Saturday, July 31, 2010

On Reading Kafka's Diaries

I grate my hands
Along the pages of your memoir.
I see your vacant eyes
Scorching mine,so that
You could burn them
Before I stared to read.
I see samples of your scrawling hand;
The crests and troughs
Of your doodles form familiar shapes
As my mind acclimatizes itself.
I fathom nothing,
I cannot tell if you're right or wrong.
I only know
That you hold me
To an eternal ransom;
One that is interminably long.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Excuses

I realize I haven't been regular when it comes to updating this blog.I've been quite busy doing a lot of other things apart from writing.Here's a list of excuses to explain the rather blatant neglect of this blog.

1.New books:I started reading 'The Diaries of Franz Kafka' and stopped abruptly.My tryst with Kafka's diaries is a lot like my tryst with 'Ulysses'.I find fresh new reasons to put off reading these books.I'm planning yet another intrepid reading of 'Ulysses' in the near future.While I firmly believe that 'Ulysses' can be conquered with the help of a few annotated guides and a PHD thesis or two;I think that Kafka's diaries are not for faint hearted individuals with a shaky mental disposition.I finished reading 'Chronicle of a Death Foretold' by Marquez.I felt as though I was in my element when I read Marquez.There is something very comforting and familial about Marquez.No matter how loathsome his stories get,I still want to read them.

2.A shaky mental disposition:I wasn't completely honest when I was talking about new books in my life.Literature apart;another new book in my life is 'The Art of Computer Programming' by Donald Knuth.As a result,I often see Greek symbols and MIX code in my dreams.I visited the IISc bookshop the other day, in search of a book on Lisp(it's a long story).An attendant managed to find me a book on Lisp and looked surprised when I thanked him profusely.In addition to Greek and MIX,I have also started dreaming of endless pairs of matched parenthesis containing code in prefix notation.

3.Lisp:I just love lisp so much.I want to spend as much time as possible with the common lisp console.I've become so obsessed with it that I've installed a CLISP console on every operating system that I run.

4.Another blog:I started a blog at wordpress with the idea of experimenting with CSS and a new blogging platform.What was intended to be a 'dummy' blog, ended up being an account of life as seen from the eyes of six mongrels in Bangalore.Updating the new blog has been a lot of fun.It reminds me of the hilarity of living in a house with six mutts.You can check out The Mutt Blog.

5.My ACM membership:I have to admit that holding the ACM membership card made me feel like a Diva with a new credit card.I spend more time at the ACM Digital library than I do at project Gutenberg.Hence,I am more likely to lecture you on the uses of augmented reality in the animal birth control program than on the utter hopelessness of empathizing with Franz Kafka.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

At Checkpoint Charlie

In the spirit of sharing my father's anecdotes(it's sad he didn't ever write a blog),here's one of his favorite stories about his visit to Germany.My parents lived in Germany for around two years in the early eighties.Germany was divided into West and East Germany by the formidable wall.My father decided to pay a visit to East Germany,possibly because of the notoriety of the communist regime.

A bus full of tourists,my father included,were driven to 'Checkpoint Charlie'.They were made to stand in a line after alighting from the bus.A stern faced communist guard went from one person to the next,scrutinizing passports and facial expressions.Since a majority of tourists were American, the guard had a perpetual scowl on his face.He then came to my dad,the sole Indian tourist,and his expression changed.'This is our friend!',he said,his rigid face breaking into a smile.My father was escorted out of the line and given a privileged seat in the tour bus.This meant that he was seated next to an overzealous,matron-like guide who directed all her commentary at my father and ignored everyone else.

My father admitted that the pro-Soviet propaganda was amusing and quite predictable.The wall came down a couple of years later and the East and West merged into a single country.Nevertheless, the experience was a priceless consequence of belonging to a left-leaning nation that called itself 'non-aligned'.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Nostalgia

It's been a year since I lost my father.I'm now at a place where I'm comfortable sharing past incidents that are now reduced to fond memories.

My father had a tendency to overuse tubes of toothpaste till there was barely any left.My mother and I would implore him,quite irritably,to discard the old tube and use a new one.The justification he gave was quite absurd.

My father,an engineer to the core,loved watching movies with a lot of gadgetry and espionage in the back drop of either the cold war or World War II.Gregory Peck played an American Spy in one such flick.In a particular scene, he is trying his best to squeeze out toothpaste from a near-empty tube.He is being watched and targeted by a sharpshooter in the opposite building.The sniper has zeroed in on his target and pulls the trigger.Our hero,in the meantime,lunges forward in another attempt to squeeze out toothpaste.The bullet grazes his hair and he escapes.Hence my dad's passion for spy movies and war aircraft.The first thing he said when we watched 'Dr. Strangelove' was, 'that's a B-52 bomber!'.

Here's to his resilience and originality.I only hope he's in a better place.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Of Football,Traffic Offenders and Other Things

I haven't written anything for a while,so I decided to get over my block by making lists of random things.

1.The Gallic shrug might have its origins in France,but footballers who have been yellow carded seem to employ it with the greatest aplomb.It goes a long way in placating furious referees who are on the verge of changing the card colour to red.

2.Divers in football need to learn Ballet and Kathakali.While Ballet lessons will make the 'fall' appear more graceful and sublime,a lesson in Kathakali will help accentuate the expression of 'pain'.

3.When Bangaloreans are caught for over speeding,their faces take on the most sheepish expressions.The sheepish quality of the expression is directly proportional to the apparent indolence of the cop.

4.People,in Bangalore,booked for driving under influence look so ashamed.Quite unlike their brazen,western counterparts in 'World's Dumbest Criminals'.

5.The number of goals scored by a footballer in an international tournament is inversely proportional to the product of the hype,endorsements and number of goals scored for one's club.

6.Irrespective of the quality of the teams,people in India will always support Brazil and Argentina.Both teams may have been booted out in the 2010 quarter finals,but it won't dampen the fervour of their Indian fans.

7.People love parking in front of 'No Parking' signs.There is a thrill in dashing away before the towing van arrives.

8.I have never seen a more stoic loser than Fabio Cannavaro. It takes a lot to walk back to the dressing room with one's head held high;especially when one knows that one's career is almost over.

9.Zebra crossings in Bangalore are only for the benefit of motorists,not pedestrians.