Monday, August 28, 2006

An attempt at poetry, again.

Battered and bruised, O fallen knight
Gaping wounds and pain, thy life they tore
Embrace thou, the divine light
For thou can't fight no more

A tear, loved, shall drop
A pyre shall burn
The funeral, soon adjourn
The river hungry, shall carry thy forgotten urn
The war shall just go on

Evermore shall follow
The glory of gore set free
A day shall come, of judgement hollow
What will it matter to thee?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Life & Death

The biggest problem with life is, it has to be lived. Through joy, through sorrow, through the tough, through the mild, it has to be lived.

Every moment lived is a never ending battle for the continuation of existence in the next moment. And it has to be lived as if it is all for eternity. As if everything that is here, will continue to be here forever and beyond.

The palpable irony of it is, that we will ourselves to walk on, to keep fighting, knowing fully well that our minds can never be fooled by this illusion of eternity, that deep down inside, the knowledge of the futility of it exists in all of us.

And yet, superficial as the illusion is, it is our heart that so willingly embraces it. Its every beat is a cry of defiance, a sad battle waged, to prolong the illusion, to push back that which must arrive. Sooner or later.

Every moment passed by is a moment lost in time. Never will it come back again. Why then do we spend most of these moments in apparent disregard for its preciousness, for its uniqueness?

Because, disregard it is not. For, every human being on this planet, somewhere in the deepest recesses of his/her heart, yearns for that one moment of glory. One moment under the sun when the world, and sometimes the sun itself, touch the tips of their imaginary caps to acknowledge the value and beauty of the moment.

We all strive for it. Some strive harder than the others. Some strive with a passionate insanity that awes and eventually, overawes us. But the point is, we all strive.

And when that moment does arrive, all the effort, all the pain, all the moments of failure and apparent disuse, come together and erupt in a celebration of their importance to us. In that one moment, we become ‘forever’, we become immortal in death. We bask in that glory till the end arrives. And arrive, it must.

But the moment continues to live long after we have stopped.

The tragedy of death is not that we cease to exist for the world. It is that the world ceases to exist for us. That all that we loved and hated, all that we created and destroyed, all that we ever did, is taken away from us. And left in its wake, is the vast, unconquered kingdom of ‘nothingness’.

I’ve often wondered how death will feel like. Will I feel my funeral pyre when it consumes me? Will it be any different from the unconsciousness of sleep? Will I ever dream in death? Science will deny the possibility; the mind dreams and with death, the mind dies. But then, there lies the line that separates a science built on logic from a logic that is built by the unburdened optimism of the human heart.

The heart never lets go; we never let go. Till the very end. That perhaps, is the essence of life.

But we always lose. That perhaps, is nature’s ultimate manifestation of supremacy over humankind.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Electronic Commerce: Framework, Technologies and Applications – A book review

If anyone’s looking quizzically at this and trying to map the extent of insanity that my mind has reached to be reviewing a book such as this, I must tell them that their most dire estimations will fall woefully short of the truth. Although other parts of my brain continue to function as they’ve always done, the IT part of it has taken a turn for the positively maniacal off late. Thanks to the very book that is now set to be reviewed.

Electronic Commerce: Framework, Technologies and Applications is the definitive book on how to ‘globe’ on a subject which you’ve got some idea about and which you know most other people besides you, have absolutely no idea about.

Written in a rambling fashion that has nothing but utter disregard for punctuations or paragraphs, this book gives you every reason why you shouldn’t read it. Every chapter, be it five pages or fifty, is one single mammoth paragraph; the words inside are so crowded and their proximity to each other so proximal, that you start losing track of which line you were on, almost as frequently as a new Ram Gopal Verma movie release. I don’t know whether the knowledgeable author of this book harboured any illusions of writing an immortal classic, for those are the only books which bear similar printing performances and still manage to get away with it.

