Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We come in pif


Pif is a brand new performance festival, organized for Chennai by Chennaiites (mostly) with a focus on original work, collaboration, and an irreverent, ironic and socially conscious tone. A group of professional and semi professional writers, musicians and actors based in Chennai are the driving force behind Pif-- the first avatar of this festival will be staged on Dec 22 and 23 at the Top Storey, Alliance Francaise de Madras.

Pif is an idea, an esprit [and other exotic words that usually mean squat, and are used in boring QC meetings where the visiting white man has the only good chair in the hall], an emotion, an invocation, and a cuss word.

Pif cannot be defined. It is however, not a gimmick. Not a movement. Not a fad. Not the name of a lost Teletubby.

Pif is for individuals who are amused and irritated by the flow of meaningless phrases and words that we swim in everyday, in order to be polite and grown up towards each other.

There will be two shows per day, @ 3pm and 7pm-- The show content for the 22nd will not be repeated on the 23rd. Yes, you heard right! That's two whole days of brand new, original material.

Tickets are priced @ Rs. 50 if you have your student i.d. and Rs. 100 without. Tickets available at Alliance Francaise and Cafe Mocha. Or contact 98402 17447 for bookings.

Come experience the Pif festival, which gives a Pif for bad accents, says Pif off to overpriced tickets, and is indubitably, an ePIFany, if anything at all.

The focus is on collaboration, on the individual, on fun, on truth, especially ironic truths. Don't miss out on the Pif parade, on the 22 and 23 of December.

With Molotov cocktails of love, truth and sharpened pencils,
The Pif Parade
-----
On a sidenote:
I be part of that small group of ramshackle chennaiites. It's been a heady last two months as director, actor, performer, organizer, spoken word artist and general all around mad person revelling in the madness. And I sing too. One line. In tune. (hey, dont knock it till you try it. It's hard singing a line in tune! )
Been an intense and very positive experience thus far. And now showdate's looming large, and we will be performing this Saturday and Sunday. All original, real issues, real emotion and humor.
It has been, and still is, much madness, energy and general pandemonium. With two days left to go, we're still rushing ahead, clearing last minute hurdles that always pop up, losing tempers and finding them again, much bettering, fine-tuning and soul-searching amidst life, chaos and aye, hectic readying.

Here's to great theatre... and charging toward that elusive goal.
*chinks glass*
Do come.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Scribbles from darjeeling.

Love small steam-train that breaks down in the middle of nowhere and seven men pour out of the carriage wielding only a hammer because it’s all they have.

Love that the train is moving again in five minutes and all seven jump in with their hammers and look out the window like this is perfectly ordinary.

Love losing phone signal and looking out the window at Everest thru the clouds, like shards of mountain bits tearing thru a white cloak, and the hint of rain hanging in the air.

Love small miracles and how easily one finds perfection.

Like snow.

When you're expecting rain.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Just.


Driving back to our house from Manhattan after a good day and a great show and muskrat love starts playing on the radio and we all listen to it and I am writing postcards and just a little amazed by how little it takes to make perfection.

Like pink balloons adorning the front porch of a house in suburban new york, or cobwebs on the window sill at Junior's cafe off Broadway, trapping the last rays of the five o clock sun while I'm into my third spoon of devil's food cheesecake already and outside a young man speeds by on his mobike with his girlfriend's laughter hanging in the air like white linen on a clothesline in harlem.

Perfect day.

Like a crisp sheet of white paper.

Like a full house.

Like a standing ovation.

Like music and beauty, intricately entwined. And quietly heartbreaking.

Like acorns and fire hydrants whizzing past on the highway as meatloaf starts playing on my ipod.

Like a single dewdrop on a thin blade of glass.

Like a thin blade of grass.

Like a sunday in Manhattan.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A brief guide to some less popular career options


A brief guide to being a muse:

First, find a sufficiently impoverished artist. If this is not possible, a poverty-stricken writer or director or, if truly desperate, a poet will do. A typical example of this specimen has long, unkempt hair that is usually a nesting ground for various insects, small birds and – in one recorded instance in 1874 – a very frightened kangaroo. His face tends to be typically oval-shaped, unless it is round or perhaps square in which case it is not, in fact, oval. He is also conspicuous by a look of perpetual failure and a general state of sulkiness.

Second, strive to look as muse-like as possible. Try to be genetically-endowed with impossibly long legs, an exquisitely small curvy waist, voluptuous hips and goddess breasts. Remember to exhibit at all times a perpetually pained expression not unlike that of one who’s just walked past an open sewer. One is advised to grow to be a staggering 6 feet.

Refuse to wear clothes as a mark of protest against society’s obscene fascination with materialistic possessions. As one will soon learn, this stance will stand you in good stead when one realizes that a poverty-stricken artist will usually not be able to afford Prada. Gucci maybe, but not Prada.

Do not talk. Ever. Merely grunt when spoken to. When one desires a ridiculously expensive object of no functional value whatsoever – as a muse, being unreasonable is a way of life and a deep philosophical principle – a light tip of the head 1/8th of an inch in the general direction of the desired object will fetch instant results.

Strive to be as volatile as possible. In fact, the more explosive your mood swings, the better a muse you’ll make. It helps slightly to break a small but expensive object from time to time. As your inspired artist/poet/writer/struggling dentist will typically be monetarily-challenged, this may not always be possible after a certain point of time. In which case, one may try breaking windows, doorknobs, body-parts and an egg occasionally.

As a muse, you will be required to do something sufficiently inspiring from time to time. This being the arrangement, in exchange for free food, housing, various shiny objects and the undying adoration of a struggling albeit genius-before-his-time-on-the-brink-of-stupendous-success artist. Or if not an artist, at the very least, a mildly disillusioned plumber who feels he was destined to be greater things, like say, Picasso.

But not to worry, evoking inspiration is effortless for a muse of great talent. The easiest thing to do is to drop one’s clothes, and stand poised in a state of heightened rapture, one’s face glowing with the borrowed radiance of the rising sun. Of course, it is easier to exude a quality of heartbreaking beauty if one is not an over-weight East-European hag with a rather conspicuous mustache. If this is unfortunately the case, consider instead living in absolute darkness and find a sufficiently disillusioned dentist to inspire.

A brief guide to being an intellect:

Intellects are those strange creatures whose sole aim in life is to one day have an entire closet full of tweed jackets with leather elbow patches and 7 pairs of horn-rimmed glasses. An intensely annoying high-pitched nasal voice is highly desirable. If one is doubly blessed with a lisp, then this may be the perfect profession for you.

When you invite friends over, make sure to have none but the most boring people in the history of mankind invade your abode. Serve only shredded duck in oyster sauce canapés and foie gras with fig and orange blossom chutney – carefully fashioned into exquisite mickey mouse shapes. Always serve wine to your guests. Remember to announce that is only the best fleufdelablooblahbleh, made with grapes hand-pressed by Louise the X1V himself.

As an intellect, you are expected to be well-read. Take pains to pepper your home with books. Playboy does not count. The more incomprehensible, the better. If you can, always surround yourself with books by French authors. It helps if it’s the original language. It also helps if one actually knows French.

A good reply to the question, have you read (insert book title here) would be: Not recently. This absolves one of resorting to mendacity.

Have highly-opinionated opinions on everything, particularly life, philosophy and the universe in general. For reference, try Kierkegaard and Nietzsche for Dummies, 2nd edition. Whenever anyone objects to your opinion, invoke the double-core induction theorem. Hence proved.

Never enunciate and always speak with a drawl, as if it is too much effort to discipline one’s tongue to frame a coherent sentence. In fact, the less understandable you are, the greater your intellectual standing among your peers. When faced with a particularly difficult philosophical question, remember that square root of negative 73 is always a good answer.

Invent your own philosophy. If you can, invent your own system of ethics. Do not, however, invent your own language. That’s just plain stupid. If somebody objects to your system of ethics on grounds of deep flaws and blatant moral relativism, invoke the double-core induction theorem. You will soon realize it’s a good theorem to know.

Hence proved.

A brief guide to being an insufferable snob:

To paraphrase a famous green furry er person: Be or be not. There is no try. In the same vein, one cannot become a snob. One is either born with the gift, or isn’t.

Never call anyone by their names. Snap your fingers instead. If you can, avoid any sort of tedious labour, like snapping fingers. You will find a barely perceptible flick of your fingers in the general direction of the hired help should be sufficient to elicit response. If one is forced to use words, choice vocabulary includes: garcon, slave and minion. While talking to entities of lower bearing, make sure to scrunch up your nose like you’re in the vicinity of a dead animal in the advanced stage of putrefaction.

Refuse to drink any water except a particularly obscure brand of water bottled at the foothills of the glaciers of Ukraine. When it comes to clothes, only wear obscenely expensive brand labels. And no, made in china does not qualify as a brand label.

Ostentatious display of jewelry is considered tacky. Instead, request your local cosmetic surgeon to inject your cheekbones with 200 carat Belgium-grade A diamonds set in gold. You may die, but it’s a small price to pay for such a noble cause.

When you die, leave your house, cars, diamonds, and all your money to your dog. To not seem like a heartless wretch, remember to leave 64 paise and a wad of used chewing-gum to your bastard son.

Of course, it helps greatly if in addition to these traits one also possesses a shit-load of money. Preferably old (read: inherited) money and a ‘name’ – not the ones they call you behind your back. It’s always a good sign if one can trace one’s ancestry way back to one’s own father. If one finds oneself insufficiently endowed in this regard, fret not, find a decrepit old person and get married immediately in the presence of a lawyer and two witnesses. A Russian oil-baron is always a good choice.

Happy hunting.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Of scraps and other debris


Sometime last year, or perhaps the year before, I joined orkut. After months of holding out, refusing to join another pointless networking site, was finally coaxed, cajoled and charmed into doing so. It wasn’t all that bad, although the lingo did take a little getting used to:

– Hey, she scraped me!
– Eh what, who? You got in a fight?
– No man, I’m gonna scrap her back once my boss leaves, he’s hovering over my shoulder looking into the comp.
– Er… right. Have fun ‘scrapping’.
– Yeah, I’ve got 1900 scraps already.
– O…k… (freak)


And so it went. To be fair, I did meet up with a whole lot of childhood and school friends and other such ghosts from the past. It was nostalgic and quite charming, ‘scrapping’ each other and howling over the time I burnt a hole in my friend’s chemistry observation or the time she got a book thrown at her for snoring during assembly or the time we high-fived everyone as they left the exam hall, cuz no one, no one attempted the 10-mark geometric progression proof. Sigh. Good memories.

But then, there were also the other kind, the truly scraptastic stream of spelling-challenged imbeciles with a fierce aversion to vowels and a burning desire to ‘make friendship’ the way other people made, say, car engines or 700-tonne bridges. I stopped orkuting, because there’s only so much of ‘hi i m suresh frm choolaimedu chmical enginr I wnt 2 mk frndshp wid u ad me pls’ that I could take. And then of course, as these things usually happen – more often in Meg Ryan movies than in actual reality – something happens that makes you go… hmm.

Perhaps it would be easier, to simply copy and paste the entire exchange.

The one that started me off on this rollicking rhyming spree. A scrap, from an absolute unknown to me:
Hail! Devourer of Pratchett style fantasy
The gurgling gargoyle has deigned to write thee
While ranging through Orkut in search of life forms
That can weave worlds with words, songs with syllables
And 'tis now your turn to engage in boisterous banter
In rambling tales that up the tree of life do squirrables
Speak of thine own self, of dreams and rants
Of homoerotic fantasies and marxist slants
Of rambleworthy nightmares and ridiculous fears,
Of events causing both laughter and tears

Me:

Shalom. Hello. And greetings to thee.
Scavenger of scraps, and other debris,
The time has come, the eggman said,
To speak of many things,
Of dreams and rants and traveling pants,
And a walrus that sings,
I have, you see, no fantasies – homoerotic especially –
But for what I lack, I make up with my stack,
Of maoist bags and communist tees,
As for boisterous banter and rambling rants,
And elementary penguins and hare Krishna chants,
Drop by, oh amusingly alliterative one,
To my blogspot, at squarerootofnegativeone
But while we’re here, sipping ankh-morpork beer,
Let me toss in your bowl and orkut hole,
A hi, hello and how do you do
And throw in for good measure, a truly orkutian treasure,
hi i wnt 2 mk frndshp wid u.


He:

Ohmigod Ohmigod Ohmigod! Now what do I do?
My pretensions to poetry have been exposed through and through!
Yikes, shites, bring out the kikes
That I may vent my frustrastripes
Upon their backs, bellies, and gripes
That erupt from my failed pen in floods of tears
May turn to foamy head, and thence lager into beers!
But hold, for I have yet one weapon still!
If rhyme be a crime, then prose shall be my pill!
Friendship with thee I certainly shall make
For now 'tis not just reputation at stake.
Granny Weatherwax did hint that things would go astray
But never once mention my tongue'd have to enter the fray!
O exalted one, I lay my pen beneath your feet
Let's can this cranberry, and go grab a bite to eat!


Me:

A bite? Why, yes, I think I might.
It would, after all, be a welcome respite
From endless work, and dreary disquiet
Thus said, I accept, your timely invite
To travel and traverse across the multiverse
Swimming past stars and swinging by seas
Taking flight by night, past moons of green cheese
Past suns of red, past leaves of lead,
Past discs on elephants that by turtles are led
Past restaurants diverse, at the end of the universe.
We shall rest on clouds, going from bed to verse
Till daylight cracketh, as sure and as true
As Dorothy and her ruby shoes, two
And the house that fell on all she never knew
But for the dog that was spared and a scarecrow, shit-scared
And a tinman, some sheep, and a lion that weeps
While my guitar gently creeps
Across skies of blue that a winged-monkey flew.
So pick up that pen, while I grab my wand
And together we shall go far and beyond
The limits of time and the restraints of rhyme
To Valhalla and oz and Scarborough fair
And penny lane and the sorcerer‘s lair
As for your tongue… well, the night is young
But for now I think,
We shall make do with ink.

----
To be continued? Well let’s see. And in the meanwhile, here’s to scraps and things much verse.

*chinks mug of ankh-morpork beer*

Friday, July 6, 2007

Thalaiva Vazhga!


First, the facts, which we will examine, gently even, with powdered latex gloves and tweezers that no one really knows are used for what, or cares. Or wants to know I suppose, in light of latex glove revelation. Ah so, without further ado.

Fact: I have seen Sivaji 5 times – and no, not under captivity.
Fact: I whistled, cheered, hooted and threw ticket confetti in air when Superstar Rajni delivered punch dialogue.
Fact: I delivered punch dialogue
Fact: I delivered punch. (This be accidental tho. Over-excitement during fight scene)
Fact: I capitalize Superstar AND Rajni.
Fact: I plan to watch Sivaji again. And drag friends. And translate punch dialogues for the benefit of non-tamil speaking companions.
Fact: I cursed obscenities at slightly balding, middle-aged man sitting in the next chair the last time I saw the film.

Ok so I gripped him by the collar and called him a bleddy ayogya rascal country brute. But in all fairness, I was really just rather vociferously exclaiming my slight disregard for the baddies, and balding middle-aged guy being in the path of least resistance, got, for lack of a better word, whoop-assed.

Hi. My name is Lavanya and I am a Rajni fanatic. This is when we all hug each other and cry. *whips out cigarette mittai and throws into air, which then flips three times and lands – gracefully even – in delicate rosebud shaped lips* To paraphrase a great man… Owww eez eet?

How did this happen – as some of my friends have asked. Actually they’ve been rather vocal in their lack of understanding at my seemingly intellectually-impaired decision. As one friend so eloquently put it – you bleddy mad. *taps side of head*

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defense would like to present its case.

First of all, Sivaji is a good film. In fact, it’s a brilliant film. To put it another way… which makes you wonder about the circular redundancy of the phrase, first you plan to reiterate an already stated and accepted conclusion, and you announce the arrival of said redundancy with redundant phrase. Why would you want to put something another way anyway? Just get it right the first time. Idiot. To put it another way, is probably the most redundant and completely useless phrase in the English language. Right after, Hi I am calling from 1C1C1C1C1 bank would you like a credit card? And then a buttfuck? Preferably in that order?

But I digress. To put it another way, for the second time, it’s got…Ishtyle. And loads of it.
If I were snooty reviewer smoking clove cigars and peering over hideously expensive horn-rimmed glasses at laptop, I’d say the film possessed a certain stylistic superiority quite surpassing that of its predecessors. Not unlike Tarantino’s masterful rendition of old-style martial arts films in Kill Bill, where a 6 foot blonde in a yellow jumpsuit fends off the crazy kung-fu 88 – some of them in black and white – replete with tubes of blood spurting out of decapitated bodies. Ah, what craft. What a supremely fine balance he strikes between artistic reinvention and collapsing into a parody. Bravo. *gently claps well-manicured hands and scattering clove ashes in the process*

Sivaji thus, in the same vein and ruptured blood vessel, takes the entire class of ‘superstar’ full-action-masala-flick and goes above and beyond the confines of the genre it was meant to occupy. For something commonly known as the all encompassing B(K/T)ollywood extravaganza, recent fare has fallen somewhat shamefully below the mark. With Sivaji though, it once again straddles the line between comedy and action. And drama. And mass entertainment. And visual extravaganza. And… in short. Ishtyle ma ishtyle.

