Thursday, December 20, 2007

Evenings

A cold night. A hot bath. A shot of vodka. A gently glowing cigarette tucked between by lips. "Rome wasn't built in a day" swaying me from the speakers. Lives were made for such nights. The melancholy washed away, leaving behind pure bliss. Welcome to Wonderland.

A hot bath after such long time, stepping out and curling into a warm sweater. A sense of shedding a layer not wanted. Sitting on a pillow, my back against the wall, I dry my hair. I have a sense that the evening is just beginning. A bottle of Orange Drink is opened. Sipping as though without a care in the world, I populate my playlist.

After I got back that evening, I found a bottle of vodka I had been looking for since a month. It was hidden in the freezer. Excellent. The shot glasses I had bought a while ago come out. While I let the vodka warm up a little, I heat up the water. This time I spend reading today's Indian Express on the internet. Nice editorial on the Indian position in the Bali Climate Conference. The Economist comes next. All while my water gently heats.

One shot goes in easily. The heat eagerly awaited. As I am swayed by the music, the glass is being filled. Time looses its track, on a yet unknown way. And as Amarok plays on, and as the minutes pass on, I realise I am back on track again. As though I had never left. Nights, cold silent nights, were made for such evenings.

I lay back drifting on to sleep. As though an afterthought, I'll say, "We must do this again sometime".

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nights

It's all quiet out here. The cold, black nights. I sit alone on my bed covered in a thick blanket to keep out the cold. The glowing cigarette end is the only source of warmth in the desolate landscape that is my room. Seconds pass and so do the hours. I sit still staring at the blank wall in front of me. The blinking battery light on my laptop is my only companion. The only sign that the clock is still ticking; that the world is still turning.

It is a cold two in the morning. A faint mist now forms every time I breathe out. A lone dog barks in the distance and a car horn sounds closer. There are no memories of the day passed and no hints of the day yet to come. The light on the All-Out mosquito repellent comes on to tell me that the power is back on. That makes me realise that I wasn't even aware that the power was out. The moonlight filters through my window softening the industrial scene outside as I stare at the trees rustling in the light breeze. Not one sound is heard. Loneliness is such beautiful melancholy.

I walk across the roof covered in few layers of clothing. A vain attempt to keep out the cold that creeps through everything. The main road stretches out in front of me. The smooth immaculate surface of the road lit by tall golden yellow lights as far as I care to see. As I walk along the roof, beneath a flickering street light slowly rides a cycle rickshaw. He is covered in thick rugs, with just his eyes visible. The money must have been worth the cold fare.

Off in the distance, a car screeches to a halt, surprisingly managing to avoid another. Not a word is exchanged between the drivers. The cars move on. Only a group of dogs howl into the distance as if disturbed from their reverie. Not another soul stirs. A tall coloumn of smoke from a distant factory greets me as I turn towards the stairs. The smoke clings to the chimney as though afraid of the cold. I long for the familiar warmth of my bed as I slowly walk down the stairs. Sleep awaits. A heavy, dreamless sleep.

Friday, November 23, 2007

What's in a Name, after all?

Yes, you might ask, "What's in a name, after all?". And you might be right most of the time. A rose by any other name will have thorns just as sharp. But, to a select few, it matters a lot. And what matters to them is not your name per se, but rather, how many alphabets are there in your name.

Questions like, "Why?", "Who?", and "What!!?", might pop into your head. Let me answer them. It all began when I decided to fly to Bangalore for my convocation. And I usually used MakeMyTrip.com to book my tickets online. It was a simple, no-nonsense site that gave me good fares and let me get on with the job quickly. All that changed last week. I entered my name, "Tarun R" and said go. But, no! I have an invalid name. An invalid name? Apparently there needs to be atleast "two characters" in my last name. Screw them I said. But any travel website I visited gave me this helpful tip. Your name is invalid. Really now, of all the stupid validations to put on a website, two characters in your name is a bit much. On top of that, the place where I enter "R" reads Last Name/Initial. Come now, can't my initial be just one character? Because of that little check, I decided to book my flights on the websites of the airlines themselves. But, even there, I was greeted by that tip. Sure, the R in my name stands for "Ramesh", my dad's name and I could have used that. But, my only photo ID proof is my driver's license and that says "Tarun R". If the names won't match, forget the boarding pass, the security won't even let me enter the airport. So, in the end the only airlines that tolerated my name were SpiceJet and IndiGo. That little stupidity cost the websites and the airlines Rs 8000.

