Friday, March 30, 2007

New Face, New Voice

She plays both the guitar and the piano with equal dexterity and has a fantastic voice (and an even better false). Spent the entire day listening to her. My favourites are:-
She's the winner of this year's YouTube Awards for the Best Music Video. Check out Terra Naomi. She's quite good looking by the way!

By the way, also loved this song by the 'Sick Puppies'.

Good day at work!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Autobiography of a PC

The CPU cabinet now doubles up as an elevated platform on which the monitor rests. The off white colour of the monitor has changed to a dirty white with visible streaks of gray. I sit in one corner of the large hall shielded away from the daily exercise of the bai which resembles some form of sweeping. Lying amidst my more stylish, sleek and powerful brothers, people now look at me as if I am some relic from another age. My days of glory are long gone and from today I will have only one person who would care about me. Yet in the summer of 2002 in Delhi, things were so very different.

Equipped with a Intel P4 processor, 128 MB RD RAM an original Intel Mother Board and most importantly, Creative 2.1 Speakers, I was the best of the lot, a dream come true for my proud owner (henceforth to be referred to as Atish). And being among the first few of his batch to get one, he ensured that I got my fair share of limelight and adoration. The evening that he brought me home along with his 'I-know-stuff-about-computers' friend, the entire wing was abuzz with activity. Within minutes I was set up, hooked to the power supply and the LAN port and switched on. As the familiar Windows Welcome tune played and the bliss wallpaper appeared on the monitor, everybody let out a collective gasp, 'Chal gaya ...'

I was witness to the evolution of the IIT Delhi LAN. From the famous TOBU to the primitive and tedious IP Scanner and the memory intensive Sharescan and then finally to the longest standing avatar, DC++; P2P clients were the most popular applications that I made friends with. Virtually everything that ran on me depended on the LAN. Music, movies, some other kind of movies, wallpapers, docs, everything was there on the LAN. Atish was in the Computer Science Department which meant that I was also used to connect to his department's servers for a faster internet connection. Xterm and later port forwarding through the Putty became as popular as the P2P clients and I remember people flocking to my room for checking their mails and downloading stuff from the net.

I met with an accident during my second year. Something was wrong with my Hard Disk and since Atish and his friends were not sure if it was a disk problem or something related to the Mother Board, it was decided that I be taken to Nehru Place (NP). So we were going to NP on Sahu's bike when suddenly I slipped out of Atish's hands in the middle of the traffic and went tumbling down the road before finally stopping. I dont know how, but I was still in one piece. No vehicle hit me and the thermocol and the cardboard covering saved me. My hard disk had to be replaced and I was back, alive and kicking.

I was such a vital part of Atish's existence. True, he was not the kind of guy who sat in front of me for hours, playing games or randomly surfing the net or even watching movies. Chat was probably the one thing which kept him occupied the most and during his pre final and final years, TV serials. Yet his room was always a hub of activity and that meant that I was kept busy. The presence of the Creative speakers ensured that almost all the music practice sessions originated from his room as Suhas, Venky, Maddu, Shastri came in with the guitars and the keyboards to figure out the songs. Often he would sit in front of me on the chair with the guitar on his lap, the web page with the chords of a particular song opened and the pluck between his lips, as his hands moved from the keyboard to the strings trying to figure out the song. I found him to be very happy and content during those times.

Then there were the movie screenings when the lights would be switched off and the windows closed (if it was day) and a few friends would bring their pillows and take their positions on the bed. Atish mostly sat on the chair though. Often his friends (mostly Laddu) would make fun of my processor, calling it names like a P3 or even a P2, when some movie clip took a little longer than usual to start, or some application hung up. I remember it was a favourite pastime of Atish and Laddu to discuss whose dabba was better (or worse!). I would like to believe I was, but Laddu always had different views.

In the last couple of years, Wonder Years, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Joey, How I Met You Mother & Scrubs had become Atish's favourite pastimes. I remember during the Diwali break of 2005, he spent two days continuously watching the first season of Lost because he was so 'lost' in it. 24 episodes of 40 minutes each. Figure that out for yourself!

