Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Moving Story, neverending...

My arms ache. Individually moving a quarter of a ton of clothes, books, DVD's, electronics, and assorted household goods has left it's mark - but has fortunately not fucked my spine like last time.
And I have a partially functional new apartment. No cable, but 650 movies; no internet but 250 GB of pics, videos, comics, and games.
And finally, at long last, parking.
I have spent the last 2 days packing, moving, shopping, moving the shopping, unpacking, rearranging, and screaming like an enraged orangutan at the shocking lack of storage space. Not that the new flat lacks it; there are cupboards, shelves, minibars, lofts, cabinets, and box beds galore. Unfortunately, they all appear to be used. I have never seen a larger collection of glass and china in one place together. It's crammed. Plates, cups, saucers, humorous coffee mugs, mementoes, beer glasses, steins, creamers, bowls, wine glasses, shot glasses, chalices, dishes, mugs, lids, baking thingies you make veg au gratin in, platters... I am exhausted. I need to banish all these somewhere and I have no clue.
Photos coming soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Moving Story, Reloaded

It's that time of the year again, the annual event that happens every 11 months.
There's a nip in the air, the birds are chirping, the cellphones are ringing, and as my lease expires, I am out again, back on the Hunt For House.

An elusive beast, it hides in the concrete jungle, brilliantly camouflaged in dug-up roads, malfunctioning lights, absent owners and unavailable keys, ensuring you don't get to lay your eyes upon it.

But if you're patient, persistent, and have a healthy dose of sheer bloody-mindedness, you can penetrate this first layer of defense and see the house.
That's when the second line of defense gets activated - leaking roofs, the worst possible neighbour to have (i.e. the owner), termite-ridden beds, a dead rat in the kitchen (I swear there was one, and it had been eaten by other rats. I know what a patch of coarse black fur, bones and a stain means), A fairly deaf sadhu baba in a short-short kurta and nothing else answering the door, a continuous low growl coming from under the sofa with a harmonic that says 'I've nearly chewed through the leash, just take 2 minutes and check the loos again please', pigeons (!!!), dust allergies born of some spore imported from a pharaoh's tomb, violent red walls and silver furniture... the list goes on and on, often too painful to talk about.

But finally, you will find the perfect place. Like a presidential plane knowing there's missile launched at it's tail, a last-ditch countermeasure is deployed - financial chaff. Deposits, rent, brokerage, registration fees, parking permissions. Owners are ok, but the brokers are all-out to increase the rent so they benefit. Thank God I have access to one of the few good guys.

But as of last week, it's all behind me - agreement, registration, biodata, police verification, thumbprints and passport photos, society letter, reposession letter, Form 20-A and Form 29, witness signatures, receipts, et al... and I am the proud possessor of a heavy pair of of keys (and appropriately enough, on a golden keychain) which shall lead me into my perfect apartment.

Now comes the shifting... but that's another story.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Indian Politician

Justify FullLet's take a deep breath for a moment, and hard as it is, think dispassionately.
We - the Indian People - are in deep shit. The machinery and infrastructure that is supposed to care for us is, at best, ineffective. There's a lot of anger, frustration, and disgust in us - and most of all, everyone is asking - what can we do?

I am trying to create an answer.
It may not be the right one. A lot of you may disagree with some of what you will read. And I admit I'm not either qualified or in any way, or have any special access or information, that entitles me to do this, save for one reason - I'm just one more person on the street, one more passenger in the train, one more tourist in Kashmir, one more traveller in an airport... and every time something like this happens, the first thing that comes to my mind is - it could be me. It could be someone I know.
I've been lucky so far - but you and I both know that if things continue, it's just a matter of time.

The reason why these things keep happening - in my opinion - is because the infrastructure isn't sufficiently equipped to deal with management of porous borders, a billion plus population, understaffed, underpaid, under-trained and underequipped police, and specialist agencies too caught up in political games to be allowed to function effectively.
But that's not really the reason.
The political class - our so-called 'masters' and trust me, even saying that word brings the bile to my throat - is not doing it's job.
A politician enters the system with a clear objective. Power.
Power equals money, status, assets, previliges.
But NOT duty, responsibility, accountability.

So the real question we need to think about is, how do we force our MLAs, MPs, and Ministers to start doing the job they are supposed to, instead of creating private empires and fortunes and hijacking the state machinery - that we pay for, by the way - for their own perks.
The next time you're stopped to let a 20-car convoy with the flashing red lights pass, remember your salary is 33% less because of that petrol. Because they're on their way to some international event with family and press and shopping, sorry, 'expenses'. Because they need to stock up and furnish that 3000-square foot house in that 2-acre plot for which, unsurprisingly, the paperwork is proving... elusive.

Yet, we are a democracy. We voted. We put these ______'s where they are.
We thought, choosing the lesser of two evils will make it a little less unbearable. But it won't, because it's not the people, but the system that's ineffective. Apart from the fact that the power without responsibility it offers acts as a magnet for every criminal, low-life, unqualified, and plain wrong person for the job... in the ensuing dirty fight the good people get sidelined.
If you want to win, you have to play the game, and playing the game makes us all the same.

So - and this is where the ideas begin - can we do something to make the filtration better? Make sure the right people reach the right positions?

1. Make a mandatory requirement for standing for elections - a blood relative in the armed forces. On active duty. The minute he gets a desk job, or retires, you're out.
What will this achieve? A little more responsibility towards those people and that institution that keeps the country safe. A budget cut that cancels snow boots for the Siachen troops will be more debatable when it's your son's toes that are amputated because of frostbite.

