Laptops, Desktops, RaspberryPis and Human Nature

My favorite writing trope is ‘the process’. It is the apparent frame of mind that a writer gets into that allows them to churn out works of fiction or nonfiction as the case may be.

Asking my father about this would certainly help; seeing as how he is an established writer.

My own process is the frantic running around of a single man in an apartment, cooking a one-pot pasta (even when the recipe expressly asked him not to) with store bought sauce, realizing halfway through that he forgot to add the olive oil and the garlic and proceeding to turn on a second burner (thereby defeating the point of a one pot pasta) to saute some garlic in olive oil to pour into the pasta, tasting it, smacking his lips, calling it tasty and living in the bliss that it is his word against the void and there is nobody to answer to.

The pasta was supposed to be a metaphor for the writing but clearly there is more to unpack here.

This idea was sparked by the changes or lack thereof in the world of people and materials that make us pick up patterns subconsciously in the things that we see and do.

This pertains to material changes. Specifically to the ownership of laptops.

The year was 2011. We were in our second year of engineering.

Sillunu oru kaadhal and Vaaranam Aayiram were closer to us then than we are to 2011 now. Everyone and their dog was Gowtham, 2nd year mechanical engineering in their heads.

It was also the first time that someone I personally knew owned a personal laptop. It was sleek, it was black and it had ‘AMD Radeon’ on a red holographic sticker. This was well before I dove headfirst into being a computer nerd but that was the first thing that caught my eye about that laptop. Another detail that caught my eye from the first time I saw it was the fact that it had two headphone ports. Now that I think about it, one of them might have been a microphone port but we have a collective memory of plugging two headphones and listening to the audio coming out of the laptop. It also had one of those weird half-height up and down arrow keys.

Owning a personal laptop at 18 is by itself not a huge deal. But, you have to remember that this was in 2011, in India, where smartphones were barely a thing, android was still a chunky mess, Windows 7 was the lord commander of the operating systems and the most common form of installing an operating system was still an optical drive.

On that subject, I do not remember if that computer had an optical drive. This is a detail I should remember. Why? Because between 2011 and 2017, I mostly lived with or in the vicinity of that laptop and by extension, the person who owns it. He is one of the greatest people I have ever known and deserves a post all for himself but this is about the primitive tech from the early 2010s.

Now, let me paint a timeline of my tech ownership. This also illustrates my slow descent to being a tech junkie and eventual madness.

Owned my first laptop in 2012. Crashed it enough to cause the motherboard to fail and then the maintenance tech took it up a notch by putting a literal hole through it. The shriveled husk of that laptop sits in the closet of my childhood home, collecting dust.

Acquired a second laptop in 2017 after moving to the USA. Drove its battery to the ground in three years but breathed some life into it with a RAM and SSD upgrade. This is where the desire to hoard tech begins.

A 2-in-1 notebook came along in 2018 because my laptop-laptop was getting heavy to lug around to all the classes. I should have been smart like my roommates and gotten myself a thin and light in the first place. Hindsight is 2020 and my laptop-laptop could play games on it. The 2-in-1 sits in the closet of my adult apartment, not collecting dust because I vacuum and wipe the palace down every other week.

The year is 2020, the pandemic has begun and Linus Tech Tips (tech YouTuber) asked people to get their computers now because of global supply chains and what not. So I did. The assembled desktop is now technically the fifth computer because of the two raspberrypi boards that are doing their thing on the side.

As I have graduated from watching YouTube on a laptop to a gaming desktop, my friend talked to me about finally switching to a new laptop. We have spent a week picking out options. He spent nine years using and maintaining one laptop and now is finally making the switch.

The short term theme is a tech hoarder and disposable income do not mix very well.

The overarching theme is one that made me look at how human behavior is somewhat tied to the material world around us. In a sample size of two, it is fairly obvious to say he is a responsible person. In an age of fleeting electronics and products baked in with obsolescence, using the same laptop for nine years is nothing short of a miracle.

On the other hand, I would not describe myself as irresponsible; there are other people who are ready to do that. What I will say is, if I were to make a list of excuses for all the money I have spent towards material purchases since my first paycheque, that would be a post of its own. So, as my reader, please let me know if that is something you’d be interested in reading. Some of the items include a drone, a bluetooth speaker and a coffee machine.

Last thing to ponder before you’re off to whatever was going on before this post interrupted your life — he did not take away the protective peel off the screen for the longest time which basically makes him the tech world’s equivalent of a monster.

Adulting, Apples and Video Games

The threshold of crossing over to being an adult is not standard and for good reason. We, as individuals, have different experiences and those experiences, along with the people we meet on the way, shape things for us.

Is the following content going to be philosophical?

Maybe. But it is mostly about pizza and video games.

If 14-year-old me could look into the future, he would be thrilled. I recently built myself a respectable gaming computer. 14-year-old me fried at least two motherboards.

As a form of media, video games have always been around. Growing up, the computers at home were not always top of the line; so I only picked up games about a year or three after they came out. This changed with the new PC. I picked up and played games release in the last 6 months and I have my eye out for something that is coming out later this year.

How does this tie into adulting? It does not. This is a smoke screen for you to think about before I get to the simultaneously juicy and boring part of this ordeal.

To reiterate, not everyone adults the same. My dad was a homeowner when he was thirty ish. The very idea terrifies me. I have friends my age who are married with children. I can absolutely not relate to them. If the universe let me be a 14-year-old who got to play all his favorite video games for until the end of time, I would take that deal. Literally 3 days ago, I sat up until 2 AM on a work night to get through a sequence of the latest Need For Speed game. 14-year-old me would be stoked.

26-year-old me who had to take a meeting at 8.30 AM in the morning, was not amused.

Will I stop doing this? Not anytime soon.

All this to say that I may not adult the same as another person.

This changed a little bit yesterday.

The side that is responsible for productivity had put in an effort to clear a backlog of a week’s worth of work. As a natural progression to this, I skipped cooking dinner and ordered pizza takeout. I showed up to the pizza place in a ski mask and a baseball cap and it was not weird. I’m not making a joke about this predicament because it’s been beaten to death already.

It was a regular order, a medium pizza, and breadsticks because what sort of animal buys pizza without breadsticks. Psychopaths and people who don’t like breadsticks, that’s who; and if they don’t like breadsticks, they might as well be psychopaths. I clearly missed the English lesson about rhetorical questions.

Moving on, a couple years back, I would have absolutely crushed that entire order in one sitting, a sitting and a half at best. To translate, that is one meal and then sneaking out the leftovers a couple of hours later and calling it a ‘snack’.

Did it feel good in the moment? Absolutely.

Did it feel good in a couple days? No.

Yesterday is when that changed. I did not finish the whole thing. I partitioned it into thirds and ate it for three different full meals. 14-year-old me would be super weirded out because of things he did not understand. However small this has been, a responsible behavior has been tossed into the pile of things that I like to call my personality.

While this is not a profound experience, it is worth writing about because this changes how I look at a medium pizza.

If you’ve reached this point and have a faint memory of the title and you are wondering what the apple is, the following is for you; and for anyone who skimmed through and is here for whatever reason.

We are living through a unique situation and things happen that help us cope. That’s what I told to the unfolded pile of laundry in my bedroom. “I will fold it when I need a productivity boost. Organizing them will help clear my mind”. They’re still there, 4 weeks later and might soon become sentient enough to hold a press conference.

Washed up things aside, the other day, a Monday to be precise, I peeled an entire apple in one motion of the peeler and rode that high through the whole day and even managed to be productive.

If you liked what you read, tell your friends about it. If you did not, also tell your friends about it so they can see for themselves and make fun about it.

