# ChronoTron

All your base are belong to us

## A Tale of One City – I

It seems to me that there is a lot of faux fur associated with the coat that is Chennai. This is especially true when that coat is worn by the fair lot residing above the Vindhyas, whose knowledge of my beloved city is in the same league as Dr. Abdul Kalam’s knowledge of Playboy magazine and Kim Kardashian’s idea of a successful marriage. Apparently, all Tamilians are dark- hey have you met our Chief Minister? Tamilians fear rotis more than Ganguly fears the short ball- not true, we have chappatis at home every alternate Wednesday. All South Indian women are smart*- indeed, gossip generally revolves around string theory and P vs NP. South Indians can’t pronounce Bhaiya properly to save their lives. Okay, maybe this one is true. Fortunately for my Northie readers, I have no intention of quelling such disturbances in the force and vindicating generations of wronged South Indians. Such heroic acts are best left to wriders of obun ludders from a neighbouring state. No, sir. Today I shall highlight one particularly Maddu** quirk that irks me to no end: the innate propensity to reach a place well insanely ahead of time.

For reasons unknown, the word Tardy seems to associate the same feeling in Chennaites as do the words Arson, Murder and Rape. And maybe a little less fear than the letters T.R (T.Rajendar or Supreme being, for the uninitiated) do. The word tardy also rhymes with Jeff Hardy. Okay, I don’t know why I said that but coming back to the point, Tamilians have this affinity for reaching any place well before the well-before-designated time. Not only is it fashionable to arrive at the railway station a good three hours ahead of the train, it is also becoming to rub it in the large noses of the latecomers- yes, i’m referring to those who arrived two hours before the train. Of course, one does not dare to argue the rationale behind this exalted practice. After all, it makes more sense to arrive well in advance and brave a queue for the next few hours (because most people got there ahead of you) than to enjoy the same few hours in an air-conditioned room and make it on time.

I believe that most Chennaites have a skewed sense of time, especially when it comes to deadlines and appointments. When a normal man says, “Let’s meet up at 5PM, dude”, he means… you guessed it right, “Let’s meet up at 5PM, dude”. However when a Chennai uncle utters these very words, rest assured he wants you to be there by 4:30 or else his boot shall connect with your rear when you arrive at 5, or god forbid later. Perhaps we take this whole race against time business too personally. I imagine, the average Chennai guy believes himself to be this dude:

Meet Keanu Ramachandran in Speedu. (Pardon my poor photoshopping skills)

Lest I forget, there is also the god-awful habit of waking up before the poor Sun even gets a chance to peep in and say Hello. It’s very common to expect people in most families to rise, shine, (head)bathe, finish morning pooja, finish more pooja for brownie points, Coffee 1, peruse all Editorials in the Hindu, Coffee 2 and strongly criticize the deteriorating quality of the paper to the crows on the windowsill while the aforementioned normal guy hasn’t even got a chance to press snooze yet. This complete disregard for time may owe its existence to a variety of reasons. A Freud might blame it on the tendency of the typical Indian male to … finish everything quickly. Frank Miller might view the Chennai guy as “a dionysian figure, a force for anarchy that imposes an individual order”. Karunanidhi might attribute it to his non-existent hairline as might Rakhi Sawant to her assets. But as any automan in the city might tell you, “This is not madness. This is Madras da Kaidha (Donkey)”.

I find it strange that I miss this place more than anything now.

*Dear Feminist,
Please to note, just because I take a dig at the intellectual pursuits of the South Indian woman, it does not necessarily mean that every male down under is a Sheldon replica.
P.S: If you are a feminist, get the hell out of my blog.

