I seem to cringe a lot reading old emails, old blogposts, old tweets, or looking at old photographs and videos. Everyone does, I suppose. My past self seems alien to me at some level, and embarrassing at another. It’ll be a while before that me gets the dignity of being a sepia-tinted memory I reminisce fondly about. On other occasions, I wonder where my idealistic past self has gone. Where the unbridled passion is, where the cynicism was still fresh and untainted by jadedness. Ultimately, it boils down to these things I used to do and don’t anymore.
- Watch movies: Until a year ago, my primary form of entertainment in the USA used to be watching movies. I had the pleasure of like-minded friends who’d make sure I caught every last Pixar movie, every blockbuster that came out, every thriller worth watching. Before that, there were endless hours in front of the TV at home, on World Movies or Sony Pix, watching a twisted Korean movie or a sweet Thai movie. And innumerable Kannada and Tamil movies the names of which I’ve forgotten, but the plotlines I clearly remember. I don’t do that much anymore. My aim in life has been to not plonk myself in front of a screen every evening for the past year. So yeah, I do Netflix, but it doesn’t have the randomness of TV. There isn’t anymore that wonder of a movie you have no idea about. The blind acceptance of whatever comes your way. When on watching a bad movie you don’t consider it two hours wasted. I ought to get back to doing something like that. It makes me explore things I wouldn’t have otherwise.
- Read books: My reading habit has been the worst casualty of my habit of never coming home until it’s obscenely close to bedtime. I don’t get to read on my commute because it’s rather short and involves changing trains. I don’t own a tablet, and until recently I didn’t own many books because they are a burden when you’re constantly moving house. NYPL rocks, but I haven’t really taken much advantage of it.
That said, I don’t feel the quality of my life dipping that much. There’s enough I get to read on the Internet everyday. Shorter pieces, certainly, but they are so much more current, more elegantly structured, easily digestible. You find it easier to discuss those with friends.
Of course, I do miss the sharp plotting, foreshadowing, and such storytelling techniques, as well as the long form, and my life would be much richer with these things than without. But I notice I’m not so anal about reading as I used to be before. I don’t judge people for not owning a full bookcase anymore. While I still squeal with pleasure at beautiful bookends, I don’t find myself sharing pictures of fancy bookcases and libraries anymore. All those things that came with a reading habit – good grammar, structured thinking, an air of curiosity, lots of worldly information – they now come even without a reading habit. And that’s okay.
- Read Indian English writing: This I completely don’t regret. I used to be fascinated by any and all Indian authors who wrote in English. I now realize most of them wrote tripe they themselves didn’t understand. I don’t really enjoy reading the NRI writers’ works about India. Their perspective reeks of misunderstanding and misplaced romanticizing. I haven’t felt many Indian authors have their perspective be grounded in reality. And when it is, it isn’t the sort of reality I can connect with. Either that their perspective is completely unlike mine, or they write so badly that they fail to communicate their perspective to me in a way that I can love it. They all take themselves and their Indianness too seriously for my liking. I know there are folks who have a more chilled out perspective, but they don’t write well enough for me.
I’m quite sick of arts-student type rhetoric-filled gimmickry-filled writing. I just want to read some genuine feeling, unadorned, raw, freeflowing yet somehow structured because that’s how the author’s mind works or they’ve taken the trouble to organize their thoughts. It feels fake otherwise.
Also, I’m done, done with Magic Realism and a thousand new controversies won’t get me to read Salman Rushdie again.
- Outrage: I’ll never have long discussions with people about their views on some random topic that doesn’t directly affect me again. I’ve done that enough. A good number of times on this blog. My past levels of passion on various useless topics makes me cringe a little. I don’t anymore care if someone else is wrong on the internet or in real life. It’s a serious waste of good energy that can go into a few hours’ more sleep.
- Outrage w.r.t my rightwingery: I’m still on the Indian Right, politically. What I am not however is a fan of endless foolhardiness. The BJP goes out of its way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They can’t be arsed to clean up their public image. They can’t put a spin on things such that they aren’t putting their feet in their mouths. Yes, the media is harsh on them, but that should only be an impetus to get better PR. And I’ve never agreed with them on their social conservatism. Yeah, maybe the main politicians don’t even think of social conservatism, but they don’t rein in the ones who do spout social conservatism. The endless misogyny, the slutshaming, the homophobia… I can’t stand for any of this. If there’s an alternative that’s socially progressive and gutsy fiscally and in other aspects, I’d gladly vote for them. Again, the problem is, too much rhetoric, not enough action items.
- Whine about not travelling enough: Alright I’ll come out and say it. I’m glad to finally admit to myself that I think travelling is overrated. I do like exploring new places, but I do also like quietly listening to music at home.
But there’s also Things I Wish I Did More:
- Code more
- Write more – sketches, fiction… blogging frequency’s okay.
- Read more textbooks. There’s just so much to learn, and so many basics I feel I’ve messed up on!
- Swim more, ice-skate.
- Improv more. Somehow, life happened since October and I haven’t been doing much improv. I ought to get back to it!
So many cool things. So little time. And so much goofing off waiting for me. Sigh
I moved to New York City soon after New Year. And then seem to have disappeared into a black hole. Neither have I been blogging my exploits, nor have I taken the trouble to upload photographic evidence of my presence in this great city to Facebook or Instagram. No, I’m not hiding out in some corner of Oregon and just saying I’m in NYC. But it’s hard to take pics of yourself when all you own is a not-all-that-great Android phone with not-good battery life. I’ll be getting a camera soon, and maybe I’ll do a photo-essay on the Greek-inspired architecture in the city. And then maybe do Boston.
But until then, all I have is my shaky memory and this blog to tell you all about what to try in New York City. From the perspective of a vegetarian, rather social loner. Ingredients – you. And maybe a Metrocard. That’s all. Here goes!
- Look at the city lights from a high vantage point: This is the quintessential thing to do in any big city. I really love looking at lit-up places. It somehow just erases all that is an eyesore and highlights only the nice stuff. High above only makes it better. The Empire State Building is the first place that comes to mind for this. It’s right in Midtown Manhattan, on 5th Avenue, right near the middle of the city. Up the street a short way away is Rockefeller Plaza. You can go up the observation deck of 30 Rock and see all the streets lit up. That’s the Chrysler building, that’s the Empire State Building, that’s the stuff around WTC, and that seems like a church. Then you look at all the tall buildings midtown and point out the one where you work. And if you’re on the Empire State Building, the little blue thing midtown is the Rockefeller Plaza ice-skating rink. Then you see the streets, brightly lit Fifth Av, broad Park Av, crooked Broadway, Park and Broadway merging way downtown into 4th Av. And then the Brooklyn Bridge, and Queensboro Bridge, and Brooklyn and Queens. Then Newport, Hoboken and other cities in New Jersey along the Hudson river. Beautiful.
- Walk along the Brooklyn Bridge and back: It has a very nice pedestrian walkway. And even a lane for cyclists. With plenty of places and benches where you can stop and pose for pictures. Or just look at the tall buildings of the Financial District, or the piers along the East River. And the lights on the bridge itself. And its history, the process of it being built, and the huge steel ropes that seem to impossibly hold it up.
- Get jostled around at Times Square, watch a Broadway show: Times Square is the busiest place I’ve seen ever. It’s always full to bursting with tourists. There’s no dearth of dressed up characters wanting to pose with you for pics (for a fee). Or of bright lights. It’s the closest you get to Vegas without going to Vegas. There are plenty of theaters playing Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. The milling of humanity is cloying if you prefer wide open spaces, but for a big-city person like me, it feels just right. Oh, and the Broadway shows. They take the idea of a stage performance and make it awesomer than you can imagine. No stunt is too impossible to perform, no cost is too big to spare. The music, the dances, the acting, the stunts, the costumes…. even if they vary, there’s no reduction in the ‘wow’ factor at any show.
- Admire the architecture at Grand Central: It has to be the most beautiful public transit station ever. It is a work of art, right from the delicate chandeliers to the tall ceilings. Try their food market. So much fresh produce and fresh catch. A delight to behold.
