Friday, December 23, 2011

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Like Alice in Wonderland, events start happening at a surprising pace. Like Alice, Richard too seems like a lost little person. Like Alice, the world is highly speculative. But whereas most of the characters in Alice had no motives, Neverwhere is filled with them. Oh and Croup and Vandemar. Two of the best characters I have read so far.

Down the sewer hole.

Gaiman is a superb story-weaver. He slowly reveals the 'why' after luxuriously indulging in the 'what'. You tend to go through an unbelieving 'what', to an acknowledging smile to a wicked laugh several times in a page. Repeat this exponentially when Croup and Vandemar are around.

While it took me time to decide that I like Door, could easily imagine a very hot Hunter and didn't care for Richard, I did like marquis quite a bit. He holds all the elements of surprise and uses them efficiently. The characters make the story a truly fun read. And Croup and Vandemar even better!

I also loved the way Gaiman has ended the book. Do we all question life? The illusionary part of it? What is real and what real is real and how real it is really?

Oh have you realised that the 'w' in Mayhew (that could stand for 'world') when turned upside down would lead to Mayhem. Or is it just me? I questioned Mr Gaiman and he just replied in two words:


Also, have I mentioned Croup and Vandemar before? Ah, it should have been Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Angular Momentum


Seven Bar Jokes Involving Grammar and Punctuation

1. A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

2. A dangling modifier walks into a bar. After finishing a drink, the bartender asks it to leave.

3. A question mark walks into a bar?

4. Two quotation marks “walk into” a bar.

5. A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to drink.

6. The bar was walked into by the passive voice.

7. Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They drink. They leave.

Source: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/seven-bar-jokes-involving-grammar-and-punctuation

Monday, November 7, 2011

Metallica: Live In Bangalore 2011

1998.

A friend of mine gave me an album called Load by this band called Metallica. The adolescent part of me, just coming out of a pop era, wanted to venture out. You know how that age is right? Trying to rebel, looking for symbols that help fuel this rebellion? ‘Mama Said’, a song from the album was the one that started my journey with Metallica. From Load to ReLoad and the ever energetic song ‘Fuel’, paved my sure shot hold on Metallica. Hetfield became God. He ruled my musical devotion till I went further back to discover Jim Morrison. I realized praying to one God was not enough.

The songs of the album Load will always have a special place in my memories. Though the album is not so critically acclaimed (ReLoad rated even lower). It was my first full-fledged Metallica album. Oh and what songs! House that Jack Built, Until it Sleeps, Bleeding Me, Thorn Within, Outlaw Torn! Endless listening to a recorded cassette on a Sony Walkman. Those were the days when I used to immerse in a single album and listen to it day-in-day-out.

From Load and then ReLoad, I went back. The Black album happened. What a revelation it was. The old sound of the band was even more awesome. Full of rage that appealed to the changes that I had to face around. ‘College and growing up’ does not sound as good as ‘College and growing up with Metallica’. Words cannot describe the soothing effect the songs had when I used to lie in my bed late at nights with Hetfield, Hammett et al singing me lullabies; the lullabies that resonated with my anger for the world that I could not understand.

Then during sometime in 2001-02, I got my hands on some college deposit refund that went right into funding ‘And Justice for All’ along with Jimi Hendrix’s greatest hits.


I had heard ‘One’ before but with this album came a sound and feelings that were darker than ever. Metallica was coming out of the Cliff Burton era and most of the songs had painful and poignant dedications to him. Give a listen to ‘To live is to die’ and you would know what I am talking about. Another month or two was spent in playing this album over and over again.

With the entry of the .mp3 format and computers... you know how the songs started pouring. Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and Kill ‘em All were immediately given a shot. But the charm of listening to one album over and over again was lost. So much for having a choice.

But Metallica stayed. Lingered on. Hetfield still gripped the angst that was plucked by Hammett’s guitar and resonated appropriately by Ulrich and Newstead.

2011.

Sometime around mid-June 2011, we heard that Metallica was coming to India. Their first ever trip to India. Decades of wait to see them live was suddenly not just a dream. It was going to happen. As soon as the haze lifted, intense planning was initiated to ensure that tickets were available and booked. We, a country so full of Metallica fans, were sure to go all guns blazing to be there to see them live. Metallica was to perform in Bangalore on 30th Oct, 2011. Tickets were booked 2 months in advance. Information was shared with like-minded fans. Friends went crazy on social forums. Then the tickets arrived. Oh the happiness. Something tangible. So the dream was realizing.


The train journey happened. We arrived a day in advance in the rock loving city Bangalore. Lovely weather greeted us. Slight rain, slight sun. Pleasant cool temperature. A friend of a friend showed the most awesome courtesy that anyone can offer and happily allowed us to stay at his place. A friend who had a Metallica poster framed on his wall. Now you know what I am talking about!

The craze was slowly filling up everywhere. YEAH YEAH was one of the cries that kept on repeating on people’s mind. Everyone had waited for so long, me included.

This benevolent soul of a friend then went overboard and booked a bus for 12 people. The bus, filled with 12 Metallica fans. The bus with a super music system that played the songs we were soon going to hear live. Beer flowed in the bus. Anxiety reaching a peak.


One of the Big 4 were going to perform. Metallica was going to perform.

We entered the venue an hour or two before the Metallica show. It was raining a bit, but all it dampened was the soil on the ground. We waited and waited till they started testing the drums and guitar. Imagine the response from a crazy crowd that was around 30,000-35,000 strong. The sense of time soon evaporated.

Hetfield came along. Hammett, Ulrich and Trujillo followed. What then followed was a hysteria for close to 2 hours or 18 songs. Even Hetfield was surprised when people sang with him. Oh Bangalore you rocked. And HOW! Words will not capture the feelings that filled almost every person who was present for the concert. Dream became a reality and suddenly the reality was so dreamily-beautiful that I started questioning. Did it really happen?

It did. And it was AWESOME!

---

You can read a post by another Metallica fan here: http://vadakkus.com/2011/11/01/metallica-in-bangalore-the-memory-remains/

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Yes and No, uncertainty and a discussion

It all started with an innocuous yet a very deep Tweet. Suddenly some doors opened, some people (sjcakes, URM1, probabilism, KdProQuo) peeped in and started having a wonderful (and rather long) conversation that happened in a short time. No one knew where it was going to lead...

sjcakes: yes is the beginning of knowledge (tho I've heard "no" may be the beginning of wisdom).
KdProQuo: 'No' is the beginning of freedom.
sjcakes: depending on the question/desire, it can also be yes.
probabilism: perhaps it may be unjust to even walk on the path assessing righteousness of either of the words.
sjcakes: wisdom and knowledge are not righteousness - the are result and use to whatever end they're made.
URM1: Yes, is not necessarily always servile. No might mean the end of possibilities.
probabilism: A Yes may very well be close to the clear conscience. A No might imply a new chapter.
KdProQuo: No is more certain than a Yes?
URM1: How? Why? As @probabilism points out, a judgment is unfair. The operative word in this case should be 'situation'
---
probabilism: certainty is a fact. calling out Yes or a No, one may be able to see the facts in retrospect.
URM1: Certainty is perception, belief. Quite different from fact, I'd say.
sjcakes: certainty is a perspective.
probabilism: certainty cannot be a perspective if one prioritizes relativity of life as secondary.
sjcakes: certainties can change. Review your life and see.
---
probabilism: but I do see a point in what @KdProQuo has said. we dwell in greys & find comfort. perhaps black & white are needed.
KdProQuo: But Yes and No both can exist in either Black or White.
sjcakes: and their meanings spam a gamut of grays as well as colors.
sjcakes: darlings, the entire menagerie needs the full spectrum, the entire rainbow hues and shades too!
URM1: We pick colours as it suits us. A 'yes', a 'No' and a 'Maybe' are all decided on opportunity/convenience
KdProQuo: Or habit or comfort.
probabilism: indeed. so why not drive that partial willingness to cull out b&w | habit oriented comfort is perhaps lack of will.
sjcakes: more simply: drive out habit and kill it for the blood sucking life destroyer that it is
---
URM1: So yes and no, good and bad, light and dark, two sides of the same coin, etc. and life goes on
sjcakes: two sides but there's also an edge - is the edge a third side? it always gets overlooked
probabilism: I think edge is the side that you can choose. perhaps often imbibed by b&w.
KdProQuo: this third side is what makes dissolves the blackness in black and adds the white and vice versa.
sjcakes: it is the INFINITE line enclosing black & white, bounding their edges & exploding infinite colored possibility
probabilism: exactly. that's why one could look beyond normalcy of relativity & visualize an absolute.
KdProQuo: Brother, I am scared of absolutes. They dissolve the intensity of grays that soothe and explain so much.
probabilism: no need. absolute is the other side. not the evil side.
sjcakes: so you absolutely want to deny the existence of absolutes out of fear??
KdProQuo: Yes the fear of losing freedom. The fear of subjecting to absolutes decided by a very subjective audience.
probabilism: Freedom is earned, thus not lost. audience changes over time but freedom is constant.
sjcakes: freedom can be lost. Earning doesn't preclude losing.
probabilism: the intensity of earning freedom is far too superior to the act of losing it. thus the sheer & clear winner.
URM1: Are you sure freedom is constant? I am not. And yes, @sjcakes, the edge/grey is the third side.
probabilism: it definitely is. like i said we stop at grey & forget what we can actually put to use.
sjcakes: tempted to site horrific cases to the contrary but too tired.
KdProQuo: reminds of "every win is not a victory and every victory is not a win."
sjcakes: PLAY THE GAME BUT DO NOT FOR A MOMENT MISTAKE IT FOR WHAT IS REAL.
URM1: Why must one try to be either? It isn't human. We need and use both.
URM1: The best we are allowed to have is a life of moral compromises in lieu of physical peace/comfort.
probabilism: moral compromises, eh. doesn't sound comforting considering this discussion.
probabilism: may be i said it wrong but i agree that both are needed.rather we need to use them.we simply seem to stop at grey.
URM1: Yes, we seem to stop at grey because grey is easy - makes no difficult demands on our conscience.
probabilism: and i have experienced it first hand - if you decide to get out of grey & ask for more, you are hated!
URM1: So suddenly it becomes about the judgement of others, rather than voice of the self? But I won't object.
sjcakes: which highlights the issue us confusing self w others. Needing others approval/conforming vs knowing/living u
probabilism: @URM1 yes. i would have loved it, had you objected it nonetheless :)
URM1: No, I understand how society plays us, and that to be able to lead peaceful lives we must alter our yeses and nos.
sjcakes: we forget it us a game and play it with our real person instead of PLAYING IT.
probabilism: as socially developed animals,perhaps we can make a choice & not let society outplay us. its not individualism am talking.
URM1: Sure we can. But do we? The ideal affirmations and negations hardly ever happen.
probabilism: yes yes. but that is not good enough reason to not enough try it.
URM1: Definitely. Some idealists are always needed to give this world hope. You pick your yes, I'll pick mine.
KdProQuo: That reply just made me smile. I agree. Moral compromises are required and are highly malleable.
probabilism: and I'll stand by your side to back you up. idealists fail because they stand up but never stand by.
---
KdProQuo: Every grey has a black and white. Situations decide the intensity of either.
probabilism: and they equate in the end. my question is, why not equate it to start with.
URM1: But the question is does relativity ever take a backseat? Who can claim to be logical/emotional at all times?
sjcakes: I can CLAIM to be BOTH at all times.
probabilism: no one can claim so. but one must try to. this is exactly where bond b/w logic & belief comes in.
probabilism: but then if perception rises from my information or absence of it, where would belief stand? a hunch of logic?
sjcakes: (grinning) More things are perspective than even perspective wants to admit
KdProQuo: belief and logic rarely go hand in hand. belief is more instinctive. logical belief is science, yeah?
sjcakes: logic and belief. Depends.
probabilism: @KdProQuo i completely disagree with it.logic & belief are not different.to be honest, spending time with them tells you more
URM1: Sure they are opposing forces. But that does not stop us from choosing according to convenience.
probabilism: yup. and we can stop it. change the direction with belief. and proceed with logic.
URM1: But from time to time life makes us all select a black or a white, painful as it is. And we let 1 win - head or heart
sjcakes: pick red instead. Or green. Society will bitch and whinge. But after a moment will forget. But you won't.
probabilism: yes. ironically, if you make a habit out of it the pain subsides :)
sjcakes: the pain doesn't subside. You just get better at justifying your ignoring it
probabilism: you may be right about the ignoring part of it.

...No one still would probably know where it led. Apart from this blog post.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Dance with Dragons... and patience

I crawled through A Dance With Dragons (aDwD). I fought with all the demons that came along reading this amazing and epic series. I took a break and came back to finish this tome with a vengeance. And it paid. Take a bow Mr Martin. What an amazing ride it has been.

I liked the earlier book a lot too. Going apart from the general consensus that Book 4 was boring, I enjoyed the plot setting. aDwD was supposed to be marginally better than Book 4. Yes it is. It brings back the bigger and plot moving characters. You get Jon, Dany and the others I don't want to spoil. Even the ancillary characters that GRRM portrays really well. Davos, Tormund Giantsbane, Ser Archibald, Daario, Ser Barristan, Victarion, Mance... and so on. aDwD also takes the story ahead of Book 4. Even though about 2/3rd of aDwD runs parallel with Book 4, the remaining part is superbly fascinating and filled with elements that make the series so amazing.

Mr Martin, I am not just waiting for the next book in the series like an eager maiden waiting to get married, but also will scour the theories that have been building up and read up as much as possible before I plunge again in the superb world that you have created.

Then why the 4 stars? I would have liked to give it an additional 0.5 stars, but I tend to compare the book with Storm of Swords and no other. The book has left almost all the threads in such an interesting and cliffhanger like situations that the wait for the next book seems to be much longer than it hopefully would be. Thus clawing on the 1 elusive star.

Oh what a high his writing gives you. GRRM has changed the way I look at books. Superb. Left me aghast, Left me wanting for more. Left me with a smile.

---
A review I posted on Goodreads.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Control everything

I was watching the amazing George Carlin in this video called George Carlin on the Environment. What a man! Can you disagree with him? He speaks the truth, doesn't he?

I have seen Environmentalists who are trying to save the world but their own lifestyles are really posh and speaks otherwise. Excessive indulgence in cars, commodities, clothes, etc. Thorough confusion between needs and wants. Times when luxury has been amalgamated into these needs.

Anyway. Keeping these hackneyed lines apart, George Carlin made me realize one point. One very strong point.

Control. How humans want to control everything.

On the one hand humans want to fight the law against euthanasia, while on the other they want to save endangered species. Is it just me who sees the irony in that? It's deeper when you think about it. Further if you hear Mr Carlin speak.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shades of grey, sands of time and memories of yesterday!

Boats or Goats are No Antidotes;
Coats and Notes win the Votes;
Internalities Externalities, and rhyming Trivialities;
Strong Breeze, flock of Geese and stinging Honey Bees.

---

Groggy, soggy but a kissable froggy;
Hoggy, waggy but a cute doggy;
Lost aboard the magnificent ark;
All but bark and croak, and croak and bark.

---

...numbness and an empty bowl;
darkness drawn with charcoal;
blistered and battle worn soul;
aimless and without a goal...

---

Lyrics limericks and mossy sauce;
Cider spider and glossy boss;
Rattle battle and lone drone;
Shrewd rude and a prone grown!

---

Rhyme so small, its claustrophobic;
Answers long to questions rhetoric;
No choices, then facts are soporific;
terrific sick, highly painfully, toxic!

---

Rhyme easy;
Nothing dizzy;
Bubbly fizzy;
small n teasy!

---

Rings and bells some old some new;
Changing refreshing thoughts and views;
Useless rhymes I don't think and write to,
Wish a happy new years to you!

---

Someone had describe these as 'Distorted Art' on my Facebook. Status messages from Dec 2009.

This line sums it up really well:
'Nothing takes the past away like the future. - Madonna'

Friday, September 16, 2011

Of Happiness

We keep waiting. For Happiness. Waiting and Waiting. Reading books and realizing that those are not the voices that you want to hear. Searching for it around in the trees with leaves that are in various colours of green. Trying to understand the wind and it’s whispers. Going beyond the feeling that life itself could be a placebo-offering.

Waiting…

Looking at the sky and trying to figure out the myriad shapes that the clouds offer. The shades that dance around the tendrils of the clouds in response to the music played by the sun. On seeing the pigeon and imagining it eat the clouds for you. Realizing that setting up an order in the chaos is simple, following it is difficult.

Trying to paint sense on words that don’t make sense at all.

Waiting…

Being afraid of the purple door. The purple part being the scary part. Smiling at your folly. Mistaking a smile for happiness.

Paramananda. Ultimate pursuit.

Anand. Minor target.

Happiness, realizing that Anand is made up of a indefinite article and a coordinating conjunction.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Postpal

Oh God. Another resolve is getting perturbed.

This time, it is the resolve of posting at least one post per month this year. The other one that I have already broken is of abstaining from buying books till the end of this year. Can't help but break the book related declaration, since I am reading the 4th book from A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF) and have to buy the latest one from the series.

This series is also keeping me occupied for most of the time. The crazy theories that I tend to make on how the ever-twisting plot might move ahead, some of the ideas that echo from reddit and other review sites, day-in-day-out trudging around with books that are at least 1000-paged, oh and the second half of Storm of Swords. The series seeps in so much that I, like many others, am already searching for saviors that will fill up the gap and stop me from entering a big ASoIaF withdrawal.

As a result, flipkart wishlist is growing and growing and growing.

---

Meanwhile, I read a couple of interesting posts that I would like to share. This fiction-with-a-disclaimer piece called Bottle It Up and another brilliant one from the Grey-cell-gardens of the Ordinary man - The Anna Hazare situation (The latter is closest in-context-piece for the title).

---

Also. India-England test series. Sigh.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

His position on Whiskey

In 1952, Armon M. Sweat, Jr., a member of the Texas House of Representatives, was asked about his position on whiskey. What follows is his exact answer (taken from the Political Archives of Texas):

"If you mean whiskey, the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples Christian men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fiber of my being.

However, if by whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life's great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into Texas treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.

This is my position, and as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle."

---
Found this excellent and eloquent piece from a link shared on Twitter.

What is YOUR position on Whiskey?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

About Hyperion

I stumbled upon this series called Hyperion Cantos. Some of the ideas the books present are really interesting. The first two books (Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion) from the series have been revered in the Science Fiction community. To get to know more about this book, backed by the fact that I haven't yet read much of science fiction, I posted this question on reddit:

Are there things that I should know / read up before I pick up Hyperion?


On of the reddit users named slightlyKiwi gave a very interesting answer:

You really don't need to read the Keats. Or indeed know anything about sci-fi in general.
However, for maximum enjoyment it can help to know one or two things:
  • In the first book, each of the Pilgrim's tells their own Tale. This is modelled, loosely, on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. You don't need to know this.
  • Each of the Pilgrims is from a different era of the Hegemony's history(ish), and, to mirror this each of their tales is told in a different style from the history of science fiction. Brawne Lamia's, for instance, in very Gibson cyberpunk, while Colonel Kassad's owes much to classic space opera. Again, you don't need to know this.
  • Judaism, Islam, and Christianity have a common story in their holy books wherein Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his only son. Abraham accepts, and God spares this life of the child at the last moment. This concept is found throughout the books. You don't need to know this.
  • There are lots of references to the Wizard of Oz. You don't need to know this.
  • In real life, a 'shrike' is a type of bird that kills more than it eats, and hangs the spare corpses on the thorns of a tree. You don't need to know this.
TLDR: There's lots to know, but you don't need to know any of it. The book fills in most of the blanks admirably.

---

Now to just work my way out through A Song of Ice and Fire...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lane of Memories :: Need is a Want

Mandrake smashes his glass on the wall.

All your time is not your own
It's real hard to find out why
It's real hard to say good-bye
To move on down the line...


"Your memory is all that I have." He slurs. "Your memory is what I cherish, Your voice is the only melody, Your images I treasure so much."

Both your eyes wide open
You see the shape I'm in
It wasn't of my choosing
It's only bones and skin
And I will plead no contest
If loving you's a crime
So go on and find me guilty
Just one more fucking time


He pours another glass in the wee hours of the morning. Takes a sip. Stumbles across to the wall.

All your life is in your head
All you dreams are in your sleep
And if your dreams are hid too deep
They're just a waste of time
When you try to chase the dream
You never seem to know the time
You never recognize the signs
And nothing's what it seems


Smashes the glass again. Screams in Pain.

"Memory, Voice, Images." He pauses, waits for his tears to douse some of the anger.

All life is a mystery,
All things pass you by in time
All things just a perfect crime
It's just the way we are
All instincts let you down
It's not a case of love in vain
It's not a case of love insane
It's enough to break your heart


"I don't want you to be like her. I want her."

And so all our years together
Weren't worth a fucking dime
So go on and find me guilty
Just one more fucking time

---

The song playing in the background is 'One More Fucking Time' by Motorhead.

Earlier: Lane of Memories :: Follow you into the Dark

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dangling Participle

A consonant walks into a bar and sits down next to a vowelly girl.

"Hi!" he says. "I'll alphabet that you've never been here before."

"Of cursive I have," she replies. "I come here, like, all the time. For me, it's parse for the course."

The consonant remains stationery, enveloped by the vowelly girl's letter-perfect charm.

"Here's a cute joke" he states declaratively. "Up at the North Pole, St. Nicholas is the main Claus. His wife is a relative Claus. His children are dependent Clauses. Their Dutch uncle is a restrictive Claus. And Santa's elves are subordinate Clauses. As a group, they're all renoun Clauses."

Then he lays on some more dashes of humor: "Have you heard about the fellow who had half his digestive tract removed? He walked around with a semi-colon."

"Are you like prepositioning me?" asks the vowelly girl.

"I won't be indirect. You are the object of my preposition. Your beauty phrase my nerves. Won't you come up to my place for a coordinating conjunction?"

"I don't want to be diacritical of you, but you're like, such a boldfaced character!" replies the vowelly girl. "Like do I have to spell it out to you, or are you just plain comma-tose? You're not my type, so get off my case!"

Despite his past perfect, he is, at present, tense.

"Puhleeze, gag me with a spoonerism!" she objects. "As my Grammar and other correlatives used to say, your mind is in the guttural. I resent your umlautish behavior. You should know what the wages of syntax are. I nominative absolutely decline to conjugate with you fer sure!"

"You get high quotation marks for that one," he smiles, "even if I think you're being rather subjunctive and moody about all this. I so admire your figure of speech that I would like to predicate my life on yours." So he gets himself into an indicative mood and says, "It would be appreciated by me if you would be married to me."

"Are you being passive aggressive?" she asks interrogatively.

"No, I'm speaking in the active voice. Please don't have a vowel movement about this. I simile want to say to you, 'Metaphors be with you!' I would never want to change you and become a misplaced modifier. It's imperative that you understand that I'm very, very font of you and want us to spend infinitive together."

"That's quite a compliment," she blushes -- and gives him appositive response.

At the ceremonies they exchange wedding vowels about the compound subject of marriage.

Finally, they say, "I do," which is actually the longest and most complex of sentences -- a run-on sentence, actually -- one that we all hope won't turn out to be a sentence fragment.

Then the minister diagrams that sentence and says, "I now pronouns you consonant and vowel."

They kiss each other on the ellipsis and whisper to each other, "I love you, noun forever."

Throughout their marriage, their structure is perfectly parallel and their verbs never disagree with their subjects.

After many a linking verve, comma splice and interjection, they conceive the perfect parent thesis. Then come some missing periods and powerful contractions, and into the world is born their beautiful little boy.

They know it is a boy because of its dangling participle.

-Author Unknown
---

This is one of the best e-mail I have received as a forward so far. Truly enjoyable. More so if said aloud with a Brit accent and sarcasm!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blank

Woke up.

The friendly heaviness in the head was back. Friendly because of the frequency. The chemicals involved in the heaviness had somehow convinced my mind that I needed to be angry. I needed to submit to an unknown controlling rage.

Normally when I suddenly wake up, I realize the heavy beating of the heart. This time the chemicals had masked all that noise. Somehow I realised that these organic molecules had also meddled with my dream sequence. Directing it, altering it midway. Giving me the manipulative power and turning this power against me. Leaving me in a confused unfamiliar levitation.

No song playing in the head, no music in the mind. Blank. Chemical Rage.

Welcome Stranger.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mobile Phones!

I wanted to keep the title as 'My Journey with Mobile Phones so far' but, that sounds a bit over the board, doesn't it? Also, then there hardly would have been anything else for me to write. Just the model number and photo. On the other hand, you can read these two posts: One and Two that have better and wittier things to say about phones and related.

Me, well I am just turning this blog into a diary. Sort of. At least for a while. So, here I go, the phones I have used so far:

1) My first phone, the Nokia 3310, was one of the best sellers available in the market when 'affordable' phones were just introduced in India. The time when service providers had stopped charging for incoming calls and outgoing calls had become really cheap! Every mobile phone was competing with the 1-Rupee coin boxes!
Oh and Snakes! \m/
2) Then with the Nokia 2600 came the colour screen!
3) Then the funky Nokia 3220. What with the disco lights on the side panel!
4) I am sure most of you are familiar with the oh-so-familiar Nokia 6600. My first phone where I used apps, games, new and funky ringtones! Oh and the sturdiness? Is there even a doubt that this phone was made for WAR! Battle Tank of a Phone!
5) My first Sony Ericsson! The sleek little K550i. After the slower OS, the Sony OS was a breeze to work with. Oh and the camera slider and side button to shoot pictures. Introduction to phone Web browsing. Wow!
6) And currently, yet already old now, a QWERTY phone. Nokia E63. Phone Web browsing taken to a higher degree. Chat applications, e-mail on phone. Addiction. Hmmm!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stanley Ka Dabba

Stanley Ka Dabba is a lovely movie. Of course Dabba is a metaphor (at this point you would go like, "That's elementary my dear Watson!") and this movie is not just about Dabbas! I got a feeling while watching the movie that some part of it is anachronistic, specially the innocence shown in the kids. Do you see that so often in kids these days? Do the relations show in the movie, the expressions that the kids show so vividly on their faces come as naturally? I guess some elders would associate more with some of these kids than the kids. Maybe I am wrong though!

Yes it's a kids movie but not made for kids. They wouldn't get the nuances. Grow up and then maybe you can do a dekko. Otherwise, all you would hear from kids is that they are getting more hungry!

One thing is for sure though, there is a 'Rosy Miss' in every guy's life. *sigh*

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bal Gandharv, Natrang and questions

These days, people seem to take extreme views about any movie they see. Hate or Like. Hardly we (maybe just I) get to hear any opinion that lies in the middle, or tending towards either side. Is it because movies are made such or is it because people are just being opinionated or rather lazy? Anyway, that is not the point of this post.

This piece of comment was shared with me regarding the Marathi movie Bal Gandharva“I heard they have shown the negative side of Bal Gandharva in the second half of the movie.”

Another comment I heard was, “Subodh Bhave (the actor who brilliantly portrays Bal Gandharva) is known to play negative roles, can people accept him otherwise?”

The negative side that is faintly alluded to in the first comment (and is entirely debatable) is the character keeping relationships outside marriage. I would not like to touch upon the second comment.

Are we as a collective audience, mature enough to see these movies as an Art / Creation rather than just a biopic or movie? What do you say?

This is not a review of Bal Gandharva, it’s been done quite a bit by a lot of people. The Internet will lead you to laurels and brick-bats about this movie.

I loved the movie. The actor got well moulded into the great giant character and carried it off with a finesse that can be squeezed in about 3 hours. I especially liked the way the story was presented. It was carried out from the Point of View of the characters surrounding the Protagonist. This POV direction was the best part of the movie. It was like a dedication to the central character, by the people around him. The sets are good. The art direction and costumes are good. There is light humour that can be well appreciated. The pace is good enough for a ~ 3-hour movie yet slow enough to keep you interested. I even liked the small role played by Prachiti Mhatre as Gohar Jaan. Her expressions in one of the songs was really amazing. (This review says otherwise.) Overall, it is a good movie that interests you the about the art Natya Sangeet, talks a little bit about the history of this art form and some of the Giants who gave up their lives towards the art form. For a lot of people who have lost connection with their roots because of whatever reasons, this movie does inform of a lot of the forgotten history.

The movie reminded me of another awesome Marathi movie Natrang (directed by Ravi Jadhav, who directed Bal Gandharv too. An article here), a story of a man who dedicated his life and a lot of other things to another art form Lavani. Somehow while watching Bal Gandharv, I started thinking about this one scene from Natrang where the actor, fully clothed in a King’s costume, is standing in the rain and crying. Clearly, one of the most poignant scenes from the movie. Natrang is a lovely Marathi movie of late, about an artist and the art within him and around him.

I am sure a lot of people found Natrang offensive too. Especially the lot that negatively judges a movie based on one or two scenes arguing about moralities.

Moralities! When will we learn to accept that the world is not just black and white? The world will be more peaceful if we accept the greyness and some other things that are inherent and cannot be changed.

It is ok to form opinions, but it’s a good idea to be open to other ideas as well.

---

A family comes out of the theater after watching Bal Gandharv. The parents are all happy to have succeeded in pulling their reluctant kids along to see a movie about the history of music and a certain art form called Natya Sangeet. Parents keep telling the kids about how great Bal Gandharv was, how great his dedication was and all.

What if the Parents go ahead and enroll the kids for the summer cricket camps just because a lot of people in the society have done the same? What if they scold their kid who loves to read comic books because they are not actual books? What if they just don’t want their kid to grow up and go against their family just like Bal Gandharv just because it was always the Art first?

Some questions are better left unanswered. The questions themselves are scary.

---

I have left many open ends in this post. I hope to tackle them slowly and steadily.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Music from Tralfamadore

It begins like this:

Listen:
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

It ends like this:
Poo-tee-weet?
(Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut)

Thus begins the journey to the Slaughterhouse-Five and thus it ends. Not mine, Billy Pilgrims. Though I would have loved the see Dresden as described by the indifferent Billy when he enters the town as a POW. Now, I can very well do a search for pictures on the Web and find them. But the moment is gone, or as the Tralfamadorians say, because this moment simply is.

Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment.

Is it an anti-war book? Maybe I need to read the book again.
Is it supposed to be humour disguised in pain or pain disguised in humour? Maybe I need to read the book again.
Is Billy a hero, an anti-hero or just a survivor? Maybe I need to read the book again.
Does Billy travel in time or Time travels nonetheless what Billy does? Maybe I need to read the book again.
Is Tralfamadore really three hundred million miles away from earth? Or does it exists right here on earth? This I will have to find out myself. Maybe Kilgore Trout can help.


Really I need to read the book again. To find out the meaning within the meaning and the meaning without the meaning. To figure out Billy P. To figure out Montana Wildhack. To fathom the simpleton Kilgore Trout and to eventually read one of his books - Venus on the Half-Shell.

RIP Edgar Derby. A teapot is never harmless. So it goes.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I See You

This small story is written by Paulo Coelho. Found it in my mailbox. It's beautiful.

Let's suppose that two people go into a forest to put out a small fire. Afterward, when they emerge and go over to a stream, the face of one is all smeared with black, while the other man's face is completely clean.

My question is this: Which of the two will wash his face?

"That's a silly question. The one with the dirty face, of course."

"No, the one with the dirty face will look at the other man and assume that he looks like him. And, vice versa, the man with the clean face will see his colleague covered in grime and say to himself: I must be dirty too. I'd better have a wash."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Anti-war

This whole anti-war theme is going on my mind, fueled by Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. So a Google search led to another and I chanced upon a song.

Sam Stone by John Prine. Soulful. Left me speechless.

YouTube link

While listening, think what 'Sam Stone' depicts, think what the phrase 'Little pitchers have big ears' means. Words have an immense power. Voice is an intense way to express. Hats off John Prine.

Lyrics:

Sam Stone came home,
To his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas.
And the time that he served,
Had shattered all his nerves,
And left a little shrapnel in his knee.
But the morphine eased the pain,
And the grass grew round his brain,
And gave him all the confidence he lacked,
With a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back.

Chorus:
There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don't stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.
Mmm....

Sam Stone's welcome home
Didn't last too long.
He went to work when he'd spent his last dime
And Sammy took to stealing
When he got that empty feeling
For a hundred dollar habit without overtime.
And the gold rolled through his veins
Like a thousand railroad trains,
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose,
While the kids ran around wearin' other peoples' clothes...

Repeat Chorus:

Sam Stone was alone
When he popped his last balloon
Climbing walls while sitting in a chair
Well, he played his last request
While the room smelled just like death
With an overdose hovering in the air
But life had lost its fun
And there was nothing to be done
But trade his house that he bought on the G. I. Bill
For a flag draped casket on a local heroes' hill.

(source: http://www.jpshrine.org/lyrics/songs/jpsamstone.html)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Music never gets old

The other day M and I were talking about the great era of 1965-75 and the music that was brought in the world during that time. We spoke about bands like Steppenwolf, The Who, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and mentioned others like Neil Young, Beatles, Doors… Oh well I can go on and on!

Point is that during the discussion, there was a realization that even after 40+ years these are the bands we go to get submerged in music. Everyone follows the usual track of pop to rock to metal. Some stay with a specific genre. Some travel back and forth. But most of us, go back to that era we call the Rock and Roll era or the Classic rock era. The time when bands explored different genre of music, added mystic and substance to music and tried to understand and write about humans, human emotions, human atrocities and well drugs that helped to colour these pictures even further.

The irony is, there is surely a big generation gap between that era and today. Look at our parents. We always complain about the generation gap and difference in the thought process.

With music, well, you know. We all know. It is imbibed in us and we still are looking to explore more. Go back in time.

Music is the true religion.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lane of Memories :: Follow you into the Dark

The happenings of the day still pounded Mandrake's brain with all the residual noise and chaos. It was a busy day and he made sure he kept days busy, just to ensure that he does not get lost in the past.

“But why should I be afraid of the past? That’s where I belong.”

Mandrake smiled in irony as he poured himself a stiff one. He really needed one today and even the glass could have realized his craving with that touch. Even the dark night that surrounded him could sense his longing.

Days like these, when Mandrake kept himself very busy, are the days that conspired against him and took him back to Mehnaz.

He gulped half of his second glass of whiskey and eased himself on the sofa. His flight was ready to take him to scenes of the past, to his villa that oversaw his beautiful memories. He was fighting with time and it was all messed up. Yesterday, yesterday’s yesterday and today.

His time portal was opening up to take him along. He gulped down his sixth glass and submitted himself to the clearing noise and space. The clearing then gave away to a moment, from the thousand others.

“I am sorry to call you so late baby, but just wanted to tell you that I am glad you came back for me.”

“I had to, Rake sweety.”

“You know Naz, I won’t love anyone as I love you. It just wouldn’t be possible.”

“Rake, don’t say won’t. I won’t say won’t. Won’t has a tendency of proving us wrong.”


Silence. Mandrake was just overwhelmed by his feelings for Mehnaz.

“But Naz baby, I am really glad you came,” was all that Mandrake could mutter.

“Rake, don’t say that again. That just makes it so formal. Didn’t you say once, Own me a little baby.”

Mandrake just smiled to himself. Wondering why he isn’t whispering in her ear and not the phone.

“Ok I won’t, don’t want to drag you too much in my quicksand.”

“Rake baby, I love you Ok, I always will. I'm always there beside you and I'll come running whenever you need me like today. But please don’t push me away.”

“No Naz, I just can’t push you away. You are my lifeline.”

“And I won’t let you push me away baby, I never will.”

Then Mehnaz starts softly singing on the phone,

…Love of mine some day you will die,
But I'll be close behind,
I'll follow you into the dark…

Mandrake slips into the darkness. His present locked in the past where he truly lives.

--

Earlier - Lane of Memories :: The conclusion
The song is - I'll follow you into the dark by Death Cab for Cutie

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I am You

I am the ring master. I carry a whip. *slash*

There the lion will roar, as expected. Yes, let it roar. Roar as much as it wants too. I have removed its teeth and I bring his food. I am his master. I own him. I control him. *slash*

This is my ring. This is my show.

You have to see me. Leave your thoughts behind. I will anyway force you to do so. I just have to get you angry, and I know how to do so. Take care to come for my show and I will show you how I care the least for you...

I only care about myself. *slash*

This is my world. This is my kingdom.

I am the king and I am the joker. I am the law and I am the jest. Laugh as much as you will at the joker, but he will make you cry too. It's only I who will make you angry. Anger is pure they say. Oh how I use it as a weapon! Bow down before the king, look at his power in awe. Look at my power. You might have doubts about me, but not me. I just turn a blind eye towards myself. My power is that I can ignore myself and then I am able to gather my inherent insecurity and channel it towards a bravado.

I swing the gymnasts. *slash*

This is my tent. This is my performance.

I hold the strings that hold the gymnasts. I control how they move. I decide their positions. I frighten them too. For they are a part of this picture that I paint everyday. A portrait I paint for myself. I am the great one you ever dreamed of. I am the one you want to be. I am humble at times too, but that is just for you to see.

This is my circus, this is my show. *slash*

I don't perform for myself, but I perform so that you look at me... in awe. *slash*

*slash*

I feed my own ego and make you feed me some of my own. I never cared for self esteem because that is just a word.

You will go home afterwards, happy and content, but not me. I am nothing without the feeling I get when I control you.

Illusion it maybe is, but an illusion too starts with an 'I'.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Favourite singers

A few days back, #10favoritesingers was a trending topic on Twitter. I contributed to that hash tag too. My choice would be predictable if you have noticed the names I have mentioned before on this blog. To say that they are really well known singers would be an understatement!

But here are my 10 favourite singers in no particular order:
  • Jim Morrison - The one who opens The Doors for you and me.
  • Chris Cornell - What A Voice. Former Soundgarden and Audioslave band member.
  • James Hetfield - Household name. Metallica front man.
  • Robert Plant - He was a part of the Gods also known as Led Zeppelin.
  • Devendra Banhart - He has a melody to his voice that reminds me a lot of Jim Morrison.
  • Eddie Vedder - Pearl Jam front man. I am sure his song Last Kiss melts you too.
  • Dido - The only female singer in my list of ten. Her voice is sweetness. Thank You for the White Flag.
  • Serj Tankian - Crazy singer. But what a variation in his voice. The world knows him as the bearded singer from System of a Down. His solo album is good too.
  • Thom Yorke - Listen to Nude. You would know about his awesomeness. The big pillar behind the band Radiohead.
  • Freddie Mercury - Oh you know him.
Maybe later I will expand on this list.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Searching for a translated epic

It was one of those days, when I was obsessed to find out the best available condensed English translation of the Mahabharata. I hunted the web as usual and found a plethora of opinion. I came across the following translations that people have frequently mentioned:
  • The Mahabharata by John D. Smith
  • Mahabharata by William Buck
  • The Mahabharata by R.K Narayan
  • Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari
  • The Mahabharata: A Modern Rendering, by Ramesh Menon
  • Mahabharata by Tr. Kamala Subramaniam
As you can see, most of them are Indian authors. It is obvious, being an Indian epic and a Sanskrit text would lead to it being translated by Sanskrit scholars. Where can you find most of them? (That is my thought, highly debatable!)

The condensed versions run from about 200 pages to some up to 1000 pages. These pages carry as many stories as much possible from the original text that has 100,000 verses. You might understand the dilemma that goes in picking up a version of the great epic.

Here are some things that I had in my mind:
  • There is no way I can sustain enough patience to go through the texts such as the complete English translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli. (The digital version is available online. Link here.) Even the J. A. B. van Buitenen version is rather big for me to plunge into.
  • Having said that, I do not prefer a version that compromises the multidimensional characters that bring about the Mahabharata and hence, want a version that does justice to the huge text and the myriad characters.
  • I wanted a version that will present the situations that made the characters who they are. We all know the stories and we all know the demarcations into good and bad. Some of us now are interested to know the about the grey side part that overlaps both. I am one of them.
  • Going ahead when I read books like Mrityunjay (Mahabharata from Karna’s POV), or the English translation of Randaamoozham (Bhim’s POV) done by the revered Prem Panicker (A digital copy is available here for free download, review here.), or Palace of Illusions (Draupadi’s POV) by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, or Yuganta by Iravati Karve (link here), I should be able to fit them in the larger picture and understand the nuances of each and every character as retold by the authors.
(Some more related books posted here.)

Faced with these constraints I stumbled upon http://jaiarjun.blogspot.com/ (Better late than...). He somehow convinced me to select Kamala Subramaniam’s Mahabharata (post's here and here). This decision was also backed by favourable reviews on Amazon (link here). I also read a negative review (link here) about her version that the sentences are slightly broken, but I believe that a text that is originally in Sanskrit will have its own characteristics when translated to English.

I was also convinced to buy a two volume Mahabharata rendition by Ramesh Menon (link here), and I may give it a shot too. Just that I wanted to start with something smaller.

After saying all this, the only Mahabharata related book that I have read so far is Radheya by Ranjit Desai. It is, as the name suggests, Karna’s story. Brilliant story and beautiful rendering of the characters. It made me realize how strongly Duryodhana has been portrayed as an outright villain without understanding any facets of his character. I wrote a post about this thought here. So I hope I get a better insight in the epic that Mahabharata is and delve into it a bit deeper.

To sum it all, I would quote Jai Arjun Singh: “...one that places us right amidst the characters...” is a feeling that should be strong when I take up a book.

---

On a related note – is it a boon or a disadvantage that we have so many opinions out there that we tend to get carried away towards either sides before arriving to a knowledgeable and a very individual understanding?

Moot question.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Father of the Nation

In the near future, a man strolls in a dingy alley searching for a recent book that is banned all over the country. He finds the book stall and walks up to that friendly book seller.

“Who Gandhi waala book hai?”
“Haina Sir, kal hi naya pirated stock aaya hai. Ek copy aapke liye?”

The man smiles and waits till the book seller gets a copy.

“Iska 150 rupees hoga sir.”

The man doesn’t usually bargain. He removes two notes and hands them over. While handing them over he notices the picture on the note. Father of the nation. He smiles to himself, picks up the book and leaves.

On the way back, he thinks about the note and the picture on it. Ironic. His government bans the book that maligns the Father of the nation. Or so the people-in-charge think. The same people who get bribes, gifts in the form of notes with the Father’s picture on it.

Same note that is given to the policemen.

Same note that is flung on bar dancers in already banned dance bars.

Same note that is used to make fake currency but with the same old Father on it.

The man can’t help but smile. Ironic democracy. Yeah, that is the best way to sum up my country.

---

In an Outlook article, the author says, "In a country that calls itself a democracy, it is shameful to ban a book that no one has read, including the people who are doing the banning."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

To err is human...

To err is human, to get addicted to Twitter more so.

To err is human, to get editorial comments more so.

To err is human, to prioritize everything else but the deadline more so.

To err is human, to realize it later more so.

To err is human, to not learn even after the realization more so.

To err is human, to write it in a post more so.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Being Human

(Click the picture to see an enlarged image)

The spotted deers were seen in the Tadoba forest. Being Human is something we all know. That was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the horns clash.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Do you call yourself a Poet?

I sometimes did. But now that I have read this awesome set of verses (yeah poetry) called MY COLORLESS SOLITUDE, I am skeptical and very very disturbed.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Poignant

The boy in me relates to this post by Rosemarie Urquico. If you are a bibliophile, go hit the link.

If you are too lazy, read this excerpt from the same post:

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Frog

The frog is rocking his well, thinking it is rocking the world.

I posted this line on Twitter sometime back and it got me thinking. Who is this frog I keep alluding to in my thoughts whenever I come across a reincarnation of this frog as a human?

I remember reading this story in a book that had speeches and works by Swami Vivekananda. Yeah, I got all those books when I had been for a camp in the Swami Vivekananda center. Point is, this frog story has stayed with me for long. It is the simplicity of the story and the fact that you see it so often in the world around you that brings it closer to reality than most other stories.

The frog who thinks that his well is the entire universe. The frog who thinks that there is so much in this well of his that it is the best thing ever. The frog who is proud and looks down upon the other mighty sea folks who have explored the unknown ocean.

The little frog who is the king of his own world.

But would you blame the frog for that? This Chinese story ends with the frog realizing how little the well is as compared the ocean. It is mildly shocked and is upset.

Does this happen in reality? Humans are more likely to turn to their own well and be the Lord Frog of that splendid well. My well is bigger than yours. My well is shinier, damper and filled with delicious edible creatures.

Humans are also more likely to realize that their well is not the world and keep complaining about it. Yeah that is possible too. Do you know how tough it is to maintain my well? I have to do tons of things to keep it a good place. What about you big shelled turtle, the seasons take care of your uncontrollable ocean. What would you know!

I really don’t know what side should I take when I want to allude to the frog now. Maybe both, maybe some other dimension would come up.

I wish at times that I was Sigmund Freud.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who Am I?

Demetri Martin tries to answer the question Who Am I? in The New Yorker.

One of the best posts I have read in recent times. Here is an excerpt that refers to:

Batman -

I am Batman, but only on Halloween. And then I am not invited to many parties. But I am fine with that, because that just makes me an even more accurate Batman (because Batman does not go to parties as Batman but only as Bruce Wayne). I am right about this.

One of my favourite song by The Beatles -

I am the Walrus, but not the one you’re probably thinking of. I am the Other Walrus, the one who is less the Walrus in the sense of legendary music and more the Walrus in the sense of his tendency to lie around on a beach for too long.

Go read!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A decade on...

Adi had a tough day at school. Being a 10 year old is not easy. All that grammar that schools keep piling up. Transitive verbs, Intransitive verbs, Infinitives, Gerunds... it is never too easy for a kid who is continuously thinking of the upcoming episode of Black Butler on Animax.

Like most of the other 10 year old kids, he was just growing up. The hard way.

Adi bangs the door after ringing the bell twice. He was furious for being kept outside the door for so long. Normally his mother didn't take so much time to open the door.

