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Showing posts from April, 2005

No Point of Reference

I had not heard of Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap when I picked up the book at the local library. The author's name stood out from the crowd. If it had not been for the tiny blue elephant on the cover I would not have made the association to Asia. At any rate I was intrigued. As an outsider to Thai culture, I cannot judge the merits of Lapcharoensap's depiction of local characters and culture. A Thai reviewer at Amazon obviously has a problem with both.

"I notice there are no Thais raving about this book. Like Rattawut, I've spent some time state-side, so I know what the score is. But I dont think these reviewers have got a clue. Rattawut's characters are shallow, and the kind of thing any Beach-goer could've thought up. The device of the slippery pig as a metaphor of Thais escaping the farangs (in "farang")was just too crass to be true. Even on page one the mother wasn't having a conversation, she was making a soliloquy. OK for Shakespeare…

Too Soon To Play God

This article describing the immaturity of genetic engineering as a technology is reminiscent of the state of early information technology except we are talking about endangered human lives instead of a piece of malfunctioning software. This is like creating a storm shelter with Lego and hoping all will work out well.

That bacteria can now simulate computers and create simple patterns is an amazing achievement for the field of molecular biology but not very sophisticated computer technology. Attempting to understand God's lexicon at this point is almost as pointless as trying to reach out to intelligent life elsewhere in the universe through inter-galactic e-mail service providers.

The Corporate Psychopath

I could not agree more with this analysis of the corporation as a person. Seeking therapy for just three of the whole bunch of character flaws could put Gartner, Forrester, Giga et al out of business.- They are impulsive, and show poor control over their behaviors
- They cannot form long-term plans that are realistic
- They are impulsive, and irresponsible

The whole slew of high-end management consulting firms who thrive primarily because corporations have

- Grandiose sense of self-worth
- Need for stimulation, with a proneness to boredom

Kamikaze mammoth projects are untaken, millions are burnt and lessons are not learnt because

- They do not accept responsibility for their actions - another caused it

I wonder how psychopathic character would map to Gartner Hype Cycles in technology services and development which supposedly goes through Technology Trigger, Peak of Inflated Expectations, Trough of Disillusionment, Slope of Enlightenment, Plateau of Productivity. I have rarely if ever seen the…

Identity Crisis

"Mommy am I a boy ?" asked J one night as she was getting ready to sleep. Of all questions I have been asked before this was the most intriguing. J the alarmingly over-acclaimed would-be-heartbreaker-Lalique-doll-like-perfect-beauty and a boy ? "Did anyone say that you were a boy ?" I ask

"No" she replies "Then why do you think you are a boy ?" I am now completely befuddled. "Because I play only with boys" she says as if the conclusions thereof are fairly obvious. "And why do you do that ?" I persist knowing to proceed very gently now that we seem to be getting to the heart of the matter. " Because girls don't want to play with me and boys do" she says with a tinge of sadness in her voice.

I don't know exactly how to tackle that issue and try address her concern about being a boy instead "J, are you a boy or a girl ?" She takes a while to think through that before deciding "Girl". Even befo…

Reading Old Letters

"There is one thing about you that troubles me. You have everything a girl could ask for (at least apparently) and yet you do not look happy. There is a sadness about your eyes. I fear I may not have it in me to give you more than you already have - if that is what it takes to make you happy.I am very attracted to you. I am aware that the sense of connection I feel with you is rare and I will most likely not feel it with another. Yet I question the merits of pursuing our relationship to it's logical end. I feel very confused"

R wrote to me seven years ago. It was approximately summer from what I remember. Our parents knew each other through a mutual friend and we were a perfect match. I was sitting curled on the couch the afternoon my mother handed me his picture.In the infinitesimal amount of time that it took for me to flip it over to the right side, I had in my mind visualized a face. A face in no way similar to anyone I knew but an amazingly clear one.

