Thursday, February 07, 2013


This January, I have entered into fatherhood with a baby girl joining my journey of life, whom I should guide to take her own path over the coming years. So, I have 2 girls coming into my life in less than a year, keeping me busy and happy :-) Over the last few days, many close relatives and friends around me are curious about how I would want the baby to grow up as. Half of the reason is my attitude and character whereas the main reason is the eccentric and special nature of my father - he is an atheist; he rarely attends functions; he is honest; he is knowledgeable. Every cousin’s parent in our extended family wants the kid to be brought up like Bhaskara Rao’s sons (me and my bro). We are the role models in education, marks, behavior and every other aspect. That does not mean we have never done any mischievous act. We enjoyed our childhood, we played all games, we once disappeared from home for a day. But, we were the “GOOD BOYS” in the household, family and colony. We turned out as good men. Now, when I look back, I find how my father carefully shaped our careers, made us reach success (read good education and job) in life and impacted our personalities, even without imposing or forcing anything. I had always thought to write about, but was lazy. Now, with me becoming a father I feel like writing this within the little time I have. The first thing I remember is not only he never raised his hand on us, but also never cursed, said a bad word or talked low of us. Never had we seen/heard him doing that to anyone. I never saw him lying to anyone. He stick to honesty in both his profession and personal life. Many old people visited our home to thank him for helping them get their pensions as part of his bank job. He always refused gifts from them. I know many incidents, where he refused to bribe the government employees, but still got the job done for our own house by fighting at various levels of authority, including CM office. I thought of writing that as a series during the hot times of Anna movement, but was lazy. Whatever moral values I try to follow, I got imbibed from him. As kids, we were unanimous choice for umpiring; that’s the amount of trust others had on us :-) He is an avid reader. He visited local libraries weekly and regularly went to Sunday book markets and book fairs. We tagged along. We used to lend books from the libraries. Along with the story books, he used to bring journals like THE SCIENCE REPORTER and Mathematics for you. That improved our language as well as reading speeds. We finished the complete children book section (hundreds of books) within 2 years. His thirst for knowledge is unmatching, which I posted in 2009. Right now, he is coding in PHP and Javascript - parsing online medical books and create a synopsis so that we, common men, can know various terminologies related to a disease and understand what a doctor says. He subscribed to Competitive Success Review in my Sixth; he was giving coaching to bank exams at that time. I used to compete with them in doing numerical ability and verbal problems –which enhanced my puzzle-solving and analytical ability. Sigh, those were the times, I was a Civils aspirant. He subscribed to THE OUTLOOK in my 9th, saying it was for the watch as the subscription gift to me. But, I knew that the gift was reading a good English magazine to improve my language as well as get know about national and international affairs. He never missed a chance to let us know the science and technical advancements. In 1988, when I was in 2nd, he took us to the bank to introduce computer and dot matrix printer. He took us to Medical College, while we were in school. In 1994, he showed me PaintBrush on a 4MB RAM PC. Around 2000-01, he showed me the operation of an ATM and how money is put into the machine. He bought a branded computer for INR 50K (his 4 month salary at the time) in 1999, when I had just written my plus-2 exams – only 2 of my Computer Science Engineering classmates in our town college had computers at home. He taught us chess when I was 7. He used to engage us in games like word-building and quiz, and the mathematics games. He used to take us along to super-markets while bringing groceries – to make us understand the finance and average middle class life. He took us to museums in various cities. I got my interest in THE HINDU crossword puzzle from him. There was not a single day, where he told us to study or do homework. He left it to us to choose our career paths. He gave us the options telling the pros and cons and let us make our decision. He always treated us as friends. He is an atheist, but he never forced it on us. Though, he made us try to understand rationality behind a faith/custom and to not blindly follow it. So, I emerged as that person who is neither theist nor atheist nor agnostic, but who is a “I believe God does not exist. But, I will neither make fun of somebody’s customs/beliefs or acts; talk against them; but I will not follow myself.” He lives simple, though ensures to groom himself well – wearing clean clothes (but not extravagant) and shaving every day. He enjoyed our academic success, complimented us, but ensured that we don’t become complacent. Once, I announced proudly to him that I came first in the class and the quick response was “Dog bites a man is not news, but a Man bites dog is.” He was not the average father who would think his job was only to earn thousands and lakhs, join the kid in a reputed school/college, pamper it with whatever it wants, and get the kid to become a successful (read as rich) person. He made us develop as good human beings with distinct personality.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Password security questions in Social Networking Age

Whenever I call the bank customer care, they ask my date of birth, last 4 digits of a/c number or debit card or mother's maiden name. These days I wonder how strong these authorization controls are, as some of them can be easily taken from one's online profile.

To confirm, I took a list of common password security questions from online to check how many of those can be answered by having access to one's social networking profiles - FB/G+/LinkedIn - and not surprised - A lot of them can be answered. If the person is a contact/friend, then almost all.

My dear young cousins and elder uncles - please keep an eye on what you share on facebook/orkut/G+.

I removed some poor and obvious ones. Here goes the list:-
  • What was your childhood nickname?
  • What is the name of your favorite childhood friend?
  • What is your oldest sibling’s birthday month and year? (e.g., January 1900)
  • What school did you attend for sixth grade?
  • What is your oldest cousin's first and last name?
  • In what city does your nearest sibling live?
  • In what city or town was your first job?
  • What is the name of the place your wedding reception was held?
  • What was the name of your elementary / primary school?
  • What is the name of the company of your first job?
  • To what city did you go on your honeymoon?
  • What is your current car registration number?
  • What month and day is your anniversary? (e.g., January 2)
  • What is your grandmother's first name?
  • What is your mother's middle name?
  • What is the last name of your favorite high school teacher?
  • What was the make and model of your first car?
  • Where did you vacation last year?
  • What is the name, breed, and color of current pet?
  • What is your preferred musical genre?
  • What is the name of the first undergraduate college you attended?
  • What was your high school mascot?
  • What year did you graduate from High School?
  • What is the name of the first school you attended?
  • What was your favorite sport in high school?
  • What is the name of the High School you graduated from?
  • What is your pet's name?
  • In what year was your father born?
  • In what year was your mother born?
  • What is your mother’s (father's) first name?
  • What is your mother's maiden name?
  • What was the color of your first car?
  • What is your father's middle name?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Games - innovations

A friend's post on "Nostalgic Games" post made me nostalgic and you know what happens when I become nostalgic – a blog post comes up. Of course, how I can resist, that too after Deepak asking me what all games I played. But, I do not have enough time to explain/translate the numerous games I played. So, I will just list down the small innovations/derivations we (me, my bro and my friends) made to keep us alive and going whenever we felt boring.

1. Loans and pawn broking (hypothecation) in Trade/Monopoly: We started playing Trade/Business/Monopoly as early as at 8. Slowly, we were bored. Then we introduced loan concept. A player can hypothecate his city (or bungalow/godown) with the bank – should pay an interest of 50/100 for every round until he can pay back. And, the loaned amount is used to buy new sites. See, we were good real investors at that time. Of course, genes of a banker father helped. But, I am not a good investor now :-(

2. Share Business: We were bored of Trade by 12. Then, we conceptualized the share business. Instead of cities, the monopoly board would have Company names. Players can own a company or buy a share of the ownership. You get dividend similar to the rents for the sites. Having a type-writer at home meant we printed our own currency and Share certificates. Now, I am trying hard to balance my demat account portfolio.

3. Shooting range: Inspired by watching 1988 Olympics in Doordarsan, at the age of 8, we set up our own shooting competition with plastic bulleted guns bought in local carnival (exhibition).

4. Archery: Most of the kids might have made bow-arrows stealing sticks from broom and then having a war (inspired from DD Ramayan). We did that too, got bored and went a step ahead and conducted archery competition similar to shooting (again inspired by Olympics).

5. Thermocol bats and squash/TT: What would you do with those left-over thermocol (polystyrene) sheets after you were finished with your school projects? We carved small TT-size bats (rackets) out of thermocol and conducted squash tournaments in the drawing room and table-tennis on the dining table.

6. Tennis with exam-pads: Exam-pads are the ubiquitous ready-to-use bats/rackets to play cricket or any ball-game, especially in school. We even played shuttle-badminton with the pads. But, the tennis game with exam-pad and rubber ball tops the list – yeah, we followed proper tennis scoring of games and sets.

7. Golf: Having new cable TV connection and StarSports for the first time meant we watched almost all sports on it, including the boring golf. Inspired by it, we played golf (mainly putting and clubbing) at home - digging holes in the backyard and using sticks as the drives.

8. Basketball with mug as basket: Once, we wanted to play basket-ball inside home. Hang two mugs to opposite-facing windows, use a plastic ball – we were ready to play basket-ball :-)

9. Cricket with duster(wiper)-chacks : In Engineering, none would carry exam-pad. We tried with books, but they were heavy. So, we played cricket with chalks and duster. That too, while classes were going on in the adjacent rooms.

10. Timeless test: Bored of regular 10 or 15-over matches, we started playing 2-innings unlimited over cricket matches with all rules including innings lead and follow-on.

If these innovations were needed after we got bored with the below games, one can understand how much we enjoyed our childhood. Thanks to never pressurising parents (for education), I (and my bro) had a wondeful childhood   Even getting cable TV in my seventh standard did not stop us.

Repeating the games I mentioned as comment on Deepak’s post:- Nela-banda, Udum (Hide&Seek), Veeri-veeri gummadipandu veeri peremi, Help, Current-Shock, Ice-boy, Ice-Press, Color-color, Enimidi-rallu aata, Tokkudu Billa (3-4 varieties), Kundullu, 2 variations of London, Steps game, Mukku-gilludu aata, Show (Played with chits), Ramudu-Seetha, Accham-gillalu, Chinta pikkalata, Edu penkulata, Uru-peru-cinima-vastuvu, Karrata, Bechalu, Goleelu (marbles), Trade/Monopoly, Vaikhuntapali & Snakes&Ladder, Ludo, Ashta Chemma (2-3 varieties), Gudu-gudu gunjam, Cat-ball, Card games like WWF, cricket stats, Archery, Shooting, paper-fans, Donga-police with self-manufactured paper guns, Dadi, Puli-meka, the number games, all kinds of Sand games, playing Kings&Wars.

The above were in addition to the usual Cricket (one-step, two-step, tennis, tape-ball, cork-ball, double wicket, test matches- unlimited overs, ), Chess, Carroms (game,rupees-paise, business, puli-meka), Kabaddi, Shuttle Badminton, kho-kho, flying kites, video games (Mario, tetris) and computer games.

Games played (conducted) at school - like lemon&spoon, three-leg race, gunny-bag race, Ram-Ravan, memory game, etc