Hello World

This short story is in response to a writing prompt on Reddit. The original prompt is - Magic is discovered to be real. The catch? Spells are just like computer programs: difficult to write, and even harder to do correct the first try. You’re a spell bug tester, and you’ve seen just about everything go wrong, but today’s typo is on a whole other level…

It is a yet another uneventful day. Deepak is still a pig but that isn’t new. All testers are explicitly taught to always sandbox the environment before testing any spells but noooooo that was too mainstream for good old Deepak. Spells are like code. Just giving them a read is never sufficient to fully understand and verify what they do. There is a reason our jobs exist. So that we test all spells written by rookie wizards before they are moved to production to find all bugs, yeah we copied nomenclatures from programmers; sue us, and check them for all boundary conditions. It’s tedious but fairly basic. You setup the environment, isolated and as per the specs and run a battery of tests. Having been doing it for 4 years now it has almost become a second language to me. I, for most spells, can tell the issues that will come in a spell even before running any tests by just reading them. Yet, I never assume, like this ass Deepak, and follow the testing guidelines to the T. And that is why he has been in the form of a pig for 3 days and I have the “Best Spell Tester” trophies for all the years I have worked here.

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I'm feeling lucky

This short story is in response to a writing prompt on Reddit. The original prompt is - Google released its new self-driving car. You step in and press “I’m feeling lucky”

“God fucking damn it! What does it even mean? Tell me what does “Late LG load” even mean? You stupid car! I said “8 MG road” I yelled at the car. Regret had started creeping in my mind. Early adopter my butt. I should have waited for Google to perfect their voice recognition before getting this stupid self-driving piece of junk. Every. Single. Time. I watch this snazzy product video and fall for it. Stupid stupid. This thing doesn’t even have a steering wheel. Why would you do that? I’ve been at it for more than half an hour trying God knows how many destinations to try to take it for a spin but Indian accent + Indian road names = Big fucking nope. This is bullcrap. It will have to go back. I didn’t get to drive it even one. What a shame. It would have been so cool to be driving down the Delhi roads in India’s first self-driving car.

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Book Review : Modern Romance

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Lets do on thing. Lets take a break from the genre of dystopian novels and discuss something else this time. I recently finished watching Master of None, highly recommended by the way and that gave me an idea that we can in todays video discuss Modern Romance. A book written by Aziz Ansari the protagonist in Master of None and a well know comic. Most of you might have seen him in Parks and Recreations and his own standup specials. I read this book very recently and saying that this is an enjoyable book would be an understatement. Now one would assume that a book written by a comic would be humour only with very little meat. One would be wrong for assuming that. How do I put it. This book is freakonomics with humour on steroids if that means any thing.

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Book Review : Ready Player One

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So there is a famous quote by George RR Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones books - A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one. I like reading a lot. Now I could go on a hyperbolic monolog professing my love for books and how i could eat and breathe them but then that would be tangential to the point. I don’t get to read as much as I want to or even as much as I used to. This situation I have remedied by taking 2 steps

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Book Review : Fahrenheit 451

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The first quarter of 2017 was mostly dedicated to dystopian novels. One book that belongs to this genre, which I mentioned in the last 5-minute review which you can find here, is Fahrenheit 451. It is one of the most recommended books of this genre and it sits in the league of 1984 and Brave New World. Fahrenheit 451 was written by Ray Bradbury in 1953 and is considered one of his best books and I definitely agree with that. This book won Bradbury many awards including a Retro Hugo award and a Grammy Nomination for the audiobook which was narrated by Bradbury himself. I had listened to this version of audiobook only which I am sure must have added a lot of extra value to the text.

