Friday, November 23, 2007

A one-line tragedy

There have been others, but this here stood out -

"For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn."

- Ernest Hemingway.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

No more traffic tickets

I don't drive in N. America, but if I did, my biggest worry would be the fines I'd have to shell out everytime I'd get a ticket.

That worry has now disappeared.

http://www.antiticketdonut.com/

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dawn's best

I get my brightest ideas before it's bright out. That's right, every morning, just before sunrise, these epiphanous little movies play in my head. And they're actually really funny! Thing is though, that when you're asleep, the part of your brain that's responsible for storing minutiae, and storing them long enough that you can flip through them like notes later, is switched off.

I realised that I was letting many a riveting blog post slip by only because I'm always too sleepy to transcribe the stuff I see during those early hours. Last night though, I'd kept pen-paper handy, by a bedside table to beat the machine. And did I ever :) It's three in the afternoon now, and I have a whole page of notes here, albeit scrawled illegibly, but then, this is the stuff dreams are made of...wait back that up...my hyperbole just melded with reality..I'm feeling special now :-)

This post is written in real-time. I was pretty sure I had gold, so didn't bother constructing this post in my head first. Had I, I realise now it would've been a good idea.

Having made sense of my notes, I find I've written crap. I've learnt a little about myself today though. During the pre-sunrise hours, it isn't that I produce gold every morning, rather my threshold for what causes the chuckles drops like a blessed christian on GOD tv.

Maybe some other day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The areas of my ineptitude

These are many, but the ones I chose for this top 5-er are those that frustrate me the most.

5. Sewing - At various points in time, my wardrobe's had perfectly nice shirts and trousers that've been rendered unwearable by a missing button or a come-undone hem. So I see the button lying there, the shirt pleading to be worn, and the thread/needle combination lying by the potpourri. Yet, I'm going to do nothing about it until I get to go home and have my mommy do the dirty.

4. Multitasking - I cannot talk to my significant other while trying to pretty up a presentation, nor can I pick out work clothes while listening to Anindo Chatterjee do an intricate rela.

The point is, these things need all the attention I can give them, with little (ability to pay attention) left over. In fact, when I chance upon somebody else multitasking their way through similarly involved activities, I'm left in awe. Can't do much else but admire.

3. Drawing - You'd be amazed at some of the replicas I can produce. Back in the day, my biology teacher gave me star*star*star when he saw my detailing of the cell structure. Without a dang picture or photo in front of me though, when what was needed was a little girl lost in thought, I've been known to produce a slug.

2. Dancing - I sprout appendages at the very thought. I'll have to forever say never.

1. Singing - I have my good days. The problem is that I have too many bad ones.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Married to the movies

When I get off a taxi, I like to stand there, back to the cab, luggage on the pavement beside me. The luggage and I remain absolutely still (me by choice, the luggage, not so much) contemplating whatever lies ahead and the life we've left behind, while the taxi pulls away.

I do this because it would make a nice cinematic moment. It's definitely a moment you've seen before in some movie. In that moment, it'd appear as though this person (here, me) was about to begin life anew.

And when I write, I like to sometimes chew on a pencil using the corner of my mouth. I don't remember though, the last time I used anything other than a keyboard to write. As you might suspect, I do this because it makes a movie moment, were someone to catch a glimpse.

Finally, I'm given to planting trees in my driveway, in the hope that they'll one day grow tall and cast a sweet shadow where they stand. This way, my neighbour's children, when on their way back from taekwondo class can run around them while I blare Pehla Nasha from my den. This would make for a terrible cinematic moment, but one I'd fondly marry.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A long long time ago, in the bastide town of Navarrenx

It was dusk. JJ sat by a cobblestoned road. He'd sat here a century, waiting for *the* day, but it never seemed to come. This evening, he sensed, was going to be different.

A sun-blonde gypsy had been trudging all over town, searching for any signs of nightlife, for he'd done nothing, seen no sights, danced no jigs ever since he got here and had no place to sleep. He seemed well under the weather for it was chilly, and he had on but a shimmery, slight shirt.

He posed his problem to JJ.

