Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The ATM attacks: Call for lower limits

Yet another mugging in Bangalore. The modus operandi is
a) Find software or BPO company employees going back home at wee hours of the morning
b) Stop them; overpower them and take their ATM cards
c) Take them to an ATM machine and make them reveal their PIN numbers
d) Withdraw cash
e) Throw them out on the road somewhere

Attempts to resist or give false PIN numbers attracts brutal violence and frankly, money is less important than your life. But obviously there should be some protection, with banks offering MASSIVE withdrawal limits of upto Rs. 25,000 per day on ATM cards! How do you ensure that a) you're alive and b) you're not bankrupt?

Madman suggested something that might be very helpful in such circumstances:
Idea #1: An alternate PIN that has a lower ATM withdrawal limit.
This means you can give a mugger the alternate pin and he'll only be able to withdraw, say, Rs. 4,000. (If this is too low the mugger may take out his frustration on you, violently) You'll get off for lesser.

1) Are you going to ever remember this "other" PIN?
2) If this strategy becomes ubiquitous, won't the muggers simply go on beating you up till you give up the main PIN?

While chances for the above are low, it may be a way to get muggers out of the way (after all, they don't have too much time on their hands). The bigger issue is that banks have to seriously upgrade their infrastructure and software, which I believe they'll groan about - they always groan when they have to give money.
(Also mentioned at: halfbakery.com)

Idea #2: A "panic" PIN
If this PIN is entered, the ATM goes into ALARM mode and sounds a hooter, sends a message to the bank + police control room etc. A camera in the ATM gets active.

But you may get killed: after all the police in India takes a while to arrive and the robbers may just decide to snuff out your life for the trouble created. Additionally, these events happen so late at night that this option may not at all be effective.
(Got the name from halfbakery.com.)

Idea #3: Two bank accounts, one with a lower limit
Considering that most banks' infrastructure only allows one card per account, each account holder should have multiple accounts (with the same bank) - the "second" account will have a small balance (say Rs. 4,000). ATM cards are given for both accounts, but you will only carry this "second" account's ATM card with you - leave the other one at home.

The idea is:
1) if you get mugged, you only have the second ATM card, limited to the balance.
2) If you urgently need cash for yourself, you have upto Rs. 4,000 immediately and more when you get home.

The only downside is to have to maintain two pins, and two different bank accounts. But in this age of netbanking and phone banking, you can easily transfer money between your accounts without any human interaction.

From an implementation perspective:
1) Idea #1: Banks haven't yet implemented it though some have "NetSafe" cards, like HDFC for Internet transactions with a pre-assigned credit limit. These can't be used for ATM withdrawals, though. So Idea #1 is not feasible unless banks upgrade software, meaning not possible today.
2) Idea #2: For this, the banks and police have to get involved, co-operate and spend money on infrastructure (sirens, network alarms, cameras etc.) If you know the state of co-operation of these two entities, you will understand why I say this is not possible today.
3) Idea #3: Most banks will allow you this privilege, and if they need an excuse, create a "joint" account with your spouse or parents or siblings. Inter-account transfer is very easy, at least with HDFC Netbanking, and I'm sure it's possible with other banks as well. In short, you can do this today.

If you are a BPO or Software Company employee, or in fact anyone keeping late hours, please consider the above options carefully. If you know friends who work late or need to walk in dark areas, please let them know too.

(Yes, the real problem is the muggers themselves: but in big city disparities of income, such incidents will invariably happen. We have too small a police force to protect our population; we need to protect ourselves. Forming citizen-watch groups in residential neighbourhoods, learning martial arts, carrying pepper spray or a weapon you are trained to use etc. are options to solve that problem. That is another day, another blog post)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

All bloggers are terrorists.

Or so the government seems to think. The DOT has recently asked ISPs to ban all blogs at blogspot.com, or so it seems. I couldn't access this site from home, with an Airtel broadband connection, which (Airtel) has the high customer service levels of not even providing information on their web site, though if they did I would keel over and die from the shock. (That would be terrorism)

Now I can imagine the thinking of the Babus that did this.

"Uhm. There are lots of these sites, something blogspot something"
"Oh. Who writes them?"
"Everybody yaar, even my neighbour's dog has a blog"
"You mean har kutte ka blog hai?"
"Ek minute yaar...terrorist bhi to kutte hote hain...so even terrorists may be using blogs no?"
"Eggjactly! Ban all this blog wog things ... all these dogs should be taught a lesson"

So it came to pass that blogs would be banned. This of course, might have been a liquor induced stupor, but if we allowed that to rule our country we would have had compulsory nasbandi (check), interfering in other countries when our own was in danger (check) and of course a clamped down emergency for no reason at all. (check)

Oh wait. All those were done by people with the surname "Gandhi". Let's BAN the surname "Gandhi" completely! That will do the trick. So from now on, every person with the surname "Gandhi" will be referred by only the first four letters of the surname. That will teach them. (Maybe they'll be hired as Ass Managers)

Coming back to the blog issues, it's obvious now that blogs are a bad thing and they should all be banned including this one. That also means we should ban the internet because, you know what, that's about how far blogs go. Let us, in the same note, ban email, fax and phones as well. SMS is a criminal offense of course.

Why not go one step further? Make pens, pencils and keyboards illegal. Spray paint will be punishable by death. Sign language is the mark of the devil. Language is banned - we must all speak in a correct dialect of Hindi from now on. All people must wear burqas so that no emotion can be conveyed by the eyes or by body language. Let us, from now on, learn to bend over and grease up while the babus try to get their action from their impotent appendages.

Or, while they're at it, let's simply chop their b**** off.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The songs of years gone by

Listening to "Farishta" on Worldspace today, I came across some songs that moved me by the sheer power of their lyrics. I post them here as my tribute to the songwriters and singers alike.

Note: I will not translate them to English. There is a certain "dard" in them you will not understand if you don't know Hindi.

siine mein jalan aankhon mein toofan sa kyon hai
is shaher mein har shaks pareshaan sa kyon hai

dil hai to dhadakne ka bahaana koi dhundey
patthar ki tarah behis-o-bejaan sa kyon hai

kya koi nayi baat nazar aati hai hum mein
aaina hamein dekh ke hairaan sa kyon hai

There is so much in that last stanza. Thank you, Shahyrar.

Another one that you might know, but worked for me today:

Rishta dil se dil ke aitbaar ka
Zinda ha hamee se naam pyaar ka
Ke mar ke bhi kisi ko yaad aayenge
Kisikee aansuon main muskurayenge
Kahe ga phool har kali se baar baar

Jeena isi ka naam hai.

How hard we have become today. Life has become :
ke jee ke bhi humee ko bhool jaayenge
kisikee aansuon mein reh na paayenge
koi kahega humse phir bhi baar baar
kya jeena isi ka naam hai?"

Ass-inine adverts

Have you successfully controlled the size of your posterior? Or, even better, that of others?

You can then apply for the job of an "Ass Manager" in Bangalore.

Subject: Looking out for Ass Manager: Business Development for a multinational firm

(Company name censored) in Bangalore is looking out for Smart Business Development candidates with 3 to 5 years of experience. (Company) is a multinational firm with 40000 employees. Check website for further information.
(blah blah)

The things that bangalore's laziness has brought about. Of course, this is butt expected. Nobody wants to be left behind.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Help the terror victims...in whatever little way you can.

It's the most cowardly act known to mankind: terrorism. The people behind the bomb blasts in Mumbai are too scared to show their faces, and perhaps snicker in glee at their TV sets today. But remember, whoever you are: We will find you. But more importantly, we will overcome. You will remain but a blot on the history of Mumbai, and indeed, of India.

I will, starting today, build a separate cash allowance to fund the search for these murderers, and the supari to kill them. It may take years, and we may find them when they are near death, but find them we will.

But there is more to do today than just that. There's a blog called http://mumbaihelp.blogspot.com/ which helps in the search for the injured and the deceased . Mumbai Police have also provided a list, on a per-hospital basis, of the dead and injured victims. Only, it's in Marathi.

If you can read Hindi, you can read Marathi. But thousands of people are looking for their friends and relatives and they perhaps cannot - so help is needed in placing all these names in the "List of the Dead" and "List of the Injured" so that searching is easier.

I've converted four pages, and I'm nearly in tears. Every single name calls out to me as if I knew it closely. Some names ring a bell, but I know no one. The only thing I really know is that their life was snuffed out of them, prematurely, by an insane but planned act.

The anger rages within. Ubiquitous today, perhaps is the hatred of our impotent government, the (shame at the) helplessness of our shackled army, the courage of the rattled mumbaikar. And more commonly, the rage of the unknown Indian...a rage that seethes relentlessly now, at least in *this* Indian.

We will find you, who did this. And we will prevail.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Whisky ne kiya beda paar?

Manmohan Singh Patiala peg is now firmly in the grip of the Air India crew that flew him to Germany. Not because they didn't want him to drink on the plane; but because they wanted to mooch it for themselves. The captain took five "top grade Scotch whisky" bottles, and an attendant another five. Totally, 29 bottles of whisky were stolen.

Twenty nine bottles of whisky. On a flight to Germany.

Now I know why India keels over on every foreign visit by our top guns. They're bloody drunk, that's why. I can imagine how, after winning the 1971 war, we gave back all the territory we had earlier claimed as ours. Alcohol induced insanity.

But these Air India guys are unbelievable. They break into the cabinet of the most protected official of the Indian state, and then steal his whisky! I wonder if the buzz will be worth a jail term.

Turns out if you want to become a steward or air-hostess with Air India, you can't be overweight or have acne or marks on your face. But dark circles are allowed, if they're caused by having too much whisky.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Searching for what?

I recently found, from the logs maintained in a dark dingy cellar, that this site is being located through certain search phrases. I don't know what the deal is, but here's what people are searching for and getting to this page:

1) Ugly Indian Bride
2) Indian Marvadis Sex stories
3) armpits of indian girls (???)
4) american holocaust: when it's all over i'll still be indian

This is just the past week. I don't know who these people are, but I think they need to be in an institution. Maybe they *are* in an institution that has internet access. Well, whatever it is, the weirdo's have landed.

Also what I don't get is: How does my blog get listed with these keywords? "Indian Marvadis sex stories"? I'm #1 on the list from yahoo, of a total of TWO results. I don't have any marvadi sex stories on my site, and neither does the other link. So there are no marvadi sex stories in the ENTIRE WORLD. They aren't even having sex, those marvadis, they're all immaculate conception, which also explains their wealth.

So whoever's looking for "marvadis sex stories", stop right here and get back to work.

And "armpits of indian girls" person, please note that your license to use the internet has now expired.