Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shhh ... koi hai

KNOCKKK ...

Huh ?? Is someone there ? Must have been a drea ... zzzz ...

KNOCKK ...

My eyes opened. I turned on the light. Looked around. No, no .. nothing. I guess I really was dreaming. I am quite tired, really. Light off.

KNOCKKKK ...

WHAT THE FUCK was that ??

One hand jumped to the light switch, the other grabbed the phone, while my spine did a dance all it's own. And to think people say I can't multitask !!

5:34 am. Shitt ... I've only slept for 4 hours, and now this crap is happening. Calm down, I tell myself. Calm down.

Two images jump into my head - one, a psycho killer waiting with a big ass knife inside the cupboard, toying with me right now ... ready to spring out at any moment. The second - one of those highly creepy deformed faces with a tiny body and big nails - sitting in my laundry basket.

I leave the light on and scamper across the bed to the table in my room, where I grab the crazy heavy metallic statue and hold it ready. Come on, bitch ... I growl at the closet .. I'm not going down without a fight.

Silence.

Perhaps it's someone outside the house, I try to convince myself. Shall I wake the flatmate up ? No, no point. Not yet.

I'm too scared to go back to sleep. I place the statue next to my pillow, and start reading Asimov once more. Please God ... don't let my room be haunted.

Tick tock tick tock ... silence. I'm through two stories.

KNOCKKKK ...

Fuck fuck fuckkity fuck. I realize what it means to jump with fear. I'm getting out of here. I grab the statue and my phone, and leap out of bed. Suddenly (and perhaps foolishly), I decide to fight. I kick the closet. No response. Slowly, I slide one of the doors open, ready to attack.

Nothing. I peek in - no psycho, no evil dwarf. A little disappointing, actually.

What the hell is making this sound, I ask myself. Is it the neighbors above ? Highly doubtful. But it isn't my imagination - it's definitely there.

Bloody hell. It is a ghost. I'm convinced.

I leave the closet door open, turn on all the lights in my room, open the door and turn on the light in the hall. I'm getting ready to be possessed by Edison's ghost, perhaps.

I get back into bed. Continue to read. Damn it's hot in here, I realize. I go out and turn off the central heating. And it hits me.

You stupid fool ... those loud knocks was the wood of the closet creaking. It's not a totally convincing argument, considering I've heard wood creak before, and it's never as loud as what I heard; but that's the only one I can think of which will not make me wake up the flatmate; and risk him killing me before anything else does. I leave the room door open to normalize the temperature. I decide to discuss it with the flatmate once he's up.

It's been 2 hours. There are no more knocks. I'm not sleepy. I'm also not scared any more.

The statue is right next to me, just in case.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

All for love

Are you sure, Ms. Ro...
Yes, doctor. Please, let's get started.

She sat on seat 4A, looking out the window, her eyes taking in the countryside as the train sped ahead, but her mind was still two days in the past, when she had attended his funeral. There weren't too many people present - just her, his friend David, their landlady, and his supervisor. His parents couldn't make it - his dad had been hospitalized the moment he had heard the news.

She remembered him telling her how his family had lost his sister, Annabelle, many years ago; and how did father's health had taken a toll for the worse ever since. And here she was, on her way to hand over the last of his possessions to them ... well, she had kept a few things back - stuff that would remind her of the two wonderful years they had spent together.

She was apprehensive, of course, since she had neither met nor spoken to his folks ... but she knew this was something she had to do, however awkward it might feel. He always said he spoke about her every time he telephoned his parents, and they had always been eager to meet her. If only it could have been under more pleasant circumstances.

The train chugged along, and she remembered the trip the two of them had once taken. To the Swiss Alps. Where they had made love in their private train compartment. And she had woken up to find him smiling at her, and he had handed her a Polaroid picture he had taken a few moments before - his face next to hers, under which he had scribbled "Sam and Adam" and made a tiny little heart. That was one of the reasons she had fallen for him, and loved him so much. He seemed to understand her better than any other man ever had - both inside and outside the bedroom. Somehow, he just knew the things that would make her happy - however small they might be.

The slowing down on the train brought her back to the present. She had arrived. She steeled herself, and took a cab to his house. Thankfully, David had called ahead and let them know of her arrival.

"Yes?", said the lady from behind the screen door, and she immediately knew she was at the right place - she could almost see Adam in that face.

"Hello, I'm Sam," she said, trying to make her voice sound as friendly as possible.

The old lady seemed confused.

"Sam? You're Sam?”

"Yes," she replied, "it's actually short for Samantha. David must have called you."

A sudden shadow passed over the lady's face. She opened the door and stepped out.

"I think there is something you need to know. I had two children. One died more than ten years ago ... taken away from us sooner than was right. The other left us almost three years ago. The only time I ever heard my child was safe was when I received a letter from David, whom our family has known much before he became the surgeon he is today. He was also the one who took care of all the formalities related to the death."

"I'm sorry, I don't understand."

The old lady shuffled off inside, and returned with a piece of paper, which she handed over.

She took it, and her eyes managed to run over the lines even as her vision started to become blurry.

This certifies the time of death of Adam Robinson to be 11:43 pm. Cause of death - kidney failure. Surviving relatives - Alex Robinson (father), Dora Robinson (mother), and Annabelle Robinson (sister).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We're meant to be

The judge walked into the courtroom.

All rise, boomed a baritone, and I felt myself do so. Mr. Zibaldini, my lawyer, cleared his throat. I heard someone sniff behind me, and felt good knowing that she was near.

I remember the first time I saw her. We were returning from a cocktail party, and I had bumped into her in the doorway. Somehow, at that very moment, I knew that things would change. I had been married for six years, and apart from the small fights that are a part of every household, I was happy - happy to have married my high school sweetheart, happy with the intimacy we shared, and happy with both my kids. My kids, who I'm glad are not present here today.

This is case number twenty-sixty-six, said a voice, Robbins versus Stempler.

I honestly do not recall how or when I met her next, but I know that I had to continue to see her. Perhaps I ran into her at another party, or maybe at the gas station - all I knew was that she aroused in me feelings I had never felt before. Both she and I understood that we would never be able to be together - I loved my family too much. And yet, every time I would leave her apartment after having spent the night, I felt guilty - not at the thought of having lied to people I knew were awaiting my arrival at home, but because I did not know when would I be able to wake up next to her again.

Strangely, the divorce did not hurt as much as I thought it would. I tried to analyze the reasons that made my marriage fail, but I guess it is too early to do so. Frankly, I knew all along how this would end. Well, end for my family, because she and I are still together, hoping to start a new life. Two years of deceit later, here now I sit, waiting to fight it out to be the primary guardian of my kids, whom, contrary to what anyone might say, I still love with all my heart.

Are you the mother of Zac - age 5, and Tiara - age 3, the judge asks.

I am, I reply.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thoughts in the shower III

One two ... cha cha cha
Let's do ... cha cha cha
Me and you ... cha cha cha
Ooooooooooooo ....

- I wonder if Usha Uthup sang this as a signal for women to have sex with Nehru ?!?

- The mirror is such a strange thing - on different days it can make you feel absolutely great, and totally miserable about yourself !!

- If I had tusks instead of my dracula canine teeth, I could easily pass for a walrus!!

- Wait ... what ? Friday ? What the hell ? Abhi toh Monday thha !! Where is my life going ?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I feel it in my fingers

The flatmate has been back five times in the last five years. My number is two. What I never understood about him was the excitement that used to take him over a couple of months before each trip. It was almost like that was pretty much the only thing he could think about - it was genuine happiness. Now while I love my family and friends and country as much as the next guy, and have always been enthusiastic to go back (the first time was my first trip back after having been saat samundar paar - hence the enthu; and the second time was T and S's wedding - so naturally I was super excited, though I don't see why - seeing as neither of them was getting married to me ... though, as T's sis - Ka, sneakily remarked when I was sitting next to him in the shaadi ka mandap during some ceremony - "this could just as well be"!!!), it's never been the same as the flatmate.

Until now.

I'm not even going to get into how time has flown and all that, but it has been two and a half years since I've been back; which is the longest that I have ever been away from home; and I've finally understood what the expression - "to feel it in your bones" - means. My want to go back is no longer an emotional or psychological desire - it's an actual physical need. No, this does not mean I have some strange disease that needs to be treated in India. What it means is that the yearning to be back in India is so strong that I actually feel if I don't get there soon, I'm going to fall sick or something. A tad dramatic, agreed - but it really is difficult to put into words. This is the first time I feel I would not want to come back, the first time I'm afraid I'm actually going to cry at the airport - both when I land and when I'm taking off. Even as I type this out, it already seems a bit strange to me ... and yet I know this trip back is going to be both the happiest, and the toughest, ever.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stuff I'm looking forward to I

- Spinach baked that mom makes
- T and S coming to Delhi
- Piks coming to Delhi as well
- The daal pakoras at Lajpat Nagar
- Spending sis's money on my clothes
- Crowds
- K's wedding
- Meeting AJ
- Christmas party at T's place (I better be called .. well, I'm going even if I'm not)
- Drinks with B
- The Delhi winter (for some reason, the song "dilli ki sardi" just popped into my head)
- Riding the metro
- Autos
- The clawwny aunties saying "Beta, have a roti" :)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Umm .. they are the future ?

