Saturday, October 13, 2007

How can man die better?

Published in 1842, the "Lays of Ancient Rome" is collection of ballads about heroic episodes in Roman history composed by Thomas Babington Macaulay. Incidentally, Lord Macaulay is the person we should all thank for a bilingual colonial India and for the Indian Penal Code! :)

But I digress. Coming back to the Lays...

I just wrapped up Forsyth's "The Afghan"... and on a couple of occasions, the lead character quotes lines from the lead poem of the Lays, "Horatius". The poem
concerns Horatius Cocles' heroic defense of the bridge to Rome against the Tuscan Army. I happened to read the poem, and while all of its 70 verses makes for an awesome read, the following lines are particularly powerful!

Then out spake brave Horatius,
the Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods

Friday, October 12, 2007

One Art

Comcast can be so good to you sometimes! You sign up as a new subscriber, speak sweetly with the operator, and you could end up with a free year-long subscription to the HBO suite of channels!

While flipping through the aforementioned channels I happened across a screening of "In Her Shoes" - this movie adaptation of the Jennifer Weiner novel, starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine, is surprisingly good and is highly recommended, but that's not what this post is about! This movie introduced me to one of my favorite poems! Believe it or not, the first time I encountered Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" was when Cameron Diaz mumbled painfully through it during this movie... and as I watched that scene again today, I couldn't help but be reminded of the beauty of those words... and the emotions behind it! Read on:

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

— Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

In defense of the split infinitive...

{This post is a 'reply' to NK's comment on an earlier post of mine. You can find the original post and that comment here.}

Strictly speaking, the debate about the validity of split infinitives still rages on and using them is more a matter of personal preference than a grammatical no can do.

For my part, as far as solecisms go, I love an occasional split infinitive. Moreover, as Wikipedia sagely reminded me, one of the most famous split infinitives occurs in the opening sequence of the Star Trek television series: to boldly go where no man has gone before! And I say if it works for Captain Kirk, it works for me! :-)

Actually, Wikipedia has a very fair and balanced discussion on the subject. I think this line sums it up best: "Most experts on language now agree that the split infinitive is sometimes appropriate. Those who use it consciously may see it as a form of hyperbaton, and some major poets have employed this to good effect." There! I seem to have won half the battle. Now if only I can finish that epic poem I started... ;-)

Speaking of poets and split infinitives, I would be remiss if I didn't include the Bard's Sonnet 142 here:

Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate,
Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving:
O! but with mine compare thou thine own state,
And thou shalt find it merits not reproving;
Or, if it do, not from those lips of thine,
That have profan'd their scarlet ornaments
And seal'd false bonds of love as oft as mine,
Robb'd others' beds' revenues of their rents.
Be it lawful I love thee, as thou lov'st those
Whom thine eyes woo as mine importune thee:
Root pity in thy heart, that, when it grows,
Thy pity may deserve to pitied be.

If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide,
By self-example mayst thou be denied!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Good Grammar Is Hot!

Found this on a Facebook community which goes by the name "Good Grammar Is Hot"! :-)

Now, I am no grammar prude (and have been known to make more than an acceptable number of grammatical errors on my off days), but I must admit that meeting blokes who completely butcher the Queen's tongue with reckless abandon is mildly infuriating... Actually, scratch that - it's not so much people who make mistakes that irk me as it is people who are affronted when you offer constructive feedback. I, for one, say that there's no easier way to learn than to proactively seek criticism when you commit a faux pas... but until I keep meeting people who don't subscribe to that viewpoint, I say more power to the grammar sheriff! ;-)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tell All The Truth...

Found this one posted on another subway wall today... Emily Dickinson's "Tell all the truth but tell it slant". MTA's "Poetry In Motion" initiative continues to entertain!
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

O Tell Me the Truth About Love

Nowhere in the U.S. does public transit have as much of a flavor and as much of a life of its own as in NYC! The sights - sometimes heartening, sometimes heart-rending, the sounds - sometimes sweet and enthralling, often times deafening, and the smells... oh the smells! Rarely are those anything but nauseating! :)

Amidst all this are the people... the quintessential New Yorkers - People who refuse to make eye-contact, lest you are one of those freaks who lurks in Central Park at night, are crushed up against others who need but the smallest of excuses to lapse into an animated discussion about that book you are reading!

Faced with such contradictions, it would be hard to imagine a curious person like me doing anything but people-watching... Alas, this breed of humans doesn't take too kindly to being stared at! Which kinda limits my options...hehe. So often times, I pick my poison - between catching up on my reading and listening to the latest podcasts, I usually have my 50 minute commute pretty well covered! :) But sometimes I just don't feel like doing either, and it is then that I keep myself busy by intently reading the subway signs and advertisements!

Anyway, recently I was pleasantly surprised to see the following lines from W.H.Auden's "
O Tell Me the Truth About Love" posted in one of the subway cars:

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose,
Will it knock on my door in the morning
Or tread in the bus on my toes,
Will it come like a change in the weather,
Will its greeting be courteous or bluff,
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

You can find the full poem here.

