Saturday, November 25, 2006

Uncanny Valley

"When it's almost perfect, all you see are the flaws"

For all the Sci-Fi freaks out there. The Uncanny Valley. Interesting concept.
Credit to Agent reddy and his fetishes for all things not human. I still think the most revolting thing I've seen is the dude in tarams who first scratches his crotch and then makes Molaga Bajji. I'm sorry I can't find a wiki link for this one.

An ode to the Batli

I was reading this post by Pi's brother-in-law. Who by the way, happens to be one of the funniest men on the blogosphere, and better still, the man knows his booze. I can't believe I just said blogosphere but really you ought to go read that link. The reason I'm putting this link up on the blog is quite simple. I scrolled through my entire Gtalk list and could find a grand total of 3 people who'd enjoy reading it.

The world is dead. I mean it. Not enough people here know their booze. Or even like it for that matter. And that positively kills me. I mean this here is the land of the eccentric engineer. The land of free thought and eternal youth. And most importantly the land of no sex. Booze should be taking root and sprouting cousins by now. But for fuck's sake, the boys in my wing have forgotten how to drink.

It's a sad sad world everyone.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Life or something like it

I came into IIT expecting lot. I came in expecting stuff like geniuses who never study and people who always did only what they loved and had this uncanny knack of always finding brilliant solutions to unsolvable problems. I came into IIT expecting to find demi-gods. And I did. It took me a while to discover the life they were leading. But as I go on I learn more and more about what it took to live life like they did. Drink life. Right down to the very last drop.

One of the things that seemed to define people who I respected the most was their ability in extra-curricular activities. Almost every one of the seniors I looked up to was brilliant at music, sport, quizzing, oration, word-games or dramatics. Everyone of them handled their academics and (at least) one other passion with amazing panache and they excelled.

And so when I was moving through my first year of college, I discovered something. I figured that the only real way I'd actually fall completely in love with college and engineering and everything about it would be if I found something else to add that dose of crazy colour to my life. I had to find my calling. I tried out everything. I ran from the freshie quiz to the NSO selections for basketball to the hindu crossword.

And then I found the stage.

The stage. Oh I could go on and on about the stage. About how everytime I stand on that soft green carpet in CLT and face the audience I feel like I've attained some higher form of existence. I really can't describe it, I know I can't. But I'll try anyway.

I've seen sportsmen kiss the court before they step on to it. I've seen that they always start with their right foot and then look up at the sky. I'd always wondered what made them feel so strongly about the game. I even thought I understood to a large extent what they felt when they took to the field. But I didn't I really really didn't. Until I found the stage.

The feeling is quite incredible. It's something about the potential it seems to radiate. It almost feels as if the stage has a pulsing core of energy that's just waiting to be unlocked by the performer who steps on it next. Because in front of you are people, all sorts of people. Juniors, Seniors, professors, strangers, friends, lovers, parents. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that from the time you step on to that stage to the time the lights go off, you are the center of their world. All their senses are focussed on you. And if you do your job well then you'd have done something surreal.

You'd have made them feel.

Something. Anything.

It's not just about the rush. It's about the potential something like stage holds. It's about the potential that a script or a monologue or just a mime holds. You go on stage and feel. Feel the character you're supposed to play, the speech you're supposed to deliver, the joke you're about to crack, the tears you're about to shed. And everything else just fades away. You are their world and your world stretches just as far as the spotlight does.

And so in my first year, I acted for the very first time in my very first play. It was something brilliantly charming. Written by an equally brilliant senior. It was called "Yet Another Nameless Play".

It was the cookiest pantomime anyone had ever seen. He'd thrown in everything but the kitchen sink. I'm sure if you'd given him a slightly more relaxed time limit he'd have managed to throw that in as well. I remember the story and all the lines from the script like I'd performed it yesterday.

It had Dr.Frankenstein, Igor, Adolf Hitler, His P.A., Robin Hood, Rabi Tuck, Not-So-Little John, a SAS agent, a Jamaican guide, a soothsayer and a very unnecessary hero. It had toilet humour and clever twists. It had very bad German grammar and a brilliant song and dance routine.

