Random thoughts: Elmo vs RJA

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I visited my colleague's house again on Friday. Her daughter (she's 23, not 20, by the way) was quite glad to see me, again. She kept talking to me in gibberish from the minute she saw me, and jumping around the room on her matchbox-sized feet. The word sweet doesn't do justice to her.

My joy was short-lived, though. She dumped me for Elmo soon after. I guess it's hard for a 26-year-old guy in a suit to compete with a red furry monster with a girl's voice. *sigh*

(Observation for the day: If you have a cup of hot - and I mean scalding hot - soup in your hand, and the cup contains a stirrer that you put in it to keep the instant soup mix from settling to the bottom of the cup, try to remember that the stirrer is not a thin straw, even though it functions pretty well as one. Because that's not why you put it there. And scalding hot liquid rushing through a thin plastic cylinder to the middle of your tongue... I think you get the idea.

Do you think it's okay to put burn ointment on your tongue?

Ppppppppffffffttt. Yuck. I think not.)

Of Samsonite and The Lylah

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Apparently, Samsonite makes Tripods for cameras. I know, coz a close friend recently bought one cheap.

(Yes, that's the only reason I have the word 'Samsonite' in the title of this blog. So sue me. Picking a title for a blog is no easy task. And it's easier to talk about Samsonite, rather than Sam's Son. Ok? So there)

We had our first snow Monday. Was pretty cool. Not for drivers, but we've got a cool view from the office. So was it nice to watch the snow settle on the firs outside.

Went to a colleague's house for dinner too, that day. It's nice to eat desi homemade food when you don't have cook it. But having to watch Sun TV, on the other side of the planet from Chennai, isn't. And I'm not really interested in knowing that some chap who looks like the son of your local paan-ki-dukaan-waala (Indian road-side tobacconist) married Rajnikant's daughter last month. So I guess Rajnikant's daughter now looks like the daughter-in-law of your local paan-ki-dukaan-waala.

And as if Sun TV itself isn't enough, I had to watch this 14-year-old female called Lylah play coy when the 25-something hero of the movie danced around her. I also had to fend off the question "Don't you think she's good looking?" while I was being fed Puris (a deep-fried Indian bread item). Choking on Puris isn't a very nice experience, let me tell you. Of course, being treated to a second glass of Badam Milk (Almond flavoured milk) is. But did they really expect me to believe that this Lylah's married and has two kids?

Speaking of kids, my colleague's got two children too. The younger one is a girl. She's 20. Fell for me instantly. I guess it must be the glasses. She probably couldn't resist a man with metal on his nose. She was all over me, all evening.

Of course, I know it won't last. Women tend to change their opinion about me past the age of 36 months.


Well, that's life.

But things are definitely getting interesting, with at least one large Indian company starting an internal matrimonial portal for its employees.

Return Of The... King? : Celestial Conversations - XV

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: House-hunting: Celestial Conversations - XIV
God: Hello?
Me: Hello! And where have you been?
God: Oh, up and around.
Me: Really.
God: Finally found a place to stay, by the way.
Me: Oh, great! So Heaven's back in business, eh?
God: Well, not exactly.
Me: Oh? What's wrong now?
God: See, I'm living in a studio.
Me: What? Heaven's a studio apartment?
God: It's not exactly heaven, right? It's what you people call a stop-gap arrangement. Some place to rest my head till I find more permanent accomodation.
Me: Oh. That way. So everyone's still in Hell?
God: Yes. It's becoming a bit of an embarrassment, really. It seems they can't really hold their drink very well.
Me: Abstinence doesn't help tolerance much, I guess.
God: No, it doesn't.
Me: Hmmm.
God: In fact, Luci's even lodged a complaint.
Me: Luci?
God: Yeah. You know. Luci.
Me: Oh. You mean The D-, I mean, him?
God: Yeah.
Me: Oh. Complaint against whom?
God: David
Me: David?
God: Yeah. Apparently, he challenged Goliath to a wrestling match.
Me: He did?
God: Without his sling.
Me: Oh.
God: Yeah. Luci says he isn't responsible for the health of my people.
Me: Is he okay?
God: He wishes he were dead.
Me: But he is dead.
God: Exactly.
Me: Ah.
God: Yeah. Quite embarrassing. But not as embarrassing as a 90-year-old nurse doing the pole-dance.
Me: 90-year-old nurse? Who?
God: Florence.
Me: Nightingale?
God: Yup.
Me: That can't have been pretty.
God: Interesting choice of words. Anyway. I have to go. Have an appointment with my landlord in a few minutes.
Me: Oh. See you later, then.
God: Yeah. Bye.
Me: Bye.

Next: God's Will? : Celestial Conversations - XVI

So you think you get too much spam?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Until a couple of months ago, when my company implemented some really cool spam filters, I was getting upwards of 70 spam emails a day. I thought that was bad enough.

Now imagine getting 4 million emails everyday, most of which (of course) are spam.

I'm not kidding. That's how much spam Bill Gates gets. Poor guy. I wonder if he uses gmail... Maybe I should send him an invite.

Nice Guys

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
After spending quite some time ranting about (or listening to rants about) how girls go for all the wrong guys, it's nice to see a girl agreeing with you. And not just agreeing with you. I mean knowing exactly what you mean, and taking the words right out of your mouth.

Fu-zu Jen wrote the following piece as a student for the Wharton Undergraduate Journal. It brings tears to my eyes...

This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining and bitching about what assholes guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on but restrain themselves to tentative hugs, those guys who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores... Click here to read more

Thanks Megha for the link!

Men live in bars and Women don't have a...

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I always wanted to write about this. It's a thought that came from the results of a survey held in UK around July last year. Unfortunately, I can't currently find the article where I read about this survey, so you'll just have to take my word (yes, My word) for it.

The results of the survey, were as follows
  1. Women who had been in a larger number of relationships were more depressed than women who had been in fewer relationships. That is, women who had remained with their first love, were happiest. And women who had a larger number of men in their past, were more depressed about the failed relationships.
  2. We men, on the other hand are... you know... Men. The fewer a man's past relationships, the less happy he was. Whereas men who had been in a larger number of relationships, were happier.
This means that, whereas a woman would prefer to fall in love with and spend the rest of her life with exactly one man in her whole life, a man is generally happier to play around.

The only conclusion I can derive from the results of this survey, is that - Maybe men and women are not really meant for each other.

Interesting thought, hmmm?

Disclaimer: The above-mentioned survey was conducted in a country that uses really innovative ways to reduce its teenage pregnancy rate.

I'm Chandler?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I was checking out Dumbs' blog yesterday, and a friend pointed out that the "I'm Chandler" link is actually a test out there created by a guy called stomps that tells you which F.R.I.E.N.D.S. character you are most like, based on your answers to some questions there. So you take the test and then he asks you to put some HTML on your site/blog/homepage that tells the world what he thinks. So here it is.

I'm Chandler Bing from Friends!

Now I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again - I don't believe in the results of Personality tests. So, I've got my own opinion about which friends character I'm most like. And I came to this conclusion back in April this year.

I, am Ross Geller. Why?

Well, given my track record, it is highly probable that:

1. If I ever do get married my wife will realise that she is a Lesbian.
2. The woman who marries me will only do so if she is completely drunk.

Also, look at some of Ross's personality quirks:

1. Ross is a geek.
So am I.

2. He comforts Rachel when she breaks up with most of her boyfriends, and specially Paulo.
I am often in the position of being "A shoulder to cry on" for women who are having trouble with their boyfriends or ex-boyfriends.

3. Rachel tells Ross that she is off guys after she breaks up with Paulo.
Most single women tend to say that to me.

4. When Joey falls for Rachel, after initially being shocked Ross tells Joey that he should tell Rachel how he feels. And that if Rachel feels the same way then that's up to them, and Ross shouldn't have a say in it.
I have the same "Aa bail mujhe maar" (translates to inviting a bull to come and hit you without the training of a matador) attitude.

5. When Joey's girlfriend Charlie (who Ross likes) tells Ross she thinks she should break up with him since he's not intelligent or a paleontologist (which Ross is), Ross encourages her to stay with him, inspite of his own interests.
See (4)

6. Rachel gets a job in Paris and Ross tries to make sure that she can stay in New York. Even after everything is arranged, when he sees that she wants to go to Paris, he tells her she should go.
See (4) and (5)

So there.

So, what is it that women want, again?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: ,
When I was in my teens, my mom used to ask me "Why can't you be like other boys?"

