Friday, December 28, 2007


I am usually on a hunt for metaphors, I just found mine which should sum the year rather well. I just went to the optician after a year and was told that the power in my right eye has reduced. I am less myopic. I am not as short sighted in my right eye.
And that would be the one line I would write to summarize this year.

So I have decided not to be as emotional as this. But I will write because I need to keep track of what I dealt with, what I achieved and what I lost.

I lost my wisdom tooth. Molar decay, I said.

Apart from that it is nothingness of a year that just flew by, where I struggled with decisions and revisions. And inflation. But that's not gonna change. 2006 was troublesome. 2007 was inconsequential.

Oh, I regained strength. And some of the lost faith. I got a new hairstyle, and I also gained some fashion sense. I now flaunt aviators. But I painted my toenails the same boring shade as last year and the year before.

I saw friends deal with change. I tried be there for them, and yet be still. I tried to keep a neutral perspective.

I wrote many emails. Read not as many books. Spent some time on facebook. Lost interest in orkut. Studied Spanish. Forgot my French. Penned irritating verses.

I forged new bonds. They are the same old people, but there is newfound strength in relationships. This should tide me over any trouble.

Into the third year of working, I had a terrible time at work. One, there was so called "lack of motivation". And then there were the super high expectations. Also, I can't seem to deal with the repetitiveness of this. It's just way too mundane.

Which is like 2007. Random. Mundane.

I have no idea what 2008 holds. But it shows promise.
And at least I am not as short sighted anymore.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Solstice

I wait for what could have been the longest night of the year.
It doesn't make much of a difference at the equator.

And I scratch, pick skin off the scabs, while I wait for inspiration.
The bookshop is in an old shop house, nestled against a hawker center.
Irony of that quiet corner, that isolation.
I buy a notebook. Moleskine. Clad in plastic. Used by Hemingway, Picasso and Chatwin.
I look at it with hope. Oh, the desperation.

The bookshop owner puts a small packet of punched holes into my bag. Paper snow, a handwritten note says.

"Did you notice he put in a packet of paper snow?"
The thought collates.
A sign, perhaps. Maybe I should put in my papers now.
The resignation.

I think I was much happier when I was discontent.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Office attire

The company I work for is a privately held French firm. The partners are all naturalized French citizens - they of Lebanese descent. Most of their families, and those of many of my colleagues are still in and around Beirut.

It's a cool place to work. They let us be. As far as attire is concerned, they don't care one bit. We dress to our nines only when we go to the client side. Rest of the time, everyone is casuals - Jeans and t-shirts, even on weekdays. Yes, they are nice to us. Which is why I was stunned when I saw my teammate wear "Israeli Defense Forces" T-shirt to work. I casually asked him if he didn't think that it was kind of inappropriate. He said "It's just a T-shirt man! My friend got it for me". Following which, he hurled a mild accusation at me for making a big deal out of it. I smiled and changed the topic. I admit, I have heightened sensitivity to things, but somehow this unnerved me, and I began wondering how much are our T-shirt messages meant to demonstrate what we stand for. Maybe it struck me as odd because I feel the company is being nice to us by not insisting on proper business attire, and my colleague shouldn't misuse this freedom.

It really is a T-shirt. There is little reason for one to be sensitive, or to believe that it portrays ones allegiance. Like a foreigner wearing a t-shirt with a bold "Om" emblazoned across it, doesn't mean he believes in Hinduism, or is remotely spiritual. The figure of Ganesha has become more or less a commodity, till a bunch of religious fanatics find it on a piece of clothing and create a furore. We argue - it really is nothing but a t-shirt.

And yet, I still feel that there is a thin line between coolness and impropriety.

Now playing: The Beatles - While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Linking park

I can't type Linkin Park without making a mistake.
Anyway, I went for the concert two days ago. It wasn't because I still listen to them, it was because I listened to them eons ago, and I wanted to watch them then and hence had to watch them now. For completeness.

Lights were fantastic. Really really well done. I was truly impressed. Sound was ok, though A claims it was better than many other concerts he has gone for. The vocalists are mindblowingly good. Considering that having two vocalists (and their egos) may be a bit too much for a band.
Oh and the turntables and the DJ were in a position which rightfully belongs to the drummer. The drummer was kind of sidelined. At one point of time, there were major drum-rolls going on, and we caught the drummer getting a drink, and we figured why he was placed in a corner. Rest of the band kept themselves occupied - they changed guitars as often as they could even between songs. For appeal. (Heh!)
Much of their stuff is programmed, so it gives little scope for improvisation or interaction with the audience.

So that's that.

As an aside, what's with the encores? The bands pretend to go off stage without performing their best-selling/most-popular songs, leave the guitars on stands, and then the crowd will scream and clap. Then they will come back on stage and play three whole songs.
Mockery. I can't stand the farce of encores anymore. I am yet to experience the euphoria of a genuine encore.

How dare he?

Was rushing to work this morning, late and stuck in traffic. As usual.
At the traffic light, there was this old man behind us on what I would call a luna/moped/what-do-you-call-them-here.

And he was whistling. A song he liked perhaps. And he was whistling. With ups and downs and vibratos. Like there was no tomorrow.

How dare he? How dare he enjoy the morning rush?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Om Shanti Om.

No review, just notes.
  • Its like a big party that you have been invited to, and everyone seems to be having a whole lot of fun, and you do too. But at times one just has to stand in a corner and wait to get noticed. It's full of in-jokes that only a die hard Bollywood fan will appreciate. It's full of these moments that one will remember and guffaw about, but the story-telling is very average. The story is obviously predictable, that's what Farah Khan intended to do. The point being that the this predictability doesn't have to be in the face.
  • Shah Rukh Khan: In a place which seems to be reserved for people with connections, he has really made it. He hams, overacts and does all that people claim that is SRK. He is a natural in the role. I love him.
  • Deepika Padukone: We argued over whether she is hot or cute. Sam summed it up rather well "She is trouble". I am not qualified to rate her talent, but the thing about her is that she's got the appeal, the aura of a star. She walks into the screen, and you stare at her in wide-eyed amazement.
  • Songs:
    • Dard-e-disco: Ok only. The song was not a stand out. Even the choreography very ordinary, especially by Farah Khan's standards. I prefer the others.
    • Deewangi Deewangi - I love that song. However, it's not actually 31 *stars*, it's less than that. Aftab Shivdasani and Dino Morea are stars?!?
Having said all of that, I love the movie. It's full paisa wasool.
I might even watch it again.
I am not watching Saawariya. No chance in hell.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Diwali is supposed to make one nostalgic, and homesick. Sadly, it doesn't do anything for me. Not any more. Have been away from home for far too long. Nine years is a long time. In any case, the hostel Diwalis can hardly be counted as proper celebrations. We walked up and down in our new clothes, jumped and danced around a little bit, and then went back to our rooms to gossip about the warden. Oh and we visited our local guardians. But, that wasn't really home.

For me, Diwali is supposed to signal the onset of winter. If there is anything I miss, it's the crispness of Diwali air. The chill you feel after you have finished bursting your stash of fire-crackers and have settled to see those black tablets conjure up long snakes. Yes, the ones that burn their way out of fire.

But I don't feel a strong wish-I-was-in-India sentiment anymore. I am fine here. Here is where I want to be.

Maybe I really have moved on. Maybe there is no going back. I can only visit, but I can't lead my life here thinking about how much it was better back there. Because even if I go back, it won't be the same. I think the harshness of it struck me when I went back home after the first semester, and I realized that time hadn't stood still. Things hadn't waited for me to come back and continue from where I had left them. Ma had found use for the cupboard that once belonged to me - she had stuffed linen in there.

Anyway, I have cooked up my own ritual for Diwali here - I wear a sari, go to the temple and pray. And pray hard.

Here's wishing all the five devoted readers of this blog a very Happy Diwali.

Counting Sheep

Confucious says: Don't hold on to a post too long, else you will hate it.
I hate it. It pretends to be informative and intelligent and worse still, funny.
Anyway, since I put in all the effort typing it, I will post it here. For completeness.
No, its not another pint of whine about Insomnia.

Now that I have ruined the opening gambit, I might as well tell you that it's about the NZ landscape. The rolling plains with balls of wool. For miles and miles. Speckled landscape. Dotted eyes.

