December 22, 2004

Best foot forward?

The centipede was happy quite
Until a bird said, in fun,
"Pray, which foot goes after which?"
This raised his mind to such a pitch,
He lay distracted in a ditch,
Considering how to run.

December 15, 2004


And it was at that age...Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating planations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesmal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke free on the open sky.

- Pablo Neruda

December 09, 2004

It is probably the worst time to blog... 4 am, just finished packing and cleaning my room, my stomach is growling but have already lost the enthusiasm to cook.... especially now that I will be treated to home cooked food for a month!
Its homecoming after a really long time... and a strange one. A migration from the original Silicon Valley to apna Silicon Valley... and a new house.The only familiar faces in that crowd will be parents...Then a week of going back to your old city and with it comes all the nostalgia!
Preparing for it is even stranger.This frenzy of going home for the holidays slowly builds up over the months.Thanks to the exorbitant rates charged by airlines these days, planning starts 4-5 months before you actually leave.Calling up a hundred travel agents, simultaneously asking the professors for more holidays(the thought of even one more day in India seems tempting) asking your TA's for rescheduled exams, and finally getting a ticket! This sacred slip gets preserved with the passport safely, and is taken out and checked each time some other friend(who is trying to coordinate flights with you)calls up with some question about his/her time schedule.Even if you conveniently forget about it, some friend who still is very homesick will make sure to remind you how lucky you are to go home in a few months!And that friend who just is back from India will wistfully look at it and wish he could have got his "maa ke haath ka khana" for a few more days, lamenting the fact that he cannot next visit India for more than a year!
Just when you feel you have had enough, a new thing demands your attention... gifts.These come in all shapes and sizes.Aside from the very trivial request for chocolates, you need literally professional planning to decide who gets what, how much of your stipend can you afford to blowup on gifts,make sure that the gifts can fit in 2 suitcases,not forget that gift which "nani wanted for her friend's son's daughter from her US returned grandchild!" etc.The shopping for trip in Dec has to be during Thanksgiving. And so you get addicted to searching for sales,get up early to get the special shopping offers, find the best deals on digicams, fall in love with all the accessories, and land up buying them, basically managing to get rid of any money you might have saved with wise shopping before.Add to it, the wait for Fedex do deliver the special package you've ordered onlien for you loved ones, getting scared that the package may not reach you before you leave India, the relief on getting it...
A parallel list is being created, things to get from India when returning, and especially the first-time returning person is enamored with the rupee-dollar conversion(a very different situation when initially from India you always wished that the rupee was stronger) and lands up making a super-duper long list.Such a person is going to wish he/she never made this long list when he/she takes a look at the weight of the luggage just before coming back!
A week before leaving is the actual time when you start getting the vacation feeling.That effectively serves to ruin any remote ideas you may have had of studying seriously for your exams.You look at one slide and before your eyes move to the next, the mind has moved faster, towards more interesting thoughts, as how would your friends look after a year and half...how changed will all the old places be.. how changed will all the friends be...A jarring realization tells you that you had better stop daydreaming during exams!
The night before you leave is worse... you pack and repack and repack, inspite of the fact that you take very little extra stuff other than your gifts, after all what better way to make Dad buy you new clothes! But the deeper reason is to have more space to get more stuff when you are coming back!People drop in to say bye, give advice on what to do in India,you take a backup of your data etc, send mails to all your professors, call up India to make sure someone is coming to pick you up, search frantically for some rupees(the ones who recently travelled to India are the ones getting the 1am calls) and when everything is done, sit and rack your brains to see whether you have forgotten anything...
And then comes the d-day... and what happenes next?
Well, that comes up only when I get a hands-on experience of what I have seen happen with friends!The only scary part is hoping that I don't sleep so much that I forget to wakeup in time for the flight(like for the many morning classes!) after this 4am "bitten by the blog bug" effect!
This feeling of going 'home' is a strange one.Do you really visit home?Isn't where I currently live, home?People say, 'home is where the heart is'...
I say, 'home is where my stuff is!'

December 06, 2004

Anagram Poetry
If poets wrote poems whose titles were anagrams of their names.

nice smug me
by e.e. cummings

this here verse's
      i used to
      stick to regular metered
now i write onetwothreefourfive poemsjustlikethat

but this is simple work
          and what i want to know is
how much am i going to get paid for this
mister editor

For some more anagram poetry, take a look here.

December 04, 2004

Bugs! and some more...
On a recent visit to Austin, Texas, I got the chance to visit the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Being a weekday, the museum was not crowded at all, which meant that we were able to explore the three storeyed museum at leisure. The museum narrates the story of Texas with interactive exhibits, which makes for an interesting experience.
The first floor is about the "Encounters on the Land", which describes the first meetings between the Native Americans and the explorers from Europe. Immigrants were the Comanche, the Spanish, the Americans and the Europeans. They were missionaries, settlers and soldiers out to map the last unexplored region.
The second floor describes the establishment of Texas, the "Lone Star State", as an independent nation. Texas became the 28th state, then seceded from the Union, joined the Confederacy and fought in the Civil War, and shaped a new future that included freedom for all Texans.
The third floor is all about oil and how its discovery changed the direction of Texas' future. In the "Oil Tank Theater", native Texan Walter Cronkite narrates a media presentation exploring the impact of oil on Texas, and of Texas oil on the world.

The Story of Hierodula and Papilio
The most entertaining experience of all in the State History Museum was getting to watch the movie, "Bugs 3-D: A Rainforest Adventure" in the 3-D IMAX theatre. These fascinating creatures were magnified up to 250,000 times their normal size on a screen six-stories tall.
The movie transports you to the rainforests of Southeast Asia to follow the life cycle of a praying mantis and a butterfly from birth to an inevitable encounter where predator meets prey. Shot partly on location in Borneo and in a pupose built studio in Oxford, England, the movie explores the dramatic and savage lives of an Old World praying mantis and a beautiful butterfly, known by their Latin names, Hierodula and Papilio.
Along the way, we also get to meet a host of other interesting insects, including Leaf Cutter Ants which consume 20% of the forest's leaves, Rhino Beetles which battle to win the affection of the female, Orchid Mantises and Thorn Bugs which resemble their namesakes, plus the scorpions, tarantulas, frogs, lizards and bats that also inhabit the lush rainforest environment.
Hierodula, the mantis, and Papilio, the butterfly, are born in the same part of the exotic Borneo rainforest. Their home is the foliage around an abandoned and dilapidated shack on the edge of the river. Here, we witness Hierodula and Papilio mature and grow. Hierodula develops by incomplete metamorphosis, emerging from his egg as a mini-mantis and shedding his skin regularly on the way to gaining his adult wings. Papilio goes through a complete metamorphosis, from caterpillar to butterfly via the pupal stage. As they develop we meet a fascinating array of creatures who share their habitat.
After many near misses, the hunter, Hierodula, acting on instinct, catches Papilio. But all is not lost! We discover that Papilio's offspring manage to survive and hence the circle of life continues as before...


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