Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From halfway

She frowns. "The thing about camellias, you know, is that when they're about to die, they won't tell you in time. If they lack water, they don't look unhappy for a while, and show you they're suffering; they just die."

From An Equal Music, Vikram Seth
I'm halfway into An Equal Music, and even when I picked up the book, I knew An Equal Music was different from A Suitable Boy or The Golden Gate, the two Vikram Seth books I've read earlier, and enjoyed – The Golden Gate for its yuppy quirkinesss and A Suitable Boy for the sweeping canvas. But, for me, An Equal Music is not proving to be an easy read. There may be few reasons: first, it's a book with western classical music as a theme and there're a lot of details I had difficulty following; second, the style of writing, at least to me, seemed so unlike the earlier Seth I've read, and much of the time I had to struggle, despite the book being divided into short readable chapters. Besides, even after reaching halfway, I'm still not getting a pulse of the characters, and I wonder if it is intentional on the part of the writer, or is there something lacking about the way it's written. I'm still reading it, however slowly, and I hope to complete the book in a few days. Vikram Seth is known for writing about immensely diverse themes and reading An Equal Music after A Suitable Boy I cannot agree more. And probably because A Suitable Boy remains so entrenched in my mind, An Equal Music is turning out to be a bit disappointing, after all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

At office

I generally keep office out of this blog, and it’s better that way, I guess. But, something happened at office today which I thought I needed to write, maybe just to get it out of my system and forget it. After all, I know people who does that – write to get things out of system. I thought I too should give it a try.

So, it happened that I had booked a conference room for a meeting today, but I didn’t really check out the time zone (being a global company, the web request system has too many time zones available, none of which I was aware of). Therefore, when we go to the conference room, and are in the middle of a call, someone dashes in and interrupts us. He comes in without even caring to knock. He has a frown on his face and almost makes us a gesture to get out. He has the air of someone who seems to be extremely busy, and therefore has no time to even have a decent talk to explain anything. “I have a booking for this room right now,” he says. I, being not very good at countering and always overvaluing politeness, try to mumble something like, “But I did make a reservation for this!” At this he frowns upon me and opens his laptop to show his reservation. I did realize, by then, that I might have made a mistake (which I absolutely did because my reservation was showing a different time zone) and so we abandon the call and move to the next conference room available. Luckily, the next room was unreserved and our call resumed smoothly and there was a not-too-bad ending to the whole thing, after all.

Now, what I want to convey here is that, is it wrong to expect politeness and decency from people around you, especially when you are working in an environment where everyone is (supposedly) highly educated? (The person who stormed into the conference room is a Principal Software Engineer, I later found out from the intranet, and probably is a heavyweight or something, but for me he is simply a man without manners.) I agree that people might be awfully busy and there might be lot many important things making them busy all the time, but is basic etiquette such a difficult thing to practice, after all? Or, is it a notion that politeness is synonymous with weakness? Is it that to move ahead you must get a permanent frown on your face, and intimidate others with your manners and words?

Well, I don’t want to appear to be shocked with this behavior – I have had my share of encounter with rudeness; in fact, plenty of them. But yes, it did manage to unsettle me for a moment because so far (and I’m indeed happy to say this) I didn’t really encounter too many nasty people at my workplace. Maybe, this was a precursor for things ahead!

Whatever, sorry to have disappointed you, if were expecting something different to read here. But, well, one needs to vent out occasionally, and what better place than a blog for doing that?

PS: While walking back home in the evening, I was thinking of this incident and it reminded me of an old essay I read in my schooldays – A.G. Gardiner's On Saying Please, which you can read here. A.G. Gardiner (1865–1946) wrote some delightful essays under the pen-name Alpha of the Plough and this essay is a good example of his excellent style and humour. It is sad that essays never enjoyed as much popularity as novels or short-stories. A collection of A.G. Gardiner's essays, namely Pebbles on the Shore, is available here.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Just dropped in to link two YouTube short films (what else?)

Check out The Danish Poet and Harvie Krumpet, winners of Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for 2007 and 2004, respectively.

Last night, I was having a look at The YouTube Screening Room and found these two absolutely entertaining short films among others. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

By now it must be obvious that I’m wasting a lot of time watching YouTube videos, and it’s no wonder that some of them is spilling over here. But, well, no more YouTube videos in future, I promise.