Date archives "October 2011"

2011 North East Monsoon Comes To Chennai

Monsoon season is upon us here in Chennai, it arrived last night with quite a bang. Thunder rolled (it rolled a 4), lightning flashed and I got grumpy because I couldn’t sleep. A quick school lesson for you here…the monsoon refers to a type of weather pattern, not the actual rain, the rain is a consequence of a weather pattern. There you go, something to impress your friends with.

The first day of the monsoon brought 12cm of rain in 24 hours and as usual turned the roads in to shallow water rivers. When I first arrived in India I wondered why all the pavement curbs were all 2 foot high, it’s so it can channel all the water. Or at least that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

When I woke up it was still raining so I knew that getting to work would be an issue. I toyed with the idea of working from home but the dedicated worker that lives within me told me to get to the office. The problem is the road outside my apartment had turned in to a river and just getting out the apartment complex would involve walking ankle deep through, well, water with suspicious things floating in it.

Of course, I used to be in the SAS[1]
so a little bit of murky water shouldn’t be an issue for me, I’ve roughed it like no one else has. Yeah, that was 10 years ago though, so I did the only sensible thing I could do: I called up the office manager and asked him to come round and pick me up on the back of his bike. Yeah, hardcore!

Not sure where the old boy who owned this rubbish cart went, but he obviously didn’t want to be out in the rain and left the cart standing there!


1Army Officers Training Corps: Saturday and Sunday crew

Humiliated By The City

Wow, where to start with this one. United have been looking shakey for the last few matches, first against Norwich and then against Liverpool, it couldn’t have been any more different to the first few games of the season where they were like a poor man’s Barcelona and looking awesome.

This 6-1 defeat is United’s biggest ever defeat in the Premier League and I guess Man City have made it quite clear that they intend to be a lot more than just the noisy neighbours – more like the new landlords of Manchester I would think.

First thing’s first. United were awful from the kick-off. There was no fluidity, none of the intricate passing we had seen in the earlier matches and Young and Nani could rarely beat Micah Richards and Gael Clichy on the wings. The defense was a mess, Johnny Evans had another calamitous match which culminated in a sending off at the start of the second half, Ferdinand couldn’t keep up with City’s pacey forwards and even the normally fleet footed Evra struggled to contain Milner.

By the time the game got to 80 minutes, United’s back line literally looked like it had given up or had no more energy left to run and City just went rampant, none of the defenders could keep up and De Gea was pretty much blameless for all the goals.

When Abramovich bought Chelsea the title by buying all the best players it was often said that you need to grow a team and not buy a team. Mancini has bought a team of individuals and somehow got them to play as a team. No doubt they’ll go through a slow patch like all teams go through during the season but on this performance I think City are the team to beat this year.

Oh, and of course, being more than a little bit bitter about the humiliating defeat, I can’t just say congratulations, so let’s not forget the amount of money being spent by Man City; any success they get is because they have taken shortcuts and bought it. The sooner the FIFA financial fair play rules come in the better, we can’t have foreign sugar daddies coming in and manipulating the game like this.

Good Job, Dave

Well done, Dave, you have come out victor in another conflict started without consent of the British public and at an estimated cost of £1bn give or take a few hundred million pounds. And I thought Britain was broke and we all (that is, the public at large) had to take it stoically on the chin. £1bn? That’s 5 new schools for you right there.

And now, the evil, but slightly comical goatee-bearded villain is dead. No more long rambling rhetorical speeches for journalists to be smugly condescending about and how comforting it is to know that the unelected Libyan transitional Head of State (who, not forgetting, was this time last year the Justice Minister in the aforesaid villain’s showpiece government) has publicly said that the bastions of humanity will not be forgotten when it comes to handing out those lucrative contracts to rebuild the bombed out country. A score for your party donators British business.

Now, Dave, how about this for an idea? Before we go gallivanting as the knight in shining armour in to yet another conflict with an oil rich state in the name of humanity (while of course neatly side-stepping the inconvenient issues present in non-oil rich failed states), why not ask the public if they want to send our (I’m searching for a better word here) defense forces in to a war zone thousands of miles away by conducting a democratic referendum?

Dave, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I would rather see the hospitals, schools and council services be better funded rather than spending another £250,000 to send a plane to drop a bomb on Johnny Foreigner, no matter how much oil the country has humanity the people need.

Good News Britain

I noticed that the last few posts about England were all a bit doom and gloom and since nothing sells like bad news that’s mostly what the newspapers and media companies will push. However there is still some good news around, you just have to hunt a little harder for it. Today it was announced that around 5,500 jobs will be created and secured in North Wales thanks to a new factory that will produce the wings for the new Airbus A350. Hmm, I wonder if they need any aerospace engineers…

£400m Factory Secures Thousands Of Jobs - Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance
£400m Factory Secures Thousands Of Jobshttp://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/-400m-Factory-Secures-skynews-904654574.html?x=0The largest factory to be built in the UK for five years, opens its doors today. The £400m facility, at Broughton in North Wales, will produce wings for the new Airbus A350.…

Oh What A Spectacle

Every now and then I tend to do something a little bit stupid. We’re not talking epic stupidity here, more like putting my mobile phone through the washing machine (err, twice) or dropping my phone in to a pint of beer (err, again, twice) or putting a mobile phone in to an open pocket of my backpack walking to the office and discovering with innocent horror that it was no longer there.

