Monday, December 29, 2003

For Want of a Better Title: Happy New Year

Another year is coming to an end. And I am sad. I am sad because I didn’t really make this one count. For that matter I haven’t made the last 21 years count either. Everyday I go to sleep, not because I am tired and exhausted by the day’s work, but because I have nothing better to do. I don’t remember the last time I slept after being completely spent and used; each and every muscle of my body aching for some respite from the hard work. I don’t remember the last time I said out loud, “That is a good day’s work. I need some rest now.” There are no accomplishments since there are no goals. I am just hanging on to one last ray of hope – the confidence that I am on the right path – the path that leads to being satisfied at the end of the day. That is the goal of my otherwise goal-less life: to sleep when I am exhausted because of the day’s work.

Let me start by giving an account of what has happened since 21st November, the last time I blogged. CAT got cancelled and I was disappointed for two reasons: I had done considerably well and now I’ll have to go through the whole charade of giving it again. Theatre Y, my theatre group, finished the poetry reading program ‘Rhyme and Reason’ organized by the British Council in Chennai’s leading schools. We also did a book reading of Raj Kamal Jha’s latest book ‘If You are Afraid of Heights’ as part of the book launch by Picador publishers and British Council. We got excellent reviews in the newspapers (check out what the Hindu Link 1 Link 2 had to say about us). Finally I finished my end semester exams in IIT.

During the first week of December the Park hotel organized a festival called ‘The Other Festival’ - seven days of plays, music and dance performances from artists all over the country and some from abroad. The shows were held in the auditorium of Chinmaya Heritage Center and I must say that it is one of the best auditoriums in Chennai for putting up a play. I attended five performances and I enjoyed the poetry reading by Zohra Sehgal the most. I will abstain from saying anything about the other shows. But more than the shows the most lasting memory from those seven days was the smile of a girl who I saw five times.

I was doing some research and writing an article on Memory Aid Techniques around that time. I was trying to explain to a good friend, the various features in a person’s face which leave a lasting impression. A good smile according to me will register the face instantly. No wonder Julia Roberts is so popular. It is not because she is exceedingly hot or is a great actress. It is all because of that million-dollar smile. The moment I said this, I remembered the face of this girl I had seen the previous day. The same friend had introduced me to her and I saw her again on successive visits to the Other Festival. Even after three weeks her face haunts me. And this hasn’t happened for the first time. It has happened on previous occasions also with other faces. It is my firm belief that this is the Universe’s way of telling me to wake up and do something about my life. Opportunity has knocked on my door a number of times, it has even gatecrashed into my life’s boring party a number of times but I have been too dumb-witted to recognize it. Anthony Hopkins said in ‘Meet Joe Black’: Lightning may strike. And I have been waiting a long time for lightning to strike. But it hasn’t. So its high time that I strike back. 2004 here I come.

Time to make some New Year resolutions. And this could take some time. So I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

The minute a man is convinced that he is interesting, he isn't.

Friday, November 21, 2003

First Set of Musings

I have a lot to write about, many things have grabbed my attention in the last couple of days. Being a social animal who takes pride in his skills of observing others and finding out the stories behind their faces, it is not only my interest but in some odd way my duty to write and narrate these stories. In writing these stories I use the data gathered from my various faculties as well as employ the power of my imagination. But this is where fact and fiction separate into almost two parallel lines, never touching each other, but always staring at each other from the same fixed distance, ad infinitum. Imagination is the key ingredient which makes fiction different from fact. It adds that little bit of spice which makes reality a little more appetizing. Fiction, standing on the thin line between what is and what could be. Fiction: What dreams may come? That is how I like to think about it. Dreams written on pieces of paper or typed out on a word processor, running on an ancient almost obsolete machine- purchased with other pieces of paper that came out of my father’s pocket or from that little plastic card. After all there are few things that money can’t buy, for everything else there is dad’s credit card.

Musing One
There is this nice little eating place on Cathedral Road where I go quite often. The quality of chat items is amazing and the ambience is really nice. A lot of young college people hang out in this place. One day as I was going about savoring every last piece of my order a big Gujrati business family walked in. There was an old lady who was probably the head of the house hold and accompanying her were her three daughters-in-law with a whole bunch of toddlers.

The old lady was a domineering woman with complete control over the workings of her family. Her sons kept calling her on the four mobiles that each of them were carrying and asking her permission to do this and that. She made the owner of the place take her order even though the place is a self-service restaurant. She sat like an old powerful queen on the chair with her family members sitting all around her trying to please her and elevate themselves in her eyes. I was impressed by this matriarchal display of authority in what seemed to be an otherwise traditional Gujrati Indian family.

But then my eyes fell on the three daughters-in-law. All of them were wearing sarees and their heads were covered with the pallu as a mark of respect towards their mother-in-law (or maybe they had no other choice but to keep their heads covered). None of them looked a day over twenty-five and in fact one of them looked even younger than me. She had a baby in her arms and every now and then she would look at it and give a small, almost invisible and inaudible sigh. All of them had a smile on their face, a very synthetic smile, a very artificial smile which was not in keeping with the great food I was having.

I stopped eating to take a better look at them, to peer through their eyes and see the truth behind those fake smiles. All I could see were broken dreams and crushed ambitions. All around them were young people talking excitedly about their future plans, their careers, the new film in the theatres; and sitting there with their heads covered and listening intently yet uninterestedly to an old queen were these three young women. Marriage and motherhood slapped on their faces.

One could argue that they were happily married and what woman wouldn’t want to be a mother. May be the only ambition they ever nurtured was to become a house wife and raise sons who would grow up and marry more women like them or raise daughters who would be married off into other such families. May be they all enjoyed covering their heads with the pallu and listening to the words of wisdom of the old queen. But why did I hear the faint cry of a dream, a dream which knew its end was inevitable. She looked at the baby and took another sigh. May be a new dream was born.

Musing Two

An Ode and a Stanza went out on a date.
They had a few drinks of Romanticism
And decided to mate.

After a few syllables a poem was conceived.
Ms Ode couldn’t hide it
Such news is hard to conceal.

A few rhymes later the poem was born.
They decided to call it an Epic
Since it smelled like Bourbon.

© Anshumani Ruddra

Musing Three

I think I suffer from Pathetic Fallacy.
I see a human being in a lump of clay.
No cure can be found for my disease
After all I am the protagonist
Of a surreal post-modernist play.

© Anshumani Ruddra

I will end this session of musings with these beautiful words of Spike Milligan:

This evening in the twilight’s gloom
A butterfly flew in my room
O what beauty, O what grace
Who needs visitors from outer space?

- From Spike Milligan’s collected poems Hidden Words.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Am I an A4 Size Sheet of Paper?

This cannot be happening. I cannot let the month of October go by without blogging even once. This is an offence of the gravest nature: I being a person addicted to writing. It is an unpardonable crime. So I am sentenced to writing a 500 word blogs every two weeks from now on (I might be punishing all of you in the process). Now that everything is set in order I have to decide where to get the remaining 413 words from.

Life in the last one month had become a triangle whose nodes were Theatre Y (my theatre group), Shaastra and CAT (the entrance exam for the IIMs). Shaastra became the largest technical festival in the country, both in terms of the events as well as the contribution of the industry in terms of cash and kind. We also got the much sought after ISO 9001 certification for Shaastra making it the first event in the world to get this certification. My public relations and publicity work left me very satisfied and exhausted. Next stop Saarang (the cultural festival of IIT Madras, to be held from 21st to 26th January 2004)! The theatre workshop progressed further into voice exercises and poetry reading. I started work on another play which I am temporarily calling 'Sane Asylum'. Preparations for CAT are in full flow (finally!!) but with less than a month left I am beginning to panic a little. Diwali was spent with my family and provided much needed change of atmosphere. The finals of the Main Quiz are tomorrow and I am really looking forward to winning it (with my teammate Neela's recent form this should not be a problem).

One thing which has always interested me in a non-obsessive kind of way is astrology. The concept that every twelfth man (roughly) in this world has a similar future has always bewildered me. A newly acquired friend asked me my sun sign. "Cancer" I said. "Oh! You are one of the what-if-people.", came the immediate reply. Another half an hour of questioning and interrogation from my side introduced me to concepts I couldn't have come up with even in my wildest imaginations (and believe me they can get really wild and crazy). My friend went on to attribute all my habits to 'typical Cancerian behaviour'. I was shocked, surprised and horrified at the same moment (I wish I could have looked at my face; these things don't happen to often, it was a Kodak moment). I, Anshumani Ruddra was stereotypical and representative of one-twelfth of humanity. It has taken me two days to snap out of this uselessness. I felt like an A4 size sheet of paper, no two different from each other. I felt like a mass produced piece of equipment. I felt like a grain stored in a container with other thousands of grains. Luckily for me none of the predictions made in Sunday’s newspaper have come true so far. I was supposed to find 'true love' (what ever that means) and start a relationship that was supposed to last for ever ("till death do us apart"). So now I can go back to feeling unique: I am the beautiful poem written on the A4 size paper, not the paper itself; I do not need the paper to survive.

Poetry is the only thing these days which is adding colour to my life. I was recently introduced to the poems of Roger McGough and I can now claim to be one of his biggest fans. McGough is a genius, with absolute command over his words and I have never seen anyone wield the pen with greater poetic power.


I think about dying.
About disease, starvation,
violence, terrorism, war,
the end of the world.

It helps
keep my mind off things.

Roger McGough

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Could You Introduce Me to Your Lawn Tractor?

Dave Barry is perhaps one of the most gifted writers I have ever read. His books have inspired countless TV sitcoms and the guy is a living legend. His weekly column is syndicated in over 400 newspapers. Barry won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary and is also the subject of CBS's "Dave's World," based on his irreverent life and times. The following is an article he wrote in the Miami Herald. All men have had similar thoughts at some point or the other but it takes a Dave Barry to say it correctly. This one is for all the women out there.

By DAVE BARRY©(Miami Herald)

So I was at this party, and I wound up at a table where three attractive single women were complaining about -- Surprise! -- men. Specifically, they were complaining about the pickup lines that had been used on them in a bar a few nights earlier.

One woman said: "This guy comes up to me and says, 'Are you a teacher?'I mean, is that supposed to be romantic?''

All three women rolled all six of their eyes.

Another one of them said: "This guy says to me, 'I've been looking at you all night!' So I go, 'Hel-LO, we just GOT here.'''

At this point all three women -- and I want to stress that these are intelligent, nice women -- were laughing. Not me. I was feeling bad for the guys. I realize that there are certain hardships that only females must endure, such as childbirth, waiting in lines for public-restroom stalls, and a crippling, psychotic obsession with shoe color. So I grant that it is not easy being a female. But I contend that nature has given males the heaviest burden of all: the burden of always having to Make the First Move, and thereby risk getting Shot Down. I don't know WHY males get stuck with this burden, but it's true throughout the animal kingdom. If you watch the nature shows on the Discovery Channel, you'll note that whatever species they are talking about -- birds, crabs, spiders, clams -- it is ALWAYS the male who has to take the initiative. It's always the male bird who does the courting dance, making a total moron of himself, while the female bird just stands there, looking aloof, thinking about what she's going to tell her girlfriends. ("And then he hopped around on one foot! Like I'm supposed to be impressed by THAT!''). Male insects have it the worst. The Discovery Channel announcer is always saying things like: "After the mating, the female mantis bites off the male mantis' head, and then she and her girlfriend mantises use it to play a game that looks a lot like Skee Ball.''

Because I live in Florida, my patio is basically a giant singles bar for lizards. On any given day during mating season, I'll see dozens of male lizards out there making their most suave lizard move, which consists of inflating and deflating a red pouch under their chins. They seem to think that female lizards really go for a guy with a big chin pouch, but I have never once, in 14 years of close observation, seen a female respond. They just squat there looking bored, while all around them males are blinking on and off like defective warning lights.

Every now and then you'll see an offbeat TV news story about some animal, usually a moose, that has for some reason fallen in love with, and decided to relentlessly court, something totally inappropriate, such as a lawn tractor. This animal is ALWAYS a male. On the TV, they show it hanging around the lawn tractor with a big, sad, moony look, totally smitten, while the lawn tractor cruelly ignores it.

My point here is that, in matters of the heart, males have the brains of a walnut. No, wait! That is not my point. My point is that perhaps you women could cut us males a little bit of slack in the move-making process, because we are under a lot of stress. I vividly remember when I was in 10th grade, and I wanted to call a girl named Patty and ask her to a dance, and before I picked up the phone, I spent maybe 28 hours rehearsing exactly what I was going to say. So when I actually made the call, I was pretty smooth. "Hello, Dance?'' I said. "This is Patty. Do you want to go to the Dave with me?'' Fortunately Patty grasped the basic thrust of my gist and agreed to go to the dance. This was a good thing, because if she had shot me down, I would have been so humiliated that I would have never have been able to go back to school. I would have dropped out of 10th grade and lied about my age and joined the U.S. armed forces, and as a direct result the Russians would have won the Cold War.

That is the awesome power that you women have over us men. I hope you understand this, and the next time a guy walks up and uses some incredibly lame, boneheaded line on you, I hope that, instead of laughing at him, you will remember that he is under the intense pressure of wanting to impress you enough so that you might want to get to know him better and maybe eventually, perhaps within the next 15 minutes, mate with him, thereby enabling the survival of the human race, which believe me is the only thing that we males are truly concerned about. In conclusion, let me just say to all females everywhere, on behalf of all males everywhere, that you are very beautiful and your eyes are like two shining stars, unless you're a female fly, in which case your eyes are more like 2,038 shining stars. So please give us a chance. And if you're not interested, could you introduce us to your lawn tractor?

Friday, September 05, 2003

We Stink, Therefore We Are

I have been in the business of PR all my life. I have lived in seven different cities and changed eight schools over the years. IIT is my ninth educational institute and if my mom's wishes come true then double digits aren't too far away. Most people consider the whole business of shifting schools and making new friends a rather painful experience. I on the other hand took this up as a challenge and tried to make a new bunch of friends in the shortest possible time. This helped me to become a good reader of people's character and an expert conversationalist. Those skills are coming in handy now that I am handling PR for both our cultural and technical festivals (namely Saarang and Shaastra): talking to media people, inviting other colleges, coming up with smarter publicity techniques and generally intellectualizing and prophesizing the futures of these events.

Shaastra, our technical festival is going into its fifth edition and this would be the fourth and the final time that I would be a part of the organizing team. I have seen it grow in front of my eyes and have dreamt about its future with my friends. I hope that we have built something that will outlive all of us and though we would be forgotten, this tree that we have planted will grow to give shade to thousands of others. I think I am getting carried away with emotions over here. May Shaastra live on for ever!

So many years of effort in quizzing is finally bearing some fruit. My team qualified for two quizzes in IIT and I surprised a lot of people including myself by qualifying for the elocution finals. The title of this blog also happens to be the name of my team which is self explanatory (we don't really stink; we just make others despise us because we are better than them). I also became a member of a local theatre group called Theatre Y. I am attending a workshop organized by the group which would eventually lead to a production. Though the thrust is on acting, this would also provide a platform for me to write some good plays which might get produced. It is always nice to meet people from different backgrounds, working in varied fields but sharing similar passions and interests. I started writing a parody of 'Waiting for Godot' by Samuel Beckett on an idea given by a friend and also put finishing touches to 'Cupid in Love', a play I had started writing almost an year back. Maybe I'll put up the final draft online. Thoughts are getting converted to words more easily these days and there is a new clarity in my thinking. I leave with these words of wisdom by the master GB Shaw:
Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Champions at Last

Some very observant people have pointed out that in my previous blog, about unending failures, I mentioned a Pair of Pathetic Peripatetics © and referred to myself as 'we'. One of the Peripatetics is of course me and the other one is my dear friend, personal philosopher and guide Rahul. There is such a long list of activities in which we have been involved together that it is hard to believe that we have known each other only for a period of three years and our friendship is just two years old. Even our personal and academic lives have been following the same downward spiral. One failure after another, it just kept on going. But we have brought that to an end (and I hope for once and for all). Rahul made himself immortal in IIT history by getting a perfect score (1600/1600) in GRE and yours truly landed a management job with diversified conglomerate Larsen and Toubro after a grueling round of three tests and two interviews spread over a period of two weeks.

Life suddenly seems full of promise and I have again started walking with my head held high. I can almost feel the proverbial spring in my feet. But as our good old friend Al Pacino said in The Devil’s Advocate: Vanity is my (the devil’s) favorite sin. We will not let this success go to our heads because there are more battles to be fought, more castles to be won and a lot of flowers to be deflowered (no offence meant to any one, the devil has taken over me). So now I can put all my energy into making my final year in IIT the most memorable year of my life and give the people something they will not forget for a long time.

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The Bibliophile and a Pair of Pathetic Peripatetics ©

Peripatetic, an adjective which, when capitalized, refers to the philosophy or followers of Aristotle, so-called because Aristotle taught while walking in the Lyceum of ancient Athens. Without the initial capital letter, it is used (usually humorously) to describe someone who walks or travels about.

Life has become a series of unending failures over the past couple of years. We have been wandering about trying to find that one great success which will help us to redeem our lost pride. Of course there are a few small things which cheer us up every now and then and make us believe that we achieved something. But what we need is some cataclysmic event (not necessarily a disastrous one but definitely an earth-shaking one) to change the course of our life and bring us back on track. It could be getting a good job (I am keeping my fingers crossed, L&T or bust) or acing GRE. The only thing which helps me to maintain my faith in life is my firm belief that good things happen to good people.

On a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks back I was thinking about the future. When I die would the world remember me? What would be the legacy I will leave behind? The only thought that entered my mind at that time was the following:

Set up the world's largest book shop with more than one million square feet of space to walk around and browse for books. A place where people will come with their families, to spend the day and enjoy the company of books. Of course there will be amazing coffee and grub available and there will be a playing area for children where I would read out fairy tales and poems to the kids. Books of the highest quality will be available at the cheapest possible price. There will be a reading area also where you can sit and read a book and attend Book Club meetings. Famous writers will give lectures and read their poetry and short stories. Books will not be arranged in a dim-witted fashion (where there is no distinction between science-fiction and fantasy) and they will be kept in parabolic stands so that people don't have to stoop to see the books at the bottom. Books will not be sold by sales people who don't know anything about books; they will be sold by sales people who are absolutely crazy about books. Going to this book shop would be an experience which people will remember for the rest of their lives. People from all over the world will visit it in large numbers. I just hope I have enough money one day to realize my dream.

I got some unusual reactions from my friends on my last blog. The changes in my personality are not very apparent and that is a good thing according to me. But the focus is definitely there and it is there to stay. I have been receiving some flak from women about my obsession with being cute. Raindrops and anonymous want me to get a grip on myself and even others agree with them that girls who refer to a guy as ‘nice’ really mean what they are saying. I sincerely apologize to all the women out there. It was not out of the shallowness of my character that the blog entry came about; it was rather out of my experience with a very limited number of women. I haven’t really met a women so far who has made me think otherwise. It was never my intention to generalize women or demean them in any way. In the future please leave your email ids behind so I can apologize to you personally.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

The Beast Within

Wow! It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog entry. It has actually been a long time since I wrote anything. I am back in IIT and life has slowly slipped itself into the old routine of spending time at my DCF (department computational facility) and sitting and chatting with friends at our usual hangout places. There is one difference though, a big one. This is the last year we will be spending in this glorious place called IIT. There is a look of anticipation and nervousness on everyone’s face. Will we get a good job, will we get an MS in a reputed american university, and will we be able to make it to the IIMs. These are some of the questions on everyone’s mind. Although most of us are looking forward to the new challenges we’ll be facing in the ‘real’ world, all of us are afraid at a certain level about leaving the secure and carefree life that IIT has provided us for the last couple of years. The happy days are going to end soon. But our world will not end with a whimper; it will end with a bang.

For the first time in many years I have achieved the kind of focus I always wanted. I have slowly been feeding the monster of competitiveness which had been lying dormant inside me for the last five years. This is one side of me which most of my friends have never seen and which most of them wouldn’t like. But I have learnt a very valuable secret in the last few years: I have learned how to tame this beast that I can become. However, I am unleashing it now and the world will have to live with this new change and accept me for who I am. This is the only way I can achieve the targets I have set out for myself. I will revert back to the good old me as soon as this personal mission is fulfilled.

My summer training ended on a cheerful note. DRL was happy with me and I was happy with them. The time spent there made me realize that I was an excellent engineer and the time I had spent in the classroom over the last three years hadn’t gone to waste. It however strengthened my conviction of not working in the field of Chemical Engineering.

Life has been worrying me for some days now and my father has been trying to cheer me up. He gave me some advice the other day which can be perfectly summarized by one of Cat Stevens' song. I hope some day I am able to give the same advice to my son.

It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

I would like to end this blog by wishing all my friends the very best of luck with their GREs. Congratulations to all those who got a job in the last week.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

10101 and Still Counting but Mr. Nice-Guy No More

The other day I was walking around in Lifestyle (huge Mall in Hyderabad) and came across a father and son who were trying to buy some computer games. The son wanted to buy everything there was on the shelf and the father was trying to convince him that he would play the games for a few days and then get bored. The son wasn’t going to give up easily and the father too was a hard nut to crack. Six-seven years back that could have been my dad and me. Seeing the patient father talking to his son made me laugh at all the pitiful tricks I used to pull off to get what I wanted when I was young. Yes it’s hard to believe but it is true – I have matured and grown older. The final blow to my juvenile days came when I got bored playing Quake and UT. I could not believe what was happening. Computer games, my love and hobby for the past so many years did not interest me any longer. I decided that the next time I play any game on the computer, it would be with my children.

Tomorrow I turn 21 and that means I can legally vote and get married in any country of the world. I decided long back that I was never going to vote because of my complete lack of faith in the democratic system and my extreme hatred of all politicians. So one of my legal right becomes useless. Getting married on the other hand is always on my mind and I am a firm believer and supporter of the institution of marriage (find me a girl today and I’ll get married tomorrow). Jokes aside I do feel that purely arranged marriages in today’s world are a complete failure. They were successful in the past because of the extreme control of the society even in private matters, which always led to a compromise between the husband and wife. Even when the couples were miserable they pretended to be happily married to keep the rest of the world happy.

The times have changed and couples have stopped compromising. If an arranged marriage ends in a divorce then the couple can blame a lot of people including their parents for the failure of their marriage. But why should others take this responsibility. The best option today is to let kids go ahead and get married. If their marriage fails, tough luck. At least they cannot blame others for their own mistakes. Luckily my parents share my views on this. So I have seven more years to find myself a girl and get married otherwise my parents take over the process. That’s 2555 days or 61320 hours or 3679200 minutes more. The last figure does give me some hope but I can hear the clock ticking inside my head.

Another great thing that happened in Lifestyle that day was the end of the long battle between me being cute and me being nice. I think this battle does deserve a little background (most of my friends would think I have lost my mind for feeling so happy about such a dumb thing).

I am quite sure that I make a good first impression on people (people mean girls from now on). But for some odd reason people always thought that I am a very nice guy. Now there is nothing wrong in being nice but when you find out that there are just three things that people (i.e. girls) say about guys after having met them, you realize that you did not get the best compliment. The ranking of these compliments goes something like this: Uuuggghhh, Nice and Cute. I don’t think I need to explain the first one. The second means exactly how the dictionary defines it:

A city of southeast France on the Mediterranean Sea northeast of Cannes. Controlled by various royal houses after the 13th century, the city was finally ceded to France in 1860. It is the leading resort city of the French Riviera. Population: 342,903.

Sorry! wrong definition:

Pleasing and agreeable in nature, exhibiting courtesy and politeness, of good character and reputation, respectable.

That’s exactly what girls think about you. But there is more. Being nice also means that you are good enough to be their best friend but not good enough to be their boy friend. It means the girls feel protected in your company (like the company of their elder brothers) and see you as a harmless creature. The mother of the girl friend of one our close friend remarked that IITians are harmless and she doesn’t mind her daughter hanging around with us. Though she meant it as a compliment, it is the main reason why so few of us have girl friends. Being called Nice is as bad as being called Gay (although there is nothing wrong in being gay).

The third and the highest form of a compliment is Cute. Not only does the girl like you but she also wouldn’t mind going out with you if she already didn’t have a boyfriend. There have been only two occasions in my life (about which I know) that a good looking girl (yeah looks don’t matter that much but they do) called me cute. But it happened to be the same girl on both the occasions and I did end up going out with her. However I have been called Nice so many times by so many girls that I was beginning to loose faith in the cosmic truth: Good things happen to good people.

But last week in Lifestyle Mr. Cute won the battle over Mr. Nice so triumphantly that there is no chance in hell that Mr. Nice will ever surface again. Four gorgeous (hot) young women (all over the age of 18) found me extremely cute. Only I know what such a thing can do to ones confidence. I felt like farmer Oak in Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd:

When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.

I am cute, I am 21 and life is good. What more can a man ask for.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Wordsworth and the Bliss of Solitude

I have finally found a good Comments adding feature for my blog. had a preset limit of 400 characters for all comments (they think commenting is like sending a SMS). So I had to search for a new service provider and I am happy that I found Enetation - annotations for your site

Blogging and publishing journals on the web has really caught the frenzy of the web community. More and more developers (luckily most of them followers of the Open Source movement) are developing blogging software that can be run on our web servers and many others are providing online facilities to publish blogs on their sites as well as ftp them to our own sites. Blogging will go a long way in achieving the ‘One world, One people’ motto for which I believe the Internet stands. Blogs are helping people the world over to share their views and thoughts on matters that range from the most trivial to ones that are of immense importance. It gives us a way to share our lives with the rest of humanity. I hope the blogging community increases both in its passion and its importance.

For me blogging has become both a hobby as well as a medium to express my thoughts.

I have been reading a lot of poetry these days and I am deeply moved by the words of Wordsworth. I suppose I am finally experiencing the bliss of solitude.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.

From William Wordsworth's 'I wandered lonely as a cloud ...'

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Serendipity and the Circular Geometry of Relationships

A couple of days back I saw the movie Serendipity starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. The word ‘serendipity’ was coined by Horace Walpole in the 18th century, from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip (Serendip is an old name for the island now known as Sri Lanka). It means finding something unexpected and useful while searching for something else entirely. The central idea of the movie was that for a few moments the whole universe could just exist to bring two people together. This thought appealed to me. I consider myself a romantic to a certain degree. I do like watching the occasional ‘mushy’ movie. But they make very few good romantic movies these days: movies that have a certain element of fairytale-like magic and yet are realistic and believable. However I believe that unexpected things do happen in our lives. Things that we simply reject as coincidences are often slight hints and indications from the universe that it still remembers us and cares for us.

The late Douglas Adams in his Dirk Gently and Hitchhiker's series stressed on the interconnectedness of everything in this universe. This basic principle leads to some very interesting discoveries. The method of Zen Navigation, which is described in Dirk Gently series, can make for an amazing pass time. All you need is a car and a free afternoon. Just go out on the main road and follow any person who you feel knows where s/he is going. You could end up visiting some very interesting places.

Life does present us with a lot of opportunities but it is up to us to identify these signs and make the best of the situation. From my own personal experience and from the experience of some of my friends I have come up with a theory about the Circle of Life:

Let us consider ourselves the center of a circle and all the people we know (family, friends, girl-friend/s, etc.) to be arcs of different lengths on the circumference. The lengths of these arcs are directly proportional to our love for these people and their size can decrease or increase over time. The radius of this circle is a measure of our age and reaches a constant value around the time we are thirty. The area subtended by an arc at the center is a measure of the hard work and love that has gone into the relationship. Anyone who was ever a part of our life would always be a part of this circle no matter what.

When a child is born its radius is small and its parents take up the entire circumference. As one grows older, friends come into the picture and take their place on the bigger circle. The length of the parents arc is however still of the same length. By the time one reaches the age of 20, family and friends constitute nearly three-quarters of our circle. But a quarter of our circle is still unoccupied. This is a cause of a lot of unhappiness and unrest in our life. We are constantly looking for the person who will come into our lives and fill up this gap. In the case of men we are looking for the right women with whom we can spend the rest of our lives (yeah some men could be looking for other men but that doesn’t really matter). This state of unrest leads to many conquests and journeys. Girl friends come and go. But the gap cannot be filled as long as one-quarter area worth of hard work and love hasn’t gone into the relationship.

Some people are lucky and fall in love with each other instantly (remember it can be love only if both the people involved feel the same way about each other). Others have to work very hard to get the other person to fall in love with them. This process can go on for a long time and passes through various stages. It can be very tough and emotionally draining at times. One has to put his heart and soul into the whole thing and forget everything else. Many poets and writers have achieved greatness because of the work they produced during this period. But all our attempts can fail some times. That however should not stop us from following this path. Perseverance is the only way to survive in the game of love.

The other group of lucky bastards who had it easy in the beginning also have to work very hard in the later stages. Since they by-passed the stages of friendship, trust and commitment, they have to make up for it later. The relationship cannot survive as long as the quota of hardships and heartache is not full. The group, which was lucky initially, is the one that fails more often than the other group.

Some of us try to fill this gap in our life by making more friends and just hanging around with the old ones. This can never complete the circle of our life. I suppose finding the missing arc is the main aim of our life. And once we find that special someone it is up to us to do everything we can possibly do to make the relationship survive. This ordeal could go on for the rest of our life. We have to learn to start enjoying the journey as much as the goal. We have to create an Odyssey of our own.

People come and go. But they always remain a part of our lives. Sometimes we have to say goodbye to our rose as the little prince did in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic book of the same name. The author of this book, which changed my life for the better, happens to share my birth date. Here is an excerpt from the book:

The little prince went away to look again at the roses. 'You are not at all like my rose', he said. 'As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.' And the roses were very much embarrassed. 'You are beautiful, but you are empty', he went on. 'One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you - the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundred of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.'

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Unbaptized Infants on the Border of Hell

Today is the last day of my freedom(or boredom or whatever else you call a state of being in limbo). While writing the last sentence I had a doubt about the exact meaning of the word LIMBO. So I looked it up and this is what came out :

Our use of the word limbo to refer to states of oblivion, confinement, or transition is derived from the theological sense of Limbo as a place where souls remain that cannot enter heaven, for example, unbaptized infants. Limbo in Roman Catholic theology is located on the border of Hell, which explains the name chosen for it. The Latin word limbus, having meanings such as 'an ornamental border to a fringe' and 'a band or girdle', was chosen by Christian theologians of the Middle Ages to denote this border region. English borrowed the word limbus directly, but the form that caught on in English, limbo, first recorded in a work composed around 1378, is from the ablative form of limbus, the form that would be used in expressions such as in limb, 'in Limbo'.

Having enriched my knowledge and vocabulary and after having bored you all let me move on to the reason why my limbodom is coming to an end. Tomorrow I take the first big step of going from boyhood to manhood. No, I am not losing my virginity(that would have been a giant leap not a big step). Tomorrow I enter the world of Dr. Reddy' Lab(drl) and start my summer training. So goodbye my dear television. I don't know when we'll meet again. The DRL people are going to work my arse off(sorry for the profanity but if the immortal bard Shakespeare can use it, so can I). My day will begin at 5:30 in the morning. After having done the usual things in the usual places(you know what I mean) I'll catch drl's bus to travel 24 kms to DRL's Bulk Actives Unit I. After doing my project work(I don't even want to go into the details of that becuase I have no idea what I'll be doing) till six in the evening I'll head back home where good food, my bed and the alarm clock set for 5:30 AM will be waiting for me. The vicious circle goes on.

Look at the bright side of all this(I am still trying to find that side but so far failure). So any one with a few words of wisdom or dumbness drop in a few lines. I'll sign off with these words :

There is eternal providence even in the fall of a sparrow -- Shakespeare in Hamlet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

French, Yeats and Life Reloaded

So what does a guy do when he is at home and the cable connection is out? He goes to a book store and buys `Teach yourself French'. That is exactly what I did yesterday when boredom reached unprecedented levels. French is a beautiful language, very musical in nature and soothing to the ears. Very much like Yeats poetry. I just cannot get over these lines I read a couple of days back :

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

The other day I was thinking about how we have constrained our thought process. 11th and 12th went into preparing for JEE and dreaming about coming into IIT. The last three years have gone into worrying about CGPA requiremnets, apping and GRE, CAT and MBA and worrying about the future in general. And all this so that one day we would be out there working in some big company and earning six figure salaries, driving a BMW and living in a three bedroom apartment. All this is so stereotypical, so run-of-the-mill.
I always thought that we were destined for greater things. I see my friends around me and I see so much talent. But all seems to be going to waste. Not that we don't have time or resources for doing other things(artistic or intellectual). But the moment I try doing something new, something out of the ordinary I start thinking about its use to my future. I have started looking at all things through this screen of materialistic instincts. I miss the time when I could do something just for the heck of it. Now everything has to be a part of this larger master-plan. All this makes me think -- Where did I go wrong? Maybe these issues will sort themselves out.

On a more cheerful note, read the reviews of Matrix Reloaded and saw a one hour preview of the movie. Amazing, simply amazing. I was reading Orwell's 1984 again the other day and I could see some parallels with Matrix.