Friday, June 8, 2012


What is boredom?

It is a severe disease, infecting millions of people all over the world, where they constantly exhibit certain behaviours including lack of movement, constructing various pointless structures, doodling, talking about pointless things, writing pointless shit on their blog, reading pointless shit on other’s blogs and so on and so forth.

There is no known cure, though the symptoms do seem to fade when the victim is introduced to something different, such as television or counting nails on the wall. But then after a while they get bored with that too. They move on to more exciting pastures like Facebook or Megan Fox, until that too becomes boring.

So, there’s no escaping it. It is all pervasive. 

Think of all the times when you got bored with

·    Your job (or the lack of it),
·    Your food (Try Mexican, but trust me, all the Nachos will get to you in 3 days time)
·    Your cell phone (iPhone 4 is passé, I want iPhone 5 now!)
·    Your girlfriend/ boyfriend/ wife/ husband (And then eventually the extra-marital ones)
·    The daily soap that you loved watching ( And that sitcom too)
·    Waking up every day, early in the morning (If you woke up every day at two in the afternoon, it’s even more boring. Been there, done that! )
·    Orkut (Facebook, Google Plus)
·    Your hair (long hair/ short hair/ sort of long/ short)
·    etc

Conclusion: We are bored with our lives!

It has happened with the best of us I guess, and since the beginning of time.

Think of the guys living in those caves; our forefathers. Hunting to eat. Struggling to light a fire. And all those wild tigers and elephants waiting to pounce on them at the first chance. And when they came back to their caves in the evening, no How I met your Mother, no Satyamev Jayte. Life must have been pretty dull, right? Ok, so there was sex. But then that was just (20 mins * (ok twice, thrice)3=) 1 hour. That would still leave them with the entire evening to kill! So, they were bored. Really really bored. And so they said, what do we do with all this time? And they started telling stories. Stories of how they killed the fierce bison in the jungle, stories of how they had delicious roasted bison meat for lunch... and voila...  cave painting was born!

And then probably, when they got bored with that too, they picked up a bunch of grass from the wild savannas, and like all bored people and started tying them up together (bored people start joining thing: paper clips, shoe laces, pack of cards, thoughts... it’s endless). And before they knew it, they had weaved the first basket out of it.

You see where I am going with this?

Yes, the point that I’m trying to make is that, if necessity is the mother of invention then boredom is the father of creativity.

Why do you think Shakespeare started writing those sonnets?

Because he was bored!

Why do you think Da Vinci took so much time to draw a sort-of-mysterious-half-smiling lady, standing in the middle of the field?

That’s right, he was bored too.

Einstein, Edison, Bose: All ROYALLY bored people!! Otherwise, which normal person in his/ her right mind would ever come up with that thing called relativity, or that thing called electricity or think of sending information through radio waves!

And then the Gates and the Jobs... bloody college drop outs! Yes, they were bored with the lectures! The classroom! Like all of us! But I guess they were a little more bored than some of us. And well, look what happened.

Now before you jump to conclusions, I must add that, I am not saying that just because you are bored out of your guts, you may come up with the theory of relativity or code the Windows operating system.
Yes, these guys were a little above ordinary, I suppose! But if they had never got bored, they wouldn’t have ever known. Would they?

So I say, get a little bored. May be you will write a pointless post about boredom. May be you will make a cool monkey out of paper clips. May be you will doodle something which looks vaguely like torch batteries. May be you will stare at the ceiling fan. May be you’ll think about the importance of ear wax. Or May be you’ll come up with the idea of time travel, or teleportation or wet toilet tissues. Who knows? The possibilities are limitless.

I say it’s worth giving it a shot though. Don’t you?

Go on then! Get bored.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Satyajit Ray used to say that background music in cinema is redundant. It is essentially to highlight a mood, an action or a state of mind, which otherwise may not be evident to the audience. A well made film, or a well told story does not need to garb itself in falsettos and ‘Chopin’s and ‘Malhar’s. It carries itself on its own.

