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.

Blogpost!

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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!

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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?

Identify!

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

It’s over, isn’t it?

I wrote a post when I finished my undergraduate days. Back then, it was one of many written by other people who were also graduating. Now we’re done with being post-graduates, but not one of those lazy bastards has written anything. It’s enough to drive you to the bottle. Maybe I should drive them to the bottle, plonk them in front of a computer and make them write, under pain of listening to me sing.

I must say, it’s been fun — five full years of it. I’ve met many interesting people. I’ve become friends with even more interesting people. And some people I can’t imagine how I did without them. Whom did I insult and poke fun at before?!? Now, now. Those guys I did that to before need not take offense. It’s just that these people are easier to bait. You were expecting glowing praise and heartfelt compliments? Do you not know me at all?

I can’t say that I’ve learnt a great deal about the canon of English literature. It might be fairer to say that I’ve acquired a smattering of knowledge that allows me to bluster my way through my exams. I’m mighty grateful none of my professors read this blog, because I still have to give my final exams. If they catch on to my tricks, then they might examine my answers more critically. However, it might also be that they’ll realize that while my answers might be a bit short on theory and other such things, it certainly won’t be short on reasoning, analysis and my own opinions. I think that’s the best thing I’ve learnt during these five years. See how I managed to praise myself and my university and professors at the same time? Show me where else you could learn to do that? I’m sorry, what was that? Of course I’ll accept your apologies for being unable to find anything similar. It’s all right.

It’s been a fairly smooth ride, with the occasional bumps of crazy, and the rare pothole. I don’t think I’ll be forgetting the crazy bits anytime soon. I’ve acquired enough stories to fill a bookshelf. All right, that might be an exaggeration. But I could certainly write a three-volume novel. In fact, I think everyone of us could write a three-volume novel. Between us, we could definitely fill a bookshelf. And it would be one of the most entertaining bookshelves in history. All right, maybe those war years would be full of excitement and distress. The sixties might be full of cultural significance. But then, I’m not going to go into full-blown nostalgia mode when I read books from those shelves.

It’s slightly scary that I’ll soon have to start working. I need a job for that first though. At the moment of going to press, I have no job or offers, except maybe the faintest hope of one. In case you know of any, drop me a line. I don’t have to work of course. I could do an M.Phil, another M.A., some other degree, or just be an unemployed layabout. But I’d rather work. I’ve studied enough. It’s time to put these skills to the test. While procrastination might be the more comfortable option, it’s not an option I wish to take anymore. I don’t think the skills will be the problem. It’s just the whole idea of actually being employed full-time. It’s hard to get my head around the concept. I’ll have to accept that I’ve grown up. What’ll be next? Old age? Death? Snakes and shotguns?!? Get off my fucking lawn!

Employment is scary. I’ll be responsible for my mistakes and they’ll have greater consequences than just lesser marks on a test. Or will they? Maybe I’ll just be a Wally — drinking coffee, shirking responsibility and making sarcastic comments about all my co-workers. I doubt that though. Well, maybe not the coffee. I’ve worked on enough projects to know that I’ll always pull my weight. I wonder if that expression arose from the galleys? But I can’t do half-assed jobs on projects and stuff. It’s like an itch that has to be scratched.

It’s also hard to imagine forming a new routine, one that’s different from the “Get up, get ready, go to campus, spend all day engaged in various activities, return or go to friend’s house, rinse, repeat.” Going to the campus has become almost second nature. I don’t even register details on my way to the campus anymore. My feet just automatically complete the journey, kinda like cruise control. It’s not as if the campus hasn’t changed. I know fewer people there now. But soon, I’ll know even fewer people. Eventually, I’ll know almost no one. I’ll be one of those who come by, look around aimlessly and then head out again. I might run into some of those who become campus institutions. The ones who become one of the sights on campus and join the league of dhop’er chop and the KMR. They will be the only ones I’ll know. And then I’ll kill time by talking about pointless things. Even now, I kill time by talking about pointless things, but at least the ones I do it with are people with whom it’s fun. There, you happy? I complimented you. Now will you stop with the waterboarding? Seriously!

It’s now that I think we have it both the best and the worst when it comes to staying in touch. On one hand, we have such methods like social networking, text messages, cheap call rates and other such methods of staying in touch with the minimum amount of effort. Unfortunately, all this ease also makes it all too easy to take people for granted. You start off thinking “Hmm. Haven’t talked to X in a long time. Must catch up soon. Oh well, there’s always or maybe I’lll just text. Eh! I’ll do it tomorrow. It’ll only take a minute.” and before you know it months have elapsed and you find that X’s life is not all that interesting now that the principal characters are all unknown to you. I intend to remedy this by making sure that I become a recluse. This way I’ll have no principal characters and you buggers will have to be interested in my life. See what all I plan to endure for you people? Where’s my money, bitches?!?

Of course, it is more than likely that the people I want to stay in touch with — notice how that expression makes it possible to avoid naming anybody, thus making everybody think they’re included. Learn this skill. It’s very useful — will be in the same place that I am. That would mean that I don’t have to be a recluse. It would also mean that wherever I am will witness periodic acts of lunacy. Or at least occasional drunken misdemeanours. And no, I’m not telling you about any drunken misdemeanours. Do you even know what a misdemeanour is? Oh wait, you do? Well, jolly sucks to you, I’m not telling you.

I’m already over a thousand words in and I haven’t said a single thing of relevance or interest. Just shows what happens when you force someone to write a farewell post. There’s so much to say that you end up not saying anything. Having mastered the art of writing absolutely inane stuff, I can write a long post and still be completely inane and pointless. That’s a highly useful skill. Learn it.

I’ve seen quite a few changes around me, none more so in the people. Now that I’ve acquired the interest of those who’ve stuck around till this point, let me disappoint you by saying that in the main, they’ve been changes for the better. The ones who’ve changed for the worse aren’t worth the effort, as a great man would say. I’m not sure if any great man ever said this, but it sounds like something great men would say. Actually it sounds more like something some American would make a photoshopped motivational image out of. But who is to say they won’t be great. Everyone has to start somewhere. The ones who’ve changed for the better have become funnier, nicer, and other adjectives, some of which are unsuitable for a family-friendly blog such as mine. Fuck you all! Cursing is an integral part of the family but adjectives are not. That is an important lesson. Learn it.

As you might have noticed, this post has been almost entirely about me. It’s because I can’t presume to write about other people. They’re inscrutable and I have no idea what they’re thinking. Except when they insult me. Then they’re very vocal about their opinions. And they’re uniformly unflattering and hence they have been rejected as possible candidates for inclusion in this post. If you wish to be famous by appearing on this blog, start saying nice things about me and my various skills. The best compliment wins a mention on this blog. The contest closes when I die. So you have time to come up with something that really captures the brilliant piece of your life that is me. Put your thinking caps on! But finish reading this post first.

In fact, I have very little else to say. I really only wrote this so that other people might be shamed into writing theirs. I mean, when the least articulate amongst you writes a 1500+ word post, you can surely do better! And remember to make it juicy, salacious, bitchy, scandalous and full of gossip that I never knew. Remember, I’ll be reading each and every one of your posts so I’ll need to have a lot of the dirt if my attention is not to go a-wandering.

Also, am I not a brilliant ray of sunshine?

Soap in the water, lather in my eyes

You know what the problem is with resolutions? You feel more and more foolish the longer you stick to them. All resolutions imply a denial of some sorts. You might argue that a resolution to exercise more helps you gain health. You don’t gain health when you exercise. Health is merely the denial of sickness. When you exercise you put millions of hard-working bacteria and virii, not to mention a bunch of protozoans and fungi, out of business. Their economies go into a tailspin and they have to resort to strange tactics to recover. Be thankful they haven’t started an ‘Occupy healthy people’ or a “We’re the 99.99%” movement. Notice how my attempts to write a serious piece about the problems of keeping resolutions petered out into the usual snide asides and topical references. Actually I don’t have much of either so unless I can come up with something quickly, this post is going to run into a dead end. The word count won’t look too good when it says One sixty nine. Incidentally when I wrote one sixty nine, it became one seventy. I find that amusing.

But to return to the problem of resolutions, each resolution implies denial. People don’t make resolutions about gaining weight or smoking more. Hedonism and resolutions seem to be at odds. Each day you stick to your resolution only makes it a bit harder. You start to wonder if you aren’t missing out on something by denying yourself. That cake looked mighty alluring the last time you looked at it, didn’t it? Or if cake is not your poison of choice, though it’s hard to believe that such people exist, then whatever item you’ve resolved to stay away from sure looks like a good time now, eh? I’m betting even that extra poundage you resolved to stay away from seems like a nice idea now, what with all the cold, famine, drought, hangovers, inflation, depression and assorted privations that your denial has brought upon you.

Admit it. You feel like a damn fool for being so headstrong and sticking to your resolutions.Everyone else has kicked back and broken the shackles and look where they are. Shopping for XXL clothing and drinking themselves into a coma, that’s where they are. You, on the other hand, are reading my blog. I’m not complaining. Misfits and freaks like you are my target audience. Always write for people like you. You know just what they want. On a related note, most of the world are normal idiots. How else does one explain so many things that go against the freaks and misfits? Our freakishness and misfitness aside, we’re normal idiots too. It’s just that we have this aura of being on the borderline between normalcy and full-blown lunacy. Choose a side, freaks! Choose lunacy. Lunacy has its roots in the moon. And the moon will soon be the place to be. We already have a head start. We’re on the borderline. I’m afraid the loonies have all the prime real estate in their control. I don’t intend to argue with them. They say such random stuff I’m worried it’ll turn me normal.

And again I veer off a serious note and choose to wander into a cul-de-sac of nonsense. It could have been a lane or a shortcut but it had to be a cul-de-sac. Stop being so noble and living by your own codes. Go ahead. Break all your resolutions. Stop denying yourself the good things in life. Be safe, sane and consensual. Don’t google that last line. I told you not to. Now you’re on a wikipedia roller-coaster all through Risk Aware Consensual Kink straight through to the second moment of area of concrete girders. And it’s been more than an hour since you were here. I had to remotely alter your consciousness and tap into the collective will to change the rotation of the earth to match your computer’s system clock. That last line was a complete crock of shit. But it sounded like a cool thing to say at that time. In three days, I shall break my resolutions. Don’t be scared. I would never do that. I’m one of you guys. We’re all the same. You can read me as well as I can read you. Although it looks like all you consist of is irrelevant trivia, a motley collection of skills and constant denial. What reality do you live in? Choose my reality. In my reality, things happen as I expected them to. One way of doing that is to expect everything. Life, being the bitch that she is, will then do the one thing you had not expected. But since you expected her to do that, it’s happening as expected. Try to wrap your head around that concept. It’s not too hard. It’s harder to wrap flat bread around shredded chicken. I’d advise you to try it. Add condiments, some vegetables, some sweat and grime and it still won’t taste as good as the meanest roll from a corner shop.

As you can see, my mind is a lumber yard. Things wanted, always buried. Gandalf said something similar about Old Butterbur. Now I don’t claim to be Gandalf. My beard is nowhere as bitching as his is. Mine merely whines and complains every once in a while. Also, any stick I whirl and twirl merely flies out of my hand and, more often than not, whacks some innocent bystander who immediately morphs into a balrog and tries to slay me. I made up that last bit also. I am not in the habit of whirling and twirling sticks in public. I merely do it in the privacy of my own home. I’m not deemed important enough to spy on. Damn Newton!

Why Newton? Why not?

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Stephenie Meyer, Seriously?!?

There is a site called I Write Like.

So far it’s told me that I write like Cory Doctorow, William Gibson, Daniel Defoe , Lewis Carroll, Arthur Clarke, William Shakespeare, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Douglas Adams, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Stephenie Meyer, David Foster Wallace and James Fenimore Cooper.

The only connection seems to be that they all wrote in English. I’m now pretty sure the buggers just draw up a random name.

I have broken it! My God!

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Double-decker joy.

Heh heh. I came back by a double-decker train this time. It is the very much fun. Although it only has a/c chair cars and hence is slightly expensive. Also the only food items available on the train are chips, biscuits, frooti and water. Comes of not having a pantry car. But since it only takes two and a half-hours to get to Durgapur, I’m not complaining. Also it is damn fun to sit on(in?) the upper deck and watch the platform. The lower deck is also fun. As you can tell, I sampled the window seats of both decks.

In other news, I have to report that Ubuntu is not invulnerable and does break. I believe I managed to break it by trying to download through WINE which screwed up my drivers. Ah well. I’ve done a clean install of Ubuntu 11.10. I’m quite liking the new Unity interface. It reminds me a lot of the OSX UI.

In even more news, I re-read the entire Harry Potter series in reverse order in these past few days and have come to the following conclusions. The last three books are not that bad. In fact, in book five, there’s a line which only makes sense if you’ve read book seven. And even then it’s not a hugely striking line and the real explanation is only evident if you make the connection. I have to admit, my respect for that woman has increased.

In even more news, I have to write a term paper in the next 48 hours. Life is soon going to get interesting.

Also, I just realised that over the years, by buying all those tech magazines, I have accumulated 98 CDs and 33 DVDs. It is a slightly scary thought that there will be people who will have even more.

Boo!