Monday, February 27, 2006

A Positive First Impression

Normally, this blog is pretty much inward looking. I write about stuff that I find funny, sad or something that bothers me, related to my everyday life. Then I try to include something from memory or try and abstract and put out something extra.

I generally avoid talking about world issues, political problems, critique policies etc. Basically the attempt is to avoid giving off any gyan because basically I don’t think I deserve to.

But its 1.30 AM and I can't sleep. I have to get up tomorrow at 6 AM and I should be sleeping. But I can't and my mind keeps going back to an article that I read a few hours ago in the latest issue of India Today (Mar 6).

Mr. N R N Murthy, Chairman, Infosys writes about how we should go about creating a positive first impression on the US CEOs so that we can improve our trade with them. This is just a summary of the points he makes in the article.

1. Ensure full transparency in our policies. Abolish case by case approval schemes.
Fine, nice global statement, nothing wrong with that. But I, with less than four years of work experience know that its utopian. Even the best processes can't cover everything and you cannot avoid case by case approvals. Just imagine, would it be too difficult to select an Indian cricket team based only on statistics. I mean that would be transparent, everybody would know that to get in the team, one needs a particular average, strike rate, specific fitness levels etc. We won't need any selectors to go watch matches. But will that get us the best team?

2. Create inexpensive signs of our trade openness by allowing McDonald's, Pizza Huts and WalMarts to open more outlets.
Inexpensive signs?! Wow! I can't believe this. The whole country has been debating about FDI in retail for months now and Mr. Murthy doesn't seem to think it’s an important issue. Oh yeah, the IT industry is not in the business of retail. Real Estate, maybe, but not retail. Right!

3. Create separate arrival/departure lounges. Let there be a hundred nice sofas where these businessmen can sit and wait while their entry, exit and customs formalities are being progressed. Employ young men and women in smart uniforms to take care of the formalities of the guests.
This just gets better. I remember George Fernandes had mentioned about a ‘strip search’ that he had to undergo in a US airport when he was the Defence Minister. And a few days ago, a reputed Indian scientist with full credentials from the Indian government was denied a VISA because his Muslim name resembled with an Al Quaida terrorist! Everybody who has frequented the US knows that you just need to be brown skinned to get special treatment from the immigration out there if you know what I mean. But we don’t want these goras with money standing in an Indian line!

4. Provide Incentives to helicopter companies to start services between the airport and the hotel for these people. This will avoid their experiencing bad traffic congestion. Then since these CEOs are allergic to wait in Govt. Office corridors, let us convert a huge mansion like the Hyderabad House in to a Hi-Tech Center with 20 well furnished rooms and get our ministers and bureaucrats and come there and meet these guys.
I don't think Mr. NRN was serious here. I would like to think he is just taking a dig at the political establishment in Bangalore for the traffic conditions out there. But if he is, I have a better idea. Lets shift the seat of our govt. from Delhi to a Miami Hotel. That should solve the problem.

5. Bring a level of certainty to appointments. Don't cancel or postpone them.
I have no problem with this one. Obviously, if those guys turn up on time we should keep our commitments too.

6. Create a cadre of smart and well-educated tour guides so that the spouses of these CEOs can tour the city.
Yes. Now as part of the UPSC exams, there will a new service called IGS. Indian Guide Service. Please. Those guys can ask any of the Seven Star hotels in which they stay in to arrange a tour for their spouses/companions. And pay for it.

In the book, "Doing Business in China" James Mcgregor makes a few telling comments about how China deals with multinationals and he gives words of advice to these MNCs. Some are

1. If your boss wants to do a quick deal in China, lose his or her VISA.
2. China doesn't forgive, and it never forgets. China has a long memory and seeks retribution when foreign companies defy its desires.
3. If Chinese ill treatment of foreigners ever depresses you, take solace in the knowledge that the Chinese treat each other even worse.
4. The Chinese govt. uses competition from foreign businesses to reform its own system and companies.
5. Chinese negotiators are masters of making you feel you need them more than they need you.
6. The Chinese will ask you for anything because you just may be stupid enough to agree to it. Many are.

These are just a few nuggets. And everybody knows that China dwarfs India in terms of FDI. Let’s be clear on one thing. These US CEOs are not in India today to do us a favor. They are here to make money for their shareholders. I am not saying that we should make them lick our boots, but hey, at least lets not pander and lose our self-respect when we do business with them.

Bending over backwards is just going to get us worms in chocolates and pesticides in cola.

