Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Julius Caesar - Shakespeare

One of the most powerful speeches of the world - Mark Antony, after Caeser's death

There was some disturbance when Antony mounted the steps to speak. The mob was persuaded after a fashion that Caesar had been a tyrant, and that Rome was well rid of him. "He'd best speak no harm of Brutus here," threatened the sapient citizen who had suggested crowning Caesar's better parts. But having obtained silence, Antony knew better than to begin by attacking Brutus.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen," he began, "attend ! I am here to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil which men do survives them; the good is often laid away under earth with their bones. Let it be so with Caesar. He was ambitious, the noble Brutus has told you. If that were so, it was a grievous fault, and Caesar has paid for it grievously. Here, by leave of Brutus and the rest for Brutus is a man of honour, and so are they all, all men of honour I am come merely to speak the last words over my friend.

"For he was my friend, and to me faithful and just; though Brutus- -who is a man of honour says he was ambitious. He brought, in his time, many captives home to this city, and poured their ransoms into the public coffers. When the poor have cried, Caesar has wept for them. It is hard to detect ambition in all this; but Brutus who is a man of honour says he was ambitious. You all saw how at the Lupercalia I thrice offered him the kingly crown, and how he refused it thrice. Was this ambition ? Brutus says so; and to be sure, he is a man of honour. But I am not here to disprove what Brutus told you. I am here merely to tell you what I know. You all loved him once not without cause. Can you not mourn for him ? Oh, have men lost all their judgment, all their reason !" He paused as one surprised at his own out burst. "Bear with me, friends ; my heart is in the coffin there with Caesar. Grant me a while to pause and recover it !"

His listeners were moved already. " There is reason in what he says." " Caesar has had a great wrong, if you consider." " We may have a worse master than Caesar." " He refused the crown so he did so 'tis plain he couldn't have been ambitious." " Poor soul ! look at his eyes, red as fire!" "There's not a nobler man in all Rome than Antony !" Thus they murmured together, while Antony conquered his emotion and prepared to speak again.

" But yesterday," he went on, " the word of Caesar might have weighed against the whole world. Now he lies there with none -not the poorest to do him reverence. Sirs, if I were disposed to stir you to mutiny and rage I should be wronging Brutus and Cassius who, as you know, are men of honour. I will not do this. I choose rather to wrong the dead, to wrong myself, to wrong you, than to wrong such men of honour ! But here I have Caesar's will. If I were to read it to you but, pardon me, I do not mean to I say if I were to read it you would run to kiss Caesar's wounds, to dip your handkerchiefs in his blood
"The will! read the will!" shouted the people; but Antony protested that he must not; it was not meet for them to hear how much Caesar loved them ; it would in flame them, make them mad. There was no saying what might come of it.

" Read the will ! Read it !" they clamoured.

But again he protested ; he had gone too far in speaking of it ; he feared, indeed he did, that he was wronging the men of honour whose daggers had stabbed Caesar.

" The will ! the will ! ' Men of honour !' Traitors ! Read the will !"

" You force me to read it ? Then come, make a ring about Caesar's corpse while I show you him who made the will." He stepped down from the rostrum, and as they gathered and pressed about him, he lifted the mantle from the body. " You all know this mantle. I remember the first time Caesar put it on one summer's evening, in his tent. It was the day he overcame the Nervii." He showed them the holes made by the daggers ; where Cassius had stabbed, and Casca, and Brutus "the well-beloved Brutus," "Caesar's angel" "ah, that was the unkindest blow ! That was the heart-breaking stroke ! Then it was that great Caesar covered his face and fell !" His hearers were weeping by this time, and he could be bold. " Fell ? Ay, and what a fall ! My countrymen, then it was that I and you and all of us fell, while treason and bloodshed flourished over us. You weep at sight of his garments merely ! Look you here then on him marred, as you behold, by traitors !"

They were mad now. They shouted for revenge. " Fire !"
" Kill !" " Slay !" " Death to the traitors !" But Antony, who had worked them to frenzy with such masterly art, must perfect that frenzy before letting them slip.

" Good friends, sweet friends, I must not stir you up so. The men who have done this deed are men of honour. What private griefs they had against Caesar to make them do it, I know not, alas ! But as men of honour they will give you their reasons. You see, I am no orator like
Brutus !" indeed he was not ! " but, as you all know me, a plain blunt man, who love my friend, and have permission to speak. For I have no gifts of eloquence to set men's blood stirring. I only speak right on, telling you what you know already, showing you Caesar's wounds, and bidding them speak for me. Were I Brutus now, I could put a tongue into every wound of Caesar that should move the very stones of Rome to rise in revolt."

