In one of the most poignant scenes in Bollywood history, a hyperventilating Rajesh Khanna says to a massively worried Amitabh Bachchan, 'जो खत्म हो रहा है वो शरीर है।' (That which is ending is the body) and follows it up with one of the most beautiful poems I've ever come across:

मौत तू एक कविता है,
मुझसे एक कविता का वादा है मिलेगी मुझको

डूबती नब्ज़ों में जब दर्द को नींद आने लगे
ज़र्द सा चेहरा लिये जब चांद उफक तक पहुचे
दिन अभी पानी में हो, रात किनारे के करीब
ना अंधेरा ना उजाला हो, ना अभी रात ना दिन

जिस्म जब ख़त्म हो और रूह को जब साँस आऐ
मुझसे एक कविता का वादा है मिलेगी मुझको

which, when translated reads like:

Death, you are a poem,
and you shall meet me; in your poetic promise.

when pain begins to subside in my sinking pulse,
and the pale moon reaches the horizon.
while the day is still in water, and night lurks on the bank,
neither dark nor alight, when it's neither a day nor a night

when the body ends and the soul takes breath,
you shall meet me; in your poetic promise.


Not the brightest of thoughts with which to start the day but it does serve to elucidate the power of creative effort. Art, in its best attempt, trying to veil the hideous reality in a beautiful raiment, thereby engendering an experience that is as rooted in ethereal beauty as in dead certainty. Bare truth is not only depressing, it's also predictably boring. A creative vision, in the above example, seeking to redress reality's morbid obsession with its own mediocrity and inevitability.


Oh Lolita!

I suppose the fascination; this secret, almost amoral intrigue, the all too well known broad desire of uncertain and unsullied youth which makes it look with slant,unsure, fidgeting but intermittently riveted eyes at the lady in elaborate disrobe on the cover of magazines which invested too heavily in the aphorism, 'a picture is worth a thousand words'; about one of the most controversial books of all time started more with hearsay than with rationality. There it was, tucked away with almost unusual secrecy in one of the damp, dark, dreary passages of the library between other books by the same author which had been unfortunate enough to have not been controversial enough for me to remember their names now with any sort of clarity. There it was, 'Lolita', sinister and inviting in the blackness of its hardbound, evil and guilty in the deluge of its perverse reputation, smug and defiant in the light of its success but classy and confident in the quality of its prose. I had heard about it, I have been hearing about it, I heard that they made a movie on the story and I heard that Bollywood duly followed suit by copying it in one of those mind dumps which starred one of those mind dumps whose father had the foresight to give up the mighty good name of the Srivastavas. Oh! I can imagine how mediocre the movies must have been.

As someone said to me, good books make bad movies. And Lolita is far from being a good book. It's a brilliant book. One of the best I have ever come across in fact. Simply put, it's the testimony of a pedophile/murderer. Oh! how crass it sounds, how viciously unworthy a subject upon which the creative juices of an artist be spent, how overwhelmingly lopsided our emotions regarding the deviant fetishes of one so deranged and how swift our 'fair' implications and judgment. How warped and perverted must the story be! Well, it's not warped and it's not perverted. I'm sorry if it's too hard to believe but it is a beautiful tale of a person who belongs to a group who has had the terrible misfortune of having an interest which happens to have not had found any favor with the majority view of acceptable social conduct. I'm not advocating that his behavior must find a champion in one as vocal and might I say deranged as Ms. Roy. I'm just saying that in a society which is continually expanding its realms of what it finds acceptable, to use a term from Dawkins in this continuing moral zeitgeist where gays are allowed to be happy and gay the protagonist (or antagonist?) of this novel represents that portion which has been dealt a hard hand by nature. Tough luck, you deserve the consequences! we might say and move on. But this book stops where our sense of propriety dictated us to look in the other direction. And it's a worthwhile read. After all, is there is sense to our quest for knowledge if not for widening our horizons of rational thinking and sensitivity?

It's essentially a love story. A tale of unrequited love which sees its highs in vigorous, periodic, closely spaced but almost never narrated sexual encounters and its depressing lows in juvenile indifference and jejune preoccupations unmindful of love's shivering and hesitant supplications culminating in a subdued whimper in one of those agonizing moments which, given the poignancy of the situation and masterful exposition of heart's innocent cries, manages to leave a slight trace of moistness in even the most arid of eyes. Yes it's a heartbreakingly beautiful story and it ends up making you feel for the pains and travails and joys and miseries of the eloquent debauched. Such is the power and beauty of author Nabokov's narration that Lolita's final words ('No') stand as iridescent, incandescent reminders of all those times when one has felt completely helpless in the face of all those resolute but heartbreaking Nos. Except in this occasion while the reader's sympathy should have rested with the corrupted and defiled it instead embraces the corrupt and the defiler. The language is a spectacle to behold and is an added incentive if one is needed. I really am too incompetent and too small to even do justice to the brilliant shimmering blaze with which Nabokov's flamboyant prose is alight. Suffice to say, it's been one of the most satisfying reads. Both linguistically and as a really good story.


Monday grays

My mobile, weary and red-eyed, listless and slightly annoyed, almost in half sleep whispers in faintly audible blues that the divine order of time has just passed the obscure milestone of the middle hours of the day: 2. And there I am, nestled between the warm embrace of a jaipuria and soft hollows of a 'Sultan Fageras', hair unkempt, face weirdly contorted by a prolonged bout of improper sleeping posture, lying face down with the resolve and the dignity of a soldier recently gunned down on the battlefront. And the irritating phone, oblivious of the ruckus it's causing, unmindful of its amplified and distorted resonance in one so comprehensively unconscious, heedless of its own prickly dissonance and smug in its self delusional belief of digital perfection and recorded harmony, goes tee-tuu-taa-tee-tuu-taa. Ah! if only it had not burned a hole the size of several centuries in my pocket, I would have promptly dealt with such insolence in the form of a raised arm, a clenched fist, a sudden jerk accompanied with a muffled bang and hopefully shards of glass and silicon and bruised pride and hushed conceit. That bloody thing!

It's raining cats and dogs outside... metaphorically speaking that is. A literal manifestation would certainly have been reason enough to hurriedly wake up but a metaphorical manifestation of the phenomenon is the best anesthetic ever devised by the devious divinity of the divine. I can hear the cats and dogs slamming down on my window, much like hearing the suicidal tantrums of a very long Chatai from a great distance on Diwali. It looks capitally bleak outside with a bright, all engulfing darkness, a sweltering all pervasive cold, a dry, stifling, itching wetness, a still, inanimate, heavy presence of immobile wind, and the contorted, comic, strained postures of weirdly stretched trees against a backdrop of mercurial, protean, capricious stagnation. The window pane is dotted by the blood of cats and dogs and seems to be trying its best to keep the two worlds separate. The ebullient, jubilant, ecstatic, unchained, primal, unforgiving spectacle much like one of those mysterious tribal ceremonies you see on Discovery or NatGeo or low budget B movies, outside and the subdued, stagnated, controlled, diluted, chained world much like nonfat milk and soy substitutes and mocktails, inside. The one outside is fastened and the one inside is fastened!

I think another hour would do me good.

Impressions in the dust

This Indian trip was memorable for more ways than one. Yes, I'm back in the ever eternal mild weathered and indolent San Diego with more than a month's worth of dust in my hair, incense in my nose, and lukewarm misty memories in my heart. And I cannot wait to put some of my impressions into words because that's what I have been thinking about through most of the flight and in fact most of the trip.

A friend of mine who wants of visit India as soon as possible keeps saying that she wants to do it because it's been such a life changing experience for so many people and I could never take her statement without a hint of incredulity. The exoticism that India represents to the materially worn eyes of a westerner hardly registers to our sensibilities which are often numbed by her superficial harshness. It, then, is not out of place for me to wonder as to how exactly does she expect the Indian experience to change her life. Does she mean it in the spiritual sense, or does she expect the country to put the social issues of our times in a different, maybe even a more important context. India after all is the screaming, wailing, tormented megalopolis of social iniquities, moral encumbrances, and communal apathy. And yet her stuttering swagger into the unknown, however dilapidated, is a source of much joy and hope. Does she expect some of that light to rub on her? And how exactly does that great bowl of seamless integration of suffering and joy, tears and laughter, hope and pessimism, affect one of its own sons? How does that brilliant conglomeration of stupefying paradoxes register on the self proclaimed anesthetized rationality of someone like me?

Oh! how little do we know! How simplistic our arguments and how immature our reasoning? Slightly paraphrasing Heller, in a company of men who seem to lack all discretion, I manage to stand out as the one who lacks more discretion. I won't go as far as saying that this Indian trip has made me revert my positions on several issues but I would certainly say that for a country as complex as India simple abstractions from simple minds like mine are bound to fall upon their faces. After all, India is a country that exists against all odds. And it exists well enough. During the course of its history it has taken the severest of blows and came out stronger. Whatever doesn't kill her only makes her stronger and what is bane for most other nations is the one shining panacea of her ailing existence. India's complexity, it seems to me, is the paramount factor that has prevented her during crucial times. As Shashi Tharoor puts it very well, everyone is a minority in India. This complexity, this benumbing intricacy, this stifling convolution seems to have instilled a sense of patience and tolerance among its sufferers and stung by her own plurality the country hops over one obstacle over another in all its contradictory elegance. She marches on to conquer the moon in a spacecraft that probably began its journey with a ceremonial coconut. Her silicon sons mint money in millions in a country which resonates from the throes of its hugely impoverished lower class. Bollywood churns out significantly more movies than Hollywood selling silver dreams and sanguine hopes to the millions who live in shanties at less than a dollar a day. And of course they buy them happily enough. She is Hindu and Muslim and Christian and Sikh and in fact every religion known to humanity. She is multilingual, multi-ethnic and multicultural and smells of the spices of a cuisine of such divine variety that it sends the brain whizzing. She is garish and subdued, subtle and overt, loud and serene, spiritual and morally decrepit, rich and famished, ambitious and satisfied, rational and superstitious, orthodox and liberal all at the same time. That's the paradoxical existence of India. As someone said, if you can say one thing about India, the opposite would also be true. These contradictions are living and breathing, alive and kicking in the country. How, then, can you simplify such glorious uncertainties into insipid rationality?

