of reading, writing, and everything else i don’t do

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It is curious how quickly a blog can get sidelined. I’ve read a lot about how the best way to keep in touch with things you want to do, is to allocate a set amount of time every day to do such things. You want to write: make that time of 15, 20, 30 minutes a day where you sit in front of a blank page and write. No compromises.

But what if your agenda has so many things you want to get done that the time you want to set aside is just not there? Lets see. I have ‘x’ things to finish during research time. Most of which remain to get done when I get in the next day. Such is nature of research. When I leave lab, I want to go home and kick back with a gaming session on the PS3 spend time gazing deeply into G’s eyes. Of course, there has to be time spent reading. Dinner. Movies. Other arbit stuff that must be done. The number of activities available to be done, and the amount of time available to do them.. are mostly inversely related. Exponentially too. With the constraint that the number of activities only grow, and the amount of time only appears to shrink. Or maybe it does, and we don’t know any better.

Speaking of reading, my reading has either evolved to expand its boundaries.. or disintegrated into pointlessness — I’m not sure which yet. A lot of my time is spent reading articles online; the sheer plethora of excellent writing happening in the multitude of online publications boggles the mind (here is a great example, recently read). But is reading magazine articles and long-form journalism truly reading? Tech-blog articles update way too often to be followed closely. Really, the only way to read such short-but-quick-update sites is to browse them on Flipboard. For once, I see the value of a tablet interface.. excellent for casual skimming.

So, do I remember opening a book on a Kindle (or physically) and reading it? Not recently. A few books have been read, here and there. But nothing compared to what I would like to be finishing. For such things, having a library book is an excellent excuse for finishing at least that in the 2 weeks you have the book. I’ve not borrowed a book in a while, come to think of it. Not good.Yes, photos like these

I find myself constantly trying to optimize the time I spend on the things I want to do. I’ve actually cut down on my Reader feeds. It’s still not at the stage I want to be at, but I’m getting there. I hope. Photos have languished after being downloaded from the camera. I actually found photos which are now years old and had been earmarked for post-processing.. that were never touched. I’m moving to using RAW so that I am careful about taking photos — way fewer can be taken on a single card. Maybe this will fix my habit of saving photos to disk, and leaving them there. Will it work? Time will tell. I’m trying to evaluate every side activity that I do (FYI, before you ask: gazing into G’s eyes is considered a major activity) in this way. For e.g., I’m starting to think I attempt to follow too many comics. Have to strike off a coupla series from the list. Of course, I’m sure some of you will say I should just strike comics from the list.

There have been multiple occasions where I’ve opened up this page to post something. Anything. I usually end up browsing my past posts, reading some that are close to the heart. The further back I go, the more I realize how I much I enjoy writing. And how little I write. So here I am, tapping away at my keyboard..

p.s. I know this post doesn’t really have anything new to say. But I got tired of having a white screen with no text. Ideas only germinate when they’re given free rein. So here I am. Again.

p.p.s. Yes, I updated my blog design as well. The old one was too stark. This appears more stylish. The rest remains the same: minimalism rules after all.

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date a girl who is a geek

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Find her with a knowing smile when calzones, Junior Mints, and Yev Kassem make an appearance in conversation. Spend the night talking about how 221B Baker Street formed the doorway for you to discover the world outside Enid Blyton. Find the night has almost sped past and you’ve barely started talking about the common books you’ve read.

When you find a girl who is a geek, try not to let anyone else find her. Enthrall her with talk of  how Marvin epitomizes an attitude we should all strive for. Distract her with stories from the Silmarillion. Talk to her about Kurosawa, and where Sholay parallelizes Shichinin no Samurai. Discuss the finer points of Rahman and Ilaiyaraja. Discover from her a world of movies that you did not know of, but one she can quote from unerringly.

When the time is right, give her the lowdown on Spider-Man – why Part 2 is a pitch perfect rendition of Doc Ock, but try not to go into  the parts with the Clone Saga. Or tell her of the Batman mythos, while side-stepping the Bat-Mite. Try not to continue talking about the trivia of comicbookdom, instead, read a book together. Aloud. You will laugh together, a shared memory will be formed… one that far surpasses discovering a Marvel or DC multiverse. Remember, a girl who is a geek does not treasure clichéd traditions such as “dinner-and-movie” nights.

It is a challenge to date a girl who is a geek. Continue reading

is blogging once a week really blogging?

