Thursday, September 25, 2008


A few months ago, I chanced across a very good deal while shopping---a brand new mountain bike for 64 dollars, and it seemed like nothing in the world was fairer. The bike conveniently appealed to my taste, with a coat of metallic red which literally shone to heighten it’s presence. A little tweaking here and there, and the bike was ready to come home. We bought it along with us, with the bike securely attached to the back of the car.

The next few days were spent in admiring my shiny new cycle from all angles. It was obvious that I was excited, but I was satisfied enough by simply by staring at it. Then, I delicately locked it away. Only when my brother accused me of not using my cycle for anything did I resentfully take to biking. I only did it to prove him wrong.

Today, biking has become an obsession. When my life relapses into that habitual phase where everything follows a customary order, and everything falls into a predictable plan, It is often my impulse to do something to break the pattern. The pre-decided sequence of things seems like a comforting regularity for many people, who are all too happy to get adjusted to the monotony of daily life. I feel the simple life of college, homework, studies, reading novels, sleep, and food lulls my senses into that sleepy condition, until even surprises look ordinary. And this time, I have taken to biking on a whim, simply to break that sequence. There is nothing like cycling away aimlessly, letting the hours slip by irresponsibly. Having a friend tagging along in your worthless pursuit adds a little more spice. My favorite times to bike are in the evenings, when the heat of the morning fades away like it never existed and the sparrows throng the fences, chirping away madly. I immensely enjoy those moments of waywardness, feeling the winds on my face, allowing them to whip my hair around me playfully, I love the sound of the wheels on the tar, and the honest sweat on my brow as I continue to peddle forcefully. My friend maintains a continuous babble behind me as we peddle and it is now my responsibility to insert a “whoa!” “uh-huh” “Great!” in the conversation. At least, that has grown to be the silent agreement between the both of us.

Well, we bike until late evening until my weary joints stop assisting my urge to continue with this forever. The magic fades, and I return to my daily routine life, my heightened senses quickly slipping back into that dulled stupor, but I look forward to the next day optimistically, promising my friend a greater adventure in the days to come.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Student Psychology

(cartoon from the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to calculus)

In the beginning of the second year of pre-university, most students do the easiest thing they are allowed to do for the year—they set up a goal. It is a fairly simple thing to do: to say something like “Father, I’ll get a 90% in the final exams because I am going to study five hours everyday!” But the student discovers, much to his dismay, that the individual who authored his physics textbook fancies writing in a forgotten dialect that he is unable to comprehend.
“Not my fault I didn’t understand! The textbook is too complex!” he whines, conveniently blaming the defective book for all his agony. Just as he is about to sneak out of his bedroom, his mother spots him,
“Why are you not studying?”
“I can’t understand the textbook, ma. It’s so horribly written! It has a ton of mistakes, printing errors. I don’t know why I bought Bosco publications, I should have gone for MES publications. Studying is a serious business!”

The next day morning, the student’s (study) table is cluttered with stacks of newly bought textbooks, homework helpers, logarithmic tables, CET and COMED-K guides. The student intuitively realizes that there is no other excuse—his life and bookshelf are now crammed with these things.

Now, only the student is aware of the bitter truth that most of the books he has bought (which is the only thing in the world that his parents are willing to spend an infinite amount of money on) are unworthy of his interest and attention, and that they mean very little to his colourful life, a greater part of which includes eating pani-puri from a roadside stand and zooming away on a bike. The initial plan is abandoned, and those books which treasure all the wisdom of the world are now free to collect dust on his clumsy bookshelf. In the end, the student has just enough time to go over the textbook he detested in the first place, and prepare for the final exam. When Second PU finally concludes, the student views this as an appropriate time to dispose of these unwanted things and he now rushes to the paper waalla to exchange them for worthier rewards like money (which will be spent on the in the noble past-time of eating pani-puri from the roadside stand.) Some strange teenagers even pass on ‘knowledge’ in the form of careworn textbooks as legacies to their favorite siblings with the safe presumption that their books will be made use of. After the second year concludes admirably fast, the student assumes the powerful title of a sagely and wise creature, someone from whom the so-called “juniors” can draw inspiration from. They view him with awe-stuck wonder, and faithfulness as he shares his invaluable information with them. He is now the guide, the person with answers. And what does he tell his juniors?
“Look, there is nothing like setting up a goal, like I did. I promised myself that I would study 5 hours a day. And I was determined enough to follow my dreams. I referred all the study guides I could, I revised atleast 7 times. Don’t ignore your textbooks, they treasure all the wisdom in the world.”
The others are left to prospect how much of truth there is in these words.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The 17 mile Drive

[This is on my visit to the 17 mile drive, a scenic drive along the sea side. We visited this place on the 1st September 2008.]

Driving along 17 miles of road, in this sweltering Californian heat isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of fun, but it helps when the sun is forgiving, and the turbulent sea is by your side always, and the numerous crashing wave pools send some sea froth flying to you in welcome. It does lift your spirits, making you forgot how sapped out you were just a few hours ago. One of my favorite things to do on the 17 mile drive is simply throw away my burdens, spending those timeless hours gazing into the horizon. I am carefree here, careless in my observations, (which is rare for me), wasting away those unhampered hours doing nothing significant.

( Seen above is the sunset I witnessed. )
What is not beautiful about the seaside? There is something enchanting which delights your eyes, calms your waywardness, caresses your face with that gentle touch. This place has attracted me three times, but with every visit, I fall more in love with it. And there is this raw beauty in everything around me, right from the crooked, bleached, ghostly trees, to the red moss which hangs limply onto the rocks. This place is the unmasked, bare face of nature and it is animated with life—and that is why it appeals to me even more.

(The little bird I could capture---unfortunately, I couldn’t capture a sea-gull! )

The emotional person gets confused here, because everything looks metaphoric. For those who can extend their visions beyond what they can see, they sense a deep solemnity and a silent majesty in the presence of the lone cypress (which is a tree growing out of a rocky cropping, with very less water to support it, and still has survived for nearly 150 years)….and of course, the sea always seem to be smiling. Yes, I stayed back to watch the sun set over the pacific, and I admit, it’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. Well sorry, i’ve been unable to inform you precisely of how my journey was, as I am not much of a researcher, when it comes to writings. I could have provided you with more factual information like how far the sea coast is from freeway 101, and how to get there. It is just that I look at life a bit differently. It does not matter how I got there, or which freeway I took, it only matters that I enjoyed the experience. And that is how I choose to remember most of the things which happen to me—only experiences remain understood, while all the facts are mysteriously erased. Yet, one fact I do remember, that this has been my most enjoyable weekend in America this year. I have had a lot of fun on the trip, and I’ll cherish that.


(The sea in the evening.)

(The lone cypress tree---one of my favorties.)

[Click to enlarge]