My years in the world of consumer internet has successfully rewired a lot of  my neurons. I ,now , believe that any opinion standing on the shoulders of anecdotal evidence should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. I also process to be against hypocrisy. Yet, the very same neural patterns which have colluded to form my current worldview makes me make a conjecture that all human beings like music. While it is true that one person’s music may be other persons noise, every person I have met in my life likes some music or other.  My own likes and dislikes are an over-represented data-set of my universal set of data points.  This was a rather convoluted way of saying I love to listen to songs.

For me my love for singing sometimes goes beyond listening. I was once a semi decent singer. I have a few fragments of papyrus alluding to my vocal chords . I used my vocal chords to make a few of my ragging sessions to singing sessions.  In fact, I had used it to escape from physical drill of my first year NCC camp’s physical training . I performed a so-called musical performance for three minutes for the end of camp cultural performance and spent the rest of the camp practicing the song (eating food) and putting on weight while my friends went through a hellish boot camp.. While I no longer perform for an audience of more than me , I still try to learn a song once a while.

I come from a place called Assam and learned to express myself in Assamese. For as long as I can we always had an over-abundance of great music. The fact that our most important festival is all about song and dance could have a role in this. Invariably and frequently, I come across a song that touches my heart. I have away from my motherland for the last decade and a half. In these years, I have spoken very few Assamese words. I have seen  Assamese transition from my first language to second language to third and back to second. Today, Assamese is my second language but my vocabulary is bankrupt.

Yet, I feel an emotional connect when listening to Assamese songs which I do not feel when I listen in other languages. Of the songs that touched me, the song Majuli touched me a lot. I have never been to Majuli, It has always been an answer to a general knowledge question to largest river island of the world. I am not sure if it is the largest island in the world but our Assam based text books, sure, think it to be true. Whenever, I try to try to learn this song, I feel my eyes getting mist.

 

I feel sad that I do not know the meaning of all the worlds used in the song. At the same time the visuals of lusty green and flooded fields overwhelms my endocrine system. The sight of Assamese temple is very confusing. I no longer believe in existence of God and avoid religious ceremonies like plague. Yet it transports me to the days when I used to accompany my grandfather to our home temple as he conducted prayers. My grandfather who was far ahead of his times and did not care for the fact I was a product of inter-caste marriage. I see small kids sing to a joyous song to the tune of this melancholy song and get my emotions astounded, I should feel happy seeing happy faces but I feel sad. I see the colours of my state and I remember that it is reeling under unprecedented floods and I am not doing much to help. I feel anguish at the lethargy of fellow clan members which makes us languish at the bottom of the rat race of global civilization. I get distracted by song’s part about grandmothers love and the accompanying visuals of a kitchen. I travel back to my childhood to my grandmother’s kitchen. Everyone in the family had to eat in the dining room but I was special to my grandmother, My seat was always near my grandmother’s stove and nobody was given food till I had food. I remember my grandparents who are no longer alive. I remember the house in my village which has been long consumed by expanding river banks of Brahmaputra and then I listen to the same song in an infinite loop.

 

 

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materialistic philosophy, Stroke of time

Redeem and Rebuilt

Not so long ago, I used to write blogs more frequently. Not so long ago, the website that I am using to write this looked pretty different. Only a month and a half ago, I was in the city that broke me and humbled me. A city where I met my first love and had my first break up. A break-up that seemed more like an act of mercy than any phase of heartbreak. A city where I dreamt of being an entrepreneur and saw me built a hasty retreat to job life. A city that saw me get fit enough to run a marathon and saw me unfit enough for my doctor to tell me to leave my job. Bangalore gave me the best of times and worst of times but it broke my spirit and me unhealthy and poor but wise.  I needed to rescue myself. Rather timidly, I just wanted to get out of the city.

I started looking for jobs. I got a few great opportunities but broken me did not want to walk through the streets of my failure. Having spent the bulk of my professional life in startups, I was no longer fit to work in larger organizations. Botched two-three interviews and then started applying to all countries of the globe. I even applied to exotic countries not know for their tech prowess. In the state that I was, I felt I need to come to startup capital of the world “SFO” or Israel. The way VISA works, it was easier said than done but I had gone well past the realm of giving a damn.

