Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I'm running out of ideas

Strange but true. My increasingly mundane and routine existence is making it virtually impossible to come up with something interesting to write about. After all, what can be posted about cooking noodles, ironing clothes, reading an oversized novel, taking the same bus to office and poring over the same old web pages?

Ajay has lent me a rather interesting occupation that's a great time killer during all those hours of boredom at work. I must say I'm addicted to it!

Well, a thought just struck me. Is this the type of life I had envisaged for myself when I was a school-goer? I think not! Being more defiant then than I'm now, I wanted to be an astronomer, an astronaut, a philosopher, a technologist, a hacker and a composer all rolled into one, a la Bertrand Russell!

Needless to say, I failed to realize even one. To salvage some ego I had to turn to computer science, the last bastion of my fast-depleting ego. It was a pragmatic decision that has held me in good stead. Lucky me, I'm the proverbial good-for-nothing fellow who couldn't have found himself any other source of sustenance.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Just published the predated post for 4th Feb.

Google Blogger Web Comments for Firefox

Google has got an absolutely fantastic extension for Firefox...and I'm in love with it. Helped me discover someone's blog connecting to my entry on Mozart! Sweet revelation!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Bought some more utensils as Santosh and I intend to start cooking full-fledged from the 1st of March. A pressure cooker will be bought within a day or two.

I was supposed to read some Java. Instead, I wasted time just reading the new novel and watching a movie. I feel real bad.

My mobile screen flashes

I hate getting calls from this person. I've listed the multitude of numbers via which the person concerned calls me, under Undesired. Muted the ringtone from these numbers. I feel guilty for being so defiant, but I really have no choice. Chatting with empty cans can be so boring.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Thinking in Java

That's the title of the book I've been reading at work over the past one week. I also intended to read it after reaching home...but exhaustion always got the better of me. Java works in a symbiotic jungle, and I'm getting lost in the technological maze.

As is most evident from my posts over the past week, I'm getting dim-witted with each passing day. I need to apply my mind on thoughts I've romanced for so long. They all seem estranged and distant now.

My disruptive and pre-dated series continues. I hope to publish posts on the events of 4 th & 5 th February within two days.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

First, I lost the window seat in our office bus. That's when I discovered the joys of sitting in the cabin and getting a pseudo-panoramic view through the windshield. I just loved it! Not having to share my seat with anyone was an additional perk. But it was too good to last for long.

So now I'm the inhouse vagabond of the bus, not knowing which place to capture the next time. I hate uncertainties.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bored Bored Bored

I check my Inbox a zillion times. Nothing comes my way, not even spam. I check the news page more often than they would care to update. Even a dentist's life must be more interesting.

My blog does its own bit in driving me to boredom. Watching a refrigerator defrost should help break the monotony.
I'll begin reading A Suitable Boy today.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Chef..Version 2

I couldn't have survived on burgers for dinner any longer. And time and again being given a veg puff each time I asked for a burger didn't help matters either. Apparently, the shopkeeper didn't know what a burger was...and wouldn't bother to learn either, I had to gesticulate with my fingers to let him know what I meant after the utterance didn't have the desired effect.

Continuing with the Bihari mess would be messy business. Their food is barely edible. So my only choice was to start cooking...and that's exactly what I decided to do! First things first, I bought a gas burner and some cookery.

My foray into the culinary world began the easy way, cooking myself some Top Ramen instant noodles for dinner. Fond memories came flooding in. Though I'm not exactly a tyro in cooking, my second coming needed to be carefully crafted and I daren't try experimenting with something too exotic. Cleaning the utensils is hardly entertaining though.

I hope to diversify in the months to come.

Finally!

My room is habitable! It had become unbearably dirty and was in an absolute mess. Really, it resembled a disaster zone. So I decided to stop procrastinating and do something about my ill-shaped room.

It called for an overhaul of sorts and Santosh chipped in some useful help. The luggage that lined my side of the room was moved, old bits of useless paper (bills, receipts, chits, covers...) placed in wastebags and disposed, suitcase and bag removed to the storeroom, important things placed in order, CDR's accounted for and my mattress given a much-needed sunbath. Then came the deplorable job of sweeping the floor...and I did it without so much as a grumble. Then came Santosh's useful contribution while I took a moments' rest by accessing the Net. He wiped the floor clean and put some finishing touches.

