For the want of a genuine hobby

It must feel good to have a hobby. Something to do when there is nothing better to do, or something better to do when there is a lot to do. I, however, do not have one .. unless you can call watching Cricket a hobby. And trust me, I have seen resumes where people have listed watching movies and cricket as a hobby. 

I used to think I read a lot. And I thought reading is fun only if the subject matter interests you or if you can associate yourself with the protagonists. I tried reading The God delusion twice, and even though the subject is close to what I believe in, I could not give in to the hatred of religion. On the other hand, the intricate politics and scheming of Game of Thrones, I finished in 3 months (all 5 books 🙂 ) and I can’t really associate myself with any of the characters in the book. So, may be, what is fun about reading is not so much living the character but feeling the character and understanding their motives, to understand why they are the way they are. 

May be, in that sense, I like ‘seeing’ people and their actions. Not so much to see what their actions will lead to, but rather what led to this action. And this is something I extend to everyone I come across. Be it a colleague in office or a close relative I see every day. Its a fun exercise, but it lasts only as long as their real self reveals itself. I don’t like to pry information about these people, just listen to them and ‘imagine’ why they acted that way. Imagination is probably a wrong way to understand people, but that is the only one I prefer using. May be these people do not have the imagined lives, but its fun to think they do. 

Talking of fun, I liked to read blogs as well. However, its only fun if you know the person and know what is happening in their lives. This is no more the case. Most of the people I liked to follow have either stopped writing altogether or have moved on to shorter, crisper, ways of expression like facebook or twitter (Including me). A blog post had a definite beginning, a funny mid and a nice ending while a facebook / twitter post requires only a one line sarcastic punch. Somehow I find it rather odd that our attention span has become so low that we can’t invest enough time to read through/write a post that requires more than 5 minutes, when less than 10 years ago, all we wanted to do was to read and write blog posts. 

Another reason that I despise facebook these days is because of the shallow political activism. Let me be clear, its not the platform I hate, only the content. I spent last weekend away from the computer and it was a rather happy weekend. Monday morning the first thing on the facebook feed is a post about how Modi is bad for India and AAP is the best thing to have happened to the country. The second feed is about the reverse. The urban middle class has woken up to the political requirements of the country and that can only be a good thing, but being aware is one thing and actively campaigning for your beliefs is another. And if it was only campaigning , I would still be fine with it. It seems that the very idea of campaigning makes people bring down the opposition without saying anything useful about what is it that they will do differently. The philosophy that I am good because you are bad is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. The next thing that these people on facebook want to do is to involve you in a meaningless debate which does nothing to alter either your view of them or the party they support. Debates are good , if people are willing to acknowledge mistakes and work on them and most importantly ‘change’. Sadly, that is not the case these days and these people have hung on to their ideas for the ‘ideal’ leader or the ‘best’ leader for so long that they are blind to what else these leaders do. More so, they are so emotionally invested in this so called leader that they are unwilling to listen to any thing against them. How can a rational debate happen in such a scenario. If you tell them that your leader did X, the answer that is shot back is .. well your leader did Y. Then starts the quantification of X and Y. Who is to decide what was worse – 1984 or 2002 ? Weren’t lives lost in both cases ?  Can’t both be wrong and can’t both leaders be corrupt. But we have already chosen sides and do not wish to be proven wrong. 

I do not like being drawn into debates any more. I used to think that the louder you speak the more forceful you come across, until I received a one liner response one day – “Jor shor se bolne se jhooth sach nahin ho jaata” .. 


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Books, Blogs and Cricket

This post is a culmination of my thoughts for over 5 minutes, so you have to forgive the gibberish that you are about to read.
Books : After what feels like an eternity, I have managed to get hold of a book that I have wanted to finish as soon I read the first page. ‘The immortals of Meluha’ is to me the book that has brought back the interest in reading and writing. I first heard of this book from my father in law. The very next day Kunal ( a dear friend and now a famous writer, hence the dear-before-friend – get used to it 🙂 ) reviewed the book and wrote about how enjoyable it was. It did seem like a worthy buy. However, one of the problems of living in Pardes is, the scarcity of English books. The most famous Book store here has a collection of 5 English books, neatly stacked in the most obscure corner of the store, collecting dust and inviting spiders. Expecting to find a book written by an Indian author here is like expecting Dolly Bindra to shut up (Yes, am still not over her .. the after shocks of watching her wake me up in the night, perspiring). Anyway, my In laws were here for a visit, and one of the unexpected perks of their visit was that they gave ( / I stole / they forgot ) the book to me.