"Hitler he only had one ball,
Goering had two but very small,
Himmler had something simmler,
And poor ol' Goebbles had no balls at allllll!"

I was allowed to play Hitler. Which was quite surprising because it was quite a large role and I was a fresher in every sense of the word. But thats the thing about college. In here, it doesn't really matter who you are as long as you can do the job. And so there I was with the Chaplin moustache and the Swastika playing the most confused Hitler ever to have graced the stage.

The play went brilliantly. The timing was perfect. Kaka was inebriated Rabi, a role that couldn't have fit better. 10g was genius as Robin Hood. MCP was the mad-scientist, literally. I spoke my first lines in Broken German. I learnt first hand about how a small change in intonation can make a line infinitely funnier. But the show-stealer was Jumma as Igor and his inch-perfect "YEESSSSSSSSSHHH MAAAASSSSSSSTER!"

We had laughed and had the craziest rehearsals, in the wing, in the mess, in our rooms. Pretty much anywhere that could fit us. And the play was beautiful. The crowd laughed its guts out when we sang and had crossed over into hysteria by the time Raavan danced to "Men in Tights". And so I lived my first play. And smiled.

That year we came second. We lost out to Saras who'd finished a 23 minute master-piece that pretty much disoriented everyone. The dramatics competition was inundated with comedies and pantomimes in particular. When Satcho and Cubba ran around in skirts and fake mammaries trying desperately to defend the Dramatics title. Aafi adeptly polished off a beautiful abstract drama by Girish Karnad filled with freezes and a crazy dhoti-dance and won it in style.

I of course was pissed. I argued abstraction was bullshit and that we were by far the most entertaining. And we were. I grumbled and sighed. And then I saw the rest of the cast. They were jumping and dancing and singing together and looking at me with an almost paternal look. And then, I understood. It didn't matter as long as you put up the best show you could have. And that we did. 10g won best director that year, and deservingly so, because he'd managed to make 12 people who'd never before been on stage pull off one of the best pantomimes CLT had ever seen.

I fell in love with theater right from that day. And I've never looked back. It's something I rarely write about. And I've always wondered why.

Maybe its because I really didn't want to. Like Ganja once said,

"Some memories are like butterflies, pinning them to a page just takes the life out of them"

Oh and yeah we won Dramatics this year. For the first time in over 20 years.
It felt good.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

LoveActually Part-2

My first poem. Sheetal Mallar in the D'damas ad. The 2003 season BMW-Williams F1 engine singing around turn 14 in the United States grand prix at 18,000 rpm. David Blaine. Diana Krall's voice floating over my dining table. The Ferrari GTO parked silently on a cliffside in Posetano. Kedilaya Classes. Failing the JEE. Konkani dal. Passing the JEE. Beer and dirty jokes with dad. The last page of The Preacher. My first look at a Dali. Saarang 2004. Sachin Tendulkar in Desert Storm. Tumhara naam kya hai Basanti? The intro to Baba O' Riley. Venkatesh Prasad in the 1996 world-cup quarter finals. The last time I cried. Mood Indigo 2005. My first day at college. The first time I was kissed. My first play. Sulaj Kini dancing. Mahesh Shenoy's electric lap in the KMC swimming pool. Vasudev Bhat taking my pulse for the first time. Sneha Nagesh's songs. Sunil Pai's "Che faro Senza te?" and "This and that". P. Rathna Kumar after Schroeter Gold. Hattiwale Vipul Prakash staring at the halo around a full moon from Jamuna's roof. Harish S bursting into my room. Anushya Chandran 12 hours before Physics II. Washing powder Nirma. The Ericsson ad. Dexter's Lab. Atlas Shrugged. Pilot Paints.


Friday, June 02, 2006

A Dream Within A Dream

This post is dedicated to "The Alan Parsons Project", a bloody good project if I ever came across one!


For my own part, I have never had a thought which I could not set down in words with even more distinctness than that which I conceived it.

Tiny specs of silver flit about the air like little pixies. I felt alive. The gentle music floated over the air as if divine. This was the stuff that dreams were made of. I felt, perfect. In mind, in body and in soul. There was an ease to the flow of my limbs that had been unmatched for sometime now. I was old now and yet felt younger. I shivered and smiled.

