Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Accident p0rn

Written a little while back.
If it wasnt so tragic, it would be funny.

I find myself sitting in my odd spot with a bandage around my left thumb. Not much of a difference. I use the thumb for the space bar and nothing more, so it's not so hard to type.
Gone are the days perhaps where the thumb was the important tool for warriors and poets. How to hold a bow and arrow or a pen? Ha, times have changed, we modern day warriors and poets can manage without our thumbs. The forefingers pull the trigger, and well, we type. Even it's use as the ancient phallic symbol has been replaced with the middle finger. Tom Robbins wrote an entire chapter about the importance of thumbs. I can't seem to remember any of it, except what I would perhaps not be able to do without my left thumb, is hitchhike in the commonwealth countries.

The friendly doc told me to ensure the nasty fella stays dry. I told him I am a veteran in this department. I get loyalty bonus points from dressing companies. I even know the latest fashion.

Cut to late march 2009.
I woke up that morning trying to open a carton to find something. Someone had left a swiss knife on the dining table (to open a bottle of wine, of course), the blade of which went into my palm. It bled a little, not much to merit panic. Two days later, the whole thing was full of goo and stuff, and it was impossible to move my hand. I was in pain, hallucinating, screaming, threatening to write my will . An incision and drainage had to be performed, under general anaesthesia. The last memory was that of laughing gas. I woke up from the stupor the next morning to get it dressed and discovered a hole in the middle of my palm. The resurrection happened on easter, I kid you not. Did I ever have any doubts about me being the child of God?

But a few days before the bandages came off -

And a few days after I was given the laughing gas -

I tripped and fell and landed up with a gash on my forehead. It has left a lightning shaped scar right above the left eyebrow. And not some itsybitsy clipartsy scar, but a real lightning shaped scar, which seems to turn red and throb every time I drink red wine. I feel it's a message, but and yet to decipher it. May be it's morsecode.

Of course, true to myself, not to be defeated, I still decided to run the JPM corporate challenge - a 5.6km run through the heart of the city, the central business district. Ever so popular with the cutthroatmanager type people, who lack civil behaviour. One of them gave me the elbow, so I jumped off the pavement and stepped on a discarded bottle, twisted my ankle and fell, skinning my left knee. I was left with running only 1 km, and I had no choice but to limp the rest of the way.

It was only april, the cruelest month.

By this time, the horoscope came chasing my back to indicate, that the dosha (flaw) found last december was making me accident prone (that's the topic of another post)

So then, after a few inconsequential cuts and bruises, A was made to sit through a 4+ hour pooja to reduce the impact on my behalf, because women, as you would perhaps not know, have no rights to pray for themselves (or so I assume). I dutifully sat through it, touching his right shoulder, hoping the faith would heal and protect.

Soon after I got back, both of us were in a bike crash. Though safe, we landed up with major skinning of all body parts, which took a while to heal and completed the match-muched set of scars. Of course, after the initial shock, my immediate response to sink into terrible self pity, assuming I brought it upon him, and losing faith on the dosha vendors.

I will not get to the story of the crashes and tsunami warnings and the close calls, which actually are entertaining and sound adventurous, and will take the tragedy out of this story while I need your sympathy.

Now the thumb - a little kitchen accident which happens, happens to the best of us. It understandably made me hyperreact and run to the doctor and feed myself three years worth of antibiotics.

My body is a war zone, full of land mines, scars and pits and spots, all ugly on a grown woman. When I was all of three it was a big deal to have a band aid on the knee, now, I wonder if men still find it enviable.

The jokes arent tiring, the advice is. This includes: not venturing out of home evvaar (though half the accidents have happened while I was, in fact, home), realigning the feng shui of this house, and getting pregnant (don't ask.)

But I wish people would say some encouraging words, because I seem to have lost all confidence. That doesn't stop me from doing anything, but it has become a hassle to lose confidence in something seemingly innocuous, like peeling potatoes, and this constant thing that keeps running at the back of my head that I am accident prone, and so I am waiting for the next disaster to happen.

I am the next disaster waiting to happen.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Gonna fly now.

Running is something I talk about a lot, but I never get around to doing as much as I talk about it. Yep, it's one of those things, which people believe I love, but while I've confidently spoken to all my running friends about my intentions, minus the odd short (~5km) runs, I never actually got around to registering for an event till this year. Most often than not, I am plain lazy to register on time, and such events are usually oversubscribed in Singapore.

The other problem has always been that I find running extremely boring, which is not surprising given my extremely short attention span.

This year, I also finally found the gear I so needed to be able to keep at it: an iPod shuffle.
So the night before the Standard Chartered run (SCSM), while other people were busy carb-loading and hydrating, I carefully sat and planned the music I so needed to pace myself, and to help me keep going without realizing what was going on.

Speaking of hydrating, it didn't help that SCSM kept sending me scary messages the whole of yesterday asking me to hydrate. So much so that I woke up with sweaty nightmares a couple of times and found that my throat was parched..

Now comes the best part -
I decided to take a cab in the morning. The plan being, I will go as close to the starting point as possible without tiring myself out even a leettle bit. I got in and before I could say a thing the Sardarji at the wheel asked me in impeccable Singlish, "Why you going to run so late ah? I see people run from 5 o'clock, you know."

I patiently explained the strategy of staggered starts. He further went on to explain the best route to take to get closest to starting point. Trusting him completely, I proceeded to adjust my headphones in place and checking my playlist, taking carefully measured sips of water from my bottle.

Then he decided to talk:

"Where in India are you from?"
I explained my middle-east-origins, which he was expectedly clueless about.
"Close to Calcutta", I said, hoping to help.
"Worst place in the world. So dirty, so ugly. I nevaaaaaar want to go there evaaaaaaar."
I smiled.

Then it hit rockbottom.

"Doctor say, running very good. I say not very good. Three friend die you know"
"One fellow, he went New Zealand, three day he run. Then too cold something he die."
"One more fellow, last week, his heart stopped."
"One girl, she came asked me to find army gear for her. I help her buy. She run for charity. I never hear from her again."

I kept quiet. I was scared, of course. Two seconds later, he asked me if I knew anyone else who was running.

"Man or girl?"
"Girl must not run"

Ultimately, he stopped at one end of Robinson Road, and said "That's it miss, I can't go any further. You have to get down here."

Annoyed at myself for having trusted, because I knew the road was blocked, I paid him, asked him to keep the change as I didn't want coins jingling in my pocket, and landed up walking all the way to the start point, which as people in Singapore would vouch, is quite a bit. On the way, I crossed the 2 km and 3km mark for the full marathon course. Needless to say, when I finally got there, I was sweaty and thirsty, and very scared about my heart.

I also saw the early finishers of the full marathon on Anderson bridge while I was trying to navigate my way up and down the underpasses. A six-foot tall african, followed by a six foot tall chinese, followed by that cute guy from gym. Hell, the cute guy from gym runs? I didn't know that.

The run itself was uneventful. It was crowded. Like the entire world had nothing to do except get up and run on a nice Sunday morning. The point with such slow crowds is that one lands up being better off walking, because even at your fastest, you are slower than the average walker. And given my past experience with aggressive women, and men, and given the warnings meted out by helpful taxi guy, I decided to stick to my lane and run slow. I finished slower than the last time, and thankfully, am still alive.