" And so will we !" " Burn the house of Brutus !" "Down with the conspirators !" Antony had to shout for a hearing.
" Why, friends, you are going to do you know not what ! Nay, you scarce know yet how much cause you have to love Caesar. You have forgotten the will I told you of."

" True the will ! Read the will !"

" Here is the will, then, sealed by Caesar. It gives to every Roman citizen a legacy of seventy-five drachmas," again the hubbub was deafening " and to the citizens in general he bequeaths his gardens and orchards beyond Tiber, to them and their heirs for their recreation for ever. . . ."

They listened for no more. They rushed on the market place, tearing up benches, stalls, tables, and heaping the wreckage for a funeral pile. They laid the body of Caesar on it and set fire to the mass ; and as it grew hot they plucked out the blazing brands and rushed off towards the conspirators' houses, yelling for revenge. Antony could watch now. He had done his work, and done it thoroughly.

After the rains

The torrential rains were gone and most of the harvest was ruined. The farmers whose fields suffered irreparable damage, buried their heads in their hands and wept. They looked up wearily at the indifferent summer sun who seemed oblivious of their woes, or was pretending to be cheerful and urging them to do likewise and go forward with courage. After all, the Sun himself was clouded and blinded, degraded, when the rains took over.
The days before them would be difficult, of a kind that not many have faced before, a disaster that manifests itself perhaps once in a century.
The rains themselves were not forever winners, they were forced into downpour by a higher power, and their glory lasts but a few days, then they exist no more.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Memoirs 3 - The Smile

Don't be deceived by the smile. It may be a million pangs in disguise. It may not absolve one from the mistakes that one has unwittingly committed, and it does not blame one either.

A person who seemingly bounces back after being hit by adversity - with a smile - is the one who needs support the most.
He does not always need a shoulder to cry on or a listener for his woes.
He needs a silent wall that stays beside him, feeling him grieve, not a voice said between them, when silence is what he needs.
He needs a person who can banter the most irrelevant stories of the most insignificant times, when banter is what he needs.
And when he smiles to show the world that it has not broken his spirits, he wants him to smile with him.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Journey to Ithaca

I wish I had discovered Anita Desai sooner. I wonder how her books never caught my eye in any of the innumerable bookshops I visit. In January, when I dropped in to Landmark, Forum, my intent was to get as many books I can to sustain me till the next visit which may happen only months later. I was on the look out mainly for short stories. I hungrily pulled out several books including R K Narayan, Gabriel García Márquez, Jhumpa Lahiri, to name a few. When I passed Journey to Ithaca by Anita Desai, I confused her for a moment with another Indian writer of the same name and was about to pass by without a second glance. But the surname made me look back and I decided to take a chance - after all, one needs to evaluate new authors (new to me - she has been writing since 1980's!) too once in a while! I am glad that I did.

When I read an author for the first time, I assess the writing and the language as much as the story. I was pleasantly taken aback by her style. Before I reached ten pages, I was googling for more books by the author. Amazing, eloquent writing and a beautiful, well-told story that stretches from Egypt, through Paris, Venice, Milan and New York, to India.

He hides from Nonna, and from Isabel, in the rushes of the lake in the great tapestry that hangs over the table in the hall, together with a stag that has been driven into its waters by baying hounds while the huntsman blows his horn to summon the hunter with the knife for the kill.
Frightened out of hiding, Matteo leaps up into the chandeliers like a small monkey, and hangs there, no more than a velvet tassel, of olive or mahogany silk, or a spray of bronze ivy or mistletoe or leaves of crystal that catch the light and separate it into fragments of ice.
If Isabel tiptoes in to find him, if she catches at a corner of the tapestry and shakes it or pushes a brocade-upholstered chair out of a dusty corner or draws a forbidden book off a shelf in the library, Matteo flees, as thirty years previously he had fled from his mother.

In trying to get as far away as possible, she found herself one day brought up short at the cage of an animal altogether different.
Instead of sinking with the others into late summer torpor, and the lassitude of the watched beast, the black panther still prowled the jungles of its memory, still inhabited an unpopulated wilderness of the past that it paced and paced with a kind of restrained frenzy, demanding of the barred square of concrete some reminder of freedom, or danger, or challenge, or beauty that it would not yield. Refusing to be refused, it paced and paced - its great paws treading into the unyielding surface, its senses alert to pick up the faintest response should it come.

