Etudes – Aseem Kaul

The post modern indian literature is a big blob which makes no sense to me collectively be it Rushide, Roy, Sen or Ghosh .. BUT then comes along the collected works of a desi@Warthon  PhD who uses simple stories to weave together a book that is disparate yet cohesive, high hand intellectual yet true to the storytellers tradition.

The 75 shorts (By the authors admission they are not stories themselves) cover a range of emotions. From a twisted take on a well-known classic (Juliet) to an intimate moment spent with oneself (Solitude, The Treadmill) to an omelette recipe that pokes fun at our pretentious self . There is no central theme to the book, stories are desperate and yet you don’t feel distaste when the theme swiftly changes. This is largely to the way each story presents itself, its a like a peeping window to the act midway or post-climax. The characters are not introduced – not even named in most, at times there seems to be no purpose why the author chose to describe an episodes (Toast).

A short on my favourite shorts 🙂

The Vacation – Story of a stranded bride who finds freedom on her honeymoon.

Rock Paper Scissors – a small playground conversation makes us wonder what world we are letting our kids grow up in.

Identification – May feel like necrophilia but honest and heartbreaking.

Victoria – Funny, how men think.

Juliet – A classic turned on its head. The villain is still curiosity and shame.

The Interruption – Reading a couples mind when the phone rings as they are making love.

Take One – brilliant conversation, i may actually have one day!

Dice – went over my head, couldn’t understand it.

Going back – How it will never be the same again.

Daedalus – A fathers remorse on his sons death.

Love Story – Why real and honest love stories are boring. Cute.

Then we have the dark set – The Perfect House, The Shirt, Solitude, The Treadmill, Atlas, Unsaved – Makes a compelling read. Soulful, severe and sombre few, romance death, few make solitude sexy.

Where Shall We Go for Dinner – Its the one story i would recommend everyone to read. A lovers tiff – the eventual patch up – makes for a cute read. Yes, i am recommending a cute love story, beat that!

The book has some unique features that made me pick it up from Blossoms in Bangalore. It has its title and page numbers on the side and it had a witty, self deprecating introduction and back page.

Also, a book that has a French title is a COMPLETE chick magnet 😉

Aseem is an IIM-A alumni and this book is fighting hard to regain the faith lost by many a Bhagats. His book blog.

LifeMap

Data visualization is something that has held my interest since a very long time. I am a strong believer that once shown in the right format/layout, data stars revealing itself. Apart from the Data Mining and Analytics gyan, here is a very simple and elegant way to prove my point. Here is one of the most distinct CVs or LifeMaps ive ever come across. Amongst a thousand CVs will you notice this?

So the URL embedding is not working due to some liscencing issues. Here is the link.

Data. It can tell a compelling story if you want it to! Read more. Here.

Creator Site http://www.ritwikdey.com/

Morality 2.0

If I post a drunken status message on facebook does my boss (who is on my friends list, ironic?) have the right to hold it against me for work related assessment? What if it is used against me in a court of law when establishing a criminal case?

This is not just a random thought. An ethical and moral implication of digital content in a legal situation is spoken about here.

Digital footprint is a word often thrown around to identify an individual’s actions in the e-sphere. Comments/content posted by a “User” is linked to the individual who has signed up for the service. How close is this individual, flesh and bones, any different from the ‘user’ or account holder?

Legal implications aside what is the ethics standpoint in the digital space. Ethics are identified by actions performed by an individual. In the real life we use verbal and non verbal methods to put across our opinion, our intentions. There have been interesting studies in this regard.

According to Saunders et al (2006), “Ethics refers to the appropriateness of your behaviour in relation to the rights of those who become the subject of your work, or are affected by it” whereas Gilbert and Churchhill, (1995) has defined ethics as “the moral principles and values that govern the way an individual or group conducts its activities”. According to Saunders et al (2002) the literature surrounding research ethics highlights the need to obtain informed consent as the subject area was decided by all members of the organization via consultation it would be easy to suggest that all organization members have given informed consent. However, the author ethically needs to consider to what extent each individual had a choice about participation. The author is fully aware that he may never receive full and correct information however if the author communicates the aims, objectives and keep his research subjects as open and transparent as possible then this helped him to extract the most vital information out of the employees.

Choice of participation and perception of an individual’s opinion in respect to the capacity in which the opinion is expressed is critical. Twitter profiles of CEO’s and MD’s have a discretionary note that that opinions expressed are their own and not the organization. Would @EV ‘s views on the cloud not affect twitter’s relationships with google? Or are we maturing enough as a society to distinguish the difference of a role and an individual.

Coffee 101 or How I went from Adrak Chai to French Roast

Chai chai … Chai garam…  India, divided by geography, culture, religion but united by the humble cutting chai. Served in earthen pots, chinaware or uniquely designed glasses the humble tea is the working Indians one thread to vanity. I have long loved this mystical drink that wakes me up and makes me go through the day… but this is not about that! What veronica is to betty.. Coffee is to tea.. Hip classy takes some effort to please.. may not turnout perfect always..

My time in Bangalore got me closer to this bean and the relationship has been good so far.. Coffee is extracted from beans full or grounded and individual process in each step determines the difference in coffee.

Types of Beans – Arabica and Robusta are the most widely used beans.  Robusta is what goes into your Instant coffee and is typically cheap in pricing and flavour. It has a bad brand image as MNCs producing bulks of instant coffee are said to procure them by unfair means and unregulated pricing from poor farmers.. did i check.. naah trust wki..

Arabiaica is the good son.  Your popular Starbucks, Gorgia and other famous coffee chains make their overpriced cuppas from this bean.I keep saying beans. But in reality its the coffee seed…aaa what difference does it make anyway!

Roast – In a neat little table. Memorize to impress the ladies.

Roast level Notes Surface Flavor
Light Cinnamon roast, half city, New England Dry Lighter-bodied, higher acidity, no obvious roast flavor
Medium Full city, American, regular, breakfast, brown Dry Sweeter than light roast; more body exhibiting more balance in acid, aroma, and complexity.
Full Roast High, Viennese, Italian Espresso, Continental Slightly shiny Somewhat spicy; complexity is traded for heavier body/mouth-feel. Aromas and flavors of roast become clearly evident.
Double Roast French Very oily Smokey-sweet; light bodied, but quite intense. None of the inherent flavors of the bean are recognisable.

Medium and full roast are the ones that occupy most shelves. The Double Roast or the French is what caught my fancy. Its strong and bold and not for the faint hearted. In reality i felt challenged when i read the last bit 😀

Grind –U can’t eat the damn beans you know!

If you ask me there are only 2 kinds ey way they give it to you and the way it should have been.. hehe… No,  ask for coarsely grounded slightly chunky if you will use the French press (described below) and finely grounded for the machine use. Unfortunately coffee cannot be made without the right equipments in the right combination.. aah my humble tea.. romancing you is so much more convenient..

Process/brew/the thing you my drinker have to do –

You have the powder thingie, you want to drinkie?? pick one of the 4 methods below.

Stovepresso – Effective and applicable to the Indian kitchen.

French Press – My personal favourite and a copy of the humble filter cofi of South Indians. I don’t know who found it first but my Matunga idli churning auntie was the first to tell me about it!

Your DIY coffee pot – In most homes and offices.  Looking for some strange picture. Please send link.

Rise on the Machines – These things make you feel that coffee making is for the pros and paying money at the local coffee shop is worth it.. Anna sneers in t he corner sipping his Filter coffee. Some really take it over board. True Story.

Hmm i am tired and could do with a cup myself!

Credits –

Inspired this post. And my obsession to make sense of this coffee business.

The place that knows its coffee.  Lots of time spent in Bangalore. Indian Coffee House.

Someone trying to make a difference in the Indian coffee business. Indian Coffee Board

Java City at Church Street Bangalore. A few old guys strum jazz and blues.

Java City@ChurchStreet, Bangalore

What makes me work most Monday Mornings. CCD@Office

And a few random events transpired in a coffee shop 😉

A Million Little Pieces – James Frey

There are books that you read, there are books that you chew on and then the books that slap you out of pretence, pull your hair up, look you in the eye and talk.

James Frey claims this to be his account of the 6 weeks he did in a rehab facility for addiction. The book starts with him waking up in an airplane nose broken, cheek torn and hurting in all possible places. His worry isn’t how he will fix it rather he wonders where he was and how he got there to begin with. An addict for 10 years he had suffered a lot, wrecked more, and is just 23.  After the first five pages you are left in no doubt that there has to be a new low that needs to be defined before James could fall to it.

Book Cover

Cover Art

Addiction is usually associated with a substance of choice… alcohol, cocaine, industrial glue, petrol or sex. Its like how your college degree has the subject of choice behind it. You did your engineering but you are a mechanical engineer as you chose it to be your favourite from all other streams. James has no such dilemma he was addicted to EVERYTHING.

Curious enough i was expecting a sombre account of his pain infested life that lead to him being this way. But i was surprised by how less frequent are these references, how the author tries to stay away from the actions of his past that would surely make a compelling read. The writing is steadily progressive and it takes some time, to get accustomed to the way he has written the book. Its unconventional writing makes you run along with him.. his instant burst of emotions, the internal conflict he faces, the fickle attempt at hope and a lot of other emotions that one feels while going through internal reform.

The internal conflict is what draws me to this book. James is smart; he is intelligent and has no pretext. He accepts his current state is a net result of the way he has lived his left and the choices he made. He is an atheist and responds with resent to all attempts at making him embrace the 12 steps of AA and the belief in a higher power.

Shame.Rage.Need.Hunger.Disgust.Hatred.Shame. its a cycle. He is fully aware of his problems and his intelligible approach in resolving his issues are an interesting read.

Clearly new to blogging and completely oblivious to the difference between a book review and a book recreation, in the 400 odd words i have only touched upon a few areas that this book deals with!

This i will say, READ IT.

Its an important book that gives dignity to the disease of addiction – YUP! Its a disease, incurable and uncontrollable by medicine.. even the HIV virus can be delayed by a few years until it converts to a fully blown AIDS disease. Recovering addicts need constant care and monitoring. They have an intense internal conflict.. the urges to reach that blissful climax. There is no quick fix solution and enduring is the only way out. Some awareness in this general direction is very critical to identify early signs and change behavioural tendencies to break the patterns commonly seen in addiction.

The books also has a love story and fair bit of bromance. Your fair share of brawls and punches.. verbal and otherwise. Family, disintegrated but together in trouble. Nothing spectacular. But all in the context of his addiction and what he is going through.. It makes a compelling read.

James finds his totem in Taoism the philosophy of flow and nothingness. I end this with my favourite Definition of Tao –

There is a thing inherent and natural, which existed before heaven and earth. Motionless and fathomless, It stands alone and never changes; It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted. It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme

Edit: As i set to post this, the trending topic on twitter is #SignsOfaCokeHead. Unfortunate that addiction a social mockery, much like retard.