Sunday, May 28, 2006

Dunno What

Haven't been able to blog for a while now ... so, there is so much to write about today that I decided not to waste time in thinking up a witty heading for the post and just get on with it... hence "Dunno What".

There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path ... Morpheous in Matrix. There would have been others both before and after him but am not in the mood to go into all that right now.

There is also a difference in having walked the path, and walking the path.

Today, being a Sunday morning, for a while, I walked the path again. I have walked it before, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is very easy to lose track.

It is a cloudy day here, a stiff breeze is blowing and I can hear the wind in the leaves of the tree across the road (what kind I cannot identify) as well as the fronds of the palm or coconut tree a little further. Mine is a quiet lane, once in a while, I can hear the honking of cars way off on the main road. Apart from that, the silence within is broken only by the sound of the ceiling fan and the occassional vendor ...

It is a feeling I call "hereness-and-nowness" ... the kind that you get when at a small barbers shop, with a tinny radio belting out some number and with the snip of the razors putting you into a hypnotic trance ... the heat from outside coming in once in a while ... the cool from the spray gun, the smell of cologne and musk ... when you are devoid of all thought, and all your filtering mechanisms are off .. and when you can be a part of the picture without thinking about it.

A lot like meditation. As humans, we would go crazy if we were to pay attention to each and every event that is occurring around us. So, we learn to filter out and prioritize. As a result, despite our five senses, we are always aware of just the filtered input. "Hereness-and-nowness" is about not having those filters on. Everything you hear, everything you see, everything you smell, everything you taste, and every sensation on your skin gets equal priority, and you are not thinking about it.

When you get into a mode like this, irrespective of how noisy it is, each sound is heard against a backdrop of silence. Like .. not even a ripple on water... like when one of those lil insects that walk on water touches the water ... the surface just bends ... it does not break.

Well, it is an amazing way to feel and I am glad to have been there today. I still am, a little, but while you are writing or focussing on some task, it tends to diminish the effect, unless you have practiced it long.

A lot has happened since I last blogged. The most remarkable is that two of my very good friends (who are married to each other) got their first baby. I had gone to visit them, and it something very significant for me.

Of all my friends, these are the first to have a baby ... the next generation. And I suddenly realized that for all the talk of making a better world for our future generations, human life is such that we generally beget the next generation while we are in our prime, fighting to make the world a better place for ourselves to begin with. What follows is a logical assumption that if what we are doing for ourselves is for our betterment, it stands to reason that it will be for the betterment of the next generation as well.

The journey as usual, started with an interaction with the meanest part of humanity .. the autowallah ...
The autowallah, quite unaware of how crappy it can be for a person who is about to embark on a longish journey, can only see that he can make a profit ogf 10 rupees by taking a longer route. Despite all my efforts to reach the bus stand before it started raining, he made sure that I got soaked and was poorer by some 80 rupees when I got there.

The bus, when it came was a sleeper. I walked down in the rain to take my seat. The driver looked like a taliban in hiding, and even as he examined my ticket, he showed me three new uses for a cell phone with an external antenna:
1. You can scratch your beard with it
2. You can dig your nose with it .. and finally
3. You can pick your teeth with it!!!

Duly enlightened, I took my berth ... which was one of the upper ones. The glass window curved up above me so that I felt I was in a glass coffin. The only other thing I remember about the trip is waking up in the middle of the night, to see great splats of rain falling on the window from an ominous looking sky that I could catch glimpses of with every flash of lightning ... a lot like Neo when he has had the red pill and is about to be unplugged. Mercifully, I hadn't taken the pill and woke up the next morning still well embedded within the matrix.

The next 3 days were as anticipated, fun and learning.
Uncle and I had a million discussions on everything from religion to reservations to buying a house. They would start early in the morning at the sitout with a cup of coffee, and our respective brands of cigarettes ... and the last would be late at night, well past midnight at the same place ...

There were an awful lot of parties to attend, and there was the baby. She was beautiful .. though I'll have to admit that everytime I looked at her, i felt the sense of responsibility that I talked about earlier ... what am I doing for the next generation ... I couldn't help hoping that some day, I would be an old man like uncle and then she and the others that are yet to come would be there to give me company and discuss the colonization of mars or whatever other matters are common topic of discussion then.

One memorable thing was meeting one of the rags-to-riches folks... an industrialist who had started with nothing .. neither a family, nor any money and had made it big. He was just starting a new venture into fertilizer .. and talking to him was an amazing experience. The farm house on the outskirts of the city, the imported wine, and the fried promfret helped too.

So, there we were ... and Industrialist (a chemical engineer), a high ranking government official, a mechanical engineer in the army, myself a computer engineer, Uncle .. a reputed dentist, and my friend's brother .. an mbbs in the making. The conversation will stay for a long time ..

Coming back to material stuff, my friend gifted me with a G-Shock. I was thrilled because like my zippo, it stands for something to me. Simplicity of design, and soundness of workmanship. These facets of work gain a lot of significance since I always feel an acute shortage of these qualities in everything around me... refer to my earlier essay on quality and I ...

Take for example this mornin .. when I decided to blog. I could not come online because my spike buster refused to work. Something as simple and basic as that, bought from a reputed shop in Bangalore, changed twice, and it still does not work. I wouldn't be surprised of the person who designs and manufactures it is a wannabe doctor who became an engineer because he felt that would get him more money faster. Just like love grows and spreads with the work we do unfortunately, the lack of it spreads too.

Well, so here I am banging away at the keyboard ... but I notice that it is 10 minutes past 12 in the afternoon ... as good a time as ever to start cooking lunch.

Feels good. Everything right now ... even the lousy autowallahs and the crazy spike buster manufacturer.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Just another Monday morning

Crazy way to begin the week!

I decided to go in for some insurance last week... don't really understand this stuff much, but I think the deal here is that if you manage to live long enough, you will actually get some dough for yourself .. and if you die, other people will have plenty of reason to celebrate.

Last night, the agent told me to be careful what I eat coz there'll be a blood test too .. please don't booze and stuff .. Kinda difficult when you have 5 bottles of sparkling white wine waiting on the shelf to be opened .. but then I aint suppose to open them anyways so that was ok.

He told me to eat non-oily, non-spicy, butter-less food. I told him, once you leave those qualifiers out of my food, I don't call it food anymore.

So there... One large iced (something like coffee) with ice cream on it, one large coffee, a couple of glasses of sickly sweet orange squash, chinese for lunch, and spicy, oily dinner with a dollop of butter to make it smell right. I am leaving aside the other snacks!

I hope some bloke at the lab does not have a heart attack while analyzing my sample.

As if to vindicate my lifestyle, the actual manual checkup including BP etc. went well, though I am overweight apparently (darn .. do they make these weight charts based on the anemic pop-artists?)

Anyway, first thing in the morning .. had to get up at an unearthly hour and head to the hospital. Landed up in the wrong place, and then managed to call up the wrong number and tried to convince someone that they were from the hospital and were supposed to provide me with the directions to reach there. Realized about 5 minutes too late that it was the wrong number (boy am i glad they tested mah blood and left mah brains alone!)

So here I am early on a monday morning, with burning eyes and a slight pain in the arm where I was pricked, hoping i'll at least have insurance if not some assurance that things will be fine.

Can you imagine a better beginning to a new week?
My problem is that I can!!!