Thursday, March 31, 2005

Finding Kipling

I stopped in front of my friend's wall where he had hung his various degrees. One of them looked more wordy than others and I peered in to take a closer look. It was a few very well-written paragraphs of what looked like an oath or an obligation.
My friend* explained that he had graduated as an Engineer in Canada and had participated in a ceremony to honor a commitment to a standard of conduct for Canadian Engineers. This is the uniquely Canadian Ritual of Calling of an Engineer which started in 1925. Since then it has been emulated elsewhere, including in the US.
The ritual has a fascinating history, of broken bridges and seven wardens who got together to repair the damage to a profession. However the most exciting part of it to me was the fact that it was Rudyard Kipling who suggested the ceremony and also wrote the actual words that are used as the obligation. I am quoting them below as I found them here.
I _____, in the presence of these my betters and my equals in my Calling, bind myself upon my Honour and Cold Iron, that, to the best of my knowledge and power, I will not henceforward suffer or pass, or be privy to the passing of, Bad Workmanship or Faulty Material in aught that concerns my works before mankind as an engineer, or in my dealings with my own Soul before my Maker.

My Time I will not refuse; my Thought I will not grudge; my Care I will not deny towards the honour, use, stability and perfection of any works to which I may be called to set my hand.

My Fair Wages for that work I will openly take. My Reputation in my Calling I will honourably guard; but I will in no way go about to compass or wrest judgement or gratification from any one with whom I may deal. And further, I will early and warily strive my uttermost against professional jealousy and the belittling of my working- colleagues in any field of their labour.

For my assured failures and derelictions I ask pardon beforehand of my betters and my equals in my Calling here assembled, praying that in the hour of my temptations, weakness and weariness, the memory of this my Obligation and of the company before whom it was entered into, may return to me to aid, comfort and restrain.

Upon Honour and Cold Iron, God helping me, these things I purpose to abide.**

I love Kipling's way with words, the air of gravity he imparts to simple things. I was really caught by the two phrases he uses, "Honour and Cold Iron", and "dealings with my own Soul before my Maker" when I first glanced through the obligation. I know it has been read by many others before (a lot of engineers in Canada for example) but I was thrilled to have 'discovered' it quite the way I did.

* Thanks to my friends Gayle and Peter for helping out with this post!
** The ritual itself is copyrighted, but I am not sure about the Obligation and hence I have reproduced it in full above. In case I am infringing some copyright, I will be glad to remove the post and just link to the site where I found it.

View from Keys viewpoint

© 2005 Gayle Kritayakirana

Joshua Trees

© 2005 Gayle Kritayakirana

Cholla Cactuses

© 2005 Gayle Kritayakirana

Blooming flowers

© 2005 Gayle Kritayakirana

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More about me and a short movie review.

I am kind-hearted and hospitable, cheerful and well-liked. Don't believe me? Well, I have it on the best authority - my fortune cookie from dinner!!
Anyway, in honor of my chicken in hot garlic sauce dinner, I watched a brand new DVD that I have been wanting to watch for a week, a Miyazaki movie called Porco Rosso. It is about a strong, silent, rather grumpy hero who flies seaplanes. He also just happens to be a pig. There are all the requisite Miyazaki staples: incredible flying sequences, a spunky teenage female, a gang of baddies who are not all that evil and so on. It was also fun to find bits and pieces that show up in other Ghibli movies, like the old man at the junk dealers who looks so much like the Kamaji character from Spirited Away and the various pirates who resembled the ones in Laputa. I really liked the whole concept of a world-weary, cynical yet brave hero who "would rather be a pig than a fascist." There were a few loose ends left, maybe for possible sequels as the movie originally meant as inflight entertainment for Japan Airlines.
I have read some online reviews of the movie which were disappointed by the perceived lack of emotional depth in the film compared to other films by Miyazaki-san. To them I blow a cheerful raspberry. I think the movie is all round good fun with a smart and brave yet innocent young girl who designs planes, a bunch of loser pirates who remind me of Asterix comics and a dashing lonely pig who would not be out of place in 'Casablanca'. Go and watch it!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Instead of a letter...

The best part about making friends who are not from the same school, college, social circle or workplace is that they in turn lead you to experiences that would otherwise have been entirely unknown. I recently met a fellow blogger, who is Bengali like me but is from Delhi and has followed a very different career path than I have. She goes to Grad School here and her boyfriend is Greek.
Last Friday was the Greek Independence Day and I ended up going to a bash at the Greek consul-general's house with them. This was a lovely house high up in Beverly Hills with a view of mountains and far-off city lights. The crowd was quite eclectic and I met a whole range of people, ranging from a gentleman who is in the Chinese consulate here to an Olympic gold medal winning gymnast. I had gone straight from work and felt rather slovenly in my Friday casual jeans and sneakers (in anticipation of next day's hike) next to the suits and pearls. However my friends were absolute sweethearts and made me feel totally at home - thank you!
After the party I had to run off to Claremont to stay over with another friend and her boyfriend. This was so that we could drive out to Joshua Tree national park the next morning where the desert flowers are blooming. The landscape was barely green, that too after an extraordinarily rainy winter. Fluffy Cholla cactuses and gnarly branched Joshua trees that the Park is named for, made for a landscape that looked unearthly and alien. There was a lovely viewpoint high up looking over valleys and far-off peaks as well as interesting rock formations that my friend described as giant piles of elephant dung. Yes, not very poetic I am afraid!! There was also a lovely little oasis with hummingbirds flitting and purple flowers growing in the cool shade of huge fan palm trees. Oh and we also saw a coyote.
Of course we also managed to stop by at an outlet mall on the way back for about an hour and a half - from the sublime to the material...
I am spending Sunday recovering from all this junketing around. I have taken a three hour siesta in the afternoon after watching Garden State. I have also started reading The Shadow of the Wind and I like it a lot so far. That's about it for today - I shall wind down watching some episodes of Seinfeld and fall asleep on the couch I guess. Good night!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A quick one.