So, let us, for a minute try to imagine, cinema without its background score.

Think of Pather Panchali without the sitar and flute of Ravishankar as Apu and Durga explore the black and white countryside of Bengal. Imagine, Psycho’s shower scene without the frantic and scary strokes of the Viola playing in the background. Think of Audrey Hepburn walking the streets of New York in breakfast at Tiffany’s without the lilting ‘moon river’ blending in. Picture Godfather, devoid of the haunting tune of Nino Rota. Imagine The Dark Night, bereft of the rapid and understated score by Zimmermann, as the Joker goes on a rampage in Gotham City. Imagine Casablanca, ET, Life is Beautiful, without their background music!

And think of the Hindi movies, and its songs! All the wonderful and shady and sad and foot-tapping and melancholic and outrageous and funny and f***ing-brilliant songs! Rajesh Khanna driving besides Sharmila Tagore (who is sitting in a train) singing Mere sapno ki rani (never mind how she can hear it over the clanky rails and the gushing steam engine)! Amitabh Bachhan getting drunk on Rekha and bhaang as he sings Rang Barse in his deep timbre on the first day of spring. Madhuri Dixit dancing on a stage, the audience going crazy, erupting into joyous chorus of ek do teen. Dilip Kumar sporting a 5 day stubble, looking positively heart-broken singing Yeh mera deewanapan. And then, imagine all of that without the song and music.

Impossible, right?

Yes. It would be like being in a deaf world. Or worse, a world that is only filled with dry conversations, everyday noises, dull din and incessant clamour.

But that is what the real world sounds like, doesn’t it?

I beg to differ.

I think the world is full of music. The real world. It plays in one’s head. Or on one’s i-pod, or by the roadside shop, perhaps in the car while one’s driving, but mostly in one’s head.

Let me explain myself.

Say, you’re travelling in a train. It’s sparsely crowded. You find a corner near the door. The compartment is noisy. The train leaves the station. You plug in your i-pod, and switch on your music. And THEN, the world changes. The crammed compartment starts seeming distant. The whiff of the summer air hits your face. In the afternoon sun, the old city starts looking familiar and beautiful. You start noticing the train tracks outside, razor sharp and glinting dangerously. You see them merge and divulge out with the beat of the music. You see the wooden handles, swaying to the rhythm. And you feel that this is how it was designed to be. This music was scored for this moment; for you to see the world in that rhythm. Like a background score.

Or imagine yourself sitting in a pub alone. After the first couple of drinks, the music becomes louder. It drowns out the din of the crowd. You start noticing things around you. You watch the couple sitting at the corner table, enjoying their glass of red, playing with each others fingers. You notice the middle aged man, sitting alone at the desk, his glass of scotch half full, engrossed in his thoughts. You watch the bartender, swift hands, pouring out another glass of beer for his next customer. And that is when the next song comes up. It’s Billy Joel’s Piano man. And immediately, you feel that you are watching a movie. Or probably you are in it. And everything that is happening, is happening, because that’s how the background score was planned.

But then again, sometimes, music does the exact opposite thing. It takes you away from your immediate, your present and transports you to another place and time.

Because a song is never, only a song. It is a piece of memory.

Memories of people who have known, memories of cities you have been to, memories of forlorn afternoons, memories of wet monsoon nights, memories of childhood, memories of your first love, memories of your first heartbreak, memories of friends, memories of the wildest parties, memories of cosy mornings, memories of anger, of hatred, of jealousy, sadness, lust, joy and everything, everything else. Each song has a story. And each time it plays, it brings back that part of our life back to us. So, while walking the streets of London, a song can take you back to your terrace in Calcutta... while eating sandwich in the office cafeteria, the song playing on the speakers can remind you of the first time you met her.