In that country, the sheep outnumber people by 10 to 1. If they were not the aww-inspiring mild mannered creatures of our metaphors, I would be scared.

Far away from civilization, we focussed on subjects in sight - the sheep. The conversation ranged from bitching (Why don't they get tired of eating?), to curiosity (Is grass sufficient nutrition for them? Do they have boring lives?). The sheep were judged, classified (the ones by the highway, the "City sheep" - confident, conversant - they flock to look at us, as opposed to the ones on the off-roads, the "country bumpkins" who run for their lives instead of making good use of the photo-op). Their enclosures were judged - crowded ("Downtown Tokyo") to sparsely populated ("Singapore CBD on a Sunday afternoon"). Jokes were created ranging from bad (Sheepish grin/ Silence of the lambs - DIY jokes) to worse (Why are songs by Meatloaf not kosher for the sheep?) . There were some games too, but trust me, no counting or throwing of sheep was involved.

We went for a farm adventure, which promised us the real thing. As the farmer took us around his never ending acres, the complexity of it all struck home. Farming is far more difficult than studying/working can ever be. Farming needs common sense which as we well know, is in short supply and that itself should discourage anyone with the herd mentality.
The amount of effort needed for a human baby from conception to infancy - now imagine managing 3000 sheep through their pregnancy and raising 4000 lambs through infancy (?). And that doesn't even include the circus of worrying about their healthy diet, how to gather them together to shear them and the selection process of which ones to keep. (Cows are much worse, anything and everything scares the crap out of them.) Anyway, I dont think I could have ever been able to take that kind of stress. I am glad my teachers warned me when I was young, that if I don't study I will have to become a farmer.

And now that I am noticably in love with the species, please don't throw any sheep at me.

Now playing: Om Shanti Om - Om Shanti Om - 02 - Dard-E-Disco

The gate

Written a while ago, after looking at the new structure at the entrance of the alma mater. Very emotional moment that.


Once upon a time, there was a fragile looking board, faded, rusted, stood in a corner. The name was written on it.
More than an institution, it was our passage to adulthood.
A fancy structure, an arch of stone, now marks the entrance. And a slab, also of stone, bears the name. Etched and fitted with metal letters. Shining. Tall. Promising matching futures all the same.
And an MBA school sits where Dreamland once used to be.

I can still see us.
It wasn't time that was passing by, it was you and I.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


There is a part in the movie The Namesake, where Ashoke's family come to "see" Ashima. And her dad proudly tells them "Our daughter's best subject is English", urging her to recite a poem. She starts - "I wander'd lonely as a cloud.." . Her father-in-law-to-be completes the lines with fervour "A host of golden daffodils", thereby putting his signature of approval. (I don't remember reading this part in the book. And I didn't last the entire movie, just so you know)

Anyway, I don't know if it was intended to be that way, but the importance of that little part is accentuated to me because of my upbringing. Wordsworth's Daffodils was a big part of the education in Bengali (and Oriya) middle class families of those years, the ones who consider themselves culturally superior. How do I put it? It was a sign that you appreciated poetry, you were a step ahead of the standard coursework fare.

My grandmother was one of those culturally elite people: well read, well aware. She knew her Shelley and Wordsworth and Keats and Pope, and refused to drink tea if it wasn't served in a cup with a saucer with a spoon on the side to stir the sugar. And one had to stir it gently. She firmly rejected the use of words such as "fridge" calling them colloquial. But I digress. Why she liked the poem is still a mystery to me, but she recited the poem to me when I was quite young and urged me to memorize it. It is strange, because not only was I was alien to how Daffodils look, I was completely oblivious to the vacant or pensive mood described in the last para.

Anyway, now that I have seen the flowers I can tell you that they are indeed very delightful. They grow in hordes and yet by themselves. Like nobody planted them there. As we drove around, I saw them everywhere. Stretching in never-ending lines. A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze. In a place where the landscape changed like a video game, they lent a vague sense of sense of continuity.

And they shone, they really did. Like stars that shine, and twinkle on the milky way. Jumping and joyous in their dance - how else do you describe them? In certain places, where it was still too cold, they were the only reassurance that spring was on its way. They stood there, braving the chilly southerlies, with their silly pouts. Swaying sideways, frantically at times. Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

Self absorbed. Vain. Narcissistic.

And my thoughts, if they spill towards the grey skies, the memories of this trip will blot them out. At least for a while.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Been there done that

Taking the plunge.

Yes, that's me taking what seemed like the leap of faith. Feet tied, strapped in a harness, I went through a round of obligatory chickening-out, "I don't want to do this". And Timmy said "Believe me, you do". He was cute, and I didn't want to look uncool. So, I stared at the bridge straight ahead on that chilly spring morning, and jumped. Into Euphoria.

I know Bungy jumping is not fashionable anymore, but hell, I did it, I took that giant leap, so let me show off for a bit.

First, a bit of history, as I have learnt from the little pamphlet I got along with my photos: The people of Vanuatu have been throwing themselves off huge towers with nothing but vines tied to their legs. Some coming-of-age ritual that. In the late 70s, some crazy folks in Oxford university Dangerous Sports club got inspired by this, and they tried out a few test jumps. AJ Hackett saw one of those videos, and teamed up with Henry van Asch, to develop the Bungy into the modern ritual it is today. In June 1987, Hackett jumped off the Eiffel Tower straight into international spotlight.

The Kawarau bridge Bungy, in Queenstown, New Zealand, though not high by any standards (43 m), is still the unique for being the world's first, and is hence styled as "Home of Bungy". The other choices in Queenstown are the Nevis highwire (134 m) and the Ledge where you go up a hill and jump looking at the city below you. I don't have the guts to attempt either of those two.

The feeling of free fall, might not be new to many of you, but for me, a first time jumper, it was like: No no no no no. WTF. Eeeeee. Ah the cord. Stretch stretch strech Touch touch touch. Wooohooooo. In civilized English and in Hackett's words "You will go from nervous to completely elated in five seconds"

Oh yeah, I tried, I really tried to touch the water, but was short by a few feet.

PS: Speaking of childhood dreams, this was one: to do the Bungy jump at the original site. Yay.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The lecture.

Mr. Lim has been a turning point of sorts. It cured me of regrets and remorse. The memories are far too precious to be wasted on them.

The experience that sealed it up was the last lecture of Dr. Randy Pausch. To use the oft repeated cliche, words don't do justice. It's an experience, and I would urge you to watch it.

It's easy to be scared of death. It's easy to live mediocre lives. But to be able to look back and say, in this life, I have been able to achieve all that I wanted to do, I have been able to get all that I desired, that needs something. Don't we all want lives like that?

I had a friend argue with me that he is not impressed with the speech of Dr. Pausch. He's white, rich, educated, American, smart, born with the privileges. There are many others who have done it, face cancer, face death, and yet keep their courage. "What's the big deal? Let him be an African", he said, "Have kids with malnutrition .. live in a country torn by civil war... then we will talk about his contribution"

It's so easy to be cynical. At the expense of sounding crude, if a person with one leg manages to get from point A to point B, would it be right to undermine his achievement by saying "What's the big deal? A person with no legs has managed to do the same."

Probably the reason why we are starved of heroes. Because we refuse to believe. I agree that many others have done it. Bad example, but didn't millions eat spinach before Popeye did?

Touching the lives of millions and setting an example needs courage. To do so in the face of death, even more so. This is what a teacher would do: communicate, in no uncertain terms, the lessons learnt, and provide a structure for the path ones life should take.

I am a changed person.

PS: Comp Science people should be able to recognize Andries van Dam. Remember the big fat book of CG?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


God, give me my forty winks, and I promise I won't ask for anything else.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The uncommon couple

Due to the immense popularity of my previous post on Mr. Lim (Two people, both friends, read it and liked it), I have decided to do more sketches of people. The people I meet make up most of my stories and to avoid repeating them when I meet you in person, I will type them here. So today, I will introduce you to Jorge and Soo. Both in my Spanish class.

Jorge is retired. Jubilado. The connection with the word jubiliant is rather distressing for a workaholic like me. If I have no work, what will I complain about? Anyway, Jorge seems rather happy. He comes on time, does his homework, and pays attention in class. He has a snorty laugh and perverse amount of curiosity about rights of transsexuals in Spain. He also refuses to accept that things like tables, chairs and keys can be classified as masculine and feminine.

