Monday, November 01, 2010

Love or Lust, Simple or Flashy, Subtle or Pompous...

Busy work schedules precluded clear thinking on pretty much everything other than the most  basic needs of food and sleep. From the length of the post, you can pretty much understand why it took me so long to post it.
But before we start, the classic disclaimer: Extreme criticism for current-age Bolly-noise, err... Bollywood Music follows, so if you would take offense at that, then don't bother reading any further.You have been warned!

One of the major turn offs of current era Bollywood songs is that they are too corporeal, too much focus on glamor, s_x & vulgarity. And are always lewd in nature.  If I were allowed to go on with the list (btw, for the fear of sounding slightly arrogant, who the heck is going to stop me!), then other problems include showoff, over(x bazillion times) acting, under(x 100 bazillion times) acting, close-to-nothing clothing, flashy (read: blinding) movie sets, apparently formless random (yet sometimes skillful) body movements (allegedly called dance), earth shattering noise (somebody told me it is called the music!), and last but not the least, utter nonsensical and meaningless amalgamation of words (again, the misinformed in me was told it is the lyrics of songs).  Well, at least this stands true for 97.251%* of the crap they churn out these days.
(*under standard test conditions approved by SDA, Some-Dumbass Association, sample data collected from 1930s through forever).
If I didn't know any better, most songs are composed this way, at least this is my firm stand: take all the words you want to be in the song, arrange them randomly, straighten them out to conform to some semantic and grammatical rules of the language (in fact, many choose to totally ignore this step, and earn lots of 'Vhoas' as praises in return!), and then shove them up as songs! If you are slightly more demented...err.. I mean talented, choose the initial word set from many different languages into the mix instead of using just one language. And, this, allegedly is also the same formula for music, except words are replaced with "utensils of different sizes and metals".
Of course, I mean no offense to my buddies who enjoy them (I will still love them for who they are!), admittedly I too indulge in noise myself, but only rarely (and often forcibly).  And, No No I'm not partial, I am totally objectively against such blasphemy of what once was otherwise a perfectly fine musical art.
Ok, enough trash-talk, now go back in time say half a decade from now, and what you discover is you didn't need all the above crap to get across the message of affection through musicals.
(I will refrain from using the word love in this context, because, today, it is *the* most abused, misused and misunderstood of words. Not to say unreasonably overloaded & overused!)
Song under consideration is this...

Tujhe Kya Sunaoo Mein Dilruba, (linky).
  • Movie  : Aakhri Dao, 1958
  • Music  : Madan Mohan
  • Lyrics : Majhrooh Sultanpuri
  • Singer : Mohammed Rafi
If the Youtube link ever gets taken down, don't worry, get it as an MPEG-4 video from here!
I strongly encourage you listen to the (not just hear the) song before reading rest of the nonsense err... post, I meant.
Just so that you can connect (now, wait, who the hell wants to do that!) to what I'm trying to blabber...
Let's start with easiest of the things first: Expressions!
0. Expressions: Simply priceless.

Nutan (the lead actress) without saying a single word is conveying so many messages back to her sweetheart. You want to look at her again and again and yet again for such beautiful expressions, even though she's not showing any valley-deep cleavages, mountainous endowments, surgically sculpted face, curvy figure not even digitally perfected makeups, or for that matter, not an inch of skin, other than her face and hands of course.
Often not sure if she should repent the fact she forced him to sing, or agree with his words, or just shrug in denial and or shyly accept the proposal.
So innocent, delicate and yet lovely and provoking in its own right.
Shekhar (the lead actor) on other hand is reciprocating all that with utterly confused looks wondering whether she is liking the words coming out of his mouth and at the same time totally oblivious to the presence of other friends of hers around them. Classic!  No flashy sets, or flashy (read: fleshy?) clothes, and no lecherous gestures. Yet message is clear: He madly wants Nutan to be his soul mate.  In fact, you could turn of the damn volume and still make out the essence of the whole affair.
Show me _one_ current-era song that can achieve this message with volume turned off!
In my view, this should easily be one of the few most precious gems of what is dubbed as the Bollywood's era of Golden Music.
The day I rediscovered this song (about 3 months back), I listened to it at least 20 times in continuous loop keeping aside everything I was doing. Yes, that is close to two hours without breaking a sweat! And I still couldn't get enough of it.  The only reason I had to take a break was  the fact that my phone went off shaking me out of my trance back into the reality.  Since then it has clocked at least a thousand play counts.  Such is the chord this song has struck in me, I almost go in trance when I listen to this song.

When you get past that the visuals, you get stuck with the music.
1. Music: Madan Mohan
Madan Mohan's masterful artistry with the tunes... oh God...  So soft, non-pompous and in-tune with rest of everything.  Unlike current age music that more often than not gives you a severe headache if you hear it more than twice in a row, best described as a well-organized (that's about the praise it can earn from me!) fall of a bazillion metal utensils of varying sizes! Well, at least, most are, if not all.
I doubt if this piece of artistic music used more than a handful variety of musical instruments, by far only a small fraction of the instruments used today and none of the today's musical electronic gadgetry for pre-post-and-on-the-fly processing.
Again simplicity at its best. I find this to be one of the best musical creations of Madan Mohan.
Yet again, my faith in my own long standing belief is reinstated: "Simple things are always the Best'est".  That doesn't mean simple in terms of effort, trust me, making things simple takes at least a hundred times more effort and not to mention an unfathomable streak of genius to achieve it!
When you have enjoyed the visuals and music, you come to the lyrics, ~~~bowing so low in respect, that my back's cracking~~~
2. Lyrics: Majhrooh Sultanpuri
So pure, without slightest hint of lust, or use of off-color language and yet the insatiable desire of togetherness is conveyed so effortlessly.
Not even explicit mention of love and it's associated madness (illness, to be more precise!).  And still you can feel how deeply the lover is in love with his lover (well that is too many loves in one statement, but you get the point, don't you!).  His mental state is so beautifully conveyed in poetic form. There is only one of the handful few who could have penned this simple yet magical craft of words: Majhrooh Sultanpuri.  (And you would have NEVER heard of him in your life, and never will, unless you listen to the only true radio station: Vividh Bharati).  I tried my best, really hard actually, but not even my best was good enough to describe the lyrics.
You ought to listen to it for yourself to let its magic work on you.

