Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On a typical rainy day in Chennai...

Like any other day, I woke up around 5.30 in the morning. There was a light drizzle. Again like any other day, I got myself ready to hit the gym. The light drizzle transformed itself to a mild rain. And, the rain to heavy rain by around 7 a.m. Cursing myself for not owning a car(I always told myself, owning a car in Chennai is like owning a Ship in Rajastan...no point!), I waited for the rain to stop, at least till I reach the gym. Ten minutes is all I need to reach the gym.

Loosing all my hope, called up my partner and told I wont be making it on time and asked him to carry on. Suddenly the rain almost came to a screeching halt. There was still a mild drizzle. But I can still make it to gym with my Jerkin on. It was still drizzling and I was rushing my way down to gym. I was almost half way through, the wrath of rain was upon me again. It was like rain missed to see me for five odd minutes or...or rain laid a perfect "trap" for me and I fell hard on it with my face first!

I was now totally drenched in rain. Jerkin on me was not of much help. I had no option to head back home. Rain won the first round! I told myself, I should not let rain win the second round. Which is, on my way to Office. There are two ways to prevent this. One is the easy way. Take the day off. Other is wait for the rain to stop and head to office.

I was already considering the easy way out. I still had few pages left on the book I was reading. A rainy day is perfect for the thrilling climax. And, there are quite a few movies, waiting for me to watch! Now came the reality, banging my head like a bolt! I have this call today. Not today of all days. I really have to be in Office. Then I said to myself, "cancel the damn call"....then again I can't, its yesterdays call!! I then realized, any day, its a bad idea to postpone a call!

Before I made up my mind, it stopped raining. It was not even drizzling. Sun was peaking out. There is now the second option, the only option. Escaping the rain is the ulterior motto! So had a quick bath and a quicker breakfast and left for office.

It was long since I have started to office by 9 am. I assumed the roads will be jam packed. To my surprise, it wasn't that bad....till I reached Guindy! I could see the densely packed vehicles before even reaching the Kathipara junction. My bad, I should have taken the Saidapet route. Again, always the other side is greener. It took 20 odd minutes to reach the other end of the bridge.

By now, it was like its going to start all over again! Clouds gathered. It got cold again. It became evident its going to start pouring any minute now. I thought, its always a loosing game with rain! I almost reached office, when it started to drizzle again. This time, I knew I could make it to office without getting too wet. It drizzled for few minutes and it stopped. This time for good. But the time I reached office, it as sunny all over again.

After reaching my desk, I realized, So much for the rain that shows up once in a blue moon! I felt really bad for trying to escape the rain. I wish it rains more here in Chennai. Any day, pouring rain is always better than scorching sun!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Railway Gate

Few days back, I happened to pass through Pallavaram Railway level crossing. While returning back, the gate was closed, obviously because few trains were suppose to pass through. I agree its kind of a lengthy wait(like around 15 minutes). But to my surprise, only two of us in two wheelers(along with many four wheelers) were waiting for the gate to open. Others just used the gap between the gate to pass through.

If the gap between the gate was sufficient enough for cars to pass through, I guess there wouldn't be any cars waiting for the signal either. And if we notice the ones passing through the Railway crossing, most were well educated(probably software engineers), family guys picking up their kids from school, college students and women with small kids in their hands. Many others were crossing while talking in their mobile or head set in their ears. Some even braved the trains seconds before the train sped its way through the tracks.

One thing that beats me is, whats the big hurry? What are we gaining by saving that 15 minutes of our lives through actually risking it? Nothing! But we Indians still do it.

One of my friend met with an accident trying to cross a Railway level crossing few months back. He got knocked down by the train and left with multiple fractures in his shoulder and arms. Hes almost recovered now after three months of rest(which includes one month of total bed rest). He probably tried to save 15 minutes and lost 3 months of his life(leave alone the monetary loss) .

