Friday, November 10, 2006

Impressions of Frankfurt Airport

Well, hello again my dear reader, from Frankfurt airport this time - my fifth visit to this airport this year. Thanks to the fact that security checks took all of two minutes as opposed to the two HOURS that they took last time and were also intimated to us passengers by the landing crew to take this time, I am, as you can see, left with a bit of time on my hands before I board my next flight. I'm not complaining though, because guess what I got to do in my spare time here - eat strawberry cheesecake ice-cream from Haagen-Dazs, my favourite! Yeah, I still think most people would certify me crazy for deriving such orgasmic pleasure out of such a simple thing. I even lurked about cautiously with the ice-cream in my hands, half-afraid someone would be able to read my mind and learn how insanely happy I was. This was the first time I was tasting that divine taste since my time in London in 2003, and boy, did I savour every lick of it!

And guess what I saw on sale at an electronics shop in the duty-free area a while ago - frikkin' PORN! I kid you not. I always knew Amsterdam was liberal but I didn't think Frankfurt was a place where you'd see porn in the airport. Ha ha.

Frankfurt airport is also smoky. I've been here many times before but this time the smell of smoke was the first thing that assailed my senses when I entered the terminal. I prefer airports like Tokyo to this - at least they have dedicated smoking rooms where all the smokers can go and inhale their self-created fresh air (as one of my smoke-addict colleagues puts it!!). I mean..I'm fine with smoking as long as it is in an open area. I'm also fine with smoke if its in pubs or clubs (I know pubs are closed spaces, but I think it's the logic of a pub/club being created for people to drink and smoke and generally have a good time, and I'm certainly not opposed to that). Sort of contradicts what I just said maybe, but that's just what I think and I'm a person of contradictions - so sue me!! Anyway, I'm pretty sure smoke is part of the reason why Frankfurt airport is the way it is - 'mechanical and clinical', as my friend the Raccoon opines about Frankfurt airport in HIS blog. And it's probably marble-floored for the same reason - imagine the stink if they had carpets that the smoke clung on to. Changi Airport in Singapore, in comparison, is a superb airport - carpeted all over, with designated smoking rooms and probably one of the best airports in the world.

So that's my take on Frankfurt airport for now. I've got Kiran Desai's 'The Inheritance of Loss" (yes, finally managed to buy a copy at Bangalore airport) to keep me company, and also an Indian lady I just met who seems to be in the mood for conversation and I don't want to seem rude - so I'll catch you guys later. Auf wiedersehen!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

TMNT!!!


......also known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles :-) I caught a glimpse of them on TV this morning and couldn't help but remember the days when they were all the rage when I was a kid. Following the adventures of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo, accompanied by the svelte April O'Neil of course, was so much fun back then. I've watched most of their cartoons and all their movies, and usually it was with a whole group of kids of the same age so it was always a communal thing. Ha ha.

Kids, I tell you!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Seen on NDTV's We The People yesterday....

So I did a bit of TV-watching yesterday. I have a colleague who doesn't even own a TV and professes he never has and never wants to (plays video-games in his spare-time on his laptop though, ha ha), but sometimes, when I see some programmes that I find myself actually getting involved in, I don't know if that is such a good thing. Information dissemination is part of the reason for a TV being invented, right?!!

On a more serious note, I wanted to blog about some thoughts I got after watching NDTV's 'We The People' yesterday. Barkha Dutt was discussing the role of media in covering high-profile criminal cases today, with reference to cases like those of Priyadarshini Mattoo, Nitish Katara and Jessica Lall, with a group of people including Vinod Mehta-Editor of Outlook magazine, Nalini Singh-Journalist, KTS Tulsi-Senior Supreme Court Advocate, with Sabrina Lall (Jessica Lall's sister) and Neelam Katara (Nitish Katara's mother) also in the audience.

I think there is a difference between reporting news, and journalism as it exists today. Mere reporting of facts would be news, but most forms of media today, whether it is newspapers, magazines or television have a viewpoint about the news, or in other words, what happens. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't think it would be necessary for more than a few newspapers, at the most, to exist if it was just a matter of letting the public know about what happens around the world. The reason the media plays an important role, especially in a volatile political atmosphere such as the one we live in today, is that they provide an OPINION about what is going on. And everyone is entitled to an opinion, which may or may not be right according to you and me. But what is important, I believe, is to hear these opinions. Because that is the only way we will understand different perspectives on a subject, get to know more facts about it and be able to collate all of it to form our own opinion of what is going on.

