Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year End Summary - Dec 31st

I generally thought of briefly summarizing how this year has been spent. Assuming that I continue blogging indefinitely, these things will come in handy the day I decide to write my autobiographies. I can't be sifting through my entire blog at that time :) I'll try to listen them in the order of significance and won't spend too much time categorizing them.

  • Change of jobs, apartment - both in June
  • Creative recovery and self awareness
  • Trips to Hawaii (for wedding anniversary), Grand Canyon (Memorial Day), Las Vegas (Christmas), Bay Area (Thanksgiving), Portland and vicinity (Business), Anzo Borrego Desert (Dec 31st, i.e., today)
  • Tamil Light Music Show (Jan 15th), Hindi Show (March 5th), Tamil Drama (Nov 6th), NETip show (Nov 7th)
  • Mourned the death of two close relatives back in India
  • Sold a bunch of Thiruvasagam CDs
  • Watched some memorable movies like Napoleon Dynamite, King Kong, Chandramukhi, Anniyan, Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Harry Potter
  • Took up Piano lessons again
You can assume the rest of the events to be insignificant enough not to write in this blog. That's not too much for a year.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Risk Taking

I find that this term has become an often used one, when it comes to advising entrepreneurs or people who want to achieve success. It can be more aptly replaced by "following your passions/heart". In simple words, if you follow your wild dreams, the society will label you as a risk taker. Talking at length about risk taking and its consequences can mean nothing to a person who hasn't identified what he wants to do. He may have identified what he should be doing, but that's not going to take him very far. Name any successful person and I can point out that they were just blind to the world while following their passions and making them a reality. This, in the society's eyes, is definitely "deviating from the norm" and hence "risk taking". The thing is, when you do things that you really like, you won't mind losing money or working long hours without having medical insurance. I acknowledge that this is indeed a hard thing to do in today's world that offers us millions of distractions. But that's what separates a successful person and the one who isn't - following the passions.


I read this book today. What a wonderful book! I just think that such things are coming in my way. The book can be found in the metaphysics section in a bookstore. In summary, the book talks about a boy, Santiago, who follows his dreams until he realizes them. The journey takes him through many hardships, interesting experiences and in the process he learns several lessons from many wise people. At the end of the book, there are several topics for discussion. I forgot most of the questions, but I think I should probably read this book again. It talks frequently about the "Personal Legend" and the pursuit of it. The book reinforces the fact that we are all here for a purpose - we may achieve our purpose without even realizing it. The book gives yet another perspective on how to lead a life. Primarily, it also reinforces the one fact that I have come to realize in recent times - follow your heart, listen to your heart. If you don't, your heart will continue to talk to you and make you miserable until you learn to listen to it. Your life is your heart. It may hold the clue to your existence. It may tell you why exactly you are here.
Though I am a science person, these things sound very believable to me. We all go through stress. Particularly these days, there is too much information out there, whose sole purpose is to cloud all of our judgements and prevent us from taking the right choices or the choices that our hearts want us to take. If we allow these things to consume us, they will and in the end, we will only regret the fact that we didn't do justice to our heart's desires and feelings. This, I am sure is a common scenario.

The book also stresses the importance of living the moment, or paying attention to the present. It mentions that the fear of suffering may be worse than the suffering itself, so it is very important not to imagine things that might frighten our heart. Only if the present is perfect will it give rise to a perfect future. So it is very essential to live the moment and enjoy everything that surrounds us. This enjoyment will come about naturally if we are conscious all the time. Conscious - this is one word which I have begun to use very liberally in recent times. What this means is to do things and perceive things as they literally mean. To think about our thoughts is our unique gift - to be conscious is to use this gift. If you are waiting for a bus for a long time, you could use that time to notice things around you - notice people, animals that may wander, smell the air, watch the sky, so on and so forth. This is living the moment as well, instead of allowing your mind to curse the bus that is late or to allow the mind to think about various possibilities that the future may hold for you. Don't ask me why, but I have come to believe that everything happens for a reason. If we try to resist that, we won't get very far and wherever we end up is sure to be a very unhappy place.

People always try to explain things around them to the extent that the explanations become self fulfilling prophecies. What they probably can't explain is the fact that we can't choose our parents or the family in which we are born in.

Schindler's List

What an amazing movie! It took me so long to watch this one. It was released in 1993 and I have watched it only after a dozen years. Too bad. I must have been preparing for JEE at that time, when Spielberg churned out this masterpiece. Pretty much the whole movie is in black and white and that sets the right mood. Secondly, you don't want to see blood and the gore Jews were subjected to, during world war, in color. It was a very touching movie as well, but of course, Spielberg knew how exactly balance everything. Making movies has to be his second nature. The other joke is that he also managed to direct and release Jurassic Park in the same year! Who else could have done this?

Schindler's list won him an academy award. He has won it for Saving Private Ryan also. He somehow seems to have a flair for all these war movies, portrayal of violence, etc. He was born in Ohio and is now a billionaire. He has pretty much lived for Hollywood. He started a few production companies and has produced more movies as well. Apparently six of the all time blockbusters were directed by Spielberg. His latest movie is now out - Munich. I haven't watched that. Will have to do so.

