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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The importance of perception

It is important that the demeanour reflects the purpose.
Create a perception. Build it up slowly.
Every action should be aimed at building up the intended perception.
A handshake, a smile, a snub, a pat ..everything ought to be immaculately timed to further the objective.
Any deviations are not permitted.

Being free spirited would only dish out confusion.

Why Arbitmind is ranting about the importance of perception all of a sudden ?

Because everything that has been written above is in direct conflict with his self.
Yet he cannot deny the veracity of those lines.

Maybe, sometimes what we all believe are not the best of beliefs.
Maybe beliefs are like choices. You can just choose to believe something & act accordingly.
If Arbitmind did not believe in those lines , that has been a wrong choice.

Its never too late. it ?

Monday, April 20, 2009


(more of a reflection of the  state of mind rather than a post)

After the Mumbai Indians VS the Chennai Superkings Match , Arbitmind remembered that Sachin had quoted "People sometimes throw stones at you and you have to convert them into milestones"

Very True. Trust legends like Sachin to inspire lesser mortals like the Arbitmind.

Monday, April 6, 2009


This had to happen someday. 
Business Sense versus Cricketing Knowledge having a public go at each other.

The Indian Premier League has had b(r)ought in a huge amount of glamour to the sport.
Well...not that cricket was suffering from any lack of it though..specially in the sub-continent.
Undeniable though that the the first edition of the IPL surely elevated the excitement to
hitherto unknown territory. Much of it was largely because the franchisees did cough up huge sums-- for
the players and infrastructure as well as promotions.
And the Public just loved the show. Even the cricket was of top quality.
However, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

What IPL had most significantly done, was to subtly place terms  like 'franchisee', 'investment', 'returns', 'profits', 'break-even' alongside  the more familiar jargon of 'deep midwickets', 'yorkers' & 'square cuts'.
The IPL had placed business barons, top-of-the rung actors & business conglomerates
right in the driver's seat. One would not fail to notice that previously cricket , business & Bollywood
would interact in a predictable fashion. You could have a cricketer-actress linkup, a cricketer endorsing a product of a business house or batsmen having certain logos on their bats. The point here was that nobody intruded into each others territory(notwithstanding Ajay Jadeja's foray into filmdom :-))

Hence you would not find Sunil Gavaskar's comments remotely connected to Shahrukh Khan's & vice-versa.
Then IPL happened.
Now, when Mr.Sunil Gavaskar slams John Buchanan in his column it is Shahrukh Khan who has to stand up 
to defend the coach of his team. Nothing wrong in that though.( Its Something like your Boss defending you in
public from an outsider-whatever may be your equation at the workplace.)
To be honest, Arbitmind doesn't find anything unnatural in the whole saga of a comment & a ' a team..' retort. 
What is striking though is that the IPL has bought people who are masters in their respective  domains & at the same time  completely ignorant about the others' trade... withing striking distance of each other. 
Gone are the days where every Indian captain/coach would face the ire of former captains every time he would lose a match & gulp it down.
Captains/Coaches could not reply back...'Go make a team & lead them if you are so concerned'. Reactions to criticism would be as insipid as a 'Krishi Darshan'..ostensibly because being a smart alec in front of media persons was not something that the Board took very kindly. In the IPL age, team owners do not have such constraints....& hence Arbitmind would see a whole lot of such ripostes in the near future. 
After all no investor really likes to be told what to do with his money until & unless the advice is coming from a  Warren Buffet himself. Neither would an all time great cricketer have a very kind view about a movie actor's cricketing acumen.
So get ready for these jibes & jabs...they will continue for some time. 
Neither Business nor Cricket is a pushover in this land & in these times.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why have cockroaches survived through centuries...

"In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment." ~ Charles Darwin

It was an idle Saturday night in Pune, circa 2005.
Arbitmind & a couple of his friends had just finished a full bottle of Johnny Walker
when the realisation dawned that a dinner is actually an integral part of the human diet - 
- Specially so on Saturday nights when there is nothing more left to drink.
....& Off they(the two friends) went to get some dinner.  ..& in the meanwhile , a little bit of Star Movies...Arbitmind reckoned...would not be a bad idea. It was showing "Enemy at the Gates"
Hey !! he had one....not at the gates..but inside his new pair of shoes.