Sophie is lying as still as a stone, with an arm across her eyes, thinking in the dark of that first pilgrimage she went on in India that had ended in the death of a child. Now she knows why the mother went on that pilgrimage, and why she must go too. She says in a flat voice, 'I'll have to,' and adds, 'what else?'

To Isidoro de Blas

How hard they try!

How hard the horse tries
to become a dog!

How hard the dog tries to become a swallow!

How hard the swallow tries to become a bee!
How hard the bee tries to become a horse!
And the horse,
what a sharp arrow it squeezes from the rose,
what a pale rose rising from its lips!
And the rose,
what a flock of lights and cries

knotted in the living sugar of its trunk.

And the sugar,

what daggers it dreams in its vigils!

And these miniature daggers,

what a moon without stables, what nakedness,

undying and rosy flesh they seek out!

And I, on the roof's edge,

what a burning angel I look for and am.

But the plaster arch,

how vast, how invisible, how minute,

without even trying!

-- Federico García Lorca

If you have not read any Anita Desai books so far, it is time you tried. I am sure you will be captivated. You can find more reviews on the book here.

For more books by Anita Desai, please go here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Memoirs 2 - Honesty

Honesty used to be the best policy - perhaps in my grandfather's time and partially in my parents'. However now, being honest translates to exposing one's weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and allowing all the good-natured well wishers around you to dive a knife inside them and twist it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Tempest

The storm had been brewing on the other side of the horizon, not visible, yet making its presence known by an occasional rumble, not allowing for the apprehension to die down.
Yesterday, finally, it made its much awaited and dreaded appearance, the skies came down in a torrent that washed away most of us with the deluge.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Summer Rains

The climate of Bangalore, as was discussed earlier is as unpredictable as it is pleasant. The transition between seasons not being very smooth these days, Summer arrived one sunny morning without any preamble. Ok, so we sat back and said, Fine. Now for three months of rising dry heat before monsoon hits the shores in June.
Whoa! Too quick.
Yesterday evening the sky shed a few drops of rain as if to sympathize with the dampened spirits of Men on Earth. The air cooled (so much so as to make me shiver when I came out with my mug of hot tea) and the smell of damp earth (I love this smell that signifies the first rains) filled us all.
Bangalore's unique (as far as I know) climate ensures a few hours of chill - the shivery kind - after a drizzle, even in the summer. And if there is a full fledged rain, it lasts for days.
Where's the Summer gone?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quote for today

"If a man doesn't delight in himself and the force in him and feel that he and it are wonders, how is all life to become important to him?"

- Sherwood Anderson

More quotes can be found here

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Work-Life Balance

There is this phrase that gets tossed around a great deal in the corporate atmosphere. "Work-Life balance". Makes you wonder if work is not part of life - do you consider work as close-to-death?

Of course, it means work-personal life balance.

The fact is, as far as I have seen and experienced, there is no such thing as work-life balance. There cannot be a balance between the two. Not in the kind of work I do. Maybe it exists elsewhere. But most definitely not in mine. You sacrifice one to attain the other. If you wish to improve your career graph and travel higher, say goodbye to your commitments at home. If you want more time at home for your family, relax your career responsibilities. Give up some to anyone around you and say I am done, this is all I can do.

I speak from experience. After years of wrestling with both and trying to convince myself that there is this perfect balance in my life and I am "managing" well, I have stopped deceiving myself and others, and admitted that the more I concentrate on my projects, the more I am losing on my home. I accepted defeat and decided to compromise on one.

It was not easy. When I was asked, "Are you ready to tear down all that you have built in the last nine or ten years and start afresh on something considered lower when your equals scale heights you can perhaps never dream of reaching now?", I almost faltered. But I did not lose my composure and said a firm "Yes".

Over time, it has become smoother. Yes, it still does evoke pangs of near-remorse at times but it does give a certain satisfaction to know that when I surrendered, I did gain something I consider very important. Or so it seems to me. Only time can tell if the decision taken at a deeply sensitive moment, though considered several times over weeks and months, had been a mistake. This is perhaps the closest to a sacrifice I have ever made in life.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bangalorisation of English 3

What version of the English language should be used by an Indian writing an official email to a person in China, Korea or Taiwan? Is it American, British, Australian or Canadian?? Or Indian?

