Sunday, May 27, 2012

You know you're having a bad day when...

You're late for a 10 AM class and the milk carton appears to have been hand-sealed by Samson on a particularly good hair day.

You're later still and are stuck behind the only decent auto driver in all of India. He stops at every junction and waits patiently for all the other lanes to clear before getting a move on.

You confidently tell a bunch of people that "estas jardines son muy hermosos" means "those gardeners are my sisters," only for one of them to point out that the sentence actually means "these gardens are very beautiful."

You get only vegetarian food for the whole day.

Your favourite driver, on whom the smart money was for the race win, qualifies 8th at Monaco - a track that has the average width of an F1 car plus a tooth pick.

You call in pest control to get rid of a growing roach infestation, only for the chaps to leave your apartment smelling like the vicinity of Vesuvius did just after it obliterated Pompeii. Further, as your gaze lingers on the bodies of the deceased roaches in room after room, you're filled with the same remorse and grief that gripped Ashoka when he walked the battlefields of Kalinga.

Your needs are very small, and one of those is a mini-bar, and none of the 6 shops you walked in and out of for the better part of an hour stocks one.

You've had only 5 hours of sleep because you had a late-night meeting the night before (yes, a Friday).

You had reached home at 1:30 AM, only to find the gate padlocked and the guard in deep, sweet slumber in his little chamber (about 10 metres inside the complex) with the windows and the door tightly shut to keep out the cold, a scarf around his head, and muffs over his ears.

You take interest in the walls around your apartment complex for the first time ever and discover that they'd put a castle to shame.

You try a couple of experimental blasts of the horn and note no change in the guard's vital signs, but do see a few lights flicking on in the houses nearby. You sense a certain irritability by the manner the lights flick on, and desist from any further sonic experiments.

You have an aunt who stays in the same complex. (This, in itself, is not necessarily a sign of a bad day, but you'll know what I mean when you read the next one below.)

You also know the phone number of one other person in the complex, but she's a colleague, and you'd prefer to call your aunt, what with blood being thicker than office coffee and what not. The trouble is, your aunt's picked this week, of all weeks, to go out of town on vacation. But still, your colleague's one of those early risers, who must've gone to bed several hours ago. But it's either call her or spend the night in the car.

At this point, another resident, a little drunk, totters by and examines you, the car and the locked gate with interest. It takes you a little while to explain the state of affairs to him. "Don't worry, we'll find a way in," he says. "Like what?" you ask. "Urm," he replies, and takes a seat next to you on the bonnet of your car.

You take a deep breath and call your colleague.

She's very sweet about the whole thing and comes out and rouses the guard. But you're like Macbeth, or his Missus, or whoever it was, and see (possibly non-existent) reproach in her eyes that simply won't wash off. (Maybe the "blood on one's own hands" metaphor stands up a little better to scrutiny. But hey, you have to work with what you've got. And like I said, you're having a bad day.)

You'd like to swear at the guard, as he finally opens the gate, but neither your Hindi nor your Kannada is up to the task of eloquent swearing, and, besides, you can't very well mouth off in the presence of recently-roused women who're already staring wide-eyed at you with what is very possibly reproach that won't wash off the... wait, the blood that won't...

Anyway, you don't swear, and gently tell the guard that you've been standing outside for half an hour.

And he replies, with not an iota of embarrassment or regret, and with reproach dripping from his eyes, at having his sleep disturbed, "Oh, yeah?"

By the time you slink home and switch on the TV, you find that Barcelona's last game with Pep Guardiola in charge is well underway and that they've already scored three goals - they settle for this and plod on tiki-ing and taka-ing for the rest of the game, with Messi pottering about disinterestedly.

You wake up later that morning - 5 hours later, as mentioned earlier - wrestle with the milk carton, and are late for the class, where you then mis-translate...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Some constructive criticism for Starfleet

I've just finished with the fantastic blu-ray set of Star Trek's original series and feel qualified enough to offer up a five-point plan toward the improvement of the space fleet of our bold explorers:-

1) The transporter. It beams people down from the transporter room to anywhere. It also beams them up into the room. So why not just beam people up from anywhere they happen to be, eliminate the transporter room in the middle, and on down to somewhere else; thus obviating the need for them to stand under those tubes while holding dramatic poses.

And why not beam security officers to the part of the ship where there is a security incident, rather than wait for them to run athletically down to the place with phasers in hand, only to stow said phasers away because they're a fraction too late to do anything, and it's up to Spock or Kirk to save the day at round about the 46th minute?

The applications, with a bit of thought, are endless. You could also re-beam landing parties down to exactly the spot of trouble, after they've beamed down and discovered that the spot they picked is rather a picnic place and miles away from all the excitement, rather than make them trek the distance, allowing hostile natives to pick off the security chaps at will.

2) Speaking of the security chaps, how come they die like flies while Dr McCoy, for instance, is alive and well after three rigorous seasons? Surely there's more to it than DeForest Kelley having third billing and guaranteed spot on the show? Training techniques need revising, perhaps?

3) After the first couple of weeks or so of its 5-year mission, it should've become painfully obvious to anyone with an IQ over room temperature that the chief threat to personnel after they've beamed down upon a strange planet is them losing their communication devices, rendering the ship helpless in transporting them back up. So, why not embed these devices in the landing party? How obvious is that? Before anyone points out that they did do this in Patterns of Force, well, that's just once. It should be standard procedure, is my point.

4) A giant star-ship, home to 430 people, drifting in an endlessly hostile universe. And yet, look at the security measures on board. Where are the id cards? Anyone (ok, any vaguely anthropomorphic biped) who buys a replica uniform in the nearest Federation gift shop is free to walk the passageways of the Enterprise virtually unchallenged. And what's more, every single door opens no matter who approaches it. Tourist, wandering about unsupervised, wonders what happens when the lever below the sign that says "matter / anti-matter reactor" is pushed to the red line? Boom. And those dilithium crystals, the almost-but-not-quite bringer of catastrophe on so many episodes, are just a jaunt into the engine room and a button press away from rising majestically out of their enclosures and offering themselves up to the nearest jabber. Access cards and retina scanners were used to restrict unauthorised access, as late as the second decade of the twenty first century. Where did these technologies disappear to?

5) Oh, and which one of you is going to tell Kirk that the non-interference thing is a Prime Directive, not a Prime Take-It-Or-Leave-It?