Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ungodly hour encounter....

As I munched on my biscuits at 4 am, not particularly my favorite snack but nothing seemed good enough in the fridge. Various sitcoms downloaded from the net kept me on my seat rather than mope. I felt the sudden urge to abandon Jerry Seinfeld and his gang after about twenty minutes and decide to head out.

At 4 am things are rather quiet outside, a perfect time to be alone with my thoughts.

The sound of a stone hitting my window wakes me up from my new found euphoria. Startled I open the window to see my buddy, Nick, sneer and yell at me to come down.

"Drat", I said. What could Nick possibly want at this ungodly hour?

Nick was my best friend, and slightly retarded too. He came up with weird ideas at weird times. This time he had something on the same wavelength. Putting on a warmer shirt I stepped out to the cold, drafty night.

"I've got a plan that will blow the bonkers out of Mr. Barnaby" cooed Nick.

"What now Nick, what do you have in your convoluted mind?" I responded.

"Something that will be the icing on the cake, something that we've always wanted to do, something that will teach Mr. Barnaby never to mess with us, something......."

"NICK", I cut in. "Just tell me what is it that you've got in your head, spill it out will you?"

Nick ignored my impatience and said 'We are going to kidnap his pet parakeet'. Apparently Mr. Barnaby adored his pet and it was his only companion.

Mr. Barnaby was our Biology professor and he always favored the bright kids. We were just mediocre according to him. He had no kids himself, no wife and no family he could call his own.

"Nick you've gotta be kidding me, how on earth can we break into his house, let alone kidnap his bird?”

'I've got it all planned, we sneak into his backyard and enter through the back door. I have a pin which will help us disengage that old rickety door of his'.

'You're outta your goddamn mind Nick, you can never get me to go with you'.

'Well, then', said Nick, 'Stay here and be further humiliated by him. Remember when he scolded you for not dissecting that frog and the countless times when he has scolded you for no apparent reason. It's been two long years man, two goddamn years!’

He did have a point, I always loathed Mr. Barnaby, and he was a royal pain in the...

"Dude", Nick interrupted. "You in?”

I don't know what, but I said yes.

The next thing I know is we were approaching Mr. Barnaby's lawn and climbing over the wooden fence.

"Careful now, we don't want the spiteful old man to wake up and find us jaywalking on his backyard" whispered Nick.

"Just hurry up, man, I'm dying with fear here", I confessed.

We reached the backdoor. Nick wasn't kidding when he said that the back door was old. I could probably have knocked it down with a kick, but we decided to use our little pin instead.

"Creaaakkkkk" the door screamed. We held our breath as we entered Mr. Barnaby's house. The backdoor took us to a small kitchen. We tiptoed our way further into the house. Small torches kept us aware of that lay ahead of us. Beads of sweat were now streaming rapidly down my face. I felt the urge to tell Nick that I'd had enough, but we were too far into our plan to back out now.

"Where is that blasted bird?” said Nick loudly almost forgetting that this was supposed to be a secret plan.

"Shut up you spaz", I blurted in a whispering tone. "Let's just get on with it, shall we".

We entered another room which led us to what we believed was Mr. Barnaby's bedroom. Then, we saw the victim of our plan. The bird was sleeping in its cage. We knew we had to get it out of the house with pin drop silence. Nick proceeded to carefully pick the cage up. The bird, to our relief was still asleep.

The beads of sweat were now evaporating, the feeling of all is well was finally there. All we had to do now was to take the bird outside the house. Almost like a flash we heard the sound of a door opening. I and Nick stood still with fear.

Suddenly I heard myself screaming to Nick. "Run Nick, Run. It's Barnaby!”

We ran out, with the bird in hand. I was going to kill Nick. Apparently what Nick forgot to tell me was Mr. Barnaby used to go for late night strolls around his neighborhood twice a week and Nick thought that this night was when he could plan the break in.

We reached an old outhouse and decided to shack up there. We could hear the sound of someone following us all along. All of a sudden a dark silhouette appeared. And it appeared to be nearing us. We hid behind an old patio table. The bird which we had forgotten about was now cawing.

"Nick, do something. The bird will give us away".

Nick took out a Swiss army knife and silenced the bird. I swallowed hard trying not to think what Nick did. The sudden silence scared me beyond my wits. Then in a clear tone I heard Mr. Barnaby yell out our names. We were caught. Grabbing Nick's hand I pulled him up and ran. We ran for what seemed like ages until I reached my house.

Nick split from there and I hurriedly ran to my room, the sound of our stalker's footsteps still echoing in my ears. What I thought was mentally happening appeared to be happening now in real life. Someone was approaching me and shouting my name.

"Andy, Andy” wake up. You have to go to school, come on now, no more excuses. You have a long day ahead".

It was Mom and her voice seemed heavenly. Ah it was all a dream.

