a tale of two photos

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timehop-1

A study in contrasts

The thing that I should find most fascinating in this photo should be the technology itself.

But no. There’s so much more 1.

We need to start somewhere, so…

  • 10 years ago: 3 laptops. 4 Nokia phones (an N70, a 6670, a 6680, a 3310?). 3 portable MP3 players (my iRiver, 2 Creative Jukeboxes). A ~100 GB portable drive and (of course) a watch-with-USB-storage device.
  • Now: 3 laptops (2 Airs and a Pro). 3 iPhones (2 of the iPhone6, 1 6s). 2 tablets (1 Mini, 1 Air). A nearly invisible 32 GB USB storage. And a Nexus 4.

The 2005 smorgasboard of devices (MP3 players, phones, laptops, external storage) seemed to be the only way to complete a picture of computing. As in, each and every one of those devices had to continue being around us for years to come.

Right?

Not quite. Today, storage is largely ignored, only remembered when you run out of  cloud storage or something has not synced to where it should be. Expanding/external storage? Not truly a “thing” anymore, again not really something people consider. Portable MP3 players of course went the way of the dodo thanks to the smartphone, though in all honestly, we did see that coming. Even back then our primary cameras and music players were slowly moving to what Nokia shipped on their phones (making this experience for me all the more weird, a year or so later). Laptops do live on, but everyone seems to be in agreement that some sort of tablet-hybrid thingy will replace them in the next 5-10 years (Surface Pro or iPad Pro, anyone?)

The 2005 brands. Laptops: an Alienware, an IBM, a Toshiba. But phones? All Nokia. And probably rightfully so, most of those phones represented the pinnacle of how smart you could make a featurephone-style device 2.

And now? There is 1 manufacturer behind (almost) every device on the table: Apple.

The 2005 weird device is probably that watch. I could just say we were way ahead of the curve in terms of pushing the limits of what watches (or as they are termed now, ‘wearables’) could do, literally a decade before wearables went mainstream. But really. We just thought a watch from which a USB cable could be extended out so you have “wearable” storage was cool.

Now? The odd one out (but by no means the weird one) is that Nexus 4. I finally gave up midway through eking out its 3rd year, and with that started the slippery slope of Apple-ifying my technology existence. And as typically happens with current technology, the device performance itself hadn’t super suffered over 2 years of OS updates. The battery, of course, had.

The 2005 philosophy underlying all that technology seems to be storage, storage, storage. Those portable players were the shitz – it was so important to be able to carry it all with you. And, a more subtle point, design. For us, at that point.. design was about the specs. Everything else seemed secondary, coz you could make things work as you wanted them to.

And now. Raw specs and “cool” technology have been replaced by practical considerations: Does it work well? Will it last? Whats the battery like? Is it made well? Is it made in a way that ensures I will use it? 3

But very seriously.. the thing that most jumped out at me when I assembled those photos together? The people in common between them. My erstwhile partner-in-crime, Prasanna, and of course, myself. It’s pretty widely accepted that 10 years is an eon in technology. For 2 of us, this past decade has so been much more. We were kids, really, back in 2005. Barely finished our Masters’ in the UK. We were months away from deciding and launching severeanomaly.org. Living it up online. The arguments and debates we used to have about technology (at least what I can remember of those conversations) seem quaint, almost naive when I think about them. I could talk about how our lives themselves have changed, but there’s too much to list in the space I’ve allotted.

Interestingly though, we still debate such things today. Guess we never learn.

Back to that study in contrasts. Have to wonder if it will be just 3 devices in another 10 years 4.

Written in collaboration with Prasanna, of course. Who does not have a blog anymore. A story for another day.


