Je ponder…

To have something you do not want, and

to want something you can never have

The former is frustrating, while

the latter, devastating. 

-UK

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Words are Wind…

 

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Note: This post contains no spoilers.

So the massively-awaited Season 6 of Game of Thrones is now moving ahead of the books. I suppose I knew this would happen eventually. And HBO can’t just wait around for the books to hit the shelves, can they?

Winds of Winter should ideally have been out before the show aired (and yes, I’ve read GRRM’s blog post and kinda empathize with his situation). But the truth of the matter is simply this. I’ve never ever seen a film/TV show without reading the book first. Wut? Yea, that’s me. A book is always a bigger attachment/commitment and I’d want absolutely nothing to spoil it for me. If it were up to me, I’d banish book blurbs altogether!!

Now I don’t know how much of the books the TV show is gonna spoil. But I don’t have a choice, do I? I can’t just wait around for the books pretending the TV show doesn’t exist. The interwebz these days are so chock-full of spoilers at every damn bend that it’d be an effort in futility to even consider that option. And for better or for worse, I know that the TV show and the books have diverged to a point that a lot of stories are just never gonna be the same in both. Yes, the crucial arcs – Jon Snow, Daenerys and Bran (!) might possibly have some semblance in both forms but pretty much everything else is up in the air.

But let’s pause for a moment and try to assess what GRRM is trying to achieve here. I think it wouldn’t be too wrong to assume he has in quite some ways written himself into a corner.  Probably not in terms of how he envisions to end it. But the journey there. As a fantasy writer, it’s quite admirable that he set out to break as many conventions and clichés as was humanly possible. Like, killing off main characters  in much the same way you would swat house-flies? It was mind-boggling at first. But now I’m almost unflinched. “That’s one more person down,” I simply say to myself. With this in mind, and also considering the fact that there are so fewer important people actually left right now, using death as a surprise/twist has more or less reached its saturation point. And they won’t be able to do that without inciting a bunch of fans anyway.

And then you have people who are dead in the TV show but not in the books and vice-versa. Keeping track of all this is gonna be one pain in the ass but of course there are always mad fans (I’m crazy, not mad) who’d do that job for you. The reason I refused to watch the TV show for a very long time had indeed been for the simple fact that once I realized the show was doing things differently from the written material, I just couldn’t wrap my head around two different realities of the same story.

GRRM may well be one of the best contemporary epic-fantasy writers we have today and he started something that knocked the world’s socks off. And maybe he takes five years to write a book, granted these are not your everyday fiction. I just…just wish he’d finish it with as much aplomb as he started them. The last thing I want to happen is to lose interest in this series. Because if I’m being honest, we’ve been on a dwindle ever since the third book.

So it’s time to pick up the reins again and show us what you got, George. Also, please don’t die.

A month of Hyderabad…#weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee this weekend, I’d probably tell you all about how much I’ve been missing Chennai lately. For people who don’t know, I had been posted in Chennai for my job from January 2013 to the end of March 2016. So, that’s a solid three years I’ve spent in a city all by myself away from the usual shackles (hear hear!) of domestic family life. But I’m back, and not with a bang!

Make no mistake, Hyderabad is an interesting city and I know it like the back of my hand. And of course, there’s the usual comfort of being in a place that you call home. But maybe, just maybe, comfort is NOT really what I need right now? Maybe being in Chennai has turned me adventurous for the better? I miss the weekend escapades to the beaches, or having the option to go on a trip at the flick of a finger. Now every decision I have to make will be debated at multiple levels by my family members. Freedom of choice has spoiled me for good. So should I be the “good” boy or should I be myself? I don’t have an answer to that question, probably never will.

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No more beaches, just lakes 😦 😦

If we were having coffee (which btw is only gonna be cold coffee), I mean is this the worst summer or what? Global-warming should be renamed Global-scorching. With mid-day temperatures peaking at 44 degrees Celsius, it’s become almost impossible to do anything outdoorsy in the day. And the nights are not much better. Yes, we did see a couple of summer showers (and I mean exactly a couple) and it was good while it lasted. But it was just that, a tease.

