Friday, August 31, 2007

Cataloguing my personal library

It was not without a great deal of sadness that I told Motee about my Mom's latest declaration - "Thou shalt not buy any more books". And the reason is very simple, there ain't no more space in my room to keep books !!

It isn't as if my room resembles the grand hall of the National Library. It's just that the sweet and charming book-shelf above my erstwhile study table ("erstwhile", since there's very little studying happening nowadays and of course, there's the PC on top of the desk as well, leaving very little space for desk jobs) has absolutely no space to accommodate any more books. And because of this, of late, most of my books were being piled one on top of another.

This obviously led to a very frustrating time as a bibliophile. It is extremely irritating when one cannot keep track of all the books that one has at his disposal.

So today evening, I set out to at least iron out my troubles as far as cataloguing my books was concerned. I did the most obvious thing any b-schooler would've done...I Googled. And although the scientific methods of Dewey and the Library of Congress mentioned in the comments space of this page proved to be much more than what I needed for the handful of books that I have, the range of comments and the various manners of cataloguing books (both scientific and the not so scientific) did help me in coming up with a strategy, keeping in mind the limited space resource that I have.

I proceeded to lay out all my books on the bed and as I separated the fiction from the non-fiction ones, I entered the names of the books and the respective authors into a spreadsheet on my laptop. Once this was done, I arranged my non-fiction books into categories such as 'business', 'philosophy', 'religion', 'cinema' etc. As for the fiction books, I decided I didn't want to get into anything fancy right now and just arrange them in alphabetical order, first by the name of the author and then by the name of the books.

Two and a half hours after I started this labour of love, I had achieved quite a few things.

1) Most of my books have been neatly arranged in the same book-shelf that I, not so long ago, thought incapable of holding as many books.

2) I have been able to separate the "books" from the old text-books (reminders of my school life) and the various editions of the Readers' Digest.

3) A 'database' of books has now been created which shall help me in keeping me informed of all the books that I have and those which I have lent out to friends.

4) The greatest reward for cataloguing my books has been that now I have a fair idea of the next few books that I want to buy. For instance, I realized that I have very few books on cinema and cricket. Also, there are a lot many more classics that I want to read.

All in all, the back-breaking exercise seems to have paid off. At the end of the day, I'm a happy bibliophile.

Now, if only I could figure out a way to convince Mum that I should buy more books. Hmm...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tata Crucible Quiz 2007 at Kolkata

On a day when I’m dead tired, I don’t know what it is that is keeping me awake. Perhaps it is because I am just so excited going over and over the gifts and merchandise that I won at the Kolkata edition of the Annual Tata Crucible Quiz.

Yes, you heard that right. An individual like me who must’ve set some sort of a record for not having browsed through a pink paper or a business magazine in the last few months actually managed to intelligently *ahem* guess my way through a couple of rounds of a tough quizzing contest.

It all began a few weeks ago when Rahul, a colleague at work, brought to my notice that the Tata Crucible Quiz was about to be held in the city. The plan was very simple. We two would put on our best Sunday clothes and answer as many questions as we knew (or, as we thought we knew).

Come today afternoon, our team managed to answer quite a few questions (11 or 12 out of the 25 asked) in the preliminary round and were pleasantly surprised to find that we had qualified as one of the 6 top teams for the regional finals.

Once on stage, however, the nerves set in. We let a couple of questions go past us, only to find out later that our guesses would’ve been correct. Darn!!!

Yet, the indomitable spirit of the heroes within refused to give in without a fight. We punched our way right back into the quiz with a couple of rapid answers in the last round, only to stop an agonizing 5 points behind the runners-up.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we got our share of the booty, and I was mighty pleased I didn’t sleep this Sunday afternoon away. What’s more, the compilation of speeches and letters of JRD Tata is a wonderful gift and I’m going to cherish the leather-bound books for a long, long time (not to mention the other cool stuff that I got, including a 1GB pen-drive and a travel bag. I initially didn't plan on mentioning the spoils of the day, but hey, it's not everyday that you get to do well in a quiz, do you?)

(Me and Rahul Srigyan cherishing the moments of The Tata Crucible Quiz 2007)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Subtraction by carry-over method

On Wednesday, I met up with my sister for a cup of coffee at the Barista outlet on Camac Street. The last time I met her, she still looked like a kid. Somehow, this time she seemed more mature. On my saying so, she just smiled and told me that it wasn’t maturity that was showing on her face, it was just that she had aged considerably since the last time we met.

Well documented references to emotional outbursts of the female species on uncomplimentary remarks about beauty and ageing started shooting around my head. In a classic reference to the movie 300, I told myself “Choose your next words carefully, for they may well be your last.”

