Past Continuous

I miss that town
I miss the faces
You can't erase
You can't replace it

I miss it now
I can't believe it
So hard to stay
Too hard to leave it

If I could I relive those days
I know the one thing that would never change


For Moral Policing

I have a confession to make. I watched this. And I don't know why, so lets skip the questions.

Anyway, skipping the usual comments and discussions regarding displays of affection and cohabitation arrangements, there is one thing which I want to seriously comment about.
  • There is a scene in which the guy gets a kid to do something for him by bribing him with a Halo3 pack. Now, that kid couldn't be more than 9-10 years old and Halo3 is rated 'M17+' by the ESRB. Doesn't the scene deserve a wagging finger by the censor board? In my opinion it is no different if the kid was offered a Camel Lights or a Hustler to run the errand. These game ratings are not taken very seriously anywhere and a couple of years here and there might be ok but a portrayal on screen should have been avoided. Especially since the guy is shown to be a Microsoft Employee and Xbox is a corporate sponsor of the movie [here]. Apparently, the criteria for choosing the two games were based on the fact that these were the most popular games in the character’s eyes.
    Maybe it can't be a legal issue because India does not have a system for rating games yet, but surely moral and corporate responsibility should have stepped in.
And there a couple of things which I want to comment not so seriously about.
  • The irritating overuse of English words peppered over sentences to make it 'cool'. Why is it so fashionable to use 'wait' in place of 'intezaar' all the time!

  • The movie begins when the protagonist is 17 years old - just completed the XII board exams the voiceover informs us - and ends when he is 30. In all those years, he doesn't age a day. He is either a baby faced 30 year old or was a very mature looking teenager - take your pick. Also, he has relationships which he breaks off for what could be termed 'moving on'. This not aging and moving on business has me convinced that he is the other John Oldman. Bachna Ae Haseeno ... The Man From Earth has arrived.



If it weren't for high oil prices (which have fallen through the floor now) I would not have witnessed two Smart ForTwos in the space of five minutes while waiting for a bus. One of them furiously accelerating out of a bend to tackle a slight slope.

And Clarkson was right! The pause while it swapped 2nd for 3rd would have made A.B. Vajpayee proud.

PS: Another ForTwo I saw sometime back had a 'IT SHRANK' plate which brought a few chuckles to our group.

PS2: Just heard this ad on the radio. Apparently the friendly neighborhood Ford Dealer is now offering 100 Ford shares in addition to the $7500 cashback. So if you are all out of toilet paper today - and have a sudden craving for the 2008 Explorer - its the right time to buy Ford.


So Fast, So Numb

In reality, things may not be moving very fast, but from where you stand, it sure seems so.

Like now.


Show of support

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don't have to go it alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own


Sometimes you can't make it on your own .... Where is your Lighthouse?


Storms, Teacups and Uttappas

It just occurred to me that if I ever go to Mumbai to sit for the Railway Recruitment Board Exam, I would have the shit beaten out of me on account of my last name. And if I protested my innocence by producing my school certificates, the fact that I went to a Jesuit school and scored more in Hindi than Marathi, would probably get me lynched.

There goes one career.

And the less said about being a pilot, the better.

Amidst these negatives, there is one ray of light.

When I was five, I really wanted to be a road-roller driver. The power to render most things as flat as an uttappa has a certain attraction at that age. Plus, it occurs to me now - that industry doesn't have any downturns, not in Pune.


A change of heart

Over the years, the only significant bit of writing I had done was in the mandatory essays one has to regurgitate in the Xth and XIIth exams. But even so, writing Science: Blessing or Curse? in three languages over the course of three years is not really taxing the 'creative' in the creative writing stakes. Especially when Navneet Digest is where you draw inspiration from.

Then there were times when a few friends tried to get me to blog. Resignedly, I signed up to blogger, filled in the profile, even contributed to a team post... but much like certain small car projects in certain hinterlands, the effort was abandoned leaving behind a profile whose password I no longer remember. And that was that, I thought.

Then a few months ago, tending to my newfound hobby of playing with Photoshop, I uploaded a sunset to flickr and added a few lines as a description. Apparently, that was quite profound and moving and I got the Panday! Start writing a blog!! line again. 'Hmmm' thought I, 'what the hell. Its free anyways.' So I did a hatchet copy-paste job, hit 'Publish Post' and felt a strange sense of satisfaction. Gradually, I thought of making a sort of photoblog, where I would publish a few photos now and then and write poignant, moving prose that was stuffed with more meaning than my laundry bag and tinged with wit and sarcasm and what not. But while Passion and Ambition may work (or not) as motorcycle names, they didn't really work between me and poignant, moving prose.

