Friday, July 21, 2006

A post of sadnessness

When I first came to know about the mumbai bomb blasts I was drininkg a chilled bottle of Singha Beer on the beach of the Phi- Phi Island in Thailand. I had logged on the the web to check out a few things and the details hit me. After I had read enough and seen enough, I logged out, went on the beach and began to cry.

There is a ghost haunting me more and more everyday. It is the guilt of inaction. As I read the news daily, I see much of the same thing. If it is not happening in Mumbai, then it is happening in Jammu. Or Imphal. Or Chattisghar. I don't see myself in the foreseeable future to kill someone. Then why would any sane person kill so many people? And sane they must be. How else could a person or persons carry out such an attack. What circumstances would push a person to such an extreme that he would kill others? And what could I have done to pull him back from that point? If the place he grew up in was bad, could i have done anything to make it a better one? If he had no friends as he grew up, could I have not done with another one? Could I have not made even a slight difference that he might have hesitated for another second over that button that blew the bombs?

I read in books that as kids grow up, they hope to make a difference. i don't think I ever did. I think I just wanted to be a fire man or in the navy and live the rest of my life in peace. As I grew up, I convinced myself that doing just that did in fact serve a bigger picture. That doing something just as simple as "your job" meant that you were infact making an impact. That when an software professional churns out a code, he is infact helping and contributing. The fact that the system is not working satisfactorily only means that someone else is not doing his job correctly.

But as time goes by, I am not so sure of myself. If the above case was true, if someone is doing less of a job then should i not be doing more then my job. Of course not. Why should I? But "Could " I not be doing more then my job? Then why am I not? Why this inertia? I think I have the tools for making a contibution. The system that I want to correct must surely have provided me with those tools. I am not very happy with my education. I only finished high school. But I do have more then 10 years of professional experience. Surely that must count in something. I am an ordinary person. I did not fight in the face of adversity to get all of that. The system gave it to me. But then why does this same system encourage me to be inert?

And it is the system that makes me inert. It makes us all inert. Why else do my brother and Sister-in-law, two of the most gifted people I know, not do anything? Why else does my father, a retired air force officer, not do anything? Why else does my cousin, who did his post graduation from IIT, not do anything? Why are bombs explopding? Why are farmers killing themselves? why are people dying of hunger? Why am refusing to do anything about it?

Puja my wife was a bit concerned with my crying. She patted my back and said that she too felt bad about the dead people. I wanted to tell her that I didn't give a rats arse about the dead people. I was crying at my impotency.

A postcard from hell

A few people that do know me, are well aware of my rather irritating habit of sending postcards. The act of receiving postcards inevitable means a trip to the garbage bin. Some like my year old niece Leela, actually eat up my postcards to avoid any nausea to the garbage man.
On my visit to the Hellfire pass memorial yesterday, I came across the postcards that the allied prisoners Of War were allowed to send across to their families. This was an actual postcard send by an allied POW. There were four pieces of paper kept in the display. The first was this postcard.

The second was a letter by the war records dept to the chaps house saying that they had received a letter from the Pvt and that he was in Camp No 2 in Japanese custody.

The third was a letter from the war dept to the family saying that they sincerely regretted to inform them that George had died in Japanese captivity.

The fourth piece was a commendation for George from the australian govt that he died heroically and that his sacrifice would not be forgotten.

As I looked at the postcard, I was simply stunned at the sort of thoughts that must be passing through the person writing and receiving such a card.

I cried.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Dad! Get your own Handle !

Normally I consider myself a normal person. That others disgree with me normally is not my lookout. But that they generally disagree is getting more and more clear to me. After much study of my sorroundings I am getting a clearer picture of why this might be.

Tkae for instance my blog on the purchase of mobile phone purchase , a couple of days later, we find "Velu" commenting,
"very very good . Terrific humor . Rolled around laughing . Velu , you make me laugh .Thanks !"

I am a sucker for compliments, but this has to be against some moral law.

The mystery is somewhat resolved when the other day, on my blog for carrie Velu writes,
"I am the one person to visit velu's blog in the last decade . am extremely interested in every thing he does , you see I happen to be his dad . That is not the only reason , we really like his style of prose !!! Extremely readable , even if we say so !!!!"

Is velu his own dad? Is the dad velu? Is velu and his dad the same person? If so why are they not using different handles?


Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Longtail boat

There is something definitely ingenious about a device that might hide in any of your body cavity and yet be able to transmit audio or video images to the other end of the globe. Images hopefully not of your body cavity. But the fact that these divices exist are great. But Local adaptations technology for daily use always fascinate me. Take for example the humble tractor in India. The tractor has probably been used for ploughing, digging roads, searching for water, as an generator, as a joyride and so many other uses that one actually forgets what the original purpose of that thing might have been.

