Friday, November 30, 2007

Travel in mangalore (or why superman can't walk)

Mangalore's been very different from the few other places i've been to so far. Some of these differences are rather mundane, while others are definitely esoteric. 5 days of intermittent travel for sightseeing is way too little to form an expert opinion (and i'm possibly wrong on a few counts too), but here's what i've noticed:

  • there are almost no traffic signals. The exact number i've arrived at is 2, but by city standards 2 could very well be 0 with no major impact :P

  • there are no traffic cops. Instead, there are men who look like a cross between cowboys in khaki and 18th century sepoys in the east india co's army. They stand on the road, apparently doing nothing.

  • the one time i saw a traffic cowboy do something was when a newspaper delivery man rode a scooter head-first into him. He exacted a fine of: 1 newspaper.

  • all roads lead to state bank. That's right, every single bus that i've been in either passes through or terminates at that mysterious junction. I haven't spotted the only thing that could possibly have given that place it's name yet. There is a rather largish state bank signboard nearby, but the thing below it looks like an sbi atm, quite like every other sbi atm that you'll find.

  • sbi atms are apparently placed within a 100 metre radius of every bus stop in the main city area. I've heard there's plans to put them in 100 metres of every bus stop, period.

  • buses stop everywhere, including at places that are not supposed to be bus stops. Quite interesting when read in conjunction with the above observation.

  • buses do not have windows. They have metal rods that hold up the ceiling. They also have tarp sheets that can be rolled down to give the illusion of closing the non-existent windows. Unfortunately there's one sheet for each side of the bus. If it's raining and you want to get wet (like i usually do), you'll either have to find a bus full of like minded people or take a hike.

  • buses have one or two conductors.

  • Conductors take money, but do not necessarily give tickets. Tickets look like they have half a lottery number on them and nothing else.

  • no matter how far you want to go, the bus ticket costs between 3 and 7 bucks.

  • bus tickets cost a random amount of money that depends on how many people are traveling in a group. There were 5 of us traveling today, but the ticket cost 26 bucks. The conductor handed us 3 slips of paper with different colours. I was too busy finding out what i had won to ask further questions.

  • buses also have announcers, whose job is to shout out a random list of words at each halt of the bus (and that includes traffic jams, the aforementioned 2 signals, pedestrian crossings etc.) some of those words resemble places (notably state bank), while others are words that apparently do not stand for any particularly place (eg. 'bega' which according to my mom's rudimentary knowledge of kannada, means 'come').

  • The typical announcement sounds like "xyz abc pqr bega bega bega abc state bank xyz"

  • announcers and conductors occasionally swap roles midway through the journey.

  • random male passengers become announcers at random points of time. Apparently the only criteria are that you should be able to whistle, say state bank and bega. Multiple announcers are welcome, especially if they say different things at different speeds but the same volume.

  • conductors, and occasionally announcers, communicate with the driver by whistling.

  • There are 4 kinds of whistle, one for stop (blown continuously as long as the bus should remain stopped), one for start, one for "go faster" (reserved for neck-to-neck races between 2 buses on a two lane highway with hairpin bends every 10 metres), and one that roughly means "stop the bus and stare at the hottie that i just spotted". All intelligent male passengers (myself included) have also learned to decode whistle signals primarily to separate the 4th signal from the remaining 3 ;)

  • buses do not have brake indicators on the rear, but they usually have them regularly spaced out along the inside. I can't read kannada, but i'm pretty sure they either read "say your prayers" or "up up and away"

  • it's probably one of the best kept secrets on earth - superman was paralysed when 15 xxxxl south indian hotties didn't heed the brake light following the "hottie alert" whistle and landed on his lap. Tch tch.

  • all buses have speakers at the rear, and many blast alien (or possibly kannada) music. some also have disco lights for the complete experience.

  • the brakes are wired to the disco lights and *not* the other way round.

  • rickshaw meters show the exact fare. That's right, no fare cards or clumsy multiplication. You pay whatever's the number on the meter. Dunno how they cope with rate changes, but that's not my problem :D

  • rickshaws come in all shapes and sizes, but they only seat 3 passengers. There are regular-shaped ones that are pretty much the same as mumbai rickshaws, there are the aero-undynamic ones that are flat in front for that little extra air resistance, there are even malformed ones that have a crookedly mounted front wheel and a very curvy rear that resembles that of one of superman's hotties. They manage to move in a straight line, in a definite thumbs-down to principles of conventional physics.

All said and done, mangalore has a surprisingly well run (and it's privately run at that!!!) bus system that can cheaply take you within 100 metres of any sbi atm of your choice from state bank.

Bega bega!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An afternoon of warm memories

today was the fourth day of my vacation in mangalore, and thanks to my oversleeping, our plans of visiting a few not-so-nearby temples and arbitrary places of tourist interest had to be junked. So it was back to planning whatever was left of our day. Thankfully my aunt hadn't left for work yet, so she and my mom were chatting away while my dad was busy poring over his trusty tourist guide (that's a typical scene at any of my family vacations, btw). That's when my mom realised that her godmother, who she hasn't met since her wedding 25 years ago, is still alive and in mangalore. Apparently that clinched the schedule for my mom. In the course of the discussion, my mom also discovered that another of my grandmom's cousins, of the few surviving ones, is also in mangalore. So we decided to go visiting today.

