Author Archive: Ankit

Interesting Phrases - 1

Without any undue story-buildup, let me present some interesting phrases which are easily encountered in day-to-day conversation and which make a person, not so gifted in the mental faculties like me, think about their meaning and even relevance to the present situation:

1. "Like whatever dude" : I hereby contest that mankind in all its humble ingenuity has never ever come up with a vaguer concoction of words. To even think that a set of just 3 words could convey so much vagueness is overwhelming. Look at the sentence. 'Whatever' in itself is probably the single most confused and vague word ever invented by man. It points to no one in particular. It references no particular direction of thought. And worse, it simultaneously tries to point to and reference every possible subject under the sun. If I were given the authority of replacing 'whatever' with something else, I would rather have decreed that whenever someone needs to use 'whatever', he would rather just maintain silence for 2.3 seconds (written as "Like -------- dude"). See, it communicates as much meaning with a negligible waste of energy. Nevertheless, then the speaker is trying to equate some situation with 'whatever'. Now, I would not have gone nuts if 'like' was a normal word. 'Like', in modern societies is spoken not as a verb or a preposition but as a conjunction (for eg. 'and') and is just used to join sentences so different from each other that every such usage of 'like' is disturbing the sleep of dead victorians all across the world. Nevertheless, even if we take this usage of like in the prepositional spirit, what is the speaker trying to convey ? I might have asked him, so how was the food ? Pat came the answer, 'Like whatever dude', and I with an obviously stunted social comprehension factor is left in the lurch to ruminate over the multitude of possibilities that the food could have tasted like.

Crap!, I thought academia was difficult and art was difficult and a million other elaborately planned human pastimes were difficult. I never thought that I would be so stumped by just 3 words. To the proponents of modern language, I present to thee, my head on a platter :).

P.S: I thought that I would include a few more phrases but this one turned out to have a lot more potential than I expected. So others will have to wait.

Trend-follower

"LOL :)!!!. I m a gr8 frnd LOL :)!!!. Smart, senzitiv nd kool LOL :)!!!.........."

Minus some exaggeration, this is how the profile of one of my friends went during my Orkut days. The moment I saw this, I thought, well, he goes into the quarantined list from this moment onwards. The problem with this statement is that it is too concealed beneath layers of borrowed style and substance to establish any kind of credibility or individuality for the author. Not to mention that the sentence is full of loads of over-the-top lies. I mean, for a second I thought that I had just witnessed the profile of someone who truly embodied the perfection of the human specie like, God or Chuck Norris or Karan Johar. And even if it was the all too great Karan Johar saying these words, even he, in all his immeasurable idiocy would not have been able to carry the burden of the heavy dose of self-aggrandization which permeates the sentence.

Nevertheless, the fact that I came across some kids in the local grocery store today wearing some kind of in-your-face, extreme T-Shirt made me remember the stereotype which underlines such people. They are the same kind of people who would be forced to listen to Britney Spears or for that matter even rock just because their friends do it, use crazy language to express themselves just because its supposed to be cool, drink at parties not because they like it but because everyone else is doing so and they are being forced etc. They buy into the latest fashion trends and happily pay a fortune big enough to provide for the food of an average family for days just so that they could fit in the upcoming social event. They are the same ones who speak english rather than their native language even if it does not serve any advantage just because its supposed to be such an 'in' thing to do. And they are the same ones who, for lack of an individuality, wear forced mannerisms, phony morals and affected beliefs in social gatherings.

I am not saying that people should not listen to Britney Spears or not drink or not use crazy language. But only if they really find it good or useful or advantageous. If such is the case, all the self-righteous snobbish blabbering about how Beethoven is more desirable than Britney Spears is just a load of nothing. And I am not saying that I am any better, but I am trying hard to improve.

The fact of the matter is that those who would only accept an individual if he conforms to some norms expected by that group do not even deserve the friendship or acquaintance of that individual. True friendship does not have a price tag on it and neither does it have rules and clauses. And it is futile to think that someone can fool the world by not being himself. The truth is only thinly hidden and when it becomes evident, its dirty and disgusting. And moreover, everyone gets just one chance to live. What a way to spend that chance if it is spent pleasing everyone else except oneself ?

Finally, for all those incredible jerks who would rather have you do something forcefully against your own wish, I am sure, their stupidity is not something which a quick jab on the jaws and a roundhouse kick on the backside cannot cure :). Just kidding...

P.S: Have been cribbing a lot these days, isn't it ? Hoping that the next post will be a bit more sane.

