Thursday, November 2, 2006

I am dead to the world till the end of the year


There are two things in my life that I have always wanted to do, and that I am finally doing.
I have become *gasp* immoral theatre personality. Er ok, that's stretching it a tad. I am acting, singing, dancing and scripting my lines in the annual Pantomime in Madras. Either way, the thing is, I am performing. On stage. In a bonafide theatre production. Finally.

I am writing a novel. Scratch that. I am attempting to write a novel. And finish it in one month, no less. So it will be a monumentally craptastic novel but hey... it's a start. Writhe first, think later. I haven't the foggiest where it will go and I barely have a plot in mind. But I will somehow somehow get words down on paper. Ok why? Go see http://www.nanowrimo.org/

So for two months, there's work during the day, theatre rehearsals every evening for three and a half hours, and writing in pain till the early hours. Meanwhile, my blog, trusty side-kick, friend in need, pillar of support, shining beacon of hope through dark and trying times etc etc... will sadly, have to suffer.

Till January... Till January...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

SMS Poetry


Intimidate.
Intimate date,
Intimate hate,
Instigate fate,
In ti mi date.
In ti mate.
In thee...
I mate.
I hate.
I wait.
My fate.
*slaps forehead*
Intimidate.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Requiem for a Cookie



It was chocolate.
To be more precise, it was a chocolate chip cookie at Barista. A big, crumbly, gooey, melt in your mouth type cookie. I stuck my hand in the glass jar and took one out. Shall I take another one? Ah, no, I will have just the one. I will savour this one like it was the last cookie on earth. I will break it into bits and I will eat it slowly, relishing the taste. I will feel the intoxicating swirl of biscuit-crumble and chocolate melt on my tongue. I will squeak with delight when I bite down on an unexpected chocolate lump warmly nestled in a secure cushion of crumbly sugary flour; like nuggets of gold hidden by a mischievous imp and intended to be found by me and me alone. When I am reaching the end, I will take longer and longer to eat it, slowly savouring each piece and breaking it into smaller and smaller pieces till they turn into the thick, sticky, dark chocolate that coats my fingers. Then I will slide my chocolate-dripping fingers into my mouth and I will run my tongue all around them and lick them clean.

It was nine pm on a Friday night and I was with a friend at the coffee pub on beach road. We met up over coffee and conversation and well, yes, chocolate. She wasn’t in the mood for a full-fledged dinner. I was famished. But ah, I could hear the sea roar from over here and we both only really wanted to be out of the door and by the shore as soon as we could. Takeaway please! It had to be chocolate. Dark as hell and sweet as sin. It may not fill your stomach, but it can at least engulf your soul.

We settle down just a few feet from the sea and nuzzle our feet into the sand. Bag? Check. Phone? Check. Biscuit and Coffee? Check. Let’s move the shoes here, a little away from the playful waves and we’re set! We’re talking about life, we’re talking about people, we’re talking about sparkling orange lights that float in a distance over the sea, which just might be ships that are docked for the night or more likely, mischievous little night-goblins that blow salty breeze into people’s faces and bubbles into the ocean to make it froth and foam. I cast furtive glances at my biscuit. Ah, it is safe. I will save it for the end.

Enter beggar woman. She is, like any ordinary beggar, scruffy and unkempt. She sticks out a withered limb from underneath the layers of dirty smelly torn rags and asks if you could spare some change. Anything. Fifty paise maybe. May you be blessed with a good husband.

You turn your head and wrinkle your nose. Maybe she will go away. Maybe she’ll understand that we are not interested. You purse your lips and gaze glass-eyed at the orange lights in the distant. You clutch your bag closer to your body. Why doesn’t this old hag just leave us alone? How she ruins the evening! You wait stony-faced and silent till she leaves so you may resume your conversation.

‘I haven’t had anything to eat in two days’

You frown. Two days? Well, that’s very tragic indeed but as a general policy I don’t condone begging for alms you see. You don’t say anything to her though. You pretend you don’t hear.
‘Please. I haven’t eaten in such a long time. Spare a thought’

You look at your friend. You look at the bag sitting innocently between you. Your beloved cookie lies inside it, fate unknown. You think, she’s only going to harass me anyway if I don’t give her something and get rid of her. You think of black and white images and Phil Collins singing Another Day in Paradise. You think of your one cookie, your highlight of the evening, the one cookie that you chose, the one cookie that was singled out among all the other cookies in the jar to be consumed by you. You think of what high aspirations you had for your cookie. You think of how you would have eaten it the way it deserves to be eaten. You would’ve relished it, you would’ve devoured it, you would’ve loved it, you would’ve consumed it, you would’ve engulfed it and made it part of your very being. You look at it with pain and longing. She hasn’t eaten in two days.

You whip it out of the paper bag with a flourish. You hold it out like a large, gold coin and drop it into her cupped hands with a clink of satisfaction. You turn back to the sea with a look of serene benevolence. She would have rarely tasted anything quite so decadent. She probably never had such rich chocolate in her life. She will guard it zealously, hiding it between her clothing, breaking it off into small pieces and chewing on it with her hardened gums. You held the dials of her happiness and sadness in your hands and in one deft move, you decided what you shall enable her to feel. You decided to end her hunger. You decided she will long no more. You feel like God.

‘Could you open this packet? I can’t get it to open’

You take the plastic-wrapped biscuit from her pruned fingers with a look of infinite patience. You grab the wrap on either side and tug lightly. It rips open in one sharp move. You drop the opened packet in her hands and dismiss her with a slight wave of the fingers. Do not bother me with your trivialities; I have more important things to discuss.

‘One biscuit?! I stood here for so long and you give me this one measly biscuit?! Haven’t you any money?! BAH!’

She totters off, muttering and cursing under her breath while you look at her rapidly-receding silhouette in wide-eyed disbelief.
.
.
.
I should have thrown it into the sea. At least the night-goblins would have liked that.

I mourn.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Note to self


Don’t fall for a man like your f. They are not the marrying kind.

If you can help it, don’t fall at all.

Seek. Live. Love. Let go. Do not hope to possess. Certain things cannot be possessed. Like water, the tighter you grip it the more that spills out through the gaps between your fingers.

Do not fall for someone innocent and pure. You will destroy him. People like that, we must gently sun ourselves in their warmth. We cannot take them home with us, to our tarnished surroundings and our sullied thoughts. We must watch them quietly from a distance or we will deform them. They are happy because they do not know any better. Do not push your fears unto them. They will listen, they will comfort, they will support, they will lift the burden gently from your shoulders, but your fears and your hate are ugly and contagious.

Do not fall for someone hoping he will change. He will not. They never do.

Be wary of the magickal ones. They will make you laugh, they will make you feel good about yourself, they will gently nudge you out of your cocoon; you will blossom and come into your own under their quiet encouragement. They will stand behind you and hold your hand as you slowly, shyly, hesitantly stick out your foot and dip your big toe into the cold dark waters. You will turn back and see the quiet approval in their eyes. They are the worst.

Do not fall for those.

Do not ever fall for those.

Do not let yourself be possessed. Do not speak, when you don’t wish to. Do not answer, if you don’t want to. Do not stay, if you want to go.

Know the difference between a keeper and a fun ride. Do not mistake one for the other.

Do not mistake the heady sensation of meeting someone for the first time for something more than what it is. The first days are always that way. You will be giddy, you will laugh, you will glow, you will bloom, you will shed your inhibitions, you will become intoxicated with life. It is not him, it is you. This will not last. It is transitory. Make the most of it because it will fade. There will soon be others and you will do it again. Such is life and thank god for that.

Hold them lightly, by just the tips of your fingers. If you can, don’t hold them at all. Turn around and look with surprise when you find they are still there.

There are those that will hurt you. Stay. Allow yourself to feel pain. Leave when you feel you cannot. But don’t hope. They do not mean it. They just do not know that they trample on everything that is sacred and pure to you. They are not bad; it is just the way they are. They will never learn. Do not try.

Segregate. Know what you like and know what you don’t want. Keep the one and throw the other. Do not engulf the whole. It will make you sick. Understand that these are things in and of and by themselves. These are not the people themselves; no more than brown is a unique, inherent quality of a dog. When you decide to engulf the whole, do not pick out the parts and examine them too closely. Close your eyes and plunge right in. Try to enjoy the journey. Do not be scared.
Above all, have fun.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Alphabet Soup


I cheat. This isn't a bona fide blog post, it's my exercise for a writing group I joined. The rule was that the first line should begin with 'A' and every subsequent sentence should begin with the other alphabets in order, thus ending the story with a sentence starting with 'Z'. I didn't strictly follow the rule for this one, so sent in another, and putting this up on my blog. Read it and weep.

