Friday, November 17, 2006

Filler - 1

  1. You know what's the best part about this whole globalization thing?* It shifts the focus from earning a living to actually living. People have the wherewithal to try and answer questions other than those associated with basic existence. And that can be bad as well. Because knowing what you should be doing, and can actually be doing, but not doing does little for the self-esteem. I know very little about History, but I would imagine that a correlation might exist between significant economic progress and cultural revision (both with individuals and societies).
  2. This is simply brilliant. All I need to do is to start writing.
  3. Recently I got into an argument about taste. My opinion is that a person's taste evolves, and just because something (which is actually good) does not appeal to one's taste, it doesn't mean it's not good. It just means one is not at a stage where one can appreciate it. This is a very dicey argument to make because you then risk being labelled a culture snob. However, the point I wished to make is that art merely serves to sensitize the soul and elevate one's sensibility, and that as one's taste evolves, one is able to appreciate the best in art. More importantly, I was trying to convey that taste in art, like taste in anything, has both an objective as well as a subjective side. The subjective evaluation is a reflection of oneself, rather than the art piece itself. So, when people say something is not good because they didn't like it, it says something about them rather than what they are talking about. The objective evaluation, on the other hand, is what informs about the art itself. And as one's taste evolves, the objective and the subjective tend to merge. Like I read elsewhere, a good critic's subjectivity is his objectivity. So, why am I saying this? Because I just read someone else say the same. And I have to say, I agree.
  4. The right brain-left brain fallacy and the myth of prodigy (found this link on S Anand's wonderful website).
  5. Of late, I've had a need to upgrade my Mathematics knowledge, which means refreshing my basics and learning advanced concepts. As a result I have to admit (and I never thought I would say this), Mathematics is beautiful, and I'm beginning to suspect it might just be the mother of everything, just like what my teachers told me. There, now you can see what I meant by taste. This realization, I realize, is a significant one. Throughout life, one's personality tends to evolve (just like taste and everything else). But sometimes it is not possible to be conscious of this evolution. However, now and then something remarkable pops up and you know what you've become compared to what you thought you were. That said, I like what I'm becoming :P
  6. What are the keys to being successful? (By successful I mean doing what you want to do in the best way possible; no connotations of fame or popularity) Just direction, discipline and motivation. I have the direction and the motivation now. Just need to be disciplined. But then that's easier said than done.
* - Of course, I'm being tongue-in-cheek.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

But men get lost sometimes
As years unfold
One day he crossed some line
And he was too much in this world
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore

In a New York Minute
Everything can change

-- New York Minute, Eagles

Camus is so irritating (yes, we're on first name basis now). Because he says stuff like "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal" and "It is normal to give away a little of one's life in order not to lose it all". And you hate him because you realize how bloody right the guy is.

Sometimes life is about forcing yourself to wake up every morning and saying "f**k you" to every meaningful thing that happens to you.

It's a friend's birthday today.

It's always that way with me. I wake up and I know it's someone's birthday that day. Just that I don't know whose, and I spend the day frantically trying to remember. Sometimes I get the feeling a couple of days earlier and I keep telling myself not to forget and end up forgetting anyway. This happened quite recently too.

Anyway, I've known this guy for, what, eighteen years now. We were buddies (note the past tense). We
spent Sunday afternoons playing one-bounce cricket in the backyard with a broken bat and my dog. We traded answers inside the exam hall, exchanged cricket cards outside. We stayed a bicycle ride away. His friends became mine. Mine, his. Weekends were spent at his place or mine with sumptuous lunches and goodbyes that lasted half an hour spent chatting at the gate. We once stumbled on a girl changing clothes in the school staff-room (she's a model now, so you can draw your own conclusions), swore each other to secrecy and then boasted about it anyway. My brother taught him chess. He taught me Hindi. I taught him how to fly kites. We were, what's the word, close.

And then things happened.

We grew apart. He switched schools. We grew further apart. He went to college in Coimbatore and I stayed on in Chennai. I became a city-slicker while he picked up the rural lingo. He wrote me during the first year (note - wrote, not emailed). I didn't reply. Every time he came to Chennai during the semester holidays he would come visiting, play chess with my brother, exchange insults with my sister and later, all of us would stand chatting at the gate after saying goodbye half an hour earlier. And he would go away to Coimbatore. He would have been the perfect friend. If I would let him be, that is, but then I guess I never let my scars heal. Second year, third year, and we continued to grow apart. I emailed him once asking how things were. And I felt stupid about it afterwards. I shifted to a place near my college, and his visits grew less frequent.

He was a star at college while I brooded my way through four years of engineering. Final year, and campus recruitment. An IT company with a three-letter abbreviation for a name took him in, while I chose to work with a firm few had heard of. He got high on code and I was confused. His mother probably wanted for him to earn a lot of money, buy a car, build a house. My dad just wanted me to do my thing.

The abyss widened.

I went to see him once during the break before my finals -- he was in Chennai for a few days then. His dad had bought him a computer and we ran amok installing all kinds of games. I gave him Commandos-2 and showed him how to get past level 4. We went around visiting other friends I had lost touch with (he hadn't) and played a game of cricket later in the evening. Before I left we planned another meeting when we would also go visit our school.

We've seen each other twice after that. In the last 30 months.

He called me recently. He had just returned from an onsite visit where he had torn a ligament in his knee playing soccer. Seven weeks of hospitals and ortho specialists. Said he was reporting to work the next week. We chatted briefly and I said I'd call him. I haven't.

And today's his birthday. Damn.

I wish I could call him. Wish him a birthday and chat like nothing's changed between us. But then I know I can't. Because it's different now. Or maybe, I want it to be different. Whatever.

I wish I could tell him I'm no longer the guy who took pleasure in pipping him at school. Wish I could tell him I don't see the point in cricket anymore (the Windies won! Did they hammer SA or what? Go Gayle Go!). Wish I could tell him news of his onsite visit and snaps in front of the Big Ben are boring. That I'm least bothered about what his sister did at school. That despite everything else, his uncle's death still leaves me sad -- the one person in his family who was 'different'. That my parents and siblings still adore him, but that he doesn't occupy my mind-space any more. That an MBA may not be the way I want to live my life, although he thinks it's his life's purpose. That I don't agree with his definition about anything, including "social life" and "friends circle".

I wish I could tell him I don't relate with his way of life anymore, and that we now move in different circles which don't intersect.

That it takes so much energy to be normal when I'm talking with him over the phone,
trying to be someone I'm no longer in touch with myself.

That the memory he has of me is what I have to
give away in order not to lose what I have left.

That I still consider him one of the few good human beings I've known, one of the few genuine people I know.

That I want it to be on record somewhere that I wished him -- Happy Birthday KK.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I just had the greatest insight of all time a few days ago.

Damn ... all those days of browsing through blogs with my body positioned strategically so that nobody could see the monitor, constantly expanding my peripheral vision to check if anybody was checking me, minimizing and Alt+F4-ing every time someone sneaked up on me ... Damn. I didn't know.

I didn't know that people think you're 'reading' when you're actually blog-browsing. Think of it. There's (mostly) no advertisement on the page, which means you're not putting that credit card of yours to good use. No HTML crying out 'Inbox', which means you're not checking email every 5 minutes. No scantily clad women leaping out of the screen, which means you're not doing anything you're not supposed to be doing. You don't have headphones plugged into your ears, neither is there a video streaming on screen. There's just text, text and more text. Of course, they think I'm 'reading'. They think *snicker* they think you're updating your knowledge (yeah right), reading stuff from multicoloured websites (A colleague actually asked me, "What's with that black coloured website you keep reading?").

