Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Clockwork Chocolate

No chocolate cake was coming back with me this time cause my mom was elsewhere… but then I was told that going home and not getting cake could be bad for employee morale… so I thought of baking a cake and getting it to bangalore… I mean I have the recipe, how tough could it be right… I might as well give it a try… however I was then told that baking a cake myself and bringing it back here could be bad for employee morale….. so I to decided take my sister Sonali's help. I knew that a lot of sweat and hardwork will go into it and maybe some into the batter too. I told my Mom about employee morale and my nobel cause to keep it that way, and then i waited to see what she had to say.

Mumzee: 420 gms maida, 500 gms butter....
Moi: What ?
Mumzee: 500 gms eggs.
Moi: Wait!!
Mumzee: What.
Moi: I already have the recipe. I have it up on my blog. All I need is your blessing.
(After a long pause)
Mumzee: Ok you need the recipe. The one that you have is outdated. I made some improvements. If that was yummie then this is yummieeeee.
(At this point the artist formerly known as Mumzee takes on the role of Mamamia.. in other words she starts to speak with this hush hush tone)
Moi: So the one on the web is not the ONE.
Mamamia: Nope. That one was for others. This one is the family secret.
Moi: The family secret. Like Chocolate Cake Recipe Version 2.0
Mamamia: Yes. The family secret. Version 2.0. And remember the batter has to fall like a blob. And if it doesn't fall properly then you have to add stuff 'Andaaz Se'.
Moi: So 'Aandaz Se' is included in Version 2.0
Mamamia: 'Aandaz Se' was included in Version 1.0 too.

Finally with a little help from my sister I managed to make the batter fall like a blob. However i didn't quite understand the 'Aandaz Se' too well and it came out a tad bit hard :-) But that did not do any harm to employee morale. Good enough for starters though. The next time I'll put Beethoven's 9th symphony in the background. Yeah that should do it :-) And oh yeah I forgot to put 2 tsp Vanilla essence.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Six Strings

Got my first six strings :-) Was thinking about learning the guitar for quite some time. Nikhil and Sonu were in Calcutta where Nikhil was picking up a twelve string for himself. He plays the guitar, synthiszer and the violin. Sonali said that he and his friend spent 3+ hours in the shop trying out various guitars to check the sound.

One of my middle names is Santan. You put an 'A' at the end and it becomes Santana. Well it is also an alphabet away from Satan and then Santa too :-) I guess I'll just have to learn how to play those chords. However I have made music before but by writing a device driver to control a PWM, which stands for Pulse Width Modulator. PWM is also used in audio amplifiers to generate output signals for cellphone speakers to high-power stereo systems. It is used to generate Sine Waves by configuring it to oscillate at a particular frequency. So basically you search on the web for the corresponding frequencies for the various musical chords i.e. A, B, C etc for the various octaves. And then you search on the web for songs in terms of musical chords. And then you feed those chords which are parsed by a program which oscillates the PWM at a particular frequency for a particular duration of time. And thats it.... music :-) Well that's how polyphonic ringtones work.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Krupya Hold Kijiye Aap Kaatar Mein Hai

We have a fancy dress ever year in the Catholic Club in Nagpur. There are two bachelors who for the last few years have sportingly been the butt of jokes about being single. Everyone keeps on poking them about being single and asks them when they are getting married. So for one of the fancy dresses they came together dressed in wedding suits with a red ribbon tied around both of them, with the caption, "Special Offer: Ek ke saath ek free". Unfortunately there were no takers.

Then last year Brian came dressed as an Indian bridegroom who had now turned to technology for help. The internet, wedding portals, cellular technology, mobile phones etc to bridge the gap. He came with his face covered with flowers desperately trying to find Misses Right via the mobile phone. SMSes didn't seem to work.
SMS: Several Missed Shaadis
But there was hope with MMS which worked over GPRS.
MMS: Many More Shortlistings
GPRS: God Please Realise I'm Serious
However it seemed that he was using the wrong network.

Finally this year Brian turned to the Government Cellular Providers and has got engaged to a Mumbai girl.
This time his caption for the fancy dress read.
BSNL: Brian Says No Liaisons
MTNL: Mumbaikar Takes Nagpur Lad
And if you call him now you will hear the following message, "Mera Number Ab Vyast Hai".

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cold Mountain

Running in winter does take a lot, especially when you are officially on vacation. The thought of getting out of a cozy bed when the temperature outside is pretty low is a bit unnerving. But you manage to convince yourself and in the bargain you see the newspapers boys collecting their lots of papers on the way. And then you see the milk booths being unloaded with their quota for the morning. The dogs look at you and you exchange perceptions of life. An old man sits on the very same spot, along your path, and over time you condition yourself to exchange a 'Good morning' with a face that does not have a name.

Before I came to Bangalore I used to run about 6-7 kms and go to this place called 'Seminary Hills'. Its about 3+ kms from my home. The tree density in this place is quite high and your path has a lot of flora on either side. The upward gradient is not too much and then you tread along a path cut through thick foliage and finally descend down a flight of stairs and find yourself in a nice and peaceful place. Serene by the nature that engulfs it you find a shrine of 'Mother Mary' there, which is visited by people of all faiths; Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians; but at other hours. The solitude of that small hill, that cold mountain, restores a bit of your sanity and then you trot back home to begin your day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Joyeux Noel


'Without an enemy, there can be no war'

Well thats the tagline of the movie named 'Joyeux Noel', based on true events that occured during World War 1, 1914. Its draws a thin line between comedy and drama as the Germans, the French and the Scots declare a ceasefire on Christmas Eve and fraternize at various places along the frontlines. They decide to bury the dead, play football, sing songs, and exchange chocolate. Historical facts can be found here.

Christmas Eve. I was at home with my dad enjoying the warmth from a bonfire. No decorations were up as we were tired from our bird watching hike in the morning, then dada went on to create a high jump thinghy for the children in the neighborhood. We kept on postponing the inevitable and then decided to finally do it after the bonfire. Next day we woke up, went for mass and came home and realised that we had still not put up the decorations. Not even the christmas tree. We then got into superheroes mode and put up things in 20 minutes flat :-) In all that hurry (and superhero mode) there had to be some casualties. And so a plug that supplied power to the light series was trampled upon and it crumbled to pieces. But the lights still came on...




Sunday, December 24, 2006

Birds of the same feather

The morning was cold and beckoned us back to bed but the birds were out there somewhere, waiting to be watched as they performed their morning rituals. I headed out with my dad and his friend Anup to a lake on the outskirts of Nagpur. My dad has this bird book which he carries along on bird watching hikes. We spotted a lot of birds basking in the morning hues of the sun.

Amongst them was a bird which ornithologically goes by the name 'small green bee-eater' and psychologically goes by the name 'Yeda Popat'. Why you ask. Well there is a story behind it. It seems that if you try to hit the bird with a stone or try to shuu it away it will fly from its position and then hover above for some time. And then it will come and perch itself on the very same spot. However the thought never crossed our mind to try out that hypothesis. We were just watching. And if we did shoot them then it was with a camera.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

High on Light - A Dark Documentary

Reema, who is a budding journalist called me up a couple of days back, asking if I could participate in a discussion which was part of a documentary she and a few colleagues were making. The theme of the documentary was 'High on Life' and you can get her side of the story out here. The others who were to take part in the discussion were Madhuri (21), Sadhana (21), Karthik (23), Avinash (27) and moi (27). The only person who I knew from amongst the participants and the others in the room was Reema.

I met Reema outside and as we were walking up the stairs we realised that the lights were out. We entered the room which was dimly lit by ambient light. In the dark I was introduced to the other participants and budding journalists. Words were exchanged in the dark, as we waited for the lights; waiting for the camera and sound equipment to be fueled by the electrons and protons that lay unexcited at the moment. Words, familiar words; words that formed ephemeral patterns that could trace their genesis in our minds. Words that had been subjected to the filters that we have built over time. For the documentary we were to talk about youth issues; what gets us high on life, youth and spirituality, peer pressure, how the ambience affects our reactions at that moment, effects of wealth on behaviour and other such issues.

In the darkness time ticked, as we waited; waited to discuss issues of youth; the conversation casually drifting to whatever it could hold on to. First impressions were exchanged in the dark; impressions of people who you know nothing about, neither their looks nor their background; all you can do is base your impressions on their thoughts; impressions that are left to the subconscious whether to consider them or not. And then finally the lights came on. Lights! Camera! Reaction! And words were exchanged in the light, fueled by excited electrons and protons. Words, familiar words; words that formed ephemeral patterns that could trace their genesis in our minds. Words that had been subjected to the filters that we have built over time; filters that seem to be influenced by light and excited electrons and protons. And you notice the difference, however subtle it may be; the difference in the dark and in light. You cannot escape, we cannot escape, but are we aware of it. Ironically it was darkness that threw light on the subject. Youth: High on Life.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Novel Sexual Overtones

It was a time when I was down with delirium during my Novel Writing Marathon days; days of the recent past; days when the finish line was in sight. I had already endured the stages of 'Denial', 'Anger', 'Bargaining' and 'Depression' and had finally reached a stage whose magnified characteristics could be characterised as 'Delirium'. And then around that time I happened to meet 'M'.

M____ : So what are you writing about ?
Alistair : Err... (and then to cut a long story short, I began the long story)...
M ____ : Is your Novel about sex ?
Alistair : Nope.
M ____ : Is your Novel about God ?
Alistair : Nope.

After a short pause. Actually there was no pause cause 'M' knew what he was gonna say :-)

M ____ : Then how is it gonna sell !! I mean, I'm also thinking of writing a Novel. And my Novel is gonna be about God AND about sex. Infact its gonna be about God having sex. Now that will sell !!!!

At that very moment lightening clasped the violet sky above our heads, as the sound of our blasphemies were overcome by thunder, that was dutifully following the laws of physics.

I told 'B' about that incident when we met over the weekend, to which he gave me the 'Been There, Done That' look. It turned out that during our Engineering days he had written a 150 page novel on sex and a Goddess, which turned out to be a Hollywood movie actress. 'B' was a hosteller and during our first year of Engineering he was asked to write a 100 page novel with a sex scene on each page. All this in the name of ragging. When he returned from his holidays, the pages were increased to 150 as he had not even started. He then started with the journey to Hollywood. 5 pages waiting at the bus station. 20 pages travelling by bus. And a sexual scene; if not atleast an overtone on each and every page. He even commented that the seniors found the novel pretty amusing and told him that he was a budding novelist. So if he ever decides to quit his regular day job he can very well take a shot at writing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Being Judged

A friend called me up and asked me if I could judge a contest she was organising at her business school. I replied that the only contests I have judged till now are dance competitions, but that I have taken part in elocutions, debates, extempores during my school days and that I was not particularly good at extempores. She said that I would fit in as a judge and she would get back with details.

For those of you who have taken part in competitions, you would know that there are huge expectations from the judges. Not just expectations from the audience and organisers, but from each and every participant who put in a lot of effort on stage. I've been there, and during the competitions that go beyond an hour, like dance competitions; would wonder what went wrong with the judges when the results came out. Thoughts like "We definately deserved better than second or third. Besides the junta that got first were totally crappy". When we did manage to win, we never wondered if the second/third place winners thought of the judges in the same way.

And then there is the order in which you are to perform. You are told that judges tend to give the initial participants less marks. Its like when the first participant comes up, you can't compare that person against anyone else so you never give them the highest marks even if they are really good. Then marks are churned out relative to the others and in the bargain you tend you forget how the initial performers performed. There is no 'replay' system, as a judge you are expected to be fair and come up with a result that is without conscious prejudice.

There was this one competition where I totally went numb when I heard the result. It was probably the biggest and most prestigious 'Elocution' competition in the city. You had all the best schools taking part, there were 16 in all and 2 participants from each school which made the count 32. By a draw of lots it turned out that our school spoke first and my chance was first, while my schoolmate would get to speak as the 17th participant. It hits you hard and all your teachers tell you to forget about being ranked amongst the top. The topic I was to speak on was partially worked on by me, so there were a lot of emotions from the past weeks that had gone into its making. Not to mention the endless hours of practicing modulation, voice tone, being phonetically correct, body gestures, facial expressions with a conscious realisation of how much time had elapsed after each and every sentence. You do your best from your side and then you expect the judges to do their best. As I mentioned, when the results were out I went a bit numb and the hall went silent in my head, as I somehow found my legs taking me forward. I won by half a mark, with my schoolmate second and we won the overall trophy. I thanked the judges that night and hoped that they felt that they had done justice to all participants.

While preparing to judge the extempore/debate contest that a friend was organising, I got a bit hyper and wanted to have the breakup of marks before hand so that I can think about it and not wonder at the judges table, "What the hell does that mean?". I told her to give me the contact info of the other judges so that I can talk to them about the marks split and so that we can come to a consensus on how things should be judged. She then told me tht I was to be the only judge which totally caught me off guard. Yikes!!! Am I gonna be fair to the participants. I know that by being the only judge that would definately not be possible. I then asked her to send me the topics for the extempore so that I can think about it before hand and not be caught wondering what is being spoken about on stage. I was not a nervous wreck but was definately a bit jittery and doubtful of my abilities to judge. She then informed me that the extempore was just an intermediate contest in a series of competitions. And that teams were to be eliminated along the way, competiting on some other grounds to move up the ranks. On the final day they got one of their professors to judge along with me. I was relieved that we just had to eliminate some teams, cause that day I definately could not decide who was the best amongst them. There were two-three teams amongst the top but I knew that I would be unfair to them if I had to pick one. The prof told me that he felt that somewhere inbetween he was giving teams low marks so then he started giving them higher and in the bargain his marksheet does not reflect the real rankings. I put forward rational behind eliminating certain groups and why certain groups should not be eliminated. Since it was an extempore and the topics were different there were some who spoke decently well on tough topics and then there were those who did not do justice to easy topics. Finally we arrived at a consensus, but I felt that I kinda pushed my opinion on him :-) There was definately something that could have been done better from my end in terms of judging but looking at what was required at the end I think I did a decent job.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What's in a Name ? Duh!

Not 'Duh!' but "What's in a name ?" part deux.
The name is 'Shyam'. Well its 'Shyam Shankar'. Err well its actually 'Shyam Shankar Dharmarajan'.

Shyam just moved to Bangalore and we were out with some friends. Meghana, who like the rest of us, knows Shyam for the past 9+ years was calling him 'ShyamShankar'. Most of us just call him a plain simple 'Shyam'. So naturally the question arose as to why she doesn't call him 'Shyam' like all of us. I then asked Jaya and between a few giggles and just being herself, she pointed out that she calls him 'Shyam'. Meghana then mentioned that she calls him 'ShyamShankar' cause she likes the sound of it.

The guys then got into a huddle, and started discussing our own theories about names. Bala then mentioned that 'Shyam' was more intimate than 'ShyamShankar'. Its like first you call him 'Shyam' and then push him away and reiterate the distance he has to keep from you, by adding the 'Shankar', which makes the gap obvious. Something more intimate than 'Shyam' would be 'Shhh' and then the only thing more intimate than that would be to call him by making eye gestures :-) So while we were on our way to obtaining our Phd in names and the sound of it we decided to ask Jaya what she calls her boyfriend. We then got back into a huddle and started to discuss on the new input we had just received. Jaya who was oblivious to what was going on amongst us, seemed to be get a bit uneasy as we started to out giggle her. No one can take the crown of 'Laughing Queen' away from her, not us, no one. So she queried and we oblidged with the first draft of our thesis.

Then in a final stroke of genuine crown winning giggles and laughter she burst out, "Nooooo..... Shyam Shankar Dharmarajan!!!!". Ouch.

Friday, December 01, 2006

An excerpt from the 'Novel' deed.

I completed NaNoWriMo 2006. For winning I got a certificate in pdf form, which is to be printed. And some winner banners that I have put up on the blog. Long way to go though. Planning to print the excerpt on the back of the certificate so that it reminds me of what I have to do :-) The excerpt is below.

Eight Queens

The landscape was serene, reflected by the life that dwelled on it, although transient. The sun had reached its pinnacle, witness to all that was below, the elements in motion, the gentle flutter of flora, complemented with the random movements of the fauna, each in their own world, their actions unconsciously maneuvered by their conscious decision for survival; survival of the fittest, Darwin’s world reliving itself life after life, breathe after breathe, movement after movement, actions from reactions, each one having a subtle effect on the next, randomness in patterns, patterns out of randomness. And in all that randomness trod a wild horse, white as the snow on which it left its ephemeral mark, making itself one with the picture perfect scenery of which is was a welcome guest. It neighed its way through its feeding ritual, cutting its space through the ambience with majestic poise, moving on to the next grazing point when it partially whet its appetite from the flora that had just served its purpose, oblivious of the eyes that followed its profound beauty.


