Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Deja Vu2

now I have the nasty feeling that some lesser god is playing games with me.
went back home and installed halo
after you've killed off all the convenant bugs that boarded your ship, guess where you crashland on.
an artificial ring-shaped habitat. classic arc of the ringworld rising overhead.
if it wasn't so blatantly obvious, it'd be creepy. disturbing.
right now it just feels like fate is beating me on the head with a rubber mallet.

or am i just missing something altogether?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Deja Vu

picked up strata and within the first twenty pages i was flooded with having seen this before.
you've read ringworld? same thing. artificial habitat on a cosmic scale, collapse of civilization, marooning of the motley crew - one/two rational humans, a bloodthirsty kung/kzin, search for the builders, a paranoid pierson's puppeteer and a long-suffering shand.
the two books are identical, and that's not what inspired the deja vu.

kzinti have two arms. kung have four.

i can distinctly remember, even as i read ringworld, that Speaker was supposed to have four arms. everything else fitted. i visualized him like that. so when Marco turns up now with four...

I hadn't read strata. yet somehow this one insconspicuous detail is haunting me. how can two books be so similar, and how could i see the other while reading the one, six years ago?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Attack of the Columba livia domestica

Day 1
5 AM
scrith-scratch. scritch-scritch-scratch.
roo. grroo.

Day 2
8 AM
I leapt up, eyes gummed shut with sleep, heart going like a triphammer on Ritalin, adrenaline washing through my blood. Not pleasant. Damn near killing on a sunday morning. I actually had to struggle to draw that first breath.
clap clap clap...
Look around. Nothing. Roommate fast asleep. Clock ticking. Birds chirping. Distant muted traffic. Lying back and dozing off.
Day 3
6 AM
Argh! Huh-what-mmf-splutter. Wide-eyed jerky vision flickering around. Getting up.
Pad quietly into corridor. Door closed. Bolted. Nobody. Clothesline slightly swaying.
Peek into kitchen. Vision blurry, eyes watering with sleep and fright. Sense of whiteness.
Small, quiet but very deliberate movement.
Quietly move back. Slowly reach into the dark behind me, fingers skittering across the door edge, the wall, the wire, onto the switches. Fingertips sliding over plug, switch, outside light, kitchen light.
Sudden violent explosion of sound and motion into my face!
clapclapclap clap clap
gasp. gasp. gasp... gasp... breathe... breathe.
Smashed jar on ground. Salt everywhere. Nobody.
Day 4
8:30 AM
Alarm missed. Late. Struggle up.
Mouth dry and tasting like dessicated ashtray. Cold water. In the fridge.
Head for kitchen.
Stop. Lift foot. Warm gooey wet sensation mixed with small soft lumps.
pad-hop pad-hop pad-hop wassssshhhhhhh
roo? groo-roo. roo.
Look up.
Pair of black beady and completely insane eyes looking into mine less than a foot away. Grey feathery body. Cracked and veined pinkish-gray skin. Yellowed claws.
groo! roo-groo-roo!
Pigeons are in my home.

Day 4
11 PM
Close all windows
1 AM
scratch-scratch. scratch-scratch.
Mumble unintelligibly and turn over.
Leaping up staggering into bathroom light explosive flutter of wings from window silence
Day 6
2 AM
Wake. Bladder painfully full.
Complete darkness. Silence. Dogs barking in the distance.
Pad into bathroom. Light. Peeing.
Look up.
It's there. Six inches from my face. Sitting on pipe. Watching me. Not moving. Watching. Looking in my eyes.
Heart jumping straight into throat. Flow clamping painfully closed. Spontaneous backward lateral jump putting back of head straight into edge of door.
Flashing lights, stars.
CLAPCLAPCLAP struggle clapclap clap clap silence
Don't sleep for two hours.
Day 7
Stuff T-shirt into hole in bathroom window. Close all windows.
9 PM
Back home.
Open door.
Hot stuffy, dry, and, yes, feathery smell.
And... something else.
Something's in here.
I left it in the house
Pigeon crap. Everywhere. On my books. My electric drill. The DVD player. The floor. TV. Stove. Kitchen counter.
Gaze drawn inoxerably upwards, slowly like my dawning understanding.
Shoerack. Shelves. Wall.
And... loft.
Clamber up. Look inside.
Five beady black homicidal avian glares.
It's a nest.
What do I do now?

Friday, November 17, 2006

wannabe wannabe

I remember when I used to look up to these people, wanting to look like them, be like them, be them. An yesterday I caught myself dismissing them as wannabes, remembering how I used to idolize them.
All I want to know is -
If I went from aspiring to, to aspiring away from; if I went from one end to the other;
Why can't I remember ever actually being them?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

a blog on a blog

I was looking at my two blogs recently, and they're so - starkly different.
Look at the travel blog, for instance. There's a distinct sequence on events, a process. Each post has a series of things behind it.
An event. A journey, a trek. An effort made in doing that.
Photos taken, transferred, cleaned, and uploaded on flickr.
People. Different people, from different places, with different stories.
Research. Where did we go, what is it, where it came from, what is there and what was there. A history.
Remembrance. The incidents, the stories, the words.
And last and least - the post.
There's a discipline.
And then, look at this one. It rambles. Posts for the sake of posting. Anytime. On anything. Random.
The question is - can you even decide which is better? Or if that adjective is even relevant.
Free flowing or disciplined?
Random or restricted?
Blank verse or haiku?
Maybe I should start applying some rules to this. Restrict each post to an event, an evocative image, an emotional connect.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Horrifying Parents part - 1

Have been thinking more and more about getting a tattoo done for a while now.
Obviously, permanent. So now the question is - what? Everything that looks damn cool today will be horribly embarassing tomorrow. Besides, I'm not really the kind of person who'll be able to wear a naked-woman-entwined knife-through-left-eye fire-breathing-snake-through-right-eye kind of thing without having a "Yeah, I know how it looks, :(" added on under it.

