The New Year

Another year is past. I've learnt a lot, hurt a lot, laughed a lot but most important, loved a lot. It has been a year spent away from home, away from those I care about. But it has been a year spent maturing, much like fine wine, I hope. :D

I went to a new year's eve party at the DSOI ( Defence Service Officers Institute ) at Delhi with my cousin and friend. It was a tragedy. It was really cold but that was to be expected. It was also suddenly and incredibly, foggy. But that was rather beautiful. No, it wasn't nature that spoiled the party for me but the people there.

There were just too many of them, for one. The place was overcrowded. There were 3 dance floors with a DJ each! And that was just to accommodate the people that dance! Other's like me were just sitting around, chatting and catching up with acquaintances. I was there for the eating. Which was a major let down. There were queues everywhere. First, a queue to get the food coupons. Then a queue to get the food ( which wasn't great either, the stuff I had was just about passable ). Then there was the queue for the drinks. Actually, calling it a queue gives quite the wrong picture of an orderly lining up of decent people. If you saw these guys, you'd think they were giving the stuff for free! People were pushing and yelling to be served first. The counters actually ran out of glasses later in the evening! All we wanted were a couple of juices and they were out of those. Of course, we had to stand in the line for 10 odd minutes to find that out. Why they couldn't have separate counters for the soft and hard drinks is beyond me.

There weren't enough chairs either. We were lucky enough to turn up early and get a good table, near an angeethi. People kept coming to us throughout the evening to ask if they could take the chairs we were keeping. One lady even remarked, on being told that they were occupied, that '...but there's no one sitting there now. You can't reserve them like that...'. Of course we can! We came early and we're keeping seats for the rest of our group! Where are they expected to sit once they turn up? You should've sent someone else early to save you some places!

As midnight approached, more and more folks were inebriated and the empty bottles and glasses that could be found bore the brunt of their joy at welcoming another year. And of course, there were the usual fracas over stupid things.

I hate these parties. And I hadn't ever been for one at this scale so the actual intensity of my hate didn't become apparent till now. The guys who attend are usually idiots. They come to get drunk and hit on girls. They're disgusting. I really can't comment on the girls. Going to one of these quite defeats the purpose of celebration. There is nothing to celebrate. Having to watch all those cretins around you makes you think twice about the condition of the populace in general. And makes me feel more and more depressed about the state of affairs of Life. The Universe. And Everything. All the more reason to be thankful for the day off on the 1st of January.

The only good thing, according to me, to come of these events is that you often bump into old friends that you've lost touch with. This of course, is from an Army function point of view, because small world as it is, it’s even smaller in the Army circle.

So there you have it. My new year did not roll in in a very fun manner. I was fed up of the party. And the parties involved. I just wanted to go home, snuggle into my blanket with a warm mug of soup and watch something fun on laptop.

But I guess, the New Year is only what we make of it. And I hope you and I have an even better year this time.


I just went to Bangkok a couple of weeks ago. As always, the trip abroad put into sharp relief the shortcomings that Indians, as a people, have.

Indians are anxious, boorish, cheats, crude, cunning, dirty, disgusting, greedy, ignorant, ill-mannered, impolite, narrow-minded, noisy, nosy, pretentious, selfish, smelly, uncouth, under-confident, unhealthy, unhygienic and unkempt.

I planned to start this paragraph with a '...But they're also...' and list out all the good qualities but, umm...well...nothing jumps to mind, quite like way that an elephant doesn't jump. Instead, let me say this. At the end of three days away from home, I missed India. Not everything about it. I loved the (relative) order and cleanliness of Bangkok. But I felt a slight homesickness after a while. I guess, come what may, I am an Indian at heart. No matter how much I sniff at its failings and no matter how much I am disgusted by the bureaucracy and politics and government officials, it is my home. It is where I grew up. It is where my family and friends are.

I suppose, in the end, I'm just as bad as they are.

Do The Explore

That is actually the slogan for Samsung's Pleomax line of products! When my dad first got me a pack of CD-R's of that brand, I thought he'd been duped!

This post isn't about the funny, stupid or just plain ridiculous motto's and slogan's. It's about how I figure I like to explore; the thrill of finding new places. Well, not actually by going there, but the thought of them in the comfort of my room is very exciting.

In fact, I think that is one reason why I love the dark. Everything seems new and different. I am currently reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini and I just utterly taken by the idea of wandering on plains that stretch as far as the eye can see, with no one around. Hills that rise in the distance, at the horizon. Lone journeys where no one else is there. I guess there is an element of privacy involved. You could do whatever you wanted to, and no one would ever know. Of course, in my visions, its not all featureless plains. It's more of a journey towards them, flanked by rolling hills on the left and forests of bramble on the right.

But it's not just that. I like the ( science-ficition-ish ) idea of mammoths of engineering like a colossal spaceship or enormous tunnels underlying cities. The prospects of discovery of nooks and crannies that they present are innumerable.

Have you watched Pixar's Cars yet? It's a very good movie, worth a watch. I especially loved the vistas of the Grand Canyon like ravines and mesas. The views from atop a hill, looking down upon the valley, immense distances on all sides. Very appealing.

I've always found The Age of Empires, the Age of Mythology, and countless other clones, very fascinating. The idea of controlling all those little people, watching over all that land at one time, being able to see in all directions at once makes it remarkable for me. I don't like the game as such, I'm terrible at strategy. But I love watching all those little creatures go about their work, wandering all over the land.

Of course, like I mentioned, I'd probably not enjoy it so much if I was out there on my own. But as an observer ( from a slight height, I might add ) I just love it. One more reason why I thought The Lord of the Rings trilogy was so cool, what with all those shots of them riding those panoramic plains. Absolutely awesome!


I'm addicted to the Internet. I just can't do without it anymore. I need to check my mail and Orkut scraps daily. There are contests that need entering. And of course utilities, songs and videos to download. And when all that is done, there is so much to explore and discover.

I use the net for everything nowadays. And I *can* use it for pretty much everything. I had to find out the numbers of KFC and McDonalds near where I live. So I Google'd the keywords, found the sites, went to the appropriate city page, and voila! There I had it, all the contact numbers. I downloaded the menu for Pizza Corner from their site. I didn't need to ask anyone for any of those things. And that's the way I like it. :D

Whenever I need to find out about a movie or some application or form to fill or symptoms of a disease or details of anything, the first thing I do it get online. More often than not, I find what I'm looking for. Only as a last resort do I go and ask someone for help.

Of course, it doesn’t help my social skills any. But I'd rather deal with search engine results rather than actual people any day. However, not all sources on the Internet are reliable. It's always better to check out the credentials of the contributor.

Oh, and if I wasn't addicted, you wouldn't be reading this now :D


"Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to
- Arthur Schopenhauer ( 1788 - 1860 )
I wish. But it seems human nature is less prone to melting than wax. In fact, rather than making people help you, it seems to be taken as an indication of weakness. It is really difficult to get anything done if you insist on being polite. People take you for a push-over. Someone who can be easily swindled.

I'm not street-smart. Far from it. I always wait patiently at the grocer’s or at banks or wherever else a queue forms with me as a member. I never push my way to the front. I never protest when people push and shove. Though I think it may be attributed more to my lack of aggression ( and maybe a spine :( ). I always feel that isn't worth losing your dignity for. I'd prefer waiting and not getting rather than jumping into the fray and fighting to be amongst the first few to collect. And of course, that often leaves me without. It really irritates me, but I get over it. Though I do believe it would be different ( I hope ) if I was ever unlucky enough to be waiting in line for some sort of handouts for me and my family.

Bombay was ranked as the least polite and helpful city in the world in this year's survey by Reader's Digest. Delhi was much higher up in the list. I haven't lived in Bombay. But if the survey is true, I guess it would be since the extremely large portion of humanity that inhabits the city is so caught up in the struggle of day to day life and under pressure to make ends meet that it can't give much thought to anyone else's troubles.

I'm staying in Delhi now. People here are supposed to be really helpful. I don't know about that. It doesn't seem that much different from home ( read Pune ) to me. People are cordial enough. Though I suspect the belief stems from the populace's rather intrusive interest in everything. They have this need to know exactly what is going on. People will drop what they're doing, stop on their way to work, if they spot something interesting going on. They are ready participants in whatever debate or fracas happens to be in progress. Other folks may like the attention given to their cause but I happen to be very uncomfortable with it. I like my privacy. A lot. I don't want everyone to know about what is going with my life. What you call helpful I call invasion of privacy.

Like with everything else, I guess, moderation is the key. You should be polite, but back it up with some firmness. If you're not getting your rights, do away with the graciousness and niceties and get down to brass tacks.


In India, broadband is defined as anything over 256kbps. ( By the way, you do realise that that is kilobits per second? Not kilobytes per second which is written as kBps. So 256kbps would be 32kBps. Just something you should consider. ) But even if you're willing to shell out hard cash, there really aren't that many options. Though it has been getting cheaper.