If anyone argues that it is NOT the role of the media to take up the case of people like Jessica Lall et al, because everyone has the right to a fair trial and by throwing the limelight on the accused in a case they are creating a negative image and a bias against the accused in the minds of the public and even the judiciary, perhaps they would like to think about what Sabrina Lall mentioned yesterday - that indubitably, Manu Sharma, the key accused in the Jessica Lall case, 'deserves a fair trial, and that he deserves the right to get Ram Jethmalani as his counsel, but where is it a 'fair' trial when justice is being subverted at every step, and witnesses bought?' If the trial was fair in the first place, then, in my own opinion, that group of people wouldn't even have been there on TV yesterday - justice would have been dispensed long ago and the case would have been closed. And as far as the judiciary is concerned, if they make up their minds to convict people based on what they see and hear in the media, then they shouldn't be there in the first place.

One important thing that the Indian judicial system lacks today, that is key to the existence of a non-partisan, fair trial, is the existence of a strong Witness Protection Programme. That is exactly what is responsible for witnesses in these key cases either turning hostile or refusing to co-operate in the first place. Mr.Tulsi brought out this very salient point and I think it is something the Indian legal system needs to work on with immediate effect, because it is the only way we can ensure that justice is served to ordinary citizens of India like Jessica, Nitish, Priyadarshini, and IIT graduates Manjunath Shanmugam and Satyendra Dubey.

Seen on Discovery Travel and Living yesterday....

"The important thing in a marriage is to separate the big things from the small things, deal with the big things and let the small things fall by the wayside."

Waterboarding

Roshan, I'm taking the cue from your extremely courageous classmate (how did he put himself through that?) and am letting people who read my blog know what waterboarding is all about.

According to the Geneva Conventions, waterboarding is a form of torture used in interrogations, but according to a 2002 memorandum from the US Attorney General, it's not. In an interview with the Guardian last week, Dick Cheney even referred to its usage in the war against terror as 'a no-brainer'. You see this for yourself and decide.



And by the way, I couldn't bring myself to sit through the whole thing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sleepless nights..

Is it worth it to stay up working till 2 AM in the office when you know you need sleep and will be groggy and bad-tempered the next morning for your 8 AM meeting, all for the sake of a job you will be quitting in 22 days?

Monday, October 23, 2006

A wedding blessing

Now you will feel no rain
For each of you will be shelter to the other
Now you will feel no cold
For each of you will be warmth to the other
Now there is no more loneliness for you.
Now there is no more loneliness.
Now you are two persons but the life ahead of you is one
Go now to your dwelling place
And enter your days of togetherness
And may your days be good and long upon this earth.

- Apache wedding blessing

Congratulations on your wedding, SublimePattern.
May your days be good and long upon this earth too :-)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I TOTALLY know this feeling - too!


I'm not a grad student but at this exact minute, this is how I feel anyway.
Link via Ash.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Case Closed : The Victory Of Justice

The Priyadarshini Mattoo case was one instance where the loopholes in the Indian justice system were brought to the public eye. The gory incident took place in 1996, ten years ago. Today, the Delhi High Court convicted Santosh Kumar Singh, son of a former IPS officer for the crimes he committed.

I used to think then that there was no hope for a country where who you knew mattered more than who you were. That may still be the case, and not just in India but other countries as well - but today, I am honestly glad that I stand corrected, at least in this case.

One thing that I couldn't help but notice : The sentence is to be prescribed 'after Diwali vacation'. I only hope that decision doesn't change.

I just wrote to say....

I write because I want to write. No, really. I write because I want to re-acquaint myself with the language I was once so familiar with. Words that I loved to use once upon a time that are lost now, that resurface unexpectedly, like quiet echoes in a valley. I want to hear laughter through words, and sadness and anger. I laughed today, eating my Oreo cheesecake. I laughed like that years ago, in Leicester Square, eating strawberry cheesecake ice-cream. In childlike glee. Childlike. Glee. See what I mean, words which are so visual they make you understand immediately. They make you SEE immediately. That is the power of words. Take ‘icy stare’. I’d hate to be looked at by someone like that. Or ‘soul-shattering tears’. I’ve cried like that a few times. It really did feel like my soul was being shattered, like I was being asphyxiated by my own self. In today’s world of the omnipresent Internet (how many people with access to the Internet do NOT visit Yahoo, Hotmail, or Google at least once a day), television (likewise for BBC, NDTV, MTV, or Discovery) and radio (ditto Radio City, Radio Mirchi, Magic 105.4 or the radio stations of whichever city you’re in) – all of these being brilliant introductions to the world notwithstanding, I think I’ve lost the comfort I used to have with plain-Vanilla English, as it is written on paper. (Words seem more beautiful to me, somehow, when I see them on paper. Like seeing a bride on her wedding day, as opposed to seeing her in photos. Somehow, reading a book on a computer is not the same as the real thing. And I’ve done that as well – reading an e-book, I mean). Less meaningful conversations with people and more dependence on technology mean less moments to remember Forever. I want to read, and discuss, and debate and converse – and write. I want to swim in turquoise-blue pools.

Of words.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hyperventilation

It’s a pleasant grey day today here in Bangalore. By pleasant I mean it’s not so overcast you feel the grey of the concrete pavement is a happier colour to look at than the sky. There are tinges of blue even, showing through here and there, and the lake outside my office building looks greener than ever (Yes, green. This lake has never been blue in all the time I’ve looked at it). Funnyman (previously called V, which was highly unimaginative, shame on me) is now living up the New York life while I am being wished farewell and congratulated and tying loose ends up before I quit work next month. Oh, I didn’t mention that I was requested by my boss to stay a few weeks more than initially planned (that essentially means one more trip to good ol’ Portland is in the offing), and I agreed. I’m a bit nervous about what’s going to happen next year, a bit excited, and a bit of me feels like I’m watching the story of someone else’s life on TV or something. I don’t know if that’s usual or I’m just unusual. This whole new phase thing also means that I am not restricted to doing the same thing I was earlier, in terms of work, when I start working again. That also means I don’t know if I should stay on in the corporate world, or go back to the development one, and even if I do stay on in the corporate world then what kind of job do I do? This is one of the quandaries I fall into every time I start thinking about my career, irrespective of the fact that I have never got anything less than a pretty successful performance review every single time I’ve had one, no kidding. I feel I’m sort of a Jack-of-all-Trades (yes I know how that phrase ends but I’m being positive here for a change). Someone once said it’s OK to try out whatever jobs you want to till you’re 30, but after that you need to fall back on the one job that will give you security. I don’t know if I will ever get that fall-back plan in place even when I’m 40! I suppose that’s why I’m marrying someone who is as constant as constant can ever get. In my world of change and often-confusion, that’s a relief.

As an aside, the sun is now shining and the lake looks silver.

Wow, that was one large amalgamation of words. Also one large vent for my current thoughts. Bye for now.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kiran Desai's 'The Inheritance of Loss' wins the 2006 Man Booker Prize

Two things that I didn't know about this year's Booker Prize winner:

Kiran Desai is the youngest woman ever to win the prize, at 35.

Her mother Anita Desai has been shortlisted three times since 1980, but never won.

Read the press release here. The book sounds intriguing. Must get my hands on a copy soon.

Anonymity, obscurity and the importance of being a blogger

In a piece called ‘Bye Bye Blogger’, the New York Times interviews Lee Siegel, whose blog for The New Republic met with an unhappy ending after he was found to deceive readers by commenting anonymously on his own blog, shooting direct daggers at his enemies and basically telling everyone, in so many words, that he was God’s gift to the blogosphere. A couple of comments Siegel made about bloggers made me think of my own experience in the field of blogging so far:

Q: (…)don’t you think it’s intellectually lame to express one’s opinions
anonymously?

A: I do indeed. Everyone seems to be fleeing from the
responsibilities that come from being who you are. I think that is why the
blogosphere is thriving. It allows people to develop a fantasy self.


Some things I’d like to say in response to this: It is true that I don’t use my real name to blog, just like many others who write witty, entertaining, and/or personal blogs (a few of whom are on my list to the right of this page) but I am certainly not using the blogosphere to create a fantasy self, or alter-ego. I suppose I started out wanting to be anonymous, yes, because I thought (quite naively) that it would give me the freedom to write about things that may be controversial, or even boring (seriously, at that point I did not want to be blogging with the expectation of writing purely about my political views, for example, not that that is necessarily what people would have expected of me) and I would have been able to defend my viewpoints without having to wade through the baggage that others may have had of who I am through their interactions with me in the real world. But that, of course, is no longer true because most of the people I know who read this blog, are actually people I know in real life as well so my Master Plan turned out to be a damp squib :-) Why have I not yet revealed who I am then, you may ask? I guess now it’s just a matter of having got used to being Wanderstruck. And besides, it’s a free world, right?!