**Short for Madrasi. Not as offensive though.

Written by Chronoz

November 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

## The Big Fat Tamizh wedding: Part I

The day had all the markings of yet-another-bloody-saturday and would have probably passed for one had my mother not decided to surprise the world by gracing a wedding, an event as common as that of Ajit Agarkar not getting out for a duck. Against Australia. South Indian weddings are like Star Wars movies, unless you’ve already attended a few or read the opening crawl you won’t understand what’s going on, not that anybody cares. (*Background music for opening crawl*) The quintessential tam-brahm wedding has a few key features – nosy aunties adorned in bling weighing a few hundred tons, their equally annoying worse halves discussing issues of national importance such as the Re.1 price hike in Saravana Bhawan’s coffee rate, nosy aunties in silk, NRIs cribbing about Chennai’s excessive heat, haute girls of marriagable age making fashion statements that would have given Nirupa Roy and Paravai Muniyamma a run for their money, and did I mention nosy aunties? (*end music*) My dear mother, in what can only be termed as a momentary collapse of the entire cognitive machinery, as is so common with these aged people, arrived at the wedding hall a good hour and a half before dinner. The “Venakatachalam weds Jothilakshmi” banners had long given way to the more modern “Adithya weds Shweta”. Even before my mom could actually draw a chair, she was greeted by a high-pitched squeal that would have put Bianca Castafiore out of business. “Welcome! That red saree looks simply equiste. Surely you must have bought it in RandomSareeShop1768“.

We digress here to discuss the optimal wedding attending algorithm, an essential part of any operations research or optimization techniques course. Recent research has shown that for an ideal wedding experience, one must enter the hall precisely 12 minutes and 42 seconds before dinner is served. Attending a wedding well before dinner is not very different from reading a Chetan Bhagat novel, in the sense that both are utterly pointless. First, the entry must be furtive in order to avoid a plethora of awkward social situations (ASS for a good reason), ranging from the sixth grader and his mom who want to know how to get into IIT, to patronizing uncles eager to give out free advice and the dude from thatLocalEngineeringCollege you once hung out with, who refuses to let go. The remaining 12 mins can be summarized by the following steps:

1) Try cutting the queue with your best ‘I need to pee urgently look’. The good thing about hitting the queue close to dinner time is that the bridal couple would be so exhausted after meeting a million people that the average time per guest would have reduced exponentially.

2)The Gift, the most important part of the wedding. As much as the invitation may croon, “We only want your blessings”, nobody really gives two hoots to your blessing. Yes, now get over that! The gift cannot be a random item you picked in the flea market on the way; the price of the gift must be chosen according to the following equation.

$Price_{gift} = \frac{\lambda(Income_{groom}) + (1 - \lambda)(Income_{bride})}{100*closeness}$
where,
$\lambda$ is a factor depending on the MCP (Male chauvinist pig) coefficient of the family
closeness or degree_of_closeness is a number ranging from 1-10, one being the closest and 10, the farthest.

3)Give your fakest possible smile for the photograph. Putting your hands on the groom is allowed but frowned upon as most guests haven’t had a bath in ages, hands on the bride is a definite no-no. It is also important that you pull your chest up to hide that paunch. You don’t want little kids looking at the wedding pictures to comment on fat-uncle?

4) Run towards the dining hall at relativistic speeds trampling a couple of five year olds on the way to set an example for those dare to block your path. The same method however, does not apply to over-sized aunties. These fascinating women on the other hand, can be removed with the following 9 magical words “They are giving pineapple juice on the other side”.

Thanking Lord Ganesha and pineapple juice respectively for their parts in removing obstacles from your way, you go ahead and complete the ritual – eat to your hearts content and exit, stage right once again hoping to avoid those ASS’es on the way. Of course, my dear mother not having taken my wisdom all that seriously arrived at the wedding hall, sister in tow, well before dinner, blissfully unaware of the horrors to follow.

The middle aged ladies infesting weddings are primarily of two types – those who give you education funda, and those who sprinkle marriage funda; all for free mind you! Contrary to popular perception, the former, possessing the educational aura of an opposum, is no better than the latter. Stuck with I-know-everything aunty (IKEA for convenience), my mom probably understood how I felt in class everyday, an hour seemed like an eternity. After her dissertation on red sarees and every other shop in town, IKEA decided to move on to more irritating ventures.

“Shravan, your son, feels like a hundred years since I last saw him. Oh, he was so little then”. Liar, Liar. I clearly remember seeing this feminine menace a couple of years back and believe me, I haven’t grown a nanometre since. “What is he doing now?”

“Shreyas”, mom said. “He is in IIT Roorkee now”.