There is however a class of fancies of exquisite delicacies which are not thoughts and to which as yet I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt to language.

Tranquility felt as if it was embedded in the sandy soft grains under my feet. It was a dark but glowing world. Shimmering stars hung around me suspended in thought and watching the world go by. This was a world as old as time itself. The gentle beating of my heart was the only thing that reminded me of my mortality. I felt buoyed and joyful. My mortality was irrelevant, my toes curled as I smiled and leapt into space.

These fancies arise in the soul, alas how rarely, only at epochs of most intense tranquility, when the bodily and mental health, are in perfection.

There was hardly any physical sensation present in this world. It felt like my body was suspended from its soul. And my soul was all that was alive here. A sea of nothing which welcomed solitude and transformed it into a dreamlike euphoric suspension. But the music, the music rung over and over in my mind. It fit so perfectly that it made me want to cry. And so I did, gently letting a teardrop glide in perfect silence on my cheek.

And at those mere points of time where the confines of the waking world blend with the world of dreams.

As I floated further and further away from the grainy surface under my feet, I turned to my left to see home, it was beautiful. Blue and radiant, it was the sort of place that would make the thought of a homecoming almost poetic. As my feet touched the ground after what felt like hours, I suddenly became aware of how lucky I was. A resident of a gem, who had had the chance to see it as an observer from another world, it felt like a dream, like something that I couldn’t possibly describe.

I walked over to the silver craft as it glimmered in the sun, and told the others I’d be coming home. I missed Earth. Who wouldn’t?

As the blast from the engines threw silver sparks of dust into the void. I took a picture on a camera that my son had given me.

And so I captured this fancy, where all that we see or is seen is but a dream within a dream.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mushroom Sauce

I do not want to write.

It isn't because I have lost my love for writing or that I have "Lost" it or anything. It's just that I have suddenly turned anti-social. Now the problem with using a word like that is that it has a very negative connotation. I'm no terrorist or anything, far from it. I'm not homicidal or suicidal. It's just that I'm having a hard time dealing with people right now. I feel like a quiet entity that's aimlessly floating around. It's so funny how little one's existence seems to matter to the rest of the work.

We're like little specs of dust really. We could spend all our life, just drifting along from point A to point B with nothing in particular on our minds. I got into college as a drifter. I went into IIT because it was the most obvious choice for any kid with any ability in math. And here I am still flowing about, like liquid wax... gooey and uncomfortable.

I've always had a fear deep in the back of my mind, behind a very confident facade. I've always known that I never really found anything that I would die for. I manufactured a lot of things to stave off that fear for as long as I possibly could. I told myself that business was in my blood, that I was a genius at finance and economics, that I wrote like a natural, that I could act with a lot of passion. But in they end all they are are hobbies. Period. Things that I'm quite good at but wouldnt really give up my life for.

I know I'm being a romantic by behaving like an idealistic teenager and that I should've grown up by now and realized that life isn't all black and white. But I somehow feel a deep sense of loss whenever I think about it. Somehow it feels like I'm cheating myself everytime I do something that I'm "good" at but I wouldn't die for. Which is the whole reason behind why I stopped writing.

at first I didn't know what it was. It started off as an uneasy feeling whenever I hit the keyboard and tried to write something. I dismissed it as writer's block and decided to wait until my muse returned or whatever. But slowly as time went by, I realized it wasnt writer's block. I would find beautfiul mental images everytime I took a walk or had a conversation with a niece about the games they'd play as kids. And I could see the post, in its full form, beautifully structured, perfect cadence. Something... complete.

And everytime that happened I'd run to the keyboard thrilled to bits about what I'd seen. Right up to the moment I reached the keyboard my eyes and heart would be full of that lovely full feeling that I get everytime a beautiful idea hits. But this time around it was different. Everytime my fingers touched the keyboard and I thought about what the reader would want to see, or even what I would want to see on a computer screen or on paper, my chest would deflate like a saggy balloon. And I would feel a little nauseated.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry so much.

