Beginning: The BlogLand Chronicles - 1

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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There I was sitting in BlogLand, sipping on the last dregs of an Ice Mocha Moka (I wonder where they come up with these names), waiting for Anil. He was supposed to have met me there two hours before, which explained the three empty glasses of Moka next to my laptop.

I was in the middle of a debate with myself about whether I should order a fourth Moka or not, when Anil walked in.

"Sorry, man! Totally forgot about you. I got busy chatting."

Now Anil was the perfect example of the kind of guy who shouldn't have any luck with women on the internet. The scary thing was, he managed to befriend a new girl every week, and would spend hours chatting with them online.

"Why do you do it, Anil?" I asked.

"Do what?" he replied, as if he didn't know what I was referring to. We'd had a number of conversations about my disapproval of his trying to meet women in chat rooms.

"This obsession of yours, of course."

"I really don't understand why you have this problem with my attempts to get a girlfriend."

"A girlfriend? In a chat room? A girlfriend out of a conversation that begins with A/S/L? Anil, these women you're meeting could be 53-year-old male truck drivers, for all you know!"

"Man, you could be a 53-year-old truck driver, for all I know." After a pause, he added, "Well, in a quarter of a century or so."

I glared at him.

"Anyway, I'm meeting her for coffee tomorrow."

"What?!" I was stunned. "You're meeting this one?"

"Yep. Right here."

"Here? What if she's a he? And what if she's a serial killer! Anil, BlogLand is a coffeehouse for bloggers. I won't let you desecrate this place by bringing your chat room flings here."

"Serial killer? Desecrate? I think you've lost your marbles for sure this time. And anyway, BlogLand is a coffeehouse that also provides special services for bloggers. It's not a temple. And I really don't think BJ has any intention of driving away paying customers."

I looked at BJ - the proprietor of BlogLand - for support as he sat behind the counter. BJ just looked at me and shrugged.

BJ was a retired blogger. No one knew what his screen name had been, though he'd mentioned that he had been very popular when he blogged, and that the pressure to blog everyday had just become too much.

He'd started BlogLand a year before, with the intention of making blogging tools more accessible. The place was essentially a coffeehouse/internet-center that provided the added service of helping customers with their blogging needs. You could hire a laptop for an hour that came with wireless internet access and pre-installed blogging tools. If you had a laptop, you could hook on to BlogLand's wireless network for a fee. If you ordered something to eat or drink, the internet access was free. BJ also helped customers make changes to their blog designs, and if the need arose, he'd help them fix a broken blog. If you didn't have a blog, BJ would encourage you to start one and show you how. If you were interested in reading blogs instead of writing them, there was always BJ's daily recommended-reading list.

BJ wouldn't turn away non-believers (that was the term he used for people who didn't write or read blogs). He'd just try to convert them. And if that didn't work, there was always coffee.

"What's your problem with chat rooms anyway?" continued Anil. "I've never seen you complain about Bloggers' Meets. How come meeting strangers through a blog is okay, but meeting people in chat rooms is considered an act of desperation? It's just hypocrisy, I think."

"Oh, come on! When you meet someone through a blog, you've read the stuff they write. They've read stuff you write. There's a bit of background. Bloggers' meets are not about desperate single men and women!"

"Internet chat rooms aren't all about desperate men or women either. But how can you be so sure that what you say, is true for every single person out there meeting someone through a blog?"

He had me there. And he knew it. He also knew that I hated losing an argument. So by way of changing the topic, he looked at my three glasses of Ice Mocha Moka and said, "I'm going to order an Espresso. One more for you?"

I nodded.

As he brought the drinks back to the table, Anil looked at my glass and said, "Why do you insist on having this horrid concoction all the time? And four of them in a row?"

"It's not horrid," I said, taking my glass from him. "It's quite nice, in fact. Also, it's one of the few things BJ has with no coffee in it. You know I hate coffee."

"Yes. You hate the smell. You're weird. I mean, who in this world, hates the smell of coffee?!"

"I do. And," I continued, "do you need me to remind you that I've been waiting here for you, for the past two hours?"

Anil laughed. "Man, I thought you'd have forgotten about that by now!"

"Hey Mikeo!" he called at the T-shirt clad, spectacle-wearing man at the next table. Mike, as usual, was reading a book while sipping on a large cappuccino. He had a blog in which he mostly wrote book reviews. He read two or three books in a week, and a few times he'd hit as many as seven books in seven days.

"Yeah?" Mike growled. He didn't like being disturbed when he was reading, and Anil loved to do exactly that.

"What book are you reading?" he asked.

"Dickens's The Pickwick Papers."

"Well, how is it?"

"I've been reading it for over a week now," he replied sullenly.

"A week?!" said Anil, genuinely shocked. "How thick is it anyway? You've been reading that for more than seven days?" Mike had finished Lord of the Rings in six days.

"It's seven hundred and fifty pages of tiny text, and has English from 1836. I'm almost done, though. Do you know what a portmanteau is?"

"Port man toe?" repeated Anil. "The toe of a man who works at a port, maybe?"

"It's a sort of suitcase."

"Then why don't they call it that in the first place?"

Mike rolled his eyes.

"So is it any good?"

"Yes, actually it is really good. The humour is sometimes subtle and at other times extremely loud. The characterization is simply amazing. And of course reading something from two centuries ago also gives you a wonderful insight into the culture of that time."

"Right," said Anil blankly. Mike shrugged and returned to his book.

Anil turned back to me and said, "If you gave me a book that was seven hundred and fifty pages long with words like Port-Man-Toe, I'd take a month to read it."

"Anil, you'd take a month to read a Famous Five book. I think you'd find The Pickwick Papers a little heavy for your consumption."

"I didn't understand that last word you used," he said.

We both laughed.

Next: Going South: The BlogLand Chronicles - 2

Of All The...

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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There's a concierge service in the office. Which means that you can book movie tickets, train tickets, bus tickets, and pay your bills, all without leaving the office.

Yes. The management is really smart.

Well, I approached the concierge desk today, as I was planning to spend new year's eve with friends in Bangalore.

"Hi," I said. "I want to book tickets for Bangalore this weekend. To Bangalore Friday night, and back Sunday morning."

"Are tickets available?"

For a second, I wondered why my voice sounded different. And then I realized that the guy at the desk was asking me.

I looked around a little to ensure that I wasn't talking to the wrong person.

Nope. The board on his desk said "Concierge Desk". Right Desk at least.

"You work for the concierge service, right?" I asked, wanting to be sure.

"Yes, of course," he said, pointing to the board.

"So," I tried again. "About those tickets..."

"Are they available?" he repeated.

"Umm... err.."

"If you can find out if tickets are available, that would be helpful," he continued. "How much do the tickets cost?"

I didn't know what to say. I still don't.

Faces

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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I'm not very good with remembering faces. In fact, I'm not very good with names either. And to be frank, I'm even less good at putting names and faces together.

It's not that I have a memory problem, as such. Not at all. I still remember climbing up and down the staircase in my uncle's house in London when I was two. I also remember befriending a priest on the flight back home. I remember things I did in the US when I was nine. I even remember conversations I've had when I was ten.

But when it comes to faces and names, I think the associated part of my brain is probably missing some nervous tissue. (Yes, I know. The whole of my brain is probably missing some nervous tissue. But can we not get into that now?)

To give you an example, every time I return to Chennai after a trip to the US, I bump into people who I'm supposed to know, but I just cannot place. I may be casually walking towards the cafeteria, when someone vaguely familiar will come up and say "Hi!"

Now, I may not be a master of tact, but I do try my best (yes, I know it isn't good enough, but that's another story) not to be rude. So instead of saying "Who are you?" I say "Hi", ask some random questions like "So which project are you working for now?" and "How are you doing?" and move on, wondering where I know this person from. Attempts at looking at their ID card to get their name, are not always successful. After all I don't want it to be obvious.

There are some people who I know quite well, and remember exactly how I know them, but their names will always elude me. Then there are people whose names I remember very clearly, but I would have trouble recognizing exactly which of the four people sitting in that room is, say, "Mahesh".

A friend once introduced me to his girlfriend, who seemed to know me, though I didn't recognize her at all. "We played carrom together earlier this year," she said. "Oh yes!" was my reply. I still don't know what she was talking about.

A couple of weeks ago, I was passing someone in the corridor who looked familiar, and immediately said "Hi!" Now it would have been fine, except that she seemed a little taken aback at this, even though she did respond. In the sixty seconds that I spent talking to her, I realized she was probably just someone I'd seen around the office and had never actually spoken to, and that she was just too polite to point that out. I still don't know what her name is.

And yesterday, I ran into someone who (1) did not look familiar and (2) whose name I did not recognize either. That, of course, didn't stop us from having a conversation that lasted at least two minutes. I even answered his question of "So how long has it been since we met last?", correctly. I was pretty proud of myself at that. I have this sneaky suspicion though, that I really don't know him and that he actually mistook me for someone else.

But the most interesting example of this fault of mine is from a while back.

(Note: Names have been altered)

I'd joined a new project at work, and was told I'd be working with Bhavna, though we wouldn't be sitting together initially. Bhavna was someone I'd seen around the office and whose name I definitely recognized, though I may have only spoken to her once.

She'd come over to my seat, we'd discussed something, and I'd then proceeded to work in it. At some point, I decided I wasn't clear about something and that I needed to discuss it further. I'd forgotten to take her extension, so I decided I'd just go over to her seat and talk to her. She only sat a couple of cubicles away anyway.
[For the benefit of the non-technically inclined out there, and also due to non-disclosure agreements with our clients, I'm going to replace all the technical words in the following conversation with completely irrelevant non-technical ones. It won't make any sense either way.]

