Tuesday, August 30, 2011

THAT ONE WAS DOOMED TO FAIL

As a result of the ruddy accident, quite a few things have changed in the household (a house, incidentally, which I haven't held since the accident, as I'm recuperating in a non-non-vegetarian premises at the nonce).

Firstly, of course, there was the minor matter of drilling a few screws into my femur to generally keep my thigh from detaching itself from the parent body. The please-do-not-try-this-at-home nature of the aforementioned activity caused a slight dent to the pater's bank balance, which was, till crash, funding the renovation of a home in the quaint and intolerably boring Kochi suburb of Tripunithura. Those who have to line up outside the single bathroom will now have my femur to curse.

Secondly, two prized gadgets have been lost. My portable media player, the Cowon S9, was purloined on the spot, while my HTC Desire Z in all it's QWERTY-flipout glory suffered from a rude shock from which it never really recovered, hence facilitating the need to procure a new one.

Of course, the fact that I'd been intelligent enough to carry the phone on a trek - a very rainy trek, I might add - would have had something to do with the overall atrophy of the circuits. But blaming it on the crash is more satisfying.

But you know what they say about gadgets. Sometimes it's doomed. You get this looming feeling that no matter how much you love it, no matter how much you had to take advance from your credit card to pay for it because you misjudged when your company bonus is going to arrive paid for it, no matter how proud you were of it - you somehow feel that your phone is like Harry Potter just after the pensieve scene in HP7. Doomed to be snuffed. You dread the end, the finish.

Just one week after purchasing the thing, I went from this 40% to this 19%. That's right. 'Splush' is not a sound you want to hear when you have a brand new 25,000-rupee phone in the toilet. Anyhow, displaying a  head of unusual coolness that would have done Hrishikesh Kanitkar proud, I tried every online solution - including dunking the phone in silica gel and then, rice. Later, I just took it to a shady repair shop which nonchalantly fixed it in half an hour for 350 bucks.

And since I effected its purchase on credit card, I paid for my phone's first repair before I paid for the phone itself. Surely, that's a sign of imminent doom.

Not to mention, it had a permanent 'water stain' on the screen (how cool, said the Harry Potter fan in me). And also, thanks to its aqueous sojourn, the warranty was as rendered as null and void as a CAT form with incomplete information filled in.

Every week, without fail, it displayed extreme lemming-like tendencies by succumbing to gravity twice. I counted. I should have known the end was near.

The end came with a touch screen that started behaving erratically (the first one to make a 'dementia' joke gets it on the hooter), and a phone repair person took care of the rest. I'd like to think of it as gadget euthanasia.

Anyhow, a Samsung Galaxy I9000 has been ordered, and should be here shortly. I'll know whether this one is for life or as doomed to fail as it's predecessor, depending on how badly I get my arse whooped on Wordfeud.

Random link of the day: Angry Anna! :D


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

DEAR BUGGERS WITH A CAMERA

It's exhilarating when you get a camera, isn't it?

"Now I can join the likes of by posting kickarsefull photos on Facebook and getting Likes by hot lady friend of friend of friend who came with me for the trip." and "Now I can haz low light low ISO low f-stop pwnage too!" are thoughts not alien to those who have just spent some of their hard-earned kachingas on a new image-capturer-and-recorder.

Little did the gentleman in the 1980s (who had a look at his skyrocketing film development costs and while pondering over them, fell over a set of floppy disks only to have a total Eureka! moment) forsee the internet explosion, which allows anyone (and their uncle, and their uncle thereon) to upload personal digital photos. The easy accessibility of a camera and online storage proved to be a potent combination.

A topic that she has already briefly touched upon.

You see, SLRs were supposed to be for the creme-de-la-filme - only the best of photographers should have them. But digital photography changed all that. Now every bugger (like me) who has a spare 30,000 bucks can buy one. And, usually when too much technology is brought into the hands of an audience which might be financially equipped but not skilfully so - it leads to a certain amount of disparity. Imagine if the Indian cricket team started deciding teams by a first-come-first-serve method (might not be a bad idea right now, come to think of it, actually).