The enemy had been fooling him for a long time. - a couple of hours to be precise - that was the first time when 
Arbitmind had discovered that a cockroach...of all things..a cockroach....for heaven's sake..a cockroach
..had nested itself inside his new Reebok shoes. Which gentleman worth his salt would accept such an unprovoked & brazen attack on his prized possession? Immediate action was being planned(read looking around for a weapon..a broom..a slipper..or anything to that effect)...& that was when the bottle of Black Dog & his friends interfered & distracted his valiant self.
...and now when the issue of the Black Dog was settled it was the time to vanquish the enemy..& claim the 
associated glory.
Evidently.. the enemy would bolt the moment it got wind of Arbitmind's colossal plan.
Hence ..Sun Tzu like tactics would have to be adopted.
Arbitmind walked around casually...a bathroom slipper in his hand...humming a tune....
...reached the shoe rack almost unnoticed...& then.....WHACKK!!!

Doh !! The pest reacted faster....jumped out of the shoe & crouched near the corner!!

Eyeball to eyeball....for a moment the two adversaries eyed each other...& that temptation to 
finish it off  crawled within Arbitmind..nah !! "Act casually"...Arbitmind told himself..appear to be incompetent...that catches the enemy of-gaurd.
So he hit the slipper thrice on the adjoining wall.  The message was conveyed...from the corner of his eyes 
he could see the Cockroach relax a wee bit..Of Course it was up against someone not quite adept. Someone
with very little expertise in hitting out cockroaches...
Or so it seemed. 
The only put-off was that the shoe looked a bit devastated from the previous blow.
Never mind...lets convert the slipper into a projectile...Arbitmind used all his cricketing acumen
to take the aim...& threw the slipper...missed by a whisker...hit the TV instead. 
Nothing broken.
The enemy retreated...sensing the determination of the adversary...behind the TV.
Cannot let it go...decided Arbitmind & got hold of the Badminton Racquet. Two more whacks around the TV
& it came out running....fleeing...Arbitmind raced after it...
The door flung open...

"Bong...You said you were not drunk"
Arbitmind: "Of course I am not. What has got into you? Got the dinner?"
(furious)"Why are you running around the room with a baddy racquet & why were u hitting the TV? Of course
you are drunk"
Arbitmind: "Preposterous...all people who intend to get rid of pests are drunk?"


"You will have Roti or Naan..we got both"

The cockroach survived. Arbitmind realised why cockroaches have survived for centuries.
Of course..because some people think that only drunks think of getting rid off the cockroaches.
Darwin anyone ?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


(Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction & a figment of Arbitmind's imagination)

Hello there!!!
Welcome to the fifth edition of the the Show-Must-Go-On League.(SMGOL)
We have a huge match here today!!

The "Right Nighters" coached by the legendary Mr.Boka-hon versus the "Conventional Royals" coached by one in particular.
We are bringing it to you live.
The stadium is jam packed. We have a game on here.

Its toss time,Coach Boka is walking up to the gallery. The crowds roar. He is an immensely popular man out here.
It is a novel idea..a stroke of genius..the Toss captain would be selected from the supporters of Right Nighters.
This is in line with his philosophy of having multiple captains & bringing about equality among the masses.
..& as Boka had said earlier,"We need to pick the luckiest man for the toss. The toss is very vital in cricket.
Logically, somebody who draws the lucky number among a crowd of 30,00 is definitely a lucky man...& very rightly he will be our man for the toss on that particular day."

Lets see who gets the honours today. Lots are being drawn out here...& we have our winner..the friendly neighbourhood dada...Poltu-da. 
Poltu-da has drawn the lucky number. He is waving towards the dressing room. The dressing room stands up
& waves back at their leader..for the moment that is. 

I can see the players are jotting down his name in a notepad..
..or in wordpad..may be even be a Scintilla editor. If someone amongst them turns out to be the man-of-the match today, he has to thank Poltu-da for the toss in the post match conference.

The coin is tossed up...Poltu-da calls 'Heads' & it is 'Heads' indeed. The giant screen is showing a close up of Boka.
The man is a genius....his method has ensured that no chances are taken with the toss. Surely Boka has worked out the Binomial & Poisson distributions for this.What an unprecedented genius!!!!