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Before the drizzle…

But is there a bright spot in all this? Well, I can say that it’s good to be back to my kitchen for one. I’m trying my hand at all the stuff that I wanted to do once I’m back here. Like Italian cuisine. And how simple it is to whip up a delicious plate of pasta if you bring the right stuff together!! Baking is another thing that gets me going, and I love that I can finally get to make my own cakes and breads again!

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Spaghetti Pomodoro ❤

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you life can feel like a hot mess at times. But it’s your resilience at dealing with that mess is what makes you a better person.

 

How do you say goodbye to a city?

I’ve honestly re-written this post more times than I could remember. Even though I’ve known that I’d be leaving Chennai pretty soon for about a month and a half now, it really hasn’t struck me until now how badly I am going to miss this place. I thought I was gonna be fine, I mean this isn’t the first time I’ve had to say goodbye to a city but again, I haven’t lived there as long as I did here. But is that all? Is time what makes the difference?

If I open the imaginary photobook that I keep in my head and look at some of the photographs from the past three years, they comprise of some of the best memories of my whole life. And why shouldn’t they be? Chennai was the first city were I’ve witnessed freedom for the first time. It was the city where I’ve discovered myself. It was where I started to get comfortable under my own skin. Where I finally let go of everything that bound me and started to live life that way I liked it. For this alone, Chennai will always have a special place in my memory.

It’s midnight as I’m writing this post, and I’m on the terrace with my laptop enjoying the almost full moon and the cool night’s breeze but I also know that once I go back to my room, I’m gonna have to battle with humidity and mosquitoes. This dichotomy of Chennai is what I find the most alluring.  The city can be a hassle; in fact I’ll say that for someone who’s not acclimated to this part of the country, it can actually be pretty brutal. No two ways about that. But I chose to not focus on all that was not working for me. Instead, I swiveled my chair to face the good the city had to offer. Like, you know, the sea coast! I actually did not realize how big of a beachbum I was until I started to live in Chennai. The sea, for me, was always the respite I needed. The sea coast is ever changing but it is also the one constant that makes Chennai what it is. And it is probably one of the things that I’m gonna miss the most when I leave this city. Just having that option to visit the beach whenever I fancy. I feel like there’s this umbilical cord between me and the sea that’s being chopped off.

But let me talk about the other stuff too. Chennai has hands down the best art and culture scene if you know what and where to look for. I was lucky enough to attend a handful of musical concerts and the love the people here show for their music is truly delightful. I’ve always said that Chennai has its one foot firmly in its past, which is yet another dichotomy that I find interesting. While every other city in the country is trying to reinvent itself by becoming more westernized, Chennai embraces the modern world while still never fully letting go of its essence. I simply love this aspect of the city.

But of course, a city is only as good as the people you’re gonna remember it by. And I have to say that I’ve met some of the most incredible people ever in Chennai, whose friendship is something that I’m gonna cherish forever. I’ve seen my fair share of douches too, but hey, that’s supposed to happen, statistically speaking at least.

I realize that goodbyes can be pretty hard, but not if I think that this is not a goodbye after all. I mean, I’m not dying for crying out loud. And I know I’ll come back to Chennai, as a guest albeit. Still, I’m one to get carried away by my obnoxious sense of nostalgia. For about a week now, no matter what I do I cannot help but say to myself: this is the last time I’m gonna visit this place, this is the last time I’m gonna walk through that door, this is the last time I’m gonna take this bus, this is the last time I’m gonna see this person, this is the last time I’m gonna hang my clothes dry on this terrace. You name it, I probably thought of it. Even right now, the fact that this probably is the last blog post I’ll be writing from Chennai is a tad upsetting to be honest.

Which actually brings me to this blog itself. Udayology started as an extension to my mind, and a lot of things came together for me to finally take that plunge into blogging. And Chennai has always been a big part of it. The first post was published on March 24, 2015 so yes, I’m freshly out of a blogiversary! I hope I covered Chennai to my best ability and that I was at least partly successful in my attempt to showcase the city in a better light. Photo 101 is still on, so I think my photographic ode to Chennai will continue for a week more before I switch to photographs from Hyderabad, unless I decide to do a throwback! I mean, it’s only natural. 🙂

It’s curious how just as with people, once you’ve seen a city at its worst you tend to develop a newfound connection to it. And as someone who’s seen the resilience of the city during the horrific floods, I have a newfound appreciation for the people of Chennai as well. And I think no matter where my journey takes me in future, I’ll always carry a little Chennai spirit along with me.

