Stream of Unconsciousness

June 17, 2014

Today brought in a new spark of life.

My partner (that appears to be the most politically correct word these days) and I have been seeing each other for three years now, the last one of which has been a long-distance one. I stay in Chennai, she stays in Mangalore. We lead busy lives, rarely getting the chance to spend more than an occasional weekend with each other.

Age has caught up with both us, probably a bit faster with me than with her. I no longer participate in my life, happy to watch it from the pavilion, with an occasional beer to remove the sobriety. Else, it is all quite bleak.

Yesterday was also bleak. But, in an unusual attempt to break the monotony, I got onto the first bus to Mangalore, checked into a lodge and decided to surprise her.

So, today was special. It was special because it had all elements that can make a day special.I woke up before sunrise and I smelled the first batch of jasmine (which I also bought for her). I surprised her by showing up at her place and we ate breakfast in an ancient restaurant that had waiters older than its walls. We watched a 3D-movie that had a story and polished off some delicious seafood. We walked and we sipped on Tropical Iceberg. We bought books for each other, for loved ones and we ate at Ideal ice-cream. In between, we talked and we sat silently. She read out a story from the book she bought. I listened to her, distracted by her glistening, sun-soaked face. As the sun set, we went by the seaside and bid a very special day adieu.

Some days are special and some days are not. The sun decides which is what. He’d etched his mark today and just as he set, so did the charm he’d brought with him. We walked out of the beach and we fought. I was defensive. She was annoyed. We continued to bicker but I had to rush back to get on my train. We didn’t even say our goodbyes properly.

I boarded the train. It had been a strange day so far. A loud, young family of four occupied the bogie beside mine. Beyond that lay the noisome corridor of wash-basin, toilets and general grime that form any Indian train’s sleeper compartment. In this trinity, squatted a thin, lean shadow of a man. The husband, a swarthy man, of the young family took upon himself to rid the train of this unnecessary, ticket-less burden. This was when I got up to see what was happening. Swarthy was gesticulating intimidatingly at the Shadow. Shadow kept staring at him, not too softly, but with daggers for eyes. I couldn’t take my eyes off the scene. Swarthy, after yet another manly show of strength, turned back, smiling slyly at me, almost asking me to thank him. I stared beyond him at the Shadow, who had now begun to gesticulate even more violently, with Swarthy out of sight. Shadow was not just usually invisible, he couldn’t be audible even if he screamed. He was deaf-mute too.

There were other eyes watching this scene. A voice that belonged to one pair remarked, “He’s probably pretending just so that he can travel in reserved class. Ha!”. I sensed other heads nodding in agreement. But, I wasn’t able to take my eyes off Shadow. I made a feeble attempt smiling at him but he either didn’t see me or didn’t know how to respond. As minutes passed, I was overcome with an indescribable mixture of guilt, helplessness, confusion and incredible sadness. I’d decided that by the time the TT comes back on his next round, I’ll offer to pay for Shadow’s seat.

We arrived at the next station. Swarthy had again bossed over Shadow and I couldn’t hold myself back. On asked, Swarthy said, “Guru, this guy’s not only traveling ticketless, he’s stuffed the corridor with his bags.”. I still gave him a look of disgust. At the station, an agitated family got in. It appears Swarthy was traveling without a ticket and was promptly asked by Husband Agitated to vacate their seats. The Mangalore sun was still shining a bit faintly somewhere.

But, before the TT came, a hefty security guard with his faux gun came in, chased Shadow out with his luggage. I ran up to Shadow, without knowing what it was that I exactly planned to do. I probably wanted to carry some of his bags, speak to faux guard? I stood in the corridor of uncertainty while a man with crutches got in. Husband Agitated spoke concernedly to crutches, asking if he needed help. Meanwhile, faux guard continued to bark in Shadow’s ears and he got down. I followed him out and in a moment of helpless desperation, I got out whatever money I could find in my pocket and handed it down to Shadow. Faux guard and I tried to get him to board the un-reserved compartment but Shadow didn’t understand. He only wailed under that rainy, thankless night. The train started to move and I ran to get back on it. Shadow was gone, the doors were locked back.

Agitated, Concerned Husband thanked faux guard. “Thank you sir, we were scared for our small child because of him.

Today brought in a new spark of life. But, I died a bit today.


Groundhog Day

August 16, 2013

Groundhog Day is a 1993 movie by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray. It also is the most meaningful movies I’ve ever seen. At different times in my life, since I first saw it in 2009, I’ve been moved by what I saw and understood from it. Back when I saw it the first time, I was amused by the idea of the movie. A day that repeats over and over for a hapless Bill Murray and he can do nothing about it. What a fascinating concept! Coupled with Murray’s acting par brilliance, especially his comedic timing, I laughed out aloud and had a good time.

But, just a few days and much IMDB/Wikipedia research later, I was drawn back to watch it again. And again. A few more times in a week’s time. I laughed louder. I cried a bit too. It was truly an emotional coaster-ride. No movie has made me feel that way in just over 100 minutes of screen-time. It was all still a big, great cinematic treat though. I did read about the various interpretations critics and wikipedia editors have had about it (connections with Eastern philosophy, rebirth and the like).

A year later I took a sabbatical from work to figure out what I wanted to do next. These were interesting times when I was often thinking about what is it that I wanted to do with my life. It also meant I had a lot of time on hand. Soon enough, I re-watched Groundhog again. Since a despondent Murray cannot find an escape out, he resorts to learning new skills. He picks up piano lessons and soon masters it. Well, “soon” for us viewers and everyone else in the movie but a few years for him. Someone somewhere on the Internet has determined that to be about 5 years of piano lessons. That struck a chord. Around the same time, I was reading Po Bronson and Malcolm Gladwell who were advocating a similar theme – persistent, relentless practice is what makes people great at what they do. Chess-players, artists, footballers and mathematicians. I got a job soon after doing something I knew I loved. When I took it up, I made a mental note to be at it for at least two years, inspired by this philosophy.

Time passed. Almost three years later, I felt an urge to revisit the movie. And, yet another revelation. As I sat watching it on a rainy Independence day, it altered my perspective yet again. If, like me, you spend any time on the Internet looking at life-hacks, you’re bound to have been exposed to thoughts around how important it is to make the most of our life, make it meaningful, cut the faff, rush things, travel, meditate, exercise, diet, things to do before you’re 30 lists, get married before 35, have kids before 40 and on and on. There’s extreme pressure to do something “different”, to stand out. Why? Because, hey, life’s too short.

In Groundhog Day though, life is not short. It is anything but. It is an endless tunnel with no end in sight. No mortality. Well, at least till the end. But, for the longest while (77 minutes of a 100 minute movie), Murray’s character, Phil, has difficulty adjusting to this new life. Before Groundhog Day, Phil is a restless, what-do-I-do-next?, unhappy hustler. He’s eager to move ahead in his career. There’s a promising prospect. Suddenly, he’s thrust with the prospect of a life, not just his career, that won’t move. What can he do? What would YOU do?

It actually does have strong connections with the philosophy of rebirth. Even if you were to find rebirth an esoteric concept, Groundhog Day asks you to consider the idea that life isn’t that short really. It is not. There are billions and billions of moments. What is important is to make sure they count and not that you are seeking out some special moment while losing sight of this moment. Right now. There’s no need to be anxious. Consider that thought. I did and it helped me in many ways. I will now get back to finish watching it for the second time in as many days.


Gratefulness

February 28, 2013

Life most often is a series of introspective episodes and futuristic planning. Hundreds of people, nay thousands, will let it be known that the present matters. To add to those numbers, here I am.

But, I am not here to say that you have to live in the moment. At this moment, I am here to be grateful for the life I lead. At this moment, I am truly grateful to be contented, around happy, loving people consisting of a friend for life, family, interesting work, good health, decent money and some really damn good vodka.

More often than not, it is not living the moment that matters as much as the fact that you realize you have lived a substantial amount of those moments in the last few days. Be grateful.


Commuting on a bike

February 4, 2013

Commuting on a bike

As I cycle into the last month of a 12M contiguous cycle commuting experience for the first time in my life, I can tell you that we in India clearly have it much better than our counterparts in western countries.


Brooks

January 22, 2013

Brooks

Life’s like this, kids.

If you’d asked me 10 years back, what video would have me up and excited at 2 am in the night, I’d have sworn that this is not even near the top 1000.


Imagine something profound here

January 19, 2013

Attempting to write after you last wrote something 18 months back has to be a challenge even for Raymond Carver. At least, I’d like to imagine it so.

But, I’m inspired to write this because as I read through my older posts, I realize this is probably the only surviving witness of my life account through the years. Hell, if at all I pen an autobiography after I’ve become a new-age billionaire, most of that book is going to be made up with words on this very blog. So, wordpress, if you’re listening – do not take off this blog!

2012 was a rubbish year in many ways. Good things did happen of course – brother got married, I made more friends at work and improved my financial savings. Happy experiences, though, are not only made of good things. They’re also outweighed by musings on life, failed expectations, sour relationships. The usual grind of life that we want to ignore but the wheels of which will anyway cause friction.

So, you search for ways to slow those grinding gears. How do you do that? Action. You can read, ramble, search for cheat-sheets but in the end the only thing that will kick in those endrophins is action. For me, cycling was that antidote against regression and I happily embraced it the last year. I can only imagine that 2013’s going to get so much better if I continue to be on the saddle and keep pedaling away. I’ll also probably write more about my experiments with life here. Else, it is going to be a very slim autobiography.


Rahul Sharad Dravid

June 24, 2011

I know, I know. There has been a flurry of blog posts, articles and odes singing high praise of Rahul Dravid and his cricketing ability. But, I had to get my word in and not least of all because he happens to be one of my favourite sportsmen.

