Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

Random Thoughts

1) I have been thinking about what to blog a lot lately. Not that I am short of topics – I have got three blogs which are work-in-progress and will come up anytime soon. However, what beats me nowadays is that I have started thinking ‘What is the reader expecting from my blog?’ quite a lot. This realization has not dawned on me suddenly, but over a period of time. One reader who mails me about how the short story could have been treated differently, one friend who calls me and says that he loved the twist in the end, another reader who offers her perspective on some topics I have dealt with – I can go on and on. I cannot boast of a terrific readership (not as yet) – but my blog has around 1400 hits in a couple of months, which I feel is okish, but still a decent number of readers. Is it a problem of managing expectations? Hmm. It is all very well to say ‘Ah! don’t bother about your readers. You just enjoy your writing, readers would come anyways’, ‘This blog is yours, to let out your thoughts, not to cater to other’s interests and expectations’ and all such. I would have repeated the exact two lines I quoted above if you had come to me with this dilemma. And no, no writer’s block as such (that is such a oxymoron – writer’s block, eh? I mean, unless you have written reams and reams of stories and your imagination has dried up to such an extent – then say, I have got a writer’s block. Otherwise, it is pure laziness – not wanting to imagine, not wanting to write – put in literary terms (in an insulting way!)). I think it’s funny in a way- I know the problem (or do I?) and I know the solution (definitely do!) – so what exactly is my problem here? 🙂

2) Trust – I can dedicate a whole blog to this particular topic. I will, however, just deal with it in a few sentences here. Sometimes when people place so much trust in you, that they reveal their deepest, darkest secrets to you – I just go ‘whoa?! why did you even tell me that?’. Frankly, it feels more of a burden than happiness that they have trusted you with such a part of them. A colleague who had a baby very recently, comes up to me and talks about his ex and his current married life and how some of his baby’s features resemble his ex. A friend calls up and dumps all her feelings of how her honeymoon went sour etc etc. I can tell from their body language (shivering and their voice quivering) that they might be sharing it for the first time and didn’t know how to convey. These people are not my best friends (and I don’t think your best friends might even tell you about the above examples, even if they happen to them!) but colleagues, friends whom I hardly know. Yet they trust – for reasons totally unknown to me. Funny thing is, I don’t even know how to react when they come up with such things. I am like ‘Err…Oh…Why…mmm…Oh..yaa…mmm’. Totally dumbfounded.

3) Death of Yahoo messenger – How long has it been since you chatted through yahoo messenger? For me, it’s been more than a year now. After the advent of Gmail and Gtalk integration with Gmail – there was only one way yahoo messenger was going – down. However, I do have fond memories of using the yahoo IM. I still remember, I was so excited using all those emoticons in every other line when I first started. Friends’ lists, groups, group chats – it was all so much fun. When I look at Yahoo IM now, it’s more akin to a dilapidated building with all its structure but no life of its own. Most of my friends and colleagues are on Google IM, and they hardly (if ever) open Yahoo IM. Internet penetration, both in terms of access and cost along with Google’s brilliance has just spelt death knell for Yahoo IM. Yahoo IM is dead, Long live Yahoo IM!

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A Dream Valentine!

I thought and thought yesterday
About a poem I wanted to write
‘Sine Valentine’ I wanted to name it
Never far from my thoughts,
Was a smile of yours
Lost in your smile and thoughts
I fell asleep, like a little kid
Calm, Serene Sleep.

I met you today
Without much fanfare and gifts
For a morbid fear had swept me
I said ‘Thank god! I met you.
I dreamt of my worst fear
That I could wish my valentine
Only through Orkut’
‘I am your love forever, you idiot’, you replied!
I was all glee.

The lunch was the best part of today
For we could converse face-to-face
Rather than the movie, where
We had to face a screen, and not each other
Although I would admit holding hands
In a dark place was much more fun
What with the sardar shouting,
‘Oyi, let us have some fun’

We never met for long, did we?
But the day passed on brilliantly
The hug at the end said it all
Nothing could separate us, for
‘We are made for each other dear’ you replied!

The alarm rang
I sprung up, wondering what happened
Then, I realized I had dreamt
And my worst fear had come true.
‘What do you gain by remembering?’ they asked
‘Nothing to be gained from remembering,
hurting, why, not even dying!’ I replied.

I was determined to love you
like I had loved no one else.
How I never stopped loving you,
and how I always will.
Etc., etc., etc.,
Except that no one writes
a poem with etcetera in it.

Happy Valentine’s Day folks! Now, now, before you kill me for the terrible poetry – this is the day of love; so in your magnanimity, kindly excuse.
(For guys who have been stalking me on Gtalk, this might sound a bit trite) I have just made some money by selling stones to political parties who wanted to throw them at various Archies shops, shouting ‘THIS IS AGAINST OUR CULTURE’! This day is so much fun…yuhoooo!! 😀 Wish you all a fantastic dreamy valentine! 😉

Update: This news update has actually made my day – what with the prophecy of this article of mine beginning to turn true (Ah! So much for the joy of analysis 🙂 – although, as the days progress, the possibility of a counter-offer from Microsoft increases dramatically)

Choice – A Catch-22 Situation

A long due post. I was trying to do justice to the topic for quite some time now – seeking an answer to this Catch-22 situation, but still can’t. The following is just a series of thoughts, for which necessarily I have to behave as an economist – 50% on one hand and 50% on another.

As has become the routine nowadays, I drive down to the nearest shopping mall to pick up groceries for the week. The shopping mall is essentially a hypermarket of all goods that exist on Planet Earth, aggregated on a mini-basis. The choices I encounter there is staggering. I can choose from 30 different kinds of shampoo, 10 different kinds of oil, 40 different kinds of biscuits, 7 different varieties of apples, 25 different kinds of cheese and last but not the least, 18 different kinds of toilet paper. The first time I saw such variety, I was pleased and flummoxed at the same time – and those are precisely the feelings that have lead to this Catch-22 situation.

On one hand, I am thoroughly pleased. Those choices cater to my individual tastes. Some marketer has actually thought of selling 15 different kinds of moisturizers – one for ‘normal skin’, another for ‘dry skin’, ‘healthy skin’, ‘normal skin with extra moisturizer’ etc etc. The consumer can pick up a moisturizer which exactly suits his/her skin. Imagine a situation (which was a reality some years ago), where we had only one kind of toothbrush, one kind of schoolbag and every good of only one variety – we necessarily did not have a choice but to buy them. Times change, choices multiply.

It is surprising how opening up India to international markets has brought about such a sweeping change in the country. A country – where I had to wait 3 months before I get a landline connection before, I have now got 3 choices for an instant connection. A country – where the waiting time for a scooter was 7 years, I can now drive a much better vehicle from the showroom today itself. A country – where prices were highly regulated in terms of vegetables and groceries, we now have food marts which cater to every need at different prices.

We now have different industries where we can work. We can now be gainfully employed in different companies, in different countries for entirely different skills. The kind of choice in education is simply mind-blowing. 20 years back, education was limited to Engineering, Medical or the Army. Now, we have multiple choices – from exotic vocations like designing beds for pets to call centers to the most generic of all, the IT industry. The kind of money we can make in different fields is only limited by your ambition. Multiple employers waiting to hire you – and you have choices to make, for good. We have indeed come a long way in having multiple choices for every need in life.

Yet, the very same choices are baffling. It is very difficult to come to terms with choice, if you exactly don’t know what to do, or what you want.* The hypermarket example – how do I know if my skin needs only ‘normal moisturizer’ or ‘normal moisturizer with extra oil’. Vehicle purchase – how do I know which vehicle exactly suits my need? Education – Do I want to do an MBA immediately after Engineering or should I work for a few more years before I venture to do an MBA? Profession – which job would give me satisfaction? What kind of salary would I be satisfied with?

Did I/Do I know the answers to all these questions? I think not.

When I speak to my older relatives, grandmas/grandpas, parents – they were necessarily very satisfied and happy when they were at my age, or so I think. They didn’t have to deal with all such complexities – what do I study next, where should my next job be, which country should I go next, where do I settle, how much money is enough? I don’t think they had to think through and make all these decisions since they didn’t have choices. There was Engineering to do, Government job to take up, a House to be bought in the city and Pension money to live with for the rest of their lives. So simple, so linear – very efficient, thoroughly satisfied.

There have been hundreds of studies which proved that choices beyond a point are bound to throw humans into a psychological condition called ‘decision paralysis’. Yet, I want more choice – choice in everything and anything, so that I can choose what I want (vanity you see, I want make my own decisions and decide what’s best for me). Free markets have definitely made life easier in terms of market offerings but have necessarily bound humanity to make decisions at every step of their life and hence making life more complicated. As I said at the beginning of the post, I still haven’t a clue of achieving the optimal state, whatever that might mean.
* The emphasis I think is the crux to solve this problem of Choice. But then, if I knew exactly what to do, when to do and how to do – I would be God, wouldn’t I? 🙂

P.S –

1) There really isn’t a Catch-22, is there? I actually don’t have a choice about the choices available in hypermarket, education, career etc. – I just have to deal with the complexity, whether I like it or not.

2) My take on the Microsoft-Yahoo battle published here.

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