The NITK Numbskulls Page

Acht-tung, baby

Posted in Blogging, too long to twitter by wanderlust on May 13, 2013

This blog turned eight three days ago. I didn’t feel like updating it then because I was in pain. Thanks for asking, I’m better now.

So am I excited as usual? Not really, not this time ’round. There’s not been much going on on this blog. It hasn’t been a highlight of my life this year.

This blog’s getting older; it’s just a few months older than Google Reader. They are putting down Reader on July 1. What of this blog, I wonder. Especially since most people who read this blog seem to follow it on Reader. I suppose everyone’s shifted to an alternative, or like me, given up reading stuff on RSS. Yeah, shocking isn’t it, I don’t follow blogs anymore unless I’m following the author(s) on some other social network and receive updates whenever they update their blog. It hasn’t made a difference to my life, it seems like.

This makes me realize people didn’t really need to read me here. Of course I knew all along, but at some corner of my mind wondered if people eagerly awaited my next post. But I guess getting to read my blog is probably like the free soda refill at a deli. You have enough to read, you don’t really need more, but what the heck.

It saddens me somewhat that writing and reading aren’t anymore a highlight of my life. I have newer hobbies. Reading and writing were hobbies that didn’t require much of time or money, and now I have more of both than I ever did. Which means I can afford to get fancy-shmancy yarn to knit with, I can spend hours watching and performing improv, I can get back to machine learning basics like never before, and I can actually go watch many concerts live.

And I feel less powerless than before, which means it doesn’t feel like writing is my only way to change the world. I’m also less idealistic than I was, so I don’t even try to change the world with my writing. I feel my views are less unique in this world where everyone voices their opinions on social media and it feels less and less like I have anything unique to give.

I write less as a result.

So you don’t get to hear about the Museum of Math or the Dengue Fever concert I so thoroughly enjoyed, or how gorgeous I found Cornell’s campus to be, or my experiments with hair chalk, or about the anatomy of a heartbreak, or New York during Christmas, or a neat collection of knitting patterns I have finished thus far. Or even about Eileen’s cheesecake cupcakes.

But that’s okay.

Someday soon I’ll find something that moves me so much that I’ll have to write about it. Someday soon my fulltime job will be one which agrees with my writing-mood schedule. Someday soon my threshold for ‘stuff good enough to blog about’ will be low enough to include all the things I do regularly. Someday soon I’ll not be so shy about writing fiction. Someday soon I’ll flesh out all my sketch ideas into concrete seven-minute-long sketches, get them read out and reviewed, and put them out here so that someone finds them and films them.

Or maybe I’ll move to a different blog, unconstrain myself from what I’ve made this page out to be and write more trite stuff. I don’t know.

For now, I’m rather proud of this bonny eight-year-old who sometimes throws tantrums at me, and who I cheerfully nurtured as an infant but now feel guilty for neglecting, even edging on forgetting its eighth birthday, but who manages fine being a latchkey kid. No doubt it’ll make me prouder than before. Someday soon.

2012

Posted in too long to twitter, too short to blog by wanderlust on December 29, 2012

New job, new city, new hobbies. New roommates, new apartments, new neighbourhoods. Some old ties. Lots of smiles. Crazy experiences. Lots of new people. Lots of people from the past as well. Lots of worries. Lots of things that didn’t quite go through. Quite a few things that fell apart.

My gap year where I discovered myself after college. Where I collected my bearings. Learnt to laugh, to feel, to trust and believe.

It’s been a good year.

How wouldyu like your sub?

Posted in Controversies, Friends, Muse, Strawberry Fields Forever, too long to twitter by Tuna Fish on September 7, 2011

Some cold afternoon, existential questions like “Nand ell idli?” pops into your mind and you look around for the nearest Tim Horton’s cafe around. Your friend says “You are too hungry and the day is too long for just a tall cup of hot chocolate”. You accept your fate and get dragged along to the nearest Subway Joint. “Half a sub should do”.

“They also serve those who stand and wait”.

Half an hour later, the woman on the counter goes, “Hi there! How are you today?”

“Good! How are you?”

“I’m  good too!” “How wouldyu like your sub?”

Me: “I’ll have a 6 inch veggie delight please”

CWoman: “The veggie patties are not done yet. Is it okay if I don’t put one of those?”

Me: “Whatever! no problem”

Friend goes “You guys have such few options. No tuna for you!”

Me “Gah! I hate the smell”

CWoman: “The bread?”

Me: “Italian please”

CWoman: “ohh! sorry we don’t have those! would you like something else?”

Me: “Oh! thats okay! Gimme some wheat bread!”

CWoman: “And the veggies?”

Me “Some Jalapenoes, Onions, Banana Peppers, Tomatoes, and some green pepper”

Friend: “Ewww, Banana Peppers? Take Olives instead”

Me ” Ok, take it out and throw some olives in there! Like I know how the rest taste together anyway!”

CWoman “Let me get your dressing and you are good to go!”

Me “I have no idea, what should I take?”