Damn. Well, better late than never.

So what do I do with my newly found knowledge? I play it up, of course -
  1. So I'm reading about how a friend finds religion and God fascinating. I notice this guy peeping at my screen from his desk. I lean back from the monitor, make sure he gets a good look at the screen. At this distance, he can only see a lot of blue, green and yellow, and of course, dense text. He goes back to work. I should ideally cut my scene here. But I don't. I lean back into the chair, do something intellectual (like scratching my head), look away into the distance, make intellectual noises (like 'Hmmmmm' and clucking my tongue), open my notebook, look at the screen, and write today's date in a page already filled with a lot of dates, and get back to my 'reading'. This way everyone within hearing distance knows I'm engaging in something productive.
  2. So I'm a little sad that another friend will not be updating his blog for the next three weeks. And I spy my teammate typing code furiously, and glancing at me now and then. I look at her and say, "You know it says here MATLAB has an auto-code feature which is as good as hand-coding ... it could put you ... I mean ... us ... out of work". She looks at me, and gets back to work as if nothing happened. And then says, "Send me the link." Argh! Oh well, I do know there's a link somewhere. I just have to find it. Meanwhile, teammate is suitably impressed about my 'reading'.
  3. So I was reading how it's not just me who's jobless enough to talk about curd rice on the internet. I look at the time. 3 'o' clock. I open my mailbox, navigate to the newsletters folder, open a latest one, pick a link making sure it has the words "embedded" or "automotive", send out an email to all my teammates with the link saying "makes for interesting reading". And I resume pondering about how jobless people are to talk about curd rice on the internet. The next day, I get replies saying, "Fabulous link! Thanks for sharing :)". I'm wicked, I know.
So there, feel free to use these tips at work. They work for me. No money-back guarantees though.

Of course, the network administrator sees everything.

PS: Sometimes, I suspect the only reason why I don't get fired is a little similar to this.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Maybe it wasn't your fault, maybe
it wasn't mine either.

Maybe, one day, the dress will fit,
and it won't lie crumpled
in a corner of the cupboard.

Maybe, one day, I'll fit in
with your crowd, and you'll
learn to leave me alone at times.

Maybe, one day, the coffee
will taste better, and the sports
pages will make more sense.

Maybe, like you said, the sky
is indeed schizophrenic,
just like all of us.

Or maybe, like I said, he can't
decide what colours to wear,
just like the rest of us.

Maybe, like you said, every door
is to be opened, looked inside,
you never know what you'll discover.

Or maybe, like I said, some doors
are kept closed for a reason,
sometimes you shouldn't discover.

Maybe, one day, we'll go walking
and I'll fall in step with you,
an unforced rhythm to our strides.

Maybe, one day, I'll remember
the important dates, and you'll
not forget the important words.

Maybe, one day, we'll dream
the same dream and decide
to watch the same channels.

Until then, let's keep trying.

Monday, October 16, 2006

On printers and other problems

Not so long ago, my workplace was a 15 ft X 10 ft lab crammed with 10 Engineers. And every time one of us needed to take a print-out or a photocopy, we had to walk up to the first floor where we had a printer and a xerox machine.

All of us in the lab were scared stiff of the printer, primarily because even though it was brand new, it had this proclivity to jam and give out noises like it was a schoolgirl and we were molesting it ("We just want a print-out dammit!"). So much so that if one wanted to use it, we would often take a colleague along for moral support ("No! I didn't touch anything! Ask him!"). To make matters worse, the bloody machine was located in a particular section of the Product Engineering department where all the senior engineers sat. And the last thing any of us wanted was to be stared down by ten pairs of eyes wondering what we were doing poking our heads around the printer's private parts.

Anyway, one day, being engineers, we found the user manual. Of course, some sadist had stashed it away in a corner of the store-room, but we found it. And that was that. Under the pretense of working, we spent the better part of an afternoon mugging up the "troubleshooting" section (part of the "learning curve" you see). The world was suddenly an easier place to live in.

The point of this post being, fear is like that printer.

There's a user manual lying around somewhere.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Euphoria and Melancholy

Note: I have zero knowledge about music. Will be grateful for any errors that are pointed out. Thanks.

Not "learning" music is something I regret a lot. Something I intend to put right someday. But then I guess I never was the musical type when I was a kid.

So anyway, having an interest in music and there being not a lot to choose from, film music occupied -- occupies -- a lot of my "music time". The following clips are two of my favourite pieces of Tamil film music.

But if you're going to hear them, I suggest you get a pair of good headphones/earphones, crank up the volume on the PC and the headphones, and really listen. The effect is totally lost on speakers.

Now that that little technicality is out of the way, here you go -

powered by ODEO

The piece, of course, comes from the song "Rakkamma", in Mani Ratnam's movie Dalapathi (1991), composed by Ilayaraja.

And it's the closest I've come to finding a musical meaning of the word 'euphoria'.

The guitar starts the piece and sets the raw tone and mood that then continues till the end (Again this is where I suck. Is it the guitar? I'm sticking with guitar for the rest of the piece. Let me know if I'm wrong). The sound has this unoiled quality to it (you can actually hear it whining as it strains) just to make sure that the perfection of the violin isn't overshadowed. I particularly like the way the guitar hovers in the background all throughout, keeping pace, taking over after the violins have climaxed. Brilliant.

Euphoria is never an abrupt emotion. It builds up. Slowly. And one is aware of this process of building up. Almost as if joy keeps increasing in tiny little increments and suddenly everything boils over and you're drowning in euphoria. Like how the first four in your innings is encouraging, the second reassuring, the third convincing, the next dizzying and before you know it, you settle into the zone. Euphoria is never gentle, always dizzying, always aggressive, leaving you on a peak you are reluctant to leave.

That piece of music is precisely how euphoria should feel. First the modest guitar, establishing base camp. Then the two violin strains -- the first one steps up the tempo, you're climbing the first of those steep ravines, gasping for breath. And just when you sit back to get your breath back, Ilayaraja nails you with repetitions, each more violent than the one before, the crescendo taking you higher and higher up the precipice of joy, finally leaving you with the guitar again as you plant your flag at the summit, all sweaty from the climb, looking down superciliously, condescending at mortals wallowing in misery. And you feel like saying, "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

In fact, the song, the lyrics I mean, not only matches the music fabulously, but also the situation in the movie. Mani Ratnam is indeed a master in using the song as a narrative device.

Anyway, after the euphoria of Ilayaraja, Rahman -

powered by ODEO

That piece is from somewhere in the middle of the song "Chinna Chinna Aasai", composed by A.R.Rahman, from the movie Roja (1992).

I've always felt that there was more pain in Rahman's music than in Ilayaraja's. To me the latter always strikes a hopeful chord even in his saddest pieces. Maybe it's their personal philosophies, Ilayaraja making his name in the '70s - '90s, when life was probably simpler and hope kept people going, while Rahman is a product of the global '90s, when futility and hopelessness came to stay.

Anyway, I digress.