There is so much to like about this India. So much to be happy and inspired about. We talk with clinched fists about religionism and regionalism. People have made political careers out of these and other differences. Here is a thought. India is what she is because of all its constituting differences. We have seen unicultural societies wither away against time. India is a success because she has accommodated them all while she kept paying the price of changing according to the latest onslaught. While the stiff got broken, her malleable existence merely changed form. Her opportunistic survival has endowed all that is beautiful and all that is sad with her. And that's the only country we have inherited. She might be complex and her diversity might be acting as friction in her search for rapid development but that is precisely the trait that makes her what so many of us have come to love and appreciate. Her contradictions and her uncertainties are the most unchanging, unaltering, and reassuring facet of this great civilization.


Bronze screen

The television scene in India is actually quite awesome. I know, I know, I can hear the elitists sharpening their claws right at this moment, I can smell their anger induced perspirations as these words come out of my mouth but I won't buckle down under their university-educated snobbery and they cannot stop me from saying what might not really be true but nevertheless is widely accepted here. Television in India kicks ass. My observation is that only the roles are jumbled up. Otherwise everything is quite hunky dory.

India TV which is supposed to be a news channel is Discovery channel incarnate for the average Joe-2-patialas and the Hokey-moms of India. Only recently it was showing the breaking news about a breathtaking discovery of a cave that leads straight to 5-deities hidden in nether-lands. As their camera crew braved the placid waters and unthreatening facade to gallantly go where no man had gone before in search of the darkest secrets, they came across vicious demons like vampire bats, poisonous spiders, and a total of 1 snake. While the blinking, garish, red arrows and red circles told my unenlightened eyes where to look for spiders, bats, and snakes on a screen filled with spiders, bats, and snakes, I munched off half my fingernails in nerve-racking anticipation. Adventure journalism at it's finest hour. Aaj Tak is not far behind with dramatic reenactments which are more dramatic than reenactments, running commentaries on the various serials on other channels, and a breaking news at the rate of 1 every 20 picoseconds. It's more soapy than the regular soaps and more thorough on it's subjects than it's subjects. And other news channels are trying their best to play catch-up.

I think soaps are basically marriage videos. I am just waiting for a dedicated channel which would consolidate it all and run all these serials one after another after editing out the irrelevant portions and dialogs so that we can all watch one marriage after another non-stop. Tulsi getting married to Mihir, Parvati to Mr. X, catwoman to Shri Krishna, Ekta Kapoor to an ass etc. I think that would be the logical next step. Then they can have another channel and compile a 24-hour broadcasts of all those facial close-ups with accompanying doomsday music. People getting shocked, euphoric, foxy, inconsolable, surprised, apathetic, maudlin, jumpy and maybe even orgasmic. The last one would push the TRPs even further.

And the talent competitions are the soaps. There is talent no doubt but there is just too much other stuff going on. You know the kind of thing that is so common a phenomenon to reality television. False emotions, pointless suspense, sensationalistic editing, provocative reactions, dishonest appraisals and much more. It seems to me that the best talent on display on these shows is acting, hence they should cut the crap and start calling them soaps now.

But the crowning achievement of all these super-mediocre efforts are the comic talent competitions. I cannot categorize them into any genre. I cannot view them from any positive angle. They are the common variety of arse-gravy we, as Indians, are all familiar with. They have a humor quotient worse than the worst jokes that used to come in the 'dekho hans na dena' section of Champak. 'Dekho hans na dena' never made anyone laugh and thus fulfilled its own prophecy but these shows go further. Their cheapness rivals the content of those greasy joke books that you used to see on railway station book stalls which either had a big buxomed lady or Kushwant Singh or both on their cover. They are loud, mindless, phony, and gut-wrentchingly humorless. I have felt happier and more invigorated watching snails move and watching glaciers melt. There is more humor in those eternally pessimistic Russian writers who could never stop talking about the Russian farmer whose wife had an affair. Manoj Kumar who spent the better part of his life brooding over country, wife, children, and 'mitti' which produced 'sona', eyeing the world with half his face was funnier. The great Greek tragedy is more comic and Ekta Kapoor is smarter than those scores of comedians who infest these shows with the revulsion of fungi on a piece of moldy bread...

I see that my tone has reversed. Oh well! time to stop


The amazing traffic

I just finished reading Maximum City by journalist turned author Suketu Mehta but this post is not its review. If I had to put my impression of the book in a few lines: It's a brilliantly researched piece of work, an effort that more than succeeds in bringing to us the dirty truths behind bomb blasts and the ensuing riots of 1993, the fine structure of Bombay underworld with its political and judicial affiliations, the seedy underbelly of the seemingly unending red-light behavior of the creeking megalopolis and its insistent fight for resurgence in the form of honesty, zest, and the will to survive. It's a very good book. But I wouldn't want to read it again. If only I could, I would have reversed my act of reading it. The easiest way by which truth manages to be stranger than fiction is by being more gruesome; and unfortunately for me, I never enjoy reading about the fine nuances of 3rd degree. Like everyone else, there is a pervert in me but it never raises its head to witness brutality. So Maximum City has been a bit of a drag really, especially after Orwell's 1984. John Wright's 'Indian Summers' was a welcome relief. To undo the effects I have started yet again on my absolute favorite, Catch-22 :).

Coming to the point of the post, Mehta mentions that traffic fatalities have actually decreased in Bombay in the last two decades and I would be surprised if that was not the case in every major city in India. It's an unintended fallout of city streets which are more crammed than ever before. The average city speeds have come down and people can basically stop from 20 to 0 in the space of a 50 paise coin. It's difficult to inflict major injuries at 20. It's a nightmare at 0. All you can do is take out your machete and start hacking away but I do not see any particular incentive for doing it either. And I don't see anyone else brandishing anything even remotely similar to a Rampuria. So obviously, fatalities are almost non-existent given the crawling speeds and an unexplainable disinclination in people for road-rage induced homicide.

All seriousness aside, it's awesome, spine chilling fun driving in Lucknow and it's humbling when you try to analyze how the hell everything just works. I am not trying to be an apologist for Indian traffic. I am genuinely amazed by its intelligence. It should not work. It just shouldn't. But it works and it works like a charm. It's a living, breathing organism with the IQ of a Nobel laureate. Forgive me for the comparison but it seems to have the sloth of Yokozuna but in fact has the nimbleness of 1-2-3 kid. Things get rearranged in matter of milliseconds. It's so well internalized you do not appreciate how this complex machinery is working. One small glance, a minute gesture, and the turning car would slow down ever so slightly so that it could turn with a decreased radius and you scrape past. And that small action simultaneously kickstarts a huge chain of reactions where every single one of the 70 adjoining units including cars, motorcycles, scooters, pedestrians, rickshaws, trucks, dogs and cows moves, accelerates, breaks, stops, shifts, turns, honks, swears, barks and moos to account for the new equilibrium. It's brilliant.

Contrary to what people think, I feel that the traffic in India is extremely polite and forgiving and it never makes you feel that you are being done any favor. It's noticeable when one tries to cross a busy intersection. It's impolite and impassable only for those who feel that they will get run over if they wade in. Once you start inching forward and basically hold your ground without making any sudden movements, the traffic adjusts itself to allow you room. It breezes past you from all sides but acknowledges that you have a right to your territory and it never tries to intimidate you out of it. Then you move some more.

After a bit of driving my scooty around in the particularly 'undisciplined' Lucknow traffic, I have noticed another interesting fact about it. There are very little, if not, no sudden movements. A mathematician would have described the multitudes of vehicular trajectories on a Lucknow road as smooth. Continuous and Differentiable. That is another reason why there aren't more accidents. Many more.

I know it's a nightmare for anyone who has to face the inconveniences of such traffic conditions everyday and I can only offer my sympathy but as someone who has lost a bit of touch with ground realities, having spent the bulk of his time in the tamed and monotonous precincts of a foreign country, there is a part of me that cannot help but marvel at the brilliant organism that Indian traffic is. The news is rife with hatred and regionalism and violence. They say that the country is breaking down engulfed in its own seething anger and suffocating corruption. They have been saying the same thing for as long as I can remember. India sags a bit, loses its way slightly, shrugs, corrects itself, and moves again. Like its traffic, it works. Against all odds.


To Lucknow

I am really sorry for this long hiatus in posting and I hope that all my readers; nearly both of you; would consider my apology in light of the fact that I became slightly busy in the process of coming to India. I understand that I had lamented about rants and reminiscences in only my last post but I hope that you will understand that this trip has the strongest undercurrents of nostalgia running underneath and that obvious comparisons between U.S. and India by a mind as narrow as mine are bound to leave a slightly sour taste in the mouth every now and then; every here and there.

