The Dog Squad

I am not the only dog in my locality. There are plenty of them, all sort of breeds in all different sizes...agile and good looking like me! The only difference is that I cannot sniff as good as most of them, perhaps because I carry my nose so high above the ground and I got a day job too.

Take the case of Sam and Samantha (not the Fox variety). They are the two BIG well bred Labs who have made the nearby chicken shop their home. I have never seen a collar or chain on them.. always free and roaming. They are very friendly and won't mind cozying up to you whenever you walk along the lane, though at times you get a chill when you turn around to that jingly feeling on your legs and see these huge dogs behind. But lucky are these two to have chicken everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it does show on their body. The only person who doesn't like Sam & Samantha is the guy who sells Samosa and Bajjis nearby. Many a times I have seen him yelling at these dogs..when they steal something or other. But the fun is, unlike other dogs these guys don't run away... they just stand still, staring back at the screaming guy, enjoying their plunder. I have to pay for the samosas, they just need to stand some noise!

Then there is "Hero", the head of the Boxer family which takes out a route march along the road, every morning. He is so dignified a dog and not like the younger members of his family. He won't look down or to the side when he walks....head is always up, straight and forward. He takes his own sweet time to move gracefully across the street, much like an Ex-Service man who retains military discipline in his retired life. This guy definitely has some character. But other members of his family, they are a bunch of jokers... jumping here and there, giving their owner a tough time.

How can I forget the sweet little one who lives just across the lane. She is a hairy,loud and black Pomeranian who lives with some hairy and louder people. I don't even know her name yet. It is difficult most of the times even to distinguish her sound from the noise. She is always active, busy chasing sparrows during the day and running after the street dogs in the night. And there is this little kiddo.. the new kid in town, a Boxer puppy who lives two houses down the lane. Looks like a harmless neighbor, still clueless about many a things. The road is his playground, scaring the kids around is his new found hobby, not listening to his master's call is what he's majoring on.

With all these guys and their stray cousins around, there is always something happening just around the corner.

Now playing: Innercircle - Bad Boys
via FoxyTunes

Belief !

How do you define your belief..? Its probably one of the most misunderstood and seemingly complex questions to answer. I came across a simple verse that kind of explains it... without the frills and strings.

Who plants a seed
Beneath the sod
And waits to see
Believes in God

Belief is just this... nothing more, nothing less..!!

Its sometimes funny to watch how people perceive God and religion. Most of us are so blinded by these two ideas, that we have stopped using our commonsense at all. Religions which preach liberation and compassion are in turn creating a bunch of slaves who are brutal enough to kill fellow beings at the gesture of a stupid priest or pastor.

Belief for them is truly blind and they don't really care to think about it... it has become a way of life and peer pressure takes care of its sustenance. Very few realize the fact that religion was a mechanism created by us to give social life a structure. Brand God has become 'THE' superbrand with loyal fan following of billions.. without much endorsements or advertisement. This is the true example of a public service campaign turning shamelessly commercial, word of mouth creating unbelievable market penetration and 'sense of fear' ensuring brand loyalty.

What is it with us?

What make us disregard relationships? Is it just the cheap thrill a breakup provides or the false sense of freedom loneliness offers or the selfish survival instinct to look for better alternatives? Something has to fuel this otherwise painful phenomenon where parents abandon their kids, lovers leave their loved ones and children dump their parents in old age homes. Is comfort and its close cousin greed, the new affection and selflessness of the world? Have we taken sides with competition and mercilessly butchered empathy and truthfulness?

I had decided a few days back to stop whining about things around me and start thinking constructively. I am no saint to pretend to understand the ways of the world and offer sermons on the righteousness of life. I know there are many ways to reach Rome and none of them is better than the other. But there are times when I put on my complaining persona and start blabbering gibberish. I just cannot help it at times. Whatever be the circumstances, can a mother decide to abandon a kid which she carried inside for nine to ten months? If she was forced to do that, I feel equally responsible with the society, for making her do that, so that she becomes more acceptable or comfortable in her life. Remember, we used to frown at the Spartans, calling them barbarians, for getting rid of the deformed or malnourished new born babies.

