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Archive for January, 2012

The art of writing

January 27, 2012 4 comments

The past few months have been fairly demanding for me – so much in fact, that I am unable to post as often as I used to, as often as I would love to.

But then I have managed to churn out a few posts in the last couple of months, haven’t I? However, while thinking about them has been a satisfying exercise (as always), somehow the writing part was not that good.

Usually, I spend at least a few hours, if not more, when writing a post. My first draft gets revised into a second, a third – on an average there are at least 10 edits to each post.

And yet, in these past two months, I have hardly written anything that required more than three edits. This does not mean that the quality of my writing has improved drastically, as if by magic. Instead, what I think is happening is that my writing does not turn out to be as beautiful to me as I would like it to be.

But then this will not be forever – there will come a time when I will have some time on my hand at least to write proper posts. And until that time comes, I will wait.

Eight months is not a long time.

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Choices

January 22, 2012 Leave a comment

1. A small cottage somewhere in the woods. A nice garden full of flowering plants, and a river nearby for when you feel like messing around with a boat. Of course, if you want to meet someone all you have to do is to plop into the boat and row until you reach the nearest village.

2. A house on the side of a hill, with a magnificent view from every window. A winding road climbing down the hill to take you to civilization.

3. A sailboat (at least 20 ft), with a cabin below and a spare engine just in case. You could sail wherever you wanted to, and even pick up passengers when you wanted company.

4. A small house with a small garden in some non-descript village along the Konkan coast. A sign outside that welcomes people driving by that are thirsty for a good cup of coffee.

Which one of these would you choose, dear Reader, to spend the rest of your life?

Alea iacta est

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

The Rubicon is a shallow river that starts in the Apennine mountains and drains into the Adriatic sea. In ancient Rome, it was like a Line of Control – any promagistrate (or army general) who crossed the river at the head of his troops automatically lost his right to command – such was Roman law.

On 10 January 49 BC, General Julius Caesar led one legion – the Legio XIII Gemina – and stopped at the river’s edge to contemplate: whether to take off his helmet and cross the river alone, or to lead his troops on and thus initiate civil war. In the words of historian Frances Titchener:

We know from [Caesar’s journals] that Caesar is not taking this lightly. He knows that if he marches on Rome with his armies, then he is a public enemy, and that he will either have to win, or die. For a Roman patrician like Julius Caesar there is no life without military service; there is no life without service to the state …┬áhe does realise that if he goes back to Rome, he would be killed. At this time the northernmost border of the Roman territory in Italy is the River Rubicon. Once someone crosses the River Rubicon, he’s in Roman territory. A general must not cross that boundary with his army – he must do what the Romans call lay down his command, which means surrender his right to order troops, and certainly not be carrying weapons.

Caesar and his armies hesitate quite awhile at this river while Caesar decides what to do, and Caesar tells us that he informs his soldiers that it’s a little tiny bridge across the river, but once they cross it they’ll have to fight their way all the way to Rome, and Caesar is well aware that he’s risking not just his own life, but those of his loyal soldiers, and he might not win …

Finally he makes a decision, it’s time to go … he says ‘Roll the dice’: ‘Alea jacta esto’.

Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and the die was cast.

A snowy day

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

I was in for a surprise when I got up today morning – light snow had been predicted for the morning, but the ground was actually covered with a fairly heavy blanket of white.

After dunking the usual cuppa, I got ready and stepped out for the bus to work. Apparently, the snow had taken everyone by surprise – the roads were not plowed, and I had to walk through about 2 inches of snow. As I waited for the bus, my right toe started hurting. Before I could think of anything, a friend who was driving by picked me up and I was warm again. By the time we reached the Light Rail Station, I realized what had happened – snow had leaked into my shoe.

This was my third pair of shoes in just over a year in Denver – the soles of the last two shoes had cracked within months of buying them. In hindsight, I think that was because I purchased cheapies here. Back in India, I have always paid a lot more for shoes, but then I know which are the better brands; which shoes will be a “value for money” purchase.

After reaching office, I took off my shoe and examined it – the sole had started to come apart near the toes. It was not a lost cause – a spot of glue would easily fix them. However, considering my past experience, I don’t think that this quick fix will last beyond a couple of months – I will have to buy new shoes anyways.

But then that’s all right. A couple of months from now, I will be back in India.