Monday, July 23, 2007

goodbye (maudlin)

As lobo said, and I quote (in that irritating matter gesturing with both your hands in the air):
"just like forgive, forget and try again
goodbye is just another word ..."

(if you liked the previous song that I'd posted, lobo is another singer that you'd probably like listening to)

While I agree with him wholeheartedly on this and most other issues, it does not change the fact that I am terrible with goodbyes myself. As a result, I tend to avoid them altogether; Generally by staying in touch for ever and ever and ever or (as has been the case a few difficult times) walking out pretty abruptly on the person without ever bothering to establish contact again or allowing the other person to do so ... and in a very few instances just failing to show up at the farewell meeting as it were.

Why all this talk about goodbyes?

My cousin came over to my house this weekend so that we could spend some time together before he left for home. Having completed his study and qualified as a dentist, it is time for him to go home and take his first steps in the real world in the footsteps of his father (my uncle) who is also a doctor.

Somehow, every time I looked at him, it failed to register that he was Dr. so and so ... to me he is still the kid brother ... It isn't all rose tinted stuff. As kids, we often fought tooth and nail over inconsequential things ... but there you have it.

We flipped through some of the old albums together... Durga Pooja time photographs ... found us wearing our first fake plastic watches ... with the shirt sleeves pulled way up so that the photographer didn't miss this most important detail ... other pics in which one or the other of us had bared their gums in a wide toothless grin ... wearing a birthday hat ...

We remembered almost every photograph with the incidents leading up to it ... in those days cameras were still rather expensive and not every kid was allowed to handle one ... so every once in a while we bumped into a pic of one of us looking all grumpy as one of the older cousins got the honor of being the one behind the lens ... somehow, the photographer still remains as much a part of the photograph despite having not appeared in it ...

Then there is the occasional photograph where one of us did get to touch the camera ... and that picture is really frozen somewhere in the eye of the mind ... burnt into some microcosm of our brains and even today, as you look at it you experience the thrill that you did then when holding the camera ... and the only image you see is the one that you saw on that day through the view finder ... and all importantly called out "ready!!! ... say cheese!!!"

We spent the weekend talking some, watching movies, exchanging mp3s, watching old music videos... yeah we still get goosebumps from Metallica and the likes ... and eating of course ... what else can a couple of bongs do when they get together?

I realized that though my cooking has probably become better over the years, (you may choose to read that the outcome of the exercise has become more predictable), my appetite isn't what it used to be ... I realized with some consternation that probably for the first time, my younger cousin was probably able to eat more than me ...

We had breakfast lunch and dinner ... full blown that too ... over the last few years, thanks to the nature of the job, I am more used to one proper meal a day ... that too generally at the canteen ... which to be fair to the guys who sweat into it ... is mediocre at its best. Weekends, when given a choice between sleeping and eating, I choose to sleep ...

Anyway, on my way to office today I dropped him off near the bus stand ... gave him some gyan (big bro style) ... that pair of boots, I don't wear too well .. but then anyways ... and told him to drop by once in a while ...

But then I hardly ever get to meet my relatives ... they are too comfortably settled to travel all the way to meet me ... and I am too highly strung to spend a holiday that does not have some high serious unwinding involved ... so (if ever (though I must admit that sounds far fetched even to myself(but not all that far-fetched considering the fact that I last met my own brother about seven years ago))) it is as Shakespeare so aptly put it in Julius Caesar when Brutus says ... and yes I am wildly swinging my arms and clawing at the air again to indicate the double quotes:

"For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made."

turned on comment verification

I decided to turn on some word verification for the comments today.

What does this mean for those that take the time to comment on my blogs?

The only difference (as I understand it) is that you will need to type in some word that Google will throw at you like a doodle - just to make sure that there is a human at the other end writing out the comment. (You don't need to have a blogger account to comment.)

I am extremely sorry for this inconvenience. Every comment is valuable to me since it means that someone has taken the time not only to read what I write, but also, perhaps to think over it and then has made the effort to let me know what they thought. I really appreciate this a lot and making it even a little tougher was not an easy decision.

However, of late, I have been getting spurious comments from bots - very irritable.