I was almost swept off my feet when I saw the clinically clean room! We promised ourselves to clean up once every week.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Badri calls

The bugger is back in India after a stint in the US. I had SMSed him last night to give him my number. He called me up in the office today with an assumed tone that sounded so authentically from the Al-Qaeda camps that I hung up after the salutation.

He called up again and this time I guessed it was him playing one of his many pranks. After some goading, he confirmed. The fellow is now scouring the Indian techspace for SAP professionals and wanted me to join iGate! I called him up late night to continue with some trivia...& learnt Gurdas had recently visited Bangalore to attend to some business in IISc.

Nice to hear from one of my most enduring and endearing friends!

Passport

I had submitted my passport on the 8th of Feb to the regional office in Kolkata to correct the error in my spelling. I got it back today, much to my pleasant surprise. Hats off to the guys for being so prompt in the rectification.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Met Sudhir in the cafeteria after a long time. He is into a new project at our facility and has been here for over a week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Chatting

Since people are supposed to be optimistic and hopeful today, I spent the bulk of this day chatting with most of my friends via ICQ. My IM has been acting up...apparently it's too busy flirting with AIM. It kept going offline, leaving me in the lurch.

I was also instrumental in playing a prank on one of my colleagues. It worked flawlessly! Such great fun!

My Funny Valentine

Getting a white rose from a girl was the closest I ever got to living the spirit of Valentine's Day! Sigh!

Monday, February 13, 2006

I'm Bach!

No time for lengthy forays into what transpired during my sojourn...I've only got enough time to upload 20 snaps to keep you folks happy. The elucidations & remaining snaps will be published not before the 18th-19th of this month. Sorry, but I'm really hard pressed for time besides being totally enervated.
Click here for the photos.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Convocation Day Minus One

I didn't have a good night's sleep, the anxiety didn't let me. Anyway, my train gradually approached Ranchi and my calculative mind went on a hyperdrive. Clearly all my plans were too abstruse to be of much use & I hadn't lent sufficient thought to the pragmatics of it all. The ground reality was that I was ill-prepared to handle the uncertainties that lied ahead.

My biggest vexation was regarding lodging. Should I keep my luggage at my local guardian's place and then scout for shelter at a friend's place or should I head straight for the campus and get lodged in a hostel (as was originally suggested by the institute website)? What if the institute failed to acknowledge my application for the same? What was the contingency plan? Our campus was located in a hinterland, a good 16 kms from the heart of the city. Public modes of conveyance that could help me retreat from the campus to the city were almost non-existent. Clearly, vital amenities of modern-day civilization weren't introduced to the city yet! With a tight schedule to keep, it would be too cumbersome to lug my bag & stand in unruly queues to register for the convocation attire.

I was lost in this mosaic of thoughts when our train finally pulled into Ranchi station. Ah, the familiar platform, the familiar stalls, the familiar footbridge, the familiar everything! The passengers spilled out of the train that had held them captive for over 40hrs. It was around 11 am. I called up Ujwal, he was already on his way to the campus accompanied by Rajeev. Weighing my options, I decided to take a rickshaw to Circular Road and cover the rest of the trip to the campus via our institute bus.

The rickshawwallas went hankering after the passengers. One of them had already marked me, his eavesdropping over my conversation with Ujwal must have helped him make up his mind to capture me...and he meekly approached me after I hung up. Our exchange of words wasn't brought to fruition and I proceeded a little further to another fellow who seemed to lack the ambition and zeal of the former. He quickly agreed to my terms and I quickly took my seat before he paddled our way through the well treaded streets of Ranchi. The snapshots of the city in my mind weren't much of a departure from what presently met my eye.

We finally reached our destination, I alighted and paid the man his due. I looked around at the familiar chowk and dabbled with the thought of what to do next. Things looked remarkably as they did the last time I saw them. The same chaos, the same digging , the same students, the same vendors, the same peasants, the same noise and the same filth. The traffic at the crossroads remained as disdainful of the signals as ever. They won't need the signals, they won't heed the signals. Nobody complained of the intricate maneuvers at the junction.

