Podcast by Anon on Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The day so far has been lazy. The Sun is playing peek-a-boo throughout the morning and now it seems like Heís gone into hiding forever. The hygrometer on the dining table is hovering around 50, and the temperature needle refuses to come below 25ļ. (I just love meters...tachos, speedos, gauges, chronos....somehow, they just seem to know it all, yet seem so humble).
The clock in the middle is ticking away slightly after 2. I have finished my meals and am feeling drowsy. The load shedding schedule, now four long hours a day, says the power is about to be restored in an hour. That has also taken its toll on the batteries in the boom box and itís so low on juice that the radio also works for a few minutes before the system shuts itself down. Meanwhile, I can hardly read due to the darkness the clouds have brought along. Futility overtakes me as I abandon the newspaper and walk over to the windows.
Outside, everything has fallen silent....the lull before the storm.
The relentless cacophony of the singing birds throughout the morning, has suddenly fallen silent as they would be off seeking refuge from the inevitable rain; wet feathers could be fatal, "Nature, red in tooth and claw". Just a few hours ago, I had observed their various activities as they went about living their tiny lives, moving their necks in alert, robot like movements, and chirping sporadically; a different tone and tune every time. Some painstaking gathered twigs for building nests, some pecking at the cashew fruits, only to jump out, their wings fluttering rapidly, when the ripe fruit fell to the ground with a muffled thump, and then resting on the branches near another (forbidden?) fruit. The small ones (we have some six-seven different species around, and I am no ornithologist) were moving deftly; almost invisible due to their camouflage, acrobats in the foliages, searching for food-titbits thrown by my mom for the ever hungry little things.
Even the cat, who is usually lazing around the pile of dead leaves that crunch loudly under its weight, is nowhere to be seen. The trees have stopped all movement, the atmosphere charged and the sky overcast; the air is tense in anticipation!
A drop in the atmospheric pressure sends gusts of wind blowing in. There is frantic rustling of leaves and a few more muffled thumps as some ripened cashews fall to ground. The window panes rattle and a parrot abruptly screeches somewhere amongst the canopy. I glance towards the only break in the woods from where I can see the sky. A lone pigeon is struggling against the wind, its wings flapping and the tail rudder yawing erratically. [Strangely], it reminds me of the trawler from "The perfect storm" in the choppy seas. It quickly goes out of sight behind the roof of the semi-deserted opposite apartment. I turn back, and have trouble adjusting to the relative darkness that has enveloped the room. It should be pouring anytime soon.
But nothing happens.
I try to catch a siesta, but Morpheus refuses to grant me the simplest pleasures in life.
So I get up and look out of the northern window this time. The fallen cashews lay scattered over the garden and on the shed beyond the boundary wall; some fresh, some decomposing, semi eaten by ants, birds and the squirrels. Not enough in number to spread their sweet acerbic fragrance around, though. The ground is somewhere between damp and dry. The Silver Oak sheds some of its compound leaves and they fall straight down like an anchor. A couple of fallen neem leaves move around intermittently with the wind, as if dragged across by invisible threads.
Still no rain!
I try to turn on the radio. No nice songs on either channel. When will we have radio channels with relevant songs played depending upon the weather? That would be so cool! (Then again!)
The power resumes. The washing machine starts its groaning, and the kitchen lights come on. I keep the lights in the room off... the dim light adds a rustic element to the room. When it starts raining, they will shut off the power supply again, anyways, I think.
I resume my watch by the window. The sky lets out a small rumble. There is a slight slosh and a leaf on one of the Ashoka tree momentarily dips down and springs back immediately. Then another...and another. It has happened! Itís raining.
The dance of the leaves quickens in pace as the crescendo continues. Pretty soon, the sound settles into a constant drone as threads of water seem to hang out of the sky. They fall noisily on the leaves, the tin shed, the concrete porch and the earth. The earth absorbs every drop that falls on her. (I think of how I can sometimes *feel* the water as it flows through my esophagus ...crawling slowly through the insides... as it makes its way into the stomach. Does the Earth feel it too?) The air is filled with a redolence that no perfume can replicate. My senses reel as I breathe in deeply, filling my lungs with the fresh air mixed with the scent.
The Ashoka trees and the Silver Oak are looking downcast, as if not wanting to get wet, but canít help it; their leaves pointed towards the ground, trying to direct all the water where they need it the most. The cashew tree looks like it is standing in defiance against the manna from heaven and the "Chaafa" is, as the song goes, silent and unmoving. My thoughts are interrupted by a prolonged crackle of the thunderclouds. The deep rumble continues to reverberate long into the distance. The sound of cascading water joins the orchestra. It is the water from the drain pipes of the balconies above us, emptying out in our garden. The smaller plants are still jumping up and down with the raindrops. Periodic gusts of winds make the trees sway, as if nodding in agreement to my thoughts.
I close the window to stop the water from coming in and another mortar shell explodes somewhere, as if disproving my action. 
I fall asleep by the window listening to the symphony....and miss the most exiting F1 race of the season!



