April 11, 2006


My brother’s wedding stuff is over – or almost over 🙂 The wedding was good and the get together of a few close family members a few days went even better. My only regret is that I didn’t get to speak to a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins that I had not seen in a long time. They say that the world is ever growing smaller and this generally does appear to be true. But at the same time, paradoxically, those close to us appear to be moving ever further away :p Or maybe it’s just me …

It’s just that there appears to be so much more to do these days that you don’t seem to find the time to talk to people or to spend time with them. In fact, I was supposed to have had a couple of more days off, spending some time with my brother and my parents but something came up at this end and so I had to get back to work a few days earlier than anticipated. But never fear, I probably will get those days off in a few days and I will disappear from the blog again for a few days suddenly :p

Things here in Sri Lanka are extremely hectic at the moment. It’s the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year when they celebrate the dawning of a new year. The streets are packed to overflowing with shoppers buying all sorts of stuff for the new year. There are vendors crammed into every available nook and cranny on the side of the roads. Traffic has to vend its way through the throngs of people overflowing off the pavements (where the vendors are) and on to the road. This really isn’t the time to be out and about in Sri Lanka. In a few days though, the New Year will actually dawn and the vendors will pack up their stuff and go home to celebrate along with all the milling shoppers. The streets will become completely deserted for a couple of days before they return to normal crowd levels. This again is a yearly cycle 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 7:28 am  |  No Comments

April 8, 2006

Breaks and pauses

I’ve not had much time to blog in the last couple of days. In fact, I haven’t been home at all much during the last few days. Yesterday was my brother’s wedding and we’ve been at my parent’s place from morning till night getting ready for the big even. And then there was the even itself yesterday and it was all done by about midnight. But that isn’t the end of it at all :p

Now there’s the post wedding stuff. We’ll probably be at my parent’s place for the next few days as well. There’s the post-wedding recovery stuff today and tomorrow there’s a groom’s lunch thing at my parent’s place where a few of the closest family members will gather for lunch. So there’s more work and more gatherings. Hopefully, we’ll have a couple of days to rest. relax and to recuperate after that before getting back to work and the everyday humdrum stuff of life 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 7:47 am  |  1 Comment

March 15, 2006

Family fun

It’s never easy when dealing with family, is it? 🙂 We were over at my parents place yesterday (and no, this isn’t about my parents :p) My brother is getting married soon and they are getting ready for the wedding in a major way. The invitations are going out, suits are being made, saris chosen, outfits coordinate – the whole works.

This leads me to the point of this post. The wedding is a fairly large function with about 400 people attending – around 150 from our side and 250 from the bride’s side. Now the problem is, over here you get family, extended family and the ever extending family :p You have so many people in the family circle that sometimes the ripple effects can be felt on the other end of the island :p On my Dad’s side for instance, he’s got seven siblings and on my mother’s side, she’s got five siblings. Each of these siblings has at least three (sometimes more) kids and each of those kids have kids as well. Then there are the other family members. My paternal grandfather had three siblings and each of them had eight or more kids – one of them had twenty, if I recall correctly. All of these, if not immediate family, are still family.

This is just the tip of the iceberg since I’m not counting all the other aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws and what not for about four generations. That’s a lot of people and somebody is going to feel left out no matter what you do. Of course, being a developing country, transportation is not the best and even though the island is barely 240 miles across at the longest point, it sometimes takes eight to ten hours to get from one point to another. So, some relatives are excluded by virtue of being too far away to get here. Even with that, my parents have had to make decisions as to who gets invited and who does not. They try to be fair and to make certain that there are representatives from each branch and sub-branch of the family tree. But that still leaves the question, how do you ensure that somebody does not feel left out?

I guess the answer is you can’t. No matter how hard you try, you can’t please everybody and you can’t make sure that nobody gets hurt. Sure, you can invite everybody over but then how are you going to pay for all of that? :p How are you going to find the space to house all the people? There used to be a time when weddings were simpler because it was usually a village affair. The bride and groom would be from the village, everybody gets together from the village, have the ceremony and it’s done. But no more. Now you have relatives all over the place and everybody has to be invited …. Ah the complexities of modern day life :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:41 am  |  No Comments

February 13, 2006

Is it the people?