First stop: my mom's godmother's home. There was no direct bus, so we had to take two. We took the stairs to her first floor apartment.

Entering her home was like taking a single step that landed me into another era. It was a step from the somewhat-stuffy perspex walled staircase to an airy but cosy home with polished wood furniture and lace curtained windows. And my great-godmother! Aunt Norrah was all silvery haired and quite fragile looking (as expected), but as we sat down to chat and her spinster sister Aunt Patty poured us apple juice, i realised that they were anything but senile. They had such keen memories and such sparkling wit, that even my parents failed to catch some of their finer witticisms. We exchanged pleasantries, and then moved on to more interesting things like what all her kids are upto, and how her son was miraculously cured of a life threatening condition and went on to live a few more years despite all doctors' hopelessness at his condition. Then there was her recovery from very severe arthritis, during which she was practically disabled for over a year. And thanks to which she now is fine with almost no health problems, at her ripe old age of 87.

She then moved on to things like her late husband's love of gardening and his incredible rose garden that had no less than 127 varieties of roses, the 4 generations of dogs that they bred, their pet cat that was one of her dog's best friend, and so many other interesting things about her life. Surprisingly, she remembered a lot about my parents last visit, 25 years ago. We located a couple of her sons who live not very far away from us in mumbai. There were also a few photos, from the one taken at her sister's wedding (she has 7 sisters, the youngest of whom is the one who lives with her), to her cat, to the different houses she's lived in - she's lived in 4 cities during her long life.

We clicked a few photos too, for memories sake, and exchanged phone numbers, advance christmas wishes, and prayers for each others' continuing good health and happiness.

We then went on to visit my grandmom's other cousin, this time in an old-age home not very far away. After a bus ride and a longish walk in the sun with a girl from a nearby convent who showed us the way, we reached the home. We waited in the parlour while my grandaunt Hilda, who's again all of 87 years, made her way there unaided from her first floor room.

As expected, she was all silver haired and fragile, a little thinner than aunt norrah, but sprightly and active nonetheless. Aunt Hilda is my grandmom Jessie's cousin, and so there were so many tales of their youth, my great-granddad's job in rangoon (yeah, that's what she called it) my granddad's voice (he was an amazing singer), her memories of my mom's brothers, sisters and cousins, and lots of other things. Apparently the last time she was in bombay was in 1968 - and she even remembered why she went there.

We asked her about how she spends her time, and she told us that she felt that home was the perfect place to spend the evening of her life, and how she enjoys the company and the prayer, and the fact that they're very well taken care of.

Enjoying though we were, we decided to cut short our visit as it was her lunchtime (although she insisted it was okay, and even inquired about our lunch arrangements). She mildly protested our request to click a couple of photos (i don't know why old people always claim they don't look good - to me, they're invariably more beautiful and pleasant than most), but then agreed. Once again, we said our goodbyes and stepped out, taking the place's address so that we could mail her some photos of the rest of the family, and a letter once in a while.

I stepped out of the old age home feeling like my day has already been made. It felt so lovely to be in such sweet company, and especially to see such old relatives in good health and at their charming best. They reminded me of my grandmom, and by extension, of my childhood and the amazing years spent in her care. I pray i never forget these days, and that god always keep them in his care - they have nurtured so many, and have seen generations grow to be amazing persons. God bless!

A post a day...

While browsing my blog archives today, i noticed that i have posted 24 times (including this one) so far this month. Today’s the 27th, which means there’s still 3 days of november to go. If i keep up to my post-a-day rate (which i should, unless i run out of inspiration *and* am too lazy to paste in one of my ‘backlog’ posts, highly unlikely), i shall reach a projected 27 posts this month.

Not bad, i thought. Almost a post a day.

That’s when i scrolled down a little more through my archives and realised that my next highest number of posts in a month is a distant 21, then 19, followed by a very distant 13. My average (not including november) is again barely 13.

Strangest of all is the peculiarities of this month. November has been my most extreme of months in a long time. I spent the first 3 weeks of it in my grad training project, a lot of which was spent doing over 12 hours of work a day, with my average going as high as 18 hours of work in a clock day (24 in a rolling day...imagine that!!!). On the other hand, i’ve been doing nothing but party and laze around for the past week or so. I’ve not touched a pc since saturday morning either.

Contrast that with july and august, in which i posted 12 times each, even though most of each month was spent lazing around at home, and the internet as my sole occupation.

In retrospect, it all makes sense. The number of posts i churn out in a month has an almost direct correlation with how busy i am, and hence how much inspiration i am subject to.

The only puzzle is how i find the time :D

Monday, November 26, 2007

My slow internet day

I’m quite an internet user. On any given day, i always have more things to do on the internet than i have the time for.

There’s always email to read and reply to, blogs to write, read, explore and comment on, scraps to reply to, and when everything else is over, there’s facebook (i’m off messengers for now :D)

Not today. Since i woke up this morning, i have recieved exactly 2 emails, 1 scrap (and orkut’s scrapbook doesn’t even open on my cell), 2 facebook messages and no wall posts. Less than 5 updates from my twitter friends. Even worse, my google reader’s 57 odd subscribed blogs turned up barely 6 posts today. It’s almost as if the world has forgotten me :(

To top it all, i’ve got a lot of free time as i’m on vacation, and quite a few blog posts and emails (esp those with images or video) don’t open on my cell, further restricting the stuff i can do.

I don’t even know why all this is important enough to blog about. I guess i should drop the euphemistic title of "internet user" in favour of the more realistic "internet addict" and get on with it.

This post is my way of dealing with the withdrawal symptoms :P

Sunday, November 25, 2007

first impressions of a town

I’m not a very well travelled person. All of my childhood was spent in mumbai, with occasional visits to its outskirts. With college, i started travelling a little more on vacation...but thanks to my love of the sea, all of my trips have been to beachside villages. The nearest to a town i’ve been to so far has been pune...but calling pune a town is definitely stretching the meaning of the word.

So here i am, in mangalore, which from the look of it, is definitely a town.

The first thing that struck me was the lack of crowds. The train that i got off probably unloaded a 100 or so passengers, which is the kind of crowd that usually gets off a single coach in mumbai. Outside, there were rickshaws and vans, but no cabs. The bus stand was a short walk away, and was full (but not packed) with what looked like locals. Once on my way, i was struck by the evenness of the tar roads, and more than that, by the lack of traffic. The few vehicles here, mostly small cars (and occasional ambassadors, fancy that!) move sedately, despite the empty, winding roads.

The heart of the town did have all the usual chain outlets (reebok, big bazaar,etc) a few eateries, but except for a couple of classy places, most of them looked like home-run establishments. And going by the awesome food served up by my aunt’s cook, that’s the sort of food i should be looking for anyway :)

btw my folks and i did get lost on our way, but the people almost a kilometre away recognised the name of the apartment my aunt lives in, and directed us back.

So there it is...my first taste of a small town. Looks like this is gonna be an awesome week!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On the road...Almost!

If you’re reading this post, chances are i can successfully blog even while i’m away on vacation...it’s probably not gonna be as well formatted as i’d like it to be, and i’ve got no clue (and no time to find out, thanks to some last minute packing :D ) how to put html in. So what...as long as it works!

Btw there’s a nice way to check which post was typed on my phone and which was typed on my cell: though all posts *appear* to be in lowercase, some of them are not. Copy this post into a plaintext editor and see for yourself :)

btw one hopeful benefit of blogging from my cell is that my posts are shorter and more to the point. I’m not particularly keen on getting texter’s thumb on my vacation...so here i go :D

Friday, November 23, 2007

vacation blog

i'm going on a holiday...yayyy!!!

going on a holiday means a lot of change. a break from my routine.

no work
not many phone calls (roaming isn't all that expensive, but the way i use the phone, it will be :P)
limited music (only on my mobile)
limited emailing (only on my mobile)
not much blog reading
no orkutting
no facebooking
limited twittering (only on my mobile)

biggest of all...no blogging.

that's right...i do type out posts on my trusty cell, but i haven't figured how to post yet. which means, if i don't figure something out in the next 2 hours, my next post (after saturday morning's) will be on sunday, 2nd december. seems like forever!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

commitment

i know a lot of intelligent people. i know many hard working people. i know a few workaholics. but today, i was a witness to what i can only describe as total dedication to one's job.

imagine: after weeks of putting in 12+ hours of work daily (weekends included), followed by putting in over 16 hours of work on back to back days, your work gets rejected. not because you didn't work hard enough or smart enough, but simply because the task assigned was impossible to humanly accomplish in the given span of time. you set out thinking that nothing is impossible, wanting to reach for what others thought is impossible, but despite your best efforts the impossible remained, true to it's name, impossible.

what would you do?

first of all, i've been incapable (so far) of putting in more than 8 hours of productive work in a day. my first 6 work hours takes about clock 9 hours after figuring breaks etc. the next hours take about 6. and even in such a scenario, if i maange to put the same 15 hours of work on 2-3 consecutive days, i'm exhausted. completely burned out.

if i put in that much of effort, and do not achieve much toward my goal, i give up. i may clutch at a few straws on my way down, but down is where i'll be going. down is where i went in many such situations. thankfully, my life's given me plenty of opportunities, and i'm lucky to say that none of them have proven to be the last.

that doesn't mean i'm a quitter. i can push on doggedly when i need to, and do it against all mental and most physical odds. but regular successes, however small, are a must. i consider myself quite a self motivator, and an achiever in general. i thought my shortcomings were only human, and i'm about as skilled at my job as any other with my knowledge and experience would be. but i do quit, and i have quit. many times over in the past few days.

i changed my mind today.

at 1am, i asked my friend if he was going to leave for home anytime soon.