R's face was…

Being A Rock

Except the usual suspect, permanent scarring from childhood abuse, not a lot else is being said about the genesis of asexuality in humans. Maybe as the A-pride movement gathers momentum and gains visibility efforts to know more about the phenomenon will follow.

I discover that Paul Simon's "I am a Rock" is considered a song with asexual song lyrics. It's interesting because this song became my favorite around the time my marriage was ending. It does not resonate with me quite as much anymore. It is a beautiful song in that it talks about the individual state and not a relationship. A healing touch for one whose sense of self has been weakened.

Maybe the neurobiological triggers that drive trust, love and lust go awry from the shock and emotional stress of a break-up. I remember feeling cold, lifeless and hard like a rock. One day while watching the then toddling J try to dance to Cher's "Believe" on an impulse, I got up and joined her. She looked at me in…

Future Imperfect Plans

If ever Googlezon becomes a reality I would know that I am finally through with technology - for life.

That may be the point to say, thus far and no further and turn to a place like Ithaca where they print their own currency and live in what seems to be an enchanted little commune thriving only on goodwill of the neighbor and bartering.

Maybe by then hybrid cars would have gone mainstream and homes will be fully solar-powered

Having fully disconnected from the inter-connected world, I would like to read the news - hopefully served in edible paper

Does not seem like a bad life at all when I think about it.

Bio Modeling and God's Laws

The Forbes gives us the ten laws of the modern world and enough by way of example for to explain the temporal world as we see it around us. A much more pain staking effort to read God's mind appears to the aim of Bio- Modeling

"Even the simplest living organisms perform a mind-boggling array of different processes, which are interconnected in complex ways to ensure that the organism responds appropriately to its environment. One of the best ways of ensuring that we really understand how these processes fit together is to build computer models of them. If a computer model behaves differently than the real organism, we know that we've neglected an important component of the system."If every distinct process was thus modeled we would have in essence uncovered God's lexicon. Assuming Albert Einstein was right in saying "God does not play dice with the universe" there is then a logical possibility of understanding His laws too.

Imaginary Relationships

It was only a matter of time before someone thought of imaginary relationships to fill in for an absent real one or perhaps even escape from reality without the feelings of guilt. This defies categorization - it is not even a virtual relationship where both parties are mentally engaged to each other. Technically this could not even be called infidelity. Amy Sedaris and her twelve year relationship in imagination may have well catalyzed the business for imaginary girlfriends.

The fine line between real and unreal could get very blurred with there being real women behind scenes who will be in pretend-love with their real clients. This deal can get more complicated than owning a virtual pet that was the rage some years ago.Out of Availability is described as " Girlfriends in this category are booked to capacity and cannot accept new orders at this time." Overbooked as in how many pretend-personas she can divide herself into until she is saturated ? I wonder how capacity is deter…

An Alphabet Jinx

When three bad on-line encounters occur within a month of each other, one seeks a way to help break the jinx. I never indulged in pattern recognition for a pastime until I started to spend an inordinately large portion of my work day with Business Intelligence architect types. The effect rubbed off on me unawares and with disastrous effect. Whoever said a little knowledge is a dangerous thing had envisioned me reaching wanton, unwarranted conclusions unsupported by data or evidence.

I did not have to look too far to find the connection between the three men in question. All had names starting with K. For ease of understanding I will refer to them as K1, K2 and K3 in chronological order of their acquaintance with me. The lesson learnt was obvious. "Move on to the next letter in the alphabet" I would be hard pressed to explain why not "Move backward to the previous letter in the alphabet" instead. It must have been a subliminal thought around progress being about move…

Personalized Mobile Alarums

In my neck of the woods, it's rare to find someone that's not sniffling from allergies once spring is in the air. A mobile pollen alert a la Vodaphone is just what we need around here. Possibilities for other forms of sensors and alerts obviously abound.

