Thursday, April 23, 2009

Till geekdom come (boredom's already here)

So now that I'm on my way to my first job ever, my uncle and his wife offered to buy me a new phone on an unlimited budget. It went something like this.

Uncle comes over. We chat for a while, he mentions he's lost his cell phone and is planning to buy a new one. Asks me for my opinion. Being the geek that I am, I start off on a long list of phones, having memorised most of their pros and cons.

I'm a gadget freak, especially when it comes to phones. I swear. It's the most jobless thing ever in the world, but I can spend hours on web and youtube reviews about phones. It's not healthy, and I don't always follow up on my "the next phone I am going to buy" decision, but I find it fun and I think it's more productive than reality TV anyway.

So about fifteen minutes, eight phones, and a spec sheet long enough to compete with the criminal records of all the politicians currently standing for elections, my uncle asks me simply, "what would you buy if you were in my place". I recommended the Xperia X1, given the fact that he's a doctor and all that and will need less of the multimedia and ShoZu integration et al... Then my uncle goes, ok I'll buy it for you. Which leaves me very surprised and happy of course.

But now I'm in a bit of a quandary. See being the geek that I am, the minute he offered to buy me a phone, I went and looked up ten others that may be better. Thing is, like so many things in life, they each had pros and cons (I hate it when things are like things in life, that's why I love fiction of any form or kind).

Ok so this post is more of a rant out of boredom than anything else. Sitting in a state that is under prohibition with the only bottle in reach under lock and key with my mom is not conducive to creative self-destruction.

In any case, here's my conundrum (and feel free to skip the following cause it's just specs and shite)

The Xperia X1 is a sexy phone. I mean if I was a phone I would want to look and act like the X1. The panels interface has to be the most eye catching interface since HTC's touhcflo (HTC did help Sony with this one). It also has a touchscreen and a beautifully crafted QWERTY keyboard as well as pocket office and though the built in player doesn't support divx, the WinMo OS allows you to get 3rd party apps that do. However, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles. The camera is crappy, but that's something I'm willing to overlook cause frankly, after getting an SLR, no non-SLR camera can cut it (even those bulky bridge cameras - yeah yeah geek in pink I am). What it seriously does lack however is good internal memory and an FM transmitter (yes I am being supremely choosy, but hey, unltd budget)

The other option is the INNOV8 which by God has to be the best thing that ever happened to mobile telephony. It's custom designed for multimedia and has a bloody v8 engine. It has an 8 mp camera with more bells and whistles than I've seen in most digicams. Geotagging, face detection, panorama shots, image stabalisation; it even has that worthless smile detection and a new blink bloody detection. Drool. (as this post progresses, I am sounding more and more geeky, screw it) It also has 16 GB of internal memory but fails on the FM transmitter bit too, but I am willing to overlook that as well. What I am a bit hesitant to overlook is the no touch screen part. Although I don't think I will ever be able to use a full touchscreen phone, I like the touchscreen and then slide out qwerty form of the Xperia X1.

Finally comes the n97. Just when I had given up hope for Nokia, they go and announce this baby. This phone has everything a geek could desire. Even though the camera is only 5 mp strong, I don't think it really matters, shooting pics at that resolution leads to large sized images which doesn't really make sense on a camera phone. It has 32GB of internal memory, an FM transmitter, pocket office, the kickass symbian OS, a 3.5 inch touch screen (fine it's resistive and not capacitive but then the handwriting tech comes into play) The one and only thing it does not have is the looks. It looks like a plastic pencil box to be honest. I mean Nokia, what happened to you guys? The best phone that is going to hit the market and you design it like something out of a 70's science fiction television serial. That is the only problem with this phone and my god if you look at it, it's a problem.

In case you did read this far, thanks. That's it from me and my rant.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Graduation Rations

Now that we’re all set to enter the big bad world of corporate business and hang our consciences along with last night’s pyjamas as we head out for the day’s work, a couple of memos from the past few years of my life come to mind.

(Note that since some of these did take place eons ago, I will not be producing them in verbatim and in fact will be making some of the parts up, just to add effect. The essence, however, is still preserved.)

The first memo I heard only a year ago from an incredibly distinguished IIM alumnus who was delivering a speech to a rapt audience of soon-to-be-IIM-alumni. During his conversation with them, he was asked several questions, one of them being what, according to him, were the shortcomings, if any, in the MBA system in India when compared to the rest of the world. The esteemed Alumni replied that he felt that there was a marked lack of emphasis on health and physical fitness in institutes across the country. We have the best minds, the best facilities, but for some reason there is barely any awareness much less approval when it comes to running five times around a small field every day for the sake of longevity. And chain smokers, alcoholics-on-weekends, junk-foodies, alcoholics-after-ten-pm, unhealthy canteen food (not the mess), no little love for ordering big chunks of cheesy pizzas in, these were all abundant in the past two years of my life.

Not that I’m complaining mind you – which is probably the guy’s point in the first place.

The second bit comes from a continent away and was brought to my attention by the voodoo child. It was the eve of said child’s graduation from school (they call it 'graduation there, I suppose, even though she was only eighteen) and her Economics (or was it Philosophy and English?) professor was delivering the speech to the outgoing batch. Among the several things he said, one pearl follows. He started off by talking about a hypothetical situation. “Say you were given three hundred thousand Euros and were told to spend all of it (no saving, this was before saving became savvy). Of the many things you could do is buy a Hummer. Now a Hummer is massive. There are villages in Tibet that are smaller than a single Hummer. But it’s sexy (again, this is 2004), it’s cool, and it gives you about five miles to the gallon. Or, you could take that money and spend half of it on a weekend skiing vacation and still have enough left over to but the latest hybrid vehicle that while not being as powerful as the Hummer will still be more than enough equine muscle to get you around on your daily chores and not make a big black puddle in the middle of Alaska somewhere. The point is this. Money talks. Let your money speak for you.”