Many unfortunate(or should I say fortunate?) people end up loosing their life, like one of my relatives. He got ran over by the train and he was just in his twenties when this happened!

Even though the number of accidents in the Railway crossing is way too less compared to the accidents happening on roads, its probably one of the stupidest ways to die!

One day, the driver of the cab I had taken told, "this is India and it will never change", when we saw few reckless drivings and signal jumping. Probably, India with people having such a mentality will never ever change. We just will have to live through it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Auto Replay for YouTube: Firefox Addon

YouTube definitely is an awesome site with good usability and stuff. One thing that i really miss(ed) was a simple "auto replay button". I for once got really needy of such a feature and even tweeted about it. One of my friend in twitter asked me to try writing an add-on for the same and here it is.

Why is such a feature even needed?

Some like me, when stumbled upon an awesome song(like Handlebars by Flobots or Viva la Vida by Coldplay), would really want to hear it more than once. And in YouTube without an Auto replay button, its really a pain.

I had bookmarked the YouTube Chromeless JavaScript API reference long time back that came real handy today. I was able to finish the add-on in no time with these simple APIs.

Install your copy from here. As always, report any bugs/issues here. Feature requests are always welcome!

ps: You don't need a mozilla account anymore to install the experimental add-ons. You just need to check the "Let me install this experimental add-on" checkbox and carry on with your installation.

Update 0.0.4: Added options to choose the portion of the video to be auto replayed. [Recommended install]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Worst weekend ever!

Saturday(24/1/09) last week was one of the worst days in the recent past! As usual i woke up around 5.30 in the morning. Since i had donated blood on Friday, i was thinking of skipping gym that day. I was browsing and chatting with my friends for sometime. After i got really bored, i started to gym by 8.00 am. I reached there by 8.10am . I went inside and had just signed the register, the watchman came rushing telling there has been an accident. An auto driver, who tried to avoid a crossing cycle, accidentally/unconsciously throttled in to the gym parking area. More than 4 bikes and a car were damaged. My bike being the first one to be hit, was lying in a bad shape.

This being the first major accident to my bike, i was sure i could get a decent claim from the insurance and did not loose my cool. Me and my friend lifted the bike to see the damage. The petrol tank and the doom were badly damaged. Tail light area has been totally wiped off. And the handle bar was bent. Not sure about the fork.

After seeing the condition of the bike, we went to see the other bikes. Other bikes did not suffer the same fate. All of them lost their tail lamps though. But the car suffered a major damage. The left side of the bumper was badly damaged.

Why did the auto driver speed?

As per his statement, he was late to pickup school children. He wasn't speeding much, but the cycle fellow who crossed the road in the wrong time confused him. He tried to avoid the cycle(which he did not!), he changed the lane and throttled his way through the parked vehicles.

Session with Police

We were left with no option but to lodge a police complaint. The Gym officials filed a complaint and the police officials came after 20 minutes to the spot. They did their usual inquiry with the concern people and asked us to come to the station to file a written complaint with the required documents(RC book, Insurance and License) and their photo copies.

We, with the documents, went to the police station by 10.00 am. The police station was indescribable. It was worse than it looked in the Tamil movies. It was no better than any-other government office, with an exception of jail cells with prisoners in it.

Sub Inspector registered a case and filed a FIR(First Information Report) by 10.45 am. FIR in two and a half hours is rapid fast in Indian terms! We were actually happy that we could get the FIR in such a short time frame. But the actual problem started only after the FIR is filed. The SI wanted photo copies of the FIR for each one of us so that he can personally seal and sign it. Before heading out to take the copies, he handed us another FIR report, of different accident and wanted photo copies of this document too! They always forget that they are government servants and make people their servants!

Grudgingly me along with my friend(Muthu, who accompanied me) went to the nearest shop(around half a mile away from the police station). We had a light breakfast while the copies were getting ready and headed back to the station.

