Monday, June 27, 2005

Novel Ideas

Reading the Da Vinci Code has certainly brought about certain changes in the way I think and express myself. Besides the controversial plot that literally shakes the foundations of Christianity, the style of writing and spell-binding revelation of the story has me clutching the book for hours together. Yesterday afternoon, was well-spent with me in a cozy corner in my room, reading the Da Vinci Code. I found myself cribbing that the left half of the book felt heavier than the right one. Obviously, I was enjoying every second of it and actually wanted the book to last longer!

One of the positive effects of reading the book is the plethora of words and ideas that have started flowing to my fingers. Right below is a draft of what I call the first chapter of my untitled novel. Read on, and be sure to tell me what you think of this!

Chapter 1

Flipping feverishly through the pages of Time magazine, Lindsay Atkinson sat counting each minute of the never ending hour at Heathrow Airport. She was to board flight BA139 to Mumbai. Each second seemed like a minute and each minute seemed like an hour. The articles in the magazine flew past Lindsay’s mind like the cold wind blowing against a closed window – unable to set in and relenting itself totally useless to her mind.

Meeting my love is just a few hours away, Lindsay said to herself as she peered back into the magazine, trying to make sense of the text she was reading. Just as she set her gaze on something interesting, a soft female voice boomed on the PA system.

Passengers boarding flight BA one-three-nine to Mumbai, please proceed to Terminal Four.

Lindsay heaved a sigh of relief, Thank God for that, I couldn’t have waited any longer. She joined the snaking queue of people, who seemed equally eager to get on to the aircraft. Lindsay wondered if everyone was as eager as her to get in and thought to herself, the waiting lounge is not such a great place, after all. How long could one sit staring at the magazines? How much longer can people wait before they set sail for their destinations? All in all, Lindsay was far more relaxed now and the excitement of meeting her love in Mumbai showed up clearly in her twinkling eyes.

The air hostesses’ aboard the aircraft stood arms crossed, beaming a plastic smile, welcoming passengers aboard, checking their boarding passes, and directing them to their seats. Lindsay held up her boarding pass to a blonde airhostess who pointed at a seat in the eleventh row, right next to the window. With a smile of acknowledgement, Lindsay headed for her seat, which was just right above the aircraft wing. As she settled down in what was going to be her home for the next eleven hours, she set her eyes outside the window and relaxed, yet again. Heights made Lindsay nauseous, throwing her into an extremely uncomfortable frenzy, a rare medical condition where nothing but a shot of sedative would calm her down. The presence of the aircraft wing blocking her vision of the abysmal depth made her feel comfortable and thankful to God. Placing her handbag in the closet above, Lindsay settled onto her seat and heaved a deep sigh. She closed her eyes and began thinking. Mumbai is just eleven hours away. The moment I have been waiting for is coming soon. How lucky I am to have found true love in this lifetime. Love is the only way to attain salvation. Thank you Lord for giving me this opportunity to serve you.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking…the voice boomed. The sudden crackle in the air startled Lindsay, instantly drowning her entwining thoughts into a deep abyss of amnesia. Lindsay sat on her seat with a horrified look on her face, her mind still reeling from the sudden interruption that got her heart pounding and cold sweat breaking out on her forehead. The captain’s words in the background made little sense to Lindsay. A sudden wave of silence slapped her across her face as the captain’s voice faded out reducing itself to only a noise of people chattering. Realization dawned upon Lindsay. She had been lost again in between the real world and what seemed like a parallel world in her head. With a sudden jerk, the aircraft started pulling forward, taxiing towards runway four. Soon enough, Lindsay felt a slight tap on her shoulder. As she turned to look, she heard a soft voice saying, Please fasten your seatbelt, madam. In the moment of bewilderment, Lindsay complied with what felt like a command, rather hurriedly.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

About Reading and Me

I'm not a big novel freak. I don't go frisking up roadside book stalls or even to Crossroads. In fact, reading a book is as alien to me as watching a regional movie. Most of my reading happens online. This includes reviews of products, articles on various subjects, technical whitepapers, news, astrology, blogs, and forums. I have never bothered to specifically read to read. That's probably because I don't make enough time for a book to get into the clasp of my fingers. Going back several years, I remember, all my school friends would rant and rave about having read a particular book. I was the more practical type and never read books. You may think I'm different or even stupid, it's only a matter of opinion. Reading a book was an excruciatingly boring task for me.

