Those were my exams and these are my plans

My last endsem is tomorrow, and that’s of a non-credit course. My state of mind right now is pretty much summed up by “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”.

My endsems have gone better than any of the other evaluations thus far in the semester. I sat down, girded my loins, and finally devoted time to something other than the CAT. Tomorrow, they’ll be over.

So here are my plans for the vacattion.

  1. Start studying for the CAT and the XAT again. I’ve got fifty more days now to study maths, and improving my quant score by about six marks could make me a lot more secure in the admissions process.
  2. Meet people. Friends and relatives. I realised this Diwali that I haven’t seen most of my extended family for ages, and winter should be a good time to remedy that.
  3. Movies! Kill Bill, Pirates of the Caribbean, and possibly Kal Ho Na Ho. Yes, it has Shah Rukh Khan, who is evil. But on the other hand, he dies before the interval. It should be the cinematic event of the decade.
  4. Get my driver’s license. I’m finally comfortable in a car, and after three years of renewing a learner’s, it’s finally time for me to give the test and get a permanent license. I only have until the thirty-first, so better do this quick.
  5. Update Project Sonali. I’ve neglected the programming of this site too long. Before the New Year, I should have RSS feeds and a digest for email in place. I’d also like to implement the cool crossreferencing Sacha has on her wiki. And she does it with plaintext files. Wow. Oh, and I should update my blogroll, too,
  6. Second Language- if there’s a weekend course for Spanish or German on offer at Inlingua which winds up by April, that would be a good thing to take.
  7. Transcription- I think I should do my bit for literature by transcribing a book for Project Gutenberg. I think Carry On, Jeeves is in the public domain, and untranscribed so far.

And that’s that.

Transportation

I’m back.

I have not been writing not because my ‘Net connection is down, nor because my life is devoid of interest. I have not been writing because I have been lazy.

So I’m making up for it with this post. Today we discuss transportation.

After four years of being on a learning curve, I have finally learned how to drive. I’m still not perfect- I smashed the Palio’s left rear indicator light cover the other day when I went down the wrong road in South Extension, but I’m doing pretty well. Smashing a car is an abberation now, not routine. I can drive. Whee.

However, I will say this. The independence that comes with having a car and being able to drive is not absolute.

For the past four or five years, I’ve been using public transportation in Delhi- DTC buses and autorickshaws. Acutorickshaws charge exorbitantly, so when you’ve got the time and you’re on a bus route, DTC is better.

Here’s the problem. DTC buses are slow, you don’t always get them, and they don’t always go where you want them to go. For example there’s no decent bus route from Safdarjung Enclave, where I live, to Green Park, where I buy comics, have my hair cut, and buy books.

Enough with detail. Getting down to the nitty gritty, here is the point which I wish to make.

The DTC bus gives you freedom of movement- but only to the places where it actually goes. I can go to Vasant Vihar, South Extension, Connaught Place, and Saket. I cannot go to Greater Kailash or Green Park.

Having a car also gives you significant freedom of movement- but only to places where you can park. And I have to go to a large number of places where parking is a major headache. Green Park, Basant Lok, South Extension. Heck, South Extension isn’t just a headache, it’s impossible.

So, the lesson I draw from this is that absolute freedom of movement is conferred only by motorcycles. They’re cheap, they’re fast, they’re fuel efficient, and you can park them without hassle.

My New Year’s Resolution, then, is to learn how to drive a motorcycle. And this time, do it within six months.

Chaos Theory

What I’m driving at is that Providence seems to look after the chumps of this world; and, personally, I’m all for it.– PG Wodehouse

While this Fillet is late, better late than never, as the poet said. I forget which poet, but I’m sure a poet did say it. Right. Let’s get the extraneous bits out of the way.

About three weeks ago, Business Today held the all-India inter B-school competitive festival, Acumen 2003. Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai was the B-school that won the business quiz.

One of the two guys on the LIBA team was my senior from school, Anahat. Hence the PG Wodehouse quote about chumps at the beginning of this post.

You see, Anahat is- or at any rate, was- a chump. In all kindness, one cannot call him anything else. While one can certainly appreciate his chumpitude and even enjoy it, one cannot deny it. After all, this is a guy whose previous claim to fame was running naked through Vasant Vihar with Joytan. Oh, and while he was involved in juvenile dramatics as the assistant director of the Class 9 play- The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Zubin and Sahil, he used to freak Zubin out by eating the plastic tubing in the auditorium chairs. Once the play was over, he would just eat Zubin’s ham sandwiches, which would annoy Zubin even more. Oh, and he once scored zero in a computer quiz, but had the whole auditorium in splits by replying “The EE stands for Exterminate Everybody, the rest is just a terminating character.” when asked “What is the significance of the phrase EEC369 in the game Quake?”.

