Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A change of pace

Right, here we are again. Only, that's not strictly accurate this time around. :) It has been a year like no other. But then again, changing your life over a decision made overnight staring at the silhouette of the Table Mountain couldn't really be expected to have gone any other way.

For one thing, I couldn't have possibly asked for a better adiós to the boat life than that phenomenal and spectacular two week adventure in South Africa! And since then it's been a different sort of adventure.

This must have been the longest summer here for years :). I am so glad I can look back and not think of a single way I could have made any more of it than I did!! In between the cycling hiking and the few trips here and there, not to mention the occasional night out on town, it was a blast!

Then by autumn I found myself more or less settled here, not feeling quite as weird having my own place. I'm glad I managed to get the car when I did, although I still feel I need to put more miles on it. I guess that'll come.

I haven't travelled nearly as much as I used to. No more accidental trips to places I wouldn't get within a thousand miles of, were it not for the matter of having to get on a boat :). Which can be good or bad thing, of course.

I have to say, things sort of slowed down on the fun and awesome front and speeded up on the crazy busy front towards the end here, but the vacations helped with that no end. I guess there are still a lot of things to get used to. It seems hardly believable that I have been in this country for nine months already!

This time last year I'd been hoping for something new, something I didn't even know I wanted. It's really amazing, the ways in which that has come to pass! In the end, I'd say I'm really looking forward to the first new year's sparklers and fireworks in years.

But more than that, I'm looking forward to the new year, with all the surprises, all the hopes and dreams, some that might come to be, others that will fade out of memory, but each one hopefully making up another truly amazing year :). And some snow.

Felling: festive!
Listening to: Travie McCoy - Rough water (ft. Jason Mraz)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

The unexpected stillness of midwinter

It was a really good vacation, all in all! Of course the timing could have been better, but then again, this is pretty awesome too! I've come back smack in the middle of the most vacation filled part of the year. I was hoping for a chance to hit the slopes, but as it's all rather inexplicably wet rather than white, I'm mostly just having some quality time recovering from my vacation :).

There was a moment as we took off from Copenhagen. It had been cloudy, miserable, and after Dubai, rather shockingly cold on the ground. But then the aircraft sort of punched through the clouds. I've long since given up on window seats, so I was caught off guard by the ray of sunlight poking me in the eye. When I did look, the bed of clouds seemed magically transformed beneath us. I keep reminding myself, looking at the overcast sky, that this is just one side of it, the other side is bright and cheerful.

The recent switch to young adult fantasy has had rather mixed results. On the one hand, it really is fairly light, and mostly quite entertainingly so. On the other hand, the hopelessly adolescent relationship drama is driving my slightly nuts. Maybe this would be a good time to start with The Colour of Magic.

I shouldn't finish without mentioning the best film I've seen in a long time. A Very Long Engagement. I can't for the life of me figure out what kept me from watching it sooner. The story, poignant and set in the backdrop of war, is told with such tenderness! The plot has more surprises than most thrillers, and better ones too! But mostly it was Audrey Tautou's stunning eyes.


Currently: hoping for some snow
Listening to: Jessie J - Alive

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mile markers

As it turns out, doing the same thing over and over again, but at somewhat longish intervals can be quite enlightening. Well, maybe not enlightening, but definitely entertaining :). On what used to be the regular trips to visit family in Asansol and Shantiniketan, this turned out to be particularly true on a few occasions.

One was while catching up with some friends on a terrace, down the street from the apartment where I grew up, where we'd spent hours playing cricket a bit over a decade ago. The view had changed. Not imperceptibly, but almost completely! It's not like the old landmarks had disappeared, but all the newer buildings and apartment blocks seemed to have outgrown the old respectable height of three or four floors and loomed above the rest. It was interesting trying to pick out the bits that were still familiar and wondering what it would all end up looking like in maybe another decade.

Later that day four of us school-mates, rather fortuitously at the same place at the same time, decided to drive out to what used to be one of our favourite high school haunts, a not too easily accessible and to be honest rather unglamorous spot on the bank of the Damodar River :). We made it in good time for sunset. This being a winter following a particularly rainy monsoon, the river had overrun all the little sandbars we used to love lazing on. There was even a ferry, where usually, or at drier times of the year, people would simply wade across, from sandbar to sandbar, from one bank of the river to the other.

The thing that was probably the most innocuous but left the greatest impression, was the drive back to Kolkata. It's something I used to do maybe once every couple of months, and for years, I never really paid too much attention. To the patterns of the fields punctuated by villages. To the occasional sets of power lines marching off into the distance, apparently aimlessly, going from nowhere to nowhere. To the village kids, fairly used to the vehicular traffic, but still quite entertained by anything not a local bike-trailer, truck or lorry.

In the gaps between the knots of populated areas I decided to roll down the window and drop off the speed. I wasn't in a hurry, it was mid afternoon and I had hours in which to get back to Dumdum. The mid-winter weather was perfect, the air refreshingly cool as it shuddered past the open space. I noticed that the fields had been harvested, leaving them a bit colourless, I guess I missed the verdant green of the unharvested crops. The fields stretched out, flat, all the way to a distant horizon, which faded off into the haze like a question.

There was something immensely peaceful about it all. Was it the passage of the better part of a year since the last time? Or was it the weather? Or was it just that for a change, I felt I didn't have to go as fast as the road would let me? :) Either way, it's been a good vacation. And as I had predicted, all too soon, it's over. I do have another couple of days or so till the flight back to Oslo, but some of that will be spent packing. Sad thing is, I had just about gotten used to the sleep cycle here...

Currently: wondering when the snow will come
Listening to: A$AP Rocky - Fashion killa

Friday, 13 December 2013

Oh Michael/Mike/Ernest!

I guess muscle memory is a real thing. Not to be harping on about the same thing, but I continue to surprise myself how easily I've gotten back to negotiating traffic here, from behind the wheel that is :). I suppose a decade is long enough to pick up a few things that will be hard to forget.

I've been a bit occupied these last few days. But in between, I've managed to find time to finish with All Clear. Some books are just hard to read. And I don't mean bad, but just plain difficult. Of course it didn't help that for the most part I kept wondering what on earth happened to the author that wrote To Say Nothing of the Dog!

Okay, so let's back it up a bit. There is an ending, thankfully. Happy or not is open for debate, but it's not all doom and gloom. But the ending doesn't make up for the deary and painful progression of chapters whose sole purpose seemed to be to be a constant propagation of fear, pain, hurt and suffering. And the rare, oh so rare spot of light hearted irony.

I mean, I get it, the war was a terrible time. And there were those who made the best of a really bad situation, in different ways. But you kinda got that within the first third of the first book. Did there really have to be two whole books full of the same?! The reading had to be done though. I was way too invested in the characters to just leave them floundering, possibly dead, amidst all that chaos.

Now that it's over, I think I'll start on something a little more, well, fun. Cassandra Clare seems interesting. I guess I shall find out soon. In the mean time, weather's been absolutely beautiful! Barely a cloud in the sky the entire week! And on top of that, temperatures around the high teens except for the middle of the day. I should really make the most of this before getting back to the deep freeze of a proper winter :). I should also take some photos. Of something.

Currently: still a little out of sync on the sleep
Listening to: Zedd ft. Foxes - Clarity

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Of lost marbles and perfect winter weather

It's taken a while, but I'm back in Kolkata. Now, though, it doesn't quite qualify as home, so in theory I'm not back, just visiting. The clearest proof is sleep :). Every night, just before I fall asleep, I miss my bed. Damn! Only took eight months!

The trip over went by in a rush. Connections that were just long enough to not be uncomfortable, but not long enough to relax. Flights where I couldn't find sleep. So it wasn't at all surprising that when I showed up here at eight in the morning, I was barely awake. Having spent eighteen of the next twenty eight hours shrugging off my lack of sleep, at least part of which had nothing to do with jet-lag, I was finally, properly in vacation land :).

True to recent form, I improved greatly on my recent reading record in transit. Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller had been last month's book, and having acquired a hard copy at the beginning of said month, I was quite thrilled to be reading one of those after a while. For all of about ten pages. Somehow reading just hadn't happened those last few weeks.