The "Conventional Royals" skipper shakes his head in dejection. 
Its Poltu-da's decision now...he wants to bat or he wants to field.
There you are...Poltu-da has decided to field first. Lets see what he has to say to our man in the middle.
(Camera onto the pitch):

Anchor: "So poltu-da , why did you opt to field first? You presume the wicket to assist the seamers in the first half?"

Poltu-da: "Well, first of all I would like to thank my local club, my friends & family. Without their support
I would not have achieved this. Also through this platform I would like to invite everyone to our yearly cultural wife is singing "Aloker ei jhornadhara" this time & my son is taking part in...."

Anchor: "Err..Poltu-da..has decided to field first..the Nighters are coming onto the field. 
The Conventional Royals' batsmen are here already. Back to the commentary box."

Thank you mate. 

The Nighters are on the field. Their field is being set. The off-side captain & the leg-side captain are 
placing their fielders on the respective sides. The wicketkeeper is captaining the slip fielder.
Here comes the first delivery......

Ohh!! Wait..we have crowd trouble here....a huge fracas is going on in the stands. The match is on hold.
Let us go to our man who is in there.

What is the issue ?
Anchor: "Well, apparently here we have a Tarini Jethu..a man who many claim was thrown into the sea by his fellow shipmates , some 10 years ago. However, legend has it that Tarini Jethu managed to come ashore with a fish in his mouth. He was conferred the  "Siddhu, Luckiest Man" award, an award named after the man who coined the phrase, "throw a lucky man into the sea  & he will come out with a fish in his mouth". People out here are protesting that it is grossly unfair that Tarini-jethu was not given the chance to be the captain. He is the original lucky man they say. Back to the commentary box "

Well..there you are..we have more trouble. Supporters of Tarini Jethu are moving towards the pitch. The players have retreated. The latest news is that a " Justice For Tarini Jethu" committee has ben formed & we are having a mid pitch elections for the post of the General Secretary of the committee. The committee plans to do sit-in demonstrations & gherao coach Boka for his alleged acts of favoritism towards Poltu-da.

We are signing off for the day...the match has been postponed. 

This is Arbitmind for SMGOL Telecasters International.
Have a good day !! 

Friday, March 20, 2009


Work kept Arbitmind too busy & he could not put in the posts for a month. Pheww!!

Now that is a reason or an excuse? 
Prima Facie it seems that the same statement can be interpreted as a reason or an excuse depending on
the interpreter's perception.
For example the same response can actually lead to two very different kind of conversations depending on whether  your response is being perceived as a reason or an excuse:


 X: "I could not be on time for the meeting. The traffic is really bad on this road"
 Y: "Yeah. The traffic is really bad. Something should be done about it"


 X: "I could not be on time for the meeting. The traffic is really bad on this road"
 Y: " know pretty well that the traffic is bad on this road. 
You should have started a bit earlier than usual to make sure that you are on time"

Clearl,  in the second case,  Y has taken X's statement to be an excuse.
You cannot really blame Y for that. He has a point. Likewise X also has a point. 
X did not expect the worst case scenario & hence started on the normal time. After all, no one(at least a good majority) wants to start off his day by expecting the worst case scenario.
From Y's perspective it is not acceptable that X did not factor in the possibility of bad traffic wherein he
was fully aware of the prevailing situation.
Both have a point & the debate becomes a sort of "what came first..the egg or the chicken?"

However there are some cases where debate is totally lopsided. 
X believes he has a watertight case.
Y thinks that the response is preposterous.
like the following ones. All of them are real life stuff.

Location: School Chemistry lab.

Teacher :  "This is the third test tube you have broken in as many sessions. For God's sake why can't you be careful?"
Arbitmind(indignantly): "It just broke by itself, seriously, I barely touched it."

Location: BITS, Pilani

Prof-In-Charge: "You want a make up for this test of Lin AL? Why ?"
Arbitmind (bristling with confidence) : "I was sick"
Prof-In-Charge: "What happened?"
Arbitmind(merrily): "stomach ache, headache, dizziness, giddiness."
Prof-In-Charge: "Anything else?"
Arbitmind : "No, this is enough for a two day rest..right?" 