In the evenings, when I pass by the slums near my home, I see blacked out ramshackle huts, naked small kids playing in the sewage, men and women sitting around leading their terrible life.

Somebody tell me again how all this FDI is going to help them?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

About Improbable Wishlists

A slow realization is dawning on me. I am now in my twenty eighth year and not getting any younger. As every day of the rest of my life passes by, I know it will get more and more difficult to try new things, take risks and explore new places.

So here's a list of stuff that I want to do and am afraid I might never get around to doing

1. Play Drums
2. Sky Diving
3. Meaningful Social Work
4. Film Making/Theatre
5. A Long Bike Ride
6. Do Mountains
7. Appreciate Poetry (Urdu especially)
8. Get a Tattoo

Enough of this moping! If everything goes well, I will be on a trek to the Everest Base Camp in April. That will strike off one from this list.

Here I come.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Getting my Goat

Well, today I was on leave because I had a 'compensatory' off day. You see, I had worked on a Sunday a couple of week’s back. This had me really thrilled to bits and had planned a really funny post about all the reactions I have been getting from my friends whom I have considerately kept in the loop.

But then I happened to read Ms. Rashmi Bansal's latest post on my alma mater. That got my goat and ruined whatever insignificant plans I had for the rest of the evening. So wrote my comments, went to the IIM C website and posted about it in the alumni section. Then came back to YouthCurry and read through all the comments, there were about 15 by then. Also went over the blogs of the people who had written the comments. Found a couple of interesting ones. Came back and read more comments (last count- 25)

Well, am not going to criticize her post here so sorry to disappoint you. But her criticism stung. So I wondered what are the other criticisms which could potentially hurt me at a personal level. Let me see, dangerous to admit on a blog, but what the heck.

1. My family (obviously, they are the best and don't tell me otherwise)
2. BITS Pilani (my other alma mater, you cannot insult the memory of the best years of my life)
3. Chess (If you think I am crazy, I think you are stupid)
4. Aamir Khan (And NOT because of RDB)
5. Chennai (I don't know why but its my favorite city)
6. India (am out on a limb here, but yes)
7. Rock n Roll (Not the whole field, but there are a few mines you don’t dare tread on)

Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Amitabh Bachhan just missed the cut. Shahrukh who?

Hey, I just realised something. I missed mentioning myself in the list.

Or did I?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

In the Zone

To achieve something, my blood flows, my blood flows,
To rise up in my eyes, my blood flows,
It falls from my body, it hugs the ground,
Through streets and waysides, it meanders, crawls,
In search of new colors, my blood flows

From open wounds,____________
slowly, oh so slowly, my blood flows,
Taking along with it,
Questions in its fingers, answers in fists,
To achieve something, my blood flows, my blood flows

To achieve something, my blood flows, my blood flows,
To rise up in my eyes, my blood flows,
It falls from my body, it hugs the ground,
Through streets and waysides, it meanders, crawls,
In search of new colors, my blood flows

My blood flows, My blood flows,
My blood flows, My blood flows,
My blood flows, My blood flows,
My blood flows, My blood flows

Once in a while when you watch a movie like 'Rang De Basanti' (don’t worry, am not going to do a review here), one is generally in a contemplative frame of mind for about half an hour.

So was I past midnight, driving back home, listening to some nice songs on the FM wishing for some dramatic announcement on the radio when the RJ says this (in good Hindi, I might add),

"In a few hours from now, it will be another morning. Birds will start chirping and autos will start plying on the roads. It will also be time for all us to wrap up our dreams and get busy with our mundane life and the activities, which are part of it. But for many of us today will be a little different.

Because today is a Sunday.

Hope your Sunday is a bit different in a way that you want it to be. But in the meantime, this is Rakesh Ahuja signing off and wishing all of you a very good night."

Good Night Rakesh.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Filling up a 'Share' Auto

"Borabanda Borabanda Motinagaraaa!"

I hear him shouting as I head over there. Like every night, it’s a mess.

There are at least five 'share' autos in a virtual free for all on a couple of routes, which leave from the Yousufguda Checkpost. The whole place bustles with activity just like any other lower middle class marketplace. Loads of fruitsellers around with their wares. A wine shop attracts its own loyal clientele. There's a pharmacist, a small restaurant, hardware shop, an electrical appliance store and a general store around this circle. Cars, bikes, autos, people hurrying at 9.30 PM to get home to their families.

Like I said, it’s a mess.

We make eye contact still 20 ft away and he shouts at me almost as if he knows me,

"Come on Come on Motinagar Borabandaaa!!!"

