November 30, 2002

Anniversaries

I am not someone who reads the stuff I had written a while back from the archives, but thanks to the strange ways of Blogger I was forced to to republish them yesterday. One thing led to another and since I was at it anyway, I switched to the monthly archive format and while checking the page depth started reading it in bits and parts. Soon I was reading the major portions of the early posts. I had written before that I hate the month of December [strange, I love winters but hate December] and reading the early posts gave me a very scary feeling. I simply do not like December. Period.

The first instalment of the scares start in December 2000. I still do not have a very concrete idea about what I was trying to prove by what I did then, but all I remember is that I could not really stand to see her hurting so much in something that had no future at all. In a way it was comical, because I was sitting there trying to convince her to call off something that meant nothing short of my life to me. Everything I was clinging onto at that time was defined by it and the trouble was I managed to sell the concept only too well. So well that, I spent a good part of the next three months as an oblivious passenger on the carriage called as life led by a very vague routine and wondering what the hell had hit me.

This actually happened after another major loss. The thing is, I rarely ask. In fact I can even tell you the single digit figure that would represent the number of times that I have asked for something. No, it is not the same as wanting something. That is different. And I hate asking for things that I would never get. Coming back to the loss, it was my first bike and it was stolen. It was one of the things that I had asked for and in keeping with the flavour of the season I lost that first and then the next thing that I asked for, a thing in which I could believe in unquestionably and unconditionally.

Both still haunt me a lot, for they are cases where there has been no clean cut disengagement. Practicality demands that you forget the loss and for sanity's sake you pretend that you accept it, but it all lives on somewhere else and you can't help wishing every now and then that it was all a bad dream and things would be back to where it was then. Well, not really. It is something like the retired army men. To make the present bearable, they dwell endlessly on past glory and this is just a civilian interpretation of it.

Come December 2001 and like Santa I have worn the misery suit again. Against all of my own spectacular warnings and prophecies I dared to ask for something and did not get it. It was not so much that I did not get it that was causing the problem, it was the fact that I wanted to have it that bugged me to no end. I was so mad with myself then that I wanted to kick myself all over just till the point where it would kill me so that I would not forget the lesson for the rest of my life. Well, the way I took it out on myself was not all that brutal, but it was brutal enough, the distressing details of which we shall not go into now. The significant bit is that what was meant to be a private show for myself was rudely interrupted by a bunch of my closest friends who figured out that I was up to no good. Armageddon followed.

The end result was around 8 hours of time wiped out from my memory and something that can only be mildly termed as a colossal public relations catastrophe. Most of what I know about what really happened is through hearsay. So officially I welcome 2002 in with a smashing hangover and an empty, screaming stomach at six in the morning, famished and walking in silence with my roomie to the nearby Barista where two chicken rolls and a salad were consumed in a tearing hurry. The next three months was fun (deja vu right?) trying to calm down the worried friends that I was not suicidal or anything, it was just that I was not at all impressed with myself. Not that they ever bought it, but that is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so sue me God if that is not the case.

So, here we are again December 2002 and I am looking fondly at the things that mean anything to me. The first losses have registered already, but somehow I am more prepared this time and the element of surprise is lacking. Please, no pushing in the queue, we are all civilised and cultured people, your turn too shall come. I could even try taking bets on what could go next, you know. Just take everything away, one by one. And you, yes you too can join them. No, I certainly do not mind. Please feel free. Make my December.

It has taken a lot of effort to get to where things are now and the old habit of never asking is still there. Do not ever wish. Just grit your teeth and walk on, that way things are much easier. At times the the pointlessness of the whole jingbang irritates me, to be part of this circular joke. But then it must be pleasing some one if it is a joke. At least someone is happy. Yeah, sure.

November 29, 2002

Verdict

The greatest misconception that humanity makes every now and then is that they have figured out everyone and everything.

My Lord, I am guilty on innumerable counts on the same as charged.

November 28, 2002

Psyched Out

I have to admit that seven hours of poring through patchworked PHP code after having worked through the night is not the best first step towards acquiring a healthy lifestyle. But, that is what has been happening to me since Monday, when I finally got to lay my hands on the much talked about Psyche or known better as RedHat Linux version 8.

With Bluecurve, RedHat has gone a long way in giving the uniform look to both Gnome and KDE on Psyche. But that is where the problem ends or starts, depending on what sort of user you would happen to be. If you are moving from Windows to Linux, this is surely not the distro for you as the shift from "Geek Paradise" to "Linux for Dummies" paradigm is just about half cooked and even four days after slapping it on my system I still have not managed to make it look or feel as familiar as the Enigma (RedHat 7.2) install that was sitting there earlier. And please do not bother installing the distro if you are one of those poor souls with a godforsaken Winmodem, the existing drivers out there do not complie with GCC3 that is on Psyche.

Now to the experienced Linux user. The only reason to upgrade to Psyche for you would be Gnome 2. And that is where it ends if your life is oh-so-poor if you cannot use the Evolution client. Gnome 2 looks nothing short of sexy, yes there are the usual gripes about how the UI is inconsistent and the other caveats that the local chapter of the QT lovers association and XP lovers association would throw at you, but as far as I am concerned it is still very snappy, looks adorable with the anti-aliased fonts and once my favourite Aqua themes were up and running it felt somewhat familiar.

One reason why I dislike KDE is because it ends up looking silly trying to be a Windows clone [sic: heights of hypocrisy - Codey dissing Windows after running an XP theme on KDE!] and RedHat has added to the general Linux UI misery with the GDM looking suspiciously like a Windows XP login screen and a package manager looking and running pathetically slow like Install/Unistall on Windows. Looks, sadly, does not guarantee functionality and within three or four other RPM installs, the unsuspecting user is thrown into "package hell', leading to a couple of rounds of RPMfind.net before the much needed pieces of the puzzle fall and fit together.

Frankly, I do not know if hiding all the settings is the right approach taken by RedHat, towards making the so-called 'ultimate Windows killer application', after all that is the single major issue that most power users have with Windows -- that they cannot tweak or fiddle around with things beyond the invisible, yet very restrictive line that Microsoft has drawn around them.

But the one marked improvement as far as Psyche is concerned is fonts, with the default path being the .fonts under user's home directory. I dumped all of my lovely TrueTypes under /usr/share/fonts/truetype and symlinked .fonts to it. And yes, there is the display configuration utility that Mandrake has had for a while, so no more fiddling with the XF86Config-4 file. And last but not the least, do not install XMMS that comes with Psyche if you want to play MP3s because RedHat has not included the mp3 decoder in Psyche citing licensing issues. So, download the RPM or source from the XMMS site and install it. May the MP3 gods never forgive you for this omission RedHat.

So, what is the verdict? With Psyche, Redhat has gone a long way in bringing some much needed eye candy towards the Linux desktop, but this is most probably the last RedHat distro I will be using for my Linux needs. It is going to be Debian or FreeBSD as soon as their respective stable releases incorporate some of the new packages that I would want as a minimum. Maybe two more releases down the line RedHat would actually make a Windows clone that looks precisely like Windows XP, but then why would I bother using Linux if I have to make it work like Windows? I am much better off running Windows itself in that case. For a bit of money it would save me a lot of sweat. Kind of self-defeating don't you think?

Other than wrestling with psyche, I have been waging a running street battle with Blogger to let me import all my posts into MySql, so that I can take this blog off it and run it off my own scripts. The first half of that project is over after seven hours of struggle with PHP to parse the data from the template that I set up and write it to an XML file which I can parse again to be dumped into MySql. So, there does exist now an XML dump of this journal with me and what is left now is the tedious job of making sense of the XML parser in PHP to enter the data into MySql.

Did I hear someone say use an XSL style sheet and let the thing run off itself? That would be easy and very much possible, only that most hosts do not have Sablotron installed and I am also trying scratch up a script that would make a dump from the XML file which can be imported into another CMS like Nucleus or B2. Besides, I do not intend to use PHP other than to generate the flat HTML pages.

So, the long and short of it is, I am a long way from home [literally too!] and I better stop this rambling here if I am to get anywhere with it.

Screenshot here

November 25, 2002

Ritual

As usual, the child and the adult are sitting on the wall overlooking the wide open fields that gently melt into the setting sun.

The little one not having spoken for a while causes the adult to sit up and take notice. Is it yet another phase? He wonders, lets it remain at that and grants his attention back to the birds swooping down in a flock and up again against the sinking orange disk. Another five minutes of this and I am going to scream at him, the adult makes up his mind.

Why cannot he just ask? It is written all over his face that he wants to know. Why should he then put up this front at all? After all it is just him and me, thinks the child, staring blindly up ahead pretending to count an imaginary figure with his little fingers.

Is something bothering you? The question arrives finally from the adult following a loud and very noticeable prelude of a sigh.

Silence.

It is very awkward for him now and he has been caught on the wrong foot, if the child does not speak at all, it will be a total disaster. The situation must be salvaged. Adopting a more amiable posture he tells the child "You honestly cannot expect me to read your mind, you have to tell me what is bothering you, otherwise how am I to know?"

"What do you want to know", asks the little one, his mind echoing the same question in different words -- what would you know anyway? The floodgates open and the adult swamps the child with words about how it is all different, how wonderful things are and all the other things the child should be to listening to.

"Yeah, it is all wonderful, really wonderful", the little one concludes, praying for an early conclusion of this latest episode.

"I was sure you would see my point", says the adult and marks his latest victory with a smug smile.


And they return to to their respective silences.

November 22, 2002

Status

Between endless hours of words spewed out of a clattery keyboard, three mugs of tea, a sparse meal or two and a round trip of hardly ten kilometers guided by a freezing pair of hands, the search for life continues unabated.

Detour

Since there is nothing much original left here to read, I suggest you go here and read something worthwhile.

Thank you & Amen

November 19, 2002

Quiet

Of late there has been a decreasing need to communicate compensated by a whirlwind of words, images and memories that surround me constantly. It all was going according to plan, in fact like clockwork, till I accidentally tripped on a power cable setting alive the whole circus. Now they run around me and tell me stories as they dance past and vanish into the darkness beyond the arc lights when I look for them again.

Never doubt what you perceive, no matter how preposterous it might be. Twelve months on, I am wondering about things that I had almost lost my mind over. The bastard called as hindsight is mocking at me from the dark corner. What was I up to? Why? I can't even put my finger on what I saw in it all. The same thing now evokes nothing but disdain in me. Contempt? Maybe. Sour grapes? Probably not, but I cannot be sure.

What is important is, it is the same perception that confers a given value to all other things in my life. Would all of them too turn out to be false as time crawls through them? Maybe it already is happening. Maybe I never noticed. Maybe I did and froze a good element from everything and indexed them in my memory with an associated value. SELECT person, time_period, memory FROM codey.life WHERE emotion like joy. Obviously, a query on a negative one would always return zero rows.

The prime criterion in selecting an ideal sample is to get one that would always agree with your conclusions.

Life is good mate, it is just too damn good.

Update I: I do not know if it is my system or if it is Blogger, but something is messing big time with my template. Might or might not fix it after I hunt down some food and sleep. Thank ye!

Update II: Did nothing new and it seems to be working now, guess it was the sleep, something tells me I must get more of it.

November 18, 2002

Prayer

Give me strength to run many a million miles, without stopping, without looking, without feeling.
Give me vision to look beyond the ordinary and seek the non-existent extraordinary, to be blind to pain and joy
Give me blindness to erase my dreams and a blank face to erase my expressions
Give me courage to be baited by a million and and the ability to entertain like no one else
And when I can run no more, give me a blessing in a shot, to be put down like a limping mongrel
After all, what good am I if I cannot run at all?

November 12, 2002

Value

The sun is a pale orange pastel's arc with streaks of faded yellow crisscrossing its face. On a dark blue river its reflection tapers to the silhouette of a lonely boatman splashing his oars making gentle waves that travel towards the shores touching all life that happen to be there at that time. There is a giant waterfall up ahead, which does not slow down the splashes. There are only smiles in this painting.

Time is its own master, but you master time when you break free from it by conceding all to it. She is a wonderful fairy leading you by her hand to newer, stranger and at times beautiful lands. There is no learning in this journey. We kneel at the starting line with a zero and we come full circle to complete the run as zero. The interim is marked by experience in numbers other than zero that fills you up with a temporary value.

The more you hold on to things, the more she drags you along, it cuts, bruises and leaves you hurting. The more you let go, the further you blend into the journey and each passing day there is a lesser ounce of you left in you. We are in a mad race towards the second zero.

So many have come and even more have left. So many you have hurt and so many have paid you back with same coin. There are debts that you think you have repaid and then there are debts that all the money in this world, like some messy accounts, you can never clear. Between words that were actually said and words that were dreamt up, there remains nothing but a moth eaten register in the mind to mark their memories. Thank you for staying here dear sirs, hope you had a nice time, please do visit us again.

You and only you persist in the end, like the smile that accompanies that simple realisation.

I am going nowhere. I am here to stay....

Riddles

Do you see what I see? We agree that what we see is green, but what actually is green? Green might be red for you and yellow for me, you might have called red, green all your life and I might have called yellow, green all my life. Strange that we have come all this way as a civilisation based on such fundamental assumptions that might even be based on facts that never existed in the first place.

Is the look that I see in your eyes really there or is it just the way it has been all the time? Or is it that I am calling your same emotion under a different name today? Or it is just that you see green and I want to see red, so I see red. But it remains green for you. Then again, even if we agree it is green that we both see, how can you be sure that it is not red that you see and yellow that I see. Still we manage to spend whole lifetimes together based on such understandings. Or misunderstandings?

November 08, 2002

Mellow

I could gladly die right now, only if I could find something worthwhile to die for.

November 07, 2002

The Narrative

There is something about a high shot of the setting sun in an almost deserted street and a deep voiceover that yanks the listener's attention back to the rose-tinted beginning. There is something about stories that starts with the line "When we were kids" and the noise of the children playing in the street that threads its way through the background score of a solitary piano. I loved the way how Sleepers started. I loved the way it ended. And the title music of Malgudi Days on television will never stop haunting me for the rest of my life.

Give me a story, a bag of popcorn, a pillow to lean on, my mug of coffee and the regular "Once upon a time" beginning. Give me an unreal picture to draw in my mind, an imaginary strobe of light in a forest of darkness -- someone else's reality that I can believe in and be happy for, comfortable in the thought that there indeed exists life elsewhere. The only thing I can assure you in return is my undivided attention.

Do you have a story to tell me?

The future held no interest for her; she desired eternity; eternity is time that has stopped, come to a standstill; the future makes eternity impossible; she wanted to annihilate the future. -- From Love's labour's lost by Milan Kundera

November 05, 2002

Decipher

Time is an enduring snowball, unstoppable and ever growing, ever persistent with its threat to mow you down at any given instance. Its cumulative side effect is often the fancy disease called as experience which leaves unpleasant scars as reminders. Prevention being a non-entity, it is often left to immunity to pick up the pieces every time it mows you down. Lessons are never learnt. This class is an abject failure. Shame on all of you. Dismissed!

Am dreading the arrival of December. The past five years or so, the same month has brought about radical and often unwelcome changes in my life and today my feet are freezing, the dreaded chill is arriving. We are coming to get you lad, sure as hell we are! I want a safe and secure corner, an old barrel, some wood to burn in it and a warm pair of hands to hold on to.

Summers are too hot, but the stars are wonderful and they litter the skies like popcorn scattered on the floor when you spill it from the jumbo packet. Winters are too cold, there are no stars, just the grey haze of an unpleasant anticipation blankets life. Chase the impersonal cold in summers and the distant stars in winters, after a while one loses track of what was being missed and what was in grasp. Spin round and round like a top to tumble and fall in a dark heap. Ring a ring of roses......

A heady tune reaches its crescendo dancing to the wild steps of fingers doing a tango with the strings, another flick and yet another roll of ash takes to the air on its way to the ground. Pale morning light slowly dissolves the darkness, shapes emerge, the snowball rolls on. Another day begins.

Where is my mug of coffee?

You're calling me mad
But i know you're the same
Cause you got to be seen to be playing the game
Yes we got to be seen to be playing, the game. --
Otherwise by Morcheeba

November 04, 2002

Perspectives

Funny how things change. As ten year old I wanted nothing more in life to do than to burst crackers during diwali at home, because my parents never got them for us. It was considered too dangerous for us. Obedience being one of my more 'positive' virtues, I would still burst a few away from home with my friends who were allowed the noisy pleasure. Later, the smaller crackers were taken off the persona non grata list, but by then crackers were not the only thing I had been forced to grow beyond, when the time came for the annual ritual that we acted out to perfection to the lines of a tried and trusted script. Now, the same crackers irritate me. Not just because of the pollution, but mainly because it destroys the calm which I so love. Wonder how many we must have irritated as kids, aided by those monstrous bombs.

Fact. Golf is so not a spectator game. I have always known this watching it on television, but my jogging sessions have now proven it beyond doubt, at least to me. The park where I jog is located right next to the local golf course and it provides with some comic relief when I am puffing and panting my way through the painful rounds. It is really amusing to see the amount of concentration that goes into the drive off the putting range. Obviously, no one told them that it makes more sense to figure out the line through which you have to hit than to keep staring at the ball as if they expect it to pop up with a life that it might attain out of the blue. Finally when the drive finally descends from the heavens above is a spectacle worth a thousand words. An apt way to describe it would be - driving with a vengeance. It would not be a bad idea to put a board up that says "Jogging here can be a health hazard". A golf ball can hurt really bad, you know.

Back to jogging now. One very nice thing to see every morning is that there are so many old people around who often beat the living daylights out of you with their enthusiasm and persistence. Makes you feel a bit guilty about complaining so much about life. But then, you cannot really compare. The path around the park is a figure of eight and it is a wonderful place to be during early mornings or evenings. I have yet to talk even a single person out there and I do not have any complaints about that. One reason why I love the jogging is for the solitude that comes with it and the pleasure that comes with working through the pain barrier when you start to cramp up or just run out of breath. I really do wonder if that is the only thing that attracts me to it, the usual pushing the envelope bit. I hope not.