I took a contract position with a startup as a consultant with a possibility of converting to full-time employment if an O visa came through. In a months time, the job offer came through contingent on visa approval. After a three-month VISA process, greatly helped by the press coverage of zoomo, the VISA came through. VISA interview was really funny, I had to go to Chennai to get my VISA stamped. First time I went there the CM died and the consulate declared a holiday.The next time I found myself in the middle of a cyclone.

On 16th January, I was ready to leave home for foreign shores for the very first time. Twenty odd hours later, I was in SFO. Ever since I left Dibrugarh, I have lived in Delhi, Kharagpur, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore but I always missed my old home. I missed the rains, the muddy roads and most of all I missed the clean air and tasty water. I missed walking up to see a tea garden, every day of my life. But SFO was different. It was a city with clean air, beautiful trees, beautiful houses and lovely weather. There are many things to like about the city, the road by the ocean, the walk across the streets and the lovely smell of the pine trees. I  love the smell of the pine trees, I really love the smell of the pine trees, I really really and truly love the smell of the pine trees. I love the run on the road by the ocean, I love the trek to the nearby hills.

I was pleasantly surprised to see people on the roads so polite. Even the dogs are very different from back home. I have run on the roads quite a few times sharing space with dogs and never have I been ever chased once. It took me quite a while to get adjusted to not react to the presence of dogs while running. In the month and a half here, I have been to a few other cities but nothing compares to this city. To top it all, I have got my health back and my sugar levels are back to normal, lost two inches and love with the work I do.

 

In many ways, I am now living a dream which I had never dreamt.

When engulfed by stress and external circumstances, it is easy to lose faith in everything. A  year after the dark days of my life, I have started to take things more lightly. I am now only interested in completing bucket list items. I have jumped from a building, ran 21kms without any reason, went to Vegas and walked one whole day alone on the strip. Life has been really good to me in this distant land that I call home.

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life, materialistic philosophy

The guilt free sundae

 

In moral science classes of my very initial school days, I was often told “an idle mind is a devils workshop”.  Idle mind or not, many of my brain cells responsible for storing the memories of my life were empty back then and till date I remember these six-seven words in the same order.

Today things are different, although my dna report will match to me of two decades earlier, my thoughts and thinking process are not exactly the same. I no longer think that devil and divine fight for control of my mind. But it is quite funny what an idle mind can do to your life.

I try to keep myself busy either coding or running in the few seconds of the day when I am not doing any of these I busy myself thinking about all things in life which I will never have.  It has been now seven years since the Brazilian Grand prix won by Kimi Räikkönen . Incidentally that was the day I was told I am a diabetic. It would be a lie to say I was not expecting this news or to say that I was not shattered by it.  Bad news, even though we know is inevitable, always comes across as something sad.

Thankfully though, my willpower rose to the occasion and now I am largely non-diabetic – at least my blood test thinks like that. I run aggressively every day and am rather paranoid about food I take. If I see oil floating around I can’t eat the food. If the food tastes sweet and I don’t know how much fibre is present in the food, I find myself unable to eat.  I feel like a criminal if I miss one session in the gym.

But all these seems to be taking a toll on me. Every now and then I feel like is why and for long do I have to do this. Why do I have to do all of these just to stay alive and now and then , I try to recollect the last time I had a guilt-free sundae. After searching my brain for recollections of the feeling of a guilt free sundae, I only realise I have quite forgotten how it tastes and just wonder how many cousins of guilt free sundaes will torment me in my idle hours.

 

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bike, Hobbies, materialistic philosophy, my life, travel

Here I Go on the road again

the call of the road

 

I love to drive. I really love to drive. I really totally love to drive. I really totally absolutely love to drive. Humans invented words to be able to communicate . While it is true that our mastery of larynx has enabled us to become masters of the world and deluded us into creating competitions to find the most beautiful thing that breathes in the universe, no matter how many daggers I inflict on the works of Wren and Martin and the guardians of English dictionary , I cannot honestly describe the joy that driving gives to me. Words can indeed be funny, only way to describe your love for anything is to write that you cannot describe them in words.