Ciao for now, you Singara Chennai.

 

 

The Two of Us

Everybody has two versions of themselves in their heads- 1) the person they are 2)  the person they wish they were.

I may be wrong, and probably there indeed are people out there who are perfectly happy with what they are and wouldn’t want to change a thing about themselves. But I’m gonna take a wild guess and assume that most people don’t have that contentment – we always keep wishing we were better. Better than the version that we are today.

If you notice my above statement, you’d see that I’m not talking about what ‘you have’, but rather, simply, just what ‘you are’. What you don’t have today could be achieved with determination and effort, if it’s practical and you know how to get it. But what you want to be, that’s a slightly different ballgame. Let’s put ‘rich’ and ‘famous’ out of this as they’re not really concrete destinations and need a specific aspiration to hold ground.

Much of our life is spent in trying to bridge the gap between these two people. We fantasize about this other person, we know what they have that we don’t. We keep saying to ourselves that one day, we’re gonna finally be him. But working towards it always ends up to be harder than it seems. In a strange twist, our conscience seems reluctant and lazy to let go of the status quo. How many times have you resolved to start that one activity – and gave up miserably as you just couldn’t fit it into your life? Like, take me for example, I want to work out more, want to have a better sleep schedule, want to be a much better friend to people around me, a better son to my parents – and in my mind all of this seems achievable. But how successful have I been in my attempt? That’s totally debatable.

And I also know that it’s very easy to lead our entire lives like this. Maintaining a considerable gap between what we are and what we aspire to be. But I realized that I don’t wanna be on my death bed and have regrets about what could have been! So I really have to figure out how I’m gonna cut all the crap outta my life and actually work towards being who I really wanna be.

Because in the end, we have to try don’t we? That’s what keeps our life chugging along. A hope for a better tomorrow but more importantly, a better us.

Image Courtesy: Shadow

Getting back to my gaming groove.

Let me bring you up to speed. Back home in Hyderabad, I have a fairly decent desktop computer with an NVidia graphic card that can play most games in Mid-to-High settings. But once I finished college and got a job, I had to move – first to Pune, then to Chennai. And all I had with me was a crappy Dell Inspiron that my dad passed onto me (he got a new Sony Vaio!). I had to kiss good-bye to any sort of gaming on my laptop as all it had was Intel integrated graphics. ‘Nuff said!

So for three years, I went almost game-less and all that tension was getting pent up inside of me with no sort of release…erm. So, last year, when my Inspiron was finally coughing up its last breath I realized the time had indeed arrived for me to purchase a new laptop! It was an exciting thought! I knew I needed a gaming laptop, I knew it was gonna cost me a fortune but I was ready for it – I had the dough saved up, all I needed was careful research to zero in on the perfect laptop.

And then I did. ASUS ROG GL552!

For one, it looked awesome with its Republic of Gamers insignia and that red backlight! None of the retail stores had it in stock so I placed an order on Amazon, right when there was a big slash in the price. They did a bang up job on the delivery too, delivering two days ahead of schedule. When I got the package home in the evening, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I ripped away the layers in ecstasy, mutilating the cardboard in the process. And there it was, finally, my preciousssss!

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Well it came in a cool box.

 

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That logo lights up when the laptop is on! 😀

 

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Umm, and then things got crazy 😛

 

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And beautiful ❤

 

Sporting an Intel i7 CPU, 8 gigs of RAM (which I’m gonna upgrade), an NVidia 950M, and not to forget an SSD expansion slot – this one’s a true badass. Decimating anything I throw in its path.

I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed: Rogue lately, at maxed out settings  – and I’m just mind blown by how gorgeous everything looks.  Ubisoft seemed to have learned a thing or two from the fiasco that was Unity. The game is running super buttery smooth as well. You can’t see my face, but I have a perpetual smile plastered on it these days

And mind you, when I’m not clicking sunrises in real life, I’m clicking them in video games. 😉

Brace yourself for some video game reviews as well from now on!


P.S. If you’re on Steam, add me! ID: hurdygurdy11

 

 

 

Is there really a selfless good deed?

Somebody I know likes to donate food and money to homeless people quite frequently and when I ask why, his reply is “To get God’s blessings.”

Which got me thinking.

