Saturday, October 30, 2004


There is only one constant thing. Everyone, everywhere is bored. It goes to prove that boredom is not a function of time, place or position but of the mind. My friends in India are bored despite the fact that they are all working full-time and are in over their heads with lotsa work. I am bored sitting here in the US and doing my MS. So it doesn't come as a relief to me to know that I will be bored even if I start working.
Now, there are these few gifted jeevans who are not bored. I told my roomie that I was tremendously bored. She told me that it was boring to get bored daily!! I scratched my head and thought about that....Perhaps one day I will get bored of boredom.
And another thing is that everyone, everywhere is lonely. All of a sudden, when you get out of college, somehow this menace creeps in. Everyone is complaining that they don't have a friend they can talk to daily and share things. Reason: everyone's busy. I was of the opinion that this malaise affects only those in the US. But in India, it is the same deal.
So finally my gyaan for the day: Better stop blogging about nothing and get back to reading RFC 1771 about BGP...(sigh)....

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

False God Syndrome

Apparently, all or a majority of us suffer from False God Syndrome. Apparently, we think everyone else is having a free ride while we are the only ones having all kinds of problems in life. This is supposed to cause all kinds of stress related problems. I confess I've been in this boat many times..well now, I have a name for it (as if it is any consolation!).

Favourite Things...

1. Lazing on the bed after the alarm has gone off...
2. Love it when pets cuddle up with me....
3. Smell of wet sand....
4. Colors black and royal blue.....
5. Aloo Mutter and Kashmiri Naan (Always my favorite!)
6. Quake III (with cheats on!) and NFS II (God on the Country Woods Track with El Nino!! Beat my bro everytime we ever raced that track!!)
7. Adrenalin rush of success....
8. Laughing till tears flood my eyes...
9. Action movies....
10. Actors Madhavan (who else??!) and Surya......
11. Sourav Ganguly, Shoaib Akhtar, Steve Waugh......
12. Tamil gaana songs....
13. Traveling on Electric trains in Chennai....
14. The countryside in the Madurai-Theni area....
15. Temples of Tamilnadu....
16. Well sung songs.....

I think that's already toooooooooooooo many...the list could go on....

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Casa Fiesta

Had Mexican food at Casa Fiesta- Cheese Enchiladas and Rice. Actually, the rice tasted like our own Indian Tomato rice. Watching Kyun! Ho Gaya Na....absolutely no chemistry between Vivek and Ash. And Aishwarya doesn't suit the role....she is not naturally bubblicious. And wah re wah, Ash's style of handshaking ka to kuch jawab hi nahin, yaar! It is like this: you just extend your arm straight out toward the person's face. It is as if the face is going to handshake..or maybe, I should say faceshake...whatever. I am spouting a lot of nonsense....

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Vengaya Sambar and Samosas!

I have invited a friend over for dinner tonight. I started cooking rather gingerly. Recently, I seem to have acquired this habit of putting too much salt in everything. I add only a pinch but somehow that pinch becomes too much! I made rasam the other day and when I tasted it, it was like I had made it out of sea water!!! Anyways, to make a long story short, I was very careful with my salt today and the result is pretty good...
Oh and I tried Vazhaikkai curry today for the first time in my life and it has turned out very well.

Here's the menu today:
Entree: Samosas (courtesy, my roomie)
Vazhaikkai Curry
Onion Sambar
Garlic rasam

So, how has my Sunday gone? As usual, doing nothing...just slept and slept and cooked and now eating and then sleeping......