So, I love to drive. I love to drive fast. In India, driving fast is not something that any cardiologist will recommend to the fainthearted. Driving on the roads of India, it sometimes makes me wonder where did Stan Lee get the inspiration for his characters . Maybe it was good that he did not live in India or else his description of the physical self of his characters would be so much realistic. Every day in India you have people take to the road that they are the one and only spider-man and superman. Helmets are something meant for people whose brain skulls are made of fragile calcium composite. Driving on the wrong side is only way to drive specially if most of the lesser mortals who are driving at over 100 km per hour stand to disintegrate after a head on collision with the superman. The best part of it all is that the biggest superpower of Indian motorists is the high beam light that shields them from harms way by blinding the oncoming traffic driving on the right side of the road.

So, I have a self-destructive love. And there hangs the tale or whatever Lord Archer might have programmed my brain to mutter. If I am to analyse every thing I do in my life, my driving stands out as an anomaly. I was a lethargic when it came to physical activity , while I won accolades galore in academics and extra-academics, I have a resounding empty cupboard for sports. I used to hate games period and would actually study during the same in school. Yet, now I am one of the most regular guys in the gym challenging myself everyday to run an extra kilometer so much so that most of the fit members of the gym publicly declare me as an object of envy. Post diabetics, I have almost killed the foodie in me, I used to live to eat and I used to eat. For years, I could eat the most in my locality and now I am scared of having an extra serving of wheat bread. When I see oil floating around, it becomes difficult for me to chew and digest.

But we all are slaves to our own brain who will always find a way to justify all we do. While it is tempting to say that I am in control of my car, it is not really the right answer. I have had times when I lost control of my bike or car for a few fleeting seconds,seconds where only extraordinary symphony of circumstances saved my life. So I take refuge in my knowledge of biology.

When you are in fear, your brain produces adrenaline. A rush of adrenaline stimulates the body and causes a sudden release of glucose as well as an increase in blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. It makes you more aware of your situation and your body is physical more ready to react.Different people have different brains. Some brains needs a lot of excitement to pump out adrenaline (Formula 1-drivers, sky-divers, base-jumpers,), others, however, need just a little; stealing a candy bar, going into an examination.
After a while the adrenaline is no longer active in your body and you have indeed conquered your own fear. That makes some people feel “more alive”.
Some brains produce  dopa-mine, a kind of reward-drug: you get a good feeling about yourself. It’s all about these chemicals. Because of this reward-drug you may want to do it again, and when, for instance,  becomes too familiar, you need to go off-piste to ensure the production of adrenaline and dopa-mine.

Fully satisfied with my explanation, I can only mummer the lyrics of Bob Sager’s song “Turn the page”- especially the part “on the the road again“- juxtaposed with the background music of Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of glory”, and dream myself pressing my accelerator hard enough so that there is no air bubble between the shoe of the accelerator and the chassis of my car.

 

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Hobbies, travel

Evergreen Travel Memories

bomdila

Shall I say that I love to travel ? Love is a very heavy word enough to justify justifications like “everything is fair in love and war” . All I can say for sure that never has a new place failed to make me happy for days after I have left that place , provided it is not overcrowded with people. Maybe I am a closet introvert who just wants to run away from known faces. The thing about sentences starting with maybe is that there could be so many of them laying claim to be the cause that we can never be sure about the merit of those claims. Hours of pedantic analysis may tell us whose claim is greater but do we always need to know the whys of our emotions. Fair enough to say, I like to travel without any rhyme and reason. I think it wins a brownie point over my other passion of code for code earns my salary and my journeys use it.


Maybe, this has to do with the fact that every few years my fathers public sector job allowed us to go on free trips to any corner of India. While this coincidence could be the factor that influenced my likings. It is not a matter of conjecture that these free trips enabled me to see a lot of the country called India. My parents say we went on our first trip to Shillong, I don’t remember much of it apart from some lake where we did boating. The next was a trip to Darjeeling and Sikkim then Mumbai-Goa-Pune and then Chennai-Trivandrum-Kanyakumari and then Minicoy in Lakshadweep. Apart from these trips, my impressionable mind was overdosed with greenery of Arunachal Pradesh through my frequent summer holidays spent at my maternal uncles place. By the time I could take my own decisions, my travels were no longer hostages to freebies of my father’s company. I spent money from my pocket to travel to a few places in Arunachal, drove my bike from Hyderabad to Mumbai and back. My car clocked 20000 km in two years involving a few trips to places in and around Chennai and Bangalore. I have travelled as much as the limits of my budget would allow me.


