Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Begin it.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. 
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
~ Goethe

Friday, March 23, 2012

The providence moves too...

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: 

that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too.

~ W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review - Life of Pi

You would have noticed that it is always the stories with themes such as 'rags to riches' or 'victory of the good over evil' that reach the top and stay there, with the central theme being the age-old Darwin-ism theory—survival and that too only of the fittest. Life of Pi is a survival story. Not to mention the fact that with about three-fourth of the movies that are made are based on the man-woman relationship, it is the packaging and presentation that is taking the center stage. And though we have heard a thousand survival stories, yet Yann Martel has packaged it so well that you forget yourself and immerse in the same clich├ęd theme of the book.

Even though the Life of Pi is a fiction, somewhere in the first quarter of the book, Yann Martel makes you believe that it is a biography of someone (Pi) who was born in Pondicherry, India, grew up till his teens, with a zoo in his backyard, and with the political scene in India becoming unstable (the 1977 Emergency Declaration), the family along with a few animals that remained behind, after most of the zoo inhabitants being sold off, boards a Japanese cargo ship to Canada.

After this act of making you believe, all the action takes place in the 227 days that runs between the day the vegetarian Pi gets into the sea as a castaway in a 27-feet life-boat with a hungry, carnivorous, 450-pound Bengal Tiger and till the day he lands in Mexico, weather-beaten and in one piece. In these 227 days, there are times of delirium, dread, delight, discovery, deprivation, dilapidation, desperation, desolation, darkness, divine interventions, dinginess, and damnation. Pi who has lost everything, his kith and kin, overcomes everything and survives.

Moments of faith and belief are splashed at the right dose and the right time and it is this belief that makes you cling to the novel and move forward catching hold of the link one after another, but at a slow pace. During the times when you think the links are falling apart (you losing interest), it is this belief that bonds you together with the story.

At certain places, you get the idea that a few facts about the South-Indian culture are a bit incoherent (just 2% of the entire story telling). But, overall, this book is a great read, no doubt about it!!

The book ‘Life of Pi‘ is about 10 years old now. However, this fact does not stop from being reviewed or being recognized as a good read. There is much more that I picked from this piece of fiction, I mean, a lot of takeaways for the life of 'anyone'!

Friday, March 09, 2012

The sandwich and the strange shopkeeper incident

Today morning, after the porridge at about 9:30 in the morning, I was starving so much and did not want to have an immediate lunch. I have started liking 2:30 lunch these days, not sure why. While in two minds on whether to binge on something or not, I decided I must to continue with the tradition of the 2:30 lunch. So, I go to the sandwich shop and place an order for the second least expensive and still a palatable item: chilly garlic veg. sandwich for Rs. 20/- This guy was not the usual two that are seen in the kiosk and after some loitering around the cafeteria, I knew why--the others were having their brunch.

While the sandwich was being prepared, I wanted to catch up on a juice. So, I ordered for a plain (no sugar no ice) papaya juice. After the papaya juice went inside, I took the sandwich, covered it with another paper plate, and left the cafeteria. So far so good! And then I decide to walk up the stairs, primarily because only recently my mind happened to process what my eyes had seen-Think of these as your aerobic steps. Climbing two flights of stairs makes you lose up to 2 kilos per year if you take the stairs daily. 

Before that, a note on the floor arrangement: ‘There are three floors as per the lift and the naming, but with a mezzanine floor. The staircase design is of the usual zigzag pattern: one ascending from south to north and the other ascending from north to south. The steps between the ground and first floor have eight steps on the ascensions, and nine on the other ascensions. So doing the math, it comes to about 68; now add the 16 steps from basement to ground floor and it totals to 84 steps. May be getting down the stairs takes about one-tenth of the effort and lets round it to 8 steps—but then, I usually do not get down.

And a Web page on the Internet says that climbing one step burns 0.11 cal (k cal). Let's say on an average I climb up the stairs twice daily—that is about 150 steps (not taking into account the basement to ground floor steps). So the total calories burned in a year would be about 6000 k cal (150 x 0.11 x 365). When you need to burn 3500 k cal to reduce your weight by a kilo, then it comes to about 2 kilos; but certainly the statement printed on the stairs is flawed because according to my calculation, it is 10 flights of stairs that would take away 2 kilos! And when you display this, you can be guaranteed that folks would never get around to taking the stairs even to the first floor.

Anyways, for a person of zero physical activity, blame my son for the lack of time, this is indeed a needed chore. It becomes so much of a chore that I often end up overdoing it—I forget which floor I am in and end up intending to go beyond third floor and the folks having their coffee-tea break at the stairs wonder what is wrong with me! After two such occurrences happened, I started checking the floor numbering and at times fall long or short.
So I climbed the stairs and was tired as usual especially with the hunger pangs. I drearily opened the access door and my hand fell a few inches short and did not scrape through the door. There went my sandwich—it fell on the floor and I was like, Oh no! So much for my decision of having a sandwich! After I managed to pacify my mind, the stomach started talking—so are you planning to eat anything at all or put me to starvation until the next meal?

After much deliberation, I decided to have a sandwich. Off I went to the kiosk and ordered for the same chilly-garlic sandwich. The first question that lanky guy asked me was, ‘I thought you already paid for the sandwich?’ Then I went, ‘Yeah. I paid for it but give me another one because the sandwich fell down’, with an embarrassed and sad smile.

What do you think would have been the sequence of events?