I am amused by people who say they have no dreams. When even animals dream, how can people not? An evil thought comes about subjecting such people to dream deprivation, if only to advance scientific understanding.
I dream both in color as well as in black and white. As with most people, I have recurrent dream topics – school/college journal submission/examination, flying, fast trains, accidents/disaster, etc. But most of my dreams are pretty straightforward and predictable. A college friend of mine had dreams with distorted metaphysics. Once he lived in a world where consciousness and physical bodies were randomly exchanged and he spent dreaming that his body was searching for his consciousness and vice versa.
I have often dreamt of my blogger friends. I once received Krish Ashok at Chennai when he was about to arrive from abroad. After he came, we had some interesting experiences negotiating with rickshaw drivers in Chennai. In another one, Ashok and I were at a conference-cum-exhibition, and we were discussing the latest software web trends. I and Nita have once received a group of tourists from China, and we were their tour guides in the Mumbai-Pune region. I remember being amazed by how Nita was impressing them with statistic after statistic, fact after fact, about Indians. More recently, I was explaining to my wife how Rambodoc is going to monetize his SixPackDoc blog by adding ads and selling services. See? Straightforward and predictable.
Nita had once commented, ‘Born to fly – these words seem to be entrenched in your heart’, and that shows. I have come very close to fulfilling this dream when I para-glided in the Himalayas. In my dreams, I don’t need no paraglider! An interesting observation in my numerous flying dreams is that if I hesitate and doubt my ability to fly, I can’t take off. It is only when I do so with full conviction, that I am able to successfully take off. I have flew several times over several areas of Mumbai, Pune, San Diego, and San Francisco.
As dreams are connected with long-term memory, my ‘home’ in my dreams is still the place I grew up in Mumbai, even though I left it 12 years back. Dream incorporation is also pretty common with me, where doorbells or ringtones become assimilated in the dream sequence. I’m a déjà vu addict – I always try to predict what’s going to happen next, but I fail every time. I used to talk a lot in my sleep when young, and there is only one reported incident when I went sleepwalking!
A couple of unusual dreams come to mind. One was a nightmare. During an examination, my fountain pen began to leak. And surprisingly, it began to leak in red (I always wrote in black)! Aghast, I got up and the red trail began following me all around. I ran out of the classroom, outside on the roads, where I realized that the trail of red was not ink but blood. Gasping for water, I reached for my water bottle, only to find it contained blood. Panicked, I decided to rush home, managed to reach VT station in Mumbai (it will always remain VT for me), where there were many other people all drenched in blood to varying degree.
In an other recent dream, I was telling my wife that I thought that I was not really myself. Me, as I am today, was just a concoction, an illusion, role-playing a script written by someone else, Matrix-style. And being aware of this made me feel very lighter, since there was nothing I needed to take seriously in life. I was waiting for the day when the director says “Cut”, and I snap back to my real, original, self.
But the best part of my dreaming is that I am fortunate to be a lucid dreamer. Though not as successfully as in my younger days, I am still able to do it sometimes. Controlling your dream script is a fantasy come true. Now don’t ask me what I write in that script!
I have been chosen to contribute to MakeUseOf.com on a trial basis. I have loved MUO since a long time, and I am eagerly looking forward to writing about “Cool Websites, Software and Internet Tips”.
MakeUseOf.com has 54K+ subscribers, and is part of PC Magazine’s “Top 50 Blogs”.
This is my first foray into professional writing since 1996. Wish me luck!
PS: Do you like the new About Myself?
Nita had tagged me almost a year back for revealing my quirks related to watching movies. I thank her for the opportunity very much, as this is yet-another-close-to-my-heart topic!
- I have watched more movies in restricted cinema halls as a member of film clubs and in film festivals than in public cinema halls.
- I guess I do not make a good movie-watching companion in the usual sense. I am totally unresponsive to any communication during the movie. When my family or friends turn to look at me and talk during a movie, I get irritated because I don’t want them to miss even a single frame.
- I almost never persuade others to watch films that I like. In my younger days, I used to, but after repeated disappointments, I became wiser.
- Watching opening and closing credits is almost like a religious ritual for me. I avoid going to cinema theatres where early risers are likely to block the view of the end credits. In such circumstances, I prefer sitting in the front rows. This partly stems from my association with a few close friends who work in behind-the-scenes roles as assistant directors, music directors, producers, etc. Only partly, because this is similar to books, where I read each page of the critical acclaim, publishing history – including all the edition information, the ISBN catalogue details, printing information, etc.
- The only time I have left a movie in-between was when I and my girlfriend were watching an old black and white Japanese film on the horrors of Hiroshima. I didn’t feel like being Seinfeld with Schindler’s List, so we politely made our exit after we discovered what the movie was about.
- In Mumbai (then Bombay), I was the sole (illegal) under-18 member of a leading film society, the Prabhat Chitra Mandal. PCM’s Mr. Nandgaonkar had personally screened me, and after an hour-long chat about films by great directors, he had no qualms to accept my application.
