Sunday, December 31, 2006
But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost (Stopping by Woods On A Snowy Evening)
While you were hanging yourself on someone else's words
Dying to believe in what you heard,
I was staring straight, into the shining sun.
- Pink Floyd (Coming Back To Life)
And she said, We are all just prisoners here, of our own device...
...Relax, said the Nightman, We are programmed to receive.
You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave!
- The Eagles (Hotel California)
To seek, to find, and not to yield.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson
It was the only thing I ever really wanted. And that's the sin that can't be forgiven--that I hadn't done what I wanted. It feels so dirty and pointless and monstrous, as one feels about insanity, because there's no sense to it, no dignity, nothing but pain--and wasted pain....Katie, why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It's the hardest thing in the world--to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.
- Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead)
Disclaimer: End of the year puts me in the mood for a confessional.
The year is ending. Common conceptions require us to start afresh. Begin anew and learn from the misdeeds, the pain and the failures of the past twelve months. Be thankful for your joys and resolve to be a better person next year. I wonder what I have learned this year. What joys and what resolutions?
I am thankful for having a best friend when I needed her (and this role was essayed by two different people in different times of the year).
I am glad I started this blog.
I regret that I inflicted my own needs on those I should have thought of first.
I am glad I chose my career.
I am thankful for having so many friends who care.
I regret holding on when I should have let go.
I am glad for Pink Floyd. And Hotel California.
I am glad I read The Fountainhead.
I have realized that all things change.
There are several ways I could look back on the past year. But I don’t really understand what to make of it. I have learned so much that I don’t appreciate or comprehend.
I’ll sit alone tonight. I’ll think about this and ponder over other things. Have I been wrong all this time? I think too much, I dream too much. I have been sourly cynical, and then irrationally romantic. I want things to be simple, even if sad. There’s a lot to be sad for and a lot to celebrate. What I dislike most is not knowing whether to be happy or sad. I don’t like this confusion.
Its been such a long year. I’m tired.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
|You Are Bart Simpson|
Very misunderstood, most people just dismiss you as "trouble."
Little do they know that you're wise and well accomplished beyond your years.
You will be remembered for: starring in your own TV show and saving the town from a comet
Your life philosophy: "I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again!"
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Yesterday was Christmas. Well ok, of course you know that.
I went wandering hither and thither along
You could start off walking from Chowringhee towards Flury’s and not make any progress even after 10 minutes. The waves of people walking the other way simply took you in their flow. Atleast that’s what happens to me. I usually look at people. When I’m walking down a street, instead of buildings or the cars, I like to see the people going to work, or play in groups or alone. Its an observational musing sort of thing. I saw innocent happiness, and an unblemished contented joy in the throng. And that seeped into me.
I went to the New Market area, looking beautiful and decorous inspite of filth and dirt on the roads. I walked around Scoop, and saw it filled, all families inside. A band was playing popular music outside in an alley, with a large growing circle of people gathering around. The vocalist appropriately took on Phiriye Dao, and charged the crowd upto near madness. In no time, everyone was jumping up and down and singing in chorus.
The city was…resonating. Resonating with the sights and sounds of Christmas being celebrated in a primarily non-Christian city, solely for the joy of celebration and as an excuse to holiday and rejoice. Resonating with excited, laughing, squealing, happy voices absorbed in a million conversations or in wondrous amazement at the lights and decorations garlanding the pavements. I made my way through the throng in a happy warm daze.
I basked in a strange alien feeling the few minutes I spent on
Note (31/12/2006): But I bow to this tribute here.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
But the joie de vivre of return has already been accursed. I'm ill. I've been diseased. Not some easy to ignore or empathize with type of cold or cough or coma, but a proper debilitating and shaking-the-foundations-of-whatever kind of illness. The first semester at Manipal has slowly infected my system, and killed off the one force I always believed I would have in me.
How do I say it? Its embarassing. But I can't find a cure by myself. What am I to do? All inputs and valuable suggestions are called for. I need to find a cure, lest this become a permanent disability. I will be destroyed if it is. I know that for sure. People, what am I to do? I can't watch television! There it is! I said it! Why do you turn away in shock? Or is it revulsion? Please don't. Help me.
TV holds absolutely no charm for me anymore! I can't flick through channels at warp-speed, as I used to. I dont watch inane advertisements of people crying over house-painting. I dont laugh at the news. I dont watch the much broohaha-ed highlights of classic cricket matches. Am I cursed forever?
Sunday, December 10, 2006
This, however, was a thing that belonged to the negative side of both the categorizations. It was a thing I could not do, and it was a thing I didn’t like doing. But it was something that I needed to do. So to say, it needed being done. It wouldn’t do to not do it. I had to do it. It was imperative, vital and necessary. Even mandatory. And compulsory.
Like bitter medicine.
Which also describes the food.
See, here’s the thing. I’ve been at Manipal for 4 months. And I’ve been eating all my meals at the resident hostel mess. There are several good-quality private messes scattered here and there and everywhere, but till the 1st semester your resident mess is supposed to be quite adequate.
We’d been sticking to the mess like good boys. But one day, out we ventured. And after that nothing was the same anymore. When after a gap of 3 months, you finally again have rotis which bear actual resemblance to what a standard roti is supposed to look like, and dals which actually taste like something, its tough to not go back. We went again and again.
I’d think, how does our mess really run? The food is bad. Nothing looks like anything familiar. The taste of good food is supposed to come substantially from its aroma. The food there doesn’t smell of anything. The roti is nothing like one. Its big, rubbery and if you hold it up, flour comes down like as if its suddenly snowing. The service is negligible. Nobody is serving you, and no one caters to any personal food requests. Hmm…
So I concluded it runs on fear. It runs on a person’s primary concern for his own safety and self-respect. On that what can also be described as every human’s first instinct to want to keep his dignity and pride. It works simply on that one unfair premise - that a fresher does not want to be caught outside in initial ragging months in the midst of a gang of feeding seniors, however good the food.
And here’s the thing. We hadn’t left our purana mess membership. And we were being charged doubly now – the money we paid across the counter at the private messes, and the fixed bill at our mess. And I couldn’t do the necessary thing.
Everyone else did it soon enough. It was obvious and practical. It made no sense to continue this way. But I’m a tad emotional about such things. Days went by and I couldn’t do it. Then finally, I took Pratik along with me to push me from behind lest my legs give way before the journey be complete.
Basically, here’s the thing. We had to leave the mess, but we’d keep our breakfast option because it made sense to have that meal close by in the rush-rush morning time. As simple as that. And I couldn’t do it. As I walked down with Pratik, my mind went back to the day we took membership of this mess. I had come with my father. The mess-guy had calmly explained the process of mess fees and the facilities offered by the mess. He had smiled at me, and assured us of good quality healthy food. His eyes radiated kinship, trust and a fatherly affection in this new land I had come to. I had eaten there for 3 months, and been member for four. So many times I had smilingly asked him to make more khichdi, because it was a lot like Kolkata. So many times he had smilingly said it was not possible to make it more than once a week. So many times I had walked past him and given him a smile. I remembered all the weekly juices and chocolate shakes I had had, and all the special (i.e. edible) dishes they gave every other day for lunch. All these memories came flooding into my mind.
Mess-guy was an old man – short, pudgy, with large thick glasses that magnified his eyes. For some reason, mess-guy always seemed to be a brooding and emotional person to me, about to burst into tears any second now. And that’s why I couldn’t do it. How would I face him, I asked myself? How would I say I wanted to leave his mess and eat elsewhere? That I couldn’t eat the things they gave us under the guise of food? That, basically, his mess sucked and I’d had enough of it?
I imagined his face at that instant. The magnified eyes welling up with magnified tears. The slow but sure throbbing at his temples before his genial face contorted violently in a burst of deep emotion. Would it be like that? Or would he just face me silently, his silent eyes looking up at me with unspoken questions flung at my integrity and loyalty. He had received several cancellations before, and had probably learned to accept these repeated blows. Now I would be giving him one.
I reached his desk. I gulped and almost took half a step back, when Pratik gave me a final push forward.
Sir…I want to leave your mess and eat elsewhere from now on. I cant eat this..I mean..err…I just want to leave the mess. *pause* Oh, but I want to retain my breakfast membership.
*a seemingly long and pregnant pause as mess-guy looked up and realized someone was saying something*
Ok. What’s your registration number? Hmm..Alright. Done.
A bit anti-climactic I know. But it was nevertheless a very nerve-wracking period of my life. This ordeal ended, my life seems less knotted, if you know what I mean. I eat elsewhere in peace, without the constant feeling that a pair of very large eyes are staring at me accusingly from above.
Afterword: The group of ours has now been reduced to a nomadic life, roaming hither and thither for food at the different messes on a pay-and-eat basis. We belong to no one. A bit like lone rangers, we like to think of it as. It’s cool.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Heaven from hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail
A smile from a veil
Do you think you can tell?
Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts
Hot ashes for trees
Hot air for a cool breeze
Cold comfort for change
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
- Pink Floyd
I have no more words for now. What say you?
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The damn doctors gave 6-7 highly unjustified injections, despite much requesting and pleas for help from somebody, anybody! The hospital bed took him back to the Stone Ages, when people no doubt were used to sleeping on granite pillows with sharp pieces of rock poking them from all sides. Royal blood was even taken out at one time, in a low and duplicitous manner by a deceiving nurse.
Having been under strict medication and unwholesome food, his brain cells still require some time to come back to normal. Hence, no blogging-shlogging has been done for some time.
Mourners, pay your respects.
PS: The author is still in shock as to the way his later Root Canal Treatment was conducted. No comments could be extricated on that ordeal. One presumes that he will soon (metaphorically) open his mouth about that too, but until then we may rest with the minor knowledge that it was a horribly excruciating period of extreme torture executed by ruthless, if otherwise pretty, female dentists who think anaesthesia should be used only if you're trying to kill the damn guy too.
Friday, October 27, 2006
On a dark, desert highway, cool wind in my hair…
Our final school exams were over, and we were all now officially grown up. Some of us were headed for colleges in the
I’ve always been a bit of a coward at trying things, you know. Not in the conventional sense because I’m not afraid of mice or bullies or any of those things. Just afraid of trying new things, new habits and such like. Not very keen on venturing beyond ‘familiar territory’. That’s why I’ve never been out with my friends too often. I’ve always just been slightly afraid of landing myself in trouble. They booze, and they fag. Some of them have experimented. I’m better out of it, I’ve always thought to myself.
But now we were all drifting away - neighbours, friends and confidantes of several years. So I decided to break a few personal rules. I mean, if not with my best friends, then who with?
So we went out one night. A small pub in the outskirts was chosen for my initiation. Plenty of room anytime you go there, they said.
And I was thinking to myself, this could be heaven or this could be hell…
It was as they said, not too big and not too crowded. The lights were dimmed. The air was thick with the smoke, wafting lazily across, confident of its dominion of this empire. The smells of different liquors, all yet unidentifiable to me, blended in to concoct a heady and dizzying atmosphere within the four walls.
We walked over to the bar, and sat up on the stools; they were at their ease, while I sat gingerly, tingling within myself, muddled between my shivers of hesitation and the forced determination which wanted me to not back down yet again.
The bartender brought us our drinks. There was some furtive whispering amongst my friends. The bartender was called again, and asked to bring the ‘other stuff’ too.
Guys, don’t you think we’re going a bit too far now?
Relax bro. You’re with friends. We wont let anything happen to you.
Our drinks came back to us. I looked at it closely. It was colourless, almost like water. Except for the bubbles shooting up from the bottom, and the feel of a viscous presence that came from it.
We counted in unison to 3, and banged the glasses loudly together, laughing all the while. We drank it in one long shot.
Such a lovely place, such a lovely face…
The morning after was a daze. I couldn’t remember anything from the last night. It seemed good to not remember. Just the memory of happiness that I got from thinking of that night was sufficient. I wanted to go again.
I went back with friends again the next time. And just as before, I didn’t remember anything the day after. Nothing except the sure feeling of happiness. It was like my own periods of blissful amnesia. The next day would be a fresh battle, with the remains of the previous day wiped away in the night. There was no fretting, no need to think of studies or exams or peer pressure. And we were all together in it, weren’t we? For our own reasons or for the same.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.
We experimented later on. It was more of an adventure to do that, than just plain drinking. I’d heard the world ‘bliss’ innumerable times before in my life. Now I could say I knew what it meant. The world was a daze; its problems were insignificant. The world itself was insignificant. All that mattered was you. And you were blissful. Unaware, uncaring, and free. Time went on, with frequent visits turning into daily trips.
And still those voices are calling from far away. Wake you up in the middle of the night, just to hear them say…
I never knew I was this deep in it, till the night before the semester examinations. Like every other student who gave a damn, I’d been studying night and day for the past three weeks. I had not stepped outdoors for food, paid any social calls, or even gone to the pub. And the night before the examinations, I couldn’t sleep.
At first I thought it was the tension of the examinations, and I forced myself to sleeping. But the feeling of restlessness and constant nagging came back again and again night after night. It fought me constantly, catching me sometimes when I was off my guard. I’d quash it then indiscriminately, chiding myself for being unnecessarily nervous. Then suddenly one night I saw what it was. I needed my drink.
So I went back for it. As I sat on my now familiar stool, and ordered the ‘usual’, I felt a knot loosen in me. The same feeling of quiet peace and ignorant bliss returned, even stronger and better than I had expected it to be.
I woke up the next morning and above and over everything else, the one thought that involuntarily emerged to consume me said – I’m addicted. It took me a few moments to realize what I was saying. I was still half-asleep, and my head ached of course from the previous night. Then when it finally sunk in, I didn’t how to react. It can’t be, I thought. Not me. How can it be me? I don’t do this. And even if I am starting to get addicted to this, I can get out if I try. Its me after all. I don’t get into such things. It cant be me.
Bring your alibis…We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.
I forbid myself from going back. Every night, I fought the urge. I will stay clean henceforth, I said to myself. I bought books on it, and every lifestyle magazine. But I couldn’t read any of them. Drugs and alcohol kill you from the inside, they said. They consume you, leaving behind nothing but a mere remnant of what was once inside.
It made me feel unclean. How could I read it? I felt sick of myself. I felt repulsed whenever I looked at the mirror. I grew more and more restless every day. And surely I couldn’t tell anyone. How could I tell them? It disgusted me as it is. What would their reactions be like?
Stab it with their steely knives, but they just cant kill the beast…
Days went by, and I fell deeper in my darkness. I couldn’t quell the desire. How could I get out of it? What could I possibly do? I’d lost the energy to fight on. I couldn’t bear to face another day. There was only one solution I could see. My one path. To forget it all. To wake up the next day and not need to remember anything past. It was all I could do, to preserve my sanity. What else can I do?
I went back. I sat again in my old stool. The bartender came up to me. He brought with him my old order. I saw it in his eyes. He was just doing his job I could see, and he said nothing. I picked up my drink, and began to drain it. The familiar calm returned. I looked around me, at the others. They too came back everyday. Against their will, against their better selves, they came.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!
Note: The work above is of pure fiction. My tribute to the greatest song ever.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Weeks upon endless weeks of incessant classes have taken their toll on us freshies. And personally, I’ve never had to climb up any roads to get to class. Yet this I now do every morning with half my breakfast in one hand.
I’m sitting here and hoping to clear this mud of lethargy in a burst-fire of spontaneous words and sentences out of the top of my head. I shall write of boredom, of its many hidden perils, of cabbages and of kings. And I shall write of my redemption from my lethargy, just as I was about to succumb to it one day. Boredom is a very strange little state of mind. For myself, I've noticed I'm only bored when the weather is hot, humid and unbearable. The hot day, the sun beating me down with rays of heated light, seems to last forever. Time is ethereally slow. No wind blows, although leaves do a jig once in a while, when a breeze whisks by me through the window. Everything outside is tinted yellow in the sun. Its all horribly constant. You just look out of the window vacantly with the perennial feeling that nothing is going to change. This heat, this sun, these conditions, will last forever. That’s how it was that fateful day. I flash back.
I was bored, I was lethargic and I had been lying around doing nothing for an eternity. Just sending a holiday down the drain. I stared vacantly above me and at my dead arms and legs. I did nothing, and I wanted nothing. I was at peace, lying there in a cocooned state of mind; in an unemotional and senseless existence. I could lie like this forever, I thought. But after a while, the ceiling fan’s rotation started to get to me.
I reached out for my iPod. And Greenday came into my playlist. I got up and started to take a walk around the hostel. I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known. I listened to it as I walked the ‘lonely road’ from my room to the stairway on the other side of the corridor. Then back. My feet stepped in tandem with the bass guitar in the background, and I mused over how right this guy was, and how it’s only me and I walk alone. I even looked over my shoulder once in a while to check, but since I was half-indoors there really wasn’t much scope for a shadow to walk beside me. That somewhat spoilt the unreality in my head.
Anyway. On with my tale. I almost always lose myself in songs. U2’s music can completely overcome you if you just close your eyes and drown yourself in the sounds. I wouldn’t advise you to walk while you're doing this. It carries the risk of your hitting the side of the door to your room, left only slightly ajar by your gracious roommate as he ran for the bathroom. Allow my experience to shield you. I had a 5 second blackout. I tottered on my feet and rested myself against the wall. Then cursed him before lazily giving it up.
