Monday, July 31, 2006

The jewel box containing my Dexter Gordon CD was discovered broken when I came from office. Needless to say, no one acknowledged or apologized. I just wish people would stop meddling with my things, especially those that are close to my heart.
This has been a staggeringly expensive month. The expense manager tells me that my total expenditure for the month of July has been Rs12964.
I learned this morning when I came to office that there was a road accident after the Friday party that involved 3 of my colleagues. The car in which they were travelling was completely smashed. Luckily, they survived with only minor injuries.

I was also oblivious of a few unpleasant things that had happened at the party. Ignorance is indeed bliss!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blocking someone

I'm generally very tolerant when it comes to handling emails sent by people I personally know. However, one incredible person's emails have irritated me to such an extent that I've been forced to block her id from littering my inbox.

I just wish some people could cleanse their minds before communicating with others.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Multitasking

Windows may be a multitasking OS, but I really suck at being a multitasking operator. I begin to panic when the Taskbar has more than 4 tasks. I'm amazed when I find people pulling up the bar to accommodate 10-15 (maybe even more) tasks! Tabbed browsing makes life a lot simpler for me, but even that can only go so far.

Handling multiple wives at once would be simpler!

Santosh goes mobile!

Santosh finally has a personal contact number! After dilly-dallying between pre-paid and post-paid, Hutch and Airtel, stilettos and platforms (I made that one up), he now has a pre-paid connection from Airtel.

By the way, Santosh is back to his 'cooking' ways. Needless to add, I'm back to my 'great-eating' ways! The familiar sound of the pressure cooker whistling away to glory is music to my ears! To hell with Appassionata!

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Party's Over

I return &...can hardly recognize my home! Santosh has been hard at work putting things in order. The floor is clean, the shelves are manageable, the dangling switchboard is fixed, the kitchen is ridden of its litter, the sink has got a wash, the utensils are in their proper place and my room is habitable again!

Thanks, Santosh! I wonder why you never complain about the way I live!

Thought of placating myself to retire for the night by listening to some jazz ballads while strolling on the terrace. 10 minutes into the act & the batteries went dead. Sleep overwhelmed me anyway.

Party @ Confident Cascade in Pix, Vids & Words




Never again will I make fun of the colorful shoes of one of my colleagues. I wore a pair of fluorescent-orange sneakers (in keeping with an ad-hoc protocol) to office as we were slated to leave for a party after lunch that necessitated some outdoor activities. Most people had donned attires that were in stark contrast to their usual austere selves. Welcome change!

When we finally reached Confident Cascade (off Bannerghatta Rd) after a less-than an-hour's trip from office, we realized many of the recreational sources were themed around children. Anyway, there was enough to keep us adults occupied. A friend and I probed the turf and discovered camels, rabbits, ducks and lambs. There was a swimming pool, fountains, multipurpose hall, indoor games and ample fields amongst others that promised a whale of a time ahead.

The star-attraction of the party (Yuyutsa Paintball) proved to be a dampener of sorts. Paintball is an event simulating a battlefield. There are two sides, the objective of each being to capture the enemy's flag and bring it back to the base without being shot by paintballs-small balls colored edible oil that are shot through a specially crafted gun. The balls were supposed to explode and spill the color on hitting the target, thereby eliminating him/her from the contest.

Eight teams were formed and each team was supposed to come up with a war cry (to what end, I'll never know). Ours sounded like canine cacophony, the type you get to hear when a pack of stray dogs is suddenly stoned by imps! The other teams borrowed war cries that sounded more like political slogans or punchlines from slick advertisements. Luckily enough, the cries were never needed, otherwise our vocal chords would be in shreds!

Ours was one of the first two teams to participate. Unfortunately, the gears were a hindrance. The masks clogged vision, the guns were too heavy and functioned erratically, the battlefield was too large, the wind swayed our bullets and we were often clueless about the fate of a mate/enemy. I guess all the uncertainties added to the fun! One particularly adorable lady looked like an oversized mutant bunny that had taken up arms without a cause!

The paintballs often failed to explode & consequently the warriors often refused to die. The shooter cried hoarse, but generally to no avail. Chaos and friendly arguments ensued until someone would arbitrate and quell the dispute.

I survived the first round. In fact, my entire team remained stainless! It was only during the second round that I attained martyrdom when an unmarked !@#$& opponent's bullet splashed paint on my side (near the ribs), a region unprotected by the jacket. Ouch, it hurt! I was lucky, some people had to suffer the ignominy of getting the oil inside the mouth. It literally left a bad taste. Someone was rumored to have bled because of a hit, highly plausible. I left the battlefield without a dispute, but not before donating my surplus bullets to a guy who had yet to fall. We lost the second round and that waned my interest.

The onlookers (other teams waiting for their turns) were hooting, shouting, screaming, egging and misdirecting those on the battlefield. Many who lost interest, left. Their respective places were readily occupied by zealous members from other teams willing to offer their services as 'contract killers,' and such hit men were in great demand as original members were in short supply. Such hippie styled killers floated around from team to team with gay abandon!

The hiring and firing couldn't retain my interest for long & I left (my honor still intact). Had some snacks to suppress my mounting hunger pangs. It was nearing evening by then and before long all the die-hard warriors had returned. Indoor games now kicked in and I played the most profound war game of all (Chess) against Racha. The duel was evenly poised until Racha's pawn promotion to a queen was enough to screw my king. Another game was begged for, but I politely declined.

The dance floor was getting ready in the meantime and as usual Shalini was its prima donna. She had already managed to have 3 dress-changes by then! How does she manage to pull off this incredible feat each time we go to a party? Beats me! Anyway, she was her usual zestful self and coaxed the others to join her on the floor. Some finally acquiesced to her constant persuasions.

