Thursday, October 28, 2004

Read me to sleep

Now .....
She lay there like a bunch of roses, her cheeks puffed with tears, sleeping like an angel. I saw a tinge of smile on her face - I was probably dreaming, I can't distinguish between the two now. Just as everytime, she involuntarily reached for the huge Mr.Bunny that shares her bed everynight. My eyes darted from one end of the room to the other, till they transfixed on the huge stuff doll obscured by my jacket. I reached for the doll and put it close to her little fingers, before those searching fingers wake the little princess up - ever since she was a couple of months old, Mr.Bunny has been giving her company. On those occasional tiresome nights when Mira and I slump to bed a little early - a piercing cry would wake us up and right in the middle of the night two sleepy souls would be searching for a stuffed white doll in the dull moon-lit room. I stroked a thick lock of hair on her forehead, wondering as always, what she was dreaming about right then.
2 hours before .....
It's amazing how life takes on a humdrum pattern that one never realizes until a moment like this when one misses a train of thought and wonders what he's been thinking. Just as every night, I was heating up milk for her humming the same song I have been singing all day, while she was making all kinds of weird noises with her keyboard. Mira wanted her to learn music over dance - "You can practise music anytime anywhere. It doesn't need anything. Dance needs a whole infrastructure, and I don't want my daughter to experience the pain of giving up something she would grow to love" She knew best coz she was one amazing dancer herself - She was supposed to be there with her, teaching her the first notes of music right now. But things aren't always the way you want them to be isn't it. So, it's just the two of us now. She with her cacophonic company and me with a milk can and a flame. I still haven't got the story for the night ready - Ever since she could distinguish voices, I have been telling her a story every night - each one a variation of the other - it's always about this beautiful princess who finally wins against all odds. Mira would often make fun of me that she doesn't understand a word of what I say - but trust me, she does. The other day, she, in her own childish gibberish, made reference to a story I told her when she was a toddler - you know, with children you would never know - she probably didn't mean a thing. But, with all subjective inference I am entitled to as a dad - I declare, she did remember. Right then, I heard her go "Da .. da .. da ". She was calling out for me. I picked up the glass of milk and reached for the stairs - So, what do we have? A princess in a lost land ... now that's a start.
Now ...
It's well past midnight, I know that I have to go and that sitting and staring at her sleeping is not going to be of any help. I should probably catch some sleep and get things done for the meeting tomorrow. I stared at the door - felt, when I cross that threshold, I would enter a different world devoid of a single reason to live or smile or breathe. I was hoping she would wake up, grab my hand and asked me to sit down and read her to sleep. I suddenly had this urge to cry - don't remember the last time I felt it. Deep down, I knew I was going to see her again tomorrow. But the tears seemed irresistable and were already on their way. Enough! I had to go. I stood up and suddenly felt her hand grab the end of my sweater - there between her tender fingers was a tiny piece of fabric urging me to stay. There probably was the same coyish expression on her face that she has whenever I threaten to leave without telling her the story for the night. I picked up the book and opened a random page and stared at it - I couldn't see a word as the streaming tears made the whole page blurred. "Once upon a time, there was this little cute princess lost in a wonderland .... "
1 hour ago...

It wasn't worth it - it was a damned lizard and that wasn't going to do any harm. She shrieked, jumped out of her bed and rushed down the stairs. I just got out of the kitchen to watch her tumble down the steps - it all seemed to happen so slowly. I could see her tender foot miss the step by just a little, see her lose balance and reach for the wall, slip and fall from one step to the other. Soon, she stopped crying and I could see her closed eyes under a film of blood and right amidst her thick locks was a huge gash, reaching till her skull and spitting blood out with a vengeance.

Now ...

"... but our little princess was a very smart girl. She gave the beast a cold stare and gave it a tight slap .... " .. during the momentary pause between the words, I realised that the buzz that accompanied us in the hospital room had stopped and at a distance, a green spiking graph had given up its flight and was making a thin straight line on the screen. I put the book down and held the hand of my angel - she hadn't spoken a word, hadn't called me dad yet, hadn't cried before the huge doors of her school on her first day out, hadn't given her million-dollar smile in those school snaps, hadn't walked with me in the park talking of guys in 3rd grade who are interested in her, hadn't confessed her little mistakes, hadn't talked about crushes, about falling in love - hadn't left my shirt wet as she took someone's hand and walked away, never came back with a little one as sweet as her before I forgot she was like that one day. Not a word and she's left me already.

I held on to the dead meat, hoping to breathe some life into it and get my daughter back again. There was still the vague smile on her face - daddy did read her to sleep that night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Words of wisdom

Pearls of wisdom I gathered during my trip to Copenhagen - you see, traveling alone has its own set of advantages.

