Saturday, May 12, 2018

Nal Sarovar, Gujarat, India

As part of a trip to Gujarat in December 2017, to attend a friend's wedding in Ahmedabad, some friends and I decided to see bits of the rest of the state. If you live in Bangalore, travelling to Gujarat just for an occasion or just for the tourism is probably not worth it.

This is part 1 of n, where n TBD.

We were at Nal Sarovar early in the morning and very few people were around at the time. We didn't see any flamingoes either. That is not a comprehensive list of what we didn't see.

Birds, Except Seagulls

Let's get this out of the way first.

Naalsarovar has a lot of birds. You'd think that's expected of a place which has Bird Sanctuary at the end of it's name but how many tigers do you reckon people see at Jim Corbett? How many chips do you get from your packet of? How much ganja does Kunal have? Is Eden a hazard? Does Danny drink water? Whom does Kyle walk? Will Ashley still be young at 60? What did Luke do to make Ryan cross? What did Danny rise from? Have I made my point yet?

In spite of that, wildlife sanctuaries are like going to a museum. Unless you're really into it, you'll feel a moment of excitement when your eyes fall upon something which looks interesting, you'll pay some attention to some of the details, miss out most of them because neither you nor your companions know anything about it, maybe take a picture, linger for a few seconds before you move away ( or the animal / museum display moves away and you don't give chase; all motion is relative so it doesn't matter, ) and then forget whatever little you picked up.

Also, if it wasn't challenging enough taking pictures of birds, try taking them from a moving boat.

Bird 1
 If we are pushing ahead with GMOs, may I suggest modifying all animals so that their cry is the same as their name?
It will save us the embarrassment of asking questions like whether anybody knows how to tell a stork from a crane.

Bird 2
A mermaid had sex with a sparrow.
A similar plotline has been reviewed by the NYT, so please contain your disdain for that idea.

Bird 3
Is that a mynah? Why is it even there?
A mynah at a bird sanctuary is like Mallika Sherawat at Cannes.
We've seen enough back home, and there's much better to see here.

Bird 4
Birds would do really well at that Russian folk dance where you crouch and
kick your legs out one by one while pulling off a cummerbund and a turban.

Birds 5 - 18 ( L to R )
This bird, the black dog, runs on the water when taking off.
That's one more trick than Jesus could do. Time to switch?
Dog and god have the same letters also so should be easy to change prayer lyrics.
Except it'd be Black God and I can imagine some folk having a problem with that.

Bird 19
Might be the same bird as 41.

Bird 20
Could be a stork or a crane.
Or some third thing.
No idea.

Bird 21
Have you played that game where you drop a penny in the water and then try to find it?
And when you can't find it, you realise you can't give up and leave it down there because you need the money?

Birds 22 - 38 ( L to R )
I waded through a lot of mud to get closer to them but they kept flying off.
I haven't felt that way since campus placements.

Bird 39 - 40 ( L to R )
Somebody's sleeping on the couch tonight.

Bird 41
Might be the same bird as 19.
Or just have the same taste in make up.

Bird 42
Sea perchin'

Bird 43
Neither a crane, nor a stork.
Pelican ( I think. )


Seagulls abound. For every one of a different bird specie that you see, you will probably see twenty seagulls.

They also seem really hungry and stupid. Just a throwing gesture drives them into a frenzy, and they don't learn from past instances of no food materialising from those throwing gestures and continue getting excited every time you do it. What we were feeling was probably what Narendra Modi feels like all the time. We were even in Gujarat.

However, we didn't try to subtly get the seagulls to attack other birds or not even issue a condemnation when some seagullts raped the chicks of other birds so there is still some bit of the experience that the Naalsarovar seagulls can't provide.

We did eventually throw them some morsels but made them earn it with mid-air catches, swift changes in direction, or really high throws.

Some of us use this sort of opportunity more constructively.

All the, "Aao. Aao." reminded me of Amrish Puri from DDLJ.

SRK and friends pestering Amrish Puri to sell them beer.
SRK grabbing the carton.

I haven't thought about this movie since I was about 7 and only just realised the complexity of
Amrish Puri's character - an orthodox Indian man, the sorts who promises friends that their kids
will get married to each other and is willing to move countries when his daughter falls in love
with another boy ( Indian, not white even, ) but also lives in England and sells alcohol for a living.


SRK leaning outside the door, steely-eyed, hand stretched.
Kajol getting distracted and stopping to grab a samosa.

Things Which Aren't Birds, Except The Boatboy 

There is an island that your boatman will probably take you to where they serve some great food.
It's expensive but it's on an island. Think of it as a rustic pool party, if that helps.
And if you're there on a winter morning, you'll probably be cold and some hot food will help.

The travails of a travelling DP-seeker.

The DP.

A cubist interpretation of a tube man.

If you had to choose, piss in the pool or dung in the mud?
I'd choose dung in the mud.
Dung in the mud or Arnab Goswami in a media house?
Dung in the mud again.

The local prison for misbehaving animals.
The convicts are, quite literally, jail birds.

The Boatboy

As you might be able to tell, this is Mohsin.

He rowed the four of us around, pointed out various birds, told us about this and that, and negotiated an add-on package to show us a couple of more spots beyond the initially agreed deal.

He also seemed enthusiastic about photographs so I sent him some on WhatsApp. He then video called me on New Year's which is when I blocked him. At what point is a child with small town moorings old enough to either be called a creep or understand that us city types' friendliness is only a pretense to get discounts? If you happen to see him on your trip, please explain this to him. He may be old enough by then. Note that he is comfortable in Gujarati, and can manage Hindi.

