Zegapain

Zegapain 一套好看的動畫﹐原來並不需要華麗的畫面﹐不需要激烈的打鬥﹐不需要迎合宅迷的人設﹐只需要一個上佳的劇本。若果從繪畫的技術去看﹐Zegapain怎看 也只是套很普通的乙級製作。機械人戰鬥採用電腦動畫﹐打鬥帶點電腦遊戲的生硬感。人物的設計談不上富有美感﹐只是簡單線條的樣板面相。雖然畫功只達尚可合 格的水平﹐可是故事的深度與完整性﹐足以令這套動畫為科幻迷津津樂道的經典作。

很多動畫的故事往往故弄玄虛﹐設計謎團埋下伏線讓觀眾追看 ﹐到最後幾集才來個大解謎。Zegapain的故事則用科幻小說法則﹐發問如果式命題﹐探討在不同處境下人性的反應。故事開場不久就已解開大部份謎團﹐讓 觀眾清楚掌握動畫世界的設定﹐可以代入劇中角色的心理﹐思考自身命運該何去何從。這套動畫的編劇擅長描寫人物心理變化﹐故事中幾個轉折點很感人肺腑﹐能捉 緊情緒讓觀眾引起共鳴。故事的主題很沉重﹐涉及生存和死亡的意義﹐探討什麼才是人這個嚴肅哲學課題。兩女一男的愛情線亦同樣出色﹐一個是青梅竹馬的好友﹐ 一個是前生隔世的戀人。故事活用背景設定去考驗主角的愛情﹐而經得起挑排這份細水長流的感情﹐比胡亂配搭的三角戀更加浪漫動人。

若果你認 為Matrix虛擬世界很有意思﹐這套動畫把虛擬世界的想像推往極限。在Zegapain的世界中﹐人類不單只量子電腦內生活﹐連肉體也失去了﹐只剩下曾 作為人的記憶和性格。人類創造出來的機械侵襲吞食地球﹐人類只好躲進量子電腦內避難。在虛擬世界中生存的人﹐也不知道已經死去還是依然活著。從虛擬世界蘇 醒到現實世界﹐發現自己經已失去肉體。知資訊化的生命並不等於永恆﹐量子化的人格資訊沒法備份﹐與敵人戰鬥可能受到破壞。人格被逐點侵蝕而慢慢失去自我而死 亡。這是一個讓生命逐點流走﹐記憶逐點失去的可怕死法。當然守護盛載人類記憶的電腦也很重要﹐若電腦被破壞內裏的人也無一幸免。機械人在這動畫中只有次要地位﹐主要依靠劇中角色的思想和行動把劇情帶動。故事不單只塑造了主角在現 實與虛擬世界之間的爭扎﹐還帶出配角各式各樣的遭遇﹐讓整個故事世界很立體充實。

詳細的故事情節我不欲多說﹐說穿了初看時就會欠缺那份震憾的感覺。雖然觀眾早己知道背景設定﹐故事最終目標是打倒機械敵人﹐奪回地球的控制權﹐讓電腦內的靈魂擁有肉身復活。觀眾追看不是要知道故事的結局﹐而是看劇中眾人如何爭扎求存﹐克服外在困難內在心魔達成結果。同時亦不禁試想像一下﹐若果易地而處自己會如何應對呢。

Ooty – escape from Indian summer heat

Yet another tea farm

On my last weekend in India, I went to Ooty with Mark and Jenny. Ooty is about 300km from Bangalore, it locates in the Nilgiri region, which is highest mountain in South India. The temperature is much cooler than Bangalore, I almost feel like I am in Vancouver. The Nilgiri is famous for tea plantation and its beautiful scenery.

We don’t want to take any days off from work, so itinerary of the trip is tightly packed. We left work on Friday and drove to Mysore to stay over a night. The next morning, we woke up at 4:30a.m. to see wild life in the Bandipur Nation Park, which is on the way to Ooty. There are only two time slot per to see wild animals, either in dawn or in dust. Animals will no roam around in the afternoon to avoid the baking sun. We were smart enough to make reservation, we couldn’t get on the jeep tour. We could only join the lame bus tour. I was looking forward to see some wild tiger in action. I end up only seeing herds of deers, bisons, a few elephants and a peacock opening its tail. Since there ain’t much to see, we left the national park at 8a.m. and continue our journey.

