Early morning in Old Manali – spotted three travellers walking by our hotel, next to Manaslu river.
- You start thinking in lists.
- You are obsessed with SEO-friendly titles.
- You insist that you have collected all possible wisdom related to any topic in 15-20 points.
- You insist that this wisdom is not peculiar to your personal experience, but universal for everyone who has been bombarded with the link to your list on Facebook.
- You get bored with photographs that aren’t looped animations.
- Every thing from the 90s becomes a subject of a potential article.
- You spend days on YouTube looking for videos you can pass on in an article to be shared. Who cares about original content?
- When you come across animal pictures, you start counting if you’ve collected 10 of them already.
- One web page doesn’t seem large enough to contain 10 points at once.
जब कभी किसी गली या सड़क से गुज़रता हूं, ख़ुद को वहाँ के घरों की खिड़कियों से अंदर झाँकता हुआ पाता हूँ.
अंदर क्या दिखता है?
क्या ही तो दिखता होगा साहब. मैं हूँ ज़मीन पर, और देख रहा हूँ पहली-दूसरी मंज़िल के कमरों में.
दिखते हैं, बल्ब, ट्यूबलाइट, पंखे, छत, दीवार, मचानों पर रखे सूटकेस और दीवारों के रंग.
इन्हीं सब को देखते-देखते मैं गढ़ता हूँ एक दुनिया, कुछ ज़िंदगियाँ, उस घर के बाशिंदों की.
क्या बच्चों को पढ़ने के लिये खाने की मेज़ पर कोहनियाँ टिका कर बैठना होता है? या बिस्तर पर ही पालथी मारकर बैठते हैं, या टीवी के सामने ही?
जब पापा घर आते हैं, तो क्या घंटी बजाते हैं? या ख़ुद की चाबी से ख़ुद ही दरवाज़ा खोल लेते हैं? उनके आने की आवाज़ से क्या बच्चे उछल कर दरवाज़े की ओर लपकते हैं, या कोई पालतू कुत्ता है जो उनपर लपकने को तैयार बैठा है, या सभी कोई मैच ही देख रहे होते हैं, और कहते हैं, रोज़ तो आते हैं, नया क्या है?
खाने की ख़ुशबू क्या घर के कोने-कोने में जाती है, या माँ को बार-बार चिल्लाना पड़ता है, कि खाना लग गया है, आओ जल्दी?
क्या इस घर में बिजली गुल होती है? और होती है, तो कितनी मोमबत्तियाँ जलाई जाती हैं? एक ही जिसके इर्द-गिर्द पढ़ाई, सब्ज़ी काटना, कशीदाकारी सब होता है, या हर कमरे को अलग बत्ती मिलती है. या फिर इन्वर्टर जैसा कोई साधन है घर में, जिससे ये ही पता न चले कि बिजली रानी रूठी हैं?
इस घर में कुत्ते की प्यारी सी दुम हिलती है जब दूध से भरा कटोरा उसके सामने रखा जाता है, या एक बिल्ली का बच्चा है, जो डिब्बों में अपनी एक दुनिया बना लेता है, और उन्हें ही अपना क़िला मान प्रहरी सा उनकी रखवाली करता है? या फिर यहाँ एक शीशे का हौदा है, जिसमें सुंदर-सुंदर नन्ही-नन्ही मछलियाँ सारा दिन अथक तैरती रहती हैं, या एक पिंजरा है, जिसमें चिड़ियां चूं-चूं-चीं-चीं करते-करते पिंजरे के इस तार से उस तार पर फुदकती-बैठती हैं?
इस घर में सोते वक़्त बच्चों को कहानी कौन सुनाता है? नानी, दादी, माँ, या पापा? या बच्चे इतने सयाने हैं कि ख़ुद ही टीवी पर देखा दिन भर का हाल बड़ों को सुनाते हैं?
शाम को बैठक जमती है या नहीं, जिसमें छुटकी नयी साइकिल लेने की फरमाइश करती है, और मुन्ना ट्रेकिंग ट्रिप पे जाने की ज़िद करता है? और ये सब सुनकर माँ-पापा उन्हें डपटते हैं, या ये कहते हैं, कि देखेंगे, अच्छे नंबर लाओ पहले?
कोई है इस घर में जो सचिन बनने के सपने देखता है, या कोई है जिसे डांसर बनने की धुन सवार है? या कि सब सपने बाद में, पहले पढ़ाई करो, ये सब करने को ज़िंदगी पड़ी है की नसीहत मिलती है उन्हें?
ऐसे ही कितना कुछ सोचता हूँ, जब भी किसी खिड़की के पास से गुज़रता हूँ. दस-पंद्रह सेकंड को एक नयी दुनिया, एक कोई और ज़िंदगी सोचता हूँ. शायद कल्पना करता हूँ उस सब की जो मैंने नहीं भोगा, या उस सब को याद करता हूँ, जो मेरा हर रोज़ हुआ करता था, और आज यादों में कहीं छुपा पड़ा है.
