Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Things We Discover

As we progress from being a baby to being a kid to being an adult, there is a lot we discover about ourselves and about the surroundings we find ourselves in. This discovery phase is at its absolute peak when we are absolute babies. In this stage, the only thing we know for sure is that we can cry. Everything after that is a discovery.

We discover that crying can get us a lot of things like attention, food, mummy, clean diapers and such. In fact that's the stage where we also run the maximum risk of shutting our minds to the innumerable other discoveries waiting to be made because we get the world on a platter just by crying. Some babies do succumb to this risk and turn out to be big babies but thankfully, a majority of parents help in disabusing us of this notion.

We grow and start becoming kids. And with it, our innate sense of adventure and discovery kicks in again. It starts with realizing that those two, big, funnily shaped fleshy appendages below our tummy are useful for standing on. And surprise, surprise! we can also move about by working those appendages. This realization actually comes in a pack of two, sometimes with an added bonus. The second one being that the floor is hard and it hurts an awful lot and the bonus addition is the realization that those hard, pearly white thingies in our mouth are not un-breakable.

Once these basic, important discoveries are out of the way, we are once again lulled into a sense of complacency and bliss until the next discovery. This is one which forces itself on us. School! In my opinion, that discovery is better left alone to be discovered when we are sufficiently prepared for it. Like when we are 18 and legally adults. But for some reason, it is thrust under our noses a decade and half earlier. School does allow us to make some pleasant discoveries like friends, sleeping hours and favorite teachers but these are almost completely overshadowed by not-so-pleasant ones like studies, exams and competition which take up a major part of the discovery bandwidth available during our years in school. Slowly but surely we see the scales tilting irrevocably in favor of growing up and that too, just to 'keep up with the Joneses'. If your brain had been wired a little wrong, then you would probably have wanted to 'outdo the Joneses' in which case the scales would've tilted a lot faster.

Whether it is fast or slow or medium pace, there is one, and absolutely only one, advantage to growing up. Having had no say in the growing up process so far, we suddenly discover that now, after having grown up, we have a choice; an option to decide whether we want to grow further or not. I wonder why we don't discover this option first. If not for anything else, it might at least save us the trouble of facing all those teething problems we invariably seem to face when we first start growing. But like someone said sometime, 'Better late than never'.

This most important of discoveries is what I made a little while back. I took my pick, and as expected, I chose not to grow up. It's a pain.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Bandh and A Long Weekend

A 'Bandh', on the face of it, is a form of public protest. The term is taken from Hindi, where it literally means 'Closed'. So basically when someone declares a ‘Bandh’, it is their way of saying that everything will remain closed. No businesses, no public transport, no schools - almost everything that comes close to being associated with the term 'Public Amenity' will be stopped from functioning and the general public is expected to stay home. It's form of civil disobedience and, hypothetically speaking, a ‘Bandh’ is declared by people/a group of people that has reached the end of its tether and turns to civil disobedience as the last course of action to get their voices heard. So you would expect shop keepers or store owners or labor unions or groups like that to declare a 'Bandh' so as to make their grievances heard by people who are supposed to lend an ear to them.

I hope I have succeeded in giving those unfamiliar with the term, a rudimentarily correct definition and explanation of what a 'Bandh' is. Now for a dose of reality (Oh no. This might get really long!!).

A 'Bandh', in actuality, is a tool used by political parties, usually the ones not in power currently, as a stick to beat the ruling party with. (Here let me make a disclaimer that I am talking about what I have observed happens in India. I am making this distinction because the person reading this might happen to be, by mistake, from another country where the political establishment is not structured the way it is here and therefore might not understand when I talk about ruling party and opposition parties and such. With that out of the way, let's get back to what I was saying before the disclaimer) So how is the 'Bandh' used as a stick? The political parties declaring the 'Bandh' will make sure that everything is closed, if required by using force, and thereby ensure that people stay indoors, whether they want to or not. This automatically has a huge impact on the community where the 'Bandh' has been declared. And any impact on community will automatically land on the laps of the government because it's their responsibility to make sure that people are not inconvenienced. Of course, these 'Bandh' declaring politicians and parties will give sound bites saying that they were forced to do so because they represent the common man and a whole lot of similar bovine excretion. It's of course a known secret that they really do this to maintain their place in the public mind-space and at the same time try to show the incumbents in the government in a bad light.

That huge explanation was what I believed to be reality, based on my observations as I grew up (Yes, I have actually grown up over the years. Just not to the extent people expected me to!). But suddenly, this year, I have seen the plot take a curious turn. Suddenly I am coming across the phrase 'Government declared Bandh'! Hmmm, so has the government decided that it has stayed aloof for too long and thinks it's about time it jumped on the 'Bandh' bandwagon? If it were a regular, run-of-the-mill 'Bandh', us common, affected folks would have sat back, armed with the proverbial pop-corn and soda, and watched the in-power and out-of-power politicians fight it out. If the government itself declares the 'Bandh', there is no entertainment to be had while you are getting inconvenienced. That being the case, I really don't understand the rationale behind this move. But now that the concept is out, it will probably become as mainstream as the regular one and then, over time, I will understand why a government would do this.

What I do understand right away is that today marks the beginning of what might eventually turn out to be an extra long weekend for me. Saturday and Sunday, being the two halves of the weekend, are anyways 'don't-go-to-office' days. Now the following Monday is most probably going to be 'work-from-home' day because of a ‘Bandh’ call given by the government. Then it’s the 2nd of October, the birthday of that man known to us Indians as the 'Father of the Nation' and 'The Mahatma' and because we need to celebrate his birthday, Tuesday happens to be a national holiday. So, potentially, that's four full days of staying put in the house. I say potentially because the Monday might still turn out to be the same old, dreary beginning of the work week if the courts and judiciary have their say about the validity of the 'Bandh'. But right now I have no complaints whatsoever about people letting me sit at home for long periods of time.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Final Destination

When I was doing nothing but sitting 5 feet above the road, breathing fake air and trying to read a book, all the while being displaced at the rate of 60Kmph, road travel was a pain. A pain in the head. All other conditions being the same, I tried not reading the book and realized that road travel was still a pain. This time, it was all over my body. A distance of over 450Kms stretching out in front of me, the prospect of me having a pain-free travel resembled a china bowl which had received a friendly tap from a sledge hammer. I had to just shut up and put up with it since 'Not Traveling' was not an option.

The book lay there unfinished, with a forlorn, neglected look on it and though I longed to pick it up, I didn't because of the constant reminders about the consequences being sent my way by the speeding bus. Resigned to my fate thus, I put the book out of my mind and got busy dividing my time between thinking my thoughts and waking up dozing limbs. And while I was doing one of those (I don't remember which one), I started thinking of death and where people go after they die.

Now it wasn't a surprise I was thinking on those quasi-religious/theological lines because I was, after all, returning from a funeral. The surprise was that, given how busy I was dealing with the pains of traveling, I was able to form coherent thoughts at all. To its credit, this was a line of thought which came closest to shutting down the pain receptors in my brain. Anyway, there I was thinking about where the dead end up once they finished their innings. First I thought they would go back to join their team-mates in the dressing room/bench/dugout to continue watching the match. That thought, unfortunately, lasted no longer than it took me to think it because then I realized that life was not a match between two teams for me to use the player analogy. It then stuck me that there are only two options that most mortals believe they have in this matter. Heaven and Hell.

I started wading into the muck in my brain to dig out what I already knew about these two places. About the first option, I saw that it was also recognized as Paradise and was supposed to have Pearly Gates (probably related to Bill but I couldn't ascertain this) at the entrance. But, as far as I knew, this particular picture differed from religion to religion. This meant that the exact identity of this place was successfully shrouded. Now I didn't have any such problem with the second option because in spite of having other names like Hades and being painted in different strokes by different religions, I knew that Hell was in Michigan, USA.