He then proceeded to crack several incredibly inane jokes in Latin which you and I are both better off not recalling.

The last memo came recently. It was during our very own convocation speech. The chairman of our institute's board stepped up to the podium and began recounting the time when he was in our shoes, graduating with an MBA (albeit in another country). He said that there are would be several things going through our minds, as indeed there were. There we were, being handed the world on a veritable platter. All of us ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead. Our chairman could have spoken about anything; he could have spoken about ethics in business and not letting go of one’s principles, about being environmentally friendly and caring about others and the state of the lesser fortunate than we were and other such David Copperfield crap (yes I had to use that line). You could almost say it was expected of him; but he didn’t. Instead, he summed it all up perfectly by simply reminding us of the people sitting just behind us, hidden from the glare of the flashes from the photographers and the stares from the cameras, all vying to capture us in our robed splendour. The ones without whom all of this wouldn’t have been remotely possible and, while we were the ones shining in our moment of glory, they were the ones who had been with us every time we were down in the mud. Our parents. The chairman said “as I graduated, the only thing on my mind was how to make my parents proud. The rest all follows from that” ... or something to that effect.

Later people found the speech more than a little ironical, given the facts which we all know. But it was true nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Lasting

A hush descends over the stone lined pathways as the few who remain observe a penance-like silence out of respect for those who have left. Either that or they have had their energy sapped by the many adieus bid to lonesome strangers who were converted by the alchemy of friendship into loyal comrades and brothers in arms.

He left the same way he came in, with his parents and a sense of wonder, fear, excitement, and sadness all stirred nicely in his glass heart to from a concoction that he had tasted for the third time in his life now, and found all too bittersweet, for the third time in his life.

Rooms and places that were just numbers and names take on the avatar of homes for selves and friends and places to congregate late into the night and share tea and memories. The alchemist’s work stretches beyond human bonds and seeps into concrete, wood, stone, and glass.

That last day, he hadn’t slept. He had to see off a friend early in the morning (and had the luck to see off one more as well) and, when he went back to his room and lay in his bed, his heart wrenched in a funny way as he realised that he was leaving behind everything that he couldn’t.

Alchemy is not a science, it is not a myth, it does really work. Only it does not rely on any physical ingredients (though catalysts are known to exist), it does not have any ten-step process to convert the worthless into the priceless, it does not work for each and every thing and for each and every one. The miracle in alchemy is not the lead into gold bit, but the ability to convert a drab thought and a silly passing moment into a cherished memory. Call it retrospective falsification, but somehow, whenever we look in hindsight at the different eras of our lives, they never seem to be as bad as we thought. The living of life has a way of making the important a memory. The living of life itself is that alchemy. And we are but its apprentices.

Just before the car took the last turn at the gate – out into the crazy and crowded street that was so antithetical to the oasis of calm behind the ten foot tall stone walls – he looked back and smiled at the path he had tread with trepidation not long ago. He would return. Some day. After age had lessened his zeal and his works were replaced by those younger, better, stronger, faster, harder than he was. He would press on into the red setting sun, his brown leaves quivering in its warm embrace.

author's note: ending has been "inspired" :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

...and thanks for all the fish

I guess it’s about time to write this one.

Of all the moments, for some reason I always remember the ones where I’m drunk and doing stupid things the most, even when I don’t really remember what I’d said or done, if you know what I mean.

‘Twas the night before Convo’
When all through the blocks
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a fox

...Except for a few drunken guys singing ‘The Recession Song’ on top of the block at the far end of the campus and blaming the current economic crisis on “Bush and his lackeys”

The last night of drunken revelry, when most people (not all though) were indeed resting after the Convocation eve show and in anticipation of the next morning’s rehearsal and the late evening’s main event, I was, again, drunk on beer, whiskey, and vodka respectively (that was not all though, the latter part of the night introduced me to my old friends, rum and Mary Jane, but that high is for another time)

The end of all we had come to know and love. We spent it making the ever-fun old age jokes at the old-age people present and of each other’s ethnicity and accents. Most of it, however, was spent in plain ol’ singin’. Old songs, new songs, good songs, bad songs; we sung ‘em all. We didn’t really talk about leaving and all that too much; come to think of it, we didn’t talk about the past two years at all. We just sat there and did our shit and probably pissed the hell outta some guys in the surrounding blocks like we’d done so many times before.

And in between it all, the thought that we’ll never be able to this again. The realisation that all good things come to an end, that nothing lasts forever, that the future had already arrived and the words of an acne-faced boy just out of his teens when he’d stepped into this place two years ago saying “I hope these two years just fly by” had indeed come true.

At one point I was left alone with my guitar gently weeping in my arms, cranking out any tune that came to mind. It’s funny, because no matter how happy you are in life, at any given point in time, it’s always tempered with this voice at the back of your head telling you that “this too shall pass away” and all. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it’s good to keep yourself grounded, but it can get annoying as hell; having some dismembered voice tell you that all the time.

Still this emptiness persists.
Perhaps this is as good as it gets?

I got sentimental as crap though after most of the others had left. Not because of the leaving and all, I mean that was a part of it, but not all of it. I’m always doing or saying stupid things when I’m drunk. But that, too, is for another time.

The 4th Sense

Freshly blossomed Easter Lilies and Liliums fill the house; their scent encompasses every corner, reminding me of you.