I ended up finishing the whole book over the course of the trip from Oslo to Kolkata. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it, I mean, it's well written. I like the guy's style, mixing up introspective musings with fairly fast action. I sympathise with the characters. But then again, the central character, or at least one of the two, (definitely the only one that survives till the end) never actually speaks for the duration of the book!

I wish we at least found out Paul's real name. Well, I suppose he did smile, and laugh. Once. And cried hysterically. So you can't say he doesn't make a sound throughout the book. I was also sad that the thug least guilty got shot first. But I guess that's irony for you.

Now I'm back to Connie Willis and All-clear. Believe it or not, having read three books in between and despite the passage of a couple of months, I didn't really have to bother reading the end of Blackout to get into it. It's all exactly as muddy and confusing as the better part of the first book. I'm just hoping there's actually some sort of an ending to this one. 

In the mean time, it's going to be catching up with family and friends and getting comfortable driving Indian style :). I was a little worried about that on the way here. I needn't have bothered, half an hour or the right side of the car, and it was like I'd never left. I only hope this doesn't bode ill for when I get back to Norwegian roads :P.

Currently: on vacation! yay :D
Listening to: Poli
ça - So leave

Saturday, 7 December 2013

At what cost freedom?

I have been looking forward to this more than I want to admit to myself. It will be all too short. Too little, hopefully not too late. It will be over before I know it and I will hate it when it's over. But. Right now, this vacation is the best thing in the world :).

Feeling: liberated, albeit temporarily :P
Listening to: Zendaya - Replay

Monday, 2 December 2013

St. Swithin's day

This last weekend was the first in a while when I made a conscious decision and stuck with it 100%. I did nothing even remotely active, spending almost every waking moment surveying my living room and backyard from my pillow fortress atop the couch :D. It was glorious!

It's been a long few weeks. And when frustration and more than a touch of overbearing stress join forces with illness, things begin to look quite a bit bleaker than they actually are :). Thankfully, it wasn't anything a couple of days of oversleeping couldn't cure!

And while I was at it, I ended up catching up on some movie watching I'd been meaning to do. There were quite a few of the recent action/sci-fi non-classics that I'd missed in the theatres. Oblivion, I have to admit, wasn't half bad, despite Cruise. I only half saw that twist coming, that too, pretty late :). But the one that really did capture my attention was One Day.

Thing is, I was actually planning on watching Once. But as fate would have it, the cursor passed over to the next one and by the time I'd noticed the switch, I was already hooked. As far as concepts go, it was nothing particularly out of this world. 

In fact, I would much rather like to read Ethan Hawke's book from Before Sunset. You know, the concept he talks about in the Paris bookshop, where the entire story happens within the span of a single pop song. Okay, so the soundtrack might turn out to be a bit boring but so what? Anyhow, I digress.

I've never particularly liked whatshisname, chap who plays Dex. Which was a pretty good thing, 'cos for the most part, I suppose he isn't really someone you'd like. I mean I get it, but I sort of kept wondering what Em saw in him. Things were going rather well, I barely noticed the time, the briefly sunny afternoon disappeared into dusk and then of course she had to go get hit by that truck.

The only thing I could think of was (oddly enough, another movie made from a book I haven't read) Pat's reaction to that Hemingway book from Nikki's school syllabus :). I mean, it's apt! Why?! Really, why? You know why I love Stranger Than Fiction? Because Emma Thompson gives up that phenomenally poignant ending of killing Harold, leaving things a little less superlative, and a whole lot happier. Hoffman's judgemental criticisms be damned.

I'm a sucker for happy endings, what can I say :).

Feeling: better :)
Listening to: Zedd ft. Hayley Williams - Stay the night

Saturday, 23 November 2013

God tur

It's usually a good weekend when you get to go out a bit I guess. A hike is always a good thing. Last weekend, seeing how the weather promised to be particularly nice and sunny, we decided to brave the sub-zero temperatures, and go for it.

