Sunday, January 25, 2015

A place for my head*

Commiseration. Compassion. Empathy. Consolation. There are so many words to describe but rarely an easy way to convey. You feel for someone. Not all sufferings can be transferred or shared. Some are to be only watched as the ones you care for suffer. Still do we Indians by definition of our social norms restrict ourselves from expressing our understanding of pain and anguish. In many societies hugging is a norm. In Indian cultures even thanking sometimes feels false. It all has to be gruff and any emotions to be snuffed. The word needy has a bad connotation.

Expressiveness may increase mental health, be cathartic and in general improve relations as well. I am no researcher and cannot cite any research articles for these. But I am sure I can be backed up on this.

Or does the joint family system of yore, which provided succor to the aged, ill and the weak a better option than independent, nuclear units which are in vogue?

Sometimes we need a resting place to recover. It's mostly mental than physical. Sometimes we wish to provide one for our near and dear. But it is struck in the mind and can't get out. 

* - The title is from a Linkin Park song. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Calico Joe

Got to read the book, "Calico Joe" by John Grisham recently. If one survives through the initial heavy baseball stuff (for a non-baseball person, that is) the book is good. It talks about the father - son relationship while taking us through the son's efforts for redemption. To know what father did for the son to try redeeming it, I leave it to the book.

A self-centered father who thinks nothing of beating up his family is shown through the son's eyes. John Grisham, in my opinion, has really taken to heavier and better topics from the days of "The Client". For all his legal expertise, his better works are "A Painted House", "Playing for Pizza" and the like. Yeah, and add this one. The one complaint is it could've been longer than it is.

Maybe he had to rush things for "The Racketeer". I am waiting for it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Don is back....

I typed, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" to ensure that keyboard was not the reason that I haven't blogged for this long.

I kept switching channels on the tv thinking about my floundering virtual pets, my blogs. Slowly it dawned on me that it is the TV that is the problem. Early this year, I got myself a HD TV (LED to boot) and got addicted to it. Recording at least one hour of TV programmes per day, ensuring I finish watching the daily quota either late in the night or early in the morning - It was addiction on steroids. And still no signs of de-addiction, with new books lying unread.

This post title too is a result of getting affected (infected?) by overkill promos of Shah Rukh Khan's next movie.

Imagine my surprise last month, when I went to an acquaintance's home to see they were living without a TV!! Never knew such people existed. People!! Get a TV, I say.

Only good thing is that my shopping this year has not been restricted to TV. Got myself a 6 foot bespoke bookshelf made of real wood, no less. For all the unread books. And I am slowly becoming a pseudo hifi audiophile too (By pseudo I mean picking audiophile friends' brains and a getting good AVR & accessories while distinctly lacking appreciation).Nice show off, though.

Here is to wishing for next year (and the remainder of this year) seeing this blog being continuously updated and commented upon too.

Enough for now, gotta catch up on today's rerun recordings of "Home Improvement" & "The Big Bang Theory".

Hi! Hang in there!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September the 13th

Today is the day I began my formal career 18 years ago. A change of life, a breath of fresh air of a career I plunged into then.

Looking back I am grateful for the amazing experiences I had, the friends I have made and sustained through the years.

Some people come prepared for their career. For me it was serendipity.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

But the hand of God has ensured that the path I was taken was the path worth taking. Not for a moment I regret my choices, however less splendid some of them turned out to be.

The innocence may have gone, but the thrill remains. Jest for the Quest is still left.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ringing in the New Year!!

Usually my New Year's eve days have been pretty staid ones. For example, I spent the turn of this century watching some dumb movie on TV. And for the last 2 years, all I did was just hang out with my cousin.

But for a change I decided that I'd spend this New Year by the Marine Drive at Mumbai. And how I did!!

It was a crowded place when I went there alongwith my friend. Still it was a disciplined crowd of revellers watched over by a crowd of policemen. I had a late dinner at Leopold, where a raucous crowd enjoyed the ambience. Nobody seemed to notice the bullet holes on the walls caused on 26/11. How quickly time flies. After getting mildly irritated noticing that Indians and foreigners were let in through separate entrances, I finished my dinner and left.

The New Year's day was a bit unplanned with me just catching up with some old friends, having a heavy lunch and then a siesta. But evening, I alongwith my friend, went to see Anish Kapoor's installations in the Mehboob Studios at Bandra. And what a treat it was!

I have seen (and contemplated) his Bean (officially called "Cloud Gate") in Chicago. The monstrous reflective bean shaped art installation by the Lakeside drew enormous crowd always. I have lots of photos taken of that and so was eager in visiting the first-time-in-India installations of Anish Kapoor. And I was not disappointed.

