The battle of the smartphones

Apple’s iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – which smartphone is smarter?

The two most hyped phones of 2011 are about to enter the Indian market. There’s the iPhone 4S with its magical personal assistant Siri, who listens to you and finds what you are looking for as soon as you ask for it. Then there is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone running Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). While the iPhone 4S is scheduled to be launched on 25 November, the Nexus will be launched early next month. As the Indian smartphone market readies for the launch of these phones, we send them out into the battlefield to find the smartest choice.

The contenders

iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

An update to the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S comes loaded with a powerful A5 processor, iOS 5, Siri and a whopping 8-megapixel camera. When it launched in the US last month, sales within a month broke all records at four million handsets and saw long lines of customers waiting to get their hands on one. The phone is already out for pre-order with a tie-up with Aircel and will launch in India later this month.

Price: 16 GB at Rs. 44,500 and the 32 GB variant at Rs. 50,900. No information available on the 64 GB variant.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

The latest Android flagship, the Galaxy Nexus combines Samsung’s ever-improving hardware in a massive high-resolution, 4.65-inch screen with the latest Android 4.0. It hasn’t reached any customer yet, but is raking up a storm of anticipation. The phone is up for pre-order in countries like the US and UK and will be coming to India soon.

Price: The company has not released any information on price, though industry sources claim that it will be in the Rs. 35,000-40,000 price band.

Let the battle begin

Round 1: Display

The Galaxy Nexus comes with a whopping 4.65-inch of Samsung Super AMOLED HD curved display. With such a huge size for a screen, it walks a thin line between a tablet and smartphone and does it well (if you have rather large hands, that is). To pack a punch, it has a tempting 1280×720 resolution, which is the highest ever in a smartphone. It gives a new meaning to clarity and makes Web browsing, movie watching and gaming experience a breeze. It also eats up battery life.

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In the right direction

 

These GPS navigators are custom-made for Indian streets, so you won’t need to stop and ask about the route any more

Shweta Taneja

 

A map in hand is worth two on line when you are driving, says Amit Prasad, founder and CEO, SatNav Technologies, a Hyderabad-based GPS map-making company.

“You don’t need a phone GPRS connection, and re-routing is much faster in on-board systems,” he says. After all, cars honking behind you in traffic will not wait for the map to buffer on your smartphone. “A good GPS system talks to you and says ‘turn right’ at exactly the point where you need to take a turn,” explains Prasad. And since the maps are updated every six months, the very latest constructions are included in your map.

According to a report published last year by IE Market Research Corp., a Canada-based market intelligence and business strategy research and consulting firm, the navigation industry in India will be worth $158.4 million (around Rs. 793.58 crore) by 2014. New Delhi-based navigation company MapmyIndia’s director Rohan Verma claims his company has grown 600% in the last three years. “This is a testament to the significantly growing demand for GPS navigators,” he says, adding that guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are the main advantages GPS navigators have over smartphone maps.

Some GPS services available in India are:

Via by TomTom

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

The Dutch navigation-system makers entered the Indian market in September with their Via series. The maps come loaded with TomTom’s unique Landmark Navigation functionality, wherein you can search for a specific place by a landmark around it, be it a famous monument, temple or park. The console also includes a “Help Me!” emergency menu that provides information about hospitals and other emergency services on the road. Of the three models available for India, Via LIVE 120 and Via 125 have voice controls, so you don’t have to stop or take your hands off the wheel. These two models also come with a mobile car-kit feature that can convert this device into a hands-free Bluetooth speaker. The mount which comes with the device attaches to the windscreen and can be turned up to 180 degrees. It comes with an 11cm or 13cm touch screen, depending on the model.

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Pinch and swipe

Looking for a tablet? Here is how you can go the touch-screen way with devices that cost less than Rs. 15,000

Touch screens have transformed the way we browse the Internet and entertain ourselves. In fact, now we don’t click and type, but pinch, zoom and swipe. It has been almost a year since the first tablet was launched in India in November 2010. And by the look of it the craze for tablets is just on the rise.

However, not all of us can afford the swanky top-of-the-line versions. If you can’t imagine buying the iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom or HTC Flyer right now, but still want to experience how a tablet works, you need not wait any more. To help you make the right choice, we waded through the Android-based affordable tablets out there to bring you six we think you can try out.

iBall Slide

The Slide is a 1 GHz, Android 2.3 tablet with a bright 7-inch capacitive display.

