Archive for January, 2011

R2Iyyo: Bin Gal U Ruined

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2011 by Glorfindel

And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Ted Stevens was prescient. Only those who have been deprived of the Internets for a week can appreciate how impossible life is without this intravenous drip of information. I can live without dining tables, televisions, microwaves, sofas and even my wife and kids. But give me Wi(red)Fi or give me death. The whole process of constructing the web at home is exactly like traversing a series of tubes. Never before have I had to call person after person, each claiming allegiance to AirTel, in order to (a) determine if the neighbourhood had a valid connection, (b) arrange a seemingly clandestine appointment to sign up for a plan AND ensure that another appointment would kinda-sorta be made by hurried, muffled telephone calls in the near future, (c) coordinate with technicians to finally secure the connection and forcing oneself to maintain dignity after it was established instead of breaking out into song and chasing them around trees laced with canine pee. So there you have it, endless tubes with an enormous amount of material stuffed into them separate man from beast. Ted Stevens, a posthumous Muad’Dib. The point is basically this: Stewart/Colbert have re-entered my life and the world looks like Meg Ryan’s Sleepless-in-Seattle face once again.

Which brings me to the cause of many a sleepless night in my own recent past. Even before shifting to Blore, I had nightmares about searching for apartments in this totally strange place. Boston and Boulder weren’t even in the same league, since I spent a few hours in each, saw 4 flats, settled on one and jetted out in style the next morning. Case closed. The same task grew more daunting every day in Blore what with rental opportunities petering out in the middle of the month and owners having strange fetishes about not leasing to bachelors. That was the first question that both brokers and owners fired my way: Sir, are you a family man or are you single? Singleness spells doom. Apparently, bachelors are stereotyped as party animals and are strangely addicted to having their friends move in with them after signing the lease. I was targeting this joint called AECS Layout, since it was ideally placed in terms of access to work and shopping facilities. However, it was also filled with filled apartments and landlords who had to be convinced and cajoled that this bachelor was not scum, did not drink/smoke, was a veggie, would have his mother visit him frequently and would not populate his rooms with terror babies just waiting to take over the country in the immediate future, give or take 25 years. The most controversial question was this: Do you plan on getting married soon? The cheesiest answer was this: I just started my job and would like to devote my life to it before making such [ill-fated] decisions. But one thing is for sure: I would have been lost without a broker, and it’s definitely recommended to play the field with them too. Committing to one might mean missing out on other juicy bites, since they seem to have location-specific intel. Plus, they know their way around the gullies and mohallas a hell of a lot better than newbies.

No one wants a completely empty apartment. Space has to be occupied by the flotsam of modern life, which ultimately has to be ordered off the shelf from the nearest mall. This leads to logistical issues of the type mentioned in the beginning and the fact that the world sees strange men with large packages entering the flat at odd hours, performing arcane services and leaving with slightly bulging wallets. After a week of such questionable activities, only a measly gas cylinder is required to complete me kitchen, Matey. Fortunately, the owner – old gentleman who lives above and therefore has a ring-side view of the occurrences below – has accepted my choice of lifestyle for now and will hopefully not spring a bridal exhibition on someone who is currently satiated with structures of all shapes, sizes, desired qualities and prices.

Neutered in New York

Posted in travel on January 2, 2011 by thetobacconist

Well not really.

But I might as well be.

—xxx—

I enjoy symmetry.

I was in New York in December 2004. I was just beginning at grad school and was clueless of the 6 years of vacillating fortunes that lay ahead. I’ve returned to the city in this penultimate semester at grad school. If one were to bookend a stay in grad school, you could do a lot worse than NYC. My last visit wasn’t particularly memorable. This one in contrast has been brilliant. And it is because of the two things, that I believe, make New York awesome: food and people.

To say New Yorkers are blessed in their choice for food, is an understatement. In the last 3 days I’ve sampled, Peruvian (ceviche, lomos saltado, roast chicken), Turkish (kofte), Spanish (bbq ribs tapas), Italian (delicious tiramisu), Jewish (sturgeon @ Barney Greengrass), Greek (Sheep’s Milk Dumpling + Spicy Sausage), Japanese (sushi) and good home-cooked Indian food (korma+palak-paneer+parathas). Uncharacteristically, I accomplished most of this whilst walking around Manhattan, as opposed to resorting to cabs and the subway.

Seriously.

I walked.

And not just to the refrigerator and back.

