Friday, January 31, 2014

ILL's well that ends WELL

We can think of health as denoted by a point on the x-axis. In that representation, -inf would be I suppose 'dead' :P, and +inf would be, err, superhuman? I suppose people who consider themselves reasonably healthy would lie on the positive side of the origin, and the sick people would be negative. I think I might be quite close to the origin now, but the direction of movement is never certain ;).

When we are ill, we become a somewhat different person to when we are not.
Before I become too well, I thought I better note down a few differences ... you know, before the memory gets blurred and becomes all rosy :P

Grey Power
£ It may not be a direct effect but caused transitively (less nutrition -> less Hb -> less blood/oxygen to the brain etc :P), but the mind becomes dull. Yes, truly. When faced with a reasonable puzzle, the challenge feels overwhelming. After more than a few seconds of focus, it would feel as if the brain is suffocating. You know, the mental equivalent of panting after a quick dash! Consumption would be simple and easy - reading, watching, listening. But if you are asked to produce something - write, talk, do etc - oh no, that's an impossible task.
+£ But if you are well, well, you do well! Sometimes you even amaze yourself and pat yourself on the back (if you are that good a contortionist :P)

Will Power
$ If you are not well, there is no will :P. If you seek to do something, your brain questions: 'What's the £*€%ing point?' And there is no good answer to that! Any effort seems invariable more than the possible fruits. So path of least effort makes most sense!
+$ If you are well and idle, well, there is always the itch. The itch to do something. It feels hard to just sit and stare and do nothing whatsoever. You will actually need the will to stay completely idle. Whereas, when ill, absolute inactivity used to be my favourite activity ;).

More Powers
€ The future feels tiring. Even making hypothetical plans for say travel, career, et al. feels unattractive. You don't even seek the so called pleasures of life. You just wish you weren't troubled by these silly things called aims, actions.
+€ But if you are well, you are eager for things. You'd want to see the world, own the world and all that.

A downside of being well, though, is that you are less tolerant of circumstances. You want and seek to make them better. I suppose that's what drives most of humankind :P

Does this mean I am getting back to blogging? It's been 7 months without a post. I suppose that's the longest hiatus this blog has ever had but I wasn't bothered about it, and I hope the blog bore the wait with patience too. I suppose we both (the blog and I, in case you were wondering :P) have matured into stoic beings that pretend to accept all circumstances with equanimity. Anyway, I didn't even attempt to post in this period because I seem to have lost the outlook that would lookout for events or incidents to document as a blogpost and neither was I ever possessed by that exact mood that used to make me spew out seemingly rhyming lines masquerading as poetry.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Year of Groundhog Days

Disclaimer: This post is not about scurrying animals.

The said year with groundhogging abilities was one whole year. But it wasn't a calendar year drably beginning on 1st Jan, or a financial/tax year that tends to commence in April for some reason, or even an academic one whose start date ranges from May to October (or more!) based on your affiliations. 

Introductions: The year of interest began and ended on 1st May (yes, this post is almost a month late, but then you weren't waiting for it, were you? :P ) when I completed an year of moving back to India. And no, I do not condone it being called Labour Day year - it was, after all, an year that was the complete anti-thesis of labour or effort of any kind. There were days when I didn't have a clue of what day it was, but was also not sure what month it was! While you try to follow the annoyingly repeating transitions between Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and so on, July turns into August without even bothering to notify you! How are you ought to keep up with the vagaries of the calendar when days could just be exchanged for one another? Every day, be it weekday, weekend, or month-end, presented the same routine: sleep, use interwebs, wake up, read paper, watch TV, read book & ponder nothing, in some order or other.

But like any good research result, there were enough exceptions and conditions to the groundhogging ability of the year that need to be listed, thus enabling me to extend this post from a short sweet paper into a long dreary one.

Excursions into the Kitchen: Though those familiar with my physique may not find it credible (or the sniggering ones may find it extra credible), but I used to cook on a fairly regular, almost daily, basis while in the Soton. The tidy bright smartly-arranged kitchen of my flat used to make it an agreeable experience. So having returned to parents' home, here in Hyderabad, and lounging in the bedroom for many many months, I slowly started making small furtive excursions to the kitchen. But the experiences seem to be indicating that I am not supposed to be cooking here. While back in my kitchen in Soton, though rarely confused with the unmarked containers, I could easily differentiate the cumin powder from the coriander power with a sniff or two. But here, to obtain the coriander powder from the shelf, I had to tackle not just cumin, but a couple of tea powders (okay, I admit those were easy to distinguish), some masala powder, some other masala powder, perhaps some rasam powder, some other powder that didn't seem to belong to the kitchen, and some other masala powder. I failed. So I had to contend with limiting my dish to just plain old salt, turmeric, and chilli powder. I was later informed that what I used wasn't plain old chilli powder, but some 'masala chilli' powder :P. Oh, and I was also informed later that it wasn't my olfactories that failed me while identifying coriander powder. How could one expect to find it when it wasn't even in the kitchen, but stored in the refrigerator outside! 

