A Musical Schizophrenia

There’s always one song — a crass, inelegant one. The genre doesn’t matter, the period does. Almost always this will be a song from when you were young. Perhaps in your early college days; a little more than three decades ago. (Needless to say, if you are still in college, or if you are just out; this won’t make sense to you.)

It is your favourite song. Still.

30 years ago, people around you, agreed with you. It was the best, they echoed. 30 years later, you dare not say it loud: I love this song. Most of us mature in our taste of music; some of us do not. It’s not something to apologise for. It is however, something not worth advertising.

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I may have said this before. I lost my iPod Classic during travel, a few years ago; it’s been a while. Since then, the music experience has never been the same. Music, movies, books, have to be possessed – the cloud does not cut it. Imagine painstakingly tagging over seven thousand songs in your own way, and not being able to access your music in the way that you want to.

Discontinuing the iPod Classic is the worst thing that Apple did. Not that they care, but I will never forgive them for that.

*

I’ve lost my religion. I have to get back to Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. True salvation lies in their words and their strings. For me. I do not know about you.

*

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.
The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.
My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

~ Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

*

 

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My life’s so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears

 

Of Tools and Skills

Advertisers are really smart people.

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Calligraphy pens, circular saws, digital pencils, 4-wheel drive vehicles, to-do apps, are a few examples I can think of. All of these tools and widgets are easily available to most of us today. One or four clicks on a website and they are available to us. We see the advertisement for it, and we want it. Because the advertisement shows how easy it is to use any of these tools. Of course, the advertisers don’t say that you will need some sort of a skill before you can use this tool.

Possessing a tool does not a craftsman make.

The tool doesn’t assure skill. It enables a skill. It will help you hone a skill; you have to have the basic skill, however.

Calligraphy pens don’t enable good handwriting. If you have the patience, focus, and ability to write well, a calligraphy pen will help your handwriting look artistic — perhaps even elevate your handwriting. If you do not have an understanding of brush-strokes, colour — using a digital pencil in a digital drawing app isn’t going to enable you to create a masterpiece. What use is a 4WD vehicle for you, if you do not know how and when to engage the front or the back wheels (Transmission?)  (Pardon me on the vehicle example, I really have no idea how a 4WD vehicle works.) But indulge me for a moment – isn’t it glorious to imagine taking a vehicle off-road, over rocky and rough places and feeling the rush of an adventure of driving on a surface that isn’t a road?

That’s why advertisers are smart people. They know what you feel; they zero in on that. They have 30 seconds to tell you the story, so, they have to edit – and tell you the most important things. About the tool. Advertisers are in the business of selling ‘tools’. The skill: you have to acquire yourself. They do not get the time to tell you, that if you do not know basic carpentry – there’s nothing worthwhile you can do with a circular saw.

Let it be known, I do not bemoan advertisers, at all. For those of us who have the skill to use these tools, advertisers do us a service of letting us know of the ways and means of honing our skill. It takes months, if not years to even acquire a skill, forget mastering it. It is up to us to decide which tool serves us the best, at what time, and for what purpose.

“The tool can do only as much as the skill allows. The skill can be honed, only as much as the mind can train. The mind can train only as much as the heart believes.” 

From an Old Post

Acquisition of a tool is not acquisition of a skill.

Death by Things

Privacy is a matter of life and death. Literally.

“Williams, whose firm provides application security, doesn’t know exactly how IoT might be used to kill someone or what device will be implicated in the nefarious scheme, but considers it a certainty that a connected device will play a role in a murder.” : Coming soon: Murder by Internet | Computerworld:

It is amusing (and equally concerning) that I have been thinking how it could really happen.

Could someone, for example, hack our refrigerator and heat it up, make the cheese go really bad, and we end up eating it; get poisoned? Or perhaps lock our doors, disconnect our phones, and freeze us to death by turning down the temperature on the air-conditioner?

Eight years ago, I was thinking about identity, privacy, and anonymity. Not much has changed, I see.

Private

It seemed to me, then, that people who are anonymous are less private and people with public identities are more private. Anonymity and privacy felt inversely related, somehow. No more the case; people display their identity and are public about all aspects of their life.

*

On a separate note, if you read the above-linked post on anonymity, you will notice that I perhaps lost some posts when I shifted from Blogger to WordPress. So, I guess, if I fall a few posts short, I can still consider, I hit the 1000-mark.

