All posts by admin

iToontastics – Part 2

Here’s another feather in the iToontastics. Read and enjoy!

2

Every software professional has heard of this one! Certifications, and their merits. While it’s not correct to discard every certification as rubbish, it’s not right to gauge the caliber of each person on the amount of marks he scores in certification tests. This post is meant to take a dig at this particular mentality.

Movies Inspired from Books? Which is Better?

Recently I happened to watch two movies inspired from books I read. One was released a while ago (V for Vandetta – 2005) and one was more recent (Twilight – 2008).  Both these movies had much of an anticipation value for me. V for Vandetta, coming from the creators of the Matrix series held my interest, while I recently had finished reading ‘Twilight’. Though these books and movies had nothing in common, one feeling was common for me while watching these films.

Watching the books unfold on screen was a disappointing experience, yet again!

My advice to all book fans (which I myself never seem to obey) – Watch the movie first, read the book later.

When I saw V for Vandetta, it instantly struck me (which will not be visible to anyone who has not read the book) why its author Alan Moore refused to have anything to do with the movie (Alan Moore’s name does not appear in the credits, as mandated by him). Alan Moore is a staunch advocate of Anarchism. Alan Moore’s vision of Anarchy should not be confused with the lack of order. Rather, it’s a socity where the ordinary people are more important than their leaders, contarary to what’s happening everywhere around us.

V for Vandetta (the movie) does not even mention the word Anarchy, even once.

The movie omits many important threads in the book. It seems like the Wachowaskies borrowed the mask of the protagonist in the book, and re-wrote the whole story.

Twilight (and the Harry Potter series) seems like a very fast forwarded shoot of the respective books, with no thought of treating them differently in the movie medium.

One notable exception I found for this rule was the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) triology. Now, before I get flamed by the devout LOTR fans, let me explain.

First of all, let me confess that I watched the first two LOTR movies before I read the books. After I read the books, however, I thought the scriptwriters of the LOTR triology did a pretty decent job of trimming the story to make it interesting for the current generation (LOTR books are from the 50’s), and at the same time keeping the essence of the originals intact.

The LOTR scriptwriters completely did away with a few characters from the original, which provided enough room for the main characters to develop. They also made the story fast paced, against the very leisurely pace of the original. LOTR books have set a bar of fantasy for all fantasy fans, but the books are very hard to read. The movies have made them real accessible to everyone.

Banquets and Brickbats welcome. What do you think? Like to share your thoughts on this subject? Please comment.

Mugdha Celebrates her 3rd ‘Birthday’

Mugdha completed 3 months of her life on 13th Nov ’09. Dhruv’s creche had organized a bash to welcome her to our family, and celebrate her 3rd ‘birthday’.

DSCN1594

DSCN1604

Kids were in full enthusiasm, wearing hand made masks.

DSCN1612

DSCN1595

DSCN1598

Mugdha cut a big cake, the first one of her life. Look how she adores her big bro so much!!

DSCN1619

iToontastics – The Great Indian IT toons

Some years ago, India was known to the western world as a land of snake charmers and Taj Mahal. Today, thanks to the proliferation of Information Technology in western countries and India’s ability to supply skilled workforce at cheap rates has changed this view considerably.

Today, as hundreds of thousands of men and women toil in their air conditioned offices day and night for their western clients, it’s a great mash up of various Indian and world cultures, invariably culminating in funny situations.

Being a part of this IT culture since more than a decade, and keenly observing some of these situations, I could not help but put them on (digital) paper. These toons are meant to tickle the funny bones in every individual, IT or non-IT. Though the cartoons heavily focus on IT, everyone will find similarities to these situations around them.

This is the first cartoon in a series of iToontastics. I hope to bring many more of these in the near future. Keep enjoying and let me know your comments on this.

1

For those unaware of the great ‘Normalization’ process, here’s a lowdown

Every year during yearly appraisals, every IT employee is put into a certain category depending on his/her performance relative to his/her group. Obviously, if everyone in the group is brilliant, even the best employees lose out on credit. On the other hand, if the group consists of complete dorks, even the worst ones get ahead.

Depending on the ‘band’ the company decides whether you are their next ‘blue eyed boy/girl’ or the recipient on next pink slip!!

Moving to the Dark Side !

I recently upgraded by pen tablet. Earlier I had the amature version called Bamboo Fun from Wacom. I bought it sometime in April 2009. That time I just wanted to try it out and find out whether I was comfortable using a tablet for digital art creation.

Since then, the tablet simply blew my mind and I became  convert. During this time, I created a lot of original digital art. It was a relelation for me that I could really create something so interesting and so original.

Slowly I began thinking about buying a pro version of the tablet. Incidently, a friend approached me to ask my advice about which tablet to buy. He agreed to buy my Bamboo Fun tablet.

I recently bought the latest model, Wacom Intuos 4 tablet. It does cost a lot, but is worth its money. It has 2048 pressure sensitivity levels as opposed to Bamboo Fun’s 512. It has a highly improved grip pen, and comes with 10 nibs. Many more (expensive) accessaries for Intuos 4 are available in market like Art pen, Airbrush pen etc. I hope to have at least some in my arsenal in a couple of years from now.