Do I say, behaviour or behavior?
Color or colour?
9/27 or 27/9 ?
Football or soccer? -- well, that doesn't appear in the mails I send, of course!

Having been brought up on English brought to India by the British, my loyalty lies with what I would call The Real English. All else, to me, is derived from it and not worth following. However, when I communicate with customers from other countries whose only exposure to the language is perhaps through the movies from America, and my Word editor not only suggests with a red underline but adamantly changes every UK English spelling I type to US English, I slip to a mixed version which looks absolutely unacceptable to me but does serve the purpose.

Not that it matters, of course. The replies that I get to my mails do have only the least semblance of the language.

As days pass by, and English grows as a global language, it is becoming more and more difficult to categorize the phrases as belonging to this or that region of the world.

More on English from this part of the world, later.
For earlier blog posts, go here.

Your experiences?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Memoirs -1

Run away... Run away... Run away...
From every cell of my being, every limb in my body, every gene of my existence, the cry ensues.

Run away...
Run away from all that you despise, all that you fear, all that makes you cry. Pull yourself apart from the proverbial chains that bind you from birth. Looming large in the horizon of your existence is not Death, but something much worse - Exile.

Even the most pessimistic of us all has a grain of optimism in him. From the time the final sentence is pronounced, till the moment it is executed, in his deepest of hearts he expects an unexpected announcement, an unknown saviour to appear bearing the news of the sentence having been revoked.

And yet, yet... when the final blow falls, despite the worst pessimistic bravado that he has displayed, despite the worst expectation that has sustained him, despite the grain of optimism that has remained in him, he is shocked, appalled and nearly in tears to see the fall of the guillotine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thought for today

Life's antics are curious to watch. And sometimes cruel.

You spend weeks and months dreaming of something you want, and Life holds it at an arm's length away from you, till you finally get fed up of your fruitless attempts to get it and give up with a firm decision never to long for it again. A day later, you find it hanging about your ears tempting you to reach out your hand. Your interest slightly revived, you gently raise your hand and then, weeeez! it speeds off again.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Being with my son

This post has been inspired by Carmi's blog where he had written about spending time with his daughter.

And then the above Between Friends cartoon which is so very true (as all BF cartoons always are!)

Every night when I put my son to sleep, either after reading a story to him with the lights on or lying down with him narrating an instant-made-up tale with the lights out, the way he snuggles close to me, by my side with my arm around him, his large twinkling black eyes looking up at my face and eagerly taking in every word that comes out, asking numerous queries about the mostly-animal characters of the story who do amazing things, I sense each day pass, with him growing up every minute and maybe just around the corner is a day when he will grow out of snuggles and hugs and will want no more of those. I am afraid that day will come too soon before I am ready for it and I will be taken by surprise and will miss the little one I used to cuddle so much. It is I who need him and the cuddles, and not he. Maybe, I tell myself, maybe there will be sweeter things in store for me to feel good about as he grows older, maybe I will be too busy growing up my second childhood with him, maybe I will be too amazed at the rate at which he explores and learns new crafts that I will forget to miss the toddler who hugs me around the knees just for no reason at all.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holi Hai!!!

Today is Holi, the festival of colours.

Some of my neighbours came to colour me red, pink and yellow. My son had gone to school, otherwise he would have loved it. He celebrated Holi at school yesterday and came home bathed in rainbow colours.

See how he looked last year!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So far I have spoken a little about "Books", a little more about "Movies" and a great deal about "and then some". However, nothing much was said about "Places" except in the title of this blog. I decided to put an end to this unfair treatment doled out to the category. Here I am posting some snaps and reminiscences from our visit to Mahabalipuram (near Chennai) last Diwali.

The specialty of Mahabalipuram is the stone carvings. You don't need to know where to go to see it. Just enter Mahabalipuram and you can see many, by the roadside.

Temples in Mahabalipuram have amazing carvings that ooze perfection to the minutest detail.

Mahisha Mardini Cave is one tourist spot with several stones like the above, that tell an entire story in one frame.

Stone cave on one side of the Light-house. You don't have to go far into the jungle to see this. Just enter a gate by the road and there you are.

This beach was hit by the tsunami of 2004 and after the waves retracted, the tip of the gopuram of a temple emerged from the sand. Excavation is in progress to retrieve the temple (not seen in the above pic)!

If you wish to see all the landmarks in Mahabalipuram, you would take 3 days or more. Especially since you cannot do sight-seeing at one shot an entire day, as the heat would wear you down very easily.

