The Advisory Boar

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <>

Consumer Court: resurrection!


I went to the consumer forum today, expecting nothing more than the last rites for my case, considering the notice I received. But when I was called up, the president of the forum listed the case for arguments (i.e. to be handled right at the end). I mentioned the notice, but they said that since the bench had changed, the matter would have to be heard again. (The president was the one who was present when I first appeared, and not the one who admitted my arguments. The other two members were the same.)

When I was finally called up again, the Exide guy appeared once again to say that their lawyer was unable to appear, and asked for another month. I protested that the said lawyer had not appeared for four months, but they scheduled oral arguments for a month later. No problem, it gives me some time to prepare.

As I was leaving, the Exide guy ran after me and asked for my phone number. Why?, I asked. Our lawyer asked me to get it. He wants to discuss a settlement.

Oh, does he indeed?

Feathers, moult, and plumage


I gave a talk on feathers to the Delhibird group at the WWF auditorium, but the video and presentation are not yet available on this web site.

Write to if you're interested in them.

Consumer Court Judgement


At my last appearance before the district consumer forum, my oral arguments were admitted and I was told to expect a judgement by registered post (I called up a few days later to find out how long it might take—a month or more).

Yesterday, I received the following:

With reference to your complaint, dated … you are hereby informed/directed as under:

i) That the complaint is not maintainable before this Forum.

ii) To appear before this Forum on 27/1/12 11.00 a.m. to complete the formalities / to reply to some querries [sic].

iii) Your complaint has been forwarded to Distt. Forum 12/12/11 for further necessary action.

I don't understand how (ii) and (iii) can go hand-in-hand, or what further action may be necessary, but the "not maintainable" part is clear enough.

Perhaps I will be told the rationale on the 27th.

Newton's laws of motion


Ammu is studying Newton's laws of motion this year in Physics, but she can never remember what the three laws are (partly because they don't seem to be stated clearly in her textbook).

I learned the three laws from a very old-fashioned British textbook that belonged to my great-grandfather—long before I had internet access—so it was a treat to be able to look up Newton's original formulation in the "Philosophiæ naturalis Principia Mathematica" on Gutenberg. After the preface and a series of definitions followed by explanatory notes, the laws of motion are presented in a section entitiled “Axiomata sive Leges Motus” (“Axioms; or, The Laws of Motion”).

Lex. I.

Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare.

In other words, “Every body perseveres in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless a force upon it compels it to change that state.”

Read more…

More Richard's Pipits


Last christmas, I saw a number of Richard's Pipits at Dadri. Yesterday, on a trip with Ramit and Ammu, I was pleased to make their acquaintance again. We had multiple good views of at least one bird out in the open, and saw and heard a few others in flight.

I noticed this time that, at a distance, the streaking on the back can be more obvious when the bird is running with its head down and body held parallel to the ground than when it stands upright, something that can be seen briefly in this video:

Perhaps when the bird is in its characteristic upright posture, the back feathers are pushed together, and the streaks are shifted out of alignment?

Apart from the pipits, the highlight of the morning was watching three young Peregrine Falcons hunting waders and waterfowl over the lake.

(Meanwhile, a number of Blyth's Pipits have been seen in Karnataka this year. I wonder if there are any at Sultanpur yet?)

Consumer Court: waiting for judgement


My date for oral arguments in the case against Exide was the 10th of November (yesterday), which was a national holiday. I called the consumer forum to find the revised date, and they asked me to appear today.

Exide was represented by the same chap, with the same story: their lawyer was ill and could not attend. I had expected them to try to file written arguments, but they didn't have any. Fortunately, the two judges present were not inclined to postpone matters further. They asked me to state my case, which I did; and they put it up for judgement.

Now I have to wait for the judgement to reach me by post.

Typing faster


I learned how to type by trial and error on my mother's green Olivetti typewriter, and after a few years of using computers, my four-fingered technique served me well enough that I didn't think about learning how to touch-type "properly".

Over the past few months, however, I've tried to use more fingers efficiently, so that I don't have to move my hands as much. I adopted the conventional finger positions for a week, found they didn't suit my big hands (reaching non-alphanumeric keys on the keyboard was painful). Now I've found a more comfortable position, and I can type accurately and reasonably fast (though not as fast as before) without hurting my hands.

Unfortunately, the price I paid was in losing the ability to fall back to my earlier technique, and the loss of speed—though not an impediment in practice—has rankled.

Today I discovered the perfect cure: ztype

This is a "Space Invaders"-style game where you have to type falling words to eliminate them before they reach you. It has a few annoying bugs (sometimes the word you're typing is hidden behind others), but it's extremely addictive nevertheless.

Mangar banni: bird checklist


Mangar is one of many small villages nestled in the Aravali foothills near Delhi. In a region that is under increasing pressure from real estate development, Mangar is especially interesting because it adjoins a banni (sacred grove) that represents the largest remaining contiguous unspoiled Aravali habitat. The residents of Mangar and some neighbouring villages understand the value of this grove, and are exploring ways to secure lasting protection for the area.

The banni is important for many reasons, including its cultural significance, being a valuable groundwater resource, and being home to many species of trees, animals, and birds. I am studying the bird life of the banni and the area around it as part of an effort to establish its biodiversity value.

The banni comprises various distinct kinds of habitat, each with its own characteristic bird life. This is a work-in-progress checklist based on two visits to the area in September 2001, and will be refined as more data are collected. Considering the extent and richness of the habitat, there is no doubt that subsequent visits in winter and other seasons will add to this list significantly.

Read more…

Mail to the Boar


A letter arrived by email today addressed to "Dear Advisory Boar" and asking for advice about working a freelance job while learning how to program.

The boar felt oddly pleased, and duly rendered the advice sought.

Oral arguments adjourned


Today's hearing at the district consumer forum in my complaint against Exide was for oral arguments. Unfortunately, only one judge out of three showed up, and no quorum was possible while hearing arguments, so they decided to adjourn all arguments to early November.

(Exide didn't show up to today's hearing, at least not by the time I left. So they don't know the date of the next hearing.)