"Give me a minute," came gruff shout from behind the door and suddenly his Dad opened the door.
"Adi, you need to learn to be patient boy. This haste will lead you nowhere!"
"Hmph! How come you came home early dad and where is Mom?"
"Well, your mother has an office party to attend this evening so both of us are bachelors out here!"
"Dad, but I am hungry. Can you give me some food?"
"Sure you hungry little pig, there is some rice left over from yesterday, I will just heat it up for you."

Dad heats up the rice and keeps the plate ready on the table while Adi washes himself and comes to eat. He notices a glass in Dad's hand with some dark brown fluid.

"Dad, why do you keep drinking that gross smelling, ugly tasting fluid?"

Dad smiles. One of his tipsy naughty smiles.

"At my age, even you would know!"
"Eeks, stop with your usual heavy stuff Dad!"
"Say hello to the real word, boy!"
"DAD"
"Stop trying to eat and eat, boy!"
"DAAAD," Adi shouts. "Will you please stop all that and give me a spoon?"
"That's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth."
"What truth Dad?"
"That there is no spoon."

---

Couldn't help it! Been a decade since the movie was released and still we are so much influenced. This is a dedication of some sorts.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Four Horsemen

Just this morning, everyone on my Twitter time line started listening to Metallica. What an influence they have been, and will always be.

I am just listing down some of my favourite Metallica tracks, apart from the anthems. Nothing more.

Album: Kill 'Em All
  • Seek & Destroy
Album: Ride the Lightning
  • Fight Fire with Fire
  • For Whom The Bell Tolls
Album: Master of Puppets
  • Disposable Heroes
  • The Thing That Should Not Be
  • Leper Messiah
  • Damage Inc.
Album: ...And Justice for All
  • Blackened
  • Eye of The Beholder
  • The Shortest Straw
  • Harvester of Sorrow
  • To Live Is to Die
  • Dyers Eve
Album: Metallica
  • My Friend of Misery
Album: Load
  • The House Jack Built
  • Bleeding Me
  • King Nothing
  • Thorn Within
  • The Outlaw Torn
Album: ReLoad
  • Bad Seed
  • Where The Wild Things Are
  • Fixxxer
Album: St. Anger
  • Sweet Amber
Album: Death Magnetic
  • Suicide & Redemption
  • Cyanide
  • All Nightmare Long
  • Broken, Beat & Scarred
Clearly ...And Justice is probably my favourite album. I remember buying this cassette using the deposit money I got back from college, without telling parents! What a prized possession that has been.

\m/\m/

Friday, February 11, 2011

Solitude

All around we see people who want to be the centre of attraction in a crowd. We see folks who 'have to' have attention of everyone they are sitting with. To meet this objective, they act funnier that needed, go on a I-will-mock-others-unnecessarily trip, consistently pick on someone or just try to gather sympathy or pity.

That and a lot other things. The 'I' is very pronounced even when they are sitting in a group. You don't have to start every sentence with an 'I'. 'I' is within and without. Everyone has to cater to that one 'I'.

And then there are some who love solitude. Less but right participation in groups. Fun loving people. Who just watch the court being jested by the 'I'. They more often than not smile. Smile within and without.

And there is Mr. Charles Bukowski who wrote this:
"I've never been lonely. I've been in a room - I've felt suicidal. I've been depressed. I've felt awful - awful beyond all - but I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me... or that any number of people could enter that room. In other words, loneliness is something I've never been bothered with because I've always had this terrible itch for solitude. It's being at a party, or at a stadium full of people cheering for something, that I might feel loneliness. I'll quote Ibsen, "The strongest men are the most alone." I've never thought, "Well, some beautiful blonde will come in here and give me a fuck-job, rub my balls, and I'll feel good." No, that won't help. You know the typical crowd, "Wow, it's Friday night, what are you going to do? Just sit there?" Well, yeah. Because there's nothing out there. It's stupidity. Stupid people mingling with stupid people. Let them stupidify themselves. I've never been bothered with the need to rush out into the night. I hid in bars, because I didn't want to hide in factories. That's all. Sorry for all the millions, but I've never been lonely. I like myself. I'm the best form of entertainment I have. Let's drink more wine!"

Eloquent.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I am Jack's ear that hears the familiar tiger roar

We all read and like Calvin and Hobbes. Some of us absolutely love these amazing characters by Bill Watterson.

Some of us love Fight Club too.

I am Jack's eye that stares at the eye of the tiger...

Would you ever think that there could be a connection between these two?

Read this article: "I Am Jack's Younger Self"

There is still so much to fathom, isn't there?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lane of memories :: The conclusion

With an angry screech, the car halted near the construction site. A man vehemently got out of the driver’s seat and started walking towards the person who seemed to be in charge at the construction site.

“Tell your people to stop the work.”

“But we have orders from the owner of this place. This whole area and the small lane has to be flattened for a mall.”

“Thanks for the details, but I own this place now and that gives me the orders to stop the work. Here is a copy of the land deal. For details, let me put you through to my lawyer.”

After the hurried phone call, the construction in charge gives a confused glance at the papers. He then looks at the man in front of him. The eyes that don’t speak but just stare.

“Is that evidence enough?” the man says.

The in charge yells at the people to stop the work.

The man stands there, looks at everyone in the field. Eye to Eye. Passing a message that seems to say, I am the owner now. Cold hard look.

He waits for a long time while the construction people pack off their stuff and start leaving the place. Meanwhile his second in command also reaches the place and talks with the construction in charge. Clarifies whatever little persisting doubt.

“New owner. New ideas. You are wasting your time. Please tell your people to wrap up soon and leave.”

---

Mandrake sits in his chair looking out of the balcony. A glass of whiskey and soda sits besides him. Whiskey on the rocks was never his type of drink. Whichever whiskey it was, it was always with soda.

He takes a peaceful sip and reflects on the day. It was a conclusion to the deal that he fought for almost a month, a hard fought month.

He had to be secretive about being the main person interested in the land deal. Very secretive. Under no circumstances he could allow his name to be revealed to the old owner.

He had a lot of poignant feelings attached to that piece land.

Specially the lane that went through the land. That little lane just besides the main road. The little lane that was lined by a few trees. A few nests that housed birds who added melody to the memories.

Mandrake just couldn’t allow Mehnaz to destroy this lane of memories. Memories they shared together.

---
More to come

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fight Club

I don't know if I will ever go on an acid trip. But if I do, I believe it will be an exaggerated and a very personal version of the feeling that I got while reading the Fight Club.

Psychosis.

"I know this because Tyler knows this."

Like a lot of people out there in the world, I have seen the movie first, loved it and then seen it a couple of times more. One of the best movies ever made.

Then comes the book.

Ever imagine what would happen if you were to be asphyxiated to the point when you cannot take it any more, you fight for oxygen and are then dropped in a pool of water? The mad rush of water through the empty vacuum that was reserved for air?

Probably a similar experience while reading the book. Probably.

This was freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.

The narration is beautiful, mind-blowing and gloriously insane.

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.

One will wonder what this book is all about. But then there are so many things that are there, just because they are there. No Questions asked and Answers, if any, lie hidden.

"If you don't know what you want," the doorman said, "you end up with a lot you don't."

Why 'Fight Club'?

After a night in fight club, everything in the real world gets the volume turned down. Nothing can piss you off. Your word is law, and if other people break that law or question you, even that doesn't piss you off.

What's the point?

Maybe self-improvement isn't the answer.... Maybe self-destruction is the answer.

That makes these men manly?

The gyms you go to are crowded with guys trying to look like men, as if being a man means looking the way a sculptor or an art director says.

But in the end:

Nothing was solved when the fight was over, but nothing mattered.

Brilliant. Just brilliant!

(The lines in italic are by Chuck Palahniuk from the book Fight Club.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In a fish bowl...


This photo reminded me of the eternally beautiful song by Pink Floyd:

...We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year

Running over the same old ground

What have we found?

The same old fears

Wish you were here...


Image courtesy: -Fearless-

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just tripping

"A love like that was a serious illness, an illness from which you never entirely recover."
— (The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems)

"The shortest distance between two points is often unbearable."

"It was like the beginning of life and laughter. It was the real meaning of the sun"
— (Factotum)

"...in that drunken place
you would
like to hand your heart to her
and say
touch it
but then
give it back."
— (The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems)

"Some lose all mind and become soul,insane.
some lose all soul and become mind, intellectual.
some lose both and become accepted"

All quotes by the genius Charles Bukowski.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Old Computer

I have this old computer bought sometime in 2002-03. Intel Celeron 950 Mhz processor with 128 MB RAM and a 40 GB drive. What a time that was! I was hooked on games like Half Life, Max Payne and Age of Empires. For hours together I used to sit and play and play. Food and Life were almost forgotten.

Then there was a minor incident during the monsoons when a current entered the Internet hub and passed on to the LAN card. Boom. I have seen fumes coming out of my CPU. That was the time when the motherboard got busted and the 40 GB drive turned into a read-only disk! Had to go through the usual rounds to find a similar motherboard (lack of funds to buy a new latest one was due to my habit of playing games throughout the day, you know how it is!) and fix the computer. Since I was keen on buying a new disk, a swanky new 80 GB one, I wanted some more time to gather enough funds. Then I borrowed a 4 GB disk from some one (I forgot) and used it for a month or so! 4 GB! (I still have that disk!)

So money was collected, new disk was bought and fitted and then it was back to game play! But alas, time and technology had paced so much that none of the new games would work on my old faithful computer. I tried playing GTA, but then at times the entire game went in to bullet time (Max Payne terminology) on its own and everything moved rather slowly. It did try my patience. A lot at that!

Now time has come to sell this long forgotten box since the space it occupied for a long time (it sat unused for almost 3 years now) is required for something else. Maybe my already 2 year old laptop will occupy that little space. And as to how much money I will get for the old 'dabba', as everyone prefers to call it, I am sure not more than 500 Rs. (I hope I get more though!)

Technology. It has surely traveled faster than time and continues to do so.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Importance of that 1%

I have told this adage times to many people before. It's almost becoming redundant now. That way it matches the name of this blog.

Adjective and Noun.

The adage:
"It is often said that 99% of the genetic makeup in Humans and Apes is similar. It is that 1% that makes all the difference. Which side are you on?"

Science Articles
: Here, Here and Here. Though it is not scientifically proven and can be argued about the figure 99%, it has got very less to do with the adage as it stands true in its own sense. Research does agree that at least 95% of the genes are similar. Isn't that enough?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Era

It's Prose now, you went away and so did Poetry
It's Chaos now, you questioned me and my Sanctity
It's I now, you took away a major part of Me
It's Freedom now, you seized hope and set yourself Free

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pyramid

Love
One Word
Plethora of feelings
But a curse inexplicable
Caught in an unrequited rhythm
Happiness, Anguish, Smiles, Pain, Memories, Present

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sitting below the stars
Below the darkened palms
A light of hope shapes in a glass
A hope of warmth in the night so far

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin : Review

There are writers and there are storytellers. George R.R Martin is a fantastic writer who excels at storytelling.

I recently completed reading A Game of Thrones, the first book from the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, by George R.R Martin (GRRM). I stumbled upon this book very late since this book was published in 1996. I guess I am still a newbie when it comes to fantasy books. Nevertheless, I would like to consider myself as a ‘maturing reader’. Yeah that sounds better!

A Game of Thrones (AGoT) is a fabulous and epic fantasy tale. It has all the ingredients that will make you keep reading, keep thinking and keep wondering about the stories and characters in the book. Keep in mind that it is a huge book. 800 pages in the first book itself. (There would be 7 books in the series, of which 4 are in the market and 5th is on its way.) However, each and every page is a pleasant read. (Pleasantness is highly subjective!)

Here are some of the things that make the book really really good:
  • Grey gritty characters – There are loads of these in the books. You keep wondering who are the good guys and who are the bad ones. You start trusting someone and suddenly an event happens that shatters this trust. Eventually you would know that you cannot trust anyone! As Cersei Lannister says, “In the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.” And surely, the characters keep thrilling you with their antics, cunningness and dialogues. And yes, the bad guys are really bad and the not so bad ones need to work really hard to fight them.
(A warning for you – This book is not Harry Potter. In fact it is far far away from Harry Potter. It is dark, it is gory and the language used is crass at times. So as to say, it is a very realistic fantasy book!)
  • POV and Parallel story-lines – The story is in the form of Third person limited point of view. This makes the story even more interesting as we see the world from the character’s perspective. Though there are only 8 POV’s (Mainly Starks of Winterfell), each POV is very distinctive. Three Parallel story-lines take place, viz.
    • The fight for the control over the Iron Throne of Westeros and its Seven Kingdoms
    • The Night’s Watch and the Wall in the north of Westeros
    • The Dragon Princess in Exile somewhere on a land East of Westeros that is separated by a Sea.
  • Action – I don’t know how to describe this but GRRM describes the major events (and there are many of these throughout the book) in such a manner that you cannot help but stop, think and read the earlier passage again. It is brilliantly articulated. It’s fast and cuts like a knife. It also leaves you hungry for more.
Apart from these factors, many other factors make reading the book a pleasure. The old worlds, armoured Knights their tales of bravery, battles (some of the descriptions are ethereal), some stories that are told in the book (the story about how the Dragons came into the world, Dragons that were used in the war by the Targaryens, the children of the forests, the song about the King and the boar, and many more…). Surely, everyone will have his or her moments of reading-pleasure.

You will have your own favourite characters too. My favourite character from the book is Tyrion Lannister, who is truly unforgettable. His humour (sarcastic and cunning), his brilliant world play and his role in the story is splendid. There are several others who make a mark, but some will stay in your mind forever!

I was initially planning to take a break between the AGoT and the next of the series ‘A Clash of Kings’, but I am not sure after completing the book.

I really loved reading AGoT, and I hope the series turns out to be as good too.

Note: HBO is making an original TV series on AGoT that will be shown from April 2011. If you haven’t seen the videos yet, check them on the HBO Website. I sincerely hope they telecast it simultaneously in India.

Updates: I came across this post discussing GRRM's writing as compared to Steven Erikson's style. He has described GRRM's style in a very detailed and articulate manner that at times is too critical, but is pretty much right.

Another post about GRRM's writing.

A positive review in this post.

Read another well written (though long) critical post on AGoT. Gosh there are so many of them!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Using Microsoft Word to check for Passive Voice

As a writer in the Technical Writing domain, one of the major rules that you look for is writing in Active voice. This fact is drilled down to the core of every Technical Writer. Of course there are instances where Passive voice is a must (test yourself by asking this!), but over all the voice has to be active since the words should help the user to perform certain actions.

There are several tools that you generally would like to use to check for passive voice. Relying on editors is one of them! But if you want to check it before it goes to the editor's desk and avoid the rebuke, simple tools that Microsoft® Word offers can help. You just need to activate the Style checker in Word, and it will do the work for you.

Use these steps to activate the Style checker in Microsoft Word 2007:
  1. Open Microsoft Word and click on the Office Button.
  2. Click on Word Options.
  3. In the Word Options window, click on Proofing.
  4. In the When correcting spelling and grammar area, click on Settings.
  5. In the Grammar Settings window look for the Writing Style field and select Grammar & Style. Click OK to save the settings.
After applying the Grammar and Style settings, Microsoft Word will highlight your passive sentences like this:
PS: A lot of you might be using this already, but am sure there are a lot of folks who want a simple tool to check for passive voice. Why not use Microsoft Word for starters?