You never really understand why the book was written in the first place. The absence of proper audience analysis is painfully evident. If it was meant for technically bent minds, it is too superfluous and simple to excite them. And if it was meant for the not-so-technically bent ones that need to get acquainted with the basics of ecommerce, it is too elaborate and jargon-heavy. The jargons of course, are left completely to themselves and their explanation to the layman has not been considered of any importance whatsoever.

Then again, most of the content in this book interests and amuses you for all the wrong reasons. Some of the content is downright howl-arious. Sample these:

1. There’s this magnificent first chapter which introduces (?) the reader to ecommerce. It is a 43 page chapter and when you finally grumble and groan your way to its end, you find that it took the author 42 references to compile it.

2. Some of the references used are striking in their absurdity. Take for example – For the blissfully uninitiated, this website is India’s answer to Google. I briefly contemplated the ramifications of some of us putting Google as a reference in one of our project reports; the contemplations were hardly encouraging.

3. This one must take the cake for the funniest line ever written anywhere. In its attempt to enlighten the reader to the advantages of wireless transmission, it tells you in absolutely clear cut terms

‘The advantage of wireless networks is that it doesn’t require wires’

Speechless, I was.

There are other glaring errors to be found aplenty for the more technically discerning. Radio waves being omni-directional, for example. Now I always thought it was the transmitter and the antenna that decided the directional attributes of a signal wave. Perhaps, I was wrong.

Not stretching it too far, let me just put it this way:

For everyone who wishes to have an inadvertently funny book to add to his/her collection, this is a definite recommendation.
For everyone who wishes to learn anything remotely relevant, reliable and usable about ecommerce – Please! Don’t even think about it!

In the end, this book tells you almost everything that you need to write a good, solid subject oriented book. By doing exactly the opposite.

Note: The identities of the author and the publication have not been disclosed on purpose. Humour is the sole intention of this post.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Nightmare

I see myself walk into a room. Bleary eyed, hair disheveled, what I’ve worn (I have refrained from using ‘Shirts’ and ‘Trousers’ for fear of being sued by those communities) looks as if its never known the existence of trivialities such as detergents and irons, my face (that otherwise handsome, charismatic face!) bears a striking resemblance to a particularly haggard bulldog.

The line of perception, for some strange reason, rotates a whirlwind 180 degrees and I see what I in the dream can see. The suffocating trauma of looking at as pitiful a creature as myself in the just described predicament, immediately vanishes, and is replaced by a queer mixture of barely controlled desperation and an even more pitiful sense of sympathy for the ‘me that is in the dream’.

The feeling is almost exactly replicated by those that I see. There in front of ‘me in the dream’, sit those seven magnificent specimens of men and women who, off late, have been so generous and unwavering in the creation of pain in my arse. My profs for this term.

I’ll not name any names here; I accept my duty of preserving the identities of such splendid people from the bottom of my heart.
I always find it amusing when people wish something from the bottom of their hearts. Isn’t bottom the place where all the filth accumulates?

Nevertheless, I’ll take the literary liberty of identifying this illustrious bunch of gentlemen and women by their initials and their tormenting specializations, so that the ensuing narrative becomes infinitesimally easier to present and childishly simple to comprehend (Phew!!! We writers have a tough job!!!). So here goes:

SCB – Management Accounting
HM – Economics
SS- Behaviour in Organisations
AB-Quantitative Analysis
DS-Legal Aspects of Management
BB-Information Technology in Management
NP-Communications in Management

They slowly draw closer to me, which I take, in the profound sleep-ridden clarity of my mind, as an indication of my dream-twin (we’ll call this fella, Bampi from now on) moving towards them. Presently, they rise a few notches on the screen. No symbolism involved here; apparently, my twin has found his way into a chair.

Oh shit!!! My mind suddenly fathoms the gravity of the situation. These guys are going to interview me! Why they should suddenly take time out to do so, is of course beyond the purview of the simplistic world view that I have been endowed with.

NP (With that perpetually encouraging and sympathetic smile on her face)- Good Morning!

