Saturday, July 31, 2010

Electrified

Na, This is not a book review. I am just irritated with the absolute lack of civic sense in Bangalore. Well, everyone knows i dont need a specific reason to complain. I am after all your typical 'next door love to complain about every damn thing in the world' person. However, for a change, today was a day of righteous anger. I had decided to go on a walk to forum around 7.30 pm.

The pavements in the main road were pitch dark except when an occasional motorist in the wrong side of the road decided to bless us with light. I seriously was thinking about the bible and the place where god said 'Let there be light'. For if it hadnt been for these benevolent souls, i would have tripped over more pot holes! I was literally bugged and fuming with rage when i decided to blame it on a power cut and be a little nicer to the world in general. Imagine my surprise when i walk a few metres ahead and see shops ablaze (with bright lights). And i thought we only wasted power at weddings! I really wish this nonsense stops soon. There is a limit to 'visual' merchandising!

Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett

I don't think men are better than women. OR that women are better than men. It is individual. Some women are smarter, some men are. Now that i have tried to establish myself as a balanced individual and not a feminist, lets get down to making this post a review it was supposed to be.

I started this Pratchett after all the gyan in Small Gods and once again, he has done an awesome job. He has handled issues of gender equality,religion and war with such finesse that i have to call him my favorite author now! The plot is simple. Polly Perks has to get her brother back. He has not come back home from the army and without a male heir, the duchess (her father's bar) would be given to a distant cousin if she is not married. As her getting married does not seem possible, she decides to go ahead and find her brother by enlisting in the army. Considering the fact that her God considers women in war an abomination, she disguises herself as a man by cutting her hair short and with a few other minor adjustments. :D What happens to her and her fellow comrades forms the rest of the story.

The book has a lot of funny instances and the best are those involving her trying to act like a man. She does this by 'belching loudly, public nose picking and scratching'. I couldn't help laughing at a man making fun of another. The meaninglessness of war is dealt with subtly but quite powerfully. It is a matter of survival whether it means having horse stew or using dead soldiers boots or plundering dead civilians. It is not just about honor or glory for at the end of the day, it is plain survival. I was lost in thought and in admiration for one of the most brilliant writers I have read. Funny, philosophical, witty and yes, so real - thats monstrous regiment for you.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Small Gods - Terry Pratchett

I have read Pratchett before, laughed at his mockery and thought a bit about the ideas behind the satire. In this book, i was spell bound by the truth in the fantasy. Small Gods- they are powerful as long as they have believers. Otherwise, their state becomes quite pitiful. Om is one such God. He has a whole city full of his followers and just one believer, a very innocent and naive novice who refuses to initially accept that his God is actually a one eyed tortoise. Brutha's belief gets to you. You cheer him on as he refuses to let evil get to him. His belief gets him through enemy camps, crazy philosophers and a desert. He tries his best to do the right thing all the time. His simple matter of fact questions throw us off track as we realize that the truth is seldom so simple.

Here is one hero whose belief i wish i had. Rather, whose belief i want to cultivate. I want to believe that evil doesn't vanquish evil. It only spreads it to more hearts. I want to believe that no matter how gloomy the situation looks, at the end of the tunnel, there is the light of the truth. I choose to believe.

This book mocks at all those who worship the structure created to protect the idea rather than the idea by itself. I really hope that deep down our ideas live on unhindered by the shape taken by the form to please the world. Once the idea becomes unrecognizable, so will we. I hope the day aint near. All of us are stuck in our cocoons believing the mirages we see. I want to wake up from the comfort of the sleep. I want to believe.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Living the dream

You live the dream. If you are not, it means you are not awake long enough to work towards the dream. Sometimes the end objective takes a longer time in getting a shape and form, but then, in the intermediate period from when the dream comes into your mind to the final day when it is true and standing, there are a lot of stages in the middle. At each point you have to ponder about this - if you plot a graph from (0,0) to the (x,y) and see where you are and where you are supposed to be, and if you are not close, it just means that you are not working hard enough and spending all your time dreaming.

If you are somewhere in the vicinity- awesome! You are living the dream. The dream is but an idea. The dream is but a thought that has taken a form and shape. You are the creator, you are the protector and yes, you got it right, only you can destroy it. Some say i sound like I am cut off from reality, but the fact is, I believe that nothing that is yours can be taken away from you. I believe in happy endings. They might take a long time in coming, but they do come sometime. You might see a lot of endings which are not ends but meagre means for you to attain your actual ends. I now look back at my many so called endings which were but starting points for longer painful journeys and now i see, I am living the dream moving closer to what i think I want to be now. But knowing life and its strange way of giving me lessons at the most unexpected moments, i wonder if this is but an other mirage and if what i am meant for is something else completely.

