Monday, February 25, 2008

Jodha Akbar

From his harem of 500 wives, he happened to prefer one over the others. A short, bowlegged man with a mole on his face, he married her to seal a political alliance and thus get more control over more lands. For peace also perhaps.

But still.

We make out a movie out of this? A love story we call it?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Come Together, Right Now. Over Me.

They have their reasons to dim the lights. It brings people closer together in the darkness. It unifies us in a strange way. That and the alcohol, of course.

Clinking glasses, loud music, voices shouting and screaming to be heard above their own din. Exclamations of joy and suddenly discovered secrets of eternal happiness. The thumping of tables, the sliding into couches, people hugging others barely recognizable. Introductions, appreciations, shots, pints and the breaking into choruses. Long-preserved and uncomfortably guarded ice breaking everywhere. The volleying from one table to another, from one group of friends to another. Rushed and inordinately polite apologies to the people you crash into now and then. Opening the door for a lady, making way for people before you, pouring your own drink last, living a chivalrous knight again. Getting up and walking straight is not so easy now. Tracing zigzags in a narrow path to your seat, to the door, to the next table. Confessing that suddenly frivolous secret, into the ears of suddenly close friends in the middle of suddenly appropriate conversation. Let it be. Everybody sings, alcohol irrespective. Thats the comfort level now. Brothers-in-arms till the door, collapsing in a heap once outside. Lying around on college steps, saluting the security. Looking up at a giant moon and stars across the universe. Smiling at each other, grinning to spoil the moment. Nobody can get up to go now. Its too perfect, everything is. And we're all that bit too tired.

Can somebody take us back to the hostel, please?

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Friday, February 22, 2008

He Who Forgets Things In Room, Gets Late For Class

As yellow shafts of sunlight shone down on his eyes, for the second continuous hour since dawn, he woke. He woke gently, for he was a gentle and peaceful person. He woke with a great deal of muscle-pulling and stretching and lots of loud yawning, for his was a theatrical soul. He jumped up off his bed suddenly and sprinted the 8 feet to the bathroom, for his was a sharp mind that had just surmised, from a mere glance at the clock, that class would begin in 20 minutes.

Rushing through the processes of brushing his teeth and washing his face simultaneously (it would be wise to not ask how he managed this, if we are of the puritan school of thought that believes in the companionship of sanity and sanitation), he dived into a t-shirt hanging off the chair and 'dropkicked' into the jeans of yesterday. Grabbing his bag and keys, he rushed out of the room.

Nearly. Before he could leave, he checked himself up in the mirror. Hmm...Nose, ears, eyes, hair, chin and cheeks. Check, check, check, check, check and check. All the essentials appearing to be in order, he proceeded with the mad rush to class. Damn! Its Machine Drawing! That meant the drafter and the blank drawing sheet. He rushed back in to retrieve them, returning as a whirlwing barely 5 seconds after he'd left as a whirlwind. His bemused room-mate went about plodding through his own activities. His world was a parallel universe. He chose when to drop by and attend, not once letting his mind ponder over regulations such as minimum attendance requirement.

He bolted out again. And bolted back in another 4 seconds later. He'd forgotten to use the deodorant. Ooh and now that he was here, he saw he hadn't even taken his pencils. Phew!

He ran out and sprinted down the stairs, taking them two at a time on the descend and jumping off the last three to land with a grand flourish and a bow for his imaginary raucously cheering spectators. The hostel caretaker looked at him with eyebrows raised, as he speed-walked past him, past his gate of his jurisdiction and into the beautiful sunshine outside, where clouds meandered as fluffs of cotton against a little blue canvas of sky, and the birds twittered and man was free.

He came back in half a minute later. The textbook, the textbook! He sprinted up the stairs, taking them two at a time and finally landing with a flourish but no bow. There's so little time! He knocked three times on the door, responding to his room-mate's raised eyebrow with a grin and shrug, both regular but slightly hurried. Where is the book? There! Got it.

Again, he ran out. Took the stairs two at a time, and landed with a flourish and bow. He was finally ready to leave na. The caretaker didnt look up this time. Engineering students! Everyone seemed to have screws loose.

Class had begun. Everyone already bent over drawing sheets, reproducing and assembling pieces of this and that to form something they didnt know, which did something they did not care about knowing. He fit right in.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Conversations With A Myself (Part II)

Mirror: But, you know, I mean. You know you're slightly gay aren't you? Like, effeminate?

Me: Oh, but my dear friend, do you not see the beauty of that? The mystery and the indecipherible justification behind such a complex and exact state? The gay are out of the picture. The completely masculine ones? They must adopt a different form of set approach, one I find utterly distasteful and crass. I have slightly more demanding sensibilities. Its if you're in my unique position in life and supposed sexual orientation, that the beautiful yellow line of balance appears, so that the worthy one may walk. A tilt either way, and fall, I find, I must. A precise stepping is required. You get it? A motion to one side, demanding an immediate dash to the other. Slightly over-compensated torque to be rapidly changed, before her conscious self is able to notice an abrupt shift. The subconscious subconsciously approves the to and fro, and watches in the grips of complete fascination. What is the game after all? That hint of a feminine antenna for understanding those veiled emotions in time. Reacting accordingly. That shy compliment, that understated matter-of-fact tone. Then the sudden, unpredictable rushes of spartan manliness, the stance changed to the unfazed, unaffected self. To completely confuse her and make her pause and have her wonder and get her thinking and keep her checking backwards, about where she and where I stand in all of this. The helpful words most other guys wouldn't be able to pronounce together so easily, they push and they prod and then they sneak in past the barrier she thinks she keeps raised so strongly. Once in, those words they cast off the sheep's clothing. And they strike. Meanwhile you are judged closely. Monitored and surveyed. Like conquerors in ages past in different spheres of life, a decision must be made: to pillage, or to retain? I choose. With full, complete autocracy over metaphorically, and sometimes actually *sic*, kneeling subject. Does it work? Every time baby. Touche?

Mirror: Surely it is touche, m'lord.
The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! - Calvin.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Wise & Benevolent Goddess

Did you notice how yesterday was Saraswati Puja? A lot of people didnt. Well, atleast a lot of people here didnt. Festivals tend to just suddenly arrive and depart without much fanfare in college. Its strange.

Especially a festival such as this. I remember schooldays when we used to keep our books in front of an idol of the goddess all day, so that she may bless them and bless us and bless everyone. The trick behind it, of course, was that then we had an excuse for not studying the entire day!

In keeping with the faith of that spirit and 'religious fervor' of past years, I bunked college yesterday. To be very technical about it, I only overslept and missed the entire morning session. I had no such reason to oversleep. Neither was I too tired, nor did I go to bed all that late. It might actually just be becoming a sort of chronic habit now, because I overslept and missed a class today too. But no, it wasnt any of this. Contemptuously brushing aside your unmovable fact and your rational thought, I'll tell you what it was.

It was my subconscious mind that did it. It was a subconscious, intentional attempt by my considerate mind to revive those past days and childhood joys, refusing to attend class and take notes on the day of the Goddess of Knowledge. It was a call for faith and piety and lots of it. Thats why I didnt get off my bed when I woke suddenly at 7 in the morning. Thats why the previous night I set my alarm, but forgot to take my phone off silent mode. Thats why I woke up at 10:30 and didnt bother to try rushing to class. And as final proof that it was meant to be, thats why we had only one class in the morning session while the rest were (miraculously?) cancelled.

I believe thats what it was, and so I observed the puja by visiting the shamiana that had been set up near the temple, to house the idol. To be entirely honest, I was having second thoughts about going in , at one point. I had reached the outside of it, and was wondering if I should enter. You know, those silly doubts one gets once in a while. But things have a way of falling into place and showing you the way, when they're falling into place and showing you the way.