Mahabalipuram is situated at a distance of about 50kms from Chennai, along the East Coast Road(ECR), and about 250kms from Bangalore. There are several roads to get to Mahabalipuram from Bangalore. One is Bangalore - Krishnagiri - Chennai highway - Kancheepuram - Mahabalipuram, which is the shorter route but the road through Kancheepuram is not desirably excellent. Another route is straight to Chennai and through the ECR to Mahabalipuram, in which case the roads are excellent but the distance could turn out to be more.

Photographs by R. Ramachandran

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Short Stories and Novels

The ordinary lives of ordinary people make the best short stories. I have been reading R K Narayan's Malgudi Days, which is a splendid collection of stories based in a fictional town called Malgudi, but as the author himself puts it, "If I explain that Malgudi is a small town in South India I shall only be expressing a half-truth, for the characteristics of Malgudi seem to me universal."

His stories are short, on an average never exceeding 3-4 pages.

Here is a excerpt from R K Narayan's Introduction to Malgudi Days.

The short story affords a writer a welcome diversion from hard work. The novel, whether good or bad, printable or otherwise, involves considerable labour.
Unlike the novel, which emerges from relevant, minutely worked-out detail, the short story can be brought into existence through a mere suggestion of detail, the focus being kept on a central idea or climax.

To me, a short story is a Twenty20 match and a novel is test cricket. Both the T20 and the short story are compact, focussed and do not have scope for elaboration. The T20 has only 20 overs each, and the game is over in three or four hours. There is a limited time to achieve the objectives, be it taking the runs to the best possible score in two hours, or describing the people and plot in eight to ten pages. Whereas the test match goes on for five days, and the batsmen take their time, take no risks and slowly, deliberately raise the score. The novel, similarly, has ample time and space to describe and elaborate the characters and the plot, sub-plots and digressions.

Where does an author find inspiration for a story? Anywhere and everywhere. The story lurks around, among the people and things one sees daily. Every individual, every day, has a story to tell. A writer keeps his eyes and ears open to observe these stories and captures them with his five very imaginative senses and weaves a plot around it, sometimes real, sometimes fictional, many a time influenced by reality. Then he uses his literary prowess to convert it to a beautifully developed story. He borrows ideas from the instances that he has recorded in his past. The best told stories leave the reader with a sense of awe at the connection the story has to his own life, admiration for the writer's skills, and a powerful memory that remains etched in his brain.

The characters in his story will undoubtedly be based on the people around him, despite the author's claims that there is no relation to anyone living or dead. Writers, like painters, need a model to start with. The final mould of the character need not be the same as the model he began with. For instance, he may start with a good likeness of Anupam Kher with his comic tendencies, as a principal. Then he would impress upon him the rough characteristics of the principal of his own college, and with a little colouring the character is more or less ready, and it has no relation to anyone living or dead. Not directly.

Similarly, the environment of the story in general has its origin in the author's own backyard. Not always, but one can definitely find a parallel.

When one recognises his own skill of story-telling, he further develops it intentionally and sometimes unknowingly by beginning to note the gestures and activities of everyone within his view, and improving his vocabulary with every reading he does. He pauses at every word he comes across that might be new or familiar but submerged in his memory, and imprints them in his mind so that he can use them when the need arises. He takes care to note down the thoughts that flow within and into him every day, every hour and refine them into elegantly written prose.

It is imperative for a writer to keep writing. It is even more essential to keep reading. Left to itself without nourishment, like any other skill, one's literary talent also tends to sink to obscurity.

One of the authors whose books I devour with profound admiration is Gabriel García Márquez. Love in the time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude have fascinated me to an unbelievable extent. A number of other titles by Gabo, I am yet to read.

Perhaps another day, if I am able to find the words to describe what his work inspires in me, I would try to post here...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Quote for the day

“Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate”

- Germaine Greer

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Taare Zameen Par

When I watched this movie a year ago, it was already running to packed audiences for over two months. I was warned by my friend that it could reduce one to tears - especially if you are a mother. There are films that make you cry, sometimes colossal tears that you pretend didn't exist by wiping off quickly with the back of your hand, as if you were scratching your cheek. But this movie put all those to shame. Especially since I had screamed at my son for being naughty, just before leaving him at home and going to watch it. My friend was right, if you are a Mother, you would see your son in Darsheel Safary who starred as Ishaan Awasthi, and fear if you are being unkind or unfair to him.