Kids, by and large, are an extremely fidgety lot. But something happens to them as soon as they enter a holy place. Perhaps it has to do with the inherent evil that resides in their innocent little faces. Think I'm over-reacting ? Remember Damien in Omen, when the car is going past the church? I rest my case.

The reason I am making this astute observation is because I was at the mandir yesterday, where there was a puja and stuff on account of Diwali, and so the married strata of the desi society here had brought themselves (and their chintus and pinkis) to the temple. As a result, there were far more kids than usual, and each and every one of them was losing it - I don't know whether it was the smell of the agarbattis and camphor, the chanting, the other kids, the sugar in the diwali mithais, or the wide open space (or, as I mentioned earlier, Beelzebub’s influence) - but every damn whelp there was causing some sort of mayhem. Allow me to elaborate ...

(Since I am a geeky engineer and like to make random lists to kill time, I shall divide the hooligans into categories. What fun!!)

Set 1 - Kids who loooove to stare at people, for no apparent reason. The persons in question certainly do not have horns coming out of their heads, or a tail from their posterior, or have hooves for feet, or all three (in which case, I am certain, all the children would probably fall to their knees in reverence); but these urchins stare at you like they've never seen a normal human being before. And it isn't a cursory glance .. it's a full blown I-will-stare-till-you-make-a-face-in-my-direction-when-my-folks-arent-looking kind of look, at which time they burst into tears as soon as you comply. These kids need to have a sack over their heads.

Set 2 - The kinds who will probably grow up to be druggies, as is apparent from the way they are hogging on the sugar. It isn’t even in the form of a chocolate or something ... it's pure sugar!!! And they're having mouthfuls of it ... the only way it could get into their system faster was if they were to snort the damn thing, naturally, after making a coke line out of it. I think Pete Doherty is an inspiration to these burdens on society. And as you may have guessed, all that sugar leads to them playing hide and seek with no one in particular - they basically start running around the legs of all the people present, probably trying to get away from that colorful monster that’s chasing them and only them. Fire department water hose for them, is what I say.

Set 3 - Aaah, here come the Nadia Comanecis of tomorrow. These agile little darlings love to show off their cart wheeling skills, not realizing that they're landing straight into the laps of people who are trying to pray. Can you imagine - you've got your eyes closed, asking God for a Sony Wii, and suddenly you feel something heavy land into your lap ... you open your eyes, hoping to make the evening news with the information that miracles do indeed happen, and instead are horrified by some child giggling away like the little fool that he is, about to scamper off to re-perform his award winning jump (perfect 10s, really); while you barely have time to deflect his legs away from your prized possessions. Ugh ... where is the rope ?

Set 4 - These kids are either starved for toys, or have rather stiff dolls, since they assume the murtis in the temple are their play things. Of course, this leads to them trying to climb onto the marble pedestals, while the pujari rushes forward to stop the vibhuti from flying all over the place (which, by the way, you may have been hoping to get), right after it's been kicked by the scamps, but alas, by then it is far too late. What ensues is the pujari throwing a highly ungodly look at the child, whipping him or her off the murti and trying to shoo it away. Needless to say, he is highly unsuccessful, because, let's face it, what can a single guy do against a whole set of marauding morons?

Set 5 - These, actually, are not kids at all; but parents who think that their mistakes should be allowed to bug one and all just so that they can get away from the whiners for a little bit. Well, excuse me, but is you were too cheap to buy a condom that works, it's only fair that you suffer. What really gets my goat is that these Britney-ish parents don’t even care to discipline their child. They just let them run amok, to make everyone else’s life a living hell as well (even if it is for those few minutes while you're actually inside the temple). They really need some parenting lessons. I think I see a lucrative business here, where-by cool singletons can buy gift certificates to give to these irresponsible parents, as a Diwali gift !!

Of course I love kids. Doesn't everyone ? Why do you ask ?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

They're in season now

It wasn't that I didn't remember her, it was that I did. She had an unremarkable face, and had I not noticed her biting down into a strawberry, my eyes would probably have looked right through her; as most of our eyes are wont to do. But there was something about that mouth that brought back a flood of memories, from a time twelve years ago that I thought I had managed to suppress.

I tried to look away, but all I could do was stare at her across the restaurant, transported back to that cruise I had taken, on which I had met a a small group of doctors, all looking to have a good time. And a good time we certainly did have, until we all went to explore an island; and the three of us - she, her male companion, and I; got lost in the jungle. For almost a year after we were rescued, I would try and re-create the scene to figure out how we could have wandered off so far that even a weeks worth of searching (or so the others told us) had yielded no results; at which time we were assumed dead and the ship had sailed away. But it was useless to think of that ... for I knew that all those other thoughts were tied into this one, and so I had stopped.

She bit down no another strawberry, and something her friend said made her laugh. How strange it was, that that laughing face would not have reminded me of her, but those lips did. Why, I asked myself, and then tried with all my will not to answer.

After two weeks of living on whatever rain water we could gather, we had all but given up hope. The island, though lush, had refused to give us any food. Death was near, and there was no way we could out run it. I still remember, it was early in the morning that I felt those drops falling on me, and I managed to open my eyes, and ...

I noticed her pick up another piece and bite down on it. It must have been quite juicy, because I saw her lick her lips.

... I saw her lick her lips. She looked energized, her eyes sparkled, and she held out her hand and offered me a piece. Perhaps I was too slow to respond, but she raised her hand to her mouth, and bit down. I managed to turn my head some more, and saw her tearing open his lifeless body.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chaii-yaa, chaii-yaaa, kaaa-pi

I've traveled by train - a lot. All classes. As kids, daddy dearest would take us out for a vacation every summer and winter, but we usually flew. Most of my train travel happened when I was in college for four years, and was returning back home every month - yes, that's correct, apart from April and May, when we had exams, I was at home every single month - so much so that the first time I did not return for some sixty days or so, Piks sent me a message that read "You have not been back for two months. My mom thinks you are dead. Is that true?"

So as you might gather, I am a seasoned traveler. I've done the whole bit - got in without a ticket and got caught (which actually worked out great, coz Pops (not dad, the other Pops) and I were taken to the head TCs compartment (AC, two tier) and spent the time from Chandrapur to Nagpur (roughly 3 hours) discussing random stuff with him, of course, after telling him how we didn’t have the time to buy the ticket since the train was leaving, and we're so looking forward to seeing our families whom we haven’t seen in ages (yeah, we lied - oh stop judging us), at which time we were let go with a warning of "phir se mat karnaa blah blah pedantic speech chatter chatter"), sat with hijras and discussed random hindi movie stuff, tasted every flavor of Top Ramen there is, been stuck at stations that were quite literally one horse (well, one-goat) towns for hours at end, fallen in love with the vada pao and chai at stations, sat on the train steps and seen the dark shadows of the countryside go by, stood on the steps and felt the air on my face, along with that occasional spurt of water that you fervently hope is not from the loo, grimaced at the afore-mentioned loo, woken up to the sweet sweet sound of someone loudly and continuously ejecting phlegm from their throat, roamed the various bogies looking for that one "hot babe", and waited ... and waited ... and waited some more for trains that eventually showed up four score and twenty years (ok, slight exaggeration there) later.

And between all of this, the one thing that has remain unchanged is that voice - the voice I have heard without exception on each and every one of my journeys - the lady on the speaker system informing people about how some train has either been delayed (resulting in a collective groan from the people on the platforms), or cancelled (resulting in a collective groan from the people on the platforms, followed by them sitting their asses down with a big thump), or decided to change platforms (resulting in a collective groan from the people on the platforms, moving their thump-ed asses and running helter skelter to get to the damn train before it leaves); and each and every single time, her voice has held the deepest conviction when she says ... "The inconvenience caused is deeeeeeeply regretted" ... and I have always wondered ... if it is in fact a cause of such profound regret, why then have I heard her so often ?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Learn it ... waaannn ... I don't want to :(

I was at a book sale today, and bought some stuff for my nieces and nephews. What can I say - I'm just an all around nice guy. There was a book about the movie "Cars" with a small projector that came with it, a "Learn Your First Words" book with a little stuffed lion (which I am quite tempted to keep - even though I dislike stuffed toys ... except if they're monkeys - as you may recall, I seem to have a fascination for all things monkey ... I wonder why!!?!!), and a couple of others. In any case, while going through those books, I was thinking of my own childhood (which, contrary to what people might say, has ended), and I was reminded of a horror that I suffered when I was young, and which, I am certain, is shared by hordes of other children too! Hence, I think it is my civic duty to make you all both aware of a danger that has been, and continues to be, prevalent in our society for a very very long time now. It is something so subtle, and yet so scary, that we have all fallen under it's influence without even realizing it. It preys on our sub-conscious all the time, and we just go and delve deeper into it !! The sad thing is that when this horror envelopes our mind, we are both too young and far too helpless to do anything about it. It is our parents who force this hidden terror into us ... maybe because they have it within them ... and do not even know it. We try to resist, but to no avail. We think of purging it when we grow up ... but by then .... it is too late !!!

