Bliss and beyond

This post was originally written on the 20th of February, weeks after I got married. Somehow, due to a combination of limited internet access and sheer laziness, it got delayed thus far.

Dear Diary,

It is currently my third week into my new life where all things seem great and wonderful – and it continues to amaze me.

I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’m now married!!! And the past weeks have been the most beautiful days of my life.
These past weeks, me and Thayyuba have spent almost every moment of our waking hours together, talking, laughing, and whispering sweet nothings.
Actually the one thing that I keep wondering all the time now is how I lived without her in my life so far.

On a more lighter side to this whole episode (which almost everyone I know turns into a serious romantic issue), I realize there’s a whole new, different world that I haven’t known so far, and continue to learn by experience with each passing day:

Marriage isn’t just about two people. Its about two families. And getting to know a whole new family right from scratch doesn’t really work the same way your weekly meet ups do.

There are at least 4 types of combs and 5 different hair&face products, at least 3 of which are essential at all times.

Apparently clothes are supposed to be neatly folded or ironed and stacked in rows in the wardrobe – something that my jeans and tees aren’t used to just yet.

“I was just talking to this girl” is not a bright answer when asked what you were doing.

Flowers are pretty. Really.

Apparently certain shoes go only with certain clothes. Again, something my pair of Adidas never realized so far.

Looking back at the above, I realize I haven’t really mentioned some of the more factual aspects of my adventure that happened even before my wedding.
To make a long story short, my flight blew an engine shortly before takeoff(!), got cancelled, the rebooked flight got delayed, some looney left an unattended bag leading to a bomb scare at Frankfurt Airport and I finally got to travel Business Class (and use the exclusive Dubai Business Lounge for the first time).

And yes, all of this happened within 24hrs of each other.

…And we’re back!

Yes, this blog is still alive.
And yes, I did get married. In fact, three days ago on 7th, it’s actually been TWO whole months since I tied the proverbial knot and started to share my otherwise bland life, with that one special person who adds joy and color to everything I do.
And it continues to amaze me with every passing day…

Firstly, I would like to thank you, the reader, every single person who kept coming back to The Square Circle months after it was, so to speak, down. And I’m sorry I didn’t keep up my promise of getting “back in the first week of March” (yes I did realize that thank you very much!) or even acknowledge comments. The thing is, I wanted to eagerly write a post just weeks into my marriage.
And then  the next one.
And another.

I don’t want to do the typical I-am-married-therefore-I-have-no-time thing every other guy I know does and blame my lack of blogability on my marriage or anything. I’ll admit it: I goofed up. I have no excuses.

Truth is, I have at least 6 unfinished drafts in my Open folder. I’ll get to them (and backlink them when I’m done) as soon as possible. In no particular order, they are approximately about:

~Wedding and on being married.
~My home town of Cuddalore.
~Why we love hot weather.
~How to spot Indians in Frankfurt.
~Behind a bad video game.

…and other random topics of no particular interest.

I’ll get to them as soon as I can. I know its all been a long time in coming; but all I can do now is assure you:

The Square Circle is back in the game.
Play on.

Wedding Diaries :)

(Yes I know this post is a bit late in coming...pretty much like everything else I'm doing lately; but anyway here it is...)

In less than 2 weeks from now; I find myself in that special place where all things look wonderful, a dreamy time that really should come once in everyone's lives, when the greatest joy of all is that of sharing your life with a very special person.

And for me, that special time comes on the 7th of Febuary 2010, when Thayyuba and I take each other hand-in-hand, and mark the beginning of a new life together, in the most beautiful relationship life has to offer.

Yes, I am getting married :)

I'll be leaving from Frankfurt in about three days, and hope to reach Chennai in good spirits (I also upgraded to business class to take better advantage of my 8hr transit in Dubai – those miles have finally paid off!) and all I can say is:
I'm excited.
Really excited.

So excited in fact, that I really haven’t been able to concentrate on work for a while. Or anything else for that matter either, except the occasional song and humming that seems to find its way for no reason at all.
Those of you already married or in love probably know exactly what I’m talking about…but in case you’re one of those lonely souls who has not – I can only say that this is something no one can truly do justice to in words.

You just have to live it!

I guess its fair game to state that
The Square Circle will not be active for a while…at least not until I get back to work in the first week of March; so I just wanna thank you for being a part of my life, for relishing my blog and for commenting on it.

Please do join in our celebrations, and pray for us, for the day when two lives become one.

