Just got back from one of those things that make you see why people would think you are a geek. I went on a visit to our Data Center. The tour was for a whole hour, and I totally enjoyed it.

Me and my 18 year old, just-out-of-high-school fellow intern friend had loads to discuss , from movies to,well movies. He is what you would expect to see in an 18 year old American kid.Ruffled hair,anti-establishment,funny and a strong opinion about everything in the world. I must say, It has been quite a while since I met anyone younger to me,and it was refreshing to be with someone who is not uptight about anything,and doesnt try to be politically correct everytime.(Oh and I love the "Wow! you are a masters in computer science, so you know everything about programming!!" bit, although I am pretty sure the kid knows more about macros and queries than I do!)

Plus, I got to relive my teens, with all the movies, and trends, and who is cool and who is not.A Whiz kid, he has been interning at this place, for almost a year now.And the best part - he acts his age.He doesnt try and do the "Oh look i am a Nerd, i am smarter than everyone else around" routine.(That one might notice in quite a few of the undergrad population here.)A pleasure to know, I am sure he will go places!!

Now coming to the good part. The Data center.Housed in the heart of downtown, the facility was built during the cold war years, and has many inbuilt security mechanisms, that make it convienient as a modern day data secure data storage center.This building also houses some federal agencies and hence follows all the homeland security standards - no parking around the building, strict IDing and so on.

Designed exactly for storage and processing purposes, each storey , is one and a half times that of a normal storey.Which means, that if you are looking out of the 6th storey, you will be at par with the 9th storey of the neighboring ones. So anyway,huge silos, robots, processors,tapes monstrous servers, and precise backup mechanisms - Impressive. Weather monitoring systems,huge SANs,emergency backup procedures,security audit procedures and power services - Awesome!

In all, a real good two hours on a Friday morning, to make up for a gussed Chicago trip , and a so-much-planned-but-not-much-happening weekend ahead.
So my baby is here!! She is the cutest thing ever!! Underweight, and comfortably light, you wont feel a thing carrying her. After lengthy deliberations, Dhruti is what she will be called.(Close contenders being Sudeshna,Pamela and Paravai muniyamma!!)
Yes, thats my baby - the new Dell Inspiron 700M.

"We are surrounded"

"Great, we can attack from any direction.."

- An Army Officer

Wedding Crashers

Hilarious is the word.

"It is almost as if grief , is nature's most powerful aphrodisiac..."

"You see I lived down under, and in there , it is all down backwards.."

"I'm not asking you to marry me. I'm just asking you not to marry him."

"The painting was a gift...and I'm taking it with me."

"Ma ! The meatloaf"

"Yeah I shoot quail, you got a problem with that?"

"Not so much as I do with your wardrobe, or your general point-of-view of the group. But fuck it, let's shoot some birds, I'm psyched!"

And the best :

"Are you 21 ? You look like you are more than 17, but I am not sure you are more than 21"
Is it because the song is carnatic that I sat up and took notice? Maybe. But the the lyrics, are simply beautiful, the meter of the poetry blends so well with the song.

Masaru ponne varuga thiripuramathai eritha Esanin pange varuga

Madhavan thaangai varuga manirathamathil UlavaVaasalil inge varuga

Kola mugamum kurunagayum kulirnilavena neela vizhiyum thiranuthalum

vilangidumenil neeliyena solliyena thamizh marai thozhum

- Devar Magan (1992)

HP and the half-dazed Princess...

This post is NOT a spoiler by any means. It does not discuss Horcruxes or who dies at the end of HP6. So go ahead and enjoy !!!

Ok thats it. There has been nothing else going on in my walking,eating,talking,sleeping,working mind since I started reading HP-6. And now its over. Thats it. I am tempted to discuss the book threadbare, but can't do so without revealing who dies in the end. So I wont.

It all started, one especially sultry Pilani afternoon, in my first year. We were doing this course called "Linguistics" I guess, or was it English Language Skills II ?? So anyway, we were required to do a book review. That was the time HP and the Goblet of Fire simply hogged all the publicity a book ever recieved. And my faithful wingie had an orginal copy of it. Just to see what the fuss was all about, I borrowed the humungous 600 or so page monster from her. Being the Bhawan's night season, there was very little time to devote to what seemed like kids fairy tales. I had Jumpha Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies" with me, just in case.

But as I turned page after page, I discovered it was pure delight, and there was nothing kiddish about it. It was about a young man, who feels, who thinks, who acts and makes mistakes. Is it an epic? Are the characters metaphoric? Is it like some modern day Mahabharatha, only with the names changed? I dont know, but I am sure it cast a spell on me. It soo fascinates me that people still let themselves feel good about something supernatural and magic.

I was soo lucky, like many of you who are reading this blog , to grow up reading and listening to Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales, and of course the whole array of Indian folk tales, and Ramayan and Mahabharath. Later on, it was Noddy, and Big ears, and Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree.These things fuelled my imagination, I used to live in a make believe world of goblins, and elves and princesses. Wow! How simple those days were! You pretended you were on this magic caravan that took you to all fantastic places, and you sailed on a magic carpet with the whole world beneath you!! It was far away from the world of ones and zeros, and deadlines, and phone bills and laundry headaches!!!

But I digress. the point here, is that this book is not a make believe world where everything is hunky dory at the flash of a wand. It is not about a Prince Charming who does these incredible deeds and wows a beautiful princess.(Infact there hasnt been any full-time princess so far!!) It is about a boy who fails in a few courses, gets detentions, plays pranks and enjoys stealthy adventures with his friends.It is school life, and fun and revolt too.(I still ROLF at Fred and George and how they wreaked havoc it Hogwarts!!)It is about the pain he endures, it is about how he tries to struggle, and yet remain human. Sometimes I think it is what Matrix-lovers feel about Matrix. Does the book itself have multiple layers of meaning and allegory? Does it convey more than a normal kids bedtime story does? Will it reinforce the one thing told over and over again through many, many tales worldover since the start of time - "The win of good over evil" ?? Will it tell people, instead, that "hope" is an illusion, and that in reality, cruel guys always win??Lets wait and watch.

I am going back to my temporary world - of talking potraits,Patronuses, and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes :)) Until the charm wears off atleast !!

Car Driving...

Anways,hypothetically, if you were driving along a road in a car, and one wheel kissed the curb, and the bumper grazed a signpost , what would you do?

Would you avoid that road again?

Would you maybe go down that road when you have to, carefully steering clear of the signpost?

Would you go down that road again and again, and pretend the accident never occured?

Would you down that road, and slightly get the curb everytime, just to hear that grating noise?
The ride is scary and bumpy.I have been scared of roller coasters all my life. It is exhilarating when you see someone else on it. When you are aboard, I guess it is sweaty plams, and eyes closed shut in fear. Well, not always, too. I remember this one time, I went with a couple of my friends, on a giant wheel, when we were still in high school. Of course, it took a lot of coaxing and cajoling to get me go with them. The first few times, I thought I would fall off the giant wheel, into the busy street onto some nameless car.But then, slowly, I knew they were there for me, and were holding me tight, making sure I feel safe.I even dared to squint my eyes a wee bit, just to see how high we were.

The wheel went up, and way up, and then it stopped. "Open your eyes Sang, Look at the city, it is soo beautiful!!"

"What? are you crazy? What if I fall off? What if , well.. we get stranded mid-air? What if I throw up on you guys? And look, it is going to go down any minute now, it is gut-wrenching guys, its not funny!!"

"Look, the wheel is stationary now, open your eyes and just let yourself look, we can worry about the rest later"

And I did.

The moment was beautiful. I inhaled deeply, and tried to take it all in at once. I tried to delude myself, that it would be like this forever. And then the roller coaster started falling. It was gut wrenching, yes, but I was so thankful I got through it, thanks to them. I was so happy I got a chance to ride.

(Years later)

PART II : Bungee trampoline ?? Seems very exciting, but that somersault mid-air might make me throw up .....

The Kite Runner

I am not into reading the "hot" list doing the rounds in libraries and NYtimes. I wanted to try this one because a couple of my friends seemed to think highly of it. The reviews said something about Afganistan,and dad- son stuff and the like. "Wow , what an intelligent way to make money!" I thought. Your have an Afgan born, American writer, who writes about Taliban, and human suffering pre and post 9/11, and the good old movie formula of some friendship, and dad-son senti and boom! There you go! You have the right formula to a superhit American novel. This was the usual cynic in me speaking.

After reading this one, I knew one thing. The reviews did no justice to the book at all. They tell you what is written, not how it is written.There are very few books , which deal with emotions and feelings without getting icky-sticky and mushy. There are very few books which make you feel good about having feelings at all. Books that say "Hey wait a minute, this does not need to be a clinical research paper on symbology or anthropology, and you can still like it."A book that says "Hey,this is not a maudlin, tearjerker that you can forget your brains at work to read, and you can still relate to it."

The Kite Runner, is about an intensely personal account of a rich Afgan boy, who later migrates to the US.The political uncertainity , and fundamentalism in Afganisthan, is gently draped around, and peeks through their lives, unobtrusively - not too loud, not too judgemental.It is not Ayn Rand - It does not lash out against ethnic cleansing, it does not push any high flown democracy down your throat. It is not Daniel steele either - It doesnt eulogize the Dad-Son bond.

The one thing that crossed my mind repeatedly as I was reading the book was - "Ok now, something is disturbingly familiar about this book." When I reached the climax, I was able to place it. It was around my fifth standard. My annual exam, and I refused to put down "Swami and friends". At the end of it I cried. This book brings in me the same feeling I get when I read any R.K Narayan. So simple, yet so powerful.

The story revolves around the rich,spoilt, meek protagonist, his dad and his best friend - his man servant. These are everyday human beings, make choices, and live with the choices they make. The choices they make have powerful, and everlasting influence in their lives, in a war-torn country with scant respect for human lives. What is refreshing about the book, is also the fact that the hero is fallible. He does not simply do the "right" thing everytime. He is a silent spectator to injustice. He runs away to another land, and turns a blind eye. He almost lets go of his only chance to do away with his guilt. And then slowly, and gradually , he deals with the ghosts of his past and finds happiness.

In all , a welcome break from the insipid murder mysteries, which , I guess I have finally grown out of. A must read too.