All abandoned children are not result of illicit affairs, a large number of them happen as the parents feel incapable of taking care of the new born. Anyone who goes through such a traumatic experience might be knowing that the memories will haunt them all their life as well. If that is the case, if that is the kind of value system we manage to build into our young men and women, then I think as a society we are a big failure. I know this is probably one of the many arguments to reach the same conclusion, that we have screwed up. What can we do to avoid situations like this? Taking good care of the abandoned kids might help in the interim, but we all know that's no permanent cure. Orphanages are a necessity of the present, but definitely not a solution for the future. They will only evolve into a comfortable arrangement, acting as collection centres for babies, where parents can drop them without feeling much of a heartbreak. More like the glorified Old-Age-Homes, where you can 'abandon' your parents to the care of professionals, feigning discomfort and incapability!

This is a two part problem, the first being a question of personal convictions. Any relationship needs a lot of patience and perseverance for its success. If we let go of these two in our mad rush for comfort and better opportunities, more kids will be abandoned, more hearts will be broken and more tears will be shed. Being opportunistic is no crime perhaps, but the cost we pay in terms of destroyed dreams, devastated lives and carried-forward regret, might not be really worth it in the long run. This basic sustenance-philosophy, which seems to be missing from our education system, provides the personal conviction to face relationships responsibly.

Equally important is the role of society in providing a conducive environment, where parents are not threatened by their inability to provide the kids 'everything' they need. The ever expanding scope of 'basic needs' has already attained monstrous proportions. It is high time we move away from the competition and comparison oriented lifestyle and let life reclaim its 'life'.

I know, easier said than done!

Childrens Day Outing

My faith in human beings as a responsible and sensible species is getting weaker by the day. Off late I am realizing that the value systems have undergone a sea change over time, and we no more believe in love, trust, relations, compassion and kindness. They have been replaced by selfishness, greed and utter irreverence towards life. Otherwise how the f**ck would you explain a mother leaving a new born baby in the drainage or on the street? How else you explain three babies, all less than 3 months old, ending up in an orphanage in a span of 6 months? As a species we have reached Mars and are right on top of the food chain. Big deal!

I was at Sisu Mandir last Saturday with Jayan, to take the kids on a day's outing on Children's day. Jisha and Shalini, the two social workers there, introduced me to 12 days old Vinod, 28 days old Angelina and 40 days old Ritu. All three were peacefully sleeping in their cribs, blissfully ignorant of the unfair deal handed over to them by fate. Angelina opened her eyes and looked at me when I approached the crib. She was one of the cutest kids I have seen in my life. I wanted to take her in my arms, but I was literally shivering. I couldn't digest the fact that someone can throw away such a beautiful bundle of joy so that they can have a hassle-free life. She started crying and I tried in vain to 'shush' her back to sleep. I tried rocking the crib, saying all the nice words I know in Hindi, English and Malayalam in the sweetest possible way. Probably annoyed by my voice, Angelina decided its better to get back to sleep. Jayan and family joined me in the room and I could see his wife and mom quietly drying the tears. No one with a heart can stand the sight of little babies abandoned like garbage.

Our plan was to take the kids out for a day of fun and there was no better day than Childrens Day. Leaving Vinod, Angelina, Ritu and 1 year old Bhavana at home, we took off with 22 other kids. Shalini and Norah also accompanied us. Norah is a volunteer from Germany, who was on her second visit to Sisu Mandir. The kids sang some beautiful songs like Jamaican Farewell, Country Road, Seasons in the Sun and few others, while we were on the way to Lalbag gardens. It was a jolly little group - Anusha, Navya, Kavitha, Sandhya, Ruth, Suman, Kavya, Naresh, Laxmi, Sukanya, Stella, Raayappa and others. Ooops.. how can I forget Vijay and Mickey, the dolls of Stella and Kavitha, which they carried in their little backpacks. We reached Lalbag by 10:30 and started our little picnic. We climbed uphill towards the small temple on the hill and decided to sit down there for a while, enjoying the breeze and blowing soap bubbles. The kids all sat together and sang 'Sweet Mother of mine' while we took out the balloons. Navya is very much scared of sound and we had to cut short the balloon fun as she started crying hearing them burst. I had to take her on a short walk to pluck some yellow wild lilies to calm her down.