Soo teaches. Somewhere. Something. But that's not really relevant, is it? She speaks very clear English, which makes me suspicious that she teaches the language. She owns a dictionary, and brings it to class rather religiously. I don't carry mine around since dictionaries are thick and rather boring to read on the bus.
I think Soo is a closet activist. She brings up her dissent in the rarest of moments. The word bonita means pretty. It can only be used for things and little girls. Chica bonita. Pretty little thing. This made Soo immensely worried about the objectification of women.

Soo and Jorge have been together for many years. It is rude to ask how long, but I am curious since she pauses before she refers to him as her boyfriend. They are too old to be boyfriend and girlfriend, you know. What makes them strange as a couple is that they don't stay together. He claims, they would have killed each other if they had another day under the same roof. This works, and works well for them. But it must be togetherness, since he buys her a snack before coming to class so she can grab a quick bite during the break.

They amaze me... for in this world of fragile relationships, they are willing to stay away from each other just so that they can be together.

The question of anonymity

I think bloggers make a big deal out of their online identities. You find some of them obsessing over keeping it secret. Not sure if it is because the persona they create, that of being fun and erudite and with a fun life is far detached from their real lives. Not sure if it is the romantic appeal of being a mysterious stranger with a smart moniker, or Spiderman-Peter Parker dichotomy. Maybe it was a trend started by the chicklit bloggers to preserve the identities of people they speak about and to avoid being googled.

Anyway, nom-de-plumes are a good idea. If and when you become famous, it will make a good trivia question a la - What was 'The blogger formerly known as Prince' formerly known as?
Ok, bad joke.

My point being that bloggers put up a nice little fight to keep their identities secret. Frankly, it's hardly a challenge, ever since orkut, facebook and the other evil sisters came about to put one's six-degrees in the public domain.

How hard can it be? There is a high chance that people blogroll their fleshandblood friends (as opposed to virtual friends?), and few of those friends are vain confident enough to use their real names for sure. A click here. A click there. Easy, no?
And then there are pics of family, kids, latest holidays and tattoos proudly cross posted on orkut and the blog. Seriously, you actually thought you won't be discovered by someone who has listed "stalking" under "passions" a lot of time to while away.


Find a random person on orkut, and discover their blog. Now that's like a real challenge.

Saturday, September 22, 2007



If the last bits of my memory would fade away, what would I do? Would I look at everything differently? Would not knowing what to call a table bother me? Would there be any remorse left with me? Would it be like speaking a different language? Would it be worth expressing pain in a different language? Would I have any memories of my desires?

Mr. Lim is about seventy years old. He is in my Spanish class for beginners. We are in the early stages, and still at a loss for words. What sets Mr. Lim apart is that he is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. His motivation, his perseverance confuses me. I want to ask him, will it be worth forgetting it all in a different language?

Deseo, he said the other day, doesn't that mean desire? And Hawaii, doesn't it have active volcanoes? That when he was being helped with his homework. The homework I had forgotten all about. Never before have I felt smaller, like a speck, whining about the memories that I would rather forget. My memories are what make me, I had argued with myself endlessly. My memories attach the relevance to my existence. And that, when I can't remember my best friend's phone number... when I can't remember who my best friend is... when I can't remember which was that one moment that filled me with joy... when I can't remember the how "wonder" feels like...
when I can't remember what I desire...
And yet, like Mr. Lim, perhaps I can't remember the end of my desires...

Hazaaron khwaishein Aisi, ki har khwaish pe dam nikle.
A thousand desires, each one worth a million times to die for.

Its not desires that I lack, I lack lifetimes...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

For posterity

Some jokes I heard over the week. Very niche, and heavily dependent on cliches (Isn't it unfortunate that those two words don't rhyme?)

- On Jazz bass players.

What is the difference between jazz bassist and a large cheese pizza?
A large cheese pizza can feed a family of four.

- About the electric bass players.
A man gives his son an electric bass for his 15th birthday, along with a coupon for four bass lessons. When the son returns from his first lesson, the father asks, "So, what did you learn?"

"Well, I learned the first five notes on the E string."

Next week, after the second lesson, the father again asks about the progress, and the son replies, "this time I learned the first five notes on the A string."

One week later, the son comes home far later than expected, smelling of cigarettes and beer. So the father asks, "hey, what happened in today's lesson?"

"Dad, I'm sorry but I couldn't make it to my lesson. I had a gig!"

To which a bassist said:
Q. What has six strings, is black and blue and lying in a gutter?
A. A guitarist who cracked too many bassist jokes.
-And a guitarist/lightbulb joke:

Q. How many guitarists do you need to change a light bulb
A. Five. One to change the bulb and four to reminisce about how good the old tubes were.
- And the one about Mac users, which you will get only if you have been hanging around with too many obsessive users, who can't get enough of telling you how great their iMacs are.
Q. How many mac users do you need to change a lightbulb?
A. One. Let him change the bulb and see the whole world revolve around him.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Its nine o'clock on a Friday

There comes a time when we realize our problem stems from the fact that we are pretentious. And judgmental about ourselves. And that we are so afraid of mediocrity, that we would rather not do something than to do it badly. Which is worse, of course.

There also comes a time, roughly 20 seconds after the previous epiphany, where we drop the unnecessary garb of the royal "We".

Very Ayn-Rand-ish, but not too bad for a Friday. For which "I" am Thanking God. Profusely.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


You know what's frustrating?

To spend three years working on something, and then getting the terrible feeling to sweep over you - "I am too good to be doing this."
And to have a blog and not be able to rant. Because it is barely anonymous. Because I am too stuck up. Because I pretend like this is literature.
Normal lives we lead here,
Breakdowns, disappointments, frustrations, hopes, and dreams of an improbably futuer.

Maybe I lack the confidence. Maybe everyone expects too much from me.

Let's just hope that hindsight fixes it all.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Alex wakes up at 8 in the morning on Saturdays.
And plays soccer. The door of the study is one goal post, and something at the end of the living room is the other.

He is also learning how to play the piano. On Sunday mornings.
His impatient fingers trace an unfamiliar path on the keys.
He can't keep time yet. It will hopefully, sound like music someday.

Alex is all of 4. Or 5? How does it matter? It does. Because he is at the age where being four and half years old is different from being five.

Alex stays in the house above, and screams goodbye to his dad every morning.

Last afternoon, while I was sleeping, I heard him play Ludo, or Snakes and Ladders, or some other board game. He was perhaps playing with an adult.
Every few minutes, the dice would fall and roll on the floor.
And I would hear him make his move. Definitive, like it wasn't a move, but a statement. It was mostly tak tak or tak tak tak. Just that once he moved six places. Tak tak tak tak tak tak. Oh how happy he must have been.

As much as I hate him in the mornings, Alex makes my weekends surreal.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Office Romance

She wakes up
with a faint recollection
of the dream
of the guy from work.

In front of the mirror,
the smile,
the blush,
and the doubt
if he would seem
too familiar today.
And the decision
if she should wear red
and put
a twist in her ponytail.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Notes and quotes


Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.
- Oscar Wilde

Which leads us to collect some notes from a Swedish Hindi movie buff:

- He wonders why the Hindi Movies follow the three layered approach - they have the comedy part, the tragedy part, and the family part. By the time one is all geared up for comedy, the tone of the movie has already changed. He says it confuses him.

- He claims to have liked "Salaam Namaste". But he didn't like another one with a aforementioned three layered approach. Which movie? In his own words "There were two guys in the movie, and the girl liked one of them, but this one dies, and so she gets married the other one in the end. It had Pretty Zeenta, and the guy from Salaam Namaste, and the other guy who is in all other Hindi movies" Geddit?

- Next on his list is Krissh. Before you starting judging his tastes, I will be the one lending him the VCD.

And the note to self:
Next week will probably be worse than this one. So see, on hindsight, this week was not so bad after all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cultural hierarchy and Potter

Lowbrows: Have never read the books. Watch the movies the weekend they are released. Derive joy from calling it "Hari Puttar". Appreciation severely limited to "Cho is cho cute, no?"

Lower-middlebrows: Have read the books AND watched the movies. Deeply involved, and yet a bit confused. Don't remember too many details. Love Hermione, like they loved Dana Scully.