Federer plays Cricket

http://in.rediff.com/sports/2006/dec/23roger.htm (Federer plays cricket)

Man!!! If ever there was a news snippet which ruled like crazy, this is it.

Most of my friends, even after being Indians, somehow inexplicably are woefully ignorant of the glory of the best game on the planet. They say that the game is suited only for lazy people like me. Well, now you wouldn't call a tiger lying low, in wait for his prey, lazy, would you ? He is just silently waiting for that one moment of weakness on the part of his prey when he can explode with a debilitating burst of energy. My friends don't see the similarity between the tiger and a cricket fielder which I see. Cautious, silent, shrewdly calculating, ever attentive, he grabs on to the ball with fearsom energy when the situation demands.
Alas, they would rather see the glass half empty :).

Nevertheless, well ? Who has the last laugh now ? I am sure, watching the alpha male of human species himself adorn the beautiful game might have raised some doubts about some of your most fundamental beliefs. If you have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel and come face to face with one of the axiomatic truths of the world i.e. cricket is probably the greatest atheletic activity ever undertaken by man after maybe Pheidippides' legendary run from Marathon to Athens giving birth to Olympics, then welcome to my side. If you are still unsure (read wrong, I like to be politically correct) and would like to believe that you still need a bit more time to accept what is only inevitable, be my guest. In either case, if I may just remind you of the fact that there are only two absolute truths in the world. The first is that Federer rules and the second is that cricket rules. And no scale has thus far been invented which could measure how much the spectacle of Federer playing cricket RULES. The only thing that could have beaten this scenario on this scale of fantabuluousness was maybe Federer playing cricket with Audrey Hepburn on the runner's end :).

What is all this hoopla for ?

First of all, let me clarify that this post is not the result of the weary imaginations of a disgruntled soul harbouring jealous feelings against IITs and IITians. If it serves to strengthen my point of view by giving it a more impartial tinge and if I may mention it without seeming to be a snobbish brat, I too am an alumni of one of these institutes.

I have been following rediff.com for a long time now but have lately seen an exponential increase in the number of IIT and IITian related articles on the portal. As an example, from december 1 to december 18, there have been 25 different articles on the subject which pegs the daily average of journalists, who would rather concoct a crowd-pleasing, easy to assemble article on a subject as beaten to death as the glowing exploits of IITians than doing some real research on a real topic at a healthy figure of 1.388888889 (and my calculator gave up here).

Agreed that the interest in the subject has been revived due to the scheduled Pan-IIT conference, is it just me or do others also think that all this hoopla is turning out to be another cheap example of climbing onto the bandwagon of mediocre journalism, the likes of which seem to permeate every aspect of today's society. Dear God!, the situation is bad enough with all those sensationalistic news channels bombarding us with a new breaking news every other minute. A society which manages to throw up on an average of 400 breaking news per day must surely be incredibly high on pheromones. But I am aware that this is not the case because I know that I have not seen a few accidents, some bank robberies, a dozen celebrity scandals, 2-3 government upheavels, and atleast 5 terrorist bombings on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, the point of all this rambling is that the renewed interest in IITs just seems to be an extension of the general trait of journalism which encourages reporters to write socially pleasing articles. And I thought, I had heard somewhere that news is supposed to shape social outlook rather than reflect it.

The underlying point of the matter is, 4000 IITians do not represent India. The 10% growth which the Indian economy is so hopefully looking forward to, is not one of the miracles at the hands of the IITians who comprise less than .01% of the national population. Agreed that it might be spearheaded by some of them, but the fuel that has kept burning it for last several years are the 23% of the Indian work force employed in the service industry and the 50% employed in the agriculture industry. So while it sounds nice to occasionally hear how an IITian killed a bear with his naked hands or doused a fire with his spit or ran faster then light (with light travelling in vacuum and the IITian in water), I think we have had enough. I am sure that rediff is catering well to all those parents who have a kid in 12th and would so much want to see him/her enter one of those hallowed portals and all those kids who have the misfortune of having such parents, why not start doing some real reporting for change? You know, something that meaningfully affects atleast 5% of the population and doesn't look down upon 99.99%.

uff...

सहमी सी इक नज़्म के सहमे हुये अल्फ़ाज़
कतरों में सिमटती हुई, मन की इक आवाज़
आँखों में सर्द रोशनी की आख़री किरन
दम तोड़ते हुये दिल की आख़री धड़कन
बस एक इनायत की नज़र कर तो दो सरकार
जीना तो था बेकार यहाँ, मौत तो हो साकार !

