November 15, 2006

Where credit is due

One had a dream, people. This was back in the days when laptops were as large as briefcases and cellphones had monochrome displays. We speak of the time when the Rock ruled the WWF and Vikas Bhalla pretended to rule our music channels. When nobody knew Mallika Sherawat. Yes, there was such a time.

Anyhow, the point is that one had a dream. A Burning Ambition, no less.

Young folks, it is said, usually dream of such things as buying a house, buying a car, getting married and settling down. Not the One. No. One aspired only to enter the databases of major telemarketing companies as a potential customer.

At the end of a long day spent listening to the protests of assorted Unclejis, she would dial the next number in that neverending list. A nondescript sort of number, its perfection not immediately apparent to the untrained eye.

One would receive the call with a curt hello, delivered in one’s burnished baritone. "Sir, would you be interested in the new credit card we’re offering sir ..", she would stammer. Yes, one would have that effect on people.

One would gently tell her that she had precisely two minutes to make her sales pitch. We have very little time, you see, us high-tech sorts. She would breathlessly list the merits of the scheme, while one made rapid mental notes. When she’d finished, one would make a general remark thanking her for her efforts while managing to work in a stylish pun about, say, the current economic situation in eastern Mongolia. One might then ask for further details, compare this with competing offers, and construct cost-benefit analyses.

Subsequently, after thorough rumination and extensive correspondence, one might agree to the purchase and leave her quite speechless with gratitude. Yes.

One was all prepared, too. To the point of reading up on the current economic situation in eastern Mongolia. But privacy, it seems, is a much bigger issue out phoren than it is back home. And such is the tragedy of one’s life. Not one call from a dulcet-voiced telemarketer, not one single unexpected tinkle.

Nevertheless, one shall soon be the proud owner of a credit card from a Leading Financial Services Company. So what if one had to go and apply oneself. Look, it comes with free movie tickets.

October 09, 2006

On becoming a Socialite

For years one wished to dare to dream,
To beat a different groove.
One wanted to surpass oneself
Yes, one wished to Improve!

One worked one's way through learned Books
For logistic support.
(By "Books", of course, one means those of
The Self-Improvement sort.)

To build spheres of influence
To chicken-soup the soul
One must devise, they all point out,
A monthly Major Goal.

To become highly effective
To meteorically rise
It becomes essential, also, to
Robustly socialize.

One pondered long, one pondered hard
One thought all day and night.
And this month's Major Goal was set:
Become a Socialite.

Soon it seemed we'd bitten off
Much more than we could chew.
For, since the start of October,
We were almost halfway through!

You understand that one now felt
An acute sense of woe.
In these things, one had realised,
One had some way to go.

One tells all one's finest jokes
And folks just stand and stare.
(Just between you and the One,
It's worse when girls are there.)

And so it seemed like spiteful life
Was extracting its toll.
Then last night, one dreamt one had fallen
Down a rabbit-hole.

One dreamt of this caterpillar
Avuncular, and stout.
He asked one what the matter was
The tale came pouring out.

One soon finished telling him
Now one could only plead -
Help us, please, one cried out,
O chain-smoking centipede!

He looked at one with grave concern
(As caterpillars could.)
He'd been nodding all the while
To show he understood.

His brow now furrowed to a frown
He bit his lip; it bled.
He looked the One both up and down,
"It'll take some work", he said.

He went and spoke to friends of his
(As one would later find)
And came back with some points that he thought
One should keep in mind.

He knew this was his big debut
He looked at what he'd wrote.
He popped a vitamin or two
And then cleared his throat.

"Think of witty things to say, boy,
(Hope you're taking notes.)
And take some time out every day
Practise your anecdotes.

"The way you speak might put folks off
(It shouldn't, but it may.)
You'd be well advised to learn to
Speak the Orkut way.

"You must say u when u mean you
And n when you mean and.
N a Yo! when u mean Hello there!
Sounds positively grand.

"And take some tips from Bollywood.
You could choose to cultivate
An AB Junior three-day stubble,
A Salman Khan-ish gait."

And saying thus, the caterpillar
Waved a last goodbye.
(He later grew up to become
A Social Butterfly.)

One woke up, as one contemplated
All he'd deigned to say.
By Jove, we'll heed his kind advice,
Beginning today.

How well this'll work, or how poorly,
We cannot claim to know.
(This is one's Goal for October;
We have three weeks to go.)

At least it helped one write the rhyme
Of which you just partook.
One might now write, if one finds time,
A Self-Improvement Book.

September 26, 2006

Aaj Bloggy ka janamdin hai

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the blogosphere lies a small, yellow blog, which fancies that it is still read once in a while by the odd bloghopper. But there is one thing about this particular blog that makes it quite remarkable. This blog, you see, is exactly one year old.

Today, give or take a few time zones, is this blog's Happy Budday. Yes. The blog is all grown up, and one is so proud. We shall celebrate, naturally. We shall invite all the neighbourhood blogs over, we shall full-throatedly sing old film songs involving laddoos and well-fed bachchas, we shall play a few invigorating rounds of Simon Says, and we shall send all the li'l bloggywoggies home with bulk-discounted Return Gifts. Ah, joy.


This, of course, might be a fine time to look back, to ponder over what this journey has been like and where it has brought us. To take you from the moment a bright-eyed tech intern in faraway Europe clicked a Rediff link marked "Blogs", to the moment he decided to begin one himself, to the moment he discovered that people were actually reading what he wrote, to the moment he realized that he’d been writing it, off and on, for a whole year. And to ruminate on these experiences.

But we shall not do that. No.

Blogging about blogging, one fears, may smirch the experience. There are many things that one has observed, much that could be said vis-à-vis why one blogs, and why one writes the way one does, and why one hasn't been posting much lately, and what one thinks of one's writing, but that would likely serve no purpose beyond making one a tad selfconscious next time one posts. So let us lead the unexamined bloglife, and let us enjoy it.

That said, one would like to thank the kind folks who've linked up, and those who drop by and comment, and the nice people at DesiPundit for linking several times over the past year. 'Tis much appreciated.

Oh, and let's listen to Spiderman, Spiderman.

September 12, 2006

Still hopin'

One recalls having discussed one’s feelings re. passwords a few months ago. It turns out that the opinions expressed in that post merely foreshadowed the deeper trouble that was to follow. We speak, of course, of the singular events that came to pass last-to-last* Friday.

‘Twas on Friday morning that one was informed that a certain password was due to expire (again). One duly undertook the password-updating process. This, you might be aware, involves typing in the Old Password and then the New Password, occasionally followed by a Reconfirm New Password that, Sysadmin informs us, must be identical to the New Password.

