Switch off your wifi


Turn off your mobile wifi for 1 hour. Sit still. Close your laptop. Switch off all your tablets and handheld PDAs. When I say wifi I meant your 3g/4g internet connection too. Blink your eyes. Go out for a meal! Enjoy time while your eating. Go play your favorite sport. Have a dog? take it out for a walk. Don’t have a dog? buy one!

Get a lot of phone calls?? Don’t respond. Texts? Reply later. Too many notifications? Switch off your mobile. Switch off your wifi while sleeping. Thank me later. Don’t you turn on the TV now! Ask someone to hide the TV remote in a place where even if you come back from the past or future world you will not be able to find it. Spend some time with your loved ones. Go visit your parents, sibling, cousins & relatives. If everyone seems so peaceful and calm, start a fight with them. Make sure you become friends again by the end of the day. Go for climbing! Start swimming. Workout if it gives you a peace of mind. Live in a place where you can see snow? Stop cursing it. Take your car for a long drive. Don’t have a car? Take your bike. Skateboards are a lot more fun! Once my mom used to say that I’m only fit for cattle rearing (Tamil la, nee ellam maadu meikka dan laayaku nu solluvom!). Now I seriously wish I had bought 4 cows! Have you heard about “urjnaswxkfjjkn“?? No? Read about it! Own a ranch? Err, never mind, you already enjoy a lot outside.

Avoiding the computer for a day has become a miracle. Smartphones have become an addiction. After a few decades, the human race will undergo evolution and we will have only 2 fingers. The index finger for mouse click and the thumb for playing temple run. Facebook and Twitter addictions are more popular than smoking addictions nowadays.

Avoid any form contact to the internet world. Life would be much more better for that 1 hour. Food for thought.

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“My mom is on facebook”


How many times have we had this conversation with our friends, “do not upload these pics. My mom is on Facebook ” , “Yeah, even my mom is on Facebook. But I usually block all my family people”. Others say, “I did not accept my dad’s friend request till date”. The two exchange looks that read I-know-how-that-feels-bro. It’s not just mom; brother, sister, cousins, nephews, uncles, aunts, neighbors, neighbor’s 3rd son’s 5th grade friend. The more such people you add, the less active you become on Facebook.  Still, some of us tend to accept their friend request and undertake the risk – Brace yourselves men! Winter is coming. A common phrase we hear these days. “My mom is on Facebook”. And then one masters the art of manipulating the privacy settings of Facebook.

Ultimately we all end up sharing the “clean” funny posts, memes, and YouTube videos of favorite songs, football, gadgets etc. We end up sharing pics or posts in the “secret groups” (as Facebook’s privacy policy defines it) and have fun among a set of close friends.

Oh yeah, once they join Facebook, they don’t just remain passive do they? They update their profiles, their school, college, upload pictures, change their relationship status to “Married”, and what not!  One fine day I see 6 notifications, all pointing to the one picture my mom has uploaded. Surprisingly, she has managed to switch on the UPS, and then the desktop that is supposed to be in trash ages back, browse for an old picture of mine (luckily not a 3 yr old photo) and upload it on Facebook. I called her up as soon as I saw this picture hit my feeds. I started with the usual what, why, how, when, who questions. And the conversation turned out to be strictly sensational! Here goes the interesting chat. Better in Tamil, English subtitles available 😉

Mom: Thambi, naa un photo upload pannen da iniku. (Today I uploaded a photo of yours)

Me: adra sakka… seriii okayy..aprom? (Nice mom! And..? )

Mom: Pannitu, andha pic la mouse ah un face pakkathula kondu pona udane oru square vanduchu
(A square box appeared whenever I tried took the cursor near your face)

Me: ahnn seriiiii…. (oh alright..)

Mom: aprom adhuku keela “type any name” nu kettuchu… (It said “type any name” below)

Me: serrriiiiiiiiii…. (OKAYYYYY)

Mom: naa “a..s..h..” nu type panna odane un peru vandruchu da… adha naa click panniten.
(As I typed “a,s,h..” it found out your name and displayed it in the suggestion list. I clicked your name there)

Me: seri okayyy…. aparom? (Alright.. and?)