Me: Hey Bhavna, I have a question about the {evolutionary tendencies of tadpoles}...

She: [turning to me, and realizing that I'm speaking to her] Oh, I'm sorry, I wasn't listening. Can you please start again?

Me: Oh. Okay. Well, it's about the {tadpoles} see? I mean I know we're supposed to {get them to give birth to monkeys} but don't you think that {was exactly what my mother warned me about} ? See, on the one hand you have {tadpoles} and on the other hand you have {orangutans} and somehow I think they just don't seem to go together. I mean even if we could get that to happen, {who would feed the little apes}? There'll always be the risk of {the babies swallowing their moms}...

[She'd looked quite blank when I'd started speaking, and she continued to look just as blank as I rambled on. And then I realized that that wasn't Bhavna. I knew her, and had spoken to her before - spoken to her more than I'd spoken to Bhavna at least - but she definitely was not Bhavna. And she'd probably not heard me call her that either.]

Me: Well, anyway, so I was a little confused about that. By the way, do you know where Bhavna sits?

She: [probably thinking I was a little nuts (okay, extremely nuts)] Oh, I think over in that cubicle.

Me: Thanks.

[At this point, I sort of slinked away.]

Imagine talking to two different people over a period of time - people who don't even look alike - and believing they are the same person. At least Jaggu had an excuse in Chaalbaaz (1989).

So, now that you know my little secret, the next time you run into me, and go "Hi! Where have you been?!", if I look a little blank, please don't mind, okay?

Defeat

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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One more short short.

War

"How long before they reach the castle?"

"Our army will probably be able to hold them off for an hour at the most."

"And the secret passageway out of the city?"

"It was never finished, your highness."

"Well then," said the king. "I'm off to sleep."

"Sleep?"

"I always wanted to die in my sleep."

The End

We Don't Need No Sex Education

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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Mob Storms Condom Company

Reuter: A mob carrying placards saying 'Off With Condoms' and 'We Don't Need No Rubber' stormed the offices of Durex at J. N. Nagar yesterday. The protesters claimed that by selling condoms the multinational company was encouraging people to fornicate.

"Why would you need condoms unless you wanted to have sex outside the confines of marriage?" said one man. "This is all part of a master plan to bring the dirty western culture to our country and to corrupt our youth!" Another protester suggested that western condom companies were paying movie and sports stars to promote immoral behaviour.

Shouting slogans of "Let's burn that rubber!", the mob tore down the gates of the Durex building, smashed windows and beat up security personnel.

In an unrelated incident, a transport truck carrying five thousand condoms was reported stolen from the Durex building on the same day.

This hasn't happened yet, to my knowledge. But it doesn't seem too far off, does it?

Salaam Bombay!

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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Warning: This is a pointless post. As in, it's more pointless than my usual posts. So if you are interested in reading the usual comparatively less-pointless stuff that I irregularly churn out, come back in a couple of days. I'll try to make sure you're not disappointed.

It's been a hectic two weeks selling my car, TV, Foosball table, and other assorted stuff, wrapping up work, and packing everything I own into two suitcases. There's been no time to blog, and even lesser time to respond to comments. And now I'm finally back in Aamchi Mumbai for a couple of weeks of vacation time before I get back to the grind in Chennai.

I've observed a few things in the last few days, though.

Air India isn't that bad

No, really. They're not as rude as, say, Air France, not as off-schedule as, say, North-West, and not as uncomfortable as Biman Air. They get you from one spot to the other, and they do it fairly well considering that they have a plane full of Indians to deal with at the same time.

I'd forgotten how warm Bombay can be in October

It's raining in Chennai these days, and even that city has lower temperature than aamchi Mumbai. Thank goodness for air-conditioning.

I hate Zee TV more than I thought I did

I mean, really. My mother insists on watching every episode of every Ekta Kapoor show on TV, and I can't bring myself to be in the same room when one of them is running, for more than five minutes at a time.

Broadband in India is expensive

I mean MTNL wants me to pay Rs 1199 (a month!) for a 256 kbps connection with a 1.25 GB download limit. And my brother's 64 kbps/unlimited download cable connection doesn't allow me to set up my router so I can hook my laptop into the connection. Well, at least they say I can't. To he** with them.

I may call it writer's block, but I'm just too darned lazy

Really. I've been sitting on at least five blog ideas for a couple of months now. And instead of putting pen to paper (or to be more accurate, finger to keyboard), I've been spending my time reading Schlock Mercenary, Real Life Comics, and Down To Earth. I'll tell you, Web Comics can be extremely addictive. Specially if you decide you want to read through all the archives.

Enough rambling, I think. I intend to be back to more-frequent-than-regular blogging in the next couple of days.

Based On A True Story

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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This post comes to you with inspiration from Films Division (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India). The specific movie that this post came from, can be found here (link courtesy the wonderful goings-on at the clouds).

This post is also based on a true story that has taken the Indian blogosphere by storm. Read all about it.
The Birdies and The Hunter

It was a regular day in the forest and all the birdies were doing the usual stuff - building nests, teaching their kids to fly, and pecking at bird-seed.

The heroine of our story - whom we shall call Bird-E-Vun - was also going about her regular day looking for new piles of bird-seed. On this day, during her search she came across this pile of poisonous bird-seed. The nice birdie that she was, she tried to warn all the other birdies about it. Soon, she met Bird-E-Tu and told him about the poisonous pile too. Soon, Bird-E-Vun and Bird-E-Tu were both telling all their birdie friends about the pile of poisonous bird-seed.

Now this particular pile of bird-seed had been kept there by a vicious hunter, who wanted to catch a lot of birdies by poisoning them. Obviously, he didn't take too kindly to Bird-E-Vun and Bird-E-Tu driving all their little birdie friends away. The hunter first tried calling Bird-E-Vun a liar, and tried to drive her away. He called her names and tried to get her to keep her beak shut. When his tricks didn't work, he decided to trap all the little birdies that were helping Bird-E-Vun and Bird-E-Tu, using nets.

Even when Bird-E-Tu found himself caught in a net, he refused to stop telling his birdie friends that the pile of bird-seed was poisonous. This tale of bravery quickly spread far and wide across the jungle, and soon every birdie was talking about Bird-E-Vun and Bird-E-Tu. One by one, birdies arrived from around the jungle to help our birdie friends. The hunter used this opportunity to trap more little birdies. Seeing this, hundreds of little birdies gathered around the nets and helped lift them off the ground, freeing Bird-E-Tu and all the other little birdies that had got caught. Hundreds more descended on the hunter and started pecking at him. The hunter, scared to see so many birdies suddenly coming after him, turned around and ran far, far away from the jungle, never to trouble the little birdies again.

And all the little birdies lived happily together again.

And it was just the beginning...

Moral of the story: Don't try to stop free speech. Or we'll come after you.

This post may be a little premature, but I believe it will happen. Don't you?

It Takes A Geek

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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Long time, no short. Yes, I know. Apologies to those of you who've been disappointed by my update frequency, but work's been a killer.

Anyway. I found the responses to my previous story quite interesting, specially considering that I thought I was responding to popular demand. I should probably have paid more attention to the tale about the Miller and his son. Well, atleast I haven't lost my ass yet.

Whatever. Here's the next one.

Note: This one's just a bit on the geeky side, and requires remembering some grade school physics.

Invisible

They called him a mad scientist.

He looked at his invisibility potion. He'd show them.

So he drank the potion. And every part of him was transparent. Including his eyes.

Refraction stopped working. He was blind.

He could see no one. And no one could see him.

It drove him mad.
The End

Happily...

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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People have complained that there's been too much morbidity in my stories recently, and that it shows that there's something wrong with my head. Well, in my defense I've been reading Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors, and the stories in it are hardly cheerful, if you know what I mean.

Anyway. Here's the next installment of the 55-word story.

Ever After?

They met. They fell in love. They courted.

Soon he got a job, and they got married. They fought a little, but mostly it was a good marriage. They had two children - a boy and a girl.

They lived happily together till he died at the age of seventy-nine. She died a year later.

The End

Now don't tell me that dying of old age is also too morbid.

Excuses...

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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After a weekend and a day full of catching up with work, here is another short short.

Hitman

"Twelve," he thought, as he wiped the blade on the body.

They called him a hitman. He called himself a messenger.

"One murder or a dozen, there is only one Hell," he thought to himself as he dragged the body into a bush.

The Devil stood nearby, watching. He smiled.

The End

Jealousy

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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This is hard to stop.

Run

Sally won the gold medal for the 100-metre sprint for two years straight. The third year she came second by a hair's width.

That evening they found the winner's dead body in a dumpster. They caught Sally when her motorcycle fell and the bloody knife fell out.

She could run, but she couldn't ride.

The End

Sombre

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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Another short story.

Stone

"Why stone?" asked the girl.

"I was alive once," said the gargoyle.

"I too laughed, played, danced, loved...

"And lost.

"It hurt. I cried. The pain was unbearable.

"So I turned into stone. Stone feels no pain."

The girl looked at the gargoyle silently. Then she walked away.

The gargoyle didn't.

The End

Me No Grimm Either

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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How about a fairy-tale short short?