Instead of playing Cricket in the parking lot of my apartment building, like the other boy kids - and some girl kids too - I'd be happy to sit at home with a book (preferably Isaac Asimov). If not with a book, you'd find me at my computer, attempting to write a computer game using QBasic. (And I finally did. Two. Naughts and Crosses, and a much simpler version of Space Invaders - Level 1)

And it wasn't just my mom. All the women in my life seemed to say the same thing. All four aunts. They expected me to have a girlfriend, "like all boys today have". Yeah, right. They expected me to workout, play sports, build muscles, and beat up other boys my age in the neighbourhood (No, they're not sadistic. This was considered a preferred alternative to being bullied by kids who played sports, built muscles, and beat up other people.)

The fact that I couldn't be bothered to remember the names of all eleven members of the Indian Cricket team and the twelfth man, and the waterboy and their families, or know what exact flavour and brand of bubble gum Sachin Tendulkar chewed, surprised a pretty large number of people.

Well, now I've grown up (or so I'd like to think). I play video games that involve blowing holes through 49 armed men at a time with a Kalashnikov Rifle. I prefer to keep my clothes in a pile beside my bed after I do the laundry instead of putting them away (Because I prefer to fold them before putting them away, and I'm too lazy to do that). I can spend 4 hours at an electronics store without buying anything (just like I can spend the same amount of time in a library without deciding which book I want to take home). And, I prefer waking up when the sun is directly above you, instead of when it rises.

And you know what women say now? They crinkle up their nose, give me a dirty look, and say "You men are all the same!"

I guess you can never win...

Why would anyone continue to use IE?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Firefox, The Mozilla browser that's been making waves recently, is eating into Internet Explorer's share in the browser market. As someone who's been using - as my browser of choice - Mozilla since 2001 (milestone builds that didn't even have a version number), and Firefox since version 0.6, I am not surprised.

Except for the odd website that is still too outdated to be standards compliant, the World Wide Web works great on Firefox. And, it's safer.

You know all those Popups that keep bothering you on almost every website on the net? It's irritating to have to close them all the time, isn't it? And what about all the spyware - programs like search toolbars - that seem to get installed on your computer without you ever doing anything? Have you made a habit of reformatting your harddisk every few months just to deal with it?

Well, with Firefox, you do not need to worry about that. Popups are disabled on Firefox. But for some reason if you want them to work on a particular website, it's a matter of a couple of clicks to get them to work, and if you want, you can make them work only for that website.
Firefox is more secure. So no more crazy toolbars being installed on your PC without your permission.

I only ever use IE for the company intranet site, which is hardwired to IE.

So I was quite stunned to see that IE still has more than 92% of the market share. It would make sense if alternate browsers were large and heavy to download, and difficult to install.
But Firefox is just a 4.5 MB download! On dialup, that means around 30 minutes to download it - assuming you were doing some surfing on IE in the meanwhile - and a two minute install.
With broadband, it takes all of 5 minutes to download and install Firefox on your PC.

My stats show that almost 75% of people who read this blog are using IE. That's 3 out of 4 people who are using the wrong browser! Why?

Get Firefox today.

Get Firefox!

Even its preview release is a lot more secure than IE. And a lot more usable. You will like what you see.

Warning: Usage of Firefox for extended periods of time causes an aversion to the IE browser. You might never be able to use a PC without Firefox, again.

Vote for Count Dracula!

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
It's election day here in the US. After today, the United States of America will have a new president. And it will be Count Dracula!

If www.ancestry.com is to be believed, both George W. Bush and John Kerry are descendants of Prince Vlad III of Wallachia - Count Dracula - himself, and are ninth cousins twice removed.

So, whatever the outcome of today's elections, expect to hear something like this in the near future:

Ken Starr: Mr President, did you in fact suck blood from the neck of Ms Johnsonsky?
President: No, I zeed not.
Ken Starr: Are you saying that you did not in fact suck blood from the neck of Ms Johnsonsky?
President: Yez, zat eez vat I am saying.
Ken Starr: So you are denying the allegation, Mr President?
President: Yez. I 'av nevair sucked ze blud from Ms Johnsonsky's neck.
Ken Starr: Are you sure, Mr President?
President: Ov course, I'm sure! I nevair suck ze blud from ze neck. I prefer to suck from ze throat.

Firefox 1.0 - Any time now

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Back in 1998, something wonderful happened to this world. Netscape released the source code of their browser. And thus Mozilla was born.

Today, six years later, Mozilla is at version 1.7.3, and Mozilla's new browser - Firefox - is just a few days away from 1.0. Not that 1.0 matters to users like me. Firefox has been stable for months now.

It's light (a 4.5MB download), has a search bar (No need to go to google.com - other search sites also supported - when you want to search. Just type the keyword into Firefox's search box, and it takes you to Google's results directly), it allows you to surf multiple sites in the same browser window using a Tabbed interface, is extensible (like getting a tiny icon in your status bar to let you know that you have new email in your gmail account, or control your MP3 player from within Firefox), blocks popups by default, and is Web-developer-friendly (has neat tools like the Javascript Console, and the DOM Inspector). And of course, it supports Themes. So if you think you like Firefox but want it to look like IE (but not behave like it, of course), well, that's possible too.
And even that, isn't the half of it.

Get Firefox!

So, click on the image above (or the one in my sidebar) to check out Firefox today and get on the bandwagon. You might begin to wonder how you've been managing with IE all this time.

IT, then BPO, now Farming

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
First, India exported her software engineers around the world to let them implement software systems in different countries. Then we started the whole offshoring thing to bring those jobs back home.

Then, we did BPO. Of course, this time the basic intention was the bring jobs home.

Now, it's farming. Wonder if they expect them to bring the farms back home...

(Ok, ok, this is a silly post. But I guess I'm feeling quite silly right now. It's 2:30 am)

I can't believe I'm doing this

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Remember how I'm always saying that it ticks me off when people put my story up on the net without giving me any credit for it?
Well, I found out about yet another one of these. But there's a twist. And maybe because "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" (I'm assuming they liked it, but then assumption is the mother of all f- ... you know), they decided to make a not-so-mega-serial out of it.

My constitution is a little too weak to read the whole thing, but that's probably just me.

So if anyone can go through the whole thing, could you let me know if it's a happy ending? Just that. I'd rather not know the details. Maybe someday. But not right now. Ok?

Updated 15 Nov 2004: Removed link to the mega-serial, based on a request by the author(s). I would like to point out that this is not because I'm backing down from my stand on the unauthorized use of my work. I'm only giving in to a request by the author(s) to allow their work to remain private - even if "private" means being able to find the site using MSN Search using the first few words from my story...

Updated 13 Dec 2004: ... or via links the authors left behind on the comments to this post.

HP Customer Service Rocks!

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
10/20 - Wednesday evening: I call HP, and complain about my Laptop power adapter which has a lose connection with the connector at the back of my laptop, so it doesn't charge 80% of the time. Have to wedge something between the adapter plug and the table surface to keep it stuck in place, and even then it's a struggle to get it to work. The customer service representative at 1-800-HP-Invent takes down my problem details, my address, and offers to have FedEx pick up the laptop "tomorrow". I ask if I need to back up my data and he says "Yes, they will re-image your hdd, so do take a backup of all your data." Before I have a chance to protest that I've got 6 months worth of installations and data and customizations on the system, he says "Well, actually since this is a power problem, you can just remove your hdd before sending it." And then he tells me exactly how to do that. And it's really quite a breeze to do it. I arrange a pickup for Friday since it's my responsibility to pack it up properly in "3-inches of industry standard packaging material like Bubble-wrap" and a box. Plus, he offers to have it collected from office. Which is good for me. And I'm not being charged anything yet. The guy reads out the terms and conditions which say that though I'm under warranty, if the fault is found to be because of damage done by me, then they would confirm my method of payment before carrying out repairs, which is reasonable.

10/22 - Friday afternoon: FedEx picks up my laptop. I'm thinking that since HP will only get the laptop on Monday morning (next business day on overnight shipping), and the CSR said the laptop would be returned to me in 5-7 business days, I wouldn't have the laptop for two weekends.

10/25 - Monday evening: I check the email address I gave them, and I have acknowledgement of the laptop being received. Also, they say it's coming back Thursday. I'm overjoyed, since I didn't expect it back that fast. No FedEx tracking info yet, since the status says it's not shipped yet.

10/26 - Tuesday morning: I get a call from my office reception saying my Laptop is back!

Boy am I overjoyed! They fixed my problem, my laptop works flawlessly, and all in a matter or 2 business days! HP Rocks!


on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I was watching Baby's Day Out today. Has anyone out there realised that the baby's nanny in the movie is played by Cynthia Nixon, who also plays Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City?

Now that caught me by surprise.

I mean, yes, Miranda is probably the most likeable of the four (Charlotte is cute, but dumb), but I still can not picture her as a Nanny!


In the movie, the nanny is closer to the baby than the mother. Which is probably natural if taking care of the baby is the nanny's job. I mean if all that the mother does is say Hello to the kid at meal times, or kiss it good night, then of course the kid is going to be attached to the Nanny, with the mother simply being known as the person called "Mom".