I am always tempted to read the biographies of such successful and famous people. Spielberg started shooting amateur movies when he was still a teenager, they say. What's up with all this? That just simply means that the environment around him was just right so that he could become one of the all time best directors in the whole world. His parents must have been very encouraging. His friends must have encouraged him as well. I'm sure so many factors came into play in forming and moulding him into becoming a fine director.

Do the other planets feel jealous of Earth 'cause it has all the life forms? May be! Who knows. Mars is almost at the edge of the region which can allow for life forms to evolve. For Earth, it was a case of so many unique things coming together - like a big big coincidence. The distance from Sun, presence of water, moderate temperature, the mass, the size, gravity, etc - everything played a role in making it the blue planet as seen from the space. May be the evolution of all the successful people needs conditions like this. Lot of things coming together positively towards a noble cause. What can the others do? Imagine the amount of positive feedback needed to raise a ohio-born kid to levels of success which no other director can imagine achieving. I am sure his personality also suited very well to this, but still. I get carried away by such people and such movies. All those who worked on that movie must have felt very special. Creativity is abundant. Some people know how exactly to find it within themselves that they don't even realize it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Govinda Govinda!

After so many trips to Vegas, it occured to me that it has almost become a pilgrimage. I shouldn't be really saying this since I don't really go there to gamble or anything. Yet, I don't fully understand why I keep going there. I guess it is just a get away place. I am tempted to compare the Vegas trips to our annual Tirupathi trips back in India. Whatever happens in a year, there is at least a couple of days when our family lands in Tirupathi. Here is my attempt to compare Vegas and Tirupathi.

At the outset, one of them is referred to as the Sin City and other one is widely known as a Holy City - that seems like a really big difference - a night and day difference, but they seem to have some superficial similarities :) The sound of gamblers winning money in slot machines is very much like the sound of temple bells in Tirupathi. People get up early morning in both places to offer their money to their respective Lords :) Gambling goes on all night. There is early morning gambling as well, just like there is an early morning special darshan, with some pooja. The path to the Holy City is rather windy, very much unlike the straight roads that lead you to doomsdays of losing your money in the Sin City. Either the slot machine or the Hundi gulps your money :) I'm not being blasphemious just read this for what it is worth.

Tirupathi may be even coined as Indian Vegas for the amount of money it collects. People just come and dump all their wealth into the Hundi hoping that good will happen in their lives at a later point. Except in Vegas, people dump all their money hoping that they'll collect more before they leave Vegas - stuff that seldom happens! But there is still a finite chance that you'll pick up money from Vegas. This can never happen in Tirupathi. If you have been to Vegas and didn't get to see the Bellagio fountain, it is like you missed the Darshan in Tirupathi. Both places shine with a lot of light and are always bubbling with activity. They both manage to attract quite a lot of crowd - both rich and poor wanting to improve their chances in live regardless of their status in society. The songs that they play for the fountain mostly remind me of that one constant annoying song that is always played in Tirupathi - Sreeranga....manasaswarami....Even the God himself would have got bored of this tune by now. People need to be more creative and give him better tunes every now and then. There is some construction or the other happening at both places, in the name of making the place better and indirectly more attractive to a lot more poeple so that they can come and dump their money.

But for the Lord's presence, there would be little interest in the monkey ridden seven mountains. There would be far less interest in visiting the desert if not for Vegas! You pay more money to get FREE laddus just like you pay more money to get free entertainment. Both are places that families from all over the country visit with newborn kids, except that they don't tonsure the kid's head in Vegas. "Mottai aagarthu" is just a feeling in Vegas as opposed to a reality in Tirupathi. "Govinda Govinda" refers to money lost in Vegas :)

The line for having laddus is definitely longer than the one for having food in Vegas. There are attractive shops wherever you walk. Remember to inform people that you're going there or else you have a chance of running into them at that very place! The whole experience includes talking to people that you went there, how many times you went there and how much money you've lost over the years. It is almost like you visit Tirupathi, put money there to have a very bright future and to earn very well and drop all the earnings in Vegas later. There seems to be a big economic tie up between the two places. May be the money dropped at either place reaches the other side through the earth's core, who knows. Ideally the money dropped would perform simple harmonic motion between the two places if there were a big tunnel through the earth's core without the molten rocks. I think I'm digressing here.

Vegas is a place where every Hindu and every Buddhist assembles during Christmas time :) Slot machines are regular stuff like Dharma Darshan...playing Black Jack and losing money is like buying something expensive and dropping it in the Hundi, without directly dropping money itself. Both places are at a high elevation - I don't know how high Tirupathi is, but Vegas is at about an elevation of 4000 feet. You stop at Barstow to take a break like you stop at that obscure little town to have that tiffin and coffee when you're riding on that Andhra bus. Both are a must. You can't imagine a journey to Vegas without a stop at Barstow and going past the Zzyzx road. God knows who named that road. Looks like they ran out of alphabets. "I won so much this time" sounds much similar to "I really had a special darshan this time" :) I am reminded of "jarugandi jarugandi" - you go all the way to Tirupathi to have a great darshan and all you get is a minute or so in front of the Lord.