And that last piece of info answered my 'after death' question for me. Dead people must be going to Heaven. Why you ask? Well, Hell, in Michigan, USA, is just a little town and by nature of being a little town, couldn't possibly accommodate even a fraction of the people who die every day in this world. On the other hand we have Heaven about which we know next to nothing and which has managed to hide itself pretty well over the years. Add to this the fact that it's a straight 'Either-Or' choice between the two and it leaves Heaven as the comprehensive winner in this shootout to find the destination of choice for the dead to head to.

So that throws up another question: Where is this Heaven?

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I don't really know if I can sound serious about anything and successfully convey the seriousness to whoever my audience might be. This is because I feel I become too melodramatic and that distracts from the seriousness of what I want to say. Faced with this 'serious' inability, instead of trying to find out where I lack and work on it, I have gone down the route of cloaking whatever I want to say in slapstick, sarcasm, irony, self-deprecation, plain humor and an assorted combination of these. Though I don't have statistics to show the effectiveness of this approach, there hasn't been any perceivable downside because of this.

But there are times when the inadequacy of my slapstick approach is fully unmasked; Times when the subject doesn't lend itself to slapstick or any other kind of humor; Times when I am not too comfortable taking such an approach because it just doesn't feel right. Or whatever. This is one such.

He was a little over 75. I probably remember him from the time he was around 50. And I had only seen old black & white photos of him when he was much younger and handsomer. At that time, to my very young mind, those sepia toned photos were the only proof he had to show me that he hadn't always been 50 with a bald shiny head and wrinkled skin. The quarter century, starting from when he was around 50, had managed to turn his skin saggy, throw his hearing equipment out of whack and transformed his mouth into something that came to resemble a new-born's. But it could not stop him from being active.

Ace story teller, inveterate movie buff, born foodie (he had a mouth filled with sweet teeth!), Pat Boone fan. My Grand-dad. He passed away a couple of days back.


Concentration, as in 'the act of concentrating' opposed to 'being concentrated', can be loosely defined as paying close, undivided attention to a single thing. This definition can of course be tightened but this will do for now.

I don't have the knack for this concentration thing. I get interested in too many things too fast and as a result lose interest in lots of things equally as fast. And even while I am doing the few things which manage to hold my attention for long, I have never been known to do the 'pay close and undivided attention' act. Given my propensity, at a sub-conscious level, to avoid concentrating on the task on hand, it is a surprise that I managed to finish school with decent grades. It is a much bigger surprise that I manage to ride my bike, at least twice everyday, in this chaotic traffic, cover a minimum of 35 Kms and still manage to stay alive. Of course I have had a hand-full of spills and falls, but considering my ten year long riding habit and the fact that I have never had anything more serious than cuts and scratches to treat, I would still say it's a surprise.

I usually remember everything that had happened on the road at the end of my rides. How I overtook that big truck, how I managed to beat that particularly long signal, how I almost put my front wheel into the boot of the parked car but didn't - all these and more, come back in vivid detail when I am parking my bike after the ride and making my way to wherever it is that I have to go. But sometimes an empty piece of paper seems more populated than my brain and however hard I try, I won't remember details about what had happened. The fact that I am parking the bike at my intended destination tells me that I did follow the correct route to get there. But the total lack of detail about that journey is slightly perplexing unless there is some version of auto-pilot hard at work, ensuring that I reach point B from point A irrespective of whether I am thinking about my riding or about any number of other things that are not even closely related to riding.

Since there needs to be an explanation for everything that happens (and also because this happens to be a convenient explanation), I officially declare that I have an autopilot installed and it works!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Japanese in English

Yet another post from me which can be traced back to a discussion on the net. I am not sure why I am doing this but it might be indicative of some deep rooted mental deficiency in me called "Originalitum Absenta". All the symptoms seem to be right: getting stuck in same line of thought being the one and only symptom for this disorder. As far as I know, there is no known cure for this and that is the bad part. The good part is that it is not life threatening. Guess all that is left for me to do is to consult some doctor who is world famous in the place I live and get it confirmed. Of course, it might also turn out to be nothing more than the common malady called laziness that I think strikes all of us at one time or the other.

With all that background, I very nearly forgot what I wanted to put on the foreground! But luckily, I had made a brief note of it and so here it is. I came across this discussion the other day where someone, probably Japanese, gave a list of equivalent 'sounds' for each letter in the English alphabet and said, "Know your name in Japanese." Now I don't know the first thing about Japanese except how to spell it in English. So I tried it out and came up with a funny sounding name starting with 'RuKi'. But as I was doing it, I was thinking, "Imagine someone writing their full post like this. heheheh!!" That's when I realised I had an idea on my hands. Lightening stuck, my puny brain got fried and I fell down unconscious with my head wrapped in smoke. Thankfully, I came out of it soon enough and for once, I remembered why it had all happened and what I had wanted to do. And here I am, with this post.

This is the translation list: (This is, as revealed by the person who came up with this idea, NOT real Japanese. This is just for fun and nothing else)

A= ka; B= zu; C= mi; D= te; E= ku; F= lu; G= ji; H= ri; I= ki; J= zu; K= me; L= ta; M= rin; N= to; O= mo; P= no; Q= ke; R= shi; S= ari; T= chi; U= do; V= ru; W= mei; X= na; Y= fu; Z= zi

I am not going to write a full post in this 'Japanese' because it is extremely tiresome even to write it, so I can imagine how painful it will be to convert it back and read. But I will say this much:
"Riki. Ki karin Rukiariritodo katote rimonoku fumodo kashiku kutozumofukitoji chiriku Kashizukichishikashifu Arikushirukitoji lushimorin Tomomotetaku Rimodoariku"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I am rated 'E-Z'

Following my admission that I am a discussion-forum stalker (you can read about it here), I am now going to use an idea I got from one such discussion I had stalked. The discussion was about the appropriateness of using foul language in day-to-day communication, be it verbal, written, printed, typed or posted. Or putting it simply 'To cuss, or not to cuss: That was the question' (I love my limited knowledge of Shakespeare!). Different people put forward their opinions and points of view about publicly doing it as compared to doing it behind closed walls, where they thought it was ok and where it was not and how those words and terms are to be taken within the bigger context of what was being said and so on and so forth. As discussions go, this was a fairly normal, ordinary, bland one that it hardly registered in the higher reaches of my brain. So you can be very sure I am not going to go ahead and write something about the topic of that discussion.

What I am going to write about is, however, based on a point raised by one of the many people who had participated in said discussion. Given the fact that some blogs contain bad language and that, by nature of being blogs on the internet, they are easily accessible to an audience for whom that kind of language might be inappropriate, the person suggested that we should all carry a rating on our blogs which would easily make the appropriateness of the blog apparent to potential readers. Amongst that whole crowd of opinions and views, this one stuck out like the clatter of a diesel engine in a group of buzzing electric motors. And I thought I should take that idea up and implement it. So here I am, attempting just that.

The obvious starting point is to come up with a rating system. If there are two things I am known for, they are laziness, a distinct lack of originality and the complete inability to come straight to the point. Since I have this kind of rep to protect, I shall not waste time, effort and what little mental faculties I have to come up with a rating system of my own. Instead I will just adapt the 'G', 'PG', 'PG-13', 'R' and 'NC-17'/'X' rating used by the motion picture industry.

