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.