Monday, December 31, 2007
Some of those friends are ones you've had since childhood, and months pass between times of contact. But that bond, that understanding and unconditional acceptance, that pure love, stays in your heart every day. Those are the friendships in which nothing is questioned, nothing is judged, nothing is expected, and everything is appreciated. How rare and precious those friendships are.
Then there are the friends that haven't been in your life nearly as long, but have left just as strong an impact. The friends that you know will always be there in the future, through the weddings and funerals, the times of elation and the times when you just want the world to end. Sometimes you know within a short time who those people are, and sometimes down the road, you discover that you were wrong about them - that they are not the friends you thought they were. And sometimes you discover that the ones you never knew would be those types of friends are the ones that actually become your best friends.
But I think the biggest realization comes when you are at your lowest point. You look around you and find that few are by your side. But the ones that are - they are the truest treasure.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Those phone calls may not seem like much, probably more a chore than anything else, an obligation done out of fear that I will once again sleep through my alarms and miss some big important event. But those phone calls are so much more to me than that. It’s the one constancy amidst the chaos of my days. It’s my daily reminder of the inherent goodness in people and the tremendous impact that the love and kindness of one person can have on some many others. It’s the renewed faith that I can, and will, make a difference in someone’s life.
Each morning, the incessant beeping of multiple alarms is interrupted by an obnoxious ringing of the phone. But once I have sleepily reached across the bed and silenced the ringing, I am greeted by a voice of familiarity and love. The “fact or crap” questions of the day that I always get wrong, the silly jokes that are so ridiculous they actually make me laugh, the lectures on the healing effects of water ….all seemingly trivial things, yet such an integral part of my daily life. On the rare occasions when I am not awakened by a phone call, I feel some tiny emptiness that is carried with me throughout the day.
Until the next morning, the phone rings, and I am again reminded of how blessed I am to be my mamma's little boy.
How many times have you censored yourself because of fear’s intrusive presence?
How many times have your love for others and your love for life been diminished because fear is guarding the door to your heart?
Perhaps you are thinking that these are rhetorical questions. But they are not. They are questions that I offer to each of you, to truly ponder within yourselves. I am not asking for your answers. These answers are not often easily discovered, and even less frequently are they easily shared. However, I believe these are important questions for each of us to ask ourselves in order that we may all live more passionate and less fearful lives.
These questions are particularly difficult for me to answer personally. I am often the person who has been accused of jumping into things heart first without thought to the practical and logical consequences that likely will follow. I have been labeled the epitome of impulse at times, and yet I certainly feel that my life has been hampered by fear. There are many avenues I have not pursued because of fear’s powerful grasp. There are many dreams that I have diminished to mere fantasies because of fear’s overbearing presence. There are many aspects of myself that I hold inside because of fear’s threats should I release those aspects. So, now I am faced with asking myself the question: is this the life I want to live? And I know the answer…I do not want to live a life of fear. I do not want to live in safety.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I don't think I have called up people and blabbered about how good the movie is, after coming out of the theatre - ever. However, this time, it is different. Many who rxed my calls will vouch for it!
TZP is not only entertainment, it is enlightenment. At some level, I'm sure we all relate to the movie; and hence, everyone is bound to enjoy it. That's why, even though a simplistic story, it ends up being an awesome watch.
TZP is about this kid Ishaan, played by Darsheel Safary (my award for the best actor for the year goes to him, hands down) who finds it difficult to match his world with kids of his age, around him. He is like Calvin, without his Hobbes. A Ross, without Rachel (I know, I know, that's a bad one!). His fish & paintings do not find any solace too. Hence, he's packed & sent to a boarding school. This is where the second half of the movie unwinds. (I won't give much of storyline here)
There are several moments in the first hour that make you moist-eyed. The bonding between the mother and son is remarkable. These moments effectively capture the special bonding, making you realize that a mother's mere touch can do wonders for a troubled soul. Tisca Chopra has done remarkably well as the mother - perfect for the role.
Aamir has directed the movie to perfection - not doubt he is the best! The screenplay does wonders, if you look at the scenes like the first one, where Ishaan is noticing the fish in the roadside sewerage drain; or the flipbook, the masterpiece which shows a family with one kid moving away, as the pages turn. A simple device that has been shown again and again, every time any character sees it, to highlight the underlying importance of the act. Or notice the scenes where Ishaan tries to cry as well as smile at the same time. I bet even you won't know whether to smile or cry at these scenes - tell me if you don't choke.
In a nutshell, TZP serves as a wake up call for every parent or parent-to-be. Also, it heralds the arrival of a magnificent storyteller, Aamir Khan. TZP is a triumph all the way from the director's point of view; and we have always known Aamir as the terrific actor.
I already have plans to watch it again - With my mom; once more with another friend. Are you in the queue! Trivia - Did you know Abhishek Bachchan was dyslexic when a kid? Or Salman Khan had suggested the name of the movie as TZP to Aamir?
Monday, December 17, 2007
Fast driving epitomizes something marvelously rapturous, as one is carried by an invisible force in an unknown direction. And obviously something terrifying is hidden in this quick flickering, so quick that there is no time for an object to make its mark, and only the sky over one's head, the light clouds, and a moon that peeks through them seem motionless.
Fast driving elevates one above earthly minutiae, making the celestial firmament the only stable point. What this thrill achieves is jolting one out of reality, making it flash by so rapidly that it does not manage to assume a viewable form.
Fast driving is not only about an experience - it is about screaming with excitement. In addition to thrill, it gives a chill, and asks for a skill too.
So all this that you read, is what normal perception could be, for wannabe speed lovers. And all the ones who care for these wannabe's will dread what is written above.
I am an ardent driver, who loves to speed too. Many would say that they feel very concerned sitting next to me, when I'm driving. Many of my friends, till date, tell me to drive safe and reach home, and to give them a call when I reach, so as to ensure I drove safe.
I do understand that I drive fast, and I try to keep a check on that (atleast when someone else is sitting with me too). Today, I was driving home, at a normal pace (and that means I was neither overspeeding, nor was trying to overtake; was just enjoying the drive, and the music), with some good music soothening my mood. It was relatively eased out traffic, and I was touching 80, since the traffic in my lane was at that speed.
Suddenly, a car was putting the brakes on, some 50m ahead of me - guess a pedestrian tried to test his feet. Anyhow, all the cars in the lane applied brakes, and one could hear the screeching of the tires on the well built road. However, there was a bike in the lane too, and fortunately or unfortunately, it was just ahead of me! It doesn't happen many-a-times that I follow a bike - I prefer to follow cars that know how to make their way - mostly call centre cabs, or police jeeps. But because I was engrossed in the music and was not really bothered about overtaking anyone, I let the bike overtake me, and I took its lead.
Now in the spur of the moment, when everyone in the lane could just stop in time to hit the cars in front, the brakes of the bike at such speeds doesn't really do wonders - and I guess the bike would have hit the stationary car in front of it at the speed of about 10kmph. Obviously the bike lost balance, and the couple riding the bike tasted the road (and so did their laptops; they were some software engineers coming back from their office, as I came to know later). Now I was following them, and when I saw them go down, I felt a chill drive down my spine – and this was not from thrill of fast driving, but of the concern that I should stop in time. I had what, maybe a few milliseconds to react, maybe ten metres ahead of me. I found myself almost standing on the brakes, and thankfully, with another screech, I came to a halt, a metre behind the flattened bike.
How much I thank whoever that it stopped just in time – I came back from there to my home, driving sub-50. And I brought back a few lessons too.
And by the way, both of them were safe & sound, driving back when I last saw them. I never tried to overtake them...
Sunday, December 16, 2007
A few directors come together to showcase their flavors of disparate stories – obviously it’s not the easiest of tasks to create a cocktail that satisfies hard as well as soft drinkers – but coming to think of it, I guess the job is done satisfactorily in this case. I understand that many of the stories had an embedded cliché, but trying to project such an aggregation of stories, and that too to an Indian audience which is still maturing, is brave.
Agreed that stories like High on the highway, Sex on the Beach, Lovedale had an innate nonsensical & predictable touch, but then getting ten stories of the same punch is not the easiest of tasks!
Veterans Shabana Azmi & Naseerudin Shah (who, btw, appeared only in two scenes) prove why old is still gold – their marvelous acting should teach a lesson or two to others who have to take it as a launch pad. I personally liked Zahir & Gubbare most; Zahir because it had an unpredictable punch at the end, and Gubbare because of the mature, though predictable act put across by Nana Patekar. (I went to watch movie with C, and I could see her crying while Nana counted the Gubbare, and promised to bring more. That’s what you call a touché moment!)
Pooranmashi featuring Amrita Singh & Minnisha Lamba is another act worth a handful. Though another predictable story, Director holds together the story and ends it just in time. Strangers in the Night was a different concept, but not properly picturized. Director could have brought more life to the characters, in the end.
Let’s not even talk about the story involving Sanjay Dutt & Sunil Shetty – I understand that they are wonderful actors, but prolonging the movie to give them screen space is just not right. Arbaaz Khan & Mandira Bedi in Matrimony delivered more than what they are capable of, but still could not give it the thump to carry forward. The narrative tone in some of the stories also helps.
Net net, an interesting experiment, and worth watch for once. If nothing else, go and watch the movie, just for a change. I recommend watching it once, atleast for the brave effort.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
In the meanwhile, you may want to go through this initiative by few friends of mine (Click Here to read, or right click to save)
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Surprised at such an opening - I am too. So is S who I share my apartment with. So are A & B, with whom I went for a swim yesterday morning. And one of my friends said, "Take a Golden Diary & a Golden Pen, and jot this date down in it - because it will go down as one of the most different days of your life!"
Golden Diary - Golden Pen - Golden Words..... and someone once said this to me that the golden words are not repeated! I guess such golden words are meant to be repeated once in a while, making sure that you do not forget the value of such gold (..which, by the way, is trading at US$ 809/oz.).
Well, such PJs apart, I agree what many people keep telling me - mornings are beautiful (though not as much as the dreams I see), and one should definitely make it a point to make use of it. And it makes all the more sense to do something constructive at that time (or destructive, like S & B, who keep trying a reduction in their tummy levels).
Coming to swimming, I love to tell the tale on how I got to learn how to swim. It dates back to my SSK days (..and believe me on this, military has its own way of teaching things) - my first week in a new school, a hostel, me being a kid not even 10 years of age at that time, a HUGE swimming pool with the uninviting and transparent cold water that I could see all the way to 27 ft deep - you're standing in queue will whole of your class, and the queue is lined up next to the stairs to the high board, which fyi was more than 10m above the ground level. And so you hear the word "Quick March" - the queue starts moving up the ladder, and where the board ends, queue walks right into the water. (fyi, not many in the queue knew how to swim). Those who knew how to swim safely floated through the water and came out; and those who did not have the luxury of knowing swimming beforehand, had the time of their lives! You jump into water, and it feels like a gush of water is trying to intoxicate you. It seems like you're gonna go down, and drown - and suddenly you feel a bash on your back - hit by a long stick that the instructor is holding - you think it to be your saving grace, and try to catch it - it hits your head the next time - you almost lose consciousness, but you start throwing your hands and feet frantically in every direction - and before you know, you've had the first swim of your life.
Yes, you know how to swim now. See, such an easy way of learning how to swim!
PS: I missed the morning swim today!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
• noun 1 the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. 2 the process of perceiving. 3 a way of understanding or interpreting something. 4 intuitive understanding and insight.
— ORIGIN Latin, from percipere 'seize, understand'
This is what Oxford dictionary has to say on "perception" – and what I have to say is that perception of perception is also a perception. It is not only related to what you think of someone else, or what your understanding about other person is, but it is moreso related to what you would WANT to think of that someone.For instance, X might consider me to be an out-and-out gregarious individual, but on the other hand, another person Y might think of me to be as conformist as it can be. It's all about perception. It is again all about perception when someone would think you to like continental more than punjabi food, if you know more pubs in the vicinity, as compared to dhabas! Aaahhh!
It's a real pain sometimes, but anyways – there are ways of playing around with your perception as well; for instance, if you are perceived to act in a manner as responding to a situation, you can jump up a surprise if you think is apt, or you can play the normal game and still emerge a winner, knowing beforehand what you should do.
• noun a false or mistaken idea or belief.
• noun the examination of one's own thoughts or feelings.
— DERIVATIVES introspective adjective introspectively adverb.
— ORIGIN from Latin introspicere 'look into', or from introspectare 'keep looking into'.
Once you've developed a perception, and followed it up with misconception as well, then you know that the time is ripe for some introspection. Not that it will lead to some precious results, but it always helps to have a status check once in a while, on the directions going forward. And there are multiple ways that lead to introspection, which you would say are crazy!
Hug a tree! Backpack across the country without regular support systems! Get up one day and make breakfast for your beloved! Or for your parents! Or for your roommate! Sleep under the stars! Make a conversation with a beggar!
Obviously these are not the conventional ways of introspecting, but what has been seen is that such steps can yield better results when it comes to knowing more about self, than any other. Doubt it? Try & you'll see. Straight from the gut…
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament. Firstly, I'm not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here's how I see it.
Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal. Here's why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here's the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity...in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won't be getting any more beautiful!
So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you're 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!
So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold...hence the rub...marriage. It doesn't make good business sense to "buy you" (which is what you're asking) so I'd rather lease. In case you think I'm being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It's as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.
Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I wonder why a girl as "articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful" as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard tobelieve that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn't found you, if not only for a tryout.
By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn't need to have this difficult conversation.
With all that said, I must say you're going about it the right way. Classic "pump and dump."
I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know.
(Thanks T, for your help on this post)
Friday, November 16, 2007
...Okay, I'm tired of beating around the bush. I'm a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I'm articulate and classy. I'm not from New York. I'm looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in New York City , so I don't think I'm overreaching at all.
Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated a business man who makes average around 100 - 150. But that's where I seem to hit a roadblock. 150,000 won't get me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she's not as pretty as I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right? How do I get to her level?
Here are my questions specifically:
- Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics - bars, restaurants, gyms
- What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won't hurt my feelings
- Is there an age range I should be targeting (I'm 25)?
- Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side so plain? I've seen really 'plain jane' boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I've seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village. What's the story there?
- Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows - lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?
- How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY
Please hold your insults - I'm putting myself out there in an honest way. Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I'm being up front about it. I wouldn't be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn't able to match them - in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth....
(Thanks T, for your help)
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Let's talk about impish M. I haven't known M for a very long time (an year and a half is not very long, right?), but I can predict her actions to such precision that it should make her a very close acquaintance of mine.
Just the other day, I was telling her about our core group (nah, not the intricacies, but more about what friend circles mean) – I was telling her that we (and by we I mean our group comprising of A, B, S, S, G, B and the likes..) have a sense of celebration which is not exactly dependent on the number of beer cans rolled out, or the glasses of Brahmos (you don't know about Brahmos? I'll dedicate a post to it later..), or for that matter the numbers of hours spent dancing after being completely bamboozled – the common string that ties people together is the sense of being together, even when far; the state of Unagi (!! – you don't watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S kya?), which is total awareness of things happening around you; the sense that we might choose to travel all the way to Murthal to have those unbeatable paranthas (with that connoisseur-like white butter and the never ending topping provided by Lassi!), rather than shadowing towards TC or Purple Haze to gulp down a few pints.
Infact, I was talking to P the other day when she just mentioned that there are two people in this world that she can even die for, both of them being her friends – I found this statement very puzzling, and I did have a lengthy argument with her on the same (okay, I understand that this post is for M, so I'll talk about his incident when I mention P in a separate post).
So, M is someone I would call a-22-year-old-wannabe-grown-up, who believes that life starts with the adolescence, and ends by the time you start having kids (not really, but in essence – because her consideration set ends very close to herself). She doesn't even venture to fourth degree of separation to take people into her consideration set, and hence most of her deductions are very skewed. She lives in a world where quitting smoking is the hardest thing to do, and the best way of treating friends is to call them on a party.
M believes that priorities are decided then and there, in the spur of the moment, and it is not something that should be upfront – because then you can play around with the case at hand. I find this a possible way of easing out in some cases, but this can land you in big-time troubles, as and when the time arises.
I must say, M has a wonderful predelection of awesome things – the other day, she took us to this spectacular place which one can not imagine to be in the boundaries of Delhi. I swear, if I go to that place and get lost one day, there's no point coming after me – I would have had multiple heart attacks out there – and as they say, meri laash cheel kauwey kha chuke honge! (my corpse would have fed kites and crows)! You spend a couple of hours there, and you don't need to travel all the way to Chambal to see all the plateus and valleys (and maybe the ghosts and daakus a.l.a pirates).I do not know many people who are as fond of F.R.I.E.N.D.S as I am (if not more attached to..) - however, I know that M will beat me to a quiz on F.R.I.E.N.D.S quiz hands down! I wonder if she passed out of Lincoln High. And another thing I have a gut feel is that she could as well write "Woman Undone", as much like Rachel could.
Though she lives, eats and sleeps in the imaginary world of 'Central Perk', I guess she understands that real life is not even close to reel life.
Now that M has gone through some testing times, and still has some challenges ahead of her, I'm sure she'll really GROW UP! Won't she?
Individual in question would be called 'S'. Let me iterate a few of his traits - he is one of the most knowledgeable individuals I know; he has diversified interests and those interests vary from construction and civil engineering (he is not a civil engineer) to HDTV videos on BBC, from interior designing to Rajasthani Handlooms and marble craft; his fan following includes me (hehe..); he is one of the few guys who like Mumbai (!!!); and he is content with his life (I am sure this facet will call for a debate, but let's see if S comes to this post and debates it; otherwise, the post stays as it is!)
I am not a hard nut to crack, and I break quite easily - though one needs to know how to do it. S has been one person who doesn't even need to tread that far - with him, it is auto play. More than two years in last five - I've spent telling him the most innate instances, and have blurted out things even I hardly knew. I am sure everyone has an outlet, and it's just a matter of time you realize who is yours, for a specific amount of time.
Talking professionally about S, he has been right on the doorsteps of his dream job for last two years, and as I speak here, I wonder if he has ventured and grabbed the opportunity that he has been promised for a long long time. His is, I believe, a glamorous job, if taken in right sense. I mean, there are a few “jobs that pay the rent”, and there are some which you would love to do even with a hefty cut, because you know that you won’t really be working, but having fun and having a gala time all the way through. Being a guide is something I have a craving for, and I know for sure I’ll venture into it professionally or personally in due course of time. Just that now is the time for the “jobs that pay the rent”. :(
Well then, S has also been someone who would rather go for something he desires than what the society would want him to – I have had innumerable discussions with him on this, and I try to convince him more often than not, to look for better avenues (atleast financially), and he also confirms my thoughts in essence, but when it comes to real execution, he falls back on the much appreciated self satisfaction in the current work place, with all the promises of getting right kind of opportunities soon enough.
I wish S gets the taste of his favored cuisine soon enough.
Friday, November 09, 2007
I met A straight after my grad school, when I was about to begin my first professional experience - A had done bachelors in engineering, post which he chose an option which though would not rake in lots of moolah, but would surely give him an opportunity to do the work he wishes to do. A co-founded a firm in Mobile VAS space, and till date, the firm has achieved such heights in terms of recognition that even most established firms in that space can not boast of. Starting from bagging the first emmy award for a mobile application, to winning young achiever award, to getting the much coveted reliance appreciation award for two years in a row - this firm has come a long way. Having featured in the Young Turks on CNBC and after getting offers from the best movie production houses of the country, there is hardly anything that A's firm has left aside in terms of getting honors. And if I ask someone after telling all this what the strength of A's firm would be, one would be amazed to know that today, it is sub-5.
I myself have closely been related to this firm and hence have known what are the challenges this firm has faced. And A's commitment amid all those challenges has been nothing less than exemplary. I myself have been an integral part of a startup, and I understand what are the intricacies of running a business all by itself. Bootstrapping has its own facets; so does funding - but finding a right mix between all permutations and combinations is the need of the hour.
Coming back to A - the challenge A faces today (I believe this is the REAL challenge) is that he is short of motivation. This lack of motivation comes from the fact that there is shortage of people who can make up his team. It is always a pain to see that though everyone wants to make big money by getting involved in a startup early, no one really wants to get hands dirty. No one really understands that in order to play these cards, one has to be ready to be in a position where he/she does not even get paid for an year (just a time frame I quote here)! Just the other day I was talking to this guy in Ohio, when it came up that he really doesn't want to invest much in Indian startups because the risk appetite of people here is very low - everyone wants instant results, which is hardly ever.
And the real difference is made by the support that these bootstrappers get from their families. Because in Indian context, the culture is such that one needs to think in multiple directions and take various scenarios into consideration before taking any such decision. There is always a tussle on whether one should take a ten-to-five, decent paying IT job, with multiple opportunities to travel abroad and make chunks of money every now and then; or to tread the path that would make you think about your bread and butter before going to sleep every night, but will definitely give you a sound sleep at the end of the day, because what you did in the course of the day was what you really wanted to do in first place.
This post is digressing from A, and I'll just redirect it.
'A' today has an option of continuing the way he is, struggling with getting the right kind of people, but having a sound sleep whenever he gets a chance, and ultimately doing the work he loves to do; or he can get into something conventional and take a comfortable life, doing something he doesn't really relate to. Options befitting, choices galore..
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
External (to student) : Why does a capacitor block DC but allow AC To pass through ?
Student: See, a capacitor is like this ---| |--- , OK. DC comes straight, like this ----------, and the capacitor stops it. But AC, goes UP, DOWN, UP DOWN and jumps right over the capacitor!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
This post, I'll dedicate to B, a friend of mine who's been a revelation, when it comes to being carefree.
This is from those days when I was a huge internet freak (I've changed, huh! Not a freak anymore). It was a norm to meet up new people online every now and then, and somehow went on to meet D online. D was doing her MBA those days, and B was one of her close friends. Obviously, online chats led to mails, which later led to phone calls - not only with D, but with B, and other friends too. (No, I am not going to provide details on who B or D or for that matter, others are...remember, this is just an 'instance' post)
Now, after MBA, B also shifted to Delhi with all her friends, and joined a financial firm (You ought to know how much I respect all those who work in financial firms; I was very close to being a big zero when talking about finance, and hence all this respect for all those who have that finesse). Impish that she has been, she was always the heart of the discussion when around. She could lend you an ear when needed, and would eat away your ears when not needed, being the chatterbox she was.
She would always be jaunty, and would never bother about anything. Girls are known to fight for all the unknown reasons, but for B, it was an alien territory. She hardly even realized that something is wrong around, and this is something which I put my hats off to. When everyone in the group would be down and out, and not knowing what needs to be done, she would just stand up, rolling her wrists up and down, and would crack a joke which would burst laughter out of everyone.
I remember one instance when I was on the receiving end - something had happened (can't recollect, owing to my short term memory loss!) and we started having a fight - and although the strong man I boast myself to be, I was beaten to pieces. This is not my claim to fame, and has not been publicly accepted, before now.
How many people here know the meaning of SBF? Ask B, and she's the one who would - that's because it is a secret.
B's jovial nature can sweep you over, and her objectivity can take you for a toss. "20 minutes, McD" talks have been on the call all the time. And the motto of Live Life King Size leads all the way through!
Monday, October 29, 2007
To start with, I could not decide whom to start with. I had three people in my mind, who I would want to write about in my first such post, and I decided to use my MBA skills in shortlisting the final one out of three. And can you think how I did shortlist?
Hold you breath - I used - Random Numbers (courtesy G, from IIMK). All those hours we spent fishing out random numbers in our excel sheets found a use today - hail G, our prof who made all of us spend an hour just generating those precious random numbers on our excel sheets.
So now, I put the names of three of my friends in three cells, and coded =rand() in front of all three. Then I decided to hit F9 five times, and the cell with the highest random number would win - and voila - it's B for today.
The best descriptive sentence for B would be, as I quote from one of his cherished precious emails to a common thread of us friends -
> sorry r****
> BELATED HAPPY B, DAY.
> SORRY BHAI LOGO
> B***** BACK
> SAALE U PEOPLE HAVE EVEN NOT MENTIONING MY NAME IN
> BAAP KE SSATH AISA MAT KARO
> S***** UR BEST FRIEND IN DELHI GUESS WHO?
> B**** B** KAISA HAI I KNOW U ARE GENIUS U KNOW
> SAALE ABHI TAK V***** HAI/ WHAT ABOUT UR CLOSE
> FRIEND IN USA (G**** U MUST HAVE REMEMBERED RED FACE
> OF B****)
> BEST OF LUCK R**** FOR PLACEMENT.
> S*** TO MILTA RAHTAHAI.
> MISSING TOO MUCH
> G**** R**** B**** G*****
> IT IS FROM MY HEART NOT KAMINA B*****.
And believe me, B is the "Aankhon ka Taara" of our group! After our college days (I mean engineering here), we all moved to various parts of the country, in pursuit of what came next. And B was our "karta-dharta" whenever we used to go back to Delhi for our holidays. Not once did I go to Delhi during the next 3 years (after engineering) when I did not go to his place - his place was always a reminder of DCE for all of us. And all those innumerable times have found a sweet place in the corridor of memory.
I must tell you that if not for my dear friend B, Delhi today would not be traveling in the much acclaimed "Metro" in the manner it is. Ever seen Superheroes like Spiderman and Superman lifting the rails of a railway line, and shifting it by some distance? Those are anyhow, just fictional characters. A real life hero is one who is larger than life, and can get things done even when not being there. One night, when whole of Delhi was having a sound sleep, B could
move the course of Metro by full four inches! People staying in Dwarka, thank B - if not for him, the Metro would still be reaching Janak Puri only!
Come driving, and you'll know that B was born with a silver spoon - how many people do you know whose cars get stolen right from their homes, hold on, not once, not twice, but thrice - and still manages to find the way back!
Such is our sweet chocolate boy that once when he was coming out of his home, he found a complete stranger pushing (read driving) his car away from the front of B's home, and when asked, that stranger mentions that he was taking it away for repairs - and that too without our innocent B's knowledge.
Even the die hard followers of atheism dread coming with B on a drive, and they too swear by God. I myself have gained all my God-fearing points in his car.
I was looking for another mail (I guess it was the first mail he had sent to a friend of mine S), where he had mentioned something about vegetables. I will try and extract that mail from somewhere, and I dare anyone and everyone who is or is not a voracious reader of this blog, to come and decipher it - I will bet my this month's salary on this dare! Wait on, for that mail to come. Till then, hang on!
Friday, October 26, 2007
Nirvana, the so-called Other Shore is everywhere and nowhere. It is not a place. Nirvana is more a state of mind: one of total awareness; or is it no awareness? deathless peace; joy, ease and fulfillment; and perfect freedom. Nirvana is by definition the highest form of everlasting happiness, desirelessness, fulfillment and peace. It is experienced by the heart-mind liberated from the fetters of ignorance, dualism and delusion, and freed from conflicting emotions including attachment and desire.
Have you listened to "Come As You Are", again Nirvana? A song full of contradictions on how we act versus how we think society thinks we should act. Just yesterday, I was having these obscure discussions with P regarding the same, when we eventually ended up debating on the "Paragon of virtues" (It started as an impish discussion, and eventually ended up on a different plain). A few sub bullets are still on the cards!
And any ideas on how to achieve Nirvana - I'll give you one.
Go a few beers down, with a few fags, and "The Man Who Sold the World" on the track... Cogito ergo sum!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The play starts in an involving mode, gripping the audience for first 15 minutes with the occasional shrug from here & there - the start was comic in ways more than one, and one could ponder whether getting along the same lines would have made Creeper more entertaining than thought provoking. I call it thought provoking, not because I had to ponder over any social or mental issues, but more because it made me rattle my brains on whether I was the only one who's not getting the real drift of the storyline.
The male protagonist (forgot his name; he was some bong) walks away with the laurels in the play. The female one (don't remember her name either; I thought she was a punjabi, and she looked somewhat out of sorts - though at first sight, she looked like a batchmate from my MBA days - but then I knew she wasn't the same, anyhow) did her part well, but because she had to follow a monotone imbibed in her role, the script did not do justice to her, as she could not get opportunity to showcase various facets of her craft on stage.
More & more people of our generation (and by our generation, I would mean those who have more online presence than offline; those who take time out to check their orkut/facebook/hi5 profiles multiple times a day, though they might consider talking to their folks back home everyday unnecessary; for whom wikipedia (and not I Ching) is the sum of all wisdom, and iphone is the coolest thing to happen since stone age) are thinking along the lines different from the conventional ones. With every passing day, and every conversation with acquaintances, my belief in working for thyself (or in other words, working in a startup, or something of your own) reinforces. With all the investment bankers, all the consultants and all the onsite software engineers reaping in big moolah, some thoughts do arise questioning whether the thrill of working in a small boutique firm can compensate for the big moolah going either way, but then when you see all these big ticket guys insecure and worried about what they really wish to do, it brings back the confidence.
This play also had shades of whether you're leaning towards what you might wish to do, or what the mysterious universe has unfolded for you in form of public opinion. People are mad, but in an ordinary way.
Net net, one should spend some time watching this play instead of spending yet another hour checking orkut scraps, more for the reason that it would help you exercise your brains and will make you think for a change, about something you can't find on wiki or google. For first timers, the acting's appreciable.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
This led me to think whether I should be reading anything at all on Afghanistan or not - and the opportune time came in the form of fictional "The Kite Runner", a book a friend of mine suggested as a must read. I am not a big fan of Afghan writers, nor have I read anything on Afghans (most of the info I have on Afghans comes solely from "Kabul Express"). But having finished the book now, I must say it is a gem.
The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a well-to-do boy from the Kabul, who is haunted by the guilt of betraying his childhood friend Hassan, the son of his father's Hazara servant. (The Hazara are an ethnic group who are predominantly Shia Muslims and speak the Hazaragi dialect of the Persian language) The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan through the Soviet invasion, the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the Taliban regime.
But political events are only a part of this story. A more personal plot, arising from Amir's close friendship with Hassan, the son of his father's servant, turns out to be the thread that ties the book together. The fragility of this relationship, symbolized by the kites the boys fly together, is tested as they watch their old way of life disappear.
Some of the plot's turns and twists may be somewhat implausible, but Hosseini has created characters that seem so real that one almost forgets that The Kite Runner is a novel and not a memoir. At a time when Afghanistan has been thrust into the forefront of America's collective consciousness ("people sipping lattes at Starbucks were talking about the battle for Kunduz"), Hosseini offers an honest, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt view of a fascinating land. Perhaps the only true flaw in this extraordinary novel is that it ends all too soon.
The Kite Runner is the first novel by Afghanistani American author. Published in 2003, it is the first novel published in English by an author from Afghanistan. The novel was the third best seller for 2005 in the United States (leaving behind works to the likes of Da Vinci Code, The World is Flat, 1776, Angels & Demons, etc.). It was also voted 2006's reading group book of the year.
Friday, September 28, 2007
This's a book published in 1960, that has never been out of print in hardcover or paperback. It has sold over 30 million copies and been translated into over 40 languages since first being published.
It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and is taught in approximately 74% of schools in the United States. A 1991 survey by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress' Center for the Book found that it came in second after the Bible in books "most often cited as making a difference."
It first appeared on a list developed by librarians in 2006 who answered the question, "Which book should every adult read before they die?" followed by the Bible and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Over the years, it has become part of the standard canon of literature taught in schools. It was voted the "Best Novel of the 20th century" by readers of the Library Journal in 1999. It is listed as #5 on the Modern Library's Reader's List of the 100 Best Novels in the English language since 1900, and #4 on the rival Radcliffe Publishing Course's 100 Best Board Picks for Novels and Nonfiction. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961 and adapted into a critically-acclaimed film in 1962.
You know it now, don't you?
Have a few more cues then - Time Magazine included it on its 100 Best English Novels from 1923 to the Present list. Their 1960 review of the book states that it, "teaches the reader an astonishing number of useful truths about little girls and about Southern life" and calls the narattor, "the most appealing child".
Guessed it now - Yes, "To Kill a Mockingbird" it is..
The novel revolves around a young girl named Jean Louise Finch who goes by the nickname “Scout”. Scout experiences different events in her life that dramatically change her life.
To Kill a Mockingbird begins with an epigraph by Charles Lamb: “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” That the author chose this epigraph is interesting on several levels. A good part of this story’s brilliance lies in the fact that it’s told from a child’s point of view. Through Scout’s eyes, the author is able to present the story objectively. By having an innocent little girl make racial remarks and regard people of color in a way consistent with the community, Lee provides an objective view of the situation. As a child, Scout can make observations that an adult would avoid or sugarcoat. Readers, too, are likely to be forgiving of a child’s perception, whereas they would find an adult who makes these remarks offensive.
The book's use of racial slurs, profanity, and frank discussion of rape has led to it being challenged in libraries and classrooms as well.
The book highlights that the people with differences are not always doing things the wrong way. It is the majority that may be going at it all wrong.
A must read, without fail..
Monday, September 17, 2007
"How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five!
That's the key.
You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.
"How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life . . . you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . YOU BECOME 21.... YESSSS !!! (I know that - my bro just turned 21)
But then you turn 25 (I am 25)....then 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk. He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?
You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40.
Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 . . and your dreams are gone.
But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!
So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.
You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!
You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime.
And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92."
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"
May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!
HOW TO STAY YOUNG
1.Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay "them"
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. " An idle mind is the devil's workshop."
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love, Whether it's family, pets, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to hills outside the city; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER THE "EVER-REPEATED" ADAGE:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
.......it took some doing, but I found I could relax and hold the glance if I simply stopped working to figure out what the other person was thinking. I had to force myself to stop reading every twitch, every sideways glance, every brush of the hair. When I walked in the door, when I stuck out my hand, when I said "Hi?" I turned my gaze toward the pupil of the person's eye. It really was a process of searching it out, looking at the black of the eye only, holding my glance there, and waiting until the eye color registered in my periphery.
It worked, too. Females could not hold my glance longer; men moved faster. This worked with colleagues. With friends. Even with Auto-drivers, whom I looked at in their rearview mirrors. I began to gain better control over these transactions by searching out their eyes. It took only a few seconds, but I could plainly see what they were looking for. Here is what I saw: No matter how much attention they appeared to be giving me, no matter how slowly they spoke or how long they paused after greeting me, it was evident that these people were initially treating me like every other guy who walked in off the street, trying to figure me out and see how fast they could get me what I wanted before moving on.
The eye contact changed all that. You realize you have X-ray vision. You had the right blade. With my eyes, I calmed them, slowed them down, and did so without knocking them over or humiliating them. I used my eyes to upset the indifference of their routines and simply register my presence. It worked every time. They didn't know me, but then, suddenly, it seemed they did. I did not need to bargain much. The doorman perked up when I arrived at the dad’s office and stood up straighter when I walked out.
I tried it with people who see me all the time. The guard at my office who now greets me every time I walk in. The person I've known for three years. A guy I know from some social service activities. In each case, upon greeting them, I'd search out their pupils and hold my eyes on theirs for a minimum of two blinks. Just as with people I didn't know, time seemed to slow down and routine moments became unpredictable. Not just because two blinks is an eternity when you have nothing to say except "How are you?" but because it meant they had to look at me at least once, and often two or three times, before they spoke.
While I may suck at eye contact naturally, there are people who are worse, much worse, in every ring of my life. The more I practiced, the more hapless they seemed. It's the law of dominance, I think, that the more dominant you become, the more you want to stay dominant. I found I liked backing people down. I began to look at them long enough that I began to sense when they were about to look away. The truth is, instead of them seeing me, it ended up that I could really see them. They were just like I was, a little afraid of eye contact, a little leery of connection. I meant well, so I pressed on. People gave me apologies I didn't ask for. They invited me to dinner.
I could do far worse with my eyes. Anyone can. The tool can always become the weapon.
With any gesture of influence, the danger lies in not knowing what you are after. I fell into an easy routine recently. Just yesterday, while negotiating the price of a beautiful watch I was buying for my mom, I was staring into the eyes of a storekeeper, trying to figure out what color his eyes were, when he suddenly dropped the price by two thousand bucks to four thousand. I'd been threatening him somehow and hadn't known it. I didn't break away. I didn't look down. While I hadn't expected as much, now I had to see where I could go from there.
His eyes jumped back and forth, from the counter to the watch to me, then back again, in reverse. His eyes looked green, I decided. Green.
"Four thousand," I said. "Flat price. No tax. OK?"
He nodded and looked back at me then, long and hard. We were in agreement, though neither of us said a thing.
FYI, my eyes are BROWN.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I’ll not beat around the bush anymore (it anyhow won’t make much of a difference), and come to what the incident of the day is – I used to have Reliance phones – not just one, but two of them (don’t wonder why two – I am presumptuous enough to say that one was official and another was for personal use; now don’t ask me what personal use I’m talking about). Both of these were ignored and discarded a couple of years ago (the paradigm shift of need of fancier handsets was the trigger..).
Today, I was just going through my stuff when I could locate one of those reliance handsets in my junk drawer (again, don’t ask me whether it was personal or official). To my surprise, it was still there. What surprised me more was that it was still working. And above all, it had all the messages (or SMS’) intact (Not that I had thought that someone would have deleted data from it, but it came as a surprise that the text was still there)!
And believe me, the messages were real touchy. It reminded me of quite a few things – highlighted ones being - a night’s drive about a hundred kilometers away from the city to drop someone home; a total collapse of a friend’s love life; & an anxious friend waiting to get the answer from her beloved – there were so many, what should I call it, maybe “flavors”, in those messages that I could almost relive the past.
I wanted to pick up my cell and call to relive those moments, but somehow, my fingers felt a quiver and I just could not – it wasn’t the ‘ego’ that was holding me back; it was a fear – fear of making a mistake (no, calling is not a mistake here; not calling is..). The fear of sounding stupid, when it means the least. Vaise who knows the real essence of stupidity – is it the lesson learnt from “Pride and Prejudice”? Or does it ensemble from the absence of acts – I don’t know.
But calling – yes – I’ll do for sure. Just giving myself some time…
Monday, August 20, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Not that there’s much time to think about it. The Bourne Ultimatum is also breathlessly tense: Greengrass stages three chases with a beautiful eye for the suspense of the everyday. In the first, Bourne leads a newspaper reporter (Paddy Considine) through a London train station as assassins follow them both. It’s one of the movie’s several chases-within-a-chase: everyone has a cellphone, all of them are tapped, and Bourne orchestrates the journalist’s flight even as he is being followed and in turn following. It’s very long and unfailingly gripping, and Greengrass manages to convey the twists and complications clearly within its crowded reality.
The Bourne Ultimatum ends with the answers Bourne has been seeking. These turn out to be disappointing, maybe because the movie has to come to a shuddering halt while we go through flashbacks that don’t tell us much that we couldn’t guess. Bourne’s long run to find out who he is turns out to be not that important. What he was really learning, it turns out, is who we are.
I would rate it 4.5/5
Quick Trivia - Universal Pictures and Google have joined to promote the movie and at the same time tout several of Google's products to moviegoers.
"The Ultimate Search for Bourne With Google," is an interactive game that uses several Google products, including search, maps, images, translation and YouTube, to let players adopt the persona of Jason Bourne, the film's hero. Players are given challenges each week at a dedicated Google site, www.google.com/bourne. Another feather in the cap, I must say.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
There's a formula for romantic comedies that one must adhere to, which is pretty much close to the guidelines Mills and Boon put out for their novels (Yes, I know what they are!). Logical too, given the size of the romance market. Your hero must be good-looking, a little tad naughty, eventually redeemable and every lady should want him. The heroine must be amiable, a little peculiar, and she must win the hero over with the force of her lovable personality, because even though all the people in these stories are inevitably drop dead gorgeous, it's never about the sex, because, well, that would be just crass.
"Music and Lyrics" - an unusually witty and intelligent romantic comedy. A Movie advised on Valentine’s day / Friendship day. Once recommended.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Well, the story goes like this - Let's call this friend 'D'. D and I have been knowing each other for ages, for as long as I can remember (I know, I know, I have a bad memory, and I hardly remember things happening a couple of hours back, but whatever..) - so now, we both used to get along very well as friends - and by getting along, I mean that no ten minutes could pass without us having an argument or a fight. Obviously my mom trusted D more than she trusted me, and vice versa. Not that we used to go out too often in those early days, but it used to be fun to fight at each opportunity possible. And one fine day, we had a fight, a catastrophe!
Hang on, hang on...if I tell you the reason for the quarrel, you've beat both of us to death. All those who today know the reason for that quarrel we had still wonder what was there to even have an argument about. I WILL NOT open the cards to tell the reason, because it will reveal how stupid we were, but anyhow. So we had this quarrel, and we stopped talking (as we generally used to, for a couple of hours) - but on this occasion, neither of us tried to revert...so the hours became days, days became weeks, weeks months, and ultimately months turned into years, with us not talking..!!!
In the meanwhile, D shifted home, and so did I, our phone numbers changed, and since I am talking of the primitive age when we hardly used to operate computers, we did not have each other's email IDs too..Years later, when in college, a classmate of mine told me that some friend of his met some other person, who knew me, and the name of this other person was 'D'! Just like we see Flashback in movies, I could recollect all the times spent together, and I decided to get back in touch with D at that moment itself.
But but but, everything was not as simple. D's address was still not known - my classmate's friend had some faint idea of which street D stayed in!
Anyone seen 'Love Actually'? Remember how Hugh Grant (playing the Prime Minister of Britain in the movie) went from door to door in the street, trying to locate Natalie (PM's love in the movie). Not that I had watched the movie by then, but that's exactly what I was prompted to act upon. I can still remember the shocked face of D when I knocked on the front door of D's house, and D standing there, wondering how on earth I could find the place!!!
Post that, it's been a couple of years, and yes, we are in regular touch now. Fights and quarrels are still as silly as they used to be, but I guess the time has taught us both a lot - that near or far, it's a matter of being with your friends, in essence.
It's a matter of hanging on, after others have let go.
Now D holds a distinct place - many other friends of mine do too, but I am writing how special D is to me here, because I know D will never reach this page.. And many of my friends who might read this should know that I have their stories too, but those will be shared only in forums or platforms where they can't see them. :-)
Now some general gyan, that you may skip..
One of the most memorable moments in life is when you meet old friends whom you had lost touch midway in the journey of life. You will be overwhelmed with the feeling of emotional detachment, realizing how much you have been missing him or her all these years. Having them around will remind you of all those golden moments that you spent together in the rain, amidst the morning mist or under the scorching sun. It will remind you of those golden moments of sharing lunch together and exchanging your friendship bands. More so it will remind you of how silly you have been when you picked up fights on matters of no substance, spending days, weeks, months, or even years not talking to that dear friend of yours.
Apparently today is friendship day. Many would have planned for grand reunions and rocking get togethers with old friends. This is a way of sharing all emotions that you had stored for them for this long span of time. Doesn't really matter if you don't do it now though, because one can celebrate the occasion of friendship any time of the year! Just grab a couple of beers, and/or pickup some snacks from the nearby shack, and sit under the stars on the ground with your friend, and revisit all times, good and bad, with your dear friend - you won't discount that day as any other day. the good and the bad times with your friend.
And if the idea has not stuck yet, go and collect the contact info of all your long lost friends (by long lost, I do not mean those who you've left in the "Kumbh-ka-mela"!), and get back to them - shoot them an email, post a letter, call them up, send gifts, or do anything that makes you feel you are closer to your friend.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Leaving aside the story and performance review, which I'll talk about later, I must specify upfront that if you are a 'Fashion' freak and enjoy observing, this movie is meant for you - forget about the story or anything, the fashionable traits of the movie will surely blow you over.
Andy (Anne Hathaway) is a sweet young scrubbed behind the ears young lady who moves from the countryside to the big bad city. She is so naive that she is genuinely surprised when not everyone is delighted to meet her.
She goes to work at a fashion magazine presided over by 'Miranda'. Miranda is a monsterboss, a consummate bitch. The kind of boss who inspires by fear and lives by mottos such as: "I don't have headaches, I cause them".
Andy starts her career at Runaway in awe & fear of the snazzily dressed arrogant women who work in this atmosphere of fear, stress and hostility. She thinks they are the powerful and the smart and sees herself as weak and silly. As the movie progresses, Andy learns she, by retaining her humanity, personality and principles, is the powerful and smart and her coworkers, by selling their souls and allowing themselves to be treated like garbage just for money and clothes, are the weak and silly.
The movie follows the very typical plot arc of having the protagonist be a nice person who, tempted by the dark side, acts like a jerk for a while, gets her comeuppance, sees the light and comes back to being a nice person all in about two hours. Wouldn't it be wonderful if real life worked so smoothly?
Meryl Streep is perfect as the devil-lady. She could be the best American actress alive. Miranda is a person of contradictions. She is loathesome and compelling, enviable and repulsive, powerful and vulnerable, regal and pathetic. She manages her professional world with a ruthless excellence that would make a political boss blush with modesty.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I don't know whether you would have noticed or not, but maintaining eye contact feels awkward, even creepy. At first; then it just feels powerful. I’ve read a bit about eye contact during conversations, in addition to what I have seen, observed and noticed, and here is what comes out.
When I was small, my dad could always tell when I was lying. When I was about six years old, he told me God whispered it to him. Since he was religious, I had to respect that. He had a treaty with God. I wanted to hear it. I figured if I knew when it happened, the precise moment, I'd hear the voice of God, too.
I decided to watch my dad's eyes for a sign – some twitch of recognition, some little break in his concentration, anything – that would tell me when he was hearing the voice of God. I told him easy lies, the ones I always told him: that my brother did it, or that I forgot doing it – broke the china, left the gate unlatched. At first I didn't even want to blink, for fear I'd miss the moment when God spoke. But the truth is, I got nothing. No sign. In fact, the more I looked at his eyes, the more I began to realize that my dad had no idea that I was lying. None. He looked straight back at me, waiting to hear the next thing I would tell him. In fact, he was hanging on my words. There was no voice of God. My father wasn't listening to anyone but me. He had no idea when I was lying, especially if I stared him down the whole time.
The trick, I soon realized, was simply to look him in the eye as I spoke. So it was that I became an atheist and a proficient liar in one fell swoop. Such were my salad days.