The song itself is an all-time favourite, both for the nostalgia that it evokes and the simplicity that drips from the words. The song was meant as a girl-growing-up piece in the movie, a supposedly cheerful, pastoral composition. But somehow it's never been that for me. It's nothing if not melancholic. Every little image the words draw up, every little note in that song -- especially that interlude in the clip above -- leaves me sad. I guess the past makes us all sad in one way or the other. And if you notice, there is this clear dichotomy between the video and the words. The video shows the girl doing everything she talks about in the song, but the words have this "I would love to do this, but then ..." feel to them. Almost everything that is sung about is frustratingly out of reach, almost as if the protagonist is being prophetic, proclaiming "This too shall pass."

Back to the piece. I absolutely love the transition that it brings about in the song. Until then, you're there, enjoying the words vicariously, and then Rahman chips in with his absolutely heart-wrenching "Elelo", and you know he set you up. Almost like how the sanguinity of childhood sets us up nicely for the bear-trap that adulthood really is. You want it, you got it. I can almost hear A.R.R. chuckling, 'There, so you thought this was another of those everyone-gets-what-they-want pieces eh? Take this!'

The transition starts with a kind of "stick music" (please tell me what instrument this is! I have no idea what to call it) accompanied by sounds, I imagine, of stars twinkling. That's where Rahman invites you to take this brief ride on a magic carpet, asking you to leave behind the idyllic world suggested by the lyrics. He then shows you sweeping valleys, broad, meandering rivers, brooding hillocks, all coloured in the scarlet dusk of twilight, cloaked with the sadness of the evening, the earthy drum and the rueful veena pinning you firmly to the ground, not letting you escape to the skies. And you begin to realize the enormity of everything about you. And of course, that solitary fisherman singing "Elelo", the perfect metaphor for Life itself.

And then, suddenly, smoothly, seamlessly, just like how it all began, Rahman drops you off right back where he picked you up, and leaves you to enjoy Vairamuthu, a mischievous glint in his eyes as he speeds away on that carpet of his.


And to think, it was his first movie. Oh, well ... I'm probably over-analysing as usual.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Untitled - 3

an apple on the table.
round, and not too much;
red, and then not too much;
and left to rot.

a puddle of muddy rain water.
devoid of velocity,
smug in its pothole.
'Careful'. Step in - slosh! -
with pants pulled up.

a story in the sunday paper.
sad and short,
in black and white.
to be continued
next week.

a window over a cerulean ocean.
an empty home inside,
pictures afloat on the alabaster walls.
a curious breeze,
and the drapes billow.

a million images
play merry-go-round
inside the chamber of my heart.

their wispy fingers
teasing emotions from
the veins in the walls,

their little feet testing the floors
for strength,

and I know I am
apple, puddle, short story and window.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Camus and Einstein

In The Myth Of Sisyphus, Albert Camus says that suicide is the only really serious philosophical problem. True. But then it's based on the fact that the scope of Life -- as we know it -- is defined by Time. Would suicide still be the only philosophical problem if we had infinite time? I know all this sounds ridiculous and childish, this gibberish about infinite time, time itself having as much meaning as we give it. But it's a thought. And I guess Einstein might have had the same thought. To me, both -- Einstein and Camus -- were trying to answer the same question. In their own terms. One came up with Relativity. The other, Absurdity.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Round 1 (Knock-out)

6 - 8; 3 - 2 (7 - 7); 4 - 0 8 - 1.




Round of 5 (League)

Match 1

0 - 3 (7 - 7); 8 - 3; 8 - 3.


Match 2

8 - 2; 8 - 5.


Won both the singles and the doubles. Badminton tournament at work.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

err ... Haiku?

billboards illuminate
a neon night.
the city sleeps.


unpressed uniforms
on a monday morning.
wrinkled dreams.


summer load shedding.
dinner on the terrace
with the moon.


sparrows nest on the roof.
wheels rumble
through the station.


before sunset,
writing love letters
beside the lake.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


He hurries through the narrow alley, checking his watch every ten paces. The downpour had started earlier that evening, and was continuing to thrash the city, rattling its roofs, spraying clean its corners, inundating the roads, bringing traffic to a crawl. He curses himself for not leaving office earlier. Now he would have to come up with a strategy to pacify her. There's a cheap bouquet of red roses in his hands, bought from a hawker on the pavement just outside the station. He adjusts his shoulder-bag feeling the strap biting into his skin.

Suddenly, two men spring from an alcove.

He looks at them. Oh Lord! No ...

Even as he's sizing up their masked faces, he reaches inside his bag, hoping to find something he can use. The steel of a knife flicks menacingly into life.

"Haath oopar!1", one of them commands.

He looks at them both. Average height, 5 foot 5, shorter than him, clad identically in blue jeans, tight T-shirts and cheap leather boots. He stares at them. But the rain's making things difficult. He can't make out their features.

"Haath oopar!", irritation in the muffled voice now.

He pulls out a magazine, rolls it in his hands, and lunges at them. They weave away and one of them swings a punch at him.

A white bolt of shock jolts his body as the fist connects with his jaw. He's thrown off his feet and collapses on the street in a heap, the bag flung off his shoulders. He sees stars in front of him. The shock subsides, and a blue wave of overwhelming pain floods his face. Blood swirls inside his mouth, its metallic taste strangely soothing. He debates getting up and fighting. But the pain is persuasive, the risk foolish. He stays down.

The guy with the knife stands over him, while the other runs over to the bag, checking its contents. Cell phone, lap-top, digital diary, food coupons ... there's too much maal 2 in it. They decide to take the bag.

He sees it late, and doubles over as the foot swings into his groin. His stomach churns as the pain knots him up. They pound him with their feet, like kids fighting over a football. He curls up like a foetus, protecting his body, but they continue to kick him methodically, in his stomach, in his kidneys, in his back, on his head, till he's not moving any more. They turn him over to take a look at him. He keeps his eyes closed, pretending to be unconscious. He feels hands reaching into his trousers for his wallet. They kick him again. Once. Twice. He hears them walk away. He doesn't open his eyes fearing they would come back if they saw him conscious.

He counts to thirty before opening his eyes. He looks about from where he's lying. There's nobody around. Not even a dog.

He rolls over carefully onto his back and looks at the sky, assessing his body, the rain stinging his eyes. His jaw feels like it's come loose. His body is soaked with pain. The pain is a strange creature to contend with. As long as he stays still, it's dull and placid. But the minute he moves, it streaks violently through his muscles, leaving him gasping for breath.

He chides himself for jumping off the bus and taking the short-cut. Now look what happened. Damn. Never ever take a short-cut, sermonizes a part of himself, a vestige from his middle-class upbringing. Hell, it's not your fault. At this rate, there will be no roads to walk on. It's not your fault, rationalizes the finance professional in him.

He waits a while before deciding to move his body. Leaning his elbow on the road, he props himself up. The pain is agonizing, and there's only so much he can gnash his teeth. But he discovers that if he gets through the first few seconds of pain, it's not that bad. He's grateful he's obese; the fat seems to have softened the blows.

The reality of the mugging sets in slowly. This is not supposed to happen to me. He always thought people who got mugged were really stupid, stupid people who couldn't take care of themselves. He thinks about his assailants. He wonders how long they had been waiting there. Or did they get into position on seeing him stroll down the alley? Damn, they chose their spot well. And talk about timing! Smart chaps, he muses ironically.

He looks at the tall, narrow buildings lining the alley. He wonders if there's anybody inside.

"Arrey, koi hai...?! 3", he calls out, more out of hope than out of reason.

