Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ambition

The other day, a really good friend of mine taunted me for not upgrading my car yet. He even remarked that my father was so much more constantly on top of new gadgets out in the market, whereas I was sticking with the old and the dusted and wasn't really enjoying life.

There's not much basis to the more material things mean more enjoyment statement. Once your basic needs are met, I feel the rest are all clutter. His statements however put me into a really introspective mood on what I really wanted in life. Not surprising, cause I really don't need a excuse to start the introspection engine these days. A few years ago I had a ambition of making a lot of money, becoming famous, owning a mercedes. I was working relentlessly carving out a name for myself in my work circle. And today, where's that drive? That ambition?

I had a revelation some time back when I was tinkering around with the piano. That all the money in this world cannot make me play this instrument beautifully, it's just my own time and practice that can. It's difficult to arrive at such a revelation until you actually sit in front of the piano and try to play with your hands together. It's only then the sheer magnitude of difficulty strikes you and then you strain every nerve in yourself to make it work and when it does, it's sheer joy, joy beyond what you would have experienced anywhere. The experience was so surreal that I described my sensations to a musically inclined friend and asked him what it meant and he laughed and explained that I had just felt the equivalent of a musical orgasm.

Maybe money can buy the best teachers, best books, but one still can't drill musical knowledge into oneself. Well, they probably can if you are Neo and you are inside the matrix movie. Forget my hatch, I don't even remember when I last upgraded my wardrobe. If I look at people who have been inspirational, Ilayaraja, Einstein, all of them had minimal wardrobes. That Steve Jobs always wore his trade mark turtleneck sweater mostly dwarfs his collection in theory, however large it might have been in practice. I read somewhere that Einstein had just 4 suits and that they were all alike because he didn't want to waste time deciding what to wear. I am not sure if the story is true, but it resonates with me and agrees with my own portrayal of Einstein's character.

We all live finite lives averaging around 70 years. Do I want to waste this finite time here figuring out day after day what I want to wear? I guess not. I think unless you devote every second that you can muster to your interests/passions, our lives are limited to a short time span here. If we want to truly immortalize us, we need to treat time as the only thing we have and spend it wisely. In the pursuit of such a path with some talent and luck probably lies immortality. Einstein will live forever in our memories and the generation after ours and after theirs and ever. Ilayaraja too, Malaysia Vasudevan too, for who else could render such a soul striking melody like 'kodai kaala kaatre' like he did? Immortality - How's that for ambition?

Listen to this song with headphones. Crank up the volume as much as you can so you can discern every note that's being played and you will see how beautiful this melody is.





Thursday, October 25, 2012

The lure of facebook

A lot of people continue to be surprised that am not on the Facebook and have never been. I was at a tumultuous phase in my life, where I was finding it extremely challenging to balance real relationships in the real world and it seemed rather silly to act out the ideal sort of a guy in a silly virtual world, where you grow silly virtual farms and poke at each other. I deleted my orkut account also during the same time and that formed the beginnings of the coup de resistance.

Over time though, there's been this incessant barrage of pressures to join this world, where somehow the whole of Earth including my loving family and relatives that I don't want to be associated with ever have all converged. Some friends would show me photographs and comments posted by their friends on their wall. Some others would mock me as anti-social. One friend even remarked that she would find it difficult to be in touch with me after her marriage because I was not on Facebook. (Is this what communication has reduced to? What-ever happened to good old e-mail?)
I would get frequent reminders from friends on joining. Facebook itself would be sending me these e-mails about joining the bandwagon every now and then, courtesy people I've been wanting to avoid anyway. Pages on the Internet would lead me to a Facebook page, that would have absolutely no hesitation in enlisting me to join. Googling for people on the internet would pretty much lead me to their Facebook page, which I couldn't see in complete detail because I was not part of this privileged parallel universe.

A Parallel universe ... It's always seemed like a parallel universe to me. I think we are worse off for it for it brings us in greater contact with people we are especially trying to avoid. In the real world if you don't like someone, you aren't exactly confronted with having to bring that fact out. In this world there are however no such choices. An innocuous friend request from someone you are trying to avoid can't just be laughed away. You accept at your own peril. You reject at your own peril. Your neutral stance comes with it's own set of peril.

Apart from the initial motivation for the resistance, there's of course been the constant scare of privacy issues, your likes being tracked, your non-likes being tracked (Why the heck are you not liking anything), settings being constantly changed and with each passing day, it just became more of a experiment to see how much I could resist joining it.