Dinner was finally served and I dug in with the zeal of a starved lion. Loved the mutton, but the ice cream tasted more of ice.

It was finally time to leave. One slightly tipsy chap was discovered to have gone limp at his limbs and had to be supported by others. The cabs and shuttles were soon pressed into service, though not before there was utter pandemonium on how to group the people. This has become standard practice and I'm sure some amount of pre-planning would help greatly reduce the confusion. Anyway, some guys showed great aplomb in setting things in order.

Reached home safe and sound. So what's my verdict on the entire experience? Well, it wasn't the best party we've had, but it was certainly more than enough to break the monotony that had begun to set in at work. We deserved the respite and got it in full measure.

Here's looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yeah, Santosh has reached home safe & sound. His train journey lasted more than 60 hours!

Now that my exclusive access to the Net @ home is a thing of the past, the number (or length) of blog posts may significantly decrease. It's really a boon in disguise. I need to apply my mind on other things.
Can't keep my eyes open. So leaving 'early' @ 6!

Santosh is back in Bangalore...

...though he has yet to reach home. Santosh's train arrived at 1 am and he decided to spend the dark hours in the waiting room. He called me up at 6:50 (a femtosecond after the morning alarm) to ask me to keep the extra key with Mantu.

Must be home by now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Detoxification

After a day that was spent in my being ridiculed (SAP crap), I returned to get an urgently required detoxification via Eclipse. I've really forgotten much of the IDE Workspace, but coding a few lines in Java was all that I needed to lift my sagging spirits. I love the open & all-embracing nature of this language. Java is not just a language, it's a philosophy.

My code is massacred

It works flawlessly, but my scant respect for adhering to standards has landed me in trouble. I now have to be a disciplined conformist. Though I can see creativity being butchered, all this conformism is a necessary evil and I must appreciate its merits.

Where's Santosh?

He was supposed to show up today after a month-long vacation.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Point Taken!

Dear Deepanjan Nag
Your post "Boiling an Egg" was a hilarious post and I must admit me being a biology student I do not remember the air sac in the egg. Nice tip. It was a blog that kept a smile on my face and it turned into a grin by the end of your adventure with the egg. Your manner of writing is very interesting and refreshing though I do pity the vessel my sympathies are with you. Do write something creative or on current affairs too as that would give me a chance to feature you as I definitly think you can write a good gripping piece. Do consider my tip.


Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxxxx
Sulekha Blogs Team


As usual, privacy concerns force me to conceal the identity of the writer.
I must buy some more sleep. Was supposed to get up at 6:45 this morning...woke up at 7:21 instead.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fading Freedom

Ah, the joys of solitary living are short lived! You can be as dirty as you want, touch yourself wherever you want, eat as much as you want, sleep as much as you want and surf as much as you want. I now understand why a man is in a sullen mood when his wife returns after being at her parents'! I've thoroughly enjoyed the extra space created by Santosh's absence during the past month, but it's now time for me to relinquish all the fun. Not that Santosh has been guilty of robbing me of my space...still, there's an innate sense of detachment and unaccountability when you have the entire place to yourself.

It was during my trudge back home after office that I decided to celebrate my new found (& soon to be lost) expertise in cooking anda bhurji (the reign was a monopoly), tired though I was after yet another nearly 12-hrs of work. Bought a loaf of bread, was overcharged by a Rupee. Bought onions, was overcharged by a Rupee. I was too exhausted and too famished to protest. Reached home, put on the PC, launched some streaming audio, completed some chores and began peeling, washing, chopping and frying the onions. Added chili powder & some arbitrary spice, eggs, chili & spice again, swirled them vigorously...and I was all set to dig in!

Began surfing and chatting with Sreya while simultaneously having dinner. Our conversations generally last upto the wee hours of the morning...unless otherwise aborted by a disconnection of the Net, which is quickly followed by an exchange of apologies via SMS. And this is exactly what happened tonight!
------------------------------(next day)-------------------
Anyway, spent some time watching Just for Laughs on YouTube. The videos are absolutely hilarious and I've grown completely addicted to them. Ironed some clothes and went off to sleep.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Last.fm just keeps getting better & better.

Getting frustrated

The quality of my blog is plummeting & I just don't seem to have an antidote for the problem. Don't know what's ailing me, but I'm getting increasingly desperate to get out of my present situation...and that seems to be bearing down too heavily on me.

I feel like a loser again, my dreams have all been shattered.

The 10th std Autograph Book

Ya, it was such great fun. We had grown up together and now it was suddenly time to go separate ways into the unknown. For much of our lives we had known little other than the daily school routines. Most folks (I guess) liked coming to school, I hated it. Mondays were the worst. The day seemed unimaginably long. The eighth (& final) period seemed nowhere in sight and the periods seemed to trudge through the day without any sense of urgency.

The short-break offered me some respite and hope of eventually escaping for home. The two periods after that brought in old sentiments..of never breaking the shackles of academia. Lunch was like nirvana: 40 minutes of bliss out of which 20 were spent in talking, playing and scheming against classmates of the rival gang. It was great fun! And we had only 3 more periods to go before we were through for the day. There was indeed hope!

We felt dreadfully sleepy immediately after lunch. The swirling fan drowned whatever silly ramblings the teacher would venture into. Daydreaming about the pretty girl in class becoming famous some day was what hogged my powers of imagination. I'm pretty sure the other pupils had thoughts very similar to mine.