Wild binson staring at us On the way to Ooty A herd of deers

We arrived at Ooty after 2 hours of ride on a scenic route. After having a brunch, we check in to our hotel. Without doubt, the resort hotel in Ooty is the best hotel I have stayed in India. It is modified form an grand manor from the Colonial days. The resort is located up in the mountain, over looking the tea farms and villages in the valley down below. We probably got the previous master bedroom, it is a suite with a huge living room, bedroom, walk-in closet and toilet. The view from our room’s front door is pretty remarkable. It leads to a garden with the valley view. It almost feels like a scene in a movie that you can get up, open the door and take a breath of fresh mountain air and enjoy the view.

Zest resort hotel at Ooty View outside the door of our room Farms and villages in the valley.

We took a cycling tour in the afternoon. The tour is fun and exciting. The cruising the country road among the tea farms is pretty relaxing. Pass through the Ooty town center is quite an unique adventure. Riding among the tuck-tucks and crazy Indian traffic is as exciting as roller coaster. The ride is one way down hill, we took a tuck-tuck back to the hotel when we reach the bottom of the valley. Jenny does not know how to ride a bicycle, so she ride on the back sat of the motorbike of the tour guide. I wonder which one is more scary in Indian traffic , cycling in down hill or riding on the back of a motorbike without helmet. We hop on the car and visited a few other tourist spots in Ooty after cycling tour, but none of them worths any mentioning.

Downhill biking in India traffic Jenny riding a motorbike following us Tea farm Tea farm of King Mysore Riding tuck tuck back to the hotel

We went to the major tourist attraction in Ooty is the Nilgiri toy train next morning. The toy train is the steepest rail in Asia running on narrow gauge. It links Ooty, which is at the top of the mountain, to the town at the foot of the mountain. The train ride is about 2 hours to the Coonor, which is half way in the mountain. Once again, we forgot to make any reservation, but this time it turns out to be a wonderful experience. We bought the unserved coach class ticket from the ticket counter and have to line up and ride the train with other Indians. Luckily we manage to get window seats but riding coach class it is totally different from riding first class.

Really long line up. 5 rupee (1 cent CAD$) for a 2 hours train ride, it's even cheaper than walking. The toy train engine Other people have to stand. Green flag

The ticket is really cheap, only Rs 5 (about 10 cents CAD$), it is probably the cheapest transportation I ever had. We joke that the 2 hours train ride is even cheaper than walking for 2 hours if you take the wear and tear of your shoes into account. The beauty of view along the rail line beyond description of words or photos. I guess not even a high definition video camera can capture its aura, the only way to fully appreciate the experience is to take the toy train in person. The view looks so nice that I could even fool some one say the photos are taken in Europe.

Going into a tunnel Passing by tea farms Endless tea farms The rail overlooking the valley. Little creek. Tracks going up hill

Nilgiri region is famous for its tea plantation. No one would leave Ooty without visiting the tea factory and tea musuem, and buy some tea as gifts for friends back home. The tea factory tour is quite very educational. I learned how tea is made from newly picked tea leave to ready to brew tea bags. The souvenirs shop is a bit let down, although the tea are nicely packaged, I am sure those tea are not the top quality.

Tea factory and tea museum Tea grinding machine Aluminum drum to roast the tea leaves Tea sorting machine

The ride form Ooty to Bangalore is long and boring, we arrived the guest house late at night. I slept through most of the way, so except the occasion urge for washroom break, the long ride does not bother me much. This week’s Ooty trip and last week’s Hampi trip really changes my impression of India. When I first arrive, the mess in Bangalore already gave me a very bad impression. The Goa trip didn’t count because it is a tourist town tailored for foreigners. My visit to New Delhi and Arga further confirm my impression. Taj Mahal is very neat, but it’s from the India three centuries ago, I only see annoying hawkers, garbage piled villages and Hindu temples with stupid rules in my trip. The final straw is the Mysore trip in which we got ripped off not once by twice. I decide I will never trust any Indian strangers and nothing in Indian is interesting even to worth a visit. However, after I met the simple villagers and see th ebeautiful scenery in Hampi and Ooty, my impression is changed. I think India is still some what worth traveling, just you have to stay away form those tourist traps.

