Monday, December 27, 2010

The Very Little Punjab I Saw

I was in Punjab the last week and despite my best intentions and my mother's constant badgering, I managed to see only very little of it. In fact, I would not be surprised if someone were to walk up to me, bang his or her fist on the table and assert that I had not been to Punjab at all. My original destination in Punjab was Ludhiana, but after a few days of the utter boredom of being cooped up in my cell, my laziness was trumped by the craving for the new, the fresh and for anything that did not have four whitewashed walls.

The one thing I had been looking forward to a lot in my trip to Punjab was to get a good look at a few girls and see for myself whether the word of mouth was good to believe. It was. Punjab features, in various varieties of appearances and sizes, everyday girls on the streets, in malls, looking out from the balcony or in somebody's mobile phone. They sashay in a swirl of colour, in their elegant salwar kameezes and in jeans in the more urbane parts of the state, moving like queens of city, head held high and with steps as firm as a mountain goat. Their faces can launch any number of ships and trawlers from any number of harbours as they breeze through the crowded markets in search of Flying Spaghetti Monster knows what. They are ephemeral and almost ethereal, with a quaint and ancient charm upon them. A glow seems to permeate through them, a halo of glory surrounding them. In more realistic terms, they are surrounded by well built, well to do Punjabi brothers who, in all probability, have a few Kirpans on their bodies. You would do well to keep away from them.

A characteristic Punjab shares to a great degree with Kerala is the number of booze shops that dot the streets and even places where there are no streets. For every hundred meters you travel, you are guaranteed to find at least three booze shops, though the three of them tend to be more or less adjacent to each other, a logic that evades me to this day. Unlike Kerala, the government does not seem to be taking any initiative to sell liquor and thus pocket great profits I am sure is to be gotten from the good people of the State. In Punjab, private dealers abound. There is no Beverages Corporation that holds monopoly over sale of wines and spirits. Thus, in the land of five rivers you find thriving in the business the likes of Gill Brothers, Bajaj and Co., Chaddha group and may other small timers. Add to that shops which would rather go with the the plain and straight forward 'English Beer and Wine', the 'Country Beer and Liquor' offering the native style and traditional touch and the all encompassing 'A to Z Liquors'.

If there were any statistic for number of booze shop in a given unit of area, I am pretty sure Punjab will trump all. While the shops in Kerala almost blend in to the background, almost indistinguishable from other establishments but for the long and disciplined queue, Punjabi booze shops make it a point to stand out. They are well lit and neon and other luminary mechanisms are employed to proudly display their names, their purpose and the various brands they happen to possess. They stand out from the rest of the crowd of shops and the very appearance seems to invite every passer by to drop in for a drink, or at least take a bottle or two for the folks at home.

Then I went to Chandigarh.

I went on a long distance route plying bus, part of a bigger scheme of things named PunBus. The bus ride puts on display for you the many features of Punjab, including the wheat fields and the booze shops I have mentioned above. Chandigarh is roughly, a two hour ride from Ludhiana and it is a pleasure to be in the planned city.

Much of the tourism potential of Chandigarh lies in the fact that it is India's first planned city. In a nation which is not exactly famous for planning, being orderly or any other virtue in the same category, Chandigarh comes as a refreshing whiff of fresh air. When one enters in to the city, it is like a whole new world. One feels like Alice, or like those kids in Narnia. It is a place truly apart from the rest of the country, a haven of the orderly and the neat. one gets a feeling of being in a well maintained place, where the roads are spick and span and there is not much traffic, pollution or any sort of hurrying. One could eat of the pavements in Chandigarh. It came as no surprise to me when a signboard told me that Chandigarh was found to be the cleanest and greenest city in India.

One can see Le Corbusier's genius through out the city, in its well planned roads, aptly situated structures and a general look of lush greenery and a spirit of relaxation. Of course, there are spaces at certain points where you can almost see Le Corbusier thinking, "Now what will I do with that 30 cents? I already have three parks. Enough with planting trees. Oh dash it, we will just allow people to park their carriages and horses there. Humph!". The place is a marvel.

Chandigarh has many parks and grounds were people (mostly old people and tourists) can relax, while away time and bask in the sunshine when it is not too hot. There are umpteen gardens and other places that exhibit flora. It is as if when Corbusier was at his charts, plotting out a road here, a legislative council there, a couple of associates came up and said, "It would be nice to have a garden of rose, some acres where there is nothing but rose, in all colours, in full glory...", only to be cut off by the next man who thought there was nothing like bougainvilleas and any city without a bougainvillea garden was not worthy to be called a city. Tired of all these rants, Corbusier seemed to have made each man;s wish come true with various gardens here and there, of roses, bougainvilleas and many other flowers.

One of the biggest attractions of Chandigarh is the Rock Garden, a forty acre expanse built entirely from home and industrial wastes in to a charming and innovative spectacle. The vast maze like structure was built secretly by Nek Chand Saini an was finally discovered by the government in 1975. They had the sense to recognise a good thing when they saw one and took the garden in to their own hands and made it a major tourist spot. It is a breathtaking place, where one wonders about the sheer audacity of the idea, the huge proportions of the place only adding to the bewildering charm.

Punjab is a great place to be in, though it was cold as freezer during the time I was there. I escaped before January set in and Mother Nature really cranked up the iciness. Of course, it is all compensated with the melting heat of the summer. Punjab certainly was a great place to visit, though I am not sure I am ever going up there again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Loose in Ludhiana

Last week, I shipped myself off with the mater to Ludhiana, where the brave people of the Christian Medical College attempts to make my sister the absolute terror and harbinger of doom to millions of people. In simple words, the job would be called a dentist. Ludhiana, as you may know, lies in the state of Punjab; as north as North India gets if you were to cough surreptitiously, scratch your nose and forget about Jammu and Kashmir.

The transport mechanisms in place in India made it pretty hard for me to get to Ludhiana, probably in the altruistic thought that the farther away I am from my sister the better. The whole procedure was done in several steps. First, I had to take a flight to Delhi, about which I was pretty psyched. It is not everyday that one gets to board an aircraft, let alone one with in-flight entertainment options. If one were not traveling through a travel package offered by one's parents' employers, I would advise them to take a train out to Delhi, which would take you three days if you are lucky.

Once I landed in Delhi in one piece, I was required to reach the New Delhi Railway station to take a train, mysteriously branded as an express, to Ludhiana. Once you reach the railway station, it is as easy to reach the college in question as it is to learn to ride a pantomime horse. You sit in the assigned seat, in the case of reaching the college, the seat is in an auto rickshaw, and get out when you have had enough.

Ludhiana is a bustling city of considerable proportions. Like that oft repeated cliche on India, Ludhiana has two faces- Old Ludhiana, where the streets are narrow and markets are smelly, and New Ludhiana where there are swanky malls and the wide well laid roads are dotted by Audis and BMWs. As it was, I did not get to see much of either as I was largely cooped up in my cell (officially known as Guest Room 2) with the outside temperature at 13 degree centigrade. The mercury dropped to 5 when the solar steeds fled with Helios' chariot.

The College itself is a small place and is more like a boarding school than a college, though if you were to ask me the difference between the two I would have slink off slyly. The place is infested with Mallus; there are more Mallus there than there are types of cheese in France. Once you enter the hallowed gates of CMC, that is almost the only thing you can hear. You walk around and you hear familiar strains of the language. At first, you think to yourself, "Aha, us Mallus are everywhere". Then you hear it by the canteen, from underneath a few trees and some excited whispering from shady nooks and corners and you think, "Well, that is really a lot of Mallus. Good for them". After a couple of hours, you realise that the place is virtually a district of Kerala that happened to be in Punjab due to a quirk of fate.

It is slightly on the disconcerting side when you have lived your whole life in a certain place, then wound up in a class constituted majorly by the people of the above mentioned state and then go to Punjab to find that the same old folks have set up base camp there too. One tends to wonder as to the whereabouts of variety and whether spice has been totally eliminated from life.

Elsewhere in Ludhiana, I sullied with my presence a department store and something caught between a mall and a department store as the female contingent of the family went about shopping, willing stuff to drop off the shelves into their baskets.

One thing that really caught my attention in Ludhiana was the almost total absence of buses in the city. You could not find a local bus if you went about with a magnifying glass on all fours. The bulk of the local transport is on what is known as 'share autos', where auto rickshaws are like small buses; they ply a route and you can get on if if you are on the same route and there is space to sit, all for five or ten bucks. There are buses of course, but they all ply to other cities like Chandigarh or Amritsar. If you want to go from the railway station to someone's place a couple of kilometers away, you would not find a bus to save your life.

Then of course, there are cycle rickshaws, where old, dilapidated and probably malnourished old men pedal like there is not tomorrow, bearing you on equally dilapidated seats in the back. On humanitarian grounds, I refused to board those contraptions, though once again the female contingent showed no remorse in doing so. Doubtless, they will throw the economic side of the issue at me, arguing how we are depriving the old men of a livelihood and their family of bread by refusing to solicit them.

Ludhiana is probably vast and rolls on for kilometers and kilometers but I preferred to stay cooped up in my cold cell and think of the Thar desert. Except when I got lost, coming back from Chandigarh. But that is another story for another day.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Film Festival- Wish I Were Here

The International Film Festival of Kerala, 2010 kicks off today here in Trivadrum and I am sure it will be a rocking show. Today's newspapers are filled with details about various movies that are to be screened in this eight day gala and the whole affair brings back to me pleasant memories from 2009, when I was a regular delegate at various cinema halls across the city during the film festival.

This year, I shall not be infesting the seats at the venues owing to my forced absence from the city for a considerable part of the festival. Seeing the pictures and the news in newspapers makes me wish I was at Trivandrum from the 10th to the 17th. However, blood being considerably more viscous than water, I am forced to ship off to Ludhiana to see my sister. Agreeable trip, one might say, except that it forces me to give the festival a miss in the bulk.

Last year, 2009, I attended the IFFK on every single day, sometimes delicately jumping over hurdles such as protests by my parents and....umm.. yea, protests by my parents. Some really good films and a general atmosphere of bonhomie and goodwill at the film festival more than made up for everything, indulging me and my eyes in some visual delight.