Now I am not a big fan of Auden's work, but I must admit that I have always liked this one quite a bit. So I asked around... and realized that this was a part of the MTA's "Poetry in Motion" campaign, a 15-year old partnership between the MTA and
the Poetry Society of America (PSA). Starting in 1992 with "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" by Walt Whitman, "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson, "When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats, and "Let There Be New Flowering" by Lucille Clifton, each year the MTA and the PSA jointly select poems that are displayed in subway cars and buses either in full or as excerpts! You can find some of the past poems here. What a brilliant idea! Nothing like a smart verse or two to brighten up one's commute - for once, I think, a bureaucratic policy seems to be doing more good than harm! :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Go Asok!

Having met a few ignorant foreigners of my own, I can say in all honesty that there have been times when I wished I could do this! Hehe ;-)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I do not love thee with mine eyes...

{Thanks to the good folks at The Daily Puppy}

Here's the next edition of "some cute puppies for you"! :)

These pics reminded me of the first few lines of Shakespeare's Sonnet 141... The canine countenance just seem to have that weird effect on me - It's this totally innocent, trusting gaze... It seems to pierce right through the outer facade, and peek into the deepest recesses of my heart. Frankly, it confounds me a little - I can't help but wonder how, despite all the crap these creatures see us do, they still manage to find something in us that they can love and be faithful to. Herein might lie one explanation:

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote.


--




Friday, June 22, 2007

Call me a Pollyanna if you like...

{This post is a 'reply' to vrroom's question: Are we evolving or degenerating? You can find the original post here.}

This is actually a very pertinent question - depending on who you ask, we as a generation are either at the pinnacle of human achievement or in the deepest possible abyss of human depravity... I actually think it's neither of the above - IMHO, if you set up a report card of sorts to measure the progressiveness of one human generation against another, all the generations would perform identically on a sum total basis, provided you picked a just set of metrics! :)

So while the current generation is probably one's best bet if you want a life expectancy greater than, say, 30 years - almost every other generation before ours lost millions to scourges like plagues, cholera, typhus... and yes, war - we still leave much to be desired in terms of general 'happiness' quotient. I think, almost every generation has contributed immensely to our understanding of science and the evolution of human art and culture. If we consider ourselves as stewards of our planet, it is undeniable that the current generation has made a royal mess of the ecosystem - but, on a relative basis, I don't think we have performed much worse than the guys who pumped the first toxic pollutants out there during the Industrial Revolution. And yes, things like reservations and intolerance and hunger and poverty do make one wonder if we are still in the Dark Ages, but no generation of the past was ever devoid of social maladies.

In summary, I think as a civilization, the human race has flat-lined for centuries. On a relative basis, it's hard to make a case saying that we have truly progressed... but it would be equally hard to make a case saying that we have regressed. That being said, history needn't necessarily be the crutch we use as an excuse to do nothing... We have all the tools we will ever need to become a 'progressive' generation - to end poverty in our lifetime... to remedy the 'climate' issue for good... to find cures for several deadly diseases... to bring people of different races, nationalities, social classes and cultures together in a dialogue like never before. All we need to do is believe that we can, and then take some goddamn action! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mmmmmmm...

I just had some more of this heavenly ice-cream that I bought a couple of days ago - Edy's Slow Churned Rich & Creamy's French Silk flavor! As the package describes it, it's chocolate mocha mousse light ice cream with chocolaty chips swirled with vanilla mousse light ice cream... Mmmmmmm... ;)



The packaging would also have me believe that I am consuming 1/2 the fat and 1/3 the calories that I normally would have from a similar product! I'll be damned if I care...hehe. I am not going to let a little over-salubriousness on Edy's part keep me away from what is otherwise a perfectly sinfully delicious flavor! ;)

For the record, I totally love it... and can't wait to end this post and go and have some more! ;)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blast from the past: Rein in these Hounds!

--
Sunday, October 10, 2004

Rein in these Hounds!

Watched this awesome documentary called "Control Room" a few days ago... It's on Al Jazeera and the whole scenario surrounding the oppression of objective journalism in today's world... It really struck a chord...

Come to think of it what is this 'reality' that we speak of? Is it something tangible and universal or merely our perception of events? And if it is the latter, then shouldn't we be immensely worried about the rampant abuse of all the media around us which shape our perceptions?!!

I have watched FOX News butcher every notion of "fair and balanced" reporting that I had... I have seen the 'Times of India' turn into a dishrag, shamelessly furthering the cause of its corporate cousins (like Indiatimes and Times FM)... I have seen the political spin-masters weaving their webs merely minutes after a candidate has said something and trying to convert his message into something totally unrecognizable! But that's not the real shocking bit - the most frustrating part is that common people like you and me seem to be swayed by all this wand-waving!

With the media playing such a dramatic role in all 'our' views and opinions it really is a wonder that we don't do more to ensure that we indeed get ONLY the 'news' and not the 'opinions'... Infact to take it one step further, sometimes we get neither news nor opinions, but complete fiction! But then again, mebbe the reason we hear what we hear is simply because that is indeed what we WANT to hear! If more people took a stand and said 'enough is enough', these slaves of ratings would have to stop and take notice and change their errant ways!

And may I add that 'errant' doesn't really say it all - Misconstruing Kerry's pragmatic thought on measuring up to global standards of propriety and turning it into some garbage about 'global veto' is blasphemy and slander and not 'errant' behaviour... 'Errant' is what a 5-yr old kid is when he breaks the cookie jar!!! When TOI uses a quarter of the front page on the world's largest-selling English daily to harp on about some dating funda on '8888', it's bordering on cheap prostitution, not an 'errant' act!!!