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Or should I resort to twittering? Given that I update my Facebook status once a day (as a rule of thumb), it seems I could tie it all up pretty neatly. Status update – twitter – blog post. But then you would be treated to such gems as ‘Satish is researching how to research’. Seriously. Didn’t seem to work out for Uber-T when he tried it either. Besides, Twitter seems to go against the philosophy of my wanting to keep abreast with writing. I’m not really “writing” too much here either, but at least paying to have this site alive forces to me add something to it at least once a week. Though for some time to come, I doubt I will be able to post much more frequently. Or much longer posts. Come to think of it, I used to be able to set aside time to post everyday… a long time ago. Posting more frequently might mean this space gets a plethora of updates like ‘Today I went to the loo in college. It stinks.’ or ‘I had choley for lunch today. Joy.’ Do I really want to degenerate to that? I’ve already degenerated significantly from the original tone of “thoughtful randomness” that characterized most of 2004 and 2005. Somehow more esoteric thoughts seem to occupy the forefront of my mind now. Such as what to have for lunch tomorrow. I’m guessing it has something to do with research occupying a majority of my waking life, but maybe I should push myself a little more. But then that’s what I always say. Pushing myself seems to imply limitations that I have to supersede somehow. Which is not easy. And that’s a tangent I’m forcing myself to develop right now. I was hoping to start talking about one thing, move to another, then another and  somehow bring myself back to the start. Like Pulp Fiction. Which reminds me that ‘Inglourious Basterds’ releases this summer. This summer is disappointing movie-wise. Just ‘Basterds’, ‘Wolverine’ and ‘Bruno’. Compared to last years plethora of BIG summer movies, this seems tame. Maybe ‘Transformers 2’ as well. A fanboy’s delight. Big huge robots. And Megan Fox. Yes! My movie list, as I have mentioned a billion trillion times, is growing at an exponential rate. And shows no signs of being whittled down. I wonder if I will ever watch even half the movies on the list. Or for that matter, even half the movies I’ve collected. Given the way I collect books which I eventually, eventually, finish…I’m confident there will come a time when I finish things up. Like my Reader. Which has been sitting pretty at 2000+ unread items and counting for the last year or so. Whew. I read tech-news weeks out of date and find it amazing… only to find how out-of-date I am. Damn. This post reminds me a lot of Riri’s “brain dumping” as she put it. Which is sadly offline now – she has moved to using FB notes. Which I do too – indirectly. But somehow that does not appeal to me as much as this page. I’ve suddenly realized that I have come back to FB/Twitter vs staying.cool. Which was the point of this post anyway. Which is why the blogging continues.

And somehow related to this is the fact that Kate Winslet chose the naked scenes route to winning the Oscar. Most of her movies in 2006-2008 have all had them. Which means there is something to that theory. Which reminds me of my theory that only “good” adaptations of source material can ever do well. Such as LOTR vs. Spidey 3. I know that this means I’m comparing an epic to a comic. But still… this was the subject of a morning debate that lasted a good 30 minutes. And then I complain to the would-be that I don’t come to lab on time. And that was a reference to the missus so that she doesn’t take offense to the fact that I don’t refer to her as much as she would like me to. Now everyone’s happy. And so the blogging definitely continues.

take-off

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the hum of the engine penetrates the shell of the plane i am in… vibrating, permeating and then trailing away into nearly nothing at all. all at once, it is back, then gone; every few minutes now as the pilot readies for take-off. the plane speeds up. i can see little of the illuminated runway on my in flight display, mirrored by the window 2 seats away. the runway speeds up… faster, faster, a blur of gray now, a jerk… the plane is reared up into the air, and i am off.

again.
i hate it more than all the other times. possibly, the first time i took off like this 3 years comes close in terms of longing. longing not to leave. there was a moment today, outside bombay airport. i held my mother, then my sister; it seemed less than 5 seconds had passed since i had hugged them on striding out of the airport on a blistering wednesday afternoon. 21 days could not have passed since then. i did not want to leave them, leave home, leave bombay again. i had blinked furiously, tears were not something i wanted to face. facing them was well beyond me.

i sit in a flight now at dubai. i wanted one last glimpse of bombay, maybe a photo of its shiny night as i left. my distance at the aisle seat had precluded that joy. each time i come, it gets harder to be with everyone i want to, the way i want to, when i want to.
Continue reading