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sick of the "War" on terror

The one thing that has always unsettled me is that people tend to think too much in simplistic terms. Good Vs. Evil. Black Vs. White. America Vs. Bad Guys. This also goes to the Sept 11 attacks. When journalists and Americans talk of how 9/11 "fundamentally changed the world", it sometimes palls on you. It is this fundamental idea that somehow the happenings in America are going to "change the world" and so we should "crusade" to protect the world that is nauseating to many around the globe. It is not as though terrorism was born after 9/11. Terrorism has tormented millions before 9/11, continues now and will continue to do so in the future. Millions lose their lives to explosives and misguided ideologies everyday. Lives, infrastructure, dreams, hopes are shattered by terrorists. In India, we have terrorist attacks everyday in Kashmir. The 1993 blasts in Mumbai, Parliament attack in 2002, the Swaminarayan Temple affair in Gujarat, LTTE attacks in TN, recently the attacks near the Taj hotel in Mumbai........ the list is long and weary. So many Indians lost their lives. But then, we are supposed to respond in a "mature" fashion. Even when there is a blatant attack like Kargil, we are supposed to practice "restraint" and "caution" and act "wisely". Oh no, India can't attack anyone like the mighty US can at will. I mention the case of India because I am Indian. I am sure every other country has the same problems.
The point I am trying to make is that 9/11 did not herald the birth of terrorism. It merely struck home forcefully. So people should stop acting like it is a fundamental world-changing event. America is a nation well-protected by its natural boundaries. It has fought all wars abroad, none at home. And politicians grew complacent in that fact and pursued policies they knew wouldn't have any physical, literal impact back home. Well, 9/11 just proved that wrong. The message it sent was: You think you are invincible at home? Well, no more. When journalists say that the effect of 9/11 was more psychological than anything else, it is so true. Well, immediately America had to be seen as taking action and now we are in the middle of a big mess in Iraq and Afghanistan and none the safer for it. The "caution", "restraint" and the "maturity"...where did they all go when home is attacked and the blood that is shed is one's own??!!!
9/11 was bad. 3500 innocent lives were lost which is really upsetting. But it is not such a life-altering event for others around the globe who are used to such devastating losses. So Bush and others should stop pretending they can't understand why there is anger against Bush the world over. Terrorism is real, yes. You got to know of it only now.
As for myself, I am sick of hearing about this topic. It is like nothing else is more important. As Ian Malcolm put it so aptly in Jurassic Park, "Life will find a way".

Monday, October 18, 2004

Honor among Vending Machines

We have this finicky vending machine in the basement of our office building. Somedays, it won't give you anything for your money and somedays it will give you two for the price of one. A couple of weeks back, it held back a Lays potato chips packet I wanted. I tried banging, wriggling my hands through and a lot of things but it refused to spew it out. Well today, I went downstairs and I found a woman doing acrobatics to reach through and grab her Cheetos packet. I think the vending machine is not a morning person. Anyways, I tried to help the woman and put in 40 cents to get gum and push the Cheetos along the way out. Guess what happened? The Cheetos packet didn't budge but the cranky vending machine gave me two gum packs! I guess it was compensating me for my loss of a couple of weeks back. There's honor even among vending machines.....hmph.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Compelling Quote

I was browsing through MIT's vast free Virtual Access resources when I came across Bartleby's Online Books page. I found this quote staring at me in the face on the home page and found it just too apt and too compelling on the eve of the final Presidental debate:

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
John Quincy Adams

By the way, grad students, do check out MIT's Virtual Courseware. They have all the courses, lecture notes, reading lists, assignments and projects for the courses they offer. Really neat.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Winds of Change

I feel I have changed a lot over the past year or two. There was a time when I was really sensitive and used to agonize over a lot of things: comments, little mistakes, stupid little happenings. But these days, it doesn't bother me so much. I have just learnt to take it in my stride and move on. Of course, I am sensitive even now at times. Undeserved rudeness and harsh words from some can still put me off but I guess I just look past them easily. Another common cliche I've heard often but never understood: "shifting sands of life". I never truly fathomed the meaning of this until recently. Way back during my 9th grade, I was part of this great group of friends- 5 in all. Amongst them, I was very close to a couple of girls and I thought I could never be as close with any of the others. That was true then. Now, after 10 years, one of them rang me up. She is in the US on deputation with a company. We were chatting away forever! And we found ourselves sharing a lot of personal things, laughs, sorrows, upsets. And she is one of the people I thought I couldn't be really close to. We were heady competitors in the academic arena back in school, fighting over ranks and prizes and quizzes and we had a lot of disagreements. Somehow, all that seems rather insignificant and funny in retrospect. We've planned to meet up soon. As to the other girls, I am not in touch with them.
I guess it is true that there are no permanent enemies or friends in life. People change. Relations change. And if we have the gift of a bad memory (as I do), life's an all-you-can-eat buffet.
There's one thing I've learnt and that is to never reject a hand of friendship. Sometimes, we tend to live on memories and feel comfortable with our established set of friends and turn away new relations. There's nothing more regrettable in life because you never know when you will be an "outsider" searching for a friendly word, a friendly smile or just a caring "how do you do?" from somebody.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Lunch at Frankfort