As we climbed back to plain ground from the hillock we noticed a big gathering, and the kids got really excited when they saw 'Upendra', the Kannada film star on the stage. They ran into the crowd but were too far to get a good glimpse of the actor. So we thought of giving a small surprise to the kids. Just as the function was getting over, Jayan and myself approached the actor and requested him to come over and meet the kids. We knew its a long shot, but much to our surprise, he agreed instantly and started walking towards the kids. He said hello to all, shook hands with them and posed for a few pictures as well. The kids were super excited and started singing a song. The actor also joined them in the song for a few minutes before he finally said goodbye and walked away. Those were the best 10 minutes most of them had that day, I could hear the older ones talking about it all day! It was probably just another 10 minutes for the actor, but that short gesture of his, made the day for a bunch of kids, for whom miracles rarely happen in life.

As the elder ones were slowly recovering from the shock of talking to Upendra, the younger ones spotted the popcorn and candy vending machines. There was a childrens playing arena as well, with sliders and rock climbing. All of them had a good time for the next hour or so and finally settled down on the lawn under a tree, all exhausted and happy. It was almost noon and we had rice, pooris and rotis for lunch as Tom and Kapil also joined us. Though we had plans to go visit the planetarium in the afternoon, we decided to skip that and spend the rest of the day playing some games. Sandhya and the small kids started playing 'Home', preparing lunch with leaves, gooseberries and other berries they collected from the nearby bushes. Tom joined the kids for some volleyball and Kapil was busy taking them around and posing for Photographs. Soon some of us came together for a round of 'Dog and Bone', while Anusha and Kavitha were busy playing 'aunties', making saris out of some shawls and towels.

The games went on till evening when Norah reminded that we have to get back home in time for the evening bath and dinner. So we took a walk along the lake as Naresh wanted to catch some fish for dinner! Though we didn't see any fishes, there were enough monkeys to keep the kids amused, especially once the donuts were out of the bag. By five in the evening, we called it a day and boarded the bus back home. Kapil and me accompanied the kids and as we got back to Sisu Mandir, Angelina was all awake and smiling. She was just out of her bath and was happily enjoying all the attention. Bhavana was running around planting kisses on every available cheek. Bhavana is such a doll! Anusha and Sandhya took me to their room and gave me a demo on how to get on a double-decker bed. Naresh offered me a bed in the office room if I could stay back that night... he said his bed would be too small for me! I promised that I will meet him again and take them all to the planetarium. I know I will be going back to check on Angelina and the rest of the fairies pretty soon.

As Kapil and I were walking out of the compound, Sandhya accompanied us to the gate and wished us good day. I told her I already had a great day. But I was lying.. In fact, I had one of the 'BEST' days of my life!

Click here for more pictures..

Make Up Act

You cannot let a moment of madness ruin a life time of fun and happiness. True to the statement, I patched up with a friend of mine the other day. We talked, gave up the accusations, retracted the charges levied against each other, buried the hatchets and decided to 'act' like grown ups. Each of us made short speeches about the good qualities of the other, the stuff you generally get to hear in memorial services or farewell meetings. We suddenly realized -over the course of the dialogue- that the two of us possessed many good qualities, apart from the ability to piss people off in no time.

But if we are such great people, why did we mess up at the first place? We agreed mutually to ignore this small insignificant detail and decided to call it 'a moment of madness'. It was not really about forgiveness, it was more like a confession. One of us pleaded guilty for screwing up and creating all the havoc. The entire street lit up with the sparkle in the others eyes that moment. One person's stupidity is always some others delight.

The whole conversation was interesting. One of us said something like 'We both know what happened in the past, the hows and whys of it. There is no point in us whining about it any more, we cannot change what has already happened'. Though the words came out like that, the real message was 'You know that you screwed up in the past, but I am ready to forget all that. Let us play the game once again'.

The other person understood it his own way and said 'Its alright bro', which actually meant 'So you have agreed that you screwed up. Good that you realized it at least now. Do try not to mess up again'.

