Friday, December 08, 2006

Temporary teetotaler?

It is tough to pull it off when you are in the vicinity of a bar called 'Whiskey Dicks'!. That too after a 5 hour drive through clogged roads. (a fast 5 hour journey on an empty road is less tiresome than a 5 hour journey inhibited by traffic, even if you're just a passenger..wonder why...anyways thats besides the point). I had gone to Lake Tahoe with Jai(my bro-in-law) a couple of weekends back. The journey, longer than expected...the destination, colder than expected...i was awfully underclothed in the bottoms dept. In any case we decided to go to a bar. I had recently decided be a teetotaler until April, to meet some agenda of mine. Primarily because i smoke whenever i drink and my resolve to not smoke may not hold water after a couple of rounds of water. So i thought i'll let Jai drink and i would have lemonade or some such inconsequential fluid, not fully beleiving it.

So we went to 'Whiskey dicks'. A small poster announced "Tip, you bastard!". Another more conspicuous one politely requested "Help our bartenders get ugly people laid". Now, if you enter a place like this, and you like the idea of drinking, the drinkers' rule book says you ought not to come out without a drink or two. So i readily agreed when Jai suggested Beer. There was this nerdy guy in the bar who had a Rubic's cube and solved it under a minute for you if you bought him a shot. He was rather good at it...and in the slight tipsy state i felt sorry for him...not sure why...maybe because i thought some one as smart as that should be able to buy his own drink, shouldn't he? But then, he pawns what he knows for a drink, just the way i pawn what i know for a monthly pay cheque. Now that the drink's effect has long worn off i am less sorry for him. Somewhere along the way we saw two women kissing. Thats a first. Jai went 'That was hot man!'. I continued to concentrate on the beer. For me, to be turned on, if i am not directly involved in the act, the act has to be 2-dimensional and i should be alone. I am a pile of contradictions in this department (i hope everyone is), so lets leave it at it. After the drink, we went to an Italian restaurant close by. As we entered, a mom-daughter pair was leaving with the daughter telling her mom "Mom, you're drunk...walk shouldn't be drinking so much at 80". For some reason, that had a vague feel good factor.

Back in chennai and heading to Bangalore. Meeting a bunch of seasoned glass holders in bangalore tonight. When we enter a bar tonight, i'll tell myself that i'll drink a lemonade or some such inconsequential fluid...

Postscript: Over the weekend in Bangalore, my resolve to not drink drowned in Beer, Margarita, Vodka and Baang and went up in tobacco smoke (To my defence, 5 cigarettes only).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

How stuff doesn't work.

When you are two timing you are faithful to neither. In work. And in relationships (the non-platonic kind). I am currently in such a predicament, at work. The advantage here is that one can always be an alibi for the other, and you can cool off a little, writing a post at the start of a work day. The downside is, almost always, you're so torn between two opposing forces of deeds to be done, that you freeze and end up doing neither.

Of late, i find the idea of even one timing (now, not work) pretty exerting. Sometimes i feel that having a companion, physical intimacy etc are obscenely overrated. It'll be good to have someone available, a phone call away, a bus ride away, or a loud shout away. Just to keep you from dying of solitude or repressed sexuality. But then, after talking the talk, or doing the deed, or both, the two people have to return back to their respective real lives. There should be no encroachment of personal space beyond that. There shouldnt be a need for realignment or reprioritisation of what you want to do with your life, to accomodate someone else. Once you start doing that, resentment will start setting in. Sooner or later, your urge to live life the way you want to, will overweigh the desire to continue to be with whoever you are with, and the relationship will start dying a slow silent death in the background (or sometimes a noisy quarrelsome death in the foreground). And there is no way that two people will have the same wants out of life. Peope are pretty much like their fingerprints. Unique.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A road taken...

I was at crossroads for a while, till a while ago. I either had to sit in the same place i've been sitting for the past couple of years, and try a kind of work i have not tried before, and have been meaning to try for a while. Something that would involve dressing up well, carrying yourself properly, talking a lot, being nice and phony to people over the phone(cos they'll mostly be customers), and some more stuff that have been foreign to me. Or, i would have to move to a different place, a different organization (my customer for the past couple of years), and do the same kindof work i've been doing since i finished college. Decided on the latter. All big decisions take only a couple of minutes, i guess. Just that i took 3 weeks to spend those two minutes on thinking about it. If i didnt take the latter i would be leaving something half baked, unfinished. For good or bad, did not have the heart to not stick around till that piece is taken to completion. Stick around till we know that the product'll bring in rotten tomatoes or revenue.

This is probably insignificant in the grander scheme of things. At some point, when i was working late night and my sis had called up, she said, 'Ten years down the line, you would not look back and say, 'Yes I fixed that bug ten years ago!''. I shut down after the call and went to bed. I guess, like so many others, i suffer from a borderline syndrome. Being good at work, the idea of a shipped product for which i've done my part etc, excite me nearly as much as a hike in the himalayas. One without the other will proabably be meaningless...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

About to crash...

A beer. A good dinner. A glass of wine (am not a wine fan..just that it has alcohol and hence is functional). A pretty decent movie. And the company of a couple of people you like hanging out with. At the end of it, you are supposed to feel good about a well spent saturday and put yourself to sleep feeling good about life in general. Only problem is, i cant go to sleep unless the clock says 2 am. So i am generally sitting, thinking/typing inane stuff. I realize that the high point of the day was when i made 802.1x work with EAP_TLS. I am not going to explain what that means. Over time i guess i've become a workaholic. My sis says i'd get withdrawal symptoms if i quit this line of work and try something else and i am beginning to wonder if she is right(one life and a single line ofwork sounds so limiting!).

Came to the bay area around a month back on a short trip..and am just about beginning to miss the 'thiruvanmiyur beach' and Satyam Theatres and the raw chennai heat, in that order...

This trip has had some weird eye-openers. Keeping your room neat and washing clothes are not bad uncool acts. It has a cathartic effect on the clothes, room and you. I hate to admit it though. These acts shall be reassessed and dropped if i realize that its just aflash in the pan.

And I am kindof convinced that life should be a seriesof monogamous relationships..for some it may be strong enough to last a lifetime..good for them...but we should do away with the paper work of marriage, divorce, alimony and other such stuff...there shouldnt be an external body policing how a bunch of ppl go abt their lives..

An aside. 'That 70's show' has knocked off everyother tv show on my favourites' list...or i am so starved and this is the only half-decent meal i got and i am finding it much better than it actually is...Dona (the tall one with weird parents) is my pickof the characters...and at some level i wonder if it is because she reminds me of someone i dont mind being reminded of...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Seven year itch

A lil drunk. Again. Seven years gone since i started work. Dint notice the date when it passed. (Aug 16th). Realized it a lil later. Not that it matters. Making serious plans to take a break. Atleast for 3 to 6 months. From Jan or April next year. Will go to Uttarkashi, Varanasi, some parts of NE India and a few sanctuaries i want to go to. Want to do a few things before i hit 30. Dont trust my back to be good enuf to do the things i want to do beyond a certain age. The sooner i do those stuff, the better. If i dont get such a long vacation i'll quit.
Drank with Binu at good old Casablanca. Booze trips with him have reduced after his marriage. He keeps telling me good things about being married and eggs me on to do something about my singularity. I might grow to become this 40 year old morose, irritable, single guy (well, i dont think life wud come to that, but the 'single' part might come true). But i cant bring myself to seek company in unnatural ways just to avoid regrets i might have in a hypothetical future. For now it is just work, books, booze and the faithful beach in my backyard.

Monday, August 14, 2006

That perfect combination of bits...

