Saturday, 26 July 2008

Tape Trouble

I was studying in the 9th standard. For some reason I happened to go to a classmate’s house along with her & 3 of her friends. Actually Libby & I were not bum-chums or anything but we were in good terms coz we used to go to the same church. She, even at that age, was very stylish & hung out with the ‘IN’ group. Her dad was abroad & she had the latest gadgets, clothes, make-up, etc

We reached her house(I have forgotten the reason why I had gone over to her house that day) and nobody was in. Her mom had gone out & her younger sister was in school. All the girls were giggling & 1 of them produced a VHS tape “Tada……….”.
All the rest crowded around her wanting a piece of action & ofcourse catch me being left behind. I too wriggled into the middle to find out what the excitement was all about.

It was an adult comedy tape…….nope don’t remember the name now. I found myself standing alone now while the girls were crowding around the VHS player. I didn’t know what to do…….the fact that I was the lone Middle-Class 'item number' among the Richie-Riches, was glaringly evident.

One of the girls caught sight of me dithering near the door & taunted “Wanna leave?”

“Ofcourse not, whatever gave you that idea” I scoffed and plonked myself down on to the nearest cushiony sofa. I never backed away from a challenge then.

“Hey, it’s just a comedy with a bit of thrills” comforted Libby sensing my uncertainty.

“Ofcourse I know” I waved off her gentle reassurance and my qualms.

The front door was locked, curtains were pulled, snacks were brought in & we all sat around in the dim daylight and stared intently into the TV screen. Caught up in the excitement, I too was one of the gang now.

Voices & moans from the TV screen were punctuated by the nervous giggles & unsynchronized crunching of chips.

Half an hour into the movie, the current goes……..

“SHIT……..” yells Libby & rushes to the VHS and tries to retrieve the tape.

The rest of us look at her in shock. Then another girl hurries to help her. No luck. Except for me, everybody has a go at the VHS recorder……I didn’t touch it coz I didn’t have one at home.

Half an hour later found us sitting around looking at eachother glumly. The seriousness of the situation had set in. Libby’s mother was coming back in an hour’s time, the electricity was not back and the blasted tape was stuck inside the VHS player.

In the next ½ an hour all the 3 of Libby’s BEST friends left stating some reason or the other. Libby begged me to stay & ofcourse I did. We sat together & frantically tossed around various ideas to retrieve the tape.

The mother came back from wherever she went & looked at both of us quizzically. I felt the guilt was written in capital letters on my forehead. She sat down in the living room to catch her breadth & the current came back just then.
Even now the remnants of fear & shame can be tasted in my mouth. Just imagine being caught watching porn(well adults are not going to differentiate between adult comedies and porn) and that too by an aunty from the SAME CHURCH. She’ll tell my parents & she’ll tell other members of the church. Everybody will find out Nancy was watching crappy stuff on video(not for 1 moment did I term the fact important that her daughter was the main culprit). And my parents, they would hang their heads in humiliation. Oh the shame!!!!!!!!!!

Libby was frantically gesturing with furtive movements of her hand & eyebrows “Remember our plan?” she reminds me through dumb charades.

“Can I have some water, aunty?” I croaked out timidly.

“Ofcourse my child. Infact you girls must be hungry also. Let me fry the fish and we can lunch together” echoes aunty’s voice as she goes towards the kitchen.

I never felt less like eating in my entire life but acted most enthusiastic & followed her into the kitchen. There, as per the plan I involved her in a detailed discussion about the different ways fish could be fried. The idea was not to let her go back to the living room where Libby was trying to retrieve & dispose the evidence of our shenanigans.

Libby walked into the kitchen after some eons which in reality was a mere 5 minutes & winked at me. I collapsed into the nearest chair in relief & aunty rushed to me in concern. She thought my legs gave out due to hunger & hurriedly made a tall glass of cool Tang for me(I still remember:-)).

Now for the life of me I can’t remember what happened after that.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Trying to measure up......

Nancy announces grandly…….

.....Today I’m gonna write a ‘serious’ post. Nope, have no clue what the topic is going to be but whatever it is, its gonna be on some seeeerioussss stuff. I mean, every blog I go to, people are writing about
Global Warming,
Meaning of life,
Nuclear Power….hey!!! I copied and pasted about Rockets in my last post, I wonder if I qualify…..

Nope I haven’t forgotten…..the topic is on serious stuff. Ok so the topic is ummmm…..



I give up……….cant find a single serrrious topic to write about.

So I’m gonna borrow the topics others post stuff on and put in my 2 bits worth and in the process destroy whatever illusion all of you had about me:

Global Warming:
All I know is that glaciers & icebergs are melting at the poles and creating some kind unequal balance which inturn affects the Flora, Fauna & Mankind….and yes ozone layer…..that’s the word I was looking for.
So how good is my info?

Meaning of Life:
Ummmmm……errrr…………….(Nancy tries hard to formulate some meaningful stuff to write & impress the few who visit her blog)……ummmm…. Oh well I give up……….I’m just gonna hurry the kids into getting some kind of degree & marry them off to eligible guys as soon as possible….
……….& THEN go on a world tour to New Zealand with Better-Half & click lots of pictures.