And that’s when the monsters of boredom – they who lurk unsuspected and camouflaged in guises of sudden sincerity and goodboyness - came for me.
I entered my room. I was still feeling lethargic and tired of everything. What could I do? No one else was in the room. So no one to talk to. What to do? I came across my desk. And on it was my EM book. Why does that name sound significant? What is it I had to do? The Engineering Mechanics assignment due next week? So?
I began to walk away from it, but once you make eye-contact with it, you cannot move. They get you like that. Should I do it now, when I have nothing else to do? Yes….maybe I should. Finish it early, so I can be on top of my studies. My senses were so numbed by the constant inactivity, that I didn’t shrink back in horror as I sat down on my chair. My hands came up slowly and began to stretch towards the EM book. Here I was, violating sacred MIT laws and doing an assignment before time, and I didn’t recoil in disgust! Its better than doing nothing. As I thought these blasphemies, the remnants of resilience inside me shuddered at the abominably low levels I had stooped to. But I couldn’t do anything else. A drowsy numbness pained my sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, or a double period of Environmental Studies I had gone through. I reached for the assignment.
In vivid slow motion, I closed in on my book. The door behind me burst open, and I turned reflexively. The bright light outside flooded in. I looked in awe as it bent around a thin silhouetted figure and I shrunk back from the vision I was witnessing. My hands came up to shield me from the brilliance. The figure moved forward.
“We’re playing CS again. Wanna join in?”
And so I was delivered from evil. But the EM Assignment lies in a corner of the room, forgotten yet not eliminated. I shall tackle it someday. For now, it waits silently and patiently, in the shadows, for its time.
Note: Sorry about the extraordinary delay. I will be a bit more regular henceforth.
Friday, August 04, 2006
We have been given a room. Three of us in here, well stocked with food supplies and mandatory furniture. Every morning, waking early, we see the sun rise from behind the hills in the distant horizon. The fog lifts gently, up over the thickly set trees. The sun puts the sky in an orange hue, the fog fluffs are white-grey and the trees are a deep, dense green - the scenery is breathtaking. We sit on our beds and look outside at the valley glistening in the morning sun, through our mosquito netted windows.
The day is spent mostly in learning to do our own laundry, maintaining our room and getting to know the new neighbours. We dont go out much. Occasionally, we must step out for gentle exercise and the fresh air. But never too often, or for too long. Outside is their territory. Humanity only reigns till the bounds of our settlement here.
I have heard tales - of horror, of fear, of shock and of awe - from fellow inmates. They are the survivors, the ones who returned. In hushed tones, they tell their stories. Some assume a false bravado, while most speak stoically as if struggling to rein their prevalent emotions. All look of them constantly glance around, fearfully, jumping at sudden noises. Its their eyes that tell the real tales - looking around furtively, as if in a constant attempt to watch everything at once.
As the evening sets in. we descend to our dinner shack below. Meals are all eaten in the false optimism and cheerfulness that a large group ensures. The bravado of boys who would be men now. Its the evenings that are most dangerous. None step out after dark. Perhaps a few in the late morning or the afternoon, but never the evening. This is their time. They prowl outside our settlement in packs, looking for strays from amongst us. They look at us with their glowing eyes, promising encounters soon. Very soon.
The nights are very quiet. We lie down to sleep in safety, but also in constant awareness of what awaits us outside, once classes begin. The distant howls of nocturnal creatures conjoin with their sounds of revelry. The sounds seem more ominous each time, as each day counts down to that day. I can almost see them now, pointing at me. The red eyes. And on those blood-stained lips the cry - "Oi! Freshies!!"
They come. They come.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
A cyber cafe isnt a very good place to blog from ya! The keys are very pudgy-pudgy, if you know wat I mean, for one thing. Typing is like on a typewriter.
Secondly, they play Himesh Reshammiya here! I cant take it anymore. I must go, or my ears will fry. Sensitive as they are, I can only tolerate so much of a decibel level.
But soon, I shall have a weapon of my own. They're going to give me a laptop. And WiFi!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The last week has been spent in frantically meeting friends. Time has suddenly past by very quickly. It seems just a while back when I knew had 2 weeks in hand. I was calm and collected about the whole deal of going. And then suddenly, here I am with two days. Meeting old friends and new, at different CCDs everyday, bidding goodbyes as nonchalantly and stoically as possible.
Its strange how each last meeting with different sets of friends has been uncannily similar in several aspects. We meet, and some one or the other is always late - once it was me, other times its been the other party. You talk over coffee about utter nonsense. Then its time to leave. Goodbyes are said a little too quickly, and you push off in your direction.
Its only after I move away that I become aware of the parting - that I shan't be meeting that person for a long time now. It makes the return journey very grave. Solemn. I'm morose, so to speak. Head bowed down slightly, I sit crumpled in my shuttle. That's not just because I'm in an off mood. Three others - blessed with supernatural powers of perspiration - sit in with me, spreading noxious fumes and consuming as much seat space as they can scrounge.
I transcend up, up and away from my physical discomfort. My mind involuntarily reflects, on my friends. It goes back to first encounters, meetings since, the phone conversations about absolutely nothing at all, the rendezvous that just ended. A drowsy numbness pains my sense... I permit myself a bodyshake, however much I can manage in my crumpled existence (a co-cheapskate passenger on one side, and the door-handle poking my thighs at the other side) . The odours of my fellow passengers, blending together, combine to make a potent camphor-substitute, bringing me back to life. I grin to myself, the cocky self assurance (that I'm going to be back in circulation here every now and then) comes surging and I feel the bitter taste of caffiene in my mouth, a last reminder of time spent with friends.
I will be gone in two days. Out of my home, out of my city, away from Gautam's Coffee, away from the escalators at Forum, the samosas at Tiwari's, Durga Pujo celebrations, the stone steps of my school building - away from it all.
All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...Damn. There's no one's door to stand outside, when the dawn is breaking in early morn, or a yawning Kolkata taxi-driver waiting at the porch. Lets not even go towards the hugs and kisses due to me.
Goodbye, Kolkata. I shall miss my city. I dont know exactly how much, as yet. But I shall know that very soon too. Tra la.
Next post from Manipal. It shall come off the new keys of my new laptop, kept neatly on my new study table, in my new dorm room...in my new home.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The ban has been lifted. My blog and I are free. [Well, things look okay from my ISP atleast.]
The Indian Government has released me, once intense scrutiny revealed that the only punching bag on this blog was in the title. And since punching bags do not come strictly under the head of Weapons of Mass Destruction, I dont constitute much of a threat to national security. QED. Practical and smart, thats our government. Doesn't take them too long to wake up.
Aaahh! Feels good to be up and about again.
*As in, the Government finally realized they were making a fool of themselves, so they sort of dropped the blanket ban by themselves. No real posters were torn in this tomfoolery by the Government.
**I was sleeping while it happened. So didnt exactly niklo from anywhere either.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Its been decided by the people in power that the best way to get back at SIMI is to take away what they like - their blogging. Hence, a blanket ban has been draped over blogger.com, geocities.com, blogs.com and typepad.com, the most popular blogging sites in India. In your face, Students' Islamic Movement of India!
Now, the thing is this. Government officials maintain that its not a blanket ban, and not all blogs are under the ban order. Its true that we have banned several blogs under the said domain names. Not all. Just the ones that are dangerous. Blogs are a means by which terrorists exchange their vital information nowadays. Because mobile phones, emailing and chatting are all so passe you know - not the 'in' thing. Its a question of national security! In one stroke, we have hit SIMI where it hurts most - their...umm..desire for writing. No! I mean, the foundation of their operations...the base...blogging. We win! (in chorus) We win! We win! Yay!
Obviously, this has raised an outcry across the nation. Curtailing freedom of speech and what not. You can read about it here, here and here. I won't repeat their words.
Personally, I feel a quiet exhilaration. A sort of warmth glowing in my body. My head also feels a little light, now that I think about it. No no, not a fever. Really, its not that. Its just.....hmm...threat to national security. My blog too. Me. Threat to national security. I. Wow!
In my so far wasted existence, I've been many things - outstanding student, average student, backbencher, wimp, hero, amateur sportsman, maker of excellent chaats and the occasional Maggi. But never have I been a threat to national security. Threat to my best friend's birthday cake before he has even cut it - yes maybe I've been that. But national security? Definitely no.
This is an epoch in my life. I am born again - renewed, afresh, straight to 18 yrs of age of course, but you get the gist. When I walk down the building, roam the streets, eat puchka at the roadside, I do so with a quiet confidence. I look around me and I see ordinary harmless people going about their lives. I smirk at them. They don't know I'm a threat to them.