चलिये अब अगली खिड़की पर, दीवारें पीली हैं, और अलमारी के ऊपर शायद कुछ डब्बे रखे हैं, और पंखा धीमे-धीमे चल रहा है…
जैसे आप अपनी ज़िंदगी जी रहे होते हैं, और भरसक कोशिश करते हैं, कि जो जीवन में करणीय है वह करते रहें, वैसे ही सोने की कोशिश कर रहा हूँ, क्योंकि अब रात का समय है, सोना चाहिये।
और जैसे आम ज़िंदगी में ‘समाज’ कभी कान के पास भिनभिनाता कर तंग करता है, कभी इधर, कभी उधर दंश मारकर उड़ जाता है, और मोटे तौर पर हमारा ख़ून चूसता है, ये बेचारे मच्छर भी वही करते हैं।
और जैसे ‘समाज’ कोई एक इंसान नहीं होता, एक बेनाम, faceless mass होता है, मच्छर की भी individual पहचान कहाँ होती है? उन्हें भी हम बस मच्छर ही कहते हैं, मसलन ‘मच्छर ने काटा’, जैसे ‘लोग कह रहे थे’।
आजतक हमें कोई ये समझा नहीं पाया कि भगवान ने मच्छर बनाये क्यों. हमारा faceless वाला समाज क्यों exist करता है, ये बात भी कभी पल्ले नहीं पड़ी.
और जैसे ज़िंदगी में आप समाज को नज़रअंदाज़ करने की भरसक चेष्टा करते हैं, लेकिन समाज पूरी बेशर्मी के साथ लगा हुआ होता है, खून चूसने, कान के आसपास भिनभिनाने, और आपको मोटे तौर पर तंग करने में, वैसे ही मैंने खूब चेष्टा की, कि नींद के साथ पूरी दोस्ती करूँ, मच्छरों को नज़रअंदाज़ करूँ, पर ये कमबख़्त डटे हुए हैं, जहाँ-तहाँ काटते हुए, इस बात का पूरा इंतज़ाम करते हुए, कि मैं और भले कुछ कर लूँ, पर सो न पाऊँ, और सुबह ऐसे कहूँ, कि ‘यार मच्छरों ने सोने नहीं दिया’, जैसे अक्सर कहा जाता है, ‘समाज के सामने मुँह दिखाने लायक तो रहना चाहिये (यानि अपनी न करो, सबकी करो)’।
और जैसे हम ज़िदगी में ज़रूरी चीज़ें बाजू में रखकर समाज का क्रिटीक लिखने बैठ जाते हैं, वैसे ही मैं भी मच्छर के दंश की पीड़ावश सोना भूलकर ये अनाप-शनाप लिखने बैठ गया हूँ।
Disclaimer: मच्छर-गण क्षमा करें, आपकी ‘लोगों’ से तुलना कर दी है। आधी नींद में ऐसा ही कुछ लिख पाता हूँ। इसकी ज़िम्मेदारी आप ही की है। और जैसे समाज को कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता कि आप उनके बारे में क्या सोचते-बोलते हैं, वैसे ही मुझे भरोसा है मच्छर भी मेरा लिखा कुछ नहीं पढ़ेंगे।
(Image courtesy: www.noeticart.com)
This is a list I started writing a few years ago. Finally I realised that “ship it” is the best policy in such posts. So here goes. Last few points added today itself. To keep the post up-to-date. You’re welcome to add more in the comments.
- Step 1: Buy a camera.
SLR. Instant professional!
If not an SLR, then any
prosumerbridge. Because it’s so good (read smart purchase), who needs an SLR?
If not these, then a Point & Shoot. Instant road to underprivileged artist-dom.
If not a P&S, then use your mobile phone. Ditto.
- Post all your pictures, either never opened in any software at all, or post-processed with heavy Warhol-like effects, or heavy faux HDR effects, into an album called ‘random’, ‘the world thru ma eyez’, ‘ma work’.
- Big copyright marks are a must. Your name, logo or URL should be very small. The © should be taking up the maximum area. How else would the image thief know that he should not ©opy it?
- Thick borders. Extra points for double borders. Bonus points for a thick white border around the black border. Anything to make it look like an old-style wood-framed picture.
- And the image title, and your copyright mark just outside the frame, in
Comic Sans PapyrusMonotype Corsiva.
- Visit all major online photography forums, and create a new discussion thread entitled ‘Please take a look’. You lose points if you give away what kind of photography you are showcasing.
- Post a link to your entire album(s). Make sure the album(s) do not adhere to any one or two genres. They must contain everything from a street dog, to a barber in his shop, to a
closeupmacro of a petunia, to a lit cigarette.
- Don’t ask for feedback on any particular picture. Superspecialization is for insects, remember?
- Ask them to ‘go thru your work’ and give feedback (read ‘appreciate my inborn talent to the moon’).
- If you’ve ‘snapped’ your ‘work’ using a mobile phone camera, mention that with an apology, expecting sympathetic comments. After all, poor you are fighting all those rich mofos with expensive SLRs and still clicking such ‘ossum work’. Two more points on your report card for showcasing poverty.
- But the moment someone offers a suggestion get defensive. Your work is ‘ossum’ by itself. You don’t need to improve. Or get a better camera or lens. It’s the world that needs to wrap its heads around your talent. Because you’re ‘ossum’. Your college friends said it.
- Either describe the ‘thot’ behind the picture in a paragraph that’s longer than War & Peace, or don’t say anything. Let the viewer wonder if it’s a single shoe flowing in the river or a crow. Because either you want the viewer to appreciate all the thoughts you made up when you sat down to look through the pictures and found this half-decent shot, or your art must be that brilliant that it defies explanation.
- Mobile phones > SLR. Anyday.
- Emulate the French photographers from 50 years ago with Leicas. Using your smartphone. Same size, almost. Same weight, almost. And there are apps that can make your pics look like they’re 50 years old.
- Filters! Filters!! Some more Filters!!!
While reading Jeff Atwood’s blogpost entitled Why Can’t Programmers Program? I thought of testing whether I can pass the simple FizzBuzz test for programming he mentions. You can read the details of the test on his blogpost.
So I wrote a script in PHP, the language I am currently active in, to do what the test asks us to do.
But then, why stop at just solving the problem when you can optimize code for timepass?
I began with a 24 line-long (without counting empty lines) chunk of indented code, using a simple for loop and a bunch of if statements. But then I wanted to reduce the size of the code, so I decided to use the shorthand for if, and get rid of variable assignments that don’t “do” anything really. Now I am down to 5 lines of code, including the two lines of the for loop.
Turns out I am a programmer (though not formally educated as a programmer), and a good one at that – I passed the FizzBuzz Test!! 🙂 Do I get a job as a programmer now? 😛
Here is the output of the script (yes, the script ran when you loaded this page):
Best, is the superlative form of the adjective good. So the result of this learning is that good is not good enough, because there is something better than it. That brings us to better.
Better, is the comparative form of the same adjective good. But then good is not good enough.
So instead of ‘just being’ good you get better. You can get better, or can be considered better. In the former case it’s compared to yourself, but in the latter case, you are better compared to someone else. Is there something better than better? Well, there’s best.
But in the case of becoming the best, you cannot do without being compared. You are not the best in isolation. You are best amongst a set of people.
In mathematical terms, better > good. But best just isn’t > better. It means no one > best.
So it’s an approach that’s totally dependent on others. To be best you have to look at others. You can’t be best just by yourself, can you? The best in a small locality, might not even be considered good when considering the whole city.
And, when you say something is the best, does it mean it cannot get better? If it can get better, it is not the best possible yet, so why the smugness?
Isn’t it better (pardon the irony) to be good, really really good, instead of looking around you and saying “Hey I am better than all these guys!”?
Step 1. Do nothing.
Note: This is not a work-in-progress post.
Kidakaka had tagged me over three months ago. And I took so long to finally finish writing it. Turns out it’s become pretty long.
Two questions in each category answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and you are all set.
Your oldest memories
- I vaguely remember a flood in Calcutta, because I loved the feeling of water filled in our rooms at the old house. All my life this memory somehow also makes me feel I’m in East Asia.
- I insist to my grandpa that I want to eat fish. He being a vegetarian (he used to wear a janeu/yagnopavit), still goes to the market to buy fish for me. When it was being cut, I happened to be around and saw the blood coming out of its fins. There was an instant realisation that fishes are also like us – they also bleed, they also must be feeling pain. Ergo, I am a vegetarian ever since.
- All of four years, the young rider in me wants to ride my uncle’s bike standing outside our house. I stand on the kick-lever, trying to start it, and the bike falls upon me. Safely enconsed in the gap underneath the bike, I patiently wait for anyone to come by and help me out. The noise startles everyone in the house and they rush out to see me where I was.
- Back in the good ol’ times when 9AM on a Sunday meant Ramayan on Doordarshan, on one such Sunday my mother was busy cooking lunch so that she can get down to watching television from 9 onwards. And I was hungry. And I kept asking her for something to eat. She had to ask me to wait. With unending energy inside me, I started looking for things to do. One of these things I realised was pulling off the wooden pieces at the base of the cabinet underneath the stove. “Why do they need those?”, I thought, “let me remove them”. Fine idea, except that it is the same stove which was being used to cook lunch. I pull out one of the pieces, and then everything on the stove tumbles down on me, including boiling hot cooking oil. Severe burns ensue, and after quite some time under medical care, my life came back to normal. I became quieter though.
- Back in the old days when I used to be 7 something, we used to celebrate Chhath pooja in the factory which now belongs to my uncle. Still remember the fun we had there. We used to play hide and seek between the huge machines and rolls of paper, and sleep on piles of cut paper.
- Got my first computer, a 486 with 2MB RAM. I was a BASIC geek, but the assembler had left a folder of Prince of Persia on the harddisk. I was sold. It was amazing for the times, and I could not separate myself from the computer since then. And the feeling when I saw my first “coloured circles” that I had coded in Qbasic – nothing now can match that excitement.
- Thanks to a Hindi-movie laden upbringing, I was a Hindi fillum ka hero, and any pretty girl around my age would be my prospective heroine. Can’t count how many times I have simply “fallen in love” at first sight 🙂
- After my grandpa passed away, we were all staying at our old house for around a year. I had tons of friends there, and we all loved playing cricket. One fine day one of the boys said he wanted to bat. I agreed, and went behind the wickets. We never had wicketkeepers in those games, but I had seen it on TV and wanted to try it out. The boy who was bowling, meek chap that he was, always rolled the ball on the ground instead of throwing it. The batsman, Ravi Shastri fan it seems, wanted to hit a six on every ball. So he takes a swing at the rolling ball. The bat he was holding had a crack between the handle and the blade – with his swing it came unstuck, the blade went flying towards the pavement and the handle’s sharp wedge found my skull. With immense pain I started crying. I had thought it would be a bump, but when I touched it, I was shocked to find that the skin had broken apart there – I could feel that the cut is around an inch deep! I was drenched in blood, and everybody was looking at me with horrifying expressions. It so happened that a neighbour was passing by, recognised me, wrapped my head with a big piece of cloth he was carrying and took me home. I still have the scar on my forehead to show.
- Once my cousin and I went out of the house to play cricket. So we carried the cricket bat (yes the same one) and since there were no balls to play cricket in the house, I stuffed a deck of cards in my pocket (!? Don’t ask. I couldn’t answer it then, and I can’t answer it now) while going out. Once we were outside we “realised” that we couldn’t play because we did not have a ball with us. So I come up with an idea – that we should walk. And we kept walking. And walking. And we crossed many roads. And we reached the factory. Rushed in the compound and sat in a chair in one corner. My uncles and cousins were playing cricket near the compound’s gate, and they obviously saw us go in (we walked in the middle of the game). So they come rushing in. By that time my mother had already called everyone to tell that the kids are missing. Hours of lectures, to me and to mother and grandpa (for not taking care). The whole experience was fun by the way 🙂
- As a kid who used to be dropped and picked up from school by my parents or someone designated, there have been times when I have been waiting till evenings in the school compound. When all the kids have gone home, when the classrooms are being closed, it is lonely, gloomy. And I had heard the story of a Calcutta schoolgirl who had fallen asleep in class on the last day of the term and stayed locked in the classroom for an entire month – she even ate her shoes and clothes in her futile attempt at survival. And I used to think “Am I important enough for my folks?”. Anyways, one such time the school authorities could not wait with me for so long, so they sent the gatekeeper with me to search for my house. All I could remember was “then there is a gully on the right, and then there is a gully on the left…”, no landmarks, no street names, and I called roads, streets, highways – all as gullies, as long as they began with a turn. They figured that I knew the way well enough to reach, only that I didn’t know how to articulate it. I finally reach home, to a worried mother, who was wondering all this while if I was at school or I was picked up from the school and was in the office. Turned out that no one was designated that day to pick me up, and everyone had forgotten thinking that somebody else must be going.
What were you doing ten years ago?
Preparing for ISC, nay for the JEE. Going mad playing games. Had found the internet over a year back, so was going mad trying out Shellsock, Caltiger and any means of getting cheaper internet. Was sorting through piles of accounting papers, working in TCS’s E-X. It sucked.
Your first thought in th
Aah 7? So my roomie is late for the gym! Great. Anyways, let me sleep for another 10 minutes, and then I’ll go out for a jog.
Oh, it’s 8.00!!!
If you built a time capsule what would it contain?
The necessary parts to make it work, right?
It’s just begun. Let’s see if I can manage enough leaves for the Himalayan Odyssey. And enough money to pay off a major part of my debts. Otherwise I just want to go home for a week or so.
What do you see yourself doing 14 years from now?
Don’t know. 14 years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would be anywhere near what I am today, so taking a guess is useless.
All I know is
I want my parents, both of them, to be healthy, comfortable, happy and proud of me
I want to be published by then
I want to have a loving and happy family