Friday, June 1, 2007

If thou must love me...

Some days, your heart just wants to scream out aloud... but lacks the words it needs to do it with. On some other days, you even manage to get a few words out, but they just seem so hollow... so strangely inadequate... And you wonder - if I can feel it in me, throbbing away with such great passion, why then can my brain not find that same power in the words it chooses?! (Stereotypically speaking, us men-folk are purported to be the most frequent offenders of this kind - how often we are blamed for not being able to verbalize what's truly running in our heads and our hearts! Hehe!:))

Now I am a markedly talkative bloke - you leave me in a room with some close friends and I could yap on till kingdom cometh! Hehe!:) This verbal constipation that I just mentioned is not my natural state of existence, so to speak! However, when you look at it in all honesty, it's not all that incongruous... Blessed is the one who speaks 'coz he has something to say... more often than not, we speak 'coz we can't bear the silence... And finally when we do have something to say... something truly important... truly significant... we are faced with a unique burden - how do I say it so that what comes out of my mouth is what's running in my head!?

Now don't get me wrong; this isn't merely one's fear of the 'foot-in-mouth' syndrome... I think, it's more along the lines of, "If this means so much to me that I can't bear to exist another moment without sharing it with you, how do I get it across without losing any of the intensity, the emotions, the pathos?”

It's at times like these that I keep going back to the poetry of the yesteryears. Now mind you, most of these poets were total nuts with train-wrecks for personal lives... Frequently they were suicidal... sometimes they were just sociopathic! But maybe since everything else in their lives sucked so bad, they ended up working wonders in the one area they picked to excel in - literature! Aah, what words... what thoughts... Sometimes, it feels like Browning and Shelley and Yeats and Keats traveled through time, just to peek into my heart... and then went right back, and put my feelings down on paper, in a style far better than any I could ever manage!

One such example is Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 14 - "If thou must love me, let it be for nought"! For years I have tried to knock this idea into several peoples' heads... but never have I managed to do it with such class! Hehe!:)

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'—
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

This too shall pass...

Today's been a weird day... a very weird day indeed. Actually lately I have been having quite a few of these weird days - come to think of it, when juxtaposed with those other weird days, this one almost seems half-normal! :)

It's one of those days when so much could go wrong, but it doesn't. You walk right up to the precipice and almost tumble over, but don't. When what freaks you out is not what happened, but what almost did. It's a strange fear, couched amidst a thrill which is stranger still. You know what I am talking about right? I mean, we've all had this feeling at one time or the other... maybe you've never actually thought about it in such psychotic terms, but I promise you that you've felt it too! :) It's that adrenaline-rush that you get when you take a bungee jump, or sky dive... or simply sit in a roller-coaster. The thrill isn't really in what you just went through, but what could have been!

But I digress...

So as I sat in the subway car, I was thinking about all the events of the past couple of months - I caught myself going down the "Why me?" path! And even though such a perfectly crappy "self-pity" session is considered
de rigueur in a situation like this, I just could not see myself doing it and holding on to any real sense of self-respect... it's just such a helpless feeling... makes me feel powerless - like, my life is "happening" to me, and try as hard as I may, there's nothing that I can do to change its course! Bah!

As I pulled myself back to my senses, it suddenly hit me - that fear... of what could have been. I had been about to take some really big steps in my life... set a chain of events into motion which would have consumed my existence irrevocably like a runaway reaction! Had this 'great misfortune' not 'befallen' me, my life would have been on such a different path right now... in such non-ideal conditions! Somehow those unwelcome events had pulled me back from the brink of doing something that I probably shouldn't even have been considering in the first place.

Now while there are several positives to this tale, none of them seemed to matter as I watched the train pull into the station - at that second, there was just this fear-induced thrill at how close a shave this one had been! I could feel my cheeks go red (now I grant you the fact that it doesn't take much to make me blush like a cherub, but still, this should count for something! Hehe), and my knees wobble a little bit... I think I picked the best possible word to describe the feeling - weird... just weird!

Then the objective jerk in me kicked into high gear! One of my closely-held principles in life is "It's all for the best"! Ideally this would have been a nice affirming tale that cemented that belief all over again - but there I was thinking, "Was it really such a good thing? Or was I just looking at it through nice, rosy-colored glasses and seeing what I needed to see?". And though that might be the case, frankly, at this point, I just don't care... In life, me thinks, things are rarely one way or the other - they are what we make of them... and in this case, I choose to make this perfectly unpleasant experience a principle-affirming tale! :)

Having said that, my mind jumped to this fable I had read long ago... and which I will now synopsize here - there was once this king who decided that he wanted to build the greatest repository of all human knowledge that ever existed. So he commissioned scholars from far and wide, and they returned after 5 years with several huge volumes of what would be the modern day equivalent of the
Encyclopædia Britannica! The king, in a display of what would, a few centuries later, be called the "fast food mindset", throws up his hands in despair and says, "That's too big... shorten it!". So the poor scholars go back to the drawing board and return 3 years later with a single, huge, hardbound volume - the king's reaction however remains unchanged... It's still not Reader's Digest enough for him! Hehe. So off go the scholars again, and they return after a year with a single page... with a single line on it. So the king asks them, "Is this it? Have you managed to jot down the crux of all human knowledge onto this piece of paper?". The scholars nod... sagely. The king looks at the piece of paper, and reads the line aloud for all his courtiers to hear... it says, "This too shall pass"!