I am completely non-commital as I make quick survey and find all the autos on my route empty except for his where a guy was sitting in. But then he could be a dummy. I am tired though so I just get in.

He immediately gets a second wind and shouts louder than ever before,

"Borabanda Borabanda Motinagaraaa!"

Another guy gets in. And I was right. The first 'passenger' gets out and starts shouting too,

"Motinagar Motinagar Borabanda!!!"

If you haven’t figured it out as yet, this is how it works. Since there is no order to how the autos leave, it’s a perfect open market. So the auto which gets filled first (it takes 5) leaves. So all these guys shout their throats out every night trying to leave ahead of the rest.

Ok, so now that leaves people like me with the difficult decision to make every night to optimize our selection every night so that the auto in which I get in leaves early. The result is a curious situation that all travelers like me ideally want to be the fifth person in an auto and never the first because in the latter case you have minimum control over when your vehicle might leave. There's a good chance that you might feel pretty stupid on a few nights as you see other autos come and go. One can always jump out of the auto and join another one but somehow that almost never happens. Its almost like once you are in, you are part of a team.

Now in a perfect economic world, nobody will go anywhere but thankfully there are always some lemons around. And there are dummies.

Some of the autowallahs have a dummy passenger sitting in the auto, which gives him a small competitive advantage over the others and acts as an incentive to passengers to get in. When a couple of 'real' passengers troop in, the dummy gets up and assumes his real role of a conductor of the auto. Though the two or three passengers now realise that they have been had, there's nothing much they can do about it. And you can never really identify a dummy for sure.

"Borabanda?" A muslim couple ask my autowallah. The wife's in a burkha.

"Sir, please come up front" he requests me.

The auto can seat three at the back and four at the front (dont ask me how) including the driver and the 'dummy'. Ladies obviously are never expected to squeeze up front so I get down and sit next to the driver, half of my left bum hanging in the air.

We need one more. And then the bus comes along.

The bus is another constraint. People quit autos and get into the crowded buses. The bus ticket costs a buck less. Its always too crowded for me but the Muslim couple don’t think so and they leave.

I look at my driver and wait for the choicest profanities to flow out which am sure are at the tip of his tongue but he just sighs and says,

"Look at them scoot."

The bus leaves. We are back to two. He gets up and starts off again,

"Borabanda Borabanda Motinagar Motinagaraaaa!!"

I get up and climb again into the back seat.

Monday, February 13, 2006

How to Ruin a Sunday

Now you should read this as bad to worse...

7 AM: Get up. (Sleep at 3 AM previous night)

7.15 AM: Considerately send sms to colleague for information.

8 AM: Call colleague. He takes two minutes to recognize you. He asks you to come to office by 9.30 AM

10.15 AM: Come to office to work. No company bus today, so had to take 3 share autos to cover the 20 km distance from home.

Oh! I forgot to mention. Come to office to work to help out your colleagues who are behind in their work.

10.17 AM: Realize that you are still the first one to land up.

11.30 AM: They realize they don’t need your help. Yet. Please wait.

1 PM: Sorry, they expected loads of work but...Please stay till the conference call in the afternoon.

1.15 PM: You learn that the call is scheduled at 3 PM. My god, another two hours!

2 PM: Lunch? Well, we had a heavy brunch before we came. Biscuits? Sorry no thanks.

2.30 PM: Come back from lunch. Find call rescheduled to 4 PM.

3.59 PM: Postponed again to 4.30 PM. I stare intently at my colleagues. Colleagues stare intently into their computer screens.

4.31 PM: Colleagues start calling me "The Haunting Man" as I keep wandering the office halls. I try to think of my favorite things.

8 PM: Finally out of the office after the conference call which was supposed to last half an hour but dragged on for two hours. Decide to cut my losses and head straight for home.

My sincere thanks to all the blogs, news websites, and the sites (will remain unnamed) which allow illegal music downloads, who helped me get through the ordeal.

Looking forward to Monday morning blues.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Barking Down the Phone

We all do it. When the telecom company calls us to remind us about the bill payment when the due date is still ten days away,

"Hey listen, I have been your customer for four years, and I have never missed a payment. You don't have to remind me."

Or in this situation,

"Yes, I need a credit card. My designation is- Convicted Serial Killer and Jailbird."