Eyes that blinked with thirst and hunger; eyes that had grown wary of the promises of life and the living of it; eyes that lay in ambush with a fixated gaze that was as tranquilizing to the flesh as a profane thought was to your dignity; flesh the object of desire that sparked off the covert behaviour. The beauty of the majestic beast was almost resonating; before it was transformed through the need for survival in the eyes of the beholder as yet another stepping stone on the road to El Dorado. At first there was hesitation as to whether this ghost deserved to be relieved of its beautiful body, the very sight of it satiating the hunger of the senses, but reality can’t survive on thoughts alone, the heart was willing to defer its verdict but the mind was playing games, vehemently advocating its case in the court of conscience, pushing rational ahead in the light of current circumstances, the jury unanimous in its decision.


Survival of the fittest, that very thought transformed itself through the senses into outward actions that manifested itself in the lifting of a gun in stealth mode, all senses focused on the impending action to be performed. It was a sacrifice the soul was willing to make, the sacrificial lamb on the altar of the Gods of hunger and the need for survival. The sanctity of the mountain was to be desecrated by the blood of an innocent for the sake of another and there was nothing anyone could do about it, not the Gods, no one; everything around, living and dead would soon be witness to this act as the sound of nature’s laws would soon resonate. The bullet would rip through the personal space of the animal that it thought was its own and it would catch it unaware; too quick to respond to the warnings that travel through space and time.


Was there really nothing anyone could do to stop this act; not even the Gods. Blood would permeate its way through the white snow and the episode would soon be forgotten as nature taking its natural course. The winds then took the smell of death to the senses of the white horse, as it twitched its head in the direction of danger and froze in its stance, making contact with its soon to be assassin; eyes locked and perceptions of life were exchanged, anxiety and opportunity meeting somewhere in between, giving rise to a plethora of emotions locked inside Pandora’s box. As the first pearl of sweat found its way through his pores and down his brow, silently awaiting its final decent to coalesce with the snow below his feet, his finger finally made contact with the trigger and the mind gave a go ahead, with doubts still lurking in the shadows. That moment etched in time was to decide the fate not just of one soul but of two. As he raised his spirit to deliver the coup de grace, a voice was heard in the background, “Let it live. It need not die so that we can live.”


Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Beginning of the End







You win a certificate in pdf form, which is to be printed. And some winner banners that I have put up on the blog. Long way to go though. Planning to print the excerpt on the back of the certificate so that it reminds me of what I have to do :-)


Thursday, November 23, 2006

NaNoWriMo PepTalks


NaNoWriMo :: Week Four

Dear Author,

We've been through a lot together these past 21 days. We've laughed at our books. We've cried at our books. And, in the last three weeks, we've progressed steadily together through the five stages of novel-writing.

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

And together we've grown as---oh wait.

Those aren't the five stages of novel-writing. They're the five stages of grieving.

Well, there goes this week's pep talk.

But you know what? Those stages actually work pretty well for NaNoWriMo too.

Stage/Week One definitely had plenty of denial ("this isn't going to be that hard"). Stage/Week Two was full of anger ("why do I do this to myself every year?"). Then came Stage/Week Three's bargaining ("I'm spending Sunday in bed watching TV, but only because I'm going to get up at 4 AM Monday and write 18,000 words before I go to wor k.")

And now we reach Stage/Week Four. Depression.

Why depression? Shouldn't this be the all-out party point? What about the stuff in last week's email about 35K and the gravity changing and the Tibetan yak farmer with the superpowered writing totem? Isn't Week Four supposed to be the point when everything gets easier?

In a word: Yes.

This weekend, we'll hit the home stretch. Where our books leap into the 40,000s, and we bat out the last 10,000 words in an exuberant rush, crossing the 50k finish line with a few days (or minutes) to spare. A true storybook ending.

But there's also a certain bewilderment that comes with setting an impossible goal, working like mad, and then looking up to discover that you are on the verge of achieving it. Winning NaNoWriMo is something that you'll remember for the rest of your life, but winning means ending, and it's a little sad to accept (Stage Five!) the fact that the focus, pro ductivity, and imaginative mayhem of these last 21 days will go away soon.

I'll talk about maintaining that momentum year-round in my final email, which will go out the first week of December. For now, though, we have a challenge to complete. And whatever your word count, know that you are on track for completing it. If that means you need to write 49,900 words this week, so be it. People do it every year. We'll have the wrist-icer, massage technician, and a gilded novelist crown ready for you when you come flying around the 50K bend.

The end is in sight! I'll see you at the finish line.

Chris
32,100 words and counting




NaNoWriMo :: Week Three

Dear Author,

You remember those overachieving participants I talked about in last week's email? The ones speeding past us with word counts in the 20,000s, and "kick me" signs fluttering from their backs?

Most of them will be cruising into the 50,000-word winners' circle this week.

Sheesh.

But you know what? I've been doing a little research. And I've discovered that thousands of participants haven't written word *one* of their books. Which makes those of us with more than 10,000 words to our name look pretty darn good by comparison. Not as far ahead as we'd like to be, maybe. But nowhere near out of contention.

And this is where I need to talk a little bit about 35K.

To me, there are two milestones in NaNoWriMo. The obvious one is 50k, when the champagne flows and the confetti falls, and your friends hoist you up on their shoulders and sing songs about your heroic novel-writing feat.

My favorite moment of the whole endeavor, though, comes at 35K. There's less singing, mind you, but when you hit 35k, you won't need a word-count tool to tell you you're there. If Week Two had a wall of fatigue at its core; Week Three is built around this glorious, chocolate-covered door called 35K. That portal opens into a wonderland of renewed energy, revived bookish enthusiasm, and serious happy-dances at the computer keyboard.

Because when you pass 35k, the gravity of the whole event changes. Writing is easier. Plotting is easier. And at 35K, you will see something in the distance that is both wonderful and bittersweet.

You'll see the end of this crazy noveling adventure.

We'll talk more about that next week. For now, the only important thing is getting to 35K. For those of us in the lower rungs of the word-coun t bracket, that may seem an impossible feat. But as NaNoWriMo participants, we eat the impossible for breakfast.

And just to make sure you have everything you need for this week's intense writing sessions, I've asked our technical overseer Russ to pack a little something extra into this email.

You see, eight years ago, while trekking across Tibet, I met an old yak farmer who lived alone in a small yurt filled with paperbacks. The older volumes were self-help guides to better living through topical applications of yak butter. But the more recent books included an array of detective fiction set in London, sci-fi tales about interplanetary wars between asparagus creatures, and a sassy series about a young woman just starting to make a name for herself in the publishing industry.

The farmer, it turns out, had written all of them.

When I asked him how he managed it, he explained that he'd found a secret totem on the s teppe that endowed its possessor with superheroic noveling powers.

I excitedly told him about my idea for founding a project where everyone in the world would write a 50,000-word novel from scratch. He wept. Then he went and dug out the brown, wooden totem, and placed it in my hand. "Share it with your people," he said. "I don't need it anymore. Book contracts have ceased to have any meaning for me since Bertelsmann AG bought Random House."

He then lowered his sad eyes, and disappeared, leaving me with the curious object and keys to his yurt.

Thanks to that totem, I've managed to write a 50,000-word novel every year, overcoming dastardly word-count deficits and my own diabolical procrastinatory tendencies.

But now I think it's time to pass the torch. This morning, I ground up the totem, and asked Russ to carefully imbed a tiny portion of it into every Week Three pep talk email. You have it no w, and its magical writerly effects will last at least through the end of the month, and probably much longer.

All I ask in return is that you honor the last request the old man made to me before riding off into the yak-filled sunset.

"Please be at 35,000 words by the end of Week Three," he said. I nodded. I had no idea what he was talking about.

But I know now. As do you.

The challenge is mighty, but you are mightier still.

See you at 35K, writer!

Chris
NaNoWriMo
18,400 words, 4 yaks, and 1 jumbo latte




NaNoWriMo :: Week Two

Dear NaNoWriMo Participant,

Hi there! It's Chris Baty again. And if you accepted the challenge in last week's email, you opened a comfortable word-count lead right out of the gate, increased that lead in the first weekend, and are now sailing far ahead of pace, preparing to plunge into the 20,000s.