In Sanjay's (a collegue) words, thats what most people in my industry are working towards. A cool thought. I write code for a living. It is compiled, linked and blah-blahed and what eventually comes out is a series of bits which represent instructions or data. A bunch of testers try and break it, report problems, and i fix them, by indirectly modifying that bit pattern a little. In essence, we are all working towards that perfect combination of bits.
In one of the many time-pass office discussions, we ended up wondering if we shud try and write buggy code to start with(which we do anyways) and thereon automate the modification of the bit-pattern iteratively, load it on the hardware and have automated regression scripts validate it till we hit upon that perfect combination. The assumption here is that the starting bit-pattern is somewhere in the vicinity of the ideal bit-pattern and we would converge in finite time. Well, once the coffee got consumed we got back to work. But i liked the idea, and might want to try it on a simple problem sometime. And Sanjay continues to deserve the name we gave him (Sanjay Mokkasamy....Mokka vaguely means the act of talking incessantly about random things).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tea, Cigarettes and a series of conversations

I was supposed to leave for Peru from Mumbai on a specific day a few weeks back. Eventually went three days later than scheduled. I was travelling with my brother-in-law's sister (We had a tough time explaining what we were to each other, to a random set of people. Eventually Kripa(thats my bil's sis' name) settled for co-brother. Neither of us knew if that was right, but that was the briefest thing she could come up with!!). Anyways, we had some trouble with emigration and were holed out in Mumbai for three days. We stayed in the TIFR[Tata Institute of Fundamental Research] hostel (Kripa had friends there). I kindof fell in love with the place and was contemplating applying for a PhD there. With time, reason(and money) prevailed and i wudnt think of giving up my job for something related and less paying (it is still ok to leave it all for something tangential, if you want to that is).
Met a few amazing people there (Sanjeev, his wife Amritha - these two were our official hosts; and Gautham - i stayed in his room). I kindof like the scientific community. The few people i met were extremely broadminded and reasonable and didnt live inside pseudo-boundaries. I kindof found it refreshing and different and relateable. These 3 would probably rank among the laziest days in my life. All i did was smoke, drink (tea/alcohol), talk, eat, sleep, read, in varying orders for three days, besides a couple of runs relating to our emigration. I did have to live through some major physics discussions about why two bacteria cant manage to walk in parallell for too long because of the nature of their flagellar motion and other heavier stuff which went above of my head (Gautham is a Physics PhD, Kripa and Sanjeev are in the 6th year of the PhD effort in smething related to Theoritical Physics). It still felt good to be witness to animated discussions of things i didnt totally understand (confession - i could not comprehend Resnick&Halliday in 11th standard and realized i wasnt IIT material, could not comprehend Milman&Halkeas in Engineering and had to settle for Gaur&Gupta and a mere pass in Engineering physics).
When we left mumbai, i was kindof thankful for the emigration delay and the brief stay in TIFR.
We did manage to go to Peru, catch up wth Sis, bil and his parents, and do the Inca trail to Maachu Picchu. Was good fun, and a good break from a fairly mad work schedule i had subjected myself to. Except that instead of getting recharged, my batteries are all discharged:), gotta pull up my socks and get back to proper work.
Will post some pics from the trip sometime...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Mosquito Knows

This gives some perspective...Yea, there are no mosquito doctors to whom mosquitoes take their sick loved mosquitoes or themselves to get treated...they need not save up for such eventualities. If a mosquito wants to go to Delhi or see the Himalayas or go to Peru, it just has to figure out who is going where and perch itself discreetly on their shoulders...the ride is free...Nevertheless, this gives some perspective...a poem from 'The wondering Minstrels'...
"The Mosquito Knows"

 The mosquito knows full well, small as he is
 he's a beast of prey.
 But after all
 he only takes his bellyful,
 he doesn't put my blood in the bank.

-- D. H. Lawrence

Monday, March 20, 2006

Something else...

