Wednesday, April 29, 2009

He Knows What I Like

The goal was to groom him - to educate him in ways to predict what would please a person. Any person. To align with their taste. It was a tough task. And there were hundreds of people he was expected to meet with. Thousands even. He had to be better than the others.

They held an open competition to improve him. Open to the whole world. With a million dollars prize money to lure. They could afford it; were sure to reap tenfold from it. He was good already, but they intended to make him better at what he was meant to do. It was all done in a different world. The layman wasn't aware of it. Even if he heard of it, he wouldn't have made note. It all looked mundane on the outside. But there was this small world of select people where it created a furor. Set them rolling.

He was getting better. Enough to earn high praise. It was working. Every day he was making people happy with his work. People were agreeing that he was very good at knowing what they liked, loved even. But the prize is yet to be won. When it is, oh how I want to meet him!


For the lay(wo)man like me, here's more about it. Netflix's suggestions algorithm rocks!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Animal of Habit

For four years she followed a pattern. Finish last exam. Throw clothes into a bag, any bag. Catch that bus, hapofully the fastest one. Rush home. She missed home. She never could figure out what she had found interesting about being away at hostel in all those story books she was given to reading.

Eventually around came the last finals. This time she wasn't in a rush to leave. She had made many friends over the years. She was going to miss them. Dearly. But mixed with the sadness was the anticipation. Of new experiences. Of seas to cross. Of a new way of life.

She fell into a routine again. But the exams were not to be left behind. There she was slogging(?) away. Finally the tests were done. Her heart was soaring! The semester was over!! Suddenly she realized - she was continents away. She couldn't catch that bus back home.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What's Your Vice?

I love shoes. Not because of the extra inches they add - I could never tolerate heels for long so hardly ever try them. Though one of the three pairs I bought today does take me closer to heaven. I don't know what it is about them. I returned a T shirt cos I thought it was way over priced and then went and bought a pair of shoes four times as expensive!

Its just one of those things. Like chocolate cake. Or butterscotch ice-cream. You can never have enough of it. Will there come a day when I get too sick of the sweetness and give up shoe shopping? I hope so. I can't keep splurging on them like I did today! Now don't get me wrong -- I'm not one of those shoezillas who has a couple hundred of them. But I could do shoe shopping any day.

Some people love purses; for me its just an inconvenience - why can't they make decent wallets for girls too? Keeps your hands free. I tried Googling (notice the use of capitals). Why do people obsess with the things they do. The materialistic things. Without much luck.

I'd like to think I will be as happy without. But for now I indulge.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


A voiceless being he is. But powerful enough to catch and hold the attention of people - the vociferous and non-stop doing people. All bending backwards to do his bidding. Pandering to his slightest whim. Embarrassing themselves trying. But hell, who was caring.

What riches did he have to bestow on them? Why were they going gaga trying to please him? Getting on their knees and waiting on him hand and foot. Forgetting their own needs. All for such fleeting acknowledgment; he was sure to forget them the moment they stepped out of sight!

A new born. For one smile, one chuckle on that angelic face.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Enduring Love

Her flirtation with it started when she first got her own wheels - her bicycle. Her freedom. She would pedal, as fast as her short legs could pump. Breezing against the winds to reach the oceans from where the winds came. Carrying the salty taste and smell of fish on them. The oceans which had the power to calm her soul, soothe her thoughts with the gentle splashing of her waves. And wet her legs. She loved getting wet.

Hot summer afternoons spent watering the assorted plants her Mom was in the habit of collecting and planting in their garden. Making rainbows. Filling up those balloons her Dad got for them and splashing her siblings and cousins and getting splashed in retaliation. Dunking in the water tank and stirring up the sediments. Settling in the bucket of warm water she was supposed to be bathing with.. until someone knocked on the door and pulled her out of her reverie.

