Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The XO Laptop into a Hacking Machine

You know what software packages I'll be downloading the next time I put my laptop on the internet...

Turning the OLPC Into a Hacker’s Toolkit - Give One, Get Owned, Part 2

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I moved to yet another "PG" in Andheri. This time, its in Sheer-e-punjab.

(en français, prononcer "chérie pounjab").
Where is that? I'm glad you asked.

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I have water most of the time. The maid comes to wash the clothes most of the time. Its another step down from where I was, but I had my reasons. The first is landlord problems at the first place, the other is that I didn't to live with women (matter of principle, you know me). My other options were too pricey or involved the second factor I just said.
But its all good. I leave very close to many brothers now, so I'm having many morning quiet times with them, and its been doing me well.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More on Emotional Intelligence Issues

I found this CBC article interesting and I think I'll find out more about this Dr. Sax.
The basic thing is about how is it that young men seem to be stuck in perpetual adolescence.

Its kind of sad that Goleman documented that stuff 10 years back and that things have only worsed...

Here are the reasons (I quote from the article):

  • Video games. These addictive activities disengage boys from the world. Some young men even seem to prefer online porno to the prospect of sex with another human being.
  • Teaching methods. Girls develop intellectually up to two years ahead of boys. Boys in grade school are naturally rambunctious. They need ways to express their native energy. They are being taught to read and write too early. Their mostly female teachers prefer compliant, dutiful girls.
  • Prescription drugs. Hyperactive, frustrated boys are increasingly being medicated. This we all know. What Sax claims is that these drugs shrink the motivational centres of the brain and that the effect of this lasts years, well after these kids stop taking their meds. I hadn't heard this before but if it's true, it is truly frightening.
  • Endocrine disruptors. Chemicals from plastic bottles, canned food linings and some shampoos mimic natural estrogen, the female hormone. Boys' testosterone levels are half of what they were in their grandfathers' day. Also, their bones are significantly more brittle.
  • The devaluation of masculinity. Boys don't know how to become men. They no longer have appropriate rights of passage. Once Father Knows Best was the paternalistic model but now he has been replaced (and mocked) by a dopey Homer Simpson. Sax likes the old virtues of courage and temperance, with a good measure of intelligence.

I would add to that that there is a lack of mentoring in general, since we live in an individualistic society. This has major impact, since noone is really calling anyone back to reality. Sometimes, you really need a 'shut up and back back to Earth' talk, but do you have anyone to give it to you?
I'm so glad that, as a disciple, I had the help of brothers and of the Holy Spirit to make a man out of me. There is still A LOT to be done, but the transformation is radical already, and its only going to get better.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Trip to Aurangabad

Visit of Ajenta and Ellora caves

What an interesting yet challenging trip!

Aurangabad used to be an important city in Maharashtra. Its current named was in honour of a ruler that made it was it is.

I had the chance to visit the Ajenta caves, Ellora caves, the 'Taj of the Deccan'. I also had a fantastic Marathi Thali with one of my friends.

However, the transportation nearly destroyed the joy of travel.

Bus on Friday, from Andheri to Aurangabad. I arrived more than one hour late, and it could have been critical enough to make us miss our bus to Ajenta. I travelled with one of my friends, who took a better bus.
Thus, on Saturday, we had a quick hotel check-in, breakfast, then arrival in Ajenta. We spent a few hours with a tour guide from India Tourism. My travel partner and myself did some hardcore negocitating, and ended up leaving with a few souvenirs paid at a reasonable rate.
In the evening, Marathi Thali at one of my friend's house. Hmm... mango pulp, done with the mangoes growing in their backyard! And the mango chatney. And spicy lady fingers.
And to crown it all, some pure Aurangabadi pan. It is said to help digestion, and it is true. I was an amazing meal. Fantastic.
On Sunday, we packed early to check out (to avoid paying a second day) and walked to church. The service was 90% marathi, and it was painful. Seriously. Very very much so. Yet, their love was apparent. They gave us flowers, welcomed us with big hugs, and the brothers did their best to speak to us in the bit of English they knew. It wasn't great, not was it very edifying(a hot hall for 2 hours in an unknown tongue, with the passage references given to you in English only), but it was obvious that I was still in the Kingdom of God, and I wish I had the courage to invide my friend's family for translation. I'm sure that many of these guys have inspiring stories to tell.
At 12:30, our AC taxi picked us up, and the tour guide brought us to Ellora. He was very knowledgeable, spoke flawless English, and just made you enjoy your time there. The caves' sculpting was amazing, and the major Hindu cave was breathtaking. We are talking about a huge temple, finely ornamented, chiseled in one crazy huge chunck of rock! No joints, no mortar, nothing. Just rock.
In the evening, we saw the Taj of the Deccan and then visited a saree shop, where they hand-make sarees. Some will take at least one month to be realized. Wow!
Food at the MTDC hotel, and then wait at the train station. Our midnight train arrived past 2AM, and I slept on the platform (not a bench, the platform itself) while my partner was chatting with people and watching the luggage. Once in the train, the problems got worst. For some reason, many people had reservation for the same seat... My name wasn't on the conductor's list, neither was the name of the guy occupying my seat (actually, bed). There were people on the floor everywhere, stacked as they could. I opted to sleep on the floor too, with no blanket, having my luggage as pillow. If I moved my head a bit, I would wake up a kid sleeping nearby. Sometimes, a hand would end up on my rear end (I would've freaked out being a girl in this setting), but I did sleep up to 6AM or so. My travelling partner was no so lucky. He was stuck with no space surrounded with people talking and couldn't find anywhere to lay down before dawn. We arrived in Mumbai in the middle of rush hour, just to make things better.
I don't know how Indian Railways managed to mess up the booking for this train so badly, but they did. Now, I just have to find out how to complain to the ombudsperson (or similar office) and get a ticket and an apology.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