As I debated within my head, I looked around me in my hesitation. I must have been looking for a show of faith or a cause to override the cynicism that grows unwanted within us. And I saw a devotee come out of the shamiyana, and observing him, had a moment of crystal clarity in my mind. He looked happy. His face was lit by a joyous smile. I could only wonder what caused this joy. What wiped away the worries perenially plaguing every college student? What cleaned off that grime of cynicism and sarcasm that perpetually turned smiles to frowns? What joy was it that gave him this moment of clean, pure exultation in his being? What source of happiness gave him such contentment, if only momentary, for the state of all things around him?

I wondered. I looked into myself, to find a reason. I looked into him, to find that cause. And then I knew my mistake. For I had looked too deep, I had missed the obvious. So it is with all of life, and so it was with me. I looked at him, a lot more carefully this time. And I saw the packet of sweets he carried in his hand, and which was being distributed free of cost inside. And I knew what joy it was.

I cast off all the doubt. I cast off all the hesitation. With single-minded devotion and dedication in my heart, I took off my floaters and entered. I came out, munching and scrunching, the same light in my eyes and the same joy in my heart. Yes, Indian festivals are blessed indeed. Whatever your motivation, whatever your reasons, they can bring in each of us that same feeling of joy and faith and belief in a power above. That showers light and blessings and occasional sweets.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Pearl Of Wisdom

...which is why you never get your money's worth if you go to a strip club wearing jeans.

-- Neil Patrick Harris (aka Barney) on How I Met Your Mother.

Who Cut Pig's Wings?

Look, maybe its just me. But titles and names do matter. A person can be intimidating and powerful enough, but a silly little name would just completely wipe the smirk off his face. Which is why I think its unfair. Its unfair to label anything anything. Or anyone anyone. You get stuck with something once, and then it doesnt leave you. And you cant get out of that mental image anymore.

Its like a ball and chain tied to your ankles. You might want to fly and soar in the sky, but you cant. You've been tagged. Alas! This would be one such case. Its insane. Its just too unfair. And I feel very deeply for swine all over the world who suffer such.

What gives us this right? Of all the names in the world, which could have run through all the imaginations of all the zoologists and whatnots who are in charge of such things around the world, we go and pick this. Piglet.

Why? Why do such a thing? Don't you see what you've done? The entire social set up for your average pig has been sent crying home to its mommy. Labelled thus with a hilariously ridiculous name, what do you think is the effect on the emotional growth of the young baby piglet? How does it find friends in other species? How does it interact, explore the world, make foreign friends with the calf, or take a chick out to dinner? Try it yourself. Just say the word aloud to yourself. Go on. Can't help giggling a bit can you? No. Deep inside your head, somewhere, the fun and humor section feels a jolt, yes? See.

How, how, I ask, how will your regular pig ever be treated normally? What kind of life could it lead in an animal kingdom where the other young are gifted fearless and intimidating titles like the 'cub', fun and laidback ones like 'joey' or aww-cho-chweet names like 'calf' and 'fawn'? How does a piglet compete in such an environment? How does it hold even a serious discussion about world politics or the environment with somebody, when in the back of their minds they're thinking just the same horrible, discriminative thoughts over and over - He's a piglet. Tee hee hee. Giggle giggle. Pig. Let. Piglet! He he. Oh so sorry, whats that you were saying? I was thinking of some...thing...else. You know, just drifted. Anyway, you go and play in the mud there ok? I'm going to go in that corner there and silently laugh my ass off for a bit. Ok? So sweet. Go, little one, go now. Go go. Go. Ye-e-es. Good boy. Goo-oo-ood boy. Hmph. Piglet!

Its really not done. We should be ashamed for the misery we inflict on the dirty, little swines. Which they wouldnt have been now, had someone taken their ancestors seriously once in a while.