Friday, October 9, 2009

The opposites.

She wanted it all. The sun, the moon, the stars. Every morning she woke up and started thinking of all she could do to get closer to her goal. Every evening she drove home thinking of slip-ups and opportunities lost during the day. The focus and ambition was both exhausting and addictive. People must have seen it in her eyes, her stride, her words. She wanted the world and she was ready to do whatever it took to get it.

The Romantic
He looked at her as she walked in and held the look. Her only interest in him was the work he did and how he might help furthen her goals. She went by him to exchange a few words, only because it helps to network. He suggested an evening out. He had traveled the world, South America, China, India, Thailand and many more. He spoke of hobbies and passions instead of organization structure. He reminded of her younger years. He even suggested clandestine getaways to wine making lands.

Start of a romantic novel? Page from my diary? Page from a friends diary? Does it matter? Ideas flowed and thus was a blog post made..

Saturday, February 7, 2009


They run through my mind like scurrying ants. Totally random. Completely pointless. Rather keep the mind bogged down with amusing thoughts than let it fall prey to people-judging, comparing, self elevating and people deprecating ones. So here goes. A compilation of some of the analogies I've come up with.

Driving on a jam packed freeway

Do you stay put on the slow moving lane, not think of it too much, enjoy the ride, the radio, the company? Or do you constantly plan and make lane changes so as to reach your destination in the shortest possible time? Moreover, do you ride on the right-turn-only lane so that you can get ahead of the rest and cut in up ahead? Do you drive at the fastest possible speed that won't get you a ticket?

It all seems so similar to how people live their lives. Some of them like the chase. They have this need to get ahead. They'll do everything possible to get there, faster than the others, ahead of the others. Others like their life just the way it is. They don't think the benefits of making a change is worth the trouble. Or they just plain don't want to think. Especially when all is going smooth just the way it is.

I personally think both styles are perfectly fine. Who do I associate myself with? I alternate.

You can keep adding more aspects to this analogy. A five hour long drive, all by myself gave me enough material to write a thesis on this topic.

The rate at which to consume the limited amount of side dish you have

Think chapaties and a limited amount of sabzi. You don't want to finish the sabzi too early least you have to eat the last few morsels of your chapati all by itself. You don't want to be too careful and have sabzi left over even after the chapti is gone. You wouldn't then have derived the most relish out of the dish. (There is this third option where you can show complete apathy and not really care, which is probably what most of you would be doing. Depth lacking, non-thinkers you. I quote Monthy Python when I say, "I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of old elderberries!".)

Seems so similar to saving for the future. You don't want to be too parsimonious. What's the point if you are gone and there is money left. Neither do you want to reach a state of all the money being gone and, well, you being left. To spend at just the right rate so as to optimally utilize all that you make.

Homework doing. Team up or go solo.

"You could submit your homework in pairs", the Professor said. "Fewer papers to grade would make my life easier". I look around. One girl I know. Something tells me she has her partner picked out. Either ways, the proposition of pairing up with her doesn't interest me too much. I wait through a few classes. A couple of weeks pass and the first homework is around the corner. Still no success in finding my partner. Then one class, on one of those 'need-to-get-business-done' days, I notice a guy next to me reading a tech magazine. Cool I think. The class over, I ask him if he's interested in joining forces. "Why not", he says.

Till date, the move to pair up has proved beneficial. I don't know if I could have done better. One thing is for sure, it's definately worked out better than going solo. I think to myself, 'is this how marriages work?'. You never know if you could have done better, but you are sure to do better with someone than without? It's possible that a you might have been able to build a stronger team but it's certain that a team will be stronger than the individuals by themselves? The catch however is, how alike are the goals. The sum of two vectors in the direction of one of the vectors will greater than the original vector only if the angle between the vectors is less than 90 degrees.

Do we then continue on this line of reasoning and conclude that a "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" scenario would be even more beneficial?

These words from the Sunscreen video come to mind.

"Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t,
maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t,
maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…
what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either
your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s."

"Half chance", she said. She wants to take it. I'm a safe player.

On a completely different note, to all the men out there (in case you haven't already come across this list), this. Don't judge me.

And ladies. How could I ever forget you. This and this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It's been a while since I posted. Graduate life does not leave you with too much spare time. It does give you a fair amount of time to think (since you have no money to do much else), just not enough time to be amusing. The following are some of the insights I've had over the past few months.

Time spent studying to performance graph

Speed of work is inversely proportional to time to deadline.

Happiness = e^x
A friends insight this one. Say something makes you happy at a point of time. After a while you get used to the feeling. Then, you're no longer as happy as you were at the earlier instant. You need something better/bigger/different to make you happy again.
Happiness = Derivative of happiness, he said.
This line from Grey's Anatomy made sense. "Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop." It's all about the change.
PS: Here I speak only of external sources of happiness.

The fight
"TA ke liye fight nahi mara", he asked. "Didn't you put up a fight for a TA", it translates to. Fight? I thought. Is that what it takes? Is that why some get ahead of others? (We can discuss what we want to define as "ahead" in a later post) Because they fight for it?

It's a double edged sword, this competition. It gets you to work really hard and achieve great things. You probably end up leading a miserable life.

For respect or envy?
Is everything we do just so that we have the envy or respect of others? Just so that others think of us as an awesome, all knowing or accomplished (whichever floats your boat) person? If that is the case, and it can't be helped, I'd rather work for respect than envy.

Stable matching
I've mentioned the stable matching algorithm in an earlier post. The classic example involves pairing men and women. The conditions to be satisfied and the algorithm to get there is explained here. I wonder if real life works this way as well. Men propose to woman starting from the lady on the top of their "preferred women list". If rejected, they move on to their next preference. Women trade up. Whenever proposed by a man higher up on their "preferred men list", they break their current pairing and pair up with this new person. (This analogy does bring out women in bad light). The point to be noted is, this algorithm is "male-optimal and female-pessimal", which translates to, "each man is paired with his highest ranked feasible partner and each female is paired with her lowest ranked feasible partner". Women, think. Maybe this tells us something. Maybe we ought to change how we work. Maybe actively seek rather than passively wait?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tattva galore.

The cat lived a long dull life.

"If ignorance is bliss why do we seek knowledge?", the contestants of Miss India contest were asked.

Oscar Wilde says, "It is a sad thing to think of, but there is no doubt that genius lasts longer than beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over educate ourselves. In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. The throughly well informed man-that is the modern ideal. And the mind of the thoroughly well informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-bric shop, all monsters and dust with everything priced above its proper value."

As kids we are encouraged to have a healthy sense of curiosity. The kid with most questions is considered to have the more agile and sound of minds. As we grow older, people grow less tolerant of incessant questioning. Curiosity goes from an appreciated quality to an annoying one. Yet, you learn only if you are curious and ask questions. So, where do you draw the line when it comes to question asking and curious being?

Favor bank

One of the characters in the book Bonfire of the Vanities talks of how the entire criminal justice system works on a concept called "favor bank". Whenever a person does a favor for another, it is thought of as deposits made to this bank. One makes deposits whenever one can. That way, when the need arises, one gets to make withdrawals. I was lead to wonder if real life works this way as well. If the reason we make friends, care and do so much for them is so that they'll be there when we need them. It was a depressing thought.

Judge a person based on his brains and not his beauty?

Brains is as much a genetically acquired quality as beauty is. For that matter, any quality is probably genetically acquired. I guess the solution would be to stop judging.

A ghazal by Jagjit Singh goes, "Parakhna mat parakhne main koi apna nahin rehta". It translates to, "don't judge. No one remains your own in the process." This is a crappy translation but it pretty much conveys his message.

If you speak everything you think you must be seriously devoid of thoughts.


Currently reading Far from the Madding Crowd. The introduction to the book says, "Far from the Madding Crowd is the book that made Hardy famous, and it is the sunniest and least brooding of his great novels." Those are not exactly encouraging words. I told this to a friend. He said he would gift me Hardy's other works.

Marissa Mayer's keynote at Google I/O developers conference here. Nice insight into how they work at Google. Wiki says she was the first female engineer hired at Google. I'm envious.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The art of conversation making

"Conversation like television on honeymoon. Unnecessary."
has been one of my all time favorite quotes. Whether I think conversation to be unnecessary because I'm not too good at it or if I'm not too good at it because I think it to be unnecessary is.. a chicken and egg question(of sorts).

All said and done, you sometimes have this urge to talk to people even when you have nothing to say. I have been flexing my conversation starting skills lately. Needless to say I haven't achieved too much success. Considering the fact that my past attempts involved questions like, "So. You ever tried running away from home when you were a kid" and "Did you ever have an imaginary friend", the fact that the people I tried conversing with didn't think I was a freak was, in itself, a feat.

For lack of better ways of keeping myself amused I've tried to categorize the various conversation starting/making strategies. Some of these I've actually tried out. Some were tried on me. Accompanying them are also the replies that ran through my mind when the statements/questions were made/asked.