  1. Yes, the photo on top is mislabeled. Not sure why. 
  2. Back then, Nokia seemed infallible (the N82 will probably always be one of Prasanna’s top devices ever). Today, there is literally no real technology brand associated with the name Nokia. The other big brand from those times: Motorola. Per the latest, we’ll be lucky to see the name ‘Moto’ on devices made by the parent company. 
  3. And, based on our choice.. it appears we believe Apple is the best company in all of those aspects. Latent Mac-tardism, ahoy! (With special acknowledgement of Prasanna, who was previously renowned for his hatred of all things Apple. But then I did say our lives have changed) 
  4. Maybe more though. Kids will want their own [insert future crazy ass technology here], and those will probably join ours on that table? 

welcome, 2016

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I won’t say that it feels as though 2015 ran away from me before I realized it. But it did see 50% fewer posts than the year before.

Honestly, at this point, this yearly update is one of the few only pieces that I remember to update this site with. I have to wonder where we’ll be in 2017.

So, 2015 1.

(You guys  probably want to read that footnote so the rest of this post is more in context)

A year that saw Raghu and myself launch a podcast, and produce 21 episodes. Take-away? We do appear to have an audience (at least I think so, based on the download stats). We seem to have found a niche of sorts2, which is a little different from where we started.

A year that saw me switch computing platforms completely. I started 2015 lamenting the state of the computing industry, and came off sounding like an Apple fanboi who believes Apple is the one and only savior of personal computing who can do it right. Plus there was that one other post last year which really brought home to me how old some of the technology I use is. So I’ve ended 2015 using an iPhone, a MacBook Pro, an iPad.. and wondering how to justify purchasing an Apple TV. Quite a flip from this perspective 3.

A year where Microsoft somewhat exited my computing existence, after dominating it ever since I remember using a computer. There was a point there, where in addition to Windows, I was all in on Outlook.com, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, etcetera 4. But then there was the disaster of the Windows 10 upgrade that I accidentally managed to have shoved down my computer 5. Complete with the classic error message ‘Something happened‘ when I started the upgrade.

A year where my preference has switched to being apps-based with the cloud/Internet comprising the backend, rather than work out a way to channel it to a central email-based workflow or just do everything in a web browser. Maybe I’m just tired of getting email. Or maybe this is what Apple OSes encourage 6. Either way, a vast majority of what I do is now within apps instead of a web browser. Even this post.

Enough tech.

A year where I didn’t write any fiction at all. Or post such fiction to this blog. Can I excuse.. argh, f*** it. Moving on.

Maybe movies?

A year where the stand-out Hollywood-produced movie I’ve seen has to be ‘Inside Out’. Sure ‘The Force Awakens‘ was great nostalgic fun, and ‘Avengers 2 ‘ was reasonable.. but ‘Inside Out’ was something special. The way I described it to anyone was that it was an animated movie for parents. So much resonance with the many layered concepts that movie explicated with regards to child/parenthood. About life, in fact. Lovely 7.

A year where Bollywood yielded a ‘Badlapur’, a dark noir tale of revenge that does not compromise in any way. Further established to me that Varun Dhawan is a force to watch out for (he was even watchable in the eminently unwatchable ‘Dilwale’, alongside Kajol). Honorable mention to ‘Ugly’ (even though it is a couple of years old). Even darker, even more unrelenting.. a complete slamdunk of movie-making at its best. And by Kashyap, no less.

A year where I finally finished (and loved) ‘Breaking Bad’ early on, but my “TV” pick would have to be Aziz Ansari’s ‘Master Of None’. His comedy takes some getting used to, but what a show. Perfectly encapsulates so much about Indians in America. I will admit though, that Doctor Who Season 9 very nearly superseded this pick o’mine. Capaldi really owns the role of The Doctor in the modern era in a way I have seen few actors pull off. And I’m going to hate it when Moffat leaves someday as showrunner. Pray that day is far, far away.

A year where I steadily progressed into primarily listening to audiobooks (I blame my listening to podcasts for the transition).. but cannot definitively pick a particular book. I plan to up the ante in the coming year, one has to hope that I have a pick (not to mention a yearly update post), come next year.

Do I have any thoughts for what 2016 will bring? Again, I know of interesting events that are supposed to happen. Maybe even.. developments.

If nothing else, 2015 has taught me that I’m at the stage in life where things happen, some of which can even be said to be notable.

But the way you play it is: hold on to that hat, and enjoy the ride as it comes.


  1. One could believe that this post is talking about the only important things in my mind when it comes to 2015. Or that these are the only memories I take away from this past year. Both of which would be pretty sad. Far, far from the truth. As the site “evolves” (ha ha), memories get harder to explicate.. some of which are better cherished deep deep within, to be revisited in daydreams alone. Complete with golden hues and sentimental music. I guess I’m saying that we’ll leave this place a tad more superficial than we found it, okay? 
  2. I haven’t summarized it so anywhere else yet, but what the hell: “Desi tadka for pop/geek culture” is where it’s at for now. 
  3. Though, incidentally, I did post this too. So, maybe not so much. 
  4. Heck, I even used the “Metro” apps for Mail, Calendar etc in Windows 8/8.1. 
  5. On hindsight, eminently bloggable. Rants, frustration, you name it. Come to think of it, I didn’t even podcast about it. 
  6. Or maybe OS X is the only desktop-class OS that is actively having apps developed for it. Think about it. 
  7. In fact, may I recommend this podcast episode, which does an excellent job of deconstructing the movie. No, it’s not us Inconceivables. 

on my new-ish podcast

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Yes, I know this blog could be considered partly “defunct”.

It is conceivable that one would assume this if a blogmaster blogger blog-author appears to have put their blog out to pasture.. by, say, posting only once every 6 months or so (guilty). Or that said author appears to be letting their interest in writing wane away to an inevitable demise (guilty).

Such a thought process would not be incorrect.

But.

It’s about having stuff to put out there.

Usually, the most fun, interesting things I’ve come up with have been in the company of friends. It has often been a discussion point between my friends and I that if only we could somehow publicize our messages to each other, we would have comedy/information gold.

If only it were that simple.

You need the right people. You need the right medium. You need interesting topics. You need to be able to play off each other.

Suffice to say I do have candidates on all those fronts. But the partner-in-crime got self-selected during one of those daily back-and-forths with Raghu:

Raghu: finished this book – http://www.amazon.com/Remember-India-First-World-Vedica/dp/8174369791
Satish: yes i think i heard about this on sidin’s podcast/newsletter
Raghu: i don’t veen get those anymore
Raghu: and never heard his podcast
Raghu: why don’t we do a podcast?
Satish: hahahahahaha
Satish: y’know
Raghu: well – you have a bunch of things happening for sure
Satish: i started listening to this dads podcast and mentioned to G that i should an indian geek dad podcast with raghu
Satish: great minds, man
Satish: but yes, every time i think about how to get that off the ground i remember all the other things in the air
Raghu: yeah
Raghu: well, let’s try anyways
Raghu: desi geek dad squad
Raghu: once every two weeks

And thus The Inconceivable! Desis Podcast was born. And is now 11 episodes old.

Yeah, I know. A bit late on the origin story 1.

Personally, of course, I have been following podcasts for a while (no matter what the so-called podcast renaissance would have you believe). Just like my beloved RSS feeds, they remain integral to my online experience. Based on which, it seems apt to reflect on our own experience so far.

But this is not that post. That will be the next post 2.

This seems a good point as any to touch on some of the more abstruse aspects of our podcast. Such as the subtleties to our logo:

podcast-logo-expln

Raghu and I have known each other for a while (15 years, at this point, I think). This conversation epitomizes what happens when we hang out together… really, it’s 15 years of missed recording sessions 🙂 Geekdom. Pop culture. Movies. Books. Technology. Perspectives. Life. The 11 episodes we’ve released so far have spanned the breadth of these, and we have a list of many many more to come.

How can you get updated? Get notified of new episodes? Actually listen to the damn things?

There is Twitter. There is Facebook.

Also an iTunes link.

And an RSS feed which can be put into any podcast client.

And we’re inviting you to join in. And let us know what you think. And what you might want to hear about. We promise to do our research to talk about anything you might want to hear about.

Enjoy.


  1. Raghu has, of course, been a lot more on point in putting up an introductory post close to when we launched the show. Me, I tried to write it and then decided to simmer on my take for a while. And so, here we are 4 months later, and I’m finally writing about it. Typical. 
  2. Don’t you dare say, ‘fat chance!’. 

the death of old technology, that in reality never dies

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The first gadget I ever bought turned 10 years old last year.

The first laptop I ever bought would have turned 10 years old this year.

I just got rid of them both this past week (!). Incidental to this decision was the fact that they still turn on. Whether they could be classed as working is a separate question. Most of their components appeared to be in working order. They function as well as 10-year-old gadgets are wont to. They are slow. Were they ready for “death”?

The laptop, an Alienware m5500, saw the worst of it, but was also pretty damn resilient. It could only be afforded through a whole Christmas season of part-time work. And dat config. An Intel® Pentium® M 740 1.73GHz. Dual graphics cards you could switch between: an integrated Intel card and a 128MB NVidia® GeForce™ Go MXM 6600. A beautiful 1680 x 1050 display. A kingly 512MB Dual Channel DDR2 RAM (eventually upgraded to 1.25 GB) and a 60GB HDD. Good times.

I used it for 3-ish years, until I broke the screen in an accident that still gives me nightmares 1. Once repaired, my sister used it for another 3 years, maybe. Since the HP I bought as a replacement turned out to be the kind of monstrosity that only HP can make, I went back to the Alienware (very happily, I must add). A temporary desktop until I eventually built my powerhouse machine (for the time). 2

All that remained of the Alienware

All that remained of the Alienware

Oh, and the Alienware worked great for most of its life 3. Over time, I removed the screen (it died again, through no fault of mine). Replaced the hard drive. Made the DVD drive into an external device. Come to think of it, I recall using that DVD writer heavily in the UK.. burning collection after collection on disc. Backups were also disc based. 4 I tried resuscitating it a couple of times in the past few years as a media server, but its aging processor and fan couldn’t really handle it 5. ‘Twas with a heavy heart that I let it go now, after all this time.

The gadget was an iriver H140. iriver was one of those niche technology companies that has disappeared today – but way back when, they had some of the most full-featured products out there. Point of pride: First gadget I literally bought with my own hard-earned money. December 2004, on Tottenham Court Road, 5 days after I got my first paycheck. For a long long time it functioned as my only music player 6. It was the also only way I could transport data around – I loved the fact that it just showed up as an external drive in Windows 7. Almost 5 years after I got it, I moved to music playback on the phone. The H140 then became the driving music collection, where it basically “lived” in my car. A gigantic shuffle of Western, classical, desi, rock, pop, what have you played from it when I drove.

Clockwise: leather cover, remote, charger, an awesome player

Clockwise: leather cover, remote, charger, an awesome player

I switched out the firmware (“OS”) on the player about 2 years in to the Rockbox project, which added a lot of functionality to it. Probably my first real device hack/root 8.

The arrival of a smartphone (and some ominous clicks from the H140 hard drive) took the player out of the car and into a drawer. Where it has resided for most of the past few years. I never tried to figure out a use for it, especially with the rise of streaming services.. but again, hard to let go given its provenance.

How many devices I have bought in the last 5 years have actually survived the way these 2 devices seemingly did? My 4-year-old Nexus S can no longer have a regular Android ROM installed on it – its internal memory is too small for such limitations 9. Seeing as apps apparently get built against next years hardware, 2015 apps are barely functional on it. A now 3-year old X230T has never had great build quality, even though it was a good buy at the time. Probably have to switch it out this year, though in theory it’s hardware is humming along fine. The Nexus 4 (which replaced the S) is limping along into its 3rd year 10.

The Alienware and the iriver had to go: old electronics do not age well. That said, I’d like to believe they hung on as long as they did because of what they signified. Because every time I picked them up I could feel the blood, sweat, and tears that went into obtaining them.

The first possessions of a younger me, possessions I could call truly my own.

The screen simply says 'Thank you for using'


  1. It was also the subject of one of the first times irony bit me with regards to laptops. Funnily enough a very similar situation occurred with its successor HP. 
  2. Said powerhouse machine is still humming along fine as a cloud backup machine. Careful component selection, I tell you.. 
  3. Incidentally, I don’t think the Alienware ever saw anything but Windows XP. I tried Ubuntu, but was able to hack it into outputting 1080i in Windows and not any flavor of Linux. 
  4. Said collection was recently dumped too. And I still rue the day I quit on disc-based backups.. all that data I lost was partially recovered from those very discs. Funny how backups work. 
  5. In fact, I distinctly remember that I bought and took possession of this machine Dec 2005/Jan 2006. A few months into 2006, Intel announced the move to 64-bit and multi-core processors.. leaving me with completely obsoleted technology :/ 
  6. I very briefly considered an iPod. Price and iTunes conspired against it. But I have to wonder if my entire computing timeline would have taken a very different route based on that decision. 
  7. Remember, 2004/5? No Dropbox. Gmail offered a then-gigantic 1 GB of email storage. 
  8. Which translated to a crazy amount of ROMing/rooting and mucking about on the Nexus S and to some extent on the Nexus 4. 
  9. (Slimroms.net)[http://slimroms.net] zindabad. 
  10. I wrote this paragraph and thought at the end of it – man, I’m using a lot of old tech. 

2015, or the year of going Back to the Future

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(We’ll have to get back to that title in a minute.)

Continuing the tradition of sorta summing up the year just gone by is getting harder and harder, to say the least. 2014 was a year of some significant epochs, such as resetting my “time since last India visit” counter back down to 1 month.. after letting it hit 4 years and 10 months with no visit. ‘Twas a good great trip.. my biggest observation being that India is caught in an uncanny valley where they are technologically in the current day.. but in other day-to-day matters (including some infrastructure-related), they’re stuck in some bygone era. To be sure, there are some great efforts to fix all of this, but in the meanwhile, it becomes a question of how much compromise can one uncomplainingly accept. At the very least, I am still able to recognize that the India I left behind is a temporal state that India itself has left behind (if that makes any sense)1.

Other interesting developments.. hm…ugh, well, I guess tech-stuff is a good a topic as any. I’ve had to reluctantly accept that Apple appears to be the only technology company today that has truly figured UX/UI/hardware/software to a degree well beyond their competitors in any of those domains. I still maintain that it will take a lot to prise my X230T from my cold dead fingers, but even I have to begrudgingly accept that back in 2012, it was tough to say that the Lenovo comprehensively beat the Macbook. And then, of course, we got G an iPhone.. which shows off what is possible in these devices with some effort. And yes, it’s an effort I’m seeing only from Apple.

Do I sound like enough of an Apple fanboi yet?

Another observation I’ve cemented on: Google provides some amazing professional-grade services for “free” to consumers2, but ever since the death of Reader, I am wary. Microsoft seems to have some interesting possibilities in terms of providing a freemium alternative to Google, but they’re moving too slowly and shipping too many silly bugs to be taken seriously3.

2015 will mark the 5 year anniversary since I got this beast. And it still serves me well, humming along quietly in the corner. Unfortunately (for it), 2014 signified the year I was able to slowly relegate it to file server status. Probably meaning that beautiful machine will be put out to pasture somewhere4. It’s hard to accept that my computing needs have dropped down to a laptop once more, but a good run while it lasted 🙂 5

This blog itself? It got over 2000 views in 2014, probably largely led by all the interest in this post (which single-handedly contributed nearly 900 views). I am still interested enough in this space that I did some cleaning up of tags/categories prior to writing the current post, so there’s that. I am actually considering simply logging any tech research I do to this space. I’ve no idea if anyone ever finds that stuff useful though. Maybe a theme change to boot? We’ll see.

Some stuff I missed on initial posting: Thanks to the wonderful institution that is the US public library system, the little one is enjoying as many books as she can read have read to her. Et moi? This friggin’ place rents out PS3 games. And a completely delectable collection of comic books graphic novels6. The cherry on top? This place has gotten me back to watching movies more regularly, with a pretty varied Blu-Ray collection. I’ve not even started looking through the DVD section. Yeah. Me Happy7.

The other thing that just struck me is that 2014 is the year I let go of my mania of collecting (or as G would put it, hoarding). Not all of it, but still:

  • Maintaining an MP3 collection (hello, Saavn/Spotify).
  • Staying up to date with a crazy number of web comics (let go of Dilbert there after nearly 15 years of following his work).
  • Staying up to date with a crazy number of currently published graphic novels (hello, library and your insanely expansive treasure trove).
  • Boxes in which small electronics came in (yeah, you read that right).
  • Rakhis, store bought or hand-made that I’ve been preserving since 1995 (seriously, that stuff was falling apart).

Ah, and, finally.. the title. I don’t know if we’ll get ‘flying’ added to the ‘self-driving’ aspect of cars this year (probably not). But steps toward holographic interfaces and interactions? That would be interesting. And so goddamn cool8.

2015 will likely shape up to be interesting on multiple fronts, which of course, we’ll have to wait and watch for. Stay tuned.


  1. Not yet a complete NRI who finds it hard to digest (pun intended) that the price of vada pav is now 300% more than when he left, or that the latest technology products are actually available and widely used in India immediately after release. 
  2. “Free” as in “you, the consumer, will be sold and stalked rather than being sold to, deal with it”. 
  3. There is a long-unfinished post that I’ve probably restructured about 10 times where I was attempting to explain how I worked out interesting ways to use Microsoft and Google services. It remains to be seen if that topic will see the light of day. 
  4. Still figuring a replacement. 
  5. Small hardware upgrades.. an SSD, doubling the RAM, and even Windows 8.1 were all instrumental in its lifespan. 
  6. Yes, the little ‘un makes me read them to her. And yes, I do the different characters in different voices. And yes, she can recognize the main characters very well, thank you. 
  7. Can you tell that 2014 is the year I got back in touch with a bunch of my hobbies? Which means I’m ignoring something else, coz there’s no way I should have the time to do this. 
  8. Can you tell I recently watched ‘Her’? 

#10

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A post reminiscing about the past should begin (fittingly) with recalling the post I was going to write for the ninth anniversary of this blog.

It never got written. (Incidentally, neither did the 8th).

And, further back.. the 1 year anniversary post of this blog?

It was 1 line.

At the half-way mark to this anniversary, I noted that I was at post #675. 5 years later, this is post #771. Barely 20 posts/year from what used to be ~70 posts/year. I actually made note of needing to work on this post back in August 1. Drafting began in September. And here it is, finally published at the end of October. Yep, I spent a month-plus on this anniversary post.

How many will read it? I wonder.2

In the decade since I started this space, “my blogosphere” has mostly disappeared. Heck, in the larger web, blogging has gone from cool to overkill to dead to a (sort-of) renaissance. My own community originally grew out of all the sites I found to try to pull readers to my own blog. There was the Blogger ‘random blog’ button. There were the blog-traffic sites where you submitted your URL and then “stumble” onto other blogs.. all so that other bloggers then stumble onto your own3. My link-list organically grew out of this internet — where people seemed to mostly go off in discovery mode. The “social” internet we know today barely existed.. discovery today is basically 10 people on your Facebook or Twitter feed linking to particular sites. The term ‘blogging’ itself was a catch-all for a bunch of internet-related activities — link sharing, commentary, long-form writing, editorials, what-have-you. The web has since supposedly “evolved” to having more focused tools for each of the above. Each of which then enables easier, more broadcast-able access to a (closed) community. I guess one could say that the blog itself has evolved, in its own way4.