I was going to kill Nick anyways. He was very capable of such ideas.

"Two minutes, mom!" I said sleepily. I snuggled under my warm blanket. All is well I whispered to myself.

A sharp feeling jabbed my leg as I turned over to my side. It was a penknife and it was bloody.

This really was going to be a long day….

Saturday, March 27, 2010

2010 is moving real fast....

The year 2010 is moving fast, rapidly seems like a better word. I regret to say at this point of time that in my last semester in an Engineering University, I've accomplished very little in terms of applying my technological know how into practical use.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not as lazy as I may seem. It's just that I have never really tried to get my hands dirty. I consider it too menial a job for a 'soon-to-pass-out' Engineer like me. I guess that's where I've gotten it all wrong.

To quote my mentor, a.k.a my very awesome Dad, "If you'd like to have an expensive racing gloves, you've got to get your hands dirty first".

Somehow I've always interpreted it as "Me = Good (?) Engineer = Hire people to do the dirty work for me".

But from what I've heard, nobody will help you until you help yourself. I've heard that the world outside my safe Campus is not so friendly, and I have to prepare myself. I'd be happy if I knew how to but I don't.

My pass-out seniors are in their own busy world and looks like I have to seek help from my ever helping Parents. Probably even seek shelter, food and clothing from them till I reach a 'mature' age of 25 (Dad, Mom are you listening, don't freak out:-D)

I've tried to get my hands dirty sometimes though, although that may have been when no help/ slave/ victim was around: D

I've repaired the following:

Hub power supply (unsuccessful)
Web Camera circuitry (successful)
Various electrical fittings (mostly successful, sometimes ending with a minor electric shock)
Optical mouse (with the help of a colleague, one my most proud achievements till date)
Replacing the capacitor in my headphones (successful)
Changing the bush in my electric cooler's motor (successful)
Repairing an old water pump (unsuccessful)
Electric water heater (successful)

Although I can't put all this up in my CV, I could say for the least that I'm preparing myself for the tasks which I may have to do soon as part of my Profession.

I hope I'm successful in my endeavors. Wish me Luck.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Summer's wrath is kinder than people's wrath!

Today, I went in search for a 12V pump for my electric cooler which has breathed its last yesterday evening. Once I got it, I frantically assembled it on my own. After all, that’s the minimum that’s expected of a finishing engineer.

Nagpur's 42 degree Celsius makes you want to take things under control rather than let someone do it for you. Seriously, without a hat, sunglasses & some suntan lotion, it's almost like going to war with the Sun God.

Yep!! The great Indian summer is here and it's here to release it full wrath on people of Nagpur..

After my successful tryst with my cooler, I went to a small restaurant called Indian Coffee House that serves excellent egg curry with Indian bread. I reached a cozy corner table and heaved a sigh of relief. Mostly because, the ten minutes drive to this place after the engineering success, sapped me off all my reserve energy.

I couldn't help but lick my plate off its contents within no time.

Moments into finishing off my Ice Tea, a small beggar boy appeared out of nowhere and started begging outside the restaurant's door. He had a plate that seemed to have been used for generations. I knew he was not looking for money because he was looking at the people eat there. He then looked at the manager, who of course was keeping a stern eye on the boy as the boy begged him to give some water. The manager blatantly refused.

Almost like magic the boy looked straight to me out of the thirty odd people sitting in the restaurant and begged me for the water kept on my table.

I beckoned him. He refused. Naturally, he was too scared to even enter the restaurant.

I signaled him and assured him that I'd give him the water. As he drew nearer, I asked for the biggest jug and emptied its contents into the boy's plate. He drank it on the way out, but the manager's aide pushed him out with such gusto that it made me want to give the aide a piece of my mind.

The aide then approached me and said something that shocked me. He said "Sir, Giving these people water is not the issue, the issue is that they come everyday and stand in front of the door and ogle at our patrons, who in turn reprimand us for not taking immediate action."

My mind caught just two words. “These people”.

How cruel are we humans, that we look down upon our own kind?

I was shocked over the aide's reply about how his patrons get upset seeing a poor boy watch them eat, rather than help the boy out.

I came out of the restaurant to see the boy sitting on the pavement. His parched feet lying uneasily on the road, which by the way, was reflecting all of the 42 degrees C of heat. When he saw me, he commented "Sir, please give me something to eat, I'm very hungry."

I'd rather not encourage begging, but this little boy of age 7-8 seemed so helpless.

I fished into my wallet and gave the boy a fifty rupees note. It looked like he'd never seen an amount like that, because his eyes were shining brighter than the sun's rays. I also went and bought him a bottle of water to quench his thirst.

As I was driving back, I realized that it was people's cold and indifferent attitude that made the boy's life seem miserable. Not the great Indian summer.

