Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The other face of flipkart

When one thinks of Flipkart one imagines a sales company. Nothing could be farther from the essence of the company. A search on github reveals that flipkart has had several accounts over time. From incubation to production accounts.

The one I believe to be the official channel has several repos of interest. A linux fork used by flipkart. Several database adapters and parsers. APIs in multiple languages.

They have stuck to the heavyweights like C,C++ and Java. Some occasional repositories do have scala,pascal and python too. This surprised me. I had assumed flipkart to be a completely e-commerce website and this was not foreseen by me. The handle has 21 people as of writing this article. However I could not find the Bansals within them. They might have a username different from their actual name. This discovery got me digging.

The repositories are not starred a lot but are from repositories which are forked plenty. The code I went through was well written with the future in mind. What I can conclude is that there are a lot of programmers in flipkart who are better than me. Some of the algorithm implementations amaze me with their cleanliness and efficiency.

Surprisingly a lot of the code is open source. This is a company which has harnessed the power of open source. with a thousand developers they can be sure that their code will be robust.

With the mindset that flipkart is a tech based company, I began digging aroud in the flipkart.com homepage source code. The javascript console offered something interesting.
It was a recruitment advertisement. Knowing that the Bansals worked at amazon before flipkart, i went ahead and looked into amazon's source code. Nothing there. Then the flipkart recruitment is an original thing.

This puts me back to the million sale. From a tech background the sale was a nightmare. With everyone in India clambering to buy stuff, keeping proper stock accounts and proper chronological records of transactions must have been a horrible thing.

With the discovery of flipkart as a tech company, I finally have hope. If I can be a good enough programmer, I might end up with an empire as big as flipkart.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The unseasonal rain

The tears of a titan in eden,
Unseasonal like a fickle storm.
When all are wrapped in putrescence,
Comes the unblessed pelting.

Those drowned in fear lift their head,
those near end have hope again,
the titan cries healing tears
when none expect.

This rain so clear washes away,
the dreary dreaded despair,
Those clouds rumbling in the sky,
fill me with will again.

I thank the blessed titan,
giving me fuel in a drought,
Hope my efforts will bear fruit.
That some day like this unseasonal rain,
I will do something good.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A fall

The season of fall is hither,
Leaves parted from eternal matrimony,
A trivial affair
the wind sweeps them away and the night ends in tragedy.

Their true love excised,
colour leaves their being fading from
lively green to a dead yellow.

In their mourning they move in droves,
gathering on the sad old earth to create
dunes of death.

The animals frolic in their demise and turn rue to glee,
Each stomp entombing the widower in the earth,
witnessed by the peerless wind so treacherous.

Come morn the men sweep away
the deluge of mirthless remains.
Relics of a love lost ,amour turned sour.
This is the season of fall.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The sight of a morning class

Gravel shifting underfoot.It sounds like a heavy boot. A man moves.
Time ticking away and so he has a watch.A watch with hands.
Knuckles cracking, i can hear all ten. He has been doing this for a long time.
A zipper being pulled. There is a bag as I feel hot.
The rummaging within a bag, items sifting and obeying Murphy's laws.

A page torn asunder.Two twangs, its a pinned notebook.
The click of a pen.Sounds like 5 rupees.
The sound of scratching against paper. So it is a mechanical pencil after all.
The boots knock about always getting closer.

The squeak of a turning door. The loud exclamation of it meeting the frame with violent passion. The man is new here. I can smell perfume. Either a woman or a heavily ignorant man.A heavy body moves into position behind me.It is a woman after all. I can hear the necklace stones knocking about in merry mood. The strong odour overcomes me and for a while I cannot see anything else.

Restlessness settles over her. The constant pendulation of her foot on the floor. The pained creaking of the ceiling fan. How did I miss the click of the switch? Pad foot has entered. He wears shoes of cloth and so I can never hear him enter or move about.

Lungs fill with poisoned air behind me. What is this girl nervous about? "What is wrong?" I ask. "I did not study for the test." Understandable. That ought to make anyone nervous. "Is it time for the lecture to start yet?" "Wait... almost. About 10 minutes left". Time flies quickly when I see the world. The silent hum of an electric motor tugging along a person of interest. It seems my friend Varun has arrived. The final beep-beep of the machine indicating it has been switched off tells me he is on his feet. The familiar click clack of his crutch and the deep baritone greets me. "Morning to you too!"

The sounds of horsing around echo down the corridor and it seems that Gagan with his band of merry toppers has arrived. "I hope I sit next to Shivam" The girl is already looking for backup. It is uncanny how the fair sex outsmarts international Intelligence Agencies in matters of contingency planning. There is the inimitable beep of Jordan's phone. I believe it is custom made. It must be Arjoonn asking about the location of the class. How does that man always forget where the first class is? Every day of every semester he has called up someone or the other and queried the whereabouts of the class.

The low rumble of about 20 feet slowly shuffling in from the other door of the room is recognized as the set of all resedence students. Those who live closest are always the last to arrive in my experience. The distant peal of the metallic bar ,hung outside the Principal's office , being struck with zeal by the peon notifies everyone that the professor's arrival is imminent. They settle like chalk in still water.

Everyone has their own place. Never have they changed in the past two years. Dahuja and party sit to the right of the room. Shivam is the perpetual second bencher. Ranging fro the best to the worst class he never fails to take the second bench. "Just right" he says. Ishan sits dependent on time to examinations. Arjoonn has been placed on the last bench by the Gods. He does not move. Sachin, Tarun and the rest of the dark horses sit to the left of the class.

The professor arrives and a hush falls on the class. The arrival is almost comlete. 10 minutes into the lecture a few of the daredevils arrive. Essentially they had no hand in it. It was the Metro which ran late. Everyday.

And with this the complete class has assembled in the room to begin the first lecture of the day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Ello Logo

Ello is the new thing. I came accross this wonderful little social networking site a few months back and cannot let go. It is a beautiful and elegant world. At first it was a little confusing to my mind which was completely fused with facebook. Slowly I began to appreciate the beauty in the simplicity. The ello maifest states clearly that it will not follow in the footsteps of marketing giants like Google and Facebook.

Once you realize that this is an ecosystem without advertisements and all the other muck you begin to love it. But then you start making friends on this network and you discover people who never cease to amaze.
One of the many wonderfull things I found on ello are high quality GIFs.

After a long and harrowing day all I need to do is have a look at ello/noise.
Even the noise is beautiful. No longer do I have to search for amazingly beautiful music. The artists are on ello.

An amazing piece of work I found were these.

There are also mathematicians who are also artists. This leads to amazingly beautiful mathematics. In the wonderful world of recurrent geometric patterns ello has some of the most wonderful artworks.

To sum up Ello is simply better. It does not insult your intelligence. It does not feed thou ads.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The WMD called attendance

The popular picture is that one does not need to attend classes once in college. When we do start attending it comes as a complete surprise Over the last three years I have learnt that attending classes is indeed essential. The material is available in plenty thanks to the time we live in. Print and electronic media make it trivial to gain access to any material given some time or money.

Then what is it that we come to college for? What is it that people clamour over colleges for? Most definitely it is not the material taught. Also it is not the books used. Word of mouth often leads to the useage of the same books throughout colleges. What is it then?

I believe that it is the people in college that we fight tooth and nail for. It is the type of people who are allowed to study in a particular college and the type of people who are allowed to teach in a particular college that make a college stand apart from the others. Of course a lot of colleges fall in the 'OK' category. That is simply due to the fact that a lot of people fall into the 'OK' category. It follows from the gaussian distribition of things which says that a majority of any data sample usually falls in the middle forming a graph which looks like a bell.

Now when you realize this it is inevitable that your view of college changes. You suddenly start to see the professors  and colleagues as resources. They are there to provide for you. And you are there to provide for them. With colleagues you enter into flame wars where you defend your ideas to the last breath and with the professors you suck away at the firehose of information they provide. What is amazing is that you yourself are a part of this ecosystem for other people. College is a place to grow. Where comfort is your worst enemy. Where you find what is it that you would like to do with your life.

