“I was just about to mail you right now…”

…is such a pathetic excuse we (or at least, I) get from co-workers, subordinates and even the management sometimes that we completely ignore the real significance of this remarkable coincidence.
Mostly I just think, “Yeah right, so what else is new” before moving on to the actual topic of the call or email which is usually just as mundane as everything else at work.

This evening however was when I really found out the reality of this phrase in a rather delightful way. While I was having lunch this afternoon I thought I’d mail an old friend of mine who I hadn’t heard from in quite some time.

Now the trouble is, getting back in contact with people you’ve been out of touch with for a while, kinda feels awkward at times because you don’t really know what to say or how much to write.

It was with these confused thoughts that I logged into my Gmail this evening – and found to my delightful surprise, that I had an email from her just an hour ago, making it the first of all items in my inbox.

It wasn’t too long or complicated; just a “hi-its-been-a-long-time-so-just-getting-back-in-touch” mail that is guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face; especially when you were just about to mail them at that time.

I quickly read through it, and then started off my reply with,
“Hi, I was just about to mail you right now…”

And then I paused.

There's really no way anyone can understand what that statement actually means, is there?

5 reasons why I quit Twitter

(I know that at least two people reading this swear by this online service and won’t take too kindly to my bashing it…but if you’re reading – sorry you guys; I just had to write this one)

I’m willing to bet everyone reading this uses or at least has heard about Twitter, so I won’t get into the specifics of what exactly it is or what’s it for.

If you’re still wondering what I’m talking about, you might wanna watch Twitter in Plain English. It’s a wonderfully made video from the guys at CommonCraft and actually the reason I got hooked onto this what-to-do-online-when-you’re-bored thing.

Though I must say, and one must give it credit, twitter in itself is based on a brilliant idea:
Even though we have SMS, Email and instant communication, real life happens between blogposts and email; and you wouldn’t send an email telling your friends you’re having coffee right now. This is where twitter comes in, linking up your real life to your profile online and paint a picture of you to your friends in a rather unique way.

For me however, it simply did not work. And here is why.

1. 140 characters too long:
Technically, a twitter post cannot get longer than 140 characters. The idea is that you only make short posts – ideally just a sentence or two on what you’re doing – so that people don’t have to read too much.
Unfortunately, too many people get around this by posting links – which is heightened by services like tinyurl that compress large links – and ultimately leads to the information overload that twitter tried to prevent in the first place…and what we’re all too familiar with.

2. Similar alternatives present.
Though this might have been a recent development, social networking sites such as Facebook and Orkut also have a kind of ‘status message’ where you can tell the world what you’re doing. If you’re someone who already uses one of these services (like me), why bother with an additional online account to do the same thing? Its just one more thing to keep track of all the time.

3. Real life is not online.
This is the single biggest reason I quit. I don’t know how it works for other people but for me, “real life” happens OFFLINE…when I’m away from blogs, computers, and yes, even mobile phones.

For instance, the other day when I was out ice-skating with the guys would’ve been the ideal what-am-I-doing post that twitter looks for. But obviously, when you’re out on the blades, you don’t take out your phone to tweet “Just fell hard on the ice” when your priorities at the moment are elsewhere.

There’s a thin line between what can be online and what can’t, and some things just aren’t meant to be online.

And when I am online, what I do includes blogging, reading/commenting on other people’s blogs, getting banking done, socializing on networking sites and the like. None of which really carry a worth-while mention as long as I’m doing it.

4. Lack of “happening” events
This maybe a purely social thing…or it’s probably just me, but when you log in and read all your buddies’ posts on how the weather’s so beautiful at their place or that they’re off to have a great time somewhere; and then look back at your posts and see the only thing you’ve accomplished in the last two weeks is having 4coffees a day and playing a ton video games – it kinda starts getting depressing.

That, fuelled by a lack of interesting events in your life start to drive you crazy after a while. I mean come on, how many times can you tweet, “Alright, I’m off to work…again” and still hope to have a following?

The key is variety…and for a person with a routine lifestyle, it doesn’t really make much sense.

5. Lack of resources when you need them
Perhaps the best times when stuff happen to me is when I’m footloose – like when I’m off vacationing in another country. And most of the time, I’ve never had my phone or could access the internet when I could really use a tweet.

I mean, “The Eiffel Tower looks awesome” and “On my way to the Taj Mahal” would make really wonderful tweets and stuff I really wanna share with the people in my life…but let’s get real; you probably didn’t have internet access in your hotel room in Paris or on the train to Agra.

It’s almost as if there’s some sort of you-can’t-have-the-best-of-both-worlds curse; when something interesting does happen – I’ve no access to stuff online.

And I could probably list more, but these five are reason enough for me to stay off this teen-trend – and hope that the fans don’t take it too hard on me.

Bad Hair Day

Lesson to learn:
If there’s an empty hair-salon right across the street from two more that are fully packed – there’s probably a reason why it’s empty.
And its reason enough not to go there.

Unfortunately for me, I found that out the hard way.

To start with a bit of history; I’ve always had wild hair for as long as I can remember. And because I’ve never bothered much about it, now that I look back at my high school photographs; I really had a bad mess of spikes sticking up from my head most of the time.

