Monday, 28 September 2015

Entertainment on the Move

Entertainment lessons from the guy-next-seat (my adaptation of the guy-next-door)

Distance had never seemed longer and time had never seemed so constrictive as it seemed now. Suddenly the commute to and from work had started resembling a local train journey, with the slight exception of an air-conditioned metro compartment. Be it in the metro or in the office shuttle, jams appeared to be ubiquitous and so seemed lethargy, inactivity and a vacuum punctured sometimes by small talk and sometimes by Whatsapp. But not even the best jokes could sustain for very long. Soon, ennui would set in. Broken snatches of sleep too did nothing to offset the exhaustion at the end of a working day.
As for social networking sites, how much can one browse and how many stupid updates/statuses can one put up? Soon, that too is wearying. Come now to music, but after a time even the songs turn stale. The lyrics no longer seem as meaningful as they did in the beginning. If one tries new music, it seems too new for the ears and takes time getting accustomed to. And hence, every day, I was reduced to staring into space and replaying the day in my head all through the 1.5-2 hour journey. 

This had become the norm until one fine evening, I found a fellow colleague sitting next to me in the shuttle. He looked avidly engaged. I first presumed it was some game. Perhaps Candy crush or some other horrible game-styled drug. But then I saw him stretched back and enjoying a movie. ‘Duh! On such a tiny screen!’ I thought to myself and said as much to him. He looked at me once and went back to his movie. Even though I tried to behave as if I didn’t care, I actually did peer into his screen once or twice to determine the movie he was watching. It turned out to be MI5. I turned my head the other way and decided to ask no more. However, hardly a minute had passed before I had disengaged him from his earphones and asked him how he managed to watch a movie on that teeny-tiny screen. He replied coolly, “At least it's better than staring into space!” Although I was a bit affronted, I found that the man had a point. When I enquired further, not letting him watch the movie, he paused the flick and turned to me. Then began the imparting of those crucial lessons I was talking about at the start.

Image Source :
5 reasons why watching TT-TV*(for the definition of TT-TV, scroll down) on the phone is better than anything else:

1. People don’t like to be disturbed after a full day at work, so even if starting conversations might be fun and stress-busting, droning on doesn’t help much.

2. Trying to do productive stuff like getting leftover work done at the end of the day, when your mind is already full to bursting and sudden breaks and interruptions anyway disrupt productivity, is not a great idea, you must admit.

3. Reading the news might seem very important but there is something called information overload that one must guard oneself against.

4. Instead of caviling about the potholed roads, dysfunctional transport system, rapidly burgeoning population and whatever else, you can choose to be at peace in your own world without shouting, abusing or griping about everything that is wrong with the country. Ignorance is sometimes bliss.   

5. Staring into space is the last option that every ‘forever alone’ person has recourse to, but when you have a TV at hand, why stay alone?
I was quite moved by his surprisingly clear and sound reasoning. Although I merely nodded at the time, I decided to give it a shot. I imagined putting the TATASky Transferkars in action and getting myself hooked on to the idea of 'entertainment on the move’. Merely imagining it feels so good! Having the series like Friends, HIMYM** and TBBT** at the click of a button! Aahh bliss! 
So, from now on, while the bus lurches and brakes; while the metro screeches and rumbles, I will remain unfazed; content to be in my dreamworld with my favourite TV characters and their beautiful other-worldly tales.

* TT-TV : TataSky Transferkar TV
**Those few uninitiated who don’t know what these are, don’t fret! TATASky will get you your favorite shows!
HIMYM: How I Met Your Mother
TBBT: The Big Bang Theory

I am participating in the #TATASkyTransfer activity in association with IndiBlogger.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Paint Me Red

I was staring at my black and green computer screen unseeingly, my mind elsewhere, thinking about what I would have for dinner and which movie I would watch tonight... After all, it was Friday. And in the process of such ruminations, I reached the Blogadda website. A sudden splash of colors roused me from inactivity, and my interest was piqued. Paint Me Wild. That was what was splashed across the screen in pink. I couldn't stop myself from scrolling over to

Image Source:

An array of color swatches greeted me. I remember when I first learned to use Paint, all my attention was bestowed on the paintbox. I used to spend so much time choosing the colors and did them so very carefully and painstakingly that by the time I had drawn one shape, my classmates had already finished with the entire set.