Anyhow, it is because of this that it's typically with a sense of dread that one opens a link that a friend has sent you, of his/her vacation. You feel guilty that you didn't read said friend's last blogpost when you were coerced to gently using Google Talk before you managed to hit the 'appear invisible' option, so you decide to press play on the pornographic TED talk video that you were engrossed in, and click the Picasa link.

Horrors.

The first five lines (line segments, technically) consist entirely of leaves. And trees. And a cluster of trees. Here is the enthusiastic globetrotter in his now-I-am-going-to-take-the-kickarseest-set-of-photos-ever phase, and proceeds to click everything in sight. Most people fall into fatigue after half an hour, but not your friends.

Then there are various poses of himself. In particular, a set of him in various poses of posing for the same pose, if you know what I mean.

Every touristy thing (monument, famous tree, building, painted Harley, ex-cricketer) is shot from all possible angles, and, much in the hope that Google will come out with a 3D modeling extension for Picasa one day, leave them all on the album.

And holy rebeccablackamoley, this is just page 1 of 3. Groan.

So, enthusiastic photo uploader, here are a few pleas, on behalf of the entire online community:

1. Noone has time to sift through 300 photos of a place he or she doesn't give a rat's ass about. If someone is really interested in what monuments in Jaipur look like, chances are, a search will be conducted. Cut ze crap. Be ultra-critical of your photos and put in only absolute winners in your mind. I know my own work is a poor barometer, but when I go for a concert, I usually take around 600 photos, and only around 20 make it to Facebook.

2. An entire vacation (or concert) on one Picasa page would be nice. Even the staunchest of friends are unlikely to click on  every photo. They'll sift through the lot, click about ten that really catch their fancy, drop in a few comments and proceed on with the TED talk video. We don't live in an age where people are going to comment on the bokeh and depth-of-field of each pic. Do not unleash unto thy audience what you wouldn't like unleashed unto thyself.

3. Label. Please, please, please. Imagine you've taken an incredibulobulous snap of that ancient statue of a Mughal emperor in Nashik but haven't bothered to label it. As the Local Tea Party is wont to say, what you think your friends are so jobless so they will do Google image mapping for each and every photo of yours?? Labeling is a good habit, and will help you cut down on needless photofat as well (Check out Mahesh's photos of his recent England trip - captions bring to life the personal experience).

4. Get out of automatic mode, yo!

You have a powerful weapon in your hands. Using it moderately and carefully are likely to give you the best results.

I'm talking about your camera, of course. Hyuk.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MY TRYST WITH HINDI

Much is made of my weakness of the national language by my friends circle. Indeed, (and excuse the attempted Wodehousean) the cry goes around the city, "Chuck cannot speak well the language of Bollywood" and "His otherwise spotless CV misses a vital language".

Alright, so my Hindi is bad. In the words of George Carlin - I don't give a shit.

(Now, my South Indian friends, is the point that we all rally together)

Remember that joke about how Karunanidhi reacted when someone said Hindi is the national language because it was spoken by maximum people in the country? He said that by that logic, the crow should be made the national bird.

(All South Indian friends, rapturous applause and pro-DMK slogans now)

Also, all my North Indian friends ask me "But yaaaaaar how can u b Indian and not hv seen Sholay yet yaaar!". I ask them back whether they have seen Kalyanaraman for a similar test of patriotism and they shrug with a facial expression reeking of the Carter Roadesque "What-everrrrrrrrr!". In the words of the wise Local Tea Party - why this discrimination, please? (That 'rrrrr' by the way, is the closest non-Southies will ever get to getting the 'zh' sound - you know, Kozhikode - right).