What else? Abstract celtic patterns is good, with the tremendous advantage that if I put on 20 kgs over the next couple of years, the tattooed Charlize Theron won't become the tattooed Aileen Wuornos.

Japanese Kanji characters is pretty good too. Looks nice, and you can always customize what it means to anyone who asks according to what they want to hear. A 'No Smoking' sign in Kanji could become the basis for a lifetime bonding with a Gladrags Model Of The Decade if you tell her it means Save All Cute Furry Creatures Of The World. Or some such crap. Some marketing needed.

Even your own name can be a pretty good idea. check this out -

Nice, huh?

Anyway - feedback invited. What do you think would look really good? I'll probably go for a full-back-and-shoulderblades-thingy; everywhere else is too much hair and I'm not disposing of the best mosquito protection I have during treks just for a little beauty. Best suggestion gets five-star dinner and a chance to give me back massage on brand new tattoo.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

another meeting

9th floor

light playing across the ceiling
windshield reflections from street below
sound muted
dim light, cold air

skin drying, fingertips going numb, goosepimples
hair standing up, brief muscletrembler shudders
killing chill

blazing sun dusty heat strident traffic an eighth of an inch away outside
a sheet of glass, a different world
dust motes dancing in the projector's lightstream
a rushing icestorm in a cold blue searchlight
silent violence

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The high point of my day has been getting a meebo widget installed on my blog. (see further below, in the Contact Me section of the sidebar. It's a neato little bit of code that lets anyone reading my blog chat with me live on the net and tell me how much he admires me and my writing.) Not much use, and quite probably a major irritant in future... but somehow the whole deal of getting a bunch of raw material, and sitting down and fiddling around with it, tying, soldering, cutting, twisting, glueing, taping, stretching, sealing, and painting it until you have a... something else in front of you is extremely... entertaining. It could be junk from your grandparents' storeroom, or a hedge sculpture, or a Red Alert 2 mod, or a broken amplifier, or code, or plumbing, or an anthill, or a messy desk, or the electrical system of your house, or a model plane, or somebody's self-esteem, or anything, really.
Maybe it's a kind of displaced maternal instinct. Guys can't give birth, so we try to find other ways of creating something. Or we're genetically subconsciously jealous, and are desperately trying to make ourselves useful and justify our existence...
Either way, at the end of it... it's still fun.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

life's aches and pains and sunday mornings

This morning, my breathing stopped. We were doing a contact drill in the jeet kune do class, and I took an unexpectedly hard knuckle in the solar plexus when I wasn't expecting it; and a whole bunch of involuntary functions - like heartbeat, breathing - went haywire for a second. Easy to see how you can kill someone with your hands like this.
Now I'm in a delicious fugue state that usually happens after any high-intensity physical activity followed by a bath, a pizza and a holiday. We're lying around like a pack of dogs - me, N, P, and Bd, on the mattresses amidst newspapers, music systems, wires, chargers, phones, and water bottles, alternating between F1, The Great Indian Comedy Challenge, the lifecycle of urban coyotes, napping, and SMSs.
It's like I can't move beyond the essentials - no need to. Thirsty, stretch a hand, pick bottle, drink. Send a message. Eat a Smokin' Joe's Special slice. Watch TV. Chew on a carrot. Zzzz. Smoke. Zzzz again. Stretch. Carrot.
Like a Tom & Jerry cartoon where everything you want - irons, anvils, baseball bats, pies - can be had by just reaching beyond the edge of the screen. Everything I want is within reach, and I don't even need to get up.
Sun. Day. Dozing.
God, my arms ache. Will need to start getting into some serious shape soon; Won't be able to keep up in the JKD at this rate, and I can kiss the mountain trip goodbye as well.
What do you describe that state when you know what you're going to do, and you know you're going to do it, and you want to do it, but... you're not doing it. Yet. Maybe the next second, the next hour, the next day... I guess the closest parallel is travelling, looking out of the window. Or the thinking-nothing phase during meditation, when you see grey-maroon shapes and hear faint wind-noises of your thoughts disappearing behind you as soon as they form, except for the one that says, any time now, any second, you're going to open your eyes - and conscious thought will begin again. Or sleeping in a cab. Or that pause before you sign, the pen a quarter-inch above the paper.
Today, that feeling is complete, all-pervasive, everywhere, everything. The Pause Before The Life.

Friday, October 06, 2006

You scored as Hobbes.

You are Hobbes! Resourceful, laid back, optimistic, understanding, and able to put up with Calvin on a day-to-day basis. You are the best type of friend, someone who you can get in fights with and look at comic books with, someone who will send prank letters to you through the mail and someone who leaps over cliffs with you. What more could anyone ask for?







Mrs. Wormwood


Mom and Dad


What Calvin & Hobbes character are you?
created with

No wonder I loved this exchange -
Calvin: What's it all for? What is our ultimate purpose? Why are we here?
Hobbes: Tiger food.

Interestingly enough, this is a confirmation. People had already identified me as Hobbes earlier.
Mmm. Time for a nap, and maybe some tuna...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

and the wettest dry day ever

Calling any day a dry day is the meteorological equivalent of hanging a 'kick me' sign on your back and walking through 1955 high school for clouds.