If there is one statistic that you should take away from all that is written about him, it is this – there has been only one match, remember only one, of the thirty-one that he’s scored a century in that India have lost (3.2% loss rate). So, that is a remarkable statistic because the next guy on the list has more than double that number at 7.5%. But, statistics alone don’t speak the story.

Rahul Dravid is a true colossus of the game because he embodies the least glamorous aspect of sport – the struggle. Ever since I understood test cricket, it has been a favourite sport precisely for this reason. Because, test cricket is probably the only game of sport that has you waiting five days to get a result, and sometimes even that is not assured. It is a game of constant yet slow strife, where fortunes change not over a searing ace or a brilliant substitution, but over three hours of probing line-and-length bowling. Or, even longer. So, what this sport demands of those who seek to participate in it is ridiculously large reserves of zen-like concentration and infinite patience. If you are a bowler, you must be resigned to bowl six balls after six of good deliveries for six hours on a flat track, in the vain hope of getting a wicket. On the other hand, if you are a batsman on a dicey track, you are required to resist temptation like it’s no one’s business.

One is after all influenced by what one sees and I am probably less fortunate to have not witnessed Tendulkar’s century in bouncy Perth or a Gavaskar’s century on a wearing Chinnaswamy track but I have been fortunate to have seen some of the best innings by two batsmen I greatly admire – Brian Lara and Rahul Dravid. First, Lara. Lara could just have been the unmatchable, unenviable and unholy combination of three great batting talents – Tendulkar, Ponting and S.Waugh. I say ‘could’ because there is God.  I say ‘could’ because Lara lacked the single-minded passion these others shared for the game. He was bound to get carried away by all the off-field shenanigans too easily. But, he still managed to display of what he is capable by his two giant 300+ tons, a feat that is unmatched. What will earn him my life-long respect though is that super 152 he made against a rampaging Australia to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. That is something that a Tendulkar or Ponting have not achieved and I don’t think ever will.

What Lara lacked in terms of determination is what Dravid has in oodles. He loves cricket and he loves batting even more. This is a man who loves batting so much that he probably wants to and can bat for all the five days of a match. Except that he also wants to win and save matches for India. He is also a class act. Not for him the slog sweep or the ugly heave. He respects the art of batting too much to slip to such lows. Those are best left to the Sehwags and the Afridis of the world. Dravid avoids the dangerous balls when he’s made his mind up like one avoids the plague. . You might think, given the amounts of it written about it, that concentration and focus is something that most batsmen should have inculcated the habit but it is clearly easier said than done. Very few sportspeople, let alone batsmen, are blessed with that quality and this is what makes Dravid’s innings more attractive. Darren Sammy’s comment that Dravid did not attempt a pull shot till he scored 98 in the post-match conference underlines the rarity of Dravid’s mental strength and discipline.

Overseas pitches hold a special attraction as well. With India two tests down in his debut series against South Africa, he comes up with his first century at Johannesburg that almost earned India an improbable victory. Same story, one year later in New Zealand, he comes up with a beautiful 148 that again would have handed India a victory, if not for the bowling attack. And so it goes. Headingley, Kingston, Adelaide and Rawalpindi have all followed and were followed by even more.

Once you think about this, it is easier to understand why people like to write about him so much. It is because we remember all these innings. For a long time. Not only because were these the turning points in India’s tide of fortunes in test cricket but because these were durable, long-lasting sporting achievements. It is one thing to rack up centuries on a flat track or to win in straight sets or to rout an opposition 4-0 but what leaves an impression are the masterclass acts of performance that are achieved against the odds, on a roguish cricket pitch or against a marauding opposition. Not that there is beauty without it – Tendulkar’s straight drive or a Federer volley still delights the heart, no matter how many times you see them but give me a Dravid special in Kingston any day.

In a recent article on cycling, it was written that suffering is cycling’s currency, one that has a very low exchange value against glory. Dravid’s batting might not be in the same league of suffering but he definitely is trading with low-value notes that might not earn him the visibility or the moolah of a Gayle or Valthaty but will earn an enduring legacy of joyous sporting satisfaction. There will be more IPLs, countless more one-day matches and freaky, mind-boggling slogs in between but I’d be damned if I remember any of them and not Dravid’s genius last night.


As the crow flies

December 27, 2010

It’s that time of the year again when my annual blog post coincides with some important date, this time the impending deadline being the passage of the annus ordinarius 2010. Nothing excites me more than writing a nostalgic memoir, probably for the prospect of watching an episode of 30 Rock.