Ok, no more potential communal stuff (I don't want CoD to be the cause of a pogrom (I also wrote this line just so I could use the word 'pogrom' (You gotta admit, this multiple bracket shit is cool))).

Anyhow. I was a little boy, minding my own business, doing stuff that Mallu boys in the Gulf do like reading comics and topping classes, and suddenly, without warning, along came Hindi. CBSE Hindi.

(All South Indian friends, shudder and shiver at this point as if PC Thomas has decided to be your permanent roommate)

Oh, it was quite innocuous at first, the blighter. A mild annoyance in the otherwise uncomplicated world of addition and tenses. And before you knew it, just before you fully got to savour the joy of owning your first Hero fountain pen in 5th standard, you realise that the bloody subject is actually quite a headache.

(All riot-friendly friends - please note - Hindi the subject and not Hindi the language. Yeah, you still haven't seen Kalyanaraman, so pipe down)

As the years pass by and you realise that various parts of your body can do fun stuff, Hindi becomes a nightmare. A downright fucking nightmare.

Let me tell you my story.

When I was in 6th, 7th and 8th standards - I used to spend 4 hours a day studying Hindi. The use of the term 'study' here is an insult to what scientists and researchers the world over have been doing, though - I was mugging up the bloody thing. I spade up, by rote, chapters and chapters. Never was Hindi 'taught'. How to say stuff. How to have a conversation. How to fucking understand a movie. It was question-answer all through. When I look back, I think it a total miracle that I managed to survive those years of torture - by-hearting line after line without understanding a single fucking thing.

Everything about the stupid subject was bad. It had more periods than any other subject (yes, yes, I know you're begging to make that joke - say it to yourself). It had the most vicious of teachers. It had more textbooks than ANY other subject (pray, why couldn't we've had Michael Crichton as extra reading in English?). Spending 4 hours a day on it, but still the lowest marks. It brought down my entire average.

I was not a genocidal sort, but I do remember the frustration of a simple kid taken out in many ways.

For one - My Hindi books would always be put in my school bag in a polythene. It was untouchable. It was not allowed to sully the sacred Mathematics and Science books. On occasion where a polythene was not available, the Hindi book would form the 'base' of the bag and the rest of the books would 'stand' on top of it.

After each year, Mom used to give away my textbooks to someone. I never allowed her to give away the Hindi books, because I'd be tearing them up into little itty-bitty pieces. Once me and a few friends were even contemplating a mass-burning (of the books, not of selves).

I also remember seeing a public service ad on hand sanitation. So everytime I finished using my Hindi books, I used to wipe my hands. An inferior quality pen was even used to write on the notebooks, because high-quality Uniball and Pilots couldn't bothered to be wasted.

(Calms down)

As you can imagine - I hated the goddamn subject from the bottom of my heart.

(Fellow South Indians - similar stories, please share in comments)

You know how after 25 years in prison, the sight of the open world comes as a whole new paradise to you? That was how I felt when I passed into the 9th standard, and dumped Hindi for good (I passed my last exam by the skin of my teeth).

Me and my friends celebrated the day of our last ever Hindi exam as 'Independence Day'. I am not making this up. We all had one extra packet of Corn Chips to treat ourselves.

I took French. My average shot up again, and I was in the top 5 in class again. It felt so very 5th standard. I wasn't exceptionally bright, but the lack of that fuck-all subject probably just spurred me on.

Boy, how I hated it.

Okay, there is no point to this post. No language-education-in-CBSE-should-be-reformed. No as-revenge-all-Punjabis-must-be-made-to-learn-Classical-Tamil. No but-now-I-have-changed-having-learnt-practical-Hindi-by-trying-to-talk-with-auto-drivers-and-food-delivery-places-in-Mumbai-and-see-the-shortsightedness-of-my-youth. Nah, none of that.

And to prove so, I will end this post with something totally random.

It's.