In what can only be termed as a curious case of reverse evolution, nature, for reasons beyond the scope of this post, saw it fit to bestow IKEA and her ilk with predatory hearing skills placing them on par with hawks, bloodhounds and owls. The mere mention of the magic word (IIT and not Shreyas!) was enough to bring the rest of IKEA’s clan to the spot. On hearing IIT, IKEA’s own eyes lit up. Now, there are some keywords that are bound to arouse any respectable tamizh woman from a respectable family. IIT, Siligon valley, YemYes, Sun DeeVee, 24-Carat and Palag Pannneeer reci-bee are of a few of them. Much to my chagrin, Rajnikanth, Chewbecca and 42 are not. Neither are IAS, B.Sc Sociology and gold-plated jewellery.

“Oh IIT! Our kids grow up so fast, don’t they?”, interjected another lady looking straight out of a saas-bahu serial, clearly having rehearsed this particular line around 6.023 x 10^23 times. My mom turned her glance towards the two unmarried, 25+ tanker lorries who happened to Avagadro aunty’s daughters. “Yes, they grow. A lot”, she concluded, the sarcasm missing the fine woman by a distance approximately equal to the radius of the earth (at the equators, not poles).

Not very pleased at having her flow broken, IKEA burst out with the noble intention of imparting geography to the simpletons surrounding her, “Roorkee, isnt that the place in orissa with the steel plant”?

It may be hard to believe but scientists predict that one day the sun will simply run out of energy, a day might come when Rajnikanth gets tried of bashing up baddies and a day when Master Yoda actually decides to attend grammar class. I am sure even on that day, IKEA would not shut up. “No, it’s near Haridwar”, mother corrected.

(To be continued…)

Written by Chronoz

September 19, 2010 at 11:38 am

## Krowing Pains

T’was, if my memory serves me right, the fall of ’00. Fall of course being a misnomer as far as Chennai is concerned. Despite senescence stripping from my memory most joys experienced as a kid, vague recollections indicate in ways more than one that I was in fact the rockstar of fifth standard C section. I had fulfilled the ultimate fantasy of many a fifth grader. I was in possession of a box full of Imation’s very best, 3.5 inch magnetic drives better known as floppy disks. That year saw my fame flirt with hitherto unseen levels. I had it all, the setup of QBasic obtained by coaxing the computer teacher, DOOM, Alladin, a million other DOS games, and virtually anything and everything that could fit under 1.4MB (Oh wait, I had the split software as well). My time at the top though, was extremely short-lived. Imation started manufacturing CDs and the morons who called themselves my classmates soon discovered that 700 is metaphorically a million multiplied with 1.4. I painfully watched the blessed ones burn their way to the top, literally! I was at their mercy, for Claw, for Visual Basic and mp3 files which had by then gained prominence. I patiently bid my time. Revenge, I promised myself, would be sweet.

2006, a million RAM and motherboard failures later, we decided to go for one of those sleek new AMD Athlons. I was a man with a vision. Nothing less than a DWD RW +- would satiate my hunger, I growled. “Smart young man”, the chap who helped us assemble the system patronized, with sarcastic undertones that went totally over my head. 4.7GB was still a lot. I even bought a DVD RW with a friend, promising to update it with the latest software, a geek repository of sorts. Blinded by the constant burning, I was totally underprepared for the USB revolution that would follow. ‘Flash’y drives, no bigger than my own thumb had pied pipered my entire school. After that, I could never catch up; always two steps behind. My own 4GB pendrives became obsolete as the world oohed and aahed at those portable hard disks. 320GB, they claimed. More space than you could ever hope for, inside your palm. The following summers were filled with woes, and vows. I digress.

This summer was memorable in more ways than I myself could have ever imagined. Unlike the Pahadi Shutterbug, the sole purpose of whose internship was to return with a few million photographs, I do not have the fortune of sepia to relive my summer. No relics but for two Digital Versatile Discs with tales from a galaxy far, far away. This summer, I also treated myself to a Seagate Freeagent Hard drive. 1TB (931GB to be precise) of zeroes and ones shall fill my precious. And very soon, I shall once again be in vogue. Life comes a full circle.