Now one’s last three passwords, if you can keep a secret, have been MeghnaNaidu123, MeghnaNaidu124 and MeghnaNaidu125**. Always quick to spot a trend, one entered MeghnaNaidu126 as the New Password (and as the Reconfirm New Password) this time around. And waited with what is sometimes called Bated Breath.

The Gentle (if Hypothetical) Reader should be informed that one has been through a lot in life. One has survived temporary cripplehood, forced relocation, and multiple viewings of Jaani Dushman – Ek Anokhi Kahani. But nothing could prepare the One for what came next. For the computer had the gall, the Gall, to output thusly:

“Invalid password. The old and new passwords must differ in at least three positions.”

Yes. The system had evidently been Upgraded, and this meant the end of the MeghnaNaidu series as we knew it. Sustained outrage was felt, and some pain too. But one was not going to let this go without a fight. No. One went straight to the Sysadmin, and proceeded to give him what is commonly called a Piece of One’s Mind. One pointed out that one had used only Meghna Naidu passwords ever since Kaliyon Ka Chaman was released, and that one was in no mood to change the pattern just because some dorky operating system said so. This produced nothing beyond a condescending smile (which undoubtedly hid a certain bewilderment, for the chap had no clue who Meghna Naidu was, but being a Sysadmin he couldn’t very well admit to not knowing something, could he?)

Friday afternoon, people, found the One distinctly forlorn. And with good reason, for Sysadmin had given one a supposedly random password that sounded like a cross between a Klingon expletive and a Forbidden Curse, and one knew that there was absolutely no chance one would remember it. So one finally gave in and, in flagrant violation of password protocol, wrote the word on a little scrap of paper that was then kept in a clever, undisclosed location.

So clever, in fact, that one never found it again.

* One has always wanted to say “last-to-last” on this blog.

** And if you can’t, they’ve been something else entirely.

August 08, 2006

Murder by numbers

Today one has been subjected to a revelation of some import. You might call it an epiphany, even. Today one has learnt that The Magnitude Of A Cellphone’s Model Number Bears Little Or No Correlation To The Richness Of Its Features (or, to restate, that Larger Numbers In The Name Do Not Necessarily Mean That The Cellphone Is More Advanced).

One does not like things that are named numerically, for these names are usually strings of largely random digits that one has much trouble remembering. (There might be folks out there who memorize them as a sort of hobby, but for the One that holds about as much charm as being handcuffed to a dead zebra.*)

‘Twas much better in one’s day. As gadgets go we had, for example, the quaintly-named Game Boy. This was followed by the Game Boy Color, which was in turn followed by the Game Boy Advance. What these monikers might lack in linguistic flair, people, they more than make up for in semantic precision. You just knew that the Game Boy Advance was newer, pricier and generally better than the plain ol’ Game Boy. You just knew it.

But now, you don’t know anything. That 2370 might sound like a poor man’s version of the 8846, but for all you know it’s the hottest thing around. You smirk when a colleague speaks of his 1002, quite sure that the 9084 you secretly plan to buy is better by an order of magnitude, until the chap informs you that the 1002 can operate his washing machine and generally do everything short of writing his blogposts and will only be available next month.

But let us get all incisive-shincisive. Let us delve into the psychology of the chaps in the marketing department. What in the world were they thinking? One might not know much about marketing (not that there’s much to know in the first place) but one does understand that brand recall plays some sort of role. We know the routine – initial media hype, glitzy product launch (extra points for gyaan-spouting Bollywood starlet), repeated advertisement during saas-bahu soaps. All intended to enhance B.R. Okay. But. But. How, pray, does one recall a brand name that reads like a blooming Sudoku puzzle? And if you absolutely must take your brand names from the telephone directory, can you at least ensure that the numbers go in ascending order? You know, like, small to big?

The latest of the lot is apparently the N85 or some such. Let us not dwell on the fact that this sounds more like a nightly bus service than the state of the art in mobile communication. Rather, let us hope that the next offering isn’t called the F15.

* Do bear with the analogies – you might even find an original one here someday.

July 30, 2006

Ordeal on Avenue 6

[Drama in Real Life]

The One, 24, stepped out of his cubicle late in the evening. The mild-mannered engineer had had to cope with many things that day, including an irate boss, a particularly intransigent semaphore, and the Collected Hits of Himesh Reshammiya. He happened to glance at his watch as he made his way to the fifth-floor lobby. It was 7:45.

He pressed the button and waited for the lift to arrive. The lift reached his floor shortly, and he got on board. Four, three, two, one, he counted on the large LED display. He emerged from the lift at the ground floor and looked around. It was now 7:46.

Looking up, he saw a sudden flash. It was a moment before he realised that it was merely a lightbulb. Bulbs were installed as standard on each floor of the building. They required two hundred and thirty volts of electricity and consumed sixty-one milliamperes of current to emit eighty watts of yellowish light. It was still 7:46.

He stepped out of the building, looking around with a strange, inexplicable discomfort. It was a warm evening in downtown Singapore, despite the unexpected afternoon shower that had left the roads dangerously slippery. He began to walk towards the bus stop, still feeling vaguely ill at ease.

With a start, he recalled that he had not consumed his dinner and realised that that was the reason for his discomfort. He would, he decided, have to make a detour to the foodstalls. But the foodstalls were on the other side of the road, some distance away.

On this particular road, called Avenue 6 by most Singaporeans, there is a zebra crossing for pedestrians. He began to cross the road at this zebra crossing. It was 7:52.

As he reached halfway across the tarmac, he suddenly felt his legs slipping out from under him. It was the slipperiness that he had noticed earlier, that which could have been ascribed to the afternoon squall. However, he quickly righted himself and continued on his way, managing to successfully cross the road. He reached the foodstalls in due course and ordered some food, sitting down at a table to eat it.

With a jolt, he heard his phone ring. He answered it immediately to find that it was his mother, who called him every evening. After some general chitchat, they finished the conversation and he returned to his food. Eventually, he finished his dinner and caught a bus that went from Avenue 6 to his apartment. He reached his stop in a few minutes and made his way home, pausing only to glance at his watch. It was, in fact, 8:03.

“One hell of an eventful evening that was. I’m just glad I made it back”, he says, relaxing on a couch in the comfort of his living room.

The One still puts himself through the same ordeal nearly every day. The bulbs in his office building were replaced recently with ostensibly superior energy-saving ones that emit a bluish light. And Avenue 6 still remains as slippery as ever, although the nimble are able to cross it sometimes.