As for the book, it holds so many unexpected surprises that I just could not put the book down, at the cost of being accused of ignoring the wifey by the wifey (I wasn’t, swear to you sweet heart 😛 ). To me, I judge a fiction book by two parameters, possibility and relatability (I know that’s not a word, but inventing words makes you sound smart and competent – Just ask Barney Stinson). The demystification of Indian myths is done in such a matter-of-fact way that you (an even an atheist like me) can accept it. The Somras, the so-far larger than life characters, the events, all seem possible when put this way. About the book itself – It manages to detach Shiva from the mythical, heavenly creature, known for his rage and make him seem human. His faults exist, his love is as real as any, he too bleeds and for the life of his, can not understand why is he being treated god-like by everyone.
I think Amish has done a fantastic job at two fronts. One, He has stuck to the myths but has not tried to hide behind them. He has not tried at any point to get away by saying something in the book and then throw it to the readers as obvious because it was related to religion (or mythology). Second, he has accepted the science factor in everything. A particular passage in the book that I enjoyed the most is the conversation between Bhraspati ( a scientist , not a god ) and Shiva ( a human, but still looked upon by everyone as a saviour) about the importance of science when following religion and the reason why people do not look up to science, the same way that they look up to Religion for answers. This is the relatable part that I talk about.
Kudos to Mr Amish Tripathi for penning down one of the most fantastic books of recent times. If you still havent read the book for whatever reasons, I suggest you grab a copy now.

Blogs: My personal blog post count has gone down like a house on fire – in self-destruct mode – being crushed by the Hulk at the same time. However, the joy in reading what others are writing hasn’t diminished. However, the problem that I face now is that everyone whom I knew as a good writer, has either stopped writing altogether or started writing 55s. As enjoyable as 55s are, they do not really spur me on to comment, respond or commend people on a job well done. I know it is a pretty tough task, to finish telling a story in 55 words (and looking at the size of some of my previous posts – I should be compulsorily made to write a few), but it gets over before it begins. The fascination of going from the build up to the twists to the climax is just not there (and I am still talking about 55s and blog posts – not anything else). So, I request friends, foes, jackasses, weirdos, to come together and contribute the ever-growing blog database at wordpress or blogspot (whatever catches your fancy). The joy of actually knowing the author of a well – written post should be experienced by everyone.

Cricket : I finally have a reason to look forward to cricket, again. The Ashes are back, and for the first time – in what feels like a zillion years – England look like a serious threat to Australia. I know they have won it a couple of times, and also managed to draw some matches, but they have not looked threatening at any time. Australia on the other hand, has never looked as vulnerable as they do now, even at home.

Let me be a little more honest here. The real reason I am so interested in Ashes is also because of the Cricinfo fantasy leagues, where my wife is kicking my ass (At the moment, I am at some 6k and she is at 500 – damn you Peter Siddle).


