Poetry and Programming

A course in object oriented programming is what’s taking up most of my time these days. My professor came up with this little gem yesterday … “Computer programs are like poetry – they are never finished, only abandoned.”

When I was in high school, there was a guy called Deepak Tony Thomas who was in the same class as me. We weren’t close friends or anything, but we would hang out a little bit. His parents lived in Bangalore (I think) so he got to stay in a house all my himself – unimaginably cool, so we called him the Boss. He would write poetry and show us his work once in a while. Rex and I would laugh at his poems, although I secretly thought it was cool because he used complicated words, and the lines seemed to rhyme. When we got to organize a cultural festival at our school , we called it Blitzkrieg and the Boss got to write a four line poem on the certificates.

Why am I talking about this now? Well, he seems to have transitioned from writing poetry to writing about programming. Why, they even have a picture of him on the books he writes. The professor was right – writing poetry and programming must be about the same.

Plywood and Chips

It was a gloomy, drizzly morning. We woke up tired, our collective efforts at putting out the remnants of last years horrid hurricane season from our backyard having been only half successful. We started early, and by about 1, we were: Done. Grumpy and Hungry. The bulk pickup truck arrived, and the driver brushed away my offer to help, looked at me pitifully and nonchalantly loaded everything up by himself. Increase in level of guilt – why did I get dad to help?

We drove to India South, stuck behind the old couple in a white pickup truck, their grandson sandwiched between them, sipping coke – crew cut head visible through the back door of their cab. The old man talking on his cellphone, grandma’s feet up on the dashboard, truck crawling on a one lane road. Not a speck of dust on the truck, some plywood on the truck bed. Did he load it up himself?

The four of us get seated on a table probably designed for two, the four large partitioned stainless steel plates covering up the entire table, water cups balanced precariously at the edges. We eat, Lavanya elbowing me, me elbowing the faux wood finish on the walls.

As we eat, we also listen. Four engineers, talking loudly enough for the entire restaurant to hear. One of them inviting the other three to his house,

“Come over man, we can do something.”

“Really? Like what?”

“Maybe we can play poker. I have poker chips at home.”

“I have chips too. Potato chips.”

Then the killer. The other three actually laugh.

At which point, Lavanya turns to me and says, “I’m glad I married you.” And we both drank a lot of water to that thought.

Syrupy Sunday (or shamelessly deifying Ilayaraaja)

 I listened to Uravugal Thodarkathai again today. Who could have known? That a mere song could move you, hard-nosed and all that, so much. Every chord emotional, every riff tugging at heart strings. That malleable music existed, music that could blend in with whatever you were feeling. A frenzied friend by your side, dragging your mind through an emotional kaleidoscope.

Strangely, all that remains at the end is contentment; joy. And the urge to rewind, replay. A little overwhelmed: At this rate, I am never going to go through the hundred other songs that do similar things to my brain. And as always, shock: That one man could compose all of this in one lifetime.

Now, this attempt at rendering the Thiruvasakam – an epic Saivite poem – as “Thiruvasakam in symphony“. Sixty year old man, at the twilight of his career, reduced to desperately seeking recognition that he so richly deserves. I just wish I could go up to him and tell him that after one Uravugal Thodarkathai, the rest is all fluff.

PS : Realmedia version of the song thanks to dhool.com. Also check out http://thiruvasakaminsymphony.com.

No more yearning

Boy, am I light on my feet today or what. Lavanya is back. After some frantic foraging through her luggage, and scattering a couple of sarees (with intricate work!), I managed to locate a box full of Aavin Pal Kova. Yes, the Pal Kova. If you have never tried it, I pity you. Yeah, it really isthat good. I hurriedly stuffed myself, dropping a few morsels on the sarees-with-intricate work. And finally stopped when I located part of the loot: I am gonna be a good boy, coz she tells me there are more books to come 🙂 Boy, am I light on my feet today or what.

From my Inbox…

Sent 3 weeks after a party. I swear I am not making this up.

“I’m sorry for bothering you all with this.
Recently I realized that my slippers (Alpine, 10″) got exchanged with a someone’s else (State Street, 9 1/2″) and am not comfortable with the same. If any one of you felt that way [:-)], please email back so that we can address accordingly. You can also reach me on: xxx-xxx-xxx.
Appreciate your help.”

Locked out

There is an interesting article at Wired about the art(!) of lock-picking.

A few weeks ago, we had been to New York. On our return, we reached home at midnight to realize that I’d left my keys behind. Lavanya never carries her keys around on trips such as these (her cute key chain weighs close to a pound), so mom, dad, she and I were stranded outside our house.

A locksmith responded to our call in about an hour. After a little bit of haggling over the price, he started walking towards the door.

“How long do you think it’s gonna take?”, I asked him. “Oh, about two minutes, perhaps less,” he responded nonchalantly. Impressed, the four of us gathered around to watch him at work. He reached into his bag, and pulled out a long, threaded metal contraption that looked suspiciously like a drill bit to me.

“Is that a drill bit?,” I whispered into Lavanya’s ear. She shut me up with a cold glance, and turned back to watch him at work. He peered into the lock for a minute, then turned to me and said, “This is easy!” Then he got out what looked like a $50 cordless drill, but for fear of another cold glance I didn’t comment. Then he began a rapid sequence of movements, which culminated in him drilling a large hole in the middle of the lock. And he had the gall to turn back and smile proudly at us, like he had just won the Dutch Open. The moron had just bored a hole in our lock, and earned a cool $100 in the process.

We slept fitfully that night – you can’t expect to sleep well when all that is stands between you and a potential serial killer were two chairs stacked up against the door. We needn’t have worried though – with locks like this, a chair will possibly offer more protection.

PS : The next day, we asked Geetha and Raja, our friends who had hosted us at New York to check with Enterprise if I had left my keys in the rental car. Raja called me back to say they had our keys. Small consolation. A week later, the keys arrived by mail – they were someone else’s. A fitting dĂ©nouement.

Serves you right…


My parents and I had been to a puja at a friends place, and they had catered food from an Indian restaurant called Madras Cafe. That reminded me of something.

Lavanya, Manoj and I had been there a while back. It had opened up about a year ago, and over time, the food had gone from above-average to bad, and I heard they had lost their chef. So we hadn’t been there in a while. But it was the only South Indian fare in town and sometimes you have this overwhelming urge to eat dosas.

We go in, and a waiter we hadn’t seen before seats us. He brings us water, and I ask him if he was new. He tells us he runs the place with his brother. Then we order Sambar Vadas with a little bit of trepidation, because on three past visits, the sambar had tasted stale.

So imagine our surprise when the Vadas were actually quite delicious. I was so pleased, that when the waiter came next to fill water I start up a conversation with him:

“The vadas are good today. The sambar has a different flavor.”

“Thank you. Must be the new chef we got.”

“Oh ok, that explains it. The old chef sucked big time, his sambar was atrocious. I’m glad you got rid of him.”

“I was the old chef.”

We hurriedly finished our food, and havent been there since. Plus, they opened a new restaurant called India South nearby. Oh, and whenever we go there, Lavanya does most of the talking.

It’s a matter of time, stupid!

Finally, the Straight Dope on a question that I lost so much sleep over. Apparently, whether you walk or run, it’s the amount of time you do it that counts.

Now that I know this, I am gonna start working out tomorrow. Yup. Seriously. Meanwhile, if you get one of these , please send me an email right away. I know a guy who used to be the personal banker of your rich uncle in Nigeria that wants to get in touch with you.