So without actually saying what each of us wanted to say, we hugged and made up. All said and done, I do feel better about it now. Anyway, as there is no real forgiveness or forgetting than amnesia, this was kind of the best we could do.. pretend!

Fatal Fallacies..

Our every day life is based on a number of misconceptions. Right from childhood we are made to believe some things about life which we rarely review or question. Even when all circumstantial evidence force us to believe the contrary, we somehow latch on to these so called 'universal truths'. In reality many of them break down on closer examination, without even applying the slightest of rational or logic.

Concept of luck is one of them. You have to believe in luck, how else will you explain the success of those you hate? And I don't see any other reason to believe in it. We never care to take a second look at the concept and realize that it is but just another name name to call somebody else's hard work. While we claim pride for all the successes in our own life, the same things happening in somebody else's life is discounted as mere luck. Luck is about being at the right place at the right time and it seldom happens by chance! Just because we are not able to see things in its entirety, we feel that a lot of them happen by chance. Like a fruit falling from a tree is still a matter of chance for many!

Good brings good - Now, how does that work? It used to work in the Darwinian world where it made sense for everybody to be good with each other, as a necessary condition for group survival. But I don't think it works the same way in the hopelessly 'engineered' world we live in. For us, being good is no more a pre-requisite for survival. So be good if you 'feel' like, not because it will come back to you one day. We better use that superior intellect we have and 'decide' to be good because that is the most 'sensible' and 'meaningful' thing to do, even if it is not so tightly attached to survival these days. Show the world that we don't need some white bearded guy hiding behind the clouds to threaten us with a list of 10 things, for us to be good!

Time being a great leveler is just another of the myths. We often say that time will heal everything. Time does not always wipe off the paths you traveled. You always remember all the good things you enjoyed from the time you were 5. Then why do you hope that time will do selective deletion of all those unpleasant incidents, just because you happened to dislike them? Time and memory have minds of their own and the feeling that you control both, is a necessary illusion created to ensure survival. Past is often a mixture of triumphs and failures, content and dissatisfaction, regrets and fond memories. The sad thing is that, its the disappointments and dejections that get more weightage once you look back at life. Probably we are wired to retain more vivid memories of pain than pleasure. There is no real forgetting than amnesia!

Heard this among the recordings of the 2005 'Rainbow' Gathering of the Tribes in Mexico. This passage by Hakim Bey is part of an essay called 'Chaos' from the book 'Temporary Autonomous Zone'.

"Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard.
No, listen, what happened was this: they lied to you, sold you ideas of good & evil, gave you distrust of your body & shame for your prophet-hood of chaos, invented words of disgust for your molecular love, mesmerized you with inattention, bored you with civilization & all its usurious emotions.
There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you're the monarch of your own skin - your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky."

The Adventures of Roby Doodle !

I was struggling to get some sleep last night..its so elusive when you yearn for it and will come uninvited when there is some work to be done. Even 20 minutes after hitting the bed, my eyes were refusing to close.. that devil's workshop of a mind busy plotting new schemes. Then came this phone call from my friend Rob, who was traveling to Chennai by train. The thought brought into mind some nice feelings.

I always loved sleeping in the train and do miss those moments as I rarely travel by train nowadays. Though the train is so noisy generally, nights are so peaceful.. you have the rhythmic 'chuk chuk' to listen to and be in harmony with and before you realize, you are asleep. I am not sure what makes sleeping in train so great. I do suspect its the to and fro movement that gently rocks you, as if you are in a cradle...bringing you that peace and serenity you used to enjoy as a kid. mmm...another indication of my retarded brain. I never believed when some teachers told me about my under(un)developed brain. Instead, I used to think like Woody Allen that I was sent to a school for mentally retarded teachers. But they were so right. Behavioral psychologists might argue that these are musings of an unsatisfied mind.. craving for more of childhood. Is it that I did not get to enjoy the cradle as much as I would have liked to? Should probably check with Mom on this.