Friend “I have no idea, but surely lots of mayo!”

Me “mmm, lots of mayo, and honey mustard? and I don’t know, hot sauce”

CWoman raises her eyebrow, “ok!” “Here you go! and that would be 4 99″ “Would you like a drink?”

Me: “No thank you!” “Have a nice day!”

CWoman: “You too!”

And before I start, something else turns up and I leave. When I come back, half of it is gone, I have no interest in it anymore.

Hmph! How long do I need to wait to feel full?

 

 

CS-boom-de-ah-dah OR I Love Computer Science.

Posted in Attempts at Humour, geek, too long to twitter, too short to blog, UCI, verse, Writing by wanderlust on May 28, 2011

So I chanced up on this Youtube vid of Discovery Channel’s ‘The World is Awesome’.  XKCD had its own lyrics to it. Someone (actually many someones) made videos of it. Given that the original is a camping song called I love the mountains or Boom-de-ah-da, it’s the sort of song to which you MUST add your own lyrics and sing it either while going on a long bus trip or around the campfire. Somewhat like Suraaaaaangani  - no one remembers the original lyrics, so everyone makes up stuff, chorusing only on the ‘maalu maalu maalu‘ bits.

And so I came up with ComputerSciencey words to the original tune. Given that this is all off the top of my head, I’ve not animated it or cartoon’d it (though I have vivid images in my head of what could be done), though I’d be delighted if someone did that and raised me to XKCD-level kvlt-ness.

Here goes. Additions, corrections, animations are all welcome.

I love regression
I love the Bayesian Nets
I love SVMs
I love the convex sets
I love the whole world
And all the ways to learn
Boom-de-yada Boom-de-yada
Boom-de-yada Boom-de-yada

I love XML
I love DBMS
I love big data
I love Open Access
I love the whole world
And all the data tombs
Boom-de-yada Boom-de-yada
Boom-de-yada Boom-de-yada

I love all fractals
I like combinatorics
I love upperbounds
I love a sort that’s quick
I love the whole world
So much complexity
Boom-de-yada Boom-de-yada
Boom-de-yada Boom-de-yada

I love wired networks
And data on the cloud
I love peer-to-peer
And speeds in gigabaud
I love the whole world
So much connectedness
Boom-de-yada Boom-de-yada
Boom-de-yada Boom-de-yada

I’m actually seeing in my head the faces of profs and grad students and labs which could be singing this, possibly in an ad for the Compsci department of some university.

There, my nerd-cred and nerd-karma quotas for life are fulfilled.

Where were you when India won the World Cup?

Posted in Games, too long to twitter by wanderlust on April 2, 2011

I woke up from a seeming stupor at 7:45 am, and the last thing I remembered was closing my eyes during the 9th over of the SL innings for ‘two minutes’. Webcric’s feed was intermittent and I ended up following the match on cricinfo, and somehow wasn’t ‘in the worldcup final mood’, and thought I’d just go running. But then when I’d changed, I thought I’d just check the score before I left…. it was the 40th over by then, and things were looking pretty exciting, and the feed came back on.

I’m still here in my running clothes, hungry as ever because I haven’t yet had breakfast, feeling glad for not missing such a nailbiting few overs.

AND OUR WIN.

I am the sort of person who starts tensing up when I see the number of runs to win greater than or equal to the number of balls to hit it off. And the batsmen weren’t doing much to improve that. I prayed for a four and a six to just ease my tension. And then two magical overs. 11 runs off each of them.

And then we needed four runs to win. Dhoni finished it off with an old-style six. And history was made.

I’d all but quit watching cricket after the final of 2003… I just lost interest. The hype around the last two matches have brought it back on. Now I think I’ll restart OD-ing on cricket. Yes, Mr. Aakar Patel I’m a fickle Indian fan, and I didn’t just ‘clap clap clap’ when India won.

I missed the sound of firecrackers and wild screams and cheering while watching the match and am quite pissed that this had to happen when I’m not in India.

Was sort of glad, though, for the folks I follow on Twitter. You folks made my World Cup, even though I whined to high heavens about my timeline getting messed up every single time there was a match on.

Like Mohan said, “When averaged over the world population, this must be among the most euphoric moments in mankind’s history”.

And, just because I want to… WE WON WE WON WE WON WOOOHOOOO!!! WEEEEE ARE THE CHAAAAAMPIONS.

And Sachin finally got to kiss the World Cup. The world can end now in 2012 and India will go down happy.

 

Given the historicity of this moment, how did you bring it in? Who were you watching the match with? Were you watching the match? Did you hold your pee for five overs straight? What were you munching? Were you wearing some Bleed Blue merchandise? Did you have Facebook open? Were you livetweeting your every emotion? Tell me in the comments. I want to preserve this moment forever.

