Wednesday, May 24

Gimme Shelter

Take the lid off of an Idli steamer, with a flourish because that's about all the drama there's left in your life, or with a snarled bit of invective which is equally effective when you've forgotten the feeling of hot metal on skin.

A cloud of vapour will rise, desperately seeking the heavens like Icarus on acid, so brave in the moonlight.

As an aside, if you ever wondered how a tree bark curls, now's the time to stick your arm above the vessel and watch your skin pucker, burn, peel and roll over like an obedient dog.

It should ruin the idli but curiosity demands sacrifice.

Anyway, steamed right, the idlis will be cooked perfectly.

Steamed wrong and it's your welcome to Bombay in the summer.

The city is a vessel on a medium flame, trapped within hand-made, self-constructed walls.

People drag themselves out of beds damp with sweat, the pungency an outcome of staleness rather than the spice of an erotic encounter.

Baths are taken, showers are stood under, heads bowed in forced penitence to the uselessness of the act.

The ads lied.

No soap, body-wash, deodorant or perfume can withstand the great sweat cataracts roaring and gushing from every pore and orifice.

Clothes cling to skins with the cloying longing of the one-night stand who does not leave.  

Commutes are simply about destinations where air conditioners, fans or both are hopefully waiting.

Everyone's fantasy involves the Liril Girl; not so much her as the waterfall she's under.

So humanity reaches offices in droves, wistfully wishing to bask in the cool, artificial air.

Together, the city stares listlessly at the day.

And those who can afford to, dream of the monsoon at night.

Song for the moment: Nightland - Droid Bishop 

Sunday, May 7

Playtime is over

Every river flows at its own pace. If you row long enough, its rhythm becomes yours. The muscle memory you develop helps navigate past cunning eddies, slack patches of water and even dangerous rocks hiding beneath the surface.

When you ford one river and face another, you must be patient. You have learned how to row but rhythm is something you must master all over again. You don't always take to it like a duck to water. Come what may, you must remember to take deep breaths and make peace with the fact that unknown rapids around a bend could capsize your craft in the blink of an eye.

Heavy figures of speech apart, tomorrow is when I must relearn rhythm. So far, I have been meandering along tributaries. Now, it's time for the River. All I can hope for is a good long ride, to the sea, not a rough one to a waterfall.

In keeping with the water theme, I wonder what goes through a swimmer's mind as he awaits the starting gun. What is he thinking about? The coldness of the water? His plunge? The competition? Or is he in the moment, trusting his arms and legs to just know what to do?

I wish I knew.

Song for the moment: Starman - David Bowie

Wednesday, May 3

Begin again

One of the great cataclysms of my life occurred in July 2013. Some genius at Big Broogle headquarters decided life was too good and pulled the plug on the best feed-reader ever developed - Google Reader.
One minute's silence while we shed a collective tear, heave a sigh of resignation, gather ourselves and find the strength to carry on.
Reader was everything a Rich Site Summary (RSS) collator should be; simple to use, easy on the eyes and dependable as a Swiss watch. An added benefit back when we were all perpetually signed into Google (which I now know was a bad, bad idea) was Reader's 1-click accessibility. Those truly were the glory days of feed-reading. Blogging was extremely popular, people wrote if not daily then at least bimonthly and the world's best RSS tool would faithfully keep us updated.

Of course, Chaucer certainly knew his onions when he coined the phrase "All good things must come to an end". And so, Reader did, mourned bitterly by loyal users but ruthlessly sacrificed to introduce the world to its repugnant heir, the new Eye of Sauron+.

Like most people, I moved to Feedly. It was... well, never mind what it was, that is, satisfactory at best. Critically, it just wasn't Reader and that fact basically doomed Feedly for me. I tolerated it more than I liked it. I always signed in filled with resentment, shaking my fist & railing against the unkind fates who... anyway you get the picture. I kept my Feedly subscription but used it only occasionally. That is, until yesterday, when the universe dusted off the hammer, selected a suitable nail and began knocking it into the coffin. Because that was when Feedly primly informed me that my ad blockers had to be disabled if I wanted to keep reading.

