Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Pursuit of Happiness

As of today, my dear friend Prashant has completed 28 years in the pursuit of happiness. Great! Many Many Phenomenal Returns of the Day, Nair Bhai. It also so happens that he is one of the few people who read every word posted here. (The other notable one is 7~ ) . Coincidentally, its been approximately an year since I started posting these ravings of mine.

I had this theory that once people like me were given the complete freedom to say anything , they usually end up having nothingto say. If suppressed, we seem to have everything under the sun to talk about. I am glad that I am still around and so far quite moderately succesful at debunking that theory.

The initial basis to vent stuff on these pages was to see if I could find a pattern in these words that could tell me something about myself. I still have go through that rigmarole (not that I expect anything). After 2 months into scribbling this stuff, a friend politely reminded me that as time progresses by, a blogger becomes acutely aware of their readers' preference and the writings tend to be a bit colored by that. (His question was, how then could I expect to find something about myself? Of course we had a conversation that digressed into Kalman filters, high pass and low pass filters and the application of such filters to blogs..)

Anyways its been a pleasant experience to be a thread in this online fabric. Thanks to this exerscise, I found a good correspondent with whom I had exchanged more than 300 emails of an average message size with 2.5 Kb. Thats something that I didnt expect at the outset of launching this journey. Thanks for the faith :) I am surprised that actually something virtual like Internet can actually foster real bond in the 'real' world.

It is said that Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer was written without editing a single word and it was published based on his first draft. In a spirit much akin to that I have never edited a single post much less read it to myself for the flow.(Thus resulting in bad haikus and other random posts). The result of the same at the corporate level brough me much grief (One person said "Have you ever head of a Spell Checker?" and proceeded to show me a button in the UI that would do it for me). So you can count that as a resolution for my next posts. (The sad side effect was that my resume had typos and luckily got the job despite it)

Then they say, Picture is worth a thousand words. I havent yet used a single picture so far.While it is not ruled out using them, definitely I will watch out for a good picture to fit in organically with the rest of the content.

I would like to recommend some not so random posts. There's one about Class 4 and one about 30th Street Philly Station (this one had most of my folks dropping in to comment)

A note of thanks to Megha, Anirudh, Geetanjali, Hirak, Sumedha, Bonnie,Venu,Lavanya and other anon commenters for forming this small online community and taking some time off to engage some of their time to read the stuff I had to post.

Goodnight you princes of Maine, you Kings of New England.

ps : I had to change the license plates for my car today which previously had the same title as this blog. The timing couldnt be more appropriate.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Beauty & Utility

Lets say we were to listen to a discourse on grammar versus a recitation of poetry, which one would be a preferable? The choice is subjective because different folks have different fascinations. Poetry, not unlike Grammar, has its own set of rules,conventions,etc but it also has an essential ingredient of 'taste'. (Care for a digression: Visit "A Taste for Makers")

Basically within the established rules, a poem transitions according to a poet's desire. It is governed by curiousity and wonder,whereas that of the language's grammar is governed by use and convenience. ( Vikram Seth's 'Golden Gate' is an excellent example of this)

So the choice is either Beauty or Utility and rarely both(Let me think of something thats beautiful yet useful)..

Thursday, May 19, 2005


She Swims in my arteries with the memory of a goldfish,
A Sudden sense of Liberty,
A Gusto of Abandonment,
A Head Rush,
Pitching the Car into Overdrive,
Close my eyes wading through the traffic,
A vague sense of picking up the scent,
Probably a Red Herring,
No Cop to Arrest me,
No Anthem to Inspire me,
Another moment to be saved.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Luncheon Today

I went to lunch with the most eccentric of my co-workers today. Usually we ask other colleagues before we head out for a restaurant. Given the excellent weather in the Bay Area many folks join us for a stroll or drive while chatting amongst ourselves.

Today he came over my desk and asked me if I am hungry. I said Yes. So we decided to head out.True to his European roots, he warned me ahead saying he is not the person to have the usual $6 lunch for hamburger/sandwich but proper fine dining that might cost me more.

We chose a place and we drove in his Inifiniti. For the first time, other than work details, he asked me where I was from, how long I was around in this country, etc. We came to the restaurant and he held the door for a lady who was coming in the direction. Watching him hold the door, she ran. Immediately, he was asking the lady to take her time and told me

"I dont understand why women run when I hold the door. Is it the fear that I will leave it/close it in the middle. I have opened it and will hold it till she gets in". (This is one of his signature ways of discussing the world around him).

He ordered red wine ( Cabarnet Sauvignon to be precise) and asked me if I would like some beer. Phew! Its been ages since I have seen anyone have wine at lunch.Said it was good for his heart and explained me the difference between various grapes and wineries.The guy knew his food stuff.

Then he explained me that I didnt suck or else he would have voted me off the firm in the first week itself. Glad to know atleast I am worth something in his eyes :)

When we were in the middle of our lunch, I told him that gastronomically speaking, I come from a far superior culture than I have been dished out in this country. Explained a few things. Then we digressed. As was his wont to precision in such matters, he asked me the following question when I told him how I cannot speak my neighboring states' language nor understand their script.

"Tell me this because your country's diversity in language amazes me. Who took the pain of defining these languages, grammars, syntaxes and semantics?"

Me: "I dont know" (Thinking hard to assign a person or a group of people for cleverly coming up with the language Manipuri or Bhojpuri)

"How did they evolve so differently being the part of a same country? ".
I told him that there was no such country as a whole and ethnicnally there is no race called as "Indian")

He discussed the hardships of being a Eastern European Jew, approved the organizational capabilities of Nazis whilst feeling sad for his own folk, recreated what it was like to be in 16th century spain before all of them were expelled from the country.I threw in my shallow comments here and there but there arrived a final kodak moment when he was watching something in the air (an imaginary homeland I guess) saying

"This country is the last hope of the promised land. Nothing has happened since the last 100 odd years since we have settled here. Yet."

Curious about the "yet" part, I quizzed him if he was being cynical given their history or being paranoid given the circumstances. He said neither. He just wore his sunglasses and asked politely

"Shall We?"

Then we wanted to get some decent coffee.( or "agreeable" as he called it). He cursed Starbucks and showed the his vote for the best in the Silicon Valley area called "Peet's Coffee". I ordered the usual and was about to get it in the usual paper cup when he interrupted me with the hint that I am insulting both myself and the coffee if I drink from it. He got me a ceramic cup and told me this was the proper way to enjoy coffee.

Then we basked in the sun for a while trying to think where else in the world would you get paid for doing so, all the while you are recharging yourself. We came back to pick up the loose ends of work we left.

The day is over and I still somehow felt some volumes of words being spoken in his silent stare into the thin air..Ahhh.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Emperor Of the United States

If you around in San Fransisco, it is highly improbable to have the Masonic or Woodlawn Cemetries on your touring list. I suggest you visit the Woodlawn for a nice surprise and a good story. The epitaph reads :
Emperor Of The United States
Protector of Mexico
Joshua A. Norton
That surprised me.Our history books have taught us about the 40 odd president of the US, but never an emperor.Please visit this link or this one to grab the complete story behind this real and eccentric person.

As you could see, he was self proclaimed emperor of the country who claimed it in a piece of writing to the local paper. The editor had a sense of humor in publishing it and the people of San Fransisco good enough to entertain this illusion as well as enjoy it.Mark Twain wrote an obituary for one of his stray dogs (That in itself is a very high accord).His "Bulletin" contained some prophetic stuff. For example he wanted to raise funds to bridge the San Fran Bay area connecting Oakland, Marin County and the city itself. Of course he also advised Lincoln to marry Queen Victoria and personally believed that his dispatches terminated the Franco-Prussian war among other things.

At his funeral, many were there to write of him and among those was Robert Louis Stevenson,whose words were also a tribute to the Emperor's city :

"In what other city would a harmless madman who supposed himself emperor of the two Americas have been so fostered and encouraged? Where else would even the people of the streets have respected the poor soul's illusion? Where else would bankers and merchants have received his visits, cashed his cheques, and submitted to his small assessments? Where else would he have been suffered to attend and address the exhibition days of schools and colleges? where else, in God's green earth, have taken his pick of restaurants, ransacked the bill of fare, and departed scathless? They tell me he was even an exacting patron, threatening to withdraw his custom when dissatisfied; and I can believe it, for his face wore an expression distinctly gastronomical..."

This is just one facet of this great city.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The 7 Sisters

Pop Quiz : Name ALL the seven states of North Eastern India that border China, Tibet, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Burma.(.Oops Sorry.The last one should have said Myanmar) .

To set the context I just finished watching Charlie Tango. The protoganist's (Bobby Deol) first assignment was in Manipur and he is supposed to repel the Bodos (BTW they call themselves in a National Democratic Front of Bodoland). The film didnt cover Assam's ULFA, Tripura Tiger Force,or some other organization in Nagaland because the movie had to cover a lot of ground in terms of Naxalites, Maoists,Kargil, etc., It was much like a cinematic subset of Naipaul's India: A Million Mutinies Now

There was another movie in 1998 that was concerns this region known as Seven Sisters of India. (Maniratnam's Dil Se). My heart cries out when I think of the folks living here. In my opinion, they seem to be living in a limbo.First off, they dont look like like most other regions, their geographical extremities are unrelatable to the mainland folks, the interconnecting faith of this region is a minority, they are not a vote bank and finally none of their languages has any kind of commendable influence.(I suspect this is because of their Non-Sanskrit roots)

Given these factors, majority of the country never made them feel to be a part of India.(Gladly, I am told that this situation is changing). It almost seems like India stops at Siliguri and the rest like a No Man's Land.Some of the folks who had exchange students at their colleges (IITs, RECs and Central Universities) might know a li'l better about their habits (like they prefer meat in their Samosas than Vegetables).The point is that there is no use crying about insurgency in these regions, when the administration and people at large never made them feel like a part of the nation.Yes.These factions like ULFA, ATTF, NDFB, etc are just feeding on the dream of a independent homeland of the residents. Integrate them with the homeland and then let BSF do their job. I am sure this would be a much happier and productive solution.

ps: The Seven Sister States are Assam,Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura.