Of Surprise Gifts

Someone seems to have anonymously gifted me a paid LJ account for two months.

I know I should be really happy about getting a free gift ( What? Oh yeah, also moaning and being outraged about the violation of my rights to Free LJing), but what really scares me is the thought of what exactly I am going to do with a paid account. Frankly speaking, I have never even considered getting myself one. Partly because I am a lazy something of a some-other-thing LJ-er who would rather click refresh on his friends’ page the whole day instead of musing about life or venting my ire at things that annoy me. ( No, Kisna doesn’t count, O Unkind Dissenters to the previous statement of mine.) In fact, I have realised that I am quite happy not musing about life and indulging in fanciful consumerist rampages every other day. Most people I know, including myself, treat these rampages as impending signs of my landing up someplace where the jackets are strait and people carry electric prods in their back-pocket, or ending up bankrupt, or both. Writing about my acquisitions are thereupatic. I write about, say, one of every ten things I buy, and when I look at my LJ later and read about how less I seem to have bought the past couple of months, the juices begin flowing, and eBay beckons yet harder.

Sorry, got sidetracked there for a moment.

So, a paid account. Lots of iconspace, which means I will have to spend some time searching for those tiny pics that make me laugh. The only ones I like seem to be taken by other people, and I dunno, it seems like a very personal thing to do, stealing using someone else’s icon. Not that I would use them anyway. Somehow I seem to forget all about the “change userpic” option everytime I leave a comment on someone’s post, and end up using the default userpic. It’s not funny, I know, seeing Gollum’s leery face accompanying a rather serious comment from yours truly ( *giggle* “serious” comment), but I convince myself that the expression on my default userpic can be interpreted in multiple ways. Try looking at him real hard, can you detect that vein of emotion in his evocative eyes? Can you? Bah, you weren’t looking hard enough.

There are also these neat customizable options I can now apply to my Livejournal and make it really spiffy, but I went to the “manage” page and got a headache. Tried reading the FAQ, and then figured that reading my friends’ page and clicking “refresh” was a more entertaining option. Besides, I always thought the minimalist, black-and-white approach to my main page really kicks ass.

Voice posts – you crazy? I already have people looking at me strangely everytime I am reading through vrikodhara‘s old posts, and now I am supposed to talk to myself in my cubicle and have all my colleagues, on top of gazillions of unknown people ( well, that was just a random number I thought up, to be honest) listen to what I have been doing? No way, Jose!

Erm, in case you are reading this, O anonymous gifter, and wondering at the ingratitude I seem to be displaying at your gesture of goodwill, allow me to assure you that ingratitude is the last thing on my mind. I was really, really zapped when I saw the mail in the morning and, with emotions ranging from euphoria to unbridled curiousity, I called up a couple of friends I know to figure out if they were responsible for this. It turned out to be none of them, and I was even more enthused. My, my, Houston, we have a secret paid-account-bestower, and probably I will never know the reason why I have been gifted one.

Then, of course, familiar beatzoian paranoia won through, and I waited for sometime for a mail from LJ that said – “We are sorry, there has been a mistake and this paid account was meant for someone else.” Or one from some other LJ guy named “beatz” or “beatxo” that said “eh, I misspelled my name while filling in the paid account form, give me my money back.” Even did a quick check around other users to figure out if this was LJ’s idea of a Christmas gift. All the time remembering to click efresh on the friends’ page every now and then, yes.

None of this happened, and by the end of the day, I became pretty sure that I had indeed received a gift. MINE, ALL MINE!!! Which is when it hit me, the question of what exactly I would do with a paid LJ account.

So I thought and thought, and came to a conclusion. ( Part of me itches to say “And the conclusion is – I am shutting down my LJ. Bwahahahaha!” We be thinking nassty thoughtss, precious) The conclusion being, yeah, I will pay better attention to my Livejournal. I will not neglect it the way I have this year. Not that I will blather meaninglessly, but expect the frequency of posts to increase. In other words, this will be a live Livejournal, instead of the intermittently-zombified Journal that it is right now.

Whoever you are, thank you for your gift.


Of quizzing, and happy coincidences.

What have I been doing?

I conducted a couple of quizzes over the last month. Two of them were for IIT Kanpur, for their cultural festival Antaragni ’05. One (and a quarter) was were for IIM Indore’s management festival IRIS. They went off quite well, or so I would like to think. Met a lot of familiar and new faces over the trips. Happily enough, even the lych-worthy theme rounds were happily received, and that warms the cockles of my heart. ( That was just a figure of speech, I really don’t know what cockles are, and if they are associated with the heart, so whether they are warm or cool doesn’t really matter, because I wouldn’t know. Just saying…)

Though I am generally in varying levels of nervousness before a quiz I do ( the nerviness dissipates only when the quiz is halfway over, and as I reverse the direction of the questions, nobody faints or tries to lynch me.), there was one quiz in particular that made me shake in my shoes. It was the one I did for Class IV students, and it makes me sweat just to think of the fact that it required THREE tie-breaker rounds to figure out which teams got what prize. It is extremely unnerving for the quizmaster when he sees that someone who has answered his question (after standing up, and raising one’s hand even as the question is being read out) also breaks into a war-dance that would put a Native American Indian to shame. And that’s after every question, trust me. It also frightens me when students from Class III, when told that the round was going to be a flag round, start yelling “Eeeeeeeeeeeasy.” and proceed to crack every answer. Note to self – tougher questions the next time.

Did a comics quiz for the KQA yesterday. Note to self: scratch off one of life’s TODOs. Pretty good response, and really good answering by all the teams. Added to the already-generous official prize by adding a couple of comics DVDs/CDs as incentives. There, serioussam, that was me doing my bit for comics evangelism. Graphic Rampage ( for that was its name, precious) was followed by the Ganesh Nayak memorial quiz, conducted by tandavdancer, sonataindica, and their partner-in-criminally-good-quizzing Rajat. Blighters put paid to my no-excessive-geekery-in-the-comics-quiz rule by doing a seven question Sandman theme. One that I cracked at the fifth question, but refused to answer until Mother Teresa’s Racist Doglovers did so first. The propah excuse to make is that they were tagging behind our team by 5 points, and I didn’t want to upset the status quo. But the real reason was that other than Tori Amos, I could not figure out any way to connect the theme. How did I know it was Sandman? Because there is no way that Tori Amos can lead to anything ( or anyone) else in a quiz, other than Neil Gaiman. One of life’s little secrets, and the reason why I stayed away from Ms Amos in the comics quiz. Mwahahahahaha.

The whole question-setting/DVD-burning exercise added much to my stress levels on Saturday, which is probably the reason I fell asleep at 11:30 PM last night. One Perfectly Healthy Sunday night wasted – oh, the inhumanity of it all!

Frightening Coincidences Department

Ok, so last Wednesday night, I decide to read Miller’s Born Again arc off my hard disk. The reason why I hadn’t read this so far was that my Miller-Daredevil download, way back when downloads were at home in Hyderabad, comprised only issues 158-191. Managed to transfer the remaining issues ( 219, which I had owned and read way back, 227-233) from Sam when I was in Delhi, and yeah, so I read them at one go. Life was good, and the next day I came and checked out eBay prices. Just in case, you know.

Thursday Evening. A cursory trip to Magazines, Brigade Road’s gift to humankind along with Bookworm. (Blossom is exempted from the “gifts” category, and adds itself to the “necessary evil” part of the catalogue. ) Actually, I was on the way home from a trip to Bookworm, having bought a hardcover copy of Song of Susannah for a decent price, and Anthony Lane’s Nobody is Perfect, a collection of movie reviews and miscellaneous writings by the New Yorker reviewer ( trivia: where does the book get its title from?) Dropped into Magazines on a sudden impulse, and the guy tugs me by the sleeve and leads me to a corner stacked with Mojo and Uncut magazines, complete with CDs and astoundingly-high price tags. While I am still gasping for breath, he tugs at the other sleeve and leads me to the other corner of the shop, with the magic words “New comics.” And boy, oh boy, are they new or what! Get myself a stack of Supermans some two-three months old, a couple of JMS Spiderman issues, loads of Gotham Knights and Catwomans, when he brings out one more stack – which happen to be in packs of 5 each. I point out that because there’s no discount on the combo packs, he might as well open them up and display them as single issues – we comic-buyers always like to see what we are buying, right? As always, my powers of persuasion have the desired effect, and he slices open all 37-odd packs. At this juncture, I was about to go bill the comics I had selected ( along with a couple of Heavy Metal back-issues) when some familiar images peek out from the lot he’s diligently tagging. YES YES YESSSSSS! Issues 231, 232 and 233 of Daredevil, the ones I had read just the night before. More near-fainting spells ensue when I see the other comics in the lot – which include random issues of V For Vendetta, Elektra: Assassin, The ‘Nam, and Micronauts. (Yes, I love Michael Golden.) Had to pay 35 Rs per comic, but was worth it, really.

At the end of it all, I had to pay an auto-driver ten rupees extra to get the whole bundle back home. 99 comics, 3 magazines ( I totally ignored the Mojo/Uncut lot that evening), and two thick books. Now that was a night to remember.


A weird thing happened last Thursday night.

Actually, it happened on Friday morning, but I didn’t know then because it was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by….ah, well, got carried away again. Anyways, I fell asleep at my usual bedtime on Thursday night, at about one AM or thereabouts, and suddenly, I awoke to a strange whishing sound. It was dark in the room, and the first thought that came to my mind was – my Creative speakers had blown. This odd reaction was because I generally leave my computer on at night – with some music playing, and once the playlist is done, it pipes down and goes into standby. A couple of nights ago, there was some kind of a power fluctuation at night, and I had woken up to the sound of my speakers blipping rather irritatingly because the computer was rebooting at about 2 boots per second. That had scared me a lot, and I actually shut my computer down before falling asleep for the next two days.

So with this scary speaker-blowy situation paramount in my sleep-addled mind, I jumped to the wall and switched off the power. And crawled back to bed.

Except the sound was still there, and it was definitely from outside my window. There were also people whispering, quite a few of them. None of these looked too good – it’s never good when your sleepiness disappears at an unholy time of the night.

There were six men outside the window. My apartment is on the ground floor, with a slight elevation, and I could see two of them busy sawing a tree that grew directly opposite apartment, and the rest looking hassled and obviously keeping a lookout. The tree happened to be a Sandalwood tree, and two months ago, a gang of men, armed with guns and knives, had driven inside the apartment complex, cut the telephone wires, held the guard ( an old guy who looks more harmless than my grandpa ) at knife-point and tried to saw off that very tree. Since that time, the gate to the complex would be properly locked at 11 in the night and reopened at 6 the next morning. Obviously, that hadn’t worked. The guard was nowhere to be seen.

Note the point about guns and knives. While I couldn’t really see anything being carried by these guys, it was obviously a bad idea for me to shout out and say – “What on earth is going on?” At the same time, someone on the top floor was yelling something in Kannada – these guys obviously paid no attention, and the sawing continued. I did the logical thing, switched on my light, banged the bedroom door open and went to the living room, which ALSO faced the same tree. The idea was to go and wake my roomies up, and create a ruckus and scare the guys off.

Well, by the time I am in the living room, I look outside, the guys have vanished! Criminals are indeed a cowardly and superstitious lot, it seems, because the lit-up room scared them so much that they dropped everything, including the saw and ran off. Couple of minutes later, the folks from upstairs came down with a torch, I joined them – sadly enough, the tree had been chopped off all the way through. The police came in after about twenty minutes, made a fuss, and were around until at about 10 in the morning, some folks from the Forest Department came and carted the tree away. The guard had been held down by two men, or so he claims. Seems he was asking around for money from the owner for the past few days, and the buzz is that he might be involved in this.

So – my superpower of choice? I drive criminals away by lighting up rooms. Beat that!


Another morning

So I woke up today morning and decided to wash the dirty clothes lying around at assorted places in my room. Sleepily walked around, brushing my teeth with one hand and gathering up clothes in the other. Started washing machine, put clothes in, failed to notice errant wire-hanger that was part of the pile.

The almighty clatter of a hanger inside a washing machine when it begins its spin cycle, is kind of hard to describe. I remember tasting something wet and sweet in my mouth (which happened to be the toothpaste) and a clenched feeling in the tummy at the thought of having to pay for damaging the machine ( which the company pays for) as I ran towards the source of the emanation. Retrieved hanger. Everything intact, except for peace of mind.

And the kind psasidhar has finally sent me the picture I took of my old room after part of the packing was over. The guy in the picture is me, of course, and I am showing off my new haircut. ( Not really. I was just picking up Sasi’s helmet and trying hard not to over-balance and fall on the beanbag.)

My Room, on its not-so-last day.