I'd got my first Internet connection in August of 2004. It was a 32kbps dial-up. In 4 months we switched over to a Sify broadband connection of 256kbps. I now have an Airtel broadband connection of 512kbps ( at night ) and it costs me much lesser than what I was paying earlier. And it is a pretty good connection. I've had no problems so far and the speeds are really good.

I'm now drooling at the news that the government plans to increase the speeds of the plans next year. MTNL and BSNL will be announcing the details, independently, in a few weeks. Of course, the private players too should follow suit soon. Though I'm sure it'll be a long way off from the 1 Mbps connections with dedicated 512kbps upload links in the US that I keep reading about, enviously, I might add, on forums on the net. But still, you can never have enough bandwidth. Even it increases just a bit, it's a step in the right direction right?

More bandwidth to the people!

Police II

On Wednesday morning, in Howrah, a newborn died of hunger and cold in a police station as the cops ignored the baby and continued the interrogation of the mother, who had been picked up the previous evening for bearing a child out of wedlock.

The 21 year old mother, Soma Giri, is mentally challenged. Her mother who accompanied the four year old girl and Soma to the police station said, 'The baby needed to be nursed. As the temperature dipped, she shivered violently. There were no warm clothes. We promised to return in the morning but the police just wouldn't listen. Sometime close to dawn, the baby slipped into a deep sleep. It was only later that we realised it was death.'

Reading these lines over and over makes my skin crawl. There's a lump in my throat as I imagine the poor baby and her mother. The inhumanity of the situation! What kind of heinous, disgusting excuses for men would let something like this happen? The sheer helplessness of someone in a situation like this is just so pitiful. I can just see myself in her shoes. There is just nothing you can do against authority like that. Nothing as a lone individual. Society as a whole must do something about this. But it's so easy to pass on the responsibility to other people. I wonder what I would do; what I should do. I don't think I have the guts to face up to someone like that. Though, maybe, the utter desperation of the situation may push me enough to take some action.

I wouldn’t condemn public lynching of these men ( if you can call the monsters that). I know it's a blanket punishment. I know it's a step back to the dark ages. I know that taking the law into our own hands doesn't help anything. I know that these people probably have families that need them and love them. But as I read the paragraphs again, all I comprehend is that thanks to them, an innocent child died. Her mother is in anguish. Yes, I'd probably condone the lynching.

( Based on the article "Newborn dies as cops grill mother" by Saibal Gupta from the Times of India, New Delhi edition, dated 1st December 2006 )


A few days ago, I heard 'The Ecstasy Of Gold', composed by Ennio Morricone, from the motion picture 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly' for the first time. Except I didn't know it was from the movie. I'd just enqueued all the songs on my computer into WinAmp and left it on random play. When I heard this song play, I checked the file info. I'd never heard it before, but it was just so familiar. Bits of it seemed to be going a way that I thought I knew, but then they'd suddenly veer off in another direction. A couple of familiar chords, followed by one which would suddenly jar with the one that my brain expected to follow. All the file revealed was that it was track one from Metallica's S&M Disc-I. So I Google'd it and came up the details above. And in the meantime, I'd put on the theme from 'The good, the bad and the ugly' just because my subconscious told me to! And they turned out to be related!

Well, the point of this post isn't my serendipitous discovery of this song. Today, I was out on the terrace, contemplating yet another series of events that let to some, as of now, intractable problems. And my mind was so preoccupied with them that I couldn't really do anything. Then, suddenly, I hear now familiar strains playing out loud from a building near by. And it was 'The Ecstasy of Gold', the original version. And it was really uplifting. My mind cleared immediately and I felt as if there was something inexplicable that had led to my not-so-immediate neighbour to play that particular theme. At first I thought it was because he/ she had heard me play that song. Except I don't play music that loud. Also, they couldn't have just guessed which track it was.

So that brings me to the crux of the post. Coincidence? Some weird twist of fate? Telepathy? God? I don't know. But I have noticed that there are so many incidents where this happens. You're thinking of someone or something and they call or you get it. Now, I'm not an atheist. But I'm not a real believer of 'God'. I'm more of an agnostic. I pray but it's very private and, sadly, mostly in time of need. But things like this make me question the way we believe the universe runs.

I guess there are somethings that we'll never know the answer to. Like Douglas Adams said in his book Life, the Universe and Everything, "...the Question and the Answer are mutually exclusive. Knowledge of one logically precludes knowledge of the other. It is impossible that both can ever be known about the same universe..."

Pets; Fear Them!

An article in the Times of India ( New Delhi edition) today, reports that a 3 year old boy was eaten alive by a pig! That is just so freaky! The boy wandered into the playground when a herd of pigs took him away. When his mother went looking for him later, she saw a pig biting his torso! She tried to scare the pig by throwing stones at it but it turned on her. She then raised an alarm the locals gathered and chased away the animal but by then it had already eaten the upper part of the child's body!

This is so very terrifying! I always pictured pigs as cute little pink things from fairy tales. Not as flesh eating killers! Though a lot of ideas we have about the animal kingdom are totally incorrect and are put in our brains by the stories we read as kids. There are countless incidents where dogs have turned on their owners, mauled them, and more often than not, killed them. This seems to be especially common in mastiffs. And here we were all conditioned to be under the impression that dogs are a man's best friend and they protect our homes. I've seen a couple of videos where people who had pet snakes were attacked by them. One guy got bitten on the nose. Another was asphyxiated by his boa constrictor.

We should never forget the fact that all of these pets that we have are essentially wild animals. Their primary instinct is that of a killer, to hunt. And as such, they can never be totally domesticated. And ergo, never be completely safe.

I Agree!

No one is perfect; till you fall in love with them.



Originally, this was supposed to be my post. The shortest one ever. Just to impress upon you the absolute want of free time during the course of my day. Of course, the now sporadic frequency of my posts should have been a fair indicator, but no matter.

There is just so much to be done in period of 24 hours. And all of it needs regular attention and none of it can be skipped without repercussion. I need to read the newspaper. One must be aware of events shaping the world today. It's a good way to start of the day. But unfortunately I only get enough time to read the funnies and skim over the headlines. I always tell myself I'll catch up during a break at work. I never do take a break, but that’s another matter.

At work one must, of course, work. You need to be noticed for being sincere and hard working and producing quality output. You could, as I notice many of my colleagues do, spend all day chatting and surfing and playing games on the LAN. But I wonder about the future benefits of that. Which is to say I'm not really sure if its a bad way to be. But my principles and obsession over details won't let me hand in shoddy work.

Exercise is a must. You need to stay fit. It'll help you lead a long, productive and satisfying life. I hope! Add to this the pressure of being good looking and in shape nowadays and you absolutely must put aside some time for it. However, it takes up so much time if it is to be done properly!

All work and no play. That won't do. So leisure time must be spent doing something you enjoy. Play music. Read a book. Play a game. Again, that takes so much time too. I play the guitar. And I've been planning to really practice and get good at it for so long now. Except there is always something else that takes priority over this. One must be well read to get ahead. But the shortage of time ( and good books! ) makes sure that that doesn't happen.

I plan to take the GRE. When, I really don't know. But I need to start studying for it. Except I really don't get the time. I need to work on stuff for work too. I need to read up on so much. And since studying for the GRE will pay off a little later in the future, it invariably gets put off.

Then there are the mundane household activities. Clothes need to be washed and ironed. The room must be dusted and swept. Stocks of toiletries and food must be maintained. It all requires so much planning.

And of course one must build connections and network with people. That requires going out and spending time with them ( of course, it involves spending money too! ) And that is hard to when you have so many pressing matters at hand. Finally, you also have to spend time with you loved ones. Talking to them and keeping up with their lives.

It's all just too much to pack into a mere 24 hours. But then, work always expands to fill in the time given for its completion.

The Break-Up

Britney Spears, Phil Collins and Jessica Simpson all have something in common. Other than the fact that they're in the music industry. Britney Spears and Phil Collins broke up with their ex's by SMS and fax, respectively. And Jessica Simpson was dumped through a text message. And more and more people seem to be heading the same way. Youngsters are following this trend of 'delayed mortification' as opposed to 'instant gratification'. They want to avoid, or at least delay, the unpleasant confrontations. And now, there are even experts who help you through the whole process or even do it for you! There is a 'Separation Agency' in Germany whose specialist does the job in 15 minutes on an average.

It is just so ridiculous. If you were in a relationship with someone, the least you owe them is an honest and open discussion and a face-to-face explanation. How can you do it over the phone or by SMS? It just shows how much respect you have for them. Actually, it shows people how much respect they should have for you. It reflects your character. If you don't have the courage to face up to someone who you claimed to have loved, then you don't deserve to be with anyone.