I had to go to Frankfort for a meeting last Tuesday. For those not in the know, Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky. As almost all US state capitals go, it is just a small town. It was a lovely day and the scenic beauty was truly breathtaking. The area where I went is the old Frankfort area which is truly village like in its style of buildings and environs. I felt as though I were in some European countryside village. In such an atmosphere, one tends to forget that I am in the US of A! Had lunch at the Kentucky Coffeetree House. This again was an old-style cafe. The inside of the cafe was styled as a library-like used book store. There were plumpy sofas and spare tables for those who preferred that style and the tables were interspersed between the aisles of used books. And we were served in a straw basket. I had butter scones, Three bean salad and a coffee called Autumn Breeze (most appropriate for the season!). I had never tasted scones in my life before except reading about them as being part of an English tea. I had cinnamon scones with butter and boy, were they a delight!!! And I found some real classics in the store like Virgil's Aeneid and Homer's Odyssey and many, many more......Of course, the idyll has to end somewhere. So I had to get back to the Univ and classes and assignments and deadlines and blah, blah, blah.....

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bad day!

It is one of those days. Nothing goes right. I search frantically for everything from my wallet to clothes this morning. I forgot where I put some important papers. My boss e-mails me about some stuff I should get done by the end of the week and my supervisor tells me I might not be able to work tomorrow. And I have an assignment that is getting on my nerves. And to cap it all off, the Campus network has blocked my IP because I have a virus on my computer. So I can't access the net from home! And there's a strong possibility that I might have to move from my present apartment at the end of this year which is just one more headache out of many.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Kool Kerry Vs. Grumpy George

Well, the library is hell bent on charging me a fine for a book I didn't lose. The funny thing is that I was told that I had to pay a $65 fine as cost for the book + $20 as overdue fines. I asked that if the book is lost, then where does this issue of overdues come in?? And I am being told that there will also be costs to cover the "overhead" involved in searching for my book within library premises and paying the search party!! I thought that is what the salary that the University was paying the library people was for! Anyways, so I am incurring a cost for a book on philosophy that I didn't read at all and didn't lose (the fact being that I returned it promptly because it bored the jeepers out of me).
Bush seemed certain in the debate yesterday. Russell wrote, "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Whether he is a fool or a fanatic or both, I leave you to decide. Kerry was cool whilst Bush was ruffled. All in all, a good 90 mins worth of entertainment. And somehow Kerry seemed to understand that no matter how strong you are, you cannot go it alone. Strength does not guarantee success. Perhaps Bush has to take lessons from corporate America about teamwork (I do think Bush went to Harvard business school?? Didn't they teach him about teamwork?). And Kerry seemed more patient and willing to wait and make long term changes in the world order than Bush who just wants to shuffle the power balance anywhere and everywhere whenever he feels like it.
Being directly involved in a war definitely changes life perceptions. Kerry has it. I can relate to it in a much smaller scale from my own experiences(of course, I haven't been in any life threatening war or situation though sometimes it seemed that way to me when I was in high school and the High School Italian mafia threatened to trip me in the hallway!!!).
Meanwhile, while I am sitting here blogging, I have a lot of unfinished things on my agenda like laundry, homework, papers.....