- Listen to some busking at large transit stations: The ones I’ve seen in Manhattan so far have been the best at Grand Central, Times Square and Union Square. Occasionally Herald Square too. And also on the shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square. There are a lot of performers. Most of them are obviously not that great. But you do quite often come across a really good jazz band, or a bunch of really flexible breakdancers. Or a couple of South-east Asians playing some exotic instrument. Or a sole violinist playing some beautiful, mournful tunes. Or a fun group on the shuttle who have ‘Sing-along Saturdays’. Don’t get the CDs they offer ‘free for a $5 donation’, though. I’ve heard most of those CDs are blank
- Play chess and lounge by the fountain at Bryant Park: I love Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan. It is located right behind the Schwarzman Library, which is a delight to behold all by itself. It is the perfect place for hanging around after work and attempting to write your novel. Cisco provides free Wifi citing just that reason. There’s a huge lawn, and a fountain. There are a few sandwich places. And a couple of chess boards and pétanque, a French game. It’s a popular tourist spots, and by the end of two hours there, you’ll become an expert at taking shots of people with the fountain as backdrop. A calming, relaxing place. My favourite spot in the city.
- Watch improv for real cheap: There are three places that come to mind – People’s Improv Theater in Flatiron, Magnet Theater in Chelsea and Amy Poehler’s Upright Citizens Brigade. Their shows cost under $10, and are really really good. Then there are mixers as well where you can take part and improvise scenes possibly with someone who’s been doing this for ages. These places aren’t yet as well-renowned for their alumni as Second City in Chicago or Groundlings in LA, (Hang on, UCB can boast of Aziz Ansari) but just go watch! The folks performing now might just end up being the next Lisa Kudrow or Scott Adsit. Or the current Scott Adsit – he performs in these places! And for $5!
- Do Karaoke in Koreatown: I haven’t really been to Chinatown, because it’s so far out of my way. But Koreatown is in midtown. 32nd Street between Madison and 7th Avenue is full of Korean restaurants, banks, bars and karaoke bars. For the first time, you genuinely feel you are in another country. As a vegetarian, I can’t really appreciate much of the food, except in Hangawi, which is a rather upscale vegan Korean restaurant, and their smaller, more chilled out cafe outlet, Franchia. But the real attraction in Koreatown would be the karaoke bars. Haven’t done it myself, but have heard from friends that it is an experience you certainly should have with your friends.
- ….So much more: Well, there’s simply too much to do. Jog in Central Park, have lunch in Hell’s Kitchen, shop for real cheap around NYU, check out the large clothing stores on 34th street, shop real posh around 59th and Lexington, eat at random Pakistani restaurants around 28th and Lexington where you feel you’re in some chai shop in Lahore, walk the Museum Mile, go to the waterfront near WTC, have chaat around Jackson Heights, listen to some jazz at Birdland, attend a Hack-and-Tell session at the Meetup.com offices…
I haven’t done it all. No one has. By the time you think you have, they get something new. That’s what makes it a wonderful, exciting city. It’s not easygoing like Boston or San Francisco. It makes you rough. I went from being a docile immigrant who couldn’t talk back to a store clerk in Dallas when she was making fun of me to the hard-as-nails one who asked the tough-built lady from the Bronx who elbowed me to ‘take all the extra space on the train and shove it up hers’. It’s not easy on the nerves. But it gives you the freedom to be whatever you want, while virtually guaranteeing that no one’s going to remember if and when you mess up.
Being pretty much by myself has toughened me up a lot, I’ve to admit. Not just NYC, but right from when I moved here. I’ve gone through so much that now nothing else seems insurmountable. I tell people one or two stories from my life, and they are already going ‘Girl, you’ve been through a lot!’, when those are just the episodes I can narrate. It’s not like I’ve had it rough…. I just seem to find these fun situations to be in. I sometimes find it hard to not say ‘Bitch, please!’ when others my age whine about being depressed or broke or lonely or stuck, but I realize there are way too many people who are more than qualified to say ‘Bitch, please!’ when I whine about my ‘problems’.
There will always be things to be dissatisfied about, things that you feel insecure about, and scary unpleasant things. But when you fulfill your childhood fantasies of lying down on a lawn and writing into your notebook and having dessert for dinner and catching a snowflake on your tongue, you find there’s very little in the universe you can genuinely be mad about.
I leave in the afternoon for a location that shall remain unnamed. All I can say is I’m dressing warm. I’m pretty paranoid about saying stuff online that might be in someway linked to my professional identity. The US is not India; one wrong move without realizing it, and you can be the target of a lawsuit. So as is usual, the folks who sign off my paycheck shall remain anonymous on this blog.
Oh, it snowed today. My first proper snow. There was a couple of inches on Christmas Eve when I visited my cousin in Dallas two years ago, but that melted rather quickly. I was however stricken by a most horrible bout of inflamed sinuses that I couldn’t bear to step out. I just opened my window and made a tiny snowman out of the five inches of snow on my window sill. And guess what, it’s just like the frost that covered the freezers of the ’90s.
I have been stuck in the most horrible location. High rent, matchbox-sized accommodation, and kitchen space with no place to unpack the meagre set of utensils you have accumulated over three years. And a shark of a woman who rented this space to me. All I can say is I’m superglad she is in India and I never had to meet her face to face. Sample this.. one day me and the other subleasee come home to no Internet. I didn’t bother much beyond checking the router and modem and checking if everything is plugged in; I had a series of phonecalls to make to family and friends I hadn’t talked much to. But the following morning, I was at the end of my tether. Asked the other girl if she knew who the ISP was. She said she didn’t know. So after a lot of number-getting from Tuna Fish, I called every ISP Tuna could think of, to ask if they provided Internet to our house. Finally, it turned out that our Internet had been turned off as the bills were not paid. Oh, well, how much could it be… I asked for the bill so that I could make a payment. I was quoted an astronomical amount which I assumed was in Zimbabwean currency. But no, no such luck. When I asked the other girl about it, she said how could that be, the Shark has been taking money from all of us every month to pay for the Internet. Turns out, the Shark hadn’t done so for three months. When we called her, she was firm in saying she had paid. After a lot of cold glares, I woke up the following morning to the bills paid.
Thankfully, I soon found another place to move to, with significantly lower rent and larger space and heck, larger closet space. And a room that can house both a table and a bed, unlike where I’m living now. Such a relief.
I’ve started yet another fulltime job. I’ve rather liked my time there till now. And that’s all I shall say about it here.
I work in Midtown Manhattan. That’s home to some of the most awesome restaurants I’ve eaten at till now. The Indian food tastes Indian. The Mongolian food is amazing. You find vegan Korean food, how amazing is that! Oh, and a fully vegetarian Indian restaurant! The Mexican is not bad, and the Italian is simply subtle as it should be. The street vendors have simply amazing falafel-on-rice. Why, even something as lame as the tofu sandwiches at the delis here are amazing. This seems to be the best place to be vegetarian. Or foodie.
I’m also quite impressed by how easy Manhattan is to navigate around. And how busy the subway is at all hours. Even the folks busking seem amazing at their music. Some of them are unimaginably bad, but most of those I’ve heard for a few minutes at Grand Central and Times Square are really good. Their music is a good start to the day, be it gangsta rap or smooth jazz.
I’ve also gotten quite interested in improvisational comedy or Improv. The sort of stuff Whose Line Is It Anyway is all about…. you’re given a random suggestion, mostly from the audience and you and the others on stage just make a scene up as you go along. Also because Tina Fey started off as an improv’er. I’ve found quite a few spaces with tons of free and cheap improv and standup shows. The one closest to where I work is The Pit (People’s Improv Theater). I hang around there as much as I can and watch everything I can. They also have quite a fine bar slash coffee shop. The folks are friendly and the bartenders and staff are rather fun. They also have improv jams. So many different people come for those, and take part, from fourteen-year-old fresh-faced children to pervy senior citizens to really funny Pam Anderson lookalikes to a Lankan couple visiting from Beijing.