Middlebrows: Have pre-ordered the book. Have made plans to spend Friday night drinking standing outside the bookshop so as to be able to grab the first copy of Deathly Hallows. Know the curses, the charms and the animals. Play Quidditch like they play Calvinball. Have spent at least 15 minutes mulling over who "R. A. B" could be*. Watch the movies without much ado. Chew on it. Promptly post reviews on their blogs saying, the book was better.

Highbrows: Don't read Harry Potter. Claim that it is an insult to the fantasy genre. Wax eloquent about how it's a marketing gimmick, and how everyone has become a capitalist slave. In fact, they force the fact down everybody's throat that they don't endorse the franchise, or anything else. Visit the loo more than once during the movie.

*My guess: It's Sirius Black's Brother.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Verses which probably should never see the light of the day

The End

Ever get the feeling
something can't be mended.
stuck in limbo, you yo-yo
and wish it had ended.

Potent mix of coffee-whiskey
in the bloodstream blended
wide-eyed, drunk on thoughts,
All for the better, I pretended.


Up at the hour of loneliness
of her empty bed
Narcissa painted her toenails
a wanton shade of red

Far away, in the throes
of yet another orgasm
Juliet painted the town
a happy shade of red

The possessed one, Durga,
in the fury of scorn
painted his nightmares
with an angry shade of red

Quiet in her quilted corner
Cathy, (*identity concealed),
painted her mind with
a helpless shade of dread.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Insomnia - part 2

Every tick of the clock,
with invidious intent,
steals one away
from the awake hours
of the next day.

PS: At this rate, it will have a book full of these

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On romance novels...

The first one I read was at home. It was Ma's. It was called Kona Winds, it was set in Hawaii. Its weird because Still life with Woodpecker, the book that I tend to quote most about love, is also set in Hawaii.

The second Mills and Boon I read was the one I liked more. I don't remember the name, though I remember the story really well. She was called Alicia, and he was called Jean-Luc or Jean-Marie or Jean-something.
She was very pretty, and British. After been jilted by her ex at the altar, she duly lost faith in love, pulled her hair back in a tight chignon and made it big as a high profile fashion designer in Europe. Now this tall-rich French guy, with his hyphenated name, squarish jaw and piercing eyes, is hosting a wedding for his goddaughter, and our belle dame sans merci, Alicia, has been hired to design everything for the wedding of the century.
She walks in. She can feel his eyes following her. Animal magnetism. A passionate kiss in a moment of weakness. Confusion. The other woman. The other man. Further confusion. Then in the last ten pages, they make-up, and kiss. In that order.
There were some hints about the happy ever after.

Classic M&B. I devoured it. I read it like it was literature. From cover to cover. And then I read it again. And again. A few times over. Ah, to taste the forbidden fruit... and the cheap thrills of youth... At that age, I was curious as hell, and ready to read anything in print, and romance novels were out-of-bounds.

Ma and I never spoke about romance. I am not sure she liked the story I just narrated, but it would be wrong to judge her ideas about romance. She would buy them for long boring train journeys, and upon returning home, symbolically trash them by hiding them in the top-most shelf, hoping I couldn't reach them. My cousin sisters would come, and take these away. They were a lot older, heavily into this stuff, and unwilling to buy it for themselves.

College came with its own share of romance and romance novels. With the curiosity dead, and having figured out the pattern in them, it wasn't so exiting to read them anymore. But during those uncertain years, there was definitely something reassuring about their predictability.

There was this little lending library next to the hostel which stocked up very few good books and tons of trash. During cram-time before exams, Dep and I would borrow Archie comics and M&B from there, and read them for a break. Each of us had developed our individual style of reading them. I used to read the back cover and the last twenty pages. She used to read the first five, and one page every ten pages thereafter. Neither of us admitted to the other that we occasionally skipped to the two-pages-where-they-kiss and read them too.

I don't think the books really affected my ideas about romance, or love in general. The characters in there were rather unbelievable, hence. But those days, these books did strike a note somewhere...

I haven't read even one since.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Quo Vadis?

A.k.a, in which I figure out the root cause of all my dissatisfaction.

Its not because I feel I have anything less.
Its only because I want more from life. More experiences, more travel, more learning.
Its only because I want a life. A life full of life.

For past few months have done nothing except work, just to see how it feels. And have realized that the element of disuse, the whole feeling of not knowing what to answer when someone asks me “What else have you been up to?”, is the culprit. That irritates me to no end, that I have no answers when I ask myself, what have I gained in the past few months? How have I grown as an individual? (Before you take a dig, I dropped two Kgs)

You know, there was this small shack, quite named Dreamland right opposite our where plans for life were made over copious amount of chai. You know what we had then? No, not talent. Passion, yes. And more so, the non-judgmental attitude towards anything and everything. We had deep devotion for everything we did, small, big or otherwise:
Making those posters for College clubs which lasted on the walls just for a few days,
preparing for the next quiz, the glory of defeat in which lasted only till the next,
screaming your lungs out for your team when they played a losing match,
and singing along when the college band played their own comps in a badly planned concert.

I miss that.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Its a been long time since Hypnos wasn't kind to me.
It was the coffee maybe.
Drunk with pleasure then, as I am drunk, now,
with this languid sense of being awake.
And why does this time of the night come with this itchy-scratchy feeling?
And the song playing incessantly on the radio channel in my head happens to be Justin -
"What goes around, comes around!"
Stuck in my head.
It's just that one line playing, no more.
The stuck head. The scratched record.

The sheep are tired, they have walked in and out all night.
They go around and come around.
And what happens next?

The clock ticks away, ten minutes too fast.
The lights from someone else's window flicker on mine.
It's almost dawn.
The early birds yawn.
And my dreams for a better tomorrow wait for sleep to come by.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Of Flus and Fathers...

Been down with fever and a sore throat since yesterday, and I am back to work.

Falling sick when I was growing up was different.
Dad would take leave from work, and launch a one man crusade against the invaders. Home would become a father-daughter citadel, meaning, we were allowed to make a mess of it till Ma came back from work.

No sooner than she had left the front door, he would start with a status check - he would put the thermometer in my mouth, and then head to the kitchen to make some herbal tea. I would squint, and wait for the mercury to reach 99, and get the thermometer out of the mouth. If it had already reached a 100, I would shake it down to 99 and then announce loudly and gladly that I was decidedly feeling better and should be allowed to go to school. He never called my bluff, but am quite sure he knew. So, despite all my protests, I was sent back to the bedroom.

By then the herbal tea would be ready. The tea was a speshul remedy for sore throats, a miracle cure, I was told. It had herbs instructed by old-wives - except that he would add them all at one go. The results, though not totally disastrous, were potent enough to scare the viruses/bacteria away.

He would then proceed to cook lunch. He is not a bad cook, just that he likes to experiment a little too much. Those days, anything he could successfully boil and add salt and generous amount of pepper to, would be served with much-ado. With the numb taste buds it hardly made a difference so long as the stuff could slide smoothly down my throat. Though, I must say, he has improved over the years. Having a guinea pig helps, I guess.

And medicines? Dad was particular that they be taken on time. I remember him waking me up on cold nights, and giving me an assortment of pills with half a glass of warm water. A cold hand would check if I still had fever, and he would stand still for a minute to check if I was wheezing.

Years later, he packed me away to the hostel sans much emotion, but with a semesters' supply of medicines: antibiotics, antihistamines, multivitamins, the works. One day, lying alone in the hostel room, running a temperature of 103 and yet trying to be all adult about being sick, I felt cold, lonely and abandoned. And then I realized it wasn't the medicines that I needed, it was all the fuss. So I did what I had to do, called him, and whined on the phone.

Like I did yesterday.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Verse #2343

I could see him distinctly in the light of the moon.
His dark face seemed paler than marble.
His left eye twitched, perhaps to violently protest against what was about to happen.
It was then that I realized that it had all gone wrong.
Right before he pulled the trigger.....

Flash of a lifetime
Loss sifts through moonlit leaves
Haiku left behind.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Peddling pedals.

Many summers ago, two boys went on a shopping trip to buy a cycle, It was vastly frustrating, so they boldly went where no men have gone before. They decided to open a bike shop.

