Friday, August 28, 2009

150 years of oil industry

Pic: Drake's Well & Edwin Drake

The Date: 27th August, 1859
The Place: Titusville, Pennysylvania, USA
The Man: Edwin Drake
The Event: Oil struck at a depth of 69 feet. The first ever producing oil well is drilled leading to the birth of the oil industry.
This has to be one on the most impotant discoveries in the history of mankind. Without this natural energy resource, the entire industrial revolution and the technological advancement of the past one and a half centuries would not have taken place. Just imagine a world without oil. We would probably still have been living in the middle ages. The discovery of underground crude oil reserves would surely rank alongside mankind's greatest discoveries, like fire, agriculture, the wheel, written language etc. And over the last 150 years it has been the one industry with the maximum impact on the geopolitics and the global economy.
As the indutry celebrates 150 years of its existence, I salute the man who made it all possible. Col. Edwin Drake, hats off to you sir. After all that single discovery of you has had a very powerful impact on what I am today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Ashes

The most important cricketing contest of 2009 is over. We had the T20 World Cup & Champions Trophy will be underway soon. But the Ashes was the most eagerly awaited contest of them all. The end result: England beat Australia 2-1 to retain the Ashes (somehow I tend to forget the 5-0 thrashing given by Australia in 2006-07).
"When we were bad we were awful, but when we were good we managed to be just good enough" These words by English captain Andrew Strauss gave the best possible description of the series. Unlike the 2005 series which was faught between two great teams full of great players this time it was played between two average teams. Players like Trescothick, Vaughan, Simon Jones, Hayden, Langer, Martyn, McGrath, Gilchrist & Warne were really missed this time around. Even Pietersen, Harmison & Flintoff were not as good as they were in 2005. But still this was a great series to watch for the neutral viewers like me (though with an English bias).
This series was full of some great moments. The Jimmy-Monty last wicket stand to save the Cardiff Test (which proved the most decisive in the end), Flintoff's destructive spell at Lords, Broad's spell in the first innings at Oval, the batting of Clarke, North & Strauss throughout the series, Phil Hughes announcing on Twitter that he had been dropped before the team was officially announced, the dramas of the keepers' injuries, Haddin getting replaced by Manou after the toss at Edgbaston (this after I had named him as my trump player in the Cricinfo fantasy league), Prior's injury delaying the toss at Leeds, calls to get Ramprakash/Trescothick to shore up the faltering England batting for the final test, end of Anderson's awesome non-duck record, Trott's century on debut, and the biggest of them all, Freddie's retirement. If there was a player whose sheer presence could lift up his team, it was Andrew Flintoff. Statistically he wouldnt qualify as amongst the all time greats but his impact was always huge. He was the only one to come close to being Botham's replacement. Now people are already asking if Broad is the next Freddie (no one is looking for the next Botham anymore), such has been Flintoff's impact.
And lastly, whether one likes him or not but one does feel a bit sad for Ricky Ponting. After all he is the first Australian captain in over 100 years to have lost two Ashes series in England. And he has had to carry physical scars of both defeats. A scar on the cheek causd by Harmison's bouncer on Day 1 at Lords in 2005 and the getting hit on the mouth by a Prior shot at the Oval in 2009.
And the English papers are celebrating in the manner in which only they can. (Check the pic below)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

India @ 62

Its Independence Day again. A well deserved holiday specially for poor souls like me who are in the six days a week grind. Its also the time for my annual review for all things Indian (My way to mark the occasion).
The last year had more than its fair share of tragedies. The Bihar floods, the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, the global economic recession, the attacks on Indians in Australia, worse Indians being attacked in India on the basis of region, IPL being staged outside the country for security reasons and now the swine flu. It was also the time for elections and the year of Slumdog Millionaire.
The biggest event was of course the general elections held in April & May. The UPA came back to power with a much stronger mandate with the Congress itself crossing the 200 mark. Lets hope that free of the crutches of whimsical allies the governmant would take some stronger decisions. The elections were completed fairly smoothly though now some people are raising questions regarding the reliability of the voting machines (a case of sour grapes because its mainly the people who lost this time). The elections caused IPL to be shifted to South Africa which reaffirmed the clout of BCCI in the cricketing world.
The 26/11 attacks on Mumbai have been well documented. It has caused increased security and safety concerns. India as a global destination has come under question. Sports teams have now started withdrawing from events in India. (Australian Davis Cup Squad & British Badminton contingent). The 26/11 attacks showed that nothing is really secure. The biggest poblem is can these attacks be prevented at all? Post 26/11 there were a few citzen rallies and that was it, now all those concerns and issues seem to have been put on the back burner.
Another regular news item was Indians getting beaten up in Australia. Media, politicians etc raised a big hue and cry over this. Australians were accused of being racist. But my question here is, dont we do the same? Indians are getting beaten up in parts of India on the basis of region. Caste related killings still take place. So why should be expect anything better from outsiders?
The global economic recession has had its impact everywhere. People are losing jobs, salaries are getting lower. For the Indian economy the bigger impact could be the possible failure of mosoons this year.
The hysteria caused by swine flu has already cost quite a bit. A big weekend has been spoiled because of extra safety precautions being taken. Many more people have died because of malaria and dengue n the same time period than swine flu but nothing much is being said about these.
In the sports world, its still cricket which rules. BCCI now gives grant to the football federation. Hockey world cup dates are changed to avoid clashing with IPL3. They also refuse to sign WADA clauses which other sportsersons have signed inspite of having some reservations. However some individual sportspersons are still around giving hope. Saina Nehwal's achievements have led to full page coverage of the World Badminton Championships. The big tennis stars (Paes, Bhupathi & Sania) are still here, with Somdev DevBurman & Yuki Bhambri also coming into the news. After a good performance in the Olympics our boxers are still making news with their peformances in the various events.
And lastly the entertainment world. We have some more Indian Academy Award Winners. Rehman is now a global icon. Nothing much to write about in the Indian movies front though. Television is getting weirder day by day. News channels have become mass hysteria generators and nothing else. And the rest of the prograaming has been taken over by reality shows which are getting more and more unreal day by day.
So this is how I have seen India turn 62. More negative than positives came out. But its human nature to always hope for better. Hopefully I will have better things to write when India turns 63.