I too join in. I like the anonymity of it all, being in a city where hardly anyone knows me, and can be anyone I want, make as weird jokes as I like fully knowing no one will remember me two acts hence. I like just blending in and having fun, irrespective of how the emcee trips over my name, irrespective of all the other brown men (haven’t found any brown women) play only Achmed-type roles far as I’ve seen. Half my time on stage, I can’t think of what to say, and the remaining half, I’m too amazed by the kickass stuff the others come up with, that I’m giggling hard. I find my pun-type jokes are more suited for being read than heard, but maybe I should try phrasing them better.
There was this rather weird incident last night at the Improv Open Jam. There were two professionals who were sort of driving the whole thing and guiding us along, and doing a rather good job. There were quite a lot of group skits that were getting done, most if not all of it really funny. After all of us were done, there were still a few minutes left. So they started this game, where two people start on a scene, preferably doing something with exaggerated actions, when one of the others on stage says ‘Freeze’, when the two in the scene freeze, and then that person takes over the pose of one of the frozen folk, and continues the scene, hopefully with something completely different.
A Pam Anderson-lookalike woman got stuck in a position where there was another player standing behind her, his arms around her waist. And everyone began saying ‘Freeze’, taking over the other player’s position, not really attempting to change position all that much. It was just a little uncomfortable until this lecherous old man came onto the scene. Within a few seconds, the professionals realized he was being a jerk, and froze him, and asked me to take his place. Just as I was attempting to switch to a position facing the lady, I got frozen out. Thankfully the game ended soon. Ick. Gross.
I need to check out the Magnet Theater and Upright Citizens Brigade as well. I’d love to try classes for improv. They are sort of pricey, but not totally unaffordably so. There are quite a few free classes, too.
There’s plenty more to do. Especially if you have some sort of disposable income. But even otherwise, there’s plenty of free stuff that happens. There’s so much that goes on in New York City. It is truly a wonderful place to live in. The people aren’t as stylish on average compared to Southern California. The pollution and weather are downright horrible. But NYC has soul oozing out of its every bit. I hated this place when I landed here, but I think I’ll grow to like it.
I always love the anonymity that comes with a new place, before I slot myself into doing only certain things and develop mental blocks against some things and people. I love this initial stage where I’m just drifting along. But I’d also love to find one place for the next year or so at the very least and feel comfortable enough to buy heavy furniture…. that gives some sort of mental peace and a feeling of settling down. I’d love to find my own house which I don’t have to share with anyone except maybe close family and friends when they come a-visitin’, when I won’t have to ask roommates for permission to have people over, or when I don’t have to worry about all my kitchen accidents because I’ll clean up eventually anyway.
It’s also great to work with people who know the same Reddit memes as you do, and who also share the passion for the same technologies as you do. It’s even better to be able to learn from brilliant people, be it by asking them questions or even just listening in on their conversations with each other.
I have big plans professionally, and also with my personal and social lives, and about the whole work-life balance thing. If there was one thing gradschool taught me, it is about how important it is to live a little so that you don’t lose perspective on life.
I miss friends from my old life. Everything fun feels like it would have been that much better had this or that person been enjoying it with me. When I pass by a random bar or a restaurant, I want to just whip out my phone and call a friend and say “Maga, ee jaaga sakkathagidiyansatte, bartiya?”… but that will take a while longer, probably.
I don’t feel much nostalgia for my past. I don’t frankly care anymore. You know all those people who told you your undergrad days are the best ever days of your life? They are dead wrong. Life only gets way better. With a little more money and experience, it’s hard to believe things don’t get better. Backpacking never turned less fun with a few extra bucks. Drinking sessions don’t get any less crazy with better quality non-hangover-inducing alcohol, that you can drink all night even if you have a meeting with the team the next morning. True, you don’t have the wide variety of experiences you shared in the hostel, but you also don’t have to put up with heavy metal playing in the next room the night before an exam. The people your age start dressing way better and more elegant, and suddenly become easier on the eyes. It’s harder to find friends, but the ones you have already are tried-and-tested in giving their lives for you. There’s some sort of respect people give you as an adult, and they respect your time and space more. The heartbreaks become easier to tolerate because you aren’t anymore dating the jerks you dated in college; you’re seeing men and women mostly capable of rational thought, not boys and girls who have weird ideas about the opposite sex and delusions about themselves.
If you told me four years ago that I would be saying this or living this life, I wouldn’t have believed you. Things haven’t always gone my way since then, but I think I can safely say at this point that I have done quite well for myself, whether or not you compare the current me to the gawky kid that came out of NITK in 2008. I can say the same for most of my pals from college… everyone seems to have come into their own.
This turned out to be longer than I expected but guess what, I don’t have writer’s block anymore!
This happened in that moonshiney period between 11th and 12th. You can say it happened in the holidays after the 1st PU exams, but then given that I was going for JEE coaching, there was a holiday to all my holidays.
So I used to go to this PU college which was a good distance from where I lived, solely because this bunch of JEE-coachers would conduct classes on campus. That was a novelty back in the day, and the only other alternative was to go to a PU college closer home, and then do the commute to BASE which was a much longer way off.Plus, I wasn’t so keen on BASE back then.
I wasn’t the only one doing this. There were plenty of others too. And there were a few of us in my JEE class who shared part of the route back home. More so when we commuted by BMTC. It was a pretty messy route – college to Banashankari, where a few people would split, Banashankari to Checkpost (via the famous 201 series), and then we’d all go our own route.
So one morning, we all turned up as usual to class at 7:30 am. (Hard to believe I was that person). We were supposed to have classes till a little past noon. Wonderment, it turned out that day that two of the three classes we were supposed to have that day stood cancelled. Which would mean we’d be off at 9 am, given that it was still breaktime, and we didn’t have college classes.
So at 9 am, we began walking to the BMTC stop. ‘We’ were five of us – me, and folks who I’ll blur names of thanks to privacy concerns – three other girls S, L and V. And there was this guy, who I’ll simply call The Guy, because there’s very little else about him that’s relevant.
L and I lived close to each other. Our mothers were friends. S would split at Banashankari, and The Guy would split at Checkpost. And V? She lived way off. So um, what was she doing with us? Well, she had a massive crush on The Guy and had taken to haunting him like a spectre. I think it was because he saved her life during a trek or something, I’m not too sure. The memory is hazy. I found it mildly amusing while also thinking she’s being stupid about it, and L found the whole deal supremely funny, while S would pass sarcastic comments every once in a while. And The Guy? He had no clue.
V tried to hang on to us for longer, but it soon became imminent that the route we’d take would be too round-about for her, and so she left in a rick, asking The Guy if he wanted a ride halfway to his place till the last minute. He kept saying no, so she gave us those secret smiles and glances and left.
So, um, the task was upon us. To find out if he was single. To find out if he had any old flames from school. And also, I think it involved finding out his phone number, being as this was in the pre-cellphone era. It also involved finding out what his likes and dislikes were, given that this was also the pre-Orkut/Facebook era. It sounds pretty straightforward now, but back then, it felt like the most daunting task in the history of man, cracking JEE included. And none of us really knew the guy.
And all this was supposed to be accomplished in the half-an-hour-fortyfive-minutes between now and Checkpost.
While waiting for the bus to Banashankari, we tried making the usual small talk, which involved whining about class, making fun of our instructors and saying how horrible the chemistry paper was (even though I really liked chemistry back then, I had to nod in agreement when he whined about chemistry).
Soon we found out which school he was from, which was not in South Bangalore, so it destroyed any chance of us knowing anyone from there to ask about him. And then it was about movies and music and all that random stuff. I was taking the long route here, not making it too obvious that we wanted to dig up stuff about him. So far, it was all of no use, and the only positive fallout of the whole conversation until then was that I heard about Gloria Estefan.
