Thursday, March 31, 2005

An idea that interested me...

A recent post on this blog really got me excited. I really hope it gets implemented soon. Feel free to visit the blog and read the post. Pretty short one (by my standards)...

Sunday, March 27, 2005

New posts elsewhere

Hi, For those interested in innovation/inventing/creativity, please visit John and my blog for something that might be a different, though, interesting read.

Alternative C......

This was an old post whose date I have altered merely to re-visit the issue along with all of you. Read on, reflect and please let me know! :-)

Sit back and listen. Don't worry how, but I assure you that your finances for life are taken care of. There doesn't exist a status problem for you in society (you will always be treated as someone related to the King of Travancore). Whenever you want money, I will provide it for you. In short I am funding your life and prestige. Now wallow in this utopia for some time. No seriously, shut your eyes and imagine yourself in such a world. All I ask is 2 minutes (Earth minutes). You could spruce your family with as many kids as you want and not worry about how you are going to handle their school fees or their food and clothing. Too little space? You get a new house, pronto. 7 BHK. 10 BHK. 50 BHK. You name it. Don't worry how and don't think me dumb.
And if you have reached here before the end of 2 minutes, don't be so disobedient.
Now that you have spent sufficient time in the world which (if you realised) you created for yourself, answer one question of mine:
What will we you do with the time you have? How will you fill your days? What will you do as an (in the true sense of the word) occupation? Ok fine, answer all 3 of these (actually they are the same written differently, for each appeals to a different set of people).

I really look forward to answers. I can count on at least one!
Now answer another question: What do you do now (or slated to do in the near future) to earn a living?

The title of this blog was supposed to be Alternative Careers, but didn't want to give it away.

ps: BHK => Bedroom-Hall-Kitchen

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


One is so interesting; it can take me from nothing to everything and back...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The craziness of me...

I have no clue on how I should start this post. I have this vague feeling that I must write, and write I will, knowing that it might end up as a huge crowd of words which make sense to none but me, and to me only till tomorrow, but I do not know where to start. Very little countable things happened to me last week. I was a shade unwell, although the illness might have been more in the mind than anywhere I could place a finger on, and I really haven't figured where to place my finger when someone asks me to point out my mind!! And it is weird how my cursor jumps back 2 lines when I hit the ctrl and "S" together, like a kid playfully, arms akimbo, taking a step back when I ask her to come over to me.

I suppose I owe my reading for this week to Amrita. I owe my reading to my English teachers in school, but the topic I owe it to Amrita, and that is fair. A certain amount of reading was forced into me by SensiblyStoned (SS) as well, although they (obectivism and nanophotonics) earned themselves a cursory perusal unlike the tease which Amrita fed me. Speaking of teases I must admit how annoyed I was when SS quite clearly guessed my weakness to search and read up about new information. I was so disappointed that my ways were wandering naked in my writings, and I wasn't suave enough to guise them in more opaque garb though less pretentious. Well, I did read about nanophotonics, but I digress. I offer you to search for the word pedantic in this post and read thereafter (and a few words before) if all you seek is quick entertainment, which is a fair thing to seek.

This post is more about what Amrita did to make me stop sharp and short in my tracks and listen. It is very interesting and enticing when one throws tangy words at me and more so, look quizzically at me and ask, "What? Didn't you notice?" And I am all aflutter and busy understanding what I missed. To miss something can be extremely exciting, for it tells me that I have acknowledged the worth of something else more and enough to miss something which someone sees as stark and obvious. Isn't it so? Once while I listened to a piece of music and was lost in the words, I was thrilled when my cousin walked up to me and said "Notice that tring tring in the song?" and I stopped the music and restarted the piece. Then I watched out for the tring tring and the words were all around me like warm scented water in a bath tub. Amrita, I am sure with least design and machination, threw the following words at me: Stream of consciousness. Please read it again. Taste it. If you aren't off to know more about it, then I have failed to seduce you with the efficacy that Amrita's comments had. Oh! do indulge me by saying that you are reading on because you feel that this post might have enough about "stream of consciousness" as you might care to gather, and you wouldn't be faulted in assuming so, in as much as this post being a source of information. You still here? Damn. Let's try again: stream of (lick your lips) consciousness.
Well, let's go on together. The first time I read it, it simply kept ringing in my head and the constant voice saying "Maybe she is simply being nice" kept me away from wondering too much about it. I had heard the idea and phrase earlier and had associated it with Faulkner. Mind you, I refer to the writing gushing out of stream of consciousness more than anything else in this post. I might present other products of it, like a shrewd shop keeper trying to keep you longer at his store with the hope that your feet might find roots there and buying something might serve as the only means of deliverance, but writing is what I am most interested in. Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" is his most talked about work and it is funny that the title derives from Shakespeare's Macbeth's soliloquy (Act 5 Scene 5) where he mumbles thus (upon hearing that the queen was dead):

