Monday, January 28, 2008

Too Late...

Sometimes you just can't help but blame your fate. It is one of those days. Ba went to meet Bapuji to God's home last night... I got late by just one week to see her. Sometimes some things in life just don't make sense.

May she be more peaceful, happy and healthy where she is now. Om shanti.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Can your camera find you?

That's a good one to think about...

Just read this article today on Yahoo! and am wondering whether it is a good idea to put your address label on the camera? Or even better, would you go to such limits to find an owner of a camera if you had found one? Do read the article... it's a fun read! :)

Source: Photo clues lead to camera's owner

By BRIAN BERGSTEIN, AP Technology Writer Fri Jan 25, 5:46 PM ET

At dusk on New Year's Eve, Erika Gunderson got into a taxi in New York City and entered a digital-age mystery.

Sitting on the back seat was a nice Canon digital camera. Gunderson asked the driver which previous passenger might have left it, but the cabbie didn't seem to care. So Gunderson brought it home and showed it to her fiance, Brian Ascher. They decided that the only right thing to do was to find the owner.

But how? The only clues were the pictures on the camera: typical tourist snapshots, complete with a visit to the Statue of Liberty. How could they find a stranger among the huddled masses?

Gunderson is busy in finance for Bear Stearns Cos., so the detective quest fell to Ascher, a 26-year-old law student at New York University. He was on winter break and eager to put off writing a paper about climate change treaties.

He checked whether anyone had reported a matching missing camera to the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission. No dice. He placed ads in lost-and-found sections of Craigslist but got just one response - from a couple in Brazil who had lost a camera in a cab on Oct. 12, not Dec. 31.

"I guess they thought their camera had been riding around in a taxi for two months," Ascher recalls now, chuckling at the notion that such a thing would be possible in New York.

The 350 pictures and two videos on the camera showed several adults, an older woman and three children. Half put them at New York sites like the Empire State Building. The other half had the group enjoying warm weather and frolicking at kid-friendly theme parks.

Ascher easily pinpointed Florida. The group had stood in front of a sign indicating Clearwater, Fla., and posed at Bob Heilman's Beachcomber Restaurant there.

They also took a pirate-themed boat ride where the kids got mustaches painted on their faces. Ascher zoomed in on the group to see name tags on their shirts. He spotted an Alan, an Eileen, a male Noel and a female Noelle, plus a Ciarnan. Under their names was written "IRE."

When Ascher checked the videos, he saw nothing telling, just the children dancing and swimming. But in the background, he heard Irish accents.

OK, Ascher figured, the camera's owner is from Ireland.

Ascher called Canon's Ireland division to see if anyone had registered the $500 camera's serial number. No such luck. He posted ads on Irish Web sites. Nothing.

He checked the date stamp on the photos from Bob Heilman's and called to inquire whether anyone remembered serving a big Irish group that day. Without the diners' last names, there was no way to check. It's a nice thing you're trying, the manager told Ascher, but you probably just found yourself a new camera.

Enter some fresh eyes. Ascher's mother, Nancy, and sister, Emily Rann, scoured the pictures for clues he might have missed. Nancy was particularly confident, having reunited people with their lost belongings before. She once found a California woman's wallet in a cab in Florence, Italy, and spent all day on her trail before making a handover at an American Express office.

"I thought, with all this data in the camera, there's no way we're not going to get it back to them," Nancy Ascher says now. "I was hoping it wasn't going to take a trip to Ireland, flashing their pictures everywhere."

Ascher's mother and his sister noticed that one of the pictures showed a doorman helping someone into a New York taxi. Zooming tight on the doorman's uniform, they made out the logo of the Radisson Hotel.

After several phone calls and a visit to the hotel to show the pictures around, Nancy Ascher persuaded an employee to search the Radisson's guest records by first name and country of residence. Indeed, a Noel from Ireland had stayed there on the date stamped on the photo. Nancy Ascher charmed the hotel employee into sharing the guest's e-mail address.


Except that when Noel responded to Brian Ascher, he said he hadn't lost a camera.

By now, school was resuming, and Ascher was prepared to give the camera to his mom so she could take over. She had figured out the name of the Florida pirate-boat cruise and was trying to reach its operator.

But first Ascher took a final look at the photographs.

He pored over some from Dec. 30 that didn't include the children. The photos showed signs for bars in Manhattan's East Village: The Thirsty Scholar, Telephone Bar, Burp Castle. There also were multiple interior shots of a tavern, but they didn't seem to fit with what Ascher knew of those other three bars.

Then he stopped on another picture, showing two people outside an apartment building. Seemingly accidentally included in the picture was something Ascher had missed the first time: an awning in the background that read "Standings." Aha! Standings is a bar next to Burp Castle. Ascher checked its Web site, and the interior matched the pictures on the camera.

Ascher found Standings' owner, who reached the bartender who had worked Dec. 30. Yes, he recalled an Irish group. Especially because one of the women was a big tipper and said she worked at another New York City bar, Playwrights. The Standings bartender called Playwrights to ask which employees had been in his bar.

Ascher soon got an e-mail from a woman named Sarah Casey, whose sister Jeanette works at Playwrights. Suddenly everything Ascher had seen on the camera came to life.

The Caseys recently had hosted relatives and friends from Ireland. The group included their friend Alan Murphy, who had journeyed to Florida with family before heading to New York, where the clan stayed at the Radisson. (Their Noel was not the Noel whom Ascher e-mailed.) Murphy ended the trip kicking himself for leaving his camera in a cab in the twilight on New Year's Eve.