But if you have been a Sales Manager handling field sales like I once was, you have probably turned it into a fine art. I am sure the armed forces and the ubiquitous police job involve a lot of barking too, but my consideration set here is strictly white collar. Maybe the shop floor manager is a close competitor but nothing matches the breadth of barking requirements of a sales manager's job. You need to bark at subordinates, partners and also customers (you see, we don't just sell, sometimes, we also collect). Occasionally, we also need to bite.

It was the most unsuitable choice of profession for me after B School. Thanks mainly to the seventeen years of a Tamil Iyer upbringing which turns us into the most docile and the 'nicest guys' (read wimp) on the planet. A couple of months of ragging (I remember at least three sound slaps) in Pilani (though not anymore, ragging is now a very bad word there nowadays) helped. I also remember a very sound admonishment (a lot of F... words were used) in my MBA internship from my guide who happened to be an RM of a reputed FMCG (still in touch with him).

But nothing had prepared me for it as almost everyone in my first company seeked out my company-in my training period as a Management Trainee-to 'take my happiness'. Over time and a lot of heartburns later ("What did I do wrong??"), I developed a thicker skin and learnt to dish it out as well by the time I took independent charge of my territory.

Looking back, joining sales was the best mistake of my life.

In contrast my current job in IT is like a vacation. People are civil to the point of being almost boring and the only hope of a confrontation is when many of us in the overcrowded company gym here look to pounce on the 7.5 kg dumbbells which are in short supply. I almost miss the autowallahs of Chennai.

So when even after four days of the payment, I couldn't access the internet, I called up the
Iqara broadband salesman. I had taken his mobile number (the first rule).

Time was 9 PM. (Second rule- more inconvenient the time, the better)

"Mr. Suresh, this is Anand Bharadwaj from Rajeev Nagar." (Notice the "Mr.?” always sets the nice tone)

"Yes Sir, I think the cabling has been completed". Good attempt. Trying to lead the conversation. (The whole conversation actually happened in a mix of Hindi and bad English, from both sides)

"Who gives a shit about cabling? Its four days and am still not able to browse." (Tone and stress are of prime importance here)

"Yes sir, I will check with the engineer and inform you tomorrow and...". Aha, the first mistake,

"Inform??" Getting rhetorical now. "I don’t want any information. When I come home tomorrow, I should be able to browse." I then labored about him being very quick to collect the money but not delivering on his promise and warned him about postponing it past the coming weekend and ended with,

"The cheque has cleared right?" Demanded an answer. A low blow. Needed to get under the thick skin.

"Yes, sir. Of course, sir.."

“Then what’s the problem?” Let him know that I didn't want to call him again tomorrow night and banged the phone down. I hope he was having his dinner.

A little rusty, but not bad at all.

P.S. We sales managers are not all bad. Drinking with the boys, sharing stupid jokes, being a close friend and confidante, also goes with the territory, but that’s a subject for another post.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Morning TV and My Guitar Story

Every day between 6 AM and 7 AM, my mom puts on Vijay TV and watches a guided tour of some temples. Sometimes a serious looking chap discusses interesting topics like astrology, palmistry or numerology. Sometimes people sit and sing very slowly. ("This is classical music".)

I protest feebly a couple of times, while admiring myself in the mirror before getting into the shower or while adjusting my tie. Till the TV is drowned out by the screaming which starts in the neighborhood school as those kids shout their prayers and that’s my cue to leave.

Today, as she went into the kitchen for something, I quickly grabbed the remote, put it on mute and browsed the channels for something mutually acceptable. Voila! On B4U music, there was Kishore Kumar singing "Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si" to Madhubala. It’s one of my all time favorites.

When I was twelve, my parents enrolled me into guitar classes with an old witch in the neighborhood. After some mindless torture of my completely unsuitable-for-guitar-playing short and thick fingers for a couple of months, we finally started playing some songs. One day when the witch was in a democratic mood, she asked me what song I would like to learn to play. At which I immediately rendition the above mentioned song. The witch was shocked for a moment, and then started laughing loudly.

Horny kid, she must have thought. The elder girl students who till now thought I was cute, now looked suspiciously at me and the boys noticed my existence after my bold suggestion. Of course, the witch completely disregarded me and proceeded to teach us to play the National Anthem, standing up of course. I didn’t last very long in the class after that.

My real guitar learning started a few years later in BITS when I started hanging out with
Arjun "The Devil" Vajala in the second semester. One day, after I had mastered the chords of Hotel C, I said,

"So what’s after this, just some general twing twing?"

"What?" he almost choked. "This general twing twing", he spat, "is one of the best guitar leads in the history of rock n roll."