I ♥ Movies

Posted in movies, too long to twitter by wanderlust on February 20, 2011

I used to be a majorleague movie buff at one point of time. It almost seemed like no movie would release in Hindi, Kannada and Tamil, and to some extent, English, without my knowledge. Mind you, this was in the pre-Internet days, which meant I basically scoured MTV and Channel [V] and Sun TV and Udaya TV to insane extents. While also scouring the filmi news reported in Deccan Herald, Indian Express and, heh, ToI, apart from The Week, India Today and on occasion, The Hindu. I was too snobbish to read Filmfare and Stardust back then.

And then NITK happened, and I lost the TV habit, and there was no LAN or unlimited Internet my first two years to keep my movie habit going.

I used to think it was no big loss, because “the recent movies are all utter manure”. But that is totally not true… pop culture of an earlier era always seems godawesome because you forget about all the crap and only the awesome stuff remains burnt to memory. And I watched enough junk – Aarzoo, Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi, Zulmi, Zor, Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar, Hum Saath Saath Hain were just some of the many repressed memories of utterly idiotic fare I indulged in back then. Oh, and the next time anyone calls Aamir Khar Mr. Perfectionist, they deserve to be subjected to Mela and 1947-Earth back to back.

I watched a lot of movies in third and final year, but those were more of random picks than any actual craze for cinema. Including the first day first show watch of Om Shanti Om. And in college, watching movies was something you did because it was there on an overfull LAN, not because you are fascinated by the trailer or anything. Accessing everything on the Internet has its pitfalls – your allergy for advertisements means that you don’t see anything you don’t explicitly want to see – including new stuff. Unless someone or the other recommends it to you.

Naturally, I am stuck in a ’92-Early’00s pop culture loop. And don’t really try to get out.

I wasn’t too aware of all the stuff I’ve written so far until late this afternoon. I came across the trailer for Vishal Bharadwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf. Watch it yourself:

Don’t you feel the flesh creep a little? Especially at the ‘Darrrrlingggg’? The gentle, understated change from ‘Husband’ to ’7 Husbands’ piqued your curiosity, didn’t it? And John Abraham in drag… that makes you want to watch the movie just to know what the heck is up with that, doesn’t it?

After a really long time, I’m all fired up about a movie. About a Hindi movie…. I was suitably fired up about Shutter Island. So much that I think when I finally stream this movie, it’ll be something I actually make time for, not something I just look for on a boring weekend evening.

I am intrigued by the presence of Usha Uthup as well. She was nothing short of perfect as Madhavan’s snide mom in Manmadhan Ambu. And here, as a loyal housekeeper who won’t stop short of murder, I’m dying to watch her in it.

Most reviews seem to be dissing the movie. I don’t much care about it being macabre… that’s the point of such a flick – being a black comedy it’s supposed to present gruesome acts in a cute, sympathetic way that the juxtaposition shocks you. One review however got me down… it said the flick could have been so, so much more, and that Priyanka Chopra’s character is never explored much. *Sigh*

I guess this will turn out to be a colossal disappointment much like 90% of the movies I’ve waited for with bated breath. The most colossal disappointment I’ve had is Hey Ram. God the pre-release hype! Especially when it’s a bilingual, especially when the tags for the movie would be Gandhi, Independence, Partition, Kamal Haasan, Ilaiyaraja, Shah Rukh Khan, Kavignar Vaali, Hema Malini, Rani Mukherjee, Godse, Religious Riots, Kamal Haasan’s directorial debut, Kissing, and apart from all that, a very Iyengar-looking Bangalore girl (from MCC, no less) in the lead role hyped it extremely for me. The trailers, the music were all totally something. And then finally watching it…. god, what a damp squib. In the words of my aunt, “Tamizhum, Hindi-yum, Bengali-yum kalandhu onnume puriyala…. illa, onnu mattum purinjadu – Kamal thaan hero-nu“. [In the unholy mix that was the arbit usage of Hindi, Tamil and Bengali, all I could grasp was that Kamal was the hero].

But, you know what, I’d probably not care much if it did turn out to be a bad movie. I consider every movie an experience by itself. You don’t gain much from watching a bad movie, yes, but then, you don’t gain much by watching a good movie either. At max, watching movies opens up your imagination. Normally we’d all have super unconstrained imaginations, but given the barrage of movies, television and other media, we sort of begin thinking in a constrained way, and to keep it rich and vivid and active, we need to load up on as much information and as many narrative styles as we can manage.

Or maybe, I watch movies with the hope that something in them will be able to help me bring together all the little blips of inspired storytelling that flash to me at the randomest of times, into a coherent story. And each time I watch a bad movie, there’s already a framework for me to think in, and armchair filmmaking, whining about how this scene could have had ten times the impact if only this actor had done that and the other actor had done this, is a good enough starting point.

Growing up….

Posted in analysis, too long to twitter by wanderlust on November 29, 2010

There comes a time in your life when you realize you can’t blame others for all your ills in life. Like JK Rowling said, there’s an expiry date for blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction.

Not just your family, but also your circumstances. As a chronic procrastinator, I know this rather well. It’s never the ‘right time’ to do anything if you think hard enough. The root of procrastination is waiting for a mythical ‘right time’ in the future where all conditions will be perfect enough for you to carry out all your grand plans.