Sarah Casey agreed to send it to him. It didn't go to Ireland but to Sydney, Australia, where Murphy lives now.

Murphy, an insurance underwriter, had been devastated to lose the pictures from a trip he had planned for years. It was Jan. 10 - his 34th birthday - when he heard he would be getting the photos back. "I was over the moon," he says now. "Best present ever."

"I owe you one," he wrote to Ascher. "It's good to know there are some honest people left in the world."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Numbers and Angles

Received this in a forwarded email today, thought it was very interesting!

Have you ever thought why........ 1 means "one", and 2 means "two"?

The roman numerals are easy to understand but what was the logic behind the phonecian numbers?

It's all about angles!

It's the number of angles.

If one writes the numbers down (see below) on a piece of paper in their older forms, one quickly sees why.

The angles are marked with "o"s.

No 1 has one angle.
No 2 has two angles.
No 3 has three angles.

and "O" has no angles.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tabla Flavours Café

So last night I got to eat at this place. First of all, I didn't know where it was located so we had to roam around the shopping plaza to find the place. Eventually, we ended up finding it hidden behind other shops in the Charter Square Shopping Center.

I found out at the end of my dinner that they call themselves a cafe. Since I didn't know about that I had expected a little more. And then I thought since the place was in Foster City, it would have it's signature charm, etc. but sadly enough I was when I entered the place.

I had seen the menu outside so I was looking forward to find out what the South Indian food tasted like. The service was below average... the main waiter looked like he was having a bad day and didn't smile all throughout the ~45 minutes we spent there. We had just been given the seats and he walks over and asks us whether we already ordered. I felt like giving him don't-you-have-any-common-sense look but refrained. We told him we hadn't ordered so he threw the menus at us, literally. We ordered all the things we wanted but he forgot to write down the last item that I had ordered, which I realized half way through my meal because it never did come. Just to double check, I asked him whether I had actually ordered it, he said yes and that he remembered I ordered it, but then he came back from kitchen saying I hadn't ordered.

The food took quite a while to come, specially the thaali. So two of us who didn't order thaali got the meals quicker and rest of the two were waiting till the first two were done with their meal. So at any given time, two people were sitting at the table, just waiting - either for food or for others to finish their meals. Quite ridiculous if you ask me.

The food was alright but quite spicy, which I don't mind but it was mainly the service that disappointed me a lot. If you're craving for spicy Indian food, this is the place to go, but be prepared to face the waiters who seem like they haven't been fed any food for days and are mad at you for just being there.

Their menu mainly has the basic South Indian items. It also has quite a few non-veg items made from halaal meat.

We requested the grumpy waiter to make sure our food was vegetarian and he looked annoyed, we had to soften him up saying we just wanted to make sure for it. He didn't seem to like it.

They have the veg thaali listed with $7.99 but we were charged $8.29 + tax and similary the mysore masala dosa we ordered was actually for $5.99 but we paid $6.29 + tax. We didn't wait to deal with the waiter any longer so we just kept mum and paid and left the place.

They also have a few other locations in the bay area, I wonder whether they are the same as this one. Would I go to the place again? I seriously doubt it.

My rating for Tabla Flavours: 1/5 (that's for the food).

Name: Tabla Flavours Café
Type: South Indian/Pakistani
Average Price: $8-$10/person (Dinner)
Address: 1088 Shell Blvd, Ste C, Foster City, CA 94404
Phone: (650) 638-1555

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Do you sometimes wish you had an access to the internet or yellow pages or GPS system when you are traveling? Well, I was in the same situation last month when SB told me about 1-800-GOOG-411. Ever since then, I have been using it like crazy and am loving it! Their voice recognition program is sophisticated and quite well trained. And best of all, it's FREE!!!

So next time you're searching for a local business or phone number, pick up the nearest phone and give it a try. Call 1-800-GOOG-411.

PS. If you call from your cell phone, you do actually using your minutes. :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

क्षमा वीरस्य भूषणम्

Ever since the new years, I have been thinking about this one. Why is it hard for us to forgive others? I thought I knew the answer but then I got confused.

Over the years, I have realized that some people have ego issues and they can not forgive people or forget things ever and keep suffering and keep making others suffer because of something that happened long time ago. It is like their ego feeds upon their anger and it just keeps growing bigger and bigger like a huge balloon like rock and all the positive things keep getting buried under it with time.

Then come the expectations. Why do people expect? Specially from others for whom they do nothing? I didn't understand and never have gotten an answer for it but I haven't given up yet.

What I do understand is that it's easier to forgive and forget and move on with life than to hold on to negative thinking about others. Specially since this precious life is very short one and it's just too valuable to waste a moment of it on anything so insignificant.

Self-respect is not something to be mixed up with the ego that I talked about earlier.

I have learned that people who try to break existing relations to make new ones are just jealous of good bonds/relations that other people share. They feel left out and thus try to break relations. And I have learned that it is very easy to break a relation than to make-up a broken one.

So as this new year starts I would like to share this wonderful thought that I recently got to hear from Papu. And I think it's totally brilliant. I don't know about who wrote it or the origin of it.

क्षमा वीरस्य भूषणम्kshamaa veerasya bhooshaNam

Meaning "Forgiveness adorns the courageous."

The uphill journey towards forgiveness is difficult but rewarding, for ourselves, for our peace of mind. I hope I can keep traveling upwards...