A person’s gaze has weight, resistance, muscularity. Clearly, there are people who use their eyes well. You know them: the sales rep, the tyrannical boss, mom! Their eyes force the question. These people may be as dumb as streetlamps (I am not saying they are), but they are an undeniable presence in the room. They know they must be dealt with. You know it, too.
It is a very particular skill set. The eye-contact specialist is like the one guy in the game of hockey who knows only how to take a penalty corner. Relentless and a little annoying, he uses his skill, presses his opponents with the fundamentals. It may not work every time, but eventually things work his way. Over time, this habit—establishing and maintaining eye contact—creates favorable situations and produces results. The eye-contact specialist gets talked to first, dealt with most promptly, and responded to most thoroughly. He's always first in line for a reason.
And for the one who's being looked at, eye contact sends a message, signaling acknowledgment, connection, and attention, signaling something, I think, like empathy. Being seen is, on some level, being felt. It's nice to be acknowledged. Even so, why does eye contact, wielded freely, always feel like a weapon to me? Why do I want to smack people who stare at me deeply while I'm talking about girls or career or for that matter, anything under the sun? Maybe the true signal is less subtle, less friendly than "I'm paying attention to you." Whether he admits it or not, that person is participating in one very large bet that you will blink first. That guy, the one who's looking at you—straight at you, right into you—is getting something that you are not. It's called the upper hand.
Well, that's my preferred hand. So I did my thing. For few days I tried to use eye contact to get what I wanted, with real abandon. It was no small trick. By nature, my eyes drift. I tend to look past people when I talk. I look out the window, examine the horizon. I'm sure this has cost me connection with some people who take it as a sign of being evasive or shifty. When I paid attention to it, I found that my tendency was to click in, lock eyes for a second or less, then look upward or outward into the distance. It's just not my rhythm to stare.
That was the first lesson: Eye contact is not the same as staring.
People don't like the dumb indifference of a stare. My first attempts at maintaining eye contact were so self-conscious that I took to picking a point on the person's face – as close to the eyes as possible – and gazing at it as calmly as possible. That was a disaster. I wasn't looking at people so much as I was at a blemish they happened to know very well.
If I stared at a point, say, between someone's eyes or at a mole just above an eyebrow, people knew it right away.
I did this which a friend, and she stood it for about a few seconds before she asked me, "What are you looking at?" She ran her finger along her eyebrow.
So I tried to concentrate on eyelashes, but this made my own eyes jump as I talked. My head bobbed, too, and I was hit with a sense of motion sickness. People constantly noticed my stare. I was forced to apologize, telling them that I was just spacing out, not paying attention – the direct opposite of what I was hoping to convey in the first place. It was as if I had become a mirror in which people saw their own tiny imperfections, magnified by my glance.
Both parties in a conversation are caught almost constantly in the true focus and precise direction of a glance. I had to go for the eyes. There is no faking it.
There have always been people in my life who were good at using their eyes. My seventh-grade English teacher. My boss who’s giving me lots of work these days. My friend the pilot. My neighbour who I always used to fight with. I don't know if I trusted each of these people because they looked straight at me or if they looked straight at me because I trusted them. Yet each could lock and hold my glance for minutes at a time, while I was feeling sick after five seconds. What exactly did they see? How did they do it?
It is clear that the idea of eye contact is not simply to point your eyes in a given direction. You have to use your eyes. I have to take a move. I am sucking it up, and will start to lock in on the pupils. It will take some time, but I’ll come back and share, how it went. Till then, wait.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
There is nothing specific that I have to share, except that it has been a fortnight since I made a post – S came down to Bangalore, and was here for a week (some say it was for his GMAT exam – I second); we went over to Savandurga yet again for trekking; the next weekend was spent in watching Potter’s latest mania, and bowling. And of course, the work load has gone up manifolds, for a change.
S being here made me recall all the good times we had while being in
Then this weekend, HP was obviously on the cards – though not as good as any of its predecessors. The charm of magic has gone by, and I guess it’s only a matter of time now, that the last book will be here, and HP (along with JK Rowling) will make a place in the pages of history as one of the most intriguing series of all times.
And lastly, the work that has been there (wonder why work always come last na!) – last two weeks saw me working on a couple of things, and working really late too – could recall those early days in Noida, when it was literally ‘burning-in-midnight-oil’ for many. Though the kind of work I have undertaken is nice, I still don’t know if it is the time for me to do this kind of planning / strategic / so called ‘high-end’ work. Got to make note of this, and make sure that I’m doing some ground level work too.
Other than that, time’s picking up monotone – got to infuse some reality into it.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Around 80 kms from Bangalore, it is located between the picturesque locales of Magadi & Ramanagaram. There are two routes to reach there - one through Magadi, and the other through Ramanagaram - the latter having better roads, though a bit longer.
A friend of mine & I reached the foothills of Savandurga by 10a and started climbing. Only information we had with us was the 'ten minute' research, right before leaving in the morning. And taking this little info as being more than enough, we declined the guide out there - and for the first half hour, we felt this was the biggest mistake we made. Unknown to the turf, and excited at the opportunity of trekking, I went ahead and started with the steep ascent area of the hill (later when I asked professional rock climbers about how that area should be ascended, they said it "should not be tried at all"!)
So I had started with the steep ascent, and after climbing for about 100 metres, I realized that the way down is IMPOSSIBLE (being so steep) - I felt a chill go through my spine when I tried to look down, and I knew I can not go down - the ascent ahead was almost vertical, and there I was, stranded. My hands were trying to cling onto anything, even thin air, and my feet were starting to fail me - the only way out was to take a parallel climb to reach the normal gradient (if it is parallel, can I call it a climb? But it was a climb only, because I was still on all fours, with my hands acting as my feet as well, trying to cling onto the hill). My feet started shivering, but I could see the target I had to reach. 20 minutes hence, and I could join my friend on the normal route. Hmmffff..
Can you locate someone on this pic!
Anyhow, going on - it is easy to climb, if you don't turn back & look for where you are. Thighs & ankles soon begin paining. It takes about two hours for amateurs to reach the top. Experts later told us that they took about forty minutes. We took one hundred minutes.
This pic was taken ten minutes into our pursuit - notice the target in the background.
There are such moments too, where you have to give your bit ;-)
The road less travelled!
And the view from the top.
While we reached summit, and were taking a good look at the surroundings, a few guys came up as well (and they have been experienced climbers). We took lots of cues and pointers from them, and have a few plans for trekking with their expert groups in coming weeks.
And while coming back, it took not more than 30 minutes, and that too, with intermittent chats of here and there with the expert kids we had met.
Well well, we did it - here we are, after out descent - relaxed now. Mission Accomplished!
Net net, an awesome experience. Rest of the pictures, I'll put on my itasveer account. If things go well, I guess more of such trips will be on the cards, in the coming times. And updates here, as always.