And he also says this:

Q: Anonymous bloggers are also saddled with obscurity, which I doubt you would
similarly glorify.
A: That’s right. In their case, anonymity is obscurity’s
rash. At least for those who practice incessant character assassination, which
represents a good portion of the blogosphere, they vent out of the pain of being
unacknowledged.
My thoughts: I know there are people who do leave character-assassinating anonymous comments, but I am not one of those. And as far as anonymous people being obscure is concerned, I’m OK with being obscure to the larger blogging world. Doesn’t bother me in the least! And besides, I may become famous yet!

Friday, October 06, 2006

If dessert be the soul of life, eat on!

I have a weakness for sweets. I admit it openly. I think they are among the things that make life worth living. I mean, do other animals know the difference between strawberry cheesecake and a rasogulla? It's probably all the same to them! The kind of happiness I get from good desserts is slightly difficult to parallel. Those of you who have tasted good food know what I'm talking about. There are people who say we should not live to eat but eat just to get the bare minimum nutrition required - and well, live. I beg to differ.


I've been compiling a list of the best desserts I have tasted in my life so far, and while the list is progressing very slowly (there really are not as many desserts around that send my tastebuds to heaven - average just doesn't bear mentioning here), I think I will put the list up for public display now and keep adding to it as the years go by, instead of waiting till I get a definite number. If anyone reading this has any more suggestions to offer, by all means, do let me know!

1. Banoffee Pie at The Big Chill, New Delhi
2. Oreo Cheesecake at Spiga’s, Bangalore
3. Strawberry Cheesecake ice-cream from Haagen-Dazs with whipped cream and coloured sprinkles on top
4. Hot chocolate at Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco
5. Lemon Passion Cake at The Macaroni Grill, Portland, Oregon
6. Watermelon ice cream (seasonal) at Gokul, Santacruz, Bombay
7. My mom’s sponge cake :-)

And the best years of my life are yet to come - whoohoo!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Rock..and Blogger Beta does too!

I am completely software-programming illiterate. I swear. And yet I was able to carry out some PRETTY funky changes to my blog design, as those of you who are reading this have figured out!

It's the little things in life that make me happy. I am not as clueless as I thought! :-)

Pictures from Portland





Tuesday, October 03, 2006

6:32 PM in Bangalore


This picture was taken ten minutes ago. It's the view from my office window. They say I have one of the best seats in office :-)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

All Hail the Tag!

I almost could not believe my eyes when I read this, but Penny Lane, girl, you rock! Just when I was beginning to doubt if more than two people ever read this blog, I have truly and honestly been given my first ever tag! OK so the deal is that I have to write 8 things about myself. I sort of did this (I wrote way more than 8 then!) in an earlier post a few months ago, but in the true spirit of tagging, I’ll do it afresh. (I’m SO excited!) So here goes:

1. I am extremely jet-lagged right now. I believe that the body can only take so much of time-zone-skipping at a time, and I think I’ve been pushing that more than I ought to in the last one year. But I’ve had a blast traveling – I just love traveling – and I guess I always will.
2. I am getting married four days before I turn 26, in a few months’ time. And I am way excited about that too (its increasing day by day), because I am going to FINALLY be with the one person I have ever wanted to, and in the bargain my parents are finally going to get their wish, and my grandparents too, and so everyone will be happy.
3. Really, REALLY, people, if you ever think of getting into a long-distance relationship then let me know because after close to five years of never being in the same city and STILL surviving mine, I think I’m something of a pro at it. No kidding!
4. I will probably never ever be reed-thin even though I desperately try to at least twice a year. I just love yummy food and have a weakness for desserts in particular. Even simple food like good ol’ curd-rice and pickle can make me sigh with happiness (especially if its polished off after a good night of partying)
5. Drinking is never fun without friends. On the same note, drinking can be quite uncomfortable with relatives. Ha-ha. Make sure you distinguish between the two. If a relative IS a friend or vice-versa, then that is one hell of a lucky situation. How does this piece of advice relate to me? Because I have drunk without friends so many times I know that the ‘it’ factor is always missing from those experiences. And I have also had a couple of very uncomfortable drinks with relatives.
6. I used to wear glasses with ugly plastic pink frames in classes 4 and 5. And then I wore slightly better looking pink metal frames in classes 6 and 7. And now I hate the colour pink. Period. Most shades of it, anyway. I do wear cool-looking blue frames now though, when I don’t wear my contact lens that is. I think that I think they’re cool now because V thinks I look nice in them. So I guess beauty in this case lies in the eyes of the beholder!
7. I did well in school and college without really having to try too hard, and teachers liked me big time. The funny thing is all that used to matter to me then, but now I couldn’t care less. Sometimes I think I’m angry at them for not giving me REAL education. I don’t remember shit of what I learnt between classes 8 to 12, for example. And I got State ranks!
8. I am a very moody person. I make no apologies about it, because to be honest, I don’t NEED to be liked by everyone, and I don’t like everyone either. It’s a bit impossible. If you liked everyone you ever met, there would be something wrong with you, if you ask me. I used to try and be one of those. They’re all wrong, because they’re trying too hard. (Can you believe someone once said that about me? In college. That I ‘tried too hard’. I used to think that was one of the most cruel things I heard about myself then. It was probably true. Its not anymore).