You always want to do something else....when you are in school you look enviously at the independence college goers think your dad is so lucky, he need not go to school...When you are in college you look back fondly at your days at long for the friends lost until their memories fade away and new ones take their place...You look at your seniors landing jobs and think "20k per month; life cant be bad then"...Then you start working...A few weeks into work you look back at college like it happened ages wish engineering had been a 5 year course...As the years roll by, work ceases to interest you as much as it did in the beginning (for some this happens much more quickly, some never reach a stage where their work fascinates them). You wish you'd rather be on a ship headed to the Arctic, or take pictures of Nilgiri Langurs hanging off trees in the forests of Kerala, or just go off and live in a shack by the beach in Goa, swimming whenever you want, just laying back drinking beer and reading whenever you want. You prepare yourself for such an do random courses which you think will give you credibility when you set out to do something besides technology. But you dont take the plunge...You wait.. You build a safety net beneath you...You think you need multiple zeros in your bank account before you can experiment. You put life on hold. Time passes by. Real fast. You tell yourself, "Next year, i'll definetely take a sabbatical and try a different line of work." And the "next years" pass by.

But this time, 'next year' is going to be 'the' year. You know technology is your bread and butter. Not just that, there were times, rather years, when work was the single most important thing in life, not out of necassity, but out of choice and inclination. Its been nearly 7 years now. You ought to go out, take a look at other things, play out some other pages in life, and come back with the kindof zeal you had a few years back...or, maybe, discover something else that excites you more...and do that until that loses its charm (yea, with time, everything loses its charm, and you cant be non-cynical even when you are discussing a fantastic virtual future for yourself).

And late next year you may come back and read this while uploading pictures of the elusive big cats in Perambikulam wildlife sanctuary, or read it with a wry, sad smile on your face, from your office, after having succumbed to a really bright carrot that offered itself as a virtual bait to strengthen the 'all-too-important' safety net beneath you.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A drinking song

A poem i got from "The wondering minstrels" (, and
liked. Its a subscription thing, and at times you could get some amazing poems. I can only read
poems (must admit quite a few of the eclectic ones go over my head), would never try writing

"A Drinking Song"

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

-- Willam Butler Yeats

Friday, February 17, 2006

Drunken post...again...

I entered 'diesel'. That's a pub in chennai. I normally dont go to pubs. I hate loud music. I thought
"What shit?"...You can't have a conversation. It is too loud. You can't see the people you are with.
It is too dark. A collegue had come down from mumbai. The last time i went out with that person and
a few others, it was fun. So, was kindf ok to go again though i wud've preferred to go to restaurant that
serves booze, to a pub. Anyways, a few beers down, and a shot down(of something, i dont remember
it's name, was raw alcohol with some icecream kindof thing on top), the music started playing in my
head. I was sitting and dancing at the same time. It was fun. I still prefer it to be quiet...that no noise
disturb me from the peace of a 'high', i could kindof relate a lil more to why ppl go to noisy places
to have a drink.
Am headed to the marina beach...a friend from college is waiting outside work...i hope i am not
apprehended for being a drunken passenger(u can never be sure of the rules)...
And i realize that i have this inexorable pull towards writing some shit whenever i am drunk...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Lonely planet??...

A part of a particular song has been constantly ringing in my head for over a week now..
it is from a soon-to-be-released tamil movie 'Pudhupaettai'... (a Selvaraghavan/Dhanush/
Yuvan Shankar Raja combo)...
"iruttinilae nee nadakkayilae un nizhalum unnai vittu vilagividum,
 nee mattum thaan indha ulaginila unakku thunai ena vilangividum.
 theeyoadu pogum varaiyil,
theeraadhu indha thanimai..."
which translates to
"when you are walking in the dark, even your shadow deserts you,
 you'd realize you are your only companion in this world.
 until you reduce to ashes,
this solitude would not end..."
And at many levels, this made a lot of sense...
And then i went to my sister's picture uploads in flickr...she had an album called 'Takes two
to tango' with a random set of twosomy pictures (like a pair of feet, she and her husband, she
and me, she and her dog etc)...for the album's description, she had a Ray Charles song...
"You can get very old by yourself
Catch a fish or a cold by yourself
Dig a ditch or strike it rich
all by yourself
There are lots of things that
you can do alone
But it takes two to tango
Two to tango
Two to do the dance of love.