Soon, three buses had passed us, and the only reason we’d not got on was because the buses were too crowded. I didn’t know back then that was the default state of buses going from the outer edges of the city to the center during peak hours. And then when we finally did realize what was happening, we got into the next available bus.
Only after getting in did we realize it doesn’t go to Banashankari. And that apart, there were gropers at work there, taking advantage of the general crowding… and The Guy being a scrawny sixteen-year-old, couldn’t manage to ‘protect’ us all. So we got off at the very next stop. ‘We can always find a bus to Banashankari from here’, we thought.
But nope, we couldn’t. And we couldn’t even make conversation. Finally, The Guy said ‘Let’s go to Monotype’. Now this was a whole new universe for me and L. The Guy reassured us that he knew the routes from Monotype to Banashankari well. Impressed by his chivalry already, we agreed.
Short ride to Monotype, with gropers again, but this time we were well-prepared with dirty looks that surprisingly worked. And then I don’t know what happened clearly, but all I remember is a long, long walk from Monotype to Banashankari, while wearing a salwar-kameez with an unruly dupatta, and carrying a heavy JEE Math book – Gupta&Gupta, I think.
Now L took over. She was sick of my namby-pamby attempts at conversation, and took a slightly more direct route. Which meant she began pulling my leg about random fellas, as schoolgirls in pigtails are wont to do. And I played along, pulling hers, and then finally we ganged up on The Guy, and asked ‘So how ’bout you, who do they tease you with?’. And by the time we’d arrived at Banashankari, L had managed to elicit from him his entire romantic history (or lack thereof). And then we found a 201, and then The Guy impressed us with his giving-up-seat-for-us routine, and we finally took back our Gupta&Guptas which he had so sweetly carried for us during our long walk.
By now it was 11:30, and L and I weren’t expected home until 1 at the very least, so we were expecting to give our mothers a pleasant ‘class got over early! yay!’ sort of a surprise. When I reached home, Amma was on the phone, and was giving me glances as she was talking. I didn’t realize who or what, and didn’t much pay attention.
And then she finally got off the phone and I said “We didn’t have Maths and Chemistry today!’, and instead of ‘Oh what a relief it must be for you, you poor thing’, I got a ‘So where were you from 9?’. Least expected.
Then she proceeded to say V had called up at 9:30 (presumably in anticipation of hearing what dirt we had on The Guy), first L and then me, startling both my mother and L’s mother.
Oh, and it gets better. V even mentioned that L and I were with The Guy, who had hitherto been unheard of. And back then, your daughter-at-impressionable-age hanging out with unheard-of-guy-also-at-impressionable-age could mean a variety of things, all of which were worst-case scenarios if you were a parent. And L’s mom and mine had gotten talking on the phone, compounding each others’ worstcase scenarios with every passing minute.
I stood my ground, put the blame all solely on BMTC and gropers and rush hour, and said I’m off to rest now because my body’s aching from all the walking I’d done. And I guess L did the same. And when V called us both up later in the day, we pretended to have nothing to talk about other than this week’s homework and Coke [V] Popstars despite her best tries to get us talking. And we gave her a sound shelling the next morning and threatened to call her folks up and say awkward things.
There. Feels good to get it off my chest now.
Epilogue: It took V a long while to get over her massive crush on The Guy, who said no to her repeatedly, and went on to have a string of girlfriends. I have since vowed to never try hooking people up, for reason not connected with this incident. L on the other hand would get a kick out of it for as long as I knew her; we haven’t been in touch for years now. I also became slightly more regular in calling home and informing them I’ll be late, before any jerk would call home and mess things up for me. And most importantly, when I’m travelling by BMTC during rush hour, I make sure to avoid the middle of the bus and stick to the front end, and in general turning extremely violent when faced with gropers on the bus.
Anyone who’s done a decent amount of reading, especially when young, fancies themselves a novelist. I am no exception.
I didn’t get to do much writing at school. Whatever little I did get to do, I revelled in it. Most of it was boring essays on pertinent social issues, and that didn’t seem to require much creativity, just repeating of oft-repeated catchphrases, themes and ideas. No one, simply no one asked us to write stories, much less grade us on its creativity or whatever.
It’s not like my peers wrote wonderful fiction. I knew one girl who wrote Poetry in her neat, slanting hand. It was about beauty, nature and all that was right and wrong with the world, all that was innocent and pure. She was rather serious about it; she even maintained a separate notebook for her poetry. And dozens of us wrote verse, which sometimes verged on cats on mats or dogs gnawing logs. Then there were those debate award winners who wrote serious stuff about the state of teaching, value-based education, banning of tobacco and alcohol and plastic bags.
But no one I knew wrote good fiction which I really enjoyed.
Well, there was one guy who wrote a really nice, funny story which won him a ton of awards and got published widely, but he was, and still is just someone on the periphery of my perception and memory, and always the sort who set lofty goals unachievable by the rest of us, so he doesn’t much count.
No one I knew back then wrote nice, cute, funny stuff. The few who tried would come up with rude references that we giggled at and muttered to each other, but it wasn’t universally funny. But then, that’s too much to expect of schoolchildren.
Or was it? All the children’s magazines I subscribed to had exactly such stories, experiences and other things by kids my age. I found them wonderful, wished I knew them personally, wished they were my cousins or classmates or some such thing. Nope. [Aside: There was this much-older girl called Gayathri Chandrasekharan who used to regularly have her stories or experiences or opinion pieces published in Gokulam. She wrote rather well, and I think I idolized her writing when I was in middle school. Imagine my grin of recognition when, many years later, I came across her name in the list of editors of Tinkle!]
So there I was, reading a lot of stories written by people my age, and whatever little enthusiasm I had to write anything original that wasn’t sapped away by the lack of opportunity in schoolwork was taken away by reject letters from Anant Pai and the editor of Gokulam.
I somehow never tried writing any sort of fiction. It doesn’t come to me at all.
The only attempts have been first vaguely and then strongly autobiographical. But there’s only so much you can fictionalize before it starts seeming extremely sad. And as time has passed, I’ve seen a lot that’d make for a much better blockbuster than the latest in Hollywood or the Indian film industry, but rules of propriety and privacy have also caught up, and I wouldn’t be caught dead fictionalizing any episode from anyone’s life.
And that brings me to where I am now. NaNoWriMo is on, and I have no decent story ideas. I wasn’t even thinking of 50k words, just one of those short stories that people all seem to dish out like Ganesh Darshan dishes out dosas. I sit and think and nothing comes to me. Glimpses of narrative structures flit through my mind, but don’t crystallize into anything tangible. I can’t even put my finger on what the narrative structure that makes me feel so excited is. Occasionally, a scene stays in my mind long enough, but I start to overthink it and kill it even before it’s born.
Oh, and plotline. What do I write about? Stick to what you know is all fine, but what do I write about, Tambrahmness? I’m not so Tambrahm, and frankly if I were to write stories where very sentence ended with a Maami or Vasudeva-Krishna-Eeshwara, I’d myself not read it. And, oh, well, I’m darned proud of my way of life and all that, but I’d rather not make a fetching virtue of where I come from or a caricature. Corporate life is a colossal no-no for reasons that are so no-no to talk about. And grad life…. meh. There’s a lot that can be exciting, but all those involve little anecdotes like your labmate from a culture with a majorleague work ethic who gets stumped when you ask them what they do in their spare time. And the rest involve technology, which everyone is allergic to.
Basically no one finds the stuff I find interesting interesting. As for common themes like friendship, love, conflict, tragedy, it seems like no coherent plot can be woven about them.
And when I do get a plot, which comes after a dozen ‘inspirations’ from twice as many sources, I CAN’T SEEM TO WRITE IT DOWN! I can’t write dialogue for nuts, nothing I write sounds like actual people talking. Maybe I’m far too removed from reality to write anything that doesn’t sound like it’s out of a Wikipedia article.
The worst part, I haven’t done any real fiction reading in a long, long while it seems like, and it really tells on me.