You get my point. There was never a dull moment around Anahat. He would do fun, invigorating things. But, nevertheless, the things a chump would do.

Which is why Anahat’s recent accomplishment is so astounding. I mean, here is a confirmed chump going off and winning a national quiz. And he’s cleaned up, he has- the first prize is a full scholarship to Summer School at Middlesex.

Why do I mention this? Because it suddenly makes the PG Wodehouse quote at the top so much more relevant. And I approve of real life resembling a Wodehouse book, because that means a happy ending for everyone.

And that’s all I have to say.

Chocolate II

In my earlier Fillet about chocolate, I had mentioned in passing that while American chocolate is big, it isn’t good. Sure, there’s lots of it and it comes in large economy sizes. If you ever want to get toothache by eating lots of chocolate without spending too much, the United States is the place to be. On the other hand, if you want to indulge yourself in delicious, flavourful chocolate, go get a bar of German chocolate. Or Swizz. Or Italian. Surprisingly, even Australian or Thai are up to standard. But not American.

Which is bizzare (or is it spelt bizarre?) on the face of it. After all, it isn’t as if Americans don’t know what good chocolate is. For well over a decade, my mum has been baking cakes out of a recipe book by Diana Dalsass, an American lady who, I am sure, would shudder at the thought of cakes without chocolate. And good chocolate at that. Half the introduction deals with how to proportion butter and chocolate so that the chocolate spreads evenly through the batter. Only my brother is as obsessive, and in his case it’s about spreading butter on toast- which is nowhere near as important.

So it’s not as if Americans don’t care about the chocolate they eat. And yet American chocolates are crap. This is befuddling.

And this week, Bill Bryson told me why this is so.

If you have not already read Bryson’s book Notes From a Big Continent, I suggest you run out and get a copy as soon as possible. It’s brilliant. In one of seventy eight essays in the book, he explains why American chocolates are crap- because all the candy manufacturers compete on price and dilute the taste until nobody can possibly say it’s too strong. He also elaborates on the joy of having a garbage disposal unit, how Americans refuse to walk anywhere, why Americans are stupid despite producing most of the world’s new research, and why Americans have no sense of humour. To make up for bitching about America and the Americans in seventy six essays, he also slips in two pieces on how gloriously beautiful North Hampshire is, and how friendly the people there are.

The focus of this post has slipped away from chocolate to Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Big Continent, and there’s a reason for this. Be patient.

One of the nicest essays in NFABC is the one in which Bryson describes watching the basketball games at Dartmouth College, which is a walk down from his home. He says that the Dartmouth College basketball games are free of the rampant commercialism that affects American sports, that they’re nailbiters, and that the Dartmouth players play for the love of the game.

He also compliments the “endearingly nerdy Dartmouth band” that plays tunes like the Hawaii Five-Oh theme during halftime.

Now, here is the reason the focus of this post has shifted.

Checking my website stats, it turns out that one of the top visitors to aadisht dot net is an American desi- I don’t know if he’s an ABCD or an FOB- called Shounak Simlai from Dartmouth College. And Googling further, we find that- drumroll, please, Billy- he’s in the Dartmouth College marching band, playing the didgideroo.

So, I write a W-Fillet about India’s Third World Mentality as measured by the size of it’s chocolates, which leads to me wondering why American chocolate is awful, which is answered by a bloke who likes the Dartmouth College Marching Band, which just happens to have a didgiderooist who reads the Fillets.

How’s that for the fundamental interconnectedness of all things?

Eat Healthy, Think Better

This is not a Britannia ad. It is actually a post about Eating Healthier. Thinking Better, we shall see later.

Last week, I was sick. My lips were cracked and dry, I had a cold (and still do), and I had (oh agony of agonies!) constipation.

This week, I’m better. The cracked lips have been taken care of with grape flavoured lip wax. I still have the cold, but it’s not that bad. And the constipation is a fading memory. I attribute this to eating better.

Now, eating better does not refer to the amazing pineapple and jalapeno pizza I had on Sunday- that was eating well. Eating better means that right now, there are three bananas and quite a few carrots lying in my hostel room. My fibre requirements are met by the carrots and supplemented by the bananas. The bananas also provide me with vitamins, though at the moment I cannot recall which ones.

At twenty rupees for a dozen bananas, and ten rupees for a kilogram of carrots, this is an economical diet that I can keep up all through the exams until it gets too repetitive. Fourteen days shouldn’t be too much, though. And, as far as food processing goes, all I have to do is wash the carrots under the tap, and peel the bananas. In this respect, I am much better off than Sacha, whose adventures with microwave and sacuepan you can follow at http://sacha.free.net.ph/notebook/wiki/CookOrDie.php.

Did I mention I have exams coming up? Well, I do. Fear not, though, I will be home again in just over two weeks. Then, to quote Asim, I shall boogie, darnit.

Until then, toodles.