I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Saturday, December 31, 2005


In our office, one of the most common pranks is to find an unlocked computer and send a mass mail to a few people/ groups. Every year, the batch of new hires discovers this ability and we see a surfeit of such mass mails. Sometimes the mails are harmless - people asking for help on most important topics (fertiliser production in Myanmar, beauty parlour contacts in 26 cities in the country, etc.), people communicating their vacation (I am bored and hence am taking next 2 days off!!). Sometimes these are slightly more malicious - personal announcements (of love, engagement, marriage), announcement of a new intiative and asking for sign-ups (benchmarking trip to other offices, cost-reduction!!)...

Sometimes people have reacted to announcements of real engagements by asking whether it's a prank. I have on occasions ignored mails asking for contacts of people (film-makers, event-managers) as pranks, even though I had them.

Mostly, such pranks are boring. Hence, I have moved on from them!! (Although, people still suspect that I am behind every mass mail sent from Senior Leadership's account)

The best pranks that have been played are far more elaborate. Like the one last year on M.S. by the F team (I could have shared details but I would like to play such a prank again!!) or on P.A, by her team. Or when people took out all the contents of the A's office and convinced him that it was never his office. Or when S** reached a client site with only potatoes in his laptop bag (don't know how the presentation went, but I am sure they had fries with that).

Some pranks, on the other hand, don't go off so well. Senior leadership was very upset when we changed his ringtone to 'Dr. Dang thappar ka badla lega'.

Hence, the question, what makes a good prank?? Economist, as always, has some answers. Their prank competition is open, by the way.

"Abbie Hoffman, a 1960s radical-cum-trickster, said most pranks fell into one of three categories: “good” pranks were amusingly satirical, “bad” ones gratuitously vindictive, and “neutral” ones surreal and soft on the victim (if there was one). An example of the first is the time Mr Hoffman and his fellow “Yippies” showered the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with dollar bills in 1967, thereby managing to stop the tickertape for six minutes while traders scrambled to pick up the notes. For a taste of the second, go to any college fraternity initiation. Examples of the third are many and delicious. A master of the art in the early 20th century was Horace de Vere Cole, an inveterate British prankster. Cole bore a striking resemblance to the then leader of the Labour Party, Ramsay MacDonald, and one of his favourite japes was to appear at Labour rallies posing as MacDonald, stride on stage to rapturous applause, and denounce everything the party stood for.

Priceless or puerile? There's the rub, for one man's brilliant prank is another's mindless stunt. Most would agree that the best pranks offer more than just deception, mischievousness or ridicule, and that much of the genre dished up on television now—the mutant progeny of shows like “Candid Camera”—falls well short of the mark. But what is that special ingredient? Elaborateness or simplicity? Satirical bite or surrealism? Irony or bluntness? Even dictionaries seem unsure how to define “prank” (orig. unk.): it is, by turns, a malicious trick, a conjuring act performed to deceive or surprise, a mischievous frolic, and more."

National Geographic has an article on April Fool Hoaxes. The photo (shown above) with the shark was a hoax (Photo of the Year!). However, it probably can be called amusingly satirical. But, what about Piltdown Man? And Ramar Pillai? When does a prank/ hoax become malicious or vindictive? What happens if the prankster/ hoaxer earns financial rewards? CBI arrested Ramar Pillai. Then, why not a case against Taco Bell, where sales increased by half a million dollars?

Wonder what Senior Leadership has to say about this?
Is the point of view/ intent of a hoaxer important (I never wanted to offend Senior Leadership, but he was offended)?

Friday, December 30, 2005

American Hindu!!

I don't even need to comment. This is hilarious...

Don't know how Nayan Mongia will react if he comes to know that our friend has hypothesised that he is the descendant of a Mongol who "look like Yellow race or oriental people", with their "evil genes"...

"How did they come up w a name NAYAN for him?

Were there any nayan settlers in that part of Gujaret, as gujaret being very close to Pakisthan, I assume or feel Kublai Khan was somehow was there in west coast areas of India."

Sexism at IIT

"IIT men suck—they can be pretty desperate," says one second year student. "They hit on you all the time and try to approach you, especially on Yahoo Messenger.". Check the recent article in the Tabloid of India.

We have had this debate in our team over the last few months. Are IIT students sexist? On the issue, there is the liberal colleges point of view (BITS, Stephen's, Xavier's) and there is the IIT point of view.