My father has had a recent transfer to Lucknow from Haldwani so Lucknow is the place I have the pleasure of spending my month in. It is the city where I had spent, as they say, the prime of my years. Starting as an immature 12 year old cricketing away on dusty Sunday afternoons and glorious January mornings to an immature 18 year old cricketing away on dusty Sunday afternoons and glorious January mornings, I spent the most unburdened part of my life in this city that, to me, has always had the allure of being slightly more sedated, more laid-back and more sleepy than pretty much any other place I have lived in. It had what the French would call 'je ne se qua'. It quivers with the energy of sloth and trembles with the vitality of snores and wakes up under the full bodied noon-Sun yawning and rubbing its eyes and cursing the heavenly cycle for having invented sunlight. It is a spectacularly inept piece of machinery that provides no respite whatsoever to its dwellers. Things might not be as bad as Kanpur or Bangalore but my city has its moments. And I have realized it time and again every time I had to press on the sides of my miniscule scooty to compress it just that little bit so that I could squeeze it into that small gap between that Rickshaw with the Aunt haggling over 2 rupees and that bicycle whose owner doesn't seem to believe in the philosophy that the right of way in India is directly proportional to the size of the engine between your legs. I have a strong conviction that the city has its parallels in John Cleese's Basil Fawlty. It would do all well if not for its residents. But the residents are the headstrong sorts. They would spot every available inch of space with a brick, at least of equal size, if not bigger and when they have finished building over all the free space and when they have zoomed to heights curtailed by government regulations, bribe budgets, and sorry foundations, they would, furtively, encroach a bit of the public road when no one is looking and then they would take out their Hyundaes and Toyotas and Hondas and double up on the road and basically not go anywhere. And no one seems to mind. Placid, quiet, serene, they all seem to have attained nirvana. They are at peace with a city that, in all its commotion, somehow keeps ticking. Ever so slowly, teetering on the brink, it's alive. And I'm really proud of it. Not because it manages to do what every city in India finally does but because buried just beneath the surface, lying dormant, is the oft repeated notion of a rich cultural past and a sober assimilative history. Lucknow has long had comparable populations of Muslims and Hindus. I feel proud of the fact that the city has never played host to any significant religious fundamentalism.

While in college too, I kept visiting Lucknow every year over the Summer holidays witnessing to my ever increasing muted disapproval the 'thinning' of the old crowd as they dispersed in search of greener pastures. I looked scornfully at every new flyover that botched up the pristinely chaotic landscape, every effort at modernizing any shop that I used to frequent while I was a school kid, and every new statue that that stupid, dumb, trainwreck of a woman, Mayawati erected in her honor. Then my father got transferred to Haldwani and I have not really had a decent stay in the city for 4 years if not 8.

So here I am back again after so many years. Things look about the same. Just more tightly packed together. More half finished flyovers and more road side barbers snipping away at more unshaved faces. More bikes with 25 more CCs dodging more cows and more Indicas. More sweet shops with more people working in them than needed and more rules for buying 250 grams of Jalebi. Coupons and tokens and lines and haggling and ultimately no-lines and more haggling. Huge advertisements rising up into the sky as you traverse a completed freeway. They promise you a better life with beautiful cars and beautiful homes and beautiful locales and beautiful girls. And they hide the sky behind. Then you look down and see a mad sea of ambitions and emotions and dreams heartbreaks all uniformly packed into every square inch of habitable area. Not much seems to have changed really. It's nice to be back.


On rants and reminiscences

There are two easy ways of writing an article. When the creative juices dry up, when the mind aches as it is made to cogitate over novel ideas, and when one is at one's wit's end, there are two kinds of topics which are almost insultingly easy to write upon.

The first is a rant. One just needs to think about an issue that sends the splenetic juices of fury raging in his veins and lo and behold: the article writes itself. It is always easy to write upon something that makes you foam at your mouth and sweat in your palms. Your adrenaline and anger are so high that you have the capability of literally squeezing out ideas from even a respectably cretaceous skull. That's the reason why we have so many blogs that do nothing but present tirades after tirades of tired trite. That's the reason for the success of reality shows which, for example, put two people who do not like each other together to see what happens. That's precisely the reason why mainstream satire/criticism has morphed into such a sorry spectacle. As someone brilliant once said, 'Emotion is always more easily accessed than reason'. No wonder then that such a form of writing/entertainment, after a point, not only becomes mundane but almost insulting to human intelligence. I like to think that for all my shortcomings as a human being (and there are many), I consistently make an effort at not being a hypocrite. Therefore, I have to admit that this blog fell for such cheap gimmicks once and I do not look back proudly at it. Every now and then when I glance back I feel almost ashamed at how quickly something that started out as genuine satire and innocent fun disintegrated into a dishonest diatribe. Dishonest not as in something unethical or immoral but the dishonesty that comes when you start pandering to the wishes of others as perceived in your eyes. Dishonesty with oneself. I am happy that the phase got over. I might be writing crap now, it might be completely irrelevant, mediocre, pungent and senseless. And it might not be any of those things. For all the fun I have, it doesn't really matter.

The second topic in this list is nostalgia. When you are out of ideas, nothing better to save the day than the memory of that heavenly taste of freshly cooked meal that your mother used to make for you as you scurried into the house after a particularly unforgiving day at the school. There is nothing inherently wrong with the idea. The problem though is the popular saying, 'Hindsight is 20-20'. From behind the rosy glasses of nostalgia, every sweet memory becomes sweeter and every tart one is conveniently ignored; or reassessed in the very least. And that is the reason why every campy show that you ever watched during your childhood now appears as the pinnacle of creativity. Everyone is in a hurry to grow up as a child. No child actually likes his life. But as adults none of us can help yearning for it. How absurd! I get reminded of Carrol's lines:

I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
the slow result of life's decay.
To be once more a little child,
on one bright summer's day.

or Jagjit Singh's famous lines from 'Kagaz ki kashti':

Ye daulat bhee le lo, ye shohrat bhee le lo,
bhale cheen lo mujhse meri jawaani.
Magar mujhko lauta do bachpan ka saawan,
wo kaagaz ki kashti, wo baarish ka paani.

But for all its emotional drive nostalgia is merely an innocuous occupation. In moderation, it may even act as an able vehicle for creativity. Much like anger.

Speaking of nostalgia, I was looking at some old mails today and that is, in part, a reason for this post. So much has changed! I can hardly believe how far and removed the past looks now. Even a time merely a couple of years back seems separated from the present by an abrupt discontinuity. Even the memories from the beginning of this year come in an aloof, almost unrecognizable technicolor. Maybe it is a natural fallout of the passage of time. Maybe this disconnect has something to do with the particularly eventful year I have had. I'm not sure if it's a common phenomenon with everyone but I personally never like the person that I was. Which is another way of saying that I would rather be the person that I am today and the position that I am in today than any other. I suppose there are reasons to be happy and contended in such a scenario. But you see, it's a continuous process. Hindsight, for me, has never been 20-20. But I'm afraid that it shall never be.



I must have said it before but I would like to say it again that comedy is one of the most exhilarating experiences I generally have. It ranks up there with good music, sports, literature and art. I have very limited understanding of these fields but then as they say, 'to each his own'. Interestingly, only very recently I was having a very enlightening chat with a person whom I admire a lot for the breadth of his knowledge upon this very topic. 'Is there an objective goodness and merit in art and literature or indeed any human endeavor'. That's another issue though.

It all started with P.G.Wodehouse I guess. To me he is still the master and commander of all that is funny and ludicrous in the world. With his innocent almost farcical plots and queer, idiosyncratic characters he managed to weave a world that was completely devoid of malice and contempt. His was a rosy, shiny world that was forever lost in the benign vision and understanding of pre-pubescence. His stories were lost to our insistent demand of morals and social satire and to some degree, our bourgeois (I like to use this word :)) need for making sense of humanity through the creations of its champions. And then was his language. I cannot even begin to start to expatiate over the quality of his language. Just suffice to say that he was definitely one of the greatest linguist who ever took breath.

Oscar Wilde is another. He is funny to me not because he intends to be. He is funny because he seemed to have the measure of the world with such precision. He looked through the haze and glared at the world naked and ashamed in all its glorious hypocrisy, ludicrity and pretense. He was just too damn blunt and too damn right. But that's just me. I admire both his intelligence that frankly speaking most of us can never match and his guts to say things as they were. And when you are so frank and so incisive, things automatically become funny.

Then obviously the great satire of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, John Cleese in his flying circus and Fawlty Towers, Voltaire's Candide, Gulliver's travels, satirical writings of Pope (particularly 'Rape of the lock') and Dryden and many many more. But if there is one single creation that completely tops them all, it's Catch 22. Joseph Heller created something that just makes me go numb. I was talking to a dear friend recently about the book and without even realizing I was gasping for breath after some time due to all the excitement. It's just so bloody difficult to create something that is so imaginative and so stupid at the same time. I mean, it's beyond my grasp as to how he managed to write something that has such brilliantly colorful characters with such glorious quirks in a plot that is so mindbogglingly intense. And that's not all. The story has a freaking moral. It says so much to us. Beneath the ball-bouncing stupidity, there is a huge Huge HUGE eye-opener. I can feel the goosebumps already.

We make the mistake of not taking comedy as seriously as we probably take other things. We think it doesn't deserve the respect that something like classical music has. Well, try and write something funny and you will know how hard it is. As with anything creative, a notion that is probably too alien for our disposition, it's bloody difficult. For understanding what makes people laugh, for having gone the distance of developing the linguistic apparatus necessary, and for having the intelligence and creativity to actually come up with something 'new' (how many of us in our sorry existences ever come up with anything new), the proponents of the art remain one of the most venerable artists I can indulge in.