No, that’s not cheating. That’s being practical!

Freshen up: Shower or Travel?

This writing challenge is not the only challenge I’ve taken up, if you were wondering. (which is a stupid thing to say, because why would you be wondering about that!) And sincere apologies – again – for starting a post about the challenge. This post however, has nothing to do with writing or the challenge of a-post-a-day.

Parentheses /pəˈrɛnθɨsiːz/ (singular, parenthesis /pəˈrɛnθɨsɨs/) (also called simply brackets, or round brackets, curved brackets, oval brackets, or, colloquially, parens /pəˈrɛnz/) contain material that serves to clarify, or is aside from the main point. A milder effect may be obtained by using a pair of commas as the delimiter, though if the sentence contains commas for other purposes, visual confusion may result.

In school, we used to call all enclosing symbols as brackets. Later, while working as a technical writer, I discovered that there were parentheses, (hard) brackets, (curly) braces, chevrons, angle brackets, and corner brackets. And apparently each one of them has a specific purpose. I’ll ignore them for this post.  (Because this post isn’t about brackets)

For a person who likes to travel a lot, I travel a lot less. (See? How I constructed that sentence? Smart, eh? Lot; Lot less?) Definitely less than I’d want to. I had promised myself, that come what may (I promised myself this in April, not in May), I’d travel at least once a month for at least three days. I did go out in May (Just so you know, I took up this challenge in April (like I said before)), but did not in June. But then this June was more like a curse, less like a boon. (OK, I just made that up because it rhymed – there’s no rule that says there cannot be rhyme in prose.) July is a bit more relaxed, so, in July I will fly. (Yes, I made that up too). And I won’t discuss the other months, because I already know the rhymes for all the other months, thanks to April, Come She Will (We fans, call it the 2-quarter song – because it goes from April-September).

So, for a person who likes to travel a lot, I travel a lot less. I wish I travelled more. The other day, an ex-colleague of mine advertised for a job of CTO for a travel startup. I thought, hmm, that would be fun (actually, I thought, that would be interesting; not fun; but fun sounds better). Not that I am qualified to be a CTO, yet, I thought about it, for a while. I then realised that the CTO would be sitting in one place, ensuring all the code and software is written, and not travelling. (It’s like being an accountant for a perfume company, or ground staff for an airline company, or something like that) I said to myself, no way, I’d take that job. Not that I am looking for a job, I am quite happy and excited about what I do.

But the travel bug continues to bite. As I write this post, I am ignoring all the scars and the pain (emotional, mind you, not physical) of all the biting that has happened in the past several months.

People travel for different reasons, but all those who travel are enriched in some way or the other. Some travel to tell themselves, “I was here,” some travel to tell others, “I was here.” Some travel to see, some to eat, and some, to meet new people. Whatever the reason, travel is liberating. It unshackles us from the daily humdrum that we eventually begin to accept as the norm. I, for one, have never tried to analyse why I like to travel. I do show off on social media about where I am, making the then city dwellers envious. I post exotic (if you can call them that; they’re just local) photos of food that I eat. I usually do not care to take in the popular sights, but I’ll go along if my companion wants to.

No one has yet called me that, but you could call me the reluctant tourist.

A Night Street

I have rarely travelled alone, someone has always been with me, yet, I travel to be with myself. There’s something sticky about the city, that is always on you, unrelenting, an intangible gooey smear all over your self, which never leaves you alone. Of all the things that I enjoy when I travel, is the absence of that sticky, gooey thing. I do not detest it, for I am a city person, and love everything about a city. Yet, a short stint, being free of that layer is a sense of lightness that I cherish. It’s a feeling of freshness, like you have just had a nice shower. That sense of me, being with myself is all I seek. Apart from that, I really care little for what I do.

There may be some travel in July. I look forward to it.

But I won’t be taking up that CTO job. No.

Converting

In an otherwise-normal world, changing your mobile phone would be a very personal event, somewhat exciting, and generally not worthy of a debate. Not so, in the world that we live in.

Brands (and associated schools of thought) have become status symbols, and the polarisation has become extreme. They have become cultish, and cultists of the opposing cult are often addressed by disparaging honorifics. And it is not just about phones, the phenomenon extends to cameras, game consoles, and other similar items of time-consumption. It is the time when tools take over. The to have is taking over the to use.

