Saturday, December 03, 2005

Time shall fly...

Right now, I'm young. I can do anything.

I don't believe I can die. I'm not dense enough to believe I can't die, but Death is an interesting concept, no more. I am not conscious of my mortality.

It's thrilling to recognise the period of change for what it is. It's fascinating to see myself changing, growing.
There's such a sense of expectation in my life. The future lies ahead of me, unsullied, unexplored. And the greatest thing about the future is that it's all mine. I can't escape it. It won't leave me. I must move forward, and I am moving.

Everybody is, but I know I'm moving. I get a kick out of knowing that my life is clay in my hands. I can shape it whichever way I want.
I'm happy I'm awake while the wet clay is being fashioned into the brittle object it will become when it has been through the hearth that the world reserves for it.

Even when things are not going the way I've planned, I take pleasure in the fact that really, nothing's lost.
My world is rich in opportunities. I walk so many forked roads, I can't run out of paths to take. I know I'll make it. Even when the odds seem stacked against me, even when I feel low, the feeling never quite leaves me that my life will sort itself out.
Because so far, I have had no real problems.
Because so far, I've had no major disappointments.
Because so far, my self-confidence has not been shattered.
Because so far, I haven't lost.
Because nothing's behind me, and everything lies ahead.

My world is rich in possibilities. I have yet to decide what career to choose. I have yet to decide the direction my life should take. I don't know what I'll be doing ten years from now. I don't know who I'll be with. Or where.

But I get the feeling that ten years later, I'll have a pretty good idea what I'd be doing ten years later. And where. And with whom. And if I'm fortunate, why.

And there will come a time when I'll get up and realize, this is it.
This is the woman I am going to be married to for the rest of my life.
This is about how much I'll earn.
These are the things I'll be able to afford, and these are the ones I won't.
These will be the people I'll call friends from my youth.
This is my family, nuclear and extended.
No more kids to be born.
No more marriages to take place.
No more degrees to be collected.

I'll get up one day and realize I'll never go to Seychelles after all.
I'll never go to Goa with friends.
I'll never motorbike to Ladakh.
I'll never spend a fortnight doing absolutely nothing in the Andamans.
Actually, I might never spend a fortnight doing absolutely nothing. Ever.
I'll never have another summer holiday.
I'll never stop worrying.

There might come a time when I'll know with a pang, this is it.
My life's been decided.
And there'll be nothing I'd be able to do to change it.

And I'll stop wondering, and talking to myself, and writing personal diaries.
And I'll stop wishing for envy from people who marvel at my weirdness.
And I'll get on with the boring business of living.
And before I even know it, I'll become my parents.

And my kids will wonder whether I ever did anything. Maybe I was always like this.
And I'll not remember when I wasn't.

And if I should chance upon my laconic teenager's diary, and if I should give in to the temptation to read it, I'll find my thoughts, my fears, my hopes written in my handwriting in someone else's diary under someone else's name.

And I'll have turned old.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I have done it!

Welcome to my new blog.

I owe an explanation regarding the title, the delay, the urgency and the execution of this long-drawn plan to emigrate from rediff, and to blogspot.

The title first.
Credit must go to my friend Advait for suggesting this name. Many years ago (in our second year) he wrote a limerick that he signed off with the name Robert Frust, and mailed it to the IITD CS batch of 2003 Yahoo group. The limerick was nice, but what stayed with me was the brilliant name.

This was around the time I discovered the wonders of DC++, having recently become the proud owner of my own computer and room. After spending a little while on DC under the pseudonym that I have reverted back to today, I became, to denizens of DC, 'robertfrust'. Some of you might have noticed with envy or astonishment as I climbed the charts displaying GB's shared. I now stand at a respectable 39 odd GBs, having left my days of having had to share my C: drive and hidden files to avoid the humiliation of DC treating me like a parasite who salivated at the thought of terabytes of goodies while he shared a measly 4-5 GBs (phew! that was a long sentence) long behind.

Anyway, robertfrust served DC long and well, and it's time now for the old identity to earn its keep.

Coming back to the issue at hand, I loved the name and didn't forget it thanks to its presence on DC, which I religiously access at least a couple of time a day.

All this time, I was happily settled on rediffblogs. I even wrote an impulsive post on how much blogspot sucked compared with rediff when I once went to sleep waiting for blogspot to accept my comment.

But that was before I was introduced to the wonders of proxy servers that I, as a privileged member of that most envied and most reviled (sometimes by their own) class of future Computer Scientists and Engineers being readied in the crucible that IIT Delhi specially reserves for the best of the bloody best (another obscenely long sentence, I'll soon write a post on my inability to form short sentences that I can keep track of), can access.
(Digression: That is all I wanted to say - that I have an account that I use to access my department's proxy servers because I can, but look at the monstrosity that I gave birth to instead.)

Anyway, for several reasons which I shall discuss below, I grew first disillusioned, and then irritated with rediffblogs. And so the search for a blogspot account began.
Why blogspot? Because almost everybody else is there, that's why. And because Google is the future. And because it looks good. And because of those cool look-at-the-movies-I-watch-and-books-I-read features that I have seen on many a blogspot blog side panel. I too will impress you in the coming days with my eclectic taste in books and movies, but for that I'll have to enlist the help of some of my computer-savvy friends, so that will take some time. Don't mind.
(Quick query: what is the past tense of 'mind'? Is it 'minded'? It's surely not 'mound'.)