India is Not a Safe Place

And I was thinking of booking my tickets for a trip in North India very soon...

But, then, there are skirmishes between the Indian Army (technically, the BSF, but you get the point) and 'militants' (some rumours of Pakistani Rangers are there...) near Jammu... so here goes the 'Kashmir' part of the trip.

And then, terrorist blasts in Jaipur... so here goes the 'Rajastan' part of the trip.

Those were two places I really wanted to go :(

Saturday, May 10, 2008

9 Months in India

Its has been precisely 9 months I'm in this place. I'm too tired now to write the retrospect so far, so I'll spare you random thoughts.

I decided to treat myself today.
In the morning, I met the doctor because of my sinusitis. Then, I had my quiet time in Subway (waiting for Mocha to open), and headed to Mocha for my breakfast and some casual reading (never underestimate the power of a good novel!). Then, off to Vile Parle for a massage. And then hanging out with friends in Sagar City. In the evening, I went with some trainees to a goodbye party in Malad, and the DJ was wonderful. Too bad we couldn't dance there :(
I feel glad about this day... I wouldn't do the same every day, but I needed the break from the monotony and the stress.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Khuda Kay Liye

This is the first Pakistani movie to air in India for decades, and it was worth it!

Khuda Kay Liye tells three stories that are related.

In short: insightful, thought-provoking, and NOT propaganda from the West. To purchase when the DVD comes out with subtitles.

One brother decides to re-commit himself to Islam, but ends up with the wrong imam. He drops his music, movies to the tribal areas, forcefully marries a woman, gets dragged into Jihad. A nice guy who wanted none of these things, but didn't have the spine to hold back against them.
The other goes to Chicago to study music, falls in love with an American girl, marries her, but ends up with the wrong Federal Agent after 9/11. He is questioned and beat up to a vegetative state before being deported.

The woman who was forced to marry grew up in London and was in love with a guy there. Her father schemed to get her married with a Muslim guy and make sure she couldn't do anything about it. They held her hand and forced her to put her fingerprint on the marriage certificate. She tried to run away, but her plan was foiled. Her husband was nice at first, but the imam told him to have sex with his wife, not matter what she thought about it. She had a daughter from that union. She managed to smuggle a letter to her boyfriend in London, and her mother came to Pakistan to raise enough trouble for the Army to come and get her.

There is a court hearing, on what is really Islam, a fight between two Imams with radically different visions, and the "good" imam doing a powerful speech full of cross references that make the judges take notes.

There are many things about this movie I like.
In London, there is a guy with real inter-cultural skills who helps the rescuing.
In New York, the Federal Agent has no inter-cultural skills whatsoever... didn't even know or accept that Urdu has the same script as Arabic, but that they don't understand it at all.

The bad imam and the Federal Agent get their goons to beat up both brothers. The scene puts them side by side, doing nothing to stop vicious violence. The message was clear: they are the same.

Overall, I was able to understand the story, even though I barely got a word here and there. The acting needs to be fantastic for that to happen.

Singles' Retreat

Last weekend, we were 60 km away from Lonavla, in way-out-there rural Maharashtra. How much so? The signs and licence plates were all in Marathi. It took a few hours before reaching the closest town and we saw a grand total of 10 (max) factories between said town and our destination, the rest being farmland or villages.

That's something in itself!

Here are pictures and timelines:

Our bus kept on having problems climbing those hills, and the road did not leave you much chance to rest. We got stuck for more than one hour after the bus got a wheel in a ditch. We got stuck in Sion (east of Mumbai) because it ran out of fuel... that was fun.
Somehow, I managed to stay peaceful in all that, a big deal!

The preaches were of some inspiration, and it helped me realize a bit more what was happening inside. I took some decisions and I'm praying about them.

Notably: no double mindedness between "disciple" and "workaholic IT pro" and prayer to be God-reliant.

Since then, I've been trying harder to call my brothers, stay in touch with people, but its still a challenge.

Pictures of My Friend's Wedding

I was in Hyderabad for a friend's wedding. You can see the pictures here:
Suha's Wedding in Hyderabad

Birds Singing Nice Songs in my Electric Box

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