Monday, December 19, 2005

Craving Perfection - In an Imperfect World

Time and again I have heard people complain about how imperfect the world is. And, how nice it would be to get rid of all the imperfection, yada, yada. Here is one for you. The Fourth Estate, seems to take you guys seriously.

Here is an interesting link (yes, it is work safe). Of Illusions and how they are created in the mass media.
This was pretty enlightening - atleast to me. I always thought airbrushing and retouching was for over-the-hill actresses and other celebrities who are more than slightly challenged in the looks department. This model looks fine to me even without any of the "additions and subtractions".

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The (Ice Cream) Shop Around The Corner

"But where do you want to go? "

"Corner House"

" Which one?"

"On Residency road, right next to Galaxy Theatre "

"Wait, that is under demolition..."

"Ok, go to Victoria Hotel and drive towards Brigade road..."

"Ahem, you mean Bangalore Central Mall, no may-dum?"

Being away from a city for ages, can make you embarrassingly incompetent at giving directions and completely incapable of getting to a place, you thought, you knew damn well. The saving grace is that once you get there, the ice cream is still the same. You can walk up to the counter and get Death by Chocolate. You still have to wait around for all those young couples to get done with their sweet nothings, before you can get a table, to sit down and enjoy, the cold ice cream on the hot chocolate cake ... [This is(was?) one of the cool places where high school couples hang out. Atleast, they used to when I was young(er?). ]

My first day in Bangalore. Mom and I were running around the town trying to find clothes and jewellery I can take to Kolkata for the bride's wedding. Also some essentials like - a cell phone (a long embarrassing story - why are all embarrassing stories long?!). And in the midst of all that, we decide we need a break.

Enter Corner House. We get in hoping to get a quick Ice Cream snack and move on. But once we enter, we sit there and talk about old times. Laugh and talk and relax. Before we know it we have spent 2 hours chilling there. Not bothered by the fact that we are surrounded by atleast 10 teen couples, flirting and sharing their cup of ... ice cream.

Good times. How long has it been since you got the chance to sit down and chill with your mom, at an ice cream joint or a coffee shop (or a cafe, or a barista as they call it these days)? Loving it!

Monday, December 12, 2005

W(B)edding in 'The City of Joy'

Celebrations continued in Kolkata. Managed to sneak in at the right time. Just before the Bride and Bill entered their home - as Man and Wife.

The celebrations mostly involved Bill's family handling all the appropriate bong looking rituals perfectly. A ton of very energetic relatives who managed to run the show just so. :) The bride, was not herself at all. She was busy being the epitome of virtue and patience (ok, that I am making up... alright, that was true, atleast with the makeup bit ;)). Estimated time for the face painting varied from 2 to 4 hours. End result - priceless. Some distant relatives were actually convinced that the bride was bong ;)

The groom was trying his best to keep up, with an interesting silk kurta, dhothi and topor.

For all the non-bongs (aka the bride's family), it involved hogging (awesome food) - most excellent fish and mithai, and lets not forget, gaping when any bangla was spoken - hoping we would understand some bit of what was going on.

Also had some other fun gastronomical adventures there, including K.C. Das, Flury's, roadside Chaat etc.

Did some mandatory sightseeing. Only could not make it to the Belur Math and Kali Mandir... Well, we need to save some for the next time, don't we. :)

If anyone is still interested in what I wore - here is what ;)

Now for the 'inside story'

The ceremonies themselves were filled with the hustle-bustle that makes a good wedding. There were people showing up from all over the world - well, some even hopped 4 countries to get there. :) There was a sweet cousin of the bride, who everyone is convinced, was there only because she has a bong boyfriend. (Well, time will tell. I am thankful she was around.) I was the offical photographer for the bride's family, and was promptly adopted by the rest of the real cameramen.

Given the amount of makeup and photo/video-graphy the bride and bill have been through in the past couple of days, I do expect them to have severe withdrawal symptoms. Friends, please don't be shocked if you knock on their doors sometime next month and see them dressed in heavy makeup, jewellery and rich silk, with bright lights, clicking pictures of themselves.

Bill's family was warm and very friendly. They did a great job of entertaining and feeding us. They are also a fun bunch to hang out with - in any city :)

This was my first trip to Kolkata - the city is very interesting. Not all I had heard about the city was true. It was much cleaner and organized than I had expected it to be. The weather was perfect - sunny, cool, not sultry - as it was december. I was not smitten by Flury's. On the other hand, all the other meals I had there were among the best. Most people I interacted with spoke and understood hindi, so transportation, food, bargaining etc was easy.

Victoria Memorial was very impressive. Got to see some interesting paintings of temples and nature from south india too - like the picture of the Meenakshi temple in Madurai etc. The park surrounding the building was very well maintained and being put to good use by the people. Though it does hurt to think all the money that went into building it, while majority of the people in the state were buried in poverty. Somethings don't seem to change.

The Indian Museum was huge. Totally beat my expectations. The sculptures from various regions and eras were excellent. Many were in very good condition too. Don't miss the ones from Java and Bodhgaya, the replica of the National emblem etc. The botanical and zoological collections were impressive in both size and variety. But I did not get to spend much time there.

The Rabindra Sethu and Vidyasagar Sethu were fun to drive by and on. The new bridge is definitely what any tween would call - neat.

Kalighat was an experience. Big crowd, people waiting outside and inside the temple ready to harrass you with all kinds of 'special' treatment you can get for the right amount. Beggars, handpulled rickshaws. A goat being sacrificed, right next to the queue for darshan. But also saw the faces of believers, who hoped this would get them a better life (in this world and the next).

