Monday, December 19, 2011

Updates of the general kind

Since I cannot bring myself to think deep enough and come up with a blog post on anything of significance, I just thought I might just come up with something that elaborates on the aforementioned topic of this post.

Holiday season? Not quite.

Thanksgiving to New years is usually when the clients take it easy and there are no strict deadlines staring into the eye. Not in my case this year. Its been a crazy one month with issues cropping up everyday and the bane of weekend on call support adding its own flavors.Just when I thought the system was getting stable after the go-live ,all such notions have now been charred beyond recognition ,in the raging inferno of day-to-day issues.Which is one more reason why I cant wait for Feb, when I'll be off on a vacation to India for 20 full days. A trip to LA has been planned with colleagues for the Christmas weekend, but I'm assuming it will be frantic from the word go.

Trip trappings in Texas

Talking about trips, I have undertaken quite a few in the 15 months of stay here in the US. Notable ones include the ones to New York city, Chicago ,Yosemite national park ,San Francisco and the Big bend national park down south in Texas. Which is pretty much almost all of the places I have seen so far. I leave out Las Vegas here because apparently no visit to that city is complete if you haven't covered Grand Canyon and the Hoover dam in the same trip. Having seen these cities, I now crave for visits to the wilderness. National parks, hikes, and the like. Places like the colorado springs in Denver, Niagara falls, the grand canyon are on the bucket list of tours to be undertaken before I return to India for good. Also, my heart craves for an eyefull of the splendid fall colors.The Eastern Sierra ranges in northern california ,the Smokies in Tennessee and New Hampshire in particular are bestowed with the splendor and resplendency of the full glory of the season's colors.Being stuck in Texas means one has to fly out to these destinations and that leaves little scope for last minute planning,whereas in California or in the north/east coast or for that matter the midwest, one doesn't have to plan too much in advance. Renting a car and driving down is always an option. Not so with Texas with its large tracts of barren lands, one-day-per-winter of snow,merciless summers and a non existent fall season. May be the only good thing here is the absence of state taxes,interestingly for a state which is an anagram of that very word!

Attention span problems

Blame it on Facebook or blame it on Twitter, but my decreasing attention span is a clear and present danger, raising its ugly face everytime I'm confronted with any post/article/link of a substantial size requiring my attention for more than 5 minutes. Yes, its come down to such depressing levels. Once a voracious reader of the newspaper, I find myself struggling every morning to keep myself focused for more than half an hour. That I dont wake up early enough and that I dont have a long enough commute to office for me to spend time on a paper,unlike in India, may be valid reasons, but I'm quite sure it has as much to do with my ability to devote attention lasting long enough. Which is probably one of the reasons behind me not being able to think deeply enough on any topic worth its salt and present those thoughts in the form of a blog. I must also shamelessly admit that I've had to return a couple of books to the library without reading them fully,after having kept them for the longest permissible time,using up all the renewals. I seriously need a way back into the books and I have no idea how.

Serial Killing

I've never quite been a TV show person. Back in India,I'd miss no chance to troll the hell out of  my folks at home while they'd be busy watching their favorite shows on TV which made me an utterly undesirable element during the showtimes. And that kind of instilled a generally negative opinion on TV in my mind. That seems to have changed in the recent past, thanks to some people I follow keenly on Twitter/Facebook, who have pretty good tastes ( or tastes I appreciate) when it comes to matters of art and music. Of course it is a very subjective thing, it could be argued,though. All of which means I have developed a taste for the american sitcoms and TV shows and I must admit being swept off my feet looking at the production values and the high quality of programming on offer. So far I have completed all seasons of 2 shows, one being the intense drama,Prison Break( they dragged the last season a lot, I felt though.) and the other being the quirkily funny Arrested Development. Used to watch Two and a half men as well, but have stopped after it lost its sheen. Pun intended, for sure. Currently I am catching up with How I met your mother, which has 7 seasons in all but I don't see putting myself through all of them. In all likelihood, I'm not watching season 3 onwards which is why I did myself a favor and read a pretty good gist of it all in wikipedia. On my instant queue in Netflix are Breaking Bad, Mad men and 30 rock, not necessarily in that order. And oh yes, did I forget to mention that I find 'Friends' to be highly over-rated?