Anyway, back to the future. When I started out on Blogger in 2004, it was literally a random exercise in writing. I had no idea if I could fill a blank page with random thoughts and musings. No idea if I could do it everyday. I’d spent a significant chunk of my college and school years writing in class, at home, anywhere. Sure, the stories never always made sense (in truth, some of them are pretty psychedelic reads when I go back to them today). But I’ve always enjoyed wordplay. My little attempt to push the envelope. Think about structure and story, with imagination5.

I had the time to blog. I decided to find out.

Starting out, one of my more distinct memories is of sitting in a bus stop on my way home, furiously scribbling a bunch of thoughts down on paper.. which I later transcribed (talk about passionate, I guess). Then, of course, the adrenaline rush of having 3/4/10 different people comment on a post.. and getting these completely unexpected interpretations based on what I penned. All said, though, I never did think my writing would evolve into this space. Arbit observations. Personal memoirs. Notes about things that strike me. Reviews. Philosophical frustration. And some fiction. It is actually a space that I revisit now and then, just to remember.

The 10 years of this blog’s existence incidentally signifies one other event: a decade since I left India for shores abroad.

10 frickin’ years.

So many things have happened in this time (expectedly, it is 10 years after all). Places visited, friends met, relationships established, and so much, much more. I’ve gone from student to trying-to-figure-my way to PhD to an actual researcher. From single to married to having a kid6. Rediscovered so many facets of my youth that I didn’t know were ensconced in my memory. So many different houses I’ve lived at, culminating in my current one.. which I can call ‘my home’.

From Blogger to FortuneCity to self-hosted WordPress to WordPress.com 🙂

So I can’t really come up with a reasonable summary in how much life has changed.. in, well, the most changeable part of life. Big surprise.

So what then for the next 10? Dare I think of a “next 10”? Will my (apparently) ever-filling schedule allow me to make the time to come back here and pen something that I can look back on to commemorate 20 years of this blog? I want to say ‘Yes’, but the recent past makes me… wonder. I’ve even gotten bored with writing posts lamenting my lack of posting. I’ve tried a bunch of different “post-types” to try to ensure a regular schedule. I’ve tried the weekly challenge here at WordPress.com. Kinda, sorta.. out of ideas.

But then… based on the time I’ve taken in crafting this post, it doesn’t feel like I’m ready to say goodbye. Or farewell, for that matter.

I wonder if I can think of a way to rejuvenate this space. Keep it alive.

To riff on Doctor Who, I guess its time to say something I never did say to this blog. Or to whatever audience this blog has.

Hello.


  1. At which time I realized that Greatbong and I started blogging within months of each other. And to be completely honest, it’s pretty amazing that he has actually taken it to the next level (books, public writing etc.). Lets not talk about what mine has become, mmmkay?7
  2. To be honest, if I was doing this for the readership, I would have shut shop a while ago. But to be fair, the long gaps between posts probably made my readership think it was over. Until, y’know, posts like this. Out of nowhere. 
  3. Yeah, I can’t believe I used to have the time to do such things either. 
  4. Example: Svtble and Medium. Also closed. 
  5. The auld saying goes ‘There is a book in all of us’. I have no idea when my book will actually get written and whether I’ll ever publish it. But it’s something that’s been on my list for a long time. Someday
  6. A kid who will probably find this space one day. I wonder what she will think. 
  7. I was doing these manually with a little HTML snippets = pain. in. the. butt. Discovered Markdown support on WordPress.com, and here we are! Really need to keep up with WP developments on these sort of things more closely :) 

inner child

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I grew up watching ‘Aladdin‘.

