December 25, 2013

2013 : A Review

This year is as good as over. This also brings a lot of 'regrets' like past many years. Things that could have been better, stuffs that I could have done, habits that I could have created, skills that I could have learned and all. I am also aware that I am not alone sulking with this kind of thinking at this time of year.

So instead, I thought to concentrate on the positives that came of this year (and even though it's a little difficult to digest, but for every person, every year brings with it some positives). I enumerate them not to gloat how awesome I am (I already know that!), but in the hope that it will inspire me to achieve more next year (I am betting 2014 to be the best  year of my life yet), and also inspire anyone reading this to think what good this year brought to their lives.

1. Realized the dream of running a half marathon: No goal that is achieved, is achieved the way it was conceived to be achieved. But nevertheless, I bit the bullet, put in the hard work and achieved it. The number of 2:54 hours might not be impressive enough but it does give me a lot of confidence that I can set my sight on numerous other goals and convert them from dream to reality.

Believe me this is not photoshopped ;)

2. Started composing poems in English:  When I started writing poems 2 years ago I wrote mostly in Hindi. But, this year especially in the second half, I wrote almost exclusively in English (along with one in Punjabi!) and that gives me a lot of confidence. This year took me past 100 poems and hence the dream of writing 1000 compositions continues to live. I understand that whatever I write is nowhere near professional, but I can testify that there has always been at least one person (not always the same) who has genuinely appreciated every single thing that I wrote this year. A few people also didn't hesitate to tell the same compositions as 'not up to the mark' or 'bad'. You guys are my creative fuel, thanks again.

3. Became a better professional: When I started the year, I was in a sad position of being just a rookie - a 'fresher' as a lot of people like to call. Not being confident of my own abilities (due to lack of opportunities to prove myself - to myself). There came even a point where I seriously considered quitting and trying something else. Now as I end this year, I am amply more confident. I have started to feel that whatever problems come, I have the ability to solve it, sooner or later. And this is extremely important not just in my line of work, but the life in general.

4. Made new friends: This one should probably have been at the top. I feel that finding people whom you won't mind talking even after 2-3 decades from now, is extremely important and I think I found at least 2 such people this year. I also strengthened the bond with the existing ones although a few left the vicinity. It was quite a fruitful year in that respect.

5. Reached the 60 Kg mark: This might sound funny, except it's not. Some people are hard loser, I have been a real hard gainer. I didn't gain (or lose) a pound for almost 5 years. So, the fact that I reached 60 Kg for the first time in my life is a big deal. Currently at 61, sights firmly set on the 70 mark now.

6. Bought an ebook reader (tablet) and became a 'Reader': Ever since I had heard about the concept of ebook readers, I was hooked! You could literally carry a whole library with you. Now, that after years of dreaming when I finally got the reader, I have actually become a better reader. Believe it or not but I have finished at least 7-8 books in the last 4-5 months alone. And I plan to do a much better job in the coming year. Way to go RavS!

7. Didn't visit doctor whole year: In fact, I don't remember going to doctor last year also. Not a single sick leave since last 2.5 years (although there have been some difficult days of cold, cough and fever). All this might not seem like a very big deal. But you need to ask those who have to see doctors, for various reasons, throughout the year. I might not seem the strongest in the pack, but I certainly have a robust immune system and I am fiercely proud of it.

8. Did quite a few experiments with varied successes : Whether it was killing multiple online identities, quitting FB altogether, being generous for a week, doing the moustache experiment, or starting another blog, publishing 7 posts on a single day (it was a disaster, nobody read any), learning to skip ropes (so wanted to learn this) , it's been quite fun doing all this. Even the 3 wishes at the start of this year, were a mild success I would argue.

So, there you go. All these are just top of the mind stuffs. 2013 even after being a pretty standard year did quite a few good things for me. What good did it bring to you?

November 30, 2013

10 reasons why I am voting for AAP... And why you should too.

Delhi goes to Election on the 4th of December, and if you live in Delhi with a valid Voter-ID, I sincerely hope that you will go and cast your vote. Because if you don't, then you would be worse than those who can't caste their vote and those who don't know the value of casting a vote.

Now, I write this piece to try and garner your vote in favor of the party I myself am voting this time: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). But before I start, I just want to clarify a few things:

  • I have affiliated myself as a member of AAP, so yes I am quite biased towards them. But I don't get paid nor do I hold any position in their party. I am just writing this from the POV of a fan.
  • If you think that someone else can do a better job in your area than the AAP party and their candidates, I believe that you must vote for that particular party/candidate only. When it comes to betterment of society, ends matter more than the means.
  • I must say, when they started last year, like many others I was also skeptical. I was unsure what a party of newcomers would be able to do in an year against stalwarts with decades of experience of the "dirty game". But they proved me and many others wrong and now have truly won me over!
  • I do not like a lot of things that some of their leaders/members do and say (like maligning other parties/candidates). I find some of the things that they promise highly impractical (like "Bijli" at half the rates). But they seem confident, so I want to give them the benefit of doubt. But, if these guys don't deliver what they promise (if given a chance), I won't hesitate to write and debate against them. 

Taken from AAP's twitter handle

Here are a few reasons I am voting for AAP. I hope you will find merit in my reasoning and at least think about giving them a chance:

1. They are the underdogs: I understand what it means to be an underdog, what it means to be sidetracked simply because you don't have enough experience, enough credentials to show your potential. But the thing is, unless you give someone a chance you will never know what they are capable of. They don't have the big names like NaMo or RaGa to campaign for them, but they 

2. They don't know how to do politics: If you see the way the leaders of AAP talk you would know that they are not your traditional politicians. They just don't know how to sugarcoat their thoughts to suit or convince everyone. They talk straight and the best thing, they admit when they make mistake. Now, I don't agree to their each and every sentence but I can relate to their thoughts. I can feel them to be one of us, one of the Aam Aadmis.

3. They walk their talk (or at least try to): Recently they took back the candidature of one of their candidates (from Rajouri Garden) when they found that he had hidden the fact that he had a criminal case against him. They have announced that that particular seat will remain empty from AAP's side. I haven't heard of anything like this before in Indian politics. So, while I can't say a lot about the capability these remaining 69 candidates, at least I can bank on their integrity and that really is a big thing for me.

4. They are innovative: Here is where it gets interesting. Local manifestos for each constituency made in collaboration of the local people in something that's unheard of, at least for me. Collecting election-money from the janta itself and putting every transaction online is an commendable thing to do. I haven't even heard of even NGOs revealing their sources of income. Both the party name and party symbols are well thought of. It gives me a sense that there are active thinking and intelligent people working behind the curtains. 

5. They are fearless: Being just an year old party, debuting in elections they don't have anything to lose. And that gives them the leverage to ask their party leader to stand against the Delhi's CM of 15 years. That gives them the 'ridiculous' hope to win the elections and not just settle for a few seats. And to even think this is a recipe for madness, but I have an inclination for such mad people.

6. They connect: I (being a member) get their email almost every other day explaining their strategy or asking for help. Almost every member of AAP is active on twitter (and I believe on FB as well) and talk directly to the Aam janta. They post Youtube videos in droves.  The party leader directly comes to radio and asks for vote straight forward, no bullshit or stupid songs involved. Their "Call Delhi" campaign is a brilliant idea. This makes me believe that they aren't just after my vote, they really do care about me being involved in their efforts. So different from other party candidates who have all of a sudden started making appearances in my locality and hugging people while asking for votes. 

7. I vote for development and development only: Unlike older generations,  today's youth doesn't believe in 'traditional voting'. I have no qualms to say that I had voted for Congress in both State and National Elections last time, because I genuinely believed that they had taken the city and the nation forward. But for various reasons, they have lost my faith in last 5 years. State elections, we know are about local issues. I have a BJP MLA in my area and a BJP-led MCD, but I don't see much development done since last elections. I have been waiting for potable water supply since past 7 years of living in my area. The sewage system remains abysmal. The lanes are constructed only a few months before the elections. So, this time I am giving a chance to a new party, a new player, in the hope that all this will change. And if even they fail to deliver, I won't have any problem giving someone else a chance next time.

8. I connect with their ideology: I don't understand the "holistic development" idea of Congress, or the Hinduism of BJP, nor do I get the Secularism plank of parties like SP and JDU. I fail to connect with the Communism of CPM or the dalit-favoritism of BSP, TMC etc. I wasn't around when all these parties were formed. But in the case of AAP, I know why it formed and what it wants to do. And I can't wait to see what it will be able to achieve in the coming years.

9. I find their leaders worth following: Whether it be Arvind Kejriwal or Prashant Bhushan or Kumar Vishwas Or Yogendra Yadav, they all have different styles, but it's fun to listen to all of them. And when you listen you know they are passionate about changing the system, and  passion is what we need in politics. Isn't it?

10. The system can really be changed from inside only: I respect Anna and what he did and has done. But I haven't really been a fan of his fasts-till-death. It feels like blackmailing to me. If the Government elected by the people of India doesn't want certain things to be done, or is going against the wishes of its own people, I believe it's better to change the damn Government instead of blackmailing it through fasts or courts.

Now, do I seriously think that AAP is going to form the Govt. this time? Do I really think the AAP candidate from my area is going to win? NO and NO.

So, why bother voting at all, you might ask? Why not instead vote for a party that has a chance to win? You see, this is the kind of mentality that I don't buy. My question is even if you were all but certain to lose, won't you even fight? Would you join the pigs if the pigs are in majority?

I don't really care if my single vote doesn't make any difference in the end-result of my favored candidate; at least I will know in my heart that I gave vote to someone whom I believed in. And in that, I think my vote won't be wasted. 

I don't really know a lot about the candidate whom I am going to vote this time, but at least I have faith in the party to which he belongs. Otherwise, I was seriously considering the shiny new "vote for rejection" this time.

I can't say what's going to happen in the elections this time around, but one thing is sure that AAP has really made these elections interesting. In last one decade of following it, I have never been this excited about the politics, ever before!

November 03, 2013

"साहब केसुआ"

घर पहुँचने में देर हो चुकी थी। गुड़िया वहाँ परेशान हो रही होगी, उसने ही तो मुझे पठाखे लाने के लिए भेजा था। खुद भी आना चाहती थी लेकिन उसे गोद में लेकर पूरा बाजार घूमने के झंझट से बचने के लिए मैंने ही मना कर दिया। अब दीवाली के दिन तो कोई न कोई मिल ही जाता है। फिर उनसे दो घडी बात न करो तो वो भी बुरा मान जाते हैं। बस यही करते-करते दो घंटे बीत चुके थे। अब घर पहुँच कर मेरी शामत ही थी। मिसेज़ जी तो आज गला ही दबा देंगी।पिछले एक घंटे में 3 बार कॉल कर चुकी थी।घर पर मेहमान आ रहे थे और मैं यहाँ बाजार-हाट ही कर रहा हूँ। आखिर मैंने ये सब खरीदारी कल ही क्योँ न ख़त्म कर ली।उफ़...

यही सब सोचता हुआ मैं तेजी से बाजार कि तंग गालियां से होता हुआ घर को भागा जा रहा था।गलियोँ में तो आज मानो सारा संसार ही उमड़ आया था।अगर यहाँ जरा भी भगदड़ मच जाए तो लेने के देने पड़ जाएँ।मुझे एहसास हुआ कि लेट-लतीफी का शिकार मैं ही नहीं, पूरा इलाका था !

ठाकुर साहब दिवाली मुबारक हो! अपना पान तो लेते जाईये ! - लाला साहब पान वाले ने मुझे गली के दूसरे छोर से अपने खोखे में बैठे-बैठे ही आवाज दी।
नहीं लाला साहब आज घर पर बहुत मार पड़ने वाली है, मुझे इजाजत दीजिये। कल आता हूँ - मैं भी सलाम ठोक कर आगे बढ़ गया।
लाला साहब मन मसोस कर रह गए।लगता था आज उनकी दुकान बहुत ज्यादा नहीं चली थी।

 आज कॉलोनी देखते ही बनती थी। लोगों ने कितने प्यार से अपने घरों को सजाया था।किसी ने बल्बों कि लड़ियाँ तो किसी ने फूलों कि माला से अपना घर पाट ही दिया था।और अब जैसे जैसे सूरज देवता विदा होने लगे थे, वैसे वैसे आकाश में आतिशबाजियों का सिलसिला शुरू होता जा रहा था। वाह! क्या खुशनुमा दिन था। लोगों के चेहरे पर कितनी ख़ुशी थी।अपने अपने दुखों को भुला कर कितने प्यार से एक-दूसरे से गले मिल रहे थे।ये दिन रोज ही क्यों नहीं आता?

साहब! - मैं सड़क पार करने की कोशिश में जुटा था कि तभी किसी ने मुझे आवाज दी।मैंने पीछे मुड़कर देखा तो एक 9-10 साल का लड़का मेरी तरफ देख रहा था। मैले कुचले फटे से कपडे , नंगे पाँव, धूल से सना बदन, बिखरे लम्बे बाल। दीवाली के दिन तो ऐसे लोगों को दुनिया से ओझल ही हो जाना चाहिए। मैंने जुन्झुला कर पूछा - क्या है ?

लड़का कुछ सोच में पड़ गया।मुझसे रहा नहीं गया - देख लड़के अगर तुझे  पैसे चाहिए तो ये ले पांच रूपये और दफा हो। मेरी बेटी घर पर मेरा इन्तेजार कर रही है, मेरा पिंड छोड़।

इतना कह कर मैंने पांच रूपये का एक सिक्का उसकी तरफ फेंक दिया।लड़के ने जमीन से सिक्का उठाया और मुझे वापस कर दिया।

साहब मुझे पैसे नहीं चाहिए, हो सके तो कुछ खरीद कर खिला दीजिये। आज पूरे दिन से कुछ नहीं खाया।

भाई, तो एक काम कर तू ये 50 रूपये का नोट ले और खुद ही कुछ खरीद कर खा लियो।

नहीं साहब, मैं ये रूपये नहीं ले सकता। वो पीछे वो बब्बन खड़ा है न पीछे, वो मुझसे ये पैसे छीन लेगा।आप ही कुछ खरीद कर खिला दीजिये साहब।- लड़के ने मुझे क़तर नज़रों से देखा।

मैंने पीछे देखा तो एक करीब 16 - 17 साल का लड़का कुछ और लड़कों के साथ खड़ा हमारी और ही देख रहा था।

कौन है ये बब्बन? - मुझे देर तो हो रही थी लेकिन मैं फंस चुका था।

साहब, इसके बाबू मेरे चाचा लगते हैं। मैं इन्ही के परिवार के साथ वो स्टेशन के पीछे जुग्गी - झोपड़ियों में रहता हूँ। दिन भर कूड़ा करकट उठा कर शाम को किसी कबाड़ कि दूकान पर बेच देते हैं, तो उसी से 30-50 रूपये कि कमाई हो जाती है।लेकिन ये बब्बन हमेशा मेरे आधे पैसे छीन लेता है।आज तो कुछ कमाई भी नहीं हुई, और भूख से मरा जा रहा हूँ। कुछ खिला दो न साहब।

मैंने घडी कि तरफ देखा।7 लगभग बज ही चुके थे।लेकिन आज दीवाली के दिन किसी कि हाय लेना भी ठीक नहीं था।मैं उसे बगल के एक ढाबे पर ले गया।

आर्डर लेने के लिए एक अधेड़ महाशय पधारे। लड़के को देखते ही आग बबूला हो गए  - ओये तू क्या यहाँ कर रहा है ? चल भाग यहाँ से हरामी सूयर। 

तमीज से बात करो। ये मेरे साथ है - मैंने आवाज ऊंची करके कहा।

महाशय सकते में आ गए - लेकिन ...

लेकिन वेकिन कुछ नहीं , एक काम कीजिये एक वेज़ थाली और एक कप चाय जल्दी ले आईये। - महाशय आँखें तरेरते हुए चले गए।

हाँ भाई, तो तेरे  माता पिता कहाँ हैं ? - मैंने समय काटने के लिए पुछा।

बाबूजी तो बहुत पहले ही चल बसे थे। बस माँ हैं मेरे गाँव में, लेकिन वो भी अक्सर बीमार ही रहती हैं। डॉक्टर कहते हैं कि वो भी ज्यादा दिन नहीं बचेंगी। तो माँ ने मुझे यहाँ पढ़ने लिखने के लिए जबर्दस्ती चाचा के परिवार के साथ दिल्ली भेज दिया।

इतने में खाना आ गया।खाना कोई और ही ले कर आया, महाशय ने आना ठीक नहीं समझा। लड़के कि तरफ थाली कर मैं अपनी चाय  पीने लगा। लड़का कुछ सकुचाया। मैंने पूछे - अब खाता क्यों नहीं?

जी - कह कर वो धीरे धीरे रोटी का निवाला मुंह में डालने लगा। पहले निवाला अभी मुंह में गया ही था कि लड़का सिसकने लगा।

क्या हुआ? रो क्यों रहा है ?

कुछ नहीं साहब। मैंने आज तक कभी भीख नहीं मांगी।गाँव में गरीब होते हुए भी हमेशा माँ ने मुझे रोटी खिलायी है। मगर आज सबह से कुछ नहीं खाया, बहुत भूख लग रही है।मुझे माँ के पास जाना है - इतना कह कर लड़का जोर - जोर से रोने लगा।

मैंने उसे चुप कराने की कोशिश की, लेकिन वो माँ के पास जाने कि ही रट लगाये हुए था।फिर बड़ी मशक्कत के बाद मैंने किसी तरह उसे चुप करा कर, खाना खाने को कहा।

माँ ने चाचा चाची के साथ यह सोच कर भेजा था कि 8-10 तक पढ़कर कोई नौकरी कर लूंगा यहाँ। लेकिन चाचा तो यहाँ सुध भी नहीं लेते।पढ़ना-लिखना तो दूर यहाँ खाना तक मिलना दूभर हो जाता है। ऊपर से वो बब्बन मेरे पैसे मुझसे छीन लेता है। वो तो चोरी भी करता है अपने दोस्तों के साथ मिलकर। लेकिन  चाचा उसी कि तरफदारी करते हैं।मुझे माँ के पास जाना है।

लगता था मानो उसे खाने कि नहीं, किसी के कानो कि जरूरत थी, जिसे वो अपनी कहानी, अपन दर्द सुना सके। मैंने कुछ भी बोलना मुनासिब नहीं समझा।लड़के ने खाना ख़त्म किया और पानी पीकर उठ खड़ा हुआ।

और कुछ नहीं लेगा?

नहीं साहब, बस।

चल भाई फिर अब घर को चलें। - मैंने काउंटर पर जा कर हिसाब चुकता किया और साथ ही उन महाशय को तमीज कि तामील भी मुफ्त दे आया।

और तेरा नाम क्या है?

साहब केसुआ।


माँ ने नाम केशव कुमार रखा था, यहाँ सब केसुआ ही बुलाते हैं।

अच्छा भाई केशव , अब तू अपना रास्ता पकड़, मैं पाना अपना रास्ता नापता हूँ। - इतना कह कर मैंने उसे रवाना किया।

कुछ दूर पहुंचा ही था कि वो फिर सामने आ गया।

साहब मैं भीख नहीं लेता साहब। अगर आपके घर में साफ़ सफ़ाई के लिए कोई जरूरत हो तो मुझे बुला लेना साहब। वर्ना मैं पैसे जोड़कर आपको 40 रूपये दे जाऊँगा। आप अपना घर बता दो साहब। - मैं लड़के की स्वाभिमानिता देख कर दंग रह गया।

भाई मेरे घर में तो ऐसा कोई काम नहीं है, और तुझे पैसे देने कि भी कोई जरूरत नहीं है। फिर भी घर जरूरत पड़े तो  मेरा घर अगली गली मैं चौथे नंबर पर है।

ठीक है साहब, भगवान् आपको खूब तरक्की दे साहब।- कह कर लड़का दूसरी और मुड़ गया।

मैं उसे जाता हुआ कुछ देर देखता रहा, और फिर अपने घर कि ओर चल पड़ा।

रात हो चुकी थी। मोहल्ले में पटाखों और आतिशबाजियों का दौर शुरू हो चुका था,  लेकिन मेरे अंदर कुछ और ही चल रहा था। हमें ईश्वर ने क्या नहीं दिया लेकिन फिर भी हम छोटी छोटी बातों को लेकर परेशान रहते हैं। जरा जरा सी बात पर एक दुसरे से सालों तक बात नहीं करते। और यहाँ ये लड़का अपनी माँ से मिलने के लिए मरा जा रहा है।अपने पिता का चेहरा तक याद नहीं है।पढ़ना चाहता है लेकिन खाने तक के पैसे नहीं हैं।

मैं घर पहुंचा तो गुड़िया गेट पर ही बैठी थी। मुझे देखते ही चहक उठी। सामान रख कर मैंने उसे गोद में भर लिया।कम से कम मेरी गुड़िया के पास तो उसके पिता थे।

October 28, 2013

When it finally comes to the end...

[Note: This post was written about 3 months ago and had been sitting in my draft since then. I wasn't sure of posting it. But today, as I watched the finale of "Dexter", one of my favorite series, and I experienced the same emotions as while watching the end of "The Office". This one deserves to be posted]

The Office promos

I am writing this just after watching the series finale of "The Office". This series was 9 seasons long, and I have spent almost 9 months in watching them all. Naturally, I am filled up with a little bit of emotions after watching the finale.

"The Office" wasn't the greatest TV series, in my humble opinion. It wasn't the most hilarious or the most engrossing. And, after "Michael" left, I must admit, it was downhill from there.  I had started watching "The Office" to somehow related to the situations in 'my office'. There wasn't much to draw parallels about, but there was just something about the characters that kept me hooked to it for this long. And over the course of last one year, I actually watched them grow little by little.

As I said, the last few seasons were nowhere near the level of first few. So, for the past 2 months I wanted to reach the end of the series so as to "move on". But as I watched the last episode, I felt kind of sad. It never has been easy to let go of things for me.

When you spend so much time with people or things, it's only natural to get attached to them. So, even if it comes after years of hardship, when you finally have to say good bye to your college or school mates or to the people with whom you have lived and breathed a few important years of your life, you don't want to do it.

You kind of want that the moment stops right there. That it never unfreezes, because once it does, everything will change. As much as you want them to be, people are not going to remain the same. You are not going to remain the same. New responsibilities, new situations, new challenges, new people are going to come in your life and you just won't be able to hold on to even the memories of the good things that went by.

Of course, it's easy to not fall into this trap by just keeping yourself  'detached'. But, I wonder if we will truly be human, if we will truly be able to experience things, without truly immersing ourselves into it.

Well, "The Office" is finally over and may be soon I will get something new to get hooked with. But I certainly am going to miss this show.

September 11, 2013

Life Goals

  • To be a Source of Happiness
  • To Follow my Fear
  • To be Independent
  • To be Authentic
  • To Experience as much of Life as possible

May 29, 2013

My Phone. My Rules.

I don't like Mobile Phones. Mobile Phone might be single biggest annoying device for introverts like me, ever invented. Life was simpler when I didn't have a phone. But now it has become something that I can't avoid. 

BTW for those uninitiated, I have switched for X2-01 to MMX A89 !

I don't talk to a lot of people on phone during the course of my day. But still I end up attending at least a dozen phone calls from the time I wake up and till I go to bed (and sometimes even later). And this adds to the stress of working under pressure for long hours, travelling long distances daily, sleeping for less than 7 hours etc. No wonder I feel like a zombie on weekends!

I am not sure if I suffer from ADHD but I do have a short attention span. And having such an enticing device only worsens the condition. We all know how we get hooked to a social network and then become so addicted to it that we have to check it every now and then, mostly unconsciously. Phone is far more dangerous in that department. Sitting in your pocket it contains all the social networks that you "Love" so much, it has your songs, it has your audiobooks, the ebooks that you read, your news feed, your videos and what not. And on top of that, it is device which lets hundreds of people who know you (and sometimes don't even know you) connect to you at a moment's notice, unannounced, almost whenever they wish to be. I know this is exactly why phones were invented, but, in between all this just when do you have the time to do what you love, or spend time with yourself, pay attention to the people you are with?

I also have problem talking on phones. So, I don't call people for weeks, even after promising them, sometimes don't pick up the phone because 'I don't feel like talking', or reject a call thinking I would call them later, which mostly never happens. What's worse, this happens even when my good friends or family members call me. And this is of course, inconvenient for them many times, as they might need some urgent help from me which I won't be able to provide. 

So, today through this post, I state a few rules underpinning my usage of mobile device. It's written mostly for myself, but hopefully after reading it you might get inspired to set your own rules. I also make them public so that you can point it to me if/when I break any of these rules. Because, let's face it, phone is an untamed beast which will require some strict discipline to make it work to my advantage.

1. No checking messages/emails/tweets in the morning: A good morning can have a great effect on your day. And there can't be a better start of your morning than doing something for yourself. But when checking your phone is the first thing you do in the morning you are allowing dozens of other things enter your mind, most of them useless thus taking away the precious little mental energy to do something fruitful.

2. When I am focusing on something, my phone must be switched off: How many times it has happened with me that when I am programming, reading a book, an interesting blog, really enjoying my music or a movie, the damn phone starts ringing. I have a choice to reject the call, or silence the ringer but the whole experience gets ruined due to it. 

3. No phone after 11 pm: I am Not the person who can be reached 24x7. Sorry about that. But again, if phone rings after 11 pm, when I am trying to sleep or just relaxing in general, it is a huge put-off. I can't allow that to happen.

4. No phone on Sundays (except when I am working / travelling): Sundays don't feel like Sundays anymore. I don't really remember when was the last time I had a Sunday all by myself, doing nothing but relaxing. So, Sundays must be reclaimed.

5. No checking notifications/Internet at the workstation: Workstations are meant for working, seriously. You don't want anything distracting you.

6. Internet off when not in use: Always-on Internet not only sucks out the battery from my phone, it's also a great distraction through chat notifications.

7. If I get a call, and I don't want to talk right now, then
    a) I Must still pick up the phone, 
    b) Inform the person about my inability to talk right now,
    c) Give them a definite time to call back later
    d) Actually call them at that time
I don't do any of these parts right now.

8. If I have a choice between making a call and sending a message to a person, I must call them: Right now, I use messages because I am an awkward phone conversationist. But an important part of getting better at something is to start practicing it. Also, it's quite obvious text messages/chats, as an alternative form of communication are a huge time-wasters.

9. If I have an important call to make, I do it first thing before checking off anything else from my To-Do list of the day: I repeat, I dread phone calls. But what's gotta be done, gotta be done. Call the person, keep it short and be done with it.

10. I Must answer every phone call immediately if conditions #2, #3, #4 don't apply.

If you are reading this and happen to be my friend, this is an important piece for you as well. Please do not mind, if I am not reachable at a certain point of time.  You can drop me a message if I am not available to pick up my phone, and I promise to call you as soon as possible.  

I know emergencies come and phone calls at off times are inevitable but those should be exceptions rather than the norm. We all have a right to live our life in our own ways. I am just trying to live my life, my way.

May 26, 2013

Devil's Advocate: Facebook

FB led me download my whole profile as HTML files in a neat 60 MB archive. Sweet!

When I wrote about Why I am Leaving Facebook, I was told that probably I am incredibly frustrated with FB to be taking such a decision. And it's as true as it can be. 

But here I want to argue that Facebook is not totally bad. It has a number of great things working to its advantage. Otherwise it wouldn't have sustained its growth year after year for almost last one decade. Otherwise, it wouldn't have over a billion people connected to its network. Otherwise, I wouldn't have taken 2 long years to ditch it...

1. Facebook is a great platform to broadcast: There are some things that you want to share only with your close friends. And for that you pick up the phone and call them. Or just tell them in person.  But the other stuffs like your big and small achievements, the places you went and had fun, the awesome anecdote that played out today etc. ; you want to share with as many people as possible. Facebook does an awesome job in broadcasting such stories.

2. Facebook is big: We all know that almost 1/7th of Earth's  population is on Facebook. This essentially means that almost everyone you meet or have met in your life till now, there is a high probability that they will be available on Facebook. No other platform - twitter, Google+, Pinterest- can match its scale. So, assuming you want to be active on a single social network, it makes sense to have a Facebook account  . Another important point is that we humans are not great in 'Letting Go' of anything, be it possessions or people. And Facebook does a great job in giving us at least an allusion that we are in constant touch with everyone.

3. Facebook integrates everything: You don't need to go to different platforms to play casual games, to chat with friends, to speak your mind, to share photos, to participate in groups, to learn more about bands/artists/communities, to connect with like minded people. Facebook provides all that and more in a single place. Who really wants all their online activities to be disintegrated into gazillions of sites which gives an added stress of keeping up with all the accounts and remembering passwords and all.

4. Facebook is great blogging platform: I love blogging! I love to speak my mind (or should I say Write my mind, for the lack of oratory skills!). People do not realize this, but their medium to long-length Facebook updates make a great blog post to read. And I have enjoyed quite a few of them on Facebook. Creating a full fledged blog is a little intimidating and maintaining it requires dedication. Facebook does away with all those obstacles. Of course, we can say that Twitter also does a similar job and probably even better. But Twitter has a 140 char limit, there is only so much you can express within that confinement. Plus it gets incredibly difficult for your micro-blogs (tweets) to get noticed in a torrent of tweets.

5. Facebook is not going anywhere: Every website you visit has a fairly good integration with Facebook. Almost every small/big business and every flourishing artist has a Facebook page to connect to their fans and take their feedback. There have been so many successful online campaigns organised over Facebook in past few months. I am sure Facebook (and other online platforms) is going to play a pivotal role in upcoming elections. If statistics are anything to go by, Facebook is only getting bigger. So, you can be almost sure its not going the path of Orkut or Google Buzz or Myspace or gazillions of other social networks that came and went by. In the end, you will be the one who has to decide to leave Facebook if ever. Facebook, with all its faults, is not going to leave you, ever!

Personally speaking, I had contemplated about leaving FB so many times in the past, but as I mentioned, the lure of being connected with all the friends at one place was too hard to resist.
  • Although I like blogging, it takes time to create a blog post. And there are many things I cannot post on a blog, or are too trivial to require a blogpost. Facebook filled that gap to perfection. If anything, Facebook helped get better in writing and champion my 'weird' sense of humour.
  • There are only a few times you are able to connect with all your friends together. Facebook provided those opportunities in ample amount. I had so many late nights chatting with Facebook friends and having fun. I would forever be grateful for those moments. 
  • Before coming to Facebook I had very stringent rule of thumb about online interactions: 'My online and offline lives are totally different. I must never mingle the two. And I must share minimum details about who I am, how I look and what I do over the internet.'  Facebook led me break this rule quite a lot, and be a little less... socially awkward. But now, I will definitely be missing out a few important details about my friends' life.
  • If I write something, naturally I want more and more people to read it. Facebook provides a ready made audience that will at least notice your writing and probably read it too. And if you are lucky appreciate it (which matters a lot!) and provide feedback (even more important). Sharing the same thing on other social networks is not that effective because of lack of audience. And I find it intrusive to message/email people, asking them to read my creations. So, leaving Facebook would mean having to let go of an easy medium to share my creations.

So, as I said, leaving Facebook is not as easy as I make it sound like. But I guess, this is what I have to live with if I want to achieve what I have set out to do. I have given it a lot of thought and I guess I was right with my reasons for not having a FB account in first placeHopefully, this will be the last time I would talk about Facebook.

May 20, 2013

An Open Letter to My Reader(s)

Dear Reader(s),

Let me start by thanking you for reading this blog of mine. You might have been following it from its buzzRSH days, might have just started reading it, or might have read a few post here and there; I tell you what, you matter to me!

Every creative person, genius or not, needs an audience. Everytime I post a blog and share it with you, I wait impatiently for your appreciation, and more importantly, your feedback. That is a stamp that I was able to connect with at least a single person, which naturally encourages me to write more stuffs, to explore more ideas. While I might not have been really creative on this blog, I have been an experimenter and the support- direct or indirect- that I have received from you has been invaluable.

The principles with which I started this blog, stand true even today. My first audience is me, and I am very clear about that. But I can't ignore the fact that you have only grown in number over time, and you have spent at least some of your valuable time reading my posts. And so I must apologise that I have not been consistent and I mean really consistent with this blog. It's not fair either to me as a writer or you as a reader.

Writing is not a child's play. It is easier said than done. Thousands of blogs are made everyday but most of them never get more than a handful updates. Innumerous thoughts revolve around everyone's mind; but to recognise them and to sit and stay with them, to put them cohesively, is matter of practise and discipline. Something that I am still working on.

In my latest endeavour to recognise what's important in my life, I am trying to take out all the fluff out of it. I am leaving Facebook soon, and I hope that I will now be able to contribute more to both my blogs. But it will also create a huge problem, because Facebook was an important medium for sharing all the new stuff. Without Facebook, it is going to be up to you to do the hard work to find out and read all the latest updates.

Personally I make use of RSS readers to automatically get new updates of my own favorite blogs. But I know you don't use it. So, I have (re)activated the "Get email updates" functionality. Please do subscribe to this blog through your email ID.

Your continued support is what I desire. I just wish you could be a little more consistent with your feedbacks. Nevertheless, thanks for what you do! Till next time...

Yours Truly,

May 19, 2013

Untitled: Part 7

[Previous Part]

I got down from the busMy head was still spinning from the hard pounding that it had received. It was difficult to make sense of what was going around. I somehow managed to reach the front of the bus. I got a glimpse of a cattle, probably a buffalo, lying in front of the bus. It didn't seem to be bleeding but was limping and trying to get up. 

I tried to make a quick script of what would have happened: the buffalo must have suddenly come in the front of the fast moving bus while trying to cross the road, and the driver despite his best efforts wouldn't have been able to stop the bus from hitting the animal. Result: Bamm!

People had formed a circle around it, and were talking in their own 'alien' language, something that I obviously didn't understand and wasn't interested to understand anyway. I was more concerned about the missing lady. I looked around desperately but she was nowhere to be seen. 

The bus accident in the middle of the busy road had also caused a huge traffic bottleneck. People from behind were slowly trying to move ahead, not forgetting to stop their vehicles for a second and peek to know what had happened.

As I circled around the bus for the third time, the man who had helped me get up, chuckled "heh! Looking someone?" He seemed to have guessed whom I was searching for. I mirrored back the smile and mumbled, "Uhh... Not really!".

"I knowing. She sitting other side" and pointed towards the other side of the road. Clearly the guy wasn't well versed with English, but he did save my day! I saw the lady in black, sitting on the bench under the shade, talking on the phone. I took a huge sigh of relief and passed on a grateful smile to the black guy this time. I could see the glitter in his eyes, as if he had helped me found my long lost treasure without taking even a single penny from it.

As I moved away from him, waving my hand to say good bye, I made sure to make a mental note of how helpful these 'Madraasis' were. If only we "Northies" could make a little more effort in understanding them, we won't have 2 different Indias in a single country.

As I reached the pavement besides the road near the shelter, she was still on the phone talking to somebody, concerned expressions still continuing on her face. Barring a few English words here and there, I struggled to understand the conversation from one side. I realized this was the first time I was hearing her. And what a mesmerizing voice she had!  

If her face hadn't already done it, her voice certainly made me go head over heels. The tone was not too girly but was pretty soft, just like a lady should have, in my humble opinion. And at some places, she was using the word "Ayyyo". The way she pronounced it, was incredibly cute to hear. 

I have come across a tonne of girls in my life till now. Many of them incredibly beautiful. But most of them carried around a 'don't care' attitude that was such a repellent for me. And that smugness reflected in their voice, as if  trying to show how superior they were. Why do girls need to become so rough and tough, that they don't seem like girls anymore?

I was standing near her, but still made sure to be at a distance so as to not cause her any discomfort. After about 10 more mins, she dropped the call, and immediately started looking around. Then suddenly she got up and waived at an auto coming from far. It was already taken, so it didn't stop. Then 2 more autos went by. Same result. 

Disappointed, she gathered her stuffs from the bench and started walking away. But I had done enough of silent stalking by now. I decided either I would talk to her in next 5 minutes or just part my own way. 

So, I followed her, like a pug from a famous advertisement, determined to make my move this time. May be...

[To be continued]

May 17, 2013

Reviewing Shaadi.Com

Even in this age of pop-up blockers and Ad-blockers, some advertisements somehow manage to reach you. Incidentally, I came across an Ad of Shaadi.Com, a marriage portal. Looking closely at the poster, I noticed a number of interesting stuffs. I hope people from Shaadi.Com won't mind my interpretation of their advertisement (which could be way off the mark), or my use of their poster without permission. Here goes:

PS: I did not make any account over it, nor do I have any such plans!

May 15, 2013

A rant against 'Society'

Society: A community of people living in a particular region and having shared customs, laws and organizations.

Society is not really a new concept. Mankind has been living in societies, big or small, since ages. And it even makes sense, you feel much more empowered and secured in a group than as an individual. But what about the concept of society in modern times?

I am an introvert. And as an introvert I seldom feel the necessity to interact with people without any reason. Let me give you two examples here:
  • It's been 7 years since I have shifted to a new neighbourhood, but I still don't know the names of most of my neighbours. I don't know what they do, and how many family members they have. I don't care what they do for a living. And I don't remember taking any kind of help from them, although I might have helped them a few times.
  • When I was in college, we were told to be seniors' pet because ultimately they are going to come handy in all the situations. Now I may be an exception here, but I never really required any senior in any matter whatsoever in my 4 years of college life. And I beg to differ that the situation would have been much different if the seniors were there to 'guide' us.

Now, I am not saying that we shouldn't be interactive with our neighbours/seniors or people who may not be directly or immediately helpful to us. Of course, it's useful to live in harmony with everybody. But, I just want to prove that while it may be difficult in some situations, it's not at all impossible to live sans the help of the society in modern times. All you need is own your support staff (which in most cases is your immediate family and friends).

And this lets me make my main point: if we don't really need society to live in present times, my question is why are we still expected to conform to the arbitrary norms set by this intangible entity called "society"? If I never cared what people in the society are doing, why should I give a rat's arse about what society thinks of my behavior and attitude?

Again, I am not saying that we shouldn't behave ourselves or be allowed to do whatever the heck we think of. That will invite nothing but chaos. I am just saying that I don't feel the need of this society's acceptance to do something. My only concern has been and will always be what my family and friends think of me. Whether they accept me for who I am or if they have some problem with anything that I do.

So, what's the catch then? The problem is that your near & dear ones don't feel the same. And it's their self-inflicted need to behave in accordance with what the "society" wants:
  • Nobody cares if I wear certain types of clothes but your family wants you to be a 'gentleman'. They don't want the society to think that you are a 'rogue'.
  • People might not notice your drinking/smoking habits, but your friends won't want to be seen with a chain smoker/addict.
  • There is an extreme pressure on you to live up to your family's expectations by getting education from the best institutions possible and bag that top-notch job, so that the family doesn't feel humiliated by hearing the relative's kids' salary tab.
  • Your spouse would want you to behave in a certain way so that They don't feel embarrassed in a party.

...And you will have to oblige, because you love them!

I feel that there are just too many unsaid rules, besides those that are stated in Law, which one must follow in order to live up to the 'expectations' of the society. Otherwise, you will be branded a 'rebel' or a 'loose character'. 
  • You won't get good matches to marry (as if this is the ultimate goal of life).
  • You won't have too many friends (why so much pressure to have 100s of friends?). 
  • Society won't accept you as their own (I ask who gave this society the right to tell what's wrong and right for us?).

I don't know where it ends. And I don't understand why this society can't let us live our own damn path3tic life? Why does it need to interfere in every matter of our life? 

Or may be all this is just not true at all. May be everyone is only concerned about themselves and they don't have time to think what others are doing (at least I don't). May be this pressure to live up to the society's high standards are created by our own fickle minds. Nobody actually gives a rat's arse. 

Think about it. 

May 14, 2013

My Tux Story

Long ago I wrote about How I bid XP goodbye and I also mentioned a little bit about my love for Linux. Here I elaborate my decade long journey with Linux OS and my current views on it. 

*Initial Days* 
I heard about the word Linux probably towards the dawn of 21st century when I was in mid school. And like many others it was simply an alien word for me. I knew that it was an Operating System that only geeks used(!). Computers at home were a rarity at that time, so using Windows OS itself was a new and exciting XPerience for me. I had not idea I would become a regular Linux user someday. 

*When it all started* 
By the time I passed school, I had a fair idea that Linux is in fact not just used by scientists, but also by some regular users. But I still hadn’t tried it yet. I now had a computer at home (with a Windows XP copy which I had no idea was pirated!). While the Linux OS kept me intrigued, I didn’t knew how to get hold of it. Then one day I got a Live CD of (a pretty redundant distro) dyne:bolic. After much resistance, I finally gave it a try. And it really was a surreal experience! After a coo! picture of Tux and some geeky Matrix style texts flowing on the monitor, I got to use a GUI which was quite different from Windows. But it wasn't as scary as I had heard in myths about Linux. 

*Growing Up* 
Dyne:Bolic made me realize that you can access the whole system using an OS on a compact disk! Sometime later I would try Ubuntu (6.10, I think). And it was even coo!er than dyne:bolic. But it didn’t play MP3s and it was disappointing (codecs issue, but I didn’t know why at that time). But I continued to fiddle with a lot of new live CDs (even ended up creating and wasting a bunch of CDs in the process), also learnt to use virtualization mechanisms to try out Linux OS. I even ended up installing a few of distros on the hard disk (funny I was kind of pro in installing Linux, but had never installed a Windows OS by myself at that time!). But the experiment was mostly cosmetic, and would remain confined to exploring the GUI environments (GNOME, KDE, LXDE, XFCE, xterm, you name it!) and a few installed applications. 

Current OS: Linux Mint: Maya Cinnamon

*Teething problems* 
But almost none of Distros I tried came with codecs pre-installed, meaning I won’t be able to play audio-video. Codecs required an internet connection and I was still at least 2 years away from getting one. I still believe that the Linux experience is half without an internet connection. So, I remained a loyal Windows user. I had Linux as an undergraduate subject and it helped me learn more about the OS, giving me a new perspective about Linux itself. Ubuntu was innovating fast, and they made the Wubi software which allows one to install Linux ‘inside’ Windows. This again allowed me to try out more of Linux (albeit with a few quirks), but I was still not comfortable using it as a primary OS. 

*And then 2010 happened* 
I got the Internet connection and while I continued using Ubuntu inside Windows, the experience wasn’t complete (I wanted to try Compiz and its coo! visual effects!). At some point I would turn to Linux Mint and was instantly hooked to their “Isadora” version (even did a review for it!). So, I decided to give Linux (Mint) a full blown try. But with my fetish for the latest versions, I decided to patiently wait till the end of the year (November) to get the newer version, installed it the same night it released. Hacked to find out how to run Internet over it (my ISP required me to use a software to log in before using Internet, which wasn’t available for Linux). And, BTW, we also made (compiled actually) a small Linux OS of our own during this period! 

*The journey* 
Today it's been close to three years of me becoming a full blown Linux Convert. Like all great journeys, it was also full of adventures. There used to be a time when I would swear by Windows. Then, I started hating Windows (and all Microsoft products in general). So much that I would even hate a Windows lover/user. For me, Linux was supreme, once and for all. But, now after 'actually' being a Linux user for sometime, I know Linux has its faults too, and while I still continue to preach about Linux, I do not have problems using Windows (more so when I have started using a legal copy now!). But, the dream to use a Macintosh still remains to be fulfilled! 

*At Last*
I can proudly say I have helped at least half a dozen people to try Linux and most of them are still using it happily. If you are (still!) reading this and have never given Linux a try, I would urge you to do so. If you try it out with an open mind, I am sure you will Love this beautiful OS. 

And I hope I don’t need to elaborate why you should give it a try. (Oh I just did!).

May 13, 2013

Why I am Leaving Facebook... Forever.

On 29th of May 2013, I will be completing 2 years on Facebook and I will use the occasion to PERMANENTLY delete my FB account, hopefully never to come back to it again. In a way, it's not a big deal. I mean, it's not as if I am leaving my online life forever. But, looking it from another angle, it IS a big deal. Facebook, like it or not, is the second identity of millions of people online. 

So, why leave Facebook? And why is it required to explain why I am leaving Facebook, anyway? 

Let me answer the second question first: it's required so that I don't need to give an explanation each of my (Facebook) friends again and again. And it is also required so that if I ever think to create an FB account again, I can read this first and remind myself of why I left it in the first place. 

Coming to the question of "Why am I leaving Facebook?" There are plenty of reasons, some personal, some ethical and some plain silly. I enlist the random 10 that come in mind: 

1. Facebook has become boring: I admit, I have been guilty of overusing it in past. But, now it has become more of an 'unconscious habit' than what I do 'willingly'. And hence I don't enjoy it as much as I used to.

2. I am trying to create time: So, will deleting FB account buy me hours of time from my daily schedule? Certainly not. But I am identifying areas where my time goes down the drain, and trying to rectify the problem, FB being (just) one of them. 

3. I am trying to lessen my obligations: One could argue, why delete the account, why not just stop using it? You see, I have already tried that method. But it doesn't work well in my case. If I will have an FB account, I would feel obligated to use it. Also, there is no point of keeping something when you don't use it. 

4. Facebook was taking away my freedom of expression: I have traditionally used Facebook to push out the ideas/thoughts coming up in the mind, throughout the day, similar to how I have used this blog and Twitter in past. But, overtime I found my ideas getting stifled by not just getting criticised, but also ridiculed. Naturally, I considerably reduced expressing myself. Now, if you take that away, Facebook is of not much use to me anymore. 

5. I do not like where Facebook is going: They just want more and more people to join the network. It's good for them: more people, more data, more advertisement, more mullah. I think, the original idea of creating FB i.e. to allow people to connect with their friends, has been forgotten. Now, it is more about projecting a false over-inflated-ego-filled identity. It's more about posting your pictures now and thanking people when they Like them. 

6. The way it's used simply irritates me: A few cases in point: 
  •  Mass wishes on profile: I have ranted about it in past. If you are really friends with the person, write them a personal email or a private message. Why make a show out of it? These one lines wishes seem to be as if people are just trying to complete their duty. 
  •  Posting about how girls are the victims: If you feel that you are a victim being a girl, then I say you shouldn't have been born at all. Do not tell me, that this happens or that happens to me by the 'cruel male dominated society'. You are a human before a female and you can fight against the wrongdoings just like anyone else. Can we please stop wasting everybody's time now?
  •  Posting obscure status updates and not elaborating when asked for: God damn it! Why did you post it in the first place, when you didn't want to share it?
  • Tagging unnecessarily: In the past I have accepted getting tagged in pictures where I don't belong so as to keep a friend or two happy, but not anymore. I do not like it, I do not support it and I do not do it myself.
  • Posting new profile pictures every other day: I sometimes feel like they are just craving to be 'Liked' by people. Probably it helps satisfy their ego.
  • Telling the whole world where are they currently and with whom they are and whatever on earth they are doing: I don't know how people miss that it's too much information to give away. Eventhough we like to imagine FB as our own little family, it's NOT. I can assure you 99.99% don't care. 
  • Sharing stuffs without checking the facts: Pure stupidity. With so much information being thrown at us in such a short time, it's easy to forget that it may actually not be true! I suspect using FB makes us an idiot over time.
  • Sharing whatever idiotic stuffs they get to see wherever on FB: Well what can I say about it.
  • Spreading superstitions in the name of God: I have never Liked any of those pictures "in 3 seconds". Unfortunately nothing great happened in my life, but nothing overtly bad happened as well. Seems like we are trying to suggest that only Facebook users are entitled for great luck because they get to Like God's pictures whole day and night. .

Of course, I can't change people using it. But I have a choice to get away from it and I am utilizing it.

7. It's not intentional but I want to show people that they CAN leave FB after all: I have only seen people leaving a social network when either their accounts get hacked or when they get an even 'better' network (Remember moving from Orkut to Facebook?). But otherwise it is painfully difficult to willingly leave a site. I know a lot of people, who share the same sentiments I listed above, but they just 'can't leave it'. After all, you have spent hours and hours into creating your Facebook identity, how can you just delete it all in one stroke. There are just too many sentiments attached to it. Plus, the lure of remaining 'connected' to ALL the 'friends' made over a lifetime is just too much resist. And even if, by any chance, if someone decides to leave FB, their friends will guilt-trip them into returning back sooner or later. 

8. It's certainly NOT a necessity: I have remained without FB for many years and I was just fine. I remained in REGULAR contact with only a handful of friends, and that did not change much even after joining FB. And, I also know a few people who almost never log in to FB and they don't seem to be missing a lot in their life. So, when someone says they can't imagine life without FB, actually they don't want to imagine a life without it. 

9. It does not serve its real purpose for me: While it's fashionable, I have seldom seeked a tonne of friends. I only want a handful of friends but real friends, with whom I can express myself without any apprehensions. After coming on FB, although I did join a lot of people, I seldom made any real connection with any of them. I can safely say it DID NOT bring me closer to anyone, maybe barring a very few individuals. I thought FB was about me and my friends, but I found out it was actually about 'my friends and their friends'. 

10. I want to go back to Twitter: I only have a very limited time to be online. I did try hard, but ever since I joined FB, I just couldn't keep up with Twitter regularly. But, if I compare Twitter and FB, Twitter gives greater ROI for time to me. So, I am choosing Twitter over FB as my defacto social account. 

But really, it's not about Facebook. It's about people using the Facebook. If you see Google+, it seems refreshing at first sight. But, if everybody were to shift to Google+, it will become the next FB overnight. Also, I am in no way trying to tell that everybody should leave FB or FB users are not as coo! as me. But I am pretty sure now that I no longer want to use it and would like spend my spare time doing something more worthwhile. 

And I will find ways to connect to people worth connecting, Facebook or Not.

This is it!

May 12, 2013

Killing Multiple Online Identities: The Experience

Time and again a new Online service starts, and I being a trier of all things new would be there to catch it up. The problem with me (and most of us) is that we never think about the footprints we are leaving with all these accounts over time. Of course, most of the information shared on these networks would be harmless, but with people spending more and more of their lives over Internet, you can' really be sure what information you may end up sharing on the network which may compromise your privacy/security.

So, this weekend I reviewed all the online accounts that I have made on different sites. And it came as a big shocker that I had over 50 online accounts for different types of services. Some of them were of course a necessity, like a Gmail account, but many more were just tried for a while and then forgotten, or may be used heavily over a period of time but were of no use anymore. So, I spent a few hours trying to delete these accounts one by one. And I must tell you, it wasn't as easy as one would think.

  • tweetdeck: (Difficult: Couldn't find a 'delete account' button anywhere on the client or their website. Had to search for it to find a link which led me delete the account.) A twitter client which was later taken over by Twitter itself. Nice little client for heavy twitter users. But Twitter announced that they will be shutting off this service so I went on to remove this service in advance.
  • Pinterest: (Easy: Pinterest doesn't seem to have a "Delete" option but you can "Deactivate" it which is as good as deleting.). Pinterest is the latest fad in online social networking after Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I tried it a few months ago, but didn't seem to get a hang of it.  
  • Secondary Gmail Account: (Easy: Was easily able to find the link and after a few necessary warnings, Google conveniently deleted the account with all the associated information. Neat!). Already have a Gmail and Yahoo account and this was not really necessary to keep. Good riddance.
  • Advirtus: (Easy). It's a site for developing habits in group and keeping each other accountable and taking up challenges. It was fun for a while.
  • Wacchen: It was site to mark videos to view later, just like ReadLater services for texts. The site doesn't seem to exist now.
  • 123greetings: (Can't delete.) A site used almost a decade back when sending online greetings was a fad. And it came as a rude shock that they don't have an option to delete the account (although they have it in their plan!)
  • Forum: Similar to Advirtus. The forum of this site has gone premium now so my account doesn't exist anymore.
  • tweetstreamapp: A service to back up the tweets and get coo! analytics about it. It was closed last year so no option to delete any account on it. A weird blog remains on the site.
  • Can't seem to remember what this site was for! It was a little difficult to open the site, but was Easy to delete once opened.
  • (Easy) A site to create online comics. Tried it but found it to be a little difficult to use, so never came back to it.
  • (Easy) An Online IDE to write and compile code. But this IDE is a little advanced for my needs. I use codepad to practise throwaway code sometimes.
  • deviantart: (Easy: They tried to emotionally blackmail me into keep my account but allowed me to delete it when I persisted.) A place for digital artists, not really somewhere I should belong!
  • (Moderate: The link to delete the account was hidden in one of the menus) An online service to backup and tag your bookmarks. With Chrome and Firefox's own bookmark syncing, this service isn't required anymore.
  • (Easy) A service to find related information on site you are on. Wasn't much useful to me.
  • (SuperEasy: Open the account, done!) A productivity site with a difference. Instead of ToDo today list you create IDidThis today list.
  • (SuperEasy: Open, delete, sign out) Awesome Task maker, but a little too advanced for the needs.
  • (Easy) A site for Image hosting, sharing and editing. With better alternatives like Instagram, Flickr and Google+ existing now, it's not needed anymore.
  • Minus.Com: (Moderate: No apparent link exists anywhere, so had to request them via their contact form. But the operators were curteous and did what was expected). A social networking site in its infancy, with a minimalist look.
  • (Moderate) A file hosting and sharing site. With much better alternatives like Dropbox and Google Drive existing, it's not required anymore.
  • Box.Net: (Easy) One of the first cloud hosting services I tried. Has become better but nobody beats Dropbox today!
  • Freebooks.Net: (Moderate: Had to email them to delete the account, which they did after a few days). A site to view and download free books. They also have premium account with better services but I don't have time to download and read random books from Internet. Also, better sources available now.
  • Way2Sms: (Difficult: They authenticate your identity before taking action which was an arduous process to go through) At one time, heavily used by me. The ease of typing and sending messages on computer made it an essential site to use everyday for almost an year. But DND services on phones and the slow death of SMS itself has made this site obscure now.

The sites have made it super easy for you to join them but it's not that easy to leave them! But it is important to review the kind of sites that you have shared your online credentials with and if they are of much use in the present scenarios. Spending these few hours has enabled me to get rid of these many services listed above (and a few more!). This also enables me to review what's important and where I want to invest my online time. After all I have it in limited amount!

April 19, 2013

Thoughts on Gandhi: The movie

Last weekend I got to watch the epic Oscar winning movie "Gandhi". Such a brilliantly crafted movie, and it left me with a number of things to ponder upon:

Gandhi: The movie: One of the finest movie I have ever had an opportunity to watch. And it would have a been a huge disappointment had it not won the number of Academy Awards it won in the end. Ben Kingsley produced an effortless act in portraying Gandhi while the director Richard Attenborough did an impossible job of recreating the historical facts to the closest. And it was also heartening to see some of the finest Indian Cinema actors like Saeed Jaffrey, Amrish Puri and Rohini Hattangadi to name a few, in their prime, executing their roles to the perfection.

History: I have not been a big fan of History. History, like many other Art subjects, has always been scary. And it's because, our School systems encourage us to concentrate on getting as high marks as possible. So, the focus is on mugging up the historical facts and other stuffs rather than understanding and should I dare say "enjoying" them. It is such a shame that we are required to cram up pile-loads of books on Social Studies but seldom does any school take an initiative to show such a fine movie to school kids. I can easily say that children would learn a lot more from this movie rather than narrating pages after pages of History books in school classes. 

Hindu-Muslim riots: Watching the riots portrayed in the movie, what I could deduce was that Muslims at that time were afraid of being a 'minority' in India. That is why they, in the form of Jinnah, wanted a separate nation. Those who were left behind here did not believe that Hindus would let them live with equality. Hindus on the other hand had similar fears. There would also have been that idiotic thought of claiming the political powers to have an 'upper hand', which led them to fight. And once the bloodshed started the original agenda would have been left far behind. The most disappointing thing about all this is that the Indians of 21st Century still have the same mentality. And numerous small/large riots in the past many years is proof of the same. Instead of trusting each other, we still are scared of each other. Elections are still fought on religious agendas rather than on issues such as Development and Corruption. And this plays a role even in the big nuance of terrorism in this country. If only we could start to see each other as Indians before Hindus or Muslims...

From Flickr. Under CC License.

Gandhi: The man: While I have my doubts whether his methods are relevant or suitable to solve the problems of today, I do agree that they are very effective. But at the same time, only a man of his resolve and tenacity can live up to them. 'How' he did it is even more baffling than 'What' he was able to attain in his life. Fully knowing the implications of the act and still trusting yourself to be able to execute it properly is a scary thing. But he did it time and again. It's only an irony that the man of peace died of a bullet.

Historical figures: I do not claim to know a lot of prominent historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi, or Netaji Bose or Pandit Nehru or even the recent ones like Indira Gandhi. Whatever little knowledge I have, has been gathered from school books, teachers, friends, parents and movies. And none of these sources can be trusted fully for they only talk about certain 'publicly known' historical facts which are also sometimes twisted. These sources never fully enlighten as to what kind of person these figures were in real life. I just cannot really believe that they were all good in everything they did in their life.

Delhi, 3 decades ago: I have been raised in Delhi, so naturally I have special place in my heart for this city. Even though the movie tried to portray the Delhi of pre-independence era, since it was made in 1980s, what you essentially see is Delhi of 3 decades back. And it was heartening to see the simplicity and peace of the City shown at that time. I am sure it would have been a surreal experience living in Delhi at that time, even without the metros, and the highways and the malls that have cropped up in last 2 decades or so.

PS: Do watch 'Gandhi' if you haven't already. I am sure, you won't regret spending 3 hours on it.

April 08, 2013

All Hail Buffalo!

I have never been able to understand why people look into ancient religious texts or look up to expired 'great people' to know how to live life. We can always learn from people and animals nearby us, roaming around in our everyday life.

Well continuing with our annual tradition of writing something on The Buffalo, in today's post I want to discuss what all things we can learn from this humble creature. Of course, some people will rubbish it saying buffalo is a useless animal, and I am a lunatic to think that we can ever learn something from it. But you need to be able to experience what's it like to be a buffalo to be able to truly appreciate its qualities. Now it's up to you, whether you want to take these buffalo advices and be awesome like a buffalo, or keep on living your path3tic life.

No Buffaloes were harmed while taking these pictures.

1. Being a buffalo means being humble: Have you ever seen an animal more humble than a buffalo? Of course, it has far more uses than say a stray dog or a mosquito or a Chimpanzee. But They never keep it in zoo, people never come to visit it. But she never makes a hue and cry out of it. It goes on doing it's work, i.e. giving milk.

Does this buffalo seem to be giving any damn?
2. A buffalo never gives a damn: No buffalo has ever given even a single damn about increasing traffic, or global warming or growing crime rates against women or even terrorism. So, why do we give a damn about any damn thing in the world. All that the buffalo cares about is chewing food and pooping dung and be content with whatever it has.

3. Buffalo does not discriminates: No buffalo has ever refused to give milk to a person belonging to minority or has ever made any reservation for any class of people. It accepts food from anybody whether it's South Indian or West Indian or North eastern Or even Chinese.

"So what's cooking tonight?"

4. Buffalo speaks only one language: that of Love: . You will never hear any buffalo rapping any unmentionable words against any gender. All it says is a "Muaaaah" which can be compared to what people do while giving flying kisses. Hence a buffalo speaks a universal language... of love.

5. A Buffalo never sucks: Unlike a leech or a mosquito; in fact it chews. So, we can learn from a buffalo never to suck in our life but to be awesome and to chew away all our problems and digest it with grace.

These are just a few things to get you thinking. I can mention dozens of others, but point is not write a biography or a motivational book on a buffalo. Buffalo is sufficient in itself and it does not require any fame or glory. 

So, the next time you see a buffalo (or a buffalo-like person), do pause for a moment and admire its beauty. God seldom makes such noble creatures. All hail buffalo!