“One does not love breathing”

My spectacles broke. Yeah, one min I was drinking a teeth-chattering-throat-freezing strawberry smoothie and the next thing I know the right temple has fallen on the table, leaving my glasses woefully unsupported and wobbly. You know, that feeling when you’ve been wearing a bra and then suddenly it gets unclasped and for a moment you feel un-hugged, unloved and well, unsupported? Just like that. (If you’re a man reading this, you lucky dogs never had to have your chest supported! Go away!) If you know me, you know I’m blind as a bat without my glasses – only my hindsight is 20/20, not my regular sight. (Haha, see what I did there? What? I’m a blogger. I have licenses.)

So there I am, pink drink in hand, parts of glasses strewn around and vision too blurred to even make out my friend’s face. Begged for some cellotape from the sour-faced barista, taped it up temporarily, finished the darn drink, picked up son from school and went home. With the mother of all headaches. Not my son! I mean a real headache.

My cup of woes is not full yet. Since the minute I realised my glasses broke, all I could think was ‘omygosh how am I going to read?!’. It’s another matter that I haven’t read anything of consequence in the last 2 weeks. But hey, if I WANTED to, I could have read. Now I can’t. I CAN’T READ TILL MY GLASSES ARE FIXED. These back-up glasses are all OK for regular work, but anything beyond reading show names on the TataSky blue bar is inviting the wrath of Thor and his hammer inside my head.

I even fantasized for a minute how it will be if I were a witch and I could wave my wand and the glasses will be fixed. Yes, exactly like how Hermione fixes Harry’s glasses on their first ride on the Hogwarts Express. And nope, I can’t read that book now even if I wanted to. Woe is me.

Slade House beckons and I have to let the calls go unanswered. It breaks my heart. Shehan Karunatilaka’s cricket based shenanigans await. So does the apsara Menaka and her choices. All those unread books that I arrogantly scrolled past on the Kindle, without a second thought – they mock me now, this blurry eyed me that cannot read. My son ate less than he usually does because we couldn’t read his meal-time book. He then proceeded to recite The Gruffalo from memory, but had to stop because one lady kept pushing food into his mouth. Mothers!

So, today, I wait impatiently for the husband to get home from work. Not because I miss him, no (because we have been married for more than a decade and hence are past such silly things as ‘missing you’ and ‘I love you’. It’s all ‘get some eggs and bread on your way back, won’t you?’ and ‘Please fix my glasses on your way back, or don’t come home’ these days.) but because my precious pretty prescription (hehe) glasses are coming home with him.

I can’t wait to get back to my book-babies. I probably won’t read anything today. Or tomorrow. But hey, if I WANTED to, I can. That’s all that matters. Wasn’t it Harper Lee who said, “Until I feared losing it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” One does not worry about not being able to read until one can’t. Shudder.

Hold on now, David Mitchell. Be right there.

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Remember 10-15 years back, when Internet meant sitting in front of a little dial-up box and mechanically re-trying because the sonofab**** just won’t get connected? All that silent cussing and praying, both equally earnestly? And then when it DID get connected, that loud crackling noise and assorted beeps and bops and oh joy, when Yahoo.com opens up nice and bright?

Today was like that. Because, thanks to the incessant rains or whatever nonsense, my WiFi died on me. Actually not just me – on the entire population in my apartment complex, but when did I ever pass up an opportunity to wallow in some self pity! And I’m thinking now or rather I’m unable to imagine now how we lived back then without Internet!
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If you’re in your 30s now, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about so don’t bother acting like I’m talking gibberish. Yes, you. You know how it was. No WhatsApp, no Facebook and above all, no Google.

No. Internet.

When I had a doubt in Field Theory (hypothetical – you need to read something on the subject to even have doubts!) I first called my friend/classmate and hoped she had the answers. And if she didn’t? Well, wait till I got to college and ask one of the brainy types (One never had a doubt that was doubt enough to take to a professor, so let’s not complicate things). There were no quick solutions. Convert Fahrenheit to Celsius? Look up the formula from a textbook, yo. What’s the capital of Sierra Leone? Check the atlas or the GK book (we had those things back then!). How to bake a pavlova? Pavlova who? Right.

Well, nothing earth shattering, no. We got by. We lived. We spoke to other human beings in person. We walked to the shops. We had books and libraries. We didn’t second guess our teachers and doctors. We didn’t let the milk boil over too often because someone was engrossed in a smartphone. We did good.

But it’s not so now, people. I think I’m going insane. Like, slowly but surely treading the path to cuckoo land.

I make breakfast but where’s Instagram to take a pic?!

I put the milk on the stove, but where’s Facebook to catch up on?!

Son wants to see Little Krishna, but where’s YouTube?!