JJ: "Cold, eh? nowhere to lay down the old bone-sack, eh? It's obviously a rhume and bored situation."

So saying, JJ cackled himself into the afterlife.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Media bashing

You get to see these clips of Rumsfeld - "I never said we know for sure where Iraq's WMDs were" and thanks to some really great archiving, the folks over at Jon Stewart's Daily show are able to pull up another, older clip of Donny boy saying "Yes, well they're north of xyz, south of abc, etc, Yeah, we've got good intelligence".

But what I'd REALLY like to see is taking this up another notch, so that the likes of Tony Snow, and heck, even Bush, when lying at Press conferences, can immediately be told off for their two-faced, no-good, double-dealing ways.

This doesn't need magic. If you're a half decent journalist, and you've got your questions mapped out right, you already know the line that Snow, Bush and their ilk are going to toe.What that means is if you make an accusation, they're going to deny it. If you ask them about how something they'd said earlier turned out to be untrue, they're going to deny having ever said such a thing. If you tell them you love their hair, they're going to say it wasn't their fault, they had to wear a helmet on the way over.

The point is, many of these press soundbytes are given at events/press conferences that are telecast live. All that the journalist needs to do is to dig up a video of the guy when he was asked the same question a few months earlier. The difference between this and Stewart's daily show is that the video needs to be ready PRIOR to the journalist's question being asked.

Journalist then asks question. Snow goes "Ermm..No, no, I never said anything of the sort. The media always distorts facts". BAM - Journalist whips out her new iVideoplayathingy in front of the TV cameras! Yeah, I'd like to see THAT.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hope

The coal-dust looked almost golden in the light of the grease-lamps.
Miners chipped and dug away at various floors throughout the depth of the dark giant well under the earth.
At the bottom of the well, near the centre of the earth, where the mine was at its hottest and darkest, some miners spotted a leaf floating towards them.
They all looked up, wanting to see
the sky and the tree.

- There was a poem posted on various Toronto subway cars, about a falling leaf and a sense of hope. I'd liked it tremendously, but couldn't remember the details nor, sadly, the poet's name. The above is an attempt to capture the feeling of that poem. Will update this post as soon as I can track down that poem's co-ordinates.

Update: The name of the original poem is Branch Line by Gary Michael Dault. Please look it up, it's a far better, simpler thought.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stand-up

I was watching an old taping of a Richard Pryor show, where he did this bit about kids lying to their folks. Little kids, and painfully obvious lies :) Pryor himself must've been such a cute kid. Incidentally, he had a really rough time growing up but that just heightened the sensitivity of his performance.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l6F_GQTGK8

That's it for today, your 2 minutes of bliss.

Update (26 July 2007): Youtube's removed the video. It was only a minute and a half in length, and did much good spreading Pryor's infectious funnies. I hope removing the video will feed some starving kids.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Moving up

Two recent events, both fairly minor, had me reminiscing.

Event 1:
I was at lunch yesterday, a fancy Japanese joint and the food, ambience, etc was all top-notch, as was the accompanying LIT. The place was fairly high-end, but I had a nice time, and few qualms about footing the bill.

Event 2:
Yesterday also marked my first anniversary at work. During the year I'd learnt tons and done well. But it wasn't so much about it being a year at work as much as it was about it being a year out of school, a year since my student lifestyle.

The reminiscing:
I've had a great life while at University. Indian boy, North American aspirations, half-decent grades, some scholarships. All of it panned out pretty well. It's not a story unique to me either, which is why I could summarise it for you as easily as I just did.

In this new life, away from home, everything I wanted was made of dollars, and as a result, 36.5 times harder to get..Or 4 times harder if you factor in cost-of-living indices.

Add to that the fact that I was in my mid-late teens and had planned to pay my own way through college, i.e. with loans that I'd be paying back later myself.

The truth is I'd never handled money before. At most, I'd ask my parents for cash to go out, and if any remained later that evening, I'd hand it right back. And then suddenly, here I was, handed what seemed to be obscene amounts of money, only to see it fly straight out of my account.