Penny, you’ve disabled comments but in case you’re reading this…happy belated birthday and may your house be full of all the furniture you ever wanted by your next birthday! (That includes the hep plasma TV and all that stuff that (ahem!) only homeowners really invest in!) And SublimePattern, Skepsi, Sharad, The Smugbug, Vikram and the Desi Bridget Jones Diary, I hereby tag you all!

The power of words

On the flight back to India, I watched one of those feel-good movies called ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ – for the second time. Due to some error, the airline played the same movie on the flight to Portland as well. I didn’t have a complaint though. The story of a tenacious African-American eleven-year-old from Los Angeles in her quest to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C, it reminded me of my own days as a Spelling Bee contestant when I was in high school. Watching the movie throw up words I am unfamiliar with even today, at the quarter-century of my life – prestidigitation, argillaceous, ratatouille for example – it reminded me that education is not a means to an end but a journey in itself. I had no coach when I went (and won!) my Spelling Bee, and I still recall a conversation with a friend who asked me what I was doing to learn so many long and difficult words. My answer: nothing. It was the accumulated knowledge gleaned through years of reading, something I am indebted to my parents to, for inculcating in me.

The quote where Akeelah’s coach encourages her to believe in herself when she is besieged with self-doubt and lack of confidence, which I found out just today is taken from Marianne Williamson’s ‘A Return to Love’, is something that I would like to put up here just for everyone to read, let filter through their minds, and chew on. I only wish I had read it earlier. It’s taken me years to gain the strength that these words instill with just one reading.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It's not in just some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A little bit of air on earth...


One of the things I like about this place is the air. It is pristine. It smells like sparkling white sheets in a five-star hotel bedroom. Even better than that, it smells of Nature - pine trees, bubbling water in a brook and the vast sky, overcast with rain clouds or happy sunshine. Water and the sky don't really have smells of their own, but if they did, this is what I think they would smell like. It really does add a spring to my step. Un peu d'air sur terre (as the French clothing company's tagline goes) really makes a difference, especially if it revitalises you like this.

This picture was taken in June, and its not so sunny or warm over here now, but the air is certainly as fresh!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Is work worship?

I finally told my boss that I’ll be quitting work in November. I felt awful doing it, but as luck would have it, it came up in the most unusual way. I thought I’d let him know at the end of this month, but yesterday we were enjoying some juicy cheeseburgers at Red Robin in Beaverton, Ore., (aside: Red Robin gives McDonald’s a run for their money in the burger department) and he asked me when I was planning to get married. I ‘fessed that January was the month, and then my team-mates started cracking what they thought were jokes about my impending resignation. Imagine the look on their faces when I very seriously said that they had actually hit the nail on the head and I was really planning to leave! They said they’d have no more of Red Robin, ever. Ha. But knowing the bottomless pit that their stomachs are and their fascination for Red Robin burgers, that’s highly unlikely! :-)

I’m trying to understand why I feel bad in the knowledge that these will be my last few weeks at work in India. Is it because I like my job? Or working in general, i.e keeping myself busy? Or because I like these people (even if they get on my nerves once in a while?!)

My first corporate job is coming to an end. The impending close of another phase in my life.

But life, as they say, will go on.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Poppin and popout :-)

Just thought I'd dust some of the cobwebs off this blog o' mine.

I didn't know till last week that a cousin of mine reads this blog (probably 'used' to read, thanks to the inactivity). I had no clue till then, and I wasn't quite sure whether I should panic or not. (Did I reveal any extremely secret secrets on my blog? Uhmm..Ahmm...AAAAAA!!!!!). No, I'm OK. Nothing scandalous. Boring, huh?

I'm in a good mood today, though I have the prospect of staying late at work staring me in the face. Still, it doesn't matter. Oh, and I HAVE to insert a couple of these here because I think they are such fun (link via Penny Lane's blog) :



Au revoir for now, folks!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Go figure!

Last weekend, for the first time in my life, I saw a condom-vending machine in a public place in India.

Where, do I hear you ask?

In the ladies' toilet of Rex Theatre, Bangalore, which is one of the oldest in the city!

Either they are more forward than the multiplexes, or I've just been walking around with my eyes closed.

Go figure!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Great Indian Wedding

I went for a friend’s wedding in Madras this morning. It was Tamil Brahmin Iyer wedding, and an early morning ‘muhurtham’ meant I was able to make it only for the latter half of the ceremony. Tamil Brahmins have a whole load of ceremonies that are included in the ‘upgrade’ of the selected pair from bachelorhood to coupledom. It’s a long list, and if you’re interested, you can catch them here. Weddings might be boring affairs for some people, tiring and long even, but they are also very meaningful, especially this kind. Also, at the end of the day, I guess there is a reason why every Tom, Dick and Gurinder Chadha make millions out of The Great Indian Wedding. They are quite a sight and a very social affair, with women decked up to the neck in rich silks and beautiful jewellery, and men on their best behaviour – one reason why weddings are often hunting grounds for prospective brides and grooms. Of course, North Indian weddings are radically different from South Indian ones, and within those regions, greater differences exist, so let’s not get into that!

So, as I was saying, the wedding was very nice. The bride had called me up a couple of weeks go when she landed from New York for her wedding to ask if I could make it, and though I haven’t seen much of her the last few years, what stayed with me from my past was that she was a gem of a person. So I made the trip here, and I’m glad I did.

At the end of the day, that’s what I’d like to be remembered as – a really nice person. She really is. I hope she has a wonderful married life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I'm afraid I can't come out to get your order ... I'm 150 miles away

I was in the US last month and went to a McDonald’s drive-in one day to get lunch. It’s quite interesting the way a voice booms out of this box, you rattle off your order, then proceed to the next window to pay and collect your order, all in the span of less than 5 minutes. In 5 minutes, it’s all done and dusted, your hunger satisfied.

I thought of that day again when I read this. I think they’re now taking technology a bit too far – literally. We’ve all heard of business process outsourcing (a.k.a call centres), but McDonald’s is now ‘outsourcing’ exactly what I spoke about above – the ordering of fast-food! Read The Long Distance Journey of a Fast Food Order. Time travel won’t be too far away. Mark my words!

Fireflies Festival of Sacred Music

I haven’t blogged in a while – so hello all of you out there who still bother to check this blog. I’ve been keeping myself busy with work and travel. Most recently, I went here. The Fireflies Festival of Sacred Music in the outskirts of Bangalore last weekend, was an experience that I suppose many people have had the good fortune to experience, possibly multiple times, but I was a first-timer there and boy was I glad I went. There is something about sitting in an amphitheatre watching performances under a banyan tree in the middle of almost-nowhere that is soul-breaking and soul-making at the same time. Soul-breaking because it made me feel that I’d been wasting a lot of my life so far, and soul-making because some of it was music that I’d never heard before – and I’m talking jazz, Sufi, Hindustani classical, alternative soul, indo-western fusion, instrumental (and what instruments – drum beats that are primordial, tribal, whatever you’d like to call it, the flute that sounded like it was singing your song, trumpets, the sax, harmonicas – instruments that I don’t hear on a day-to-day basis that sounded so strong, real and melodious I wished I knew how to play them all).

If you’re slightly high (on whatever, let’s not elaborate now), then so much the better!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Happy to me, happy to me!

I entered the quarter-century of my life on the 28th of last month, and initially thought there wasn’t really any point in writing a birthday blog piece, seeing as how I wasn’t doing anything terribly fascinating from a reader’s point of view that day. (To those of you who are interested, I went out for lunch with my family and it was a nice feeling to be surrounded by people who very obviously love you very much and always will, no matter what. Maybe it’s because they don’t have a choice in the matter, but that’s a different issue – I’m kidding!)

I was quite inspired by Jay’s birthday blog, who, I found out quite by accident, apparently shares the same birthday as me. So happy belated birthday Jay, and here goes:

1. Being fit is very important to me. Not thin as model-reed-thin, but fit as in being able to climb the 8 floors to work without huffing and puffing like a fire-belching dragon. Yes, yes, I want to mention Puff the magic dragon just because ‘puff’ and ‘dragon’ came up in the same sentence there but there’s no actual connection!

2. I have returned from New Delhi railway station at 11.30 p.m all alone in auto on primarily empty roads, and lived to tell the tale. I had a knife and some chilli powder in a packet in my bag.