The way I see it, these bummers have two options: They could either spend the money needed to create a better bot that can read doodles or they can spend money on getting a typist who is willing to go to different blogs and paste the same crap over and over again.

I am hoping more of "these bummers" will opt for the former rather than the latter ... wherein I can claim to have helped fund research on AI, handwriting recognition, pattern matching ... and a whole plethora of arcane terms that will serve to highlight my philanthropic and technically enlightened nature!!!

So, please bear with it (word verification for comments and my humility) and keep the comments coming ...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

thursday evening

unfortunately, writing about it on Saturday morning ... which means that you don't get to know what I was up to yesterday and today ... but life isn't fair ... so let's just get on with it.

smoking as we know is a bad habit - if it is a habit that is.
smoking by itself - like everything else - is neither good nor bad.
for me, it sometimes gives me an opportunity to observe things in the middle of an otherwise hectic day as we mindlessly or rather, shortsightedly scuttle about our daily chores in a rush to get over with the day.

so there I was, on thursday evening, after the conf call was done, wondering whether or not to and finally deciding to, and also deciding to walk down to the lake side that I mentioned in one of my earlier posts to support the needy while I was at it...

I walked out of the office to the warm glow of the sodium vapor lamps. Something felt different. I initially assumed that it was just me feeling happy about a fruitful day at work - when I got quite a bit done - and with a couple of hours left to go, there was the promise that it would end up even better ...

As the cars honked their way home like flocks of geese (but for the lack of formation), with beams on full, lighting up the scowls of the drivers as they turned the corners, I realized that the air was actually a little cooler, and perhaps it was because of the dust in the air, but it felt a lot like the onset of autumn ... an early september evening in Delhi perhaps ... when there is a slight mist in the air ... there are dew drops on the grass ... frost I think ... but either ways, it is wet to the bare feet and you can just about smell the earth because of the moisture... yes. That is why I was feeling good. Or maybe things looked that way because I was feeling good.

Well, I proceeded to walk slowly, thanking god for the space that he had given me to appreciate the beauty ... which most of the humanity around me appeared to be so oblivious to. I went to my favourite corner, looking out over the lake through the wire-mesh fence and watched the gentle ripples ... the wind wasn't too strong ... barely caressing the face ... just strong enough to prevent you from blowing smoke circles I realized. The sky was lighter too ... probably because of the smog and dust or perhaps because of the clouds (it rained cats and dogs later that night) ... but it looked pretty amazing ... like something surreal out of an alien landscape ... I could almost imagine myself to be on mars or some other planet ...

The lights were reflecting off the lake, I could see the line of headlights in the distance across the lake ... one white car with those irritating bluish-purple (UV?) lights actually looked good in the reflection.

The cigarette eventually burnt out. I stubbed it out and walked back. Happy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

burning time ...

It is amazing how we waste so much time when we have it ... and crib so much when we don't have any. If we were to go down the ages and look for the one resource that has probably been wasted the most, it wont be fossil fuels and the like ... it is time ...

Here is a nice song that sort of made me think of this:

You can check out the lyrics as well .... just google for "Live Like You Were Dying" ...

Monday, July 16, 2007

pottering about

watched the new potter movie. hopefully it will be the last ... there is such a thing as too much of a good thing i suppose ... the end of the movie looked somewhat contrived ... a little as though someone was working against the constraints created by matrix-III ... or maybe I have too much matrix on my mind. i don't intend to give the end away .. hence no spoiler warning...

otherwise a pleasant weekend... about as pleasant as they get these days ... a little short on food and sleep ... the rest was okay. but then isn't a weekend supposed to be about food and sleep? so perhaps, it wasn't all that okay after all. will need to work on that.

not much to say. unless it is to say that somehow, a chilly plant has grown in my back yard and it has actually started producing chillies ... somehow quite delightful to see it against the backdrop of the closely clustered houses.

after watching a program on nat geo, I now realize that the spiders that infest my house are perhaps more exotic and varied than I believe them to be ... which also brings forth the thought that it may not be good to be bitten by one of them ...