Many years ago, I developed a healthy horror of online ads, social media buttons and trackers which is why Ad Block Plus, Ad Guard and Disconnect are the first add-ons I install on any browser. Now, I understand Feedly's predicament. There's no such thing as a free lunch. A lot of time and effort have gone into offering this service to thankless bastards like me. The only way to keep the wolves from the door is advertising. But.

Which is when I wondered if there was a desktop feed-reader for Linux. It intrigued me because most tools designed for a Linux distro tend to be pretty spare. A little bit of searching led me to RSSOwl. Installing and setting it up was a piece of cake. And, if first impressions count for anything, I like it. It reminds me strongly of Reader. I don't need to sign into anything to use it. There are some handy tips & tweaks I will slowly try, though the basic version is good enough. So, it's time to read.

As an aside, migrating feed-readers always leaves me a bit sad because I discover just how many of the people I follow gave up the writing ghost a long time ago. Some links have been kept for nostalgia's sake while others have been discarded. Such it goes.

Song for the moment: As long as you follow - Fleetwood Mac

Monday, May 1

Hurt

One of the indisputable joys of my holiday has been the daily dose of cricket. The Puneri and I have been batting and bowling at and to each other for just about 15 years. But that is a different, mostly meditative experience. A regular game of neighbourhood cricket involves more people, excitement, gamesmanship and yes, fun too.

Being the supremely fit early 30s types, which is to say 'not', we play half-cricket with the kids in his society. Mercifully, this involves a tennis ball, one step chuck-bowling and fewer asthmatic huffs and puffs. So, balmy Pune evenings have been spent satisfactorily thwacking the ball to all parts and rediscovering lungs.

That is, until I attempted to take a catch, only to have the ball smash squarely into the top joint of an involuntarily bent index finger. If you've ever played any impact sport, you may have winced right now. As well you might. One minute, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and all was right with the world. This halcyon scene was swiftly eclipsed and the birds silenced by my squawk of agony. Signals were being urgently telegraphed to my brain that woe was about to be me.

Within a minute the finger had swollen up so fast, my other appendage should have been taking admiring notes. I took one look at joint which was heavily bruised and turning a shade that would put most sunsets to shame and did what the average guy would do; continued playing until the game was over, after which I iced the injury. Yes, I know... men are stupid like that. I then got home and taped it, hoping to straighten out the finger which, alarmingly enough, was now bending of its own volition.

I tried to correct the curve out once. Just once. Let me tell you now, dear reader, that I am no stranger to pain; a migraine is my bosom buddy. But this was an "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger... and you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee" level of agony.

After two days of watching the finger attempt to become a brinjal and me yelp every time a breeze wafted by, the pater indicated a doctor's visit was needed. The medico glanced at it and delivered his verdict with a nonchalance a la Eastwood in the best kind of Spaghetti Western - hairline fracture with the tendon possibly torn off the joint. He then told me I had to wear a Mallet Splint on the finger for 6 weeks or let it develop a hook more befitting a Stymphalian bird. 

There was only one problem. This particular splint must be the rarest bit of medical equipment in the greater Aundh-Baner area because the 17 pharmacies I visited in search of it... er... gave me the finger? (seems the most appropriate phrase here). They either shot llamaesque looks of scorn at my daring to even ask for the mallet splint or pulled out a variety of paraphernalia which were everything but what I needed. Of course.

With a temporary splint jury-rigged out of toothpicks and tape in the best MacGyver fashion, I type this, forced to make do until tomorrow when the search continues. I won't lie and say this injury hasn't dampened my holiday mood. Still, I comfort myself with the thought that my spirit may be bent but it surely will never be broken. My body has other ideas, however.

Song for the moment: This ain't the summer of love - Blue Öyster Cult