2. Minimal security. Let the ministers and functionaries be moved to quarters attached to the offices and government centers. Let them even bring their families. But Keep it basic, minimal, and only what's necessary. It's the center and the position that is to be protected, not the man occupying it. If he has to leave the proemises, privately, give him a two-man civilian security detail.
What will this achieve? Fewer unpopular decisions. Ignore an illegal slum for years, and someone will throw rotten eggs at you. Renege on your promises, and the man in the street will walk up to you and spit in your face.
What's that? Criminal elements have it so much easier to kill you now? Well, you should have thought of that when you were drawing up the police training and equipping bill, shouldn't you?

Let 'Serving the Public Trust' actually have some 'serving' in it. And for someone looking to make a fast buck - shouldn't you be thinking of something safer?

3. Link their salaries to the sensex.
What will this achieve? If the country does well, you make money. If the economy falters, so does your own direct take-home.

4. Delink the police from political control. Make them independent. Increase their salaries to the point you're comfortable that they won't take a bribe from Dawood to kill you. Increase their training and equipment to the point that they can protect you if someone decides to pick up an AK56. Let the military handle recruiting and training - but they have got to be a separate, independent entity.

5. Get back the RTI, but in a much more effective way. The Right To Information Act currently allows anyone to request information from the government. But how many know what to ask for, and if they do get it, what it means? Set up a specialist media team that reads, interprets and reports on existing policies and policies under debate. Let them talk about it in a language that the average man-on-the-street can understand. Set up centers that can liase between the government and the citizen to give what information is needed.

6. e-nable EVERYTHING. Every bill, petition, paper, file, request, order, document has to be online, and not just as a scan; the world's largest democratic machinery will need the mother of all SAP systems. But every single document must be traceable, at any time, by any person.

That's it for now. I do not know HOW this can be done. The people in power right now are the ones who have everything to lose if they change the status quo; we can't expect any help from them.

This is a call to anyone reading this - if you have ideas, suggestions, advice, or even if you just agree - think about it. Think of what we can do. Some of us will know, will figure out how to make it happen.
A candlelight vigil, a facebook page, an email forward, a petition, a satyagraha, a peace march - these are good things. These are necessary things. But don't let them remain just that.
Think of how we can make these ideas work.

And many of you will have brilliant, revolutionary, and most of all, workable ideas. Make them public. Make them known. If you know what should be done, someone else can tell you how. Just make sure they know.

Update 03/12/08: Facebook group is up.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Spirit of Mumbai a sham.
There is no such thing.
When a Mumbai-ite gets back onto a local train the day after a bombing, gets back on the road after a flood, and resumes life in general - stop saluting 'the spirit of mumbai' that refuses to be cowed.
What option did he ever have, anyway?
The cost of living is astronomical. You live from month to month, hand to mouth. An unpaid week is a disaster, a month without a job, the end. Can you afford to lose even a few day's wages?
All the offices are in one place, and residential areas - at minimum - several kilometers away. And just 2-3 roads and a train line that connect the two. If you want to live near your workplace, you can afford it pretty much only if you own the workplace. The lower down the hierarchy you are, the further away you stay.

So how do you work? You commute. An hour, two, three, and on bad days, four or five hours of each day go in just getting from home to work and back. Usually via multiple methods - buses, trains, bikes, cabs, walking...

This is the spirit of mumbai. A complete lack of any alternatives. When the average man on the street can choose to continue life as usual - or kill his dreams and leave - or starve.
Some choice, huh?

Do I want to get back on the train, back on the road, back at work? No. I don't. But can I choose to stay at home? Can I choose to travel by any alternative means, take a different road, avoid the train stations, the crowds that are an automatic target? Yeah, right.
I can't not work. I can't not travel. I can't even not take the same route through the same places!
Life is so fast, and so compressed... it streamlines. People that can fit in with this, who can streamline themselves, stay - they who can't, leave. But the pace keeps increasing, and increasing, and increasing...
...and you all know what happens when something at high speed twitches.

The whole machinery is racing along a catastrophe curve, a hundred miles an hour. We've been lucky so far - but we're living on borrowed time. What happened so far is nothing compared to what's coming, and coming it is.
Make no mistakes. It's just a matter of time now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

shaping dreams

not being figurative here.
had a nightmare last night that was actually disturbing enough to wake me up, and sit for a while with the light on. I could still feel it's aftereffects - the shadows, the dry whisper in my ear, that sense of gut-freezing terror...
Then I thought, if I find this so scary, I can use this.
So I wrote on it. Turned it into a fairly complete ghost story, with a central character, setting, mood, reasoning, logic.
And as I did it, I felt the terror melt away. Turn into a research project. I felt my mind catch hold of the darkness, twist it into a shape of my own choosing. Make it mine.
This was fun. Can't wait for the next one.
And yes... write a good final version. Soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Attack of the Pigeons - Biological War!

The office is now being tortured by what is practically a biblical plague - swarms of tiny flying insects, apparently hatching out from either dirt trapped in keyboards or from dustbins / under carpets. Initially everyone thought it was an optical illusion, just tiny black dots on the monitor screens.

Then, like a witch rumor in Salem, or a Bill Clinton sexual harassment accusation, all it took was for one person to speak out and the cacophony of voices agreeing and supporting was deafening.

Calling Pest Control - a venture confounded by the fact that till date, nobody except this team has been able to see the flying freaks.
I suggested dousing the whole area in Baygon.

And if that doesn't work, there's an opening for an imposing old man with a large white beard, robe, and staff. Similarity in looks to Charlton Heston will be a bonus.

Biological Warfare!
The source of the insects has been identified - it's the latest weapon in the ancient war between humans and pigeons.

Evil Pigeon Mastermind

The pigeons had colonized our AC ducts, and we would hear them scuttling around - but we never imagined that this is what they were up to. All the while we ignored them and turned a deaf ear to their scratchings, they were breeding mites and showering them down upon our unsuspecting heads.

