Thursday, 24 December 2009

"I didn't steal it!"

After a spate of serious posts, I have to break off! And what better time than when Christmas is around? Apart from the promise it holds in the form of cakes, goodies, Saint Nicholas and well... mistletoe, Christmas tales have always held me rapt with attention! From Christmas Carol and ol' Ebenezer "Humbug" Scrooge to 'Home Alone', I've found them all rather interesting. Here, I refer to the greatest Christmas villain of all time - The Grinch (who stole Christmas) - Thank you, Dr. Seuss. Thank you, Chuck Jones. Well, I happen to think he wasn't that bad after all!

The boys and girls of the world
Have all heard about the Grinch
Through the lies, which have been told;
Tales of evil which made them cringe.

“He is Green! And he is mean!”
In his town, they cried, aghast
They ran away when he was seen
And they ran really, really fast!

But this li’l boy called Grinch
Had problems, few too many
His heart was small, by thrice an inch
He was green; he looked real funny.

He was shunned, by one and all
The brats hated him real bad
Finally, he ran away one fall
His eyes were moist; he was sad.

Running up the hill, to his lonely dwelling;
(A shack, high up amidst the mist)
With his books, he sat there thinking
For few knew he was a secret Environmentalist.

‘Tis where the terrible lie starts
The tallest stories ever told.
They called him a loner! Unbelievable twats!
They said his heart was small and cold!

Today, I'd have them put behind bars:
(1) For ridiculing physical handicaps
(2) For perpetrating such abominable farce
(3) For introducing into the society- Gaps.

Poor Grinch didn’t like trees being chopped
Nor did he permit animals slain
He cried out loud when plants were topped
To eat only vegetables, he did train.

He was Green, as the World’s never seen
He’d have made Copenhagen* proud
But they said that Green was Mean;
And a Villain, they proclaimed him loud!

Then came the cold; December and fests!
(There were no Room-Heaters back then)
What the brats did next, you never will guess
For these boys were savage, wicked men.

‘Global warming’ was a concept, new
But alas, these kids had learnt of it!
To use it, they proceeded – these few
And with axes – the trees, they hit.

“They’re for Christmas,” they said, at ease.
(Only you and I know what they’d planned)
Robed like Claus, they chopped off trees
Causing in Winter, warmer land!

What’s worse? To celebrate this feat,
The scoundrels demanded gargantuan meals
Featuring dressed-Turkeys, head to feet
And Chicken, Caviar, Crabs and Eels.

Our Green hero, no doubt, alarmed
Set out for Town, down the hill.
He didn’t want his Nature harmed;
He would save them from the kill!

Dressed as Claus, he rode at night;
As his companion, was his dog
He then slid, into their chimneys, light
And climbed out with their Christmas log.

One by one, he did each house
And calmly, meticulously cured the town.
Then – silently, like a mouse
He ran the hill, up from down.

Morning came and obviously, tempers flared
They spoke about “The Grinch who stole Christmas!”
Charging up the hill, they said, “Do you want your life still spared?!”
“Return our trees, then… without a fuss!”

“But… Christmas is about the spirit,” said Green,
“It’s about sharing, caring, joy and all!”
“Oh! Cut the crap! You’re just jealous and mean
You green creature!” retorted all.

“We all know it’s about trees!
It’s about cakes and pastries and wine!
And the turkeys – minus their fleas…
Just return the trees. And we’ll do dandy fine!”

This is when the story hits a rather abrupt end
An enigma – so unfortunate, is it not?
We’ll never ever know what really happened!
Was our Green hero ever caught?!

But let him not be known from here
As a criminal, but a martyr great!
A Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year,
Together, let us all celebrate!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

Aeroplanes amaze me. Three hours and bang! Everything has changed. The gradual change of climate is simply done away with, the intermittent linking cultures obliterated and landforms simply restructured. All the while, you are sitting unawares wondering why that simple Vegetable sandwich cost so much.