"KOI HAAAAIII?", he feels his voice quavering with the effort, his body shivering in the rain.

No answer. No movement from inside the curtained windows. He realizes the futility of his situation. Mugged, beaten up, without a paisa on him. And nobody to help him out. The world can be a testing place.

He ponders going to the police.

Too much of a hassle. Besides you can't give them anything to work with. You have no idea what those guys look like ... maybe
you should have fought them out. What good are you if you can't fight for yourself? If you can't protect what you've earned?

And get myself killed? No way. Not worth it.

He gets up on his feet cautiously, buckling to his knees more than once in the process. The pain is now numbing. He's no longer aware of it. It's like wearing a hat -- you forget you have it on after a while. He loosens his belt and lets his shirt tails hang out uncouthly. The rain feels nice on his face, and he loosens his tie to let it trickle down his body.

He sees the bouquet lying a few yards away; he stumbles over and picks it up. The roses are undamaged and he's thankful for that. Not everything went wrong, he consoles himself.

He thinks about tomorrow, even though it is far, far away -- for now, he just wants to get home to his wife. He will have to file for a new lap-top at the office, apply for a new mobile phone. He can already hear the questions - What happened? You got mugged???!! Where?? When?! gotta be careful...Did you fight them? No? Yeah, right, not worth it at all ... What did they look like? Oh, OK .. Did you go to the police? Hmm... He wonders if he should lie when they ask him. Tell them that he got a couple of punches in and that it made him feel good, despite being mugged. He wonders if people would think him a sissy otherwise.

His mouth tastes awful. He gingerly pokes his tongue at where thinks he's bleeding inside his mouth. One of the molars is loose, knocked out of its socket, hanging on by a slender scrap of gum. He reaches inside with his fingers, and with a jerk, pulls the tooth off, and throws it out. Fresh blood bubbles out of the cavity and he spits it into the rain. He bends over and catches his breath. The pain is tiring him out. But he needs to get home which is at least another kilometer away. He starts walking slowly, dragging his feet along, the rain insulating him from the pain.

He already disliked the awkwardness he will have to face, the questions he will be asked, the story that he will have to repeat over and over. Just for a week or two. Two weeks and then everyone will forget, even you.

He wonders if he can really recover from this. Already, he's glancing everywhere with each step. Every corner hid a mugger in his mind. He was on red-alert now.
Would I ever relax? What is the guarantee that this won't happen again? Who knows where the next mugger is hiding? Is this how it feels to be raped and have your faith about the world violated? Is this how it feels to live in a state of constant fear? And what good is being alert? What if someone pulls a gun on me? Is this why countries war? Damn...

He reaches the main road from the alley. The house is just two streets away. He hobbles along the road, attracting curious glances from passersby. One or two venture to help him, but he refuses them. He can't trust anybody now. Everybody was a thief now. He realizes the helplessness of his situation. What could I have done? What could anybody have done? How can I trust anybody now? Whose fault is it if I can't trust anybody?

He flings open the gate, the pain in his back almost unbearable now. He goes up to the door,and rings the bell. He can hear her steps from inside the house. He looks at his clothes soiled from the rain, the gravel and the blood. I must look quite a sight, he chuckles, and looks at the bouquet in his hands. At least I won't have trouble explaining why I'm late.


1 Hands up.
2 Loot.
3 Is anybody there?.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Untitled - 2

You always know when it happens.

That morning had a greater need for sacrifice than most others in his life. Mornings always blaze into life, he felt. Ebullient, aggressive, purposeful. But today, as he stood looking from the balcony out onto the park, the light seemed to hesitate as it found its way through the trees. Slowing down before it fell on earth, pondering before it lay itself on wet grass.

There are times when you find you have no room. You look hard, but no, there's not an extra inch of space. Not on that sagging bookshelf for your dog-eared comics. Not on the swanky mobile phone for saving any more smses. Maybe you're keeping something you don't want but can't bring yourself to throw it away. Everything comes with a pre-defined size.

He threw his scarf around his shoulders and strode out into the morning, the hard heels of his boots crunching on the sidewalk. He liked walks. They gave his imagination the respite of motion.

You always know when you hit rock-bottom. You're plunging and suddenly there's this distinctive shudder while everything around you goes still. You open your eyes and find yourself at the bottom of this huge ocean, finding it difficult to breathe. You wonder how you got here, but then vaguely remember how you'd tied the lead-weight around your legs and thrown yourself into the water. You struggle to move, thrashing about in the water, entangled in the weeds. And as it gets more and more difficult to breathe, you realize you really should take that key from your pocket, unlock the weight, and swim up for air.

He waited for his turn at the ticket counter. He liked the patience of queues, the quiet shuffling of feet towards a common destiny, the empty acknowledging stares and the discipline in waiting. A ticket in his pocket, he planted himself on a vacant bench under a bare tree. He liked autumn. If you listen carefully, you will hear the leaves whisper tales as they fall, his grandmother had once told him. He believed her.

There are times when you can't look in the mirror. What for? becomes difficult to answer. Why not? tempts you with its truth. Understanding becomes betrayal. Promises become compromises.

He checked his step as he climbed into the compartment. He always did that. He found seat 31. As he unfurled the morning paper, his thoughts turned towards her involuntarily, wondering if she had found his note.

Sometimes, there simply is no room in the heart. And you always know when that happens.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Late afternoon. An unforgiving sun, oppressive heat and a salty breeze. Crabs lie frying on the sand.

He's sweating - around his neck, under his armpits and at the waist, where the elastic bites into tender skin. His languid body lies writhing on the beach-towel with the peculiar discomfort of those half asleep.

Waking up is always a compromise, he thinks, rolling his eyeballs underneath his eyelids. A compromise between freedom and choice. A choice made is a freedom relinquished.

He opens his eyes.

Sky. Bare, brilliant, blue and overwhelming. A compromise between space and light, between emptiness and enlightenment, between the physical and the surreal.

He removes his tongue from where it's wedged in a corner of his mouth. Rolls it about. Swallows hard, letting the bitterness of his sleep permeate his insides. He blinks into the distance. The light hurts. His eyes crinkle up. So does his nose. The sky breaks into fragments.

He can sense that something is wrong.

He rolls onto his side and rests himself on an elbow. The beach is empty. Not a soul around. The sand is a funny colour, he notices, black at certain places, a grainy brown at others, sheer white otherwise. A crow flies from atop a palm on the shore, swoops down to the foam and picks something up. He can't see what. Probably a dead fish. Or a snail. Or something which caught its eye.

The feeling builds inside him slowly. Like mercury inside a thermometer on a hot day. He falls back. Looks at the sky again. Where is this ...

He sits up abruptly.

Where is this place?

He laughs. The very thought preposterous and amusing at the same time. He shakes his head, clearing his mind. And thinks.

He can't remember. Tries again. No. Not working.

He looks around in panic. There's a bottle of beer lying nearby, in a stubby with pictures of naked women on it. The stubby is familiar. He remembers buying it. Buying it - somewhere, for someone ... Where? For whom? And why is it with him if he bought it for someone else? He strains his memory, staring hard at the crimson stripes running along the length of the towel. Where? For whom? He notices that the stripes have smaller white stripes running inside them. Who ...

Who was he?

There's sweat in his eyes, his breathing a combination of heaves and spasms.