  • It doesn't matter who owns the BMW convertible - it's the one who drives who looks cool
  • Finding one queue shorter than the other is purely an optical illusion - you reach the counter at the sametime either way.
  • Not everyone likes smling faces - especially the guy with the metal detector looking for weapons of mass destruction between your legs
  • It's hallucination to believe that people are laughing at your blunders - the truth is, nobody but you gives a damn about what you are doing .
  • The feeling of fulfillment that you feel while driving a mercedes S class and making it wait for you to cross the road is the same. The only difference being, in the former case you have to pay for the fuel.
  • The chances of having a good conversation with a hot blonde increases 10 times if you remember to close your mouth while looking at her.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

An ode to Autumn

One of the things that I miss the most in Europe is color - Of course, splendid lush green landscapes in the country side, the Keukenhof gardens in netherlands, amazing hues of green, blue and turquoise that the waters in the atlantic and the mediterranean sea adorn are treat to the eyes. But when you are from India - colors are not a tourist attraction. They are a way of life, a standing proof of your personality and preferences.
Right from food to clothes to buildings to movie posters on walls to crackers on diwali - everthing, everywhere is splashed with colors. Watch a bustling saree shop in T.Nagar, the kitchens of a middle class household and their delicious dishes, the mehndi in a bride's palms and the bright pink suits of a bollywood super star, the flowers that my mom leaves at our doorstep on onam, her little garden in the backyard - Everything is filled with exuberant shades of pink, crimson red, orange, dark green, glowing blue - you name it.
And from there you enter the land of black and white - monochrome costumes, black-white-or-gray cars, identical flats with just a splash of red on the tiles, and an extremely unappealing cuisine served in equally uninteresting crockery (ever had food on a plantain leaf building walls to save the sambhar from slipping into the silky smooth table top of the marriage hall?). And for some reason, bright colors look slutty here - be it the fluorescent lights on shops' name plates (The sex shop outside gare du nord anyone?), the bright pink attires (that most often come in S or XXS sizes and a cigarrete between the lips) ....
Nature finally smiles on those thirsty and hungry for color with the outbreak of autumn - Of whatever I have read and remembered, autumn is always associated with pain, with dying trees and lifeless leaves, with footpaths filled with frigs and flowers that once blossomed with joy. However, I find it so extremely romantic - the rustle of the leaves under your feet, the shades of yellow matching so beautifully with the brown bark leaving little space for the green leaves that are hiding from inevitability. The lonely street lamp that doesn't glow and a park bench close by as if from out of a painting - and while you sit there and hold hands, a leaf falls from above as if sent from there to affirm the faith that the two share. The sun doesn't stare into your eye, the rain doesn't leave you soaking, the lands aren't barren yet, roads aren't wiped clean and uninterestingly professional - it's like this lock of hair that falls on her forehead and makes her look so human, feminine, vulnerable and beautiful. Carefully careless. Imperfect but so perfect.
It had just finished raining, the leaves on the roads still hold on to a few drops of rain while passing cycles break their marrow and spill them on the earth below. And just as the drops lost their lives, they sparkled for one last time as the street lamp glowed in their eyes. With a hot coffee leaving your palms warm, and you tucked under a cozy blanket, as the godfather trilogy's credits disappear in the screen ... you look out at the herd of trees and their falling leaves, at the glowing street lamp and at those crackling sounds and the trinkling cycle bells captured in the canvas - in that one fleeting moment - so many thought trains within your mind collide unto eachother and the debris splashes itself on the serenity of the moment outside and a silent emotional outburst sparkles in all colors - feelings that you cannot classify as joy and sorrow merge into an unspeakable emotion. Have you ever felt it? To call it hollowness would be dwarfing it from a pristine, profound three dimensional entity to a bland, uninteresting two dimensional caricature. I wouldn't do that - I would just wish you have been there as if being a part of something that's much bigger than what you are, as if watching all your pain and incompetence painted as a beautiful work of art - and you caught between the joy watching something so beautiful and sad at seeing your state so stark and dark.
You get out of your bed, put on your sandals and reach out for the world outside ... as the fresh wind kisses your face and the smell of mud still in the air, you stare at the horizon and walk towards it - You live.