It Takes two, I say two
Darling it always takes two
I’m with you

- Ray Charles."
And this made a lot of sense too:)....


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Parallell realities...

When someone spells out the same thoughts that you thought, it has an endearing effect. I've never felt the need to
sympathise with autistic kids or mentally underdeveloped people. They do not belong to the realm that we perceive as
real, normal and fully functional. They have their own realities. But then, we do not belong there. So we're even. At times, i even
envy them (but quickly reason out thinking their worlds would have problems too). Anu (Shabana Azmi) in a scene in '15 Park
avenue' questions our right to try and get these people back to our perceived reality. Meethi's (Konkona Sen) psychiatrist offers
a logical explanation for that, but logic is never convincing enough on such issues. That scene struck a chord, and after that i got into a state
where i could find nothing wrong with the movie (rightly, or not rightly, so). It was an intriguing movie...some strings were let loose, and
the incompleteness added to the beauty...well, it wasnt incomplete in the real person gets a closure and the rest begin
their search for something that doesnt exist...
quite a few in the theatre were laughing out for the wrong scenes...i cudnt relate to that...they wouldnt relate to my perception of the
movie...not that it matters...nor wat i think about them matters...parallell realities...subjective....

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Happy? New year

It is a little late in the day. It is all manufactured anyways, so whats the big deal...for whatever it is worth
new year wishes to anyone who drops by...
New year eves were so much fun back in Trichy, when i was a school kid...Dad was this social butterfly...
some 7-8 neighbouring families would get together at my home (ofcourse i chipped in for the PR work, but Dad
was the prime mover)...there were quite a few kids who were kindof peers, and we managed to have some real
good fun.
Back then festivals were fun as of the first things i used to do every Jan was to check how
far away Diwali was. During Diwali, we had this undeclared contest in our street for bursting the 1st cracker of the day.
Almost every time, it was won buy this school senior of mine called Jayashree, who lived in the last house in our street.
Her standard cracker-time was 2:30 am...cant beat that. I never made a real effort to win it, but even i used to be up by
3:30 or so. During the day, everyone went around everyone else's houses eating free sweets (we had to offer sthing different,
dad was an out-of-the box we would give visiters salted-boiled peanuts...and that would be such a relief for the
sweet-weary tongues).
And Pongal (Shankranthi) meant getting up early to walk the streets of Bhelpur (the colony where i lived) to have a look at the
rangolis (entries for Bhelpur's rangoli contest, we never won it). There would be this colony-wide competetions. Mom used to
sing (and some of use used to cheer for her, she was good, and won it a couple of times)...Dad used to sing too (and i would
be embarassed...he wasnt particularly good, but was a good sport)...and at times Sis used to sing too (she was good). I was
never anything more than an onlooker, except the one time when i came 2nd in the musical chairs contest:)...
Coming back to now...festivals have ceased to matter...sometimes it is good to be part of a whole, to celebrate when everyone
else celebrates, and not question it or reason it out...except that i cant get myself to do times i envy people who have
managed to retain the idea of festivals and celebrations...ppl who, on Diwali day, get up early, bathe, wear new clothes, and pray
and eat together. I am not sure if i can ever be that again.
It is not just about festivals. As a kid, i used to go to this temple in our colony daily, and it felt good. Even in college i used to
go to our college-temple almost daily. Now, i think of God as man's creation, as a replica of some kindof external conscience. So
prayer and God have ceased to appeal to me. I dont find it reasonable to go to a temple or pray or do anything that involves delegating
your problem to someone besides yourself. This is surely the right way to live, but this has taken away a pseudo-crutch that i could've
used at times.
Like that guy in 'Matrix' says, sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
Sadly, the path from ignorance to realization is one-way.