I glare at little kids playing around. And they glare back. Some of them come from behind and kick me. I dont say anything. I get back up, laugh lightly and walk on, forgiving their ignorance. They don't know how dangerous I really am.
Soon, the Indian Government will grow up. They will learn that perhaps the best way to curb terrorism is to catch the terrorists, rather than to take away their soft toys. They may also realize that there are other ways to communicate large amounts of information to a large number of people - things such as email and telephones come to mind. And the ban shall be lifted.
My blog shall be normally accessible again. I will be free to go. One with the rest again. But the memory will last. I won't forget. I will remind myself, in my dark moods of low self esteem, or when the neighborhood kids hit me from the back, damn them. I was once a threat. They had to chain me down. They had to restrain me. I was banned once.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Thursday, July 13, 2006
When I walk into the gym, I look around me and I see all the different kinds of people there are in the world. No one type is left unrepresented. We are all different people from different backgrounds, with different problems in different lives, different professions, different workout schedules, different objectives and different differences. But what brings us together under the same roof, binds us together as one tribe, is our own hatred of and dissatisfaction with our shapes. We hate our paunch, we hate our spindly legs, we hate the flabby arms, and we hate the 40" inch waistlines. [Note: For the record, I have none of these. With the grace of my squash racquet, I'm quite alright physically. Just need some touching up. Hence.]
So what brought the wealthy businessman to the gym? What brought the "busy busy" housewife out from the kitchen? What made the teenage boy finally get off his PlayStation? What made the reed-thin girl get into her trackpants? The answer to these question is our look into human nature.
The rich, and well-fed businessman might offer several counterfeit causes for why he is here - the wife was nagging him, he always wanted to regain his former trim shape and now he had the time, his doctors were threatening to send him to a vet if he didnt. Tsk tsk...what are these if not excuses offered to push you off his case, and to help him laugh off his worries over himself.
Probe but a little into his life, and you see the truth he's hiding. The shame that reddens his face when he finds his laptop isnt ever on his lap, but more often on his belly. That is a reason. Ask him how long its been since he really saw his feet, and watch him lower his eyes abashed. That is another reason. Talk to him, and he will tell you how his 5 year old son bounced off his belly and fell down (injuring his elbow), when he tried to hug him yesterday. That is the reason.
He is here to regain his pride in himself, so that he can hug his son without endangering his life, so that he can shop at a regular mall instead of having a tailor design customized. May he succeed in his noble quest - the quest for size 36!
Why are so many hard-working housewives (or homemakers, if you must) seen at gyms nowadays? Are we finally breaking free of traditional bondages? Has it to do with upliftment of females in society? Is Bollywood a catalyst somehow? Really, what is it? This one took me a long time to figure out. Its a perplexing situation. I would not say that all the housewives are breaking away from traditions, that insist that they be one with their homes at all times or anything like that. Its not that.
A direct correlation can however be traced with Ekta Kapoor. More particularly, the rise of Ekta Kapoor as an assembly-line serial-maker (or killer you may say) can be correlated in a high and positive direction with the rise in number of housewives exercising at gyms per year. Look at the housewives on her shows. Each one of them in full bridal makeup at all times, and every single one with a perfect figure.
So, when the show takes a 20 year jump, they are seen on the screen as 50+ women who not only take good care of the resident Ba and the forever straying kids, but also seem to find time to do their daily push ups and stomach crunches. Won't that lead to extreme physical insecurity? The result is in front of us: Housewives are coming out in droves to the gyms, doing all the necessary exercises they can. They walk, they stretch, they lie down, they sit up again - the whole set. Then they rush back home to watch their idols take up arms to shoot their errant sons, back from mass-exile in Australia. Another bitter lesson learnt.
Just in case you don't believe me, here is some proof I'll toss in your face, dont mind. However much she works out, the exercising housewife will never take off her mangalsutra, because Tulsi never does. Or wear anything other than a salwar, because only the vamps dress like that. Never mind what common sense dictates. I keep expecting to see one of them in a sari one day, the pallu (like a hood) pulled up and all, a plate of puja ki samagri in her hands, keeping pace on the treadmill.
Similarly, the teenage boy and the 2-D girl have their own reasons to be at the gym. Everyone comes to the gym now. Its a bonhomous feeling inside - the mutual sharing of troubles, the silent confession of waist-sizes, the cheerful tales of not being able to reduce "this damned behind of mine". Its like the bar in Cheers - where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came.
Overweight ladies share their troubles about their hips, the male hippopotamuses (is it hippopotamii?) laze around in the backwaters discussing their backache - its a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. These are the real gym-users I realize, as I look upon them. The ones who are here every day with renewed hope, with fresh enthusiasm. They are the people who have to fight their bodies every day in the belief that it will be worth it one day. They share excitedly the news when they lose a kilo (giving out of sweets is strictly forbidden), and offer a listening ear and gentle encouragement whenever someone seems to be losing the faith. They cheer each other on to do a couple more minutes on the stepper, and try another round of stomach crunches.
They might reach their goals or they may not. Most of them don't. But that's not the point. Thats not why they are really here. The point of life is not in reaching the destination, its the journey. Its the time spent with fellow travellers, enjoying the road, doing the push ups and learning the lessons that really makes our life.
Once in a while, someone with a chiselled physique and rippling muscles walks in. The ice-cold stares send him packing within a week. Peace is fragile. One cannot allow it to be shattered thus.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
[Watch with sound on. Nice background music.]
The French make light of their man's antic. I urge you all to join in the spirit of The Zizou.
Head your boss,
Head your teacher,
Head your friend,
And head your foe.
Head your girl,
Head her boy,
Head the girl who wont let go.
Head the terrorists,
Head the Government,
Head every guy,
Whoever you meet.
Be a man,
Do the Zizou,
Heading takes the world to peace.
Disclaimer: I was drunk on lemonade, and under the influence of bread pakoras. Merci to all my readers.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
This is of course the Great Zidane Headbutt (also called The French Are Sour Losers) - which sent ripples of shock and pain throughout the footballing world (not to mention Materazzi's chest).
Since Zidane has not opened his mouth to the media yet, we can only speculate as to what it was that the Italian said to provoke Zidane so highly. The man's last football match, the opportunity to win the Cup for his country a second time, the prospect of winning the Golden Boot - everything hanging in the balance, and he goes and scores on Materazzi's chest.
Obviously the press are leaping to enormous conclusions, ranging from Materazzi abusing Zidane's mother, right up to Zidane being called a terrorist (because of his being a Muslim and having Arab origins). But all this is a little too serious I say. And it does not still justify such a horrendous act from a player of Zizou's calibre and experience.
Promise to keep it to yourself and I'll let you in on it. The truth is far simpler and a lot more human, so to speak. If you watch Materazzi's lips very carefully, you can see that he mouths "Navratna tel, thanda thanda cool cool" in Italian. Nothing serious at all. Just a man with fertile soil recommending hair growth for the arid landscape that is Zizou's head.
Zizou didnt take it too well, as we can see. As a result, a red card brought his glittering career to an ignonimous end. Tsk tsk. Navratna tel would have helped. If only he had heeded the advice instead of heading the advisor.
I defend my Italy. Les Blues les f*** you!
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Seriously, I rest my case. I agree with her totally.
I had gone into the movie expecting something phenomenal. But it isnt even worth me taking the effort to write up a full-length post.
A Bollywoodian script, complete with father-son moments (next sequel - Superman & Son), evil villain making a mockery of his name and evilness by cracking jokes and landing up in embarrassing situations, a hero with expressions as profound and emotional as my left foot - the movie stinks.
No one is even around to answer my unanswered questions about the movie. So I raise my hands upto God, look up at my ceiling fan and ask -
How does Superman hear things from Earth from the vacuum of outer space?
How does his elaborate disguise, comprising geeky glasses (one pair), continue to hide his secret identity from the paranoid US media?
Is it necessary for all superheroes to be fashion disasters - Superman wears blue-red combo inside out, Spiderman does pretty much the same, Batman wears black cape and lycra stuff, and Wonderwoman wears hardly anything but that too strange (albeit exciting)?
I wont say anymore. It makes me unwell to speak of it. Watch it for yourself, because no amount of criticism, from anyone, could overcome the curiosity for a Superman movie after all these years. But afterwards, dont tell me I didnt warn you.
Friday, June 30, 2006
As you will gather, if you take the trouble of scrolling down for a bit, I had left for Manipal. Now, as you will have also gathered from the above paragraph, I have come back. With that summarized, I shall elaborate. I had given the UGET exam for Manipal Institute of Technology. Results came out and my rank turned out 1844. Which means that 1843 people did better than me. Or, since the glass can also be called half full, I did better than about 50000 to 60000 people who also sat for the exam all over India.
Now the Manipal people sent me reams of letters, beseeching me to come for the counselling on the 28th of June and could they send me a chartered flight if I was too busy otherwise to bother? Flattered by their kind words, I decided to go to Manipal and see how things lay. After all, if one has to do a graduation, one could very well do an engineering one. So one went to Manipal for the counselling. What one saw there was truly impressive. It rained almost incessantly but in short spurts - exactly when one thought one was out of it, would come another shower right at one; the way we used to splash water on each other in swimming pools, remember? That made sightseeing a very difficult task for one (which is basically me in case you're still not sure) who was interested in knowing the place he was going to stay in for 4 years.
Its not easy to find places of great natural beauty to study in, with places like Bangalore and New Delhi becoming more and more polluted and concreted, Kolkata staying political as always, and everywhere else to difficult for the ordinary fun-loving soul to get into. At Manipal, the pollution level must have been like zero. The university campus building looked just the way they showed it in the brochure, which alone is a tough standard for most colleges to live upto. The whole region is as green and peaceful as any yet to be exploited hilltop can be, which it is. The roads were clean, the sidewalks actually only sparingly pedestrianated, the vehicles rare and the atmosphere ideal for student life.
The university campus building was the one I went to for my counselling. Now, the counselling. I'm sure all of you saw the Indian Idol finale episode this time round? Also, all the times India needs a ridiculously low score to achieve against a substandard bowling attack? And surely you have seen that CID mystery episode about the man with the missing toenail, in which the butler turns out to be the one who buried the nailcutter in the flowerpot? Not that one? Never mind, since my point is - how many of you have sat through a truly gripping and mentally straining experience? As in, how many of you have been through an engineering college counselling session? Its definitely the most nerve wracking time I ever had.
Why NDTV wastes time covering college admissions in New Delhi, which are so straightforward and predictable, I fail to understand. Take a look at this place. Once the Admissions Director has finished explaining the procedure for counselling (the rules of the game that is) , the match starts. One by one the different ranks are called up. You come forward and tell the man what engineering stream you want, submit the documents, he wrenches the demand draft out of your clasp and you walk out with a grin on your face. He also grins, and fondles the draft lovingly. Sounds simple enough? But look at this from the point of the view of the hundreds of students looking on. On a projector screen, you have the names of the different streams (Computer Science, Mechanical, Electronics & Comm, Printing, Chemical etc) and as students come up and pick one, the number of available seats reduces beside the stream chosen. So, every moment sitting is spent in craning your neck to see your choice of stream slowly dwindling away. In front of your eyes, and you cannot do a thing. Just watch and hope and gulp. And then repeat this over and over again.
As a result of all this drama, a student managing to scrape into his preferred stream is not unlike a fat, overweight striker finally managing to score for his team that does not need him and still keeps him why I just dont understand. Understandibly overjubilant. One chap went weak in the knees just as him name was called up, and dropped all his documents on the floor. Another one's father conjured up a coconut from where I dont know and insisted on smashing it on the floor when his son was taken in. Magnanimously, the admissions director asked the guards to take the man out the front door, where he was permitted to smash all the coconuts (and even his damned head) he pleased.
I personally didnt need to wait for too long, because counselling was being held for ranks 1801 to 2150, and I was early on at 1844. So I wasnt too perturbed before my turn came up. And anyway, I have nerves of reinforced titanium and the heart of a lion (which I keep in my fridge). But there is an ecstacy you feel when you have selected your stream and realize that you're now a college student proper, and this ecstacy takes you over. My father and I completed all the formalities of submitting documents, filling up additional admission forms, and signing this and that and this and that. Relieved at the end of it, we took our victory lap around the building, singing victory chants, before graciously humouring the guards as they showed us to the exit.
My course (Chemical Engineering, unless I am offered a better choice at 2nd counselling in August) at Manipal starts from the 1st of August and its time to start preparing for college. Very soon I shall be blogging from there, instead of dear old Calcutta. I cant wait to get started with college life finally. Not to mention hostels and eating in a mess and things like that. My parents have already dampened the excitement of independent living, however, by pointing out that it entails tasks such as washing one's own inner clothing and keeping a room clean all by yourself.
I win some, I lose some.
I feel bad that I misguided so many of you dimwits with the title of this post. I will also do something about the movie too, which incidentally has the same name as this blog spot, sometime soon. So, dont worry. Just wait. And keep watching this space.
The space above I mean. Thats where it will come. Soon.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Now that I've managed to just about raise your curiosity to its optimal level, without going so far as to let you get distracted by the links on the right column here, or the itch in your left toenail, I'll let you in on it.
Steel yourselves, my faithful vassals, my trusted serfs. I'm going to Manipal Institute of Technology for my admission counselling tomorrow. Its such a complicated route to get there, that by the time I do my business and come back, its going to become 4 days! So there you have it. You're all going to have to do without me for a while. I'm leaving on a jetplane, true true, but very soon I will be back again.
So dont cry, little one. There There. Its going to be okay. There there. There there. When the fields are white with daisies, I'll return.
Bid me goodbye, and good luck.
PS: For light entertainment meanwhile, you could go here. Or not.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
This summer. His era is coming. The son is back. And he has serious fashion issues. Errr...no wait, thats not part of it. It should be you might say. But you shouldn't.
Krrish is releasing today. The sequel to Rakesh Roshan's previous Hrithik starrer Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish is the story of the son of that movie's Hrithik, also a Hrithik. You're confused. Its Bollywood you see. Not only do sons inherit their father's good values, integrity, police-uniform etc but they are also very likely to inherit the exact facial features. This time, Hrithik v.2 i.e. Krrishna, is not only getting the unmatchable integrity, honesty, lisp and physical features of his father Rohit (from Koi Mil Gaya), he is also inheriting super powers. Full package inheritance deal.
This is the background of it. Jadoo, the turqoise-blue alien thing, had blessed Rohit with superpowers. But since Rohit was such a dunderhead before, the best those superpowers could do was make him normal. These powers have been now passed onto his son, Krrishna. Meanwhile Rohit, in accordance with family tradition, proceeds to die in a car accident with wife Preity Zinta.
Now, as things stand, the useless son wants to be a fashion designer. He lives with Rekha as grandmom, so you needn't look too far to see the reason behind this. He designs himself really really baggy pants-like things. And a bit of a shirt, but with no attached accessories you know - like buttons or collar. He basically wants to be free. So everything is open. Shirt's open so he can feel the breeze against his chest. Pants are baggy so he can feel the breeze against his never mind what. I like to think of this as a family blog. Just shake your head and let us start again. He is basically content jumping around from hill to hill, running faster than the wind, and dancing weirder than Prabhu Deva.
Enter Priyanka Chopra. She, as described by the official Krrish website (I would give the link, but then its funnier than my post could ever be so I wont), is pretty and pert, she's your typical big city girl, who encounters a young man the likes of whom she has never seen. But what you dont know is that she has a hidden agendum. She dances around with him just as silly as he does it. Infact, her smile is perhaps even more irritating than his, luring our casual viewer into shutting his mind and buckling down for another typical Bollywood masala flick, with extended action scenes.
But this is the twist! Here is the unforeseen factor! Here is the ace that Rakesh Roshan has hidden up his sleeve! This is the, you get the point dont you? I've run out of stuff. I'm sure Navjot Sidhu could have carried on for a couple of more minutes, but I'm no good.
Anyway, shake your head again. I keep drifting off. I was saying, that Priyanka Chopra ain't no ordinary lass. You think she won Miss World just like that? Priyanka Chopra is the revelation of the movie - the alien connection. Lo and behold! The daughter of Jaadoo! Note similarities below.
The smile, the eyes, the hands, the expression of vacant mindlessness - matching matching. Now do you believe? The greatest cover-up in movie history, since Bipasha Basu decided to take up serious acting. The above pictures prove without doubt the nature of Jadoo and Priyanka's relationship. Now now, before you go about saying "Jadoo you naughty alien you!" or anything of that order, allow me to clarify.
Jadoo, ladies and gentlemen, was basically a businessman. Let not his boytoy image delude you into believing the nonsense about him actually enjoying the company of 10 year old kids and a mentally-challenged 6 footer. A supernaturally smart alien, Jadoo knew that he had infinitely greater chances of siring a child in celebrity-crazed Earth than back on his home-planet. Rather than face competition from taller, better-looking, grammatically correct Jadoos back home, he chose to conquer a field (i.e planet) filled with beautiful women and no other Jadoos around. Smart. Very smart. Result: Priyanka.
Don't think I'm just saying this. I have proof. I have cold hard facts. The inevitable, undeniable truth. I'll give it later sometime though. Not in the mood now.