Also, regarding the boating itself, there is no clear list of the duration, places, etc. for the amount you're handing over so this up to your bargaining skills.

Have you ever looked at something and wondered how many different butts that must have touched?
Harvey Weinstein, for instance.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Faking it as a Data Scientist

In case this doesn't load well on phones, or if you generally prefer reading from source, here you go.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Agumbe, Karnataka, India - 2

There is a Part 1. Hence the 2 in the title.


The remains of this fort are wrapped around a hill which makes for a nice, short trek up to the temple at the peak. There are a couple of spots midway where it looks like the trail ends but it doesn't. Don't let your unfit or pansy friends convince you otherwise.

I think there were five doorways on the way.
When you cross the third one, you can send this to the others who didn't make it.
Expect to receive of a few of these in return.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Agumbe, Karnataka, India - 1

Part 2 covers the Kavaledurga fort and a detour to Kaup Beach.

Agumbe, also known as the Cherrapunji of the South, is a small village about 3 hours in a bus from Mangalore. It's the sort of place where you could sit by yourself at a town square not doing anything, waiting for someone to join you, or plotting world destruction when suddenly, if the nickname is justified, it rains 15 cms and you catch a cold and are in bed for two weeks.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Synopsis: Zero One Two

Peter Spiel wanted to put out a list of bullet points ( list 1 ). Publishing it as it is would have come across as tacky so he decided to mix list 1 with another list of bullet points ( list 2 ) and make it look like he was publishing list 2. He then stretched and contorted the merged list into slightly rambling sentences to make it harder to spot list 1. For the final step in this plan, he decided to deliver these sentences as part of a series of guest lectures, and fortunately found an impressionable, young student, Blab Masters, who wrote it out into a 150 page book. List details below.

The publication might be sponsored by Microsoft which would explain the forced SmartArt product placement.

Did you know?

The title represents the number of lists that should have existed, the number that the author wanted to bring to existence, and the number that were finally created. Much like start ups.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Synopsis: How to Add as a Friend or Become an Influencer

Part 1:

One of the biggest problems straight men face is crossing the threshold to add a woman as a friend on Facebook. This book offers all the tips needed to accomplish this - be nice, be charming, don't be a creep, don't send dick pictures, don't be in it just for sex, etc. Basically the reader needs to not be the person he is and be a different person altogether. That's how most straight men - women friendships are formed.

For any other ( gender, orientation ) - ( gender, orientation ) situation, just go ahead and click on that add as friend button.

Part 2:

If you ignore the details, all social networks are just better connected versions of a human centipede. LinkedIn rewards people with tasty diarrhea on their network with the title of Influencer.

To become one, you need to cleverly copy bits from The Economist, Bloomsberg, etc. and put them together to make it sound like an original piece. You must have at least one piece on how AI is going to affect something, doesn't matter what it is or whether you know anything about AI. You need to go and comment on the pieces published by your peers because you need them to come back and comment on yours. A nice touch to add is to have a picture of you wearing crisp formals and smiling confidently at the camera as your profile picture.

Meanwhile, nobody else has logged in to LinkedIn in months.

Inspired by: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Kochi, Kerala, India

I was in Kochi some months back to attend another friend's wedding. We went through the food, pretended we were part of another group which, unlike us, had got a gift for the couple, got our picture clicked onstage with that group, and then headed out.

It was between swallowing pride and letting it say alchol or typing out prohibited in Malayalam again.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Coorg, Karnataka, India - 2

Continued from part 1. Part 3 after this.


On day 2, we set out for Tadiyandmol early in the morning. The trek itself was going to last till the afternoon after which the plan was to visit Nalknad Palace, a small palace near the starting point of the trek. I say small because it is probably rude to say that I've seen bigger houses. It is, however, a quaint bit of work and fun to peek in and around for a few minutes. Photography was prohibited in there.

Going up and coming down is about 15 kms so refuse to share your water with anyone else who asks for it. They should have gotten their own. Don't mistake this as me goading you to resort to random meanness. You will meet many such people. That and people wearing footwear extremely ill-suited to treks.

Accuse the more persistent / beseeeching ones of belonging to Tamil Nadu and start chanting Cauvery namdu very loudly. At that point a mob of locals should gather and start setting fires to tyres and you should be able to make good your escape in that melee.

From the scrotum texture rejects file.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fantasy Football - 9: Three at the Back vs. Value for Money

( Code hosted on the Github repo)

There has been a lot of talk about defenders being better value for money than midfielders and forwards. I'd written a post about the optimal team configuration a long time ago and since it was only one season of data, I thought I'd just check it again.

Assumptions 1:
  • I removed Chelsea and Leicester from 15/16 because of how unlikely both their performances were. Sure, there are swings in the table but those two teams in that season was a little too much. I feel the results are more representative without them.
  • Points per match is probably a better metric than total points but the historic data doesn't have a mention of matches started so we'll have to make do with total points. To minimise the effect, I have taken players that played at least 1710 minutes (19 matches of 90 minutes) and hope that the patterns observed also extend to all the players put together.
  • The data exposed is only for players active in the current season. This means that players who played in earlier seasons but have since left the EPL are not considered in the analysis for their
  • respective seasons.
  • Players get their positions changed over seasons. This is too small in number to worry about.

Value for money by position