I don’t much know what to do. I can possibly bruteforce it, try to sit down 9-to-5 and come up with something, but I have real work to do. It might work, because I know 80% of the blockade is in the mind, and telling myself to ‘just do it’ might just help.But then, real work stands in the way.
So what can I do?
I think I’ll deal with this in the same way I dealt with the times when I wanted to work on something cool, but couldn’t get any motivation going – I turned it into coursework.
Cue the screenwriting course at my university. Next quarter. Undergrad-level course. The syllabus involves watching atleast one movie a week, and plenty of reading, and a hands-on writing project that involves a script in three acts.
Let’s hope I have enough time to sit in on that class. Even if I’m not doing all the activities, atleast the knowledge and peer group might help.
Or so I hope.
I had a very bad day. Very bad.
I might possibly have ruined my life. No, not in the inappropriate-boyfriend-physical-relations-single-teenaged-mother way. No, actually I haven’t ruined my life. My stupidity might have made me do the best thing I could have done ever. But at the moment, my stupidity looms large in front of my face, and it will be a while before I say yeah, okay, everything turns out for the best. And kindly do not do a ‘what happened?’ routine in the comments section. Stress on ‘Kindly’.
Anyway, after the aforementioned life-ruining act of mine, I tried to make myself feel better by cooking a nice elaborate meal for myself. It turned out good. I didn’t feel much better.
So well, there’s one thing that never fails to get me up. Water. Of the swimming-pool sort.
Ten minutes later, I found myself at the Rec Center pool, doing breadths. There weren’t many others near where I was. There were two gossipy undergrads, a quiet-looking girl who did only Butterfly, a couple whose strokes were all in perfect synchronization, and this guy whose sheer height increased his swimming speed.
Turns out, my bad day had affected the way I swim as well. For the first time in what seems like years, I was swallowing mouthfuls of water, tired easily, got water into my ears each time I turned to take a breath during freestyle, and got water splashing on my face with each backstroke. Give yourself a break, I told myself.
Soon the Butterfly girl left, and I took the pull-buoy she was using… I really needed to get back to not splashing while I did a backstroke. Just then, this efficient-looking fiftyish lady dove in. ‘Are you using this lane?’ she asked me. Er… lane? What lane? I had been swimming all over the place. On an ordinary day, I’d've grinned and said something but today I just nodded. She took the lane next to mine, muttered something about people who swim out of lane. God, I hadn’t met any old lady like her since I entered this country… most I’d met were these old dears who needed help crossing the street, but steadfastly refused when you offered to take help. Either that, or they giggled and talked. Maybe about psychology, maybe about the current state of the economy, or maybe my ‘ethnic-looking earrings’. But never was one curt.
I was still examining the pull-buoy and contemplating distractedly, when this lady took off. One lap. Then another. Then another. No pauses, unlike me. I wanted to see if I could match her speed. I took off at about the same time she did, and didn’t float for a while like I normally did to see how far my lungs would take me, crawled in short, efficient strokes, and came up every fourth stroke for a breath. I reached at the same time she did, fully spent. While I tried to get water out of my ears, she had already somersaulted underwater and turned the other way. My, I used to be able to do that! I tried, and only ended up with more water in my ears.
I watched her swim away, in swift, smooth strokes. She had seemed pretty sharp and efficient and seemed like she ‘meant business’, but her swimming was anything but. She swam with the smoothness of a dolphin, her kicking didn’t cause any splashing, nor did her crawl. She came up for breath oh so regularly, unlike me, who surfaced only when I felt out of oxygen.
I wanted to ask her for tips, but ohmigod, she swam without a pause. I would have been all admiration, if it hadn’t been for her curt tone when she spoke to me. I vaguely thought of her as one of those old women so bursting with energy that no one in her house survived beyond age thirty, because she stole all their youth and vigour. And so much need for efficiency that no one really wanted to.
I concentrated on getting my backstroke right for the next half an hour, and paid scarce attention to her, except to notice her stop once or twice.
And then two laps of backstroke without splashing. Yay.
And then there she was, starting on her backstroke, when I was beginning freestyle. Let’s race, granny. I gave her a few seconds’ headstart and then I took after her. This time I got there first. She turned, switching to freestyle again, and I struggled hard to keep up with her. She seemed to slack a little in the middle and I surged ahead, but just as we were getting near the edge, I was losing energy, and she came at full speed. And she wasn’t even trying, like me. I just about made it. Because I tried.
And then she paused.
“Come here often?” I asked. ‘Actually, I’ve been very ill lately. I stopped swimming for a month. I’m recuperating now”, she said. “Ohh, feeling better now, I hope?”, I asked.
“Yeah…. though, I seem to have lost my stamina, and my swimming is much slower now. Much slower”.
I put in a lot of my life and soul into this blog. That is no secret.
I also put in a lot of personal content into this blog. They have in the past led to OMGWTF sort of situations with people who knew me who I didn’t know. My kidhood/teenage/adultLife experiences, some of them with a liberal amount of exaggeration, some of them rather embarrassing, are all chronicled here.
And hence it is very important that I control the content of this blog.
Which is totally, totally impossible these days.
Because the losers at Bangalore Mirror keep lifting my content left, right and center. And publish my work in that infernal rag of theirs.
They of course mention the URL of this page as a safeguard against plagiarism accusations.
But. They violate the Creative Commons License my blog is under. Because it requires that my consent be taken before my content is used for commercial purposes. Newspaper, even of the Mirror variety, qualifies as commercial.
I also try to make sure my blog entries are grammatically correct, and have no spelling mistakes whatever, and I put in my best effort to not misuse case. The Mirror, in spite of having people dedicated to this task, somehow manage to screw the grammar, punctuation and spellings up. Heck, they can’t even do a proper CtrlC-CtrlV.
And I’m always respectful here. I don’t use abusive words at people. I even refer to Chetan Bhagat as Mr. Bhagat. In the Mirror however, it becomes a rude ‘Bhagat’.
I have previously taken offence at this sort of rude lifting of my content without my permission and even mailed an editor there. I got back an assurance that this won’t happen again:
Our editor Mr Sreenivas has drawn my attention to your objections to our publishing your blog entry which we carried in our newspaper on Oct 15. I appreciate the points you raised, regarding what is appropriate for a blog and what is appropriate for a newspaper. I must confess the fine distinction you made escaped us while choosing your blog entry, which we thought was witty and interesting. We wrongly assumed that what is already in the public domain of a blog is suited for the public domain of a newspaper; you correctly point out that a blogger may put it out in a blog precisely because he/she knows that not everyone related to him or her will read it. As for not seeking your permission, this lapse happened on our part because we assumed that Balanarayan had obtained your permission previously, and that would apply in general to what we chose to carry. We were wrong about that. I wish we had sought your permission first. We apologise for the the distress it has caused to you, and will ensure that we will henceforth seek your permission if we feel a particular entry is suitable for our column.
The Balanarayan mentioned here is chuchap, who took my permission once before publishing my post a year or two ago in the Mirror (And who is currently not employed with Bangalore Mirror). And they say they assumed that I had given permission to lift my blog for posterity. Going by that token, shouldn’t they have stopped lifting my content when I expressed my displeasure at their doing so? They didn’t. They went on and flicked my Facebook post. Something I totally totally don’t want in a newspaper. And certainly not in the Mirror for godsake.
And what stops these losers from ASKING? I have an About page, a contact form, and a comments section. Isn’t that sufficient for someone who wants to get in touch with me from getting in touch with me? How hard is it to write a comment, for godsake?
Initially when I started blogging, I didn’t much care about others lifting my content. Any publicity was good publicity, wasn’t it? But that was when I gave the printed word more respect than I do now. Now I don’t really much care about publicity, unless it’s getting me some work in machine learning. I don’t anymore have any writerly dreams to the extent I used to, because more important and exciting things grab my attention now. I do dream of taking a year off and writing that novel I’ve always wanted to put down to paper, but it’s not the most important ambition in my life at the moment. The only places I would work hard to get published in are places like this. I’m sorry, but my life has become infinitely more sadder that I don’t care about being published in a daily rag anymore.