Of course, we ran through this routine for many years and as we evolved, so did our thoughts, our feelings, our dispositions and our priorities. We had all grown up under the same environment, the same teachers, the same punishments, the same giggles, the same influences and the same routines. It was hard to let go of all of that in one swift severing of ties we had failed to acknowledge had bonded us together. The autograph book surfaced all of a sudden and we found people furiously scribbling notes for each other. I bought my own, and circulated it. I got to write my own stuff on the books of others, some silly, some straight from the heart and some outright squeezed out of nowhere when I fell short of words.

Of special significance was the little episode that took place when my book finally reached my love interest! Mysteriously, it disappeared and couldn't be traced! Bads (one of my best friends) managed to cull it out of her (I guess) and literally forced a generic note out of the lady of my dreams! I feel so sorry for her: she faced so many embarrassing moments simply because she had unintentionally managed to grab my interest! Wonder where she is now.

My book is carefully preserved to this day. I seldom go through it. But when I do, old memories come flooding through. Memories of my wonder years!

(I was reminded of the silly rants & raves while penning my own thoughts for Anand's autograph book today.)

Anand departs...

for Malaysia via Chennai. One tends to recall only the nicer and memorable things on such occasions, but Anand is the sort of guy who'll grant you with nothing but pleasant memories. No filtering required.

I came across Anand during our very early days in BIT. He was an exceptionally reticent and obedient guy who would go to great lengths to avoid grabbing attention. Surely enough, most people who didn't know him ell enough would tend to give him the miss. Fight your way in and you'd come to know how wonderful a guy he truly is.

I got my chance during the placement period in our institute. I can still recall how a bunch of guys had spent the night after an interview in a hostel room. There wasn't enough space and Anand had taken pains to see to it that we weren't left in the lurch. We woke up in the morning to discover that the only one inconvenienced was Anand himself! I never got to say a sorry to him.

It was sheer luck that brought us together in Bangalore. Discovering old pals from BIT was exciting in itself, but Anand being one of the 'lost & found' pals has a very special place in my heart. We ended up being next-door neighbors and what an experience it has been! With Anand around, we had our own in-house tech guru. So no matter what ailed our computers, Anand was always there to solve the problem-be it setting up the LAN, working on Linux or a general query on Java.

Anand has had his share of struggling to do, but I've never seen him fret or turn despondent. He was one guy who never lost sight of his priorities and worked diligently towards realizing them. The labor finally bore fruit and it tasted so sweet!

Adios, Anand! You deserved it!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Washed!

My clothes have finally got the wash they so urgently deserved after a week's aquatic existence!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Indian Government Lifts Ban on Blogs

I can breathe easier now! I wonder what the GoI has managed to achieve by the censorship. All we've proved to the rest of the world is that we can easily do a China!

I had gained access to my blog via a site (besides Google's proxy servers) that was set up by a bunch of Pakistanis! I remember my thanks being acknowledged by someone from across the border. If this doesn't prove how the Internet is spearheading a borderless society, I wonder what does.
The end of the nation state is inevitable. I love it!
Thanks to Slashdot and Google Groups for leading the reprisal.
People React.
Government Speaks.

The kitchen bulb's busted

Ya & it has been this way for the past 3 weeks! I forget to buy a replacement while trudging home after work. On weekends, I go out only during the day...when there's no need for the bulb (helps me forget about it)! And anyway, the tubelight from my room floods much of the kitchen.

Here's a confession: I hate blue lights. It cheapens the ambiance.

Shiva Kumar

Had a nice long chat with Shiva, one of my school friends and neighbor. God it must be more than 10 yrs since we last spoke! He's currently in Infosys and works from Scotland. I was surprised to learn that he was with my present employer until a few years ago. Another surprise: Feona is here too, probably working from a different facility.

It's a small world!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Zoya leaves India today. I already miss her.

Anand leaves for Malaysia in a few days.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

SOS

My clothes are still unwashed!

Blogspot Blindspot

Isn't it exciting when someone desperately tries to stifle your right to freedom of speech and expression...and fails miserably? We're increasingly living in a borderless world where old barriers are crumbling down, though the labor pains are sometimes frustrating.

Blogging happens to be one of the most potent instruments of self-expression, something that doesn't always add comfort to the political fraternity. Indeed when the ruler is scared of the ruled being opinionated, the archaic weapon of censorship is invariably put into action. The Indian administration (which itself is most in need of some sensible administration!) felt threatened by blogs, particularly the ones hosted by blogspot and typepad. Our government had reason to believe blogs were being used by terrorists to carry out anti-national activities. Wow, I must say our stupid politicians are getting increasingly tech savvy, at least they know about blogs!

But as the adage goes, little knowledge is a dangerous thing! The government swiftly issued an order to ban traffic from certain domains, and ISP's have gradually begun complying with it. But isn't it obvious that the 'terrorists' could and would easily resort to using other domains to communicate...or use emails and IM's to achieve the same objective? How much does it cost to register a domain and put up a site? Contrary to what the government thinks, blocking access to certain domains being supposedly used (if at all) for subversive activities is actually creating a blindspot on something that may be a source of potential trouble. The administration has simply nipped in the bud when it had the golden opportunity to lay a trap on miscreants or at least increase vigilance on such people. There have been numerous incidents of hackers being caught after boasting of their exploits in chatrooms. The FBI has frequently used the Net as a bait to lure pedophiles into traps from which there was no escape. Imagine what would have happened if the Indian politicians took over control of the US Congress. They would have banned all chatrooms! Classic Ostrich Syndrome.