Which brings me to one of the notable features of this year for me – entertainment. I have more than sufficiently made up for the lack of television by diving deep down into a morass of TV shows, live sports and what not. Starting with the time we moved to a new place, I have discovered hidden web-streams that broadcast the soccer World Cup, Commonwealth and Asian games. Especially for the latter two, I was on a constant fix of refreshing the medal tally and feverishly checking sports schedules to track how Indian athletes were faring. It was my daily high for over thirty days of the year. Thanks to my cousin who is closer to our new place, I have acquired multi-season collections of some great TV shows – HIMYM and 30 Rock which I have been devouring over the last two months. Earlier in the year, we were hooked on to Poirot, another great series. All these have been a great antidote to the pains of a monotonous and reclusive existence.

The recluse was in part to my work as a researcher in a field office. Over my eighteen month tenure, I have had a maximum of 3 colleagues to interact with at the local office. Combined with the fact that as a researcher, you work mostly on your own with little teamwork involved, your social abilities nosedive tremendously. There have been many days when I was the only one in the office – having coffee, breakfast, lunch, all by myself. It is nice in a way to be away from distractions but the lack of human interaction had a gradual, telling effect on me. This was further aggravated during the last couple of months when I have been mostly working from home, as a part of a brief sabbatical.

I decided to take some time off from work during October to figure out what to do next with my career. Though I don’t realize it now, I have a feeling that the sabbatical has done me a world of good. For the first time in my life, I was in a situation with no responsibilities – no classes to attend, no early morning meetings to be present for, no upcoming deadline. Its remarkable and also a bit unsettling because of the sudden change in your lifestyle. I did all the things I wanted to but had put off by blaming my work schedule which included enjoying a weekday breakfast buffet (I am an absolute fanboy of English breakfast buffet), watching test cricket in the stadium (Ind vs Aus at Bangalore), playing badminton and eating a ‘mathada’ oota. After a while though the sabbatical worsened the feeling of being cut-off. It was a crazy vicious circle. Ash has been staying on campus three days a week so for those three days I was all by myself. I’d feel woozy without having anyone to talk to but wouldn’t do anything about it. In turn, the wooziness would make me lazier and hibernate at home. Which explains all those innumerable TV shows and Google reader feeds consumed. But, thankfully, a decision taken early this month has changed things a bit.

For the first time, I think I have nailed a ‘wake-up-early’ schedule. What started off as a regular cribbing session with Ash resulted in a 30-day challenge to hit the bed at 11 and wake up at 7. It has worked wonderfully well and seemingly has added many more hours in which to play Call of Duty :) Badminton’s been the other great thing to happen in December. After a long, arduous search to find a court and mate to play with, I found both. There are six days left to the 30-day challenge and I’m eagerly looking forward to extend it even after that. For those of you hooked on to a nocturnal high, I recommend this change. It’s an absolute mood-lifter, esteem-booster and confidence-trickster.

What has been the most humbling education this year, though, has been the realization that relationships are ultra-tough. There are light-years of distance between wavelengths of people and it is ridiculously easy to become distant from people. It’s a quick fall but a super-hard climb back. Throughout the year, I’ve opted or been forced to re-evaluate relationships with everyone, including my parents. Marriage requires a special mention here, given yet another roller-coaster ride this year. But, well, which marriage isn’t? Adults are not designed to spend time with each other all the time, a fact that marriage tries to circumvent with not so great results. But, companionship and love is great. It feels awesome to love Ash, even though I do stupid things most of the time, thanks to my ego. It is awesome because probably those are the only times I truly feel alive and delighted. Now, that may sound cynical, but an unhappy side-effect of growing older is to having fewer things to delight you and it is a big deal to be able feel elated.

I’ll end this here. I’m not happy with the way I am writing now; it’s rusty and incoherent. But, now that I don’t need to write as a part of regular job, I’ll probably post more frequently. If not, I’ll be back here the next time I feel like reminiscing.


Blowing in the wind

March 1, 2010

My first post for the year and it’s in March. Wow.

In fact, epoch-level changes took place end of last year just after I put up the anniversary post. Over and through a period of uncertainty and indecisiveness, my wife and I found ourselves as intra-city nomads. We saw houses across the breadth and length of north-west Bangalore, were unsatisfied and settled into our respective parents’ houses to resume some sort of our pre-marriage dating ritual. This sort of an arrangement ill-suits us both, rattling our nerves and unsettling daily routines. I think more so with her than with me. We still continue to postpone our moving decision but as the eternally optimistic house-hunting couple, we are positive we will have a house to call our own by this April. All are invited for a drink and good time once that happens, provided you pray for us real hard.

Other apparent changes, in no order of importance, have also been related to indecisiveness. On my part. In a classic case of baby, bathwater and throwing, I sought to blame my restlessness at work on my distance from studying and quickly climbed onto the I-want-to-study-something bandwagon. Only to descend from it after realizing my wide range of interests was distracting me to end. My attachment to ideas – idea of love, idea of studying, idea of playing a video game, idea of watching a movie – overpower those to the experience itself. I often find myself not enjoying a book as much as I kept salivating at the thought of reading that book. Anyway, I digress, I am now happy to report to you that my initial confusions about my new job seem to be laid at rest for the time being.