I guess the creator of spiderman wanted him to look good - which is why on 70mm or whatever - he spins his web from his wrists ... but then should such a transformation actually occur in real life, what are the chances that spiderman will have his spinnerets where most of the real spiders have them??? (uggghhh!!!)
(can't help wondering how many takers will be there for watching spiderman 4 if this subtle change were to be made ... I suspect spiderman 3 pretty much originated thereabouts so it shouldn't really be a big change anyway)

... this post is going places where it shouldn't be going :D

hyperactive imagination early in the week - accentuated by the aforementioned lack of food and sleep no doubt! ... have a good week ahead!

darn! just remembered another observation from the previous spiderman movie when his girlfriend gets to know that peter parker is the spiderman ... at this melancholy moment suddenly sirens can be heard in the background ... peter looks up with his large baleful eyes ... like a spaniel ... as if seeking permission to leave ... while also expressing his helplessness in case she isn't too okay with him going off ... and she says ... yeah try and beat this ... she says ... "go get 'em tiger"!

so now shouldn't the new jingle be ...
"tigerman! tigerman! ... at the scene. of a crime... he arrives. just in time ... "

And talk about being delusional ... fall for a spider and imagine it to be a tiger! honey were you thinking of tarzan in his leotards (and even those are spotted not striped!)???

Thursday, July 12, 2007


i don't have anything specific to write. i am not even sure that i want to write right now. so, mentally i am prepared for a lengthy post.

"You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts. And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips and sound is a diversion and a pastime. And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird if space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly" - Kahlil Gibran
Very true. And relevant to me these days.

Read this today on one of the blogs that I read pretty regularly. It is from the book - "the prophet". An amazing book. A must read. A must understand. A must remember too.

Every other one liner that has left a mark on me - for their truth as much as for the beauty of the phrasing - has been from Gibran.

"your pain is the breaking of a shell that contains your understanding" ... Gibran again touching you places that Michael Bolton asks permission for ("can I touch you there...")
What astounds me about his writing is the practicality of everything that he says. The lucidity with which he expresses himself ... and the fact that he can actually just sit somewhere and write it all down ...

I don't know whether it is true for others ... for myself, when I am knee deep in shit, I am as wise as Gibran ... or his prophet rather.

However, sitting at my desk over a cup of coffee, under a table lamp, with the fan whirring over my head and the mosquitoes buzzing around my ankles, the dense smoke from the incense sticks merging with the equally dense fumes from the cigarette and the aroma of the coffee bringing forth the signature essence that sort of screams "PEACE" and "CALM" and "HOME (alone)" ... I doubt if I could come up with such gems of wisdom.
Would you?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

generally rambling

The results of the poll showed that no one liked the new template. The only "yes" vote was mine :(
So here we are, with a new template ... and no more voting this time. This is wider - which is good for the kinda sentences that I write ... which go on and on and on ... with ellipses as the delimiter of choice, hyphenated with hyphens here and there - this particular statement being a example in itself!

The color is nice too ... light on the eyes ... the pic in the background leaves some to be desired ... but then you can't have everything i.e. be too lazy to design your own template and hope that a prefabricated one will have everything that you are looking for ... and then some more.

The weekend was good. Saturday was all about Kafka and Sunday was all about the Wimbledon Men's Final. Not much sleep and definitely short on food - didn't feel like cooking and of late, my favorite home delivery guy has been turning out turd from his pans.

The weather here is amazing ... cloudy ... drizzles once in a while for about 5 minutes or less ... there is a stiff breeze blowing at most times. The lake next to the cigarette-sellers has risen quite a bit (because of the intermittent rains I presume) and has lost its putrid smell as well. The water is still as green as ever ... a little darker than the Atlantic ... and definitely not as cold. It is quite mesmerizing to watch the ripples caused by the wind as it blows across.

Have been going there twice a day to watch the lake and to support the guy that sells the cigarettes. Tough life for him. I don't give him much business either ... any more. He stands with his back to the lake. I on the other hand brave the short walk to the lake just to see it.

Water ... reflections ... sigh.

Reading "The Metamorphosis" over the weekend hasn't helped ... or rather, it has helped. I am not really into existentialism exclusively ... but from whatever little I know of it, and other associated thought structures, I know that my beliefs cannot really be boxed in under one label at any given point in time ... and if you consider my views in time, I've probably had a finger in every pie as it were ...

