Monday, January 29, 2007

A Sunday Spent

I visited this nice restaurant usually called "Sue's Indian Kitchen". Sue used to be the handle for "Subhadra" who was the woman who painted all the paintings hung in the restuarant. I learnt she died recently and her brother took over who renamed the resutaurant "Godavari". Sad, this restuarant has been around in Mountain View for over 30 years and seems like a loss.

I strolled across Castro Street and found this beautiful place called "Book Buyers". Ordinarily book shops carry stuff that their suppliers want to shove down the throats of the buying public. Here's a pleasant change where both new and used books (you can sell your books to them) are kept in the same racks. The advantage of this approach is that most used books are ones bought by somebody and hence a greater chance you might be interested. (Remember Bayes theorem, where the probability you might like some thing in the same zipcode with same demographics as you have bought is far higher than the random splattering of new books marketed at the usual store)

A nice part of the character of this store was that there was this poem written by Jorge Luis Borges hung on the wall called "The Maker". (Originally called DreamTiger in South America)

We are the river you spoke of,Heraclitus
We are time.Its tangible course
Carries lions and mountains along
The tears of love, the ashes of pleasure
Insidious interminable hope,
Immense names of empires tirned to dust
Hexameters of the Greeks and Romans,
A gloomy ocean under the power of dawn
Sleep, that foretaste of death
Weapons and the warrior,monuments,
The two faces of Janus ignorant of each other,
The ivory labryinths woven
By chess pieces moving over the board,
The red hand of Macbeth which has the power,
To turn the seas to blood,the secret
Working of clocks in the shadows,
A boundless mirror which regards itseld
In another mirror and non one there to see them,
Steel engravings, Gothic lettering,
A bar of sulfur left in a cabinet,
The heavy tollings of insomnia,
Sunrises and sunsets and twilights,
I am nothing but those images
Shuffled by chance and named by tedium,
From them, even though I am blind and broken,
I must craft the incorrputible lines
And (this is my duty) save myself
Nice na? Later I picked up Finding Neverland as a gift to my niece here and watched the whole movie with her and later dined. I was trying to convey her the message of Einstein "Imagination is important than Knowledge".

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Virtual McCoy

I heard a lot of buzz regarding this new game called Second Life and decided to give it a try. I liked it and its quite addictive in terms of creating a fanstastic virtual life. I decided to also get a Wii console as these help me to get a life during my occasionally bored weekends.

No matter second or third or n+1 th life I think the following limerick captures it all:

e raised to the pi times i
And plus leaves you nought but a sigh
This fact amazed Euler
That genius toiler
And still gives us a pause,
bye the bye

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I just found this site and I loved it instantly. BTW this is the first picture ever posted in my nice text oriented blog. Google is moving to video streaming and I step up to include pictures on my blog :)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Importance of Support

It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something
Thats how the movie Crash opens and I think it makes sense. This week had its own share of follies that life offers but suddenly I thought how important was support structure for people in general. Yeah! Software support might be one of them but thats not what I was thinking of..

The best way to give up smoking and stay there is by forming a support initiative like that of quitnet. Because people tend to lapse back this group helps identify causes and offer support in terms of actionable advice to relax and stay nicotine-free. Similarly way back in 1999, one of my friends' bro was missing and his mom calls up around 10 pm saying this guys is MIA. I call upon another friend who has a vehicle and we go around places to find out this guy who isnt found anyways and we couldnt get back to his mom saying we failed. We had no clue where he is finding support better than his family, might have been his friends but we dont know them.

Later, when someone else breaksdown, I get a call and I am not sure what to do because I dont have a context and all I hear is sobs. Figuring that the persons' so-called friends (you never know who are the real ones and who are simply acquaintances) would know better I beg them to talk to this person. Not one call was made and this person now is a borderline cynic (the last I checked he wasnt a full time cynic)

A little later when I was in Washington DC a person begged me for money and a lighter when I was waiting for someone to show up. I give him what I have and my light at which point he says "You restored my faith in humanity". Agreed there is a chemical imbalance in that persons' head, but the problem was he was so strung out on the edge and so disillusioned that no one is going to help him, he consider a few pennies and a light to be a restoration of faith.

Just a couple of days back, another friends' spouse calls upon and says she doesnt wanna do what my friend was kind of imposing on her. Now, this guy was in another country and the woman gets very stressed out with those thoughts that she runs into an accident. I called him up yesterday and told him the state of things. He said he wouldnt mind if she let him know about that in the first place.

Sometimes a simple acknowledgement does the trick. A good friend doesnt need another person to complain about the health. For example a while back someone just wrote the following lines which made me feel better.The fact that someone halfway is picking up your mood is something commendable..

How are you bearing up? and you really should stop thinking of it as a cross...

Bottomline: I think there are certain points where an inevitable breakdown/depression sets in where it is extremely critical that someone can support those folks helps a person (indirectly the community) to stay healthy and not turn to be extremely cynical of things. Somehow the timing is all that matters because a day later, people wouldnt need any support as their mind is kind of made up. Of course there is a fine line, sometimes such situations help people become stronger and what not but most folks could use some external help.Just an inane observation.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Thats an Armenian word for "New Year" . Its also the name of a deli just outside my office and they just announced today that they are closing :( So sad. Its run by a wife and husband and I regularly have my lunch here where I get rosemary panini sandwitch. Alla (the wife) is a courteous host and happens to be a linguist and I had some lovely discussions with her. As a token of gratitude, we had our armenian coffee (which is much like the turkish one except a wee bit lighter and made in the samovar style). In the end, we took a tasseographic way of trying to explain her future by pouring my coffee grounds in my saucer and associating it to her.Told that she would do really well.Really, I wish she makes great strides in her life. While we miss her, I would also like to see that she does very well in her career. Just like we dont work for the same employer all our lives, I think restaurant owners like Njdeh and Alla, also strive for something better in their life and I think this couple is trying to move to the next level. All the Best!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Am I Glad to be back or What?

"Is where you are staying or what you are doing in essence what you long to do?"
Someone asked me that question in an electronic correspondence a few months back. Today, I can authoritatively say "Yes!". Now, that I am back from vacation I have so many folks glad to see me. A few gave me bearhugs, a few faces lit up and one person asked to marry me. All in all, I cannot ask for a better workplace. Its not all about money (albeit that helps) but about how much do you look forward to go to work when you wake up. Have an excellent company where it is more like a community now than ever. Not many can boast of a manager who is willing to fly halfway across the world for a trivial matter of the heart or ask you to take off a couple of days just so that you can be refreshed. Not many a place would welcome you with its heart and give you a heroes welcome (even though one is not) the way these guys did. Now, after 7 years of being transit, I think I found my home to be here in California.

You know that I care
what happens to you
And I know that you care
for me too
So I don't feel alone,
or the weight of the stone
Now that I've found somewhere safe
to bury my bone
And any fool knows
a dog needs a home
a shelter from pigs on the wing

ps: mind you the care has to be said in an accept much similar to "yaarport" in referring to "airport". So care must be read something like "cyaar"

Monday, January 15, 2007

Guru: A Review

I just saw the movie Guru last Friday when it released here in the bay area. The posters to begin with were intriguing, particularly the one with Abishek Bacchan's back facing thousands of folks in the rain with Umbrellas. We were a wee bit late finishing our falafels before getting to our movie, so we entered by the time when Mallika Sherawat was setting the screen on fire. I cursed myself for missing out the casting as Mani's movies always had a special font and the casting was always stood out. Luckily after the song, I did manage to see it. This time it was like a paper being flipped a la book. I loved it. After Roja, I think this one had the best casting.

Now, coming to the plot, it is purely Dhirubhai's story. Mani and team wont accept it because that makes them liable for other creative liberties and no one wants to get sued over a movie plus the fact that it gives them liberties to twist the plot to their fancy. Initially Turkey was shown as the place the protaganist worked whereas Dhirubhai started off at Aden in Yemen.(although in a particular shot yemen does slip out of their tongue) Nevertheless the backdrop of Hagia Sophia with Abhishek in the foreground was awesome.

Rajiv Menon, as usual, was brilliant in capturing the essence of a period flick. Gulzar, I think, could have dont better than what he did in this project but then who am I to complain about the master. (uske liye bhi aukaad rehna chahiya, na?) . Aish opens with a village belle song where she seems to be ill suited. The dialogues were crisp in the usual Ratnam style and didnt disappoint me.