Image Source:

The PaintFinder tool got me into that mode again. I started browsing through the various themes. There was Dusky Lavender, Retro, Grecian Blue, Aged Beige and so on. I so wanted to play with those colors right away. And then my eyes fell on Colonial Red.

Unlike the images in Grecian Blue or Aged Beige, which felt Greek and English respectively, these looked intrinsically Indian. The enduring red brick monuments, the dusty deserts, the camels and the color of their multicolored saddles. I was irresistibly reminded of the huge turbans of the mahouts which seem to have in them all sorts of possible colors. And the majestic monuments. Have you ever looked at the Red Fort in all its splendor? In fact, look at any monument of yore. Except for the famed Taj Mahal, almost all of them are in red brick. Walking along the old Mughal tombs and forts, admiring the reddish hue, a red which never seems to fade, an enduring persistent red, gives one a feel of the bygone times. The color is beauty in itself. It has both the pinkish tinge and the brownish burn in it. There is a certain richness in red, which I do not feel in any other shade. No wonder, blood is red.

Image Source:

Red has the pink of romance and red has the earthiness of brown. The shade is just brilliant. Right there, within the confines of my office cubicle, I had transported myself to a world rich with culture, history, stories and memories. Red has an Indian feel to it, an earthiness which is plainly beautiful. During art classes, when you had to fill color in people's clothes, what color did you use? I must confess I had a certain predilection for red. It looked to me the most imperial color of the lot. The lion of the colors. The king. I guess if I have any makeover, Colonial Red would be the most regal. The most striking.  

I am participating in the #PaintFinder activity in Association withBlogAdda & Bed Bath & More

Kiss Me...Close Your Eyes...Miss Me...

( This post has been tagged as a WOW post as a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. )

Remember those one-minute irritating commercial breaks after every over during a cricket match? Or a particularly thrilling episode disrupted by a vexing commercial of a cackling kid or a nasal soprano? All the pent-up tension and contained excitement totally diffused and reduced to nothing. One would then have to wait for the stipulated five-ten minutes to get over before one could concentrate again on the ongoing show.

Image Source:
However, I'm not categorically denouncing commercials. On the contrary, I have my favorites too. The Hari Sadu one was a rage among the working professionals with the limelight on the boss-employee quotient. Then there were those about fairness creams-a sudden transformation from the obscurest complexion to one that would be gleaming white in the sunlight or the complexion scale to measure your skin tone. I guess today such an ad would probably be seen as racist. With time, the content and the symbolism of commercials has undergone a change and a positive one at that. Now there are commercials challenging gender roles like the one in which a man is seen working in a company where his wife happens to be his boss, and some where lesbian girls share a moment with each other. Times have undergone a sea change. My personal favorite used to be the one with cartoons where they played cricket and everything was made of chocolate, including the bat, the ball and the sun. I wasn't awfully young then, nevertheless I loved that ad. Then there was the famous ‘mera number kab aega’ of Pepsi whose pet dialogue really caught on well. There were boring stuff too, like the bank loan commercials and in fact, anything relating remotely to money or insurance (come to think of it, my current project at work is in the insurance sector- no wonder I have a hard time at it) and the like. Whatever be the ads, they used to be so well ingrained in my mind that if you woke me up at 3 in the morning and asked me to recite a certain jingle of a commercial, I would rattle it off effortlessly, as opposed to any of the lessons I might have been required to learn.

Image Source:
Something also happened that might serve to explain my connection with commercials. We were at that game once- the famed singing parlor game-antakshari. The syllable K had landed on me and I was to make it the starting letter of my song. Unfortunately all the usual songs had been sung and I couldn't find any other worth singing. Just then, a tune suggested itself to me of its own accord. I don't know if you remember it but I still love that song. I started humming it-

Kiss me....close your eyes...miss me...
I can read your lips, on your fingertips,
I can feel your smile, come on my lips,
and happiness in your eyes…
Kiss me…

Everyone looked at me strangely, not even bothering to call foul.
“That's not a song, babe,” one of them said.
“Well obviously it is or else why would I be singing it?” I retorted.
“That's an ad song, duh!”
I had actually forgotten where I heard it and mistaken it for a song. That song eventually found its way to my phone as well.
Sometimes, these short and sweet commercials leave a deeper impression than long-winded soap operas.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Advice Anyone?