Today's media needs to hear this loud and clear - We the people are adults...and are capable of independent thought! We DO NOT need you to tell us what message to draw from what we see! We are in a democracy goddamit - not some state-sponsored thought-sanitization program! Documentaries like 'Control Room' need to be seen by us all - if it doesn't make you erupt into a vicious tirade like this, it will atleast make you uncomfortable enough to stop and reflect for a while!

Blast from the past: Bob Dylan's coming to town!

Oh god, I remember this day so so clearly - I was so excited that I was going for a Dylan concert... Unfortunately, the show was one of the biggest letdowns ever! Dylan creaked and croaked through most of the songs, letting the instruments play on instead of doing much singing... But I guess one must make allowances for his age. In hindsight, I am going to find consolation in the fact that I got to see a legend that up close! :)

--
Friday, October 08, 2004

Bob Dylan's coming to town!

When I was in eighth grade, some teacher of mine dreamt up the notion that I had a good singing voice! This delusion led her to make me sing a song (which I instantly took an immense liking to) in our annual school performances! While that performance is a memory best forgotten, the song has stayed with me through all these years... primarily because the words still resonate true even in todays day and age - nearly 45 years after the song was first written!!!!:O:O That song was Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind"... a veritable classic...

Since then, over these past few years, I have grown to love and admire the work of the great Mr. Zimmerman... So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that Bob Dylan HIMSELF was going to be performing LIVE in UCSB's Events Center... Right here, in my freakin' university!!! Yippeee Doooo! So the tickets were bought promptly and now all I can do is count the days off till October 21st...

Here are those wonderful lyrics of the very first Dylan song I ever heard:

=====

BLOWIN' IN THE WIND

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

=====

For more such Dylan lyrics, here's a great site to check out: http://orad.dent.kyushu-u.ac.jp/dylan/default.html

Bob Dylan is the man who is said to have represented an era... a man who spoke for an entire generation... In 13 days when he speaks again, I will be right there listening with my ears tweaked:D:D

Blast from the past: Indians in the news... in weirdly different ways ;-)

Both these video links are dead, and while the first one is lost forever, I did manage to find and embed the Russell Peters' video below... Enjoy!

--
Thursday, October 07, 2004

Indians in the news... in weirdly different ways ;-)

Well, this one's gonna be a real shorty...hehe. Over the past few days I came across 2 radically different examples of Indians in the news out here in the US and Canada!

The first is from the Conan O'Brien Show:

http://methodshop.com/tech/articles/conan/

Quite a hilarious take on the whole out-sourcing bizness... ;-)

And this second piece is by a Canadian-Indian (I think) stand-up comic who goes by the name Russell Peters... This one's a blast too!

http://jariwala.net/russellpeters.ram

I'm sure you guys are gonna have a blast looking these up...

Enjoy!

--

Blast from the past: Cracking the Cherry ;-)

A long, long time ago - 2 years, 8 months, 14 days ago, to be precise - I had started another blog... I had been in the U.S. for just over 395 days, and I don't really know what I was thinking... I actually thought that I would be able to make time during grad school to write regular updates and posts - how wrong I was! Hehe. The blog 'died' after just 4 days... and only surfaced again this morning when a very dear friend reminded me of its existence!

So I went right back... looked through some of those posts... and it's all so funny! I sound like a different person... naive and way-more clueless than I feel today! It felt like I had put a piece of myself into a time capsule, forgotten all about it, and had now stumbled upon it most unexpectedly! Purely for academic purposes, I will now reproduce 4 of my posts from that ill-fated first attempt at blogging... Here's hoping my 'blog' has better luck this time around! Hehe :)

P.S. Btw, if the whole "calculating the days between two dates" bit amused you, here's when you can do some conversions of your own!

--
Thursday, October 07, 2004

Cracking the Cherry ;-)

Well, my oh my... Look what we got here... My very first entry in Blogger... Lemme tell you why this is such a BIG step for me ;-)

Ever since I was a kid I've read these creepy books wherein the protagonist's journal entries somehow came back to haunt them in their later lives... Add to that the apparently ungainly fear that I might die tomorrow and someone I didn't want to would make millions by publishing these very private works (a la Anne Frank), and you had a potent set of reasons to stay away from writing journals of any variety! hehe. Besides, I never really saw any virtue in writing down one's thoughts on paper as a therapeutic device when infact similar or better results could be achieved by a simple 10 minute discussion with self (self-talk is what the shrinks like to call it, me thinks) while sitting on the commode ;-)

But then what's changed today? Why am I here? Why have I joined the ranks of those millions who identify with that exceptionally cheesy phrase "Dear Diary"...:D:D?? Very frankly, I donno... I guess I saw this somewhere, thought it was a cool concept and said "why not?"...

But that's the funny bit - this isn't really like the journals of yore... Here we very much expect that someone might read these thoughts that we put down... Infact some might be putting them down for that very reason... hehe. Who cares! It's an experiment, and I'm a scientist... And I'll be damned if I discount it without giving it it's fair chance to flap its arms around and make a bid at survival... ;-) With these words I embark... and I hope in the days to come, I have very good reasons to continue... But we are getting ahead of ourselves here - that's something only time will tell!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jacques the Labrador/Shar-Pei Mix

{Thanks to the good folks at The Daily Puppy}

I think I may have just found the "breed" I want to get when I finally do get me a dog! Hehe. He is so adorable! :)





Monday, June 18, 2007

Butchy the Labrador Mix

{Thanks to the good folks at The Daily Puppy}

My pick for today's edition of "here's a cute-as-hell-puppy" is Butchy, the Labrador Mix. And it was heartening to hear that she was rescued from a shelter. Having volunteered at a dog shelter not too long ago, I know firsthand how much the dogs there could use a good friend. While the conditions are certainly a lot better in than out on the streets, a dog shelter is still a high-stress environment for the dogs.