Never mind Charlton Heston. We now need a crack team of the known experts in duct-crawling search-and-destroy missions. Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver - vacancies are now open! Bring your own weaponry of choice, or fill in a Capex form and submit to Priscilla on the 5th floor.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the wind on my face blows through my mind as well, like a hurricane

Feel... cleared.
Every day is the first day of the rest of my life.
Every day could be the last day of the rest of my life.
Thought that these would conflict, but they don't. Surprisingly.

There's always going to be things to do, and always things you wish you had done, and always things not done because other things were being done - but it doesn't matter, really.
That's the secret. The number of things that really matter, is very, very low. It's easy to do them. They don't have deadlines and expiry dates, they don't need preparation, they don't need investment.

Once you think this - once you believe this, deep down, it makes all the rest easy. You don't worry anymore. You don't run after illusionary mirages. Things always seem to work out, because you never compromised on what was important to begin with - unimportant stuff becomes irrelevant all by itself, and you can just spring-clean it. Important stuff gets done, and adds to your life.

Do what you really want. Know what you really want. Translate it into what you do. And...

No worries, mate.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

pink haze

Background to the story –

Website is changed to bright, shocking, eye-watering, soul-searing, mind-numbing PINK.

My status message becomes: pielphobic.

"pielphobia" , which means a fear of pink elephants. And let us assume that pink elephants do exists, are little and absolutely harmless.

And it is immediately understood.

Oxy: ponk elephant pink elephant pink elephant

Oxy Mitra is offline.

Myco: you are brilliant!!!

Oxy: no. google is my phrand

Myco: i know

but what is ponk elephant?

Oxy: one that narrowly missed being pink

Myco: ah

you have created a new word today

and it shall be duly added to my lexicon

Oxy: thank you thank you

Myco: ponk (p-aw-n-k) : something that is close to, but not exactly, pink; something that narrowly avoids being pink; nicole ritchie

Oxy: lolllllll

alt. oriya cool, equivalent of punk in common usage

Myco: loll



Oxy: all thanks to the person who said " baithe baithe edition ko phok kar diya tumne"

Myco: ahhh - the offspring of a fuck and a poke and a phoonk

Oxy: but i like ponk

Myco: me too

Oxy: when you're almost recovered from an illness, you say i'm in the ponk of health

in a ponk haze

spoof film, ponk panther

Myco: ponk slip

Oxy: the possibilities are immense

Myco: can we get some kind of a cash award for this?

enriching the english language?

Oxy: we should

ponk politics

sound so cool

Myco: ponko commie

Oxy: the ponk brigade

Myco: ponk gin

Oxy: yesssss

and then of course there will be wannabe rockstar ponks

you are such a ponk


Ponk it´s my new obsession
Ponk it´s not even a question
Ponk on the lips of your lover, ´cause
Ponk is the love you discover
Ponk as the bing on your cherry
Ponk ´cause you are so very
Ponk it´s the color of passion
`Cause today it just goes with the fashion
Ponk it was love at first sight, yea
Ponk when I turn out the light, and
Ponk gets me high as a kite
And I think everything is going to be all right
No matter what we do tonight
You could be my flamingo
´Coz ponk is the new kinda lingo
Ponk like a deco umbrella
It´s kink - but you don´t ever tell her
Ponk it was love at first sight
Ponk when I turn out the light
Ponk gets me high as a kite
And I think everything is going to be all right
No matter what we do tonight
I want to be your lover
I wanna wrap you in rubber
As ponk as the sheets that we lay on
Ponk is my favorite crayon, yeah
Ponk it was love at first sight
Ponk when I turn out the light
Ponk it´s like pink but not quite
And I think everything is going to be all right
No matter what we do tonight

google is my phrand too

Oxy: ohhhhhhhh

this is the best

:) :)

Myco: :D

Oxy: this should go online

Myco: it shall

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

down the funnel

Is there any indicator that tells you when it's time to stop sticking to your principles, because they're wrong?

There've been times when I had been severely tempted - it's all too easy, and the kind of economy we have exploding around makes it not only easy to do, but also motivates - and your friends, your peers, people that you look up to, people you can't stand, and people that occupy zero mindspace - all create a set of conscious and subconscious standards. That's the motivator - that's what you try to live up to, because if you can't do even that, what use is all this anyway? And it is possible to do that, without compromising on what you believe in.
But recently, it's been getting harder and harder. The collateral damage is increasing, and I'm risking more than I want to lose in this. Maybe it is time to rethink the way I've looked at life - and let's face it, it's old-fashioned. Nobody does that kind of shit anymore. Maybe I'm obsolete. Maybe I'm doing the smart thing.

But one thing is true, though - options and decisions will come a lot easier once your back's to the wall.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Heppy burd day.

It's interesting to see how the number of non-human wishers has been steadily mounting over the years, and how they keep getting increasingly bizarre.

A brightly lit morning, as you nurse your hangover and wish you were dead, a perky young thing runs past in shorts and sweatband and chirps at you -
Spark people - "Don't count your years. Make your years count."

A group photo, sepia-toned, speaks out from the wall - - "We wish you a life time of success in finding great friends, peace, happiness & prosperity."

Vijay Mallaya, on the Indian Empress, in a tux flanked by assorted PYTs, raises his glass to me as champagne corks pop and streamers flutter -
King Club - "May you enjoy the good times not only today, but through all your days ahead."

Juhi Chawla, surrounded by backup dancers dressed as village belles, cops, animals, dakus, waitresses, and the mandatory line of firang tourists in shorts and bemused-but-vastly-amused expressions -
Seventymm - "Baar baar din ye aaye, tum jiyo hazaron saal, yeh humai hai arzoo. Happy birthday to you!"

Dark, quiet room, with a single table lamp shining on a empty tabletop in which a pair of scarred, heavy hands are visible.
Airtel. "The family wishes you a very happy birthday. We hope the year ahead is wonderful for you."
The next message said my payment was overdue.
What's next - a horse's head in my bed?