Friday, March 19, 2010

With the current IPL fever going on and it being the only topic of discussion on the lips on my colleagues. I've decided to give the game of Cricket a dekko, now that my University exams are finally over.

While reading few articles on the net, newspaper and other media sources, I came across a piece of news that seemed interesting.

The article claimed that Adolf Hitler played Cricket!

And not only did he attempt at playing Cricket, the fascist dictator tried giving it a Nazi twist.

This story came to play when a British MP, Oliver Locker Lampson who was also a wartime veteran, right-wing zealot and a fervent admirer of Hitler met a couple of British officers who had been Prisoners of War in Southern Germany during the First World War.

Hitler came to them one fine day and asked if he could watch an eleven of cricket at play so as to become initiated into the mysteries of Britain’s national game.

They welcomed him and told him about the rules of the game. The dictator, having learnt the rules to the game assembled his own team, and challenged the British to a “friendly match”.

The story goes on saying that Hitler’s XI presumably lost to the British, even though they don’t really know which team won. The obvious result thus seems like the British won as Hitler immediately declared the game insufficiently violent for German fascists

Hilter, on the other had ulterior motives on learning the game. He wanted to study it as a possible medium for the training of troops off duty and in times of peace. He also wanted the game to be ‘Nazified’.

He however proposed altering the rules of the game for the benefit of the serious minded Teuton.

He specifically advocated the withdrawal of the use of pads which he claimed was un-manly and thus un-German. He also recommended a bigger, harder & heavier ball.

Hitler wrote mein kampf, I believe one of his inspirations came from his defeat to the British in the game of Cricket.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Prito's musings....

"Haanji Sirji”… Prito screeched amidst the grating noise of the gearbox.

"Damn!cheapskate Nitesh!” he thought of his pan chewing, Laajo-wooing, potbellied owner of the rattletrap that used to pass for a truck about twenty years ago….the rattletrap which Prito now drove ….

“That drunkard Nitesh" spends thousands on lottery tickets but hands me a hundred and twenty rupees for the truck’s maintenance “rakh le yaar” he would go as if Prito could buy the Tata factory with the spare change…

But he had to be polite. Ever since he quit his secure job as a clerk in the garment factory citing ideological differences with his work supervisor, becoming a driver for Jai Mata Di transport brought him more prestige in his native Lakhana than a clerk’s job which paid him twice as much (at least officially). Prito mused for a bit while he screeched up another gear up the Khanki ghat and concluded that the people of Lakhana had an unnatural respect for size.

The villagers were fascinated by Sango who was rumored to be the tallest boy in the entire district. Speaking of size he thought his neighbour Gomti had the largest… ”CLANG!!!” his musings about Gomti were interrupted as he heard the unmistakable noise of a policeman’s lathi clanging on his trucks’ bonnet.

He slammed his brakes…slammed in manner of speaking since the truck didn’t do anything even remotely as urgent instead dissipating speed like a vessel of boiling milk simmering down.

He managed to calm down the juddering and decidedly nervous steering wheel and clambered down. His heart started hammering strangely and he mused again and realized this probably had to do with the bloody arrack in the back of the truck.

His stomach decided to shrink away from his hammering heart and sink down to his knees, which were setting calm beat of their own. He remembered the SP had decided to clamp down on arrack ever since Kaderbhai had decided to stand for elections.

The policeman rushed over with his lathi raised and face set in the kind of mean scowl that policemen are trained to use in the middle of a potentially fatal raid. He stopped and looked over at Prito and glanced with a curious respect at Prito’s left hand. Prito himself sportingly decided to share in the cop’s curiosity and did some glancing himself.

He realized the cellphone was still in his hand, and now that he thought of it, he remembered the burning sensation in his left ear from the tongue lashing Nitesh had given him. “Malik hain ya driver?” the cop murmured in an almost seductive baritone. “he-enn?” Prito murmured nervously, not quite matching the cop’s chocolate-rich tone.

“Aap Malik hain ya driver?” the cop repeated. The ‘aap” triggered off a whole chain of chemical reactions in his body, which calmed the knees and sent his tummy back to its original position. His body seemed to enlarge and steel crept into his tone “Tere se mathlab?”

He almost convulsed as he heard what he had just said. But the cop reacted, in almost a mirror image of his earlier physical change and he seemed to shrink as he said “Aa—aapki gaadi…” Prito decided to seize the moment much as his mother always said he was born to do and replied “haan hain tho? Akkal nahin hain tereko…ghaat pe gaadi roktha hain? Patha nahin hum kiske kaam se jaa rahe hain?”

Prito himself had no idea who he was referring to but decided that calling on a invisible higher power was called for. “phone lagaaoon kya?” he waved the cellphone menacingly.

The cop paled, as much as the madhya pradeshi sun allowed him to, “sirji …one look at you knew you were not a driver..! I was just trying to alert you about the dacoits in Khanki..!”