It all started out when Nikhil and Rohan came up with the crazy idea of cycling to work. Despite the killer traffic, these two aficionados have been religiously riding their bikes to work for more than a year now, and have discovered that it is far less stressful to manoeuvre a bike in the traffic than to drive. They strongly believe that this could be a healthy solution to the current unhealthy traffic situation in Bangalore. With the nobel intention of sharing the gyaan, and helping people attain the same nirvana, , they came up with the idea of getting state-of-the-art Trek and Firefox bicycles to Bangalore. And lo and behold, BumsOnTheSaddle was born.

Together, the erstwhile-partners-in-crime and now in business are looking at spearheading a community of biking enthusiasts. So check out the cool website, the blog and/or the bikeshop (big incentive - it is located bang opposite the Girls' hostel in Jayanagar). And do remember to drop them a word even if you are not looking at picking up a cycle.

Generous as they are, they even offer free test-rides.

PS: Rohan, I just emailed you my bank account information . :)

Monday, June 11, 2007

The baker's dozen

Fans of the classic caper genre will say that Ocean's thirteen doesn't qualify as one. Maybe, this wasn't meant to be one. Also, that 11 was perfect. For this one, the aim wasn't perfection, perhaps.

Roger Ebert might complain argue that the plot is fragile, and whatever is left of it is quite absurd. I beg to disagree. While not cult-level, or anything remotely memorable, this one did justice to the series in a way no threequel this year has managed to achieve. I drooled, I laughed, I guffawed, and then I left, and that is what this was meant to be. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Matt Damon emerges as a personal favourite among the star studs. Brad's Rusty is well, rusty.

Also, for my plebian tastes, the Oprah touch was quite a masterstroke.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


There must a reason why common sense so uncommon!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The process

So the plan was quite clear, thus spake the Engineer/MBA. He charted it out for me neatly on a piece of paper. He excelled at spreadsheets, that kinda stuff you know. This is how he put it:

#define Start date T April sometime.

Start chatting;
T + 1 month: we will send pictures to each other.
Iff (all goes well) /*meaning, she doesn't get a heart attack looking at his pics*/
2 more months of wooing;
Early part of the following month, he proposes;
If( she says yes) {
Jump up and down ten times;
For(the next three months) discuss if we should get married?;
If (OK) then {
For(one month) - discuss when to get married;
loop for One year {
swimming and sinking in love;
If (End of next year) get out of this stupid loop;
Check(bank balance);
Tie the knot;
Happy ever after;

Bloody geek. Wants everything to be perfect. In order. Six Sigma compliant. Cant go wrong. Only 6 defects in a thousand pieces. In a million, the nitpicker would correct you.

Thankfully Love, as Tom Robbins said, is the ultimate outlaw. And it had other plans.

So then she called, and said she had sent him the pics like he had asked for, for which he had cooked up a silly excuse like a hard disk crash, and that she had Paneer butter masala for lunch which was too spicy.
And thankfully, the process crumbled.

Shilly phish, the two of them, I tell you.

With their parents blessings, they will probably elope today. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Kee Kando.

Somedays, I am not so cynical about the world. And I am kind. And excited.

[PS] I know the brackets dont match. Its okie. Its fine.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On reviews :)

Two goats who wandered into an alley behind a motion picture theater happened across a can of film. Being goats, one of them promptly devoured it. "How was it?" asked the other.

"Not bad," replied the first goat, "but the book was better."


Sunday, June 03, 2007

The attack of the unimaginative three-quels

Will keep it brief. Pirates 3 was convoluted, too tedious even for the swashbuckling Jack Sparrow to resuscitate. Special effects are never as funny as people. They can wow you, but they can never ever strike a chord. Having said that, with every little ounce of life and love that's left in me, I am and will remain deeply devoted to Johnny Depp . So I still kinda liked it. The movie has its moments, wish it was easier to find them though.

Shrek 3: Ahh, the lesser said the better. Waste of popcorn. And what's with everyone giving emotional speeches in the end?

Fantasy, they say, has to have its ends tied up, only reality has frayed edges. But yet, just because all known characters come together on screen in one scene, where they all fight it out, give their speeches, find their loves and say goodbye hoping to squeeze some tears out of the cynical audience doesn't necessarily mean justice is done to the characters. It just leaves you with a bad aftertaste. Whatever happened to the joy of simple storytelling?

As for Danny Ocean's Motley Crew, I really hope thirteen proves lucky. Frankly, I have little hope.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

SpiderMan 3: the obligatory bashup

All I can say is that, this heart wrenching love story of Pavitr Prabhakar and Meera Jain would make Sooraj Barjatya proud.
The dying speech delivered by the hero's best friend makes up a memorable moment for Hindi Cinema, no?

Sunday, May 20, 2007


In all honesty, the idea wasn't to hurt you. When you reach an age, my age, you are not guided by judgment of right and wrong, but by the sheer fear of consequences. Tiny mistakes glitter like the shiny sequins in the memory-scape. None worth the mention, but none that you didn't learn from. There are mounted picture frames on the wall. Some staring at you, some you can't look at in the eye.

The woods are lovely. We walk to collect nostalgia for the future. Though this road less traveled seems alluring, yet, shouldn't one have the sense not to take a path where everybody gets hurt?

And then there are some promises to keep. One, the promise to oneself that at the next iteration, you would fix it all, get it right, right at the start. Two, the promise to a friend, that you won't retreat.
Some of that courage keeps you going. Some of that courage let's you go.

So, to sum up what I have learnt -
No loss is ever as big as the loss of peace of mind.
No motive as meaningful as the one of protecting your loved ones from hurt.
No sense as common as the need to live and let live uncomplicated lives.
And yet, despite all that is there to justify -
No apology is as heartfelt, as the next one, here -
I am sorry, I couldn't, I can't.

Contrary to what you may believe, the choice wasn't between holding on and letting go - the choice was between venom today, and leaving you with discomfort in my will.

Spring Cleaning

What I perhaps will never learn is how to deal with yesteryears. I don't think I like the feeling of flooding myself with a certain set of memories. And yet, I keep all the stuff, just because I am afraid that if I let them go, I would have nothing left. It would be like losing history of my being.

I have never been able to delete mails from the past. The way I deal with files/photos is even more peculiar - I zip them up, and put them away in a CD or in a folder named "Important". And then one fine day shift-delete or junk the CD. It helps me get rid of the remorse, and doesn't spike my curiosity of why I kept them in the first place.

Clutter. It is almost impossible to classify my clutter between what's truly "junk" and what's really "important".

In comes Ramdeen, who got an unfair share of wisdom at birth, with the recommendation of the cleanup. The experience, he promised, would be cathartic.

So I have cleaned it all up - good, bad, otherwise. Have kept a few priceless treasures, though - one being the first email sent by then-little nieces, one with an intense discussion about the feasibility of the layers of a stack being implemented as different processes, one containing sepia toned pics of awkward teenagers in bright shirts, and one with my favourite little Johnny joke.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

And Ma said today -

If for all these years, I could keep the plastic flowers from withering away,
why can't you?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

the escapist

there was a time, the truth was fast
like the highway,
the view of everyone
everyone's view
blinkered by the helmet.
sticking to the order of the day.

now its the winding road,
hidden from everywhere
the ride is scenic
and un-polluted.

at the hairpin bend,
i take a break.
i stand in a corner,
thoughts collect

as is the case,
they are -
all lowercase.
and i am the protagonist,
the narcissist,
the escapist.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Horror. Hope.

Opened the previous post.

Date: 16-April-07
Title: Horror-scope.
Last line: Somedays, horoscopes stop giving you hope.

Gave the post another read, one of those pointless, inconsequential posts. And yet, a certain sense of ominousness took over. Horror. Hope. The words seemed the same, I had written them alright. Cut pasted them fine.
What had changed then? The perspective? A perspective which seems to fix itself only in hindsight.

Virginia Tech happened. A senseless act of murder. For the past few days, I have read and re-read the news. Watched the guy's rants on youtube with a sense of disbelief. A seemingly normal guy. The kind you would see walking on the streets around you.


This of course is just the beginning of what will seem like an endless analysis of his psychological profile. You know, finding the right pigeon hole to fit this guy in. Son of immigrant parents. Had a tough time fitting in. Wrote of sadness. Wrote of violence. Obsessively listened to Collective Souls' Shine. Sounds like a killer alright?

Is everyone who writes of sadness depressed? Is everyone who writes of violence a potential murderer? Is everyone who comes from modest origins a threat?