A word to all the hoity toity la di da types who think superstar antics and punch dialogues and the like are far too juvenile a pursuit to be enjoyed by anyone over the age of two or anyone in fact in full control of his higher faculties… actually I have two words for them, but respect for decorum dictates I restrain myself… so we shall settle instead for a semantically correct phrase thrown in the general direction of said la-di-da’s.

There is a reason we have a man who can fling a cigarette butt four feet into the air, have it land in his mouth and have an entire packed theatre of a thousand-odd otherwise perfectly respectable people go ballistic as he lights up. Beyond of course, the stylistic simplicity of the elegantly coordinated action, there is the fact, that it is actions like these – flinging of cigarette butts, rapid criss-crossing of legs, quick flick of the wrist and repositioning of thundu, or as in the latest case, the rather complex mechanism of flipping a coin/popping a peppermint into one’s mouth or rapid run of fingers over his baldpate – that will be repeated time and again at every tea-stall, every cool-bar, every footpath bench across the land for years to come. It doesn’t even matter what it is as long as it’s quick, it’s dramatic, and it’s got, you guessed it, ishtyle. On a sidenote, kudos to Shankar for replacing the iconic cigarette-butt flick with something a little more health-friendly.

Exhibit Two: Songs, sets and costumes. Songs are the inescapable evil of tamil movies; like death and taxes. Its not a question of, do we needs songs, so much so as it is, so how do we dispense with the procedure as quickly and painlessly as possible? There is of course the very practical consideration of the general viewing public needing a window – figuratively speaking of course – to go answer calls of nature, cigarette breaks etc. A five-minute song provides the perfect respite during the three-four hour long ordeal. In the past it is believed filmmakers traditionally made their songs as unimaginably awful as possible and their costumes so outlandishly garish as to induce even the most dehydrated individuals to visit the state-of-the-art bathroom facilities, which consisted of little more than a hole in the ground. This in turn fueled sales of overpriced aerated drinks and century-old fungus-infused popcorn during the mandatory twenty minute break from all that fatigue of being bombarded by visions of singing men in tight pants and white shoes jumping around trees chasing women suffering from a severe case of visible panty line disease. Now you understand why you suffered through all those waterfall/torrential rain song sequences? Oh the horror.

In short, songs were a necessary evil – part of a larger plot by MNCs and snack and beverages makers to pry hard-earned Indian rupees from white-knuckled clutching fingers of the unsuspecting suffering masses. Sets and costumes were as important a part of the film, as ceiling fans are in engineering colleges the nation over – purely for show, and absolutely no thought whatsoever gone into its actual purpose and function in the grand scheme of things. How else can one explain Telugu movies? Unless of course the entire Telugu speaking community happen to be color-blind in addition to hearing-impaired. Needless to say, ishtyle is a phenomenon least understood in golt land. Probably all the gonkura gone to their brain.

Thankfully, this not being a Telugu film, I did not have to suffer a brain hemorrhage while watching it. Sets and costumes, normally falling under either the tolerable-but-boring or ridiculously-hilarious category, were pretty decent. Songs were good, not mind-blowing, but enjoyable and definitely hummable. Sets were a visual feast. Every detail, every object in the frame, insignificant as it was, was taken care of and the effort definitely showed. Costumes were a spectacular treat, down to the minutest sequined details on Rajni’s 3 inch thick belt. Over the top? Yes. Outlandish? Yes. Ridiculous? Yes yes yes, all of that. But! That be the magick of a Rajni flick. To be all of that, and to still draw you into its story and characters and have you cheering and hooting all the way to the end credits.

Exhibit Three: Dialogues and superstar-masala-flick elements. Read: pandering to the lowest common denominator and/or mass entertainment aspects. You’d think it stands to reason that if one were looking at a movie from a purely commercial aspect, throwing in a generous dash of crowd-puller, item number and mass-entertainer bits and the like would invariably lead to a dip in overall story-telling impact. Not so. One of the good things about Sivaji is that there is no vulgarity or blood and gore violence – a rare, well-deserved U rating for the certified ‘family movie’. All necessary superstar-masala-flick bits – punch dialogues, fight sequences, basic storyline and plot, essential characters – have been tastefully incorporated into this mad celebration of the quintessential superstar masala movie. I did find the Angavai/Sangavai/Pongavai sequence a tad insensitive, but that’s my only gripe with an otherwise funtastic roller-coaster of a ride.

Hilarious dialogues and light, humorous comedy sequences. Essential snarling and frothing at mouth by necessary sub-characters. Yes, strips of paper from nowhere fly all over the place when our hero walks in. Yes, his hair – I still haven’t figured out HOW they got him to look the way he did. Brilliant stuff – flies about oh so elegantly at just the right, dramatic moments. Yes, he has the ability to bend space and time and single-handedly overturn five hundred odd years of math and science and the basic principles of physics and everything our understanding of the universe is modeled on. But really. Who cares? This be an epitome of The Rajni Movie. Bleddy sheddup and watch. Rascal.

Exhibit Four: Special effects and other odds and ends. Special effects are, for the most part at least, seamlessly crafted into the film. Fight sequences fairly entertaining, tad longish in parts, but overall quickly executed and never monotonous or tedious. Dance routines, rapid-paced and stylistically rendered. Pure fun and energy, more than anything, which is why when our man Superstar Rajnikanth stops a bullet with his glance, or throws a gun that boomerangs, shoots his victim and returns to palm, or throws off fifty odd baddies piled on top of his back without breaking a sweat, one can’t help being sucked into the whole mad over-the-top affair and whistling one’s head off. Hey, if I can clap for a wooden-faced leather clad sunglassed Keanu Reeves fending off a hundred Agent Smiths, I figured I might as well go crazy here.

And finally, the final and most important element of the defendant’s argument… here is a movie that is quite simply, fun. Forget sets, costumes, songs, dialogues, cinematic grandeur, mass-entertainment elements, socially-conscious message, cast, crew everything… at its core, is something undeniably enjoyable: pure, simple fun. Every song, every flick of the wrist, every punch delivery is infused with the light-hearted reverie that Rajni is known and loved for. But going beyond the obvious star of the film, there isn’t one person here who doesn’t make an impact with his presence. Right from the top, main hero and baddy and sidekicks, down to the poor musical-instrument buyer or the Angavai-Sangavai twins, memorable performances all. What a relief to watch a fun, jam-packed, energetic film – and performances – that doesn’t get weighed down by its own self-importance.

Ah but then again, one can simply say, tis a simple story: riches to rags to riches again, and along the way, boy meets girl, defeats baddie, saves world from itself, boy wins girl and all the sidekicks live happily ever after in eerily dust-free buildings. Tis not rocket science, true. But surprising how even overly simplistic movies tend to take themselves too seriously and end up becoming a gloriously bloated weep/preach fest for the miserable paying public. Bollywood extravaganza indeed. Where have all the good Superstar films gone? Kudos and more to Sivaji for converting this staunch-superstar-flick averse movie-goer into a born-again fanatic.
Now that the snooty reviewer in me has artfully deconstructed the Sivaji phenomenon, the defense would like to rest its case and go stand in line to purchase another ticket. Or to put it another way.

Summa adurudhullai!

Oww eez it?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

identity


who am i?

line and dot
dot and line
on the dotted line i sign, i

i am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together

i is my identity
have i an identity?
i have no roots
i have two roots

i think, therefore i am.
i imagine i am imaginary.

are you real?

imagine.
imaginary and real.
simple.
together we are complex.
together we are complete

but not whole

for then, i have naught, a hole
and no negatives
but i can be negative
i squared is negative
i am positive i am negative

so i am Z
the end
and the beginning
the all, the nothing, the infinite,
increasing infinitely in infinitesimal increments i tends to infinity.
and beyond.

i

who am i?
i don’t know.
do you?

i do
i does
i must do.
i make do with what i have.
i must make do with i

i am limitless, ceaseless, timeless
i am black, i am white, i am grey,
i fight, eye sight, i bite… i might
i write
i writhe

i right
i wrong

so i left

still
i
am.

i am the little straight line with a dot on top.
i am the square root of negative one.
i am me.
but mostly, i am
i
.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Don't be evil


Funny thing, Google. Their search engine's become a sort of Xerox or Ipod of the internet. And with good reason. They pretty much rock.