Thoughtful considerations

Considering that attention spans in general are decreasing, and it is not an isolated phenomenon, I'd guess it would be good to end this post here,being mindful of the fact that I need to exercise some mercy on whoever chooses to read this post. More later!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A post late by 3 months.

To begin with a cliche,I'd say a lot of water has flown under the proverbial bridge since the last time I blogged. In fact why is it that I feel so every time I post a blog? So much that it is a bit like making a come back every single time. But this post is not about why I cannot write more often.This is a post that should have come around 2-3 months back. Only that the thoughts got lost in a flash flood of sorts.Which kind of brought down the bridge.Bad one. I digress.

Coming back to the water and the bridge,yes, a certain world cup was won to satiate almost a billion crazy maniacs of the game and the team. This was something that could have provoked a post from me, being no less a fanatic myself. What instead happened was I read so much stuff from so many people, that everything that could have been said about 'the' match was done to death by every blogger worth his or her salt. That said, it was nevertheless a unique occasion. Here I was alone in my apartment (I live with two others, one chose to go to his brother's place and the other chose to go apartment hunting on that day-the latter mostly out of a fear of jinxing our team just by watching them play!), shouting and screaming and cursing and clenching fists and gnawing throughout the course of the match, finally culminating in that magnificent six over the long on boundary,accompanied by that slick twirl of the bat by MSD. And then I erupted in joy. A feeling that had never been felt in reality before; a feeling that had only been dreamed of, a feeling  we all had only wondered about. Here it was. What followed was high decibel screaming and a subsequent  mental delirium of sorts  which was to last for a few more days until it all gradually sunk in. When the dust seemed to settle a bit on the state of my mind,when it looked like I could sit down and gather myself and word my thoughts, it felt like a frustrating drought of a verbal nature.Words vanished like clouds on a drought-affected land,mind resembling a parched landscape. I had read so much from so many sources, it seemed like I had nothing different to offer in the form of one more blog post... after all  it would have been just another drop in an ocean.

Most part of last year, I spent aspiring for a couple of things to be precise(among many other less-interesting ones, of course). One was a purely professional one- that of traveling to the US for a long term assignment and the other was about India winning the cup.Once the visa was obtained,I was reasonably certain that an on site opportunity would materialize sooner than later, but the second one was prone to becoming a pipe-dream, especially since I had seen 5 previous world cup dreams crashing like a lead-balloon.

Never did I know that I would live to experience both-simultaneouosly(not to say I had any imminent threat to life!).Although I'd've preferred the company of a few friends during that moment of triumph,celebrating it in solitude was interesting in its own way. For I didn't really feel like I was alone. There were those scores of people I was following on Twitter. The entire world cup was watched in the crazy company of some very funny and equally mad tweeters. Every single incident evoked a whole gamut of emotions on the timeline and it was one heck of a substitute for the lifeless,cliche-ridden and banal commentary that was on offer. Testmatch Sofa was also frequented upon,by muting the commentary from the live stream.Tuning into this website offered a very irreverent,funny and sarcastic point of view on the proceedings.It was like watching a dubbed movie or something.OK,not quite the analogy I was looking for but you get the drift,don't you?

The journey from the knock-outs, goes without saying, was one roller coaster ride. The quarter final against the Aussies started off as a sleepless night-before,progressing as a nervous,gingerly first innings as Ricky Ponting guided them to a tricky total. It was then time to go to office, and the next couple of hours were destined to be totally unproductive from a work-perspective. It was an exercise in venting out all possible emotions even while trying your best not to let them out in a way which would make the clients aware of such feelings. This was the most tense I would feel in the entire world cup. The last over was watched streaming on one of my desi co-worker's mobile with utter disregard to the download limits his data plan imposed.Nobody cared as long as we were winning.

Pakistan was an entirely different proposition. The hype back home was understandably maddening and over-the-top and I was kind of insulated from all that frenzy the media created in a way. That I didn't have any TV here helped. However, an Indo-Pak encounter in a world cup is nothing like anything.(no, this sentence wasn't sponsored by micromax or karbonn or whichever brand uses that as a tagline). The fever gets to you. What I experienced on that day was something I will cherish for a long time to come. We were a pretty formidable number of desis at the client's place. A couple of influential Indians working with the client had enough authority to book a meeting room and screen the match live for our sake. Heck, they even sponsored snacks, drinks and a post-victory pizza for lunch!We did try our bit to help the Americans understand what all that fuss was about too. Work and deadlines and time- everything came to a standstill. Only those hysterical bunch of Indians packed inside a room seemed to be moving about crazily. The clients,had resigned to fate that no work would be done that day,irrespective of whether we were going to lose or win.It was very nice of them indeed.

To abruptly end with another cliche,the final of course,as they say, was history. I still cannot muster the words to describe that match.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A forgotten father,a maligned martyr

“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood”

Albert Einstein said this about Mahatma Gandhi decades ago and I still can’t stop wondering at how brilliantly it captures the essence of that man,the persona that the Mahatma was,is and forever will be,with his unshakeable legacy of nothing but the truth,non-violence and simplicity.That a man who stood for such principles should be subjected to so much  abuse and hatred and disrespect is a matter of the greatest of ironies. In fact, it might well be cited as an example of what defines an irony.
The nation of arm chair experts that we are, most of us conveniently blame him for partition without even bothering to know that he was the biggest obstacle for Nehru & Co on one side and Jinnah and his cohorts on the other side to see to it that one of the greatest bloodbaths in the history of mankind is staged here in the subcontinent- in the form of partition.  He was obstinate and stubborn in his opposition to split the country into two. I don’t even think he was ever convinced about the idea. They just chose to ignore him and go ahead with the power brokering and the detailing of how to separate the conjoined countries.
While most of them were busy in Delhi bargaining and arguing over who’d get what after the 15th of August 1947- this in the days/months leading up to India’s ‘tryst with destiny’ as famously described by Jawaharlal Nehru, the man we call mahatma was busy with something else. He was running from pillar to post and to pillar again, trying to pour some water of love and peace over the communal inferno that had engulfed the whole of Bengal. And then, he went on an obdurate,infinite fast- to bring to an uneasy compromise the heads of the two inexplicably antagonized communities waiting to slay each other at the drop of an eyelid.Irony indeed that he has,by many people , been described as selfish and cunning.Most of them would be ensconced in the comfort of their homes, hiding under their beds if and when a carnage of such magnitude were to occur.  
At a personal level, I was astounded at whatever I have read about him in others’ words and his own. I must confess that I couldn’t complete reading his autobiography- ‘The story of my experiments with truth’- it takes a whole lot of patience than what I have been able to muster, to do that. But whatever I had read it became increasingly difficult for me to fathom that such a man walked this Earth, true to what Einstein had remarked. I got to read more about him in that heck of a book-this time armed with more patience- about India’s excruciatingly painful journey to independence via that treacherous road called partition- ‘Freedom at midnight‘, brilliantly described by Larry Collins and Dominique La Pierre.
I cannot claim to follow any of his principles,just like most of us here. I believe it is too tough for mere mortals like me to have that kind of will power and steadfast belief  in those principles. I have though, been involved in arguments on him and his leadership, trying to defend his role against all the vitriol. At the end of it all, I once again, wonder at the irony that we even have to ‘defend’ what he did.I might risk using the word too much, but not least of all ironies was not only the bloodily violent manner in which he was assassinated, but also the venue-at a prayer meeting!
Far from the outset, I would like to underscore one point - don’t abuse him if you can’t agree with him or respect him. Because ,forget about being critical, most of us don’t even qualify to praise him.