Saturday, June 11, 2005

All about numbers

Move away crosswords & jumbled words, here is something which has replaced these as the 'to-do' thing when you are sipping your morning cuppah or when you are ready to fall asleep but just realise that it wud take some time b4 u cud actually fall asleep. Call it a fad or a craze, Sudoku is currently getting popular by the day.
Be it the standard 9X9 in the HT, Times or The Sun (they've conveniently renamed it the Sun Doku) or the Quick Doku or the Guyz-only version (if you arent aware of this, the rules are the same but this has pics of supermodels instead of digits and therez a bonus if you complete it), however short the craze may last, I find Doku more appealing than crosswords. One, chances of completing the puzzle are much higher than crosswords, two, you do not have to break your head whether the CLUES are cryptic or straight.
One thing I am sure of. however is that I wudnt be addicted for too long. At one point, I would definitely find it boring. Crosswords, on the other hand, would continue to be popular, as they are more diverse in terms of approach plus more importantly, in addition to a sense of 'completed-it-succesfully' pleasure, the pleasure of learning new words and new phrases is what would make crosswords live much longer (infact, I do not see a day even in the distant future, when a daily wouldnt have a crossword section).
But today, I'm as addicted to Sudoku as my friends at work and wish the Japanese (our CEO certainly believes that they are twice as efficient and innovative as us) could come up with some sort of innovation to make this game last that extra mile.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It didnt turn me on

Its been quite sometime since I started blogging but I havent churned out enough of them, I guess. Typically, I fall for flattery. If someone tells me that he had visited my site that day, I make sure that I create a new post that day (if its a she then, there might be two of them). Guess that should suffice as regards to the number of ppl who visit my site. So, I've changed the packaging of my blogs. One thing I've learnt from Pooja Bhatt movies is that sleaze definitely makes people sit up and take notice (Heard shez been charged of showing inappropriate pictures in the posters of her movie - a model whose posture suggests a faithful (yeah..and hot too) pet - God knows what that has got to do with the movie - But I've already swallowed the bait once and wouldnt fall for it this time - the last time I got duped was when I had one look at the PAAP dvd in Paris and watched it the very day. Aroh would know better..hahahah..We didnt even forward the songs as we didnt want to miss the scene on the cover.Those futile 3 hours :-( ....serves her right!! ). After that if there is enough content ( I mean filmi content), it would do pretty well. So, starting from my next blog, there would atleast one of the following - gossip, innuendos, trivia and awareness. Just kidding. If you were misled by the title of this blog and thought this belonged to the above-mentioned genre too, hmm..you've got to be patient.

First day at work, inside the conference hall, in the midst of our induction, we were given badges and coffe mugs and and all the stationery. One look at the words on them and we couldnt stop giggling - 'Life @ iflex turns me on'. After that, I was there for more than 5 months and have often wondered if someone in his senses could have thought of such a thing. I say this, ruling out the possibility that the situation during the time this was conceived was totally different. I guess these days the selection procedure is like this. On the application form, you have this - Sex M/F. Next question, 'If the answer to your previous question was F, then how much would you rate yourself on the BQ (beauty quotient)?'. If the minus '-' sign is missing in the value, you are rejected. HR is no exception. Anyways, getting back to the 'turning on' part, I can say that this could apply to the gifted few, who possess the deadly combination of diligence and intelligence. For them, a few issues could be IM (Intellectual Hand-hitting). These guys would be, as my CEO would say, kick-ass-rocket-scientists (In case you want to sound the way he does, stuff fried spinach with sand in ur mouth and say it). Personally, I aint kicking anybody's rear and I'm no scientist. So, the pelasures of getting turned on from something different than the things I need normally for the same, are still elusive.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Whodunits, anybody?

Investigative series fascinate almost every one of us. Most of us grow up with Tintin, love Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys during high school, find the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot absolutely incredible & read Erle Stanley Gardner's courtroom scenes with 'un-put-down-able' fervour. I guess its got to do something with the suspense factor. Missing jewels, murdered business magnates, stolen artefacts, kidnapped children..who would not feel a chill running down their spine? Or maybe there is a S-Spot (suspense spot, not silver), in some corner of the brain, which has got plenty of nerve-endings (:-) and is stimulated when we try to fit in missing links or when we try to decipher a cryptic clue. I remember the time when I used to finish half a book, go to bed & then try to figure out the suspense. Initially I used to be way off the mark and this further increased my love towards these books but after some time (especially when u read about a dozen Agatha Christie's on the trot), I realized that I could make a decent detective too. & then I went one rung higher in the ladder and read more complex works. I also realized that 'complex' or 'mature' detective stories meant invariably that the list of suspects were bigger, the analysis was more scientific & elaborate and there was philosophy interspersed.

Personally, I'd loved these kinds of books till I joined college, which was about 6 yrs back. After that, I'd been more inclined towards satire, philosphy & dry humour. When I put down 'The Da Vinci Code' after about 3 restless nights, I realized that my old appetite for mysteries wasnt fully over yet. The book was gripping & the trivia associated with it was terrific. The suspense element was there halfway through the book, but then I just got it right. I mean, I had a couple of suspects in my mind and the first one in my list turned out to be right. Anyways, it wasnt 'The Da Vinci Code' which brought back my childhood memories about dtetective works but it was one of our desi teleseries.

I doubt if the name Vyomkesh Bakshi (to be read Byoomkesh Bokshi) sounds as cool as Perry Mason or Dorothy Sayers. Nor is there anything characteristically unique to him (his Dhoti??) . His visage is not oval, he does not sport a hunting cap and he does not eat carrots when his grey cells are working overtime (remember Karamchand??). You can be forgiven if you watch it for a couple of minutes and assume its a soap set in pre-independence times. But despite its simplicity (or maybe it is the simplicity) , Vyomkesh.... has been one of my favourites ever since it went on air. The suspense and variety in this series could not be compared to its western counterparts but there was something about it that did not fail to generate enough interest to keep you glued to your screen. I would attribute Rajat Kapur's screen presence as a major plus factor. He has this charismatic smile when he realizes that he is getting to the bottom of a mystery. His wife and his friend are like Dr Watson in Sherlock Holmes. Once the mystery is solved, Vyomkesh explains the mystery to them, thereby answering most of our questions. Unfortunately, VYomkesh... is telecast on the channel that reaches the most number of houses, Doordarshan. If only, any of the private channels had acquired the rights, it would have got its due. Now its telecast on Saturday afternoons. But I would settle for it any day, than watching nerve-wracking, snail-paced Ekta Kapoor serials.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Puppets or Actors?

Sometimes I wonder to what extent this axiom - "An idle brain is Devils' workshop" - is true. There are times when I am rudely awaken from my sleep when the sun wud b lazily emerging out of the horizon (most of the times its the dumb monophonic ringtone on my mobile which is the culprit).After managing to convince my parents that allz fine at my end & that I'm not starving myself or straining too hard, I realize that its impossible for me to fall asleep again. & then this Devil's workshop comes into play. From the movie I saw the day before to the dispute happening in my neighbourhood abt rights of ownership of a narrow courtyard to world peace, any topic on this broad world & beyond it, is analysed. Today's 'The Big Fight' topic is defintely worth mentioning. A question which I'm sure every mortal on earth must have pondered over, sometime or the other - 'Are we mere puppets in this world; mere pawns on a chess board in a classic duel between God & Satan?'. This is especially true when we believe God hasnt rewarded for us for our work or we feel we've been punished for no apparent fault of ours. But for one moment drop the belief u have that our future has been written already. Instead perceive ur future as a result of two factors - ur effort or Karma & heavenly grace. A lot of things wud now seem to fall in place. You are an actor, given a script & how well u execute it decides on what the director has in store for you next. Sometimes He might feel like giving u a tough script, with plenty of challenges, because that is when He would relish UR success. Afterall, "All the world is HIS Stage". When we fail in this task, we might get a few more tough assignments and after that, I'm sure He would not be all that pleased.
Ultimately, we need BAD to appreciate GOOD, VICE to appreciate VIRTUE, WEAKNESS to appreciate STRENGTH and so on. One of my friends, who questioned me on my 'never-receding' belief in God asked me something which had me stumped initially. He had seen a physically and mentally special kid and was wondering what on earth the kid could have done to deserve that kind of a life. My personal opinion is a continuation of what I had just said. We need ABSENCE to appreciate PRESENCE. How many of us would think of God if everything was smooth and perfect? Wouldnt we start taking life for granted? If everybody around us died a natural death due to ageing, wouldnt we stop praying for the well-being of mankind? Havent we been thought to mutter a small prayer before having food? Didnt our parents ask us to do the same citing the reason that so many people are struggling for food?
I guess this is getting a little too preachy. But its kind of preachy coz its intended at one person, me. So when the going is really tough, when u feel that u get up after every punch only to receive a killer punch of a greater magnitude, the best way out is to believe that its just a test.

There should be sunshine after rain,
There should be laughter after pain,
These things have always been the same,
So why worry now ?
- Mark Knofler (who else?)
Ofcourse, there are two possiblities as to why your 'present' is a struggle. You are either being tested & you have bright things in store in the future or else you are being punished for some fault of yours. If its the first case, you should not ask Him to free you off ur troubles (you should rather face them) while in the second, you should ask Him to unburden you. The ironic part is you never know which of the two is the cause.....

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Ladder 49

11 am on a thursday..with our first module getting prepared for testing times, it wasnt really the best part of the day..The tension on the faces of my group members (& I come second in the list when arranged in the descending order of tension-writ-large-on-face) was obvious...
& then it went off..a continuous buzz,more like the muffled siren of an ambulance..we'd been informed abt the drill the previous day but I had forgotten the same after seeing a couple of bugs in the morning..Slowly, people started walking casually towards the emergency exit..A majority of them (me included), I bet hardly gave a thought as to why the exercise was being carried out..If the drill hadnt been mandatory, not more than a handful wud have participated..As I walked down 5 floors (which never seemed to end), I was joined by a hundred people in every floor, all walking with heads either down or busy in thought..somewhere in the crowd u cud spot people like me & my friends, finding the entire exercise amusing & sharing feeble jokes for the heck of it.
& so, in 10 minutes, the entire building was evacuated.. I was wondering how different the scene wud have been, had it been a real emergency..in 4 minutes flat,u cud have counted atleast a hundred men, jostling & heading towards the exit..it wud simply have been a survival of the fittest..instead here we were, about a thousand in number, standing near the main gate, much to the amusement of the workers watching from the adjacent building..My eyes were desperately looking for greener pastures & then I recollected how the office i was in, was unique with regard to pretty faces, or rather the complete absence of it.. I finally realized that a temporary dias had been put up & there was somebody on it with a microphone trying really hard to have our attention...
He was about 45..his gestures animated..he looked at us all & said ..' God bless you..you have taken time out of your busy schedule to participate in this drill.'. He was either a very touchy & emotional man or he was being damn sarcastic..within a few minutes, it was clear that it was the former..His demonstration was elaborate & the emptiness in our stomachs added to the despair..their were sighs & giggles but slowly, they gave in to attention..The man out there was being a bit too emotional..between every 2 sentences, he would plead with us to do what he was explaining in the event of an emergency..& he wud add this too 'Why should I plead with you?? Its in your interests that I'm doing this'..he was indeed right..he was shouting hoarse at the top of his lungs to get one thing into our thick-high-resistance-semipermeable (remember osmosis - high pressure inside the head & low pressure outside) head - that panic is what kills ppl in times of emergency..not suffocation or burns..
The one thing which struck me about the man was the passion with which he was doing all the talking..Having been in the fire-service for 30 yrs, he had seen what the entire company put together wudnt have seen..Bodies charred beyond recognition, children consumed by raging fires inside their classes for no fault of theirs, wailing kith & kin and of course, people whom he'd rescued, who cudnt have found words to express their gratitude & wud have just clasped his hands and broken into tears..One among the people he had rescued, had gone back to the burning building to retrieve the cash box, despite repeated requests from the firemen..It seems they found him clutching the cash box to his chest..It was this emotion which was making him shout hoarse, which made him fold his hands every now & then and all he wanted was our ears..Its amazing how life moulds you as a person with well-defined characteristics.. I doubt if this real life saviour would have been like he is today, if he hadnt been in the fire service..Bravado Mr Fireman....
& That brings us to another topic..Every morning as we drive through busy roads, we see the traffic constable, with a bugle in his mouth, one hand motioning ppl to stop & the other beckoning ppl in another direction to move forward..& every time, he says 'STOP', I'm sure ppl wud mutter expletives (though these might not be intended at him) and wonder why its the lane they use that is always at the receiving end..But I guess hardly anybody wud thank him for the gud job hez doing or even feel elated when he motions you to 'GO'..Its a thankless job..it really is.....

I've joined the bandwagon !!

So...I've finally decided that I could do with a blog-space of my own. Someplace where I can dump in all the slug running in my mind. I've been heavily influenced by Chaith & Ratish, and I'm afraid my blogs wud bear a striking similarity to their musings. I'm sure they wudnt mind though. Ever since I landed in India, its been one hell of a roller-coaster ride. I've wanted to put them all on paper, so that sometime down the line, when I'd be thinking that life's given me a raw deal, I cud read this & say..'Hmm..mayb not..I've seen tougher times'...Its funny how nice you feel when you tell urself that u r suffering for no fault of urs. It not only evokes self-pity, but also gives you this 'been thru it...seen it thru' types feeling..Okie..dokie..after choosing a title, came the question of the first blog...gave it a hard thought & then decided that I shouldnt write something just bcoz i wanted my first blog on this site.. Mayb I wud have to wait for something to write about...
I didnt have to wait too long..