In such a case a weapon of mass destruction comes along. Attendance in college is something completely misinterpreted by the masses. It is your choice to attend college. You have chosen to attend. Hence if you miss out it can be due to two reasons. The first and more popular one is that you do not realize the fact that attendance is a choice you made when you enrolled in college. You could have gained the knowledge simply by reading books. It is college you wanted to attend.
The second one is a deeper one and I believe a lot of professors fail to see if a student is not attending due to this reason. You see I came to college to learn from the best. I did not have the one thing that professors have, which is experience.

I myself do not attend a lot of classes. This is a choice. I have had the good fortune of being taught by people like Archana Ma'am, Rakhi Ma'am, Cherian Sir, Prashanto Sir and many more. What they left me with was a thirst for more. Now when I encountered professors who choked the flow of knowledge due to politics or other reasons I stopped attending their classes.
It pained me to hear them say "If you want attendance do this and do that". What they do not understand is that everything happens for a reason. There is a reason students do not attend their classes. Most of the time the reason is popularism and that cannot be cured in my opinion. Yet the few students who do not attend class due to the reason that class offers nothing new. Nothing which cannot be found on the internet or in the text.

I still yearn for the professor who teaches nothing other than what we cannot find on our own. The professor who knows their subject so well that they eat dinner thinking about it. The professor who can recognize that a student is in need of direction. It feels horrible when professors have to use attendance to get people to attend their lectures and yet feel no remorse for it.

This culture completely destroys respect for the lecturer. I myself have had ocassions when reading online became a more viable option than listening to the professor. That is what I did for a lot of time. I still do it sometimes. What I have started doing now is what I call the backbench method. I sit on the last bench and read up on the subject. The class may be on any subject but I only listen to the professor if I feel that they are giving me something I will not recieve from the internet. It is a sad state of affairs where the student has to stumble on the same stones as the professor.

Friday, March 6, 2015

To Judge or Not?

How do i know when to judge? Can I even judge people? Do I have the right to judge people based on this inferior life of mine? What do I do when I feel people are judging someone they have no right to judge? I confess. I am upset. Last evening we had a discussion in our PG. It was based on Subhash Chandra Bose. Aditya Guha says that attacking Imphal was a stupid thing for Bose to do. If the intent was to raise morale then it was a "Commendable effort" but if the aim was to take back India from the british then the move was a stupid one. He should have waited as England was stretched thin at the time and would have withdrawn from India on their own.
I cannot see his view. During that time how does one know what Subhash and his army had to go through?How can I judge someone so obviously superior than me? I have never been to war. I have never even given thought to the freedom fighters. This discussion left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. We who are living in a free India. We who have never even faced a tenth of the pain those people had to face. How can we so blatantly pass judgements on those men? How can we deem ourselves worthy enough to declare their actions stupid. To have the audacity to say that the plan of attacking Imphal was not the best one. Bose was more experienced than any of us in that room; more intelligent than any of us might I add. To say that given the circumstances Bose should have waited. I suddenly feel wrong. I feel people like Aditya have no right to live in this free India. To belittle the work of men like Bose. To say that the work they did was "insignificant" towards the freeing of this land. Even if Bose knew he would fail, it was a volunteer army. The people came together and decided that they would fight for the country. The people decided to die if needed. Who is Aditya to say that they died for nothing. How can one judge so easily? I would be shaken for weeks after saying something like that.
Like the man he is, Tuneer picked apart Aditya's logic like an anthill takes apart a dead insect.The only thing he asked was assuming that attacking Imphal was not the best thing to do, give one course of action which was. All Aditya could say was that Bose should have joined Gandhi. That is not an option. Gandhi is a first in history. It is easy to say in hindsight that what Gandhi did bore fruit. That was a first in history, which is why Gandhi is famous. There was absolutely nothing to prove Gandhi would win that struggle against the British. However winning back a country via war was backed by a thousand examples in history.Be it Scotland or America.I would say Bose had every right to think of war as the only tool to win India back. Aditya failed to understand that Gandhi was not an option. When he did accept that Gandhi was not an option, he said that Bose should have raised an army of "spies or something like that in India" to fight the British. Of course. Like creating a spy or a soldier is as easy as it seems in Age of empires. They are people. The people chose to fight with Bose. Bose did not convert any Gandhi followers as far as I know. He did not force enlistment. All he did was ask people to give their life for the country and promised freedom in return. Even a douche like me can see the logic. Convince enough people in India to become soldiers and you could flush the British simply with the manpower.But people must choose and you do not exactly go about doing campaigns to recruit spies. I am not even sure how spies are recruited. It might be safe to think that spies are only there for information. Without an acting army the spies have no use. Gandhi certaily could not use spies. Also I thin that an army always does have spies. If I am not wrong Bose had a spy network.
The problem I face is such. The British were winning the world war. India wanted freedom. Bose had an army but knew it would not be sufficient to entirely route the British.(Another thing I assume is that Bose was smarter than me and so could predict simple things.)The problem is: if you know you are up against a stronger opponent and you know that you will lose the fight, do you still fight? I would fight, for as long as I fight, there is a chance I might win, but if I do not fight there is no such chance. What Aditya says is that Bose should not have fought and hsould have instead waited it out. I cannot wrap my head around that. How do you convince an army, who have all come to fight for India, that we just have to wait and India will gain independence. Whos to say that it was Bose who got us our freedom and not Gandhi. Gandhi was simply there when it happened. That does not mean that the ones who died fighting did nothing significant. I in fact hold that a sacrifice is weighed by how much you lose. Getting beat up is less sacrifice any day than torture which is still far less than death.

