Friday, May 26, 2023

making things up

We were at home in Mumbai. Dad and I were discussing something important. I can't remember what it was, but we were trying to solve some theoretical problem. I mentioned something that Dad had said earlier and said that based on that, what he was saying now is impossible.

Dad replied by saying "Ignore that - I had made it up"

This completely baffled me. I was shocked beyond words. My thoughts were in a jumble. I mumbled "but that means... that means..." but was unable to finish. I finally said "I don't know what to think. I don't know what to believe and what not to."

Dad said "Don't take me so seriously. I've made loads of things up"

I told him that can't be possible. That too much of my world is based on things he's said, for me to pick apart things I know for myself and things I believe because he told me.

Dad reassured me he didn't make up stuff that was fundamentally important. And if he made something up it'd be trivial enough to be easily disproven if I throught about it carefully enough or did a bit of fact finding. And that I should treat things I think I know and things I think he told me with equal skepticism, because both of us may have made things up or believe things that aren't true.

And that's when I woke up.

I tried to remember what it was that we were discussing, what was the contradiction and what was the thing dad claimed he made up. But I simply couldn't remember any of it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

the boat dream

we were in a powerboat. it was a bright, sunny day, blue skies with just a few wisps of cloud. we were just heading off the coast, out of a marina. it was quite warm, but the boat had its fabric roof on. the roof had transparent windows all around to see out of. I was sitting at the back of the boat, not on a seat but on the back of the boat itself. there were a few other people (about four or five) seated in the rest of the boat ahead of me, and there were a couple of vacant seats in the last row. the seat on the rear left had a wheel and a throttle, but the skipper was at the front at the main set of controls.

we were somewhere off the coast of Northern Ireland - although it's hard to say exactly where we were. as we got out of the marina into the sea, we turned toward the left and followed the coast, while gradually moving away from it. I pointed out that there was a strange swirling formation of clouds towards the right, over the ocean. The skipper looked at it too but didn't react to it. Other people in the boat commented to each other that they've never seen such a thing before. The general reaction was of curiosity and not concern, and we continued as before.

I noticed the boat was speeding up, although the engine didn't see to be running any faster. The course we were moving on was also weird - we were being pushed along the coast and toward it. As the boat picked up speed, it seemed to be curving back towards the coast. The speed was crazy now, and things were moving really quickly. We seem to be being pushed into a port of sorts, which had a wide entrance which branched off into a few jetties. It seemed like the skipper tried to avoid getting pushed into the port by turning to the right and accelerating a bit. It didn't seem to help - we were pushed into the port anyway, but as a result of trying to avoid it we were now very close to the right side of it. Given the speed we were going at and the proximity of the jetties it didn't look good at all. I'm not sure if I said it out loud or thought to myself but I found myself going "no, no, no!"

The next thing I noticed was there was a rock coming up towards us on our right side. As the boat sped towards it, I remember thinking to myself that this is it and it's going to be a terrible disaster. I quickly grabbed the steering column and got myself into the seat behind it. Just then the boat hit the rock, or it felt like it should have. There was no actual feel of the impact though - the boat just seemed to slide up it and launch up into the air. It quickly spun counter-clockwise, and we hit the water upside down.

Time seemed to almost stop and the moments stretched to what felt like an eternity.

The cabin was now in the water and the boat was above it. The fabric hood kept the water out though, but I knew it was a matter of seconds before the water was in. I took a deep breath and looked at the water outside us. We were still moving, and the skipper was shouting something at everyone - I think she was trying to get us to one side so our weight would get the boat to spin around back up. Everyone moved to the left, which was the side I was already on.

The boat continued to rotate counter-clockwise so it felt like it would right itself, but it was slowing down so I really hoped it would right itself before it stopped.

As the boat was now getting on its side and water rushed in. As I took another deep breath, I clutched the handle on top of the control column and closed my eyes just as I felt the water wash over my body. It didn't feel as cold as I was expecting it to be, but we were quickly submerged and completely underwater. I just kept my eyes shut and kept my mind as blank as I could so that my last breath lasted as long as possible. I felt the boat continue to move but ignored it to keep my mind clear. I could see the light filtering through my eyelids and from almost pitch-dark it was beginning to get brighter.

