Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Solving the unknown

It is rather cliched, but it is the hard truth.  There are many things in life that I have no clue of, and I really don't care.  At the other end of the spectrum, I know a lot of things which adds no value to the system.  Ask me a question What happened in the 1992 cricket world cup between India and Pakistan? Pat will come the reply, "Oh yeah, it has got that Miandad-More episode".

Dei, do you remember that dialogue in Sivaji?
Of course, when Rajini is asked by his mother as to what he does in the US, our thalaivar (leader) comes up with a classic

SoftwareSyssstemsArkitect!!! (All in one fluent rapid motion.  That is the beauty of the response, and only Rajini can do it).

By the way, for the un-observers, it is Software Systems Architect.

There is no question of "Which one?", for the question and answer is supposed to be implicit.  The fun lies in giving the answers to the implicit questions and striking a special bond with the questioner (nobody cares at the end of the day is a different matter altogether!).  

Cricket statistics of any bowler, batsman, fielder, twelfth man, and whoever is associated with the game even remotely, is right there waiting to shoot out of your brains.  Movie trivia, all the tidbits about all the beautiful women in the world, controversies, gossip and as I said, any junk that can be accommodated within that limitless confines of your brain processes the data by placing a "TOP PRIORITY" tag.  Everything else is placed outside this boundary, which means, it is not included in you.  The reaction time is less than a few nanoseconds and the initiator and the initiated do not have a surprised look on their faces, because both of them belong to that elite club of knowing everything about what is not important in life. 

There comes a moment in life, when you ponder, and wish that you could have assimilated useful information  equivalent to at least one per cent of the unwanted junk that you accumulated with so much ease, and also, with a great flair.  This elusive moment is what is called as a passing cloud, though not confronted often, but when confronted, can cause great damage to your central nervous system, and not to forget, your pocket.  As I set foot out of my house today, the early morning snow dampened any little spirit I had in going to work.  It is not a Monday morning, but nevertheless, it is a weekday morning, and the white sleet was in no way going to lift your spirits.  Anyway, I had to start my car, and drive a few paces down the road, and I see that treacherous yellow light blinking, as though the car is fighting for its life.  As the expletives exploded in my head, laced with a few intermittent prayers invoking all the wonderful Gods that my mother prays to with so much fervor, I knew the situation called for something more dramatic.  I had to get hold of a car mechanic as soon as possible and listen to whatever capradaprajaprapapra (If you don't understand this word, that is because, I could not figure out what the mechanic was saying) he has to say.  So, I scheduled an afternoon appointment (yeah, trust me, I did this) with the nearby mechanic.  As soon as I told him that the engine light was on, I could sense the excitement in his voice.  I knew I was going to be milked.

So, as I met up with him to keep up my appointment, and learn the fate of my car, it was as though a patient was waiting for a result from his doctor.

Me: What do you think is wrong?
Lord Mechanic (LM): Let us run the diagnostics and see.  There are 2000 car codes, so I really can't comment.  What is your car?
Me: 1998 Honda Civic!
LM: Oh cool, that saves us a 1000 codes.
Me: OK (there was no relief!)

After about ten minutes, LM pops out from his garage, after the scary inspection
LM: We got the codes from the diagnostics.  They give out 306 & 1700, I can tell you that 1700 is due to 306.  If you solve 306, you will be fine.
Me: Great, I understand everything.  What should I do now? 

LM: There is a misfire on cylinder 2.  You have to change the spark plug.  It will be better if you change the spark plugs on all the cylinders.  We also have to change the distributor rotor, and the complete spark plug set of wires have to be replaced.  You should also get a fuel injection service, and the fuel filter has to be replaced as well.  Basically, you car needs a tune up! (There goes the multiplication problem.  If there is one problem in the car, others will follow suit).

Dude, looks like I can get another car now! You just have one question whizzing in your head,

Me: Fine, how much is all this going to cost?

LM: I don't have the figures off the top of my head, but hold on!

This is when you appreciate his database skill set, as he selects a multitude of items, keeps pressing that enter button with an authority that can drive even Larry Ellison crazy.

LM: It's not much.  It is going to cost you 500$ with labor, but I am going to give you some good discounts.  He dilly dallies around with all possible coupons (actually, he made quite an earnest effort) and came up with 400$, and added that overall, it would cost me 448$ inclusive of tax (buy even a 1 cent item, you will have to shell out a few pence extra in tax).

Me (with that absolute dumb ass expression): Is this absolutely required?

This is one question for which LM grabs you by the scruff of your neck, stomps you under his feet, and squashes you without any mercy.  Mind you, all this effect is the result of the look he gives you for this stupid question.

LM: I would advise you to go ahead with all this.  If you don't do this now, you never know what can happen to your ignition system.  It can fail you any day.

So, here I was, with no idea of what he was saying.  I didn't even know whether he was really going to do what he was saying.  How I wish I could just buy the spark plugs and fit it myself.  Anyway, the trump card works.  I sulk, but there is no choice.  I throw the paper that I had into the waster paper basket.  It had a good laptop configuration - Intel dual core 2.1GHz processor, 4GB ram, 320 GB Hard disk and so on for 400$.

I had made my choice, rather, unwillingly, and forcefully!


  1. Ha Ha Praveen,

    Funny incident. Though I don't wish that upon anybody, it is funny to hear about it!

  2. Nicely written in a funny way especially the discussion with "the LM"! Good one!


  3. Well articulated dude ... U have brought ur frustration out, and that too without using any 'swear' words ... good job!!!

    U can be a good KinderGarten school teacher :D

  4. Thanks Sowmya! Yeah, you bet, you don't want anybody else to suffer like this :-)

    Thanks, Rajesh!

    Thanks, Jagannadha. How are you doing? Thanks for stopping by.

    Without using swear words, haha, that was all confined to my inner self!