評陶傑論香港教育一文

我有時也會看陶傑的文章﹐雖說他被譽為香江第一才子﹐不過他的文章質素參差。寫得好的文章﹐見解獨到精廦內容一針見血﹐寫得馬虎的那些就完全不知所謂。最近我看了陶傑幾篇批評香港教育制度的文章﹐他照舊彈那套老調子﹐把香港教育說得一無是處﹐恨不得把兒童送出國讀書升學。香港教育改革問題多多人所共知﹐可以狠批的地方府捨皆是。可是批評也要有些見地﹐亂彈亂罵與維園阿伯沒有分別。讀到期陶傑在臺仔那篇「孩子不肯出國的時候」﹐我忍不往要寫幾句插陶傑﹐他的理論真的很狗屁不通啊﹗

中文中學與副學士是目前香港教育兩大難題﹐陶傑拿這兩個題目來開刀是容易目標。對著如此大個的目標﹐他竟然可以完全射不中紅心﹐不著邊際地打靶外的稻草人。他在文中說﹕「搞成今天這個亂局,關鍵在於提倡種種「教育改革」的人,嘴巴向平民宣傳,骨子裡自己也不相信。他告訴你母語教學如何好,自己的子女都往英美送。他告訴你副學士是一條通往天堂的光明之路,但高官的子女有哪一個留在香港讀「副學士」的呢?」

陶傑這番說話﹐可笑程度大慨等於問麥當奴的總裁﹐為什麼你不吃漢堡包﹐卻走去食法國大餐。中中和副學士﹐打從開始就是次等貨﹐給沒能力不及﹐不能升讀英中和大學的學生報讀。母語教學的好處﹐就只限於英文程度不夠的學生。副學生更是半吊子的學位﹐給沒有資格入讀學士的學生一個機會﹐總好過要他們做雙失年青。看高官對教育改革的宣傳﹐只要細心留意字裏行間的含意﹐就不難發現中中和副學士是次貨的事實。若有人對官方宣傳信到十足﹐走去讀中中和副學士﹐只好怪自己死蠢了。不過也很難怪他們﹐不是死蠢就不會淪落到要讀中中和副學士。高官理所當然地也會渴望子女成材﹐他們又怎會笨得子女受次貨教育呢﹖說起來香港的大學水平雖然不差﹐但與歐美的名牌大學還有一大段距離。若果高官子女天資優厚後天勤力﹐家境又豐厚付得起外國名校的學費﹐還留在香港讀書就肯定是腦袋不正常了。

陶傑在文中例牌地提出解決香港教育問題的方法﹐他在文中又說﹕「特區政府今天有一千多億盈餘,應該每年定幾十個獎學金名額,令機會平等,不論富貧,雨露均霑,這樣才可以為二十一世紀的香港培養真正的精英人才。」

說出這番話﹐大慨陶傑以為自己是真正的精英人才﹐借鏡自己留學英國後回港的經驗。很可惜在全球化的世界﹐真正的精英人才﹐會希罕香港這個彈丸之地嗎﹖送獎學金讓學子出國讀書﹐這張肯定是單程機票﹐一去無回頭。香港完全沒有科研沒有文化﹐讀文科理科的學生回港沒有出路﹐就算學成後不回港把獎學金嘔出來﹐計落可能還有著數。香港最引以自豪的金融業﹐可是若商科畢業生有得揀﹐你佔他會去華爾街還是去中環﹖醫生律師就更加不用說﹐外國讀書辛辛苦苦考了牌﹐竟然不能拿回香港用。要為香港培養真正的精英人才﹐就更加要搞好香港的教育﹐才可以吸引世界各地的精英來港工作定居。派錢送孩子出國讀書﹐只有陶傑才會想出如此白痴的辨法。他還要不是只說一次﹐不停重覆講完又講﹐足見他是個超級大白痴。

陶傑還批評現代的學童不長進﹐只懂追明星看獎門人刨八掛雜誌﹐說是香港學校的風氣有問題﹐家長要效法孟母三遷搬去外國讀好學校。不過他看錯了一件事﹐比起學校父母的身教更加重要。如果父母自己也煲電視劇集看獎門人刨八掛雜誌﹐搬去那兒讀書也沒有用。陶傑以為外國學生個個也看BBC就是太天真太傻了﹐外國學生不也是會沉迷搖滾樂隊﹐看些同樣是沒有營養的鬼佬電視劇﹐不看獎門人便看survivor。說不定獎門人的教育意義可能比survivor還好些。

人家陶傑是大才子﹐又怎會理我這些無名小卒的指指點點﹐插完他大慨對他不痛不癢﹐照舊在報章雜誌大講癈話批評香港的教育。不過狂插完陶傑一論﹐條氣總算順了點﹐哈﹗

Some thoughts about the Bangalore trip

I have only one week left in my  Bangalore assignment.  I started days remaining counter on my white board in my cubicle, counting the days that I can go home and see Pat.  I swear I will never come back to this country, unless there is another work assignment with enough incentive.  Staying in India for two months is definitely  over my tolerance level, even with a 2 weeks break back home after the first month.  I think the maximum  duration  to work in India is 3 weeks.  2 weeks is too short, you couldn’t get much done.  3 weeks is just right and you have two weekends in between to do some traveling.

