Anxious People – The Netflix Show

I wrote a little about the book this show is based on, earlier this year. I’d absolutely loved it and ever since a dear friend, Reema, told me that the trailer for the Netflix show was out, I’d been excitedly awaiting its release, slated for December 29, 2021, which if you’ve still managed to keep track of time, was yesterday.

It was a little late in the day that I realised that it was here and I waited for meeting after meeting to get over so I could start watching the show.

I started episode one with a mixture of expectations – prepared for, but dreading disappointment, but hopeful that somehow it just might turn out to be a good adaptation. Because you know, in a book, it’s easy to leave out a lot of details chapter after chapter, and perform reveals slowly. I won’t tell you what can be left out because the smallest of hints are enough to ruin the experience of both reading and watching this book/show if you haven’t yet. But I digress. Episode one turned out to be extremely promising. Both the policemen grow on you – the father seems perfectly cast as I imagined him in my head but the son, enhhh, not so much. But eventually even he seems to be a good fit as the dynamics between them play out per expectations. And yes, my benchmark for the show (as all adaptations are) is the book πŸ™‚

I made myself a cup of Maggi and settled down for episode two, deciding to turn in after that but somehow I’ve completed Episode three as well! Speaks to the well-made-ness of the show I suppose. Now, so far, there Has been some divergence from the book. Right from the beginning. Well, of Course there has. Like I said earlier, the sleight of hand that’s possible in a book can’t be transferred to the show in totality. But I’ll tell you what hasn’t changed. Lennart. His goofiness is extremely heartening to watch and the chemistry between Lennart and Zarah is beautiful. As is how they’re setting up Ro and Julia to be in Episode 4 that I’ve just started. Anna-Lena is also an excellent cast although I can’t really say if the husband couldn’t have been played a little better. But I’ll reserve harsher judgement for when I’ve seen a little more of him in the upcoming episodes.

For now, my first impression, I’m glad to say, has been one of relief.

3 episodes down. 3 to go πŸ™‚ And yes, I will be rereading the book.

The Xerox Shop of J.P.Nagar

I do a lot of stupid things. And more often than not, they end up with acceptable, pleasant and sometimes even desirable results*. The most recent one was today, in getting a 600 page textbook printed** online but, forgetfully, not spiral bound as intended. So when the courier arrived with a cover enclosing a sheaf of 600 sheets, unbound and loose (but thankfully in order), I was puzzled and indignant, initially at the printers and then upon realization, at myself. The next 20 or so minutes were spent in wondering how best to collate the sheets.

Many experiments were done – Stapling chapter 1 separately was attempted. I had overestimated the common stapler. Then I segregated each chapter and arranged the 12 chapters in a neat row and congratulated myself on how good the arrangement looked. I briefly considered reading the book page by page. This idea was quickly dismissed. I also considered tagging them but maintaining a tagged set of 100-120 pages at a time is quite a chore as evidenced by past experiences. Finally I decided I’d undo my initial mistake and get the book spiral bound from a shop nearby. It would come at a price perhaps greater than I would have got it at if I’d remembered to do it the first time but oh well. It was the only way, I reasoned.

As I got ready to assemble the neat set of sheets, I wondered if I really wanted a bulky spiral bound book to carry around everytime I was reading a chapter or worse, a couple of pages. No. God had wanted me to make this mistake so I would have a choice, after looking at the number of sheets, of a combination of chapters to spiral bind per my liking. And when the Divine interfere in man-made plans, who are we to disagree? I decided I’d get the book spiral bound , two chapters per mini-book – 6 mini-books in total.

