white noise

The white noise that forms the innocuous background to your everyday activities such as washing the dishes or folding clothes, if you start observing it, it seems almost like a film is playing in your own mind that you aren’t watching. Take the voices in your head, for instance. Entire monologues from some part of the brain that is dissatisfied is grumpily murmuring dissent, or one part of you that is over the top happy is humming a silent tune that you’re bobbing to while you walk.

image courtesy: web

it comes it goes

It’s like discovering a full new you merely by turning your attention inward when you aren’t forced to do it. Of course all of this is disturbed when you try to meditate, so it’s not the same. Like the mere act of observing the unobservable causes the activity to stop. But try not to observe it, and just eavesdrop, then they don’t shut up. Do this kind of observation long enough, and you’ll see patterns emerge.

I imagine artistic and overly dramatic alternate universes. That’s my background noise pattern. A big revelation this morning. Accidents are a prominent theme given how fattu I am. Sex, for example, is another fairly common context. And another theme is imagining the full life of a character I have no clue about and seeing their imaginary just-concocted life flash in front of my eyes.

This morning while walking to the cafeteria, in the wake of a conversation I was passively mulling over, looking at nothing in particular, I was crossing the street. A car came to a halt on my right to allow me to pass. Almost as if on cue, my brain spun off a disaster in an alternate universe. A series of images play in my mind where the van runs me over –  time-lapse photography in an art film style- the driver of this white mini van misjudged the braking. The van moved in slow motion. It knocked me over and went over my left leg and broke my tibia. Cut to an image of Mo taking a flight to my city as I was carted into an ambulance. People miming phone calling ensured I was insured. I sighed in relief at the thought that I was. End sequence. No perception of pain. Very crisp images. And very colorful. As if the whole purpose of the movie was not the sequence of events but the play of color on the screen. Exactly like cinema – where the response to the display is the ultimate goal of the capture and not the experience being captured itself. If you’ve seen Nostalgia by Tarkovsky, the scene with the woman walking across the dry water pool is the style I am referring to. Or the Run Lola Run style. Just to put this in perspective.

Every time I drive and some jerk pulls up too close in front of me in my lane and suddenly, I visualize the full chain of events resulting from me not braking on time. When Mo drives and does so in his usual flamboyantly flagrant style (read God speed), there are brief periods of time when I imagine each and every potential car crash we could have gotten into. Like a video game race track with cars flying into freeway boundary walls like flitted flies.

Another example: my workplace is full of characters that do not talk much. So these people become just moving images to me. And sometimes, when I am dazed, sleepy, or distracted, I catch a glimpse of this character from the corner of my eye and Voila! A full film plays in my head in like 2 seconds. Somewhere in the weeks of silent observation, my subconscious strings together vague hairline observations about this person, and suddenly in a dream state – out comes this flash about his/her life. What he eats, whether he has a sister, how shy is he, how many kids does he have, what’s his secret identity, how he will nearly die, how he will get a prosthetic and a heroin addiction that he will triumph and marry his cousin who would take care of him, and how I will save the day and his life (sometimes :P). I have to admit though it happens more often with males than with females – so there is a gender bias there. And the character must essentially have intrigued me to begin with.

Very often this movie in my head is a narrative – just like Fight Club. In fact, if I could have it my way, Tyler Durden (male) and Georgia Lass (female, Dead like me) would narrate each of my movie sequences all the bloody time. And Soo would provide all the backing dark humor visuals – always comic book characters.
On the days I do yoga – the ability to watch the full length of this self-subconsicous-directed feature film is enhanced. I can even do it while working, or when half asleep – sometimes even direct the film. But the film doesn’t stop playing. The smoke keeps swirling. With a lifetime of a matchbox to go yet. Or half.


The principle of slanted productivity

I don’t know if this applies only to me, but I find that I do things better when I am doing other things. Things that should be done, go by faster if you’re doing things that are enjoyable.

I present my argument with the following scenarios:

a.Working the diet

Of late I have gone on this new calorie shifting diet that, when customized for vegetarians, leaves room for exactly the following things: eggs, beans, and nuts. The occasional fruit and veggies are thrown in for color, but really, for the past 8 days I have consumed a small 3rd world country’s annual supply of beans: garbanzo, pinto, baked, mung, green, black, kidney, you name it. What I also have to do is squeeze in 45 mins to an hour of walking. Now this workout does nothing for me. I live in a very crowded urban area and there is nothing to see except residential apartments and their dust pan sized front yards. So the walk is boring, besides walking doesn’t get my heart rate up anymore, at least not for the first 30 mins. And I loathed this activity. Then on one day when I was particularly tired of my music on my iPod, I discovered Audiobooks. That did it.

I promptly modified my diet to: beans, eggs, nuts, and 1 hour of audiobook listening. And while I listen to the audiobook I walk. The past 10 days have been the most productive walking wise. In that I have finished not only my daily requirement of walking, but also nearly two whole audiobooks: Deepak Chopra’s Magical Body, Magical Mind (Ayurveda, another subject I am simmering a sort of active interest in), and now Anne Lamott’s Word by Word, which is an audiobook rendition of Bird by Bird.

b. Mixing business and pleasure:

When I am at work and have an upcoming weekend activity coming up that I need to plan, my work goes by very fast. And not just my work day, I also work very fast. Like I once spent 3 hours at work researching a Tahoe hiking and camping trip, and then went on to solve a documentation build issue that was plaguing me and evading my understanding. In fact, the frustration with the build issue was what caused me to give up and go looking at Tahoe camping sites to begin with.

Also, if I may mention, this trip turned out to be the most awesome trip ever, spurring a consistent interest in camping for the coming 1.5 years.

c. Doing the dishes

I find that if you gave me a sinkful of dishes to wash (yes, I wash my own dishes and try not to use the dishwasher often), I do it faster and better when I am cooking something else as well as thinking about an RSAnimate presentation I just saw. Or when I am making my morning coffee, I may be half asleep but I finish off my dishes, without a thought – rather than at a designated time assigned for the dishwashing activity.

I realize that this is nothing but mind-trickery and personal mental makeup engineering. The things I don’t enjoy, I don’t do well. But if I don’t have to think about what I am doing, I can do it with no pains at all.

At least on two occasions, and maybe more, I have come back home to a bewildered better half when I said “That was a f^&*ing short walk man.” (or it’s equivalent). I also sometimes surprise myself when I think “Maybe I should have walked a longer circuit.” With this simple trickery, I have solved my problem of desiring instant gratification. I don’t have to wait for the endorphins to rain down on me.

I guess this could be viewed in some universes as not so efficient – in that it offsets the timing on things by a bit – as in the case of dishes. Or that it is a form of escapism. But as long as it works, man! I am cool with it.

Baby Squirrel Rehabilitation

So our new roomie – A – majorly into biking hence knows lots of mountain biker friends – brought home this little thing yesterday.

Behold! A baby squirrel:

What Baby Squirrels Look Like

Because I don’t have the actual pics handy as I type this – and I did take pics of course – we’ll use one from the web.

So anyhoo:
Apparently – this little critter needs to be fed every 2 hours – even thru the night – crawls around – and hasn’t opened it’s eyes yet. And after feeding you need to take a wet cotton ball and rub its genitals – to make it pee and shit.

A of course thinks her friend is nuts. She asks him “S – what happened to your biking morals. Squirrels are the guys who try to jump under your wheels when you are biking at high speeds and cause you to crash. ” But that’s only A’s way of having fun and making fun of the situation.

What S has done is:
– Put the little guy in a moving box.
– Put a heating pad under 2 pillow cases.
– Put in a meat thermometer that measures the temperature of the box so we can maintain it at a steady 90 F.
– Made a box of dog puppy formula.
– Given us a box of Gatorade.
– One syringe minus the needle is the titties the little guy feeds off of.
– Put in a warm blanket on top to protect him.
And called it a day. He’s off to Nevada to see a biking show while A sticks around out here and takes care of the little guy. This house has one new species taking our time and attention now.

The dog in the house – Molly – freaks out every time we open the box.

So I went online to do a little bit of reading on how to take care of a squirrel. More reading for anyone who cares – Baby Squirrel Rehabilitation. Supremely interesting I say.

From the fact that we just aren’t equipped to take care of this little thing and how we can only try – baby caring is a journey of immense discovery.

Living with dragons

It’s one of those mornings when you know things are going to be okay when you put on your headphones and listen to music. Until then you blog. My ipod is charging.

And why the sudden dependency on the iPod – well because the guy in my neighboring cubicle keeps munching on something REALLY crunchy, and keeps making those crunch crunch sounds that make me hungry, jealous, and want to find out what he’s eating. Also, on hunger, me can’t work.

While moving in as a housemate is a novel experience unto itself, what makes it interesting is that my housemates are not Indian. I live with 6 individuals. 3 humans, 2 dogs, and 1 reptile. More specifically, a brother sister duo, their bartender friend, all Americans, and 2 labradors – one golden one brown, and a bearded dragon.

It hasn’t just been interesting learning the nuances of how Americans do things around the house, it has also been interesting observing another species – I’ve been around dogs and thought I knew what they did. What wasn’t taken into account is that I made these observations about dogs when I was what – 11? I wouldn’t have know a she-dog could hump my shoulder because I didn’t know what humping meant back then. So yea, one of the she-dogs tried to hump my shoulder when I sat down on the stairs. The other she dog has the most amazing puppy face expressions – she walks around with a plastic box in her mouth all day asking for food, even if the lady of the house fed her before she left. And between two female dogs there is jealousy, competition for attention, and dynamics that try to figure out which one of them plays alpha. You can also almost sense which one of them is more secure and self-confident and which one of them has lower self-esteem.

Recently the bro and sis have become comfortable enough with the lizard to walk around the house with the lizard on their shoulder. To me it looks like a mini crocodile that will flare up and bite me with a venomous sting. Believe me, all this is only in and from my head. Apparently, bearded dragons are near dog-like when it comes to seeking attention and quite friendly.

The dragon sits in an acrylic tank all day, perched on his shoebox, basking under the lamplight focused on one corner of the cage. He sleeps inside the shoebox. Eats sparingly, and looks at you with a stiff upper lip, from the side of his face where his bulbous and haughty eye happens to be. Believe it or not, it’s one of the high points in my life at the moment.

The day I carry him around on my shoulder, I’ll ensure there are pictures to record the moment and will promptly enshrine it on this blog.


So work-wise, things have changed. C H A N G E D. For people who know what I have been like in my past existence, brace yourself and find a chair:

– I wake up at 7 30/7 45 in the morning – on a bad day.
– On a good day, I manage 6 45 am.
– I walk to work.
– I also walk back from work.
– It’s 1.2 miles – one way. That’s nearly 2 kms.
– I cook at least 2 evenings a week.
– And I find time to travel to San Diego during the weekend.
– Here’s the best one: I sleep before 1 am every single day. Most days it’s before 11 30 pm.

Hahaha! And you know what, I’m not complaining at all. In fact, I love it.

And while we are listing accomplishments:
I finally fucking finished ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE. I cried. I expected to. But I cried for reasons that I didn’t expect to cry for. It wasn’t just a book. And any attempts to describe it cursorily will be a decision of less quality than not talking about it; just basking in the glow of having digested it, page by page, and of having understood it – experience by experience. 🙂

Next I’m reading On the Road. J gave it to me for the birthday saying – For a trip that lasts longer than a day.

PS: Shiva, I know you said it will be better to read Dharma Bums first, but I couldn’t resist. 😀

Grudge of the day:
I want mood labels and smileys to indicate how weird I am feeling. I want a sign that says – I don’t know how to react to this situation because they don’t do it like that in my culture.

Mood of the moment:
Desperately seeking hot soup and socks!

Discoveries of the Week

1. The Annals of Improbable Research
Where Apples can be compared to Oranges and hence the analogy is proved invalid. Where the scientists come together with flowing manes of luxuriant hair. Where navel lint matters. Where IgNobel prizes are given out to experiments that “first make you laugh, and then think.”

2. Segway
Go green! Go gas-less!
But first, overcome your vertigo of course!

Top 10 “Everyone must do this” – Films/Documentary/Visual Media

There are some things that I think are SO exemplary that I must shove it down the throat of anyone I like. Which I have done, no less, or plan to do, no less. It’s like watching a film and going “Wow! I have to show this to everyone.” It’s the kind of film that makes you grind your teeth, and clench your fist, and react. Period. Any reaction is good.

This evangelistic instinct does not come from all the films that you completely digg. For example, I like Reality Bites. A lot. But it’s  a personal joy to watch the dialogs, and I’d rather savor them by myself. Also, A love song for Bobby Long. That’s all for personal pleasure.

Then there are the duet kinda films. I’d rather watch them with a co-enthusiast. Like watching a chick flick with a chick or a guy playing the role of a chick companion, watching a Rasta film with Chivas, or watching a doomsday conspiracy movie with Tinda, or watching evolutionary movies with J.

And then there are the group movies. That must be seen as a group. As a community, as a nation, as a people, as a race and species, as any being entitled to a brain on this planet that is in the act of cognition, feeling, and subscriberism. Even if we don’t watch them in the same room. We must all watch them.  I am talking about those kinda movies.

So why did I bring this up now. Because I am reaching a critical mass of information that I agree with, feel strongly about, identify with, cannot do anything about most of the time, but would want to amplify the message. Because everyone must know about these. Because everyone will understand this irrespective of their background, race, color, religion or language (assuming sub titles). Because I simply must.

#1 1 Giant Leap

It started with the music. Then the quest for why these guys made this brilliant music and how. And then a study of their journey and their idea. In short, they wanted to combine “video, sound, and the written word to highlight the unity that underlies all of us, despite our heavily accentuated diversity”. Brilliant music, and a goose-bump-giving documentary.

#2 The Zeitgeist Movie and the Addendum

The most compelling documentaries of our time that put together, in an extremely coherent and logical fashion, the message that we all have been aware of, but never sat down and thought too much of it. Because no one told it like that.  No one viewed it like that. No one could afford the long-range vision and broad-range speculation to coherently arrive at so many conclusions at the same time. And it talks about the biggest delusions in prevalent times, freedom.

#3 Baraka

If imagery didn’t work more than words did, I would put this a rank lower. In fact a couple ranks lower. But it does. For serious imagery, for lost treasures, for rhythm, groove, beauty, and a decidedly wide screen HDTV experience, Baraka takes the crown.

Baraka is an ancient Sufi word, which can be translated as “a blessing, or as the breath, or essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds.”  For many people Baraka is the definitive film in this style. Breathtaking shots from around the world show the beauty and destruction of nature and humans. Coupled with an incredible soundtrack…

# 4 Koyanisqaatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqqatsi

Darker version exploring man’s existence. Hardhitting imagery that will drain you and music that will churn your psyche.

The title is a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance.” Created between 1975 and 1982, the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds — urban life and technology versus the environment. The musical score was composed by Philip Glass.

KOYAANISQATSI attempts to reveal the beauty of the beast! We usually perceive our world, our way of living, as beautiful because there is nothing else to perceive. If one lives in this world, the globalized world of high technology, all one can see is one layer of commodity piled upon another.

# 5 Network

We saw this film today. After looking at the credits in the Zeitgeist Movie. It blew our minds. Everyone who watches television, must watch this. Amazing, that the same thoughts are true and repeated in 2009.

# 6 George Carlin

Again inspired after watching The Zeitgeist Movie, I went looking for this guy on YouTube. J has been a fan for ages and guided me through the best. Standing ovation material.

Two of my favorite videos include:

The Modern Man

Religion is bullshit

Kind of makes me appreciate form over function. Why the way you say something is sometimes more important in driving in the point than what is being said.

# 7  South Park

It’s not for kids. It’s as Douglas Adamsian toilet humor as American television can deal with. It’s deep-rooted satire and it comes with a laugh. Not too many people can look at their lives or those of others’ this way. All hail, Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflowski, Stan, and Kenny. You guys rule!

# 8 Waking Life

If you can deal with passionate 4 paragraph dialogs. If an anthology of truth, opinion, speculation, and philosophy, beautifully intertwined in a gripping anime entices you, then Richard Linklater’s animated film is a pot of gold.

I still always have a copy of the script with me at all times. Still. It’s been 6 years and counting.

# 9 Story of Stuff

# 10 Les Carabiniers

Godard’s take on war. And I could have sworn, my best war film before this one was Life is Beautiful. The optimistic war film. The happy war film. Or Platoon. The raw war film. But the dark humor won me over here.

If you have any such experiences (and not necessarily films) that you absolutely must share with the rest of the world (read shove it down my throat, mine at the least), and not to share would be tantamount to blasphemy, please put up a post like this one and leave me a link.

It’s always fun to be angry about and at the same thing.

In a new land …

…things about yourself confront you from new mirrors. It’s like going to one store and finding that widening mirror when all along your home mirror has been telling you of a narrowing waistlines.

I am brand conscious to a degree. To be precise, I don’t want to be caught wearing the same jacket as 3 others at a vacation spot in another state. Obviously a popular choice, but then obviously a very en masse availability. I didn’t know I had these airs till I saw those jackets. I am ashamed of myself, but that jacket is going back unworn. I will buy myself a cheaper or different one from a beat store in hippie land. But I feel this strong need to assert my individuality here.

Whining aside. I have come to realize other selfish things about myself. My life revolves around my job, which I do really well. Take that away and I am like a lost puppy on crack sniffing glue. Nope the yoga doesn’t help. Neither does the walking. The only thing that does seem to help some is reading, watching sitcoms, or doing mundane routine work like cleaning the house.

Further whining aside, on a brighter note.

Dub. The music is so chill, I wonder why it took me 3 years to realize that. Bob Dylan has finally made a place for himself in my heart. 1 Giant Leap is a definitely recommended watch for anyone with a soul and ear for good music. I swear by the music and have made all true friends listen to it if they haven’t already. Now my quest is to show other people this documentary that I procured with great effort and cost.  It’s wonderful and you deserve to see it.

Saw Amadeus. It’s definitely worth one watch. But everything about the movie pales in comparison to the last one hour. Watch it at least once.

J introduced me to  the Zeitgeist movie that comes from the Zeitgeist movement. It’s a free Divx download. Do watch it. Yet another thing has broken down my belief mechanism. So I thought I will take it a step further, by reading not just The Autobiography of  a Yogi, but also The Selfish Gene at the same time. So far the experiment is having no effect on the lost puppy on crack sniffing glue. But I am not believing anything anymore.

Beauty continues to rock. Be it in America or in India. 🙂 Take a peek … 

Lake Powell, Page, Arizona

Lake Powell, Page, Arizona