As I was saying, Priyanka Chopra is Jadoo's daughter from his ill-gotten relations with someone. Priyanka does not tell Krrish of her alien lineage of course. Leads to all sorts of unnecessary questions. He falls in love with her, because of their obviously similar interests in strange dancing. She goes off to Singapore. And he follows her there.
Suddenly in a new place filled with skyscrapers and concrete sidewalks, Krrishna is frightened and terrified. But above these emotions, the prevalent emotion is the joy in his heart when he discovers new fashion over and above that in his village. Ab kaun rokega meri muskaan! Gifting his baggy clothing to the local circus, which proceeds to make a couple of tents out of the pants, he goes on a designing spree, and makes this.
Meanwhile Naseeruddin Shah wants to take over the world. Who? What? Where the fuck, you ask? This is the next twist of the movie. Taking the film to unprecedented creative storytelling heights, Rakesh Roshan sends Hollywood crying home to mummy with this superbly original storyline.
Naseeruddin Shah plays a scientist living in Singapore. Having spent long years finding ways to pull up the eyelids and make Singaporeans' eyes slightly bigger, he gives that up as a bad job and embarks on his next venture - world domination. And only man can stop him. Who who who, you ask? Guess guess I say. We have no clue! you say. Pause for effect. Its our boy Krrishna!
Already having made a laughing stock for himself in the Singapore fashion industry, Krrishna (now going by the name of Krrish, for business purposes) decides to switch careers and thwart the mad scientist's plans. This way he can win Priyanka's heart and fly away back to his village, where no one made fun of his pants. He takes his trusted mask, picked off the ground in a circus, and puts on black cape and all, and practises flying around.
What follows is scene-after-scene of dazzling sfx as Krrish takes 30 feet leaps in the air and jumps on car-bonnets to achieve some hidden purpose out of the grasp of our puny minds. As Rakesh Roshan proudly claims in interviews these days, Hrithik suffered a hamstring, broke a thumb (but thats okay because he has a spare) and a toe during the strenous training and shooting of the movie. Such was his dedication to Daddy's project, he even ended up singing his hair during shooting, when he was running through a fire to escape Priyanka Chopra's bickering.
The movie closes with Priyanka and Hrithik's marriage, with Hrithik Sr. and Jadoo (now samdhis) looking down from up in heaven giving aashirwad. The marriage, symbolising a landmark moment in interplanetary bilateral relations, is attended by delegates from both the planets. For conveniencing travel for both the baraats, ceremonies are held on the Moon.
Films such as this one are rarely made in the typical Bollywood thoroughfare. Have we had a superhero ever before? Sure, we've had endless megalomaniacs trying to take over the world (names such as Mogambo, Shakaal and Doctor Dang spring to mind) before, but how many of them were evil scientists based in Singapore? Singapore was chosen after Rakesh Roshan painstakingly looked over hundreds of travel brochures - unmatchable locales, close proximity to India, cheap airfare (provided you book tickets 2 months in advance) and a tourism industry all too willing to advertise itself through the film.
Krrish has the potential to become a hit sequel series. Itself lifted from Spiderman, there are now so many Hollywood superhero movies waiting to be picked up. Batman, Superman, Electra, Wolverine, Daredevil, Captain Planet are just waiting to be emulated in the form of Krrish sequels the title of whom (might I suggest) could be Krrish Forever, Krrish Leaves, Krrish Returns, Krrish Dies and Krrish & Son. We are witnessing the start of an epic.
Note: Any relation to any person living, dying or dead is purely sarcastic and intentionally rude. Come and get me.
Another Note: A few comments wouldnt hurt.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Speaking of inanimate God's creations playing mindgames with innocent people for sadistic pleasures, electricity I'm quite sure, has a sixth sense. Its always there in the winters, when you hardly need the fan or anything. But come summer, and it starts acting big and all. It flickers, it takes leave from work, it pretends to faint and just as you get up concernedly to check what the damn matter is, it comes back with a smug grin. The problem is, in these days of incessant boredom and lack-in-life, the Internet is all I have. When I'm not having my iPod moments of course. So when the electricity goes flicker-flicker, it sends my broadband connection crying home to its mommy. Its gone if the light flickers for a millisecond even, and only comes back after endless raging, cajoling and hand-folding in front of my modem.
Thats what makes me think even electrical/electronic appliances have a sixth sense. They know exactly when you need them, and start getting uppish with you. Like the other day, when my father said he wanted a printout of some airline tickets. I tried to stop him as he instructed me on how to go about it, but it was too late. He said it right there, in front of my printer, who was listening in obviously. Result: It took me a day and a half to get those prints. An inexplicable, mysterious illness had come upon it. My next witness, my modem. Whenever I switch on my computer, my modem responds immediately, connecting with whatever host computer its supposed to do, and giving me high-speed connectivity. But if I switch on the computer with the intention of checking my ISC marks, or taking a quick check of my inbox, its suddenly too busy to listen to me. I beg and I plead, I rage and I pacify, but its no use. It comes on by itself exactly 5 minutes after I pipe down and not a minute less.
My cellphone, the one device I have always expected complete obedience and loyalty from, always gives me bhao and nakhra these days. I'm lying on my bed at midnight and chatting on the phone, like every good boy does, and Poof! My network is gone. Just like that. I call again, but that call also gets disconnected within 2-3 minutes. And here is where the supernatural part really shows its colours, you know. When the breeze blows in through the window, the network goes. When the wind blows out, the network comes back. When I'm on my bed, my right ear does not get network. Its only my left ear that gets some degree of reliable network coverage. And thats the conspiracy against me. My left isnt my stronger hand and keeping the phone against my ear is a pain. Also, my left ear doesnt do phonecalls that good either. [No, thats not weird. Case in point: Caesar who said to Brutus one day, while they were strolling through the streets of Rome followed by a chidden mass of Romans - "What you saying man? Speak in my right ear, the left one doesnt have good reception and all."]
My iPod to date is the only truly reliable electronic gadget I own. It gets me away from constantly feeling the summer. I love it for this. Its sleek, dark and sexy, and drains me of all my tension. I want a girlfriend like this later. No fretting, no past issues, no problems whatsoever. As yet.
I'm typing this into my computer, and my iPod is plugged into my ears. So it could well have access to my brainwaves as I type this. Or the computer could relay this text-matter to it. I'm helpless. I don't know what I can do. I've tried it all. I've practised meditation, so that I can keep my mind a furious blank as I kneel down to switch on the computer. I school my mind into nothingness, before I touch the printer or the refrigerator. My hands tremble as I pick up my iPod. Will it remain mine? Or will the incessant socialistic pressure of my other electronic matter coax it into betrayal and high treason? Its mine now. I know. But for how long?
Summer boredom. It does this to me.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
The World Cup must be such a huge stage for the smaller countries. I mean, teams like Ivory Coast, Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia dont really expect to qualify till the next round, but are probably happy with making the most of the 1st round games. Looking at teams from such poor countries, my cousins and I were discussing the awe they must feel at playing on such a big stage. Successfully tackling Ronaldinho, getting a goal past Petr Cech - its got to be the highlight of your life if you are minnows of the footballing world.
All players exchange jerseys after the match is over. As a sign of mutual respect, brotherhood and disregard for personal hygiene. Got me thinking - How much do the England team jerseys cost? The jersey worn by Gerrard as he scored that blinder of a goal against Trinidad & Tobago, for example. As it is, England team jerseys are made of this special material and that innovative technology. Special fibres and deo-secreting pockets in the inner layers and all. You know, all the stuff they do to make the best jersey for their best team. So, after the match, a T&T player has a shot to take that jersey. You know they dont care for their own rags. They have their eyes set on firangi maal. Look at the way Dwight Yorke openly treats T&T equipment, I mean!
Hmmm....tsk tsk. Did you notice the way the Trinidad players suddenly came to life after the final whistle? Rushed to get at Beckham and Gerrard before they were taken by a rival from their team. What kind of strategy can a coach from T&T discuss with his players against juggernauts like England anyway?
"Ok boys. Its first come first serve. No snatching or fighting amongst yourselves. Shaka, you stay close to Beckham. Don't - DO NOT - let him get away from you...once the match ends. And Yorke gets the Gerrard jersey.
Ok with everyone? Go boys go!! With 11 jerseys, we make millions back home! Cigars for everyone!!"
What happened next was for all to see. Within seconds of the final whistle, Shaka Hislop and gang had swiftly undressed Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard and Crouch before these champions knew what was happening. One minute they were celebrating Gerrard's goal, and then suddenly everything went black as their jerseys were being pulled out by a trained and efficient Trinidadian lot. The others in their group being not-so-big teams Sweden and Paraguay, Trinidad's World Cup haul had to be restricted to the England team. So they made the most of it. Rumor has it that the T&T players even called out to the English substitutes to come join in the spirit of intercontinental brotherhood and charity, before Sven Goran Erikkson stepped in. He then stepped out, without his coat.