More later!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Grooving at work

Listening to music while working (or being at work) is a tricky thing. The music should be just so, interesting enough, that you want to listen to it, but not too interesting, that you get sucked into it. One of the rules of thumb, for this, is to go with songs in languages you don't understand. In my case, there are a lot of languages to choose from :) So here is a sample. A song in Japanese, one in Turkish and one in French.

日本語 :
clap your hands everybody

(you will need realplayer)

A cut from the compliation called Reach Series #1. Various progressive Japanese rock groups perform their version of children's songs in this album.

التركيه (صفه) ترك:

Mustafa Sandal, a turkish singer. Songs similar to some of our own Bollywood music. Some interesting videos. There are about 6-7 songs that are streamed from his homepage.

français :

Lounge music by Rouge Rouge. Cannot find their music online. But listen to it from a wonderful eclectic collection at Putumayo

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oct 31, 1984.

That is my earliest political memory. A sad fact, that it is a political assassination, which remains etched in my memory to this day.

"Sikhs everywhere were outraged at the perceived desecration of their holiest shrine: on October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh. She was cremated on 3 November, near Raj Ghat and the place was called Shakti Sthal. After her death, anti-Sikh riots engulfed New Delhi and spread across the country, killing more than 1,000 and leaving tens of thousands homeless." - wiki

"No school today! Indira Gandhi is dead.(why is she dead?) Her own bodyguard killed her. (Is that bad?!) What on earth is playing on the television? (Some boring guy playing the shennai. Now another playing the sitar.... State mourning... great! Can I have some cartoons back?... Well, at least, they don't have cricket on!)" - my first thoughts.

Slowly, reality kicks in.

Our neighbor, X Singh uncle, who hosted the most wonderful satsangs at his place, every week (I was sure, everyone thought it was wonderful, mostly because of the amazing pooris they made.) It was at his home, that I ate my first roti-sized pooris, fried for everyone who attended the satsang. Made by anyone, willing to help make them.

And now, his son, Y bhaiya, who started college a couple of months back, is in danger. His parents and everyone around, suggest that he go and register himself at the nearest police station. Maybe he should spend the night there. Jails are the safest place for a Sikh to be, you know - they say. Maybe he should be clean-shaven. Maybe he should... (Why should Y bhaiya go to jail? What has he done? What harm have the colourful turbans on his head caused - to anyone? No one answers.)

Honestly, how does killing people, solve the world's problems? (Thanks falstaff! - for the c&h story)

Reading Veena's first, brought back these memories.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Greed is Good?!

48(!!) CPUs on your server machine, with 128GB RAM. Fabric7 announced its products today. One of them is 8 way - 16 core Opteron based server. It makes my head spin. What can I say the CPU still rules. Now go figure how many engineers it would take to make the machine use its full capacity and actually do something useful (I mean don't keep choking it with benchmark test... its not a toy you know)...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mythology can be fun. Finally!

Finally. A good reason to break silence :)

Found these two awesome animation films on the web today.

One on Sita. Presenting Sitayana, by the very talented Nina Paley.

Check out the animation here. This is really hilarious. Sita and Rama are this hot couple, singing and dancing around trees (Yes, I know. It totally reminds me of a million other Bollywood movies:) ). This should help you get over the scars Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan left on all of us, a whole generation of Indians.

And another, on Hanuman. A full motion picture, by Sahara One. Details here. A review from Rediff.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ignorance is not bliss

What you don't know can hurt you, only you won't know it.

- bumper sticker

Friday, October 07, 2005

Corridors, Acquaintances and Turning Invisible

Its 5pm and I need my sugar fix. A dark chocolate cookie with chocolate chips, from the cafe. I can imagine the soft chocolate chips melt in my mouth, as I chew on the cookie. mmmph. Life - can wait. So can work, unanswered emails, and the rest.

I quietly make my way to the cafe. Passing through the long corridor. The long corridor that seperates me from my cookie. These long, lonely corridors. Cubicles to right of them, cubicles to the left of them and lets not forget, cubicles to the front of them!

And I see this acquaintance, making his way through the same path. Only he starts at the other end. He sees me and I see him. But, we both know, it will take 10 seconds for us to pass each other. Those critical 10 seconds, where you cannot look at each other, or heaven forbid, smile at each other. Sadly we have nothing else to look at or cannot even look busy. Its 5pm on a friday evening, we both know, the only starting point and destination is the cafe or your cube. Not a meeting room, not the lab, ok, may be, the printer...

We walk on, with a brave face (no smile, no eye contact). For 10 whole seconds, we are both invisible. We walk on, aware and conscious of the other person. But never once acknowledge the other's presence. Then, we are about 5 feet away. He smiles and says, "Hi!" and I smile back. And we have crossed each others path one more time. And boom! like magic, we are visible again. And, we walk on.

Why should just looking at someone - for 10 seconds, be so uncomfortable? What makes us look away? What do we fear? That one of us, might learn some deep dark secret about the other, by just looking at each other?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

what poetry? - II

Bumper Sticker Poetry!

Google poetry reminded me of this Israel hip hop group - Hadag Nahash. Who gained popularity with their - Sticker Song.

(please note, they were touring last year, in the US of A, so this poster has last year's dates.)

"The group's name literally means "Snakefish" (dag=fish, nachash=snake), but it is also a Hebrew pun. In Israel, people who have only recently gotten their driver's licences place a tag on their back window with the words "Nahag Chadash" ("new driver"). The name "HaDag Nahash" therefore indicates the group's ambitions, as a voice for the youth in Israel."

"One of their most famous hits is "Shirat Hasticker" (known as "The Sticker Song" in English), written by Israeli novelist David Grossman. The lines in the song are all direct quotes or plays on slogans that actually appeared at some time on bumper stickers in Israel, but the unique collage of opposing political slogans juxtaposed against apolotical slogans, parodies and so forth creates an angry irony." (Wikipedia, of course!)