Monday, October 25, 2004

In a coffer to Copenhagen - I

Amazing things happen to amazing people - So, what happens to me when I pack my bags and go to Copenhagen to visit a friend who stay there and leave on a lovely saturday morning for a walk through the streets - it rains cats and dogs, I forget my jacket inside and when I ask her for the keys she realizes that the keys are inside the apartment - effectively locking us out. The mobile, of course it's inside the apartment too. With such bang starts the story of my trip to copenhagen.
So, we woke her flat mates up, asked them to call a locksmith, who promised to be home in about half an hour. In this recess, my friend wanted to go buy some groceries from the supermarket and asked me to stay inside the flat so that I can open the main gate when she enters. She also gave me this huge responsibility of waiting for the locksmith to come.
Don't get me wrong - I did want to suggest that I go to the grocery store as a chivalrous gentleman while she can stay in the shade of the house. However, there were a few, very minor technical glitches -like, I didn't know what all she wanted to buy, didn't exactly know where the super market is, didn't have any danish kronos on me and most importantly, didn't have my jacket and had no intentions of wearing her jacket that was trifle too short and had a pink fur top.
Now, there were a lot of things that I could do with my back pressed against a 2 and a half feet wide door, like standing, putting my hands inside my pocket, winking at the wall and most importantly, waiting for the locksmith. Considering the sequence, you might be led to think that waiting for the locksmith is a very trivial thing to do. But it can actually be an intellectually challenging exercise coz you have to apply neural network theorems and artificial intelligence algorithms to find out who from the human population that walk by your door, is our chosen locksmith. Such thing in the hands of an amateur can indeed be a daunting task. But for me, Rathish, Son of Balakrishnan, it's all within the limits of imagination. Following are the prototypes,
Image number 1: He is this stout guy with huge biceps in a gray or faded green overalls and a T-shirt that reads "Don't fuck with Mr.No" on its back. He has this huge handlebar moustache, a big mole on his left cheek and a huge hammer in his hand.
Image number 2: He is our old uncle harry who's been a locksmith for 25 years, toiled hard to educate his son who unfortunately after his graduation got married to a rich girl and never looked back. So, our uncle harry is drunk most of the time ,is dishevelled with shrivelled skin and a bald head with a couple of gray patches around the ear. He gets easily irritated and always stares at the road below when he's walking
Image number 3: An uneventful tall lanky john - he always has a smile on his face, laughs for the most obscure of jokes, tries to be friendly while you heartlessly pray he leaves you and goes on with his business as soon as possible.
And so on and on ... like this, I was making up a story for every guy, every little girl, and every old woman who walked by my door staring at me giggling at them wondering why he/she chose to be a locksmith of all professions (you should have heard my story of child labor for an 8 year old girl with a pink ribbon on her head).
Soon, the people stopped coming and I had to find new ways of entertaining myself. I don't know whether you have ever tried this one - the apartment was facing a busroute with a lot of cars going bothways. So, the rule of the game is to maintain counters for the number of cars going in either directions. Before counting, you should place your bet on who will reach a count of twenty first. Now, you can have weights like 4 for a bus, 2 for a car and 1 for a pedestrian. And you have to treat exceptions where the car stops right before your door (in which case you have a moral dilemma of counting it in or not). Another exciting game is to predict the number of seconds a distant vehicle is going to take to reach you (The genesis of these games date back to those days in middle and primary school when I was often asked to stand outside the classroom for forgetting my homework notebooks).
well, coming back to our story, the locksmith finally came and he was short, well-built and looked pretty much like the image number 1 - except for the handlebar moustache, the height, the mole ... ok ok, I admit, he didn't look a bit like how I imagined him to be. Now, a locksmith is supposed to break locks - call my uncle, he'll come with a hammer or a huge pebble stone and break the lock into 2 in a stroke or two. This guy, had these teeny weeny instruments that he was inserting into the keyhole, spraying some white liquid inside and moving it to and fro like a key. And after a couple of minutes, guess what the door opened - and the look is reusable too. Pretty clean job,eh! He thought so too and charged us a good 125 euros for that. My uncle with a hammer would have done this for free.
Anyways, too many people have been interrupting me today and I have to go home too. Shall do the part 2 of this episode tomorrow. Ciao.
PS: Yeah, forgot to tell you. Copenhagen is a nice place.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Foret de noir and other DOAs ...

A couple of Unfinished blogs .. thought I would just compile and release them for today coz I wouldn't be writing much in the next 3 days

-------------- Monday, 18th October
Sunday evenings are bad because monday mornings are worse - what is worst are mondays after sleepless sundays. Just as I have been doing in the last couple of weekends, packed my bags and endured a 4 hour+ long journey to bliss this weekend too.
Went over to black forest, had the dessert there which by the way had nothing to do with the place and was quite inferior in terms of taste to the one in INSEAD's restaurant or Barista in bangalore.
However, heavenly scenic sights and a in-sync company made it memorable. In the end .. that's all that you need.

-------------- Wednesday, 20th October
The last 24 hours have been an assorted collection of amazing humbling experiences - My manager had come home for dinner last night and we got down to talking about books. I was giving him a modest list of books I liked and he listened to me for sometime - after about 2345 seconds, I asked him to give me his list of personal favorites. And then started a deluge of titles I have never even heard of - from quantum physics to code theories to novels to philosophy to art to Ninjas to thrillers to Pullitzer winners and Booker nominees - I quietly picked up a piece of paper and quickly made a list of titles he was talking of - one of these days, I will get the list here and make it public.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Under my peepal tree ...