Let us look at what this established rating system stands for:
  • 'G' - General audience of all ages. So toddlers, granddad/mom types and everyone in between are allowed.
  • 'PG' - Parental Guidance required. Probably because un-guided people might not be able to find their way in. Again toddlers, granddad/mom types and everyone in between are allowed so long as they have their parents to guide them in.
  • 'PG-13' - Parental Guidance required for anyone under 13 or acting that age. It's assumed that all the others can find their own way.
  • 'R' - I was thinking this stands for Risqué until I was disabused of this notion and told that it stands for Restricted. This is actually a short form for PG-17 because it mandates Parental Guidance for anyone under 17 or acting that age. Like before, all the others can find their own way.
  • 'NC-17'/'X' - This says "Don't approach if under 17. Stay away and indulge in something that's cool, hip and happening. This is for those oldies, who are unable to get with the times".
Now all I have to do now is to pick one of those and stick it to this blog and I am done. Easier said than done. As I was going through that list of what the ratings meant, I realized that nowhere have they covered the niche category that my blog belongs to. The closest ratings, in my opinion, would be one of the three Parental Guidance ratings because said parents might be able to guide their kids in and out of my blog and minimize the damage to their still developing brains. But my experience has shown that even some parents tend to lose their own brains when they are here. So I can't really use the PG ratings. Guess I just have to come up with something on my own after all!!

After much original thought, I rate my blog 'E-Z' – Everybody Zzzzzzzz.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I am a Stalker

Shocked aren't you? No? That's disappointing. I was hoping this revelation might have enough shock value to suddenly elevate me out from the depths of obscurity and usher me into the adulatory life of ‘Celebrity’dom. So much for hopes and dreaming big! Well, there still are thoughts to think and posts to fill, so I will just drown my disappointment in a couple of thimbles of water and get on with it.

Yes, I am a stalker. A discussion-forum stalker. I am not sure when I turned into one but my best guess is that it happened right after I figured out that there were discussion forums littered all over the net. It must have been a long time since my transition happened, from a regular guy to stalker guy, because now when I think about it, it feels as if I have been this way forever!

I know why I stalk.

Broadly classified, there are discussion forums of two types that I have come across (It's very probable that this is all the variety available as far as forums are concerned!). One is where the people involved in the discussions come across as informed, well-read and polite people who can discuss/argue something from so many view points that my head hurts just reading and assimilating all of it. And these guys also show the presence of a healthy sense of humor. The other is where the people involved come across as retarded juveniles (I think I am seriously undermining the credibility of retarded juveniles by making this comparison).

Usually people think I am smart when they look at me, but when I start speaking, they think otherwise. Like the joke goes, I'm just proof of the fact that light travels faster than sound. Because of this unique gift of mine, I keep away from active participation in discussion forums falling under either of the above mentioned categories. In the first group, I will probably end up providing comic relief and in the second, I will probably have too many of my kind to deal with. To avoid either of these situations, I turned stalker.

I just keep tracking a particular discussion to see who says what and where it all leads to. There is a definite benefit to be had out of this. If I can make my presence known on the discussion board without contributing anything to the discussion, then people will know someone is just standing aside and watching what they are doing. And there is bound to be someone who will think, "This guy has been here but he hasn't said anything so far. Why is he not saying anything? May be he is not interested? But he is here isn't he? What is he doing here? May be I said something wrong and he is just laughing his head off?" After a few more exchanges in the discussion, "Damn! He still hasn't said anything. I am sure he is laughing at me. What did I say? Why is he laughing?" You see where I am going with this?! I don't say anything but still, what I think matters!!

The guy who said "Silence is Golden" was probably someone like me! :)

Mental Lacuna

The difference between an addiction and a habit, apart from the spelling, is the fact that an addiction has all sorts of bad imagery associated with it whereas a habit has managed to keep its nose clean and itself far from any negative connotations. One other difference could be the fact that a habit can become an addiction but the same is not possible in the opposite direction. Anyway, there's a reason why I am going on about habits and addictions.

Ever since I started Noodle House, I have more or less managed to write once a day. I have, more or less, managed to post a post before I hit the sack for the day. And I have, more or less, always written the posts using my laptop. The 'ever since I started' part is now over 2 months old and Noodle House is around 80 posts old. And of these, most of them have been shaped and worded while fighting sleep, seated at my desk in my house. But today, I am changing the setting. Breaking the mold, so to speak. As I continue to sit at the coffee shop, I have realized that, along with the tall glass of iced-tea, I have an extra serving of time on my plate. So I am using it to write here.

This brings me to my actual point about habits, addictions and their assorted forms and relatives. So I found some time, which mysteriously ended up in my hands, and here I am blogging. Is this an indication that I am addicted and have to do it at every opportunity and half-chance that I get? Or has it simply become a habit to automatically start thinking in terms of blog posts and then put it all down on paper so as not to lose the thought? Or is it indicative of a certain lacuna in my mental makeup that makes me turn to blogging when I am in a coffee shop having iced tea!?

I vote for lacuna.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Weird Day

During the course of the day, since I had nothing better to do, I glanced at the Bore'o'graf and wasn't surprised to see the needle threatening to break the stop at the far end of the scale. Given that it was a more than two decades old, analog model, I applied a 20% correction to it but that didn't do much to bring the reading down. Anyways, this is where the day briefly took a weird twist. After using the Bore'o'graf, I wanted to confirm my state of being by taking a quick peek at the Drowse'o'scope, for obvious reasons. I took out the Tired'o'scope instead, purely by mistake, and was about to keep it back when I happened to take a look at the dial. I was taken aback to see that here also the needle was straining to break free!! I was suddenly excited. These two readings were effectively saying that there I was, bored out of my head and dead tired doing it!!

What little brain I have was almost on the verge of vacating its present digs when it stuck me that this could happen under some extraordinary situations. To confirm that thought, I dug around and found my latest gadget. And the readings that I saw on the Noodle'o'gram put everything into proper context. You see, the Noodle'o'gram doesn't give just one reading like the others, it gives two. One is for supposed brain activity (a reading above zero confirms you have a brain!) and the other is for physical activity. And it comes with a set of tables to co-relate these two readings. The un-co-relatable readings that I got from this, finally managed to explain the other two seemingly anomalous readings.

I say so because the readings for brain activity were disproportionately very high when compared to those for physical activity. The physical activity I was involved in was to type a document for which the greatest amount of brain activity required was to make sure that I could hunt-and-peck at the keyboard to keep up my regular speed of around 15 words per hour, spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes included. This easily explained my boredom. And the above mentioned very high brain activity explained my tiredness. But the reading for the physical activity didn't warrant the corresponding reading for mental activity and that was the anomaly.

That's when I realized what was happening. Instead of just thinking about my document and hunting-and-pecking, I was also thinking about the wise one. Today was the wise one's birthday and I hadn't yet got a gift. I am a guy who thinks that gifts must be useful in the day-to-day life of the receiver. This makes it difficult for me to pick up gifts for people and more so, if it's for the wise one. And that thought had been doing the rounds in my brain as if it was practicing for the marathon in the Beijing Olympics. Given this level of brain activity, no wonder I was so tired! And since I was able to account for all the readings, the brief two second excitement came to an abrupt end and I slipped back into the boredom of the day.

I have had my fair share of experience with weird days and as those things go, today was a fairly representative specimen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Colored Memory

I know I am growing old. Not 'old' as in 'senile', but 'old' as in 'putting on years'. And I actually don't have a problem with it. I sometimes crib and rant about it but then that's because at that moment I might have seen a momentary advantage in being younger. But in the long run, I think growing old actually has more advantages. They say you grow wiser as you grow older. So there you go. Doesn't matter if you are really wise or not, you can claim wisdom if you have the sagging skin and a bald pate ringed with dirty hair that used to be silver. And you can demand respect because of your age. Try doing that when you are fifteen! These are just a sample of the advantages that aging automatically bestows upon us. So, to reiterate, I don't have a problem with growing old.