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Interesting the way he looks at life. Out, out, brief candle! Life is but a walking shadow... aaah so interesting. A walking shadow he says, not a living one. Struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more... so true. Shakespeare sure had the gift.
Why is it funny? Well, neither Shakespeare nor Macbeth tickle me as much as the connection (and did you know that in Old English it was spelt connexion?) that a work stemming from a stream of consciousness find its stamp, its title, which is the only thing allowed to repeat on every page of a book, from a soliloquy. An elderly gentleman, who found himself on my blog about Taoism, asked me thus:
"U prefer soliloqy why?Can U not meditate or analyze or ponder while U are walking,eating playing ,while with others sharing something? And why do U say devil while in soliloqy. Why not angel?Why not nothingness(Nihilism)"

I shall not go into that, but spend some time settling the confusion I might have unknowingly created in your mind. Please read on , and I know that might not be how you would prefer someone to settle your confusion, that is, by requesting you to read on, but I assure you that what I bring to you hereafter might help you reach that state of "Aaah".

When Amrita re-stated her opinion, and what might that be? if you wonder, it was that my manner, and I don't use the word "style" as I shall soon explain why, so manner it shall be of my writing reminded her of what she had heard, and perhaps been audience to, of the concept of stream of consciousness writing, and now that you are comfortably in context, let me continue; when she re-stated her opinion in another comment, I was intrigued. I wasn't ready to let it ring in some dark recess of my bulb -- and I borrow this from what I read in Douglas Hofstadter's "Godel Escher Bach" -- atop my shoulders. Stream of consciousness. I decided to pack bags, go out and figure out what it exactly was.

Since this is not a post on the history of the "stream of consciousness" concept, I shall spare you and my fingers from discussing it. It is interesting that Henry James's (who gave us Wings of the Dove, Ambassadors, and other interesting books) brother William James coined this term way back in 1892. But those who made it famous came later (not many have heard of Dujardin). Works of Joyce, Faulkner and Virginia Woolf are noted for their style akin to what is expected when one writes in a stream of consciousness.

Let me now tell you what exactly it is. Firstly, what I have understood it to be. I understand the manner, and I shant call it style or technique for I see conscious cunning in them which, I believe, cannot exist while one wades in the stream of consciousness, so I insist that it is a manner of writing in which the writer very clearly removes all dykes necessitated to write coherently, usually chronologically and ensuring that the theme, the leitmotif is not lost. It is, in simpler words, putting down things as they come to the mind and as the senses are made aware. So while one speaks about the well dressed man crossing the road, in a novel which could be any that you might pick from a rack, the writer is unable, mind you, it is inability and not craft, to prevent mentioning about other things that come to mind in the form of sounds, smells, memory, parallels, etc. So the reader, though fairly drained of his attention, is engaged in whatever the character goes through at each point of time, choosing no particular object of a particular sense over another. And what better phrase to employ than stream of consciousness. Let me pause here. I like the phrase.

I would suggest you visit this link, to know what The Columbia Encyclopedia has to say about this. But whether you do that or not, I would try with what lies in my capacity to coax you into visiting this link and read William James's address to teachers. Elsewhere I read a terse but fairly clear explanation for stream of consciousness writing: a special mode of narration that undertakes to capture the full spectrum and the continuous flow of a character's mental process. Why can't I make what I say as terse as this? Let me try. Presenting a character's complete recallable perceptions, sensory or otherwise, in writing. There you go. Terse and tasteless. One must read, oh! I can't order that of you but let it be read as a request, this article from the Literary Encyclopedia.

I just realised that I have written a lot. It does get tiring to realise that, although the act of writing itself is invigorating. A friend of mine recently told me that my mail to her was more than half her dissertation. I suppose that is another, albeit intellectual, way of saying that I go on endlessly.