As you may have guessed, the thing I am talking about ... the thing that is most definitely the cause of children screaming in the night .... the thing that is so sinister that it makes us repeat itself time and time again, without us even wanting to ... the thing that all parents should be made aware of ... this devil, this evil, this this this ... errrr ... crime ... has a name, and it's called - a nursery rhyme !!!

Haan ... toh now before I begin to describe in detail as to how nursery rhymes have been scaring children for centuries, let me ask you to go ahead and tell your kids, nephews, nieces, colony ke bachhey etc. to go and tear out anything in their school books that is even remotely related to these innocent looking poems. I think it is high time for me to expose nursery rhymes for what they really are .. Satan's weapon to control the minds of young innocent children ... minds that would most certainly become warped after being subjected to this seemingly innocuous torture ... here it is then - the truth behind nursery rhymes - one rhyme at a time ... (Hey !! That rhymed !!)

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down
And broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.

What the hell is this ??!! Not only is this rhyme scary as hell to a little child, it also teaches them incorrect scientific facts !! Water is almost never found at the top of a hill ... wells are dug at the foot of a mountain, mainly because a river flows down ... you know, gravity and all that. And can you imagine a small boy, wanting more than anything to become a mountain climber, perhaps to impress his lady love (that would be Jill) ... who then hears how one's head can be shattered due to the fall, and his dreams are lost forever ... and ... and ... oh ... I cannot go on !!

But, I must.

If you do want your young ones to learn about the exploits of Jack and Jill, then tell them this instead ...

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
They had some whiskey
Felt quite frisky
And came back with a daughter.

Can you imagine the number of lessons in this rhyme now ? Firstly, there isn't any violence ... peace to all mankind !! Secondly, you've already instilled in them the confidence that you are always open to the idea of having the "talk about the birds and the bees" with them, thereby serving another purpose ... you being considered a "cool" parent !! Thirdly, you are promoting the importance of a girl child ... something very important in India today. And finally, you've already warned them about the dangers of drinking too much !!

Let's move on ...

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?

Need I go further ?? Aren't these two lines more than enough to want you to cover your child's ears ?!? Think about it - a 'black' sheep ??!! What sort of scary dreams are your kids going to have ?!? The next time they come to your room, their cheeks dirty with tears, and tell you they cannot sleep ... do not ask them to count sheep ... at least not if you've taught them this rhyme !!! Put yourself in the kid's place for a moment - you're alone in your bed at night ... it's pitch black all around you ... and suddenly ... huge black sheep (with shiny red eyes, no doubt !!) start jumping over a fence !!! ... and then they are all sheared off of their wool ... and their cries grow louder and louder ... and louder ... and then ... there is silence. You might as well make them watch 'Silence of the Lambs' before they go to bed !!

This little pig went to the market.
This little pig stayed home.
This little pig had roast beef.
This little pig had none.
This little pig cried "Wee, wee, wee, wee!"
All the way home.

Don't even get me started on these pigs !! This rhyme only teaches young children three horrible lessons ... "To separate from each other" - why couldn't both the pigs have gone together, why do they not like company ... "To not share your food" - and even more so, imagine being told that one animal ate another animal, and that too after roasting it - do you want young children to try something similar and play with fire !!??!! .... and horrible lesson three is ... "To be a cry baby" - why does the last pig have to cry all the way to home, why can't he be brave and fend for himself ?? I'm sure some stupid pig must have written this rhyme.

Goosey, goosey, gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs, and downstairs,
And in my lady's chamber.

There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers!
I took him by the left leg
And threw him down the stairs.

Hullo ?!?!? Everyone needs to be taught about privacy, and this rhyme does the exact opposite. You cannot simply wander about anywhere you so please ... and specially not into a lady's chamber !!! But that isn't the real reason for this rhyme being evil. Look at the second stanza ... pure unadulterated violence !! That stupid goose threw an old man off the stairs simply because he wouldn't say his prayers !! Not only is this rhyme forcing you to worship God through prayer, but it is telling you that you are going to suffer the worst consequences if you don't !! Which religious fundamentalist group wrote this, I would like to know.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!

If I recall correctly, Humpty bhai-sahab is one huge EGG !! Now firstly, how did an egg manage to climb up a wall, I'll never understand. But even if it did, how high was the goddamn wall that Humpty had a 'great' fall ?? Where was he ... in China ? And if he did fall from a great height, so much so that all the king's horses and men ... errr ... how vela is this king anyway, that he is sending all his people to fix a stupid egg - I'm sure his kingdom was soon lost ... anyways, as I was saying ... if Humpty fell hard on the floor, and cracked ... can you imagine the amount of yolk all around ?? Yuck. How confused would a child get when he tries to re-create the poem on the kitchen floor by smashing an egg on it, and gets slapped for it ... or even worse, gets sent to his room - and is asked to count sheep and sleep off !!! .... and finally - which pervert came up with the name 'Hump'ty 'Dump'ty ??! Chheee.

Hush-a-bye, baby,
in the tree top.
When the wind blows,
the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby,
cradle and all.

Which twisted psychopath wrote this one ??!! You're actually telling a toddler to hush and go to sleep ... but the catch is that the poor thing is on top of a frikkin tree !!! And what's more - his cradle isn't even stable !! A mighty wind is blowing ... all set to fling the child towards the earth ... and not only is the child going to fall, but in all probability, the cradle is going to come crashing onto him !! How'd the child get on top of the tree in the first place ?? Was this rhyme written exclusively for Tarzan's child or what ? And then parents wonder as to why their child cries before he is put to sleep. Wake up, folks !!

It's raining, it's pouring;
The old man is snoring.
Bumped his head
And he went to bed
And he couldn't get up in the morning.

Errr ... excuse me ... but did we just tell a child that someone died !!!??!!! What happened to the old man - did he get pneumonia after he slept out in the rain ? And was there no one to help him get up later on, that he managed to bang his head ? Why didn't someone ask him if he needed any medicine before he went to bed ? Has the old soul been abandoned by his 'near and dear' ones in his time of need ? Is this what we want the future of our nation to learn ??!

Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Can you really blame children if they develop a fear of arachnids after reading this rhyme ? All the spider did was come and sit down besides Muffet .... why in the world did she have to get frightened ? The spider didn't even say "Boo" ... for all we know, the poor spider might have come down to have a bit of a chat, or maybe even to ask Muffet is she'd like to spice up her curds and whey with some fly remains from yesterday !! But Muffet decided to run away ... thereby instilling in children the false belief that spiders are evil !! Has anyone complained about this sissy Muffet girl to the "Society for Protection of Spiders" ... or at least to Spiderman, at any rate ?? At the very least, this rhyme should come with the disclaimer that Muffet was a stupid cowardly little girl, who probably deserved to fall off the mountain instead of hamaari pyaari Jill behen !!

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, Falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

Once again, need I say more ? The rhyme just managed to kill off thousands of people !! London bridge, apart from being a site of historical importance, is one of the busiest places in London ... (Errr ... totally made up fact, but it just might be true !!). Should a child be subjected to this atrocity of a rhyme ??!! Think of the horrible scenarios a child's mind might create ... Was the bridge architecturally unsound ? Has a terrorist attack happened ?? Have aliens actually decided to take over our planet ? Is the government doing anything to protect the people there ? And why in God's name is some idiot singing it out to some fair lady ??

Bas ... ab I must stop ... all this is too much for me !! My memory isn’t what it used to be, but I remember reading that Ring-a Ring-a roses is actually about plague and death !! Why in the world are children being taught this when they are so young ? I am certain that every nursery rhyme has some deep rooted evil within it, and urge you all to protect your children from this irreversible harm.

Namaskar and Jai hind !!

Samaj-sewak GG

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yeh fashion ke naye rang hain ...



I have SO much to say about each and every second of this video ... seriously, every shot is such a gold mine of comments!! But I'm not going to. I'm sure everyone has their own favorite bit. I will, however, admit that I have in fact seen this movie, and even remember that towards the end they have this whole "making of" video. How very Rush hour of them.

Youtube doesn't seem to have the other song from this movie, which in my opinion is a total classic. I think I shall write down some lines right here -

Yeh faaaeesshuuunnn ke naye rang hainnnn
Nayaa hai yeh zamaanaaaa
Oooo OOO oooo OO ooooo ...

Lipstick powder aur cream
Mere liye laana
Oooo OOO oooo OO ooooo ...

Main bhi faaaeesshuuunnn karoongaa
Michael Jackson banooongaa!!

Mere liye laanaaaaaaa
pyaar ka khazaaanaaaa!!