From their (translated) lyrics:

"Wipe Out, Kill, Deport, Exile,
Exterminate, Extradite, Death Penalty NO FEAR!
Destroy, Eradicate, Overthrow, Mop Up
Everything for You, Friend!"

what poetry? - I

Google Poetry!

Found interesting 'poetry' last night, while listening to Salman Rushdie talk about his new book.

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing - Google Poetry. (note: you will need real player to hear this. Will post the transcript, when it becomes available. Anyway, its always nice hearing good Danish accented English). The poet, Pejk Malinovsk, reads his creations in the audio clip.

How does Pejk create this poetry? He types in a set of words in google and creates his poem from the search results he gets. For instance, I looked for "I wish I could" and here is my poem.

I wish I could

I wish I could
have been there,
I wish I could
but I can't.

I wish I could
shimmy (like my sister Kate),
I wish I could
fly (like Superman).

I wish I could
read for the 1st time all over again,
I wish I could
do more ...

I wish I could
go back home,
I wish I could
remember you.

What is yours?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Rebels in Waiting

A whole generation of us, rebels, waiting for a cause. Biding our time on this planet, for something, to kick us into action. Opposing what we find. So, when a worthy cause comes along, we will be prepared ... :)


In my youth
I was opposed to school.
And now, again,
Im opposed to work.

Above all it is health
And righteousness that I hate the most.
Theres nothing so cruel to man
As health and honesty.

Of course Im opposed to the Japanese spirit
And duty and human feeling make me vomit.
Im against any government anywhere
And show my bum to authors and artists circles.

When Im asked for what I was born,
Without scruple, Ill reply, To oppose.
When Im in the east
I want to go to the west.

I fasten my coat at the left, my shoes right and left.
My hakama I wear back to front and I ride a horse facing its buttocks.
What everyone else hates I like
And my greatest hate of all is people feeling the same.

This I believe: to oppose
Is the only fine thing in life.
To oppose is to live.
To oppose is to get a grip on the very self.

Kaneko Mitsuharu

(Tr. by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Its a ... its a .. its a $100 laptop

A laptop for under $100, well atleast in the works at MIT. An interesting feature is a power crank, which would be very useful in place with undependable power supply. Here is article. And here is more information on this project.

Apparently, up to 15 million of these test systems will be distrbuted among children in Brazil, China, Thailand, Egypt and South Africa.

'He said a goal of the project is to make the low-cost PC idea a grassroots movement that will spread in popularity, like the Linux operating system or the Wikipedia free online encyclopedia. "This is open-source education. It's a big issue."'

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Dance Within

"Is not most talking
A crazed defence of a crumbling fort? "

A poet on my blog, after a long time. Have been meaning to write about Hafiz and his poetry.But never found the words. Hence the silence.

I have laughed out loud reading some of his poetry in quiet bookstores and fought back a tear or two in the library reading others. What can I say. Just grab a book of his poems, sit back, relax and let the pleasure begin. :)


A day of Silence
Can be a pilgrimage in itself.

A day of Silence
Can help you listen
To the Soul play
Its marvellous lute and drum.

Is not most talking
A crazed defence of a crumbling fort?

I thought we came here
To surrender in Silence,

To yield to Light and Happiness,

To Dance within
In celebration of Love’s Victory!

From: “I Heard God Laughing: Renderings of Hafiz: by Daniel Ladinsky.

My first Hafiz poem, you ask? After a long, interesting (and needless to say, absolutely pointless) discussion with a friend. I start questioning the usefulness/uselessness of time spent chatting. My friend smiles, but says nothing. Later that day, I find this in my inbox. Most wonderful!

What Should We Do About That Moon?

A wine bottle fell from a wagon
And broke open in a field.
That night hundred beetles and all their cousins
And did some serious binge drinking.
They even found some seed husks nearby
And began to play them like drums and whirl.
This made God very happy.
Then the 'night candle' rose into the sky
And one drunk creature, laying down his instrument
Said to his friend - for no apparent
"What should we do about that moon?"
Seems to Hafiz
Most everyone has laid aside the music
Tackling such profoundly useless

- Hafiz

(image from

I was instantly fascinated. Why worry about the why, when you are having such a good time?

Reminds me of Madhushala by Harivansh Rai Bachchan. Bachchan is another poet who can make you, care and yet not care, so easily, that it can hurt.

Let me not forget, the reason (a post by
Falstaff), I was reminded of Hafiz today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Can I have the Time please?

Cell phones, computers, coffeemakers, cars (or may be even my niece's fancy new pencil box)... and pretty much everything under the sun, seem to have a clock embedded in them.

Still, there are times, I would really love, to be able to sneak a sly glance at my (nonexistent) wristwatch.

When someone really nice (or important) is boring me (to death). Opening my handbag and scrambling for my cellphone, to check the time, just doesn't do the trick.

A friend is late for dinner and I decide to sneak in a trip to a wonderful used bookstore. There I find Buddha (!!), right in the middle of all the Astroboys, in the manga comic section (which needless to say, is in the basement-with-no-wall-clocks. Isn't that the exact place where bookstore owners would want weird comic readers shoved away, while the important looking readers come by, looking for latin/greek classics...?) Just as I am done scanning through the first few volumes, I realize, I have no idea how long I have been in that basement. Of course, my cell phone switched off (I am a civilized person in a bookstore, remember?).

I am on a trail. Many a times, I am drawn to go on, longer than I had intended to. Either by the wonderful little wild flowers or the humming birds. Suddenly, I realize, I have to walk back 6 miles. 6 long miles to civilization (and my car). There is no way of finding out what the time is. How long before the sun will set? Will I be all alone in the wilderness, in the dark.

I am chatting with someone, sipping some awesome hot chocolate, while taking (what was supposed to be) a short 15-minute break. Just about the time, when we have start discussing Gael Garcia Bernal, and both of us have no clue how we got there (considering, the conversation started with Sourav Ganguly and the state of indian cricket). Then, I wish I could check the time.

"To wear a quality watch and feel its weight; to know it is carved out of blocks of steel, not squeezed out of plastic, is deeply reassuring." - Sunday Independent

And I know, I am not alone.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Clown

Reading Shalimar the Clown.

Parts of it are classic rushdie,
Some parts are just pompous and fluffy...

Reading the different sections, here was my reaction -

Hated it, loved it, hated it, loved it...

Then, sadly, today, had to return the book, as it was 'On Hold'.

An affair left incomplete...

Useful reviews can be found here

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Only Three Who Have Real Meaning

Like Murakami? Check out his short story in this week's New Yorker.

Murakami is the kind of author I like to read when I feel the need to stop and reflect on my own life and the strange things that happen in it. His stories manage to help me to pause my wandering mind and make me reflect. There are times when life seems busy and I don't want to stop and reflect. I cannot read him then. But now seems like a time when I need a Murakami fix.

His stories seem to have a lot more going on inside the heads of the protagonists than in the outside world. They always seem to be about a guy and the women are only there as catalysts, that cause changes in the guy's inside world.

This story starts with an interesting pronouncement by Junpei(the protagonist)'s father -

"Among the women a man meets in his life, there are only three who have real meaning for him. No more, no less," his father said—or, rather, declared. He spoke coolly but with utter certainty, as he might have in noting that the earth takes a year to revolve around the sun. Junpei listened in silence, partly because his father’s speech was so unexpected; he could think of nothing to say on the spur of the moment.

"You will probably become involved with many women in the future," his father continued, "but you will be wasting your time if a woman is the wrong one for you. I want you to remember that."

I find it interesting that someone would say such a thing to a sixteen year old. But what is even more interesting is, how it affects the choices he makes in his life.

I wonder if there were things people told me when I was sixteen, that are still affecting my life?! If I need a - Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day, in my life too.

Of Culture, And Polluting It

Israeli couple gets fined for kissing after getting married in a temple in India. Each had to pay up 500 Indian rupees (about 11 USD) for the pollution they were causing.

I only wish, that people who dump toxins into rivers and air also get fined similarly.

"The Asian Age said priests at Pushkar's Brahma temple were so incensed when the couple smooched as hymns were still being chanted that they filed a police complaint."

Here is the article.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Network of Dreams

An AI experiment on the web - GNOD. Kinda like a friend, who might introduce you to a new Author, Band or Movie.

Would you like gnod's suggestions? Check it out...

music : U2

books: Rushdie

movies: The Bridge on the River Kwai

Dutch Treat?!

"The Dutch government will begin tracking every citizen from cradle to grave in a single database, opening a personal electronic dossier for every child at birth with health and family data, and eventually adding school and police records."

The article on Wired does say this will help raise a "red flag" to alert authorities when a child is in trouble etc. But really is this a good thing?

Would they also provide a record clearing option for the powerful? Will there be an equivalent of the memory erasure in the
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. (Don't you see a market for a record erasure service?)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sign of the Times

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Graduation Speech

Is this a whole genre of inspirational writing (speaking?).

For a long time my favourite one used to be Hindsight - Guy Kawasaki's speech at Palo Alto High School in 1995.

Then there were others. Steve Jobs' at stanford this summer - Stay hungry, Stay foolish. Which was kind of interesting. He talks about, how college is useless (I can only imagine the faces of all those parents, who had paid tens of thousands and were sitting in the hot sun, listening to this.)

One of the more shocking ones - Muhammad Ali's speech at MIT.

"Me, We"

2 words. period.

Here is another one I came across last week. The Johns Hopkins University commencement this summer. The talk by the President William R. Brody. If you haven't heard/read this one and like commencement speeches. ;) Here is the complete text.

And, here is small snippet for the lazy people! ;)

"I'd like to close with one last story that I think you will especially understand, because today you are receiving a degree from what you know firsthand is a very competitive school. All of you, I am sure, have along the way felt pressure from your peers and perhaps from your parents to get good grades and become accomplished, so you can go on to even greater achievements later in life.

Today, I want to turn those expectations on their heads. Today, I want to encourage you to do well by doing good. The trick is not to fall into the trap of thinking that the way you do well is to do so at the expense of others. It's not a zero-sum game. And I'd just like to relate this story to make my point.

There is another trustee of Johns Hopkins who I'd like to tell you about. His name is Sandy Greenberg. In his youth, Sandy was a very good student, but he came from a poor family. And so he went to Columbia University on a scholarship, and there he met his roommate, who also was receiving financial aid.

Now while he was a sophomore at Columbia University, he contracted an eye disease that eventually proved to be glaucoma. But the trouble was, it wasn't detected early enough, and as a result he became legally blind, while still a student at Columbia. I ask you all to imagine for a moment having been sighted all your life, and then all of a sudden being faced, in a very competitive school, with losing so much sight you could no longer read. This is what happened to our trustee, Sandy Greenberg.

But something else happened to Sandy that may surprise you. Sandy said that when he lost his sight, his roommate began to read his textbooks to him, every night.

So I'm going to put you in that position, in a competitive school like Columbia, or Johns Hopkins. If your roommate had a serious disability, would you take the time to read textbooks to him every night, knowing the more you spend time reading textbooks to your roommate, perhaps the less well you might do with your other activities? That's not as easy a question as it first appears.

But luckily for Sandy, our trustee, his roommate did. And as a result, Sandy went on to graduate with honors. He got a Fulbright Scholarship, and he went off to study at Oxford. He was still quite poor, but he said he had managed to save about five hundred dollars as he went along.

His roommate, meanwhile, also went on to graduate school. One day, Sandy got a call from him at Oxford. And his former roommate said, "Sandy I'm really unhappy. I really don't like being in graduate school, and I don't want to do this."

So Sandy asked, "Well what do you want to do?"

And his roommate told him, "Sandy, I really love to sing. I have a high school friend who plays the guitar. And we would really like to try our hand in the music business. But we need to make a promo record, and in order to do that I need $500."

So Sandy Greenberg told me he took all his life savings and sent it to his roommate. He told me, "You know, what else could I do? He made my life; I needed to help make his life." So, I hope you'll remember the power of doing well by doing good. Each of you, in your own lives, will be faced with challenges, with roadblocks, with problems that you didn't anticipate or expect. How you are able to deal with adversity will be influenced, to no small extent, by how you deal with others along the way. What you get will depend a lot on what you give. And that's the end of the story of doing well, by doing good.

Ah! I almost forgot. You probably are wanting to know who Sandy's roommate was. I think you've heard of him. Sandy's roommate was a fellow by the name of Art Garfunkel, and he teamed up with another musician by the name of Paul Simon. That $500 helped them cut a record that eventually became "The Sounds of Silence." Recently, we had the pleasure of going to Sandy's daughter's wedding, and it was Art Garfunkel who sang as Sandy walked his daughter down the aisle."

- President William S. Brody, Johns Hopkins University, Commencement 2005.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Play It by Trust

(, Yoko Ono, work date 1966-1998)

An all-white chess set! By Yoko Ono.

Ever since I saw this in an exhibition in the SF MOMA, I have been interested in seeing someone play a similar game. Last week, I got a chance to try a similar experiment myself.

I was playing one of these games that seem like an extension to tick-tak-toe. Except you have a bigger grid, colored coins and had to line up 4 of the same color in a row to win. After a while, we decided that both players would use coins of the same color. Interestingly, it was not trust that was the issue, but just remembering who placed which coin, is very difficult.

There were so many other things to think about while playing. For instance, the strategy, the conversation on the side, your food, etc, and then it becomes really hard to just remember what you placed and what the other person did.

I guess that is what happens in real life too. Its not just a question of Playing it by Trust. It is a question of paying attention to stuff.

The Caterpillar on the Leaf

If Kerala is truly - God's own country, then he/she most certainly is - The God of Small Things.

Here is a small selection from an amazing collection of pictures, shot by my friend (Ashok Srinivasan) during his recent trip to Kerala. (And in the spirit of, Yaam Petra Inbam Peruga Ivaiyagam - he lets me share them here with you all). To enjoy these better, click on them, to get a higher resolution image.

The main reason these pictures captivate me, is the style in which they are shot, that make them look so much like portraits. Unlike most others where they are made to look like specimens under observation.

Just check the picture below. This is the first time I have seen a bug pose for a profile shot, and very slyly making sure the photographer is doing a good job. I strongly suggest you see the higher resolution for this one, to actually see the dragonfly looking right at you!

Or, this guy who seems to suffer from serious stagefright.

I have been lucky enough to experience a lot of things Kerala has to offer, Kathakali and a Sadya, the beauty of the beaches and the backwaters, the country sides and the pristine temples ( Veena has this interesting piece on architecture. Which has a bit about the temples I am thinking of here. )

Unfortunately, with all these big flashy things competing for my attention, I must admit to having ignored the bugs. But honestly, they were just not big enough to grab my attention. (Unless it was a bee or a wasp chasing me.)

Looking at the next one for the first time. For a second, I was not sure if the bug was encased in a dew drop?!

Wish my eyes would let me zoom in and see these intricate little creatures. And more importantly, wish I have the patience...

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
The Caterpillar on the Leaf
( Auguries of Innocence by William Blake)

Monday, August 29, 2005


Random fruit that made my (sun)day. Anyone knows what its called? I know its edible, as I ate it and survived 24 hours, without any problems :) and its sweet, yellow on the inside, with small little seeds.

UPDATE(09/01/2005): Yes! Found the plant! Knowing people, who know stuff, makes life so much easier :)

The plant is Arbutus unedo and here is how it looks.

Commonly known as the strawberry tree. Originally from the Mediterranean region. Used to make wines and liqueurs (hmm!) in France, Italy, Portugal etc. Can be seen in Southern California, as an ornamental tree.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Time for Some Poetry

This is why I love poetry. So innocently, it can make fun of you and make you feel totally stupid. And seemingly, so effortlessly.


I want to be
so I can be
about being

What good is my
when I am
in this

-- David Budbill

And another one.

The Leader

I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader
Can I be the leader?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I'm the leader I'm the leader

OK what shall we do?

--Roger McGough

Don't you all wish you read more poems. :)

Of Joy (and how America makes it happen)

Was talking with friends while at lunch. And this being summer in California, the week before school starts for kids. The topics were obvious. Disneyland. flying small airplanes - basically having fun.

Interesting thing, I am sure many of you have been to Anaheim too. Ever wonder how Disneyland remains so clean? You throw your trash, and millions of others do the same. No one collects the trash, but the place is always clean. Not one trash-can overflowing with garbage. Wonder why? Well, I know now. There is a world underneath the fantasyland you walk on. There is an underground cleaning force. Any garbage you throw, gets sucked in and cleaned immediately.

And that is nothing. If you are an engineer, here is more. They have audio over ethernet... no you heard that right. Not boring old VoIP. but over ethernet. And amazingly, they have virtual networks for each type of audio broadcast (ok, multicast for the nit-pickers). One for the music, one for announcements and one for emergency messages etc. Amazing isn't it. How complicated it is to make - Joy.

This is just crazy. But this got me thinking. Is it just Disneyland? Isn't all our 'privileged lives' the same, with some underground force, that is working to keep us comfortable? Am I not just another kid in Disneyland. I just don't appreciate all the effort that goes into the comforts I enjoy. Until the forces get angry and shake my life up?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Advertising space on - Trash

What better way to vouch for a product, than the fact that you have actually used it. If enough of your trash is used cartons of a product X, then that must be something you like and have paid good money for.

When I see people willing to rent out space on their belly, forehead and what not, why not rent trash-space for advertising? Since most of us have semitransparent trash bags, and the content is there for all to see. Also as many of us live in apartments, may be we can leave the trash bags in the hallway for an hour before we actually head to the trash bin.

Even in the trash bin there are dumpster-divers...

Changing - Others

"We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them." - Anais Nin

"The boy knew a lot of people in the city. That was what made traveling appeal to him – he always made new friends, and he didn't need to spend all of his time with them. When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming part of that person's life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn't what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own. "
-The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Friday, August 19, 2005

Exposing Oneself

Your blogs end up reflecting your own thoughts.

You write blogs, out of no obligation. Atleast that is how it starts. And later it might get popular, who knows, you might be the next Ms. Klein. And the Times might decide to do a piece on you. And voila, now you have a million readers.

But at the very beginning, there is just the keyboard, monitor and you. You feel free expressing your opinions about things no one ever asked you about. This allows you to 'talk' about things the way you would really like to. But isn't that what people pay shrinks for? To just listen to them? Well, blogs could be a form of theraphy I guess.

Then again, laying out all your feelings for everyone to read. And probably saved for posterity, on the internet, somewhere. How anonymous are blogs anyway? and, how secret is your secret identity?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Progress, suprises me

"Do you have a USB floppy drive?"

hmm. Do others wonder about things like this too? I wonder.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


'There are a lot of apparent choices in the world and not many are real ones...."
- Linda Ronstadt

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

And this was not on 'The Onion' ... I swear

"Nike makes Barefoot Breakthrough." on

Nike Innovation Kitchen makes a pathbreaking discovery - run barefoot, its good for you.

Check out, Nike Free

ha ha. The times we live in. Unfortunately they cannot make money out of telling people to run barefoot. So they have created Nike Free - makes you feel like you have no shoes on.

Anyone reminded of the Emporer's new clothes here?

"Of course, Nike is still a shoe company, so it isn't suggesting literally running barefoot. Instead, it's marketing a line of running shoes and trainers called Nike Free. The footwear is designed to emulate the motion of running au naturel." - Mark McClusky,

Complete article from Wired, here

Angenehme Überraschung

Über cool surprise today! 8)

It has been only a couple of months since I started blogging. I am fascinated by how new readers get to my blog. Mostly it is a search on either google or msn that has leads them to my blog.

For instance, one of the most recent readers got here from while looking for :
rilke malte verses "they are experiences"

I hope the person looking for the quote from Rilke, was happy to find this. (I had googled for this exact quote, sometime back, to support my theory in an argument, with a friend who claims to be a "closet poet".) Anyway, it was fun to read my blog entry in deutsch.

Another interesting search lead a reader to my blog. This time it was a search for: amitabh bachan favourite poetry

In this case, the search result was way off the target.

That is life, sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss.

Note: Angenehme Überraschung - babelfish translation for "pleasant surprise". Apologies if something is "lost in translation".

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Berners-Lee on Blogging

Slashdot had a link today pointing to the Berners-Lee interview on blogging. For the uninitiated, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the inventor of the internet. So it is interesting to see his thoughts on blogging.

"When you write a blog, you don't write complicated hypertext, you just write text, so I'm very, very happy to see that now it's gone in the direction of becoming more of a creative medium..." - from the BBC transcripts

And the entire transcript is here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Nietzsche on Sleep

No small art is it to sleep: it is necessary for that purpose to keep awake all day. -- Nietzsche

Friday, August 05, 2005

Gonna be a big man some day

Evian's Waterboy commercial. It is best of both n worlds for me. Water + Animation + Awesome Music + total Fun. Interestingly, this video used to play very frequently on MTV in India. My mom and I used to wait for this video to show up and have had a lot of fun watching it over and over again. The sheer energy and the life of the waterboy, I think does justice to the already awesomely energetic vocals.

I always tried so hard to share the joy of watching this, with others, but what can I say, the "moving picture" is worth a million words! Enjoy.

You can check it out here.

Disclaimer : I am in no way associated either with Evian and do not endorse what they sell and claim in anyway. This is just a really neat advertisement, and I view it as art. =)

We Will Rock You

Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise

Playin’ in the street gonna be a big man some day
You got mud on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Kickin’ your can all over the place

We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you

Buddy you’re a young man hard man
Shoutin’ in the street gonna take on the world some day
You got blood on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Wavin’ your banner all over the place

We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you

Buddy you’re an old man poor man
Pleadin’ with your eyes gonna make you some peace some day

You got mud on your face
You big disgrace
Somebody better put you back in your place

We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you

- Queen

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tolerance <= Equality

Equality is a topic that pops up all the time. Women's lib, gay rights, racism, etc.. But each time, I end up thinking, are we really heading towards - Equality?

Or is it just tolerance? There is a big difference between the equality and tolerance. And, that makes me very uncomfortable.

Recently while talking to a colleague about someone else who works with us, I kept referring to a openly gay person, as this - well dressed, sweet person....(to his credit, I have to admit, I admire the fact that he chooses to be so openly gay at work). And it got to a point, where my colleague had no idea who I was talking about and finally asked me, "oh, that gay guy?"

I mean, why can't I just call a guy, so openly gay, just that. Well, because that would be inappropriate at work. So is this the equality we are all trying to achieve? Where you just go for all kinds of twisted ways to talk about the same thing, but are not allowed to just call someone what they are happy to be?