Location: Pune

Arbitmind : " Work kept me too busy and I could not put in the posts for a month. Pheww!!"

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Toymaker

This Sunday Arbitmind had the privilege of meeting a great visionary - the likes of whom
are  the last bastions of humanity in an increasingly consumption oriented world.

He was invited to talk to the BITS,Pilani Alumni-Pune Chapter as part of the 
half yearly meet.

He looks like the quintessential scientist. A rag tag kurta, unkempt beard & a bag.
He doesn't call himself a scientist though. 'The toymaker' is what he prefers.

Meet Prof. Arvind Gupta.
(A winner of the National Award for Science Popularisation)
You can explore the site to marvel at what Arvind Gupta has accomplished.
The site also has detailed instructions for scores of scientific toys.

A bit of personal interaction during lunch revealed much about the man.
His parents had never been to a school. He made it to IIT,Kanpur in 1970.
Joined TELCO as an engineer but (in his own words) soon realised that 
he did not want to make trucks. He was not sure of what he wanted to do but
was reasonably sure that what he did not want to do was to make trucks.
He wanted to make toys.
Toys that would catch the imagination of young children & fire their curiosity.
Thats what he has been doing for so many years.
As Arvind says "I have lived my life on the roads, rather, I have thrived on the roads".

The presentation itself was a pleasure. Arbitmind does not remember the last time when he was so captivated. 
Arvind created pumps from junk material, a fan from a pencil & paper & string helicopters from waste paper. 
The unique thing was that each of his toys had complex physics behind its functioning.
Theories which Engineers like Arbitmind have read about in Resnick- Halliday books without actually encountering them. 

..& what does he do with this expertise & vision ?

Arvind Gupta & his team visits hundreds of Municipal schools all over the place to ignite
the spirit. He says "They are the ones who need us the most". Very True.
His team visits schools , explain scientific phenomenon, teaches the concepts of 
vibrations, pumps, geometry, structures - all through simple & joyous toy making sessions.

This man left a high profile job to pursue his passion of teaching in a different way.
He may not be a wealthy man today. He may not have a fancy car to zip around the town.
He may not have a six figure salary. However he has earned a few things which money can never buy.
Respect & Admiration. 

How many of us would have the zeal & the passion come out of our cozy little cocoons
for the sole purpose of positively contributing to the society ?
Most of us have mapped the journey of our lives hopping from one material gain to the other.
'n'th stop - A degree. 
Next stop - A nice job. 
Next stop - a nice car. 
Next stop - a nice house.
(There's no harm in being self indulgent. All of us are.)
But along the way, how many faces we have managed to put a smile on?
How many dreams have we created ?

People like Arvind Gupta have their journeys peppered with those smiles & dreams.
That's why they are special.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Manipulating Luck

Being superstitious often comes naturally to most of us.
Arbitmind hazards a guess -
most of us have a lucky shirt, a lucky pair of shoes or something to that effect tucked away somewhere.

Back in school Arbitmind had this concept of  a lucky shirt.
Nobody drilled that concept was one of 'those' brainwaves - the kind which
seemed to strike Arbitmind every once in a while .
Every half-a year during the examinations,the first paper would invariably be English. 
It was one of those subjects where Arbitmind would do well.
Now who or what should get the credit for this?
Using his 'profound' logic & insight Arbitmind would conclude that the white shirt which he wore
to the exam hall was behind his success.
Washing the shirt would wash off the good luck charm too. A stern warning to a disgusted mother would  follow..."the shirt was not to be touched"...There was a series of question papers to be negotiated and the shirt was his magic wand.
Things would go up to the extent that by the time the Chemistry exam ended Arbitmind would come back home & hide his shirt because his mother had made up her mind that the goodluck charm needs to be washed off for a greater good of the society in general & the surroundings in particular. 
By the time the Statistics paper ended(which was the last exam), Arbitmind(with the goodluck shirt on) would have had transformed himself into a public health hazard. 
Tathagata(the guy who sat behind Arbitmind during the examinations) had plainly voiced his disapproval once.
The poor guy could not take the olfactory torture anymore.
Even then things did not change. Arbitmind risked the ire of friends, parents & teachers for the sake of the white shirt...the good luck charm.
(Remember : behind every excellent marksheet there is a soiled shirt)

The question is does it really help ? The obvious answer would be a 'NO', the most plausible explanation for Arbitmind's above mentioned folly would be 'teenage naivety'. 

