Monday, January 28, 2008


Got an insignificant, or as it seemed from the ‘Esteem’ brought by Pepsi.

It was a cold winter night of 1998; the clock would have read past two. I was at the dining-turned-study table, had a hot cup of coffee alongside. Working out some mechanics problem from Irodov was the last I remember before falling asleep. When I woke up a half-hour later, I found myself face down on the diary I used to maintain then (which I later destroyed page-by-page because it was full of depressing stuff), the above sentence scrawled over it, and cold unfinished coffee spilled on the table. I have absolutely no idea what does the sentence mean, even though I wrote it.

Somniscription. [sŏm-nĭ-skrĭp'shən] -noun.

Under the larger category of parasomnias, the act of writing while the sufferer is asleep or in a sleeplike state; generally occurs earlier in the night when rapid eye movement (REM) or the ‘dream stage’ of sleep has not yet occurred.

[Origin: 2008; from L. somnus “sleep” + scriptus, pp. of scribere “to write”].

The sentence makes no sense, is grammatically incorrect, and the words Esteem and Pepsi are ambiguous. Crap, in short. You don’t expect expert verse from someone who is fast asleep. Like other sleep-related disorders, a somniscribe is not aware of his actions in sleep.

Somniscription is quite rare a phenomenon, which can be ascertained from the fact that I could not find any word on the world-wide-web that describes sleep-writing. Or maybe it is included in the larger umbrella of somnambulism, sleep-walking, which however, clearly includes sleep-eating and sleep-sex (BTW, what’s the fun if you don’t know you are doing it?). The only two resources talking about sleep writing I could google out were:
  • this page from Encyclopedia Britannica, which talks about people writing in sleep with a mental picture of the page before them and the words they have written. They do not see what they actually write, and the page talks about an experiment that proves this.
  • this blogpost by one Joel Derfner, where the linguist-turned-musician- turned-aerobics instructor wonders if he was actually setting up e-mail accounts in his sleep and e-mailing himself entries for his own Blogalike contest. He tries to come up with a word equivalent to somnambulate that meant writing in sleep but finds ‘somniscribe’ revolting.
I never had somnambulism or somniloquy, and not even the act by the word I just coined—somniscription. This was one isolated incident that happened, and I don’t think it might happen again; I have anyways become addicted to technology and no longer use a pen and paper to write. Yeah, maybe some day I wake up on my laptop to find I typed a post on my blog while sleeping, in which case I’ll have to come up with another term.

See also: Searching the net about somnambulism and somniloquism led me to a few interesting people who’ve recorded their sleep-talks and uploaded them on their blogs:

Somnography of Somniloquy
Sleep Talking On The Mic
Somniloquy Revelation

Friday, January 25, 2008

Should I watch Saanwariya?

I refuse to spell it the way Sanjay Leela Bhansali did, even though it is his product and he is free to spell it SSanvarriyaa, or S-A-W-R-Y-A, or maybe S-E-W-E-R-A-G-E. For a detailed reasoning, please visit one of my previous posts here, where I did an RoR on the movie.

Anyways, the question is, should I watch Saanwariya after all the criticism I got from the critics and media and blogs? As per my Review on Reviews, a few people enjoyed the movie, whereas a few others said it sucked! Someone said it is a one-time-watch.

I want to watch it because it is an SLB flick, and I have liked all his previous endeavours. The kind of effort he puts in his film-making, the grandeur, the intensity he shows, the way he makes non-actors like Aishwarya Rai act, everything is commendable. All his movies have had some wonderful music too. While some people (especially the lady bloggers I reviewed) liked the blue-black-green ambience throughout the movie, some others complained about SLB having shot the entire movie only at nighttime without lights. I think I'd love the gray (blue+green+black would anyways make gray). Sonam Kapoor's hairless back, unlike her father's, also tempts me to watch it, even though I'd like to skip Ranbeer's towel-sequence.

Now this colleague Vijay Krishna Mishra had a copy of Saanwariya, but he wouldn't share it with me. In fact, he deleted it because he did not like the movie and thinks he would be considered crazy if he tries to download it again. However, on my repeated and genuine requests, and some emotional blackmail 10 minutes ago, he is ready to download it for me, but with a condition: I write a post about it, asking people whether I should watch it or not, and if a single person answers in the affirmative, Vijay will download it for me. His addendum pops up on the IM as I write this post: I should play a fair game and not coerce anyone into saying a yes.

So all of my readers, especially she who wanted to watch it with me, please give me your honest opinion. All those whose answer is negative please consider if they watched a few memorable masterpieces of the last year like "Dhamaal", "Welcome", and "Khoya Khoya Chaand". If you have watched and liked any of these, you are not eligible to say a "No".

Please go ahead and participate in the poll by putting a comment. Please be frank and do not be afraid of Vijay. He is not Vijay Deenanath Chauhan, after all.