ज़ालिम तेरे ज़ुल्मों कि ये अब इंतहा तो है
इन रंजिशी नसों में दर्द ही बहा तो है
बस एक मुलाकात ही को, मैं होता बेकरार
इस आख़री एहसान से भी है तुझे इनकार ?
माना भी चलो तुमको ना था मुझसे कभी प्यार
पर झूठ ही कह दो चलो मरने तो दो इक बार

Addled Ads

There are few things in this world which irk me more than those supposedly made-for-the-masses American advertisements which seem to insult my intelligence by being extraordinarily dumb.

They are not the kind of dumb that you see permeating the portals of the world in the guise of under the age of 15 boys who wholeheartedly believe that all that stupid WWF stuff happens for real, all the while managing to convince their dumb parents that they possess a 'serious' opinion about 'real' things. They are not the kind of dumb that expresses itself so proficiently in those teenage girls who regularily manage to shoot beyond 1000 minutes of talk time every month even though they rarely have anything substantial to say and who cannot complete a single sentence consisting of a total of 11 words without using atleast 8 'like's in it. And they are not the kind of dumb which gets personified in those adult men who think that brawn and brashness are the true denominations of manhood and those adult women for whom incessant, almost maniacal self indulgence is the normal way of life. Sir no sir. These ads are bad. They are so bad, you would want to put your head into the working end of the barrel of a 150 mm heavy artillery gun and hope that the soldier operating it is considerate enough to give you the sweet respite of death. These ads are so cheap and mindless, they make even the worst creations of Ed Wood and Karan Johar seem like Operatic masterpieces. Some examples :

Time Warner Cable : 3 guys. 1 dressed as a telephone, 1 as a laptop, 1 as a TV. Trying to hammer in the point that I could get all the three for one low price if I go for TWC. (Ho Ho Ho. That was subtle. Why not just tie those 3 guys in a red ribbon. Then you would be SURE that us fools would REALLY get the point that the 3 come together. You are giving way too much weightage to our pea sized brains here dudes.)

Verizon Wireless : A family of 4 in a shopping mall deciding how to communicate with each other as each one of them is supposedly going to shop at a different place. After deciding that A calls B, B calls C, C....... they finally realize that none of them has a phone. . . . . . Yes!!! its over. Can you believe that ? Not only does it stand for the sheer stupidity which these ads makers have managed to amass, it also manages to shoot off few more working neurons from my already moronized brain, everytime I watch it.

Casino Pauma : A middle age lady: " I won 10000$ ", A balding man : "I won a hummer", An overecstatic asian : "I won 5000$" followed by the directions to Casino Pauma so that I could at once pick up my cell, my keys and a wad of 100$ notes and straightaway rush to the place. Wow! that was easier than I thought. People around the world spend the better parts of their lives trying to figure out how the hell could they increase the sale of their trashbags by 5%. All they had to do really was to get an entirely unconvincing 50 year old and make him blurt out on TV that he likes the trashbags. And ofcourse, the rest of human population forgot to develop beyond the neanderthals, right?

I have too many examples to list here. Rather than boring you, I would sulk in this misery alone :).

Hell currified

Remember the last time when you were at a friend's place for dinner and were served with so bad a dish that you almost wished to have rather taken birth as the chicken on your plate rather than the one who had to eat that chicken. Think of that dish which made you envy the luck of all those 6 billion living people which were not in that room with you and those 100 million dead ones who never had to come face to face with the cruel reality of how bad things could really get. Now multiply the putridness of that dish by the avogadro's number and you will start to get a rough estimate of how screwed-up we managed to make our last culinary experiment.

Yes, I have to say. The world has finally witnessed the nadir of human creativity. Note this day down in your history books for there shall be a day when you or one of your descendents will be asked in an interview, "So what would you consider the most incredibly stupid act of all of humanity". And if, driven by a lack of knowledge, the answer which is blurted out is one of the following : 'Holocaust', or 'Nuclear bomb on Japan' or 'Friends', or 'Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor', I am afraid, but it will be met with a cold, incredulous, almost sympathetic stare. You shall be corrected as: 'Why? don't you remember the 13th of November, 2006 A.D. when Ankit and K2 managed to show the world that everytime anyone had ever thought that things could not go any worse, they had underestimated the genius of the two aforementioned people by a factor of 10'.

To cut a long story short, from a perfectly harmless assortment of Onions, tomatoes, chicken and a few other peripherals, we managed to concoct something so grosely disgusting that its occurance probably lies at minus inifnity on a normally distributed probability curve. The only constructive result that we could boast off from the experiment was probably the fact that the world was freed of two burnt cooking utensils.

It was really an eye opener. One of the few occassions wherein you just have to give in to the force of nature and your sheer helplessness against it.

Thus spoke Bill

"You will find your own ethical dilemmas in all parts of your lives, both personal and professional. We all have different desires and needs, but if we don't discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled. Sooner or later, we are all asked to compromise ourselves and the things we care about. We define ourselves by our actions. With each decision, we tell ourselves and the world who we are. Think about what you want out of this life, and recognize that there are many kinds of success...

...But having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another.

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You'll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you're doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you'll hear about them.

To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble."

- Bill Watterson,
excerpts from "SOME THOUGHTS ON THE REAL WORLD BY ONE WHO GLIMPSED IT AND FLED"
May 20, 1990, Kenyon College Commencement

Intellectual Inertia of the Indian Intelligentsia

It is 9:00 in the night and you are going to have a nice little dinner with your family. You sit down in a comfortable chair and press the red button that sends the television blaring its cacophony at 73 decibles of ear-shredding noise. You hope to be entertained but what you find on the screen is one of the now infamous genre of family conspiracy serials, dished out with ample amounts of glitter and phoney morals and sweet yammering, crying bahus and vixenesque saases and mutely submissive, disgustingly foolish males and plots contrived and impossible enough to send those 5 working neurons in your head into a state of shock induced coma. From then onwards, you assume the role of one of those sub-18 year olds during election times. Nobody cares what you think of the serial. Your family is too disgustingly engrossed in the trash to see that one of their close relatives is about to choke on suffocating mediocrity. And you begin to think, what is wrong with Indian television or more importantly with Indian cultural and artistic expression in general ?

The fact of the matter is that television and movies today constitute a herculean chunk of the artistic facade of any society. Their immense reach far outweighs any other vehicle of cultural expression. Therefore, their content can safely be taken to principally represent the creative quotient of the entire society in general. If this is the case, I am afraid to say, but the country has seldom found itself so devoid of originality of ideas, and the will of creation.

Whereas on one hand the small screen is content at providing airtime to the convoluted, disfigured fantasies of the likes of Ekta kapoor, the silver screen meekly bends down to the whims and fancies of cry-baby directors like Karan Johar and Chopra family. Whereas the small screen blatantly copies every american success story (yes, KBC, Indian laughter challenge and all those reality competitions are shameless copies), imagination and creativity seem to be giving way to obscene vulgarity and violence on the big screen. I am not saying that vulgarity and violence should be wholly abhorred. I am just saying that they should not act as veils to hide the sheer ineptitude of directors at using whatever little grey matter they have been blessed with. I fondly remember the days when a Sunday morning on Doordarshan used to be a worthwhile waiting experience. And I miss the brilliance of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee at weaving a complex interplay of human emotions.

I hardly hate anything more than creations which have to take the support of cheap populist gimmicks to get accepted by the society. Art is a sacred profession. It is so much more personal than technology. Its creation should not be governed by something as vulgar as societal acceptance and money. Sadly, this is what seems to be happening to the entertainment industry in India. Movies and serials try to play into the hands of the college going, big city student populace most of whom think that their last breakup was the worst thing to have hit the society in the last 50 years and who are blessed with stupid enough parents with deep enough pockets to have any kind of discriminatory power anyways. Or they go to the other extreme and try to gain the acceptance of those over-the-middle age parents, who somehow have forgotten what good entertainment used to taste like and have now become numb enough not to raise an eyebrow when an Ekta Kapoor sends any army of intermarried, conniving, glossy and fake actors to throw them into what can only be described as a state of mental anesthesia.

Hats off to those who claim to be the spearheads of Indian imagination. I can only imagine, if the bayonet is so blunt, how ineffective the rifle has become.

Hopeless

ज़िंदगी आज नाउम्मीद थोड़ी कम होती
गर तेरी आँखें उस दिन कुछ नम होतीं

ये सोच के कि तू भी कभी याद करती होगी
मैं तो जीने को तय्यार था
लेकिन उस दिन तेरी मुस्कुराहट में
न संवेदना थी न प्यार था
कुछ कहते कहते ही रुक गया मैं
वरना ज़िंदगी मेरी भी खुश सनम होती
गर तेरी आँखें उस दिन कुछ नम होतीं

इस लिये खड़ा रहा कि
मुड़ के देखोगी एक बार
लिये दिल में एक अनसुनी आह
आँखों में धूल का गुबार
सूखे होठों पे सहमी सी चाह में
झलकती मौत की ज़िंदगी कुछ कम होती
गर तेरी आँखें उस दिन कुछ नम होतीं

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