Looking for something, are we?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I am a product of the females around me....

Through my life unto this point in time, I have been extremely fortunate , for I have had some of the most loving, strong and graceful women around me.
Every human being goes through adverse circumstances during their time on this pale blue dot and faces them as they see fit. In my time of need, I have drawn immense strength and wise counsel from their experience. For that and so much love and care over the years, I cannot thank them enough and will continue to live in a way which honors them.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Emirates Airlines Faceplam!

Me and my wife were travelling back from JFK via DXB to BOM, India. We checked in the 2 regular bags per person ( 4 bags, 23 kgs each). But while we were about to board the plane, we were asked to check in our carry on suitcases ( suitcases that are considered carry on in domestic US flights and other international carriers) since they did not fit the size regulations, as we were told.
1. Why was this not told to us at the boarding counter at the Gate? The entrance of a plane is hardly an ideal place to be told that the bag has to be checked in. The gate counter is a much better place to announce and enforce such regulations.
2. Why was every passenger not checked for this? The rule has to be the same for everyone. Some people had the same size luggage in the plane, for which we were stopped.
3. Why were the tags handwritten? Details were filled in by hand and that led to misplacement . Computer generated tags would have solved the problems
4 There is no indication of customer service or lost and found baggage at airport and no representatives from Emirates at the carousel to check for issues.
Because of the missing bags, we have had to spend additional time and/or money to recover or replace items that we would have needed urgently after landing.
One of the bags has since been recovered and returned to us. But even that was not a pleasant experience as the person who returned the bag to us was quite rude and kept accusing us of giving him the wrong address and misleading him - which makes no sense as that would just be us shooting ourselves in the foot.
So, we are missing one bag and still have no idea where it is located and hence no ETA on when we would get it back.
The tracking system at Emirates airlines still shows both bags as being traced - it just makes a mockery of itself and us customers.
Please do not check in your bags after going through boarding. In case there is no alternative, please ask for a computer generated luggage tag and verify all details. Because in the end the real loser is the customer , in all of this.


Addendum - 5/29/2015

This comes a tad late and I do apologise for this.

Emirates did compensate us for the lost items. We had to send them the receipts (if any ) of the articles in the missing bag and it took them about 2 months to finally tally up the loss and remit the amount back to us. Thanks to them for helping us out. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Way of All Flesh......

One single drop of mercury - in all of its dulled metallic sheen bobbing and weaving around in a glass of water. Immiscible. No matter how much vibration, shaking, heating. And so, un-anchored, the droplet floats around. Wandering. Wondering.

Whence you introduce another droplet of mercury, they will find each other. They will still wander around. But anchored in each other.

In my mind, that is why everyone needs to be tethered. To something. Religion, football, literature etc. One or more of these. It provides for a faux base, a foundation on which a social circle is defined - actions, behaviour, interactions. And this is the passport, apparently, to go on and do other things - explore, capture, own. The cycle repeats.

I wonder however - if two humans can be tethered in each other? Like the mercury droplets - free floating in a glass of water, but as one entangled system. Their nature is all the definition they need to exist and help provide the catapult for the other, to go forth and develop. Of course, the assumption here is, they are still surrounded by water. Is it too much of a stretch to use this analogy for humans? Maybe the paradigm of human life, that is defined by the will to propagate and prosper, has very little tolerance for such entropy. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Amogh Symphony - Vectorscan (2014)

When, Vishal J Singh announced on his Facebook page that Amogh Symphony ( now definitively defined as a band with 3 musicians - Vishal, Jim Richman on drums and percussion and Andrey Sazonov on guitar and other instruments), I couldn't help but be excited. Because, The Quantum Hack Code (2010) was one of my most favorite releases of all time. I put it in the same pantheon as the other prog albums that I love dearly - Lateralus (Tool), Scenes From A Memory ( Dream Theater), Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet ( Porcupine Tree), Obzen (Meshuggah), Blackwater Park (Opeth). TQHC was that good. And it got me through some tough times. For that I cannot love it enough.

So, when Vectorscan was announced and released, I wet and soiled my knickers in anticipation. And it arrived in mail yesterday. As happy as a kid in a candy store, I ripped the envelope open, ignored the shoddy packaging, extracted the CD and popped it into my laptop. Hit play.

I finished the first listen in confusion. I did not get it. That obviously has to be a mistake - maybe it was all the adrenaline of getting the new album that did not subside for the 53 minute duration of the album. And hence a second listen, which confirmed my first impressions. The album sounds like a hot discordant mess of random sound samples lying around on some one's computer. Through the entirety of the LP, I could not figure out if there was any cohesion. The musicians are insanely talented - of that, there is no doubt. Track 9 - dubiously and obnoxiously titled "Tongue of Fire, Burning Wings, Torment Dormant, Breaking Black Rings" - displays their chops. But not much else.