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An evening in Venice

Whoever said that there are very few good people left in this world, probably hasn’t done much good himself. For some insane reason, I do believe in “what goes around, comes around”. May be its nature’s flawed implementation of Newton’s “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” .. I will never know.
Anyway, I was in Venice a couple of weeks back. The reason I brought up the topic of good people is because I encountered a truly generous soul while I was there. After a hectic day that involved lots of last minute running around, we had finally caught the train from Rome to Venice and the only task left for the remainder of the day was to check-in to the hotel. As it turned out, the hotel was not really in Venice proper and we had to take a long-ish train ride to get to the Preganziol station. This was the closest train station from the hotel and once we got there, finally at 9:30 in the chilly night, we realized that we had no idea how to get to the hotel from there. It is hard enough to find English speaking people in Venice, and we did not have very high expectations when I asked the only person present at the train station about how to get to the address provided. To this day, I have no idea what he said, but decoding his body language I can safely assume that he had no idea about this address. So we stood outside the deserted station, hoping that we could find someone who speaks English who could tell us where to head to.
I was getting desperate after waiting for about 30 minutes, and a part of me was also infuriated with myself for not carrying GPS or atleast a print out of google-maps. How could I be so careless? A guy in mid-30s appeared almost out of nowhere and he seemed to be walking towards us. I had not seen a single person passing that street in the past 30 minutes, so this guy was almost Sachin-sent for me. I asked him if he spoke English and to my utter surprise he answered in British accented english – “Yes, I do”. I asked him for the address, and he said he knew where it was. His next line surprised me even more “I can take you there, if you want”.
Frankly, I had no other option but to follow him. I could stay there waiting for someone else, but what were the chances that he/she could speak English? This guy, suited up in almost flawless manner, had strange shoes – running shoes. Also, there was a big water stain mark all over the front of his suit. I asked him “Didnt you have to go to the train station?” and he said “It’s ok, there will be another train in 30 minutes”. I didnt know how to tell him to just tell us the directions; it seemed awfully rude in the face of such generosity. And lets be clear, he didnt look like he could rob us or anything.
So, we followed him. He was straightforward enough to tell us that there is a direct road that leads to the hotel, but that road is an expressway with no sidewalk. Since we were carrying some luggage, it would not be safe at this time with cars zooming at over 100 kmph. He also told us that he would be taking us through some small, not-so-well-lit roads, which might seem shady, but were completely safe as it was completely a residential area.
We walked through the small narrow streets, through pebble-lined pavements, took turns where walking straight seemed advisable, walked straight where turns seemed inviting. All the while, I was surprised at how much trust I had put into this guy. Afterall , I didnt even know who he was. Heck, I didnt even know his name. He could cut me into pieces here and bury me somewhere around and no one would ever know. Of course, the mind imagines the wildest possibilities even as it tries to convince itself that nothing wrong could happen. We talked a little on the way. I was exhausted because of the time spent travelling and waiting and now dragging the heavy luggage. He chit chatted about his job and how he had moved to Venice just recently. He talked about his job as a waiter at a nearby restaurant, about how awful the pay was and how most of the money goes into rent in a place like Venice. I thought to myself that if I get to the hotel, may be I should give him some money. May be that is why he was doing this ‘favour’.
We finally reached the hotel from what seemed to be the longest route to get there. I was happy to see it all lighted up and shiny. Money well spent, I thought :). It was getting cold and late and we wanted to rush in as early as possible. I thanked our generous helper and started taking some money out of the wallet. He politely declined whatever we offered. We didnt know how else to thank him. Without his help we would have probably been stuck in the cold for another hour or may be more. Anyway, I offered the most heartfelt handshake and thanked him profoundly.
We went in, checked in, and asked the receptionist as to why the hotel was located in the middle of nowhere. She said that they catered mostly to people who travel by cars, so it was an OK deal for them. I told her that if it wasn’t for a kind stranger we would have never reached her hotel. Her eyes lit up in a way that I had never seen before. She asked if the kind stranger wore a suit, to which we replied affirmatively. She almost gasped as we told her that he dropped us to the gates. She ran outside and then walked back in , looking completely shaken up. We were perplexed, and had no idea as to what was causing this reaction.
The story was then narrated to us by the hotel owner who came in a few minutes later. The receptionist’s husband had died right in front of the hotel about 3 years back. A speeding car ran over him (remember the unsafe expressway ?? ) as he was going back to work after dropping her off for night duty. Over the past 3 years, the receptionist had heard the story of a kindly stranger dropping off first timers, by making them avoid the expressway, about five times. All five times, he came so close to the hotel door, but never saw his wife again. She never saw him again either, but only heard of him through the people he helped.


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Things that I am waiting for

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Analysis of Indian Bowling Attack over the years


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Back !!

I am back !!!

Last post was more than a year back and significant changes have happened since then ..For instance, I have realized the futility of blogs and turned to the more concise forms of expressing myself – Twitter and Facebook updates.

But people talk about small attention spans and why twitter is evil etc etc., so I thought I should give this old blog a little face lift, a little more content, and little more substance, and possibly a little more time, before it eventually dies it’s natural death .. when I choke it.

So, here I am .. and what should we talk about. My work contract ensures that I can not discuss work with anyone without being sued, or possibly found dumped dead in a dumpster somewhere (and no, am not developing missiles).  I remember being in college and laughing out loudest when a senior told about the corporate policy in his company that could be summarized as “If possible, do not give anyone a computer”. Little did I know that is actually true is all Indian Services Companies. Word of advise : If you like to sit in front of a computer and your dream job is an Indian MNC (hahahahaha), well then .. may god save you.

On the subject of God, I am officially an atheist now.  Feels good and free. Wish there was an atheist registration form somewhere. The concept of god is something with which I have wrestled a zillion times in my head and, I have to give it to the people who came up with the concept .. you just cant beat it. The answer to everything is ‘You have to have faith’. I don’t think you need religion or old stories or superstitions or temples/churches/mosques to be a good person. If the feeling comes from within you, then you are a good person. You don’t need the priest to tell you what is wrong and right for you, people need to be evolved enough in their head to know what is right and wrong for you and for the society. Ask yourself this question – when was the last time a god man told you something about right and wrong that you didn’t already know, and how many times you paid a god man to tell you about an age old story/myth/superstition, which does not really do any good for you.

Summary of Satyanarayan Katha : Do It again and again and again .. and you will be happy.  #

PS: For everytime you do it, you need to give the pandit some money. Guess who came up with this ? 🙂


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Before I begin writing about the movie, let me just take a moment and welcome myself back here on my blog.

Phew .. its been such a long time .. I actually forgot that I had a web presence. Lots of things contributed to my absence from the blog, namely .. lack of an exciting social life, and the pressure to keep my personal life, personal 🙂

Long back, when I had begun writing, I used to actually post just about any crap I could think about without even thinking about what I was posting. Limited audience does that to you. But after posting crap for about a year, I got a comment from a non IIIT-ian and that is when I realized that reach of the blog. Its not that I didn’t know that outsiders can read the blog, but I always thought what would make a non-IIITian be interested in the life of a IIIT-ian and that too a rather dull boring life 🙂

Anyway .. Here I am ..Reviewing one of the 2 movies I saw last Week – Dasvidaniya

If you are going to see a movie about a dying man, you expect lots of emotional drama , lots of crying, and LOTS of boredom. Dasvidaniya was the exact opposite of that on every count. The emotions were there, but there was no unnecessary drama. There were no unnecessary death scenes stretched out over half hour in front of a temple. There was no crying, no boredom – not even for a moment.

Vinay Pathak plays the role of one of the most well organized account managers you would know. His life’s sole aim is to make a TO-DO List everyday of his life and ensure that he finishes his list by the End of the Day. If he can’t, he takes care to include that item in his list the next day. His Geyser though, remains unfixed all through the movie. Reason – the day he included the geyser fixing in his TO-DO List, he finds out that he has just 3 months to live.

His alter ego looks like some extra from some crappy 70s movie, but that is not the point. The point is that his alter ego makes him realize that there are better things to do in life than to fix geyser and take shit from your boss every day of your life. In short, If you are dying, there are better things to do than worry about life. His life turns rosy all of a sudden, with a new car, a flashback love, a foreign trip to see his best friend from school, make up with his brother.

There is no unnecessary drastic make over for him though, he doesn’t all of a sudden become the SRK of Kal ho Na Ho .. though he does try to learn guitar and the first song he wants to learn is Kal ho . His simplicity remains with him, so much so, that he needs to be reminded time and again by his alter ego that he is dying and needs to live life. From making him buy a car, to proposing to the “love of his life”, who is married now by the way, to making him take a foreign trip.

The best part of all of this is, even though we know that he is going to die in the end, its his very simplicity while going through all of this that makes us like him, to an extent that we hope for a fairy tale , typical Bollywood, ending .. “Reports mismatch ho gayin thi .. you are not dying”. But this was real cinema .. and it would not have been so great if Vinay Pathak had not actually died in the end.

The most touching moment of the movie would be the time when his angry brother finds out about his looming death.  The angry young man suddenly turns into a loving brother. It just makes you think that sometimes we take relations for granted and think that they will continue being the same with us, no matter how we behave towards them. Sometimes we get angry with them , and forget how nice they have been to us all life. Probably we should learn to value family relations a bit more.

And , the idea for the ending was really awesome. They interviewed all the actors in the movie, and asked them what they would like to do before they die.  Simple question, but something that really makes you think about your life’s real ambitions and goals.


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