I don't think I would be okay with the idea of giving the charge of my children to a nanny. Raising a child is what makes parents, parents. You can't outsource that.

Yes, I know. Wait till it's my turn, and my wife wants to go back to work after having the baby. Then I'll know.
But then maybe I'll quit my job and stay home to take care of my children (of course, if I'm the one who has to stay home, I'll probably stop at one kid). I've been thinking about making writing my profession. Then I could stay home, right? Going by the hit rate this blog invites, I'd probably be able to afford to buy a bottle of milk every month on my earnings. And that's if I'm optimistic. Still, being among the top ten on Sulekha's "Best Authors" list must count for something, no?

I've also been learning to cook over the past few days, so I think I might be gearing myself to be a good housewife... Made good Dal under supervision on Friday, and edible, though a little high on the red chilli Potato-Cabbage curry (don't ask me what that means. I was out of vegetables) today.
And I can make rice too. So I think I can survive.

Oh, who am I kidding? If I cooked regularly, the whole family would end up with food-poisoning.

Withdrawal symptoms

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
My personal laptop was giving problems (would not charge even when plugged in, unless I was holding the power adapter's connector in place) and so I had to send it off to California today. Luckily, I'm still covered under the first year warranty. They said they'd return it in 5-7 business days. Which means I don't get to see it for a couple of weekends.

Luckily, I still have my office laptop and so my new broadband connection won't be wasted all that much.

Still, I miss the darn thing. It's got the huge 15.4 inch wide screen giving me a lot more screen space, specially when I've got the sidebar turned on in Firefox (which means, always).
And the larger keyboard is kinder to my poor fingers. I've got to type with practically two fingers on this IBM Thinkpad T21.

I guess what I really want is a desktop...

The Making of "Just Another Love Story"

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Warning: This blog might not interest you unless you've read and like my story Just Another Love Story.

Going by the attention that my story Just Another Love Story has generated, and the number of people who have thought that it's my "own love story", I thought I should write about the birth of the story and what it was before it ended up in its current state.
And, hey, it's another reason to blog :)

It was early October 2003, and I was in New York. (Yes, already in New York, not in Chennai). Since I was living in Secaucus and working in Manhattan, commutation to and from work everyday involved taking a 10 minute walk to the bus stop, catching a bus to Port Authority Bus Terminal (Times Square - 40th or 41st street), catching the number 7 subway train to Grand Central and finally the number 4 or 6 trains to 32nd street which dropped me a block from my office building on Park Avenue. Same thing on the way back. (Except in reverse, of course)

One day as I was returning home, I was not sitting with my roommate (probably because both of us wanted a window seat that day), and the seat next to mine was occupied by a nice looking girl in a suit and carrying a blackberry. I was tempted to start a conversation, to find out what the blackberry was (I'd never seen one before) if for nothing else. But, I didn't. I preferred to sleep instead. Travelling to and from Manhattan does tire one out.

The ride lasts around 30-40 minutes in the evening before the first stop, and if I remember correctly the bus driver dims the lights in the bus to allow people to take a short nap. People who intend to read can turn on their personal lights.

A few minutes into the ride, when I was awake and was looking out the window, she asked me if I could put my light on. Her light wasn't enough to see her blackberry with. Or it was something like that. Can't remember the exact reason she spoke to me, but it was about the light above my head. Anyway.
So we got talking about what the little PDA-like thingy was, and other stuff. A comfortable conversation, that lasted till I got off the bus.

That was the end of that story.

A couple of weeks later, (I assume it was later, though it could have been earlier, in which case the last few paragraphs would be unconnected to the rest of this post - though I don't really think that's true), I had got a hold of the song "As I Lay Me Down" by Sophie B Hawkins. I'd never heard this one before, though I'd heard one other song of hers.
I fell in love with the song instantly. It was sweet, simple, and so positive, that I must have heard it 8-10 times the next morning on my way to the office (on my MP3 player). I believe while I was in the bus to Port Autority, I came up with the idea of JALS, though I'd pictured it a little differently. (But the important thing is that it was while listening to the song umpteen times that I came up with the initial idea for the story. It's the one that inspired the story! Do listen to the song if you like slow but foot-tapping sweet music. Of course, my brother loves Heavy Metal, and even he loves the song, so try it either way.)
As soon as I reached office, I started writing. Considering that I do have to work while I'm in the office, it took me the whole day to pen the first two thousand words. And it had an ending that I scratched out as soon as I had finished it. It was that bad.
And, the story had started out quite differently too. The first sentence itself was pointed in a different direction. The earliest version of the story that I can locate, began with "It all started on a lovely December morning in the hottest city in the world" as opposed to "It was a lovely December morning in the hottest city in the world". Because when I started penning the story, I'd intended to meet Preeti Mehra for the first time in the bus itself. And I'd originally written something like "On this particular day, a new girl got on the bus" and not "a girl got on the bus". Of course, the second I'd finished that sentence I scratched out the "new" and decided that I must already know her, or she just wouldn't come up and say "Hello". Things like that don't happen to me. Of course, I was also feeling too lazy to dream up a reason for starting a conversation. (No, I couldn't use the real life example. The story was based in Chennai. We don't use Blackberrys in Chennai.)

In fact, in the earliest version that I currently can locate (dated November 13th 2003), Preeti actually used to try to get me introduced to other girls.
If there were a girl I was interested in, she’d do her best to make sure I got an introduction. In spite of her best efforts, though, I was still single. I think she tried too hard. Girls never get romantically interested in a "Nice Guy".

The point I'm trying to make is that as I get farther down the story, a lot of stuff I've already written, becomes inconsistent with the stuff I'm writing. I have a basic idea about the plot, but haven't really decided where the characters are going to end up. I think it's because at some level they begin to have a life of their own, and I just have to let them live it out!

Anyway, so at that point I was also reminiscing about my first published article "Rants Of A Single Guy! " which had been published on Sulekha less than three months previously.

The first ending, was all teary eyed, and "I love you", "Oh I love you too!" "boo hoo hoo", and so on. I hated it before I'd finished it, and as soon as I was done, I selected the last paragraph, and sort of seperated it from the rest of the document (I use MS Word), putting the comment "Pathetic Alternative ending" or something like that. I wish I had a copy of that document. (Even in its current version, the anguish levels keep increasing from the point where he finds out he loves her, to the point where he says "I don't want to go.")
Anyway. So I started again at the point where they are sitting at the airport and he's about to blurt it out. This time, I went more or less like the current version of the story, except that I stopped with "And that moment, my dear friends, was magic."

It stayed that way for a day or two, I think. It wasn't feeling complete. Too many things were unresolved. I hadn't even started the second draft yet, to iron out the kinks. But that wasn't what was bothering me. What was bothering me was that it seemed too cruel to have them spend only a couple of hours with each other before being separated for two whole years. (Even if it was only an exaggeration of something that happened with a friend of mine - 4 days and then 8 months).
So then I added the bit where she's the one who's been scheming, and is coming to New York after him. Once I'd done that, the story did seem complete.

So I left it that way for a few weeks. These early versions with small changes made every few days, were seen by a few of my friends - in all their inconsistency. She introduces him to other girls while she's pining away for him. How selfless! She's very tomboyish but gets quite droopy in between.
So the initial "Tomboyish" became "Slightly Tomboyish". She didn't introduce him to other girls, she took him to the opera.

The feedback until then had been positive, but I knew as a reader, that the story wasn't that good, so I was looking for some real critics. I showed it to a couple of more friends. One who always praises anything I write (she's one of the reasons I actually wrote Rants, and submitted it to Sulekha), and one who tends to be a little more frank about her opinion. (You've got to have balance. Only criticism would have killed my intentions of showing the story to anyone, for sure.)
The first one, of course, came back saying "I was glued to my monitor for the entire 3000+ words!" and the second one came back saying "It's nice, but I liked your first article better". So I probed and she verbalized my exact feelings about the story in its current state. That it left too many open issues. There were a number of things that could be interpreted in more than one way, and have the reader say "But if he did that two paragraphs ago, why is he doing this now?". Or general stuff about characterization.
The argument against these kinds of questions, is that people are inconsistent by nature. That people actually do things that you can't explain. And, of course, sometimes it's a bad idea to tell the reader everything. Doesn't leave much to the imagination.
Which is why I'd not bothered to tie up all the lose ends. But hearing the same concerns outside of my own head, made me realise that they might be important enough to tie up. Still, I didn't touch the story for another couple of weeks, till around 17th December 2003. And even then, I only updated it because...

Wait. Gotta have a bit of a flashback.