Only today it dawned upon me that the word 'certain' can be used in two exactly opposite senses. As in:

'I am certain that...' and
'He was referring to a certain Mr. Mullins'

The same word shows both concreteness and ambiguity when used in two different sentences. It is easy to find words which have more than one meanings obviously. They are the bread and butter of the cheapest stand-up comedian and the most brilliant satirist but a word which can convey completely opposite meanings is quite another thing. It's quite amazing really and I would be thrilled to find some more! Anyways, a quite interesting pair of words is 'overtone' and undertone' both of which, contrary to common sense, convey the exact same meaning which again is quite smart I think. Another similar phenomenon goes by the name 'faux amis' or 'false friends'. These are words, in different languages, which started with the same root but came to mean completely different and often opposite ideas. One which readily comes to mind and which is completely beaten to death is the word 'ass'. As we all know, the word means a 'donkey' in Britain and a 'butt' (=a British 'arse' !) in the US. Then there is the word 'preservative' which comes from the Latin præservativum. Somehow the Latin root has morphed into words in different languages like French, German, Spanish, Italian etc. and in all of them it refers to male contraceptive! Quite interesting. Demand is a word whose derivative in French is 'demande' and it means 'to request'!

There are a few more interesting words that I recently came across. 'Honorificabilitudinitatibus' means 'being in the state of receiving awards' but obviously it would be quite boring if that was all it had for boasting. It's the longest word in English with alternating consonants and vowels. It was featured in Shakespeare's 'Love's labour's lost' and is a 'hapax legomenon'!!! 'Hapax Legomenon' refers to any word that an author uses exactly once in all his writings. On the other hand, if an author invents a new word which he does not intend to use any further, it's called a 'nonce word'. It should not come as a surprise then that James Joyce was a master of 'nonce words'. He gave the word 'quark' to quantum physics and is mentioned in his irritatingly opaque 'Finnegan's Wake' (I started it but gave up in the first 2 lines). Lewis Carrol has provided so many of these in the form of portmanteaus (joining two words to form a new one) in his entirely lovable although completely nonsensical poem 'Jabberwocky', some of them being- slithy (slimy and lithe), chortle (chuckle and snort), galumph (gallop and triumph) etc.

In hindsight, it's a very episodic, disconnected and slightly pompous post. But pomposity was not the goal. It's just that language excites me in the same way that different hobbies excite different people - or at least I hope that they do.


Language poses several important questions to me. I mean several moral and rational questions since for me it is sort of a representation through which other deeper issues of life manifest themselves. And I guess that is quite alright since with every thing that is created by man, language in the process of creation has also been bestowed with his dreams and joys and insecurities and dilemmas. Therefore, the ghetto rap of South Central LA is not just a polluted form of English. It is so much more than that. It's the lives of the people who speak it. It's as much a symbol of their glorious notoriety as Victorian English was a symbol of its proponents' sophistication and to our eyes, their pomposity. Language hardens into an unforgiving brute in the hands of a military establishment and the same language turns into a conniving, calculating fox in the company of the legal. It drips like honey from the mouth of a well educated, well mannered scholar whereas it becomes completely incomprehensible when the speaker is one from the traditionally nether regions of the society. It's like us human beings. Both brutal and generous, both harsh and mellow, both noble and ghastly.

The reason I have said all this is to drive home the point that to say that there is one correct form of language is a gross mistake. We might as well say that a person is objectively right or wrong, an idea that has been used far too often by society and its machineries to control and make us do things that no man in his right mind should ever do. If there is no 'right' language, what should we make of grammar ? Believe me the issue is not as trivial as it sounds. Below the banal surface lies the age old friction between rules and freedom. As soon as we understand that grammar is nothing but a set of rules that tries to contain the unrestrained proliferation and mutation of language (which is freedom, metaphorically speaking) the analogy starts becoming clear.

Some people argue too easily against the necessity of grammar. They find it too stuffy and limiting. I would have tried to sympathize with their point of view had it not been the case that most of such people say this not because they have an informed opinion but only because they have been too lazy to put in the effort required to understand language. And I am not demeaning them. Their opinions are just like my opinions on American football. Half baked and arm-chaired. But then I do not expect my opinions on American football to be of any value whatsoever. The fact is grammar is as necessary in language as the theory of consonance and dissonance is necessary in music. You cannot expect a child with no musical training to produce tolerable music when given a piano. He at least needs to be told as to which notes go well with which ones and only then will he be able to play anything remotely resembling music. It's only when we know the rules are we qualified to break them and the final result is so much more agreeable then.

Human spirit, it seems to me, finds its true liberation when it is made to work under some confines. Given an infinite wasteland it is almost impossible to make a garden out of it but a small patch of land can be very tastefully converted into one. Grammar is such a confine. So are metrical rules in poetry or compositional guidelines in photography or the Wisden in cricket (:)). If we take the analogy slightly further it is not hard to see that human freedom and the rules that limit it are not so antagonistic after all. Beyond the obvious observation that one has no identity in the absence of the other, it might not be far fetched to say that beneath the surface hostility, each one only serves to strengthen the other. History has proved time and again that the greatest geniuses that humanity could offer were produced during periods of censure and formality. There is nothing to revolt against when everything has already been revolted against or in other words when there is complete freedom. What then is the territory of the modern avant-garde ?

Well. Too much thinking for a Sunday night :).


The Barman

Man: Barman, there seems to be something in my shot.

Barman: Well sir, I suppose that is an entirely personal matter.

Man: What do you mean ? It was you who gave me the shot surely.

Barman: What an absolutely rib-tickling idea my dear sir ! I would concede that in my capacity as a dispenser of cocktails, I might be susceptible to becoming more friendly to some than social norms generally allow, but to suggest that I might have in fact presented you with a pair of undergarments is truly amusing.

Man: What? What are you talking about?

Barman: Your short sir, your boxer short. Now I do not want to sound apathetic and callous to your difficulties but I would rather not comment upon anything unnatural and unexpected that you might be experiencing in there. For all the gregariousness that this job demands, I am afraid sir, I draw the line beyond which I have to make small talk over a customer's underwear.

Man: No no you dimwit. I was talking about this shot. This Tequila shot.

Barman: Oh, oh! I am deeply sorry sir. Please wrench off my sideburns and stamp on my toes with steel toed boots for this embarrassing misunderstanding. Is there something wrong ?

Man: Yes there is something in it.

Barman: In what ?

Man: Shot dammit shot.

Barman: Where where ? I didn't hear it ? Is everyone fine ?

Man: What are you talking about ? There is something in my shot I said.

Barman: Well sir, I suggest you contact the department store for a refund then.


Barman: Then you should have said it earlier dear sir. Rather than taking me on a wild goose chase involving shots being fired in a bar with patrons having questionable items in their undies running amok trying to save their lives, you could just have said, 'Barman, there is something in my shot'. Well here, a sparkling new glass of twinkling beverage, just for my dear sir who, I must say, seems to be a bit woozy today.

Man: Well thanks... Finally... Anyways, can I have the ashtray. I need to dispose off this butt.

Barman: Sir, my wife and seven kids stand testimony to my lifelong interest in the female of the specie but I must say here that I do not see anything wrong with your bottom. I would perhaps go even as far as saying that if ever a popular vote is sought over the issue of disposing off your butt, I would heterosexually vote in to veto the idea.

Man: No no the cigarette butt you birdbrain.

Barman: Oh oh! I am sorry sir. I thought... never mind what I thought. Here take this. Are you comfortable in there ?

Man: Well, the stool has been slightly off color for me I must say.


(Well we won't go any further, if only for propriety :) ).

Mr. Numb Nuts

Nuts: It would be a matter of immense satisfaction and great mollification to my increasingly dehydrating and, by now, almost parched laryngeal part of the pharynx, which colloquially, I am assuming, is denoted by a 'throat', if you would be so kind as to furnish me with the means and ends for soaking these cracking lips of mine with a sample of di-hydrogen mono-oxygen providentially placed in a receptacle that, in the name of all that is healthy and sprightly, is devoid of agents, known to humanity, for being the root cause of many an ailments.

Waiter: wtf! (under his breath). WHAT ?

Nuts: Oh dear me! I have confused you, haven't I ? Forgive me for this unintended insolence for God may set fire to my ass if in his infinite wisdom I come off as person who has not taken every possible measure left at his disposal at making his wishes as clean as a carriage windshield that has recently been cleaned. That a person as sagacious as you, whose sagacity is dripping from that broad forehead and that puny chest, is evidently befuddled only points to my incompetence and failure, despite my best efforts, at effectively tabling my thoughts across to you.

Waiter: WHAT ?

Nuts: Merely that I would be extremely grateful to have a speck of a soupçon of the most minuscule fraction of that element that flows in such abundance in Nature's warm belly and the municipality's cold conduits. That my appreciation would know no bounds if the sample of that elixir that you would be presenting to me is neither hellishly scalding nor hellishly frigid but hovers around acceptable Rankines and is devoid of its crystalline form for that would not suit my fragile constitution. That I and my forthcoming generations would indeed be obligated to you if...

Waiter: I do not know about God. If your next sentence is longer than 4 words, I would personally set fire to your ass.

Nuts: Water. No Ice... ... ... Please.


On the beach. Again.

Many of you who have been gracious enough to follow this continuing collection of barely coherent stream of thoughts would be more than familiar with the passion and periodicity with which the Ocean and it's embellishments figure in my ruminations. Time and again, I have let my puny self be overcome by the grandiose view of the Pacific and several times the sorry imagination that I, in a self deceiving attempt, try to pass off as my creative streak has had to rely upon the primal response that that infinite water hole evokes in me for it's subject matter. But then it really has so much to teach us that to just sit there with our minds closed would be doing a disservice to ourselves that only we as human beings are capable of. Sometimes though, the mind does race and it was just one such day today.

You would probably go, 'What a retard', when I say that all the interesting action in an Ocean lies just at the beach. And I am not talking about bikini clad 20 somethings bouncing around playing beach volleyball, although that's always a garnish that is ever welcome to half of humanity (and some more) and I am no exception. Anyways, what I am talking about here is the intense restlessness of nature just at the beach when it's juxtaposed against its placid solidity far from it. Near the beach, the waves break with the fervency of a bunch of children bursting forth the school gate at the final whistle. They disintegrate into a soapy residue culminating in an intense white cover over the dark blue of the ocean below, accompanied with a constant clamoring that serves well to challenge the otherwise stately dignity of the majestic one. And the waves almost seem to be in a hurry like a teenager who cannot wait to reach the legal drinking age. And like the teenager, it's an anti-climax that awaits their enthusiasm. Their frothy disposition and their fickle form, like youth, is a testimony to their shallowness but like youth, their beauty has nothing but their immaturity to thank. Their existence, although trivial and vanishing, nonetheless is brilliant and ornate. Whereas the deep ocean lies constant with the immutability of death itself and in fact with the magnificence of death (or it's romantic idea at least). Deep and bottomless, it's the painted ocean of Coleridge. Mature and sensible, it's everything that Wilde resented and associated with age. The shadows of the clouds and the peeking Sun on the largest canvas Nature can offer. The brilliant shimmers and the pallid blacks with the vanishing ink of a dying day. And all of it so frozen in time and space that you get a feeling that if only you could hit it hard enough with a hammer, rather than fluidly malleabiling, it would break apart with the din of a window pane.

You must have heard the saying that a fruit laden tree stoops whereas one without any fruit stands upright. We have an unfortunate propensity of drawing parallels between nature and life. Somewhere down below I truly dislike this instinct. The instinct of the Western Aesop (fables) and the Eastern Panchtantra. Why I do not like it is a completely different issue but I guess I am also guilty of drawing some parallels here. And for all that I purport, you have my apologies.



She enters the pass-word and passes the entrance, alights the stairs and switches on the lights with a light switch on the switch. She frisks with a brisk approach and whisks the blinds to view the view outside - The moon looks down at her with a mooning constitution and the stars star in his play with a lugubrious inclination, constituting to render a gloomy night benighted with glum colourations. And the dimly woken hours, in the wake of a Friday, still bear a mildly miasmatic manifestation of moldy malt.

Phew!, that took much longer than I had anticipated! Tired. Too tired :(.

P.S: It's titled untitled because I am too tired to even think of a title.



It's been 2 years now since Gunti and I enrolled in a Verizon contract. I remember voraciously sieving through the Internet in search of a phone set that would stand apart elegantly in a sorry crowd of sluggish, feature overladen mobiles who had the stylistic sensibilities of Frank Zappa on a late night talk show. I wanted a Carla Bruni in a world infested with the likes of Pratibha Patil who doddered and tottered and hobbled and toddled in a senile dance of outmodishness. I sneered at the antiquated anorexia of the Motorola Razr and jeered at the jarring sophistication of the Nokias. It was a time when the world seemed full of possibilities, when the blood was hot and the heart was sanguine, and eyes with that twinkle of possibilities were fixed far out onto the horizon where a new day was struggling to break free from the clutches of darkness... Well, maybe I have become more emotional than the situation demands but it's our loss that we underrate superficiality so much, a topic that we shall leave for some other time, some other day. For the time being, my eyes got fixated on this new model that LG had very geekily and unimaginatively named 'VX8500'. They had a nickname for it too. And I am slightly flushed to admit that in all their campy incompetence, LG nicknamed it 'Chocolate'. Which didn't make sense at all since the phone came only in black. I just wished they were not referring to it's taste. At that time though, the only thing that mattered to me was its seductively glossy screen which lit up in red to reveal a touchpad when you slid it open. What else, I thought, would anyone need in a phone ? Huh.

The phone, I must admit, had a prodigious disposition to begin with and I should have understood then that any effort to tame this wild beast would be an exercise in futility. It had far too much personality to begin with. You see, it had a touchpad as I have mentioned before and not a very good one at that. You slide it open to activate it and all hell breaks loose. The phone, in the hands of a novice, has a tendency of taking him for a nasty ride. It's a bit like Microsoft word. Show them a gesture even slightly miscalculated and they would bite back and take your head off. At the very least they would make you regret your birth. Even today, the matter of actually succeeding in calling the number that you intended can only be discussed in the hushed voices of probabilities. Taking the photo that you desire is asking for too much really. My phone follows the Hindu philosophy in the sense that you can activate the camera but you should not expect it to fire at the right time. It has Heisenbergity inbuilt. I was quite content in playing the second fiddle, you know the stupid sidekick to the hero that is my phone as long as it allowed me to get on the wireless network every now and then. And in the infinite generosity of its magnanimous self, it indeed has allowed me this privilege over the last couple of years. Things have taken a turn for worse though and it is quite evident that a bloody struggle is in offing.

It all started a month ago when my phone, one fine morning, decided to deactivate the 'Cancel' button. Permanently. Now I could not go back. Phone menus became unidirectional and grammatically correct text messages, almost an impossibility. The only way to end a call was to slide the phone back in. A few days later, upon opening the 'Contacts' list my phone started scrolling down ad-infinitum. And I thought: Owwwww! how sweet. It was almost an amusement. It was only a few days back on a sinister moonless night while walking back to home that I realized its menacing plan. I slid it open, went to the 'Recent Calls' and the next thing I see, my phone is happily calling the first number in the list. I hastily disconnected it, tried it again and the same result. Next time, I went to the 'Contacts' list and upon finding itself here my phone promptly went into it's scroll mode and to my bulging eyes, stopped at my adviser's number, probably gave a derisive chuckle, and started calling. I slid it in hoping that it would end the deluge. My phone, waited for a bit in this deactivated position, suddenly woke up with it's touchpad all red with baleful energy, opened the 'Recent Calls' list and started dialing the most recent one, again my adviser. I tried shutting it down with the master switch but it conveniently ignored the commands of the most powerful button and finally I had to take off the battery. For the first time, I was happy that we have not seen the invention of wireless power yet.

Things have gone worse still. It doesn't show me if I've got any new voicemails (which is fine I guess :)). And only today, it didn't show me at least 2 missed calls which I distinctly heard from the next room. Frankly speaking, I didn't even know that so many things could go wrong with one phone until they did with mine. And I still do not know the surprises that fate has for me. Maybe it will start giving me electric shocks. I am afraid of the day when it grows a set of pointed teeth and chews my ear off. If there is one thing I have learned in these last two years, it's that, like Bauna Vaman (for those who get the reference), my phone always has one trick left up it's sleeve.



I have recently started Charles Schulz's biography written by David Michaelis titled 'Schulz and Peanuts' and obviously, being the smart-ass that I am who just has to have an opinion on everything under the sun, I have one here too. People have often said to me that they do not read autobiographies because they are too pompous. I have read a few and I must say that autobiographies are rarely pompous. If anything, they are too demeaning of themselves. It's the biographies that I find dishonest because they are the ones which are more often than not colored by a partisan adoration.

Moving forward the book, I must say, is not exceptional. From what I have read, it doesn't quite measure up to the linguistic standards I have come to enjoy and appreciate lately but it's a bit like 'Peanuts' itself. What the book lacks in language, it more than makes up in the story it narrates. Schulz's life so uncannily mirrors the world he created, it almost brings a tear to my eyes thinking that a life of such hopelessness and dejection as Charlie Brown's is not entirely fiction. 'Peanuts' is not about ephemeral jokes and vanishing gags. It's not about the punchline in the final panel that we have come to expect from conventional comic strips. 'Peanuts' is dark. Extremely dark. It's about an innocent child's need to fit in and his failures at being able to do so. It's about his unrequited love and his brutal heartbreaks. It's about his constant search for success and his relentless defeats and it's about his almost boneheaded refusal to accept them. It's about his insecurities in a world infested with seemingly self-assured brats and insensitive brutes and cold sweethearts. For a comic strip it shows a pretty dark world indeed. And then it tries to laugh it all away at the expense of the protagonist, Charlie Brown. And we do smile don't we ? But for me at least it's a smile of quiet resignation at being made to realize, quite beautifully, the helpless cruelty of our world.

Peanuts in other words is a bit like the works of that brilliant Russian raconteur, Chekov. People do not like him because his endings are so ridiculously mundane in conventional wisdom. But how brilliant his stories themselves and how poignant their emotions ? It is customary for language to lose it's bite when it is translated from one form to another. We can see it in the crudeness with which we call Kafka's Samsa a 'vermin', a word that still provokes dissent in the camp of German language purists. But the fact that Chekov retains much of his punch even after translation just goes on to show that his stories are so much deeper. In the same way, my appreciation for 'Peanuts' is neither for the language nor for the twists, for it has virtually none of either. It's an appreciation for a bittersweet story that has been well told with frankness and honesty and subtlety. To me, those two dots between parentheses that are Charlie Brown's eyes convey more insecurity than the best actors ever can with a million words at their disposal. To me, 'Peanuts' represents an exceptional example of the kind of creative instinct that has so alarmingly disappeared in popular consciousness. Honest, intelligent art.


Religion's hideous wallpaper

To quote an incident which in turn was quoted by Stephen Fry; Oscar Wilde, when asked as to why he thought America was such a violent country, replied: "I know perfectly well why America is such a violent country. It's because her wallpapers are so hideous."

It's extremely easy to think of the answer as just a camp remark from a dandy Oxfordian who both excelled and reveled at making comments whose worthiness vested not in their content but in their dazzling form. But as Fry pointed out, it does have immense meaning in the Wildesque concept of rationality. And obviously, no religion, and few humans have come even close to matching the incisive perfection of that intellect that rested on those shoulders clothed in those silk and velvet raiment. In many senses, he was the Albert Einstein of the art world. His stature continues to grow as time passes whilst his contemporaries are reduced to midgets in our memories. He was the irreverent rebel who refused to weigh the world in the balance of conventional rationality. Instead, he chose to invent his own. And how beautiful it all is and how indebted our sensibilities to him.