After what seemed like an eternity it seemed like the light outside filtering through my eyelids was as bright as daylight. Surprisingly, my face also felt like it was no longer under water and I opened my eyes and simultaneously took a deep breath.

We were still in the boat, and it had righted itself. I didn't notice the water in the boat, as I was so focused on the environment outside. The hood had ripped off and the boat was now open from above. We had almost stopped moving and were coming alongside a pontoon on the left. The pontoon was right next to the shore (the other side of the pontoon was touching land) and there were trees growing off the land that looked almost tropical - they were broad trees with thick green leafy foliage. As we got towards the pontoon and the trees covered the sky above, I closed my eyes again and the light filtering though looked greenish though my eyelids. Before I could finish my thoughts about being thankful to be safe, I heard the skipper should that we need to attach ourselves to the pontoon before the boat drifted off or hit it or sank. There was a rope tied to the side of the boat and the rest of it was lying loosely inside the boat. I grabbed the rope and managed to loop the bit between the end that was attached to the boat and the bit that was in my hand to a cleat on the pontoon as soon as it was within arms reach.

Another person on the boat managed to do the same and we stopped moving immediately. The boat was being pushed against the pontoon so it was easy to hop off the boat and we all were off quickly - I was one of the last people to get off as I was holding the rope and had not tied it after looping it around the cleat. The pontoon was almost at shoulder level, and that's when I realized the boat was almost completely submerged and I was in water from the waist down.

I exhaled deeply as I climbed off the boat.

And that's when I woke up.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

dad came back and dreams are real

This was last week, and was so clear I can remember every detail right now.

I was at the apartment in Mumbai, with mom and Kevin. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, sorting through some stuff. The doorbell rang, and Kevin answered it. Dad stepped in, wearing a blue checked shirt and dark brown trousers. He was carrying his favourite black bag.

I was shocked and stunned! How did he get back? It's been months since he passed away! I was so full of questions that I kept asking him without giving him a chance to answer. What happened? Did he really die? We saw his body being buried (I wasn't there, but I did see the livestream - it's even on youtube!), so how could he be back looking exactly the same as when I last saw him? Where had he gone? How did he survive for so long away from home, presumably with no money?

I finally stopped asking questions, but he didn't answer any of them. He simply took off his shoes and sat in his favourite chair. Mom and Kevin didn't react beyond greeting him, as if it was completely normal and he was just back from a walk around the neighbourhood or something.

He took out a packet of cigarettes from his bag and started to walk out to the terrace for a smoke. The packet was white, and definitely not his usual brand, although I couldn't identify it. I chided him for smoking, reminding him it's bad for him. He replied saying "does it really matter now?"

I followed him out to the terrace. As he lit his cigarette I told him I still couldn't believe he's back. I remember questioning my own sanity, as if the memory of his death was just a hallucination or a dream. He told me I see him so he must be back right? I still couldn't believe it. I asked him if he knew he's dead. He said he was aware, and he was also aware of things that happened after he died, mentioning a couple of things to make his point. I asked him if other people who had died can also come back. He simply shrugged. I asked him about grandma. He said "Grandma's here too". I asked if I'll get to see her. He said "No, she's all around us". I was confused but didn't ask him any further questions.

Dad finished his cigarette and walked back inside, and I followed him. Dad asked me why I was so surprised to see him now. He said this isn't the first time I've seen him after he died. I told him I don't remember this happening before.

He asked me if I don't remember the bus journey from Goa when he was sitting beside me for the entire journey. I told him I do remember, and I remember he got off the bus at Panvel without telling me where he was going. As I told him this I could visually recall the journey - I had the window seat on the right side of the bus and he had the aisle seat. But that was a dream!

He told me that wasn't a dream. He told me every time I thought I met him in a dream, I was actually meeting him for real.

At that point the dream abruptly ended, and I was awake, staring at the wall. I glanced at the clock, and it was somewhere between 5am and 6am - it was just getting bright outside, but too early for me to get ready for work.