Tent with a crystal ball and a deranged, overexcited gypsy.
Bethea from - "Birthdays should be a time of blossoming and it looks as if you have a wonderful year ahead."
She also warned me if I don't act now by buying her $18.95 detailed advice, I could miss this golden opportunity and forever ruin my life.

Open the door of my apartment, late at night after a bad day, and full family leaps out in matrimonial regalia accompanied by daughter and garland. simply yells - "Surprise!"

It keeps getting better. 11 months and my profile hasn't activated is the background to the image of the Cryptkeeper cackling with glee in a dark firelit, cobwebby cellar -
Times - "May your journey with us only grow longer, ahahahahahahaaaaa!!"

And as Oxy says - I'm just waiting for the next mail -
"I'm just an automated spammer program from Norway but I wish you had a bigger dick..."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Remember Yesterday

We've had our share of hard times, but that's the price we paid
And through it all, we kept the promise that we made

Through the sleepless nights, through every endless day
I'd wanna hear you say, I remember you.

A moment. Purple twilit sky, heavy with the promise of rain. Wind sweeping through the streets, the smell of sea. A single palm tree, lit orange in the sodiums, waving wildly. Free.
Traffic didn't matter anymore. The worries, the troubles - everything that had been preying on my mind like a dead weight - melted away, like it had never existed. I was as free as that tree in the twilight, leaves in the wind.
And I saw what I was becoming. How I was so caught up in every day that I'd forgotten to see the end of the road, where I was going with this. So lost in the trees, I couldn't see the forest.

I remember you. I remember how you used to be, how you used to think. How you used to feel. To live. Somewhere down this long road, I'd forgotten.

But I remember you now.

There are times when we need to step back. Regain perspective. See where we are, where we're going. Remember the people we used to be, the people we wanted to be.

And I'll remember you.

And I'll be you.

And I am you.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

back on track

Things are looking up.

Thought I'd gotten badly jacked last month - our God Of All Things, the Almighty Finance, had miscalculated my taxes - giving me five months of grossly inflated salary and no questions asked; all very well and good, and deeply if silently appreciated, until it's July and time to file your IT returns and hey, you know what? you're screwed, buddy, you're dead meat, roadkill on the gravy train. (trackkill?)
But ok, still on track. A diet of chana for the next 6 months and I'll be fine. Good, too in a way; all the crazy eating out will get controlled.
Surprising how, at the time when you most need to save, you have the max unexpected expenses? It's like the universe knows that this is the only time you can afford this jhatka.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

used to think it would be so easy

Windin' your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well another crazy day
You'll drink the night away
And forget about everything
This city desert makes you feel so cold.
It's got so many people but it's got no soul
And it's taking you so long
To find out you were wrong
When you thought it had everything

You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you're tryin'
You're tryin' now
Another year and then you'll be happy
Just one more year and then you'll be happy
But you're cryin'
You're cryin' now

Way down the street there's a lad in his place
He opens the door he's got that look on his face
And he asks you where you've been
You tell him who you've seen
And you talk about anything

He's got this dream about buyin' some land
He's gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he'll settle down there's a quiet little town
And forget about everything

But you know he'll always keep movin'
You know he's never gonna stop movin
Cus he's rollin'
He's the rollin' stone

And when you wake up it's a new mornin'
The sun is shinin' it's a new morning
You're goin'
You're goin' home.

Wish I could. There is no home, now - no place where I can get away from this - have to deal with it here.
Why'd it have to be such an issue, man... the whole world and it's great-uncle has their opinion.
feeling myself getting ground down
little bit at a time
outside in and inside out

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I've got off the 6:30 slow to Andheri, and I'm walking down the platform towards the exit. An old man is walking towards me, slowly shuffling. He has a bandage around his head, from which a clear, transparent tube emerges. It loops over his head and ends in a square of sticking plaster embedded on the side of his nose, leading back into his head. He seems to be directly inhaling his own cranial fluid.
I watch him shuffle past and get lost in the crowd. He doesn't look around, just keeps going, staring down at the ground.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I have two phones - one that I use, and the older one that lies collecting dust except when used in emergencies.
Took it out today for the trip - don't want to risk damaging a slider - and was scrolling through the old SMS's.

You can't experience this if you delete all of them - but old SMS's are like photographs, like an old note passed to you in college now found buried deep inside some junk during a spring cleaning... years later, that one short message can evoke so many memories, faces, experiences. Emotions.
It's... bittersweet. Pain, hope, agony and ecstasy, anger, love, encouragement, frustration... each message is a bud, unopened, of a completely different life path that never blossomed. An experiential seed.

And I read them, and I remember the faces, the words, what I had dreamed of, what I had feared... and what still makes me cringe today... and what makes me proud.

It's a unique, fleeting, medium, transient as the proverbial snowflake in hell. What is the lifespan of an SMS? Days, at most. Finding these... a sudden rush of nostalgia.
You can't save them, or wait for them, or expect them. They were never planned.
They just happen.
Remember how transient life itself is. The most secure investment may disappear... and the most random, unexpected castoff can survive.
And bring a much larger benefit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

climatic catastrophe


there are cold cold breezes
my spine, it simply freezes
the chill, it just not eases
while this daikin zephyr teases
the ac does what it pleases
my fingertips wrinkle into creases
my each and every breath seizes
with coughs, and colds, and wheezes

and i am sitting in absolute humid climate
no power in office
I need excuses to not cut you in to pieces and feed you to the fishes

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Office - First Impressions

In a word - Russlandfeldzug!

The Eastern Front, 1941-1945. German invasion of Russia.

Hitler's invasion of Russia had many similarities. There are sub-zero temperatures, and the TIL army is wrapping up in furs, big furry hats and greatcoats, shivering and turning blue in the chill mist that hangs in the air from the overenthusiastic air-conditioning.

