Friday, July 24, 2009

Silly office humor

I am looking at a graph that shows the participation of certain teams in certain work-related activity. The timeline (in months) is on the horizontal (x) axis and the percentage of participation is on the vertical (y) axis. Ok, that much for background.

Now, out of the five teams, one team, I find, has jumped participation by a whooping 50% – from 20% to close to 70% – in just last one month. "Oh!" I exclaim and look for the name of the person who manages that team. As it turns out, the name of the manager is (indeed) Oh! Well, the exclamation sign is not part of the name, of course; I merely used it to show my surprise.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

André Kertész

I didn't know about André Kertész until I came across this link about an hour ago.

I liked these photographs, especially the way everyone looks absorbed into the words they are reading – whether it's a boy reading the cartoon strips sitting on a pile of newspapers; or, a university girl slumped on a couch, reading and (it seems) absent-mindedly toying with a ball-point pen; or, a circus performer taking a break in the dressing room, lying on his (or her?) stomach and reading a paperback; or, an old man carefully scrutinizing a book from what seems like a second-hand book sale on the pavements; or, a young man enjoying a book, quietly, sitting on stool, beside a big window and a few cramped dormitory beds, possibly while all other inmates are out – all these, an ode to the act of reading.

Monday, July 20, 2009


The last weekend was spent in delicious tranquility – amidst tree-lined avenues, manicured lawns, and neat little blocks of a residential academic campus. I've gone there to meet a long-time friend who is leading a recluse academic life, which mainly comprises of spending long hours in their excellent campus library, reading tomes of books, researching on subjects often unheard of, and taking afternoon naps. Well, there may be other things in the routine that I don't know of, but this is pretty much what I could gather.

Anyway, like I said, the campus is gorgeous. And it looked especially so because of the profusion of various shades of green, the continuous drizzle, and the accompanying quiet and deserted look. And, oh, besides the flora, they also have some interesting fauna – flocks of migratory birds with long legs and equally long beaks, scurrying army of squirrels, and the ubiquitous monkeys. So, I was absolutely smitten the moment my friend ushered me into the campus. Yes, the campus almost had a picture-perfect look, although my friend reminded me that all's not quite as picture-perfect as it seems. Which, I guess, applies to everything and his cynicism is justified. However, the good thing about this friend is that, despite the bone-crushing academic rigour, he still retains his verve and sense of humour. As a result, we found ourselves talking endlessly about inane things and generally indulging in the kind of laziness that we both appreciate. To spark things up, we also watched some of the trashy music videos of early 90s (which were quite a rage in our teenage days) and discussed the whereabouts of those faded music stars of yesteryears. Much fun was derived out of that.

To sum up, I had a nice time there amidst much of eating, munching, talking, walking, watching, and dozing. Okay, it might seem a little unusual that I travelled about a thousand kilometer to do such mundane things (and not doing any sightseeing or other such touristy things) but, really, who cares as long as we had all the fun.

PS: In the few sleepless moments when I was trying to accustom myself to the new bed and smell that hung in the empty hostel room that was allotted to me, it struck me that it’s been long since I’ve spent some time in an academic campus. And it did bring in a bout of nostalgia, of the place and the people from the past that’s been in hibernation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Past, present, and future

  • It was summer vacation time and we – our family, that is – were doing the yearly tour of relatives. But that summer, for some reason that I cannot remember now, I was left midway at one of my aunt’s place while the rest of the family continued with their tour. So, there I was, living in a hospital quarter (the uncle worked in a hospital) in some remote hills, spending half of the summer vacation. There was absolutely nothing I could do there, except take a stroll around the lush green compound or sit at home as it rained endlessly. Some afternoons, when it was sunny, me and my aunt would go bring some sweet corncobs from the wilderness that was their kitchen garden and boil them to have as snacks. At other times, I read the only book that was present in the house – it was a book about the dacoits of Chambal, who, I learnt from the book, roamed around the ravines of Chambal on horses, with gun in their hand and revenge in their hearts. Even though I was of an impressionable age, I wasn’t much impressed with those dacoits. I was still bored and longing to be back home among my friends, who, I knew, were having much fun. I still don’t know why the memories of those days haven’t faded away into oblivion. Memory is a tricky thing, indeed.
  • I’m reading Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There. It’s a travel book about the author’s (mis)adventures while travelling through the whole of Europe – from Hammerfest, the northernmost town of Europe, to Istanbul, where it touches Asia. Bill Bryson is an author I enjoy to read. Having previously read A Walk in the Woods, in which he writes about his funnily informative trekking expeditions in the Appalachian Trail, I decided to read him again. With Neither Here Nor There, Bill Bryson is again in his reckless humour form. The last I placed the bookmark, Bill Bryson has already gone through parts of Norway, France, Belgium, and Germany and is about to enter Amsterdam. I’m following him closely, as he dishes out anecdotes, histories, travel tips, and plain memories, one after another, in his inimitable style.
  • The other day I saw in Facebook (yes, I’m there too) a quiz which went something like “What kind of old person will you be?” Of course, I didn’t take part in the quiz, but it got me thinking for some time. Indeed, how different do we get by the time we reach old age? I’ll probably remain as skeptical about things as I’m now. Probably, a little more cynical even. And I don’t see myself shedding my laziness either. Things, especially, I definitely wouldn’t want to be are – to intrude on others’ lives or to become talkative to the point of boring people to death (two hallmark traits of old people). But, well, isn’t future a funny thing? I might just become the person I despise now.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

To win a bet

What is it like to write with abandon? I mean, without the worry of being scrutinized or the awkwardness of being too self conscious. What is it to like write on endlessly, uncontrollably, without knowing where it will end, and how? Writing for just the pleasure of writing, or as a catharsis, I realized, I haven’t done for long. (Maybe, I used to do it in those angst-ridden teenage years.) These days, I just write only as much is needed – not a sentence too long. I write official emails with carefully chosen words, in a business-like manner. To friends, I write cursory emails – unsure about how much information to fit in them, I often cut off whole paragraphs after reading the draft. I write to fetch me money, counting each word. I write mechanically – aloof and impersonal – so that I don’t give away what I don’t want to give away.

Sounds a tad pessimistic? Not really. It’s not bad as it sounds. I’ll write few words being in control, rather than too much. I am a little afraid of going overboard, of excess, of saying too much. So, I may end up spending a good deal of time typing letters out, rearranging them, fiddling with sentences, playing with punctuation marks, and finally delete the whole thing. And that's okay with me.

Maybe, writing with real abandon needs much more hard-work, patience, and courage than I know of. Maybe, I suffer from a mental block that stops me from doing so. Whatever it is that stops me, I know no cure of it.

So, at the end of the day, I’ll just write little odd posts like this and obliterate the rest.

PS: If you are stumped by the title of this post, I wrote this up last night so that I don't lose some of my hard-earned money to this poet.