March 30, 2006

In darkness


In darkness
Originally uploaded by codelust.
I think it is possible for me to say with a fair degree of certainty that 2006 will go down in my life as the year that I’ve torched the precious few remaining bridges that have helped me from drowning in the waters of insanity. In the past eight odd months I have done almost every single uncharitable thing I thought I could not have done and the answers that I want to know are far from coming anywhere close to me.

It was somewhere during the weekend that passed that I hit the lowest I have fallen to in a very long time, without the help the of alcohol and with the help of the singular realisation that even after almost six years of actually being on my own, not a lot a had changed. I could not figure out what it was that I could differently or if I even had it in me to start all over again. But something I knew for sure was that I just could not go on like that.

There was a lot I wanted to say to people that I liked and even to the ones that I did not like that much anymore, but, for reasons that varied, I could not speak to even one of them. Which was, for all the so-called improvements or changes that I have enforced over the past six years, a situation eerily similar to the state of emotional comatose I had left home back in the fag end of 1997. I did not feel bitter or angry, but sad beyond what I could express in words or any other manner.

So, where do we go from here? I have not made up my mind yet. There are faint ideas and things resembling plans. But hey, it is not easy to pick up the pieces for the umpteenth time and look for variations to draw when you have tried almost all possible ones. For one, I think I will be a little less naïve and stop taking the spoken word for what it is. It does not quite work out that way. Even if you can handle your own craziness (just about that is), it is not kosher to assume everyone else around you can.

In all honesty, I am not the best person you would have known, but I probably would not be quite the worst one either. Somehow I have to enforce what I have preached for a long time in my own life – that you have to make a positive choice if you want something to work for you. Having no faith in yourself or your abilities do work against that edict, so does waiting in the shadows and hoping for hand-me-downs or choices driven by a lack of others. The good thing is, even if I don’t know what works for me, at least now I know what does not. Or is that a bad thing actually?

March 27, 2006

Finally


03-26-06_1903
Originally uploaded by codelust.
After all, it is all about the connections you make, is it not? It is so rare and hard these days to find one of those. Through the day, I meet so many people and with each I spend a split second looking into their eyes, trying to catch that unknown half-glimpse that will set them apart, in terms of how they are and what they have to say. On most days, it is like fishing and not one materializes. Even when they do, what comes across quite often is derision, delusion and plaintiveness. None of which represent that unknown I want to know.

It is so easy to go through the motions on a day-to-day basis, smile and listen your way through things, but inside you take half a step back every day till you realize one day that you have walked half a mile and a lifetime away from the ones you have known and the ones that have known you. Sometimes, all of this happens so unknowingly that the sudden distance and the stench of your own isolation startles you out of the trance that is called your existence. And in the eerie silence that follows, you make an unpleasant love with what remains of your memories, dreams and life.

In a couple of weeks, the summer will come visiting once again in its sweaty and intense self. I should be worrying about the air conditioning that I will have to get done this year. I should be over the moon that the years of hard work are paying off finally. But I am not. I am thinking of leaving. For where? I don’t know. For what? I don’t know. I’d like to believe that I have plans and that I am charting out my own destiny. But the truth is that I have none. I have nothing to call my own other than this lingering feeling that I have finally had enough. Maybe it is indeed time to move on.

March 23, 2006

Game


The Key
Originally uploaded by codelust.
How can it be that you are leading more or less of the life that you wanted to live and still be tremendously bored and disinterested in most of the things that are in it? The feeling sways between phases of benign indifference and an all-conquering malignant disappointment. It is not like I have had it quite easy in life. I have had my fair share of problems and self-doubt and I still have both in decent quantities, but it is also not the case that life has been too unkind to me and there is nobody who leads a life without problems. So, is it a case of over-expectation or do I brood just for the sake of it?

At least earlier I used to look forward to new things to light up my life, even for a short interval. Now almost everything induces at the most a tired “oh” from me and most times I just don’t care much. It is not that recent a phenomenon though. I remember, even before I came to Delhi, things that would send most people into an emotional twirl doing nothing to me. And it is not like I don’t feel much, I still do and uncontrollably at times, but it does not progress much beyond that. You know, “shit happens”, “things do work out every now and then” and life trundles on unaffected for most parts.

Maybe it is an overarching sense of self-importance that acts a platform from which I look down on people that is the root cause of all of this. And I do look down on people with regards to my strengths, while I dismiss my shortcomings as abilities that are only of social and no personal import. But it does lead me to play this cat-and-mouse game, where I look to be understood and not be understood at the same time. The trouble is, I am losing interest even in that game. It is just way too boring. After a while you tend to know all the steps, all the right things to say and all the conclusions in advance.

All this has one funny side product. To keep myself convinced that I am still very human and normal, I work myself up into a state of excitement about things I know I don’t give much of a damn about. It is like window shopping for the sake of doing it. In a way, it is like parole time for me from the staid emotional jail term I have been sentenced to. But what worries me is that the same does not extend to people anymore, I can’t be arsed to have my heart go flutter or genuinely work up some heat into the frozen innards of my heart. “Why bother? This too shall pass”, is the only refrain.

To end on a considerably lighter note, I had recently heard from my father that he had stumbled on to my blog (hello father, if you are still reading it and really god save you if sit down and read most of it). I muttered some half-hearted explanation to him about what a blog was and if it was written by me in the first place. You see, I was just not in the mood once again. It has become a very over prevailing theme of late, but, looking at the brighter side, it does help me sit up late in the night and write things on my blog that would not make sense for most. Can you see the game?

March 20, 2006

The Return

Unlike most others, I came home to an overflowing mailbox and a burgeoning unread list in my feed reader of choice – GreatNews – after two days in Bombay. It is almost three in the morning and after dedicating more than three solid hours to catching up on the information deluge I have decided to let the matter rest for now and pick the gauntlet up once again later in the working day. But strangely, even in the overwhelming relief that familiarity brings, I have not felt the typical elation I feel when get back to Delhi after any trip, nor did I feel totally out of place in Bombay, which says a lot.

Contrary to my expectations, I did not have an easy time during the trip. The initial plan was to take it easy with the work part of it and then spend time catching up with friends that I wanted to meet up with. Two of them, one due to the developments in Navi Mumbai and the other due to the improbability of the distances involved, fell off the list. But I did finally get to meet a blogger who is now more a personal and close friend, some four years after I first got to know her and also met up with another old friend and the gang from back here, who recently moved there. The spoiler, though, was the work part, which I have to admit was quite satisfying that took up most of my time.

That said, the romance I have had for the city did dwindle a lot this time around. A lot of it probably has to do with the fact that in my first trip there I stayed at Colaba and worked at Nariman Point, giving me some of the best parts of the city to exist in for the seven days I was there. The second time, about eight months back, was spent between Lower Parel and Bandra, with the office providing for most of the transportation. This time, I ventured out on my own a lot more, getting stuck in places like Mahim and Bandra and I even managed a late night and early morning trip to and from Lokhandwala. Even the sea food did not do much to rescue the situation this time, but I did appreciate the fact that I did not have to drive. I had not realised that driving takes away so much of energy and effort.

If you do know the secret, be sure to let me know about how the cabbies of the city manage to propel and direct their old Fiat cars at the speed and in the manner in which they do. They judge the space requirements better than any feline I’ve seen till date and the way in which they get their braking spot on would put any legendary formula one driver to shame. Another thing to note was the new domestic terminal at the airport which looked totally out of place and spanking good in its glory. We seriously need more of those. And why on earth would someone want to use a card system to regulate wireless internet access within the terminals? It kind of defeats the purpose even when have creatively named base stations like ‘Tusnami’ showing up on the network list.

In retrospect, the trip was pretty successful. I did manage to have two pretty useful and exhaustive meetings and also have a fruitful crack at deciphering the impenetrable legalese in two corporate agreements, leading me to believe that I might have finally found the real calling for me in life – in law. Really sad jokes apart, it is always a pleasure to connect in a professional capacity with the people of the city, there is so much less faffing around and wastage of time. I also managed to have a bit of run in with the mutual funds kind of crowd at the company’s event at a beautiful five star hotel’s premises in Bandra, though ten minutes into it I could see why I could never be good at it. It is just not my thing, I am happy being my geeky, asocial self. Well, at least for now.

March 15, 2006

Grip


I mean, what is it? What is it that holds you together? Is it family? Is it friends? Is it your boyfriend or your girlfriend? Is it your husband, or is it your wife or your children? It has been a long day for me.

After having stayed away from the colourful chaos outside for the first half of the day, I have hit that dreaded low in my life where I collapse under the effort of having to hold myself up together all the time. Thus starts the mad search for a conversation, for any conversation, that will throw a rescue line your way and save you and your sanity, be it for a couple of minutes, hours or even a day.

This is the moment where all the resolve to hold your own ground goes to the dogs. The promise of the conversation claws at you like the worst withdrawal an addict can suffer from. Every wrong thing you’ve ever done eats at your conscience for having landed you in this spot and you feel bitter about every person, for whom you’ve ever done any right, for not being there to help you out. Not that it helps a lot to have your non existent ego play up at that time not wanting to ask for help. Eventually, after a long walk, everything calms down, material needs to be cleared for the office presentation and dinner needs to be cooked.

Life is nice as long as it is maddening and abnormal.

March 14, 2006

Ponder

Yet another Monday crosses itself off the calendar and I am back on my familiar perch at home, desperately trying to keep my mind away from not being able to have a conversation I badly want to have. It is not often that you run into someone with whom you don't need to have anything in particular to talk about and still have a nice time for reasons beyond any explanation or theories you can come up with. It does feel nice to be confronted every now and then with experiences that shatter your overtly jaded and cynical outlook towards everything in life -- that you can be liked as a person without having to pretend to be the ever-so strong and dependable entity, which becomes a pain when you have to be just that all the waking hours.

I have also been pondering about my long term plans. I had given myself time till I turned 28 to let things keep running the way they are now. After that I wanted to either pack my bags and set out to see the world without any specific destination in mind or set something up of my own. Honestly, I can't pick between the two. Both are equally difficult to pull off and both involve leaving one comfort zone or the other for me. But I am quite bored of Delhi and the people and I have been pondering if it is about time I got down to making good on my long-standing threat to just pack things up and leave one fine morning? Somehow I do feel that I have broken a lot of things here beyond fixing and there is a scent of a rut and the hint of an inroad into a vicious circle and I don't want either.

Setting something up of my own. Well, that is a toughie. An objective analysis of my abilities would get me a rating of zilch in terms of business sense, networking and having the knack to work well with different people. That would leave me with my only saving grace of being a problem-solver and that alone is not enough to start something. It is tempting though, since I have a fairly good idea of what can do well in the market now and how to build it, but that would take away two good years of my life and there is the risk of coming face-to-face with boredom once the initial crunch is over. But I am scoping a couple of ideas out. Getting it running and making it work, well, that is a totally different ball game.

The weekend should probably see me once again in Mumbai on a work-related trip. A change of environs should do be me a bit of good, away from all the brooding, sulking and the general chaos that I manage to place myself in the centre of all the time. It should also be fun to gobble up some good fresh sea food too. It has been a while since I have treated myself to that.

March 10, 2006

On a day like today


This is around noon, at the DND Flyway, on my way to office in Noida.

It has been drizzling all morning and the weather is so beautiful that it makes you wonder what you are doing going back into the middle of meetings, plans, projects, problems and allocations.

Anyone for a nice blanket, mugs of coffee, slow music and lots of meaningless conversations?

March 09, 2006

Fork

No, I have not budged an inch. I am still kind of holding my ground, in a not very useful manner, in both personal and professional life. The personal has been splattered all over this place since 2001 in all its complicated glory, but there is not much mention here of the professional. I guess that is because I have always done pretty okay work-wise and even in its unspectacularness the various gigs have managed to pay most of my bills and helped me acquire and maintain the necessary creature comforts.

But that can't keep restless creatures like me going forever. In all honesty, I am doing quite well now and there is a lot more that needs to be done. But there is this lingering feeling of wanting to do something that is your own than to power proxied efforts. After a point it becomes hard to not be able to apply your learnings in the way you want to apply it than the way you are forced to by circumstances. And of course, there is the lure of the pot of gold if you can hit the venture right. Do you perceive a faint whiff of ambition in the air? I certainly do.

What is encouraging the feeling are two things. First is that the Indian market is getting primed for major action. Even with its current minisculeness, any convergent form of media stands a better chance of doing well here in the next ten years than it does in the west and at some point every major player (retail, online, offline, name any damn thing) would want to jump in on the bandwagon. So, if you do it right, there is a major opportunity that did not exist even a couple of years ago. If you can build it well, someone will definitely want to buy it.

Second is a follow up to the first point. There are not many people out there who are clued in enough to build it well. Of course, there are many major players like the Infys and Wipros, but they are mostly solution providers and architects who can't do much without a proper vision or purpose given to them in the first place. Moreover, to build it right, you need to understand the medium and its experience and that is not something many have. Can you visualise a solution that mixes rural marketing with the ease-of-use of an AJAX interface? If you can't then you would not know what I am talking about and the opportunity is that are not many out there who do.

All technology is eventually an abstraction. It is a bridge that connects complicated automation to easily understandable/identifiable/predictable actions on the user's end. Where it used to fall apart earlier was high entry level costs. Connectivity and computing infrastructures were prohibitively expensive and the abstraction was there only to the extent of making it barely usable for technology savvy crowd. What has changed in the new world is that the entry level costs have come down. And they have come down to an extent where it even makes sense these days to absorb that cost component entirely, without passing it on to the users.

Some have already realised this. At least one friend is planning to move out of his regular media job to setting up something of his own. The inherent risks are very high especially if you can't find someone to put up at least the seed capital for the venture and the first two years would mean an existence which would have to be frugal at the best and terrible in terms of your savings, that is if you have any in the first place. But if you make it, the payback can essentially take care of the rest of your life. And that is the point that I keep pondering, if such a thing is possible at all or not or if I am just daydreaming?

March 06, 2006

Razr Redux

It has been over two weeks since I acquired the Motorola Razr v3i and I guess it is time for a review of sorts. At Rs. 14,500 the phone is not what can be called as cheap. Since the Motos don't have even half of the resale values that the Nokias have, you can expect both the retail and second hand prices to fall drastically over the coming months. If you are going to invest heavily in a new phone, wait it out for another couple of months, you can probably pick up the same phone for at least a grand knocked off the price I picked it up for.

The negatives: Don't buy this phone for the iTunes player. It is dreadfully sluggish and you are much better off saving the songs directly in the memory card and playing them one-by-one. Besides, the transfer rates are abysmal, making syncing the damn thing a horrible pain. The screens scratch quite easily and the keypad touches the display, when the flip is closed, leaving marks on it even when you painstakingly keep it free of your ear and thumb impressions.

The camera is quite okay for still images, but it is quite lousy if you have to record video. If you want to either with any decent quality, you are much better off buying a proper digital camera. And most importantly, if you have fat fingers this phone is just not the thing for you. I have already lost countless text message replies after accidentally pressing the abort button trying to press the auto-complete button.

The positives: It looks quite snazzy and feels quite robust, though I have not given it the 'drop-it-five-times-a-day' acid test yet. The battery life is pretty decent and the unified socket means that I can get the phone charged at the same time as when I am using it to browse the Internet via GPRS on the laptop, without requiring an additional cable or a power outlet. But I have to say the bundled hands-free kit is the cheapest of the lot and a downer for the price you pay for the handset.

The address book plays real nice with the office Exchange server via the Motorola PC Suite and syncing that at least is not a pain. There have been no lock ups or other issues while using it as modem for the GPRS connection and even when it has been slow, the connection's been much more stable than the lousy cable-based Spectrasmart nightmare I normally use at home. If you are using Airtel GPRS do make sure that you select Service Type 1's option as WAP than HTTP.

All said and done I am quite pleased with the phone. It does most of what it says it can do without ceremony or hassle. And that is about it.

There is no fun like ignoring your own flaws and picking at the ones that the competition provides you. After their previous two flawed attempts at providing RSS feeds to the discerning audience, NDTV.com has made a third go at doing the same. The registration part has now been taken off and the feeds are now provided without any form of authentication. That is where the good news ends and the bad news begins. The feeds don't validate anymore, since the tags are messed up beyond belief, and the <link> element in each of the item (which points to individual stories) is now empty, leaving the users with no way to read the story straight off the aggregator. What fun!