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Happy Women's Day! Now let's talk about gender pay gap

Today is Women’s Day (2017). So Happy Women’s day. Now I would not wax poetic about the importance of women in our lives in all the forms and how we all should be thankful. I could, but I don’t think I’d have anything new to say which hasn’t already been said, so I won’t. Instead, I would want to discuss a topic, an issue, which I feel needs a lot more discussion and I think I can contribute to it. Lets discuss the gender pay gap. According to the Monster Salary Index (MSI) on gender for 2016, women in India earn 25% less than men. The number is huge yet totally believable. Now instead of looking at it from the gender angle, let’s try and look at it from a pure capitalist angle. The relationship between an employee and an employer is a very special form of buyer-seller relationship. The specialty in this relationship is that the employer and the employee keep interchanging the roles of the buyer and the seller. The employee is the buyer in the case where he “buys” a job and compensation from an employer in return for his work and the employer is the buyer in the conventional way where he buys his employees work in exchange for compensation and perks. All buyer-seller relations are about negotiations and bargains. From a capitalistic point of view, a person will want to pay as little as possible for something he wants to buy. If multiple sellers are offering the exact same product, it’s only logical to go with the one with whom you can negotiate the least possible price. This is all economics. This is exactly what is happening with women when it comes to the wage gap. They are, in most certainty, being out negotiated into accepting lower pay. The usual bargaining chips that most employers use for such negotiations are

  1. Most women might not want to travel far from home.
  2. Most women might quit or be on long leaves for marriage and maternity
  3. Most women are not ok with working long or extra hours or hard enough and similar reasons.
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Dear Karan Johar I am happy for you

Fatherhood, compared to motherhood, is almost never celebrated. It is. But the reverence that is given to motherhood completely overshadows it and there is no denying that. When it comes to a child, everything is about the mother. And rightfully so. She is the one who gave her sweat and blood, literally, to bring the child to this world. She continues giving even after the child is born. In comparison to this, a father seems rather small. He is standing somewhere in the blurry background. He is happy with whatever credit he gets in return for whatever fatherly duties he fulfills. Many girls dream (not sure the right word, seems strong) of being mothers some day. Detailed stuff. What they will do with their kids, what kind of mother they will be and what not. People do not expect men to be like that. The idea that a boy thinks about being a good father one day seems weird, almost alien. I am not sure why this but I can say one thing. It’s not that true. Many men want to be fathers. They want to be the one who provides for a young life and be someone the little ones look up to. This must be exactly what must be going through Karan Johar’s mind. Irrespective of what his social, economical, political or personal life is, I can completely understand his desire of becoming a father. What I admire more is that going against societal norms he went for it. Unlike a lot of us, who let go of our wishes and dreams just because “what will the world think” he made it happen for him. I am happy for Karan Johar. You should be too.

Context: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/karan-johar-is-dad-to-twins-via-a-surrogate/articleshow/57471741.cms

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All good things need to be forced

This is what my usual day looks like. I am up by 6.30 am and in the gym by 7.15 am. Depending on what my workout of the day is I usually am able to come back home by 9.30 am (showered and ready to leave for office). I am in my office by 10.30 usually and unless I have a meeting elsewhere I am there till at least 8 8-30. I reach home by 9 9-15, depending on the traffic, where I spend the next 1 hr or so having dinner and catching up with my wife. She is usually in the bed by 10 am and I by 11 am since we both are early risers. I am sure this is more or less (except the workout) your schedule as well. Our lives are a hamster wheel loop of sleep-work-sleep which we are turning, trying to be faster, all day every day. Most of the leisure, let’s call it that though I prefer the words culture or happiness, we defer for weekends. Not much is accomplished on such weekends. I wish I could read more. I wish I could do something about my health. I wish I could travel more. I wish. We all carry a lot of such related regrets on our shoulders which we take off your back from time to time, stare at them, sigh and put them back blaming the busyness of our lives for not being able to do what we wish. Days go by and one activity that kept us busy is replaced by two more and the chance of ever making time for the “I wish”s. I realized that I am stuck in this loop and there is no way out of this. At least no immediate way that I could see. Finally, I came to a conclusion that I will have to force the culture and my “I wish”s into this loop only and somehow make it work.