Anek kaaj, phaNki mere du line'er blog likhchhi. One has suddenly found one's groove. One has met up with oooold friends in the Bay area and eaten like a pig last weekend. One is meeting more friends for a dinner tomorrow and is probably driving to some place that has National Park tagged to its name, this weekend. One is happy and busy. Hence - no posts!
By the way I have three brand new DVDs waiting to be seen - Porco Rosso, Nausicaa and The Cat Returns - look them up on Amazon or better still the Miyazaki website. I am also watching the third season of Seinfeld on DVD.
I did watch "The Day After Tomorrow" last night. It did not fail to amuse with its obviousness nor fail to manipulate emotions with the spectacle of lots and lots of people dying horrible deaths. That the entire county of Los Angeles appears to be blown off the map very early on in the movie, with the Hollywood sign going first, was cool, though it did make the rest of the movie appear a little futile to me personally, heh.
And there ends the longest 'du line' ever.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Of shoes and ships...

I have been spreading my wings lately, as far as driving goes. I drove to Monterey Park for Dim Sum again and then to Pasadena, a couple of trips to Hollywood and so on. I think this might be a good time, to write about the first time I drove in Beverly Hills.
Well there I was, just my second day driving (the second car from my first post about driving) in LA. I was trying to get to Century City, where my office is, to sign some papers. As inevitably as Southern California's days are sunny, I lost my way.
I was travelling, what seemed to me to be, a North-South route. I was stopped at a red light in the lane next to the right turn one, and decided to go West instead. I turned my steering wheel a pretty sharp right to change lanes, as I had stopped rather close to the car in front. Of course I could not straighten the car out in time. There was a fairly loud noise as the car jiggled ominously and went over what felt like a very high bump on the street and settled down with the front right wheel on the pavement.
There was an L.A.Weekly stand on the ground, haplessly slain by one who didn't mean to (belatedly, I apologize). Undaunted I reversed and straightened the car, but the tire was quite flat by now.
So the police arrived and so did the AAA guy (courtesy the exorbitant full insurance I had purchased). With the tire changed, the car was drivable albeit dinged badly. Most humiliatingly, everyone seemed to think it was awfully funny. The policeman did not bother to even file a case - just told me that they would send me back to Illinois, were I to be found doing stupid driving in BH again, and giggled to his colleagues over the radio.
Oh, and when I took the car back to the rental agency, they refused to rent any more cars to me.
So there you have it, another humiliating driving story. Hopefully I will not have any more to tell you!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Life is beautiful.

I don't know whether to call the story that you can read if you follow this link, a cosmic coincidence or serendipity - but go ahead please read. There is no overt politics in the story if that would bother you. It made my cynicism go away for a few seconds...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

One of those posts about songs

I think one of the things that really binds India together, is music. Or more specifically, Bollywood music. There are various people, in my life at least, with whom the only conversations we have, where we talk at the same pitch, are about music.
This post is about just one song, Aaj kal paon zameen par, from the movie Ghar. It is a beautiful song that formed a part of the soundtrack in my head for about a year or so. I associate it deeply with one particular relationship - but in a very personal way. The other person has no clue (I think) that this song was tripping its way through my head those days. It is not even that the words were very appropriate or meaningful really. This song just was a background hum in my head.
The funny thing is that this song is linked to my passwords on various websites and the like from that time period. So now everytime I check hotmail, I have the song going around in my head! So even though the relationship has faded, the song keeps bumbling back.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Small update

Brownies too!

Have not gotten a life yet...

Just pretending!

Over the week since I last blogged, I have:
- Worked.
- Had copious quantities of decent to good food in various restaurants.
- Watched Kill Bill vols. 1 and 2, the extended edition of ROTK (including all the extras!!) and Anatomy of a Murder.
- Had just half a glass of a very nice wine - all because I was driving. Gosh darn it!!
- Watched the Oscars with three very nice people. Making new friends is fun!
- Driven 120 miles on Saturday to eat nice Thai food with yet another new friend. Also got lost for a bit in east L.A. - not for the fainthearted!
- Had cups and cups and cups of hot chocolate which is my usual poison in coffee shops as I like my caffeine sweet!
- Worked.

Well that's all for now!