August 31, 2011

A collection of Nincompoops

What is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons?
Believe it or not ....... a Congress!

‎...and do you know what is the collective noun for a group of owls??
A Parliament :)

...and do you know why the parties that form the govt keep running away whever questions are asked ??
Bcoz they are a Coalition of Cheetahs! :)

The best of all:

Arrogance of MPs !!

July 28, 2011

One of my Oldest patients

This post is part of a series of posts in a dual duel between me and Shruti of Better Butter. She suggested that I should write about this.

The Oldest patient I had was about 93 years of age, a frail old lady with great composure. She had a tooth hanging along which would not come out so easily and so I was requested to do the needful. Neither the case nor the patient was of any trouble. So I should talk about another 'oldie'.

This was during the student days and the Third year requires us to have some knowledge of General Medicine and General Surgery. Since they assume that dentists need not know those subjects as docs do, the training is rather mild. 

However, during exam time, we are supposed to examine patients at random and take a detailed case history and suggest treatment for the case. What the hospital staff does is have a few easier cases put up for us so that we could do well in the practicals.

One such patient was named John. He was a chronic asthmatic and was called to get admitted to the hospital during every practical exam. He was a heftily built fellow who appeared to be around 60 years of age, but claimed to be 85 years old. Hence on this post. 

This chap was admitted and treated for free and was given free meals (proper ones, sometimes even Biryani and the like) so that he could be cooperative during the exam. We had heard cases from our seniors that he even demanded a bottle to be cooperative.

Fortunately for me, I was assigned his bed to take up the case history. And he had the answers ready as if on rote for every question I posed to him. Only when I re-questioned him on his supposed age did he get flinchy. He even dared me to visit his home so that he could show me proof of his age. But when I completed him on his physique he mellowed down and became more cooperative.

And when I had finished, guess what he did.. yeah, like a true Indian, asked for Chai-paani !! Had I had an inkling those ten years back that I would be writing this, I would have given him some Chai Biskut!!

So Shru, Why do u conceal your four letter words behinds inanities like Fish, Flop, etc... and not use the real word when you actually mean it?

July 09, 2011

Rail Gyaan again!

Its been a long time since a railway related post on this page. So here it comes.

Last weekend saw myself, Vivek and Manish having a few hours at our disposal. And off we trudged together towards Tandur, on the Hyderabad-Wadi section on the Mumbai line. We took the 57517 Hyderabad-Tandur passenger and returned by the pairing train. We barely made it to the Begumpet station in time racing against the traffic but we need not have worried as the train was late and was made to hang on till an hour late running Konark had to go first. Anways we started just an hour and a half late, which made matters worse later as were were first halted at Vikarabad for the Nanded-Bangalore express to reverse and head away and then again at Godamgura for a double whammy overtake by the Hussain Sagar and SC-Rajkot expresses. The enchantingly beautiful weather added to the fun and we were playing hide n seek with the showers. The run was slow and had it not been for the good weather and great company, it would have been sad. We reached Tandur a good couple of hours delayed. However, the return was almost spectacular by comparison and we got back to BMT in the correctly designated time.

Vivek had a cam along and the following are snaps taken by him. I wanted to let out some rail-gyaan and so selected these snaps.

The Double Yellow: Attention

Indian Railway's predominant signalling these days follows the Multi-aspect Colour Lighting (MACL) and one of the frequent signal aspects you will see is the 'Double yellow'. This is a permissive aspect and signifies that the next signal would either be another Double Yellow or Yellow (Caution) or Red (Danger, also called On). The Loco Pilots are advised to be attentive towards the next signal and reduce speeds.

The Mickey

No. Walt Disney has not made his way into Indian Railways. These signals are nickenamed Mickeys by railfans as from a distant perspective, they appear like a Mickey Mouse silhoutte. These signals are either Red or Yellow with one or more arms lit green, signifying a change in the track, especially if the train would be moving to a platform line which is on a loop and not the mainline. The number of arms are equal to the number of loops in the station.

For larger stations where there are more than 4-5 platforms/loops, the arms are replaced by a digital LED display box which displays the track number (technically called Road Number).

The Milestone

The Milestone is a very important piece of information dispenser. Milestones are marked as per Zonal/Divisional jurisdictions and refer to the distance of the spot from the  designated interchange. For example, the above very interesting milestone marker is at Vikarabad Jn. This indicated a distance of 111kms from the Zonal interchange at Wadi Jn. The count reduces as we go towards Wadi on this section. Noting the milestone markers is a great way of finding how far you are from your destination and also helps in speed calculations.