Before I left INSEAD, there was this discussion on how much I talk (which by any standards is lot and is increasing in an alarming rate off late) - both in terms of content and the duration. Fast forward - and recently, someone who read my blogs commented that I write a lot, in the sense that it's too long and winding. Another comment was that, I show too much of me in my blog - which is probably true when you write blogs like this. All these finally made me understand how much talking less really helps - for one, there's a lesser chance of saying the wrong things because you talk less. For another, you really save a lot of time to do better things, like talking to somebody else for example ;)
Another interesting inference is how much we love enigmatic people - those in whose heads what's running, we have no idea . Take for example this blog . For all you know, this guy is a first grader who's practising sentences in english, or may be he's this east european traveler from Krakosia who's stranded in a terminal and practises his english between whipping some Beta-Zones ass. No! he's this super-creative, long-haired QT2 who in day time is a witty poet and at night is a Neo-lithic hacker. No offence to that guy - but one big reason for finding such a blog "fascinating" is because we have no darned idea what's running in that character's mind.
Based on such unquestionable evidence I, at this very chosen moment, have decided to look wise - from now on, I am going to look as if I am solving fourier's equations in my finger tips. Here are a few tactics I am going to follow.
1. If someone's explaining me something he's really excited about - I am going to stay quiet, raise one eye-brow and try to spell a word like "vicissitudes" inside my mind giving him an impression I am critically analyzing what he's saying.
2. If I start doing it quite often and he starts suspecting my reactions, one of those times (if he's trying again), I might go next to an open window, relieve myself and show the relief on my face as if something about what he said finally fell in place.
3. Even if I find a joke funny, I won't laugh for one. That makes him feel I have a sophisticated sense of humour. In order not to discourage him from telling jokes, once in a while, for a joke he thinks I would never laugh, I might just throw in a hearty laugh - there's an added advantage with this that, I look unpredictable and intriguing (imagine "bond .. james bond" with a glass of martini and a "I wonder what you are wearing inside" look)
4. When people are involved in an engaging discussion and an uncomfortable silence lands over the table, I start off with something like, "you know, what you told me reminds me of something I have read" and quote something from a book like James Joyce's Ulysses that I am sure, most of the humankind never understands.
5. Another thing to do is to watch movies that no one sees or read books no one makes any sense of and copy paste amazon reviews in conversations - you know, thanks to my years in Eton and oxford, I have a refined taste in literature.
6. Profess morality - have a cocky constipation look even for the best of A-jokes, sound cynical about basic beliefs and practices - in short "Be coooollllll".
7. and if ever someone makes the mistake of asking me what I am thinking, come up with something like - "Can you believe it? We denizens might actually be neighbours in this virtual world of blogs - shapeless, weightless entities merging and forming a social force in the shit hole of my closet in ambattur's second street".
Let me start with these seven commandments for now. I am sure life will suck without the bliss of blah-blahing your way to glory, but priorities man - just as a quote on the social profile of a wise man in orkut reads ...
"I think and therefore I am ..... CONFUSED"

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Virtual networks

I have been thinking about an interesting experiment - in my last post (there actually was a post in between. but that was DOA), I was asking for a couple of blog addresses so that I read them when I find time. Of course, I didn't expect a deluge of addresses - found one interesting one of the one (ew!!) - Sukus left the door number of his virtual abode. I went to his, and from there to Vasu's and to others I didn't know of. Followed this up with Chaith's blog and Sagnik's from there. Based on all these virtual tours, here's what I think.

Blogs present us an interesting way of connecting to people. There are 3 kinds of relationships that you typically find in this scenario (I already sound like an OB class).

1. Degree 1 - Weak Relationships: Where you go to a blogspot regularly and read a person's blog. Of course, the blogger has no idea that you come there quite often since you don't think of leaving a comment or trace of any kind during your visit. I am not considering the blogs you hit upon once or twice by accident, curse lord that you ever came there and leave, never to come back there again.

2. Degree 2 - Substantial relationships: In this scenario, you leave a comment on the blog, or in some cases, leave a message in the chat or in some way persist your presence in the blog. What you do is to notify the blogger that you come there often, like or enjoy what he's writing (to the point that it evoked an opinion) and take the liberty to express it.

3. Degree 3 - Strong relationships: When you leave a link to someone's blog in your blogspot so that anyone who comes to your blog, might go to the "enlisted" person's blog too. By putting the link, you somehow endorse the person's blog - the reasons why you do that might be many - like

  • You go there often and hence want to make life easier by leaving a link in your blog
  • You know him quite well and find his blog interesting, and hence leave a link there just as you would add CNN or google
  • He left a link to your blog and you leave a link to his blog.

Let's for now, leave the social obligation point number 3. In the other two cases having a link means that you share the taste of the other person. Showing this graphically would have helped me a lot (I was actually contemplating about writing an applet to prove my point. But due to lack of resources and infrastructure, the idea was skipped!). So, if everyone can put down why he or she finds the other person's blog interesting (which actually is virtually impossible) and if there are reasons apart from being acquainted with his life, it's very possible that you find

  • An interest group of people whose identity you can trust (because there's an iterative endorsement doing the rounds). This identity group can go ahead and take up activities together or start a common communication channel.
  • Another interesting possibility is when you find a group that starts with You and as you traverse, ends with You again. what you have is a closed set of people who frankly, I have no idea what you can do with. But the idea is interesting.