Mind you, its not just Trinidad & Tobago I'm talking about. There are others in on this clandestine money-spinning venture. Teams like Ivory Coast shamelessly chasing after Nistelrooy's (Netherlands) and Hernan Crespo's (Argentina) things. Ghana has made sure Totti and Nesta dont run off the field just like that. Togo is keenly eyeing French jerseys containing Zidane and Henry.
There's lots more happening in the World Cup for sure. Aside from the games and stuff. I'll fill you in. More on it later...
But before parting, I would like to show you this snap of foreboding evil. Didier Drogba, Greedy Pig #1, marks his prey, the innocent Ruud van Nistelrooy after their game. One can only imagine the strength of the death-grip with which the Dutch is being held at the moment, as Drogba's talons move towards taking off his jersey. It is said that the photographer, overcome with depressive emotions, committed suicide minutes after clicking this photograph by consistently poking a sharp piece of ivory against his chest.
PS: All pictures should be seen in full size to appreciate the depth of their messages. Original pictures are courtesy the Official FIFA World Cup website.
Friday, June 09, 2006
What matters is that people come. So, I installed this nifty software to tell me that. It tracks how many people come here, and where from they come. Thats the really confusing, baffling, and thoroughly surprising thing here. People come here from the craziest of ways! Feels sort of cool too, to see my blog come up in such big big search engines now.
The following are search results on different engines which blurt out my blog in the very bloody first page (woohoo!) of the results. The queries entered are a little eyebrow-raising though. Here they stand, for they can do no other, in order of hilarity:
5. "so you had a bad day you takin one down you sing a sad song just to turn it around" (Yahoo) - People actually search this stuff on the net. I'd feel so stupid entering all this on a search engine, bothering the portals of Yahoo or Google with such vile, base trash. Sort of reduces my faith and feeling of brotherhood for my fellow man. Maybe it was a woman. That would explain it.
4. "punching bag stands" (Yahoo) - Ok, so this wasnt exactly anyone's quest for knowledge or enlightenment. Just some guy looking for a punching bag stand. Which is weird, because I thought punching bags are supposed to be kept hanging from the ceiling. But anyway, he too entered my blog from there, expecting whatever. I stand by him. May he find his stand somewhere.
3. "hi5 yuvraj singh" (Google) - Some idiot idolising girl no doubt. What else should I say? She, however, also entered my blog from there. I forgive her adolescent fancies.
2. "plagiarism harvard india abroad" (CNN) - This is one I'm really proud of. CNN search results after all. Now, so many people must have blogged on Kaavya Copycatwoman no doubt. I've read so many blogs on it myself. But it was my blog (mine, I tell you!!) that made to page one here.
1. "mobbing stalking in singapore" (Yahoo) - Hmm...I've never blogged about Singapore, or ever mentioned mobbing. It was of stalking once, thats all, that I wrote on one post. But here I am, page one of Yahoo again.
A number of these results are a little dated now. So, if you try them, my page could have been relegated to the 3rd or 4th page or something. Maybe it wont be there at all. But it was once. And thats the reason for my glowing smile these days.
Friday, June 02, 2006
In Kolkata, I usually always travel hither and thither by public transport. Not having a car to fulfil my whims and fancies, all my travelling is dependent on buses and the illegal yet practical "shuttles" (share-cabs).
The hot weather, coupled with high humidity, makes Kolkata a blazing hot and uncomfortable steam-bath on most afternoons. Public transport seems daunting and off-putting to say the least. However, there is something about them in Kolkata, that is strangely endearing to me. If you're a regular bus-passenger too, you will know what I mean.
Conductors speak in their own language. At every stop, the sheer velocity at which they rattle off the names of the stops ahead is mindnumbing. The words Burrabazar, Park Circus, Jadavpur, Esplanade and so on are blended together in a unique advertisement style. You listen to the rap, and strain your ears to catch the name of the place you want to go. In a cycle of 5 seconds each, a competent bus-conductor can spout out the names of all the stops the bus is going to. And the litany of locations repeats itself endlessly until the bus is crammed up or he runs out of breath. The bus-conductor thinks of himself as a bit of a hero in a film I think, because he always does his acrobatics whenever the bus stops, hanging from the bar above the door, calling out to everyone in sight. When the bus starts off, he doesn't need to hold onto a bar or support. He stands there grimly and nonchalantly, a brave man in the midst of a turmoil of sliding and slipping passengers holding on for dear life. Bus-drivers, on the other hand, are the most irritated of all sub-species of humanity. Never have I seen a bus-driver who didnt have a frown on his face, and an irritated look in his eyes. Kolkata buses tend to race each other on the road, as many pedestrians have noticed only too closely, but I wouldn't blame the drivers for it. Driving all day, in the city heat, going over the same route all the time, one must give them some largesse to pursue their little sports. What more entertainment does the guy have all day? His day's joy lies in outdoing Bus No. 37A, or 43B for that matter, in a drag race to the next traffic light.
A bus, is also the best place to hear the different voices of the city. You cannot be bored on a Kolkata bus, if its even decently occupied. In one corner, you will have a couple having a mild tiff over the guy's dooshtu habits, or the girl's chenchamechi (which by the way, means I think a mix of nakhra and overbearing attitude - symptoms evident in all girls). They dont bother to speak too softly or anything. Lost in their world, they speak quite normally with each other, passing out their golden secrets and private moments to the rest of the passengers, who are only to eager for a distraction from the beastly weather and pollution. Somewhere else, you would have someone or the other talking loudly into a cellphone, trying to explain himself to his wife or unwinding his tensions on a lowly employee. So, if you're alone and bored in a bus, a pleasant time can be had listening to his rantings or subdued mumbles of self-redemption.
Crowds are most interesting in the evenings, when large numbers of office employees are treading homewards. Treading metaphorically that is, because they are on a bus. You have female co-workers going home together, giggling over something or other, in their annoying way. Dont know why but woman giggling make me want to sometimes do violent things. But I have thankfully had a good upbringing. I restrain myself. I hold back. I content myself with gripping the bars very very tightly. A nice thing about the Bengali women though is that their prattle, for some reason, sounds pleasing to the ear. I wonder if you've had occasion to hear two, or possibly three, Bengali women talking amongst themselves in Bengali. They have this really fast manner of emotional and excited speaking, and animated gesturing which interspersed with the light laughter, combines to make a very soothing melody to a weary mind. You cant make out what they're saying really, they adjust their vocal speeds so, but it sounds nice all the same.
This one time, I was coming back home in rush hour traffic, standing in the bus. My bus was filled with home-bound office-workers, carrying the black briefcases and handbags that mark their tribe. Everyone sitting or standing quite contentedly and quietly. As the bus reached a red light, another car next to the bus screeched loudly to a halt, mildly hitting a taxi in front. The two drivers got out to begin the ritual shouting match, as the light turned green and my bus ambled forward.
Now, the bus is off, and the passengers are suddenly kicked alive. It starts off with one old man commenting loudly on the modern-day traffic hazards. I cant recall exactly what he said, but it earned nods from several people around him. Another man then made a point about the youths in the streets these days, and how they risk their own lives as well as the lives of pedestrians. He earned still more nods. These views were further supported by another mid-thirties gentleman who, gesturing with his umbrella, argued strongly about the accidents caused by the frequent traffic snarls. Slowly slowly, other men in the bus turned around and started listening in. Someone would make one point and someone else would counter him. Within a few minutes, the whole bus was involved in the debate. People began to clammer for their chance to speak, and would then begin to regale this sudden audience with their own experiences with rowdy drivers, corrupt traffic policemen, youth on bikes, youth in cars, youth on foot and youth on bicycles. I tried to hide myself behind a old lady, lest someone point at me ("There's one of them!!" or "Oi dekho! Oi chhele!!") and charge me with flames and pitchforks. It continued in the same vein, with people laughing at the speaker's anecdotes or offering condolences and sympathy. Like war veterans, shaking their heads solemnly as if they could empathise with the other soldier's miseries.
No one here knew the other person. They werent even really speaking to each other. They were just looking in front, or at their briefcases, or at the opposite window and talking as if to themselves. But everyone wanted to speak, and get a moment to bask in the glory of public oration. As the stops ahead came up, the people got off slowly one by one. They walked out a little straighter and with a smile of contentment on their faces. The debate ended in 10 odd minutes itself, as the crowd thinned out. I, still just standing there, felt like an alien observer watching over the activities in a different world, or like an explorer as he watches from afar the species he is studying. The subjects of my observations, they were all Bengalis. And standing there, I began to think on what I had just witnessed.