While prima facie that might appear too naive, I don't think it's too far from the truth... and frankly, as human beings going through day-after-interminable-day of seemingly frustrating events, it seems like the only idea that really matters! If only every time someone hurt us, a professional roll of the die didn't go our way, and the lightening bolts just kept zinging us with amazing accuracy like they were somehow seeking us out, we could remind ourselves that "this too shall pass"!? Hurdles that until now appeared unsurmountable... problems which looked too big to solve... burdens which felt too heavy to shoulder... wouldn't they all just seem a wee little bit more manageable?! Now if only I can manage to remind myself of that fact the next time my neighbor's dog pees on our doormat! :P

Chuddi pehen ke phool khila hai...

GAWD! This song brings back such fond memories - Growing up, I used to so excitedly await the day they showed the next episode of The Jungle Book! Along with classics like 'Udan Khatola', "Dada-Dadi Ki Kahaaniyaan", and "Giant Robot", this show made my summer vacations so totally worth the wait! Hehe. Lately, as summer approaches and I resign myself to another year of eating yucky mangoes grown in Mexico, I think back to those good 'ol days when I curled up in front of the TV with 2-3 haapus mangoes, and got my fill of the escapades of Mowgli and Sher Khan! Here's to my childhood - damn I miss you! :)

Jungle jungle baat chali hai pataa chala hai... tu ru ru tu ru ru
Jungle jungle baat chali hai pataa chala hai... tu ru ru ru ru
Arre chuddi pehen ke phool khila hai
Arre chuddi pehen ke phool khila hai

Jungle jungle pataa chala hai, chuddi pehen ke phool khila hai
Jungle jungle pataa chala hai, chuddi pehen ke phool khila hai

Ek parinda hoye sharminda tHa woh nanga
Bhai is se andey ke andar tHa woh chunga
Soch raha hai baahar aakhir kyun nikla hai... tu ru ru ru ru
Arre chuddi pehen ke phool khila hai

Jungle jungle pataa chala hai, Chuddi pehen ke phool khila hai
Jungle jungle pataa chala hai, Chuddi pehen ke phool khila hai

Hamara Bajaj... Kal aur Aaj!


Aur Aaj...

Microsoft Surface

Multi-touch computing has been the 'next big thing' for well over 2 years as far as the layperson is considered, and for nearly 20 years, if you talk to a true-blue geek! :)

However, no one has been able to engineer a device which can bring this 'god-send' to you and me... atleast until now! (And here, I must state that while NYU's Jeff Han through his company Perceptive Pixel, has managed to commercialize the technology... it's still well out of my reach... logistically and financially! But, to give credit where it is rightfully due, check out Jeff's mindblowing presentation from last year's TED conference, where he first demonstrated his multi-touch interface!)

Coming back to the core point of this post, on Wednesday Microsoft unveiled "Microsoft Surface" - for a lack of a better word, let me just describe it as 'digital furniture'. It comprises a 30-inch flat screen embedded in a acrylic tabletop. What lies underneath is the true beauty though! Using infrared sensors, the innards of this new computing device can literally 'see' what's put on top of the screen... thereby not only allowing you to do all those cool things that multi-touch sensing promised us - tons of tricks with files, photos, videos etc. - but also allowing objects set on its surface to interact wirelessly and visually with the computer itself.

I am not usually a big Microsoft fan, but this time I must hand it to them. While Apple's iPhone promises to do this on a far smaller scale, Microsoft Surface is the first real, desktop multi-touch computer that you and I could get access to... This is, indeed, the first step towards letting people interact with digital content the same way they interact with other day-to-day objects... using tactile methods! Here's an awesome video from Popular Mechanics profiling this new invention!

News I'd Like To F@#k

I'm a huge fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - somehow, such 'fake news' shows seem to be the only place to go to lately, if you want to cut through all the hype and spin and get to the crux of the real issues... Working with a team of ever-changing and highly-talented 'correspondents', Jon manages to make me laugh out loud... whether it's at night just before my head hits the pillow... or while I eat my lunch at work the next day! :)

Moreover, after some initial reluctance, I seem to have warmed up to Jon's protégé, Stephen Colbert, and his show, The Colbert Report. Infact, come to think of it, what he does is waaaay harder than what Jon does - for 30 minutes every day, Colbert puts on the garb of a conservative S.O.B. - an Abel to Stewart's liberal Cain. For that half hour, he stays in character, mocking 'papa bear' Bill O'Reilly, declaring war against bears and the French, and being very very funny while being totally full of himself...hehe. Hat's off to him and his team of writers!

But I digress - a week or two ago, another correspondent on The Daily Show, Samantha Bee, did this hilarious segment on the sharply rising number of very pretty ladies on the 24-hour news networks like CNN, FOX News and MSNBC... We have seen this phenomenon discussed several times in the past - whether it was when talking about Mandira Bedi and cricket, or with the whole Naked News out of Toronto - but never in such a hilarious way!

Six degrees of honorary degrees

This is my post #1 - I am going to make a special effort to not talk about why I am here, why this is new for me, and why I want you to comment/not comment...hehe :)

Let's just get down to blogging...

I read this really nice magazine every couple of months - it's called Foreign Policy, and as the wise and brave of heart might glean from its name, it deals with foreign policy issues. What I really like about the magazine is that it doesn't have a 'voice' of its own. I am not fed some mousey editor's propaganda... and more often than not, I get to hear someone smart and unique express a surprisingly fresh viewpoint about an issue that I had not really thought about before!

The current May/June issue has a hilarious graphic to celebrate the graduation season in the U.S., and mock the shockingly rampant 'honorary degree' racket! In homage to the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, they created this fun chart to reveal how many 'degrees' (pun intended...hehe) separate U.S. President, GWB, from some of the world's most unsavory leaders! Some other day, I will vent my frustration on the practice of awarding honorary degrees - for now, let's just take a moment to giggle and snicker! :)