My first wish was that I wanted to incorporate some kind of physical activity in my live. Around 3 years back I decided to force this in my life. Like most of us on New Year, I too started as resolutioners, highly motivated to build a healthy life. Soon I realized that motivation was not enough. Motivation will get you out of your bed on a cold Delhi morning maybe for a week but will fail, rather miserably, to do so in the subsequent. The human mind is great at making excuses and will come up with such great ones to skip a workout that you yourself will be amazed. When motivation fails, discipline comes to the rescue. Fortunately, I was able to force the habit of regular workout into my life and not it is not something I do or have to do but something which is a part of my lifestyle. This is now a habit for life and I could myself blessed to have been able to do it.

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Raees, and the genre of mediocre movies

Raees in an unforgivably mediocre movie. But honestly, the mediocrity of a film is never the real problem. A lot of times a project that seemed like a great idea, in the beginning, ends up with a not so good execution. Passable movies as an end product are definitely not the problem. The problem, especially with this one, is that clearly the makers of Raees were actually only aiming for mediocrity. Throughout the movie, it seems the goal was to keep it just ‘good enough’ so that it does not tank. A good enough movie, along with a megastar and ultra-hyped marketing strategy, can work wonders in terms of box office collections. The movie lacked any good scenes or even a single good moment. Every character, except only the lead, was a prop. Replaceable, as well as removable, without making an iota of an effect on the movie. I personally feel bad for the actress, who I’ve heard has done some really good work in her country, come all the way here to just be an accessory for the songs.

The reason that filmmakers can even think of aiming for such passable movies is because we, as movie-goers, have accepted such mediocre movies and have time and again made them multi-crore success. We flock to the theatres every time a Sultan, Dangal or Raess releases just because of the lead actors. It would defy all business sense for a movie maker to not continue following this path of averageness just for the sake of financial security. So they continue making such movies which you will forget as soon as you’ve had your post-movie dinner, maybe just remembering the Sunny Leone item song or Nawaz’s entry. Nothing else. Only we can do something about it. But as masses, we won’t. Till then hurrah to such average films and their success.

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India cannot be saved

Yesterday Sushma Swaraj, the current Foreign Minister of India, threatened Amazon to remove from its Canada store an item or face severe consequences. The item in question is a doormat with the Indian flag and the consequences are the denial of visa to Amazon officials and even rescinding of the visas of Amazon execs already here. At this point, I do not have any appropriate adjective to express what I feel about this whole matter. If I had to explain my thoughts in one phrase, it would be “why is this happening?”.

Sushma Swaraj is one of the few politicians I personally admire and all this admiration has been earned by her acts as a person in power working for the common man. She is very active on social media and has effectively used social media to help Indians world wide. Even save Indians. But this time it seems she is trying to save India. Now the way I look at it, India cannot be saved. This is not the normal cynical or naysayer POV of looking at the malice in India and just saying that India cannot change. India that she is trying to save is not the physical country which is named India. It’s not the land, the skys and the air of India that she is trying to save but the India in question here is the concenpt or the notion of India. The India that exists in the history books. The India that exists in the minds of the people, Indians and others. The first mistake one could do would be even assuming that this India can be attacked or harmed. Even worse, thinking that this India can be affected by a doormat print is, in my thoughts, us not being very confident about the strength and perseverance of India. Now I do not, in any way, condone the act of using the Indian flag as a doormat. I am pretty sure out constitution and the justice system have defined rules about how the flag has to be treated but I for one am really unhappy about the public display of pseudo (or real) patriotism and the aggression that follows. Let us not delude ourselves. If someone wants a doormat with the Indian flag, he will get it. If not from Amazon, someone else. If no one is selling it, he will get it custom made. Would it make sense to make it a mission to find such people, across the world, and make them respect us. In the entire history of civilization, has this ever worked for anyone except tyrants and despots and do we want to be listed with the likes of Hitler and Kim Jong Un. The issue which could have been easily resolved by a single simple email is not a shit-show (yes!) for the entire world to see and mock. There is no scenario in which we as Indian come out at the top when this ends. For every step that we take forward as a nation, these things take us 2 steps back.

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