Dry day my squelching wet foot. Six hours on the bike. Fat rain, sprayey rain, vertical rain, sideways rain, rain like sheets of water and rain like an aerosol spray. Cold rain, warm rain, tepid rain. Rain that rained like it was the last rain on earth and stopped only 4 times -
1. When I was inside Inorbit
2. When I was inside my sis' place at Bandra
3. When I was having a chai in the shelter of a plastic tarp
4. When I was home.

In between, I took the bike through sheets of water. I did 90 on wet roads. Cars would go past like Tata Safari Dicor ad auditions. I would in turn spray elderly gentlemen standing on pavements and sitting in autos, who would shout and shake their fists at me. Finally after six hours I am home, and I find waist deep water.
Nothing is more frustrating than driving for six hours, going through half of Bombay, sloshing, splashing, Dicor'ing, crawling, and finally find the last fifty feet are the ones that're waist deep.
Sigh. Park on the main road and wade.

Hot water. Followed up with an RC + ice.
Happy Birthday, MKG.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

followed up by a traumatic birthday

5 PM. I'm floating in a warm fuzzy cloud of microsleep.
Brief flashes - leaving office - the digits on the station clock changing with a distinct click - the strands of gray in the head of the guy stuck in front of me in the train - the icy chill of the ATM - the dabba that feels nearly too heavy to pick up - and finally, the dark of my room, NatGeo running on mute as a nightlight.
11:59 PM. Someone shaking me awake. Blinding fluorescence. Sound. Fuzz that resolves into Bd, Bp, R, D, Bn, and A, standing around with ear-to-ear grins. Crackling yellow thrust into my hands that becomes a cellophane-wrapped bunch of yellow flowers. A pair of pretty nice shirts. A group-autographed red underwear is hung on my head. Chocolate smell. A black forest cake appears, opens. I cut. A piece comes up and hits me in the nose, and then rubs all over my face like a lascivious cat. Chocolate and spongecake coat my bed. I eat kheer. I stand, and as the room sways and spins, with a deep buzzing sound, I say goodbye. I wash sheet. I sleep.
1 PM. Office. Chocolate smell. another cake appears, pure chocolate this time. A knife is in my hand and forty-five people sing happy birthday. I cut. A piece comes up and hits me in the nose, and then rubs all over my face like a horny turbocharged giant snail. Deja vu. I look even more like Singapore's Chocolate Spa's posterboy of the year.

If you're reading this and you're an attractive woman with a weakness for chocolate, do send me any and all ideas that came into your head when you saw this and let's catch up sometime.
9 PM. Pratap's Dhaba. Also known as Chawla's Chicken, Pritam, the punju joint and the Oshiwara dhaba. Table for ten, have invited seventeen, and three have turned up. I need a drink.
Over the next 3 hours, everyone arrives - trekkers, ex-colleagues, hostelites, competitors, bosses, girlfriends... but all, remarkably enough, in series, so there are no embarassing encounters and no chairs short. I give my growing event management skills ten thousand brownie points.
And hukka, daru, chicken, and gossip. Wah.
1:30 AM. The dhaba is dark. All lights have been switched off, chairs have been stacked up, and the only occupied table is ours. Most of guests have gone. There's 5 of us now, happily calling for more jalebis and daru. I was later told that I had a wide, fixed smile, a thousand-yard stare, and was conducting 4 simultaneous conversations on unrecognized work, site traffic back-calculations, the merits of eating predigested chicken, and the future of travel in India and recruitment in GTL. And apparently playing footsie with an empty shoe.
And consuming frightening quantities of reshmi kabas and lemon-flavoured smoke.
2 AM. Senior person disappears into auto with speed of striking snake to drop off people home, leaving strict instructions for us to meet him at X later.
2:05 AM. Panicked SMS saying the group has been halted by the cops and is in imminent danger of arrest for unruly behaviour.
3 AM. First successful dropoff
3:15 AM. Final dropoff
3:16 AM. Battery dies. Like Christian Slater, I say, "So be it" and go home.

And so Death and I take one more tiny little step closer to each other.
27, and life to go.

Monday, September 25, 2006

and an even more bizarre week

'Desperately seeking drama', she said.

So what if I have an overactive imagination? It keeps me entertained. But the last ten days have been weirder than anything I've thought up so far.

It's a monday morning, in office, and I feel - cocooned. Wrapped in a soft fuzzy envelope. I can see, hear everything, but it's with a distinct feeling of disconnection. Like it doesn't really apply. Sound is muted. Hushed. It's not like the other times when I can feel myself looking out from behind my eyes - I might be insulated, but I'm very much there in the environment. This is like - not being here. Real-time, real-life memory. Waking dreams.

Backlash of emotional intensities. Guilt, tension, indecision... all overlaid with a sense of I-can't-believe-this-is-actually-happening feeling. Physical exhaustion. Sleep deprived, alcohol-fueled states of mind. Endorphins at their lowest point this month.

repaired the comp broke up got together got slapped didn't get drunk hot happy signed up ate ate ate smoked up a lungsqueezing level of fags watched movies and movies and movies walked talked rode around bombay at 3 am worked

It's like... everything piles up together. Like a freeway smash. Does this mean the last few years my life's been accelerating, the curves getting faster, more dangerous, the skids a little longer each time... and when you're in a car, with the windows up, the AC on, and the music playing, you don't realize when you cross the line into dangerous speeds.

When did I get into a car? It was always supposed to have been the bike.