Huh….isnt that the same as Global Warming.
Ok, ok….maybe it isn’t….hmmm ok lemme me see what I know…….Water & Greenery are getting scarce…so gotta plant lots of trees…..and…..and….Save the tiger…………. And avoid using Plastic and Recycle paper (Heeeheee quite impressed with myself…..didnt know I knew that much). And oh yes pollution……….lots of it hanging around in the air….so plant some more trees.

Here I have to admit….I don’t keep up with the times. Till a year back I had no clue what a USB stick was(the best part of it is that husband had 1 on his keychain for more than 2 yrs & I never bothered to enquire what it was…..ummm I thought it was a lighter or something......nope,he doesn’t smoke).
And I thought an I-pod was something to do with video games…..later I found out it played music……only when my sister told me she saw Taare Zameen Par on the I-pod did I know it played movies too.
Blackberry……..I know its a highly prized asset on many people’s list but till today I have no clue what makes it different from other phones….uhhhh it’s a phone, right?

Nancy is regretting starting this whole post but unwilling to leave it halfway….whatever else she maybe, she is not a quitter…..

Nuclear Power:

Hmmmmm…………America has it but doesn’t want others to have it or use it. I think that’s why they attacked Iraq.
NP if used has enough content in it to destroy the world. But what exactly it is and what shapes it embodies I have no clue.


Sigh………………Nancy knows that she suffers from the well-known malady “Frog in the well syndrome”.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Rocket Science simplified

continued from here.

My last post about rockets left evoked lots of responses:-D. I think Arunpk was the only one who gave an overall idea about the whole issue, all the rest had pieces of information & this made me determined to find out more (I also have to admit that I was so relieved to find out that there are others like me:-P), so here are 2 answers....

The Question No. 1 answer sort of just skims the surface whereas Answer No 2 goes into more details. Both were lifted from the net. Choose the one you want to read:-D

Question No 1: Where do rockets and spacecraft normally land when they return to Earth?

Answer: Expendable rocket boosters typically just fall into the ocean a few miles offshore from where they were launched and are left there to make new homes for bottom-dwelling sea creatures.

USA's NASA Space shuttle solid rocket boosters parachute into the Atlantic Ocean where they are picked up and reused.The shuttles themselves land at one of a few identified landing strips - I believe only Edwards AFB in California and a strip in Florida have actually been used.

Former Soviet and now Russian capsules parachute to a ground landing in either Russia or Ukraine.

Payloads from unmanned missions that return to Earth come down wherever the controlling organization plans (typically in or near the country that launched them).

Question No. 2 : I am not a young student, but a medical doctor. I have been teaching some stuff about space to my young daughter. However, I am unable to tell her how a rocket lands, reason being I myself don't exactly know. Could you please enlighten me? How do rockets land? Do they land at all or do they all burn up? Why do we see pictures of astronauts jumping from parachutes?

Answer: A major problem of an airliner returning to Earth is how to get rid of its energy of motion--kinetic energy--while still getting enough "lift" from the motion of air across its wings. If your daughter ever sat by the window of a landing airliner, she would see all sorts of auxiliary extensions of the wing sliding into place at the back of the wing--increasing air resistance and slowing down the airplane, and at the same time creating extra "lift" to hold the airplane up. The lift is much less efficiently produced than in ordinary flight, but that is all right, this unusually slow flight lasts only a short time and then the airplane is rolling on the ground.

A satellite in low Earth orbit must move at 24 times the speed of sound (or faster), which means its kinetic energy, the energy of motion, is at least 24 x 24 = 576 times the energy of something moving at the speed of sound, which is already more than the speed of an airliner. Weight for weight, a satellite has about 20-50 times the energy of a rifle bullet, enough to melt it, even boil it away. Getting rid of that energy safely is the main challenge in landing.

The astronauts returning from the Moon (at even greater speed) could not save their spacecraft but had to abandon it, and return in a "capsule" designed to stand a lot of heating, and meanwhile creating a powerful shock wave ahead of it, containing very hot air whose glow dissipated the energy. Then in the thicker atmosphere, at low speed, they used a parachute, and splashed down into the ocean.

Like the Apollo Moon ship, many research rockets are abandoned when their job is done--it would be too hard to bring them back intact. The space shuttle enters the upper atmosphere (which is very rarefied) sideways, with its bottom forward: the bottom has heat-resistant ceramic tiles, and creates a great shock wave (in the "Columbia" some tiles broke away and the heat destroyed the shuttle). By the time it reaches the denser atmosphere, it has slowed down to about half the speed of sound, and it can land like an airplane--still, much faster than a jetliner, requiring accurate computer control.

Burt Rutan's "Spaceship One" similarly used wings, first as brakes (turning them to create air resistance), then to land as an ordinary airplane. However, since it only reached about 3.5 times the speed of sound, this was not as great a challenge.

p.s: I guess it doesnt need Rocket Science to figure out why my pictures show rockets taking off & not landing;-P.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Rocket Science

Last evening the kids & I were just discussing about how their day went when Nikita asked me “Mama, do you know about Rockets?”