Last but not the least, comes the final stroke of master himself, The Singer!
3. Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Just as it on to the shoulders of a master polisher to bring out the real ferocity in strength and delicacy of artistry in the Katana (Samurai Sword), so is the onus of bringing out the best of a song on to the shoulders of the singer. It is almost as if a singer has the power to make or break the whole song.  His masterful and final finishing touch is what eventually reveals the real beauty of everything that music composers and lyricists have been working hard to conjure up (conjuring might be the right verb, because I see no other way of creating such things!).
The words when flowing out of Rafi Sahab himself mingle with not only great music but also effective cinematic direction of the situation, to create something which is nothing short of but a goblet full of Ambrosia, an ambrosia, you suspect, God Himself must have orchestrated and personally blessed!

This song impresses upon me, yet once again, Lucky Are Those Who Have Found Their True Loves.  Lyrical, cinematic and musical representation of what such a lucky person would feel when he finds that one thing which all of us so desire to attain one day, only deepens my desire to reach that Nirvana-like state.

But that is not all, what is not so obvious behind all this is the fact, which I now totally believe to be true, (fact, true, believe... in the same sentence, man you are nuts!). ~~~aaargghh~~~
But what is not so obvious behind all this is the fact, which I now totally believe to be true is, that each one of the artists (the singer, music director, lyricist, cine-director) who made this possible must have found their true loves. And not only in their respective arts, but potentially in human-forms too, a far more difficult feat to achieve.  For, it would otherwise have been simply impossible to achieve such a feat of connecting so deeply with the audience. Even if that audience was just the singular nuts-crazy author of this post!

Now you see, why it requires more than a hundred iterations to enjoy this song!  When I listen to this song, I can choose to enjoy it as a whole package, or just the song without the video, or focus just on music, or just the lyrics, or even just the vocals, and last but not the least, the subtle yet not totally amiss, the [in]direct philosophical implications! I can enjoy this song in so many ways, dare I say, it is a Swiss Army Knife of the Musicals!  Wish I knew a little about Indian Classical Music to dissect this song more scientifically (artistically, to be technically correct).

I had so much to share when I contemplated the post in my head the first time my half-century loop count on this song was over, but now that I actually want to pen it down I'm falling short of appropriate words and praises.
If you have listened to the song, then endured my blabbering all the way this far, you deserve to be treated once again with this song, what say, because I bet it is way too far up, and you don't want to gloss over all that again :)
Listen to the song, and discover the joy and magic from the era of Golden Music: Tujhe Kya Sunaoo Mein Dilruba, (linky).
  • Movie  : Aakhri Dao, 1958
  • Music  : Madan Mohan
  • Lyrics : Majhrooh Sultanpuri
  • Singer : Mohammed Rafi
If the Youtube link ever gets taken down, don't worry, get it as an MPEG-4 video from here!
Some useless facts about this post:
  1. This song has easily clocked a thousand+ play counts, and still counting
  2. I was listening to the song continuously for the few hours it took me to compose this post, which was not done in one single sitting. First words of the post were (digitally) inked in early Oct.
  3. I'm so glad one of my most favorite songs is sung by my only favorite singer: Rafi
  4. I had to use a thesaurus and a dictionary to dig through and find the most appropriate adjectives. If you feel I could have done a better job at some (or all?) places, feel free to email me or leave me a comment.
  5. Something I often say, I'm serious about the fun I have! And this is but one example of it.
P.S. For all of you scratching your heads in vain, the answer is NO! Nada!  You know that I know what you are thinking, so the answer is negatory!  So stop scratching your heads and get back to enjoying this masterful composition with no strings attached :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Human Race Sucks

And will keep doing so through eons...
If you have been following my blog closely for while, hmm... well no, actually let me be more precise, if you have been following my _thoughts_ closely for while, then you might know HOW much I detest the highly mis-considered pinnacle of all races, The Human Race...

Nothing I say can be summarized better than what Jonas Salk beautifully put, which regurgitated my latent thoughts about this most celebrated of races in history:

If all the insects on earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on earth would disappear!
If all humans disappeared, within 50 years all species would flourish as never before!
-Jonas Salk.

And the meaning of these two lines go way much beyond mere ecology and pure biology, that is if you are willing to step back and think about it for a while. If there were just one singular race of any living organism that I look down upon the MOST with my utmost disgust, it is this human race. If there ever were a living nemesis of everything and anything on this planet, then it would be the human race.

And yet there are a few in this sad race of ours that make living worth for! In this case, only (an infinitesimally) small percentage of people gives the whole race a good name, which is otherwise totally fcked up and rolled-in-bull-crap.

Don't get me wrong, I still love my family, friends and more, and will continue to do so, all of whom are humans :-) It is the race itself that has gone down the gutter and will forever disgust me ~~~utter disgusted grimace on my face~~~

Just a few references on my blog about why I say ours is the most @#$~'ed up race to ever crawl (not walk!) the face of this otherwise very beautiful planet:
  1. Wanna wear Fur? Think again! Very Seriously!
  2. Money Trumps Everything
  3. Infuriation
  4. You know why humans suck?
  5. An interesting question...
  6. I am Back!
  7. Random Thought
  8. Very disturbing animal abuse at slaughter houses (Warning: Very graphic video link!) If the link doesn't work, just google it and you'll get a few hits.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Double Chocolate Cheesecake

If you are overly restless, here's the recipe in a breeze...

  • 24 Oreo Cookies, crushed
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 4 pkg. (225g) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Melted & cooled Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 2 mashed potatoes/4 tbsp ground flax-seed/4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
Make It!
  • Heat oven to 325ºF. Mix crumbs and butter, press onto bottom of foil-lined pan. Bake 10 min.
  • Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, sour cream and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add chocolate mix well. Add mashed-potatoes/ground flax-seed/eggs, 1 at a time until blended. Pour over crust.
  • Bake 45 min. Cool completely. Refrigerate 5 hours. Use foil to lift cheesecake from pan. Top with berries.
Thanks to Sheetal for pointing out the recipe & giving baking tips and Amy for clearing some last-minute doubts :)
Now, before I proceed...

Though I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I experiment in other aspects of life far more than in my kitchen-life. So let me assure you that I am not planning on converting my blog into a cooking blog, this is one of the few pleasant aberrations to my regular experimentation in life.
Cheesecake is one of the few (or maybe THE ONLY one) American dessert I like. And given I have a sweet tooth, I thought of baking one. I have never baked anything before and so after lot of contemplation and seeking advice from advanced cooks, I jumped off to bake one myself. It turned out pretty delicious and many people asked the recipe, so thought of sharing with the larger audience. Plus, it is not very difficult to make.

Detailed Recipe:

Prep Time: about 60 mins, Total Time: 2hrs (add 5-8hrs to freeze)
Expertise Required: Intermediate
Taste Achieved: Pro-level!
(Special Tip: All you guys out there, this recipe is your perfect chance to impress your girlfriends. Seize it!)


  1. 24 Oreo Cookies, crushed (about 2 cups)
  2. Tip: You can use some other biscuit/cracker if you like, say digestive ones. The thickness of crust doesn't change after baking, so use judgment on how many to crush depending on the thickness of crust you want.
  3. 1/4 cup butter, melted
  4. 4 pkg. (8oz, approx 225gm) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened, i.e. room temp.
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 1/2 cup sour cream
  7. Tip: This is my addition to this recipe. If you concentrate well on the taste while eating a cheesecake, you will notice slight sourness in it. Sour cream is what will give you this nuance of sourness. You can use a few drops of lemon juice instead of sour cream.
  8. 2 tbsp. flour
  9. 1 tsp. vanilla
  10. Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
  11. Tip: Skip this step to get plain traditional Cheesecake. If you want chocolatey taste without brown color, you can use white chocolate (friend's tip). But personally I am NOT a big fan of white chocolate. Hard-core brown chocolate is the way to go.
  12. 4 eggs equivalent of potatoes (or ground flax seeds) or if you eat eggs, then take 4 eggs
  13. If you know some good substitutes to egg, please email me or leave a comment here. Please make a suggestion only if you have tried it personally.  I have had success with flax-seed, but limited success with potatoes, guess I didn't smash'em well.
  14. 1/2 cup blueberries (sliced strawberries look sexy, or use your favorite fruit)
Action, Making the Crust: You can get one of those ready-made ones from the market: a pie-base, or even Oreos base. But given that it only takes a few minutes to make one yourself, I find making crust at home to be a more exciting option (and leaves some room for your creative juices to flow!) Plus you are not restricted by the sizes of ready-made ones.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325F
  2. Crush 24 Oreos in a ziplock bag (guess you can even crush them in a mixer)
  3. Add 1/4 cup melted butter, and mix well.
  4. Line your baking pan with Foil and grease it well
  5. Press the well-mixed crumbs on the base of the pan
  6. Bake it for 10 miuntes
  7. Remove from oven and let it cool
  8. Your base is now ready! Set it aside while we make the batter.
Action, Making The Batter:

  1. Beat Cream cheese (4pkt), sugar (1 cup), flour (2 tbsp) and vanilla (1 tbsp) until they are blended well
  2. Melt your chocolate cubes/pieces, cool it and then slowly mix it with batter
  3. Add eggs(ground flax seed + warm water): 1 at a time. Mix the egg well before adding another
  4. Add sour cream, this gives a subtle sourness essential for yummy taste
  5. Blend everything well, ensuring that there are no air bubbles in the batter.
  6. Tip: If you leave any air bubbles, they will rise and either make your outer crust floppy or form craters on the surface after baking.
  7. Pour it over the crust you baked and cooled a while ago
  8. Bake for 45-50 mins at 350F
  9. When done, cool it completely and then freeze it for 5-8 hours.
  10. Remember the foil you put in the pan, now use it to remove the cake easily from the pan!
  11. Tip: Without the foil you would have had to use fancy expensive springform baking pans.
I can't tell you precisely how to know when it is done, but I'm pretty sure if you followed everything, then at the end of 50min baking period, your cheesecake is baked well. Some say, if the center of your cheesecake jiggles when shaken, it is done. But personally, I find it to be a very difficult (and imprecise) test to conduct! Of course, I guess, unless you are already good at baking.

Serving Tip:
Since the cake is creamy, it has a tendency to stick to the knife while cutting. I warm my knife a bit (by dipping it in hot water, or holding over a gas/stove for few seconds) before I cut the cake. That's my personal tip :-) Then, top the slice off with your favorite berry or fruit and enjoy finger-licking tasty Chocolatey Cheesecake. For once, don't bother much about the calories and indulge yourself :) If you think that this isn't enough calories for you, consider adding some cream! Nice hot steaming cup of Jasmine Green Tea makes for a perfect companion to the slice of this choclatey cheesecake.

I followed recipe to the word and I can say that it would be very difficult to get it wrong if you follow it properly. Here's the detailed video demonstrating the recipe I took as a reference: Philly Double Chocolate Cheesecake. My only deviation to this recipe was adding sour cream. (Nit-Pick: I don't know why it is called Double Chocolate Cheesecake, probably because both the crust as well as batter are made of chocolate?)
If you are looking for a lot of hard-core cooking recipes-tips-tricks, then check out my friends' blogs:
0. My Cooking Experiments, by SK
1. Recipes For All Occasions, by Priya
2. I Googled I Saw I Cooked, by Sangeetha

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tribute to Mohammed Rafi the Maestro

On this fateful day, 31st of July in the year of 1980 God seemed to have had a selfish motive...
He wanted the silky-golden voice of Mohammed Rafi all to himself...
That day he might have taken away Rafi Sahab from us, but The Voice (as he was referred to) will always remain immortal within us.

Mohammed Rafi (Mohd. Rafi, Rafi Sahab) born on 24th of Dec 1924, was a man of utmost integrity: gifted with unarguably *the best* voice in mainstream Indian musical history and yet had the heart of a common bystander. Out of his singing career that spanned four decades, he ruled the arena of playback singing for well over two decades, which, incidentally, is also right in middle of what is considered to be the Golden Era of Hindi Film Music (1940s - 1980s). And yet his unprecedented success never got better of him. Through the peak of his career, he was NEVER late to studio for his recordings, he NEVER did a retake out his fault, he was NEVER arrogant of his momentous achievements and above all, he NEVER stopped his Riyaaz (practice, for Urdu). Indeed mark of a true Master.

He remains an inspiration to me for his simplicity, dedication and passion. And, to me, his humility is far more overarching achievement than all of his topmost accolades put together. A veritable king at heart with a golden voice, altruistic, utterly soft spoken, he was (and in my view will remain) *the* most versatile, BEST'est and DARLING'est of the singers. PERIOD. No one was, is and will ever be able to dislodge this position of his from my heart.

At the peak of his career, where movie directors and producers would kill just to have him sing for their movies, this altruistic singer would often sing for free or ridiculously minuscule token payment for people who couldn't afford his actual fees. I know of no singer of his caliber (actually, I am kind of lying here, there *is no* singer of his caliber in existence!) capable doing such a deed. I believe that it was this goodness in his heart that trickled into his songs which made it difficult to dislike them!

I'm greatly indebted to him for his songs, on some occasions, have made my life a little more bearable, few minutes at a time. I have grown up listening his songs and I will grow old listening his songs. While the credit of impeccably good songs is to be rightfully shared with Lyricists and Music Directors who made amazing numbers, it was Rafi, the instrument, the master, who can rightfully be credited with putting life into those compositions. He could command his voice to suit any situation, mood and actor on the screen. If composers could whip out something outta nowhere, Rafi had no difficulty enlivening it through the gift of his voice. He simply had the power to mesmerize millions the moment he opened his mouth.

In the process of giving his golden silky and versatile voice to many great music directors like Naushad, O.P. Nayyar, S.D. Burman, R.D. Burman, C. Ramachandra, Ravindra Jain, Shankar-Jaikishen, Madan Mohan, Kalyanji-Anadji, Rakesh Roshan (and many more) he literally put life into beautiful lyrics penned by the likes of Hasrat Jaipuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ravindra Jain, Shailendra, Majrooh Sultanpuri and bajilions more. As a byproduct of this, many actors of that era got catapulted into stardom overnight with a push as little as that of just one song sung by Rafi! Such was the magic of his voice. ~~~muah~~~

Vividh Bharati, in his honor, is playing only Rafi's songs today for 24hrs. Get an earful if you want a taste of his voice. As a homage to this humble maestro, I earnestly urge you guys to REFRAIN from listening any bull-crap royally-raped remakes of his songs, otherwise widely known as remixes, at least for today. Not even the ones re-sung by anyone else. No one can replace the voice of a True Master himself, please pay due respect to maestro: Mohammed Rafi.

He might be no more with us, but his voice will always be with us.
Some people might be thinking, "but it is just a song", "he was just a singer", "you didn't even know him" ...
I cannot argue with those people, but you might have realized by now that I am serious even about fun and entertainment I have! (in short, KMA!)

I would love to share one, no, two, no wait a few songs from each one of his masterful categories. Be it romantic, classical, sad, serious, patriotic, flirting, or any other genre you can think of, and Rafi could sing it with no difficulty in one take. Each one better than the other.
These songs are some of my favorites, but I believe every one of them was super-duper-tuper hit!

Take your time as you listen through the list, but meanwhile... a minute's silence for greatest of singers of all time: darling Rafi Sahab.

We will always miss you Rafi. May God bless his soul.

0. Mohammed Rafi (wikipedia)
1. Mohammed Rafi (website dedicated to Rafi)
2. Vividh Bharati (wikipedia)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pushing Too Hard?

... Really? I didn't think so, at least not until I was forced to rethink...
Given that summer is here and playing outdoors is not only possible but also too much fun, I want to play everything and every time I can: Volleyball, Football, Jogging, Climbing, Hiking, etc. etc. Who knew I would have pushed a bit too hard, for I thought I was pacing things right, clearly I miscalculated and could have done a better job.

When stepping out of the ground/court/gym, the feel of shirt clinging steadfastly to my skin because of being completely drenched in healthy sweat during workout always makes me euphoric.

So, one fateful evening, in hopes of getting my fix of the above euphoria, I trotted happily to gym for my regular workout. Lately I have developed an insatiable push to run more and more miles (probably out of desire to survive full-length soccer game). I hopped onto the treadmill and clocked slightly more than the 2 mile mark. I have had some knee problems in past, so I was very glad when I was able to hit the 2mi mark once again, without a break and any apparent knee pain. Hungry for more, I want to push myself a little harder. So after some pushups and abs, I headed over to the stair-climber and clocked a few more minutes of intense cardio on it.

Tired & muscles healthily fatigued, nothing hinted what was in the bag of (bad) surprises for me just a few hours from now. ~shudder~
After good amount of stretching (I am mentally conditioned to religiously stretch after every workout), I took nice warm shower, reached home, had my dinner, talked to HQ for a while and blissfully hit bed.

Excruciating pain in the knee jolted me in middle of the night. I thought it must be just a bad posture, so I shrugged WTF and went to sleep again. Only to wake up within seconds. The pain was too discomforting and intense to be just bad sleeping posture. I woke up in horrors of horror fearing that something was terribly wrong. I recapped through my activities of last week only to find normal amount of workout (football, volleyball, jogging). Nothing seemed too out of the place, only a bit much more intense than what I was used to doing a few weeks ago. But I have caught up to it ... I thought.

I swallowed one brufen and retried sleeping. No luck, I get up again and pop another tablet. Still no luck, frustrated in agony, I pop another pain killer. Still no luck, I ran out of options and gave up. I didn't even consider ER because all they would have done is make me wait for umpteen hours (since this wasn't a life threatening situation) and eventually would have given me a much-much stronger pain killer. At home, I had the option of sleeping, at least I could try sleeping. I now lay in bed holding my knee dreaming horrors through rest of the night. I don't know when I dozed off because I had lost track of time, which I strongly maintain had stood still.

I took an appointment with doc and after examining the X-ray he proclaimed I have an inflamed cartilage, he said I had just pushed too hard, that's about it. Happy but still highly disappointed in myself (for miscalculation and not-so-easy-to-spot carelessness), I walked away with one new problem to worry about: Runner's Knee!
This implies no physical activities for a few days, I don't know how am I going to survive it :( But I have no choice. I have to live without my regular fix for a while now.

For the curious and medically inclined souls, in medical terms, the problem is that there is an imbalance in the relative strengths of Quadriceps and Hamstring muscles. This causes undue pressure on and friction of bones in the knees during intense workouts. This results in inflammation of the cartilage between Femur and Tibia, causing shooting pain. I'm hoping to pick up some directed exercises once I recover, which I so desperately wish happens soon enough.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Refreshingly Tired!

Today (Sunday) morning I got up scratching my a.. head and reflected on the previous day: Saturday. Only to realize that it went pretty well for an unplanned weekend. And the first thing, of course, that struck me after that was: Aahh... a nice post material! Especially when I haven't blogged in a while and the post I'm working on for the last two months haven't taken a final form yet. Indy's interrogative chat further solidified the highlights of this post.

Woke up early morning to a nice 2 hour football (soccer) game. It had two amazing bits in it:
  1. the game itself, of course and
  2. the sun was burning bright! It was strenuous to play in intense sun, but the sun makes me feel good, specially when I don't see of him often.
Just when I thought I will take a nice warm shower and sleep like a baby, if not through rest of the Saturday, then at least for a hour or so, I said let me catch up with Arun (aka Anna). We haven't had a talk to heart's content recently. So the next 2-3 hrs I was on call with Anna (talked for a while with Su as well). We talked from technology to philosophy to entrepreneurship to many different things under the sun. While talking, I took the opportunity to cook myself some nice Pasta for lunch(thanks to Vabs for teaching me the recipe). I was hoping to have it for dinner as well (lazy a$$), but roomies liked it too. I say so because after a while the pot was empty :) Feels good when people eat what you cook without muttering under their breaths :)

With stomachful of pasta, I sat down for a nice 1-1 private time with my laptop :) I later connected with yet another friend whom I haven't met in a long while, Amy. A talk that culminated into Bhel-for-dinner program at her place. Just then, called Ani to sync up on some movie plans.

When all the calls were done with, I watched something for a while on laptop, until my eyelids were heavy with sleep and I had irresistible desire to hit bed really HARD. After a nice refreshing nap (followed by steaming cuppa that had Mom-made super-special chai-masala in it!), had a LONG talk with my Mom, brother and Pa. As soon as I got off from that call, Motya (another of my old time buddies) called! God, for a moment I was feeling like I was in a call center!