He forgave me though and I have since become a better student and listener. The Devil went into another hostel from the third year and I had also discovered Thunderbolt Beer, Jenna Jameson and ‘The Age of Empires’ by then.

Never had the fingers for the guitar anyway. Still have the guitar though.

"Aee Do Jahaan Ke Maaaliii!!!!"

The screaming has started. Time to leave.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Quick Death

My aunt in Canada is very ill and has been hospitalized. She is also in some pain. Mom and me were talking about her the other night when she said,

"You know it’s very tough to cope with health problems in your old age. When I go, I hope it is quietly and quickly."

"Like Grandma?" I said.

"Yeah, something like that. She complained of chest pains one night and she was gone within three hours."

She also told me about an old relative who passed away watching TV while her family was setting up the table for dinner.

"And, Dad too?" I ventured. My Dad died of a heart attack a couple of year’s back.

"Yes, but that was unfortunate. That is not an age to die" she sighed.

My dad was 54.

I thought about it after she left my room. I remember thinking that I would like to fall from a great height and break my neck to end mine.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Talking Chess

Avoid this post. It’s just me and an old friend of mine, Naveen (Nana) chatting about our common hobby, chess.

anbharadwaj: Twelve-year-old Negi gets his second GM norm
indian_genius: wow! thats great news!
indian_genius: equal to 5 series wins against pakistan.. unfortunately not front page news
anbharadwaj: he he...yeah..seriously..
anbharadwaj: he would have been a superstar in russia or any of the east european countries..
indian_genius: so one more to go before the title and the world record?
anbharadwaj: i dont think he will be the youngest ever...i think Carlsen got it earlier...but he will be the youngest GM around if he gets there soon..
indian_genius: who's carlsen?
anbharadwaj: Magnus Carlsen, winner of Wijk Aan Zee, Group B
anbharadwaj: Norwegian..
anbharadwaj: rating 2550+ and 14 yrs. i think..
indian_genius: hmm..impressive...
anbharadwaj: who, carlsen, or my knowledge of chess current affairs..
indian_genius: both!!
indian_genius: sometimes u wonder what u have achieved despite being twice as old as these ppl have achieved in 15 years
anbharadwaj: i dont wonder...i know...nothing!
indian_genius: a degree, a job and a mundane life.. or maybe i'm talking abt myself alone here anbharadwaj: u shud get married nana... or have u already?!
indian_genius: no i mean.. i know i have achieved nothing.. am wondering what it must take to resolve to achieve something so young...
indian_genius: why? so that i could add job, degree, marriage to my list of "accomplishments"? indian_genius: the answer is nowhere close bye
indian_genius: btw
anbharadwaj: good deeds in your last life..?!
indian_genius: well.. i won 3 games straight on yahoo games y'day
indian_genius: that's all i have in terms of accomplishment...
anbharadwaj: wow! you know, its never too late to start, u know...
indian_genius: have struggled to a 1500 rating..which is roughly half of anand's elo rating anbharadwaj: if u give up your job, i will give up mine and become ur coach!
anbharadwaj: 1500? i thought you told me once that you were an 1800+ guy..
indian_genius: 1800+? must have been in my school/college days..
indian_genius: no way with my current levels..
anbharadwaj: hardly play any chess myself...make do with following games played in tournaments..
indian_genius: we shud play sometime.. the only question is how many moves u'll take to crush me
indian_genius: remember those days we had analysed the dragon to death?
indian_genius: before the inter-univ tournaments?
anbharadwaj: yeah...and i still lost playing it
indian_genius: I actually used to played the dragon virtually every time with black..
indian_genius: yeah..and now I can't find my bearings after 8-10 moves
indian_genius: that's the pits.. i actually got crushed online on yahoo by somebody with a typical king side attack.. that was the pits
anbharadwaj: yeah...but it used to be frustrating as opponents used to play Bc4 and d3 and then its no fun...
indian_genius: well yeah... but one of the final rounds, my opponent went nearly all the way..
indian_genius: g4, h4, 0-0-0 and all..
anbharadwaj: yeah, nowadays everybody knows the refutation to the classical dragon...
indian_genius: and he was a very strong opponent too..remember i had to play out of my skin to save the attack..
anbharadwaj: there's something called the accelerated dragon now for black...
indian_genius: but the key in the sicilian is the end game, isn't it?
indian_genius: if u can survive the middle game, the end game gives black a cleaner pwn structure
indian_genius: so better chances even on equal material
anbharadwaj: most of my sicilians are decided b4 the endgames either for or against..
indian_genius: hmm..true...but if you are up against it, sometimes u just remember that if u can survive and simplify, u have more than even chance..
anbharadwaj: hmmm...i guess...i havent played the dragon much after BITS a Najdorf convert..
indian_genius: actually that's the killer instict i seem to lack now playing chess on yahoo...when i get into complex situations, i usually backed myself to get out if it earlier.. now no more.. anbharadwaj: yeah...i remember u used to grind ur heels in and defend mightily against anything..
anbharadwaj: and all of attacks used to come up short!
indian_genius: correct.. always thought there was one precise move against every attack... all that remains is to eliminate the bad moves and u can find it every time..
indian_genius: of course, then we wud play wth mor time.. today's chess is all instant.. 12 minute games are supposed to be slow