Session in RTO

The head Constable now wanted us to be in the RTO office with our vehicles by 1pm so that the RT Officer would inspect the damages. We initially thought its a 10 minutes work(as claimed by the constable) and went there well in advance by 12.30pm. The Constable told he would be there before we reach the place but he was nowhere to be seen. He had given us his mobile number and we called him every 15 minutes to pressure him come to the Office. But the trick did not affect him even a bit. He reached the RTO by 2.30pm. We were already furious.

I went to him and asked what the hell took him this long....instead of answering me, he handed me a form and asked for 10 photo copies of the same. I was already furious after waiting this long for this man to show up and now he coolly asks for 10 copies of form for 3 of us! After giving him a cold stare, i grudgingly went to the nearest shop to take the photo copies. After bringing him the photo copies, he asked me to fill the form myself(it was suppose to be filled by the SI..not even by the constable). I filled the form for myself and the others who came along with me. He had a official government seal with him. He stamped the forms and signed it himself(again, suppose to be signed by the SI).

Now its our turn to wait for the RTO! We actually thought we were waiting for the RTO for him to inspect the damages. Only after waiting for an hour or so, the constable told we were waiting for a brake inspection. Why the hell do they need a brake inspection for a bike that's been in an accident when parked??!! The constable told its the procedure and we had no option but to wait for the punctual RTO to come and inspect the vehicles! By waiting in the RTO office, i mean, waiting in the road. We were not allowed to move away either, because, if the RTO comes while we were away, he will not give us a second chance that day. We will have to come again another day to get the clearance! By 3.45pm the car owner got really pissed and left the place after giving nice dose to the constable.

The RTO came by 4.00pm and started doing his job right away. His top priorities were the cars and there was a C-Class Benz and a Honda city parked for inspection. We meanwhile called the car owner and asked him to come right away. But for his bad luck, he came 10 minutes late and he was asked to come again today(27/01/09)!

He inspected my bike. It took less than 3 minutes for him to see the damages, collect the documents and check the brake. He test drives only cars. Bikes are not his interest. So we had to drive the bike and show him the brakes are fine! For a 3 minutes job, i had to wait for nearly 5 hours staring at the open road, shouting at the constable and waiting for this RTO.

Why did the constable wait along with us?

He wanted his share of bribe! He had earlier asked us to pay 200rs each for this work to be done. He already collected the money from the car owner prior to the RTO mess. Now hes due to collect the money from me and the other person. Unfortunately the other person(the Gym manager) had an outdated Insurance document. So he anyway had to pay a hefty fine of 1000rs to the RTO plus this bribe money!

In India, even if you have all your documents and with no fault of yours, you are forced to pay the bribe money for the officials to do their "job". The bribe is the motivation factor for the constable to wait along with us. I finally paid him 50 bucks for no fault of mine. He did not have mind to settle for no less than 100 bucks. He said he need to pay the RTO too. I asked him why the heck should i bother about someone wanting to bribe an irresponsible RTO. And told him i am giving him this 50 bucks compromising my principles. He was not happy at all and left cursing me.

Some positive effects in this day
  • If i had been a minute late, i could have been badly hurt by the speeding auto.
  • My insurance expires on 24/01/2009 midnight. Technically i am covered by my earlier insurance(though i had renewed it last week itself)
  • One big lesson learnt. You dont need an FIR for insurance claim less than 10000Rs.
  • Learnt another lesson on tackling such situations. Have enough dough. Have all the documents. Prepare to waste the entire day(and few more hours on the following days till you get the bike back). Finally loose your senses and be patient!
After the messy session in RTO, i went to the service station, filled the documents and left home along with my friend(Muthu), who stayed with me all the way through the grueling day! By the time i reached home, it was already 6.30pm, the whole day wasted!. It took me almost 10hrs to settle the things for no fault of mine and the auto driver, coolly left the police station in less than 2hrs after his relatives bailed him out!

