I read in a delightful book a few days ago about how particles of inspiration continuously zip through the universe; and how, by some quirk of statistics, they make contact with susceptible minds. The results? Revelations in the murk of half-sleep about the benzene molecule being a carbonaceous hexagon; or the X-ray plate revealing the truth about a double helix; or the realisation that there exists an all-pervading force of attraction between any two bodies possessing mass (The legend goes that this particular particle was rather red, and rather tangible.). Things like that. Pretty important, I’d say.

Most are never hit- the book says- while a blessed few are hit once or twice in their lifetimes (And they go on to propound theories that change the world.). But the most unfortunate are those weird particle-magnets who, by some statistical bias, seem to get them all. Like me. When the first one hits, I work out an ingenious method to overcome the problem I was wrestling with. Then the second one hits and my mind, true to its impish nature, begins exploring the ways in which the subject of my project could be turned into a bomb. I work that out and am immediately hit by what could only be called a hailstorm of particles, and the resultant cerebral riot forces me to turn to my blog. Forgive me, netizens, polluting the internet allows me to preserve my sanity. But oh boy, a single particle can cause enough havoc sometimes.

“Looking happy today, Shaunak.”


A rather reckless particle of inspiration had chosen that very moment to dive out of the ionosphere and straight into the right hemisphere of my brain, and was now happily splashing around trying to drown the other, more important, things- like the ITT I was about to start on in a few seconds, and the worries about whether my injured knee would start creaking again- with alliterated nicknames for Craig. (Sorry, mate. I’m ready to die on the next ride.)

“Rocket Raynes?”, the particle ventured.

” Sounds too much like Rocket Raccoon. Get the hell out of my head.”

“One. Two. Three. Go!”

“Who, me? Dammit!”

I pushed off, somehow managed to scrabble on to the saddle without any incidents, and fumbled the clip-in.

“Double dammit.”

I glanced down and realised that I had not started the GPS.

“Triple dammit!”

Gawd I despised untimely hits!

“Ripper Raynes?” the particle insisted.

“Oh, shut up.” I focused on Raghu, who had started before me and was now hammering away tucked in the TT position, about 300 metres ahead. I did not have TT bars, and wondered if I had enough power left after the injury to catch up with him.

“Craig the comet?”

“Stop trying.” I impatiently batted the particle away and focused on my cadence. It buzzed away to a corner of my mind and gave what it obviously thought was a menacing growl. If only it weren’t in falsetto…

My legs were definitely weaker, but my heart was still just as strong. I decided to keep spinning at over 100 rpm and transfer the load to my aerobic engine, and prayed that the result would be the same.

I passed Kartikeya and was almost on to Raghu when Craig zipped past.


“Crusher Craig?” My nemesis was back. And it had a point.

“Yup, definitely. Well done.” I patted the particle. It purred, tried to take an affectionate bite out of my mental hand and melted away.

I heaved a sigh of relief and glanced at my GPS. 9.6 km, 165 BPM and 36 kmph. My knee seemed good. What if I went full-power now?

“Might as well. God mode: Engage.”

Finish line

I slumped back on the saddle and took another look at my data. 24.5 km, 175 BPM, 38.17 kmph and 97 rpm. And my knee didn’t hurt!

Yep. I was happy. Definitely.



I was handed this book when I was loafing around my favourite bike shop last Sunday,  running a probing finger over my injured knee while keeping an wary eye out for a certain gormless kitten; and listening, I admit with some feigned contrition, to Mr. M grumbling about how my bike seemed fresh out of an oil-and-grime bath. It took me barely two minutes to go through the first piece, but when I had, I was smiling like a man who had just had a mystical revelation. I read it again, and again, and again. I caught myself memorising the passages, savouring the elegance of the images they conjured, and marveling at how they stirred the rider in me. Here was a man with passion, speaking to other men (and women) with passion, about how his heart lifts a little every time he swings his leg over his machine, “at a moment pregnant with possibility.”

So many possibilities… Indeed, so many possibilities.

“To set out on a bike is always to travel with the expectation of an encounter. We are not bound by the rules of public transport of politely pretending that our fellow passengers are invisible and that whatever temporary association binds us is purely a coincidence of direction and certainly not to be mistaken as a justification for social intercourse. Nor are we prisoners of the myth of invisibility of the private motorist, who feels impregnable in his (usually his) sound-system asociality, but is, in reality, a goldfish trapped in a bowl and a figure of pity and derision.”

James Randerson and Peter Walker (2012-08-13). Cyclebabble: Bloggers on biking (Kindle Locations 94-98). Guardian Books. Kindle Edition.


“On a bike, stopped at a light, tourists ask us directions – because we know the topography of cities better than town planners, police officers and civil engineers. Better, even, than GoogleEarth, because we know contours and gradients too – we feel them in our legs.”

James Randerson and Peter Walker (2012-08-13). Cyclebabble: Bloggers on biking (Kindle Locations 98-100). Guardian Books. Kindle Edition.

And boy, does it feel good!

“And every few weeks, I run into someone I know. We ride the next mile together, annoying drivers by riding two abreast while we chat. A happy accident, this brief convergence of busy lives.”

James Randerson and Peter Walker (2012-08-13). Cyclebabble: Bloggers on biking (Kindle Locations 101-103). Guardian Books. Kindle Edition.

A smile, a nod, a wave, a shout in the middle of our intervals as we zip past a friend coming from the opposite direction… nothing like it, is there?

And then there’s this, meant especially for people like me who like their own company:

“But riding a bike is only incidentally social. Often, its finest hours are those spent alone, in that rare and desirable commodity of private communion with oneself: uncluttered by routine thought, just open to experience. It’s a gusty day, a sunny day; the leaves are turning, the blossom is coming out; a cold wind puts a ruddy burn on our cheeks, a summer breeze dries our perspiration. We experience the seasons, feel the weather in its fine detail of temperature, pressure, humidity, Beaufort scale, sun strength. Our senses are engaged, yet our minds set free to wander.”

James Randerson and Peter Walker (2012-08-13). Cyclebabble: Bloggers on biking (Kindle Locations 104-107). Guardian Books. Kindle Edition.

I ride out to train for races and rarely need to commute on a bike, but I feel you, Matt, I feel you. And damn, when would I write like you?

I will get on the rollers now. I missed my ride on account of an experiment today, and I must serve penance in my paincave.

Old flame

I honestly have no idea how many books I have. I’m too lazy to count. Some books I hold very close to my heart (Yeah, I have one. Beats at the rate of 49 per minute!), some maybe I will pick up again some five years from this point of time, and some I have not the faintest idea how I could have bought, unless I had been intoxicated with alcohol or the blissful fumes of hashish! I’m joking about the hashish! And the alcohol.

Well the bottom-line of this rant is: I own too *add expletive* many books! I’m not very sure they have worked their magic on me. As a grumpy grad schooler, I still have those terrible moments when I seriously believe my brain growth somehow stopped at the age of 13. And quite frequently, too. The number of books I possess has not ceased to grow, however. My ‘wardrobe’, if you would be polite enough to call it so, is at the point of starting to overflow. I am a poor student. I don’t own a bookshelf.

Apparently, there are quite a lot of people with fully and admirably functioning CPUs who have faced, and continue to face the “bookshelf dilemma” (I love the way this lady writes. Pity her blog has had no entries in over a year now.). So, um, why not do the smart thing for once in my life?

My seniors say I looked like a lovesick idiot with that parcel from I suppose I might have.This would not be the first time; I am told that smile of mine lends me a rather unfocused and foolish look. The object it contained was, well, sleek.

   On came the 3G hotspot on my battered and sweat-stained Lumia 520, passkeys were entered, a connection to the swirling whirlpool of information promptly established. Aaaand I’m reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula now. The original. I admit I miss the musty aroma of the old copy dad has at home, the fragile feel of its age-browned pages; but I never knew how I had missed those small, warm flips my stomach used to do at the thought of returning to an unfinished story when I was younger. Until now. The fire is re-Kindled.

Old Flame (Contd.)

I was facebook-stalking a certain lady (10/10 would do it again. A fellow bookworm is a gem of a find! 🙂 ) when I came across a conversation debating the relative merits of the smells of old books and new ones. And BLAM! My authorly itch was set off again! I would tend to agree completely with that certain lady, having grown up among shelf upon shelf of dusty volumes myself. A book is not just the squiggles, more squiggles and even more of the black squiggles; the texture of the pages on your fingers, the musty aroma wafting into your nostrils, the warm weight of it- all add up to complete the experience.

But what do you do when the cupboard of your tiny hostel room threatens to overflow? Do you remain a stubborn purist, and pray for the damned souls roving the Stygian darkness of the electronic world? Or do you take a deep breath, loosen your muscles and take the plunge?

Well I took the plunge a couple of months ago. I found the water inviting; in fact so much so that it was only today that I realised that I have not ranted here in forever.

Amazon could not have chosen a better name for their product. My old flame has been Kindle-d into a roaring blaze in the last two months.  It is light, it is sleek, handles really well, and the use of electronic ink  and electronic paper tech in the display gives you the illusion of turning the pages of an actual, physical book! Too bad the 160 books in my pocket all smell the same!

end rant

P.S. Would love a critique if I do manage to work up the courage to share this on facebag. Aaand a book-chat and a reading-list suggestion would not be too bad, either.

There are plans to baby-talk about some of the science I have been trying to do as well.