Because there's no canteen, and it's just too blisteringly hot outside, food is at a perennial shortage. Famine stalks the cubicles. Biscuits, choc bars and other snacks are fought over viciously.

In between the fights for food, the army huddles around cigarettes; the nearest cig shop is outside the compound, a nice long walk away. Cigs are also running short and have become a precious commodity.

Communications are faltering and intermittent; the 1 Gbps connections struggle against a firewall that must have been the Berlin Wall in a past life.

Sporadic fusillades of ringtones echo deafeningly around the office like artillery, as the intercom system is configured while the phones are stuck on maximum ringtone volume.

More reports shall be forthcoming, if I am to survive this terrible June winter...

Saturday, May 31, 2008


My friend, the computer.

They're as much a part of my life as anything else. I interact with them, work with them, play with them, put up with their megrims and vapors, their tantrums and brilliance.
Which makes me think - what have they taught me?
  1. There is no problem that cannot be resolved with a simple shut down and restart. Take a breather. Look at what's important. Clear out the unnecessary clutter hogging your head. Make a fresh start. You might lose some work, but nothing that can't be redone.
  2. You cannot multitask to infinity. If there's some stuff that can be done, do it. Too much will slow you down, grind you to a halt.
  3. Save frequently. Anything can happen anytime, power can go out of your life, anything can happen. Take precautions.
  4. Backup and Protect. The world is full of malicious people creating malicious ways to hurt you just for their own fame or money. The more you explore the world, the more you expose yourself to it's dangers; keep a good shield. Don't lose what you value. Burn DVDs regularly.
  5. Equip yourself. There are things that you need to have to experience the best of what life has to offer, in safety. You need an AGP card, a DVD burner, HDD space, RAM, speakers. Spend some money. It's worth it.
  6. Explore. What you started with is fine, but to really realize your potential, go out there, see, experiment.
  7. Everything costs money, more than you thought. But there are shortcuts, hacks, ways of working around it.
  8. There will always be less time than you think. Don't lose sleep doing inane timepass.
  9. Organize. All the information in the world is useless unless you know where to get it. If your stuff is in a mess, it's worse than useless. It's negative, draining time and energy and mental peace without any results.
  10. Once in a while, disaster will strike. Something so bad, terrible, unexpected that you were completely unready, and your life's work will be wiped out. But you don't give up at that. You sit down, take a deep breath, and type a simple little command.
Format C:
Warning! This will wipe out ALL information on your disk drive! Proceed? Y / N

And sit back calmly, light a cig, and flush away everything - everything that was diseased, corrupted, dangerous, malicious. If you've been careful, the really important things - your music, movies, books, pictures, writings, and job - are safe, burned on a DVD somewhere. Your friends, their conversations, ids, everything is still out there. This is just a breathing space, a time to recoup, reorganize, and recover before you explode back out in the world.
Watch the counter reach 100%. Label your drive. Look at the dark screen, and think of the time, long ago, when in the darkness, there was a Word. One Word, said in the right directory, from where everything began.

And that Word was...


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

time flies when you're having fun

what happened to the last six years?
getting old. when i was 18 i had all the time in the world to do everything... now running out of it to do stuff i had right up there at the top of the priority list.
i guess that's the biggest difference between a beginning and a middle, between 6 pm and midnite when you pull an all-nighter.
knowing the score is never a pleasant experience
someday i guess i'll thank me for what i'm doing today. but still - it may the right thing to have done, but is that the right thing to do? right now?
a future for a present. can i lose both?
a present. the future will follow?
attach too much importance to things. don't attach any.
right things. wrong things.
neither. both. any.

every minute gone won't ever come back
going now
so much i wanted to do - where did the time go?

Monday, May 19, 2008

game on!

My TV table has started resembling my PC room - enough cabling to build a fully functional elephant hammock, and LEDs that, if not the bridge of the Enterprise-D, are at least good enough for the Reliant.
Borrowed a PS2 and picked up a second joystick, discovered a new (good) games supplier, and I'm all set for the summer vacations, had I had any. Man I miss summer vacations. Nothing I want more than, not much, just a few weeks of AC, PC, PS2, and gametime.
Do I buy a PS3? or an Xbox? Am beginning to see the benefits of a dedicated gamesystem - consoles let you switch onto a game instantly. No bootups, no switching off inessential apps, no messenger windows popping up, and no Blue Screen Of Death. On the other hand... I do need to buy an engagement ring.
Decisions, decisions...

Roommate has acquired a 3-DVD set of Mr Bean, and we have just the single TV.

I'm also converting every plugpoint into a lethal firetrap, begging for a short. Pray with me, as I appease Raiden.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


2001: A Space Odyssey.

It's fascinating to see old movies made about the future. This was done in the (fifties? sixties?) and while being completely groundbreaking in the central premise, nontheless looks incredibly outdated when you read between the lines. When you look at all the cultural assumptions built in.
2001 is already almost a decade past. We don't have Jupiter missions, or passenger shuttles, or Clavius base. But we do have human-machine interfaces that are generations ahead. Everything is... so much smaller. Buttons. Computers. Cameras. Food trays. Furniture. Everything.
At the time it was made, the movie looked very futuristic because the cultural bias was invisible - like looking at crystal in water. Cultural bias, when seen in the culture it belongs to, is impossible to see. Half a century later, the crystal's changed color, and sticks out like a sore thumb.
Text is HUGE. Displays, labels, buttons... diagrams are 2-color. Every screen is a 14-inch, and large displays are a matrix of multiple screens. With gaps in between to prevent gaussian blur :)

It got me thinking - there always will be some rules that can hold true for all sci-fi for a long time, given where we are now.
1. No artificial gravity. The benefits far outweigh the cost. apart from the resources wasted in terms of energy, look at the wasted space! Walls, ceiling and floor should be interchangeable. Footfall had that right, at least.
2. No large empty spaces. Not even cargo holds. At the max, maybe a net system outside where the cargo containers can be moored; that much empty space is just a waste of air, light, heat. No big roomy corridors, just crawlspaces and passages. No rooms, just bunks.
3. Minimal manned EVA. Everything to be remote-controlled, waldos and VR.
4. VR, VR, and VR. When you're in space, you are the ship. You need to move around inside and outside the ship as little as possible; ideally, the entire journey should happen with you plugged into the ship systems, floating in a life-support tube.
5. No High-speed maneuvers and stunts, at least in the immediate timeline; wastes far too much fuel.
6. Aliens will not be hominid, and most probably not even bipedal. Probably not organic either.
7. Space war will last days at the very most, and will result in complete annihilation or unconditional surrender, just because each side will have weapon technology so different from the other that any faceoff will be a race to find that one tech that the other can't counter. So 'war' will not be soldiers, fighters and lasers; it'll be espionage, crackers, viruses, and decryption tech.
8. Further down the timeline, there will be only supercomputers talking to each other.
9. Time travel will be possible, but each instant it's done, the time-traveller will be in a different universe. So you can't change your past, just someone else's.
10. Everything will be cordless, wireless, and batteries will never run out.

Unlike my laptop who's dying even as we speak. Ciao.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

the bears ARE real

you know how it goes, right? step on a crack in the sidewalk, and invisible bears that wait around the corner for you to do just that will appear and eat you up?

I don't believe it for sidewalks; but the bathroom is a different story.

There ARE bears hiding between the cracks. They DO eat the people that aren't careful about where they put their feet.

look at that. you can see the man being eaten. he's got a reeally scrawny neck, and the lower half of his jaw is visible; you can even see a few of his teeth, beneath the blood grimed around his mouth. he either bit his lips clean though, or they got chewed off; his ear's missing as well; a lot of blood caked on the side of his face.
as for the rest... well, it's just bear. can you see the top of the bear's head? he seems to be frowning in concentration, engrossed on apparently tearing the guy's nose off, or maybe just cracking the skull his mouth.

why can I see this, now, after six months of living in this house? maybe my left brain - right brain connections are opening up. creativity translating into cognition and articulation.

or maybe, the bears are coming to life. maybe there were there all along.

people that are about to die can see Death, the skeleton with the scythe, the girl with the ankh. does this mean I'm going to be eaten up, real soon?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Auto strike. Ahahaha.

Andheri Station at 8:30 a.m., peak rush hour.
Believe it or not.
An auto rickshaw strike today in Mumbai and Life Is Beautiful. The streets are empty, traffic jams are a thing of the distant past like a bad dream, it takes a grand total of seven minutes to reach the station... Why can't life be usually like this? When I return to home tonight I have every expectation that the streets will be equally clear.
Hopefully, this should make people realize they don't really need so many autos. And the suburbs will be as pleasant as Town, henceforth and forever... I wish.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

men are dogs

and now Sandoz has unequivocally endorsed that sentiment. Check out the packaging for the men's and women's calcium tablet jars -

What can I say but Woof! Woof!

Monday, April 07, 2008

product life cycle like never before

Today, dear pagecount contributor, let me tell you about my washing machine.

My washing machine suffers from habitual and copious incontinence.
My washing machine groans like a ghoul at odd intervals.
My washing machine cannot take water on it's own, and needs to be put on a separate hose like an IV drip for every wash.
Because of this, it needs constant watching and supervision to make sure the pipe doesn't fall out and sprays water all over my comp. My washing machine, perversely, will start it's wash cycle exactly when I step out of the room in nicotine-starved frustration, with a flatulent rumble followed by a merry splish-splash, causing me to twitch violently at a crucial juncture while leaning sideways over the gas (since the matches are soaked) and singeing my eyebrows.
My washing machine needs a special support stand in order to be moved around, to be able to reach the bathroom drain.
My washing machine displays all the vibrancy of an epileptic seizure in the spin cycle. A vibrancy that knocks it off its castors and upon my unsuspecting feet, whilst partly-spin-dried clothing flies about in wild abandon.
My washing machine is an old, old man, on it's deathbed.
Had it owned large property, or even a hall-kitchen south of Boriviali, I would have been standing over it with will and pen and large, comforting smile.
"If you hate your washing machine so much," asked HR, who was just recently introduced to the joys of new-ownerhood of a brand-new IFB, "why don't you just buy a new one?"
A new machine, it is true, would be young, vibrant, and eager to please with a hint of smug superiority, like an MBA with 1 year's work ex. It will, like Sharman Joshi in Metro, take away all my troubles and resolve them. It may not get me laid as well in the bargain, but with the kind of tech Siemens is putting in it's machines these days, you never know.
But the truth is - I like this one. It's more paisa-vasool entertainment than a Mithun-da film festival. Washing day is lookied forward to with dread, trepidation, and a fluttering int he stomach weeks in advance. Jeans are re-re-re-used until they're insufferably obscenely filthy, and therefore last decades. Office shirts are guarded like Kohinoor diamonds to avoid the slightest speck of dirt. Underclothing contributes to many new species for alien scientists to discover and theorize about the evolution and origin thereof, billions of years from now, by creating independent, individual biospheres. Curtains become bulletproof with mold, mildew and dust, and that too at no extra cost. Enough electricity is saved to power rural Maharashtra for at least a week, which is why I was able to watch DishTV at the end of the Lohagadh trek while savoring a nice hot chai and ciggie out of the pouring rain.
So, such is my life and that of my washing machine.
Even talking about it makes me feel clean.
Is it not the most amazing machine you've seen?
It's lean, mean, and even ecologically green.
Other machines, they look obscene,
When compared. Wah. What a scene!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

looking back

If another myself could meet me today, he would be fairly sandbagged as well.

Life has been... interesting. Most of all, in the way things have changed. I used to think, sometimes, a while back, what I would be growing into, what I would become.

