Sunday, November 20, 2005

Earth to America

I have seen so much television since I've been here in Strangeland. I can't remember watching so much TV in the past 6-7 years. But, basketball and the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs aside, most of the stuff I watch isn't inventive, and for heaven's sake I get to see all that back home too. But, today I saw this completely different show; so different it caught me by surprise.

Best Comedians in the World
Well, we are all familiar by now that the word 'World' in American translates to 'Country' and is never to be taken literally, except for facts like 'Biggest consumer of oil in the world', 'Highest energy consumer in the world', and so on. But, yeah there were pretty good comedians on display for this show - Steve Martin, Robin Williams (he's my favourite), Ray Romano, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Cedric the Entertainer (thats his name!), Larry David, Ben Stiller, and of course, Leonardo Di Caprio. Ok, hes not funny, but I still laugh when I hear the ladies go crazy when he's on stage. Cos, they haven't seen me yet and dunno what they are missing. No, they aren't missing a narcissistic moron.

Why were the comedians there? Well, finally someone had to accept that this 'World' is doing a lot of damage to the Earth (the World as we know it) with Greenhouse gases, toxic emissions, fossil fuel consumption, energy spending lavishness. I think no one takes stuff like the environment seriously here, so some good-natured, earth-loving comedians decided to give it to them in a different serving, like sugar-coated medicine. And I think it must have worked. They were cracking jokes, but also emphasising why the people have to elect representatives who themselves care about the future of the planet, how they can make a whole lot of difference with a little effort in their daily lives. I just hope the message sticks before they flick channels to watch Desperate Housewives tonight, cos thats tough to beat.

Why the fuss?
Everybody knows what the Greenhouse effect is, and how we are hurting ourselves by pumping CFCs and burning hydrocarbons. But, how many of us are serious enough to do our bit? When I see what goes on here in StrangeLand, I realise how much better people in developing countries are when it comes to environmental causes.

- Every dude and damsel drives to work. In a car. Alone. 4 wheels. 1 person. Whole lotta gas.
- Not just that. People don't give too much of a damn to the mileage the car gives. Its all about whose car is faster. And the Hummer that I once accidentally praised, is the king of gas-guzzlers. 44% of the oil consumption is by motor vehicles. This nation has some of the lowest gas prices in the world, which is wrong, cos the way people burn gas here, by the formula of demand and supply, it should be all the more expensive. Thats the only way to hurt people enough to start car pooling.
- Where we use fans back home, these guys have airconditioners, running all day. 10 times more costly in terms of energy consumption. And I've seen people crib when they don't have access to airconditioning, like its a basic amenity.
- Ever heard of the Kyoto Protocol? Well you might want to start here. 154 countries signed the treaty and agreed to put in place restrictions on toxic emissions of greenhouse gases and set targets to achieve certain low levels of emissions. Strangely, StrangeLand didn't sign. Its gonna hurt that lifestyle too much, isnt it? Ooh its so hot in here without the airconditioning. My hair doesn't set without them CFC-laden aerosol hairsprays. Do you expect me to walk for 5 minutes to the grocery store?

An astronaut's view

I dunno about you guys, but the view of the earth from space is one of the most breathtaking views I've ever seen. Wish I'd seen it for real, flying in orbit. The guys on the show including Leonardo himself, and Dustin Hoffman, narrated quotes from Astronomers about the view.

The only common theme was that this view shows us that the earth has no boundaries among nations. You simultaneously get a feel for the astounding and infinite universe, and the gorgeous planet earth teeming with life, both from opposite windows of the shuttle. It also reminds you, ever so deeply, that the gift of life, and the Earth itself, are so precious and we better do our part to take care of it. Its true, a trip to outer space, can turn an Astronaut into a Humanitarian.

If only it were possible, I'd send everyone out for these breathtaking tours and make humanitarians out of every soul. Alas, even though I ensure not to do damage myself to the Earth, I wrap myself in my daily life thickly enough not to do anymore. And that's true of every other person. I don't have a solution to that other than being sadistically shaken by some calamity that is directly linked to these horrible things we are doing. I sound harsh, but that is exactly what drives people to change. Prophecies worked in the age of kings, and people acted on them, not true anymore.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Panchatantras

In case you are wondering what Panchatantra is, I could point you somewhere. But, I know you wanna find out if I really know, oblivious of the fact that I may have visited that link already. Panchatantra is sanskrit for 5 (Pancha) principles (tantra) and only the pancha part has any relation whatsoever with this blog, cos I've been tagged! By my bro Sudhamshu. And I'm supposed to list some stuff about me in sets of 5 and then tag others I want to be tagged. It sounds like a venereal disease I'm spreading, but there's always fun associated with that right?

I'm going to switch some of the topics here, cos otherwise it would seem the lists are rip-offs from my bro's blog, when all it is supposed to mean is that we both like the same kinda stuff!

Five movies/shows/sitcoms I'd watch anytime (This is a rip-off)

  • The Matrix Trilogy

  • The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

  • F.R.I.E.N.D.S

  • Any Jim Carrey movie (except when he violates animals rights like in Me, Myself and Irene by sticking his finger in a cow's nose!)

  • British comedies from the BBC production studios

Five things I miss now (Rip-off!)

  • My family

  • Mom's food (Its so good I am assured it can end wars)

  • My closest buddies

  • Playing cricket and football

  • Earning more than I deserve! (Used to get a stipend of 5k for 8 hours a week in college! That was unbeatable)

Five favourite music bands/performers (Original! Along with reasons why I like them!)

  • Creed (Can you take me higher?)

  • Iron Maiden (Hallowed be thy name)

  • Metallica (Nothing else matters)

  • Sepultura (We who are not as others)

  • U2 (I can't live, with or without you)

Five favourite lines

  • I have only two things dear to me - my word and my balls. And I don't like to break any of them. - Tony Montana a.k.a Scarface

  • Make no mistake blah blah blah. We will smoke them out. - George W. Bush a.k.a moron

  • Don't think about what the company can give you. Instead, take whatever you can from them and walk away. - Sudhamshu a.k.a bro a.k.a career advisor in guise

  • There is no try, only do. - Yoda a.k.a green li'l jedi from star wars

  • Do not try and bend the spoon. Instead, only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you will see, it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. - Young bald-headed British 'The One'-wannabe kid at the Oracle's house a.k.a 'You still havent seen The Matrix if you want an a.k.a here'

Five Things I wanna do while I can

  • Be a good son, bro, boyfriend, husband, friend,...

  • Have my own company and emulate Google

  • Have my own rock band and decide whether I wanna do vocals or drums

  • 15 years too late to build a football career that leads to the English Premier League, so wanna watch a big game in England at least.

  • Give something to the world that makes a difference

Five guys who will help spread this venereal disease

Well, I dont know 5 bloggers that havent already been tagged. How about 2?

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I know thats not a real word, the title of this blog. But, its something that crosses my mind pretty often; the thought, not the word. Concentrate on the 2nd part, destiny. Its about what Im here for, what I am meant to do in my lifetime, the purpose of it all. And its clandestine, a secret to me now, and I strive to find it. Everyone is, in a way. We are all searching for the reason for our existence, simply because life is such a special gift. It just cant be that there is no rhyme or reason to it, thats unfathomable.

Yeah, I know I sound a lot like all the characters in The Matrix, that helluva movie that fizzled out in the end. They used words like Purpose, Cause-n-Effect, Fate, Destiny as effective tools to grab our attention and keep us hooked. And it worked, simply because each one of us has time and again pondered over this. And it is so very dear to us, the fact that we are all here to do something important, to affect the lives of others in our own way. And we hate it when someone tries taking it away from us. I remember Agent Smith getting pissed off at Neo cos Neo tried to destroy the agent that he was. He comes back to remind him, "You tried to take away the very purpose of my existence. But, in a way, you gave me a whole new purpose. Now, I want everything."

My destiny taking shape?

From a very young age, I had been fascinated by science and its mysteries and I loved reading about how these mysteries are unresolved. Something that really caught my fantasy was Astronomy. The whole idea of an infinite universe baffled me. As a kid, I used to imagine one day answering to the question "Where do you live?" with "A-403, Krishi Vihar, Ameerpet, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India, Asia, Earth, Solar system of the Sun, Milky Way Galaxy. Where are you from?" I read about neutron stars, nebulae, gamma rays, radio telescopes, comets. I used to collect news items about discoveries of far-off planets and stars, photographs of exploding supernovae.

Today, I understand why I am not an Astronomer or an Astrophysicist. If you note the last paragraph, all I ever did was read about this. I never even got myself a telescope. It was merely a fascination. I never really did anything that would prepare me for a lifetime as an Astronomer. Does that mean my destiny lay elsewhere? I was just not meant to be an Astronomer? Or does it mean the seeds had been sown at a young age, but somewhere down the line, they might really sprout into life?

Peer and family

People around you have so much of an effect on your conscious or unconscious decisions. Drives me nuts, cos I dont know if these people are destined to show me my path, or they are destined to distract me. I know they are there for a reason though and I make sure I cherish that feeling. Peer pressure is the strongest force I have ever experienced. Up until the 12th standard, I was still firm somewhere in my head, I wanted to study Astrophysics. I'd still not done anything worthy of showing my interest in the field, but I was still fascinated. I'd not even figured out which college to go to if I needed to build a career in Astrophysics. I wasnt very good at physics either, but decent enough I'd say. Notably, I had taken computer science in the two years in high school and I'd enjoyed programming.

When the results came out, I'd got good enough scores to get into an engineering college, and when friends heard I'm not gonna apply, they said things like "Dude, do you even know where the money is?", "Haha, thats great. One more seat for me to grab. I wish there were more people like you" and the most influential one, "Isn't your dad retiring in like 5 years? You know you will have to get a PhD to get anywhere close to ISRO or NASA, which takes longer than 5 years." That struck me hard. Im gonna be studying even after my dad retires? And this job ain't gonna pay me enough anyway...

My dad for one showed why he's number one, why he's got everything figured out. He told me simply this - "Do what you love doing. I dont want you to regret later you didn't do what your heart asked you to do. We as parents are happy to go with whatever you choose. Dont let external factors influence your decisions."

Have I found it yet?

As things would have it, I went to engineering college and burnt a hole in my dad's pocket. Didn't let that burning influence my decision! Proud of him to get both his sons a good engineering education without showing he ever felt a pinch. Proud of my mom to push me to do my Masters in the best college in the country. And today I'm a software guy, like so many other Indians. Coding virtually for free for the Americans. Yes, I did realise during my education, that I enjoyed Computer Science in general. I loved discussing stuff from Operating Systems and Networks and I enjoyed programming much like an artist would love painting. During my masters, I thought it was my destiny to do a project in computer vision and move into this exciting field. As things would have it, I couldn't get a job in any of the good companies in India offering jobs in computer vision, and instead I got one in the fields I loved during my graduation - Operating systems and in general, simply programming.

I still dont know if this is what I was born to do. I dont see myself making big changes to the world with the code I write. Yes, I bring money into my company, but thats not big enough. Is it that I was born to be a son my parents love, have a brother who's simply the best buddy one can share with? Or am I still blind, still groping in the dark for that one big defining moment where I discover what Im here for?

Ultimate scare

The ultimate thought is one where you ponder over your destiny and realise that the very word means that everything is basically pre-decided. What am I supposed to do then? Is there even a way to let things not happen? "If its meant to be, its meant to be". So easy to say, but so difficult to comprehend. I sometimes feel exactly like Neo says, "I just don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my own life." But, to be frank, life throws so many instances at you where you have to believe that there is something like destiny and fate.

Its the ultimate salvation to discover the reason for your existence..So, all I can say is that the epic continues...happy hunting!