July 28, 2006

Reports of bloggywoggy's demise are greatly exaggerated

Behold, people, how eventful the Life has been over the last couple of months:

1) The Homeland has been visited. One takes these trips very seriously, and plans for them weeks in advance, and prepares lists of Things To Do and People To Visit. And one usually returns with suspiciously similar lists entitled Things That Must Be Done Next Time and People Who Suddenly Remembered Important Appointments And Hence Regretfully Found Themselves Unable To Meet The One This Time But Who Shall Surely Be Visited Next Time.

2) Back in Singapore, a tearful farewell has been bid to the Abode and a New Abode has been moved into. It’s true that the New Abode is rather cool, but one might reveal that nothing can quite take the place of the Old Abode in this hoary old heart.

But let us now look forward now, let us summarily carpe each diem. Tags need to be done. And one shall do them. Miscellaneous things need to be said. And one shall say them, by Jove. Yes.

June 05, 2006

Scrappy do

Glad tidings we bring today. The Orkut network is growing, yes, it is expanding by Leaps and Bounds. One has exceeded all expectations by managing to assimilate as many as nine Distinct Individuals into said network in but a few weeks. But it was not easy, gentle reader, no. Much time was spent tinkering with the profile. Potential candidates for Friendship were shortlisted and shorter-listed. Many earnest make-frndshp messages were written. Sweat and tears were bahaofied in equal measure.

And a steep, steep learning curve was negotiated. The Orkut Scrap, one discovers, is an unusual form of communication that might appear superficially to resemble the blog comment. However, Orkut etiquette requires the scrappee to respond to a scrap in the scrapper’s scrapbook rather than his own* - this, you would note, stands in contrast to blog etiquette, which requires that the blogger reply right where the comment was made, i.e. in his own commentspace. The matter might be interpreted as an eloquent commentary on how interpersonal dynamics in a networking milieu differ from those in a predominantly creative environment, but one does not generally do eloquent commentary and one sees no reason to make an exception this once.

But ‘tis an empowering experience, this Orkut business. One is evidently connected, through the immediate network, to as many as 19,882,317 souls. Now, gentle reader, one has Contacts. One knows People, yes, People who themselves evidently know People. And having Contacts, you would realise, means that one is now in a position to Get Things Done, that too through Various Means. Yup. One merely has to go to a Relevant Person on this twenty-million-strong network and establish a rapport, perhaps by citing mutual acquaintances. “Hey, one knows Atul D, who knows Francis K, who knows Maniben P, who knows you! Ain’t that just chummy?”

Anyway, one shall now get back to writing pithy scraps in various scrapbooks. Mercy boku.

* It took the entire network several attempts to drill this into the head of the One, but it is well understood now.

May 22, 2006

Cream tea, please

An over-Blytonized childhood, one recalls, had elevated Cream Tea to near-mythical status in one’s fledgeling mind. It was, clearly, a beverage that went well with thrilling holiday adventures and all’s-well-that-ends-well boarding-school feasts. Something that caused every self-respecting juvenile to squeal with uncontainable delight and generally proclaim that things were as jolly as they possibly could be. One gathered that it was also drunk by distinguished old gentlemen at idyllic country manors and by fashionable ladies at the Royal Ascot.

And thus, over the years, one had built up this mental image of a frothy, buttery version of our chai, perhaps with liberal lashings of crème fraiche and a cherry on top. An entirely rich and wholesome affair. It became one’s personal ambition, people, to taste a cup of this sinfully posh, delightfully British indulgence.

So you will appreciate that the happiness knew no bounds when it was learnt, at a certain point in the mid-nineties, that the Father had been posted to London. Practically the first thing the young One did upon touchdown was to walk into this café, a nice and typically English teahouse-type place, and proudly say what one had been dying to say for years and years.

“Cream tea, please.”

And then one took one’s place at a table, and waited with what is generally referred to as Bated Breath.

And presently, people, it arrived. A tray that held a) a pot of boiling water with a couple of sad, soggy Earl Grey teabags dangling within (okay, so teabags are supposed to be soggy, at least when they’re inside boiling water, but there’s just no excuse for being sad)*, b) an empty cup with accompanying saucer and c) a plate with a couple of scones on it. But where, in the name of Frederick Algernon Trotteville, was that frothing cuppa, that Legendary Beverage?

After much argument with the waiter (one could argue well for a twelve-year-old) it was ascertained that said Legendary Beverage constituted of precisely the items lying on one’s table.

And then, gentle reader, there was nothing much to be done. One took a bite out of the scone. And poured oneself some Earl Grey. And tried one’s best to enjoy one’s First Taste of Cream Tea. And ruminated on how some things sound so much better in books.

* One has made one’s feelings re. these matters amply clear previously.

May 15, 2006

Kin-dread spirit

It has recently been revealed to various distant relatives that one plans to make a trip to the Homeland in the near future. And it is remarkable how hitherto-unknown persons are seen to be crawling out of the very bark of the family tree to tactfully demand various gadget-type items from Singapore, apparently unaware of the fact that their local electronics store could sell them the same things at practically the same price in this liberalized age. One’s attempts to point out the above fact are met with vague and entirely unfathomable replies to the effect that items from phoren are generally “of better quality”.

Amongst said kinfolk you would find the young Distant Cousin, a stripling of great pestilentiality, who evidently burns with the need for an imported PDA* at the age of eleven. The ownership of such a device, one gathers, would allow him to reach the coveted position of Coolest Kid in School, presumably qualifying him to use terminally-hep exclamations like “yo!” as part of everyday conversation. (This is in addition to the yaar, pronounced with the r silent, which he already uses about five times every sentence).

Further, it is most disconcerting to note that many of said kinfolk appear to consider one an authority on all gizmos electronic. This, as the diligent reader of this blog will know, is patently untrue. Yes, one has admitted to owning and even using the occasional gadget. But that was a long time ago, people. We’ve all passed a lot of water under the bridge since then, as the Russian translator said.

In any case, while it remains to be seen when exactly the trip can take place, it is practically certain that the prodigal son shall return to the fold with suitcase upon suitcase full of megapixel digicams, DVD players, ultrasleek mobile phones and the like, with perhaps a small rucksack for his own meagre possessions. Whatever will the customs people say.

*That’s Personal Digital Assistant, people, not Public Display of Affection. Even he wouldn't dare.

Update: A change of some magnitude has been made to the design of this blog. The gentle reader, upon clicking the link called "Comments", shall now actually see the comments (as opposed to the entire permalinked page). One stuns oneself sometimes.

May 07, 2006

Grilled, sir?

It’s Thursday evening. The One walks into the local outlet of a sandwich chain. He is Majorly Hungry.

"Hello, sir. How can I help you, sir?"

[He is very pleased at being referred to as ‘sir’. Twice, too.] "Can I have one of those, please?" [points to large, healthy-looking sandwich]

"Certainly. What sort of bread would you like, sir?"