The truth is, there’s no such utopia. If you keep waiting and watching, you’ll just watch life pass you by, and reminisce about chances you should have taken, things you should have done… like someone said, the saddest line in life is ‘If only…’.

After a point, it doesn’t seem fair to even blame others for ruining your day. It doesn’t seem right to renege on your commitments to others because ‘life happened’. I don’t think everyone realizes it by themselves. For thick people like me, it takes someone else ruining my plans because they ‘had cousins over’ or ‘were going through a hard time’ due to which they can’t give me the results I need to base my work on.

And all of a sudden, you find you can’t maintain that air of professionalism when life is happening around you. Because ‘life’ goes from inconsequential events to things that have real-world implications. And you can’t always run to daddy and mommy who will make the big monsters go away and evvvv’rything will be alright again.

It’s hard, when you realize that you’re not exactly doing things right, but don’t have the right tools to do things the right way. It’s tempting to want to blame the whole world, blame your circumstances, blame your inexperience, blame your upbringing, blame everything there is other than you, when things go wrong and seem beyond your control. But as a close friend’s boss used to say, Excuses Aren’t Explanations. You realize you’re at a crossroad where you have the power to decide what you want to do. You can choose to stay where you are and whine, and you can afford to do that, you’re not necessarily answerable to anyone, people will understand, people will say ‘Oh, she’s just going through a rough patch’ or ‘Tch, circumstances… whattodo’. Or you can take the other path, where you put your responsibilities over your feelings, shoulder some extra burdens, put yourself through the grind. No one’s necessarily going to give you extra credit in the second option. You aren’t necessarily going to feel better by ignoring your feelings. If you take that path, it’s just because YOU feel it’s the right thing to do. You don’t do it for glory, you don’t do it for others. You do it just for your own satisfaction of a job well done.

And heck, no one’s going to even sympathize with you. They’ll at max call you a fool for biting off more than you can chew, when you had such an easy option in hand. There’s very little motivation for going down the second path.

But you realize after a certain point, that’s the thing to do. It disciplines you. It gives you and others a sense of predictability. But, more than anything, it enables you to take charge of your life when ‘life’ hits. You learn to compartmentalize. You learn to deal with trouble while maintaining the even tenor of your life. Because, too much of a derailment and you can just get stuck and find it hard as hell to get unstuck.

It’s the same sort of thing where you don’t pocket that five-hundred rupee note in the park because no one’s looking. Except that you don’t even have a concrete set of values to fall back on and feel good about your deed. I’m sorry, but professionalism doesn’t seem all that highly rated as honesty. Plus, what sort of a retard goes back to work the day his dog has a cold? So uncaring and cold!

And uh, it doesn’t end there. While you’ll be doing your duty and appearing professional, it doesn’t really entitle you to expect the same of others. You also are not supposed to sit around whining when others are unprofessional. Because if you sit around whining, you are being unprofessional.

Heck, it doesn’t make sense for you to base your happiness solely on how others treat you, or what they say or do to you. That’s just being immature, that’s just being a burden on others who have enough on their plates without having to treat you with kid-gloves too. In the thousand-and-one self-pity sessions while at NITK, I realized the truth of “Cheat me once, shame on you. Cheat me twice, shame on me”. You can’t run away from life because it’s unfair. This whole leftist utopian vision of life is not a recipe for happiness; quite the contrary. You have to learn how to make your peace with the rest of the world, because it’s just going to continue spinning even if you’re going to be standing still. There will always be people who aren’t as honest as you, aren’t as well-informed as you, people who will judge you, people who will make your life hell. You can’t give up on life just because of them. Because there are also those who will accept you, who will make you better-informed, who are much more honest than you can imagine, who will bring happiness into your life… and it’s a package deal.

Think I simplified it to be black-and-white here. It’s never going to be perfect, like in theory above. Practically speaking, you’re never going to be able to be 100% professional in all your dealings. You try your level best to reach that level, and you’re also nice to others who don’t quite reach as high as you do, because, hell, life happens, and it’s quite possible one fine day life’ll happen to you so bad that you’ll be as unprofessional as the other, and would like nothing more than a little bit of understanding.

I realize I’m not making too much sense here, but well, atleast I’ve stopped blaming that on the time of the night I’m writing this post in :) I’m all grown up now!

Oh, and kindly, kindly do not read too much into every word I say here. If I’m blogging about something, it means it’s nothing to worry about.

Minestrone Soup again

Posted in analysis, Blogging, Life at NITK, too long to twitter by wanderlust on November 14, 2010

Food-related title. The past couple of months have been all about food. I delight in eating, and have developed a most unhealthy habit of random cravings at unearthly hours of the day and night. I’m at some level thankful for these, because otherwise cooking for one would be torture.

The blogging itch has gone out of me. Over the summer it was because there was too much to do, and I had a life… now however it is because I don’t do much and I don’t have much of a life.