Plus, I want more control over my content online. I can remove a post if someone says they’d rather not like it up on the Internet, and if I agree about it. I don’t want my words being under some third party’s control. Call me paranoid, but that’s how it is.
And heck, why am I even justifying myself. This is my blog. Rispect Mah Authoritah. Hang yourself before you even think of lifting my content.
PS: In other news, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Mexicali in Mexico was felt in Southerns California. I thought I was merely feeling dizzy due to an excellent lunch, when my roommate yelled out that it was an earthquake and we moved out of the house. It was pretty mild. We’re all safe. Though, Disneyland stopped its rides for a while.
Expectations really change the way you perceive an experience. And I mean really.
A couple of years out of school, I sort of began losing touch with my schoolmates, me being at NITK, and they all in Bangalore, and their not being on Orkut. And then we had a reunion or two, which I attended expecting everyone to have undergone sea-changes and all. But no, the only shock I got was my diminutive fellow first bencher was now a venerable Petronas tower. No, actually, the bigger shock was that everyone seemed pretty much the same. My close friends were still my close friends. The class tensionParty was still the class tensionParty. The eternal star-crossed couple we giggled about was still the eternal star-crossed couple we giggled about. The class poet still wrote poetry about nature and beauty. And a friend I previously mentioned on this blog as Pink was still wearing the same top she was wearing when I saw her last.
As for those who couldn’t make it to the reunions, I kept meeting them off and on every now and then. They didn’t seem to have changed much, except maybe when they acquired fake accents and awesome degrees.
Even our teachers treated us the same way when we ran into them once in a while. They still called us by our old nicknames, pulled our legs about the same old jokes (they remembered!)….
Our ragtag bunch of thirty-nine still seemed to be much the same, the eight years notwithstanding. And so it seemed too with my friends from school who were a year or two older or younger than me.
So I basically assumed that everyone I knew from school would be pretty much the same, no changes whatsoever. I obviously was setting myself up for a big shock. And how.
I think Facebook is the biggest time-sink there ever is, even including Reddit or Google Reader. And my saying that certainly is something. So I don’t know what I was thinking one fine day when I decided to look up my schoolmates on Facebook.
The sleek handsome head-boy was now a teetering-towards-middle-age doctor in Boston. The head-girl in that batch, that doe-eyed girl we all aspired to be like, was now a pleasantly plump homemaker in Leeds. Some topper dude was now a professional photographer…. aal izz well, I suppose. Many more of those much-older kids had (obviously) undergone a sea-change.
So, hell, let’s turn to the juniors, shall we? Those kids who used to wet their pants when we were responsible middle-schoolers.
Big mistake. The girls all looked like Heidi Klum, the boys like Justin Timberlake (You know you’re getting on in years when your pop culture references are so yesterday). Their photos oozed so much oomph, it was hard to believe that this was the same kid who used to cry all the time for his mommy, and who would be placated with a pineapple-flavoured lollipop.
So anyway, let’s check out the teachers, shall we? That timeless bunch who stay the same, batch after batch, who narrate the same jokes year after year (and every class will have someone with an older sibling who had told them the joke), including the ones that start with ‘Last year, you know…’.
They were all Farmville-crazy!
One of them wrote a blog which had horrible, horrible grammar. Thank god she was the one who taught chemistry, not the one who taught English. I swear to god I’d have thrown myself off a cliff with disillusionment if she was.
And one more of them, the one who wore those prim sarees which established her as Martinet supreme, who used to regularly upbraid high school girls for our short skirts and too-tight uniforms (she said we looked ugly, it didn’t suit us, and a variety of other things that a thirteen-year-old feels horrible, horrible about), and said segregation of the sexes was good…. she had uploaded a few photos of herself posing in front of various European monuments wearing various forms of tight, revealing clothes. And she looked ugly, it didn’t suit her.
After that, I haven’t logged into Facebook, and don’t feel like for some time to come.
Once upon a time after a trip to Mangalore, Logik had tweeted “Extreme paapa in previous janma = tyre seat of Bangalore-Mangalore bus”.
Here’s my version:
Extreme paapa in previous janma = near-toilet seat in turbulent American Airlines flight + aisle seat + next seat of lovey-dovey PDA-making couple, both of who made frequent trips to the loo + neighbouring seat of singleMom who couldn’t get enough of telling her life story to everyone around her + crying baby + flirty Latino man + curious passenger bound for Frankfurt who heard out singleMom + right under overpacked bag due to which luggage bin could not be shut + disgusting in-flight movie on while eating and drinking + heavy-ish snowfall for the first time in two-three years at destination + plane circling round and round destination as no permission to land + plane running out of fuel + stopping over for seemingly forever at little-known airport for fuel + no card in pocket to buy food on flight + long loo lines + beverage-only diet for duration of flight which necessitates standing in loo line + when card finally found, crew out of food, beverages + lack of winter clothes as kith and kin had re-re-reassured me that destination remains pleasant at 24 degrees celsius.
But all that seems like Purgatory… I’m now in paradise and I have a White Christmas.
Happy Holidays to one and all
I’m back to blogging, but only for a bit. Next week is a bit hectic. But I HAD to post on this.
When I was working in Bangalore, I was in a team full of young people just a few years older than me. They were much more experienced, and I, the only fresher, moved from module to module learning what each bit did. And it always, always happened that just as I moved to a new thing, the person handling that module would get their wedding fixed and would go off for a month, leaving me to work on that module.
There were the usual jokes about my being some hex or something, but it was mostly attributed to the common age group of all my mentors, and a week of holidaying following the end of each iteration, following which my colleagues would go home, and be subjected to a week of bride/groom-seeing.
And now the saga continues.
The person I am working with is an alumnus of University X. And has a wife who is expecting.
The person I might be working with, completely totally unrelated to the previously mentioned person, and of a completely different age group, is an alumnus of University X, though in a totally different mostly unrelated discipline. And has a wife who is expecting.
PS: I know such coincidences are everywhere, that if you look hard enough, you can find the shape of a holy grail on the Boston, Detroit, Washington DC, Chennai, Surathkal, Bangalore maps, so don’t make that point in the comments.
I had been maintaining a rather quiet existence when all of a sudden, on Thursday, people were pinging me asking what I did this time to violate the WordPress.com Terms of Service. This very neatly escaped my notice as I was away assaulting the tastebuds of my roommates with some concoction that resulted from a cooker, some vegetables and some rice. To top it, Windows had installed updates and thus autorestarted my system. I never got to see those pings.
And then there was this offliner from my mother asking me to buck up and not just lose it and go offline, I can always create a new blog, can’t I?
I tried accessing my blog. And was informed that This blog has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service.
And not only that. My WordPress.com account had been suspended. So all my blogs had been ‘archived or suspended for a violation of Terms of Service”.
I tried to remember what exactly I might have done that might result in something like this. Surely I had not done anything like last time. I tried going through the Terms of Service. Apparently I was responsible for my account not being compromised. Suddenly I had grand delusions of my eighty-four-character specially-chosen password being cracked by a spammer and this page being used as a spam location.
A couple of hours later, I got a reply from WordPress saying
Sorry for the mixup. I’ve restored your blogs.
All my blogs were back, save this one. Oh Hell!! I went back to the form. Some more time later, I got another reply saying
My apologies – the system should not have done that.
I have removed the warning and I am sorry for the concern it caused.
And then just as I was thinking of posting this entire story, my WordPress account was suspended Yet Again. Back to the forms.
This time it was
I am really really sorry. Some new code has caused this, it was not someone reporting or looking at the blog. It was automated and completely wrong.
It cannot happen again now, it really can’t.
I am very sorry for the problem and for annoying you so much – that’s the last thing we would want.
And this time, only NITK Numbskulls was back. The others weren’t. Forms, again.
I am really sorry for that happening – I cannot see why yet but I can assure you it will not happen again.
The blogs are back just as you left them and I very much apologise for the trouble we caused you.