Out here in Thailand I have been duly impressed by the longtail boat. Granted that my record for being impressed is rather poor. I must admit that I might have been over zelously impressed in the case of the Centiped Necklace, but the longtail boats are impressive on any scale.

These humble boats, are the only means of island hopping in this part of the andamans. You might very well catch a glossy ferry from Phuket to Phi phi, but if you need to even get from the jetty to your resort, you need to get in one of these very uninspiring peices of wood. Uninspiring they might be, but supremely confident the boat boys seem to be. Nothing else could explain the total lack of life vests in these things.

As a man of the sea I actually found these rather neat. You see, the problem that we mariners generally face in while going astern. This is because we invariably lose steering as the propeller turns in reverse. This leads to rather cumbersome engine movements as we try not to bang the ship in one of your pretty houses. But in the case of the longtail boat, the endine, propeller and the rudder are one fused unit. this actually allows excellent steering qualities to the boat as she goes astern. There are actually new design of tugs coming out these days that actually feature this quality. Pretty neat.

And the thing with the accelerator is neat too. You would think that the guy would have his hands full with the full rudder mechanism. But actually, if you look at the accompanying pictures (that felt so cool to say), youll see that they actually hold this thread that controls the fel supply to the engine. so with just a tug of his thumb, this dude can churn out som amazing moves out of the boat.

And nothing beats the feeling of bumping along on the sea with a outboard motor going at full rev and the wooden boards beneath you creaking their protest with every wave. I am not very sure how enjoyable the longtail boats are going to be out in nice weather, but these babies are some neat machines to take out when the weather is acting a bit of a bitch.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Beached off the Riley beach

The thing with going to remote location, is that you have to have good luggage management. If I had not realized this when I went to the Phi Phi Islands, it was definitely impressed on me when I reached the Riley Beach.

Like the Phi Phi Islands, Riley beach boasts of not being connected to any other part of the world by any means other then a boat. It also boasts of having high speed internet and a cable television, but usually these two boasts are not made in the same breath.

We caught the boat from Koh Phi phi in the afternoon. It was probably a good thing that we were leaving. The weather wasn't too good, and by the afternoon, it was pouring steadily. After another eventful loangtail boat ride, we were dropped off at the Jetty. The boat that was to take us to the Riley beach did not really inspire much confidence. It was really a small affair compared to the one that had dropped us at Phi Phi. But with bold leaps we went onboard. Puja's first move onboard was of course to check out puking locations on the vessel. But surprisingly, the boat behaved rather well and to our mutual shock, puja refused to vomit anywhere on the boats corroded surface. Infact we even went off to sleep with the gentle swaying until we were roused by the shouts for the people of Riley beach to get down.

"Getting down" was going to be a problem because on coming overside we were found to be still a few miles off the shore and disembarking in a meter of waves into a long tail boat that seemed to defy Arcemedes. I must confess I am getting to rather like these longtail boats. A most fun ride it was. Until the point that the boat stopped.

The boat stopped about a half mile off the shore because as the boat guy pointed out to me, the water ran out. He had a point there. The bloody beach is so gently sloping that at low tide, the sea recedes way back into the horizon. here I was pointing to my two huge bags (a rucksack and a samsonite) and there was the boat guy generally muttering some thing uncomplimentary.

I faintly remember a samsonite ad where this woman is walking with a nice red colored case in a boardroom meeting while all the men turn around looking at her. I think I'd like to see her beached half a mile off the riley beach in a long tail beach.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The five commandments of purchasing Mobile phones in India

#1 : Barter does exist : Bring all your old cell phones along. Start a charity drive for orphans of kappala & collect old mobilephones in your locality. Phone does not work? No problem. May explode on contact? Even better. Has a nude girl as wall paper? Premium. For every old mobie phone you push across the counter, he will put the price down a couple of thousand. Put across ten & he may even give it to you for free. Put across twenty & he'll surely give you mug-shots of his kids. Take these mug shots back home as living proof of yet more of the kappala orphans.

#2 : A receipt is an insult. : Since all indian establishments are named "Something something AND SONS", by demanding an receipt, you are possibly asking the man for proof of the name of the establishment. Which means you are definitely accusing him of being an Bastard. He will charge you three thousand extra for this. Atleast. This is the prime reason why we Indians keep spitting all the time. When we spit, we are actually remembering the last time some dirty foreigner asked us for a receipt & called us a bastard. Ask him first how much the mobile costs. He will tell you a price. Look meaningfully at him & ask him how much it costs without a receipt. He will look meaningfully at you & tell you another price. Do not look meaningfully at him if you are a woman. If you then look meaningfully at him, he will be only too glad to reduce the price & then at the conclusion of the deal there will be some confusion on the nature of the deal.

