Monday, August 25, 2008

And The Leaves That are Green...

Different things strike different people differently. An obvious statement, eh? Yet the tidings of an idle Saturday afternoon compel me to spend my energies in the current relevance of this trite and commonplace remark.

The event was a single occurrence – the completion of one year at Blacksburg. One year of Ph.D… Ah! How much we harp about our own affairs. As if a Ph.D. is the greatest thing on earth.

But I am deviating from the topic. Let me return. One year got over. And there were many things that reminded me of this.

Firstly, the date. 4th August 2008. Exactly one year ago, A and I had landed at Blacksburg. Exactly one year ago, I had lost sleep fearing the loss of my passport. Exactly one year ago, I had made a phone-call back home from a roadside payphone. One year henceforth, memories kept peeping in. Yet life went on as usual on this year's date. The day’s events had their toll and memories remained more-or-less dormant.

Another day... The trickle of new students. Soon turning into high tide. Maps in hand. Keen faces. Joie-de-vivre. Greetings at bus stops. Making plans to play. Invitations for dinner. Meeting seniors. But the seniors have gone through it all. They smile knowingly… “Been there done that”. Life goes on… some people are always starting afresh at a given point of time. At the same time, others think they are stuck in a rut.

Then another day… Registering for classes for the new semester. Going through old notes. Old mails. Old books. Old plans. Newcomers searching for room 2040. Those who searched classrooms once observe patiently, to help if asked. It’s time for them to make new plans.

But all the above occurrences faintly whispered into my mind. Speaking the same thing – “Year ended. Year begins.” At best, some of these were at the decibel level of polite conversations i.e. they were not loud; they were civil, beginning and ending with the permission of both parties involved – the occurrences and my mind in this case. And then one day, the loud blaring announcement ensued. So sudden that I was caught unawares – left speechless for a moment.

I was on the phone talking with my parents. I had stepped out of the building and was sitting on a ledge. Though I was talking with my parents, I confessed to them that my mind was elsewhere. There were so many people outside and I kept watching them. This was so unlike the summer days when one felt like being the solitary researcher on campus. It was a big change and my eyes were taking time getting used to this. But it was an expected change.

And then it happened… While my eyes wandered here and there, they hit upon a sight so totally unexpected that all my senses stopped there for a moment. One single tree amongst the hundreds of trees in my field of view had changed colors. Completely. And almost overnight. I had not noticed it previously. I was forced to nod my head in disbelief – “Yes. The year was actually over.” I had to tell my friends about this – I was sure they would not believe me. I felt like being the first person to notice this phenomenal transformation. Other occurrences could be brushed aside but this was staring you in the face – one could not ignore it.

Later while writing this piece, I am reminded of the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Time hurries on… And the leaves that are green turn to brown.”

Youtube search for the same song.

PS: Here are some interesting pics for Autumn: 1, 2 and the following is a pic of roughly the same area which I saw that day. This pic was taken by my room-mate A. More of his pictures are at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bon Appetit

When you take in your daily spoonful
Of milk, cereal, care and worry
Do you remember the people
Who do not worry while eating -
They worry about it.

When having dinner
With egos, quarrels and tiffs
Sitting around you
Do you remember the people
Locked in prison cells
For someone's fault or theirs.
They too have dinner
But with walls for company.

While music to the ears
Pleases some people no more,
Artillery and gunshots
Abuse and injustice
Wails and stifled cries
Are all that some others get.


This image is very relevant to the poem. Please do visit.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for permission from the artist to add his/her image on my blog.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Separated... United

The following came up in two totally different moods. Yet I am publishing them together.


How good it feels
To hold you tight
And fall asleep.


Everything that can go wrong
Is going wrong.
Aah! Murphy's Law.
That means there is hope.


PS: While thinking about a title for this post, I remembered the phrase "Two of a Kind". It turned out that my understanding was incorrect.

The definition is:
Very similar individuals or things, as in Patrice and John are two of a kind--they're true hiking enthusiasts.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

How To Read a Book in Ten Days

No... this post is not about speed-reading. It just talks about the different speeds at which different people read books.

Many of my friends often tell me that when they pick up a book, they cannot put it down before completing it. I however am not able to do that. Because of that, I finish much fewer books. And sometimes, that makes me feel at a disadvantage to these "pick-up-and-finish-it-off " kind of readers.

Recently, I completed reading "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. I read that book over about 3 months - during which time I completed another book, gave my end-semester exams, traveled to Washington DC, traveled to India... To cut the list short, it would suffice to say that I put the book down many a times. In fact, there definitely were times when I did not feel like picking the book again.

So that was my style of reading the book. However I fail to see any other suitable way of reading it.

During all the time when I was not literally "reading" the book, but was still reading the book (as in when answering the question, "What book are you reading these days?"), I used to live with the characters of the book. Unlike many bestsellers, this book did not have a racy plot to keep one hooked as to what the next event would be. But the characters were strong - so strong that I could feel their presence in my daily life. Many a times, I wondered how Hank Rearden would have reacted to the situations I faced. Or another time, was I being like Jim Taggart when I did something despicable. There were moments when I would feel down and then half an hour of reading the book would turn my emotional "wheel of fortune" by 180 degrees. The same happened in the other direction too.

In sumary, I cannot think of a way by which I could have felt these feelings if I had read this book in one go.

Presently I am reading "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie. Saleem Sinai - another beautifully sketched character. And the many others who happen to be in his life. None of them are spectacular people - each of them are riddled by great defects of character or spirit. But that makes them lifelike. These days, I return to Saleem's world when I am alone. Every time, I spend very little time with them. Yet it feels like time well spent.

One of my friends gets surprised that I have still not finished the book. But I think that finishing the book would mean bidding farewell to these people. And probably that's why I do not hurry the affair.


1. While writing the post, two books came to my mind which were the complete antitheses of my above stated idea. One which I actually finished in 2 days. But I do not find the Hero of the book, whatwashisname, returning to my life at any time. The book - Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.

Another book, an autobiography(?), after going through the first few pages of which, I wondered how the person writing it was only having righteous thoughts in his mind from the day he was born. Or was he downright lying by not stating everything on his mind. An injustice for an autobiography I thought and hence I did not finish the book. The book - A P J Abdul Kalam's "Wings of Fire"

2. In the interim period (i.e between the initiation of this post and its' final publication), I chanced upon a post by a fellow blogger. I cannot tell you how happy I felt to find my sentiments mirrored by another.

Caption: "Immersed"