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 clich├ęd.)

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.