And I have to ask the rest of the folks if THEIR WiFi is up or not BUT WHERE THE HELL IS WHATSAPP?!!!!

WHAT SORT OF AN EFFED UP SERVICE PROVIDER HAVE I SIGNED UP WITH WHO WILL LET SUCH IRRESPONSIBLE THINGS HAPPEN?!!!

I’M SHOUTING.

I’M GOING INSANE.

And then the son (who was till now yelling Amma Amma like a million times!) asks me to help him fix his building blocks. Well, alright kiddo, you’re in luck because Amma has nothing better to do right now. I chuck the phone and sit down with him. And we built an aeroplane. Stairs to climb up. A toll booth. An entire parking lot with real (toy) cars and trucks. We had little cops pull up errant bulldozer drivers and take them to jail for not following traffic rules. We hauled playdoh rocks into trucks and sent it spinning down a ramp. We sang made up songs about each other (“Amma Amma goes to kitthen…and bwings me chapati buvva” – Amma song, by V). We did good.

If you think I’m going to end this piece saying it’s a great blessing to spend time with family, yada yada yada..well..yeah, that’s there but, dude, I want me some Internet, yo. My brain cells are fried after that little play session and I NEED MY BYTE FIX RIGHT NOW.

AAARRGGHHHH!!

If not God, then what?

I’m reading Jerry Pinto’s “Em and The Big Hoom”. Right now, the protagonist is losing faith in God seeing his mother’s suffering due to manic depression.

Here’s what he says –

No one could offer any explanation for the suffering I watched my mother go through. Nothing I read or heard fitted with the notion of a compassionate God, and God’s compassion, one uncomplicated, unequivocal miracle of kindness , was the only thing that could have helped. The sophisticated arguments of all the wise men of faith— their talk about the sins of a past life, the attachment to desire, the lack of perfect submission— only convinced me that there was something capricious about God. How could one demand perfect submission from those who are imperfect? How could one create desire and then expect everyone to pull the plug on it? And if God were capricious, then God was imperfect. If God were imperfect, God was not God.”

And it got me thinking. We all have our moments when we doubt our faith and our very belief in God. Especially in times of strife and loss. It’s probably a very human reaction to pain – the “why me?” and the “how can God let it happen?” parts. I have had those moments too. But it didn’t last all that long. Why?

Because every one of those times, I asked myself what will I do when I’m confronted with something beyond my control, which hurts me or the ones I love. And the only answer I get is I’d pray.

And I wonder what the atheists do. What do they believe in? In their most desperate, vulnerable and helpless moments, whom do they turn to? Do they get any answers to the “why me?”?

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Unrelated pic: a rainy day and a little boy by the window.

On servers restarts, Ctrl+F, night-outs and impending doom

I think I can restart servers in my sleep. Some more days like this and I can code even when if I’m unconscious. Life has become this slug-fest, from one work-issue to another. I could rant on and bore you with it. And I will. Heh.

What the heck does the title mean? I thought you’d never ask!

Did I mention I’m drowning in work? No? Hmm, imagine that.  Well, FYI, I am. You know how much work I have? I’ll tell you –

– Mt.Everest is no longer the tallest mountain in the world. The pile of work on my head is.

– I look for Ctrl+F when I’m reading trying to read the morning newspaper. And no, The Hindu is not available in PDF format.

– My sleep times are so good, I’d put an owl to shame.

– My wake-up times are so good, I’d put the darn Sun to shame.

– I dream of ./opmnctl shutdown. (If you didn’t get that, well, good for you.)

(If you googled ./opmnctl shutdown, heh heh, gotcha!) (If you didn’t, you should. It’s pretty interesting.)

– I’ve typed Application and database passwords so often, I type them on my personal email account. welcome1 is not a very strong password. Even if it were, it sure is not mine.

– When people start off saying ‘Hey, did you watch this movie…’, I’ve already zoomed past into outer space thinking about the last time I was in a movie theatre. I was there last year. I still remember the popcorn. Well, kind of.

– Monday blues? Not really a problem now ‘coz every effing day is like a Monday.

– I haven’t had weekend plans in ages.

– I haven’t had weekend plans.

– I haven’t had weekends.

So, there ya go. That’s how much work I have. But like every dark stormy cloud has another storm brewing inside, this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Remember the one that sunk the Titanic? Something like that, only bigger.

Do I dare say I’m back?

Oh, one good thing about this Mt.Everest-y work I have. Got another one for my book of profound sayings (contributions are still welcome. Credits will still not be given) –

“The only thing more scarier than an unresolved issue is an issue that gets resolved by itself.”

I do sincerely hope the above line doesn’t become part of the ‘famous last words’ category.