P.S. My views on 2007 & 2008

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The ISM-IIT Debate

This post is for those related to Indian School of Mines only.
I have heard the issue of conversion of ISM to IIT since the day I joined ISM as a first year petroleum engineering student in 2001. Hardly a month passes before this issue gets raised in the online ISM comunities. And the issue gets discussed and debated, though nothing constructive has happened so far. Personally I am in favor of the conversion. For those who believe the same can sign an online petition.

I am not sure how this would work out, but at least its worth trying out

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Love Aaj Kal

Watched the latest flick "Love Aaj Kal" over the weekend. It was interesting, didnt get bored during the movie. But I liked it enough to blog about it. Here are some takeaways from the film (dont mind the MBA jargon :P)

1. The global economic recession is still very much there. Everyone's in on cost-cutting. How else do you explain the producer (Saif Ali Khan) playing two unrelated characters (Jai & the younger Veer)?
2. Jai gets his dream job. He goes to office daily, eats a burger, parties with friends, comes home and plays video games. Slowly he gets bored with this routine and becomes more and more depressed with his own lonely existence. He seems to be sick of his own life which everybody around him considers to be awesome. The character and the scene seemed to be an almost perfect image of my own current life. I go to office, do some work, come back home and play mafia wars on facebook, and lead a perfectly single and loner life.
3. I dont think I have ever waited for a character to just appear on-screen and wished she had more screen time. Harleen Kaur doesnt say much during the film but her very appearance simply lights up the screen like nothing else could have. No wonder it brought about such a change in Veer. And who cares if its a Brazilian (Giselle Monteiro) playing a Punjabi girl. I think I have fallen in love here :)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Friendship Day

Its been a growing trend every year to have days commemorating your relationships. Friendship Day is just another instance. The first Sunday of August is supposed to be the worldwide "friendship day". Now the question is do we really need a day specially earmarked for friends. Aren't they supposed to be the ones in your thoughts all the time.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. This has been an oft repeated quote. But yes it is true. You realise the true value of your friends when you are all alone and the world seems to have become a total disaster. So this friendship day I decided to write about such an instance in my life.
The year was 2002. The month of November. The 3rd semester engineering results were just out and well my name was missing from the list along with a couple of others. The reason was not too hard to fathom. I had got a supplementary in one of the papers. Well, these are times when you wish the earth to open up and swallow you or that the time just moved forward or backward so you could avoid this situation. That evening I simply walked back to my hostel room all alone, though there were words of sympathy from the rest of the people but I barely heard any of them. To be honest that was the most depressed I had ever felt in my four years of stay at ISM. The night passed somehow. The next day it did seem that some people were avoiding me. I realised later that I might have done the same, it was because nobody knew what exactly to say. As the day progressed a couple of seniors came to my room and asked me about participating in a quiz at the techfest in a neighbouring college. I wasn't really keen on going anywhere but that precise time another person came to me and almost literally forced me to go along. The teammates were also found and a couple of others also accompanied us to Sindri for the quiz. The result a second place in the science quiz. And when we went back to hostel late that night many of the batchmates came over to congratulate us. I dont think there could have been any better mood-lifter than this. And a more memorable day than this.
And all this could happen because of the friends who were there for me when I needed someone around me the most. I am not sure if I have ever thanked you guys for this. Ajit (Pahar), Gaurav (Dharmaa) & Salesh (Commander)... Thanks a lot for that day.