I went to the lovely Corbett Tiger Reserve last week. More detailed post on that a bit later (with pictures!), but I have temporary access to a scanner, so here’s two new comic strips, and the spiffy scans I promised earlier.

Clickyclick for larger size pictures:

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This second one is a bit old, but scanned only now:

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Another old one:

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I should probably create a separate page for the comics, but its a bit of work, so I’ll get around to it eventually. Till then, of course, I can shamelessly pass off these backlogs as new posts. Hooray for procrastination!

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Weekend Adventures 3

February 19, 2009

Quite an adventure-filled weekend, this one (no doubt spurred by my transitional employment status). I went and played some lawn tennis (comic on that misadventure soon), visited some odd places on a whim, read a great book, jumped up and down at the release of a new game, and hatched plans for the next weekend! Win all over.

I went to the Delhi Zoo, which felt the need to clarify, outside the crocodile enclosure that:

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Other ‘dangers’ that visitors needed to be informed about, included:

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Then, at the National Museum, they ahd an exhibition going called ‘Reflections of Indian Consciousness’, where I found this stunning, sinister sculpture from the 11th century:

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And finally, a rather unique alternative to the familiar ‘Beware of Dogs’ thief deterrent:

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It says 'Policemen live inside this complex'

#2 and #3

February 16, 2009

Apologies for the quality: lack to access to scanning facilities meant I had to rely on photographs, and my dust-loving Cellphone camera. 

Click for (unhelpful) bigger size versions – nice, spiffy scans as soon as possible, promise. 

 

 

Biting.

My friends have strange ways of showing affection. These include: Biting.

 

 

General flinging. Ultra Violence. (arrow point to 'Fast Moving Object')

General flinging. Ultra Violence. (arrow points to 'Fast Moving Object')

 

...and flinging Mishries*    (* I do this too!)

...and flinging Mishries* (* I do this too!)

 

 

 

I drew the next one for a friend who’s down with Chickenpox (get well soon, A!):

5

February 13, 2009

scott

Today is my last day at my first job.

I suppose the first line itself is an admission of failure on some part – something somewhere went wrong, obviously, for it to have to come to this. I keep switching between an overwhelming sense of relief at finally taking this step, and a gnawing sense of having made a stupid, stupid decision.

Even the people I talk to are divided: unconvinced and unsure until I steer their opinion towards justifying my own with some exaggerated hyperbole. ‘Do you know what they said when I asked them for help?’ ‘Can you believe the organization actually went ahead with this?’ etc etc. Not all of it is untrue, of course – but definitely amplified beyond their contexts.

Their argument is simple, direct and potent: ‘You’ve got a good gig going here.Why would you want to leave?’ My response begins with a ‘Err..Um…you see…’ and goes downhill thereon. I’ve used the rather meagre excuse of being unable to articulate my reasons quite a bit, and it needs to stop. I’ve been told that this general feeling of discomfort even in the face of an overwhelming positive surface-level experience is quite common in job-land, and that sometimes, you just have to move.

It’s not that simple for me, and contrary to what most people believe, it has been a rather difficult decision to make. I DO have a good..er.. gig going, and any inertia in my progress is most likely entirely my own fault and not my employer’s. I’ll admit I haven’t been overly frank with them, I’ve sullenly accepted most of my experiences here: both the fair and unfair ones. I haven’t complained to the bosses and powers-that-be, even though I’ve been asked rather directly to sometimes. But I did have one jarring moment of surprising frankness with my boss, when I told her that the organization…depressed me, in some manner.

I can’t attempt to pinpoint specific incidents, or draw inferences from sets of them: that would be pointless…but there is one…explanation I can offer for this.

I quit because I was lonely.

And I don’t say this in a frivolous manner. My employer is a lonely organization, priding itself in its aloofness from others of its kind – imperious with the knowledge that it doesn’t like to fraternize with these sort, thank you very much. My first few months there were devastatingly lonely in another way: I’m, till date, their youngest employee: and there was really no one I seemed to share any remote frame of reference with (My friends from college were largely the ONLY reason I stayed on – wouldn not have survived without them)

I did try, perhaps not hard enough, and found myself awkward and stumbling and unable to make conversation. My…juniority in ‘work experience’ also became a barrier. It struck me only when I fumbled, grasping at straws to get those elusive ‘exclusives’ my employer loved. My co-workers couldn’t understand what the problem was…their solutions to my convoluted ills were one phone call to a well-placed contact away. By the time I traversed the hierarchies of corporate communication and the corridors of bureaucracy, the story had passed, and interest waned. This became a vicious circle after a while. The learning curve I needed seemed to drop off in some places, and disappear altogether. Maybe I just couldn’t keep up.

But overall, I think I did reasonably well here. Sure, I spent quite a bit of time staring blankly at a computer screen, fed by a steady drip-feed of RSS subscriptions. I dodged deadlines often, whined about stories that didn’t interest me. I used company resources for personal work: shamelessly used a lot of p2p networks to read comics (Scott Pilgrim, ftw). Took a detour on assignment in Gurgaon to go visit a friend.

Suffered bouts of this strange sense of disconnection with work that was at odds with how they expected me to be (i.e an eager beaver) But I did decent work. I delivered some good stories, chased some pesky sources…even wrote a 1400-word piece from scratch overnight in an emergency situation (It remains one of the best I’ve written).

I sniggered at all the pretense corporatey-ness: the performance reviews, the culture, the stiff lingo of intra-office communication, the clear lines of command and control. It did become important catalyst for my decision – I emailed an old professor of mine for a bit of advice, and he told me to ‘beware the corporate straitjacket’.

It’s been challenging, difficult, and sometimes full of despair. I have to apologize to this little stretch of wall near the side staircase that leads to the canteen: I’ve kicked it way more times than it deserves. I’ve dreaded going to work on some days, and I became sullen and snappy for a brief, horrible period in between.

But I’ve also had some happy moments here, met some really interesting people, and had some unexpectedly brilliant conversations. In a larger set of circumstances, a lot of great stuff has been possible only because of being here. Maybe its harsh to contrast it like that – to make it look like a endlessly grey place with a few patches of colour. Or maybe it’s a fair assessment.

Either way.

kthxbai, I suppose.

I made a comic! And…no, that’s not the final title.

comic1

I hope to do this much more regularly, and with (hopefully) greater sophistication.

But i’m pleased with this as a start…the scanning process destroys what little nuance there is in the drawings – something I promise will improve once I get a Digital Tablet (so I can draw directly into Photoshop).

Shamelessly inspired by Tasha (and Jim’s Journal), but what the heck: it was incredible fun to make. What do you think?

Tsk Tsk

February 9, 2009

(Some people exaggerate.

They also leave out vital dramatis personae from the narrative. Especially ones who can provide an alternative, and corroborative version of things.)

So I went to Darjeeling and Nepal two weeks ago, over the republic day weekend.

The trip was excellent.

It started with a huge win, as I bumped into one Sitaram Yechury at Bagdogra airport –  where I put on my journalist mask, took out a notepad and a (non-functional) pen, and asked him a few questions about the Gorkhaland agitation.

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The TV media taking over

The banner holders also sang an awesome 'Red Salute' song on Yechury's appearance

The banner holders also sang an awesome 'Red Salute' song on Yechury's appearance- It went, approximately, 'Red Sa-lut Red Sa-lut/Com-rad Ye-chury/ Wellll-Come!'

I then ate at the (awesome) Hotel Hotel…:

...with attached Restaurant Restaurant.

...with attached Restaurant Restaurant.

…which can only be entered by crossing a chasm on a narrow plank,  then wall-running up a stone platform and clearing a barbed wire fence:

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Then I found a place G would have loved and frequently frequented:

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…and saw deadly, sharp, curved blades being advertised thusly:

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I spent a happy few hours here, reading up on the city and the Gorkhaland movement:

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…and wished I could meet the intriguing:

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The problem with the traditional one-day sight-seeing tour in Darjeeling, and indeed any hill station, isn’t so much the places themselves, its what they’re forced to do to deal with a flood of reckless and irresponsible tourists.

This is what you’ll mostly see if you ever attempt one of them, and its enormously saddening:

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I also took my first ever step into a foreign country!

Hooray!

Hooray!

Clearing Out my Outbox

February 8, 2009

I’m terrible at Twitter. 

The problem isn’t the concept: I find the idea of SMS length updates quite comforting, and my twitter stream occasionally sees prodigious spurts of activity. But I guess I haven’t quite reached the critical mass both in terms of network and breadth of updates to make it…compulsive. 

Very few of my close friends use Twitter, which kind of destroys the variety in the amount of things I would tweet about, which in turn destroys most of the unique need for using the service in the first place – echoes of 1999-00, when Z would insist I email him even when the phone worked perfectly well.

The problem is, a lot of my 140 character spontaneity is directed at specific people, and very rarely at the world at large. Said people are spread out among various modes of communications, twitter rarely figuring here. I find the most convenient to be SMS, though a lot of these messages rarely get sent…either out of embarrassment (most of the time), loss of timeliness (sometimes) or both. 

Now these hog vital SMS memory space – my rather basic phone has space for about 80 in total – so what better way to permanently record these little thngs than in a blog post?

Think of as a monthly Twitter digest that never was tweeted. 

Here goes:

1. “Mandi House is a happy place. You get the best Aloo Jeera in the world, there are trees everywhere, and HPMC Apple Juice is only 6 rupees a glass!”

This is all true. This was when I was I was wandering around the area before the start of a play at the annual National School of Drama fest. 