It comes with 8 GB storage that can be extended up to 32 GB with an SD memory card. To cut costs, iBall has gone with only one front-facing camera, and no rear camera. As a result, it has a good 2 MP camera for videoconference calls, and it also comes with an HDMI out, mini USB and SD card slots. The device supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but lacks built-in 3G.

Upside: The iBall Slide has a USB port with which you can connect it to your PC or attach extra memory, keyboard, data dongle, etc., making it easy to connect and work on. The HDMI allows you to connect it to your TV to watch videos easily. It also comes with 8 GB internal memory built in, so the majority of users will not need to buy more storage.

Downside: There’s no rear camera and no SIM card support for data connectivity. Connecting to 3G requires a USB data dongle, an added expense of around Rs. 2,500. Audio quality on the iBall is terrible.

Money matters: Rs. 13,995 *

*Prices are subject to variations.

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Kolkata during Durga’s reign

Made a recent trip to Kolkata during Durga Pooja. I planned to write a blog on the travel (before I went there) but after experiencing the whole city during the throngs of art, aesthetic, stories, religiosity, happiness and sheer sublimity, I am kind of out of words. Hence I have decided to share with you a poem I wrote on the airplane while I was coming back from the trip. My head was clogged with sinus and my heart heavy with what I had just witnessed. As is the way of emotion and words, I hope to give you an essence of the transformation I went through seeing the beautiful idols on display and being immersed.

 

And lo! Durga falls down

Durga!
The fire of right
Shines through your starry sari
As you stand slightly staring
With those big, diamond-shaped eyes
On to the little girl with oiled pigtails
Black lips sucking on an ice lolly.

Durga!
In red and white
And purple and silver
With necklaces wound delicately
Like slumbering snakes
You merge burning desire and danger
In everlasting serpentine curves.
You ethereal mystery, you.
How you smile slightly, almost ironically
Moist clay corners of your lips tilted upwards
As she stares at you
Hoping to find
Some solace
For her broken tears.

Durga!
You float freely
Hailed by harnesses
In the bright light falling
On your bejeweled bosom.
Your calm, cushioned cheeks
Plush like apples.
He looks up, his belly stirring
With a rush of guilt and desire
As he takes off his black glasses
Carefully wiping off the sweaty dust
That has gathered
Standing in the sweaty crowd.

Durga!
Your feet play hide and seek
In your bridal sari.
One delicate foot
Crushes the demon’s arrogant neck
Suffocating him to death
Your spear tears off his chest
Spurting a stream of blood
A new coloured river.
We look at the blood
And thank you
It’s not us.

Durga!
You coy, shy bride!
Your hands and feet
Stained with crimson red.
Delicate wrists
Hold the sword and spear
And move with a tinkle
Of green glass bangles
Awaiting a love, long lost.
I look at you and think
Your job’s almost done
Tomorrow you will be gone too.
I know but don’t know
How and why
You would go.

Durga!
In the dark, sultry night,
Your million hands and arms
Spread like the sun’s last rays
A magician’s card trick
About to be played.
The drums beat tireless
As palpitating excitement burns
Under the orange flood lights.
This is the moment they were all waiting for!
In the truck’s shadow you stand
Silent, waiting for the policeman
To flick his final hand.
The drums beat into a frenzy
Fleshy feet and hands and arms and breasts and hips
All jive and twist and turn and swirl and dance
As the drums beat and beat and beat and beat.
The artificial lights sparkle like stars
On her shining waters
As her soft, clingy, fine mud
Beckons you to come.

Durga!
She waits for you
Her dirty arms stretched
Her body covered
With centuries of filthy flesh dips
And carcasses and mellowed flowers and broken ceramic cups
And shiny plastic packets.
Sins of flesh and heart and mind and greed
All churn and mix and become one
In her accepting waters.
She is bejeweled too
Her boils ooze plastic like
Her blackened skin moistened with electric lights.
Her brown blood oozes
Onto the shores
With silt and sweat and tears and piss
Her waters call out in anticipation.
They look at you
They look at her
With cultivated disinterest.
From their vantage point
On a small luxury cruiser
Nursing a glass of wine.
Fashionably crinkling their noses
As the slight moldy smell of retch
That rises up to the deck.

Durga!
You look at her
Your deep, dark eyes
Marked red in corners
And maybe your heart heaves
Becomes so heavy
That the fleshy men carrying you
Slip on her fine muds
One almost being crushed.
He mumbles a quick thank you
As he pushes you again
Towards her.

Durga!
For just a moment
You stand in all your regalia
Your dress resplendent
Like a thousand suns
Your hand raised in blessing.
And maybe you are slightly perplexed
As to why?
But then, splash!
You fall
Into her.
Your face looks upwards
At the heavy stars
Hanging low, like overripe jewels
In a dungeon sky.
Her cooling waters
Takes your paint away.
Black eyes and small red pout and cushy cheeks and double chin
Is all ripped off by its skin.

Durga!
You cannot see or hear or smell or taste.
As she sucks you further into her womb.
Like she sucked centuries of flesh and blood and sweat and piss.
They turn you upside,
And the cold, murky waters
Set to work,
Calmly licking
Your skin and bones and veins and blood.

Durga!
You float and feel
The million others like you.
Your bones softly bumping
Into another you, then another, then another
And then another.
You cannot see or hear or taste or smell
Only feel, only feel
The cold, weathered snake-like hand
That coils on your now empty breast
Pulling, pushing, peeling, pushing.
He grips your bared bones
Sweat mingles with forgiving waters
His dhoti stuck stubbornly to his innards.
He hauls you and thinks of home
His plate of rice and hot fish curry
His empty stomach rumbles as he sees
An endless assembly line yet to heave
Of you and you and you and you.

Durga!
Maybe you cannot feel now.
I hope you cannot feel anymore.
The rusted crane clutches your innards
With her big, metallic claws
Away from her cold, murky womb.
For a moment
One of your arms
Still white with green bangles
Shines in protest
In the darked up night
Trying to reach to the skies.
But then the crane heaves
Dashing your brittle bones
On a hill of empty
Wooden carcasses.

Durga!
Maybe you wondered why.
Maybe you knew.
What is born and made
Will crumble to down to dust.
Your holocaust of carcasses
Stands tall as a reminder
Silent, nursing, resting, tired.
Waiting to rise
When time turns
And yet another demon
Needs to burn.

Durga!
For one moment
My painful heart sinks and cries out
And maybe my soul sours
Up in the dark, murky sky
Calling you,
Grieving for you,
Remembering you,
Becoming you.
I trip and fall backwards
On the deck of the civilized carcass
Floating, for now,
On the balmy river bed.

© Shweta Taneja, October 2011


Check out some of the videos from my travel to Kolkata.

 

A heartfelt thanks to my friends K and R for their hospitality, company and thoughts. You can continue to read my other poems here.

Bye, Bye my 1st baby!

It’s a rather pretty day today, have you noticed? I did, after a long, long time!

If any of you avid readers of my blog wondered what I have been up for almost a month of my absence from the online world, it’s editing. Two of my biggest projects which I had set out to do in the last eight months, have finally come to an end. I suddenly feel kind of empty. Nice empty Smile

The first mammoth one was the Digital Natives project. I edited two books for the NGO Centre for Internet and Society which were a culmination of three years of research. The books are out now in the world and fending for themselves now. I send them hugs. You can view the research book for free online or order one for yourself. Hear more about them on the dedicated page.

My second project was much tougher. I had decided to write a complete book while editing the Digital Natives books. Madness, now that I look back at it, but somehow the decision helped me bring out my first book and overcome my lack of confidence. It worked! Yes dear readers and the online universe, the first draft of my book is over!

It’s tentatively called Mystery of the Iyer Bungalow and is a children detective fiction. I thought writing it would be the biggest challenge for me, it wasn’t. It was editing that proved to be the main hurdle. It took much longer in time and was an emotional, depressing experience. Questions I didn’t have answer to hit me. Does the book work? asked the Editor in me. The Writer cringed and said she didn’t know. I had to take decisions of chopping down characters I had created with a lot of love and enjoyment. They didn’t fit into the narrative Sad smile

Finally, the first level of editing is finished. I feel a strange calm sadness. I have sent the book out (it’s going for the first time!) to some of my industry friends to read and for feedback. My heart beats fast and wonders how it will feel about it. I still don’t know if anyone would like to read this book. I don’t know how she will be treated (yes my book has feelings!) and if she will ever be published. I have lost every sense of objectivity for her. I am her mother and she’s my baby. I can’t be objective about her. As an decently good Editor, it’s a scary experience! And since it’s just a first draft and I don’t even have a publisher, I bet this is just a start to a long, long journey of my book. I wish Mystery of the Iyer Bungalow best of luck and hope that someday, a kid would read you and it would make her smile, just as it did me.

And that is the challenge that creative writing poses for me. It makes me experience the best and the worse of my talent and creative self. The highest and the lowest, both come one and again, in cycles. I had always wondered why suddenly one day, I decided to quit my journalism career and walk the thorny and painful path of fiction and fantasy writing. Now I know.

Caught in the net

Try these smart ways to keep a check on your Internet addiction. By Shweta Taneja

 

It’s a connected world out there. So much so that most of us cannot think of life without a phone or access to the Internet—even when on holiday.

Take control: Learn how to disconnect from the online world and organize your daily Internet use.

Take control: Learn how to disconnect from the online world and organize your daily Internet use.

“When I am hiking and I force myself to disconnect from the online world, I feel alone. I feel like there’s so much of the trip that I would like to share with my online friends,” says Hrish Thotaa, a 31-year-old social media professional and self-proclaimed Twitter addict who spends 8-9 hours on social networking sites and chats, and 3-4 hours on email. “I spend my entire waking time online,” explains Thotaa.

A study called A Day without Media was conducted in 2010 by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, University of Maryland, US. The study had asked 200 students at the university to abstain from using all media for 24 hours. They then had to blog (http://withoutmedia.wordpress.com) about their experiences. “Although I started the day feeling good, I noticed my mood started to change around noon. I started to feel isolated and lonely. I received several phone calls that I could not answer,” wrote one student on the blog after the 24-hour fast (the website did not give out names). “By 2pm, I began to feel the urgent need to check my email, and even thought of a million ideas of why I had to. I felt like a person on a deserted island… I noticed physically that I began to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices, and maybe I am.”

“Most youngsters cannot imagine their lives without cellphones and the online world today,” says Jitendra Nagpal, consultant, psychiatry, Moolchand hospital, New Delhi. “They feel anxious or stressed when they lose connectivity, be it because (the) battery has run out, they are in an area with no connectivity, or they have no balance left,” he explains. Psychologists have a word for those who make it an obsession: Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).

Addiction to the World Wide Web is a very real issue. You can see the signs everywhere around you nowadays: a fidgety colleague who needs to constantly tweet, a friend who clicks the refresh button on Facebook hoping to see something new while on a dinner date, or you realizing at the end of a day that you have been browsing the Internet for so long that the afternoon has passed and you still have a pile of work to get through.

“Procrastination is the greatest demon of being connected,” says Sasank T., a 25-year-old marketing manager based in Bangalore. Sasank scored 58 on an Internet Addiction Quiz (www.netaddiction.com), a score which suggests that he might be facing some problems at work because of the long hours he spends online.

“I have had to work nights as I skipped deadlines since I was online for the whole day in office,” Sasank says. “There are times when many days go by doing nothing but browsing my favourite sites.” The only time Sasank disconnects is when his laptop heats up and gets switched off; and then the phone comes in. If, like Sasank, you can’t let go of the online urge, here are some tools that can help you:

Detect your time wasters

Wisdom has it that a 2-minute break on Facebook can last for hours. A second on a site can never last a second. Each one of us has sites that we love wasting our time on.

Try this tool: SelfControl (http://visitsteve.com/made/selfcontrol) is a free software that allows you to restrict the time you spend on social networking sites, gaming forums or shopping sites. Simply install the software and add any domain name to its blacklist, like Facebook.com. Then put on a timer and tell the software how long you want to use that domain in a day (from 1 minute to 12 hours). Once you have spent that much time on that particular site in a day, it will be blocked from your browser for the rest of the day. All the other sites will work just fine. SelfControl takes addictions seriously. The app was planned as an extreme measure, so use it only if you are not going to change your mind—deleting the application or rebooting your computer will not help unblock the particular site.

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Tweaks for tweets

 

Are endless tweets giving you a pain in the neck? We list some cool apps and websites that guide, curate and arrange the massive sea of information into bite-sized pieces for you

Time was when life was simpler. When all you had to do was reach office in the morning, check your emails, read some blogs, have a steaming cuppa and get on with your work. In the good old days, a message like “You’ve got mail!” brought a smile to your face. Heck, it even brought back the memory of a romantic movie.

Tracking tips: Who you should follow, and how to increase your popularity on Twitter.

Tracking tips: Who you should follow, and how to increase your popularity on Twitter.

In Twitterverse, the voices in your feeds never stop. According to the official Twitter blog (blog.twitter.com), as of June end the micro-blogging social network was generating a whopping 200 million tweets per day. That is equivalent to a 10-million-page book of tweets or 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 epic novel War and Peace. Reading this much text would take more than 31 years, the blog tells us. Here are some efficient ways to manage the information overload on the five-year-old micro-blogging site.

Find the right people to follow

There are oodles and oodles of tweeters online, but there are only a few hundred influencers. If you don’t hear them on time, you might just miss the next big thing your fellow tweeters are talking about. Find the right influencers of your industry on Twellow (www.twellow.com) by category. The website scrounges through Twitter.com every day to come up with a list of influencers tabulated on the basis of number of followers, industry or categories such as entertainment, news, society and sports. Here you will find the people who are heard by thousands of people and whose tweets are retweeted the most, etc. TweetLevel.com, on the other hand, lets you search the right people to follow by entering a word in its search box.

Tell a tweet story

Feeling creative and want to play with your and other people’s tweets? Check Storify (http://storify.com). Still in its beta stage, the website is an innovative way of telling a story using social networks and the endless information online. You can use tweets, Flickr photos, YouTube videos and articles from the online space to tell a story about a topic, idea or concept. The interface is simple, with a search button where you can search for tweets using hashtags or words and then drag and drop them in your story. The story is publicly available and can be embedded into a website or a blog.

Archive a hashtag

Hashtags were lying forgotten on the number “3” key of your keyboard before Twitter introduced them to create tweet groupings. Now, a hashtag before any word in a tweet makes it about a group, event, occurrence, meet-up or idea. But what happens a day, a week or a month after the hashtag has been used? If you want to save the tweets of a hashtag from being lost forever in the ocean of information that is Twitter, try the Twapper Keeper (http://twapperkeeper.com) free service. It lets you archive up to two trends by hashtags, keywords or fellow tweeters. Another such free service is The Archivist (http://archivist.visitmix.com), which focuses only on hashtags. Once you link the site to your Twitter account, it can track a hashtag for you on a daily basis, and analyse it by users, volume, sources and retweets, etc., in a fancy graph.

Mute the noise

Your stream is inundated with the tweet traffic of retweets, automatically generated tweets from Foursquare or Gowalla about where your friends are or those irritating “I am sleeping now” tweets. In between all this traffic, you could miss the tweets that may actually be relevant to you. Mixero (www.mixero.com) is a Twitter client developed with the idea of “reducing the noise” or information overload. It lets you collate the people you follow by groups and see tweets according to groups, user platforms or channels….

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Powerhouse in your palm

 

The smartphone is bored. Day in and day out, we connect to the Internet, answer some emails, post a tweet or two and play Angry Birds. Sometimes we have long chats with friends or text angry messages to our boy/girl friends when they are late. However, most of us don’t realize the power we have in our hands. What most of us do with our smartphones is akin to driving a Ferrari or a Bugatti on a German autobahn at 40kmph—it’s simply sacrilegious.

So before your phone’s delicate touch screen gives in to the angst of its tedious existence, shift gears and make use of it the way it was meant to be used: innovatively.

Turn it into a Wi-Fi hot spot

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

It’s actually quite simple. Your phone has a 3G (or if you are still tied down to ancient technology, a 2G) Internet connection and a Wi-Fi adaptor. So why can’t it act like a Wi-Fi hot spot for your PC, tablet and other devices? All you need to do is install an app that makes use of your phone’s Internet connection and Wi-Fi adaptor and showers its Internet connectivity on to Wi-Fi-enabled devices around it. There are a lot of apps that help you do this, but the good ones offer encryption as well as password protection from lurkers— this is a must if you are using your phone Wi-Fi in a public space. Though some brands like the iPhone, HTC and the Nexus series come with built-in Wi-Fi tethering, the features are limited—it is best to download an app made for this purpose.

Start now: We like Connectify (www.connectify.me). It is a free app and can be used on Android-based systems. For Nokia phones, JoikuSpot (www.joiku.com) is a great app. Its free version turns your phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot without password protection and basic Internet protocol support (which means no emails can be checked). The premium version, which costs around Rs. 580, comes with the ability to use a password to secure the network, encrypt it, and gives you full Internet protocol support. If your iPhone is updated to iOS 4.3, you can use the new Personal HotSpot, which is password- protected. For other iOS versions, try MyWi 4.0 (intelliborn.com). It can be used on jail-broken handsets and costs $19.99 (approx. Rs. 900). IPhone does not allow users to go beyond its operating system. Jail-breaking or hacking the system to install other apps is one way to bypass this.

Use it as a debit card

Bar code-based mobile payment is fast becoming a trend. In India, Airtel Money (www.airtelmoney.in) lets users load their mobile phones with money to make payments at select stores.

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Rituals of death and dead cultures

Being pissed off at something makes me write. I am pissed off at many things right now. Mostly, I can direct all my anger, frustration and irritation at one word: RITUALS.

Rituals are like flies in India. They are everywhere, they survive, they hop around your food, your mouth, your eyes, sitting, peeing, pooping on your face. They are mostly irritating and sometimes make you feel like you might want to swat your own face to get rid of them. But you can’t really. You might swat, stand up, shrug, dance, frit, fly, run, walk all you want, the flies will come back and sit on you everywhere to poop and pee.

If you have lived in India long enough (and I have since I was born) chances are you have met Mr Ritual. Indians love him (and I am using gender-specific pronoun here). That is why, everytime there is a festival, someone is born (is it a boy! oh, no it’s a girl), someone reaches a certain age (puberty, let’s celebrate blood), someone gets married, someone gets kids, someone celebrates, someone conducts a pooja (5gm cloves, 3 pieces of beetle nuts and two tilaks please), on vrats, on days you eat, on days you fast, on special days, or on when you die. There’s a ritual for everything. There are rules you have to follow to appease gods, ancestors, deities, families, husband’s families, and innumerable other people (and some gods) who you don’t really want to even know.

Since these rituals have been made by prissy, patriarchally-oriented granddaddies of our culture (Manu, some of the rishis and oodles of other brahmins, dads and granddads after them) and are delicately conserved by the female part of the family, they are usually regressive in nature, especially for the women of the family. They want to keep women of the family in purdah, busy in either making food or cleaning, or making food, or bathing themselves, or did I mention making food? These rituals also demand that the daughters-in-law and wives in a household of traditional loving Indian family, demand money/gifts/stuff from their own families of before marriage. And these rituals demand from the men of the family to do vague things like mantra, poojas—actions which are robotic and laid down in the holy books – through which they can appease gods, ancestors and family members and make their stand in society.

In other words, all these little rituals keep everyone busy and safely away from questioning. Safely away to ask why is everyone so busy in rituals? Why are these fly-like rituals everywhere, surrounding us in a flurry of things-to-do lists? Why don’t people in India look behind these rituals and see what they are trying to tell their gods through them? Why does no one see the suffering, the stuffiness, the prissiness of it all?

So I reached a conclusion. And I learnt it from flies. Flies who are wiser than us, and everywhere. They don’t change their lifestyle. You can swat them all you want, hunt them down with spears, guns, bombs or even hatchets. There will be simply more in number than you can attack. India’s too hot (and too stuck up) a country to not have flies and rituals.

The question is, have flies become so much a part of you that you would not even notice their existence? Have you become immune to the fact that they are nothing but flies?

I always thought that emotions cannot be told in mere prose. Here’s a poem I wrote for the occasion.

 

 

Continue reading “Rituals of death and dead cultures”

The beta of becoming

Blame it on a sleepy mood in the morning. Or the fact that I am doing too many tech stories for Mint (here, here and even here). Or a beautifully grey-blue morning in Bangalore. Or just the bellboys, who I love putting blame on anyways. Today morning, I woke up convinced that I am a program in its beta stage. Do I hear you laugh? Let me convince you.

TNAlphabet-Letter-B-shadowI am continuously changing, evolving, becoming something else.  Everything about me is in a flux–physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and all the other lulls. My source code is constantly being tampered with. By me, the things I read everything, by a man on the streets I don’t even know, by the potent combination of conversations and caffeine, by media, the movies I see, the videos I flick through on youtube, even innocent tweets. All of these are constantly tweaking my self, my insides, fusing, fastening, gripping, loosening, doing the salsa with my minds.

It’s interesting times, yes. It’s also revolutionary times inside me. I am becoming something else. I don’t even know what yet. What will I eventually turn into? If I look one step ahead, I am scared. There’s nothing but darkness there. A big, black hole of missing code, yet to be written.

Sometimes I am a developer of this conundrum of minds, senses, thoughts, ideas. Sometimes, I am an observer, one of them, helplessly watching from the sidelines as someone tampers, hacks into the deepest core of me, damaging, changing me forever. Sometimes I feel like binary numbers which have stopped making logical sense. Sometimes I feel like god, comfortable and enjoying the organic growth, celebrating the way the beta is shaping up. The way me is becoming, constantly changing, adjusting, tweaking to the demands of users, observers, critics, editors, friends, writers, developers, and opinionators.

I am an immortal beta who will never really become.