It helps to have friends like N. in NY. His encyclopedic knowledge and enthusiasm about everything Manhattan, which on most other occasions would make you want to strangle him, has made this trip just that much more special. N. loves Manhattan. He has a lovely apartment by Central Park. His extravagance (he is dropping close to $3K on rent) means poor grad student peeps like me can enjoy the city like it is meant to be. He is an excellent companion when wandering aimlessly around the city. I feel given a few more years in the city, he might just become an local institution for all of our Pilani folk to visit.

—xxx—

We watched ‘True Grit’ today.

Nicely made movie. But I felt it didn’t need to be made. The Coen brothers talent could’ve been better used in bringing fresher material to life, rather than recycling westerns from the 60’s. The movie doesn’t add anything substantial to the original.

Also, did you know the girl is just Matt Damon in drag. Damn, isn’t he a good actor!

—xxx—

Scarlett Johansson divorced The Douche (aka Ryan Reynolds), over Christmas.

Just as I was beginning to celebrate the liberation of the twins, life kicked me in the nuts.

Natalie Portman is pregnant, they tell me.

<Older NY Jewish Lady Voice> What are you going to do? </Older NY Jewish Lady Voice>

What’s probably more disappointing is that she’s in a movie with Ashton Kutcher! This is where careers go to die.

How the fuck do you follow this:

with:

Fuck you Hollywood!

—xxx—

BTW, permission granted to nut-kick if I agree to go stag to another club on New Year’s eve. In the scale of dumb ideas, this has to rank up there with taking time to think up a scale for dumb ideas.

So NYE 2011, if you spot me outside a club, refusing to bribe the bouncer to get in, after having bought $140 tickets, for a night of watered-down booze and hour-long waits at coat-check, only to have the guy in front of you try to take on a bouncer 3-times his size and fail miserably, and then realize some sneaky fucks wiggled past you while you were helping keep an angry black dude from ripping a puny desi idiot a new one, just wind up … and aim low.

I had it coming.

And now with Natalie Portman popping another man’s seed, what good are they anyway?

—xxx—

Natalie Portman.

Fuck.

—xxx—

And with this ends my token post for the year.
Have yourselves a wonderful 2011.

Be kind to grad students.

Take it away Penelope:

R2Iyyo: Be Knighted or Be Damed

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2011 by Glorfindel

Second installment of this potentially limitless series. I’m in the office on New Year’s Saturday for one reason alone: to avail of the net connection read papers. Since I’ve been staring at them all day and am now feeling the distinct manifestations of high jinks in the larynx (the layman’s “sore throat”), the need to blog assumes precedence despite the fact that I’m probably flouting a million rules by doing so. Nevertheless, I’ve seen folks surreptitiously glancing at ESPN CricInfo to follow some game called “Cricket” (seems to be really popular with the locals) so I have leverage in case of capture.

The last post dealt with the jump through hyperspace and the next will involve the dicey game of apartment hunting – a classic predator-prey situation where the roles are pretty much guessable. This little segue was inspired by all the salutations that I’ve been receiving from strangers which highlight my age and social standing (!) like no other. The “Sir” is quite ubiquitous, especially when doormen let you through with “Good morning Sir!” or janitors greet you with “Happy New Year Sir!” or women holler “Arrest this man Sir!” and “Sirves you right, you lewd jackass!” etc. etc. I’ve been hailed as such on certain occasions in the States but it never felt so genuine. So, to imbibe these good manners, I’ve taken to reciprocating the sentiment. Now there are “Sirs” flying all over the place in my immediate vicinity – the genesis of a truly classless and anonymous microsociety.

While the “Sir” is marginally tolerable, “Uncle” is downright jarring. This was from a kid in an apartment complex where I was listlessly waiting for a flat to be exhibited. “Uncle, this one is number 101,” was politely phrased and helpful information but mentally scarring. This tot had in all likelihood escaped the Ninny Nineties when something happened somewhere to someone. Remember that/those/then? Awesome stuff. Anyway, the point is that I’m apparently on my deathbed and my murky past is beginning to haunt me in hot flashes. I wasn’t kidding about the whole hyperspace-jump affair.

Oh, and the Ph.D. is meaningless. You’re either in a sea of similarly schooled fish or among people who don’t give a hoot. Case in point, no one gets up for you in local buses or allows you to travel free of charge in return for the obvious benefit to society that you represent. Mini-shorted women on Brigade (yes, at least 2 glimpses caught to date…India shinning) don’t swoon over you and gloriously ditch the slabs of beef in their company. 6 years of being cryogenically frozen and you emerge with the street being smarter than you. Existential angst, check.