2. “Watching someone rooting around a MCD dustbin with great determination, much to the bemusement of the large crowd now gathering around her. “

It turned out they were looking for a cellphone, which was in a cover along with some packets of chips that had been thrown into the dustbin. 

3. Rain! Hooray! Wake up, you!

Rain is good. Especially unexpected, friendly rain. Like this particular rain, which had the awesomeness of light showers with none of the weighty overwrought messiness of a heavy spell of dampness.

However, I figured all this would escape the somnolent friend I was trying to wake up at 6 in the morning, so this one was never sent. 

4. I find the rather unsubtle hindu religious propaganda on display at the Rajghat book store quite disturbing.

I did. The Rajghat bookstore sells, apart from the works of Gandhi, self-help, hokey religious texts and what appeared to be the Hindi equivalents of digests of Bhakti magazine. 

5. Ask the iPod oracle!

With an eclectic enough iPod…putting questions to it and pressing ‘Shuffle’ for answers in the form of song titles is surprisingly hilarious. It once told us to ‘Sleep the Clock Around’ on a saturday, and pronounced ‘Libertarianism’ as the reason behind a friend’s difficult behaviour. 

6. I’m watching the unluckiest game of Brick ever played. Poor guy has been trying to hit one brick for the last 15 minute. 

…and it was level 1!

I'm sure you sympathize.

I'm sure you sympathize.

7. How do tomatoes behave so obediently here?

I don’t remember why I wrote this. I’m not sure I want to. 

9. Patricia Cromwell, Fern Michaels, Sandra Brown, Catherine Coulter

The four best marketed authors at Daryaganj. They’re everywhere!

10. The Wind Up Bird Chronicles of Narnia- being the adventures of a man with an existential crisis who descends down a well to find another world, population: One. A ravenous and rather unfriendly lion. 

My contribution to the ‘literary mashups‘ meme. 

11. Just had the most awkward lunch ever. I stared pointedly at my toes, ate my food with admirable concentration, and in a rare moment of social bravado – launched an impassioned critique of a book being discussed, which no one seemed to hear. 

…the book was White Tiger. The lunch, which was excellent, was at a place called Mosaic in Connaught Place. 

12. If I die on this trip, which is seeming increasingly likely, I would like it to be known that ‘Pardesi Girl’ was not my choice of music. 

This was in Darjeeling, in fading light and a wobbly Chevrolet Tavera careening down the roads at unquestionably illegal speeds. 

Pigeon Fishing

February 3, 2009

Yesterday, I went pigeon fishing.Well, I tried to atleast – I’m not very good at it yet.

(Actually, the more accurate title would be ‘pigeon-intimidating’ or ‘messing-with-pigeon-gastronomy’ , depending on your skill level. I’ll explain.)

To pigeon fish, you’ll need:

a) A Balcony, with robust pigeon traffic in the general neighbourhood

b) A strong rope.

c) Churpis – to double as weapon, bait and prank mechanism.

Churpis are remakable things. They exist as thick, solid chunks of dried yak/buffalo cheese, and beat even cockroaches in their ability to survive apocalypses. In the event of one, and this is good advice right here, I’d be inclined to stock up on these more than tinned food and boxed supplies.

See, in an apocalypse – what you’re looking for is the advantage of multiple-purpose. Speed and agility could be important, and its vital not to get burdened down with too many items to carry. This is where the Churpi is indispensable – it is a blunt weapon of reasonable effetiveness, source of food that will not go bad, and general purpose lever in case of any physics puzzles you might encounter (and you will. All the games about the apocalypse predict you will)

So, pigeon fishing. The first step is to assemble the tools of the trade…

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From left: Screwdriver, hammer and stick of Churpi.

…and carve out a nice little irregular chunk of Churpi for bait. Now, tie it around one end of a rope and tie the other end around the end of a balcony, like so:

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Now sling this combination over the balcony and gently lower it down to where the pigeons are blissfully lounging.

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Now, most pigeons will run away at the first sight of your rock-like bait slowly descending from the heavens, but it is possible to catch a few unawares. Alternatively, you could leave it suspended for a while, and sneakily yank it as soon as a curious pigeon attempts to nibble on it.

In my 10 minute run – I managed to startle 3 pigeons, wildly swing at one (and miss), and upset atleast one pigeon-stomach (though, frankly, that was the pigeon’s fault and not mine)

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon. More practice will happen next Sunday.

Weekend Adventures 2

February 2, 2009

This weekend, I saw the Metro’s equivalent of the BSOD:

I know as a fact that the Metro uses Windows. This, then should come as no surprise.

I know as a fact that the Metro uses Windows. This, then should come as no surprise.

found some intriguing:

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and pamphletered, demonstrated and sloganeered for peace:

M putting finishing touches on one of the posters

M putting finishing touches on one of the posters

The police contingent deputed to babysit us.

The police contingent deputed to babysit us.