indian_genius: hardly anybody plays with unlimited time.. gives u no time to dig into positions..
anbharadwaj: i am still horrible with those time limits...i never had a talent for playing fast..
indian_genius: need to learn the najdorf from u.. always run short of ideas after 10-12 moves there
anbharadwaj: please...even i cant tell u anything more than 10-12 all sicilians, wait for white to overreach and then counter attack...thats all..
indian_genius: talking abt najdorf, did u see anand's game against karjakin?
anbharadwaj: amazing!
indian_genius: yup.. what a game!
anbharadwaj: yes i did, what a game...
anbharadwaj: he gave up two pieces so calmly...
indian_genius: i thought e5 was supposed to be bad for black in najdorf...seems like standard now..
anbharadwaj: he must have seen 15 moves ahead when he played Nc7!, i think...
anbharadwaj: yes, thats the sveshnikov variation, became well known after Leko's success with it...
indian_genius: no even before that...who wud have thought u could confidently play b4 in response to g5, then a4 in response to f5... u have to really believe in black's ability to create a mating attack..
anbharadwaj: mebbe he beleived in white ability(or lack of it) to create enuf problems!anbharadwaj: thats how he lost to Kamsky!
indian_genius: i agree though.. nc7 was pure genius.. actually i'm surprised that karjakin took the knight and walked straight in..
indian_genius: well, i didn't see that kamsky game..
anbharadwaj: yeah...he came up short tactically there...
indian_genius: which round, u remember?
anbharadwaj: somewhere in the middle...5th or 6th i think..
indian_genius: got it.. round 6..
indian_genius: u r a god.. u remember everything
anbharadwaj: he castled queenside in a queens gambit game..playing the black side...
indian_genius: cool.. quite unheard of right?
anbharadwaj: yeah...he underestimated his opponent..
anbharadwaj: and he played cautiously for the rest of the tournament, gave draws with white to people like Mamedyrov and Tiviakov...
indian_genius: anand of all ppl underestimated kamsky?
indian_genius: one who made life hell for him in the challengers?
anbharadwaj: seriously...u wud thik he would know better given their history!
anbharadwaj: the report said that he has now lost his last 2 games against kamsky...
anbharadwaj: the previous one being Dos Hermanes '95!
indian_genius: yeah.. kamsky has always been his nemesis
indian_genius: hey.. this was not a question of attack...this was bad pawn structure..
indian_genius: i can't believe he played f5.. weakened his e-pawn which got evntually gobbled up..
anbharadwaj: yeah...he overeached..
indian_genius: and he actually lost an opposite coloured bishop ending! even with a pawn down..
anbharadwaj: yeah..i think kamsky had connected central passers?
indian_genius: no he created them! i think anand mishandled the ending too..
indian_genius: his king move at the beginning was a mistake.. he gave a pawn virtually for free..
anbharadwaj: hmmm...i think kamsky played well in the middle and endgame....
indian_genius: kamsky started winning only after he gobbled another pawn on the g file..
anbharadwaj: in his other games..he lost most of his games right out of the opening...
indian_genius: u know the rule right.. opp coloured bishops with a pawn are fine.. u have to create a blockade on the same color as ur bishop..
indian_genius: which was the other loss?
anbharadwaj: u shud check another inter interesting game, Anand vs Tiviakov, draw for tiviakov playing scandinavian!
anbharadwaj: Anand virtually never had a chance...
indian_genius: which round mr genius?
anbharadwaj: hmmm..10, 11?
indian_genius: 11 it is!! you are a certified genius
anbharadwaj: thank u thank u
indian_genius: why did he give up the g pawn?? don't understand that..
anbharadwaj: i think he was lookin for some initiative which he never got any advantage of...
indian_genius: relatively boring game after initial sparks..
indian_genius: although i wouldn't want to play queen endgames.. u have to analyze so much in those..
anbharadwaj: yeah...disappointing result for Anand against the scandinavian...
indian_genius: u mean he shud have won against a "weak" opening like scandinavian?anbharadwaj: of course, and comparitively a 'weak' opponent like Tiviakov
anbharadwaj: if u r looking u shud check out another rocking game, Topalov-Aronian, not sure about the colors...
indian_genius: was looking at another anand win..
indian_genius: bacrot..round 8..
anbharadwaj: oh yeah...he ate up bacrot...
indian_genius: have seen till move 42, and still white (bacrot) seems to have the edge... bizarre game! am wondering how he lost
anbharadwaj: in the end...blunder!
anbharadwaj: bacrot made a bigger blunder against topalov too in the endgame and lost!anbharadwaj: and that too in a King pawn endgame...
indian_genius: no wonder... what a pity.. its move 50 and still i wud put my money on white! atleast a draw..
indian_genius: wow.. cool game.. don't think this was a blunder alone.. it's amazing how much anand was putting on him the last few moves just with the rook, b and n...pins, double attacks, forks et al.. ..skilful play forcing the blunder..
anbharadwaj: yeah...attack out of nowhere...
indian_genius: actually.. was looking at the last position...have u seen it?
anbharadwaj: i seen it before...not right now..why?
indian_genius: on 2nd wondering why he resigned there? am sure i'm missing it..
indian_genius: they don't have annotations in these games right?
anbharadwaj: i think he was going to lose his a pawn or something...?!
anbharadwaj: where r u lookin...corus?
indian_genius: yup..
indian_genius: yeah.. but he's getting it back..
anbharadwaj: they have a report, also in chessbase...they have a report...
indian_genius: he could lose one more, but could turn out to be rook awn 2 vs. 1.. not hands down winning always//
indian_genius: ok...chess base eh?
indian_genius: how do u search?
anbharadwaj: hmmm...go to any round report which will have lonks to other round reports and games...
indian_genius: hmm.. i searched online database for anand bacrot..
indian_genius: the last game was Oct 2004..
anbharadwaj: no no...go to round 13 big report..
anbharadwaj: 63.Rb4 Nf3+ 64.Kh3 Ne1 65.Bd1 Nd3
anbharadwaj: analysis after resignation
indian_genius: yup..indian_genius: i was wondering abt Rb4 only.. got my answer!
indian_genius: so he basically will get 2 pawns.. quite a bizarre game actually.. the commentator seems to agree..
anbharadwaj: yeah..
indian_genius: saw a photo of this guys magnus carlsen as well..
indian_genius: so young..
anbharadwaj: yup...he will play in group A next year!
indian_genius: even karjakin looks so young..
anbharadwaj: yeah..16 i think!
indian_genius: anand my contrast looks visibly old .. am sure he has a few good yrs in him though..hope he makes 3000+
anbharadwaj: whoa! 3000+...only if he get the fritz 9 installed in his brain!
anbharadwaj: he's on his best rating ever, so I guess he's playing the best chess of his life...
anbharadwaj: kasparov was at the top of the game till he was 40+ so maybe vishy has a few more years left in him...
indian_genius: exactly.. and sustaining 2750+ for a few yrs now is more and more he's doing gr8..
anbharadwaj: the site has good photos rite?
indian_genius: was just seeing the other game u mentioned...
indian_genius: topalov aronian.. boring till move 15.. and suddenly xchange sac out of the blue!anbharadwaj: topalov is the king of exchange sacs!
indian_genius: fundu game...
indian_genius: even at the end... playing 2 bishops vs. 2 rooks..but connected passed pawns proving deadly..
anbharadwaj: yeah...its a kind of a game which i think a comp program will not play...
indian_genius: wonder if he saw it all when he saced the exchange!
anbharadwaj: i dont think he would foreseen the the second exchange sac when he made the first...
anbharadwaj: the second actually made the game fit for a collection!
anbharadwaj: a beauty!
indian_genius: yeah... although psychologically first wud have been toughest.. position looked so innocuous! by the time the second came, it was a bit clearer that he wud have compensation...
anbharadwaj: yeah...u r right...but Topalov does it again and again...there's an article on the corus site about the exchange sac...discusses about 5-6 games of Topalov over the years having exchange sacs...
indian_genius: is it? how do u search?
anbharadwaj: hmm..i think its on the right hand pane...
indian_genius: oh..27 Jan, exchange sacrificer! got it..
anbharadwaj: i had read another funny article on chess about why Tal was a compulsive sacrifice player...
anbharadwaj: because in his chess rules...a knight never goes he has to sacrifice the knight!
indian_genius: powerful logic considering he was world champ at a time when there were so many great players..
indian_genius: topalov sacs are amzing considering he doesn't get compensation for at least 10 moves after he made them! Almost makes them on instinct i think...
anbharadwaj: yeah...he has a feel for the position...almost like how Tal used to play...
indian_genius: he even made the sac against anand.. and then drew after nearly 80 more moves indian_genius: 97 move matches at this level must be nothing short of gruelling...
anbharadwaj: yeah...Anand was better actually i think in that game..but couldnt convert...
indian_genius: must be heartbreaking for the guy who thought he could win..bcoz otherwise they cud have agreed to a draw before
indian_genius: oh, so it was anand?
anbharadwaj: i think the game see sawed..ultimately i think Anand was giving perpetuals
indian_genius: yeah.. that's right.. last 7-8 moves
indian_genius: btw, this online database is amazing!
indian_genius: virtually every game available on pgn for free?
anbharadwaj: yup, you could also check out
anbharadwaj: you will find all games played ever!
indian_genius: yes the same site..
indian_genius: it has a link to
indian_genius: which allows u to search by player, by match etc... all games!
anbharadwaj: no,
indian_genius: ok..
anbharadwaj: oh ok, chessgames has detailed chess theory lots of discussion forums...
indian_genius: looks like a grand site..lots of details..
anbharadwaj: yup, its a monster site...
anbharadwaj: though not much reporting...for that nothing beats chessbase
indian_genius: i just played the ivanchuk-topalov xchange favourite dragon.. and am still baffled as to why white resigned!
indian_genius: mr genius...any site with games and annotation as well?
indian_genius: i know i'm asking for too much now...
indian_genius: but then u never know with the internet.. could actually be surprised..
anbharadwaj: hmmm....actually these are the only sites i visit...another one is
indian_genius: btw.. do u have the chessmaster cds?
indian_genius: i think v10 is the latest...
indian_genius: has a couple of tutorials that are really nice...
anbharadwaj: nope...browsing websites is my only activity related to chess as of now...
indian_genius: apart from of course an entire opening database and a vast collection of games..
indian_genius: the reason i got it is that pirated versions are easy to get here!
indian_genius: btw, in touch with any of the bits chess guys?
indian_genius: vinay?
anbharadwaj: oh...even if i got it, I dont think i will have the patience to do justice to it...
anbharadwaj: no touch with Vinay at all...wat abt u?
indian_genius: same here... no time and no patience either... so much is the pity..
indian_genius: no.. lost touch a long time ago.. he was in bangalore only the last time we were in touch...
indian_genius: but that was ages ago..
indian_genius: finished b-school and was working with one of the fmcgs i think...
anbharadwaj: huh? i thought he was with Bank of America...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Leprosy, Aid and Jeffery Sachs