Satyajit Ray used to say that background music in cinema is redundant. It is essentially to highlight a mood, an action or a state of mind, which otherwise may not be evident to the audience.

But what do you do when the highs and lows of your life are strung to the notes of music. What if every action, every move, every memory, every story that you have had, has a tune, a song, a music attached to it?

Well, I guess, then you just put on your shoes and keep walking. And as you walk, you hum your favourite tune. Sometimes out aloud, at other times in your head.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So I was thinking # 3

Does character develop over time? In novels, of course it does: otherwise there wouldn't be much of a story. But in life? I sometimes wonder. Our attitudes and opinions change, we develop new habits and eccentricities; but that's something different, more like decoration. Perhaps character resembles intelligence (you're the most intelligent in your life when you are in your teens), except that character peeks a little later: between twenty and thirty say. And after that, we're just stuck with what we've got. We're on our own. If so that would explain a lot of lives, wouldn't it? And also- if this isn't too grand a word- our tragedy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So I was thinking # 2

If you die today, then nobody will remember you in a year’s time.

Not entirely true.

May be your parents will. They’ll miss you the most. They are getting old. You are the one thing that they look forward to. They will miss you. And may be four of your friends. They’ll miss you. Especially on Saturdays, when they get together. Or at night, when they are expecting your phone call. But eventually they’ll get used to having the fourth chair empty. They’ll get used to the phone not ringing at 23.22 hours. And life will move on, as life does. And then probably a year later,when your Birthday alert pops up on Facebook, some people will think of you. May be feel a little sad as well. But then they would get back to watching IPL Season 5 or How I met your mother re-run.

And then, memories will start to fade away. It will become bleaker and bleaker, till you are extinct from their memories.

That thought scares me. Not the idea of being dead. That’s an eventuality. But the realisation that your existence will cease to exist.

If you die today, then nobody will remember you in a year’s time.

This sort of thought hits you on a Tuesday afternoon, while you are sitting in office, working on an ‘important’ presentation. And then your mind wanders. You think about how all our lives have always been full of ‘grades’ and ‘class tests’ and ‘ppts’ and ‘deliverables’ and ‘deadlines’ and ‘interviews’ and ‘salary’ and you get the point. True, when you were studying for that class test in seventh standard, it did feel like, the world would come to an end if you did not pass it. True, when you were working nights to meet the deadline, it did feel like, your client’s business will come to a standstill, if you don’t have the code up and running by 4 in the morning. True, you thought that meeting target of tampons in Patiala was the only thing that ever mattered in the entire history of the universe. And then what happened? Then, you died of course. Class tests gone. Sales target gone. Presentations gone. Promotions gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Zilch. Nada. Zero. Nobody will mention that you scored the highest marks in the history test in seventh standard, or achieved record sales of tampons in Patiala in February 2011.

If you die today, then nobody will remember you in a year’s time.

This thought could have been the beginning sequence of a movie. A movie about a regular guy, who reaches that stage when people get annoyed beyond endurance and start something and go on to make history. It could have been the moment, when you discover the Tyler Durden in you. When you realise how badly we are stuck in this unending quagmire called mediocrity. It could have been the point where you start to think about your ‘project mayhem’. Think of how you can leave that ‘dent’. Small but unmistakable. A dent which will be your own.

It could have been one of those moments.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

So, I was thinking # 1

There are three fundamental physical quantities.

Length, Weight and Time

The greater part of the world uses the metric system of measurement to measure length and weight, and other derived quantities (like force and acceleration).
The metric system is an international decimalized system of measurement that is the common system of measuring units used by most of the world.

For example all lengths and distances, are measured in metres, or thousandths of a meter (millimeters), or thousands of metres (kilometers), and so on. There is no profusion of different units with different conversion factors, such as inches, feet, yards, fathoms, rods, chains, furlongs, miles, nautical miles, leagues, etc. Multiples and submultiples are related to the fundamental unit by factors of powers of ten, so that one can convert by simply moving the decimal place: 1.234 metres is 1234 millimeters, 0.001234 kilometres, etc.

This of course, has been done for standardization and convenience of conversion.
Similar story with grams, and Kilograms and milligrams.

But think about time.

This one is sort of the odd one out.

To begin with, this is a physical quantity, which cannot be seen or touched. Yes, man has found a way to keep track of it, or to measure it, as we say. But that is more like cutting up an unending ribbon into pieces, so that it is easier for us to gift-wrap our small packages.

And then, when we do cut it up, why do we cut it up into such strange denominations?
What I mean to say is, why is it 60? Why does a minute have 60 seconds? And an hour has 60 minutes? Why not 100? The length of time, which we call a minute, could as easily have accommodated 100 seconds instead of 60, right? Or an hour comprising of 100 minutes. But it is not so. In spite of being so madly in love with our 10s and 100s, we still measure time with 60 seconds and 60 minutes and even stranger… 24 hours…

And it beats me… And so, I was thinking about it

What do you think could be the reason? Has it anything to do with a circle having 360 degrees, and time being measures by two radii along a centre? Or perhaps it has some other history behind it? I don’t know. But if you have an answer, or actually let’s rephrase it, if you have a thought on it (thoughts are not Googled, and are therefore different from answers, unless of course you already know about it) then enlighten me!

(there might be more ‘so, I was thinking’ posts, and therefore this one is #1)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cobb's Cob

(Warning:This post is not for the impatient.)

I am a business analyst at an IT firm. My job entails looking into the clients’ businesses and telling them, how we can help them do it better. So, often before we can tell them, how they can do it better, we have to understand how they are doing it currently. Or as they say, understanding the ‘AS-IS’ process.

Some of these hot-shot fortune 100 companies have processes and systems which belong to the neo-Paleolithic age. So, to understand the ‘AS-IS’ is more like being at an excavation site, digging up bones from the Stone Age. It has its own charm (the bone digger will vouch for it), but sometimes it can get very VERY tricky.

This is the story of one those times.

So, this company, that I’m currently doing the project for, has offices across different cities in the US of A. Different people handling different functions (processes) at these different locations.

For example
• Process A at New York
• Process B at Ohio
• Process C at San Francisco
• Process D at Las Vegas

These processes (A, B, C and D) operate in a nested structure which looks something like this:
Process A (Process B (Process C (Process D)))

Which means: to complete Process A, you have to complete process B. And to complete process B you have to complete process C and so on.

If you have reached till this point, pat yourself! You are indeed patient.
10 points to Gryffindor!

Ok, back now! Now, let us look at it from a ‘systems’ perspective of the structure.

Process A running at New York, uses System P.
From system P in New York (used for process A), you can access system Q (used for process B) in Ohio
From system Q in Ohio (used for process B), you can access system R (used for process C)
You get the drift, right?

Now, if you thought, this was a little complicated... in comes the excavator (or shall we say the extractor!) aka yours truly! Sitting in Chennai, Da!

To start process A, you must login remotely to a computer in New York, from the computer in Chennai. Now I hope you remember that to complete process A, process B needs to be completed.

So, yes, go drink some water, pee, and come back, this is going take a while…

So, I was saying, to complete process A, process B needs to be completed. So what do you do? (Remember at this point, you have already logged in to the terminal in New York). Now, you login remotely from the computer in New York to the computer in Ohio to complete process B.

Yes it is getting a little smoggy, isn’t it? But wait. Because by the time, you login to the terminal at San Francisco you are pretty much in the middle of the Cobb web. You are trying to switch between terminals, furiously trying to keep track of which level/ process/ city you are in, but DAMN you!

AND THEN, in walks Mr. Christopher Nolan sir jee!

He looks at me, smiles and says,
‘No, there is something fundamentally wrong in that structure. All the levels can’t be operating at the same speed. As you go deeper inside, the perception of time elapsed increases. So, an hour in Chennai, is a day in New York, and a day in New York is a week in Ohio. But I warn you. If you go to Las Vegas, then you’ll come out of it, an old man, with your brain like mashed potato’

I ignore him. Think he must only be kidding about the speed thing.

Lesson# 1: Always listen to Christopher Nolan!

And then it starts to happen.
To open a browser on my own machine in Chennai- .3 secs

To open a browser on the machine in New York, via Chennai- 1 min

To open a browser on the machine in Ohio, via New York, via Chennai- yes, you can go drink some water and come back, and it is still opening…

To open a browser on the machine in San Francisco via Ohio, via New York, via Chennai- Hey, you want to go for lunch at this new restaurant in T Nagar? It’s a little far away. But it’s got an excellent buffet spread. Perfect for opening a browser in San Francisco

To open a browser on the machine in Las Vegas via San Francisco via Ohio, via New York, via Chennai- DIE OLD MAN, DIE!!!

Yes, you want to get out, but right when you need it, there’s no one to kick you!
Now, if you thought Las Vegas was all fun, then well
Lesson# 2: Limbo Las Vegas is not good! Opening a browser takes an eternity! Imagine, how much time, the strippers must be taking to, you know, strip!

Anyway, enough said. This post is a ‘in-between-work’ post.

I am currently in San Francisco.

Talk of DREAM job!!

And oh! Slytherin gets 100 points and wins. Haa!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Here’s the thing. I am lazy. Really Really lazy. All that excuse about being busy and all, is just bull. One can always find time. Half an hour. No big deal. Unless of course one is lazy. I’m. Lazy.

I just got interrupted. Interruptions don’t help. Not at all. You have to get the thing done at one go. Otherwise the moment is gone. Forever. You can’t do anything about it, once it is gone.

‘A’ once told me, that scholars at MIT juggle. When they are thinking deeply about something, they start juggling. It increases their concentration. I am no MIT scholar. And I have horrible hand-eye coordination.

Anyway, so the point is my blogging record is abysmal. Actually not even abysmal. It is non-existent. So, I am thinking I should do something about it. There has to be pattern to it, right? I mean a routine? Like every time ‘something’ happens, I blog. That ‘something’ can be anything really. Like every time it rains I blog. Or every time my maid doesn’t show up, I blog (then I’d blog, every Sunday or the entire month of December). Or every time I don’t brush my teeth, I blog (I’m not providing statistics for that one). There has to be a trigger. I am not saying, if the trigger is rain, then every time I write, I’ll about rain. Or my maid (But that could actually be an interesting proposition).

And that brings us to the next question. What should I write about?

I just got interrupted, again. DAMN. I should learn to juggle.

So I was saying. Content. Now, any Communication01 lecture will tell you, that the content of any presentation should be decided according to the audience. Right. Audience. Let’s ponder over that for a minute, shall we?

Ok, so I’m sure she will check my blog. And him. And him from that city. Oh, and sometimes, the other one also might drop in. 4 people. Yes. Ok, then. 4 people. But I don’t know what these 4 people might want to read. My best guess is that they will not want to read my blog. It’s difficult to target, when you don’t have a segment. Yes. One must target.

Do you think, I am digressing? I mean what are we even talking about? But well, I think it’s good to digress. What I mean is, lots of time you don't know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn't interest you most. I mean you can't help it sometimes. What I think is, you're supposed to leave somebody alone if he's at least being interesting and he's getting all excited about something. I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It's nice.

So I think that’s what I’ll do. I’ll digress. And you digress best, when (as ‘B’ puts it) you feel like a police van in Kashmir. Yes. So every time I feel like a ‘police van in Kashmir’, I’ll digress. It might be interesting. Unless of course I’m feeling lazy. But I feel lazy a lot. I’m lazy. I swear I am.

(Why is the name of the post neuro-transmitters again?)