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Quick question: What’s with this self-censorship for genuine opinions when it comes to blogging or posting comments on a blog? 

Is it just me imagining it or are some people just plain scared to call a spade a spade?

To hell with being ‘politically’ correct. You’re either correct or you’re not. 

Ok, why this sudden mini-rant? I’ve been browsing around some blogs and the posts/comment space is like the Holy Bible for cryin’ out loud! People being apologetic for having an opinion, people falling over backwards (leave alone bending!) trying hard to appear in agreement with the author even when they’re not! What is goin’ on?!!

See, all you have to be is polite. One can be in polite disagreement. Or did that change overnight?

All you folks who read TP, you’re always honest with your comments right? Can I please have that assurance? (Ok, now is not the time to say I’m a horrible person who deserves to rot in hell – that kind of statement should be censored, for the general safety of you and your belongings.)

 

P.S: Don’t think too much about the title. That’s the auto generated blog-post permalink number that WordPress generated when I began the post without a title. I wish it generated meaningful titles too so I don’t tax my pea-brain trying to come up with something smart.

P.P:S: Talking about tax, all you people with jobs and in India, did you file your IT return yet? Don’t you just hate doin’ it? First you have to pay through your nose even if there is not much of an income landing in your bank account. And then on top of that you have to go tell those IT people that you DID pay?! Isn’t that like rubbing salt on the wounds? What nonsense!

P.P.P.S: The blues seem to have hit a day late. Apparently, you can’t escape ’em even if you consciously forget the days of the week.

P.P.P.P.S: Apparently, I use the word ‘apparently’ too often.

End of the post. Go in peace.

Lal Salaam

Ok, so this could be a rant.

Do you know what’s been hogging the Malayalam news headlines the last few weeks? I’ll give you some clues – not inflation, not the oil-price hike, not the strikes/hartals by the omnipresent Commies, not global warmning, not the Aarushi murder case, not any murder case, not Santhosh Madhavan and finally, not even Euro 2008 or the just complete Tri-series in Bangladesh.

What else can it be? It’s the story of how a proverbial mole-hill was made a mountain by the I-have-nothing-better-to-do brigade of, get this, people from the Mallu film industry!

So here’s the whole deal – once upon a time in Kerala (approx 4 years back), there lived a producer Tulasidas. He used to make movies. Along the same time, there lived a very popular actor, Dileep. He had a lot of hits and was one of the hottest stars in the industry. So our man Tulasidas gets dates (the calendar ones, for purely platonic purposes, mind you) from Dileep for an upcoming movie and pays him 40 lakhs for the agreement. All was good and done. Then one fine day, Dileep decides he doesn’t want to act in that movie anymore (director had a lot of flops, the script was not ready, yada yada yada) and tells Tulasidas that he can’t keep his dates and he’s willing to give the money back. All of it.

And what happens then? Tulasidas decides he’ll have nothing of it and goes to town saying Dileep must (MUST MUST MUST) act in his movie, he can’t just give the money back and go. Dileep doesn’t care, basically asks him to take a hike around the world.

Now till this point it’s just an issue between one director and one actor. But then, one forgets that it’s Kerala. Nothing is between just two people. It’s somehow twisted and turned to be between the down-trodden working class (even if they happen to make crores in the film industry) and the arrogant one-man capitalist. Always. So what does Tulasidas do? He goes crying to MACTA (Malayalam Cine Technicians Association) and the general secretary of MACTA, director Vinayan decides enough is enough and convenes a meeting with all the executive members (which includes the whos-who of Mallu filmdom) and announces that all Mallu movies will be put on hold if Dileep doesn’t act in Tulasidas’ movie. Hah!

But then, one of the directors in that meeting, Siddique, got up and said that film-making was his bread and butter and he cannot stop doing that just because two people in the industry were having some issue. And what does Vinayan do? He goes up to the mike and says something to the effect that ‘people’ will tarnish their wives also for money these days (put very very mildly). Siddique sees red ‘coz the comment came exactly after he gave his opinion and he says ‘people’ actually refers to him.

This is enough fuel for the entire industry to burst into flames and split into two. Big guns like Siddique, Sibi Malayil, Fazil, Sreenivasan, Priyadarshan and Sathyan Anthikad resign from MACTA. The Mallu actors association (called AMMA) takes Dileep’s side. MACTA is on Tulasidas’ side. There’s the third front formed by the breakaway faction of MACTA who just want to get on with their movie making. Now add to this other ‘associations’ like FEFSI (South Indian film federation) and ABCD and XYZ, you have a full blown crisis on your hands. And the media, ofcourse, has a field day (actually weeks) running live updates on every single meeting between these ‘associations’.