I have friends who spend ~3 to 4k per month on books alone. I wonder how and when do they get the time to read these books. Is buying books a fashion statement? Or is it just a way to build up your own library with the hope that you will read those books, someday?

However, today is different. I have actually felt compelled to hold on to a book. Find it so difficult to put it down. Chapter after chapter goes zooming by, taking me deeper into the plot. Along with the chapters go the hours. I'm talking about The Da Vinci Code that I got for my birthday. This novel is certainly one of the best and has, indeed, made a book hater like me stick to the pages. Reading a book is not that bad, afterall. Or may be it's just Dan Brown. Funny how, sometimes, you tend to contradict yourself.

Blue Sunday, The

On the road, I see a Skoda with chrome-finish alloy wheels. Instinctively, I reach out for my Nokia 6230, placed on the passenger seat of my car. But no. It ain't there. The reminiscences of the disappointment revisit me and I live through the pain, yet again. At home, my brother's N-Gage hums Sweet Home Alabama. Aah, mp3 ringtones! I had it too. At play, a sudden thought strikes my mind and I need to jot it down. I reach for my pocket and pull out my Nokia 1100 instead.

There are very few materialistic things that I get attached to. One of them is the phone I use. It becomes a part of my life and doing without it is unimaginable. As I step out of my home, office, a restaurant, or my car, my hands instinctively check my right jeans pocket to feel that candy formfactor safely tucked in. Without it, I feel incomplete. With a phone like the Nokia 6230, using all of the in-built features requires intense amounts of love and dedication. From having a picture phone book, mp3 ringtones, raunchy video clips, mms messages, sms messages that you never feel like deleting, photographs that remind you of the good times you've had, to logging onto MSN Messenger through GPRS and browsing the Internet - I did so much with the phone. Life was so organized with it around. It was more like a personal assistant who helped organize my life in my moments of fun, pleasure, and anxiety.

After having a faithful association for almost a year, Sunday, the 19th of June saw me separated from my phone. Yes, my Nokia 6230 is no more.

Sunday afternoon, a prescheduled time for cleaning the car. My phone, wallet, and keys are placed on the passenger seat. That's the last time I see my Nokia 6230. Me - using the vaccuum cleaner, sucking out the tiny particles of dust from the carpet. Nabil comes over and keeps me company while I clean the car. Later, Nabil suggests having tea. I take my wallet, keys and lock the car. Ride to the chai wallah on Nabil's scooterette. We talk about the profound meaning of life and how it has changed for the good - for both of us. We get up to leave and me - the trying-to-be-organized soul that I am, check my short's pockets for all belongings. The phone is missing. I tell myself, The phone must be in the car. Yet, to be sure, I ask Nabil to call my number. After a couple of seconds, reluctantly, Nabil tells me the phone is unreachable. We rush back to my car park, while checking the road to spot a silver Nokia 6230. Reach the car and horror strikes. The phone ain't there in the car. I go home to check if I've left it indoors. No luck, again. After a few frantic moments, I quickly compose my self. The phone is misplaced and possibly stolen. I call up BPL Mobile and ask them to deactivate my SIM card, for it has both STD and ISD. Later, me and Nabil head to the Police Station to file an FIR.

I spend my evening in the usual way - with R and friends. The thought of my lost phone stays in my mind in the background. Get back home and reality dawns upon me. My NK6230 cannot be lost. It's gotta be somewhere close. I relive the entire sequence of events in my head and try to figure out what caused the misplacement. Did it fall off my pocket while riding on the bike? Did the construction workers steal it from the car when I was away? Did it get sucked into the vaccuum cleaner? Where did it go? I find it extremely hard to believe that my phone is indeed lost.

After using 17 phones for barely 3 months each, the Nokia 6230 was the 18th and truly an exception. I had used it for almost a year. The versatility of the phone prompted me to love it so. No phone compared to it in terms of features, operating speed, and of course the presence of proprietary Nokia OS as compared to the Symbian suckers. Just a week back, I had enquired with my mobile dealer for a suitable upgrade, which again, is the newer Nokia 6230i. Buying it was on the cards, and my phone would have fetched me about 9k. People say, when things have to go, they will. In my case, I didn't let it go. And so, it decided to go on its own.