There's something wrong here. He looks around again. He can see a woman far off, walking along the shore, towards him. From where he sits, he can see she's tall, and pretty in her fluttering frock and coolers. She's carrying a bag. He wonders what she's doing here. Maybe he should ask her about himself.

For chrissakes ... get a grip, he curses silently. Think. Focus, he orders himself. Or maybe you shouldn't focus, he reconsiders. Maybe you shouldn't think. Maybe you should let your consciousness wander. Yes, he agrees. Falling back, he closes his eyes.

There's nothing on his mind. He can feel the threads in the towel eating into his sweaty back. There's a sharp pain in his wrist. He then realizes it's been there all along, ever since he woke up. There, he kids himself, there's a memory for you. A painful memory, he laughs at his own joke. He rotates the wrist masochistically, relishing the pain, clinging onto it like one would cling onto a ledge when pushed over a cliff. He then starts moving each of his joints, searching for pain ... somewhere, some memory, some trigger. It's a bizarre sight. There? He feels his knee-cap. Wasn't that pain? He rubs it vigorously, almost sadistically, wishing there was pain. But no, he moves on. The ankles, the shoulders ...

And then, like fireworks on a night sky, an image bursts inside his head, like ink splashed violently on paper.

The fireworks die. The ink clears. And he sees an old woman, wrapped in a shawl, with graying hair tied in a knot. She's buying fish. There's a small kid standing beside her, holding her hand, pestering her. He concentrates on her face. And the old woman disappears, dissolving inside his mind. But the kid is still there, looking up at the old woman who's no longer there. The kid's now crying. He focusses on the kid's face. And presently, the kid disappears too.

The ink draws in quickly and clears away. Another scene. This time he sees a boy swimming in the sea. The boy looks like him. He wakes up. The boy looks like him! He closes his eyes quickly, and the image forms again. The boy's swimming. Eager for a clue, he looks into the vision. It's a race. There are other boys swimming besides the boy who looks like him, but they are ahead of the boy who looks like him. There's an island a few hundred metres ahead, with yellow breakers and red buoys and people cheering. The boy who looks like him is striving, stretching every muscle, but with every stroke, the others seem to surge ahead. He finds himself urging the boy ahead, exhorting him to swim faster. He looks up into the vision and sees the island nearing. He looks down and the boy is no longer there. He focusses into the sea, scanning the waves. And the vision breaks.

He opens his eyes again. Frustrated. His back is itching, and the pain in his wrist is irritating. But he knows he must try again. And he closes his eyes.

He sees a man and a woman making love. He looks around them, and all he sees is darkness. He realizes that the darkness is not in his vision of them, but around them in the dream. The woman is pretty. Not beautiful. Just pretty. He looks at the man, but the man's back is turned towards him. He realizes he can't see who the man is. He tries rotating the vision. But no. It's stuck in his head. It doesn't change any more. The couple is frozen. Suspended in his imagination. Locked in an eternal embrace. And he keeps looking at the woman, expecting her to disappear. But no, she stays there, her face serene and divine. And just as it seems as if she's going to smile at him, the vision breaks into a million little pieces, and the ink draws across. He waits for it to clear, but it stays that way.

He opens his eyes. Waking up is such a compromise. It's like you know where you are and where you want to end up, but you still have to look up the map and make the journey. It's like building a bridge just for the sake of it.

He turns over on his back, thinking. Of the old woman. Of that boy who looked like him. And of that couple locked together.

Who are these people? Do I know them? Or are these just images from some B-grade movie I might have seen recently? Like yesterday? Oh damn ...

He sits up, looking at the sea in front of him. The waves break, advance and retreat, break, advance and retreat.

What have I got now? A beach-towel. A half-drunk bottle of beer. Do I drink beer? I don't know. Hell, I don't remember! Add to that a few stupid images stuck inside my head. Where do I go from here? I don't know where I am, don't know where I want to go, rather I don't have a clue where to go, and what's worse, I don't have a map. Big journey!

He spits into the sand. The spittle rolls into a ball, gathering some grains before it stops.

Maybe it's all for the good, he rationalizes. Who knows what I was? And why should I take the trouble to find out? Maybe this is a chance to start all over again. I just have to decide not to choose. Choose not to remember. Choose not to be what I was. Choose not to go where I should go. Choose to see everything in a new light. Make new memories, start a new life. He feels his thoughts fleeing.

Maybe I'll go work in a restaurant, save money, travel around the world. Or maybe I should make a movie. Or, or, maybe I'll go live in a faraway island, and fall in love with a native girl. He catches himself fantasizing. Rubbish. Need to remember, need to get my bearings, he reminds himself. He feels tired all of a sudden. He plops back on the towel, and closes his eyes.

And almost immediately, the couple reappears. Almost as if they were waiting for some imaginary curtain to part.

The woman is smiling at him now. Again, he's curious about the man. This time, however, the image yields as he tries to rotate it. Slowly, the man's face emerges. The jaw, the straight, long nose ...


Someone's tugging at his shoulder. He wakes up.

"Ajjjjjaaaaaay ... wake up. Let's go. It's getting late"

It's her.

The pretty woman from his vision.

The tall woman in a frock. A pair of coolers on her head, and a bag of shells in her hands.

"Ajay, what's wrong?"


He feels like a man who fell off a cliff and discovers he has wings.


Images whiz in front of his eyes. ID cards, driving licenses, mark-sheets, people, places, a beer stubby bought for a friend who died, badminton and an overused wrist, voices calling out - AJ, Ajjie, coffee machines, credit card bills, mobile phone numbers, parties at work ... and amidst all these there are other images and thoughts. Images of an old woman buying fish, of a boy swimming, of a couple making love. And thoughts of a faraway island and a native girl.

"Nothing Anjali," he says, smiling at her, "Let me go get the car," and reaches under a corner of the towel for the keys.

Waking up is a compromise.

A compromise between freedom and choice.

The choice to dream.

And the freedom to live.

Friday, July 14, 2006


MK tagged me. So here goes...

I am thinking about -

How frightening it is when you're scared of nothing, how freedom really means being shackled of your own accord, how poetry and programming are not too different, and how denial is my primary mode of existence.

I said -

I would come back and I didn't.
" sure to crack stupid jokes. Women like men who crack stupid jokes..."

I want to -

Obtain a Ph.D. in Economics, take up teaching and live one day at a time.
Learn to play the violin.
See the inside of a rain-cloud.

I wish -

I could free my imagination of the bounds that logic imposes.

I miss -

A lot of people than I would care to admit to myself.

I hear -

Waves crashing on a faraway shore in my sleep.

I wonder -

How long it will be before fuel cells dominate the Indian automobile market?

I need -

Zero maintenance, infinite space.

I regret -

The low traffic that my blog generates.

I dance -

That's a lie.

I cry -

Rarely. And alone. And then uncontrollably.

I am not always -


I make with my hands -

Paper boats.

I write -

In English, mostly.

I confuse -

The hot water and the cold water taps.
Compassion and love (the generic kind).

I should try -

Mango milkshake with chocolate ice-cream.
Pickles and idli.
Writing haiku.
Watching more Malayalam movies.

I should finish -

Dr. Zhivago.
One hundred years of solitude.

I know -

Very little.
How to bowl the 'Doosra', the top-spinner, the flipper and the googly.

I am -

Just passing through.