Methinks- Oh! Its morning!

Bampi-Good Morning Ma’am!

NP-Let’s see if you’ve been practicing all that I’ve been telling you. Analyze your audience here.
Bampi: Uh-Oh! Umm….

SCB (With a voice and accent and overall demeanour that can be best described as, indescribable) -Why are you mumbling? What is the issue?

Bampi: I, err… I was just…

SCB- No. You’ve not read the case! You should be thrown out right now.

Methinks- Oh, please, please do it! I couldn’t be more grateful!

Bampi: No Sir, I… (And then better judgement prevails and he shuts up)

SS (With that fabulous Bih-inglish (Bihari English) accent)- Whai are you naat speaking? No caanfidench at aal! You are abviously naat a type A personality!

NP- No! No! He speaks well. I’ve seen him presenting…

SS- Oh that must just be a put aun! I am sure he ij in deep emotional labour when he prejents!

BB (With the forced US accent and a touch of hopeful contribution to his voice) - Perhaps, he doesn’t have the token and therefore can’t transmit right now, yes? (Looks around him at the blank faces and shuts up)

AB (Flashes a mischievous smile at Bampi) – No comments!

SCB- Why are we wasting time? We have a marathon session today. Let us be fast.

HM (With the customary meekness in voice and flexibility of the neck) – I mean! I mean, you see, we have to make it clear to him. He needs to answer. He needs to answer. He needs to answer. Right now his production possibility curve is practically zero.

AB- That is called limit tends to zero.

NP – Yes, of course he needs to answer.

AB – Then let the poor fellow answer

At this everyone starts looking at Bampi as if he’s about to drop either a priceless pearl of wisdom or a pellet of dried cow dung out of his mouth.

Bampi: Err…but what was the question?

HM tries to say something but SCB beats him to it.

HM- I mean...

SCB- See! He doesn’t know the issue! He has not read the case!

SS – He never doej. I haave alwayj faund him completely blank and frequently dojing aoff in class.

AB – Now that is not completely correct. His performance in my class is as follows
· He never sleeps
· He keeps looking here and there
· He never answers and has this enlightened smile on his face as if he knows everything
· And thankfully, he never missed class for a BIO quiz!

SS – Whaat are you trying to say here? BIO ij naat impaartent? You can never succeed withaout it. EQ ij more impaartent than IQ!

Methinks – I expected you to say that. After all, EQ is all you have.

DS (Fidgeting in his chair all this while, itching to say something but failing to form a coherent sentence…and finally!) – I do not know. It is written nowhere in the laaw.

Methinks- Did anybody actually ever write anything worthwhile in the law?

SCB- Please…please don’t waste time with all this. This…this is not the platform for this discussion.

NP- Alright. Let the boy speak. I am sure if we allow him to, he’ll come up with a ‘Yes’ presentation.

Bampi - ……..

BB- He’s just hopeless. Don’t think he’ll be able to state even A to Zee properly. His IP settings are all messed up. Too many collisions. Perhaps his brain uses ALOHA.

DS – IP? Does he even have any Intellectual Property? I do not know.

SCB – It was such a beautiful case and you didn’t read it! You are not fit to be in this place. Which idiot allowed you admission here anyway?

Methinks – One of you. Who else?

AB- If we take X to be the random variable for the number of times he’ll speak correctly, the probability will be zero.

Bampi – But…

SS – Naaw he want to put tha blame on as. It ij tha self-sarving bias.

NP – You had developed so much ethos, Kushal. You’ve let me down now.

SCB- He’s just trying to make stories here. He should be thrown out.

Suddenly, I hear a scuffle, find the bunch falling a few notches and then whoosh!!!…I am out of myself and can see myself in the dream again. And I see myself running for the door…

Somewhere in the background I hear this…

Last thing I remember

I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
Relax said the nightman, we are programed to recieve
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave
(From Hotel California – Eagles)