Death is the ultimate sacrifice.In death one chooses to leave all behind. To say that one is willing to give up family, friends posessions and all memory of them. To give up the potential life one is promised. To give up all the things one could do. To die for a cause is what marks the greatest men. To die for a cause is a statement that you believed in the importance of that cause more than anything else. That you valued that one thing above everything else you posessed. That you were willing to leave behind everything else for that one ideal. To even leave the pleasure of seeing the sacrifice coming to fruit. All for something one believes in. To die for a cause is the ultimate sacrifice. Not I, nor anyone alive can judge this act. It is above us living people because none of us have sacrificed anything which even compares with the act of death.
I left the room feeling angry. How did people like Aditya come to be. They live in a free country, with parents who provide everything. They study the subject they love. They are free to do what they want within the law. If they do not like the law they are free to file a complaint which will be listened to. They are from a family which is able to support them beyond the basic food,shelter cloth requirement. Even to a level of educated life. They have read about the freedom struggle. They have learnt names of the major figures. How can such people, those who sit on the high chairs of society say such things. How can they forget that every act of free will that they do was bought and paid for in blood, pain and life. That people died so that we could do what we want. For an uneducated man to say such things is bearable because he does not appreciate the subtle freedoms that have been won for us. But for a man pursuing a B.Sc. from a college like St. Stephen's in the capital of the nation. I cannot stand that. The very act of education is a statement of freedom. To be able to learn anything one wants is what was paid for by people like Bose.
Sure Gandhi and the others were important. They were there on the forefront. So was the cobbler who was beaten to death for not polishing British shoes. So was the waiter refusing to serve the British. The all were significant. They all paid for my free life today.I stand in no place to judge them. To judge is a big task. While doing it you say that you understand what the person went through. You say that from experience. Nothing else. Only when you have experienced what the other person has. Ony then can you judge him. That is why sometimes they have a jury. One man is not enough. Then how dare Aditya say that what Bose did was stupid. He has no right.
According to him "Gandhi was a shrewd man who knew politics", "the Chanakya of his time" and "Nehru was smart". I cannot judge any of them but none of them died for freedom. They were willing enough I am sure. Yet they did not. That is the difference between Bose and the others. He died. And as to Gandhi being a shrewed politician, he was nowhere close to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel if what I have read is all that there is to it. The History people would know better. We who live in free India can only speculate on what the people of Gandhi's time did. We cannot know the complete circumstances and most certainly have no right to judge those men and women who died. Certainly not with our painless lives.