Maybe I am missing a lot. Maybe I am not leading the perfect life by posting photographs about how cool my life is, how eventful it is, how loving my family is, how everyone gifts me something, the exotic cuisines am trying at the moment. It's both sickening and saddening seeing people's advertised attempts at leading out the perfect life. Does the perfect life really need such constant advertising as well as constant approvals in the form of likes and comments from others? Do we really do all this in the real world? I mean do you really call up everyone in the real world and tell them that you are currently cutting your 1 year old daughter's finger nails and that it qualifies as one of the toughest jobs? What's this pressing need to tell everyone what we are doing at the moment? Instead why don't we just live out the moment just for it's own beauty? How do we ever hope to be in a flow like experience as defined by mihaly csikszentmihalyi, if all we are worried about is how that moment is going to be perceived by others, by how many comments/likes we are going to get?

If I were an advertiser, Facebook would make perfect sense to me. If I was running a business, I might have made my presence on it and in the same vein I guess if I wanted to advertise my life, it does actually make sense, which is sort of ironical because people always complain about there being too much advertising in this world!

For leading a regular life that more closely mirrors the importance of living out each moment for it's own joy, I don't know. I think I would be a whole lot better off with just E-mail and something like Flickr/picasa.

And when I think of myself being free of a universe that confines and binds almost most of Earth's inhabitants, I feel free and I feel happy. Maybe it's 'cause am a libran.

P.S. I did try twitter for I was intrigued by the charm of the 140 character limit, but stopped tweeting due to the constant intrusion of spam followers and I am on Google+. I was/am using a lot of Google services and it just sort of made sense to use one more, not that am a heavy user of it anyway. 
I am not on Linked-in for I don't see any need to network professionally and build up a host of recommendations. I would rather let my work speak for itself.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Forgiveness

A friend who's not been very honest with me in the past called me and wished me on my birthday. I had cut off links from her a while back due to her not being very honest with me. I mean, what do you really do with a person who does not answer pointedly direct questions? and yet here she was calling me on my birthday. I didn't take the call as I was caught up in something, but I called her back.
 She was adamant that I not talk about the thing that had caused the friction between us in the first place. Her attitude was that she hadn't done any wrong. Her contention was that it's not ok to lie, but it's ok to hide the truth. Well, apparently it's ok to hide the truth even if asked a very direct question! People! Strangely enough during the conversation, my anger melted away and I began conversing more normally with her. Now that could only mean one of two things.
Either I've grown to become very forgiving or am just plain dumb (read nice).

I even remarked to her, maybe I look like someone who goes around with a sign on his forehead saying it's ok to trample me, cause I'll eventually forget about it. I dunno what I really am, but I guess I've grown more accommodating over the years. Maybe that's why they say, time heals everything.

Whatever...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Black Money

There's uproar in the country about bringing back the black money that's stashed abroad. As usual not surprisingly everyone is missing the point. It is not without reason they say, 'prevention is better than cure.' So why doesn't our economy behave in a way that it's impossible (or at least makes it very hard) to generate black money?

Here are two scenarios where black money is generated and possible solutions.

Land Registration
So there's a guidance value of x Rs/sqft for a specific area. Now this 'x' was probably set a long time back (order of maybe 3-5 years back). Real estate is very volatile and using 'x' as the basis to compute tax is probably not ideal. It's no secret that people quote just about 'x' even if they have paid as much as 3x for a specific property. When I bought a property I quoted it all in 'white' and paid a size able amount for registration and stamp duty and during the same day when I was at the registrar office, I could of course see other apartments in my own complex with exactly the same size being quoted for much lesser and I believe that I got a reasonable rate for my own apartment that I refuse to believe that anyone else buying at the same time paid drastically lesser than me. So black money was generated. How could it have been avoided?

Now is this really a problem that can't be solved with centralized software? There's too much power with the people working at the registrar offices. Move this power from the people into the software and all we really need are clerks who work with the software to help the common man, as R K Laxman would poignantly put it. Can't a software intelligently arrive at a appropriate guideline value based on recent transactions, yearly appreciation, year of the property, area guideline, builder reputation, amenities offered etc? It would be complex, but it's definitely do-able and all it needs is one guy who does "white" transactions to catch all the "black" stuff and automatically impose penalties.

Of course this can be abused.
What if the Govt. gamed the system by creating a really pricey transaction and fed it into their centralized system through the back end? Maybe the MPs have been brushing on their SQL skills!
How do we tackle this now? Hmm maybe we don't need to. This would have simply driven up the guideline value by a exorbitant amount that the property with taxation is now simply unaffordable and hence there are no buyers and in the long run the Govt loses more taxes if there are lesser transactions. If the gaming increased the rates marginally, then the property would be affordable though the number of buyers start dwindling as it goes higher and higher again leading to lesser transactions. Am not a economist, but I believe that gaming the system might prove more detrimental than beneficial.

