Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Let there not be light!

I know people in Karachi are fed up of load shedding. They stopped having it in Islamabad quite a few years back, but even when it did happen it usually was in the winters, as far as I can remember. Even if this does sound a bit odd, I remember rather enjoying it when it did happen especially when it was during the night. No electricity meant no television, no computer, no nothing. But it also meant that I wasn’t told to do my homework, or was required to do any chores… heck with the lights out the only thing that you could do was sit down by the blazing heater and munch away on some dry (or not so dry) fruit. Peace of mind is what you got; a great amount of tranquility and silence. The only sounds that may be heard would be of the sporadic movement of traffic nearby and that too was very insignificant. It would be just you and your thoughts.

For someone who likes to think a lot, I don’t have much to show for it. Or maybe I’m thinking about all the wrong things. Maybe what I’m writing (and hence thinking first) right now is of little consequence to future events in time. This may mean that if I were to be erased from the present, the future of the universe would have very little bearing from my absence. But how many of us are really making a difference to the future of this world? I may be a lazy bum sitting at home and not contributing to the GDP of the country but how is that different from someone who is? Yes that person is earning money, probably will get married in some time, have kids, get retired and then, in all likelihood, will kick the bucket. That’s the lifecycle for your average joe. If joe thinks he’s making a difference for future generations he’s mistaken. If it weren’t him, there would be some other joe (lets call him jack) in his place. As far as I see it, me, joe or for that matter jack are all just taking up space in an overcrowded world moving aimlessly on the temporal dimension of existence.

Coming back to load shedding, there were times when it did become frustrating especially when the time clashed with the airing of “Guest House”. But I must admit that was a very long time back (as people familiar with the mentioned program would have realized). My later days were however free from such mind corrupting and moronic hypnosis by state governed broadcasters (meaning I had moved on from PTV to more interesting foreign channels). I can’t even imagine how people in Karachi have to live with load shedding; television would probably be the last thing on their minds. Even during winter Karachi still is flaming hot. But the people do have the benefit of a nice sea breeze blowing away most times of the day. Plus most of corporate Pakistan is in Karachi, so air-conditioning and generators are very common. Not common enough for the common man though.

This has become a particularly digressing post and I don’t think I enjoyed writing it as much as I generally do. Maybe next time I’ll close the lights and think more before I decide to write something…

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tales from the bus ride...

Last weekend while I was on my way to Lahore, I remembered the many times I used to go back to lums after spending my quarter break at home. I especially remembered the times when I went alone on the bus. I used to occupy my seat rather early and waited to see who would end up sitting next to me, even though it hardly ever mattered since I almost never conversed. Sitting on my seat I would firmly place my eyes on the entrance, observing every person coming in, and evaluating if the person was worthy enough to be sitting next to his highness. More often than not I would be pleading “please, not him”, or start telling myself “maybe I should’ve gone with Ahmad”, or sometimes start wondering why there was always a statistically disproportionate and demographically unrepresentative greater majority of male travelers. Not once in my four years of traveling on the bus have I been accidentally given a seat next to a girl. Maybe that’s because females usually tell the guy giving the tickets that they need a seat next to another female. But given the discriminatory and unbalanced nature of the traveling population, I thought mathematics was in my favor of having at least once being mistakenly seated next to a female, even if it was for a few minutes before an arrangement was made within the bus to restore equilibrium. Not that it would’ve mattered, again. But it still intrigues me to a certain extent.

My trips from Islamabad meant that I usually got money from home while coming back from Lahore meant that I was more often than not running low on reserves. This meant that the midway stop on my way to Lahore would allow me a few snacks; ice cream and chips would be the usual. However, when going in the opposite direction, the stop would only yield a refreshing walk and some time away from the stale and, at times, suffocating air present within the bus. I stopped having the snacks they serve a long time back when I happened to get sick once. I don’t remember even watching the movie they played. Considering I had very little to do for 4 and a half hours, time would pass before I knew it. I guess the trip would give me an opportunity to gather my thoughts and make up plans for the future. As far as I know, those plans would be of very little use later. But then again, most plans are like that.

I remember once a girl I used to like was on the same bus that I was on. Well that certainly was a trip, and to top it, her seat was near mine. I therefore had to activate my anti-social mode to conceal my nervousness, meaning I covered my face with my cap and went to sleep only to find myself after some time covered with drool and sleeping with an open mouth. Embarrassed, I looked around and to my relief found no one even remotely paying attention. But somehow I knew that was going to be the case anyway. It’s funny when people think that the whole world is looking at them when basically no one could care less. I think I could’ve gone to class wearing my pajamas and no one would’ve noticed. Whenever I’ve had a hair cut people around me haven’t been able to tell what exactly is different. It just goes to prove that the only person that is looking at you that closely is you. Knowing this made my nervousness around someone I liked even more irrational. But I guess its one of those things that you know doesn’t make sense but still happens. Like finding stupid toilet jokes funny, or supporting a team to win even when it has very little chance, or getting pleasure out of writing blogs that no one reads. Now I remember how I used to spend my time on the bus….

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Why not to buy an iPOD

I just got an iPOD recently and that too for my father. I heard so much about the iPOD and its ease of use that I thought it would be perfect for my dad, since he finds modern day gadgets to be rather tricky to operate. As you may have guessed, the iPOD didn’t turn out to be the ideal mp3 player for various reasons that I shall elaborate shortly. Anyway, some of these negative elements may seem trivial to some people, but they still are good enough to be listed.

  1. They don’t even ship in a CD with the box. Considering that you need iTunes to put songs in the thing, you’ll need the internet to download 30 something megabytes worth of iTunes to get started.

  2. There isn’t even an AC power adapter included. Which means that you need to charge your iPod with your computer (via the usb connecter). And if you, by chance, are traveling and do not have access to a computer, then either dish out some money for a charger, or get yourself a laptop (which would make the iPod redundant anyway!)
  3. You need iTunes to add and manage your songs. This means that you cannot just add songs from any other pc
  4. If there’s a song that does not have an album or the id3 tag is not filled, the song will not show in an “unknown album” or under “unknown artist” (like it does in my sony ericsson walkman phone), instead you will have to go through all the songs to find the particular one you’re looking for
  5. Creating playlists are very tedious without using a computer
  6. The iPOD uses an internal battery which will have to be replaced by Apple itself in the event that its life has come to an end. This will cost you at least $55. Other cheaper alternatives are available, but it still doesn’t change the fact that it requires more effort on part of the user

There are many, many more but I’m too sick and tired to bother listing them all down. In conclusion, Apple is overcharging people for something that isn’t worth the money at all.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

To buy or to sell?

I see a number of people trying to look sophisticated when going through the stock market index on television or the newspaper. I have my own index that I follow… it’s the spam count on my gmail account. Yes, that would seem like a foolish thing to do… but it’s more darn interesting than all three of Pakistan’s stock markets combined. The foremost difference between the two would be that I want the number of spam on my account to be as low as possible, whereas generally the majority of people would want the stock market index to be high.

Most of you would be happy to know that my spam crossed the 1000 barrier just recently. I, though, was a bit disappointed. It hovered around the mark for a few days before coming back to around 800-900, making me believe that the downward trend would continue for sometime. However, it was not long before it ballooned to the region of 1200 and has been around that mark since. Incidentally, that’s about the same number (multiplied by 10) for the KSE index these days. I see a parallel association between the two already. This could only mean one thing… my spam controls the heart of Pakistan’s economy… which, as a significant part of the integrated global economy, can disrupt the lives of millions of people thereby causing irrevocable disturbance to the space time continuum and a possible end to the universe!!! I think I’ll delete my spam some other time…