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The Muse

November 24, 2005

In memoriam...

We may not know these people, but we must remember them. Let's contribute to their efforts and honor their life in whatever small way we can. God bless, people.

Manjunathan Shanmugam

Satyendra Dubey

Mahesh Kant/Sarita Singh
[My previous post here]

I hope I don't have to update this post again.

November 23, 2005

Music and the Muse

I was off jogging the other day, and for some inexplicable reason, switched to the songs of Saajan. Now, Dekha Hai Pehli Baar is hardly the song you want to hear when you are building up a sweat, but all the same, it got me thinking about what that song meant to me...

Haven't you been amazed when a certain song suddently evokes strong memories of something in you? There is a reason for it, and it comes from cognitive science. Our memory has two major components - the short term memory [STM] and the long term memory [LTM]. Everything available in your STM is available for instant recall - your phone number, your house number, content for tomorrow's exam, stuff that is either temporary or things that you use a lot. Stuff in the LTM is comprised of more complicated thought patterns. But everything here is cataloged and tagged, but is available only when certain cues or triggers occur. Think of it like a library catalog, your memories are evoked when the correct card number is pulled. Music is a strong cue, and when you hear a certain song or listen to a specific piece of music, that tag is pulled. Mind you, all this is done automatically and you probably have little control over the process, and there is a lot of scientific debate going on about it.

I just thought it would be fun writing about what a few songs mean to me, and what thoughts they trigger.

[Jeeyein to Jeeyein Kaise - Saajan]: I was in Unnao, a city near Kanpur and one of my class mates sung this in our music class in the VII grade. I was amazed when I heard her sing, and it kind of changed my whole perception of her, her voice was so beautiful. We became very good friends. Somehow hearing that song always takes me back to that school, those friends and that specific period in my life.

[Chura Ke Dil Mera - Main Khiladi Tu Anari]: That's right - Superhit Muqabla on DD Metro in Delhi! Man, I went crazy seeing Akshay jump from outside the screen and land near Shilpa's feet. Reminds me of days without cable TV, when DD was all we had. This was when it was cool to be fans of heroes rather than heroines...and Akshay was the man. My cousin was a big Sunil Shetty fan, and we used to rib her whenever Akshay came on the telly. [you reading this Manj? :)]

[Maye Ni Maye - Hum Aapke Hain Kaun]: Our gang in Delhi had gone to this movie together, and we were all unofficially "paired up", but as soon as Madhuri came on the screen, well, that was that. I don't think any of the guys took their eyes off the screen the whole time. What should have been a fun, noisy outing with friends turned into an intense and serious three hour appreciation of Madhuri. I guess the girls were very pissed, but hey, it was Madhuri!

[Ankhiyaan Milaye - Raja]: Oh, there was Madhuri rocking and making all those awesome moves, and poor Sanjay Kapoor looked shell shocked, and was making all these google-eyed faces. This was sometime near the end of my X grade. I was with my two cousins in Delhi and this song was a regular on the morning radio - Times FM. All three of us had enrolled for 6:00 AM typewriting classes [typewriting?], so this song immediately reminds me of early mornings and those classes.

[Musthafa Musthafa - Kaadhal Dhesam]: This song reminds me of my first year hostel room. The songs were just released and we got the tapes through one of the day scholars. A lot of people congregated near my room, and the song was on full blast, and people started dancing and stuff. My first real memory of "fun" in the first year.

[Akila Akila - Nerukku Ner ]: I saw this movie, and the song, during our II year tour. I think the whole class went for the movie. It was such a torture that the only time we got interested was when they showed Stefi Graf [or some female] playing tennis in the movie! But the tour was fun, and whenever I hear this song all those memories come flooding back.

[Azhagiye Theeye - Minnale]: I used to travel almost every weekend to Chennai from Bangalore when I was working there. It was always a late night KSRTC bus, and this song used to be on my walkman a lot. I'm always taken back to those five hour trips to Chennai, reaching home at 4:30 in the morning, then leaving Sunday night back for Bangalore.

Life was pretty simple back then.

November 18, 2005

Travel Diary: Mt.Lemmon

Seems like I'm all over the place these days. Another weekend and another trip, this time to Mt. Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest in nearby Tucson, AZ. Less than 200 miles from where I live.

This area was devastated by the Aspen Fire in 2003. So even though we had some breathtaking scenery, there were still plenty of reminders of the havoc that was caused a couple of years back.

The road to the park itself was worth the trip. Full of breathtaking scenery and great views.

What do we do on weekends? Go shopping or sit on the sofa and watch TV. See what this guy was doing.

Anyways, we reached there and boy was it beautiful!

Of course, we had to eat next. So we went to this open roof restaurant and spent an hour waiting for food, then got the wrong order and finally ended up with the wrong bill. Quite the service, I tell you.

To reach the peak, we had to take a "skyride" up. The elevation was around 9000 feet above sea level. Here's a co-passenger who was coming down when we were going up.

At the top, it was simply stunning. I can only imagine how pristine things would look once it started snowing. The contrast between the burned areas and the untouched ones was really something. Nature can be so creative one moment and absolutely destructive the next...

A good way to spend Saturday guys, I can tell you that. There's something revitalizing about going out and seeing nature and breathing fresh air. Or maybe I'm just getting old...

November 17, 2005


I've received a lot of comments on my post re: "arranged love". As Boss explained to me, some people do not feel very comfortable leaving comments, so write to me directly. Interesting that...

Well, to acknowledge a few public and private comments...Prosaicblabber thinks I'm being too starry eyed and wants me to come and live with other people on the earth, where filmi things rarely happen. Pi says, essentially, that it is better to be in some notion of love than not be in love at all. Good comment that [I've left it in the guestbook for you]. SR wrote back saying it was bang on, and really aligned with her thoughts. F told me that is what is happening with her friends right now.....

Basically, I get the message - our society is not structured to have guys and girls get to know each other in an informal setting. The "bar scene" that is so popular in the west is almost non-existent back home. I don't mean that there are no bars, I mean that there is no culture of going out, meeting people, having a good time and so on...The only way you can actually meet people is either at school or at work, so the chances of falling in "love" are not that good, so why not do this "thing in between"? Point taken.

My only opinion was that this "in between" thing has a very shaky foundation. So ask yourself whether you are getting married because you are in love or because you are afraid of not falling in love. Arranged marriage "phobia" is overrated in my belief. Sure it sounds very frightening, but as compared to the west, Indian culture has an inherent aversion to divorces and and all that. So the motivation for maintaining a successful marriage is very high. The more the effort, the better the chances are that it will succeed. Similar views expressed here [see, I mentioned you twice Prosaicblabber, you're so famous now]. Stay tuned.

November 09, 2005

Now and Then

One of my friends suggested that I think about what I would do different and what I would do the same, if I was back in college - sort of a loose "learn from your mistakes" thing .So here goes...[For those of you who don't know our college, bear with me here!]

10. CHANGE - Go to the gym or do something to take care of my body. I hardly ate breakfast, never got up before 8:00 and my only past time was reading books. I really wish I would have gotten into some of the "working out" stuff. I do that fairly regularly now. The only physical workout I got was when I had to run to catch my bus every weekend [although I have to admit that the TN public bus service did require some awesome aerobics to board].

9. CHANGE - Made an effort to get to know more people. This is especially true for my college. I knew people, but never got to know some people very well. In fact, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we have gotten to know some folks better when we have gotten out of college as compared to the four years we were actually in class with them! Now part of this is because of the hot and happening place our college was, but a lot of it was due to all these damn in-class politics, and I know that personally I could have taken the effort to get acquainted with some others. My loss I guess...

8. NO CHANGE - Hostel life was awesome man. I'm not talking about the food or the facilities, but the very experience of living with a bunch of horny undergrads was worth every second. I learned a lot about what it takes to adjust and adapt to a different way of living. I'm sure I'll carry those lessons throughout my life.

7. NO CHANGE - My department. This was back in the good ol' days when we picked departments based on how much "fun" they were. Whatever the reason, I'm glad that I joined the ECE department. The faculty, the labs and the general atmosphere left not too much to complain about.

6. CHANGE - Acquire some knowledge. I do agree that our syllabus and stuff was good, but we hardly learned anything of worth. All these 20 marks questions got us great percentages, but at the end of the day, zero knowledge gain. I really wish I could have done some more, maybe gone to some paper presentations or whatever, to at least grasp the significance of what we were studying.Maybe done a better project or done some internships somewhere.

5. NO CHANGE - Tours. Did we have fun or what? I think we went on four or five of these, and it was like a small capsule of life each time. We let loose and had the best time ever. It was even more fun to plan and plot each tour and guise it as a industrial visit. To give you an idea of how much "industrial" it was, I recall that we went to see this TV Station at Kodaikanal. Only fifteen of the fifty or so people actually went in, and some facility staff dude was showing us all the equipment. One of our guys [perhaps slightly drunk], goes up to him and asks this question: "Do you have Surya TV?"

4. CHANGE - A steady girlfriend. Contrary to what many of you who know me think, I did not have a girlfriend in college. I was close, but never quite there :-). A classic case of right things happening at the wrong time, or wrong things occuring at the right time! I know that there is someone for me out there, but man I wish I would have recognized her some time back. Life would have been more exciting...

3. NO CHANGE - Weekly bus trips to all corners of TN. I know that whenever I get on a bus in TN, I'm going to think back of those trips. It was a great gang, and those three hours seemed to fly. Of course, it was the place to be if you wanted to chat up girls. But more than that, it was great fun to travel as a group of ten or twenty people and just enjoy everyone's company.

2. CHANGE - Misunderstandings, fights and some unfinished business. I had a lot of these, especially one, that I still would like to clear up. To everyone of you who has been exposed to my anger, wave when you see me next! Life goes on.

1. NO CHANGE - My friends.Thank you for finding me!

November 05, 2005

An Evening in Vegas

I was in Las Vegas last weekend, and had the opportunity to meet three of my close friends from my undergrad. We had a mini get-together as Veera flew in from Chicago, Pras flew in from San Jose and Boss came in from San Diego. I was there of course, from Phoenix. Quite different kinds of arrival schemes compared to the meetings we had in college, wouldn't you say?! Instead of riding the bus, that too standing, from Virudhunagar or Tirunelveli, we flew in from all these cities to the mother of all party places - Las Vegas. Add to the fact that it was Halloween, so the crazy crowd was a tad more drunk than usual. We had booked rooms at a hotel near the Strip, so we figured we could go directly to the hotel, get some dinner and just catch up.

Well, we did do that, but we initially spent one hour travelling to the hotel which was fifteen minutes walking distance from the Airport. That kind of set the tone for the rest of the trip - Pras would tell us to calm down and relax, and enjoy the wild ride he was giving us, while Veera would hang on for dear life at the back. Boss was the navigator in front and I was just watching all three of them and having fun! From my perspective, Boss and Veera remain the same in the four years that I have seen them, while Pras has changed a bit. However, we all quickly got into our comfort level and had a total blast there. I just miss the fact that more people were not with us.

Anyway, we went to Lake Mead and saw the Hoover dam. Boss and Prass turned out to be photography buffs, so they toted around these SLR cameras and started looking for angles and all that stuff. Veera and I helped them in their vocations by posing as hunky models - that's why you will see me or him in all the photos we took! :-). Boss was suitably impressed by the dam and it was indeed a remarkable feat of human spirit, especially during those days. As you can see, we had some stunning views and spent a pleasant hour roaming around the place.

We also spent the night at the Strip, which hosts all the major casinos and hotels. Its a hot and happening place, where you see stretch humvee limousines and dirty rickshaws all at the same time. Guess that's the Vegas atmosphere for you.

I think everyone was enthralled by the musical fountains at the Bellagio. We liked it so much, that we stayed for three shows consecutively. The ambience of the fountain and the music kind of made me feel bad that I was there with three guys!

Then we went to the Stratosphere where Prass and Boss went on some crazy rides. This building is so high, we could pretty much cover the whole view of Vegas with one shot. Let me tell you something about the rides they have here - don't go on them!. I mean, one is called Insanity and the other is called Big Shot or something and they just throw you out of the top of the building! Just seeing the ride made me want to puke. Crazy! But Boss loved it all the same, and went on it twice.

In addition to the sights of Vegas, all of us had real fun in that we just relaxed and spent a lot of time eating, drinking and chatting. This is what I like about going out with good friends. You shouldn't worry too much about which place to see next, or where to eat and all that stuff. Just go out, see a few places then just kick back and chill. I think we guys ate and drank [coffee, that is] more than anything in the two days we were there. Even at the airport, we had to go and get stuff to eat! And while we did talk about marriage and girls, we spent a lot of time on topics ranging from politics, education and technology to Vijaykanth, ex-principal Shanmugam and one sub warden in college who was after a third year student [I forget the name].I think I can safely say that Pras learned more about our class and college in the two days he was with us, than with the four years he was there as a student.

And guys - wish you were with us!