Most of the shelter dogs have had a traumatic life - the unlucky ones have been abused, beaten, starved; the lucky ones were merely left to die on the streets when their 'family' had to move somewhere and decided that the dog was too much of a burden to take along; the truly lucky ones get picked up by rescue workers who bring them into the shelter. The volunteer-run shelters (the less said about the state-run shelters the better...hehe) survive on community support and charitable donations and typically struggle to make ends meet. And pecuniary strangulation isn't the only thing I'm talking about - what they suffer from is an acute shortage of volunteers!

Like I was saying, a shelter is a high-stress environment for dogs. They are confined in small cages in very close proximity to a ton of other barking, howling, traumatized dogs. Compounded with their painful past, it doesn't really give them a fair shot at a proper rehabilitation. That's where the volunteers come in - at a typical shelter, the volunteers help feed the dogs, take them out for walks, play with them... and just generally give the dogs something to wag those tails at! :) However, such volunteers are usually a high-turnover corps, leading to times when the shelters are left with no one to give the pooches the much-needed R&R!! I'm not one to preach, but I do urge you - if you are in the U.S. and have never checked out an animal shelter, please find one near you using this ASPCA link. On a lazy Saturday afternoon, walk/drive to that shelter, and spend some time getting to know the dogs and feeding them some treats - it will make a huge difference in their day, and you will leave feeling a little more at peace with yourself - I guarantee it!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Aaargghhhh... I just can't take it any more!

Hitch has been playing on TBS two weekends in a row now... and my housemate and I can't take it any more... hehe. Now don't get me wrong - it's not that we don't enjoy the movie - it's quite cute and conducts itself as credibly as a rom-com possibly can! It's just that those lines are ekdum "too much"! Total dil pe ghaanv and stuff... hehe! And neither he nor I are particularly in the mood for mush...

So I am going to do what one should do with all demons - face them... :) Here are some of the 'memorable' quotes from Hitch!

Hitch: Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away.
--
Sara: What should we toast to?
Hitch: Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.
--
Hitch: Basic Principles - no woman wakes up saying "God, I hope I don't get swept off my feet today!" Now, she might say "This is a really bad time for me," or something like "I just need some space," or my personal favorite "I'm really into my career right now." You believe that? Neither does she. You know why? 'Cause she's lying to you, that's why. You understand me? Lying! It's not a bad time for her. She doesn't need any space. And she may be into her career, but what she's really saying is "Uh, get away from me now," or possibly "Try harder, stupid," but which one is it? 60% of all human communication is nonverbal, body language; 30% is your tone, so that means 90% of what you're saying ain't coming out of your mouth. Of course she's going to lie to you! She's a nice person! She doesn't want to hurt your feelings! What else she going to say? She doesn't even know you... yet. Luckily, the fact is that just like the rest of us, even a beautiful woman doesn't know what she wants until she sees it, and that's where I come in. My job is to open her eyes. Basic Principles - no matter what, no matter when, no matter who... any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet; he just needs the right broom.
--
Hitch: What's that?
[indicating the donuts]
Albert: I figured maybe if my heart stops beating it wouldn't hurt so bad.
--
Albert: You know, honestly, I never knew I could feel like this. You know? I swear I'm, I'm going out of my mind. It's like I want to throw myself off of every building in New York. I, I see a cab and I just wanna dive in front of it because then I'll stop thinking about her.
Hitch: Look, you will. Just give it time.
Albert: That's just it. I don't want to. I mean, I've waited my whole life to feel this miserable. I mean, and if this is the only way I can stay connected with her, then... well, this is who I have to be.

Hai haiiiiiiii! Like fultoo zhakaas! Hehehe! That last one totally gets me... every single time! :) Anyway, now that the beast hath finally been slain, I can safely head off to bed and call it a night!

Ooooo - going... going... goneeeeeee!

Just watched Angel Cabrera make some magic to hold off Furyk and Woods, and become the first Argentinian to win the US Open... and the Oakmont Country Club undoubtedly provided some of toughest greens in golfing history for him to work off of!

As I watched Tiger chip away assiduously to make par all through the back 9... up to that must-make birdie at the 18th, I (and almost everyone else watching, I am sure) kept hoping for a miracle... A miracle which, this time around, just didn't come! It appears that whether we want to believe it or not, Tiger is a mere mortal after all! Hehe. :)

But our collective hope for a miracle was not unfounded - anyone who's seen Woods do what his did in 2005 at The Masters in Augusta, GA can't help but expect just a little more of that every time he walks onto the green... Kinda like how we expected Sachin, once upon a time, to hit a century every time he set his foot upon the pitch! If you weren't lucky enough to have watched live what I am talking about, check out the video below... As a little background - Tiger was 29 then... hoping to win his 4th Masters, and 11th major... and man, was he great! Here's hoping he serves up a ton more of the same!