Similarly, I swayed between old-Karthik and new-Karthik, ala Karthik-calling-Karthik. Rushing in to book a pair of contact lenses, only to never return to the optician. Drooling over buying a new bike endlessly on websites while continuing to ride a sick growler of a two-wheeler engine. Accessorizing my bike to make it more friendly though postponing it endlessly, justifying it by my need to bike more first. In between, I also caused more than one minor scuffle between me and wife over trip destinations and some more on the trip itself.

Cynically speaking, I think I am growing older. My indecisiveness used to haunt me earlier as well but ultimately I rolled (or was pushed) over to one side or the other. Now, I refuse to. I only sway a hundred times in all directions, only to remain firmly footed on the familiar, stable ground of inactivity. Age appears to be instructing me to take fewer risks and keep me ensconced to an ever-shrinking zone of comfort.

Cheerfully speaking, I might just still be a boy in a candy shop. Even after opening up all of these boxes, I go on running around, seeking some special cases hidden under the basement, apparently. Which will give me the address of the perfect house to rent out, a one-word answer to what I was meant to do professionally and a life-time membership of an exclusive swimming pool next to the perfect house.

Staying with the cheer, I have now figured out that all self-help hacks are a load of crap. Apart from the ones that point you to tools, the only mantra is – work hard. All those abs on sportsy people? They don’t come overnight. Yeah, I am a late entrant to the club of self-help-atheists.

The only plan I have for this year is this – to cycle the most since my last year at school. It is one fitness activity I truly enjoy – the mind is up to the challenge and the body agrees to comply. Who knows, I might probably be doing a long tour by the end of the year.

Probably, I should also stop twittering and facebook-ing (is it a verb yet?). With my regular job requiring me to write extensively as well, it is difficult as it is to motivate myself to write blog posts. When I do manage to do so, like today, it is like a eight-year old girl’s journal entry.

God help me! (Yeah, I think I am becoming a believer. Thanks to Him, a burden’s been lifted. ) Wow.


A Diet That Wasn’t

November 5, 2009

So, in my first experiment after a long time, I decided to undertake a raw-food diet for a week. The idea to do this came about after I and my colleague had a salad lunch. Part inspiration that and part inspiration this, Steve Pavalina’s experiment with raw food diet for a month (!).

The rules of the diet were as follows:

1. To eat no cooked food for a week, starting Tuesday morning

2. This meant no bread, no corn flakes, nothing boiled either.

3. This also meant that we basically had to survive on fruits, salad veggies, nuts and dry fruits. 

How did the experiment go?

Day 1:

I woke up on Tuesday morning all earnest to make a success of this experiment. I was anyway lately on a citrus diet, getting orange-tinted kicks every hour or so. So, for breakfast, I had an apple, an orange and a few bananas. All fine so far – I didn’t feel any different. Lunch was a pomegranate, two carrots and a banana. The sweetness of it all was getting to me.  Given my propensity to snack, I was terribly starved for the rest of the afternoon though I somehow managed to pull that along by having occasional munches of almonds, cashews and groundnuts. I was scheduled to leave for Chennai that evening and I stacked up with an avacado shake, an apple and bought some more dried-fruits and nuts for the journey. I didn’t feel hungry after the avacado and slept well on the train.

Day 2:

Went to the hostel to freshen up the next morning and had a quick breakfast of a quarter of the mixed nuts I had bought. I went to office and this is where things got tricky. I think I did two things wrong – a) I over-snacked on the nuts and b) I sat under a heavily breezy A/c that couldn’t have done me any good. Two hours and some three juices (sapota, mosambi and avacado) later, I was feeling sick. I could sense a terrible headache setting in, I felt terribly drowsy and totally weak. I fought through the rest of the afternoon and evening, feeling worse every passing hour. I was itching to get out of that freezing cubicle and hit the bed. Which is what I did at 7 under the constant pattering of rain. I continued to feel terrible rest of the evening, the headache now a searing pain which wouldn’t let me even move my head. I ate some oranges for the night, in the hope that the citrus shots would clear up my head but no such luck. Neither with the oranges nor the bottles of water I kept gulping down. This was no good – I struggled through my early sleep in vain, switching off all noise to ease the pain. 

Day 3:

I woke up, fortunately, feeling a lot better though still with a persistent, yet weak, pain in my head. I was now seriously thinking about withdrawing from the diet and even went into the mess to rack up something to eat. But, the bananas back in the room looked more appetizing than what was laid out. So, I extended the diet for one more meal and ate up a banana and an orange for the breakfast. I came in to the office but the A/C again had me grappling with that sick feeling. I decided I had enough and put the diet to a stop with a well-cooked lunch of parotas and rice at the cafeteria. 