3. I revel in eating desserts that I like. I become a silly little kid when I do.

4. Walking along the Seine in Paris is no fun without having someone you love by your side, but it’s gorgeous nevertheless.

5. Walking aimlessly along the roads of London just to avoid thinking about someone who was the be-all and end-all of your life for the preceding year can be heartbreaking and tiring but is a good way of learning more about the city. It only succeeds in taking your mind off things to a very minimal extent.

6. Being under the same roof as Michael Jordan, Sebastian Coe, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Wayne Rooney, LeBron James, Pete Sampras and Carl Lewis can be a humbling experience.

7. Surfing on Bondi Beach in Sydney for a newcomer can be extremely exhausting and the waves will probably batter you to bits, but the sport can get addictive.

8. Laser tag is much better than paintball because it is double the fun with none of the bruises.

9. Seeing people living in poverty day in and day out can numb you to its effects after a while, for a while.

10. I hate not being able to remember where I put something.

11. I believe that everyone can be attracted to many others in their lifetimes, but there is only one person who is really made for you.

12. Listening to a favourite song play when you least expect it can be instantly mood-lifting. Whether you are sitting in a pub with friends or alone at home, it gives you a total jump-start.

13. I don’t believe in stereotypes. Roses are supposed to be romantic, but I personally prefer carnations or tulips. Sorry, V!

14. It is important to spend time with people you love if you want to get to know them better. There really is only so much other methods of communication can do.

15. I respect people who do not have too strong a point of view on any topic (they do have some opinion though) but are able to respect other people’s points of view, rather than those who have a very strong point of view on something and are not tolerant towards others’ viewpoints. I belong to the former category.

16. Imperfection can be attractive.

17. The bonds forged with people who are there to help you when you need it the most can mean more to you than those that bind you to people you have known all your life.

18. Murky rainy days can be as poetic as bright happy ones.

19. If you want to own the stage during a performance, focus on the present and don’t let your mind wander. I made that mistake once.

20. Mustering up the confidence to take that first step can mean the beginning of a possibly life-altering experience. Believe me, you wouldn’t want to miss out on something just because you were chicken. I’m glad I went for those two auditions I did. I got central parts that got me standing ovations.

21. Is it possible to feel something stronger than love and if so, what do you call it?

22. I find crowds in malls and streets hateful, but those in clubs, concerts, sporting events and pubs add to the atmosphere of a place usually. I think it’s something to do with the psychology of crowd behaviour.

23. I believe the race for power and money can make people lose sight of the better things in life. It probably also corrupts them along the way.

24. I think it is important to nurture children, encourage their curiosity and ensure they grow up in the right kind of environment – intellectual and physical. No, I do not have kids yet.

25. I will not stop dreaming my little dreams.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Update on the presentation thingy

So my presentation went off quite well, was without any major hiccups and after a night of going over what I was going to say repeatedly in my head (!!!), on the whole a pretty decent experience for me.

Question for the day: is it better to be disliked by your co-workers and be a fast climber up the corporate ladder or liked by them and a slow climber?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Stress and excitement...work and intrapersonal dynamics

What does one do when faced with a dilemma like this at work: your immediate boss asks you to make a presentation one way, but another senior person asks you to do the same thing a different way. You tell them both what you are feeling: that the two are sending out different messages to you and you don’t know whose instructions to follow. The two of them lock horns, and you are caught in the crossfire. The two agree to disagree and go off in minor huffs to their respective cabins. Your immediate boss explains to you what exactly to do and why, but the other person is suitably miffed and considers the two of you, who were supposed to be part of a larger presentation, as now separate and ‘on your own’.

I’m supposed to make my part of the presentation tomorrow. Let’s see what the reactions are.

The world of business and the excitement it brings, I tell you…

P.S: The stress too. Thank God this does not happen on a regular basis to me!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The post on the Tata's....

The earlier post I'd put up on Jamshedpur and the Tatas, was from an article not by L.N.Mittal but by Suhel Seth, and you can access it here. The error is regretted, and thanks to Pritam Jaipuria (whom I haven't been able to find a link for), for directing me to the right place.

Yogaaaaaaaahhhh!

I’ve taken up yoga pretty regularly of late – it’s the latest fad in my life and for the time-being, I’m completely hooked. In fact, I even quit gymming as a consequence, simply because I feel that this is so much more effective for me. I enjoy it more than huffing and puffing in the gym to some dhin-chak music that I would be happier not listening to for the 100th time, and it helps in creating better awareness of one’s body as well. What kind of yoga am I into? It’s called Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga, and combines cardiovascular training with the mental and spiritual level of things. Over the past few weeks, my body has realized it has so many muscles which were dormant, and it’s a good feeling to get those initial aches and pains out of the way as you progress on your way to a healthier body.