A seemingly innocuous and amusing incident it was. But to me it reflected so much more. Bengal, the land of free speech, where the revolution against the British truly began. Where the educated middle-class once could raise its voice against oppression and tyranny, now they can only watch on mutely as the political games are played every once in a while. It seems the desire to have that pulpit still resides in the heart of the people of Bengal. How often, I wondered, do these people, ordinary middle-class 9-to-5 employees, get the opportunity to speak their mind, to vent their feelings and receive the accolades of an agreeable audience. In the daily grind of their lives, such opportunities could only be wished for and never found. The people in the bus didnt know each other, not even the names of the people they were addressing. They all seemed satisfied and satiated, having unwinded their souls, held an audience, however meagre, and fulfilled that childhood, inherited fascination for the power of the pulpit.
Buses in Kolkata are never short of surprises. They always have something to offer. Be it an insight into the minds of so many 'ordinary' normal people, a pleasant ride listening in on the lives of others, or even the opportunity to watch the passengers beat the side of the bus if its going to slow [thus relaying their anger and frustration to the driver], a sight that is surely unique to Kolkatans. Our buses are filled with life and fraught with excitement - food for the introspective as well as the fun-loving. If you only care to look.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
I was referred to it from the latest post on YouthCurry. You should check it out if you're looking for excerpts of the interview. However, I personally think the entire interview is well worth a read. Its infuriating when you read the words of this top minister when he talks of trading our future for his votes, as well as very educative and informative when it comes to the entire ruckus being made about reservations. You can see what an almighty waste of good oxygen someone like Arjun Singh is. You can marvel at Karan Thapar's resilience, for sticking to his facts and penetrating questions, and also his extraordinary self-restraint, for not hitting Arjun Singh on the head with a bat [which is something I swear I would have done at the time!].
My favourite portions of the interview:
Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development, believe that reservations is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.
Karan Thapar: The right way?
Arjun Singh: Also the right way
Karan Thapar: But there are people who feel that their lives and their futures are at stake and they are undertaking fasts until death.
Arjun Singh: It is being hyped up, I don't want to go into that.
Karan Thapar: Do you have no sympathy for them?
Arjun Singh: I have every sympathy.
Karan Thapar: But you say it is being hyped up.
Arjun Singh: Yes, it is hyped up.
Karan Thapar: So, then, what sympathy are you showing?
Arjun Singh: I am showing sympathy to them and not to those who are hyping it up.
Read the full interview I say, and please let me know what you think of it.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Whenever I saw it before, I found the heroism of the soldiers in the face of tremendous adversity moving and inspiring. I was moved and inspired. Cheeks burning with pride, eyes shining, I'd dream for two entire days about being a soldier. But this time, for the first time, I noticed the discrepancies and glaring editorial mistakes in the film. I'm going to share a few that I noticed straight away, and you can all give me your take on them.
First of all, Sunny Deol and the leader of the Pakistani army seem to be holding a shouting match over and above the noise of the artillery, every now and then throughout the movie. Like the shooting and all stops, and these people enhance each other's vocabulary for a while.
The displays of individual heroism, not only left me unmoved, but even caught me smirking unconsciously at the lack of reality in Bollywood films. There was Sunil Shetty, with his mind-numbing histrionic talents, trying to emote as he walked down the hill with 2 anti-tank mines even as the entire Pakistani force shot at him. [This is after he has been blown off his artillery station by a grenade. He is supposed to be dead but wakes up suddenly, murmuring "Maa and what not" and begins all this naatak.] He walked upto the tank of the main bad-guy-in-chief, who suddenly notices the mines in his hands. He yells at his tank-driver to back up the tank! But Shetty runs along with the tank, with a Jack Nicholson smile on his bloodied face! They go like that for a while -- tank with frightened-out-of-his-wits chap backing and Shetty chasing, tank with idiot-soldier-not-using-his-gun backing and Shetty grinning now, and chasing. Then suddenly with a burst of energy, mostly in the form of sound, Shetty breaks into a run and dives behind the tank with the mines. The tank blows up as Shetty's victorious scream echoes through the battlefield. A blend of "Yaaaaaaa!!!!" because of the pain and all, and "Maaaaa!!!" because he always does that. The result was like a "yaa-maaaha!", the first recorded instance of in-film brand advertising. The Indian unit seems to pause from shooting and all of time stops, everyone suddenly either reloading their guns or musing on the decibel levels shatter-able by Bollywood filmstars.
Akshay Khanna was also in the movie. He has considerable romantic reel in the film, which is the only excuse I can offer for that stupid grin that he wears all the time. In the initial frames, his interest is more towards his co-actress than valiantly dying for his country, but towards the end he shapes up alright. His moment of glory is when he's rolling down the Indians' embankment carrying two Paki soldiers with him. Once he gets up and kills them with a slash of his knife, he finds himself caught in some sort of spotlight coming from the Pakistani tanks. For exactly one whole minute, he stands there just like that, in a sort of crouch, and then finally slowly gets up. He walks casually, grin in place, across the barb wires and reaches the other end. At that point, I suppose, it suddenly occurs to the Pakistani general that this sort of stuff ain't gonna be tolerated, so he orders his men to shoot. Shoot they do, but Akshay's too fast. Its an often-proven rule of Hindi movies that, and I quote - If hero is shot at by 20 gunmen [scum such as Kaalia, Raakaa, Samba, Raabert or miscellaneous Paki soldiers] then they will not be able to shoot him down without losing atleast half of their number. If they even manage to get him that is. Unquote. One day, I will tell you about the experiences I have had with Mithunda movies, and you will see what I mean. For now, check out this post by GreatBong.
Akshay falls ultimately, in the tragic-hero-who-has-given-up-life-for-nation-thus-sacrificing-family-happiness style, on the barbed wires and sways on it gently. He falls, but he does not die. Indian soldiers do not really die until they are dragged by Sunny Deol back to their encampment. Once he rescues the poor soldiers, he gives them a dose of Sunny-treatment, that is to say he screams at them from all of 2 feet away to "Move!! Move
Akshay Khanna dead, Sunil Shetty dead, the chef who cracks the jokes dead. Sunny Deol cannot be killed. This is another universal law proved in more films than I can count upto. Whatever you do, you cannot kill the man. End of story. So its no surprise when, seeing all the dead bodies, Sunny paaji grimfaced packs grenades on his body, picks up a rocket launcher [which was stashed away till the end of the movie in order to shock and awe the Pakistanis] and marches out shouting "Jo bole so blah blah!!!". He launches rockets and stuff from it. Then takes out his knife to personally rip apart the entire army. He even personally blows up 3-4 tanks by dropping grenades inside them from the chimney opening at the top. Sunny Deol = Santa Claus in battle-gear!
There is, I distinctly remember, a scene where he takes a bullet in the leg after he has rescued Akshay Khanna from the barbed wire and is strutting back to the Indian dressing-room. Another scene when he is shot in the chest [cleverly enough, its the right side so you know its not the heart and he cant possibly die because of it]. But by the end of the movie, he is back to clean and neat uniform, albeit with some dust on the pagdi but thats excusable, and strutting around the battlefield with his living comrades. I repeat, you cannot harm a baal on Sunny's head. And that is not a pun for the pagdi he's wearing.
Border inspired lots of people, and has been hailed as India's greatest war movie, but I found it hopelessly unreal and overtly macho on far too many occasions. After having seen The Thin Red Line, on which this movie was based, and masterpieces such as Saving Private Ryan, you begin to understand the sheer vastness of a battlefield and the incredible atmosphere that surrounds a normal soldier. Border's football field sized battle ground, endless harping on ethereal Bollywood concepts of "Maa! Mein jaa raha hoon!" and Dhartimaa ka karz philosophy leaves me unmoved now. Unmoved except for the laughter that shakes me involuntarily, when I see Sunny's angry boy expression. Or Sunil Shetty when he was playing peekaboo with Pakistani tankmen.
I know I'm being a little too satirical about this blockbuster of the 90s. I cant explain the reason for the sudden cynicism that I have developed about Bollywood. Maybe Akshay Khanna's dying scene wasnt quite as ludicrous as I make it out to be. It could be because I was listening to music on my iPod at the moment that I couldn't absorb the scene's gravity. My burst of laughter at his death, I know, was thoroughly justified and I defend it. Just as he fell on the barbed wire, riddled with bullets, Daniel Powter began on my iPod - "Aw So you had a bad day, You're takin one down, You sing a sad song, Just to turn it around...You had a bad daaaayyyy, you had a bad day!" Am I to be blamed? The agony of his mother's wails, his flashbacks of fun and frolics with Pooja Bhatt in the village fields, were completely lost to me.