- Aren’t you ready yet?!
- Besides, this dress makes me look fat. I’ll wear the black one then. Tell me, which shoes do you like better?
- Christ! I really couldn’t care less. We should have been there by now! Will you please hurry up?
- Don’t use that tone of voice with me! You were the one who insisted I dress ‘traditional’.
- Esther darling, much as I love that sexy strapless wonder, I don’t think it would be wise for you to flaunt your ample décolleté the very first time you meet my parents. They’re very conservative, not used to this sort of thing at all. We’ll have to break it to them slowly, dear; they wouldn’t be able to…
- Fine! I’ll go wear a saree then. There, are you happy? Although it would be fun to see the looks on their faces when you come waltzing in with me, the bouncing braless wonder. I say, we could…
- God help me! Look, could you just wear something appropriate! We’re already ten minutes late and you’re not even dressed!
- Hang on, hang on! My, you do fly into a tizzy. It’ll only take a minute. Ah, there we are. Perfect for the occasion, don’t you think? Oh shoot, it’s all crumpled! Five minutes, love, let me just iron this out and then we’ll leave.
- Iron this out!? It’s a quarter past eight. We’re already late. Traffic is shit. I’ve been waiting here since god knows when watching you put a load of muck on your face, taking hours to pick something to wear, deciding whether those stupid bloody shoes that you just spent half my money on are quite the right shade and now you want to go and iron your outfit!
- Just spent half your money on?! Since when did this become your money? And what do I do all day? Swat flies, I suppose! I can’t believe that you of all people would say something like that! Go on then, get out! Go stuff your face with your mother’s fantastic cooking! Tell her your Christian ‘lady friend’ was indisposed. I think they’ll only be too happy. Who’s that woman they’re so keen to see you marry? She’s probably there right now, smirking to herself! God knows she’s forever at your parents’ house. Your second cousin, whatshername, Kavita or Kalpana or some such rot.
- Kanchana. And she’s not even in the city, she’s gone to Calcutta. Look, I know my folks are a little old-fashioned…
- Little?! That’s like saying Hitler was a tad racist! You told me, the last girl you brought home to meet your parents; you mother nearly made her cry because she had the audacity to add salt to her food.
- Mom can be a bit overbearing. But Esther darling, that’s why I really want this evening to go off well.
- No Rahul, that’s not it. What you want is for me to adopt some completely new persona and morph into this traditional Indian belle so that your mother will accept me! Well guess what, I am NOT going to wear this stupid sari. I’ve been listening to you obsessing over this stupid dinner for over a month now – Esther, have you got something nice to wear! Esther, remember to fold your hands when you greet her! Esther, don’t criticize the food! Well darling, you’ve got nothing to worry about. I’m not going.
- Oh come come, be reasonable darling. I’m only trying to…
- Please stop doing that. I’ve made up my mind and I’m not going.
- Quarrelling like this isn’t going to help. Lets not bicker, come now, be reasonable, just get your shawl, you look fine. We can still make it if we leave right now.
- Rahul! For the last time, I’m not going!
- Shush… don’t be this way. Here, what are you doing now! Put that suitcase away, don’t be silly. Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled. You look fine. The shoes are perfect. Mom is going to love you, let’s just leave ok?
- That’s not the point. I don’t care if your mom is going to love me or not. Do you love me enough to tell her that I’m not your ‘lady friend’ and that I am in fact your girlfriend, I’ve been your girlfriend for a year now and I might just be your wife very soon.
- Understand, Esther! You’re putting me in a tight spot! You can’t just spring news like that on them. They’re old; they need time to get used to new ideas.
- Very well then, take all the time you need. In fact, I won’t even get in your way.
- Where are you going at this hour? Ok look, I’ll just cancel dinner tonight and we’ll meet them some other day. You can wear whatever you like; I promise I won’t breathe over your shoulder. Just leave that suitcase Esther, this really is childish behaviour.
- Xavier will take me in. I’m going to stay with my brother till I find a decent apartment and then I’m going to move out and into my own place.
- You don’t want to do this. Come, Esther, you are being unreasonable. You must accommodate a little darling. They’re old and set in their ways; we have to break it to them gently. Esther, set that suitcase down. Esther, come back here! Esther!
- Zandra Rhodes. 27000 rupees. Black patent leather slingback with peep toe and hanging heart diamante. Well, it wasn’t a total waste of two years. At least I have the shoes.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

A concept of time


What if we are not really different people but the same person at different times? Imagine the big bang and with it the birth of the universe and cosmic inflation and energy and stars and galaxies and quark-gluon plasma and finally a little blue-green planet we like to call Earth. Imagine then, life. Complex cellular water-and-carbon based organisms. Then imagine Intelligence... Perception... Cognition... Sentience... Self-awareness. Now imagine you.

You are born, you live your life, you have your 'points of reference' - your mother, your father, your family, your home, your city, your school, your preferences, your physical attributes, your thoughts. And then you love, you laugh, you cry, you feel fear, you feel pain, you think, you act, you feel, you procreate (or not) and you die. What if, you are reborn as your mother?

What if time, not the quantifiable force that we as humans have sliced into infinite portions of measurable units but true time, absolute, flowing, endless, without reference to anything external, in and of itself, ceases to exist in the spatial-temporal continuum of the universe. What if it never was! What if instead, it continues in the nonlinear medium of your consciousness.

Reborn, with the rebirth of your pinpoint of comprehension in another space-time reference. Time begins again, when you are again, as your mother, your father, your son, the ladybug that crawled/crawls/will crawl over your bookmark. And so it runs on, boundless, ceaseless, infinite and you run on for all time, re-living the same life through different perceptions, beings and thoughts, being and not-being at the same time from the beginning of the universe, like every strand of hair you have shed, every fingernail you have discarded, every thought you have outgrown which still constitutes and defines you as a being and an entity… till all reality converges onto itself into that primeval atom of singularity, when you are not!

The end of the universe, whereupon you permeate all consciousness, all realities, all time, and you, the and and the or and the not and the was and is and will be in the conjugation hell of quantum mechanics, are all that remains.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Theatre festival


Two plays in two days, one a light british musical-comedy and the other a tragically beautiful play about coping with loss. Marvelous stuff. Makes me wonder what on earth am I doing warming the seats when I should be out there *emoting*! (You love me, you really love me!)

Right. On to the reviews then. The festival kicked off with 'A Very British Affair' by Escape Theatre Singapore. We've got London West End star Matt Jasper and British actor Mark Waite and a delightful pianist Ian Lee, who kept gettin hit on during the play by Matt in drag. The play itself, well, it was hardly a play, more like snippets of lyrical comedy strung together interceded by pieces of beautiful solemnity, was pleasantly enjoyable.

There were a whole lot of comedy sketches, including a sly dig at Shakespeare. There was bit with Matt in drag sporting a ridiculous falsetto, playing the overbearing Dame Mary Sunshine in his song and dance routine. There was the old hell and eternal damnation bit with the devil sending the lawyers off to go join the French and Germans in the corner. A bit of Phantom of the Opera. A bit of Gilbert and Sullivan. Countless jokes made at the expense of the poor Singaporean chap happily playing the piano in the background (Who's he then? I dunno, he was on the plane so I brought him along!) He does of course come back in the second half in full Elton John garb. And loads of other sketches. My personal favorite, A fantastically over-the-top operatic rendition of Kylie Minogue's 'Can't get you out of my head' replete with gyrating hips and robotic dance sequence. The show wasn't without its minor hitches, but on the whole light, fun and musical, and although none of the sketches were brilliantly belly-clutching laugh-out-loud affairs, it was a thoroughly delightful evening.

Tonight's show was 'Shadow Box' by the Madras Players. A very moving, strangely compelling drama about three cancer patients and their broken lives and broken dreams. Poignant and sensitive, it was a remarkably beautiful play with shining moments of laughter (the heavy kind, the laughter-with-baggage variety) peppered throughout. Never overbearing or pretentious, never agonizingly raw, it was nonetheless forceful and fragile at the same time. There was the mother and daughter duo, the old woman dying of cancer and her second-favorite daughter laboring after her mother. The tortured writer and his ‘friend in the greek sense of the word’ visited by his colourful former wife in all her drunken grandeur. The separated mother and father, joined once more for the last time and their unsuspecting son. Three beautiful streams that pulled each other and came together in a sad, delicate way. Very moving.

So that was that! And then there’s more, Othello's on tomorrow night and Macbeth and Amadeus sometime later. Not sure if I can make it to them all, there is still the matter of the college application essays waiting to be written.

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show…

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Of witches and black pudding


Guess what black pudding is? Cmon on then, just take a guess. Oh stop trying to google it already! Go on... take a wild guess. What could this small circular slightly crisp black disc that's sitting oh so innocently next to your toast and eggs possibly be? How about this: Congealed Pig Blood!

So there you have it. My most 'adventurous' food ever, and that's counting raw fish, lamb brain and snails. No, I'm not upset at having wolfed down god knows how many pints of thick pig blood and fat, I'm upset that they call it black pudding! Pudding! For the love of God... Oh I would voluntarily have opted for a slice of congealed pig blood if only they were polite enough to ask instead of foisting it on unsuspecting tourists like moi. What bloody impudence! Oh just naturally assume wont you, that everybody would obviously come to the only logical conclusion that black pudding is some leftover cannibalistic recipe you got from the three cackling crones of Macbeth.

Imagine yourself walking into this quaint typical English country house hotel one fine sunny morning and you order a traditional full English breakfast. There's this sweet elderly lady behind the counter who keeps smiling while you decide between the orange juice and some new fangled fizzy diet drink. Minutes later, there's a piping hot plate laid in front of you - bacon, eggs, sausages, toast and this little black disc demurely peeking out from under the toast. Black pudding, the menu reads. Oh hey, must be some traditional English delicacy! Hmm, never tried it... looks harmless enough, must be some sort of popular local savoury. So after sitting there quite contented and at peace with the universe, delicious smells wafting up to your nostrils, you decide to tuck into your breakfast, black pudding et al. Tastes decent enough. You wonder what it is for a while before you forget everything and lose yourself in your eggs cooked to perfection.

Days later, on some whimsical fancy you decide to find out what it is. Wiki tells you in a very light, matter-of-fact way, oh its only just blood of a pig cooked with fat and allowed to simmer till it clots and congeals and then cut into the most dainty shapes so they can adorn your delightful white china plate with gold inleaf and pass of as some sort of pudding. You'd never guess would you that that charming old lady probably went into her quaint English kitchen and pulled out her evil, wicked witch of the west cauldron, scraped off the burnt bits of mashed human skull and hair sticking to the bottom from her previous traditional dish, and then promptly proceeded to fetch a pail of hot sticky pig blood and pour it inside the cauldron, add a generous dollop of white pig fat, and cackle and hiss over her double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble. Now where’s that recipe gone. Ah here we go.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,
— For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches' mummy;
maw and gulf Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg'd i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our caldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

No wonder they joke about English cooking. That cackling old devil woman could probably teach old Mother Hubbard a thing or two. And here I was living all these years in comfortable ignorance, thinking pudding was a type of English dessert, light and fluffy and made with milk, sugar and eggs. How do they eat such stuff? Just screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not go hungry.

These brits are crazy. *Taps side of head*

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

They've all gone to look for America...


Kathy, I’m lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the new jersey turnpike
They’ve all gone to look for America

Yesterday one of my close friends just left for the states. I didn't go to the airport to see him off. I suppose it just seemed so commonplace now, what with everyone 'doing my MS in the US'. I've got now 6 of my close friends happily slogging away in the States. With the others scattered across Hyderabad and Bangalore and the paltry few in Madras (down to two now, one of whom probably will be leaving to the states on work in a few months) working late nights, I don't recall the last time I've had actual human contact with any of them. I probably know every line on the faces of their yahoo avatars tho (Hey, nice tee! When did you change your shirt?)