So why are such superstitions such a widespread phenomenon then ? 
What makes even mature, level headed people succumb to such superstitions ?
..& for that matter superstitions are not restricted to teenagers or the proclaimed naive.

Arbitmind believes attributing such behaviour to simple naivety would be an over-simplification.
A stronger reason can be that all of us, in our own little ways try to manipulate our luck.
We tend to explain events as 'cause & effect phenomenon' & believe that outcomes can be manipulated by extrapolation. 

Someone wears a certain tie before every important client meet. Someone uses a certain
bat every time he goes out for an important cricket match. 

Sometimes things go beyond the individual.There are mass superstitions as well. 
Cricket teams believe that if the first wicket to fall is a run out it spells doom for the team.
Ask a BITSian. While going for a test, very few dare to look up
towards the famed clock tower of BITS,Pilani. Legend has it that anyone who does so has a disastrous test.
(It is altogether a different matter that Arbitmind has had numerous disastrous tests even when he did not
look at the clock tower.)Both are examples of collective attempts at manipulating luck.

Luck, though, has its own ways of smiling upon people...thoroughly unconcerned with individual or collective efforts at manipulation. 
That's experience.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Supernatural Conversation :-)

Apologise for this post to people who do not understand Bengali. 
However, this news item just could not be ignored.

Summary :

The police were informed of a suicide in the night. 
The 'body' was hanging from a tree. Apparently the lady in question had
hung herself b'coz of some domestic issues.
Her husband & villagers had gathered below the tree & are lamenting.
As per the law, a policeman climbs up the tree to retrieve the body.
As he gets near the body, the 'dead woman' declares .."I am alive".
The poor cop gets the shock of his life & was about to fall down afer having been scared out of his wits,
the woman(who was presumed dead till then) prevents the cop from falling down after the shock.
Investigation has revealed that the woman simply acted out the entire episode to
teach her husband a lesson. All the time, she was actually standing on a branch with a rope
around her neck.
The police has warned the woman not to repeat such a thing. 

Priceless !!!  'Raaz 3' anyone ?

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Ant & the Dentist

One of the biggest mortal fears of Arbitmind - The Dentist.

They all seem so very alike.
White coat, amiable & forever re-assuring. They all have this pet dialogue
"It is going to be just like an ant bite."

Trust Arbitmind, he has had to encounter this dialogue in three distant corners of  India,
the dialogue coming from three different dentists . 
"Peepre -r kamorer moton lagbe shudhu,bass" [circa 1999, Agartala] (in Bengali)

"Bas chinti ke kaantne jaisa lagega, bass"  [circa 2001, Med-C, BITS Pilani]

"Its just like an ant biting you. Nothing more"  [circa 2006, Pune]

Makes Arbitmind wonder whether this dialogue is actually a part of the standard Dentistry 
curriculum. Something that needs to be dished out to reluctant young patients before they
would actually lie on 'that couch', stare at the light & open his mouth. 

Lets 'face' this - Arbitmind hasn't been blessed with the most resolute dental health.
[Now Let Arbitmind assure the reader that he regularly brushes his teeth, twice a day. 
Come on now, you cannot castigate a man worth his salt for loving his 5star chocolate or
Butterscotch Ice-Cream. ]

From his early days , the poor guy has been a regular at the Dentist's place & had been
through two extractions & three 'fillings' even before he had completed high school. 
( One hell of a young achiever he has been )

Those traumatic experiences made sure that he never had a very favourable view of 
dentists. It seemed that they were this smooth talking types who would simply convince you 
to undergo barbaric 'treatments' by bringing a harmless ant into the picture.

In his school days, he had found out that the ant had almost never kept its promise.

However, the tragedy was that dental problems kept recurring. 

So , two extractions & three 'fillings' later, one fine morning , in 2001, Arbitmind was walking 
towards the Medical Centre(MedC to BITSians) within the BITS, Pilani campus. 
The facial topography 
was highly distorted - thanks to a nice little pre-molar which had decided to revolt.