I am home now; and I am glad. I have accomplished the task of enduring a day of wandering through the length of our country, only to find myself astonished yet another time by the immense diversity of our nation. While Gandhi employed the steam engine on his tour around the land to comprehend the sheer magnitude of cultural wealth India possesses, I am sure he would have been far more bewildered had he taken a flight like I did, thus highlighting these stark contrasts. Here is a tale of two cities (I omit the town) which I encounter, three hours off each other; each time I take the ride home.

The massive cash inflow into the DDA’s coffers is only apparent in the speed at which the pillars rise. The Commonwealth Games have given Delhi’s development a mammoth boost which, all going well, must give the Capital infrastructure close the World’s best cities. The weird aspect however remains the fact that the mighty Mughal capital has waited until 2010 to grow into a global city. I have often wondered what Delhi-ites were doing prior to their magic-Metro. With an abysmal bus-service which is known to kill more people than it transports and immensely congested roads inhabited by colossal vehicles, I’m amazed people even worked!

On the other hand, the land of the Tamil people has been rather supportive to its growing population. With an impeccable bus-service and omnipresent autos, albeit charging exorbitant fares to the unwitting Northie, coupled with much less clogged roads as compared to any of the other Big4, it has never been a problem to traverse the lengths of the seaside city. Another fact is that each area of Chennai is more-or-less self contained, something I never saw during my ephemeral life in Delhi. Call it Boon – owing to lesser travel necessity – or Bane – as each man sees so much less of his City, it remains an intrinsic fact.

With mighty pillars, strong and bold, each overpass seems to underline that power which Delhi so much wants to flaunt. Malls rising out of every nook and cranny; retail chains spreading like Virus; and more asphalt, steel and cement, only make apparent the Capital’s urgency to let go of those chains which restrain it. These, however are also those ropes which link Today with the past. Delhi is letting go.

On the other hand, the maritime city, 20oC warmer, is hell-bent on holding on. The outlook is cautious; and though development will not be overlooked, no one seems to be in a hurry to shed the present image. Malls are few; the few stand tall. Anything built overhead is with miniscule pillars, built as excuses for Flyovers. Buildings rise, not as cement monsters but behemoths of steel and glass. Rayban, Ferrari and Gucci are taking their own time trickling down the rungs of society; much unlike 1000 miles away, where Connaught Place boasts of a mini Manhattan - people trying all too hard to don the image of the quintessential New-Yorker. But the cautious outlook down South borders on bourgeois, leaving me reeling in alarm.

While T-Shirts and Jeans have become unisex themes of Delhi, Chennai finds itself yet a melange of tees, shirts, saris, salwars, jeans, trousers and veshtis – maybe not the collegiate dream. While Delhi has jumped into hyperspace drive; still the temple of the Theist, Chennai somehow seems to encompass the past, present and the future, . IT corridors have slashed open the newest avenues of growth and the coast may soon serve as the Auto-hub of India, while Parthasarthy and Kapaleeshwarar shrines and the Santhome church will forever remain the heart of Chennai.

NCR is growing at light-speed, breaking every record it sets; but as a friend aptly pointed out – 75% of Delhi is well-developed, great; but 50% of its people still suffer for bread. I’m uncertain about the below poverty ratios of Chennai, but the far fewer less endowed settlements are evenly spaced out, clearly visible to the naked eye; not latent. However, the steps taken both here, and there, are encouraging. The Delhi Metro has me overawed, but I cannot imagine life without my beloved ‘29C’!

I’m definitely against Karunanidhi in his unintelligent calls for protecting what he calls ‘Tamizh Kalacharam’, but maybe there is something in me that wants to hold on. This is not a sermon, and I do not preach. Neither approach is better than the other, neither easier to accomplish. I shall terminate with Anthony’s great words – “Take thou what course thou wilt.”

Friday, 18 December 2009

Winter Rank

Christmas break is around the corner again. New year parties, albeit beguiling with great promise, as usual, will be missed out on, yet again, by us R-fools who, so desperately, rush back so as to save up on an extra-form and a few hundred bucks! I can almost see those stars and bells hung on every other household's front balcony. 2009 has behaved well and deserves a pat on the back. Holiday FB activity, as you normally expect, is on a high. Blogs are overflowing, again. Then what's different, one may ask. Well, a few things to say the least.

For starters, its been a while since we have managed to retain the lead on the top of the table at the break. My fingers are crossed. More importantly, I'm still stuck here in R, wondering when I'll get back home, reunited with Rasam, Dosais and Appalam. This winter has started off weirdly, to put things lightly. Nevertheless, Winter remains my favourite season of the year, ever since I was introduced to the concept two years ago. Here are five things which never change - things I'll always love about winter.

(1) The Fog: It delays flights, alright. But its one of the things I look forward to. The sheet of white takes me all the way back to my Scooby Doo days. At the stroke of half-beyond-six, bro, I and a handful of munchables used to plonk ourselves in front of the Tele singing for 'Scooby Dooby Doo - Where Are You?' There were times when Shaggy would take out a knife and cut a hole in the fog. The great mist takes me back to those days!

(2) The Girls: While 'Kingfisher's Swimsuit Model of the Year' contest will have you disagree strongly with my opinion, I remain constant. Winter is the best time for Girl-watching. The fairer gender turn all the more fair and the glowing cheeks make the wait worthwhile. Well, some might try chastising me with a reminder about the place we dwell in. Well, all observations are relative and after all, the multiplexes are just a bus-ride away. Yes, Girls definitely make Winter worthwhile.

(3) The Baths: These are privileges which come at a premium, few and far between, but remain one of the glorious aspects of Winter. While the icy air looms ominously as a powerful impediment, the hot steaming water transports you to warmer climes. You splash yourself and lo! - the perfect combination of Yin and Yang; much like fried ice-cream! The best part, however, remains the smoke emanating from the pores of your epidermis - when you resemble a sizzling brownie.

(4) The Coffee: Caffeine is a killer. While most people intoxicated by the roasted beans strongly detest Tea, or vice versa, my preferences aren't that strong. Nevertheless, I've never for once thought that the gentle leaves of the slopes could ever match the zing of the power-packed berries of the coffee shrubs. And come Winter, it's effect becomes all the more profound. I would bear sub-zero just for the coffee!

(5) The Sleep: While it would be sacrilegious and profane to speak (4) and (5) in the same breath, such are the funny ways of Father Frost. The weight of a heavy blanket, a broken alarm clock and a cunningly cold Sunday morning can combine in ways which would put every other pleasure to shame! The sweet arms of Morpheus are never this kind!

Friday, 11 December 2009


Arun's status message on FB (paraphrased): "Our life is like a fraction; The numerator being what we are... And the denominator being what we want to be." Do your arithmetic.

My wing emptied itself out today, leaving Yours Truly as the sole company for dear ole Pink-punk. The cold wind blows through the hollow corridors as I find emptiness within...

While my neighbour pines for company, I must tell you I'm enjoying it. Simple astrology would tell you that it is but an expected trait of a Virgin, not because they are loners but because it gives time to reflect. To ponder. And it was during one of these bouts, in the afternoon, when I began to wonder about that 'Denominator', in my life. A rather disheartening picture crept up, with life tending to null and void. Feeling rather dispirited already, I walked out of S-7's safety into the open second-floor corridor... That was when it hit me. The reason why I was, all of a sudden, thinking about life as a fraction hit me hard. It was the same reason why my corridor is all but empty.

I am, generally, rather content with my routine, my achievements (whatever measly total they amount to) and my goals. But come December, I start feeling that vacuum again. Last year's Chennai and this year's Kanpur leave me estranged. The answer's cold hand slaps me across the face. This happens to be just the tip of a massive iceberg.