But the funny thing was when and how it actually hit me that this guy who I've grown quite fond of and so close to in the past few months is leaving, putting miles and miles of vast blue sea between us. It happened when I woke up the next morning and stopped halfway thru my message and had to erase his number from my mobile phonebook. When do you say your goodbyes? In the airport? At your last get-together? Over your last phonecall? I think they should turn erasing numbers from your phonebook into a symbolic rite. You know, like dropping the first fistful of dirt over the coffin. It doesn't really sink in till you see those unsettling words surface on that wretched device. What do you call that moment? That actual moment in time when you stop and your mind quickly shifts into reverse and plays back all the memories, all the scenes of the last eventful days, complete with emotional baggage? It's the very opposite of the 'Aha' moment, a kind of wind getting sucked out of you as opposed to running thru the streets stark naked shouting Eureka!

Oh well, the situation isn't that dire I suppose. There is *sneers* tech-no-logy. *tries to inject as much venom as Times New Roman Font Size 10 will allow* But jokes aside, it really is infinitely easier to keep in touch with these days. Thanks to tech-no-logy. It's been hardly two years and I think I've forgotten how to be happy with 1MB of email storage. Ah but lets start at the very beginning... I remember in the 8th when I was one of the very few people who had a computer and I think the only one in the entire school to have a modem. Forget that it was an ancient smoke-signal-sending relic cleverly crafted by VSNL to look state of the art with lots of flashy LEDs that didn't do a damn thing but looked quite spiffy, like something a 1960s movie would take to be their idea of a 21st century computer. Also disregard the fact that it was in fact a measly 14.4kbps that would take hours to connect, staying connected for only a few seconds at a time and in those elusive few seconds make you want to manually push out the 0s and 1s over the dodgy telephone line. Forget that. The thing is, we were actually around to see it happen and we remember a time before the Internet. Heck, I even remember pagers and pre-historic motorolla phones that had all the sleek elegance of a brick tearing away one pocket seam at a time.

Do you remember what a pre-Internet era school assignment used to mean? It meant physically hauling your ass into the nearest mode of transportation and stepping into some dusty bat-filled archeological site called a library, complete with dusty bat-filled librarian. I remember going on this great coming-of-age-ritual when I was twelve years old. There I stood, in the savannahs, armed with only a rusty old spear and staring eye-to-eye with one famished jungle-cat… Oops, wrong story. There I stood in that old dusty mausoleum, armed with only a pen and 180pages ruled notebook with a picture of Shah Rukh Khan on the cover, staring eye-to-eye with a crusty old relic, replete with tight hair bun, huge black retro frames four decades out of fashion, big billowy flowery ruffled shirt tucked into a chest high ‘midi’ skirt and culminating in four inches of pruned weathery old-maid-skin before ending in socks-covered feet carefully tucked into sandals.

‘What do you want then Eh?! Can’t you read! SILENCE!!’

The cry of the shrill banshee. It was a ritual every school girl went through at least once in her life. It built character. Sigh, those were the days. And now look!

‘Where’s your report?!’
‘Give us a second, luv, haven’t had the chance to google it yet’

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned 180pages ruled and Reynolds pen? I dread the day I’ll see them nestling comfortably in some forgotten museum: their final resting place, next to one dusty bat-filled banshee. Relics of a bygone era. This was the stuff my childhood memories were made of.

It’s not all been bad tho. Pre-internet meant wallowing in a pool of ignorance in those Doordarshan filled days. Every Sunday you went in your white ambassador to the beach, happily scorffed down beach soondal without having to worry about your five year old nephew start off again in his nasal tone about how he read on MSN Health that soondal contains 15.7grams of carbohydrates and then come home in time to watch Olium Olium and all the women would speak about that beautiful parrot green saree newsreader Fatima was wearing and all the men spoke about government and politics and propaganda and we just ran around in circles till the cartoons started. Now with everyone connected, knowledge really is power.
Whether its keeping track of the latest news events as they unfold across the globe, or downloading that fab new sound from that UK garage band or keeping tabs on Who Paris Hilton is dating now, it’s amazing how much has changed and how quickly. Having spend the last dregs of childhood growing up in such changing times, it only seems natural that you would turn to that machine hooked up in its medusa of wires for some human contact or pick up the nearest radiation emitting device to holler out a ‘Hi, how’re you doing?’

It’s not bad, just a bit weird that’s all. Still, if I hadn’t the Internet, would I be blogging? I don’t think so; I was never that keen on keeping a journal. A blog on the other hand in like your own republic of Lavanya. You make up the news, you provide the commentary, you initiate debate and dialogue. You keep tabs on people living thousands of miles away. You know what you friend in Indiana thinks about the Israel-Lebanon crisis unfolding as we speak or how your friend in Washington completely botched up his first disastrous attempt at cooking. Surely it’s not a bad thing that we have recreated the experience of sitting around a table in someone’s basement smoking pot and talking about like, whatever man, dude, that’s deep!

So what if you’re not constantly ‘constantly’ in touch thru sms (5am broadcast messages: Hey, anyone up and studying at this hour? 5:01am - 17 replies: Yeah, what do you think?!) and cell phones that have become an additional growth on your hip. (I suffered phantom pains when my last phone was amputated. My fingers still ache for the touch of those familiar grooves I know and love). Between audio and video net conferencing and VOIP phones and orkut scraps and Gmail talk and offliners left on yahoo… I think we’re doing pretty alright.

Phonebook Contact Deleted.

Amen.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Exxxxxcellent.


Yes, I know *hangs head in shame* My last real post was more than a month ago. Fear not, the phoenix shall rise again! I have resolved to blog every day for this entire month. Just not right now... am a tad busy trying to look extremely busy so people will leave me alone.
In other news, the Simpsons Personality Test thinks that I am Mr Burns. I will be remembered for the exploitation of the masses. Ok, so I'm evil. What good is money if it can't inspire terror in your fellow man?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm ok.


First off, for everyone who cared to call/mail/sms/do all three, I'm ok! Got caught in those five glorious, rain-soaked, runways-flooded-all-flights-diverted-days but made it out before the riots and bomb blasts.

I woke up one troubled, demented morning and watched the news, blurry-eyed and disbelieving as images washed over me - rivers of blood being washed away from railway platforms, mangled bodies removed from mangled metal, confused bloodied Mumbaikers walking in a haze looking for a relative, a hospital, a missing arm. A pinprick of relief that I escaped and then flooded by guilt at happiness in a time of sadness. A cold, surreal numbness as the news ticker-scrolling at the bottom of the screen told me Syd Barrett just died. A sense of infinite loss? Confusion? Relief? Anger? When I place my coffee mug on the table and turn off the tv and allow myself to feel all these things, I will tell you.

For now, I have become comfortably numb.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Review Central - the beginning.

Back in 2003, I put up a battalion of reviews on another site, among them two movie reviews and one of my college. Since I have a blog now, I thought I might as well migrate them here. Of course, the movie reviews (both for Tamil movies) especially invited some pretty strong comments. I have no desire to relive that sort of back and forth bickering. For one, a review of a movie falls is bound to be to some degree subjective. For another, I don't need to justify my right to have an opinion. There is nothing wrong with opening up a meaningful debate, but with some individuals, the 'discussion' tends to degenerate into name-calling. Let's just agree to disagree. To-ma-to, To-mah-to.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Review central - Anna university

I am a former student (Computer Sc) of College of Engineering, Guindy - one of the constituent colleges of Anna University. So what's so great (or not) about this college? Let's take it one by one...

THE FACULTY The faculty will range from the absolute morons to exceptional geniuses. In your four years you will come across some wonderful professors many of whom will change your life forever. This is not an exaggeration! They will teach you to think outside the box, to apply what you have learnt, they will help you if you want to know some more about a subject AND even if you are interested in something that is non-academical, your professors will give you whole-hearted support. By the end of the semester, you would have put these people up on a pedestal and with good reason too! If you are generally reticent and don’t interact a lot with your classmates or your faculty, you will anyway put these profs on a pedestal because of their teaching. And if you are more active in class and you try to interact more with the faculty they will become a life-long friend, guiding light and a mentor.

That’s one side of the coin. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the lowest of the low, the scum that feeds on the bottom of a pond, the most stupid lackadaisical moronic nitwits you will ever meet in your entire life. You will never believe that profs as bad as this are allowed to teach. They will not turn up for classes, they will grade you based on your handwriting or on your gender. Sometimes you can get a distinction just becuz you are a girl and sometimes you can fail becuz of that one reason. I will not say that this effects your grade becuz it doesn’t.... it is simply your whole grade! Watch out for these ppl, you will nvr learn anything under them, you have to learn by yourself and not get discouraged if your efforts are not gettin proper recognition. You may be the topper in your class and know more about the suject that anyone else, but you will still get a lower grade than half of the class (who won’t know even 0.01 of what you know)

To summarize, it’s just a gamble, you will see the worst of the worst and the best of the best. How your college experience will be depends a lot on the profs you get and the profs you get will be like playing russian roulette - it’s all abt your luck. No matter whom you get, make it your point to get it your best shot. At least you will learn something even if your grades are not good and if you have really been trying hard and doing well, they will find it hard to give you a lower grade than ’average’. In the end, the experience of being under good profs (even if you find yourself under only one good prof) are more that enuff to counterbalance being under a bad prof a hundred timea over. They are THAT good!

A word of caution, don’t expect to be spoon-fed they will treat you like a colleague and be quite informal with you, you have to make the best of it. That will not be a problem because even if you are a laid-back person, just being under these profs will motiveate you to think laterally and come up with innovative ways of solving the probs.

THE FACILITIES
The facilities are great. The college will not spare any expense in that issue. You will be in contact with state-of-the-art stuff. Sometimes, when you go to another department for a lab session, you will find that they will give you the worst stuff. Equipments that don’t work or are faulty. This is to be expected. You will definitely find outdated, faulty equipment but in general, the facilities are very good.

THE STUDENTS
No matter what ppl say about quotas and reservations, the students are top class. Definitely, there are ppl who have got in when their marks are not up to the standard. But out of a class of 50, 30 will be merit students and the remaining will be quota cases. I will tell you this, out of those 30, 10 will be geniuses in the true sense of the word. The kind of people that are 1 in a thousand. I mean that. The cream of Anna are the cream of the country. They are exceptional people and just rubbing shoulders with them is enough to motivate you. These 30 students will be top class - really brilliant , hard-working and dedicated. Because of them, regardless of how you got in, you will find yourself pushing harder. A very competitive environment, you will learn to give it your best becuz if you give it anything less that all you’ve got, you cannot survive in this college. It is about learning to swim or drowning.

One small word of advice, generally the students are not very helpful, you have to go out and get what you want. Some students will be willing to help you with your academics and other probs but in general, it’s very competitive and everyone is watching his/her own back.

THE ADMINISTRATION
I MUST say a word on this.Be very careful of the bureaucracy. It is fat, sluggish and collapsing under it’s own weight. No one will help you out. They are not bothered about the students at all. They want to do the barest minimum that is expected of them. Now of course, it not completely an incompetent, tottering bureaucratic system, after all they are very strict about ragging, so to some extent your interests are a priority. But that’s where the buck stops. If you find something that can be improved or you want to make a difference and try and help the students or college in some way, be prepared to wade through a lot of red tape and eventually confronted with a brick wall. The ppl ’in charge’ only want to find ways of making the college seem like heaven while putting in minimum effort. The guys who run the place are just not bothered about students. Period. End of Story.

I think I have said enough to give you a fair understanding on this college. On a final note, Anna University really is an excellent place to learn, academically you can reach your peak. You can really realize your potential if you so wish. They are very interested in getting students to engage in real-world applications and get a hands-on experience so don’t expect to be confined to books. You will find a whole world of opportunities to test and fine-tune your skills - academic or otherwise. All in all, AU does warrant its praise.

Review Central - Boys (uncut, uncensored remarks!)

’’When the truth was depicted without pretense, some scenes were not acceptable to some and are hence removed’’

This is the gist of what director Shankar wrote alongside a big ad claiming MUST-WATCH-FOR-THE-WHOLE-FAMILY for his latest venture.

Mr. Shankar’s statement is an insult to the collective intelligence of his audience. However hard it may be for a person of such bloated ego as Mr.Shankar’s to swallow, we do not shy away from ’truthful’ scenes; We shun from offensive scenes.

Offensive adj utterly unpleasant or distasteful to the sense or sensibilities.

And now, what I found offensive in the film AND how inspite of my disbelief that there could exist something even MORE offensive than this shabby, crude, illogical farcical attempt at something masquerading as a film, the director’s ’statement’ has managed to make even the most mild mannered film-goer see red.

Ladies and Gentlemen, without further delay... I give you... BOYS, the review!

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? That is is vile? No, I believe that word has been used to describe the film already a 100 times. Disgusting? No no, that single word has summed up this mockery of the cinematic experience about a 1000 times already. Putrid? Insensitive? Servile? Sordid? Squalid? Despicable? Rancid? No no, they have all been used (with good reason) by reviewers before me...

Ok, how about this? This movie is an absolute FARCE.

Farce noun An insincere, contemptible, or impertiment imitation of something worthwhile.

Why the strong sentiments you ask? Where shall I start..... At the beginning would be a good place!

Our opening scene shows 5 boys and their ’normal’ outlook and approach to life and love. One boy’s sole aim in life is to catch glimpses, whenever he can, of women’s breasts... mothers, sisters.. in fact, middle-aged women seem to form the crux of his repertoire. How touching, How wholesome, How heart-rending his attitude is. Another prowls the streets of Madras with his fly open. When a girl laughs at him, he hounds her with questions as to the cause of her mirth and in reply to her subtle ’’YOUR FLY IS OPEN!!’’ he laughs and then replies that he intentionally did that because otherwise such a pretty girl wouldn’t have noticed him. *sigh* Absolute poetry. Warms the cockles of my heart. How true and unpretentious Mr.Shakar has been in the depiction of these 5 normal boys with their normal behaviour. Thank you ever so much Mr.Shankar for reconnecting me with my childhood memories, when I was truthful and unpretentious and prowled the streets of Madras like a sex-crazed fiend.

But wait, we must not begin to wallow in nostalgia just yet! There are miles and miles of film-reel to review before I sleep.

After such an excellent introduction to our friends the audience must now accompany them on their journey (As if we care, I would have applauded had they jumped off a cliff and died then and there) As is essential in any boy’s transition from boyhood to manhood, on hearing that the parents of our protagonist, Munna, will leave town, his upright and respectable friends come over to his house under the pretense of studying and decide to call a prostitute.

Now, I will be fair. Such a situation is not new to a regular movie-goer, however far (or near as Mr.Shankar claims) it may be from what is universally accepted as a truthful and unpretentious depiction of a normal boy’s life. I have watched far worse in Austin Powers. A claim made by some people that we are hypocrites for shunning Boys while we do not blink an eyelid while watching English films, fails to take into consideration one vital point.

In most English films (for there are quite a few English films that try and fail miserably to make light of sexual situations) Sex is depicted either in a humourous or a sensuous vein. In the former case, the actual scene would be largely elevated to its hilarious heights by some excellent acting. Case in point: American Pie scene where the boy’s father tries to discuss sex with his son. Or, if the acting is not the highlight of the scene, no doubt, a humourous mood is induced with the right music/setting/props in the background.

Sadly, in Boys, both these features are missing. The prostitute scene thus falls flat. There are genuinely funny moments when a certain member of the troupe lacking the grit to actually perform the act but still aware of the fact that his friends are listening with their ears pressed to the door, violently shakes the bed to lead them to believe he is ’’now a man’’. Unfortunately, the prostitute was too slutty and the music too sombre to really uplift the scene to the side-splittingly-funny entertainment that could have been achieved. Laughing in my seat? More like casting furtive uncomfortable glances at the row after row of grandparents and children of my extended family who had to endure 3 hours of this torture.

And so the movie ran on... and on... and on... Vivek, for all his idiocy, has carved a place for himself as a comedian and makes his appearance in this film too. However, one usually welcomes his appearance and anticipates his mindless albeit humorous jokes with glee. But in Boys his jokes are virtually non-existent and instead we are subjected to speech after boring speech on the cause for the decay of our society, cries of our fast-growing youth and their search for answers and the head-in-sand attitude of the elder generation toward their children’s questions and thoughts of sex, love and desire.

No doubt, there was a point in all this ambling rigmarole - the truthful and unpretentious fact (No sarcasm intended!) that at such an age feelings of love and lust are only natural. However what could have been an enlightening and paradigm step in the right direction as regards Indian attitudes or even Indian cinema was bogged down by scripts of self-righteous, patronizing monologues. Had it been executed better, it would no doubt have opened the eyes of the parents in the film as well as the audience and instead of the director having to vehemently (and vainly) declaring his film as truthful and unpretentious, it would have been realized by the viewer himself. But alas, in true filmi style, the director tries to manipulate the audience’s feelings with long condescending speeches, which needless to say, make no impression on the stick-in-the-mud parents.

And so it ran on... and on... and on... the story is illogical and unimportant. The execution of this dastardly script even more so. In a nutshell, Munna, our hero falls in love, marries the heroine, tries to prove to his parents that it is possible to be victorious in love AND life! (Gee, what an original idea. No doubt, the very foundations of our film industry will shake with the weight of this truly original and never before explored idea!) They come across many hardships before finally making it big as musicians. Of course, this being a Tamil film (truthful and unpretentious, I must add!) I will not raise my eyebrow at the ridiculously simple manner in which they with no prior music experience or background land huge contracts with Sony and go on to sweep the MTV music awards. At the climax, our hero and heroine part ways based on a misunderstanding but as expected, get back together and all’s well that ends well.

At the roll of the credits I could find only one word to best describe this movie. It was in fact the one word I heard my younger cousins constantly exclaiming loudly all through the movie..... CHEEEEEEEEEE!

Review central - Virumaandi

I watched this movie at the preview held the day before the release. Even before I got into the theatre, there were drums and dancing and shouting happening outside. I wondered if the movie would live up to its hype. It did.

Virumaandi is a good film , it’s not exceptional, but it’s not bad either. The story starts with documentary-type footage. A female reporter played by Angela Kathamuthu (Rohini) and her cameraman are interviewing prisoners and prison officials. Their stance is a solid one against capital punishment and their aim, to enough footage for a documentary elucidating their viewpoint.

They interview two prisoners, Kotthalathevar (Pasupathy) and Virumaandi (Kamalhaasan). Similar to “Courage under fire” the first half of the movie delivers the story of Virumaandi and the village of Chinnakkolarpatti, Theni District. First Kotthalathevar gives his version of the truth, painting our hero in an unfavourable light as an angry and impulsive youth who knows no fear and is incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong.

Virumaandi is interviewed next, after some coaxing, telling his own version of the truth. Just as he finishes, riots break out in the prison and the 1.5 hours that follow after the intermission are nothing short of action packed entertainment.

I watched this movie without high expectations; in fact, I was bracing myself for another half-baked attempt. Like Anbe Sivam and Hey Ram, there are numerous sub-plots (sub-ideas are a better word) which are not fully developed. However, unlike its predecessors, the whole is larger than the sum of its parts in this case. Simply put, although Virumaandi does venture into other elements and sub-plots that are neither central to the general theme and idea of this movie nor played out to its completion, the fundamental part of the movie remains untouched and wholly gratifying to the viewer.

The movie gives us an insightful perception of the life in the village. Innocence mingles with primitive brutality in this embodiment of rural Tamil Nadu. The everyday activity of these villagers seem horrifying to the educated movie-goer. But at the same time, in spite of the strangeness of their emotions they are nonetheless understood.

The villagers, shrouded in sheaths of animalistic emotions and violence are nevertheless made more human by their primitive portrayal of the very basic emotions of love, anger, hate and passion that distinguish us from animals. The love between Annalakshmi (Abhirami) and Virumaandi is fragile and beautiful even if the lovers themselves are not.

The love-making scenes, seeming at first excessive and unreal for depicting a pure love between two villagers, on retrospection seems consistent with the character of Annalakshmi, a passionate and valiant woman.

The actors have all done an excellent job. Their portrayal of the characters is moving and truthful. The movie tastefully depicts rural life without condescendence. Violence is seen as a vital part of the film instead of just extra-padding to make this an ‘action film’. The love scenes, although between two hardened individuals, seem innocent and pure. And finally, the social message it conveys is understood and felt without seeming manipulative or over-bearing.

The ambiguous ending may get mixed reactions due to the film’s refusal to take the easy way out by satisfying the viewer with a definite stance on a controversial topic. It leads the viewer to make his own deductions and is all the more richer by it.

The only fly in the ointment for this impressive film is the graphics (which seem unreal and over-the-top especially during the ending) and inclusion of some ideas that are not fully realized within the 3 hour span – like the fight over water a basic and elusive necessity, capital punishment, the lassitude and corruption of our legal and justice system.

But that is a minor distraction and on the whole this film is a very good accomplishment; taking us on a journey of innocence, love, hate and passion set against the captivating and strangely innocent backdrop of Chinnakkolarpatti, the heart and soul of the Tamilian experience.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Of weekend getaways and government colleges


Back from a weekend trip to Bangalore. No, not business... I went to watch 3 films.

Sounds excessive doesn't it? Well, yes and no. Da Vinci Code is banned in Tamil Nadu (hurts religious sentiments apparently) and also most 'new' releases hit the theatres oh about seven years after it's actual release in the rest of the world. Ah anyone who lives in this glorified village will tell you, besides Satyam there aren't many cinema's playing English movies. And the movies themselves... well, any given day at Satyam Cineplex there would be about 10 movies playing. 5-6 Tamil, the rest Hindi and maybe two English movies of which one is an obscure animated flick that released in the last century. The sole English movie would play every Wednesday at 10pm (to add salt to wounds, I am banned from watching night shows. My father still thinks he is living in 17th century Kumakonam) and after a week it gets pulled.

Now why so? For starters, apparently English movies jus don't pack theatres like a Tamil flick does. I have seen packed theatres and been forced to hear 'Sorry, no tickets, Housefull!' a little too many times for my liking and for many an English flick. But I suppose my opinion doesn't count. As long as we are forced to rely on Satyam for our daily fix of English films, we play by their rules. V for Vendetta incidentally never released in Madras. Never. I waited three months for it before I finally flew to Hyderabad to watch it. Things like this make me want to stand outside their ticket counters distributing pirated DVDs of all the latest films. Public service and all you know. Very generous-like, for the upliftment of society and all that.

So anyway, I watched three movies this weekend - The Omen, X Men 3, and the Da Vinci Code (none of these were playing in Madras) and they were crap, decent and good respectively. First off, the Omen. I wanted to rip the theatre screen. The original was never really a pinnacle of cinematic achievement but at least it was entertaining! This one plods along, tries to manipulate the audience into sympathizing with the characters - yes, please show me another extreme close up of Julia Stiles' tear-marked face so I can pontificate about how much this woman deserves an Oscar for her performance as I gaze up at her 3 feet wide nostrils on the screen. But wait, this isn't a deep, profound movie; it never claimed to be anything but a horror remake (released 'cleverly' on 6/6/6), so it's not really fair for me to expect depth and poignancy.
Right. Well, even so... apparently, the director's idea of horror is to have painfully long sequences (preferably, silent and in a room that’s startlingly white) where the characters move as comatose sea mollusks and then BAM, loud noises and a flurry of unrelated images – blood dripping from slit wrists, shot of sledge hammer, close up of boy’s evil fang-filled grin – shown in 3 seconds. That’s what it takes to make a horror flick. Oh yes, if you haven’t gleamed it already from my completely objective review of the film, I hate it I hate it I hate it!

X Men 3. Decent fare, decent length, decent action-filled sequences, decently entertaining. Enough said.

The Da Vinci Code. Somehow, even before I have begun to type a single word about this movie, I have a feeling that anything I have to say will probably seem redundant. Nevertheless, this is my blog and I am king and I will prattle on till the cows come home, so there! (Whoooooo’s your daddy?! Who’s your daddy’s daddy!)

Right. Now that I’ve got that outta my system… DVC was pretty good. It’s slow, and plods along unlike the book (not that the book was fabulously well-written, although it was ‘gripping’) but having said that, the movie is entertaining. There were some nice touches, and although over-long, it was overall an enjoyable movie. I really can’t fathom what provoked such scathing reviews of it upon its release! I’ve seen far worse films.

Which brings us to the second thing. Why is it banned? The Indian government already ruled that the movie will only play with disclaimers both at the start and end of the movie, claiming that it is completely and utterly a piece of fiction. So why ban it? Personally, I don’t quite fancy this new censor-happy wave that’s sweeping the country. From blanket bans on cellphones to dress codes to prohibitions on women and men talking to each other on campus (This is an institution of learning! How dare you defile it with your immoral activity that is so against our tradition!?) and now to movies. If anything, I think it’s high time the censors did away with their A, U and U/A rating and came up with something a little more informative. Like age based ratings (PG, PG-13, 15, 18) and possibly a reason why it warrants the rating – PG (sexual references), PG (mild language), PG (Violence), PG (Mature themes)… you get the drift.
But since we haven’t that option, to ban or not to ban, that is the question. I’d say ban it in India… not because it’s controversial, not because it’s insensitive, not because it’s blasphemy, but purely because we have a penchant for banning outright anything and everything that might possibly ruffle a few feathers, no matter how accurate it really is. Anyone remember Rang De Basanti and how some ppl wanted it banned? Specifically how people cried hoarse because revealing the truth about MIGs was deemed unpatriotic? Anyone remember Gaddar? Fire? Water? Practically every movie that Deepa Mehta tried to make? Sexually perverse. Unpatriotic. Insensitive to religious sentiment. Misleading/contorts the truth. How can I ban thee? Let me count the ways.

Sidenote: Banning movies that are ‘sexually deviant’ (read: about homosexuals) is something I still can’t understand. Forget about the milk of human compassion and tolerance and whatnot from the land of the Kama Sutra and its 862352 sexual positions. Last week I read a news report about a woman who married a snake, because it appeared in her dream and said it was in love with her. So she breaks off with the man she is about to marry one day before the marriage and weds the snake instead, the ceremony presided over by the village panchayat no less. Apparently, it was the snake lord’s wish and we mortals must do his bidding. Since he didn’t fancy much sitting around the wedding pyre, they had to make do with a clay model instead. The week before that, a 16 year old girl married a stray dog. These are by no means isolated incidents; they go on in many remote villages in India. Completely acceptable and sanctioned by the panchayat – a government of the village, approved by the state. It’s just the man-on-man or the woman-on-woman action that’s especially perverse.

But I digress. The reason why I grudgingly accept the ban is because to not ban the movie is blatant discrimination against a minority. When a few disparaging remarks about India renders a movie unpatriotic and thus banned, when movies that depict communal violence are deemed insensitive and thus banned, when a few anti-hindu comments renders the movie inconsiderate to religious sentiment, then why must the DVC, which shatters the very cornerstone of Christian belief be let off with a little slap on the wrist? Take two disclaimers and see me in the morning. No, if one must be fair… however illogical, however stupid, however unfair, this step sadly had to be taken. Having said that, come ON, do you really think that people who watch this movie which stars evil albinos and Harvard educated symbologists and the descendant of Christ (who looks like a hot French woman. Of course, she must look like a hot French woman! Who cares that Jesus was actually from the Middle East and that the blond hair and blue eyes were penciled in so that Europeans could identify with the Lord our savior more. We must have a hot French woman! Where’s Angelina Jolie?! She’s half French isn’t she?) will be so compelled by this wholly believable and irrefutable evidence that they will turn disbelievers? If the Church’s faith in its followers is so shaky, I think the problem lies deeper than the DVC.
So there you have it, a movie weekend at Bangalore. Now that the rant part of the blog is over, a pretty miraculous thing happened this Monday. I had gone to college to get my transcripts. Normally, this is the procedure for getting any official work done at our coll

1. Get some arbitrary form and fill in relevant details – name, batch, inseam length…
2. Get a DD in someone’s name.
3. Submit DD and form to some random office
4. Realize that you need a signature from 2 souls before doing this
5. Get signature. Realize that this took 6 days.
6. Go back and submit form with DD
7. Realize that you need a covering letter.
8. Submit all documents.
9. NOW you are finally ready to receive the actual form that you will be needing
10. Rinse and Repeat.

So imagine my surprise when this Monday I went there with a million transcripts to be verified, sealed and signed and it only took one morning. I suppose it’s because coll had just started and the Controller’s office was fully staffed but they hadn’t too many pressing jobs. So it was good that I had gone there armed with my battalion of forms, DDs, letters, envelopes and various other paraphernalia and they sat me done and started right off verifying each document and then stamping and sealing and signing. Very VERY impressive.

So with all that done, all that remains of my B school aping journey is the essays and recommendations – the most taxing part, according to some ppl. Well, I do have some time before that at any rate seeing how I’ve taken the tests and gotten the transcripts ready already. Gives me about a month to spend in Bombay on some work I’d been meaning to do. And after that, another weekend in Bangalore. On business? No.

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s…

Thursday, June 8, 2006

An idea of bliss


We live in a cold country, or perhaps it is just the season. I am lying on a thick white rug in front of the fireplace, safe from the nippy air in my cocoon of warmth. In an armchair by the fireplace, He sits. There is a book on his lap.

Words flow out, dark and glittering, from the old bottle and circle and swirl in my ear while I savor the taste, the richness, the body and let the gentle fumes rise and intoxicate my senses. He has a clipped, crisp accent muted by the deep resonance of his voice and the slow pacing of his words. Whimsical phrases, elegant constructions, delightful alliterations, brisk sharp dialogues come tumbling out in crystal clear intonations. He slows down with the story, his full, luscious lips perfectly shaping the words, sensually caressing them before letting them go out into the air where they drift down to where I am. His voice rises and drops with the words, at times playing catch up to the wild uncontrollable beasts, at times easing away and slowing down and waiting for them to come back to him. There are dark undertones to the story. He knows this. His eyes narrow ever so slightly, his voice drops, my heart paces. A deafening silence is stretched out for an eternity. Then. An explosion of words, sounds, consonants! A twist in the tale, his eyes shine, his lips curve up by the faintest of fractions, his pristine white teeth are barred, the words flow out faster than I can catch them, snippets of dialogues and guilty imagery burst into the atmosphere, briefly jostle for space and then suddenly die, leaving a void, a vacuum, a negative of noise, an afterimage of an afterimage. It’s not over yet, there is more, his breathing slows, his voice drops to a whisper again. The words are gently nudged, shy and naked, into the outside air…

And I… I lie on the rug clothed only in my skin and I listen.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Four birthdays and an exam

Well, now THAT was an eventful week!

Weekend especially, marvelous time. Last Saturday was my birthday and the Friday before was one of my closest friend's so we did the decent thing and he treated the whole jingbang of friends to lunch and I to dinner. The weather gods being particularly benevolent that day smiled upon me and so the time between, we spent at the beach.

Ah, Bessie Beach… It has been so so long since I last went down there. The sight of the sea, that vast expanse of blue for all the eye can see, is one of the most reassuring sights in the world. At least for me, it'll always have strong associations with the concept of home.

But I get ahead of myself. It started on Friday night. Dad being away in Australia, Mom and bro decided that we’d celebrate my 22nd over candlelight dinner and whatnot at the Taj, just the three of us, and then usher in the special day with cake and gifts and celebrations at midnight. I was getting ready to leave and multitasking as I usually do – fidgeting with the music system with one hand, picking out the clothes with the other and then having no more spare arms, just staring into the monitor. One of my very close friends came online and we were chattin a bit. I never thought I was a superstitious person by disposition; I only realized how much I set store by sentiment and stuff while chattin with him and reminiscing my 20th birthday celebs a couple of years ago.

A little heads up. I got to know this amazing set of friends only in my final year at college, so my 20th, which fell in the summer hols before my final year commenced, was ushered in by yours truly and around 15 college friends (all girls) and the only guy in college I was remotely close to - the chap I was chatting with. The only thing I remember about that day was lunch – my treat at the Meridien – and my poor friend who was kidnapped (or so he claims!) and unceremoniously dumped into the boot of my SUV. To add salt to wounds, it being a new car hadn’t got all the ‘accessories’ in yet (read: the boot was a singularly unappealing place to spend 40 minutes of your life being escorted over the world-reknown madras potholes)

Ah but lunch itself was a magnificent affair. Well, what can you expect when 15 good friends get together at a five star hotel and throw decorum and etiquette and whatnot to the wind? Besides, good food and the company of close friends are really all that make a perfect day.

It was only when thinking back that I realized how much I was wishing that this day would go off just as well. Ever since I was ten I’ve believed that how your birthday unfolds is an indication of how the rest of the year will turn out. I thought I had left my silly sentiment behind but apparently not!

So this marvelous chap, watching me get all misty-eyed (well, as misty-eyed as one can get over yahoo I suppose) just calls me up and we have a nice long talk and… after a year, an apology! Truth was, toward the end of last year we had a sort of falling off. Nothing dramatic I suppose, but a growing resentment that finally just created a gap too wide to be bridged. Of course, time does heal all wounds and ultimately, it’s foolish to hold on to the anger and hurt instead of forgetting the insignificant little tiffs and remembering the good times. I had you see, forgotten all about this… or at any rate, it’d been like such a long time ago, I really didn’t consider it significant enough to commit to memory. So I was quite surprised when he starts off in his trademark sheepish, apologetic, floppish, meandering-sort of way about the past and fights and forgiveness and whatnot. And then he tells me since I felt that way about birthdays being a sort of premonition about the coming year, he’d just wanted to start it off on the right foot, clean slate and all that! Wholly unexpected but very, very sweet and such a touching gesture.

Ah then, the dinner itself was nice… pleasant, normal-like, except for the fact that dad’s missing but then at midnight my dad calls (4 30am Australian time! He’d actually set his alarm so he’d wish me) so really it was quite nice in all, with incessant calls from all my friends for the next hour or so.

Saturday was pretty fantastic. Thin, wispy clouds… Thick, bulbous white ones (like breasts full of milk! Lol) the caress of a wayward breeze… the ghost of a sun… shy, hesitant drops of rain and then none altogether… all in all a perfect day. You wouldn’t think it was a midsummer Madras day. Weather really does make all the difference and a sleepy, laidback Saturday is one of the best reasons to be alive.

So there we were, fifteen of us and among us some college mates I hadn’t seen in over a year, squeezing ourselves into an already over-crowded restaurant. There’s something very comforting about sitting amidst a gaggle of cacophonic, over-excited college friends. This is me in my element: Catching snippets of garbled conversations floating overhead, sitting between two screaming girls talking about a bargain buy, catching up with friends you’ve not seen for a year and being amazed at how much has changed and yet how little they have changed. Ah days like this, it’s good to be me.

The rest of the day was pretty much the same thing. After turning the restaurant upside-down and literally being pushed out by the scruff of our necks, a lot of us meandered down to Bessie Beach and just lazed about. Ah simple pleasures… tracing little random patterns on the sand while talking nonsense with friends, walking along the shore with a close friend and the strong, salty breeze hitting your face, digging your fingers into the clear white sand (yes there are places with clean, white sand at BB… at least I sincerely hope so) while laughing at some mindless joke your friends cracked. The surprising thing was, this was my first time to the beach in some 6 months. I am a beach person, but it’s really no fun going there all by yourself.
Dinner was my treat, the ‘second’ birthday of the weekend (Actually there was a third, the same day as mine so had a bit of a split of friends between this and that but there weren’t many overlaps to begin with so that was quick and easy!) and it was at, no surprises there, the Meridien. A marvelous time, especially since three of my school mates joined us. Fashionably late as always, we trickled in one by one over an hour and a half. So there we were finally, girls all in our glittery finest and boys all groomed and posh-looking – a far cry from the shenanigans on the beach just a few hours ago.

The best part though was how effortlessly a perfect evening fell into place. Even though some of my friends were meeting each other for the first time, there was no stickiness, no pregnant pauses, just laughter and free-flowing conversation like little glittering gems that hover over the evening and linger like sparkly stardust after all the guests have gone. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. So finally, yes, I suppose 22 is going to be a great year after all!
Between that and today, there was a play (that my friend starred in and that was incredibly hilarious) another birthday (My father’s this time. Quiet family affair with dinner and a cake afterwards) and an exam (TOEFL – need it for B school). Unfortunately the birthday and the exam fell on the same day, Friday in fact so we had to cancel the movie plan and just head straight to dinner.

First, the exam. My TOEFL exam was hilarious to say the least, for the fumble ups that I made and that the other test-takers made in the speaking section. For the uninitiated, the new TOEFL iBT has a speaking section where you’re given a question and about 15 seconds to prepare for it and 45 seconds to answer. The fun part is that all this inspired speech is just off the cuff! Now imagine if someone asks you ‘Think of a conflict in your life that you have faced and what you did in the end. Give specific examples to support your answer’ (no, that’s not the actual question; I can’t reveal the actual questions since I’ve signed the confidentiality agreement) and gives you all of fifteen seconds to think up of an insightful, profound reply. It’d probably go something like this

Fifteen. Fourteen. Thirteen.

Ok, right, conflict… um, lets see… There was that time… oh no that turned out badly..

Nine. Eight.

Oh shit, losing time! Um.. ok ok! Got it, what about that time? Oh crap no, that’s not really a conflict…

Four.Three.

Oh bloody hell! Damn! Ok ok.. well, there’s! Argh, no there isn’t… Um.. oh shit… uh..

Ding! You may now speak

Well, one conflict I had… you see, have… Um, webster’s dictionary defines ‘conflict’ as… Uh, so basically what happened was… Well, that is to say… Uh, the moral of the story is…

You have finished your 45 seconds. The next question…

Oh bugger, bugger, bugger and sod it!

So this whole song and dance routine continues for six questions. Yours truly should have prepared for the speaking section at least, knowing her affinity to turn into a verbally incontinent Hugh-Grant type when the stopwatch is ticking. Unfortunately, cocky arrogant snob that she is decides her English is probably too posh for the queen so refuses to prepare for a bloody English test and balls to anyone who tries to grade her anything less than the highest percentage. Besides, who the bloody hell thought of this whole speaking section nonsense in the first place anyway?! Test of English my arse, let’s see you try and put a few Americans on the hot seat, speaking under pressure as it were, with the clock tic-tocking and all that! I dare say I’d be much more eloquent than THAT. Sigh. Sour grapes and all that… Still, it was funny. And funnier still when the chap next to me kind of lost it and cursed under his breath (into the mic too!) and then remembered what he’d just done. Ah, there’s hope for me yet.

Fuck-ups notwithstanding, I was pretty much over the moon to be out of that centre. Four and a half hours! Of course, I don’t check and double check and I don’t make use of any leftover time I may have. I think I shaved off a good hour or so and left rather early. Bring on the food I say, and I’m always game for cake! Wild horses couldn’t hold me back; a measly speaking section was no match against my ravenous appetite.

So that was the week… Lots of birthdays, new restaurants, the company of friends, outdoor cafes, the beach, a play and an exam. I feel I’m getting younger by the day.

Let the good times roll.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Another declaration


I openly declare my utter and total undying love for Colin Firth. His performance as Mark Darcy in the first Bridget Jones’s Diary was inspired to say the least; had me weak at the knees for days after. And then I saw Pride and Prejudice, The BBC Series. (6 hours nonstop, I have lost sensation in my right foot but it’s a small price to pay)

I’ve lost count of the number of adaptations of P&P that I have watched to date, this is by far the best and I hadn’t known that Colin Firth played the role of Mr.Darcy in this one as well (I suppose that explains his being cast in the same role in BJD years later. It is essentially the same character and lord, What a character!) so what a lovely surprise when I saw this version sitting pretty on the shelf at the BCL with his face splashed all over it.

I suppose it’s no surprise that Darcy has always been my favorite character. Sigh, and now I have a face to add to the idea. Six glorious hours just flitted past like small, yellow butterflies on a summer day.

Across the universe


Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind,
Possessing and caressing me.
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
They call me on and on across the universe,
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way
Across the universe
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my opened views inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying Love which shines around me like a million suns,
It calls me on and on
Across the universe
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva
------------------------------------------------------------------
The most perfect, most sublime of all Beatles songs...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Another birthday. (woopee for me)


It’s a quarter past four on a Wednesday morning. I don’t know what it is about Wednesdays. I suffer from some sort of rare anti-social cyclic mental illness that peaks on Wednesdays.
But I digress. I have, you see, two more days till Saturday, when I turn 22. Well, that’s not so bad, nothing to get all psychotic over. Such a bland, unassuming number, 22. Ay there’s the rub, the deadliness of it, the complete insignificance of it – 22 is probably the most beige number in the number series and it’s probably going to get beiger and beiger from here on and eventually morph into a sort of murky grey.

I’m upset. I’m anti-social, homicidal, rage and fury-upset. I didn’t have a list of things I wanted to do by some xyz years or any of that, but I did have things I wanted to have done at 16,17,18,21… places to see, people to kiss, tables to dance on, that sort of thing.