Having said that, let me add how impotent the censorship is turning out to be. It's too easy to circumvent the access denial. The 'terrorists' will obviously take to this alternative route with effortless ease and it's only the thoroughly benign blogs that will have to suffer the iron curtains of censorship. Let me also add how happy I am to see people gathering force to challenge the government on the ludicrous ban. I fully endorse the way the Indian blogging community is beginning to confront many administrative policies. It's also nice to know the recently passed Right to Information Act being pressed into service by indignant bloggers who want to know the exact nature of the ban, which has until now been kept strictly under wraps. These are testing times for Indian polity!


Addendum:
How well does India fare when it comes to freedom of the press?
Find out! And you thought we were a free country! I guess blogs are too much for our endangered politicians to stomach! Let's work towards making these semi-literate elitists extinct! We could import foreign rulers. They wouldn't be this pathetic!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The imaginary race

I remember how as kids running was one of the greatest pleasures of life. It's a distinctive perk of childhood, the pleasures of which are mysteriously erased as we gradually grow up. Running against friends was the simplest sport known to us. Seeking competition in this delightful activity was always on our minds and we would be ever willing to participate. Finishing last would puncture some pride...but only momentarily. Running wasn't always an option though!

Sometimes, we had to slow down to a walk! But even then, walking slower then others (especially strangers) wasn't acceptable. If I found someone walking in the same direction as mine, I would just no allow him to walk faster than me...especially if I wasn't accompanied by anyone. So I would often break into an impromptu competition if I so willed. The idea was to 'defeat' a stranger walking in the same direction, who was already ahead of me. He would become an unconsenting and ignorant participant in my figmented race; the object being to cross an imaginary line or landmark first. Needless to say, I won such 'competitions' with ease. It was such sheer joy. And the participant wouldn't even be aware of losing! How pitiful!

I recalled the feeling tonight as I was walking back home after a hard day's work. This kid walking a few feet away from me was perhaps drawn into one such competition of his own...cause he suddenly gained momentum and we were now walking at neck-&-neck speed. We momentarily glanced at each other, as if to acknowledge the rules of the game through telepathy. I accelerated & so did he. I lengthened my footsteps, he fastened his. Okay, he was in for some competition! I wouldn't allow defeat, not after all these years of starvation from the magical feeling.

The race ended a little after he gave up, probably because a cyclist was headed his way. The kid realized I was the wrong guy to compete against. I won. The victory was minor, but the feeling was great!

Thanks, pal! I wish you better luck next time!

Experiments with clothes

  • Do clothes dissolve in water if left there sufficiently long
  • Do clothes begin to eventually ferment
  • Can designer undergarments make a fashion statement
  • Just how strong can clothes stink

These are the facts I hope to unravel in the immediate days ahead. I've done what no man has done before: allowing his neglected garments to adapt to aquatic life by leaving them in wash buckets sufficiently long.

Of course, the original idea (simply washing my clothes) was far more benign and mainstream. It was on last Saturday that I finally decided to give my most neglected clothes a thorough wash. I dropped them all in soap water in a bucket and planned to do the rubbing, scrubbing and wringing a few hours later. The water had turned opaque as soon as the clothes were added, something not out of the ordinary for me.

The hours ticked by but I couldn't muster enough courage to approach the bucket. Let them stay there a little longer, I reasoned. Day turned into night, but I remained as lethargic as ever. The next day dawned with a fresh opportunity...& the opportunity tuned stale by dusk.

Monday and today kept me busy (with work) and SAPped by day end. I still don't have the will nor energy to do the washing. Why can't someone take pity on me and do the cleaning on humanitarian grounds?

To add to my woes, one of the shirts bleeds color (green) real bad. An undergarment that was originally white and that had turned pink in patches on account of a bunch of hooligans playing Holi (crap) has now been further assaulted by the bleeding green. Even Armani would be hard pressed to come up with such a riot of colors. I'm sure Elton John would pay a fortune to take possession of it. Now if only I could contact him.

I need amnesty from the routine torture of washing clothes. Please don't suggest the dhobi. I have something against them. Maybe all I need is a motivation guru.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Boiling Eggs

I'm surviving on junk food (courtesy Haldiram) tonight, not that I don't have an alternative. I've survived this way since long. One of the best alternatives Nature has endowed us with is the humble and unsung egg. I mean, look at the variety of things you can do with this wonder product. Even the greatest fool can boil an egg! I guess one of world's worst kept secrets is how bachelors can prolong their singlehood by simply surviving on a steady supply of boiled eggs. Had eggs never been invented in Nature's cradle, I'm sure more men would have to tie the nuptial knot a lot sooner than needed...which would have indeed been a shame!

I've had my share of flirting with the egg. I guess I learned how to boil one way back during my school days. When hunger pangs would hit a peak during adolescent years, all I had to do was raid the refrigerator for eggs and then boil & eat them, mom's services weren't required. Sweet will was never so sweet, especially when it so readily and instantly served to satiate my appetite.

My scientific temper wasn't about to leave the egg without its touch of ingenuity. Boiling an egg may be simple, but you could apply some scientific knowhow to accelerate the task. There's an air sac that lies at one end of the egg, a fact known to all school kids who've ever managed not to sleep through Bio class. Boiling the egg leads to an increase in the volume of the albumin and yoke, an event that necessitates the trapped air being gradually permeate through the shell. Force the air to stay in and you'll never get a boiled egg (I'm not too sure about this postulate)! Quickly letting the air escape leads to the egg being boiled a lot quicker. This can be accomplished by puncturing the shell right over the air sac with a pin or needle. Let the boiling begin and see the air escape through the puncture! It looked so beautiful and I would spend countless moments looking at the stream of bubbles! Care must be taken not to puncture too big a hole as this would allow the water to gush in.