Rob had called to share some of the adventures he had on his train journeys. In fact he called while he was successfully executing one of them! He locked himself in the toilet for one good crap and as he was on with the process, the train stopped at some station. He did not want to come out of the toilet and claim responsibility for all the air pollution while the train is stalled at the station. So he waited and waited hoping that its a short routine stop. He was blissfully unaware of the fact that the train was indefinitely stopped there to facilitate crossing of another train. By the time the train slowly moved out of the station he had developed serious cramps on both his legs. He loves the Indian style toilets a lot more now a days!

And if you think that is not funny, you should listen to the next one. Rob is usually a smart dude, especially when he is not feeling sleepy. He thinks about the Physics and Chemistry of everything before doing anything and execute it in the most Biologically efficient manner. He was on his way to Delhi this time. After a sumptuous dinner, he wanted to clean his mouth and wisely decided to do it standing by the door, ignoring the poor wash basin near it. He wanted to see whether rainbows are formed in the night as well, as he sprays out the water from his mouth. He calculated that if he spits out the water in the direction the train is moving, the wind will bring it all back on to his face. So with a smile on his face he turned the other way round, extended his head outside and expressed his creativity by spitting the water in a double helix! He felt good that none of the water came back at him. But he saw something fly past him into the dark, but could not make out what it was, as the world around turned into just a blur. It took a minute for him to realise that it was his spectacles that flew away with the wind!

If you are still not impressed, I am sure this one is going to blow the lid off your useless heads. On his maiden trip to Delhi, Rob's mom did not want him to spoil his stomach by eating all the crap available on the platforms. So she had nicely packed a few cups of instant noodles into his bag. She had instructed him to ask for hot water from the pantry and prepare the noodles. But being smart right from childhood, Rob had other plans in his mind. Though he now claims that he was shy to ask the pantry guys for hot water, I am pretty sure that he just wanted to test out another one of his ingenious ideas. His logic was like this - How do you boil water? You need fire or electricity, which are essentially different forms of energy. So if all you need to boil water is a source of energy, why not use the mother of all energy sources - the sun? Happy with the theory, he now decided to test it practically as well. He took a bottle of water in his hand and extended it out through the window into the sun. He knew that he just had to hold it long enough to boil the water! (Off the record, rob claims that he indeed had cup noodles that day!)

I know making fun of people is a sin. How much can you humiliate a person without getting your access denied to paradise? I am not sure, but what the heck, nothing remains in my stomach anyway. I rather tell this one last story than ensure my acceptance in paradise. Rob had an RAC ticket this time which he promptly offered to the ticket examiner when asked. The TT scribbled something on the ticket and gave it back as well. Rob managed to pass the day by shifting from one seat to another, talking to people around to see whether any one of them will be interested in offering him a seat for the night. Finally one of the gentlemen was kind enough to let him share his berth. So they sat all night talking about Pakistan, Afghanistan, Beluchistan and what not! Another day, another TT and Rob politely asked him whether he can allot him a berth. The TT looked at the ticket and told that he has already been allotted a berth, the empty one he was staring at all night, across the compartment. So that is what the ticket examiner scribbled the day before.

Enough of train trash. I better run and hide before Rob finds out about this!

This is what I want in life...

"Just look around.. when there are millions upon millions on the same road, they are on the crowded freeway of life, going nowhere but traveling with plenty of company. Leading to life's summit is the way which only few travel.. the path." - Jules Dervaes

What is the purpose of life?
Why are you working.. Working hard ?
What is that you are trying to achieve in life?
What can make you happy, satisfied in life?
Will you stop the quest once you achieve a certain level in your career,financial status & self actualization?
When do you think this is going to happen?
What will you do after this?

I am sure all of us would have asked ourselves these questions at least once in life. If you think you have already figured out answers for all those questions, and is not confused as I am, then you should not read further.. the stuff that follows is more tuned for the lesser mortals.

I feel that my needs are ever increasing; not because of what I am as a person, but because of what I need to become, to not get sidelined by the society I live in. I try hard everyday to maintain a certain standard of living & social stature. Most of the things I do in my daily life are done NOT because I need them, but because I don’t want to be left out.. the better apartment, the bigger car, the higher designation etc. Unless I realize my REAL needs and stop creating new ones everyday for somebody else’s sake, all that I do in my entire life would be running the mad rat race. Unsatisfied even at the end of it, as somebody else would have just raised the bar!!!