Door & Window

Brands (rather, brand managers) are keenly observing this phenomenon, and punctiliously feeding the frenzy. Features are incremental, but their promotion is monumental, so is the asking price. Card-carrying members more often than not, will pay the price, and perpetuate the cult’s cultishness. It is possible that you may be able to afford an expensive item, but the real question is would you want to afford it?

After a little over four years of using the iPhone, I’ve switched to an Android phone.

Successful Partial Detox

As against a Partial(ly) Successful Detox.

It’s been a month that I have ‘stayed away’ from Facebook, and have been successful at that. It’s a good feeling. As a mark of being away, I changed my cover photo and profile picture to reflect that, I guess it didn’t make much sense. Only one friend asked me about my absence and I pointed her to my Facebook cover and profile photo. That was my cryptic way of saying, “I am away.”

And, apparently, too cryptic.

Screen Shot 2013 04 30 at 1 16 03 PM

My being away from Facebook was not a full detox (that should explain the “partial.”) Because I administer a photography MOOC on Facebook and my company’s page, I couldn’t be completely away. So it was only a detox of status updates and commenting etc, on my profile page, unless addressed directly. The need to share shifted a bit on Twitter for the month, but it wasn’t significant.

All of this meant that I wrote more on my blog (than before, not in absolute terms), had a chance to read quite a lot, support my Premier League team, de-clutter the space around and spend some time with myself, become better at cooking, learning the fundamentals, and start something new (at work). It also helped think about, to an extent, how to make optimal, non-intrusive use of social media. Of all the things, however, it lets you know the value of your presence in social media networks.

Walking away, in a funny way, is knowing where you really stand.

Finally, Find Photos on Facebook

 

So, I was asked, how I was doing. Recent radical changes have got people worried about me. And every time I am asked how I am, I feel I should be worried too. I am just taking things a bit easy for a while, but most folks, knowing me the way they know me, are worried. It’s always nice to know that people care. Deep down, you feel very happy about the life within you and around you.

We talked of being confused and that’s when I said – I have no idea what to do with my photographs. I joined Flickr in May 2005 and have uploaded consistently since then. This April, I chose not to renew my Pro account on Flickr. Since then, I have uploaded to about nine different photo sharing sites; tried all of them. One of the advantages of being confused – is that you discover a lot of new things. Not one came close to what I was looking for. The big problem of social sharing is that you are a part of multiple networks, and have made friends and acquaintances in different networks. So, when you choose to upload your photos in one location, there’s a good chance that many, in other networks will not be able to see your work. Yes, most networks will allow you to publish to other networks, but more often than not – it’s quite clumsy. (We’ll just mark WordPress.com as an exception here).

The other thing about Flickr, was that it has not changed much in the last five-odd years since I have been a member. There is also some high-handedness in ‘curating’ photographs, as I have seen happening with a few Flickr members. I’ll admit, my photographs were never ‘force-curated.’ And for various reasons, my photos were getting good exposure. My favourite feature on Flickr, was the stats. It’s always nice to know which of your photographs are popular – and for what reason. But I was bored. Utterly. Five years is a very long time for a network not to do anything interesting.

In the meanwhile, I tried 500px, which has very good presentation. I felt however, it is too early and too basic, but I might reconsider it in a year or so; I don’t mind paying the slightly costly $50, when uploading/sharing becomes easier. There was always Facebook – but the photos were exposed to a limited audience (yes, I know I can make them public and share them outside of Facebook). Then, I looked at Saatchi Online – which is good for selling your work – and has a decent presentation too. Of course, I have been trying Google+, which has a cool presentation, but that’s about it. With very few ‘friends’ wanting to make the switch to G+, it didn’t make sense for me. However, G+ has been able to garner a very vibrant photographer community. That makes you wonder.

If I Could See Better | Facebook

Click to visit the Facebook Page

I finally have now decided to move my portfolio to a Facebook Page @ If I Could See Better.

It is nowhere close to what I would look for in a photo-sharing site, for instance, the presentation style is not the best of what is available out there (Facebook is surely capable of much more), geo-tagging is manual and there is no smart way for uploading (have to go through a file uploader – no native app).

Yet, it’s a nice place to have a single location to keep all your photos, build a community around them, share to Facebook and Twitter, and get stats about your work. So, till such time something really smart comes up, a Facebook Page it is.

I’ve just started, so in time, you will see more, soon.