Speaking of airline websites, one of the travel websites showed me a flight that had a really convenient time for my return journey. An Air Deccan flight. So, because of my intolerable name, I went to the Air Deccan website. I was met by this really loud screen of red, perhaps suggested by Vijay Mallya to cement his take-over of Deccan. Talk about bad taste. Moving on, I selected a one-way trip and entered the source as Bangalore. At this moment, I was greeted by a rather friendly message, "Error in function ClearAreaList. Error = undefined". So, there you have it. Perhaps this was because they hadn't tested this site on Firefox running on Linux. If so, their ineptitude just cost them Rs 4012. Talk about expensive stupidity!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Snippets

Life. In little slides.

A drawn-out fight for over-priced beer

A party in a little known corner in Haryana, by the company, for the company. It was thrown to welcome the new employees since July, 2007. The party was scheduled at 4 pm and we were told that the cabs would be arranged for us and we would be picked up from our homes. But we never knew when the cabs would come.

It was a chilly early afternoon that I woke up to at 11 am. The shower was a torture. It was at 12:30, the exact moment that I was completely covered in soap and shampoo, that the cab driver knocked on my door. Pleading with him to wait a few minutes was of no avail. Finally, as I hurried myself out of the shower and got some clothes on, I called up the driver and asked him to come by my place again. And so it was, that we finally arrived at the resort.

The entire event went well, I guess. I wasn't in the centre of things. Except for one tiny detail. No beer! We agreed that perhaps beer was off the menu, but we could buy it ourselves if we wanted to. Step in this little do-gooder fellow employee, who was supposed to be the "coordinator" who talked the resort guys into putting beer completely off the menu. And I mean completely. We saw our doubts turn to murderous intent as the barmen mentioned our dear coordinator. In the end, after much squabbling and negotiations, we finally had beer at Rs. 200 a pop. Expensive yes. But we convinced ourselves it was a moral victory.

Trash it. Treasure it

The concept of bay decoration was forced down my throat by my enthusiastic team. I admit to swallowing it willingly. We were to decorate our bays and parade them in front of touring judges. Enthusiasm was high (among my team, that is), but ideas were low. We saw people setting up beauty parlors, 'chor bazaars', and pan shops in their bays. But, we were stumped. At literally the last minute, we decided to do what was the only option. We decided to trash it.

We brought empty soft-drink bottles from the cafeteria, empty 25 litre water cans from various water dispensers. We dumped them in our bay. Next on the line were paper cups and empty tea-bag boxes. They too were dumped in our bay. Next in line were hand bags, jackets, shoes and various other articles of clothing. Chairs were brought from all the desks in our bay and dismantled and strewn around. Then came the phones from our desks. They too were dismantled and thrown about, albeit rather artfully. An old CRT monitor, various keyboards and mice were added to the growing pile of mess. A huge pile of used paper was lifted from the printer room to give the final touch. And as the judges came around, we put up a sign saying, "Rabdiwallah", i.e. the recycling mart with notices promoting recycling stuck everywhere. A pair of broken headphones, still very usable, artfully straddled the sign. If not for the judges arriving just then, we could have brought empty milk packets from the neighbourhood tea shop.

What took little less than half-an-hour to create, took us more than 2 hours to clean up. All of it hasn't been cleaned up yet, even though it has been close to a week. In the end, it was the pan shop that won. But, it did not matter. We decided to recycle this idea for the next time.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ode to 218

And so it was, at the setting of our mighty Sun, that we stood upon a small hill. With grassy plains surrounding, bordered at the farthest by a dense growth of hemp, we assembeled the Elders, the Knowers and the Thinkers. For amongst them was the Fire. The Fire in us all.