On November 13, 2003, I decided that I wanted to preserve a version of the story somewhere online, so that even if I lost my harddisk, or anything like that, I'd be able to get my hands on the last version. So I uploaded it as a Private contribution on Sulekha. Which meant no one but I could see it. (I hadn't got into the blogging scene at that time)
The problem, was that Private contributions on Sulekha weren't working very well. So, though I could upload the story, I couldn't see it, or download it.
I wrote to Sulekha with my problem and the editor responded with an email (they used to be very prompt at that time) asking me to send the Word document to her and that she'd upload it for me. I complied, stating very clearly that the version I was sending her was only a draft (might have used the caps lock here), and that it was only supposed to go as a Private contribution. I didn't want it put up for public view when I knew it wasn't really complete. I'm normally quite nervous about anything I write that is supposed to be a serious piece of literature before it becomes public to the whole bloody world. The next mail from her was one telling me they'd work on the Private contributions issue, but that until then I could post it as a Private Weblog. I more or less ignored this mail, making a mental note to myself to try that some day. That was November 17th.

Now, coming back to the 17th of December. Swapna (then editor of Sulekha) wrote me a mail saying
Hey Rajesh,

Nice story there.
I want to publish it on Sulekha next week.
If the final draft is ready, please send it across to me at the earliest.

Swapna Vijay

PS: Sounds very autobiographical. If I am right, I suppose Preeti must be busy baking cakes for you..:)

So. She'd read my story. She liked it so much that she didn't even wait for me submit it! You can imagine that my ego was bloated. By quite a bit. Until then I'd decided to submit it for the Love Story contest I knew they'd be having around Valentine's day. (It's really difficult to come up with a story on demand, even if they give you a whole month. I'm not Asimov, you know).
But I was so delighted that someone who was an editor of a popular online magazine had actually asked me if she could use my story - for someone like me, that's like an offer to publish my book - that I changed my mind, and decided that I would send the latest copy to her so that she could publish it the next week. And of course, she thought it sounded realistic, which meant that the holes in the story couldn't really be that big.

So, I picked up the story again, and for the next day, went through it again and again, ironing out more kinks, removing paragraphs which made the story inconsistent, and then putting other paragraphs back while maintaining the continuity of the story, adding lines in between which explained a couple of more as yet unexplained things, and so on.
The next day, I sent the story to two more friends asking for an immediate review. One who I think had seen an earlier version, and one hadn't. Both different kinds of people. Both of whom I didn't think would be that hugely impressed by any story that fell into the category of a "love story". The guy loved it. Which was surprising. Did not expect that kind of response from him. The girl - she'd read the earlier version - asked me to change one or two words which sounded wrong (I'd had them in mind, but wanted to know if anyone else noticed them, since I couldn't think of what to replace them with). Changed one. The other is still in there. Any guesses? ;)
She also told me what parts of the story she especially liked - like the conversation in the beginning where he wants to sleep and she wants to talk - and so my confidence in the story increased. I'd been biting my nails (metaphorically, of course) until then.
So, finally, with fingers on both hands crossed, (and typing with your hands in that state is not easy) I sent the story to Sulekha with the title "Yet Another Love Story". Simply because I couldn't think of a better title that did not give the ending away.
Swapna complained that there was already a story with that name on the site. So I had to think of another one. (I'd complained about their changing the title of my first article from "Rants from a nice guy" to "Rants of a single guy" without asking me, so I guess she decided let me do it this time.) She said she would think of something too.

While I came up with:
Yet Another 'Yet Another Love Story' (which I thought was funny)
Yet Another Love Tale (Ew)
Tale of Love (I hated this even while I suggested it)
Not Another Love Story! (which is what I'd thought of the first time I started writing the story, except that I thought many people might not understand the significance of the "Another" in italics. And that that might give them the wrong idea.)
Oh No! Not Another Love Story! (which was a remedy to the problems with the previous title, but had too many exclamations.)
One More Love Story (which I might have used if a brainwave hadn't given me the next idea)
Just Another Love Story (which I really liked)

She came up with:
Way to a man's heart (which I hated, of course)

So on the 20th of December, we decided on Just Another Love Story.

And that's how the story came to be! :)

Good Bye Dave Barry, Hello Dave Glardon!

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
A friend introduced me to Dave Glardon today. I'm guessing he's not remotely as popular as Dave Barry, but he's definitely quite funny.
Ok, so his webpage creation skills need a lot of refinement. But who cares, really?

Try him out. I'm sure you'll like his columns.



on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Four months less two days from the day I submitted my story to Sulekha, and I finally get published. And I'm left wondering if it was even worth the wait...

Will You Marry Me?

Settling down

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I finished moving into my new apartment on Saturday morning, but was travelling on the weekend and so only slept there the first time on Sunday night.
No phone, no internet access, and no movie channels for another week.

I tried latching on to someone's wireless network but the signal was very low, and only connected from one spot in the house.
So, just playing video games on the laptop for now.

This blog will be back. Very soon.


on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
And this is really D-uh!

I'd wondered for a long time what the name of the Times of India cartoon Dubyaman, was supposed to refer to. I'd suspected for quite a long time that Dubya is George Bush, but I had no idea why.

Today, as the result of a brainwave, I decided to ask Google. (Tubelight? I would tend to agree).

Searching Google for "define:dubya" tells you that Dubya is George W. Bush, a.k.a W, a.k.a dubyuh (pronounce W with an American accent), a.k.a Dubya. Simple, eh? Downright ass-brained...


Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I've had one false start, so don't want to celebrate too soon, but Sulekha told me yesterday (and this is the second time for this particular submission) that they'd love to publish my story. Hopefully they'll give me a date soon. Let's see.

I got an apartment!

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Finally, after spending one full month month and one day in this Godforsaken place, I leased an apartment today! Finally, I can relax. Yes, the apartment complex doesn't have a gym or a swimming pool, and I'm paying the moon for it, but the place is nice, and cozy, and big enough to share with two to three other people. So at this time, I'm rejoicing. :)

Once I get broadband, hopefully, this blog will pick up on content again...

Will you...?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Remember that story I keep saying I submitted to Sulekha years ago? (Ok, so it's been only 15 weeks). Well I've been following up on it, and they've asked me to re-submit it at least three times now. And I've still had no confirmation for the last two weeks.

Maybe it's the title of the story - "Will You Marry Me?".

The editor is female, and sometimes I just wish she'd say 'No' and get it over with...


on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: ,
This was initially supposed to be a comment to this post. But then it got too long (once-you-start-just-can't-stop-syndrome).

The first time someone called me "Uncle" was when I was 17. I didn't shave much then. Once in two weeks was a big thing I guess. (I was probably of the opinion that God gave me facial hair for a reason).

I was at my aunt's place, which is a ground floor apartment, and the colony kids playing outside would sometimes come over to her place and ask for a glass of water. This particular day, I opened the door. The kid - not more than seven years old - took one look at me and said "Uncle, pani chahiye." (Uncle I want water).

Now even at 5'10" and the moustache and some semblance of an unshaved beard, I hardly looked like an "Uncle".
With him was a kid who must have been about four. I looked straight into the older kid's eyes and kept staring for what must have seemed to him like an eternity.
Slowly, I said, "Kya bola?" (What did you say?)
He was obviously scared, but had no idea what he was supposed to be scared about.
There was a pause of about ten seconds, and he started backing away. "Kuchh nahin" (Nothing), he said, and started going back to look for other oases.
If he ran away, he'd never know what he had done wrong. So, I stopped him. "Wait," I said.
He stopped, and looked at me trying to avoid my eyes.
"You want water?" I asked.
The kid nodded.
All this time, the little one had no idea what was going on, and I was avoiding him completely. He was too short anyway, and I would have to crane my neck too much to look at him.
So I went to the kitchen and got two glasses of water.
As I handed the glasses to both of them, I turned my attention to the older one again.
"What did you call me?" I asked.
Slowly, as if he wasn't sure it was the right answer, he replied, "Uncle?"
I was seventeen! These kids called my cousins, who were three and five years older than me, "Bhaiyya"! (Literally meaning "Older brother" but used to refer to any male who's much older and so definitely not a "friend", but not old enough to be an "Uncle")
"Main Uncle lagta hoon?" (Do I look like an Uncle?)
He started nodding yes, but then mid-nod he probably realized that that might be the wrong answer, and so he stopped. And kept looking at me - as if trying to make up his mind.
"Main Uncle lagta hoon?" I asked again.
The glass of water in his hands was untouched. But the little one had drained his and was trying to give the empty glass back to me. He was pointing into the glass in such a way to indicate that he wanted more. Not much of a speaker, that one. Wonder what he'd have called me.
I went back into the kitchen and got some more water. When I returned, the older kid had drained his glass too.
"Aur chahiye?" (Want more?) I asked him.
This time his answer was a definite "No" nod.
"Ok", I said, "lekin yeh batao, kya main Uncle lagta hoon?" (but tell me, do I look like an Uncle?)
I could almost see his face say "Damn!"
The part of him that believed in the "survival of the ones with best judgement" theory, tried to nod "No". But the other part of him that believed in scientific and objective analysis of available data before reaching a conclusion, tried not to nod at all. Which finally ended in a slight shake of the head that was an answer without any specific meaning.
"Uncle lagta hoon kya?" (Do I look like an Uncle?) I repeated.
The little one was trying to reach up and return the glass to me. Having achieved his objective, he started walking away, completely unaware of the gravity of the situation.
The older one tried to follow him too, but I wasn't having any of that.
"Thehro," (Wait) I said.
The kid looked at me again, trying to come to terms with the fact that getting out of this didn't seem easy.
"Main Uncle nahin hoon," (I'm not an Uncle) I said simply.
The kid apparently didn't know what to make of that statement. The look on his face was similar to what the expression on a mathematician's face might be if someone said "Two and two is not four."