Princess Diaries

There was once a princess who slept on a pea and hurt her back. Seven dwarf lawyers sued an evil witch for it. The princess beat the witch with her glass slipper. This broke a spell and the witch turned into a handsome prince. The frog was jealous, but they lived happily ever after.

The End

Me No Agatha Christie

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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Here's a murder mystery in 55 words.

Murder

The detectives arrive on the scene.

"Looks like murder," they say. "He's been shot in the chest."

The maid is sobbing. The wife seems to be in shock.

"Do you suspect anyone, ma'am?" they ask the wife.

She looks at them sadly. "The gun's in the cupboard. He was having an affair with the maid."

The End

Aesop Revisited

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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Attempt number two (or three, depends on how you're counting) at the tag.
A fable this time.

Slow And Steady

"Race?" suggested the hare.

"Sure," said the tortoise. The tortoise always wins, he thought.

"Ready, set, go!"

The hare bounced away. The tortoise shuffled forward slowly.

I won’t stop for a nap this time, thought the hare. Half way to the finish line, a hunter shot him dead.

The tortoise always wins.

The End

A Love Story In 53 Words

Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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So what kind of story can you write in less than 55 words? Any kind, really.
Do you?

"Go on!" his friends urge him. "Tell her how you feel. You never know. She may feel the same way about you too."

So he walks over to her. "I love you," he says. "Do you love me too?"

She pauses for a moment before replying. He looks familiar. "No", she decides finally.

The End

More tomorrow. So do come back!

Wham Bam...

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It began here - etcetera - In Brief,
was inspired by this - 55 Fiction
and reached me via him - J. Alfred Prufrock.

To summarize, the tag is to write one or more stories, in less than 55 words each. And since you always pay this kind of thing forward, here are my victims -

Now 55 words is generally not enough for me (even though zero tends to work out fine quite often). So in attempting to write one short short, I ended up with multiple stories. And I suspect there'll be more coming up.

This one's just to warm up -
The Beginning

"Hey," says a voice. "You’ve been tagged. Write a story in 55 words or less."

The blogger awakes.

"55 words," he thinks. "Hmm."

He flexes his fingers. "Let the writing begin..."

The End

3108?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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I'd be grateful if no one noticed that I've cheated by back-dating this post by a couple of hours. I blame this on one of my roommates who used IE (that browser from hell) on some suspicious websites on my laptop over the weekend as a result of which I had to spend a large part of the evening off the network scanning my (mostly full) 60 Gig harddrive for viruses.

Here's a snippet of a conversation I had with a friend today -
"Today is Blog Day," she said.
"Oh, I thought it was Wednesday," I replied.
"My God! Do you really think that was funny?" she asked incredulously.
"No," I said, "but it was definitely worth a try."
"You need help," she said.
"Someone comes up with yet another Hallmark holiday, and I'm the one that needs help?"
"Oh, come on. You're acting like you're Scrooge or something."
"Wow. I've never heard you use that kind of language before."
"No, no! Scrooge! With a G!"
"Scrooge?"
"Yes. From A Christmas Carol?"
"Which one?"
"No, the book!"
"There's a christmas carol that's as long as a book talking about something called Scrooge?"
"Rajesh!"
"Ok, ok! I'm Scrooge."

And that's how it went. More or less.

So, today is Blog Day, or as Technorati calls it, . And they chose the 31st of August, because '3108', looks like 'Blog' in the forgotten tongue of the Dogonowa tribe of central Africa. Something like that anyway.

Conversation snippet # 2 -
"3108?" I asked. "That's so stupid. It should have been 3106."
"Ah," she replied.
"I'm sure whoever came up with the idea probably didn't want to wait till June next year to celebrate it. So they just went with August."
"The 31st of June?" she asked.
"Yes. But it's two months too late, right? So they probably thought..."
"The 31st of June?" she repeated.
"Yes?"
"So it's like a leap year then?"
"Oh."

Anyway.

Apparently, today's the day that Bloggers have, that is "dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On this day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors." And I'm supposed to find five blogs to link to.

Even though replicating my blogroll here would be quite easy, the intent is to go and discover new blogs (which I shall take to mean blogs I'd not come across before), and recommend five of them to you. Of course, I shall still cheat, and name blogs I've come across only recently, or blogs I don't visit very often but like very much nonetheless.

  • Samit Basu is India's first SFF (Science Fiction and Fantasy, for the uninitiated) writer. I discovered him fairly recently, when I saw a Terry Pratchett reference to his book The Simoqin Prophecies which was published when we was 23. (Why didn't I drop out of an IIM? Heck, why didn't I ever apply to an IIM?)

  • Eric Raymond is the geek who's probably most known for his paper The Cathedral And The Bazaar. He knows Terry Pratchett! If only Terry Pratchett had a blog too. Sadly, he doesn't.

  • But at least Neil Gaiman does. I haven't read Gaiman's Sandman comic books, but I've been hearing a lot of good stuff about them. I have read Good Omens though. He co-authored it with Terry Pratchett.

  • Post Secret is a blog I drop in at every now and then. Frank Warren asked people to send him postcards with secrets anonymously in November 2004. It was supposed to be his contribution to a Washington DC art exhibition. Today it's a way for people to share their secrets with millions of people around the world. Sometimes funny. Sometimes angry. Mostly very moving.

  • Kiran Jonnalagadda or Jace for short. He worked for The Jasubhai Group's Digit magazine once, and maintained a technology forum at www.Lunateks.com. I helped him maintain it at one time, until both of us got busy. The site was run off one of Digit's servers until it went offline.

There. Done.

Saving The World, One Clean Vegetable At A Time

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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A: So, you are sure about this.
B: Yup.
A: Really.
B: Yup.
A: Writing a comic-book is how you want to begin your career in the literary world.
B: Yup.
A: Okay. Whatever you say.
B: Hey, I'm not kidding. I can draw pretty well. And write a bit.
A: And you won't have to worry about grammar as much.
B: Exactly!
A: But do you have a basic theme for the comic-book?
B: I've thought about that a bit, and I've decided to do a superhero comic-book.
A: Superhero?
B: Yup.
A: Isn't that a little old? I mean almost every kind of super-hero has already been done twice over. What kind of superhero would you create?
B: Oh, I had a couple of ideas about that. But I think I'm going to go with "Mr Clean".
A: Mr Clean?
B: Yup. He turns into a sponge whenever something gets dirty.
A: A sponge?
B: Yup. A big yellow sponge.
A: Umm...
B: And his secret identity will be Robert Bleach.
A: Robert Bleach?
B: Yup. Of course, this comic-book will be targeted at housewives.
A: I think you're a little late with your idea. There already is a sponge called Bob.
B: Really?
A: Yes. And he's not exactly a superhero.
B: Hunh? What a waste of sponge!
A: Right.
B: Well, my other idea was Spinach Man.
A: Spinach Man?
B: Yes. He gets his super strength from spinach.
A: I think they've done that too.
B: That too?
A: Yes. It was very long ago. You know, I think you need to stop thinking about sponges and vegetables.
B: Oh. So you think Captain Celery won't make a good superhero?
A: Oh I'm sure he will. But I just think that your idea is a little ahead of its time.
B: Yeah, me too.
A: Maybe you need to think more in terms of special powers that can be used to save the world, you know?
B: Now that's a very good idea!
A: I know.
B: Hmmm. Let me think. Hey! I got one!
A: What is it?
B: I could write about Writer Boy!
A: Writer Boy? I thought you were writing a superhero comic book.
B: Yes, and that's the name of my superhero. Writer Boy!
A: And what does he do exactly?
B: He saves the world from evil villains by arriving at the scene, and writing a happy ending.
A: Ah.
B: It's a fantastic idea, isn't it? Just imagine. The evil villain plants a bomb on a bus, and tries to trigger it off by remote control from his hideout.
A: I'm listening.
B: Writer Boy appears on the scene and saves the day by writing a happy ending where the battery on the remote control receiver of the bomb dies, and the people get off the bus safe and sound!
A: Ah. Sounds interesting.
B: Didn't I tell you? I'm going to make millions!
A: I'm sure you will. But every superhero has a weakness. What will your hero's weakness be?
B: That's a good question. A superhero isn't a superhero if he doesn't have a weakness. Hmmm. I know! Writer's Block!
A: I don't think you can use Writer's block as a weakness for a super hero. It needs to be something that the evil villain can use.
B: Good point. Ah yes! His weakness will be broccoli!
A: Broccoli?
B: Yes. Writer Boy can't stand broccoli. It makes him nauseous, and he can't control the ending. Writer Boy gets into a bad mood, and could write any sort of ending if he comes too close to broccoli.
A: You know, broccoli is actually very good for you.
B: You sound like my mom.
A: I am your mom.
B: Ah. I thought you looked familiar.
A: You know, I think you should go get ready, or you'll be late for school.
B: But I told you, I don't want to go to school. I don't need to! I'm going to write a comic-book!

When Harry Met...

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: ,
It's one of those seedy pubs - the kind where you get drunk on the alcohol fumes, and get cancer on the passive smoking. The kind where the floors are wet with spilled beer - sometimes spilled on its way into a drunk, or as is the case more often, on its way out. Customers here tend not to get remembered when they return. It could be the whiskey. Or it could be the fact that it's difficult to recognize a man who has spent most of his time in the bar lying on his face.

At one corner of the bar, a man sits alone, staring at the empty glass an inch from his eyes, his wallet empty. He's hoping that any moment now someone will walk into the pub and shout "I got promoted today! One round of drinks for everyone, on me!"

Well, he's allowed to hope, isn't he?

He wears a somewhat loose black t-shirt, apparently hand-embroidered with pink, orange and lavender colored threads. The letters on the back of the T-shirt say K.I.S.A.

The only thing that separates this drinker from the rest of the riff-raff in the pub, is that his t-shirt looks clean. Washed, anyway.

A random drinker approaches the bar for a refill. He looks like a stockbroker who may have lost a few million today. He's not been drinking too long, so unfortunately for himself, he's still relatively sober. Relatively, of course, being the operative word. He notices our K.I.S.A. friend sitting alone in his corner.

"Heeeeeeeey!" he says to the man in the t-shirt, swaying as he speaks.

The man in the t-shirt turns slowly to look at him, as if half asleep. He nods.
Encouraged, the stockbroker sits down on the barstool next to his.

"Mind if I... ssssh-sit here withhhhhh... you?" he asks. In a short while speech will become more difficult - which will allow him to concentrate on his drink. But for now he's feeling chatty.

"No," comes the reply.

"Gooooood-d!" says the stockbroker as he sits down, and smiles widely. "My name is... is... Harry!" he shouts, and extends his hand. The shouting wasn't necessary, but it feels good to exercise the vocal chords.

The man in the t-shirt doesn't bother with replying or extending his own hand, and goes back to staring at his glass.

Harry shakes hands with the air, and says "Nic-sh-c-sh-e to meet you!"

The man in the t-shirt doesn't seem to feel the same.

Harry looks at the letters on the t-shirt and says "Naai... Niiiice embra... em-bra... embryo... em-bar-dery... colours!"

At this, the man in the t-shirt turns to him and says "Thank you. I did it myself."

"Gooooood!" says Harry, and smiles even wider. His smile is the kind that reminds one of the story of the man who smiled so much, that the top of his head fell off.

"What doesh... K-K-Kaaaay... Aaaaiii... Esssssshhh-ssh-sss... Aaaay... What'shit shtand forrr?"

"Knight In Shining Armour."

"Kniiight?" asks Harry.

"Yes," says the knight.

"Then where ish... your... your... horshe?"

"I hired him out to a man in Manhattan. He gives people joyrides around Central Park."

"Annnd the sh-sh-shiningggg arrrmour?"

"Gave it to a guy who needed a costume for a party."

"Shh-shhh-shworrrd?"

"That too. But it's okay. I nailed the hilt to the scabbard."

"But ww-w-w-why?"

"Because I'm out of a job and it was the only way I could think of getting my hands on some money."

"No jobbbb?"

"Nope. None at all."

"Thaaat shucksh!" says Harry, and pats the knight on the shoulder. "Get ano... ano... another onne!"

The knight looks Harry in the eye and says "Do you know how hard it is for a knight to get a decent job these days?"

"No," says Harry simply.

"Well, the last dragons died in 1572."

"No drrrragons?"

"No. The knights of that time had no understanding of the delicately balanced nature of the ecology. They killed them all!"

"No drrraggonsss... Go to Chinatown!" says Harry happily.

The knight decides to ignore him. "And you should see the women these days! They don't even need us anymore!"

"They don't?" asks Harry. The thought of women not needing men sobers him up a little.

"Of course not. They want to be independent now! They have jobs!"

"Mmmm," says Harry as he runs his tongue over his teeth. "Must be the chicken," he thinks.

"I nearly had a heart attack when I found out that they're actually learning self-defense!"

Harry nods vigorously. He wishes someone had told him a little earlier, though.

"I mean, women and self-defense? What do they think knights are for? Playing chess?"

"Hmmmm," says Harry. He wonders why playing chess at night is not a good idea.

"I was walking down a street the other day," continues the knight. Without my mask on, looking for a job as usual, when the most wonderful sight caught my eye. There was this drunk-looking man shouting at a woman who was passing by."

"'Ah!' I had thought. 'Finally a something to do!' I'd planned to rescue the woman from the drunk. Maybe she'd fall in love with me. Maybe she'd offer to make me dinner. If nothing else, maybe she'd offer me some money!"

"Ah," said Harry wisely.

"So, I stepped into a shop to put my mask on. I have my secret identity to protect, after all. But by the time I stepped back out, what did I see?"

"Whhhaaat?" asks Harry, in suspense.

"The drunk was lying on the ground on his stomach, the woman had her knee pressed against his back, and was twisting his arm behind him!"

"Ah," says Harry. He makes a mental note to stay away from any women after he leaves the bar.

"It's as if there is no purpose to my life anymore!"

"Ah," says Harry.

"Stop it with the 'Ah's already. And what are you staring at?"

"Niiiice em-brai-drrree."

Stop! Thief! : Celestial Conversations - XXII

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Belief: Celestial Conversations - XXI
God: Hello!
Me: Hi! You've been missing a long time now.
God: Someone's reported Me missing?
Me: No, no! I meant that I haven't seen You in a long time.
God: You haven't actually seen me, ever. This is the internet.
Me: Right, but You know what I mean.
God: And that is?
Me: Nothing!
God: You can't mean nothing. Or why would you bother to speak at all?
Me: Oh God!
God: What?
Me: I wasn't talking to You!
God: How many Gods do you believe in anyway?
Me: Hundreds I guess. I'm a Hindu.
God: Ah.
Me: Anyway. Where have You been?
God: Everywhere, of course. There's a reason they call Me Omnipresent.
Me: I mean, I haven't seen You online in a long time.
God: Yes. And?
Me: Why haven't I seen You online in a long time?
God: Oh, someone stole My laptop.
Me: Oh! So where are You chatting from now?
God: A computer in the school library.
Me: Ah.
God: Yes. It's quite hard.
Me: What, the computer?
God: No. Losing it.
Me: You've lost it?
God: I just told you, it got stolen!
Me: No, I meant that as a joke.
God: Joke? What joke?
Me: I... Never mind.
God: Whatever you say.
Me: So, did the cops say they could get it back?
God: No. They told me it was probably God's will.
Me: Strange cops. But why would You want Your laptop stolen?
God: That's exactly what I said!
Me: And?
God: They gave me funny looks.
Me: Of course they did. What else would You expect people to do if You go around saying You're God?
God: But I am God!
Me: So?
God: *sigh* So what was I saying?
Me: You were talking about Your laptop.
God: Ah, yes. I lost a lot of data.
Me: Like what?
God: Like telephone numbers, my address book, 50 recipes on how to make a meal out of bread and peanut butter, and the list of people who are allowed to be in Heaven.
Me: You need a list?
God: Of course!
Me: Why would You need a list?
God: To be able to tell if someone was living in Heaven illegally.
Me: Oh.
God: Yes. I had to start the list, after we realized that there was a pizza guy who had come to make a delivery and never bothered to leave.
Me: Ah. But aren't You supposed to use St Peter's Big Book for that?
God: Yes. We got an electronic copy after the Pope fiasco.
Me: Oh yes. So did The Pope get in, finally?
God: Oh, he got tired of waiting and went back to inhabit the new guy.
Me: Okay.
God: Yes.
Me: So You were saying You got an electronic copy of the Big Book.
God: Yes.
Me: And the original?
God: We had to destroy that. There can only be one Big Book.
Me: Really?
God: Yes. It's got something to do with copying from the right, or something.
Me: You mean copyrights?
God: That's what I said.
Me: Um...
God: Anyway. So we're in a bit of a soup now.
Me: Oh?
God: Yes. Everyone's arguing about how they think some of the others aren't really supposed to be in Heaven.
Me: Oh. And you didn't get any backup?
God: What didn't I get back?
Me: No, I meant, didn't you backup your data?
God: Backup?
Me: Yes?
God: What's Backup?
Me: It's copying your information somewhere else, for safety.
God: Like into a book?
Me: No, like on a CD.
God: Aren't CDs too small?
Me: Of course not. You could fit an encyclopedia onto a CD.
God: By writing very small?
Me: Hunh?
God: Aren't CDs these shiny pieces of plastic, a little bigger than the palm of your hand?
Me: Yes?
God: Well, if I wrote on one of them, I'd barely be able to fit the Ten Commandments on them.
Me: What?
God: And I'd have to use one of those felt-pen things. Pencils don't write very well on CDs.
Me: Eh?
God: And they're so shiny, I'm sure it'd be quite difficult to read from them. I think I'll just use a notebook.
Me: Um.
God: Call Me old-fashioned. I never really got the hang of technology, I guess.
Me: I'd have to agree.
God: It's a little hard to keep in touch with all the new things people keep inventing. Like the stuff they can do with a ringtone, for example. Makes My head spin sometimes.
Me: Right.
God: Anyway. I'll be off then. Must buy that notebook.
Me: Bye then.
God: Bye.

Next: One of Us: Celestial Conversations - XXIII

Public Proposals

Link
on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: ,
A story I posted as a comment on the blog linked above -
Birthday Party

It's the girl's birthday. She's opening her presents. People are gathered around. As is usual on the girlfriend's birthday, the BF's present is opened last. It's this huge box, almost as tall as the girl herself.

"Did you get me a giant teddy bear?"

BF smiles.

She rips open the box, to find a whole lot of confetti, and a smaller box inside. It's around waist-high.

"Oh, it's that cute Victorian-style dressing table stool, isn't it?"

BF smiles even wider. He seems to be sweating just a little.

She rips open the box to find even more confetti, and a smaller box inside, around two feet high.

"A small TV for my room?"

BF adjusts his collar, still smiling.

She rips open the box to find yet another pile of confetti and a much smaller box.

"Ah, I know!" she says excitedly. "It's an iPod isn't it?"

BF is still smiling, but looks quite worried now.

She rips that open too, and finds confetti. She turns the box upside-down, and watches the confetti float softly to the ground. She shakes the box hoping that a smaller box will fall out.

Nothing.

She turns around to look at BF angrily. "What...?"

There's a collective gasp from the guests.

He's on his knees, holding a small ring with a large diamond in his hands. "Sweetheart, will you marry me?"

She's shocked.

He looks up at her expectantly.

She looks around at all the guests.

They look back at her.

The tension in the room is palpable.

A tear appears in her eyes.

He gets to his feet, and puts his arms around her. She cries against his chest.

Then he pulls back, and slips the ring onto her unresisting finger.

There is much celebration, women shrieking, guys shouting, and lots of people hugging each other.

The guests go home.

As the girl says goodbye to the last guest and shuts the door behind them, she turns around to face the BF.

"How dare you?" she asks.

"Hunh?" (Come on, he's a guy)

"How DARE you???"

"I..."

"You didn't even have the common courtesy to ask me in private first?"

"Uh... umm..."

"Just assumed I'd say yes, did you?"

"Well..."

"No warning even!"

"I..."

"In front of all those people!"

"Er..."

"Do you know how embarrassing it was for me?"

"I'm..."

She slips the ring off her finger.

"?"

"You did it on purpose didn't you? You proposed in front of all those people so that I wouldn't be able to say no."

"!"

Gives ring back to him.

"!!!"

"And you still owe me my birthday gift."

" "

"And to make up for it, you'll get me that giant teddy bear. One with a bow. A small TV for my room. An iPod. And you'll engrave my name on the back. Not yours. Just mine. And there'll be so many bouquets of flowers, that I won't have enough place in the house to keep them. And a big box of chocolates. Make that two."

BF looks at her blankly.

"Do you understand me?"

He nods.

"Good."

She walks toward the bedroom.

"Close the door when you leave. I'm going to sleep."

The End

BF = Bloody Fool


Now for the prologue. Yes, I could simply call it the background for the story, but big authors who get paid to write, call it a prologue, and I haven't given up my Pulitzer hopes yet.

The inimitable aNTi (I haven't yet figured out what he is anti, but that's the topic for a whole new blog) wrote something that caught my eye the other day. And to make it more interesting, one of the things that gave him the the idea for what he wrote, was one of my stories.

Yes, I know it's confusing. And the fact that I'm feeling particularly literarily-challenged (is that even a word?) right now, isn't helping. But anyway.

Referring to an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Raymond proposes to Debra (now his wife) in public, aNTi asks the following question -
In ficticious works of art, like the [Everybody Loves Raymond] episode mentioned above, I notice that a lot of protagonists getting the message across in full view of a lot other people. Does this happen in real life too? Do you guys know of any incidents where such acts have backfired, and the gal goes - "Hmmmm...., I am not so sure"?...

The short story I've reproduced above, was my attempt at describing what might happen in that case. As mentioned earlier, it can also be found as a comment to that blog post, and since I tend to collect my stories on this blog, I decided to reproduce it here (with some editing).

Not to mention that it's a good way to slightly increase my pathetic blogging frequency.

Which brings to mind the fact that I sometimes feel I've written more interesting comments on other people's blogs in the recent past, than I've written posts on my own blog.

A New Look

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels:
For those who haven't been watching (and my site statistics tell me that must be at least half of you out there) I hit a century with my last post. And it took me more than one year after I started blogging on this site. And with this 101th post, I am also choosing to get rid of Blogger's Snapshot Sable template.

So, those of you who've been here before, will notice that I've changed the look of the blog somewhat. Alright. A little more than 'somewhat'.

The new design was developed from scratch by yours truly, over a period of three to four months. Right from the creation of the initial mockups, to the basic html framework, and the slow refinement of the same to make it all work on Blogspot. Yes, I'm slow. But in my defense, I'm not a web designer. At one time, one of the main reasons for the lull in my posting frequency was the amount of time I spent on the re-design. When you try to do something that you don't have a natural talent for, it tends to take quite a while to complete.

And then, a couple of months went by looking for the right moment to inflict it on you, the poor unsuspecting reader.

I've learnt a number of things during the process of designing this template. A few of them are -
  • IE really sucks with respect to standards compliance. So your blog will look exactly the same in Firefox, Opera, and Safari, but IE will screw it up.
  • Microsoft, by not fixing CSS bugs in Internet Explorer, is really holding the web back. As an example, imagine semi-transparent backgrounds.
  • 65% of people out there, for some reason, still use that god-forsaken browser. (I'm still talking about IE)
  • You really don't need to use the 'Table' tag to define your layout anymore.
  • I am not as creative as I had hoped I was.
  • The resolution of 800x600 is not dead.
  • You can't do with your browser what you can do with an image editor. (Okay, you can to extent, but then you'll need to forget that a lot of people who visit your blog use Internet Explorer)
I've used some Javascript on this page, and even set a few cookies, in an attempt to increase the user-friendliness of the design. The cookies don't violate your privacy. But the site should work just fine with Javascript and cookies disabled, so turn them off if you must. Also, this blog should still be readable if you turn off images. So those of you with limited bandwidth might want to consider doing that. The only thing that will disappear is the title and the tag-line. I still haven't figured out how to fix that.

As with anything new, there are a number of people to thank -
  • The Template Queen - whose fantastic work on her own blog opened my eyes to the amazing possibilities of blog-templates. A number of elements in my new design were inspired by ideas that she has used on her blog, even if I actually implemented them a little differently - like the basic blog layout, and the collapsing sidebar and sidebar sections. Not to mention that I did seek her sage advice during the development of this design. Advice which she was kind enough to give.
  • Spencer Kimball & Peter Mattis - for developing that wonderful piece of software called The GIMP, and all the other open-source developers out there who have helped bring it to its current state after S&P abandoned it at version 0.99. The GIMP is why miserly bloggers like me can afford to do their own image work, without having to fork out $600 for Adobe Photoshop. Of course, as a disclaimer to Photoshop fans out there, I haven't compared PhotoShop to The GIMP, so I really don't know how they compare feature-wise. All images used in the design on this template were created and edited using The GIMP 2.2.3 for Windows (The Windows build for 2.2.8 should be out in a couple of days. I plan to upgrade then).
  • Richard M Stallman and The GNU Foundation for developing and maintaining GNU Emacs - the only real editor. I used it exclusively for writing and working with HTML during the design of this template.
  • W3Schools for their excellent compilation of reference material on CSS. I'm the kind of person who generally prefers reading the specification, but this website fulfilled all my CSS needs, and quickly.
  • Peter-Paul Koch for sharing his simple Cookie manipulation functions with internet developers all over the world. I was feeling particularly lazy the day I decided to use cookies, and came across his website. The code he's written, is simple, and works very well. I never had a reason to try to rewrite the code on my own. (My excuse is that a good programmer is a lazy programmer)
  • The Mozilla Foundation for developing Gecko, the technology behind the Mozilla and Firefox Web-browsers. I've developed this template primarily using Firefox as my browser, and a number of its wonderful extensions for Web developers.
  • Opera Software for making their browser freely downloadable. This made it possible for me to test this template on both Opera 7 and 8.
  • The World Wide Web Consortium for maintaining and promoting Web Standards like CSS and XHTML. If all browsers stuck to these standards, the world-wide web would be a much better looking place.
Alright. I think I must stop now. This isn't the oscars.

Since I'm only a miserly blogger, and don't have access to every OS out there, this template was tested on Mozilla Firefox 1.0+, Opera 7 and 8, and IE 6.0 on Windows XP Professional, and Mozilla Suite and Mozilla Firefox on Fedora Linux Core 1 (I live in the past). I know that some of the people who visit this blog use other browsers - like IE 5, and Safari, so please let me know if this blog doesn't seem to behave correctly for you. Screenshots would help.

As a request to IE users out there, of course - Get Firefox. (This is specially for those of you on older versions like 5.x).

There. I've done it. Now back to regular blogging.

One Hundred Things To Rant About: Post #100

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels:
My first ever article/story published online was a collection of rants. So were a large number of posts I have published on this blog. The title of this blog itself, is a rant.

You see, my favourite activity in the world is to complain. When I was born, my first thought was - "Put me back in there! This place is cold! And it smells!"

My mother has had to bear the brunt of my complaining. When I was a kid, I used to complain about anything she cooked. Everything I ate, was too hot. Hot as in temperature, most of the time. And if it was ice cold, then it was still too hot. As in spicy. I have even claimed to find salted yoghurt too spicy. All the women who've had the misfortune to cook for me (my mom and my aunts), have at some time considered replacing the salt with rat poison. But they know I'd probably complain that the food smelt weird.

In spite of all the complaining though, I've been known to keep a cheery disposition. Most of the time, anyway. The secret to that, of course, is the complaining.
  1. I enjoy it.
  2. Having complained about something, I find it infinitely easier to deal with.
Of course, there is the problem of those things that you can't complain about. Things you're not allowed to complain about. Things that are too personal to tell anyone else. Things you can't share with anyone. These pent up frustrations can be quite depressing. But there's a slight solution to that too, right? Complain that you can't complain!

Yes. I'm quite crazy.

So, on this hundredth post of mine, I thought I'd compile a list of one hundred things that I have complained about at some time in my life.

In no particular order -
  1. Homework.
  2. Teachers who gave homework.
  3. Having to learn more than one language.
  4. Having to learn more than two languages.
  5. Exams.
  6. The fact that there are Integral equations that cannot be solved (Yes, I'm quite the math buff).
  7. Engineering submissions.
  8. No work.
  9. Too much work.
  10. Deadlines.
  11. Computers with 1GB of RAM that take 25 seconds to delete a zero-byte file.
  12. That there are no single women left on this planet.
  13. Women who claim they are single but really aren't.
  14. Children who swear more than I do.
  15. Not being able to bring myself to swear as much as some of my female classmates.
  16. Not being able to speak every third sentence without the F-word.
  17. Having to watch clean versions of movies on Star Movies with all the interesting parts removed.
  18. Global poverty.
  19. Global warming.
  20. Pollution.
  21. Printers that don't make it easy to print on both sides of the paper.
  22. Being misunderstood.
  23. Cafeteria food.
  24. My own cooking.
  25. Missing mom's cooking.
  26. That eating Chhole Bhature can give you gas.
  27. Having to eat rice everyday once I moved to Chennai.
  28. Chennai auto-rickshaw drivers.
  29. Power-failures in the sweltering Chennai summer.
  30. Waiting for the rains on a hot summer day.
  31. Waiting for the sun to come out on a rainy day.
  32. Potholes.
  33. People playing Holi with permanent colours.
  34. Women who ruffle my hair and mess it up minutes after I finally got it looking presentable.
  35. Women who say I'm "So Sweet!".
  36. That all women are different.
  37. That all women are the same.
  38. Being called "Uncle" when I was seventeen.
  39. Being the only person my age at a party.
  40. Attending a friend's wedding to find that they're the only people I know.
  41. Having to rice with my hands at a South-Indian wedding because a spoon would damage the banana leaf.
  42. Being given a spoon at the next South-Indian wedding even though I didn't ask for it.
  43. Plagiarism.
  44. Writer's block.
  45. People who write emails and blogs as if they were writing an SMS.
  46. HTML mail.
  47. Browsers that don't support web standards (read as IE).
  48. Inequality of the sexes.
  49. Men who beat their wives.
  50. Child-molestation.
  51. Rape.
  52. Suicide.
  53. Murder.
  54. Terrorism.
  55. Communalism.
  56. Sexism.
  57. Racism.
  58. Casteism.
  59. Hate.
  60. Cities where people lack civic sense.
  61. Cars that cost too much.
  62. Rising petrol prices.
  63. Restaurants in the US that give you ice in your water when the temperature outside is -5°F (~ -20°C).
  64. Sugar in lime-juice (Yes, like I mentioned before, I've got very specific tastes).
  65. People who don't follow the instructions on the back of the box when cooking Knorr instant soups even if it turns out more tasty than when I tried.
  66. Having to watch that growing dust-gathering pile of washed clothes on my roommate's bed, because he was too lazy to put them in the closet.
  67. Years later, watching a growing dust-gathering pile of washed clothes on my own bed, because I do not have the time (I'll fold them today, I promise).
  68. The fact that Lime'n'Spoon is not a national sport.
  69. Knowing that we probably won't learn if there is any other intelligent life in the universe, in my lifetime.
  70. The fact that I picked up my first Isaac Asimov book only after Asimov died.
  71. Not being able to lay my hands on a single unused copy of Asimov's Empire novels.
  72. That Douglas Adams never finished writing his last book.
  73. Talkative fellow passengers on an eight-hour flight when you are in no mood to socialize.
  74. Fellow passengers who keep to themselves on a nine-hour flight when you are extremely bored.
  75. Rude flight-stewardesses.
  76. Airline food.
  77. Mini pretzels.
  78. Juice shops that add water to their milk-shakes.
  79. Needing to have malaria to get time off from work.
  80. The fact that almost all my friends are getting engaged or married by the end of this year.
  81. People who buy movie tickets in black.
  82. Friends making me watch a movie with tickets bought in black.
  83. Hard and extremely sharp grass in the company lawn that was planted to make sure the employees do NOT sit on it.
  84. Reading a suspense story through to the end, only to find the last page missing.
  85. People who give away the plot of a book before you start reading it.
  86. Finding out who the killer was in the movie "Kaun" before I saw the movie.
  87. That most movie/book reviews have spoilers.
  88. That no word rhymes with "Orange".
  89. Missing a large number of movies I wanted to watch because I didn't have company.
  90. Reaching the US when a movie I wanted to watch is no longer running in movie halls.
  91. Returning back to India to find that the movie is no longer running in movie halls there either.
  92. That it's extremely difficult to get company to watch a show on Broadway.
  93. That my cellular provider won't switch me to a post-paid plan without changing my number.
  94. Spam.
  95. Having to throw away food because we couldn't eat it all before it went bad.
  96. People who don't cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough.
  97. People who put the wrong thing in the wrong shelf (No, the plates do NOT go in the same shelf as the pressure cooker!).
  98. People who don't try to clean up the mess right after they spill something.
  99. Roommates who use your blanket without asking if they can.
  100. That when it comes to things to complain about, one hundred is too small a number.
There! I feel better now.

The Year Ahead

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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No. It's not this blog's birthday.

First of all, I prefer the term blog-anniversary. So if anything, it is one day past the first anniversary of this blog. Not a blog birthday. Not a blog anniversary. Okay?

So now you're going to say that that's not true. The earliest post on this blog seems to be posted on the 17th of April, last year. Well see, that was just to throw you off. *evil grin*

I did start blogging on the 17th of April in 2004. But that was on Sulekha. That "blog" if you want to call it that, can be found here. The first post on this blog was posted on the 5th of June, 2004. Once I started blogging here a little more regularly, I just copied my first ever blog post to this site, with the original date. Why? Oh, it felt like the right thing to do at the time.

Anyway. So, what else is special today?

Let's see. It's the 6th of June in the year 2005. That's 6/6/5. So one year from now, the date will be 6/6/6. The year of the Devil is just a year away.

Yes, I know. Very funny.

So, I've been blogging here for more than a year now. What next?

Well, I have a couple of things on my mind. First, hopefully, I'll start blogging everyday again. (Of course, that's probably just wishful thinking).

The other thing I've been thinking about, is starting a blog version of a soap opera. Why? Oh, just like that. It's something to do. In general of course, I've always been afraid of sharing a half-finished story with the world. But I'vevjust begun writing a story for which I don't have a specific end in mind, and I think I'll have to watch it evolve over an extended period of time, to see where it goes. And now I've experimented with episodic blogging in the Celestial Conversations, so I'm just a little more comfortable with the idea of publishing an incomplete story.

I've read stories split over multiple parts on blogs before. One of my favourite bloggers who does this, calls herself Fizo_Al on Sulekha. She now also blogs on blogger sometimes. Of course, I haven't read any of her latest stories, but they used to be quite interesting to follow.

What I'm going to attempt, though, isn't supposed to have a specific end. At least not yet. So writing something, and then not being able to go back and change it, is a little scary.
Still, let's see.

So does that mean that there will be no more Celestial Conversations? Naah. My God's not going anywhere yet. *smile*

I've also had this idea for a blog sit-com for a few months. I haven't been able to write one complete paragraph about that yet, though. Hopefully the new year of blogging will bring me some new words.

There's also that play-type comedy that I've been unable to complete for almost two years now. And the long pending blog-template update.

Lots of blogging to do. So little time.

(Alright. I can't resist it. Happy Belated Birthday Bloggy!)

Plagiarism Returns: This is getting ridiculous

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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In a moment of intense masochism a couple of weeks ago, I set up a Google Alert for the following piece of text - "it was a lovely december morning" (Yes, I hear you saying "Don't tell me you're still going on about that", but I've been known to be quite persistent about certain things).

So, last night Google sent me the following link - Sulekha Expressions

Now, I was initially a little surprised to see that link there, since JALS hasn't been on the main Sulekha page in ages. So I clicked on the link that took me to the page, and as I expected, my story wasn't there.

Still a little curious, I checked Google's cache. And was taken to this page - Google Cache for Sulekha Expressions. (The cache entry will probably expire soon, so here's a screenshot for the sake of posterity).

As you can imagine, my surprise soon turned to shock. Someone had plagiarised my story on Sulekha itself! Yes, it did get taken off the site within a day or so, but still! The fact that it went through their review process (one that lasted four months the last time I sent them a story of mine) and passed, is proof of a gaping hole in the way Sulekha functions, isn't it?

My disillusionment with Sulekha has been increasing for quite some time.

  • The management behind the portal, specially the creative section, is hardly professional anymore.
    Here's a something I heard from a fellow Sulekha author -
    "I submitted the story a few months ago to Sulekha, and they rejected it - quite rudely - telling me that I should consider adding a little humour to it. I then tried submitting it without any changes, a couple of months later under a different name, and this time they published it in a couple of weeks."
    For the record, I considered that particular story quite funny.
  • They keep adding new sections to their portal, without bothering to fix serious existing bugs.
  • The link to the "Vintage" article on the site hasn't been changed in almost two years.
  • Submissions sometimes take months to appear on the site, and then appear without letting the author know.
  • Sulekha management is unresponsive.
  • Their weblogs were supposed to have RSS support a year ago, and there is no sign of that yet.
  • Private submissions magically became public during the last major upgrade, and there is no way to delete them now.
  • The site design is confusing to say the least.

And now this.

Unfortunately, it is probably still the most popular forum for the Indian Community on the internet. And until that changes, they won't have any motivation to get their act together.

So, I'd just like to thank the kind soul who pointed the plagiarism out to the authorities. Thank you!

Update: Fixed broken link to JALS

Belief: Celestial Conversations - XXI

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Prayers and Art: Celestial Conversations - XX
God: Hello
Me: Hi!
God: So, did you do anything interesting recently?
Me: Oh. I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
God: Ah. On Discovery Channel?
Me: No, no! This is a movie, and is based on a radio show and a five-part trilogy by Douglas Adams.
God: Five-part Trilogy?
Me: It's complicated. But it's funny.
God: If you say so.
Me: It's quite nice.
God: So, this Douglas Adams chap.
Me: Yes?
God: Is he any good?
Me: He was, yes. Very good.
God: Was?
Me: He died a few years ago.
God: Oh. May I bless his soul.
Me: Amen.
God: I think I'll try to pick up one his books at the library.
Me: Uh, You might not like his writing all that much.
God: Why? You just said he was very good.
Me: Well he was an atheist.
God: So?
Me: That means he doesn't believe in God.
God: And?
Me: You're God.
God: I happen to be quite aware of that particular fact.
Me: And it doesn't bother You?
God: Why should it bother Me?
Me: Why wouldn't it bother You if someone doesn't believe You exist? In fact, Douglas Adams gave this long lecture once, about how he was convinced that You don't exist.
God: Would it bother you if someone somewhere stood up in the middle of a classroom and tried to convince everyone that you don't exist?
Me: Um... Probably not. In fact, I think I'd find it funny.
God: Same here.
Me: Interesting.
God: I don't have the slightest problem with atheists. They're a very amiable sort. It's the theists that I have trouble with.
Me: Hunh?
God: I'm not kidding.
Me: And why would You say that?
God: Because it's true! Atheists don't go around killing people in your name. Atheists don't blame you for everything that's wrong in the world.
Me: But atheists kill people too.
God: Not any more than theists. But at least they don't say it's for My sake.
Me: Surely, it's not all like that...
God: Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night because a six year old child was praying to you to make his father stop beating him?
Me: Uh...
God: Have you ever had anyone pray to you to make their pain from chemotherapy stop?
Me: Um...
God: Did you know that almost every hitman says a silent prayer for forgiveness right before or after he makes a hit?
Me: Er...
God: Do you know how helpless it can feel to not be able to be able to feed a family of seven, after the father - the only earning member - died after being run over by a truck, all because of the policy of non-interference?
Me: I guess not.
God: It can be quite hard to be Me.
Me: I'm sure I can't imagine how hard.
God: I wish I could do something. But changing one thing today, changes an infinite number of things in the future. Moving a pin from one side of a desk to the other side, means billions of people who will never be born.
Me: I've read about that kind of thing. I believe the chaos theory is all about stuff like that.
God: You people have come up with a theory about chaos?
Me: I guess so.
God: Human beings never cease to amaze me.
Me: Well, it was You who created us.
God: I did no such thing!
Me: So You're still sticking to that story?
God: Story?
Me: That the universe just happened, and that it wasn't Your fault?
God: That's not a story.
Me: Fine.
God: Good. But tell me, what about you?
Me: Me?
God: Yes, you. Do you believe in Me?
Me: Um... er... Oh! Look at the time, will You? I had better go now!
God: Oh, okay. Good night then.
Me: Good night.

Next: Stop! Thief! : Celestial Conversations - XXII

We don't need no discrimination

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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Sticking to fiction kills a blogger's blogging frequency. No? I think so.

Are numerical digits any different from letters of the alphabet? Weren't all ASCII characters created equal? Don't all of them occupy the same number of bits? Isn't 'W' just as long to a computer as '1'? Would you buy a keyboard with a missing 'E' over one with a missing '0' (zero)?

What is this discrimination for, then? Why do these royal 'numbers' get to parade on a keyboard over the common lot of the 'letters', then? Is Mathematics any more important than English? How would you say three thousand seven hundred and sixty nine, if you didn't have language?

How would you sign a cheque? How would Milton talk about Paradise Lost? How would Shakespeare say 'Hamlet'?

Is equality only for the sexes then?

What's the point of all this?

Oh, nothing. I'm just sleepy.

Prayers and Art: Celestial Conversations - XX

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Bye, Mom! Bye Dad!!: Celestial Conversations XIX



God: Hello.
Me: Hi! So what have You been up to?
God: Oh, quite a lot, actually. We're working on getting that new school up and running.
Me: Ah, that must feel nice.
God: Yes, it does. It's been quite a long time since I've involved Myself personally in helping out.
Me: Really?
God: Yes, quite a long time. The last time I personally did something to help someone, was when I taught Leonardo to sketch.
Me: Da Vinci???
God: No, of course not! He's the one who taught Me to paint. I meant Di Caprio.
Me: What?
God: For that movie he did about that ship that sank.
Me: The Titanic?
God: Ah, yes. That's the one.
Me: You taught Leonardo Di Caprio how to sketch for that movie?
God: Well, I tried. I'm supposed to be the best teacher there is, but Leo was not a very good student. I heard that the director finally decided to do the sketch himself.
Me: Do You have any idea what the sketch was of?
God: No, unfortunately not. I got bored and left early.
Me: Good.
God: Good?
Me: Oh nothing, nothing! So, You watch movies?
God: I try to. I find the whole idea of movie-making quite interesting.
Me: You do?
God: Oh yes! Fiction, theatre, movies - they're all a wonderful concept that you people have come up with. It's a celebration of the act of lying. Human beings are really quite a strange species, don't you think?
Me: Um, I guess we are.
God: Oh, you definitely are. There was this guy I used to talk to, a few hundred years ago. His name had something to do with milk-shakes.
Me: Milk-shakes?
God: Yes. It was a strange name. Anyway. So he's the one who explained the concept to Me. It's quite simple, really. You start with a small lie, build a large number of lies around the first one, and keep going until you get bored. That's fiction. Act it out, and that's theatre. Capture it on film, and that's movies.
Me: Interesting definitions there.
God: Oh, you must take My word for it. He explained it quite clearly. He even made Me write a few stories just to make sure I understood how it worked.
Me: Really? What did You write?
God: Oh, nothing special. Very amateurish stuff. There was one about this young couple who fell in love, but their parents wouldn't let them get married. So they killed themselves.
Me: Umm...
God: And one about a pair of twins - a girl and a boy. Both of them were cross-dressers.
Me: Er...
God: That one was a bit ahead of its time.
Me: Yes, but -
God: And there was one about these three women who used to meet for a cup of coffee around this cauldron in the middle of the jungle, and give people bad advice. The wife of one of the guys who took their advice got OCD.
Me: OCD?
God: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She kept wanting to wash her hands.
Me: That's -
God: Yes, like I said, quite amateurish.
Me: I won't even ask. But You were saying that Leonardo Da Vinci taught You to paint?
God: Yes. But I must say I wasn't very good at it.
Me: You weren't?
God: No. I tried painting a portrait of this woman once. I could never get her face right.
Me: Oh.
God: Yes. I kept getting the smile wrong. It looked hideous.
Me: You -
God: Oh it was an embarrassment. I believe it even hung in someone's bathroom for sometime.
Me: You painted -
God: Oh, look at the time! I must be going now. We're taking admissions for the school.
Me: Oh, okay.
God: Bye!
Me: Hey, God.
God: Yes?
Me: Wanted to say one thing before You left.
God: Yes?
Me: Don't take this the wrong way.
God: Go ahead.
Me: Well, a friend of mine is going into surgery today.
God: Oh.
Me: I just wanted to... um... I hope it all goes fine.
God: Oh.
Me: You don't have to reply to what I'm saying.
God: Okay.
Me: Prayers sometimes get answered, but they tend not to be conversational.
God: Right.
Me: So, I'm just praying that it go well.
God: Right.
Me: That's all I wanted to say.
God: Okay.
Me: Um... I'll be going now.
God: Right. Right. Me too. Lots of stuff to do.
Me: Bye, then.
God: Bye.



Next: Belief: Celestial Conversations - XXI

Wanna Credit Card, Sir?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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Megha wrote a post about the Amway problem yesterday, and it reminded me of something similar that happens a lot back home in India. Since I haven't posted anything here in a long time, and I thought readers of this blog might be interested in reading the contents of my comment there, I decided to recycle it (more or less) on this blog -

Unlike a number of other unfortunate souls, I've not been bitten by the Amway pest that much. I guess I did meet some chap in a Barnes and Noble, once, who was trying to interest me in something. But I wasn't paying much attention, and he - unlike what I've heard of others of his breed - wasn't much of a conversationalist.

But then I have an uncle who dabbled in this Amway thing once too. So I've seen the super-fantastic-toothpaste and the extra-strong-cleaning-solution that can clean the paint off your walls.

In India, though, specially if you are in a plastic-happy city like Bangalore or Chennai, it's probably more common to get accosted by ICICI and Citibank Credit Card agents. The first few months when this started, everytime I exited an ATM or walked out of the office campus, a guy wearing an almost crisp white shirt with tie, and navy blue trousers (alright, sometimes they were brown), would accost me. Here's a sample of the conversation that would follow -

Agent: Sir, can I take a moment of your time?
Me: Hmm?
Agent: Sir, I'd like to interest you in this free credit card from ICICI. You have to pay nothing, sir. And this card is accepted in 2593 stores, restaurants and theatres across chennai. Plus you get discounts and special offers every few months. So would you like to apply for a card now, sir?
Me: No.
Agent: It'll only take two minutes sir. I have the form ready right here. So what's your name, sir? (pen poised over the form, to complete the application most efficiently)
Me: I don't need another credit card.
Agent: It's free sir. So, what is your name, sir?
Me: I don't care if it's free. I already have a credit card.
Agent: But everyone has multiple credit cards nowadays, sir! And this is a Gold card. And it's free! Your name, sir?
Me: I don't care what other people do, I don't need another card.
Agent: We are giving you a Visa card sir. And ICICI has the most ATMs all over India. You can even withdraw cash using the credit card. (He tells me this after watching me walk out of an ICICI ATM).
Me: I already have an ICICI Debit card!
Agent: This is a Credit Card, sir.
Me: I already have a credit card, I don't need another one! And I don't have the time to argue about this anymore. I'm leaving.
Agent: It's very good, sir. It'll only take two minutes. Please sir!

and so on.

Now, when I'm back in India -

Agent: Sir, I'd like to interest you in this free credit card from ICICI. You have to pay nothing, sir. And this card -
Me: Thanks, but I already have an ICICI Gold credit card that is accepted all over the country inc;uding 3428 locations all over Chennai, and another 12863 locations in Bombay, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Agent: Is it a Visa card, sir?
Me: Yes.
Agent: You can get one more, sir. MasterCard this time. And you can have your photograph on it.

*sigh*

Atleast these Amway/Quixtar chaps aren't so whiny... Or are they?

Bye, Mom! Bye Dad!!: Celestial Conversations XIX

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Labels: , , , ,
First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Hello Kitty: Celestial Conversations XVIII



Me: Hello
God: Hi.
Me: So, Your parents still around?
God: They just left yesterday.
Me: Oh. So soon?
God: That's exactly what I was thinking. Time seems to have flown by.
Me: I know the feeling. It must have been hard watching them go.
God: That it was. I cried like a baby.
Me: You did?
God: Yeah. Never saw Myself as the kind of person who cries because He misses His Mommy.
Me: I'm sure no one else did either.
God: Not a very Godly image, right?
Me: You could say that gain. Anyway. So I guess You're going to have to start cooking again.
God: Oh, don't remind Me. Life sucks enough already.
Me: That it does.
God: Know what else sucks?
Me: What?
God: The earth.
Me: Hunh?
God: People think it's gravity that keeps them on the planet. In reality, the earth just sucks.
Me: Umm...
God: I read that on a T-Shirt.
Me: Oh.
God: I thought it was quite funny.
Me: Ha ha.
God: So anyway. For now it's just Me and the cat.
Me: Right. Hey, did You hear about the Pope?
God: Oh, did I ever! The gang hasn't talked about anything else, since they heard.
Me: You mean like the welcoming committee?
God: Welcoming Committee?
Me: I mean for when he comes to Heaven.
God: Oh, no! The row is about whether he does.
Me: Hunh?
God: Well, there's this big argument that started about whether he should be allowed into Heaven at all.
Me: Oh? Why?
God: Well, St Peter has gone on vacation for six months, and nobody can seem to find the Big Book.
Me: St Peter is on vacation?
God: Oh, yes. We don't add more than one person to Heaven in a couple of centuries anyway. So it's not like he's got a high pressure job or anything.
Me: Oh.
God: And a Pope's soul generally doesn't retire. They just inhabit the next chap.
Me: Ah.
God: But this one has had it, he says. He got tired of living.
Me: Okay. But what's the argument about.
God: Well, there're some who believe that since he's a man of God, and has been one all his life, he should enter Heaven. And then there're those who say that he doesn't believe in the "All men are created equal" theory, and that letting him into Heaven would be trouble. Quite a racket they've created.
Me: Interesting.
God: Too interesting for My tastes. I'm just sitting it out. I told them to figure it out and tell Me what they decide.
Me: The gang, I assume, is everyone else in Heaven?
God: Yes. And every one of them has got an opinion. Dad likes to call them The Gang. I guess it's better than calling them the inmates. Definitely feels like a nuthouse though, sometimes.
Me: Okay. And they've been discussing it since he died?
God: Actually the argument started a month before his death.
Me: Oh?
God: Yes. The Pope sent in a "Fate decision request" around that time. At least while Mom was here, she was presiding the committee.
Me: She was?
God: Yes. The gang can be can be quite unruly. She had them take turns to talk, and everything. Before that, all I'd hear is one loud din.
Me: Interesting.
God: But now she's left, and they're driving Me crazy. I wish I could take a vacation.
Me: You? Then who would be God?
God: Well, I was watching "Bruce Almighty" the other day. In the movie, I left a guy in charge for a week.
Me: But that was a movie. And You saw the mess the man made of the world.
God: Do you think the world's not already a mess? How much worse could it get?
Me: Good point there. But who would You leave in charge?
God: Well, you're as good as anyone else.
Me: Me?
God: Of course.
Me: But why me?
God: Well why Me?
Me: But I'm not equipped to be God!
God: You think I am?
Me: At least You have aeons of experience!
God: That's just an excuse to not take up the job. See, that's one of the things you need to improve about yourself. You shouldn't be afraid to meet a challenge head-on.
Me: I don't think my insurance covers that kind of head-on collision. And anyway, I have a project deadline coming up. I can't take on the job of being God!
God: Oh. That's okay, then. But how about after this project?
Me: No!
God: Why not?
Me: I have projects lined up one after the other till the day I die.
God: Oh. That sounds like My job. Anyway. I'd better start cooking. Or I'll go hungry tonight.
Me: Yes, You do that.
God: See ya, then.
Me: Bye.



Next: Prayers and Art: Celestial Conversations - XX

Hello Kitty: Celestial Conversations XVIII

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Godparents : Celestial Conversations - XVII



Me: Hello?
God: Hello.
Me: So, how does it feel to have Your parents staying with You?
God: Oh, pretty nice actually. I get to eat Mom's cooking.
Me: Ah, yes. That's always nice.
God: Yes. No one can make sun-dried tomatoes quite like she can.
Me: Good, good. So, are You planning to show them around the city?
God: Oh, no. They prefer to get around by themselves.
Me: They do?
God: Yes. They're the independent sort, My parents.
Me: Ah.
God: Yes. They are in Las Vegas this week.
Me: They are?
God: Yes. Dad is in one of those Elvis impersonation groups.
Me: Oh.
God: Yes. He grew sideburns one day, and joined them. Now once in a while, he puts on a suit and jumps out of an airplane.
Me: What?
God: Yes. They call themselves the Flying Elvi.
Me: Ah.
God: So I'm stuck at home vacuuming fur-balls.
Me: What?
God: Well, I made a very stupid mistake.
Me: You made a mistake? That's hard to believe.
God: I did. And it was a stupid one.
Me: So what did You do?
God: Well, Mom asked Me if I liked big cats.
Me: Okay.
God: And I told her I loved them. That they were the most elegant animals on the planet.
Me: Okay.
God: So she got Me a house cat.
Me: And?
God: I thought she was talking about the wild ones! You know, Tigers, Jaguars, Pumas...
Me: Ah.
God: And she found a fat stinking stray house cat, and gifted it to Me!
Me: Quite a disappointment, I can see.
God: You bet it was. And as if that wasn't enough, she wants to get Me another one for My birthday.
Me: You have a birthday?
God: Doesn't everyone?
Me: But You're God!
God: Why do you keep saying that?
Me: Well, aren't You?
God: Of course, I am. So?
Me: So, a birthday is the day a person is born. You weren't born!
God: That's discrimination.
Me: But You weren't!
God: I have parents.
Me: You were adopted!
God: Now you've gone and hurt my feelings.
Me: Alright, so You arranged it, but that doesn't change anything.
God: It still wasn't a nice thing to say.
Me: Fine! I'm sorry. So You have a birthday. When is it?
God: Zero A.G.
Me: What?
God: That's my birthday.
Me: 'Zero A.G.' isn't a real date.
God: It was, before they messed things up with the Gregorian Calendar.
Me: Well, what does the A.G. stand for?
God: After God.
Me: Very clever.
God: You should read the scriptures, and Trust in Me. You're too skeptical.
Me: Fine, I believe You. But that's only a birth-date. When is Your birthday?
God: Hunh?
Me: I mean when do You celebrate Your birthday?
God: It depends.
Me: On what?
God: The stellar calendar.
Me: Oh.
God: Yes. Based on the relative positioning of the stars and the theory of relativity I can celebrate My birthday on practically any day.
Me: I'll pretend I understand and believe that.
God: See? Too skeptical. I'm sure you'll go to Hell.
Me: That's not a very nice thing to say.
God: Fine, then. We're even. You hurt My feelings, and now I've hurt yours.
Me: That's just childish.
God: Well by some calculations, I'm just a year old.
Me: And how did You get that?
God: Oh, simple. Since I'm God, My age is the only absolute age. So, taking My age to be the primary unit of age calculation, I'm precisely One.
Me: Ah.
God: You don't believe me?
Me: Of course I do.
God: I can prove it. There's a mathematical formula and everything.
Me: No, no. I believe You.
God: I can even prove that 1 is equal to 2.
Me: I'm sure that's true.
God: I can prove it.
Me: In God We Trust.
God: Now that's My boy!
Me: You're a good teacher.
God: Of course I am. Anyway. Have to go now. I think the cat's got Diarrhea.
Me: Ugh.
God: You can say that again.



Next: Bye, Mom! Bye Dad!!: Celestial Conversations XIX