In my opinion, if I was at the receiving end of something like this, I'd be thinking, "Good riddance! If this is the kind of person she really is, then I'm better off without her!”

( Based on the article “Splitting? Get the ex-perts” by Jaya Drona from the Delhi Times, New Delhi edition, dated 20th November 2006 )

A Foreign Land

Everybody everywhere seems to be tripping over each other in their rush to be politically correct. People are protesting about bans on expression of religion like burqas and crosses. A village in England actually cancelled Christmas because it was perceived to be offensive to minority religions!

Whose country is it anyway? These people are guests in your land, treat them as such. Not as the rulers. Respect them, give them rights, and by all means, let them be free to practice their beliefs and religion. As long as it doesn't break the laws of the land. Accommodate to a degree. But don't bend over backwards trying to make them happy. They have come to you; you didn't go inviting them to come over.

When you have guests over for a stay, you welcome them, try to make them as comfortable as possible, make room for their ways, without disrupting your schedule. You adjust for the little inconveniences, the minor changes in routine. But you don't turn your household upside-down to keep them happy. They're the guests, it's your house. Your needs take priority over theirs.

When you go live in another country, their laws and customs take precedence over yours. You may be used things being done differently but that was when you were somewhere else. If you've come here, you'd better get used to the way things are done here otherwise head back home.

If everything were changed to be the way you were used to it back home, what would be the difference between there and here?

The Human Touch

I was spending yet another eternity at a traffic light that wasn't working, because there was no power, waiting for the traffic policeman to realize that our lane was now full of vehicles stretching for a couple of miles when I began day dreaming about robots that would have handled the same job so much more efficiently and rationally.

They could keep track of how many vehicles there were, the speed with which traffic was moving, how congested the crossing further down were, how long each side had been waiting and weigh all these factors to decide who needed to be let through next. It would lead to shorter waits and smoother traffic. And this could be extended to so many more jobs! The whole bureaucracy could be automated and thus streamlined and made free from corruption and nepotism.

But then I realized that this was just the bright side. In doing so, we'd be losing the human element. These jobs would all be in proximity to people. And I really don't think we'd ever be making robots with circuits to understand the subtleties of human behaviour because to give them the understanding would be to give them those characteristics and hence make them human. And that is not what we want to do. We may pretend that we want to build machines that mimic humans as closely as possible but I think we all realize, subconsciously, that to do that, beyond a limit, would be to make them more alien and a source of fear. They have to be recognizable as machines made to simulate life. They have to seem servile and controllable. You wouldn't want to own a robot that could do everything better than you, looked better than you, would never age and may even decide that it was, in fact, better than you and so didn't need to serve you anymore!

Well, back to the point. By using automation we bring efficiency, get rid of corruption, favoritism, nepotism and all the negative qualities that we hate. But we must realize that we also lose out on the human touch; we lose out on sympathy, pity, compassion, understanding and all those little things that make us human and make life easier. Robots aren't going to understand the need to get to a dying parent's bedside. They won't understand the value of getting to the hospital to be present at your child’s birth.

As much as we hate them, it's the people who will give in when you need it the most.

All That I Am

Everything that makes me different, in a good way, isn't something of my own making. All those qualities are because of people who cared or were just around long enough to affect me.

I have a decent command of the English language. Because my parents thought it important for me to read and speak it. I know bits of trivia. Again because my parents forced me to read. I can play a little guitar ( well, actually, it's a normal sized one :D ). Courtesy my parents sending me for lessons. Tennis. Swimming. Ditto. ( They tried horse-riding too but a couple of falls put an end to that. Apparently I don't have strong enough thighs! :D )

I can fiddle around with a computer a bit because my parents thought it necessary to sacrifice and buy us a computer early on. I can drive because my father took the time to teach me and mother suppressed her fears of me mowing down pedestrians, in a fair imitation of Carmageddon, enough to let me practice a bit. They would have liked to have me learn to dance and cook and sew too but by then I'd learnt the invaluable art of slipping into teenage sullenness.

Since this post isn't meant as a forum for me to extol my virtues ( to a certain extent it isn't :D ) or for me to try and gain sympathy ( again, only to a certain extent :D ), I'll get on with it. The point is, there is nothing that I've done on my own. Nothing that I have to show for my 22 years of existence that isn't of someone else’s making. If someone says I am intelligent, even that is to be credited to the genes my parents gave me. If I've scored half decent marks, it's because my mother insisted right from the start on studying first.

And what am I doing with all these chances that I've been given? All the opportunities I've had to be ahead of the rat race? Frittering them away, that's what. I've no ambition. No drive. Nothing is important enough for me to get up and do something about it. I'm content to sit and whine. To write a post for a blog rather than use that time to study.

Where am I heading? I really, really don't know. And I'm not sure I want to find out either.


"...Good friends we have had, oh good friends we've lost along the way..." sang Bob Marley. Those words always bring a lump to my throat. Faces of people I've known swim out from the darkness of the past. Familiar faces blurred by the haze of time. Recognizable features to which I can't put a name. Places that were once frequented everyday, now buried somewhere by the sands of my memories.

Time goes by so fast. Some days are so clear; as if they were yesterday. I can recall every detail. Every single moment as it passed. The sight of all my friends. The smiles. The laughter. All the secrets that we shared. The understanding. Knowing what was going on with each other. What was important. Hopes. Dreams. Aspirations. Hours spent together doing nothing. Just hanging out. Discussing the latest movie or serial. Impromptu plans for lunch. Late nights just driving. Hanging out at someone’s place with nothing to do. Asking for favours, knowing it won't be a big deal, and that it doesn't have to be a give and take thing. Nothing to be given in return. Calls that went on for hours even if it meant that on both sides we'd be on our computers playing or browsing, just grunting every once in a while to indicate our presence. All the advice. All the support. All the things we learnt from each other.

And now there are only acquaintances. No friends. The closeness and affection has all been swept away by the hands of the clock. You meet people meet and then go back home. There is no time to connect. Actually, no one even seems to want to. The cut throat world that we live in forces everyone to look out for just themselves.

Everything changes so much. Keeping in touch is so hard. I have no idea what is going on with my closest friends right now. I haven't talked to them in months. And the worst part is, I keep putting it off myself. Tomorrow, I tell myself. And we all know, tomorrow never comes.

Well, it's here now. I'm gonna put off everything else. I'm gonna sit down. And I'm gonna talk to some of the people who meant and still mean the most to me.

The Hours II

The night is an amazing time. It's the mysterious and the unknown. But what makes it better is being in a place that's very familiar by day. The darkness adds a completely new dimension to it.

My college building and grounds were somewhere that I frequented. It was so easily recognizable. But when we had fests or some cultural events and had to practice there at night, they were familiar and yet exotic; completely new and exciting. One reason was, of course, that we weren't there to work. It wasn't the 'college' anymore. It was a fun place.

Another reason was the lack of individuals. It seemed as if the whole place was yours. The vast expanses of empty spaces devoid of another person added to the specialty of the time.

However, I feel, the most important cause was the interplay of light and darkness marking out familiar territory or putting into shadow and hiding from vision what your brain expected to see at some place. All those corners where you could hide, all the dark positions that you could take up where no one would ever find you and you could observe all and sundry without being noticed. There was a feeling of invincibility; you could get away with anything, no one would know.

Now at the company too, there are times when there's a power cut and the lights go out and the only illumination comes from the glow of the computer screens. You're hidden from the rest of the people. The place suddenly looks different; less like a workplace and more casual. I plan to go some night, just to sit around and revel in that feeling again.

Looking at all I've written, it seems to me, that one of the major reasons why I like the dark is because it provides a means to hide. An escape route. A chance to get away from the crowd and be on my own. And I must confess, I do enjoy tremendously, those brief moments alone and away from it all.


Everywhere you look, the pressure to be beautiful and fit is overwhelming. All media features advertisements starring epitomes of magnificence. All posters and magazine advertisements have models with flawless skin, toned bodies, cascading hair, urging you to buy one or the product that you don't really want or need. In fact, if you're like me, the sight of those perfect gods and goddesses makes you not want to buy the thing just to spite them.

Television is overflowing with bronzed bodies with picture perfect abs and smiles so white, they could give the buffalo in the Orbit ad a run for its money! They all sport immaculate hairstyles and have impeccable dressing sense. And of course, what is all this without a big fat paycheck? For doing what, is, for the time being and probably for ever, an unanswered question.

The demands to measure up to these celluloid creations of unbalanced and deranged screen writers is taking its toll on the people. Everyone seems to be going, planning to go, or wanting to go, to get nips and tucks and staples and God knows what other atrocities inflicted on their poor, unsuspecting bodies. Consuming steroids for that perfect definition, pumping Botox into their face; where does it all stop?

