A place to play the fool

The Fool, Tarot, Card, Magic, Fortune, Divination

Buying a domain for your blog is very much like getting your first business card. It’s like that photo Will Smith takes in The Pursuit of Happyness. The one where he’s standing in front of all the handheld scanner machines he has to sell with a big hopeful grin.

The rest of the movie however looks like this.

You burst out onto the world wide web with a song on your lips, ready to share your life-changing ideas and middle-of-the-night philosophical discoveries with a waiting, appreciative world. And then you realize 10 people including your mom read the last 3 things you wrote.

Continue reading “A place to play the fool”

On my watch

I was there when you took your first breath.

I was there when you took your first fall, with a bandage and lollipop, and courage to try again.

I was there when you paced outside, helping to bring a part of you to life.

I was there at death’s door, keeping it shut a moment more.

And yet, you called my gifts poison, while others sold you water.

You thanked your Gods when I saved you, and raged at me when they failed you.

Do you deserve me, and do I deserve you?


Dedicated to doctors around the world

10 drops

When does a war end? Is it when victory is declared? Is it when the last innocent dies? When the last shot is fired?

When is a disaster over? When the earth stops shaking or when the stormwinds fall quiet?

Is it when the last tear is shed? Is it even then, or is it when the edge of memory is dulled enough to lose its edge? Does it end at different times for each, relative like everything else?

I like to think it is when you rediscover hope. It can be fragile and easily broken, but it still rises through the mud and blooms, welcoming a new day, doomed though it might be.

Today, I got a 0.5 ml shot in my arm and watched my spouse get it, a small amount of liquid signifying a large amount of hope, fragile as it might be.

I was already one of the privileged, able to stay locked at home and safe with everyone I love. But fear is the same everywhere if you have something to lose, although we, the privileged might deserve a weaker claim to it.

Continue reading “10 drops”

When a circle becomes a point

My desk at home has plenty of space, but I realize now that a cramped cubicle meant a friend three feet away.

The day has two hours more than before, but fewer for myself.

The air is cleaner outside, but I only get to inhale my own stale breath.

I can watch a new movie without getting annoyed by a couple making out in the next row, or a kid throwing popcorn. But I realize now that I was witnessing a hundred different stories, not one.

I realize now that my daily circular commute was a window into many worlds streaming past, unlike the swiveling door I’m stuck in now.

A home isn’t a home if you can’t leave. All my life I tried to reach my destination faster, but never stopped to think if the journey was perhaps the point.

Writers camp #332

Asif sat up in his bunk with panic spilling over from his dreams to reality. The clock showed 9 AM. He looked down and cursed to see Paul already at his desk and typing away furiously. He jumped down and promptly fell flat on his face as his foot got caught in his blanket. He groaned and tried to get up again.

“Can you keep it down, please? I lost the thread I had in my head”, Paul said. “Ay biteerally schept gown”, Asif said, pinching his bleeding nose. “What?”, Paul asked. “I literally put myself down”, Asif said with some effort. “I don’t have time for your lame jokes”, Paul said and turned to his laptop, scratching his head and trying to remember the story thread he forgot.

“It’s not like you were on the verge of turning into Hemingway with your next sentence anyway”, Asif said and sat down at the desk right next to him, his elbows almost touching Paul. The labor camp authorities didn’t see the value of providing elbow space to writers. Paul tucked his elbows in with a long-suffering look and continued typing. Asif peeped at his screen quickly. “Hey, you can’t plagiarize my bloody nose when you didn’t even give a flying fuck that I got a bloody nose,” he said, angrily.

“I’m trying something new”, Paul said.

“Plagiarism isn’t new”, Asif retorted.

“Oh fuck off”, Paul said.

“If you’re trying to keep it to yourself, I can see everything on your screen”, Asif reminded Paul.

Paul sighed. “It’s a journal, except that I substitute the boring parts for something better. Like instead of a prison cell, we are on a cramped spaceship heading to Alpha Centauri, and instead of falling from your bunk, you floated up and hit the ceiling. Your blood is balled up and floating around”, he said.

“Wow, that was a hell of a lot of exposition. Haven’t you ever heard of show, don’t tell”, Asif commented. Paul snorted.

Asif felt a sudden rush of panic as he realized he lost 10 more minutes joking around. But don’t you need to do something to get inspired? This was the most eventful day in a month, except for the day when their neighboring cell inmates got into a fistfight to get inspiration for a supposed sequel to fight club. There were no issues with writer’s block in writer’s camp # 332. You write or you die. Does wonders for deadlines, even though it messes up world-building and character development. He rushed to start a new chapter on his writing software.

Continue reading “Writers camp #332”

Fake news, faith, passive and tail risks

The world was hit by a once in a century pandemic, a virus that was deadly enough to kill millions but innocuous enough to spread easily and widely. We battled to scale up intensive care beds, ventilators, testing facilities. Healthcare workers battled exhaustion and heat stroke in PPE kits. We pooled all our resources in a global effort to develop vaccines. What do you think was the biggest challenge of them all?

Not the challenge of developing a vaccine faster than ever done before, not keeping economies afloat while lockdowns and shut downs ran businesses into the ground. No, the most insurmountable challenge of them all is battling the misinformation sent on WhatsApp by your friendly neighbourhood fake news uncle. The one that sends you good morning GIFs followed by critical pieces of information about the pH level of the virus and how to counter it with warm water and juice that was stirred clockwise three times at noon.

A first of its kind mRNA vaccine was developed in 2 days after getting the genetic code of the virus and deployed in a year after testing, but no one can stop WhatsApp uncle and his fake news. Not all the governments or scientists in the world. No mask can filter it, no air purifier can stop it.

What are the implications? We will probably never reach herd immunity and end this pandemic. Governments are trying to speed up vaccinations but sooner or later, they are going to hit a wall and not have any more people willing to get vaccinated. The fake news virus got to them first and immunised them against the vaccine. Why risk living a long life when you can die early from a preventable disease?

Continue reading “Fake news, faith, passive and tail risks”

Little things changed by COVID-19

When we think about how the world has changed because of COVID-19, we tend to think of the big things – everyone (who can) working from home, schools staying closed, international trips becoming a distant memory. But a lot of these big changes will probably roll back to some degree after the pandemic is over. I was curious about the little things that changed and will probably stay changed. This is a quick list from my observations, but would love to hear about additions to this:

1. Wallets

I think I’ve always hated the two fold wallet but lived with, without thinking too much. Its too thick and is literally a pain in the ass. I would take it out of my pocket and put it on my desk, or stuff it in front of the gear shift in my car, but for some reason I would never leave the house without it, although I rarely use cash and keep little of it in my wallet. I have an assortment of cards and then an assortment of receipts and all kinds of junk that accumulated over time.

Since I became a near complete homebody, I’ve got used to not having the familiar weight of the wallet in my pocket, and consequently keep forgetting it. It also seems even more stupid than before to sit on a block of leather when I do remember to take it. I therefore started hunting for other options – a phone case that can carry a cards, a small card holder. While I was searching for this, I stumbled upon this CNET.com article about exactly this, and realised I’m not alone in thinking this. Link: https://www.cnet.com/news/a-slim-wallet-is-how-i-learned-to-ditch-cash/

Continue reading “Little things changed by COVID-19”

Tata Nexon Electric: A layman’s review after a test drive

tata-nexon-ev

If you didn’t get here while searching for information about electric cars, it’s quite possible that you’re a layman like me who just didn’t realize electric cars had suddenly become mainstream, or is about to. Till recently, I thought electric cars in India are one of those things that will come some day, but that was before I read there are more than 10 electric cars from different manufacturers releasing this year. Looks like 2020 is going to be as cool and futuristic as it sounds.

I also thought electric cars with the exception of Tesla (another ‘someday’ thing for India) look like a cross between an auto-rikshaw and a Tata Nano. I don’t know if you feel differently but I HATE the look of a Reva. To me a Reva looks like one of those ugly little dogs some women carry in handbags. I acknowledge that they exist and there are people who are into it but wouldn’t be caught dead with one. In fact, I hate the Reva so much that I stopped typing for 5 minutes to try and think of a more insulting analogy. I couldn’t but I’m going to come back and edit that in if I think of something later. Because Reva had reserved the top slot in my brain’s image search for electric cars in India, I didn’t even bother reading up much about the space till I saw the MG EV and the Hyundai Kona and realized there were companies making electric cars that actually looked like cars. The second shock was that these cars now have ranges of 300-400 km on a single charge, which makes it feasible go a week in the city without worrying about range. You’ll need a home charging point which was another hurdle, but all manufacturers are offering free charging point installations even in apartments, provided you get approvals from the society and let them do the wiring. I was finally taking electric cars seriously, and out of curiosity started looking for cheaper ones than the MG and Hyundai, which led me to the Tata Nexon.

Continue reading “Tata Nexon Electric: A layman’s review after a test drive”

Why Kejriwal, the fallible mortal must win

kejriwal

Ask anyone from the urban middle class in India (sans Delhi) about how their political preferences evolved (chronology samjhiye), and they’ll probably tell you a story about how they once supported Kejriwal before he ‘sold out’. I too was one of those people. After a while though, I started to question this universal truth we all seem to have accepted. We seemed to be judging Kejriwal by a different standard than other politicians who can break promises at will and suffer no long-term credibility loss. Of course, the easy answer is that expectations were higher, but I don’t buy that. People had expectations about India becoming a superpower by 2020 and 15 lakhs in their account too, but falling short of lofty expectations wasn’t a high crime in those cases.

What explains this dichotomy, I wondered. One possible answer is that Kejriwal was a mortal hero. He was slapped multiple times, had ink splashed on his face on live TV, did stupid things like resigning without consulting the people, sharing a dias with Lalu Prasad Yadav and then most damning of all, he apologized multiple times for mistakes, giving conclusive proof of his fallibility. In short, we wanted a God and he just wasn’t. Legendary heroes don’t get slapped in public, not once but twice.

Continue reading “Why Kejriwal, the fallible mortal must win”

Stream of consciousness blogging

Do you know how awkward it is to start writing in a blog you haven’t written in for nearly a year? Its a little like that neighbor or colleague you should have smiled at a year ago and find it weird to say good morning to anymore. Everytime I think of writing something I feel like I should have something momentous to talk about which justifies asking for someones attention after so long. Its nothing more than complacency and inertia of course, but complacency is a bigger road block than anything else in life I guess. Anyway, I had this epiphany the other day – instead of trying to come up with great content, why not just write a stream of consciousness variety of blog posts when I don’t have a fleshed out topic to write about? It reduces the burden of research and thought required, extensive proofreading, etc. and might branch out into more substantial, well thought out blog posts at some point. Most importantly, it reduces the entry barrier, or in my case, re-entry barrier to writing or blogging. It is possible that a reader might think the quality of posts is going down, but my last post was in April 2019. Its hard to go down from absolute silence. At least one other person seems to have had this idea before me – I DuckDuckGo’d ‘stream of consciousness blogging’ and found this nice post: http://webtrafficroi.com/how-to-write-stream-of-consciousness-blog-post/

Continue reading “Stream of consciousness blogging”