That was the other thing that just rubbed me the wrong way - the titles on most of these songs sound like temporary session titles - Track 5 - We Are Here, They are there. Sector of Nectar, Feeding Vector is a classic case in point. But the track itself is such a strange and convoluted mirage of sounds, it is easy to forgive the title. And the same goes for most songs - can I even call them songs? One of the hallmarks of TQHC and Abolishing the Obsolete System before that, was that Vishal had managed to use the tools at his disposal to create interesting and envelope pushing instrumental songs - a trait that is all but lost in this album. There are no songs. As I mentioned before, it sounds like a perfect mathematical sum of sound bytes lying on someone's hard drive, concatenated end to end to create something. Something that I am finding impossible to like.

Is this what they call avant garde music? If it is, I can definitively say that this is not for me. I still prefer cohesion to be one of the trademarks of a track. I can definitely understand the urge of an artist to create what he/she/they think is a perfect embodiment of their skill and emotion. But as a listener, I cannot forgive this album - the eccentricities have trampled mercilessly and rapidly, all over the hallmarks that made the prior Amogh Symphony albums great.

My favorite track on the record - or the saving grace, I want to say is Track 2 : Junaki, Osinaki.Dhumuha, Saki. It does flow seamlessly, even with the idiosyncrasies thrown in, it does not put me off. Also the production on the album is top notch. Can't fault that.

I wished it was my absolute lack of musical knowledge - technical and aesthetic - that makes me not like this album. I wished it was the diabolical weather from yesterday, that ruined my mood. I wish that I was not sitting in my living room, on a perfect Sunday afternoon, slightly angry and irritated and on the verge of tears because one of my favorite bands of all time had let me down big time. I wish I could recommend this album as highly as the one's that came before. I wish, in vain.

Monday, August 25, 2014

8/24/2014 10:41pm

I have downed about 2 1/2 glasses of Chardonnay ( Clavo, Chile 2012) and feel a bit tipsy. Watching Silicon Valley (American Experience, PBS) on the repeated recommendation of N, a boyish/almost ragamuffin style spit and polish little human, who I respect for her clarity of thought and strength of character.

The feeling of connection to complete strangers - who are pioneers in the field that I work in currently is all consuming. Much like the feeling that I might collapse into a pleasant dream at any moment.

The first time I ever saw the documentary "E=mc^2", I felt as though I am part of a long line of engineers/scientists/physicists - descendants of Michael Faraday - a poor blacksmith driven by bettering his condition and insatiable curiosity for knowledge.

Seguing very bluntly, I would also like to point out how in a moment or period of inebriation, is there a clarity of thought - a single line of consciousness that is not caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday survival. No wonder, I thought, many artists chose to lose their minds.

Here is to the perfect balance - a lot of experiences to ponder on, a variety of thought from people you love and respect, your own principles, spur of the moment impetus and a little help from the liquor industry - Prost!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

To know where we come from

Evolution, which is proven fact, will eventually eliminate people and thought patterns like these. Beneath of the facade of trying to spread "god's" love and way to salvation, all these people end up spreading is lies, hatred and blockading progress.

Sometimes though, I wished evolution would be a bit quicker with this foregone conclusion. I have to concede, that I do derive some pleasure from the irony of the possibility that this science bashing train of thought, will be eliminated by evolution.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Something to believe in

"Follow me down to the valley below You know
Moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul"
"My David don't you worry
This cold world is not for you
So rest your head upon me
I have strength to carry you"
Steven Wilson, using religious context to deliver a much deeper message.
As strong and stable as we aspire to be, we all will face those moments where all you want to do is give up and lie down. In that moment, the face that props your hopes up and a mind that can share its wisdom and calmness are eventually what do get you through. And to know someone who will always do that for you, is greatly calming. I do thankfully know such a person. And I hope I can do the same for some one.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Power of Ideas

Time and again, this reminds me of where I come from and what I have left behind. Nostalgia in all the right departments. India, the magical land it is. Of course, we have our problems. But that does not take away from the fact that we are history's best surviving link to modernity. Mother, I bow to thee!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Outsider within....

Cynic - a name in heavy metal that represents a master class in extreme tech prog metal. They were way ahead of their time when they released Focus - which you should immediately listen to, unless you hate music. Founding members of this band, Sean Reinert - drummer extraordinaire and Paul Masvidal - guitar virtuoso madman. They influenced everybody who came after them and sought the title of prog metal musicians.

News broke a couple of days ago, that both Sean and Paul are gay and they have publicly come out as such and that their close one's had known for a long long time. And surely enough, long time fans welcomed this news and embraced it. Of course, what Masvidal and Reinert do on their own time is their business. From what I have read and seen, they are both classy people and of course, brilliant musicians.