Strangely, that’s not something I’m worried about. I’m talking about the not having much of a life. [Not, mind you, the not-blogging. I am worried sick about that and wonder if the day will come when I can't string two words together]. Maybe it’s because I’m slogging at stuff I’ve wanted to work on for so-long-I-don’t-remember-how-long. Or because the folks I generally hang around with are also folks with no lives, and no one makes anyone else feel dissatisfied with their awesome quality of life where they get sloshed every Friday, fight lions on Saturday and code up a new OS on Sunday.

And oh yeah, there have been the usual ponderings on the nature of Happiness and suchlike things, but I shall not bore you, the impatient-reader-who-has-a-dozen-more-blogs-to-read with the dirty details.

I’m however wondering if my not-blogging is a cause for concern. I (used to) blog because I had/have an urge to share a point of view with the world. Microblogging, with its promise of instant reactions, is slowly eating that up . Or is it? Maybe the reasons lie elsewhere.

To start with, most if not all of the personal blogs I follow are more or less dormant. Their owners update them once in a while, but even that most times is of no consequence. I notice this very acutely in Google Reader. Previously, most of the stuff shared would be someone’s photographs, someone’s thoughts, someone’s experience, someone’s point of view…. but now the blogposts shared are more and more mainstream, the top-of-the-heap. No unknown-corner-of-the-Internet bloggers anymore. The shared stuff is something off HuffPo, or Terry Tao’s blog, or Ramgopal Verma’s dissyard of yet another poor reviewer. Or more likely a news article or a column. The only place where it gets atleast a level more personal is when the columnist is someone you know, or someone who the world hasn’t heard much of.

Maybe there is a good rational explanation for this phenomenon. First, I’ve stopped adding new blogs to follow for the past year and a half. And before that, my only means of adding was through the Google Reader recommendations, which I’ve now detoxed from… and at that point, I had a heavy leaning towards adding folks who wrote stuff I thought I needed to learn. And for some weird reasons (like getting a life, probably) the folks I used to follow don’t blog anymore.

There were quite a few frequent bloggers in my circle a while ago, when we were all in college. Now however, everyone seems to have found a line of work that’s satisfying enough, or bosses who won’t take kindly to being blogged about. And/Or they have no time to wonder about why India is going to the dogs, and they can’t stay up late reviewing that awesome book they just read… they have meetings in the morning. Or some such reason.

And… I think another reason for this death of personal blogging is the whole fear of putting more of yourself out there than is wise to. It’s perfectly fine if someone who will never meet you or wield any influence on you reads your blog, but if it’s your neighbour or roommate or coworker, hell no way! I wonder what can possibly be done to address this issue… I don’t want to choose who I don’t  mind reading a certain post, but I want to choose who I don’t want reading something I wrote. This is something that I’ve been wondering about since I started this blog, and this doesn’t seem to have any sort of a solution.

Then there’s the issue of feed aggregators being so outdated in design that they discourage people from directly providing feedback to bloggers. How do you know how many people are actually reading you? How do you know what people think? Where’s the carrot? A few years back, the only way to read something was to go to the page. And it was more likely you left a comment then than now when you are skimming through a hazaar posts on your lunch hour to be bothered to go to the page’s link and leave a comment.

End result, it’s been ages since I read something quirky, personal and witty. Ages since I said “OMG, that’s exactly how I feel!”. Or felt like adding someone to the blogroll.

Anyway.

NaNoWriMo is happening. For the uninitiated, it is National Novel Writing Month, where you’re expected to crank out 50k words in thirty days. It’s an initiative to help budding writers put their procrastination aside. They even have these weekly meetups in coffee shops and all where they sit together to pep each other up and get a start on their magnum opus. Something I ideally should have taken part in. I had a few ideas for a novel which I really think I should crank out before the feeling passes, but I guess it’ll just end up one of those ideas that will seem extremely juvenile a year from now which I will definitely not take the trouble of writing. Tch.

* * *

All that selfish whining apart, these NITK alumni are a real inspiration. The Sparsh Foundation is a really great, noble initiative. It enables NITK alumni and others to donate towards the education of NITKians who need it. It’s really wonderful to see people around you, people you know, try making a difference to the world around them. It tells you that the world is not one filthy place you have to be streetsmart to navigate around, and care only about getting your lot together. It tells you that you too can – and should – stop for a moment and give someone a leg-up when they need it. Not because it makes you feel good and needed and all that. Because it’s the right thing to do. Srinivasan, Pranay, Jaggi, Radhesh, more power to you folks.

And the other is a friend of mine whose enthu for making things go from B-Idea to B-Plan to B-Blueprint to B-Startup to B-Product is boundless. Nitin’s always been into Bschool-type things for as long as I’ve known him that I wonder if he was fed Forex instead of Farex. [Yes, I'm aware there are differences between finance and other B-school things, but I'll do that the day the rest of you stop expecting me to fix your PC]. And he’s often channelled his desire to change things around him into a concrete plan that eventually does make a difference.