Achievements ‘09

Yes I know this post quite late, at least a week overdue; and that I also have a load of catching up to do – comments to respond to; blogs to read; facebook to…well, look at; RSS feeds to read and so on – but I just thought I’d do this today since I’m snowed in this weekend (over 10cm of snow here and more storm warnings on the way)

I’d like to think of each year as a milestone gone by, to think back and look at all the things – right and wrong – done over the past year with a view to do things better in the future. So let’s get started:

First of, come 19th of Jan and it would be exactly a year since The Square Circle first got online (Click here for the pilot post). Before this, we were called “Random Thoughts” and looking back I think it really has come quite a way since that old blogger template.

Late winter and toward the start of spring, I saw a couple of new countries when I caught a trip to Rome, Italy and Brussels, Belgium (which I wrote about here and here).

This was also the time I became an uncle for the first time in my life when my cute little niece Nahla came into the world. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t exactly an ‘achievement’ on my part but then I realized how much more there is to life.

Spring was exceptionally good in purely physical terms as well, and that’s when I also started going out for runs and workouts (believe it or not, there’s actually a parallel bar in the middle of the woods near my place!)

Towards the start of summer, I timed-out for a two week trip to India – caught up with old friends, went to a wedding, realized divorces DO happen in real life, and came back to Frankfurt much wiser to the ways of a mature world.

In July, I landed myself my shiny new laptop, a whole bunch of games, new software (windows7 pre-ordered!) and other geek stuff that make me go wild.

August was when I finally realized how much time I was wasting on online forums after this incident, decided to quit and do something useful.
And I guess it did pay off, its surprising how much of Qur’an you can memorize in a short period of time.

Autumn was beautiful, and it was Ramadan, and it was a wonderful time – the only thing I missed was friends and family on Eid at the end of it; but then we can’t have everything every time can we?

And then coming to the start of this winter, the past couple of months have been quite busy – both at work (where we’ve had some major chaos) but more importantly, because of an interesting development in my personal life that has completely changed the way I look at the word ‘relationship’.
This is the kind of stuff that makes you want to hum and sing and smile for no reason at all and is actually the main reason for my lack of blog-ability the past couple of months!

Yes, I know what you’re thinking and it is true, and I promise a detailed post on this as soon as I can; and I still can’t stop smiling :)

All in all, I would like to look back and say 2009 was quite a successful year, and I’m only looking forward to more excitement in the coming months and for the rest of the year.

The power of “n”

Quick question:
What is the most obscure, unimaginative and down-right outrageous name for a video game you’ve ever heard of?

As it turns out, it is allowed to name a game after just one letter from the alphabet – and this is what it is:
(and no, the quotes aren’t included!)

This physics-based platformer – which is more completely known as “The way of the Ninja” – comes with heavy emphasis on skill and hardly any on graphics (our main character is actually just a stick figure), but don’t let that fool you. 
As webcomic xkcd once remarked, the greatest, most powerful gaming systems in the world still cannot match the same addictiveness of tiny flash-based games, and “n” is proof of it.


The objective of this incredibly addictive game is to guide our hero the ninja across a series of diabolical mazes (over a hundred of them in all!) and run, jump, slide through it collecting gold, while avoiding mines, laser beams, homing missiles and other death traps liberally spread throughout the mazes and get to the all elusive exit.
You have an unlimited number of lives to play each level; however as the game remarks: your patience may not be!

It falls in the same category as those embedded-flash browser games we used to sneak into our computer labs back in college, and isn’t any short on the fun part.

It also comes with a comprehensive level editor you can use to make your own mazes and upload them for everyone else to use, but from what I’ve seen, most of the user-created levels are way too difficult and aren’t really all that cool.
Nevertheless, there are some really challenging mazes out there, and even if you don’t want to play the online content there’s plenty to do in the original game.

And here’s the best part: 
The full version of this game is completely free for the PC/mac.
(You can download it from here or here)

And in case you’re really interested – there is also a paid version called “n+” on the PSP.

Now, why am I doing this?
Because I just spent the last 4hours hammering the arrow keys on my laptop trying to beat my own record (and cramping my fingers in the process), and so I want to spread the joy!

Regardless of whether you’re a hardcore gamer or just someone looking to kill time on a slow day at work (or college), this is one game you simply have got to play.
Even if you’re not that much into games.

Plane fear

Okay, I'll admit it: flying totally freaks me out.