Coming to strong and substantial relationships, both of these give you a way to traverse from one blog to another. One thing that I did notice in most of the cases I went to is that, it's the same guys who keep commenting all the time probably because (let's face it!), only those couple of guys read our blogs. If that were not the case, and people do comment on blogs freely ... I am probably speculating too much - but apart from sheer laziness or aesthetic preferences, do you think there's a line between commenting on someone's blog and leaving a link to his blog from yours. I think so - but as of now, I don't have any data to substantiate my claim.

I was also thinking that blogger should somehow help us have a look at weak relationships (at least with registered users on whom it can have identity information). But then again, with Internet and the cookie crap, it would be hard to find out the identity of every user who checks in. That also might initiate an attitude of playing to the gallery - which will sap the fun out of the whole affair.
I have a feeling that I am leaving this idea half-baked. I want to give it sometime so that the ideas germinate - but realistically, I don't think I will come back to this again. Anyways, optimism prevails. Let me sign off.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Tears from above

Left my office yesterday with a piercing headache (is headache referred to as piercing? anyways!). Just as I got out of the building, the first rain drops kissed my lips. There are very few things in this world as pristine the first rain drops. Wanted to walk my way home so that I can get drenched completely - don't remember the last time I did that (Actually I do - stood in the rain for a good 15 minutes while at home in Chennai this june. Never realised, thanks to pollution even the rain water is polluted out there!). However, changed plans and walked by the little road from the bus stop to my apartment letting water drip from my mat of hair.

Felt good.

PS: I am trying to make a list of blogs of people I know. So, if you are reading this (I feel extremely presumptous writing this!!), and you have a blogspot, do pass on the URL, I would love to read. While I am at that, take time to go to
A million foot notes. A very nice blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

as the light goes dim ....

I am dog tired. It's been an extremely hectic day today and now my J2EE engine honked (or conked?) out. So, I might as well take sometime, pen a few words down and call it a day. Wanted to quote a story in my own words (which technically is not quoting, I agree. But I like to rewrite stories that I like, in my own words in an attempt to give life to the characters that those stories leave in me and go.). But I am too tired for that - and in such times and tone, an appropriate topic would be Jhumpa Lahiri.
I have as of now read all her works (she saved me a lot of trouble by just writing a collection of short stories and a novel till now). I am not a great fan of her work - Her words neither touch me deep down nor revolt with my inner self leaving a mark of its own in my continuous metamorphosis. So many times when I read her works, I keep asking myself why I am spending my precious time reading her books. But there's a taste that lingers on my mind after I finish, it's not strong, or distinct enough to be delicious or sharp but it's still there.
It's probably marketing - years ago, I remember reading a review in The Hindu of her work. That probably left an impression so strong that I have so far spent about a grand buying her works. Doesn't make sense. Not that I am extremely choosy when buying books but I am when I have to repeat authors (I have shunned John Grisham since Street lawyer and Arthur Hailey since Evening news - what pathetic books!).
It's definitely much more than that - There is something so soft and silky about her work - I don't remember reading words like flabbergasted, shell-shocked, blasted, nasty ... or any of these words that paint the canvas a little gorier than usual. The greatest sorrow is expressed in silence or not expressed at all. It's like the flow of a river through levelled plains - there are pebbles in the course, tiny whirlpools and occasional spurts of beauty that have not been humanly orchestrated but just happened to be there in perfect alignment. The farther you are from the river, the more beautiful it looks - take it pixel by pixel, there's not a difference between one point in the river to the other. There are no waterfalls that make your hearts race nor sinking ships for which a feline lion sings and makes you weep. But walk by its side, at peace with yourself and the work. Just as you hit the hectic highways look back and admire it glistening in the crimson light, just as serene and simple as you saw it when you walked with it.
Another person I am reminded of when I read her is R K Narayan - lucid is the word. There are no convoluted plots, no complex jargons for simple expressions. It's a simple story about simple men - Just like Jhumpa lahiri, all his characters are out the same box, each of them carved out of the same wood (middle class brahmin men in case of RKN, and bengalis settled abroad in case JL). While Rk Narayan spices his stories with his wit and sense of humour, JL relies more on an invisible pall of pain and nagging feeling of incompleteness that you feel when you are out of place to weave the canvas of all her stories.
Do read the namesake when you find time - personally, I felt the title was a misfit. But, I could relate to the protagonist a lot. It's about us - walking men by our side of the roads in zebra crossings, misplaced in the axes of space and time living life devoid of the pressures of being England's most powerful weapon, or the lonely american crusader to save the human kind, worrying about the brand of butter on their daily bread, laundry timings, falling hair, soiled undergarments and new year cards that they forget to send - loving, leaving, grieving for loved ones all in an effort to find answers to their being - much like me. So much like me.
PS: Just as I was closing thought of other books/Authors very similar in style
- Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
- Ha Jin's The Crazed
- The movie, Lost in translation

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A Linked list on Salzburg

The next few days will probably see me blogging a little more than usual - I have a continuously increasing list of things to write about including the kick boxer and the amelie poulain that I have been enquired about. And also about a lot of other things I have learnt between stops. Now that I read my last blog, I see such a compulsive influence of Jhumpa lahiri. More on her and her writing style later ....
Now, to keep up a recent promise ... a quick account on my trip to Salzburg.
The 5 things I enjoyed the most in Salzburg
1. The idea itself - to pack the bags, book the tickets on the fly, find a youth hostel, flip a few print outs and find your way to the places you decided to see a moment ago. To be surprised, disapointed, starved, sometimes even shocked, but finally fall in your bed, dead tired as a content soul is probably going to be my slogan for life
2. The ice caves - I probably scaled the longest peak that I have been to so far - half by bus, the rest by walk and a furnicular. The visibility was probably a couple of meters (If there were a sun right behind my head, I wouldn't have been able to see my shadow). There was mist all around, and when they cleared left a breathtaking view of mountains and a little village down in the valley. There were bamboo poles forming a rickety fence on a lonely, winding road that took us to the top. The ice caves themselves, at sub zero temperature, full of stalicites and stalagamites (how does one ever spell this!) formed all these wonderful shapes which as a kid, I might have made a cartoon comic strip with.
3. The public transport - amazingly breathtaking views.The glass pane next to my seat was like a magical window in the hogwarts express - like a canvas holding amazing paintings from the corridors of louvre, swapped and shifted every second minute.
4. Photography - if I have to make a list of things that I have stuck really thick to me after my trip to france - it must be F.r.i.e.n.d.s, photography and U2 in the same order. Thanks to the mates who gifted me this wonderful sony digi cam, every view is canned, lit and viewed from different angles and hues. I still have a long way to go. But there's a wish, a firefly with its flash button on, lighting up dark rooms in my lab (the last sentence has a shade of TR to it!).
5. The company - I hate such public acknowledgements. But should admit that after my trips to Corsica and Strausburg, I was again in the company that's totally uncomplicated, unsentimental and perfectly complementary to me as a person. You seamlessly shift from one topic to another, make up silly games and enjoy them without a feeling of looking stupid, adore crankiness and the pristine sense of fun that emanates out of it. Keep it Simple with a capital S.
Gotta go now - shall come back and fill this blog with other trivial details that I have to strain my brain to list.