The best part for me was to map the movie events to real world events. First off, the movie does justice to show how Dhirajlal H Ambani became Dhirubhai Ambani. The character Azraan Contractor seems to be a caricature of Nusli Wadia (of Bombay Dyeing fame). This is more than confirmed by the statement where he says he achieved something in around 10 years what took more than 100 years for "them". (Bombay Dyeing took more than 100 years for Rs. 1 billion sales turnover which Ambani did in 12 years).

Mithun was stellar in playing the role of Ramnath Goenka. Madhavan plays Swaminathan Gurumurthy pretty well. Vidya Balan was decent in playing Krishna Khaitan but her role seems to have been most modified from the real events potraying a different strand of Mani Ratnam's vision. I think the nondescript finance minister was Pranab Mukherjee.

The movie emphasized mostly on reliance's strong support for equity ownership and supporting retail investors. In fact, single handedly Reliance brough a revolution in making the populace aware of the benefits of participation. However, the movie was silent about the genius of Ambani with financial instruments (He converted debentures into shares this raising a new round of money to finance the petrochemical project apart from doing other shady stuff). Nor did the movie include the expertise of project management by reliance (they do mention Du Pont but not the work done) who always were on schedule and always operated the plants at 100% utilization. All in all, the movie does do justice to show how licence raj's edge was played very well by Reliance and later evolved nicely by backward integration of their products.

The paralytic stroke episode was very well shot at the kabutarkhana house. Also the allegations were brought up taking their own time whereas no time was given to a proper explanation. One of the allegations was that Reliance smuggled extra machiney so that they can produce more than their licensed quota. Now, I am not a manufacturing expert, but no one likes to keep inventory. The fact that they are producing so much implies a demand for the product out there. So, yes, like a smuggler, reliance was meeting an artificially suppressed demand. Nothing wrong with that. US had prohibition and later they realized bootlegging was common because those smugglers were meeting a pent-up demand. This pointed that the legislation preventing such a supply was the culprit not the bootlegger. I think a similar point could have been said about Reliance in the defence, but I didnt see this (or any other allegations brought forth) addressed satisfactorily by Abhishek's character.

I personally have a member of my family who raised money for his sisters' wedding through reliance equity, so the last shot of the cab driver who drives between Wadala-Churchgate might have been true. I felt the role of Roshan Seth was fairly diluted in the end leading to a quick ending than an elaborate one.

All in all, must watch movie and it is far better than the other ones currently running out there.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


You have no idea of where I came from
You told me that you have no idea where I'm going
I shall carry the cross while you cannot carry me
So much depended on that one pivotal moment
You shall never know the altars that were subterranean
My prayers never answered and my wishes washed away
Yes, My balaika shall rest the harping of its strings
I shall fold myself and these thoughts
I admit the waters around me grown warm and aged
I am here cold and old
Like a boiled egg which is an alliance
I broke the pact to get into it
A new me, A new energy

Monday, January 08, 2007

Serenity Now!

as opposed to Apocalypse Now!

The Tropic of Cancer

Preface is usually that part of book which is actually never read but the one for this 1934 novel is a wee bit different in that it is intense and its rehtoric very well laid out.

Here is a book which, if such a thing were possible, might restore our appetitefor the fundamental realities. The predominant note will seem one of bitterness and bitterness there is, to the full. But there is also a wild extravagance. a mad gaiety, a verve, a gusto, at times almost a delirium. A continual oscillation between two extremes, with bare stretches that taste like brass and leave the full flavor of emptiness.It is beyond optimism or pessimism. The author has given us the last frisson. Pain has no more secret recesses.

In a world paralyzed with introspection and constipated by delicate mental meals,this brutal exposure of substantial body comes as a vitalizing current of blood. The violence and obscenity are left unadulterated, as manifestation of the mystery and pain which ever accompanies the act of creation.

The restorative value of experience, prime source of wisdom and creation is reasserted. There remains waste aeas of unfinished thought and action, a bundle of shreds and fibers with which the overactive may strangle themselves.Referring to his Wilhelm Meister Goethe once said: "People seek a central point: that is hard and not even right. I should think a rich, manifold life, brought close to our eyes would be enough without any express tendency; which, after all, is only for the intellect."

The book is sustained on its own axis by the pure flux and rotation of events.Just as there is no central point, so also there is no question of will, but only an obedience to flow.