This new arrangement with intermediate separators for chapter-markers in place, I went to the Xerox shop. Now, bear in mind that I’m already hoping to reduce my overall cost to minimize my initial errors, so I’d decided to get the best deal for this additional-cost-incurring spiral binding. I approached the man at the counter and assumed a tone of what I hoped was familiarity – “Hello!! Isn’t your owner around?”, I asked placing my Queen’s pawn two steps forward (1.e5), the opening move of every chess player around the globe. My opponent showed no sense of expected affability, an individual obviously very used to dealing with potential bargainers. “Gone out. Tell me”, he parried (1.d5 ). My chance at an early advantage lost, I decided the only way forward was friendly aggression. “Heh, I’d like these pages spiral bound.”, and without leaving a gap for a dialogue, I continued – “I come here all the time. How much will you charge for these?”. The man scratched his forehead – “If you come here all the time, don’t you know how much a spiral bind costs?”, he sniggered, as if to say – “Dei, if you are bad, I am your dad“. He had me stumped, I admit. But not one to give up, fueled by skills gained over years of cheapness, I said, “Hehe, I meant, I used to come here all the time. Studied right here”, I thumbed at the school behind me. Never mind the fact that this shop hadn’t existed at the time I studied there, but he wouldn’t know. He seemed satisfied. His tone turned genial – “Saar 30 rupees per copy. 180 kodi“. I recognized the shift in tone but I still felt entitled for an enhanced discount. Not my best moment. “150 madkoli“. There was some friendly heheh-ing, a promise of future sales and referrals on my part, some head shaking and eventual hesitant nodding on his and he began the task at hand. “Mission: Bargaining – Accomplished”, I rejoiced.

And I waited. And watched.

The man separated the sheets I’d placed in order of chapters (thanks to my markers) and deftly took out a few sheets at a time and ran them through a punching machine before setting them aside. He repeated this task over and over untiring and with an air of someone who’d done this hundreds of times. A master at work. As I saw him run the punch through the sheets, I noticed the work it took. Even though he seemed to do it effortlessly, there was obviously some energy being expended with every downward motion. When someone skillful is at work, the sight of it is beautiful. Like a potter with his hands shaping a pot out of what was just minutes ago, mud. Like a carpenter slicing through wood as if it were butter. Like a man at a Xerox shop spiralling a coil of plastic through a vertical array of newly created holes as if it were just a nut around a bolt.

In less than twenty minutes, he placed the 6 mini-books in front of me and said – “Done saar.”. I gave him 200 rupees, waved to say I didn’t want the change and mouthed “Thank you”. He smiled and said “Thank you” in return.

I walked away, with 6 spiral bound books and a glum feeling of shame which was now being enveloped by a blanket of satisfaction.


*We will not talk about the times they resulted in disasters here.

**The textbook’s name will remain unnamed because while I’ve contributed to the brimming coffers of textbook sellers everywhere for a long time, sometimes the textbooks in the Indian subcontinent are overly heavy on the pockets as this one was.

The Impermanence of the Internet..?

Let’s assume I die tomorrow.

Alright, let’s not be quite so morbid to start off.

Let’s assume I die the day before this website is to be renewed. They will probably give me a warning of a deferred payment for 30 days. Perhaps 60. Then the website is deactivated. And after another 60 days, this website will have been deleted. I haven’t put this on an auto-renewal plan. There will be no one paying for the website if I don’t do it.

In such a situation, this website will cease to exist. More importantly, (as if anything we do has importance; let’s humor ourselves that it does) everything I’ve written so far will evaporate as if it never existed. As if it were never written. Some of it might linger on in some people’s memories, those of who have read some of it. But eventually it’ll all be gone. If there is a future generation that could have tripped over some sign of my existence by way of my thoughts, this medium of storage, the Internet, the blogosphere, doesn’t offer for that possibility at all. Then again, why does it matter for anyone in a future where new memories will be created to ever read the ramblings of mine from 2021? I think even in my most cynical of states, I know the answer to this question is that it does matter. Because as meaningless as someone’s (yours, mine) day today is for a future that might be unrecognizable from today, it might just open up someone’s imagination to wonder about a time they never knew. A time they were never told about. After all, it’s only because of scientists of generations past noting down all their findings that science and technology has made the progress it has today.

There are definitely many points of failure that need to fail before the aforementioned apocalypse sets in. My payment to WordPress has to stop. Failing which, my website will probably be demoted to a x.wordpress.com domain with the characteristic branding of a freeloader by way of the website hosting this page – which is not so bad. Then at some point, WordPress itself has to stop existing, which is not all that farfetched a scenario. Businesses are sunset all the time. The point is, there can be a situation in which the passing-down of thoughts to the next generations can fail if continued in this medium.

Then what medium is foolproof? Or rather, deathproof? Is there such a way? Is the actual practice of writing on paper better? I’m inclined to say – Yes. I’ve seen written notes from 3 generations prior to mine, which, while in Tamil, are still present. But as I “write” this, I realize I’m at a cusp-ish-generation that will be the first to leave behind thoughts in a digital format i.e. in a cloud-based form. So I have no real yardstick by which to brand this form of journaling an inferior one.

I guess time will tell.

But I won’t be around to find out.

Social Media Sucks – Part 1 of βˆž

This article about Facebook’s history of weighing reactions differently overly time culminating in uniformity for all reactions except for the “like” and the “care” reaction was published in October this year, 2021 – https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/emoji-reactions-cute-addition-facebook-became-headache-rcna3747

I’ve hated the concept of social media while being a grudging yet more-than-active participant in it for years now. And what gnaws on me day in and day out is the fact that this is all very dystopian and unnatural – the concept of assigning points to every little thing we say. every thought we have that we choose to put out there. This is not normal and definitely can’t be healthy. We weigh things in real life in relative terms already. Now for years, we’ve started getting conditioned to weigh every statement we make as well, wanting each to perform better than the last.

If Facebook was being shitty assigning multiple points to Emojis vs 1 for likes etc, Twitter is no better – the only difference is here we’re in a pre-reactions world letting everyone else’s judgement measure if Each thought of ours was “Good” or not, if it resonated with them enough to “Retweet” or not. And for some inexplicable reason, Retweets (that are not endorsements) have become extremely appealing to us, perhaps giving us reason to revel privately that somehow we are not alone in having this thought. This is obviously not leaving Instagram out by any means. Each photo we put out receives meaningless “likes” from friends and families who, for all we know, are double tapping out of nothing more than habit. And we know this. And YET, there’s a hit of dopamine that we crave and go back for to check the number of likes we’ve recieved on the egotistic photos we posted.

While all this is disgusting, it probably shouldn’t surprise us. The concept of attention-seeking isn’t new. As Humans, it’s almost primal that most of us seek attention for the things we do. It’s how a baby starts off, receiving attention for the absolutely most mundane things he/she does – standing, walking, reading for the first time – all of which are praised heavily by the doting family, if we were lucky to have one. And we should count ourselves lucky for having it. Cut to school when we participate in events that make us “stand out” – extempores, debates, quizzes, races. Followed by events at work that “award” you for outperforming everyone else in your salaried role in that quarter or the year – the entire society is designed to make you want to stand out, simply because you already are, one among many. So so many.

Then it would seem that really, all the technological giants have done really is exploit this desire we have for attention and make it work For them. And make no mistake, it really is for Them.

I cannot offer a solution here. Being a part of the problem and being afflicted by it still, I cannot proffer one.

All I can do it write pieces about it with my thoughts on the topic over and over till I hammer it home for myself and never visit my “profiles” again.

And hopefully, just…live.


Needless to say, none of the posts in this series will ever be posted on any form of social media – Not Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and not even Whatsapp.

Minnal Murali

I watched Minnal Murali 🌩 day before yesterday and absolutely loved it. Tovino Thomas’s character development from a selfish everyday guy to a hero who understands what a hero means is so well done and you can’t help feeling a little sympathy for his nemesis either! Guru Somasundaram in the villain role absolutely kills it, his obsession in place, his motivations for doing what he’s doing, eventually transforming into rogue revenge is a treat to watch. If you’re looking for One movie to end this year with, let Minnal Murali, directed by Basil Joseph be the one.
And do watch it in Malayalam. With subtitles if you need them. It’s a bloody delight β™₯

I just want to blog/write on the Internet. What platform should I use?

A friend recently asked me what he should use if his usecase is that he just wants to pen down some thoughts on the Internet. I thought I’d list all the different ways I host my different websites that I have for different usecases. Maybe one of these will help someone else stumbling across this page as well –

I initially started off with Static Site Generators and later adopted Medium, WordPress and Substack over time. I’ve abandoned Medium now.

Regarding the ease of usage, I find WordPress (abhiwrites.com) to be the most dependable – from a long-life perspective because Automattic (the company behind WP) has been around for a looong time and I feel like I can rely on it. Add to that, the convenience factor is unbeatable. Even the latest post, I just typed it up on my phone and posted. I pay around 3200 INR for the domain name and hosting per year.

The second most convenient is the Substack website. But I’m wary of it (Like I was with Medium) because it’s new and I don’t know if they might pivot to something else at some point. I’m using them cautiously but they’re also ridiculously easy to post on. The block structure of usage and what formatting you can do on Substack is limited as compared to WordPress but it works. It is fully free as of now because I haven’t paid for a custom domain. I haven’t even looked into what a paid plan offers.

The third most convenient is my Hugo website for BBB. Go gets easily installed and deploying the site once you’ve put in the initial work of choosing a theme is minimal. I like that there’s flexibility there in terms of how I want my structure to be etc. Being a programmer, there’s some lee-way there. But the limitation there for me is I am not very good with UI. So if you check the website, the roughness will show. The plus point though is that I only pay for the domain name on Bigrock and hosting is on Github pages . Approx 1.6k per year for the domain name , security etc.

The last and most tedious is my Jekyll website. While it’s posh-er than the BBB website, Ruby is a pain to work with on some machines. So I don’t like it much. I will migrate this eventually.

I used to use Medium and some of my friends still do. There is a lot of discovery that’s possible for your articles because of related “Medium publishers” picking up your writing based on the content, tags etc, but the reason I stopped using it is because I started seeing articles being put under a Premium paywall even when the content was sub-par. An elitist’s garden that doesn’t let most people smell the flowers. That didn’t sit well with me and I’ve since migrated all my content to one of the above mentioned sites. But if you want to use it, that’s up to you. It is convenient to publish on Medium akin to Substack.

tl;dr –
If all you want is to pick up a place to write on and just …write, WordPress/Substack are your best options.
If you feel like you’d like to take up the technical challenges of setting up your Static Page Generator, Hugo or Jekyll or Ghost are good alternatives!

The end goal however shouldn’t be lost in all this hungama Writing.

T is for Tripping

Most days while on the road, I normally have an objective, a destination and a reason to be traveling but that day I found myself with a lot of time and I was in no real rush. So I took a normally forgotten turn on a commonly traveled road just to see where it led. It opened up to a pathway on one side and a lake on the other. An unfenced lake.
At one point on the road, it became clear that vehicles weren’t the way to travel any further. Instead there was a semi spherical wooden thing that people were seemingly supposed to get in and slide down the rest of the way. There were a bunch of these arranged alongside a wall on the left side of the road.
I got into one and set myself in motion. It was very cool. I slid down the road and up when the road curved up and sideways left and right similarly. When it finally stopped, I was precariously (I’d just noticed) close to the edge of the lake. The water was sparkling under the sunlight. I forgot myself in the shimmer for a bit. Then I looked around me to see where I’d ended up and that’s when I spotted the sign – “Beware of snakes”. I immediately decided my little trip was over and set my semi sphere in motion down the nearest slope again. This time after a little while it stopped suddenly. And while I was examining the reason for my abrupt halting, my eyes fell upon a heap of a coil sitting motionless. I decided I wasn’t going to wait for it to move and ran, semisphere dragging after me. In the hurried motion, the part of the semisphere I was holding broke from the whole into my hand and the rest of it rolled away into the water. But I was so panicked to understand what happened that I kept running. I ran and I ran and hoped to run up to my vehicle I think but on the way, I tripped and fell. And passed out.
When I woke up, I saw a pair of beady eyes staring down at me. My vision cleared up and I realized I was face to face with either a mongoose or a badger, not knowing which because I’d never seen either in the flesh before and even the pictures I’d seen weren’t very clear in the difference or I’d just not paid enough attention. The latter is more possible. It must have been the shock of the sudden sight but I passed out again.
I woke up this time in the safety of my bed. I rubbed my eyes groggily and decided I must have dreamt it all. “These dreams are getting way too realistic these days” – I mulled. I fell back again on the bed, my head hitting the pillow with a heavier thump than I was used to. I felt under it and retrieved the reason for the thump –
The piece of the semisphere that had broken….

S is for Silence

When was the last time you were silent?

Not in the sense that you were listening to someone and for that interval you said nothing, but truly silent. That feeling of calm emptiness both because there’s nothing on your agenda that demands your urgent attention and because you’re completely actively unengaged – no phones, no conversations, no thoughts.

Just …silence.

I can’t remember the last time I was silent. Perhaps it was in an age before Uninterrupted Power Supply and smartphones. On evenings when mum wasn’t back from work but the power had gone out. I’d carefully make my way to the kitchen and feel around for one of the candles, guided sometimes by the moonlight streaming in through the meshed window, sometimes merely by touch and a mental memory of the kitchen layout. And once it was lit, I’d sit and look at it. The flame was always beautiful to look at. Sometimes I’d poke my finger into it rapidly and sometimes just place my palm a little over the tip of the flame – foolhardy actions of a young boy and yet, some of the most fun I remember having. And after I’d had my fun, I’d just sit in front of the candle and slip into a daze of conscious nothingness. I’d look at the wax dripping, not really paying attention to it. And for that remaining period of 20 minutes to an hour – while waiting for the candle to die out or the power to return, all that was there would be peaceful silence.

This thought bubble about silence isn’t going to end with a plan to simulate that state of being. Because I think I’m far too down the road of continuous stream of random thoughts to try and muster silence in my brain.

I’ll settle for a state of perpetual satisfaction.

The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden

I’ve come to understand that while I do not know all the forms of humor I love, I Undoubtedly love the Swedish sense of humor – that form of writing that elicits a laugh not at the end of a line or two or even ten, but at the end of three pages when you understand how the irony works, how the accidents work, how the coincidences work, That form of humor is beautiful. There is also another form of writing Jonas Jonasson Nails and that is dry humor – when he performs reveals about the three Chinese women or about how a group of the unlikeliest people are bundled together in a place you’d never expect, or when a Mossad agent finds himself outwitted by a cleaning woman but that isn’t written in a slapstick sort of way, but extremely gracefully – like a bird gliding to a slow and steady landing. I suppose that’s the only way to describe This humor style – graceful comedy.
Then there’s the whole drama with the Twins – Holger and Holger II and the way the non-existence of the latter (you Have to be there) is portrayed both as extremely tragic to the afflicted and as hilarious to the reader – the whole set of experiences left me grinning ear to ear on walks as I heard the encounters one after another and many a passerby probably wondered why I was smiling so much.
You simply must read about The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden, because Nombeko, the star of the book has had quite the interesting journey πŸ™‚

R is for Repeat

The man stood on his crutches on the pavement watching the sea of vehicles speeding by, each trying to make it over the imaginary finish line before the next red light would arrive, indicating the end of the current race. And arrive it did. A few errant motorists ignored it.

The other vehicles dutifully halted, a new tetris grid forming. The man took this as his cue to hop onto the road, aided by his good leg on one side and two crutches on either. His hand stretched out mechanically as it had for hours before that for days on end.

Many ignored his eyes that bored into the side of their helmed faces. Some obliged, fishing into their pockets and digging out spare change that they surprisingly found and some came back empty-handed with sheepish looks as if to say – “I wanted to… :-/”

The man repeated this exercise with as many vehicles as he could before hopping back with timed precision onto the pavement just as the traffic lights turned green. This went on for hours. An hour after sunset as the traffic dwindled, the man began counting his earnings for the day. No grumblings, just silent counting.

Finally he sighed.

He looked around cautiously.

The other leg miraculously appeared out of the folds of his “lungi” and he walked back home with his crutches held at his side.

He had to rest for tomorrow.