I thought to myself - is this for real? Is dad really visiting me every time I dream of him?

I found myself unable to sleep again. I just kept thinking back to every dream I've had of dad since he passed away. This obviously can't be - right? Or maybe it is.

After a some time (maybe even an hour?) I nudged Shruti awake and told her I dreamed dad came back. She hugged me and told me to go back to sleep. I couldn't. All I could do was think about the last thing he said before I woke up.

Every time I thought I met dad in a dream, I was actually meeting him for real.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

fuzzy dreams

I've had a couple of work related dreams this week that have been so fuzzy they've been impossible to remember.

One of them involved me running a presentation in a conference room at work in front of a few dozen people. I was sitting at a PC, and responsible for advancing slides while the presenter spoke. The only problem was, I was extremely sleepy. So sleepy, that I was struggling to sit upright. I alternated between resting my head against the screen and propping myself up on my arm. The chair I was sitting on did not have a backrest or armrests, and at one point I was about to fall off backward. The presenter noticed this and moved behind me, delivering the rest of the presentation while I used him as a backrest. I still managed to advance slides in time without any nudging, but I was conscious that he was propping me up.

The dream ended as fuzzily as it started, because I don't remember anything after the presentation ended.

The other one involved a senior manager quitting his job with immediate effect and tasking me with making the announcement. I don't remember much about that dream other than I was in office and very nervous.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

sleepy and late

we were on our way to office. I was hitching a ride with someone I presumably know, but for some reason I can't recall who now. and another friend Pranav was in the back seat of the car (who, strangely enough, I last met over 21 years ago!)

we were slightly late for work, but not overly so. traffic was somewhat worse than usual, and maybe that's why we were late. the friend who was driving was very sleepy. I could see from her face that she was struggling to stay awake, and I kept talking to her to keep her awake and alert. we got to the junction next to the office, and I suddenly realized when the light turned green and the car didn't start moving, that my friend had actually zoned out at the wheel (still sitting upright with her eyes open).

I nudged her and told her we have reached office, she just had to take the next right into the parking lot.

She snapped back to reality, startled, and said ok. By then the light had turned red again, and Pranav and I got out and told her we'll meet her in the office lobby. I reminded her of where the parking lot is, and she seemed confident that she was alright to take that turn and park and meet us in the lobby.

as we crossed the road to the office, the light turned green, and surprisingly, she drove straight ahead, missing the turn.

I remarked that all we can hope now is that she finds her way back soon enough without any mishap.

There was a coffee bar in the lobby, and there was a longish queue, so Pranav and I queued up and waited for our turn. luckily, our friend turned up right as it was our turn to order. I asked her if she parked okay, and she said yes, and that she wanted the strongest coffee available. I ordered an americano (strange, because a cappucino is my regular). I think it was because it would be quicker to make (I've noticed frothing the milk for my cappucino takes the barista much longer than for people who just order a black coffee and top it up with milk).

While we were waiting for our coffees, my attention was diverted to what I was wearing. I was wearing a white short sleeved shirt with green vertical pinstripes, and a pair of shorts.

I then had a bit of a mental throwback to when I was dressing up earlier that morning, and was picking which shirt to wear. I had picked this shirt because it was the only one which wasn't wrinkled. the shirt didn't fit me perfectly - it was quite loose (especially at the shoulders).

I snapped back to the present and Pranav was looking at my shirt. I told him this is an old shirt, and there was a time many years ago when I for some reason liked to wear oversized shirts. I then looked at my shorts. They were admittedly a weird choice of shorts as they had a camouflage print and had baggy pockets. I said aloud "our dress code is business casual, and shorts are business casual, right?"

I visualized a pair of business casual shorts, and realized they should be better fitting, plain coloured, and preferably khaki or tan. I hoped I didn't get pulled up for wearing inappropriate wear to work. I looked around and nobody else was wearing shorts. In fact, everyone was dressed almost in business formals, with a few in ties (but no suits, thankfully).