P.S: I know that 2TB hard drives are commonplace nowadays but what the hell, Bill Gates once said

640K ought to be enough for anybody

Written by Chronoz

August 24, 2010 at 6:44 pm

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## A Thousand Splendid Suns

The very best of mankind’s creations have one thing in common – they have all been inspired by nature. Even nine year olds know how the avians inspired us to build the airplane, someone wiser about how owls led to the bullet train and an elite few as to how Jar Jar Binks was probably inspired by Lucas himself. Biomimetics is just a fancy term for one of the few things we are actually good at, reinventing the wheel. In this light, the thought of modeling network traffic along the lines of swarm behaviour no longer seems a ludicrous thought. But of course as is always the case, revolutionary ideas take a backseat in lieu of other pressing issues, namely a few lines of code and a report. Research, I’ve realized is pretty much the same everywhere. Just when you start making progress, someone else publishes a paper superseding yours and you get to take out all your frustration on the gullible B.Techs. Can’t wait for my postgrad really!

An uncanny love for faltoo facts and arbitrary capitalization (refer to the title) made sure I was never popular company on the net or off it. I’ve been endlessly chastised and termed useless but did you know that the word gymnasium is derived from the combining form gymno-, meaning nude or bare (in ancient Greece, they did train with nothing on). Any networks guy is bound to be fascinated by torrents, in my humble opinion one of the greatest innovations of this decade. There’s everything and voila, there’s nothing! But having discovered their true potential only this summer, I am in the words of a wise person ‘A child, just learning to walk for the first time’. Torrents are also a voyeur’s dream. A world where you can IP-search and kick out your peers just for the heck of it. Last I checked, a random Korean was leeching a Rajinikanth movie off me. And then there’s a certain linux distro ironically named humanity. Ubuntu keeps chucking more problems at me than life itself and yet there is something so alluring about the terminal. She’s not the hot girl you fantasize about, nor the one who keeps hitting on you. She’s the quintessential girl next door; the more you talk to her, the more you realize she’s awesome. And you’re probably going to end up marrying her. sudo get me a life.

My daily schedule leaves nothing to imagination. Hot chocolate in the morning followed by a session with the president on issues of national importance, some tips to Xavi and co on how to improve their passing and research during the rest of my time. Publishing papers by the morning and hot girls swooning over me in the nights, nuff said… All that in a different universe though. In this world, I just have coffee, savour the kannadiga’s greatest contribution to mankind, some more coffee, hone my LaTeXing skills and go back to sleep. A life-changing decision this summer notwithstanding, no points for guessing that it is this universe I prefer. I guess everyone has to go through the stage where they wonder whether they would have been better off with the blue pill. Though I guess it would hurt less if all you can see is code and have a kick-ass (literally) girlfriend to boot and oh, you get to smooch Monica Bellucci as well. I digress. A thousand splendid ideas and here I am just where I started. Perhaps I need a break. Maybe I need one of those pensieves. Maybe I need a hard kick. Maybe, May be, I just need more coffee. All is well with the world.

Written by Chronoz

July 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Yet Another Rant

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## Trainspotting

The journey of a thousand miles invariably begins with me offering prayers to all my favourite gods, hoping that I would be blessed with a companion in the train (keywords: despo, cute chick). That Murphy invariably ends up having the last laugh is a different story altogether. As I set foot upon my beloved M-Land, that too a day before superstar’s birthday (Happy Birthday Thalaiva!), the sirs and madams of my alma mater are busy following the road oft taken determined to end up as corporate hooters. Having obtusely incremented my six month long wait by four more days, I was wondering whether the charm of “home” was totally lost on this thick skin. But then, in a truly ‘skies lighten, faces brighten’ feeling, the boyish grin returned to my face the moment I left the portals of Azad.

There is something special about the Tamilnadu Express that words cannot explain. As I stand on platform number seven, (make no mistake, the magically most powerful number and one-sixth of the answer) listening to middle aged women abusing their hubbies in chaste Madras Basha and the local tea vendors trying to explain to the hindi-uninitiated lot that the chai costs rupees six and not five, there pervades a feeling that Chennai would have been proud of. Nevertheless there are those ignominious moments when conversations with co-passengers get a little too personal, and family details start tumbling out. It is at times like these that I have regretted my inability to pose questions in the vein of “Where did you say your co-brother was working again?”, “Oh! Your third sister’s second husband is a divorcee?”. Reminds of the truck which had a “Mera Bharat Mahaan” sign placed just above another one which said “Highly Inflammable”.

I’ve always wondered as to how every moron under the sun gets his own journey with a UOR Alumni who subjects the aforementioned chap to a sermon on the glorious heritage of the institute. Indeed, these are mere euphemisms and literary devices, I surmised. Yet, when I got my own forty two seconds of fame, the experience turned out to be nothing short of disappointing. The gentleman across me, a pass-out of my own department, rather than regaling me with old wives’ tales seemed quite apologetic about the fact that he had not graduated from an institute with a tag as glorious as the one I would get my degree from. The sole consolation came in the form of an apparent affair that a revered professor indulged in, with his lady hailing from a department just opposite the computer centre.

The journey of a thousand miles ended with the train reaching the famed Chennai central two full hours behind schedule, putting an end to the clichéd saga. Offering a stark contrast to the desi-bound hero of many a tamil movie, I wasn’t greeted by the smell of fresh jasmine nor was it the scent of the morning idli that my olfactory lobes picked up. Instead it a heady smell of rotten fish and dung that pervaded the platform, perhaps reminiscent of the octant of my life that I had just bid farewell to. I had read earlier in a beautiful editorial by Dog Day Afternoon’s predecessor, a comparison of Roorkee to a story book that appeared besmirched on the surface but yet even the fine print grew on you as you moved past the introductions. Indeed, my own lovely chapter opening many new eyes and paths, left me with a bitter-sweet smile with its deplorable ending. As the process of reshuffling priorities gets underway, I once again take inspiration from a great man’s immortal words hoping that the remaining chapters of my red-bound story book have something more holistic to offer.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king

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Written by Chronoz

December 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Posted in General News

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## Winds of Change

“A Maddu Related to time – 5 Weeks ago” croons the blogroll of a certain Mr.B. Speaking of Blogrolls, my own begs to be updated. The brightly lit population of R-land having to taken to blogging as the last resort to counter velagiri, it is high time I updated my blogroll with the newest bunch of illustrious names.  It was just the other day that the Mallu Marauder with his usual verbose pragmatism posed the question, “you have been a rather sedate blogger these vacations?”… more a double edged sword than a question.

The answer, I borrow from the Platonist, “It’s not time but me”.. And yet this summer has been an eye-opener of sorts. In all probability the most packed and productive summer of my whole eighteen years of existence. The realization of a certain Ex-Chairman’s, “The closer you get to Maddu land the more awesome you get” has fully dawned upon me (Awesome being a very subjective term of course). Very vividly, I recall the last few days spent at R-Land, the packing of books and the promise I made to myself, “Enough of ghissing. It’s time I started participating” with the most sincere of intentions. But now, the label of “ghissu”, nor the jeers of my compatriots matter nought, I know that my tryst with graph theory, parameterized complexity and the connected vertex cover and in general algorithms is far from over.

Inspirations come in different shapes and sizes. More often than not, it has been people. Be it Pete Sampras, Steve Jobs, innumerable family members, seniors at school and college or even teachers. This time however it is an environment that has opened my knowledge eye, to quote a tamil cliché. The summer programme has come at the right time and right place. Having rediscovered my passion for algorithms and been exposed to the fascinating world of Theoretical Comp.Science, I am left wondering whether I have found the answer to my life, the universe and everything else. Sample this:

1)       The atmosphere – brilliant
2)       The papers being published – mind blowing
3)       The rapport between PhD Scholars and profs – a stark contrast to my own dear institute

I am contemplating, with utmost seriousness, about a career in research. Research, as I have learnt, is slow and terribly frustrating but nothing beats the sheer joy of having discovered something by yourself. However insignificant it may be, it still remains a small step for mankind and giant leap for yourself.

Epilogue:

As awesome as Maddu Land is, R-land still commands a class of its own. “Results not yet finalized da”, the god of fun announced giving room to more frustration. One wonders whether we are expected to do a Pinky before finding out our true destination.

Fate hangs in the balance, but the road ahead is clear. All is well… for now.

Written by Chronoz

July 9, 2009 at 11:56 am