Since I write this to report that the experiment did not survive even half the designed time period, nay the whole week, I have to admit that it is incredibly hard to just be eating fruits and nuts all day.  It is hard but not impossible. Though I felt sick for most part of the 2.5 days, I also felt very light and without any of the heaviness that accompanies my usual cooked meals. I have, in fact, decided to do this again but with the following lessons in mind:

1. Beware of A/Cs

2. This needs more planning – I should plan up on what I can eat, especially to think of more salty salads. The fruits had me all sweetened up sickly. 

3. Don’t have traveling plans – I am especially bummed that I missed a close friend‘s wedding because of this.

It will be interesting to see how this goes when I do it actually for a week or longer. 


Year

October 8, 2009
A year has just passed by me. No, us. No, wait, is it me or us? By us, I mean the better-half, wife, missus or how most of the world chooses to term her. As far as I am concerned, being with someone I love has been a ride of a life time. A ride as crazy as in any outlandish fantasy park, may be but a ride indeed – from where and how I was to where and how I am now.
Given my penchant for bullet-points, summaries and nostalgia, it is predictable that I’ll come out with a list of how things have changed, highlights and the usual dose of sentimental claptrap as I complete a year of married life. So, without disappointing you further and any absence of ado (ado – what a strange word), here I start off:
1. Ta Ta TV – A major decision was to have no TV at home. And despite our initial apprehensions and doubts on how long we’d survive without it, we did and more – we thrived. No distracted conversations, more living room space and more laptop use. Goodbye reality shows, stuff-they-call-news-on-endless-loop and Barkha Dutt. Welcome Youtube, Viveo, Facebook and Google Reader.
2. News – Thanks to the missus, I am hooked on to the best newspaper in the country. No more ‘Madonna spotted with ……..’ and ‘Having more sex/babies/love makes you ……..’ and ‘ ‘I-don’t-care-a-damn’ and ‘I-still-don’t-care-a-damn’ spotted at ‘some-pub’ ‘. I have also become a fan of their sisterpublication.
3. Food – Lot of healthy dietary changes, again courtesy the wife. Our sugar carton has gone untouched for months now and we have had less milk in the last one year at home than most families have in a month. I now like curry leaves, garlic and sugar-less green tea. We had nasty fights about me eating out but I am glad that I was persisted with – I eat out lesser than I used to.
4. Decor – Our home is minimalist. Whatever excess you spot is thanks to my need to fill in my insecurities with stuff. What if I wake up tomorrow to have no socks to run in? Or, what if all the 13 shirts are left un-ironed before an unexpected travel?
5. Culture – If you had asked me last year, I couldn’t have told you squat about classical music or dance. Now, I can give you a small speech on the music, forms and famous exponents of Odissi. I might also go on to add that Ninukori Varnam in Vasantha raga is a favourite. Yeah – the wife’s culture quotient spilleth over to me.
6. Me – I exercise more. I eat healthier. I am liberal. I like Cantonment. I am reading again. I slouch less. I find sitting on the floor easier. I can climb three flights of stairs. I know Indiranagar in-and-out. I can guide you on house-hunting. I am assertive. I like traveling by the bus. I spend lesser time advising others. I take less shit from others. I am still lazy, hypocritical and self-obessed (evidence #1 – count the number of ‘I’s in this blog-post).
7. Miscellany – We have breakfasts regularly at Parents-In-Laws’ and fried food at Parents’. We have a trouble-free maid and had a troublesome roof. Our house hosted parties, ants and dear friends. It also happened to host chess games, sparring fights and romantic dinners. We like our individual spaces and like sharing our individual spaces more. I have spent hours playing Commandos while she painted an elaborate and colourful duo of birds. We have also whiled away time having churumuri on languid evenings by Ulsoor lake. We have liked each other’s company and we have fought so hard that we weren’t able to stand each other’s sight.
Such-like and more, life’s tumbled on to the second year of living together. A year that promises a lot of aquatic adventures, dancing, hard work, new neighbourhood, getting back to schools and lot more fun of living together!
And lastly, here is some advice (now that I have spent a year tucking in all those pearls of wisdom, I deserve this, no? ) – If you can, don’t marry. If you must, don’t involve families. If you must, be prepared to be very tough and strong. I was not and the ensuing annoyances take more than a few anniversaries to clean up. In hindsight, I would have gladly taken up the option of living-in rather than going through the gut-wrenching drama that is the Great Indian Wedding and the consequent stampede of families.

A year has just passed by me. No, us. No, wait, is it me or us? By us, I mean the better-half, wife, missus or however most of the world chooses to term her. As far as I am concerned, being with someone I love has been a ride of a life time. A ride as crazy as in any outlandish fantasy park probably, but a ride indeed – from where and how I was to where and how I am now. So, yeah, a year has passed by a married me.