When I was in the fifth grade, I was introduced to the world of Classical music. I barely understood it then; I love it now, but without understanding. Then, in Standard Seven, I began to learn the keyboard and the 'Casio' entered my life. For three years it stayed; years when it would sing in harmony with my vocal chords. Incidentally, it was also Class VII when I began 'Tennis'. The coach liked me; 'vice-versa' not being applicable. Soon, I began Volleyball lessons in school. I wasn't nearly the best, but fast improving. I still boast of the one certificate I managed out of it in my résumé! I loved Cricket as a playing sport and I wouldn't be boasting if I said I was the best Batsman and Spinner within a few blocks' vicinity. Then.

It was when I began Volleyball, that I gave up on the tennis coaching. And then weirdly enough, I dropped Volleyball as it bored me! The Casio stopped singing to my fingers' dance almost in sync with my larynx's reluctance to produce melody. It was Standard X. Cricket lived on in my blood. Football grew on me. Then, I reached IITR. They both hit 'Pause'.

You realize the pain of failure when your denominator is so large. When you dream of doing great things, each setback is like a spear through the heart. Worse, however, is the pain of not being able to fail! Just because you gave up too early. I still can sketch brilliantly (can't say the same about painting) but I don't. I can sing. I don't. I could relearn the keyboard. I won't. Tennis exited my life early, though I'd have loved to go on. I almost made NSO with 'Volleyball'. I simply never visited the courts again! Life seems to have sapped me of Cricket. It all seems late now. I have a long way to go in order to become finite once more. All I do is crib. And write.

Friday, 4 December 2009


Often have I wondered what makes one afraid of something. What is it which tells us what is worth being frightened of and what isn't? What makes us fear those heights when we peer down a 20 floor chasm from the top of a building, even when we are completely sure of being in control of ourselves? Why, albeit thoroughly convinced by science and its gospels, one can still not conclusively rule out Spirits... And why on earth would one fear a well grown cockroach?!

While snakes and tigers make reasonably fear-worthy animals, why should one be afraid of a harmless rat or worse, a spider, escapes my cerebral capacity. The range of phobias thus, unsurprisingly enough, encompasses the entire range from the logical poisons (Io-) to the rather obvious (Lilapsophobia for hurricanes and tornadoes) and the enigmatic (Apeiro- for 'Fear of infinity'). That a word should exist for Fear of beautiful women - Caligynephobia - leaves me flabbergasted!

While certain fears are imbibed in children for their own protection (like that for 'heights' and 'fire'), one usually outgrows these. Some, however, stay with you. I have admitted to this in the past and I feel rather unashamed when I say that the things I fear in this world includes the 'Dark' -Yes, so much, that I have dedicated this post to its awesome force. I would, in fact, go as far as to say that that it nearly tops the list of 'Things To Be Afraid Of'.

Sometimes, people look into my room at 3 a.m. in the morning and laugh at the fact that I have slept with my lights on, while ever so gently envying the fact that I can sleep amidst the brightest of lights and the loudest of sounds. Even I wonder, at times, how my laptop doesn't fall off the bed or at least succumb to a mighty blow rendered by my sleepy arm, but that's digressing from the topic.

While my sleeping is an involuntary action and I doze off while commenting on FB or reading an article on Soccernet, I have come to learn that people's general perception of Morpheus is quite different. While many stare for hours at their ceilings or even mull over the events of previous day or worse, plan their future; when I hit the bed, it's more like the bed hitting me. I sleep dreamless sleeps, which makes me feel I'm missing out on a rather important aspect of life. But when I sleep, I sleep. Then again, I hate staring at the ceiling in a perfectly pitch dark room... I know this sounds stupid, but who knows what might happen!

If there's something worse than the dark itself, it is closing your eyes in the dark! You know you cannot see anything with them open anyway, but you don't want them closed! It may be weird, but that's the way it is... It is comforting, however, to hear people admit that they fear Blackness in open places, at least. Go sit in an empty cinema hall when the lights are out and I'll see if you come out fifteen minutes later.

It all comes down to two lines, so beautifully penned by Steve Harris:

When the lights begin to change, I feel a little strange. A little anxious when it's dark...
I have a constant fear that something's always near. I have a phobia that someone's always there. Fear of the Dark!

Well, It's almost morning now. And I'm turning off the lights.