So, after gaining an understanding of what being in a stream of consciousness was, I decided to read Ms. Woolf and Joyce and Faulkner to understand how it reveals itself. I shall spare a separate post to discuss Mrs. Dalloway by Ms. Woolf. She is amazing, simply amazing. I wanted to discuss it right here, but I realise that length and boredom walk hand in hand.

Then I returned to my writing. I read nearly all my pieces on this blog and in my journals and elsewhere. I assure you I was as critical as a jeweler is of a diamond. I was glad that I could agree with Amrita's opinion. The characteristics of writing in a stream of consciousness include the following:
1. Seamless translocation to another perception or idea while seemingly involved in one
2. Involves senses and the works of the mind pertaining to these senses
3. Interior monologues, or soliloquy (see? I told you I would connect them all for you before you left for bed)
4. Long sentences (Joyce wrote really long ones. REALLY LONG)

Since I could see a little of all of these in my writing, I would agree with Amrita's opinion. But let me be honest here. This post should have been out a few days ago (I spent the night reading Mrs. Dalloway with the urgent need to complete this post, but ended up falling in love with Ms. Woolf). The reason I held it back was simply to lose my interest in agreeing with Amrita. Once, I was able to shed my interest, I revisited the issue and couldn't help but agree with her.

I shant be so pedantic and quote portions of my writing which shall go about to establish that, but I bare myself a little bit and hope to gain credibility, thereby.

I suppose my need to concur with Amrita in her analysis, stems from the exciting promise of being called (on my mobile "called" is 2 hits on 2, on 5 and 3. 2+3=5. Very interesting word) crazy. I am not sure how many people have this fetish of being called crazy. Mind you, there is nothing derogatory about it. It is like being called a bookworm or geek or ... you know, nice things wrapped in awe and inappropriate words. To be known for one's thoughts and not for one's tangible repertoire (pronounced: re-perth-wahr) of qualities and characteristics is an accolade in itself. Though I must confess the fancy of dying to an illness of the mental faculties (in their physiological or in their esoteric sense) holds me in its grip and it has been several years since I have felt it slacken.
So how did stream of consciousness and craziness tie themselves up together in eternal bonds? you ask while, I hope, you do grant me the recognition of dovetailing stream of consciousness and soliloquy fairly well. This article from the Harvard Gazette should be an interesting read to those who raised that question (and now to those who see Harvard and wouldn't want to be amongst those who haven't read something from THERE!! ;-). I shall quote what I find relevant (although the article's title seems to be about irrelevance):

Focusing on every sight, sound, and thought that enters your mind can drive a person crazy.

and then the article goes on to share this anecdote, which I, for my part, share with you:

A man is driving past a mental hospital when one of the wheels falls off his car. He stops and recovers the wheel but can't find the lug nuts to secure it back in place. Just then he notices a man sitting on the curb carefully removing small pebbles from the grass and piling them neatly on the sidewalk.

"What am I going to do?" the man asks aloud. The fellow piling the pebbles looks up, and says, "Take one of the lug nuts from each of the other wheels and use them to put the wheel back on."

The driver is amazed. "Wow!" he exclaims. "What a brilliant idea. What are you doing in a place like this?" he asks, nodding toward the mental institution.

"Well," the man answers, "I'm crazy, not stupid."

As you might note, there is no moral high on which my acceptance can place me, neither can I claim to be recipient of greatness, because stream of consciousness writing in itself cannot belong to anyone. I was recently trying to explain the same thing to a friend of mine, but I digress. I believe the higher consciousness, or lower if you will paint a base consciousness from which we deviate by knowledge or inattention, should be allowed to rule one's activities. Well, I can surely escape blame!! ;-) I am of the opinion that conscious stream of consciousness writing cannot be pure stream of consciousness writing. OOOOH WEEEH!! That was a lot of "con" in that sentence ;-)!! I suppose there is a lot of "Amrita" in this post too!!! :-))

I would like to thank you for making my week worthwhile.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Creativity and Beauty

I suppose I will always remain an artist at heart. Employment in a technical domain and banausic pursuits haven't sullied my love for the arts. Be it painting (which is one of the first things that comes to one's mind when one hears "art"), music, sculpturing, pottery, fabric works, furniture, sketching, architecture, carving, cooking, writing, drawing, interior decoration, dancing, etc., I have always felt blissful when in the midst of these. I have cousins who sing and a sister who has learnt Bharatanatyam (an Indian classical dance form) and various relatives engrossed in some form of art.
A while ago, about 3-5 years ago, I realised that my love, which I thought was directed towards art forms, was misrepresented. I realised, much to my joy, that I was in love with creating and beauty. Now, as often in conversations with me, you must realise what I mean by creating. By creating I mean a wholesome involvement in a process which results in something fairly new (as in experience or an entity).
Let me gather my thoughts here...Yes, I am fairly satisfied with the concept I have of "creating" (created while writing this post). Hence, creating now would include inventing, innovation (subtle difference does exist) and artistic pursuits. I shall not spend more time in defining and technical details.
I love solving problems (puzzles, inter-personal, corporate, strategic, mathematical, philosophical, etc.) and this love runs fairly on top (depends on your locus) of my love for creating. Coming up with new recipes when stuck with seemingly non-friendly vegetables, a new way of decorating the house, a new algorithm (or a new application of an old algo) for the problem at hand, all these and more excite me immensely. I find it re-assuring when I hear that people deviated from their line of engineering (or similar technical and focused fields) to indulge in art.
I, hence, enjoy the company of creative people. People who love to create and enjoy beauty. One such person I happened to meet (in virtual-land) is John Tunney. I am amazed at his discipline to keep churning out ideas on a regular basis. His discipline results from recording all his ideas methodically (either on Global Ideas Bank, of which we are both members, or on his blog) as well as sitting at it systematically. I will leave him to explain his methods if any. We decided to work on a creativity and innovation blog in which we would put forth all the ideas and inventions and innovations we come up with (together and independently). It is still not in full form. In times of patenting I am sure this is the most foolish thing to do, but I am of the opinion that ideas don't belong to anyone; ideas choose people. When I visit his blog, I am like a kid in a toy shop. Everything looks promising and exciting and wonderful. Well, I do not say that all his ideas are of great appeal (sorry John, no offense), but the pregnancy of his mind and the discipline (unlike me) to stick to it, make me relish his company. Thank you, John, and you will have to wait a long time before I can transfer all my sketches (mechanical, circuit diagrams, furniture, etc.) and ideas from loose papers, notebooks ( I have this problem of filling 10-20 pages and then falling in love with another notebook), envelopes and paper napkins (I don't remember where else I store info, though I recently gathered some info about the brake system in school buses from an old air-ticket of mine!!) onto our blog. I hope you don't get bugged by then. Please. :-)
Earlier on, I had met a soft-spoken guy when he joined my current company. One evening I invited him home (because he wanted to borrow a book). I decided to chat with him as I was feeling bored and asked him to stay a while longer. Soon we started discussing software strategies and programming issues and then we stuck to our excited discussion for nearly 2-3 hours!!! He and I filed the first patent for our company (from the India office). He is no longer with this company, and I miss him a lot. He is having fun in his new company but still misses out on the maddening conversations we used to have (these were one of the only things that made me forget my food, the other being teaching). Thanks a tonne, S. You were and still are wonderful. Please tell your wife that I won't take any more of her time with you!!
In the blog world, amongst the blogs I visit, I admire those of Meera and Xena. They combine content with pictures wonderfully. Xena's contents are of varying appeal and her sense of introducing visuals is brilliant. Meera's contents are a treasure and her (usualy) single picture is well set in context with what she writes. Lakshmi's blog is amazing in its poetic content which is consistently enticing in its variety and import. This is creativity for me. Guys, thanks for enriching my blogging experience. And to all the other bloggers whose works I read and comment on.
I do not want this post to be a platform for showcasing my works of creativity. What I wish to do, nevertheless, is discuss the need for creative communities. I have always loved the concept of Kalakshetra in Madras (not sure if it is there elsewhere). I love the concept of Dakshin Chitra (which is managed/run by my sister's friend). I love the concept of KFI centres and retreats. But do we see that these are exclusive and not inclusive in their very nature (although at the KFI centre here we are trying to make it inclusive)? I am of the understanding that earlier communities in India supported artisans, craftsmen, poets, musicians et al. This is also true of communities during the Renaissance in Europe (will blog about this later). I read in Maugham's Razor's Edge, of Parisian localities for artisans which made me want to pack bags and leave for Paris (which I dropped as soon I gathered information about the exchange rate!).
Here is my notion of this entire thing. Creators can be happily involved in creation as long as their basic needs are met. If we could establish a community which creates and which is taken care of by those (I avoid using the phrase "not creative") who aren't interested in creating (but might do so sporadically), then we have a chance of nurturing the creative spirit. I have (and continue to modify and exact) plans of constructing a huge (not because grandeur attracts my inner eye, but merely because the breadth of this plan pours into the physical size of the centre itself) centre of creativity where people are allowed to enter and inhabit (condition to availability of space) as long as they can spend their time creating (here sincerity and dedication is implicit). What they create would be initially used to create funds for the centre. We could convince the Govt. (don't ask me how. If it has to be done, it will be) to make contributions to the centre as tax-free. Fund raising avenues can always be determined. All artisans will live in similar conditions (the last thing I want is rivalry). Schools (my area of concern) would be involved in this in the form of sessions which last for few days. Raising funds is not much of a problem (trust me, it can be managed) as long as we can find a a purpose behind all of this.
I hear so many people say, "I would love to paint and I do it whenever I have time, but now with the job and the kid... Let's be practical" or on similar lines. This is something I cannot tackle at present. I would love to work in a place like IDEO or Pentagram and realise my love to create along with a chance for earning an appealing amount every month, or I can get into a software company and file patents (which is pretty much what I do currently) and simultaneously do mundane stuff, but this tends to be fragmentary.I invite people to provide me (and in turn everyone) with inputs and issues facing this concept. Art is where life is.

For those interested in innovation and creativity, the following link might be of interest (not the best in my collection but simply somthing I stumbled upon recently):
Bruce Mau's manifesto

Friday, March 11, 2005

Information Overload

I'll let you into my room today. Nothing fabulous about it. A large rectangular space with a small alcove extension. The reason I let you into my room is not to grab in the details about its size or shape but to let you know how cluttered it usually is. I woke up in the morning around 4:30 hrs. Called a friend of mine who wanted to share a secret with me but was challenging herself to hold it till the following Saturday morning, for reasons I am yet to know. She was awake (she works at that time). I kept pleading and she kept resisting untill I realised that such games tell on an STD call! That girl is bratty (if there ever was such a word) as can be. I hung up and prepared myself for the day. After the usual ablutions I decided to check my mail and see whether I can catch my team online before they left for the day (rather, their day). I booted my system to realise that the my network status was "Network cabel unplugged". The rains were candidate for blame or it could have been one of those noisy cats which mistook the hub for lazy game. Bad cat.

I also had to comment on a few blogs which I had missed out over the past few days (blame it on a hectic schedule) as well as reply to Krish's mail. I think I will do that today. But hey! No network. So I switched off my machine. What does one do at 4:50 hrs with a whole day ahead of him? I could take the practical suggestions of my friend and go out for a walk or cycling or jogging or watch the sun rise. But she was missing something. IT HAD RAINED LAST NIGHT. Sloshy roads, slippery tarmac, cloudy skies, laziness. I stayed indoors and dry! I couldn't turn on the music as my folks were sleeping (like most other human beings I know).

Then I took stock of my room. This is where you come in (if you are still with me). Picture this. A fairly large room (the plan called it the master bedroom. I took it simply because I had enough space for my books) with a bed (single ;-), a computer table, a cupboard (those Godrej steel ones), a steel book rack (with glass shutters) and a wardrobe (which was intended to be one till I) filled with more books and lofts with cartons of books. I also have an air cooler (other things are cooled in the refrigerator) which is topped with books and papers about 1 foot high. Currently I have my bicycle also parked in my room and it is covered with my clothes (some need to be washed because they are soiled and some because they have been on that cycle for too long). The central portion of the room is vacant. Everything sticks to the wall as if scared to that end by some invisible monster in the middle of the room. Now that you have a picture (Oh! my bed is not a a four poster bed. Simple old fashioned teak bed about 6.5 feet long and hence just right). The chairs were covered with books and paper and clothes. Sometimes the scraps of paper were in the pockets of the clothes.
I decided to clean my room. I am sure other things were possible, but this seemed necessary. You might find the remaining portion of this post boring, so you would do well to jump to the end, or simply read on to know what happened to me today morning (and the reason why I am the way I am). I hauled all the docs (hereafter docs will refer to both bound books and sheets of paper awaiting some form of binding) from atop the cooler onto my bed. What do we have here? Design patterns by Martin Fowler. Damn, I wanted to read that weeks ago. Beneath it was another document about automatic code generation from patterns. I had placed them together because I wanted to read them together, rather in quick succession. Hmmm, they will have to wait. I placed them neatly in a pile which would soon house all the things I had planned to read but haven't yet done. I found a document about Zen meditation and zazen. Master Dodgen (or that is what I remember) says, "If you must follow the Buddha Way, you must go into your self, to go into your self is to lose your self, to lose your self is to be enlightened by a thousand things." Cool. What else does this article hold? I sat down to read it. Within 2 minutes I realised that I had lost 2 minutes of my cleaning time. I added this to the Should Read But Not Read (hereafter called SoRe BuNoR) pile. There were some more documents on patterns which I shoved into my green cloth envelope and placed that in the "Programming languages and Networking" section of the steel rack. Good. Next. I found a few old copies of India Today Book Club. Why did I subscribe to this when I don't buy anything from here? That is one thing I realise, never apply the head where the heart is supposed to rule. I love books, but when I have to buy online or place orders, I rationalise and hem and haw with myself till I end up not buying (to which my mom says in not-so-soft-tones "THIS is the result of not buying and resisting?"). Anyway, these issues are a waste. Add them to the trash pile. What else do I have? Design magazines. IDI (India design and Interiors), Design Today. Why are they still here? Hmmm, nice article on minimalism. Later. Weekend? Nope. Next weekend. I stashed them away in the "Design Magazines" section of the lower shelf in the wardrobe. FEMINA? What on earth is a Femina doing in my room. My sis needs to be killed for dropping her stuff here. Aah, no. This is the magazine I wanted to keep. It had some good olive oil based recipes. Hmmm. I opened the magazine to the right page and walked over to the kitchen and left it open on the counter. This will remind mom to ask me "Why is this magazine here?". What else? Lyrics of "Woh Kaagaz ki Khashthi". Brilliant lyrics wonderfully sung by Jagjit Singh. This is one of finest nazms sung by Jagjit Singh. Nope, it is not a ghazal. Ghazals have technical requirements. I don't know how long I am going to fight for the right definition of a ghazal!! :-( I decide to keep it, but, wait, what is there on the flipside of it? Telephone numbers and scores? I hate my sis. She was taking some silly quiz in some silly magazine and noting her answers. God save her. I kept the sheet nevertheless. Into the music and misc. shelf of the wardrobe.What is this? A paper coaster. Aah, this is the one I picked up from Le Meridien, Pune. It had an interesting note printed on it. "Culture is one's desire for perfection." or something like that. I had kept this with me for over nearly a year. Okee. This goes to my comp. table. Health magazines which, one look at me and you would know, I don't read. Some more lyrics and notes (Panivizhum Malarvanam, etc.) all were sent to the music and misc shelf. Communications of the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery). Hmmm. I need to read these. There was one interesting issue about blogging with the title "Blogosphere". Had some interesting articles like "Why do we blog?". I can't post them here as they are copyright and members only. Into the SoRe BuNoR. Sheets of my writings ages ago. Some vague quotes and observations of a daily life, a few "To Do" and some ghazals. I have no clue what made me write this:

In saalon se kyaa mila gham-e-rusvayee ke siva

Tarq-e-jallaad se kyaa kahen "Meherbaani" ke siva

Astrological Magazine (a pursuit I keep telling myself that I have quit) issues with a now debunked Sankaracharya's picture on it. A few Queue magazines about the next programming language and testing. An anthology of poems compiled by a Nobel laureate (SoRe BuNoR), Vladimir Nobokov's short story collections (translated by his son), How do you move Mount Fuji, GOD.
No, no, the last one isn't a book, it is my call to god. I just sat down feeling too tired - mentally. There were books and documents in so many subjects and covering various levels of details. I was suddenly feeling overwhelmed. How on earth was I planning to read them all? Why did I bother to get them into this room? There was no way I could read all of this. There was this book exclusively on Michelangelo (no not the Turtles character but the original sculptor), and then the Golden Sayings of Epictetus and Ramana Maharshi's works. Of course there was a bit of JK everywhere. Then there was another pile of design magazines waiting to be organised and a few Outlook Money issues. Massive ring binders filled with documents on writing and the craft of writing. No, I won't give you a break. You entered my room so please stay with me till the end. I was near hysterical. A list of the top 100 books of the last millenium (which ended a few years ago), Grid computing news, Serious Creativity (Ed De Bono), 366 readings about Taoism and Confucianism, Buzan's books on mind mapping, Cobuilds Grammar guide, Dynamics of the creative mind, Immediate Fiction, Tipping Point (Gladwell), various notebooks (oh, fine. I have a soft corner for stationery) and a huge pile of word a day mails. Yes, I love collecting words and have been doing so since god-knows-when. Now I get about 10 words a day (email) and I enjoy reading them. This is when I moved all the docs to the centre of the room and sat between them.
There is too much to know in this world. Nothing is "worth it" or nothing is "more relevant". All of them sound fun and interesting to me. Here is what my room and a quotidian day in my life gives me as information.
10 words a day.

I get a summary of all the latest news which I hardly ever read.

A weekly summmary of all news and articles related to: Grid computing, storage virtualisation, storage provisioning, creativity, innovations, teaching

My room contains about 100-200 novels and stories in bound or yet-to-be-bound format. This excludes the 700+ novels on CDs and on my computer. Which excludes the innumerous articles and PS/PDFs about various subjects on my comp.

Magazines from the ACM (CACM, Queue)Design magazines (IDI, DT, etc.)



Web content feeds

Comp. Sci. articles and books.

Songs and music

Creativity, innovation articles and books

Novels, short stories and fiction. Poetry and non-fiction.

Business articles

General news articles

Mails (business and personal)


Blogs (the latest addition to my list)

How does one say no? The need to know doesn't wait for a no. Or a yes. There is so much to know, so many interesting things to see and only 24 hours in a day. It is overwhelming. I just ordered 3 books on!! I've let you into my mind today.

ps: I would like to thank my friend who found this picture for me which seemed to fit into this post purrrfectly. No, I don't have dolls in my room!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The picture I was referring to in a comment I made earlier about why I like Madras, rather what about Madras do I like a lot.
This kolam was made on the streets surrounding Parthasarathy Perumal Koil. This kolam was prepared in a span of 10 minutes by a young girl whom I have known since she was a little kid. The speed and the mind boggling precision with which she worked must be seen. I looked down the road and there were more women at the same job (though with different designs). A wonderful sight indeed.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Blog updated

For those interested, the other blog has been updated... Well, for those who aren't, the blog is still updated!!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Homesick? For which home?

It is a sad life when one watches people go home for the weekend and realises that one has none. Well, I do have a home but no real sense of home. As in, I do have a sense of home, but no sense of being away from a home. Everyone has a home to go to. I carry my home wherever I go. Pretty much like them pikeys (please refer to a forthcoming post about the movie Snatch). The bitter part is that they have a name: Pikeys. I really can't call myself anything. And that is a sad thing, being a no-name.
I was born in a city which I left before I realised that I was born. Madras (no way am I calling it Chennai) was always a place I went for the summers (ain't that the stupidist thing to do? Who listens to me anyway?) and met relatives whose names I had a difficult time remembering. Bombay (you won't even catch me dead saying Mumbai. Its Bombay city) was where I grew up for the first 10 years of my life. The nicest 10 contiguous years. Bombay made me (borrowed unabashedly from Graham Greene's "England made me"). I believe a few relatives died while I was in Bombay, but I hadn't yet learnt to miss people who are dead, because I hadn't learnt how to miss people at all. I enjoyed the company of everyone while they hung around me. That in a way, helped me a lot. It sorta prepared me for what my life had to give me. All those 10 years, I kept travelling to various places. All over India. I was rarely in a place for more than 6 straight months. When I sang "Homeward bound" as a part of the school choir, one of my friends from Imphal cried. I wasn't really THAT bad. I still had a girl's voice (which helped my sister push all her unwanted calls to me, and I would speak on her behalf without giving her off to her friend on the other end!). I asked him (yeah, I was in an all boy's school, and I loved that more than all the co-ed schools I have been in. I don't think I would go back to one, though) what happened. He told me he missed home. When I related this incident to my mother, she asked me "Why did he cry?". Like every mom she thought I sang so well that I had moved him to tears. Puhleease!! Sounds so corny. I told her, "Ma'am shouted at him for not finishing his homework." I couldn't have explained the missing-home thing and hence couldn't provide that reasoning.
Then we moved to Lucknow. I remember Lucknow only for its rich curds and hot milk in metal containers which I would dutifully pick from the cowshed (the smell of which I grew to like before I left that city). That city taught English in Hindi ( I should have joined La Martiniere where I had an invitation to join, were it not for the distance and the alien responsibility of escorting my sister) and I truly hate it when someone messes with that language (some of you must be aware of my beliefs on hate and love). I have grown sentimental towards Urdu now, but hey! English is English. My early childhood was swathed in English (not American), and the only words in Tamil I knew were "Amma" and "Appa" (which, technically, are not Tamiyy or Tamizh). Is my English spotless? Far from it, but I still love that language. English for prose and Urdu for poetry. Anyway, Lucknow will be remembered for introducing me to Urdu and Avadhi (I shall relegate an entire post to my exposure to the many languages and how I enjoyed them more than my company with humans). It also made me fat, which I still carry around like dead weight (well, it actually is).
The education system was so bad that we moved to Madras. Stayed in our house in Mylapore about 5 minutes from the beach. From our terrace, I had the church to the East, a temple to the West and a mosque to the North. I had coconut trees and my best friend's house to the South. That house is gone (sold) and so have the trees. My friend is still around growing closer to me by the day. Wonderful guy. Any girl who wants an Iyer boy, please let me know. You can't find a finer gentleman than him (or maybe you can, but why waste time looking?). Madras gave me little more than ruin my English further. Lucknow gave me the "baba" and "re" that I used to add to my sentences, though I got over it pretty fast. Madras made it difficult for me not to add the "aa" at the end of every question. "Yes-aa?", "no-vaa?". God saved me. I found it difficult to stay away from other words too, like "Machchi" and other words which I can't put down in writing. My Tamiyy/~zh still sounds un-Madrasi and I like it that way. My Lucknowi Hindi (which has a good mix of Urdu by now) was considered unacceptable in my exam papers!! I would serenade my classmates with old Hindi songs (I couldn't get the words of the Tamiyy/~zh numbers, though I think I can now do so) or English melodies (which they hadn't heard as MTV hadn't yet crept into India).
Then dad got transferred to Bombay again. This time Bombay undid all the beauty it had once given me, but loyalty is a quality that sometimes astonishes the most gelid minds. I suppose I will always love Bomaby although it is not my home. This phase in Bombay was painful.
I left for Pune and enjoyed my stay there. Pune was and still is a city I hug when I get off the train/flight. I mean literally. I stretch out my arms and hope no one gets their teeth knocked off. Pune also gave me "Country Roads" by Denver making me realise that I have no home to call my own.
I left Pune for Hyderabad. God knows when I will leave Hydi. Hydi has given me a good house and home. I like it. Built in a vague colonial style with lawns (for my mom) and temple about 2 minutes away. I love the sounds of bells and chants (during the Dhanur/Margayyi/~zhi months). I shall return everyday to it for some more time.
Over this travel I never once felt connected to a single city, which made it easier for me to leave one and go to the other (no, this cannot be likened to anything else in my life). I really love Bombay and Pune. They are like a pal. Just being there to make it worth one's while. I love the music season of Madras and when the pradosham is conducted in Mylapore. I like the chaat (which I would buy for Rs. 2) and rustic feel of Lucknow. I love the mishti dhoi and Durga festival of Calcutta. I love the "nyaan" and "O" of Palaghat. I love Trivandrum for Ananthpadmanaban temple. I love the Punjabi conversations and rajma-chaawal of Delhi. I also liked the early October of Delhi. Hyderabad gave me a sense of being a professional and a lot of time to re-visit my love: philosophy.
But I have no place to call my own. No place to go to with the hope of being received like a man returning after a long time away from home. An empty college, an empty department, and empty office during Diwali made that feeling worse. However light I make of it, not belonging anywhere is not a pleasant feeling.
And guv'nor, I ain't no pikey!