Wednesday, August 03, 2011

THE ACCIDENT AND THE AFTERMATH

There has been a lack of blogging over the last month. Apologies (or you're welcome, depending on which side of the fence you stand on) for the same.

Many of you might know what happened. Myself, Punvati, Apurv, Rajat, Mahesh and Harshal had just scaled Maharashtra's tallest peak, Kalsubai, and met with an accident later in the day. I wanted to initially write a dark, morose post about the same, but came to my senses soon enough. For those of you who don't know what happened, here's a rough outline:

1. Apurv (driver), Punvati (passenger), self (backseat) in former's i10, somewhere near Kalyan, along the highway.
2. One of the rear tires decided it had enough of life and decided to explode, in all it's vulcanized glory.
3. Tire burst (Ref: Point 2) caused the car (Ref : Point 1) to lose control. Not the best thing to happen when your vehicle is travelling at close to 70 kmph, and we rammed into a stationary truck.
4. Much chaos, blood, screaming and pain ensued, but thankfully I managed to keep my senses (I surprise myself at times) and managed to call the other car, while managing some rather helpful locals get us out of the wreck.
5. We were sent off to the nearest hospital, which happened to be in Bhiwandi. It wasn't the best place to go to, but the idea was to get to A hospital, which would atleast check us up.
6. Punvati got shifted to Kokilaben Dirubhai Ambani Hospital, Versova; Apurv got stitched up and went to Pune; and myself - I went to Fortis in Mulund where one of the best ortho docs in India put screws in my leg and patched me up, before discharging me to my uncle's place in Chembur. The Mid-Day report is here.

Needless to say, Point 3 was the scariest 3 seconds of my life. It was scary as fuck. The relief that I had when I realised both fellow passengers were alive, if not totally in their senses, was as huge as the relief when Hrishikesh Kanitkar hit that four (okay, I have a few skewed priorities).

Needless to say, thank you all for writing in, messaging, tweeting and calling wishing us a quick recovery.

Anyway - let us move away from all this morbidity, which has no place on this blog (except in the comments section, sadly).

Since then, things have been spiffy. I do nothing but read all day and watch a few movies at times. I used to be addicted to Wordfeud on Android, but that was taken care of when my touchscreen conked and went for repair. I've been on a Harry Potter kick, and now on a Wodehouse one.

Also, my parents are down here. This provides certain, er, troubles. Me, a hosteler-cum-renter for the last 9 years, am suddenly faced with immobility. I love my parents, but I prefer not to remain in the room when the conversation veers towards changing my musical tastes from Iron Maiden to the Hanuman Chalisa. Also, I am looking at the prospect of being vegetarian till around October, a task which, as Bertie Wooster is wont to say, would try the soul. If any of you can smuggle in a McSpicy for me, I will genuflect in gratitude eventually, when I am eventually able to perform that act.

Also, the trouble with being a non-compliant Tambrahm is, er, well, just that. I think Appa was more horrified by the lack of a poonal on my torso than the fact that my femur was broken and out of its socket. The immobility has, like I pointed out, some positive side effects, one of them being the fact that my participation in this year's avani avittom has been reduced to sitting in bed and reciting the gayatri japam 1008 times before changing the thread.

Also, sadly, the folks still refuse to believe goods can be costlier than they were in 1981, so the prices of some of the things I own, especially audio products, have been severely devalued before declaration. Appa reeled when I told him my Pumas cost me 2500, and they were pretty much the cheapest things in the store. This, and I hope to own the Sennheiser HD800s someday. Sigh...

Yes, that's pretty much it. I've also made mental notes for what a typical Tambrahm visit consists of. Previously, of course, I'd scurry off from the room after compliments about my recent academic achievements were made, and the dangerous topic of my Carnatic vocal classes were being touched on. Now, though, I have no means of jettisoning myself from such a situation, save pop the Kindle on and read while pretending not to listen to why Murali Mama is a bad person. But more on  that later.

Have a good August, you lot!