Why am I all frustrated about this? First, I have to watch the darn news and I have absolutely no interest in such issues of ‘world importance’. Second, I’m sick and tired of the Commie way of doing things where common sense is chucked out the door and the common man is made to undergo difficulties because some bloke up there on a red throne said so. WTH! Thanks to these trade unions, if I had to move house in Kerala, I can’t do it myself! I have to call the trade union guys to do it for me and then pay through my nose.  Did you guys know that? Say I have 3 huge couches to move and  I have 5 of my friends/cousins who can help me move it, I still can’t! The union people just won’t let me. I have to call their guys, use their lorries and do the moving. And what’s worse?  They will unload the material only till the gate. Not till inside the house! Again, WTH! There are no movers and packers to neatly pack your stuff in the old house, move it to the new house and unpack and arrange the things in the new house. There are no movers and packers. Period.

Maybe I don’t have the whole picture. Maybe I don’t know the other side of the story. But from whatever I know, this just seems the most unfair way to do things. And that frustrates me!! 

Is it like this in all Commie ruled states? How about West Bengal? Any better there? Does Communism in it’s original format even hold good in today’s times? In India, at least? We all know China is the other extreme, but what the heck is happening here?

Desperate times, desperate measures. No, no desperate housewives, sorry.

I login to WordPress today and what do I see?

Yep, that’s right. It’s dropping dropping and dropped. And I have only myself to blame.

I could get all philosophical and console myself saying why do I even care if my blog stats drop. I mean, I have a life right? It’s not like this blog is the only reason I’m alive today. But you know what? If you own a blog you would know it too – from the moment you start a blog, somehow, unseen, this little thing called ‘responsibility’ creeps up into your life. ‘Responsibility’ towards readers (imagined or otherwise) who spend a minute or two to click their bookmark or their blogroll and reach your blog. And Responsibility never came alone now, did it? No, it always brings along it’s best pal, Guilt. The moment you slip up on this ‘responsibility’, dear ol’ Guilt ruins your life.

Reminds me of something I heard on TV yesterday. The famous Malayali actor, Srinivasan (he’s acted in over 500 movies, directed a bunch of ’em and written stories for many many more) was a guest judge on one of those reality singing competition (Star Singer, and it’s on Asianet if you have to know. The entry level talent you see on this show would put the Indian Idols and SaReGaMa champions to shame). He was narrating an incident in his life. He was walking towards some place and on the way he met this really poor man, dressed in torn clothes, basically like a homeless person. This guy, the moment he recognized Srinivasan, got very excited and started waving to him.  Srinivasan waved back, but a moment later a thought struck him – this man, without proper clothes or food or a home has probably given me 10 rupees over time by watching my movies. His 10 rupees are now in my pocket. He’s out there, scavenging for food and here I am, a big movie star and his 10 rupees are in my pocket. Srinivasan concluded by saying that it humbled him that day, to be adored by fans like that.

I’m not big star blogger or anything (actually, not even close – mediocrity has some advantages, like more mediocrity) but somewhere in that narration above I see a small parallel – this relationship between blogger and reader. In this short life, when people spend precious minutes to read a blog, it means something, right? It does to me.

Which necessarily means I need to be a bit more diligent in keeping this space updated. I know, I know I say I’ll do it and I never do. Maybe because it doesn’t hurt me in any way when I don’t update my blog. It’s not like I’ll lose this url if I didn’t post (but hey, if I don’t update it for like 10 years, maybe it might. But let’s not think of that, ok?) or I lose money for every day I leave the blog un-updated. It’s not like I lose money, right?

Hey, that gives me an idea! Why don’t all of you start paying me for blogging? That way, I’ll have this fear of losing out on cash and I’ll keep this space updated. Oh dear God, I’m so brilliant! Why didn’t I think of this before?!!

Um, I know what you’re thinking now – Why would I pay you for writing nonsense when I’m pretty darn sure I can write better nonsense myself? Well… I don’t have an answer yet, but how about you give me some advance and I’ll come up with something intelligent? Huh?

 

P.S: Here you were thinking I’m going all senti and ‘responsible’ about blogging, using big words like diligent, responsibility, relationship, etc. Heh heh. Love the look on (imagined) people’s faces when expectations come crashing down. Love it.

P.P.S: It’s not like  I don’t want to update the blog. It’s just that my internet connection at home has gone bust (it’s BSNL, duh!) and it might remain that way for another 2 weeks. Yeah, I know the excuse sounds lame, but it’ll have to do.

P.P.P.S: Did you know the above lame excuse would also hold true for why I’m not visiting the blogs on my blogroll? Yes, it does.

P.P.P.P.S: If only my posts were as famous as my post-scripts.

P.P.P.P.P.S: Now is a good time to stop, no? Ok.