Liberal: Diffe
rences, conscious or sub-conscious, in behaviour, language & thought towards the female gender, is sexism (Okay, this might seem absolute, but the spirit isn't). Most Indian men grow up in a sexist environment, during their schooling. In smaller towns or lower income classes, sexism is even more pervasive.

Behaviour, language and thought undergoes change during college, where beliefs are formed. The environment during college determines the extent and type of change. IITs offer a skewed sex ratio (1:10 is not uncommon)and thus, girls are not viewed as normal (normal is defined as average/ common). IITs also have a larger proportion of students from small towns/ lower income classes, and hence the initial position itself is more 'sexist' that others.

Hence, most IIT men continue to remain sexist/ become more sexist.
This is different in liberal colleges, where regular interaction over professional/ extra-curricular situations removes the differences in behaviour/ language/ thought.

IIT: Girls in IIT suddenly find themselves in a monopoly situation!! As they suddenly become the cynosure of all eyes, they encourage sexist behaviour. Thus, men who would be normal towards all other women, behave differently towards women from IIT.
Other than that, IIT men are only as sexist as any other colleges.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cough, cold and card games

I am stuck at home with a cough and cold - throat infection. The work I do - can only get done in office.

Hence, I have some free time. Thus, this blog and frequent posts. Yesterday, when I was going to sleep, I was getting this craving for UNO.

Our team has a deep interest in the card game (even Senior Leadership participates).
In fact, inspired by our team, the game, invented in a barbershop in Reading, has sparked off quite a following on the 22nd floor. Every day some team would drop by into our room, asking us for a game. Usually, we would be playing the game, when they would drop by (this has changed slightly now, with us working from a different office during the day).

We have also 'invented' some rules. Well, the same rules also have been thought up by others (so we can't claim a patent), in various other versions of UNO that are on the net.

However, our combination of rules which we need to name, works for us (Maqsood/ Kaju/ Christophe/ Mulund/ Mowgli). The main rules are:
1) The dealer will deal 13 cards each in the beginning. The rest are put on a pile face-down, with the top card being put up face-up for starting the game. Standard rules of matching either the colour or number applies from now on. The objective of the game is to get rid of your cards
(I am assuming you already know the basic rules, from now on).

2) If you can't/ don't want to play a card, you draw one card from the face-down pile. You can choose to play a card (including the card which has been drawn) after you draw. Otherwise, you can pass.
3) The Draw-2 and Draw-4 cards are cumulative. You can choose to 'ward off' the drawing of 2 or 4 cards by playing one of your Draw-2s or Draw-4s respectively. However, you can't play Draw-4 on a Draw-2 and vice-versa.
4) The penalty for not saying UNO, when you have one card left, is drawing 4 cards.
5) The final, and in our opinion the best, rule is the blank card rule. If you play the blank card (there are 3 of them in the pack), you can make any two people (including yourself) exchange their hands.
This can prove very useful when someone has only 1-2 cards and you make him exchange his cards with yourself or with your team-mate. This can also prove useful, relatively early on, in getting to know your team-mates cards.
6) Teams can be made, if an even number of people are playing. We form 2 teams of (n/2) members each. The game is over when one member of a team finishes all his cards. Sacrificial plays come into play in this game!!
7) No looking at another person's card (That's for Sun/ North Star and other people whom we have observed over the last few weeks!!)

Anyone who looks like this

Dr. Mukherjee (Princeton?!!)

Dr. Strangelove (Where?)

I won't be able to tell the difference in the pics.

However, I have had the fortune of meeting the good doctor from Princeton. The differences are these:
1) S's hand twitches involuntarily, while P's performances are moving, he won't be caught dead giving a Nazi salute
2) P wears cowboy boots while S wears a glove
3) S speaks with a heavy German accent (maybe Kissinger). P can manage that as well.

Well, the last isn't a difference, but then I don't know whether S could have generated the various accents which P uses with ease.

A little Camera can be a dangerous thing

That's me in the corner

This is my office, I have deleted Mowgli from the pic. This was the day, when we went mad with my camera.

Since the rest of my blog is empty as of now (till I find an overarching theme), at least let me be true to the blog's name and put up some snaps.

The pic on the left is the three of us workers (Senior Leadership is absent) standing against the door. None of us are supermodels, and thus, it's better we appear in silhouette while posing....

The lights are of South Bombay looking towards the harbour. The morning view is just fabulous, though, I have never been able to capture the richness.

Site Meter Personal Blogs by Indian Bloggers