But this post isn’t about their revolutionizing the information retrieval genre, their massive page indexes or almost absurd retrieval times. It’s about pussy pillows.
What happens when you google for home décor products, cushion covers, pillow cases and the like? Well, you get this.

The pussy pillow - Celebrating the vagina as a symbol of pride, power and creativity
Our sumptuous yOni pillow is a must for every goddess and goddess lover. In the tradition of the 'naughty' goddess Baubo, the pussy pillow celebrates the vulva as a symbol of pride, power and creativity.
One woman we know has her yoni pillow on a pedestal in the foyer of her mansion. A mini temple declaring to all that enter her home her reverence for the Source and Beauty of Feminine Power!
Hidden among folds of silky satin, a secret zipper reveals a hidden sanctuary for your personal treasures ... those in the know can seek and find the elusive g-spot within! A beautiful rhinestone is strategically placed for any vagina challenged individuals in your life.
The yOni pillow is a grand 24 inches by 12 inches and features more lips on the reverse! A queen among cushions, a pillow for a princess, this gift will delight any woman who appreciates the blessing of being born with a vagina.
The vagina pillow - US$ 60
Now available worldwide

A sumptuous yOni pillow. (Notice the big O, btw) With strategically placed rhinestones for ‘vagina-challenged individuals’ even. A declaration of the Source and Beauty of Feminine Power… at this juncture I would like to interrupt myself and ask a supremely pertinent question. Who are these people, and what have they been smoking?

Imagine this. Your vagina-challenged friend comes home for the first time. You do the expected thing, make yourself at home you say, feel free to look around. And while he feasts his orbs on your bookshelf of volumes to Empower the Feminine 1, he gets a crick in the neck from all that reverencing at the foot of the enchanted tunnel.

Here you say, rest your head on this. Oh go on, don’t be shy, it’s not going to eat you, you know. Btw, it’s got more lips on the reverse. What, a blanket?

Stick hand inside delicate revered folds of silky satin. Rummage rummage rummage. Fish out a ratty old blanket, dark-red with knotted pieces of sticky brown fabric clots

Oh that’s just my sacred goddess menstruating blanket to usher in those Feminine days. Now, would you care for a drink? I’ll fix you my own special concoction, honey-nectar of the divine deity… here, where you gone?

And so you’re left standing there, with a glass of Rasna in your hand, wondering why on earth vagina-challenged individuals feel so threatened by a celebration of the hallowed source of feminine power and wisdom.

But take solace. There are some enlightened ones among the vagina-challenged populace. So what if they lack a sacred gateway to cyclical wisdom? They may yet embrace the Feminine Divinity in all her hole-iness by getting one of these things.(http://www.realdoll.com/dolls.asp) And they cost less than a sex change operation too.

But the fun really begins in the FAQ section. So say, you’re the kinda guy who wants to spend USD7000 on the ‘world’s most realistic love-doll’ – the FAQs tell me btw that customers include futurists, artists, art collectors, film-makers, scientists, health professionals, housewives. Yes, I see the obvious need for these people to own a latex doll with extremely soft and life-like er cavities. Right down to the subtle texture. Scientific research I suppose? Right.

Anyway, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are spending your hard-earned cash for the betterment of mankind and progress of civilization. What are the things that you really need to know before you plunk down 7000 big ones?

An essential information is that the silicon doll ‘can withstand upto 400 degrees of heat’. Just in case you’re the type of guy who likes to bonk inside a furnace. Her nipples meanwhile ‘can withstand approximately 400% elongation before tearing.’ So the next time your clothesline snaps you know what to do. But be careful tho! While she’s flexible and can sustain almost any reasonable position, she’s not meant to sustain extreme violent abuse. Violent abuse as opposed to setting her on fire and elongating her till she tears. And finally, she can support over 400 lbs. Dude. If you’re over 400 lbs, you probably need more than a latex chick with steel joints. Like perhaps a sufficiently padded construction crane.

But forget that. What I really want to know is who the hell conducted such ‘extensive’ research? Imagine a conversation at the Employment Agency.

- So what do you do?

- I test the tensile strength of the latex mammaric extremities of silicon filled humanoid replicas.
- Er…?

- I pull nipples for a living.2

- O…k… If you would kindly step aside sir... those men with white strait-jackets in their hands will escort you to your division.

But really. Someone’s got to do it. Why not just get a statistician, put him in a hard-hat and lab coat, stick a HB pencil in his hand and a clipboard in the other and leave him alone in a room with one of these things. He’ll get down to doing the only sane thing any mathematician would do when confronted with a life-size replica of a naked woman, down to the tiniest subtly textured detail.

Now you know why statisticians don’t get laid much.

What anyone would want with nipples stretchable upto 400% is beyond me, but ours is not to reason why. Blessed are those with simple pleasures.

But for the rest of us normal, statistically-challenged individuals who don’t stand much of a chance of making it on Guinness World Records, standing next to the dude in the dorky glasses tapping on a 400% elongated nipple with a HB pencil and measuring tape, take heart. There’s always google.

Don’t be evil.

Go ogle.

1 – Hot Pink: the girl’s guide to primping, passion and pubic fashion. For only $29.95, you can get your hands on ‘seriously useful information’. Like Chapter 2, Creating Pubic Art: A Style Guide. http://www.hotpinkbook.com/

2 – If you think this dude’s got it bad, the FAQs inform us the doll’s pubic hair is realistically embedded, one hair at a time, into her silicone flesh… So, what do you do for a living? Er… yeah, about that…

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sun People


How many tired souls this city houses…
On every pavement, I see sleeping people.
How in the midst of noise chaos and life, one slumbers so peacefully
Oblivious to everything but his own inner being.
Still.
Unmoving.
Except for the faintest heaving of his bosom.
To sleep, to lose oneself, to leave behind everything… and to never wake up?
You would think it looking at them.
Perhaps it’s the stillness within.
The sleep that follows the satisfaction of a job well done, a day well spent,
A life well lived.
How many of us sleep their sleep?
Tomorrow they will rise with the sun,
and while the world tosses and turns on goose-down pillows
and wishes wistfully for a temporary respite from their inner turmoil,
They stir from their inner calm, and return to chaos and life once again.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lunch.


He’s late again. Third time this month. Why am I not surprised? So here I am once more, strumming my fingers and sitting by the window at yet another expensive restaurant. All around me people are enjoying a quiet meal. There’s a table of businessmen in the corner. My god, they look serious, all dressed in suits. Probably arguing over splitting the bill. Lots of couples too. One Two Three… Four. That is a lot! You can always tell which ones are married. They’re the ones not talking to each other. No eye contact, no unnecessary talk, no wasted energy, just single-minded focus on their food. Look at them, blankly staring at each other with those dead eyes, like cattle chewing cud.

Hello hello, what’s this? A rather interesting pair I see. Footsie? Ah, she giggles even! Newlyweds perhaps? No no, he’s far too old and too accomplished by the looks of it, to go and create a scandal marrying a nubile young thing like her. What’s that on his finger, a wedding band? Ah. They’re having an affair. Well, good luck darling. Laugh and make merry while you can, enjoy this moment. Because it doesn’t matter that you spent all morning at the parlour primping yourself for this; when the meal’s done, he’s going to go back home to his wife. Oh no, there’s that waiter again. Damn.

‘Urhm’

Right. The clearing of the throat. Doesn’t matter. I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear it and continue looking out the window.

‘Harumphurhm’

Dammit. The cough. Already? Its not even been twenty minutes. I can’t possibly ignore The Cough. Besides, he’s hovering over me like a vulture. And me, already hiding behind the biggest eyeshades in my collection, face covered by hair. Go away dammit, just walk away walk away…

‘Erhm… Miss?’

‘Yes?’

It’s ok, it’s ok. That’s right, give him the snooty look. Look him straight in the eye with that one raised eyebrow and hint of a sneer. The prick. I’ll show him who’s boss.

‘Are you sure you wouldn’t be more comfortable at a smaller table?’

‘I said, my friend would be here shortly.’

I give him my frostiest tight-lipped smile.

‘Of course, madam.’

Bastard.

God, I hate this infernal waiting. The menu lies untouched on the table. What is it now forty minutes? Is he going to cancel again like last time? I look at my cell phone. No. No messages, no calls, nothing. It just lies there. Useless piece of metal and plastic.

The last time was at the Olive. When was that, a week ago? Thirty five minutes I wait at the table, and then he calls. Something’s come up. Emergency. He can’t make it. Raincheck? Of course, darling. I understand.

I hate the clandestine meetings, the hurried lunch dates, the stolen moments, the secrecy, the sneaking around. Like criminals. Why doesn’t he just ask me? Why can’t he just come out in the open and say it. It’s been four years already. Seems like a bloody eternity. We even picked out the color together for the living room. A nice ocean green. Brings the outside in, he said. That was nearly two years ago, when I moved into my new apartment. I always wanted a penthouse. Finally got one. On the 9th floor. With a balcony overlooking the sea.

Man, what wonderful times we shared, just him and me, sitting on the balcony. I’d cook him dinner, and then we’d sit out and talk. Just talk. Plans, hopes, dreams, music, films, books, current affairs, nothing and everything. And then I’d fall asleep in his arms. Oh the things we said to each other. The promises he made.

Bastard. Two years ago, that was. And he’s still living with her. Mother was right. Don’t fall for the married ones; they never leave their wives. And me? Left my husband, packed my bags, bought a new apartment. One suitcase, that was all I walked in with. I don’t need the extra baggage I said. Maybe I thought this was just a temporary set-up. Maybe I thought I’d be living out of a suitcase for just a short while. Till I finally move into his home. With my one suitcase, no extra baggage. Instead, here I am, still waiting. And waiting. And waiting. For those three little letters and a name that I may never share.

Rohan’s moved on. Well, of course he has. My mother-in-law always thought he married beneath him. And told him every chance she got. Rohan, you’re looking so gaunt these days, trouble at home? Rohan, how thin you’ve become, aching for some home food? Shweta, look at your nails, mummy doesn’t cut them? Shyam! My, your hair’s grown long, how do they let you in school, looking like some unwashed tramp?

The bitch. Thank god I moved out of there the first year of marriage. Imagine raising the children in that household. Ah but then, Rohan was very supportive back then. We clung to each other. Yes, we had some good times together, Rohan and me. Seven years. It wasn’t all bad. In fact, we had some wonderful times. Just got too ugly in the end. I couldn’t stay. Even if Amar hadn’t come along, I couldn’t have stayed. It had to happen eventually. Everything. Amar, the divorce, my children, the arrangement. Well, it was for the best I suppose. Amar would provide well for them. That old witch will look after them well; one must give the devil her due. She hated me from the start, but she always doted on her grandkids. You both look just like your father, you’re both all Rohan aren’t you, that’s what she always used to say to them.

Bitch.

Oh how she enjoyed it, when I finally told him I was leaving him. She knew it, she said. Right from the start, something was up with that girl, something not quite right. Receptionist. She used to spit out the word like I was a prostitute. They all sleep around too much, everyone in the entire hotel industry. There were rumours about her from day one. Not a very good reputation you know. It was a mistake marrying her. Rohan, the way she has been carrying on behind your back, oh the shame…

I was the one carrying on? Me? I, the one with the reputation? The problem is, Rohan, she used to say, she doesn’t understand you, understand our ways or our background. The problem is, Rohan, you just couldn’t keep your cock in your pants. It had to happen. Amar just made it clearer for me that’s all. Just put it all in perspective. I’d had enough. Of the hoping, the waiting, the utter humiliation. I’d had it. Goodbye Rohan, I’m leaving you. I’ve found someone else.
Funny. Never thought I’d be the one saying those words. Always expected to hear them instead I suppose. Who would have thought, that I’d end up having an extra-marital affair? When do you realize that you’re having an affair? When is it, that exact moment in time, when it hits you, my god, I’m a married woman, with a husband and two kids, and I’m leading a double life.

Is it at that first evasive reply?

Or the first outright lie?

Or the first time you pick up the phone and realize with disappointment it’s only your husband.

Or the first time the tip of another man’s swollen penis pushes itself into what you have pledged in undying loyalty to your husband. And what god hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
A men.

When did I start having a sordid affair? Ah but, love isn’t borne out of sex. It’s the little things that add up. Running in from the rain, both of you huddled under his jacket. Helping him pick out a birthday present for his eight-year old daughter. Sobbing into his shoulders. Sharing the same bottle of coke, taking a swig, without wiping the mouth on your sleeve first. That’s how it started. And then one night I woke up and looked at my husband and realized, I’m lying next to the wrong man.

Oh god, how long has it been, an hour? What’s keeping him? He’s never been this late before. I hope he’s alright. Useless phone, ring, godammit.

But then. Of late, he has been canceling quite frequently. Turning up late. Not even an apology anymore. Just a look. As if to say, you know how it is. And then he’d pick up the menu and order, like this was perfectly acceptable behaviour. The chicken for me, and the fish for the lady, he would tell the waitor. He always ordered for me. Amar, where are you? Well, it doesn’t matter. After today, it won’t. I’m calling it off. The whole thing, the whole sordid affair. So long and thanks for all the fish. Bastard.

It was always something. Never the right time. She’s been through a lot just now, with the miscarriage, I can’t walk out on her now. Father’s suffered a stroke, it’s been quite mad at the office, I can’t really rattle things up at such a time. It’s tough on the children, they’ve just lost their grandfather, I can’t abandon them now when they need me the most.

And what about my children then? What about that day we took them to the beach? The day you bought Swetha that pink cap, and she insisted you buy one just like it, and you did, and you both wore it and walked on the beach with her sitting on your shoulders. Or that day with Shyam when you helped him with his math homework, because he was in tears and he came to me, and I just couldn’t make sense of all those cryptic symbols, and you saw and you understood, and you took the book from his hands and you gently explained it to him. What about that then? It’s not hard on them I suppose?

Well, it doesn’t matter. They’re older now. They’ll get over it. I’ll get over it. Amar hasn’t seen them in over six months. God, it’s been a long time since he’s come home. He seems reluctant these days. Well, screw him. Screw him. Who needs this? Not them. Not me. I’m tired of waiting. Tired of it. Dammit, there’s that waiter again. It’s been over an hour. He’s walking this way. Think fast, think fast.

‘Erhm… Perhaps madam would care to…’

‘Excuse me.’

The waiter is visibly shaken. There is a woman sitting in front of me. I hadn’t noticed while she walked up to the table. I was busy looking outside, hiding behind my menu, trying very hard to avoid making eye-contact with those uniformed vultures.

She had pulled up the chair and sat down. She gives him a look, and the waiter disappears. One look, it is enough to tell him… you are dismissed. Now she turns her gaze on me. I am taken aback by how stunning she is. My god, she’s beautiful. A little tired around the eyes, but undeniably beautiful. A modern day goddess with thick black hair, loose, cascading down the back of the chair. She’s in a sari. At a place like this. But she doesn’t look out of place, funnily enough. She looks quite elegant, like she belongs here. More than belongs here, in fact, like she’s far better than everything and everyone else here.

‘Erhm, Hi… I’m sorry, do I know you?’

‘No.’

She sits there looking at me. Everything around us seems to have suddenly become quiet. How deafening this silence is. Why doesn’t she say something? I wait.

‘I know you.’

‘Oh?’

She waits.

‘You’re fucking my husband.’

‘Ah.’

Right. The wife. The shadowy third figure in our relationship whom we never allude to. The ghostly apparition always hovering in the background, tainting everything with her non-presence. The voice on the other end of the line. Amar’s voice always went three notches higher whenever it was her. He’d immediately straighten up, and run his free hand thru his hair. Then he’d walk into the other room to finish the call. And then come back irritated, or preoccupied. That’s how I knew. Her. The voice was finally here, in flesh and blood, sitting before me and boring holes into my skin with her unblinking gaze.

‘He’s not coming.’

‘I see.’

What does one say at a time like this? I shift uneasily in my seat.

‘In fact. He’s never coming back. Not to you.’

She smiles. How hard her face looks. Hatred crystallized, into a hard smile. She’s enjoying this! Enjoying hating me. Looking at me, savoring every visual detail, and hating me, here and now, tangibly.
‘I know what he’s told you. It’s what he tells all his girlfriends. My wife and I are not compatible. It was a mistake from the start. I was too young when I married. She’s all wrong for me. Country girl. Villager.’

She spat out the word. Spat it out like my mother-in-law used to every time she said Receptionist.

She folds her hands, and rests them on her crossed legs. She closes her eyes, a second to compose herself. Just for a second. Then she opens them and looks me straight in the eye.
‘Well, it’s all true. Everything. I can’t say it isn’t. We’re not compatible. It was a mistake.’

She waits for my reaction.

‘Ah.’

I wait for hers.

She sits there, looking. Clearly, she had expected me to say more. We both watch each other, waiting. She takes a deep breath.

‘So’, she begins again, ‘When he realized, that this wasn’t what he wanted, he decided to find out what it was that he wanted, and go get it. Affairs, one-night stands, women. Lots of them. I know them all. People used to come tell me all the time. Some, well-wishers, with concern and pity in their eyes. Others, just gossip-mongerers, morbid curiosity mingled with ill-suppressed joy in their voices. Sometimes, they’d come tell me themselves, the women fucking my husband.’

She leans forward till her face is inches from mine.

‘He always went for the same sort. They all looked alike. Like you. Fair skin, artificially-colored hair. Make up and painted nails. He thought they were cultured, because of the way they dressed and spoke English with an accent. They’re not cultured. Just a different kind of ugly.’
She sits back in her chair and looks out the window. She seems lost in her own thoughts. I open my mouth to speak.

‘He always grows tired of them’, she continues, still looking out the window, ‘It’s not the women he’s after. It’s the thrill of the chase. It’s the attention. Of being wanted. And wanting. And getting what he wants. Once he gets it, he doesn’t want it anymore. He never does, that’s just the way he is. He bores easily. And then he comes back to me and asks me to make him a cup of coffee, like it’s the most natural thing in the world.’

She abruptly turns her head and looks pointedly at me.

‘That’s why you can never have him. He’s never going to leave me, you see. Too much has happened; too much that we have both endured together. He’s old and he’s tired. He can’t start all over again. And the children aren’t so young anymore. They know, they watch, they observe. They can think, and they can judge, and he knows that. So will the entire family. Judge him, and condemn him. It doesn’t matter that they all depend on him, financially. He depends on them, in a different way, for acceptance, for recognition, for the things that he can never get with you. That’s the one part of him that you can never satisfy. None of you can. He always comes back to me for the one thing he wants, the one thing he craves, the one thing he can’t do without.’

She sits back in her chair. She hasn’t stopped smiling. Hatred distilled. It drips from her in large, black, sticky drops. She can’t stop the edge from creeping into her voice. She doesn’t even try.

‘Leave my husband. He is not yours, he never was, he never will be. I won’t give him up. Not after all this time, not after everything we have gone through. Tomorrow you will be gone, and he’ll find someone new. It doesn’t matter. It’s me he comes home to every night. And that’s something you will never have. So take my advice. Make it easy on yourself. Leave.’

I look at her. She seems eerily calm. She has finished saying what she came to say. Is she now waiting for me to say something? I open my mouth to speak.

‘D..’

‘Goodbye. Enjoy your lunch.’

She gets up and leaves the table. I watch her walking out of the restaurant. She gets into her car and drives away. She never once looks this way.

The cellphone rings. It’s Amar. I pick up.

‘Veda, listen, there’s been a crisis of sorts, I really can’t…’

‘Amar..’

‘Sort of an emergency, you understand…’

‘Amar…’

‘Nothing really that I can do, damned inconvenient, how about next week at…’

‘Amar!’

‘What?’

‘I just met your wife.’

Dead silence.

‘My wife?’

‘Yes.’

‘At the restaurant?’

‘Yes.’

‘Just now?’

‘Yes. Listen, that doesn’t matter. She came to me. The point is..’

‘How?! What did she say..’

‘Amar…’

‘She must have gone through my appointments book! That conniving, sneaky… she always…’

‘Amar!’

‘What?’

‘It doesn’t matter. I’m leaving you.’

‘Veda, don’t be stupid. I’m leaving her. She’s gone too far this time, I don’t care about anything else. It’s about time, I’m going to…’

‘Amar!’

‘What?!’

‘Goodbye.’

I hang up. The silence seems to have lifted. The couple at the other table are having an argument. He’s just received a phonecall. He has to leave. She’s pleading with him now. No, it can’t wait. He’s up already, and taken out his wallet. He lays a bundle of notes next to his unfinished meal. She places her hand on his sleeve; she tries once more. Pathetic. How women throw themselves at men who won’t have them. She sits at the table and watches his receding figure. He doesn’t turn back. She looks dejected.

Stupid bitch.

I look at the cellphone lying on the table. It’s ringing. Amar calling, the display reads. Useless piece of plastic and metal. I turn it off. I take off my eyeshades and raise one hand. The waiter catches my eye.

‘I think, I’ll have the chicken.’

Light. With two spoons of sugar


It had been three years now. Kaveri still wore black. Traditionally, widows in India wore white. But white had always been Hemant’s favorite color. When he first cast his eyes on her, she was clad in a white cotton saree. She was sweeping the front porch, bending and swooping, carefully clearing away the little clouds of dust that flew up as she moved her hand, back and forth, back and forth in that hypnotic motion. Every now and then, a stray lock of jet-black hair would fall across her eyes and she, without stopping the graceful sweeping movement of her arm, would bring the other arm out from behind her back and tuck the strand of hair behind her ear. She never once stopped sweeping. She hadn’t noticed he was there.

He was new to the city. Newly appointed headmaster of the school. The school was at the very end of the narrow lane; the taxi would not be able to go down it. So luggage in hand, Hemant stood on the front step and watched as Kaveri swept the porch clean. He meant to ask her where the school was. He ended up asking her to marry him instead. She was seventeen. He was thirty one.

Her parents were vehemently against it. She was still a child and he was far too old for her. They refused to discuss the matter. What a scandal! What a joke! But he was patient and he was sincere. He waited. They married within a year’s time.

They soon moved into their own house. The house was white; the walls were white, the curtains were white, even the bedspread was white. Her parents could not understand how they could live this way, without any color in their lives. But to Hemant, white wasn’t the absence of color, it was the only color, it was every color, it was pure and brilliant and intense. White. Kaveri wore black.

It was on her mother’s insistence in the end that Kaveri finally gave in. Kerala would be beautiful this time of the year. It would be raining and everything would be fresh and new and green. Her son would be going there in a week’s time and Kaveri could join him. It will be good for her. They will make all the arrangements, she needn’t worry that. For the first time in thirty years, Kaveri set off on a trip without her husband. She wore black.

Kerala was all that they said it would be. It was raining and everything was fresh and new and green. The resort was on a hill. Her rustic, thatched-roof villa was nestled within the thick woods. Room Number 43. Ajit would be staying in the new business hotel just a few minutes away. It was best this way. As much as she loved her son, Kaveri really just wanted to be alone for a while. She enjoyed her moments of solitude.

She was there for a month. At first, Ajit would either visit or call her every night. But he found it more and more difficult to get away from work and after the first week, she found herself eating her dinner in quiet solitude. She enjoyed these moments. She would head down to the hotel restaurant and sit in the table at the corner and watch the people rushing by. They were mostly tourists who stayed at the resort. There were lots of families, lots of young couples, even the odd group of businessmen. Nobody sat in the table in the corner. So that became her place and she would sit here and let it all seep in.

‘Could I join you?’

Kaveri was startled out of her reverie. He must have been in his twenties, probably a little older than her son. Or perhaps younger. He had a charming face; there was something very familiar about that smile. It reassured her. She smiled back. Yes, he could sit down.

‘I noticed you only wear black’

‘Have I? I’m so used to it I suppose. I don’t even notice anymore.’

‘But why the depressing color?’

‘It isn’t depressing. It is merely the absence of all color.’

He leaned back in his chair. There was that smile again. It crept into his eyes and made him look like a child. She pulled the pallu of her saree over her shoulders. They both sat back and enjoyed the comfortable silence. The diners were slowly beginning to leave, the restaurant was becoming sparse. The waiter hovered around their table, hoping to catch her eye. She raised her hand and motioned for the cheque.

‘Do you normally dine this late?’ she asked him.

‘Oh no, I come here quite early. But I like to linger for a while, watch the crowd rush by.’

‘That’s something we have in common then.’

The cheque had just arrived. She took out her purse and laid out the crisp notes side by side. She carefully calculated the tip and set that on top of the little pile of notes, neatly arranged like soldiers standing to attention.

‘I’ll walk you to your room’ he said.

She took his arm and they left together.

Room number 43. They were here. How short the walk was, she thought. She didn’t want to go in just yet. Her hand was still resting on his arm. She could feel the warmth of his skin through the thin white shirt.

‘Would you like to come inside? We could sit on the balcony’ she said.

He nodded. She opened the door and motioned for him to follow, switching on the balcony light as she walked past the door. It was raining outside; they would not be able to sit on the balcony after all. He sat on the edge of the bed.

‘Do you take sugar in your tea?’ she asked him

‘Yes. Light, with lots of milk’

She never drank tea. It was Hemant’s nightly ritual to have a cup just before he went to bed. She had been making it for him every night for thirty years. Light. With lots of milk and two spoons of sugar.

Kaveri handed the cup to him. She was holding it with both her hands, covering it completely with her palm. Not an inch showed through her tightly clasped fingers. He softly cupped his hands over hers. He let them linger, feeling the coolness of her skin press against his palm. And beneath that, the warmth of the liquid radiated through the porcelain cup.

Kaveri undraped her black saree.

They were lying in bed afterwards. He was looking at the fan overhead rotating slowly, his one arm gently stroking her waist, the other resting below her neck. She was curled onto her side, her face nestled against his chest. For the first time in three years, she allowed herself to cry. He stroked her hair and pulled her close as she buried her face in his shoulder and sobbed.

They met again the next evening. They shared a quiet dinner together and then he walked her to her room. He was always gone before she awoke.

It was on the third night. It was late. They were in bed together, her sleeping figure curled up beside him as usual, resting her head on his arm, him gently caressing her shoulder, when it started to rain outside. A light fine mist began to spray and then quickly turned into huge, wet drops that splashed the greenery outside. She was just stirring from her sleep. He covered her eyes and took her outside. What did she hear? It sounded like... Like pearls falling down marble steps. No, not pearls. These were different. Like fine grains of sand. She opened her eyes. It was the rain falling on a small metal lamp outside. There was a spout above where the water from the roof collected and fell in a steady stream upon the lamp. Ting ting ting. It sounded like bells.

She didn’t know who he was, whether he was married, what his name was, how old he was, what he was doing here. Those things seemed trivial. They spoke instead about the perfection of raindrops.

There was only one time when they referred to it. It was nearly the end of her month’s stay and Ajit was coming to see her. It could get very late, he warned, she was not to wait up for him. It was already past midnight and he would be arriving any moment now. Kaveri got up from the bed and went to the mirror. She started to paint her face. Her son was coming, she began. No, he softly replied, don’t spoil the illusion. He gathered his things and left the room.

The night before she left she wondered if she should say something. No, she thought, it was better this way. They lay there in each others arms that night and spoke of colors. White, he said, was every color that could ever be. But black was not merely the absence of color, it was the very negation of colors. It drained and sucked the life out of everything around it. He was still talking of colors when she drifted to sleep. The next morning he was gone before she awoke.

It was her last day and Ajit would be here soon. Kaveri got up and went to her suitcase. She took out the only white saree lying inside the sea of black. White, she thought, was every color that could ever be. She began to drape herself.

Her mourning was complete.

I can I will I should I must!


I have neglected my blog for far too long. Well, lots of reasons. Basically, no time. So whatever rare snatches of time I get, I write or read (well, try to anyway... dont even get me started on the backlog of movies and books and... sigh) I hope, to fix some day, maybe Sunday mornings, something, when I can set aside time just for blogging. And keep at it diligently.

Work has been good. Play, even better. But more on that later. I thought I'd rant about... er myself. And not posting anything here for a while but haven't really the time to rant. Heh.
Long story short, for now, shalt put up two stories that I'd written recent-ish. Still raw and need a LOT of edits, so shall be doing that in future. Editing the post as I get along. Anyway, without further ado.

Read em and weep. Or comment, if you cant weep.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Monday, January 8, 2007

Wise words


From the mundane, ariseth profundity. Or profanity, depending on how you look at it.

Weirdness begets more weirdness.

And from the seeds of spectactular lameness emergeth rapturous joy. Or something like it.

Do not discount theories. Anything may be true, nothing may be true. It is all we have. Theories. And books on neural networks.

Breathe. Feel. Think. Live.

Be.

And above all...

Create.

A work of craptastic proportions: UTPC Manual 11.34i


Picture this. It is Sunday evening and you are at a popular coffee pub in the city. The air conditioner set at a convenient sub-zero temperature for the pleasure of all the schoolgirls in white diaphanous tops, who constitute by the way approximately 99.997% of the coffee-pub going population. The rest incidentally, made up by sensibly sweater-clad camera-cellphones bearing schoolboys who have come to watch said girls in diaphanous white tops.

You find a suitably noisy place near the speaker blasting venga boys and strategically positioned near the shrillest girl in the room who is right now deep in intellectual conversation with her friends (Oh my gaaaawd, Shah Rukh Khan is so cute ya!!). You order from their fascinatingly wide-ranging menu. It proudly proclaims they have Belgian coffee, Viennese coffee, Ethiopian coffee, freetrade coffee, fair-trade coffee, A-grade coffee, nonbiode-grade coffee, coffee flavoured chocolate, coffee flavoured tea, tea flavoured coffee, tea flavoured coffee with chocolate, coffee that has been especially prepared by Kenyan coffee growers and flown thousands of miles across the globe, topped with chocolate tenderly airlifted from Switzerland and lying on a bed of ice made from the purest mineral water from the snowiest peaks of France and infused with milk from the finest specimen of a cow in the entire herd of one that Mr.Gondaswamirajagopalacharulingam the milkman across the street owns. And all you need to do is auction a small portion of your ancestral property for that delectable cup of steaming liquid. Quite a bargain I’d say for something of incalculable cultural and geographical importance.

Once you have finally decided to settle for a cup of…. Coffee (Wow, you like to live life on the edge don’t you? Coffee. Gee, whatever will you do next, ask for a stirrer?) You may then blissfully sip through your ice-laced straw your ice cold coffee with crushed iced, generously sprinkled with ice shavings and served in frosted glass while slowly losing sensation in the right side of your body. An experience not to be missed.

After sufficient time soaking in the am-bay-yonce, that’s what they call it these days, as any convent-educated chick worth her airlifted-free-trade-salt will tell you, you realize to your absolute amazement that for some strange reason you seem to have an uncontrollable urge to pee. Ah must’ve been all that distilled glacial ice water from the snowy peaks of Alps. Damned Frenchies, should’ve known you couldn’t trust them.

Now comes the most perilous part of the entire exercise. Using The Public Convenience or UTPC as it is known in certain circles. UTPC is not something to be taken lightly. It is a serious craft, a technique perfected after years of practice. A good User of The Public Convenience (also named UTPC, betraying their rather warped sense of toilet humour) will enjoy the dubious distinction of being able to go anywhere. People on the street will point at him and remark, ah there goeth a man who will go places. And he will. Anywhere and everywhere with no reservations whatsoever. Such is the power he shields. Behold the UTPC, not to be mistaken with the MOPN, Makers of Public Nuisance, a very similar breed but lacking somewhat in the finer nuances of the art form.

For the first timer, Using The Public Convenience will be a daunting task and with good reason. It is an event of monumental peril. For the benefit of Novices In The Wise-use of Indoor Toilets (NITWIT) everywhere, I shall outline here the proper way to UTPC, reproduced with permission from the UTPC manual edition 11.34i.

First, ask staff where be the dreaded place. Do not be dismayed when he empathically points towards the backdoor exit effectively indicating that you remove yourself from premises for venturing to ask such a blasphemous question. He is merely pointing out to you that the abode you seek is appropriately located at the most deserted locale in the entire city. If you are in luck, you will find arrows and signposts for the benefit of the spatially challenged. These will invariably take you along a trajectory motion that has you going over every inch of free floorspace at least three times in either direction so that not even the mouse hidden in the third shelf of the coffee cupboard has any doubt as to your destination and purpose of visit.

Once you find yourself face to face with the great wooden barrier, adorned with the innocuous looking M or W or figurine, take a deep breath, hold it in, turn the doorknob and walk inside. Once inside, you will find a small rusty latch barely capable of fastening two sheets of paper, much less locking a supposedly sturdy wooden door. Nevertheless, you have no choice but to rely on this small piece of equipment entrusted with the noble task of safeguarding your modesty from the hundred-kg six-footer frantically pounding on the already splintered wooden door. As you have already guessed, being a UTPC calls for enormous reserves of strength and willpower. And faith.

Now, fish out the pack of tissues that you had the presence of mind to pack in your bag and use it to lock the door, taking care not to let any part of your anatomy make contact with the latch. The reason for this exercise shall be revealed later. For now, yours is not to question why, yours is but to do or die.

The WC. Assuming that the coffee pub is a place of reasonably decentish reputation, it will boast of an apparatus befitting its international clientele. Ay, therein lies the rub. The problem with this sort of advanced equipment is the inescapable act of making contact with the germ infested seat, a teeming hotbed of bacteria and various fungi diseases no doubt rubbed off from the hordes of posteriors past, not so well-versed in the fine art of UTPC. A daunting problem for the totally clueless, but not for you, the well-informed reader.