Baseline established, I guess its time to come to the title of my post. Evergreen travel Memories. Let me give a background of the image that serves as the first image of this post. This was taken in an obscure hilltop of Bomdila. Bomdila is one of the most beautiful hill stations of India situated far above the clouds in the easternmost state of India — Arunachal Pradesh. We had planned to halt @ Bomdila for one day en-route Tawang. But the locals had some other plans. There was a strike in a town between Bomdila and Tawang and we had to stay for one extra day. We had one extra day @ Bomdila. Knowing nothing better we decided to go the highest point of Bomdila , they call it Tower. There is a military communications tower there. There was a proper road to it. But we decided that we should literally take the road less taken. We just ventured inside hills and decided to take the path devoid of any road so as to speak of. That was one of the best decisions I had taken in my life. We just kept on climbing hills asking local wood gatherers can we reach tower this way. Long story short, in our travels, we finally reached a mini hilltop. It had a nice grass devoid of any thorny plants. We decided to halt there. It was more a matter of lack of choice, we were dead tired. We were now high above the clouds and could look down upon a lot of geography. It was then the clouds took particular liking to our decision of hiking , it decided to let the various shades of green below us play hide and seek with our visual senses. I was told that green is a colour but the dance of the clouds was determined to clear my misconceptions and prove that green is not a single colour but a  range of colours. The photo above captures just one of the moments of this great poetic recitation of clouds.


Another image of my travel diaries that has stayed with we are from the coral reefs of Minicoy.  My primary school science told me about seven colours my knowledge of computer graphics told me about 65656 colours.   But Minicoy told me that colours are infinite.  This was not the statement of the white sandy beaches or the lagoon besides our hotel where you could see the bottom of the sea. It was school of fishes playing hide and seek in the imperfections of the dead exoskeleton of corals.  Many a engineers claim that modern hd tvs can accurately bring out the last pixel that a human eye can detect . I am sure this place has the other opinion. For no so-called high quality images have tainted my memories of that place. To top it all, I don’t have a single photograph of my trip to Minicoy so in a sense it is untainted by infrequent stimulus of digital pixels.


So, these places are beautiful but then why do I write about them some eight years after I bade farewell to these places. I guess it is the time that has elapsed that forces me to write about them . These memories stand out amongst all my geographical changes.  And then there is also the slight possibility that some of my friends who read this will want to do themselves a favour and find themselves in these places. To sign off, I will plagiarise the great Spock “I have been and shall always be in love with you -Bomdila and Minicoy”

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life, materialistic philosophy, philosophical me, reflections of time

Variables and Constants

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Thousands of miles on my car and thousands of lines of code on my editor later, I am back to my blog trying to reflect on the days gone by and make myself feel greater than I am and preaching to how one should lead ones life.

Some say that it is the fourth dimension of our existence, some say that it can curve under the influence of gravity some say that it is the greatest healer but all I know that time is something that exist in calendars and recorded in my brain cells as collection of hormonal changes. Since we humans owe our very existence to the giant furnace called Sun, it is no wonder that we have always defined in terms of where we were relative to Sun at the moment when the event had come to pass. Due to the actions of many a religious preachers who wanted to replace paganism with Christianity and yet maintain similar festivals, we can say that the current year is 2013.

Things as they are, so long we are alive, we do realize the arrival and passing by of time. By some strange coincidence, 2013 has been unlike any other year I have lived. All the people with whom i had spent my college days started taking life changing decisions. Every month one of my friend was getting married. This will also be the first year where there will be nobody in my college campus who had joined while I was a student. Marriages of close friends in quick succession plays out very funnily . You see your friend circle split into two singles and the rest. To start off the rest are the outcast minority but with every occasion you realise the dynamics are changing and before you know you are hanging out only with your juniors and then their juniors . I guess I am blessed in that – I have no shame and a lot of pride in screaming that while most people had friends restricted to their own batch or one batch up and down, I used to hangout with people across all batches so there is still time before all the juniors are exhausted. I can still refuse to grow up.