And his latest initiative has been the LGBT India Foundation. Read all about it here, and do give him your support, on Facebook or otherwise. It’s not only a brilliant idea which addresses a need our society couldn’t much put its finger on, it’s also a very brave move, one that might possibly change the mainstream perception of LGBT rights. For too long, the set of people who work in this domain has been limited to the Humanitiesy Artsy types, who make it a rhetoricky and grassrootsy issue, and have gone about the whole deal in a very ham-handed way, aiming more for noise and fireworks than building a lasting foundation of values, and who don’t do enough for the middleClassy types who value discreetness and status quo and family more than their freedom to ‘defy social norms’, wear bright pink ribbons in their hair and kiss in public.

Ms Feather-light

Posted in Muse, Rants, this and that, too long to twitter by Tuna Fish on November 13, 2010

There is this type of women or girls I keep running into from time to time. I call them Ms. Feather-light. This species  is almost always camouflaged as the strong-confident-career types who can take the world with the tip of their swords. To the rest of the world. Some of them are pretty impressive looking, which is a very easy way to spot them.

I have this innate ability to get tangled with all the Ms.Feather-lights around. I do not give them attention and sing their glory. I do not like to let them decide when or what or how I’m spoken to, if according to their eyes I’m even good enough. Basically, I don’t give a damn! This apparently riles them.

These insecure females, need someone to blow them up and keep them floating. Someone to sing their tunes and blindly support everytime they do or say something ridiculous, just so they don’t realize how empty they are. Now I cannot decide if these are parasitic or the loony followers are, who cannot see these women for what they are.

My problem is this. All Ms. Feather-lights take it upon themselves or so I would like to think, that it is their responsibility to bring  me to my knees and fall at their feet. They try every way, influencing my friends on how much head-weight I have, or even stick their leg out and make me trip and fall in academics or activities which I care about. Why do they want to pick on me everytime? And more importantly why do I get tangled with them time and again?

HELP!

Quick review of Enthiran

Posted in movies, Review, too long to twitter, too short to blog by wanderlust on October 24, 2010

I just got done with Enthiran. Not on the big screen, sadly, but the awesomeness still shines through.

It is simply Perfect. Rather well-made product.

Ash is not irritating , she seems so totally back to her ’90s aura of wonderfulness, the science is not (atleast on the surface and a little deeper) screwed up, the music is actually good when you fit it with the rest of the movie, there is no chummangaati sentiment-putting, the gimmickry totally fits in with the plot, Danny Dengzongpa is scary, the references to past Rajini films and punch dialogues is just right. Then there’s also the total #win Asimov reference, and robots-building-more-new-robots dystopia.

And Rajini is Rajini.

It does have its downsides…. Karunas and Santhanam are wasted – that subplot is one of the worst I’ve seen, while it could have been used for such a lot more. The middle bits are a tad draggy. There’s too much carnage, though that fits in with the scale of the plot. And, well, the whole scientist-working-alone thing should totally not be allowed.

Plus, Rajini’s age is totally totally justified in the movie – he did a PhD and a postdoc, so he’s allowed to be Ancient :) most people on the verge of graduation are.

But you know what I liked best? They got the universities right – Rajinikanth is supposed to be a PhD from CMU’s Robotics department, and postdoc at Stanford. Yes, not your standard ‘Harward University’ or ‘University of California’. Such attention to detail…. all that was remaining was to add an ‘Advisor: Dr. Raj Reddy’, and ‘Member: STAIR Project’ at the end :)

You know what I would have liked better? To have Chitti do robot soccer :)

Halfway ’round the world

Posted in too long to twitter, travel by wanderlust on September 21, 2010

Yeah, so I’m back at school. For atleast a year more. Lots of things to look forward to, lots to do, and all that.

I had a good flight back, mainly because I made sure to specify my meal preferences and stay awake during mealtimes so that I’m not overlooked when they come by serving the Ind-Veg maincourse. Ideally, a good flight should pass without incident, but turns out you can have an even better flight when things happen, as long as they are not happening to you :)

Waiting Room
So at Immigration in Bangalore, I was stuck in the slowest possible queue there was. I was made repeatedly aware of this fact by the gentleman behind me, who had a flight in twenty minutes, and still had to clear Immigration and Security. Expectedly, he was shifty and whiny. It turned out that the reason for the slowness was this lady who was just not being cleared by the guy at the counter. Ten minutes later, I was at the counter, and the gentleman behind me had long gone as he shifted to another queue.
I saw the lady later and asked her just why had they held her up for so long. She said she was a diabetologist. And the guy at the counter was a diabetic. And kept shoving his prescriptions into her face, asking if she could recommend some tests, and if the medicines he was taking now were fine.

Really now, are people that unprofessional? Bah!

Innanga… anyaayama irukku…
I had to transit at Singapore. Turned out, all the security officers there were bantering away in Tamil. Including this ethnic Chinese woman. No hint of a Chinese accent, no nothing. I was so wide-eyed with wonder, I said “Innanga, anyaayama irukku, Tamizhnaat-lendhu 40 mile thaLLi vaLandha enna vida Tamizhnaatukku sammandhame illandha neenga arumeya Tamizh pesareenga”. [Translated: It's so unfair, you who has no connection with Tamil Nadu speaks better Tamil than me who has been raised 40 miles from TN]. And then added that it’ll be impossible to tell her apart in Chennai. To which this other security officer said ‘Even by her looks?’. To which I replied there should be some or the other opening for a funny motormouth in a Chennai radio station.

On an aside, it was absolutely surprising to see security officers smiling and talking and… laughing!

A couple of eyesores
So right from Singapore till Los Angeles, there was this canoodling couple in the seats behind mine. I wondered why they had two seats, when they were in fact occupying only one. Everywhere. Right from transit at Singapore and Tokyo to Baggage Claim at Los Angeles. Only one seat.
I wouldn’t have noticed ordinarily, but keeping myself from being dehydrated meant a lot of fluids consumed which meant a lot of trips up and down the aisle. And all the sleeping and movie-watching meant my hair’d get messed up and I needed to tie it back each time else I’d get a headache.
You know what pissed me off about the whole thing? I seemed to be running a comb through my hair atleast once every three hours, and not once, not once did I see that lady’s hairdo messed up.

ウォシュレット,
This Wiki article is NOT kidding. NOT.

God Tumhe Shanti De
This Catholic priest was seated next to me for the long leg of my trip. I’m very very very surprised I never brought up religion. And even more surprised that he didn’t, either. Even while mentioning terrorism during the course of the long conversations we had when I was not fast asleep or watching a movie.
Of course, in the last couple of hours he did mention that he was saddened that while the US calls itself a Christian country(?!), its citizens want to take religion out of everywhere, and that it is tragic that you can’t mention Jesus even if it’s a Catholic school you’re teaching in. I uncharacteristically let these observation pass, uncountered.

Hello Kitty World
The whole of Japan (or, rather, Narita Airport) seems to be some weird sort of Hello Kitty kinda world. Everything is ‘cute’, and I mean this in a weirded out sense. It’s like everything is trying to be something else, something cuter, something more likeable. I don’t know what makes me say this, maybe the weird hair colours, or the colours of every packaged product, or the Japanese script, or an overdose of articles like the ones here. Guess it’s the last one.

Anyway. All that action (and dragging along my luggage) has me tired. Should have some calm before the storm, let me hit the pillow.

Thirty-Eight Hours

Posted in this and that, too long to twitter, travel by wanderlust on June 20, 2010

My phone ringing when it was going through security check. Getting unnerved by the stony-faced security officer. Chatting up an old Indian couple who couldn’t for the hell of them figure out how to use the payphones.

Looking at the long line of infants and young children boarding the flight and praying hard that it doesn’t turn out just like a good friend of mine had predicted and I spend nineteen hours without sleep just due to crying children.

Looking to turn off my mobile during takeoff and finding it missing.

Unsuccessfully trying to find out the name of a Sri Lankan co-passenger who worked in LA and was a citizen of Singapore. Man, after the first non-attempt (“I’m Priya… and you?” “Pleased to meet you, ma’am”), it became like a game.

Unsuccessfully trying to engage the Mormon Japanese teacher from Utah in a conversation about the similarities between Japanese and Hindi/Kannada grammars, and when that failed, about Miyazaki movies as a tool for teaching Japanese.

Forgetting to disembark at Tokyo-Narita because I was in a state of half-sleep. Going to the wrong gate. Saved by yet another Indian couple.

Falling asleep at meal-times on the flight. Due to which there’d be no vegetarian meal when I did wake up hungry. And dear god, grilled cucumbers do not make a MEAL!! Nor do inadequately spiced and seasoned instant noodles.

Watching Exam, and missing out an important part of the climax because the girl next to me was airsick and shaking and shivering. If you’ve watched it, please please explain the ending to me. Please.

Crying children at airports. One of them was beating her fists on the floor. I didn’t know kids did that in real life.

Tramping around Singapore with my entire handbaggage, inclusive of laptop. I didn’t realize how much my shoulders were taking it until I came home and slept.

Someone paying my bus fare for me just because I’m a tourist who spoke Tamil.

Parents tensing up coz I was in a foreign country without a phone in the middle of the night and hadn’t called yet. They were about to message my friends there on LinkedIn.

Finding out that I’ve lost the ability to speak in keywords. Y’know, like “No Meat. No Seafood. What’s there?” or “Five dollar no. Costly. Only two dollar”. It’s a really important ability to have in places where English is not very common. Especially if you’re otherwise inclined to long flowery language that confuses people.

Hiding your pack of gum in your inner pockets just coz you’ve grown up hearing that Singapore is a clean, clean country where they’ll jail you for chewing gum. And then walking through Little India to see this guy wash his hands and gargle and rinse and spit onto the street! Shaking your head with dismay because you found that the river there is brown.

Being lectured by a cabbie about how Singapore is better than India. And about how I should have bought tons of keychains in Chinatown for S$5 and distributed it to all and sundry back home so that they are all happy I get them something. Daemn… didn’t think of that.