Yogurt or the Lack Thereof

The title says what it says. I almost want to put “A hobbits tale by Bilbo Baggins” as a subtitle. Let this serve as a disclaimer to anyone who wants to pick up pitchforks. This story comes from a place of relative privilege and as such while it is not a thing that needs to be complained about, it is a funny experience.

Also it happened ten years ago. In 2010. Typing that feels weird. It also marks my time before I moved into a dorm and met the people that changed my life for better.

First, some background information. Indian kids write a set of exams at the end of high school. While not very significant in the long term, these are branded as the event that will “shape your next 40 years”. This was a real statement made by a real person. These exams end in the month of March and most colleges open around July.

The interim period is what I like to call “the short bliss”. Everything is good as written in stone at this point and we get to go about our business as any 17-year-old would.

It is not the full-fledged version of the bliss because depending on the situation, there is either a light at the end of the tunnel or there is an oncoming train. Schrodinger’s future if you please. I will tell you about the full bliss if you hang on long enough.

There I was, in 2010, a relatively wide-eyed boy-pretending-very-hard-to-be-an-adult (different can of worms for a different day) unable to live my short bliss to its potential because of a mistake I knew I made on my math final. I knew it the second I stepped out of the test and I knew there was no going back to fix things. I mixed up a positive and negative sign. In a way, I knew that the train was coming. Again, place of privilege, it was not as bad as I am building it up to be.

Now, here is what happens, in privileged households in the country. The parents do not want the kids to go to the best school in the state, oh no sir, they cannot have it. They want them to go to one of the absolutely best schools in the country. One of them also happens to be in the same state but this is merely coincidence. How do you get into these schools? You write another exam. This, dear reader, is where the protagonist finds himself. After a year of slaving away to get through the end-of-high-school exams, there is yet another one to go through.

It also does not help that these exams are hard as nails to the point where “crash courses” to help prep for this exam are a very lucrative business; and my parents signed me up for it. Back then, I had the illusion of free will.

To facilitate this, I moved to the state capital for a month and moved in to my mom’s cousin’s house. His name comes up on the first page of google results. My mother also had sentimental value because remember that coincidental amazing school that was also in the state? My mom’s cousin graduated from there way back when. You see where my parents’ intent is going right? Bless their heart because I could not tell all of this to them ten years ago. This is like the statute of limitations has been lifted off for a lot of things; primarily because I got my affairs in order and got a Master’s degree.

More background; ten years ago I did not have the tendency to speak up for myself. My dad also had the habit of talking too much at the start of the conversation. Today, I also speak up for other people. My dad is still the same. Man has not changed one bit.

We are very close to getting to the point of this whole charade.

Yogurt as a primary dish is not uncommon in my part of the world. I did not have a very particular affinity for it in my youth primarily because it meant one more course in the meal when I could be out playing video games or cricket or whatever it is that young ones do.

My dad was dropping me off at my uncle’s house and took the time and effort to say this,

“The boy does not like yogurt”

Why he said that? I do not know.

Did I ask him about it later? Probably.

Did I try to correct him in the moment? No. Refer back to the section about speaking up and confrontations.

What matters is what came of it. My uncle and aunt took this statement to heart. They were and still are amazing hosts. But for 30 days I went without the house serving me any form of yogurt. In a tropical country, in a balls-to-the-walls summer, you should understand how much of an inconvenience that is.

I also spectacularly fucked up the exam that was the focal point of the 30 day stay. But this was still only the insurance and no heads rolled as a result of this particular activity. Heads rolled for other things but that is not the point.

So what is the point of all this you ask with futility; knowing that time and again you read this because a) I forced you to doing this b) I brought this upon your timeline and you feel sorry for me or c) you feel sorry for me.

The point is not an overarching lecture about how one should stand up for oneself irrespective of age differences and the distinctive lack of authority.

No no, it is very simple. Don’t let anyone fuck with your food choices.

I will also leave you with this. The full bliss is the time between graduation and the start of the job that was landed before graduation. Because at that point you can basically reply to most things with,

“But I have a job”.

 

An Existential Crisis and Some Other Things

Without acknowledging the apocalypse, I would assume that having enough free time to literally do anything around the house would prompt us to pick up and do those things. For people with the right motivation, this would mean learning a new hobby, tending to activities inside the house, dealing with personal projects and perhaps most importantly, embarking on artistic endeavors.

Here is the thing though; these activities come with the requirement that the drive should have existed before all of this started. Inspiration does not come down upon us like magic. It is certainly true for me and as both the protagonist and sometimes antagonist of my own reality, I have some observations about the state of my world.

Now there is an excuse harped around when questioned about doing things that are not just the bare minimum.

This excuse is, “Oh but I’m so busy all the time and I have no free time”.

There are two kinds of people that are associated with this excuse.

The genuine ones are those that truly cannot take a moment outside of their daily routine to tend to these things. Parents with young children, young adults working their asses of to get better grades at school, people working multiple jobs, people who have other people dependent on them to get through their day and so on and so forth.

The second category is people like me who use time as a blanket excuse to not get things done that are not bare minimum. The only way to get around this, in my opinion, is to hardcode what bare minimum means on a daily basis.

The point being the second kind was not ready to give up on that excuse when the new status quo became staying at home.

Naturally, the odds of an existential crisis setting in when living in a situation without a change of scenery is as good as finding kids playing street cricket in India.

So, let me bullshit through this while I also gloat about my minor accomplishments. I watch a YouTube channel which is basically computer hardware porn for tech enthusiasts. Discovering that channel reignited my idea of wanting to build a gaming computer. A trip to an amazing electronics store and a couple of shady deals on eBay later, I was equipped with all my components and put together my own PC. One of the eBay deals was shady because I ordered a pack of three computer case fans and they arrived one after the other in individual packages.

This was one personal project accomplished. But wait, there is more; along this, an observation can also be made about how I pick up personal projects but never follow through with them even though I start them with such amazing enthusiasm. Case in point and a very cheeky self-aware observation, my writing. Am I writing enough? No. Do I feel bad about it? Yes. Am I doing anything actively to fix it? Also no.

The next projects involve some RaspberryPi computer boards, a network switch, 35ft of ethernet cables and some poor external hard drives. A network storage solution was birthed out of wildly googling multiple keywords and piecing together information from all those sources to setup a cardboard box in the corner of the apartment with holes cut out to plug things into the things that are kept inside that box. It works and now I am two drives away from becoming a data and by extension an electronics hoarder.

The other RaspberryPi serves as a network wider ad-blocker because installing ad-blockers on individual devices is so 2014.

I did promise you an existential crisis. After putting together all these computer things I wondered if I should have picked a different major in college. Now, the passage of time is a very weird concept for our generation. I still catch myself thinking that they 80s were 20 years ago. The point being that switching majors was a decision that I should have made in 2010. That ship has sailed, docked and been torn apart to make other ships I would assume.

Did I get through my personal projects because inspiration took hold of me? Unlikely.

Were the personal projects a way to take my focus of another looming existential crisis? Likely.

Will I continue my pursuit of personal projects in this uncertain time? You should know me enough to know that I probably will not.

Let me know what you think about this.

Three Middle Men

Today on the list of things that we are not going to address is the elephant in the room. Also, most of what follows is true.

That being said, my inspiration for art comes from people. Those people come from everywhere. On interacting with them I make small notes in the back of my head; not to be confused with the actual notebook that I have in my backpack to literally write it down because experience has shown that I sometimes remember dreams better than the things I’ve seen.

If you’ve rolled your eyes thinking that me saying ‘art’ is pretentious, you’d be mostly correct. It’s like watching a movie that is so out of touch with everything around it that it’s forced to be called Avant Garde. But, but, there is a black and white picture of a corridor hanging on someone’s wall that will make me disagree with you.

With fair certainty, I can say that every 10 posts or so, I reference airports in some way. As a wide-eyed, low-maintenance kid(subjective), airports are something out of the promised land from Pied Piper for me. The time between completing security and prior to boarding is time that is exclusive to you, if you’re travelling alone. I mean think about it. Next to showers, I’ve had the most clarity of thought when I’m inside an airport; although nothing groundbreaking has come out of it, yet.

Today, we have three middle aged men that I came across on the same journey, hopping between aircrafts and airports on my way across the Atlantic, the Arabian sea and pretty sure there were a couple of other water bodies that we crossed along the way. The first middle aged man was Indian. For sake of convenience and historical accuracy, he shall henceforth be referred to as ‘uncle’. So, this uncle, along with twenty other people, mostly a young-ish crowd, was waiting for some delayed baggage. Now, uncle has absolutely lost his shit because it’s apparently disrespectful for his baggage to be late. Some of you have met an uncle at some point in your life; you know the type- entitled, unreasonable and puts on reading glasses to operate a mobile phone with two hands and calls it ‘WhatsUp’. Granted, a lot of people who adapted that technology later in life are guilty of the last one so we’ll let it slide. If you don’t know the type, I have some very interesting people for you; hit me up at your own peril. Uncle was jumping up and down even after the airline gave him free coffee. It was 5:30 in the morning but uncle literally wanted the director of the airport to personally come over and hand him his luggage. He said unironically,

“If he is sleeping, pour hot water over his face and wake him up”

At which point I left because the airline had already lost my bags and I was legit standing around just for the drama.

The second was a nice non-entitled Brit. Everything we’ve heard about how British people are obsessed with queuing, it’s true, all of it. I’ve seen it and it should probably be a law of nature with gravity and the other weird stuff. Imagine, getting out of an airplane in economy and everyone gets up at the same time and reaches for their overhead compartments and absolutely nothing gets done? Now throw ten uncles in the mix. Absolutely terrible right? The greatest resistance to British culture that we’ve shown as a nation is by making queues irrelevant. This one is not about the uncles, it’s about the Brit, who in all the commotion, made eye contact with me and said,

“Everyone has to get out of the same aircraft. It’s not like you lot will be left behind”, even as an uncle pulled a bag out of the overhead, dropped it on an old lady’s head and huffed and puffed about like it was the old lady’s fault for sitting on her seat.

Scratch that. Maybe this is about the uncles after all because the third one is funny to me. So, last leg of my journey and this uncle has absolutely no clue on how to look up information on the boards about gate information. He sees me, color matches with me, figures out I’m Indian because duh and starts rapidly talking to me in Hindi, the popular language in India which I do not understand, and uncle does not seem to know English. The only sentence I can say with confidence in Hindi is,

“Muje Hindi patha nahi”, which is, and you’ve guessed right, “I don’t know Hindi”.

Quick side note; a Hindi speaker once told me, for a non-speaker, I did not have an accent to my Hindi. It was the way it was meant to be.

So, being the good Samaritan that I am and also because I have two hands and have watched a lot of movies, I wave my hands around to help him with the gate and stuff. All through security and random checking, this guy is turning around and smiling at me that it was a surprise that the TSA did not call me over as well.

We finally take off and he’s sitting like three rows ahead of me and as the drinks cart passed him, he said,

“Jack and coke with no ice please”.

Maybe that was his “Muje Hindi patha nahi”.

She’s Got a Smile

The title is clickbait. I did come up with a better idea, but it did not effectively sit well with the content so we’re going to run with this and see what the cosmos throws back at us. If you’re here from Facebook, the preview should have delved away the clickbait information so if you’re still here I’m assuming you want to read on. Also, you’re a nice person. If you’re also here because you think I’m going to say something scandalous about myself, I dig that you think there is something scandalous about me.

To the uninitiated, I recently turned 25. The mark of a milestone age. The age where if a kid on the street calls me “Uncle”, I’m going to live with it. When I was a wee kid myself back in early 2000, 25 was always the age where I imagined that I would have my life figured out and in front of me. It was very much like hitting a fast-forward button and waiting for 25 to magically appear and sort my life.

While that hope has been buried under freshy mowed grass, I have in the years leading up to 25, tried to be wise beyond my age, thinking that surely, maturity will help me figure out my life. This is partly why some of my content (if you’ve followed enough of it) used to be extremely preachy. It continues to be; but now I preach to myself and put it on display for the whole world (like the 100 people who read this) to see.

There is objective joy in being silly. Saying a joke so bad that the entire room groans back at you is a special kind of satisfaction; I know this because someone gives me flak for it everytime. 25 also brought with it a lot of self-realizations. With a little nudge and a whole week broke and alone in a different country, I have concluded that I am antisocial. There was a time, in the mid-2000s where I wanted to be edgy like the other kids, listening to the same 7 Backstreet boys and Eminem songs every day. Hey, that worked out for some people because they went on to do some really wacky stuff. Not for me. I now take my music at my own pace and sometimes sound like a snob for talking about my tastes. That’s okay. I used to be shy. Like ‘I will take a B grade on this paper so that I don’t have to confront my instructor’ shy. Now I am not. I can talk my ass out of most sensible situations, but I don’t actively go searching for conversation. Still extremely anti-social though.

The best realization was that I am a jack of all trades. In quick terms I’ve tried my hand at standup comedy, some wild ish cooking and a lot of cricket. While I’m not particularly good at any of them, I really don’t mind because I do them and it’s nice.

This has been a lot of me tooting my own horn but let this be a letter to my future self. You may identify with one or more of the things in this post and if you did, cheers, if you did not, then you’re cooler than me.

There is a bit of universal preachy stuff though. Someone told me a long time ago, not verbatim though, closest paraphrase,

“Come try this with me, maybe it will be your passion”

If you’re ever in this situation, nine times out of ten, absolutely do not do that thing because, while it is their passion, it may not be yours. Finding a passion takes time. There may even be a Jack phase before it arrives. This could be the scandalous takeaway that you could have wanted.

To turning 25 and to being silly. This is what I wanted the title to be.

Outgrown

India has a notoriety of making mama’s boys out of a lot of well, um, boys. Personally, I think this is why a lot of matrimonial talks bring in the ‘Can the girl cook?’ question into the picture. The Indian matrimony industry is a can of worms that I will get to shortly. We have to work through the mama’s boy and cooking first. So, strap on and let’s get into a personally biased anecdote of an opinion that has no basis in fact.

Mothers pamper their sons, in a few cases that I have seen, to an alarming extent. Tamil and in a larger scope, Indian cinema also seems to support this opinion. The son/hero can be an absolute scum of a human being who stalks the heroine 24/7 and the only reprimanding from his mother is that he did not eat on time. It is exaggerated but art imitates life and some of this is rooted in the things around us.

This is why the daughters are badass. I’m 100% not sure how to put this into words, but the daughters are simultaneously trained in playing by the rules but survival, when the rules around them are broken is drilled into them. This makes them more independent; also a little scary. I don’t have anyone particular on my mind while I’m writing this. Trust me.

With the philosophical out of the way, let us dive into the cooking. Now, I believe I mentioned this earlier but my mother’s number one concern when I left India about 10 months back was not the mountain of debt I was creating; no, she was worried that I would not eat properly. I was a picky eater, always have and always will be, by the looks of it. The running joke in my family is, “Get Arvind a girl who can boil and salt some dal and he will be set for life”.

Over the past month, without an internship and other discernable ways to let my summer pass, I wandered into two unknown territories. Cooking being the second. This made me realize that following recipes from the internet is amazing if we all had patience; I also realized that 1 cup in volume is like a lot of whatever it is that you’re measuring when cooking for one person. I’m lazy to the extent that in the last 10 months, I’ve cooked and eaten my mother’s sambar recipe for nearly 5/7 days in a week and that is a fact. So, when I got around to cooking for myself after my roommates skipped town, I cooked a lot of dishes that I am accustomed to eating only in restaurants; pizza(fancy), paneer and co, channa and others. Now, with the exception of channa, my mother has not attempted to cook any of them. Garlic while being a primary reason, it was also because I was a picky eater and in the traditions that we pick and choose, we were TamBhram when it came to food. This led me to ask myself an important question,

“Have I outgrown my mother’s and to a fair extent my father’s cooking?”

And ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you that if you have liked that cooking from the beginning, you will never ever ever ever ever outgrow it. We’re all suckers for certain things and I am for a lot of things and I’m proud to say that I’m a sucker for that cooking.

As promised, the can of worms. A lot of people before me will have realized this but matrimony websites in India are basically the Tinder for our more functional adults. Now, most of this post is the reason why I’m fairly sure why a section on my profile (that my mom will eventually create and manage) will have a section that says “Boy can cook”, with an addition of “Indian and Italian” if she decides to be cheeky about it.

Home Alone : Broke in Raleigh

Let’s get cracking.

Summer vacations in India are the most glorious days in the life of a kid. That is, until the kid grows up to be an edgy teen, where we become too cool for vacations, lamenting about how home life is a chore and all that jazz. On the off chance that there is a kid reading this, you’re wrong. You will always be wrong. I grew up and then finally realized that having that break where we were responsible for essentially nothing is as good as it gets.

Unfortunately, once I graduated engineering, I’ve never been blessed with that period. I started my first job, literally 4 days after a long cross-country trip. It was an amazing trip, but it is difficult to not appreciate that feeling of wanting to do absolutely nothing. If you dear reader, unlike me, are one of the people who go mad at the first sign of nothing, you might not exactly get the idea; but I would go mad in your shoes, so there is that.

I ended up having a week off and by the looks of it, the rest of the summer due to events that have not yet come to pass. But that is not the point. I was home alone for a week in my apartment and feared that I would go mad with nothing to do. False. It was an eye-opening experience. I’ve been in this boat before but back then, I was not a broke grad student who had to cook for himself. I investigate the refrigerator and it stares back at me with the emptiness of the void. Around this time is when I came to the full realization about the wonders of the internet. I can now cook a mean channa and pizza; those are like crazy different ends of the spectrum, but the idea is that I YouTubed my way to a lot of good recipes. I did talk to myself a lot and played some borderline weird music but if you can’t go even a little mad, then what is the point?

I feel like I’ve not promoted this enough, but I have started doing standup comedy as an outlet to all the self-depreciating humor that is creeping up. You can check out the videos on my Facebook Profile if you’re genuinely curious about how bad it is.

The next one is going to be a post on age. Not a big deal just a snippet on how I am coming to terms with reaching a milestone age. Also, food for thought, we as adults convince ourselves that we are stable people capable of making rational decisions. This, in my observation, is as close as it gets to the placebo effect. The fun part is, even if we are self-aware about this, we continue making irrational decisions. An argument can be made for “That is what makes us human” for the higher actions but eating an entire loaf of garlic bread because I “felt like it” serves no higher purpose.

A Life without Molagapodi

This post is almost entirely about what the title describes. Moving beyond the excuses of the past, I’ve seen a lot of our, ‘proverbs’ or ‘sayings’ enacted in real life around me. Don’t bite off more than you can chew being one of them. I picked an additional course at school and it is coming back to bite me in a big way, in my unmentionables. When in Rome, be a Roman being another one. I now pronounce my name to Americans, the way Americans say it; saves some time in the initial phase where they try to get it right.

Let’s get on with it then. The title is essentially a question. What is life without molagapodi?

The short answer, it’s depressing.

I’ll tell you why in a minute; but we need some clarity on what molagapodi is. Even in the limited geographic area of my home state, this word has different meanings. Google translate calls it ‘Chilly Powder’ and that is fair. But molagapodi is a more Tambhram word that it is a Tamil word; it is part of the staple diet that primarily consist of the idly or the dosa.

Now the why. I grew up in a household where both parents were working. This means that you kinda start seeing a pattern in terms of food. There is batter for dosa throughout the week and it is easy to make. Now, if you, like me, have no preference towards fancy sides for your dosa, molagapodi will come through for you, every time all the time. My love for molagapodi is now the stuff of legend in my family and when I visit them, they know for a fact that pleasing me is as easy as it gets.

Things change with time all the time. People come, people go. Things get old, new things take their place. Memories fade away, the good ones stay back. Some you keep under wraps, but the point is, change happens and it comes for all of us. I moved to a different country about six months ago. I now call football, ‘soccer’ which is a crime. I already told you how I say my name. I can now drive on the right side of the road without it getting weird that it is the opposite side of what I am used to driving. I have adjusted to cooking my own food; which is, coincidentally my mother’s biggest concern.

After all this, something that I cannot get away from is molagapodi. At this point, I know you think that I’m romanticizing something waaaaay too much and you’d be right. I am. That’s the point of media or art or whatever you want to call it.

This is not a metaphorical story of a boy who is losing the grip on his past. This is not a story of a boy who wonders how good the past used to be.

This is very simply, the story of the boy who misses his molagapodi.

Driving, Metaphors and Coffee

In my motherland of India, there is a very weird phenomenon that we like to call, starting trouble. The consensus is that starting trouble is the discomfort and general feeling of I-don’t-want-to-do-this that occurs before any undertaking. Driving, for example, or even dating, if we can stretch some imagination, typically has a lot of starting trouble. But as a wise man once told me,

“All it takes is 3 seconds of madness”, where you basically let the clutch go and throttle up and then you are on your way. The same applies for driving also.

Thus we arrive at the small fact that I had nothing to begin the post with. I do know what I want to say in the middle but a little faux philosophy and metaphors (wink wink), to start off with, does not hurt.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. This quote has come across as numerous facebook posts with different inspirational pictures in the background.

This is a post for those who know history and still repeat it; in the hopes that time might bring about different changes. Or in other words, insane and occasionally disillusioned people. This is not to be confused with outcomes that are effort based. I started playing a new sport, I was absolute shit on day one but eventually, I did improve; no, effort towards something will always give results. Suffices to say that I have learnt that in more ways than one; and no, I am not proud of that fact.

That being said, it would be great to have a statistic of people who roll their eyes when they read these things. Wink once in the comment section on Facebook for this post, if you are one of them. I’d really like to know how many people I have an effect on.

No shave November is what all the drumrolls have been about. See, I share a lot of fairly distinct traits with my dad. We are both capable of comfortably staring off into the distance without feeling awkward. We have a really short fuse (I’m still working on this) and have trademark tells when we get angry. We have a craving for excellent filter coffee. My hair is going through a pattern baldness that I have seen on him. We sound the same over the phone (people have a hard time telling the difference). I’d actually attribute what little writing I have to him. We have a really good ear for music, albeit, his sense is way better than mine.

In addition to all this, we share the fact that beards don’t like us. I did some observations on this and it might stretch back to my great-grandfather.

You know how Liverpool fans keep saying “this year is our year”? I stopped saying that about my beard two years ago. I mean, at one point, you’d have to accept the reality that not a lot of titles are coming your way right? At least I’ve been marginally sensible than them.

So, starting last year, on principle, I went around clean shaved in November. This was my way of sticking it to the man. Year on year, the tiniest bit of hope for a beard keeps getting thrown out the window. I will wait until 55 to see if that changes. Observations indicate that a full grown beard might turn up at that age.

This was a mostly pointless post but here’s something to ponder, I think it’s useless to have a bland social interaction. Things that we say should start having an impact on the people we’re telling it to; otherwise, it becomes two walls talking to each other. Words demand responses, good, bad or downright nasty, depending on the intent behind them.