So many installations and the main theme was reflection conveyed through different objects conceptualised using bright and shiny stainless steel. Anish Kapoor brought performing arts a new dimension by his installation of a cannon from where red wax was fired at periodic intervals.

The exhibition was held simultaneously in New Delhi (NCPA) and Mumbai.

But understanding the installations (or rather interpreting your way) proved to be more easier than understanding the write-up that came in a booklet meant to help the visitors understand the art. It was highly abstruse text meant to be more high brow and snobbish than bridging the artist and the audience.

Anyway it was a great beginning. Here is to hoping the high note is the harbinger of higher notes to come.

Happy New Year of 2011!!!

Monday, December 06, 2010

My Landmark woes

The past weekend I was in Mumbai.
Saturday, I went to the Landmark bookstore at High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel, supposedly the biggest bookstore of them all. I had been there before but this time it was not a happy experience.

It was chaos all over. The music was not organized properly. Major rock bands were missing. After having a huge wall poster on Green Day the least you'd expect is to have their latest album prominently. It was completely missing.

I remember the days in Apex Plaza Landmark in Chennai where the staff used to be knowledgeable about the books and also were able to retrieve one you ask for immediately. Here it is a chaotic mess with books strewn around. The staff were not knowledgeable at all, relying on the database search.

In the DVD section, after noticing Season 7 of "Two and a Half Men" on the shelf, I wanted the earlier seasons. The counter staff immediately checked the database which showed that none of the "Two and a Half Men" DVDs were in stock. That, when I was holding the Season 7 in my hand!! Outdated database, messily stacked books, poorly organized music...Nothing good to write home about in High Street Phoenix LandMark.

The next day, Sunday, I went to the Landmark at Infinity Mall, Andheri. Yeah, I am a diehard Landmark fan. It was slightly better, though I have seen better days of it. The books were piled up, overflowing the shelves. The aisles had become narrow to accommodate other items like jewellery counter, handbags shelves etc. Still it looked better than its bigger cousin down at Lower Parel.

I feel that the Chennai (Apex Road, Citi Center & Spencer Plaza) and Bangalore (Forum Mall) stores still rock.

But certainly the current majority shareholder the Trent Group is diluting the Landmark brand. I guess they want to cater to the entire family, relatives of bookaholics who tag along and wish to have something they like to shop. I wish the founder Hemu Ramaiah had stuck to the original concept of a book and cards store staffed by people who knew and loved what they helped sell.

I have a feeling that I would be better off shopping at landmarkonthenet. So far I have bought two books online. The books came on time and I got good discounts too!

P.S: With all this effort last weekend I bought just one book, "It shouldn't happen to a vet" by James Herriot. An old book and if I my memory serves right, I had read the condesed version in Readers Digest. Anyway, it has joined my growing list of "Waiting to be read" section.

P.S 2: Logos are the rightful property of Landmark owners. Copyright acknowleged.

December 8, 2010

P.S.3. It has to happen. Yesterday I purchased a book online at The amount got debited but the transaction got marked as invalid in the Landmark site. I could see no way to email them. Called the helpdesk and got an unhelpful reply that mistake is at Bank's end. I am at my wit's end.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Say Cheese

The 'Dent'ist! Till recently I had never fully realized the full import of the profession; the terror that they can instil in you.

Misfortune struck me and all of a sudden last month, I had a tingling sensation in my teeth. I should've let them tingle. As they are my teeth after all, I decided to interfere instead. Big mistake!

First I did an extensive inquiry as to the best doctor in town. I wanted an older dentist as the newer, younger ones would normally not have recouped their investment on education & the infrastructure and hence would look at me as a milkman would look at his cow.

Thanks to my friends who did enough due diligence, I finally found a dentist who was old, avuncular and fit the bill. But one thing I forgot was that old habits die hard. In fact they seldom die. Shortly you'd know why.

I visited the dentist. The moment he came to know that I can speak in English, quack in Hindi and the local vernacular is all Greek and Latin, I could see a glow in his eyes, or at least now I imagine that there had been one. I couldn't recognize the high-fives exchanged silently through eyes between him and his assistants.

After a couple of X-rays of my teeth, the dentist's assistant, bless her soul, identified that root canal treatment was needed for only one of my teeth. The doctor came in for review and almost determined that only one tooth was healthy.

He prescribed three root canal treatments and two extractions besides scaling and other peripheral treatments. His another assistant pulled me aside and started going over through the long list of treatments and appending costs to that. She finally mentioned a huge amount and termed that, I swear, as the total "project" cost. I was truly done in.

For example, the dentist prescribed removal of right molar saying that it is leaning on its neighbours like some do in a crowded bus. Then he mandated that left molar should be removed saying that it is too far from its neighbour and for being the cause of a cavity. He mentioned that my upper molar too has to be removed sometime down the line (meaning he doesn't need all the money now) as it has the potential of hitting the lower molar. Wait! There isn't one lower molar now, er, the lower gums it has to be.

I was a greatly disturbed by a vision. On my marriage day, I sit for the infinite and one number of photographs alongwith my wife. The photographer intones, "Say Cheese" and every one of the infinite and one times, I reveal a perfect set of gums; just gums. Soft, pink, a set of nice upper and lower gums with no pearly white intruding line in-between.

I was impressed by the dentist's "take no hostages" attitude. Anything standing has to be yanked out, was his mantra. Any person was seen as with the potential of generating 32x income for him.

I was very polite to the dentist. After all he is the person who drilled, cauterized, hammered (Oh, yeah) and scraped my teeth. No sense being rude. In the course of the treatment, I could see many of the hardware store implements used in my mouth for the scaling, root canal and the ultimate, the tooth extraction. Tooth extraction itself, I can blog a separate post on.

Over a period of 3 weeks and twice as many sessions, it dawned on me why the world quivers at the word, "dentist appointment". But I also came to realize how lucrative the profession is. In fact the idea of marrying a dentist's daughter is now very appealing to me. But I'd never marry a dentist. It would be a bit dumb; she would have all the implements of torture and I'd have what was left of my teeth. Certainly not a very good idea.

However before accepting any such proposal, I'd ask my dentist father-in-law to-be, that I have to speak to his daughter in private. Once granted the audience, I would get up close and tight, and while gazing deeply into her would fondly murmur, "Say Cheese". Just in case.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Shaken and Stirred!

Amidst the daily humdrum and dodging of one problem after another, sometimes life throws up pleasant surprises as well.

Last week I took a cab from my office for my visit to the dentist. When I got down the meter showed something close to 330 rupees. I remarked that usually the charge is less than 300 rupees, or at least something to that effect through whatever Hindi I was able to rustle up.

The cab driver politely asked me to give him only 300 rupees!! I was truly shaken by this.

After handing over 300 rupees I asked him whether he could take me back as well, after my dentist appointment. Usually cabbies jump at direct offers because they don't have to shell out a portion of the fare to the cab company. The money is entirely theirs and so they are eager to take direct requests.

So here I go, "Can you give me a drop back to my home as well?".

"When would you require a cab for the return trip?", asks he.

"In another 2 hours".

He floors me saying, "Please can you call the cab company and book a request for the return trip at two hours from now?".

God is in heaven and all is well with the world!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The under-confusion wannabe economist

Read in the Washington Post that The Treasury auctioned inflation-protected bonds at a negative 0.55 percent Monday, the first time the government has sold bonds at a negative yield.

Here ->

I am no economist so this doesn't make sense to me.

Does this really mean that people buy bonds which will promise something less than the face amount? Is it like taking a loan of 100,000 guaranteeing that repayment would be something less than that?

Hope Tim Hartford or Steven Levitt can explain to lay people like me. Or can you, please?

Oct 27, 2010 - An Update

On a whim, I had mailed Steven Levitt. And got a prompt reply:

"These bonds are inflation adjusted. So if inflation is 10% and you have a $100 bond, then you get back $109.45. still better than having pure cash. If,on the other hand, inflation is zero, then you wish you had cash."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Service for free!

A few months ago my hotmail account was hacked. I found so many spam in my sent box (apart from the spam, I send). I was embarrased at the content being sent using my name but couldn't think of a way out. Then a month ago, I couldn't log-in to my mail. It looked like the spammer had changed the password. I resigned myself to losing that account.

Then on a lazy day, I went through the whole gamut of links strewn on the msn page. I found out that even if you have lost your password without any back-up mail ID & questions that only you would know the answer of, still you can get your account back.

I filled up a questionnaire on my account, the answers being proof of my ownership. A temporary link was given (like a blog) where interactive help was available, though not real time. My answers got verified by somebody in techsupport and they allowed me access to my hot mail account again after a couple of days.

I couldn't believe MS has techsupport to that extent, for Hotmail. After all, it's a free email service. Hotmail was my first email account. Those days, it came with a 2 MB free storage and you have to pay for anything extra. Before the days of Gmail! I am happy to get back my first mail ID.

Ofcourse, it's not all altruism on Microsoft's part. Still Big brother does some good things too!