To use a service like that there is a privacy trade-off though. From knowing "Where I am" which already makes us a little nervous phone companies would be a closer to knowing "Who I am". My allergy profile would be on their database.

It may be argued that our privacy is already severely if not irreparably compromised with Google's thirty five year cookie. It is now generally agreed that "You are what you search" and there was no covenant made not to act on such intelligence.

Google sits atop a platinum mine of data that sales and marketing types would sell their souls to get a hold of. What's to say that souls are not being Dutch auctioned as we speak ?

At least with a mobile pollen alert we&#…

On The Subject Of J

When J was just a few months old, I would wait for her to fall asleep before I made a comment about her perfect eye lashes to my mother. She is the only person I would make such a comment to. I have always been circumspect of anything I may have to say on the topic of J fearing I will not be objective being blinded by a mother's love. It is only when an outsider reaches an independent conclusion that I feel vindicated.

That said, I have a problem with a surfeit of positive affirmation that is all over J. She has been told to her face that she is "exquisite", "beautiful", "doll-like" and possessed of "perfect features" among a lot else. While she may still be ignorant of most of those adjectives (thank God for that), she sure gets the drift.One morning I actually requested Ms K and Ms W at her day care to refrain from gushing over her appearance constantly. They seem to be in perfect agreement with me that J is posed with the risk of turning i…

Sheep Creating Poetry

Randomness is fairly rife in my life at this moment. Men have come and men have gone, relationships of consequence have not been formed. When I read about how "randomness and uncertainty is at the center of how the universe is put together" I have no trouble scaling that down to the microcosmic level - me. I also come to the sobering realization that nothing about my life will ever makes sense to me because I don't have clue about laws of quantum mechanics.

That a herd of sheep could rescue me from my pitiable ignorance fills me with hope except for a niggling detail of execution - getting hold of a herd of sheep to spray words on the backs of. However, a good Samaritan has taken the care of that and given the likes of me a new kind of IChing.

It is a nifty little sheep randomizer - poetry generator. Now I am being the impossible to satisfy end-user. I wish I could pick my own words as well so the sheep could talk specifically to my situation instead of spouting wisdom of …

Postcards from the Womb

A video in full color of the fetus in-utero as memorabilia for the parents feels so totally unnecessary. While the discussion on protecting the health of the woman and her baby is very much in order, isn't there also the issue of the unborn's privacy and right to have some peace ?

I look at the fetus being a victim of the parent's reckless hedonism which does not bode well for the postpartum future. These are probably the same parents that will take the show on the road outfitted exclusively in designer labels and flaunt them like they would their material goods.

The act of a father filming child birth to me is equally repugnant. It would take a man completely dispassionate about the pain of a woman to be able to do that. What is surprising that most women do not view it as such - we have been conditioned to believe that child birth is a magic moment and that the man in our lives is doing us a favor by recording the event in full color for us and perpetuity. Having bonded in…

Motherhood Measured in Dols

Reading an article in Salon on women increasing choosing C-section to avoid the pain of a normal delivery reminded me of my ninety year old grandmother. She bore nine children of which eight survived. Each birthing loosened her gums a little more until she turned completely toothless at forty. Her dozen plus grandchildren don't think she is an exemplary mother at all though we readily acknowledge pre-mature toothlessness is a sizeable sacrifice for motherhood and otherwise.Though the article focuses on American women, much of it applies to women elsewhere in the world. For different reasons, women are finding it easier to opt out of natural childbirth and go the C-section route. It is called "Empowered Pregnancy"I find the connotations of empowered rather confusing in this context. Motherhood desired can be deeply gratifying. It can be humbling to those who have waited long. It restores their faith in God and proves that it takes divine intervention to give birth. Being …

Whuffie, God Genes and Serendipity

The rip and burn culture has some interesting side effects on it's unsuspecting victims. When I read about Whuffie and the concept of Karma Currency, I did not imagine that I would relate that to the studies on the God Gene.

Given my predilection for mixed genre playlists, that I would make such odd connections is not odd at all. With the media psychoanalyzing Dubya's iPod, it may be a while before iPod therapists turn a mainstream profession. Till then all of us can indulge our ear worms by stuffing them all in one place in a fully random order.

I concluded earning Whuffie would have a beneficial influence on the individual's God Gene. As a corollary to "sum of all gross Whuffie is non-zero" the God Gene can be perfected infinitely, allowing humans to reach their full divine potential.

Being fundamentally of non-scientific temperament and having only a passing acquaintance with philosophy, simplistic conclusions like this one help me internalize concepts that would…

Indian Flower Children

Estelle brought a whiff of fresh air into our sterile cubicle farm the moment she arrived. Much common ground was discovered as we started to get acquainted which is surprising given how different our cultural backgrounds are.She is a Buddhist, flower child with a wild, colorful youth, practices Vipassana meditation and has backpacked to many obscure places around the world. From running away from home to be at Woodstock to trying mind-altering drugs and everything in between, Estelle has been there done that. Life in the 90s and the new millennium is incredibly staid and boring compared to the best years of her life. We were talking about how I typically enjoy the company of her generation much more than I do that of my own. Some of my best friends are decades older than I.

Estelle says (as do many others of her generation) that there was something magical about that time they were growing up. It was impossible to remain untouched by the winds of revolution all around. Young people be…

Google, Walmart and Swadeshi

When Wired draws ominous parallels between Google and Wal Mart, it is like saying "absolute power corrupts absolutely". But the case against Wal Mart and now Google could be a lot more nuanced than that.

In a time when Wal Mart bashing is getting to be as politically correct as Microsoft bashing, some intelligent counterpoint provides much food for thought.

"Walmart is an example of how ruthless capitalism has always worked. US consumers have proven time and again that want cheap goods more than keeping their neighbors employed."

The same reasoning explains the dragnet charm of America to illegal migrants who will not stop even at sewing themselves into car seats to get across the border.

"The great danger of Wal Mart's success is that the low-price mantra will infect every segment of our commerce and society to the detriment of quality, service, and even our own humanity."

This echoes Gandhi on his Swadeshi movement of which he said:

" What I object t…

Jean Couture Analytics

My co-worker and I were at the printer station when I noticed the Versace label on his jeans. He is one of those quiet, unobtrusive types that seem to make it their life's purpose to blend with the scenery. But with a label like that he had done his cause much disservice.

Atypically for me, I exclaimed "Great pair of jeans !" . He quipped about how he was having to downsize his life and put his cat up for adoption to pay for it. We had a good laugh at that one. What ever type of person it is that wears Versace to work on casual Friday, this man is not it.

Even with ever increasing emphasis on knowing your customer and targeted marketing, outliers like him would be hard if not impossible to reach out to. Odd personality quirks may not generate volume in sales but a series of unexplained spikes is good revenue all the same. Whereas when the customer is known, lost opportunity is measurable - in this case one can only guess at the numbers.

Here would be a prime example of the …

Tech Support Caste- Khidakayas

The Onion has the new word of the moment - Khidakayas . The caste, "varna" or "jati" they talk about has been refered to elsewhere poignantly and memorably as the e-slave

Having been part of e-slavery operations in India not too long ago, I would have to admit that tech support personnel, call center executives, medical transcriptionists and the like are a sub-cultre or "varna" just like Onion says. A few years in the business and they morph into unrecognizable forms. To that extent they form a caste by evolution.

A large number of their tribe came to exist after the dot-com boom had ended and with that prospects of a career in the First World. The uber-slave more often than not is a prodigal returned home after years of working in the US and elsewhere around the world. I used to be an uber-slave once.

The client uses one such as myself as the conduit of information back and forth between on-site and off-shore teams. We may be bestowed with the appropriately…

Coders on Slave Ship

I double checked the dateline on this story to make sure it was not an April Fools' joke. This gives a whole new meaning to near-sourcing - to have coders on a slave ship at sea not ninety nine miles but just three tantalizing miles from LA. That is the best of all possible worlds.

A few practical concerns about this project cross the mind. Given that bodies have been shopped from around the world and remain afloat (that sounds particularly gruesome) on international waters , would that mean they would have to live their off-sweat hours on board the cruise ship ? I am guessing it would be illegal for them to set foot on any piece of land in the vicinity.

With that, apartment and strip-mall ships should logically follow suit to set shop upon international waters giving the marooned coder-cutters a sense of community if not the ground beneath their feet.

I already have visions of pizza and lo-mein delivery boats paddling up to Amuthavallil aka "Amy" aboard the "code ship…

Pixels of Awareness

The splatter of blooming dogwoods in the newly greening woods, a stick figure woman with a mop of curly hair jogging along the sidewalk like a come to life Barbie, two girls chattering in a boxy Volkswagen convertible their hair flying in the wind, a jay-walking old couple, a yellow school bus climbing uphill like a buoyant sun, a biker snaking gracefully in and out of my lane ,a nesting duck in the bushes, a flawless blue sky - such a rush of beautiful images in momentary awareness of my surroundings this morning.

Smoke Signals and a New Pope

When I saw an odd bunch of people huddled solemnly around the TV in the break room this afternoon my heart missed a beat fearing some terrible news again - like the Tsunami. While fixing my cup of tea I figured they were waiting for white smoke to signal the new Pope. Like a bunch of children hoping to catch Santa in the act - excited but very serious about their mission.

Since the smoke was a while coming, I returned to my cube without actually seeing it. Blogosphere was already humming about it. Some interesting observations I came across were comments made on Airbag's post

"I might consider not being atheist anymore if I could just see one picture of a room full of cardinals blogging away."

"Pope 2005 Blog? I think the Vatican missed a really good opportunity for smash hit reality TV show. Who wouldn't want to tune in to a see a group of Cardinals running an obstacle course through jungles of Borneo? Talk about appealing to the masses."

"Al Gore is stil…

Hoodia and Hunger

There is obvious irony in succor for affulenza coming from starving Kalahari bushmen. This NYT article on nature's hunger buster and debates around it's efficacy misses out only one small detail. Maybe , just maybe God put the Hoodia Gordonii where he did for a reason. Also maybe it is best for everyone that it be left there.That some illiterate impoverished people may be sitting atop a goldmine has already got them a lawyer which is fairly ominous . BBC reported "... if the Hoodia works, the 100,000 San strung along the edge of the Kalahari will become overnight millionaires on royalties negotiated by their South African lawyer Roger Chennells."Between that and Chennells dream "I envisage Hoodia cafes in London and New York, salads will be served and the Hoodia cut like cucumber on to the salad." billions would have been made by everyone in the game except by the San. The hapless bushmen would by then not have their Hoodia anymore to stave off hunger. Mayb…

Matchmaking Evolution

That in the days of yore how a woman roasted pappad was all it took to tell what kind of wife she would. The very notion of seems bizarre today. Yet such folk wisdom was all it took for marriages in the past to happen and remain glued. It may be argued that women were not independent, they lacked the options they have today but that may only be part of why those marriages worked. In a time of trademarked and patented matchmaking systems involving twenty five dimensions of human personality, the trusty pappad would no doubt have to crumble and bite dust.

Today, incumbent relationships suffer from wanting to peel off layers of the partner's personality in twenty five dimensions and more until all is laid bare. The premise being you can never tell and what's more never trust until you get to that point.

That seems a fairly shaky foundation to begin a potentially life long relationship with. With the burgeoning online match-making services turning increasingly sophisticated that see…

A Porcupine Fable

"A troop of porcupines is milling about on a cold winter's day. In order to keep from freezing, the animals move closer together. Just as they are close enough to huddle, however, they start to poke each other with their quills. In order to stop the pain, they spread out , lose the advantage of commingling, and again begin to shiver. This sends them back in search of one and other, and the cycle repeats as they struggle to find a comfortable distance between entanglement and freezing."

I read this Arthur Schopenhauer fable on porcupines many years too late. Past a certain age one ceases to learn from fables instinctively. Learning turns more into an after the effect correlation of personal experience to wisdom such as this.

When I read Aesop's fables to J, I do not have to interpret for her or talk about lessons in morality. Like any other child, she absorbs on her own. Though the perfect age to learn through the telling of a fable, she is too young for this very valua…

Language Amnesia

J's native language skills are retrogressing rapidly. I find myself slipping into English to preserve continuity in our conversation and chide myself for falling into that trap. I have seen legions of Indian kids born and raised in this country completely unfamiliar with their native language. A sad thing considering many of these kids are so bright and articulate. It is as much their loss as it is for the future of the language itself.

Ms K at J's daycare and I were having a chat about how children from other ethnicities seem to fare much better with their native languages than Indian kids do. We were both drawing from past experience and examples around us. Ms K believes that children go through a phase that may last up to a few years when they feel self-conscious about speaking in a language that their peers do not.

Possibly Indian parents bail out at the time and start speaking to the child in English. If this continues for a while, a significant gap results between the chil…

Octet on Rejection

I have at the end of a relationship been told how much he respects me, how he will always remember me as a dear friend. Emphasis already being on the past, when we are not quite broken-up yet - officially at least.

It would be better to be told he was leaving me because I totally repel him. A qualified rejection is an easier decision to come to terms with. I never understood how I could remain a dear friend, worthy of respect yet not be loved. Specially, when once there was an such over-abundance of that feeling.

Like Seth, I am left to wonder "Why is it true my ample self-affection Will not suffice to buoy me in rejection"

Octet - Vikram Seth

You don't love me at all? O God. O Shit.
You still 'respect me.' Thanks. I value it
About as much as one who's asked to use
A second hat when he's in need of shoes.
Since, I discover, my own self-respect
Is quite enough to keep my spine erect
Why is it true my ample self-affection
Will not suffice to buoy me in rejection?

Hazed For A Sandwich

I was at the neighborhood sandwich joint for a tuna sub for J and I. The teen that was taking my order stood there like a retard with a loaf of wheat bread smeared with tuna and kept staring at me. "Is that all that goes into it ?" I asked incredulously "Whatever-else-you-want-with-it" he slurred.This is just the kind of pebbles-in-mouth-uniform-intonation mumble that drives me up the wall. "Isn't there a standard recipe for it ?" I asked. It had taken a good five minutes to reach a common understanding about the type of bread I wanted.

Customers were lining up behind me. The teen shrugged his shoulder and mouthed something that I totally lost. He was doing nothing to the tuna smeared bread. "I don't see anything labeled in there so how I can tell what you have ?" I said pointing to a row of opaque plastic bottles of dressing. He named all ten of them without so much as pausing to catch his breath.

J was following this with curiosity looki…

To Read Later - Reading List

I have a reading list consisting of highly acclaimed work that failed to evoke any response in me on the first reading. It includes notably The Gulag Archipelago, Ulysses, The Clockwork Orange, Allen Ginsberg's Howl, Gravity's Rainbow among a number of others.

This morning, Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje made it to my list too (I did not fare any better with his English Patient either). I am at page 118 and have not seen the point. There is beautiful language that catches the attention often. Ondaatje is a word-craftsman without doubt. Anil is fairly interesting as a character but not riveting. I feel mired by the technical details of her job.

The backdrop of Sri Lankan civil war is so strident that the story pales before it. If past a third of the book I don't begin to feel oneness with the narrative and the cast of characters the book has all but lost me.

What is more the "suggestion-of-incest" prop has already been used to lend that special aura. This has b…

Prevention Zealotry

When J visited her new pediatrician for her recent physical, she told me in her practice they checked cholesterol levels for all their patients. I looked at her in astonishment. J is only three ! Yet, the worst was not over. I almost fell off my chair when I heard the reading.

J would have to go on a diet post-haste. No more whole milk, cream cheese or eggs. J sat beside me smiling coyly at the doctor as she played with beanie babies. I wanted to burst into tears. J is at the twenty-fifth percentile in the weight charts. Now I was going to have to starve her until she fell right off it. What the doctor was prescribing for J sounded like an ultra-lite version of South Beach meets Zone diet. I had decided to seek a second opinion even before I left her office.

Once home, my resolve had already weakened. The HDL and LDL counts were too powerful an adversary and numbers do not lie. I found myself telling the daycare center to stop serving her whole milk. I did not feel at peace with having …

Break-Room Leads and Social Networks

Anyone who has job-hunted in the recent past knows the value of inside information. Job leads are more likely to be found in the break rooms of hiring companies than on nation-wide job-boards.

When A asks B about her weekend and B tells A she's hurting for a business analyst so bad she didn't remember having a weekend. Turns out that HR has a ninety day lead time to fill the position by when her project would be in the red. Week and weekend would coalesce into one - the quasi-static state of joblessness. B is probably not social networked. If A is and he spreads the word around , he'll be doing two people a favor and earning some good karma along the way.

In his essay on social networks , Rob Peterson says "I believe that Social Software is a vector a return to an old culture.When I say old culture, I mean the culture that fits the essential nature of humans and that fits nature itself. I imagine a return to the custom of being personally authentic, to a definition of w…

Poetry by Children

My English teacher introduced me Cadbury's Book of Chidren's Poetry turning poetry completely real and accessible. These kids were not writing of The Lady Of Shallot or Lord Lochinvar. Our worlds were much the same. Their vocabulary was no bigger than mine and yet they had perceived something that I had completely missed.

Reading that book turned me aware of my thoughts, the flow of life around me and suddenly poetry was everywhere. I wrote the first tentative verses stumbling with familiar words in their new context like it were a foreign language.

Between feeling and expression there is an asymptotic gap never quite meeting except at infinity. Sometimes a child will reach infinity with the ease of a genius like Pablo Neruda.

Years later I would be charmed by Poetry in Motion in the Metro on the way to work. At a time when I was hurting so much that I was desensitized to any feeling except pain, a chance verse would make me want to be alive once again.

A Salon Story

After postponing my visit to the hairdresser for several weeks, I finally made the trip last evening. Historically no hairdresser has understood what I want done, so of late I pick salons at random, the cheaper the better. A male with waxed arms, nail color and lipstick welcomes me.

A little dazzled by that classy touch I quickly scan the rate charts to make sure things were within my ball park. J and I wait my turn flipping through magazines trying to spot J's "most special favorite" (pink), "special favorite"(yellow) a slew of just "favorite" colors. This is usually how we spend the lobby-wait-time of our lives.

The gentleman with waxed arms is talking to a blonde who is doing almost an interpretational dance trying to explain the magic she wants him to work on her hair. He is leaning back with his arms crossed, a half smile on his face, making appropriate noises to indicate comprehension and agreement. If that is what takes to get the message across …

Airbrushed Perpetuity

My friend A is terminally ill with a disease that is working on her with a quiet determination. Having been acquainted with near-death for so long she has no fear of it anymore, instead she lives in the present with a passion I have rarely seen. When she first found out about her condition, A had a professional photographer shoot a portfolio for her.

She could have made it to a Vogue cover with those pictures. It was her way to arrest the atrophy of her body. In her mind she sees herself perfectly beautiful like those airbrushed pictures. "I see the most perfect physical form that I could ever have. It makes me want to strive for other forms of perfection that are still attainable" A explained to me once.

Recently another friend who is a professional photographer told me about an interesting assignment. A couple wanted faces of a celebrity couple on the cover of a popular magazine replaced with theirs. This was their tenth wedding anniversary gift to each other. We were talkin…

Mixed Tapes

There is this line from the movie "High Fidelity" that stayed with me "Now the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and don'ts. First of all, you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing." It is a lost art form that no one in the time of iPod shuffle has any use for.I have many mixed tapes from the growing up years replete with memories. The most cherished of them being a gift from P. Extreme, juvenilia maybe but there was so much to read in the sequence and selection of music. It let me imagine everything that was unsaid in our four years together and its defining moments. Being the discreet gentleman that P was there were no vocals, only classical instrumental music. I realized I was in love with him. He had used someone else's poetry with amazing effect.

As a parting gift he asked me for a collection of "music you love most". I agonized days and hours creating my ni…

Urban Mythology and Folksonomies

Some ideas are so obviously beautiful that you wonder why no one thought of it before or if in fact some one did and you just did not know. The walls of a city have so many stories to tell us that no tourist guidebook cares about. The [murmur] project gives them the voice they are missing.

In Toronto history is flagged with sign-posts carrying a phone number that cell phone users can call. They will hear real people tell stories about that place as they saw and knew it. You can hear this while you are passing by.

This is perhaps not the history that will go down it the text books blessed and sanitized by the establishment. It will be more a record of urban mythology helping people form intimate connections with places. Given the simplicity of the idea it could be widely adopted.

Somewhat unrelated but the idea of letting users tag web sites creating what Wired calls folksonomies is another way of breaking down the hegemonic "system" of classification and allow natural entropy …

Perils of Indiscriminate Outsourcing

Tomes have been written by many an industry pundit on the quest of the silver bullet for maximum ROI through outsourcing. Fact is there is no silver bullet (at least everyone agrees on that one) and what is more very few companies manage to get the formula even close to right.

Increasingly BPO outfits have capabilities to take on much more than grunt work and customers are aware of that. With almost any kind of project becoming fair game for an outsourcing vendor, one misguided engagement can result in long drawn out suffering for the customer.

Suffering as in below par performance of the offshore vendor, service level agreements being fraught with ambiguity besides the usual suspect - budget overrun. Typically starting at level three production support it is not long before offshore resources take over core business processes eliminating any possible competition from another vendor.

It would take a sizeable Knowledge Management project to transfer knowledge from the vendor back to its s…

Musical Memories of Movies

A gramophone playing Edith Piaf's "Te Es Partout" in a French town square is the image that stayed with me long after watching Saving Private Ryan. The mood of gentle melancholy it created was the finest signature for the movie.

Background score and theme music is a little different because they actively strive to achieve that effect. When successful, there is a certain audio-visual harmony about the movie that enhances the pleasure of watching it.

The violin quartet "Pur una Cabeza" in the Scent of A Woman recreates fragments of the evening when I watched the movie each time I hear it. Music like that has a kaleidoscopic effect. I know that I will be surprised by the medley of memories that will come back.

A Letter for Roshna

Published in DJRoshna,I am writing this to you - or should I say it is my wish and desire that you should read what I am writing to you. Long after my ashes have filled their urn and the wind blown them over the Ganges. Long after that I would still long for you.A collage of images comes back to me as I write. My brother Amar at eighteen, with a shock of hair on his forehead giving him a brooding poet's air. My oldest brother Ananth, in the final year of college, getting ready to leave home. We thought some Ivy League school in America would be his destination; he surprised us by taking off to France. It would have been adequately dramatic if Ma had pawned her wedding jewels for his passage. She had instead taken out a gold loan from the bank. Gold to fuel the dreams of the dreamer - that is hardly inappropriate.Ananth was never one to explain his decisions. We accepted his actions after their effect knowing he knew best. With him gone we had to deal with Amar's cocaine addict…