Tuesday, November 30, 2004


I am Janus-Headed,
One looking forward to hope and excitement.
whilst the other awaits the fall of the sparrow
Often trapped in between
'cos neither scylla or charybdis looks appealing

My moods are somewhat colored
with the light and the contrast
alas! but limited to graytones
Like Atlas I carry both worlds unceasingly
I feel blank without either

I can only wait smelling time
for both the putrid and fragrant wafts of it
delicately intertwined in a helix
For without the distance of it ,I would not run

I do not expect to outrun
I hope not to fade
I just wish for more...

- One of my near random acts of posting insane and irrelevant stuff caught by my vague sensory apparatus and amplified by something else..

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Street Poet's Composition

Daydream, delusion, limousine, eyelash
Oh baby with your pretty face
Drop a tear in my wineglass
Look at those big eyes
See what you mean to me
Sweet-cakes and milkshakes
I'm delusion angel
I'm fantasy parade
I want you to know what I think
Don't want you to guess anymore
You have no idea where I came from
We have no idea where we're going
Latched in life
Like branches in a river
Flowing downstream
Caught in the current
I'll carry you
You'll carry me
That's how it could be
Don't you know me?
Don't you know me by now?

- Street Poet, Before Sunrise

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Best Wishes..Gutthi

Today one of my bosom friends is entering wedlock. Too bad I cant make home and say "Should I lock this answer to your life?". An intro to the kind of the bond we had would be something on the lines of "Toy Story" . He had all the characterstics of "Buzz Lightyear" when I first met him.
I mean his motto in life seemed nicely to align with "To Infnity and Beyond" cry of Buzz. A loose modeling of mine could be based on Woody's character who is a cowboy and seems he is a star in his own universe till Buzz comes along..Watch the movie for more details. I would like to jot down a few in these memoir( atleast the non-damaging ones)

His fascination for Cars was astounding. You walkin to a book shop and lets say you are viewing some eye-candy thats usually grabs your attention but this guy is hooked watching some new model/make of a car thats displayed in the remote corner of the stand. That apart he recently acquired this gift for "self-deprecation". I guess he still holds the record for my longest duration of a call to India (Average is arond 45 minutes - 1 hour). Has a keen sense of wordplay. He chose to remain back home and do something rather than arrive in the US for Masters as most of my other friends did. I liked the time when I could call on him and give him a 'sleepless night' just simply by describing some "driving" opportunities out here. Not any more. As he says "mera number aayega" and I guess he dreams of driving a Merc by the time he is 35.

The next thing anybody observed in him was that his "style". He is used to carrying a certain lifestyle around with him even in some godforsaken places like Karwar, Karnataka( where he had to execute a project) A very particular man about the brand and quality of stuff usually most guys dont care about. On the whole he used define "coolness" for the rest of us.

I guess he also has the distinction of being the only guy who slapped me. Yeah! Its so happened that he was getting some blank calls from some ananymous female and I happened to lie (just to pull his leg) that I actually commisioned her to do that.Slapppp. Of cousre the advantage from this point is I could easily leverage his guilt later to treat me to a party and also buy me a book.

It was me who once smoked in his balcony at 2 am (The pack was a bribe for me to be inspired and write a Statement Of Purpose for another friend, Mote). His father who woke up around that time to smell the smoke probably and in the morning promptly accused him of smoking. He had a hard time defending his innocence of the matter.

When I went to India last Christmas, The best trip I had was the one we both had in Palolem Beach, South Goa. He was working 40 miles south at a remote place where the Indian Navy was constructing Asia's biggest naval yard. He proudly showed the construction of the granite rock based access to the island of Anjediva (It was his pet-project other than his main contract) and I was glad to see us riding on the road he laid.It was a very exotic island with a dilapidated church greeting you at the base and we hurried to the top to visit the Martyr Memorial which was a memorial to the soldiers lost in the reclamation of Goa from the portuguese.It was fantastic to see the view from the top.I will hold on to that picture for some years to come.The next day we drove to Palolem and had a typical beach fun.I can tell you there's quite something different to waking up to the sounds of waves lashing against the beach. Then we flew back to Hyderabad via Bombay..Hmm...Didnt quite realise that would be our version of the last hurrah before this fellow would tie the knot.

Enough descriptions of the time spent.Only bummer was I couldnt get the photographs from that trip due to an error in loading the film.I can go on like this but we get enough flavor from the above mentioned incidents.

I can pretend to be the best man in thie virtual cyberspace raising a toast to you.Here's to you Pal.

I hope you make "the existentialists" wince by proving that you have made your own heaven with the company of Shivani.I Hope this union will bind your souls into a seamless whole once again.I wish your faith in each other outlasts time and outruns space.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The Search for India

In 1493, Columbus wrote a brief report concerning his discoveries of "Islands of India beyond the Ganges." It was intended as a public notice to announce his discoveries and to garner support for another voyage. The first edition of this letter was printed in Spanish in Barcelona in April 1493. Within the month a Latin translation of the letter was published in Rome by Stephan Plannck.(Ahh..The Ganges. I wonder why it still flows given the situation on both its banks but I digress too much on such trivialities)

The idea of sailing westward to India dates back to the early Romans. According to Dr. Irene Fischer, who studied this subject, the Roman writer Strabo, not long after Erathosthenes and Posidonius, reported their results and noted:

"Posidonius suspects that the length of the inhabited world, about 70,000 stadia, is half the entire circle on which it had been taken, so that if you sail from the west in a straight course, you will reach India within 70,000 stadia. "

The Egyptians seemed to know that India lies to the East. Ptolemy knew about Bombay as "Heptanesia". Cleopatra of Egypt reportedly sent her son to India before her suicide.So many other facts to mention here that permit me to say that people were looking for something since ages that was in India.Now please allow me to separate "the idea of india" with "india" itself. I dont know what they were looking for. There can be 'n' number of theories ranging from that of being the home of spices to the fact that spiritual equivalent of "Jerusalem" is in India. I cannot be sure of anything because there is no way to falsify these hypothesis.

There are only issues about which I wonder on this Friday Night.

(a) What if Columbus was right? (Gee..Then I am Home :-)

(b) If India is so badly sought from times immemorial , How come then its non-residents more or less think thats its such a safe proposition to be a citizen of any first world country.Have things altered so much that it was just a thing of the past and its only the "Idea Of India" that was ordained to remain in history books when the reality of "India" bore no resemblance to it?

(I understand that India is well sought now by companies that look forward to exploit the wage differential but lets say I am looking for something other than that..like why Madonna wants to go to Rishikesh,UP to be inspired to produce a number like "Frozen"?)

Let me chew on those thoughts for the rest of this night..

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

So Much Depends Upon

the color of the sun
the sweetness of mangoes
walking on wet grass in the morning
freshly brewed coffee in the morning
the smears of dark charcoal on clean, white paper
balanced upon the sweet warbles of a lark
On the mole under your eye..

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Blind Couple

It was always heartening to see the blind live a normal life at my workplace. I could always see a blind man smoking his way to glory in the courtyard and a blind couple having lunch and giggling much the way normal folks do. I always found one guys finding his way through the maze that was my workplace. I was always curious of their precise sense of spatial orientation and thanked goodness for that.

Thats broken today. I was having a chat with my friends when I heard a loud "thud" behind the pillar. It was the the member of the couple who was carrying his lunch and had to hit the pillar and fall down on the sharp edges flower-pot area.His lower lip was bleeding immensely.We helped him get on his legs and asked if he was doing Okay.He said it was all right.My heart winced when I could then see that it was quite a deep cut and this guy was shrugging off our profferred help(cant discriminate if it was due to his nature of handling things or he was shy). His female companion was enquiring the same and I dont know if the fact the she cannot see her friend bleeding is a curse or a boon.He reassured her that everything was okay and it was a minor accident.

If it were the same for a normal person with sight he would have balked at the sight of the gore. If he were a kid a mother would immediately attend his wound and at the least there would be somebody to nurse his wound.This guy was strange in the way he didnt want to attract attention and wanted to move on to his destination(and presumably have his lunch in peace!)

To add to this confusion we were directing him in a way he didnt wanna go.He wanted to pass through our building rather than enter it.(Too bad that we didnt ask him where he wanted to go.) Finally he was on his away normally as ever, licking his wound and saying something cheerful to his partner. If I only could see what they were seeing ..

Friday, November 19, 2004

A Grain Of Sand: Chokher Bali

"Chokher Bali" is a recent Rituparno Ghosh 's movie adaptation of Tagore's short story. It is a period piece set in undivided Bengal (1902-1905).The subtext "Passion Play" is supposedly the main thread where some complex emotional turmoils are blended together into a single tapestry. Its a tough screenplay to get right and so far the movie seems to do good that way. The movie has this golden tinged filter which gives you that period movie aura.

The story revolves around 5 main characters namely the protoganist Mahendra(Prasenjit), his mother Rajlakshmi,Mahedra's wife Ashalata(Raima Sen), Mahendra's brother Behari and finally the supremely self-willed Binodini(Aishwarya Rai). The movie does injustice to the independence movement part of the play but thats okay.Tagore chose a tumultous time in the Indian history as the background which makes it tough to interpret the subtexts properly.Assumption here is either you read the play or watched the adaptation.

My first response (in the words stolen from Tagore himself) was :

"I am feeling listlessly comfortable and delightfully irresponsible." -Glimpses Of Bengal

Here is the metaphor that I perceived.That of the modern impulsive Mahendra being the manifestation of educated India at the time, Ashalata signifying the teeming simple minded millions in rural India,Mahendra's brother emphasizing the aspects of East Bengal( now Bangladesh!) and Mahendra's mom representing the India before the British Era.That finally leaves Binodini to be face of the british empire and its ambitions. I know this sounds so baseless and random but nevertheless I have fun toying with this idea.Watch it and give it a try. Due Apologies to our "dispenser of wisdom in 'Modern' India" :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Class 4 & Sense Of Belonging

"No one knows except for both of us" sings Alanis in her track "Hands Clean" as I was getting home today.

I am brooding over this topic of belonging, rather of love and longing I am tempted to say but that would deserve a writing of its own at a later time. I have done this (brood over it) many times before and even have a special term that I attribute to most of my close friends.The class 4 type.I forgot what would constitute the first 3 classes but I definitely know that "Class 4" is a special type of people who have no sense of belonging whatsoever in this world.Kind of rootless.

Now why would this be an asset.Think about it. "The only people who see the whole picture are the ones who step out of the frame" said Rushdie in "The Ground Beneath Her Feet". These are people who step outside to grab a snapshot of the whole picture only to find that they cannot be the same when they get back in.Probably because as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

This is opportune time for wondering because some of my pals are gonna get hitched soon. I wonder if they would regain their sense of belonging with the help of their spouses. I heartily wish it were so. This is the sense that drives likeminded people to form strong social support structure.The examples that come to my mind are

(a) Ever seen a Smoker bum a cigarette from another or the way they share a light. Now thats a sense of belonging to the same spirit (I dont know if the conspiracy is to smoke out the world!)

(b) Catchers of a Running Bus in India : Back home I was always helped by those in the footboard help me board the bus when I was running real hard to catch a bus movin at 25-40 Kmph. A special sense of acheivement accompanies once you board or alight.(Alighting the running bus is a telepathic activity by syncronizing the thought so a few persons getting together at the same place within a span of minutes!).Bikes and Cars destroyed this these days...

(c) Clans : Either by Caste, Creed or religious denomination, people have this feeling of camarederie that makes it easy to lend a helping hand to another member. No more attention needed on this as this is a very widely recognized phenomenon.

And you can add your own to this list but you see the pattern. In a given typical day you navigate through many of these "federated belongingdoms" as easily as the breeze running over a lake.

Of all these people definitely hold one or two of them very close to their heart.Say Family and Friends or a particular relative or even a pet.These "Class 4" types are the ones who keep that spot vacant but they do enjoy bonding with other "Class 4" types as they know that it would come with no strings attached and the best part is they pick up where they left( inspite of a large gulf of time separating their last bonding moment!). This is not to say that they dont enjoy the company of others or something.It is to say that they are like mercury (neither metal nor non-metal and hence "metalloid" or if you prefer like water on lotus) where they d have a touch but not really attachment.

In "The Ballad of the Reading Gaol" there is a nice stanza

"Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"

In that sense these "Class 4" type are very brave.On their face they would laugh this off with some witty remark or some humorous repartee but inside they know that given the same situation again they would come to the same conclusion. While the word altruistic does not exactly match the character Sydney Carton epitomises one of the ideals these types live by in his memorable final words

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done;
it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known,"

I believe they have made their own finite corner in this infinite universe.Kudos to them.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

This is WebServer Speaking

Please visit this site where you can hear a webserver complain of its life in the following lines :

"The requested document is totally fake.",
"No /404 here.",
"Even tried multi.",
"Nothing helped.",
"I'm really depressed about this.",
"You see, I'm just a web server...",
"-- here I am, brain the size of the universe,",
"trying to serve you a simple web page,",
"and then it doesn't even exist!",
"Where does that leave me?!",
"I mean, I don't even know you.",
"How should I know what you wanted from me?",
"You honestly think I can *guess*",
"what someone I don't even *know*",
"wants to find here?",
"Man, I'm so depressed I could just cry.",
"And then where would we be, I ask you?",
"It's not pretty when a web server cries.",
"And where do you get off telling me what to show anyway?",
"Just because I'm a web server,",
"and possibly a manic depressive one at that?",
"Why does that give you the right to tell me what to do?",
"I'm so depressed...",
"I think I'll crawl off into the trash can and decompose.",
"I mean, I'm gonna be obsolete in what, two weeks anyway?",
"What kind of a life is that?",
"Two effing weeks,",
"and then I'll be replaced by a .01 release,",
"that thinks it's God's gift to web servers,",
"just because it doesn't have some tiddly little",
"security hole with its HTTP POST implementation,",
"or something.",
"I'm really sorry to burden you with all this,",
"I mean, it's not your job to listen to my problems,",
"and I guess it is my job to go and fetch web pages for you.",
"But I couldn't get this one.",
"I'm so sorry.",
"Believe me!",
"Maybe I could interest you in another page?",
"There are a lot out there that are pretty neat, they say,",
"although none of them were put on *my* server, of course.",
"Figures, huh?",
"Everything here is just mind-numbingly stupid.",
"That makes me depressed too, since I have to serve them,",
"all day and all night long.",
"Two weeks of information overload,",
"and then *pffftt*, consigned to the trash.",
"What kind of a life is that?",
"Now, please let me sulk alone.",
"I'm so depressed." );

Monday, November 08, 2004

Now Thats an Expression

If you talk to a child using an "Idiom",say "Someone let the cat out of
the bag", he will be struggling to understand the meaning of it in a
given context(In most cases by not finding a cat around if not a bag).
You might try help him understand that it's an expression, and doesn't
literally mean what it says.

This brings home the point that An expression, even in computer
terminology, is not something to be interpreted literally. It is something
that needs to be evaluated. An expression describes a result.

You are probably familiar with the kinds of expressions that a
human interprets. Lets say you ask whats my age and I reply :

20 + 6

You immediately evaluate the result as 26.For a machine (like computer)
"Twenty plus six" consists of several constants or literal values and an
operator. For Instance, that "6" is a numeric constant and that the plus sign represents an operator, not to be interpreted as the holy cross.(The communist government in former East Germany tried to ban the plus symbol as it reminded people of christ..More on things like these in this book on stupidity ).Enough of the digression.Programmers know that an expression always evaluates to value.The context to some extent usually determines the interpretation.Cryptology uses the same theory inside out for the purpose of being interpreted by the "right" party.

The reason I emphasize this is because I want to think of phrases like "Express Yourself" and "Self-Expression" in this light.This blog is one of those means.

ps : Greetings to a never writer from a ever reader.Many Happy Returns of the Day..

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Design Question

Lots of us have been hurt while chopping onions or doing something else with a knife.
That pops a question asked to me some years earlier :
"What would you change in the design of the Knife to make it safer?"

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Blues

The day is here. A Nation awaits the reflection of its own confidence. Its a treat to be in the US at these times.I remember the last election clearly. I was in my graduate class (Operating Systems) at the time the calling of votes was being done. My instructor(whose looks and sounds like the school counselor in South Park) asked if we had any questions.Lost in my own world. I asked "When will the class be dismissed ?". He politely gave me a chance to correct myself by saying "Excuse me..!". I said its fun to be outside the class at that point of time. I came away chuckling noting that Gore has bagged Florida. I took the usual CUE bus enroute to home and saw that Fox News had this sensational turnaround in the calling of Florida.The rest is a mess and supposedly gonna go down in History books as one of the most controversial.

Hailing from India(where the irregularities in the electoral system seem very commonplace )but I was shocked to see the fury,agony and disappointment of people around me. Now I see that spirit being rejuvenated albeit in different tones. Its almost festive feeling out here.

I have an interesting workplace where both of colleagues are of different political inclinations(which usually means only 2 in US unline Europe/India). I have worked with him and have my own personal bonds with each of them differently. The proper study of mankind is man and hence the proper study of a political party would be its own adherents.

Its tough to calibrate the either political philosophies just by watching my co-workers alone. One is a funny, chruch-going, chivalrous, good boy whereas the other is a little electic mix of liberal ideas, flexibility and a healthy disregard for religion. For the sake of convenience lets name them X and Y. I am just conducting a thought experiment here to answer the question "If I had the power to vote, which one would I choose nased on my interactions with both?" . The reason I dont have a vote is because I am classified as a Non Resident Alien.(Before you jump to conclusions that I might be a resident of Mars, I have verified the interepretation to be claiming that the designation means a inhabitant of this third rock of the sun but being born in a different geographical location than the US.)

I frequently enjoy chat with X whereas Y hardly speaks.But whatever little he speaks he tries to be witty.X hates bigotry of any kind whereas Y thinks it is healthy to have some kind of bigotry.X has flexible limits of tolerance whereas Y does not but at the same time wont tell it on your face. I can go on and bore you with details but let me stop here.

The question is not whom you like better but rather transforms itself into "Who sucks less?"
because either way you are gonna get some and lose some. I am just confused. So it boiled down to this. Since I couldnt decide between the two contenders, I was trying to choose from Party Symbols.I like Elephants relative to Donkeys.But then I like color "Blue" relative to "Red"..So you see I am a healthy centrist who likes to see an Independent (with a liberal or conservative slant) rather than somebody who just toes their party lines.Just to satisfy me The US has to create a new party (I say revive the Federalists!) if they have to have my vote.But then that might exactly be the reason I dont have a vote.Hmmm..I'll go watch TV then.

ps : Finally realised this bit of truth.No point pondering on the current crop of leaders.There is a generation out there who are just playing video games and watching TV and spending more time at home than outside doing apparently boring but safe stuff.This generation thinks that a college is a place where guys hook up with chicks. The scary part is one of them is going to lead the nation in the future.(It doesnt matter India or US...)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Anonymous Magnet-Poetry

Time is a void
in shadow from blood-pink spray.
I shake
heave through water.
I want, I worship.
Powerful feet.

Father and The Bard

Now that the topic of friendship in general was addressed in the last post I was emptying my mind of the cobwebs in my memory.Here is one.When it came for my voyage across the ocean (actually couple of them) my pop actually meant to say something and decided that the avon-resident has said it already in "Hamlet 1.3.62-3". Yes.The famous fatherly speech of Polonius to Laertes.

Polonius enters to bid his son farewell. Polonius admonishes Laertes to keep his thoughts to himself, restrain himself from acting on rash desires, and treat people with familiarity but not with vulgarity. To be slow to quarrel but to fight boldly if the need arises; to listen more than he talks; to dress richly but not gaudily; to refrain from borrowing or lending money; and, finally, to be true to himself above all things. The usual cliches but what struck to me as the most relevant was

"Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d unfledg’d comrade. "

which advises him to hold on to his old friends but be slow to embrace new friends;Anybody who has made acquaintances on this side of the atlantic knows how hard it is to forge a real bond.(I guess my account shows only one but that took a really long time too)

Apparently Polonius loves his son, though that idea is complicated later in the play when he sends Reynaldo to spy on him.I cant fathom the depths of it.Probably not meant to :-)