So I was searching blogspot for a cool url, and I acquired It might seem a trifle weird (it's not even a word, it's not even two words), but I had my reasons, and reasons I then believed were good ones.

You see, my name 'shalabh' means 'bumblebee' in Sanskrit/Hindi. It could also be used by Sanskrit scholars for describing many less appealing members of the insect family, but I prefer to believe my parents who claim it means just the bumblebee. Hence the 'bumble'.

Now, I thought the bee is female (at least in Hindi, it's a she, what's more, it's a fly - madhumakhi), so might play unwilling host to a lot of unwanted male visitors who expect a strong, independent, opinionated girl-woman behind my blog.
Hence, the 'drone'. Also, I know I bore a lot of people, I often go on and on in spite of clear indications that my audience isn't listening; in other words, I sometimes drone.

So I decided I'd start posting on bumbledrone.b.c.

Except that I didn't. I couldn't. It lacked bite. It lacked meaning. It lacked easy recall. It was a clumsy non-name. It lacked the X-factor. I didn't like it, but I didn't admit it to myself.

Then the majors arrived. And along with the majors came a flood of ideas for new posts. And I just knew that I had to shift soon. The window of opportunity was open. I could either leap through it, or be shut out forever.

I took a walk with Vibhor. We went up to the Vishwakarma Building roof. He told me Vishwakarma was the God of architecture and construction. He told me some cool questions he had come up with (we're both wannabe quizzing studs). We decided we'd make a quiz totally devoted to shady questions together, possibly next semester, maybe in Cranium, maybe later. He also told me 'dumbledore' meant 'shalabh'. Being a Harry Potter superfan, I was kicked.

Only the previous day, Nithin had told me how he had enjoyed a long conversation with a woman who was doing her PhD in the Humanities Department on, hold your breath, Harry Potter! How cool is that? I was instantly overjoyed.
So finding out that the only wizard Voldy's afraid of shares a connection with me made my day.

As I was sitting on Nitin's computer the next day, I navigated to, with the intention of acquiring, and I was about to enter my choice when it suddenly came to me like a flash of inspiration that comes but rarely... my inward eye flashed neon - ROBERTFRUST - and with trembling fingers I typed in robertfrust as my desired url, and eureka! I got it!

The name, of course, is apt if you know me. I write and like poetry, and I'm often unreasonably and inexplicably frustrated with life.

Now, the urgency.
I complained about blogspot on rediff. And now I shall gripe about rediff on blogspot.
Sweet something. Irony? Perhaps.

I saw a movie once - Reality Bites, starring the most famous shoplifter in history and Sanjay Gupta's idol's muse's ex-husband - in which the shoplifter is asked to define irony, quickly. She's zapped. As the elevator doors close on the interviewer she mumbles that she can identify irony when she sees it, but oops, no marks for identification sweetie - you're not hired.
Ever since I have wondered whether I know irony when I see it, and whether I can define it. I've even asked people who look like they are ironic all the time to explain it to me, but I've either been disappointed or a very poor student. I'm starting to get used to both in a lot of other aspects of life as well, but that's beside the point here.

I was content with rediffblogs for a long time, mainly because rediff shares my philosophy of keeping things as simple and uncluttered as possible, esp. in matters to do with Compuerji.
Digression: Hope the Big B gets well soon. I got a shock in the morning when I saw his post-operation photo with the sheet upto his face. I thought he was dead, and I genuinely felt very unhappy for a few seconds. I never realized I liked him so much.
But then my honeymoon started to end.

I couldn't import that cool movies and books feature on my rediffblog.
I had trouble inserting links in posts.
The blog template isn't one-tenth as readable as that which hosts much less read-worthy posts on blogspot. Every T, D and H writes a bloody post and it all looks so beautiful. The classy white page, the lovely font, the perfectly chosen colours...
Lastly and fatally, you can't leave lines or even start a new paragraph in the comments. If you wish to reply to several comments, you go along with the ugly rediff way of bunching them all together. If you, or someone else, writes a poem, sorry, rediff decrees that you must read it in one unbroken line.
And today I couldn't even edit a comment. I had to copy it onto notepad, edit it, delete the original comment, and then comment again.

I stuck with rediff when all my friends were on blogspot. I thought they'd learn and the loyals like me would be rewarded for their faith.

But sadly, I was wrong. Rediff did no such thing. They didn't make the slightest effort to keep me from crossing over. They allowed me to be converted.

So I'm leaving rediff, but with heavy footsteps. It's too late now, but I'd still like them to do well.
Good luck, and goodbye rediff.

I extolled the virtues of rediffmail sometime ago too, but I've left that as well for gmail.
And now I've said goodbye to yet another rediff offering that rediff could not bother to update in the face of competition in favour of a company that is out there, doing it.
And it's beating Microsoft at its game.
True, it is starting to acquire Microsoft-dimensions, but then a duopoly is preferable to a monopoly, isn't it?
It is no more David, it has now metamorphosed into Google-iath.
It's become a fight between equals, and it's fun to watch.
I love Windows and I love Google, so I wish them both the best.

Meanwhile, I have the best seat of them all, and I'm not letting go of this one.

I've chosen blogspotting.

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