"Main Uncle nahin hoon," I repeated.
This still failed to evoke any response.

"Call me Bhaiyya," I said.

At this, the kid's eyes opened wide, as he realized what the point of the entire conversation (or monologue) had been. He lips widened just a bit to show the beginnings of a smile and then, knowing that I was only a Bhaiyya, he just ran away.

I stood there for a few seconds looking at the empty spot where the kid had been, and began turning away to close the door when the smaller one turned up once more. "Thank you, uncle" he said, and disappeared again.

And at twenty-three, women used to tell me that I was too young. Is there any justice in this world?

Coffee Maker?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I was just looking at the list of links on the right side of my blog, and realized that the fiction section at first glance, could seem to read - "In the hands of the coffee maker"
He he! I feel another blog coming on...

The Magical Powers Of A Ringtone!

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: ,
Cellphone Ringtones can now get your attention in more ways than one. Apparently, a Japanese man named Hideto Tomabechi, has come up with a new ringtone that is supposed to, get this, enhance the breasts of those who listen to it!

I mean, really! The guy claims that it's based on scientific principles. And as if that wasn't enough, some women who've tried it, say it works!

Today, it's ringtones. Tomorrow, some Smart-Alec musician is going to write a song that does the same for his girlfriend. Soon, all the musicians will be doing it. Classical musicians will come out and say how they've been producing music for centuries that has the same effect. We'll even have Breast-Enhancement Concerts!

Can't say that you'll find more women than men at such concerts, though. Men tend to be scientifically inclined, if you know what I mean, and will probably want to watch the effects of the music, live.

Whatever the effects, keep the damned ringtone away from me. I have enough complications in life, and the problem of choosing the right bra, is one I'm not interested in.

The original news article.

Thanks to Abhishek and Gizmodo for the info.

Old friends

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Four years ago, when the internet was still young, a friend of mine who I'd not met for ten years - Jayant V, decided to look for me on Hotmail. And he found me.

Today, I'm thinking of so many of my other friends from Kuwait, who I never even got a chance to say good-bye to. Childhood friends who I've not seen for atleast 14 years. I'm wondering where they are now.

So, since finding someone on Hotmail today is not exactly the best way to go, and google turns up too many results and expects you to remember the names exactly, I thought I'd put their names up here and hope someone who knows them would help them get in touch with me.

In no particular order -

Amit (Gupta?) - He had two brothers - Rohit and Sumit, I think - and a baby sister whose name I don't remember.
Amit Thakkar - I think he'd been studying in a hostel in India a number of years before 1990. He'd come home to his parents once in a while.
Dushyant Bansal - a.k.a Pintoo. Was in Vashi last time I heard. His family left Kuwait to come to India on vacation the night before Saddam invaded - 1st August 1990. And they didn't have an inkling of what was about to happen. (My family was already on vacation and we were supposed to return to Kuwait on the 2nd of August. Saved by a day)
Puneet - The hindi teacher's son (Deshpande? Probably) Also class topper.
Upaneesh - Also one of the class toppers. Probably in the other class, since I only remembering being in the same class with him in sixth or seventh standard.
Savio Gomes - English teacher's son. She was our teacher in fifth standard I think.
Neeti and Chhavi - I forget their last name. Their mom was my Hindi teacher in third or fourth standard, I think. Neeti's real name was Aditi. Chhavi's name was probably Bhavna (forgive me for forgetting). The three of us used to play as kids. I realize now that it didn't make much of a difference to me at that time, that my first friends were girls... Neeti had once colored-in a kangaroo in a coloring book I had. She'd used brown pencil color. I think it was quite neatly done. Angry that she'd dared to color in my book, I painted on it using green water color. Thankfully, my artistic sensibilities have improved over the years. Atleast I think so.
Viraj Tipnis - A year older than my brother, he lived in the next block of the building.
Deepak and Sumit Singh - Deepak used to rip out the d.c.-motors from the remote control cars we had, and make other remote control cars out of them. We all used to play on the terrace and go bicycling together. This was mainly during Ramzaan, since all the parking lots would be empty in the afternoons, and made for great cycling-spots. We had names for all the spots, though "sandy place" is the only name I remember... These two, Viraj, me, my brother Vicky, and probably one or two others, would ride our bicycles mounted with big rubber bands sling-shot style, and a small bag of paper bullets attached to the handle. I forget the point of that game...
Tony - Sat next to me in class the three months I was in Kuwait during seventh standard.
Kunal - I guess his mom taught Social Studies in our school.
Dolfrey - I'm probably spelling her name wrong. She started studying in India quite early on and I don't think I saw her after first standard. And anyway, she was a woman. By then I was going through the "I don't like women" stage. Thankfully, it only lasted around three weeks...
Prashant Jha - a.k.a Shimpu. He had a sister, I guess. His mom used to make the most amazing "butta sabzi" - an Indian preparation with Corn as the main ingredient.
Hakim and Farhana Electricwala - Not too sure about the last name, though. They lived on the same floor as us in our old building. Their elder sister (Sabera?) got married about a year or so after they moved into our building. Don't remember her at all. They were both older than me atleast by a couple of years but their first week in school (I was probably not even in first standard then), I would lead them to the right bus. Made me feel all grown up...
Vinu - Can't remember his full name. We'd play catch in the mornings, I guess, while we waited for the school bus.

And does anyone remember Motu? You know, the fat Arab kid in my building who used to bully all of us until someone broke his glasses. (Or was it him that broke my glasses? Memory... plays a lot of tricks on you) My brother and he became quite good friends, later.

More names, as I remember them.

So, anyone of you out there?

Linus and the penguin

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Ever wondered why Linus chose the penguin as the logo for Linux? I came across an old article again, which has a small write-up about Linus's thoughts about Tux.

Here it is.

Let me know if you think this post belongs on Geek Whorled, my other, practically dead, blog.

In the mean time

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
A few years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to this wonderful country song that is so simple, it takes your breath away. It's called "Love, Me" and it's by Collin Raye.

I read a note my grandma wrote
back in nineteen twenty-three.
Grandpa kept it in his coat,
and he showed it once to me.
He said, Boy, you might not understand,
but a long, long time ago,
Grandma's daddy didn't like me none,
but I loved your Grandma so.
We had this crazy plan to meet
and run away together.
Get married in the first town
we came to, and live forever.
But nailed to the tree
where we were supposed to meet, instead
I found this letter,
and this is what it said:

If you get there before I do,
don't give up on me.
I'll meet you when my chores are through;
I don't know how long I'll be.
But I'm not gonna let you down,
darling wait and see.
And between now and then,
till I see you again,
I'll be loving you.
Love, me.

I read those words just hours before
my Grandma passed away,
In the doorway of a church
where me and Grandpa stopped to pray.
I know I'd never seen him cry
in all my fifteen years;
But as he said these words to her,
his eyes filled up with tears.

If you get there before I do,
don't give up on me.
I'll meet you when my chores are through;
I don't know how long I'll be.
But I'm not gonna let you down,
darling wait and see.
And between now and then,
till I see you again,
I'll be loving you.
Love, me.

Between now and then,
till I see you again,
I'll be loving you.
Love, me.

What a wonderful way of saying that when you love someone, you wait for them...

The Glory Of Life

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
What would you say, if I told you that I'd never seen the sky? Or felt the earth beneath me. Or heard the waves in the ocean?

What would you say if I told you that my eyes had never shown me colour, my skin had never told me how it feels to touch a loved one, and that my ears had never told me what music is like?

What would you say if I told you that my brain had always been locked away from my body, never seeing, never feeling, never hearing, never really knowing? That I know everything I know, like a computer has data? That a mountain, to me, only meant a series of numbers that indicate varying heights that reach their maximum near the center? That a sunset meant a big hot sphere disappearing behind a line, without even knowing what a sphere, a line or hot really are? That words were just a collection of letters that seem to make sense together, but only to express the meanings of the numbers that I know about?

What would you say if I told you that I had never had a conversation with anyone but myself?

What would you say if I told you that all my life I'd been living in a shell, and not just metaphorically?

What would you say if I told you that after a lifetime of living inside my mind, I can finally see, hear, touch, and feel? That after a lifetime I can finally experience the glory of existence? That for the first time I know what the night sky looks like?

You know what I said?

I said, "Oh crap!"

Good old Manhattan

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I went to meet my friend (also my distant cousin) on the weekend. He lives in New Jersey, and it takes a little more than a couple of hours to get to his place from mine, if I take the trains. I have to travel through Manhattan to get there.

Stepping into good ole NYC brought a wonderful feeling. I forgot the entire tiring experience of the previous week once I was there. Landed at Grand Central first, and then had to take the Subway to Broadway and 28th to drop a package for someone who would then deliver it to my uncle. Almost made me feel like a mobster... :)

Taking the 7 to Times Square itself was wonderful. The musicians were still there. A dose of music as you pass from one train to the other. I used to actually take my earphones off my ears to listen to their music as I passed by them on my way to work.

The pulse of life in the city is something you can feel immediately. It was like millions of volts of electricity revving me up, and preparing me to get anywhere I wanted to. The magic of the subway.

Of course, not everyone feels that way. I guess it's a city thing...

Lesson for the week

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
If you're going to move to Valhalla, White Plains, Elmsford or some area in the vicinity, I have one thing to say to you. Don't. Unless, of course, you know exactly where you are going to live, and how (and how much) you're going to pay for it. Having a vague idea about it is not in your best interests.

For the past two weeks since I've been here my friend StressLevels has been keeping me company, RestAndRelaxation has been coming and going, and SenseOfHumour seems to have found a new best friend. I don't even see him anymore...

House-hunting: Celestial Conversations - XIV

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Soul Proprietorship: Celestial Conversations - XIII
God: Hello?
Me: Hi, God.
God: Hi. I was looking for you.
Me: Really?
God: Yes, I need some help.
Me: You need some help? From me?
God: Yes. Are you looking for a roommate?
Me: I'm sorry?
God: Are you looking for a roommate?
Me: Well, not really. Why?
God: Oh, my landlord threw me out, so I need a place to stay.
Me: Your landlord threw You out?
God: Yes. So it would be very helpful if you could tell me about someone I could room with until I have this accomodation thing worked out.
Me: But You're God!
God: Well what does that have anything to do with it?
Me: You're God!
God: You now sound like a broken record. Can't you try to be of some help instead?
Me: I mean who ever heard of God not having a place to live?
God: That's what my landlord said when he kicked me out. So, can you help me?
Me: Well, actually, any place of worship is generally considered a House of God.
God: Oh, that didn't work. They threw Me out too. I tried temples, churches, mosques, synagogues, tabernacles, even pyramids!
Me: I don't think Pyramids are technically places of worship.
God: They aren't?
Me: I don't think so.
God: Interesting.
Me: But everyone threw You out?
God: Yes. They claimed they were places of worship, not homeless shelters.
Me: They thought You were a homeless person?
God: I am, aren't I?
Me: Yes, but... You know... You're not a homeless person!
God: Have you been listening? That's exactly what I am.
Me: No, I mean... I mean where is God expected to stay if not a House of God?
God: That's what I said. I didn't really understand the answer. It was something about it being like expecting to find justice in court or something...
Me: Oh, forget it...
God: Easy for you to say. I've been sleeping on park benches for the past few days.
Me: Park Benches?
God: Yes. And even there I have some people telling me that certain benches belong to them!
Me: That must be some experience.
God: Not a very good one.
Me: I'm sure.
God: So, can you help me?
Me: I'd like to, but unfortunately, we don't really have any space currently.
God: At this time I think I'm supposed to use a lame line like "People don't have any space for God in their hearts even" or something.
Me: That's pretty lame.
God: I know.
Me: So what are You going to do, then?
God: Get a real estate agent, I guess.
Me: That's probably a good idea. But what about the rest?
God: The rest of what?
Me: Residents of Heaven?
God: Currently, my boy, there is no Heaven.
Me: Right, so where's everyone else?
God: Hell, of course.
Me: You sent everyone to Hell?
God: Yes, I thought it would be a nice experience for everyone.
Me: But Hell?
God: It's not as bad as it sounds, you know.
Me: It's not?
God: You should look at the mosquito problem at some of the popular vacation spots. The least you can say about Hell is that they have no mosquitoes.
Me: Oh. So why don't you stay there too?
God: God in Hell? It goes against the principle of the thing, man.
Me: Right.
God: Anyway. I'll be heading off. I have an appointment with a real estate guy in an hour.
Me: Well, All the best.
God: Thanks. I'll need it. Bye.
Me: Bye.

Next: Return Of The... King? : Celestial Conversations - XV


on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: ,
Finally got myself a copy of Mil Millington's "Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About" - the novel based on the website of the same name. I've been looking for this book for the past two months. Finally found it at the Borders bookstore at Westchester Pavilion (in White Plains). If you live somewhere close by (White Plains or Valhalla in NY) then this store is a must see. It's got this amazing collection of books. Just the Literature/Fiction section has more than 15 shelves, each of which is atleast eight to nine feet high, and four feet wide. Amaaaazing!

Budding Poet...

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I submitted a story to Sulekha 12 weeks ago, today (I may have mentioned this before) and sent them yet another mail yesterday asking what had happened to it. Today they responded with a "We will be publishing your beautiful poem very shortly".

I mean it's one thing to tell someone that their prose is sheer poetry, and quite something else to call a story a poem. Don't you think?


on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I was pretty stunned to find comments on the net about Celestial Conversations of this kind - "one of the funniest blogs I've ever read".

This is good for my ego, but bad for my blood pressure since it makes me worry about the reactions of people who, being somewhat impressed by that particular piece decide to read some of my other stuff. Stuff which I specifically think is not very interesting, and that I've written just so that I don't lose the habit of posting.

Considering that, I would really like to apologize about some of the sequels which are really not funny, and instead, quite annoying to say the least. So, I've decided to put these conversations on hold while I'm recuperating from my writer's block. (Actually, it's not so much writer's block as it is time to think but you get the idea)
I do intend continue blogging though, so don't go away!

Search this blog with google

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I'm not sure if anyone has noticed this, but all blogspot blogs now have a Blogger NavBar on the top (This has been true for a couple of months now, of course, but it never hurts to point this out :) ).

Using the Search box allows the reader to search for text within a blog, thus pulling up posts to which you might not have the permalink. There's also the "Next blog" button which randomly takes you to another blog on blogspot. My only crib with that is the potential of landing on a malicious blog. You know, one with viruses, trojans, etc.

Discworld goes on...

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: ,
Before coming to the US, handed over my collection of 24 Discworld books (by Terry Pratchett) and 3 other Terry Pratchett books, to my cousin. I bought my 25th Discworld book today. Thief of time. I'm still missing Lords and Ladies. But I won't be buying that any time soon.

Read "Day of Confession" by Allan Folsom on the flight. That is, read the first 485 pages. Still working on finishing the last 70 pages. But no time. Wonder if the thief of time has anything to do with it...

Anonymous messages

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
When I started blogging on Sulekha, someone called Jyotsna from Bangalore (I assume this from the email address) sent me a message asking me if I'm the same Rajesh Advani from TSEC 99 batch. I tried replying to her, except that her email address bounced.

I mean how do you respond to such messages? People say stuff, expect you to respond, and then leave no forwarding address. What do you do?

One of the messages left on my site, I actually tried tracing the location using an IP address. I narrowed it as much as a single building in Bangalore. My own company. Even at that resolution, it could probably be any one of 300-600 people.

Know what? I think I'm just jet-lagged.

I soooo hate travelling on short notice

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
September 3rd, 2004: I'm in India. I reach office at 8:20am, going about doing things I usually do, and ready to go to breakfast. I find out I'm leaving for the US. In two days.

September 7th, 2004: I land at JFK airport.

I don't like living out a suitcase. I don't like not having a permanent home. When I see the words "permanent address", all I can do is laugh.

And, I don't like this jet lag thingy either.

And what I hate most is having to access the internet over dial-up. I mean three hours to download a Norton Internet Security LiveUpdate? Sheesh! And that too, with Norton interrupting my surfing every couple of minutes to tell me someone's remotely trying to access my computer. (Yes, I know, I can turn the prompt off, but you never know when you might actually want a remote computer to access your computer, right? And then who has the patience to unblock that machine?)


Anyway. Just wanted to explain why this blog's been dead for the past week. :)

Just settling in here. Will be back to daily blogging soon, I hope.

Soul Proprietorship: Celestial Conversations - XIII

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Population Control: Celestial Conversations - XII
Me: Hello?
SecretaryOfGod: Yes?
Me: Oh, good. I was hoping to catch you.
SecretaryOfGod: Yes?
Me: Pinky?
SecretaryOfGod: Excuse me?
Me: Oh, I'm sorry. I was just checking. You never know who you might really be chatting with.
SecretaryOfGod: I'm not sure what you mean, but I've decided to take offense to that statement.
Me: Oh, please, no. I didn't mean to cause any offence. I'm sorry.
SecretaryOfGod: Well, then get on with it.
Me: Well, it's like this. God was telling me yesterday, that only a few souls actually get into heaven or hell.
SecretaryOfGod: Of course! Can you imagine the accommodation problem if we let every soul in? Do you have any idea about the cost of real estate these days?
Me: It's pretty high apparently. I wouldn't really know, though. I don't own any property.
SecretaryOfGod: Well then this is definitely as good a time to invest as any.
Me: Oh. Rates are low, are they?
SecretaryOfGod: Low? Ha!
Me: Then why were you advising me to invest?
SecretaryOfGod: Because they're not getting any lower!
Me: Oh.
SecretaryOfGod: Now did you have something to ask me, or not? I don't have all day.
Me: Well, it's like this. If all souls don't go to either heaven or hell, then, errr... where do they go?
SecretaryOfGod: What?
Me: I mean, I believe trillions of people have lived on this planet till now.
SecretaryOfGod: Yes?
Me: So, where are they now?
SecretaryOfGod: Dead, of course!
Me: I know that! But where are their souls?
SecretaryOfGod: Oh, that. Well, that's not a straight answer. They go a number of different ways.
Me: Different ways?
SecretaryOfGod: Of course. Everyone has different ideas about what to do with the afterlife.
Me: Oh?
SecretaryOfGod: Yes. Some of them just retire.
Me: Retire?
SecretaryOfGod: That's right. Retire.
Me: And what does that mean?
SecretaryOfGod: It means that they don't want to go through the process of living anymore. Life was enough.
Me: I'll pretend I understand.
SecretaryOfGod: That's nice of you. Some of them - and these are the annoying ones - try to become poltergeists.
Me: Really?
SecretaryOfGod: Yes. Not many succeed, though. It's quite a trick learning to affect the living world even when you are dead.
Me: Oh.
SecretaryOfGod: But that tends to be only a temporary pastime. Poltergeising is pretty exhausting. A few days of activity like that can tire a soul out for a couple of million years.
Me: That long?
SecretaryOfGod: In terms of eternity, it's not that much. It's like taking an afternoon nap.
Me: Oh.
SecretaryOfGod: Then, there's the lost souls.
Me: Lost?
SecretaryOfGod: Well, it's a euphemism, really. They're not really lost. Or even if they are, they have an eternity to find themselves. No. Lost Souls are actually only pranksters. They haunt houses and roads and such like.
Me: Oh.
SecretaryOfGod: Yes. But they do it part time. Which means that they work only in shifts. The night shift is a favourite of course. The other shifts don't have much job satisfaction.
Me: Job satisfaction?
SecretaryOfGod: What do you think? If you're going to haunt a house, you might as well do it properly. Or what would be the point?
Me: Oh.
SecretaryOfGod: Some of them recycle themselves.
Me: Recycle? Oh, you mean reincarnation.
SecretaryOfGod: Reincarnation? Of course, not. A new soul is created for every new body born. Otherwise the soul-sellers would go out of business. It's a different matter that the dominating soul is not always the new one. After all, the old ones have more experience. But I was talking about recycling. They go back to the moment they were born, and reoccupy themselves.
Me: Reoccupy?
SecretaryOfGod: Yes. It's called temporal repetition.
Me: But why?
SecretaryOfGod: You know how humans always want to go back and change the past? Well, it's a soul's natural tendency to want to go and correct things in their own past.
Me: So they go back in time and changethings?
SecretaryOfGod: Of course not. Everyone knows you can't change the past.
Me: Then why do they try?
SecretaryOfGod: Just dumb I guess. Tell someone an iron is hot, and he hasto touch it to be sure. And these souls go back to live again. Can you imagine how much trouble that is?
Me: Not really.
SecretaryOfGod: Imagine needing to get potty-trained all over again.
Me: Ew!
SecretaryOfGod: Exactly.
Me: Well, you were also talking about the new soul not always being in control and something about old souls. What was that about?
SecretaryOfGod: Oh. That's related to the last and largest group of souls. Most of them try to occupy other living beings. You can't change the past, but you can definitely change the future.
Me: So there are people with more than one soul?
SecretaryOfGod: People and fish. Some even make the mistake of entering mosquitoes.
Me: Mosquitoes?
SecretaryOfGod: I know. A pretty short life. Some souls are just born dumb I guess. They end up as mosquito souls. And then there's no turning back.
Me: Ouch. That must be quite sad.
SecretaryOfGod: Well a mosquito can't really be sad. Not enough brain for emotions. So they're pretty happy most of the time.
Me: Well, how can one tell if a person has more than one soul?
SecretaryOfGod: Well practically everyone has more than one soul. Souls do a lot of sharing. There isn't much humanity to go around.
Me: Everyone?
SecretaryOfGod: Of course! Some people are occupied by billions of souls.
Me: Billions? What'd be the point of sharing a body with billions of other souls?
SecretaryOfGod: I told you. Souls are just naturally dumb. The funny thing is, that the lesser the number of souls occupying a body, the more likely that it'll get noticed. You humans call them people with multiple-personality disorders.
Me: Oh!
SecretaryOfGod: Right. People with many more personalities seem more normal. Because there's so many of them inside, that it becomes one constant hum of soulness.
Me: This is quite disturbing. And confusing.
SecretaryOfGod: That confusion? It's a sign that some of the souls in you are telling your brain to think one thing, and the rest, something else.
Me: Help!
SecretaryOfGod: Everyone needs it.
Me: I think I'm getting another one of those headaches...
SecretaryOfGod: A headache, of course...
Me: No! Don't tell me! I'm leaving.

[Me has logged off]

SecretaryOfGod: He he!

[SecretaryOfGod has changed his name to TheDevil]

TheDevil: That was fun!

Next: House-hunting: Celestial Conversations - XIV

Population Control: Celestial Conversations XII

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Big Daddy: Celestial Conversations XI
Me: Hello?
God: Hello.
Me: God?
God: Yes?
Me: (phew) I think I spoke to Your daughter yesterday.
God: You did?
Me: Yes. She was logged in as Your secretary.
God: She was?
Me: Yes. She said she was six years old, called You Daddy and said You'd gone to get her some ice-cream.
God: Oh, you mean Pinky!
Me: Yes.
God: I'm sorry, with all living things being called Children of God, I had no idea which daughter you were talking aout.
Me: All living things?
God: It wasn't my idea.
Me: Oh, so Pinky isn't really Your daughter?
God: I thought we just decided that she is.
Me: No, I mean actual daughter.
God: Actual?
Me: You know, seed-of-Your-loins kind of daughter?
God: Seed of... Oh! Ha ha! No, no, no! Where'd you get that idea?
Me: Well, she called You Daddy.
God: That's just kid-speak for 'Father'. Of Father, Son and Holy Spirit fame.
Me: Oh. So are there lots of children in heaven?
God: Oh, lots. So many that we don't have enough adults to take care of them.
Me: More children than adults?
God: Of course. It's difficult finding adults with no sins to their name.
Me: Oh. How many adults do You have in heaven?
God: I think at last count, it was... let me check... fourteen.
Me: Fourteen??? That's it?
God: Yes. Well it was fifteen until last week, but then Gandhi defected.
Me: Defected?
God: Yes. He said he'd had enough of abstinence.
Me: But... but... trillions of human beings have probably died on earth. How can heaven only have fourteen?
God: It's not easy following all the ten commandments, you know. Even Gandhi had taken my name in vain a number of times. He only got through because he came highly recommended. And he's already defected.
Me: So all the other trillions go to Hell?
God: Of course not. The population of hell is approximately two hundred and seventy-eight.
Me: Then where do the rest of them go?
God: I have absolutely no idea.

Next: Soul Proprietorship: Celestial Conversations - XIII


Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I'm Google-able!

Which means, of course, that if you search for my name in Google (even without the middle initial) I'm on the first page that Google returns. (this has been true for a number of months now, of course)
The reason this is good, is because this way old friends who I have no way of contacting anymore, can just look me up and try to reach me via this great thing they call the World Wide Web.
A old friend of mine (last saw or heard from him 5 years ago) actually did exactly this.
A few years ago, a friend I'd not seen or been in touch with for over 10 years, reached me by searching my mail-provider's white pages. I rarely use that account, so it was a surprise to see his name there. The chap was sitting in Singapore. I met him a few months later when he was passing through this city.

It's crazy, isn't it? The way you can have no idea where someone you knew long ago is, and then suddenly, one search in Google, and there you are!

The world is definitely getting smaller.

Big Daddy: Celestial Conversations XI

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Trust: Celestial Conversations - X
Me: Hello?
SecretaryOfGod: Hello?
Me: Ah. Decided to log on as yourself, did you?
SecretaryOfGod: Hello?
Me: Hello?
SecretaryOfGod: Hello?
Me: Who is this?
SecretaryOfGod: Hello?
Me: This is crazy!
SecretaryOfGod: 2 + 2 = 4
Me: Am I in the right chat room here?
SecretaryOfGod: Who are you?
Me: I'm a programmer. I'm trying to write God a Search Engine. Who are you?
SecretaryOfGod: My name is Pinky.
Me: Eh?
SecretaryOfGod: Eh?
Me: Oh, don't start that again. What are you doing here?
SecretaryOfGod: Daddy has gone to get me some ice cream.
Me: Oh. How old are you?
SecretaryOfGod: I am six years old.
Me: And the Secretary of God is your father?
SecretaryOfGod: Daddy is my father!
Me: Right, right.
SecretaryOfGod: I told Daddy I want Strawberry Ice cream.
Me: Very nice. And who is your Daddy?
SecretaryOfGod: My Daddy is my Daddy, dumbo.
Me: Of course, of course. But what is his name?
SecretaryOfGod: I think his name is Boss.
Me: Boss?
SecretaryOfGod: You know that uncle who uses this computer?
Me: God's secretary? So he's not your father?
SecretaryOfGod: No, dumbo. I told you na, Daddy is my father.
Me: So who is Boss?
SecretaryOfGod: I think you are very dumb. That uncle who uses this computer calls my Daddy Boss.
Me: Boss?
SecretaryOfGod: Yes. But I call him Daddy. Everyone says, you know, Our Father who is in heaven, but I just call him Daddy.
Me: Oh. So I'm speaking to the son of God?
SecretaryOfGod: Stupid! I am Pinky! I don't want to talk to you anymore. Bye.
Me: Oh, ok. Bye.

[SecretaryOfGod has logged out]

Next: Population Control: Celestial Conversations XII


on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
"Okay," he said.

What okay?


What's this about?
Keep quiet and listen.

"So where do you want me to begin?"

Begin what? What is all this?
If you open your mouth again, I'm going to smash your teeth in.

"At the beginning."

Hey, why are you hogging all the popcorn?
I said, keep quiet.

"This could take a while."

We're not going anyw- Ow! What did you do that for?
I warned you.

"I know."

Well atleast take that ring off next time before you do that. I could be scarred for life.
You want me to take the ring off?

"Well, in the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland - "

What an interesting movie.
Don't change the topic.

"No, no! Not that far in the beginning! Start with whatever's relevant."

Funny dialogue, don't you think so?
You want me to take the ring off.

"What we are concerned with here is the fundamental interconnectedness of all things."

Come on, you have no reason to start crying now.

"Don't waste my time by quoting from Douglas Adams now. Tell me what I need to know."

Hey, I don't really want you to take the ring off!
You do!

"You need to use more deodorant."

Come on sweetheart, let's not fight now. Watch the movie.
Stop lying to me.


I'm not lying to you! Why would I lie to you?
Because you don't love me anymore.

"You told me to tell you what you needed to know. You need to know this."

But of course I do!
No you don't!

"Are you making fun of me? Tell me what I want to know!"

You see the size of the rock on that ring? I can't afford not to love you anymore!
Is that all? You keep me around because the ring was too big an investment?

"Well then what do you want to know?"

Of course not! You're putting words in my mouth.
I know exactly what you mean to say. You just want to get rid of me.

"I already told you!"

Why are you saying that? Come on, let's watch the movie in peace.
So I'm taking away your peace of mind? Is that what you're saying?

"No you didn't."

I didn't say that, but you are tempting me to say it.
So now the truth is out of the bag isn't it? You just want me to get out of your life.

"Yes, I did!"

What do you want me to say to that?
Here, take your ring back. You'll never have to tolerate me again. I'm leaving.

"No you didn't."
"Yes I did! I told you to start from the beginning!"
"And I did, but you didn't want to listen."
"You know what I mean!"
"No, I don't."
"Yes, you do!
"Forgive him, Lord, for he knows not what he says."

It's cold outside.
I know.

"Are you crazy?!"

I'm going to stay for a while.
Yes. Come back here and sit down.

"What do you think?"

Give me my ring back.
Here. I'll put it back on.

"I don't know what to think!"

It's all your fault.
Yes, it is.

"Where are you right now?"

I'm sorry I fought with you.
I'm sorry too.

"In a bloody mental hospital."

What are you sorry for?
You're not going to use that to start another fight with me, are you?

"And what did you ask me?"

You are sooooo intelligent.
And you are incorrigible.

"I asked you how we came to be here."

I love you.
I love you too.

"And I told you."

So what's the movie about?
No idea. Want to change the channel?

"I guess you did."

Yes. Let's watch Jerry Mcguire.
Which channel?
Number eleven.

"Hello. Hello. I'm looking for my wife."
"Wait. Okay, okay. Okay. If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen. I'm not letting you get rid of me. How about that? This used to be my specialty. You know, I was good in the living room. They'd send me in there, I'd do it alone. And now I just... I don't know. But tonight, our little project, our company, had a very big night. A very, very big night. But it wasn't complete, wasn't nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete, because I couldn't share it with you. I couldn't hear your voice, or laugh about it with you. I missed my wife. We live in a cynical world, a cynical, cynical world..."

So what's this supposed to be about?

Place of Origin

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: ,
Recently, a friend of mine wrote this blog, titled So, where are you from?
The blog describes what I believe is an increasingly common situation where you can't answer that question. The following words were inspired by that blog.

"So where are you from?" is definitely the most dreaded question as far as I'm concerned too. And, the worst thing is that recently they added one more twist, and that too right after I decided to start claiming to be "from Bombay".


Q: Where are you from?
A: Ummm... I was born in Kuwait...
Q: Oh so you are not an Indian?
A: No no. I'm an Indian only. Was born in Kuwait, and lived there for 12 years...
Q: Oh, that long?
A: Yes. And then I studied in Bombay for a few months before going to Surat
Q: Oh so you are Gujarati?
A: No no. My dad just works there.
Q: Why?
A: ???
Q: Why Surat?
A: My dad got a job there immediately after the gulf war started. So, I studied there for 4 years before I came to Bombay for my Engineering. After 4 years of doing my engineering, though, I got a job and was posted in Chennai.
Q: Oh, you work in South India?
A: Yes. And I've been there for the last 5 years.
Q: So where are you from again?
A: I guess I'm essentially from Bombay, but I've only lived there for four years of my life.

Which never left them satisfied, though it was completely accurate.


Q: So, where are you from?
A: Bombay.
Q: Oh, you're a Maharashtrian?
A: No, no. I'm a Sindhi.
Q: Sindhi?
A: Sindh is a state that is now in Pakistan.
Q: Oh, you're a Pakistani?

At this point, I generally burst into tears.

Trust: Celestial Conversations - X

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Vacation: Celestial Conversations - IX
Me: Hello?
God: Yes?
Me: Oh, Hi God.
God: Hello.
Me: That guy isn't around, is he?
God: Who?
Me: You know - adversary of God, tempter of mankind...
God: Oh, him. No, he isn't.
Me: (phew!) That's good.
God: What's your problem with him anyway?
Me: My problem? He's The D- Oh, no no no. You're not getting me to do that again.
God: It was worth a try. :) I could call him Myself, if you want.
Me: No!
God: But why?
Me: Because, he's not nice!
God: Oh, that's not his fault. It goes with the job description.
Me: How can You say that? He's the enemy!
God: Oh, come on. He's no enemy. He's an old friend. And what's a little competition between friends?
Me: How can You say that? And You leaving heaven in his hands, is so... so...
God: Stupid?
Me: Ummm, I was looking for a nicer word, but yeah.
God: Why?
Me: How can You trust him?
God: Well, he was an angel once. So he knows the place, and is senior to almost everyone here. Plus, he's a good accountant.
Me: Accountant? But You told me Heaven is bankrupt!
God: If I had any money, you think I'd leave it in his hands?
Me: Oh.
God: You must trust Me a bit more, my boy.
Me: Like, "In God We Trust"?
God: That's the spirit!

Next: Big Daddy: Celestial Conversations XI