Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I am the Highway

I was just listening to this song last night by Audioslave called 'I am the Highway'. The song gives you a brilliant sense of power when you listen to it. Thought I'd just put the lyrics up...no particular reason. Draw your conclusions...

I am the Highway - Audioslave

Pearls and swine bereft of me
Long and weary my road has been
I was lost in the cities
Alone in the hills
No sorrow or pity for leaving I feel

I am not your rolling wheels
I am the Highway
I am not your carpet ride
I am the sky

Friends and liars don't wait for me
'Cause I'll get on all by myself
I put millions of miles
Under my heels
And still too close to you
I feel

I am not your rolling wheels
I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride
I am the sky
I am not your blowing wind
I am the lightning
I am not your autumn moon
I am the night, the night..

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Have your cake OR eat it

One of my very close friends leaves town tomorrow because of career considerations. Leaves me to wonder why there's always this inherent choice in life between what you want to do and what you should do. A choice between where the money is and what is interesting and fun everyday, a choice between where you'd be glad to be and where you should be, you know...the likes.
All the best Arunav Sikder!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Beauty and the Geek

I'm just watching this brilliant show on TV called 'Beauty and the Geek' where they put together seven, not-so bright (avoidance of the usage of the more apt albeit offensive, 'dumb', to be noted) beautiful women, and seven very academically bright guys, they choose to term as 'Geeks' and they give them challenges to perform in order to have some sort of skill transfer.
The funny thing to notice is that, every season, there's always a Chinese guy and an Indian guy amongst the geeks. When these guys come on TV to make any statement, there is a description of what they do for a living, or why they deserved to be called a geek, as a scroll under their name. This season, the guy of Indian origin in the house is 21 year old fellow called Sanjay. When Sanjay comes on TV, there's a scroll under his name that says, "Virgin"!!!
I'm guessing the West has quite a different world view huh?


The feeling of revenge probably arises out of a deep distrust in the ability of the order of nature to bring about justice, gained either through repeated experience, or otherwise.

Where from or why this thought crossed my mind, is not a question that will warrant a satisfactory answer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chicken Run

One of the disadvantages of being in a "Third World" country is that you have to deal with a lot of disordered bureaucracy to get anything done. The trouble is, as a kid, you had someone around to do all the running for you, i.e your parents; but once you grow up, you gotta do a lot of the running around yourself and the first time experience of a few things makes you wish you never grew up.
This morning I went to the Passport Office (the purpose is quite obvious). I was getting the passport issued under the urgent scheme and so had a lot of papers and documents to submit so I could obtain my new passport quickly. Having been warned of the huge crowd that descends everyday at the PO, I reached around 8 when the office was to open at 9.30, to no avail. The moment I arrived, I saw this long, serpentine queue that had formed from the Token Counter. Here's the deal with lines in India, especially in Delhi; there are always N times the number of stipulated lines at any place. N is not always an integral number, but is always greater than or equal to 2. To add to all the misery, it had been raining for more than a few hours and this place had no shelter to house the drenched crowd. So there's everyone, standing with some of the most important documents in their hands and getting soaked from head to toe in the rain. Whats even better about Indian lines is the generous sprinkling of Smart Alec's in the crowd who always want to show off their smartness by jumping the queue. And the excuses they make for doing so are also amazing. Surprisingly, this phenomenon doesn't really stop within Indian territory. Just a couple of years back I had seen very similar behaviour from a group of countrymen(and women and children) at a theme park in Malaysia, much to my embarrassment. And I really don't know why, and I don't mean this as an insult to the category of people I will soon mention, most of these Smart Alec's are obese, and therefore even physically getting them out of your way is, at best, an improbability (if not an impossibility).
Anyway, so this phenomenon of doubling, tripling, or even two-and-a-half-ing of lines delayed everyone, but somehow, I got a token and moved on, thinking that the process would be easier henceforth. Big mistake.
So when I entered, everyone had token numbers, and yet again, the great Smart Alec syndrome began. Already misinformed, I realised only a while later that no one was actually following their token numbers. Everyone just piled on the counters, yet again, not in a single queue, but in multiple queues. The rooms were small, the crowd disoriented and misinformed, and each counter graciously displayed a sign that says "No Enquiry" in order to assist the removal of misinformation (Those weak at the art, take note of the rather obvious sarcastic undertone). And since there is no order, there can be, no right or wrong. Everyone is wrong, and just as well, everyone is right in being out of their place. And this is perfect recipe for disaster. Every now and then, an argument broke out, for the opportunist's ego is fragile. He simply cannot stand the loss of an opportunity to another opportunist. There is another uniquely Indian (Actually North Indian) word that I particularly detest: "Jugaad ". This word appears in dealings many a time in North India. In theory, it means 'to work out or figure out'. In practice, however, this basically means 'I'm too smart for the rules or for all the other idiots going through the procedure lawfully'. This is precisely what was happening here. People with token numbers in excess of 200, coming to the counter when the number displayed is actually 30; people with incomplete forms somehow trying to force the verification officer to accept their forms. There was very little the severely overworked staff could do to handle the grossly unmanned office. And this is where, quite unexpectedly, the high point of the day came in.
A lady who was in the line got fed up of the state of affairs and took a stand. A teacher by profession (as I later found out in my conversation with her), she took control of things and started calling out token numbers and got people into arranged queues. She had no reason to do it, but she did it. A single, middle-aged lady, kept a crowd of more than 200 people at bay and managed to arrange the whole room into four (The ordained number and not twice the number stipulated)queues. She had to be sharp tongued, she had to scream at a lot of people, but she spoke and people listened, young and old, ladies and gentlemen. There was of course that odd, meek protest by a man who was hurt by the fact that she addressed as 'Uncle' when he thought he was clearly her brother's age. It was remarkable how she got everything in running order in a matter of minutes. For those who think she did it for vested reasons, she stood there for over four hours, regulating lines and also fending off the odd smart-ass who tried to sneak through (for unfortunately, there is no dearth of this species), and was one of the last people to submit their applications when her turn was due much earlier. One Lady.

Conclusions drawn from the day:

1)Rainy days make bad playmates vis a vis the passport office.
2)Thankfully, one needs to endure this pain only once in 10 years.
3)Someone get the Passport Office a few more people!

Last but not the least, it takes One person to take a firm stand to change things. This space goes out to her.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I've been in the middle of a Pearl Jam obsession for the longest time now. I think some of their songs have probably given me some of the deepest lyrics possible. And the best bit is that all the thoughts come, not in flowery verses, but a very conversational style. Its as if Vedder's penning his life down. Of course, I'm not of the opinion that this is a singular phenomenon. It just happens to be one of the best I have encountered.
So, I was watching this episode of 'Storytellers' with Pearl Jam the other day and something that was shared before 'Alive' (One of my favourite songs) struck me and brought about the importance of the other perspective. So this is the story of 'Alive' as shared by Eddie Vedder himself.
The song begins with,
"Son, she said, have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy was nothin but a...
While you were sittin home alone at age thirteen
Your real daddy was dyin, sorry you didnt see him, but I'm glad we talked..."

This is in fact, as was mentioned, the story of Eddie Vedder. He came to know that his 'father' wasn't really his dad. When he sings "I'm still Alive" later in the song, he means it as a curse. As a question to the reason for his existence. While his father's gone, he's still alive and what can he do about it?

Come to think of it, how many times when we've sung the chorus of this song, we've sung it as a celebration of being alive. We've forgotten the rest of the lyrics and put all our life's force into crying out loud, "I'm still Alive!" and meaning it with every syllable that defines that phrase. Its a funny matter that when the songwriter wrote it, he wrote those words for entirely different, if not diametrically opposite, a purpose altogether.
Comes down to perspective doesn't it? Interpreting any piece of information, come to think of it, is subject to how the perceiver perceives it. On a larger scale, in fact, perspective is what changes the world, for most of whats wrong or right with the world is a matter of perspective.
Religion, in fact, has probably the biggest pieces of poetry there are to be interpreted. And to some level thats probably what causes the problem. A billion possible interpretations and no yardstick to define which one is right or wrong, since the problem at hand is open-ended anyway. What causes the trouble of course, is not the 'right' or 'wrong' interpretation of this piece of poetry (for there is none) but the mutual incompatibility of perspectives.
Otherwise as Vedder said, "When people started singing the chorus as a celebration, the curse was lifted!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


It's called the Cyborg Name Decoder. Someone emailed me the link. It's quite hilarious. I'm pretty sure it took some effort to 'decode' my name.

Synthetic Intelligent Device Designed for Hazardous Assassination, Repair and Thorough Harm

Get Your Cyborg Name

Thats so NOT me!
As a bonus to all like me, i.e. with plenty of time to kill and no way to do it, there's also the 'Sexy Name Decoder' and 'Monster Name Decoder'. What's in a name, they say. Lots, I say.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On The Virtue of Hard Work

Events unfolding in the last couple of weeks have sort of reaffirmed my belief in my disbelief of the virtue of consistent hard work (Commonly referred to as 'Fighting' and correspondingly, the individuals who practice this fast dying art as 'Fighters' in IIT). It is, of course, a separate issue that practically every situation in IITD thats unpleasant is referred to by some variant (English or otherwise) of the word 'Fight'. As lame as it might sound, the lingo is contagious beyond belief. Not very long ago, we had in fact a whole bunch of people over for the IITD Parliamentary Debate and needless to say, within three days, the word fight caught on and could be heard from every nook and corner one could find(mild exaggeration).
Anyway, coming back to the main story, if there's one thing this place has taught me over the last eight odd months, is to include the phrase "हो जायेगा!"(It'll get done) in my vocab. Most of the time we don't have the wildest clue how we're going to get things done, but then "It shall get done". And somewhere this sort of induces this amazing trait of procrastination into everyone who ever comes in contact with this emotion. Not that I wasn't lazy enough already, but the lazier the better I guess. So over the last one week I've been pondering, whats the use in scurrying around to get everything done and worrying about it endlessly when "हो जायेगा!" is pretty much there to rescue you everytime. In the words of a wise man whose son we'd appropriately named "Ice Man", who once told me "You may win the rat race, you'll still end up a rat". Quite reminiscent of what Lazlo Bane sing in their song 'Superman', "You crossed the finish line, won the race but lost your mind. Was it worth it after all?". The song's pretty much my anthem in life. For the last eight months, I've seen my classmates (One in particular) slog and drive themselves mad working only to be so stressed at crunch time that they had nothing left in them to perform. And in doing so, I've joyously celebrated the laziness in life. Atleast at the end of the day, I had fun on the way down. If I've gone up, thats an added bonus. Because ultimately things wind around to such a head that you do fear God and get off your rump to work. On D day, noone really cares much about when you put in the work or whether you were the wiley monkey or the burdened donkey. I worship the wiley monkey.
What am I doing now? My semester's over. There's still a lot of work to do. But...
"हो जायेगा!"