Excursions to the Outside: After 6 months of barely stepping out of the house arrived the month of November. It came pledged with the mission of not letting me be. After all, how can I be in India for half a year and not yet have relived the pleasures of a train journey, it seemed to have been wondering. So first it whisked me off to Bangalore which, despite tall claims, was only as cool as Hyderabad but with more traffic. I returned and barely got my lethargy back that I ended up in Chennai, and then Puducherry. Both were balmy but the cuisine was a welcome change, and the company was patently idiosyncratic. And then, towards the end of the month, I found myself in Kakinada. No idea why. I am still trying to figure out how I ended up there. 

With the arrival of the new year (the calendar one, not financial/academic etc :P), a car drive to Tenali was planned that I couldn't wiggle out of. And as the summer started hotting up in March, I decided to gain respite by going back to Bangalore using up some free, about to expire, airmiles. Plan worked out fine, but the supposedly pleasant weather of the city betrayed me. It was just as hot as in Hyderabad! And with more traffic, did I mention that?  

Incursions to the Inside: The first four months of life back here were qualitatively bland, especially the food. You know, all those jokes about 'palatability' of hospital food that we keep hearing? Well, those weren't sounding funny to me any more. Anyhow, with the passing of August arrived the Haleem season. After so many years, I was in Hyderabad for the haleem month and how could I not consume it at least on an alternate day basis?! So out went the food restrictions and medical advice, and in came the glorious delicacy. And I felt better ;). And my logical reasoning system started enforcing itself. If I can have a mutton and wheat mash and still remain alive, then why not test with some chicken too? And why deny fish?! And if the wheat had not exactly killed me, then perhaps some parathas may be risked sometimes. Why stop at parathas, why not puris? Well, if we are indeed venturing into the deep-fried matters, then the occasional pakodas won't be of much harm, would they? And so on, on a weekly basis, a dietary restriction was chucked out the window, and a new joy added back to the culinary life. And it did help me get better. Well, at least, my mood was becoming less sour ;).

I think the post is now long enough to not be considered short, so I will save us further trouble and conclude it here (But of course, you can always ping me for more detailed ramblings :P).

Conclusions: Nothing to say here. I just wanted to have this section because it conveniently rhymes with Excursions and Incursions.

PS -- "So, how are you feeling nowadays?" - the more concerned ones among you may feel obliged to ask. "Better than May '12," I would say, even though the quantifiable parameters are still stuck at May '12 levels :).

Friday, March 22, 2013

MYKUs

Staring at the little window in the corner.
It says ABC is typing
ABC has entered text
ABC is typing
ABC has entered text
ABC is typing
ABC has entered text
....
....
But appears no text.
Lost to the interwebs?

----

The warmth prickles
Fingers tremble in withdrawal
Fever looks up in sorrow
Carer leaves for the morrow.

----

Jostling each other
Bristling with honks of urgency
The vehicles stray everywhere
Like ants bereft of a nest.

----

Where is
The cool breeze promised,
The pleasant shade assured,
The soft grass proffered,
The eternal peace imagined?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Twitter-Compliant Book Reviews

For unreasoned reasons, I had developed the habit of posting short reviews of the books I read (which mostly tended to be of the novel types). However, on account of persistent bouts of laziness, the habit seemed to have gone on a sabbatical. The list of books read kept growing longer and the review task more and more daunting. But yesterday, enlightenment struck and an easy solution presented itself: reviews in 140 chars or less. So here they are!

The Art of Fiction by David Lodge: 50 chapters on the various aspects of a novel using extracts. The styles, nuances and methods behind the beauty. Wonderful authors exampled.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: Based in New Jersey, Dominican Republic and screwed up minds. Multiple first-person narrators. Peek into a different form of life and lingo.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed HanifDark humour. Hilarious and sad simultaneously. Features a plot to kill the Pakistani dictator by a gay military officer. Mangoes not harmed.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth: A portrait of (mainly) urban India after independence. The search for a suitable boy is merely a sub-plot. 1400++ pages of delightful prose.

Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham: Non-fiction! Not about hacking or painting. Many cool insights. Programming and startup experiences recounted. And about life and the world.

Transmission by Hari Kunzru: Below-par. Depressed Indian IT security hacker in US. A pompous CEO in London. Bollywood shooting in Scotland. Global havoc by a virus. Bah!

The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi: A fantastical mix of mythology, history and culture. Writing style is passable and the plot decent but the references are quite imaginative.

Known Turf by Annie Zaidi: Non-fiction! Quirks from the forgotten depths of rural India. About the callousness, contrasts and complications. With some wit and humour.

Cloud Road by John Harrison: Travelogue! Trek and bus from Equator to Machu-Pichu along Inca roads. History, reality, archaeology and architecture. Donkeys and poverty.

The Way to Dusty Death by Alistair Maclean: Hollywood thriller in a book form. F1 races, blown up cars, secret agents and a heady rush. Enough action and plot-holes to make it a movie.

Room by Emma Donoghue: A 5 year old narrator. Was always only in a room and then not. A bit presumptuous, but spellbinding. Gripping and intense. Well thought-out.

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi: To be read only after The Immortals of Meluha. More of the mythological and historical references. Many more twists in the plot. More filmy.

Aah, that's all for today. More reviews should be written but they will be written later. The forthcoming include Works of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde (obviously), Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell, Quo Vadis by the difficult-to-spell Polish author and so on...

Saturday, February 09, 2013

J'ai vingt neuf ans

For a year that wasn't.

Also for a year that was much more than a mere year.

And for the last year of the third decade.

A cheer :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A plateful of words.

Those exquisitely conceived sentences.
Couldn't they just apparate and stay when they are desired?
Those words, immaculately strung together.
Why flicker with grandeur and then wisp into nothingness?

Those images, flitting in and out of the mind.
Travelling perhaps to other realities where they are yet to be enacted.
Those photographs, embellished with incomplete memories.
Why burst out in radiance and vanish into unseen recesses?
Ablaze yet silent.
Ephemeral like faraway fireworks in the nearby sky.

Those servings, meticulously crafted to perfection.
Steam wafting up into aromas of intoxication.
Those colours, seductively tossed up together. 
Actualised on the meagre tongue, why thou not live up to thy promises?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Facebook Wedding Invites

This has been the season of weddings in India. Don't blame the people, blame the auspicious nature of dates. After the drought over the long monsoon season wherein there wasn't a single day when a wedding wouldn't be blasphemous arrived the winter season in which any couple getting married on  almost any day would be assured of 100 years of prosperity :P.

There have been days on which I had 3 different wedding invites to choose from (of course, I mostly ended up attending none of them, but that's tangential to the post :P), and in total I must have had maybe 15 invites over a period of one month! No, I am not bragging about my popularity or my wide social circle. Just the fortuity of being in the marriageable age, and hence having most of my friends in the same marriageable age. So while I was dodging wedding invites, they were all getting happily, clumsily married and inviting me to partake of the free food.

Another contributor to the windfall of wedding invites is the fortuity of being in the Facebook age. First we had house visits and snail mail wedding invitations. Then came the age of emails with colourful text and links to cheesy wedding websites. And now is the age of Facebook event invitations sent out to all the friends of the bride and groom. But the last type brings with it newer challenges. Can anything be more impersonal than an invitation to a Facebook event sent out to a thousand people? I was curious to find out :D. [For further ease of reading and typing, and keeping in with the times, Facebook is being hereby referred to with its abbreviated form: Fb :P ]

Even within the Fb invites there are two types. One sent by those with whom you have been in touch. So the person [the busy bride or groom] may have previously informed you about the imminent wedding via chat or talk. May have urged you to attend the wedding, and then sent out to the Fb event with all the details for your ease. Attending such weddings would be the same had you been invited via email or with a posted card. The other type is more interesting. Perhaps the person and you have been out of touch for decades. Or perhaps you both have met just once and became Fb friends with the false hope of meeting often later on. So essentially, you are among those who lurk at the depths of the person's friends list. And given that an average user only gets to see 12% of his/her friends' posts on his newsfeed, it is likely that the person has never come across your posts and has completely forgotten about your existence. Yet you receive the wedding invite because it has been sent to everyone in his/her friends list with the obvious assumption that those who aren't actually friends in real, current life will not bother to attend anyway. But what if you do? :P

That's what I wanted to find out. So I, along with an equally risk-friendly 'mutual friend', decided to attend the wedding reception of one such 'friend'. Haven't met or spoken to this 'friend' aka groom for more than 12 years. So the idea was that we both would just turn up and wish him 100 years of happy married life. What the worst that could happen? Well before we imagine that, first lets examine the best-case scenario: We would enter the arena. The groom spots us afar from his pedestal on stage and immediately jumps down. Runs through the parting crowd and hugs us both as long-lost brothers. He would then personally escort us to the best seats and declare that we were now the unofficial chief guests for the evening [Unofficial because protocol prohibits the wedding receptions from having official chief guests :P]. We partake the delicious multi-cuisine dinner, bless the couple and leave.

Now, for the more likely, worst-case scenario: We enter the arena and are followed by suspicious eyes of the parents of the bride and the groom. Both assume we must belong to the other party. After a lot of waiting, standing in some remote corner, we finally scramble onto the stage to surprise the groom and, of course, bless the couple. However, the groom looks at us perplexed and enquires with his bride whether we are related to her. We then awkwardly clarify to the groom by stating our names, and plead with him to remember and recognise his long lost mates. He awkwardly nods his head, shakes our hands and looks immediately for the next, more familiar group to receive wishes from. We leave the stage to more suspicious eyes and awkwardly make our way to the exit, skipping the bland-looking dinner.

Okay, am about to leave now, let's see which scenario plays out :P.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Six Degrees of Ignorance

1. Initially you are not really aware that you are ignorant.

2. Next you feel that you are ignorant but that everyone else knows everything.

3. Then you think you know everything and that everyone else knows everything too.

4. Later you realise that you know almost nothing.

5. Following that, you discover that everyone else knows nothing much either.

6. Finally it dawns upon you that all this knowing and unknowing doesn't really matter. It is all just blah.

:P

For another dose of such pointless wisdom, you may visit this old post ;).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Writing

I used to believe that the proper way of writing a story is to have it all formed in your mind, scene by scene, and then to narrate it beautifully.

But I could never do it that way. Spontaneous creation, with only a faint inkling of the plot, seemed to be the only way I was capable of writing. I considered myself all the more amateur because of that.

Only now I feel that my belief was a false imposition. Writing for me is not a process of narration, but a process of discovery! :)

Friday, November 02, 2012

Half-year's thoughts, some pontifications ;)

What?! Another post within the span of a month! Yes, seems like my mind finally has thoughts again. Not an exaggeration. It was pretty much blank for the previous many months. Okay, there did occur dreams occasionally, mostly about eating good variety of food (especially those that I had cut out of my diet :P) and maybe about going out of the house and roaming about in the city. But nothing much apart from those.

So I guess the mind being active again is an extremely good sign. I think we tend to underestimate the amount of energy used by our brains. We think it is all the muscles and stuff that eat up the food, but really, the brain needs much more. I could feel the stress involved in concentrating on anything beyond a cursory level. For example, reading anything for any amount of time was doable, but writing even small reply-mails seemed quite taxing.

Anyway, I thought I will make a small list of a few things I noticed over my stay back at home in Hyderabad, back in India, for the last 6 months.

@ Contrary to popular belief, a 'long-term' patient is not fond of entertaining questions about his/her health. Yes, it is true that the enquirers are only showing their concern and wishing them a speedy recovery, but the patient grows quite tired of repeating the same responses again and again to different people :P. Worsening matters, classifying recovery is such a subjective thing that often the patient has no clue about it either and hence is hesitant to reveal his/her ignorance :P.

# The body and mind are quite adaptive. They adjust to a routine even if the routine is outright outrageous. After a length of time, anything can feel normal. Only when the changes roll back, does one recognise the adaptation that had occurred . 

& Moving beyond self, let me now rant about others. Actually, in a way, it is still about me ;). I know that we Indians are not supposed to arrive on time. That it is a requirement to come at least 30 mins later than what you say, and fashionable to arrive at least a couple of hours late. I know all this pretty well. But still am unable to readjust! Despite my best efforts, I still end up getting ready on time and end up waiting to be picked up. That wait is never delicious. Or in the other cases, despite arriving at the venue quite late, or rather what I think is quite late, I still find myself the first one there. The other 6-8 people arrive even later! 

% English seems to much more in vogue during public intercourse than before. Or perhaps it is the same and I just didn't notice it earlier? Especially when people are talking to some staff person (like a sales person, waiter et al.), they tend to use English. Yeah, I know in Hyderabad, there is always the uncertainty over whether the other person is a Telugu or a Hindi/Urdu speaker. But that doesn't seem to be the reason behind this English explosion. People are just becoming 'posher' :P. However, strangely, I find myself addressing any staff-member in Hindi or Telugu rather than English. But does that result in me getting a lower quality of service, given that I use the vernacular? That's a question up for debate ;). 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Some Numbers


117 days since the last post -- a hiatus resulting partly from being miffed, and partly from finding it pointless to say anything.

11 months since that fateful day when it all came to the fore. Again. Would never have guessed the consequences.

5 months 9 days since I moved back home.

3 times I have managed to go out of the house to meet friends in this time.

7 books have been read. The last one too big to be read completely, being a collection of all the author's works.

5 different types of medical systems I have tried. One of which is of course conventional Allopathy :P.

4 weeks before I travel again :).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Atrophy

One day
Will be gone
You may look
You may wonder
Or may be not notice
But one day
I would have withered away.

Every day
An inch I disappear
Imperceptibly.
You may still rescue
And I may still remain
But would you?
Save me again?

PS - I guess this might end up being the blog birthday post! 8 years done .... how many more?

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Last Week


Dusting off the bags
Sorting through the shelves
Things you need
Things you want
And those to discard
But can't

A forlorn list of "to-do"
Many strikes and items few
Tasks, some still stubborn
Others mere wishes
And those you wanna do
But can't

Gatherings and rendezvous
Scheduled and still in plans
With some, just a last one
Others, maybe a couple more
And those to meet perpetually
But can't.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A 'Last Day'

Okay. So here we are finally. Am in office on my last official working day. Given that I actually haven't been to office since the day I resigned 4 weeks ago, and that I really had stopped working a long time before that, today is largely symbolical :P. Also I had to come in to return my card, laptop etc, say bye to people and perhaps collect a farewell gift ;).

Colleagues are surprised when they learn that I am not moving onto a new job but rather moving back to home country and doing nothing, at least for a few months. It still seems to fun to tell people of my plans, or rather the lack of them, and watch their expressions :D.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quit.

So I resigned from my job. The notice period of 4 weeks starts now, which basically means I will be paid for 4 more weeks for barely doing any work ;)

Let me explain before the bombardment of questions like: "found new job?", "what next?", "why?" et al.

I haven't found any new job and I do not know 'what next' in terms of my career. In fact, am not even that bothered about it right now. All I know is that in a month's time I shall be returning to Hyderabad and staying at home for a few months. How many? Again, I don't know :P

Several justifications do exist for this apparently radical decision --

£. Money? It is a myth that one needs to be continually employed. Why can't one work for just a while, save up some money, stop working and live on the savings until they are exhausted, then go back to work and repeat the cycle? Of course, it is not possible for everyone, but I have no responsibilities or commitments and I can afford to do this ;). Also having the safety net called family provides the required confidence for the step.

$. Health. There is the belief that going home will improve the health. This approach hasn't been verified and it may not work. However, staying at home will certainly relieve the stress of managing everything oneself. Being completely independent is actually quite fun but it is not that much fun any more when you are barely able to hold everything together. In the fairly ill periods, the idea of being back home seems very inviting, the familiarity and support reassuring. However, in the fairly okay periods, the happy self takes over and questions the logic of leaving behind my happening life here - all the friends, the gatherings, some of the comforts, the weather ;), the ground-breaking sky-shattering research work, etc - for some drab unexciting existence back home. In the end, I suppose the former sense prevailed.

Wow, my medical conditions can actually have a major influence on my career. I never looked at it that way, until now.

€. Job? It is not as if I was looking to continue in this job all my life. Plans to move onto something were always in the making. Just that nothing came up that was worth moving onto. Well, I seem to have decided to move on, nevertheless :P. Doesn't imply that I will end up finding awesome work next, but maybe it's better to move than being stuck in the doldrums - even if the doldrums are around a relaxing tropical paradise.

On that unusual extension to the clich├ęd metaphor, we shall end our 'dear diary' chat for today :P.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Move .. more or less ..

It is supposed to be scary. It does seem to scare others, at least, momentarily. It is supposed to be a big overhaul, and it certainly is. Perhaps more than most realise. Even I am yet to comprehend. Not even close.

Am I stepping out of a spiral or obliviously diving into one?

How often do such moments appear? Everything is running smoothly, at least superficially, and then all of a sudden.... No, there is no snap, no trigger. At most, there might have been a few hints of them, here and there. But somewhere in the back of the mind, things have been decided and so they will stand.

Unexpectedly, informing others only seems to strengthen the resolve rather than darkening the shadows of doubts.

Everything has to go, everything has to change, but for what? And why? These questions are unanswered and will remain so.

This is a step not to find answers but to confront self with a new set of questions. A rehaul of the array of challenges.

Will I regret it? Don't think I'll let that happen :)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Blank

To just listen
Blankly.

To stop wondering
What's here, what's happening
Fallen off desire
Nostalgic without memories
An amnesiac of dreams
To make the thoughts retire

Unanswered questions
Some painful assumptions
Lost, never owned
Possibilities seared, discarded
Yearning jeered, mocked
Perhaps, better alone...