Recaptured’s Magazine Interview

Bucket lists make for interesting reads. They give an insight into the character and personality of the person who wrote it.

A middle class Indian boy like yours truly who grew up on a staple diet of books and magazines more than cable television has a particular kind of bucket list. So far two items had been crossed off it: getting published and lighting the lamp at a government institution’s festival. The former was a happy moment, the latter an embarrassing one. But that’s a story for another time. It’s time to tell you about the third item that has been ticked off the list.

3. Interview in a major national magazine

Pool is one of India’s leading creative arts & design magazines. And owing to the fact that it has been started by Sudhir Sharma himself, it’s immensely popular in the professional design community.

They have been kind enough to feature my interview in the March 2012 issue. You can contact them for purchasing a copy, or simply read the issue online here – the interview appears on page 12 onwards in the print magazine, which corresponds to page 14 onwards online.

Please read, comment and share 🙂

Kweezzz

If you are on Twitter, and you are not aware of the handle called @kweezzz, it’s time to come out from under your Twitter-rock.

It is the coolest and most engaging thing on Twitter. The tagline is “Quizzing in 140 characters”. That is enough to explain I guess.

Now why am I talking about Kweezzz here? Because it is a prime example of how a classic activity like quizzing takes on to such a new trend on the internet – microblogging.

Oh, and I have taken the podium in two kweezzzes recently! There had to be some narcissism involved right? I was second in this Andaz Apna Apna quiz, and tonight I stood first in the Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa quiz. Will post the link to the latter as soon as it is put up.

What is the Best really?

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!”?

Fame: klueLESS style

A few days back I got a call from Krish Raghav of HT Mint. He was doing a feature on klueLESS, the monster of a puzzle I had made back in 2005, if you remember.

It was the first time any media outfit chose to talk to the originator while covering the madness. In my knowledge the game had been covered by another business daily a couple of years back but they didn’t mention me! 😛

Mint decided to set this right.

So I had a nice chat with Krish for an hour or so, and as a result a nice paragraph in this Mint article comprised entirely of my statements: The kult of the Klueless


“Right from the beginning, the challenge has been to make it tough enough to engage, but not to an extent where it puts off people,” says Amit Sharma, who designed the first Klueless. It started, he says, as something to fill up available space on the site servers. “But it went viral thanks to posts on forums like PaGaLGuY.com and Team-BHP.com,” he says. “They all said—’if you want to crack the Common Admission Test (CAT), try this!’ In India, that’s a guaranteed bringer of heavy traffic.”

Only one minor correction: klueLESS was not started to “fill up available space on the site servers”, it was to fill up available space on the iRising schedule. Minor detail.

Thanks HT-Mint for the publicity. My friends have been going mad sharing the link. And phone calls and pings have been on since then 🙂

New ’ome, or is it?

I did not write about it here, but I have not been able to log in to a Rediff.com account of mine for around a year now.

Funny thing is that Rediff’s support also has not been helpful. When I asked them to help me out, they sent me a questionnaire with questions like which was the last date I accessed the account, which are 5 people I have last written emails to, and sundry other information like that. Now for a personal account, if I did not remember the password, which I am supposed to have remembered, how can I remember such small details which anyways I am not supposed to have memorised? I wrote back to them with whatever I could remember. They did not even show the courtesy to tell me that they won’t do it.

Enough of rants. The matter is that the domain linked to this blog was also controlled through that Rediff account. And since I could not log in, the domain expired. So you will not be able to find this blog at the URL you were reading it earlier on. The blogspot URL has kicked back in action – this blog is now accessible at http://almostimperfect.blogspot.com/. Suits now, doesn’t it?

If you are one of my RSS subscribers, you still can read this. Thank goodness for 3rd party feed burners – http://feeds.feedburner.com/Almost lives on 🙂

Will I try to buy that domain again? I don’t think so. It was primarily to host my design portfolio and land me a job in a design company or get me design projects. Since I set up the site I have been successful in joining arguably India’s number one design office – Elephant Design, and I am too busy working on exciting projects here to take up any independent design assignments.

Moreover, in a hurry to go online and because of a lack of hep and cool-sounding names, I had registered a kind of a clumsy URL. I used to have a hard time telling people the URL, and then telling them the spelling later (without the ‘e’!). Plus it was also hard telling people why the URL was such when I was writing more about photography, social issues, advertising and the likes, and when the title was in no way reflected in the URL. Now at least the address on the plate matches that on the envelope.

This sudden lapse of the domain also came at a strange time – when I was contemplating going online with another site of mine – one focussing on my photography. And I was thinking of writing there, and of importing this blog there lock, stock and barrel.

Now until the site’s concept, structure and design get ready and until I decide to shift it completely there, the blogspot address will be this blog’s home.

The feed URL stays same 🙂 and that’s another reason you should start using RSS readers.

Then, Now and Will Be

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.

THE TAG
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.

THEN
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 fish 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 look for me.
  • 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 and lots of care by mom & dad, my life came back to normal. I became much, much 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 hard disk. I was hooked! 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 wicket-keepers 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. So we walked. And we kept walking. And 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 referred to 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?
February 1999
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.

NOW
Your first thought in the morning
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?

WILL BE
This year…
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

I TAG
Anurag
Rachit
Gauravi
Neeraj
Ankit

Ek Vodka with Coke!?

Saw Dev D. Liked it. Loved it, in fact.

The only thing I could not understand were the drinking habits of sadda Dev. He lives in the UK the major part of his life, and he picks up a habit of drinking Vodka only. Vodka the beginners’/connoisseur’ spirit. Indian kids who start drinking start with Vodka. Mainly because it’s tasteless, so get high without having to bear with the strange tastes of other liquors – after all those are acquired tastes – and does not smell when you go home. For connoisseurs, Vodka (alongside white Rum) is the base of many cocktails. I would have thought the hero of the movie, phoren return that he is, would have more refined drinking preferences. He instead chooses to guzzle Vodka neat – not even with a green chilli.

And when he’s not drinking Vodka neat, he’s mixing it with Thums Up or Coke. Did you hear that? Vodka with a cola! Whatever happened to the lime twist, good ol’ Sprite or a simple lime wedgie with Vodka?

Good thing he did not ask for “Bacardi ka Vodka”.

On another line of thought, are there any purist Bengalis out there who are offended by the portrayal of Paro and Debdash, by the maligning of the ‘pure love’ between them and the ‘pure lust, err… love’ that Chandramukhi had towards Debdash? Why aren’t we seeing any theatres being ransacked, any viewers being bullied (on the lines of Mangalore et al). For that matter, where are the fans of Shah Rukh, Madhuri, Aishwarya or Sanjay Leela Bhansali who would get offended by the hedonistic take on Sharatbabu’s most popular story outside of Bengal?

It’s Complicated

freshen upMe: So this Facebook thing of yours. You’re no longer single, it’s now complex, eh?

Mandrake: Not complex. Complicated.

Me: Aaah! Because in complex situations, there are imaginary people in the equation?

Mandrake: Yes, and there is no ‘I’ in W-E or R-E-A-L.

Me: And ‘I’ am alone and lonely in complex situations.

Mandrake: And when ‘I’ meet another ‘I’, things cease being imaginary, and it’s no more complex.

Me: We’re so smart!

Mandrake: We should publish this.

Me: Stop dreaming.


Inspired by a tea-time conversation with my friend Mandar.