The films were as varied and different as the mornig birds cries on a Saturday morning at an Indian village, truly proving that variety is the spice of life. The films were from various parts of the globe- the quintessential Iranian movies featuring some great stories and actors, Eastern European ones showcasing the unique socio-political climate of a region caught between two blocs, South Asian movies reflecting the social issues such as poverty and corruption that have become everyday occurances, Latin American movies rich in colour and detail, African movies that throw some light in to the dark continent... The list is pretty huge and not one that sticks to my sieve like memory. It suffices to say that the festival opened to me vistas and windows that to which I may not have had another opportunity. It threw open before me a whole new canvas called Art Artis Gratia. Art for Art's sake.

If you read the papers around here you may garner many nuggets of information such as how the IFFK often focusses on the Third World, or how its movies often feature a socially relevant theme, or how it is one of the best film festivals in the country. But what clinches the deal for an average movie watcher like me who does not possess an intricate and in depth knowledge of movies and the way they are made is the atmosphere that prevails at the festival. It is not a festival where VIP delegates parade themselves in the theatres, watching movies and commenting on how deep the theme is or how the director has managed to inculcate the intricacies and delicacies of turbulence of the protagonist's mind.

It is, for a major part, an informal affair. A place where anyone is welcome and everyone with a pass can go in, grab a seat and watch till their eyes drop. A certain feeling of bonhomie and goodwill, an almost bohemian atmosphere prevails around the place while the city attempts to be at its best behaviour for eight days.

I will never forget the day, when I had to skip breakfast at home in my hurry to reach a theatre in time and, after a movie that lasted for two and a half hours at the Kalabhavan, skipping across the road to feast on some suptuous biriyani at Azad. If there ever was a heaven on earth, it was then and there.

IFFK 2010 promises a great deal and if it is anything like 2009 edition, I am sure it will be a great show. The pictures in the newspapers makes me wish I could stay, but alas, one cannot hope to have everything in life. May be, in 2011. More movies, more biriyanis.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Local Adventures

Chapter 1

On a dark lonely Thursday night, I was set up in my base camp (also known as The Unused for Ages Room in the House) trying to figure out what purpose mining camps and mills served in a game of Age of Empires. Cutting in to the silence (a silence whose perfect nature was periodically cut in to by the trumpet calls of AI wanting to attack me), something went “Ringgg, Ringgg”, an object I quickly identified as my mobile phone.

Pressing the green button, my aural nerves were greeted to a sound that said “Basil James”, in a sort of leery and creepy voice one would associate with one of those apparitions in a Shakespearen play. The voice belonged to my friend Gooth (I am glad to say that leery, creepy voice was something he put on and not a natural condition). He wanted to inform me about some quiz at the Mar Ivanios College in Trivandrum.

I knew the iota of a quizzer remaining within me would force me to put on some pants and go for the binge with my long time partner Achu.

Chapter 2

As you may have divined from a long association with me (or short association, depending on your luck), I am a native of Trivandrum. One of the afflictions the place has gathered over the years (or charms, depending on the way you look at it) is its tendency to decide once in while that its residents should keep off transport every now and then. The city (if one may call it so) seems to be of the opinion that its people should take frequent holidays from traveling to certain locations and instead lean back and put their feet up.

While you may not find a man anywhere near this place who is a bigger proponent of leaning back and putting one's feet up, the attitude the city takes can be tiresome when one really needs to get something done.

The quizzer in me kept its date and prodded me until I lifted myself up from a cosy bed and got myself in to a presentable form. I set out for the quiz at Mar Ivanios. I have been on the road to Mar Ivanios so many times in my life, the place being a frequent destination while I was in school, I am pretty sure I could drive a three tyred car without a windshield to the place in my sleep. Therefore, I was pretty surprised when the conductor of the bus I was in motioned me to get off at a stop more than a kilometer away from my destination. “But this is not the place!”, I tried arguing. The conductor acceded to my argument.

Upon the submission of a relevant query, I was informed by the man in charge that buses need roads to move on and the point on which we were at the moment was all the road that could be obtained there in the near future.

Left to walk more than a kilometer, I surveyed the landscape. I felt like one of those half-hearted explorers looking at the Amazon from their jeeps deep in the jungle. It was a vast expanse of light brown, a colour that one would particularly desire not to find on tarmac. I set foot, hoping for the best and less than adequately prepared for the best. Hoping for the best was soon proved to be a bad decision as I was forced to hop from less muddy spot to less muddy spot, avoiding the more slushy parts in the interest of a semblance of cleanliness, which as you may know is next to a semblance of godliness.

Now I knew how one of Noah's sons would have felt after the great rain and floods. Only that, in my case it appeared that there had been a steady and heavy downpour of hot melted chocolate. What used to be roads were now unrecognisable masses of slush. Hiroshima would have looked better after August 6, 1945.

I did the best I could, but still managed to get considerable amount of mud and other brown coloured, Flying Spaghetti Monster knows what, stuff on me. By then my feet could have merged with the ground and no questions asked. With a crushed spirit, extinct dignity and really muddy feet I walked in to Mar Ivanios College.

Chapter 3

The quiz I was supposed to be taking part in was a part of a much larger orgy, known as Elixir 2010. It was “a pan Indian Economic fest” according to the Department of Economics of the college, the organisers. If nothing, they surely revolutionised the meaning of 'pan Indian'.

While the people who had turned up for the quiz were whiling away their time waiting for the binge to start, I was somehow shepherded in to a hall were, I was promised, I would be treated to some high quality debate by the best talents across the country. Though I took the last part of the last sentence with a liberal dose of sodium chloride, my expectations were at a reasonable level. The topic of the debate was whether a better model for developing nations was India or China.

Some excerpts from the event.

Some dude trying to attack China on the one child policy:- “The birth of the childrens of the country have been suppressed.....”

Some other dude trying to point out India's internal security problems:- Are you saying that Maoists have some blatant ideals?”.

Meanwhile two dudes got in to feverishly hot argument about which nation was better. They argued for so long that seasons changed outside; the old rector died and was replaced. They banged tables and spanked the air. They took threatening stances, like the poses people in M&M movies strike just before the major stunt sequence in the market. They traded arguments. Things seemed such a level that the guy in favour of India addressed India as 'my country' and China as 'your country'. The dude representing China too resorted to a similar nomenclature.

The moderator kept trying to get a word in sideways. Warning bells and final bells rang galore. No one seemed to pay heed. The audience tried to clap the contestants off their trivial fight. They shrugged it off. At that moment, I decided I had witnessed enough debate to last a couple of lifetimes. I slowly slinked off.

Chapter 4

It is almost 24 hours since Gooth called me. I can hear my mom shouting incessantly in the background about something I cannot decipher. I seem to be the guilty party. Like those debating dudes, I pay no heed. Rather, I turn my attention to what the Mountain Goats have to say about the best ever death metal band out of Denton. Oh, how I wish my phone would ring now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Writers' Club

This was something I had to write for a creative writing assignment. Thought I would put it up here as well.

Psychedelic lighting. Smoke rose up in helices, withering away into random parts of my room. Outside, the general hullabaloo of hostel life made itself faintly heard. But almost all sounds were drowned out by the great buzzing of four brains, one of which was mine. Desperate times called for some desperate thinking, and, as a wise man once said, four heads are better than one.

The humdrum of academic life throws an occasional spanner or two in to the works of any student. Such a blip had occurred in mine when an assignment to write a short story proved to be particularly difficult. It was time for the rescue team to get down to its act and in this case the team materialised in the form of three friends who were particularly jobless that night.

Smoke continued to rise, the distinctive smell of a particular member of the flora becoming more and more pronounced.

“So”, I said. “Gentlemen, you have gathered here to bail me out of a sticky situation and I will need all that you have got to set matters straight”, I rambled like a Mafia don addressing his cronies. In a few more words, I described the situation at hand and the acute case of writer’s block that had kicked me in the crotch and nullified all efforts so far.

“Bottomline is, gimme a story”.

The brains continued to whir, like some great machinery at a factory, beating all other aural competition hands down. Anyone walking along that corridor could have been forgiven for thinking that they had been suddenly transported to Jamshedpur or some place where they indulge in such activities.

It was some time before the wheels slowed down for fuel, the machinery slowly winding to a halt.

“What exactly are you looking for?”, asked Dawg.
“I don’t know. Anything”.
“I mean, like comedy, sci-fi, dadaist....”
“Anything, Dawg. Anything”, I said, trying not to sound desperate.

The whirring and the buzzing forced itself back in to the scene, though periodically intercepted by random half baked suggestions such as “Dude, I read this book recently....”, “How about you try....” and even “Macha, have you seen Enthiran?”.

Things were far from rosy. It was everything but rosy. If a five year old kid had asked her dad what rosy meant, he would have pointed to our situation and said anything that is not this is rosy. In short it was bad.

“You know, if you want you can be this dark, deep guy. Shady past, murky future. That kind of thing”, suggested The Dude.

I had not planned on that, but it was a start and the best one so far. I took it.

“Angry young man or disillusioned guy dabbling in myriad illegal activities?”, asked The Dude.
“I prefer the latter”, I grinned.
“He can frequent the shady circles of the city, scavenging for Flying Spaghetti monster knows what, unable to satisfy the inner cravings of his soul with the dire pleasures the city offers. He seeks nirvana”.
“Bimbos and booze bore him. Cannabliss is all too common. What he wants, no one knows”.

We sat open mouthed. straining our ears to catch every last syllable of the words that were dropping from The Dude’s lips. Pearls they were.

"And he is all angst ridden, ok", said Dawg, taking up from where The Dude left off. "Can't speak for thirty seconds without saying the f word or the c word four times. His mind is like one of those whirlpools I saw on Discovery channel. You fill up his dialogues with such stuff,dude. He hops from woman to woman like a bee in a coterie of orchids. Our man should be a gun totting, rum guzzling, weed smoking metro sexual womanizer. The whole story should be around as clean as Suresh Kalmadi".

“And then he meets this awesome girl somewhere. Her eyes are as blue as the skies above and as deep as the ocean below”, chipped in S.

A bit of background on S. S had one ultimate aim in life- to start a little known, and possibly innovative venture known as the Gift Shoppee. Till date, no one knows exactly what this bit of entrepreneurship involves. Like my protagonist, it too has a murky future. But many and complex are the vagaries of life and S had some how ended up in college.