The Elder amongst the Elders received the Fire and lit the grassy knoll surrounding. And as the music in our hearts reached a cressendo, we indulged in the Feast of the Goat. We gazed at the Inferno, our minds in awe, as the beacon passed amongst us. For we consumed the essence of our world, without a word spoken, with our hearts in unison.

As the night came to its glorious end, and our mighty Sun rose over the horizon wreathed in a halo of Blue haze, we awoke to a new world. Our minds cleansed.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A fond picture book

As I woke up today at 10 in the morning, to open the door to my insufferable landlord demanding the monthly rent, I realised that my life had descended into a comfortable yet a claustrophobic rut. Stuck out in Sector 62, the veritable boondocks of Noida, something was missing. What did I desire? An escape. I hadn't the faintest idea. I still don't.

Did I really want an escape? I was happy, wasn't I? I liked it here, didn't I? Perhaps I longed for the times in which I was truly happy. The feel of a home in which you are welcome and a home you longed to return to. After I saw my landlord off, contended with the thick wad of Rupee notes tucked away in his trouser pockets, I promptly fell asleep. Only to be woken up by a turbulent dream. A hazy picture of a home no longer.

The day was chilly. The onset of the winter of the North. I needed to clear my head with a mundane activity. I cleaned my apartment. I swept and mopped the floors, took out the trash which had piled up over two weeks and organised my wardrobe. The absence of my room-mate gave me the peace and quiet I so needed. Tired of the heavy cleaning, I stuck my head under the shower. My hair badly needed some cleaning. As I stood under the shower with the cold water pouring over me, I felt at home. Yet, I wasn't home.

As the cold water pitter-pattered on the floor and the cold breeze chilled me further, that hazy picture of my dream came into focus. I had dreamt of college. My college during the beginning of the seventh semester. The days of true happiness before I had so gloriously fuck'd up. The cold water and the strong breeze reminded me of the few days in the beginning of seventh semester, in which I, on the third floor of my hostel, welcomed the hey-days of the monsoons of Mangalore with a sheer uncontrollable bliss. I remembered the days on which the water drummed fiercely on the young leaves of the trees, cleaning off their dust and bringing to light their bright green faces. Returning to the hostel soaked from college only to be mesmerised by the bright, throughly drenched, greenery that surrounded me.

As I sat in my third floor room, with the windows wide open with little regard to the computer lying right next to them, I sat soaking in the spray brought in by the fierce breeze that blew in from the sea. The rains always came in at about four in the evening always accompanied by the breeze that brought such joy. As I sat getting drenched, there was nothing on my mind, but the fine cold spray which brought such freshness to my world. As the rain ended, the leaves dripping with water on the road to the beach made the picture complete.

For me, the monsoons of Mangalore are no longer. That chapter of my life has been written. The time to write a new one has arrived. Only when it is finished can I say whether it is worth reading again and again. Much like a fond little picture book we thumb through when we are feeling down.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Years down the line

Perhaps this is best pictured as a what-if scenario. May it never come true.

It all started when I was but a wee lad when visiting relatives from far off lands of wealth and mystery dropped in at our home. Their presence filled us, still unable to find the means to leave this land of poverty and stagnation, with awe and wonder. Their very presence made our lives that much more pleasurable. They sat me down next to them and asked me a question. A question they assumed to stimulate an intellectual conversation. And as they asked the question, the humble people at our home waited with bated breath for me to answer the question.

The Question?

Ah, yes. The Question. The Question in question, never really left me. For I was always asked, " Where do you see yourself ten years from now?". I finally decided to exorcise the ghost of this question. The ghost of the lies and the barely concealed half truths in the interviews. The ghost of the irritation I felt each time I heard the Question. Yes, it is time. Where do I see myself ten years from now?

Years down the line

I see myself commuting in heavy traffic to a job I barely tolerate. I see myself waiting at the traffic lights as the light continues to stay red. I wait of the chance to jump the moment it turns amber. I sit at my desk wondering whether what I did yesterday, was what I did any other day. In a life in which even the outer lane is the slow lane.