7 iTune(s)

Podcast by Anon on Friday, April 22, 2005

Itís here, ppl! My shiny new iPod Shuffle (1GB) that I ordered (via Amazon) and had it shipped (Royal mail, £5 extra!) to a friend in UK on his way back here.
It was a long wait, but when it is finally here, it has been worth it! (The credit card check is not in yet!!)
This will not be a full scale review... since Iím just getting used to it. Or maybe, I am not ready for a critical view of this utterly simple yet fantastic piece de resistance. (Like the Zippo!) Maybe Iíll save it for Rave Reviews ... Part 4
The story so far is very short. First impression is that itís very, no, extremely tiny...minimalist. Neat is the word here. Light as a feather and about the size of a D segment car key (those that feature the anti theft security system remote built in...unusual comparison, I agree, but I couldnít think of anything else!)
Elegant and nifty packaging, and has 2 stickers of the famous once bitten (twice shy?) apple. But since I donít believe in free advertising, I wonít be using them. If anyone wants them, just ask (nicely) and I might give them away. They say they are giving out free singles on Apple store every week, but it requires me to register, (which is not a distinct possibility).
The headphones are good. The plug inserts smoothly and feels plush. Not so with the removable USB port cap, though. Although the cap fits pretty snugly, the line is visible.
Had to load the software first before I could see the control folders on the "removable drive". But I am not worried about the mandatory iTunes requirement for hearing songs on the shuffle...some guy has created an amazing program (for all possible platforms) that you store on your shuffle (8KB executable only): load songs in any manner and just run that executable/script. It fools the iPod to think that iTunes has filled the songs....brilliant! (Check http://shuffle-db.sourceforge.net/, if youíre interested.)
But I still had to initialise the iPod once, and then charge it for 4 hours (through the USB port itself) before I could use it! (Seemed like ages, you know!) Have filled in a few songs through the AutoFill and Party Shuffle option in iTunes, and am still on those. First, listened, rather, tried to listen to some podcasts, but got bored, and switched to music. Was about time too...the sound is crisp, and if you increase the volume, it can get quite loud. Heck! I could hear what seemed like the sound of rotating CD in a couple of songs...must be illegal, of course. But I think I get the point (Ďsound qualityí, you moron) across.
It hasnít been out of my ears for long...
A few ppl aware of what an iPod is (!!) inquired about it, while some thought it was a hearing aid!! (Apparently, in spite of working in the IT sector, they belong to the Stone Age...hearing aid tech. is advanced enough to spare the handicapped the embarrassment!  How I wish I could run an "Auto Updater" on them!)
The news spread surprisingly fast, with ppl coming over and exclaiming..."Hey, I heard you got an iPod!"
Wow! (What was that again, Prof. Snape? "Truly, fame isnít everything!"? Please say it again!)

Get used to stares if you plan on acquiring one (soon enough)... the Chinese white colour (Chinese made, too!) buds make it even more attention grabbing! (I refuse to wonder how it will look after a couple of years of constant use!)

So far, my ears are ringing (feels like the pods are in my ears long after I remove them) but still, "Iím loviní it!" (Okay, go ahead; read that in as many ways the McDís ads say it!)

Update: I'm walking with a spring in my step these days!


6 iTune(s)

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