This was my way of boiling eggs even when I left home for Pune. Eggs often became the mainstay of my diet and I would never tire of them. One minor accident still remains fresh in my mind. I would almost always go out in the evening to Lakdi Bridge, to a roadside bookstall that specialized in 2nd hand books and magazines. You could discover priceless material only a fortnight or month old. To top it all, they were dirt cheap. My roving pair of eyes would always manage to latch on to something interesting. Reader's Digest and National Geographic were my absolute favorites.

On one such evening I left home for yet another trip to the stall, a good 30 mins away if I walked at a brisk pace. I don't remember if I bought anything that evening, but it was during my return trip that I suddenly realized, much to my horror, that I had left home without switching off the heater, seated proudly atop which was a vessel containing...you guessed it right,eggs!!! I ran as fast as my legs would carry, hoping the worst hadn't happened. But what was the worst that could have happened? I wouldn't allow my wandering mind to wander that far!

I reached home, unlocked the door, opened it, and...saw nothing but opaque blue ahead of me! Opaque because all the water in the vessel had evaporated long ago; the eggs had boiled, over boiled and vaporized to fill the room with thick fumes. The vessel was actually incandescent! The odour was unbearable but I had to stay in to clear up the mess. How I prayed my landlord wouldn't stray his way into this disaster zone! My room was no cooler than a blast furnace!

Oh, the opacity was blue because the tubelight was still on! I quickly switched off the heater, removed the vessel and disposed off my nearly-extinct eggs. Now how could I rid the room of the thick fumes that were too stubborn to go away on their own? My brainwave didn't fail me! We had 2 table fans. I placed one at the window to force outside air into a room, while the other was placed at the exit door of the other room facing outside, to act as an exhaust. I put the fans on simultaneously and saw the exhaust furiously shooting a jet of smoke outside! Sealing all other vents to the room, I now put off the lights and waited for the rooms to be cleared of all the extraneous gaseous contents. The wait lasted more than an hour but the air circulation did the trick! Thought there were still some faint traces of what had actually happened here only a few hours ago, few could have imagined its magnitude!

My room was inhabitable again! Thankfully, no one came to know of my little misadventure though I had to volunteer telling the truth to Kaushik (my roommate) who was absent when all the drama unfolded! It was his glowing vessel after all!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

It breaks my heart to break your heart

But I must. Please forgive me. I know I may be making one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

I'll go crazy!

Santosh's highly eccentric PC has been spawning Desktops out of nowhere. Each time I boot, there's a fairly good change that an entirely new and virgin Desktop will be presented to me. Worse still, some of my mp3 files have been corrupted, some mp3 folders have disappeared altogether and even Windows Media Player vanished into the twilight zone.

I had to create a Guest Account and things are okay now. But for how long?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mom has bought a Sony Wega TV.

Dexter Gordon Revisited


Dexter Gordon on saxophone, Herbie Hancock on piano
from the movie Round Midnight

Circa 1991, I took the Calcutta Metro from Rabindra Sarobar to Esplanade. I just had to visit Symphony, a very famous outlet for music cassettes. Looking for something on Jazz, I encountered 'The Best of Dexter Gordon.' I loved Jazz, I loved the tenor saxophone, I loved the feel of the cassette! So I bought it.

Little did I know that this little buy would soon become my favorite cassette, particularly for one of the tracks-Tanya-which I still consider the best Jazz composition ever. I would listen to it over & over again. One of my cousins had a minor altercation with me and decided to seek revenge by cutting the tape, since he knew very well how much I loved it! To this very day I've not been able to forgive him for his dark act.

The tape was somehow glued. I played it so often (after returning to Jamshedpur), it was worn ahead of its time! I was helpless and couldn't do anything about it. I even got it dubbed, but we somehow misplaced it. I looked for a replacement without any luck. Time finally took its toll and the cassette became almost unusable.

Imagine how overjoyed I felt when I came across it (now in CD) today @ The Forum! Tanya was still there, all of 18 mins of it! I bought it, coupled with Dexter's Ballads. The 2nd CD too turned out to be an excellent buy.

The 2nd Calling (but this time failing)

Zoya messages me (15th, 1:59 pm)
Hey deep! Its zoya. My friend and i are on our way to forum and will be there for some time. Let me know if ur free and can come by.

I message Zoya(15th, 2:02 pm)
Am a bit busy. Wil b @ forum anyway in the eve.
Wil meet if u r stil thr!
Plz dnt mind my being so rude!

Zoya messages me (15th, 2:10 pm)
Hey not rude at all! No problem! Just let me know when u get there. Have a great day:-)

I message Zoya(15th, 5:01 pm)
Wil b @ forum in 20 mins

Zoya messages me (15th, 5:04 pm)
Aww we left already

I message Zoya(15th, 5:05 pm)
Thats ok. I was supposed 2 com anyway!
Hav a blast of a time!

Zoya messages me (15th, 5:06 pm)
Thanks, you too!

I message Zoya(15th, 9:23 pm)
Yo Zo! Missed u real bad @ forum! I'll giv u a call 2morow morn.

Zoya messages me (15th, 9:29 pm)
Ya too bad we didnt get to meet again. It was a pleasure the first time! Talk to u tomorrow.

Dhyani visits

We met after a long hiatus and exchanged many office anecdotes. It's heartening to know that SAP makes not just your life miserable, others are there to share your plight too!