But then that is not what I have been thinking about. My thought is about quite something else. I was born in the previous century and as I have aged along with the flow of time, I have experienced a whole lot of things that, thinking back, I don't experience anymore. Things like listening to the sparrows chirp in the mornings, watching ducks in the makeshift, rainwater pond behind the house and chasing butterflies in the garden are mere distant memories. I am not sure of this but I think it is because of the change in the century and what they called the Y2K bug.

The whole spiel about aging and growing old fits into context here because when something happens to trigger one of these memories, the black and white, spinning spiral puts in its customary appearance to take me back to the past. And once I come back from that trip down Reminiscence Boulevard, I end up feeling old. I am writing all this because that's what happened today. I saw something on the way from office that triggered off the whole sequence of events. I kept turning around in my seat to keep it in my sight and was, at the same time, traveling back in time to figure out when I had last seen it, what I had learnt about it and the stories I had heard about it. And ridiculously enough, I wondered if I should look forward to the pot of gold at the end, since it looked like I was headed that way.

Today, I saw a full, semi-circular rainbow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Anachronism

I would definitely not get an award for keeping my desk clean. Leave alone an award; I wouldn't even be worth an honorable mention. Not for me the spic'n'span, clean and spotless-looking desk. As far as I am concerned, the only place for such a desk is in an IKEA store (or its equivalent) from where I would probably be tempted to buy one. Once it becomes a work desk, it has to reflect the work being done. And more importantly it has to reflect the character of the person using it. My desk might look like a junkyard miniaturized to fit a table top but what it actually is, is ordered chaos. Just like me. I think!!!

Coming back to that desk, I say ordered chaos because I know exactly how many layers of dust and papers to shift, to lay my hands on the bill from the petrol pump that I got last month and know exactly which angle to attack the junkyard from, to easily extricate that favorite tee-shirt. However, today when I was in the process of excavating the site to get to my pen, I made a surprising find. Next to the pen I was interested in, lay this object that brought back memories. Considering the fact that I am still only 27, I can not say that these are memories from childhood. But they were nevertheless memories of what now looks like an era bygone.

So what was it that I found which sent me down memory lane? Well, it was a fairly well used pencil. Not the new, plastic bodied, mechanical contraption. It was a good, old, well-chewed stub of hexagonal wood with a stick of lead sticking out from the center. Am not sure how it found its way onto my desk and into my pile of rubble but this sort of unexplained, intrusive presence in my junk is not wholly un-expected. Anyway, the sight of that stub, about the size of my little finger, took me back to the time when I used to carry them by the dozen just because I refused to use a pen. This was, by the way, when I was in college studying for my engineering degree. I had to use a pencil for all my drawing classes and I decided I was too lazy to keep shifting from one type of stylus to another. But for the threat that my answers would not be graded, I would have used the pencil in my exams as well. That memory led to another one, from a time period which actually corresponds to when I was a kid. It had me facing my mom with a silly grin on the face. Usually kids with silly grins look cute. Trouble was my mom didn't think that way on that day. I still suspect that my blackened-with-pencil-lead tongue and teeth had something to do with the way my mom reacted but that has not been confirmed till date. With these specifics from my past, came the memory of the advice I got somewhere along the way - 'If you are hungry, have lunch. Not the pencil.'

These days I don't find much use for a pen, leave alone a pencil. Now, I just go clikety-clak, clikety-clak on the keyboard, get a print out and I have my document ready. And in a scenario like this, the sight of the anachronistic pencil made me realize that I need to pick one up and start writing on paper before I reach the stage where writing starts to look like an alien art form.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My 7th Year

For some days now, I have been feeling sort of uneasy. The cause of the un-easiness has proved to be elusive and un-pin-downable though, what with everything I do contributing towards making me feel ill at ease. It's not like I am doing stuff I am not supposed to be doing or anything. But in spite of that, it's been quite some time since I have felt at ease.

This internal and personal un-ease has manifested itself in the form of rants and wannabe rants that I am trying to dress up and disguise as my posts of late. It's the same reason why I have been finding fault with regular, run-of-the-mill, inane stuff like the hours in a day and the days in a week. Given this trend, I will probably come up with a rant about the number of weeks and months as well. So the question for me to answer is, 'Why the unease? Why this feeling of discontent?' Now I am realizing that I might have, unknowingly, figured out why I have been feeling the way I have been feeling.

This day, 17th of September, might have something to do with it. (I am not sure if the same date from 6 years back can be called the same day but I will anyway.) This was the same day on which, exactly 6 years back, I stepped, for the first time, through the doors and onto the multi-hued carpet of the organization that had, for some unfathomable reason, deemed me good enough to work for them. My first job. That marked my transition from a student to a regular wage-earner and back then that sounded and felt great. I still remember planning for all the neat stuff I would be spending my salary on. But that was then. Fast forward exactly 6 years and today my take on this whole 'job' thing reflects an image of sober, and properly grounded, optimism rather than one of stratospheric euphoria.

But what does all this have to do with me feeling un-easy? Well, the answer to that is very simple. As the 17th of September drew closer, my subconscious did the required math and figured out that I was going to be starting my 7th working year. That is after completing 6 full years doing the same. 6 years after making the move away from what used to be a carefree student life. I still remember my first day in college, which was, as of today, more than 10 years back! Looking back now, all those years seem to have come and gone in a wink. And I am still thinking about them!! Am not sure if this is a sign that I should grow up and accept my place in reality, but I definitely know one thing. I am growing old, fast! And that is slightly not easy to accept.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We are slipping

The week, as we know it, has 7 days. And this 7 day week has been in use forever now. It was adopted long long ago, so long ago that no one really knows how long ago. I did a cursory search in my favorite repository of news, knowledge and trivia and saw, to my surprise, that the ancient Hindus, Babylonians and others were already using a 7 day week all the way back, in a time which closely followed the dawn of civilization. We all know that the information on the internet has to be taken with a pinch of salt, so I took that pinch and washed it down with water. Now, if that information happens to be accurate, it just proves a very important point to me. We, as humans, haven't really progressed much in all this time and we haven't learnt anything from the mistakes of the past. After all these eons, we are still stuck with a 7 day week.

That realization was gloomy and depressing enough to make me want to visit that person usually called a shrink (or whatever it is that we call such people). But there is a small ray of hope fighting hard to dispel the pall of gloom. Even as we continue using the old, beginning-of-time format for the week, we did provide for some temporary respite in the form of weekends. And we did decide that weekends shouldn't be work days. This just goes to show that all is not lost for humanity and that there are at least a few who live up to their billing as the most advanced and evolved animal on earth. We have the 2 day weekends for us to wake up and realize that we work to live and not the other way around.

Like I have already noted, this is but a temporary reprieve. Of course, we have reached the stage where we recognize the need for breaking the monotony of working everyday and have the weekends for re-charging our-selves. But slowly this is changing and changing for the worse. Having put a step forward in the right direction we have become complacent and are slowly slipping back to where we started from. Otherwise how can we explain the fact that instead of planning for and implementing a 4 day week with 2 working days and a 2-day non-working weekend, we still have 5 days as officially recognized work days and 2 days, our supposed no-work days, as off-the-record work days. If this is not slipping back, what is?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Wall(s)

I suddenly got a call from an old friend today. It had me a little surprised because I wasn't expecting it. But it turned out to be a sudden, surprise call only as far as I was concerned. Because as far as she was concerned, today's call was the culmination of the painstaking ground work she had to put in place over the last couple of months. ;)

So, there she was, talking to long lost me while pushing her 18 month old down the street, I mean, pushing the stroller the baby was in. As is usual for any two people talking after a long time, the two of us were soon talking about our lives, jobs, families, this and that and what not. And just like any two people separated by such huge geographical distances, we were sort of shouting to be heard!! Anyway, we got into the talking groove pretty soon and sometime during the conversation (I think we were at the 'talking about this and that' part of the conversation) she mentioned this movie called 'Good Bye Lenin' and suggested I get my hands on the DVD. It's about the Berlin Wall coming down and how that affects the life of the central character, who has to take care of his just-out-of-coma-and-extremely-fragile mom. I hadn't even heard of it before, but now that it's been recommended, I will keep an eye open for it.