Mark asked me if I can go back in time, whether I still sign up to the Bangalore trip.  I think the first month is very critical.  Knowing the Indian team, ramp them up, get them on the same page as the Canada team will make my life down the road much easier.  However, the second month is a waste of time.  Yes, face to face mentoring is nice to have, but I can do it over the phone with net meeting too.  I don’t have to be physically present in Bangalore.  Face to face meeting is more efficient, but inefficient of traffic in Bangalore and sickness from the pollution out weighted whatever benefit we gain from face to face meeting.  I can do a lot conference calls using the 3 hours I stuck in Bangalore traffic every day.

Having a nice meal after work is the only way to keep my sanity.  I have no choice but the crappy curry at PMC canteen for lunch.  If I have to eat equally crappy curry for dinner as well, I would rather jump in front of a tuck tuck and kill myself.  The real benefit for my 2nd month in Bangalore is the weekend travels.  We planed weekend trip for every weekend.  I have been to lots of places in India and get to see the real India, the beautiful India I would enjoy, instead of the garbage piling India I encounter every day.  It would be too sad if you have to spend your weekend in Bangalore with nothing to do.

So long Bangalore, so long India.  6 days left and counting…

Hampi – the hidden jewel of India

Ruin of ancient market

Hampi is probably one of the hidden treasure of India.  It was the capital of the largest Indian kingdom in 14th century.  It is glorious day, its has over half a million population.  Then the Muslim rulers came and destroy everyone.  Now it is an ancient huge ruin covering an area of 75 km square with just a few small farm villages.  Hampi is far away from any major travel route so it is not well known to most travelers.  Hampi only got a paragraph in my tourist book and a couple pages in the Lonely Planet.  With its status as a world heritage site and massive preservation project on the way, I think it will transform itself into the second biggest attraction in India after Taj Mahal.

Trees and rice field  Ruins of ancient market Water thank in the market 

To get to Hampi, we have to take an overnight train from Bangalore.  Riding trains in India is quite an experience.  Although we are riding first class, things are not quite right.  The cabin is OK, at least we got clean sheet and pillow case.  The toilet is a hole go straight down to the tracks.  You can feel the wind when coming up when you are doing your business.  You are not allow to go to toilet when the train stops at train station, otherwise what comes out of you will stay on the tracks.  The train door is not locked, so you can stick your head out and get some fresh air.  It seems quite scary at first, but after a while you use to the open door, you will find it very enjoyable.

Trees and rice field Ox cart waiting to cross the rail crossing. The train door is not locked.  I can stick my head out and enjoy the ride.

The natural beauty of Hampi is stunning.  The whole area is scattered with rocks mountains.  The ancient Indian build their temples and palace using local materials by cutting the stones.  There are over 300 temples in the area, most of them are destroyed and deserted, only a few survive.  The scale of the palace, the market, public bath, the royal bath is very impression.  Every building is connected by an aqua duct system.  The canal built in the ancient times are still used as water supplies by villagers.  The most spectacular view is the sun rise temple on the highest rock mountain.  We woke up 5a.m. to climb the mountain.  Unfortunately we were too slow and missed the sun rise by 15 minutes.  However, the view on top is so beautiful that it still worth the 600 steps hike up the ancient stairs carved out from the rocks.

Ruin of the palace Wake up at 5a.m. to watch sun rise Water temple. The royal water tank.

We don’t plan ahead of time, but the weekend we visit Hampi is also the birthday of the monkey god.  There is a big festival going on in the only functional temple in the area.  Villagers nearby all come to the temple to celebrate.  Indian festival is very interesting. Hundreds of men and boys will pull a 6-7 stores high chariot down the street.  The temple elephant will also come out and give blessing to people.  You just have to drop coins into its trunk, it will give the coin to its master then laid its trunk on your head.