Anyways, what he meant by his remark was this (again paraphrasing Fry slightly): Nature is absolutely and unreservedly beautiful. It's beautiful in the aridity of the dune riddled deserts and it's beautiful in the frigidity of the arctic wastes. It's beautiful in the vast expanse of the humbling oceans and it's beautiful in the delicate balance of African wilderness. It's beautiful everywhere. Except of course in places where it has come across humans. Humans have done exceedingly well in despoiling this beauty not by being trespassive but by being unimaginative. We have ravaged this elegance by employing mediocre architecture, building ugly factories, creating horrible music and, in general, succumbing to the whims and fancies of the lowest common denominator. I suppose another reason for this remark was the fact that the period was late 19th century and New York still had to wait for another 5 decades to lay it's claim as the center of world art and truly revolutionary music and science were yet to be born in this country. In any case, it was a time when the citizens were surrounded by dull ideas and their duller manifestations and naturally they saw themselves as belonging to a specie that could only uglify that which is completely beautiful. It instilled a sense of guilt and as Freud suggested, this guilt led to a violent disposition. This is what Wilde meant then and my god how very true is it today.

And we see the wheel turning all over again in the form of religious intolerance. The fact that religion today is incapable of delivering artists who could paint another Sistine Chapel with the elegance of Michelangelo or compose another 'Payoji maine' with the aesthetic sensibilities of Mirabai or pen another Odyssey with the grand artistic vision of Homer just goes on to show that God, if at all real, has at least lost all taste. Since morality is hardly a prerogative of religion, in the absence of beauty, all that religion exclusively teaches is divisiveness. And in the absence of contemporary examples of grace and elegance, all that it has to offer is rhetoric in the self-righteous ramblings of cocksure leaders who are the mediocre doyens of the unsure and the unimaginative. And it is these people, who obviously have a screwed up if not completely absent concept of beauty, who have either the time or the inclination or the desperation to strap up an IED and blow themselves up for a notion of paradise that's, to put it mildly, completely fucked up. I understand the need for religion but I cannot grasp it's unreserved, unquestioned acceptance. It will take me the rest of the week to elucidate the number of things I find wrong with it so I would rather pass.

The point is, good art is not a luxury that we can dispense with. We need assurances that we are capable of creating beauty in order of maintaining our sanity and science and art are the two avenues which help us realize that. Religion used to be in the form of a willing and able patron but, I'm afraid, it no longer is.

P.S: Here is Kowsik's reply.



I have noticed, I'm in complete love with language! And it's slightly scary because I do not think that people take it as seriously as I do. I would even go as far as hinting that there might be something wrong with me in the indulgent pleasures I take in the obscure quirks of language. Let me explain.

It's one thing laughing at a joke. It's an altogether different thing if that joke makes you feel fulfilled. Language does that to me. When I come across something intelligent, a witty play of words, a subtle innuendo, or a masterful exposition, to say that I enjoy it would be a massive understatement. Something as trivial as an insightful double entendre makes the world a better place for me. The trials and tribulations of a world so deeply entrenched in dishonest mediocrity do not seem quite so imposing after all.

It was a bright June morning in mid May when I woke up rubbing my eyes and clicked on my laptop to check my mail. In my inbox was a mail from UCSD parking office waiting to be opened and read. As a general habit, the importance that I give to any mail reduces exponentially with the number of people it is sent to beside me, with mails sent to 2 or more people hardly ever registering in my consciousness. It is only fair to say then that a mail from UCSD parking office to all UCSD students might as well find it's way to Junk for all I care. Anyways, it did catch my attention. It was a very small thing. Their subject had the name of the office itself and it was very smartly called 'between the lines'. I was so happy for the rest of the day. I wanted to tell it to so many people but after the first few who blinked at the complete pointlessness of the whole issue, I gave up. Nevertheless, you get the point.

I love the inherent music that words have. I think that a phrase as senseless and stupid as 'hoversmack tenenbaum' dances and sways with as much beauty as any abstract piece of art. I love the ringing sound words like 'junction' and 'gumption' make in the ears. I love the sophistication vested in the pronunciation of 'boulevard' and 'bourgeois' and I am happy that there was a time when people were brave enough to invent words like flaucinaucinihilipilification.

English is inherently conducive to linguistic manipulations. Comedy based purely on language is inbuilt in English. It's a facet that woefully lacks in so many other languages including Hindi. In fact I feel that linguistic comedy is the most sophisticated form of humor possible as it requires a level of intelligence that is far beyond what is required for slapstic humor and considerably beyond incisive satire. Sarcasm as an art is a subset of the intelligence that is developed enough to dabble sophisticatedly in language. That is why while a 'Yes Minister' can afford to be a brilliant satire without relying too much on language, 'A bit of Fry and Laurie' necessarily has to be a great satire in order to fulfill it's linguistic destiny.

There is a reason why we find bollywood comedy as nothing better than loose stool and arse gravy. Bollywood comedy has never been sophisticated, at least never on a large scale and one of the reasons is definitely a non-conducive language. Our best brains and our best language vests with the creative minds and foul tongues of 20 somethings and not in the wisdom of the balding and the spent. It's in the greasy corridors of hostels festooned with unwashed dishes and unwashed boys that language in all it's majesty finds its true colors. It's here in the hallowed portals of... whatever, that it soars into the stratosphere of brilliance. Too bad that we as a culture are either prude and intolerant or mediocre and non-discriminating. It shows up in our cinema.

I see that I have digressed again :).


Spot the error: Answer

Well, Nikhil had to get it right. After all it has to do with the history of photography and for all his maniacal insistence on knowing the ins and outs of the trade, it's only expected.

The above image is one of the many in which horses were shown galloping with their legs splayed apart. Somehow, such an image appeals to our sense of speed and agility that we associate with horses so art accordingly imitated our prejudices. It wasn't until the late 19th century that a person named Eadweard Muybridge studied the motion of horses by taking a series of photographs and running them consecutively at a high frame rate to produce an illusion of continuous reality. Here is what he saw:

As you can see, he demonstrated that the legs of a horse, when in air, are never splayed apart. This, incidentally, is the first motion picture ever produced. So there you are.


Spot the error

:) What's wrong in the following picture:


Stereotypical Humor

I was watching "Hunt for the red October" yesterday with a couple of friends and remember making a lot of jokes stereotyping Russians and Blacks (forgive me for the use of this supposedly derogatory term but the intent to insult is definitely not there). I also remember thinking that had a particular friend of mine been there at that time, he would certainly have commented caustically at our misdemeanor. Which brings me to the point of the post. Most, if not all comedy is about stereotyping.

We do it all the time. Whether we are laughing at the social inadequacies of the geeks or chortling at the mental ones of the blonds. Whether we are sarcastically giggling at the political deficiencies of the ruling class or the herd mentality of the upwardly mobile middle. We stereotype the 'questioning intonation' of the teens as mercilessly as we do the general American obsession with cheese. The relative societal stuntedness of the Indians and the Chinese are as much a source of amusement to us as the unruliness and excessive physical exaggeration of the Italians or the hilarious snobbery of the British. Corpulence is as potent a topic for comedy as excessive thinness and the driving sense of the fairer sex figures as prominently in our humorous musings as the sexual drives of the not so fair.

The point is, stereotyping is most essential to our sense of humor. We need a sort of familiarity with the subject for us to appreciate its ridicule. Imagine trying to make up a joke about an alien blob of gooey substance about which you know absolutely nothing. Although the depth of comedy increases with increasing sophistication, more often than not, at the end of it all lies a good old stereotype. When you have waded through the linguistic tricks and the obscure references, when you have managed to find your way through the intricate forest of jargon, its a stereotype you are more than likely to find at the end. Even as abstract a form of comedy as purely linguistic humor (I am a big fan of which by the way) ridicules and stereotypes our knowledge of language and the way we take it for granted. To say that such a form of comedy is pompous is probably our cry for a subject that we can understand as a stereotype.

I must confess here that we as Indians probably stereotype the most, which again is a stereotype ! But our hypocrisy lies in not being able to sportingly take a joke upon ourselves. On the other end of the spectrum are the Americans who are more than happy to take a joke but who seem to be trying too hard to be political correct for too much of their waking time. But political correctness, as detrimental to a healthy society as it is, is an entirely different ballgame and requires a different arena and a sterner and more acidic tone. So we will leave it for now.

I feel that the maturity of a society is defined, to a huge extent, by the freedom with which it can mock its elements. Stereotyping, therefore, lies at the very heart of a healthy society since it is so intricately related to comedy. It is perfectly acceptable till it's done with the understanding that it does not necessarily apply to each individual constituting the group. It doesn't have to be insulting to be effective but then what is insulting is more often than not determined by the most regressive elements of the society. Those who twitch their brow and purse their lips when they come across an otherwise harmless piece of stereotypical comedy, generally are moralists if not hypocrites. But then I have not known a moralist who was not a hypocrite.


Mr. Malaprop - 1

Mr. Malaprop:

Oh, yes yes. I remember this place. I have great memories related to this place. This is where I saw my wife for the very first time. I remember thinking, "My God! what a tiny women she is". She was about 2 and a half inches tall, heels included. Of course, it was only after a few days that I realized that it was because she was standing 55 meters away. While sitting next to me on the coffee table, she seemed quite a normal sized human being after all. It was the glaring eyes that made us realize that sitting on a coffee table in a public place is not a very nice thing to do. So we both climbed down and sat on the chairs. Oh! how clearly I remember those first sparks... The overhead wires must have short-circuited due to the recent rains and it did not take long for those first sparks to turn into a modest fire. Things did settle though, and I asked her if she wanted a hot cup of coffee to which she innocently replied that she would prefer hot coffee instead.

Oh! how so very beautiful she was. Her blond hair shimmering in the brilliant yellow sun, her skin glowing with the radiance of full moon on the surface of an ocean, her eyes alight with the twinkle of a thousand stars. I was completely lost in her beauty until she asked me if I wanted whipped cream with my hot chocolate. Slightly confused, I replied in the negative and resumed conversation with the woman who had the distinguishing characteristic of appearing 2 and a half inches tall (with heels) at 55 meters. I noticed that she had a most beautiful plumage of black hair... Then she took out the blond ones and the brunette ones. It seemed to me that she took her job more seriously than it deserved and I was just relieved that she wasn't a heart transplant surgeon.


Yearning for a story

It's weird that I woke up in the morning thinking about my childhood, specifically about all those stories my grandfather used to tell me as I snuggled beside him in a warm blanket with a white cotton cover on a cold winter evening. With the reassuring knowledge of mother busy in the kitchen and father too occupied to pester me with any more mathematics, and with the ever so imaginative beginnings to entranced escapes which went, "once upon a time", I would look into his bespectacled eyes, old and wearied but fixated somewhere in the distance, continually brimming with excitement as he recounted, for the 100th time, how the prince killed the monster. Once in a while, he would look at the boy, who by this time was completely bewitched, and he would smile ever so gently and pat his head and say, "do you know what happened next". Of course I knew, but it was a million times sweeter if he told me once again. And he would. In the sweet white light of a warm cozy room with the muffled sound of an electric heater in the background, the slightly cold touch of a freshly cleaned pillow, and the assurance that the only person in the world who could save me from doing chores and studying and general parental bullying was sitting right beside me recounting stories: it hardly gets any better.

I woke up in the morning not just with these sweet memories. Sweet memories hardly ever wake you up. I woke up thinking about our, as in our generation's, apparent lack of imagination and creativity. I was wondering, if we are ever called upon to do so, would we have a good story to tell ? It is human to hark upon imagination when our experiences are not good enough. But imagination needs a foundation to grow upon. While my grandfather's generation had religion and social boundaries and superstitions to provide them with a framework within which their imagination could thrive, hardly anything is left to imagination now. Whatever is left is hardly innocent and mostly drab. In the tech savvy world of today, incredibility is associated with the next big thing in mobile communication. And since we have learned to be skeptical about our own incredulity, it's just not good enough. Social and economic freedom have made cynics out of us. In a huge sense it's obviously good, but in a small way it's bad.

It's bad in the eyes of the boy who sat entranced when the 32 statuettes enlivened to dance in the royal courts of Vikramaditya. It's slightly sad that the ponds of yesteryear which supplied an endless stream of wicked witches and haunted trees has gone dry. It's sad that the castles which beheld the most opulent of dances and the arenas which hosted the most brilliant of wars and the daring knights and the stately beautiful princesses and the conniving stepmothers and the obedient sons and the innocent daughters and the helpful dwarfs, they have all withered against the onslaught of time. I distinctly remember this line my grandfather beat to death: "Din beete, hafte beete, mahine beete, saal beet gaye" (days and weeks and months and years went past). And I realize it only now.


Ode to an Ode

"Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium"

Thus starts the baritone for "Ode to joy" in the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony. And my god! it chills me down to the bone.

It's monumental. It's vulgarly grand. Its complexity is majestic. Its colour palatial. Its energy opulent. It shines in a resplendent glory of labyrinthine brilliance. Its weight is so imposing, I can feel it crushing my shoulders. Its scale so magnificent, I can feel my body heat dissipating from the tips of my hair. But it's beautiful nevertheless. The 9th symphony manages to strike a delicate balance between blinding opulence and slender fragility. It keeps hovering over the boundary separating the two, forever pulsating and throbbing with the vitality of a sore nerve, forever threatening to explode with the venom of a thousand snakes but always managing to stop at the breaking point of the cord holding it back. Hence, it manages to do things I rarely ever feel. The feeling of being constantly bombarded with genius, with its every manifestation contaminating the very air I breathe, with its every materialization serving to churn my blood into one coagulated lump. I sleep with the sweet lullaby of mild violins until the deep, sonorous sounds of angry cellos wake me up. I float with the divine sounds of flutes until cymbals shoot me down. The clarinets and the bassoons, the oboes and the contrabassoons, all intertwined in a complex arabesque of seraphic order. The deep baritone and the crisp tenor, the mesmerizing alto and the breathtaking soprano, all moving around each other with the simple beauty of a DNA helix. 200 accomplished vocalists of the Berlin Philharmonic, uniting their considerable talents to create a spectacle that is both majestic and heavenly. Every single breath, every single note, every single sound, perfectly synchronized to engender a sculpture that shines with the brilliance of a flawlessly cut diamond.

I am terribly sorry if my limited language could only provide an understated eulogy to this masterpiece of human creation. The piece is more beautiful than my, or indeed anyone's, words could ever describe. Here is a youtube link for the piece but I suggest listening to it on a CD if you can get your hands onto one:

Part 1
Part 2 (The ode to joy starts at 11:05 in this part.)


Chequered and Flagged

The pieces set gleaming in crimson light
the players sweat o'er impending fight
him taking black, it's me who has the white
who gallantly gallops his gallant knight

He moves his pawn to gain the center stage
and my pawn brings us both on the same page
his knight, my bishop, such a trembling rage
histrionics nettling they do engage

We hunch over the board with faces grave
with fingers twirling hair in baffled wave
I sacrifice a rook in moment brave
he sees through it, oh! what a damn close shave

his mistress now breathing down on my neck
with raging fury, slaps me with a check
I move to left - she eats one from my deck
and leaves behind a battered, rickety wreck

I must wake up before it gets too late
with middling talent, all I have is fate
I march forward, he storms in through my gate
"5-naught", says he and adds, "it's a check-mate"




Attempting as abnormal and arduous an attempt as alphabetical acrobatic - an act aptly askancable. But boneheadedness blinks balkily, barely bothered by balanced but belligerent brethren. Cursing common conceptions-cum-cowardice condemned of a craft culture callously "comme ci, comme ça", conveniently crude. Drained, diluted, and devoid of dare - donning dark, droning, and depressing dreariness- a dame dressed dryly in a dilapidated, dirty dress. Eschewing erudition. Forgoing fastidious fervency, finicky fanaticism for flabbergastingly foolish f-art. Girth girdled garishly by germanely gaudy generations of gall-less greasebags.

Here however - hightime, I instead insisted in the inadvertence inherent in this idiotic invective. Jettisoning jarring jocularity, kaleidoscopic loonheadedness, let me mention - myriad manifestations of mouth-ly ( :-( ) moorings make 'making meaning' monstrously macabre. Hence, I am bloody done!!!


Deeply Fried

I recently completed the autobiography of the British humorist Stephen Fry titled "Moab is my washpot" and saying that it is one of the most satisfying if not the most interesting books ever to have come under my purview would not be an exaggeration.

Stephen Fry, as most people would be unaware of given our obsessions with all things American, is an extremely brilliant comedian from England. His quick wit is as admirable as his exquisite command over the English language. His encyclopedic knowledge as astonishing as his polymathic disposition, and his relentless success matched only by his depression-ridden personal life. He represents the last of the dying breed of public personalities we associate the term intellectual with and for all his mindboggling genius, his humility peering from behind the superb 'class' that veils it all makes every minute of his appearance a pleasure to the eyes, every syllable that he utters the most satisfying music of perfection, and every point that he analyzes an insightful study into incisive rationality.

The book is great not just because its so honest it hurts. Not even because he describes a life with twists and turns enough to encompass the existence of 5 ordinary individuals like me. The book is amazing because of the sheer pleasure of its language. Every sentence seems perfect. Every word as if chosen after considerable deliberation. Every punctuation has a story to tell, a weight to support. Even the font changes size to drive home the author's point. Words dance and sway in a perfectly choreographed sequence of linguistic acrobatics and every sentence merges so fluidly in the following sentence that you almost do not want to pause at the full stop. Latin merges with French and Spanish and Greek and gobbledygook to spice up the already formidable English. And from behind it all, the sweet and sour memories of an eventful past emerge with the clarity of a dew laden mountain bush against a misty background. Its one of the few books in which the subject matter did not matter all that much, not to me at least. If you will permit me the slight leeway, I would like to compare the charm of the book with music. Not music as in Beethoven's moonlight sonata. But music as in the sound of the grand Piano. Its beauty is akin to the primal attractions of color as opposed to a painting. Its both a privilege and an exhilarating experience witnessing the potentialities of language I never thought existed. Its continuity is numbing and hypnotic. Its flow... well I could go on and on.

Let me take this opportunity for elaborating on a slight diversion. As Wilde would probably have said, though in an infinitely more articulate way, "There are far too many geniuses in the world". I mean look around you. The world is festooned with the likes of them. Running around soccer fields and tennis courts, banging away their lives on the Piano and the guitar from the age of 2, spewing barely intelligible equation in dimensions too obscure to even comprehend, scaling mountains, jumping from cliffs and planes and probably moon, painting the Monalisa in Microsoft Paint. They have come to infest the world in such huge numbers, it has become an ungainly sight. So what makes these geniuses different to me than say Fry or Watterson ? I think it has to do with one's class and principles. Its in one's world view and his rationality, in the way he treats others and in how he stands for the principles he professes. It has something to do with that slightly snobbish idea of elitism. Not material elitism but intellectual elitism. The courage to say, in plain words, how mentally constrained and emotionally prejudiced our lot is. Such brilliance doesn't raise his voice like Carlin does. It merely shakes his head and keeps quiet with the sort of dignity an army commander might have while sitting with a bunch of buffoons from the Parliament. And I see these qualities in both Fry and Watterson and to a big extent, Dylan. Its not just their genius which impresses me. Its their rationality and courage and the will to defy the mores of the society for the love of their art.


The curse of the iambic pentameter

You pick your pen and scratch your chin a bit
these wretched words frankly just would not fit
you're growing gray rhyming cheater and peter
and stuffing them all in an iambic pentameter

Swallowing your pride with every ending 'love'
with a helplessly crushed creativity you rhyme it with 'dove'
but then 'orange' somehow finds its way to the end
and no bloody word would rhyme howsoever language is bend

And by now you realize that the pentameter is lost
in the quest for rhyme, rhythm was the cost
or maybe you are just not enough talented
your pride is bruised and your ego, dented

All you can do now is write loose verse
with shallow meaning and language too terse
on how you suck at what others are so much better
on the restrictiveness of iambic pentameter

On how the literary world is completely unfair
with some hogging more talent than their share
and sad figures like you barely making ends meet
staring sadly, hopelessly at the sparkling clean sheet

Hoping that words would appear by godly intervention
that 'heart' will find a partner without undue tension
and you twitch your brow and scratch you head
think for a bit and go down to bed.

to split or to NOT split

You know how things go sometimes. We go about our daily lives, waking up early, having our 3 meals a day, pretending that we are making a difference. You know, the usual stuff. But once in a while, when reading a piece of avant-garde literature or while listening to someone particularly blasphemous, we come across a sentence radical enough to-simply-reckon with. Still, being the selfish self-centered specie that we are, we seldom realize that in this politically correct world that flinches everytime an African American is referred to as black, an infinitive was split right under our noses.

A split infinitive is the linguistic equivalent of the Danish cartoons. It doesn't quite generate the same amount of gasps as if you were to publicly dismiss holocaust as a hoax, but it has drawn boundaries in the English speaking world in a way few other constructs have. At this point, those who are not familiar with the concept might be wondering as to what the hell I am blathering about. I will tell you what I am blathering about.

According to Wikipedia, "A split infinitive or cleft infinitive is an English-language grammatical construction in which a word or phrase, usually an adverb or other adverbial, comes between the marker to and the bare infinitive (uninflected) form of a verb.".

In other words, if you have just made out with the wife of an English language purist who has just wandered into the room and happens to be armed with a 7.62 mm AK-47 automatic assault rifle, here is what you should say:
"I am sorry. It was a mistake to kiss her passionately."
rather than:
"I am sorry. It was a mistake to passionately kiss her."
Might just save you.

I must say that I understand the principal objection of the English orthodoxy against such reckless splitting. I understand that a split infinitive lacks the fluidity of Strauss's waltz and it fails to generate the sustained excitement akin to the active exhaust of an automatic turbocharged V-10 but it has the endearment of imperfection. Its like the noise of a high performance motorcycle engine which gasps for breath everytime you shift up. The discontinuity has its own charm.

More than that, there is an urgent need to reassess our position in a world that is placing increasingly tighter restraints on political correctness. I yearn for the days when men were real men, when every "his" stood alone and the feminists had not woken up to the possibility of whiling away some time by protesting that a "his/her" is necessary for female uplifting, when they were still playing Buzkashi in Afghanistan and when infinitives were being split left right and center with gay abandon.

Anyways, I reckon that there is an urgent need to do something about it. I reckon, we form an activist group and we should fight for the rights of the split infinitive. People nowadays seem to be morally fighting for virtually everything under the sun. Under the umbrella organization I am proposing, we can fight for the rights of split infinitives and Lactobacillus bacteria. Yes thats right, I implore you all to not eat curd :).



Perched atop the open cage
ruminating over freedom
nostalgic taste of iron below
and a slightly confused gaze.

she eyes the enslaved liberation
and the illusion of independence,
humanity-her every breath
polluted with myriad obligation.

sorrow masked as hope
punctuating the pursuit of happiness
with sorrow in such abundance
how can I ever cope ?

then she flaps her wings and flies
enters the cage and sings:
this hopeless prison is better
in a world where hope is a vice.


Placid Turbulence


Its a moonless night and you are sitting on the banks of a still lake. Alone. Your feet creating ripples on the surface of the water that dance and shimmer in the dark light of the stars. And your hands clutching the moist grass on the sides. All you can hear is the rustle of the leaves as the trees lining the bank sway ever so slightly. All you can see is their dark silhouettes against a darker background and their slight reflections far into the lake. All you can feel is utter aloofness. You look up to the sky and it dazzles in a brilliant arabesque of divine order. Millions of specks painted on the black backdrop. Each silently twinkling. Each helplessly cognizant of its own loneliness. Their combined luminescence failing to reverberate in your eyes as the dreariness of it all weighs on your eyelids and you are forced to look down at the lake again. And it has a deathly stillness to it. Like a deserted home in a middle of nowhere. Like an anachronistic gramophone that is shocked into muteness. Like the quiet reflection of a boisterous crowd.

The scene should have been beautiful but there is something wrong with it. And I cannot put my finger on the reason. Its like an unfinished painting that has nonetheless been framed in a hurry. The underlying sadness is both exquisite and slightly disconcerting. Its a metaphor for life I suppose. Not quite perfect but strangely beautiful nonetheless. And subdued at the same time. The aforementioned scene invites me. Almost sinfully. And I feel like putting down the baggage for a while and resting. With my head down on my bent knees. With the sensation of passing time reduced to the slight movements of my hair in the breeze. And all the excess energy manifesting itself in small motions of my right feet. Slowly caressing the dead water into unwelcome waves.


Indian Premier League

I am guessing it must be a quietly jovial day at the headquarters of Zee Telefilms when Subhash Chandra finally figured out how to mint the stupidity of millions of fanatic cricket lovers in gold. Alas, his plans with the Indian cricket leagues hit the greedy roadblocks of BCCI , but he had nevertheless shown the imagination strapped bunch of clowns at the hem of Indian cricket how to truly turn this beautiful game into a money making machine. Thus was born the Indian Premier League. And it sucked.

It sucks in the same way Britney Spear feels like molten iron is being poured into your ears. It sucks with the same foulness of a Garfield mocking your intelligence. And it sucks in precisely the same way an Ekta Kapoor feels like she has just installed a juicer-mixer-grinder in your skull which is working overtime at preparing a homogeneous concoction of your gray matter. And there is a reason why it sucks so much.
Warning: Politically incorrect content to follow:

The reason IPL (or T20) must necessarily be bad is because its so popular. Its catering to what Watterson called the Lowest Common Denominator of humanity. And the Lowest Common Denominator of humanity is a sorry mass of stupid homo sapiens. Their demand for non-complex, instant gratification has reduced music to the shambles it is in today. Their inability to appreciate anything even remotely sophisticated has led to the downfall of smart/sensible Television and Cinema. Our generation has seen the demise of the likes of Naseeruddin Shahs and it has forced the reasonably talented A.B. to dance to the tunes of talentless hacks like Himesh Reshammiya. We have witnessed the steady incursion of mediocrity in everything. Everything we have touched, has turned to dust. And we are happy. Because now it can be mass produced, cheaply, and efficiently. And it is just clever enough not to put us to sleep and just dumb enough to be universally palatable. Yes, we have achieved great audiences but we have lost the soul in our efforts. And the same is true for IPL or T20.

To put it mildly, the Twenty-20 format is a joke. The format is too heavily laden in the favor of the batsmen and kills any sort of competition between the bat and the ball. And the seeds of this were sown before T20 itself. The game of cricket began on the path of demise when the no-ball rules came into place. When the power-plays came into place. When the bouncers were prohibited. Suddenly with the bite taken out of a bowler's arsenal, we had stupid talentless freaks like Dhoni straddling around, waving their bats in inebriated frenzy and still managing to keep the scorekeepers busy. I would have loved to see the likes of such modern cricketers face the sweet music of 150 kmph deliveries aimed at their terror stricken eyes. Oh, how much I would have loved to see a few more broken bones and fractured rib-cages. That would have separated the boys from the men. But no, we had to go one step further and start this mind dump of a format called T20. And the last hopes of a game lover like me who just wants to see a level playing field were dashed by the money grubbing corporations.

People would say, "So what ? its a hit". Well, obviously its a hit. That's what pains me really. Because while good art can still survive amidst mediocrity through individual efforts, a game as institutionalized as cricket will find it difficult to breathe when the institution itself is bent upon destroying it. And the public can hardly care less. As long as it has its share of crying Sreesanths and angry Harbhajans and dancing cheerleaders. That's another thing. Importing cheerleaders. Its just sad. I mean, I cannot care less about the moral police (I hate them) but this is not what cricket was meant to be. As inappropriate as cheerleaders are in cricket (from a historical perspective), importing them says a lot about us Indians. I really do not have words to describe how sad it makes me. Its like saying, the game is no more good enough. It has to be supported by sex. Because that's what it is. Sex. Cover up all you want but I would be damned if I do not see through it. The swinging balls are not good enough anymore. We need the swinging bellies. The unadulterated, honest cover drive doesn't appeal to us anymore. We need a bunch of Russian bimbos to get our adrenaline going. We need a complete soap opera on the field. We have even started terming the game as 'evening entertainment'. With all due respect: MY BLOODY FOOT !

About Me

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Like a particularly notorious child's tantrums, a mountaneous river's intemperance, a volcano's reckless carelessness and the dreamy eyes of a caged bird, imagination tries to fly unfettered. Hesitant as she takes those first steps, she sculpts those ambitious yet half baked earthen pots.