"Huh?" [note the poise, the skilful articulation]

"Would that be Honey Rolled Oat, Monterey Cheddar, Parmesan Oregano, or Hearty Italian sir?"

"Erm." [Valiantly attempts to give general impression of ruminating on the qualities of Hearty Italian vis-à-vis Monterey Cheddar, attempting to conceal the fact that his culinary knowledge begins and ends at the Gujarati Thali. Perhaps Monterey Cheddar tastes like overcooked khandvi.]

"Honey Rolled Oat bread for you, sir?"

"Yes. Honey Rolled Oat, please."

"Which sauce would you like, sir?"


"Would that be the Red Wine Vinaigrette, Spicy Mexican Chipotle or Delicious Honey Mustard sir?"

"Erm. The wine thing." [If it’s alcoholic, it can’t be that bad.]

Maybe they should call people inside in batches of four, make you sit in a big black chair while you order, and give you a two-minute time limit. After you’re done ordering, maybe a voice-over could say, "And at the end of that round, O haggard geek-type person, you have scored no points at all. Thank you very much!" *polite applause*

April 24, 2006

Con air

What is with the air-conditioning here? One has spent much of last week in a state of partial popsiculation owing to the fact that the A/C* at the office is set to temperatures that only an unusually hardy polar bear could appreciate. One observes that that the hotter the general climate of a place, the lower the temperature to which its A/Cs are set. It’s as if they want to compensate for the swelter outside by ensuring that a chap’s bloodstream is at least thinly glaciated when he leaves a building.

Now one steps into and out of several buildings during the course of a typical day**. And it has been noted that this freezing-one-minute-boiling-the-next business confuses the One’s otherwise faultless hypothalamus, invariably resulting in the Sniffles. Yes. The One, people, is currently wheezing like Thomas the Tank Engine at his phlegmiest. Some people have blamed a) one's immune system and b) one's dietary habits for this state of affairs, but their arguments hold no water because a) one has sat through a screening of Salman Khan’s Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega followed by a full-throated group rendition of Remo Fernandes’ O meri munni *** without any noticeable ill effects and b) one has none to speak of.

Anyway, the tragedy is that one has had to make Arrangements, at great personal expense, for a fine jacket to be sent all the way from home. (Not that jackets aren’t available here, it’s just that one gets disturbingly attached to old clothes.) To Singapore, where you know it’s a cold wave if you don’t find yourself dehydrated on your way down to the bus stop.

Such, as one never tires of pointing out, is life.

* It seems that the thing is called an aircon here, as opposed to an A/C. Yup. Ain’t that, like, a totally life-enriching nugget of info.

** It’s not something one sets out to do, in case you’re wondering. It just happens.

*** One recalls he quite outdid himself the very next line by going
“Munni munni bay-beh”.

April 17, 2006

The book tag

Yes. A full year after this tag was first seen in the blogworld, it has reached these humble backwaters. Many thanks to LAK. One warns the reader that this might turn out to be a rather rambly and self-centred post (yes, even by this blog’s standards). And one shall use the first person, just this once (hey, it’s books we’re talking about – that’s getting personal).

1. Total number of books I own

Here, in Singapore, I have very few indeed because I don’t buy books too often these days (I’m not counting techie books, of course). Refuse to be burdened with a surfeit of possessions and all that.

If we’re talking about the family home back in India the number is probably close to five hundred although, to be honest, many of those have not been bought by me or even explicitly for me; everyone in the family reads quite a bit. And I’ve read maybe half of them, which is apparently characteristic of a genuine book-lover.

If we count the books I used to have as a child and then passed on to cousins, and the books at the grandparents’ places that I have full access to and shall inherit (at least if sibling and cousins can quietly be eliminated), then we’re talking thousands.

2. Last book I bought

I picked up a copy of The Source by James Michener at a garage sale last year. Haven’t bought any books since then. Imagine.

3. Last book I read

Jeeves in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse. I think I’d read it before, but a bad memory is something one tends to take full advantage of.

4. Currently reading

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Yes, of course I’ve read it before. Come to think of it, I seem to be in the middle of a sort of rereading-old-favourites phase. I find that I can appreciate writing much better now that I’m trying to write a bit myself.* And I always have the niggling feeling that I haven’t read a book ‘properly’ enough, that I should come back to it when my sensibilities have evolved to the point where they can fully appreciate its worth.

I’d also started Tom Sharpe’s The Throwback and John Banville’s Book of Evidence, but had to return them due to various library-related issues that have been hinted at on this blog and will not be discussed now because that would make me extremely mad.

5. Five books that mean the most to me

Okay. In approximately the order that I read them.

1) Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham : Because whenever I attempt to recall my very earliest memories, I see a pair of curious catlike characters engaged in a semi-heated, perfectly rhymed exchange that goes:

“Do you like green eggs and ham?”
“I do not like them, Sam-I-am!”

I read somewhere recently that Seuss used only fifty different words in the book, nearly all of them monosyllabic, and that Sam-I-am consistently speaks in trochees while the other, unnamed protagonist speaks exclusively in iambs. Quite remarkable.

And, well, now you know where the penchant for whacky poetry comes from.

2) The three kiddie books E.B. White wrote – Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. Each is an absolute gem. I fancy I spent a large part of my childhood believing that animals in foreign countries really could talk.

3) I, Robot by Isaac Asimov : Asimov was probably the closest thing (you will, of course, forgive me for calling him a thing) I ever had to a teenage idol. I was always more of a robot-stories person – I remember having read a couple of Foundation books, but psychohistory never appealed to me as much as the robots did. The idea of imposing a hierarchy of laws on an automaton, and investigating how those laws would cause it to behave in unusual situations, thrilled me greatly.**

I read one of Asimov’s books again a few months ago, for old times’ sake. And, to my amazement, I was disappointed. The language did not flow, the characters weren’t fleshed out properly. The ideas were there, of course, the imagination was impressive; but the execution lacked flourish. I guess I’ve outgrown him. Strange, it feels.

4) 1089 and All That by David Acheson. A marvellous little book that made me look at mathematics with wonder, mitigating some of the damage inflicted by years of schooling.

5) Silas Marner by George Eliot. Rarely read outside literature classes at your local Arts college, perhaps, but I found it to be brilliantly written, and very moving, at many different levels. It offered me an intriguing look at the idea of ‘rootedness’ at a time when I’d just left home myself for the world beyond. Plus it was short.

I haven’t read that much, to be honest, especially after engineering happened. It was with much awe that I read the book-tag posts of some of the scorchingly erudite folks we find on the blogosphere. I nurse more than a tinge of regret for not having kept that childhood reading habit going, at least not with the same pick-up-book-first-thing-in-the-morning intensity. Ah well.

* Yes, that’s what I’m doing on this blog. Not to look so surprised.

** If anyone’s interested, one has found an IEEE paper on the technological implications of the Laws here. Do read it through, and kindly explain it to us afterwards.

April 10, 2006

Dreaming on ..

One had almost but forgot,
And one is sure you would agree:
‘Tis time this little bloggy got
Its monthly dose of poetry.

Our Dee chose to tag the One
Which really, truly means a lot.
(Even if she chose to tag us
Almost as an afterthought.

The Tag, in essence, does profess
That one should make a list (much glee!)
Of things a lady must possess
For us to feel “that chemistry”.

So one shall stand up straight and tall
A lengthy list one shall unfurl;
A list that we shall choose to call
“What One Might Look For In A Girl”:

A happy little thing she’d be,
Her constitution should contain
A statement that does plain decree
That stars are but God’s daisy chain.

Her intellect, it must be great
And of the mathematic kind;
She might, for instance, calculate
The sine of theta (in her mind).

And Locke and Kant and Hume and Mill
She must have dissected apart.
(For one has never read them still
And now one really needs to start.)

She shan’t be easily distraught
And tolerant she must be too
(For living with the One is not
A very easy thing to do.)

The moon itself she should eclipse;
And for her face to make the grade
It should launch but a thousand ships
(Despite that being a bit clichéd.)

Skin-deep beauty’s well and good
She should, of course, have much much more:
Yes, subcutaneous pulchritude should
Ooze out of her every pore.

The things that one might choose to write
She must with ardent interest read
(If she can praise one’s poetry
That would be wonderful indeed.)

If such a someone one does find
Then one shall go down on one knee
Pronounce the Last Great Pick-Up Line:
Ma’am, will you make friendship with me?

April 02, 2006

Your kind attentions please

Today one has a Brief But Important Announcement to make. Yes.

One has added a friend to one’s Orkut network. This, people, brings the total to Two. One registers extreme joy and fervently hopes that the social life shall continue to blossom.

But no, that was not the B. B. I. Announcement. For that is this : one completely forgot about the Blog’s half-birthday, which whooshed by on the twenty-fifth of March. Much sadness is felt at this oversight, but let us not mope. Let us instead bring out the cachaça and dance in our most footloose manner to the tune of Spiderman, Spiderman, friendly neighbourhood Spiderman.

March 26, 2006

On a sunny afternoon

He walks up to a stall and looks at the drinks on offer. Drinks of all sorts – green drinks, pink drinks, yellow drinks; milky drinks, watery drinks, pulpy drinks – look back languidly through those plastic vats. He can see himself, reflected in a different colour in each one.

He asks for teh tarik, a frothy condensed-milk version of his usual chai, and is asked to wait. He chooses a table and takes a stool, setting his rucksack down on the stool opposite. He unfolds a map of the city and tries to figure out where he has ended up. He often gets lost.

He hears voices nearby. A Chinese family – grandma and kids – have taken the next table. The table is meant for four, and since there are five of them, the grandmother chooses to stand while the little children establish themselves and clamour for food.

He takes his bag and places it on the floor, and asks the old woman to sit at his table. She is pleased. She thanks him, her wizened features crinkling into a delightful smile. He nods (he's not a very expressive sort, you understand) and returns to his map.

His tea arrives presently. “Teh tarik”, the woman smiles. He smiles back this time, and sips the happy liquid, and loses himself in thought. Tea always does that to him.

He feels a tug at his sleeve. The woman is saying something, and she is holding a small polythene bag. It contains bread-and-butter sandwiches. She points to her grandchildren, indicating that they have already helped themselves and that he should, too. He refuses, placing his palm on his tummy to indicate that he is full, and then wonders if it might be inappropriate by Chinese custom to decline an offer of food. He hopes that they make allowances for foreigners. But the woman does not seem offended, merely amused. He is relieved.

He presently finishes his teh tarik and leaves the foodcourt. He waves goodbye. She waves back.

“Aate jaate khoobsurat awara sadkon pe, kabhi kabhi, ittefaq se, kitne anjaan log mil jaate hain ..” Kishoreda tells him via the iPod. He agrees.

March 18, 2006

In which the One Solves a Problem

Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
And dines on the following day.

- Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark

It has come to one’s attention that one requires considerably more sleep than the average person. Ten-hour stretches, for the One, are practically de rigueur. The occasional eleven-hour marathon is savoured, and filed away in the memory for reminiscence purposes. Twelve is heaven.

The problem, actually, is not that one sleeps so much. The problem is when. The lateness of the hour that one goes to sleep, people, is surpassed only by the lateness of the hour that one wakes up.

But there was this brief period when one became an Early Riser, yes, a fugitive glimmer of Hope in the drowsy blur that this life has been. That was when one went to the Netherlands a while ago. For a week, everything was wonderful. One would wake up at hours of the extremely wee kind, gaze at the rising sun, think all sorts of profound sunrise-related thoughts, and then set off on a Brisk Morning Walk. And then one would return, positively wallowing in inspiration, bright-eyed, and raring, yes, raring to face the day. And, in the evening, one would be fast asleep by eight or nine. The folks back home began to believe that there was some hope yet for the One.

But they, in their usual optimism, had not bargained for the superbly adaptive nature of one’s body clock. A fortnight, and one was sleeping at Dutch hours that were, if anything, even unearthlier than the ol’ Singaporean ones.

Nevertheless, the experience helped one find a Solution. Yes. The Solution is to keep travelling westwards, moving on when the body clock adjusts. So from Singapore one flies to, say, Bombay where 3 am is only 12:30 am*, which is an entirely okay sort of time to crash. After a week or so (as the bedtime gradually approaches 3 am IST), one proceeds to Dubai, and a week after that to London, and then New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu. Then we cross the date line to find ourselves in Sydney, and then we’re back in Singapore. And then we start all over again, perhaps along different latitudes this time round. We lose days somewhere, of course **, but then we always did have too much time on our hands.

And if anybody is wondering how one plans perpetually to fund such Foggean travel one shall subject them to the Withering Look, for one does not like practical details getting in the way of Great Plans.

* One accepts, of course, that Indian Standard Time is the One True Time and that one is being rather pretentious hurrying along a couple of hours ahead.

** That’s one aspect of the time-difference thing that one cannot quite comprehend, but one is assured that it happens.

March 11, 2006


You make your way to the university library after a harrying day at the office**. You find the book you want after a prolonged and difficult search. (Libraries these days have computerized catalogue searches, but that is exactly the point.) Then, and only then, do you realise that you’ve forgotten your library card. You return to the Abode*** at an unearthly hour and in some dismay, and crash without even checking on the Blog.

And you make your way to the library again the next evening, library card securely in wallet, and search for the book again, and try to check it out, only to find that your membership has expired. At any other time this discovery would be heartening, for it means that the university finally (finally) admits that you’ve completed your course, but at this particular moment it is rather unwelcome. You are told that books cannot be borrowed by an Ex-Member (the very lowest form of library-life, if the look on the matron’s face is anything to go by), and then you are given several important-looking forms that you shall have to fill out if you wish to climb the evolutionary ladder and become a Regular Member (as opposed to a Student Member, which you proudly were until the dawn of that fateful day). You return to the Abode at an unearthly hour and in some dismay, and steel yourself for the form-filling activities that are undoubtedly going to take up most of the weekend.

And then, out of sheer spite, you choose to blog about it.

* this title is, of course, incomprehensible to the reader. Said reader may take solace in the fact that it is equally incomprehensible to the One.

** the library and the office, naturally, are at opposite ends of the city. Country, even.

*** the Abode and the library, naturally, are also at opposite ends of the city.


And then the blog goes missing. Again. Bad, bad bloggy.

This has been a most trying week. One is not amused at all.

March 02, 2006

Learning to text

Lend thy ears, for matters now
Of much importance we address.
Yes, this fine evening we’ll see how
One learned to send an SMS.

The day was dull, the skies were grey
And it was hot, to some degree.
One's walking down from point A (say)
To a place that we shall call point B.

There was a tea-place on the way
(On Ashram Road, one does recall)
And standing there, like every day,
Was Rameshbhai, who owned the stall.

As one waited for a cup
Of steaming hot masala chai,
One thought one might call Mom up
One thought of giving it a try.

(For one possessed in days of yore
A gadget one could call one’s own.
One carried and one did adore
One’s old and trusty mobile phone.)

One undertook this complex feat
Sweat pouring down this furrowed brow.
For (it must've been the heat)
One could not quite remember how.

How on earth was one to type
Numbers that made her cellphone ring?
(And thus began one’s general gripe
With every freaking gadget-thing.)

One was now in much dismay,
One had no further wish to live.
One’s expression, you might say
Was sufficiently expressive.

One was truly at a loss
A nervous breakdown had begun
But Rameshbhai, he walked across
And sat down right beside the One.

"You need to learn these things", he said
"Your skills we shall proceed to hone
But wait, before we go ahead,
How long have you, boy, had this phone?"

"Oh, maybe a year", one told him,
"Fourteen months, to be exact.
One called a friend once, on a whim.
(And yes, one does have friends, in fact.)"

"Learn to text, boy, helps a lot
It costs less than a call would, too."
(He was, as you might have thought,
A fine and businesslike Gujju.)

"Technology is vast, my boy,
But I shall be your trusty guide.
(Without intending to annoy - )
You can read, right?" he verified.

"Press this button, and you’ll see
A blank screen and a cursor too
That much I can guarantee;
But thereafter it’s up to you."

"Think of what you want to say
And write it out nice and concise.
Say what you wish to convey
And if you can’t, just write it twice."

He spoke (one thanked the Gods above)
On various relevant techniques.
Then he lent one his copy of
'SMSese in Seven Weeks'.

And tears of unbridled joy,
They freely flowed down from one’s eyes.
The Almighty, he doth deploy
A worthy angel in disguise.

"Ah, marvellous! Callooh! Callay!
‘Tis magical!" One cried out loud;
"One learnt something new today
The folks are gonna be so proud!"

That glorious evening did the trick.
One’s resumé now does profess,
"Well- travelled, and dynamic,
And conversant with SMS.

February 26, 2006

Parenthetically speaking

One is an ardent advocate of increasing the ambit of bracket-usage. One illustrates the advantages offered by this age-old precedence-clarification device.

Remember the Mary Poppins joke that goes

Bert : I know a man with a wooden leg named Smith.
Uncle Albert : What’s the name of his other leg?

A brief examination of the joke reveals the ambiguity that is being exploited here. We do not know if Bert is referring to a man with a wooden leg or to a wooden leg named Smith. This could probably be expressed succinctly in an axiom of the “subordinate clauses may not be interrupted by nonessential appositives” kind, but one slept through grammar classes at school. And through most other classes too, but that is irrelevant here.

Folks would point out that changing “man with a wooden leg” to “wooden-legged man” avoids the confusion. And they would be subjected to a withering look from the One*, because that sort of thing just wouldn’t work if you were talking about a chap with, say, a polka-dot bandanna.

But observe what happens when we use the new, lunula-enhanced version of the language:

Bert : I know a (man with a wooden leg) named Smith.
Uncle Albert : Er .. okay.

See? Problem solved. And it’s extensible too ..

Bert : I know a (man who wears a polka-dot bandanna and a cool Emraan Hashmi-style bomber jacket) named Smith.
Uncle Albert : Umm .. okay.

One agrees this might be a little inconvenient during a conversation (I know a open bracket man with a wooden leg close bracket …) but the speaker could make air-brackets with his hands, much like the air-quotes that seem to be rather popular these days amongst the hep set. And look how scientific it is. No misunderstandings. Much time saved, much money saved.

It seems one has come up with a patently patentable idea and destroyed a perfectly good joke. It’s nice to be productive for a change.

* Which is almost as alarming as one’s normal expression, one assures you.

February 20, 2006

Hopin', sesame

One was informed recently that the password one had been using to access a certain intranet was due to expire. In accordance with recently-implemented policy, the new password was required to

1) Be at least eight characters long.
2) Be different from the previous twelve passwords.
3) Contain at least three of the following : a) uppercase letters, b) lowercase letters, c) numbers, d) non-alphanumeric characters.

One wishes to protest. One finds these rules overly draconian, clearly intended to terrorize all but the most doughty of intellects. No telling how low these system administrator types can stoop – next they’ll be asking for palindromes, or original pangrams, or perfect villanelles. And one Draws the Line at being made to waste precious (and limited) brainpower on such matters, given that one’s passwords thus far have consisted of one’s name followed, to confound even the most devious of hackers, by the surname.

The fact that password-choosing is well on its way to becoming an exercise in creative writing would not bother one so much if it had not been for the need to remember passwords. Yes. One has realised that a password actually needs to be retained in the ol’ memory for extended periods of time, failing which many hassles ensue. Such insight has not, however, prevented such hassles from ensuing, and ensuing repeatedly, in the course of this brief but eventful existence.*

See, one usually keys in the username with a flourish .. and then, pfft (zppk? grrch?). Everything goes blank.

At this point one proceeds to follow a complicated but well-established procedure that involves delving deep into the nooks and crannies of this tangled mind, negotiating one’s way through a lifetime of cerebral (and not-so-cerebral) detritus in the hope of finding that elusive thingybob. This, despite the immense mental effort involved, does not usually give useful results, and one is left with no choice but to look for the system administrator. Who is invariably on holiday.

We need voice authentication. Iris recognition. DNA fingerprinting. Anything but passwords.

* One cannot, at this point, remember what one had for lunch yesterday (or even whether one had lunch yesterday) so asking one to remember a random string like MeghnaNaidu123 is, you would agree, a bit much. Especially when it needs to be changed to MeghnaNaidu124 in a couple of months.

February 16, 2006

Worse libre

Thought of writing
A poem today.
A modern sort of poem, you know.
Free verse, they call it.
You write it
just like you would write prose
Except you can be
even less coherent.
Then you break your lines
Arbitrarily, like
Add a few
important words
Let’s see .. dreams, yes, dreams
Teardrops and infinity, maybe
And, of course, love.
(Couldn’t leave that one out, could we.)
And you’re not to worry
About rhythm or
Different is avant-garde, after all.
And then, especially if you’re Asian
You talk about home
If you mix up your languages, better still
More exotic, you see.
Critical acclaim is assured.

There. Hey,
this is easy.
Let’s try
Abstract art next.

February 09, 2006

On data, or the lack thereof

Blogger, it seems, has been acting up lately. Comments have gone missing. Posts have gone missing. And, for a few hours a couple of days ago, one’s entire blog went missing.

“This document contains no data”, a little alert-box would cheerfully inform the millions (and millions) who undoubtedly tried to access this glorious webpage that morning (or afternoon, or evening, or whatever). One was, of course, amongst said multitudes. And one was Quite Dismayed, if truth be told. No data? No information, perhaps, but no data? A quarter of a million characters one has typed out, yes, a quarter of a million, over tens of thousands of lines, and it says no data?

Tragic it is, truly tragic. Reams and reams of pristine prose (and the occasional poem too, let us not forget) at the mercy of a fickle service provider. Ah, the sheer injustice of it all. That too after all the care one takes of this site. One checks on it every day, one tweaks the template regularly, one has even memorized the URL. One goes so far as to feel a paternal affection for it at times. And Blogger has the gall, the Gall, to chheenofy it from the One.

One seriously considered moving to one’s own domain, but that apparently requires a) money and b) technological knowledge, neither of which one can claim to possess in significant quantity.

Such is life.

February 02, 2006

Charming, tiptop, beautiful beautiful ..

Some may remember how the rapid growth of satellite television in India in the early nineties resulted in the proliferation of numerous nondescript channels dedicated to repeatedly broadcasting, of all things, film trailers.

The general lack of things to do in those days meant that one let oneself be subjected, at that impressionable age, to a continuous medley of aforesaid trailers. Trailers which were, naturally, full of phillum-songs. The effects, not surprisingly, linger to this very day. When one encounters blogposts that recall old advertisement-jingles and reminiscences like this one by heh heh, a few carefully-suppressed memories barge their way out of the subconscious and beg for an audience.

So let us discuss one particularly compelling phillum-song memory today, if only to achieve a sort of catharsis. For, as the Planthrin Borgess said, disturbing memories should not be bottled up within – they must be confronted.*

‘Tis the heady summer of ‘95. The young One is spending a vacation at the grandparental home, which happens to be located near a drive-in theatre. ‘Tis eleven o’clock at night, and the young One, having watched enough WWF for the day, prepares to curl up with a few Mandrake comics. Suddenly, he hears faint but bloodcurdling wails emanating from the aforementioned theatre. He listens, scared but fascinated.

A man’s voice, declaiming with much vigour:

We want girl, beautiful beautiful,
Charming, tiptop, beautiful, beautiful ..

And then a shrill, doubtless feminine retort:

We want boy, handsome handsome,
Dashing He-Man, Superman, Phantom ..

The young One covers his ears. He plugs them with cotton wool. He shuts the window. He burrows into the pillow. But nothing seems to help. He can still hear it. He considers drowning out the sound by playing something louder, but people are sleeping. He is in a most woeful predicament. He can do nothing but wait for it to finish.

And every night, at a few minutes past eleven, the young One is subjected to the aforementioned lyrics. By the end of the week, these lines are indelibly etched into his tender psyche. The young One is scarred for life.

The years pass. The young One becomes a Big Boy. He leaves the comforts of the beloved Desh and journeys to strange lands, meeting new people, seeing new sights, thinking new thoughts. But wherever he may go, every once in a while, when he least expects it, the lines return to haunt him. “Charming, tiptop, beautiful beautiful .. Dashing He-Man, Superman, Phantom ..”

And that, gentle reader, is the end of that particular phillum-song memory. One hopes that catharsis has been achieved. If the song does not haunt one any more, if the nightmares do not recur, one shall be thankful. ‘Nuff said.

* One does not have the faintest idea who the Planthrin Borgess might be, but then neither do you.

Update :

It seems people do not believe that such a song has ever been sung in Bollywood. While one is suitably outraged at the implication that this blog takes liberties with the truth (perish the thought!), one shall now go about the delicate business of Clearing One’s Good Name.

The lines in the post are from a song entitled Saawan Ka Mahina, Shaadi Bina Mushkil Hai Jeena. Phillum Hulchul. One cannot find the song on the web, unfortunately, but the reader might recall another song from the same film (a marginally better one) that went Pehli Dafaa Is Dil Mein Bhi Hulchul Si Hone Lagi.

So there.

Update the second :

S. (May She Blog For Ever) has given us this link. The gentle reader shall click on it and play the song in question.

January 27, 2006

The Techie Decalogue

It was with High Hopes and Noble Intentions that one chose to train oneself for the exalted profession of Engineering. One thought it would be mostly about warp drives and lightsabers and telling robots what to do (“A robot must not disturb the One during a game of Minesweeper or, through inaction, allow the One to be disturbed during said game”). It actually seems to involve mundane and extremely unglamorous things like debugging core dumps and writing system specifications, neither of which one has really got the hang of.

See, six years of concerted study have taught one remarkably little except for the fact that a penchant for computer games and science fiction cannot see a chap through. One finds oneself in the unenviable position of being a Techie Who Knows Nothing Of Things Technological (TWKNOTT).

Today one shall spare a thought for fellow TWKNOTTs. A few pointers (no pun intended) will, one hopes, go a long way towards making their lives easier. One delivers, O people, the Ten Commandments of TWKNOTT-dom:

1) When the in-house ubergeek (and there is always an in-house ubergeek – he’s the one who spends his weekends writing device drivers and was probably born hacking away at the Linux kernel) mutters something about how that newfangled filesystem doesn’t work too well with the Allegro library, thou shalt silently nod in agreement.

2) Thou shalt occasionally remark, in reply to aforementioned ubergeek, that thou hast heard rumours that the aforementioned filesystem doesn’t take too kindly to UPnP either. If feeling particularly enthusiastic (or if it is a Friday afternoon), thou shalt add that it is only possible to verify these matters by running simulations using the Parallel Virtual Machine. Over the Secure Shell. With private-key encryption.

3) Thou shalt liberally pepper conversations with the words “robustness” and “scalability”. They’re powerful concepts, those two, and may be used in connection with many different things, like hardware, software, organizational structure, and the secretary’s new lipstick.

4) Whenever a fellow techie describes what he is doing, thou shalt ask him what layer of the OSI model he works at. This question is almost universally applicable, and you’ll sound pretty clever asking it.

5) If someone utters an incomprehensible acronym-with-numeric-suffix, thou shalt retort with acronym-with-larger-numeric-suffix. For example, if talk turns to MPEG-2, thou shalt immediately speak of the more advanced MPEG-4. If someone then dares to move to MPEG-7, you may raise him all the way up to MPEG-21 (which is so advanced it hasn’t even been developed yet). Thereafter thou shalt start with H.263. And then thou mayst go pretty much as far as thy heart desires.

6) Thou shalt refer to “levels of abstraction” at least twice in every conversation (more if it’s an interview). This, again, is a powerful term, so you need not worry much about where you use it.

7) Whenever thou hast no clue how to solve a certain problem, thou shalt reveal to fellow workers (in a suitably low tone) that the problem is so difficult you’re thinking of using a neural network. This shall suitably impress everyone, and you can always tell them later that it didn’t work because the damn thing wasn’t intelligent enough.

8) Thou shalt regularly perpetrate extremely bad techie puns – these are actually well received by other techies. Thou mayst begin with something basic, something along the lines of

Q. How did the operating system know how to execute the shell script?
A. The interpreter mentioned it in parsing.

9) If having tea with desi techies, thou shalt give in to temptation and disseminate substandard Sholay jokes based upon the unsuspecting Samba suite.

10) Thou shalt account for the fact that the person you are talking to might be a TWKNOTT too. If such is indeed the case, the two of you may merrily undertake the task of preparing additional tips for fellow TWKNOTTs.

January 20, 2006

Second star to the right … and straight on till morning

It is a balmy Singapore afternoon. One is walking around town, occasionally consulting a tattered old streetmap, occasionally slipping into a café or a bookstore, but mostly just wandering. At one point, as one peers at the map to decide whether it would be better to walk straight along Orchard Road or to go south for a riverside stroll, an elderly couple approach and ask where one wishes to go. One cannot refuse their help, for that would seem ungrateful. So one tells them that one wishes to be at the riverside, and listens patiently as they kindly proceed to give detailed directions.

Let us, at this point, cut to a busy Amsterdam street just over six months ago (we shall not use fancy dissolves or fade-out/fade-in effects. That’s just so Bollywood.) One is walking around town, occasionally consulting a tattered old streetmap, occasionally slipping into a café or a bookstore, but mostly just wandering. At one point, as one peers at the map to decide whether it would be better to walk straight along to the museums or to proceed to places-that-cannot-be-mentioned-on-PG-rated-blog (purely, one hastens to clarify, for .. er .. sightseeing), a rather intimidating biker-type dude approaches and asks where one wishes to go. One cannot refuse his help, for that would seem ungrateful. So one tells him that one wishes to be at the van Gogh museum*, and listens patiently as he kindly proceeds to give detailed directions.

And there lies the problem. You see, one does not need directions – for the whole point of having a map is that it allows one to find one’s own way around. One cannot understand why folks assume that the merest glance at it implies that one is lost. It’s come to the point where one has to hide in phone booths and behind bus-stop shelters and sometimes in McDonald’s restrooms to unfold the map and steal a quick look at it without being interrupted.

And so we come to the crux of the matter. One wishes to make a personal appeal on this blog. If you, gentle reader, ever see a geeky sort of chap (mid-twenties, dark hair, dark eyes, underweight) walking around your hometown, occasionally consulting a dog-eared streetmap and perpetually wearing a faintly bewildered expression, please do not offer to help him. He is doing just fine by himself. Merci much.

*In retrospect, one thinks it would’ve been possible to hitch a ride if one had wanted to go to the places-that-cannot-be-mentioned-on-PG-rated-blog.

January 14, 2006

Sounds like twentysomething spirit

One has finally shaken off the Vogonic influences. Let us proceed with regular programming. One was pondering the implications of this post, in which the Urban Junkie discusses the dubiousness of onomatopoeic representation.

One has a problem with onomatopoeia. The fact remains that, if one focuses hard enough, one can make any sound sound like almost anything. (That sentence should be edited. But one shall not bother.) Like the trick with the picture of the candlestick and the two faces, it’s all in the mind.

One pretends that the rain goes pitter-patter, but one could equally pretend that it recites logarithmic tables to three decimal places. Brooks are known to gurgle and to babble, but it doesn’t take much to imagine that they’re gossiping or singing or vociferously debating the meaning of existence. (Incidentally, one is quite sure of having heard a pair of noisy airplane engines patiently narrate the complete text of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And one swears that the 8:54 from Borivali to Churchgate goes “Thackeray-Thackeray”.)

Such quasi-synesthetic propensities could be ascribed, of course, to one’s general weirdness. But it seems that the problem is not unique to this individual. The Americans maintain that dogs go “bow-wow” while the English say that it’s actually a more dignified “woof-woof”. In China, they apparently prefer “wang-wang”. For onomatopoeia, it seems, is no more than an auditory Rorschach test. The subject, presented with a largely neutral stimulus, hears what he wishes to hear.

The fickleness of it all is proven by the observation that filmi hearts, having followed for decades their characteristic dhak-dhak and dhadak-dhadak patterns, now tend to go mmm.

January 04, 2006

Pilgrim's progress

One debated, one demurred
How should it be revealed online?
In poetry, or prose perhaps
Or both of them, in intertwine?

One might’ve done a weepy post
So full of longing and despair
And written little paeans to
Each windmill, every tulip there.

One could’ve done a Hindi song
One could’ve gone the filmi way
Discussed musafir zindagis
(But then one does that everyday.)

One might’ve tried to go descriptive
Pepped things up with foreign lore
Quoted different Dutch poets,
Gone heavy on the metaphor.

One thought long and hard, one did
Then one decided to be brief
So one shall spare thee, gentle reader!
(Reader heaves sigh of relief.)

So one shall tell it like it is:
One ain’t where one was before.
One shall tell it straight and true:
One now resides in Singapore.