Either way, it is belief that drives people to both places. Belief that you'll end up better after the trip. In the case of Vegas, people get to know immediately what they were destined for though. After several trips you do get to learn that life is a big averager, no matter how much time you've spent inside the dimly lighted Santum Sanctorum or the Casinos.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Blogging after a couple of days

I've been offline pretty much for the last 3-4 days. We had just been to my nth Vegas trip. It is almost laughable that I blow up a couple of hundred dollars in just going to Vegas even after all these years and so many trips there. The funny thing is that I am not fond of gambling. So, why the hell do I keep doing this? I will try to elaborate on another post.

My ex roommate and good friend, S***V, visited me with his wife A***A. I had a good time with them yesterday. He came over and stayed with me for the night. They both are really nice. His wife gave good company to mine when she was cooking. My friend has always been a good fan of my music skills. He always likes to watch me play and listen to my recordings. He knows that I am a big sweet fan. So he got me some german chocolate pie from Marie Callender's. How nice!

Today, we spent good part of the day with another friend in San Diego. We three were roommates at some point of time - in 1999-2001. I really had a great time with these people. Wonderful team we were, inside the apartment. There was no schedule as to who will cook everyday, who will wash stuff and all that. We were in perfect agreement. Each one of us were pretty responsible and sensitive to the others' needs and had a big resonance between us. That is very hard to come by. I really missed them when I had to move out. Now each one of us have got married. One of them is almost having a kid now. Things change.

My friend in San Diego is like an information superhighway. He really is a walking encyclopedia. He knows so much. He has such memory and observation and interest in the general happenings in the world. You could ask him any question and he almost always has an answer that's very pertinent. That is a difficult talent/skill/gift to have. I should encourage him to start his own FAQ site, something like the wikepedia. He will have a lot to offer. He should be writing a blog on his own. It will be very popular. I should suggest him to do that. But since he is having a baby soon, he may not be interested. Regardless, I should tell him. Such a nice guy. His wife is indeed lucky to have him as the husband.

So what else? I had some thoughts on comparing Vegas with Tirupathi. I will post it separately. I'll rest my fingers for now. There is Schindler's list DVD laying around in my house. Will have to watch it. I am trying to set the mood for it. But my wife seems to be in no big hurry to watch it :)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Deja Vu again

I can't believe this. The deja vu happened just now. I have to document it: I decided to look for a 'luck' based article in BBC. I got the search page results and immediately this feeling of having lived through that experience began. I clearly remember browsing through the results and noting an article titled "good night and good luck". I remember clicking on that link. I also remember the George Clooney face that came up in the article. I remember to look at my door, expecting somebody. I look back at the computer. Oh my God! How does anybody explain this thing? Can science do it? I have to find out more information on how this thing happens. My previous documentation on deja vu is here.


Generalization - I think this is something most of us, if not all of us, do to explain things around us. We need this tool to logically explain the past and deduce the future from it. I am not saying it is the right or wrong thing to do, but we do it. If you view your life as a big set of isolated incidents, it is guaranteed that you won't get anywhere. You have to form patterns that apply to you in the context of the society you live in or likely to live in the future. It is the most efficient means of communicating and reasoning out. Think about it. In fact, try to remember a conversation in which you didn't generalize even at one point.

Somebody picks your pocket in a highly crowded bus. What's the natural thought process after that - "In all the heavily crowded buses that I travel, there is bound to be at least one pickpocket, so I better be careful everytime". You can't blame the person - after all he is taking measures to protect his money, which is entirely his responsibility. But does it mean that his theory is right? But does it even matter if his theory is right or wrong? All that matters to him is the way in which he has to lead that part of a life that is spent inside a crowded bus. So there.

People get educated and get more exposure. They travel to different places, countries. They interact with people from different cultures and find out that several possibilities exist in life. And hence conclude that there is no real need to generalize. Different kind of explanations come into being at that point - things that try to explain things around you. Now somebody picks your pocket in a highly crowded bus - you'll first try to blame yourself for not having taken care of this in the first place. But what's the difference? Are you going to give the benefit of the doubt to the crowd in the next bus you're going to catch? Highly unlikely! We'd still pretend as though somebody is hiding out there who is interested in our wallet and take measures to safeguard our money - no problem or nothing wrong there.

Sometimes I see people objecting or criticizing generalization. I'll say "they're all like that" and immediately I get a response - "How do you know - did you interact with everyone and find out to make a statement like this?" Kindly explain to me why I was wrong and more importantly, how you interpreted what I said within the given context. When I say "they're all like that" I am only trying to explain things that have happened to me in the past and a pattern that I should remember so that I can readily deal with a similar situation in the future. Won't I be wasting time if I treat every incident as an isolated one? You lose the wallet ten times in a bus, please move on with your life - after generalizing. Now, I am not going to interact with all the 6 billion people in the planet to make a very educated statement about people. In fact, nobody can. There is so much data in this world that it only makes sense to form familiar patterns and generalizations. But within the community, society or circle that I move, it may be perfectly ok to generalize. By all means, it'll be a very similar community or a society that I'll encounter in the future - what I mean is that I am going to be hanging around only reasonably educated people who don't understand life all that well, or they do only as much as I do. Within this given context, what's the difference if I generalize or if I don't?

In fact, I think generalizing is inherent to human nature. Educated people may tend not to generalize, but I still think they ARE trying to generalize things on may be a much bigger level. Level from which they can say "ALL people have problems", "desire is the root cause for ALL suffering", "you get what you pay for", "life is a big averager", "there is no free lunch", "you are entirely accountable for your actions", "you give crap, you get crap" kind of things. Notice the liberal use of the word "ALL" in these phrases. That word signifies heavy generalization. People constantly try to explain the things around them, with the hope that they may lead a more peaceful life later. But they may not all be going that extra mile to generalize on a much higher level so they can see things from a different/right perspective altogether. They generalize on a much smaller, miniscule level which leads to a lot of problems. In other words, the margin of error 'cause of generalization varies.

"The wind at this location is always blowing at 130mph" is a stupid generalization.
"The wind at this location is always blowing at high speeds in this time of the year" is a more educated generalization. But it is generalization regardless :)

PS: Here is one amazing article on generalization which precisely reflects what I was also trying to say, except that this person is much clearer and factual.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Commitment and Fear of Certainty

The title of this post is something isn't? Ha ha. In the last few months, lack of certainty has troubled me big time. Today, I suddenly had a realization that I've been afraid of certainty myself. I can't commit that easily. I fear that I'll break the promise and never promise anything. Promise is very sacred to me. I take it literally. People promise and don't really mean it most of the time. But when I promise, I do mean it literally. It doesn't happen so often that I need to worry about it. Anyways, so what made me reach this conclusion today. We have been looking at deals to go to Vegas - mostly hotel deals since we always drive to Vegas. So flights are not a problem. I saw some nice deals for hotels in the strip for only $80 a night for three days starting Friday. If I had been what I was long back, I would have booked it, at least with the guarantee that I could cancel it in 24 hours notice. Now that I am different, I didn't book it and didn't care too much. Now the prices have gone up significantly. A simple thing like this requires your commitment. I have no good answer to why I didn't book it earlier, but now I would just have to pay more for the same crappy room that I'll get.

This made me think a little, as does everything. If I am not willing to commit to something and make plans, why would my future look very clear to me? I've been complaining to myself that the future is a big question mark, I don't know where I will end up yada yada, but I have not been acting one bit to resolve that (at least so far). And that requires more or less a fundamental change. Long back, my experiences taught me that I shouldn't really plan things 'cause they never really worked. That may have been true, but it was my perspective that was very different and may have been wrong at that time. Now, I can say that it has become better, I don't know if it is the right perspective yet. We all grow. May be the right perspective will strike you only when you have a few moments to live. You see people suddenly forgoing all their ego and apologizing for their mistakes when they are in their deathbed. They probably realize at that time that life is too beautiful to be spent worrying and bickering around. Love is needed. Appreciation is needed. I'll put an end to this digression right now.

Coming back to the point, I should develop the ability to accept and commit to certain things. It is time that I realize that I am not really waiting for anything better to happen, so I might as well go with this plan. This coming weekend is the best example. What on earth would have happened if I had booked that hotel a few days back itself? Nothing much. There was nothing really lined up. It was either laziness or fear of commitment or just complete disregard for the idea of going to Vegas (of course it has been too many times already). Or it is probably because I have been preoccupied with something else. What is that something else - nobody knows. It is like, when you reach somewhere, 'there' is gone already! You need to keep moving constantly.

They say that good work keeps you fully occupied - it energizes you and it doesn't allow you to look at your watch. You don't feel time. That's the kind of state that I want to achieve. It'll be good if everyone achieves it, but the world makes it seem as though there are only a few good jobs and the rest is all crap. We will have to consciously make choices.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How's this analogy?

I came up with this analogy an hour back...I thought I might as well write it down. Consider a large room with a large ceiling. The ceiling is rigid, made of concrete. So is the floor. The ceiling is like a thin line that represents the super geniuses. They won't change and will always remain on the top unless of course a tornado strikes or some such acts of God happen. Let's not get into that. The floor is like a thin line that represents the really dumb people. They also won't change, nor will they allow themselves to change 'cause they are so dumb. The air space in the middle is made up of average people. Some air molecules stay on the top, close to the ceiling, some air molecules stay close to the floor. It is entirely possible that the molecules can be brought down or brought up and so it is entirely possible that there are different grades of average people. But the point is, the average people will continue to remain average. They never become the ceiling or the floor. The average man's life will inevitably get averaged out, like the motion of the air molecules between the ceiling and the floor. The celing and floor will cling to their respective places. I have a feeling that I belong in the middle :)

-------------------------CEILING = GENIUSES------------------------------


--------------------------FLOOR = DUMBASSES------------------------------

Received the Receiver, but will have to return

Yesterday I received the most anticipated stuff - the onkyo receiver that I had ordered. It was a refurbished one to begin with...that's why it was cheap also. But I heard this high frequency hiss when I plugged in my headphone. It was simply absent from my other more expensive harman kardon receiver. Of course, you get what you pay for. So I decided to live with the hissing sound. Then all of a sudden the power hum started coming from the receiver. This noise was like a swarm of bees surrounding you. I couldn't take that. It was noisy enough to get your attention when you are playing some music. That was a big bummer. I had bought a pair of Polk R30 speakers from Fry's almost a month ago in anticipation of getting a decent receiver so that I can plug in my keyboard into these things. I am now disappointed. I have waited too long to replace the existing music system with a nice receiver and a set of nice speakers. Should I just go and get another mini audio system. May be that'll do the job. But I don't have much time to return the speakers either. When I called up customer service to return the receiver, they said I'll have to wait until they send me a return lable. Crap!

Monday, December 19, 2005

King Kong and Peter Jackson

I watched King Kong on Friday night and was totally blown away by the movie. Most of my reaction had to do with Peter Jackson's pursuit of his passions. You could clearly tell that unless one is so focussed and passionate about something, a movie like this couldn't have been made. Not to underestimate Spielberg's passion or focus when he directed so many blockbusters. But Peter Jackson has definitely amazed me with his directing prowess. He is a leader with a big vision! He also happens to be a great manager - working with so many people, graphic specialists, cinematographer, special effects people, actors, etc and coming up with a work of beauty. To make a movie is something - to remake a movie that has already been remade once is something else! Looks like only Peter Jackson can do such things. He is about 45 years old. May be one has to wait till that long to gain the respect and attention before they can bring forth their best works of art. I can't believe he spent 7 years making Lord of the Rings. Imagine the dedication, the amount of risk. Better yet, imagine his fire and passion! He has clearly followed his heart, without letting his mind cloud his judgements and interfering with his heart's decisions. Otherwise, why would he wait for more than 3 decades after he was fascinated by the original King Kong to remake it and present it to the new generation who didn't have a chance to watch the classic movie that rocked Hollywood in 1930s?

The movie has great reviews. The ape monster had very believable emotions/actions and movements. The hardwork showed in every frame. I would definitely be interested in watching the Production Dairies once that comes out. I think it has already come out, but Blockbuster didn't have it when I enquired this weekend. Nice. Looking at such movies, Indians have quite a lot of catching up to do. Can't believe their attachment to songs and dances and all the emotional sentiments. Grow up, guys!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Weekend is right around the corner!

Not much planned for this weekend. I'll have to take things as they come. But a few are in mind:
  • Meet with some friends tomorrow for a music session at 1:30pm
  • Pick up the vacuum cleaner
  • May be plan a trip for Christmas
  • Read (of course!)
  • Gym
  • May be the concert
  • Fix watches


Today is King Kong Day for me. I already purchased two tickets for tonight 9pm show at Edwards :) My wife and I are set to go. This movie has great reviews. I never understood what King Kong meant to people. I hope to find out tonight. Looks like it was originally a 1933 movie! People have been kicking ass for a long time now. It is time for Peter Jackson to kick ass. He has spent over $209 million or so for the movie and it went over budget by $32 million. The studios must have thought - this better be good or else kind of stuff. It sure is going to run in India big time. The Indian distributors must have paid a lot of money for it. I can't believe the translated versions are already available. So the movie must have been ready for quite some time or they must have started the dubbing process long back. Lot of good reviews for this one.

Apparently Peter Jackson dreamt about this when he was 9 years old - around the time he was totally captivated by this movie. He also set out doing this movie 10 years back when the studios dismissed this project 'cause it will have competed with Godzilla and the Jurassic park series. Well, now we have even better technology to represent the Gorilla and the Dinosaurs. I should watch this movie - the ape in action. I think I should also watch the original movie, but that will become a question of time.

So do you have to dream about making movies when you are 9 years old itself? I sure didn't dream about it. But it is not just the dream that matters - you actually have to do something about the dream. Peter Jackson did it; Manoj Night Shyamalan did it. They both took small home cameras and started shooting videos. That's it. They didn't worry much about how it will come out or anything. They just plunged into it not knowing what's in store for them. It sure did work out for both of them. People even say that Peter Jackson may replace the icon Spielberg. That's a heavily loaded statement. Speaking of which, I haven't watched all the movies Spielberg has made. I have missed Schindler's list and a few others. I remember my periyamma took me to watch Jaws when I was very young. All I remember of the movie was that it was a scary one and it is supposed to scare people! and it did!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Da Vinci Code

I haven't read this book, but I have heard a few people saying that it is a great book. I don't even know what it is about. But if I add reading this book to my never ending priorities, I'll only go crazy. I have seen two trailers of it and both seem very interesting. Ron Howard is the director. He seems to have a flair for adapting novels to movies. A very successful movie director, I should say. Looks like he studied at USC or something. He may still be giving guest lectures at UCLA or USC. Nice career, eh?

There is a hidden word in the above passage - what is it? Ha ha..not too difficult. It is rather silly!

What matters in life?

I haven't figured this out yet, but I can see that as I age, I do become aware of more and more things, as most of you would. The things that you cared about at 20, or the things that you believed in when you were 20 don't seem to matter that much when you approach 30. Your perspective has changed and it feels as though you knew nothing when you were 20. Does this mean that I still don't know anything or I would feel the same way when I am 40? That's a trick question. Then how am I supposed to lead my life now? What am I supposed to pursue? Should I follow the heart blindly or should I follow my mind? If I follow my mind, I run the risk of being shallow and pursuing something based on my current perception. On the other hand, if I follow my heart, there are great chances of ending up in a happy state. May be that's why they say one should follow his/her own heart. It is of course, easier said than done.

So, really, when do you get the enlightment? I feel like I know a lot more now. I feel that I have been very naive at pretty much every stage in my life until yesterday. So what the hell are you supposed to do? It is impossible to learn everything the world has to offer and lead your life based on the findings. There is probably a more fundamental truth, which applies to everything in this universe. Only if you follow that truth will you gain peace. It has to be true like that. Scott Adams has written a book called "God's debris". He offers an entirely new perspective on things and the way universe and God work. I think there is a lot of truth to what he has written. After all it is humans that think they are more intelligent than anything else. May be a rock sitting on a mountain is thinking the same thing - only over a period of million years when it would change its shape, location and mass. So on a bigger and longer scale, you could say that the rock is a living being. Only, we don't understand its language.

I truly believe that we are all created for a purpose. The rickshawman is created for a purpose; great presidents are created for a purpose; musicians are created for a purpose and so on. But what is it that I have been created to do? What's the purpose? Is it just to work, earn money, have kids and eventually fade off like I didn't exist? Or is it more than that? If so, I do want to know what it is. How can I find out what it is though? Should I read books or talk to people? Or should I follow my intuition? Or should I become very devotional and spiritual? Or should I just cut the crap and take it completely easy like a lot of people do? But the moment these thoughts occur to you, it is almost fair to say that you can't take it easy from then - you would keep pursuing it. Different people have such enlightments/epiphanies at different points in time. Of course, earlier the better.

When you have such epiphanies, they almost change you overnight. You begin to look at things in a completely new perspective. Everything in this universe has to fit the new equation you have formed for yourself. Everything has to be explained and seen through this lens. It still doesn't answer a lot of questions, but it is something to keep you occupied and lead your life. You know this is why ignorance is bliss. I have somehow had access to resources that have made me think like this. May a poor farmer or a peasant won't have to think like this. But I still believe that they all come to the same conclusions about life, at some point or the other. Except of course for anti social elements. They think their purpose is to screw up the peace and prosperity of other people. I don't quite fully understand them, but they also got to live. May be their purpose is to help normal people appreciate their own lives and appreciate the beauty of life. I could of course go on, but I choose not to at this point. May be I'll continue later.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Goldberg Variation No.1

I think I am getting much better at it, only after several years of attempt! I started out with this piece long back, mainly because I liked it musically and not for its technical content. It turned out to be pretty difficult to practice and get this piece to be played on the keyboard. It is almost as if Bach is teasing you with this composition. You won't believe how much work your left hand needs to do ON TOP of the already complex right hand part. So it has taken me quite a bit of time to get this thing. I gave my wife a big headache playing this over and over on Saturday. Not that I have completedly mastered it or perfected, but I was able to 'press' all the right notes at the right times with or without keeping the tempo. The first half of the song is somewhat easier for me to play. The second half is pretty difficult. It is very important to maintain the fingering for each note, otherwise you soon run out of fingers to play the rest of the notes. God only knows how he even composed such a thing - the piece itself is only about two minutes long at the most. Glenn Gould has created a couple of CDs just playing Bach's Goldberg variations. There are about 33 variations in all. May be 32, but you get the idea.

He has composed this entirely in the G scale. Of course he does the usual thing of jumping into other scales if he thought they might add to the aesthetics. On the whole, he must have had two brains if he had to compose this thing. He has a whole bunch of pieces like this - like the two part and the three part inventions, which he seemed to have composed exclusively to train his students. His students must have had one hell of a time with him! Ha. His family itself is very musical. He almost had an entire ensemble in his family. There were violinists, harpsichordists, organists and so forth all in the same family. Bach is Bach.

The 9th symphony started out to be a wonderful concert. I was just a tad disappointed towards the end, in the last movement, when I felt that the singers could have done a better job. 'Cause I have heard a better version of it at UCLA's Royce Hall once.

Things accomplished in the weekend

  • Went to the gym
  • Read a chapter from a book (that's how much I could do anyway)
  • Went for dinner at a friends' place yesterday
  • Attended the western classical concert (Beethoven's 9th symphony)
  • Met with friends for discussing the formation of a music band
  • did some office work
  • Visited the acupuncturist
  • Met another couple on Saturday night (after dinner...just to have some fun)
  • Practised playing keyboard (I've managed to finally put together Goldberg variation no.1)
  • Dropped off the vacuum cleaner for fixing the power cord

So that's almost 100% accomplishment. Not bad. I'll elaborate later.

Friday, December 09, 2005

This Weekend

It's already friday evening. Time for the next weekend and time for the weekend to get over two days later! This weekend's agenda:
  • Meet with some guys for the formation of some band
  • fix the vacuum cleaner power cord
  • attend Beethoven's 9th symphony in downtown :)
  • attend dinner at a friend's place on Sunday
  • Read books (this almost always never gets done)
  • Gym
  • Mail checks to couple of people
  • Check the finances
  • Visit acupuncturist
As usual, let me see what all gets accomplished. I am really looking forward for the concert - it is bound to be awesome. The rest is all logistics of life.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I'm disturbed

I'm in a disturbed state of mind. Looks like there are a lot of obstacles in life. You may yourself be responsible for creating those obstacles, I don't want to get into that. But still, there are certain things which continue to be very uncomfortable. When you seek freshness in your life, when you want to start all over, with new people, new surroundings, when you want to experiment with your life in a new kind of setting, how'd you like to have the same old stuff happening around you? I mean, how can you break away from that and concentrate on the new stuff that's happening? How can you get the space that you need around yourself? How could you shield yourself from this old crap that seems to never leave you alone?

I guess I should not let myself get affected 'cause of this. I can apparently choose not to get affected. I have to believe that it is solely in my hands and move forward like that. I shouldn't speak too much. I should concentrate on what I have been concentrating on, completely ignoring the old stuff. I have volunteered to help in organizing an Indian show. There is a fair chance that I will participate in that show. There are a couple of other shows that are tentatively planned. I have to somehow move forward, putting all the bad experiences that happened in past shows. How do I accomplish this? I consider myself a very frank person. I can't truly hide my emotions and put up a different face. I used to hold all the emotions and feelings within myself. Somehow, several years back, I became kind of good at saying 'no'. I adopted this don't care attitude towards several things 'cause I needed to be strong and safeguard myself against all these devilish things that happen around you all the time. Now, I feel that this openness sometimes gets in the way of a good relationship. But I really have to convey what I feel - in other words, I have to COMMUNICATE effectively. The first step towards that is to express what I feel and what I want so that I don't have to feel sorry for myself later on, for missing any nice opportunity. "At least I could have asked, or spoken" - this is precisely the thought I want to avoid. That is another byproduct of being pro active. But then, why do you have to constantly put up with all the obstacles? Is it then a good thing to give up? I have promised myself to work hard towards my goals. So I think that this is what working hard is all about - dealing with all the crap and finally emerging out of it. In an ideal world, of course a creative person could produce tons and tons of work. It is living in this imperfect world that is a challenge, not living itself.

Monday, December 05, 2005

This past weekend

Let me start out by saying what all I could accomplish out of the things that I had planned for:

Install DVD writer in the computer, after vacuuming the computer YES
Replace the power cord in the vacuum cleaner NO
Visit the acupuncturist NO
Go to the San Diego Photo Expo on Saturday NO
Host guests for Saturday's dinner YES
Attend a western classical concert on Sunday YES
Do some office work YES
Mail checks to CA, Friend 1 and Friend 2 NO

So, I had a success rate of 50%. What could I do? I had one unplanned lunch and some trips to grocery stores. I also had an unplanned DVD movie. BTW, the concert was great. Brahms symphony no.1 is quite amazing. The conductor chose a different tempo and mood, but overall, it came out amazingly well. The piece by bernstein wasn't that impressive. I guess I didn't understand all that much. Beethoven's Leonore overture no.3 was also great, needless to say. overall, it was an exciting afternoon.

Friday, December 02, 2005


is something I haven't tried much even though some people have suggested in the past. I picked up playing keyboard from my undergrad days. At that time, my goals were to play some of the best tunes of Ilayaraja. I always used to hum them, but wanted to take it a bit further. So, I started playing on my own. I am very glad that I did that 'cause I know so many others who might be much more talented but may not have taken their first step yet. As Julia Cameron says "The same age if you don't" in answering "Do you know what age will be when I can play the piano peacefully" :)

Coming to composing, I am somehow hell bent on believing the same Ilayaraja does - it should just happen and you can't make it happen.

"Isai enbadhu nigazhvadhu, nigazhthuvathu illai" - Isaignani

So going along the same lines, I need to feel the music in my mind before I can start mapping it on to the keyboard. Some others believe that composing can be learnt. I am not sure how effective that will be in the end. You can learn the tools to compose, but not composing itself - is my belief. I could be wrong. So where do I start. I should at least start playing some own tunes for my own hearing. I need not demonstrate it to others. I have to start doing this. I have been trying to do this in the last month, where I compose something for eight bars - they need not be the best tunes, but they are somewhat musical. I try to do a two-voice composition. I am using a lot of buzz words here, but don't be scared yet.

I have a friend who is an ardent music fan. It is a blessing that I ran into him and befriended him. He has a great sense of music and has the relative pitch firmly ingrained in his mind. He is now taking courses at the local colleges to further hone his musical knowledge and composing skills. He calls himself a new age composer. He hasn't played his compositions to me. Yesterday was the first time he played about 8 bars of his fugue composition. It was pretty good. It is amazing how he is able to compose in the 17th century style! Now, this whole thing gives me some hope or on the contrary puts me in a very uncomfortable situation. "Will I be able to do the same stuff". On the negative side, I have not had a formal training in Indian classical music in my childhood - childhood is the key here. Age simply goes against you when you try to make habits out of certain things, like remembering or identifying raagams and so forth. For my friend, identifying raagas and other things in a song is a piece of cake. He thrives doing such things. So, that's a major drawback. But, on the positive front, I can restrict myself to composing just in the major scale, which has spawned several compositions. One more note on the positive side is that I have great appreciation for music, admittedly not as much as my friend does.

So, what am I going to compose? I should try a reasonably long piece. I should try to get it in closed form. It is probably easier to improvise without having a theme. Having a theme is very important. The music should touch the listener's heart. The technicalities in the music should always stay below the grace. Grace is the ultimate thing in the music. Grace and the overall theme. Music is one hell of an art. It is magic how this thing has evolved over the years. It is a blessing.

Things to be done this weekend

This weekend's plans are also ambitious. Let me see if I can accomplish all of it:
  • Install DVD writer in the computer, after vacuuming the computer
  • Replace the power cord in the vacuum cleaner
  • Visit the acupuncturist
  • Go to the San Diego Photo Expo on Saturday
  • Host guests for Saturday's dinner
  • Attend a western classical concert on Sunday
  • Do some office work
  • Mail checks to CA, Friend 1 and Friend 2

Thursday, December 01, 2005


When am I going to direct a movie? Ha is some kind of a dream in a perfect world. Yeah, in a perfect world, why shouldn't I direct a movie? I'll by all means. Maniratnam's assistant Priya V is debuting with "Kanda Naal Mudhal". What an amazing experience that must have been. I've read a few reviews and they are all raving about the movie. Some of them mentioned that the movie sags a little bit in the climax. I'm extremely curious to find out what she has offered in the movie! I can't wait. I'm not worried or curious about anything in particular about the movie itself...all I care about is the direction, since she seems to have interened under Maniratnam. PC Sreeram is the cameraman. Of course he is the man for camera! His work speaks for itself. Most Mani's movies were cinematographed by PC. He is one creative genius. He plays with light. Light talks to him and tells him how it wants to be captured. He just obeys :)

So this guy Kartik is one of the heroes of this movie. He seems to have gotten married to the Mirchi Compere or somebody recently. He also happens to be a friend of a friend. He seems to be slowly going places in the tamil movie industry. Looks like he also worked under Maniratnam. I am pretty sure there is a long line to work under him, considering that he does only one movie in two years or so. Sometime back, there were rumours that he is going to direct another movie with Rajni. That'll be too much for people to take. May be he backed off from that plan.

Looks like "Sivaji" a movie starring Rajni and directed by Shankar has been launched in a simple and quiet ceremony. Should be amazing to watch, I'm pretty sure. Sivaji also happens to be Rajni's original name :) So the name has been chosen thoughtfully.

Too much seems to be happening in the movie industry. Or may be I am just noticing it now. Seems like a very exciting field to be in. Something happening all the time. They also say that you won't have good friends in the movie industry. May be that is true, considering that there are quite a lot of complaints on the dishonesty and hippocrisy of the movie people. Anyways, who cares about all this. It is all for personal satisfaction anyway.

May be I should start by writing a script. One script won't be enough to convince some producer. I should be ready with multiple scripts :) Chumma indha madri ezhuthavendidhaan. Yaar yaar ithai paarthu sirichundu irukkangalo!

It's December 1st already!

What kind of a vehicle does Time travel? Must be the fastest in the universe, 'cause you simply can't catch time and hold it still. It's been a year already since so many things! Last december we went to the bay area and to Vegas also. We had just returned from a very hectic three week trip to Chennai. I bought a house around that time. It's been a year man! I can't believe it. How did this year go so fast? Seriously? It's been three years since so many other things! It's almost time to make that New Year resolution. I don't usually make resolutions 'cause I don't wait for the New Year to make resolutions. New year doesn't mark much for me except for the excitement. May be that's what it marks for everyone. Anyways, I just wanted to write something. So there. See you later.