Day 60: 2 months of Journaling

It’s Day 60. Except for a few days where I had to hold off the blogging for another day, because of work, stress or lack of motivation, I’ve written (or ranted) consistently for the last 2 months. I is definitely been fun. I think I see enough value in this little project to keep going.

They say old habits die hard and there are a number of these ‘old habits’ from my past life that have followed me into this new one. They’ve been mostly received with appreciation, and some amount of awe, and I think I’m not letting go of those in the near future.

So, I decided to run one of those process – oriented tools on my blog. I went ahead and did a Start-Stop-Continue analysis on the journal.

Start

  • Writing on a daily basis
  • Including more research-based data (yes, even day to day observations can be backed by research)
  • Observing and reporting on the little things that matter

Stop

  • Putting off for tomorrow what can be done today
  • Making every post sound like a rant
  • Chasing Scotch around with a phone camera

Continue

  • Chasing Scotch around with a phone camera
  • Using Scotch as the anti-ego to all posts
  • Having fun while blogging.

What surprised me the most about the blog is the readership, something that I did not anticipate when I started off. Some of you have been regulars, following me, reading every post and sharing your thoughts and opinions on what I write about. You’re my new best friends. Hang around and I promise to give you that fast pass into my thoughts. Some of you have popped in once in a while, caught up on things that matter to you and me both, and left your love behind. Do keep coming back.

A strange aspect of my Indian upbringing, something that I wrote about as early as Day 2, is the importance I seem to associate, albeit unknowingly,  to competition. I see this part of my psyche act up when I look into the Insights section and see a spike in the visitors. I am slowly getting out of the mindset that a quantitative assessment or a number can help judge the value associated with an act. I am trying to slowly look away from the Insights feed, and qualify my experience through the few that do go on this journey with me and the kind of relationships we build over time.

So, here’s to 60 days of journaling, and at least 60 more to come.

Yes, Fun! Journaling! Exciting! Whatever! Can you get those kids off the water tank, Please? Irresponsible parenting, I say. I’m going to bark my tail off until they get down from there.” Scotch

Woof!

Day 35: BFFs

While it started off looking like a typical eat, sleep, clean kind of day, the Sunday was made interesting by a visit from an age old friend. As we sat at a quiet tea room, sipping on our kadak chais and catching up on the years gone by, I recall the way we met and became the thickest of friends.

He was in my class for three long years, two or three roll numbers behind me, and I barely spoke more than 10 times to him. Well, neither did he. He was getting awfully close to my ex-BFF in college, and as she and I started growing apart, he seemed to be at the center of it all; the attention hogger that took my BFF from me. Flash-forward to after graduation, and we go to the same abandoned town for our training, exchange a few pleasantries and before I know it, we’re hanging out most of the time. It surprised me how much we had in common and how littler we spoke about it during college days. This was 2005. We’ve come a long way since then. Stayed across continents and in the same continent, across cities and in the same city, and he’s even gotten married, and yet we continue to stay in touch, sharing each other’s lives when time permits.

As I drove back home, after a quick catch-up with Switch, I realized that we’ve grown out of our teenager phase of the friendship, and into the adult version of it. We spoke about investments, and savings and property to buy. We did not talk about the latest movies or the newest book read. We spoke about in-laws and families, ours and theirs. We did not talk about the latest photography gear to oogle at. We spoke about pain in the joints, and the latest gym sessions. We did not talk about the next travel adventure to be planned, the rock concert to attend or the newest gadget in town. Somehow, over the course of growing up, life’s struggles had come out the winner and we had lost our interests, it seems. There were promises of a new location, bringing in newer changes to life. But how effective are these changes, only time will tell.

If it was these interests that got us together in the first place, and if these interests no longer exist, then what binds us together now?

“Thanks to this old pal of yours, I got to ride in the car after a whole week and…what now!? Was that a cat?” Scotch


Rich God, Poor Man

These three little boys are extremely curious about everything in life and wandered into my gated house searching for my six year old dog. The oldest is 10 and is the responsible big brother and the youngest notes, “Even I am 6 yrs old“, when I tell him how old the Scotch is.

As I sit them on the sofa and bring them an apple each, they stare at all the gadgets in the house with awe.

How much is the TV, akka? Must be very costly no? Oh! Small computer! Oh! It’s called an iPad? How much does it cost? Must be a lot of money no? Nice mobile (cell phone). Look! I managed to unlock the phone. How much does it cost, akka?