Yeh faaaeesshuuunnn ke naye rang hainnnn
Nayaa hai yeh zamaanaaaa
Oooo OOO oooo OO ooooo ...


How can that not make everyone want to break out into an interpretive dance!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

And we meet again

I imagine the feelings of two people meeting again after many years. In the past they spent some time together, and therefore they think they are linked by the same experience, the same recollections. The same recollections? That's where the misunderstanding starts: they don't have the same recollections; each of them retains two or three small scenes from the past, but each has his own; their recollections are not similar; they don't intersect; and even in terms of quantity they are not comparable: one person remembers the other more than he is remembered; first because memory capacity varies among individuals (an explanation that each of them would at least find acceptable), but also (and this is more painful to admit) because they don't hold the same importance for each other.

Ignorance, by Milan Kundera

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

1000s of words on moving day

The flatmate and I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn last month - or the equivalents for San Diego - from La Jolla to Mira Mesa. The rent - it was the rent. Yeah, both of us - cheap bastards.

It began with us dismantling his flowery bed. I don't know ... guess he feels like a little princess when he is on it. Wait, that explains the queen size bed !!

Mine was simpler - I just had to pull the sheet off my bed. King size. Just like Jackie Shroff asked me to live life.

Step 3 - scrounging for boxes and trash bags. No problemo.

"Yo ... flatty", said I, "don't forget to pack up your guitar. I'm sure you will suddenly get enthu-ed up to play it in the new apartment, which will cause me endless suffering till you learn to play the damn thing properly".

I'm quite clairvoyant-ish.

"Yo ... fatty", said he, "ditto on the keyboard you'll never play".

Hmm ... he isn't bad at predictions either!

The flatmate was being his usual productive self.


So was I.

Oh the T ? It says "Sex ... I'm two people short of a threesome". I've got a lots of such Ts, but that specific one is for night time wearing. Yes, the sting of irony is not lost on me either.

Inspired by his dhobi, the flatmate says voila!

Well, at least I have my most important box all done.

Hokay, let's tackle the living room and the kitchen.


How the hell did we ever collect all this junk ?


One of those papasan chairs is actually broken, but since they were bought together, one cannot be thrown without the other. Janam janam ka saath kinds.

After what seemed like ages, even I managed to get done.


And here we are ... the view from my new room ... where I see myself spending many voyueristic hours in the near future :)

Call me a judgmental bitch, but ...

I met one of my foundry contacts today - this guy who is my counterpart in one of the foundries that I work with - which means that he essentially does similar work in his company as I do in mine. We had been interacting via email and phone for over a year now, and I had formed a mental image of him. I pictured him to be a Hispanic guy (because of his name), slightly under-confident and slow on the uptake (just from his responses over the last year), hard working, and about my age - well, perhaps a bit older since he is a senior engineer, which is one level above me, but no more than 30.

It turns out that I was right about it all, except his age. I didn't get the figure wrong - 30 was correct - if you were talking about the number of years he has been with the same company. As impressed as I was that someone would stick to the same job for thirty whole years, I couldn't help but wonder what it might have been that made him totally lose ambition to rise up in his career, and if I too would become like that one day - a senior engineer after working in the same position for thirty years!!!

Even government offices promote you faster.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Akele ho?

I was in the middle of a meeting today, with almost my entire team present; and as I was explaining to them how the schedule was completely unreasonable to meet the tapeout deadline, and projecting my plan on the big ass screen, (while simultaneously glaring at my boss to chime in and back me up - which he did - I love him!!!), up popped this buxom blonde, wearing a very tight white t-shirt which gave one and all an ample view of her silicone implants, with her right index finger parting her lips just the right amount - which made her seem sexy but not bulimic, standing over a jazzy caption which informed me (and my entire team) that we all didn't have to be alone tonight, when we could easily "get with" the ladies at adultfriendfinder.com.

I have finally contacted IT to take care of the fukkin adware in my comp.

Shoo, you stupid cow!

Here I am, barely able to type right now, on account of feeling like a damn sardine on this AA flight from New York. I've flown a number of airlines in the past, but American Airlines is most certainly one of the most ghatiya of the lot ... the leg room is highly insufficient, the seats are smaller than other economy flights, even some of the seats have rips in them. Yuck. But since there is some random CBS report about a lady who used to write about the environment being shown on the TV screen, I'd rather kill my time doing this.

Speaking of American, Americans (yeah I know - nice segue), for the most part, are a very friendly lot. But every now and then, you either meet, or see, someone whom you can barely resist the urge to slap. In my experience, these are usually white Americans, in their late 50s to mid 60s, mostly women (sure, call me sexist if you want, but 4 times out of 5, it's a woman), probably someone who grew up with a fixed set of ideas, and has never been able to break that mould, and mostly with enough money, but just short of the amount they would have liked to have. Also, they almost always have an "Americanized" name like Beth or Ruth. I'm sure I was Freud in a past life.

The reason that I am being so analytical is because I saw one such lady, with her hen-pecked hubby, while I was getting on to the flight. And surprise surprise, her name turned out to be Judy - I snuck a look at her boarding card. So Judy, apparently, tried to get an upgrade; but since she had initially bought an economy ticket, she couldn't sit in business class since they were out of seats. Norah (a very rich - clearly old money, and very hippie - hair colors included jet black, a bit of blonde, a little bit of purple, and some brown - lady), also about the same age as Judy, did book a business class seat, and so she was allowed to board before everyone else, which she didn't ... perhaps she got late or something.

So here everyone is, waiting in line to board, when Judy loudly proclaims - "Ohhh ... "we" should have gotten on when they announced priority boarding." ... perhaps thinking herself to be Moses and expecting everyone to part like the Red Sea, allowing Norah, and apparently herself (since they were there together) to go on ahead. Norah said that that wasn't a problem, and that she didn't mind standing in line just like everyone else. Judy thought this was quite below her, and had she managed to upgrade, she would not have had to stand with the little people. Perhaps in a haze of superiority, she cut right in front of this other American woman, almost hitting her with her travel bags. Well, this woman was not having any of it, and asked Judy to "wait your turn and not be so rude". It was awesome to hear the chuckles all around !!

So back went poor Judy, looking chastised, while Norah walked on ahead of her, clearly not wanting to have anything to do with the old tart. I guess there is a moral to this story, but I can't be bothered to think about it right now. I'm just hoping Judy creates a scene when we get off as well ... more fodder for the blog.

Airports really are such fun places!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My trip to NYC

It's 12:27 in the morning, and I'm semi-lying down on the futon in N's apartment, while he is taking out guttural sounds, much like the Loch Ness monster. While I have been kept awake by those same reverberations in the past (a part of the Euro-trip which I have tried hard to block out), they are not the reason I am awake. He dozed off a while back, and I was hoping to catch the episode of Brothers and Sisters that I missed this evening ... since the two of us were walking on Brooklyn bridge - which, by the way, I had never done before - and also not seen a number of places in all my previous trips here - I have no idea what the hell I've done each time that I've been back ... but stupid ABC hasn't put it up on their website yet. So here I am, awake, and writing.

This trip to NYC has been like many other in the past, where I have stayed at N's place - I always tell him that the reason I fly across the country is to visit him - though the real reason is that I absolutely love being in this city, and find a great place to stay in his apartment - which, of course, costs me nothing, except that I have to listen to his sarcastic remarks all day long (and yes, I totally enjoy those), but since I have no qualms about making like a bird and going (being) cheap cheap (ok, bad joke), I'd rather stay here than spring on a hotel. Needless to say, his invite to come visit me in SD is always open, but since I know he believes he will self destruct any time he steps even an inch west of Chicago, there is hardly any possibility of him showing up at my doorstep - baggage and caustic tongue in hand.

So as I was saying, the trip, as always, has been quite a lot of fun. I've clearly gotten a lot of things "out of my system" - his words, not mine - which include Ethiopian food at Awash, the pastries at Veniero's, falafel at that place on 6th street (my God ... food food food ... little wonder that I'm turning into a frikkin whale), walking through both the East and West village ... and looking at Carrie Bradshaw's house on Perry street - which, needless to say, was in his system, not mine ... hanging out at Washington square - which we will be returning to tomorrow morning, to have the dosas from the dosa-cart uncle, having hot chocolate at the Bald Man shop, and walking through SoHo - which I've done a few time before, but is always fun to do. We also went and watched Superbad, and I have no clue why it's a must watch movie - it's funny in parts, but I wouldn't really recommend it to people. Oh well - not too much a waste of time, though. Plus I got some of my work, which I really needed to get done, done - so I can be at peace when I take the day off tomorrow - well, today, now.

And of course, we've talked. About everything under the sun. I know he needed to, and I'm glad he did. I've never been one to sugarcoat what I say - especially to my friends, and it has been the same over the last two days. I don't know whether any of what I said made sense, but I'm hoping there was at least something substantial in all the rubbish that comes out of my mouth. Even as I write this here, I realize that there is so much more I wanted to say ... have wanted to for some time now ... but I guess there will be a time and a place for that.

And one thing that he said stuck with me, and got me thinking enough to write this post. Man ... I sure know how to go on and on and on without getting to the damn point.

"Gaurav, I've come to realize that while you should have a bigger picture in mind, it is SO important to live in the present. If you've been meaning to do something, then do it. Don't wait to do it tomorrow - if there is nothing stopping you from doing it now, then why wait ? We need to spend less time thinking about how things could have been, or how things will be in the future, and start focusing on what we have today, what we are doing now."

It wasn't what he said, it was how he said it. It made me think of the list I made two years back - that list of 10 things I wanted to do before my 27th birthday.

Bungee jump
Sky diving
Tried substitute teaching
Learnt to play the piano properly
Would be ready to take the GMAT
Would have taken a cruise/trip
Would have a new hairstyle, and colored hair
Will get a thumb ring
Would have participated in a play
Would be involved in some volunteer work

Two months to go, and I’m at five out of ten. Well, not exactly. I did learn the piano, and did start to study for the GMAT, and even went and got my hair shaved - but honestly, all those half-assed attempts don't really count. And what is it that has stopped me from doing the rest ? Honestly, I don't know. Each of those things could have been quite easily done. They just haven't. I also thought about things I think about doing quite regularly, and then think how tomorrow would be a good day to start - going to the beach, going for a jog, dieting, being more proactive about not being single, planning (at least broadly) my future, practicing the piano, reading more that I do, investing, trying harder to stay in touch with people ... the list could go on and on.

I don't even have an iota of the problems some people face, and yet I find my life to be so full of complications. I find excuses to procrastinate, to convince myself that I simple do not have the time to be a better person, to think that I have many years ahead of me to do all the things I have always been meaning to do. I hope that the next time I'm busy watching some crap on TV, I'm going to hear N tell me ... Gaurav, If you've been meaning to do something, then do it ... do it now.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Thoughts in the shower II

Things to say to bugging relatives when they tell me that I should get married now that I'm settled:

- I hate you.
- Errr ... I already did. She got pregnant. There wasn't much choice left.
- I would, but the judge has ordered me not to till the murder charges are dropped.
- You've been quite miserable all these years, so I really don't see the point.
- Actually, I'm already committed to someone. His name is Peter.
- Uh oh, I guess you're one of the few who weren't invited.
- Isn't it tougher to have multiple sex partners once you're married?
- I tried to. Instead of Quabool, I kept saying Babool. You need some toothpaste?
- Why? You think mom would make a good chudail saas or what?
- Zaroor! (I'm sure they will faint at this)
- Lay off the damn K-serials!

70 days and counting

The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering". So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.

- Ignorance, by Milan Kundera

Two and a half years since I've been back ... I'm nostalgic as hell.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bechaara Guddu

Thandi mein paseena chale naa bhookh naa pyaas lage ...
Yaar yahi pyaar toh nahi ??
Daddy se poochhungaaa ...

Daddy says - Abe Gadhey, yeh pyaar nahi ... tujhko tez bukhaar hai !! Chal dawai khaa.

Do karm, don't wait for phal ?

Something has clicked. I don't know how it happened, when it happened, or why it happened. But it has. And while I guess I shouldn't be as surprised as I am, well, I am!! After about a year and a half (well, two and a half if you count my internship - though I wasn't really interacting with anyone but my boss during that time) of working, I suddenly seem to know what the hell I'm talking about.

I shall take a moment to let you (and myself) digest this.

I think it started about six or seven months ago. I was in a meeting, and someone was blabbering on and on about some nonsense, during which times I usually either chat with P, or zone out completely; when I suddenly realized that he was talking total rubbish; which was rather strange seeing as how he had been (supposedly) doing that work for over three years! Well, I pointed out the gaping holes in his "procedure", and was amazed to hear myself talk (those who know me personally must now be quite shocked, since it is a well known fact that I simply loooove to hear myself go on and on ... kind of like the energizer bunny ... oh man, my mind is running in so many directions right now with the "go on and on" bit ... but, I digress) ... specially since what I was saying made complete sense - not only to me, but to everyone else as well.

And it has been happening ever since. Over the last few months, I haven't just been talking through my hat. And it's amazing to see that people actually listen to what I have to say. I guess the reason I find this so hard to digest is because while I know I do my job really well, I also know that I am so not cut out to do what I do. It's too technical ... it's stuff that the "brainy" guys are supposed to do (no, I'm not saying I'm one ... I'm witty and sharp. Brainy - not so much), it's work that my boss is a total hero at. I remember how I hadn't a damn clue about anything when I first started. And while I haven't consciously made an effort to learn more, somehow, I have! It's actually made me excited about work. Even though the workload right now has finally grown too large for me to handle (14 deadlines in the next 28 days), and my boss is doing his best to get me some help (at work!!! *glare*), I am actually enjoying it a great deal.

Some of the stuff that really made me feel awesome (and no, I'm neither making this up, nor have I imagined it) ...

- One of the managers saying the group really needs to give me a raise and a promotion.
- My boss telling me that if I want to look for an intern myself, I need to find someone just like me.
- A senior engineer telling a staff engineer that if I'm saying something about the work I did some time ago, it must be right and there is no need to double-check.
- My director actually changing his mind after I told him how I would prefer doing the work he was asking me to do, and letting me run with it.

Now I must admit that a part of the work that I do has become almost second nature to me. In the sense that I still need to be careful when I do it, but it's almost like muscle memory - I know what I'm doing, and I don't need to think about how to do it. So it gives me the chance to try and improve it, which, I guess, is noticed. The one good thing is that I'm the only one (apart from my boss, who is far too busy) in the entire hardware group who does this work - which is great for job security, but bad since everything funnels down to one person. And the work is going to increase a lot more, since I was just made the project lead for a certain chip for one of the foundries we work with, which is something I am totally looking forward to; even though it is sure to give me quite a few sleepless nights.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a detective - I love to snoop on people. I still want to be a teacher - because I know I'm good at it. I always thought I would be superb at marketing - I love selling crap to people. My secret wish is to be a pole dancer - no details here. All careers which involve constant human interaction. And here I am, waxing lyrical about sitting behind a computer, waiting to start interacting one-on-one with the foundry, excited at the prospect of being a part of a brand new technology right from the get-go.

Once a geek, always a geek. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A profile match

The blood trickled down the knife, and mixed with that on the floor ... still spurting out of the neck, forming a pool that wasn't quite red, and wasn't quite liquid.

Two hours earlier ...

She asked him to spend the night with her. It was the report about the serial killer in her neighborhood that had her spooked. Agreed, she did not know him all that well, but she felt she could trust him. If the killer was out there, she needed someone to protect her ... well, not exactly protect, but just to be in around, be in the house. She knew that if her life had to end, it would ... but she convinced herself that the presence of another person would serve as a deterrent to the psycho on the streets. He agreed, albeit reluctantly. They were at her place, making small talk, when she went into the kitchen to make them both some coffee. He heard her get started, and decided to put on some music. He thought about how she was putting up a brave front, but had noticed the fear and uneasiness in her eyes. Stop worrying, he called out as he selected a song to play, he isn't going to hurt you while I'm there. What makes you think it's a man, was the last thing he heard before the knife sliced through his throat.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Total Gem I've Found

Check out this wonderful-ness:



Govinda dressed as Superman, and Kimi Katkar playing Spider-woman (though called "Laaddyyy" in the song, the reason for which is soon revealed) ... I toh was totally fascinated, and a little bit nostalgic, actually - since I know for a fact that I've seen the movie the song is from !! And while I don't remember the name, I do remember that they were both trapped in this store at night, and they saw these costumes and started imagining themselves to be charatcers from DC and Marvel comics respectively !!

So anyhow, in their all too fertile imagination, they both see themselves flying through the air, and singing the following inane lines ...

Tu mera supermaaaaan
Tu meri Laaaddddyyyyy ...
Ho gaya hai apnaaa
Pyaar all-raiddyyyy !!


See why Spider-woman was replaced by lady ? How else could you get such melodious lyrics, haan?

Here are the bits I thought were the best -

21 seconds into it ... and I couldn't help but focus on who has the larger thighs ?

About 2 minutes in ... and they kiss!!! Well, almost. Their lips are precisely apart so as to make it seem raunchy (at least by the 80s ka standard) without offending anyone. So very susheel and sabhya!

Is Bappi-da responsible for the music? I ask because of the chorus in the background when he's beating up those taporis ...

super super super super supermaaann
super super super super supermaaann


Totally sooper, I tell you!

And right after he's done with those no-gooders, they wave to the happy couple - obviously, dancing the whole time.

I hope you didn't miss Superman's lovely black boots - complete with heels and all. And I'm sure you paid special attention to the incredible special effects - what fun it must be to have your bodies become completely transparent every time you're descending onto terra firma.

There were a few things that did make me cringe, though ...

One - the absolutely horrendrous costumes of the side people. When God gave out fashion sense, did our costume designers stand there with a seive ? And two - that most bugging tyyyooonn ttttyoonn ttyoonttyonyon tune in the background. Uff, my poor ears!

But all in all, such a blast from the past.

More tit-bits ... heehee ... still not grown up!

I see things, hear stuff, imagine scenarios - and always think of putting it down here. But by the time "inspiration" hits, I've lost the mood to write. And right now is the completely opposite case - I want to write ... a long long long post ... about something interesting, something witty ... and I have no idea what to put down. I guess I'm just going to try to recollect stuff I've been meaning to write about, and see what comes out. Though I really should be sleeping - it's almost 1 in the morning, and I have absolutely shitloads of work at work, and really can't afford to reach late.

Speaking of work, I got involved in rather ugly office politics recently. There isn't any point in getting into the details - I didn't want to ... that really isn't my job ... but I guess I could only be pushed so far by this one particular project lead (let's call him FB - which naturally stands for Fukkin Bastard), before I decided to push back. To cut a long story short, I finally showed him to be the FB he truly is in front of a number of people, including his manager (who is also the director of my group). Thankfully I had the complete and total support of my manager, who anyways hates the FB. Will this have some sort of a repercussion on my career ? I highly doubt it. Have I made an enemy in my own group ? Perhaps, perhaps not - specially since FB is universally hated for his sneaky ways, and I did do my part quite diplomatically. Did it feel good to finally have him on the run ? Yes ... immensely. Then why did the whole incident leave such a bad taste in my mouth, specially since he really had it coming ?

Well, I guess the weekend away in Vegas will help distract me away from all of this. Yeah .. I'm off to Vegas for the weekend, along with the flatmate and the Mahatma - people I have a really good time with - mostly because both of them are quite adept at tolerating me! And since each of us has already been to Vegas before, this weekend is going to be all about fun and sin and some more fun. On the cards is three nights of gambling and getting sloshed, watching Ka on Saturday, and definitely visiting at least one strip club. I think it is time for me to admit this - in my five years in this country, I have never ... yes, never ... been to one. I'm about to complete twenty-frikkin-seven years of my life - and while I do a mean pole dance myself, I've never seen one live. Well, that's going to change, for sure - specially since both the fools I'm going with are as willing as I am - and more so, because the real reason to go to Vegas is that both of them turned a year older last week (on the same day!), and what better place to forget you're nearing the "uncle age" *shudder* than Vegas ?!?!?

Speaking of birthdays, I was going to put up a whole post about the flatmate - a suggestion made by The Canuck Engineer (who, by the way, might show up in Vegas too!). I did start to write some stuff, but lost enthu after about six or seven lines. But I guess I will - some day. After all, he is one of the very few people who I'm almost as close to as my school friends. In fact, right now he is the only one who knows about my present crush.

Well, that's not entirely true. The crush isn't quite so present anymore - it's started to die down. Which is both good and bad. Good, coz it wasn't going to go anywhere. And bad because I think it's actually quite fun to have a crush on someone. It keeps the heart excited and the mind fertile - you know, when you think up ways to "accidentally run into" the person you like ... or that feeling - that strange, almost indescribable feeling - you get when you suddenly meet them when least expected. I guess I better find someone else to stalk make the object of my affections!

Of course, that will have to be someone other than Delhi, the city I grew up in, and the city I will perhaps always identify myself with, which is now, just as it has always been, the true object of my affection. I'm not even going to get started on the reasons as to why I love the city, nor am I going to write about what's wrong with it. What I will say is that I am so looking forward to being back this December. It would have been two and a half years since I last saw it - the longest I have ever been away. I don't miss it on a regular basis - but the anticipation of going back is immense. Luckily, I haven't done anything geeky like putting up a countdown counter to the day I fly out (ok, not publicly at least!!), but I know it isn't too long now. Sadly, I will be flying all through my birthday - but really, who cares - I'm going to be back soon, and I know I want to do tons and tons of stuff. What stuff, I don't yet know - except for two things - both of which involve eating. One, I just have to have to have to eat those dal pakodas that you get in Lajpat Nagar. I even know the thhele vaala bhaiya I want to go to. And two, Mom's going to make me her spinach baked dish. Even after all this time and eating food from so many parts of the world, that dish remains one of the best things I've ever had.

Well I guess that's a lot of what I've been meaning to write about. I wonder what I'll feel when I read this blog some years down the line, irrespective of whether or not I'm still updating it then. BT once asked me as to why I write? I couldn't quite give her an appropriate answer - but perhaps one of the reasons is to come back to it some time later - to read what I had written, and to try and recall who I used to be, and how I've grown and changed.

Such deep thoughts - I'm quite wise, really !!

Say it isn't so ...

I refuse to believe this, mainly because it would be too depressing if it were true.

Or perhaps it is that time doesn't heal all wounds, perhaps that is the biggest lie of them all, and instead what happens is that each wound penetrates the body depper and deeper until one day you find that the sheer geography of your bones - the angle of your head, the jutting of your hips, the sharpness of your shoulders, as well as the lustre of your eyes, the texture of your skin, the openness of your smile - has collapsed under the weight of your griefs.

The Space Between Us, by Thrity Umrigar

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Just an Urban Legend

"Vampires? Vampires!! For the last time, there are no such things as vampires ... they're just urban legends", said Constable Mordum.

He was trying his best to control the crowd of frightened villagers, all gathered around the body of Mr. Dullers, who looked exactly like the last five victims - an ashen face and neck, as if the blood had been completely drained out, his eyes wide open with fear, his tongue hanging limply to the side, and those two marks - those distinct puncture wounds on his neck - neat, precise, deep holes - the attacker clearly knew what he (or she) was doing - staring back at everyone like two tiny black eyes, holding a secret within them.

"But this is the sixth death ... the SIXTH death", shouted someone.

Panic had gripped even the strongest of heart. For there was someone, or something, in the village which seemed to have an unquenchable thirst for human blood. The deaths ... the killings, rather, had started a few months earlier, and there were absolutely no clues. Strange, for it was a small village - barely five hundred people, and almost everyone knew everyone else. Granted, there was regular tourist traffic, and then there were those bums who lived by the mines, and those gypsies who came and went as they pleased, but that had been so for quite some years. Talk of the apocalypse and the end of days was now common at the local bar, and people tried their best to be inside their houses (with the locks fastened) no later than sundown. And then there was Constable Mordum, clearly under pressure to solve these crimes, and without a single lead. Word had been sent to the police station in the city to send re-enforcements, but they were yet to arrive.

A week after Mr. Dullers's body had been found, Constable Mordum received a call from Mr. Thicket, the local doctor, who had performed autopsies on all the bodies. He arrived promptly, since the doctor's voice had sounded quite urgent over the phone. A feeling of unease gripped him even as he cycled to the doctor's house ... perhaps because it was getting late in the evening. Dr. Thicket showed him into the back of the house, which also functioned as his laboratory. There were a few cadavers around, their innards visible for all to see.

"Constable Mordum", said Dr. Thicket in his low, controlled voice, "as you know, I am a man of science. And being so, these deaths bother me a great deal. The wounds, the state of the bodies, the absolute lack of blood in the face and neck just does not go down well with anything that I have seen or read in all my years. And given that the same kind of deaths have taken place in other villages as well, I was determined to get to the bottom of this. And so, over the last month or so, I have been digging up some information ... most of which, I am sure, you and your department must be aware of. If not, I'm sure it will be helpful."

Constable Mordum raised his eyebrows.

"There seem to be a lot of common factors to these killings," the doctor continued, "which I found out by talking to some of my contacts and some newspaper editors in these villages. Allow me to list some of them out. The bodies have always been found in the exact same fashion, there have never been any witnesses, and the police is yet to catch any one. Moreover, and this is quite interesting, there have always been exactly seven murders per village - no more, no less. Of course, that may have been due to the increased police vigilance in those villages, but then, there is one more factor, which is more interesting that all the rest."

Constable Mordum stared at Dr. Thicket without blinking.

"And that factor, Mordum, is you. Isn't it strange that you were the constable in each of those villages, and you were the one who got transferred, by your own choice, I have no doubt, to another village once seven bodies had been devoid of life? It appears that some urban legends, are in fact, not legends after all."

Constable Mordum smiled.

"Vampires? Vampires!! For the last time, there are no such things as vampires ... they're just urban legends", said Constable Mordum.

He was trying his best to control the crowd of frightened villagers, all gathered around the body of Dr. Thicket, who looked exactly like the last six victims ...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

India - December - Fo sho!

If he continued his life in New York, he might never see his pitaji again. It happened all the time; ten years passed, fifteen, the telegram arrived, or the phone call, the parent was gone and the child was too late. Or they returned and and found they'd missed the entire last quarter of a lifetime, their parents like photograph negatives. And there were worse tragedies. After the initial excitement was over, it often became obvious that the love was gone; for affection was only a habit after all, and people, they forgot, or they became accustomed to its absence. They returned and found just the facade; it had been eaten from inside, like Cho Oyu being gouged by termites from within.

The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dukhi Aatma - Me.

I am sad. Well, not really sad, but uneasy ... about a lot of things. Most of which I can't put my finger on. It's just a bad feeling. Actually, I can list most of them out ... just so much seems to be making me unhappy - not unhappy, just ... bothered ... in a weird way; not bothered as in "he is bothering me", but bothered as in "too many things to think about and I can't seem to streamline my thoughts" kinds - and while it usually helps to verbalize my thoughts at such times, none of the people whom I find as interesting as myself are available at the moment, so this seems to be the next best option.

The only thing that's constant is change, said some person who clearly had enough time to come up with such random one liners. A number of things have changed in the last few days, and yet so much more needs to. I've been thrown out of my comfort zone, which is being rather distressing, and I still want to get out of my comfort zone, which is not happening as fast as I would like it to. Ufff ... even my thoughts are going all over the place. I could list out all the things that are good in my life, and yes ... I know that almost everything is ... I really am leading a rather blessed life - touch wood - but this post is not meant to list that stuff out. I think it might help to write down the things that are making me write this in the first place ...

I only truly care for about a handful of people. And when two of them are going through a rough patch in their lives, and I can't do anything for them but talk to them every now and then, it depresses the hell out of me. It's at times like these that I feel there really isn't any point to anything. But all I can do is be there if they need me, and pray for them. At least I can meet one of them if needed - it doesn't really solve anything, but I guess one does what one can. A lot of times, when I would be having fun with some people, I'd think about one of them and get depressed ... well, not depressed, but sad ... at the thought of people I like so much having to face such tough situations. Most of what I am thinking about pales in comparison to what my friends, and so many other people, are going through.

I just moved to a new place. It isn't as nice as where I was living, neither in terms of the house nor in terms of the area. I'm not saying the apartment is not nice ... it's just not the same as the previous one. Of course, I am saving some money on the rent, but right now, I absolutely hate sitting in my apartment. It's just been two days since I moved, luckily with the same flat mate, and I've only just managed to unpack everything (by the way, I have too much worthless crap that should be thrown out), but the house is extremely depressing. I know the main reason is that it isn't well lit ... and we haven’t had the time to get more lights ... but the whole moving thing seems to have messed with my comfort zone a great deal. I had been living in my previous apartment for over a year and half, and I guess had gotten quite used to the place. Right now, I hate even stepping into the kitchen ... it's significantly smaller than the earlier one, but it has all these brand new appliances ... but somehow, I just can't get myself to stay in there for more than two minutes. The new place is nice ... the room is all set up the way I want it ... but something about the place makes me want to run away. I guess I'll just have to wait and get used to it.

I've also been thinking about where life is going. On a number of fronts. I have been quite busy at work, not only with work work, but also with a number of extra curricular activities ... or at least I was ... till about two weeks ago. It is possible that I've become restless because I don't have anything besides work keeping me busy nowadays. I tend to get that way if my days are not completely jam packed. Well, work itself is going superbly ... the boss is happy, work is interesting, lots of new projects have come my way ... so no problems there. But when I think of the future ... my professional future ... it all seems to become quite hazy. And that wasn't the case. I was quite certain of what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. For some reason, it's all become quite fuzzy now. Guess it's because there are lots of options ... and I haven't done the necessary groundwork to sort it all out. For some reason, I simply can't find the motivation to get started. Perhaps writing stuff here will help.

Then there is the personal front. As vain as this feels even as I type it out, I am quite unhappy with my appearance. First, the fuckin haircut ... I seriously don’t know what came over me. Its taking absolutely forever to grow back ... and to make things worse, my idiotic face seems to have decided to break out into random rashes every other day. I've never had to really "care" for my skin, and I am so not ready to start doing any thing special now. Wash my face more often, perhaps ? Another thing that’s been bugging me is the lack of motivation to diet and exercise. Thankfully, I still haven’t turned into a blimp, but I really could do with losing about 10 pounds ... coz I know it would make me happy. Plus my back, which is starting to hurt once again, would feel a lot better. I know that there are no shortcuts and that I need to put in the work ... and yet, just like doing the research on the professional side, I just can’t seem to get started.

No wonder then, that I'm single. Though thankfully, this is the one area which does not bother me in the least. Ok ... that’s not entirely true. I guess I'm still happy being single, but I recently found out that someone I used to like a lot at one point of time kinda likes me now ... but there are too many things which will make it not work out now. Plus I have a crush on someone else, which is not going anywhere in any case. Ugh ... such horrible timing all around.

I know that except for the first one, none of these things are really significant. I didn’t say they were, but they’re things that have been going on in my messed up head for some time now. Did putting it down here help ? I don't really know ... but it's at least better than trying to streamline them in my head. God knows there is enough junk up there as it is.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The truth shall be told

The last two strands of hair on a bald man's head got married, but were promptly arrested. Kyu ?
Kyu ki baal-vivaah jurm hai !!

So there I was, enjoying the amazing San Diego breeze on a great Saturday morning, all enthu about going to the beach party later in the day, when I happened to glance at myself in the side view mirror, decided I did not like my hair any more, and went and got a proper mundu-type buzz cut, which, of course, I absolutely love-d, which is kinda obvious seeing that this was not the first time I had got it done on an impulse, the previous two times also having happened as I saw my reflection in a mirror, but I seemed to have forgotten, yet again, the fact that while the cut looks really nice (or so I feel) when it's just done, it looks absolutely horrible two weeks down the line, by which time it is too bloody late to do anything about it, except wear a cap or a bandana, both of which I do not do, or wait the three to four months it takes for my hair to grow back to its normal length.

Before I move on, I award myself a pat on the back for writing the longest sentence I have ever written.

So long sentence short, I got a horrible hair cut and now look like a chutiya.

Naturally, my "friends" have spared no expense in letting me know what they think, with me being called everything from a sex offender to Dilip Kumar in Padosan to a mundu to a bhikari to some of them just making rather disgusted faces while looking at me.

And here is a list of excuses answers I have given to the quintessential question - Why ?

* I think I look nice ... (Even I have stopped believing this)
* I decided to be celibate for the next few months and didn't know how else to do it
* I didn't tip the hairdresser enough last time
* Why not ?
* I got drafted
* The look's making a comeback ... and as always, I am way ahead of everyone else regarding trends
* Huh ?? What happened ?
* It's another tactic I'm using to get attention
* San Diego had a heat wave coming and I wanted to be prepared
* I was making sure my hairline was all right

All said and done, the real reason really was that I looked into the mirror and decided I didn't want my hair any longer. I know ... I'm working on it ... appointments two times a week. He's expensive, but came highly recommended. Plus the couch is really comformtable.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Matter of Perspective

Her diary

My faith in humankind has been restored. A few hours ago, I was running horribly late for the party I was planning for my boyfriend ... he returned from the Netherlands after 3 months, and it was almost 7 pm and I hadn't gotten any thing going. There I was, flustered out of my wits at the grocery store, urging the stupid cashier woman to move faster, and once I was out the door (after what seemed like ages!!), my bags split open and everything spilled all over the place. Not one person stopped to help, even though I was on the verge of tears, and then, as I was frantically trying to pick everything up, this man started to help me. John. His name was John. He ran into the store, got me some new bags, helped put everything in them, and then walked me to my car - since it was quite dark outside, and the parking lot was quite deserted. Such a gentleman! But as luck would have it, my car had a flat tire. I swear, dear diary, I would have absolutely lost it had he not offered to fix it. I tried to pay him, but he simply refused - saying that a good gesture would then be tainted. I really wanted to thank him, so I invited him over for the party. He refused on account of feeling out of place, especially since he was new in town. I told him that this would be the perfect opportunity for him to meet my boyfriend and our friends, and get to know more people. He seemed very shy, so I gave him my number, and asked him to call in case he felt like coming. He did call, an hour or so later, and informed me that his mother had taken ill, so he'd need to stay home and take care of her. My word ... I didn't think they made guys like him any more! Well, we decided to meet up another time ... and I really am looking forward to it.

His diary

I should have moved faster. Jessica, 24, white female, blonde hair, blue eyes - just how I like them. I never realized that man she hangs out with would return so soon. This could get harder now ... though it will be more fun as well. After five months of following her, I felt today would have been the perfect opportunity. Slashing her car tire seemed like a good enough move, but then her bags broke as she was getting out of the store, and I couldn't risk someone else coming near the car. Luckily, people here are too selfish, and no one bothered to help. Perfect. Just perfect. I walked her to her car, but too many people had seen us together outside the store, so I changed her tire and let her go. Spoilt little bitch ... can't even change a goddamn tire. She invited me for her party, but I got out of it using the standard mother excuse. I'm sure that must have just melted her innocent little heart. Haa! She gave me her phone number. Doesn't she realize I could probably give her more of her personal history than her own mother. Well, we decided to meet up another time ... and I really am looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

King of the Castle

He awoke with a start. That sound, he thought, does not belong to my house. Staying in the mansion for so many years had made him familiar with the creak of every floorboard, the squeak of every hinge. What an inopportune time for the butler to have gone to his village, he said to himself. Wait ... there it was again ... someone was moving about on the ground floor. But, but ... there was no one else in the house but him ... or at least, there wasn't supposed to be. He recalled locking all the doors and windows. Suddenly, he felt a chill run down his spine ... the previous owner had said that the house was haunted ... a murder had been committed at one point of time. Could it be?, he muttered under his breath, and immediately checked himself. This was no time to be foolish. This was his house - and he - J.J.McGinley, would protect it at all costs.