I am sure most women, feel the same way about gender equality. How many times has it all seemed like farce to you? Just a kind of simulated equality, that can just be totally shaken, by the smallest probe...

Can equality ever be achieved by fighting for it - or atleast a semblance of it?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Same Difference

Low Bright.

I have always believed that a good story is a good story, it does not matter if it is set in a different planet, a writer's imagination, or something more mundane, like the real world, the same part of the world you live in. This was one of the very few graphic novels I have read - Same Difference.

I came across Same Difference, while randomly browsing on a friday evening. I read the first page and then the next, and then the next... till the end. While I had friends waiting to go for dinner and a movie. But they forgave, as always.

This is the work of graphic novelist Derek Kirk Kim. It is set in Pacifica (near San Francisco). If you are interested in stories that are non-dramatic and closer to life (ie, if your life is something like mine). Then you will enjoy following the lives of two friends, Asian Americans, Nancy and Simon.

I like that quality in Derek's drawings, that give the characters a kind of 'real' feel to them.

I also found an NPR interview of Derek.

Tailoring PCs for Local Markets

Intel plans to tailor PCs to local markets in India, China, Eygpt and Brazil.

It is common knowledge that each market has its own needs. One of the inspirations quoted in the article is VW. Apparently, the same Volkswagen van has 7 seats in the US and is configured to seat 15 people in China.

A very interesting snippet from the article, something most Indians always knew about themselves,

"He says the company can serve its customers better by treating each market as unique and tailoring products for it. In a phone interview from Bangalore, he said he couldn't find a used bicycle very easily. Then he noted how locals seemed to save and repair things over and over, including 25-year-old TV sets. For that kind of market, he said Intel might have to consider selling PCs that are easily repaired. In the United States, consumers don't think twice about tossing out a computer after five years."

That actually made be have an Aa-ha moment, right there. As a friend of mine commented, I only hope, they make the PCs that can be easily repaired by the locals.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Acham illai

"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies.

"And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity."

- The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

think. wait. fast.

"I can think. I can wait. I can fast."

"That's everything?"

"I believe, that's everything!"

- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Interesting philosophy. When I first read Siddhartha, I had no idea where this conversation was going. This is a snippet of the first conversation between an ascetic (Siddhartha) goes to meet Kamaswami, the merchant, to see if he can work for him. This is like a job interview, where Kamaswami tries to find out what skills Siddhartha would bring to the job. The above is Siddhartha's anwer to the question, "What is it that you've learned, what you're able to do?"

Now as I go through life, I keep coming back to this concept. Would thinking, waiting or fasting help me deal with something better. Well, guess what? Yes; 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed, these skills would have helped me deal with things better.

To think - to be able to just stop and think through things, without getting emotional and stressed.

To wait - there is not one skill I would want more than to be able to wait, when the heavens seem to be falling down. To be patient, take some time, breathe and then move.

To fast - I have personally not experinced this much. So will add a quote from the book again.

"And what's the use of that? For example, the fasting-- what is it
good for?"

"It is very good, sir. When a person has nothing to eat, fasting is the
smartest thing he could do. When, for example, Siddhartha hadn't
learned to fast, he would have to accept any kind of service before this
day is up, whether it may be with you or wherever, because hunger would
force him to do so. But like this, Siddhartha can wait calmly, he knows
no impatience, he knows no emergency, for a long time he can allow
hunger to besiege him and can laugh about it. This, sir, is what
fasting is good for."

"You're right, Samana. Wait for a moment."

For those of you who have not read the book. But I am sure, this has piqued your interest. You now wonder -

Did he get the job?
(no worries, , this is not a spoiler)
Well, yes, he did.

But I would not suggest you try this at your next job interview. What follows in this conversation, is very mundane. Kamaswami returns with a scroll and asks Siddhartha to read it. It is his ability to read and write, that lands him the job. So, yes, you will have to work on your other skills too =)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Accidental Revolutionary

"I was an ugly child.

What can I say? I hope some day Hollywood makes a film about Linux, and they’ll be sure to cast somebody who looks like Tom Cruise in the lead role – but in the non-Hollywood version, things don’t work out that way."

How can one resist a book that starts that candidly (and that hopefully)! =)

One of my favourite heros - amazing guy, with a great vision. Though, I don't think, he thought about it that way, when he started working on Linux.

A wonderful read for both geeks and nongeeks. David Diamond has made the life of a young nerd seem interesting to the second kind of people. (I am sure all the first kind know, that, there are only 10 kinds of people in the world...) This book is, so, not filled with geek jokes like this.

Describes how he created Linux, very lovingly and yet very interestingly. I would leave the reviewing to people who are good at it. You can go to a nice review, by clicking on the title of this blog entry.

(4/4 in 'people who inspire me')

Monday, July 25, 2005

I, me and we

"The Talmud says, If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?"

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wedding vows - EULA or GPL?

Was trying to convince the bride to have an Arya Samaj Wedding ceremony (A similar ceremony can be seen in Gandhi (script snippet)). Having failed to make any headway with the bride, who has this general love for the grand and chaotic scene - that is an indian wedding. Check out what she had to say after reading about the ceremony here.

I brought up the same topic with the groom (aka Bill). Bill is generally more receptive to random ideas like this :) (I think). Anyway, after a couple of minutes we realized, that most indians go through their wedding, with most of the ceremony being held in Sanskrit or Classical Tamizh etc. And, they have no clue what they are signing up for.

It is almost as meaningless to them, as the EULA you always click 'I Agree' to, before installing another piece of buggy software to your overloaded machine.