I see myself in a neatly pressed shirt and crisp trousers. I see myself with neatly trimmed hair and a clean shaved face. I see myself using words like "business logic", which I presume is more money grubbing as compared to normal logic which is more egalitarian, benevolent and works of the benefit of all humanity.

I see myself happily participating in approved fun events, organising fairs to improve employee morale. I see myself in a world where my job is the centre of my life. A life in which I want to say, as Eric Cartman did, "Screw you guys, I'm going home" to my superiors, but unable to summon the courage to. I see myself in a life which is anything but.

Help!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Of Books and Bargains

A question. Have you spent in one day more than your monthly expenses on rent, water, electricity, food, and clothes put together? If so, on what? Answering my own question, well, I have. Pray on what you ask? On what else, but books!

A small request before I go on and on about this rather addictive experience. Please don't label me an intellectual snob. I put this before you not to show off, but rather to share this very pleasant experience with you. Moving on, allow me to welcome all you ignorant masses to the thrills of the 13th Annual Delhi Book Fair. Spread over four halls of the Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, it is the most compelling place to loose your mind and loosen your wallet. Books to the left of me, books to the right; here I was, very pleasantly stuck in the middle. Accompanied by none other that his Lordship, Sir Ajit (B.Tech, O.B.E, F.R.C.S and Supreme Commander of all Universe), I travelled the halls purchasing books left, right and any other direction.

Sweet, sweet print!

In the second stall we visited, I found in two volumes, the complete history, works, criticisms, and descriptions of the one and only Salvador Dali. And the asking price, only Rs. 1700. Not a problem. In the next stall I find rare works on the histories of Sikkim and Bhutan. In the next stall, an excellent collection of Ruskin Bond's travel writings. Well, you can easily picture my delight as I stumble from store to store laden with my heavy purchases. Along the halls I find an entire stall dedicated to the Gnanapeet awardees. Nirmal Verma's "Lal tin ki chath" is added to the growing booty.

Turn the corner and what do I see? A book on the architectural splendor present in Chandini Chowk. And I kid you not, this book, this seminal book has been written by the Member of Parliament of Chandini Chowk. This book is replete with beautiful pictures of really awe inspiring buildings in present day Shahjahanabad. What a lucky constituency to have such an MP. It just makes you fall in love with the old Dilli. As I walk along, books on the histories of Kabul and Kandahar get added to the already heavy booty. Butterball by Guy de Maupassant, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and the collected food writings by Vir Sanghvi just to add the finishing touches. I am a child in a chocolate factory.

Better bargains than your local grocer

The one reason I refused to go vegetable shopping when I was in Bangalore is because I can't bargain to save my life. I never bothered to pick up the art (as brilliantly displayed by Vivek S at the Palika Bazaar), preferring to quietly pay up the asking price. Bargaining for your vegetables is one thing. But, bargaining for a Certification Examination? That too is now possible. For it has been done.

Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine by the name of Vaibhav D. Mild mannered techie by day. Feared bargain hunter by night. For he has taken the process of bargaining from a passing skill to the level of the darkest of arts. His mere presence sends many a shop to pull down their Sale signs. And his claim to fame? He has successfully bargained to reduce the price of the SCJP examination by Rs 2100.

For the uninitiated, SCJP stands for Sun Certified Java Programmer, a certification examination offered by Sun Microsystems. Their asking price for the examination? Rs 7200. And the price he paid? Rs 5100. Like I said, a dark dark art. Imagine what I would do with a dark art like that. Today the Delhi Book Fair, tomorrow the world! No on can stop me!

No, must not reveal evil plans to take over the world...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The ins and outs

Perhaps I should begin by saying that I don't usually put up reviews lest I impose my views on the unsuspecting populace. Setting aside the fact that the said populace usually counts in the single digits, principles are principles. Now, however, I shall make an exception. My currents thoughts on one book and and one film have been around for some time. I shall now put them forth.

The Anthology of the fake Potters

Harry Potter, the series, has been around for some time. Many many reviews have been written and quoted in various articles. This series has been seminal in the amount of mass hysteria it had managed to create. That aside, here I intend to shine a tiny light on a very ignored facet of this media circus. The Fake Harry Potters.

All this media exposure has brought into light, I think for me at least, the very questionable writing and story-telling skills of the author of the original Harry Potter series. Many thoughts have been put down by others on this matter, so, I shall refrain from stepping into that arena. I now shall take you through my experiences of reading the many fake books of the Harry Potter series. These are not the many parodies that have been written. These are what the masses call "fan novels". The books written by people who are not J K Rowling carrying the same title as the original books.

In my opinion, a few of these books have better writing and more compelling a story that the originals. Speaking particularly on the seventh and hopefully the last in the series, one fake novel in particular had a much better story that the original. The plot of the book was simpler and explained the mysteries of the previous six book in much simpler scenarios. No far fetched objects of mystery. No out of this world, perhaps even out of the magical world, explanations for the happenings of the previous books. In fact, I seriously wish that this book was the original and not that disaster of a story that is actually the original. This book I speak of begins with the chapter titled "Secrets Unraveled". Do read it if you get the chance. After reading this one, I almost wish that I hadn't read the original.

Before time, there was the Cube

Yes. The Cube. That's right. Please feel free to express utter incredulity and amusement at this line. Once upon a time, in the creative depths of Hollywood, there was made a movie called The Transformers. That movie, which began with the line, "Before time, there was the Cube" narrated in the usual movie trailer voice, was released upon the innocent masses.

The Cube? Really? Couldn't the makers of the movie who spent copious money think of something better? Perhaps this is the dawn of a new era, an era of movies best described as a sort of visual pornography. Let's list the similarities between this movie and run-of-the-mill B-grade pornography, shall we? In B-grade pornographies, they have sex just because they can. In this movie they have eye-popping visual effects just because they can. In the B-grade pornographies, the plot is irrelevant. In this movie, the plot is irrelevant. The plot is just an instrument to make the movie last 90 minutes. Truly speaking, this movie had a cornier plot line and cornier dialogues than most B-grade pornographies.

The story consisted of giant robots from outer space fighting, threatening to destroy the cities of the Earth in the process. The chief villain in question is called "Megatron" and the robot species are called "AutoBots". What were they on when they came up with these names? This is straight from those Japanese serials about giant robots from the early 90's we used to watch eagerly. And the cube, that which existed before time, is responsible for everything for it was the font of all life, and Megatron seeks it to become all powerful. For the love of God people, please don't make the mistake of watching this absurdity and wasting good money.

Now that my views have been imposed the unsuspecting populace, I hope they make of it what ever they will.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Java Diaries. Version 1, Release 2

Please allow me to apologize for my previous post. It was but an ill disguised rant.

Here we are with the new features and bug fixes as promised. Hello all. This piece stands before you all stripped of the previous gloom and doom of the previous post. It was not the end of the world as we knew it. For I still stand unblemished, though a bit homogenized. I suppose that was inevitable. As I see it, real life has more to pain you and more to please you than I could ever imagine. The exhilaration of the freedom, the trepidity of doing for the first time what you took for granted from your parents, all balanced by the sweet burden of responsibility.

And so it begins

Welcome to my life. A life long dreamed of. Though it is not a dream come true, the independence, having made it by myself in a new land, is a feeling I will for ever treasure. This is part of the reason I chose to come to Noida. To see if I could make it by myself. To remove from myself that jaded feeling. To learn new and experience new. It has been about two months now, and, life is comfortable.

Work, work, work?

Not really. As it turns out, I am to work in Perl and I could ask for little else that would be better. Perhaps, a Linux workstation. Yes, that would be the sweet cherry on top of this very delectable ice-cream cone. I get to do what I like and when I am doing so, it really doesn't seem like work, work, work. Sometimes, I feel as though I am taking advantage. My my! what did I just say? Euphoria makes you say strange things indeed.

Well, so it is. May it also be.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Java Diaries. Version 1, Release 1

Imagine a world filled with rows upon unending rows filled with the eerie glow from CRT monitors. A world filled with anonymous emaciated slaves furiously typing away at a badly worn keyboard. A world of little light and lesser humanity. Imagine yourselves entering a narrow dim-lit corridor only to be met by a room with a board proclaiming it to be the "music room" with a bold notice saying "Please do not touch and play with the instruments". Welcome to my world.