What I like about it, is that it is not so much about preaching as it is about working out and realizing exactly what muscles you are pulling or pushing and why. We’ve only had one class so far that was a bit philosophical, but even those, because they are the exception rather than the rule, are quite enjoyable. My instructor, by the way, thinks I have way too many questions ‘on life’, to which he admits he has no better answers than the next person, such as:

- what qualifies as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, because what may be good for me could be bad for someone else and vice-versa?
- this is a classic one: why was I born? (!!!!)

Of course, there are some answers that are pretty obvious, but I take one of them to be a pretty decent answer to most questions: one of my fellow yoga-mates had a query on why she wasn’t able to do a particular stretch ‘like XYZ’, and my instructor replied that everyone has a separate body and no two bodies will respond alike to the same thing. We aren’t meant to. I think that also answers a question that often pops up in my mind like an unwanted weed every now and then: why am I not as successful as ABC? The answer lies in the premise that I shouldn’t be comparing myself to ABC in the first place. His or her parameters for success are in all probability different from mine. My yoga instructor is 35 and all he does is teach yoga. That’s it. No other full-time job or anything. He lives life on his terms and is not worried about success, failure and the rest of it. Whereas, a Harvard MBA grad is probably preoccupied with how much money he or she can make and how fast he or she can climb the corporate ladder. I want an incredibly satisfying, meaningful relationship to last forever – that might not be a priority for others. That does not in any way make me less of a success than them now, does it?

I guess that’s what we call life. Imagine if everyone in the world lived the life of a Wall Street or Liverpool Street banker, or if everyone was an artist or poet. It takes all kinds, and one should live and let live.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

People are a problem!

The major problem – one of the major problems, for there are several – one of many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts

How true. Especially applies to Indian politics, if you ask me!

Monday, January 02, 2006

A New Year has dawned...

Happy New Year everyone.

2006 has started off on a very satisfactory note for me. I’ve already managed to do a few of the things I suggested in my last piece here. The weekend was rocking. V finally made it to Bangalore and there was no better time for him to come here than New Year’s. You know, many people ask me now and again how we have managed to sustain a long-distance relationship for close to 4 years. Seriously – I don’t know. There is no precise answer to that. It’s a lot of things – love, patience, commitment, compromise and trust being the foremost that come to my mind right now. It hasn’t been easy but it’s always felt right – I guess that’s what has kept us going.

Non-stop partying was the key phrase last weekend. Friday we went to the 13th Floor, which with its view of Bangalore and a nippy breeze blowing, was really refreshing as we went about downing a few drinks. Saturday was the day for a pleasant lunch at 100 Feet. It’s got such good d├ęcor and I don’t think most people realise that they have some pretty cool ethnic clothes, accessories and home fittings as well. Must go back there to pick up some stuff (mental note). And New Year’s Eve started out pretty badly with both of us coming down with fever and colds, but at the newly-renovated Noir Bar (previously the well-known ‘F’ bar), with unlimited drinks and snacks for the ticket that we bought, we were soon having a pretty good evening and didn’t even realise how midnight struck and 2006 waltzed in unnoticed – or should I say grooved in. On Sunday, we met some friends at Firangi Paani (‘The English Spirit’, the tagline says) at The Forum which was so packed I felt like I was a sardine in a tin can – I was just relieved when we managed to squeeze into Firangi Paani which had a bit more breathing space. I must be growing old – crowds and smoke no longer excite me. When I think of college and all the crazy times I had, even with all the smoke and crowds, it feels like such a different me now.

And by the way, guess what, I got my top 50 songs CD (V recorded it and gave it to me), and today I've heard the songs thrice over so far..ALL of them! I love those songs!

I wish I didn’t need to come to work today but it’s been pretty quiet so far, so no complaints. Mainly thanks to the fact that my boss is still on leave – haha.

Anyway, I’m not making any resolutions this year, let’s just see what 2006 has in store for me. It’s always the journey that’s so much more interesting than arrival at the destination (I keep reading that on the TV screen when I watch fillers on Discovery Travel and Living, one of my favourite channels) and this year, I hope to live that motto – enjoy the journey.

P.S: SublimePattern, time to start posting again - your last one-line blog piece has not had the desired reaction (heheheheh evil smile) :-)