(reminder – fill in something interesting)

I don’t have a tagline.

Nano-blogging January 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Navaneethan @ 6:02 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Over the past year or so, I’ve been addicted to a fantastic product called Google Reader. Google Reader, for the uninitiated, is, to quote Google’s own description, “an inbox for the Web”.

A little background – blogs and websites with frequently updated content have made it easier for people to read and peruse through a technology called RSS (Really Simple Syndication). True to its name, RSS is pretty easy to use, and needless to mention, really awesome.

In the right-hand corner of the address bar, notice that certain websites have and orange colour logo that looks like waves emerging from a point in a pond. That indicates that the site can be added to an RSS Reader (or “feed” reader) and whenever it is updated, the reader will give you an indication of this, and some, such as Google’s will allow you to read stuff from within them, fetching pages for you, upon request.

The great thing about Google Reader is how easy it is to use. The Google Reader blog describes, with an instructional video, how to set it up. What’s even better about Reader is its reach and networking abilities. By this, I mean, that if you are friends with someone through Google Talk or Gmail Chat, you can see some of their items, if they choose to “Share” them. The share feature is unique because it allows you to see what other people are reading, and if you find the article in question interesting, you can easily add it to your list of feeds or blogs.

I realise that this is an AWFUL explanation of Google Reader, but that wasn’t the point of the article actually, I seem to have meandered while providing background. Do check it out though (after you finish reading the rest of what I have to say, of course, heh heh).

Where was I? Right, right, the awesomeness of Reader. Soon after I started using Reader, my blogput (that’s a clever portmanteau of blog and output, isn’t it?) dropped, and I spent some time thinking why. My food got cold and a few days later, spiders began to weave their webs around me. Okay, enough of attempting to be funny. I realised that there was much more to read about and listen to what other people had to say than to talk myself. Over the past year, I’ve perused at least a thousand articles that I’ve found interesting and said nought on my blog (my old blog), just because I’ve had nought to say. Don’t know why I’m back though, but that’s neither here nor there.

But, in an attempt to produce some minimal amount of creative output, I’ve pioneered the concept of nano-blogging (Note – this is not blogging from a Tata Nano, though that would interesting as well) (Note 2 – this also has nothing to do with blogging from the editor Nano) or gmailogging, whichever you prefer. It is the most unbelievably simple thing to do, and being unbelievably simple, I did it. Since you, the reader, are probably very popular and have a large contact list of friends, and, in all likelihood, have a Gmail account (if you don’t, what are you doing?) and use Gmail Chat or Google Talk, the status message bar can be your entire gmailog – all you need to do is put in a witty or profound sentence or two, and link to an item on the web that you found interesting. It has slightly limited reach, only to your friends who are online at the same time as you, but nonetheless, it’s a way to gain fame and fortune (well, fame anyway – though this is still to be empirically tested).

And there you have it. The smallest blog in the world, and the easiest to edit. I think it’s funny that I’ve spent 705 words talking about it, though. Other people have done it too, but I was the one who came up with that cool portmanteau – say it to yourself. No, not ‘portmanteau’. ‘Gmailog’. ‘Gmailog’. And thank me when you’re the life of the party. “Ooh, he’s the dude what has that cool gmailog… let’s go talk to him.” Link them to my blog as part of the appreciation, there’s a good fella.

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Here is Gone January 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Navaneethan @ 11:32 pm

Isn’t it odd the way sometimes nostalgia happens upon us from the unlikeliest of sources? This evening, I longed to listen to the song ‘Here is Gone’ by the Goo-G0o Dolls. I don’t know why, it was sort-of like craving chocolate or grapes or something like that. Entirely mood-dependent, I imagine. That’s the funny thing though. I wasn’t nostalgic earlier this evening. I just want to listen to this song (which I think is pretty nice). But now I am nostalgic, and not entirely sure, why or even of what.

Nostalgia, in my experience, has been a function of association with specific events in the past. Sometimes, I just long the relive those halcyon moments. That’s why this present bout of nostalgia feels strange to me – nostalgia might not even be the right word for it.

I just feel like I’ve lost something, something of importance, but it’s vague, fuzzy, nothing in particular. Perhaps it’s associated with yesterday’s post about my move to Madras and the first associations I have with the city.

I don’t think it’s that, though. I first heard this song in 10th std., when I was in someone’s car. Don’t remember whose, but I think it was in January or February and we were on Chamiers Rd. between Greenways Rd. and TTK Rd, with that lovely overgrown green space to my left, bordered by a red patchwork of a wall that had fist-sized holes at regular intervals. I don’t know what exactly gives me the assurance that this is a genuine memory, not some trick conjured up by my mind, but it feels real and I can almost feel the scene around me.

Maybe it’s the song itself, talking about “Somehow, here is gone”. With the tremendous amount of change that has happened since I first heard the song, this line rings hauntingly familiar and true.

 

My early days in Madras (1997-98)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Navaneethan @ 12:08 am

On 4th June 1997, I arrived in Madras and was picked up by my father at the airport. I was 10 at the time and we had just shifted from Bombay – my father had moved to a company based in Chennai. Our home, a rented one, was on Arunachalam Road in Kotturpuram. All my life before this I had lived in flats in Bandra, and the idea of living in an independent house was terribly exciting.

We reached the house – it was at the end of a cul-de-sac, Arunachalam Road having 2 sections, one perpendicular to the other, and was bordered on one side by an empty plot and on the other by a unpainted, squat little house. The house, at first glance, was really beautiful. There was a small garage, in the front, and a courtyard through a white plastic door. Immediately to the right of the gate was a narrow path that led to the well and the minuscule backyard that was used for hanging up the laundry and had a covered latrine for the domestic staff. Right by the path was a short flight of steps, leading to the front verandah and finally the front door.

I ran through the house, in seemingly whirlwind fashion, exploring its various facets and was entranced by the staircase – a staircase! in my own house! – and flew up it to the upstairs hall – a room that would be the very centre of my existence for the next few years. It was lit up, inefficiently, but very prettily by 4 rows of small light bulbs and, through a wood-lined arch, led to a bright, airy study.

Abutting the arch were two beautiful stained glass windows, one on each side. I can’t tell you how impressed I was by them. I had exhausted myself through the hurricane-esque sweep of the house and stood in front of them panting, with my eyes agog. 3 years later, while miscuing a Powerbomb on a plastic stool, I would remember that very moment as the bottom half of one of the windows cracked (my parents assumed it was the painters, who had covered the furniture in off-white sheets and left their crusty brushes, buckets and thinner all over the house – absolving me of the blame, though the guilt remained long after).

I then ran in to the room on my right, where my mother was reading a book. I hugged her, and then turned to look around the room. One window overlooked the aforementioned empty plot, and the other overlooked the next-door neighbour’s balcony. The breeze blew in gently, strange for a June afternoon, and I was hooked. I loved the place and hoped I would never leave it.

We had some great times there. The house had a ton of character. Be it the fact that one room had tiles of two different colours, a guest room on the ground floor that possessed a somewhat mysterious chest-of-drawers or the strange lights in the upstairs room that could only be controlled as rows. My parents’ room had a small dresser that, as far as I could see, served no real purpose, but I loved it anyway. My bathroom, on the first day I used it, appeared to have no discernible source of lighting – with the brightness of the summer sun, I had failed to notice that the translucent plastic panels above that hid the source.

More important than the house, to me, was the locale. Kotturpuram was (and probably is) one of the quieter neighbourhoods in the city. My branch of Arunachalam Road was even quieter than the rest of the area because we were as far back from Gandhi Mandapam Road as one could be. Back in ’97, the cul-de-sac was barely paved. This made for some interesting times when my cousins from Valasaravaakam and Mylapore visited, or when my school senior, who lived at the corner played cricket with self and classmate in the afternoons after school.

I had become obsessed with the sport the previous year, during the Wills World Cup. My building in Bombay, Sandele, had a big front yard, and I used to play there either with classmates or my father, who constantly encouraged me to bowl straight. In the Arunachalam Road context, cricket became an exciting sport. We used one of the gate pillars of my house for a wicket and marked off a bowling crease some distance away. Thanks to the unpaved nature of the road, the bounce was unpredictable. Once, while bowling to my driver, I let fly a ball that I thought would be a low-pitched yorker, but instead, it hit a stone embedded in the pitch and bounced well over his head. The following year, one blazing summer afternoon (if you remember, 1998 was, for a long time, the hottest year on record) when my father and I were coming back from our weekly trip to Vaanga Vaanga supermarket (I could be wrong though – were were coming back from somewhere in Adyar, at any rate), I saw the road-rollers and tar machines that would mark the end of the pitch that I fondly thought of as being more unpredictable than Guwahati (where, the previous December or January, an India-Sri Lanka match had been called off on account of ‘dangerous pitch condition’ – never mind the exhibition match that immediately followed). I continued to play cricket there for a few years, though, thanks to football, laziness and other intervening agents, I would have almost forgotten about it when we moved out of that house at the beginning of 2003, during my pre-board exams for 10th.

The reason (or reasons) for why I’m reminiscing about a 12-year-old memory are strnage. My father, clever man that he is, cannot or will not remember names. Our neighbours, who moved in a few days or weeks after we did, had a son around my age called Abhimanyu. I knew him fairly well, and would spend time at his house playing computer games that I didn’t care for very much, or practising our putting my plastic golf set (gifted to me on my 11th birthday) on his lawn.

My father has always referred to him as ‘Anubhav’. On several occasions during dinner or while watching the telly or even on the phone, he has asked me: “Ah… what happened to him?”

Me: “Yaaru?” (knowing from experience exactly who he meant)

F: “Andha paiyyan – neighbour… what’s his name? Anubhav-aa?”

Me: “Oh… not sure, theriyalei. He graduated from USC, but I don’t know where he is now.”

A few days ago, I discussed with the pater my interests in the neuroscience of vision, specifically in disorders such as prosopagnosia, that renders a person incapable of recognising faces.

F:  “Yeah, that’s quite interesting. You know, I think I have problems putting faces to names – why is that, do you know? You should study that.”

Me (while laughing): “Yeah, the fact that you called our neighbour ‘Anubhav’ is testimony to that.”

F: “Oh! That was that boy – used to live on Arunachalam Road. Whatever happened to him?”

A flood of memories rushed through me. I fell silent.

F: “I wonder what happened to him, and that place. Should visit it sometime, no?”

 

Hello world! January 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Navaneethan @ 10:59 pm

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