This week I decided to be stupid in a whole new innovative way which didn’t involve a mobile phone. Being a computer geek means that I have to spend rather more time sat in front of a computer than you would imagine is healthy, or rather is healthy for an average human being. Fortunately computer geeks are far from average and we can aimless surf around the Internet looking up things like what is a Beadle, how kidney stones are formed and discovering that the tune to “The Animals Go In Two By Two” is actually stolen from an American civil war marching tune called “When Jonny Comes Marching Home” for hours after the average person has given up and gone off to be sociable with real life actual people.

However, the super-human ability to sit in front of a computer screen does come at a cost, namely the eyes. I can barely look at a computer screen for more than 5 minutes without glasses before I feel the tell tale strain in my left eye that informs me that “buddy, we’re preparing one hell of a banging headache any minute now“. So yeah, my glasses are fairly important to me which is why it would be a really stupid idea to leave them on say, oh I don’t know, a plane.

I flew back to India yesterday. I left my glasses on the plane. I had to go to work today in my capacity of Online Marketing Manager, which as the designation implies, involves lots of computer work. Damnit!

Now this being India, some people who are a little less illuminated about this great country might think you have to go through hell and back to get a pair of spectacles. Hah, not a chance my ignorant friends. India is a land of programmers and call centres where people have to stare at computers all day long. There is an entire army of opticians waiting on every street in every town serving the never ending stream of Mechanical Engineering graduates who have toiled away for the last 4 years calculating complex matrices and partial differentiation and have realised that while finite element analysis is fascinating in every way, answering the phone and saying “Hello you have reached HSBC customer services, Brian speaking, how can I help you today?” pays well better and you even get a cool fussball table in the staff room. All you have to give up in return (apart from your innocence and soul) is your eyesight as you stare at Mrs. Grimbal’s account details on the computer screen for 10 solid hours a day.

I manfully soldiered through 8 hours of office work today by installing a piece of software called workrave which is the cyber equivalent of a health and safety executive standing over your shoulder and telling you that your chair is wrong, the desk is too high, the foot rest is at the wrong angle, the fluorescent lights are the wrong frequency and you have sharpened your pencils to a degree that could cause significant discomfort if you were to drive it in to your ear absent mindedly. The software basically forces you to take a break every 10 minutes by locking up your computer for 30 seconds and if you even dare attempt to move your mouse during that time it pointedly freezes the count down, looks at you with a stare which suggests that it can pause all day if you want it to, before resuming a few seconds later when you’ve stopped moving the mouse around.

And so it was thus that I managed to do my job without getting too great a headache and seeing how I can’t do anything without the Internet these days proceeded to look up where my nearest optician was. Foolishly I forgot that this was India so felt rather sheepish when I found that there was one on the same street as my office.

When you go in to an opticians in England and say I want to buy a pair of glasses, the receptionist will look at you, make a show of putting down the phone to indicate that you dared to interrupt her daily gossip, flick through the appointments book and inform you that they’ve got a slot coming up in two weeks on Wednesday at the convenient time of 11:00am. In India, you walk in to the opticians at 8pm and a crowd of assistants descend upon you, lead you to the examination room, the optician comes in and does a full eye test, gives you the prescription which you take to the sales staff and then have three people helping and advising you on which frames to pick, you make the payment and are informed that the glasses will be ready to pick up at 5pm tomorrow afternoon.

God I do love India sometimes!

Daylight Robbery On The British Trains

I just purchased a single train ticket to take me from Market Harborough to London St Pancras tomorrow morning at 9am. The whole journey takes about 60 minutes and East Midland Trains, the thieving robbing bastards that they are, see it fit to charge a staggering £50 for the pleasure. It’s not paying for the fuel or staffing costs, it’s more than likely paying for the station refurbishment at St Pancras.

If the Government want more people to take public transport, then they need to sort out the prices of it first because at fifty quid a go it’s only going to be the wealthy people who can afford to not have a car! What’s more, if Network Rail (or whatever the hell it is now) franchise out the lines it means money grabbing companies like East Midland Trains have got the monopoly on that route and have no competition or incentive to keep the prices down.

£50 pounds for a 60 minute train ride. Britain is broken. The country has gone to the dogs. I’m not going to be hanging round here.

Steve Jobs Apple Store Memorial

Took this photo outside the Covent Garden Apple Store in London on Thursday afternoon. Big crowds had gathered outside to pay tribute to the man. I’m not a mac fan myself but you can’t argue with the success Steve brought to Apple when he returned to the company he founded in the mid-90’s. He left the company as one of the biggest in the world when it eclipsed Exxon in August (but then lost some ground) having already succeeded Microsoft and Dell.

Steve Jobs Apple Store London Memorial

Morning Mists

Not to be outdone by the often spectacular sunsets that India has to offer, I snapped this photo at about 7:30am which has the usual English Autumn morning mists with the sun desperately trying to break through. I’ve obviously brought the Indian weather home with me because it’s not supposed to be mid-high 20’s in October! Or as one person on Twitter pointed out: Greece, pay your bills and you can have your weather back!