Emotional Atyachar

It happens to all of us. At sometime or the other. Sometimes sooner than later. However, hardly a few of us admit to it. Some I know even relish relationships that prevent them from growing. There are some who take it to another extreme and disregard everything because it could lead to Emotional Atyachar and end up committing it upon themselves.

It happens with the parents who say their kids should not be selfish and marry someone they find unsuitable or the husband who asks the woman to not work as it is her higher duty to take care of her helpless kid, or the mother who does not let her kid play as it could get hurt, everywhere where the power balance is disturbed by all those who thrust their views upon an unsuspecting soul. The ones that completely rework your personality when you are not even aware of it happening.

The worst possible scenario is when you know it is happening but cannot get out of it. When you are helpless. As you dont want to lose what you have. Something that defines you. It could be in a job you hate with a boss you detest but a pay you love. It could be a mother in law you hate but a husband you love. Somewhere, somehow.

The ones that change who you are, your definitions of right and wrong and ultimately, affect the very core of your being. What do we do when we know we are being manipulated? Just go with the flow. Like the goat that is led on by the butcher. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a human being. For after you die, you are not going to know what is happening around you. But this emotional atyachar is going to kill you in the worst possible way. Slowly remove traces of your personality and simply kill who you are.

How do you combat it? Rather, how do you identify when it is a case of atyachar and when it is a case of genuine concern? There is but a thin line between a bear hug and a deathly embrace. How do you distinguish?How do you know if it is the rework of a skilled hand on a piece of gold or if it is the deathly blow of an anvil to break a work of art into pieces?

I have thought about it long and hard (Like all questions in life) and I have come to the conclusion that, you cant fight fate. You cant have a perfect life. Someone would manipulate you. Someone would try to give you their idea of happiness and expect you live their dream which you detest. But then, whether you like it or not, you are the master of your fate. Unless you stand up for yourself, nothing is going to help you. There are no knights in shining armors. Those armors are rusting in a castle in your mind waiting for you to clean them up and wear them.

Waiting, for the right hand that can recreate and not destroy. You have the power and the responsibility that comes with it. To defend. To not maim or destroy. To identify it is the idea that your fight is against and not the human being. To accept that it takes all of them to make the world. To let live and learn - to survive without falling for the ploy to be accepted as someone you are not but should ideally be. To be who you are without slowly turning into a monster of self defense. For sometimes in defense, you end up offending more than you initially intended to, without realizing it.

Run

There is a haze in the distance. Towards which i am running with all my might.
I see all that I am running away from. I cant see that which i am running towards. I just know that i have to run. Away from all that defines me. Away from the identity i have somehow ended up with. Away from the dreams that I know I created so carefully. Away from everything that is.
I dont have to pause. I know I would ponder. I know I would stop. But this running is now the new me. This running defines. This running defies. This running lets me live.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My first love

Well, the post title is technically incorrect for I still am not sure whether it was books or music. But I remember a childhood full of both. As an adult i was temporarily disconnected from the former. However, now, it is not the case and my growing collection of exotic titles proves it beyond a doubt.

I used to practice music quite actively (read whenever my mother made me do it) till my 12th standard. After that, i have taken up the role of an active listener. There have been many instances when i wondered if i should go back to practicing the songs i loved. Each time, something or the other came up (like the easy availability of tomatoes and eggs in my old neighborhood) and i never got down to it. Today, was a little different as i have been searching for and listening to songs i loved as a kid. I guess I have to get over my inhibitions(yes, i do have some) and get back and yes, start singing more often.

Dreamer

I see the horizon from afar
I move towards it
captivated to conquer
what seems impossible

I see the stars up above
and set out to reach them
for something so wonderful
has to be commanded

I ignore the happiness i have
in pursuit of a non existent euphoria
Some call me a fool
But I just know the difference
between my dreams
and my reality

For some dreams can just be dreams
In my imagination i attain
oneness with my virtual world
not stopping to live my life
I am only a dreamer
with too many dreams
some close to my reality
some just too far away

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Witches Abroad

I am reading an amazing work of art. That is what i felt with each page of this amazing novel. Terry Pratchett made me fall in love with words and thoughts all over again. For fantasy lovers, I guess it is no secret that he is amazing and can weave magic with his words.

The story here is as simple as it is complex. A fairy god mother, upon her death (come on, she is a fairy god mother, she knows when she is going to die) bequeaths her wand to a very untraditional witch who is in the process of finding herself. Magrat (no spelling mistake here) and two cranky witches set out to prevent the god daughter from marrying the prince. (yes, you read it right again. Prevent) Throughout the book, the author brings in numerous fairy tales, but not in the way you would want them to be.

The grandmother in little red riding hood is saved, Sleeping beauty is woken up much ahead of time etc etc, all by 3 witches who unwittingly step into numerous fairy tales. Oh, how can i forget about the witches wand which turns everything into pumpkins? As arbitrary as all of it might seem, the way they are cast together is spell binding. Terry Pratchett is amazing!

Another author to add to my list of favorites. I somehow feel he will soon top the same.

Change

Sometimes when you look back at life, all that is left at the end of the day, is the finality of change. You try to fight it, you try to defend yourself against it. Sometimes, what you dont want to change is so dear to you that you simply close your eyes and wish it would all go away. All the while you know somewhere in the depth of your heart that what you are fighting is a losing battle.
For change does never go away. It is always there in the dark corner, hidden from human sight. I had never wished so hard for things to not change. I usually welcome change, for i always felt that there was some room for improvement in my life. However, when i finally thought that what i had was ideal, he comes back again this time with bigger twists than i ever expected. The magnitude can only be quantified when something close to your heart is taken away. Even if it is only a pillow. Even if it is only a seat.

It is an indication that nothing is in your hands and whether you want it or not, the divine being has bigger plans for you, you can never even think of imagining for your creativity is not as wonderful as his. Your imagination cannot even stem close. You watch helpless and in hindsight realise that this was always to come. You realise that change, is the only friend who will last. Change is the only one you can hate as much as you love. All i can do is get ready to bid adieu and move forward.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mangalore


Here are a few pictures i had taken in my trip.

Shringeri






Hanumanthagundi
Western Ghats

The math behind stereotypes

All of us must have done it in school. This whole fitting a straight line thing. There are random dots all over the area and you fit a line such that it is in the minimum distance possible while covering all points. A line that captures the trend best.

When i did it for the first time, i found it damn stupid. I mean, you can fit a line and say this covers most points, but the fact is, it is not a true representation of those points. As an analyst, i learnt to remove outliers and predict trends. But now I do know that the ideal straight line doesnt exist in the real world.

Just like our ideal easy to imagine stereotypes. It is a little difficult to digest, but the truth is when you list down the attributes of what you call typical and search among those you know or observe to find all traits in them, you really cant! There is no tomboy who is a perfect tomboy, something is missing. There is no guy who is ideal for he either is a shade too dark or too tiny for the tall, dark and handsome adage. There arent too many people who are cautious in all aspects of life. SImply put, like i said a few sentences before, the stereotypes dont exist. They are but a line forced to fit a few random dots as best as they could. Even the outliers, who I would remove for a better picture are not always that different.

Try this exercise. Think of the most different person you know and the most normal one you know. As much as their differences exist, there are also some similarities.

That, i think is the most beautiful and the most irritating part about life. You are never so different as to be a fully unique snow-flake, you are never too alike to be just another stereotype. Every individual is unique as well as normal to varying degrees. When i start thinking about this, i realise i cant hate people peacefully now for there are similarities which exist. Maybe, i should look at the similarities and try to be careful about the harm the differences can do. Maybe, the solution to world peace is mathematical. It is all but a force fitted straight line. Remove it and accept the randomness that is all but random.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Majesty

I had an awesome weekend. It all started with a chance trip to Mangalore and I fell in love with life all over again. The beautiful beaches, the fresh air, the sudden quick downpours, the tasty food.. all of it stole my heart. I have never been so cranky before a vacation. I have never found answers to my questions. Somehow the sheer magnitude of life hit me on the shores of a beach. I realized how powerless everyone is before what really matters, what really lasts for centuries together.

Mangalore is a beautiful and clean city. The roads are broad, the people are nice and the food is tasty. (Of course how can i not talk about food?) Surathkal beaches are I think among the best kept secrets in the world. It is so serene and cut off from everything. The waves relentlessly wash over majestic rocks(that's the image that so stands in my mind). I have not transferred my pictures yet, but i doubt if anything I ever take can capture the beauty i saw. (Not that I am a great photographer, but this time, i explored the options in my camera for quite sometime. :) )

We visited Hanumanthagundi on our way back from Shringeri. Awesome waterfalls. We were the only people around for the first 10 mins. The sheer force of the falls took my breath away. It was worth the long trek down.

The western Ghats yet again stood out taller than anything else. The Kudremukh park and the drive through it on our way from Shringeri was amazing! When you are surrounded by beauty, somehow your mind unwinds and all the useless pressure you savor and build up, slowly disappear. The realization that you are but a small part of a wonderful universe sinks in and you get to accept that your problems, no matter how big they seem are but a really minuscule part of a majestic universe. You feel humbled and proud at the same time. That is how I feel as i sit and try to pen down my feelings and thoughts of a weekend well spent in Surathkal and Mangalore.

I don't know what was it that i loved about the trip. When i try sitting and recounting it, I am lost for words and as i re-read what i have written, I feel like all that is there is an incoherent string of words put together because there were too many things to write about. Too many things that are close to my heart and will always remain so.

To life and everything about it. I have fallen in love with you all over again, after a brief but nasty disenchantment. :) To Varun, for his suggestion and for being probably the best guide I could have found there. To the awesome company and the philosophical discussions which i hope someday make it to my book.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The lost symbol

I owe one to Dan Brown. I have started reading after a long hiatus of about a month. This was one speed read. I don't mean to say it was good, but it was an ok read. After the illuminati and the holy grail, he has explored the masons this time around. It does look like he has done a lot of research. I wonder if masons around the world would agree completely with what he had written about them and their rituals.

A writer produces one masterpiece and continues writing in similar lines for other masterpieces. I loved Angels and Demons, but after Da Vinci COde and Lost symbol, Dan Brown has become a little predictable. Of course, this time around, i expected a twist and I did get it.

I have been ranting on and on without talking too much about the book. Here you go with a short synopsis. Robert Langdon sets out to find his kidnapped friend, Peter. Once again, he has to evade chase by the officials and once again, he gets a smart woman to help him with his quest. One thing i do like about Dan Brown, he has intelligent women characters unlike most thrillers. The masonic rituals and myths have been explored and explained in detail in the book and a lot of everyday religious activities have been portrayed in a different light. I did enjoy the read, but I dont know whether i would call it ground breaking. A good read when you have nothing better to do.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Phileas hogg

Na, I am not making fun of Jules Verne's character. This is the name of the restaurant i went to in marathahalli today. It is located right above the Yo China before you get on to the fly over.

Let me start with the decor before i forget. No prizes for guessing, it is a theme restaurant based loosely on the classic, "Around the world in 80 days". The bar has the look of a British port, which is where the journey begins. Then we have one part of the restaurant looking like an Indian train. (The Mumbai to kolkatta journey) The grills on the windows and the small luggage racks above are well, the work of an artistic person. The train ends in a steamer which represents their journey from kolkata. Their journey through America is depicted by a map on the wall. (There are pictures of various Indian tribes and their locations detailed in the same.)

Now that i have described the ambiance, let me get to the food. Their menu is quite elaborate. They have food from all over the world. We tried the pita bread (which has become a recent favorite of mine) and a mushroom dish for the starters. The former was really good while the latter wasn't that great. One thing i should mention is that one serving of their starters is quite huge compard to the other such restaurants in Bangalore. For the main course we ordered chilly tofu with noodles. It was awesome! I have to admit to having a brilliant dinner!

I think i should go there at least once more to taste a few more dishes i found interesting. I would definitely recommend this place. The proprietor is quite friendly and explained the funda behind the decor. I had only guessed the train part of it. :) A friday evening well spent. I am looking forward to more discoveries and yes, a beautiful begining.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Big Bang Theory

I got a genie (well i wished for one) as a room mate and am I glad it happened! I have started watching 'popular' television serials (by popular i mean those that are watched by people in my age group in 2010.) The earlier series i have really enjoyed are the brainless "Bewitched" and "I dream of Jeannie" Adorable and quite entertaining in the darkest of moods. But thanks to Jinny(whom i also call genie) i started watching Big Bang Theory.

It is really funny! (I can hear a lot of avid followers saying "We know so" but then I don't watch too many sitcoms remember?) I have not reached the stage of addiction yet. I don't think i would either because as interesting as Sheldon's lines can be, i know i am not him and giving his lines in public is not going to get me into the company of those i want to be with (incidentally the population i am with). It would instead get me beaten up by them for plagiarism.

The intention of the post was not to rant (though i do that all the time) but to tell the world that i have finally entered the group of sitcom watching individuals. (not addicts mind you. ) For those who would like to start somewhere to join this high volume population, you can start with BBT. It is hilarious and serves as a good icebreaker with new comers who watch it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I guess i never was Einstein

Conflict

If life is all about moving on,
Why do we look at credit history
before we lend?

If life is all about seizing the day,
Why are we investing
for a future that might never arrive?

If life is all about loving your neighbour,
Why do we not even know their names?

For many a saying,
many a collection of empty words,
I wonder how well,
my personal and professional life conflict
and simply co-exist
running out of all possible options.

I Hate luv stories

Well, I actually love them. The candy floss brainless love stories where girl loves guy loves girl, all ends well. I prefer watching them to all serious stuff thats sad. Needless to say, i thought this would be a good chick flick. THe director has tried really hard to make fun of a lot of Bollywood movies. On a relative scale, i would say that he has succeeded to a large extent. The initial half is quite funny with the minor characters adding pace and spice to the movie.

I lost the story in the second half. The only nice thing was the humour that tried to pop in at times. Do i have to mention it was a wee bit contrived? However, Imran Khan has done a great job and Sonam Kapoor, well, to quote a friend, she is the perfect example of what make up can do to you.

I loved the flying machine t-shirts. Think they are quite cool. I would recommend this as a one time watch for people with sometime to kill. It will not sweep you off your feet but would definitely help you pass time.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Dandeli

It started last monday when we decided to go a colleague's wedding reception in belgaum. After a lot of thought on where all can we possibly go from there, we finally zeroed in on Dandeli. Luckily, we managed to get accomodation in the Government Bungalow over there. A few words about the bungalow - It is much cheaper than the private resorts. The only disadvantage being the abundance of cats in the dining area. I HATE CATS and cant eat if they are around. The place is really beautiful and seemed huge. They arranged for a forest safari. The only animals we saw (apart from each others faces) were a squirrel, few deer here and there and of course Bison (which is what the area is famous for) The view of the Western Ghats was really awesome. For the first time i regretted having a 5 MP camera. I guess i should go ahead and buy one with a better resolution.

Western Ghats


The jungle is simply breathtaking. One thing that anyone would notice is that the entire ride is simply green! Whereever you turn, you see beautiful trees and almost no pollution. The whole area is so clean! Usually in tourist places you notice a lot of paper and plastic covers lying around. That doesnt seem to be the case in whatever i saw of Dandeli.


After the mostly uneventful jungle safari, we had a peaceful evening. The sun set only around 7.30 so we had enough time to sit and have our hands read. :D
The village is quite peaceful and filled with friendly people. (There were a few football fanatics with us who walked into a hut with a dish tv connection to find out the score. :) ) There is one disadvantage with the cottages. The door has a two way glass and there is no curtain to hide yourself from the outside world. I was half hoping for a tiger to peep in, but that dint happen. :(

Overall, i would recommend Dandeli as a peaceful getaway from all the noise (you cant orchestrate a bandh to reduce pollution levels too often. Can you?)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Mid year

Its mid year! I mean 6 months have gone by and 2010 is well into its middle age. When did it happen?!I cant believe that. Well, come on harini, you can. You have been waiting for days to end as days and not act like weeks. For the few who cant make sense of that statement, go figure. :)
The last 6 months have been a whirl wind of events. Everytime i face change, i think life hasnt changed so much ever till the next storm of change comes. 2010- professionally and personally has shown me how much i really am capable of. A new apartment, new responsibilities, new beginnings i never had the guts to imagine and of course a whole new change to my life. Nothing drastic like me being made the queen or something, but if the 2009 Harini saw me now, shell say, "Things around you have changed"

I have become a lot more outspoken and bold than i ever was. (I can hear a few sighs as if i am not outspoken enough already) I have discovered this fearlessness inside me to stand by the truth and take the bull by its horns. My earlier self never had the need to do that. In the process of self discovery, i have discovered the many pieces that make me complete. I am now ready to stop running and accept my life rather than ponder about it. Yes, I have grown. Mallik tells me, at each point in their life, every individual firmly believes they are mature. That might be the case. But right now, i feel older, wiser and yes, happier. Not to mention truly beautiful for once one accepts shortcomings, what is left inside is beautiful.

I still have some items left in my 30 before 30 list and i think that a few of it is going to come true really really soon. Strangely, I am not scared of drastic change as i was a few years ago. I guess with time, you really are ready. A toast to 2010. What was there and what is left of it.