Working Class Hero...

In an earlier post, I talked about what is probably Lennon's most overtly anti-establishment song - Working Class Hero. It appeared on the 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Lennon's first official solo effort which routinely pops up on various "Top 100 albums of all times" lists! As you read the lyrics (see below), you see the themes of class and social alienation that originated in Lennon's bourgeois upbringing and figured prominently in his post Beatles' musical voice.

As soon as your born they make you feel small,
By giving you no time instead of it all,
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school,
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool,
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years,
Then they expect you to pick a career,
When you can't really function you're so full of fear,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free,
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

There's room at the top they are telling you still,
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill,
A working class hero is something to be.
A working class hero is something to be.
If you want to be a hero well just follow me,
If you want to be a hero well just follow me.

There are so many parts of this song that resonate with me - For example, I get 'ambition'... I might even get 'driving your kids till they are totally focused on success'... But sometimes I can't help but wonder if we take it a little too far? I mean, how many people do we all know who go through 20-30 years of their life, only to look back and wonder, "where did all that time go? why didn't I enjoy the journey more?". I think there is a lot of virtue in enjoying the ride! After all, that's the only thing that comes with a guarantee - given the vagaries of life, there's no telling when the 'end' might come! :)

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised during a recent episode of American Idol, when Green Day got on stage and sang a very respectable cover of this song! I gumshoed a little and realized that this cover was part of a bigger effort - Some of the biggest names in music (U2, R.E.M., Black Eyed Peas, Snow Patrol, etc.) have come together for a benefit-album project. This one, called
Instant Karma: Campaign to Save Darfur, donates all its proceeds to Amnesty International's humanitarian efforts in Darfur. The album features 23 songs from Lennon's post-Beatles catalog, including classics like 'Imagine', 'Power To The People', 'Isolation', 'Mother', 'Give Peace A Chance', and 'Beautiful Boy'. (Watch the promo ad here and buy the album if you can - it's good music, and the proceeds benefit a cause that's begging for our intervention.)

Meanwhile here's the video of the Green Day cover - doesn't it just make you wonder, "how can we let this happen to our fellow man"? :(

Kleiner's Laws

It's hard to be in my line of work and not have heard of KPCB - As far as venture capital firms go, this is the grand daddy of them all! With a portfolio that includes, amongst others, Google, Palm, Amazon, Netscape (since acquired by AOL, which it also invests in), Electronic Arts, Cypress Semiconductor, Sun Microsystems, and Genentech, KPCB is the poster child of the VC space and a firm everyone looks to while placing bets on which emerging tech is likely to hit it big!

Eugene Kleiner was one of the founding partners of this firm, and this post is about him. Kleiner, who is widely considered as the father of venture capitalism, was a colorful character to say the least... and he enjoyed a good metaphor when he saw one! But before we get into that, here's a little background. A long long time ago, when Shockley was trying to figure out how to commercialize his transistors (and much before he became the eugenics nut of his later days), his substrate of choice was 'germanium'! Luckily for us, a few of his key people disagreed, fell out with their boss, and formed Fairchild Semiconductor, gave us the 'integrated circuit' and literally put the 'silicon' in the Valley! Had it not been for Kleiner and the so-called 'traitorous eight', we would be working with thermally-problematic germanium and genetically engineering Hitler's Aryan race! Hehe.

So Kleiner, like I said, was a colorful man who loved his metaphors... weaving a ton of his beliefs around food and such... Some of his aphorisms are collectively called "Kleiner's Laws" and make for a fun read!
  • Make sure the dog wants to eat the dog food. No matter how ground-breaking a new technology, how large a potential market, make certain customers actually want it.
  • Build one business at a time. Most business plans are overly ambitious. Concentrate on being successful in one endeavor first.
  • The time to take the tarts is when they're being passed. If an environment is right for funding, go for it. (This one is often referred to as Kleiner's Law of Appetizers)
  • The problem with most companies is they don't know what business they're in.
  • Even turkeys can fly in a high wind. In times of strong economies, even bad companies can look good.
  • It's easier to get a piece of an existing market than to create a new one.
  • It's difficult to see the picture when you're inside the frame.
  • After learning some of the tricks of the trade, some people think they know the trade.
  • Venture capitalists will stop at nothing to copy success.
  • Invest in people, not just products.
  • There is a time when panic is the appropriate response.
:) Wise words indeed! I can't even begin to tell you how often I speak to this start-up or that which seems to be comprised of folks working hard at ignoring several if not all of these rules! You can't help but wonder - are these guys idiots or do they just think that I am one!! Hehe. Someday I will write a post sharing some of those stories... Until then, may the force be with the one who chooses to follow these laws! ;)

Awwwwwwwwww...