Given my penchant for bullet-points, summaries and nostalgia, it is predictable that I’ll come out with a list of how things have changed, highlights and the usual dose of sentimental claptrap as I complete a year of married life. So, without disappointing you further and any absence of ado (ado – what a strange word), here I start off:

1. Ta Ta TV – A major decision was to have no TV at home. And despite our initial apprehensions and doubts on how long we’d survive without it, we did and more – we thrived. No distracted conversations, more living room space and more laptop use. Goodbye reality shows, stuff-they-call-news-on-endless-loop and Barkha Dutt. Welcome Youtube, Viveo, Facebook and Google Reader.

2. News – Thanks to the missus, I am hooked on to the best newspaper in the country. No more ‘Madonna spotted with ……..’ and ‘Having more sex/babies/love makes you ……..’ and ‘ ‘I-don’t-care-a-damn’ and ‘I-still-don’t-care-a-damn’ spotted at ‘some-pub’ ‘. I have also become a fan of their sister publication.

3. Food – Lot of healthy dietary changes, again courtesy the wife. Our sugar carton has gone untouched for months now and we have had less milk in the last one year at home than most families have in a month. I now like curry leaves, garlic and sugar-less green tea. We had nasty fights about me eating out but I am glad that I was persisted with – I eat out lesser than I used to.

4. Decor – Our home is minimalist. Whatever excess you spot is thanks to my need to fill in my insecurities with stuff. What if I wake up tomorrow to have no socks to run in? Or, what if all the 13 shirts are left un-ironed before an unexpected travel?

5. Culture – If you had asked me last year, I couldn’t have told you squat about classical music or dance. Now, I can give you a small speech on the music, forms and famous exponents of Odissi. I might also go on to add at the end of the speech that Ninukori Varnam in Mohana raga is a favourite. Yeah – the wife’s culture quotient spilleth over to me.

6. Me – I exercise more. I eat healthier. I am now a liberal. I like Cantonment. I am reading again. I slouch less. I find sitting on the floor easier. I can climb three flights of stairs. I know Indiranagar in-and-out. I speak a smattering of Tamil. I can guide you on house-hunting. I am assertive. I like traveling by the bus. I spend lesser time advising others. I take less shit from others. I am still lazy, hypocritical and self-obessed (evidence #1 – count the number of ‘I’s in this blog-post).

7. Miscellany – We have breakfasts regularly at Parents-In-Laws’ and fried food at Parents’. We have a trouble-free maid and had a troublesome roof. Our house hosted parties, ants and dear friends. It also happened to host chess games, sparring fights and romantic dinners. We like our individual spaces and like sharing our individual spaces more. I have spent hours playing Commandos while she painted an elaborate and colourful duo of birds. We have also whiled away time having churumuri on languid evenings by Ulsoor lake. We have liked each other’s company and we have fought so hard that we weren’t able to stand each other’s sight.

Such-like and more, life’s tumbled on to the second year of living together. A year that promises a lot of aquatic adventures, dancing, hard work, new neighbourhood, getting back to schools and lot more fun living together!

And lastly, here is some advice (now that I have spent a year tucking in all those pearls of wisdom, I deserve this, no? ) – If you can, don’t marry (instead of living-in). If you must, don’t involve families. If you must, be prepared to be very tough and strong. I was not and the ensuing annoyances take more than a few anniversaries to clean up. In hindsight, I would have gladly taken up the option of living-in rather than going through the gut-wrenching drama that is the Great Indian Wedding and the consequent stampede of families.


Monitoring Expenses

September 23, 2009

For a month, back in March, I and the partner  decided to plan out our activities to get some order and structure in life. Unfortunately, though that never took off – we never made dosas on the days we were supposed to, instead settling for lazy crosswords over tea and bread toast – we did make it a point to note all our expenses on a daily basis. The results of which I am proud to present here:

How we went about it?

We crudely categorized our expenses into 5 categories – Groceries, Eating Out, Fuel, Recreation and Rent/Fees. The last category includes all fixed, recurring expenses. The rest were all discretionary to a large extent, contingent upon our control on them.

So, first up are the statistics on expenses, item-wise:

Item Wise Spends

Item Wise Spends

As expected, the rent, utilities and dance fees form the bulk of our monthly expenses. The next highest is ‘eating out’, given that I am an extremely lazy cook, quickly influenced by any ideas of ordering in food. I think this was pretty much in line with expectations

Second, how does our spending vary with the day-of -the-week, with the large and regular ‘rent/fees’ category excluded? I would expect weekends to be the peaks. Turns out it is the case, though Wednesday comes in at a not-so-distant third. Mondays and Fridays seem distinctly stand-out days when it comes to lazing around without loosening the purse strings for us.

Day of the Week

Day of the Week

Lastly, a not-so-useful graph on how our spends vary across the month, on a weekly basis.  This again has a strong correlation on when our major items are due for payment.  So no big surprises – I am just happy I get the pay-check before the second week of the month.

Week-wise Spends

Week-wise Spends

So there it is – a geeky blog post to dust off my rusty, old excel skills.


