Crouching tiger, hidden dragon

I’ve previously mentioned before how I have a long commute. It is very long. It takes me 50 minutes to get to the metro station closest to my office, and it is another 20-30 minutes from there. So that’s nearly 90 minutes each way. 90 minutes is 1.5 hours. That’s 3 hours each day spent just travelling. Add another 9 spent at work, another 6 spent sleeping and how much time does that leave me with? Six! That’s how much. Six! Six measly hours over a 24 hour period in which to enjoy the space I pay rent for! Weekends, I’m mainly at home, but still! And of those six, 60 to 90 minutes goes in getting ready for work. So effectively 5. And I spend about an hour or so cooking. So that’s four. I spend about 1 hour of that before cooking, and 3 hours after.

But that aside, the reason I brought that up was to demonstrate how much time I spend commuting. What this means is that I have three hours each day to spend with my thoughts. It’s a pleasant activity. All you meditators don’t know what you’re missing. You should just let your brain run free. Free-range for life! But a fair part of my commute is via road. And that, in Delhi, means traffic. Delhi has terrible traffic. It has some very good roads, but it has terrible drivers. And a significant part of my commute is actually in UP, which is worse. There, the roads are terrible, and the drivers are worse. Today, one of the auto drivers was complaining to me about drivers in UP. I consider that deeply absurd. He was complaining about people going on the wrong side, right after he tried to do the very thing he was complaining about! **Deep breaths**

But that aside — have you noticed how I notice that I’m doing a certain style of tone in each post and then I consciously develop that tone in the remaining part of the post and then it just dies and all right you haven’t no need to get so worked up jeez– the reason I brought that up — see what I’m doing all right no need to get violent– was because during today’s commute, I had an idea that I decided to throw out there. What if vehicles were given right of way according to passenger density?

What is passenger density? That is an excellent question, faceless reader. I doubt many people have ever asked that question. Passenger density is the number of passengers divided by the number of seats available according to the manufacturer. This of course means that an 800 with 7 people in it has a density greater than 1, which is absolute fine and which means that the 800 gets right of way, unless an 800 turns up with 8 people in it and does not get challaned.

What implications does this have for traffic in Delhi? First of all, it would get a lot worse because how the fuck are people going to be estimating passenger density on the fly? Until every car comes equipped with either a passenger density display board, or starts broadcasting its passenger density, we are doomed to terrible traffic. But seriously, it would do nothing to fix our traffic. All it would ensure is that fewer people are stuck in traffic. And maybe encourage people to increase passenger density and thus reduce traffic after all.

I’ve also moved out of the old place into a new place. The old place was falling apart and the tap in the kitchen started to shock us and not with provocative speech or anything but with 220 volts of alternating current. And there was a lot of seepage, and the place was really hot. So we folded our tents and left. The new place is nice, if old, and things keep breaking because they’re quite old. Only a few days ago I had to get the choke of a tube light changed because it had copped it, and the busted one was from October 1991! Dear lord! Similarly, some switches are dying because of old age and will need to be changed and stuff.

In other news, I have so much bloody work!

Posted in Myself. 3 Comments »

Back by popular demand!

And when I say ‘popular demand’, I mean two people asked me at some point to blog again. I’m not going to tell them that I’ve made a new post. So I’m assured of at least some conversation at some point during this year. Or the next. It really depends on how soon they’ll realize there’s a new post.

I now live in South Delhi. I still work in Uttar Pradesh. I say Uttar Pradesh instead of Noida because Uttar Pradesh is a big state and I could be working somewhere in the hinterland. But I’m not. Travelling to work, you only realize you’ve entered Uttar Pradesh when the roads become narrower and traffic management becomes non-existent. Traffic in Uttar Pradesh probably flows better when the cops don’t try to manage it. It’s probably the unfamiliarity of seeing cops trying to manage traffic that freaks the fuck out of people. It’s like when you’re asked a question suddenly and you start stammering and getting all worked up. Or it could be that the cops don’t give a shit. I did see two traffic cops carrying assault rifles once and it freaked me the fuck out. What the fuck kind of traffic were they expecting? Dear Lord! I did not think I would ever write Uttar Pradesh so many times in one paragraph.

Living in South Delhi has its advantages. I can read a lot in the ninety minutes or so that it takes me to get to work. I can also recognize other people who make this journey everyday. It’s a great reason to leave work early everyday, and to get to work late. It’s a great reason to skip late-night meetings with people in other time zones. It also makes for a great excuse to get out of attending social gatherings. People can’t really say anything if you go, “Hey! I can’t make it. I have to go to Uttar Pradesh tomorrow.” They don’t know you’re just going to sit at home and listen to music you like rather than some trashy trash that you’d rather trash. Adjective, noun and verb!

If time speeding by is a sign of ageing, then I am definitely old. Where did the past year go?! But time also seems to slow down. For example, it’s only been two weeks since Christmas! Who would have thunk? Bloody stupid neurons!

I should probably blog more. But then, I should probably also exercise more, eat healthier, drink less coffee and quit smoking. I don’t see any of that happening, so maybe I will blog more and experience a sense of achievement. It’s the same reason I like answering emails. It provides a sense of accomplishment while actually not advancing the progress of human civilization a whit. Emails are cool things. They could substitute for so many meetings I have to attend. Yet people insist on having meetings and calls that could just have been email conversations. What are you going to learn by speaking to me that you couldn’t learn by asking me over email? My reply is likely to be way more concise and better researched than if you ask me on a call. Most calls are also pointless. Everyone should just talk via emails and chats. Unless you actually like spending time with the other person. In which case, use whatever medium of communication floats your boat. If you want to communicate via smoke signals, go ahead. You’ll have to always be in the smoking zone, but you’re usually in the smoking zone anyway so you might as well get some work done.

There are benefits to working for a soulless corporate entity apart from the usual insurance and stuff. One is free coffee, the second is free water, and the last is good loos. These are technically one big benefit since they’re so closely linked, they could be taught in science class as another cycle of nature. Food is kinda hit-and-miss. Travel is usually hated. And everybody other than you just cannot understand what you’re trying to say. Everybody’s just getting by while the universe quietly arranges everything for its eventual heat death. All of us are just cogs in the universe’s grand scheme.

So don’t be sad if you did nothing all day at work. Maybe entropy didn’t want you today.

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Out of Touch? How this Response to Hokkolorob at Jadavpur University Distracts from its Graded Social Dynamics

What a long, strange trip it’s been!

Today, it will have been seven years since I started this WordPress blog. And I only have 219 posts to show for it. This will be the 220th post. That’s a bit more than 31 posts per year. Or about two posts per month. Or one post every fifteen days. I am not the most active of bloggers. This is sad. But what can one do when one is hamstrung by forces too obdurate to overcome? But I did not come here because it’s been seven years. I didn’t even know it had been seven years until I logged in and saw the notification. Well done, WordPress. You’re one of the best blogging platforms ever!

But let us move on to the blog post I composed in my head on my way back from work.

I’ve recently been on a Grateful Dead trip and it shows no signs of letting up. I’ve hardly listened to anything else. Even now, “Row Jimmy” from 5/8/77 is playing on Youtube. It might not be the best concert of theirs, but it’s definitely in my top five. I’ve spent the past two weeks or more listening to Dead concerts, JGB concerts, Garcia and Kahn, Garcia and Grisman, and other related stuff. I’ve been listening to them on youtube, and (which is an awesome site which everyone should check out!)

I’ve figured there seems to be a general trend when becoming a Deadhead. You first hear a couple of songs, usually studio versions, maybe a live version or two. Maybe you hear “Box of Rain” or “Casey Jones.” Then you decide to check them out a bit more. You consciously start listening to more of their stuff. You check out stuff like “Terrapin Station.” You listen to Live/Dead. And there it stays for some time.

Maybe this phase stays for a day. Maybe a week. Maybe forever. I don’t know. But then, quite often, you will be prompted to check out a few of the Dead’s live shows. You hear everywhere that their studio albums just aren’t the same thing. Even if American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead are beautiful albums. And so you start off to find concerts. And here’s where things can go one of two ways. You could either not like their live shows and decide to stick with the albums. This is all right, I suppose. It’s one facet of the Dead and to each his own. But the other way… that way lies rapture.