High, and disoriented, and sweaty, I took the train back home.
Strange, I needed so many words to write about a 10k. The one who finished the full marathon, needed very few.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

... and let dive

You know when we were growing up, and getting from 6th standard to 7th standard was a big deal. It was like something to be conquered. As I read somewhere, a three and a half year old knows the difference between being three and being four. I am three-and-a-half  years old. Ever seen a kid who is not proud saying that?

Sometimes I feel that I need that metric just to experience the ecstasy of taking a number down. Floating around aimlessly with little joys and without tangible milestones simply won't do. I guess that's why people run marathons. 42 becomes that number to run for, to say I've been-there-done-that. 
Does one need milestones to find happiness? 

Now I am being all scatty. This is right after Cyn called my blog a sleek minimalistic condo. I wonder why she would say that. Must be true. This is where the dirt is under-the-fancy-rug-swept, there is no storage space, and money-plants grow, ironically, in empty wine bottles. Plus, though this place impresses others, the truth is that however long I live here, I never seem to belong. 

But I digress. As always, I digress.

"Collect your thoughts", a friend in college used to say, "collect your thoughts before you dive into the middle of it all"

There you go, back to the point.

Diving is something that has given my life some semblance of that structure. From a non-swimmer who struggles in the choppy waters, and panics, I transform underwater and move around somewhat elegantly, somewhat effortlessly. Somewhat, I said. Don't push the limits of that somewhat. It would sound trite to say I belong, but I really do enjoy the water above my head and nothing but my equipment to trust. Such a heady feeling swimming among the fish above the corals. And the addictive silence. There is absolute peace and quiet for noone can talk. You communicate with signs and symbols, and commit what you see to memory, so you can come to the surface, and check the name of that brightly coloured fish which held your attention for that little bit.

When I started, I was into the star spotting- the stingrays, the turtles, the sharks. Hard to find, and always the lone rangers, it can make ones dive trip worth bragging about.  That was then. Now I am content and much more confident identifying the gorgonian fans and batfish and spotting the odd clownfish moving in and out of anemone. It is always full of odd surprises. Sometimes you find the jellyfish being eaten by small fish. Sometimes you find yourself engulfed in a school of barracuda. Sometimes a rabbitfish comes and befriends you. Sometimes you squint your eyes to spot a pufferfish. Sometimes you make up names for the redfish bluefish yellowfish

Such joy!

Don't get me wrong, as much as I pretend to be good, I am far from it. There are many people who have clocked many more dives and are much better divers. I barely started.

So, why am I writing all this? 

Good question.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Saigon kick -2

Due to the brilliant response of the first part, I have decided to post part two. You people are very kind.


The day after we went to Cu chi, we woke up early and made our way for another tour - to the Mekong delta, which is also a two hour ride from the city. I wasn't very sleep deprived, so I decided to listen to Romeo who was nearly bleeding with songs and information about the superstitions about birth and death in Vietnam. For instance - farmers would ask to be buried in the farmland to prevent the wayward sons from selling the farmland.

On the way, we visited a temple of the Cao Dai (Pronounced: cow dye) religion. Primarily monotheistic, they have symbols from all religions placed inside the sanctum. God is symbolized by the left eye as it's supposedly closer to the heart.

From there, it took us about twenty minutes to get to the Mekong Delta. "The waters in the delta are not dirty, but red because of all the alluvium in the soil", Romeo informed me, reminding me of the word "alluvium" which I hadn't heard for many years. Needless to say, the area is very fertile, and has a lot of rice fields. Vietnam is (was?) third after Thailand and India in rice export (of course, that could be related to the consumption, but still..).

The delta tour itself can be not very high energy and exciting, save for the ride in a canoe, through a canal, where you wear those hats, and the arms of strong women render your years of gym useless.. Oh yes, we did visit a couple of "staged" villages - you know the kind where everything is how a village is in our imagination, where we were served snacks, and fruit and tea and chewy coconut candy, which got stuck to my teeth and prevented me from speaking for a full 15 minutes.

For me, the best part of the trip was identifying different fruit trees. I, for one, had never seen a grapefruit or a dragonfruit tree. (Yes, many of you haven't seen a dragon fruit, but it's alright.)

I slept through the two hour return trip finally finding comfort in the singsong voice, while A indulged in a conversation about Mooncakes and ricefields and the city.

We made our way to the Ben Thanh market in the evening assuming it would be a handicraft af-fair with loads of local made stuff, but it turned out to be a night market with the original duplicate (read:Chinatown type) stuff, which I wasn't too keen on looking at, because I had no patience to bargain. Bargaining needs not heart, not liver but powered up lungs. I gave up and decided to get fleeced by one of the tourist shops instead. Vietnamese lacquerware paintings are unique but almost all the shops sell identical stuff, and are affordable.

Then someone recommended us to see the water puppet show, and trust me, it turned out to be more enjoyable than I could've ever imagined. Mostly depicting life of farmers in Vietnam, the deft hands of the puppeteers standing in chest deep water tell folk tales and mythology. They are accompanied by musicians with banter in their voices. The puppets are language by itself. A and I still laugh about some of the jokes moving our hands about and jumping around.

The city is best seen on foot. One is better off staying in District 1, and then walking around and getting lost on the map. It is the best way to get by and to spot the life as it passes by. You see a swarm of 80cc motorbikes coming at you as you cross the road. You see the mess of overhead cables as they mark the corner of the streets. You see scared lady drivers swinging their handlebars left-right left-right to dodge you till you make up your mind and stay still. You see old ladies with the traditional baskets on a pole doing the hop-walk. You see the joy on people's faces as they dig their teeth into scrumptious street food. Walking is the only way to enjoy the vibe.

Which brings us to the food. One of us couldn't stop drinking coffee (Ha, gotcha, wasn't me!). It smells of coconut and tastes like Vanilla and does random things to your tastebuds, giving a weird caffeine kick. I, on the other hand, was addicted to the food. I have always been a huge fan of fresh rice paper rolls (Summer rolls) and prawn on sugarcane but now I am willing to cheat on my love for any other cuisine and start a torrid affair with Vietnamese food.

Banh Mi is this sandwich type thing, which is made of baguettes, and has meat and a gooey vietnamese style sauce making it delisshhus.

Pho, or noodle soup has beef pieces, soft noodles and broth. I don't eat beef, so carefully picked the beef pieces out, and drank the broth anyway.

Vietnamese are of the habit of putting fresh herbs in their food as opposed to cooking and cooking with a whole lot of unidentified powders and pastes like we Indians are used to, and hence leads to flavours where every note is identifiable and hence comforting. I am told there are a lot more vegetarian options in Vietnam, because of the strong Buddhist roots, but I would be wary since though there are more than enough Vegetables in the food, the fish sauce and condiments may contain some stuff they don't want to admit.

Food is religion, I have converted.

Beer, umm, there is 333 (Ba ba ba) and Sai Gon, both palatable, drinkable, and muuuuuch better than Fosters (which is my rock bottom for beer and gives me the rash). I have a rule of drinking only the local beer when in any new town. Rice wine is worth a try I guess, I didn't try any, since beer is cheaper, and closer to my belly. Many pubs and clubs with live bands use random number generators to price their beer, so it's better to be cautious.