Career Blues

September 2, 2009

For someone who’s had more than his share of career conundrums, and tons of tangential answers to that super-question – what to do with my life?, I have found this piece by Po Bronson extremely illuminating. I love the article and keep getting back to it often. To gather its essence, I thought, would be a good idea to break the monotony of silence here.  So, here is the gist of the article:

1. Some jobs aren’t ‘cooler’ than the rest. Conversely, all jobs can be cool.

2. Very few (no one?) know what they are “destined” to do. Stop searching for the “calling”.

3.  Don’t follow those insurance ads. Don’t postpone dreams just to make “enough” money. Waiting to do that changes you.

4. Work is like life. It has its ups and downs. It does not have to always be exciting, invigorating or challenging.

5. Don’t ask ‘What am I good at?’ to find the answer to ‘What should I do?’

6. Your job becomes you. It moulds your personality, values and beliefs.

7. “Keeping your doors open” is a trap. The longer you stay uninvolved, the longer you are unhappy.

8. It’s not a big deal to have only one employer for life.

Well, I think the article does a better job of saying all this than the mash-up above. So, I urge you to read it.


Thrice over

July 22, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction:

Read the rest of this entry »


A Tale of Two Lakes

June 30, 2009

fireflies

Read the rest of this entry »


High Hopes and Super Size Me

June 30, 2009

High Hopes

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To wake you on a lazy weekend morning

June 20, 2009

Bilqis – Rabbi Shergill (2008)

Mera naam Bilqis Yakub Rasool
Mujhse hui bas ek hi bhool
Ki jab dhhundhhte thhe vo Ram ko
To maen kharhi thhi rah mein

Pehle ek ne puchha na mujhe kuchh pata thha
Dujey ko bhi mera yehi javab thha
Fir itno ne puchha ki mera ab saval hai ki

Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan the
Jinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain

Mera naam shriman Satyendra Dubey
Jo kehna thha vo keh chukey
Ab parhey hain rah mein
Dil mein liye ik goli

Bas itna kasur ki hamne likha thha
Vo sach jo har kisi ki zuban thha
Par sach yahan ho jatey hain zahriley

Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan the
Jinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain

Mujhe kehte hain anna Manjunath
Maine dekhi bhatakti ek laash
Zamir ki beech sarhak Lakhimpur Kherhi

Adarsh phasan jahan naaron mein
Aur chor bharey darbaron mein
Vahan maut akhlaq ki hai ik khabar baasi

Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan hain
Jinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain

Mazha nau aahe Navleen Kumar
Unnees june unnees var
Unnees unnees unnees unnees
Unnees vaar

Unnees unnees unnees unnees
Unnees unnees unnees unnees
Unnees unnees unnees unnees
Unnees vaar

Looto dehaat kholo bazaar
Nallasopara aur Virar
Chheeno zameen hamse hamein
Bhejo pataal

Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan hain
Jinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain

Indeed, vo kahan hai?

Check one of the best Indian singles in recent years. The most telling part of the song is right at the end. Civil rights and activism in India is abysmally lacking. And no, it is not okay to say it is “relatively better” than Sub-saharan Africa/Middle East countries.


CW’s War and Angels & Demons

June 17, 2009

Charlie Wilson’s War

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And all the joy within you dies

June 8, 2009

three nights ago
under a fading moon
sailed my friend and his mentor

‘why are we here?’
inquired my friend

‘to talk and to hear’
smiled the mentor, asking
‘how are you?’

‘hollow, sir
i read, none the more wiser
i talk, to no one’s gain
i know
no small thrills
no little joys
no tiny fears

fond of others,
not loving
logical and sharp,
i cut others to size

i wake up
to sleep
i sleep
hoping not to wake up

i understand
without sympathy
i understand
without pathos

i follow
refusing to lead
i proclaim
unwilling to be told

i am the king
of all that i command
yet i command little
but for two shoes
and a vest’

so despaired,
so despaired
my friend.

the mentor,
grave as the night
responded

‘how we wonder about death
in our curious years,
obsessing over its mysteries,
asking how is it everyone,
every one of us
faces death whenever
it dawns?

yet age and time
readies you for it,
for what is not
a man like you,
if not dying?

my friend,
you
no longer
have the romance
in your heart

the spark that lights
your day
has faded

and so has the life
within your soul

a man devoid of romance
is a man dead, my friend’


Kumble nails it

May 21, 2009

The RCB skipper inputs a key strategic plan that would have done lot of other last-over chokers good in the IPL:

“As it is, whenever we chase, we make it a point not to go into the 20th over. When we are chasing a smallish total, we try and think of the 18th as the last over and when the target is bigger, we aim at finishing the game in the 19th, giving us some sort of a cushion. That message was also sent across as a reminder at the strategic break”

T20 games involve a lot of pressure-cooker situations and nothing can make it worse than taking the game to the last over. By ensuring a six-ball buffer, you effectively negate it out. Exciting? No. Clinical? Yes.


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