highs and lows, etc.

In the left passenger seat of my car today, while it was slowly slithering the hot way to my college (my bike has not yet recovered from an accident), I experienced something like an epiphany. It could’ve been because it’s been a while since I sat really still – the whole of the past two weeks has been a frantic rush to set things straight. So I thought about good things and bad things… and a little time later I had a simple but very moving revelation: I know so many interesting people 🙂

People: who make me laugh, angry, sick, think, sad, amused, confused; who have a thread of ze vital life in them so that when they act I’m so amazed; who have funny bones of brontosauric proportions so I LOL so often; so much of the talented crowd: music crazy band-members, sweet devilish wicked vixens, incredible inspiring coders, people who read, and people who are so, so different from me which only makes them more interesting.

I’m not a person who can maintain a close network of thousands of friends. Like I was bored with Friendster after a week – it brought too much organization to a thing I do not pay much close attention to. But I know lots of people, from my school days onward, people in my college, people I met through organizations I’m a part of, online friends who I met in chat-rooms and forums, people I met through my writing, who emailed me about this site, and all the other little projects that I have going around; I know lots of people! Some of these people I can call good friends… I don’t talk to them everyday, I don’t think about them everyday, but meeting them and talking to them is like a new experience every time, I learn so much from what they think.

An epiphany is a revelation. But it’s also a very cozy feeling of comfort, something almost sublime. I’ve known for some time now that I can’t live as a self-contained universe. But today, I’ve also discovered my happiness in knowing people.

AWOL again! And this time I was setting my affairs back in order. Some loose ends which have been far too loose far too long have now been tied up, and in that process I’ve also rediscovered my love of working.

Yeah, you read that right. Working. Not many people know me today as a compulsive 24×7 workaholic. It’s a role that I’ve not suited into for some time now, but it has always been a part of me, lurking underneath. Here’s a short list of how hard I worked since you last saw me: 😉

I watched Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2 again, in order, and Tarantino continues to impress with his gimmicks. Today I also saw another very nice movie: Things I can Tell Just by Looking at Her. It’s a very amazing concoction of scenes and clean editing that makes it a lovely emotional experience.

I also read a lot. A sweet Irish tale that I can’t remember the name of, the Magician: Apprentice and Master novels; a good amount of non-fiction about the Gujarat riots and Hindu nationalism, and I’m currently plugging through Poul Anderson: The Boat of a Million Years and Avatar and I also read Greg Bear’s second in the Darwin series: Darwin’s Children. Too much to talk about when I’m talking about books, it’s too chaotic right now, I’ll probably mention some gems later.

I took a DVD today featuring Linkin Park’s songs and some extra footage. They are a really great band and the DVD also exposed me to my first multi-angle viewing experience, wherein I can change camera views on the fly; it was really cool :-).

I’ve also got to tell you about QVM, a parallel virtual machine that’s our mini-project this term at college. It’s an amazing framework which allows an end-developer to create an application using the processing power of an entire grid of computers in a local network. Stay tuned to Sig9 for more information about that.

The Terminal

Just finished watching The Terminal, the new Tom Hanks movie. Man, is the guy selective when he looks for a script! Almost all I’ve seen of him are great movies; The Green Mile, Cast Away, Road to Perdition, Catch Me if You Can, Saving Private Ryan, You’ve Got Mail, Forrest Gump, Sleepless in Seattle (that being one of my favorites)… he’s got a resume as long as a mile with those films under his belt, and he’s just about the best mature actor out there (leave out the chick magnets like Brad Pitt and Matt Damon and Tom Cruise, and the adolescent boy wannabes like the Governerator or Mr. Rambo, and there are a few genuinely nice actors out there… like Russel Crowe, or Denzel Washington) and no wonder Spielberg picked him for The Terminal.

The movie has a simple plot, a man gets stuck in an airport terminal because of a crisis in his home country. He has to stay there for a long while, so he starts getting acquainted with the people in the terminal, and things move on from there. Hanks portrays the role of a clueless foreigner to perfection, and he generally fits into his role very smoothly. This movie could have taken a jab at the airport policies of the US, but instead it’s about the people in the terminal and how a man with no money at all can make a living in an airport. It’s an amazing little movie because it has lost opportunities, less than perfect romantic scenes, and an open ending (perhaps for a sequel?). I really liked this.

Oracle Night

Oracle Night by Paul Aster


I’ve been reading so many books nowadays, on and off, that I even forget the good ones I read. For example, it required a google search to bring back the name of the title (and the author!) of Oracle Night. The only thing I could remember was that the cover featured a blue notebook, and that the first name of the author was Paul. Amazingly, ‘paul blue notebook‘ returned the book title, and another search for that led me to the Amazon page. Google is magic in such cases, and to think our children will take this for granted :-).

Well, now on to the book… ;-). As a rule, I don’t like surrealism in writing… it looks okay when you see it in art (and even then you have to squint and so on) but in a book I can barely stand the layer within layer of meaning that every word seemingly implies. So to pull such a thing off without coming across as ‘intellectual’ is a fine art for any author and Auster does that well.

What is surreal in a book? Well in this case, it’s the technique of a story within a story. The protoganist, a struggling novelist Sidney Orr buys a blue notebook and immediately, seemingly bewitched by it, begins a story about a man who after a near-death experience walks out on his old life and starts anew. Orr’s wife Grace however, starts acting strangely after Orr commences his story. The novel is a fine interplay between the novel within the novel, the menage a trois of Grace, Sidney, and his mentor Trause, and between it all the small blue notebook that so enigmatically shapes the events inside it, and even many things in the real world that Orr lives in. And to add to that, Auster’s book has a very familiar blue cover 🙂

Like all such books ought to be, it’s an experiment in collating unrelated things and finding a larger and deeper whole from it. Surrealism in art works because it’s theorized that that’s how the mind works… the few small flashes of insight that we get everyday (and which allows us to learn… anything) are from unconnected things, and most often such works are trying to explore the essence of intuition. Auster succeeds because he doesn’t delve too deeply into it. He takes a very simple situation, introduces a few random variables, and lets the story evolve. The sudden insight that Orr has in the end about his wife (which interestingly he does not validate) is perhaps due to the story that he evolves in the blue notebook. The reader is led through his process of discovery, and after that, when Orr is free of the spell of the notebook, we are free as well… to imagine what will happen in the delicious open ending that Auster provides.

This book is a decidedly special one. I like.

Desktop Envy

Here’s a screenshot of my current desktop:

Desktop SS Thumbnail

Since I’m out set to prove that Windows can make 10x cooler desktops than *nix, this can serve as a proof-of-concept screenshot 😀

Apps shown: BBLean (The Shell [opensource]), Foobar2000 (The Music Player [freeware]), K-Meleon (The Browser [opensource]), and minimized: Shareaza (The P2P App [opensource]), Klipfolio (The Feedreader [freeware]) and Netlimiter (The Bandwidth-Limiter [shareware]).

Gmail Atom Feed

Gmail Atom Feed!

You would have noticed the new Gmail Atom Feed. Here’s how to make it useful:

If you are using Mozilla Firefox, (and you should) there exists a great extension called Sage that can automagically read and format your feeds. It works with RSS 1 and 2 and Atom Feeds, so you can import pretty much any kind of feed content you have. The nice thing in the current context though is that it works perfectly with Gmail. Add the feed to Sage, click on it and viola! voila! Mail notification in a much cooler way 🙂