But now, in a video called Evolution by Dove, viewers are finally show how make-up artists and computer gimmickry can turn a girl-next-door into a glamorous model. It's a matter of seconds! Once people know how its done, they'll feel at least a little better about themselves. All the anxiety and self-esteem problems can be eased a little.

On the other hand, who wants to see more ordinary people? There are enough ugly humans around :D Why would someone want to plonk themselves in front of the TV just to see more individuals of the kind they could meet at office in person? I think it’s the glamour of seeing larger than life personas and the attraction of watching people 'better' than us that keeps the sitcoms running. The hope that some cosmetic product will actually deliver on its promise of making you as beautiful as the face that promotes it, keeps the make-up industry running.

Beauty isn't skin deep anymore. In the case of Botox, it goes just a little deeper.

Trans Fats

A newspaper article last weekend talked about 'trans fats'. These are 'killer fats' that block your arteries, choking the heart and can knock you off in a single cardiac arrest. And all you need to do to build up these in your body is to eat food cooked in oils like vanaspati which are rich in trans fats, thrice or more times a week. And children are most at risk since they tend to eat out more often than other age groups.

The risks include diabetes, asthma, allergies, heart attacks and for the unfortunate, sudden death. The human body has no tolerance for this kind of fat and it gets deposited only as cholesterol in the body. The cholesterol levels in your body shoot up to alarming levels within 7-8 years. Cosmetically, these are the fats that cause you to get a paunch.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has already banned the use of trans fats in its US outlets. Denmark and Netherlands have regulations on their use. The WHO requires trans fat content in food to be less than 1%. But almost all food that you'd buy from outside contains anywhere between 3%-6% trans fats. And this includes biscuits, cakes, chips, French fries, samosas, paranthas etc.

The only way out, suggests the article is to use healthy vegetable oils like mustard oil or olive oil. And before buying anything, check the composition and nutritional information about the contents of the packet.

But how far can you go to keep healthy? How paranoid can you be in your quest for well-being? The inconvenience, not to mention the impracticality of some suggestions, will keep all but the most determined from keeping tabs on the oils being used at restaurants or the composition of a food product. Remember my post on hypochondria? This is what I was talking about. As if adulteration and chemicals weren't enough to be worried about, here is another damaging constituent to keep a look out for. You can only control so much of your diet.

I have learnt that moderation is the key. Too much or too little of anything, or so numerous studies show, is bad.

( Based on the article "Cut out killer fats from diet" by Amrita Singh from the Times of India, New Delhi edition, dated 5th November 2006 )

The Hours

I have this aversion to certain times of the day. I'm not really sure why but its there. And its not something that happens consciously. I just around, minding my own business when gradually I become aware of this feeling around me. It's very subtle. No obvious signs. It's just that little change in the color of the sky or a little increase in the ambient noise. Little things that you wouldn't notice right away.

For example, I hate 4 o'clock. It signals that the whole day has gone by and makes you painfully aware of the fact that you've achieved nothing. And it's not as if I realize this when I look at the time. At four, things start happening. The sky gets just the tiniest bit orangier. There is just the slightest increase in the noise around you, a few more birds start tittering, the sound of a few misguided souls out for an evening walk. These slowly permeate your sub-consciousness and start forcing their way up into your perceptive thoughts, attempting to make you aware of the fact that it’s four.

On the other hand, I like 6 o'clock. It seems to be start of the evening. You have seven, eight and nine o'clock to go before its night and you need to start the ritual to finish the day. It's a lot better than four. Similar to these are 10 o'clock which appears to be the origin of the day but just three hours later, 1 o'clock seems to be too late to do anything. It portends the end of the morning and the beginning of the afternoon when, no matter how much you try, how ever much you jump around and stamp your feet and beat your fists on the ground, you can't achieve anything even remotely approaching the concept of concrete work. You just can't. It's against the laws of nature. At least, in my universe. Or it would be if I owned a universe.

My favorite time of the day is night. Hmm, an oxymoron ( :D ). After midnight, it's all so quiet and serene. The darkness and silence hold such promise. You could dream a thousand dreams, build a million castles in the air, express hundreds of desires and never question their realization. There are endless possibilities. The whole night awaits. The darkness is limitless. Time has no meaning, there is no reference. And there is no one else you have to share this time with. You are all alone. Lord of all you survey. The world is yours for the taking. Everyone slumbers, you alone are fit to rule. You are alone and liberated.

Of course, every night is followed by dawn. And I detest that. I hate the slow lightening of the sky. The sound of birds as they wake to greet the new day. Especially the sound of partridges. They really rile me! I know that they call out at dusk too. But at that time it's drowned out by other sounds. Early morning, there is not much else. I've come to associate the sound of partridges with dawn and so now, I dislike them both equally.

So how do I handle all these hours of the day that I don't like? What do I do to get by them? How do I cope with all the angst and sorrow they cause me? My solution is simple - sleep. Sleep through as much of it as you can. Unfortunately, the pressures of society and finance tend to keep one awake through most of these ungodly hours.


In Ghaziabad, on Sunday, about 17,000 candidates for the post of constables finished their examination and started forcing vehicles to stop to ferry them. Window panes were smashed. Fruit vendors were looted. Women were pulled out of their cars and molested and their clothes torn off. And this was right in front of the police headquarters.

Police force? Police farce is more like it. These are future defenders and protectors of our rights. Yeah, right. These people are more likely to join the very gangsters they're sworn to fight against. I'd be hard pressed to choose between politicians and the police to line up and shoot, painfully, one by one. Actually, that isn't bad enough. They should be publicly flogged. They should be stoned. They should all be castrated ( along with the rapists, murderers and other perpetrators of ghastly crimes), slowly, painfully. I really, really hate them.

It burns me up so much that people like this, , are in charge of the law and order in the country. I can't even think straight enough to put down sufficiently bitter adjectives about them. Maybe there isn't anything harsh enough to say.

Agreed there are a few good men out there, fighting the criminal elements and keeping us safe. But look at the majority! They are disgusting lowlifes. The abuse of power! It is so disheartening! I mean, what can you do? What option does one have? My heart goes out to the poor souls who have no standing in society, no relief, no instrument to combat this evil!

And what does happen after something like this takes place? Public outcry. A few arrests. A mention in a blog like this. And then its gone. Something similar happened on October 4th. How many people remember or think about that? The fact remains that nothing will ever fix this. The ones in power will continue to abuse it and the ones without can do nothing to stop them and the few who do have enough clout to do something, stand by and watch with apathy. All that we're taught about 'what goes around comes around' and 'getting what you give' and 'we'll all be judged' is all rot.

May they all suffer horribly for the rest of their lives and for the rest of eternity.


It's been a few months now since I've sat down in front of the idiot-box for hours at end watching all the mindless drivel that is beamed out at us, the idiots. The quality of programming has really gone down over the years. To quote a cliché, they're going for quantity rather than quality.

All the channels seem to be showing the same inane shows, focusing on the same worthless issues and scheduling reruns of reruns. Every single channel has a hundred different soaps running during any given period ( the names of all of which inexplicably begin with 'K' ), and all of them seem to be running the same stories, with the same characters with different names. The obsession of the nation with 'Saas-Bahu' serials is baffling. Is the average housewife really that obtuse? Do these really appeal to her?

It is apparent right away that I don't really have a finger on the pulse on the middle Indian housewife, nor do I have frequent contact with any individuals of this demographic, so I don't have the faintest idea of what appeals to them. But if the TRP ratings are to be believed, these shows are doing extraordinarily well and have a healthy audience ( maybe not quite so healthy in intellectual matters though! ). It seems rather fantastic to me that anyone would watch such rubbish day in, day out.

Then there are the 24/7 news channels. They are a really desperate lot. The smallest event that has even the faintest scent of sensationalism will be blown out of proportion and hyped beyond belief. I've actually seen a 15 minute segment on how Mallika Sherawat would be filming her first ever soft-drink ad. Oh joy! Oh ecstasy! My exhilaration knows no bounds! More airtime to the already uber-excessively publicized osculator! Hooray for quality television!

And there was another remarkably cerebral piece about a ghost ( !! ) in Gujrat that would attack anyone who would be inconsiderate enough to sing Himesh Reshammiya's anthem, 'Jhalak Dikhlaja'. Though I think most people would probably have done the same at such an unprovoked and malicious attack on someone's aural senses and so, would have sympathized with the, umm, spirit of the attack ( :D ). I, personally, however, happen to like a few of Himesh's songs.

People have been asking me if I have a cable connection and why I don't get one. I've realized that rather than sitting like a lobotomized zombie in front of the television screen, I'd rather sit like a lobotomized zombie in front of the computer screen. But seriously, I'm better off without the TV. It gives me much more time and I can do something more interactive.

Also, if I did have TV, you wouldn't be reading this. And that I think, is the best reason not to get one, don't you think?


Have you noticed how many different ways there are to get oneself hurt, at home and outside? All the implements that are used to ease our daily chores provide endless combinations to cause injuries, deliberately or by accident.

Tables, chairs and boxes are things that are found everywhere and I'm always wary of the sharp corners that are provided to make it convenient to put out an eye should one so desire. Add to this all the sticky-outie things all over the house - taps, shelves, handles; they're all handy ways to inflict damage on ones person. This of course, doesn't take into account the means to get electrocuted, radiated or just plain fried.

Outside the house is no haven either. If anything, its so much more dangerous. Spikes on the gates, ignorant drivers, invisible potholes, unmarked barriers, lone, forgotten electricity poles in the middle of the road, they were all constructed as instruments of carnage, if you ask me, which you didn't but I'll just keep going on as if you did, alright?

One of my 'pet' fears is being struck by a stone shot into the air by a passing vehicles tyre. No, not the ones that are tossed up harmless by the rising edge of the tyre, but the ones that are caught at an awkward angle between the outer edge of the tyre and the road and then, when the tension is released, are shot into the air rather forcefully. I know it's a very irrational and unfounded fear and the chances of the stone actually being thrown hard enough and hitting and injuring you are lesser than my blog winning the Pulitzer but there you go. I always jump at the pop when it happens nearby.

So, it occurs to me, we're all just walking around, waiting for that one accident, that'll take us out, to happen. Scary, isn't it?

Sleeping Sad

According to a recent study, people who go to bed feeling lonely and sad wake up with a surge of energy boosting hormones, like cortisol, which helps to raise blood sugar levels. Also, if you get angry during the day, you'll have higher bedtime levels of cortisol. So evidently, even sleeping sad has some advantages.

But does that mean you shouldn't be worried if you go to bed feeling unhappy with your life? Or if you fight with your partner every night? I feel that the long-term ill-effects on your temperament and your well-being must be huge.

According to another study, holding hands is one of the best ways to fight off stress. People who held hands with their loved ones reacted better to stress and felt more secure and happier with life.

Sometime the best paths to happiness are the ones we overlook or take for granted. So go, hug someone you love and hold hands today!


Money. You can never have enough of it. And you can never have enough of it. No matter how much you have, it's hard to pass up a chance to get your hands on some. To save even a little bit seems like a big deal.

At least, it’s a big deal for me. I can never let go of even tiny sums of money. A feeling of regret keeps nagging me. It pokes and prods, egging me to go and collect what, in its words, ‘is rightfully yours!’ I feel a little awkward about the miniscule amounts in question. But, in the resulting bout between the two, regret usually pounds and knocks out awkwardness in a matter of moments; though at times the conflict is drawn-out and when regret looks up from the flattened form of awkwardness, arms raised in victory, it discovers that the opportunity has long since passed and to ask now would be to combat indignity, ignominy and infamy, the combined might of which is too much for regret alone. So it rages about for sometime, jumping around and stamping its feet which does absolutely no good so it goes and sits in a corner, sulking. And over time, of course, it mutates into misery which is a feeling that is simply much harder to cope with. It doesn’t poke and prod as much as slam you against the wall, having gripped you in a chokehold, and gives you the third degree with reference to your non-collection of the capital in question.

However I think that everyone goes through something similar. No one really wants to give up change but it seems petty to ask for it. Especially from friends. And everyone is glad to get currency. Very rarely does one put off collecting money whatever the amount. Though this may be partly because they know that if they put it off too long, someone else may do the collecting on their behalf. Of course, this in turn, is because no one puts off collecting money, whatever the source, for very long. As you can see it’s a very complicated and paradoxical situation.

Love may make the world go round, but it's money that puts it in a spin. Nevertheless, in the end, it’s the value that we attach to those 'little pieces of green paper', as Douglas Adams referred to them, that really matters and not what's printed on them.

Experiences And Learning

Something or the other is always going wrong. Nothing works out quite the way you plan it. Even things that seem to work fine for others don't go right for you. For no readily apparent reason. It could be anything; programs won't install on similar machines, stuff that you buy seems to reach the end of its short life faster than something that your friend bought with you, and much, much more.

But I've realised that all of these are learning experiences. It all helps in the wrong run. There's so much of what I know that I've discovered when things went awry. The tens of times that I've had to reinstall the OS on my computer because I messed up things taught me all I know about the config.sys files, configuring the BIOS, booting off cd's, formatting, partitioning, backing up drivers and more ( Admittedly it isn't much, but that’s besides the point ). My bike gave me trouble a couple of times, including a few accidents :D, and I now know how to drain the petrol and oil tanks, how to set the idling rpm's, how to adjust the play on the brake and clutch and how to make the clutch loose or tight.

And there's so many other things like losing your wallet, taking the wrong road at the wrong time, breaking down, getting locked out of your house. All of these seem like the end of the world when they happen or at the very least almost insurmountable challenges but once you're over the hill, you've racked up another point in your experience score. When things go wrong and you rush about to set them right, you're exposed to workings that you took for granted or didn't even know about or were just plain not interested in. Because making what’s wrong right takes more effort than just sailing along with no disruptions.

In the end, we need things to go wrong. Not only do they make life more interesting but what you gain from these disasters far outweighs what you lose.


Filthy, obscene, disgusting, apathetic, greedy, corrupt nepotists. They are lying bags of manure. Actually, they're lower than that. It doesn't matter where they are, where they're from, they're all crooks ( barring a precious few, who of course get lost in the sea of corruption ). They're all out to grab what they can from the common man, whom they're sworn in to serve and whom they owe their current positions to.

How else would you explain Jharkhand's Rural Development Minister, Enos Ekka spending Rs. 50 lakh on his eight year old son's birthday? 50 lakhs! On an 8 year old's birthday bash! It’s obscene!

And of course all this rubs off on their kin too. Consider Nikhil Gowda, son of Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, grandson of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda who smashed up Hotel Empire in Bangalore when they refused to serve him at 3:30 AM. And his father has the effrontery to say '...just forget it, children have done (sic)'! As an aside, he was getting ready to address a youth convention where his message was to be 'Give up bad habits and join hands to build a healthy society'. Talk about hypocrisy. Oh, and of course, there has been no case registered against the son. You can tell from the way his father talks ( '...I will talk to him, but the law will take its own course' ) that he fully expects his son to walk away scot-free. Which parent would not be concerned about the outcome of such a state of affairs even if their progeny were innocent?

Nikhil drives around in a Hummer, a Lancer, a Nissan Sport, a Lexus and a BMW 7-series. If this isn't proof enough that these thugs are lining their own pockets with the country's money, I don't know what is.

Of course its possible that they are all victims of the media, which in it's over enthusiasm for sensational stories hypes up everything and presents even the unlikeliest conjectures as hard facts. But I, for one, am not willing to give these people the benefit of doubt. For me, they're guilty until proven innocent.

Writing. And Douglas Adams

Writing is so damn difficult. Every single stage of it. You start off fine, feeling rather excited about putting down your thoughts to paper...umm, your blog, feeling rather self-important. Then you hit the first hurdle - what exactly are you going to write about? Just jotting down every single random thought that comes to you make for rather poor reading fare, a wretched collection of words and phrases that should be locked up and kept away from the unsuspecting public, particularly since not everyone wants to know about how your toe was feeling a little itchy about an hour after lunch. You need to pick something that would interest a wide demographic, something that is worthwhile and something that you should hopefully have some knowledge about.

That done, you now need to start with the actual writing itself. And that, of course, is easier said than done. As someone said, the easiest way to stop your thoughts flowing, is to sit down and get ready to put them to paper. And that is precisely what happens. It gets harder as time goes by because you know you want to write, you should write, but as you sit there trying to force the thoughts, which till so recently were bounding about, waiting to be unleashed upon a world that was starved of your excellent opinions, out of you, they go and hide further down in your subconsciousness, teasingly out of reach, resolutely refusing to reappear.

However, despite it all, you finally do get some work done and despite yourself, have a decent set of paragraphs. Though, I've noticed, that once you get past the first one and a half paragraphs, it gets much easier. The words seem to flow a little better. After a re-read, however, the whole article still seems very forced, amateurish and unimpressive. And you can only fix so much of it. You put in big words here and there to make it seem better, but the overall quality remains much the same. Finally, you give up on the whole idea and resign yourself to your fate as an unknown who will never get to see his name on a 'Collected Works of' compilation.