There is this atrocious drink called snake wine, where you see rice wine bottles with snakes and scorpions and weird things. Booze is already poisonous, why adulterate it with more? Plus, I read that the venom is denatured by ethanol, so what's the point anyway. And with that I end my carefully crafted justification of chickening out.


PS: Apologize for the delay in posting. I have another trip to write about now.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Saigon kick -1

As expected, this thing begins at the very end of the trip. One always thinks about what one has seen and done at the very end, mostly while sitting at the airport. One can't help it. So as my travel companion struts away to a much needed foot massage at the airport, I trudge to what I think I need most - quiet time with my computer. Just so you know, I can see the "spa" from the corner of my eye, and can spot more men walking to the place than women. Women are always blamed for their indulgence, but I love the way men manage to peddle their indulgences as "need". "I *neeeeed* this" doesn't quite sound the same as "Oh well, maybe I should buy myself a new bag". You would find a guy wistfully staring at a piece of art which doubles up as a gym trainer and a rocket launcher (a.k.a an iPhone) he so badly *needs*, when you know and I know it doesn't even match the furniture.

Anyway, one is attempting a travelogue about their recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. And all you kind people should encourage me. For info, it's logical, not chronological.


Ho Chi Minh City nestles in a spot in the south of Vietnam which if you stare at the map long enough, looks like its wrist. Formerly officially known Saigon, it was named HCMC after the city was captured by the North Vietnamese forces at the end of Vietnam war. It is still informally called Saigon by the locals. All on that in wiki, if you're keen.

I was ashamed of how ignorant I was about the intricacies of Vietnam war till I actually visited the city and felt the vibe of a place which can perhaps never forget. The words "War veterans" and "Agent Orange" is thrown around a lot for anyone's comfort, and yet the details seem to have slipped right through my history lessons. For those who don't know and don't care, and to cut a very long story short-

Vietnam was occupied by French after the Second world war. The Geneva Accord of 1954 which kicked the French out and essentially divided it into two states ("pending national elections"): - The North ( Democratic Republic of Vietnam controlled by the communists) and the South ( Republic of Vietnam controlled by, well, what the vietnamese call a puppet govt placed there by the US). To prevent the communist forces from rising to power (and to harness the mineral resources in the area) US entered Vietnam.. The North vietnamese army (Viet Minh) led a conventional war, however there was a guerrilla operation run by VietCong against the anti-communist forces in the south.

If you find me a little biased in the above paragraph, it's only because it is hard not to emote after seeing a city which has assimilated war into its identity. I will try to sound more indifferent from now on.

Hold on!
Back to the beginning -

So, soon after we landed, after an early morning budget flight which made toast out of us, we had to bite into the morning traffic jam. As expected, despite what we thought was smart bargaining, we got nearly looted by the taxi driver, like tourists often do. It's the fate of a tourist - however cautious one is, however much one reads the stuff online and prepares - printouts et al -- one almost always gets cheated on the first ride from the Airport to the hotel.

Once we reached the hotel, we realized that time travel had given us an extra hour that day, we asked the kind lady at the tour desk downstairs, to take us to the Cu Chi tunnels.
Soon enough our friendly tour guide arrived, shoved us into a van, handed us a bottle of mineral water each, and decided to give us our money's worth by not letting us sleep through the ride. Going by the name Romeo, he spoke good English, and gave us, the clueless two, trivia about the country and her people and their superstitions. He didn't stop till the van did.

The Cu chi tunnels, which are roughly two hours away from the heart of the city, were built by the VietCong during the war, and are work of wonder. Up to 10 metres underground, and having upto three levels these were mostly dug using shovels. The tunnels are for the petite and small ( read: size XS) "because they knew that it is impossible for the westerners to fit". It's hard to imagine how people lived down these rabbit holes for years, and how kids were born inside those tunnels which barely have any light, and were often infested with poisonous ants and scorpions. Sectors have been widened to fit the tourists, and lights been installed, but one still needs to crawl and it is still too dark and narrow and can get claustrophobic. It's barely a treasure hunt as you would imagine it to be.

The other highlights of the tour are the booby traps and other ingenious methods used by them using mostly the scraps from the enemy - scrap from shells used to make the weapons, rubber tyres used to make slippers, soldiers' uniforms to throw the "German" dogs off-track. There are B52 craters, unexploded bomb shells and broken tanks which were damaged by the land-mines. One does realize the uselessness of such massive brute-force type tanks and weapons (?) in a war, when they were up against short and quick and agile people using common sense and intelligence.

A day later we made our way to the Reunification Palace. A little after the US withdrawl from the Vietnam war, a tank of the North Vietnamese Army (dramatically) bulldozed through the main gate, ending the Vietnam War -- an event recorded as Fall of Saigon (wiki, if you please) and reunified the country under Communist rule. The p(a)lace itself is full of rooms full of furniture, which can best be described as regal or imperial, and collects all things stinking of affluence (read:wastefulness) of the (then South vietnamese) govt. It can get boring, but I guess it holds a lot of importance for the Vietnamese people. The interesting part here is the basement under metres of concrete which is like one of those "War bunkers" you see in movies - full of maps and old communication devices where the generals point with those long pointer things and plan their attacks.

A final stop on the War trail was the War Remnants museum (formerly known as "Museum of American War Crimes"). The "American" bit was dropped sometime in 1995 (and they perhaps had no choice but to) after they normalized the relationship with the United States. There are tanks and bombs and missiles and all tangible war remnants kept outside, and one can't help but wonder about the amount of money spent in shipping those things over halfway across the world. The inside of the museum tells us the tale of the war, and is replete with pictures. There is an temporary exhibition about the true remnants of the war -- pictures of victims of Agent Orange. It was a defoliant used by the American army containing a toxic (and banned) agent dioxin which poisoned their food chain and resulted in innumerable birth defects. Indifferent as I may sound while telling you what it is, the exhibition is not for the faint hearted. A gave up after walking through ten pics. I saw around twenty, and stepped outside as if closing my eyes and getting away would prevent all things bad from happening in the world. How I wish. All around me, people were walking with their mouths covered, in disbelief perhaps, that the most celebrated war veterans, the most celebrated presidents were party to such damage, such carnage, such mutilation of life.

Nothing, I repeat, nothing ever justifies war and a war like this. Nothing justifies death of people, even if it is masquerading as nationalism. The entire vietnam war left millions dead, (including ~50,000 americans, if you please). In Cu Chi area, of the 16000 people living in the tunnels only 6000 survived [to be verified], I am told. I don't even want to get to the amount of money which could've been put to better use, perhaps. Was it even worth it?

PPS: If there is one person who has read till the end of this post, and hence I get one comment on it, I will write the part two. Else, you miss the best parts.
PS: Art work -- my own.

Breathe and be

There are days when I miss you. You were the one full of dreams and ambition and need to kill the world, or make the world keel. You are not the same anymore. Full of doubt, full of need to validate yourself against what others have to say, dwelling on the words, quotes, pulling notes out of your hidden pocket, insecure as you can be.

There was a time when you were quiet, not saying anything for you were afraid, measuring words, deleting them, controlling them, shifting them, spacing them as need be. Now, vocal as you are, it seems futile, for you can't tap your feet with the times, eschewing nails (for they are a pain when you type) as you have walked too far down a path which seems to be familiar to others, and yet is not remotely what you are, on a road better as less travelled as it can be.