He clambered regally back into the truck and rested his head on the still-trembling wheel. After a minute, he got up, sent up a silent prayer for Nitesh and his next seven generations. If it weren’t for Nitesh’s suspicious nature, he would have never had the cellphone…he jumped as the phone rang “kaahaan pahuncha hain? Maa ke shaadi pe jaa raha kya?” as the familiar honey dewed tones of Nitesh screeched.

"Vai guru ki kripa hai" Prito muttered....

Life was again back to normal.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dreams do come true.....

It’s a lazy December afternoon and I think I’m having an affair.

No...not one of those if "is-there-or- isn’t-there" kinda nothing attractions.

There definitely is...and an intensely physical one at that. I have no idea how it started to get to this. It’s like most other things of this sort; just a sudden turn of events and no one’s really to blame.

Of course not everyone is going to see it that way.

But let me start from the beginning..

I was introduced to her, ironically enough, through my dad and his warped ideas. And like most things that dad has introduced me to, this one turned out to have out far-reaching consequences but damned if I realized it at the time.

She seemed completely awkward to me at first…on the verge of "un cool". Unfashionably voluptuous, she was loudmouthed and opinionated, but (and I say this from hindsight now) pretty smooth when she wanted to be.

She certainly wasn’t trying to be at her smooth best when I met her, and in a weird sort of way, I think that’s what did it for me in the first place.

In god’s well-intentioned but topsy way of working, she moved into my city and on the ground floor of my hostel within 2 weeks of that. .. She'd had it tough, I guessed, and she looked completely so out of place that I had to rescue her.

She condescended to yield to my tentative offer of helping her out. I introduced her enthusiastically to my friends, my colleagues, with unsurprisingly little success. She just wasn't the bubbly sophisticate they were used to. Well, one thing led to another, and we started spending a lot of time together.

She seemed to have some work in places close to my college, and we started commuting together – you know how it is –you slip into a routine like that where you wake up and go to class along with someone, and soon you find yourself waking up and going to class because of her.

Things started going kind of outta control after that, and I started dreaming about her, started buying her new stuff so she could look good, feel better about herself and fit into my life. I guess things were always simmering between us and we entered the zone without really meaning to.

It really hit me today how far we’d gone when I realized I didn’t care who knew about us. At 2 pm on an overcast January afternoon, in the parking lot of our admin building. Our meeting in quite sometime due to my hectic assignments and scheduled Mumbai trip (which I cut short to get back to her).

Slipping my hand into hers and drawing her close seemed like what we were meant for..she responded immediately…..unusual for her….but she seemed like she was waiting for me..her body warm, and her curves waiting to draw me to her.

We held each other like that ..the only sounds being her gentle gasps, and my own head rushing so loud that I couldn’t..didnt want to hear anything else..I held her close…and I wanted to hear her breathe all day long…

Its been an hour since I got back…am lying back on my bed…my body still aching pleasantly…still throbbing from our intense time together..the smell of her on me and ….traces of her on every part of me……and in my head thinking…

”what the hell am I doing?” …and as I started to write this… my sincere attempt at least, I guess….

I am thinking about all of you….all of you in your snug lives... who’ll read this..and am thinking that she might be just a 180cc Bajaj Pulsar motorbike to all of you…

But she’ll always be a woman to me….

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mental stimulation for age reversal....

Neurobiologists are providing the first visual evidence that learning promotes brain health and, therefore, that mental stimulation could limit the debilitating effects of aging on memory and the mind.

Using a novel visualization technique they devised to study memory, a research team found that everyday forms of learning animate neuron receptors that help keep brain cells functioning at optimum levels.

These receptors are activated by a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF); which facilitates the growth and differentiation of the connections responsible for communication among neurons.

BDNF is the key in the formation of memories.

The findings confirm a critical relationship between learning and brain growth and point to ways we can amplify that relationship through possible future treatments.

In addition to discovering that brain activity sets off BDNF signaling at the sites where neurons develop, researchers determined that this process is linked to learning-related brain rhythms, called theta rhythms, vital to the encoding of new memories.

Theta rhythms involve numerous neurons firing synchronously at a rate of three to eight times per second. These rhythms have been associated with long-term potentiation, a cellular mechanism underlying learning and memory.

In rodent studies, the team found that both unsupervised learning and artificial application of theta rhythms triggered BDNF signaling at memory creation sites.

This relationship has implications for maintaining good brain health and there is evidence that theta rhythms weaken as we age, and these discoveries suggest that this can result in memory impairment.

On the other hand, staying mentally active as we age can keep neuronal BDNF signaling at a constant rate, which may limit memory and cognitive decline.

Researchers are now exploring whether learning-induced growth signals decrease with age and, if so, whether this can be reversed with a new family of experimental drugs.