Remember Emma and Mr. Knightley and how the latter was the man whose opinion and advice Emma regarded most highly? No wonder kings always had adviser ministers. In the present day, we have all brand of advisers in our professional spheres- legal advisers, mentors and what-not. The value of true advice can only be gauged by those who face debilitating dilemmas, need a sound counsel desperately or are at such a crossroads, from where their life forks into widely different pathways. 

Image Source:

I would be lying if I said that my parents had been my only advisers. One’s parents and grandparents are one’s natural advisers and well-wishers that one is gifted with at birth. Therefore, life’s crucial decisions are always talked and debated over with them- that is almost a given. However, I have observed that decisions vary in the degrees of severity.

Some are level 1 difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10; things which we are supposed to be old enough to handle on our own. And we usually manage to do so (at least some of us, if not all! ). For instance, what to wear to a formal gathering, which car to buy, which diet regime to adapt and so on. However, some dilemmas are at a deadly level 10 - the wring-your-neck and drive-you-crazy ones, which easily get delivered to family, for example- career options, jobs, relocation and the like.

But what about those other class of problems that are neither 1 nor 10 for others, but to you they might seem a tight 8 or probably even an 11? When I talk of such cases, I'm actually taking a subjective perspective of problems. There are certain issues that wreck your conscience even though they may not matter a few years later or even after a few months. For instance, disagreements between people, altercations with your loved ones, vexation and incompatibility with certain fellows and so on and so forth.

Image Source:
Consider the situations when you are in a dilemma about whether to take up a venture or not. Or perhaps when you are at the zenith of your ego and in no mood to back down; you might be in a form that might impact your relationships adversely. Sometimes, these decisions are harder, probably the hardest, for the right and the wrong are not so well defined. Google might act as an advisor when you want to choose a course or select an appropriate location for your house. But when the matters are subjective and subject to not just yours but many others' idiosyncrasies, only a ‘sachchi’ advice can extricate you from such a quagmire.

And I am blessed to say that I have such a Mr. Knightley as Emma had or such a Chanakya  as Vikramaditya had. They-who-need-not-be-named have played the role of the classic friends to me. Always there for me with the earnest and the soundest advice. It must be borne in mind that people, in general, are very free with dispensing advice but very few give ‘sachchi’ advice. Via Max Life Insurance's #SachchiAdvice activity, I want to acknowledge the role of those wonderful people in my life. I want them to know that they are valued.

It is easy to extol virtues
And easier to condemn vice,
But not easy enough to give someone #SachchiAdvice!

I am participating in the #SachchiAdvice Contest by MaxLife in Association with BlogAdda

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Eight Ages of An Engineer

I guess celebrating Engineer's day by commemorating Sir Visvesvaraya's birthday would be too mainstream. Plus being from the typical engineering brood and used to doing things only at the fag end of the day (note now), I would like to pay my own respects to the quintessential engineer of this day and age. In the good old Shakespearean style (My Fiction folks would probably know what I am talking about), here is my ode:

The Eight Ages of an Engineer

All the university’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one student in his time plays many parts,
His acts being the eight ages. At first the school passout,
Basking in the glory of his entrance results;
And then the roistering fresher, with his spirit
Full of zest and zeal, ready to take on work
And challenges. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his girlfriend’s eyebrow. Then a nerd,
Full of project ideas, and academic initiatives,
Seeking reputation, yearning for grades in superlatives,
Enter the third year and emerges the wise student,
Observing patterns and knowing teachers, grows prudent.
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth sem shifts
Into strenuous and tiring times,
With spectacles on nose and eyes on laptop;
The heavy timetable wreaking havoc on the minds
The final year comes knocking with a tide
Of placements, exposing a world too wide
Tension builds up and fights nostalgia,
Big decisions loom ahead, time to do away with trivia.
Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history,
Is a farewell and goodbye, to this medley and mystery.
An engineer is born, ready to spread his wings
avec grit, avec guts, avec pluck, avec everything.

Dear fellow engineers!
It's time to feel...
umm...proud? great? swashbuckling?
Cut it.

Maybe it's just time to feel comradeship, pat ourselves on the backs, empathize with each other and tell ourselves that all those memes, all those endless assignments, codes, projects-in short, our lives have not been a complete waste. There is a poem dedicated to us. See the above lines?
Feel good?
Now get back to work.

Happy Engineer's Day folks!