Friday, February 29, 2008

New Semester

The first weekend of semester no.8 is here.

After a 6 week long vacation it was back to classes again on monday. It snowed the first day of the new semester and it reminded me of how it always rained the first day of school back home in India.
After hearing all the stories about the weather during the vacations, I was glad that I had decided to go down to India this winter. Last sunday the topic of discussion was slothfulness, something that had great meaning in my life for sure. Even though I didn't agree with everything that was said it was a much needed reminder of what we should be doing.
As usual, I have set myself some goals for this semester and I hope I can meet them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lessons for a Tour Guide

Lessons for a Tour Guide or What I learned from India when I travelled with Non-Indians.

My time travelling in India with my American friends was productive in more ways than one. Other than of course the joy of visiting different places, I got to learn a lot more.
One of the unofficial slogans during our time together was "Make your dreams come true". Not everyone had a dream in the first place and some had to live out others' dreams for them. My designated dream, well aim actually, was to get in touch with my roots. And I did quite well if I should say so myself. Here are some of the things I learned.

1. I figured out that the head wobble is a wide spread phenomenon. And that I did it too. I was told though, that I didn't do it in China, and it probably came as a surprise to my friends who saw me wobble my head to everything when I was in Kerala. Well, at least it surprised me.

2. When Genies are done with their three wishes they come to India for a happy retired life. If you don't believe me, ask Brad, he knows all about it. How else can you explain all those strange non- Indian beings wearing Genie pants?

3. Strange Indians think that strange foreigners have strange tastes. eg. Giant balloon sellers.

4. When you travel with foreigners, you are almost never considered a tourist unless you ask 'tourist' questions with your foreigner friend in view. This usually makes them answer in English.
But once you start talking with someone they are really friendly. In fact they become so friendly that they want to tell you lots and lots of things. And they also want to tell you what they think of foreigners and start describing previous encounters with the 'strange ones', not all of which are very flattering.

5. I noticed that in India, people like to wave at everyone. This is probably something that comes very naturally because I remember waving like crazy at everyone, whenever we used to go on trips. Maybe it's the Indian traveller thing to do.

6. It is a great thing to be able to understand what the local is saying, even if they don't know that you do.

7. Many tourists have a certain image of India in their minds which they love to re-create once they are actually there. We call them strange people with strange ideas. But sometimes, when you look at things from their point of view, you are not so sure anymore... maybe just 85% sure.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Song A Week I

I know I should be posting here regularly and now I've come up with an idea to do just that. Each week I'll upload a song I like. Yes, it's the easy way out but then I can tell myself that I am indeed updating this place regularly.
So I had to decide which song would officially kick start this "A Song A Week" fixture and I thought of the Beatles. But making a desicion about which song to play was really hard. There are a lot of Beatles songs I like though I finally picked "Yesterday". This was the first Beatles song I heard, just before they released "1", which of course I bought without another thought.
This song really made a good first impression but that's not my only reason to choose this song. I generally like sad songs and this is just so good! The music and lyrics are not only beautiful but they also captivate you in their simplicity.
"Yesterday, All my troubles seemed so far away, Now it looks as though they're here to stay..."
And this makes me smile - "Why she had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say..."
All in all a very good song. 10 out of 10 for you!

Literary ventriloquist... the follow up

I saw an article in The Times of India yesterday. Looks like another addition to the list of people who can 'read' minds.

"An author has produced a book in which he imagines the thoughts of famous couples while they are having sex, his subjects include Britain's Prince and Princess of Wales, Bill and Hillary Clinton and George and Laura Bush" Other couples he has written about in the book include "...Adam and Eve; Bonnie and Clyde; Attila the Hun and his 12th wife; King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn; and even Santa Claus and a female elf." Cheap publicity trick? As it turns out though, this American author is the 1993 Pulitzer prize winner Robert Butler who denies doing any of this to stir up controversies. He says, "It is a rendering of the inner consciences of these people, a way into the inner selves of the characters." Right... but wait, there's more. "Two years ago he published Severance, short stories imagining the final thoughts of decapitated heads, based on scientific evidence that the brain keeps functioning for up to 60 seconds after the head has been severed from the body. His characters included Marie Antoinette, John the Baptist, a victim of Al Qaida and a dragon slain by St.George" He has "...always agreed with WB Yeats, who said that sex and death are the only things that can interest a serious mind." "Severence was my death book; Intercourse is my sex book"

Are you serious??

This is the link for the original article But we aren't really talking about the same thing... their focus is mainly on whether we are invading the privacy of Charles and Diana.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Behind every famous Author there is a Critic

Have you ever seen movies that don't seem to make any sense at all and are really very boring? We call them art films and those are the ones which win all the National awards. Any why? Some super intellectual person decides that if it's so hard to understand it must have some deep seated meaning and so it's an excellent movie. That's what happens most of the time, or at least that's what I think happens most of the time.
With books it's even worse. There have been lots and lots of books which went unread in their time and whose authors starved to death. But half a century later some guy decides that the book is worth more than it's weight in gold because it is an exposé of the human nature in disco lights or whatever else pops into his confudled head. And if that guy is influencial enough, people buy into his largely confusing interpretation and certify that the said book is indeed a masterpiece and start raising funds so that they can erect a statue of the said author in front of their local libraries.
And this is mostly true of poems. All those old classics are pretty good; as long as you have someone to explain them to you. The critics are so brilliant! They not only explain the poem and it's ever present importance and connection with the modern society, they also tell you in what state the poet was when he penned those lines. They can draw parallels between anything and everything. They can even tell you what the poet had for lunch. They can tell you everything except the name of the poet, which unfortunately was lost somewhere along the way. Without the critics, those 'great' works would probably just be worth their weight in firewood.

But I do wish I had my own super cool critic friend, who could find all sorts of hidden meaning in everything I write; who could read between lines, phrases and words and portray such a wonderful picture that even I would be stunned at my abilities.
Yes, that's what I'm going to do; befriend a critic.

The Pretenders - I'll Stand By You

"...Nothing you confess, could make me love you less..."

My first time uploading a video... lets see how it works. Just thought it should be this song because it gets mentioned in the previous post ;)
The video let me down though :( They really should come up with an alternate video coz I really like this song!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ode to Moonlight

Not the moonlight, to Moonlight.
Ode to Moonlight. Hmm... that would make an interesting poem. If only I had some major poetic revelation or inspiration I could have done justice to the title. But alas, words fail me. I cannot seem to think creatively.
I look up at the moon. Just past its half now, and yet so bright. I think I'm in love with the moon. That's decided then, Moonlight - my Valentine for 2008.
The Breeze is here again. I like you too. But Moonlight already has my heart.
Poor Moonlight. I wonder how many people have romanced her... and gotten over her. Will I be just another in her long list of lovers? Maybe I should sing her "I'll stand by you" by the Pretenders. But I know I cannot, because I know I'll change. I'll leave her behind soon. I'm sure I would always come back, I always do. But I am sure I will leave, I always do. I know she deserves much better treatment. No, not a better person, just better treatment. Even a bad man can treat someone well. "It's what you do that defines you, not what you are deep down inside" haha thanks Batman ;)
I must not slip into monotonous monologies... she is still here, shining down on me. Maybe I love her because she is soft and the light she casts is just enough to cast shadows. It's a... blurry light. It helps to differentiate things and yet merges things, unites things. She is white and everything else is grey - shades of grey. Even the shadows are grey.
It's getting chilly now. I can feel the cold creeping up on me. I should go in. No point sitting outside and catching a cold. I leave. I am leaving. I am leaving her. So much for "I'll stand by you". And suddenly I realise the truth and smile. It's the other way around - she'll stand by me. Just like she has stood by all her other ungrateful admirers. She understands me. She knows I will leave and she knows I will come back. She is patient and lets me know that whenever I want, she'll be there. And of course, she will do her own special appearances from time to time... so beautiful that I'll forget everything else and fall in love with her again. She knows she can do that. She has the ability to make me fall in love with her over and over again. Hmm... does that make her sound like a calculating and evil character? But she's not. Because, she is pure, and as far as I am concerned, for my short little life on earth, she is eternal and I should be eternally grateful to her for loving me.
I should.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Ever since I learned that the term "Catch-22" came from a book, I've wanted to read it. And finally I did just that this winter.
Turned out to be an excellent read, the funniest I've read so far. But amidst all that sarcasm and dark humour you really feel for the characters too. The narration is excellent as it jumps back and forth in time, letting you know only what you need. [I've never given much thought to this before but... yay for modern writing techniques!]

And I just have to post this excerpt from the book...

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to."

I wanted to post more parts of the book... but hey! go grab your copy!