I hardly ever go out anymore. Before I was married and before I got my current job, I had to meet a lot more people every day. There were people that I had to interact with at work, people I had to meet in the course of work, family get togethers and what not over the weekends and so on. Most of the work stuff dropped off once I got my current job and because of my marriage, we also moved away from the family circle – because we live on our own. Due to the nature of my work (I work remotely for a web hosting company), I don’t have the same schedule as everybody else here. I work over the weekend here and so the usual chances of mingling and meeting other people is greatly lessened. In fact, there are times that Laurie and I go a whole week without seeing anybody else :p This period probably would get extended even more if we didn’t have to go out to buy groceries.

So what has this got to do with anything else? Well, the fact is that every time we go out, I get headaches. Sometimes they are fairly mild but sometimes they can get to be rather intense. Now we’d been over to my parents’ place two days running this weekend (and then had to go out and meet other people with them) due to stuff going on at their end and now I have a doozy of a headache. It makes me wonder – is it all the people who give me a headache? Am I just allergic to people? :p Or maybe it’s just the complications involved in dealing with people that gives me a headache? At home, there are no complications – we understand each other and can (usually) tell each other what we think. But when you go out, you have to worry about how to phrase something diplomatically, how to make sure that feathers don’t get ruffled, try to figure out what people are "actually" saying as opposed to what their words mean and so on. Dealing with people is a rather complicated subject and I’m not certain that I take too well towards having to jump through all these hoops :p Is this what gives me a headache? I don’t know …

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Posted by Fahim at 8:23 am  |  No Comments

February 12, 2006

Powerless to act …

We lost power yesterday in the morning and I couldn’t work. A couple of days before that, the ADSL connection went out and when I called them up, they said that it would take about 5 hours to fix it. Today, the ADSL connection is up but it seems to be on the fritz – downloads stop after a while and I have to restart the whole thing all over again. This seems to be a general fact of life here in Sri Lanka – breakdowns happen and they happen often. And of course, you can’t do anything much about it.

Things didn’t seem to be so bad – or at least, the rosy glow of memory is misting up all the bad stuff :p But these days, everything seems to be reaching a pinnacle where breakdowns, laziness and sheer indifference is creating an untenable situation. But of course, when you live in a country and things appear to become this bad, what can you do? I don’t want to move anywhere else. I like Sri Lanka. Can you try to change the country itself? That is an interesting mental exercise but I am not sure how well it would work in practical terms :p

I don’t know about the ADSL situation but at least the power related issues are only in this particular area. My parents live about 15-20 minutes away and they don’t have as much trouble with power outages and such as we do. Maybe we should consider moving over there if this continues to happen but then there are issues with that as well … but isn’t there always some issue? Seems to be a fact of life – at least, you can’t complain that life’s boring :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:51 am  |  No Comments

February 9, 2006

When people care …

A few weeks ago, I talked about how people seemed to care only about money sometimes and not about the things that mattered. If you rant about the bad, you must also talk about the good 🙂 During the last few days, I had some very positive experiences with people who cared as well, so let me share.

I had gone to Soft Interface’s site a while back because I was interested in their Diff Doc software which does a great job at comparing two Word documents and letting you merge the changes. There are other such software around but Diff Doc is probably one of the more cheaper solutions and they do a great job. Unfortunately, the price tag of $400 was a bit too much for me since I don’t do any professional work using Word. I simply use Word to write my stories and Diff Doc was great for comparing changes between two versions of my manuscripts. Now if I had a writing contract and making money, I would have had no problems with paying the $400 but since $400 is more than a lot of people make a month here, I just couldn’t afford to. A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Soft Interface’s Allen Segall and he wanted to know if there was anything they could do to interest me in purchasing Diff Doc. I told him the situation and told him that if it had been about $50, I would have bought it immediately. Allen came right back and told me that they could drop the price down by $300 for me! To be honest, I was stunned. Not many people would care enough about a potential customer to do that. Of course, the price was still too high for me and I can’t afford to go for it but I still like how nice they were.