Ah, the weather was unusually pleasant and the walk to HDFC Bank wasn't tiring at all. Standing in the long queue, though, was. 3 ATM's, and only 1 was working! And this wasn't an offsite facility. Anyway, the LIC office wasn't crowded at all, much to my surprise. The last time I was there, the place was so crowded I had sworn never to visit it again.

I closed my corporate account in HDFC Bank today. The account was never used.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Santosh calls from Jhanjharpur

He'll be leaving for Bangalore on the 24th of this month. Strangely enough, I didn't miss him one bit...except for when it was time to cook! I know I'm mean!

Having the entire room to myself is such great joy!

Nice feel

It was a cul-de-sac. Work wasn't progressing for a long period and I was getting increasingly worried. We finally hit upon the culprit: a syntax error in the source code. The interpreter didn't trap it and we were totally stumped with the outcome.

It's funny how missing variable names can cause such a serious derailment.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mantu's bought a bike.
I'm trying hard to contact Zoya...but her mobile seems to be out of range yet again. This is frustrating.

BTW, I'm back to using Firefox. I've just downloaded FF Beta 2.0 and it seems to be great. The online spell checker is a beauty.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Feels nice!

Dear Deepanjan,
We are glad to inform you that we would like you to be one of the short listed candidates for the competition organised by DNA Me because we feel that you have showcased your talent for creative writing in your stories time and again. We would like to have a 3 line bio about yourself, your postal address and contact number at the earliest so that we can go ahead with the process of the competition. We will also require you to write to us after every post that you send in that the story is your original piece of work and if found to be anything but so you and only you will be held responsible. For more information do access the link http://sulekha.com/me/ or do get back to me with any queries you might have and I will be glad to help. This is a one time activity because we need the information for archiving purposes. So even if you have already sent us the information in the past kindly bare with us and send it again.

Regards,
Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxxxx
Sulekha Blogs Team
---------------------------------------------------------
Just what I needed at the end of an exhausting day to pep me up! I guess the Sulekha Blogs Team has overestimated me. Still, nice to know I'm not entirely worthless!

Namrata's Belated B'day Bash!



Monday, July 10, 2006

The Prolific Bunker

I used to hate going to school. The emotional cycle had a period of precisely one-week. I used to feel down in the dumps on Monday mornings...but as the week progressed, my gloom would gradually diminish. Friday evenings were the best: 2 days of no-going-to-school to follow. I felt on top of the world!

Getting out of bed on Mo(ur)nday morns was the weekly tragedy I never really got used to. I would come up with countless imaginary illnesses and beg Mom to let me bunk school for the day, a mission often accomplished. Of course, facing the music from Dad in the evening was a danger that loomed large.If my school ever came up with the Prolific Bunker's Hall of Shame, I would be one of its most obvious and illustrious inductees!

College was a nice respite. I was away from home and atteding classes was the exception rather than the rule. I'm yet to learn who my English teacher was supposed to be! And I was in thick company now, so the feeling of guilt was almost comletely gone. Attending classes had one very alluring incentive though: getting to watch the pretties babes in town. Fergusson College had no derth of them and we sometimes consented to suffering the long and boring lectures just to help ourselves ogle at the pretty lasses.

Then came professional life. You are no longer allowed to sit passively at your place; instead, they expect you to actually work. How insulting! Well, the old Monday morning blues has returned to haunt me. It's the same feeling of supreme melancholy that gradually ebbs as the week progresses, the same feeling of exultation on Friday nights and the same resurgence of sombreness over the weekend.

If I ever spot a well on a Monday morning, I swear I'll jump into it.

A Failure

Close on the heels of DRDO's Agni 3 missile failure came the turn of ISRO to shoulder its load of woes. Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle was the culprit vehicle. Insat 4C was the precious payload that never made its way into orbit.

Well, success is failure turned inside out. I'm sure we'll learn from our mistakes and forge ahead.

2006 FIFA

Italy beats France for 4th World Cup title.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Why it means so much to me

I’m almost as familiar with Willis Conover's voice as I am with Dad’s. Conover’s legendary Jazz Hour on VOA was a source of unfailing inspiration to people from all over the world and carried special significance to East-Europeans living under oppressive Socialist dictatorship. Jazz Hour was one of the subtler weapons used by the US administration to promulgate its Capitalist vision and the famed American Dream.

I had been listening to JH probably from the day I was born! I vividly recall Dad putting on the radio at around 7:30 pm on Saturdays. We waited excitedly for the valves to get heated as the tuner gradually hummed into life. The tuner knob would have to be adjusted to the precise location to pluck the right signals from the airwaves. This was no easy task as the wavelength (I forget its exact frequency since we located by the relative position of the pointer, not the absolute frequency) was heavily congested and we had a trying time reaching the precise position. All too often we found unwanted signals intruding into our listening pleasure. We would have to constantly keep adjusting the knob. I didn’t realize it then, but I now feel there was magic in this little forced ritual we had to break into every now and then!

Anyway, Dad’s work would sometimes deprive him of the opportunity to listen to JH. I guess it was circa 1995 when on one such JH, Dad had to work in the evening shift. There were many more JH’s he missed, but I guess this one was the costliest.

That same year, Tony Bennett had released an album titled ‘Here’s to the Ladies,’ a compilation of 18 vocal standards dedicated to 17 legendary female vocalists. This album went on to win the Grammy, although I don’t know under what category. Willis Conover dedicated the said JH to reviewing and playing selections form the album. I had never heard of Tony Bennett before, and I wasn’t really much of a fan of vocal Jazz. Jazz, to me, was only supposed to be entirely instrumental; no room for the voice here-I reasoned. That’s the idea Dad commonly held and I just found it convenient to imitate his!

Bennett proved me so wrong! Never had I heard vocal Jazz so mesmerizing, so paralyzing, so overwhelming, so Spartan and yet so out-of-the-world. I was held absolutely enchanted for the full hour as Conover’s baritone introduced the selections. I guess it was the most unforgettable musical experience I’ve ever had. I deeply regretted Dad missing out on music so beautiful. I remember waiting eagerly for him to arrive late that night. The wait seemed so long and unyielding! When Dad finally returned, I told him all about what had just transpired and also promising him to buy the CD some day. Dad shared my enthusiasm. We discussed Bennett so many times after that. Dad, unlike me, was well acquainted with Bennett and I got to learn a lot more about my new Jazz guru!

Conover had informed that the album was released under Columbia records, a Sony brand. I knew the chances that I would chance upon my dream CD were very slim primary because Columbia records were rarely available in India. Adding to my woes was the fact that Indians hardly had a taste for Jazz. Marketers knew this well enough and would perhaps never bother to import the CD here. I clung on to my hope and never gave up my search.

The search lasted 10 years! I had moved heaven and earth but couldn’t find it. Even Indian shopping sites failed me, though you could find enough of the likes of Michael Jackson & Britney Spears. It was then that I decided to give up on the chase and import the CD directly via Amazon along with a few more albums. The order was placed, but soon cancelled on account of a snag.

I visited Landmark @ The Forum yesterday, accompanied with Subashish. My customary stopover at Landmark is where the Jazz and Classical CD’s are kept, a place avoided by almost everyone else! I was browsing through the collection when I came across the section dedicated to Tony Bennett. At once my mind raced back to the incident that had happened 10 years ago. I didn’t really expect to come across the album I was looking for, since I had already browsed through it on innumerable occasions previously and hadn’t met any success.

Imagine how ecstatic I was when I finally got to see what must have been a divine sight: the album ‘Here’s to the Ladies’ neatly placed between others!!! There was no question what I had to do next: buy it! I could hardly wait, but wait I did since not browsing through the Classical albums was unimaginable. Guess what, I now came across 2 more albums (Beethoven's) that I was looking for for years! Ended up buying all the 3. Which one was the most precious? Now that’s a silly question to ask!

Willis Conover passed away in ’96.
Dad breathed his last in ’04.
Tony Bennett is luckily still with us.

My only regret is that though I’ve finally kept my word, Dad has once again missed listening to the album. And no matter how long I wait this time, he’s not coming back.
Dad, I’m so sorry for being late.

(I've been listening to 'Here's to the Ladies' as I write this testimonial. The music doesn't fail me, though the magic does. Not a fault of the album though.)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Music sounds better in winter!

I remember how as a kid I used to be a very intent and serious listener to music. If I ever put on a cassette, the only thing I would do for as long as the music flowed was just carefully listen to it- no room for anything else.

Extraneous noise distracted and irritated me immensely and that’s why I would shut the window, not wanting outside sound gaining entry. Also, the fan was switched off since it was a major source of annoyance for me. All this was okay during winter, but sweltering summers made me pay the price dearly! I would sweat; something that didn’t bother me much-though it was a matter of great concern to my folks.

The other thing that bothered me was the inherent ‘hissing’ property of all audiocassettes. No matter how great the recording, turn up the volume and you’ll surely be introduced to that supremely omnipresent hissing. I so wished we could have recordings that could completely do away with this anomaly. Dolby-B Noise Reduction was a vestigial solution to the malady. Cassettes so proudly flaunted being DBNR enabled!

CD’s answers my prayers, though I had to wait for many years. The audio quality now is so much superior to what cassettes could afford. Ironically, though, I’ve now begun to sometimes miss all that background hissing. So when the I buy CD’s that bear recordings originally made in the pre-80’s era (AAD or ADD format), I do manage to catch a hint of all that hissing I’ve inadvertently grown fond of.

Hissing is nostalgic. Sort of brings authenticity to vintage audio.

V V Busy

Work has kept me very busy over the past few days and I hope to be able to post something substantial on Sunday. My promised post on Convocation Day has been delayed beyond measure and now I've forgotten most of the happenings. I'll try to recollect as much as possible, though the details will be heavily lost on me.

And I'll make a concerted effort to get rehabilitated into the real world. The Net isn't really a great place to hang around. Time to sleep with my books again!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Amazon order cancelled

The order placed with Amazon was cancelled yesterday owing to a snag. I had used my virtual credit card number to make the purchase. Such use-once cards remain valid for a period of only 3 days, following which they are destroyed. Unfortunately, Amazon has a policy of charging the card just before the shipment…which in my case was scheduled to happen only in mid-August.

I’m not too comfortable punching my actual card details. I hope to find an alternative.
Rajat is leaving for Switzerland on the 5th of Aug.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Girish Karnad walked passed me as I was on my way back home after getting off the office bus at 15th Cross. He was blissfully humming something as he came out of a house. Is this where he stays?

Stephen Hawking asks...& I answer!

Question:
How can the human race survive the next hundred years?
In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?

Answer:
The power of construction is greater than the power of destruction. Had the reverse been true, the Universe would have never come into existence. I think the same idea holds true for mankind as well. Also, had the Big Bang resulted in a homogenous Space & Time…planets, stars, galaxies and comets would have never become a reality. So it’s variance from absolute uniformity that makes existence of so many beautiful things possible.

Extrapolate the same notions and you’ll have your answer. Difference of opinion (political, philosophical or personal) is necessary to let us gradually pick & choose the best, violent though the process may be! Supernovae are violent but they leave behind beautiful nebulae!

