, they possess the adequate civil sense to drive responsibly, while others feel 21 would be a more apt age to hand someone a driving license. While both remain equally valid points of view, by consensus we choose 18 to be the legal age to drive a motor vehicle. But we all agree that anyone driving in a rash manner should be punished. We have a solution to the problem, although not a permanent one.

Hence, going by the example,

Problem – An unpleasant situation to which corrective action that can be taken hence is mitigating the unpleasant situation. The solution is not open to debate. There may be more than one way to solve a problem, some better than others, but it is still solvable.

Issue – An unpleasant situation to which there is no one solution and the topic at hand is open to debate. Issues normally arise from different points of view about something, with both views having their own pros and cons. There may be corrective measures to help solve the same, but those measures are generally temporary and are open to debate.

So if the darn customer can’t receive an email on his blackberry, that’s a problem. It is not open to debate. Some software or hardware is not working properly and needs to be fixed. And it can be fixed. That makes this a problem. We are not going to debate if that person should be allowed to read email on his blackberry or not? There is no issue. Should people read email in general? Should Blackberry be a proper device upon which to read email? These are topics we could discuss over a long coffee.

I remember the first time when we were told that we would be solving customer issues, I thought I’d spend hours of time on the phone consoling people like I were some sort of a Shrink. Then I figured they meant problems. On one such occasion, one of the fellow engineers told a customer in the UK to call him if he had any issues. The customer politely told him that his personal issues were his own and that the engineer should just ensure that IT infrastructure was up and running. The engineer thanked the customer and cut the call blissfully unaware of what just happened. Yours truly on the other hand was laughing his head off….. And no wonder they think I’m a little off my rocker.

What annoys me is that this is a ‘problem’ and it can be solved. The ‘issue’ lies in telling someone that 12 odd years of schooling was wrong and they’ve got to learn to say the right thing. The worst part of all this ‘issue-problem’ business is that even graduates from premier business schools joining the IT services sector make the same mistake. And these are chaps who aced the ‘English-knowledge’ section in their entrance exams.

My fellow engineers, we are here to solve problems like ‘Internet not working’, ‘email not accessible’. We are not here to help customers with questions like ‘Are gay-marriages alright?’, ‘should I hand my 12 year old his first bottle of scotch?’…the latter are issues. Our awesome degrees do not permit us to be judges on the same. So for heaven’s sake, please stop saying that ‘The customers have issues and we solve them’. We’re the ones who have issues with such deplorable English.

PS: The author of this blog is not sitting on a high horse nor has he had any personal relationship with either Wren or Martin. He’s just a concerned fellow Indian who feels that it is his place to help correct such basic problems. If you have an issue with him, please do not write to him for he shall blog about it.

PPS: I know some of you will now hunt for grammatical errors in my post and then ask me not to correct people's English when my English isn't that great.....to you I say "Whatevaaaaaaaaaaaaa"!