The truth, as they say, is usually stranger than fiction. The 18-yr-old Ashish had some ideas about what he was going to grow up into... and not a few dark suspicions. On the whole, I think it's the suspicions that have been vindicated. But in a good way. I've pretty much gone ahead and done everything I wanted to, and got everything I'd hoped for. Then.

In the long look back - it's been almost frighteningly good. Even the bad bits have the golden glow of nostalgia around them now. Wonder if it's a case of selective perception, or actually paying attention to the stuff that mattered that's pulled it off, putting me in a life that, to say the least, rocks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I am the...

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

discovering archetypes

Everything... begins.
This... began over an inconsideration. On a shared 30-Kbps wireless line, bandwidth is precious; and as with any limited resource, there need to be rules to manage them, to prevent the whole system from collapsing. And when the rules are broken, there are... reactions. Solutions.

Gaiman was unknown to me except as a co-author, the other half of a superlative fantasy-spinner. From that one book followed another, and another... and the whole exploration may have ended there, but for... a few images. Images that prompted me to risk one, just one more experiment.

It gave me a name.

And one night, when the rulebreaker was away, a parallel method was found. An alternative. A chastisement.

A revenge.

The name was, then, inconsequential. It just floated along, and was pinned to the board as an as-good-as-any candidate.

The torrent completed its download.

And on a quiet tuesday evening, I discovered The Sandman.

I'm only 3 stories down, and already I can feel myself being drawn into that universe. Pictures move, faint sounds, scents. Depth.


And most of all, it's so familiar. Like a racial memory, an archetype.

The Matrix. Morpheus. Neo. The black. Everything you see is a dream, and The One is the awakener.

Stephen King's Randall Flagg. The world that had moved on. The Tower. Alternate realities.

MIB. There are hidden truths, hidden stories all around you. Nothing is what it seems to be.


The Man.

John Constantine.

The face in the crowd, for just a second, that looks right at you. Eyes meet. The shock, the subconscious recognition. Then it's gone, and no matter how hard you search, you can never find it again.
Walking through them all, is the same image.


The Endless.

The Man In Black.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

How to build a Generation Starship

Just read Mayflower II recently. it's probably been the best ever description of how a generation starship would actually work in practice, just like the Odyssey series were the best ever in the hibernation-tech travel. And if you think about it, it does make sense - unless you have a habitat the size of a continent, civilization will stagnate, degrade. You can't think in terms of weeks, months, years, even decades; can we plan centuries?

In that small a space, you have to think of not technical, not psychological, not even social issues. You have to think in civilizations. I see a whole new brand of ship's doctor coming up.

Hm - I guess I'm also beginning to see the reason for the holodeck and Deanna Troi, beyond the obvious eyecandy.

Conversely, if we have continent-sized habitats capable of interstellar travel, it makes the point kinda moot. Where do you go, when all you want is already here? Nobody would ever leave; any planet would always come a poor second to the ship itself. You could have roaming generation ships that travel to seed, and move on. Factoring in wear-and-tear issue resolution, of course. Or you could have seeders whose only purpose is to reach the next destination only to rebuild their ship, leave behind descendants, and move on.

Niven's Ringworld is a generation starship taken to the other extreme - a habitat that outclasses any source or destination at an exponential level.

Which brings us back to the Civilization Planner. We would either need supremely long-lived human beings, or Pak. Or we would need automated systems and frozen chromosomes, and independent failsafes of frozen repairmen when things went wrong.

That's possible. Shit, that's possible. We can start reaching the stars the day we have a reliable freezing tech.

Here's another alternate. One mother system that runs the ship. Multiple gene banks. Multiple equipment garages. And multiple independent modules whose only function would be to synthesize and grow trained repair personnel from the gene banks purely when the rest of the systems collapsed so catastrophically that they went out of the parameters of the autosystems. Sure, it'll take years to get the workers - but that's nothing in a journey span of millenia.

Interesting to think of what they would do afterwards, though.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gaming - the next level

Most probably a hoax, but lookit the completely awesome concept. Reality Gaming.

Game puts player into trance, then evil mastermind game coordinator puts player into game. A zombie FPS is replicated in real life in a warehouse, and knocked-out players are put in. Watch them wake up, the completely disbelieving 'this-is-not-happening' look slide into near-madness when the zombies start making their appearance.

Also says a lot of how people react. It took him just a few seconds to start shooting at the people. I can't even say he's adapting to the situation because he's not taking the classic approach to zombies as popularized in hundreds of movies - i.e., zombies can be disposed of by removing the head or destroying the brain - but not a single headshot do we see. He's just opening full-on fire at anyone and everyone. Including the game coordinator, despite his obviously non-zombie look.

Maybe there is some truth in the studies that correlate violent behaviour to games; sadly, one more thing that come through all to clearly is how educational content - removing the head or destroying the brain - tends to be completely discarded in stressful situations.

Monday, March 03, 2008

gamers: catchin 'em young!

The kid on the left must be, what, three? Four, max? His head is at the same level as his controller... and he still drives better than me, with a twenty-five year head start.
The boy has a future, mmm?
Not to miss the sibling rivalry at play; the elder one on the right hogs the Xbox, while the younger is fobbed off with a PS2.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Going Postal 2.0

Can't remember the last game that made me fall off my chair laughing, ROTFL. After the failure of Quake Wars, Carmagaeddon, and Manhattan Project, I was fairly skeptical of even getting this to work... hah! Worked first time, as a pleasant surprise. No codes to hunt, cracks to download.
[Current score: Colaba Pavement 3, uTorrent 2.]
The graphics are a bit old; I remember playing the original 2D Postal back in '95, so this can't have been too far ahead, though the responsiveness of the Unreal engine is awesome. But it's a laugh riot because of the twisted, fast, and completely bonkers sense of humour that it overflows with.
'Save a Tree, Burn a Book.'
'Did you place an offering in the Donation Box? Then you are Forgiven.'
The ability to stick your shotgun up a cat's bum to use as a makeshift silencer.
The only, and repeat, ONLY, game in history I have played where I can pee on people.
The Church or Our Lady of Infinite Avarice, disgorging boomstick-toting priests to take on Osama clones.
Me getting captured by hillibillies and waking up... in the Gimp's leather suit, in his trunk.