It suddenly struck me that the institute bus would be flooded with people as usual, & wrestling my way into it with my luggage would be a rather tall order, especially after the enervating journey. So I took an auto which readily agreed to take me to the campus (from HB Road) for a reasonable Rs.80. My good luck, I thought. I got in and was on my way to the campus, a place that contrasted starkly with the city landscape.

We entered thru the hallowed but low-profile institute gate. Within, it was all-green, all-orderly and all-academic. The distance from the gate to the main building was great, and walking all that distance (at 'full speed') would have itself taken over an hour. Called up Ujwal again as I reached the main building, disembarked and parted ways with the agreed upon amount. There, Ujwal was walking towards me! We hugged tight. Following him at a little distance was Rajeev and we went through the same motions of greetings, hugging and quizzing about each other's deeds (or the lack of them!) during the past half-a-year. Kept my luggage in Ujwal's car.

The sequence of events that followed happened so hurriedly that I don't really remember the trail. Our gang gradually got bigger as old friends were met and greeted. What a relief, I managed to book a room in Hostel #5-B. Mattresses, bedsheets, pillows, blankets, et al were provided. I was floored (literally!) by the generosity. I remember the step-motherly treatment I suffered when I had come to the campus for the first time 3.5 yrs ago. We were asked to lug our own things, including a mosquito net, electric bulb and mattress for the sake of staying overnight before the final selection interview! Anyway, all that hardship was buried in the past & I was in a great hurry to forget those tumultuous years.

After some spirited discussions on where to have lunch, we finally went to a nondescript hotel that lied just outside our campus. The menu was great, but the kitchen couldn't hold on to the promise of delivering everything printed there. What we finally compromised on I don't remember, I was too exhausted to let the little details register. Anyway, I was no longer famished after the fulfilling lunch with my old pals. We now headed once again to the main building to collect our gowns and scarves. As usual, the crowd of people there was a dampener. We had to deal with a plethora of paperwork and elaborate procedures before being able to get hold of our prized possessions. Met Santosh in the process.

Dusk seemed to have faded daylight in an inexplicable hurry. Anyway, I was all too sapped and my legs needed some rest. Took some snaps, bought a few things and met some more people on may way back to the hostel. Samir was to be my roommate for the night.

Ujwal and folks left the campus for their respective places in the city. A buffet dinner was hosted in our hostel. Scheduled for 8 pm, it began at 9. Again, nothing surprising about that. However, the excessive crowd once again made it difficult for me to enjoy myself. Santosh and I were lost in the thick wall of people that seemed to converge in on me from all directions. I decided it was better to have a half-dinner (if the term makes any sense at all!) than to negotiate my way through the crowd. Retreated to my room after that. Samir followed suit after sometime. We kept talking about how life had been treating us during the past few months.

Fatigue finally overcame me and I fell asleep at around midnight. Tomorrow's the big day!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Spent entire day in the train

Yep, that's what I did. What I witnessed at Visakhapatnam Junction pleasantly surprised me. I saw a whole team of railway workers in uniform diligently cleansing the litter between the tracks. What astonished me was that they even boarded the train and cleaned the toilets and footboard thoroughly. Must have spent 20 minutes in the effort. Their hard-at-work attitude impressed me beyond measure. In all these years of travelling via rail, I've never seen such dedication.

The rest of the day remained largely eventless. When I got tired of staring at the passing landscape, I read some Java. I calculated the schedule for the next day.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Trip Begins!

Escaping Bangalore to attend the convocation! I'm so upbeat, it's impossible to dampen my spirit. I wake up early in the morning and work at a hurried pace, charge my cell, iron my clothes, clean my bag, impregnate it with clothes, pay my rent, get a haircut, take a bath, buy some burgers...& am off!

Mani, Mantu, Anand and Santosh had already left a few days earlier, making them my envy. I take an auto to the station...the fare being a shade below Rs.60. So far, so good.

I'm in Platform #1, 'coz this is where my train to Chennai is scheduled to halt. The station looks dingier than usual. Perhaps it's because of the thick crowd that makes it impossible for me to find a decent footing. My would-be co-passengers are strewn all across and the whole place is deafeningly noisy. The overhead TV manages to grab the attention of some people.