Daring her cousins into letting her down in the well holding onto a rope; taking a tumble and almost drowning while meandering on a tube in the pool. She was always testing her love. Tugging on the bindings. Embracing it wherever she could. Cooling off at a garden sprinkler on the way back home from a jog. Getting drenched in a downpour. Dipping her legs and soaking in the sauna while on the phone with her friends. Indulging in long showers even when she had to rush for that early morning meeting. Her love for water lasted through the myriad of experiences that was life. Never faltering.

It was time she learned to move with it, loose herself in it. Time for those swimming lessons she'd been planning on forever.

The Observer

The wind. That's what kept the sultry evening sane. It helped too that the sun formed a spectacular background on its path into the night. Kept her thoughts from being inwards. Brought her attention to her surroundings.
It was a posh plaza -- a few upscale restaurants and some tasty options for desserts. The people all looked happy. Not bothered by the economy and its woes. The lucky ones. A kid walked by leading his father, whose hand he held. With an uncommon expression on his face. A wondering, quizzical expression. As if everything he was looking at was new; being filed away in his tiny brain. His first glimpses of life.
Sitting at one of the tables set outside, her thoughts were for once outside of herself. On how good the simple food tasted. How nice the breeze felt. Spring almost past, summer setting in. Watching people pass by. Each engrossed in their own world. Bustling of a mundane evening.
Life everywhere was brightening up again.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Slaves

They walked on and on, almost aimless; their destination no where in sight; just following their noses. Following the strict discipline imposed. Discriminated for their size - made to work like slaves; without rewards. The stronger ones got to be the "soldiers". Fates had smiled on them. And the queens. The drones had it good too.. eat the juiciest morsels, rub noses with the queens and live life to the fullest before going out in a blaze! Short and sweet. The queens - the blessed ones, with their wings of freedom distinguishing them from the others; with the whole kingdom (or should it be queendom) pandering to them.

If they were lucky, they got promoted - got to even have their own brood one day. That was a privilege. That's how the situation was. If they were lucky. But the fates had shown some mercy - their plight was not long lived. The queens outlived them ten fold.

They lived their days out expanding their territory; braving the wild and foraging for food. They were good trackers -- their sense of smell enhanced. They were clever; could optimize their work - find the shortest routes. But to what end? To make time for more work? They were undaunted though. And used their gifts. Selflessly. Even in death warning the others of dangers ahead.


If I were a slave ant I'd probably lead a revolt and overthrow the caste system the very next day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mind n Body

A bright new day! Have to get out and do something..
The luxury of lying in bed late into the day! wish I could stay this way forever..

maybe I should finish watching that movie from yesterday night..
the sheets are so comfortable.. mmm....

nice movie, bit preachy in the end.. what next?
done already? whats that crick in the neck... need to adjust the pillows.

call the junta, see if we can set up something, volleyball maybe? gotta get out..
the stomach sure is feeling it.. maybe time to go get some grub.. or maybe not..

the lazy bugger, move out of the bed!
hmm,,... have to get up.. stomach calls! one last stretch..

and so meet Mind and Body and move on with the day attending to each other...

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Engineer and The..

She woke up with a smile on her face. Sunlight diffusing through the blinds, reflecting off of the glass and metal jewelry lying around on the dresser. She pulled the sheets a little closer, her toes sticking out. Watching the shadows change form in the light wind; getting her bearings.


She woke up with a smile on her face. Morning rays of a summer sun escaping through the blinds, playing tricks with the trinkets lying on the dresser. She snuggled in the blankets, her toes peeping out. Watching the morning breeze play with the light - shifting shadows; gathering her thoughts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Now Then

I once had a pen friend. A memory almost lost in the depths. Every letter from her was long awaited and anticipated. Flitting to the gate on spying the mailman. Exchanging pleasantries with him. The joy on receiving a letter savored for a fortnight. Each sheet was read and reread. Almost memorized. Post cards from exotic places. With stamps on them to collect.

Now I get emails. A dozen a day. I interact with the web page. I monitor the page all day long. Anticipated but never for long; it just takes a couple of seconds for it to reach me. Never memorized; they're just a login away. And links to uploaded photos from trips to foreign lands. (wonder what people did before picasaweb & flickr & etc., tea parties?)

Chance encounters were longed for - now they're just a ping and maybe continents away. Wonder if a friend was thinking about you - whats to wonder, monitor the tracker on your blog. Meet up at coffee shops - rendezvous on IM. Family time with board games was fun - log into yahoo games to play with the world.

Would I exchange the now for the then? In a jiffy. Never in a lifetime.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

As days go..

We set out for a trip to Big Sur with some bbq and bon fire in the agenda. All decided just the day before and hence obviously with no reservations or pre-planning. We were supposed to have set out by 12pm. But as seems a norm for us it was about 2:30pm by the time we finally got on the road.

A bright sunny day; we had high spirits and good old music -- nostalgic music. Stopped at a couple of places on the way to enjoy the views and the beaches. Lovely day. Blue skies and bluer waters. Sand like warm massaging beads under the feet, Love walking on the beach. Shades making for some really cool 3-D effects on the crashing waters. Finally reached out destination. Only to encounter a big board at the entrance to the park - "Campsite full". We had intended to barbeque, drink and warm up around the campsite fire before setting off to the beaches - being CA, there weren't many other options for a pit-fire. Undaunted, we drove up to the checkpoint where this guy on foot beat us to the window and exchanged cash with the lady at the counter. We were quite mad at him for having cut in before us... only to later realize he had actually just cancelled and got a refund. We got the last camp site through cancellation!! Drove out to the parking lot waving to the n cars patiently waiting in q behind us at the checkpoint.

After a crazy hour of freezing - wading through thigh high water and cutting through chilly breezes to a nearby beach and an aborted attempt at playing volleyball, we beat a hasty retreat back to the campsite and set about building our fire. Had a lovely dinner and complimented it with marshmallows and chocolate. And some nice wine. Just in time to be accosted by the park Ranger. The site was meant for 4 and we were 14! She was a very nice lady though and helped us get our stuff back to the cars which were a good hike away -- with us originay having no idea on how to get back in the dark star studded night.

Stopped at a beach we had scoped out earlier in the day. Just as a couple of faceless strangers, who'd built a fire there, decided to leave. It was a nice and warm fire, exactly what we needed. Laid down for some time and listened to the waves gently crashing on the shore. The fire a warm blanket all the time. Was the perfect moment to just feel, not think.

Pehla Nasha. Thats been my favourite song for hazy rides at night. Ever since we belted it out one night long ago after a friends bachelor party. Never loses its charm. was just our day. And night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Acknowledgement

I've always been happiest while playing something. Anything. Ping-pong, volleyball, badminton, scrabble, pictionary, cranium... and all the n things I dig up. Or my friends dig up.

I meant to write about how "play" is what I like best. But while writing I got to thinking -- is it really that? Do I ever go out there by myself and have as much fun as I do when I hang out with friends? Doing whatever it is we end up doing.

Hanging around the house doing nothing but just relaxing and watching a movie together. Going hiking on the coldest of days. Driving all the way to the city for a music gig just to get turned away at the door due to a sell out. Testing each others reflexes with ping-pong. Going for real long and drunken lunches and topping it off with a crazy drive -- all on working days. With girlfriends -- dressing up just for the sake of it. Going shopping; window shopping. Restaurant hopping -- picking up fav foods from fav places and making a meal of it. Exchanging favourite song links. Freezing your butt on a powdery evening having a snowball fight and burying each other in the stuff. Going to those dance clubs you're sure to come out of totally deaf. Get high on excitement, enuf to run into ice-cold beaches just for the fun of it. Foray into beaches at restricted hours and ending up on the most breathtaking setting ever (I'll never forget that night in Big Sur). Decide at 3am to make it a night out and catch the sunrise! Getting drunk on a camping trip and bellowing out all the picnic songs you learn at school. Walking to downtown on a cloudy night to get some hot-chocolate and ending up walking through murky canal water in a downpour :D

Its definitely friends that make life exciting. So here's to all my friends -- you are the best!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Destined for Another Day

There's one highlight on the road home that I really enjoy in my car -- a circular ramp off the highway 101 onto Montague Expressway. I am always trying to see if I can beat my old speed on it. Ignoring the suggested mph. And then before that there is the lesser interesting ramp onto 101 highway. Hardly worth talking of.