If 2013 was seminal to a few of my friends , it shall also be an abnormal year for me. For the first time in four years I am without a job. In spite of loving my job as much as anyone can love their job, I have quit to start my company and figuring out what to do. This brings me to the title of my post -“variables and constants”, life doing a job is like a constant, you have a degree of predictability. If you are working with ethical people, if you do good, you will progress or someone else will be interested in working with you. While if you are trying to build your own, it is like a  game of variables , you really don’t know what they really are till it is too late, you can take your best guess and soldier on. Quite interestingly, some variables are in your control while the others are not.

At times it can be intimidating trying to fathom all the variables governing our lives. For all the criticism vented out at ostriches for hiding in the sand at the sight of trouble, I feel that works well for me.  I have found it better to concentrate on the variable that I have control on rather than the infinite number of them over which I have no control. As a type 2 diabetic with weight issues I had my share of health issues. Having lost over ten kilo- over the last year, I now have some authority on this subject, I found that instead of focussing on my weight it was better to concentrate on how fast I could run and how much. Weight was the outcome that had a lot of variables which I did not fully comprehend while running was a function of variables over which I had full control.  Being 27 and never having had a girl friend is not something I am proud of especially considering my parents  had the guts to marry(elope) defying one set of my grandparents. But the weight loss experiments tells me it’s no shame being the poster boy of “Forever  alone” meme, it sucks that I had not even tried in my life.  Pursuing only 1 girl over a time span of 27 years is not something to be proud of. So here I am trying to ponder what is the variable I should concentrate on.

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travel

A tale of several twisted roads in southern part of India -Part 1

For the uninitiated, I have the last two and half years of my life at a place called Chennai, I also happen to have a mode of transportation called car and a desire to travel called a primal desire. It is a conspiracy of my instincts, opportunity and geographical latitudes that I find myself soaking my eyes in the sun rays bathed in a s sea of green,gold and asphalt. My primal needs to feed my stomach means these changes in wavelength occurs during the days of week we call Saturdays and Sundays. The first of the innumerable excursions was a place which the French left as Pondicherry and the politicians renamed as Puducherry. But for all and sundry, the place was still the affectionate Pondi. The land of good food and great booze.

The journey

At that point of time, I was staying in the outskirts of Chennai at a place called Kelambakkam. Three people from office picked me up from my place at around 2 p.m. Thus started our journey on an A start across the lovely tarmac of East Coast Road.  A good word to describe ECR is scenic and a good word to describe scenic is ECR. The view of clear blue seas separated by arching trees is something that needs to be seen.Every mountain has a peak and every great experience has a peak. The peak for me was staring at the setting sun from a solitary log of wood left stranded on the damp floor of a receding back water. After a few hours of awesomeness, we were in Pondicherry and it was time to go hotel hunting.

The hunt for the hotel 1st January evening is not the best time to search for hotels in Pondicherry. We were on a limited budget which we were determined to spend on booze and food . Everywhere we went we were told to get lost. Finally, we came across a place called Sri Krishna guest house. It was 1000 rupees per room which meant 500 rupees per head. It meant my basic requirements on bathroom hygiene and it had a bed and a nearby street had a place where we could park our car. A single sentence to describe it all was  “a great place to stay”.

Things we did

 

  Food and Drinks The one thing that please me the most was the quality and economics of booze – good booze and great booze. Time to stock up.. have all you want. But booze alone cannot gratify hunger so ‘t was time to gorge on delicious pizzas and french food. A local guide told us the places to go. On day 1 most of the places were full but we found ourselves seated at Theresa’s to gorge on wood baked pizzas. Day 2 was spent at Le Club and few other places. We also went to a beach near Auroville, it had a small nondescript hut called cocos something, it had the most amazing russian salad and bread omelet. For people interested in stocking up booze a good place to go is a whole sale place around the place where the main beach road ends. You will get all you want at a price you can only dream off.Having booze in hotels is not that economical so we had the best of brands in our own small room.

 

Other things: Pondicherry is blessed with a large number of beautiful and bountiful beaches. We had a ride with us so we went to a random beach and spent a long time playing frisbee. After two days of awesome fun, it was time to bid adieu and come back to the city of Chennai. We started early, the other three attended office while I took a day off.

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