Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holi Shitstorm

It was Holi. The fact hit me with a mild thump as I hurried out from the wash basin with a tooth brush in my mouth, getting ready to feast on humble maggi at the mess. The way to the mess could be festered with let wild youth in a cloud of colour and powder. There was always going to be a chance that one of these clouds would rain on your breakfast parade, but the obstacles merely made the mission more challenging. Stepping out from my room, key in hand, I was witness to a fat fellow wrestling down a thin one and proceeding to cover him in colours worth his weight in the quadi. Shaking my head in disapproval I descended the stairs. Stepping on to the pathway, I perceived Skrotr coming my way, back after breakfast. He was wearing a blue, initially hip but now familiarly familiar shirt that claimed he was not a mess.

“Yo mofo!”, he acknowledged.

Back from the mess and full of hot maggi, I walked back into hostel. The quadi had become more populous. At the edge a familiar figure hulked over the goal posts, covered in psychedelic colours. It was Skrotr. Packs of similarly coloured enthusiasts shimmered and swirled in the sun, like an advertisement for epilepsy. Skrotr, surveying the killing fields, saw me walking past and grimaced, his body caked in colour with which his deep red shorts blended inconspicuously. This familiar piece of garment was made in the style of the shorts Fernando Torres wore when he was actually good and played for Liverpool under Rafa Benitez. I quickened my pace away from this incarnadine form and to the wing.

I ambled on to Polly’s room for the daily gossip and discoursed on the mundane.

“Aren’t you going downstairs for Holi?”, I asked.
“No dude. I have plenty of work to do. I must get started on something”.
“You may go down to Maakade’s wing for some time”.
“No man. If I go downstairs three or four hours will be spent on Holi”.

I left him to his devices and turned to my troubles. Sat on by academic pressure which puts on weight by the day, I tapped aimlessly at the key board until I decided to consult someone else. A minute later, I was talking to Mohan when Skrotr suddenly came up to wing.

“Put some da. It’s only rice flour”, he pleaded as I hid my face beneath my arms and shuffled away from his advancing arms. Mohan hid behind the door.

“Just a bit on the cheeks”, he insisted. Stretching beneath my arms, he managed to wipe some on my face.

“Oho!”, boomed another voice behind me.

It was Polly. The man I had bid adieu to not more than twenty minutes ago now walked like a bearded rainbow. Amid the resonance of musical efforts of Messrs. Baker, Clapton and Bruce in my head, I stared at him incredulously.

“What happ-”

“Hey, let’s put some colour on this guy’s face!”, he rallied, advancing menacingly towards me.

The shock of having just seen a man, so resolute in his academic commitments some time ago, now standing before me looking like Van Gogh’s waste cloth made me immobile. Taking advantage, he smeared some of the colour from his arms to my face, until I woke up to the fact.

“Come dude. We can play Holi!”, he entreated, bouncing along back to the madding crowd.

The lark was upon the wing and the snail was on the thorn. Unseen in the background, Fate was slipping the lead into the boxing glove. An old hamartia rose up to shove me off the straight and the narrow. As steadfast as I was in my rejection of Holi and in the pursuit of academic mediocrity, I found it difficult to turn down an invitation to intoxicants in a familiar den. I decided to take the recently turned hedonist, Polly, with me on this quest for mind altering substances.

The quadi was now full with blobs of colour, no longer recognizable in the distance. Downstairs, Polly was sitting on the parapet, wearing colour powder as much as he was wearing a shirt and shorts.

“You want to come with me to drink some thandai?”, I screamed.
“Yeah! Let’s go. You want to go to the gate before that?”.

I quickly descended the steps. Polly, having almost reached the entrance, had walked into a large group which looked like a colour fountain waiting to happen. I walked along the path, hoping Polly could extricate himself from the mob. Suddenly a group of five split away from the mother. In the middle, recognizable only by his trademark hair ,was Polly, on whom the multiplying villanies of Holi had seemed to have swarmed. Flanking him on either side were four other familiar bodies, intent on doubly redoubling the dashes of colour they had received. Like a family of zombies who have spotted their lunch in the last remaining human in the area, they advanced upon me. Their faces were coloured a dark saturnine which suggested a taste for the more sinister forms of crime. Drooling and growling they raced towards me, covering me in an avalanche of colours from head to toe, back and front. Initiated into this primitive, aggressive, testosterone charged cult, they slapped me on the back and escorted me out of the hostel.

We reached the hostel where the thandai was waiting for us. There were at least a hundred people in front of the hostel, a humanoid colour spectrum bouncing to dance music. All the popular numbers were blared out from speakers, as this crazed mass of populace driven over the edge by adrenalin, testosterone and bhang, recited the lines in a fingernails down a blackboard sonic ramble. A giant hose was showering three score, who in turn splashed the water on those around them. The whole scene was encircled by a puddle of a moat, decked in the colours of the day. A bunch of exchange students were standing at the perimeter, unable to make full sense of what just hit them or the incredible exuberance of the dancing, bathing crowd in front of them.

We filled a small bottle with thandai and retired to our lair. The need to get away and above was imminent.

Three hours later, I was standing in Guru, the colours of my misadventures having dried upon my skin.

"A bar of soap, sir".

The man behind the counter looked at me in part disapproval and part disdain. I felt as if I had stepped out into a torrent on the assumption that I had an umbrella, only to slip my hand into the bag and clutch at air. I quickly stepped out of there, my head mellow and light, my body aflame in colours and a growing fire in my belly.

A morning well spent.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Day I Scored

A goal. Not with a girl. Or weed. Both desirable things to be scored, but not what I scored last Saturday.

Strangely, there are a substantial number of people who would remain calm and composed and greet you with the merest twitch of the lower lip if you were to tell them that I had scored with a girl or some weed, but would swoon, faint, hang out a crepe and have their friends gather around and say what a pity it all is, upon hearing the news that I had scored a goal on the football field. Some might even go the extent of remarking that there is enough sadness in life without fellows like Basil scoring goals. However, being largely liberal and broad minded and drawing the line only at Rebecca Black actually explaining the hidden meanings behind her songs, I am able to accommodate such views. Further, I am able to dissect, analyse and discover the source of such emotion.

I have always been a flamboyant and irrepressible forward who was denied international honours only by the misfortune of his own genetic makeup, selectorial prejudice against rubbish football players, and his inability to score flamboyant and/or irrepressible goals. The fascination in scoring a goal depends almost entirely on whether you are facing the goal post and net or whether the items mentioned are facing your back. I have been, for as long as I can remember, a goalkeeper. The sole purpose I had while playing football was to stop goals from being scored, rather than actually scoring them. I suspect that this has rubbed off on the general public. Perhaps because I am a sensational keeper, or because of sheer repetitiveness, many of those acquainted with me can picture me only between the posts and nowhere else on the field.

However, because of the general laziness of a few friends and their subsequent disinterest in mucking about on the field, I have been forced to be an outfield player while the more idle become goal keepers. So it was on Saturday. I had gone to the school ground hoping to catch a few goal-ward bound balls and let in as few goals as I could manage when forces beyond my control pushed me out into open play. Observing that the forward line of my team was rather unoccupied, I strode to position.
I ran about, rather aimlessly, for close to an hour or so with little result. I had wasted a couple of good chances and was generally letting anyone who had eyes see that I had as much chance of making an impact as an SFI march had of remaining peaceful. Taking solace in the fact that I had little to no experience in the business of being a striker, I sauntered about the penalty box.

Then, came the moment. It was a corner kick, though definitely not intended for me. It flew into the box and bounced of half a dozen players like the ball in a pinball machine. Then, in what seemed to me like ultra-slow motion, the ball bounced on to me. From the mere fact that I had made an absolute mess out of two previous chances, not many a punter would have put his money on me. However, seizing the tide in the affairs as Shakespeare advised, I prodded the ball with the side of the boot, accidently adequately placing it between the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper and the right post. It was a goal.

Man has, over the course of his existence, discovered a whole gamut of emotions. Some are considered noble. Some not so much. Love, for example, has had a lot of press-agenting from the oldest times. However, on Saturday, I discovered that there are higher, nobler things than love. The sheer exhilaration upon scoring, an euphoria that wells up inside you, your brain chemistry getting all messed up, resulting in an ear to ear grin, that feeling that makes you want to run a hundred metres, take off your shirt and jump into the arms of a dozen people. That undefined, unnamed and probably unanalysed feeling is perhaps the noblest of them all.

Being a game with zero audiences and no consequence to anybody other than the players, I merely turned around and looked around me. On their faces were a unique mixture of amazement, incredulity and relief, for we were getting a shellacking at the hands of a superior opposition. I was merely grinning from ear to ear.

It was at that moment, for it has been a very very long time since I scored a goal, that I realised why professional footballers celebrate the way they do upon scoring. They may score in almost every game every weekend but they are ecstatic enough to prance around and do somersaults in front of forty thousand people. That is why Wayne Rooney can shout into a camera, Ronaldinho can flex his body into a dance, Cesc Fabregas can risk a yellow card by taking his shirt off, Raul can kiss his ring and Totti vibrate his palm around his ear like a confused man trying to adjust the volume on the car stereo. They may be getting paid astronomical sums of money for doing that but in a golden moment or two, true passion and love for the game shines through. It is those moments that make the game truly beautiful.

I, on the other hand, am still ecstatic and continue to boast of my telling strike. This post is merely another effort in that direction.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Angry Bearded Men

The other day, one cloudy morning, I opened a newspaper, having been kicked out of bed and a beautiful dream by parents who were anxious that their son was whiling away his vacations with the pursuit of nothings. Right on the front page of The Hindu, greeting my still sleepy face, were two angry bearded men. One was Ilyas Kashmiri, who was declared dead in Afghanistan. The other was Baba Ramdev who declared a fast until death unless India’s rather large share of black money was brought back to the country so that more people may learn and practice yoga.

In a more frivolous time, when you did not have to sweat a gallon about being politically correct and did not have to fear angry mob who might scythe off your palm, a resourceful editor with a sense of humour might have swapped photos of Ilyas Kashmiri and Baba Ramdev. You know, just for kicks. However, that was not to be and we are forced to go through our mundane days without being able to fall back on the morning memory of Baba Ramdev being captioned Ilyas Kashmiri.

I am a simple man with simple world views and in my opinion, the fewer angry bearded men the world has, the better. The death of Ilyas Kashmiri, whose only endearing quality may have been that he had a pretty wicked name, brought joy to my heart as the world population of raving bearded men took a minor hit. Baba Ramdev seemed, as far as I could make out from The Hindu, to be alive, kicking and very angry. In my limited view, the black money unscrupulous and enterprising Indians have stashed away in the mountains of Switzerland and the white sand beaches of Cayman Islands can stay there for a wee bit longer if it rid this world of Baba Ramdev, his anger and his antics.

In fact, I suppose a win-win situation can be achieved if the government, or whoever is in charge of such things, would just let Baba Ramdev die. The death of Baba Ramdev would inevitably unleash the fury and wrath of that small percentage of the Indian population who still give a tiny rat’s ass about politics, corruption and Gandhi-like fasts. This fury and wrath, aided by further blackmailing from the part of Anna Hazare would surely spur the government or whoever is in charge of such things to actually bring back that rather huge stash of black money and lose it in corrupt deals within India. Go desi! The final balance sheet- Baba Ramdev, no. Lots of money coming back to India, yes. Two birds with one stone, eh?

However, as I lack the political pull pre-requisite for putting through such pulverising plans, I am left to merely postulate. Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’. As midnight raids and salwar-kameez escapades abound, one can only hope that it all tapers off to a good end. Though what end that might be I fear to contemplate. Baba Ramdev, for all his anger, rainforest beard and inane posturing does appear to be a singularly determined man. Like all singularly determined men, he has dug his toes in and is only prepared to dig them out if his demands are met. It is at moments like these that one looks upto Flying Spaghetti Monster and asks ‘Why?’ Why at all was Baba Ramdev created human? All the first-class qualities of a mule gone to waste.

The Hindu, in a rare occasion of front page humour says “The demands of the jet setting Baba, whose acolytes recently bought him a little Scottish island to open an ashram….. range from the serious to bizarre”. Of course, you know them all by now. Hang the corrupt from lamp posts, ban the institution of currency and go back to the barter system, renounce a tried and tested form of governance the British came up with and opt for a Swadeshi model, make him king of the country and the like.

Of course, as with all such reforming revolutionaries willing to fast it out in New Delhi, our angry Baba Ramdev wants to promote Hindi at the expense of English. For some reason, perhaps ranking his demands in ascending order of stupidity, The Hindu put this point last when they made a list of Baba’s main demands. I was going through this list the aforementioned cloudy morning shaking and nodding my head, letting out intermittent chuckle,s a ‘Ha!’ here and there until I reached the last point. At this point my blood started bubbling and boiling and in the interest of surviving, I jumped into a cold shower.

Baba Ramdev himself, is suspected of having several dirty fingers in several dirty pies. No one knows from where he gets all his money, though he is generally recognised to be a multi-millionaire sadhu. The government, in a perfect example of the term tit for tat, has decided to investigate the Baba and find that piece of incriminating evidence by which it can direct a well-aimed kick at Baba’s saffron clad derriere and send him squelching back to his Scottish island.

As much as I pity the fine Scots, after all they gave us Scotch whiskey, I rejoice at the distinct possibility of Baba Ramdev fading away into his remote island, where he might spend the day and night practising yoga, making much more money and, if he is enterprising enough, banging the brains out of his ardent worshippers.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On The Last Bencher

Different people have different times at which they can be guaranteed to be at your service. Some prefer the early morning air and chirping of the birds, while some others are not themselves unless they washed their insides with some fine old port. Some people I know are up to anything once they have wolfed down a couple of calzones, while some can run till noon on a glass of skimmed milk. If you want me for anything, be it scaling Mount Everest stark naked or to deliver a heavily loaded emotional bomb to your better half, call me up in the holidays. The months of December, as well as the summer months of May, June and July find me at my willing best. Throw me a challenge and I jump at it like a restless pug.

Obviously familiar with this fact of life, the Alumni Association of IIT Madras, whose esteemed campus I (dis) grace, sent an e-mail sometime in December, calling forth those interested in signing up for a literary endeavour that was to be the first of its kind. This novel venture aimed to capture the life and times of the batch of students passing out in 2011 in a book. Touted as a book of memories, it sought to preserve in print the exploits of those bidding goodbye to the leafy shades of IIT Madras. It was the holidays, Christmas was around the corner and I was bored. Thus, one fine morning, the Alumni Association of IIT Madras woke up to find in its inbox an e-mail that enthusiastically offered the services of Basil James.

Weeks passed and I completely forgot about the Alumni Association and its book. Things were in the doldrums when an unexpected e-mail sometime in February reminded me of those bored days in December and what I had signed up for. Apparently, the Alumni Association wanted to interview me. Invited to the unfamiliar haunts of the Central Library, I appeared for the interview and forgot all about it in two days. Again, weeks passed and things were in the doldrums. Again, quite unexpectedly an e-mail appeared congratulating me on being a part of the book the AA wanted to put out.

Headed by the cute and inimitable Surbhi Maheshwari, we were a motley crew of almost a dozen. Work was distributed efficiently, and I realised I was a correspondent, in charge of visiting final year students and asking them to think of funny stuff that happened to them while in college. In fact, everyone in the team who was not a final year was a correspondent and the rest were editors of some sort or the other. A few weeks and interactions with students later, I suddenly came to realise that I was made an editor of the book. Of course, within days I soon realised that though being the only non-final year editor on board was pretty uplifting, it had its rough side. A final year editor, when asked by a fellow final year editor to do some work, can always ask the latter to bury his/her head in the toilet as the former wanted to watch movies. However, a second year editor can never do this and hope to hang on to dear life. The pretty straight forward rules of senior-junior interaction meant that I did my work with the belligerence of an Assyrian coming down the hill.

I still got to go out and meet a few seniors and listen to their stories. It was great fun, listening to the pranks some fellows have been upto, especially chaps you would not suspect such behaviour from in the first glance. The people I mostly interviewed were people the final years on board knew, which meant that the people I interviewed were also people pretty well-known across campus. Some of the people had reputations that preceded them and they backed the rumours up with solid stories. Others were resolved to, as Lady Macbeth said, look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under’t.

Being an editor, I was exposed to a lot of original writing by Insti junta, articles that were written by final year students themselves and not by correspondents. I was, quite frankly, appalled by the standard of English and writing that exists in my college after reading them. Many of those articles would make a first grader look like Lord Tennyson and made me dumber for having read them. Such toxic waste led to much more work, where I virtually re wrote entire articles to give it a semblance of respectability.

After much effort and equally effective amounts of slacking, the book finally came out in the middle of April. It was well designed, the double pronged design team showing us and the world the way it is done. It was quite a good return for a few months’ work and I found myself feeling slightly proud for what I had helped to accomplish. Of course, going through the book, I found a few errors here and there, some in articles I had personally edited. Being a firm follower in the Wodehousian philosophy that one should never apologise in life as the good people do not want one and the bad people are prone to take a mean advantage of them, I shall desist. But I wish I had done a better job and given a bit more attention and spared a few more moments before rushing off to watch the Arsenal defence leak like sponge.

It was pretty great to be a part of The Last Bencher (as the book got christened) and it really taught me much about bringing out a book. Much credit, though grudgingly given (due to my miserly nature more than anything else), is to be accorded to the team of almost a dozen that worked hard to make the book a success. At the risk of this sounding like a cliché vote of thanks speech, let me extend my hand and shake theirs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Woes of a Not So Religious

Back in Trivandrum for three months of peace prosperity and joblessness, I have been occupied in useful activity to a lesser extent than a bunch of union members demanding nokku kooli in a local junction in Kerala. Almost exclusively due to that fact, I have been dragged along to pretty much every place my parents thought fit to grace with their presence. Of course, one man's meat is another man's poison. Being only this much short of being television evangelists, the preferred locations in which my parents hang out are prayer groups or other gatherings of similar nature. Being an agnostic and a closet one at that, these gatherings are as much appealing to me as Chris Gayle is to Prasanth Parameswaran.

One such expedition led me and my sorry ass to the inaugration of a new church. It was supposed to start at seven in the evening and I presume it did, but by the time I reached there it was well past eight. Inside, some Reverend was going Old Testament on capitalism, consumerism and all that is good with the modern world. From the outside, I could perceive a packed church, teeming with devotees, clinging on to every pearl dropping from the mouth of the Reverend.

Being a new church and hampered by financial constraints, it was a small establishment, fit to to house less than a hundred people. A more glaring disadvantage the place had was that it had only one door, an entry point from the front. Now, an essential feaure any church should have is multiple entry points, from the sides as well as the back. The reason is simple. The more religiously inclined are bound to come right on time and enter through the front door. However, those who have been touched by the Holy Spirit to a lesser extent often leaves home at 7:30 for an event that starts at seven. For them alone, the side and back entries are necessary. If you have only a front door, the church goer and his sorry ass is forced to walk in through the front door, under the critical glare of everyone present, receiving unspoken censure from the Reverend. One is forced to screw ones courage to the spot, modify the facial expression to one of intense passion and religious fervour and walk in, looking at the floor and hoping not to upset the charity box on the way. Added to that is the risk that the Reverend, who just spent fifteen minutes handing modernity's ass to itself, might seek to provide comic relief through the late comer, with one snide biblical reference.

All this only exacerbates the need for all churches to have multiple entry points, with at least a few of them hidden away from the censuring eyes of the punctual and the religious. Otherwise, that church is bound to miss out on having illustrious persona such as yours truly in the audience, as the Reverend makes modernity wish that the earth would swallow it. Of course, one could always argue, from an economist stand point, that such grief would be an added incentive for any church goer to reach on time. The flipside, of course, is that, if the church goer is resourceful, he may just slink off to a side road as his parents walk into the church, screwing their courage to the spot, modifying the facial expression to one of intense passion and religious fervour and walk in, looking at the floor and hoping not to upset the charity box on the way.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Movies and English

I have been watching a lot of movies lately. Not that I was not watching them earlier, it is just that I have gotten more into it than before. Earlier, I used to be the Parthiv Patel of movies. Now I am the Brendon McCullum of movies. Not yet Sachin Tendulkar, but getting there. A majority of the movies I watch are from Hollywood, featuring the big names, the household names, the soon to be big names or just names. Sometimes, people tickle me that I do not watch enough Indian movies and thus miss out on a lot of fun and frolic. The fact is that I speak two languages of which only one is native to India. I have watched most of the good Mallu movies and quite a few bad ones as well. Just for kicks. The other language I am fluent in happens to be English and not Tamil, Telugu, Hindi or Bhojpuri, thus restricting my choice of movies. People say that the visual media has a language of its own and one should watch movies of different languages even though you understand just about nothing. The problem is that enjoying the dialogues is an integral part of any movie watching experience. It is only then that one gets to know the nuances and the intricacies of the movie. Plus, one can understand only the bare skeletal structure of the story by just watching the scenes of a movie. These days, all movies seem to have the same structure. It is only good dialogues that make them enjoyable.

One fact that continues to amaze me is the lack of bilingual movies in India. With a population of 1.21 billion and a few thousand languages, it might seem very profitable to have two languages in your movie and thus draw double the crowd. Or maybe, perhaps if you take a movie in Tamil and Hindi, the Tamil audience might think it is a Hindi movie and move it while the Hindi junta would call it a Madrasville production and sweep it under the carpet. Perhaps, making a bilingual movie is the perfect way for a producer to go the dogs.

Personally though, I would love it someone made a bilingual movie with the two languages I know- English and Mallu. Now let us be clear here. When I say bilingual movie, I mean a movie in which actors can speak both languages with at least as much finesse and fluency as I can. Instead, if the fare to be put on show involves Lalu Alex spitting out English dialogues which sound as if they were written by Britain’s P.E No.1, I am outta here. Too many movies have gone by with someone or the other taking a hacksaw and chopping the language I love into six. English dialogues in the Mallu movie industry is pretty much like school in July- no class. Of what I have seen, very few people in the Mallu movie industry speak good English. It has reached such a situation that sometimes I pray people in movies do not venture into English dialogues. Yet, once in a while, they do.

May be it is the unfamiliarity with the language, but the dialogues in English are clichés, grammatically incorrect and outright bad. I am perfectly sure there are opportunities open for a part-time English dialogue writer in Mollywood and I am prepared to jump for it. At least then, the Suresh Gopis and the Prithvirajs can shout out decent dialogues, dialogues that do not sound like they came from a remote corner of an elementary school.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

On Shakespeare

"With the single exception of Homer there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare, when I measure my mind against his"- George Bernard Shaw.

One wonders whether Shaw was being appreciative of Shakespeare or otherwise when he made this statement, but either way, I could have said the same thing several times. I first met Shakespeare as a pimply lad of fourteen in school. Julius Caesar, that famous political drama/thriller was the topic of study. Shakespeare had formally entered my life. Of course, I had brief and fleeting interactions with the Bard before, but they were too small and insignificant to deserve much mention.

Much has changed from that time and now and one significant change has been that I actually like Shakespeare these days. Back in school, Shakespeare appeared to be a douche nugget from whose pen words fell like shit from a diarrhoeic ass. May be it was the fact that he wrote in verse which did not have that allure of well written prose.

Julius Caesar came upon me at an impressionable age. Unfortunately, it was not Old Bill who got to do the impressioning. Rather, it was a strange anti-Shakespeare feeling, a notion that what the fellow had written was jackshit. We were told that Shakespeare was a master dramatist, someone who understood the human nature intimately and portrayed society wonderfully in his plays. To me, Shakespeare was just a sycophant on an ass-kissing mission to the royal palace. In those times, if you did not know something, then it was art and if art was shoved down your throat, you hated it. At that time our Shakespeare teacher seemed to grab me by the throat and bark sternly into my face: “You are coming with me. No arguments. Now sit down, and do exactly what I tell you.”

The whole Shakespeare affair was supposed to be informative, refurbishing and ultimately giving your soul a gung ho! I don’t say I’ve got much of a soul, but, such as it is, I’m perfectly satisfied with the little chap. I don’t want people fooling about with it. ‘Leave it alone,’ I say. ‘Don’t touch it. I like it the way it is.

Three years later came Macbeth and the treatment meted out was pretty much the same, if only less harsh. Shakespeare remained that incredible scourge that blots the English literary landscape. Add to that it was taught by someone who was once described as a manipulative svengali and you get the general picture. May be some psychoanalysts would like to read into those uninformed days of hate as Freudian slips of emotion. After all, I was, and still continue to be, a flamboyant and irrepressible pen wielder who was denied international honours only by the misfortune of my own genetic makeup, selectorial prejudice against rubbish writers, and my inability to wield a pen in a flamboyant and/or irrepressible manner.
Shakespeare’s works seemed to border on the ridiculous, an almost implausible rendering of affairs, if you will. Back in those days if I got an opportunity to meet Shakespeare, I would have sat him down, mopped his brow, given him a sharp talking to, told him to get a proper job, and poured a cup of iced tea over his head.

Some may like to call it anti-Establishment bias or a need to revolt against the prescribed norms, but back in those days, Old Bill seemed to be just plain stupid. His stories seemed more undercooked than a roast chicken that arrives at your table on the phone to its personal injury lawyer complaining of mild heat rash. Julius Caesar appeared to be a silly story of how eight men kill one chap and then three men, who thought the deceased chap had been hard done by, went and bopped one each on those eight chaps. It was historical, classical and widely praised by grey hairs all around the globe. Or in other words, it was something not to be touched with a ten foot bean pole.

But as time passed, I believe I have come to appreciate the man in a better sense and perspective, becoming much more receptive to the taste and feel of a Shakespeare. Today, I recognize him as the foremost among the great British playwrights and authors, not that my recognition matters to anyone else but me. Interestingly, it is the very facts about the Bard I hated all those years ago that endears him to me now. I love his old prose. They have a certain ring to them and they just rolls off one's tongue. He certainly has to be one of the best scriptwriters ever. One wonders what Guy Ritchie would have done with an original of Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare is no longer a stubbly man with the gold-hooped earring leering at the girl in the candy floss hut on a shady London street. Back in those days, I swore by Francis Bacon and was convinced without any evidence whatsoever that Shakespeare was a thieving little rat who had pilfered the works of an unsung great. However, today I do not care whether it was Shakespeare of Bacon who was responsible for Hamlet or Much Ado About Nothing. After all, what is in a name? The very idea of Shakespeare, a literary genius whose plots and stories are still rip roaring material today, a man with exquisite art and grace and capable of putting it down in the written word.

I will no longer win the great delusion award for unshakable self belief. But I can keep googling for quotes by Shakespeare for almost anything under the sun and get cracking results. May be, that is what has put Shakespeare in a better light for me. The very fact that you can copy a couplet with stupendous results puts him in a league of his own.