I need to find out if this silence means I've gone off the edge, or just rolled to a stop on the side.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

interesting weekend

Friday. Caught in traffic. Time ticking by, movie getting closer and closer, traffic still, tempers fraying, friend waiting and progressively freaking.
Arrive half hour late. Stony silence from friend kept waiting. Watch movie completely unnerved, and the fact that it reminds me of Terrible Ex-Boss doesn't help.
Drink. Eat fish and shrimps. Gross out people with what the cheesy dip reminds me of, so get to eat all of the dip. Go back home. Watch Snatch.
Saturday. Wake up at 1 PM. Lunch. Watch the single worst movie in Bollywood history forever. Again caught in rain, this time with massive thunderstorms knocking out the power grid so all trains beyond Andheri stop. Sit at a CCD for over 3 hours over a single coffee, watching the storm. The Fun Republic CCD is an amazing place to watch storms; the biggest balcony of the world.
Sunday. Realize I'm late for movie again, so hit 95 on WE highway and miss the turn, and backtrack for close to another ten mins. Get fired. Watch House Of Flying Daggers which is a must-watch on bigscreen. Eat a bad pasta and go for haircut. Fall asleep while getting haircut, because of which I now look like Langda Tyagi.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reclaiming Life

I hate that ad.
Not because I particularly dislike my current existence, but because it equates that existence - something that I've taken my life to build - with buying a 6.4 lakh SUV. And a garish one at that. I mean, come on! Air conditioning? Music system? Is that the life you want to reclaim?
What the fuck happened to having enough discipline to put work where it belongs?

And at one level, it's frightening. Is that much of the world so myopic that they actually make advertising-budget sense in pushing Escape as a USP? What is this, Auschwitz?

Or are we so bereft of imagination now that we need someone to feed us things-to-do. Buy The Car. Invest For The Future. Become VP. Watch This Movie. Show Off That Palm. Be Seen At This Club. Wear That Label.
A very long time ago, I said, "I'm bored."
I was told, "That means you aren't intelligent enough to find something to do."
The whole world is bored now, and everyone wants to tell them what to do. Nobody's thinking. Nobody's finding something to do.

There is - and always will be - something to do. Something you enjoy doing. You know what it is. You know you can have it.

All you lazy frickin bastards need to do is just get off your fat bloody butt and take it, man!! What the hell is wrong with you?!
Why has the whole world just given up independent thought to the extent that when I assert it, I'm the crazy one? I mean, has it - can it - even occur to someone that there's more to life than this? That sometimes a person can spend the whole day in bed, ordering in, reading, dozing and daydreaming? That sometimes he might like walking for 25 km in the pouring rain in the middle of nowhere just for the silence? That it might be more important to be liked and respected than feared?

My life is sliding more and more off the beaten path of acceptable existence. My soul was never on it, my mind is leaving it... and soon my life will follow.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


What happens when you're phenomenally bored during meetings? Don't know about you, but my mind tends to wander off in some very weird directions indeed. At the end of the last five-hour meet, I came to and looked down at the notebook. I'd picked up this habit of assiduously and industriously taking notes while fast asleep (actually, I have a nasty feeling there's a whole different alter ego that does stuff when I'm asleep. I definitely know I drove some 5 km in Goa with zero recollection...)
And in the book, this is what I saw...
A product that exists only in code, only recognizable by the way current flows are directed in semiconductor microchips, that still fulfils a function.
That function is media analysis.
a science
dedicated to analyzing the impact of planning an art (advertising)
of selling an idea (I must become thin)
of a concept (because thin is good)
of a brand (X will make me thin)
that's a perception (X the non-real personality with aspirational values)
of a product (non-aspartane-based sugar substitute)
that fulfils a need (looking good by being thin)
created of another perception of social expectation (looks are important)
created of a set of mores (looks means 34-22-36)
based on social psychology (34-22-36 means healthy, fertile, breeder)
that grew out of evolution (healthy fertile breeders are your best bet for preserving your genes)
from genetics (survival of the fittest)
from biology (fit means most efficient organisms, adapted to environment)
from chemistry (efficiency comes from best enzymes, molecules, oxygen conversion)
from physics (molecules form operating on electron orbital linkages between atoms)
from quantum physics (atoms are made of quarks)
from string theory (top, bottom, left, right, charming, and strange quarks are made of unidimensional vibrations in different directions)
which is a... faith?
I need help, right?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Telecaller 2.0 - The Next Generation

she: sir this is ___ calling on behalf of orange.
me: yes?
she: sir you are using prepaid or postpaid?
me: madam, are you prepaid or postpaid?
she: sir i can be whatever you like sir. if you want prepaid i will be prepaid, if you want postpaid will be postpaid.
me: ??!
she: sir you are interested?
me: umm... how much do you charge?
she: sir it depends on the plan sir. i have starting from Rs. 250 per month sir.
me: and what do i - er - get in this plan?
she: blah blah blah blah blah
me: sigh...

But the day is not far, I feel...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

an ode to nice guys

Found this on a a rainy sunday afternoon.

And this is so true. (Sniff.)
I don't get it. We might be socially dumb but at least on the overall, have a fairly above-average level of intelligence. Why can't we see that being 'nice' just isn't working?
We listen, we escort, we drop and pick up, we buy thoughtful gifts and do the life-saving, career-boosting work / idea / solutions... and still go home in the end. Hasn't it occurred to us by now that there really isn't any point in doing this? Sure, I'll get appreciated, remembered, kiss my ass. There's no RoI. Even the odds of anything happening by chance are way way too low.
Why do we persist in this self-destructive behaviour? Does niceness come with a side order of masochism? Or just a special kind of dumb?


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

view from the loo, part two

A loo is not just a place to pee in. It's an entire world in itself, with it's own rules, culture, and most of all, it's biodiversity.

Undresser: He'll walk in, take off the belt, open 3 shirt buttons, and drop his pants halfway down before getting within 2 feet of the urinal. Hello! You coming to take a leak or father a dynasty?
Spitter: Will lean morosely over and spit... spit... spit... ok, so you really needed to let it out, but try and do it from just one end, hmm?
Talker: Cellphone precariously slung between shoulder and jaw, will close deals, comfort parents, flirt with GFs, and argue with wife. Spends an average of 10K a month on new phones and an average of 10 minutes on each leak.
Conversationalist: Unlike the talker, who tends to remain lost in his own private world, the conversationalist will discuss work, life, cricket, the stock market, the latest release, music, philosophy, motorcycle maintenance, yes, zen too, and anything else you can think of with you while you're both together. Usually tends to be your superior in rank or size since the juniors die horrible deaths in mysterious and disgusting circumstances.
Choked: Can't go if there's anyone near him, or in the room, or in his imagination. Will stand with desperately blank look for up to 15 mins at a time. Usually dies by explosion. If you see a blankly pained look on a fat guy, RUN!!
Will aim for the scented napthalene cakes / ice lumps and chase them around, displaying a skill and resourcefullness rarely seen outside most top-level hockey leagues. Usually runs out of ammo before objective is achieved, forces himself, and bursts a blood vessel.
Bather: The urinal's not where all the action is; check out the washbasin. This guy apparently walked in from 10 years in the Sahara, 'coz he's been splashing his face, hair, neck, head, shoulders, arms, and everyone around him for the last 5 mins. Some one throw this dude in the pool please!
Psycho caller: Not strictly a denizen but intimately associated with the natives, the psycho caller is telepathically linked to your urethra and will phone you exactly as you get going. You then struggle with L'il Bro, your pants, your embarassment and your phone while Himesh sings out polyphonically from your crotch.

On the other side, the Stalls!

Singin' in the rain: Or humming, whistling, whatever. Fairly content and happy camper. Usually revered as holy man, sage on the mountain, or local tech guru in the outside world.
Tycoon: Will read entire paper and do his NAV checks and P/E ratio analyses before he arises. Is usually banned from most libraries due to Pavlovian response.
Big Boomer: Will fart LOUDLY and follow up with rich-media sound effects. Grunts and sighs for additional benefit.

And how can we forget the underpreviliged left-out-in-the-cold species, Desperate Andy, the Guy Next In Line. Usually found in pubs where bladder pressure soars in inverse proportion to loo capacity. Will bang on door, swear, dance the macarena, and finally semicollapse against the door in agony. Great fun to watch after 4 pegs when you wait for him to realize the door opens the other way and he's been roasting in bladder hell for an empty loo.

Coming next... the girl's loo counterpart, as soon as I get this damn spycam hooked up properly...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

is duniya mein 2 kism ke shabd hote hain...

There's two kinds of words. Outside words and Inside words. Outside words come out, Inside words stay in.
This blog is Outside words staying out, keeping Inside words in.

There are things I talk about, that I have no problems telling the world. There are things that will remain forever unsaid.
Things I should have said, but it's too late now. I could never talk when I got hurt, when I got pissed off... maybe I should have. Things might have been different.
But it's too late now.

Things might have been better... or worse. But there was a time to talk, and that time is gone. Talking now is just going to hurt, and nothing more.

And sometimes, hard as it may be, knowing how much it's going to hurt, you have to stay silent.

Sorry... something's wrong with me today. I need to stop now

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rock-bottom Rediff

The shortage of entertainment news finally reaches rock bottom.
Rediff's latest homepage story - asks viewers to decide which bikini Priyanka chopra should wear, complete with 3 demos using a superimposed page.
Guys, you left out the most important option. I believe that bikinis are anti Indian culture and reek of western decadence and moral putrefaction. I don't think she should wear a bikini.
Can we please have a morphed one of that, as well?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

but it's the world that's mad, not me!

This post has been bubbling under for a long time...
I wonder sometimes if it's me who's schizo or everything else. Look at this city, for instance; there's been floods, rains, riots, and bombs. And then there's been the same commute, the heat and the traffic... the whole country is like that. Shake it up and it settles down again instantly. Roads are dug up, drains clog, lights go, traffic snarls, taps dry... and work happens, people carry on. Everything works, slightly twistedly, like a car bouncing between divider and wall, scattering sparks and pedestrians alike, but keeps on going.
The world around me is crowded, sweaty, dirty, infested, loud... and barely an hour's drive out, it's dead silence and emptiness. The people you do see will offer you tea, a place to sleep...
People will rip off the rubber coating around car windows for fun, and scratch a scar into the side with a key... and people will carry injured commuters to hospital in the only sheet they have.

I hate this city, this country, and I can't imagine life without it.
The years are amazing, but the actual minutes are hell. (Sorry, Douglas Adams)

And I don't think it's me that's nuts. It's India. Nothing works, but everything carries on.

I wish I could understand how it can all be one complete functioning thing. Organism. Alive.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The GoI IS blocking blog sites!

Confirmed - my cable operator (7Star) is also serving up an ‘Operation timed out while attempting to connect to’
This is one more in a list that includes Spectranet, MTNL, Reliance, Airtel and Sify.

Was ok in office, though; will check again tomorrow.

There's a 22-page list which has been sent from the DoT to MTNL, a list of sites to be blocked. What are they? Nobody knows (or wants to tell) because it's confidential.
That I understand. The HNLC became really popular only after it was blocked. They don't want to repeat that. But somewhere, someone has implemented this so hamfistedly, either in creating that list or the block instructions, or simply tried to take a shortcut to blocking, that has resulted in a violation of a constitutional fundamental right.
Did someone say, "I see a lot of sites with content that I don't like. Block them all!"
Or did someone else say, "This list has a lot of sites. Poora blogspot hi block kar, paanch minit ka kaam hai, phir chai maarte hain"

This is very, very worrying, whichever way you look at it; either as a deliberate act or as a careless mistake. The Government of India either does not understand or care about something called fundamental rights; we don’t have the right to equality, educational and cultural rights, and now we don’t have the right to freedom of speech and expression.

And what does the government say to that?
CERT-IN's Director, Dr Gulshan Rai, said he was unaware of the problem and would not be able to respond "off-hand". In a telephone interview, he told this reporter, "Somebody must have blocked some sites. What is your problem?"

See the story here.
See the entire event chain here.
Register your protest

Template Crash

Something weird happened to blogger, and I don't mean censorship. It was more like a kind of panic attack; my entire template apparently decided to take a long, long holiday and never came back.
I went through the gamut of blog crash emoting-
Confusion: Where is it? why can't I see my sidebar? Ctrl-F5, Ctrl-F5...
Denial: It can't be gone. It's here somewhere. I just have to find it. Please. It's here. I know. I can smell it.
Anguish: Auuuuuuuuggh
Manic Panic: if-i-save-my-blog-from-cache-ill-get-my-links-and-rebuild
Depression: Ahh, what's the point of it all anyway?
Pissed off: Why is God / Blogger / the net picking on me?
Rebirth: I will survive! I shall rebuild! Like a Phoenix, my Template shall arise anew from the ashes of... wherever it was
Zombie mode: code-check-lookup-refer-code-check-lookup-refer
Relief: It's back! And even better than before! Shiny! New! Polished to a mirror gleam! Engine purring! Complete with facial, tooth whitening and boob job!
Picking at scabs: Why isn't the desiblogs image showing... hmm...
I'm treating it with kid gloves now, though. That's an hour and a half of my life gone in just re-creation that I'm not getting back.
Don't you wish everything else that breaks is this easy to fix? That's why I love the net - everything is code. Get the code right, and you have everything. Exactly the way you want.
Drat. I was born to be a Matrix agent... born a century too early.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Morning After

Last night, the roads were jammed with traffic; additional buses, cabs, autos, and most of all people on foot trudging home. I went out for a while, and the first thing that struck me was how quiet it was. No horns. No engine sounds. Nobody swearing on the roads. There was just an expectant silence, people standing or walking sombrely in groups.
The panic is... gone. I wasn't here in 1993, but I don't see this going out of control like then. It's calm, but it's a directed calm. People are waiting for a response from the administration.
The trains are running again; the Western line was back in action from late night (partially) to completely by the morning. Traffic looks normal; the Harbour side is ok, Central was slightly crowded around Sion hospital and Western looks all right as well; I guess a lot of people are choosing to stay at home. But there's still a very healthy number of people out, on the roads, in offices, at work.
There's a sense of connect. Every time I see someone I know or recognize, I get an SMS... it's one more thing we share. We Survived Bombay. Again.
Just like there's a different sense of any IMs or mails coming from out of Bombay; a sense of you-out-there, compared to the us-in-here feeling I get from Bombayites.
That's it for now, let's see how the day develops. I'm putting in a couple of links in case someone comes across them searching...
Mumbai / Bombay blasts - Some links
The above links come from the Mumbai Help Wiki; I haven't been able to verify all of them, but it's being updated fairly regularly, and if you find something that's incorrect, go ahead and edit it. You'll be helping out a lot of people.

God bless Yahoo Messenger, man.

That's all I say.
When the phone lines went down, I managed to reach one friend who was online, told her what numbers to call, and rested easy. Conveyed a couple of other messages as well.
Makes you realize simultaneously how fragile - and how resilient - an environment we live in. We can get cut off so easily, and we can stay in touch in so many ways.
Talking of staying in touch, here's a list of Mumbai helplines. You can also post your SMS on Rediff by SMSing SOS to 7333.
One by one, people have started coming online, and everyone has the same question - where were you when 7/11 happened? And where are you now?
It's like 26/7 all over again, but there's a darker, more frightened undertone. They caught 40 kilos of RDX a while back. How much didn't they catch? How much is still out there?
Last year, people walked home through rains, through water, through dark flooded roads, but this is different. People are afraid.
The death toll has crossed a hundred now, and it's started raining. Things are not going to get better anytime soon. Rescue operations are getting stuck because of the rains; lights have gone off in a couple of places. And wherever there are camera crews, the visuals are... grisly. Body parts. Unidentifiable shapes that shockingly jump into recognition.
They've declared a state of high emergency; patrolling, extra police. The Central line is now up and running; Additional BEST buses on the Western side are being called up, while they check the trains. As long as people can get home, things should be okay.
And get home we will. Last year, we walked through neck deep water for six hours. Tonight, we're going to walk again. And we're going to get home.

Bombay blasts - update 1

There's been 7 now. Bandra and Matunga as well. All Western line, all first class. This has been a completely planned, targeted act.
20 have been declared dead, and over 50 injured... so far. The toll will really start going up once people start reaching the hospitals.
All the trains have been stopped. The Railways are saying they will not be starting the trains till everything's been declared safe; Platforms are being cleared of onlookers. Road traffic is still okay, but that's not going to last.
The helpline numbers have come up; 022 - 22005388, and you can SMS AT to 2424 to give your status on Aaj Tak. SMSs are beginning to come through now; most people have started seeing and reacting.
The mood is very tense now; people are stranded on stations, not knowing how they will go home (definitely not on the trains!) and anyway stations are also being cleared; roads will be too dangerous. Tempers are rising mostly because people are cut off since the phone networks are down; sense of disconnect.
And man, are people pissed with the administration.