Yes, I am a dog-lover (in case my profile picture didn't give that away already...hehe)! Nowhere is it more apparent than in my reaction to all things canine; I am just a sucker for the dogs... small ones, big ones, pure-breeds and mongrels... doesn't matter... If it walks on four paws and barks while cocking its head to one side and wagging its tail furiously, I love it! :)

Infact, my life's only real regret has been my complete inability to have a dog of my own in all these many years! And my mom's to blame for that! Actually, it's not 'coz she doesn't like dogs
. Au contraire, she a dog-person too. She had one growing up, and was quite traumatized by his eventual demise. Not wanting to put herself through the pain of such bereavement again, her P.O.V. has been 'get a dog when YOU can take care of him'! Now that's been quite hard to do all these years what with staying in Mumbai with both parents working and me spending a good part of my day out of the house getting educated and all that good stuff...hehe. Then I came to the U.S. - but the education process continued to be my own personal albatross! Grad school is now finally over, and I am gainfully employed! After nearly a year on the icky frigid east coast (I refuse to subject a dog to such inhumane living conditions!), I am headed back to my beloved, dog-friendly west coast in a couple of months! And at last, I have my first real shot at owning a dog... provided ofcourse that I can convince my bosses to let me bring him to work! Let's see how that one goes... fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, I satiate my dog love, by playing with other junta's dogs on the streets, volunteering at the local dog shelter, and occasionally going "Awwwwwwwwww..." over a cute pic I find on the net! If it wasn't obvious already (hehe), this post is all about such an online cornucopia! :)


I discovered The Daily Puppy quite by accident on someone's Orkut page! And it's been such a pleasure! Every day the kind, good-hearted souls behind that website profile a new puppy... with a back story and tons o
f adorable pictures! In a span of a few days, the website has become in regular in my list of 'websites I must visit daily' (along with CNN, TOI and Bored...hehe). But you know how it is with these websites - here today, gone tomorrow... And losing out on this veritable treasure chest would be a disaster, wouldn't it?! ;) So I am going to make an attempt to post atleast one puppy-pic from that website to my blog every day... starting with these few ones of two Labrador sisters - Belle and Layla!

























Gawd! I am such a sap...

No I am serious - I really am a sorry sap... a total sucker for all the things that guys are stereotypically not meant to be suckers for! Actually, I prefer to see myself as a study in contrasts and call that the fountainhead of my intrigue and allure...hehe!

Anyway, I digress...

So like I was saying, I am a sorry sap! While The Godfather continues to be one of the coolest books that I have ever read, Love Story still manages to get me a little misty-eyed after all these years... My lips curl up in a semi-smile when I watch Notting Hill or Serendipity and I must say that I cheered for Rhett and Scarlett to get together with the same vehement urgency that I usually reserve for cheering John McClane on while he goes all 'yippee-ki-yay, mo-fo' on the bad guys! Hehe. Then there is music - actually let's not even go there... I don't think I ever really found anything particularly likeable in the usual guy-loves - punk/acid rock, anti-establishment heavy metal... I think the closest I got to 'anti-establishment' in my musical likes was Lennon's Working Class Hero!

(Btw, I was recently shocked to hear from a couple of my Amru colleagues that not only had they never heard of the Erich Segal masterpiece, but that they were also unaware that The Godfather was actually a book before it became a cult-classic movie!!! Quel Sacrilege! If any of you who have happened across this post belong to either of those categories, please do yourself a favor, click on the link above and order a copy TODAY! hehe)

Anyway, I digress again...

So like I have been saying all this while, I am but a sorry sap! A sentimental softie... and I am not yet sure if that's such a good thing... While I figure that out, if someone asks, the official line is that this antithesis is an integral part of my charm! ;)

She walks in beauty... or does she?!

{This post is a 'reply' to one of Athena's posts on Lord Byron's famous poem - you can navigate to that original post by clicking here.}

Aaaahhh Lord Byron! And such a sweet, dulcet poem! While others might believe he wrote such beautiful words out of love, I have a slightly different interpretation... hehe. I think that the good Lord was too much of a gentleman to call a spade a spade - Luckily 'reticence' is not a problem that ever plagued Shakespeare!

Here I offer what, IMHO, Lord Byron actually might have liked to say:

The wiles and guiles that women work,
Dissembled with an outward show,
The tricks and toys that in them lurk,
The cock that treads them shall not know.
Have you not heard it said full oft,
A woman's nay doth stand for nought?

Think women still to strive with men,
To sin and never for to saint:
There is no heaven, by holy then,
When time with age doth them attaint.
Were kisses all the joys in bed,
One woman would another wed.


Hehehe! Aaahhh women - they will be the death of us all! :)

How to cut a human into half...

... and still have them breathing and crawling!!! This is such freaky stuff!! Brrrrrrrr...


In case you haven't see this man in action before, he's Criss Angel and has a show on A&E called Mindfreak! I have seen him do some truly mind freaking stuff on that show - including levitating between 2 buildings, getting skewered etc. Now obviously these are all illusions or 'tricks', but it still belies the question - how the heck did he do it!?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Panda sneezes...

I know that pandas only "look" cute and are infact wild beasts like any other species of bears... but still... there is no denying the fact that this is totally adorable and mildly hilarious...hehe! :)

Think before you send!

After getting all those tons of emails which warned me about how my Orkut account or my YahooMail ID was just about to be canceled, or how I would be visited by the wrath of God if I didn't forward some Scandinavian child's plea for a gonad, I figured that this is most certainly an apt thing to put up on my blog. :)

From the guys who wrote the well-publicized book "The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your Email Before It Manages You", here's a short article that outlines 7 websites where you can quickly (trust me, it takes only 5 minutes!) check out the veracity of your email's contents before you send it out to every single living person whose email ID you happen to possess.

Enjoy, and hopefully, once the word gets around, I will never hear of another email which wants me to spam 10 of my friends to fulfill every wish I every dreamed...:)

--

General Scams and Hoaxes

www.snopes.com – “Snopes” focuses on email hoaxes. You can read carefully researched analyses of just about any popular email message floating around the web. Urban legends, political myths, folklore, and plain old misinformation are carefully taken to task by the Snopes.com team. Snopes is a grass roots effort by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson that is supported by some advertising revenue.

www.about.com – A commercial “portal” which features a search engine and a number of general channels like religion and business. Good, solid well-researched information. About.com also has a helpful urban legends and folklore section. Just go to About.com and search for ‘urban legends’. It’s a good alternative to Snopes.

www.truthorfiction.com – Internet users can quickly and easily get information about eRumors, warnings, offers, requests for help, myths, hoaxes, virus warnings, and humorous or inspirational stories that are circulated by email.

Healthcare Info

www.medlineplus.gov – A service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Pre-formulated MEDLINE searches are included in MedlinePlus and give easy access to medical journal articles. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news. Before you buy into the latest healthcare fad, experimental surgery, herbal miracle cure, or drug company claim – take a moment to surf this non-commercial government site.

www.webmd.com – Provides a very contemporary and comprehensive commercial site on health issues that is supported by sponsor revenues. The sponsors are unobtrusive and are listed as links at the bottom of the page. The information appears to be well-researched by medical professionals but keep in mind that you check with your doctor before making any major changes to your healthcare regimen.

Political Fact and Fiction

Note: Some political fact checking sites can have a political orientation. We recommend reading several of them to get a broader bi-partisan view of politics.

www.factcheck.org – This site claims to be a non-partisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They monitor “TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.” They strive to provide an ethically and politically balanced view of the political world.

www.cjrdaily.org – According to their website, CJR Daily is a real-time critique of journalism and a continuing discussion and analysis of where journalism is as a craft and a business, and where it's going. Operating under the auspices of the Columbia Journalism Review, the focus is on three areas: political journalism; the larger forces -- political, economic, technological, social, legal -- that affect journalism; and the business and financial press.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Vicco Vajradanti

Yippeeee... and look what I found! Oh this is so cool - I have been trying to locate this one for sucha long time! :) The jingle goes something like this:

Vajradanti Vanjradanti Vicco Vajradanti
Toothpowder, toothpaste
Ayurvedic jaDibooTiyon se bana sampoorNa swadesHi
Toothpowder, toothpaste
Vicco Vajradanti!

Vicco Turmeric Ayurvedic Cream!!

God, this is such a blast from the past - I keep trawling the YouTubes of the world for such goodies... and occasionally you find a gem!

That's Sangeeta Bijlani in her pre-Azhar days... and I must have been like 8-9 when this used to keep playing on the TV and in the movie theaters...over and over again... Was so sick of it back then! Hehe :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Let's drop the big one...

Just discovered this Randy Newman song from 1972! This is political satire at its best... and still so topical! Who would have thunk that this person who I only knew as the music composer from some of my favorite animated movies (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Cars, Monsters,Inc.) had this in him... hehe :)

Very rarely have I seen the irony of the U.S. foreign policy put so beautifully in words... Read on!

No one likes us-I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us-so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia's crowded and Europe's too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada's too cold
And South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one
There'll be no one left to blame us

We'll save Australia
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo
We'll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin', too

Boom goes London and boom Paris
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono
And there'll be Italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let's drop the big one now
Let's drop the big one now


Searchin' My Soul...

I've been down this road walkin' the line
That's painted by pride
And I have made mistakes in my life
That I just can't hide

Oh I believe I am ready for what love has to bring
Got myself together, now I'm ready to sing

I've been searchin' my soul tonight
I know there's so much more to life
Now I know I can shine a light
To find my way back home

One by one, the chains around me unwind
Every day now I feel that I can leave those years behind

Oh I've been thinking of you for a long time
There's a side of my life where I've been blind and so...

I've been searchin' my soul tonight
I know there's so much more to life
Now I know I can shine a light
Everything gonna be alright
Ive been searchin' my soul tonight
Don't wanna be alone in life
Now I know I can shine a light
To find my way back home
Baby I've been holding back now my whole life
I've decided to move on now
Gonna leave all my worries behind

Oh I believe I am ready for what love has to give
Got myself together now I'm ready to live

I've been searchin' my soul tonight
I know there's so much more to life
Now I know I can shine a light
Everything gonna be alright
I've been searchin' my soul tonight
Don't wanna be alone in my life
Now I know I can shine a light
To find my way back home

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes... really bother!

This is one of the cutest TV commercials I have EVER seen - made me want to run right out and get me a puppy! :)



Hello mother; hello father
Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes; really bother
Thanks for the package; that's why I'm writing
K9 Advantix quickly stopped all the biting!

Swimming, hiking; and tent pitching
They're not biting; I'm not itching
Can't wait to show you; all my new tricks
Thanks again for sending me K9 Advantix!

Want kids? Think again!

Hehehe... This is why people should think twice before they decide to place a home delivery order with the stork express!

From the devilish minds of the geniuses behind "Family Guy"... here's Stewie doing what he does best...hehe :)

Brown Penny... Never Give All The Heart!

Love is such a funny funny thing - one minute, it makes you want to jump up in glee... the very next, it makes you want to whack the hell out of a piƱata! Hehe! :)

Was just looking over some poetry by Yeats and I came across a perfect example of this phenomenon... Here are two poems - In the first one (Brown Penny), Yeats urges us to go out there, not waste another moment, and immerse ourselves into the glorious thing that is 'love'! And in the next one (Never Give All The Heart) he warns us against throwing caution to the wind when we fall in love - as his own personal heartache taught him, if you love completely, it will simply come and bite you where the sun don't shine! Haha!:)

Brown Penny

I whispered, 'I am too young,'

And then, 'I am old enough';
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
'Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.'
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

Never Give All The Heart

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy. Kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

What weapons has the Lion but himself?

Here are some pithy words that I hold very dear... words that, you might say, I live my life by... God, that sounds so pretentious...hehe. Anyway, while nowhere close to being the complete set of my "guiding principles", this will do as a starter! :)

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
- Maya Angelou


"The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within."
- Mahatma Gandhi

"What weapons has the Lion but himself?"
- John Keats

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe."
- Anatole France


"The first duty of society is to give each of its members the possibility of fulfilling his destiny. When it becomes incapable of performing this duty it must be transformed."
- Alexis Carrel,
Reflections on Life

"You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note."
- Doug Floyd

"A boy doesn't have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn't like pie when he sees there isn't enough to go around."
- Edward W. Howe

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy."
- Abraham Lincoln

"If you can come to peace with the fact that you're surrounded by idiots, you'll realize that resistance is futile,your tension will dissipate, and you can sit back and have a good laugh at the expense of others."
- Scott Adams,
The Dilbert Principle

How the heck did they do THAT!?

Sometime last year the creators of American Idol put on this show on NBC called America's Got Talent - any and every Charlie who thought he could entertain an audience showed up for an audition... So as you can imagine there were tons of jugglers, and strippers, and magicians, and singers, and tap dancers and even a snapper... some entertaining, most thoroughly irritating! :)

Amidst all that mediocre hoopla, IMHO, there was one standout act - this couple who did a routine involving quick wardrobe changes! Yeah, that was their act - they changed clothes with alarming alacrity!

The next time your significant other spends a fortune in time getting dressed, here's a handy "how to do it before the ice age comes again" guide to getting changed quick... REAL quick! Till date, whenever I watch this, I can't stop myself from wondering - How the heck did they do THAT!? Hehe! :)

Sofa King Hilarious!

From the always-funny Saturday Night Live, here's that ridiculously-crazy Sofa King spot:

Why does it always rain on me?

So I was watching this 5-part, reality TV show on ABC the other day... it's called Ex-Wives Club... Using three real-life victims of the ex-phenomena (Marla Maples, Angie Everhart and Shar Jackson), the show ambitiously attempts to tackle that very potent question - How do you mend a broken heart?

Now,
admittedly, this is soppy fare... definitely not for the weak of heart! As I watched along, they profiled two people with heart-rending tales... Rebecca is a well-known journalist, who fell in love with a man who she thought was perfect... until he started verbally and emotionally abusing her right since their honeymoon... Kevin was a nuclear engineer in the navy married to the mother of his 2 very cute children... He thought his life was perfect until, one day, he found out his wife was pregnant with someone else's child and wanted to walk out on him and their two children!

As I heard these two perfectly nice people recount their tales, my jaw continued to drop further with every new tidbit! They looked so simple...so pure... so full of love... Until some asshole came along and ripped their belief in love right out of them! Why them? Why does it always happen to the good ones? Now i know it's fashionable to judge them and say, "how can they let someone else make them feel bad about themselves? If they let that happen then they are just weak!". But I don't entirely agree - I think I can empathize with Kevin and Rebecca, and the scores of others out there who have been let down by someone they've invested their hearts, minds, bodies and souls into...

Life is hard - that's not a news flash for anyone... we all get hit day in and day out and we suck it in and we soldier on... From personal experience I know that this "sucking it in and soldiering on" can be far more stressful than we ever let on - that's why people like to come home and take that hot shower, or curl up next to their dog... or go on vacations... We wind ourselves up so tight trying to stay strong, that we forget how draining it can be... Then, one fine day, we find that special someone - someone you can trust implicitly and love completely... You now have someone that you can "let go" in front of - you don't have to pretend to be strong, you don't have to hold yourself together... Finally, you can just relax, for you now have someone there who will hold you and not judge... who will look out for you and never take advantage of your weak moments... To have such a someone hurt you or cheat on you must be such a self-diminishing event!? I just shudder to think! I can almost see Kevin and Rebecca go through months wondering what went wrong... killing themselves slowly over the notion that it must been their fault... that somehow THEY were inadequate... not good enough!

I could feel their pain... and could taste their tears... Haven't we all, that have dared to love, been there before? Aren't they merely kindred spirits? It was like looking into a mirror and seeing something unpleasant stare back at you... This post is not about what happened next. It isn't even about trying to figure out what drives horrendous sociopaths like Kevin and Rebecca's spouses to destroying the lives of the people who loved them. Frankly, after I heard their stories I just tuned out - the images were playing on the screen, but I was somewhere far far away.

The melancholy had taken hold... and this song by the Scottish band, Travis, kept playing on and on in my head, like it were on an endless loop. And it's funny, 'coz the song isn't even particularly about heartbreak... or anything directly relevant... It's just that the melody embodies the same pathos that I seemed to be feeling. The song's called "Why does it always rain on me?" and it goes something like this: