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Part of a Billion

Last week, a census taker visited us, and for the first time, included us in the National Census of India.

The only previous memory of being included in the census was in the 1981 census, when I was staying with my grandparents in Bangalore for the summer holidays. My grandmother was sitting on the stone step outside the front door, removing adulterants from rice, when the census taker visited. My grandmother being a teacher herself, she got into a conversation with the census taker, who was also a teacher. I was playing nearby, and remember being part of the conversation, though I doubt whether I made any insightful contributions, being all of six years old then. read more

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Airtel iPhone – Absurdly Overpriced

Finally, after months of teasing, the price of the Airtel iPhone was revealed. Any hopes I had of buying one were dashed when I got an SMS earlier today with the absurdly high prices of Rs. 31000 (~USD715) for the 8GB version and Rs. 36100 (~USD833) for the 16GB version. Another SMS told me I could book the phone by paying Rs. 5000 at an Airtel retail showroom. A third SMS told me I would then get an appointment to pick up an iPhone after I paid the full price.

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Summer Wedding

Last weekend took us on a whirlwind visit to Mumbai and Pune. Sriram, long-time friend, sharer in many an adventure (and misadventure!), sleeper at ten thirty, and a lot of other things, finally got hitched, and Vidya and I got a chance to see a Tam Brahm wedding from up close.

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The Price of Ignorance

… is fifty rupees, if you go by Magesh’s experience.

He was in his ancestral place – Mayiladuthurai – a couple of days ago, and was at a Sify I-way checking his email. Along comes a boy, and asks the person in charge of the center for a "Yahoo Messenger CD."

"Fifty rupees, and I have only the older version," says the cafe operator. The boy is not put off, and cheerfully pays the cash and takes the CD.

If the boy was going to install and use Yahoo Messenger, he probably has an internet connection. And if he has an internet connection, he probably can download Yahoo Messenger himself… read more

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What Blocked Blogspot

A few days ago, there was a hue and cry raised in the blogosphere and in Indian media about the Government blocking access to blogspot, typepad and geocities. Slowly it was revealed that the Government had little to do with the blocking. They had merely passed on a list of 18 “web sites” to all ISPs, demanding that they be blocked with immediate effect. The ISPs, obviously manned by ill-informed and technically inept people, went ahead and blocked entire domains. Bloggers raved and ranted, the media picked up on the blockade, and the story came out. Now, a few sites remain blocked, but all the main blogging sites are back. read more

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ICICI Lombard – An Experience

Here I am, writing about how a company rides rough-shod over the individual rights of a person, and I’m not even a customer of that company!

This evening, at the rather late hour of 8:40 p.m., one of my two mobile phones rang. Vidya, who normally uses the phone, picked it up, and in a few minutes, was in a flaming temper. Apparently some guy identifying himself as being from ICICI started speaking to her in Hindi. When she asked him to speak in English, he started lecturing her on how Hindi was the national language, and she was not patriotic as she asked him to speak in English. He then proceeded to inform her that this is not Britain, where everyone speaks in English. Vidya gave him a earful, partly in chaste Hindi, but mostly in English. read more

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Traditional Water Management Systems

Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation.

Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. read more

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NASSCOM Animation India 2006

I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm’s Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference – people who were involved in the Simpsons, Teletubbies, the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman… There were also game builders and TV channels.

Here are a few quotes I jotted down – these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to!

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A Cruel Joke

The Hindu, normally a reliable-enough newspaper and not an institution given to playing practical jokes, seems to be breaking new ground. This morning’s paper contained an article that would not have been out of place in, say, Beeton’s Christmas Annual, alongside the first appearance of A Study in Scarlet. It would have been hopelessly anachronistic even at the turn of the last century. The views and the manner in which they were expressed competed with each other for being embarrassingly retrograde, and any editor in the 1900s or after would have told the writer to get a life and stop writing. read more

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