A couple of articles caught my eye the other day. One said that India has now succesfully 'eliminated' Leprosy. Eliminated, mind you, not eradicated. Eradication will take another 20-25 years. Elimination means that we now have less than 1 case for every 10000 people. Which still leaves more than a lakh people in our country afflicted with this terrible condition. I guess when the press release said that eradication will take 20-25 years, it meant that by then most of these people will be dead. Because, if I am not wrong, it is not something which can be cured, if in an advanced stage. Please correct me if I am wrong.

The closest I came to see leprosy was in my sales training stint with my first company in Chennai, more than 3 years ago. I had gone on one of my rural 'beats' along with the salesman.

"Sir, will you go there, there's a leper colony there."

"Of course", I said and so we went.

I think they used the coconut oil for massage purposes, and hence the commercial interests. I had thought about it for a day or so then and forgot all about it.

Till now. Strange thing, this memory.

The second article, which I noticed, was about Europe threatening to stop aid to Palestine unless the new Hamas government falls in line with their demands.

And the reason that I now notice such articles is because I just finished reading "The End of Poverty" by Jeffery Sachs. He doesnt talk of leprosy, but does talk of the problems faced by African nations due to Malaria and Aids. He doesnt talk of Hamas, but does talk of the importance of Aid which needs to be given by the rich countries, especially the US to remove extreme poverty from the face of the earth (Extreme poverty is a situation when a person earns less than a dollar a day). The book is comprehensive in its coverage and Sachs makes an almost convincing argument.

Thank you for making me think, Jeffery Sachs!