The gross caricatures are perhaps more vital, "more true to life", than the full potraits of the conventional novel for the reason that the individual today has no centrality and produces not the slightest illusion of wholeness. The characters are integrated to the false,cultural void in which we are drowning; thus is produced the illusion of chaos, to face which requires the ultimate courage.

The humiliations and defeats,given with a primitive honesty,end not in frustration, despair, or futility, but in hunger, an ecstatic, devouring hunger - for more life.The poetic is discovered by stripping away the vestiture of art; by descending to what might be styled "a preartistic level", the durable skeleton of form which is hidden in the phenomena of disintegration appears to be transfigured again in the ever-changing flesh of emotion. The scars are burned away- the scars left by obstetricians of culture.Here is an artist that restablishes the potency of illusion by gaping at open wounds, by courting the stern,pyschological reality which man seeks to avoid through recourse to the oblique symbolism of art.Here the symbols are laid bare, presented almost naively and unblushingly by this overcivilized individual as well as by the well rooted savage.

It is no false primitivism which gives rise to this savage lyricism.. It is not a retrogressive tendency, but a swing forward into unbeaten areas. To regard a naked book such as this with the same critical eye that is turned upon such diverse types as Lawrence, Breton, Joyce and Celine is a mistake. Rather let us try to look at it with the eyes of a patagonian for whom all that is sacred and taboo in our world is meaningless.For the adventure which has brought the authour to the spiritual ends of the earth is the history of evry artist who, in order to express himself, must traverse the intangible gridirons of his imaginary world. The air pockets, the alkali wastes, the crumbling monuments, the putrescent cadavers, the crazy jig and maggot dance, all this forms a grand fresco of our epoch. done with shattering phrases and loud,strident, hammer strokes.

If there is here revealed a capacity to shock, to startle the lifeless ones from their profound slumber, let us congratulate ourselves; for the tragedy of our world is nothing any longer is is capable of rousing it from its lethargy. No more violent dreams, no refreshment, no awakening. In the anaesthesia produced by self-knowledge, life is passing, art is passing, slipping from us: we are drifting with time and our fight is with shadows. We need a blood transfusion.

And it is bloog and flesh which are here given us. Drink, food,laughter,desire,passion,curiosity, the simple realities which nourish the roots of our highest and vaguest creations.The super structure is lopped away. This book brings with it a wind that blows down the dead and hollow trees whose roots are withered and lost in the barren soil of our times.The book goes for the roots and digs under, digs for subterranean springs.
-Anais Nin, 1934

Some say Miller himself penned the above just crediting it to Anais Nin. Either way its pretty powerful. But if you like the man Orwell like I do then you sure would take the following to heart and go buy the book

Miller's books are published by the Obelisk Press in Paris. What will happen to the Obelisk Press, now that war has broken out and Jack Kathane, the publisher, is dead, I do not know, but at any rate the books are still procurable. I earnestly counsel anyone who has not done so to read at least Tropic of Cancer. With a little ingenuity, or by paying a little over the published price, you can get hold of it, and even if parts of it disgust you, it will stick in your memory. It is also an 'important' book, in a sense different from the sense in which that word is generally used. As a rule novels are spoken of as 'important' when they are either a 'terrible indictment' of something or other or when they introduce some technical innovation. Neither of these applies to Tropic of Cancer. Its importance is merely symptomatic. Here in my opinion is the only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past. Even if that is objected to as an overstatement, it will probably be admitted that Miller is a writer out of the ordinary, worth more than a single glance; and after all, he is a completely negative, unconstructive, amoral writer, a mere Jonah, a passive acceptor of evil, a sort of Whitman among the corpses. Symptomatically, that is more significant than the mere fact that five thousand novels are published in England every year and four thousand nine hundred of them are tripe. It is a demonstration of the impossibility of any major literature until the world has shaken itself into its new shape.

-George Orwell

Monday, January 01, 2007

Lessons Learnt

A day into the new year and it has already shown me how "new" can be "new" :). In a brief power point style the lessons learnt are:

(a) Finally understand what Strings meant by "Dil Bhuj Gaya/Ghar Jal Gaya/Na Jaane Kyun"

(b) Dont Tempt Fate unless you are absolutely rocking sure of something is going to work or else Murphy is going to work the other way.

(c) Need to memorize the meaning of the following verse so much so that if someone wakes you up in the middle of the night I should be able to spew them with the same fervor

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"