You are looking good, feeling great, and your back is slowly accumulating an array of "kick me" signs, placed there by your fellow participants as you sprinted past us. A few signs, though, are a small price to pay for victory. And you *are* going to be victorious. If you are a day or less from 20K, you have everything it takes to win, and win big. Keep it up. Don't slow down. We admire you, even if you made us feel so bad about ourselves that we had to put those signs on you.

But this email is not for those doing exceptionally well. It's for the rest of us---authors with underdeveloped word counts, overdeveloped novel-guilt complexes, and sensational procrastinating abilities. Because we are the ones who are going to begin having serious misgivings about this whole escapade in the next seven days.

Why?

Because it turns out we are too busy to do this.

Or because a crisis has brought some novel-eating turmoil into our lives.

Or because our stories are really, really bad, and we're wondering why we're sacrificing so much of our time to produce a consistently crappy book.

It all adds up to the fabled Week Two Wall---a low-point of energy, enthusiasm, and joie de novel that strikes most NaNoWriMo participants between days 7 and 14. This is when our inner editors, who largely turned a blind eye to our novel flailings in Week One, return to see how things are going. And their assessments are never kind.

The plot is draggy. The characters are boring. The dialogue is pointless, and the prose has all the panache of something dashed off by a distracted kindergartner.

If you're feeling any of these things---or find yourself starting to feel them this week---know that nothing is wrong. In fact, you're likely on track for a great NaNoWriMo. Just lower your head, pick up your pace, and write straight into the maw of your misgivings. If you are thinking about quitting, DO NOT DO IT IN WEEK TWO.

If you have to quit, do it in Week Three.

I'm serious.

Because if you quit in Week Two, you're going to miss an amazing moment---the moment when your novel begins to click. You'll miss a genius plot twist you can't foresee right now that will suddenly elevate your book from a distressing mess to a sort-of-tolerable mess. And then you'll miss the euphoric breakthrough that follows that twist, when your book improves itself all the way to not-half-bad.

Not-half-bad will make you scream, it feels so good.

And you know what? The more you write, the better it gets. So make it a priority to write in torrents this week. Allow your characters to change, and have change forced upon them. Follow your intuition, even if it leads away from where you thought your book was heading. And know that writing a novel is like building a car. Your only job this month is to create a clunky machine that will eventually move people from one place to another. If your beast rolls at all at this point, you're doing great. Pretty prose, snappy dialogue, brilliant metaphors---they're all part of the high-gloss paint job and finishing touches we put on *after* the body is built.

In December, we'll have nothing but time for adding flames to our hoods and airbrushing a majestic eagle or pair of sunrise stallions on the sides of our new rides. For now, the 20,000s are calling, and we can't get distracted by the small stuff if we're going to get there. In the challenging confines of Week Two, our books will truly be built. Characters will evolve. Plots will unfold. It's going to be difficult at times, but once we make it into (and out of) the 20,000s, everything gets much easier. And envious tales of our literary feat-in-the-making will begin circulating amongst our friends, family, and co-workers.

At which point, we'll probably find a note or two on our backs as well.

It'll be awesome.

Keep plowing onward, brave writer! Good things are coming. I'll be back next Wednesday for some thoughts on Week Three.

Dreaming about my airbrushed eagle,

Chris
NaNoWriMo
8400 words and counting




NaNoWriMo :: Week One

Dear Author,

Greetings! My name is Chris Baty, and I'm the director of National Novel Writing Month. Welcome to this year's noveling extravaganza! It's great to have you writing with us.

As impossible as it may seem standing here on the precipice overlooking a vast November, NaNoWriMo will be over before you know it. This month---like the book you started writing today---moves at a frightful pace. To help give you a heads-up on some of the spirit-lifting milestones and spleen-poking hazards we'll be flying past on our way to 50K, I'll be sending an email like this one to you every Wednesday of the month.

Which brings me neatly to the subject at hand: Week One.

Ah, sweet Week One.
Whether you're a first-timer or a NaNoWriMo veteran, Week One is epic. We step onto its stage clutching a few crumpled lines of dialogue, and bearing only the haziest notions of setting and story. And, when the curtain closes on the seventh day, we're improbably directing a strange and wonderful cast of characters, all of them eager to make their mark on the tale unfolding around them.
The keys to thriving in Week One are straightforward:

1) Surge early. To be on par for the month, you should be writing 1667 words per day. In Week One, try to get 2000 or 2500 a day, and beg, borrow, and steal as much of the first weekend as possible to write. You won't need to keep up this pace throughout the month, but nothing guarantees a NaNoWriMo victory (and a fun month) like opening up a hefty lead in the first week.

2) Know that you're not doing any of this alone. As you dive into your book, 70,000 other souls are going through the same ups and downs of the Great Sleep-Deprived Novel. Whenever you're feeling like hurling your laptop out the window or setting fire to your favorite noveling notebook, come to a local write-in or stop by the NaNoWriMo forums for encouragement and reassurance. Likewise, whe never you've had a ferociously productive writing day, celebrate by sending a pep talk or sports car or box of fantastically expensive Swiss chocolates to a writer in distress.

3) Embrace the fear. It's okay to be nervous. Nervous just means you're pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone---which is when great and magical things happen. Even if you have a complete story outline to serve as a map for the month, it's still terrifying to be stepping out into the frontier of your imagination. I blame this on a lifetime of exposure to the perplexing idea that art should be made by artists, and novels left to novelists.

As someone who has done NaNoWriMo for eight years now, I can tell you this: Novels are not written by novelists. Novels are written by everyday people who give themselves permission to write novels. Whatever your writing experience, you have a book in you that only you can write. And November is a beautiful month to get it written.

Have a great first week, everyone! I'll be writing like crazy until Wednesday the 8th, when I'll drop by your inbox again with some thoughts about the spleen-tastic adventures awaiting us in Week Two.

Write on!

Chris
NaNoWriMo

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Taut for the Day

"One day you finally wake up and realise that 'Life is like a box of Chocolates', but by then you have diabetes !!!!!" ------ Alice in Never Never Land.

Right for a Cause

Friends, Family, Countrymen!

A few friends and myself have been running a ‘Writing Marathon’, where we are supposed to bring up 50k words in a month; each one on their own; from Nov 1st to Nov 30th midnight. Basically come up with a novel in 30 days. The competition is called ‘NaNoWriMo’, short for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. Their website is www.nanowrimo.org

If you want to understand what its all about the gist is out here…
http://alistairdsouza.blogspot.com/2006/11/to-write-or-not-to-write.html

And like other marathons this one too asks you to get ‘friends, family and countrymen’ to pledge stuff if you complete…. You can donate for the cause out here. The donations will go towards building ‘Libraries in South East Asia’. For more on how to donate check out details here.

Right now I’m at 28027 words…. 10 days to go with approx 2200 a day… Well I came up with a name for the Novel too, which is ‘Eight Queens’. I have uploaded an excerpt out here.

Thinking about a story is the easy part. But then trying to get it out in so many words is the tough part… and finding time to write is even tougher…. You realize that you can’t write with noise around you, with the TV on, with people talking…. So you try to find a corner of the house where you go and lock yourself… sometimes its late at night, other times its early morning…. when everyone else is asleep!!!!! But then you get frustrated that the words you are churning out are not worth it and you get depressed…. Your depression increases cause usually a world of feelings should be compressed in a single line but that is not happening… Then you make a pact with yourself that its just the first draft and you go on…. You create a character who one day wakes up and realizes that ‘Life is like a box of Chocolates’, but by then he has Diabetes !!!! And then you create another character who is surprised about the reasons behind his favourite colour being his favourite colour and is so appalled with his reasons that in the bargain becomes obsessed with going and standing at traffic signals !!!!!!

But its fun too in its own way…. Maybe I’ll just kill the guy at the traffic signal with a car that can’t see him cause its traveling at the speed of light. Or whatever :-)

The friends who are writing or were thinking of writing are in the CC list. Tell them that its good to write… CHEER THEM ON!!!!! Do your bit…. The links point to their orkut pages….

Reema – has reached 27000 words… will get to 50 k with a little bit of cheering on….
Goli – started writing and got depressed thinking about the topic he chose :-) so decided to scrap it and is writing on something else.
Prateek – is thinking of writing
Jaya – was thinking of starting to write from 20th ….
Neeti – would have loved to write but as usual is busy.

After November will be the time when I put some patterns to the randomness of words and try to make it readable so NO I won’t let anyone read it November end :-) Still have to add symmetry to words and thoughts and actions and reactions…. Without symmetry and rhythm and structure and flow it would just be noise….