It helps to remember once in a while some of the fundamentals that we tend to take for granted from day to day ... that our lives are always what we make of it for example ... (sort of) independent of the circumstances we are in. The book, has reminded me of things, because of which, though the number of hours in the day have not increased, the space that I have has.

This post is extremely disconnected ... but that is how I think as well perhaps. There are too many things that I want to write about as well ... and now that the frequency of my posts has decreased, it is exceedingly difficult to put in everything into one post while also doing justice to all the topics at hand.

Too bored to write any further.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

building downwards

The other day, I was watching some program on Nat-Geo or discovery - mega-structures - I think. They were showing the tallest structures in the world, and how, since 9/11, the structural designs are being reconsidered given that they need to be capable of withstanding huge impacts.

A few apartment buildings are coming up in my locality - which primarily consisted of row-houses till now. I don't know how legal they are, but this means that the remaining houses get less light and air. Not to mention the problem of people discarding trash from their balconies etc.

The first impression of US that I remember is just the feeling of wide open space. Living in a suburb of Chicago, I was delighted by the amount of sky I could see. No clutter of phone lines, power lines and myriad other cables with the occasional tattered old kite hanging off the wires; No skewed electricity posts held together by faded posters from a hundred past elections and a thousand past candidates - liberally sprinkled with excess lime and betel-nut juice if they happen to be near a pan shop. Just blue skies.

Recently, in Calcutta, I went to a layout where the rule is that no one is allowed to build higher than two floors - to ensure that all houses have enough light and air. They also have very stringent requirements regarding the amount of open space that must be left on each side of the house during construction. This was very refreshing, after having lived in Bangalore for a while, where people go as high as they want and build as close to the next plot as they can - any land you leave free might be encroached on by someone else - hence understandable perhaps.

Well, anyway, all these different things came together in a flash of inspiration this morning. Not sure what triggered it. Wasn't feeling too well, woke up late and was munching down some breakfast that I had thrown together, staring at the TV, when I realized that it would be nice if cities grew downwards rather than upwards. That would take care of all these problems.

I realize that building a mantle-scraper instead of a sky-scraper has its own problems. The cost of construction would be a lot higher, the water table for the area could get impacted ... and so on and so forth.
But think of it - even in the high rises, despite the windows, artificial lighting is generally used throughout the day. Most of them are air conditioned and the windows are not really meant for letting in air either. Most of them are death traps anyway, and being above ground does not really make it any easier to leave the building in case of exigencies.

So, instead of building high, why not dig deep?

All the soil that comes up from the excavation can be used for landscaping over the building site. So, the deeper a building goes, the higher the mound over it will become and this can be fashioned into a garden and landscaped etc to make the city look more beautiful.

We can have forests over the busiest parts of down town. Roads can be as wide as you want them to be - if we opt for more surface roads to clear the traffic congestion. All surface dwellings should be only one or two floors high at best ... only residential houses and such ... small shops perhaps ... or the syndicated ones that choose to operate from smaller outlets.

I don't know ... just a thought ... a lot of people have come and gone and if no one has thought about it or done it, I guess the associated costs must be prohibitively high or perhaps there are more problems involved than I am willing to consider.

It brings a lovely image to my mind though ... thousands of people working in one place ... but able to come out for a lunch break and enjoy pristine pure nature :)

A dreamer once... a dreamer always...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

another opportunity to exercise your franchise :)

Gone are the days when you had to brave the prevalent weather to reach a polling station ...
stand in a queue, figure out whether your name is on the voters list, hope that no one will come and mount an armed attack on the polling booth and pray that no one will decide to blow up a cycle bomb next to the queue in an effort to "undermine the democratic process" or to express their disillusionment with the current system.

All you have to do is sit in the comfort of your home ... or the hotspot at starbucks ... or whatever establishment you happen to patronize, come to my blog, look to the right side bar ... and vote :)

Yes ladies and gentlemen! Announcing the first poll on this site! Please feel free to vote.
One vote per person... and 6 days to go!!!

I really don't want to talk about a certain jail sentence of 2.5 years that was nullified by a certain president in a certain country here ... though given all the talk about voting and hence politics, one cannot help but think about it!