moments to treasure, moments to forget

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saying it sucks when it doesn’t, saying it doesn’t suck when it does, a smile for no reason, nearly meeting and nearly missing each other, a face lighting up, a face literally reflecting the fall in your mood, sitting in the balcony and watching cars go by, watching people walk past and smile in recognition, everyone sitting around at 2 in the morning and laughing over nothing at all, sitting alone at 2:30 in the morning and wondering if you’ll ever have something to laugh about, sitting in silence with someone who decided to give you company all night long, sitting in companionship with the only person you want to spend the rest of the night with, coldplay singing ‘god put a smile upon your face’, u2 strumming ‘with or without you’, listen to ‘comfortably numb’ the first time and not understand it at all, listen to rahman after 2 days and feel your craving be satisfied, your college band playing ‘sayonee’ perfectly, your friends randomly jamming ‘sweet child o mine’ and getting it perfect, an attempt to sing ‘pal pal’ and barely making it past the first line, going out and singing off-key, off-kilter, off-beat and the crowd joining in, the first show you put up and it has the crowd on its feet, humming the same tune all day and having people join in, everyone sitting around and singing songs from back then, humming a tune to yourself alone and realizing it at the chorus – and then shutting up, chorusing a song with a crowd, watching the concert from the very back of the crowd with a select coterie of friends, getting into a mosh pit during your very first rock concert, getting frustrated with the people in the mosh pit during the second concert you arrange, not eating for 20 hours straight because you were running around getting your college into festival shape, not sleeping for 52 hours because you were getting your thesis into shape, sleeping for less than 4 hours in 72 getting your paper into shape, sleeping for less than 4 hours a day worrying if you’ll ever get to write a paper, watching the snow fall for the first time and running out to play, watching the snow fall continuously thinking of how much more fun it would be with someone, anyone, enjoying the sun for the first time in days after your first snowstorm, walking in the rain with the weather mirroring your mood, crying in the shower, laughing in the sun, being amazed the way spring makes everything seem better, being star struck by the beauty of the world after just one rainfall, watching ‘life is beautiful’ and going numb at the end of the movie, sitting in your room all alone, sitting in your house all alone feeling you are all alone in the world, feeling alone and having that one person come over just then, having that one person leave and feel alone – and not know why, write something randomly and have the world understand it all too well, write something not-so-randomly and not have anyone get it at all, look up in the sky in new york and wonder whether spider-man is to come swinging across the skyline at age 11, keep glancing at the sky at age 25 hoping spider-man will come, wonder how ‘calvin and hobbes’ could be so brilliant, discover comics that you read 10 years ago all over again, wonder whether you know someone at all, find some people know you better than you could ever imagine, miss every festival for 2 years straight and cherish the one you could celebrate, go home and spend your first night out drinking tea and watching the rain like old times, have a friend sit up with you at 2 am just to talk about old times, keep writing and find that there’s too much to write about, wonder whether what you’re writing will make sense to anyone at all…

bobble bubble bobble

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i watched as the bubble detached itself from nothingness, and floated off into the space above me. watching it drift along, awaiting the point when it would explode. which would be all too soon, a tad disappointing, but very expected.

it didn’t.

i watched it float on, narrowly miss the light fixture and then hold a path to the nearest wall. the end was near. i nearly turned back to what i was doing, when the light caught the silvery surface. a momentary sheen; the bubble passed out of the range of the lamp, but it had my attention. i started following its aimless drifting, joined by my friend.

it seemed determined to demonstrate resilience rarely seen in its species. wondrously, it weaved, bobbed and drifted in some crazy current of air… protected by some force that prevented it coming in contact with the wall. barely visible at some points, it drifted centimeters from the wall, eventually deciding to dip downwards… lower.. lower.. until finally it seemed collision was inevitable.

not yet. not yet.

barely visible itself, it floated along some invisible path. it had to explore every possible region it could in an all too short life. we missed it at some point, only to find we were nearly to be destroyers. jumping away, carefully ensuring nothing would obstruct it… we watched it zoom towards a nearby counter and then duck away. it seemed unsure whether to go above or below… then chose the latter route, dipping and rising almost heart-stoppingly.

we were now three people enthralled by the travails of a little bubble of air compressed in a thin soap membrane. pointing, exclaiming, wondering, following. on our knees, crawling under the counter, toddling behind it. it could not be possible that it would keep on… but it did.
flashback: to when, as a kid, i would jump and reach for every bubble blown out of the little pipe. a little later: i was blowing the bubbles, laughing as my sister screamed to get them. and today: the three of us following a sole bubble, hoping it would not disappear like so many in the past.

all at once, it hit the ground. an instance of sheen in the light, and it disappeared. just like that. my friends got up, i then realized how much we had been rooting for it. a quick silence, and i got up as well.

like so much else we want, we do, we desire; we can but hope: just a while longer.. don’t burst… just don’t burst.

remember, remember

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i remember walking down my street, across the road, around the garden, taking a random exit, turning, still walking, reaching the highway, finding my way across it, and walking along it all the way to the nearest signal.

by the end of that walk, i had decided that i could never work in an industry, live the 9-to-5 life, develop softwares that need no design, do an MBA, sit and manage people who were writing code for ‘development’. it would be an easy option, would need next to no effort, and i would earn a lot of money in the process. i would eventually retire as a VP or maybe even higher up earning possible 7 figure salaries, and never know where my potential really lie.

all those years ago, i had reached this decision, and then turned back home. i walked back all the way, past the signals, across the roads, round the garden, and down my street. by the time i had reached home, i had decided that i was going to bust my ass in research. even if my record worked well against me for such pursuits.

it has been a while. i have had more than my fair share of rejects. i took up a masters to get the requisite background in biomedical engineering. i nearly went for a second masters. i tried to do research and studies, and surprised myself in how much i enjoyed it. all to ensure i would be able to do a doctorate eventually.

now, i am.

i finally am.