I'd spend hours forecasting my expenses, subtracting scholarships, applying for bursaries and more loans, keeping my fingers crossed about the exchange rate, scouring neighbourhoods to find places where the general cost of living (and not just the monthly rent) was cheaper, all of this learnt slowly, learnt well.

It was embarrassing when anything caused my budget to spike past the tiny contingency funds that I'd set aside every semester because then, I'd need my folks to send me money. And I worked hard to never let that happen.

While a full-time electrical engineering student, I held down three jobs. One at a library that paid near minimum wage, but afforded me time to study while on the job, another that paid better, but needed me to cut classes often during business hours and a third that paid very well, that I could do on my own time (read late nights and weekends).

The great thing about my combination of jobs was that if I was ever running short on cash, I could up the hours at one of these jobs such that my next pay-cheque was meatier. I'd be damned though if that's all I did to help my finances. I've eaten many a meal of bread and cheese, of eggs fried en-masse during the start of the week. On occasion, when I wanted to treat myself, I'd borrow burger king mail-coupons from friends I knew were never going to use theirs.
I'd also tried borrowing money from my friends when I knew it was only a question of money flow and timing. This is possibly the most embarrassing thing when it doesn't work out. It makes you question not just your friends, but also yourself for having either failed to forge the friendships you needed, or having misread them. I was lucky most times.

Yesterday though, I thought nothing of tipping the waiter close to what I'd earn for a day's work at one of my older jobs. It might be trite, but I wouldn't have appreciated my circumstances now had not my earlier ones been as vastly dissimilar as they were.

P.S. This was written while watching an interview of Ishmael Beah, a boy-soldier in Sierra Leone, who later wrote a book about his experiences called 'A Long Way Gone' . It's an amazing read. In the right perspective, bread and cheese sounds pretty good.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cut-paste raja

I've been religiously blogging the last few days, caring little for the audience. I haven't figured out how I might install a widget to tell me if there are folks that actually visit here, but that's partly because I haven't felt the need.

Sopher, Phil O. had said something about a tree falling in the forest, and no-one being around to hear it. I figure mine not to ask, rather to just plug away at the blog. The blog can be the tree. I'm sure the tree was aware it fell.

I haven't even begun to mix metaphors, and am already worried about having a falling blog on my hands.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What know I

Here's a summary of the Hodgmanesque areas of my expertise:

1. Indian cricket - Stats, present and past. Venues across the country. Politics. U-19s to watch out for. A lucid understanding of the technique, fallacies and strengths of each of our batsmen and bowlers. The basics of bowling quick. Strategies to win the next two world cups. Note that I'm no longer sentimental about how the team does. Our prolonged mediocrity at this game, one we're all so invested in, has finally made me lose heart.

2. Hindi films - I'm fact-filled, but also emotionally attached to bollywood. I think these movies are a great way to raise your kids. You instill all the necessary values in 3 hour bursts. It's no longer an indefinite parenting responsibility. Just deposit impressionable kids at a Yash Raj (actually more B.R. Chopra or Barjatya) movie, and you'll have them touching your feet for years to come. There are always exceptions, be it movies or the kids themselves.

3. Indian writing in English - I connect well to a select few authors. Some of these folks, I've read inside out. While the field is vast, if you were to ask me about Malgudi, I'd do a decent job.

4. Photonics - Am unusually interested in the field. Particularly lasers. Yknow, to blow stuff up and all. But no, seriously, I'm a laser and semi-conductor enthusiast. I'm not sure why. Also, it's a cause I support..Every second, a gazillion photons give up their ghosts. How much longer will we look the other way?

5. Elegant math/logic puzzles - I lie. This is not an area of my expertise. It's only an area of interest.

6. Mainstream Hollywood - I've had some time on my hands. I know some stuff about the post 1990 era.

7. Comics [serious stuff this] - Asterix, Tintin, Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert. Mastermind level on a good day.

8. Fashion - ok, no.

9. Project Management - You might want to take a look at my work blog. I've only just started on the blog, but I've put in a fair number of hours dissecting the field, straddling its dual nature of art somedays, science others.

10. ... in progress ...