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I fend off their inquisitiveness with answers that I believe are appropriate for their age. As the oldest and the youngest pet Scotch and enjoy their apples, the middle one wanders off to more apples kept at the puja area.

[It’s customary for most Indian households, especially Hindus, to have a little temple in the house; a collection of idols and pictures to bless the house. These idols are traditionally worshiped by lighting lamps and incense sticks and with offerings of flowers, vermilion, rice flakes or money.]

He carefully stares at the many colorful idols on the various sections and his eyes eventually rest on an idol that has been recently worshiped on. He fixates on an idol that sits smack at the center of a small podium, and has mounds of Rs. 5 coins lying around it.

Why is there so much of money put there, akka?“, he quizzes me, while settling back on the sofa.
It’s for the God. My mom must have done a puja with the coins.“, I respond.
But, God already has so much money. So, why are we giving him more money?“, he retorts, catching me off guard.
Umm…I…don’t… How old did you say you are, again?“, I ask my quizzer.

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I am 8“, he responds, ” and Mani anna is 10. My mama came home drunk last night and threw quite a fit. It was very funny, you know!” and he continues to munch on his apple.

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The dusty destiny!

‘Tis has been quite a while since we conversed. True. Time flew by and we walked into our own little closets, strengthened the walls around it and ensured the barbed wires saved us from any foreseen onslaught. The little that we heard, when we shouted across the inches of concrete, was the hatred and the hostility within. Staged? Practised? I know nought. Our keen discernment ensured that even a sincere act of fondness was falsified with riddles and mysteries. As each taunt built on another, the walls grew thicker, stronger and more fortified than before. The walls we built for one another, mysterious indeed.

In this lone cell, I hear sounds that baffle me; unknown visions from the past, I realize. A unified laugh at a played out hysteria, a cohesive smirk at the newest stereotype and a mortified scorn at tradition emerge, coerce and drift my way. I play witness to evenings spent in silent harmony, the music of the souls drifting by. I see two lone figures battling an entirety, the mass multitude. They walk together in their lone paths, alone in their combined missions, and yet powerful in each other’s presence.

Something stirs within, a wish? a dream? Fear maybe. I withdraw deeper into my surroundings, my facade from the outside world. And in the urgency to protect my heart from the hurt outside, have I forced you out with it? Did you want to be forced out from sheer exhaustion? Did the togetherness threaten your uniqueness?

The alter ego had vaporized, the best friend had vanished and out emerged my nemesis. Strong in knowing the real me, weak in being me.

[…]

She stiffened her sleeves, smoothing the crease that was beginning to develop. Smart move Mr. Murphy; throwing the wrongs her way, when she intended to make it her best performance. It was going to be the destiny she had fought for own her own, built it from the grave. The world had definitely been more accepting than it had been before. The bruises from her past wars showed themselves black and blue, reminding the observer to tread with caution. Was that the reason for the distanced reactions this time? Was the world busy living a more saner life for itself, untouched by her anxiety?

She shook her thoughts back to the moment she was basking in; the world could live its life and she hers. The walk towards the bridge had been painful. She had to conquer the worst enemy before setting out on this path; her inner self. The ego, bloated from years of hurt and neglect, had thrown its army of reasons at her, one more convincing than the other, declaring the entire episode a mere school girl’s trick. Her brain, the self-proclaimed master, had reasoned with them all, while the heart sat quiet, listening to the war wage on. As days turned into weeks and no consensus was in sight, the heart stiffly sat up, proclaimed the verdict and went back into its sanctuary. The trip would be made.

As her mind raced through the happenings of the past, her feet slowly tread on, stopping at the foot of the bridge. She looked ahead and gasped at the beauty that lay ahead. Pearly gates laid out for the mundane, reachable yet mystic in their ways. She took her first step forward and felt herself sink in, the soft touch of the feathers beneath her tickled her little toe. She let out a muffled laugh. As she lingered on, the season sunk in; little drops of rain slid by the window, concealing the harsh lights beyond. The familiar smells of the ocean swept by, bringing with them sounds from the past. Moments leapt by, as she validated the reality quotient of it. She walked out from aeons of movement and glared at having reached midway. The view amazed her.

She had lost count of the time she had spent there after the initial day itself. A sense of helplessness had set in, rising the devil within. As the heart lay curled at the corner, the ego threw its tantrums. The turmoil within manifested itself louder by the passing. They had all birthed a mistake in unison and now hell lay about. Sad, searching eyes flooded with drops of lost morale, as two feet slowly dragged the entirety back to the earth. She had won the war, but the battle was lost forever.