“Yes, I know” answered Mama absently.

“Ok then, we know how Rockets take off from the ground, right?” began Nikita.

“Yes we do” answered Mama, more alert now, wondering where the conversation was heading.

“So how do these Rockets land back on earth….the same way they take off, I mean with the pointed end towards the earth or the flat end on the earth?”

I was standing with my back towards her and my mind was working furiously.

I don’t ever recall wanting to know how the rockets landed back on earth. I just assumed that it landed like how an aeroplane landed……on its feet……to put it more simply…..on the flat end(yeah I know most of you are laughing:-P).

But now that the question was asked aloud my idea of rocket landing didn’t exactly sound plausible. There was definitely something more to this.

“You tell me, how do you think the Rocket lands?” Mama congratulates herself for avoiding the question neatly.

“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you, right” answers Nikita exasperatedly.

Clearing my throat, I told her that papa knows more about all these ‘technical’ things so we’ll ask him when he comes back from work.

“Ok then, tell me how babies are born” demanded Nikita.

"Yes, tell us how babies come out" chimed in Naina, demanding a more graphical explanation.

[Some of you must be thinking I’m exaggerating. No, no really no. We had another ½ hour discussion(most of which I spent ducking the “to the point” questions), which I’ll put up in a day or 2. Absolutely loaded with work today.]

Now I’m asking all of you to put your ideas down on “How YOU Think a Rocket Lands”. Don’t google the subject or anything to find out. Just write how you thought Rockets landed. Come on all of you, it will be good fun…….

Monday, 14 July 2008

Why Me???????????????

Why do the wheels of the trolley I pick always go in 4 different directions?

Why is that the OJ I order always have less sugar in it? And while I’m on the subject…..
Why do the waiters always present the bill to me?

Why does the management[at office] always look to me for clarifications?

Why do beggars always single me out for alms among hoards of people?

Why is that my freshly combed hair looks disarrayed even before I walk out of the front door?

Why do people insist on leaving their plants with me when they go on vacation?
Don’t they know I have 2 anti-social elements in my house? I’m a ragged mess by the time they come to take their plant back.

Why does my queue at the shopping mall loo move slower than the rest(imagine standing in the queue with 2 kids who are jigging up & down to answer natures call)?
Wah, wah Nancy your grouses are even starting to rhyme together...queue, loo

Why do I end up winning tea towels and entry passes to Aquaparks for ONE whereas everybody else get Plasma TV’s or 4 days-5 Nights getaways to Seychelles?

Nancy is lying flat on the floor beating it with her fists……

Why? Why? WHY ME?????????

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Hard-ly Working

From hardly working to working hard…..that pretty much sums up my situation at present.

Whats worse, the Manager has started coming to work on time thus curtailing all my extra-curricular activities.
Workplace is no longer an escape from reality or a place where I could catch up with my friends on the phone or net.

p.s - Nope, not ready to give up blogging.....just yet. But I'll will have to stretch my imagination a bit:-D. Any ideas, anyone?

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Wheel of uncertainity

Location: My Workplace
Time: Evening around 6.00pm after work

My office is located 10 minutes away from my apartment & so I walk it up most of the time. I generally leave the office building thru the underground carpark at the back. There is this cargo business located just opposite to our building where you find a lot of these guys from Kenya and Sudan, working there. They mind their own business most of the time but they know you exist & you know they exist coz you see them everyday at the same time.

One day I was coming out of the carpark and there is this 1 negro perched on his cycle bang opposite the road. After a cursory glance I turned right & proceeded down the road.
Some 1 minute later I could hear a sort of a low ‘shhhhhhh’ from behind me, like somebody trying to attract my attention in a sidey way.

Warning bells went off in my mind. But I did not turn to check who it was. I was certain it was the same guy on the cycle. Then another ‘shhhhhhh’. It was quite lonely road & it was also becoming dark. I did not panic but was not happy about the situation either. Soon I could see him from the corner of my eye. He was cycling verrry slowly in the same direction I was going, but on the opposite side of the road. And again “shhhhh……” . I took out my phone & dialled 999 for the police(no I didn’t press the green button yet).

I have to tell you guys that this country takes a very serious view of a complaint from a woman regarding matters like eve-teasing & harassment. The police monitoring that particular area will reach the scene of crime immediately(like in 3-5 mins) & haul the guilty off to jail without even hearing his side of the story. Actually that way, women feel quite safe in this country.

And so yes, I make a show of dialing the number. Ofcourse he can’t see the number but he can see that I’m dialing a number, right. And sure enough the next moment his cycle passes by

I smile triumphantly. Then I hear the sound again….shhhhhhh…..

Now I’m confused. I squint in the approaching dark at the African on his cycle more carefully. He is texting somebody on the mobile & so was cycling very slowly. And his cycle wheel was making this ‘shhhhh’ noise everytime it turned full circle.

To say I felt like an idiot is an understatement.