Now given the fact that I do work for an airline company, hating planes isn't exactly helping my career. But while I'm not nervous about messing around with other peoples' flights, for some reason every time I'm at the airport I get butterflies in my stomach, my pulse starts to race, and I start to get anxious.

Airports are taunting, cold, mean places where no one can be trusted (would you rather watch over that loose bundle while that guy in the shabby jeans goes to the washroom?) and anyone can be a suspect.
The way airport security checks, rechecks and triple-checks everyone’s baggage, its as if anyone could be a possible attacker planning to blow up the next plane. 
And that’s not a comforting thought when you’re waiting in line.

And then there is more:
Since this whole Swine-fluenza started, anyone who so much as sneezes or coughs becomes the target of everyone’s attention and discreet avoidance.
In case you’re wondering – yes, it IS still a big deal, at least at airports. Back in April (when the whole thing started) I was on my way to Munich when I see a guy at the boarding terminal wearing a surgical facemask and holding a passport that boldly declared “Mexico”.
Understandably, there wasn’t a soul within 10meters of him in every direction.

It doesn’t end there. While I’m inside the plane, every time the flight attendant passes the meal tray over my head to the next passenger, I have this morbid fear of the tray slipping off her hand and falling on me.
And with good reason: it has happened to me.

Somehow, economy class food-trays are so designed that they hold stuff in exactly one arrangement: the way it is when you first get it. Any other arrangement and you know the fork’s gonna fall over the salad bowl which then tips over that piece of rehydrated chicken that lands on your lap and all of hell breaks loose as you try to retrieve the fork, causing the little cup of juice to spill over the passenger next to you!

Ah, the joys of air travel…

The Door and Devil May Cry 3

For those of you joining in late, the Devil May Cry series is a best-selling franchise developed by Capcom Ltd., Japan marketed here by Capcom Entertainment Inc, Central Europe.

The series primarily revolve around demons and other dark forces, which Dante – the series protagonist – must overcome. Gameplay is quick with plenty of adrenaline pumping slashing and gore…
…until you get to a scene in the 3rd game (available for PS2 and PC) where Dante's brother enters the Demon's domain through a rather familiar-looking door. Here is what it looks like: 


If you can’t make the connection, here’s a hint:


Above shows a picture of the Door of the Ka’bah, the single most sacred religious location on earth for over a billion people of the Islamic faith.

That this so-called “devil’s door” borrows its design from such an incredibly holy relic causes deep hurt and offence..and is completely unacceptable no matter which side of neutrality you look at it.

Understandably, a lot of people are upset and I personally know people who’ve been shouting their voices (or at any rate, their keyboards) hoarse about “boycotting Capcom” and “banning their products”.
But what I can’t really understand (or accept) is why we as a people – Asians, Muslims and Indians in particular – are so paranoid about banning and boycotting stuff all the time…
…as if its gonna do anyone any good. I mean, assuming boycotts did work, who’s going to tell the statistics guy scratching his head at Capcom that the REAL reason the sales of one particular game dipped by 3% was due to religious indifference?

I’m one guy who doesn’t believe in Online Petitions or boycotts, so I wrote to Capcom at their London headquarters address telling them exactly what I felt about the whole thing.
To be honest I didn’t really expect a reply (who answers back to criticism anyway?) but they did. And here is what they had to say (translated from German):

“Dear Mr. Noor,

Thank you for your message regarding religious artifacts in Devil May Cry 3 We regret that this injury has been caused to religious feelings. The title was developed in a production department of our Japanese parent company, which we will refer to this as soon irreverence.

We will do our best to remedy this artifact representation. Unfortunately, this would be in the form of a patch and would be available only in the PC version because for the PS2 console version it is not possible to produce any program code changes, and also not is not allowed on our part.

With kind regards from Hamburg,

name withheld>
PR Manager
(Capcom Entertainment) Central Europe”

I know we still have no confirmed dates for the rollout of this patch, but at least they acknowledged that the problem exists…and promised to do something about it.
Of course they are saying there’s nothing they could do about the PS2 version but that is understandable – after all the ten-year-old console isn't exactly cutting edge on upgradability.
But still, I guess I'll be okay even if it is just the PC version getting the patch to remove the offending door. 

Personally, for me it means there is still hope in the world and that people are willing to listen, and reaffirms my faith in the power of the Written Word.

And that “boycotts” and “bans” aren’t necessarily the best way to deal with a problem.