Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cracker Pooling is Cool...

Now I'm not very pro-crackers on Diwali ( ).I think there has to be a better way of celebrating than having cordite hanging around the air for days afterward.

But I've noticed that as the night progresses and I see everyone around me bursting crackers, I start feeling like I made a mistake by not buying crackers. I guess it's the boys-will-be-boys reaction of exploding things that kicks in. In fact every Diwali since I've reduced bursting crackers I always go back in with a slightly unsatisfied and not feeling particularly happy for taking a stand and helping in reducing pollution.

But this time will be different! This time six people are getting together to buy crackers. Now the logic is simple - pooling resources of four separate families to buy crackers means that it gets way more economical, we're all able to buy ALL the crackers we've ever wanted to and of course getting together on Diwali would be fun as well (especially as this will be only the second Diwali in my life that I won't be spending at home. And the first time in 2006, all of us outcasts got so depressed by not being at home that we drove to Goa to recuperate!).

I didn't go to buy the crackers but seeing the HUGE horde of crackers that the other poolers got in two bulging boris (hindi term for BIG sacks in which cement and such commodities come) was awesome. Everyone indulged all their childhood fantasies and bought every strange cracker possible that had been refused by their parents when they went cracker shopping as children. So we have a 125 rockets one-after-the-other launcher, screaming devils, so many roman candles that I couldn't count, sack full of assorted bijli bombs, hydrogen (?) bombs, ladi, sparklers, chakris, individual rockets... I mean the list is huge. And we were all so excited with the crackers that we actually set them out and had a photo session around them. I don't have the photos right now but will put them up here once I get them.

Its awesome and I can imagine that Diwali is going to be spectacular. Though I will miss Mom's Chhole Bhature that have become a sort of tradition for Diwali dinner in my home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Name's Bond...Ruskin Bond

I really like Ruskin Bond's writing. He has that simple way of writing things with such infectious enthusiasm that you end up reading with a little smile playing on your face - from what he's written and as you picturize this perky old hill man sitting around a campfire regaling you with the story in his own enthusiastic manner.

I'm reading 'Tales from the Open Road' by him right now and I wonder how one can put in the essence of a scene so completely and well without resorting to long winded adjectives and complicated words. This is coming from the way I write. I just get this urge to use a word whose meaning is exactly what I want it to be, however complex the word may be. A few people may even think that it is some sort of deliberate ploy to use big words to showcase my vocabulary, but its not true. I just get the urge that the word has to mean exactly what I want to say. I've read that some famous author (I forget his/her name)sometimes took an entire day thinking of which word to use and would be a satisfied person if he added one word to his manuscript in the day. Fortunately my affliction is not so serious or I would still be writing my first post here!

Courtesy: Wikipedia

But Mr. Bond writes in very simple words. But the words and the imagery they conjure up are so strong and retentive that even years later I tend to recognize phrases and whole paragraphs of his writing. For instance, in this book itself Mr. Bond has reused swathes of writing from his other works (Room on the Roof, Rusty etc.). This book is essentially a travelogue in which he tells us about his walks around the hills and (sometimes though rarely)plains of North India. And I could remember them almost word to word from when I had read these other books years ago. Thats the the retainability any author would love to have.

Another thing about him is that I totally understand why the man leads a simple life in Mussourie (I always thought he lived in Dehradun, but the great Wikipedia says its Mussourie - so Mussourie it is) inspite of being a celebrated author. He gets sheer bliss from the simple things in life - the morning sweet milky tea at a chai wala in foggy winters (can you just visualize a curving path with trees on both sides with drifting fog floating across a kaccha path as you sit on a road milestone in your sweaters and muffler sipping sweet tea as the chai wala primes his kerosene stove? I can), sighting a rare bird, meeting his old friend and nature loving banker, long lonely contemplative walks amongst forests, the genuine joy at meeting simple folks and listening to their tales, the excitement of children running away from school to go sailing in ships and glaciers. All these joys find there way into his writing. And because there is a person, away from the machinations and norms of society, who actually craves for these simple joys (and not for cars and houses and status and external respect)his stories resonate with us. Long after we've read them.

Simplicity is Joy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Own Byline!

Ladies and gentlemen your favourite blogger got his own byline! My second article on the Madrid Masters semifinal has been credited to me :)

Check it out:

Notice the 'SWAPNIL B' tucked just under the headline. I got my byline :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Look Ma, I'm a Tennis Correspondent...

Yes, I am now a part-time tennis correspondent for Yay! Someone is going to pay me to write about tennis. How perfect is that!

My first article reporting on the quarter final of the Madrid Masters tournament has been published on the website ( The article's headline is "Simon wins a Cliffhanger, Nadal up next!".

So all of you, go to the website increase the hits on the website and yes, do put in your comments (Only about the article, no personal stuff please - you can put those here). AND if you don't like the article DON'T tell me, ok?

Update (19 Oct) : Article on semi-final also published :

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lo-osely Speaking...

Ladies and gentlemen,boys and girls, children of all ages, I shall today enlighteno you about one of my pet peeves.

Couple of things before that.

Call me neanderthal but I like any language to be written in the correct way only. Using 'u' instead of you, 'wud' instead of would is generally quite irritating to me. But even though I may grimace at it, I have made my peace with these common words. So much so that I can sometimes be found actually using them, especially when I'm chatting with someone. My aversion to abridged words also means that text messages are more like essay type writing. The number of texts running into two (or more!) messages that I write must be some sort of record. But still I like my long proper english text messages. However, when I receive shortened messages I sometimes feel that I may be moving a generation too slow. Half the time I have trouble figuring out what exactly has been written (and and no punctuation at all! How do you figure where one sentence is ending and the next beginnning? Don't they realize that the entire meaning of the sentence may change??!). And the other half I'm seething at the murder of the language.

But no matter. Even this I shall forgive, reluctantly. But my biggest pet peeve which has me literally tearing my hair out and gnashing my teeth is something different. And its so universal that I've seen it in client presentations, other presentations, in the writings of some of my favourite writers and bloggers, in newspapers - hell, every freakin' where.

It's the wrong usage of lose and loose. So 'I hope you didn't loose', instead of being a comforting expression of concern from a friend becomes a teeth gnashing, hair pulling, irritation inducing line. Aaargghh its as irritating as when you run your nails on a blackboard, or slide a spoon's edge hard against a steel vessel. And I'm not kidding about the widespread misuse of these two words. In fact only this morning I saw this in a presentation. Maybe I notice this a lot more than usual because I seriously get pissed off with this error.

Come on people, is it so difficult to understand? If some one has won a game against you - you LOSE. And if your jeans are falling off, they're LOOSE.

How difficult is it to get it? Jesus, I'll surely loose my mind at this rate...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ahem, knock knock...

Yes, I have been out. Forgive me.

Life seems to have overtaken me a bit since after i've come back from the Techno Trip 2. And though this has been a culmination of a number of weeks' thoughts and introspection, change and uncertainity are never the most comfortable of companions. Hopefully I shall soon be in a mood to write cheery funny posts here but right now I'm not getting anything.

Please don't think that I'm morose or depressed - I'm in good shape and nothing too serious has happened that would justify this tone. I'm just in a slightly self involved state where I don't feel like sharing too much with anyone.

And yes, some very interesting and exciting things are happening which would cheer up everyone reading this. But i'd rather not talk about them now or I'll run them down in the mood I am.

Sorry for the cryptic post, but i don't talk about work related stuff here

As for the exciting stuff - read tennis + writing and think on those lines :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Techno Trip Two...

As a vast majority of my readers know, the best trip I've ever been to was to Manali in my final year of engineering college. (This was the 'Techno-trip' and comprised of people who had been involved with organizing an event called Technodrome in college. I made some very good friends while working for this event.) In fact it had such an impact on me that I've actually written two posts about it. Here you go: and .

As a minor digression, do you sometimes go back and read some stuff you've written earlier and absolutely cringe at how badly you've written. And then cringe some more that you thought it was a epitome of awesome writing at the time of writing it? It happens a lot to me. And these two posts are definitely prime examples of this happening. I couldn't bear to read these two posts in their entirety.

Anyway, coming to the crux of this post, we're doing the Techno Trip again!!

This idea came in when I was visiting Delhi over my birthday in August. Sitting together at R's place PS, R and I decided that we HAVE to do another trip in which all of us from the original Techno trip will go on one more trip. Now i'll be frank with you, i wasn't expecting this plan to go anywhere. Getting 5-6 people from across the country to come together, get leaves and generally take a break from their lives is a bit difficult. But the desire to relive the DCE trip days was too strong to resist. In just over a month the dream is being realised!

Ok so the plan post all iterations (which included Mumbai, Murud, Jazeera, Kashid, Coorg, Ooty, Goa and even Singapore) is that we meet at the Delhi airport tonight and drive to Kasauli (350 odd kilometers from Delhi) ( )and vacation there till Saturday after which we go back to our dreary lives with some more glorious memories.

Its been so long that the entire gang has been together without any timelines or other engagements that it seems a bit unreal that this plan is actually going through.

I wouldn't like to raise your hopes, but there is some talk about making this an annual affair. I shall update you as more details trickle in...