Which brings me to Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Universe trilogy ( consisting of, incredibly, 5 books, a radio series, a TV series, a computer game, stage adaptations, comic book, bath towel, and most recently a motion picture (which I didn't appreciate so much) ), The Dirk Gently novels, The Meaning, and The Deeper Meaning, of Liff, Last Chance to See. He also helped develop the Starship Titanic game. Last, but not least, he gave us the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. It is, definitely, 42. ( A cryptic clue to the same was in My first ever blog :D )

He was just brilliant. He had a flair for the language that most people can only stare at with slack-jawed astonishment. The way he wove his sentences left you breathless. They would range from single words to titanic philological constructions that told a whole story in themselves. Add to this a never ending supply of incredible, unique, zany ideas and you get prose that is breathtakingly, incredibly excellent. Magnificent specimens of English literature.
Apart from being a good (!) writer, he was also a programmer and had a solid interest in technology. He was a patron of Apple products and the Beatles' music and I'm sure he would have loved the coming together of the two with the iPod.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Douglas Adams passed away on 11 May 2001. Never again will we get to read his unconventional writings, never get to see the world from his unconventional perspective.

You can visit his websites at:

Before he died, he was working on the Salmon of Doubt, which is left, frustratingly, mostly incomplete.


Snakes. I absolutely abhor them. I detest them, loathe them, despise them and have the greatest disliking for them of all living creatures, rivaled only by that of the weird fungus that grows under the linoleum carpeted bathrooms that dingy hotels in commercialised tourist places seem to cultivate.

And why exactly I don't quite know. They're just another of God's creatures. One more living thing just trying to go about its business in this crazy, mixed-up world. It's not their fault that they don't have legs, are scaly and just an unfortunate happenstance that they produce venom that'll kill you if you'll unlucky enough to encounter one of those types.

What really, really freaks me out about them is that you can never see or hear them. A lion would probably more likely kill you than a snake. Or maybe even a frenzied dog. But at least you can see them coming. You can judge how fast they're moving to you. You can see their legs. With a snake, you wouldn't be able to see it in the grass. You can't tell whether its moving towards you or away from you or just regarding your extreme fear with an air of bemusement.

You would never know if you were about to step onto one in the dark. You'd never know if it was slithering around in your room, under your bed waiting to give you a snug hug, in some dark corner in your closet, hiding behind the bucket in your bathroom, . You'd never hear it pitter-pattering around. This is what scares me the most, that you can't do anything about them because you can't detect them.

All in all, I'm completely terrified of snakes, especially of waking up one morning and finding one snuggled in cozily with me in my bed!


It's that time of the year again when the sky sparkles with the shimmering embers of firecrackers, when houses are enveloped in the warm glow from lamps of all kinds. There's a distinct nip in the air that announces the arrival of Diwali.

You can always tell when it's coming. The days seem quieter. The nights seem darker, broken by the soft radiance from homes. There's a sense of excitement at the propect of the coming festival ( and of course, the holiday! ). You feel like spending time with family and friends. Everything seems cleaner and brighter. Even if, like me, you don't really relish the rituals, commercialization and overspending that festivals bring, Diwali is one that you probably look forward to.

I do hate the pollution caused by all the crackers, all the rubbish left on the streets and in grounds all over, the loads of money, literally, going up in smoke and most of all, the sense of anti-climax the next day, when its all over.

This time, for the first time, I'm going to be spending Diwali away from home. Without my family and friends. It's kind of depressing. I miss being forced to take part in the customary cleaning at home, grudgingly help my sister out with rangoli and waiting eagerly to find out what sweets have been bought this time.

Though I'm still better off than some. I've got my relatives who can fill some of the void. I feel sorry for the people who have no one at all to be with this holiday.

Brush With Death

I met with an accident yesterday. Don't worry, I'm fine; no bones broken, just a few superficial abrasions. The blog continues as normal ( as normal as it could possibly be! ) I was on my way back from work. At a crossing the lights weren't working, I started to turn right and I failed to see a bus coming from the left, turning to its right, a path that carried it right in front of me. As soon as I saw it, I braked hard and since I was leaning into the turn, I skidded and fell. The bus passed really, really close, it slammed into the handlebar of my bike and bent it out of shape. I could see the rear wheels heading for my head. Fortunately, it missed me and my bike, most of it anyway.

You know how you're supposed to see everything in slow motion? And your life is supposed to flash in front of your eyes? And you think of all you've left incomplete and all that? Well, nothing like that happened. I wasn't thinking anything. I could just see the tyres rushing at me and then the bus was gone. There wasn't even an adrenaline rush! No thumping heart, nothing!

And after I got up, my first thought was, 'Oh no! My bike!' and then I checked my good trousers, my nice jacket, my phone, iPod and my new shoes. How much more materialistic could I be? And after that, on the way home, I was agonizing about the fact that it was going to cost so much; fixing the bike, buying new trousers and looking sadly at my scraped shoes. The bike got repaired for pretty cheap and that pulled my sagging spirits up, and I was much more cheerful after that.

Sometimes I wonder, if I've got my priorities right.

Yahoo! Time Capsule Page Link

Have you seen the Yahoo! Time Capsule project? It's pretty cool and has a very slick interface. You can find it at :

And do check out my contribution to the first ever electronic anthropological collection at :

It's someone who I love more than life itself. Someone who is unconditionally accepting of me. Someone who knows me better than I know myself. Someone who has loved me like I've never been loved before. Someone who brings joy to my life and light to my days.

Where Did It All Go?

It's been almost 2 months out on my own now. Away from home. Away from family. Away from friends. In a new city. And I miss it all. I miss college so much. The familiarity, the warmth, the safety, the carefree life. Though, come to think of it, I never really did do anything. I've always been the one who says that he can't make it because he has work to do.

Don't get me wrong, I've had a wonderful childhood. My parents made sure I had everything I needed and more and they sacrificed so much for it. I've had exposure to lots of things. I've got opportunities so many others only dream of. I've never been wanting. Things were always given to me even before I knew I wanted them.

But there has always been that pressure to perform. The nagging feeling that if I don't work, I'm not gonna go anywhere. That fun and leisure were things that would be caught up with later. And now it's later. Much later. And there's no catching up. It's all gone. I'm never going to get that much time. Never free from the worries and anxieties of day to day life. It's only going to get worse.

My friends often told me to chill out, relax and enjoy life. But I can't do that. I want to. I want to just sit back and let it all wash over me. But I can't. I'm always tense about losing a chance, missing an opportunity. And in doing that, I've lost the opportunity to live my life.

I have had great times too, though. They've been fewer than they should have been, but that's what makes them so special and wonderful. They stand out. All those times I've spent with the best friends I could have had. The care and love they've shown. And they've made me a much better person. I've learnt so much from them. And I miss it all so much. Where did it all go?

I've now realised that the best things in life are the ones you have to leave behind.

The Big Picture

I'm a Virgo and we're supposed to be practical. Supposed to be obsessed with details. Supposed to not believe in astrology! :D But I am obsessed with details. I like getting everything just right. I will waste hours just to get the spacing in a document just right. No one's going to notice and most certainly, no one is going to care. But I just need to do it, it would keep bugging me forever if I didn't fix those little things.

And it’s the same with my life. If there's something wrong or pending, I can't do anything or concentrate on anything else till it’s been corrected and completed. I have a compulsion to put a check mark next to each item in my list as soon as possible.

As a result I'm losing sight of what's important. The ultimate goals. The main aim. For example when my phone wasn't working and I couldn't talk to my girlfriend, it really got me down. It took quite some time to fix and I was really preoccupied with getting it done. I could communicate with her via email, but my mind was only on the phone. The phone which was supposed to be a means to get in touch with someone who is really important to me but which was now overshadowing her by being the focus of all my mental energy. What should have mattered wasn't the phone as long as I could keep in touch. But that is difficult for me to see. Because I'm obsessed with the little things.

Sometimes you need to stop. Take a step back. And have a look-see at the big picture to realize what really matters.


I've been reading the paper religiously for a couple of weeks now. And more than gaining awareness of current events and the like, I've found out all the different diseases and illnesses that can afflict me even if I'm as careful as I could possibly be!

Everyday there are at least 3 articles spread casually throughout the paper extolling the virtues of some or the other lifestyle. And they all seem to contradict each other! I've been brought up to avoid alcohol but now they say that a little bit of drink does you good, protects you from heart disease and blah blah. I've started 'a handful' of an assortment of comestible substances so that I live to be healthy when I grow old.

I'm really fond of chicken except meat is supposed to be bad for you. It clogs up the system, has unhealthy fats and is often fried which makes it worse. Fine. So I won't eat fried chicken (sigh!). But no! Grilled chicken is not an option because it contains carcinogens! And oily fish is supposed to be good for you! The oilier the better! How in the world are we to decide what to eat?

The papers don't just stop there in their never ending quest to scare me into a gibbering, anxious fanatic who sees threats to his and his family's health at every turn. I'm worried about lead exposure from fillings causing brain damage to my kids. Afraid that with all the pollution we're breathing, their tiny little lungs will be fried. Frantic that all the exposure to radio waves is gonna render me impotent and I'll never have to worry about my children!