For me, life's purpose can be explained in three levels - self, society and the world at large.

Self: Live according to one's convictions and not by the beliefs of the majority. I think that destiny is a function of choices we make and we are answerable to ourselves alone, for those choices. If there is ever a purpose for life, I think it is about understanding the choices we have already made.
Society: Get out of the clutches of religion, which has traditionally made us believe that the only reasons to be good to others are - Jesus is watching, St. Peter is accounting and paradise is waiting. Feel for your fellow beings and do things because you feel like doing them. Being at peace with self is not something we attain through meditation or alienation, it is a state which propels us to move ahead in life, taking others with us.
World: The best thing you can leave behind when exiting this planet are not memories, but a new generation that view things impartially, think clearly and act sensibly. If we teach one person how to appreciate life, we have done a good job. While 'understanding' is a function of the intellect, 'appreciation' is more of an art. In spite of all its pain, drudgery and broken dreams, it is a beautiful world.

I had decided long back that I don't want to be part of the madness, the race for fortune and fame. I want to lead a life closer to nature, with the least possible impact on the environment, giving back more to the society than I consume, raising a few kids who view the world without blinkers. Only thing I feel strongly about my dream is that I will definitely enjoy the journey and with a little commitment, perseverance and dedication, I will be better off than what I otherwise will anyway be.

I know it sounds like a romantic projection on life, far from what is generally defined as reality. But in some level, it does make sense to me. I think even an attempt is worth, and no better time to do it than now!

The Temple of Bacchus

My dinner is at the mercy of a restaurant nearby. They make some really tasty food and more over it is cheap! Adjacent to the hotel is a temple of Bacchus, where there is quite a rush in the evening for one cup of nirvana. As I place my order and wait outside for my parcel to arrive, its quite an amusing sight to look at the people who visit the temple. Some people come out of it as if hit by a hurricane and walk away quickly, while a few others put up a nice show outside the shop.

There is an old lady who sits on the pavement outside the store. The first time I gave her some money, she disappeared for a few minutes and I saw her coming out of the temple with a handful of peanuts. She sits there everyday and when she has enough money to buy a drink, she will run inside, have a quick gulp and come back to reclaim her seat. Then there is this ex-military uncle, lean as a lamp post, who still thinks that he is in the service. He comes everyday dressed up in a jeans, formal shirt and a hat. He will quickly have a couple of drinks and then come out to address the gathering. He talks about his good old days in the army and there is a regular audience for his stories. Its quite a sight to watch his animated narration of incidents. But these two are the least colorful characters who come there. There are a bunch of other jokers who create quite a scene after having a few drinks.

While I was walking back home from the Indian Ocean concert last week, I saw this man lying in the middle of the road. It was 1:30 in the morning, there was reasonably good traffic and the vehicles were honking and taking sharp turns to go around him. I initially thought that he was hit by some vehicle but once I got near, realized that he was peacefully drunk. I tried to wake him up and all he would do was raise his head, open his eyes and go back to sleep. I tried telling him that he is right in the middle of the road and some vehicle might run over him, but he was in no mood to listen. I dragged him towards the pavement by the side, and oh boy, he was heavy! He was hopelessly drunk and probably had a fall on his face. There was blood all over his face. I made him sit with his back towards the wall, but he could not even hold himself up. I tried waking him up a few more times, but gave up and left him alone to enjoy his moments of bliss.

Why can't people drink and be a little responsible about what they do afterward? Probably they drink to drown their sorrows or to detach themselves from reality for a few minutes.. but at the cost of making an ass of oneself in public?

Looks like water is the real culprit. Mix it with anything -whiskey, Brandy, Vodka, Rum- and you suddenly start behaving like a retard!

The Problem of Plenty

Two weeks back I accidentally washed my mobile phone (just rinsed it in soap water for about 2 hours) and went to the shop to buy a new one. I asked for a simple phone, which lets me make/receive calls and texts and do nothing else. The lady at the store smiled at me and said 'we don't have such a phone'. The closest piece that matched my description was one with an additional VGA camera. The yellow colored casing forced me to look for another, and as I decided on the next higher model with Bluetooth, MP3 player and 1GB memory, I asked her how many models they have on display. She said, 'about 300 different models' and gave me a sarcastic smile as if saying 'what do you care, cheap guy!'.