To recap:

Here’s what I did at 16. Go to school. Sleep thru class. Do your homework. Rinse and repeat.
Here’s what I did at 17. Same as above, but you’re in twelfth now. Do more homework.
Here’s what I did at 18. You’re in Anna. Morph into something asexual and hide under a table.
Here’s what I did at 21. You’re out of Anna now. Go to daddy’s office and hide under his table.

So here I am at almost-22, two grey hairs (No, I am NOT going to let it go!), haven’t set foot in a nightclub, never been drunk (not that I’d want to, but that’s irrelevant), never vacationed without my folks, heck never even been home alone, lived in my parents house all my live, and lamenting the dying days of my 21st year to my best friend Toby, my german shepherd. And of course to you fine people.

Somewhere between 16 and 22, a chunk of my life seems to have gone missing. No doubt there were wonderful things that happened to me in these past years, but if I could sum it up in one word I’d say ‘turbulent’ is the most apt. Anna particularly was a life-altering experience. You must understand, stepping out from the comforting shroud of self-delusion that an all-girls catholic convent wraps around you, all confident and bright-eyed, into the stark reality of the narrow-minded, bureaucratic madness that is Anna University is something of a shock. I didn’t know such places existed in this planet where pettiness and ignorance are venerated. Where some 17 year old who’s stepped out of Musilanchengalpettibatalagundu for the first time in his life, can walk on stage in front of thousands of budding engineers at one of the most prestigious technical institutes in the country and say how women are supposed to stay uneducated at home and should not aspire to be something they are not biologically programmed to be, and actually be applauded by the same thousands, some of them women. Reared on ‘faith and morals’ – those were the words we lived by in school, our motto – and with a firm conviction in justice and doing the right thing and believing in education and tolerance and equity and fraternity and all that other bull, it’s very difficult when the scales fall from one’s eyes and you realize rudely and suddenly that most adults are just intolerant, ignorant, bumbling morons.

Those first two years were one of the darkest periods in my life. I had fought with all my school friends, I had cut myself off from family, I had lost my school, I had lost someone dear and this, this hideous monstrosity was to be my new home way from home. I don’t know how I managed to keep my sanity intact, I do recollect coming dangerously close to losing it many, many times in those two years. But those were just the first two years; I spent four in Anna. The Neanderthals I had so despised the first two years had their virtues. To imagine that people so intolerant, so dogmatic, so bloody backward could have a modicum of sensibility is laughable but they did. Just a hint, a whiff, a shadow of a seed of a sensible thought but nonetheless, it was there and the thought itself was so profound, so powerful and humbling, for that I am eternally grateful to Anna.

If I had lived my life post-Sacred Heart the way I wanted to, I think I have a fairly good idea of where I’d be by now and what sort of person I’d be. It’s easy to be handed over from the sheltered cocoon of a Christian convent to the smothering Christian atmosphere of an all-girls art college. After all, I did have a way with words and I did always want to get into that line – literature and philosophy and whatnot. It’s fairly easy for the daughter of a man with deep pockets to go from one of the finest schools to one of the finest colleges, spending her days in the world of words and books and theatre and performances and art. I don’t need to work, I don’t need to be independent, after all it’s not like I need to carve a name for myself, fill in daddy’s shoes as it were – there’s always the son to carry on the family business. I just need to primp and preen myself, evolve a docile, easy-going nature and when the time is right, and I shall feature in the final change of hands, and be transferred, still swathed in clouds of delusion (oh do be gentle with her, poor girl, she’s had a rather sheltered existence. She’s my only daughter you know, I seem to have rather spoilt her silly) to a man whose father has even deeper pockets and the world wouldn’t have changed a fig. I’d be married of course, but that’s just something that happens, you know like getting a new car, it wouldn’t change that I would still be spending my days in idle bliss, pondering over life and death and immortality and Shakespeare. There isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with this sort of life, it is rather charming in its way, has a sort of innocence and gaiety and I’d have probably been very happy, inhabited a lovely house and tended to the flowers and morphed into Mrs.Wilcox and looked a bit baffled at the three or four or five sons I’d reared and left them and their father to their heated debates while I lolled about. Oh, I would have been happy.

But for whatever reason, daddy believed it is vital I not waste my ‘intellectual reserves’ (by god woman, you CAN think, why throw it away on that mush. Put it to good use, you’ll always be proud of yourself and as for literature well… you can take it up anytime). So I went to Anna. And the one good thing it did for me was strip away all my layers of soft white lies and then hurl stones at me. Grabbed me quite roughly by the shoulders and then knocked my priorities in order. If I had learnt to forgive my father without his having to apologise, if I had learnt to let go of the anger and the hatred I felt toward the mad, poisonous aunts and grandmothers and cousins of a thousand childhoods ago (I can’t change them, but I needn’t let them get to me, and I definitely needn’t turn into them) if I had learnt to be comfortable in my own skin and defend myself and not rely on the kindness of strangers, I have Anna to thank. Yes, it was populated by some alien species who believed speaking English was an unpatriotic act, but they did have their heads firmly planted on their shoulders for some issues.

So that was that. I fought, I cried, I broke down, I succumbed, I grudgingly tolerated, I understood, I embraced and I graduated. I knew what I wanted and I knew how to open my mouth and ask for it and fight and claw and snatch it if it wasn’t offered to me. And then the other ‘darkest period of my life’ began

No I don’t think I’d much like to take up a job, Daddy.
Oh good luv, it’s not all fun you know, it’s late nights and deadlines and hardwork. You wouldn’t enjoy it.
Yes, I’d like to work in our firm instead if it’s all the same to you.
Oh. Ah. Yes. Um, splendid. Right. Hmm.
I could shadow you and learn from you. I could understand. I could go away for a couple of years to study later. I could…
Ah yes. Excellent suggestion. But why don’t we start small? You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew-
-But-
-And it’s not all as glamorous as you think. It’s actually rather uninteresting. Very boring work in fact. Don’t need brains for it. A monkey could do it-
-Yes, but all the same I would like to-
- You needn’t worry your pretty head about it. I’ll take care of it for you. You’ll don’t have to do much. It’s really not needed, you understand.
-Right, I’m sure, but I could-
-Look, why don’t you go down to the x division. You can have the corner office all to yourself. I’ll have a new table put in. We’ll get you a spiffing new computer. You can go there everyday. You can learn. No pressure mind, it’s your company. You can come in for work whenever you like. Now you don’t worry about it. Hello, yes, this is he, my daughter’s just graduated. She doesn’t want to sit idle you see, she’s joining the x division next month and… what? Ah yes, very. Marvelous. She’s right here. He’s congratulating you. Yes, now, could you move that large desk that’s in my office? And get her a name plate you see… -

That’s how great companies are run. Now you know.

It’s been a year since I’ve joined now. A year since I’ve been in the workforce, or so I tell myself everyday, when I get up from bed and am forced to look in the mirror. Have I learnt anything? Well, yes it wasn’t a complete sham. I have learnt something; I do have hazy recollections of flurries of activity in my office. I do remember wading thru sheaves of papers and unintelligible figures. I do remember sitting in at some meetings, a lot of people spoke, it was all a big hazy, a bit cloudy, my head hurt, there was Lucy in the sky with diamonds…

-I’ll send you to the finest schools darling. Don’t worry about it, daddy’s got it covered. No need to tax yourself… -

No, but I did learn. A little about business, and a lot about myself.

I don’t need people to depend on for my happiness. I don’t need books, I don’t need music, I don’t need entertainment, I don’t need art, I don’t need beauty, I don’t need laughter, I don’t need people, I don’t need direction, I don’t need purpose, I don’t need to be touched, I don’t need to be moved, I don’t need to be loved, I don’t fear solitude. I’ve been in limbo already; I still am and will be for another year.

-Huge corner office darling. Overlooking the street. Excellent view…-

I am comfortable in my own skin. I am complete in and of and by myself.

Which brings us, finally after all this rigmarole to the profound discovery I have made about myself. I choose to remain single. Perhaps I shouldn’t be making such statements, given the circumstances and the rather lovely pity party I’m currently throwing myself.

-What, leaving so soon? Oh do stay a bit longer. Have some cake, it’s quite delightful. No? More tears and rants then? Never fails. Did I tell you about the amazing Mr.X and his educated girlfriends? No? Was a long time ago see, oh things are much different now… -

But the truth is, it has been good in a way having all this time on my hands. No, its not that I have too much time and no work to do. Oh yes, I have work, I just don’t seem to have any purpose, any direction, any aim. The days morph into each other and the only thing I seem to be doing is getting older.

Ah but again, I seem to be deviating from the topic. So here, is my epiphany (if you can call it that) I choose to remain single, that is, I choose to not marry. Not now, not for a long time, possibly never. There are reasons of course, so let’s have them, one at a time now.
First, there is the concept of the knight in shining armour. The beauty of this idea is that it will always remain an idea, always ideal, always perfect, never tainted by the grubby paws of reality. Lets face it, when was the last time someone rode up to you in a white horse (I rather fancy black horses personally but I suppose I could try and be accommodating) and said ‘Fancy a bite, luv?’

Oh there are singularly gifted individuals. Chaps who can make you laugh, who can play the buffoon with such effortless ease and at the most unexpected moment, display a stroke of brilliance, make the most profound insights, chaps who can wax eloquent on Mozart and Shakespeare and the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything and then curl up to watch re-runs of Mr.Bean with you, chaps who have purpose, who are driven, who are ambitious, who are geniuses in their own right and who channel it and harness it and are determined to make something of themselves, to push themselves to the limit, to be constantly challenged, chaps who remarkable friends, supportive, accepting you, warts and all, and leaving their cellphones on in case you feel like ranting at three in the morning. I just don’t think it’s possible to marry all of them.

Truth is we are a bundle of contradictory thoughts and actions and wants. Who knows what you want. Who knows what keeps you happy. Marriage? Domestic Bliss? The idea of an eternity bound to one man, experiencing all your emotions, your little battles, your small victories, your life-changing epiphanies, on your long, long lease? He may be liberal, he may be open-minded, he may be understanding; it only means the rope is longer.

If I marry I would have an idea of what my husband would be like and how my life would be like and unfortunately, he’d probably have similar perceptions of his happily married life. I am not saying compromise is an alien word, but it seems to be that my life is a smorgasbord of compromises – of what daddy wants, and what mummy desires, what’s considered good and proper for a well-adjusted, decent, South Indian girl. I really don’t think there’s room for one more. Perhaps there could be, but not anytime in the near future. I would like to have a little breathing space for myself, after I’ve flown the nest and before I peep into the abyss of domestic bliss, I think I’d rather like to be selfish and self-centered and think only about myself for a few years and not bother about protocol.

What I do hope for is an eclectic bunch of friends. People you can drag to the theatre. People you can talk to at odd hours at night. People you can breakfast with on Lazy Sunday mornings. People you can discuss books with. People who would lend you music you’d never heard before. People you can argue with and fight over things like the reservation quota and dress codes. People you can dream with and ponder over the insignificance of it all. Why look for one man who has it all? Is being alone such a frightening thing? Must you realize that there can never be one person who can sort of get you, all the different, contradictory parts of you and then be forced to go in for someone who sort of gets the overall picture and who might be willing to meet you half-way if you walk a bit to meet him. Is that why we do all this, all this studying and preening and working and making something of ourselves? Oh sod it.

Secondly (yes, yes there was a structure to all this, remember the part where I clearly said reasons, plural?) I’ve been alone, I’ve been frightened, I’ve spent days locked in my room (ok, my house) and hadn’t been outside for weeks on end. The other times, I’ve lived in a never-ending madness of work-home-work-home. It doesn’t matter because you’re moving from one computer on a desk to another. There aren’t any colleagues, there isn’t any work, there are no interactions with anyone and what you do have is again an abundance of time on your hands and minor distractions by way of mail/internet/petty jobs that no one cares about and have only trickled down to you because daddy doesn’t want you to get bored.

-Oh give her something. She’s just so forlorn and down in the dumps all the time-

So with all this time, you’d think I’d stop whining and get off my ass and actually go do something. Go do theatre; I’ve always wanted to perform.

-You do know girls in that sort of line aren’t thought highly of. It’s not the sort of thing for people like us-

Go read books; I’ve always wanted to read (well, this I am doing)

Shut up and actually go work

-What, it’s been a year? My, time flies. Hmm? You want to work at the main shop, tag along with me? No, I don’t think that’s a good idea, I really wouldn’t advice it. You know how our people are, you know how they talk, you know what they’d say if they see you sitting with me out there on the cavalry front as it were. Educated girl of marriageable age, you’d invite all sorts of idle gossip – displaying her wares she is, advertising for grooms he is. You don’t know luv, the sort of small-minded petty minds we need to do business with on a daily business. I have to because I haven’t a choice, you needn’t mingle with them. Look darling, corner office, lovely view, overlooking the street…-

There is a grain of truth to what he says. That’s the infuriating part; I can’t dismiss it all as bollocks. But the only thing I want to do is this. I want to work and I want to learn the business, and I want to do it the right way. By god, the way I deserve to!

And why the bloody hell not? I’ve studied, I’ve learnt, I’ve suffered. I’ve been through four grueling years; I won’t let it be all in vain. I’m smart, I’m intelligent, I’m clear-headed, I’m sensible, I’m quick, I can learn, I can lead, I can take over, I can do a bloody good job. Hell, I have everything you would look for in an ‘heir’ to your gilded kingdom; will you please just let me?

I know it would have been so much easier if I were your son instead. I know it’s a man’s job. I know I will have to struggle to gain any respect. I know I’ve been sheltered, cajoled and pampered and I will be hurt, will be marginalized, will be treated unfairly simply because it has always been that the first son of the first son of the first son will lead us all into glory. (And you, my dear, are strictly ornamental. Now go back to your place on the mantel.) But will you please look past your son and see that I am here and I am ready and I am willing.

I surprising thing is, in college I used to look forward to when I would get off and go work. I figured more freedom, finally independence, responsibility and everything else that comes with the package. Well, it seems to have taken a step backward. With me working at dad’s office, and being chauffeured around

-Madras roads are hell. Its not even fun driving anymore-

(Ah, but I can’t place the blame squarely at his doorstep. Madras roads ARE hell and I did give up driving), and all my friends busy working till 3 am at the sweatshop (Working for TCS are you? Fan-tastic. Unrealistic deadlines? Go to bed at 4am and back in office in a couple of hours? Marvelous. No social life, no interaction? Really? Fancy that. You’re thinking of committing suicide? Turned into a recluse? Ama-zing, I’m so glad things are working out so well for you. Job pays very well I heard. Plus they’re sending you onsite in three years. Wow.) what it leaves me with is unlimited time on my hands and ironically, instead of using this, this gift of free time that I used to yearn for in a competitive academic-packed environment at college, I seem to be frittering it away on idle thoughts, lost my will to do anything that could be of the slightest use to anyone.

If I wanted to spend my days reading and philosophizing and pontificating I could have done that from the start, I could have lived my 16,17,18,21st years the way I wanted. But I think-

-Look, why don’t you just get married. It’s the right thing to do, you’re the right age. We’ll find a nice x-caste boy, you can do all the writing and reading and sketching and everything you’ve always wanted. Forget this tosh about B-schools, it’s not really for you. It’s too grueling, its very taxing you know, I’ve been there, I’ve done that. And you’d miss family and home and comforts and you don’t know how easy you’ve had it here. You know I’d do it for you, anything to make you happy, if it’s what you want, why, yes, sure, absolutely. But why don’t you just…-

No.

I can’t stay here, in this house, with these people, in this life. I find myself slowly going insane. I detest going out to meet people. (This, from a self-proclaimed people-person. I am or was a hog for the limelight) I don’t find pleasure in reading/learning/music/sketching, none of the things I used to enjoy. The pointlessness of it all… Really, who gives a flying fuck?
I seem to have reached my intellectual peak, the ends of my endurance, the whatever limits to whatever the bloody hell people are so full of.

No, I don’t think I’d much like to marry. And I think I’ve outgrown relying on friends for comfort and solace. Yes, it’s wonderful that they’re there, but I think I could now manage without any, thanks for the offer though. Damned good of you.
Still, there is one thing that I’m clinging desperately to like a drowning man grasping for a hand. If there’s anything that’s got me thru this year, its that I know I can grit my teeth and be safe in the knowledge that

-You cant be serious luv, think about it, its so taxing. Why would you want to strain yourself-
come what may, I am going to with a dogged determination,
- You know most people in B schools are about 27. And they’re all married. Here’s what luv, why don’t you get married and then go abroad and pursue your MBA-

apply for B schools. Take the stupid bloody mindless tests,

-You’re always with the books. What’s with you. You don’t need to do this you know. I said I’ll take care of it. You don't need to stay up late you know, I’ve got it under control-

and score well, by god I’m going to put everything bloody thing I’ve got into this mind numbing exercise

-Hello, yes? Yes, this is he. Ah, heard the news have you? 99th percentile. Fancy that. Very proud of her, yes. Ecstatic, yes. Quite. Oh right, yes, I’ll tell her. I am rather sad you know, she’s actually written the exam and scored so well and I was hoping she’s mess up a bit you know.. What? That! Oh haha! Acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree eh? Yes, yes, I know. Loosen the apron strings and all, what? I can’t bear to think of her leave, it’s going to be really hard. Wretched business…-

and run about preparing the application packages

-Hello Lav, its your grandmother here. Oh congratulations. Marvelous news. But you’re not serious are you? Look, you’re not getting any younger. Here’s this marvelous chap, he’s a finance-whiz-kid or something too. And he’s going to B school too, think about it, you could get married. We’re not forcing you, no of course not, but you know you should reconsider…-

and get up and leave that mouldy office (well, actually it DOES have an excellent view) and fight with my father and have my way, and tag along and look into the whole operations

-Lav, don’t make it so hard for your father. Poor man, listen to him, listen to me, we’re your parents. It’s not like how you think it is. It’s very difficult, very complex, you don’t want to associate with the sort of people who we need to do business with. It’s not a woman’s job. Yes, yes you’re qualified, but this isn’t about qualifications, you know…-

and try to recover some semblance of sanity and try to regain some control of what was once my life.

-Lav, it’s not a woman’s job-
-What, you’re going out at this hour? It’s nine’o’clock. Who on earth are you going to meet? What’s she doing at this hour? Doesn’t she work, can’t this wait. I don’t see why you have to go out for dinner this late-
-There is this excellent business course, right here in Madras. Imagine that, you wouldn’t even have to move across the street! You can still live here while you study, quite reputed-
-Look at this one! 5’11, working in the US, x-caste boy, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink-
-I don’t see why you insist on doing this youself, I said I’ll handle it. Why don’t you just send it to my secretary, why do you insist on doing everything yourself and then muddling it up and then asking me to sort it all out for you. Yes, yes, I don’t you don’t want me to interfere, but you made such a mess of it, look, give me the damn thing, we have people who’ll do this for us, you know-
-Yes, I know none of your female friends live in Madras but you have to think of how it looks. You can’t be the only girl there in a group of 5 guys, the whole town will gossip. Yes, I know you’ve known them for nearly half a decade, yes decent chaps, I’ve seen them, but the point is..-
-You’re not getting any younger, you know. A woman’s child-bearing years are…-
- You’re going out alone? What on earth for. What change of scene? It’s not like you’re swamped at work. Besides, I’ve always seen you lolling about on the sofa or sleeping all the time. What on earth do you possibly need a break for? You’re not even meeting anyone; you just want to go outside by yourself? What a weird thing to do… Why cant you be normal. –

Ah yes, 22. What an awful lot I’ve got to look forward to this year.

addendum:

:) Nearly two years on, and um, x number of white hairs later, reading this post has been...strangely comforting. If not for anything else, then just to contrast with how much has changed since and why this post is no longer relevent.

I don't feel claustrophobic anymore. I don't fear relationships, and have learnt to deal with it in my own innately human, flawed way. I suppose ease and grace comes with time, and aye, an certain inner stillness that I possess now which I didn't then.

I'm a lot more comfortable with my involvement in work and the way my career's falling into place - a note: at the time of writing this post as well, I was doing a lot more work than seems apparent from the post, but don't we all love a good pity party once in a while :) That said, if the first year of full time experience was a lot of learning and observation, the two years hence have been a lot more hands-on and thank god for that. Sitting here now, I've got so many different projects on the pipeline and I sometimes feel like I'm leading three lives in one.

Balance.

That delicate state of being where you feel like you're walking on smoke and air. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't quick, but it's here now. And it feels right. So yus, much has changed in two years, and entire portions of this text - if not the entire post itself, written as it were, during a particularly dark mood - is a thing of the past, and no longer relevent.

That said, I don't want to remove it from the blog. Let it be.

Lest we forget.