Even today, three days after the tragic event, if I may call it, I feel the presence of my phone. Somewhere close, somewhere far. Out of the boundaries of my sight and touch. I find it so difficult to believe it is actually lost. I check every corner and every crevice in my car, hoping to have my phone back. What could feel better than getting back something you love when you have lost it?

I feel like singing Oh, where, oh, where can my baby be? The lord took her away from me...

Now, for Mr. Phone Thief, while you are alive, you will get the worst news of your life time using a cell phone - mine or another stolen one. You will never get an errection ever and your wife/girl friend will desert you for your best friend. After you die, you shall rot in hell with the old cell phones. Their antennae will aim straight for your arse hole. The shrillest of the ringtones will play 24/7. And guess what? Phone batteries don't go empty in hell!

Oh Lord, please help me get over this!

PS: For people wondering if my old number is still active, yes, it is. I have a new SIM card with the same old goodie number.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thoughts @ 6000 rpm

As far as my motoring frenzy goes, this week has been delightfully eventful.

  • Sunday saw me getting a ride of a life time - in a 2005 Mercedes C220. Not only was it an exhilarating ride with the engine spewing out those insane amounts of torque, but also the owner of the car - another motor enthusiast patiently explaining the myriad gizmos present in the car. Just for the records, we did a 100 in the oh-so-busy streets of sector 17, Vashi. All under 7 seconds. Now that's how you drive a 35-lakh car!
  • Being treated to all that torque gets your adrenaline pumping. On my way back from NRI Complex, an aquaintance in a Diesel Indica V2 decided to provoke me to race. Did a 140 in my Zen and cruised to victory.
  • Monday was anything but mundane with an assortment of Pulsars and CBZs racing with me on the Eastern Express Highway. Such races are often informal and long forgotten. Though, I just discovered a new tap of torque on my bike - the second gear - to propel me from 5 to 45 in three flat seconds.
  • Tuesday was another race day on the Eastern Express Highway. A Skoda Octavia Rider was sporting enough to have a friendly race. Although it was highly unfair for the car owner, it was fun. Bikes are always easier to navigate in traffic or no traffic.
  • Today, I got to test drive the Swift. I like that car but don't think my Zen is bad at all.

Like Chad Lindberg would say, "Dear heavenly spirit. Thank you for providing us with a direct port nitrous injection, four core intercoolers and ball-bearing turbos and titanium valve springs. Amen"

Swift, Driving the

My two-week-long desire to test drive the new Maruti Suzuki Swift took shape today. Opportunity presented itself when init() happened way before schedule, at 7.20 AM. Zoomed to Automotive, Nerul at 8.30 AM, filled up the test-drive form and lo, I'm behind the wheel of an Orange Swift VXi.

The car has an immensely powerful stance. Though the modern look might appeal a one too many, it takes time getting used to. Especially when looking at the weird looking machine at close proximity. The A, B, and C pillars along with the roof, look small compared to the rest and seem to be forcibly stuck on a large body, a la vintage cars. The 165/80 R14 stock tires give this machine a mean, off-street look. One knock at the body and you know it is a Maruti. The build quality is average and leaves much to be desired. On the other hand, the Octavia seems rugged as a tank! I know I'm comparing Oranges and Apples, but that still strikes a chord, somewhere!

The sales rep drives the car out of the showroom with me in the passenger seat. He gets to an open section of the road and steps out. I swing the door open, and step in. Quiet easy, thanks to the height of the car. Is the engine ON? It's hard to tell! The Swift is one of the most refined machines from the Maruti stable. I slot the gear knob into first and take off. I rev the engine according to my habits in the Zen and I see the speedo going beyond 20. The revs are at still at a comfortable 2000 rpm. Shift into second and you feel a surge. By the time the tachometer shows 2000 rpm, you are well beyond 45 kmph. The shifts are short and feel very sporty. Third takes you to 65, and the fourth provides a mighty cruising experience at 90. Slot it into fifth and you are well above 110! Very well tuned gear ratios. Perfect for city driving and red-light drags, as well!

