Wednesday, June 29, 2005


With the innumerable "forwards" being forwarded all over hyper-space thanks to people superstitious by virtue of birth, upbringing, estrangement and jilting, or people who just want their associates to also have a quick laugh as they did, the word chain-mail (if it can be treated as a single word) takes a new meaning with every passing moment. Forwarding through short messaging services had to follow of course. Memes are probably the only way (albeit a more interesting one) that the forwarding viri could catch up with the web-logging domain.

With such an introduction, I will now proceed to reply to Sumeet's tag.

Number of Books I Own

I never did count the total number of books I own. For one, the number keeps changing quite frequently. And then, I keep 'borowing' my dad's, uncle's & grand-dad's books everytime I go home, but I never return them. So effectively these books are also mine. Unlike some friends of mine though, the number of technical books I own lie outside the three sigma limits of the total number!

The Last Book I Read

Five Point Someone - Chetan Bhagat.

I do not own this book. Anant had bought a copy a couple of months back, before I went to Dallas. I managed to read it only last week though, after returning. It is to some extent an interesting book. But definitely not the greatest that I have read, by more miles than there are on a Bangalore-Dallas round trip. Like many other books, I do not think that all the hype about this one is justified. (I have to admit, I had actually forgotten the name of the author, and had to look it up in Google for this post!)

The Last Book I Bought

Having been out of town for some time (and having found the price of books in USA too high, specially compared to the M G Road pirated sales!) I have not bought any books over the last couple of months. Before going, however, I had bought a couple of Agatha Christies (one fiction & one non-fiction) and a copy of 'A Tale of Two Cities' (Charles Dickens).

Books That Mean a Lot to Me

I will assume that this implies books which I really enjoyed reading and keep talking about / recommending to others!

Day of the Jackal - Frederick Forsyth

My all time favourite. Purely for the amazing and gripping plot and the fluid writing style of my favourite author. I read the book for the first time when I was in Bangalore doing my summer training in 2001. I remember staying up till 4 in the morning just to finish the book. Which was pretty painful for my classmate Diptendu, who was trying to sleep in the same room, but I kept the light on all night!

Jurrasic Park - Michael Chricton

A must read for everyone. The book is chilling to say the least. Everytime I read it in the night, all the hair on my neck stand up and quiver when I go out in the dark, and I keep glancing back all the time, expecting a Procompsognathid or a Velociraptor to pounce on me any moment. The book is a million times more interesting than the movie, and the movie ranks among my favourites! Incidentally, this is the only Chricton novel, where the ending does not dissappoint the reader.

The Dark Crusader - Alistair McLean

The first time I came across Alistair McLean's writing style. All my close friends are tired of hearing me quote lines / puns from this book. Also this was the first thriller that I read. Before reading this book, my staple diet used to consist of Enid Blytons, Agatha Christies, Nancy Drews & a few Hardy Boys!

A Hitch-hiker's Guide to The Galaxy - Douglass Adams

42 :).

There are so many other books that I have enjoyed, but it is of course possible to name only a few. The list above represents what came to my mind first while typing this post. There may be a couple of favourites that escapes my memory right now. I may eventually modify the post and add more to the list.

Books I wish I had completed (and plan to complete)

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

I have read The Fountainhead and We The Living, and although I do not subscribe to the belief that Ayn Rand is God, I am after all an aethist. I like reading her books when I am in a mood to concentrate on some serious reading, which is only very occassionally. On the next such occassion, I will read what is arguably her best work.

Crime and Punishment - Theodore Dostoevsky

I started reading the epic but I am ashamed to admit that I gave up after a page or two because I was not really in a mood for serious reading. I promise to give it a try again.

The Lord of The Rings - J R R Tolkien

I claim to be an avid book reader, and not having read a book that half the readers in the world have read, and the other half are reading, doesn't do much justice to the claim. The book promises so much that I admire in a book, like consistency from beginning to end, and attention to the minutest of details. Yet, although the book lies on my shelf, borrowed from Prerna a couple of years back, I have not yet made much headway beyond the first 70 odd pages.

People I Tag

Ashish, Prerna, J Lal (a.k.a. Anand), Lokesh, Souradeep, Koushik.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A lot of interest is shown in what is known as multiple personality in a person. Many stories have been written on the topic, there have been many movies, and both, of course, quote from real life, the examples of multiple personalities in the past. Having multiple personalities is considered to be unusual. But is it really so much out of the ordinary?

It is my theory that all people do have different facets in their personality, which come to light in different situations. That may sound like another way of saying that people may react in a way which is 'out of character' in certain extreme situations, but that is not what I mean. My point is actually more specific to the 'cyber world' or the 'virtual space'.

I consider myself to be part of a generation (or at least a section of the society) which is 'net-savvy' or maybe even 'nerd'ish to those who do not 'belong' to the same circles. I have a definite presence as a character in the cyber-world. This is marked by my blog, my email account and my yahoo messenger & chatroom aliases. I interact with other people who qualify in the same category. But my interaction with these people are probably very different from the when I interact with friends in the 'real world' to borrow Matrix terminology.

For one, the language I use is different. Even though I use English more often than any other language in my day to day life, it is a different English that I type out. When online, I think before putting something down. I give my opinion on various topics which I probably do not discuss with friends. The anonimity, or at least the fact that the reader is not face-to-face, actually helps me in being more blatant if I may say so. I used to have, for example, a classmate in college, who was of one of the most introvertish natures in person. Online however, he was not only talkative, but had friends from all over the world, girls and guys, and probably having very different nature. The internet does not only shrink the world to our desk, but it brings out another dimension of our personality, or, brings out another personality altogether, from within us.

The subject of online dating has received a lot of interest lately. People have been known to meet, successfully as it is proved later, the love of their lives, in yahoo chatrooms or orkut, or across web-logs. But I think it is on rare occassions that the person whom one knows across the net has stayed the same when present in flesh and blood. To try and develope an online relation into a real world one almost always results in disillusion followed by a lot of dissappointment and pain. Of course it is not wrong to meet a web aquaintance in the real life. But one should expect in such cases to have to develope a relation from scratch, and not try to continue a cyber-relation under totally different conditions.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

If you want to kill an earthworm by asphynxation, pinching its nose is not going to help. Or so the girl-on-the-train told me. Which revealed to me a mystery which has haunted me for long ... more than 8 years actually.

The first thing that every normal, decent guy with the right mind (and no girlfriend or wife tagging along) does when he is getting on a train, is check the list of passengers next to the door for entries marked with F**!! (The ** can be filled up with any double digit number depending on his age and choice!) Such scans more often than not end up with negative results. On this occassion however, there was an young girl in the compartment, and she was actually occupying the very next seat! The trip back from Kolkata promised to be interesting! The girl turned out to be a student of Zoology going for an interview at a Bangalore college. The Zoology of course explains her extensive knowledge on cockroaches, earthworms, etc and their breathing habits. Earthworms for example breathe sub-cutaneously! So if you want to kill an earthworm, you should rather skin it alive than pinch its nose! More on earthworms coming up later.

She (the-girl-on-the-train, hereafter referred to as 'she'), apart from being a student of the world of animals, also turned out to be a big fan of the television serial F.R.I.E.N.D.S and an avid reader of thrillers etc. This discovery was the point when the conversation really took off! When two F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans get together and happen to have similar choice in books also, the combination is deadly, specially for the fellow passengers who die of boredom as these two keep talking about incidents involving Joey and Monica and Phoebe, and which author should be read after trying out Jeffrey Archer. The fact that she is not interested in sports and detests cricket was overlooked with plenty of common interests to discuss over the one-and-a-half day ride. At the end of the journey, she was all armed up with a list of authors to try out, and I had strengthened my resolution to go through my to-read waiting list fast (both her suggestions were already present in my to-read list!)

Coming back to the earthworm. It all started on a fine summer day in the year of 1997. It was summer vacation for me, and I was spending the month long vacation at my grandma's / uncle's playing carrom with my one-year-elder cousin sister and devicing methods to kill the innumerable earthworms that infested their (my grandma's / uncle's / cousin's) habitat. One of the more innovative ways to kill earthworms that I had perfected during that time was to burn them with a concentrated beam of sunlight by holding a strong magnifying glass (intended to study stamps) behind their back! With such earth(worm)-shattering ideas, I attempted to slay one worm by dropping it into a tank of water. It went straight to the bottom, and then start a long and tedious climb up the side of the tank. Although it was under water for about half an hour, I was amazed to see that it did not die of drowning after clutching its throat with its tail or thrashing about in the water or anything. Rather, it made its way all the way up to the sill of the tank, and calmly proceeded on its own business as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Well, now I know, it was because the worm could still breathe under water, through its skin. That's what she told me.