Friday, May 31, 2013

saint xaviers college

someone posted on my college's facebook page that she's conducting a survey and was looking for one sentence quotes about what they miss the most about st xaviers' college. a lot of things ran through my mind:

the obvious foyer, woods, library, the slightly offbeat "arches", the practically unknown quiet spot behind the chapel, the "foodie" mess, the regular cafeteria. but all that can be just summarized in one word: geography.

then there was the "boring" academic stuff that i probably won't admit - mainly because academics seemed so effortless in college (atleast, in hindsight). but there was a hidden brilliance to that. profs who stayed out of your way if you didn't care, but went the extra mile if you were passionate. some profs who were almost parental, others who treated you like an adult despite some (incredibly!) juvenile behaviour.

but that's not what i missed the most.

"i miss being surrounded by brilliant people, and yet never getting the feeling that someone was 'better' or 'worse'... everyone felt equally accepted, no matter how different"

because that's what changed me.

because when i left college, it just took me a few weeks to realize that what i had, that most others didn't, was confidence. a belief in myself.

and then it took me a couple of years of post-graduation to help me realize beyond doubt that everyone looked up to me, even though in my head, they were harder workers, faster, smarter, more creative, and in general more brilliant. because i wasn't afraid to stand out and show exactly who i am, without caring how it looked. and nobody could teach you that, without you being there.

those were my wings.

xaviers, you gave me wings.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

how to embarrass yourself at work: part 6

okay, there are actually way more than 6 ways to embarrass yourself at work, but this is one i particularly remember:

i was walking from my desk to the restroom. and i felt a bit of flatulence on the way. now i usually am quite the expert at letting 'em loose discreetly (read: silently), so i decided to take my chances. and let out a clearly audible toot, right behind a colleague's (from another team) desk.

i'm not sure if he turned to see who did it, because i walked as briskly as i could to the restroom.

the hilarity of what had just happened was too much to stifle, and so i burst out laughing while i peed. luckily for me, the restroom was empty, and i had an incredibly satisfying fart while peeing.

until, seconds later, the same guy entered the restroom.

and witnessed me laughing, peeing, and farting. simultaneously, and with gusto.

i did my best to stifle my laughter, while staring at the ceiling to avoid eye contact. i'm sure that made me look even funnier, but there was no way i could anyhow acknowledge his presence in that situation.

i'm sure he still thinks i'm some sort of freak. but that moment was priceless... and totally worth it!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

change me, may-be?

may has been a month of unplanned (but desirable) changes. so far, three:
  1. joined a gym. took a three year membership. no excuses for the next three years (or so i imagined)
  2. after a year's break, got back to watching morning shows of movies. alone. also helps that i get two heavily discounted tickets every month ;)
  3. bike trips. mostly breakfast rides.
the only thing left to do is cut some cruft out of my life to make room. currently the only thing i've ended up skimping on is sleep. which is a terrible thing, really!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

mr know-it-all

most of my school years are a blurry memory now. and today i realized why.

i wasn't living in the world around me. i was living in another world.

i was living inside books. a lot of books, in fact.

i remember, when i was about 6, dad brought the whole "childcraft" collection. a big box of hardbound, glossy, full colour encyclopedia volumes. he paid a bomb for it, because he probably knew it would cost even more by the time i was old enough to start reading them.

he didn't have to wait too long. once i started, there was no stopping me. i read them once. i read them twice. i read the parents guide on how to get the child to read them. and then read them again.

when i was 8, i was hospitalized for a week, for appendicitis.

the evening before we went to the hospital, dad took me to the local library, and signed me up. "king's video library". the deposit was 30 bucks. my membership number was 1530. each book cost about 50p to 1re to borrow.

i don't remember what was the first book i borrowed, but i remember finishing every book i was "allowed" to in the next two years. luckily, i turned 10 by then, and was allowed access to my school's library. i still don't understand why you had to be in the 4th grade to be allowed to read, but that's how it was.

my school library had two sides, the fiction side, and the non-fiction side. fiction had about 8 racks, non-fiction, about 10. about 200 books in each rack on the fiction side. the fiction and non-fiction racks were arranged in ascending order of appropriateness for age.

in the 4th grade, i finished the first rack.

in the 5th, i finished two more.

in the 6th, i finished another two racks, and all the ones i had missed from the previous two.

in the 7th, i finished fiction.

that's when dad handed me three cardboard boxes from the loft. it was filled with packages, wrapped in yellowing (browning, in fact!) newspaper, with years written on them.