I bring the car to a halt and ask the sales rep if the brakes are ABS-equipped. He replies in the negative and I am surprised at the braking performance. Thanks to the 14-inch (I think) servo boosters, this babe stops as fast as she accelerates. Now, I decided to try out the gear ratios in economy mode. Shift into the second at 10, third at 20, fourth at 30, and fifth at 40. No knocking or excessive loss in performance. This car can be an elegant woman dressed in a kanjipooram saree or a voluptous bikini-clad babe. As and when required, and as you please! I enquire about expected fuel efficiency and he says 12-15 kmpl in city driving conditions. Hard to believe, this being a 1.3 litre, 87 bhp, one-tonner! My Zen does 17 kmpl in city driving conditions when driving in MiledgeDrive® mode.

Continue to Palm Beach road and cruise at 120 kmph. Drive back to the showroom and the joy ride comes to an end. I step back into my Old Faithful (not that old, actually!) and turn the key. Surprisingly, my car ain't too far behind in the refinement department. With Suzuki, refinement is the key word. Be it a bike or a car. I drive out on the road and find my car gasping for breath as she nears 2000 revs. It ain't my car, it's my mind. That's what 1.3 litres, and 87 BHP can do to you. I find the swift (err, shift!) to my old car rather disappointing. To express this in two-wheeler terms, this feels like coming back to your Splendor after riding a Fiero. But thankfully, I own a Fiero and not a Splendor!

Over all, a nice morning and an even nicer car. Perfect for a family of four, where the man of the house does a little more than just driving to work. Lots of space in the cabin. A performance-driven engine that is not going to proliferate your fuel costs too much, coupled with the reliability of a Suzuki. All this, from the people who think you are king. That's the new Swift for you.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Jammed fingers or a mental block?

Today, I have this intense compulsion to write something. A need to express myself in an alternate way. Channel my constructive energy. Express my creativity. Feel happy. Get that satisfaction of creating something (the write up, in this case) from scratch. And feel happy.

Have been going through my older posts, trying to gather inspiration to write something. Tried writing something, and what it turned out to be has been aptly been christened "Writing Fiasco."
It was the first day of class. The long summer had chilled my mental bones, much to my surprise to get into a serious ‘study’ mood. As I walked into class looking out for chicks and potential friends, my roving eyes screech-halted on a petite, slim girl wearing a white salwar. She had silky, shiny, straight hair. Without a plot in mind, I can’t do much justice to this story. Ok, I have the description of the girl and me walking into the classroom. Where do I go from here on? Do I write about how we spoke for the first time? Or do I write how hard I was trying to read her mind to find out if I have caught her fancy, as well? College-classroom is a very boring, over-used setting used in many stories. Not worth my keystrokes. Ok, I have been wanting to write a spine-tickling, romantic comedy for sometime now. One that has its hilarious moments, but at the same time makes readers think of their partners and gives them an overall mushy feeling that gets them excited. Do you get what I mean? I want something light, but something that has you thinking about mush and gives you an overall good feeling. Its 20:20, and I think it’s time to leave. There goes my writing…hopefully, the next time I try something like this, I will have something more solid to write about!

I'm at right angles with my need-to-write and writing ability. Does not writing take away something you have developed over the years? If so, may be it is my profession that is to be blamed. When I worked as a writer, words and ideas just flowed through my fingers and writing something purely for my satisfaction was not a big deal. For the last ten months or so, I have not been writing much in my profession, leading to a drop in the number of posts on my blog. Now, after ten months, even expressing my inability to write in this post seems like trying to move a boulder. It's true, lately, I have been busier than usual. But does that account for my will-not-write-anything spree? Or is it that what D says is true? Is this really the June effect? Close to my birthday, the creative part of my brain goes into sleep mode, only performing daily chores. Even writing that I am unable to write like before is an inspiration from D's post.

All I can think about these days is R, bikes, and cars. Feel like doing a power-wheelie on my bike at 80 kmph. Feel like toeing the accelerator pedal of my car to about 3000 rpm, slipping into first gear, letting go of the clutch pedal and flooring the accelerator pedal simultaneously. What follows would be insane amounts of torque being delivered to the front wheels, resulting in a perfect 5 meter screech start, pushing the car from 0 to 60 kmph on the first gear in about 5 seconds!

Have to get those creative juices flowing. Got to start getting those wonderful abstracts ideas again. Makes me feel better about my self. May be I will read a book tonight. Probably, another great mind will inspire the writer in me and get those ideas and words flowing to my fingers.