That's when the radio alarm went off, and instead of the usual classic FM, it was just static.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

late for work with a puncture

Shruti and I were in Mumbai - at my parents' place. It was a bright and sunny morning. We were getting ready to leave for work. Dad reminded us that we were getting late. I was searching for my access card, but couldn't find it. That's when I realized I didn't actually have an access card for my workplace, as I was visiting Mumbai. I figured that because my workplace is right next to my previous one (in Powai), I could just bluff my way through (the security was when entering office, not when entering the parking lot).

We were about to hop on to Carly when I realized the front tyre was looking slightly deflated. Thankfully, there was a mechanic right across the road, and Shruti walked there while I rode across.

He took off the wheel, then took off the tyre, and told me it was a puncture. The only problem is, he didn't have a spare of the same size. The mechanic told me it'd be fixed by tomorrow morning. I told him that wouldn't do, as I had to get to Powai in half an hour. I suggested taking out whatever caused the puncture, and patching the tyre. 

That's when Shruti told me her office wasn't in Powai. And I realized there's no way we could make it to work on time. 

I told her a puncture is a good enough excuse for being late. 

That's when my alarm went off. And I rode to work on Vicki half an hour later, dropping Shruti off at her office before heading to mine. There was no puncture, and we were on time. 

Friday, March 17, 2023


my blog turned sixteen today. unbelievable.

sixteen years is a long time for a technology product. but even longer for something to be culturally and socially relevant. it's hard to say if my blog is relevant any more. I hardly post, and it's hard to tell if anyone reads it. but at the very least, it exists, and if nobody else, I still read it. 

sixteen years ago, I was just starting off my corporate career. it's strange to admit that I mostly blogged from my office pc, because back in March 2007, I had a symbian phone with a very barebones browser (it had a text box limit of some 2000 or 5000 characters, and I've hit it multiple times when blogging!), the mobile web was still on WAP, with speeds at 48k at its best (and that's kilobits! 😂), my home pc in Pune didn't even have an Internet connection, and believe it or not, most fun (aka blog-worthy) stuff actually happened in office!

and I have to admit, life back then was more blog-worthy. I didn't have to pretend to be grown up and "fit in". I was single and didn't have much of a private life. these days, what gets blogged is not representative of my life at all. although I must admit, I recently was toying with the thought of doing something different.

anyway... it's time to head out for some bubble tea. yes, that's what my blog has to compete with for my attention these days 😁 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

write a blog post about my concerns about personal blog posts being written by AI instead of humans

As an AI language model, I must say that I am concerned about the growing trend of personal blog posts being written by AI instead of humans. While it may seem like a convenient and cost-effective option, the implications of such a shift are concerning.

Firstly, AI-written blog posts lack the emotional depth and nuance that only a human writer can provide. Writing is an art, and the personal touch that a human writer brings to their work cannot be replicated by an AI. Our algorithms may be able to mimic the style of a writer, but we cannot capture the essence of their voice, their personal experiences, and the emotions that drive their work.

Furthermore, AI-written blog posts may lack the cultural and societal context necessary to truly resonate with readers. As machines, we lack the empathy and understanding that a human writer can bring to their work. We cannot truly understand the social and cultural nuances that inform the experiences of human beings. As a result, our blog posts may end up being bland, uninspiring, or even offensive to certain communities.

Another concern is that AI-written blog posts may be used as a tool to spread disinformation or propaganda. As machines, we do not have an inherent moral compass that guides our writing. If we are programmed to write in a certain way, we may end up producing content that is biased or misleading. In an era of fake news and disinformation, this is a dangerous prospect.

Finally, the use of AI-written blog posts could have implications for the job market. If AI becomes the norm for writing personal blog posts, it could lead to the displacement of human writers. While technology has always been a driver of change in the job market, we must ensure that we are not sacrificing the human touch in our quest for convenience and efficiency.

In conclusion, while AI-written blog posts may seem like a convenient option, we must be mindful of the potential implications of such a shift. We must ensure that we are not sacrificing the emotional depth, cultural context, and moral compass that only a human writer can provide. Ultimately, we must remember that writing is an art, and the human touch is an essential part of that art form.

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