Each day as I go through the paper, I add another couple of items to my list of things to avoid, keep away from and just generally steer clear of as soon as I spot them miles away. It is really exhausting to be this worried all the time that I'm going to contract carpal tunnel syndrome from blogging too much or that not being careful about bugs could kill me and that there are diseases around, closer than I'd like to think, that are horrible, incurable and best not pictured.

Sometimes, maybe, ignorance is bliss.


Why do we feel the need to invent a supernatural, all-powerful, all-seeing figure to guide us through life? Why do we need something to worship? Something to pray to, to provide for us? People say we need God to help reinforce moral values. The thought of someone watching your every move and rewarding or punishing you accordingly helps keep you in check. This may be true, in fact, I know it is, I've often stopped and thought twice about what I was about to do.

But I've just realized something. As we grow older, we move to college, move out of home, get jobs, get a life, have a family...we distance ourselves from our parents. And for 20 odd years they've always been there. Ready to bail you out of every problem. They were all powerful, no problem was insurmountable. If things got out of hand, you knew all you had to do was tell your parents and they'd figure out a way. But now, living away from them, carrying out with your life, you can't do that anymore. They can't do that anymore. And we feel the need for a parent, someone to protect us from the unfairness of life, the problems that surround us. And so we invent God, someone whom we can depend to take care of 'his children' and reward them for being good. When things spin out of control, we leave them to Him to deal with as He sees fit.

This is the reason why I think we really need God. And as my life seems to be going all wrong, I let my arms fall to my sides, look up at the sky, and wish for Him to fix it all. I need Him. I need my parents.

Happiness And Hope

Happiness is such a relative emotion. Like someone said, it isn't what you've got that makes you happy; it's what others haven't. I've guilty of this most of the time. But I feel that it’s justified, to a certain extent, too. After all, what's the point of getting 60% if everyone has 70+?

You should enjoy whatever makes you happy, as soon as you can, because you never know when it'll go away. I'd won a trip to Bangkok, from MTV. And I was happy. I told all my friends and I made plans for it. It never happened. But for those few days, I was happy. I had something to look forward to. And that made me happier than the trip could have.

It's important to have hope. Without hope, there's nothing to live for. If you don't have dreams, if you don't have anywhere to reach, no goals, then you're wasting your life. You will never be happy, never satisfied with anything. In fact, one of the defining characteristics of the middle class, anywhere in the world, is that they have hope (as observed by Thomas L. Friedman in his excellent book, The World Is Flat). Hope to better their lives and those of their children. They have something to work for, to look forward to.

I have my moments of happiness too, despite how morbid and depressed my blogs might seem. But in light of all that seems to be going wrong with my life, all the hassles, all the unfairness, they seem to be overlooked. So here's something that's keeping me happy for the time being, my new laptop.

HP Pavilion dv1000 series : 1301ap
  • Intel Centrino Mobile 1.86GHz
  • Intel Alviso-G i915GM/910GML Chipset
  • 14" BrightView Screen
  • 1GB DDR SDRAM (400 MHz)
  • 80GB SATA-HDD (4200 RPM)
  • TSST Corp. CD/DVD Writer
  • Wireless LAN Card
  • Bluetooth Module
  • Modem
  • LAN Card
  • S-Video Out
  • Card Reader
  • Expansion Port
  • QuickPlay Buttons
  • IR Remote


Reading the word ‘nostalgia’ fills you up with a warm feeling; a glow; a sense of happy and good times. It seems to be such a nice emotion. But its not. Have you ever felt nostalgia? It’s a terrible feeling to have!

It brings to mind times gone by. Happier times, yes. But now past, never to come again. The longing for those days to come back, for that glad time to take you out of this rut that you’re stuck in. But it’ll never happen.

When I get nostalgic, I can see vivid images of times and places that I’ve loved. I can feel the warm breeze of the evenings, smell the place, sense the presence of all my friends. I see my college auditorium, just before we went onstage to perform. I see evenings spent out with my friends after exams. I see the time spent with my family, sitting on the terrace on cool summer evenings. I see relaxed hours spent during the preparation for annual days at school and the rushed hours during the final performance. The thrill of receiving an award. The tension before the results. The relief at the end of the exams. The ecstasy at an unexpected free class. Relaxed, contented afternoon siestas. I miss the waking up in the mornings in the hostel to Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit blaring out at full volume from the room next door. I miss the final days of college; the guppa parties; the graffiti; the final farewell; the goodbyes to all those you’ve known for four years, and may never see again. And most of all, I miss the hours spent with my girlfriend, talking about everything under the sun, our future, our plans together. The carefree days that will never come back now.

Of course, our minds do have this certain unneeded quality of embellishing memories of days past to make them seem like the golden days of our lives; the best times that we’ve ever had. Which isn’t completely true. There will be good times ahead. There will be bad times ahead. What’s important is that there is time ahead and how you use it. After all, with life, the journey is definitely much more important than the destination.

So True

Calvin and Hobbes, 1989 (c) Bill Waterson

Mobile Phone Etiquette

Most people don’t seem to know what to do with a mobile phone. All the nouveau riche apparently buy them just to flash around and show off their wealth. A course in mobile phone etiquette should be made compulsory for everyone who buys a cell phone.

Most people seem to think that since the phone is wireless, it requires them to power the device by means of lung power. They shout into the handset as if that’ll help transmit their voice further and clearer!

And there are those who want to let everyone know that they’ve got the latest ring tone or mp3 enabled phone (with speaker) by letting their phones ring on at full volume without displaying any intentions of answering the call. I sometimes suspect that they have another phone secreted away somewhere on their person and are using that to call themselves. It’s possible.

Then, as with all these new devices, there are those who are completely lost with the new fangled handsets. They have no idea which button does what and every time they get a call, they fumble around trying to recall if it’s the green button you press to pick up or the red button. They also seem to be unaware that there is a discreet and silent mode that they could avail of. Especially in theaters and in trains. Why they get calls in the middle of the night on a journey through the remotest area’s of Madhya Pradesh, I can’t fathom. Most people (including yours truly, until my very intelligent girlfriend informed me about it) also aren’t aware of there being an option to silence the phone, without rejecting of answering the call, thereby providing yourself an opportunity to hear yourself think and conclude whether to answer or not without being egged on infuriatingly by the phone’s incessant ringing. At least, Nokia phones have offer this option.

Which brings me to the fact that I find Nokia phones very appealing. They have the right blend of functionality, appearance and extras that is required. I’ve seen phones that have very attractive displays and menus but they run so slow, you are almost overcome by the urge to toss them into the nearest dustbin. A lot of them skip on features like an alarm clock, let me rephrase that, a decent alarm clock, a calculator etc. I also especially like the fact that you can use all the chargers interchangeably as well as the pretty much standard menu system. It makes for a very gradual learning curve. I also am a regular user of the Nokia PC Suite for copying my messages and downloaded images and ring tones, though I have been plagued with lots of bugs in the software which at various times have deleted all the recent messages from my inbox, failed to delete messages from my inbox, duplicated recent messages in my inbox, and the like.

In fact, I’ve made a couple of little programs that I use for helping me with my saved messages. Why don’t you check them out at http://nogoodatcoding.googlepages/smspage?

Culture Shock

I’ve just moved to Delhi and the cultural shock has got me depressed, stunned and totally lost. Everything is so different. The people are different. The nuances of language are so diverse. The weather is uncomfortably extreme. Not a familiar face around. Not even a familiar street or house. The trees seem to have been transplanted from another planet. The soil. I don’t even want to call it that. Its just sand! How does anything grow in it?

And this is just in the same country! How would it feel to go to another country where everything is poles apart? The language, the customs, the clothes, everything. But you know what? I’d probably be more comfortable moving there than I am here. With all the exposure to Hollywood and the American way of life, I’d be more at ease with their ways.

There’s a couple of Irish guys training with my batch at my company. Nice guys. But the culture shock is pretty evident. They can barely comprehend the pronunciation of most of the names leave alone addressing anyone. I saw one of the guys writing down the names of people in our group; the way he spelt them was so off the mark! The way he heard and interpreted them was completely different.

And the traditions too seem to have got them stumped. Not using toilet paper was a particularly incomprehensible tradition. One of the guys asked why there was hose next to the toilet. Its use perplexed him to no end!

Though with the increasing extent of globalization, most things aren’t so different in cosmopolitan cities anymore. You’ll find the same McDonald’s, the same Pizza Hut, everything. Eating at one of these places almost feels like home. But it’s those little things that are missing that make your country your own.


I've been fairly lucky my whole life. I've managed to do well in school, got into a good college, did fairly well there. I've had almost everything I've needed. Not really been in want of anything. I have the most perfect girlfriend, someone who understands me so well. I've great parents and very caring sister. I've got good friends, good job, enough money. But as I'm getting ready to leave home and go out to the big bad world, I've a deep sense of apprehension. An uneasiness of the soul if you will. I don't know how long this luck will hold out.

I haven't really ever worried about getting killed in a plane crash or a train accident or by some lunatic on the street. I mean, the thought has crossed my mind, but that's all that it was, a fleeting reflection, something that was to be accepted if it did happen and the chances of it happening were so remote that it didn't really deserve the squandering of precious energy and time. But now that I'm with someone, someone who I care about deeply, I'm scared of dying. I don't want to. I'm afraid of growing old. I'm afraid of stepping out one day and never coming back. What happens to her? Who will take care of her? Love her? I want to grow old with her. I want to see our children grow up. I want to be able to sit with her and reminisce over our years spent together.

What if something happens to her? How will I go on? What would life have to offer me? The thought of not being there with her everyday, not being able to see her ever again really, really terrifies me. And its not something I can do anything about. The sense of helplessness is overwhelming at times. I can't protect her or my family against nature's cataclysms. I can't keep them safe from raving maniacs toting firearms on the street. I can't protect them from mishaps on modes of transportation. All I can do is see them off everyday and hope we'll meet again for dinner.

I kinda understand now how our parents must feel. And I'm a little ashamed to say that I don't feel that way about them. Or my sister. I do, but its not as powerful a feeling. Maybe its because deep down I think that they'll always be around. Always there to help me out, pull me through the rough patches. But as I see them growing older and more tired, I get pangs of alarms as I realise that we don't have that much longer together. They're not going to be there forever. I'm not going to be there for eternity. I'm beginning to be aware of my mortality and of those that I care so much about. There is this sense of incompletion, a sense of having achieved nothing, no satisfaction of accomplishment.

I'm not sure how I will do in life. I don't know if I'll be able to make enough money to support my family, to do things I want to do, be healthy enough, be good enough. I don't know if I have time enough to enjoy life with my love. I'm spending the best years of my life struggling and studying and trying to make a solid foundation for the later years of my life that I may not be able to reap the benefits of. I've got to make choices where nothing really seems to be right. Do I study and work in a first class country where I'll always be a second class citizen? Or do I stay where I belong but where there is corruption, no infrastructure, pathetic service, incompetent officials, stuff bureaucracy? Will I be able to raise my children well? Instill in them the same qualities that my parents gave me? How will I control what they're exposed to, who they're exposed to?

I know we're supposed to keep the faith and enjoy what we have rather than worry about what might happen. But like my friend said the other day 'Life has a way of working out'. Then she added, 'Hopefully'.

The End of the World?

I've been noticing that lately that seem to be lots of things going wrong with the world. Every day there are bombings and killings. People seem not to value human life any more than they would insects (not that we shouldn't value insects, they form pretty much 90% of all animal species and over 20% of all the biomass in the animal kingdom!) Car bombs, mines, suicide it just me or does it seem to be increasing? Along with this, corruption seems to be on the rise. Coupled with rudeness and uncaring attitudes, it kinda makes me not be with all these people. Sure there are nice people around but they're such a minority that they seem to be a rounding error in the population count.

Add to this all the natural disasters going around. The Earth seems to be rebelling against us. Floods everywhere, incessant rains, earthquakes, hurricanes, rising temperatures. Power cuts seem to be more frequent. All this technology that we have and are (fatally?) dependant on will be worthless once we run out of power generating options. Train crashes, plane crashes, mishaps on the freeways, human errors, material failure, shoddy manufacturing, pollution, unacceptable quality assurance. Where is it all leadin?

Though I'm not sure if its actually the time for the Apocalypse or if its just better connectivity and coverage. News channels are on 24 hours a day. They cover everything all the time. So is it just that everything gets air time now? Because of the 'Global Village' phenomenon, we know exactly whats happening in Bangalore, India as well as we do Bangor, Maine? Or are all these problems really increasing? Are we heading for Armageddon earlier than we planned? I think its the latter. And I'm not even a pessimist!

I just watched 'The Day After Tomorrow' the day before yesterday (irony? :D) And it seemed like a very appropriate warning. We may be running out of time faster than we can imagine.

TV Movie Phenomenon

Have you ever noticed that if you miss the premiere of a movie that on TV that you wanted to watch you'll end up never actually watching it?

It works like this. The first time its shown, you miss it. You were working, there was no power, no cable, guests, your dog was depressed, whatever. You miss it. The next time you put on the telly, guess what you see? Yes, the same movie, a quarter of the way through. So what do you do? You start watching. But of course, you hadn't set aside time for a full feature length celluloid show so you can't finish it. There'll be things to do, calls to make, places to go. So you once again miss most of it. You may or mayn't catch the ending. More probable is that you'll get to watch the last of the credits scroll up off your screen.

Fast forward a week or so later. Once again they're screening that film. Once again you happen to catch it by chance. This time, a few minutes before or after the part you've already seen. Once again you can't finish it. So you go away, replete with the knowledge that you can make a little more sense of the story.

This continues for some more time, each time you may get to view hitherto unseen footage. At the end of it, you vow in frustration, to catch the movie the next time they screen. Of course they promptly schedule in the middle of the night or conveniently in the middle of your doctor's appointment, so that you miss it once again.

Finally, months later (perhaps when the channel decides to rebroadcast the movie as a wednesday night 'premiere'), the timing is perfect, you are free, and you can sit down to watch it comfortably in peace. But after the first 10 minutes, you reach a part you've seen umpteen times before already (during your earlier futile attempts to watch) and so you change channels, just for 5 minutes, you tell yourself. And of course, when you do remember to come back, you've missed some important part of the story and the scenes are leading towards an alarmingly similar point in the plot, one that you've seen before. With great frustration you realise that you've missed the part you hadn't seen to return to one that you had. Once again you change the channel vowing to return in time and once again you don't. This is where most people, including I, give up. As a result, the list of partially watched, but never completed Hollywood features is incremented by one. cntUnwatchedList++ anyone?

This is kinda like downloading a torrent where the seeding stops and all the peers and uploading the same stuff and you end up not having the complete file and ultimately you abandon all hope and cancel the download in despair.

Yes, this is a disturbing phenomenon. For viewers and channels alike. People end up having a fragmented memory of various stories, that seem to bleed into one and you really can't fathom the reasons for most of the paths the tales go along. And for channels who now not only have people changing channels during ads but also during the main programmed itself!

Something must be done. And for those of us that can't afford TiVo, BitTorrent is the answer! :D

What's With Our teeth?

So whats the deal with our teeth anyway? After years of evolution, you'd think we'd have something better and less prone to cavities and stuff than this. Enamel is the hardest tissue in our body. Why does it get so messed up with those little bacteria? I mean, come on! It couldn't have been harder? I'm not talking indestructible, but just a little more? So that we don't get cavities?

And why do we have nerves in them? Whats the point? I'm not going not going to feel my food and guess what I'm eating. All they do is make it worse when you're at the dentist's!

Why can't we have been like elephants and regrow our teeth? Or atleast some of them? Root canal? Tooth extraction? No problem? I'll grow a new one soon! Or maybe like sharks? Layers and layers of teeth to replace all that you lose.

Yes, I hate going to the dentist. I hate the sound of the drill. It just sends shivers down my spine and sets my teeth tingling! And then there's that weird tingling pain when its drilling around a nerve. Eee! And lets not forget the suction that keeps making horrible sucking noises and the assistant keeps sticking it into sensitive corners of your mouth, adding to the overall pain level! Despite all this brutality, I've never actually heard anyone scream at a dentist's. Is that something that they only do in the movies?

And flossing is such a pain! You've gotta take that little piece of floss, make sure its long enough, then stick it into your mouth and jam it in between your teeth. The wisdom teeth are the hardest to get to. And there are so many times when you end up slicing through your gums. Oh, will this pain never end?

All in all, I hate having to worry about dental hygine just because our ancestors couldn't be bothered to take the right turns along the evolutionary path of human life.

My First Ever Blog

Well, I'm here. My very first blog.

Why do people blog anyway? Is it an inherent need to be heard? A secret desire to be a writer? An irrational urge to pound away at the keyboard and at the consciousness of those that happen to read your rant's?

Well? What? Hey, don't look at me. I just post the questions here. You gimme the answers. The best I can do is 42. Yeah, you heard me right, 42. Go read some Douglas Adams, you'll get it. Don't you just hate it when people leave arcane hints lying around the meaning to which you wanna find out but know you will never get around to? I do. Because the moment I step away, I've forgotten what was going on. Kinda like a goldfish. For those of you that don't know about goldfish memories, this is your second (in case you didn't get the 42 hint) arcane hint for the day! :D

So this is blogging huh? Just pour out random thoughts onto a glowing array of phosphor? Cool. I can do this. Don't know for how long though!