I couldn't for the life of me give life to those beautiful images. Something that I thought I loved to do. And somewhere I'd never really understand why I allowed myself to walk away. It was a very uneasy feeling everytime I hit the keyboard. It was a strange sort of guilty disappointment. Almost as if I had cheated on someone.

I spoke to Pi about this and he told me all great writer's wrote not for themselves but for their audiences. He was talking in reference to great writers of graphic novels like frank miller or alan moore. Real geniuses they were and I really liked their work. And I was told they developed a particular style based on what the cult liked. Refining their own signature until it went hand in hand with taste. And they really liked what they were doing. Refining their style was like honing their craft for them. And they loved it.

Heck, lets even talk about the idealistic writers who were not appreciated when they were alive, evern they wrote because they loved it. I write just because I think I do it well. I like writing, I might even love it, but my life would go on without it. And I know that's not reason enough to stop writing but there something in my hard wiring that just hits me.

I feel guilty for not having anything that I love more than my life. I didn't feel that way when I was in love with a girl, or when I had thoroughly convinced myself that business was my life. But now, I have opened my mind. And I find that I have a lot of options before me. And somehow that's killed life for the moment. I loved being in love with something. I loved being ready to die for something. Now my life seems like european food... Classy, good-looking, expensive... but bland.

I am now Chicken Steak in Mushroom Sauce.

I'm going to be walking into the office of my dreams on Monday morning. The office building of DSP Merrill Lynch in Nariman Point, Mumbai. I will be working in an investment banking firm as an intern. The office of my teenage dreams. No less. And I'm nervous, no I'm terrified. Not about whether I'll do well or not. I know I'll be fine. I'm afraid of the fact that at the end of two months I'll know whether I want to do this for the rest of my life or not. And if I come back disappointed. I won't "Know" anymore.

And then passions will die. One by one. And I'll live life being brilliant but bland.

I'm scared. Somebody make me fall in love again.

With something. With anyting.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Paint House"

O maga koraga, yencha barpa na?
Karkala-da Gommatana kunde thoopana?

I grew up in a big town that never really became a city. And I come home to find that it still wants to say hello to me.

I sat at the table in a very lush restaurant tonight. I sat smiling and a little tipsy. Not from the beer that I'd had about 4 hours ago, but from the silly jokes that me and my Dad were cracking. My little sister and my mum sat with us, laughing uncontrollably at every lewd comment we cracked in crass Konkani and Tulu words. We sang those lines over and over again in rowdy celebration. We are your typical happy family.

I wouldn't want to tell you too much about my family. A certain Ms.Albert Wooster once told me it was an odd thing to do.

But I will tell you a couple of things. The stories aren't any fun otherwise.

As we sat at the table the tension would build every once in a while. When you find a couple that lives and works together all day and night, I'm figuring you'd end up with your hefty slice of issues. But they do a splendid job of dealing with it. They're awesome people, really.

And then there's me and my kid sister. She's the diplomat, the smooth talker. She works her angles with my Dad, with brilliant panache. And if that doesn't work, I cut in with some pointless story about IIT that manages to calm all of em down. It's been a very fun 20 odd years I say! And you don't go through em without learning a thing or two about cutting tension.

Bottom line? Home feels great. Especially when monotony is the issue that's been wearing me down.

I come home and find that Dad always has something embarrassingly interesting to say. That Mum will still run around the house left, right and center, never once complaining about how shamelessly we tend to take her for granted, just to get me a glass of mango juice when I lie on the couch.

That my kid sis still looks up to me to give her direction in what she's doing. That my old pals from school are still always there, even after months of zero contact, to say hello to. That my dog Suzy, will still drool all over my freshly washed jeans and run back and forth in a fit for no apparent reason. That my fridge will always be there, stocked with the sambar that was cooked that afternoon and a bar of 5-star tucked away behind the curd by my sister so my dad won't find it.

That, home still feels like... home.

O maga koraga, yencha barpa na?

Karkala-da Gommatana kunde thoopana?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Couple Thing

They sat quietly on a very normal dirt road. It was romantic, but not quite. The autumn leaves had fallen, but they were a little wet, a little crushed and very squishy.