Monday, October 11, 2004

An unaccounted piece of paper

Friday evening, having had enough with a week's work - Priya and I decided to jump in the wagon (quite literally). We packed our bags, went to the station and booked our tickets to Salzburg in Austria. Once we got there, we found a hostel to stay there and roamed around the city for 2 whole days - a backpack trip in its truest sense. I have a blog or two worth of material there. But as of now, I might just focus on one little moment of the trip, promising to return and delve into the trip in greater detail.
I have been wondering for quite sometime how to go about telling you what happened - rather than a chronological narration, let me try something different this time as I guess that would suit the situation best.
So, after two days of trekking, traveling and hectic planning, we found ourselves a seat in the plush intercity trains of germany on our way back home. Priya, after the arduous journey to ice-caves right on top of a mountain, dozed off to sleep right from the word go and I was left reading "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri for most of the trip. Just as we reached Munich, an elderly couple, who were seated a couple of seats behind, walked upto me and asked me whether I am here for a vacation. I explained to them that I work for SAP and am basically from India. "Of course, you are from India", he said as a matter of fact and asked me my whereabouts in Germany. Having been used to this level of courtesy and curiosity in Europe amidst elderly people, I obediently answered his questions while an elderly lady who must have been his wife was listening to me, smiling. And after a couple of innocous questions, he wished me good luck and walked away. Just as he left, I realised that on my table under the book was a 20 euro note.
The first time I had met the couple was when they boarded the train - they were talking between themselves wondering whether they could leave their bags in the cycle compartment (in the intercity they have a whole compartment for cycle commuters who can park their cycles and have a seat inside a spacious and sparsely-furnished compartment). I ventured and told them that they can indeed keep their bags in there and offered to help them with the bulky luggage. They politely refused and I was on my way to my seat
I was flabbergasted to say the least. But one thing I was not was happy. I had a strange feeling that the money was somehow a sympathetic gesture coz I was from India or probably because I volunteered to help them with their bags - I was not a coolie and there was no way I could take money for that. After a moment of indecision, I rushed towards them. In a couple of minutes, they would get off the train and get lost in the human river that would flood the platform through every vent in the train. They were gazing through the window into the landscape that was fast replaced by the concrete of the platform. "No offence. But I am not sure why you gave me this." I said as I was catching my breath. "Oh, I just wanted you to have a nice vacation. Nothing attached to it" they said and smiled non-chalantly. I didn't know how to take the argument further. I awkwardly stood there for an extra second, wished them bon voyage and walked away
Just as the train was leaving Salzburg, Priya and I got into a discussion about European culture and their acceptance of nudity as a form of art. We then went on to talk about our culture, the emphasis of sex and eroticism as means to divinity and went on to relate it to christianity and the social responsibilities involved with marriage. As I was having this conversation, I looked at the couple for one fleeting moment. We smiled at eachother for that split second, as if we shared a private joke within ourselves, and went on with our respective conversations.
Priya welcomed me with the same look of bewilderment and surprise that was painted all over my face. We were trying to figure out why they would have done that, she coming up with her own set of weird reasons to pull my leg, ("they probably found your gesture very genuine", "they probably have a lot of black money and want to dispose it", "they probably give such money to guys they find smart" ... yada yada). I was absolutely clueless - after a couple of minutes, they were still standing close to the door avoiding my glance deeply involved in an animated conversation. The station finally arrived and just before they got down, they looked at me and smiled - there was no sarcasm or pity there. It was a pleasant curve carved on their faces out of the knowledge that we will never be meeting again. I wanted to ask them who they were, know something, anything about them to paint this memory a little deeper. But they were gone ... never to be seen again
I went back to the conversation Priya and I were having on Indian culture - to that knowing smile, to that as-a-matter-of-fact, "Of course you are from India". Was he impressed by our cultural inclinations (too much!!)? Did I unknowingly drop a hint that I was in need of money? or say we were poor? The reason that I was from India seemed ridiculous. I am travelling in a posh intercity and am working for one of the most powerful software companies in the world. WHO doesn't take care of us nor did the flood of haiti kiss our beaches. I left the note at the same place where they had kept it staring at it every now and then. I know I didn't have to feel guilty about anything. I guess I felt cheap, hurt my ego by getting that money from them. Deep down I felt, I had to give the 20 euro note back to them coz I didn't do anything to deserve it. Just as everytime, I wanted to play the moment once again so that I can change my course of action.
As stations came and went, a dozen passengers passed by my seat staring at the 20 euro note. A swiss gentleman took the seat next to me and looked suspiciously at it for sometime before engaging in a conversation on formal nothings with me. 5 hours later, the train finally stopped at Bruschal and I had to leave. I packed my books and my ticket into my bag and promised to keep in touch with the swiss gentleman. I stared at the Euro note wondering what it really meant to me. Priya had walked in front and was waiting by the door. I took my eyes off it and started off towards the door. Just before crossing my seat, I turned, picked the note and put it in my pocket and never looked at the seat again.

Friday, October 08, 2004

A quick post-it

A quick quote by one german who's been to India recently.

"India is one country where a lot of centuries can coexist"

Let me not try explaining it - Just experience it :-)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

This one stinks!

Out of the list below, there are a lot of interesting titles that I wanted to write about (for instance, about the first kick boxer I met in real life). However, as usual it's the trivialities that win the elections for the virtual space - posters of Grade C movies that provide wholesome entertainment.
The incident in question happened today morning when I was taking the stairs to my office in the first floor along with my colleague of a fairer sex (a very important detail Mr.Watson). So, as we took the stairs, a sharp stench broke through an open door facing wilderness (see, such things happen in Germany too!). So, as usual, the men didn't seem to care while the women twisted their faces, reached for their kerchiefs and covered their noses. Just as we finished climbing, my colleague looked at me and said "I thought it was one of the guys. It's actually some ditch or something. Strange!!". What?????!!!!! What!! Some sewage tank is takin in some fresh air and because of that, the character of able young men is put into question.
Flabbergasted that I was, I asked her what made her think it was one of the guys (I know! I know! I shouldn't have. But curiosity kills Rat(hi)s(h) too!). And, she smiles and non-chalantly says, "you guys do have a habit of farting in public isn't it." That very second the social etiquette of entire menfolk went for a sachin-in-a-sharjah-cup-final six! In a split second, all men around me looked like Neanderthals walking with a club, a flowing beard full of fleas and a couple of frigs around our waist, relieving ourselves in open air and leaving a dead dinosaur behind. If you think I am overexaggerating, I don't think you understand the implications of what I am saying. If in a crowd of thousands in a bustling street, a harmless dog poops in a wrong corner, all the women in the street are going to complain within themselves that the guy (Who probably thinks he's got a good haircut today and stands a chance with the women in question) next to them, transformed his chee-chee to a gas ballon and killed a million microscopic bacteria in the air. And to his misfortune, a tight miniskirt tears around the corner and the sound effects will also be in place - and what do you know! We become a full-fledged methanol industry all because a stupid little dog had the wrong neighbour's bone for dinner.
And imagine this, in one of those weird situations when your stomach makes a noise out of hunger (or other reasons I forgot to remember), there's a good chance that you might be mistaken for "misting" the wind around a little. And you can't even get up and say to everyone, "No, no! it's not what you think. It was just my stomach showing signs" and you think you made your point while people end the sentence as " ... signs of indigestion" within themselves.
Something's gotta be done man - this is a social crusade for the unfairer sex (wonder why no one ever calls us that!). We should probably wear a T-shirt or something that reads "We stand for fresh air!". Actually, that one's too subtle. We might be mistaken for guys who pee under trees and pretend we give it manure. What about, "My closet is also my gas chamber" - No, that wouldn't work either coz some US-visa guy will read half of my t-shirt and refuse my visa on the day of the interview blaming me for wearing Pro-nazi t-shirts!
Now this is a good one - "These trousers are gas proof!" - written from one end of our bottom to the other one. Bold, verdana, 22 font. We will probably draw even a zip right through the middle and hang a lock on the loop right in the center. Much better ... think about, carrying a machine that makes all kinds of noises and play it in busy streets and shout "gotcha!" whenever an old woman gives us this "naughty boy. control your potatos" look! The advantage of the last approach is that in case we actually end up farting (now, who are we kidding! we do end up doing it most of the while!!), after sometime people mistake it for a hoax.
God, so many words on a couple of gaseous hydro-carbons. Come to think of it poetically, it's like the look you have on your face after one amazing night of love making - you look like shit coz you missed all the sleep. But it's a remainder of something so nice, delicious (sic!) and memorable. Just that in this case, it doesn't look like shit - it smells like one :-)
Post script to the whole thing, I am signing my death note - but come to think of it - The human metabolism is the same, and so is the food - Don't you menfolk get a feeling that we are credited for twice the share of gaseous cells than what we deliver while the silent killers (no pun intended!!) are from an unsuspecting character sharing the screen --- think about it :)
Post script 1.2 - I might as well save my life writing about the sophisticated tastes of women that make this place a better place to live (something that I really believe in!!!)