And finally -

"We are where we are at the only time we have." - Shashi Tharoor, 'Riot: A novel'

I tag -

catch 22, STALLION and Srini -- Give it a try guys. Should be fun.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Late thoughts on the Wimbledon and World Cup finals

Ecstasy and agony, hours apart. One man will sleep easy and the other will probably never for the rest of his life.

Wimbledon Final

What is it with Roger Federer when it comes to Rafael Nadal? Why is he so determined not to compete when he faces the Duracell bunny from Spain? Is it just me or is Federer reluctant to acknowledge Nadal as an equal?

One of the commentators got it right on Sunday when he said, "The longer this match goes, the deeper Nadal will penetrate into Federer's psyche." That has got be the single most insightful comment I've ever heard on T.V. It accurately diagnoses Federer's problem with Nadal, and also offers the remedy. Federer has got to admit to himself that he has serious competition, and that too not from someone who is as graceful or as gifted as him, but from someone whose philosophy of tennis is the very antithesis of Federer's.

While Federer swoops and skates across the lawn, Nadal scurries from corner to impossible corner, fetching balls with all the eagerness of a golden retriever. While Federer is calculative and polished, Nadal is direct and desperate. Federer flits demurely between the tramlines, a quality of shyness about his ballet-hall grace as he slices his backhands. Nadal is all adrenaline and testosterone, his hunger naked, his ambition delightful. Federer fences, Nadal punches. Federer is King; Nadal, heir apparent.

Federer's problem, in my opinion, is that he feels he’s too royal to acknowledge the proletarian talent of the resourceful Nadal. He even said he didn’t expect Nadal to make it to the final, which, while being admirably honest, says a lot about what he thinks of Nadal. Did you see the post-match photo session and the interview? All the while when the camera was on the two of them, Nadal and Federer never met eye to eye, and not earlier either, when they shook hands at the end of the match. That, to me, says a lot. So much for Alan Wilkins harping about how the two players are great friends!

Earlier this season, when he was losing to Nadal with such alarming regularity, I got the feeling that he fooled himself into thinking that it was the surface, clay, and not the opponent, Nadal, that got the better of him. Somehow I feel that all this while he's been playing golf on the tennis courts -- focussing inward and refining his game to such a level that it didn't matter who the opponent was; he just had to beat the course. It is only recently that he's woken up to the reality of an adversary facing him across the net. And a capable one at that.

On Sunday, when Nadal had him panting in the second and third sets, Federer was visibly reluctant to shift up that extra gear, which he finally did in the fourth set. And he was so eager to get back to his I-don't-believe-you-exist-I-refuse-to-compete-with-you mode that he ended up losing his serve the first time he served for the match.

An athlete is a competitor first and artist next. Federer would do well to remember this and let Nadal "penetrate his psyche" so that it hurts him the next time he loses to the Spaniard. Only then will he motivate himself to play at top gear always and not just when needed, especially against Nadal.

Nadal for his part showed what a truly wonderful player he's going to be in the years to come. He is a terrific competitor, the best among the current crop. And all he has to do next time is to stand deep on Federer's first serves, step up on the second serves, use that decent return of serve he has (Did you see that blistering forehand cross-court return of serve in the third set tie-break? Left Federer gasping, it did), leave the mid-court moon balls back at the French Open and start hitting his balls deeper towards the baseline so that he has the approach shot all set up. The French is all about patience, whereas on the grass, aggression alone is rewarded. You need to force the issue. Ask Ivanisevic.

I'm really looking forward to the next final between these two. To see if Federer lets himself compete against Nadal, and to see if Nadal learns his lessons well.

World Cup Final

World cup victory as a captain. The perfect last match. Talisman.

Zinedine Zidane.

I've been a great fan of his ever since I saw him play for Juventus and execute that trademark twirl which left me in raptures. I thought you could do that only on EA Sports’ Fifa! Feet that cast a force field around the ball, the balance of a trapeze artist, the midfield vision of a general and the introverted genius of a chess champion … And all that people will remember him in the years to come? Not that knifing brace which plunged deep into Brazilian hearts in the '98 final, not that screamer which left Bayer Leverkusen fans bawling in the 2002 Champions league final, not all those Player of the Year awards, but that one moment of insanity which nobody will ever understand, that one instant when the dream died. I can already see him being reduced to a trivia question:

"Which player holds the dubious distinction of scoring in two World Cup finals and being sent off in one of them?"

Damn. So many emotions went through me when I saw that replay. Disbelief, shame, anger, agony, regret ... watching him walk off the pitch with his head hung in shame was heart-wrenching to say the least. And this in a match which had seen him entice and exhort his team through 120 minutes of the best World Cup final I've seen. Damn. Why oh why oh why?

It’s easy to slam Zidane for being irresponsible and postulate how he ruined everything, but how many of us understand what he did? Not for a moment am I excusing what he did, just that maybe we need to redefine our understanding of genius (can you really believe how people say that it’s because of him that France lost the penalty shootout? That’s rich, oh yes!). Was it just a simple rush of blood? Or is it the evil of genius finding a perverse delight in defiling that which others hold sacred? This perversion is essential to genius, I believe.

Roger Federer and Zinedine Zidane. As different as geniuses come -- one plays a sport in which the only contact allowed between players is a shake of the hand after the match, while the other plays a game which considers Gary Linekar special (Linekar was never cautioned in his career; he never got as much as a yellow card in his playing life). But then are they that different? Is there any common ground?

Unlike other forms of human endeavour where genius is encouraged to blossom, sport is twisted in that we ruthlessly challenge our geniuses day in and day out, ungratefully asking them to prove themselves against mediocrity, often in conditions unfavourable to them (it is the rare sport where genius is left alone to enthrall us). And it is in how they treat their opponents that Zidane and Federer share the cruel fate that extraordinary talent is confronted with in sport. Both of them refuse to believe their opponents exist when they need to. Zidane, in the way he pulled (past tense already) off those outrageous dribbles, only to find a gawky defender charge in with a clumsy challenge; Federer, in the way he refuses to acknowledge that Nadal could retrieve his razor sharp volleys. And this refusal is essential to their psyche, for if at all genius thrives on anything, it is the denial of the obvious.

I had a wonderful time that night, really. And in the end, as I switched off my T.V. set and went to bed, Sunday threw an insight into the nature of sport. Sport is poetry, drama, theater … all that is fine. But above all it is ugly. Ugly in the primitive way it forces its finest exponents to compete, ugly in the way it taunts and reduces a subliminal genius to a subhuman primate. And the funny thing is, it is this ugliness that we find attractive!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Aurangabad trip - photos

The company sent a team of us on a customer visit to Aurangabad. What you see above are the results of us going camera-snappy.

Descriptions (starting from the last one, and moving up)
  1. Sunset at some forsaken station in Andhra Pradesh. I think it was Krishna-something, don't remember exactly. I'd just woken up after sleeping through the entire day (We left last Thursday), and was rinsing the sleep out of my mouth, when I got lucky with this one. No, no, I had to go get the camera.
  2. After spending Saturday and Sunday (We reached Aurangabad on Friday) at the customer's facility, we took off early on Sunday afternoon and spent the rest of the evening sight-seeing. First stop, Daulatabad fort. Wiki it up, I'm weak when it comes to history. This photo is of the "Chand Minar", which when translated using my superlative Hindi skills, means "Moon Tower".
  3. View from higher up the fort. At 1 o clock, you could have seen a strategically placed weapon of mass destruction (aka a cannon) if it were not for those pesky tourists who wanted to touch and feel everything. The bridge runs across a moat which surrounds the greater part of the fort.
  4. Open Sesame! From inside the dungeons.
  5. View of the Moon Tower from one of the ramparts.
  6. The front view of the fort, or at least whatever the camera could cover. It actually runs for quite a length.
  7. Mountain climber.
  8. On the way to Ellora, when the rain put up quite a show.
  9. The Kailash temple at Ellora. I kept thinking, "What on earth drove these people to do this?" Amazing.
  10. And amidst all this, diligent farmers trying to beat the rains.
  11. Yes, we took an auto. Actually, we ran into this very friendly auto-driver (who it seems is the regular chauffeur for our company personnel; we bumped into him accidentally) called Ayub. He was our guide throughout the tour, taking us to all the little known places and making sure that we were there on time. In case he comes across this, thanks a ton! There was this poignant moment during the tour - Ayub took us to Aurangazeb's tomb, and just before he dropped us off, he quipped, "Look! Such a great emperor, and look how he lies in the rain!" Ozymandias indeed.
  12. The fort, snapped from inside the auto, with a cloud boiling behind.
  13. Raptor footprint.
  14. "...and I'm proud of its rich and varied heritage..."
  15. The clouds were lovely over Ellora. Lazy and metallic gray in some places, a mischievous blue in others and at twilight, a sad, velvety shade. On our way back, we were stuck behind a small truck. It was carrying women back from work, women who were singing a sad evening song (in Marathi I suspect), which sounded like one about a cloud which lost its way in search of a setting sun. Or so it seemed.
  16. Silhouette of a proud lion roaring into the darkness (at Ellora).
  17. Perspective shot of a couple of stupas (?).
  18. 'Coffee' would be an apt name I guess.
  19. On the ride back from Aurangabad to Pune. We had a lot of equipment with us, which meant taxi rides between the two places. And the route is so picturesque! I felt cheated when we entered Pune with its high-rises, and no sky to be seen anywhere. There is something about seeing the land undulate in front of you for miles on end, stopping at the horizon to meet a sky that bends over, unveling its colours. It does make the heart ache. Sigh!
  20. Sparrows at Pune station.
  21. One of the minarets at the Mini Taj.
  22. Last stop during the sight-seeing tour was Bibi-ka-Maqbara (aka Mini Taj). This was built by Aurangazeb's son as a shrine to entomb his mother. It's apparently a replica of the Taj, only smaller. This is inside Aurangabad, and the road to this place runs through a Muslim neighbourhood. From whatever little time I spent at Aurangabad, the one thing that struck me was how the city is a microcosm of India, with Muslims and Hindus living together, but ensconced in their own, separate worlds.
We took a lot more photos and I might be putting them up on Flickr soon. But for now, enjoy!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The break

It' s been raining intermittently since morning. A mug of dark, black coffee grows cold on the table. An abandoned cordless beckons plaintively from a forgotten corner of the small, one-room cabin. Newspapers lie in scattered sheets on the wooden floor, vestiges from a session with the cartoons and the crossword.

He stands in front of the glass wall that overlooks the dark, green jungle underneath, watching drops patter the verandah, bouncing off the hard teak like pearls dropping from an unstrung necklace. The bluish-gray sky lies lazily above him. The clouds are today heavy with rain, and lumber across purposelessly. He'd woken up at dawn and had made good progress before it started raining. And then, like mice lured by the piper, the rain had drawn him out.

Sunlight soldiers through the shaggy, thatched roof from over and behind his head, catching drops in mid-flight.
A delicate warmth suffuses the nippy air, which now smells of dead, and wet, leaves. A mini rainbow struggles on the glass. He can see his tall frame in it now, bare-chested, hair dishevelled, unshaved, his khakis falling from his slim waist to just below his ankles. The cordless continues to wail.

He plods across the verandah to where the glass wall ends and the ladder begins. The drops have formed a small puddle here. Balancing himself on his left leg, he stretches his right out, and with the big toe, writes her name on the water. The water cedes as his toe scrawls, and then spreads back to erase. He carefully draws each letter on the surface, watching them vanish even before he finishes, but the image of all of them together is firm in his mind. Just like her memory.

The cordless goes silent. He notices it. In the jungle, it's not the noise, but the silence which catches the attention. It rings again. He walks bare-footed into the cabin; looks around for the cordless. He checks his writing table. A sheaf of notes, papers from the morning's work, a box of cheap ballpoint pens, with one missing, the one he's been using. But no cordless. He can hear it nearby.

He bounds across the mattress, homing on the sound. There's a backpack in the corner, filled with supplies from his latest visit to the village. He flings it aside. The cordless blinks at him in innocence, its tone now louder and adamant. He grabs at it.



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Why people have clocks/watches on their blogs?

1) Because you want to know what time it is before you answer nature's call in the middle of the night. So holding your bladder, you boot your PC, wait for the damn dial-up to connect meanwhile debating between using Firefox or IE, use Firefox anyway because Bill is such a sissy, visit your blog, look at the time, and then scurry into the bathroom where you go, "Sigh...!" in accompaniment to the sound of running water.

2) You fritter away your youth looking at your site stats all day, counting each hit as it trickles in, and you need to know if it's time to eat or shower or ca-ca (not necessarily in that order) or whatever it is that you do in between. Of course, you're too preoccupied to notice the task bar.

3) Digression. Ever noticed how bloggers have two clocks on their blogs? Chances are one shows the time of an American city/town with a university, and the other, of some place in (Replace with third world country). Have you wondered why? It's because the aforesaid blogger (again too preoccupied to look at the task bar) can then time his call to his girlfriend (third world country = India) when she's in the middle of a meal to have the following conversation:

"What you upto yaa?" - blogger.
"Eating." - bored girlfriend.
"What you eating?" - blogger.
"Onion Oothaappam" - bored girlfriend, feeling slightly disgusted.
"Onion Oothaapam?? Sigh! I so miss home food yaa" - blogger.
"Hmmm" - bored girlfriend wary of oncoming mush attack.
"And I miss you too yaa" - blogger.
"Hmmm" - bored girlfriend with appropriate measure of love.
"Do you miss me?" - blogger, slightly desperate.
"Hmmm" - bored girlfriend who can't say anything in front of handsome male colleague accompanying her.

4) Transcript of a chat between Blogger and his Bluggle* friend.

Blogger - Dude! Got myself a new watch yesterday...
Bluggle - Kewl.
Blogger - It's got this ultra cool electric blue dial, with sexy white hands man.
Bluggle - Kewl.
Blogger - You can even see the time in three countries at the same time!! Awesome naa?
Bluggle - Kewl.
Bluggle - Is it water proof?
Blogger - $%#@&*

*Bluggle - A person who doesn't blog and knows nothing about blogs. In other words, someone with a life.

Feel free to add more rational explanations of this ubiquitous phenomenon.

UPDATE (June 18): "Bluggle" is something I coined perchance. Remember, you read it first here :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Slow poison

That is what the world is these days. A slow poison circulating in my veins, its venom diffusing through the hallways of my mind, desensitizing my soul to pathos and purity, ridiculing my ideals, clouding my vision about what's wrong and what's not.

The world is gray. Make no mistake about it. An understandable shade of gray, and this is precisely the frustration that I face daily. Nothing/nobody is so bad, or evil, that it/they can't be redeemed by a little (misplaced?) compassion and understanding. Everything is circumstantial, and nothing is absolute. Objectivity and opinion seem to switch places with alarming ease. There is no evil. There is only evil. Depends on what side you're on. Depends on how much you're willing, or unwilling, to allow. To even attempt to have a vision of life seems at once foolhardy and preposterous. For what is today, is not tomorrow. To try and transform from what you are to what you ought to be is futile, like trying to fuse together an object and its mirror image. One derives its sustenance solely through the existence of the other, and to merge the two would be to kill both. Because Life, the mirror, doesn't permit you to. The two are destined to be conflicting apparitions. Illusions because you're in a constantly suspended state, moving from one to the other. And at times you wonder whether you're moving in the wrong direction too. It's like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle where with every piece you place correctly, the puzzle modifies itself, forcing you to shift perspective and start all over again. All because the world is that way.

The world is a slow poison. And I'm dying a little each day.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Good news... always great to hear.


Calvin: I wish I had more friends, but people are such jerks. If you can just get most people to leave you alone, you're doing good. If you can find even one person you really like, you're lucky. And if that person can also stand you, you're really lucky.

Hobbes: What if you find someone you can talk to while you eat apples on a bright fall morning?

Calvin: Well, yeah... I suppose there's no point in getting greedy, is there?

Friday, June 02, 2006


How do you choose between honesty and compassion? How do you preserve your integrity when it implies inflicting pain on somebody else? How do you bridge the distance when neither of you are willing to meet midway?

Lost sole

Go read! Catch you guys at the premiere, I have a movie to manufac...err..make.

PS: Spare me the lecture about being PC. It's a blog, for God's sake.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


She caught me looking at her note-book.
"What do you want?" she demanded, annoyed, her eyebrows questioning.
"Nothing." I remarked."Your 'd's look nice."
She gasped, and before she could raise the alarm we got our next word. The teacher hollered from the front of the class:
"Emancipation! EMM-an-SEEEE-pay-SHUN!"
I finished scribbling and looked at her notebook again. She was still crossing her 't' and dotting her 'i's. I shot a look at my notebook, and shrugged my shoulders.
Do I believe in perfection? Do we believe in perfection? Do perfection and morality go hand-in-hand? If so, where and when and how did all these notions ever get into my, your, our head(s)?
It was Monday night and I was mulling the above questions over an unappealing dosa. And as I took apart the dosa piece by soggy piece, I remembered where, and when, and how.
D, of course!
And I felt like Archimedes out of a bath tub. No, no, before you ask I didn't, unlike the great man I have no illusions about my...err...anatomy. Not that many people would be interested in the first place anyway.
D was a classmate in school. We kinda grew up together. As in both of us were the tallest members in our class of our respective genders, and since we had this rule of a boy sitting next to a girl sitting next to a boy sitting next to a girl, we ended up sitting next to each other for the whole of primary school and for a couple of years after that as well.
Anyway, coming back to the point about perfection, it was an alien concept to me. Of course you can't expect 8 year olds to be bothered about perfection, can you? But then all that changed when D joined school.
You couldn't miss her in the crowd. She towered above the rest of the girls. And she stood out in other ways too. Everything about her was perfect. Right from her laminated text-books (which never tore even at the end of the year when I would be lucky if I retained the cover page on mine) to her spotless and shining shoes (maybe her Dad polished them at night; maybe she had a maid who took care of everything; maybe...) to that irritating oh-I-finished-my-homework-didn't-you-? smile of hers. And it hurt. Oh yes, it did. In a very juvenile, male-chauvinistic, how-can-a-girl-be-so-damn-smart-? way. Yeah, yeah, the male ego is fragile, I know.
And you know what hurt the most? Her handwriting. You could take a ruler and all her letters would line up, as in the legs and the loops would all be of the same height, down to the last freaking millimetre. I actually did that once when she wasn't looking, just to make sure, and I nearly died of shock. And mine? Forget it, you don't want to know...all that I can say in my defence is I was practising to be a doctor. No, really, I was.
But yes, being benchmates took its effect. And it was not long before I chucked my ego into the class dustbin and started taking writing lessons from her. She couldn't believe it initially, becasue we had this anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better clash going on. But once she got over the shock of schooling the enemy, she turned out to be a wonderful tutor (sheesh can't believe I just called her "wonderful"; note to self: tighten up! tighten up!).
We had copy-writing class, and my letters which would go climbing all over the page started dropping into a disciplined order. She would prod with her pencil and mutter under her breath when my 't's started getting lazy and began looking like my 'f's. She would taunt and tease me for my 'p's and 'q's. I guess that's the only way I would have learnt. But slowly, the writing improved and it was not long before my marks improved as well.
The reserve between us melted as well. We started exchanging books (I read most of Nancy Drew thanks to her), hell, we even did a play together in school which had just the both of us! And it was not long before she forced me into changing again.
I used to be a shameless cheat when I was little. Exams and games mainly, and there were other things which didn't matter at all.
It was on the day we got our Maths test marks -- a test in which I placed my notebook on my lap and copied my way into the cheaters' hall of fame. She looked at me in disdain and asked me, "How can you lay claim to something you've not earned? What are you proving? And more importantly, who are you fooling?" This was in class 5; we must have been 10-11 years old. Gee, the girls start early, don't they? I took a one-way guilt trip to hell that day.
And again it hurt. Not in a moral sense or anything, I was too shameless for that. In the same juvenile, male-chauvinistic, how-can-a-girl-be-so-damn-right-? way. And I decided to give up cheating. I tried. I struggled (old habits die hard). But I never cheated for the rest of my school life (or rather, for the tests that mattered; I still continued to do so on inconsequential tests which carried fines), and the thrill kinda died after that, and the guilt was overwhelming (All that changed in college though when the usual disilusioned-with-the-system phase hit home and cheating didn't matter anymore; at least morally).
Anyway, it was not long before we were slugging it out in the tests on honest terms, competing for the top honours in class, sometimes losing to the other by the slenderest of margins (you will forget what I just wrote. You are feeling sleepy. I will count upto three and you will forget everything. 1...2...). But she was a sport, probably the most sportive female I've run into, and she would be the first to congratulate and acknowledge her coming second. And I learnt to do the same.
Anyway, coming back to the questions I was mulling over, D was undeniably the first person to teach me that 'If something is worth doing, it's worth doing it well', that 'You cannot claim that which is not yours' and that perfection and morality are one and the same. D left school after class 7, which was quite sad actually, and I've not seen her anywhere since, but I guess I owe her a lot.
In this age of cover-your-back environments at work and cut throat competition around you, it's often quite easy to take the easy way out and compromise. Sometimes I stand tall. On other occasions, I've gone to sleep with a heavy heart. All the same, I guess D would be happy knowing how I've fared.
"Come on, let's go! It's late. We can tune the carby* tomorrow."
"We were supposed to finish this today. And what if the boss asks us?"
"We'll tell him we finished it. Besides how much more can we tune it? This is as much as it can go."
"Naa, let's tune it one last time. I'm sure we can squeeze some more torque here..."
"F*** man. Why are you doing this to me?"
"Because if something's worth doing, it's worth doing it well, and besides you don't claim something which you've not earned..."
"Spare me the philosophy. Where is that frikkin spanner when you need it? Might as well get started on this."
"Over to your right..."
* carby - Informal term for a carburettor