I am right now living in the middle of a construction and expansion zone also known as my house. We, my family and I, have planned on adding a new wing, raising the floor level and making a few more cosmetic changes, hoping to make the house exude a lot more grandeur than it is actually capable of. And a few walls have already been ear marked to be the ones that will most closely resemble a pile of dust and stones once the sledge-hammers are done with their job. After all of this is done, we are hoping to have a bigger, more sophisticated looking house which will hopefully be as easy to live with as it was before the changes.

Now that I have related a few details about these two disjointed events, I will tell you where this is leading to. Well actually, these two events aren’t as disjointed as they would like you to believe. My thought process jumped a few lanes, went the wrong way down a one way street and ferreted out a connection between the changes being done to my house and the Berlin Wall! They brought down one wall and it supposedly changed the lifestyle of the people of an entire nation, almost overnight. Wonder what change in world order I will be responsible for, when, as part of the planned changes to my house, I get at least four walls razed to the ground.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I am Sleepy

Today saw me conquered and brought to my knees (And right now I am typing this kneeling down). Late last night, when I went to bed I had no inkling of what was to happen. Apparently there has been an attack of extreme sleepiness overnight and before I could realize it, I was seized.

Starting from the time I woke up, or rather tried to wake up, this morning, sleepiness has sort of closed its vice like grip on me. Beginning of the day and it had to be put off because when I woke up, I didn't want to be awake and so promptly went back to sleep. I finally woke up after I knew for sure that I would be late for office and remembered that was a no-no because I had a meeting with a client. I usually don't sleep-walk but today I guess I did a pretty good imitation of it though. All the same, I sleep-walked in for my bath and the scalding water I poured over myself by mistake sort of helped awaken me a little. After that I must have fallen asleep and started sleep-dressing and sleep-riding because I really don't remember how I got dressed or how I reached office or in what order those two activities happened.

As far as I remember, one moment I was trying to make sure that the hot water hadn't peeled off my skin and the next, I was in office, sitting at my desk and wondering how I had gotten there. That was just before I started regretting the fact that the office doesn't have a recliner that I could use. That small detail regarding the client meeting must have put up a hell of a fight to make its way through all those recliner and sleep and relaxation themed thoughts and come to the forefront of my mind, because I suddenly remembered the client and what I was supposed to do. I booked a cab and with some super human effort (a fast and short nap during the car ride helped) I managed to meet the client and work with them as well.

Having thus taken care of business for the day, I left the client and promptly stretched out in the cab, ready to go to la la land. Unfortunately, la la land was looking very much like my office, until one of my team-mates managed to get through my haze filled brain and made me realize that I was indeed back in office. Now, after another go at sleep-riding my bike, I am here at home, probably sleep-typing this whole, inane sleep inducing post.

Tomorrow I will probably realize what happened here. Until then, please don't hold me responsible for this post. I am not awake and not in my senses even as I am typing this.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

25 hours!!

I don't know if it's the new fad but these days every day seems to be too busy. There hasn't been a single day which I can point to on the calendar and say, in absolute terms, 'There. That is a day of leisure'. Yes, this includes weekends also. Anyway, today, in the midst of another one of those new-fangled busy days, I found myself doing some math. No, I wasn't trying to sleep by counting the sheep.

Like I was saying, the days are only getting busier by the day. And we are the ones bearing the brunt of this change. Now-a-days, I don't seem to remember when I sleep and how much I sleep. By the time I hit the sack, it's tomorrow already and when I wake up, far from feeling refreshed, I feel like going back to sleep. Given the busy nature of my day, this the only possible sleeping arrangement I can have and because of this, at work, I am not sure if today is yesterday still or it's tomorrow already. I have been in this befuddled state for a while now and can feel it growing by the day. Am not sure when it will reach its optimal proportion but I know that will be the day I exchange my business formals for a couple of trendy straight jackets and go in for a shift in residence. I am sure I am not up for that kind of a change in life style yet. So I was looking at the options available to me to get out of the befuddlement.

And that is where the math comes into play. You see, for some time now we have been using the 24 hours = 1 day scale to measure our days. I am not sure which genius came up with this, but it's probably some ancient Egyptian or Indian or Greek. This ancient scale, and I mean REALLY ancient, hasn't seen much change in all the time between then and now. That, I feel, is the main reason for the days becoming busier. If only they had thought of some flexible scale which would have allowed the day to have something like 26 or 30 hours whenever you have lots of work and something like 20 hours when you don't have all that much to do on a day, that would have helped a lot. So, on the back of thoughts like this, I was trying to find out how the year and months would look like if we had 25 hours a day but the same number of hours in a year.

Right now it is 24 x 30 x 12 hours every year (roughly). If we consider 25 hours a day in a 12 month year having the same number of total hours, then it would be 25 x 12 x 28.8. This means approximately 29 days a month, which in effect means that instead of having January, February, March etc till December, we will end up having February-1st Month, February-2nd Month, February-3rd Month and so on till the 12th Month of February. The downside to this is that all our holidays vanish, gone down the drain along with the old calendar. But the upside is that we can now have a Valentine's Day every month, all round the year!! I can see this is a tough choice. But being a November born myself, this isn't such a tough choice for me. Why? Well, now that there will be no more November, I won't have any more birthdays which means I won't age anymore!!

I say, bring on the 25-hour day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Discount Sale season

Statutory Warning-1 : This is long winding.
Statutory Warning-2 : Reading this might lead to head-ache, numbness of the mind and might induce hatred, indifference, murderous urges among other things. Read at your own risk.

With the economy opening up in the beginning of the 1990s, there has been a marked shift in the market place in India. As someone who was old enough, at that time, to take cognizance of the difference this move resulted in, I am nevertheless not going to go into any kind of details regarding the shifts that happened, why they happened and what the consequences were. Rather I would just restrict myself to mentioning the fact that the market place changed from being a supplier focused one to being a customer focused one. India had entered the global market place.

All of a sudden I, the customer, had so much to choose from that I was like a kid in a candy store. Drool flowing free and un-checked from the corners of the mouth, I was delirious with the plethora of choices suddenly thrust upon me. Right from the embarrassingly humble pin to the unapologetically overbearing luxury transport, my senses were assailed by the options that had unfolded in front of me practically over night. And then it was time for a reality check.

Just like the drooling kid in the candy store who could just drool away to glory but couldn't buy anything, I was also left drooling and palpitating over all that I could indulge in provided I could afford to do so. The economy had opened up all right and that made customer the king but at that time it was only the well-heeled customer that stood the chance of being king (or queen). The rest of us, for whom 'well-heeled' meant having good heels on their soles, were left with no other recourse but to gawp. It’s only in the past few years, almost a good decade and half after the initial market reforms, that we have also started understanding the other meaning of being well-heeled.

During this time frame, the so called middle-class has really started throwing its weight around, as far as the economy is considered. Currently this is the class of people who drive sales and growth of every category of products barring the absolute, beyond-and-above-the-top-shelf category (which, as always, is placed there just so that the ultra well-heeled among us can show-off their ultra well-heeledness). And since the middle class has grown to be of such importance, all companies have started wooing this class as if there is no tomorrow.

These wooing techniques range from the classy to the trashy but so long as the customers spend their hard earned cash, that's hardly to be given any brain space. One common technique used by companies, across product lines, is the discount sale. This is where the products are offered at a reduced price compared to what one would have shelled out during a regular sale. Or, if you are a cynic or tend to listen to one or just don't want to believe the above definition of a discount sale, this is the time when the actual price is inflated like a balloon and a small reduction is offered in that ballooned price. Whatever definition you chose to subscribe to, who would want to pass up the opportunity of paying less to get something they wanted? This is exactly why a discount sale is such a potent customer magnet. So much so, that lot of people I know put off their shopping till the commencement of the discount sale season.

I really am not sure why I started this or where I intended this to go. But since I came this far, I might as well mention this. There is this big furor that has been raised by the commie parties in India about the high profile nuclear-bed-sharing arrangement between India and the U.S. They say that getting into that agreement will definitely curb India's independent nuclear program. The parties that make up the government say that the agreement will benefit India since we will be getting nuclear fuel from the US. I say, listen to me instead. India is the customer, nuclear fuel is the product. Just wait for the discount season to start! No agreements, no hassles, just wait. We have seen a sale being announced for just about everything now (fighter plane designs, nuclear reactors and coolant technology, nuclear war-heads among others). It's about time for nuclear fuel to be offered too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Exams and Black holes

A little over half a dozen years after I last graced a class room with my presence, it's fascinating and surprising in equal parts that I was ever a student. I can't believe that I actually sat through 6 or 7 or 8 classes a day, continuously, one after the other, listening to lectures about different things and in different languages. Add to that the one and only, super efficient stress inducer that we all knew as students - exams!

I still don't understand how I managed to make my way through those scores and scores of exams during all those years in school. Must have been divine intervention. You know, that thing called luck. Anyway, the only positive thing to come out of all those exams was that I understood 'Black holes'. Confused? When we studied the concept of black holes back in the day, it was down right impossible for me to visualize an entity that just keeps accepting all matter (on a planetary scale) without giving back anything. It was quite the arcane topic that just had to be memorized instead of being understood. But come exam time and I began visualizing black holes in vivid detail. Still confused about why and how I did it?

You see, the exam paper and Black holes share some very important attributes. How is either of them created? We are not completely sure, though we might have an inkling. How do you identify either of them? A black hole sucks in everything even remotely close to it and doesn't give out anything. The exam paper also sucks in everything (your preparation time, effort, energy, mid-night oil, the money spent on the oil ad infinitum) but you never get to see any result for all of that. Can you get away from either of these? In your dreams! Well, actually, not even there. The Black hole supposedly has a strong enough gravitational field to suck-in you and the dream you are in. With the exam paper, there is no supposing. Given these similarities, we can conclude that these two, though not the same, are at least long lost distant relatives sharing some of the important family traits. This family resemblance was what helped me. I saw the very physical exam paper and could, in turn, mentally physicalize a black hole.

Lately I have been thinking about continuing my formal education by doing courses in business management. And I also realize it can only mean one thing. After finally having said 'adios amigo' and bidding adieu to my last black hole all those years back, I must now go searching for it once again and get re-acquainted with the feelings called 'utter despair' and 'total frustration'. In-spite of knowing this, why I would want to go ahead with the plan to study is beyond the capacity of my limited brain power to answer. But if ever anyone needed irrefutable proof that I am a total nut-case, this is it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Near Miss

Compared to the tight schedule I was working under these past couple of weeks, today I was positively free. But this free time felt strangely alien and I was restless, flitting from one mundane, un-necessary task to another and making un-necessary calls to be told that I needn't have bothered calling. I finally managed to get a grip of myself and settled down. By this time half the day was over but I still had another half left to sit through. For once I was hoping I would be called in for some meeting or some such thing!! I was that desperate.

They say that an idle mind is the devil's workshop. They, whoever 'they' are, are right. Because during that time, of sitting at my desk with nothing to do, I started thinking about me, my life, what I had wanted to be and some more heavy, serious thoughts in the same vein. Thankfully that phase lasted only for about 5 minutes by which time all the bells, which were supposed to go off when my system malfunctions, were well into their third minute of ringing like crazy and I barely had time to stop thinking those harmful thoughts. I could already see wisps of dark smoke drifting out of my ears. I guess I stopped moments before I suffered a massive system breakdown. If that had happened, I would have had only myself to blame because I knew very well the consequences of entertaining such thoughts.

I had been there once and it wasn't pretty. I still remember it like it was yesterday. The moment I had reached the point of no return, I was a sight to behold. In horror! Thick black smoke pouring out of my ears, eyes dilated, nostrils flared and tongue hanging out, I wasn't looking anywhere close to the handsome guy I was before the thoughts had started. As if that was not bad enough, I grew up. I was suddenly thinking about horrid stuff like my future, my savings and investments, my responsibilities and God knows what else. The cruelest cut was the fact that I could actually compare it with how I was when I was normal and realized what I had lost. And knew I wouldn't ever get it back!

That was then. They, the same 'they' as above I guess, also say that hind sight is always 20-20. So it turns out to be. Looking back at that time now, I realize that that first time may have irrevocably damaged a part of my system but it also activated some dormant parts which have so far proved to be very useful. These activated parts don't do much individually but together they safe guard my system a lot better than before. So much so that I am positive that I will never ever suffer another breakdown. Though it looked like I had come close to it this afternoon, I believe that if I hadn't acted when I did, my anti-growth mechanism would have kicked the crap out of those serious thoughts and thrown them out anyway.

Eventful day it turned out to be, what with me coming so close to growing up once more. Phew! I would rather prefer to run with a 25 hour schedule for a 24-hour day, any day.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Why Blog?

There are different ways of categorizing my life. For example, I could talk about life before I was born and after I was born. I could talk about my life before I could speak and after I learnt to speak. Or life before I got a job and after I got a job. Or life before I realized I was God's attempt at new design gone wrong or after. Wait, scratch that first example. Bad example. Anyway, for the sake of this entry, I can look at it as before Noodle House and after.

Before I started, blog, for me, was what people used to post their views (rant) on various things they thought affected their life. Blog was also a privately maintained news site. Since I didn't have anything to rant about and wasn't interested in collecting news, I was happy jotting down my thoughts on scraps of paper during some boring class (No shortage of those where I studied). But I kept running into blogs of different kinds with increasing frequency and started to wonder about how people start and maintain their blogs. At that point I was not so much interested in starting one myself than to find out how people, who seemed as ordinary I, were going about doing it. That interest eventually landed me on the homepage of Blogger. At around the same time, I also realized that I needn't be interested in news or ranting to have a blog. I got started and here I am, today, tapping away at the keyboard furiously where I used scribble away furiously on a piece of paper.

For me, wanting to write is like an OCD. The trains of thought starting in my head usually start because they have a unique, un-intendedly funny route to take. Instead of just thinking about them and chuckling to myself, I usually write down the route my trains take so that I can read them back at a later time and have a laugh. The problem is that when I write on paper, I need to file it somewhere to be able to retrieve it whenever I need to hop onto one of my trains. Noodle House has provided me with just such a filing cabinet. Now all I have to do is let the trains loose in my noodle and doodle away.

Of course, Noodle House has also let me save on pens, pencils and paper that I was wasting with my scribbling.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

My Retreat

I would hazard a guess here and say that everyone has a favorite place they consider their retreat. This is the place they retreat to, when faced with a problem or when they need that flash of inspiration or when they just want to pause and take stock of life. In case this place happens to be the bathroom, this is also the place they retreat to when nature calls.