Fortunately, the crisis was past even as I gulped and thankfully noted the absence of ancient wells which looked more like holes in the ground. My sister just looked at me and said, “This is because of the job that I’ve taken up.”

“Hey,” I said. “How tough could it be to teach mathematics to children of classes 1, 2 and 3?”

Turns out, its quite a handful. Apparently, the laws of subtraction by carry-over method are confusing to the simplified world of kids. My sister proceeded to fill me in on how she managed to break down the task and first involve the kids in practicing the subtraction by carry-over method for 2-digit numbers and then gently progress to the demonic 3-digit numbers.

And it is not as if the kids are without their share of naughtiness. “I get eve-teased by 8 year olds,” my sis giggled. On the recently conducted Independence Day festivities, 5 or 6 of these Lilliputians surrounded my sis and started going around in circles, shouting their young throats dry while singing “Nanna munna raahi hoon…”; a song my sister had taught them only a couple of days ago.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sleeping Woes

I’ve often wondered what the correct method of sleeping is. It might seem to be the simplest thing to do, but then again, there can be so many complications.

First of all, there is the whole issue of which position to lie down in. There is the famous Baba Ramdev promoted manner of lying down on the left side of the body, with your knees slightly bent. Others say that at the time of sleeping, there should be no pressure applied on the stomach, and hence the best position to sleep in is on your back. Then there are others, like me, who don’t give a care to what the world says and just collapse on the bed when going off to sleep and hence, spend the night lying on the stomach. In fact, most of the times, when I wake up in the morning, I’m usually in the classic ‘dead man’s pose’, my hand and legs spread out, as if waiting for a detective to come and draw a chalk-line around the outline of my body.

Then there is the issue of the duration of sleep. Some say that 6 hours of sleep is the ideal amount. The latest issue of a leading national magazine says experts recommend 8 hours of sleep, failing which the body tends to accumulate ‘lost sleeping hours’, thereby having an irritated nervous system. Tell that to Chanakya, who advised that a king should sleep only for 4 hours each night.

A related issue is the hour at which one should go off to sleep. You see, if one wishes to wake up each morning at 6 (given that the individual is a normal working guy who wishes to reach office by 9), then in order to have completed 8 hours of sleep, he needs to go off to sleep each night at 10. Now, given the lifestyle led by most people that I know, not to mention myself, going off to sleep at 10 is an extremely optimistic notion. But, according to the coaching manual of Charles Atlas, the famous bodybuilder, there ain’t nothing better than going off to sleep at 10. In fact, he goes so far as to say that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth twice as much as every hour slept after midnight. Hmm…

And now, the most important issue to be tackled; the last thoughts before you go off to sleep.

It is surprising how few people I know who actually make it a point to say their prayers in bed before turning in for the night. The most famous image that comes to mind is, of course, that of Dennis ‘The Menace’ Mitchell saying his innocent and full of boyish-mischief prayers.

Another interesting idea came to be a few nights ago when I received a SMS from a friend. We had met up earlier in the day and the meeting had been full of the usual childish efforts of getting one-up on the other, as is the norm when you meet up with childhood friends. Anyway, she messaged me to say that she wanted to apologize for any harsh words she might have said to me during our banter. After mildly scolding her for even thinking she might have offended me, I asked her what made her think about the incident at that unearthly hour. She said she was about to go off to sleep and was just recalling the day’s events before nodding off. “Now that’s a healthy habit,” I said to myself.

And finally, something that I discovered about sleep just yesterday. For some time now, there has been an unpleasant eventuality that I have been avoiding. Yet, in a very strange way, I want the eventuality to occur. I know the incident, the eventuality, if it were to happen would definitely cause me a lot of heartburn and pain. But, being the illogical person that I am (at times), I want the eventuality to happen as I have a nagging feeling that it might just be best for me to get over it.

So, last night, just as I lay down in my bed to go off to sleep, I began to wonder how it would be if the eventuality were to actually happen. Call it a ‘dry run’ if you will, but I could feel the emotions, the pain and the reactions that I would feel if I were to go through the happening. What the most curious part about this is that I don’t recall when I drifted off to sleep. And when I did wake up today morning, I felt that I’d slept the most sound and deep sleep that I’ve slept in over a year now.

Treacherous thoughts, I know. But then, hey, that’s me.

Chak de, yaar. Too much of this post. India has posted 664 at the Oval and is in a commanding position. I’d better head back to the television to see England’s response. Heck, they’re already four wickets down…

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2nd Anniversary: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLOG

Two years ago, on this very date, late at night, I had set out to finish an Organisational Behavior (OB) project that had been set by the faculty at my b-school. As it happened, earlier in the day, the marketing faculty had introduced us to the world of blogs. Curious, I logged on to the Net and registered myself on Blogger.

What has resulted since then have been 2 years and nearly 200 posts (this one is post number 196) of an outpouring of outright honesty from yours truly.

A very B-I-G thank you to all the readers of this blog and those who leave a comment back here. Each comment is special, since each comment tells me that my words have had some impact somewhere and some individual has thought it worthwhile to interact and share their own ideas.


And of course, HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear blog. You've been a wonderful friend.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Man is not judged on the basis of what he has inherited - physically, mentally or spiritually. It is how much he has moved ahead given his set of circumstances that determine his place of standing among fellow human beings. The cosmos asks not what your forefathers left you - what they left you was of their own making, their karma.

What have you achieved?

Have you, with the loser's backbone, decided to sit in a corner and mope about how unfair life has been to you, even as the world around you passes by laughing, or have you been a man in the truest sense of the word, picked up your belongings, stood up tall and addressed the world thus, "I shall make my own destiny."

Of course there will be difficulties. Naysayers abound will doubt your very reason to exist, people will mock and laugh at you, at your weakling-like efforts to stand up. It is for you to show the world that the small steps you take towards shaping your future are not going to be enfeebled with thoughts of self-doubt, but are only the precursor to earth-trembling footsteps of a giant.

"Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached!"

Saturday, August 04, 2007

El Mariachi (1992)

Robert Rodriguez’s first film in his ‘Mariachi trilogy’, ‘El Mariachi’ was a great hit when released with appropriate fanfare in the US. However, the film left me disappointed.

The film is about a wandering musician, a wandering Mariachi, who reaches a town in search of a job. Unfortunately for him, the local don’s men are on the lookout for a gangster whose appearance is the same as that of our mariachi’s; dressed in black and carrying a guitar case. There is only one difference between the two, the gangster’s guitar case opens to reveal guns and knives instead of a harmless guitar.

Caught in the middle of a case of mistaken identity, our hero seeks shelter at a local bar. Here, he strums the strings of his guitar as well as the strings of the heart of the girl who runs the bar. His time, however, finally runs out and through tragic consequences all three (the hero, the bar-girl and the gangster) end up at the don’s hideout.

The film disappoints because of the way in which it is shot. The low-budget that went into its production is evident everywhere throughout the film. The sequences where the characters in the film start moving in fast-forward mode are disappointingly hilarious. The scene where the hero manages to get two gangsters to shoot at each other seems like right out of a Hindi action film of the early 90s.

Another drawback is the very simple question as to why the don couldn’t describe to his men the gangster who is out to seek revenge? The gangster is fat and dons a moustache, much different from a tidy and ‘chocolate-hero’ Mariachi.

However, the manner in which the film ends is cool. The turtle on the highway, both at the opening and at the closing of the film is an indicator of the class of the director-scriptwriter.

All in all, this is a time-pass film. At least, you can have claimed to have watched the predecessor to ‘Desperado’ and ‘Once Upon A Time In Mexico’, the other two films in the ‘Mariachi trilogy’.

Top 5 reasons to stay single

1. You are not woken up on lazy Saturday mornings by your girlfriend's phone call. You are not compelled to jump out of bed, hit the shower, have a hasty breakfast that Mom has prepared, take a cab and reach a cafe 2 kms away (all of this in 20 minutes in order to avoid confrontation with Madame), just to have “where things are headed between us" chat over a 40 buck cappuccino.

2. When you receive your salary, you just look at the entire amount and know that you can spend all of it on all the crazy stuff that you always wanted to spend on: iPod, a 320GB external hard disk, hi-speed modem, clothes (of your liking), books, paragliding, rock climbing, etc.

3. You can walk into any mall without worrying about bumping into relatives of either party; relatives who flash that ‘gotcha’ smile and relish at the thought of adding sugar and spice and narrating the chance meeting to your parents.

4. On weekend evenings, all you have to do is sigh and smile to yourself at all the quality time that you have to yourself. You can either immerse yourself in a well chosen book or borrow the DVD of that western that you always wanted to see but could never watch (‘coz she could never appreciate “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in any case).

5. You can drink yourself to your heart's content without worrying about how you'll defend yourself in the next 48 hours. Yes, yes, I do agree drinking too much is bad, but the occasional drink never did anybody any harm. What is harmful is the “I told you not to drink” lecture sessions that follow.