There is a lot of benevolence around, but just how much of it is selfless? Politicians (or even some celebs for the matter) when they do any charitable work make it a point to call the media and get it telecast or written about in the newspapers to make people see just how “good” they are. These are the good deeds done with an ulterior motive in mind and yes, while the help is not going to waste, isn’t it all just a farce?

The other kind of a good deed is the one done to achieve personal gratification! And I’m not an exception to this. When I look back now, all the good I’ve done is somehow interlinked with what I expected it to make me feel. As I’m writing this, I just remembered that there was an episode of FRIENDS dealing with the same topic!

The third kind of a good deed is done to accumulate good karma! It happens, right? You probably were callous or mean or not at your best in some dealings, so you do a good deed to balance it out! Yay for the karma theory!

And the final kind is of course the popular quid pro quo. You perform a good deed because you expect something in return.  

With all this going around, I realized that true altruism is actually very rare and only very few people have such a selfless heart. I’m yet to exhibit such instincts anyway.

What is your take on this? D’you think I’m wrong or you have a different opinion? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

So Hermione Granger could have been black…No Big Deal!

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Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), Noma Dumezwani (Hermione Granger), Paul Thornly (Ron Weasley)

 

JK Rowling is apparently thrilled that Noma Dumezwani (an award-winning theatre actress) is cast as Hermione Granger in the stage play ‘Cursed Child’, which is also – for all intents and purposes – the eighth installment to the Harry Potter series!

Did the internet go a little wild after announcement? You bet it did. But again, we’re way past the racism crap now. Right now it’s more of a consistency issue. For somebody who has grown up seeing a Caucasian Hermione Granger (and the amazing Emma Watson), it did strike me a teeny bit odd to see a woman of color reprise the character. But a little switch turned on in my head. And a couple of minutes later I was gladly embracing this new version of my beloved heroine.

The books never indeed mention Hermione’s color, but there’s an unwritten law that every character be assumed as white unless specified otherwise. Which is probably not very progressive in hindsight, but it works because it is convenient.

If I have one pet peeve with JK Rowling, it’s that much of these fringe character traits seem to be cropping up outside of the books. Dumbledore is gay, but if Rowling hasn’t revealed that info we would have been none the wiser. These things almost sound like an after-thought, something she decided to throw in to make her world more diverse. On which note, if you ask me, I could only quote Dean Thomas and Angelina Johnson as the only other black people, off the top of my head.

Anyhoo, back to the ‘Cursed Child’! I cannot contain my excitement as this is the official continuation of the Harry Potter series when Harry, Ron and Hermione are all grown up and battling middle-age. The cursed child here is apparently Harry and Ginny’s youngest son, Albus Severus!

In case you missed it, here’s the synopsis from Pottermore!

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I have no idea how people outside of the United Kingdom will get to watch this play though!

Let me know what you think of the above and if you cannot wait to know what the story is all about!!!

Image Source: Original article on Pottermore

Why are all digital assistants female?

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Just something I was thinking about today. Like why do we almost always identify the role of a personal assistant with a woman.

I mean, take the personal assistants on the top mobile platforms –

  1. Siri
  2. Google Now
  3. Cortana

From the above, Siri and Cortana quite evidently had female voices upon their launch, with everyone even referring to them as “her”. Cortana though could have only been female (as she was based off a beloved video-game character), so Microsoft doesn’t take such a bad hit. But Siri on the other hand, predominantly featured a female voice and only recently did Apple add an option to have male voice.

Google Now is the odd one out of the bunch. It’s the only assistant without any inherent “personality”. It’s the most intelligent assistant out there for sure, but you can’t have a conversation with it the way you can do with Siri and Cortana. But returning to my earlier point, even Google Now features a female voice by default, though you can go change it to male from settings apparently (I’ve never tested this though, so can’t say for sure). I’m just trying to decipher the rationale behind this. Is a female voice more pleasing/warm to the ears? Do humans usually look forward to having a woman take care of them? Or is there something else entirely here that I’m missing?

And also I may be wrong here, but isn’t it true that our society also looks lowly upon male nannies, male nurses and so on? Looks like we haven’t completely broken free of rigid gender role notions. Yet. There are still some jobs in the world which we believe one gender is better suited to perform.

I mean, when you close your eyes and think “personal assistant”, is the image that comes up ever of a man?