Oh God. Finally, everything is back as it was. Thanks everyone for pinging, for bearing with me.
I wonder what bit of code caused that. How do you automate suspension of blogs for violation of terms of service other than those related to spam?
For those of you who don’t know, I trip on Google Reader.
Multiple reasons. To start with, there were a lot of things I missed out on by virtue of ignorance, while at NITK. So I subscribe left right and center to anything that aggregates together information about opportunities. And then there was this time when I wanted to improve my domain knowledge on things like Knowledge Discovery and Text Mining and Machine Learning and Data Mining and Image Processing and Software Engineering and… you get the picture, so I subscribed indiscriminately to a lot of blogs that write extensively on these topics. There was also a time during the holidays when I stumbled on a gazillion blogs, found them all wonderful, and subscribed to them all. And I feel I don’t follow movies and music fervently enough, so there are some entertainment blogs that keep me informed of things in that arena. There was a time during my professional life when I would reach office absurdly early, and there began my subscribing to quizzing blogs, so that I could get my daily dose of trivia before I began work, or during my lunch break. And political blogs. What would life be without them. There are also photoblogs and photography blogs which I subscribed to in an initial enthu, and starmark various posts to implement them whenever I can. Then there are those zillion-feeds-a-day blogs like Freakonomics or MentalFloss.
And initially, the Recommended Feeds section was a huuuuge hit with me. It gave me access to so many good feeds I might have otherwise skipped.
And shared items. Some or the other person who I follow is always jobless. And finds time to discover a million new blogs and share all the (mostly good) things they find there.
I never felt the need to prune my reading list over the past year. I had atleast an hour-long commute to work every day and found that catching up on my feeds from my mobile was the best way to spend that hour. I routinely found myself craving for more, during those times in traffic jams.
But now, I don’t obsessively compulsively refresh my Reader every few minutes… there is hardly any time for that. Right now. I find it quite a burden to bring my Unread count to zero. And the number of feeds that pile up if I don’t log in for a day or two is really, really scary. It’s only in three figures, though.
I don’t particularly like marking things as Read. Especially because the things I subscribe to are interesting, worthy of respect, even.
“Unsubscribe. Easy!”, you might say. No, it is not that easy. Now I mightn’t have time to read all that I ask for, but there will definitely come a time, say winter break, or some point in time, I KNOW, when I’ll look woefully at my empty account and wonder what used to take so much of my time. It has happened in the past.
And I did try unsubscribing from some feeds. But most of those were feeds from blogs whose owners had long quit updating, feeds from blogs of events which happened rather long back, and feeds which I generally do not find very useful.
But there’s this seemingly irrational reasoning in my head that I should read feed X because it’s good for me, it’ll help me grow as a person. And that makes me avoid unsubscribing based on like/don’t like or goodWriting/badWriting.
So what do I want? An application that magically transfers all the information data I subscribe to and transmits it to my head. While I’m sleeping.
More (or less) realisitically, I just want some sort of a recommender system that tells me which of the two-hundred unread feeds right now do I absolutely have to read, and which ones I can safely mark as hell.Or atleast some sort of a ranking system.
And I came across this article which voiced all the concerns I had! (Through Reader, of course ). Great, people are already on the job.
Till Google listens to that and comes up with some system like that, or until someone attempts to come up with such a system, I’m stuck with 135 feeds most of which post regularly. So what do I do?
Logik suggested crowdsourcing once. I’ll-share-good-stuff-from-TechCrunch-you-share-from-mentalFloss-and-greatBong. But is it really reliable? And how do we evolve some similar system? Any thoughts?
And I really don’t want to trim down this part of my life. Fact remains that these nice reads do definitely keep me on my toes, keep me informed, give me good fodder for conversation, are useful in many ways…. and heck, it’s convenient. It’s also nice to have something good to fall back on when you don’t have anything else to do. All I ask is for more convenience.
PS: There might be some to whom my concerns might seem alien. “You’re a computer addict”, they might say. Heck, do I call you an ‘air addict’ or ‘water addict’, or… ‘rice addict’…. or ‘Sunday Mass addict’? If I’m on my laptop the whole day, it doesn’t mean I’m a computer ‘addict’. While I’m logged on, I’m also networking, keeping in touch with friends, reading novels, going through tutorials, looking up recipes, watching movies, making jokes, reading the news. I don’t ask you “Why are you alwaaaaaayyys standing up or sitting down?”, do I?
And no, I don’t wear glasses.
S and I have known each other ever since we can remember. We were in school together, from kindergarten to tenth. We grew up together, more or less… went through ego battles together, began sighting guys together, joked together in the middle benches (not the backbench… teachers wise up to it pretty much) whenever I could manage it (my height made sure the teachers always put me in the front bench)…. and then we lost touch in the middle, during our engineering. And got back in touch just as I was leaving for Irvine…. for which I’ll be forever thankful. It turns out we turned out more similar than we ever thought we’d be, having quite a few aspects of our lives turn out very similar, including our job profiles, and heck, we even started on our first jobs on the same day! And… we also complete each others’ sentences now, can totally understand what the other person says…
The best bit was not meeting up for the first time in four years and feeling not a day had passed since we met last. The best bit was that we ran into two of our school teachers when we met. One of them was the much-chronicled-on-this-blog Naughty Nallu, who treated us just like we were two errant schoolgirls giggling in the middle benches, and not at all like two adults…. somehow, the more things change, the more they remain the same
So now that the background has been established that we are in regular touch, let’s get to business.
We also had another classmate, who also studied with us from first to tenth. I’ll call her Pink for reasons I’ll explain later. She was the class darling, as well as the class hottie. S and I killed many trees just by making lists of the many boys who had approached us about how to win this girl’s heart. Every damn teacher hated our class, and every damn teacher thought the only redeeming feature of our class was Pink.
Being together for so many years, your differences start becoming insignificant. You get used to Pink’s total lack of interests in books outside of schoolwork. You get used to her primness and properness. You all have fun together, that’s all you end up keeping in mind.
And then school was out; we kept in touch on and off after that. We more or less lost touch with Pink, though she was just a click away. We rather joked about her in her absence…. I have no idea why we began doing that.
One of those is why I call her Pink here. We had a get-together after AIEEE. She was wearing a pink top, and brown jeans. And then a while later, we watched Main Hoon Na. She was wearing a pink top, and brown jeans. A year or so later, we had a class reunion.She was wearing…. you get the drift. And then one of us met her at an intercollegiate fest. No prizes for guessing what she wore there. Basically, this was during all the very few times we met after school. Hence the inside joke, and the silent chuckle whenever she was mentioned.
A month or so back, another friend told me Pink was engaged. My first reaction was “Was she wea..”, when I was promptly cut off by that friend who dismissed my doubts and said, no, she was wearing a dark-coloured saree for the occasion.
S told me a common friend of hers and Pink’s told her that Pink got married yesterday. I just was beginning to think about her wardrobe, when S brought my attention to the fact that both of us hadn’t been invited. When the common friend (who had been invited, hopefully?) asked, she was apparently told by Pink, “Jana jaassti aagtaare“. There would be wayyyy too many people at her wedding if she had called S.
Oh, dear dear S… what are you, an amoeba that splits to form too many people when given enough food? And keeps consuming more and more and make more and more people?
And Pink, do you not remember all the occasions we fended off valiant young men intent on winning your hand? The times when we played throwball? The times you sucked up to teachers and we didn’t laugh? The times when we agreed that you had been sinned against even when it was so clear you had sinned? All the maths we did together? All the games we used to invent together to rid the monotony of a meaningless class? All the outings you used to plan so painstakingly?
I don’t care if you’ve forgotten us. School was a long time ago, and we all move on. You need not invite us if you don’t think we aren’t important enough to be there. We knew each other long ago, and priorities have changed since then, and we acknowledge that. And it’s not like we are all that free to take a break and come off to whichever faroff place your wedding is being held at. This is not about us. But er… jana jaasti? Isn’t that a bit cheap? At your wedding, of all days? Especially when we _know_ you don’t have a restricted guest list or any such.