Came across this interesting discussion on Poetry and Prose:
Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion. Poetry is not an expression of personality but an escape from personality. But only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things --- T.S. Elliot.

Poetry is like severing an artery and watching one’s lifeblood gush out. It demands emotion. Prose on the other hand is a flat, tranquil sheet of water on which one can tack about at one’s leisure, making patterns on the surface. Prose does not demand emotion. In poetry the action can take place everywhere and nowhere but prose demands a specific setting…

Right on!
Alistair

-------------------------------------------

Alice,

Noble cause and all. The earth is but a global village and we are all bound together as humans, no? There is a level where one rises above the mundane run of daily affairs and sees things from a macro perspective - a level where one fancies that one can make a difference yet.

There are those who say that these are all momentary delusions of grandeur that afflict the romantic at heart. They say that we are all too insignificant to be able to make a difference. This too shall pass, they say, all the while sagaciously nodding their heads as if they know something that the others dont and passing knowing smiles at others like them. Causes are subjective things, they say.

I must admit that they create doubts in my head. "Is this the difference I really want to make to the world? I am sure the kids in South East Asia are in desperate needs of libraries. Libraries are great things. Each time I enter one, I feel as if I am a little kid in a candy store. And yet, I cant choose between the kids in Laos who want books, the kids in Somalia who dont have food and water, the kids in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and all around the world who dont have parents or guardians and my own desire to buy that beautiful 32' plasma TV."

I am not that cynical. Not yet. Doubt is good, I say. Makes us re-examine and rediscover that what really matters.

Cheers to you and the others who have embarked on this mission. Kudos to you for the very fact that you took it upon yourselves (regardless of whether you get there or not). Years ago, when I made a documentary (only draft- being a dreamer, I ran out of funds before I got through to the end), I realized in the end that I was paying too much attention to the end all the time. In the end, its the journey that you relish more than anything. Nevermind what the cynics say about your ideals, your dreams of making this world a better place and about (and this is where the fear gets personal) your writing skills. March on full steam and complete those goddamn 50k words.

One thing though- please dont write 50k words just because that is what the competition (or whatever Nanowrimo is) mandates. Some of the greatest books I have read have been 100 pages odd - perhaps about 15000 words or maybe even lesser. Come to think of it, I dont even know how many words they had. It was enough that they provided joy, or new thoughts or ideas of whatever it was that I was seeking when I read them. That ensured that I just flowed with the wordstream and never bothered to stop and count the number of words. I am not a great one for quantification. A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. I dont know how they arrived at that number. I suspect something missing because the most beautiful ones I have seen have left me wordless. So write or paint or photograph or whatever it is that you feel like doing. Please pick your own style, your own way of making a difference to the world.

And please dont choose your cause just because it seemed better than the rest in the list provided by someone else. Libraries in SE Asia or food and water in Somalia, do it for reasons that matter to you the most. Heck, do it for a plasma TV if that is what appeals to you. Better than the other causes is, in my humble opinion, not good enough.

If some day I found out that our dreams can only be picked from silos of prebundled ideas, it will only go to prove that the cynics were right all along. Dream on then and if you feel that you did justice to yourselves at the end of it all, please send along the novel(s) that you write.

Abhinav

Monday, November 20, 2006

Poetic Licence to Kill

Mission Royale Swap Jack: A job worthy of the master spy James Bond. But u can do it. You have been given the Poetic Licence to Kill.... And Kill you must. Your brief is to unravel the truth hidden within the nursery rhymes that have been passed down through the ages. Complete the ryhmes with the sounds of your soul and the truth will be revealed. Yeah Yeah :-)


Jack and ........
Went up the ........
To fetch a pail of ...........
Jack fell .........
And broke his ............
And Jane came .............. after


.......... ......... quite contrary
How does your garden........
With silver........
And cockle.......
And .......... .......... all in a ...........


Hey ........... ..............
The ...........and the ..........
The cow jumped over the........
The little .......laughed
To see such..........
And the.......ran away with the ........



.......... .......... pumpkin eater
Had a ......but could not keep her
......... put her in a pumpkin ........
And there he kept her......... ............



Hickory dickory ........
The mouse ran up the .........
The ...... struck ........
The mouse ran .........
Hickory dickory .............



..................... see how they run
They all run after the ................. wife
Who cut off their tails with a ......... knife
Did you ever see such a thing in your ..........
As .......................



....... ....... Sat on a wall
....... ........ Had a great fall
All the kings horses
And all the kings ........
Couldn’t put ...... ....... together again.



........ Bridge is ...... .........
........ ........., ........ .........
........ Bridge is ...... .........
My ......... lady.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monkeying around

During our trip to Hampi we took a detour to the Chitradurga. We found the 'monkey man' practicing out there along the perpendicular fort walls. He told us that the monkey was his master as far as his style of climbing goes. He is a national level free climber and uses no equipment whatsoever. I challenged him to a climb which we caught on video. We have uploaded the video on 'YouTube'. The link to the video is here.

The Remains of the Day


The weekend was approaching and we awoke in yet another predawn to find our way 350 kms away from our current location. We had decided to explore an unknown world where the stones would tell us their dreams; and if dreams were made of stone, it would have to be Hampi; the ruins of the erstwhile Vijaynagar empire which reigned supreme from 1336 to 1565. Hampi, the capital of the empire in ruins; lies at the banks of the Tungabhadra river, and covers an area of 26 sq kms of stones; stones awaiting to whisper their secrets and bare their soul.

The four of us; Bala, Dhruv, AJ and moi; groggily positioned ourselves in the car. I took the shotgun position, only to realise later that I had placed myself on some pringles (chips), well protected by the cardboard cylindrical box, 15 inches in height and 3 inches in diameter, intended to rarely face such eventualities. After a little while I felt a bit uncomfortable and a thorough investigation of the area revealed that the cardboard box was not doing too well. The taunts dived in from all directions but I was brave enough to sit my ground, and munch on the remains of the squat.

We took a short detour enroute and explored the Chitradurga fort. At the entrance we decided to capture our very first conquest and in the bargain my camera tossed and turned in the hands of another, and flipped and flew; if it had wings it would fly but its hopes were pulled down to ground level by gravity and it landed on hard rock. It took a few hits below the synthetic belt but like a wounded soldier it decided to march on, gathering its bearings from the remains of the fall.

Up in the mountains, deep inside the fort, well protected by temples and a less trodden path, lined with thorny bushes, blades of grass, and dungeons and dragon(fly)s, lay the mud ruins of a palace. The reddish brown clay contrasted well against the greenish yellow grass, with the giant boulders that observed all from their peaks, ready to roll over and take on any intruder. The palace appeared to be taken over by ants, the walls showing signs of their inroads; an empire in organised motion. Nicely tucked into the mountains lay a small lake as green with algae as the sky was blue with pride.

Hampi is identified with the mythological Kishkindha, the monkey kingdom which finds mention in the Ramayana. On our way down from the fort we were treated to the monkey man. He told us that the monkey was his master as far as his style of climbing goes. He is a national level free climber (no equipment) and was practicing on the perpendicluar walls of the fort. I challenged him to a climb which we caught on video. And then Dhruv attempted the same and ended up scratching his goggles on the unforgiving hard rock; the remains of the climb.

We then moved ahead to Hampi which was reveling in festivities from Nov 3rd to Nov 5th this year. The festival manifested itself in already booked hotels, and sykrocketed prices for menial dwellings which we luckily stumbled upon. I carried my sleeping bag just incase we had to sleep in the car and moi in the open. We then headed towards the center of all the commotion and found ourselves walking amongst temples and stone carvings. Seated on the heights we could see the wrestling matches taking place far in the distance as sweat and muscle collided to produce an uproar of the spirit. As night took over we walked along the streets of Hampi desecrated with banners of politicians touting their good deeds. It was yet another opportunity to lure the people into false impressions. The only temple that still maintained its idols was overflowing with people and the entrance was marked by a man who stood on nails and had other piercings on various places on his body.

We decided to escape the human crowd at the Hampi Bazaar and headed towards the Vithala Temple that is undoubtly the most splendid monument of Hampi with its 56 musical pillars. Our path along the Tungabhadra river was lit up by the moon in all its glory, overjoyed to show us the way. Our moonlight trek was lined by giant boulders on surrounding hills that reflected the brilliance of the beauty of nature and shadows of stones and carvings. The Vithala temple was lit up to welcome us and the sound of the musical pillars resonated in the night. To the east of the hall is the famous Stone Chariot with stone wheels that actually revolve.