What makes the platform doubly crowded is the fact that there are too many people who have come just to see-off their near-&-dear ones. It's one attribute almost unique to India. For each traveler, there'll be at least 2 people (often from competing camps) to ensure his loyalty! Vendors are busy selling of their cheap products. Some children cry hoarse, a man guides his dumb wife with street smart wisdom, someone bargains hard, the loudspeakers cracks into life and utters something indecipherable. Most people are dark skinned-a trait of inhabitants of South India-and ugly.

Amidst this crowd of seemingly rowdy people is a young guy trying to sell some books on Hinduism. He is very fair, in stark contrast to the others on the station, and is very humble but persistent in his approach. My eyes are fixated on this oddity. He has a shaven head and wears a warm smile. I guess he's from a religious group called ISKCON. He zeroes in on a lady, who, after some persuasion, bothers to flip through one of the books-if only to satisfy our ISKCONian. She doesn't seem convinced and returns the book. No problem, our friend moves on to another unsuspecting person.

My train finally arrives. I take my window seat (lucky me). My fellow seaters are a mother-daughter pair. Not surprisingly, at least 4 people have come to see them off. Sweet talks are exchanged, precious advise meted out, last-minute messages for other loved ones passed, coffee sipped and the bye enacted when our train finally begins to move - a good 30 minutes late, at 2:35 pm. By Indian standards, that's pretty punctual! The daughter takes the window seat opposite mine as its occupant isn't expected to arrive until a halt at another station. She's plump & pretty. Perhaps the ugliness of the other passengers and accentuated and elevated her beauty. I steal occasional glances at her until station damnation brings forth the rightful occupant of the seat.

Some children in our coach get acquainted to each other in no time and strike playful conversations, pulling their own guardians into the act. A cutie pie has an affinity for the footboard. I lose interest in the proceedings and stare out of my window. The sights are featureless but beautiful. Daylight gradually fails. Our train reaches Chennai Central. I disembark and after some moments discover that my next train (destination Ranchi) will arrive on Platform #1.

There's enough time to kill. Chennai Central is the worst among the 4 metropolitan stations, Mumbai's CST being the best. My station is unimaginably stuffy and dirty. I quickly have my burgers and arrive at my platform after dodging through a labyrinth of clumps of people. It's isolated and pleasantly-deserted. Mosquitoes torment me as I wait for my train to arrive. One good thing about Bangalore is that there are few mosquitoes. Indeed, I had forgotten all about them until rediscovering them now. With this came the horrible realization that Ranchi too is heavily infested by the blood-suckers. Anyway, I refused being demoralized.

My train arrives and I take my berth (side lower). We depart well after the scheduled time of 10:30 pm. I feel sleepy. The train pulls out of Chennai Central into the piercing darkness of the lonely night. My fellow passengers are all asleep. I peep out of the window into the naked night sky. The heavenly specks look stunningly beautiful. Most of the stars are usually lost in city light; but away from civilization, where the sky isn't polluted by artificial light, the sight can be absolutely spectacular. Everthing changes, but the heavenly patterns remain the same. I can see many familiar constellations, they look exactly as they did when I first discovered them. Only wandering planets and the rare comet betray the stillness of the nocturnal sky. They are my companions in solitude.

I wish them adieu and drift asleep.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Adios

I'm leaving for Ranchi tomorrow for the convocation. After that I'll be in Kolkata for a few days before returning to Bangalore. The schedule will be rather hectic and learning Java during my travels will be adding to the turmoil.
It'll be back to business from the 13th of Feb. That's when I'll publish some predated posts for the interim period. Expect some snaps!

Bye!

Microsoft IE 7 Public Beta

Downloaded the pre-release version of Microsoft's IE 7. It looks super cool and I just love it. It has borrowed at least one feature of the nifty Mozilla Firefox-Tabbed Browsing. The new toolbar is a great novelty and users will need some time getting used to it. I appreciate the way in which it uses space economically. I had to download and install Service Pack 2 for IE 7 to work. Lost count of the number of times I had to restart my computer. But in the end, it was worth the effort!
BTW, even Yahoo! News sports a new look!