A belated epilogue ...

It's a busy day trust me! despite my presence here, just that there's this itch in my palm when I don't come here for a couple of days. Now when I look at what I have written below (in my previous blog), I realise it was out of the sheer excitement of blogging in a i-book that I penned a few words into my blog. I wouldn't have the time to talk about all I want to right now.

But here are the points in the agenda, things I might end up writing tonight or tomorrow most probably.
- An eulogy to a guy who was a "gone case" when born, who went to become a kick boxer and then a development manager.
- Introspection on the eternal question of "what do you want to do with your future?"
- The amelie poulain of my life
- Other road side movie posters in the ride of life.

Before I bid adieu, let me just end the account of the day I was writing about in my previous blog. After finishing that blog and watching 4 weddings and a funeral, Arun Gautam (more on him later ...) and I took on the chess software in iBook and tried beating it in at least a single game. We started playing at midnight and when we finished the last game it was 7:30 in the morning. Eventually, we never ended up beating the software, but the last game spanned 4 and a half hours and ended in a stale-mate - painfully close to victory!

Ok .. let me sign off now.
More soon ....

Sunday, October 03, 2004

the mother of all weekends

there are 4 kinds of things in the world -

1. things you don't want to do
2. things you don't mind to do
3. things you want to do
4. things you love to do
5. things that you never believe you will do

and love .. love me do! forget it ... just that i am listening to the song right now and it rhymes with what i write, right! and about the point 5 in a list of 4, i just changed my mind.

Traveling in a bus with no push back seat for 8 hours is something you don't want to do, but that's something you don't mind to do if it's worth the cause. Coming to f'bleau to meet up with friends is something you want to do, writing about it in a brand new i-book is something that you would love to do - and that too, after playing a game of golf where you accidentally put the club into the river attempting to give it your best swing is something that you would have never believed ... never ever believed you would do (both the playing golf part and putting the golf club into the river part) So, here am having been there and done it all.

there are weekends ... there are good and probably even amazing weekends .... and then, there are what immortal men refer to as oh-my-god what-a-weekend weekends. This weekend is much beyond all that - come to think of it, I can't express what I feel in so many words and transfer the feeling in bits and bits to your sensitive membranes. However, what i can probably try to do is to give you parallels that you possibly have a chance of having experienced.

have you felt

- a lump in your throat while the dying leading lady says her last words in the end of a wonderful movie while the shadows of the credits appear in the bottom of the screen?
- a sense of accomplishment when you tried your hand at a game for the first time and did well at that (till an unfortunate moment when you became the victim of a video gag!)
- a feeling of security when you are back in places you have been in and loved to be in - and walk those i-have-been-there roads again.
- as if not a day's been missed between 3 months and now when you settle in a couch and start talking to your best friend
- full at your stomach out of a feeling of a contentment though you missed your lunch
-sit and blog in your most favorite piece of technical work of art while a dozen of them buzz around you cooking your favorite dishes for you

I felt all of these on the same day within a span of 12 hours since dawn dawned through the tiny creek of the bus window and I am still in the middle of the same bliss. The place is getting too crowded for my taste - let me sign off and continue back in the wee hours of the evening in walldorf. adios!