Our humble dwelling awaited our return. On closer inspection the fan didn't work, the TV didn't work, and the AC seemed to be missing some parts; it had given up its ghost. We did come to an agreement with the remaining equipment, but only after caressing he TV. Well caress is a gentle word but you get the picture, and we did too :-) The fan required a little coaxing with the help of a broom and we were off into neverland. The next morning after a rollcall of energy we started to freshen up. As I came out of the bath with wet feet the room relieved me of all its resistance as I slid and went for a royal toss that any WWF wrestler would be envious of. However instead of finding myself in a ring, I found myself competing with a table and as they say in Chinese," Ai Bang Mai Ni". We then bid adieu to our humble dwelling with the remains of my slide.

After breakfast we loaded the car with food and fruits and found that we were running short of comfortable space. We unanimously decided to unload unrequired luggage; lets make that unrequired inanimate luggage so that we can focus on the task at hand. While going through the heap the box of pringles opened and the remains of the chips were strewn all over. While we were deliberating to do away with the spilt remains I turned over from the shotgun seat and nibbled on some chips and then finally bit them adieu. Dhruv then took the crumbs and walked around a bit wondering where to throw them. He then came back to the car not knowing where to dispose of it, shrugged his shoulders and then dropped them just infront of his entrance to the car. He then had to manouveur himself over the crumbs so as not to bring them back in. But some did manage to do so :-)

Hampi is home to a lot of monuments; like the King's Balance where kings were weighed against food, gold or money which was then distributed to the poor. The Queen's Bath, a swimming pool with inlets of perfumed water. Lotus Mahal, in the shape of a lotus flower from top. Elephant Stables; Hindu-Muslim style of architecture housing the gaints that carried royalty. Pushkarini Tank, Mahanavami Dibba; a platform which looked like a miniature version of what the Aztecs built, from where royalty would look over the surroundings. This platform has beautiful carvings, and many many more such monuments.

On our way back we also visited the Tungabhadra dam. We covered the 350 kms return journey under 5 hours frantically checking and rechecking that our seatbelts work, touching a max of 130+ at some points, initiating our interest in the intricacies of seatbelts and the circuitry that made them stop only when the belt was pulled too fast from its casing. The locking mechanisms used by seatbelts are explained here. Dhruv who was now in the shotgun position was unconsciously trying to see if his head would hit the windscreen or the dashboard, if inertia ever beckoned his bearings. We reached home in one piece; mind, body and soul; the remains of the drive.

In retrospect, I revelled in the labyrinth of ruins as I caught them on camera. But the shot that caught my fancy was that of an old shepherd sitting along a large rectangular window; part of a wall that had once belonged to a home. His flock in the far distance, and the stone ruins in the background. He was lost in his thoughts as to how he had found himself sitting there; the stones whispered their dreams, carried along with the winds; that very ground was once witness to grandeur, splendor, and fabulous wealth and more so it was a cradle of talent and creativity only to be overwhelmed by the combined forces of the Mogul invaders and the destruction that followed; what lay in front of him were the remains of dreams, the remains of the day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Its not about the bike!!!

He came, he cramped, he conquered.

Lance Armstrong ran his first marathon and he did it in 2:59:36 !!!!! Wow. He had set himself a goal of under 3 hours. He was paced through his run by two former marathon champions. Doing it under 3 hours would be a dream for me, especially in the shape I'm in :-)

Well the Mumbai Marathon is on Jan 21st 2007. I registered for it yesterday. Why so early... Well I ran the Bangalore full marathon and wanted to run the Delhi Half Marathon but registered too late. So didn't wanna miss the Mumbai one and registered well in advance :-)

Yet to receive a confirmation of the same. I have set a goal of 4 hours 30 minutes for myself considering that I finished my first marathon in 5 hours 11 minutes. A tough goal for an average runner I think. Getting under 4 hours would be nice but definately undoable at this point. Maybe someday that will happen too... hmmmm....


Important dates to remember :
Race Day Sunday, January 21, 2007
Online Registration Start Date Saturday, November 4, 2006
Registration Start Date for other entry modes Thursday, November 9, 2006
Registration End Date Thursday, December 7, 2006 or as soon as running places for each race are full, whichever is earlier.
Collection of Running Number Bibs & Goodie Bags January 17 - 20, 2007

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

To Write or Not to Write


What is NaNoWriMo?
----------------------------
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and -- when the thing is done -- the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.


Writing for a cause:
--------------------------
Its like running a marathon for a cause. The funds raised will pay for the purchase and transport of 600-800 books in both Vietnamese and English, kid-sized furniture, maps, games, and ongoing librarian training for Libraries in Southeast Asia. You can also pleadge a certain amount per word that I write and then write a check at the end.


Q> If I'm just writing 50,000 words of crap, why bother? Why not just write a real novel later, when I have more time?
A> There are three reasons.

1) If you don't do it now, you probably never will. Novel writing is mostly a "one day" event. As in "One day, I'd like to write a novel." Here's the truth: 99% of us, if left to our own devices, would never make the time to write a novel. It's just so far outside our normal lives that it constantly slips down to the bottom of our to-do lists. The structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START. Once you have the first five chapters under your belt, the rest will come easily. Or painfully. But it will come. And you'll have friends to help you see it through to 50k.

2) Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. Once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself. And you'll start surprising yourself with a great bit of dialogue here and a ingenious plot twist there. Characters will start doing things you never expected, taking the story places you'd never imagined. There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it.

3) Art for art's sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and "must-dos" of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives.

Other writing events:
--------------------------
NaNoFiMo is in December, for those that couldn’t complete their novel in November…

NaNoEdMo takes place in March, basically to edit your novel…

NaBloPoMo is also in November, for those who cannot write novels but can blog :-) basically a blog a day…

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Godfather

It was the dawn of a new day... but for one chosen soul, someone, somewhere, it was more like, "The Don of the next generation". A big responsibility on my wide shoulders.... My mother let me in on the secret with instructions in a hush covert tone, "I'm NOT supposed to tell you, so ACT surprised when they tell you". The next day was witness to one of the finest acting performances in all of NeverLand; a performance that would give Vito Corleone a run for his black money or Shahrukh Khan for that matter. Wait!!! it would be blasphemous to even consider Shahrukh Khan in the same ranks of the 'Godfather'.

As Mario Puzo etched his rational, "Italians have a little joke, that the world is so hard a man must have two fathers to look after him, and thats why they have godfathers." :-)

What do I do with the weight of the new world on my shoulders ?
Well I have to put cotton in my mouth, breathe heavily, and talk slowly and err give him bigger gifts on his b'days.... that’s what my godmother used to do for me.... :-) minus the freak show that is.... On a more serious note its more of having a moral role in the upbringing of the child... but then again you can have a role even if you are not the godparent... or you can choose to have no role even if you are... it depends on the person... Its more of tradition...


Reactions from my friends on my new found status:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
yeah .. he's a bad example for the kid :) and definitely dont tell him u go to church every sunday .. he'll wonder what u've been doing there for so many years ;)

-XXXXX

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I hope next time i see alistair, he is not walking like marlon brando, or talking in a coarse voice with cigar ...

About guiding the child well..., Alistair i don't have high hopes from you... 27 yrs of virgin existence without a mate (or have had met anyone even once); how will you even show your face to the next generation, the fading veneration, the shame, the disgrace, ohh.... you better get doing sth soon before your nephew does it, I mean he does look smart... You can never be sure of this next generation, so before he makes a figurative 'mamu' out of you (or all of us), you (we) better...

I am scared already... damn it before i get more competition eating into already extinct class of good girls...., I better get 'doing' something about it...

yes almost forgot..., Congratulations.

-XXXXX

PS: relax : fairer sex has been kept out of loop for a reason, to save our pure (heck i hate this word) souls and self-respect (not that it has done any good to us till now) from the disgrace.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
alistair ? godfather ? hmmm... behind every successful software engineer, there is a crime... which one's yours ?

-XXXXX
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I guess my sister made me godfather so that I can enlighten him about the mistakes I've been making.... sob sob.... atleast he will learn from my follies.... sob sob....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Baby's day out

I'm an uncle :-) My sister natasha delivered a baby boy today early morning..... 7+ pounds, nice and chubby... It was 3:35 am sydney time… yesterday night my time... 11 ish… So I'm wondering if we should celebrate "Baby's Day Out" on the 17th or the 18th of Oct.

Natasha started inducing labor 17 hours before that with the help of some drips... Was on the phone whole day yesterday before the delivery…. Started from early morning… my BIL Kyron called me up at 6 am and told me, "Anytime soon!!!"… throughout the day was calling up delhi, pune, nagpur, sydney…. Everyone scattered everywhere….. Phones are nice little gadgets... had to wait till 11 pm…

finally it boiled down to forceps or a caesarian... the latter winning by a knife's edge....

I must remember to wish my sis Natasha on May 1st :-) For the uninitiated its 'labour' day :-) 17 hours!!!!!

btw... mother and child are doing fine.... i.e. my mother :-)
The little chap was making funny faces….

Who does he look like… well news from the front is that he looked like my other sister sonali at first….. then he had chinky eyes like me (when I was young) this morning…. Maybe my cheeks were too fat and they pushed up against my eyes…

My mom tells me I was 7++ pounds when I touched ground…. And then the nurses forgot to clean me properly and left some placenta on me… then there were ants all over me…. When I was 3-4 ish I walked into an ant hill in pune and stood there… and ants bit me everywhere…. did I mention RED ants!!! all over my body!!! I must tell you its not a nice feeling… I thought it was sand or maybe I just followed that little girl in it :-) well what can I say, some learn young!!! the things I did… can’t remember my motives but I’m sure they were just :-) well to think of it, it was cute, in a juvenile sort of way :-) Cute!!!! Nope!!! Juvenile!!! YES!!! I spent 2-3 weeks after that with these big red itchy patches all over my body… hmmm… well as I said, some learn young!!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Who's choice is it anyway ?

"We are the choices that we make"

Yet another friend, Ashu, bit the dust the other day. I was out with AJ and Bala to satiate our hunger, and our conversation drifted to the topic. Bala reiterated his subconscious, adopting an air of self imposed tranquility, his words resonating with his current lifestyle, "I'm single by choice".

AJ, whose reputation for one liners precedes him, one liners that have stood the test of time usually conforming to reality, gaining friends and foes along the way depending on how you look at them; shot back through the brimming smile on his face, with a crisp, subtle, sarcastic, yet friendly one, "Who's choice".

Friday, September 29, 2006

What's in a name

Sometime back the artist formerly known as 'Apurva Jadhav' decided to alias himself as 'AJ'. What's in a name you ask, well the name Apurva is also shared by the opposite gender. In school during elocution his name would be preceded with 'Miss', history repeating itself during prize distribution and other such public displays of effectiveness. Recently I was in Pune and bunked in with Addi and Richa. AJ has a flat in the same apartment, and as we manoeuvered ourselves through the labyrinth of parking spots I came face to face with the writing on the wall reflecting his engaged status, reiterating the fact that he has matured to a point where he doesn't 'miss' his name, he 'misses' it. The writing on the wall.

'Flat No B-801 Mrs Apurva R Jadhav'.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Funny Drinking Facts


How far can you go????

1. Sober
Sober, Adj. Possessed of iron will, but often lacking a sense of humor. Helpful with doing dishes, finding cd's and lifts home. Probably in need of several stiff drinks!

2. Tipsy
Tipsy, Adj. The usual signs are a flushed face, stupid grin, loud voice and a profound love for mankind. The sufferer is incredibly deep, inelligent and insightful but prone to giggle.

3. Plastered
Plastered, adj. Extremely generous, loud and confident. Suffering from verbal diarrhea and a belief that he/she can drink anyone under the table.

4. Drunk
Drunk, Adj. Suffering from vision, hearing and speech impairment, with an insatiable appetite for pizza. Will do anything that moves. Possessing an illogical belief that he/she is gorgeous despite dribbling and slobbering.

5. Shit-faced
Shit-faced, Adj. Invincible but incapable. Suffering from extreme loss of balance, co-ordination and sex appeal. Liable to sleep anywhere. Babbling incoherently with loss of most bodily functions.

6. Hung-over
Hung-over, Adj. Suffering from near death like state, often catatonic and always with a pounding headache. Unbalanced with no sense of humor. Needs total silence and another drink!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Being Judged

A friend called me up and asked me if I could judge a contest she was organising at her business school. I replied that the only contests I have judged till now are dance competitions, but that I have taken part in elocutions, debates, extempores during my school days and that I was not particularly good at extempores. She said that I would fit in as a judge and she would get back with details.

For those of you who have taken part in competitions, you would know that there are huge expectations from the judges. Not just expectations from the audience and organisers, but from each and every participant who put in a lot of effort on stage. I've been there, and during the competitions that go beyond an hour, like dance competitions; would wonder what went wrong with the judges when the results came out. Thoughts like "We definately deserved better than second or third. Besides the junta that got first were totally crappy". When we did manage to win, we never wondered if the second/third place winners thought of the judges in the same way.

And then there is the order in which you are to perform. You are told that judges tend to give the initial participants less marks. Its like when the first participant comes up, you can't compare that person against anyone else so you never give them the highest marks even if they are really good. Then marks are churned out relative to the others and in the bargain you tend you forget how the initial performers performed. There is no 'replay' system, as a judge you are expected to be fair and come up with a result that is without conscious prejudice.

There was this one competition where I totally went numb when I heard the result. It was probably the biggest and most prestigious 'Elocution' competition in the city. You had all the best schools taking part, there were 16 in all and 2 participants from each school which made the count 32. By a draw of lots it turned out that our school spoke first and my chance was first, while my schoolmate would get to speak as the 17th participant. It hits you hard and all your teachers tell you to forget about being ranked amongst the top. The topic I was to speak on was partially worked on by me, so there were a lot of emotions from the past weeks that had gone into its making. Not to mention the endless hours of modulation, voice tone, body gestures, facial expressions with a conscious realisation of how much time had elapsed after each and every sentence. You do your best from your side and then you expect the judges to do their job.

As I mentioned, when the results were out I went a bit numb and the hall went silent as I somehow found my legs take to forward. I won by half a mark, with my schoolmate second and we won the overall trophy. I thanked the judges that night and hoped that they felt that they felt that they had done justice to all participants.

While preparing to judge the extempore/debate contest that a friend was organising, I got a bit hyper and wanted to have the breakup of marks before hand so that I can think about it and not wonder at the judges table, "What the hell does that mean?". I told her to give me the contact info of the other judges so that I can talk to them about the marks split and so that we can come to a consensus on how things should be judged. She then told me tht I was to be the only judge which totally caught me off guard. Yikes!!! Am I gonna be fair to the participants. I know that by being the only judge that would definately not be possible. I then asked her to send me the topics for the extempore so that I can think about it before hand and not be caught wondering what is being spoken about on stage. I was not a nervous wreck but was definately a bit jittery and doubtful of my abilities to judge. She then informed me that the extempore was just an intermediate contest in a series of competitions. And that teams were to be eliminated along the way, competiting on some other grounds to move up the ranks. On the final day they got one of their professors to judge along with me. And it went off smoothly.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lage Raho Munna Bhai

After a deluge of phone calls and SMSes and co-ordinating the parallel threads that were put into motion to get tickets at various theatres in the city we finally managed to get 11 tickets, only to realise later that we had three extra tickets. Then started another deluge of phone calls and SMSes to get more people to join us, each one calling the next in circles to block those 3 tickets for friends, only to realise later that we now had 2 extra people. Shucks! So we had to send two people home.

Anyways I arrived with my roomie, AJ, 5 minutes late into the movie. As we manoeuvred ourselves through the dark recesses of the alleys and bylanes lined by people, dodging their expletives, we came face to familiar faces and then two unknown ones in our seats. We explained to them that they were in our seats, only to be emotionally radiated with the innocent look that their seats were the ones next to ours but on either side of the isle, and one of them would have to sit alone next to an uncultured primate. I quickly analysed the situation and decided to take one of their seats and sit alone while AJ took the seat next to them. I then got some SMSes from those familiar faces I was talking about.

SMS rcvd, "Why is the engaged guy sitting next to the single chick ?"
To which I replied realising the same...
SMS sent, "I know and I did the decent thing of keeping those two girls together."
To which I got a reply.
SMS rcvd, "No you could have put the settled guy alone."
Ok now this one definately seemed to be questioning my time proven tactics of hitting on someone... Abilities that have stood the test of time, shaped by tumultuous winds, simmering rock splitting heat and torrential rain. I then decided to let my friend in on my thoughts and future plan of action, justifying that there was indeed a pattern to the randomness of events that had just occured. I shot back.
SMS sent, "Hafta move slowly. Let them not think I'm desperate."
Just then the movie hall resonated with the song, "Samjho ho hi gaya".

Interval time... I stand up and move across the isle in slow motion, like a man on a mission, and oh yeah very slowly, according to plan :-) and stand face to familiar faces only to be moved, moved in more ways than one, by the fact that those two unknown faces were with us to start with and that the seat that I was in was also ours. Hmmmm.... back to the seat next to the uncouth primate.... Lage Raho Munna Bhai...

Bole tho, "pal pal pal pal har pal har pal aise katega pal har pal har pal".

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Paintball Diary

How did Alistair D'souza (nicknamed Alice), a talented, middle-class Indian geek, end up in the jungle pursued by the CBI, the FBI, the Mossad, the Karnataka Rangers and the dogs of geek town ? Woof! Woof! How did he finish up there shot in the head, lying on the mud behind a barracade, in a remote village just on the outskirts of Bangalore ? Alice's current exploits was very much of a piece with the rest of his career. He lay there for the beliefs to which he had devoted his life, so to put the Paintball Diary in context, it is illuminating to go back to the very beginning to see how he got there. He was born Alistair Remedios Santan D'souza in the city of oranges.... errr... this is gonna take long... besides doesn't the intro seem like a plagiarised version from Che's 'Bolivian diary'. Plagiarist!!!!

Ok... Ok... I lied, but I did it for a reason. You see I'm an undercover war journalist. Errr... undercover from the scraps of metal that sometimes fly past my personal space. It was 9ish on an otherwise promising bloodless morning as we gathered our bearings, and were briefed about our mission by Sreejesh. The war room in the erstwhile Impulsesoft office resonated with words that resembled the likes of courage, strategy, plans, teammates. As our consciences began to take their responsibilities seriously, we arrived at the rendezvous point and began to strap up behind our masks and chest gear, which gave us a sense of false protection. As fear engulfed us we grasped our guns and fired shots in the air to lift our spirits. Each one of us loaded our ammunition which amounted to 20 balls of paint. However when they emanated from the guns they had an accuracy of about 40-50 feet and a projectile path that was way beyond the battleground. I took shots of the brave men in uniform, fear on their faces, trying to move the protective equipment to cover maximum surface area. In the process I managed to catch, on candid camera, one particular soldier in a catch-22 situation :-)

The first mission went without troubles nor glory as we vapourised the enemy before they could reach their bunker with our flag. I shot mercenaries in action, fallen heroes and a few imaginary ones, protected behind the sand sacks that served as barracades. We reloaded as our second mission seemed more out of a scene from a video game, as we disarmed the bomb set by the terrorists to go off in a few minutes. An air of invincibility surrounded us as we decided to take the fight to the adjoining jungle. I then commited a grave mistake of asking the fighters to pose for a few 'City of God' shots, as they pumped bullets into my back at a point blank range of about 2-3 feet. I let out a cry of impunity to spare my life but the scars will remain for longer. Two of us then decided to take a detour across a few streams, trees and moos to attack the enemy from behind. We took them by surprise but realised that our comarades had already been annihilated as we breached the terms of engagement. As I looked through my foggy, moist, poignant eyes I felt the sting of bullets hit me from all sides.

It was the first time that we were on the backfoot but time permitted us to salvage some of our lost pride and dignity. This one is for you, my imaginary hero. I managed to put myself in a compromising but important position as I shot down 3 enemy troops in 3 shots. We then had just two of us in the end with a gap of 30 feet that separated us. I summoned all the ammunition left with me as I shot four bullets in quick succession at a time. Only to see 3-4 similar ones fly past my head, emanating from the barrel of another gun at the other end, waxing its presence, cutting its path through space, my radar detecting them in quick succession, as I tried to find the enemy's position and deliver that one final blow.

Then the unthinkable happened!!! From the side of the battlefield a shot came and hit me straight in the head. I saw stars as the day seemed to be dawning on me. I turned around and looked at my teammate who had just shot me. We had been betrayed by a mole. In those brief moments my life flashed before my eyes and I looked up to the heavens to grant my assassin forgiveness for his exploits, some peace of mind and a conscience that might one day bring him back to the path of righteousness. I had to lead by example in life and in a fake death, as I set out on a journey to look deep within, as a veil of peaceful warmth engulfed me. But as I was looking deep down within myself to forgive him, I realised that I had run out of ammunition. It was now time for some hand to hand combat.... AAAAAAAGGGGRRRRRHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Website: Paintball Arena
Map: Its in the centre of the screen, about 8-10 kms from IIMB on banerghatta road. The road to the left of paintball arena on the map is banerghatta road. Follow the road going upwards on the map to find IIMB.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Shot an Eagle

The day dawned on us, and with it arouse an anticipation that we would have a swinging time. It was to be my first swing at the game of golf. I mean how tough can it be right, you put a ball in front of you and you keep your feet apart and you manoeuvre your tush just the right amount till it finds its place in the scheme of things and then err... you swing... and then ?... ohh... then you see the ball fly like a bird, its maiden voyage through space and time, only to be reminded by gravity of its intended projectile motion and its ephemeral life... so where did it go... where did it go... I excitedly began to scan the area for any fast moving objects, restricting my viewing angle to 60 degrees cause... c'mon you don't expect me to hit the ball off target do you. ok.. ok.. I slyly scanned the full 180 degrees viewing angle but I couldn't find it. Maybe it was such a hard and accurate swing that it flew out of sight. I then consoled myself with the fact that it just had to move on, spread its wings and fly, there was nothing I could do. Everything moves on... sob sob... and so I decided to take another shot. But then I looked down and smiled, "Ohhh... Biiiirdieeee!!!! You came baack!!!". Hmmm... BUT as I looked up I decided to share my emotional enthusiasm with my friends with the translated look of wisdom, 'Yeah yeah... Just practising my swing'.

In some subsequent swings the ball did manage to go far beyond the 200 mark, the first bounce way ahead of the 150 mark. So are we entering the era of the bird. I mean I can take on Tiger Woods any time... at err coding :~) "Go on. Be an eagle."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Jung Typology Test

Jung, pronounced as hyuung - not much stress on the g is a world known psychologist Dr. Carl Jung. This test shows your four major traits. You can take the test here.

My type is ENFJ
ExtrovertedIntuitiveFeelingJudging
Strength of the preferences %
1752533


here is what the docs say... I mean how bad can it be right :-)
ENFJ type description by D.Keirsey
ENFJ type description by J. Butt
The Pygmalion Project: The Teacher

Let me know if you think the docs are quacks.... or what you would point out as my traits... like they didn't say anything about my weirdness level :-)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jumbled Names

In each question, we've re-arranged the letters of an actress, actor or director, and three movies that the person starred in or directed. How many can you name?

1. Actress: - Movies:
CORN MAIZE AD - "Very Bad Things" “Vanilla Sky" "Any Given Sunday”

2. Actor:
PAIN COLA - "Serpico" "Donnie Brasco" "Dog Day Afternoon"

3. Director:
DRAW HONOR - "Ransom" "Parenthood" "Grand Theft Auto"

4. Actress:
WORD BOGGLE IHOP - “Sister Act" "The Player" "Made in America"

5. Actor:
TAVERN ITEMS - "Bowfinger" "Mixed Nuts" "Grand Canyon"

6. Director:
MAMA IRIS - "Spider-Man" "A Simple Plan" "The Evil Dead"

7. Actress:
GERMANY - "Restoration" "City of Angels" "Promised Land"

8. Actor:
CLONED HEAD - "Ocean's Eleven" "The Family Man" "Mission to Mars"

9. Director:
DIRTY CLOSET - "Black Rain" "Gladiator" "Blade Runner"

10. Actor:
BONG SMILE - “Bird on a Wire" "Forever Young" "Lethal Weapon"

11. Director:
MORAL RADISH - “Analyze This" "Club Paradise" "Groundhog Day"

12. Actress:
AUTUMN HARM - "The Avengers" "Maddog and Glory" “Sweet and Lowdown"


Answers Below:













Answers:
1) Cameron Diaz 2) Al Pacino 3) Ron Howard 4) Whoopi Goldberg 5) Steve Martin 6) Sam Raimi 7) Meg Ryan 8) Don Cheadle 9) Ridley Scott 10) Mel Gibson 11) Harold Ramis 12) Uma Thurman