Wednesday, December 06, 2017

stressed out

recently, a talk organized in office by a cardiologist about prevention of heart disease and other related health issues highlighted the top three causes:

1. smoking
2. stress
3. sleeplessness

now, I've got (1) covered. and I do get 7 hours of sleep daily, even though it sometimes feels like it's not enough (complicated enough to deserve a blog post of its own, lol). so, action item number two: cut down on stress. Initial attempts have been rather abortive, in the sense that trying to be stress free makes me do things that indirectly contribute to stress itself. but gradually I've been able to regain control and kinda reduce my "hidden" and obvious stress levels.

and then, one day, I realized stress does have its ways of finding you:

I was on a bike trip with mayur. he had his bullet, rather heavily modified, and I had my karizma. it was dark, and we were on a highway, in a traffic jam. he asked me if I wanted to try his bike. I decided to give it a shot. the first thing was that, he had to kick start the karizma as its battery was at the end of its life. when I sat on his bullet, I realized the seat was deceptively plush. I literally sank into the seat. it felt good! the traffic opened up, and I revved it, leaving him and the jam behind. it was about sunrise by then, and in a few minutes the sun was out and it was bright. we reached the point where we had to turn off the highway into a village, to do some last minute purchases (I guess we were planning to go camping or something). I stopped there for him to catch up, we swapped bikes, and divided shopping responsibilities and split up. I went to a shop which was on the first floor of a rather ramshackle building. I thought it was rather unlikely that someone would make away with my bike (which was rather troublesome to start with the dead battery!), so I left the key inside, out of sheer laziness. I took just a minute to complete my purchases,but as I turned the corner of the stairs on my way out I saw my bike being ridden away by a balding middle aged helmetless man.

I chased the bike on foot as quickly as I could, but the village traffic and pedestrians were slowing me down as much as they were slowing him, and I couldn't catch up with him despite being able to keep him within sight.

a few minutes of chasing him later, my heart was pounding, and he got out traffic. as I turned the corner he did, running as quickly as I could, my wife woke me up.

and I realized it was a dream.

she asked me if everything was okay.

I insisted it was, and shut my eyes, to have the dream resume itself.

I was running down a straight village road, with greenery on both sides, interspersed with houses without courtyards, that opened directly onto the road.

and then I ran past some sort of movement on my right, and spotted the thief and my bike. he was on a raised wooden platform with the bike, facing away from the road, and the platform somehow led to a raised path that led into the woods behind. I yelled "stop, thief!", but he didn't. an aged lady sitting at the edge of the platform and facing the road, asked me what happened. I told her he was stealing my bike. she insisted that it wasn't possible, because the guy was her son. I realized she wouldn't be any help, and continued shouting.

luckily for me, an army truck passed by, and a few armed commandos stopped to ask me what happened. they asked me to prove the bike was mine by showing them my papers. I told them I would, but they should first catch the thief as he was quickly getting away, and was already out of sight, only marked by leaves moving where he had disturbed the foliage when escaping. the commandos quickly fanned out, while a couple of them inquired with the old lady where he lived.

she pointed to the house right next door.

and that's when I woke up.

my heart was still racing.

my wife asked me what happened.

I told her someone stole my bike and the army was trying to get it back.

she said: no wonder. you were twitching violently in your sleep!

and that's when I realized, there's no escaping stress!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

phone-y dreams

I had some strange phone dreams last night.

in my dream, my oneplus one (which has stopped working in real life) started working by accident. it started working when I disassembled and reassembled it, and accidentally used the battery and SIM tray of a oneplus two of my friend (who was also disassembling and reassembling his phone). his phone stopped working, and he assumed it was because he reassembled it wrong... and i realized what had happened only after he left, because my sim was loose in the tray. he left his phone behind as well, so I couldn't return the parts. I assumed he didn't care and continued to use it.

