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.