That's one thing that keeps me going, no matter what, there are always other people up for it. Cold frozen trails notwithstanding. :)

I do admit, I'd rather be snowboarding than hiking at this point of time in the year, but it's just the grass in my backyard that's showing any signs of freezing over, not any of the local slopes, so I guess the 'board will have to wait a while still.

Currently: weekend!!
Listening to: Lana del Rey - Summertime sadness

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Destination unknown

It's almost tangible, this feeling of things slipping away. Slowly, and with a sickening sense of inevitability. That's a word right? Of course it is :(.

Why is that, exactly? I couldn't say. But in everything there's that sense of losing my grip.

Looking through over a year's worth of unsorted photographs brought the full weight of how little control I've had on my life lately. Floating along, buffeted by surprises and choices made in the moment.

Heading somewhere, but don't know where. Don't really know how or why either. Should I? I'm not entirely sure.

Currently: tired
Listening to: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - White walls

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Book of Life vs A Tale of Living

It's been a while since I've read books that have come out quite recently, for some reason or another. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore was an exception to that, having been published just about a year or so ago. I finished reading it last night, quickest I've finished with a book in a while, and there was a curious lightness to the after-taste.

I don't recall reading particularly dark books of late, but somehow I kept imagining something worse was about to happen, betrayals, shocking ulterior motives or whatever :). Thankfully, nothing did. For a moment I thought that was a slight let-down. But then I figured, why not? Why not have a book that tells a story which is remarkable in the telling, but quite commonplace in the outcome. The journey had enough twists and turns to allow for an unspectacular ending.

I almost felt the book ended a good couple of chapters from the end, and the rest was merely some extra bits and pieces thrown in to keep you in the mood for a little bit longer :). I say that as a good thing, just so there is no misunderstanding!

The contrasts might have been a touch contrived, but they worked well! Dungeons and dragons amidst blue-skied San Francisco. A quiet, quick journey into dreams of immortality.

Feeling: let down by a long day
Listening to: Carly Rae Jepsen - Tug of war

Friday, 25 October 2013

Inbetween seasons

It snowed! It actually snowed last Monday! Then the 'heat wave' started, by which I mean that things warmed up to almost double digits, but not quite :). It did rain a fair bit, leaving everything rather damp and uninviting. If there was any doubt at all that I'd seen all there was to see of fall, it was quite effectively decimated.

So I got back to reading a little bit. Heinlein had been waiting, and once I started, I was quite quickly immersed back into the strangeness of the 'lunatic' language. Have I mentioned this earlier? No, I don't think I've written about The Moon is a Harsh Mistress at all. When I first started reading it, that language was one thing that took me by surprise, utterly dismayed as I was with the lack of an ending to Blackout.

It took me a few pages to realize that the strangeness was indeed part of the character of Man, and by extension the book, as it runs through the narrative. And that's the other thing, why on earth would Manuel be abbreviated to Man? It wouldn't would it? Only on the moon :).

Having only read one other book by the same author, I suppose I shouldn't have expected too many similarities. Insufficient data for a pattern and all that. But the surprise was a pleasant one. Since then I've started reading something by the name of Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore. A rather unusual one. But I've only just started, so I shall reserve judgement.

With the evenings getting longer and longer and the outdoors seeming less and less inviting, I'm beginning to get the feeling I might actually get around to reading a bit more regularly. At least till the proper snow arrives.

The one other thing worth mentioning would be Luther! I can't believe they had only fourteen episodes in all three seasons combined, but damn! I have been an Idris Elba fan for some time, and that just made things even better :D.

Of the multitude of films I've been watching though, nothing quite stands out much above general blah entertainment. Although The Family was quite a lot of fun. And Don Jon had its moments. Really looking forward to  Ender's Game next week though! Since I heard of the project, I've been wondering how that book could have ever been translated to film, I can't wait to find out!

Currently: briefly sunny
Listening to: Poliça - Spilling lines

Monday, 14 October 2013

Fall blazes

The temperature's hovering dangerously close to the zero mark these days. The weather sites predict that it'll fall to the wrong side before the week's over. It was particularly awesome then, that the weather decided to shake things up a little and present us with perfect blue skies and a particularly warm couple of afternoons over the weekend :).