The dreams and hopes and flights seem to evaporate into the cumulus, a cumulative accumulation of what you've learnt, they cloud your judgement, trap you into your future, rain doubts, drain hope. And it's not a future less traveled, it's as done to death as it could be.

Sometimes I wonder how you became so emotionless. Sometimes I wonder how you can go through the motions. Once upon, the very notion of a motion put you into a fit of love or rage or hunger or anger. Now you look straight through life and death, guiltless or wallowing as the case may be.

As I said, though double the size, you're not half the person you used to be.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Face of things to come.

In a near dystopian future, mutant fortune cookies take over the world, they save your personal information, oozing venomous messages to all those who dare challenge their supremacy - "Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can". All the helpless people can really do is give in to the oddball addiction. 

Human beings are constantly monitored, being accountable for every single stray thought that steps into the frame - "So, update us, what's on your mind?"  Their colleagues, friends, fathers, mothers and big brother silently watch. Humans feed, humans read, lapping up every bit of information thrown at them.
There is no such thing left as free will. Every decision taken through a series of questions to the one, tap of a finger, click of a button -  "What is my purpose in life?" "What should I have for dinner?"

People rub their eyes in the morning, wake up into a world where they can't dis-like things - they can only "like" the stuff. People compare people, rate them, order them, hand out superlatives. Flick of a wrist, click of a button. "Friend-unfriend", "Accept-ignore" "Red-pill, blue-pill"- they make their choices, the screen flashes in protest and they become a part of the system.  

The farmers become the herds -- some 11 million of them. They grow cash-crops - eggplant and strawberries. Somewhere, a lonely black sheep strays into their neighbour's farm. She feels very sad and needs a new home. There is no one to help them out.

While the farmer toils on, the soldier fights the new enemy. The mafia slowly takes over the city.  The war wages on, as the pawns in the battle lose their energy, health, and stamina by the minute.
Then there are the guerilla warriors who form the resistance, fighting the cookies and the mafia. They have no weapons -- they fight with their bare hands -- poking and throwing snowballs as they find spots to hide in a box.

Somewhere my taste buds protest, overwhelmed at all the force-fed information. Somewhere my cause to ignore a protest kicks in. Somewhere, I ride the nightmare where Facebook is skynet, and resistance is futile.
Somewhere I give up hope, somewhere I get bored of it all.

Gah, I really got bored writing this post, but decided to post it nonetheless, so don't complain about the abruptness of it all. kthxbai.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Just about fair

It's funny how I speak to people with completely different results. At any given point of time, with certain people I am open to their point of view, their ideas, and with certain others, I become a person who wants to drive the point across and is not receptive to anything.

Manu brought this point about the SRK issue and infinite justice, and made it seem simpler than algebra. His piece touches upon of the varying ideas we have about things fair-unfair, just-unjust, things we hold dear, and the greatest common denominator very few have - objectivity. Dang, can't believe I lost a chance to argue the point on twitter.

The weird thing is, I had a long drawn writeup on the matter, but I now realize this discussion is way past it's expiry date, and there really is little point belabouring it. So here is the gist of it -

I remember once sitting on a terrace, much before my present life of sloth, with a couple of drinks and do what young-single-NRIs do best on Friday nights- argue about what's wrong with India. It's a way for us to justify the selfish choices we have made. We let go of a lot to live this life, and prevent ourselves from tripping over guilt when we watch Swades, because we have made that choice of giving up a life full of struggles in "our" country, just to be happy in our little worlds where things run like clockwork.

And in one such moment, a friend had an epiphany. He chanced upon the idea which one lives by in India -- the fact that law isn't the same for all. For something as simple as a license renewal to something as elaborate as a hit-and-run, the law will hardly ever treat two people the same way. The sad part of it is, even young-bright-urban-educated-upright-individuals like you and me, give in to the system. or find ways of solpa-adjusting our way around it. We simply don't have the time, or the patience, or the courage, or the conviction to deal with it.

What additionally bothers me is how we pity ourselves when we hear of any incident involving someone "powerful". "If it can happen to him, imagine us..". So the "outrage" that loyal fans experience is also bundled with a whole lot of self pity.

Tell me, why is getting frisked unjust? It may just be fair on a gazillion others who are traveling. One man's suffering for the greater common good. I've been "randomly" selected for the "special safety screening channel" more than once - Shoes off, belt off till the metal detector gives me a clean slate. If they could, they would perhaps try and account for the iron in the blood. I even opted for ceramic fillings, because I am petrified of the beeps. I don't think it is unfair in anyway. I am fine with it, since I am sure others are frisked too.

As far as the racial profiling goes, given the current state of world affairs, and given the havoc the religious extremists have created, they are perhaps just trying to live by what the statistics suggest to them. You can't blame them, can you? Agreed that statistics are flawed, as Nicholas Taleb would argue, but statistics just give us the reassurance we so badly need. Tell me, what other way is there to tell?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Life, on the move

The fifteen year old calls. She tells me she is now obsessing over apocalyptic events. I don't have to try hard to find the correlation between that and her impending board exams.

A little while later -

I fly out to this beautiful city. The ride from the airport to the heart of the city warms the cockles of mine. A glimpse of a lot of spots from the past. This is where she lived. That is where we stopped that day. Pronouns infest my mind, my eyes resolve the anaphora. I will perhaps never fall out of love with this city. Never.

A little while later -

Children of brothers and sisters unite in a violin shaped Hall. All share muffled laughs as kids crack jokes decidedly adult.
"Didn't you find the botox joke funny?"
"No sweetheart, at my age you don't."

Two angels, now grown up, and the coolest aunt plan a sleepover. They plan to giggle through the night. "Gimme gossip, yo"
"D and N are going out."
"Since when?"
"Sixth grade. Can you believe they were seen making out in McD's? McD's of all places."
"Oh wow", I say, dealing subconsciously with the facts of life, and trying to get rid of the mental image of a six year old D with a water bottle hung around his neck asking for a kids meal at McD's. Of all places.

I wake up to see her hair beaded with red thread, and my nails painted an apocalyptic purple. Work of the devil or the work of a 13-year old. I don't have to try hard to find the correlation between that and the fact that she played the lawyer the night before. Yes, on that stage.

A little while later -
Shamelessly flaunting these badges of honour, I trudge to meet an old partner in crime. He makes me wait at the wrong mall where Lush smellscapes and jobless people surround me.
I run to the right mall braving the traffic. One could make a movie out of that little ordeal of mine.
One eats lunch and then one hunts for coffee.
Some seemingly tone-deaf DJs loop MJ.
A stack of spoons falls in a loud protest.
I laugh.
He talks.
I suppress an accidental yawn.
He curses.
I explain, "Coffee makes me sleepy. That's why I have so much of it"
He doesn't buy the argument. Who would? (But it's true.)

A little while later -

I go to the town tucked away on one side of the world. I drive through the lines joining points on the landscape: End Point, Endless Point, Peacock point so on and so forth.. Things have changed. A garden rests where end of the world used to be. A building has come up where the road used to be. A university has come up where peacocks used to be. On that odd drive, I spot a house painted apocalyptic purple, oddly named "John Corner".

A little while later -

Clouds turn an ominous shade of grey, it could be Day after Tomorrow. The skies unfold. The rains I had prayed for, so earnestly, land up in the middle of my vacation.

Edited to add: Since you asked, the person who gives wrong directions to restorants, is this guy, someone we fondly address as Punmaster t9

Friday, June 19, 2009

Life, suspended

The word "auto" never ceases to amaze me. Autorickshaw. Auto, the self, inspires a sense of freedom that one can't explain while taking any other mode of paid transport. A taxi seems very upmarket - like you would walk out of a mall holding a gazillion paperbags and wave for one. Calling it a cab is even more deprave. To be honest, when I first started calling it a cab, I just couldn't stop - "Cab" "Flag a cab" "Call a cab" etc.
An Auto on the other hand free, open, odd-wheeled and stands for that: the self, the independence.

One has broken the terms of the house arrest and ventured out in an auto. Fwee. But that was in the evening. Before that -

One little boy, in the house behind ours, refuses to get out of the shower. Squeals of protest.
One little boy, in the other house behind ours, annoys the hell out of his mother, and gets it from her. Squeals of fear.
One little boy in the house facing ours, a year and a half old, figures the doorbell out. Ting Tong Ting Tong tingtongtingtongtingtong.. Squeals of joy.
They all squeal in tandem.

One speaks to a friend, tells him about the unbearable heatwave which has claimed lives and ones brain in the process. One even manages an apology for whininess in the midst of profuse sweating.
"What's the weather like?"
"40 degrees, and it's only 10:30 am."
"That is nothing, 45 degrees here"
Okay, yours is bigger than mine. One is sorry, for having told you that one has air-conditioning at home.

Ma calls one for the nth odd meal of the day. One brilliantly stuffs themselves.

Dad calls, asks "Tell me, what's happening?"
"Breaking news: The milk got spoilt."
He changes the topic, "Is it raining?"
"Yes", one says, "Two drops fell."
"It's a sparrow crying."

One then gets back to hobnob the loverchild, the mac, which crashes for the 10th time. It perhaps rebels. One had decided to call it Macartney, but now thinks Macavity suits it better. Evil evil. Too much thought. Brain collapses under the pressure.
One then takes a break, guzzles water.

Ma uses the opportunity, the gap in one's mind, to ask if one is hungry. Considering how much she hates being even in the vicinity of the kitchen, even the question is a valiant effort.

One calls a zillion people. Or chats. Or emails. Or uses telepathy.
One speaks to another friend. He calls one a girl and a tube-light, in no necessary order of preference. That's a bad exit strategy in a conversation. One has never pretended to know all, then why is one being drowned in conversations involving undecipherable jargon, and then being judged for it? If you were that smart you would be able to explain it, instead of calling one a tube-light.

Meanwhile, one forces Ma to watch the Blue Umbrella. Halfway through, she promises never to watch another movie with Pankaj Kapur in it, if he is the one who has indeed stolen the umbrella. Fine, let's wait. She lusts after the umbrella too, "When you go to Japan.."
We are a dramatic family.

Dad calls again, with a more oddball question than ever "If a ball is thrown up in the air, when it reaches the ground what will be it's velocity?" One answers, to the best of their abilities. "And the force?" "Mass times g, no?"

It is the evening - one finds their way to a small DTP store to print five sheets of paper out. Five, no more. He prints. "This is the best I can do." Two people walk in requesting for help with download. One little gigs, two little gigs.

One flags an auto. Negotiates. Refuses. Walks off. One plays games in which noone loses. He chases, agrees. So does one.
One then rides with the wind, two little sparrows cry, dusk settles like dust.
That auto-ride smells of humus in the soil, of hope of rainfall in the air, of the little rebellion in the sky and more importantly, of all pervasive freedom.


PS: Bits of fiction.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


When life gives you lemons, make a lemonade. Or wing it right back and add lemons of your own. That is not too difficult, since lemons grow all year round. Mangoes, on the other hand, choose summers. One must suffer to enjoy the fruit. We are but slaves to the king of fruits.

I'm sitting in the middle of a heatwave. Home, and virtually under house arrest. You know snowstorms in movies - same situation, less fur. I am such a weatherwhiner. Leave me in any situation and I will complain about the weather, save for the fragile season of fall -- I'll never complain about the fall. Or mangoes.

So yes, it is 40 degrees. Clothes stick to you. Dust finds it's way to the table top. The milk gets spoilt. The kids don't play on the street. The schools are closed. I haven't written a word for two days. People have been visiting. People have been visited. I have watched enough bad movies to put me off bad movies for a lifetime. This firangi apple is getting baked. My brain is getting fried, my wit has melted. I'm just a bundle of reflexes.

Thankfully there is homefood. And mangoes.
Edited to add: Thankies to youth icon Manu for the first line.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Life, delayed.

Airports are fascinating places to observe life as it passes by. Which is what I am doing now. Now, if only I could speak my mind. The din of the drill is just blinding. My mind can't see what it wants to write.

Still - 

I walk.

A little girl stretches her legs out on a trolley. She gets a free ride. Whee. Three humans walk through the pyramid of trolleys. No, not a pyramid, but a queue. They lend direction. Whee. People walk around. Two people talk to their own left shoulders. "Sho cute no baby?", a young woman whispers into the ear of an old man, albeit loudly. "Baby"? I turn back and look, I extrapolate to fit their story as I hear snippets of a language which was once familiar.

Indulgence, temptation, reward - the ad for a credit card company screeches, blinding the one remaining sense.

Dad calls. He considers me incapable of finding my way around the hundred metres worth of distance. Fly I can, walk I can't.

Like a sniffer dog, I hunt for free wireless. Sniff sniff, I lean against the wall. Refresh. Sniff.  I give up. Packet data not available. I breathe. I discover little boxes of viagra in the makeshift pharmacy with chastity belt of a rubberband tied around them. I peer. People stare at me. Why would someone would leave their nose prints on a pharmacy window?

I read the first five and last ten pages of  a new book  in a crowded bookshop, standing, as my backpack blocks the way of everyone that walks the aisle. The ordinariness of his writing is punctuated by the "excuse me", "excuse me" of all the people who want to take the shortest route to the other famous book.  Also ordinary. Everyone wants to find the quick route to easy writing. 

In the coffee day lounge, people drink beer at 8 in the morning. In the newspaper, a Sanjeev Kapoor lookalike  finds innovative things to do with Rose syrup. Oh wait, that *is* Sanjeev Kapoor, he has shaved off his moustache. On India TV a channel finds a mega thag, someone who poses as God.  Someone switches. On another channel, Women's bill becomes a priority. Someone gesticulates.

Dad calls again. Miles to go before I sleep.

Two drunk people talk in the quiet recesses of their brain. To the outside world they are mumbling. Someone looks surreptiously at me.  I stare back. Someone judges. Do I look like a loose woman?  I look at him as he guiltily squeezes ketchup onto his potato chips.  He then licks the leftover ketchup off his fingers. 

Now, Ma calls, all nervous. "Can you find your way?", she questions.

I ask for a coffee. 
"No, just coffee." 