"Autumn leaves are supposed to be crisp aren't they?" he wondered, while at the same time listening to the girl speak. There was an exhaust fan in the back ground, and the light from a flourescent lamp in the building nearby slowly streamed out onto the dirt.

"Why do flourescent lamps remove the magic from the air?" wondered the girl as she spoke. She spoke about nothing in particular. They were a couple, the two of them. They were 'seeing' each other.

Two very normal people, having a very normal relationship.

He'd say "I Love You."

She'd say "I Love You too."

They'd both tell themselves that they loved the other person. And everytime they tried to think of a reason, they'd just wonder for a while and then decide it wasn't worth the effort. Every time they spoke on the phone they'd ache to drag the conversation further, in the hope that it would suddenly turn spontaneous and happy. But it wouldn't happen. It would stay. Just like that. Normal. Two people talking, about nothing. Period.

"How many times can I possibly tell her about my day and still make it interesting?"

"How many times will he say 'I Love You' just to make this conversation passionate?"

And so they went on. Sitting on that dirt road. Him having run out of anecdotes and funny stories. Her having run out of nice things to say about him. Two people talking, because they felt they ought to. Period.

"Autumn leaves are supposed to be crisp aren't they?" he said.

"I know, its so gross when that happens. I mean, they make it out to be so romantic don't they. Miles Davis with his jazz solos, they never talk about how the leaking water from a nearby drain can make it a stinky pile of mush."

"Exactly! They try to make these everyday things sound all lovey-dovey and poetic. It's funny how the air never really feels that way."

"Don't you think tubelights remove the magic from the air?" she asked.

"Yeah... yeah, totally. The light feel so artificial, so like.. I dunno, it just feels like its trying too hard."

"Kinda like us sometimes no?"

He chuckled, "... Kinda like us, yeah." and shook his head slowly.

"Chal, let's go get some coffee." she slowly stood up slid the hair-band off her wrist and bit it as she bunched her hair up, tying it into a ponytail. And he wondered why women never understood how hot they looked when they left their hair open.

"Yeah lets..."

And they walked holding hands. They had to you know. It's a couple thing.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

To Pinni

Listen kid,

There are a few things I need to tell you. It's not like it can't wait, but life's been good to me of late and I'd much rather talk to you when the going's good. Life's too beautiful to be talked about in any other way. You're almost 17 now and that was a hard age for me. Seeing how you look up to me so much, I can pretty much tell how you must be feeling right now.

First off kid I'd wanna say I'm sorry. It hurts me more than you can imagine. I want to be there for you now more than anything else. But I can't. And life's like that sometimes darling. You don't always get what you want. Shit happens, what can I say?

Maybe I started on a sombre note, but I wanna say I love you kid. More than my heart can take.

Before you start getting all sentimental, let's get right down to the good stuff. I'm so excited for you kid. I feel like I'm gonna get to live all those golden years all over again through you. I know it sounds all preachy and cliched, but you're my star and I'm gonna live vicariously through you, yes at age 20 I'm a fuckin dad. How cool is that?

To quote steely dan... "Your everlasting summer you can see it fading fast, so you grab a piece of something you think is gonna last." So I'm grabbing hold of you kid. Live life, and live it like I did kid. Right up to the hilt. By the way, start listen to jazz seriously, ditch tripping on floyd. This shit is where its at! You'll know what I'm saying soon enough.

But now I'm gonna be very generic kid. Cuz that's all I can be when I'm telling you stuff like this. The specifics of 17-18-19 just kills the experience so just go out there and have yourself a ball. But please please please kid, never ever ever forget your priorities. Study hard kid, your marks definitely arent a sign of your intelligence, but it sure as hell tells another person about your ability to take shit when its thrown at you.

Sure you'll have ups and downs, sure you'll feel like shit sometimes, you may even get to the point of feeling pointless and suicidal. But I'll tell you this kid. It gets better, much much better. You're too much of a toughie for things to go the other way. Whatever happens at home with mom and dad or with your acads or with men, it'll get better.

Speaking of men. I'd like to tell you to stay the hell away from our slimy race but all I can say is be careful kid. Be smart about how you deal with em. Heck I know you will, but its my job to tell ya anyway. And if anybody ever hurts you, you know I'm just a call away and I'll kick the shit out of the asshole!

All said and done kid, I just wrote this to tell you that I'll always always always be there for you pinni. Watching with the proudest smile I can muster. I know you'll go far. It's just a matter of time before you realize the same thing. I'll tell you more to make you cry when I see you next.

Take care of yourself kid. You know I love you.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Interview with Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society (NY Rock)

Interview with Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society (NY Rock) - "All I do in my life is make sure I have massive sex with my wife, take care of my kids, practice guitar, write songs, lift weights and clean up Rottweiler dog shit. If anything gets beyond that, it gets confusing."

Funny man. Great musician. (Thanks, Goat-o)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Baby, Please Don't Go! (My first blues number!)

I see you and you see me,
Strangers alone on a one way street,
Smiling quietly, heading away,
Baby, I like the way you sway.

Turn around sunshine,
I'd like to tell you a story of mine,
Quietly standing in the sun,
Of tears fought and battles won.

Yes it has, it's been a while,
Since I made a stranger smile.
Quirky conversation beside a cafe window,
Your hair moves in wisps as the wind blows.

You smell of peaches and cream,
Smell so good darlin' I could scream.
Could I fall in love, in love over just a few lines?
I'm a lost kid, please, baby, please be mine.

So this is a kid, writin' you a song,
He'd like you to sing along.
And hold his hand like a good baby girl,
Dance with him and give his hair a nice good twirl.

I see you and you see me,
Strangers alone on a one way street.
Smiling quietly, heading away,
Nothing happened, cuz, there was nothing I could say.

N.B: Listening to Muddy Waters while writing a poem can lead to "happy" bluesy poems. It's that blues scale. It does something to you!

I promise

To my brothers in arms,

I call today, to speak to you as an equal. Not in distress and not in joy. But in the sheer spirit of respect. I call today to welcome you into a world that I have only just discovered. Into a world in which I am but an infant. The world of men.

A world where every man stands on his own two feet. A world where responsibility is not a chore but the breath in our lungs making our chests swell with pride. A world where class isn't accquired or sought after or put on, but lived. I call today from a place my fathers and fore-fathers have wished me to see. I call today for I have learnt the meaning of friendship.

I speak as a friend, as a brother, as an equal.

I speak today with a certain hope in my heart. With promises to keep and lives to live.

To awake each morning with a sense of purpose. To treat each man as I wish to be treated. To laugh, but laugh only with a heart so light, that it may fill the room with an air of truth. To never speak without concern and without respect for each word that is being said. To listen with an intensity that the speaker has merited. To write, with a clean precision that the written word deserves. To bow to courage, a virtue so seldom seen. To love with complete abandon, irrespective of the hurt it may cause.

To live deep, to write verses in powerful plays, to suck the marrow of life.

I promise.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I Look Like A Monkey, And I Act Like One Too!

It's my birthday today. I've had a blessed life. Yes issues and all. I say it today and i mean every bloody word. I've loved every moment. I stand today with no regrets. And lots to look forward to. I'm not in a zen like state of complete peace but I'm happy. I think thats what counts.

So here goes, this one is for everyone that has stuck by me. My sister, my parents, my pals, my teachers and everybody who thinks I'm worthwhile. As for the others, I'm not going to bother being politically correct in my own little nook in cyber space. FUCK OFF! I mean it, get the hell away from me! *grins* Now that I've done away with the riff-raff, I'm back to the people who matter.

To everyone... Thanks!

I am who I am because of the people I've met. This is not a poetic exaggeration. My tastes, my interests, my opinions, my persona has been shaped almost completely by the people I've met and cared about or respected. I don't know if thats a good or bad thing but that's how it has been. And I think its turned out OK. I stand today, with a long but beautiful road ahead of me. With a deep breath and a smile, I plunge on. World Domination awaits!

Cheers everyone!

Have a beer on me. I'll pay for it later! Hic!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The New Year.

I danced with my sister today. She made me smile.

This will be a happy new year indeed.

Cheers everyone.

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