A reality check

Granted. Perhaps my world is not as bad as that. But the part about the "music room" is definitely true. So far life as a working man, a yuppie, has been quite pleasant. Though the air conditioning is being a bit nauseating. The city of NOIDA, being both decently planned and relatively free of pollution, has been quite enjoyable. One point of interest is the Shipra Mall located in Ghaziabad. Note, this is not your stereotypical mall of unimaginative glass and steel with large hoardings and banners filled with in-your-face advertising. This mall is architecturally beautiful, reminiscent of an ancient Greek or Roman edifice. The advertising, though present, is understated and tastefully placed. Adjoining the mall is a large lawn and a small amphitheatre, sitting where, one can while away the time listening to good music from WorldSpace radio. All in all, a very livable place this. But, I digress. The point of this piece was to vent my ire.

Venting my ire

My day dawns at the unearthly hour of 8:30 am. I make my way, like countless other hapless souls in overcrowded means of transport, to the "code factory floor". OK, perhaps I should stop exaggerating. But, in my half asleep state, such a metaphor is not beyond imagination. When we clock in at 9:30 am, the training hall is already filling with just as half asleep folks taking their seats, not quite looking forward to the day. For, the training is being conducted as though the end of the world was to be tomorrow. We, the unwitting trainees are being stuffed with Java knowledge like a duck with herbs before a delectable preparation of pâté de foie gras. Perhaps the company is hoping that we will turn out to be just as delectable with our Java code. They may be out for a sad disappointment. Except perhaps from the Grandfathers of all Java Knowledge. That brings me to this question.

What in this God forsaken world of coding is a pseudo-address?

Yes, a pseudo-address. You know, a fake address. As to why anyone would want a fake address is beyond me. Allow me to explain the context behind this question. Those who are uninterested in the world of coding may feel free to skip this paragraph, but please continue to sympathise with me. In our cozy little group of trainees exists a group of two or three individuals who consider themselves to be the Grandfathers of all Java Knowledge. I am sure there are quite a few here with good knowledge in Java, but this term applies only to those select few with an uncanny ability to make up impressive sounding nonsensical jargon in an instant. Yes, I am talking of the few who ask magnificent and complicated doubts, that they themselves but half understand, just to look smart and knowledgeable. In one such doubt asking sessions, one of the venerable Grandfathers, while completely aware that Java doesn't disclose the memory locations of the Objects due to security considerations, asked the befuddled trainer how one would go about obtaining the memory location of an Object. He proposed further that the function hashcode() called on an Object would return only an integer and that integer perhaps referred to a pseudo-address. My sincere advise to you, Sir, is "let it go". You are not impressing anyone and you are just being an annoying &^%$! to everyone.

That said, please expect many new features and bug fixes in The Java Diaries. Version 1, Release 2.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The cult of YHAI

Dear people, dear dear readers, I am here today to give you a brief insight into a new cult I have discovered. As the first thing you notice, this cult doesn't try to disguise itself as a religion. Though you have to religiously have to follow its principles. Let's begin, shall we?

The discovery

My beautiful journey of discovery started while preparing to climb the treacherous slopes of the Himalayas. When I landed at their Base, I was completely amazed by this little community of people living in simple dwellings made of canvas. Their existence was so peaceful. The people laughed and the children played. I was then introduced to the Leaders of this little "camp". I was then told how this little camp would be the centre of my life during my sojourn with the Cult. I looked around. I didn't mind it in the least. I saw the people laughing, I saw the children playing, and as I laughed and played along with them, I saw my life change for the better in front of my own eyes. The Cult filled my heart with all the goodness and hope for all of humanity. I am now here to share this joyous discovery with all of you. Join me, become one of us, and for every person that does, the world shall become a better place.

The member

The journey up the Himalayas wouldn't have been possible without the help of this beautiful Cult. I, was happy. I was welcomed into their fold like I was part of their own. In the freezing cold of the Himalayas, I was free, I was contended. I assumed the part of the Member with flourish. And I welcomed the part I was given in this little group with open arms. The thought me how to live and be. I was born anew. For I knew I could start from fresh. The ways of the Cult amazed me, yet was in a sublime way, very familiar.