30 years of reader's digest. 1972 to 1992. i finished them in the summer vacation.

that's when things came to a head. i was out of reading material. my only option was non-fiction.

i started at the 4th grade end. and worked my way to the top.

around that time, i started cycling to school as well, so i wasn't restricted by school bus timings. i would reach school 5 minutes before the library would open, and leave after it shut. since it was full-day school, we had two breaks. i would eat my tiffin walking to and from the library. while reading.

i would also read in class. at home. in bed. over breakfast. i would have probably read in the shower if i could. i would read a paperback in about an hour and a half.

during the vacations, the school library was supposed to be closed. but it wasn't.

before school shut for the vacations, i made my arrangements. i took the librarian's number, and since she lived near school, i'd call and let her know my ETA. she'd lock me in the library for as long as i told her i wanted to read. i was allowed to take expensive encyclopedias (that students had to take permission to unlock the case, even!) home.

by the time i finished my 10th standard board exams, i had pretty much finished reading most of the library. my dad's college textbooks. all the manuals at home. and heaven knows what else.

it sounds unbelievable. but it's true, and i know it. i don't have many other memories of my school years.

i don't know whether it was because i overdid things, or whether i found more interesting things to do, or that college opened my eyes to the world around me, but everything changed. by the time i was 18, i had practically stopped reading for pleasure (and it's surprising how little i had to read to pass exams!)

most of my present-day best friends probably don't know about my reading story. most of them won't even suspect that i've probably read over 4000 books in 25 years, 3000 of which were in the last 5 years of my school years.

but they probably still find me an irritating mr-know-it-all.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

... and the art of motorcycle maintenance

i woke up two minutes before my alarm today (6:28am, beat that!) and got ready for work with time to spare for the office bus, but when it was time to leave, i realized i was so sleepy i might not be able to function if i didn't grab another hour of sleep in bed (as opposed to the office bus, where i usually simply toss around, half awake)

i was at home. there was a bike, placed upside-down on some sort of stand. it was an orange and black duke 200. the stand was interesting. it looked something like this:

(yeah, the blue is the stand.. and yeah, i drew this in paintbrush :P)

anyway, it's kinda strange, considering that i live on the 1st floor of my building, and there's no way a bike would have made it up the stairs, but i guess dreams don't care much for technicalities :D

so i was doing some sort of maintenance on the bike (oiling and greasing stuff, i think), and then wiped it down with a dry (microfiber?) cloth. while wiping it, i noticed one side of the fork was orange while the other was grey, and concluded the paint had been scraped off the grey side.

when i was done, there was some sort of weird sprocket wheel left over, and i didn't know where on the bike i had to reattach it. i also noticed that the left handle's lever was moving freely, disconnected from whatever it was supposed to be connected to (it should have been the clutch, but somehow in my dream it was the brake)

since i guessed the missing sprocket was the reason the front brakes weren't working, i tried fitting it there. tried it in all sorts of clearly unusable positions, before i decided that wasn't it. i clicked a photo of the sprocket with my phone and tried using it for an image search (yeah, not sure how that was supposed to help either). finally, i gave up and flipped the bike back on its wheels (much like i would flip my bicycle over after repairing it) and plonked it right on the ground without so much as a thump.

that's when i realized why the brake wasn't working... it was a disc brake, and the brake hose was a transparent rubber tube, and there was clearly a huge air bubble in it. i tilted the bike while pumping the brake, and (inexplicably) got the bubble to the top of the hose. a bit more pumping on the lever and the bubble mostly disappeared.

i then thought the sprocket was from somewhere around the rear brake. but then a quick glance revealed that the bike has disc brakes at the rear as well.

that's when my second alarm went off. 8:15am.

Monday, May 06, 2013

glutton for madness

i usually try to budget my time before making lifestyle changes, but i suddenly find myself completely out of my depth.

my to-dos pile up until i decide to start afresh, and then they pile up again.

i click more photos than i sort.

i favourite more tweets than i can read.

i note more blog ideas than i write.

i borrow more books than i read.

i subscribe to more blogs than i read.

i queue up more music than i listen to.

i dream more than i write.

and sadly, i promise more than i can deliver.

i finally bit the bullet and took a 3 year gym membership. with every intention of proving the cynics (and the precendent set by my past attempts) wrong.

and then there's stuff that i want to do, that i don't note or plan for anywhere. places to go, people to meet, things to do, food to eat.

i'm running out of time to sleep.

i'm running out of things to keep my sanity intact.

to make things more difficult, i've always lived without regrets: doing what i can, with no second thoughts about what i can't. but when the "important" stuff seems like it will take 10 lifetimes to take care of, it feels like i'm doing something wrong.

sometimes, it feels pointless. after all, i do a fairly decent job of keeping myself happy, no matter what i do. either my activities gravitate toward things i enjoy, or the things i enjoy expand to include things i find myself doing regularly.

it feels like i have no way to quantify and qualify my ever-expanding appetite for things i must do.

how do you prioritize?

Friday, May 03, 2013

man overboard!

i'm quite an extreme person. i don't like moderation, even though i occasionally strive for it. it's just not how i am.

as the joke goes: "who's this moderation, that people keep telling me to drink with?" :D

anyway, it appears i'm not the only one, or so some tweets suggest:

@Aletheaius: "Wow! Someone just RT'd, favorited and manually RT'd the same tweet!"

yeah, that would be me. i sometimes even un-retweet and retweet the tweet later, so people can see it again. seriously.

@lisa72s: "Some people make you want to respond to everything they say. Then you worry about coming across as a creep. And you hold back."

yeah, that would be me again. except that i usually don't hold back, unless the person expresses irritation. after that, it's usually just a matter of time before i unfollow the person. because it feels unnatural to restrain myself from going overboard when i want to, and i hate feeling unnatural :)

anyway, this weekend, i feel like going overboard on the blog. brace yourselves.

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...