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.

Aug 05, 2021

There’s this thing I need to get done by August 22. A person whose inputs I’ve come to really value said I need to get the first cut by Aug 06 if I’m to realistically get the final cut by 22nd, so that gives me just a day to go.

Where I am in the process- I’m still being a little clandestine about the whole thing, so I am going to publicly talk about it in code. Maybe as a recipe for something to be baked or cooked.

So if I think of it as stages for the entire task to get done, there’s

a) Deciding the overall ingredients
b) Deciding which ingredients need to go where i.e. which ones need to be processed first and which ones follow and so on.
c) Outlining the recipe itself
d) Preparing the dish
e) And serve.

I’ve completed (a) and I’m just about done with (b) – an hour’s work should sort it. Which gives me around 40 hours to get done with (c) and (d). (e) isn’t applicable till a week later atleast.

This is good. Outlining it all down is giving me some clarity, even if it isn’t in the most explicit terms.

Alright. Game on.

Update – This did not work out the way I planned. Stashed for later implementation.

July 14 2021

Didn’t work much today. Did some stuff that was pending at home though. Had tea at an administrative office. Got extremely drenched after probably more than a year.

Oh and also started watching “The Indian Detective” starring Russel Peters late today. I’m on episode 2. It’s a cringe-y, cliched-jokes-filled piece of mindless production so far. But then again…it did make me get to episode 2 at least. The “detective”-ness is still very much in the making but Russel Peters is alright. Anupam Kher is bearable and somehow they picked all the worst Hindi speakers to speak Hindi while shooting in Bombay. Good stuff guys…

God…Is this what hate-watching is?

July 12 2021

Started learning about the Supply Chain domain today. It’s pretty interesting. I’ve worked on Time series data in the past, but to see this play out in a logistics domain is extremely fun. The thing that stuck with me the most was the realization of how complex something as trivial-seeming as an order fulfilment at McDonald’s can be – right from procurement of raw materials, all the way down to me getting my fries 5 minutes after I’ve ordered it. The course is called “Time Series Forecasting Using R” and I’m looking forward to learning more.

I also heard the soon-to-be-ex-COO of Swiggy speak about trends in the food-tech space, a podcast from 2018 but somehow seems relevant even today.

July 5 2021

Today, I’m experimenting with a new way of logging.

An incremental account as opposed to a summarized one at the end of the day.

Morning log – The plants did not require watering today as it rained heavily last night for quite a while. Breakfast procured, tea prepared and work has begun at an honest, early hour. A good, hopefully productive 2 hours to go before I am interrupted by other humans….unless I indulge in distracting myself before that. I also began reading my 5th Agatha Christie novel today – Poirot Investigates – Short stories involving the duo – Hastings’ and Poirot’s cases. The similarities between them and Watson and Sherlock of the Conan Doyle persuasion isn’t lost on me. But of course, this subject of comparisons has been of interest for decades to bloggers and literature students across the world. One read I found particularly interesting as I looked up the internet to support my immediately preceding comment was this – .I must read up more on ACD’s “occultist” practices. But perhaps, that’s an activity for a later time. Off to work now.

July 4 2021

The day began with the watering of them terrace plants and flowers. I know I intended to find out the names today and have failed as expected. But now I know there’s a Hibiscus plant there, some curry leaves and one lemon plant. It’s definitely a lack of attention to detail as far flora is concerned. I’m able to appreciate the beauty en masse . It’s the individualities that is still posing some trouble. I will persevere.

The rest of the day was spent in this and that. I did however begin re-learning some Django today and I’m remembering how much fun it was the first time I was obsessed with it in 2019. Looking forward to working on what I have in mind.

Fun bit of Trivia I learnt today : The music that appears in a comedy scene in 2009 Tamil Movie “Siva Manasula Shakti” was a direct rip-off of Ashley Tisdale’s 2006 song intro – “So much for you”. Had quite the laugh when I realized.

I also made some more headway at what I’m supposed to be finishing for work. I should be done with a few more hours of work.

I Will wrap it up by tomorrow and move on to the next feature by Tuesday.

July 3 2021

The first weekend since I began this daily journal of sorts.

What I forgot to mention in yesterday’s log was that the night before, late-ish, I’d lugged the wooden study table I’d been using downstairs. I hoped to do it noiselessly. I was unsuccessful but to their credit, my neighbors, if they’d heard a table being dragged against granite and tiles every ten seconds, ignored it all. But I digress. The table that now occupied its old location in my bedroom upstairs was employed today to its fullest as I arranged on it meticulously all the items that had previously been located on the floor but had to be reaccommodated to allow for said table.

I did not go for a walk today. But I did finish the book I’d started two days ago – “Dumb Witness” by Agatha Christie. I wonder what I’ll start next. Maybe a non-fiction.

It was Day 2 of watering the plants. I think I’m starting to enjoy it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll start identifying them as well. Heh, look at me, getting ahead of myself.

All in all, another decent day.

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.