Didn't expect to start the serious blog so fast.
There've been 5 bomb blasts in Bombay. Mahim, Khar, Jogeshwari, Borivli, and Bhayander. No death toll so far but serious injuries; the toll is going to be high later.
The Khar station roof has apparently been blown off, and the compartments have been ripped open; all the blasts were in first-class compartments. Maximum packed ones, at this time.
There's a kind of undercurrent of panic right now; as soon as the explosions happened, all the lines jammed with people trying to call to find out if people are ok. SMS's are going very slowly, there's no telling when it'll reach; a better option, if you want to get a message out, is to find anyone in some other city on messenger and ask them to deliver the message for you.
Not going home anytime soon; let's see what happens. watch this space. Next update in 30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Looking at this blog, I see two things happening to it.
One, it's turning into a chicklit special from the amount of quizzes, tests, and other assorted pop psychology that seems to be infesting it like crabgrass. I don't want to create something like this; that's why blogthings exists!
Two, it's also filling up with a massive chunk of blogtech codes, snippets, widgets, links, and whatnot. I don't even know how useful some of these are; but somehow, I keep adding them.
I guess it's something to do with an affirmation of identity, of existence. It's not enough that I blog, therefore I am; there's also a need to tell the world about it. I want to scream my existence out into technorati tags, google crawlers, RSS feeds, social networks, directories, automated mailings of posts, egroups... and I proclaim the success of this effort with sitemeters, visitor counts, page statistics, pageranks, feed subscriptions, even what organism my blog is in the TTLB ecosystem.
It's definitely narcissistic, but I'm wondering is there something beyond.
Why this need to be noticed and tell the world that I exist, with x visitor counts to prove it? Are all blogger narcissists, or existentially insecure?
Or both?
Must be an awful experience... believing that you're the most important thing in the world and at the same time, not being able to believe that you actually do exist.

more hellish quizzes

This blog is turning into a complete encyclopaedia of quizzes, but I couldn't resist this one... I promise it's gonna be the last.

Gluttony:Very High

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

Your sin has been measured. You have committed many sins, but Gluttony is the mortal sin that has done you in.

Fascinating. Not only am I extremely gluttonous, but also wrathful, greedy, lustful, and proud of it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

...and here's how insane I am

A few weeks ago, I was told by The Net that I was going to Hell. Specifically, The City Of Dis, a special Hell For Heretics.
Slightly taken aback, I wondered why heresy was considered to be my favourite sin, rather than gluttony or lust. "Tell me," I asked, "Does this mean that nobody, and like
nobody, agrees with what I have to say?"

The Net took a while to answer (it's pretty slow in some ways, especially in these type of direct one-to-one occult engagements) but answer it did.

And here's the answer.

Schizoid:Very High

-- Personality Disorder Test --
-- Personality Disorder Information --

I am insane. And the above is how insane I am.
Are you insane?
Yeah, right.
But just in case, do you want to know what kind of insane you are? Huh? Huh?

It's kinda cool, that way. I'm not dependent, or have any bad feelings about being me. And I'm pretty much a confirmed loner, which is something I've known since I started going to school. All in all, I'm seeing myself as being exactly the kind of person who'll walk out of the smoking ruins of a smashed civilization after a Solanum outbreak with a chaingun, a necklace of zombie teeth and a huge when-can-we-do-this-again smile.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

There is a God of Gorgeous Butts

A few days ago, I had posted a comment on A's blog on the characteristics of The Great Indian Queue where I had bemoaned... ok, let me paste it in so you can see for yourself.

- there will never, ever be a young woman with a gorgeous butt in front of you. Ever. If you have a sex change and enter the miss universe contest, the person in front of you will still be someone who's done the same.

Within 24 hours of posting this, I was in a queue. The window was closed (gone for lunch) and immediately in front of me - right in front - was the best denim-clad butt I had had the previlige of seeing for the last month.
The timing of this is... frightening.

But it definitely makes a lot of sense for me to do what I'm about to do... I think I'm on a good thing.

The next biggest problem with India is that nobody comes to you in the street and for no reason hands you large amounts of cash.

Ok, God Of Give Ashish Pots Of Cash, do your stuff!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Return of the Living Dead

Under any other circumstance, I'd have found this freaky. Over the last ten days, my dead past has been crawling out of the woodwork in the form of
orkut contacts. People I haven't met, spoken to, mailed, IM'd, thought about, fantasized about, or even had featuring in nightmares suddenly appear in their new avatars of networking pages, coming first in ones and twos and then by the dozen.
Coincidentally, the last ten days have also seen a massive surge in zombie movies. Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead... I finally aquired the Constantine divx and the new Omen, Underworld 2, and Final Destination III released in theatres... not to mention Hellboy tonight.
Diabolic Conspiracy or Divine Communique? The frequency of calls coming from the US for one highly work-intensive client also went sharply up, so I mapped the correlations between horror on TV versus horror on call.
It was .76.
Not funny. Not funny, man.
That is - I don't consider my clients in any way to be associated with the Downstairs, or possess any form of demonic powers or influence. They may have, but someone will need to actually banish one with holy incantations before I'll accept it.
But that's the beauty of networking sites - they network. Simple fact of life but comes across as pretty creepy when you see it in action - one person signs up, starts getting in touch, and suddeny long-lost friends and enemies turn up everywhere... and they're all mailing, messaging, scrapping, smsing. A cloud of cacophonous virtual pigeons around my head. And unlike real pigeons, I can't even catch and eat 'em.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Go to hell!

Except that this time round, I know exactly where that is.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!

You approach Satan's wretched city where you behold a wide plain surrounded by iron walls. Before you are fields full of distress and torment terrible. Burning tombs are littered about the landscape. Inside these flaming sepulchers suffer the heretics, failing to believe in God and the afterlife, who make themselves audible by doleful sighs. You will join the wicked that lie here, and will be offered no respite. The three infernal Furies stained with blood, with limbs of women and hair of serpents, dwell in this circle of Hell.

Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Extreme
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Extreme
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very High

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Somehow I never really imagined heresy to be the biggest sin I'll be committing in my life. Lust, gluttony, avarice, gloom, treachery, even violence... but heresy? Or is the fact I can't recognize it proof of the fact?
Or is it just the Net's way of telling me I don't agree with anyone?

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

All I want is everything

or at least, 49% of it. I want 49% of admissions into kindergarten, 49% of college seats, 49% of jobs in every sector, government and private, I want it all. But that's what I'm not ever going to have.As of today, a little under half of all jobs, educational oppotunites, choice of careers... is gone. I just need to fight for what's left.

Every morning, when the train comes in, there is enough space for around 100 people to sit, and a thousand to stand. Every morning, five thousand people actually occupy this space. Every morning, around fifty people abandon trying to get into the compartment becasue it's too crowded / difficult / dangerous. Every morning, three or four people fall off and get maimed or die.

Every morning, I am able to get a sitting place in the same compartment, under a fan, and go to to work reading or listening to music. I can do this because I taught myself how to use the timings, the spacing, how to swing around the bar while the train's still doing 20 kmph and use that angular velocity to curve into the seat I want before it's too late. I've taught myself to break bagstraps, knock off specs, and twist elbows while making it look completely accidental to get in. It's nothing personal. It's just the way the system works. I broke a guy's nose once, and nearly lost my fingertips another time. I do it because I need to.

Every morning, I know that two years from now, I will not be doing this anymore, because I will have moved beyond Bombay, I will have upgraded myself to the point where the daily commute like this is not needed.
It's nothing personal. It's just the way my career works. I start low, try out combinations, fight to get to a level and go beyond it. I don't care about the train. It has it's moments, good, bad, exhilarating, nightmarish. It also has its lifecycle. I'll use it for as long as I have to.

Every morning, I know that five years from now, fighting for 51%, or 25%, or 10%, or one job in a hundred, or less, will not be an issue. I will have moved on. Whether India adopts a reservation system or not; whether human beings fight like animals for basic necessities or not; it won't matter. I - or my family, my kids - won't be part of it. They'll have their own battles to fight, of course, but this is one that will have been already won.

I did ok. I might have done better if I'd gone to the engineering college here someone ten percentage points lower and with a different surname unfortunately got that last seat, but I did ok anyway. I guess it's how you look at life. You can cry over it and say you've been robbed of something that should have been yours by right, or you can accept that the only things that are yours by right are what you've worked for, fought for, and got. Nobody owes you anything. Not your ancestry, not your country, not your government. Only you owe yourself a life. You work for it, you get it, and you move on.

What happens to the train, the college, the government, the country... it doesn't matter. They don't owe you, you don't owe them.
It's nothing personal.
Update - May 26th
Another poster reads: "I am leaving for the US. I was disowned by my own country."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

have a bad day

This is very clearly getting perverse now. Not only does the Person Upstairs not like me, but he seems to be deriving vicious enjoyment in making me suffer, the way I used spend hours of enjoyment with large ants, some string and a GoodNight.
Not only am I working my butt off the last 2 weeks and returning home at midnight each night every night, I finally get a heaven-sent opportunity to be home early. A meeting ends, barely a 20-min drive from home... at exactly the tipping point, where it makes as much sense returning to office as it does going home... and as usual, I froze.
Office? Home? Work? Sleep? Presentation? Blog? Client call? Kill Bill?
flip, flop, flip, and so on until 2 cigs and a chai later I took the plunge and went home, screw everything, will deal with it early tomorrow. Happily and relaxedly reached home and took out keys to open front door to discover said keys were not said keys, said keys were actually in office desk drawer.

There is nothing more frustrating than standing at that door, knowing that half an inch away is cold beer in the bridge, a soft mattress, DVDs, and best of all 4 hours of uninterrupted me-time. Half an inch, but it might as well be in Kathmandu.

Oh, well. Take the bike and go to some friend's place? Good idea, if helmet wasn't locked inside house and bike papers still incomplete.
Call roommate? Produce cell, find battery dead.
Grind teeth.

Recall number from memory and dial fromPCO. Get an old man. Of course, it helps that my roomie's name is also an impolite slang for 'old man' if pronounced that way. Get abused by said old man.
Take extra key from broker? Excellent. Broker gone to gaon. Even more excellent.
Grind teeth again.
Recall from memory with more concentration, get roomie. Tell him to get ass here.
Wander shop to shop begging for nokia charger. Sun went down hours back but temperature still sauna, only more humid. Take refuge in cybercafe. Realize I'm paying by the minute for a service that I get better, faster, and way way cheaper on the other side of that half inch thick door. No new mails. Nobody online. Pay credit card bill and stare aimlessly at screen. Force owner to charge phone and chainsmoke while chatting up people I've not spoken to in years for the next 2 hours.
Find I have booked myself to catch up with people I don't want to ever see again for 3 lunches, 5 dinners, a party and 12 drinks in 2 days. Not including what I already had planned. This is going to be an interesting weekend.