The world seemed more accepting at her return than anticipated, a welcome worthy of the prodigal was laid out. Aged fingers pointed to the direction of the rightful destiny; it lay in photographs floating in virtual space, clicked hastily by emotionless hands. Destiny flourished in names matched against the stars, lifetimes of congeniality predicted from meaningless scrawls on the eternal parchment. It lived in interests created with the purpose of hitting a match, wavelengths sourced to traverse as one. It rested on familiarity bred over time, distances being lost by it all. Destiny lay elsewhere from where she had sought it.

As the heart built its newest layer of fortification, there was a world out there that needed to be satiated. The brain promised itself to be just that. The head hung low, nodded in acceptance. Destiny lay elsewhere indeed.

Welcome home (Sanitarium)

Airports make me sick. Modern airports leave the walker-by with so many things to gape at, stare at and drool over, that one loses hold of the actual scene in hand. And before you know it you have lost a friend, and a companion, to miles of ocean between you. You have not waved that picture-perfect goodbye that you had practiced all week, you have not said those award worthy lines of parting and you have not smiled once all morning. The shops, the general ambiance, the artwork skewed all across, are very distracting. Someone please take a note, airports should henceforth be designed like hospitals; crisp white walls and dirty floors that ensure that your mind is hung on nothing other than the tragedy that lies ahead of you.

[….]

I was speeding down the highway, a sudden urgency to get back to my current camp. OK! for all those already pointing fingers at me, for being the road-rage consumed beef, I wasn’t driving anything above speed limits, its fast enough to get around in time. The recent loss of my sensible music had left me listening to “classic” rock from The City, whenever did Stayin’ Alive count as classic rock. Now, now, don’t get me wrong again. I love the Bee gees for their pop feel and Stayin’ Alive is unarguably one of the classics that catapulted a bunch of people into stardom, but I digress. So, back to my driving in to town and listening to some mind numbing music. I usually give myself the leeway of letting my thoughts out loose while driving back, especially now that I know the route and the bumps and exits like second trait. It was during one of those thought flooded moments, that I almost jumped off my seat. I must have definitely scared the driver behind me, with that little sway, but the rising moon, up ahead, was a beauty beyond words.

It was comic-book material, huge and crisp white, enhanced by the light blue of the sky. The craters were as clear as pictures in Science text books and the size definitely got me off guard. The moon hadn’t obviously grown in size over the last month, so it was clearly one of those sights I had never seen before. I had to put my camera to some better use right away. I followed the moon down the next half a mile, waiting for the next service area up ahead. I parked in unstated urgency, jumped off my car and frantically looked up above for that bright spot.

It was missing alright. The tree cover and the thick canopy din’t help much either, but I could not locate even the bright light in the sky. I looked around at other passengers, getting off their vehicles to get a drink. Had anybody else seen it at all? Was I hallucinating after all? It had been a tough weekend indeed. But I wasn’t that bad, especially not when I was driving. Right? I walked all across the perimeter of the service station, staring at all directions above me, waiting for that body to come to view.

Unknown to me then, a thick cloud cover had formed above the area, rain laden and dark. Heavy with all its material, it slowly sank closer to ground, engulfing any bright blue of the sky in its stocky grey. I got back on the road, disillusioned by my recent folly. I watched the last streak of blue give in to the rain clouds, and realized that I had seen the first few seconds of the moon rise, before clouds shrouded everything above and beyond.

The whole incident left me stunned and sad in more ways than one. It was like one of those sunrises I had woken up early to watch, only to be met by the thick, dull grey of the clouds. It was a feeling of meeting negatives at every turn we take, every act countered by a stronger, all encompassing force. I felt too mortals for words and rode the rest of my journey in a bewildered silence.

[…]

I slowly sneaked out of my room, bare foot, quickly aware of the wind chill. The drizzle had left the pavements still wet and that added to the wintry feel. I quietly sat down on the steps, snuggled up against the railings, and yet letting the wind freeze me out. There were too many things on my head and the running nose, with its splitting headache hadn’t helped much either. I sat there and stared out aimlessly at the dimly lit parking lot.