He crept out of bed, and tip toed to the bedroom door, pulling it open just enough to be able to peek out. He heard foot steps, quite distinct - he was certainly not imagining things. He took a deep breath, opened the door further, and tried to listen more closely. Silence. He waited ... could it have been a dream ? No, no ... there it was again ... someone had just opened the main door. He walked to the banister, and peered down, just in time to catch a glimpse of a slim figure walking out. A woman ? His heart filled with courage (or stupidity, perhaps?), and he decided to follow at a safe distance. He raced down the stairs, making sure not to step too heavily; and peered out the main door. Yes, there she was ... definitely a feminine figure ... hurrying off towards the west side of the mansion. The west side ? Wait a minute ... isn't that where the cemetery was ? He felt sweat trickling down his cheek once more. Come now, he told himself, enough with this rubbish about ghosts ... let's see what this woman was doing in my house. And he followed, maintaining a safe distance.

After about twenty minutes, he saw her sitting on her knees, her head bowed to the ground, her body shaking gently. Deciding to confront her, he moved towards the woman. Excuse me, but what the hell were you doing in my house at this time of the night, he bellowed; standing right behind her. She didn't respond. He was about to reach out and shake her, when his eyes saw the tombstone she was in front of ...

To my daddy, J.J.McGinley, taken away far before his time by the bullet of a madman. I'll always miss you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The mandatory ID post

I logged on to Orkut this morning. Seven messages, all saying "Happy Independence Day".

I choked back a tear, as I marveled at how my friends remembered to wish me on this monumental occasion, even though I was so far away from my motherland. They knew that I would be missing the feeling of nostalgia that comes from being an Indian, specially on August 15th. They made it a point to include me in their feeling of oneness, I could see. Now here are people who are truly patriotic, I thought.

Ok ... now the truth.

Ugh ... jobless fools, I said to myself, and deleted them (the messages, not the people ... this isn't Minority Report, you know).

But then, as I was in the middle of my shower (which is where most of my pondering-type thoughts come to me), a thought came to me, and I pondered ...

Why was this just another day to me ? Why hadn't I gotten up all excited, as I do on Holi, or any day when I'm going to head to Le Peep for breakfast ? Why hadn't I felt a sense of pride that this was the day, sixty years ago, when we were finally able to call ourselves a free nation ? Is it because, for me, the meaning of Independence Day has changed as I've grown up ? My eyes glazed over, I heard one of those tnn nnn nnn tunes which signify a flashback in Hindi movies, and ...

I was all of 5, or 6, and was bugging mom to make me a flag ... well, not turn me into a flag ... but to make a flag for me, which I would take to school the next day, and wave it around with all my friends, while the principal talked about how we had gained independence and all that. Such fun!

I then turned older, in the 9th or so, and ID reduced to being a holiday to look forward to ... a day off from school, a day to do nothing but laze around, and perhaps watch ten minutes or so of the Prime Minister's speech to the nation, before switching the channel to watch cartoons. Errr, yes, cartoons ... I still watch them. The day would hold even more meaning if it fell on a Friday, or a Monday. The only time I was not happy about having an I-day was when I had to mug up a Sanskrit essay (one out of the six I did) about it for the board exams. I eventually wrote on Gandhi.

And suddenly I was in college, sleeping in the hostel, while "aa baithi muniya halwaiyaa dukaniya" or some such number blared out of someone's boombox. The alarm rang ... 7 am ... I turned it off, and went back to bed, while the enthu cutlets (and the first years - no choice for them, you see) got ready to go to the admin building and sing Jana Gana Mana, and get a peda. I heard someone scuffling about in the room, and opened an eye ... there was Pops, all set to go - clearly for the sweets and not the anthem. Oye pops, I said to him, mere liye bhi ek do le aaiyo yaar. Bhaag Bho****, I heard him say, as I dozed off once more.

The door banging shut as the flatmate left for work brought me back to the present. The present - just another Wednesday - middle of the week, two more days to go. I got dressed, watched 10 minutes of the morning news as I ate my cereal, and drove to work - to deal with more SRAM issues. Saw the expected five or six mails on the Indian mailing list, with links to inspirational articles about our struggle for freedom - flagged them (green) for reading at a later date.

I then decided to ask myself some questions ...

- Have I stopped identifying myself as an Indian ?
What rubbish. Not in the least.

- Then why is the 4th of July more important than the 15th of August ?
Because I'm in America now, and get a holiday on that day.

- Hmm ... so should I do something "Indian" ?
Well, no more today than any other day. I do enough Indian stuff as it is. Plus why should today be the day ? It's the same as my being against not eating meat on one day of the week - how does a chicken become more holy on just one day ??

- Wait, have I become jaded, or just stopped caring ?
A little of the former, perhaps. But then, would I really have done something "special" had I been in India ? No, most likely not.

- So what did the people who probably sent a happy ID message to everyone on their mailing list want to achieve ?
Nothing, perhaps - it was a wish they were passing on. Stop thinking it has to have a deeper meaning, and get back to work ! That layout review is due in a few hours, you know.

Satisfied with my explanations, and having put my fears of turning into a firang at rest (though technically, I am a foreigner right at this moment !!), I realized that I really don't have to wave a flag or wear tri-colored clothes today to show that I'm proud of where I come from ... I wear that fact every single day :-)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hello I'm GG and I'm an alcoholic

1. I dream in color. I do. I know I do.
2. I rarely drink tea or coffee, except on railway stations.
3. I am afraid of swimming alone in a pool. I always imagine a shark, an alligator or a giant cockroach (!!!) is lying in wait for me.
4. I never sucked my thumb.
5. I tend to put my foot in my mouth very often. Figuratively.
6. I once saw two lizards "doing it", and found it fascinating. There was absolutely no movement, except for Mr. Lizard's thingy. I have also seen a male chameleon chasing a female chameleon ... I think he was trying to have his way with her. Animals, I tell you!
7. I have seen two dead bodies in my life.
8. Both times, I felt as if the body was breathing at a very very slow pace. I tried to match my breathing to their's, but couldn't.
9. I chew my nails. I had kicked the habit, but have started again.
10. I always wished I could either sing or dance. Properly. Having the gift of the gab and being able to make people laugh just doesn't seem like a real talent.
11. I find it extremely difficult to eat food without having water before, during, and after the meal.
12. I don't have a pet name .. boo hoo hoo. My crying does not imply I want one.
13. I hate sitting next to the wall while in class or in a restaurant.
14. But I love sitting at the window seat of a car or an aeroplane.
15. I use clautrophobia as an excuse to avoid point number 13 !!! People usually let me have my way ... not because they believe me, but because they'd rather humour the tantrum-y child inside of me.
16. I once spent 7 hours at night sitting on the step of a moving train. Luckily, I didn't fall asleep !!
17. I am unable to display affection in public.
18. I have read "The Class" by Erich Segal nearly 10 times.
19. As a child, whenever I had fever, I grew in height !!!
20. Even though I'm a total attention whore, I am quite camera shy.
21. Gay experience ? Check.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chimpoo

I have a little spider in my bathroom. I've named him Chimpoo. Yes, he's a male spider - I don't know how I know that ... I just do. I remember when he first came in ... hiding in one corner, too afraid to scurry about the walls, just sort of eyeing me from afar. Sweet little thing - jet black. I was amazed at how small he was, and I wondered if he would grow up to be a ferocious tarantula. Anyways, Chimpoo keeps me company, and he's extremely useful. I realized that a few days back, when I saw some ants caught in his little web, right behind the door ... very close to the floor. My dear dear Chimpoo, I said to myself ... and smiled benignly, keeping things clean for his daddy.

Then Chimpoo disappeared. My eyes would dart here and there every morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of his fat little body. I had given up all hope of ever seeing Chimpoo again, when he jumped out of my shower curtain this morning, just as I was about to take a shower. My word ... how he had grown. Gone was all that pudginess, that black color, those scared eyes. Here was Chimpoo - running up the wall, his body a bright brown, his legs long and slender (not a tarantula after all, I sighed), his eyes more scary than scared. Up up up he went, and plonked himself in the upper right corner of the bathroom, looking down at me, watching me shower. I kept looking up to see if he too wanted to be washed, but he seemed disinterested. I thought about going into the garden downstairs and getting him an ant to eat, but then I was already quite late for work. I left.

I have a little spider in my bathroom. I've named him Chimpoo. He's stuck to the wall ... the upper right corner. I think I'm going to take him down ... his splattered body might leave a stain.