What could have been done to stop this?
Guns? Enough has been said about the ease of access to guns. And yet, not enough for them to do something about it.

But I would also hold the gross neglect of mental health issues responsible for a good part of it. On hindsight, its easy to judge him, call him a madman, with a perfect profile for a killer. But I wonder if enough was done to prevent him from sinking to these depths?

PS: Orkut offers advice today: Society prepares the crime: The criminal commits it

Monday, April 16, 2007


Dear Mo,

Here is your horoscope
for Monday, April 16:

Could it be that you've outgrown this way of life? If that's the case, you need to let this old identity go. Isn't it time you acknowledged how much you've changed, and accept the scope of your recent emotional development?

Somedays, Horoscopes stop giving you hope.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The calculus of story-telling

A story, simplistically speaking, is driven by a function. Like a curve - it has its ups and downs. You remember the once-upon-a-time when we all had to study differentiation, and calculate the maxima, minima and inflexion?? If you carefully observe, a simple story would ride on a curve.

  • Boy meets girl, (At t = 0, perhaps? )
  • Boy and girl fall in love, Maxima
  • (Lo and behold, we discover that the families were always rivals. )
  • Girl's dad-mom find out and threaten to kill the boy, Minima
  • Girl and boy elope, Point of inflexion.
The point of inflexion. The point where the double derivative is zero (??). The point where the direction of the story changes. The point of freedom. The point where there is nothing left to lose. The real art of finishing up a story, I believe, comes with bringing your characters to this point of no return. Beyond this point, even if its a tragedy, the story itself takes over.

So, the aforementioned story could either be QSQT-esque tragedy ending in a bloodbath. Or, they could have a child and then the parents look at the grand-child and have a change of heart (Now which movie was it? Dil? Bobby?).
Of course, nobody is making these formula films anymore. But, even for a complicated story, it should be possible to identify such points.

Cheats, (like me), create a vivid landscape for the characters, write about the maxima usually soaked in nostalgia, drag the story to the minima, to the sadness/helplessness/despair, and let the pathos do the trick on the reader. Probably because of the lack the creativity and/or the courage to give a fair treatment to the characters.

What do you think?

Song of the Road

I recently read somewhere that the first principle a writer should remember while narrating a story is - "Show, don't tell". One can write volumes explaining how the character feels, but nothing is as powerful as conjuring up the image of the character and his surroundings in the reader's head, making him a part of the narrative, getting him to think and judge for himself.

But doing it in cinema? There are too many distractions, if one may put it that way - the music, the colours, the costumes - all force the director's vision/ imagination into the viewer's head. Detachment is easy in such a situation. So, to elicit emotions, Indian cinema uses melodrama to great effect - people crying, gore on screen, dialogues drenched in emotion, songs to illustrate the agony of the separated hearts, the high pitched tones of the shehnai. A director will use it all, Unless of course, he is a genius.

Watched Pather Panchali till late last night. The last time I watched it, I was way too young and way too naive to perceive the depth of each character. Now, older, and obviously more exposed to average-tending-to-bad movies, I realized how well Ray used the aforementioned principle brillantly and that too in a difficult medium. Images come and go, without being overbearing. Minutes on end are spent in silence, where one is left alone to explore the emotions, study the evolution of the characters. Emotions are presented sans melodrama, understated, almost matter of factly.

Genius, I tell you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The obligatory cricket post, before we move on...

Agreed, that one needs to be qualified to comment, but yet, this needed some airtime.

The first half of Friday night was spent watching the cricket match, and the latter, discussing the reasons for the sorry state of the cricket team, and Indian sport itself. This went on till wee hours in the morning.
We discussed the usual stuff that makes up an editorial - how endorsements have ruined the game, how cricket as opposed to football and basketball is an elitist sport, how the local leagues never get any encouragement, and how the players play for themselves instead of being a team. We also discussed moments - all those moments of glory we could collect and recollect - that game when Kumble and Srinath put up a brilliant partnership, and Jadeja in Bangalore against Pak, at quarter finals of the world cup. Maybe, those matches were fixed too.

A few promised to have given up the game for good.

Disgruntled fans.

Nearly everyone has the same thing to say, except Harry, one who enjoys each and every sport, the one who perhaps booked his tickets to Barbados hoping for an India-Pakistan match, and will watch Ireland play Bangladesh instead. Over to Harry -

Oh, well… like Nick Hornby said of his beloved Arsenal in the book ‘Fever Pitch’… you don’t choose a team to support, your team chooses you.

I guess we too must ride the waves of frustration and inexplicably stick it out game after game, in the faint hope of 1983-like joy. For that, we need to be underdogs again. And for that, we need to lose consistently first. So, I guess we’ve begun the process… J

I agree – the game has lost its luster, and the match fixing scandal and the Woolmer murder leaves one jaded. But it will bounce back in our memory – simply because it’s the only Indian sport of note. I think endorsements have made the game, and ruined the game to a degree. But I would like to see some more attention in India on the game itself, and the passion involved in just supporting your team, not matter how rubbish they are. We can’t be fair weather supporters and expect the game to develop and reward us the way we want….

True, very true.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Once upon a time.

A fairy tale sounds better with a head full of wine than with a belly full of beer.

Beer makes one full, content.
Wine, on the other hand, has a sense of emptiness. The kind that can be equated to unrequited love. The kind which is reticent. The kind that needs unnecessary elaboration. The kind for which volumes need to be written.

That day, holding the glass by it's stem, sipping on her wine, she swore on the emptiness of her once-upon-a-times.
And emptying the rest of his pint with a quick swig, he promised her the happy-ever-afters.

Happy ever after.

Friday, March 09, 2007


To be mistaken for a feminist is far more difficult than being one. Because I don't know what to do with the projected personality.

In any case, I had decided not to write anything about it since it will degenerate into another convoluted rant. Until last evening when my colleague and I witnessed the rather enlightening discussion in the lift between the lady who happens to be our big boss, and a Chinese colleague, a lowly male.

C- Today is women's day you know.
B- Oh yeah..
C- In China, today, most places give their women employees half the day off.
B- To do what?
C- Just take half a day off, go shopping. You usually have massive traffic jams around noon.

Go shopping? It's women's day for God's sake, all women are supposed to get on the streets and brandish white flags or black flags, and get into some kind of loud mouthed protest. But no, for all the privileges attached to being a woman, shopping is something they choose to indulge in. I would perhaps do the same.

So for all that it's worth, this day of celebration of being a woman, has become a marketing gimmick. And frankly, nobody cares. It doesn't provide solutions to any of the problems of discrimination or otherwise, because the crux of the feminist argument is not about empowerment (any more?). It surprisingly seems to be about bringing to light how women have been wronged for generations, and are still being wronged by the evilness of men. The magazines and newspapers are full of stories of victims of abuse, and pictures of protests carried out afterwards. And do we realize what a terrible example it sets? It just states that to be a woman of substance, you have to be a victim first, then bash the guy up and that will show the world what you are worth. What about the millions of women who are leading normal lives?

Rest of the time, its about the wrong portrayal of women in the media. (Frankly, firebrand feminists have done more damage to my image than those photoshopped aunties who score a 10, because I get typecast as one)

So we, the louuly leddies, try to drop a hint to the boss- "Maybe you should consider this next year, give us a day off ".
And she said - "The only way to show that we are equal is to work all day like an equal"

Perhaps. I still want my day off. To hell with equality.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The moment...

Another attempt at a shortish story.

Sitting with his head bowed down, he could see her shoes, through the glass table. The heel of the right shoe had worn off unevenly on one side. A reflection of her unsteady walk, his vagrant observation reasoned with his conscious thoughts.

She looked straight ahead into emptiness. Emptiness, in this case, consisted of unknown people at the crowded coffee shop. She had chosen to sit next to him, so she didn't have to look at him in the face. He didn't have to look at her either, but he chose to steal glances, and occasionally, held the gaze out of greed. From the corner of her curious eye she could sense him trying to understand her blank expression.
She, the stoic. The emotionless fool. The one who had nothing to lose.

How do you ever talk to such a person? They thought to themselves in a rare moment of resonant thought.
She fidgeted with her spoon in an attempt to distract herself. Picked up a grain of sugar, and put it in her mouth, perhaps to add flavour to her bitterness. In symbolic protest, he let out a sigh and fidgeted with the silence.

For with all the comfortable private moment of togetherness, they had two more people sitting at the table, a pair of twins, identical yet fraternal. One looking at him in the face, one looking at her. And do you know who they were? Those two were the embodiment of their past - one his version, and one hers.

And there was no use reconciling.

The moment culminated....
And there was no going back....

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Summer of 69: The lower-middlebrow's musical journey

It started with this polka dotted writeup from the pinstriped gentleman. Fairly and embarrassingly accurate, I must say.

So, I was left with no choice but to write about the lower-middlebrow's musical journey.

To start with the difference between the highbrows, and lower-middlebrows comes right at birth. The highbrows have parents who listen to Beatles and Ventures, and own an LP player. The lower middlebrow music listener, on the other hand, grew up to Old Hindi Songs recorded on tapes and reading the books the house was flooded with. Old books, Old tapes. If the tape got fungus, he just had to put it in the deep freezer and it would be fixed for a couple of plays till he recorded it to an empty tape. For everything else, there was the highly rationed Chitrahaar and Aakashvani ka panchrangi karyakram where Chunnu, Munnu, Pinki and their Mummy-Papa from Jhumritallaiyya would put in their requests.

The highbrows grow up and are able to appreciate Jazz. The lower middlebrow tries too hard to keep up. But you can't deny he has taste. You name a band, you will find him getting frantic, till he listens to it, and forms an opinion.

The first English Songs that played on his tape player was called "Best of 9x" containing - Lemon Tree, Happy Nation, Scatman and I'm blue-da-ba-dee-da-ba. The tape looped till he got bored of the songs.

The true musical journey, in my opinion, started when MTV took over lives. It started with with the Brian Adams. The Canadian crooner apart from starting the deluge of Concerts which made DNA networks rich, had won the hearts of millions of girls who would swoon all teary eyed, at his phlegmatic rendition of "Please Forgive me". (As for the show, it was a terrible by all counts, for everyone except that girl who managed to get on stage). There were others too enjoying varying degrees of adulation- Messers MLTR, Boyzone, and Backstreet Boys. Some girls and guys stuck on. Others, you, me, moved on...

To college. As you tried to explore further, you realized that songs by blond pre-pubescent boys wasn't what cool people listened to. Embarrassed by your vern origins, you tried to keep up. It is a very sad state of affairs: you listen to the popular songs, and are stuck with the best songs of every artist. You acquired Nirvana. Smells like teen spirit. And Floyd. How I wish you were here. And Metallica. Nothing else matters. Hotel California, Sultans of Swing, Light my fire, Brick in the wall, Cats in the cradle, Tears in heaven, Wonderwall and every band members dedication to his erstwhile girlfriend - Sweet child of mine. Every Paul, John, George and Ringo knew these songs forward and backwards, and you head banged in a cliched I-am-the-rebel unison with a vengeance.

Tapes were passe, CDs unaffordable and hence Mp3s became the prized possessions, and took up much of disk space and lives. Those who ran out of space, begged the owners of CD writers to burn some for them. I still suffer from severe reluctance to delete any Mp3s. The bulk of these added the much needed diversity and dilution. In those days, people then were always gifting Mp3 Cds, with printouts of lyrics for added measure. The girl you like broke up with her boyfriend? "Wasted time", it is.

The college band was a great influence. They taught you how to pull your nose up at boy bands. They taught you that Smoke on the water riff. Those musical elites with nimble fingers would actually know the names of all the band members in Dream theater, while you stared in wide-eyed amazement at these people who memorized every little detail about the "Who's who of music", and still carried backlogs of papers over semesters.

Eventually, college gave way to work. Slowly you moved on, and had money to acquire CDs and listen to them in your private space, or on your iPod. And this was when the true Nirvana happened, when you broke out and discovered what you really like, and were not afraid to admit it. For a while you stick to the same artists whose "best" songs you liked- but you still find the Romeo and Juliet, Mustang Sally, The End, Take it easy and Morning Glory much better. These songs grow on you. You grow with them. You delve deeper into the lyrics. Realize that some of your old favourites are covers. As you get more confident and experimental, you discover artists from long before yesteryears: Tull, Janis, Joni, Dylan, Stones, CCR and more. You even listen to Hendrix. (though I still don't understand the hype around the momentous guitar burning at Monterey - that was mediocre at best)

The nice thing about this point of time of your journey, is you don't feel the need to conform anymore. You settle for your own favourites, a list of 10, maybe 15 songs and feel very unapologetic about your likes, and tolerant about others' likes. And you don't aspire for more. The end, my friend, the very end.

This year I got an LP player.

PS: The title of this post comes from the analogy I put in the comment box of the aforementioned post, during that rare burst of creativity: the musical journey of lower middlebrows starts with Summer of 69 by Brian Adams, and pitches its tent at Yasgur's farm in the summer of 69 at Woodstock. No?

Links to this post:
Desipundit--The lower-middlebrow’s musical journey

Ginsoaked: Summer of '69

Friday, February 09, 2007

The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth.

Today I rue the loss of wisdom. Am still numb. Comfortably, thankfully. And still wise. Three-quarters none the lesser.

Am still looking for the symbolism behind the molar decay. These were an early gift. At 15, these painful vestigials had already started asserting their presence, and I guess by now the guarantee period for these precious pearly-whites-of-wisdom is over. Considering the fact that I have had them forever, without them, I think I can't think anymore.

So I helplessly stretched into the chair. He peeped in - "Ha, easy one!".
He poked me, twiddled his thumbs, adjusted the light, arranged his tools. At the moment, when I was settling for which of the Gods to pray to, he spoke to me about the mystic from India with curly hair, who is supposed to have healing powers. I nodded in wide-mouthed assent. I didn't want to disagree, as he was the one with the weapons.

Then he got the drill. "High Speed", he said, reassuringly. The buzz put a brief pause in my morbid chain of thought.
Using what looked like a giant lever, he tried wedging my tooth out, with the skill of a car mechanic. The tooth refused to budge.
He quickly shuffled his feet and changed his stance - "Ah, Tough one!" and then with a deft move, fetched a pair of pliers. Not some itsy-bitsy-polka-dotted surgical types - these looked like they were industrial grade. Like the ones used for automobiles. At least from my point of view.

I think I zoned out right then....

Disgusting as it may sound, I got my tooth back in a box, just in case it was the ONE. I plan to keep it on my table, and consult it in times of need.

The whole day I have been feeling the presence of a phantom tooth.

Please don't laugh. Trust me it is not at all funny. As we all know, I am bad at writing humour, so, I am not even trying.

And the poke hurts more than the yank.
I want my mummy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Heights of MBA-dom: Inside sources reveal that a quiz comprising only of Multiple choice questions was given to students of a B-School to assess their creativity. Tears well up in my eyes thinking of what the world has come to. I will observe a moment of silence now.

Bengaloooru is stuck in war from the Viking era, also known as the Cauvery galata. Somebody please update me on the goings-on.

Meanwhile, people had barely recovered from the Ekkkta-Kkkapoor-esque drama around Shilpa-ji, and the shock bestowed on us by Abhiwarya-jis, and now Himeshji decided to create a furore by revealing to the world that he won't be singing in his nasal voice anymore. People have strong reactions, and requests - priceless gems of which I read only a few. Some have heaved a sigh of relief, some others advised him not to care. Supposedly, Hathi jab chalta hai tab kutte bhaunkte hai lekin fir bhi hathi apni hi dhun main chalta hai. Some say, he should replace cap after use.

Bad joke. And a regular (non-pensive? in-pensive?) post. The times are a-changin'.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

On us...


All around me I see people falling like ninepins. Many years ago, it was just matrimony which would get people to stop questioning the need for future. Once you were married, you had nothing left to dream of and to achieve, except collecting material wealth and acquisitions, and having babies - a constant greed. Like dust, you would settle. Life from then on would take a comfortable predictable pace of alternating surprises and nightmares. But, unfortunately, it is not so any more. Like vagabonds, we look for that something else, the one point, the high that would make us stop scanning the faces in the crowd and then, then we feel bad about being the crowd. We reach a point where we sit in the chair and stop not because we are there, but because we have no choice. Its because we are tired. And we get disillusioned. That is our ultimate end, the end of discovery, the freefall down the rabbit hole of cynicism. Cynicism is fashionable, cynicism is intellectual, cynicism is cathartic, cynicism is our comfort zone.

And why not? Our circumstances don't make things any better. Everything around us is so temporary and yet has a long term impact, like the 20 second spot on tv, which has to leech out on our brain, the annoying jingle which is the earworm. You scream to get it our of your head. Those temporary things, which have no impact in the present moment, and which leave us uncomfortable long term. Inconsequential things, which were the be-all and end-all of our existence, and now we realize the lack of purpose in them. They weren't even good while they lasted.

We work like insane as kids, grow up believing that when you are there you will be happy, and you are there, and you think - now what? I am here, doesnt feel like the most happy thing. This ain't bliss, this ain't the paradise they spoke of. Where is the euphoria? I am still wandering in the desert and leave alone the oil well, I haven't even found my oasis, all around is just a mirage. I have reached a personal pinnacle, and I am too good to be doing this.

So you meet people, just like yourself. Identical in history. Bond over a few beers. Narrate stories of yesteryears. Discuss fight club, floyd, and prufrock. Blow your thoughts away in a plume of smoke. These are your buddies, your friends, the ones who will be your rocks, define the next ten years of your life. And you see them, all there, up there in their personal heaven, and yet discontent. And all you seek is temporary numbness. And would do anything to get that one moment of ecstasy. And yet feel, why are you left alone? Why are you the lone traveller in this journey?

They would call it your own journey, but there is nothing worse than traveling alone. You sit at bars, and stare at people in big groups having fun, wondering about people who could have been there with you to share a drink. You drink for drunkenness, the reduced response, the quiet senses, the paralysis. Shake your shoulders to the last song, lip sync, hoping nobody notices that you are actually lonely. Strike a conversation with a stranger. Make bonds, giggle, laugh, and shake your booty, and you recede quietly. This is not a lonely traveler, this is all of us.

So you wake up on Monday morning and go to work, and find solace in the work. The bad boss, the colleague who seeks too much attention, the annoying clients, the decisions, the weekday numbness, full of people who you calibrate yourself against. Yes, I am too good to be doing this. He is too good to be where he is, and I am not there. And how the hell did he ever get this? How do I get it? These are people you like and don't like, and you desperately look for people you could respect.

But then those you respect, are cynical too. Almost as bad as you. They are the ones who are there. Successful, smart. Intelligent as hell. Well read. With talents that would make you envious. You measure your words before you speak in front of them, just because you are afraid you will look like a fool. And these poster boys of our generation are as discontent as you are. If they slip into the comfort zone, then there is little or nothing left for you. And you feel a pang of disappointment. In yourself, of course.

It leaves me even more confused.

Despite all assurance that it is just in accordance with the phase of quarter of my life passing by. I wouldn't want the prime of youth getting over spent with the gnawing feeling of nothingness, just because I can't believe. Because I have no faith in anything around me. Because I feel nobody knows what they are doing. Because I feel doubtful of the intentions that people have. A permanent state of disbelief. But, it just seems plain wrong. It can't be a crisis.

So, you look for answers, and then pause for a second and think of the question. There is no question here. Having grown up in an exam centric system, for everything we have to say, and want to say and are wanted to say - we need a question. If it wasn't for questions we wouldn't have conversations. What do I say?

So I ask you a question, "Why are we doing this to ourselves?"

And yet, you know and I know that there are no answers, just a map for a way out of the rabbit hole. I want out. I want out of this now. The question now for you from me is simple, how do we get out of this? Think buddies, if you could tell me how to get out of this. Would do anything for the resurrection of faith. Would do anything to be able to believe.

Tell me please.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Chain of thought of a cluttered mind.

In my mind, clutter is all I find. Time for some spring cleaning. In a futile attempt to convince people that I am not slowly turning insane, I explain. If I cant convince them, maybe I should confuse them. If I land up confusing myself further, I will make a list. Seriously, there is nothing in the world a well-intended, well-indented list can't solve. Make it with bullets for added measure, and posterity. So, I am thinking -
  • that missing a flight because I was too busy eating apple strudel at the lounge was a liberating experience.
  • that I am too young to be thinking that a weekend spent lazing around is a good weekend.
  • that I am too old to be thinking that a vacation spent in the eat-sleep-eat-sleep routine is a perfect vacation.
  • that the best thing that has ever happened to me on the bloody-I-don't-need-this-first-day-of-work-after-a-lazy-vacation was to see a surprise gift waiting for me at the office.
  • that to find that the package contained a book that I have been wanting for really long was a cherry on the icing on the birthday cake. (Thanks Sin-Gin, for the wish of getting older and saner and well... godbless)
  • that the near-death-experience resulting from hypothermia for the sake of vanity was the best gift I could have given Mathur on his wedding day.
  • that hyperthermia is called fever.
  • that I would like to deliver a speech saying thanks to Parle for the adulterated Limca he plied me with.
  • that I like Limca.
  • that I like Appy fizz almost as much.
  • that I figured that a surefire way of putting people on the defensive is to ask a question starting with "Why would anyone..."
  • that the surefire way of getting miserable is to think in sentences starting with "if-only".
  • that "what else could anyone ask for?" is a contorted idea of happiness.
  • that opinions should be gift wrapped.
  • that one needs to search for lack of purpose. I think search for purpose is making us miserable.
  • that giving up favourite things is an easy exercise.
  • that easy is not what I like, and hence I am about to give up on giving up.
  • that there is no one else I know who needs a sabbatical more than I do.

Friday, January 12, 2007


It was just yesterday we were sitting on that terrace,
the one at the other end of this town,
tucked in a corner,
talking about life, love and nothingness.
It was just yesterday, we were talking.
And today,
we are ready to do it all over again.
Freeriding on the Mobius.
Twisting and turning
on the same plane.
Talking of the same things,
Over and over again.
If there was something I could pray for,
it would be
for a breath of fresh conversation
to make patterns with its pitter-patter
in the empty spaces
that once lay between us.
And to rid myself
of the promise
to write pensive verses
on afterthought.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

On aging...

Exactly a year back, staring into the mirror, taking stock of life for the year, I noticed my first strand of grey hair. Pleased to meet you, it said mockingly. I looked at the unwelcome guest in an already rebellious mess, and told myself in my best serious voice that I needed to do something about it. And I wondered - do I pull it out unceremoniously, or do I disguise it? The latter seemed realistic, simplistic. So, I used L'Oreal. Because I am worth it.

Somewhere then, standing in a pool of coloured water I realized either I am in denial about getting old or I suffer from the Peter Pan syndrome. You know, when you were young, the people who were as old as you are right now, seemed a lot older then. And you always thought, when you become their age, you will be like them, as mature, as focussed, as dignified. But now at this age, while you clumsily search for an iota of change within yourself, you don't think you have remotely made it. And, you dread that it would never be any different. You dread that wont be able to do what every Paul, John, George and Ringo could do. You dread that people would never take you seriously. You just dread.

I feel that today. Here I am, on the wrong side of the quarter life crisis, and heading towards the big 3-Oh at breakneck speed. I do carry the albatross of responsibility, yes, but yet, I don't feel like I am changing for the better. The same euphoria, the need for attention, the drama, the noise, the short attention span, the unnecessary rant, the nervousness, the anticipation, the love, the hatred. All like there is no tomorrow. No change. Not a sign of it. No hope either. I don't know whether it is good or bad. But, I wonder whether I could ever fulfill the duty of aging gracefully. Time is running out and I am not getting older, per se.

A crash into reality.

I think I take life too seriously.

So, I stand at the immigration counter, take off my glasses, give a pleasant smile to the officer, take a candy, and as I head to collect my baggage. I enter the shop which sells spirits. But the whiff of a new limited edition perfume drifting in the air distracts me. So, I walk into that shop instead. Perfumes make good gifts. On one shelf, I see gracefully wrapped pots of sweet-smelling stuff. Miracle waters, creams, tonics. One for each part of the body: eyes, nose, mouth, palms, arms. To increase glow, to decrease shine, to lighten scars, to reduce fine lines, to prevent wrinkles, to cheat time. A pot for everything. And, I stare at everything in the shop, with greed, and quiet contemplation. Duty free, it says. And I realize, if there is a gift I need, it would be a duty free approach to aging.