Once my keyboard and mouse had to be changed, the former primarily due to Atish's new found fixation with a black keyboard after his internship (although the old one had become rather difficult to use) and the latter because, it had reached a stage where only he could use it and anyone else who tried his hands on it vowed to throw it out of the window the next time around.

Sometimes Atish also used me to make his assignments! Hard to believe but true. See, basically he hated the labs and the atmosphere there, where a dozen faces would be looking at what you are doing and while all the bright ones would be thinking of ways to optimise their code and make it more elegant and readable and what not, he would probably be struggling just to make it run. So the confines of his room suited him the most and he tried doing his assignments (particularly the ones in Logic, PL and ADA) sitting in front of me, punching out the alphabets and the numbers, frequently dashing off to Pinku's or Laddu's room to seek help and occasionally getting someone to come by if the going got too tough for him. I never thought computer science was meant for him. I seldom saw him enjoying coding. While making the assignments, he was more focussed on selecting the right playlist than anything else. He probably enjoyed writing articles for Kara Update more than coding but we will talk about his love for writing later.

Hmm.. so where were we. LAN, music, movies, serials, assignments. Yes, chatting. he did a lot of that. With his school friends and even the ones in the campus and he attributed his typing speed to just that. I still remember how Laddu used to tease and curse him when he chatted with his girl friends from school.

And finally we come to writing. In the December of 2005, he started blogging, inspired solely by Zubin's blog. Invariably he used to compose his posts late at night, alone, without anyone's disturbance and at one go. I particularly remember the day the IIM interview results were out. It was 3 o' clock in the night as he sat in front of me to pour his heart out. It was sad and I felt bad for him.

I would like to believe that I have been an important entity in his college life and though the plastic cover came off after the second week, yet the occasional cleaning up with Colins ensured that I was better looking than most of my mates. Even in Bangalore, where I have been perhaps the most crucial part of the daaru parties (after the alcohol that is!), the jubiliation that followed my arrival, confirmed that I still had a part to play in his life and that of his friends. But it will never be like those days, in Karakoram. I know he misses hostel and come to think of it, so do I.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Excerpts from 'The Plague'

In short, we returned to our prison house, we had nothing left us but the past, and even if some were tempted to live in the future, they had speedily to abandon the idea - anyhow, as soon as could be - once they felt the wounds that the imagination inflicts on those who yield themselves to it.

But, naturally enough, this prudence, this habit of feinting with their predicament and refusing to put up a fight, was ill rewarded. For, while averting that revulsion which they found so unbearable, they also deprived themselves of those redeeming moments, frequent enough when all is told, when by conjuring up pictures of a reunion to be, they could forget about the plague. Thus in a middle course between these heights and depths, they drifted through life rather than lived, the prey of endless days and sterile memories, like wandering shadows that could have acquired substance only by consenting to root themselves in the solid earth of their distress. Thu, too, they came to know the incorrigible sorrow of all prisoners and exiles, which is to live in a company with a memory that serves no purpose.

All I maintain is on that this earth there are pestilences and there are victims and it's up to us so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences.

Next day these fancies would have passed and qualms of doubt returned. But for the moment the whole town was on the move, quitting the dark, lugubrious confines where it had struck its roots of stone and setting forth at last, like a shipload of survivors, toward a land of promise.

So all a man could win in the conflict between plague and life was knowledge and memories

And when the train stopped, all those interminable seeming separations which often had begun on this same platform came to an end in one ecstatic moment, when arms closed with hungry possessiveness on bodies whose living shape they had forgotten.

For the moment he wished to behave like all those others around him who believed, or made believe, that plague can come and go without changing anything in men's hearts.

The leveling out that death's imminence had failed in practice to accomplish was realized at last, for a few gay hours, in the rapture of escape.

In short, they denied that we had ever been that hag-ridden populace, a part of which was daily fed into a furnace and went up in oily fumes, while the rest, in shackled impotence, waited their turn.

....we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Read & Remembered

An effort to remember the books read over the last 4/5 years.

Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses, Fury, Shalimar The Clown, Step Across This Line (collected non fiction) : My favorite author. Fell in love with him after reading Midnight's Children. There's nothing I can possibly say about him which has already not been said.

Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance, Family Matters : A writer with an eye for detail. He can portray emotions as few can. As some critic put it, Mistry doesn't require the magic realism of a his prose, the mundane becomes magical. Should also thank Mistry for earning me my biggest blog fan!

Amitav Ghosh: In An Antique Land, Shadow Lines, The Hungry Tide: Shadow Lines is a wonderful novel. It talks about geographic boundaries, and others which divide and unite us. The author keeps shifting time frames which makes it a difficult read and tough to grasp at times, but this was the novel which hooked me to Ghosh. In An Antique Land is an account of the author's travels as a student through Egypt. I loved The Hungry Tide because I had earlier been to the Sunderbans which has been brought to life beautifully by Ghosh. The struggle between land and water, man and beast and how the Tide rules everything there.

Albert Camus: The Stranger (aka The Outsider), The Plague: Just finished reading The Plague and believe me, it's an absolute masterpiece. Will soon compile and put up a post on it consisting purely of quotes from the book.

Leon Uris: Exodus, The Haj: My interest in the Middle East, Arab-Israel conflict was totally due to Exodus. To me the best fact based fiction ever written. Would recommend both these books to anyone who wants to know the story behind Israel.

William Darlymple: City OF Djinns, At The Court Of The Fish Eyed Goddess

The Impressionist - Hari Kunzru : A very interesting read with a lot of Rushdie in it.

Kim - Rudyard Kipling : It's a classic I know and it was good but I expected more.

Soul Mountain - Gao Xingjian: A semi autobiographical account by China's first Nobel laureate in literature. The author's use of I and You to depict the same being is an utterly unique and amazing concept as he goes on describing his journey through China in search of the Soul Mountain. The novel is steeped in Mao's exploits, the Cultural Revolution, the effects of industrialization, vanishing Giant Pandas and more. It has a magical element to it and as the blurb at the end of the book puts it perfectly, it's like walking through mist.

Red Poppies - Alai: This one takes us to Tibet, before the Chinese invasion. A land ruled by warlords. A land full of lust and sin. And how eventually opium yielding poppies destroy it and its people.

An Equal Music - Vikram Seth: Its hard to believe how an Indian writer could so beautifully conjure up a world of Western Classical Music. Replete with details of a string quartet and Bach and Beethoven, it is quite unlike any novel written by an Indian writer. Another must read.

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini: Absolutely loved the book. Its a poignant novel, written in very simple prose and even though has its fair share of 'Bollywoodesque' coincidences, yet it remains one of my favorites till date.

The Swallows Of Kabul - Yasmina Khadra: Bought it after reading The Kite Runner. Another novel based in war torn Afghanistan, not as good a read as the former though.

My Name Is Red - Orhan Pamuk

A Sense Of The World- Jason Roberts

To Sir With Love - E.R. Braithwaite

Tuesdays With Morrie - Mitch Albom : Touching

Princess - Jean Sasson: A rather disturbing but true account of the plight of females in Saudia Arabia. And this one belonged to the Royal Family!

Those Days - Sunil Gangopadhyay & Tamas - Bhisham Sahni : Read them during my first Humanities course at IIT, ' Modern Indian Fiction In Translation'. Was particularly impressed by the former due to its sheer scope and epic nature. Have never read a book with so many characters. Talks about 2 families in pre - independent India, the time of the zamindars and has several historical characters like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Michael Madhusudan Dutt in it.

The World Is Flat - Thomas Friedman: Outsourcing, Supply Chain Management, China, India, Globalisation, Infosys... a very well written book full of anecdotes and small stories explaining the world we live in.

The Life And Times Of Michael K - J.M. Coetzee : The simplicity of Michael K leaves you speechless. A superb depiction of South Africa amidst the civil war.

Above Average - Amitabha Bagchi : The inspiration behind this

Complete Guide To Guys - Dave Barry : Hilarious! A total read aloud book to guys. Laughed till my stomach hurt.

When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro : Another one of those books that I bought reading the blurb and title. Set in Shanghai and England, it's a crime fiction. Didn't particularly enjoy it though it certainly added to my knowledge of Chinese history.

There could be more, but right now I can't remember. If and when I do, I will put them up here.
And right now I have about 14 books in my room which I haven't read. So please no more suggestions for the time being!

Monday, March 19, 2007


The sight of a dear friend waiting at the airport, driving down the DND expressway at 120 kmph, the wide roads and the flyovers, mindless gossip, leg pulling and retelling of old tales at IIT, getting high at MJ, having cakes with chocolate dip at SPICE NOIDA, playing cards till 4 in the morning, having a friend make the most delicious poha for breakfast, laughing till your stomach and jaws hurt listening to one liners from a friend who doesn't need a drink to get high, sitting on the cricket field at IIT, a wonderful evening and a memorable first meeting; the party ends tonight.
Tuesday morning would be tough for sure.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Anonymous Coward and I just started this.
Still very much in its infancy and looking for contributors, ideas and suggestions regarding anything and everything. So go ahead and have a dekko!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bose Miss

Someone recently told me how my blogs and stories are always about some point in time and rarely about someone. So here's to one of the finest human beings that I have known.

We knew all about her even in standard 3. The transition from Primary to Middle school was not only a matter of changing buildings, there was more to it. We had heard tales of her strictness and her love, of her collection of comic books and the year end party at her home, of her excellence as a teacher of English grammar and Mathematics, of the small hikes that she took her class to and most importantly of her approach to teaching, of changing students forever for the better. So when I was assigned Class IV-B, I knew I was one of the few fortunate ones.

The class was divided into 2 groups named Rose and Lotus if I remember correctly. There were the Red Stars and the Black Stars for your performances in the class tests and your house got points for the same. There was ample incentive to finish the test or any assignment before time. You could then submit your copy and take the keys from her to unlock the cupboard which had the best and the most varied collection of comics that a 4th grader could ever come across. Tintin, Asterix and Archies rubbed shoulders with Nagraj, Chacha Choudari and Super Commando Dhruv. Throw in a few Tinkle, Champak, ChandaMama and some other story books and you have an amazing collection to devour for the entire year. Once every week (or twice maybe) she had the last 2 classes of the day and invariably one of them would be spent outside the class room, playing Dodgeball, Langdi-choo, and all sorts of wierd games. Then there were the Samosa and Jalebi parties which she arranged for in the class room without any notice and quite frequently. Everybody loved her. She was the oldest teacher in school. When we were in 4th grade, our school had completed 25 years. So too had she and we remember the sense of pride in each of us as she was called to the podium to speak about the school on the occasion of the its silver jubilee celebrations. She was easliy the most loved and respected teacher that I ever knew. Till 3rd standard my best performance in class was a mere 69%. In IV-B, I stood second in class and got 84%, the turning point as far as my academics in school were concerned, one which sadly I could never better. The position I mean, not the percentage!

I remember the last day. The famed last day of IV-B when she took all of us to her home. We watched two movies (Deewar. Not the best movie for the occasion though! and another one which I dont remember), played games, all 50 of us, ate Khichdi , I played a few tunes on my Casio SA-1 which I had taken there and came back by the evening. Its been so many years but I can still remember it, not clearly but enough to feel it.

I still have the english grammar copy. The table of tenses; present, past, future and the perfects and the participles, active and passive voice, gerunds and propositions, subject verb agreement, clauses. Important parts underlined in Red ink. It was very much my Wren & Martin. I never needed any and I would like to think I have done just fine. The last time I talked to her was probably class 7 or so. Then we changed buildings and somehow amidst everything, I no longer met her.

She was a lady with a golden heart. For the first month she was very strict and would scold us at the slightest of mistakes. That was her style, to get her students to love and respect her. After the first month, you would never want to hurt her or do anything she wouldnt approve of. She was the best. The best teacher I have ever had, and probably one of the best human beings I have come across. Her name was Mrs. Dora Bose. We called her Bose Miss. The next time I go home, I would try to meet her. Its difficult to say after all these years what would happen but I am sure she would remember the name at least.