First day, two down. That much at least is progressing well enough. I need to keep off all that though. Will need to keep reminding myself of those days and then those other days and that person. That should be enough to fuel me forward steadily. Note to self: Check on how H is doing in this front. First day, twenty new. Decent start. But its time to realize that there are million others out there. So twenty at a time, on a regular basis in required. I verified that the piece of code works. Now I need to check other places where the similar issue exists. Will also need to make sure that the sheet is up to date. That post processing still lacks that one zing I am looking for. Need to start from scratch and check if I get there. Is it time to start P365 already? The weekend deadline is finally here. Don’t want to rush things in the last minute right. Will need to wait for the reviews, spruce up the last one and get going with the filing. Man ghazals make you very introspective!

I let out a deep sigh, collected the complete self together and walked back indoors. Rang the bell to my apartment, opened the door and locked it behind me.

Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope.

Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.

In the end that’s all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth.

In the end that’s all we have: to hold on tight, until the dawn.

– Shantaram.

Nine months in a month

It had been a preparation that had lasted for over a month. We had collectively gone through each and available test prescribed and review suggested, to make sure that nothing new popped at the ultimate moment. We wanted to be covered from all angles, when it was destined to happen.

I had slowly but steadily learnt to accept the lump that was growing within. I guess people around me eventually learnt to accept it as normal too. If they had to see me through this, it was a part of the plan for them to be comfortable with this. I researched extensively on this subject, read about past experiences and learnings from them, anything to keep myself ready and armed when it happened. However, pretty soon, the realization struck; it dawned on me that all this was only making The task seem more daunting than normal. I stopped immediately.

I had heard about the possible of this scenario and expected to be prepared for it. But when it eventually happened, my heart sank, and somewhere someone within me died. They were right, no amount of technology or predictions could anticipate the exact date. As each set date passed by and a new deadline was set, the anxiety grew. With each missed date, we grew edgy. We wanted to get done with it, stomp through the entire process and let the results do the talking in public. It had stretched beyond expected timelines, it had become a tan that lasted too long to turn into an undesirable itch. We had to be done with it and move on.

When I woke up that day and smelt the air, I knew it was going to be it. There was that strange smell of foreboding and the numbing headache that had begun to develop did not help either. Each passing minute through the day got us inches closer to the final fate that awaited. Friends and near ones lent a distanced hand of support; It is a tough time to lead through; We hope it all goes through well; You are a big girl, know you will do fine. . The silence that comes when these wishes subside is suffocating and it was indeed getting harder to breath.

Was it really going to be OK? What if I did not live to see the tomorrow that lay ahead? Did I make the right decisions so far or was this the worst decision that I had made? Should I have listened to God and gone ahead to school? Or should I have gone with what Goddess suggested and gotten married first? Hell, there was no turning back and what had to be, had to be.

The turmoil began at the exact strike of the bell, as if it nature had its plans crisp and clear. With each ticking minute our nerves tightened in preparation; all we were waiting for was a wail or a cry that pointed out that things weren’t going normal. Operation abort! There were experts huddled around, studying the rise and fall of mere lines to portend an imminent failure. Every few minutes we walked by the Specialist, to read his face for distortions. An extra sweat and we’d know the tide was high.

But truth be told, none of what I’d imagined in my nightmares really happened. Dreams after all! The minute came, the trigger was pulled and we moved over from not-having-it to having-it-and-loving-it. A few cursory checks and there were glimpses of a smile beginning to form on a few faces. OK, “a few cursory checks” is an outright understatement, considering the few hours we spent validating through every available test. We ran through hundreds of available reviews and controls, auditing each success or failure points. It had been one of the most thorough scrutinies I had seen in a while. And yes, the smile was all worth it.

We took more than a few minutes to let it sink in. We had done it, again, and had walked through to the other side, super happy. We had just deployed a little over a 100 items into production and the system remained stable during and after it. The load test conducted through the night, simply confirmed what was already known.

The latest production release was a success, indeed!!

: P

A new road, a new beginning…

A world full of blogs and blogging awaits. Correction: A world awaits. I’ve never really been first time lucky. So I migrate from elsewhere to here, in hope, in want, in utter desperation to pull my strings together and find meaning around me. How successful am I in doing that? how much of a mess do I leave behind? Stick around as the story unfolds.

Some ground rules to set before we embark on this journey.

For me, the self:

– blog like noone is reading.

– blog like the whole world is watching.

– blackmail (emotionally, ofcourse) at least two people-a-day to read your blog.

For you, the reader:

– ahmm. hang in tight.

– please be vocal, bouquets or brickbats, bring em on. Am all ears.!!