#3 : Body is just a vessel for the Soul : Such is our belief. Soul is interchangable. So are mobile phone circuitries. Make sure that the mobile phone he gives you is in a sealed package. Like the hymens of Saudi women, these will not be a sure indication of their virtue. Make sure you open them & check that the serial number on the inside of the phone is the same as that mentioned on the cover.

#4 : No interest is in your interest.: Do not appear interested in the purchase of the mobile phone. Infact pretend to puke at the sight of mobile phones. This will induce the shopkeeper to offer you the phone at a much lesser price then he would a person who really looked like he needed a phone. You might wonder, with what apparent purpose should one enter a mobile phone shop, if one apparently hates the sight of mobile phones. The answer, like all Indian riddles is simple. In all Indian mobile phones, you will find giant pictures of Lord Ganesha or Pamela Anderson. Some shops have both. Enter the shops with the sole apparent purpose of paying obiesence to these curvaceous figures and in between the faked gasps of your retching, casually ask the price of a few mobile phones.

#5: You are an sucker & will get suckered : Do not worry. Do not hate. The seller is just doing his karma. You will get screwed in the deal. That is your karma. we all have a part to play in this world.

Play yours.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Thanks to Carrie

What do you know? Carrie actually put my blog as a link on her blog. This has to be the best day in my blogging life. To Carrie, thank you. I am most honored. Even if you were tweaking around with your HTML settings and all. Thankyou all the same. You are probably one of the two people who saw my blog in the last decade.

to the other chap, if you ever return, please check out the infrequent musings of carrie .

The choice of an honeymoon destination

The thing about making a honeymoon trip to thailand. Its entirely astonishing. People just can't understand why someone would want to drag his new wife to thailand. If sex was the option, then that could have been provided by the hospitable natives in manners as yet unparrelled by any single wife. If solitude was the desired medium, then surely India provided you with enough sites to keep you without social company till you lost all your vestigial organs related with speech. But no. You had to upset the natural order of things and have an honeymoon at Thailand.

The first problem that and Indian couple faces is conversational crisis.

"So have you two decided on a place for Honeymoon?"
"Yeah. We're going to Thailand."
"... Oh!how nice...."
" Yes I suppose it is."
"Have you tried the Paneer Bhurji?"
"Oh yes! I was telling your mother that she just has to teach me..."
And so it goes.

To the few who actually ask me why thailand, I simply tell them that the only other place then bangkok that international flights from Nagpur go to, is Sharjah.

And that was too bloody hot.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The art of disconnecting the phone

I have been accused of a lot of things. Of the other mundane accusations, my friends have accused me of dreaming to take over the world. And my family has repeatedly accused me of doing nothing about that dream. But to that large and distressing list of accusations was added the sad fact I did not know how to disconnect the phone.

This was an understandably troublesome revelation. On first thoughts, I thought that this was a perfect explanation for my large phone bills. On the other hand, it was probably the reason why not many people call me twice. I very probably often say rather uncomplimentary things to people after disconnecting the phone.

But no. My charming accuser was infact accusing me of lacking the etiquette of disconnecting the phone with good manners. Apparently I disconnect the phone abruptly.

I was lost here. How do you possibly disconnect the phone slowly? I apparently just say "Bye" and disconnect the phone.Its not like a train farewell. You can't take people to the phone and then chat for a while with a chai cup talking about the weather. Then you can't amble along slowly with the train-like, gradually going for a jog along the window waving your arms franatically till the train disappears in all the steam, mist and the crowd of people defecating by the tracks. You just can't do that.

While this is a perfectly acceptable means of telecommunication, apparently this is not allowed when I am speaking to "her". To her, we need to end the conversation in a manner befitting the closeness. To make amends with immediate effect, I asked her to disconnect the connection this time. I ofcourse can not reproduce the conversation verbatim (due to threat of castration- which I still hold will be self defeating).

"So then Bye."
"Well what?"
"...Er.. Arn't you going to cut the phone?"
"Hmph! you are an idiot. "

I am not really sure if that was a conversation that I was meant to reproduce on the next conversation. These things are always so confusing.

In retort to my train metaphor, she says that even though the telephone disconnections might be more akin to the aeroplane goodbyes, yet the person in the plane ought to feel that someone on the ground might just be waving at the plane in the sky.

Do people wave at your plane?