Mom: aprom enna nu therila… sudden ah enaku neraya notifications vara aramchuruchu.. unnoda facebook profile ah andha picture kuda link panniruchu pola… enna panna nu therila.. so nanum odane comment pannitu logout panniten.
(And then all of a sudden the notifications started pouring in! people started liking that pic, a few of them even commented on it. I think your Facebook profile is being linked to that picture. Since I did not know what to do, I commented back and logged out of my account immediately)

I had to pause for a while and laugh it all out before we resumed the conversation! Felt like my mom had just answered a 10 mark essay type question on “How to tag your son on Facebook”. As soon I was tagged in that picture, friends  started commenting as usual.

The best part is yet to come. Watching others comment on my picture, my mom has been thinking of some really nice lines to comment! She has been thinking and thinking and thinking.. and finally comes up with a thirukural . Of all the catchy lines she could think of, THIRUKURAL! In bold capital letters. I was shocked and kind of amazed to see that comment on my picture 😀 Apparently, that thirukural comment of hers got the maximum number of likes too. I enjoyed the whole scene unfold itself into a sensational phone conversation.

The older generation is slowly entering the web world!  Sooner or later I am planning to write a book “Skype for mummies”, so that we can have a phone conversation like the above and not like “Hello? can you hear me? Mom! switch on the modem, and then double click Skype icon… NO MOM! not the internet explorer again!! “. She has been trying to learn Facebook, and tagging photos was her first chapter.I wouldn’t mind if she reaches until the poking chapter, but I really wish she doesn’t reach the stalking chapter.

Miss you ma!

Please block them


Yes! Watching all those Facebook updates of friends showing off in the US. It’s annoying. It can’t get any more irritating can it? How can someone annoy you like that on your wall! Just because he checks in at unknown American places he doesn’t become a big appatucker. I agree. I am equally annoyed by all such picture posts which cover bathroom and closets on facebook. But seriously? If you think that is annoying, All you have to do is, just block a bunch of them like I did. Even simpler, un-friend them. Oh wait! you can’t remove them can you? Because they are your  friends? Or will that reduce your friend-count ?. Whatever! A word of advice my friend, Life beyond facebook is more fun and lively.

By the way, abroad ≠ USA. In case you didn’t know, there are countries like UK, Europe, China etc. where a lot of Indians pursue higher studies in different fields.You should know something. Indian Students in the USA are not living the time of their lives while studying. We are merely surviving rather than living. Why do you think a student like me, should work at the dining services for a meager hourly wage when I was earning in thousands of rupees back in our country. Watch your words while you throw them at a larger audience. You might only make a fool of yourself if you crib about facebook posts in public.

So facebook updates are annoying?  I’ll tell you what is even more annoying on facebook. People posting their honeymoon pics, husband and wife exchanging muaahhh kisses on public posts with all ❤ smileys. Now that is annoying. For the record, I haven’t posted anything other than changing my current city on facebook and I am NOT in the MIT or Stanford. You call yourself a kabodhi, try to copy the writing style of the local tea party (who  is a great blogger), make it sound funny with all the “decent” Tamil swear words you know and you become famous overnight. Dei! what da! At least try to have your own style while you write something. Tch Tch.

We don’t look down upon our friends who are back in India. We respect them. I don’t understand why rant out all your anger on us? Why are you bothered about a handful comments on the IITs and IISc for doing an M-Tech. Go on. Who is stopping you from doing so?? Are we the reason why you did not/cannot pursue your higher studies abroad? I know, you don’t want to leave your family? Neither do I. All this “India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters” sentiment will start pouring in only when someone talks about MS in the USA?? Support Anna Hazare instead. Going to the USA is a personal choice. We are entitled to choose this lifestyle as you have chosen yours. Perceptions may vary.

Lets get something straight. First of all, understand that those so-called “cool” pics on facebook, check in at unknown places — they are merely flaunting their new mobile (probably iPhone or some 4G-technology smartphone).  You talk about that poor guy who is struggling to get a job to support his family. People who come to the USA also have such responsibilities OK. Not all of us were born rich. We are more indebted to our parents than you are. We do realize the pain our parents undergo to send us abroad to chase our passion. Worst thing people do is to sit for placements and block someone’s job. I agree! I feel having a job as backup at TCS, CTS infy,wipro etc doesn’t affect much as these companies are known to recruit in large numbers. There are also people who do not sit for placements AT ALL. You wouldn’t even bother to talk about those good souls.

Machan seriously, you don’t sound like “you don’t give a shit about such posts”, you sound like you are jealous. No kidding. Your tone clearly says that you envy your friends abroad. How is it different from your friends who post pics from different pubs in Bangalore? It’s all the same. We don’t have a pair of horns if we are in “THE USA”. how does it matter? Graduate students enjoying in the USA is a myth. Take it from me. They slog a lot more than they enjoy.

You did not know what to do on a Saturday afternoon other than browse through your facebook wall? and suddenly you came up with this bright idea “cha, they irritate me a lot on facebook. I should open an account with word press and start blogging about them “. WoW! A round of applause for this awesome idea of yours.How long did it take for you to write that blog? 30 mins? 1 hour? 1 day? Well you just thrashed all efforts taken by your friends for months together. It’s not a simple task I tell you. And please stop whining over petty issues like facebook posts. You live in the real world. Not on facebook.

Well I am deeply sorry if my plans to pursue a higher studies abroad is affecting you so much. I apologize for I am thinking about my future while you curse me for it. Make all the fun you want to. We are not at loss. As you said, None of us give a shit anyway.

Big dreams come with bigger sacrifices


The great joy of success initially made me shout and scream
Realization Of The Great American Dream
With much hopes to get a highly paid job
I rejoice outside but silently sob
It’s a one way ticket to an unknown land
Without any options, here I stand

How am I to live without the Indian delicacies,
Not sure if I will get these overseas,
The exquisite taste of parata & dosa
Sadly will be replaced by pizza & cola

Gonna miss mom nagging me to bathe everyday
And dad seeking for perfection in whatever I say
bro and me are more like Tom n Jerry
fights are equally funny and fiery

The scary sight of huge suitcases, Waiting to chase me out of my own room!

Desktop had a pre-departure overhaul
Teaching mom to make a Skype call
Helping bro with Java and C
Preparing dad to handle irctc
Configuring mobile to transfer instant money
So that bro gets his timely pocket-money

From now on,
Smartphones are the legion
Internet is The religion
For those suffering abroad
Skype is The God.

Call it my bad luck, I’m always away from my loved ones

After all these pre-departure woes I undergo
Mom still asks me, do you really have to go..?

Big dreams come with bigger sacrifices. But are they worth it? A question to which I am yet to find an answer

Luck matters in a Visa Interview


Here goes the story of the day when I went for my student visa interview at the Chennai consulate on 28th of June. After all the pain we take to equip ourselves with tonnes of documents, it all boils down to this 30-40 seconds.

The “Fear” part:

To be honest, I did experience “The fear”. By fear I mean, “couldn’t sleep all night because you have IIT-JEE exam tomorrow” type fear. The previous night was a nightmare filled with dreams about “Your un-selected” [Goundamani style]. The fear of getting rejected by the Visa officer was even more terrifying for 3 main reasons:

  1. Necessary documents were missing: I realized that I did not bring my UG degree certificate. Neither did I have my original bank statements nor did I have the original affidavit. I actually forgot it! No IT returns, NO pay slips NO nothing. points to self  “what a loser!”
  2. There was this bald guy who was standing in front of me, trying to flirt with a girl who stood behind me in a posh (read: acquired) American accent.
  3. I was in my usual casual jean and shirt, and every other guy was dressed up in full formals – a scene which I last witnessed during my job interview.

After burning in the hot sun outside the consulate, security guards checked our pockets for  dangerous missiles and sealed anthrax powder envelopes inside the consulate. After all the preliminary checks were done, they made me workout by pushing and pulling huge glass doors which were marked with a red caution sign that reads: HEAVY DOOR. You will have to keenly watch out for you number on the big TV which displays it in a random order. Whoever said “creating a perfectly random sequence of numbers with computers is impossible” was wrong!

The “I was lucky” part:

The person who goes before you sets up the stage for you. The expectations are raised or lowered w.r.t. the previous person’s answers. Carefully watch the pattern of the questions and how she responds to them.

Girl: Good morning officer. How are you doing?
Visa Officer: I am doing good. Hope you're doing good. Could you please pass me your documents?
*she passes a bunch of docs*
VO: So when and from where did you graduate?
Girl: Sir, I graduated from the XYZ university in 2011
VO: what was your percentage?
Girl: 64%
VO: any backlogs?
Girl: Six!! <pauses for a while> Sir I have been concentrating hard on my extra curricular and sports activities that I couldn't cope up with my studies.... <and goes on for sometime. This was rehearsed>
VO: So why do you wanna study in the US?
Girl: <another 2 paragraph recitation of well prepared answer>
VO: I see that you have been rejected for student visa already. Do you wish to tell me something that you previously did not get a chance to tell the previous visa officer? [ this was a shock to me]
Girl: pardon?
VO patiently repeats the question.
Girl: <repeats her sports and extra curricular story> This time she also promises that there won't be any backlogs in her destination university [OH GOD!]
VO: I'm sorry, you cannot expect a different reply from me .*returns her passport*

My story:

Me: Good morning officer
VO doesn't reply and stretches out his hand, waiting for me to hand him the documents.
VO: when and from where did you graduate?
Me: I graduated from the National Institute of Technology Trichy in the year of 2011
VO: and what was you percentage?
Me: 8.26 upon 10
VO: So why Texas A&M ?? [notice the backlog question being skipped]
Me: gave him the usual answer "good research in blah blah field, it suits my are of interest"
VO: What would you want to do after you MS?
Me: I would like to come back to India and work in the same company I am currently employed in.[The Gods will never forgive me for this lie]
VO: Your visa is approved!

I couldn’t control the big smile on my face as I walked out of the consulate. I tucked out my shirt, removed the first button, shirt sleeves folded up to 3/4th and walked back home like a boss with a sweet box in my hand.

There is always a better mobile out in the market


I still remember the time I got my first mobile. A brand new mobile is something that always arouses interest! Different mobiles in different phases of life adding a bunch of beautiful memories. Listen to my history and enjoy the ride of nostalgic memories of your old mobiles.

The first mobile  came into the family when I was in 9th std and YES! It’s the legendary Nokia 1100.  The joy of un-boxing it! Everything in that gadget looked so beautiful; a big square center button, or as we know it, the “OK” button – the single button with which we send 100’s of blank msgs to troll ppl, a small cancel “c” button and a red power off button. Besides all this, TADAAA!! the mobile has a torchlight!! My dad used to say “don’t switch on the torchlight often, it will drain off the battery” – how I wish I had that long battery life with my Droid today.  Back in hostel days at school, we used to talk on a landline phone (sounds familiar?) . Parents used to wait for hours together to talk for a limited 10 minute call, which is allowed on every alternate days. Nowadays even a 5th std kid calls up the driver to come pick him up

Once we enter college we start bugging our parents for a new phone. And I was no exception to it.Someone gifted me a Motorola C2 (which was just a little more powerful than a toy phone) for getting admitted into college. T’was a very basic phone. I had to press only a dozen keys in order to store a contact. Thassal. Adding to the agony, T9 doesn’t work in that mobile. Couldnt believe I managed to use the same mobile for 1 full year.

Once the threshold point of patience was exceeded, I had big fight with dad to get me a “good” phone rather than a toy phone! We came to an agreement on the budget and so began the hunt for a new mobile.  It was the era of Nokia N-series and I somehow wanted to avoid this cliché while buying gadgets. Consequently, I decided to buy a slide-type mobile rather than the conventional bar-type. After a quick research I came up with the Nokia 5300 music express edition and was confident of buying it.

I entered the mobile store like a boss, knowing what I want to buy, as I had the full specs memorized by-heart. Suddenly I saw this beautiful little object shinning from behind the glass door. There it was. The recently released Motorola SLVR L7 , with its black metal casing, shining keypad & navigation embodied with a sleek finish. It was glittering inside the showcase glass. The whole mobile was a masterpiece. Once I took the mobile in my hands,  it felt like dark chocolate and inviting me to bite it. I did not even care to look back at Nokia. My dad, who looked like hitler back home, became the dove of peace inside the shop. He gave a regretful green signal as L7 was slightly above the agreed budget. That awesome moment when you get more than what you expected! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Next step was Flaunting – well that is just a bloody understatement!

Believe it or not I used this phone for 3 years. For 3 long years, I have tortured my L7 like no mobile could ever withstand. Rooting the phone, changing skins (themes), monster packs and custom boot loaders were the jargon I used to boast about my L7 over the N-series. After surviving the overloaded features, withstanding so many murder attempts, after 36 months it finally committed suicide! The center joystick button was the first one to wear out.The keypad letters were hardly visible. Backside scratches were so bad that my parents wont even touch it! . It never powered ON one day. May its battery rest in peace. Case closed

Then I was left with no option but to use a toy phone again. Dark days. I started using a nokia dual sim phone once I came to Bangalore.

After entering into the corporate world in Bangalore, it feels like  every single soul on the planet owns a smartphone. Android was the talk of the town. Own a Mac, you’re God’s sidekick. One would not have any role in the conversation if he/she doesn’t own a smartphone. People were equipped with Mavericks, Bullpup and AK47 rifles while I was roaming with a blunt knife.  I was left out in all those Android/iPhone apps discussions between friends and colleagues. Thus my next threshold point came early this time.  Now the mobile store was eBay and e-transaction was from my credit card – hassle free. Mobile hunt: case reopened.

It’s Samsung’s era that is prevailing currently in India. Choose any budget range and you will be bombarded with a number of Samsung mobiles with different specs. The costly high-end model was the Galaxy SII. The first mobile to come out with a dual core heavy-duty processor, slim design and a huge screen. Friends unanimously choose SII when asked for suggestion. HTC tried hard, but could not stand anywhere near the SII. So my choice was also the same UNTIL.. I saw this Motorola Droid RAZR.

I don’t know how Motorola tends to mesmerize me every time in the last-minute. This device had every feature that the SII offers. In fact it was even more attractive with the diamond cut edges than the bland design of SII. Waterproof device, metal casing with a Kevlar finish were some features which made me go nuts. Best of all, it was even thinner than SII. There’s your winner. I bought it for it was a beauty! It was a device which is “too powerful to fall into the wrong hands”.

A few months later while I was walking along the pavement after supper, I saw this huge banner which displayed the HTC One X (banner had Galaxy SII then). Then came Galaxy SIII. Ice cream sandwich. Quad core processor (in a mobile?). Next generation of mobiles!! WHOA!! That is too much I say! First of all I thought a dual core for a mobile was useless. Now a quad-core? And the ones with more cash can afford more! Are you kidding me!! Seriously where is all this leading to?

There is a simple truth in all these mobiles. Your smartphone is only as smart as you are. Many a times we can see some low-end android phone out perform your high-end tablet. Reason being, he was wiser than you while choosing apps. When he was busy rooting his phone, you choose to play angry birds and sending temple run requests. Remember there will always be a better phone in the market. It is inevitable. It’s like they wait for you to buy a good mobile and then release a better version and troll you. And they are good at it. Wish my Droid doesn’t get obsolete at least for the next 2 yrs . Go pray for your mobile’s soul and postpone the next threshold as far as possible

-Ashpro