This is the highway with rainbows at the end, where ocean breezes blow. This is the cornucopia that awaits you. This is when you get the sinking feeling that you should have started a long time ago. This is when you wonder if you’ll manage to listen to all the recorded material available if you listen to nothing else. This is when you start talking in terms of dates and transitions. This is when you debate if 5/8/77’s Scarlet Fire is really overrated or just overexposed. (There are better versions of Scarlet Fire, no doubt. But this one is damn smooth. And Phil’s bass!) You feverishly devour every thing you can find about the Dead and their music. And you post links everywhere and try to play their songs everywhere. You try to get your friends to appreciate this phenomenon. You basically become that annoying person who insists on playing a twenty-six minute track at parties — if they’re lucky.

I suppose after this stage comes a cooling down, where you manage to listen to other bands and music for extended periods of time. Where you’re able to contain your enthusiasm amongst other people. Where you limit yourself to internet fora and sites. I don’t know. I’m still at the previous stage.

I should point out that I’m talking completely out of my hat. I’m merely taking what happened to me and turning it into a post. Why am I doing it? Well, because I wanted to post a bunch of Grateful Dead links and this seemed a good way to do it. Maybe this way more people will get into the Dead. And I really want to talk about the Dead with people. Their songs are brilliantly meaningful while elliptic (A lot of the credit should go to Hunter and Barlow for this) and the music is, at their best, transcendental. I’m hoping all my friends will read this, click on the links and, by some mysterious alchemy, become as fevered as I am. There’s so much to listen to!

Also, if I happen to be at the same party as you, I’ll crave your indulgence for twenty-six minutes.

Dilliwalleh! Dilliwalleh!

I’ve been in Delhi for more than a year now. If I were asked to name the first three words that came to my mind when asked to describe this city, they would be: haze, dust, and harsh. Harsh. That’s the word I use the most for this city. It’s harsh.

This city has its good spots. This city exudes history. You can’t help but be impressed when you see the Red Fort or Jama Masjid. The Lodhi Gardens are insanely beautiful and the tombs there are lovely. You can feel the gulf of years and you wonder about the man lying under the grave. You wonder if Iltutmish ever thought he’d have school children clamber up on his tomb and take stupidly posed photographs for their social media display photos. That must have made for an interesting nightmare. When I went to the Red Fort, I kept wondering what it must have been like at the height of its glory. Right now it’s a carcass. But back when the Diwan-i-khas still had its silver roof, the rooms were richly adorned and the Yamuna was not a drain, it must have been an imposing sight. Ozymandias indeed.

Yet the city is harsh. It’s harsh in the way it treats people. It’s harsh in the way people treat each other. Its climate is harsh and it’s harsh in the way people treat it.

I don’t really like the city. I live here because I have to. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t. But it’s the place to find gainful employment in the field I pursue. So here I am. But the city and I are not friends. We tolerate each other. I don’t like that it’s spread out so much and I don’t like how everything is so insanely spread out. I don’t like it that it is not really pedestrian friendly. I dislike the fact that primacy is given to vehicles. I don’t like the fact that public transport is so erratic. The metro is good but it’s not always convenient and the buses are a pain to figure out. I have no idea which bus goes where and, even if I did, their frequency does not inspire confidence. And I’m not a fan of catching autos. Walking in this city is not usually feasible. I like walking. I like going about a place on foot, enjoying the sights, stopping to look at something more closely or just listening to music and walking about. I like the pace of walking. I like the swing of walking. I like the feel of the earth under my feet. And I like walking because it lets me discover new ways and nooks and crannies. But this city is not conducive to walking. Unless you do it in spaces set aside for that purpose. Then it’s brilliant. But I don’t walk for my health. I walk to walk. And there this city does not help.

I dislike the way people are quick to pick a fight here. And I dislike the fact that I’m also becoming quick-tempered. This city covers you in a patina of anger and frustration and you lash out at small things to ease yourself. I can see it happening to me and I don’t like it. Maybe it’s the climate but small things can escalate quickly here and everybody feels they’re the one wronged. Which, a moment’s thought will tell you, is scarcely credible. But there it is.

I don’t like the way people push and try to get ahead all the time here. Be it an auto or a shop, they have to run and get ahead. I can’t understand it. What are you going to achieve by running around everywhere? Do you think it makes you look busy and efficient? Do you think it makes you look important? I’m bewildered by this urge to get ahead of everyone. It’s especially annoying when it happens at the Metro. Just stand in a fucking queue already! Why do you want to sit so badly? This is especially annoying when everybody is already standing in line and some asshole will deliberately try to cut ahead. More than anything else, it clogs the door and then people are pushing from both ends. Why must you push? What do you think is going to happen when you push? As a result, I now keep my elbows out and bang such people with my shoulders and shove them with my forearm. See what I mean about patina of anger and frustration?

This also happens on the streets. If the traffic slows down, invariably some idiot will decide to get into the opposite lane and try to get ahead. This, of course, causes the opposite lane to clog up and so people in that lane get into the opposite lane and now both lanes are clogged and people are yelling and everybody is blowing their horn. I’m not sure what they think will happen if they blow their horns. Do they think their horn is some magical device which will melt the traffic in front of them with magic? The only reason more people don’t die is because you can’t go quickly enough to kill anyone.

I also don’t like most people I see. I want to punch most of them in the face. Or at least yell at them and jump on their faces with jackboots on. I’m not sure what jackboots are but their primary purpose seems to treading down on the downtrodden. So they can surely be used for crushing faces. I don’t like the fact that people here either don’t or can’t parallel park. I don’t like how they think once they’ve parked their car it’s not their problem that the road is now almost impassable and as far as they’re concerned their car is parked perfectly and no one better ding it. These are the people whom I wish to shoot with a shotgun. In the face. I am not a cheery soul.

This city and I are not at war. But this city and I are not in love.

But I like some facets of this city. I like that it lets people from everywhere live here. People become Delhiites. You live here for any amount of time and you reach an uneasy truce with the city. You agree to look at the best bits about each other and to sweep the problems under the carpet. I don’t want to become one but I fear I might. Or I might be able to some day point at a Delhiite and say “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

This too shall pass.

It’s two minutes to midnight of the second day of the new year. Happy New Year! Or at least, New Year! It’s apparently a big deal. It doesn’t matter! Unless you committed a crime some time ago and the statute of limitations is about to run out. In which case, Congratulations! You will soon be an innocent man again. Or a man who cannot be prosecuted. Which, now that I think about it, is actually better. Innocence is no guarantee of freedom from prosecution. And on that note, let me tell you that I am listening to country and western. That information is of no consequence and is entirely unrelated to anything I’ve said so far. But this is the information age and knowledge is power and power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and we thought we were so clever in high school when we combined those two quotes to say knowledge corrupts. But then again, lots of loonies say the same thing. I’m not sure if that proves that we were crackpots in high school or that crackpots never left the high school phase.

I’ve been having a swimming holiday. By which I do not mean that it’s a holiday in which I went swimming. I haven’t been swimming in donkey’s years now. Apparently, donkey’s years has its origins in rhyming slang; it being originally donkey ears as a slang for years. How times change. Happy New Donkey Ears! Which might be a delicacy is some part of the world. I wonder if donkey meat tastes good. Horse meat apparently is good. We have the evidence of many parts of the world for that statement. Notice how I’m rambling on. I’ve decided that is going to be my shtick from now on. I am going to adopt an easy, rambling conversational style till I come up with something better. And once I come up with something better, I will finally write that book about time travel that I’ve been meaning to for the past five years. Will anybody even read this far into the post to know that I have an idea for a book? And having read this far, will they try to steal that idea from me? This is the information age and knowledge is power and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and I’ve repeated myself and this repetition is also a part of my new style since I used this technique in a previous post of mine but I won’t tell you which so go read them all! There aren’t too many. There isn’t too much punctuation either apparently. I don’t know why. I usually like punctuation.

In the days since I got on the train to come home, I have had a fight with two different people– a verbal battle, I hasten to point out. Both ended in a draw, although in the first one, they were scared of me for the rest of the journey, so yay? I definitely terrorized their kid into staying still in his seat though, so definitely yay! As you might have guessed, I’m not a fan of kids.

I met friends after a long time. Everybody’s changed. We’re all growing old. Everybody’s accepting that it’s way more important to hang out with people you’re friends with than with everybody you know. Of course, they’re too polite to put that into action. And none of them will be reading this far down the post anyway. But yes, they’re too scared of society’s condemnation to challenge it. They will be culled when I become Evil Overlord. Or kept for my personal amusement. Or made pawns in my schemes. That last one was an inside reference to one of the few people who read this blog. Now the rest of you are feeling alienated and muttering about being loyal consumers of content and deserving more attention and look at me! Don’t worry, I won’t charge you using your prefered payment method. That’s only for ice-cream. Although ice-cream is now too expensive for your payment method to work. That was also an inside joke. And that’s how sitcoms work. Inside references and jokes until continuity lock happens and you have to watch it all to keep up. This is the Arrested Development of blog posts.

I had a point when I began this post. Now it’s lost. Like the little list with your hopes and dreams on it. Now you’re just a hollow husk, earning cash for the Man Person, trying to add some colour to your life by doing things that you think are fun and make you look like you have a life. But you know it’s all pretense. You’re only doing this so that the people you talk to become envious and then you feel a little better about yourself. You need to put others down because you can only rise by stepping on their shattered dreams and ambitions. You’ve accepted the dominant paradigm of this world. And now you’re wondering what the dominant paradigm of the world is. And now you’re coming to the slow realisation that that sentence was a load of poppycock. And now you’re leaving in a huff and I’m feeling superior to you and, according to the dominant paradigm, I’m three and two-fourth gronks ahead of you and you owe me beer. Fun fact: Dominant Paradigm is a fun thing to slip into conversation. Try it some time.

There is a certain beauty in incoherence. At certain points, it morphs into this subtle, organic mirror of life. Of course, that previous sentence was bull. Which proves that there is no beauty in my incoherence. I’m just incoherent for the sake of being incoherent. Punk Incoherence! Incoherent Punk! Dibs on the band name.

Famous people died last year. Not that my saying anything about it is of any use. But recent wikipedia lists of the deaths in a year make for depressing reading. And now that I’ve said that, people are going to be reading wikipedia like crazy. If not in this universe, then in another. That’s the fun thing about believing in many universes. It’s a consolation. It’s better than dreams, yet not real. Transient, ephemeral, subtle. I just said three random words. You guessed I was saying that so you didn’t even read the previous sentence.

I read a fair bit last year. I read a lot of non-fiction last year. It felt good. But I also read fiction. I’ve started thinking about everything I read. I’m not sure if that’s a sign of age or a sign of being annoying. I’m only blogging because you asked me if I still did.

Fun! Fun! Fun!

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There is a profound title here

Life still goes on. I have not died. It gets increasingly difficult to write about yourself when each day is basically the same. There’s only so many things you can say when the highlight of your day is “Got stiffed by auto driver today. The bastard said he had no change, when I could clearly see the five bucks mocking me from his change sack. He knew I was in a hurry!” While it is full of human interest and the struggle of the everyday man and other such engrossing topics, themes that have made for great, extremely powerful and depressing literature, I am not capable of turning it into a twenty-thousand word novel. If you write a twenty-thousand word novel, I am capable of turning whatever slush you present into something publishable. I won’t be credited with it unless you are a very nice person. And let’s face it. you’re writing a novel about the fraility of life and the wretchedness of human existence. You are probably the worst melancholic who ever lived. Your friends probably go “Oh shit! There’s old Maurice again. He’s going to start on about poor coal miners slouched in their little tin shacks, with their fifteen children on account of the long dark nights and the four-thirty milk train, their old mother dying of consumption and their wife trying to make a meal out of last week’s bran mash and a rotten potato.” But you don’t have friends. You have a collection of people who avoid you but still hang on on the off chance that you might actually become famous someday. Or notorious. It’s the same thing. But my life is not like a coal miner’s, so you ignore me royally. Except to cadge drinks off me. You drunk oaf.

I have crossed the kala pani. However considering everything else that I’ve done, it’s a bit down on the list. Having spent two weeks in jolly old England, I can say it’s not too bad a place for a visit. I was lucky to get good weather generally, so walking about was a lot of fun. But I did see the typical English weather of rain-sun-gloom-sun-“oh look! It’s raining again.” It’s quite picturesque and the people seem to be fairly polite usually. But I was in a nice area so I cannot generalize. There’s not much to see in Harlow, but it does have its fair share of really lovely architechture. And it seems nicely preserved. I am also in love with the National Gallery. It houses a remarkable collection of art, it’s excellently curated, it’s not too crowded and it’s free. I have no idea how they managed that. I can say I have seen a Da Vinci in real life and the man did know his shit. But my favourite rooms were the Dutch rooms and the ones featuring the Academy.

One thing I can say from my interactions is that drunk English men love Indians. No seriously! I was told by different drunken men that they love India. One of them also thought that I needed to resolve Kashmir. Not Indians in general, me in particular. His solution to the problem was that India keeps fifty percent of Kashmir, Pakistan keeps thirty percent and China gets twenty percent. I am not sure why he felt China should get twenty percent, or why he thought the people actually living there would be cool with their land getting divided up like a pizza. I am also not sure why he thought I had any ability to effect such a change. He clearly attributes great powers to people working in publishing even if we don’t do so ourselves. His (also drunk) friends spotted him talking to me and came over. When they asked me why I was there, drunk man one said I was going to resolve Kashmir. I am overwhelmed by your faith in me, random drunk man, but I fear it is a responsibilty which is too onerous for me.

Another drunk guy told me he loved India, after he literally crawled up the stairs of a bierkeller. I first saw a mug, then a hand, then a drunk mug. The guy also kept insisting that he wasn’t an angry man. I am not sure why he felt the need to repeat that. But I have extended an open invitation to him to visit India. I hope he does. He apparently loves the community more than Indians themselves do.

I have also struck up a conversation with a random man in the hotel’s bar. This man was apparently a writer and he contributed on the Star Wars novels. I had an extremely interesting conversation with him about the franchise. He was also a Darth Maul and Kyle Katarn fan, so we got on well. He stood me two rounds of single-malt scotch. I did not know people actually did that. But he had already had a couple of rounds before that, so his generosity was quite possibly borne out of alcohol. Also he told me that all whiskys starting with “Glen” are single-malts. I wish to verify this claim.

There was a visit to the printers. They were located near Portsmouth so I got to see a bit of the sea too. I also saw a huge-ass digital printer, and by God was it impressive. It was a web press, so it basically went from web of paper to printed and folded book-block in a remarkably short time. And it was fairly good quality too. Full four colours! There was a little bit where it turned the sheet of paper at a ninety degree angle to fold it along the spine and it totally blew my mind!

Cambride is also lovely. St. John’s Chapel was astoundingly pretty and I really enjoyed walking around the river Cam. I did not go punting though. I have never tried it before and it does not look like something to attempt on one’s own. I also saw Trinity College, so I can say that I have been to Trinity College, if only technicallly.

As you can see, I’ve done a lot on this trip. I also missed my return flight and had to re-book it. So I’ve even covered that part of air travel. You become acutely aware of the flexibility of the human body when you attempt to sleep on a departure lounge bench that has fixed armrests. However the ancient hunter-gatherer instinct soon kicked in and I went scouting around. Protip: If you’re ever stranded in Heathrow T4, there’s a bench on the first floor next to the charging point near the Yotel (It’s not a spelling error. It’s actually called that.) which has no armrests. The airport has wi-fi but it’s a Boingo hotspot which you have to pay for. However the spot next to the Yotel, in addition to a charging point and a bench without armrests also lets you connect to the Yotel’s wi-fi. This only has a “I accept the terms and conditions” screen, so it’s basically free. There are also toilets nearby and a cafe. Use the lifts next to zone E to get there. The other lifts only lead to offices on the first floor. You’re welcome.

I had a decent enought journey. Delhi, seen from the sky at night, is slightly surreal. It reminded me alternately of a circuit board and a Sci-fi world. There are bits where only the street lights shone through gaps in the houses, probably because they were built very closely. But they looked like a futiristic city like in Caves of Steel. I’m not sure where but some three or four hours from Delhi, I saw a really beautiful bit of lit-up land. Flying over England and Europe by day is also not something to be sneered at, but the features are so regular it’s a bit scary. The farms and places are so geometrical, it’s a bit disconcerting. However, watching tiny cars go around roundabouts is a lot of fun. It looks like the early GTAs, to be honest.

Well, that’s about it for now. I leave you with this little bit of information. In the Wodehouse novel Summer Lightning, Gally asks Lord Emsworth when a particular incident occurred. The incident in question was Gregory Parsloe stealing Lord Burper’s false teeth and pawning them at a shop in the Edgware Road. I am pleased to report that there is actually a pawnshop on Edgware Road. Robertson’s Pawnbrokers is located at 199 Edgware Road and, according to the sign on their shop, was established in 1759. Given that Parsloe pawned the teeth sometime around 1896, it could quite concievably be the same shop. You are welcome.

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Delhi days.

I have a job. I’ve had it since November. It’s in Delhi. If someone asks me what I’m doing I’ll say “I make books.” I don’t say that actually. But I think I will. My work is fine, the team is cool but enough about work. Let’s talk about life.

I’m finally living on my own. I live in a cave. Well, not really but the place has no windows. It’s a timeless zone. There’s no way of knowing if it’s eight in the morning or eight at night.It’s not like it has no ventilation. It has plenty of ventilation, provided by two exhaust shafts. The door in second room, which I figured was a closet, was actually the door to one of the exhaust shafts. At least I have an escape route when the KGB agents come to assassinate me.

I’ve become used to moving. Now I know what I’ll be needing. I picked up the keys and then went around buying everything I needed. Mattresses, a refrigerator, an induction cooker, vessels, plates, glasses, spices, the works.

Christmas and New Year’s were kinda fun.

I can now cook decently. I can make bread omelette at four in the morning. The feeling of accomplishment is completely out of proportion to the act.

Delhi is cold but I have not gotten hypothermia yet.


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I’m bad,I’m nationwide.

I’m blogging after a long time. There’s just so much happening that writing about it has been the last thing on my mind. No, let me correct myself. Writing about it hasn’t even entered my mind. In fact, I’m going to skip writing about it. As regular readers of my blog will be aware, I seldom talk about events of a personal nature, and I’m not going to start now. Suffice to say, my beard has been sacrificed for a greater cause. It may be back, but I doubt it. I have a huge can of shaving foam and I need to use it before 2015. Assuming the world doesn’t end in a few months, of course.

Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews Band and ZZ Top have all released albums this month. Leonard Cohen, The Black Keys and Jack White released albums earlier this year. Musically, this has been a brilliant year. I’ve been listening to a lot of music. My musical tastes have also expanded. I have discovered new bands, thanks to Woman in life. The xx are of special interest.

I’ve been working at the School of Cultural Texts and Records since August 16th. It’s a project to transcribe and encode the manuscript of Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native. I now have a fairly good idea of the TEI guidelines for encoding. I might become a statistic again after October though, unless other things come through. Good wishes are not enough. I shall find something else. I am now in a productive cycle.

I have started programming in my spare time again. I’ve started solving Project Euler’s problems again. It is such a kick when you enter an answer and see that it’s the correct one.

I’ve also been using stumbleupon a lot again. Some things are nice. Others not so much. I must say, It throws up shit more often than not.

I had fever last week. From the Friday before last, to be precise, till Wednesday. I went to a doctor in Calcutta. He advised me to get tested for Dengue and Malaria, even though I had none of the clinical symptoms for either disease. I did not get the tests done because they’d cost Rs.2500/- if I got it done there and I didn’t want to go about looking for a better pathology lab. So I came home, went to my regular doctor who told me I had pharyngitis, gave me medicines, told me my pharynx was visibly inflamed and I got better. The other doctor was clearly a money-grubbing idiot.

I’m thinking I’ll quit smoking. It has not been enjoyable of late, and there seems little reason to smoke if it is not enjoyable. Also, my throat has been hurting of late and quitting smoking seems like step one. I promise nothing but I think I’ll quit.

There seems nothing much to say. Hello, world!

Posted in Myself. 5 Comments »

Just keep trucking on.

One of the distractions when travelling on the highway is counting the wheels on the trucks you pass. I’ve always found this activity very pleasing. I think it stems from childhood efforts to see a truck with many wheels. The excitement engendered by one of these many-wheeled freaks was tremendous and I still feel happy when I see a truck with more than six wheels. One thing I’ve noticed is that there are a lot more of these trucks to be seen. When I was a kid, trucks were usually only six-wheelers, hence the excitement of spotting a truck with more than that number. Nowadays, most trucks on the highway seem to have ten wheels regularly. And there seem to be a larger number of container trucks, thus there are a greater number of fourteen and eighteen wheelers. But don’t think that lessens my excitement by any significant degree. If anything, it plunges me into a reverie and I emerge to write a blogpost about truck wheels.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to more serious, more philosophical, more subtle topics. I am now unemployed. The government’s unemployment statistics have risen by one, or at least they would have if they weren’t calculated as a percentage. You don’t have to stare up at the sky to feel insignificant. You can just think that your unemployment will not move that figure up by much to realize that you are but one among millions. Of course, you have better skills or at least that’s what you tell yourself. For all you know, you’re one of those people who ensure that a company will be successful if you’re on the payroll of their competitor. I’m not saying you are, I’m just saying you might be. Of course, the silver lining here is that your employers won’t know you’re like this until you join them. You might become a pawn in some middle-level manager’s scheme to expand his corporate empire and thus will become a highly valued part of the company when he eventually succeeds. As you can tell, unemployment weighs heavily on my mind.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to more serious, more philosophical, more subtle topics. It’s raining here. Finally! The weather is cool, with a pleasant breeze blowing and a measurable drop in the temperature. It’s on evenings like this that bad decisions are taken and people end up settling for second-best. The heat and humidity that people curse might make people short-tempered and irritable but they also clear the brain and prevent you from doing anything foolhardy. This pleasant weather, on the other hand, is a sneaky bastard. It’ll lead you places you wouldn’t want to go otherwise, and before you know it, you’re screwed. Which might not be altogether unpleasant, but you’ll regret it all the same. Read the weather report, not the horoscope.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to more serious, more philosophical, more subtle topics. Music is a beautiful thing. The internet has made discovering some kinds of music so easy, the excess of choice is almost paralyzing. I could off-hand name at least three artists I’d never have found out about if it weren’t for the internet. These are artists I’d gladly support, but I wish they’d play a few concerts here. I’m not saying I’d go to these — they might be hideously exorbitant — but I’m sure that my tastes aren’t so esoteric that their concerts would be a total failure. It seems like a legitimate hope.

In other news, I’m trying to read three different books at the same time while rereading a fourth. The three books would be Tom Robbins’s Still Life with Woodpecker, Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke and Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book. The Big Sleep is the one being reread. I think I’ll prioritize the Pamuk. It’s a library book and comes with a return date. The rest are mine and are here to stay unless they get whacked, lent out, misplaced or just rendered unreadable through acts of God. Tom Robbins is my discovery of the year. I picked up a book by him at the book fair because it had a catchy title — Wild Ducks Flying Backwards — and it was written in an appealing style. It was also relatively cheap and consisted of his short writings. I bought it because the first page I opened was a paean to kissing. The next was a tribute to The Doors. It was only after I bought it that I discovered that the volume also contained a tribute to Leonard Cohen. Robbins has an interesting style and his use of language is impressive. Choke was also bought at the book fair but it’s been part of the ‘to-read’ pile since then, mainly because I’ve been reading other books and doing other stuff. It’s also a highly enjoyable read and I’d like to read it with as few interruptions as possible.

I have tidings of greater import. The mess is gone, given up. I now have no abode in Calcutta except those provided by kind friends. This might change if at some point I find a source of gainful employment in that city but for the time being, it’s just another city that I used to know.

Call me maybe?


Oh! You did? Listen to better music, man.