The second part of the number is just a count within the kilometer. Generally, there are 16 stones in a kilometer. In electrified territories, similar markings are seen on the OHE catenary poles. However, in large station premises, electric traction poles have markings of pole number rather than the mile.

The Caboose

Everyone of us have witnessed the fight sequence in the goods train in Sholay. Or more recently, the climax in the movie Bunti aur Babli. These were shot in the guard's van attached at the tail of a goods train, technically called a Caboose. Commonly a 4 wheeled wagon with two small balconies, it is a very boring place to be in, especially if your alone, just like the guard of the train. These days the 4 wheeled jerker is being replaced by the 8 wheeled and more longer version, made out of old wagon chassis, and is more comfortable than ever before. It houses a simple seat/bed, brake levers and a small rack to keep stuff. A fan, if you are lucky. 

The above image is of an Oil carrying tanker rake. In tanker rakes, the tankers are never attached directly to the engine for safety purposes. An empty wagon or a flatbed wagon is attached. A few zones have now started attaching an 8-wheel caboose at either ends of the tanker rake which saves on shunting time.

Grand Finale

The last coach/wagon of each train consist has a red circular board with LV written in bold white. This indicates that it is the 'Last Vehicle' in the rake and acts as a safety feature. All trains, and even light locos on longer runs too bear this. 

The Timing Sheets

The Indian Railways publishes its Time table every year valid from July to June next year. And so it has this year too. In the days when there were 9 zones, there used to be one consolidated timetable of all mail/express trains of the country and zonal ones for each zone, which had all trains of the zone plus major ones of the nation. Now with 17 zones, we continue with the national one, the Trains at a Glance for the entire country, and there are 5 zonal TTs for the North, South, East West and Central regions. Costing about 25-35 bucks each, a zonal and a national TT is a must keep.

And yes, since its July, timings of a lot of trains gets altered slightly and this year is no different. So check out the TT for the exact departure time at your station, lest you are left seeing the LV plate of the train running away past the signal post !

June 24, 2011

The DRS vs a DRS !

I follow two sports the most. Cricket and Formula One. The past year has seen both the sports introduce a new path-breaking technology abbreviated as the DRS. In cricket it stands for the Decision Review System, while in F1 it expands to the Drag/Downforce Reduction System.

Majority of the rote drivers in F1 have loved the system which enables a car behind to overtake the one in front by opening up a part of its rear wing, thereby reducing the drag on the straights and adding a few tens to the speed. It has also been derided because it gives no scope to the man ahead to actively defend his position and makes him a sitting duck.

Just look at this video and see for yourself how easily Jenson Button can get past Kamui Kobayashi. Not denying that Jenson is a good driver, but under normal circumstances, I know for sure that Kamui will fight tooth and nail to retain his position and Jenson would have to use all his brawn and brain to get ahead. Not now. Kamui is history at the flick of a Button, pun intended. Have a look.

Indians being Indians, we cannot accept something thats not Indian without stomping over it. The stomped one here is Cricket's version of the DRS, which allows upto two unsuccessful attempts at questioning an umpire decision. But hey, the Lords at the BCCi are not too enamoured by this all and have questioned (!) and lampooned the system depending on their individual whim! Turn back the calendar about 5 years back. Did the same BCCI not question and lampoon the T20 version calling it names like gully cricket and tamasha and the like. In just over half a decade, the same tamasha is being sold by the BCCI for billions. It has embraced the T20 format like no other. I hope the same fate befalls the DRS and that the BCCI accepts it - nay, embraces it - as soon as possible.

May 20, 2011

Splash down

May 03, 2011

Hear the PIN drop!

Folks.. here is an interesting compilation of repartee which literally made the Pin drop! Have fun:

Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw once started addressing a public meeting in English at Ahmedabad.

The crowd started chanting, "Speak in Gujarati. We will hear you only if you speak in Gujarati."

Sam stopped. Swept the audience with a hard stare and replied, "Friends, I have fought many a battle in my long career. I have learned Punjabi from officers of the Sikh Regiment; Marathi from the officers of the Maratha Regiment; Tamil from the officers of the Madras Sappers; Bengali from the officers of the Bengal Sappers , Hindi from the officers of the Bihar Regiment; and even Nepali from the officers of the Gurkha Regiment.

Unfortunately there was no Army officer from Gujrat from whom I could have learned Gujarati."