S and I were wavering between choosing to invite her or not for our respective weddings when they happen, when I remembered one tiny memory that put things in perspective for us.
“Not much has changed”, I said. “Remember the time she used to write with your pen in class because she didn’t want her ink to get over?”
And Pink, we both heartily wish you a very happy married life.
Tuesday evenings are my most unproductive. And ruin the entire week so that I’m always playing catch-up.
I have a half-a-dozen drafts languishing in my WordPress account. And I really shouldn’t be away from proper blogging/writing for so long… it begins to feel unreal. But oh, well, such is life. And will continue to be.
I want to write about how the power of choice is making us all incredibly narrow minded, and about how un-green this country is, and another ‘impressions of Irvine’ sort of post. But I’m becoming incredibly inarticulate these days. And rather dreamy, moony, moody and silent for the most part, bordering on misanthropic. There are a lot of reasons for that, but let’s not get started.
That apart, I seem to have a newfound fascination for Thillanas.
I find I’m rather tired from late nights, lugging my laptop around, lugging groceries… hence the title: Give me strength enough to conquer a thousand elephants. Or a thousand lines of code. No, I don’t fancy myself Sameera Reddy or Ramya or least of all, Surya.
And those who are here for reasons other than Raul Ghandy’s gurlfiend, please do drop a line in the comments section, just saying hi or whatever. You are also welcome to invite me over for snacks, and please make it chaat; been ages since I’ve had chaat, and you don’t really find the ingredients here. It feels nice to read comments on the blog.
… So little time to do it in!
I’m leaving India in less than a week. I have a lot of pics to share, a lot of feelings to blog about, a lot of nostalgia to express.
So many people to meet! If by chance I’m not able to bid you goodbye in person or over the phone, I’m so sorry, but it’s not because I hate you.. I’m on a forgiveness spree where people I hate are concerned. I mightn’t be able to say ‘bye because there’s simply too much I need to do that I remember/am reminded of only in the very last minute.Do call me this week, if you want. My home number hasn’t changed in ages, and my mobile has remained the same for two years now.
I don’t quite know when we’ll meet again, if at all. I’m going to begin living from deadline to deadline again. And if we’re on different timezones, our correspondence is done for, especially if you love your sleep.
I’m not thaaaat social a person, so chances are high I keep to myself in a new place, reminisce like crazy… which means I’m thinking of every person I ever knew. And for once, I’m going to a place where I actually know no one I knew before. Not like PU College where everyone knew (or atleast knew of) everyone else, or NITK where there were quite a few people I knew from school or PU, or office, where the NITK gang was quite populous. And it was easy keeping in touch with people from the past back then. Now however, it’s not going to be easy to keep in touch on a daily, or even weekly basis with all but a few people I regularly interact with. There is no easy conversation-starter like common friends or something. Things are going to be different.
The easy comfort I drew from the past is going to be even farther away, so I’m going to be going deeper in my head than before to draw comfort. So call me this week, keep your memory fresh in my mind. God knows I’m going to need it. Thanks.
I’m excited about new prospects, new everything. I sure hope once I’m at Irvine, I have enough time to write about all that on this blog.
And sure hope I manage to record the happenings and feelings of the past few days here before next week comes along with stuff that’s really exciting and hence this week is forgotten… I just want to record it somewhere.
As I’ve discovered, I’m lousy at saying ‘bye, and other sorts of endings. So.. uh… see you ’round. We’ll meet again.
“Hey, don’t pick NesTea in peach flavor… lemon is so much better”.
“Ma, the upma will be so much better with a twist of lemon”.
“This recipe says ‘dash of lemon juice’… why didn’t you add it? Just because it’s optional doesn’t mean it should be ignored”.
“Priya, you didn’t tell me you were making lemon rasam today”. “But it’s not lemon rasam!”.
“Why is this pongal tasting a bit funny?”.
“Why’d you get this facewash?”. (Because it contains lemon as an ingredient).
“God, I thought we’d sworn not to buy this brand of deo anymore”.
“Maami, what to do for travel sickness?… and no, YOU are not giving me suggestions here”. (Go have your Avil and throw up all you like… sucking a lemon half works best, didn’t you know?).
I seem to be in a phase when everything tastes and smells so much better in lemon flavor. And when lemon cures everything from common cold to Stockholm Syndrome.
Google.com. Wikipedia. MentalFloss.com.
LinkedIn. Orkut. Facebook. Twitter. Blogger. WordPress.
Sometimes I know too much for my own good.
Curiosity kills the cat. A little learning is a dangerous thing.
I never learn.
There are times when I splurge, and there are times when I’m rather…. economical. I’m not ashamed of exhibiting the latter behaviour, and successfully ignore stares from rude waiters when I do not tip, or bookstore owners when they say “Thisees naat ye library”.
But occasionally, I do end up blushing. Like today.
Usual bookstore whose owner doesn’t quite mind me finishing the pulp-fic pop-lit in the store. Not when I actually do buy more durable tomes from him with amazing regularity.
I came across one of those tiny books which give you daily predictions for a whole year, based on your Sun sign. Found the right one. Found it was cellotaped shut.
Now I had no intention of buying that book, given one-third of the year is done. But I wanted to test the accuracy of the damn thing. Just like I read the day’s forecast after I am done for the day.
So since the cellotape was only around the middle of the book, I tried peering through the ends of the book, for one specific date to check if the book was on track there. Feb 10, Feb 14, Feb 15…. and I see the proprietor giving me a look.
I tried giving my best ‘Well, you caught me with my hand in the cookie jar for the gazillionth time since I was four years old, now what?’ look, but he just smiled and said
That’s not for Taurus, that’s for Aries
This is what happens when you’ve been going to the same bookstore since before you learned to read.
PS: I find in most stores that such books are present for all the sun signs with the exeption of Taurus… why? Is there more demand for these books among Taureans?
Thanks to a dog running off with my favorite pair of shoes, and my sister’s, and my cousin’s, we found ourselves shopping for shoes. Recipe for instant hell.
I have exceptionally tiny feet. My cousin has exceptionally large feet. And my sister is extremely choosy.
Three long whiny hours. Walking around hunting for more and more footwear stores. Exhausting all the shop assistants. Feeling thrice the frustration we would if we were doing this alone. If it’s not the colour, it’s the comfort. And when both are fine, you never, ever, ever find it in your size, goddammit. I swear, if I hear the phrase “Sorry madam, we don’t manufacture in this size” one more time, I’ll say “I protest!”, and hurl a shoe. Or maybe I won’t…. coz shoes my size are rare as a Rafflesia (ooh, new simile which is even an alliteration!). When the last of us found a pair for which we screamed out “Oh, it fits! It fits!”, we were ten times happier than the Prince when he found Cinderella’s foot fit the glass slipper and yelled out the same words.
Oh, bloody hell, if Cinderella had as tiny and beautiful feet as the stories say, the only way she’d be able to get nice shoes was if she had a Fairy Godmother.
Talking of which, I wish I had a fairy godmother who’d give me shoes that fit.
And…. I still seem to like dogs better than cats. Surprising, given that I’ve been bitten by one, been chased by a family of six dogs, had one run off with my shoes, almost been attacked by one while attempting to photograph it… and had one stink my room up when it ran in to take shelter from the firecracker-rich Diwali atmosphere outside…. who knows, maybe I’ll be more popular than Cinderella sometime later.
You know some things are scheduled to come to an end. The only questions that plague you are How and When.
Life is full of highs and lows, and the beginning to the end is felt with a lot of trepidation and worst-case scenario analysis. And occasionally, relief.
When the end reaches its logical end, I’ll drop all pretence of straight-facedness and calm demeanor and cartwheel around the living room. Till then, it’s life as usual.
And you can go read this post on my favorite advertisements. This post you are reading is one of those things I write because I want to write. But the one on my favorite ads is one of those things I write because I want to share it with others You now know which one will make for better reading. Waste no time… click here.