We decided to go exploring a little, and turned out the leaves were turning into the flaming colours of fall!

The seasons change so quickly here, almost with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it rapidity, that I count myself quite fortunate to have not only caught a pretty nice display of the colours, but managed to enjoy it without freezing!

I must say, with the weather heading for winter fast, I'm looking forward to the snow. But seeing how proper snowboarding weather is still a long way away, it's going to be interesting to see how things work out in the mean time.

I keep telling myself the biking days are over for the year, but most mornings I continue to surprise myself by choosing the bike over the car while heading to work. I get the feeling that's not going to last for much longer :D.

I wonder if there'll be one more nice weekend so that there's one last hurrah for what has been an incredible summer of biking :).

Currently: snuggling by the heater
Listening to: Iggy Azalea - Change your life (feat T.I.)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


It's been raining a little lately. Especially at night. A thin sort of rain, more for ambience than anything else, it seems to me. Tiny drops trickling down the windscreen, only to be scattered off into the darkness by the slightly irregular arc of the automated wipers.

I suppose I have thought about this, but I can't really remember. It's as if I've wondered about this for so long, the thoughts have abbreviated themselves into abstractions. And that affords me the luxury of discovery without the burden of expectation.

My first car! Damn :).

Barely a week and I've run it over a hundred kilometres. Without even trying really, haven't had the time. I suppose it was always going to be easier logging miles on this one than on the bike :D.

I catch myself smiling in stray moments. Sweeping around a blind corner as the sun blinks from behind a not too distant hill. Streams of light down the highway in the dark. Quiet streets in the crisp, cold autumn afternoon sunshine.

I'm gonna have to get an extension on the insured miles :D.

Currently: looking forward to the first long drive
Listening to: Klangkarussel - Sonnentanz

Monday, 30 September 2013

Making time, buying time, spending time, losing time, never gaining time.

Wow! And another week gone. I have to say though, the week after a vacation isn't a lot of fun. It's a bit different from when you're doing rotations, 'cos that's more or less the deal, you get your time, and then you pay for it with the other time. This is not that. I should get used to it.

Was fun while it lasted though, the vacation :). Rental cars are good. Freedom. Drives are nice. Although I never did anything much over a couple of hundred miles. Catching up with people, also good. Unexpected meetings, even better.

Finally did the thirty-party :). Sort of. It's kinda entertaining to try and explain why a perfectly ordinary lifestyle feels so unusual. The first few times. Then you figure it might be a bit of a lost cause. It's a bit like one of those jokes where you had to be there.

Did get around to reading the book for this month. It was my suggestion too! And I am going to get so much shit for it :P. I mean, it was Connie Willis, so it was fairly entertaining, funny even. But there was always the sense of a build up. But that's one of those things that kinda only works for so long. And then when you get to the last page of the book, and realize that that's all it was, just build-up, with no end, it gets really annoying.

Thing is, I had not even the faintest idea that Blackout was part one of the two part Blackout/ All Clear double! Yeah, speaking of living in a bubble. But I was on a transatlantic flight when I ran out of words and sort of gaped at the thing for a while before frantically searching the Kindle, knowing fully well that I didn't have a copy of part II on it!!! I felt like screaming. I really did.

But then I started reading Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and that calmed me down some :). Unfortunately, that's still only half finished, and while I now have a copy of All Clear, I'm back to my usual ways of somehow making time evaporate mystifyingly from in front of my very eyes without realizing where it is all going.

It has also gotten very very cold in the mean time. You wouldn't think a week could make that much of a difference. But that's the thing. It was a little warmer than it should have been a couple of weeks ago, and now it's merely slightly colder than it should be, and that makes a world of difference.

Went out on a couple of bike rides nonetheless, with mixed success. Managed to explore some fascinating new terrain while getting reacquainted with some old routes. Also hit the limits of thermal protection provided by what I currently possess. That latter will have to be rectified before further explorations can be attempted, I think :).

Now if only one of these days when I wake up in the morning, I stop feeling like I could keep on sleeping for a few decades.

Currently:3... 2... 1..
Listening to: múm - Eternity is the wait between breaths