he said he won't.

i asked him what he would gain from working hard at this hour, since his project had already been pretty much rejected.

the answer was "nothing".

i asked him what he would lose if he went home and left the project as impossible (which i think is true, by the way).

the answer was "nothing".

i asked him why he persisted then.

the answer was: "i can't leave it half-complete, even if i'm not required to complete it."

today, i left for home feeling small. i have truly lived in the shadow of a giant. he may not succeed today, but he will soon beat the rest with his hard work, and his commitment.

all the best, mithiliesh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

super cool video

a very cool retake on harder, better, faster, stronger by daft punk - those women sure practised a lot to get it right!!! but then again, i have two and a half left feet so any non spastic dance move usually floors me. you judge for yourself. worth the bandwidth, i say :D

oh and don't forget to watch it till the end - they have a slightly shaky start, so you have to be patient :P



btw, many thanks to mac tyler for this one :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

the transition from (i don't know) to i don't care

a few days ago, i thought i lost all hope, but then i surprisingly gained some back. i wouldn't call it amazing (how amazing can anything be when you're sleep deprived, frustrated, and under extreme pressure? i assure you, not very), but it was definitely a coincidence of an interesting sort.

this time it's different. i've stopped praying for a miracle. i'm not even praying for this tough time to pass by. i'm not even resigned to the fate of my project. resignation implies some kind of sad acceptance. no. definitely not resigned.

i think i just don't care.

it's happened before, but not very often. it happens very rarely. and when it does, it does include some kind of depression. but this time, i'm making sure it's different. this time, i'm neither sad nor depressed.

i've always been the sort to hide my negative feelings behind a veil of humour or mirth. but deep down, i know that i can't hide from the feeling.

this time, it's different. i'm not even sad. i'm happy. i laugh at other people's jokes, even crack some of my own, because i really feel happy. i feel liberated.

i feel like i've conquered the ultimate fear: the fear of failure. the fear of ridicule.

now that i think of it, failure and ridicule aren't even things to be afraid of. i need them both. preferably in healthy doses, but then i don't complain when i overdose on say booze or chocolates or music, right?

i think i've lost the war, but shall win the battle.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the transition from desperation to resignedness

something happened in the wee hours of today morning. something that hasn't happened to me for a long time before.

today, i simply gave up.

all my life, i've faced my problems always armed with a plan b. a failed plan b just meant that i had to find a plan c. eventually, something works out. it always does.

not today.

i've given it my best shot, my not-so-best shot, all the way upto my worst shot. looks like i'm out empty.

i'm in a situation where i've just decided to ignore the problem.

update: defying all my prophesies of doom, a ray of hope just appeared while typing this out. i realised someone can help me. this is probably plan z.

the transition from resignedness to desperation unexpectedly begins again. i guess this is what they call hope.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

a new day

it's been a long time since i've seen the sunrise - much longer than the time since i was awake while the sun rose. it was today morning. time was ticking by while i was busy doing what i had to do. minutes stretched into hours, and the hours flew by so fast, that before long i was expecting light.

the light came. quickly, at that. i was spectator to the sky turning from inky black to indigo, to magenta, and gradually to a glorious orange, till there was the first burst of splendid light. what made the sunrise even more spectacular than usual was the fact that i was behind huge tinted glass panes, and the air was slightly unclear with the haze of a rising fog.

i watched, awestruck, from the confines of my office. two hours later, i decided i had enough and went home.

it was the longest amount of time i've spent in the office at a stretch. 22 hours. that's about 2 hours less than *double* my previous record (not considering the latter half the week that went by, of course :D)

oh and the beautiful moment had a beautiful (but unfortunately, mental) soundtrack: a new day has come, by celine dion. beautiful song, with lovely words, and with an even more beautiful video.

anyway, it's over an hour now since i got home from work, and i'm so sleepy that i've dozed off atleast four times so far while typing. oh wait. make that five. six. ahhh...i should just stop now. hopefully, i'll wake up in time to see the sunset :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

the midnight grease

it's 3:45am, and i've just stepped into my home, coming directly from guess where...work!!!

today's been a crazy day. it started off very placidly, thanks to some decent successes before i left from work the previous evening. then i had a sudden rude shock when the code that i thought would have worked perfectly and solved a big chunk of my problem, crashed an entire server instead...and the server refused to be revived till i deleted it. i kid you not.

i spent the entire day trying to figure out the problem, and finally sorted it out at 10pm. that's 12 straight hours of the programming equivalent of slamming my head into a concrete wall. the solution was so simple, and the problem so stupid that, to quote myself: "I need to invent some new expletives to express what i feel about myself".

the fact that it was pointed out to me by someone who neither understood what i was trying to do, nor saw what i had been trying all day didn't help at all.

so far so good. atleast the problem was located. then began the long, painstaking thing that i euphemistically call "fixing it".

it's not finished yet. in fact, the only thing that's finished is my capacity to think. my only consolation is that some of my friends (not my teammates though - my teammies left with me, having long since completed their assigned work) are still battling away at their keyboards. that's right, at 4am, right now as i type. god save their souls.

on the brighter side (if you can really call it that), i got to see the number of people who maintain the office at night so that we can use it without problems in the day. and that included some people who took apart part of the floor of the room i was in, redid some wiring, and then just put the floor back with no evidence left of their doings. the guy who organises the overtime drops home was pacing about the cars even though there was no one to make use of them. canteen boys were spraying fresheners or detergent (couldn't really tell, in my daze) on the cafeteria tables. as i got out of the elevator, someone carrying a 12 foot stepladder almost impaled me with it. talk about nightlife!

oh and the weather at 3am is so invigorating, that i actually reached home fresher than i left from the office. unfortunately, i have to sleep now as i have to be at my desk less than 6 hours later.

so there it is - my first "super late night/super early morning" at work. 5 hours later than my previous record.

good night. or rather, good morning!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

my 'best friend' zone

over the years, i've thought a lot about my relationships with the people around me and the way these things change over time and all other arbit related stuff. i thought i had my heart fairly well mapped out, and to be fair, it has been pretty accurate. a lot of things have changed though.

i've always found it easy to make friends, but it usually takes a lot of time for my friendships to grow really deep. over the years, i've noticed that i make best friends faster than i used to. it's probably due to a lot of factors (for example, more phone time compared to 4 years ago when i didn't have a cellphone, more freedom to travel now than when i was in school, etc).

but it isn't just about the opportunity to connect. i've realised that my friendships have been getting deeper. most of my friendships when i were in school revolved around common activities...stuff like playing together, traveling together, etc. in college, it was more about making a mental connection, and eventually (atleast to some extent) a philosophical connection. thankfully, i've managed to preserve a few of my old friendships to this day, and so i've now got some friends who i associate with very differently from others. so differently, in fact, that if they were to exchange notes about me someday, they'd probably be half in doubt that they were talking about the same person. not that i behave differently around different friends (which i do, but it's been diminishing over the years), but just that they've seen entirely different sides of me.

finally, the deepest connections i've ever made were on the frontier that was left for the very end: the emotional plane.

it may seem very strange, but it actually took me 23 years before i could make an emotional connection with someone i wasn't related by a blood relation.

i guess that's why i miss her so much more than any of my other friends i've drifted apart from.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

web 2.0 and me

i've been on the net for ages (a few months over 8 years, to be precise). i've read a lot on the net too. over the last few years, i've noticed a definite shift from purely one-way informational/entertainment sites to web 2.0 style user submitted content. prime example: blogs.

web 2.0, and especially blogs seem to have changed the way i use the internet. way back in '99, when i happened to get my hands on a html e-book, i had decided to make my own site. i wonder if it was my tender young age of 15 (ok, not-so-tender :P), lack of confidence in my ability to make a point, lack of things to say, or something else (but definitely not lack of disposable time or expended effort), but that site never saw the light of day. 5 years later, i did succeed in making my personal website, this time much more polished, and still half worth sticking the url in when i want to mention my achievements.

a couple of years later, the enthusiasm died down. i guess my site was a little too high maintenance (since it was all ASP with an Access 2000 database, and i was too lazy to put up secure forms for online updates, posting new stuff was a royal pain of access 2k + zipping + uploading an ever growing database). besides, i didn't have time to put in cool new stuff like rss, and 1asphost's free hosting was barely worth any kind of serious effort. besides, the stuff that was updated regularly was super boring. you had to be clinically insane to read my old blog in it's almost obsessive-compulsive detail. i think i realised it too. also, i then discovered social networking (a.k.a orkut), and an online presence was no longer a privilege, but a right. and a real commonplace one at that.

in the meantime, orkut and gCalendar together took the pain out of remembering friends' and relatives' birthdays/anniversaries. picasa, hi5, facebook, and now orkut, have eliminated the need for a troublesome photo gallery with manually resized photos and database updates and all.

to top it all, things like twitter and google reader are now my biggest sources/outlets of net-buzz. stumbleUpon would have made it too, if it wasn't for my dependence on my handicapped mobile phone browser and crippled-by-design browsers at work/my bro's pc.

web 1.0 has almost disappeared. if it disappeared one fine day without warning, it'd probably be a while before i noticed. the only 1.0 sites i use regularly are those that give me access to web 2.0 (i.e. user-generated) content - email, readers, search (not in that order, of course).

so i guess, for me, web 2.0 makes up about 95% of my online life.

on a not-so-very-related-note, 80% of that 95% is owned by google. i guess i deserve the fanboy label :D

Monday, November 12, 2007

feverish thoughts

no, i'm not running a fever, although i'm feeling pretty sick, for completely unrelated (a.k.a. psychological) reasons.

the trigger for this post is my friend saurabh's previous one. he said something that i've always wanted to, and reading it makes me feel exactly the way he did too.

i've noticed that every time i have a fever (no, not the mild 1-degree ones - they don't count), approximately the same thoughts run through my head. apparently, they're not connected with just being unwell, because things other than fever don't prompt that reaction. there's probably a medical/psychological/physiological connection, but i don't know. so here it is, although i'm pretty sure my words won't paint a picture clear enough for anyone but me:

it happens at night. not late enough for my parents or bro to be asleep, not early enough for there to be plenty of sounds outside. i'm lying alone in bed and closing my eyes without really falling asleep...

and then comes "the feeling".

it's this feeling of emptiness and smallness and darkness, but not in a scary way. the feeling of being nowhere and almost nothing, yet the feeling of there being something inside, something that's usually hidden. it's something like a dream, though i'm fully awake. more like a day dream, or a tinge of dreaminess to the world around. i hear people i love talking to me. they're being very quiet and serious. so serious, that i don't feel like talking to them. they tell me i'm gonna be fine, and i remain quiet in response. i know i will be fine, and that this is just a fever, but i feel that even though i recover from my illness, i won't fully recover from something. that something is a very dark and cold thing, unnamed and unseen and unimagined and unthought of. it just makes me feel cold, makes me bundle myself up despite the heat inside me. something that i'm losing my life to, day by day. i feel a quiet, dark desperation.

then comes this feeling of strength. a very small strength, like a little kid trying to escape from a blanket thrown playfully over it and held firmly by a mischievous dad or elder brother. not a panicked strength, but a firm one - like when the kid realises that his dad/bro aren't gonna be fazed by his desperate cries for help and wild thrashing of his feet. when he wriggles an arm out of the blanket and then tries to use it to slip out completely. when his dad/bro realise the fun part is over and it's pointless tormenting the kid further. and then comes the letting go. the kid is free, but tired. and so am i.

i sleep - tired, but peaceful.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

a weekend away from deadlines

my job's been getting pretty hectic of late, as can be witnessed by some of the hard decisions i've been forced to make. forget work life balance, i've actually been juggling the work-sleep balance. as it stood, i had no life.

then came the diwali weekend. i was prohibited from coming to work for the next 2 days. i expected to work-from-home (my office allows me to do that...cool, no?). as it turned out, i took the third day off too. not that i had a choice - it was sunday, i got home from gorai at about 4pm, and i was hungover :D. in fact, once i got home, i slept from 4pm to 10pm, something i haven't done in ages :P

the one thing that i learned about myself this weekend, was that i just refuse to take stress out of my office. wonder how good or bad that is, considering that i have tons of things to do, and that a little bit of productive work-from-home will contribute big time to my having a bit of a life during the following week. i guess it's not too late to start now (it's not midnight yet, and i've had 12 hours of sleep today). i wonder if i actually will :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

atheism and other related oddities

i don't know why i'm such a vehement and vocal defender of my beliefs in god's existence. i was also a defender of my religion for a long time, but i guess i've been getting lazier in that defense for years now. people who argue god's existence still get my goat though. i'm still wondering why. i've never been offended by vegetarianism, even though i love to eat meat. i've never been offended by global-warming-alarmists, although i personally believe global climate change is not a problem, but a challenge.

why this personal wish to have all and sundry to believe in god then? isn't it enough to recognise god's role in my life? do i have to offer my beliefs as one of the possible solutions to someone who's going through a personal crisis of faith?

the answer to these questions lead me to a crisis, thanks to my hodge-podge of beliefs. on one hand, my belief in the absence of absolute truth state that i am no more right than an atheist, an agnostic or whatever-have-you. on the other hand, my belief in god nudges me to help those who don't see the truth, the same way as i should help a blind person cross a busy intersection.

maybe there is an answer. maybe i should lead by example, and let people be inspired by my actions rather than my vocal beliefs. unfortunately, i know a lot of nice people who happen to be atheists.

ahhh forget it. i'll simply get on with my life. i've already tried defending god's existence once today, albeit very halfheartedly. i'll even it out by letting it slide the next time an atheist speaks up :D

Thursday, November 08, 2007

patterned posting

i've been twittering a lot of late. i usually limit myself to not more than once an hour, unless something really interesting happens. still, i've never really thought much about the contents of my tweets. atleast, not till i read caroline middlebrook's blog today. that's when i realised i was posting stuff that no one (other than myself, 2 years down the line, for memories sake) would possibly want to read. it reminds me of my first blog, which wasn't exactly the same, but came pretty darn close. here's a sample of a random post in my first blog (typos et al)

Tue, 26th October 2004
Went to college. There were supposed to be CC journal submission and vivas, but vivas were cancelled and journal submission was postponed from 9AM to 4PM - talk about anticlamixes. Reached home at 8:30PM and started ripping the DVD of "Big Fish". And Kevin got a job at a DVD library, ClixFlix. Basically I have an unlimited supply of DVDs for the next month or so. At the same time, I was also working on the project - unfortunately, I couldn't finish making the Data Dictionary at 12:30AM, so I just called it quits for the day.

now for some sample tweets:

krist0ph3r
day going good...but lotsa work left to do!!!
04:56 PM November 07, 2007 from web

krist0ph3r
blogged. somehow twitter keeps finding its way into my posts these days. shall sleep now. somehow blogging keeps eating into my sleep time.
02:49 AM November 07, 2007 from web

very interesting. apparently every form of personal undirected communication i engage in starts resembling a stalker-type account of my day to day activities. if i could paste a page from my 8-year-old personal diary, it'll fit my theory too.

why am i so obsessed with my own life? do i expect others to be similarly obsessed with my life? why do i even blog/twitter? why do i publicise my blog/tweets and wait to hear from people who read it?

i wonder.

ps: don't worry, i'm not gonna stop blogging anytime soon. it took me a year and a half before i gave up on my first blog. i'm just asking myself questions and hoping for answers :D

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

filling up the jar

there's an old story about trying to fill up a jar. while the moral of that one was "no matter how packed your life is, there's always room for beer", i've been reminded of it these days since my life has suddenly gotten packed too. packed with work. i've almost reached the stage where the only thing that i'll be able to pack in is beer (just kidding - water fills up the gaps much better :P)

to be fair, i've lived a nice (i wouldn't go so far as to call it easy ;)) life for too long. i've survived years of college with just 10 days of half-serious studying before each exam, a few more years of college with just 2 hours of serious studying before each exam, and a few exams with no studying at all. i've even survived a job with what felt like about 45 minutes of productive work in a day, 6 months in a row. surely, i couldn't have gotten off with so many years of multi-slacking just like that :D

so yeah...my last few days. the closest to karma that my life has ever got. 12 hour working days, 8 hour working weekends (ok, not 8 hours...but atleast i did *something*), work from home over dinner (ok ok...i shall stop joking now...but i do some work post-dinner every other night...seriously!!!). all of which has been eating into this long-untouched part of my life: my free time.

suddenly, idle entertainment time has turned into an exercise in squeezing as much of quality online/phone time as i can. suddenly, i have no time to finish books, because book time clashes with blog time, and blogs can be read on google reader on my cellphone in the dark while traveling (my apologies, ess dee - i shall return all your books very soon. as soon as i get a week to do nothing but read - that soon. :D).

there's some things i've now turned to doing out of need to save quality-office-workable time (i've done all of them before, but earlier it was more out of boredom than anything else)

  • read the newspaper in the restroom at home in the morning

  • mail while traveling/over lunch

  • twitter when i'm done blogging/mailing, so that friends who i don't have time to keep in touch with don't lose sight of me entirely (hopefully, more friends join up and add me too)

  • make personal calls over lunch

  • text in the elevator (no network in the elevator, so can't call)

  • power-nap while waiting for programs to finish loading/installing on my comp (eclipse and .net take so much time to start that i even get some quality dream time while they load :D)

  • scrap on orkut over dinner

  • facebook over dinner (only if i have any notifications in my mail)

  • blog when i should be sleeping

best of all:
do my accounts instead of playing worms world party (which i love very dearly) in the office restroom, because worms won't load unless i free some ram by closing my phone's browser, and however much i miss playing worms, i can't afford to wait for the browser to reload when i get out of the loo (ok, i admit, my phone is crappy in some ways :().

btw that was the one thing that really triggered the inspiration for this post. if i'm busy enough to prioritize anything over playing worms world party in the loo (and that too, unloading a browser!), it means i'm super-duper busy. it means i'm so busy, i'm probably busier than the proverbial guy who came first and third in a one-handed jerking off contest (oh yeah...that reminds me...uhhh...forget it ;))

i'll be off to bed now. strange as it may sound, i shall twitter while i fall asleep.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

we share our mother's health

amazing song and video by the knife: we share our mother's health.

some pictures simply don't need words. i hope you don't miss the symbolism.

Monday, November 05, 2007

the congruence of our lives

last night, i was at the home of a friend, who was missing the girl he loved dearly but with whom things refused to work out. we were listening to aerosmith's "what it takes", and both thinking about our own lives, the song and how steve tyler sang about exactly what we were feeling right then. and not just that song. the number of songs and singers who have touched me with their feelings, both when i was in and out of love, are countless. and i've had a feeling of "deja-vu" very often, when giving advice to my close friends. it's almost as if they all require the exact same things to be said, except at different times.

that's when i realised: each of our lives are almost the same. the only things that differ are the order and intensity with which things happen to us. and of course, the way in which we respond to those things.

i only wonder if the girl i miss is missing me too.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

irs: i remember series

i remember...the time when my classmates at vjti realised the time we have together was slipping away fast, and the memories that we have are too precious to be lost. and thus was born the irs: the "i remember...series"

to his credit, jeetu (officially jeetendra, but it almost feels weird calling him that now) has put up a site with his contribution to the irs.

someday, i shall put up my own testament to my fondly cherished memories of vjti and its great people (and many great friends). till then, we will have to be satisfied with jeetu's "i remember...series"

ps: the rest of the irs is in my gmail inbox...but it'll not be a very nice thing to publish it online without the authors' consent :)

my fastest TTL

i was supposed to be outside my office at 7:30am today. Unfortunately, thanks to my falling asleep before setting an alarm, and fortunately, thanks to my bro who woke up at 7.15, saw me fast asleep and realised something wasn't quite right, i woke up at 7.15.

Thus began a mad rush to get out of the door as quickly as possible, hopefully also not skipping too many of my daily activities in the process.

t0: get out of bed.
t4: finish brushing teeth.
t6: take medication.
t11: finish breakfast.
t13: finish dressing.
t14: found and worn socks.
t15: worn shoes and bag.
t16: taken all accessories, pack charger and phone.
t16.1: leave

thankfully,the bus to aamby valley left at 8, and not 7:30 as i was previously told, so i was actually early...and set a new personal record in the process too :)

btw TTL = time to leave :D

ps: this post was typed on 27th october 2007, in the bus on my way to aamby valley.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

drifting away

of late, i've noticed that my blog has been increasingly drifting off into humour for humour's sake. while some parts of my life are genuinely funny, and i do pride myself at seeing the funny side of otherwise somber situations, i somehow feel the current mood of my blog doesn't really fit the tone of who i am, or even who i want to be.

starting today, i'm gonna make a conscious decision to not say something just for the sake of adding spice/humour here, unless it actually happened to me.

oh and i think the same should apply to over-verbose posts. i guess my lazy filter has itself gotten lazy over the past few months. not anymore. i don't enjoy reading screen-fulls and screen-fulls of monospaced text, and i assume no non-terminally-bored human does either.

so there it is - a leaner, meaner blog. starting now. hope you like it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

longest path first

i used to travel home daily from work by rickshaw. these days though, thanks to various reasons, i occasionally take a bus home.

taking a bus vs. taking a rickshaw may seem like a simple time vs money tradeoff, but it isn't as simple. taking a bus has quite a few advantages too:

  • if i get to sit, a bus is more comfortable

  • if i have a book (which i usually don't because it's too much effort, but still...), i can read in the bus

  • if i get to sit, i can sleep in the bus as i don't have to worry about hanging on while the ric swerves around corners and vehicles :D, or giving directions for that matter

  • the air in the bus is much cleaner, as a ric is usually right in the face of the exhaust of a diesel-guzzling truck that's invariably stuck right next to the ric in a traffic jam

  • the sound of traffic is much less in a bus, so i can enjoy good music all the way, and not just outside traffic jams

  • and then again, taking the bus one-way costs a good 50 bucks less than a ric. not very significant on any given day, but it adds up to a half-decent sum at the end of the month :P

so with all these advantages, and the fact that my evening is effectively already over when i step out of the office (i left a little past 9 today), i decided to take a bus.

to put it all in perspective, i shall put a comparision of the time it usually takes to travel home from my office:

  • 20 minutes: rickshaw after midnight (when there's no traffic and few signals)

  • 25 minutes: bicycle after midnight (again, when there's no traffic and few signals)

  • 30 minutes: bicycle at any non-traffic-free time of day (yeah, the signals add that 5 minutes - i just love weaving through traffic jams on my cycle :))

  • 40 minutes: rickshaw during typical peak rush

  • 50 minutes: bus 202/707 during typical peak rush

  • 65 minutes: bus 224 during typical peak rush and the current state of the road (it goes by a road that's in pretty bad shape)

  • 110 minutes: today.

the interesting part is how. seriously, a perfect combination of bad timing and bad luck.

i got out of the office at 9pm

5 minutes later, the office car that drops us to the main road arrived

for some strange reason the car waited for 5 minutes before leaving (it usually leaves every 5 minutes, and when i checked today's log book, it actually skipped its 9:05pm trip)

after 5 minutes of waiting, 2 buses arrived. bus 202 and bus 707. both follow the same route, but 707 costs a buck more. i obviously got into bus 202.

when i brought my ticket, the conductor told me the bus won't take its usual route, but would stop at the depot halfway. since it was too late to change buses now, and i already had a pretty good seat, i decided to sit on.

about 2/3rds of the way through it's shortened route, i saw another bus waiting at a signal, waiting to join the road my bus was travelling on. it was bus 206, which goes all the way to (almost) my doorstep.

i got off at the next stop, since that would increase my chances of getting a good seat in that bus, which i would be taking to go home anyway

i waited for a couple of minutes, and the bus arrived. i got on the bus.

2 minutes later, when i'm purchasing my ticket, the conductor told me the bus will stop halfway through its usual route. unfortunately, it's too late to change my mind now - that's the only bus route that goes from that stop to my home. i sit on.

i alighted at its last stop, borivli station. walked to the next stop, as there's a single queue for both the buses that go to my home.

there was no bus for the next 10 minutes.

when a bus finally arrived, it wasn't bus 206, but the one that goes almost till my home and then takes another road, 1 stop before my home. to top it all, it was jam packed, and i barely squeezed into the door before it started moving. the only plus was that i met ralston in the bus.

finally, at 10:50pm, i reached home (or rather, one stop away from home). trudged my weary ass up the stairs and crashed into the first chair i could reach.

in retrospect, i should have taken the ric.

half a year

it's been exactly half a year since shruti and I took the biggest step of our lives. the memories are still as fresh as ever. but scratc...