- The most intense cinematic experience in my life was during the screening of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at the NFAI in Pune. The hall was not only packed, there was no space to stand in the aisles! Yet at the poignant climax towards the end (no spoilers), each and every member of the audience was in a world of their own. You could not hear a pin drop, because there was not a single pin dropping. The audience stopped breathing for a few moments as if that would disturb the moment.
- I almost always like to check out reviews and critics’ opinions before I watch a film – often to decide if I’m going to watch it, and if yes, to know what I’m going to pay attention to in terms of film appreciation.
- I once guided Helen to her seat in a screening. She had left the hall during the intermission and was hesitant about her place when she returned. She was sitting directly in the row in front of us, and I obliged. Her presence, demeanor, and personality was that of a queen!
- I sometimes watch great films again, focusing specifically on one aspect of the film-making. For example, I will watch Charulata for studying the acting, then for studying the camera work, once for the direction and editing, and yet again solely for the sets and art decoration. There are a handful of films I have watched multiple times this way, some Ray, some Kurosawa, and some others.
- Maybe because of the type of films I enjoy watching, they stay with me for a long time. I cannot watch one film after another. I like long meaningful discussions about the film afterwards. The longest ‘hangover’ I had after watching a film was when I watched the uncensored Bandit Queen in Berlin.
There! I trust you will not easily find a more quirky movie-buff than me!
How much can Artificial Intelligence learn from your writing? Your gender? Your MBTI personality type? Can someone find out such things about you from your writing?
GenderAnalyzer tries to guess the gender of the author. From over 6000+ votes on the site, it appears to have correctly guessed the gender 58% of the time. An Unquiet Mind’s homepage rated almost gender neutral:
Since these services do not crawl web pages, they only use the page you specify as their input. So, to get more credible results, use larger sources for input. An easy way to do this with your WordPress blogs is to specify your favorite tag/category URL. So since a lot of my posts have the ‘India’ tag, giving http://mahendrap.wordpress.com/tag/india gave a lot more content to analyze, and hence came up with a more accurate assessment.
Typealyzer takes the text from a URL you specify and classifies it according to MBTI personality types. It can be fun! Here are An Unquiet Mind’s results:
It is important to remember that this purports to classify the writing style of the author, not the author’s personality type (ignore the marketing byline). Thus, even if my personality type is iNTJ, my writing style is iNTP.
This is a classification based on Carl Jung’s archetypes.
I guess the above two are for those who want to date or make friends with other bloggers!
Some of the other classifiers at uClassify are interesting too – find out the mood of the writer, the tonality (formal/informal) of the writing, similarity with authors of famous classics, etc.
Many blogger friends have tagged me for various memes while I was in hiatus. I will endeavor to take up those tags faithfully. One issue is that everyone I know in the blogosphere has already been tagged leaving me with no other option than to revert to a “Comment and Self-Tag” policy. Finding untagged bloggers will further delay my taking up the tag! So feel free to leave a comment and take up the tag if you wish.
Rolling has tagged me for the photo tag: post the sixth picture from the sixth folder in my pictures folder, and write about the history behind the photo. My sixth folder is my Personal folder, and here’s the sixth picture:
This is my mother. This photograph was taken around 1960 – almost half a century back.
Such artistic portrait photography was quite rare in that era in India, especially among the middle income population. A relative on my father’s side called Mr. Tambe was from the upper strata, and had his own private studio. He invited my mother for a few sessions immediately after my parents were married. The result: a set of beautiful monochrome photographs of my mother – several with large prints. Here’s another:
Incidentally, I was recently reminded of these photographs when looking at Priyank’s photo of his mom. There is one print which I have sketched in pencil and featured on my blog before if you’d like to take a look.
Thanks for the tag, Rolling!
Very few people I know blog about death. It is not a pleasant subject, and essentially, one reads blogs to be happy. But let’s face it, death is very real. Though cyberspace was once known as the virtual world, it is becoming increasingly real, and the overlap between online and offline is getting increasingly complex.
As bloggers, gamers, sellers, artists, online community participants – we are increasingly living very real online roles. We have our own avatars. Our own bookshelves. Our Facebook personae. Our LinkedIn profiles.
So what happens when we die? Death is sudden and unexpected for most people. What happens to their blogger friends? How do their Facebook or Orkut friends know? What about items they have put up on sale on eBay? What if they’re part of an open-source development community and are actively contributing to projects?
Don’t take this lightly. Sudden disappearance in the virtual world can cause a great deal of concern and have a wider impact than one may suspect. Our social world and legal systems take care of the eventualities in our offline life, but what about our online life when we really go offline? Who are the legal heirs of the copyrights to our creative digital content that we so meticulously safeguard?
CNET’s Technically Incorrect blog post inspired this post. It describes two website services that send out emails you’ve composed after you die. Deathswitch has a free account option with one recipient and no attachments. With a tagline of “Bridging Mortality”, it encourages you not to take your secrets to the grave. SlightlyMorbid does not have a free account, but has a “Free Trial”.
Startup Concept – WebGraveyard
- My GraveSpace – automatically imported social networking profiles like Facebook and MySpace
- My Memoirs – a diary of your blogs on Blogger/Wordpress
- My Graveiti – comments on your blog and by visitors to your eGrave
- My YouTomb – the videos you’ve uploaded to YouTube
- My Gallery – automatically imports your Picasa web albums, Flickr photos, etc.
- My GraveRoll – links to eGraves of your friends
- My Graveatar – automatically imported Gravatar
- GrMail – automated email reminders of significant events in your lifetime like anniversaries
- Users can import your birthdays and anniversaries into their Google Calendar or Outlook
- High-resolution gallery of Tombstones
- Templates for great Epitaphs
- Users can drag and drop flowers on your eGrave from an abundant gallery of beautiful arrangements
- GPod – automatically import and create a replica of your iPod
- Your favorite last.fm playlist plays in the background when visiting your eGrave
Any takers for funding this startup? Any more ideas how it can be made more ‘user-friendly and productive’?
For fun, I decided to add my restaurant in Google Maps. I found out there were two things I could do – add it as a Local Business via Google Maps, or use Google Mapmaker.
Adding Local Business to Google Maps
After logging in to my Google Account, Google Maps let me add a business listing from the left sidebar itself.
I could correct the location marker position easily by dragging it on the map. After entering all the relevant details like contact information, restaurant details, etc., I am done. Now comes the funny part – how does Google verify that I am indeed the owner of this business?
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that Google – the symbol of our high-tech age, the epitome of cloud computing – will send me a postcard via snail mail! I get a radio button (option button) but there’s no other way to choose. Can’t they verify simply by calling up on the telephone numbers I’ve provided?!
So now, I’ve to wait for “2-3 weeks”, and after receiving the PIN via snail mail, I get to verify and add my listing. I remember the last time I had to register for Internet Banking after opening a bank account in India!
Curiously, there’s a nice little feature that’s not prominent while using the Local Business Center site – Coupons! Coupons are not as popular in India as in the US, but because of the booming IT sector and entry of multinational (read American) pizza-majors, they’re gaining widespread even if limited use. Using Google’s Coupons, you can add a few lines of text, set an expiration date, and you’re good to go. Neat stuff.
Adding to Google Mapmaker
Adding to Google Mapmaker is simpler. Google Mapmaker seems to have a Wikipedian content authoring and moderating system.
After adding all the details, I now await for the moderator to approve my entry. Phew, no snail mail this time!
Now, I wonder if there is anything like Google Analytics to find out how many ‘hits’ my restaurant had on Google Maps – that would really be an interesting proposition…
I was offline for the last two weeks. I live in a part of town (in Pune, India) that is newly developing. All the residential phone lines in our area have been down for so many days. Broadband didn’t work. Roads are dug up by any tom, dick, and harry, for whatever reason, and no one knows why. Some cables were seemingly affected, and that brought all the phone lines down. The telephone repairmen working at the spot looked either like gangsters trying to hide some loot, or a group of men squatting to urinate at a wall. This is the developing India. Sigh!
The comments and responses on this blog during and after the prolonged delays have humbled me. When I started this blog, I never knew and never expected to make so many friends or develop such a readership. I am still taken aback by the entire experience. One of my blogger friends even traced me, got my cell phone number, and called me up to ask what’s the matter, and that (s)he didn’t want to lose a friend like me. Experiences and comments like these make one realize that one is not alone in this world. There are people who care about the same things you do, who think in a similar fashion, who value similar things like you, and that the world is not such a hopeless place after all. I cannot express how humbled I am at all the emails and comments I received.
I am trying my best to put my life in order, such that I will be able to devote some more time to blogging. I have been dragged into several things on the personal front, and dealing with all of them at the same time has been a challenge. But the wonderful experience of blogging – the interaction I’ve been having with you folks – educated, intelligent, sensitive, and insightful – is a rewarding experience that I don’t wish to sacrifice. So I am myself waiting to get active in the blogosphere again. The only request is to be patient with me.
At the same time, I am also missing out on reading your wonderful blog posts. I cannot tell you how many times I think of some of your posts while sleeping at night, and either have a good laugh or empathize with your feelings, or be enriched by your knowledgeable posts. I am looking forward to getting back to reading your blogs and learning from them. You folks make life worthwhile. I mean it.
This post is not composed, orchestrated, or edited. The backspace or arrow keys haven’t been used. It is coming straight from the heart, as they say, and there is no filter. Forgive me if it is not as structured as my usual posts. I know you will. Thank you.
This blog has been inactive and dormant for quite some time due to personal reasons. I hope to resume in a week or two. Thanks for all the comments and patience. And a very happy new year to all my readers!
Dear readers, this past week has been very hectic and I’ve mostly been offline. My gratitude to all the comments, and apologies for the delay in my response. I hope I will be able to spend more time posting, responding, and visiting your wonderful blogs in the coming week!
Thanks for bearing with me.