Indians are pulling the huge chariot Holy elephant is giving out blessing Temple kids' band

Hampi is very clean compare to other Indian cities.  There ain’t any garbage on the street.  The people are poor but they seem to live a happy simple life.  There are not many hawkers nor people asking for money.  The villages are generally very nice and kind.  Probably many of them never see foreigners, they want to take photos with you.  The little kids are especially energetic, they will follow you around with their curious little eyes.  Mark is trying to teach high-five to the little kids.  Maybe a few years from now, high-five would be the coolest gesture in Indian.

Villagers lining up for photo Kids with sling shots Rice field with straight stones Kids in a village

Hampi is the kind of India experience I was expecting.  Seeing the ruins of an ancient civilization and having close encounter with people living in peaceful poor villages.  I am glad I sign up for this trip, it is a pleasant surprise.  If there is one thing I have to complain, it’s the heat.  It’s over 35 degree under the sun in the afternoon.  We have to start our sight early in the morning and retire to the hotel swimming pool in the afternoon.

De-bug

Every night when we come back to the guest house after dinner, we have to de-bug. No, I am not meaning we are so hard working that we are still fixing our code at night. I mean de-bug literally. Since the beginning of this week, we have serious bug problem in the guest house. We are seeing 3 inches big cockroach every night. So far Mark is more popular among the cockroaches, 3 cockroaches have shown up in his room, only one showed up in my room.

The three cockroaches are murdered brutally by Mark. Mark seems to develop a very efficient and fun method to de-bug. First we need an old magazine and a Mag-Lite torch. Mark will use the magazine to play with the cockroach until it flips upside down. Then he will cover the cockroach with the magazine and pound it hard using the handle his torch. After pounding repeatably for 30 to 40 times, we have a very nice minced cockroach and cockroach juice on the marble floor.

Mark brutally murder  Mr. cockroach with his Mag-Lite. Victim number 1

Mark's 2nd victim. Victim number 2

The third victim. Victim number 3
Tonight we tried a different approach. Instead of killing the cockroach on spot, we decided to capture it. Capturing it is much easier than killing it, since if you don’t hit it, it doesn’t run away. You just have to cover it up with a food container and place the lid once it is inside. Now, we have captured a cockroach, but we have no idea what to do with it. There are a few suggestions: from taking it out and pound to its death, to flush it down the toilet, to drop it off from the balcon, to nuke it in the microwave. At the end, we decide to spare its life for another night and leave it on top of the table. I think Mark is thinking about keeping the cockroach as his pet, since he has already named the cockroach, Sammy.

We captured Mr. Cockroach. Sammy the cockroach.

Mark is saying hello to his new pet. Mark is saying hello to Sammy.

The Golden Compass 黃金羅盤

The Golden Compass Philip Pullman的「黑暗物質」三部曲是套讓我愛不釋手的小說。雖然這套小說的名氣不及「哈利波特」響亮﹐故事卻比後者更深刻感人。「黑暗物質」的主角是小 女孩﹐但它不只是兒童讀物﹐更可以讓不同年齡的讀者反思世界。「黑暗物質」第一部「黃金羅盤」搬上大銀幕﹐我自然很熱切期待著電影上映。原本期望電影改編 可達「魔戒」的級數﹐保留原著神髓又不失娛樂性。可是拍出來卻像「哈利波特」電影版﹐故事內容大致齊全﹐可是就是欠缺作品的靈魂﹐淪為徒具外表面的空殼。

「黃金羅盤」的背景設定其實十分很吸引﹐特別是對小孩子觀眾。那個世界人類的靈魂不是在腦內﹐而是以不同動物的形態倍伴在身旁。教會以神權政治統治那個世 界﹐任何對教會權威的質疑皆是異端邪說。主角Lyra是被大學校長收養的小孤女﹐在一連串偶然的事件推使下﹐她與她的靈獸展開橫跨大陸勇闖地極的冒險。在 旅途中以她為中心串聯反起教會勢力﹐有為尋找世界真理而挑戰教會權威的學者﹐有要拯救孩子被教會綁架去做實驗的吉甫賽人﹐有流亡荒野預言主角來臨救世的女 巫﹐還有很生鬼懂話說的武裝北極熊族﹐。

原著小說的故事驚險很有趣﹐改篇為劇本也很難失手。「黃金羅盤」在娛樂性十足﹐會說話的動物﹐飛天女巫﹐武裝熊大戰﹐無一不是吸引小朋友入場的元素。小說 在故事言語之間﹐隱含對宗教權威主義的批判﹐在電影版中則沒法表達出來。電影名稱是指看起來像黃金羅盤的真理探測儀﹐這個儀器可以解答任何人的任何問題。 問問題的方法很特別﹐需要依靠靈感解讀表面的圖案。在小說中主角學習如何和黃金羅盤溝通﹐一步一步理解她身處世界的秘密﹐與讀者一同解開平衡世界與塵之謎 ﹐是小說牽引讀者的一條重要主線。可是在電影中的黃金羅盤太易用了﹐講出問題答案就自動浮現出來﹐變成好像魔鏡一樣的普通魔法道具﹐失去原著中謎樣的魅力。

不論是電影還是小說﹐「黃金羅盤」的主題意識也像燈光招惹昆蟲一樣﹐引來很多來自宗教的批評。故事中的教會是百份百壞人﹐自以為擁有神賜與無上的權威﹐恣 意踐踏任何反對的聲音﹐儘管教會往往與真理背道而馳。故事很明顯取材自中世紀黑暗時期的教會﹐並無意影射現代經過文明洗禮的教會。小說中帶出歷史的教訓﹐ 可以作為對教會善意提醒﹐有則改之無則小心妨範。可是總是有些心虛的宗教團體自行對號入座﹐說小說是惡意攻擊宗教。其實那些感覺被冒犯的教會﹐會否正正就 如小說中的教會一樣﹐濫權力打壓異己﹐才會對小說如此敏感﹐反射性作出的自我保護的批評呢﹖

Hawkers in India

Hawkers in India are really annoying.  They swamp you at any tourist attraction, trying to sell you junks and spoil your traveling mood.  From our experience in Mystore, we learned that the best way to deal with hawkers is to ignore them.  We also found that my ignoring is more effective than Mark’s ignoring.  Somehow I sense there is a subtle difference between my ignoring than Mark’s.   As engineers, we have the observation, now we have to find a theory to explain the observation.  After some insightful discussion with Mark, we come with a even more effective method dealing with the hawkers.  To avoid hawkers, you have to think like a hawker.  To think like a hawker, you have to understand the Indian culture

First of all, let me explain why say NO won’t work.  When you are saying NO to the hawker, you are talking to them, you are more or less treating them in equal terms.  Even you are yelling at them, the fact that they got your attention is a signal to encourage them try harder.  When you ignore the hawkers, you have to ignore them like they are the untouchables.  They are no difference than a swamp of flies.  No only you have to ignore them, you have to show you are despising them.  Once you establish your superiority over the hawkers, they will feel shameful about themselves and stay away from you deal to their instinct in the Indian caste system tradition.

When you ignore the hawker, you should not ignore them passively.  If you show any sign of noticing their existence, such as change your path to avoid them, you are inviting them to swamp you.  Instead you should ignore them actively, make the hawkers avoid you instead of you avoiding them.  You should focus on your destination, walk straight ahead like no one is there.  Magically the swamp of hawkers approaching you will yield a road for you like Moses dividing the Red Sea.

In the civilized world, we teach our kids to treat every human equally.  Unfortunately, this ideology only works if every one is educated or at least know some basic manner.  It is sad the only way to deal with the street hawkers in Indian is to treat them like dirt.  At first I felt a little bit guilty about this.  Hey! What the hack!  The hawkers are so annoying.  They are not deserved to be treat like a human!

10 hours rule

Conference calls at night is one thing that makes working in Bangalore though. There is a 12 hours difference between India and Vancouver. When Bangalore in the morning, it’s the evening in Vancouver. It is necessary to keep in touch with the Vancouver team, however it is very important to pick the right time to have the meeting. You don’t want to have the meeting too early, since that’s the time you are having dinner. Restaurants won’t start serving dinner until 7p.m. or 7:30p.m., plus the time in transportation, a 9:30p.m. meeting is very tight. Having a quick dinner is NOT an option. Lunch at work is crappy, you need a nice meal at night to keep your sanity.

On the other hand, you don’t want to have meetings too late. You have to wake up at 7:30a.m. to come to the office for morning meeting. Late meeting cut into your sleeping time. The only sweet slot for having conference call is from 10p.m. to 11p.m. Last night we have a 10:30p.m. meeting that runs until 12:a.m., and this morning I have a 9:30a.m. meeting. I end up feeling tried the whole day because of lack of sleep.