My friend had an internet connection at home, one where he had to plug in the cable to his system and connect. Fed up with the restricted movement while browsing the net, he changed the connection and set up a Wi-Fi router. Now he can walk around the house with his laptop, and check mails or access 'important' information even when he is taking a crap. But what if this connection goes down for a while and you want to browse? So as a backup, he bought a wireless internet card from one of the service providers. It has the additional functionality of connecting to his mobile phone through a converter cable and jack. He can now browse his favorite websites on his mobile phone, even when he is walking on the road. Though he is finding his mobile screen a little too small these days, that issue will soon be taken care of, once the new PDA arrives.

You might be thinking what an ignorant moron I am to make fun of advances in technology and the choices we have. This was the same response I got when I told the Insurance guy that my grand parents and parents lived a pleasant and healthy life without any Insurance. So stupid of me! Our general idea is that, more and more freedom and choices will actually increase life's quality. But the reality is far from this. The more the choices, the more miserable we feel, even after adopting the best of the available options. I remember seeing this presentation by Barry Schwartz at TED (author of 'The Paradox of Choice'), where he beautifully explains how shopping for a jeans was such a pleasurable experience, when the only available type was 'blue' in color and 'comfort-fit' in style. Now with all the different colors, brands and styles giving you thousands of combinations to choose from - you are first of all confused and then after making a purchase, inevitably regrets about not buying a better piece. You can watch the video here.

All of us want to surround ourselves with as many options as possible. What if something goes wrong and you are denied access to one.. so you better have as many of them as possible close to you. An excellent example is Microsoft Word, as quoted by David Pogue, the gadget reviewer of NewYork Times. MS Word -as many of us doesn't know- has an inbuilt Database, Calendar, VB editor, Web interface, Webpage designer and an Event scheduler. This is in addition to the regular functionalities like Thesaurus, Language Translator, Picture Editor and Speech Recognition tools. I am not denying that some of us are aware of these and are using them as well, but for an average user, Word is simply a text editor. When you have specialized tools for each of them available elsewhere, and 90% of the users never use MS-Word for anything other than typing and editing simple text, why do we need all these 'additional' functionalities bundled into a simple word processor? Because, we feel good with all these stuff around us. What if... just in case!

The fun is that Microsoft tried to introduce a word processor which does just word processing, called MS-Write. Now, no prizes for guessing the was a complete failure in the market. Nobody wanted a word processor that does nothing else.. like we all need a mobile phone that can scratch our back, make tea and watch the baby, if possible. 'Differentiation' and 'feature enhancement' being a key ingredients of development these days, I don't see chances of our misery decreasing any time soon. An interesting solution proposed by Barry in his presentation, is to transfer some of the options the 'haves' got with them to the 'have-nots'. This is a mutually beneficial transaction where the quality of life increases for both the parties - the 'haves' by virtue of lesser options to worry about and the 'have-nots' by having at least some options. But can we do this? Only if understand the problem of plenty.

If you still don't get it, try this. Now a days marriage is like going to a restaurant; the moment you see what's on your neighbor's plate, you wish you had ordered for that. It is also like buying a mobile phone, you always feel you could have waited a little longer to buy a model with more advanced features, like the one your colleague just bought!

9 Songs - the movie

I watched this movie '9 songs' the other day and am not sure whether to call it an 'extended music video' or 'tasteful porn'. The only reason why the movie is named '9 songs' is that there are nine featured concerts against eight love making sessions in it. It could have very well been named '8 orgasms'. If you ever watched porn and wished for some good music between all the huffing and puffing, then probably this one is for you!