Then there is Eugene over at Add-in Express. I’d written a Word macro recently that would highlight often used (and misused) words and phrases as an aid to writers. The macro was a bit clunky to use since it didn’t have a nice user interface or anything. So I was looking around for a way to turn the macro into a nice user-friendly add-in when I came across the Delphi Add-in Express component. It was just what I was looking for! I wrote to Add-in Express and asked them if there was a possibility of getting a free copy to use in a freeware tool. I heard back from Eugene a couple of days later and he gave me a license, for free! For a piece of software which sells for at least $150!

These are just a few of the good people I’ve run into. There are more. There’s the nice folks at ElevateSoft, Addictive Software and WP Tools who have also been kind enough to donate software. Then there are people like Joana, Mary and Gino Sion who have been kind enough to agree to do covers for my book. These people are doing these things out of the goodness of their hearts, because they are genuinely nice people. So while I might rant about there not being enough care in the world, I do acknowledge that there still *is* care in the world – care for something other than money 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 7:13 am  |  2 Comments

January 22, 2006

Memories are made of these …

I’m totally sleep deprived today :p We had a gathering of old college buddies yesterday. We all went to this boarding school and it was 30 years ago that we all met. Well, at least most of them did meet 30 years ago. I joined this particular school in grade 9 while most of the others had been there from grade 1. It is over 18 years ago since I last saw any of them.

Somebody had the idea recently that we should get together for the 30th anniversary of the fist meeting for most of them. So they organized everything and it was supposed to be an evening event and I was planning to go. Suddenly somebody changed plans and two days before the event I was told that it was to be an all day gathering and they were meeting up on Saturday (yesterday). Of course, the problem is that I couldn’t go since I had work. So, through the day I receive calls from various people that I hadn’t heard of in close to 20 years and we keep talking about the good old days.

They were supposed to be there till 6 o’clock and my work ended at 5 o’clock. So I promised them that I’d meet them there at 5 but that if they were to leave before then, they should all come over to our place since we were like 5-10 minutes from where they were meeting. Close to 5 o’clock I get a call saying that they are leaving and that they were coming over to my place. I figured that there’d be may be 10 people tops. Imagine my surprise when like 6-8 vehicles pull up and around 20-25 people get out!

It was a great reunion. Of course, in the midst of it all, my replacement for the next shift does not arrive. So I have all these guys sitting around staring at me while I sit there waiting for the replacement to arrive :p I finally had to call my manager and get him out of bed to take over the shift. By that time, the guys had left to go over to somebody else’s place. However, one of the guys stayed back, since we have no vehicle of our own, and took both Laurie and I to the other guy’s place after I finally got off work.

It was a fun evening. We talked about old college pranks, old friends who weren’t there due to one reason or another, recalled all the old nicknames and screamed ourselves silly. It was over all too soon though since some of these guys had travelled around 7-8 hours to get there and they had to get back the same night. We ended up going with the same friend who gave us the lift over to his house to meet his wife. Then they came back over to our place and we had a nice conversation which dragged on close to midnight. The upshot of it all is that I had a terrific evening yesterday but I’m so tired today :p

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Posted by Fahim at 8:27 am  |  No Comments

January 21, 2006

Of basements and books …

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve started work on "Basement of the Universe". It’s going rather slowly at the moment but hopefully will gather momentum as I get deeper into the book. The title actually is older than the current story 🙂 We first gave that title to a story that we plotted out for a story that Laurie wanted to write. It was set in my universe but was about characters that Laurie had come up with. We plotted out the entire story and Laurie wrote the first draft in about three weeks.

After we had plotted out the story, I took certain elements from there and inserted them into "Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog" since I liked what I’d created. (In fact, I did the same thing with another story we plotted for Laurie but I’m not going to talk about that one yet :p) Anyway, the element that I added to "Honest" became such a big part of the story that when I started thinking about how things were going to proceed post-"Honest", I decided that it would work pretty well to incorporate the original "Basement" novel that Laurie wrote into the series of stories stemming from "Honest" 🙂 We discussed the possibility and I even started a rewrite of the story that Laurie had done so that it could be integrated into my story line better. However, somewhere along the way, we decided that it would be better to leave Laurie’s story alone and write a new "Basement of the Universe" for my series. So, Laurie’s novel was renamed to "Gatekeeper of the Worlds" and my new novel was titled "Basement of the Universe".

Of course, this resulted in a whole slew of changes – one of which was that Laurie ended up with a couple of prequels to the new "Gatekeeper of the Worlds" which in turn is going to be a prequel to "Basement" 🙂 Basically, the basement is a sub-universe in my main story universe and Laurie will be writing the stories which set up the sub-universe. So far, we have planned about 4 – 5 novels in that series for Laurie’s books and that’s not counting the 2 – 3 I have set in the basement for my "Honest" series. It’s going to get rather complicated pretty soon, I tell you :p

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Posted by Fahim at 8:01 am  |  1 Comment

January 19, 2006

Mosey on up to the bar

Since I was considering self-publishing and I still had no clear idea how good the story was, I decided to get the opinions of some people who enjoyed the type of story I wanted to tell. So, a couple of days ago, I went over the alt.fan.pratchett newsgroup and posted there asking if there were any volunteers to read the first few chapters of my story 🙂 Of course, this is something that I should have done a long time ago. It’s just that I’ve never had much luck getting most of my friends to read a word and so I decided not to bother and go straight to submitting to agents. I had hoped that they’d tell me if the story was no good but that was before I learnt the sad truth – most agents rejected my novel without even reading it :p The few who did read it (three) said nothing bad about the novel itself but rather that they weren’t the right person to represent it.

Laurie says that agents are going to be honest with you and so will not try to be considerate about your feelings or about dashing your hopes and dreams :p So, I was kind of thinking that perhaps my writing wasn’t utterly awful but I still had no idea if it would sell. Now, I’m not out to make a million bucks (wouldn’t say if I did mind you :p) but I do want to have enough people interested in the novel if I’m going to write a second one. Otherwise, why bother? The story is in my head already and I could do infinite variations on it for ever enjoying how it all unfolds :p But I digress ..

I posted to alt.fan.pratchett (AFP) and the people over there were very kind 🙂 Some wanted to read the novel and some pointed out that perhaps I should be trying publishers instead of agents. I had not tried publishers mostly because I didn’t think anybody wanted submissions via e-mail. Sending out three chapters (which comes to about 50 pages in my case) via the post comes to a pretty hefty fee over here and I didn’t actually want to go to all that expense on mere speculation :p But kind person in AFP told me that I should submit to Baen Books and pointed me in the direction of their website. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only did Baen Books accept electronics submissions, they actually encouraged it! Then I discovered Baen’s Bar and my happiness was complete 🙂 Here was a web forum where a lot of my favourite authors appeared to hang out and they also had a nice and friendly atmosphere where you could discuss books, what more could you want? So, looks as if I’ll be hanging out at the bar a bit and if you are of a mind, you should come on over too – it’s a friendly place and they don’t bite .. except for the bears at the bar :p

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Posted by Fahim at 8:48 am  |  No Comments

January 12, 2006

Back at the helm

We were gone for a couple of days since we went to stay with my parents. It was the Haj festival (the second of the two Muslim festivals but I think mentioned that already in my last post :p) yesterday and we’d been staying with my parents since day-before-yesterday. Since we didn’t take our computers with us and since my parents don’t have any form of high-speed access anyway, we wouldn’t have been online. It was nice to get away from everything and to get back with family. Besides, my sister was there with her kids (we hadn’t seen one of the kids since she’d been born) and since we hardly ever get a chance to see the nieces, it was a double (or triple) pleasure 🙂 Of course, what with all the playing, the carrying around of kids and the general running around, I am sore all over and sorely aware of the fact that I need to exercise more :p

It was good to get away from things as well. We’ll actually be going back to my parents’ place again today since today’s the last of the three days I have off. My parents live only about 15 minutes away and so we could have come back home the last couple of days as well but my parents like us staying with them (I have no idea why :p) and so we figured we might as well do so for at least a day. Of course, tomorrow I have to get back to work on things and I guess figure out what I need to do now.

I did get some feedback about WriteTrack but I haven’t had the chance to do anything since we were away from the computers. I’ll probably finish that up first and then start thinking about what needs to be done with Blog and get back to that next … or something :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:25 am  |  No Comments

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