Another nice long chat with him and soon after some household chores, it was time for dinner, Bhel! So me, Vish & Aveek reached Amy's place for a nice dinner. Though easy to make, it takes some culinary skills to make a tasty Bhel. Thanks to Amy, she nails it every single time. Eating Bhel while watching Welcome (one of my favorite'st movies), was more than I could have asked from the night. As soon as we were done with dinner, Ani called to confirm he's got the tickets for the show. It was time for the much talked about movie in the town: Inception.

We reached a little late, so we had to sit in the front rows with 6-storey gigantic screen almost looming over us. Inception was nice, while I liked the concept of planting a thought by tapping into someone's psyche, I found the movie to be too complex to enjoy. More than 4 levels of dreams-in-dreams is not only complex to comprehend, but laughably ludicrous. It, thus, doesn't lodge Matrix-1(1999) and Jurassic Park(1993) from their top positions as best Sci-Fi movie from my list. That said, I would watch it a few more times to at least understand it completely. But I'm sure that even when I understand it completely, Matrix won't drop down in the list (which BTW, is leaps-and-bounds above Avatar as well).

I have a feeling I'm forgetting something, but... with that, the amazing day that started at 6am in the morning came to an abrupt end at 3am in the night! None of this was planned before hand, except the morning game. What a day! This is a lot of action I have had in one day in many many months!

When I finally hit the bed, I said to myself with a smile: I'm refreshingly tired today!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


When I get a throat infection, in a day or two it takes the form of a more severe nose infection, aka. cold. Under normal(???) circumstances I would take a course of antibiotic and be done with it in 2-3 days.

This time, though, I went a little overboard with my curiosity & experimentation. At the hint of throat infection (I have NO idea where I picked it up from!) I started household remedy: hot milk + turmeric + honey. For two continuous days I consumed the above formula multiple times a day, which almost cured the throat infection. Wonderful! But what I totally sidelined was the fact that the infection had already branched into cold and took a solid enough ground in my body. Yet, I thought, "meh... do I really need antibiotic to combat this? I am sure it will heal without it, throat infection did!". And before I knew, within following 2 days I was totally bed-ridden with cold.

For last 3 nights, the ritual has been:
  1. attempt to go to sleep at night
  2. keep dry-coughing every minute until I can't take it any more
  3. And every one of those coughs send out deadening impulses to neurons in my brain which then makes me feel like the brain is going to explode like a grenade the very instant :( And it (the bacteria/infection/whatever) has a nice annoying trick up its sleeve: you can't have just one cough at a time, you need to have burst of coughs!
  4. get up, make a cup of steaming hot milk (with turmeric + honey) and wash it down that darn throat
  5. Repeat: goto step 0
Until I don't know when I fell asleep!

I hate (maybe I'm even scared!) going to doctors here, in US of A. For the state I was in, I'm more than sure it would have been more than a day's worth of ordeal: unbearable wait time, umpteen tests, then some more wait time and I'm sure I would have had to undergo myriad of body tests (including, I suspect, the much dreaded colonoscopy! Of course it has NOTHING to do with throat infection, that is the whole point!).

So finally, yesterday night I caved in when my brother, whom I call 1/4th of a doctor because he is a Dentist :-P, vented almost full steam at my nonsense audacity :) I then took the strong dose of antibiotic I keep stocked, Azithromycin, it helps combat certain upper respiratory infections.

I'm a little better today, in the sense that I could get up, take shower, eat breakfast, drive to office and churn out some code, all in one shot without a single shut-eye in between! The coughing hasn't stopped yet, but I'm hoping it would by tomorrow. It better stop by tomorrow, because as much of a pain as it is, it is HIGHLY annoying and distracting :'(

Friday, May 21, 2010

Money Trumps Everything!

The other day I was visiting my doctor, and the wait before I could actually see him was insanely long, even while a prior appointment. I can't sit without doing anything, the restless in me forced me to read all the muscle charts on the wall on my previous visit itself. (I'm fine, thanks for asking btw!). On this second visit, I revised some of the charts and then wanted something more to read. Generally I get along my own book, but when I don't get one, I would read almost anything during such waits (probably even the brain-dead magazines like Cosmopolitan!). But I was in luck to have some better options (really? better?), TIME Magazine, it was.

When I opened it, my eyes fell on the Toyota recall episode. I have been totally disconnected with this news, so I thought of reading on. There were heated insults against Mr. Toyoda (President of Toyota Motors) by some demented people. I read that the US government had called Mr. Toyoda himself to be insulted, interrogated and to apologize publicly.

I read all of that first as it was all in bold and blocked fonts, hoping to get the summary, which I did: Money Trumps Everything!
Then I read the first few lines...
"... that brings the total number of deaths to 34 since 2000 allegedly related to unintended acceleration in Toyotas".
What in the !@#$ing hell!
F@#$ing 34, are you kidding me? No you are not getting the point here! These are alleged deaths, that too by yet unproven problems in the car, discounting all the driver error. And believe me, given that millions drive Toyotas across the US-of-A, I won't be surprised if 34 people aren't best of the drivers! And for that, the dimwitted wussies are making SUCH a big fuss. Calling the President of Toyota, such a huge press, massive recalls, threats, public insults and humiliation, unprecedented fines, legal turmoils, etc. etc. Please don't get me wrong, whatever the reason, I deeply regret the deaths. But that is NOT the point..