1. The skill of observation making.

1a) I walked by the cube of a colleague reading something.

Me: Reading I see..
Ideal reply: Making obvious observations I see..

1b) Walked by the cube of a colleague heading home with his bike.

Me: Ah. Heading home I see.
Ideal reply: Na. Taking my bike out for a stroll.

2. The art of incessant question asking.

She: What are you watching?
Me: The news.
She: Oh. You watch it regularly?
Me: More like randomly.
She: So. How many of you went for the movie?
Me: 5.
She: Who all?
Me: A, B, C, D.
She: Oh. And who organized it?
Me: A.
She: Oh. Which movie.
Ideal reply: Jenna Jameson the Masseuse.

3. The concern strategy.

Question: Hey, how have you been?
Ideal reply: I would rather die than lead the pathetic life that I currently do. My girlfriend thinks I'm a loser and is with me only because she has nowhere else to go, my friends have stopped talking to me since I stopped buying them lunch and sometimes the boredom and ennui of this vacuous existence makes me want to jump in front of a moving train.

That's all I have come up with so far. To all the women out there(and the men who don't get bored easy): This.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may"

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today;
Tomorrow will be dying."

From this poem by Robert Henrrick. The poet asks young women to nail themselves a man before their beauty fades. Sigh. Even 17th century poets seem to be bent on rubbing in the fact that a woman's beauty is but a fleeting asset. Also the nailing a man part.

I was home spending a not-exactly-happening Friday evening when I decided to occupy myself with a movie. The movie of choice; "Dead Poets Society."

Sigh. I guess you're just more susceptible to getting carried away by words, romance, and happy ideas on a Friday evening.

"Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I'll show you a happy man.", said the cynic.
"But only in their dreams can men be truly free. 'Twas always thus, and always thus will be.", said Mr. Keating(Robin Williams).

"And not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

"We must constantly look at things a different way"

"Most men lead lives of quite desperation"

"Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary. "

Robin William kicks ass (like he always does). You also find a young Robert Sean Leonard who also stars in House MD as the best friend and a unfaithful husband. James Williams... Sigh..

Director: Peter Weir. Also the director of "The Truman Show".

" "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? "

"My verse?", I thought.
"Blow the trumpet, blow it loud. Let the world know you're around."
(I know what blowing your trumpet means. I'm not an idiot, as much as a lot of you would like to believe. Especially you. Why *this* particular line? Because it came to me at the time. And *more* importantly.. It rhymed.)

A good movie is one that makes you laugh and cry with it. I loved every moment of it. Being whimsical one might say. I'm 23. I'll be 23 for only this one year. I want to enjoy every moment of being 23. I was 17 once. I'm really glad I did all that only a 17 year old has the heart, courage and opportunity to do.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Of life and other lame things.

Asking me what I want of life seems to be the pet peeve of people around me these days. To them I have to say, this and this. (The first link brought to my attention by him).

So, I have been doing some soul searching and have arrived at the conclusion that... Well, I haven't really arrived at any conclusion. Who do you think I am? Socrates? How well do you know me to expect me to arrive at any conclusion.

The famous sunscreen video tells me,

"Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t."

I like that video. The words of wisdom he dispenses make so much sense.

"Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself."

That, and this poem.

But all that thinking has brought up some rather interesting.. theories? ideas? questions?

1. Independence and security. Why does it feel like you might have to sacrifice one for the other.

2. I remember watching an episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk says something to the effect of, "In todays world people don’t work for money but rather for personal fulfillment."

This is my idea of Utopia. This, and free communication and travel. I believe(or want to believe) that we are getting there. We have more flexibility in our choice of careers than our parents did. We ask ourselves what we wish to do the rest of our lives(which in turn leads to lame posts, such as this). The cost of communication these days is about $35/month (in US). Travel has gone from virtually impossible to comes at a price. Looks we are getting there.

3. I have a theory that the purpose of life is to be happy. So try and be happy and try and keep the people around you happy. If they are happy, they are more likely to keep you happy and so on. A positive feedback control system of sorts.

4. Where marriage fits into this whole equation I still can't figure out. Ugh.

Borrowed the books, The Selfish Gene & Darwin's Dangerous Idea in an attempt to better understand how we work. Currently reading The Bonfire of the Vanities. What I take away from the book. Men are ***s. (Clue to the missing letters. Starts with a P. Ends with a G. And rhymes with Fig.)

Interesting psychiatric/neurological ailments I got to know of lately. (Thanks to House MD.)

Munchausen Syndrome
Bipolar disorder