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.
I’m wondering if anyone still reads this page. It feels like ages since I updated here, and it shows. I’ve a lot more bottled-up emotions, my smile has never been more fake, and even my teenagy angst has given way to passivity. I’m also a lot less articulate these days, and that shows in the numerous reports and other official bits of writing I’m supposed to delivery weekly thrice.
I’m still finding a way out of the inarticulateness and asocial life I lead at the moment, a relic of an unprecedented amount of work I’ve been assigned, and things that have happened to me recently possess a strong streak of speculation, something which has no place on this blog, so bear with my obtuse references.
I find I cannot, just cannot, tolerate negative people and pessimism. My entire being seems to dwell and thrive on optimism that all the damned negativity some people exude feels like Kryptonite, weakening me slowly, slowly, until I’m steeped neck-deep in despair and ready to willingly drown myself to put myself out of my misery. Here’s a general word of advice: Don’t say anything if you don’t have anything good to say. Unless of course, it’s juicy gossip.
I’ve taken courses this quarter that exude Awesome with every atom of their being. One of them had mining Facebook data [college networks] as part of a homework. Initially, I too was wide-eyed, just like you reading this are. Sadly, the data is suitably anonymized, and it’s in the form of boring old matrices. And it’s huge as hell… megabytes of numbers alone. Trends are spotted more easily with large samples. Turns out, you can try pretty cool stuff with those megabytes of numbers. Like checking out if college networks share common features, so that if you learn something about one network, you can apply it in other networks you study. Or seeing how to recommend friends to someone who’s just joined.
Among my unpublished drafts is an open letter to Juhi Chawla. No, it’s not about the Phir Mile Sur thing. During one of those hectic weeks, I was shopping for some ready-to-eat food. I was rather sick of the cheese pizzas, so when this carton of ready-to-eat Ashoka Chinese Fried Rice Indian Style with a grinning Juhi on it caught my eye, (and the Buy One Get One Free offer wasn’t too far behind), I grabbed it. After all, Ms. Chawla has lived in the US for a while, right? So she too would have shopped like me at one point or another, and if she was endorsing something, it had to be pretty good, right?Wrong. It sucked. I couldn’t have more than a mouthful. It took dollops and dollops of tomato ketchup to kill the taste of the fried spring onions rice. And heck, this carnage is just spring onions and rice. No beans, no carrots, no chillies, no nothing. I wonder what the heck was Juhi Chawla thinking when she endorsed this inedible pile of dogfood. Someone have her email ID?
And the Phir Mile Sur thing. I share the outrage of many others who’ve written about this. However, I feel it’s just by Zoom, not by the Government of India, so it doesn’t merit the attention it’s getting. I mean, what else do you expect of a channel dedicated to Bollywood and Page 3 types? Ignore it, folks. Not worth raising your BP for.
One of the bloggers I rather like got plagiarized. You can read the whole story here. Seems rather routine, except that her short story got made into a short film this time. Though, I think the approach she took was a tad impractical. Hell, you’re a great writer, granted, but there’s nothing Vasudeva-Srikrishna-Eeshwara-EndaDheivame-OhMyHoly-OMFG about plagiarism. It happens. It’s outrageous, but it happens. And don’t tell me you don’t like the extra attention and publicity that comes with your story being used in some other media. So, instead of crying blue murder, embrace it. Don’t say “You thirdrate plagiarist, you copied. I’ll tell to miss”. Instead, acknowledge that the other person might have made a mistake, and say now that we both agree a mistake has been made, let’s work something out. No one likes to be told by a complete stranger that they are in the wrong, not to mention scores of random netizens cursing them left, right and center.
That said, I found I liked the blog entry better than the Youtube video. There were rather talented folks in the video, granted. But why did they have to be speaking in Ingleesh for godsake? I guess the dialogues were written in English, translated from Tamil in the writer’s head, because the audience of the blog is mainly English-speaking. The filmmaker was so goddamn lazy that he had to retain every damn dialogue the way it was written? It reads well to me because I translate it back to Tamil in my head, just like I do with every RK Narayan novel I read… the words, sentence construction and the entire ambience is TamBrahm, a world I can summon in my head at the snap of a finger. Having to do the same when I’m hearing someone speak is nothing short of painful.
Coming back to food, I found Dairy Milk being sold at an Indian store for $4.99. While that’s laughable by itself, you also need to take into account that you can get larger bars of Hershey’s for one-fifth the cost. And it doesn’t end there…. you get Kurkure (Yes, Juhi Chawla again) for $2.49.
Being bereft of trustworthy outlets for your internal confusions for even a short while, compounds the problem, I find. It’s quite a feat to separate your best-case worst-case analyses from reality after a while. Close friends, I assert, are important as hell.
Apparently ‘Hell’ is an evil, evil swearword in this country. I found that out the hard way, after using it half-a-dozen times in the presence of my BibleBelt-born nephew. And, apparently, so is ‘Damn’. I can’t fathom that at all. After all, I was pretty used to ‘Bleddy Bhaskar/Bleddy Basket‘ probably since I started school, and I hail from the same state as this bleddy basket-case.
In other news, I’m more or less abstaining from Google Reader. When I find time, I hope to be able to automate linking pages in Wikipedia, and possibly use the same logic to automatically mark important words in passages. I’ve also watched tons of useless movies recently, and am stuck on the soundtrack of Duet, looping the songs endlessly. I’m surprised I used to make fun of these songs when they first came out. Who knows, at this rate, I might one day be fondly recollecting the day Phir Mile Sur came out. I’m also confused as hell can be about a lot of things in life at the moment. I’m just hoping things fall in place like they always do.