Now, almost all of Arbitmind's trips to the MedC were for the primary purpose of getting a prescription
which would have the golden words "two days rest advised" written on it, ostensibly because he seemed to be stricken with
a mysterious ailment  (which included 'loose motion'+'headache'+'weakness')  before tests of certain courses  like 
'Mech Sol(mechanics of solids)', 'DMV(Dynamics of Machines & Vibrations)', NumAl(Numerical Analysis), OR(Operations Research), etc, etc. Those golden words increase your chances of getting a 'make-up' for the test. The guy who has been granted a make-up can write the test when he has recovered from the 'sickness'. 

However, that trip was different. It was a genuine case. The pain had become unbearable.
Pain relieving gels had failed to do the trick. 'The trip' had to be made.

A little enquiry suggested that there was a dentist available.
Got into his cabin.

The same look.. deja vu?
Very amiable.
Had a long look at the pre-molar tooth & then broke the news,

"I will have to do a root canal treatment". 
It sounded much like "Ab inhe dawa ki nahi, duwa ki zaroorat hain" to Arbitmind's ears.

Arbitmind(throat parched) : "When do you want to do it ?"

Dentist : "3 sittings, I will start right now. The infection has not spread much.
          1 sitting now. Then you will be on antibiotics & we can have the 2 sittings next week."

Arbitmind(that sinking feeling in the stomach) : What is the procedure ?

Dentist : "Ahh !! Nothing much. You see these pins?" (pointing to a few sinister looking needles)
          "I will just cut out the nerve of the root of your tooth using these. It becomes a dead tooth.
           Won't cause you any trouble then. We can then put a cap covering the tooth. Simple"

Arbitmind(aghast & sweating, barely managing to conceal the stammer) : Pain ?

Dentist : "Bas chinti ke kaantne jaisa lagega, bass"

There you go !!! The damned ant.... again. !!!

Arbitmind : "OK. Aap prepare karo. Main aapni cycle thik jagah park karke aata hoon. Main socha tha ki jaldi ho jayega isliye, gate ke samne laga ke aya hoon. 5 minute me wapas aata hoon"

["you make the preparations. I shall be back after parking my cycle in the right place. Thought it would be a short trip, 
so I have parked it in front of the gate. Shall be back in 5 minutes"]

Dentist (gleefully) : "OK. Be back soon."

Arbitmind came out of the MedC. The pain had mysteriously subsided.
Time for the great escape. There was no way Arbitmind was going back to that cabin.
Those sinister needles !!! There must be some way out. Anyway he had trusted this ant story so many times before.  
He hurriedly walked towards Nutan market, looking out for a medicine shop.
(God Almighty knows how long did the dentist wait for Arbitmind.)

The affable Chemist listened to his problem, suggested a painkiller & an antibiotic. So kind of him.

It took three days but the painkiller & the antibiotic worked & the pre-molar was beaten back into submission. Dentists were not in vogue any more. The chemist was such a nice guy.

Victory !!! 
Arbitmind was so proud of himself. A flash of quick thinking had saved the day for him. 

The ant had been vanquished.(Even the wingies were spellbound by this tale)

Cut To 2006 AD.  Place : Pune 

Dentist :"Its been like this for quite sometime, this pre-molar of yours"

Arbitmind(in extreme pain) : "Been there since college "

Dentist :"Root Canal is the only way out. Now even antibiotics won't be effective & pain killers won't kill the pain. You should 
have done the RCT long ago. No one told you to do the RCT?"

Arbitmind(almost howling in pain) : "Forget it. Now what ?"

Dentist :"RCT. no other way out. Take these tablets. The inflammation will come down a bit & come tomorrow evening. 
We need to start right away. If you don't do the RCT now , it will have to be extracted. Got it ?"

Arbitmind (unbearable pain) : "RCT, RCT, I agree. No problems"

Dentist :"OK. Then. we shall start tomorrow."

Arbitmind(fighting back the pain) : "Will it be painful ?"

Dentist :"Its just like an ant biting you. Nothing more" 


"& anyway its going to be less painful than what you are going through right now"


The damned ant.

FYI: The RCT was done. The experience was too traumatic to even write about.
     Bloody Ant.