Anyway, just like everyone out there, I have a retreat too. My room. It's my office away from office, it's my gym, it's my dance floor, it's my place to hide when I don't feel social enough to engage in meaningless banter with the guests at home. In short, it's my den. And I am the lion. The alpha male (though that might be due to the fact that I am in there usually with only myself as company). Being a floor removed from any kind of human contact, this is my place to do all those things people do in a retreat.

As befitting a den, in the original sense of that word, mine doesn't have much in terms of furniture. There is a set of built-into-the-wall closets where the bulk of my stuff sits. Or stands or whatever it is that stuff does in a closet. And carrying the torch for furniture is the mismatched pair of slightly high table and slightly low chair. On this table can be found all the reasons why my den is my den. Acting as perfect example for the oxymoronic phrase 'ordered chaos', it is currently groaning under the weight of my discarded clothes, freshly pressed clothes, my laptops, my laptop speakers and other assorted accessories, multiple back issues of different auto and bike magazines, issues of Reader's Digest going back to sometime last year and other random books, book-lets, papers, pens, cds and stuff. All this is under a thin sheen of the ever present dust with a few strategically placed cob webs to give it that antique look.

That's it. There's nothing else in the room to mar its pristine simplicity. Once I shut the door and switch off all lights, I can sit leaning against one of the walls and stare without focus into the darkness, simply for the joy of hearing the wheels in my brain whir. Bliss!!

Less is More

As I sit here, poised to type out the words I want to, I pause for a second to think about the possible ramifications. I have heard of people who have been pink-slipped because of their blogs and more importantly, the content in them. With that the recurring theme in my head, I am contemplating. Am trying to see if what I am planning to write here is in anyway disrespectful or derogatory, of anyone or anything even remotely linked with my place of work. Hopefully I don't get fired because I dared to criticize the company laptop. Especially because I have already done so to anyone in office who appeared to lend me an ear.

I don't like my laptop. There, that's the short version. The long version: It's a 15.4" widescreen lappy which more than meets the challenges thrown its way in my day to day work. It has more hard disk space than I know what to do with. It even has a combo DVD drive. Wait, where is the criticism? Ah, yes, this more than capable laptop becomes my problem when I lift it. Or rather try to lift it. Because instead of lending itself to the regular lifting activity, it forces you to heft it up. And that's just the beginning. This laptop comes with a power brick which sort of takes its name too seriously. Carrying the laptop around is a weighty problem in itself; add the brick to it and the problem transfers itself to the heavy-weight category. I know they want me to be fit and healthy but I would rather they pay my gym fees instead of providing me with the weights!! And that is the only reason why I don't like the laptop.

My idea of a laptop is more like this. A 13" inch or slightly smaller widescreen (preferably with a mirror finish to save me the time it takes to go search for one), a 60 GB HD (This will keep me thinking up of ways to fill it, for the next 4-5 years), one of those power saving, low voltage processors (for longer-than-an-hour battery life and a cooler laptop), 2 GB RAM, a slot drive, 3 USB ports, headphone and mike slots, a card reader, an output port, an extension port and that PCMCI-or-whatever-it's-actually-called slot. And yes, it should preferably have a track pad. Something like this, I believe, would be comfortable to use and to tote around. And I might just end up creating an extremely good initial impression in the clients' minds by looking very hep with a slick looking laptop. (Doubt this would happen but you never know. Hehehe)

I am waiting. When am I getting it?

An Attempt to Inject Seriousness

The other day I was eating, seated outside a Pizza Hut outlet, and started wondering about the kind of challenges the Pizza Hut guys faced these days. I mean, when they had come to India a few years back, they were new, they had to establish themselves, they had to set up their delivery model, they had to get their infrastructure in place and a hundred other things that I can't even begin to imagine. But now, I guess they are known pretty much everywhere. So what's the challenge for them now? To this, the wise one replied that they now faced the challenge of beating and staying ahead of the competition, both from within the pizza universe and also from the neighboring universes like the burger and fried chicken universes to name a couple. And the wise one pointed out that the changes in their menu from time to time is one among the many techniques used to keep the pizza and the hut ahead of said competition.

When we get down to brass tacks, this is nothing but an attempt to surprise the customer with new offerings so that they don't get bored with you. I started thinking about doing the same thing with the menu here at Noodle House. As of right now, it consists of different flavors of lighthearted, flighty humor extracted, sometimes with considerable difficulty, from my various real and imagined life-experiences. And, so far, I have steadfastly refused to get serious. If only I had shown elsewhere, the same kind of single minded dedication and stubbornness I have shown towards being non-serious here, it might actually have been useful in other aspects of my life!! Anyway, so I was contemplating changing the menu here to accommodate a little seriousness. Just a little.

Towards that end I started writing about heart transplants. The thought process was to go from how these transplants came to be, how they help people, the costs involved, the risks and everything else that makes up the whole nine yards of it. With this fresh in mind, I started and actually managed to finish. The first line, that is. And then a speeding truck, one that had R-E-A-L-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N written in bold all over it, hit me. I didn't have a trained chef in the kitchen here to cook up some serious stuff and I was not even a novice at that kind of cooking. If I attempted it (I have a couple of cook books open) there was a possibility that I might come up with something resembling seriousness but the mathematical probability of that happening resembled a naught.

Because of this reason, I have decided Noodle House will have to do without a menu-revamp. We don't have the in-house expertise to provide brain food of a different genre. And we don't have the deep pockets required to hire top-shelf expertise. I guess I will have to continue being the best in my niche space before I start thinking of taking over others.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I am a Sinner

As of this hour, it's been exactly 47 hours since I have written anything here. Wow! There was that time, I think a month and half back, when I was worried that I would lose my identity if I didn't write here everyday or something to that effect. But now I am not making as much noise about missing almost missing two days in a row. No, it's not that I have added writing to the long list of things that I have started just to give them up. I realize that it was practically impossible for me to write even my name, leave alone writing anything here, during those 47 hours.

It was not something as dramatic as an injury to my hand. It was just a maddeningly freakish combination of work and rain that had conspired to keep me from my laptop. And it took me so long to work my way around that conspiracy.

As is usual for me these days, I got thinking during this forced break. Was thinking about lots of stuff. And this one thought seemed a little more promising than the others for me keep thinking about it a little longer. Apparently there's this thing or concept called the Seven Sins (a.k.a Seven Deadly Sins!). And as far as I can make sense out of it, it's a list of seven traits of human beings that are categorized as sins. And sins being what they are, human beings are not supposed to have anything to do with them. That is, if they want to go to heaven or whatever other place it is that sin-free dead people go to. And some more theological blah blah. I am definitely not the person to talk about it in any way.

But I had to mention all that in-order to create a background for the point of this post that I am now going to come to. In the afore-mentioned sin list, there are two (I looked the list up here, so I know) that I seem to practice as regularly as I breathe. I thought it was funny to see them on that list. And what was even funnier was their 'names' if I might call them that. One is called Gula and the other one is Acedia. Now I am sure, since these are in latin, it makes perfect sense in that language but non-multi-linguist that I am, they just sound funny. And before I forget, in plain english speak, the first one is Gluttony and the second is Sloth (the verb, not the noun).

Gluttony is supposed to stand for over-indulgence in anything, though we commonly associate it with food. And I eat a lot. And I do that lot of times a day. Sometimes I keep doing it throughout the day. And Sloth is supposed to stand for apathy, slowness, unwillingness to act or as we commonly know it, laziness. And that is something I can conjure-up from thin air whenever I want it. And sometimes when I don't want it too.

I was thinking all this when I was getting drenched on my way back home. (Ok not all of it. But I thought enough to help me refine my Google searches once I reached home). And I concluded that the definitions of the sins more or less confirmed what I already knew. The difference is, now I also know they are sins.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Wake up and say Good Morning

As day light gives way to darkness and the night creeps up on us, one thing is certain. Somewhere in the list of things to be done for the night, everyone has 'Sleep' penciled in. Except for the night shift workers and your friendly neighborhood insomniac. And everyone who sleeps invariably wakes up (Of course there are exceptions for this too). And that is what I want to talk about. Waking up.

Over the years I have noticed people doing this using a variety of techniques and somewhere along this path I also started making a note of how I was doing it too. I was surprised to find that I use most, if not all, of the different ways that I have seen in others. Here's a list of 3 different techniques I usually use:

The 'Background to Foreground' Transition: This is the method where external stimuli, like door bells, people shouting your name and the alarm going-off loud enough to wake your neighbors, start making their presence felt in your sleeping brain as some distant background activity. This background activity, instead of fading away, persists long enough for your nearly unconscious brain to start paying more attention to it. Because of this sheer persistence the brain wakes up to promote it from being in the background to the foreground. A few blissful moments later the fully awake brain sends the necessary signals for the rest of the body to be fully awake and that's the end of your sleep.

The 'Did I Actually Sleep' Transition: This is the most peaceful of all the methods. You won't really remember when you fell asleep. And you won't remember anything to do with your sleep. One moment you are reading that book at around 11 in the night. The next moment you are wide awake and it's 6 in the morning. And for the life of you, you don't remember sleeping.

The 'I am dead meat' Transition: Situated diametrically opposite to the previous one, this is the worst method of coming back to the land of the living. During the course of a regular nightmare you reach the point of no return where, in the nightmare, you come to the inevitable conclusion that there is no way out and you are dead meat. And for some un-explained reason, the moment this conclusion is reached, you wake up. In a sweat, probably panting and with a pounding heart.

Apart from the three mentioned, I have also noticed a couple of very intriguing but iffy looking techniques.

The 'I am waiting for an excuse to wake up' Transition: Now this looks phony to me but having seen it in a few people I am forced to accept that this is indeed a valid, non-phony technique. This is where sleeping folks wake up for any sort of external stimuli. You switch on a light, they wake up. You sneeze, they wake up. You open a door, they wake up. Leave alone a pin dropping; they will probably wake up if a strand of hair falls to the floor. Am still skeptical about this but folks I know swear by this.

The 'I will wake up when I want to' Transition: This one is definitely phony, no matter what anyone tells me. They wake up, then decide they don't want to wake up and so go back to sleep. Or at least that's what they want us to believe, while all they do is loll around in bed with their eyes closed till they have decided that the time is right for them to 'wake up'. Hmph! As far as I am concerned, this is proof that 'You can wake up a sleeping person but you can't wake up someone who is acting to be asleep'.

Anyway, those are my observations. What happens before you say Good Morning?

Monday, September 3, 2007

The fine arts

There are many who say that pursuing fine arts helps in the development of our personality. It adds multiple dimensions to an otherwise single dimensional entity, there-by saving us from being relegated as mere 3 dimensional beings. And given this personality development trait of the fine arts, we find more and more young folks - young in age and young at heart - take to the various art forms. Of course we do come across stray cases where some of those belonging to the young-in-age category are forced into it but that's more an exception than the rule.

To keep with this spirit of encouraging fine arts, today I will try and bring out the nuances of one such art form. It is one of those with which almost all of us are familiar, but which we seldom recognize. I am talking about the fine art of dozing. They also call it snoozing and in the recent times, when it has become fashionable to coin new words and phrases to mean age old things, it's called the power nap. What all these refer to is, of course, that same old 'sleeping-in-your-seat-with-your-eyes-open'.

To take this up, it's not necessary that you need to have an IQ of 150 nor is it required that you display physical characteristics that might lead people to mistake you for that gentleman who is the governor of Californian nor do you have to twirl like a top nor do you have to use those vocal chords. There are absolutely no qualifications required for practicing this art form. People belonging to every age group, irrespective of their physical and mental condition, can take this up. There is not even any special preparation required to take this up, which in my mind, makes this the easiest and the most convenient of the fine arts to pursue.

And let's not forget the advantages. It helps break the monotony of staying awake for around 12 to 14 hours a day, there-by keeping you fresh for longer. It lets you attend all those un-interestingly long and mind-numbing seminars and still remain cheerful and energetic at the end. You will also notice that you are now more inquisitive about what is happening around you, your curiosity is almost always piqued and you have this un-quenchable thirst for common knowledge.

So start today folks. The fine art of dozing: Easy to start, hard to stop, almost no side-effects.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I Acknowledge

Do you dream? I don't mean 'dream' in the same way that Martin Luther King Jr. had meant, when he famously said 'I have a dream'. Nope. I am asking about the more humble and commonly occurring variety that makes its presence known when we sleep. Or when we take that power nap!

There used to be a time when I proudly said that I never had dreams in my sleep. That, in my mind, was the sign of an untroubled sleep. But that was a long time back. Over the years, I have realized that my so-called 'untroubled sleep' was not proof of a dreamless sleep. Rather it was just proof that I couldn't remember my own dreams! This realization has been a little slow to dawn on me. But dawn it did. All those times, when I was fast asleep and in the belief that I was doing only that but suddenly realized that I was actually sitting up, wide-awake, have finally made me a believer.

I also realized something else. The dreams that woke me up are the only ones I remember. That’s such a pity. Because these are the dreams that nightmares are made of. Imagine dreaming about going for your final exam with no pen, an hour late and then realizing you had studied for the wrong subject the previous day. Definite nightmare material. It took me a couple of seconds to calm and re-assure myself: I was in my bed, it was 2 am in the morning, it was just a bad dream and more importantly, I was not in school any more. Phew! And that's just a sample theme behind my 'break-into-a-sweat-and-wake-up-from-a-deep-slumber' dreams.

In light of these realizations, I am happy to announce that I am happy to join the ranks of the dreamy. I don't remember any of the dreams that I sleep through and I don't want to remember those I do. But I have always been a dreamer and now I know it.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Intelligent Design

I am trying to wrap my not so considerable mind around this concept. As you can read here, Intelligent Design is the quasi formal term used for that school of thought which claims that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." As I followed the trail of this topic across the stretches of the virtual landscape, I came across view points of people trying to give theological, scientific and plain logical explanations both for and against. And I thought "Why not join this crowd? I have a medium for expressing my opinions, the means to make it publicly available and more importantly, can come up with an opinion that's as unique as I am". So here goes.

Actually this is not an opinion. What I have to offer are a set of questions, doubts rather, that I want to be clarified. First: If Intelligent Design can explain "certain" features of why the universe is the way it is, what are those features and what about the other features that are not covered by the above tag? Any theory is taken seriously only if it at-least attempts to answer all the pertinent questions, not just a subset of them. Second: If it's Intelligent Design because of which we are what we are and why we are then what about the work we supposedly put in for getting wherever it is that we are? And Third: Going forward, if it will be because of the same Intelligent Design that we will be in whatever position we may find ourselves in, does that mean that irrespective of the input from our end, the result is going to be the same?

Are you wondering where I am leading with these questions? See, 'tis like this. From the time I was a little more than a foot tall and a couple of years old, I have been shown a specific cause for everything that happened to me. When I fractured my leg, it was because I was playing on the road and was in the way of the cyclist who rode over it. When I got grounded, it was because I hadn't obeyed the curfew at home. And this same format of cause and effect has been drilled into me ever since. So much so that, today, I actually believe in things like 'Work hard to be successful' and 'Pay attention to the traffic on the road to stay alive'.

So if the answer to any of my questions even remotely resembles a 'Yes' please let me know. There are a bunch of things I have been believing that I need to start un-believing in a hurry.