But today I realised that the problem was that I had envisioned it as a photoblog. I don't always have a photo that I can wax eloquent over and nor do I lug around the camera as much as I would like to. But bigger than that is the fact that I discovered I actually like this thing. I like writing about random things even though I may not have a picture for those thousand words.

So this will just be a regular blog from now on, but not in the regular gasoline sense. Will try to write about this and that and more importantly, shift the focus away from me and my melancholy and the general negativity that seems to surround me.

PS: I frequently use a lot of commas and ever since I saw that scene in Shattered Glass, I have become very conscious. Do I really use a lot?



re·mote, adjective

1: separated by an interval or space greater than usual
: far removed in space, time, or relation
: out-of-the-way, secluded
4: acting, acted on, or controlled indirectly or from a distance
5: not arising from a primary or proximate action
6: small in degree
: distant in manner

Feeling a bit of all of these in varying degrees and at various times.
And in the manner of all things that are screwed up, the picture turns out to be that of the noun ...


Coming Back to Life

Where were you when I was burned and broken
While the days slipped by from my window watching

Where were you when I was hurt and I was helpless

Because the things you say and the things you do surround me

While you were hanging yourself on someone else's words

dying to believe in what you heard

I was staring straight into the shining sun

Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of live and the seeds of change were planted

Outside the rain fell dark and slow

While I pondered on this dangerous but Irresistible pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived

For killing the past and coming back to life

I took a heavenly ride trough our silence

I knew the waiting had begin

And headed straight... into the shining sun

~ Pink Floyd


High and Dry

Drying up in conversation
You will be the one who cannot talk
All your insides fall to pieces
You just sit there wishing you could still make love
They're the ones who'll hate you
When you think you've got the world all sussed out
They're the ones who'll spit at you
You will be the one screaming out

Don't leave me high
Don't leave me dry
Don't leave me high
Don't leave me dry

Oh, it's the best thing that you ever had
Best thing that you ever ever had
It's the best thing that you ever had
Best thing you ever had has gone away


~ Radiohead - High and Dry


Chasing Cars

As we go through our monotonous lives, keeping to the right, staying below 65, maintaining safe distance ...

... once in a while we should take the next exit and and just forget the world.


Too much is not enough

This might be a familiar scenario. A group of (young) people have gathered for a party or on an outing or for no reason at all. A scene where one person has remembered to get a camera for posterity sake. A lot of pictures are clicked, group photos, candid photos, photos with tongues sticking out and rabbit ears. And there is always that moment when in those random hundred photos, a beautiful smile is captured, a pose which even hours at the studio would not perfect emerges.

And when all the heads crowd around the 2.5" screen with its limited viewing angle there is inevitably the one person who says ... "hey! that's perfect for shaadi.com!!"


When I examined pictures of my friend's red Civic, did I say ... "hey! that's perfect for motors.ebay.com!!" or when I clicked another friend's new furniture, how come there was no comment that went ... "Now that's a craigslist picture!!"

Which brings me to my second point.

In the year and some days I have spent here, I have bought the following things online (in no particular order and off the top of my head)

a. Camera
b. Accessories for (a) - Memory Card, Filters, Spare Battery, Tripod.
c. A USB powered LED snowman
d. 3 x 500GB external hard drives
e. Ipod dock / speakers
f. 100 pack of DVD+Rs ( and a 25 pack of DVD-Rs)
g. 3 plastic folders and a Sharpie (there was free shipping)
h. Wireless Router and a 802.11g USB adapter
i. T-shirt
j. Textbook

In the 23 years I spent in India (ok, only in 2 of those did I have plastic and the cash to back it up), I bought the following things online

a. N/A

Which makes me wonder ... Is the marriage sector the only significant contributor to e-commerce in India?

After all, if we think about it, the typical matrimonial listing and the motors.ebay.com listing I mentioned earlier share a lot in common...


*A term which is so brilliant in its ambiguity that it could only have been invented in a land whose media can endlessly talk about the 'minority community'. So if your fairness is like a soft roomali roti or if your not-insignificant melanin content classifies you as a whole wheat tortilla, wheatish is the umbrella you stand under. I would like to extend this further so that people like me can use ‘multigrainish’ or perhaps ‘thalipeethish’.

So in the heady world of Indian web commerce, shaadi.com is like a sweet, gooey amalgamation of ebay, amazon and deals2buy with extra chocolate chips. I can imagine anxious parents logging into their profiles and frantically punching F5 with the same thoughts crossing their minds that Shrinath had when he saw this for $499, only to have it disappear an hour later after he had 'consulted' me and three other people.

Taking it forward to a world of assorted grandmothers and uncles-with-nothing-better-to-do plugged into the cloud and utilizing the full power of web2.0, one can only imagine the 'enhancements' to the whole experience. A brave new world.

matrimonial copy

A world where you can sort the prospective matches by 'Last Name' or 'Height' or 'Color' and for the NRIs who come to India for a month to participate in this shindig, even 'Time: Ending Soonest'. A world where you can call up a google maps mashup of the locations where they reside and sort by 'Distance: closest'.

Which brings me to my third point, the need for all this in the first place.

So how is it that the guy with the yellow undershirt and red shirt with upturned collar is 'objectifying women' when he whistles at a passing girl at the bus stop but the parent who sees a textbox labelled 'Body Type' and proceeds without batting an eyelid isn't?

How is it that these sites are not the forum for exchanging ideas that they ideally should be but marketplaces to get the best deal?

How is it that I can churn out a more carefully worded ad for selling my used microwave on craigslist for $10 than most of the classified matrimonials in the newspaper on which presumably the lives of two people depend?

Isn't marrying into the same sub-sub-sub caste going stagnate the gene pool a bit and increase the chances of your offsprings' IQ going down the toilet? Unless you don't believe in evolution of course.

Does anybody wonder that if Bhishma had just left Amba alone and let her be with the guy she loved, maybe the whole Mahabharat - war - genocide - cousins killing cousins en masse - episode might not have happened.

Or whether the whole massive invasion and shock and awe tactics deployed in the Ramayan were because he loved and cared about his wife or because it was embarrassing that some villain snatched her from under his nose with the age old 'Look there!' tactic. Because I think a person who did care about his wife would not arbitrarily banish her under suspicion of infidelity.

Maybe its the way these tests were designed. While picking up uber-bow and shooting fish in the eyes may be handy skills on the battlefield, everyone knows that the real test of a good husband is the ability to accept that he is wrong all the time, put the toilet seat down, give a good foot massage and parallel parking.

So if we don't live in a world where one can wage war for countless years against evil dictators without worrying about the anti-incumbency factor or the tanking economy, why do we act like we do?

So next time assorted uncle, elder relative ticks me off about my 'internet' lifestyle, I can say that while I may order pizza on dominos.com and check weather.com before stepping out, I don't hawk my daughter online with poorly worded and demeaning advertisements which totally ignore the fact that what a person is all about can never be adequately described by even a large sized book, let alone a pay-per-word listing.

Note 1: Just dipping toes into the larger question of the existence of the whole 'arranged marriage' business. That is whole big debate by itself.

Note 2: The female imagery is because I would be looking at such a screen and copy-pasting pictures of random dudes into photoshop and rubbing a soft brush all over them makes me uncomfortable. Not sexism.

Note 3: This post came about in part due to the conversation #2 from this post, random discussions with friends and the realization that at its core religion just asks you to Eat, Drink and be Merry. All the rest is flapdoodle that
a. has no business being there. Try playing Chinese Whispers with a few million people for a few thousand years.
b. is simply not relevant anymore.
c. was used at one time by the ruling class to exploit the ignorant and the poor. We don't need that now, we have The Bailout.
d. was used to ensure that you carried on what your dad did for a living. To save on letterheads presumably.

e. we assume is the bees knees because it was written by some really clever dudes. So is windows.

Note 4: All said and done, this person is my idol. I hope he pulls it off.


The Comic Book Experiment - Part Deux

sudnya_strip 640

After many single panels and one three panel strip, not to mention a very large time gap, the comic book experiment is back with a big one. A season premiere, if you will.

*All pictures were donated by Sudnya for a good cause. The airplane photo was randomly lifted, but don't tell them. Might sue me for bolstering the balance sheet.

Lost for Words

I agree that most English teachers are African dictators, but without the diamond trade and the gun running and I have experienced my fair share of tyrants. They even drove us to chant, 'We don't need no [sic] Education'. But I don't think even the most hated one deserves to see his/her student spell 'then' as 'den'.

I understand internet lingo and TLAs - 'brb' and 'wtf' are a part of my vocabulary too. It may even be possible to convince me of the relative merit of spelling 'you' as 'u', but 'then' and 'den' do not even share a common pronunciation. So why! Is punching one extra key such an effort?

And really, if optimizing the language is your mission, let it reflect in your programming. Leave English alone. The words you use say a lot more about you than you think.

Also on the list:

friend - fren
where - wer
there - der
this - dis

*No picture today - but wanted to say this for a long long time.