The rituals

Life in the little dwellings was made so much more. The little rites and rituals made everyone more spirited and the world more lovable.These little rituals become so much a part o your live that you cherish every moment of them. You welcome the little person who calls you out in time for those rituals. You love the beginnings, when elaborate speeches are made by the Leaders, the process of preparations, the chants and the cries and the dances during the rituals, and the endings, when teary eyed, the Leaders bid you a fond farewell and you with a heavy heart part with this joyous occasion. Dear readers, come with me and I shall take you on a little journey amongst our rituals, amongst our very way of life.

Fire! Fire!

Campfire! So goes the cry. This little performance fills our heart with excitement, lifting us amidst the chorus to a place far far away. Thus, every night we leave our little dwellings and join the throng at this little pit with a twig and multi-coloured light bulbs. The eldest amongst the Leaders lights the little bulbs while we scream "Fire! Fire! Campfire!" The dances, the songs that follow, sets up the mood for a mellow night. And when this ritual ends, we gaze in awe at ourselves. We have a new hope.

Fertilising the fields

As a rite of passage, we were to "Fertilise the fields".It is the rite of passage for the Members to prove to the Cult that they were committed to the Cult. We were given a bottle of water and sent off into the the woods surrounding the little camp. We walked on, bearing the urge within ourselves, to find a place of solitude. When this place was discovered, we carefully concealed ourselves and began the process of "Fertilising the fields". We sang to ourselves while we went about our work, tunelessly mouthing the words of the song of the ritual. "Hello everybody, please raise your shields. Merrily merrily merrily I'm off to fertilise the fields". Those that completed this rite of passage would go on to complete this journey in comfort. Those that didn't would be shunned and would return home in ignominy. This rite would never be the same for everyone. One of our new brethren was chased by a horse on the mountain sides in near freezing temperatures. While another of our brethren used the omnipresent hemp to cleanse himself, thus earning a distinct place in our little Cult.

If you have liked what you read, then come, join us and for as little as Rs 50.00 for a year, lets us make this world a better place.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The story of Strange Benefits

The story of Strange Benefits is the story of a road, a road so beaten that we shall place a wreath by its side and mourn its tragic demise. It lived a short but useful life, but it left much to be done.

The Road

The road is known by many and adored by a few as NH-17. This veritable life line runs through the heartland of industrial coastal Karnataka connecting its major ports and industries. We, the students of NITK, know and adore this road for we cross this sliver of land every day. Small shops and eateries line this road on either side giving it the atmosphere of a home long remembered and seldom visited. The line of shops punctuated liberally with seedy bars serve to relieve the working men and women of their daily grind. The cool breeze from the beach cools the afternoons and evenings from the blistering tropical Sun. Lining the road are trees of all sizes giving a touch of cool colour to the sore dust filled eyes of the travelers. But, the road is not healthy. For it suffers.

The Authority

The stepping in of the National Highway Authority of India to relieve the road of its pain was met with much protests and litigation over land acquisition. We would widen the road said the Authority. We would loose our businesses said the people. In the end, the Authority prevailed and the land was acquired. The land so acquired was flattened and a bed of gravel was laid. And all the while the students of NITK were but mute spectators.

The Pledge

Near the gates of the campus of NITK lie various small shacks that serve as kiosks serving coffees, teas, various crisps and, most important of all, cigarettes. Realising this, one starry night filled with lifting colours drifting along with our minds, we arrived at a consensus. We shall help the Authority, we said. The road was dying and we needed to save it. We shall be more than mute spectators, we said. And our pledge? We would donate our lungs to the cause.

How would that help, you might ask. But, you see, copious smoking fills your lungs with tar. Enormous amounts of tar. And we asked ourselves, enormous enough to help asphalt this stretch of land that has stolen our hearts? Perhaps. Perhaps enough to transform this tiny road into a highway worthy of the "National Highway" name.

The Road is dead. Long live the Road.