July 2 2021

I tried to work today but I didn’t really succeed in the attempt. I did a little but not as much as I would have liked. I think the amount of work over the preceding two days had taken quite the toll on “the old noggin”, as Wodehouse would put it. Anyway, before long I found myself at the latter half of the 16th hour of the day and went on my daily walk, today in the little park in RBI Layout. Also scheduled at that hour was a “bookish” discussion between two people organized by some-other-people that I’d signed up for. The rest of us who were not these 2 gents were to be spectators with some minimal butting in allowed. I joined a few minutes late and for a little while felt quite like an alien from a different planet being dropped in the middle of a war with no equipment and no intimation of who the two sides fighting are and for what purpose. I gathered over the course of one circuit of the park that one of them was talking about a book that changed his life and the book had something to say about the power of the mind to fix the ailing body or some sort and the other guy had a sort of vicious vehement way about him, straightaway pooh-pooh-ing the whole notion. Now I must mention that both these chaps were very familiar with each other and their shared history was the reason they were chosen as the people to discuss today. It turned out to be a decent enough discussion to listen to on a 45 minute evening walk, but it did end up with me left in serious doubt if I would much enjoy interacting with either of them if I had to at some point.

Not much of substance happened otherwise.

All in all, another decent day.

July 1 2021

I continued listening to Cabin Pressure today and completed it. Not much of an accomplishment since there were only 12 episodes of 28 minutes each. It’s a testament to how good of a show it was that I was listening to Episode 6, Season 2 and I remember feeling bummed out a little when I realised it was the last episode on the playlist, with the third season not yet in sight.

It was also Day 2 of the 2-day-Office-training and it was even better than Day 1. The breakout room that I was a part of during the hands-on session was extremely lively and made for a good teaching and hopefully learning experience overall.

The highlight of the day (and not everyday is required to have one. Nothing I love more than normalcy) was that I finally went to Lalbagh for my evening walk after months. Well…it’s only been 2 months since I last visited it under very pleasant circumstances, but it Has been TWO months.

It was an extremely enjoyable walk and for a while, I quite forgot the passage of time and that I had a training session to get to.

But then I remembered and rushed to the exit. But not before I chanced by this cool looking fellow –

I also started reading Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie.

All in all, another decent day.

June 30 2021

Today I heard about this delightfully hilarious BBC Radio Sitcom called “Cabin Pressure” voice-starring  Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch and  John Finnemore. Every episode is titled a place on the map indicating where they, the chartered plane and its staff, are or are flying to for that episode and the short but funny misadventures they end up having.

I only started listening to it because of Benedict Cumberbatch, but I found myself most drawn to the character Roger Allam plays – Douglas Richardson, First Office at the MJN Air. I shouldn’t really have been surprised at how a radio show made me laugh so much, because I do love a good dialogue and witty banter and this show is full of those. But I was pleasantly surprised at the frequency with which this continued to get me going. I remember there was a point on my evening walk when I was grinning broadly as I walked along the rather short circuit in RBI Layout’s park and it suddenly struck me that the reason no one was staring at me for what I can only assume must be a very goofy grin is because we’re all in a pandemic and are wearing masks that save us the embarassment of revealing our satisfied expressions that we cannot explain to everyone on a walk.

I do hope you will listen to it. It’s available on every Podcast platform.

What else happened today? Ah yes, it was day 1 of a 2-day-training we’re conducting at my workplace. The hands-on exercise is where I was required to assist and I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Good day.

June 29 2021

I bought two books on Jun 27, using a Champaca gift voucher that was about to expire. I didn’t need the books, but it was …there. So I ordered “Ways of Seeing” by John Berger and “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport. Now, the latter, I was really looking forward to because it’s ongoing and eventual goal to successfully subscribe to and practice the “philosophies” of digital minimalism – a topic highly relevant today and definitely more so, tomorrow.

But “Ways of Seeing”…I bought as a result of subtle indirect marketing, I think.

They both arrived today and I found myself looking at them with a mixture of happiness and what-can-only-be-stated-as sourness.

Because I’m looking forward to re-reading Digital Minimalism multiple times in the future. But as I flipped through “Ways of Seeing”, I…it’s not quite what I expected, you know? It seems like a good book. But I think it will be a good book for someone else that is not …me <Sigh>.

Oh well. I now have a good pre-bought, unplanned gift to give away.

The butler did it.

He’d proved them all wrong. He reread the mail he held in his hand, a letter that was addressed to him – K Pazhanisamy – for the first time in the decade that he’d worked at the Selvam residence. The contents hadn’t changed from the first time he’d opened it with shaking hands –

"To, 
Mr. Pazhanisamy
Subject : B.Sc Mathematics results.."

The subjects and marks per were listed neatly and he looked at them again to make sure he’d read them right. And finally came to the last line. He blinked.

It hadn’t been an easy journey. The Selvams may have called him the butler when in the presence of their friends and extended family. But he knew he was merely a glorified servant as far as they were really concerned. And to that end, while he’d never had to go to bed without a meal for as long as he’d be in their charge, it had stung to see Saravanan Selvam, the apple of everyone’s eye in the household, who was the same age as Pazhani, grow up with seemingly no obstacles and have access to the best of everything, even as the latter waited on him everyday, polishing his almost-always-new shoes, serving him hot meals and pressing his branded clothes, all the while wondering what he’d done wrong to not be able to enjoy the same luxuries.

-WIP

We’re not “in control”

We like to think we know what we’re doing. For the most part, we have ourselves convinced that we are “masters of our domain”, not quite in the Seinfeld-ian way, but in terms of how we spend our time everyday, what we work on, who we talk to, what we eat – basically everything we do on a daily basis.

A few months ago, I had myself convinced that I was conducting a qualitative experiment on Twitter. I was gauging responses to a post I’d made and subsequently to a couple of polls I conducted. Here my assumption was that I am the experimenter and the people who were participating were, as they were going about their day, unwitting participants of said social experiment. At the end of it, as I mused the responses, it struck me that I had “conducted” this experiment on a platform where I myself, am a subject of an production-ready experiment. A social experiment where I am one of, as of 2020, 186 Million test subjects.

This is merely a microcosm when we consider every other aspects of our lives.

When we travel on the road on a vehicle, we’re not in control simply because we’re steering the vehicle. We’re dependent on its condition, on the condition of the roads we travel on, on the behaviors displayed by actors alongside who we travel, some of who might …lose even their perceived sense of control thereby affecting ours.

When we say something to someone with the best of intentions, unless the sentence is neutral or objectively flattering, there is, however minuscule, a chance that said sentence can be perceived in a negative way. We thought we were in control of the conversation, but clearly we weren’t and everything was just a matter of circumstance.

You think you’ve made all the arrangements to catch that train. But if the train schedule has been advanced and they sent you an intimation but you didn’t receive it or simply didn’t see it, you’ve missed it.

We’re not in control as long as we’re on someone else’s platform.

And we’re almost always on someone else’s platform.

Even as I sit typing this out, I’m not in control of whether this post will see the light of day as a meteor might come hurtling through space and wipe out my very existence halting my words mid-senten..

Bildungsroman

Today I learnt that there’s this term called Bildungsroman . I tripped upon it while I was pondering the commonalities between Harry Potter and Naruto , about how both of them were underdogs, cursed at birth – one with a horcrux, and the other with a curse-mark, grew up effectively with no one to love them till they were of a certain age but are both intended for great things and grow into their respective savior roles. The genre itself doesn’t require the main character to be a “hero”, but the stories do intend to show the psychological and moral growth of said character.

Now that I know a whole bunch of books fall in this category, and because I know I like this genre, I have a lot of potential reads to pick from this year.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3248.Best_Bildungsroman_book

I’m sure there would have been some unintentional overlap in this year’s picks anyway. But now I know.

Random thoughts

— borne out of sounds I heard, remembered or imagined.
  • A glass bottle rolls lazily down the stairs, not too hard that it would crack or shatter on each bounce but just enough to maintain momentum that it doesn’t stop noisily rolling down till it reaches the floor.
  • The dog next door barks continuously, tirelessly, but probably not effortlessly. It’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t be some stress on its lungs for the amount it barks. I wonder what it’s thinking about..What it’s pining for..Maybe it’s hungry. Maybe it wants some attention from its owners. Maybe it feels cooped up indoors. Maybe there’s a sudden unexpected change in what it’s been observing. Maybe…

BOOK REVIEW – The Office: An Oral History by Andy Greene

♥ Now I have to read this

Thought Bin

The original title of the book is The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History, but I figured that might be too long for the title. Anyway below is my review of the book that I discovered when I was seeking out something to read on my favorite comedy show.

In short, I loved it! I think if you are even a casual fan of The Office, you’ll enjoy the book. It’s an oral history, where interview snippets of cast and crew – writers, cameramen, directors, everyone – are collected and structured around themes that chart the Office journey right from its inception in UK to its culmination as (pretty much) a cultural phenomenon. I really liked reading the thought processes and all the big and little considerations that went into making the show, like the office layout in relation to the characters…

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Sunsets

He walked barefoot because the gravel felt like acupressure against his broken, aching soles. Even the occasional pebble’s jab did not bother him much, because by now, pain had started to feel like a relative, that kept visiting even if you kept changing residences to avoid them.
He smiled to himself as he reached the end of the cliff and looked to his right. “Well? This is it eh Fluff?”, he addressed an imaginary dog that had already met its untimely demise a few days earlier.
The late-evening sun from this vantage point looked glorious.
Instead of jumping immediately like he’d intended to, he groaned involuntarily, as he bent and sat down at the edge, letting his tired legs hang out down the side of the cliff.
Looking at nothing in particular he tried to reflect on what had happened over the week but at that point, he drew a blank, as if the walk had drained him of memories as much as energy.
Oh well. It didn’t matter, did it. He was already here.
He pressed one tense hand to the ground behind him, as if to no longer postpone the final task he’d set for himself when he heard a loud “Woof!”.
Turning around to see the source of the sound, he saw a snowy mass bounding up to him and halting at his side. He watched puzzled at this white pup with wide eyes staring back at him with what seemed to be equal bewilderment. After a few seconds, it nuzzled the hand he’d placed on the ground and sat next to him. Still surprised, he patted the now resting pup and relaxed. The soft coat under his palm quivered gently and steadied.
He sighed and looked at the sun again.


It hadn’t set just yet.