You could have heard a pin drop.
The Pin Drops a Second time

At a time when the US President and other US politicians tend to apologize for their country's prior actions, here's a refresher on how some former US personnel handled negative comments about the United States.

JFK'S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when Charles DeGaulle, the French President, decided to pull out of NATO. DeGaulle said he wanted all US military personnel out of France as soon as possible. Rusk responded "Does that include the 180,000 US soldiers who were buried here to liberate your country from the Nazis in the Second World  war?"

You could have heard a pin drop.

The Third Pin.
When in England , at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if US plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.

He answered by saying,

'Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.'

You could have heard a pin drop.
And the Fourth Pin?
There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft
carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.!What does he intended to do, bomb them?'

An american engineer stood up and replied calmly: 'Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?'

You could have heard a pin drop.

Did I hear the Fifth Pin?
A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks when a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.

He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'

Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, 'Maybe it's because many years ago, the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.'

You could have heard a pin drop.

The Final Pin drops.

Robert Whiting, an elderly US gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his briefcase. "You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. "Then you should know enough to have your passport ready." The American said, 'The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."  "Impossible. Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France !

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long, hard look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach , at 4:40am , on D-Day in 1944, to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchman to show my passport to."

You could have heard a pin drop!

April 28, 2011

Ubuntu Natty is here

The latest release of the FREE Operating system Ubuntu Linux version 11.04 aka Natty Narwhal Narwhal is out in the world today. A few of the features of the updated operating system are as follows:

If you want a CD of the same, you can get one from HERE

March 01, 2011

Public Murder

I won't even dare call this a Review. More of an Unview.

Myself, biwi and saali decided to head for some lunch and a movie this sunday afternoon. And the choices we had for the movies were pretty limited. After reading Nikhat Kazmi's and Taran Adarsh's 3 star reviews on some websites, decided to take on 7 Khoon Maaf, even though Rajeev Masanad seemed to advise against the move. The entire January and February months were spent going to umpteen weddings and we had no inclination to be present at Tanu & Manu's do. 

Tickets were freely available online (I hoped that the India Vs England match had to be responsible for that!), and so after a slightly mundane buffet lunch at Yakshaa (Above Brand Factory, Banjara Hills) we set out to Cinemax for the 4PM encounter.

Priyanka Chopra acted well. So did Naseeruddin, his son Vivaan, Annu Kapoor, Usha Uthup and people like Joh Abraham, Irrfan Khan and Neil Nitin Mukesh were just livestock in the screenplay.

The one who disappointed was Vishal Bhardwaj. Not only was the direction sloppy, the music too was unbearable. I liked the movie Kites. Found this one more boring. The stories were at best half baked. Priyanka remarries half a dozen times. When one's marriage culminates in a sad ending, one gets weary of venturing into something again. Not jump in half a dozen times. There should be more compelling reasons to do so. Unfortunately for the viewers, Vishalji did not show us any. No one murders in such cold blood as Priyanka did. There was an ocean of insensitivity about her character which the director attempted to mask as a soft corner in the woman's heart. Bad move. She appeared more a psychopath rather than a person wronged.

From someone who had kept the viewers at the edges of their seats in epics like Omkara and Kaminey which really had much less meat in the storyline, it was extremely disappointing.

And yeah, I don't know if I had slept off in the interim, but I counted only 6 murders. Maybe, the audience were the seventh!  ;)

February 12, 2011

Train Numbering brainwave!

Brainwaves strike the most when one is on the pot! This one was probably a little late unfortunately.

Members might be aware that I had proposed a method of train numbering which could solve the problem of the superfast series for the next few years. And it was based on the 4-digit format.

However, my proposal remained just that and IR went ahead with a 5-digit scheme. I was not really impressed by the current scheme especially with regards to the Mail/Express trains. I contacted the CPRO - SCR's office and one generous soul told me that there might be further rationalisation of the numbers during the next time-tabling! Having resigned to fate, I accepted the current numbering scheme.

This morning, the tube lit! Here's how:

For SF/M/E trains, just add '0' in between! 

2728 Godavari Express becomes 27028.

7018 SC-RJT becomes 70018.

In the 4 digit scheme, 27xx series could handle only 49 pairs of trains. In my 5-digit scheme, it went upto 499. Ditto for 7xyy, and so on for others, retaining the original Zone-Div-Number or SF-Zone-Number system.

It would have also added 450 extra pairs of trains each to extremely overfilled 26xx, 28xx and 25xx series.

I'm not aware if this had already been proposed by anyone.