Movie Theater Tickets
You've seen touts at some point in time selling movie tickets. I saw a recent press release that Ek Tha Tiger's first day tickets were sold at 700Rs for a 100 Rs. ticket. It's become a way of life that it's being reported as a matter of fact. Do you know why touts exist? It's really simple. Think hard. No? Think again. Give up? It's really simple. No?
Have you ever wondered why the ticket counters selling the movie tickets are outside? Ok forget it, now think of the airport - how would one go through immigration? You walk up to a person who checks your papers and then allows you through past that person. All one needs is a similar system for movie theaters and the tout problem is gone, for ever. What we need are "theater toll booths". Have you ever seen touts selling the passes for the toll booths on the highways? Exactly. All we need is to change the design of the God damn building!

These solutions are of course not perfect (nothing on the first try ever is), but I believe the focus really needs to be more on preventing the generation of black money.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Existential Crisis

I am going through an existential crisis. I know it. Not that am able to do much about it, though. Today when I walked out, the weather was dreamy. I thought it would be rather pleasant to look upwards and not have to bear the brunt of the Sun. The sky was gray and like seeing through a 3-D stereo-gram, when I tried to look beyond it, I thought of the Rover on Mars. When you are able to visualize things from a perspective so high, it draws the fact of one's own miniscule nature so lucidly that there's just no escaping it. What the heck was I doing here on Earth anyway?

So it was in this mood, I asked a friend what the purpose of life was yet again. This friend has always had an air of a philosophy about him and he gave me a response that I really liked to hear.

"The purpose of life is to lead a life where you don't have to ask such a question."

For some reason that really resonated with me. There was one tiny problem with it though - I have no clue what such a life would consist of. I have tried immersing myself in activities am passionate about, opening myself to experiences I wouldn't have dreamt about, questioning beliefs I hold strongly in my heart and yet invariably after some time, I wind up at the same point again and forced to confront the forbidden question again and again.

So I turned to this friend again and asked him and his response was that I was a very inquisitive analytical person and that I would figure it out eventually. As if I wasn't weighed down enough by the question, I now have to bear the burden of expectations too.

Where does one start?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Observations & solutions

In India, people like to advertise their kid's names at the back of their cars for whatever joy. I guess someone started the trend with his one kid. It caught on. Soon we had people advertising that they had two kids and then of course the names of all 4 kids on the 4 available corners of the poor rear windscreen. Population control can go to hell. It's quite the rage now.
My response to them all is to hold on until the day I put up my entire family tree tracing back 10 generations on the window of my car! Ha beat that!

If there's a queue people will jump it. Queues at office canteens, the bank ATM, for restrooms. What's more they give such preposterous reactions and responses when you confront them.
I really wish something called Karma existed, cause I don't see much evidence of it. Day after day I see people jumping queues in front of me and fighting with them every day takes such a toll on oneself
Here's how I wish God had created people or if he didn't the way the human body should have worked. When people do something like this, there's a small decrement to their overall Karma factor and that's displayed on their forehead. Just a positive or a negative sign followed by a number. I think just being able to see someone commit a act like jumping a queue and it instantly being recorded so visibly is reward enough for me to not confront the jumper. 

And for the offender, nothing like waking up on a bright sunny day and seeing in the mirror that your karma is at (minus) -34334934934394394934934934939434.34934393434 :) The mirror will probably need to be spooked so that it doesn't read backwards, but let's save that issue for another day.
 
Imagine the number of things that would become easier for everyone if our bodies worked like that. Instead most of us are so content with virtual karma on silly social networking sites. The whole concept of Karma needs to be driven by one's moral fiber, by our own conscience and if that says it's ok to jump a queue when others are waiting, there's something really really wrong with us.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Things to do

Fitness
  • Run the Bangalore 10K run in 2013 in under 55 mins. 
    • 2012 run - 84 mins - mission to complete it without any training accomplished
  • Do 50 consecutive push-ups.
    • Jul 2012 - best is 33 consecutive pushups
  • Learn swimming
  • Climb Everest
Sports
  • A perfect game in 10 pin bowling.  
    • Jul 2012 - As of this day, best is 191. Average hovering around 120. shucks. How does one hook with a house ball and a conventional grip?
Soul
  • Learn the piano well enough to play "I am a pirate" soundtrack
  • Compose a song
Programming
  • HEQL in Clojure and ANTLR
  • Mig2 in Clojure

Monday, April 9, 2012

Quotes

These are quotes I strongly feel about. Some of them, I made up. Some are adapted and yet others I blatantly stole.

- Not to worry. If 2012 doesn't kill us, relationships will. If relationships don't kill us, love will. If love doesn't kill us, the memories will and if the memories don't kill us, those haunting thoughts would definitely do the job

- Funny how we can live in a planet inhabited by 7 billion people and still feel lonely

- Funny how we live surrounded by water and don't have access to clean drinking water in most parts of the world

- I am not what my parents think I am. I am not what my parents think I should be either. I am me

- Love exists. I know cause I have been at the giving end. Manipulation also exists. I know cause I have been at the receiving end

- I keep hearing love and marriage are two different things. So I wonder why marry at all?

- It's remarkably difficult to live alone

- To Hell and beyond
Adapted from 'To infinity and beyond'- Buzz Lightyear's line

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On matrimonial sites

Having spent some time on matrimonial sites (unsuccessfully!), I have a few interesting observations.

1. Most people are clue-less about what the term 'broad minded' means.

Here's an example.
"I am a broad-minded, happy person. I am looking for someone who's also a Iyer, but should not be my gothra. The following stars (x,y,z,...) are acceptable."

I am not really sure what people still see in castes. I don't have one clue about what it is that I do as part of my daily life that's unique to my caste and differentiates me from the rest of the world. Fact is I'll probably ditch it, the moment I do find something. Funnily enough my parents to whom all these things matter aren't exactly able to answer this question convincingly enough. The Brahmins want only other Brahmins. The Mudaliyars want only other Mudaliyars. Brahmin Iyers want only other Brahmin Iyers. Brahmin Iyengars want only other Brahmin Iyengars. So I figured to look for some one who claims to be broad minded and have some probability of them actually being so, I had to look for people who advertised caste-no-bar in their profile. I did find a lot of profiles for this filter, though it soon dawned on me that the Brahmin Iyengars mark caste-no-bar to indicate they are fine with the Brahmin Iyers and vice versa! So well they sort of came out of their Iyengar well and embraced the Iyer well. Still doesn't work for me, though cause am not a Brahmin at all! So why am I looking at Brahmins? Cause they seem to be the only ones who seem to articulate about themselves reasonably well. Well, too many wells here!

2. Horoscopes are a big deal
No a really big deal. Say the above slowly until it sinks in...

So I got a interest from one seemingly liberal profile. So I accept thinking I could now correspond with her only to be confronted by a stubborn mom who insists on horoscope matching out of the blue. Ok fine. Here you go. Pass me yours. So it turns out she's a Manglik (Tamil: Chevvai dosham. - Apparently the prominent presence of mars in one's horoscope and a trait that makes an individual very aggressive and ruthless. Ok I cooked up the ruthless part. Anyways astrologers say Mangliks should marry only other Mangliks) and basic star was not matching. After talking with my parents and ascertaining that they were actually fine if I wanted to proceed, I go and talk to this stubborn mom laying down all facts and wanting to proceed to the stage where I could finally talk with her daughter. This stubborn mom insists that since my parents think she's a Manglik when she's not(as per their astrologer) it will lead to complications later. And she lays down a side note, since basic star is not matching, we'll not proceed. I then called bullshit on her (though quite diplomatically), defended my parents for the first time and made her look like a total fool in front of my own eyes. If you don't want to proceed, fine, just don't enact a drama about being broad-minded and liberal when you are way off lady!


3. There are then the very scary characters that say "wanted only genuine people who are looking for a quick marriage."
My only wish is to respond to these "... and a quicker divorce", sadly there's only the 'express interest' button which hmm doesn't exactly convey what I think about what they write.

4. Eventually you hit upon one tiny thing, one tiny weeny thing that frustrates the hell out of you. Like Seinfeld and the one-at-a-time peas episode.

5. People start with 'n' restrictions. Enough time passes, 'n' becomes smaller and smaller as it tends towards zero. The key to a happy married life is probably if 'n' is zero, but I doubt most people would even let 'n' get into single figures. I have a small list that starts with, "The value of 'n' for the other person should not be > 5" and most simply fail that.

6. A couple of years back someone called me superficial and shallow for asking her if she would change her hair style and learn some basic dining etiquette. I've since apologized for the hurt caused, but then I ask myself, who am I kidding? Would I be really willing to be with someone who admits to not knowing how to hold a fork and one who didn't bother to even try all of 26 years? I guess not.


I think you need a completely different mindset if you want to get married through a matrimonial site or through other arranged marriage channels. I can see myself readily forgoing all my "n" criteria, if I just blindly fall in love again, for then I know that there's something for me to hold on - what I feel for the other person, but without that there's nothing else to hold except those "n" restrictions and without a hold, I just feel like am falling and crashing... Maybe that's the key. To let go totally and not need to hold on to anything, but then that would mean, I could just walk out on the street and get married to the first willing person. What if l discover later that she eats her peas one at a time? :)