PS: The poll shall be open even after he is filled to his heart's content by one positive comment, and the post shall be open for other comments as well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Urge

As I read one of my favourite blogs in bed this morning, I had this peculiar urge: to work for a company whose office is located in the other end of city. I generally like riding any distances preferred to being time-bound with an office cab/bus, but today I felt I'd really like it, when I could sit down with my laptop, or a book, and enjoy my time up and down. The probability of a book, however, is much lesser, although that is what I used to do when I was in Delhi and used to travel back to my hometown on weekends.

View from my balcony.

Later (when I was completely awake): I realize this is quite a mammoth task to accomplish. Can't do that in one year. Too many strings attached.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My First Scratch

While reversing the car out of my parking, the bent right front wheel got stuck at the basement pillar. Shifting the gear to first, I inched ahead, but did not get the calculation right and the front of the car kissed another pillar. I did not feel the impact, but the security guard told me, and I got down to see four horizontal, small but visible lines at the corner of the bumper.

This happened barely a minute after I sat down for the first time at the steering wheel without someone who knew driving beside me. I bought a car last week, and this was meant to be a surprise birthday gift for Mom. My parents had been out for a month and had returned early morning last Thursday, and the car was delivered the same day in the evening. When I asked Mom and Dad to come down to the basement, they had thought I had wanted them to meet the girl I had finalized, and she had been shy and hesitant to come up home. Even after they reached the basement, it took them a couple of seconds to realize it were wheels and not heels.

So, the ten-day-old car has a minor scratch thanks to the overconfidence gained through three hours of driving lessons. Just because I did not want to argue, the other day I agreed with a friend otherwise, but driving a car is more difficult than riding a bike, for the simple reason it adds an extra dimension. On the road, a bike can be considered to be one-dimensional, and you don't have to bother about the far left edge scraping something.

Also, a bike is completely integrated with your body once you alight, and you can do everything without lifting either of the hands or feet, unlike in a car, when you have to constantly shift your extremities. Due to the linear nature of a bike, it is much easier to manoeuvre small gaps between vehicles and switch lanes. Of course a car is more comfortable, and poses lesser risk for you (and more for others) on the road.

Well, a four- and a two-wheeler are meant to serve different purposes, and have their own sets of comforts and discomforts. I could ride a geared two wheeler around eleven years ago, even though I had my own only last year. But never started learning driving a four wheeler till I bought one. And now that I have put my money into it, I'll have to learn driving, and no level of listing the problems of a car against the merits of a bike can really help.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Sleepless Dream Come True

I have always found sleeping a waste of time. My parents find my nocturnal tendencies pretty normal now and get worried if I go to bed before the wee hours of the morning. I have this bad habit of stretching myself in many things, sleep being no exception—my average slumber on weekdays turns out to be little over 5 hours, and on the weekends to 7 hours. I try to be up with my computer on the lap till I literally fall asleep. Oftentimes my friends on the opposite side of the globe suddenly find themselves talking to a non-respondent, snoring ashes, oblivious of the repeated BUZZ!es on the IM window in the middle of a conversation; the clock might say fivish in the morning then.

I have always wished I could stay up longer utilizing time, though I am never able to make proper use of it; I would rather keep awake and waste time reading irrelevant stuff over the internet or chat about trivial issues or simply surf channels on the television or check my emails several times, but nevertheless, that’s not the point. The essence is I want to waste as less time on sleep as possible. Maybe if I know I would not fall asleep, I’d be able to plan out and execute things in a better fashion.

I had often wished there was some alternative to sleep, a pill or something. A recent study by Darpa-funded scientists at UCLA has made my dream come true. The research advocates a naturally occurring brain hormone Orexin A to be a promising candidate to become a sleep-replacement drug. This peptide could be used in a nasal spray, as it was used in the relatively benign study on primates, which reversed the effects of sleep deprivation, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests.

Such a product could be widely desired by millions of people across the world who feel twenty-four hours a bit too less to do all that they want to. People would use it to work or party longer, or to increase alertness wherever and whenever needed. Students could work and study and enjoy, reducing the inactive time in bed. Working mothers can do full justice to their children and work. Children could stuff going to school and completing their homework and playing—all in a day without the loss of any one of them.

On a larger scale, countries legalizing this drug may develop into faster-rising economies than the ones prohibiting its use, for the simple reason their people would be able to work longer hours. Salaries would plunge because of instant doubling of manpower. Securities can keep round-the-clock vigil with less number of shifts and much lesser risk. Well, there can be several unpredictable uses that can change the world around us.

However, I am not very optimistic about the drug hitting the shelves very soon. I believe it is still “miles to go before I don’t sleep”. For one, some other counter-research might find not sleeping resulting in cardiovascular or metabolic disorders, or worse, impotency and infertility, as half of the studies on half of your daily actions reveal. Second, any commercial treatment using Orexin A would need approval from the FDA, which can take several years.

Till then I can only use caffeine and lose sleep dreaming about an anti-sleeping-pill.

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