Actually it mostly wasn’t really my fault – at almost every place I’ve been to, I’ve been told that my hair is the type that likes to stand on end.
Back when I was living in Chennai, I once discovered this promising-looking place and walked in:

“Good evening sir, what kind of haircut would you like?” asked a rather professional-looking guy.

“Um, I don’t know…any way you can change my hair style?”

“Sure sir, would you like spikes?”

(Dude, this was something I was born with…why on earth would I want spikes again?)
“Er…no, I have a day job you see”

“Well then, how about leaving it long at the ends?”

(Say what? To cut it short was the reason I was here in the first place!) 
“No. Anything else?”

“Sorry sir, your hair is kinda – “

“Yeah, I know. Just give me a regular haircut, okay?”

Anyway, that was two years ago, and I’ve learnt to live with my unique hair-ability and not to mess too much with it since then. And getting to the present, at the regular place where I now go to, I opt for the ‘normal’ cut (because for some strange reason, a “short” translates to getting your head shaved!) and hope that the guy understands a couple of words in English so I can tell him when to stop.

The place I went to today however, had a rather severe-looking guy; ran the machine though my head like a lawn-mower, taking too much off the sides, and then gives me this weird look that says,
“Gee it looks fine on this side, but somehow kind of different on the other.”

And as I sit in my room typing all this, my hair currently looks like a fuzz ball that’s just been through a blow dryer in a car wash.

And despite my efforts with tubes of gel; this is probably something that only time will heal.

When in Rome - roam.

Within the hacking circles there’s a saying that goes, “All good things take time – Rome wasn’t burnt in a day”.

And I don’t normally write about my travels but in this case I’ll make an exception. Because although I’m not quite sure how long Rome burned, it sure did leave a lasting impression on me.

Actually the main reason I write this is because, before leaving for the trip we checked out a whole load of websites on what to see and expect; but most of them kinda fell short on one aspect or another. If you’ve ever wandered to a site looking for info, you immediately find there’s usually more advertisements than useful data on them.

So for the benefit of all wannabe Rome-travelers I’d like to present, my take on the city in a completely unconventional way:

  1. Rome wasn’t built in a day: And there’s no way you can see it in one. If you’re not gonna be in the city for more than a day; the only thing you can do is head over to the Colosseum (which incidentally ranks among the most recognized landmarks in the world) for a few pix before getting out. Everything else needs more time. For instance, I've never really seen a view of the Colosseum this way:

  2. All monuments are so huge that you can’t really pose in front of one and still hope to get a good picture of both you and the monument. I’d suggest you take a camera that’s got some sort of panorama modes and take multiple pictures that you can later stitch up together.

    Your only other option is to take a really expensive pro-camera with a super wide-angle lens, which is more than what a lot of budget-travelers care to take. However, our experience showed that the panorama mode is quite sufficient for the everyday tourist, like this pic of the Fountain of Trevi below:

  3. Within the main stations and airport, all arrows pointing to anything, ANYWHERE, are ridiculous; and do more harm than good.
    For instance, a sign board with “Tickets => ” probably means there’s a ticket counter somewhere 2floors up and on the side, the first step of which starts in the direction indicated.
    We found this out the hard way while trying to locate a toilet based on an arrow that said “Restrooms =>” …and eventually found it in a narrow corridor 300m away in the 2nd level basement.

  4. The Vatican Museum is a waste of time. If you must see it, the best way is if you go there on the last Sunday of the month when the entrance fee of €14 is waived. Even so, we figured the only people who’d appreciate or even understand it are historians – specifically Christian historians for that matter.
    We, for the life of it, couldn’t tell the statues of the Popes from Popeye.

  5. ALL Asian-looking people, Indians and people from the sub-continent look suspicious. Don’t ask me why.
    Now I’m not a racist and don’t mean to say it like that, but seriously, every single non-white guy on the street we saw looked like they were gonna run away with your wallet any moment.
    If there’s any Asian, Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi living in Rome reading this – please, please, please write to me and explain what’s up with you guys. I really want to know.

  6. The view from the top of the main dome at St. Peter’s Basilica is simply breathtaking. But it comes at a price. In this case, in the form of 560steps snaking your way up through a narrow one-way-only corridor in the side of the interior of the dome, up to the 140m high observation platform!
    And even though there’s an elevator that takes you up half way, the rest of the 320steps can get claustrophobic. But its worth it.

  7. Everything you would've read about on tourist sites about Rome being a not-so-safe destination is true.
    Yes, we are sorry to state this, and I really hope the Italian Government takes note. Of all the countries I’ve seen, this was the only place where a member of our group was actually mugged. Luckily, the only thing he lost was a pack of cigarettes when the guy bumped into him on an escalator and grabbed his jacket for support. But the point is, it could have been anything. And we’re just glad it wasn’t his wallet or camera or worse; passport.

  8. Italian Pizza really is good. Very good. In fact, the best pizzas I’ve ever had. Pizza Hut and Domino's should be ashamed of themselves…and is probably the reason why we never saw any American pizza outlet branches in Rome.
    It figures, doesn’t it?

  9. Ditto for Italian ice cream. Nowhere else did I relish 3 exotic flavors on a single cone for just €2!

Anyway I really hope people don’t take it the wrong way; but this is just something that I felt I really HAD to share.