Mobile, Freedom & Slavery

So this is how it really feels like – to blog in motion. Having gadgets that let you do more and more in ways that you didn’t imagine before, is in some ways liberating. But, as Amit so poetically and clinically scalped this sense of freedom, you wonder if this sense of being unshackled is true freedom or a misleading mask of slavery.

Writing on the Wall

Amit makes, according to him, an unstructured and a self-contradictory point about an Edge Question, about “How is the internet changing the way you think?

In spite of his conclusion, it is a point well made. I’d urge you to read his post.

In my comment to his post, I assured him that there was a point there somewhere, though I couldn’t point out the point when I made that comment. Two of my posts came to mind while I was reading his post. One was An Asynchronous Evolution and the other was Of Slow Blogging and Active Participation.

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Stone Papyrus

To my mind – the most we have been affected is by way of diminishing attention spans. The theory of consuming everything in a bite-size, denies us a whole meal – an inability to stay with a thought for a time long enough to make sense.

This (and a few recent) post is proof enough. Malnutrition, of sorts.

The Trouble of Having an iPhone

Don’t get me wrong.

I love my iPhone.

Over time – more than a year now – however, it has made me think a lot. Especially when I have had folks come and ask me “advice” on buying the iPhone. It usually isn’t that – they just want me to say, go ahead – it’s a wonderful decision. Don’t think! Buy it!

It’s a good device, an amazing gadget and really a fun companion to have with you. But it can get to you at times. A few instances where I wonder why I have this gadget:

  • There is an app (Pandora’s Box) that tells you what apps are available for free. (I have ever only paid for five apps, so I am not the one who contributes to the amazing statistics of app downloads from the iTunes Store). So you, usually, end up downloading apps that you use only for the first five minutes after you have downloaded them. Then they stay there – real-estate is apparently cheaper on an iPhone than in Mumbai – and when you see that app after six months – you have no idea what it does and why you downloaded it. You do waste a lot of time animatedly discussing how cool the app is.
  • When you have so many apps downloaded, and you realise that you don’t use 90% of them as frequently, there is a scramble to re-arrange apps. If you have an iPhone, you know how what I am talking about.
  • Most of the good apps aren’t available in India. In fact, the iTunes store for India is only one-third of the store. We can’t buy music and we can’t buy any video products. Even the sale of their OTA service is through the Singapore store. We are third in priority for Apple; we are a third world country. Nokia, however doesn’t think of us like that. Damn.
  • A friend of mine dropped his iPhone once. he had to buy another. Since then, I have become very careful about my iPhone. To the extent that my movements have become dainty. I wouldn’t think twice if I had to play football with my Blackberry, but couldn’t even dream dropping my iPhone on my desk from a height of 0.116 inches.
  • There are some amazing travel apps on the iPhone. None of them works when you are in Kumbharli Ghat. Heck, a state highway that connects Nanded to the NH4. Then, I love a compass. Any compass (That’s a safe gift to give me, if you were thinking). Now, I have to shell out the new bloated price for a 3GS if I want a built in compass. Gah!
  • I’d like to use Twitter on the iPhone. I have four different apps. Not a single one makes sense. While I have problems using Twitter anyway, the iPhone doesn’t help.
  • I can’t share photos very easily with folks who do not have an iPhone. So I have to go through a round about way of sharing photos. By that time the others have taken photos, shared it, uploaded it, had fun – I am still sending it by email and such. Bluetooth is so anti-social on an iPhone.

There’s more.

Sometimes I have fun re-arranging the apps. They make for some amazing “thoughts”. Not everybody understands it however.

An iPhone Grab

But this should suffice for now. But, don’t get me wrong, I love that thing. And don’t ask me why!

PS: Cross-posted on Selaphor

A Six-year Non-ceremony

The day of the ceremonial post is past. Or, so I think. I had once written about the fancy of well rounded numbers like one, three, five and ten. Unlike four and six. Earlier I had called it the classic rounding-off trap.

There isn’t much to celebrate this year. I have written only fifty-six posts this year, which is quite pathetic by my earlier standards. When you consider all the thoughts I thought were blogworthy, it is really pathetic. Like when I magically reached the five-hundredth post on the day I completed five years of this blog, the average was a hundred posts a year. I have obviously not been maintaining standards.

I could blame it on Twitter, but, Mahendra, wrote recently wrote about “Blogging Highlights of 2009, Challenges & Thoughts for 2010”, in which he puts me in a list of folks who are “fairly regular at blogging as well as online social networking in one form or another.” Notwithstanding what I think, I trust his opinion.

Twitter apart, I have been all over the place doing this mega-yatra of everything Web 2.0. I think that took a lot of time away from me this year. If it was launched, I signed up. Towards the end of the year, the carpenter in me said, “Great, you have all the possible tools a carpenter can have. Where’s the wood?”

Wooden Shades

If the last month is any indicator, I have not been doing well at any of the social places. But then I was away for a while and my mind has been away for a while longer. Blogging remains the only one thing which makes continues to make sense.

2009 has been a very good year for me. I went through significant turmoil on pretty much everything in my life – in a good way. I found time for myself after a very long time and am quite excited and happy about that.

In summary, not much to celebrate here for the sixth year as such, so head out and do your thing for the long weekend. Ours is 4-day long!

You’ll be seeing me.

A Word for the Courts

It’s almost two years since I have been living this new religion. It has its own doctrines and dogmas; advantages and disadvantages.

Two years ago, when a matt-finish shiny black Macbook made itself my constant companion, I’ll admit, there was a lingering fear of being able to be as good as I was on my MS-Windows machine.

Two years later (this 23rd, my blog archives tell me) I am comfortable, happy and content with what a Macbook machine can do. In the last 24 months I have even indulged in light banter of the standard Windows vs. Mac and enjoyed teasing Windows-users of how things should work.

Yesterday, I learned of a YALS (Yet-Another-Law-Suit) against Microsoft. Very blatantly it stated: Microsoft Banned from Selling Word in the US. I am not the one to get into deep analysis (I have personally found it a useless waste of time) but in short it means that while this judgement holds, MS will not be able to sell MS-Word in the United States. To my legally-unsound mind this comes across as stupid, notwithstanding the merits of the case, whatever they were. But it’s not about the case, is it? Neither is it about the ban.

It is about how we have come to live in this numb sensitive world. We are to be sensitive to every emotion and feeling of the other that overlaps our sense of being.

One question always manages to surface: why is it that we are never the ones that are the other? Is it me? Why do I feel that my sense of being is always compromised? Why do I have to be sensitive to the loud, out-of-rhythm, crass cacophony of Janmashthami noise blaring in my window, but they never need to be sensitive to my need to have a quiet evening?

The obvious answer being that of: size does matter. But then why does MS get cornered every time when someone feels threatened? Be it browsers or be it word-processors, the Goliath gets struck every time. Success stings. Everyone just wants to get to that level and a very few ever do it on their own accord. How do they make it happen? They go to the court. The court that settles competitive issues is the last refuge of the weak.

I cannot but help being reminded of the courtroom scene in Atlas Shrugged, when Hank Rearden is in the dock. Some of you have obviously read the entire book and may remember this scene. Hank Rearden says:

“I will not help you to pretend that I have a chance. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of righteousness where rights are not recognized. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of rationality by entering a debate in which a gun is the final argument. I will not help you to pretend that you are administering justice.”

“But the law compels you to volunteer a defense!”

There was laughter at the back of the courtroom.

“That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen,” said Rearden gravely, “and I will not help you out of it. If you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition—which you cannot force—that makes you possible. I choose to be consistent and I will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, I will do it at the point of a gun. If you sentence me to jail, you will have to send armed men to carry me there—I will not volunteer to move. If you fine me, you will have to seize my property to collect the fine—I will not volunteer to pay it. If you believe that you have the right to force me—use your guns openly. I will not help you to disguise the nature of your action.”

The eldest judge leaned forward across the table and his voice became suavely derisive: “You speak as if you were fighting for some sort of principle, Mr. Rearden, but what you’re actually fighting for is only your property, isn’t it?”

“Yes, of course. I am fighting for my property. Do you know the kind of principle that represents?”

“You pose as a champion of freedom, but it’s only the freedom to make money that you’re after.”

“Yes, of course. All I want is the freedom to make money. Do you know what that freedom implies?”

“Surely, Mr. Rearden, you wouldn’t want your attitude to be misunderstood. You wouldn’t want to give support to the widespread impression that you are a man devoid of social conscience, who feels no concern for the welfare of his fellows and works for nothing but his own profit.”

“I work for nothing but my own profit. I earn it.”

I believe you have understood where I stand. As a context, let me tell you that I have used MS-Word since it was v2.0. If I ever have to rank all the software that I have used, MS-Word would top it. Hands down. After two years, my hands itch for the consistency and robustness of that software. Unfortunately, it sucks on a Mac.

I really don’t care what grouse i4i has against MS-Word. It is baseless. For its own “profit” it will deny all future users the experience of using the best word-processor ever.

How is that any different from what MS does? May MS file a case against them tomorrow? Or will being weak and small make people strong in the new world order?

The courts will have to decide.

Stories in a Stream

Sixteen users voted on the first poll I ever conducted on this blog. 75% said that I should merge some of my blog into this one.

 

I was crestfallen with the result: I like having a few blogs here and there and writing differently for them. For those of you have been reading my other blogs and possibly voted against (apart from those who have been reading my other blogs and have voted for, only from a convenience point of view) will know that each blog, over time, has developed a character of its own. It is not just the writing style, but even the mood that defines which blog I choose, and when. I have decided I will not merge the blogs.

Those of you who voted for the merger, do not despair. I cannot not respect your verdict. I found a way in which I could write in different places, yet provide a platform where all my blogs (and more) comes together in a single place.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the newest story-teller on the block.

My digital lifestream is now at:

http://atulsabnis.storytlr.com (UPDATE: The service has now shutdown, this URL is now defunct)

and it seems that I have found what I really wanted.

First thanks, without doubt, is to Mahendra, who is so wonderfully involved in social media, he is an inspiration. His is indeed an unquiet mind and I am so grateful for it.

What is Storytlr?

It is a lifestreaming application and I have got all my blogs, photos, and bookmarks aggregated over there. Now instead of subscribing to all my blogs, you could subscribe to stream and get to read all that I write (and click – mouse and shutter alike) in a single place.

Some of you may find that a bit overwhelming, but I hope you will give it a try. Especially, if you are fatigued by subscribing to multiple feeds from my web-presence.

Of course, if you are following me on Twitter you will any way get all the updates.

Now, allow me to Google a similar application which does the same for my non-digital life.

Remains of the Day: 002

When I wrote Hello, Books, a few days ago, there was that excitement of having read a book after a long time. Amply evident, I guess. It even spawned a good conversation, like most books are supposed to.

Then, yesterday, I blogged about cosmic conspiracies. The theme of books continued. I recently also called off a fiery and an impetuous love affair with Twitter. Some of you may have noticed that I have made frugal, my space in Facebook.

Today, my computer crashed, taking along with it everything that I had put there, all these years. Such an event usually triggers a tsunami of anxiety within; often in a way that I cannot contain or control. No chance of recovery, they said. Have to replace.

I do not know why, this time, I was pretty nonchalant (for me, i.e.). Even when the engineer said it would take half a week, before I got an empty computer back, things didn’t quite bother me. Perhaps, it was because, after the last time this happened to me, I mutated into a backup Nazi. In spite of this, I was randomly accessing what I had done in the last fortnight, which may have missed my backup schedule. Nothing critical came to mind. A few emails here and there, which I could manage.

A doctor and a friend (two different people) once told me that falling sick is your body’s way of telling you to stop, or at least slow down. A way of telling you to take rest.

I have to learn to put advice in context and write complete posts.

So Much for Socialisation

One issue I have struggled with for some time; if I should consolidate all my blogs in one. Truly speaking, only one blog ever gets all the attention (and I do not mean site traffic only). None of my other blogs has a post count anywhere close to five hundred. While I have started many a blog, I do not write frequently on all of them.

Along came Facebook, and I enjoyed throwing sheep at people (though I have yet to find any usefulness of the act; perhaps that is the purpose), and a while later, the excitement dwindled when sheep-currency started falling out of favour. It now works for me as an over-engineered contact list of sorts.

There was always Flickr, I have some amazing photographers as Flickr Friends, and that place continues to inspire. Lately, however, Flickr has become quite personal in a way that I hardly socialise. My work hasn’t evolved much since I put my first photograph there.

Somewhere on the way I encountered Twitter. I never warmed up to it for a very long time, till some folks in the place where I work, decided to work on an experiment using Twitter. I discovered new ways of using Twitter and have been flushing my Twitter API tank more frequently than before. Now, the interest seems to be waning.

No Escape (b)

I remember, I even had a MySpace account once. A Yahoo 360. A Photoblog account, which are now pretty much defunct. There are many others, where I am (or was) present.

It is almost like being everywhere by not being anywhere. Yet you feel omnipresent. Like God, sans the superpowers. There is, I can sense, a form of Web 2.0 fatigue I experience. It is almost stressful, in a way.

There are more means to express than expression is possible.

Of Excitement

All new things are exciting. In some way or the other. But not all exciting things require that the excitement be overtly expressed. Sometimes you just allow yourself to be one with the excitement.

Perhaps age speaks here. Perhaps the assasination of all that was once exciting before. In the end it doesn’t matter.

You learn to be happy alone.

I’ll Be There, Will You?

Will you be part of the World Record?

Have fun!

Recently Converted

I have recently converted to diigo.com. Read my post about diigo here and if you do choose to join, happy to link up!

If you are into all things Web 2.0 this is a (new) must-have!

Yet Another Bout of Schizophrenia

I willed the bus to go faster.

I wasn’t in a hurry, the couple, standing in the space for the buggies and the wheelchair, really needed to be elsewhere. Eventually, they got down. I was happy. For them and for me. I wouldn’t need to count tile-flakes on the bus floor, avoiding eye-contact.

I was reminded of “Duncan”, by Paul Simon:

Couple in the next room
bound to win a prize:
they’ve been going at it all night long!
Well, I’m tryin’ to get some sleep
but these motel walls are cheap:
Lincoln Duncan is my name,
and here’s my song, here’s my song.

Full Song

It was an interesting day, I had had. One thing led to another and all that we were led to, was proof of life; tomorrow was worth all the troubles of today.

One exciting and animated conversation was aborted when we arrived at Victoria. People must have been watching me, my mate was probably relieved at seeing the doors open (for me) at Victoria. Thirty-six free newspapers lay on the floor on the connecting tube on my way home. News isn’t the purpose anymore – when most people don’t pay for news. The problem with free, is the problem of choice – the lack of it. Paper is environmentally friendly, waste it as you please. Waste anything that’s bio-degradable.

A fellow blogger and I have had arguments about translations. Which reminded me, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Mahalaxmi Iyer’s song, “Bol Na Halke Halke” is in-translatable. Yet there was this question of how I would tell you the experience of that moment.

YouTube video to the rescue.

I wouldn’t dare translate it in English. Watch it.

If you don’t know the language, just think of the moon, its light, how you would steal it; light threads on a beautiful night, of being shy, in your lover’s arms, speaking softly, kissing softly. Trading all night with the currency of dreams, how two-three words took ages to be uttered, their simplicity not withstanding. Perhaps, asking her why I took so long to say the most simplest of the phrases – I love you. She saying, I always knew.

But, suffice it, for now, that even a tomb is a possible sign of love. A signature. The final expression of a love that has been and will remain forever. I have seen many benches in parks in the UK that I have treated with respect. So small in structure, so heavy in expression.

So, while, “Bol Na Halke Halke” (Say it, softly, softly) rings in my ears, I pick on of the thirty-six newspapers on the floor. The newspaper is an instant flashing view of the world around me. Personally, I have been too disappointed with newspapers to give them any credit. Yet, out of habit, I pick this one newspaper that survives on advertisements – and sells for nought.

The world in your two hands for nought.

“Britney must survive on GBP 745 a week”
“LA gangs come to London”

Then an advertisement at the bottom of the newspaper: “YOU could be the next Mayor of London!”

I am immune. Another fellow blogger wonders why I never comment on her posts. She writes about things that are socially relevant – to you and me. To the world that we live in. She makes sense. Perhaps she may understand, now. 2 billion pounds is the amount that, “Churches, mosques, synagogues and other faith communities” contribute to the economy. (We are talking only UK here)

I am 22 pages past, “The God Delusion.” I have to stop. The book questions my ‘acquired beliefs” and those that I held as true.

Just below the above excerpt, a model admits she is “addicted to cheeseburgers – and that’s the real reason she quit Los Angeles to return home.”

Why does Britney have to survive on $1500 a week? Father now controls her spending, but they did allow her to have a credit card, “so she can have her freedom and make choices about how to enjoy her life.” Right. She earns the money, you get to control it. And only because her behaviour is unacceptable. When you buy your next CD – you know who is getting the money. Be aware, small changes around us. Like Britney? Pay her father. She doesn’t deserve it, the immoral calf. A moral code. Your moral code. Her father’s moral code. The social code.

It is 31 degrees C in Goa, India. The heat is on. Scarlett Keeling’s murder. They covered it, we covered, they were negligent, we screwed up, they screwed up, let’s have intellectual fog in 31 degrees. Fog. Any fog is nice.

Control

Parents

Blame

Shift

Responsibility. Rather assignment of responsibility. What is responsibility? Who is?

Brian Paddick promises not to have high rises in London. Ken promises more. Ken promises cycles for free (first 30mins only) in London. Green. Whatever happened to the phrase – paint the town red. We will soon see a different colour. Let’s borrow two bikes for 30 mins. Let’s paint the town green. Cities yearning to be a village.

I am now a believer. I wasn’t, before. I believe: global warming is a serious problem. It is a problem of extreme magnitude. The amount of attention we give to this problem obscures the real problems. Poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, disparity, urban crowding, cultural misunderstanding, and such. Global warming affects us all. It blinds us to the real problems that truly affect us all.

Budget is due – the highlight – it is a green budget. “Despite fears that voters are losing interest in eco-friendly issues, he [Alistair Darling] will target high-street chains such as John Lewis in the greenest ever budget.” Oh, and of course, “Above-inflation rises on cigarettes and alcohol.”

Statistics.

The new open-source toy that we discovered. Open and indifferent to abuse. “3m – the amount of plastic waste (in tonnes) generated annually in the UK.”

But enough about the newspaper. Your newspaper doesn’t look any different. And you know so, yet we fight about issues.

The mood is discordant. The music in my ears, “Bol Na Halke Halke” (now on repeat) is incongruent with the world I live in. I see movies like “Love, Actually” and the next morning I step into a different world. I have been to Heathrow more times than I have ever taken a flight. (here is some trivia for you – I have never been received at Heathrow) I have my own scenes of people meeting their loved ones (think: last scene of Love, Actually) and that has been far better than the ‘voice-overed’ scenes of the film as true as they may be. Yet, the constant “will destroy your unattended luggage; don’t smoke here; report suspicious items” announcements are as real as the tears of the grandmother seeing her grandchild for the first time. Believe me, 99% of people I receive at the airport turn up 45 minutes later than they are supposed to. I get to see many scenes. So many scenes of people meeting people as they cross boundaries.

We know all is real. All is important. Why this dissonance? How do we survive this simultaneous irony? Did we miss something? Something important?

In an effort to set the world right, we are living in a world that is terribly going wrong.

PS: Earlier bouts occurred here

Ways of Seeing – 5

The time when I was just about to leave college after graduation was a time when most elders were asking me to get further education. There will be a better job for you if you get post-grad certification, they said. I thought, if I get a job now, earn, I might be able to sponsor my post-graduation.

Seems the time has come.

My recent fascination of making good use of gadgets is iTunesU.

I listen to more lectures online than I listen to music on my iPod. The most open campus in the world! I can choose which lectures I attend. I can choose which university I attend. Nothing beats a formal education and the real campus experience, but I am not complaining.

For those of you who don’t yet know about it, iTunes has a section, called iTunesU. Some very well-known universities have put significant content online for you.

Free.

One of the colleges I go to is the Otis College of Art and Design, specifically their Liberal Arts & Sciences section.

In this section, I subscribed to their course material on Introduction to Visual Culture. This is where I first saw the photograph by Robert Frank, in my previous post.

There is an amazing body of knowledge in that photograph. I know it now because I have heard the lecture. But here is the deal. At one level, this lecture tells you all that this photograph denotes and connotes (the three lectures are about representation, denotation and connotation) and so I know a lot about this particular photograph. I know the depth and breadth of what this photograph may mean, from the lecturer’s point of view. At another level, the lecture opens up a world of possibilities of ways of seeing.Beyond that specific photograph.

I was a bit taken aback at the level at which the lecturer explored meaning in that photograph. The discrete, the abstract. The known, the unknown. The contextualised and the not. How many layers of meaning does the photograph have? How much are you willing to delve and dive in? What is your own meaning; is it clouded by the meaning that someone else has made? Finally, are all the layers truly meaningful or just abstract banter for the sake of it, and therefore, what is meaning?

What you see is limited only by your curiosity to know; what you mean is limited by your means of making your meaning.

In Absentia (BW)