The physics engine isn't up to HL2 standards, sadly; if you kick a corpse, there's a good chance it'll stick halfway in a wall, straight-edged and angular, until kicked again, and the 'rag-doll' effects are bit too ragdoll. Bloodsmears too smeary. Textures crude.
But is still so totally awesomely rocks. When will they build the next version with the HL2 engine?! :)

Though on a serious note, it kind of gets you thinking. This game is violent, disgusting, bloody, and disrespectful. And it's precisely for those reasons that it'll be loved by it's target audience. Even the protestors, most of the time, object on the basis of an idea, or a principle. A stereotype. Games are bad, they make you mad.

Does the human psyche actively seek out violence? Since the Deterrence principle effectively stopped war for the First-world nations, and now all nuclear nations, crime rates have been rising. I don't know if it's been directly since then, but it's close enough. Is crime - and all other forms of both real and virtual violence - a direct expression of the need to fight, and frustration at not being able to?

In primitive cultures, kids start fighting by fifteen. In more advanced societies, it's later, but the promise - and conditioning - begins from much earlier. It's only now, in the developed countries, that kids grow up knowing that, in a legitimate, socially acceptable way, fighting - violence - is not permitted, and never will be. Does that block off some outlet, some safety valve?

Notice how the US homicides graph spikes with the end of the last major war the US was involved in? I guess we'll know for sure when VR tech advances to the point that virtual violence is indistinguishable from the real. If actual crime rates drop - I'm vindicated.

In the meantime, I continue to go on a murderous citizen-hunting spree... and it's only Wednesday.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Roses are red, but V-Day is blue.

Please excuse general ranting post. But that's what I'm blogging for anyway, so if you don't like, take hike.

Feb 3rd: Order placed at Delivery to be done on 14th.
Feb 14th:Not delivered.
Feb 18th:
From:Ashish Tewari
Date: Monday, February 18, 2008 03:26 PM
Subject: Complaint: Order No: 4384440
Hi, I wanted to bring to your attention the following order, which was placed on Date:2008-02-07 for delivery on Valentine's Day. As of today (18th), it is still showing as pending.
Should I have specified that I meant Valentine's Day 2008 and not 2009?
Order No: 4384440 Order Status :Approved
What's the next step from here? Has the cost been charged to me?
Feb 19th:
From: Support
To: Ashish Tewari Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 9:42 PM
Subject: [Possible SPAM] RE:'Rediff=008-094-395' Complaint: Order No: 4384440
Dear Ashish,
Greetings from With reference to your mail, we would like to inform you that the item ordered against the Order No : 4384440 , has been delivered to the delivery address.
Assure you of prompt and courteous response on all your visits to
Warm Regards,
Customer Service
Rediff. Com
P.S: Please do not change the subject line for future correspondence .

Dear ABVP / Shiv Sainiks / Miscellaneous Lumpen Elements: Please update your calendars. Valentine's Day will henceforth be celebrated on the 19th of February, courtesy

From: Ashish Tewari
Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 11:37 AM
To: Support (
Subject: Re: [Possible SPAM] RE: Complaint: Order No: 4384440
Delivery on the 19th for a festival on the 14th, even after the order has been booked 10 days in advance of the festival, is not counted as fulfilling customer satisfaction. You need to add a disclaimer that 'Product may be delivered up to 5 days after scheduled date' to avoid false representation and consumer court issues. I am very, very disappointed with the quality of Rediff's service. The recipient needs to receive this ON the day it is supposed to be delivered. What's the point of delivering it 5 days late? Are you suggesting that I need to celebrate Valentine's day, or a birthday, or any other occasion on the day they happen, or as per Rediff's convenience? I'm interested in hearing what is even the remotest justification you have for delivery of a Valentine's Day gift on the 19th. I may as well not have placed the order with Rediff. I have to put up with the consequences of not gifting on the 14th, then seeing my money go down the drain, and then be told that the delivery has been done late, without any apology or reason. Why should I gift flowers on the 19th of February? I already look bad for not giving on the 14th. Now an incompetent vendor screws it up even more by then doing a delivery a week later!

In fact, let me correct my above point. I am not interested in finding out why Rediff chooses to celebrate Valentine's Day on the 19th. As far as I am concerned, the order of a Valentine's Day Flowers was not executed. I did not order 'Flowers to be delivered on the 19th of February for no reason'. I am therefore assuming that my order placed has not been executed, and I want my order cancelled and my money back.


From: Support
To: Ashish Tewari
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:12 PM
Subject: [Possible SPAM] RE:'Rediff=008-094-395' Complaint: Order No: 4384440
Dear Ashish,
Greetings from
We have received your mail and understand every reason for you being upset. We have made every attempts to deliver products on the intended date, however the same must have happened due to oversight by our enabling partners at the time of delivery.
They have attempted, but enabling partner screwed up. Interesting. Take the credit but pass the buck, in the same sentence!
We would not be able to meet the sentiment that you had intended to send along with a timely gift.
(at least, until we finish work on the rediff iTimeMachine 1.0 beta, I assume)
We truly understand the sentiments involved in your gifting. We request you to kindly bear with us this time, we are taking adequate measure to prevent any recurrence.
(by ensuring you don't have recurring customers?)
We once again sincerely regret the delay and inconvenience caused to you. We assure you courteous, prompt service on all your visits to
Warm Regards,
Customer Service
Rediff. Com

And how was your V-day?