“I know!”. S jumped up excitedly. “Our hero is in a Gift Shoppee, checking out some tribal beads from Nagaland. Amidst the strings of beads that hang there, his eyes meets those of this girl. Both of them are going for the same string of Naga bead. A collision is imminent. Strong situation, don’t you think? One complete with romance and mystery. Thrilling”.

Three pairs of eyes looked at him in pretty much the same way they would look at a particularly foul smelling trash can. That he had lost it was the general consensus.

“Dude, shut up!”, interjected The Dude. “Bring a girl in to it. Yes. So far you are talking sense. But what is all these crap about Gift Shoppees?”

“Yeah, no Gift Shoppees”, I agreed. “Girls, yes. Definitely. How do we move on from there?”
“You appadiya insert a couple of paragraphs about how your hero hangs out with the girl and flirts with her. The hero can tell her a couple of Commonwealth Games jokes. They are mighty funny and gives the impression that you and your protagonist are intellectuals who are concerned about the fact that the country is going to the dogs.”

Once again, I was awestruck. I was this close to drafting an agreement with The Dude to make him ghost write for me for eternity.

Dawg had another brain wave.

“You can end that sequence with our hero kissing the girl or something like that. Hold on as long as the censors will allow. Then you got to decide whether the you let the camera shift focus to the shining lake, the fragrant flowers and the chirping birds or call a spade a spade”.

I was left to ruminate on why life keeps throwing such tough nuts at me to crack while in the background S said something about the two being alone in the back of a Gift Shoppee. By the time I told him to shut up, he was describing how the owner of the Gift Shoppee would walk in on them and say “Ain't a thang, dawg”.

The next half an hour witnessed a downpour of random ideas that had varying degrees of relevance to my story. It was what is known in literary circles as constipation of thoughts in a diarrhea of words. I put a couple of feet down on the issue but had almost no effect. I might as well as had tried to summon the sun to my backyard at midnight. Its pretty amazing how fast some people can talk. Its almost impossible to get a word in sideways.

I don’t know what happened next. Everything seemed to grow dark and heavy. Words hit me, like the pitter patter of rain on an asbestos sheet. I felt as if someone had tied lead ingots to my eyelids. It was a futile attempt to keep them upright.

Sunlight petered in under my door, looking to the left and right apprehensively, as if in doubt whether it actually belonged there. A plethora of alarms sounded in my room, which after a long battle, finally caught the attention of my aural nerves. Something hairy was shaking me awake.

I opened my left eyelid. Dawg. Things began falling in place as memories from last night came back, slowly but steadily.

“What happened to your story dude?”

Five minutes later, I was typing away rapidly on a laptop, much like a woodpecker on a tree. I knew I was not going to make much of an impression with my makeshift attempt but something had to better than nothing.

“Dawg. I need a rocking first line to start my story”.
“You start with something like ‘Let’s legalise marijuana’. Anything will be cool, bhai”.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's been going on

If you belong to that extremely small class of people who diligently follow this blog, you may have noticed that it has been pretty static. General laziness combined with not having a laptop to myself and some Shaastra work led to this lack of dynamism in this space.

Speaking about Shaastra, this tech extravaganza is from September 29th to October 3rd this year and promises to be one grand event. It is gonna be bigger and better this time, especially as we have a title sponsor and all this time. And just in case you chance to drop by Shaastra 2010, do not forget to attend the IIT Madras Symposium on Education in Rural India. The event itself promises to be really good, even though the meetings we have to decide stuff for it just won the Most Boring Thing Ever World Cup. So make an effort and do come by.

As usual, despite my best efforts to swim against the tide, I have been caught up in the current of academics and curriculum. Badly beaten and bruised I am after a few quizzes, but I am still kicking.

Keep watching this space for more stuff. I am beginning to get super busy now. Not a state I am particularly fond of.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On the road- Ernakulam

Ok, First things first. This place I went to is around 40 or 50 kilometers away from Cochin or Ernakulam town. By Ernakulam, I mean just the Ernakulam district. The vast number of villages, hamlets and towns are the stuff under discussion when I say Ernakulam.

Now that we have got past that formalities, lets get down straight to the brass tacks.

As some of you may know, I was in Trichur for a day before I decided to shift ho and move a wee bit down south. Somewhere in the district of Ernakulam lies a small village and in that my Dad's place. It is one of those quintessential villages that one reads about- cut off from much of the world, dense expanse of greenery all around the place, small houses dotting the landscape, tea shops scattered around the area and generally giving off an old world charm.

It is a tough job to be able to get to the place, one having to grace a train and at least three buses to set foot in the village. Armed with the awesomely funny Stephen Fry, I set about to tackle this dangerous and tough task. I do not remember much about the train except for the fact that the mirth and jolly nature I was prone to exhibit courtesy Mr. Fry was not at all well received. I could sense a strong desire among my co-passengers to write to Ms. Banerjee about it.

I got off at the Alwaye railway station, a small but busy station which somehow seems to recite to one Longfellow's poem "A Psalm of Life". The walls seem to shout out "Life is real, Life is earnest And the grave is not its goal". Buses were boarded on and the familiar sights of the district drunk in as the miles were eaten up. In less than an hour I was a mere 10 kilometers from my destination, looking for a bus that would finally take me there.

After hunting around for anything with wheels that would go anywhere near where I wanted to be, I finally found a bus which actually had my destination printed on the board near the windshield. Surprise! Too good to be true, thought I, a thought I would regret later. I boarded the bus heartily, joyous at having a bus that could take me to my destination in one piece.

I knew the bus ride would be pretty long, so I was content to just gaze out of the window once I had a ticket, continuing to feast on the sights, just ensuring that they were familiar. A latent fear that I may have erred still persisted. Happily proved wrong.

Thirty minutes in to the ride, I reached what can be called a proper village area of the district, the stereotypical signs of a typical village put on show. I was aware that my place was still some miles off so I resumed my feasting/drinking.

Now, the thing about these Kerala villages is that they are so small that it is perfectly possible to trip over one and land on another a few miles apart. This is exactly what I proceeded to do.

Almost an hour after I had boarded the bus, I reached a junction from where it was just a matter of a five minute walk to reach my destination. Some inner voice told me I should do so. However, another inner voice told me "Dude, this bus goes to YOUR place. It may take a longer route, but it will eventually deposit you at the doorstep. Stay on". In the ten seconds that the bus stopped at that junction the two inner voices did the angel and devil on the shoulders act. Even before any conclusion could be arrived at, the bus moved. Now that the former of the inner voice was rendered null by forces outside my control, I had no choice but to retain my seat.

The bus sped on.

Another half an hour later, the population of the bus had dwindled down to three. The bus had not taken any major deviations so far, something I expected it to do since it was supposed to go right till my place. Five minutes. One more person off. By this time, we had moved on to the deepest and darkest corners of the land. Another five minutes. I was the last person on the bus.

The conductor walked up to me and asked where I wanted to go. I provided the needful. "Eh?", he said. I explained my destination in some detail. A wtf expression sparked onto his face. He explained that I was as close to my destination as Edison was to Tesla.

I got off in the middle of nowhere with only my legs to serve as locomotion.

It was nearing seven and there were very few streetlights on the village road. I started walking in a direction I deemed to be right and five minutes alter chanced on to some population. Asking for directions, I continued, repeating the exercise whenever I came across a few fauna.

At last, when it seemed like my legs would go into coma, I reached a junction. I asked some people for the place which hosted my destination. "This is exactly that place", they said.

Fuck. There were two roads, one to the right and one to the left. None seemed familiar, not even in some long forgotten dream. The chances that I would have to retrace my steps if I took either road were roughly equal. Sensing my helplessness, someone asked, "Do you want to go to the church"? It was a lead, a slender one at that. I replied in the affirmative. I was informed that the road to the right led to the place of worship.

With all fortitude I could muster, I took the road to the left.

Ten minutes of walking later, I came upon familiar territory, from where it was child's play to reach my Dad's place. I reached the house drenched, parched and bewildered.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When I hit the road- Trichur

It so happened that quite a few of my relatives, to whom I hadn't spoken for months, suddenly wanted to see me, a final glance before I shipped off to college 708kms away. Generally reluctant to tear myself off from the computer and the television, I put off the visit for quite some time until the final weekend of my long holidays. Forced by circumstances beyond my control, a three day itinerary was planned and I set off.

First stop: Trichur. This place is also known as Thrissur. This city hosts the well-known coaching centre run by a certain Mr. P.C Thomas which used to be all the rage among those engineering and medicine aspirants and still is somewhat of a rage. Competitiors have cut into their business, but the going is still good. It is in this abode of learning (also referred to as 'prison house') that my dear sister pursues her ambition to be a doctor or paramedic or just anybody in a white coat and stethescope hanging from the neck.

Trichur is a delightful place. It is a small city, may be only slightly smaller than Trivandrum. But its charm lies in the fact that it is infinitely more friendly and welcoming than many other places I have been to in Kerala. Their delightful accents, lavish smiles and grins and a generally happy outlook on life make interacting with the very few people I interact with, a pleasure. One yardstick I have to judge a city is how the auto drivers behave. Auto drivers in Trichur are a more chatty lot than those in Trivandrum and Cochin and effuse a warmth and glow that is hard to find elsewhere. Their chatter is not intrusive and neither is it cocky garbage. They somehow engage their travellers in friendly small talk which, like the Thai Airways, is smooth as silk. If someone told me Dale Carnegie had conducted an extensive lecture tour in Trichur ages ago, I would not be surprised. Most importantly, when the meter shows Rs.18 at the end of a journey, the Trichur auto driver charges you exactly Rs.18, unlike the Trivandrum driver who charges you Rs.25, the Cochin driver who charges you Rs.27 and very much unlike the Chennai driver who may not have a running meter but charges you Rs.70 anyway.

Trichur leaves you in no doubt as to which state you are in at the moment (of India that is. Not solid, liquid etc.)- a few red flags on various posts interrupted by tricolours sans the ashoka chakra, prominently placed and extremely busy Beverages Corporation stores and an unfinished flyover. A six month old retard of a kid could tell you that you are in Kerala (soon to be, Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid, Keralam). The former and the latter sights especially show how the city has managed to progress into the future (or at least the present) while ensuring that its past is safe and intact.

Interestingly, Trichur has many good shops, well lit and swanky, that provide some great shopping experiences. They are convenient, well-stocked and generally caters to all sections of the society.

Now to the most important point. Chicks. Next time you are left with just your bottom fifty paise, I advice you to invest that in a wager with some goof convincing the goof to bet against the hotness quotient of the female population of the city. If you would take my word on anything, take it on this. They are smokin'.

There ended my trip to Trichur. In hindsight, especially in the light emanated by some hot stuff in the city, it was a great trip.

There is more to my trip, but I must be off now. Or hell reigns.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Response

A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday, I chanced upon a column in a Malayalam daily, titled 'Avoid being a Fool'(translated). Thought prvoking, eh? Eye ball grabbing, no doubt. My thought was thus prvoked and my eye balls grabbed and dragged to the paper and soon I found myself nestled in a sofa, paper in hand. The column called 'Today's Food for Thought' (translated) is written by some guy with the initials T.J.J, whom I later found to be Fr. Dr. T.J Joshua. Then, right on the next day, I happened to lay my eyes on an article by some doctor dude called Iain Smith who, in some online mag called 'Health News', said that an alcoholic nature killed and stifled many of our creative geniuses.

To the uninitiated, a brief description of the former. The article is a staunch denouncement of social drinking, or any type of drinking for that matter, and it urges its readers, the youth in particular, to follow the straight and narrow path of teetotalitarianism.

It is now a commonly known fact that alcohol in dilute aqueous solution, when taken in to the human body, acts a depressant rather than a stimulant. The intelligent layman, when faced with some important work, seldom reverts to the bottle. S/he resorts to it after the business is done, when s/he can rest and afford some leisure. S/he indulges in it to realease in his taut nerves and let off some of the steam in the spleen.

If time is the great healer, then alcohol is most certainly the great simplifier. It reduces and simplifies emotions. It raises the threshold of sensitivity and phases out the the partucluarly unpleasent ones. It puts a brake upon all those qualities which enable us to rise and shine before our fellow men- combativeness, diligence, ambitiona and the like. Rather, it brings out the qualities that make us loved among other homo sapien sapiens- amiablitily, humour, sympathy and the ilk.

A man who has knocked back a couple of cocktails is barely capable of launching a missile strike against Pakistan, to formulate the budget of a state, to cut off a leg or to conduct Bach's B minor mass. But S/he is infinitely more capable than a sober person to admire a pretty girl, entertain a dinner party or to hear Bach's B minor mass. The harsh, useful things are done by men who are as sober as so many prisoners in the Tihar Jail, but the lovely and useless things are best left to people with more than a couple of sheets in the wind. Pithencathropus erectus was a teetotaler but you can bet your bottom 50 paise that the angels know what is proper at 5 p.m.

Back to the afore-mentioned article. The reverend seems hell bent on equating celebrations with the state of drunkenness. He quotes a few occassions he was invited to where he witnessed people of coming together in great spirits to enjoy good spirits. At this point, I would like to chastise those dudes and dudettes. Who on earth invites a priest to a booze party?

Not content with sermonizing on the evil nature of the liquid, he goes on to lecture about the increased drinking habits among youthful women, subtly bringing out all the entrenched sexism and conservatism in that old mind. The reverend diverts from his topic of the drunken nature of all into the drinking habits of the fairer sex. He goes on to mock this as 'women proving they can do what men do and better' (translated). Really T.J.J, if you want to lecture on drinking, stick to that. Why bring in such blatant stereotypes.

I suppose all human life is divided between those who order by the crate and those who assume that sherry trifle leads to everlasting bonfire and never the twain shall meet except on the sodden battle fields of 'Health News'. You are on one side Doc and all those creative geniuses and I are on the other. My own conclusion would be drastically different. If Hemingway, Beethoven and Van Gogh had not been constant business for bootleggers, they would not have been half the men they turned out to be. If those great men had stuck to orange juice as instructed by the nearest medics in their localities, Hemingway would have thrown in the towel at 'The Sun Also Rises'. Ludwig would have said "Chopsticks is pretty good. Enough. Genugschein" Van Gogh would have stopped when he sold "The Red Vineyard in Arles". And then , where would we have been?

It is no accident of fate, if you believe in such things, that all such men have laboured under the shadow of the corkscrew. Some, like Keats and Coleridge chose to go for the opiates. How else are these giants to survive against pygmies, make the everyday and mundane tolerable and favourable to those whirring intellects, to tone down the effects of numbing normalcy?

How must Old Vince have felt when he woke up one morning to find that the red enamels had all gone mouldy, the cat had knocked over most of the remaining over the only clean canvas he had and the landlady was shouting in anger about the increase in the price of vermicelli?

What thoughts would have gone through Hemingway's prolific mind when he, full of characters, situations, clever lines and much of the spare, tightly written prose buzzing about in his head, found that stationery store across the street from which he had planned to get fresh paper in the morning was closed because the proprietor had contrated German measles?

Worst of all, people like you, T.J.J and Dr. Smith, were constantly nagging Beethoven to get on with his bloody music, what about a couple of symphonies to follow up the ninth, shouldn't take more than an hour or two, the prime minister's birthday is coming up next week and he has requested a special performance, no fees naturally, and oh, I almost forgot, my wife's sister's son plays the triangle, not professionally though, but we all think he is rather good, so I have arranged a little dinner party next Friday so that you can have an opportunity to listen to him, all about unearthing new talent, haha!

I know from first hand experience that alcohol, in contrast with popular opinion, instills love and consideration in the heart of every human being. When full of the stuff, their hearts overflow with the milk of human kindness and their bowels are full of sympathy and compassion. Not a violent thought or act crosses their minds or bodies. They are all for world piece and nirvana. All this is so obvious that I am amazed that no utopian has ever proposed a world system by which every single person is gently stewed, mildly brewed. In my opinion, humble of course, in such a state a person exhibits all the qualities that make him/her toast of the society.

All the great villanies of history, from the murder of Abel to the Treaty of Versailles to the Babri Masjid have been perpetuated by sober men and chiefly by teetotalers. But all the charming things in the world, from Jeeves to 'With Malice Towards One and All', from the nine Beethovan symphonies to the Martini cocktail have been given to mankind by people who, when the hour came, turned from pipe water to something with colour in it and more in it than mere hydrogen and oxygen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On the Internship

Some of you may have been aware that I did an internship at The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India) in June. Uncharacteristic of me, said some on recieving the news. 'Finally at work, eh?' sneered a few other acquaintances. Anyway, I put my nose to the grindstone for a month and embarked on what some would describe as a roller coaster ride. I would not though. I would describe it as bungee jumping.

I, humbly and politely, offered my services to The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India) upon which they sent me a few forms to fill. In that I filled in a lot of garbage, directed them to this blog and informed them of the general trend of ideas in my head. All these should have qualified as reasons not to grant me an opportunity and so I was pleasantly surprised when they said "Welcome, Basil James" as if they were goddamn Gmail. I think the promptness with which I dispatched a DD for a grand as they had instructed may have tipped the balance in my favour.

Soon they sent me a brochure which proclaimed in red "Thou shall not plagiarise" and went on to say that I would be damned and consigned to the deepest and darkest hell with immortal worms and burning fires if I dared to so much as lift a single comma from anywhere. They then proceeded to tell me that I was now a member of a huge international family (six nations to be exact) and was welcomed to feel at home. Demonstrating to me that they do have lawyers at the office of The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India), I was informed sternly and strictly that I was, under no condition,to shirk my duty or walk out on them.

"Clause 6. Some clause that".

"May I read Clause 6?".

"No, don't read Clause 6. It is much better that you do not. You wouldn't sleep nights. You can take it from me that they are some penalties. Haha!".

"Oh. Would I be taken for a ride?".

The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India) smiled quietly but deeply.

With that the welcoming and ingratiating cermony came to an end and we moved on to the brass tacks. They sent me a list of topics, twelve to be exact, on which they wanted articles from me in June. They gave me the freedom to choose topics randomly from the list and so I decided to go with topics 1, 2 and 3 for the first week.

First up was an ad review, my first assignment for the self proclaimed 'Voice of the Youth of India'. I had no problems in becoming a note or two in that booming voice and I followed up with an article about football in my home state of Kerala. It irked me somewhat that the Ed was determined to change the titles I gave my articles, but I could always give and take a bit.

Two weeks of frentic writing ensued on a number of topics. The thing had transformed itself, almost overnight, into a job rather than some useful and interesting mechanism I had found to pass time. It seemed there was some international conspiracy to throw a spanner in to my works as the World Cup came along in the middle of June. It meant that evenings were completely booked, leaving only sleepy mornings for me to fill the web page of The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India). The silver lining in that very dark cloud was that I forced myself to write an article about the Cup in deep sleep. The article was somewhat crappy. It was at this juncture that I realised the Ed would publish most of anything I wrote, regardless of its quality. Not exactly an encouraging thought for me. If I had been running The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India), I would have been extremely reluctant to publish that article. Some underworld don mistaking me for a long forgotten son, I imagine.

Meanwhile, the outside world moved on in its usual fashion and found an inopportune time to butt into me.The tide of events swept me away from my laptop for two whole days, leaving me with close to five hours to write a book review. I was reading Prem Panicker's Bhimsen at that time and with ample help from Binny's blog, I wrote a review. Decent, I thought, if you overlook the reliance on Binny part. I had entered a phase where I rated my article according to my own intellect rather than whether anyone deigned to publish it.

A movie review came next. I dished out the needful without making much ado. Almost all of the few drops of goodwill inside me instilled by the internship had now evaporated under the burning sun of frustration and twenty three bumbling Enlishmen in South Africa. I did not have much cause to be disgruntled and I fancy I wasn't, but I certainly wasn't gruntled. The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India) was not turning out into an establishment I particularly like anymore. Like Gordon Brown, I felt under-valued.

Then came a period in which I kept writting articles on the topics the Ed wanted, but none of them saw the light of the day in the normal time it would take to publish an article. I took out Quality through the back door and shot it in the face. Finally, an article about Maoists got published, breaking a hiatus of almost a week. Quality, once again, made sure people remembered it through its absence. The Ed badly needs to take a course on how to keep its interns, who churn out THREE articles a week, happy.

My next assignment was to write about a disease that affected the youth. I had a gigantic urge to write about Internshipitis, but found out that it did not even have a wiki page, thus rendering the initiative impossible. Another crappy article in the form of an article about about dementia praecox resulted.

I got more pissed at the Ed's habit of changing the titles I gave my articles and substituting them with inane ones. It happened in the case of the Maoist article and then more blatantly in my article on the prospects a chef in the modern world has. I gave it the title 'Whats cookin'?'. The Ed changed it to 'How to become a Chef'.

Things went up hill from there. Although, at that point, I was feeling things could go only up hill from there. An article about an imaginary cat, one about the environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill splashing my name across the roster.

Fortunes changed, as they always do. Two decent pieces about the Greek Debt Crisis and Stem Cell research rejuvenated my spirit and Basil was smiling again.

The month of June wore to a close and I was relieved. I fired off my final assignment, a travelogue. I knew it would prove to be tricky, as I had not travelled to any place worth talking about in recent memory. Inspired by Road Trip, I fabricated a road trip to Kanyakumari and it too duly got published.

I was thus left in peace to enjoy the last eleven days of the World Cup. In retrospect, I guess the internship was an useful thing to do. If anything, it forced me to do some research and spend some time on Wikipedia. Some stuff like the article on the Greek debt crsis and the one about stem cell research added to the coffers in the skull. Great lessons in time management were rendered as I alternated between Facebook, Twitter and other entertainment on the internet while trying to churn out articles for The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India). May that voice blare out loud.

I ultimately got my name splashed around the net, something I hadn't expected to do. Being jobless these holidays, I have had plenty of time to think about what would happen to me if I chose to take M.A English and I figured out that I had better write as much as I can right now and gain some experience and exposure. After all, I definitely don't want to end up teaching 7th standard kids in Loyola.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

On LA Fest 2010


1. If you are not from Loyola School, Trivandrum or any part of Trivandrum chances are that this would not make sense to you.

2. This is just a personal opinion.

Every school kid or has-been in Trivandrum knows that LA Fest is the premier inter-school event in the city calender. Even if you are not a Loyolite you would recognise the quality that sets apart LA Fest from the rest. LA Fest had stood the test of time, for 14 years, as it enthralled the up and coming teenage population of the capital city of Kerala. Its success has spawned a number of similar events across the city in various schools. But LA Fest is the big daddy of them all. Ask Federer whether he would rather win the Wimbledon or the Vanautu Open. For an answer in a similar vein you could ask any school in Trivandrum whether they would rather win LA Fest or some hooky assed fest else where.

On July 3rd, the city watched with eyes wide open whether the 15th LA Fest would be a worthy successor to its illustrious predecessors.

LA Fest 2010 was the second LA Fest to be held in the huge indoor stadium of Loyola School. Since last year, the venue had been moved from the inimitable Sutter Hall to this colossus of a venue. Sporting a new onstage event and a couple of events off stage, LA Fest 2010 had an air of something new and fresh around it. An increase in student intake meant that there was a sea of dudes in a rather neat LA Fest t-shirt but it certainly made life difficult for anyone trying to find out who was in chage of what.

To be frank, LA Fest 2010 was not all that great. May be it was due to the lack of quality of the participants, may be it was some pretentious hosting or may be it was some pure bad luck, but the batch of '11 failed to pull of an event that could hold its head high among the other successful ones of the past fourteen years.

LA Fest kicked off, without much dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying, at eight o'clock. For once the opening cermony started off at pretty much the same time it was supposed to. Since I did not watch the events that unfolded in the auditorium until the lunch break, I shall not comment on that.

The lunch break gave way to Encuesta 2010, the quiz event of LA Fest. Being a former host of the LA Fest quiz, I know that the quiz slot is where the audience generally slips in to the afternoon nap or a stroll in the lush campus of Loyola. Contrary to expectations, the quiz got of to a good start and the crowd actually semmed quite enthused by the thrills the show offered. But it all went downhill from there.

The initial hosts let the tempo slide a bit and a few bloopers later the event was back in familiar territory. The first pair of hosts gave way to another as the crowd raised their drowsy heads slightly to take a peek at the new offering.

They were left wishing they had not. The new hosts made just one mistake. They forgot that the performers of LA Fest are the competitors onstage rather than the hosts themselves. Ideally, a host facilitates opportunities for the participants to shine and capture the hearts of the crowd. Somehow, the boys got their priorities mixed up.

I gave Block N Tangles the miss as I had to go out to get something done, but the reviews from the crowd was not that great either. Block N Tangles is often the biggest let down of LA Fest. It is often touted as the most entertaining and intellectually stimulating event of LA Fest but almost every year it comes up short. The participants often fail to rise to the exalted standards that would amaze and thrill the audience and thus there is often too much onus on the hosts to liven up the affair. So, if the hosts are not up to scratch, you have yet another show in tatters.

La Persona, the most awaited event of LA Fest, turned out to be the biggest shock of the week for me. Reason: It turned out to be a damp squib. The hosts came on stage in the garb of the quintessential 'Vijayan' and 'Dasan' of the Mallu movie industry and made a meal of it. They failed to pull off the act succesfully, getting caught between the usual high-brow, sophisticated nature of La Persona and the down to earth, slapstick style of the movie characters. Their attempts to get the best of both worlds was brutally turned on its head by their own ineptitude. Suffice to say they got it all wrong from the start, right from the theme.

Two hot chicks and four others made up the contestant list and they looked set to set the stage on fire, with some imporessive ramp walking. Alas, it was not to be. Talk about flattering to decieve. I should have known when one guy started off by rendering a speech from Old Bill's Shakespeare. It was insult to injury when he walked away with the title of Mr. La Persona. One hot chick almost undid the visual effect she had on the crowd by rendering Eminem's 'When I am gone'. The performance would have made Eminem commit suicide and then turn in his grave. She won the title.

The contestants where nowhere near the levels set by dudes and dudettes of previous years, as they stumbled and stuttered through the rounds, making the whole thing a drab affair.

Dance O Mania is usually an event which sets the stage on fire and has the crowd on its feet, singing and dancing as one man. Not to be. This was the fourth LA Fest I happened to be at, and never have I seen such an inane display of dance from Trivandrum. It was the age old steps, with little or no verve, no mood to innovate, no dare devilry, just a ritual of going through the motions. It was intensely disappointing that LA Fest ended with such a show that was starkly in contrast with the spirit of LA Fest.

The closing ceremony, supposed to be at 7:30 was pushed forward to 7, which meant that the ceremony was done for the most part sans the chief guest. Nina Prasad, a noted dancer, made her appearence as the chief guest at an opportune moment, just in time to give away the trophies for over all champions.

The night did not end there.

Understandably disappointed at their failure to grab one of the top spots, a school alleged discrepancies in judging and heated arguments ensued. Senior Loyolites had to intervene to atleast partially gruntle a hugely disgruntled lot of students. Not that I blame them. Though it is easy to pass off cliches like 'graceful in defeat' I have amply demonstrated to Trivadnrum that, when faced with failure, my approach to matters is only slightly better than those of Jack the Ripper and Attila the Hun.

On the whole, LA Fest 2010 left me with a bad taste in the mouth. A collection of events of a rather banal nature did not have too many people savouring the delight of LA Fest. The usual rumours of this being the final LA Fest did the rounds, but the current talk seemed to have an added ring of truth to it. May be, fifteen is a good number to end it all. On second thoughts, I hope they don't. May be it is time the school channelled some of that energy and enthusiasm in to rejuvenating the banal arse-wipe called the Loyola Basketball team.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Certain Attitude

When I am in Trivandrum, I often find myself visiting the alma mater, Loyola. A couple of days ago, I made what could be the fifty seventh trip to the old place, this time under the pretext of LA Fest preparations. Accompanied by a dear friend, we decided that it would not hurt to see some of the old folks at the place, the teachers, the 'uncles' and the ilk.

It was during this rendezvous that I came to notice a disconcerting attitude among many of the fauna at Loyola. My friend has what could be described as a rather unruly hairstyle, a dry long black mass of keratin falling over on to the face. In a land where short, cropped and oiled hair is the norm, it stands out like a nun in a brothel. What I found distasteful was the fact that conversation between my friend and the people we met started and ended on that topic alone - the hair.

In the short, almost nineteen years of my life, I have come to accept the fact that my hometown is far more rustic and conservative than I would prefer. Yet, it came as a mild shock to discover that the malaise was deeply entrenched even in Loyola, our second home.

One member of the non-teaching staff was particularly vehement in his criticism, describing something as personal as a person's hairstyle to be against the ethos and culture of the school. He percieved as a major sacrilege, this tendency on the part of a few pass outs to forget the 'values' imbibed in one's hometown. It might be intersting to note that I have heard him speak in a similar vein at other seniors who have dared to change their attributes from the ones generally seen in the city.

Come on! How does something like a hairstyle of a single person affect in anyway the culture of a school. Is Loyola suspect to degradation on account of 'wayward' tastes in style on the part of a pass out? I believe not. And if it is, it is better we dispense with such a fragile culture and bring in a better one.

While one can be persuaded to take into account that the elderly may be slighlty set in their ways, I hold that no one should be dictated on such personal matters. What is the point of shouting slogans like 'unity in diversity' if people cannot tolerate a diverse hairstyle. This attitude is ultimately restrictive and inhibiting.

Loyola was a place where students were given a lot of freedom and encouraged to strike out their own paths. How would you justify the insistence that everybody follow a set path of conservatism even on personal matters such as this?

Fodder for thought.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Design

Hello. Welcome, O lost traveller in the online woods. And for those of you who have made a habit of getting lost and ending up here, a most hearty welcome. So, you would have noticed a few changes in the general appearence of this patch of land in the online woods. I guessed it would not hurt to repaint the whole thing in a different pattern and so, here we are.

If the wine you serve is old, the bottles had better be new. Following in that line of thought, I revamped this blog to a vast extent, changing the template and background, all using the new template designer.

So. You like it? Or was the previous one better? I chose the previous one because it was simple, bright and easy on the eyes. The new one keeps with that formula for most of the part. I first tried out a template which had a bookshelf with brightly coloured books, but popular opinion seemed to be against it. So keeping with the spirit of democracy, mutualisation and what-not, the new template is a field or pasture with a lot of grass (hehe). Symbolism for life etc.

So feel free to comment and tell me how the new design looks. Bouquets and brickbats are accepted in equal measure. I don't know how to create a poll on my blog, so you will have to comment on this post. Yea, I know. Deliberate plans to get someone to finally comment on my blog.


Friday, June 25, 2010

The Marathon Match

There is a tide in the affairs of men, says Old Bill, which when taken leads to great fortune. The thing is to take the tide at the highest point. You will be in the depths if you miss that boat. Well, I missed that chance when Robert Green made a howler against the States at the World Cup. But I intent to park my own ruddy ass on that boat this time if no one else does. Life has given me a second chance in the form of the Isner vs Mahut match. Another ideal opportunity to crack lame jokes at those gentlemen's expense.

1. Samuel Beckett sued the All England lawn Tennis and Croquet club for plagiarising his story line and enacting it at Court 18.

2. The Pope decrees that Matthew 24:35 be amended to include the Isner vs Mahut match.

3. Year 2060 A.D- My grandkids come up to me and ask "did you have the Isner vs Mahut match even when you were a kid?".

4. Federer and Nadal played in an epic 6 hour U.S Open final but nobody watched because everyone was still at the Isner vs Mahut match.

5. Isner and Mahut played for so long that their apparel contracts ran out and they had to strip.

6. Isner and Mahut played for so long that Court 18 at Wimbledon is now a clay court.

7. Isner and Mahut played for so long that Mahut grew an inch.

8. The French celebrated Mahut's match joyously because his run at the Wimbledon lasted for more time than the French football team's run at the World Cup.

9. Aliens invading the earth in circa 2178 retreated back to their planets cautiously when they discovered that earthlings had already discovered time warp.

10. Mahut ran around for 11 hours but still could not get a 69.


Added on June 27.

John Isner was thrashed 6-0 6-3 6-2 by an unseeded Thiemo de Bakker in the second round. People all around the court wanted to know whether it was the shortest match at any Grand Slam.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stupid dreams of childhood

You may find this hard to believe, but once upon a time I was not as awesome as I am today. Yes, I used to be a kid. In that period, between the ages of five and 13, I harboured dreams I would laugh at right now. You too can laugh at them from now on.

1. Vegetarianism. The times when I avoided any kind of meat as if it were the plague. Killing animals? Gawd! Eating dead animals? OMG! Well, you know, I was a kid.

2. Becoming the prime minister of my country and making it the best in the world. By best, I mean THE BEST. Every kid probably has day dreamed about such a scenario. But, I tell you, mine were vivid. Again, I was just a kid.

3. The dream that one day cute, cuddly carnivores like lions and tigers would live in perfect harmony with cute, cuddly herbivores like deers and rabbits.

4. Using the game of football to settle international disputes. That was your cue to fall off your seats.

5. The next Batman. Need I say more.

6. I once wanted to be alive for 250 million years after I read somewhere that a supercontinent, like the Pangea, would be formed in that time.

7. Ambition: Super scientist-cum-action hero-cum-awesome football player-cum-rockstar. Talk about small dreams.

8. You know what happened when Harry Potter came out. Sigh.

9. DECIMATE THE U.S HEGEMONY!!! Being born and brought up in a place which had a strong presence of the Left helped.

10. I wanted to be an adult.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Week into the World Cup

A week into the World Cup and I am like a child who has been promised candy but has not got it yet. Face it. The World Cup has been, at best, bland after the first week. Though it got better as the days progressed and the future looks promising, I am not yet the candied kid. A few teams like Germany and Argentina rescued the tournament from being utterly crass, but the disappointment persists. A few matches have gone by and it is time to take a look at what happened.

South Africa vs Mexico- Opening match of the tournament was literally a tale of two halfs. South Africa, to be frank, was almost horrible in the first period, their game quite amateurish, while Mexico dominated proceedings creating chances and converting none. In the second half, a sublime strike by the sublimely named Tshbalala put the hosts ahead only for Mexico to strike back. On the whole a decent game. Bu World Cup quality? Na.

France vs Uruguay- The second match saw a floundering France barely managing to keep up with Uruguay. France has reportedly been plagued by infighting and rivalry within the team and it showed on the pitch as Les Bleus looked very short of ideas and zest. Uruguay, led admirably by their two forwards, Forlan and Suarez, did a lot of running but ultimately lacked the penetration to trouble Hugo Lloris in the French goal.

South Korea vs Greece- I missed the match because I was playing football at school. I think playing was definitely more exciting than watching a drab Greek tragedy as a hard wroking and efficent South Korea completely over ran the European qualifiers.

Argentina vs Nigeria- The world switched on its T.V sets to watch the world's best player, Lionel Messi. And he did not disappoint. He troubled the Nigerian defence with swervng runs and was denied thrice by an excellent VIncent Enyemu in the Nigerian goal. Argentina looked quite a champion team in its demeanour and style of play as Nigeria was left gasping for breath.

England vs U.S.A- England took on the USA!USA!!USA!!!(as The Guardian calls it) in one of the most awaited matches this world cup. England is most often a big let down, but they started positively with a goal in four minutes. In the fourty fourth munte Robert Green, Enlgand's goal keeper, showed the world that British PEtroleum was not the only British thing prone to leaks as he let Dempsey's tame shot slip out of his hands in to the goal. The match then became a midfield battle with not many chances, until Altidore troubled the England goal mouth. Green redeemed himself by making a fine save. England were once again a big let down.

Algeria vs Slovenia- Another of those matches which led many to call this World Cup the most boring in recent history. Somwhere in the last five minutes, I found myself woken up by the raised voice of the commentator signifying Slovenia had scored through a goal keeping error.

Serbia vs Ghana- Was far above the previous matches in standard of play and entertainment offered. Both teams created and missed chances until a handball and sending off gave Ghana a goal from the penalty spot. The witches could not work their magic and Ghana easily scratched out the itches.

Germany vs Australia- Undoubtedly the best match so far by many a mile. The Germans were simply scintillating with amazing runs off the ball and some pin point passing. Aussies had no idea awhat was going on, which was worsened when Tim Cahill was unfairly sent off. Germany seriously looked the goods and is touted to go a long way with their youngest squad ever.

Netherlands vs Denmark- The Oranje was a team everybody looked forward to, except the Danes. Reputed for their dashing stylistic game, they promised a treat. It did not turn out quite in to a treat, as the Danes pegged back the Dutch, not allowing them much space. In the end, a freak own goal and some fast running gave the Dutch a deserved victory. The Dutch played like the Germans and the Germans played like the Dutch.

Japan vs Cameroon- A match between two distinct styles of football, the pacey, diminutive Japs prevailed through an opportunistic strike. The Africans failed to exert themselves until late in the match and paid the price for it.

Italy vs Paraguay- I am not insomniac. I am perfectly capable of falling asleep by myself and do not need to watch Italy play to do so. So I skipped the match.

New Zealand vs Slovakia- Yet another drab match. Brightened up by the Kiwis' late goal.

Ivory Coast vs Portugal- Another much awaited game and did provide decent entertainment. I half expected Drogba to play with a ten kilo metal cast and leave at least three Portugese players incapacitated but that was not to be. But still, a good match. Either side could have scored, but they were a bit too generous to their opponents.

Brazil vs North Korea- It was the highest ranked team vs the lowest ranked team. And what pissed me off was that the commentator on ESPN kept reminding me of this fact. The commentator was extremely patronising of Korea, praising in hyperbole every tackle and every pass they made. It was sickening. The guy seemed to think that North Korea comprised of players playing in wheel chairs against the Justice League. The game ws quite entertaining. The Brazillians realised that there was no point in leaving anybody to defend after five minutes. North Koreans had already decided that there was no point in sending any one to attack. The Asian Rooney, as the Korean press called the star forward in a red shirt was hardly as good as Roney (a senior of mine at school who plays decent football). The Koreans defended extremely well until Maicon's magic (or luck) finally gave the Samba Boys some respite and was followed by Elano. The Koreans managed to score in the end, a testament to their spirit. Surely, they aren't the bad folks the Western media makes them out to be.

Honduras vs Chile- A game which threatened to slip in to new found levels of drabiness. Livened up by some enterprising Chile attacks. Ultimately, Chile was too hot to handle for the Central Americans and Palacios brothers.

Spain vs Switzerland- The game which made the most headlines. Spain, boasting stars of amazing calibre, fell 1-0 to the Swiss, an opportunistic goal by Gelson Fernandes sealing the issue. Credit to the Swiss for defending as if their lives depended on it and to an excellent Diego Benaglio under the bar.

South Africa vs Uruguay- The second round of group games began. The host were beaten all ends up by Forlan and Uruguay. Nothing more, nothing less.

Argentina vs South Korea- The Albiceleste was out to rock again and Leo Messi came up with the goods. Though he failed to score, he carried the team forward with that amazing skill. Higuain scored the first hat trick of the World CUp as Korea could only marvel at the Argentine game.

Greece vs Nigeria- At the outset, a drab, boring match. But it was everything except that. The match is best described as a thriller novel, with all the characteristics of a Sheldon or Archer. Nigeria dominated the first half, going one up through a lucky free kick. But some where in the thirtieth minute, a Nigerian dude called Kaita got sent off for trying to kick a Greek dude in the balls and finding only the thigh.At any rate, it was for kicking. The game turned and how! Rehhagel took off a defensive midfielder and brought in the irresistable Samaras and the Greeks were on the hunt, like an Athena. Just before half time, their toils were rewarded with a goal. The Nigerian goal keeper, Vincent Enyemu made at least four world class saves, befor spilling a shot and allowing Tzorisidis to score. In the end Nigeria slipped to defeat because there was Greece everywhere.

The Greeks have such awesome names. My personal favourites were Sokratis Pappasthopoulos, Kostas Katsouranis and Avraam Pappadapolous. Nigerians were not that bad, contributing to the name game through Danny Shittu and Dickson Etuhu.

France vs Mexico- The French suffered the shock of their lifetime by losing 2-0 to an enterprising Mexican side. Raymond Domenech is one step away from being as crazy as Maradona. At least Maradona's team is winning. Dopey Domenech once left a player out his squad on astrlogical grounds. As France missed the reassuring presence of Zidane, questions are bound to be raised as to why the new Zizou, Samir Nasri was not even included in the squad.

Germany vs Serbia- The sexy Mayanti Langer wanted to see how the young German side would cope under pressure and she got her wish. Miroslav Klose got sent off in the 37th minute by a referee who was too eager to flash cards. Serbia scored against the dazed Germans immediately. Germany regrouped and created a few chances and even earned a penalty only for Podolski's shot to be saved. The second biggest shick of the tournament.

Slovenia vs U.S.A- A ripper of a match. One of the best this World Cup as U.S.A justified their world rankiing of 14 by coming back form two goals down to draw the match. Great performance from both sides.

England vs Algeria- For an England supporter like me, there was only three words on the tongue. They were England, was and shit in that order. A hugely disappointing match, when almost every England player switched off. The only decent players were Ashley Cole and David James. Rooney was not even as good as Roney while Gerrard and Lampard looked lost as the stunnig club form was nowhere to be seen. Two or three years ago, a defensive error by Terry was something museums would pay millions for, but now it is too common to even befit a couple of exclamation marks. Capello baffled everyone by playing Heskey till the 70th minute and replacing him with Defoe in the same formation when clearly that formation was not working. Nobody but Capello knows why Joe Cole did not make an appearence. A big blow for England. They now need to beat Slovenia by a good margin to top the group, but nobody is betting on it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What is gonna happen?

The World Cup kicks off tomorrow and I'm all excited. I can barely sit. It is like I have ants in my pants. So, I was thinking. What will happen in this one month period starting tomorrow? That spark of thought turned in to a wild fire, and before I knew it, I had a pen and some paper and was making a list. Here goes.

1. The Bafana Bafana, aided by ten thousand vuvuzelas and some really bad refereeing decisions, makes the round of 16.

2. England go out in the quarterfinals AGAIN!!! You guessed it, penalties!!!

3. Cesc Fabregas, after spending a lot of time with half the Barcelona squad, a.k.a Spain national team, decides to move to the Catalan club. He says that it is his dream come alive and in his heart he has always been a Barcelona player. Especially when he was 16.

4. Maradona blasts Messi and Milito for "being useless in training", while Javier Pastore and Ariel Grace are said to be the real strengths of the team. This follows a 6-0 victory in which Messi and Milito scored three each.

5. Messi is proclaimed as God by pundits and journos. Pele says people tend to exaggerate so much these days while Maradona continues abusing more journos. Incessant coughing, identified as an attempt to butt in to the conversation, is heard in the background. The cough is later traced to Ronaldo.

6. Rooney kicks five people in the balls, bad mouths the ref and drives his knee into some bloke's chest and thus gets sent off. The British media blames the opposite team's physio because he had got some dust into his eyes and closed that eye alone.

7. The Oranje play fantastic football again, beating the crap out of opposition until finally they go out in the quarterfinals, inexplicably losing, in all probability to some team like....South Africa!

8. North Korea demands that no one be allowed to watch any of their games as it is offensive to their culture and tradition. After some persuasion from FIFA, Jong agrees to let his team play if FIFA agrees to a plan he formulated. The plan is , on the previous day the same match is played in an empty stadium and N. Korea wins and the match is re-enactred pass by pass on match day.

9. Wayne Bridge is caught in a compromising situation with Toni Terry. He secretely arrived at South Africa in the garb of a North Korean team staff. He is reported to have quoted Matthew 7:12 in Pulp Fiction style before commencing activities with Toni.

10. A host of players would be raring to emulate Zidane's final act on a football pitch. Didier Drogba head butts Ronaldo after the Portugese star snipes that "he would rather NOT have Drogba's mom".

Enjoy the World Cup! They come only once in four years.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The problem with poetry

I was aghast, when going through the scribblings and rantings of many of my classmates, to find that an overwhelming majority dealt with poetry. Few things can be more bone chilling to a prosaic person like me than the realisation that my class was populated by a hoard of minor poets. Now, you may think that I harbour some intense anti-poetry agenda, and you could not be farther from the truth. In fact, I adore poems, as long as the publisher guarentees that the poet has been dead for at least a hundred years. As a result you will find me poring over 'Daffodils' and 'To Autumn', but I draw the line at that. Poetry, like wine, certin brands of cheese and buildings, improve with age. Therefore, no connoiseur would dream of filling himself or herself up with stuff on which the ink is still fresh.

In the olden golden days, poets where chaps who shut themselves off from the outside world in their own cottages, which they left only for the purpose of being thrown out of publishing houses to which they had attempted to sell their wares. Thus, if a respected gentleman were to be trapped in a remote island for eternity with only a poet for company, he would rather build a wall and talk to it.

The poetry bug appears to be catching on, like an epidemic. More and more victims are reported each day, with many of the respected and loved ones going down the drain. Gone are the days when 'published posthumously' was a proud tag on a book of verse. Times are such that anyone waking up on a fine morning can dish out a few lines on the blue sky and the black roads and make a couple of fortunes. As a result, young people all over the place are throwing up steady jobs to devote themselves to the new profession. It is a horrible sight to wander out to the junction on a Sunday afternoon and find one's progress positively impeeded by swarms of young poets brought out by the warm weather.

Imagine if Charles Dickens had been a poet.

"Marley was Scrooge's partner
But Scrooge was definitely the meaner.
One day Marley died
But Scrooge never cried.
Scrooge kept both names on the board
For the dead man he adored."

Of course, finding the root cause of the problem is a tough task. A long time ago, when a Tom, Dick or Harry ventured to immerse himself in the perilous proffession, you could talk sense into him. There was that one thing which served like a strong fort in front of an advancing enemy. "What about rhymes, Tom?", you could ask. "Dick, just imagine having to spend your life attempting to find words that rhyme with 'cosmic' and 'symbolism'". When Harry asked why you objected, you could reply "Think of those dark times when you have used up 'May' and 'Gay', 'Fool' and 'Cool' and 'Moon' and 'June'. You may live a few months with 'Intution' and 'Confusion' and 'Cricket' and 'Wicket', but that time too will pass". The next day, you get notifications on Facebook telling you that the above mentioned friends had removed themselves from the group 'I love Poetry'.

But then, like the snake in the Eden Gardens comes a certain person called Edgar Lee Masters and invents vers libre. The rest is history. He told everyone that they need not have rhymes. He urged them to leave out rhymes all together. And thus was born poetry sans rhymes. If my good friend Percy Bysshe was living now, he would have had to rewrite 'The Cloud' thus if he wanted to pull in a dollar a line.

"I pour water over flowers.
I go to the sea and rivers to get it.
I give them shade, so that they can dream.
My dew wakes up the buds as the Earth continues
To revolve around the Sun in an elliptical orbit according to Kepler's laws.
I am also capable of snow
And some rude, loud thunder.

A sleeping population has awakened to the reality that it can make money in heaps by chopping down prose into bits and inserting the relevant punctuations. What is to be done? Mr. Masters left this world long ago, making it impossible to exact any sort of revenge upon him. The only consolation is that, if we all were to become poets, then the phenomenon will die out by itself, because poets seldom buy other poets' stuff.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Second Sem \m/

You saw that thing which just went whoosh! Don't worry that was just my second semester at I.I.T Madras, which broke speed limits left and right to land me at the beginning of a three month vacation. Here I am, left to recollect my thoughts and memories of that awesome four month period in the comfort of a cosy chair.

A general feeling of awesomeness about the past four months persists strongly inside me, but as I search in the haystack of memories, I find it hard to pinpoint the needles of awesome moments that made my second semester a rollicking one. The sem provided me with a lot of memories and experiences which shall be with me for a long time.

The semester started of in January, and January to us I.I.T folks means only one thing- Saarang. Saarang, the cultural extravaganza (literally and figuratively) held annually by my college, attracts the best talents from across the country. Saarang guarenteed four days of amazing fun and four days of amazing fun it delivered. For more details on how Saarang was refer here. Saarang, for me was mostly about the girls. I.I.T is a place, to quote a dear friend, where a chick gets a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 just for being a chick. It was into such a barren desert that Saarang came as a refreshing shower. And how! If you had seen the campus one of the four days you would not have recognised the place from Adam. It got transformed, metamorphosised into something completely new and, not surprisingly, refreshing. Hot girls descended on the place in droves bringing a wide smile on my lips. Heaven, albeit momentary!

The semester passed into other months, namely February and March. A "peaceful" semester, with a realtively small workload gave me and my buddies plenty of time to indulge in the vices. It reached a crescendo in April, with the hostel nights. We rocked Tapti (my hostel) night, inebriation style. It was a day when anything liquid around the place came in dark, cold bottles. On a hot and thirsty night we turned from water to something which had colour in it and more than mere hydrogen and oxygen. Hours were spent performing the bottomless bucket act until gradually several of those buckets had malfunctions and decided to eject majority of its contents. Thus ended the best night of the semester. It was a night I would love not to forget but unfortunately I do not remember much of it.

Ohh..I almost forgot. Football Schroeter. In the month of February or March (I do not recollect) we tasted the pleasures of organised football in the form of the football tournament as a part of Schroeter. Our hostel team, despite having decent talent and calibre did not make it past the group stage. It was dissapointing, yet to fun to turn out in the hostel colours, albeit last year's. We had a pretty good run in the friendly matches though winning one or two and losing only one to the eventual winners of Schroeter.

Second semester probably had the biggest impact on my lifestyle, completely revolutionising my daily time table, especially in April during the week preceeding the end semester exams. Nights were made into days and days into nights. Sleep all day, party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It is fun being insti junta. Wake up at ten in the night, stagger off to the DCF, a few smokes on the roof, ogling at a computer screen for hours at a stretch, the five o' clock trip to tarams, breakfast and finally to back tot he department for class or examination. Well, at least I got to eat breakfast everyday. Though it was the only meal I often had the entire day.

Its a three month holiday now. Internship reminds me how work can actually be taxing. Seems like hard work will finally kill me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Tearful Goodbye

Finally, I caved in. After a long and forlorn battle against society and conservatism, I had to sacrfice a recent and beloved friend to guarentee some peace of mind.

How I miss you already my dear friend, five minutes into your departure and I am ruing my action. Ah, my black, bushy companion, I hope to see you again.

I forget. It so often happens that one starts to ramble on about a topic without getting on the fact that the audience has no idea what you are talking about and before you know it they are on their hind-legs yelling for foot notes.

So here is the lowdown on the issue. It is about this beard I had. Now I have experimented a lot with my facial hair, but this beard was kind of special. It was not the prettiest or the most glamourous but I liked it a lot. And then, the villain came in the form of family and neighbours.

They attacked my sweet little beard tooth and nail. They created arguments based on flimsy grounds such as culture and tradition. But the beard was not going to give in that easily. After all, it grew on a capable chin.

It held out. Somebody said I looked like a fakir. Well, great people like Gandhi have been called that and he did not mind, so I took heart. A certain neighbour said I bore a striking resemblance to another famous personality- Osama Bin Ladan. Well, you got to take the good with the bad, said I to my beard. Little did I know that the sluice gates were just about to be opened. Parents, neighbours, acquintances, even a relative who had not seen me adviced me over the telephone.

My parents redefined the word nagging forever, giving it a whole new dimension and meaning in every plane. Others shot weird glances at me, when they thought I would not notice, but I did. Relatives who had only overtly biased earwitness accounts of the proceedings lamented the flawed and dangerous path of a vagabond that I had supposedly taken. I knew the end was near. My mind was being subjected to torture way beyond what it was made to take. It would crack any moment.It forced me into a choice I did not want to make.

And thus, past midnight on the fourth day of my arrival at Trivandrum, I, armed with a razor blade accomplished that painful task. It was not easy. I mean, when you have a strong bushy undergrowth which has not seen the glint of a Gillette for two months, it is never easy.

So long dear friend. Hope to see you again in the near future.

Damn you, you conservative mallu society!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Attitude Problem

Did you know? I have an attitude problem. Yea, that is right. You didn't read it wrong. No, it is not an altitude problem. I am not afraid of heights and huge mountains. It is not an aptitude problem. I am slightly more intelligent than I look. Yea, it is an attitude problem.

I have often been told that I have a lot of problems. I do have a ligament problem. I have had plenty of math problems to solve. A wise old man once told me that I would soon have a drinking problem. But this is new news. An attitude problem? Gawd!

Well, so this guy tells me I have an attitude problem. Amusing, because that is exactly what the Church told Galileo. And what did old man Galilei do? He told them where they could shove it. Due to social constraints I haven't told this guy where he can shove it, but then you can bet I have done that in my mind a few times by now.

The way I see it, I don't have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem.

The very fact that you think that I have an attitude problem presupposes that I have an attitude. I HAVE A COOL ATTITUDE! YAAAY!! \m/

They should manufacture more ties like this.

So you consider my attitude is a problem? Back in the 1600s they considered Fermat's last theorem as a problem. But that was long ago. As James Truslow Adams famously said "The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind". Change your attitude about my attitude.

Anyway, I learned a lot of things. One of them is to take DoCoMo ads more seriously. You know what they say in those. Your life changes every second yadda yadda... Well, I realised that is true. I would have missed those priceless comments about my attitude if I had slept for two more seconds. After relentless prodding by a dear friend of mine, I woke up, just in time to hear those pearls drop from this guy's mouth. Life changing!

Well, as the old Italian proverb goes, as the house is burning, let us all warm ourselves.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Likely Story

What rum bottle in what glove compartment, Ma?

It is not my car.

It well may be my car, now that I look at it from this angle, but surely it can’t be my bottle, can it? . Do you think it is one of the servants’?

Yes because don’t you remember: when the usual bottle for the engine coolant was misplaced, I asked you for a spare bottle to keep some water for the engines, and you said there were old bottles in the servant’s area, ones that used to hold kerosene. I must have absent-mindedly gone to the storage room under the stairs and taken out the bottle you use for wine and then put it in the glove compartment thinking it was the kerosene bottle, because I have always loved it’s shape. Haven’t you loved it’s shape as well?

Since you ask, no Ma, I can’t picture you having wine in a Bacardi white rum bottle in a millennium, make that ten millennia, especially that kind of make. Maybe that is one reason we don’t see eye to eye as often as we used to.

However, that doesn’t alter the fact that they were in the storage room under the stairs and I, not bothering to switch on the lamp, mistook it for a kerosene bottle.

How do I know? I expect you put it there yourself, after unwrapping it. I know you have a short memory, but surely you can remember Uncle Bobby getting you a Bacardi white rum bottle last Christmas, among other suitable items? I remember you verbatim. “Thank You very much darling, but I can’t have it in a millennium”, you said. "I’ll take them back to the shop tomorrow and get you something more mellow and suitable, a bottle of red wine maybe?” he replied. Then you must have popped it in the storage room and not given a second’s thought to it from that day to this. How fast time flies doesn’t it. If you remember…..

All right. Joke over. Do you want to know what really happened?

You are not going to like this, I’m warning you.

Because it involves someone, the mention of whose very name you hate.

G, the college practical joker.

Of course, you know he is the college practical joker. That is why you loathe him so much. Surely, I am not to be held responsible for my batch-mate's off-beat sense of humour. I know you hate him because he kept sticking out his yellow tongue at you at the college party that we went to.

Well, he thought that was a practical joke.

So, I can’t prove anything, but I did notice that G, the college practical joker was loitering around the car parking area in the evening, where he had no right to be as he doesn’t drive. You know.

Let me get this straight. You are telling me that if G, the college practical joker, somehow got into the car, somehow forced opened the glove compartment without breaking the lock and placed the Bacardi white rum bottle he happened to have in his pocket and then locked the glove compartment and got out off the car, you are going to call a doctor and test for alcohol in my blood?

Then it’s very lucky indeed that that is not what actually happened. The incident actually centers around S.

S. I don’t think you have met him. He has quite a reputation as the college conjurer. I have seen him do tricks with cards that would astound you. We all tell him he should take it professionally. Listen. I saw him do this legendary thing the other day. Imagine a rocking chair, a bowl of goldfish, a couple of cigarette cases…..

Did I mention glove compartments? Or sleight of hand tricks with Bacardi white rum bottles? Then until I do mention them please be kind to reserve your judgment, Ma.

Where was I?

Good heavens.

You know that sensation that comes, you know it don’t you, that someone sometimes is going to say something? Déjà vu, isn’t it? Well, I just had it then.
It was when I said ‘Where was I’. It brought back sudden memories of sitting in the same car and saying-it wasn’t ‘Where was I’-it was ‘Who am I?’ Must have temporarily lost my memory.

No, I know that is not the same thing as déjà vu, but you know what I mean. Of course you do. Don’t tell me you have never lost your memory temporarily and come around saying ‘Where am I?’ or ‘Who am I?’.

I don’t think I like your tone, Ma. I wouldn’t dream of asking you to believe that I came around to asking ‘Where am I or Who am I or What is Bacardi white rum bottle doing in the glove compartment?’. Had that been the case, I would have mentioned it.
This time I found myself sitting in the car and asking ‘Where am I?’ or ‘Who am I?’ as the case may be. This time I temporarily lost my memory.

Yes, I was about to tell it you, but I forgot about it.

Well, Bacardi white rum bottles don’t come into it anywhere. I just got sidetracked by a moment of déjà vu or whatever it was.
I am getting back to the nitty-gritty. G, the college practical joker, and S, the college conjurer were, how shall I put it, somewhat worse for the wear. Tired and emotional. There was a football match, you see. Pretty important for the college. And we lost because of a last minute controversial penalty kick. So, you see, there was Raj coming in from the right wing and he crosses to the centre…..

You are right upto a point. G, the college practical joker, doesn’t play football, but now he plays like a couple of Peles. The only reason you don’t know that he plays is because you won’t have him in the house anymore. Because you hate his insides.

They were hanging around at the car parking, G, who doesn’t drive but who plays now, and S, who both drives and plays.

They had been celebrating.

Does it really matter for what? Since you must know, they were celebrating A, the college kleptomaniac, being accepted for an exchange program to Germany. So A thought he would instill some happiness into these morose guys for a night. Must have been his good deed for the day.

Didn’t you? Oh yea, the college and staff keeps it hushed up, naturally. We have been asked not to talk about it. Its an illness. He takes pills for it.

Yea, that is perfectly correct. He did get into a German college three months ago. But it was only temporary till recently. He is now a permanent guy for a year over there. A lucky chap he is.

By all means congratulate him, if you know the ISD code.

You may mention Bacardi white rum bottle if you want, but I don’t see why on earth you should in the first place.

Have I accused A, the college kleptomaniac, of stealing Bacardi white rum bottle from some place somewhere and then stuffing it into that glove box?

Very well then.

The only reason A comes into the picture is that he was planning to spend the night at S’ place before returning to Germany by a late flight. S, the college conjurer, was too tired to drive. G, the college practical joker, doesn’t drive. Foolishly, I volunteered to give all of them a lift.

No, I am not going to bother you about how S threw his bunch of keys out into the sewer and swore he could produce it in the glove compartment when we reached home. We all believed him, because he is so damn clever, a member of the magic circle and all, did you know?

Well, we reached S’ place and no keys in the glove compartment. G, the college practical joker has passed out and none of us know where he lives. So, I couldn’t dump them at his place, and I couldn’t bring them back here because you hate G like you hate none other.


I am drifting on the road, wondering what on earth I could do. Should I get a hotel room or what? And then I see my headlights rest on something in a purple dress, waving her arm about, outstretched. One stunning blonde thumbing a lift. Haven’t I told you this story before? I thought I had.

So, the gentleman that I am, stops and she gets in at the front where the glove compartment is.

G, the college practical joker, S, the college conjurer and A, the college kleptomaniac are all sleeping, dead as dodos at the back.

Now, as you know, there is a light in the glove compartment, which was switched on because we had been searching for S’ keys. I was able to get a good look at the hitch-hiker and I thought hello, I have seen you before, dear.

And do you know who it was?

I can see that you are not going to get it. Off all people it was none other than K, the college hottie. Not much of a coincidence, you know. K lives in the same street as S does.

‘Thank God, it’s you four’ says K, ‘because I’m in dead trouble….’