We try to implement a 10 hours rule for the day. No, we don’t mean working 10 hours a day. We mean having at least 10 hours of rest between work. We should have 10 hours of rest from the moment we hang up the conference call at night until we get on the car and go to work the next morning. We need 1 hour to get ready to bed, 8 hours of sleep and 1 hour to get up and have breakfast, 10 hours is the barely minimal.

A few lessons I learn from Mysore

I have learn a few valuable lessons from my Mysore trip. I would like to share with anyone who may visit India. One a side note, I highly discourage anyone to visit India. There are much better places on Earth to travel than India.

The First Lesson: Stay away from the tourist guides approach you at any tourist attraction. Those tourist guides are hawkers in disgust, even they have whatever permission from the government. We learn it the hard way. In the first Hindu temple, we naively follow a tourist guide to see the temple without negotiate his fee first. We were charged a ridiculous fee of Rs600 per person at the end of a 30 minutes tour.

In the second Hindu temple, we learned from our experience, we negotiate the tourist guide fee Rs200 for two people. After the tour, he still want to ask for more. He said he brought us to see two temples, which is really two building of the same temple, so the fee should be Rs400 in total. Unfortunately, visiting Hindu temple require taking off your shoes. With our shoes as hostages, we agree to pay him Rs100 more at the end. In the Mysore Palace, we just say screw the tourist guides. I won’t remember whatever the tourist guide told us anyways. If I really curious about something, I can find the information in internet later. We just make up stories and tell each other when we see interesting things in the Palace. It is more fun and it’s free!

The Second Lesson: Stay away from Hindu temples. Taking pictures from outside is fine, but don’t bother going in. First, no photography is allowed inside the temple. Without the pictures you won’t remember what you saw. Second, they try to bless you by putting stinky stuff on your forehead. Luckily I avoided the blessing, but it took Mark quite some time to wash off the stinky stuff. Never mind they also ask for donation from giving you the blessing. Finally, they make you take off your shoes. Ok, if you ask people to take off their shoes, please keep the floor clean. If you can’t keep it clean, at least please keep it dry. The bottom of my socks become sticky brownish yellow after the temple visit. It’s kinda gross.

Take shoes off in some places, like Taj Mahal, actually make sense. No shoes allows for the sake of keeping the place clean or from damaging the floor are reasonable requests. Come on, the Hindu temple is no where near historical and it has a concrete floor! The idea of taking off shoes equals to respecting the God is simply stupid! If the shoe is dirty, the temple floor is even dirtier, the temple keeper must really disrespecting their Gods. On a second thought, why don’t they make people take off their pants to symbolize the respect to Gods? Then I search the Wiki and found out in fact some Hindu template actually ask you to take off your pants for entering the temple. Some one got to fix these stupid rules in Hindu temple, or people will start thinking Hinduism is a stupid religion.

On my way out, I talked to Mark that if one day I start my religion and build my temple, I will make much better rule than the stupid Hindus no shoes rule to symbolize the respect of God. In my temple, no watches or any time keeping devices is allowed. My argument has two folds. On the theory front, measuring time is disrespecting the God of eternity, who transcend above time. On the practical front, isn’t it nice to forget about time and the trouble of life inside a quiet temple where you can pray to God or meditate? Somehow Mark agree that the no watches rule is a good idea! Maybe I really should invent a new religion just like the Scientology guy.

The Third Lesson: The best way to deal with hawkers is ignoring them. Hawkers is every where in India and they are very annoying. They try to sell you junks at ridiculous price outside of any tourist attractions. We were swamped a hawkers after hawkers, and there are so many hawkers standing in front of us that they block our view to find our car. Refuse them politely is a waste of breath, since most of them couldn’t understand more sophisticate English sentence. You can say NO to the hawkers, but they keep following you until you almost yell at them. The best way is simply ignore them. No eye contact, not even saying a word, just pretend they don’t exist. That is the fastest way to stop them from bugging you.

Sometimes, the hawkers will ask you where are you from, trying to establish a conversation and then sell your their junks. If you want them to get lost, don’t answer. On the other hand, I find it kinda entertaining asking the hawker to guess where am I from. He just couldn’t guess it right even we gave him lots of hints. Canada must be a not very well known country in India. At the end, we buy some crappy postcards from him for Rs30 after he entertained us for almost 5 minutes. Well, the hawker is a kid, so we won’t feel bad making fun of him and teach him some geography at the same time. If the hawker is an adult, screw you, get out of my way.