If every kind of particle must have an associated antiparticle, could the brilliance of Science be so conspicuous without the stupidity of pseudo-sciences? We need to be wrong sometimes just to assert and appreciate the right. Humans are nothing but offsprings of the same laws of Nature that govern the rest of our Universe. All the chaos surrounding this wonderful creature is nothing but an assertion of the same laws.

We will survive the next 100 years, though we’ll be hard at work trying self-annihilation.

Addendum:
Science doesn't need the distraction or even existence of pseudo-sciences to assert itself. Some of the analogies I've drawn will gradually lose relevance. Though my visibility is very limited, here's my guess of what lies beyond 100 years:

  • Religion will gradually lose relevance and be triumphed upon.
  • Wisdom & knowledge will permeate through all of society.
  • National borders will dilute.
  • Death will be conquered. Nanotechnology, Cryonics & Eugenics will contribute to it.
  • The institution of marriage will wither away.
  • We will come across other forms of life as we begin to explore outer space.
  • Vitual Reality will allow people to live their fantasies. Reality will find serious competition.
  • The Net will be as fundamental a thing as water.

Well, the list is endless and I won't continue with the enumeration. After all, I could be completely wrong!

Monday, July 03, 2006

I remember...

  • wishing Dad 'Goodnight' and how he would wish me back. I remember my voice. I remember his.
  • pestering Dad to tell me stories at bedtime. He would be awfully tired, yet would never refuse me my wish. He had few stories to tell, but his inimitable style held me spellbound.
  • asking Dad to narrate stories from magazines he bought for me. I loved the way he would infuse life into the written word.
  • being so awed by Dad's personality, I decided to mirror his tastes and opinions. His disposition was of paramount importance to me. Aligning my feelings with his wasn't difficult.
  • deliberately hurting Dad on many an occasion. He loved me enough to let me hate him.
  • Dad winding the antique clock religiously on Sunday nights. I looked in bewilderment at his precision.
  • Dad rubbing his cheeks against mine.
  • Dad telling me how short life is. He told me how I would have to ond day perform his last rites. He really made me cry.
  • walking down the grassy sidewalk alongside Dad, holding his finger.
  • going to nursery for the first time with Dad. I cried the whole day for him.
  • sitting on Dad's lap in the bus. I would prefer sitting with him by my side. But when someone needed space to sit, Dad would promptly place me on his lap, making way for the other guy. How I hated him when he did that!
  • listening to the vintage radio with Dad beside me. We would be secluded in our room bathed gently by the golden streaks of the tiny pair of bulbs inside the tuner. Light also leaked from the vents on the hind-side, creating a beautiful pattern on the wall. The glow is lost forever. For many years I believed we had the best radio in the world. Perhaps I wasn't wrong.
  • going to the terrace with Dad at night to track the planetary motions and recognize a few more constellations.
  • slipping my tiny feet into Dad's heavy boots after he returned from the factory...and soiling the floor. Dad wouldn't miss the spectacle for the world.
  • endlessly discussing so many subjects and ideas with him. I would often disagree with many of his views, yet he was never irked. He gave me wings to fly, knowing they would one day take me away from him.
  • Dad often saying how I was the most precious thing in his life. He was the most precious thing to me as well, though I never articulated.
  • Dad thanking me for even the most trivial things (like bringing a glass of water) I ever did for him. I hardly thanked him.
  • being so fiercely possessive, I locked away many things I loved (including books, an electric torch and even the family magnifying glass!) into a rusty old trunk. Even Dad wasn't allowed access to them, but he never complained. Luckily, I realised how selfish I was being and soon threw it open and granted access to all my beloved possessions to everyone. That's how I got first-hand experience of the joys of sharing!
  • Dad gently placing the blanket over me as I tried to sleep but felt cold.
  • asking Dad to buy me anything that caught my fancy. When he sometimes couldn't, he would sadly express how guilty he felt. I understood and lessened my demands. Really, all that I ever needed was Dad.
  • so many things that I'm sure will gradually fade into oblivion under the continued assault of time.
  • never believing in God. God just wasn't great enough to be better than my Dad. And Dad was for real.
  • Dad predicting I would not be by his side when his moment finally came. He was right.

I'll remember tears flooding me eyes time & again as I typed this post.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

How Saturday was spent

Saturday largely spent itself, with a little help from me. Woke up late (probably 9) and put on the PC to cull music off the Net. Felt too lazy and ended up skipping lunch. Siesta time was spent in buying 6 CD's via Amazon.

The power supply was disrupted at around 4 and that's when I decided to take a nap...which lasted almost till 7 in the evening, by when power was restored. Felt famished having missed lunch but couldn't go back to cooking noodles again. Necessity is the mother of desperation! Decided on cooking Anda Bhurji although it would be tough without Santosh. Tried to recollect all the ingredients. Almost forgot the oil! Most of what was needed was already stocked.

Ventured out to buy some eggs, butter, onions and oil. Returned, enqueued some Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sinatra & Tony Bennett tracks via winamp and began the cooking. I was on my own for the first time in many years (as far as cooking was concerned) and I had mostly lost my instinctive skills in deciding on the amount of ingredients needed. Used too much water in the pressure cooker and had to re-adjust midway through the whistling. All the pressure was on me now!

Cooking the bhurji wasn't as tough as I had originally thought it would be. The end product was good for a first-try in years. All that jazz crooning from the PC made the cooking less of an ordeal. Gobbled up everything in no time.

And yes, I created an expense manager via Google Spreadsheets a few weeks ago and its usage has finally kicked in today. Hope to keep tabs on my spiralling expenses.