The Intuos 4 model is too beautiful to describe. See for yourself.

Now my next challenge is to bring the already created comics pages in line with the new pages, which will be created using the highly sesitive Intuos 4!!

The Bicycle Project

Riding a bicycle in the chaotic traffic of Pune is plain scary and unsafe. But some of us do buy bicycles for the sake of exercise. Of course, the enthusiasm quickly sags and the bicycle gathers dust.

If you are in such a situation (like I was, till a week ago), keep reading.

Some people from the Indian cities of Mumbai and Pune have come together to start an initiative called ‘The Bicycle Project’. They gather such dust-gathering bicycles from various households, repair them and distribute them to the unprivilaged poor children in the remote areas.

It’s a boon for the poor children who otherwise have to walk several miles every day just to reach their schools.

The Bicycle project aims to distribute 100,000 bicycles to the underprivilaged children in remote areas.

I donated my bicycle last week. If you wish to do the same, you can contact the Bicycle Project on the India numbers given below. Volenteers will come to your doorstep and collect the bicycles, repair them and distribute them.

Mumbai – Hemant Chhabra – 9820149022

Pune – Kiran Deolalkar – 9920769666

e-mail : thebicycleproject@gmail.com

Happy donating

Shirish

A Touching Poem

When we brought Mugdha home, SOFOSH presented us with a very beautiful, touching poem written by one of the previous parents. I do not know the name of the person who wrote it. All I could feel is how much heart and soul was poured into it.

Here it is. Read and tell me if you agree –

Once there were two women who never knew each other,

One you do not remember, the other you call Mother.

Two different lives shaped to make yours one,

One became your guiding star, the other one became your sun.

The first gave you life, the second taught you to live it,

The first gave you need for love, the second was there to give it.

One gives you nationality, the other gave you a name,

One gave you the seed of talent, the other gave you an aim.

One gave you emotion, the other calmed your fears,

One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.

One gave you up – it was all she could do,

The other prayed for a child and god led her straight to you.

And more you ask me through your tears,

The age old question throughout the years.

Heredity or environment, which are you the product of?

Neither my darling – neither. Just two different kinds of love!

A Little Fairy Arrives in our World!

Her name is ‘Mugdha’ (The giver of joy), and she has arrived in our home to touch our hearts and souls. She is only nearly two months old, but already has managed to fill our little world with her presence.

Mugdha is our little daughter. Me and Aparna adopted her from Shri Vatsa, the home of destitute children affiliated to Sassoon Hospital, Pune. She arrived in our home today, bringing with her immense joy and infinite dreams.

Let’s welcome her to our family, and hope she lives a much fulfilled life with us.

The Arrival

We first saw Mugdha on 2nd Oct 09 in the Shri Vatsa office, and there was instant bonding between her and her new parents.

DSCN1566 DSCN1565

Saturday, 10th Oct 09. Me, Aparna and Aparna’s parents went to Shri Vatsa. Many children were playing in the court yard.

DSCF2628

DSCF2634

We went into the office, where we were warmly welcomed. After some formalities were completed, Mugdha was handed over to us for familiarizing with her new family members. Dhruv was super-excited and wanted to play with his sister and hold her in his lap.

DSCF2639

DSCF2644

Mugdha was absolutely an angel in her new mummy and daddy’s arms.

DSCF2646

The SOFOSH social workers had painted a Rangoli for giving a farewell to Mugdha (former name Shravani)

DSCF2664

Sharmila, the SOFOSH social worker, and Aparna’s mom performed certain rituals and presented Mugdha and Dhruv flower garlands.

DSCF2660

DSCF2661

Then we arrived home to a enthusiastic welcome.

DSCF2667

Mugdha is now getting settled in her new family and surroundings. May her life be filled with great joy.

DSCF2676

DSCF2681

DSCF2686

DSCF2689

DSCF2690

India Adoption FAQ

Here I have collated answers to all the frequently asked questions on adoption process in India. This is not THE comprehensive list, but it gives a fair bit of idea about what process we went through (and are still going through) in the adoption, and our thought process behind it.

1. Why did we choose to adopt a baby?

Ans – Me and Aparna had decided even before we married, that we would have one biological child and one adopted child. Since we already had a son (who will soon turn 5 yrs), we decided to adopt a daughter.

2. What was the reaction to our decision from our respective families?

Ans – Fortunately, our families and friends were highly supportive. Our families, including my two elder sisters (Sadhana & her family and Swati), Aparna’s sister (Amruta & her family), and mine and Aparna’s parents were very supportive of us. All our efforts would be futile if not for their relentless support and love for us.

Many of our relatives and friends encouraged us during the long waiting period, and many of them told us that they were proud of us. Sometimes even we felt that we were praised a lot more than we deserved. But this support will definitely go a long way to give us strength and courage to tread over any rough patches we may face in the future.

3. Are we doing it as a social service?

Ans – No. We are doing it to satisfy our parental instincts, and to complete our family. If it helps a social cause, we are happy for it. We are also very happy to give Mugdha a good life amongst a loving family. But we do not feel we are doing anyone a favor here. And we feel anyone adopting a baby should approach the process with the same mindset.

4. Why the name Mugdha?

Ans – The name is very nice, has a pleasant sound and meaning to it. Also, as any married person can tell you, it’s near impossible to have a uniform opinion on these naming matters between any married couple, and for once, me and Aparna did agree on this name.

5. When did we start the adoption process?

Ans – Adoption is a very long process and there’s a big waiting list. We applied for adoption of baby on 20th Apr 2008, and finally got our chance in Oct 2009.

We are adopting baby via an adoption agency called SOFOSH (Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospitals)

6. Why does it take so long?

Ans – Well, there are a lot of documents for the adoption agency to verify, interviews to be conducted, government regulations to be fulfilled, and then, there’s the long waiting list.

7. What happens if the child’s biological parents come looking later?

Ans – According to Indian law, only non-identifying details of biological and adoptive parents can be shared with each other, e.g. social and economic background, religion etc. So the biological and adoptive parents do not know about each other, ever.

Once the legal adoption process is completed (which may take another six months or so), the child is given a birth certificate with the adopting parents’ names, and everyone else’s rights on the child are relinquished.

8. So, what is Mugdha’s original social background?

Ans – The social worker did disclose it to me and Aparna. But we both prefer to keep it to ourselves only, and not to share with ANY third person, no exceptions.

To us, Mugdha is our daughter from the day we saw her first, and that’s all that matters to us.

9. How did the adoption process start?

Ans – The adoption process started with a basic interview with the SOFOSH representative. We completed an application form and a whole lot of documentation including

    1. Health checkup certificates for me and Aparna
    2. Income certificates for both of us
    3. Character certificates for both of us
    4. Recommendation letters from three families for us
    5. An affidavit from a blood relative couple promising to take care of the adopted child in case something happens to us.
    6. Family photographs
    7. Police clearance (similar to one required in obtaining a passport)
    8. Answers to a big customized questionnaire asking us the about the thought process behind adoption decision, and many family related questions.

10 .What came next?

Ans – Well, after our documents were submitted and verified by SOFOSH, nothing really happened for nearly 16 months, since we were in the waiting list.

At the beginning of Sep 2009, we got a letter from SOFOSH, inviting us for a full day seminar on adoption. The seminar was scheduled on 11th Sep 09.

Many aspiring parents were invited in the seminar, which covered varied topics like legal and medical processes followed while giving babies for adoption, how do these babies land up in the adoption agency, social and family issues faced by adopting parents and children, positive parenting and child psychology etc.

The seminar was highly motivational and informational, and cleared many concerns of the aspiring parents. The best part of the seminar was visits by adopting parents and their adopted children (apart from the delicious food, of course).

During the seminar, we were pleasantly surprised to know that our turn for adoption had finally come, and we would soon be invited to select a baby.

A social worker from a government agency (http://www.adoptionindia.nic.in) contacted us next week, and invited us to their office on a weekend.

The social worker, Shubhada interviewed me and Aparna, first together, then separately, during which she asked many open ended questions about our family background, upbringing, financial position, and decision making process in the family.

A couple of weeks after the interview, SOFOSH invited us to see the baby. The complete known medical and social history of the baby was shown to us. We spent some time with the baby. It was adoration at first sight, and we decided to have her as our daughter. After a couple of additional medical tests, we conveyed our consent to the SOFOSH, and fixed the date 10th Oct 09 as the date of arrival.

11. So, is this all? Is the baby ours now completely?

Ans – The legal process is expected to go on further for at least six months. Mugdha will be in our custody for next three months, during which we are allowed to take care of her, but not make any permanent markings like body piercing and tattoos on her.

During the next three months, SOFOSH social workers will periodically visit us to make sure she is well taken care of. Simultaneous to this ‘probation period’, a petition will be submitted to the court, asking for permanent custody of Mugdha to us. After nearly 4-5 months, there will be a hearing in court, after which Mugdha will become our child. She will be given a birth certificate with me and Aparna mentioned as her parents.

12. What happens when she grows up? Are we going to tell her she is adopted?

Ans – Absolutely! It’s better for her and us that she knows the reality about her from her parents rather than strangers. In our counseling sessions, we were specifically told how this delicate subject should be handled without hurting anyone’s sentiments. We are sure we will be the best parents for her, and she will understand.

13. How should one contact SOFOSH in case they want to adopt?

Ans – You may contact SOFOSH on the following address / phone number

Address:

Society of Friends of Sasoon Hospitals

Room # 87, Sasoon Hospital

Pune 411052, Maharashtra, India

Phone : +91-20-26124660

Fax: +91-20-26128219

E-mail: sofosh@vsnl.net

Website: http://www.sofosh.org