It was a lovely day yesterday -- the lightest of drizzle keeping the trees and air fresh. Green. With gray & white clouds. I think its my current fav combination -- fresh green and gray. Not enough rain to get soaked or worry that I had open sandals on. Almost so less, one would forget it was raining. Had a lovely dinner with a friend who decided to ditch her husband for the night in favour of some nice hot mirapkai bajji and gobi manchurian and my very entertaining company.

Was in high spirits on the way home. As usual. Music blasting. As usual. And then it happened. At the ramp onto 101. My FWD decided to hydroplane and went into a skid. All of 360 degrees. Lucky that there wasn't anyone driving right behind and that I have a very small car -- not big enough to hit the wall right next to the ramp (why's there a wall there again?). Lucky to have the lesser ramp.

My car is destined to be my wheels for another day. Atleast. Unscathed. I've decided to name her.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Sense" our way out of a funk

Did anyone ever try that? and I'm not talking about dimming your senses by getting drunk and forgetting your worries :P But about using your five senses -- smell, hearing, taste, touch & sight to get to a happier state.

I still remember how I used to wait to "smell" home after any long trip away. I think that first whiff of "home" is what settles me back to a sense of belonging and relaxation. The smell of earth after the first shower, the rainbow, the smell of wild roses, a vase arrangement (my sis is soo good at making a bunch of ordinary looking leaves and some flowers look beautiful), a beautiful sunset, stars in the silvery night sky (thanks BK for reminding me they twinkle), the moon on gently crashing waves, lavender, the songs I like to hear again & again, someone practicing an instrument in the background, the touch of satin, silk, or plain cotton for comfort (I need everything touching me to be cotton to really fall into a deep sleep!), a kiss, a hug, that yummy chocolate chocolate cake at Prolific Oven, rasam with ghee, pappu with pickle, a ton of other stuff I can think of which can send me to my happy place! Do I use them to make myself feel better? Not sure I do...

Or there's plain old shopping to take care of it anytime! Its surprising how that gets me out of a bad mood real quick -- wonder how they explain it off scientifically.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Defunct Nose?

Recently I was on the hunt for a new perfume and I enlisted (or was it forced?) my friends to help me pick one. My nose hasn't been of much use to me since the time I was in an accident a few years back and I was solely depending on their senses to pick the right scent. Despite of a few grumps & some dragging steps, they were game and we ended up at a mall one day and after a lot of sprays & sniffs decided the "Notorious" from Ralph Lauren was the best of the lot.

Since I had four friends helping me pick, I was sure I had made the correct choice and didn't hesitate in going home, ripping off the packaging and putting it to use right away. I have since been strutting around all content with the knowledge that I was smelling good. I might have even done a few of the scenes from the deo ad where the girl goes waving her hand high up in the air just to show off my new perfume and solicit compliments.

The place I stay at currently -- we have a cleaning lady coming in once in a month to help out with things. She was here this Sunday and very diligently went about her work moving things around and dusting under the various creams, sprays, boxes, clips, bands, perfumes and the odd jewelry I have lying around the restroom. I was so happy to have a clean shower to go into again this morning and generally felt good that the whole place was back to a spic & span state. In the misty haze after an hour long shower I reached out for the perfume, which was turned in a different angle from normal, just right to be able to read "Ralph Lauren Romance, Always Yours"!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I once got a book with an inscription - "Hope this brings the smile back to your face when you are down". A good friend of mine saw this and said "I hope you never have to use that book". That's when I started wondering why I was touched by the note before!