So why not a GPL or BSD style wedding vows? What would you include in such vows? Would you even like to say something like

Bride: I take your hand in mine in pursuit of righteousness for the benefit of both our families. I will stand by you. May we be provided with prosperity and offspring and may I keep you splendidly radiant as the rays of the sun. - part of the arya samaj wedding ceremony (

Wedding Recreated in Gandhi


Simple. Austere. Filtered light. Featuring Gandhi – close. He is looking straight ahead.
Reverse angle. Across the emptiness of the temple, Ba faces him.

BA (a step forward): "In every worthy wish of yours, I shall be your helpmate."

Another angle featuring Walker and Collins, who are sitting alone, in the cool shadows of the temple, watching with fascination as Gandhi and Ba repeat their marriage ceremony for them, Walker jotting notes occasionally, but his eyes always glued to Gandhi and Ba, who are in part lost in memories and echoes of a significance only they can know.

GANDHI (a step): "Take a fourth step, that we may be ever full of joy."

Wide shot. Showing the two of them before the altar of the temple, moving closer to each other.

BA (a step): "I will ever live devoted to you, speaking words of love and praying for your happiness."

Close shot – Gandhi.

GANDHI: "Take a fifth step, that we may serve the people."
BA: "I will follow close behind you and help to serve the people."

Featuring Walker, now too entranced by the ceremony, by the depth of layered emotions in Gandhi and Ba's voices and eyes to take any notes . . .

GANDHI: "Take a sixth step, that we may follow our vows in life."
BA: "I will follow you in all our vows and duties."

Ba and Gandhi. Near to meeting now.

GANDHI (a last step): "Take the seventh step, that we may ever live as friends."

Ba takes the last step, so that they are face to face. A beat.

BA: "You are my best friend . . . my highest guru, and my sovereign lord."

For a moment their eyes hold – the many dreams, and hopes and pain – the love of many years.
Walker watches, his own face taut with emotion.
Resume Gandhi and Ba. And Gandhi slowly lifts his hand.

GANDHI: Then I put a sweetened wheat cake in her mouth.

He touches Ba's lips with his extended fingers and she kisses them gently.

BA: And I put a sweetened wheat cake in his mouth.

She has lifted her fingers to his mouth and he kisses them gently.
Featuring Walker and Collins both touched, the overtly cynical American obviously even more than the likeable Englishman.
Gandhi turns to them.

GANDHI: And with that we were pronounced man and wife. (Solemnly) We were both thirteen . . .

(acknowledgement :

Monday, July 18, 2005

Laptop mighter than razor?

News bite from the inquirer, a laptop generates enough heat to burn the user's pants and set off the smoke detector in a plane, which almost brought the plane down. you can find it here

This is about the same time everyone keeps talking about how low power design is as important as speed ... The amount of heat a computer can generate is impressive (not very impressive from an engineering point of view, though...)

Does this mean a bunch of geeks armed with laptops (esp. with the right overclocking etc) can be as dangerous as any trained armed insurgent?

Does it mean people will have to check-in their laptops too? So, now you can neither shave nor play games or look busy with emails on a plane? Laptops go up in the list of evil things you cannot carry into an airplane? Razors and forks are not the only tools of the devil, enter a new cousin.... the laptop =)


Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Interesting audio-visual piece by Fred Conrad of the NYT. He catalogs the different tribes in New York City. LDS missionaries, Goths, Sand Hogs, Messengers, and I hope there is more to come.

Wonder what the tribes of Silicon Valley would look like, geeks, hackers, artists, venture capitalists, ...

Tribe (from the Merriam-Webster online )

Pronunciation: 'trIb
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin tribus, a division of the Roman people, tribe
1 a : a social group comprising numerous families, clans, or generations together with slaves, dependents, or adopted strangers b : a political division of the Roman people orig. representing one of the three original tribes of ancient Rome c : PHYLE
2 : a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest
3 : a category of taxonomic classification ranking below a subfamily; also : a natural group irrespective of taxonomic rank

Monday, July 11, 2005

Wislawa Szymborska

Ready for another poet(ess) yet? Well, let me add another one of my favourites - Wislawa Szymborska. Another poet whose translated works I love. She is a polish poetess who gained much deserved recognition in the English speaking world, in the mid 90s, after winning the Nobel prize (for case anyone was confused =) ).

I was particularly impressed by the fact that she caught the Nobel committee's attention without using any 'major' cause or high drama, as a crutch. Her poems tend to deal with the 'mundane' and 'simple' things. If I were to look for an analogy in Bollywood, her poems are more like the Farooque Sheikh films, as opposed to the Amitabh Bachan blockbusters. There is no high drama and larger than life images, but simple, elegant and touching potrayal of real life and issues people deal with.

Here is a wonderful poem called Funeral (find the poem at the very end of this link). Of course, it is copyrighted yada yada, so here are a small snippets.

From Funeral,

"so suddenly, who would've expected it"

"stress and cigarettes, I told him"


"unwrap these flowers"

"his brother's heart did him in too, must run in the family"


"good-bye Ma'am"

"let's go grab a beer somewhere"

"I'm going this way"

"we're not"

If you enjoyed that, you must try her first poem that caught my attention, True Love. Addicted yet?! =) Then here, a link to a large collection of her poems.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Falling in love ... with Rilke

Falling in love with a poem is a very exciting and equally inexplicable thing. It happens time and again. But everytime, its a whole new pain and pleasure!

The first Rilke poem I read was called the Spanish Dancer. Ah! the images it creates in your mind. I cannot see a flamengo dancer now and not think of this poem. Unfortunately, I have to be happy with reading the english translation for now. I can only imagine the how beautiful it must be in german!

If you did like Spanish Dancer, try You.

"For verses are not, as people imagine, simply feelings (those one has early enough), -they are experiences. For the sake of a single verse, one must see many cities, men and things, one must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the little flowers open in the morning."

-Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Rainer Maria Rilke)