With the utmost cautiousness, fish out another wad of tissues from your bag and use to tear off the first 3.4 metres of the toilet roll. Oh yes, it LOOKS clean but who knows what microscopic orgies are taking place as we speak on that seemingly G-rated white strip of paper. To be on the safe side, tear off 3.45 metres of the strip and hygienically discard. The rest is what constitutes the usable portion of the roll.

With the entire surface area of the toilet seat covered in paper, which by the way you have handled only through a buffer layer of your own wad of tissues, fashioned into a makeshift glove by now, you may now proceed to perform the trickiest part of this entire task. The actual mechanics of the act under discussion are beyond the scope of this manual and so will be left to the interested reader to pursue at his leisure, if he be so inclined. Having thus safeguarded yourself from any unpleasant contamination, you may proceed to do your business in peace, remembering of course, that the entire exercise of lining the seat was merely a precautionary measure and that an experienced UTPC will endeavor to perform a series of acrobatic maneuvers that shall leave him delicately poised approximately six inches from the actual object under question. Depending on one’s positional tactics, flexibility and aiming skill, he may adjust the gap to something more suitable although it is strongly recommended that one maintains no less than the industry standard of four inches. After much scientific research and experimentation, experts believe that this is the minimum allowance of gap required for an optimum performance. This may be regarded as too less by the beginner but more experienced users will tell you that it is not the length that matters but the technique of usage.

Now that the worst is over, you may heave a sigh of relief and reach for the… aha, caught you! Cease and desist at once. The first-time user will undoubtedly make the mistake of letting down his guard, assuming that the act is over and that the danger has passed. A catastrophic folly. Do not be caught unawares, with the proverbial pants down as it were. Before you reach out for that seemingly innocent knob, take a moment to pause and consider the countless strangers with questionable hygiene habits who have stood before, poised in the exact pose with outstretched hand precariously positioned inches away from The Knob, bearing the dried remains of a hundred thousand possibly venereal-diseased sanitary-challenged Neanderthals.
Be afraid, be very afraid.

Slowly remove yourself from the vicinity, taking utmost care not to disturb the air around it, position self on one leg and hit The Knob with boot-clad foot of other leg. Using same procedure, meticulously wrap faucet in shroud of tissue before turning it to wash hands. The reader will do well to remember that the latch is to be treated with the same air of suspicion and mistrust, thanks to the alarming number of hygiene-impaired individuals who do not wash their hands after use.

Now that you have safely exited the area of peril, unscathed (one would hope), breathe. And now, on to the task of dealing with certain door-pounding individuals of giant-proportions. Such topics sadly are beyond the scope of discussion. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Random ramblings at ten past one in the AM


Pain is beautiful.

The greatest invention ever is probably not the wheel, not sliced bread, but the slinky.

What I want more than anything else right now is a tall glass of iced litchi juice and a balcony with a wooden chair, comfortable footstool, a shawl and a full moon.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Guttersberg Address


This be from the pantomime. Well, almost. Was scrapped for lack of time and whatnot. Ah so, I reproduce it here for your reading pleasure (humour me.)

Note: I was a rat/mouse in the panto... Speedy Gonzalves, to be precise. Read it and weep.

--Guttersberg address--

Friends, ratmen, countrymice, Lend me your ears and I’ll squeak with fright about the noble ratrace and its sorry plight.

Yesterday, December X 2006, a day which will live in infamy. The Ratpublic of Mehico was suddenly and delibeRATly attacked by the mosquito air forces of Count Parasito.
He has been hunting our ratizens for years now. Luring them with the poisonous fumes of rotting Ratlette cheese, trapping them with his rat-traps and keeping them in cramped, dirty cages… (PETA wherefort art thou?!) Our noble heratage ratduced to mere labrats for experimentation to make his breed of mosquitoes stronger. Mosquitoes!

And they call us dirty. Rats, who are the cleanest animals in the whole animal kingdom. They chase us out of ratserants when all we are looking for is just a little fine cheese and wine. ‘Get out you dirty rat! Rats of admission reserved. Can’t you read?’ Ah! The fall of the noble ratline.
Even as we squeak, another rat bites the dust. In schools, all over the world, they are slicing, dicing, dissecting our fellow ratizens in the name of education. Hey teacher, leave them rats alone! All in all you’re just another face at the ball.

We dare not forget that we are the heirs of that first ratvolution. Let the squeak go forth from this time and place to friend and foe alike, that the cheese has been passed to a new generation of ratizens.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. Let freedom ring from the gallows crowded with caged labrats, let freedom ring from the highest roof riddled with rattraps, let freedom ring from the dark recesses of the refrigerator where the noxious fumes of ratsenberg cheese call us to our doom.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our ratponsibilities, and so bear ourselves that, if the Ratpublic and its Commonmousewealth last for a thousand years, rats will say ‘This was their finest hour’.

---

And due credit to Tybolt, my sinspiration. Almost.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Falling asleep with another


A thing of pure joy.

Legs entwined, his arm finding its way around your waist, pulling you into him, lying on your side, your back curved, his breath upon your neck. Breathing in breathing out. Together. In sync.

Sleep creeps in, treading slowly and softly. You and him, sinking deeper and deeper with every step. You, filled with a singular emotion. Bliss.

Falling asleep


With a woman.

To hug and drift into sleep together. Delightful creatures, soft and fragrant smelling... but different.

They nestle razor blades within the petals.

Time and Memories.


Time is a straight line. It flows on relentlessly, with no beginning and no end. Perfect. Smooth. Sharp. Void of color and light. Like huge wavery shadows that have been distilled over and over to produce a single drop of pure essenzia de non-light. Time slices through the endlessness of space, permeating every crevice and connecting the millions of fragile stories growing wings and taking flight every second, every moment, every unit of time. If time could have a unit.

Memories ebb and flow. They are the waves that play on the beach of your consciousness. Soft, white frothy things that gently nudge you out of your mindless mundaneness and take you down a path of grey, cloudy rememberlings. Wisps of a half-forgotten scent. The faded remains of conversations had long ago. A face. A sigh. Memories.

They share a delicately balanced marriage. Memories, gentle feather-like things, entwined with the cold brutal solidity of time for eternity. One moving forward relentlessly into space and the other loosely wound in the lightest of embraces. The strongest of bonds.

One slicing and separating the unseparable into smaller and smaller units. Past. Present. Future. Hour. Minute. Second. Milli. Micro. Nano… The other flowing into them all with joyous abandon, spilling into everything, carrying the grains of one into the others, like a river that carries the mud from everyplace it flows through to make its own soft underbelly. Tempered by land, colored by soil. Silt. Riverbed. Memories.

Constant.
Flowing.
Solid.
Everchanging.
Rain running down a steel pole.
Gossamer cast over barbedwire.
Wedded together. For Ever.

Past experience. Is it something that has happened at an earlier point in time, that is no longer happening, and that you have put in a small wooden box tucked away in a safe quiet bylane of your mind? Labelled and categorized, perhaps color coded… When where who why w w w… and lessons learnt, bulleted and numbered.

But lessons learnt are lessons gleamed from past experiences, the little glittery residue that remains after the winged thoughtlets have darted across your mind. Like the cloud of dust that settles long after Roadrunner has sped away. It doesn't take much. A word, a question, an image perhaps. Memories, that spur thoughts at the most inopportunte moments and make you, well, think. Everytime they emerge, leading you down a new path, a narrow dirtroad carefully hidden among the trees, that you discover by chance and walk down, not knowing where it may take you.

To dredge up a ghost of the past is to color it, again, with your thoughts. Reliving the past through the present, standing behind the giant glasspane, watching the story of your life unfold, noticing things that you hadn’t before, adding pieces to it from behind the glasspane... Work in Progress. Caution:Floor Wet... You add them all, stirring in all the little stories that emerged, picking up and throwing away the older thoughts that have outlived their existence, abandoning and adding, tossing and turning, stirring and churning till all the lumps settle. Somewhat. Then you place it back in its box and tuck it away.

And through it all, time goes on. And on. And on. Tick. Tock.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

SMSpeakV2.0


Me: M waiting. Where be thee?
Her: Who's M?
Me: M is mystery. M is the magical, mythical creature that marauds the streets at night. M is mockturnal. M mocking you. M is simply am shortened to suit sms standards.
Her: Ah.
-------
Happy new year. Tis January, Lav's back. Almost.