Call me unbelievably sentimental if you like but the song "Ma" used to overwhelm me even months after I got over the movie. A year later, now I can listen to it with a firmer heart. But I do not dare to watch the movie again, lest I lose my control and make a laughing stock of myself. When my husband brought home the DVD last month and suggested we watch it together one night, I said no and went to bed early. But I did strain my ear to catch a little of the dialogues overflowing from the next room.

When TZP was selected unanimously as India's official entry to the "Foreign Language Film" category of the Oscars, I was happy but I did feel that the selection jury would be looking for some criteria which the movie did not exactly satisfy. True enough, it was not among the final list of nominees. But the movie is beautiful, and gives a very meaningful message to parents, teachers and anyone who handles children.

Aamir Khan has come a long way from his chocolate hero days of Qayamat se Qayamat Tak. Now every year he makes a movie that is a hit before it reaches the screen. TZP was one such movie. Last year it was Ghajini.

Currently we hear that he is working on 3 Idiots which is an adaptation of the book, Five Point Someone, and the shooting (or part of it) had taken place at IIM, Bangalore. I have read the book, and I don't fancy that Aamir and Madhavan who are closer to their 40's are really ideal for the college going characters of the story. Well, whatever. Let's see how it looks when it is released!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A country surrounded by violence

When we grow up, we are taught that the Bad exist to inspire the Good.

Fear exists so that Courage can conquer it.

One would expect terrorism and crime to have a reason for their existence, something that would bring some good out of them. But try as I may, I am unable to find anything positive - to anyone - coming of them.

Pakistan - Terror Attacks

Bangladesh - Mutiny

Sri Lanka - Civil War

From all sides, India seems to be under fire. The chances of these spilling over to India is very huge.

God help the nation.

Glass house

It is not a house of cards. But nor is it a fortress of granite. It is made of glass that a well-aimed stone can break.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


If I reserve a place in my blog for Movies and I don't mention an all time favourite of mine, Casablanca, it won't just be unfair, it would be a crime.

Of course I did bring up a couple of quotes from the movie once, but that is just two of the many memorable ones from the movie.

And the most famous one without any doubt is,
Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

I think I had heard the quote long before I watched the movie. And the day after I watched it, I googled and googled the whole world till I read all the reviews on the movie and found the sites that list all the unforgettable quotes.

Every scene, every dialogue and every character carves themselves on your brain.
Right down to the last lines, Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Ahh.. what can I say. Whatever I say would be too little and too much of an understatement, I would not wish to ruin the beauty of the film by my words!

If you haven't seen the movie, better get a DVD. If you have watched it, better go to this site and read all the quotes. It will take you through each scene and each character. It's worth it.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Murphy's laws

I am a firm believer of Murphy's Laws. In fact I believe in them more than I believe in Newton's Gravitational Theory or Einstein's Theory of Relativity. When I was first made aware of the existence of these Laws, I was taken aback thinking how absurdly true they are, and how someone did ever think of (or take the trouble of) penning them down and calling them "Laws".

Some may say that these Laws are the figment of Pessimism. I say, pessimism is good. Pessimism means you have reached rock bottom and there is no further way down, the only way out is Up! If things turn out to be better than you expected, it's a bonus.

Coming to matters closer to me, the reason why I remembered Murphy's Laws was because I saw one of them in action. Yesterday. Being in the software industry, I deal with a large amount of uncertainties - devices, network, applications, people,.. you name it. What works on one device is bound to fail in the other. The perfect execution in the developer's desk is destined to disaster in the tester's place. And the worst is when all these failures happen after 5PM on a Friday and the release is promised to the customer "at the end of the day". So it happened again yesterday, the never ending tale of Friday evenings. I had the software built, the e-mail composed and just a key-hit away from release. The last round of testing was in progress, all were fine in the first round we executed before lunch. I was just waiting for a go-ahead from the tester, dreaming of an early return home and a host of other plans, when he comes to me and says, "There is a small trouble, we may need to fix an issue and release."

"But we tested in the morning and all was fine."
"No, we missed this somehow."
"Is it something we can release with a known-issue tag?" Known issues are a godsend, when you release a software, and it has bugs that are not show-stoppers, we type them down in the release documents and call them Known Issues.
"No, it won't look good if you release with this issue open."

Need I say more? I finally left office at half past seven, all my wonderful Friday plans blown to the wind.

Hence I say, Murphy's Laws are so true and has more evidence every day than the Laws of Newton or Einstein.

If anything can go wrong, it will.
If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway.