Monday, August 27, 2007

I'd resolved to not make this blog a diary of any sort. It's meant to encapsulate what I'm thinking, what my opinions are, a snapshot of who I am at any point of time - personal references (uncomfortable or otherwise) expunged.

However, there are events that are worth mentioning. Just because I like to show off :)

Pike Place Market celebrated its 100th year anniversary in style. Week-long celebrations culminated in the grand finale with an ensemble of Seattle-area musicians playing Seattle-area music, including the infectious Louie Louie and a rendering of Spoonman with Mr. Spoonman himself accompanying the proceedings. And before I forget, Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard and Mike McCready performed on stage. Mike McCready also performed Jimi Hendrix covering The Star-Spangled Banner.

Did I mention this was free?


AID Seattle had an 'India Quiz' this weekend. After doing a few BCQC  and inquizitive quizzes over lunch with friends, the real deal seemed exciting. K & I were registered as a team.

There was a high level of enthusiasm - attribute this to the lack of quizzing action since leaving college for most people here (I caught the quizzing bug later, I don't count). The elims questions were mostly well-set, with a notable few Malayalam Manorama questions (as Ramanand likes calling them) - including "What is the highest bridge in India called?".

20 questions, six finalists with twelve right answers each who had to be whittled down to five. The elimination asked us to write down the names of all Indian PMs since Independence. Gulzari Lal Nanda saved the day as we made it through smoothly.

The finals questions were similar - a good set of questions mixed in with clunkers like 'Tell me the exact date the Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place'. The AV round was interesting too - it included speeches by Swami Vivekananda and an audio recording of P Gopi Chand winning the All England open. Most annoying to me was my mistaking Shikari Shambhu for the Air India Maharaja.  

K & I won - giving credence to the credo Allah meherbaan to gadhaa pehelwaan. Our team was called 'Professors', an inside joke among us CRY volunteers here. I wanted to name us If you come today, but K refused.

All in all, a good experience - reminded me of the small number of quizzes I did attend while in college.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

And I love this because...

My drums instructor invited me this week to a class of blues music to watch some of the music school's advanced students jam together to late '60s blues. This was Clapton before Tears in Heaven, when Cream meant more than just the top off your milk.

There were multiple mic checks and excessive feedback with hissing. The mostly amateur musicians were working hard to get their act together on a weeknight after, in all likelihood, a long day at work.

Yet, it was magical. There was the thump of wood against leather ( a sound no drum machine can match), the throbbing of the bass and the crunching of the lead guitar. The players were all enthusiastic, learning from each other and their instructors, feeding off each other's energy, jamming to a beat all their own. Sunshine of your love bled into Strange Brew as I was transported.

Gigs long back from a time long ago swam before my eyes. Jaws (R.I.P.) at the end of East Street (those burgers...mmmm), those young and raw bands doing their covers of the classics as we sat on stone benches in the crisp night air. Singing along word-by-word to every band (and their dog) covering Summer of '69 or American Pie. The magical pyrotechnics of Parikrama as they added alaaps to Deep Purple and set the night alight with Floyd and Zeppelin. Yelling 'start the f*%&ing music' and band karo ye atyachar when bands didn't measure up. Learning that Cyrus Broacha wasn't just a scripted wise guy as he had an unruly crowd eating out of his hands in two minutes flat.

A blast from the past, completely worthwhile.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Different country, same sentiment

Of all the promises, is this one we could keep?

Of all of our dreams, is this one still out of reach?

                                                       U2 - "The hands that built America"

Happy 60th!

Der aaye, durust aaye.

Monday, August 13, 2007

All that you can't leave behind

Paul Graham writes about how people nowadays have too much stuff.

I agree most with his sentiment when he says :

"I've now stopped accumulating stuff. Except books—but books are different. Books are more like a fluid than individual objects. It's not especially inconvenient to own several thousand books, whereas if you owned several thousand random possessions you'd be a local celebrity. But except for books, I now actively avoid stuff. If I want to spend money on some kind of treat, I'll take services over goods any day."

I just bought another book last week ( Neil Gaiman's new novel Interworld ) and spent the weekend before that traveling (Mile-high city, rocks!) just because I felt it was the right thing to do in the middle of peak airfare season. Services over goods? Absolutely.

My move a few months back to a new apartment was a breeze (less possessions == less time packing and moving) yet I was nostalgic for the day I just filled my rental car with a few suitcases, boxes full of books and moved states to start a new job.

I somehow feel a move will never be so uneventful again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Aao padhe, kuch paisa banaye

Valuing books is a difficult idea. What value do you place on that beautiful turn of phrase? On the sheer joy words bring you? On the amazing feeling you get when you spend a lazy Saturday afternoon savoring a bracing narrative?

If $9.75 spent on a 3 hour popcorn serving of swashbuckling pirates seems worthwhile, used books (over new)offer a killer value proposition. $8 spent on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell  yielded hours of intriguing reading, the occasional chuckle and real joy.  Books for me win hands down. I'm very social as a person, so flying solo is probably the only major downside that I see with reading books.

The unfortunate challenge so far - business and investing books are a hard find in used bookstores. It seems like a sad thing to me that so many bibliophiles don't care so much for money or for the mechanics and hurly-burly of trade and commerce.

But maybe there is hope. Maybe I'm reading it wrong. Maybe it means that people of this tribe are loath to let go of good books on investing. Continuously referring to them, we book-lovers re-balance our portfolios, adjust our risk profiles and make sure we make even more money to buy even more books.