Does that mean I have accepted "bad times" as part and parcel of things? Does that reflect on how optimistic I am?! Hmm, now there is a thought... Or does it just mean I am realistic?

Come to think of it I do do a lot of second guessing -- always mapping out the possibilities and playing it "safe". There have been times when I get carried away and do crazy stuff; when thought is blocked and I live for the moment; when I throw caution to the wind and dive right in. But. When in my saner moments I think and think again and think some more and sometimes (or is it most times?) let things lie in the interest of self preservation.

Am I holding out on experiencing? Am I missing opportunities? When in the process of growing up did I start learning to be cautious -- expecting bad as one of the possibilities?

I should try throwing caution to the wind one day! (and make sure all the risky factors are out of the way on that day) -- is the thought that came to head right after!! :D

I hope.

Friday, April 3, 2009


No its not about the creepy crawlies which get lodged in your ear in a swimming pool! Actually happened to my brother once :P

This is about "morning raaga" -- not about the movie though(its a nice one btw and you should watch it if you haven't already). Its the phrase I've borrowed for the song which catches your attention in the morning and you end up hearing it again and again and again over the day. Till you get tired of it! :D

You might wake up with this song stuck in your head; hear it on the radio on the way to work; someone humming it while you chanced to pass by -- wherever it comes from, it refuses to leave!

Apparently people have been researching it! Check this out.

And here is my morning raaga for today. Whats yours?

Thursday, April 2, 2009


For the longest time, traveling was synonymous with a train journey for me. The very first memory I have of being on a train is from the day Indira Gandhi was assassinated. I remember there being a lot of commotion and discussions. At the time it had no significance for me.

I don't know why I should have remembered that now - I had intended this post to be a homeage of sorts to my love for train journeys! But atleast it sets a time-line to how long I've been travelling by trains! Let me try and capture my intentions here on :)

We'd mostly go and visit my Grandparents over vacations and this entailed about 13hrs of traveling by train. All those innumerous trips with family must have paved the path for this love of train journeys. The thrill of holding your face to the window; standing at the door of the compartments; feeling the rhythm of the engine (I had to add this -- to me the beat in O Saya captures the rythm to a perfection). Singing songs; eating the yummy yummy ullipai samosas (onion samosas) the vendors keep hawking; poories with kobbari podi (coconut powder all spiced up) Amma makes that are a must for such trips :); jostling for the window seat; falling asleep to the gentle sway of the berths. Meeting new people. Betting with siblings on the next station to come. Watching out for our uncles as our destination approached; being the first to spot them; the joy in meeting up again. I even have a hangover from travelling by trains! a sort of rocking feeling for a couple of hours after.

Even to this day I always prefer to travel by train if I have the time on my hands -- in the non ac compartments; you can't open the windows in the ac ones!

I've been told the Coast Starlight between LA and Seattle is a breathtaking journey. Looking forward to making this trip sometime soon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I was on my way back to the US via Chennai. I didn't have a printout of my airline ticket confirmation -- in Chennai you need that as a minimum to step into the airport. Even to get to the ticket counter. We were already out of the house and resorted to asking a friend (not mine) who lives on the way if we could stop by and print it out. Being short on time (hey I was wayyy ahead of time by US standards) I was asked to give my email password to this friend so he could have the printout ready for us!! It was like the ultimate sacrifice for me. I tried to reason out that it wasn't necessary but eventually had to pass on the information.

My email -- to someone to whom I'm a stranger there's probably nothing interesting in there. I would probably not even end up meeting this person ever again in my whole life. So even if he did take a peek, would it have mattered much? Probably not.

But for the whole duration of the flight back, there was only one thing on my head -- I need to change my password ASAP! And boy was I relieved when I reached my brothers place and finally got a chance to do just that.

What is with humans and hiding their personal thoughts & actions? Why are we embarrassed in public of what we are bold with in private?