Point I'm trying to make is; and this is what I spent rest of the wait time at clinic; every single day if not millions, thousands die due smoking related ailments, mostly due to the dreaded cancer. And not just die, they die a freaking slow and painfully torturous death. Not to mention the torture the victims' close family members suffer to have to see this torture and live through it! E.V.E.R.Y @#$ing day! (Note: I lost my grandpa a while ago to cancer, so trust me when I say it is torturous enough just to see a cancer patient struggle let alone see someone pass away. And it won't be an understatement if I said that you wouldn't wish it on worst of your enemies).

God knows how many families have smoke ruined. I'm sure equal number of people die due to driving under the influence of alcohol. Almost equal under diseases caused by alcohol. Not to mention nuisance caused by frivolous alco-holes. And what about the f__ktards in Wall St. that ruined millions of lives, made millions jobless, homeless and foodless overnight! Giving them, not instant, but slow painful & humiliating deaths!

Tell me HOW the hell is THAT not any more criminal and worse than the alleged 34 deaths by accidental acceleration! And yet they aren't as much talked about lowly! Forget about law reform, fines, insults, or anything which will make it hard (if not impossible) to do such things in future.

Come to health insurance itself, you read left-right-and-center everyday how the needy are rejected coverage just so the CEOs can take back hefty bonuses to spend on their shitty w___es. Haven't you ever read how hard big Pharmas are (actually they were, they aren't any more now got what they wanted) struggling to keep the new better and cheap medical treatments away from hospitals? And BTW, did you know that the big insurers have HUGE stakes in tobacco industries!!!
Tell me HOW the hell is this not worse than the alleged 34 deaths by accidental acceleration. Keep noting the keyword 'alleged'!

What about current BP oil rig fiasco? How many people will suffer from the environmental damage caused by one of the biggest oil-spills in recent history? Yet, no matter what, the CEO of BP will still go back to his king-sized mansion probably in armored vehicle with hefty bonuses and have sweetest of sleep, while many will suffer from the aftermath of this spill.
Tell me HOW the hell is this not worse than the alleged 34 deaths by accidental acceleration.

And how many people have successfully sued any of these! Forget about suing, nobody dares lift a finger at them! Why! M O N E Y! With money comes great power! And that is what everybody bows down to. MONEY is THE ONLY common denominator in all of these cases. Money, in today's world has ability to trump everything.

The amount of money poured into lobbying so that these things can function as they are functioning, ensures nobody points a finger at them. They smartly poke holes into laws by saying, well, the pack of cigarettes says it is injurious to health to smoke. How can we help if people are stupid enough to smoke the shitty poison we make! And we dim-wittedly accept it as a rational argument, forgetting the very fact that if it weren't those assholes, there wouldn't be any cigarettes to smoke in the first place! Well, then, by similar argument, I'm sure the vehicle agreement states somewhere that manufacturer is not responsible for deaths resulting from using its machine! And we are not even talking about allegations, it is well known fact that smoking DOES cause cancer, and it sure does cause addiction and related permanent problems. Other respiratory diseases. Alcohol DOES cause multitude of problems. Health insurers ARE running away from their responsibilities to make unprecedented profits.

All these thoughts ran through me instantly within few seconds. So fast, I couldn't even grasp all of it, until yesterday when I had few minutes to capture the residue of what was still lingering around.

I was so numb at that instant that my heart started racing too fast at the mere thought of living in the world with such dickheaded demented people.
The rest of my appointment was a breeze, with me having difficulty following what the doctor was saying. All I caught was, nothing to worry ~~~blip~~~ take a break ~~~blip~~~ the pain will subside followed by a smile. Blips are points in time where I lost track of what the doc was saying. What about those poor b____ds, I wanted to ask, what about those poor b___ds, doctor, who has a smoke in his hand right now, one who lost his house, one who is abusing someone under the influence of alcohol, a father who's running around to scavenge enough money so that he can treat is ailing son just because the insurance company decided to drop the coverage? Will they be fine? But I'm glad that the words didn't spill out... I went back to my office to silently pound on keyboard and trying to shrug away the thoughts about the screwed up state of humanity, if we can still claim it exists! ~~~sigh~~~

But don't you worry, the word humanity/rationality/goodness will soon disappear from dictionaries, or even worse, will have NEW meaning altogether.And the future generations will never have to worry about it anymore, as these notions we understand today themselves will be extinct! Just as is depicted in George Orwell's 1984.

Seriously, I sometimes really feel sorry for current era. On one side we have superb mechanization that eases our lives, connects us from across the globe in the blink of an eye, eradicated many of diseases, genetically engineer plants but on other hand... this sh!t. Guess, the proverb, after all, is not entirely a moot: There is a price to pay for everything. But, I ask, is this price worth paying? Despite general delirious consensus, I still maintain it isn't!

God bless us all, we all need him more than mankind ever did before this.

With all this imbecilic feat of what was one a man playing circus in my mind, I sometimes have real tough time going to sleep ... what about you?
People, we have MUCH bigger problems to fight (tobacco, alco-holes, pharmas, insurance companies, Wall St., terrorists, lobbyists, etc.). Think about what the real problem is, before you try to solve it!

Some really very thought provoking articles to read that compliment this post:
  1. Health insurers want you to keep smoking, Harvard doctors say
  2. BP Oil Spill: 7 Secrets BP Doesn't Want You To Know
  3. CIGNA Employee Flips Off Mother Of Dead Girl Denied Transplant
  4. Aetna Forcing 600,000-Plus To Lose Coverage In Effort To Raise Profits
  5. Oil Reaches Louisiana Shores, photos that depict the devastation!
  6. Totally random, but very interesting insights into current medical practices:

- - - - - - - - - - - update Thu 08/19/2010 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
U.S. Study Points to Driver Error in Many Toyota Crashes

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Treasure Trove

For all those who are wondering that my blog has turned into a bickering philosophical diatribe, here... KMA :-P

Very few people can understand the joy of digging through goodies your Mom-and-Pop sent you from across the world! Just 2 days back I got one such bag and I cannot describe the joy of digging into it, just like we did as kids when daddy used to come home every evening and we would rip open his suitcase to steal away anything new and exciting :) I'm just re-living that joyous moment :)

Most of things in the bag could be easily bought here, what is missing in thouse bought items is the love in making and sending it :) In addition to love and effort what is different in it is Mom's meticulous touch to packing, nice hand-written labels on each packet (so I don't mistake one thing for another), detailed and never-ending instructions on phone on how to mix-and-match-and-consume the yummy stuff, and tons of other niceties that she had been planning and collecting for over a month!

Since 2 days my Mom's been forcing me to open it all and see what's-what. I'm of the opinion that I don't want to open it up all at once and burst the bubble of surprise. It is more fun to keep digging through the trove and find a pearl every day :) That induces a more lasting empyrean joy!

Love you Mom and Pop! You are the best'est of the best! ~~~muah~~~

Note: Special thanks to Vishal's Mom for reserving one full bag just for me & getting it all the way from India to me :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Understanding Life: Curse or a Boon?

Another dose of random thought...

Random Thought 61:

The more you understand life, the more precisely you know *what* you want from life, the messier it looks. And more painful it becomes to live.

These are the words (not verbatim) that Pal shared in an exchange of a few soulful words we had the other day. I could have never put the essence of one of the many important lessons of life in such a concise form. The words have, ever since, stuck in my head and just refuse to go away. And so thought of wedging them into yours too.

Sometimes I really ponder hard on the benefits of living the 'ignorance-is-bliss' kind of lifestyle. Occasionally I get torn between the benefits-n-bliss of ignorance vs the fear of stepping into a mess because of ignorance. So far, to my knowledge, knowing more has only exacerbated the pain. Yet something in me refuses to adopt the way of ignorance ~~~sigh~~~

Probably, as with everything else in life (and computer science!), best of the solutions are the ones which are hybrid of many. I guess, therein, somewhere lies the answer to my vexing question.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Pearls of Mother Nature

Though not as much as I would like, I have been able to spend a little more time on photography than I had been able to spend the last year.

Here's one of my favorite macro shots that I took 2 days back. A lot of my friends liked it too, and so I thought it is worth sharing here on the blog.

Since I always like to read about story behind the photos I like, I would first love to bore you guys with a little background about this shot:

Though the spring is officially here, the sight of sun is still a distant dream. So when the sun shone (unexpectedly) one fine morning, I carried my camera on the way to office. Since rain had just stopped, I thought this would be perfect opportunity to shoot some delicate water droplets on plants. Bingo! I was lucky. When I reached the gates, sun was still up (not as bright though) and the sky's shower tap was tightly closed. I pulled out my camera immediately, and spend the next half an hour or so funnily crouching to shoot droplets off the grass blades just 6 inches above the ground. So prepared I was, that I had even put on a pair of gloves, the temperature was around 41F (5C). I'm sure people peering through their office windows must have had a good morning's laugh and fun time seeing a funny guy shooting grasses at extremely close range, stepping into mud and almost falling onto them :)

And here's one of the few shots I liked, will share more soon.
(click on photo or here to see it in higher resolution).

I love the grass blades seen in the tini-tiny water droplet!

Pearls of Mother Nature From First Macro Shots

Here's another macro that I liked, Heart of the flower, which I clicked the day I got my macro.

Heart of the flower From First Macro Shots

Friday, March 19, 2010

Funny Invoice

Recently my keyboard's 'n' key died on me, and I had to get a new one. So, I had my admin order one for me (oddly we didn't have any spares!). So an order is placed with some vendor (thereafter referred to as Smart-Beeeep). The keyboard arrives in time... but what set me off laughing aloud alone in the office for a while was this freaking stupid notice on the keyboard box:

What? You didn't notice? Well, read it again. Don't you find something amiss! Well, sure you must. I'm not a legal-buff, but this piqued my interest:
Before You Open Any Packages:
- Please verify contents...

How the heck am I going to see what's in the package WITHOUT opening it! I had a good laugh alone in the office, pondering the legalese nonsense perpetrated here. The fear of litigation here (by here in mean US of A) is soooooo high, that everybody's first order of business is to Cover-My-Own-Ass first, everything else is secondary. If you observe closely this is _the_ basic premise of any business done here, that is what it boils down to: from health care through real-estate through such menial package deliveries.

Digging deeper, what this notice means is that if I had found anything but keyboard in the keyboard box, legally I can't touch the vendor! Why, because I violated the contract of NOT checking the contents before opening the package! Doesn't matter that it is humanly impossible (most of us don't have super-human abilities to see through a box!), what matters is I didn't follow the instructions! The only way to comply with this is to buy one of those fancy X-ray body scanning machines they are putting up at airports!
Given I somehow smuggle one of those huge x-ray machines out of airport and do find what I don't expect to find in the sealed package, what follows next on the invoice are instructions on return policy!