Lesson learnt: If you are to be screwed, you get screwed what so ever!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Knights: Firefox(Game) Extension

I had a plan in my mind to create Firefox Extensions using few games i had developed during(and after) my college days. Most of them were developed in Flash, so porting them as Firefox extensions aren't a tough task.

The addon is present here.

What is Knights?

Knights is a simple game in which you move the lone Knight in a chess board(in usual 'L' positions) and try to cover most squares. You cannot undo any move. The high-score is stored so that you can try beat yourself.

Is this a new game?

No. Few years back, one of my friends had installed a similar game in his system and it was quite interesting. At that time, i was actually exploring Flash. So i thought why not try to develop this in Flash and finally succeeded developing it after quite a bit of struggle.

I originally had developed this game more than 5 years back. It had too many frames(screens). I had to fine tune few things to make it look good as an extension. I used the same XUL(most of it) that i used in my previous addon and changed few colors to suit the flash content.

Like my previous addons, this one is also under experimental addons. You will need an account to install your copy. Install the addon from here.

After installation(and browser restart), a small Knight symbol will be added in the status bar. Clicking on it will open the Chessboard for you to play on.

Please report any broken feature, bugs and feature requests here.

Happy Playing!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Indian roads are full of automobiles, people, garbage and strays(i am not sure about the first two). One cannot travel even few meters without spotting a stray. Neither the government nor the people tend bother about this issue. Our people have gotten used to such roads filled with strays and garbage.

What is the reason for lots of strays in our roads?

Initially government did not have any policies on stray animals. The strays later kept multiplying and left the government in a situation where a policy/decision to be made on it. They later decided to catch the strays(dogs mostly) and send them to slaughter house. Is this a good solution? A BIG NO!

We should have stopped the growth of strays in the first place through some birth control programs. Its unfair to kill those animals for our mistake of letting them grow in infinite numbers. At-least now we should have had some birth control and adoption program so that the problem is eradicated in next couple years. But our government chose a simple way. Kill them all!

What are the problems faced due to Strays?

Strays pose several problems to the road users. I myself ran in to a dog the other night and had a pretty good fall. Cows are let to sleep in the road sides(sometimes in the middle of the road) during nights posing serious risks for night riders. Dogs stray the streets. Even though they bark away the strangers to the streets during night time, they too pose good amount of danger to the commuters.

Once, after a long day in the office, i took a office cab back home. I got down in a common spot from where the car had to take a diversion to drop off other guys. I had to walk about a mile to reach home. The streets had no lights and were filled with stray dogs. I looked funny with a big raincoat and bigger shoulder bag on me. The dogs went mad and were barking at me. Luckily they did not go madder and bite me as i did not try to run!

Today while i was traveling to my office, a cute-little-well-fed puppy trying to cross the road(the ever busy tnagar-saidapet junction) and got caught up in the traffic. Luckily there was no way one could speed in tat road. Luckily (to my surprise), all the vehicles stopped and waited till the puppy to cross. But there is no way the puppy could cross the road as it had a two feet median in the middle.

It was just standing right in the middle of the road helplessly starring at us. As most of the vehicles were cars, rest mere spectators and i was the closest person the to puppy, i had to stop my bike and help the dog cross the road. Being a small puppy it ran off to the other side of the road after seeing me coming. But again tried to cross the road when i was about to start the bike. I again had to put my bike on stands and this time, some how managed to get hold of the puppy and passed it to the other person standing on the other side of the road. Traffic was affected for at-least 10 minutes. Even though things went on pretty smooth today for the puppy, the dog might not get lucky everyday! Lots and lots of dogs are killed in the Indian roads daily.

Even though blue cross(and other organizations) do their part of saving these animals, we have to give a lending hand to such organizations and help them perform better. Adopting a stray is not an ugly thing to do. It is in-fact one of the proudest thing to do. Many people think its a shame to adopt a stray. They instead want imported well-bred-dogs to show off their status. By doing so(adopting), we can save many stray animals and get stray free roads.

A vet approaches HC to implement Birth Control on Strays. More here.