The reason they came out so late (their first album, Focus, was released on 1993) was because they feared that they would not be accepted in the metal circles and would lose their fan following. And some of that might ring true, since they were touring with bands like the legendary Cannibal Corpse. Ultra macho, uber masculine death metal. And this made me think.

For starters,  The Metal God, is gay. And us in the  metal music community flocked to this music because we felt like outsiders. We could not really fit in, or we could not get into any other music. We fell to the charms of darkness and the Devil and the other worldly. We expected that our near and dear ones would try to understand us through this medium and see our love for this music as a positive. And us metalheads, who would like to think of ourselves as open minded and liberal, turn out to be such bigots that the stars of our world are afraid of being who they are in front of us? Does that not smack of hypocrisy? 

It makes me sad, that us, the outsiders, the freaks - are just as bigoted as the "commoners" - those normal people. The music counts. That is it. I think, in this sense, pop music has done more to promote social justice and equality than metal. I hope we are better than that. I hope we prove that we are better than that. 

To Sean Reinert and Paul Masvidal - we love your music and love you too. You've made us proud. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you live soon. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Duur Kinara...

Listening to this song and watching this episode, brings back memories. A crisp summer evening in Minneapolis. Sitting around with the best of friends, watching episodes of "The Dewarists" and being inspired by songs as these. Which would then be rounded off by watching the sun sink into the  Mississippi from the Stone Arch Bridge. 

That bond and love has still remained and is as strong as ever. It has been tested and tried. And it lived well. Going from a great social and urban atmosphere to a self imposed, but not a choice based isolation was a tumbling around of my world that I never saw coming. From multiple points of reference and perspective, I am down to one. Putting my thoughts into the ether and watch them bounce off the walls, get tangled and be injected back into me. 

It was uncomfortable hearing my own thought patterns so vividly and honestly, since there was always a veil, of which they would be deflected off. That veil had been removed in seclusion. To understand the grain of my own being and recognise that this was the person everyone else was seeing, was oddly unsettling at first. But it made more and more sense, as time passed by.

I used to be of the opinion that you do not need physical seclusion to really reach that single point of conscious thought. The strength in that argument has waned quite a bit after observing myself through a similar process. Yes, physical seclusion is not mandatory, but it does remove a lot of distractions, puts you in spots where you live with your thoughts, actions resulting from them and the thoughts emanating from those. Although cannibalistic, it allows for a single train of thought that you can trace back. 

And rote repetition of this process, with and against your wish and will, has brought me to meet myself and brought peace to an otherwise agitated mind. 

So now, a year and a half later, I sit in this room in the middle of nowhere, ready for the next change, the next phase of my life - companionship. Having found my soul mate years ago, its time that a room had the two us. Our thoughts bouncing around, resulting into actions affecting us both. And a new conscious being emerges. In all its serenity, it couldn't be more exciting. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Genesis of an Idea

A snow flake touched her skin
and her body quivered a little.

Formed in the nimbus high above,
amalgamation of earth, water, wind and fire.
And when the time comes nigh,
Clouds smother the sky
The time is ripe. 

Blow your trumpets, Gabriel,
its the birth of a flake.
Bound towards the earth
In a hurry, partly a flurry.

Blown this way and that.
Unaware of time and its part.
By itself it is incomplete and innocuous.
The landing place provides the right contrast and hue.

She stood on open plain,
Desolated grey.
In quotidian ritual.
The snow flake landed on her skin
And her body shivered.
For even in the cloudy sky,
the sun shone brighter than ever.

As apparent as air,
blood came surging to the brain,
And a smile to the face.
She breaks into a canter
with arms wide open,
to fly, fly away.

A bit of hatred.....

If I might not have adequately put it before, I bloody well hate religion. With the news of violence coming in everyday, from almost every nook and cranny of the world, religion is helping humanity plunge into the darkest recesses of doom and dismay.

For some time now, I have been at casual ( and the occasional heated argumentative) loggerheads with people over religion and standing the ground, waving the flag for total eradication of this horrible remainder of civilizations old. And in the heat of the argument, the hatred would spill over for the person. Who can possibly believe in this horlicks called religion, if they had half a brain? Why would one be such a moron, on purpose, day in and day out? Aargh, the idiots!

One such argument was with my own parents, as you have. And at the end, momentarily though, i had a twinge of bad feelings for my mom. Which is preposterous of course and I was only very happy to realise that. Which is when, it caught me. As someone has said, "Don't hate the player, hate the game". Religion has survived by making sure that humans believe it is the only true form of salvation. And humans, trying to find a crutch in their darkest hours, are only happy to oblige. Do this for enough generations, and voila!

And so, everytime, I get into an argument about this heinous anathema called religion, and it starts to get a bit heated, i just remember the loving face of my mom. A religious housewife. Who wants nothing but the best for her family. Inspite of the religion. How can I hate her ever!