I also had another phone, one which defies explanation: it was called an elephant phone, and it was shaped like a miniaturized elephant. it stood on its 4 legs, and was about half a foot in length and height. i liked the phone because it supported dual sim + a memory card. these were under a hinged panel in its back. I was expecting superlative battery life due to its size, but apparently the battery life was on par with other normal phones. strangely though, the elephant phone had no visible earpiece or speaker... or screen! it was a toy elephant with two sim cards and a memory card slot. I didn't know the manufacturer's name, and someone told me it's a Nokia. I remember being confused in the dream about Nokia creating Android phones (but nowhere did the phone give any clue to suggest that it runs Android)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

why do i blog?

i'm not sure if i've blogged about this before, and honestly, at this moment, i don't really care.

i have forgotten my blog exists. i have forgotten that you, my dear reader, exists.

i have forgotten that if there's something i need to throw out there, make available to the world without any external validation, i have a place to do it.

sometimes, it feels like the self is a mirror. the more you look inside, the more you see outside. and i've stopped looking inside.

i don't know why, but i know that i've stopped.

it's hard to explain the metaphysical phenomenon where the self expands, so that something that used to be outside myself, can now look at me, and see the outside through the mirror... thus rendering the act of what used to be myself looking inside, redundant.

the phenomenon where i don't feel the need to ask myself questions, because someone else is doing the asking for me.

as i think about it, strange diagrams come to mind.

and i'm happy with these diagrams. i'm happy with this real representation of the abstract projection of my reality.

so happy that i don't even feel the need to draw these diagrams and stick them here, even though i know the images in my mind will fade before i even fall asleep, and this blog post will look like gibberish when i wake tomorrow.

and that leads me the answer to why i don't blog anymore.

i started off blogging for others. i then moved to blogging to myself.

but this post isn't even for myself. it's for my present. the intersection of the self and the current moment. something which will not exist at the time anyone (myself included) is reading this.

so... why even blog?

Monday, November 06, 2017

springing back

just woke up from a dream which was so continuity-defying that I can't even string it properly together into a coherent story. epic scene in the dream:

squashing one dimension of spacetime so that my hand could reach through rickshaws in a traffic jam.

was so startled by the experience that I woke up immediately, and I felt the universe getting back into its usual shape in the instant that I was opening my eyes. the feeling of springing back into shape still lingers.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

the lightyears explode

the wife and I are both slightly unwell, so we both decided to stay at our respective parents homes. I couldn't sleep, so I played some music on the turntable. At about 1am, I realized I was playing it a little too loud for that time of the night. I turned down the volume to about 1/10, and dozed off while the record was still playing.

Earlier, I was having a conversation with Santosh, who was planning to buy a rather expensive set of speakers. I advised him to not make any decision until he had listened to my music system. I guess he was in a hurry to buy it, because he headed over that very night. when he arrived, I woke up mom and asked if I could play just one song. she was quite understandably irritable, but she agreed when I told her that santosh rode over an hour to get here to just hear the song.

the record was still on the turntable, so I just switched it on and dropped the needle two songs before the end. it was some western classical music record. he listened, and I explained the nuances of an audiophile grade system.

two songs later, the record was over, and we stepped onto the terrace to speak. I explained to him how the bass was clean and crisp, and how the wattage of the system didn't matter at all, since we were playing it literally at 10%.

as he was leaving, I noticed a white activa parked on the terrace. strangely though, the headlight compartment was open and the headlight was missing!

I fitted the cover back on, and was wondering how the activa got there. did it belong to my brother? that's when i noticed that it was a thane registered scooter. so it definitely wasn't ours. I went to bed, and woke up the next morning while my brother was leaving for work. as he was getting out of the door, I asked him whose scooter it was. he said it belonged to a neighbour who wanted to save on parking charges.

as I started getting ready for work myself, I noticed the record was playing again. I got back into bed and spent a moment appreciating the clean, crisp bass. and then, decided to take a nap.

when I woke up, it was dark. my watch said it was 1am. the music was still playing, but I was in bed at my own place instead of my parents'. my wife was bending over me. once she realized I was awake, she exclaimed "have you heard the lightyears explode? they're awesome!"

and went back to the living room and played the same song again.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

survival

mumbai's having epic rain. it's been pouring for the last 48 hours or so, and the commute home was hellish for most people. i took a calculated risk and decided to ride home, and luckily for me, it paid off. there were a few things i did to mitigate the risk before i set off:

  • double checked the fuel level of my bike. i had at least 60 km worth of fuel for the 13 km ride home.
  • charged my phone fully, made sure the power bank i carry with me also had a fair bit of charge
  • carried a small water bottle of water
  • had a quick snack before i left off
  • wrapped and double wrapped everything valuable + electronic in a waterproof pouch inside my bag, which is supposed to be water resistant to begin with
  • called home before leaving
  • kept some spare change on hand outside the bag, for emergencies
  • weighed my options for the route to take home. chose to stick to broad roads, which i know are not low-lying, even though they would probably have more traffic than the alternatives

luckily for me, it worked out better than expected. i reached home in barely 45 minutes more than my usual time, despite a chai break on the way when the worst of the traffic was past me. most of my office colleagues weren't as lucky though - some of them took twice as long, mainly due to them traveling by car.

once i got home, i dried off and was treated to a mug of hot chocolate, courtesy the wife.

while i settled in and started thinking about dinner, my wife asked me if my phone was fully charged - a message she recieved reminded people that the electric supply might fail if there is too much flooding - and some low lying parts near home were already over a foot deep in water when i was getting home.

that's when i remembered an old thought, regarding survival (it was another rainy day, and I was traveling home by office bus, with a snack and some water to save myself). not sure if i blogged it back then (i can't find the post now - but i guess i didn't search much).

so anyway, i started thinking about what i'd have to do if the rain continued, and shruti and i were stuck at home under various circumstances.

we have the basics covered: about 800 litres of water in the overhead tank, which should last us comfortably for a week if we had to stretch it. plenty of batteries for our torches. and one puny hand crank torch, for an absolute last resort. about 3 days of ready-to-eat stuff. enough food supplies to last us two weeks, i'd say. but that's where i figured the problem lies: we have a piped gas supply, which runs underground. which means that if the gas AND electricity supply is lost, we'd have no way to cook.

now i do have my bike downstairs, and it does have a fair bit of fuel that i could get my hands on quite easily. but i have no safe way to burn it.

the only things i guess i could use to cook would be the 3 litres of cooking oil we have in store. and i don't have an efficient way to burn the oil. i guess i could make a makeshift stove out of utensils, but it's something i've never done before, and i'm not sure if i'd get it right.

also, i'm under prepared from a communication point of view, as i only have enough juice in the powerbank to keep my phone going for a couple of days. i could switch to a backup phone that has longer battery life, but i'd lose access to the internet. i'm guessing our adsl connection and wired phone would pop before (or maybe about the same time as) the electric supply does. but i guess we'd survive being holed up indoors, quite literally between these 4 walls, for about a week.

oh, and we have books. i wonder if there's anything else we'd need. hmmmm.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

the hunter and the grazer

long ago, someone told me that one big differentiating factor between hinting and grazing animals are that grazers have eyesight that's tuned to observing their surroundings (to look for predators), while hunters have a sort of tunnel vision: once they focus on something, they shut everything else out, leaving their senses fully concentrated on their target. i'm not sure how true this is, but it does make some sort of sense.

recently, i was having a conversation with someone and i realized that humans also operate in the same two modes. there are the grazers, who look around, worried about threats. they are the people who feel the need to conform to society. they are the people who always consider "what will everyone else think?" before they do something. they guess and second guess the world.

and they live in fear.

on the other hand, the people who behave like hunters do not care. they don't need to conform to society, as long as their target is in sight. they spring forth bravely, maybe not always successfully, but missing the target is not failure for them. the laughter or comments of society do not matter, unless possibly if they're constructive.

the grazers are safe. they have nothing to fear but society and humiliation, which are self-created fears. and they have safety in numbers. on the other hand, hunters have real things to worry about. few hunters would come to the aid of others. and the grazers would probably shy away.

but the hunter does what no grazer can.

and that's why, i feel, that's what we should aspire to be. hunters.

stressed out

recently, a talk organized in office by a cardiologist about prevention of heart disease and other related health issues highlighted the top...