I put two single-serves of sugar in it. 
Indulgence, temptation, reward.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Winter of content

Cyn said my writing has subtle layers.  Needless to say, I am immensely flattered and in lust with the term. I feel this blog is suitably and fashionably dressed for winter, hiding dry flaky skin without making the subtext look fat. Warm but dirty for heater or not, it's hard to shower in winters. Noone speaks here, for the words somehow freeze as the people open their mouth to say something, and yet, in a way, it's cozy company. I know you read me. More importantly, this blog hibernates. And a lot. 

I find it intriguing how much people get trapped in their blog persona and land up making it more onedimensional than it was originally intended to be, at least the eminent bloggers do.  One could argue that the blog represents one part of their personality usually linked to the one moniker, unlike the real names which come with  baggage and history. So time after time, eminent  bloggers are forced to deliver the quality assured fun, and they eventually become petrified of failing. Sometimes you can see the effort which has gone into placing the sentences, balancing the tenses, and deleting the words over and over again till the expression is right, but then the mood becomes trite, no?

It's your ego that limits you -- "I am a famous blogger, you are not, so whatever I say has to come out right". Admit it, it occasionally could be filed under selfcentredness - "Ten people read this blog and comment. I get gazillion site hits a day. Hell, I even have trolls. Whatever I say should sound right, and should get loads of comments and people should love it".. The numbers don't give a blog the legitimacy for it's existence, it's the content.

You people are immensely talented. I don't read you because of the number of comments you get, or because you are popular or controversial. It's not your mugshot, or the curiosity about your real name. I like to read you because you have ideas, opinions and observations which are original, as opposed to link whores who would be peddling your stuff back to me. 

Seriously, I would rather read an honest post than read a famous post.  So, disable comments if it bothers you, be unafraid and write an honest post today, wouldja?
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Of emotional farewells, and gratitude for all the paperclips

It's been a long journey, and not one that would've been complete without you. When we first met, I was very young and as unrefined as they come. You were the high society kinds, someone the whole of silicon valley spoke of. I was proud of making it big enough to have you.

I agree, you were the one who changed for me. You even moulded into me, rising and lowering yourself according to my whims and fancies. Hope it wasn't too difficult for you. I also hope that you have loved me as much as I loved you, even though no words were exchanged.

I want to thank you for watching my back and covering my ass. As I move on, I realize what had inherently gone wrong between you and me. You were my comfort zone, and every once in a while, one needs to get out of it to discover the world outside. In a way, you and my possessiveness for you, describes the whys and wherefores of what I am leaving behind.

So yes, as I prepare for what could turn out to be the worst-yet-to-come, dear chair, I will miss you the most. Fare thee well, my friend - hope you find an owner worthy of you. And please, wish me luck.


The cab ride to the farewell-lunch place lasted just about 15 mins, but in those 15 mins I saw the last few years in front of me. You know, like memories scrolling in bright flashy lights in a marquee.

Those two had joined a few months before me, supposedly roughened up by their experience in Army. I believed to have been roughened up by life. Yesterday we remembered all of the last few years.

"Naive", he started.
"Full of hope", I added.
"Well, we still have some hope left", the other said.
"Oh, well, hope of a different kind."
"Grown up hope. Can you believe it?"

"Remember the time when I screamed on the phone and the whole office heard it", I pulled out a fragment of nostalgia.
The other two burst out laughing at the memory of a frizzy haired and firebrand me.

"And how solving little problems made you feel like King of the universe."
"Yeah well, now the EODs (end of days) don't seem like the end of the world."
"Remember how those two fought."
"And how we ducked under the table, trying to control our laughter."
"We have calmed down so much."
"Hmm, yeah", the other two agreed.

Ah, well. All that roughening up was followed by substantial sandpapering, I suppose.
Needless to say, most of yesterday was spent sulking.
Now if only overrated nostalgia could pave the way, I would like to get some real emotions through.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Many things.

These days, I get that feeling of being truly in love. No, it's more like the feeling of falling in love. With something, anything, someone, anyone. I just free fall.

Acutely aware that it has taken over me, I frantically search as to what it is that I want, that I need. It's not attached to anything or anyone, or my immense need to constantly want. In that moment, it's just me and the feeling. And I float, undrunk.

Maybe it's the wait for freedom. Maybe it's all the sunlight. Maybe it's the thoughts you inspire.

You are indeed two steps behind me.
There are some things that I solved a little faster than you.

And take a look around, you'll see what you cant find.
Like the fire that's burning up inside me.

There is this part in Chak de India where SRK says: Neeyat chahiye.
The line always stays in my head.
One can want a million things and all at the same time. One can wish till the world's end, y'know, hazaaron khwahishein aisi ke har khwahish pe dum nikle.
But to get even one, one needs the intent, isn't it?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What were you doing on May the 21st, 1991?

We were on our way to Mangalore in a bus, Ma and I. We took the bus from Bombay like we always did. The western ghats are tricky, and hence a bunch of buses usually left together. Somewhere near or after Belgaum, our bus slowed down, and then stopped - we couldn't figure the confusion was, nobody told us, just some hints about one of the buses being caught up/delayed and hence this one had to wait. We reached in the morning. Amidst the noise and chaos of the reunion, someone screamed for us to shut up when we heard the heard the words "Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated" on the radio.

What we didn't know was that my uncle was traveling from Bombay on the same day, and on the bus behind and was the one that was caught and torched by rioteers (?), because the news of the assassination had spread by then. It tumbled into a ditch. He reached home 11-12 hours late.

Over the next few days, Doordarshan stopped the broadcast of all their "entertainment" programmes, and it was one of those occasions when noone complained. The entire family, led by my grandmother, wept in front of the TV, openly, as Sonia Gandhi hid behind her giant sunglasses and Priyanka looked suitably in control. Everyone made guesses about the future of the elections and the family.

18 years later, the memories of that time have hit adulthood and some of the details have been lost, but the bus ride the chill in the spine, the ambiance, the lull afterwards, I have never quite forgotten. Since then TV or not, I remember, albeit quietly, every year.

Recently, I was quite surprised when a friend asked me the same question in the midst of much rave-talk about his big backpacking trip to India in '91. It was surprising only because he is not Indian, though he is sufficiently brown on the inside. We swapped the reconstructed bits from our memory, that evening. "Where were you?", "What were you doing?"


Needless to say, everyone misunderstood me when I asked the question today. I wasn't campaigning for any political party, or saying that Rajiv Gandhi was the greatest PM India has ever had, or trying to bring up Bofors or gaping holes in his policy. I have little or no personal interest in the matter. It has little to do with recent death of Prabhakaran.

I was merely experimenting on whether people retroactively attach importance to ordinary goings on in the wake of a "big event". I was also trying to verify whether Rajiv Gandhi's death can be considered one of those "big events" for someone my age, or was it just me who remembers everything so vividly.

I have a substantially accurate memory of time leading to that event. And I wondered if many people could accurately reconstruct the mundane goings-on of a day because something seemingly big has happened. It was a study of how the brain captures memories of a Black Swan event.

It struck me when someone (Oprah, was it?) said about the day Obama won "It is one of those things where you'll tell the future generations - What were you doing that day when Obama won?"

I do believe that ordinariness of a day gets magnified because of a big event, and you retrofit the events leading to the point when the news was broken to you. I was skipping about in the corridor, doing my math, playing hopscotch - when I got the news. Some remember more details (from the start of the day), some less (five minutes before the event). Almost everyone remembers the location. It's almost as if people correlate the ordinariness of the time before to the degree of shock/joy/any-other-emotion experienced.

Right after the event, everything perhaps moves in a sort of slow motion. If the event was the cause for the succeeding chain of non-routine events in an otherwise normal day, for instance, riots, then even the normal circumstances during that day become a part of the memory, even if it's only to connect the dots, the high points, and one remembers every bit of a that train ride in excruciating detail.

Agreed, the importance of the event is subjective, it comes from the buildup, the months preceding, the media, the charisma yada yada. Someone in a small kampong in Malaysia is perhaps not that greatly affected by 9/11. But due to his charisma, or the general Kennedy-esque tragedies that have are attached to the family, Rajiv Gandhi's death seems to have had a great impact on quite a few people of our generation (except you, youth icon Manu). I think the previous generation was impacted by Indira Gandhi's assassination the same way.

So, yes, tell me, what other such events can you remember in this detail? Describe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Of intelligence, stereotypes and word salads.

Overheard: You get tired of people complimenting you for your intelligence, and hence read trash which insults it.

Monday morning came with the unusual comparison to a very interesting character, a man, from a TV show. Immensely flattered by this compliment, my question was rather simple "Why aren't there any intelligent women to be compared against?". The answer I received was nothing short of a revelation: "Because intelligent women become a stereotype and then proceed to get utterly lost."

The Activist,
the Carrie Bradshaw, the power dresser, the Martha Stewart, the Liberated feminist, the Joni Mitchel, the SAHM, so on and so forth. At some point of time most get slotted, pigeonholed into their parts.

I have heard this before, I think. It never registered. And never before have I been this amused.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Every now and then..

...I do this to myself. Every now and then, I go back there and devour the trite.

Cut into little pieces, rinse-repeated in an infinite loop, the ordinariness of a story is executed in detail. And it's not just executed normally, it's clubbed to death. Then you round up the usual suspects who all go by the last name of Trite. Let me say that once more: TRITE.

Oh, and the drama in a bowl of Chocolate frosted sugar bombs.
Every single time, I put a skeptical spoonful in my mouth, and then I promptly start complaining about it. Ah, how does one resist the incredible urge to throw up.

I really should have no reason to complain. You would tell me, it's a choice I make. There are other people to read, other ideas to live by. I know. And yet, I don't know why I still do it.

I still do it, every single time. Every single time, I hop out of control. Rather, I hope out of control. Maybe it's the curiosity of knowing if something has changed. Maybe it's the insecurity of "Why can't I be like them?". Or the confidence of "Hell, I'll never go that low". The only reasonable explanation of why I go back is because oftentimes you see something really disgusting, and so really disgusting that you can't take your eyes off it.

No, something must be seriously wrong with my planetary alignment that makes me so masochistic. Marquis de Sade Saati.

Oh, don't ask what or who it is..

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The klutz and courage

The five hundredth time she tripped, he finally sneaked in a snicker or two. What could she do? The mysterious roadblock seemed to have cropped up from nowhere. Or was it those invisible cables?

Amidst her protests of "Jalega, jalega" (it will burn, it will burn), he joked, "Baby, you give an entirely different meaning to baby-proofing the house."

To say life hands out important lessons like people hand out advertising pamphlets on street would be a cliche one must avoid. More than that, at each iteration, every single definition one has ever learnt gets trashed. One constantly reinvents, redefines. What I am yet to figure is, as one starts paying attention to the little details, does the learning get more trivial, more ordinary? Or is it just that as the greatness of old tasks seems extremely easy one gets more time to fret over the inconsequential stuff?

Take for instance, courage.
At a certain point of time, it's no longer about whether after a nasty fall, you can get up and walk back home, blood streaming down your face. That becomes easy. As trivial as it may seem, it seems to be about whether you have the courage to go to work on Monday morning, and answer the gazillion questions about the scab.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The blue horizon

Sitting amidst the leaning tower of cartons, the house empty but for these boxes which have our life, our belongings carefully wrapped, I watch the memories of belongingness running amok.

We loved the view, loved the blinds.
Here we were, you and I, hoping that life would be a cake walk and discovering that switching the oven on causes the mains to trip.
Here we were, being careful as we clinked our precious crystal, wiring up the microphone, singing freedom on Fridays.
Here we were, yo-yo-ing in and out of faith and trust and invoking the Gods, as our washing machine gave up on us.
Here we were, you and I, curling in a corner waiting to grow up, taking decisions for our lives and our hearts, like which cooking oil is healthy.
Here we were, locking our knees, carrying the weight of the world and your prized Marshall half-stack across to the study.

Nothing was easy, as we, you and I, sharing the same space, got hooked to looking at the world outside.
We learnt and we learnt, not to cook when angry, and not to sing out loud at 3 am. And how to tell the sound of the others footsteps downstairs, on the broken tile below the window.
We gained pounds and lost our dollars and cents, never quite learning how to deal with change.

And now, though we are not reluctant participants to this change, there are some things which will perhaps never let us forget the first big challenge in this house - that our toothbrushes were of the same colour.

Unbeknown to me, you brought some of our mess over.
Unbeknown to you, I left some of our nostalgia behind.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Popping bubble wrap... about the only fun bit of a pack and move.

Moving usually is an exhausting process , both physically and emotionally. Pickling in your own sweat, nails chipped as you try and locate the damn end of the packing tape, you hit the great realization that the first thing to go inside the box was the pair of scissors. You think of how you could possibly manage to organize and compartmentalize life and times into little boxes? Not to mention the battles with the skeletons in the closet and monsters that lurk under the bed.

Stubbing your toe for the four hundredth time, you resist the urge to thwack someone on the head as he sneers at you. Really, how did you ever manage to have a godzillion cartons labeled "Books"?


Our environmentally conscious packer Gary recycles cartons. For packing "loose items", he gave us cartons which have been used by people before. Some of the labels are still stuck and it's much fun to observe how people pack. There is a chaotic packer whose labels go from Assorted-1 to Assorted-11. Two massive cartons are tagged "Daniel's wine and liquor", with FRAGILE written in red, and underlined. Then there are the rich - Third floor Second Room(a house with three floors in this country?), the secretive - "RM 1 - plecatbe", and the sublime - "Kids school bags + Oil". "Kitchen" says one in a kiddie scrawl - an 8- year old trying to help his parents perhaps. But the one that really made me smile was the little note which says, "Relax".

Unable to resist, I decided to be creative. So, if you ever encounter a carton with bits of masking tape which says "How fragile we are!", or "Blue suede shoes", you know who did it.

Friday, March 20, 2009


One is not qualified to write about Motorsport, but one can always mention a sport we love: Calvinball.

The only consistent rule of Calvinball is that it may never be played with the same rules twice, because Calvinball is against organized sport. You can always change rules on the fly, especially after it (the game, the season) has started.

No sport, really no sport, is less organized than Calvinball.

So with all these rule changes, maybe I'll switch to watching football, learning the offside rule is much easier.

Title credit: shub

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The first date

The evening had been fantastic. The friend who set them up had been right about how much they had in common, though to others they looked like a very odd couple. She a fair brown woman, he a tanned white man.

Coming to this Indian restaurant was his idea. A common friend had tipped him about her foodlove, and what better time to experiment with Indian food than with an Indian woman. She chose an assortment of curries, letting her fingers do the talking, while he struggled with the unpronounceable names. Soon after, he started melting into a puddle of sweat. She poked fun as she saw him through different stages of red, blushing coyly at his miserable state.

They walked back home on that quiet winter night. When he stopped at her doorstep, her heart did too. He had this look of urgency in his eyes, will she invite him in?
And she did. She was nervous. His stomach rumbled.
As soon as the lights were flicked on, with a moment of quiet hesitation, he pooped the question: "Can I use your bathroom?"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


She wishes she had listened to her mother when she told her not to believe that man.
Heartbroken now, she swears that she'll chase him down to the end of the earth and not rest till she pierces his heart with her sword. The heart, only the heart, and nothing else but the heart.

She stands facing him, eyes bleeding rage and bloodlust. They engage in a dramatic duel. Years of training have given her the agility which the world would be envious of. Reflexes, on the other hand, can't be acquired - one needs to be born with them.

He swings at his opponent, who barely dodges the blade before launching her own attack. She retreats a few steps before slashing forwards. Swiftly, she lunges and aims her sword at his chest. He bends backwards. She misses. The sword slices his gut instead.

Content, she skips down the winner's path. For though she has missed the bulls eye, the promise has been fulfilled.
Her mother always told her, the real way to the man's heart is through his stomach.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reviving Romance

To cure her headache from last night
he placed on her palm a pill-
the morning-after poem.

Monday, March 16, 2009

One of a hundredth of something.

Weekend was people filled and beer filled. No movies to boast of, no reviews unwritten. No new experiments except packing plates and a hundred little things to eat a meal by the poolside. And trying out a hundred shoes, a failed attempt at shoe shopping. And making a list of things to do for a pack and move. And chewing nails as a hundred distant others scream through the exciting Liverpool-ManU match. And witnessing a very boring meeting between two very old friends.

Distracted, one runs through a diminutive list of a hundred words in their head.
A hundred words run right back, causing a bit of a collision.

One intentionally hides their intensity behind the accidental frivolity of wordplay.

The clouds form the comforter, and one hides the dark black skies behind the new monday morning blues.
Just when one is about to find their comfort zone, it raineth, it thundereth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mojo Rising?

Written a few nights ago, this is mostly a placeholder for thoughts.
I, the Money Spinner (a.k.a. the corporate zombie), have done the unimaginable. Right in the middle of a recession, I have quit. No, I didn't get the pink slip. No, it wasn't a momentary lapse of reason. No, I don't have another job yet. But despite the work and perks and money being good, this job was draining me out. I decided that the prime of life was not worth wasting on the petty. There is only so much that achieving capitalist milestones can do for what we all ultimately want: happiness. Plus, I was tired of talking about it and not doing anything..

So we, the Mortified engineer-scientist-consultant, the Monochromatic non-photographer, the Moody photoshopper, the Modest writer of intense pieces, the Morose writer of humour, the Montage of uncertainty, the Motormouth, the Mockingword, the Motivator, the upwardly Mobile, the Model citizen, the Modern artist, the Morally deprave, the Movie lover, the Mover-and-shaker, the Moron, the Mortal, the Moribund -- all of us and Mo -- are happy that some steps have been taken which move us out of our comfort zone. We believe that even if we don't do anything, the ride on the Mobius strip would still be more worthwhile than the nothingness.

Of course the definition of nothingness changed right after MoneySpinner took the step, yet, we are happy that we have taken ownership to reclaim our life.

Now, we use the leftover bits of our daily courage limit to admit that we are a little scared, since we don't seem to have a plan.. MoneySpinner may take over in a few days, who knows?

Anyway, tonight we sleep, for tomorrow we will probably have to dream.
Let's see how the story unfolds..

Monday, February 23, 2009

Of Perversions and attention spans.

Dear Mr. Muthalik,

In the midst of Oscar frenzy, while everyone is busy celebrating and criticizing, ranting and revolting, I write to you. Not because I have anything worthwhile to communicate with you, but because I accidentally found this article online: 'Pink chaddi' campaign a perverted act.
I felt an incredible amount of pity for you, for no one really cares about what you have to say. Not any more.. Whether you sue the Consortium of pub going, loose and forward women or not, this story has exceeded it's shelf life. Unless you go get married, and then get involved in some other controversy thereof, your fifteen mins are over.


Not that I agree with your doctrine, but my inherent need to look at good in people makes me think hard if your intentions were noble and your execution was pathetic. And apart from airtime and pink underwear, you got nothing more. It actually is a lot if you think about it - Indian women shedding their inhibitions and underwear and being proud of it. Imagine a daughter asking her mother to send some on her behalf. But then again these days salwar kameez clad chammak challos are curling their toes in ecstasy.

Mr. Tharoor had written an article about the disappearance of the Sari, requesting Indian women not to stop wearing Saris. Needless to say, he got a lot of flak for it. His point was rather simple: India has always been firmly grounded in her culture, while making sufficient progress, an example of which is the Sari. It's perfectly normal for a woman on top to "power dress" in a Sari -- despite it being more revealing than western clothes. Japan, China and all other countries have almost entirely given up the traditional attire. You hardly ever see the cheongsam or the kimono except during weddings.

I assume your point was something similar, only you are not as erudite as Mr. Tharoor, and made a mess. But when you said "Prem ek pravah hai", you don't need a day to celebrate it - I kinda got where you were coming from.

You misunderstand our generation. We are not the pravah types, not with the kind of patience to let a thing develop and go with the flow before it strengthens and forms a web of roots.

We go from one high branch to the next. In quick, short leaps. We live because of our short attention spans, hopping from one such high to the next, hopping from one viral to the next, hopping from one controversy to the next, hopping from one bus to the next - for which Sari is the most inconvenient. Glued to our computers, we check for the latest trends, we barely raise our eyes from the keyboards, and when we do, we realize that there are occasionally ordinary people around us, who don't care about goings on in the world. We look down on such people. We claim we are not ordinary, because we are up to speed. Sometimes we are just too fast.

Today we talk about Oscars and the Slumdog win. Tomorrow it will be the filmfare, perhaps. The day after it will be the F1. Then there will be something else. Some days an Indian will win, some days he'll lose to others. Some days there will be a racism row. Sometimes Apple will release a new product. Some days there will be a new election. We will sit and talk about it. Do nothing but talk about it.

Everything will fit itself into the 15 min frame, and then much like the protagonist of that horrendous movie, we'll wipe everything out. We won't allow our memories the luxury of a fade out. We'll forget with a bang.

Hence, the flow business doesn't really work. Even love, like birthday and anniversary needs a day, a quickie -- it only needs those fifteen mins.

Not that this is going to change. A permanent revolution, a change of thought process is not likely to happen. So if you you can't beat them join them - write, tweet, communicate. If there is anything worthwhile in your thoughts, we'll understand. But make it quick, else, well, give someone else a chance for his fifteen mins.

I know I have said this a little too late, yet..


PS: Only 1500 Pink chaddis were received by Sri Ram Sena, the FB group has 51,831 members.