Thursday, January 15, 2009

End of the holidays

Gosh! It is already ten days since I wrote my last post here. Ten days! And to think that I planned to write more posts during the winter break as I would have more time. Seems having more time only leads to wasting more time.

A lot of things have happened in these ten days. Just over a month after I wrote that the Indian IT industry was built on lies, Satyam's cat went out of the bag stunning even people like me. There was always a rumour that Satyam's management was a bunch of crooks, but I never thought it would be so true. I know two managers who were kicked out of my previous company. One was my boss: his self-proclaimed 16 years of experience seemed to have added only to his tummy and he gave golden pieces of advice like "Do not find too many bugs, the developers will get upset." to the testing team. No wonder he found the work at our company uncomfortable; we had our faults, but we were very particular about bugs and testing. So he left and joined Satyam. Another big manager was caught taking money from junior resources to send them onsite and was fired without notice. His destination? Satyam again! If a company gathers such scum in the lower management, no wonder their upper management will be even worse.

My sister got a job in Satyam last winter from her campus. She was interested in higher studies, but when her offer letter did not arrive on time, she decided to pursue the matter. Her initial mails were ignored; phone calls went unanswered or were in vain. The HR guy even threatened to "reconsider their offer" if she didn't stop pestering them. Then I used my contacts in Satyam to find the guy's manager's mail ID and phone, and her manager's mail ID and phone. One long mail and a couple of phone calls later, the guy was calling up my sister and asking what her problem was and how he could help. He also asked, "How can you not trust such a big company? If we have told you we are recruiting you, you can rest assured we will send you the letter." Now I feel like calling him up and asking whether he understands "how can one not trust" such a great company as his. Of course, with World Bank blacklisting Wipro and Megasoft, one can only wonder how honest these other companies are.

Anyway, coming back to my holidays, it is a well known fact in academia that grad students are not supposed to have any holidays. Nevertheless, I took about ten days off around Christmas and New Year. I have been going to the college every day ever since and it hardly matters that the holidays are about to end. Today was the first time when I stayed at home due to some snowfall in the morning.
Click to EnlargeThis reminds me, the weather department here isn't much better than the one back home. Last Saturday they forecasted heavy snowstorm with 6-9 inches of snow. I cancelled all my travel plans. Then all that occurs is a mere 1.3 inches of snow with no storm. I had planned to go to the park and make a full sized snowman with a friend. That plan went down the drain. Later that night my sister suggested that I could have made a small snowman on my attic window sill as enough snow accumulates there. That day the snow had already become ice, but I got the chance today. So when enough snow had collected on my window and I had finally made up my mind to skip school, I raised the window and started working with the snow. First I tried with my bare hands but it was too painful. Then I used my gloved hands to make this:

The hat, button and eyes were made from paper, the nose from a carrot tip, the scarf from an old torn bed sheet and the hands and broom from bits of stick. The whole thing is about 6-8 inches tall. As soon as it was complete, the sun came out and its eyes sunk in as they were black. The rest is pretty much intact thanks to the extremely low temperatures whole day today (-6 or lower).

Speaking of low temperatures, can you imagine what one will feel like if they have to dive into the river fully clothed and then come out and stand in the wind in their soaked clothes? It seems fate had scheduled this unimaginable activity for some people today. Just about the time when I finished my lunch and prepared for my afternoon nap, an Airbus A320 took off from LaGuardia airport in New York City and probably immediately collided with a flock of geese. Both its engines lost power and displaying amazingly swift decision making capabilities and remarkable skill, the pilot brought the plane down for a "controlled descent" on the Hudson River beside midtown Manhattan. He cleared the George Washington Bridge by just 900 feet and missed the numerous ferries and helicopters on the Hudson in that area by a fantastic stroke of luck. The plane hit the water barely seven minutes after the passengers had been routinely instructed about the evacuation procedures in case of a water landing. Passengers had walked out over the wings within a minute and some had jumped out into the river wearing life vests or holding the floating seat cushions. Even before the police or fire departments could respond, the ferries surrounded the plane and rescued all 150 passengers and five crew members. Some people sustained some minor injuries and some are being treated for hypothermia. All this was happening just a few miles from my house. More details, photos and videos here.

With that, I end this post here. A new culinary experiment forced me to stay in the kitchen late and I am finishing this post at 2:40 a.m. I must go to sleep now as I have to go to school tomorrow. Hopefully my normal posting frequency will return as the holidays end coming Monday.

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