Finding a dozen ripoffs of Komala Vilas restaurant. All on the same street. Just like you have Dan Brown, Dale Brown, Dane Browne, you have Komala’s, Komala Vishesh, Komalavalli’s…

Apparently mobiles are called Hand Phones in Singapore. Just so that we don’t confuse them with headphones or earphones.

Random guy at a mall starts off some weird chant, and all other young people there join in to yell, dance, and make weird gestures, and then get back to doing whatever they were doing, like nothing had happened.

Wandering into an art gallery of some sort, where the major exhibits were about Depression. Freaking out, and asking the janitor what the hell this place was. (I only got some vague reply in a language I didn’t understand).

Wondering if the fat dude in the oversized clothes was Yogi B (the Malay-Tamil rapper), and lamely asking “Er…. you’re Malaysian?” (He was Sri Lankan).

Wandering into the fire engine museum, where the curator kept going on about fire drills and how hard it was to put fires out forty years ago, when I kept murmuring I wanted to leave.

Hearing “Mind The Gap!” in four languages, including Tamil. Staring with disbelief at “State Bank of India, Little India Branch”.

Meeting longlost friends and namesakes. Staying up all night talking. Hearing “You’ve not changed at all!”, and saying “Yeah, I’m still in your room gossiping and not letting you fall asleep”.

Bumping into a former employer.

Coming home.

Happy Today!

Posted in analysis, geek, Photography, Strawberry Fields Forever, this and that, too long to twitter by Tuna Fish on December 26, 2009

For one thing I’ve never understood the hullabaloo behind the New Year celebrations. What if they had decided to shift the origin of the earth’s orbit by a few extra rotations. And after all a circle has no start or a end.

But then I suppose it is a good time to contemplate the year gone, just like that, for no reason at all.

About decisions, and why they could have been better. About meeting people and not meeting some others. About disappointments, some which turned out for the good, others not. On why sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. About all the fun i’ve had, momentary or otherwise. About how, why its hard to set right a lot of friendlyness that goes stale. Reading, writing, researching, movies, music and more …

It is sort easy to slip into contemplation when I have an empty room for myself, on a chilly evening, watching the sun set over the Hiranandani Buildings, and into Powai lake, from my window, only wishing I had a steaming cup of coffee. Blissful serenity.

To a more eventful new year!

Happy times to you all!

Tagged with:

Happy Holidays

Posted in Attempts at Humour, Priya's Travails, too long to twitter, too short to blog, travel by wanderlust on December 25, 2009

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 :)

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Correlation… causation? Coincidence!

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.

Blasted beginnings and botched-up bye-byes

Posted in this and that, too long to twitter, too short to blog by wanderlust on August 11, 2009

Just for the alliteration. Not enough material for a nice long post about it that won’t be password protected and will be able to attract a lot of comments.

Just couldn’t pass the title up.

Bond of seven births etc

Posted in Attempts at Humour, movies, Music, too long to twitter, trivia by wanderlust on July 10, 2009

Yusuf Khan’s screen name was Dilip Kumar. He married Saira Bano.

AR Rehman’s name used to be Dilip Kumar. He too married a Saira Bano.

Maybe we really were on to something when we played FLAMES in middle school.

A-argh.

Posted in Bangalore, movies, too long to twitter by wanderlust on July 2, 2009

Bangalore is Silicon Valley, eh?

As well as being the Capital of Karnataka?

If that is the case, why the hell isn’t there an IMDB entry for Upendra? Bloody hell, even some Miscellaneous Crew Member from Dilwale of the same name gets a mention. Why not our Uppi?

It gets worse.

There is no Wiki entry for our Pathbreaking movie A. What’s worse, no IMDB Entry either. Well, there is an entry for A, but it’s some sad Japanese flick.

All that Ka.Ra.Ve does is write ‘Kannada is in our blood’ etc all over Gandhinagar. Why can’t they do the basic needful for Kannada on the Net? Is there no Uppi fan who knows Wiki and IMDB can be edited?

What a sadness.

[I'm no fan of Upendra, not watched more than a couple of his movies, and I found A too... weird. But hell, IMDB entry atleast!]

Update: Here it is, the Wiki page for A. Add content, do.

Just for Laughs

Posted in Attempts at Humour, Controversies, too long to twitter by Tuna Fish on May 23, 2009

(Now, If you are religious or are a great fan of Bombay’s famed Mahalakshmi temple, I dont mean to offend you… Just laugh. If you don’t find it too cliched already for your taste, that is. )

Friend: Kya yaar, I wanted to go to the wall at the back. You know, if you wish for something and press a coin against it and it sticks, the wish will come true. Sadly, that area is closed.

Me: May be God shrugged and said, ” Recession. Too many asking for favours. Its affected me too, you know?”

The Girl Who Knew Too Much

Posted in Priya's Travails, too long to twitter, too short to blog by wanderlust on May 14, 2009

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.

Never mind.

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