It was on this set of video cassettes which also housed ‘Sleeping Beauty‘, ‘The Little Mermaid‘, ‘The Jungle Book‘, and ‘101 Dalmations‘. And all those movies.. their sequences, their songs, their jokes.. they’re just about etched in my memory (as well as my sister’s; she probably loved those movies even more than I did). Then, of course, there were the Christmas Special movies that aired… of which one of my top picks (at that age) was ‘Hook

And thus I came to recognize Robin Williams: in my mind, he was the only child-like man who could have brought Pan to life 1. Did I know, at the time, that Robin Williams also voiced Genie? Not in the slightest. All I knew was that as much as I enjoyed watching these movies, there was someone behind the screen who enjoyed doing those voices and that dialogue even more. Channeling an inner child who was really having fun during all of this.

A few years after my incessant watching of ‘Aladdin, one of my more distinct memories is of my dad and my uncle taking me out with them – fitting the “older” kid that I was then – for a Grown-Up Outing. We caught the train to VT, made our way to Regal Cinemas, and walked into a show of ‘Mrs. Doubtfire‘. At the time, the places where you could catch a Hollywood movie were mostly relegated to that triumvirate near VT, so this was a real Trip and a Big Deal (for me anyway). ‘Mrs Doubtfire‘ remains a movie that I can happily sit through to this day (I actually skipped through it recently). I have a distinct memory of acting out the entire movie with my cousins later that week, probably barely doing the genius of Williams’ comedy any justice at all.

The point of this correlation? I grew up watching Robin Williams and his movies. I also have vague memories of watching ‘Jumanji‘ (another recent watch: 90s CGI at its worst), ‘Patch Adams‘, Flubber’, ‘Bicentennial Man‘, and ‘Robots‘, among others (thanks, cable TV). In hindsight, I dare say that this set probably barely hold up as 90s movies, though Williams is clearly (still) enjoying himself in them.

Skip forward a few years more and I eventually discovered my inner movie nerd and got down to the more serious Hollywood fare. And this was a Robin Williams I didn’t know could exist. ‘Insomnia‘, ‘Dead Poets Society2,’Good Will Hunting‘. Dark, deep, inspiring.. and not even the slightest hint of the cackling funny man I had grown up watching.

Very recently, I watched  ‘Toys‘ and ‘Popeye‘. ‘Toys‘ is likely one of the weirder movies Williams ever did in his career, and doesn’t quite work… maybe because the character falls in between the dark and light extremes that Williams could do so well. But ‘Popeye‘ is as pitch-perfect a recreation of the cartoon as it gets.. basically propelled by RW in his début role, nailing every little mannerism perfectly. While it’s a complete co-incidence that things came in such a full circle (honest!), I cannot help but reflect on how much more I might have loved ‘Popeye‘ as a kid — I “required” less from my movies. More obviously, watching 80s movies as an adult in 2014 is a very different experience from watching these movies as a kid in the 80s. But still, there was something there… something about the little bon mots Williams muttered under his breath that hooked in me as an adult, but he was clearly playing the part for the sake of the kiddie audience.

iconic

And so, reading about RW’s death this past week hit a lot closer to home than I expected. It’s a little hard to believe such a constant fixture of my childhood has passed on. Not just that a fine talent has met a sad end, but more selfishly, it made me feel like my own childhood was somehow retreating even more into the mists of time. A vague disappearing act is slowly being enacted because the actor who brought those parts to life is no more. I’m sure watching ‘Aladdin‘ or ‘Hook‘ will always trigger something in me.. but should one really stay fixated in the past, even just to relive that ‘being-a-kid’ feeling? Which reminds me of how much time has passed since I was a child.. among other things, well, I have a child now.

A little ‘un who’s just beginning to discover so many things around her.

Hopefully, among them she’ll happen upon something with the Robin Williams brand of humor, zaniness, and child-like fun that I grew up with.

Which, even years later, never fails to remind you of that inner child you can so easily forget.

1. In retrospect, ‘Hook‘ does not hold up as well as it should. But I am always transported back to being a kid watching Williams re-learn how to fly. Just so much fun.
2. Incidentally, this movie is more than a little tarnished by the fact that I kept thinking how badly ‘Mohabbatein‘ riffed off it.