The movie tells the story of a couple who have two areas of mutual interest - live concerts and sex. So their intense love making scenes are sandwiched between some good music by bands like the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Bondies and Franz Ferdinand. Looks like the director has taken some lessons from our very own Bollywood movies, just that instead of casting some extras in the songs, he has actually shot live concerts by real bands. The lack of sensual overtones in the music sequences have been more than compensated in the sexual encounters. Oh, truth be told, music and sex is not all that's there in the movie; there are about six or seven other scenes where you see the couple trying to make coffee, starting a conversation, driving to a beach and talking over the telephone. So don't you dismiss this one as just another porn flick!

I was reading a bit to see how such an explicit work got released as a mainstream film. Understandably, the directors and producers had positioned it as an 'art' movie. Now a days art is something the rest of the crowd 'wows' about, while you are totally clueless. Going by that definition, this is definitely art... just that I could not see it quite clearly in the low light, with so much of distracting action going on all around. Or probably I looked at all the wrong places!

It would be interesting if somebody make an Indian version of the movie by replacing the concerts with cricket matches. Our directors handle nudity and sex better than anyone else. The love making scenes can be easily managed with flowers and bees and a few parrots. We are such a smart audience, that once the camera pans out from an embracing couple to show the cieling fan rotating, we get it!

Confusion-ism !

I remember seeing this article in the newspaper once, which said 'Cleopatra is in Hyderabad'. The story was about a 'Past Life Regression' expert who discovered that a person in Hyderabad was Cleopatra in his past life! Recently I realized without any expert help that I was 'Confusious' in my own previous life. The diagnosis was easy as I am actually confused about a lot of things in life, no matter how much I try to convince myself that I know what is going on around me. I never realized the enormity of it till I listed down the things I am confused about. Now it looks like there are very few things I am NOT confused about. And the more I delved into the depth of issues, the more deep they turned out to be.

I am confused about God. Though I am practically an atheist, technically I am still agnostic. I have reasonable arguments against the existence of a super natural entity as we generally perceive it. But once you broaden the definition of God to include the energy, forces and reactions we see around, I am more of a believer. The Pantheistic God is an idea I have minimal issues with. But because of the upbringing and societal dependence, at times I doubt myself and my convictions, even though there is still a pretty strong wall of rationality and reason between me and the mania.

I am confused about the purpose of life. The moment you take away the concepts of 'after-life' and 'reincarnation', life might seem pretty pointless. Procreation is too lame an argument to fill the gap. Creativity is probably the 'real' purpose of it all. The way we lead our life, the way we treat other creatures, the way we modify things and situations around us, all these are purposes we create for ourselves and purposes through which we create the world around us. The way we project our individuality in everything we do, makes them our own unique creations. It is like being part of a symphony orchestra or a choir, where every player has a unique way of influencing the final outcome.

I am confused about right and wrong. I think righteousness is always a function of the situation. That is precisely the reason why we fumble when the heart tells us to do one thing and the situation demands something else from us. There is no one right thing, there is no one right path, it is what we make of the choice that decides the label. Does that mean that we can take a seemingly wrong decision and still turn it around to a seemingly right outcome? I am seriously confused!

I am confused about what to do in life. I have my ideas and convictions, I also believe they are right to the best of my understanding. But being unable to disassociate myself fully from the society, I stumble at times thinking about how I should shape my future. Should I stand ground and live for my convictions or should I give up and follow the herd towards more 'sensible' destinations? Sucking up to sources of inspiration and reminding myself about the noble nature of my intentions is currently doing the job.. but not sure how long.

I am confused about whom to trust. I trust people without a second thought and I have burned my hands a few times as a result of this behavior. I attribute most of these bad experiences to situations and not the people themselves. Conflicts of interests can always result in situations where one of the parties will be disappointed and this is inevitable. But I have to admit that off late I feel some hesitation while interacting with strangers. Though people say its good to be cautious, I used to be much better before.

I am confused about my capabilities. This is a feeling that keeps coming back every now and then. One moment I am Mr. Invincible, ready to take the world apart with my superior powers and a while later I am as confused as a baby in a topless bar. Others talking about your strengths and you feeling it from inside are two different things. I tried to spend some time listing down my capabilities and I came up with a nice blank sheet of paper! You won't consider 'bugging people off with continuous rant' as a super power.. will you?

Looks like confusion is a major ingredient of my life... that is one thing I am really sure about!
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