Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Ten Greatest Fictional Universes Ever

Sometimes, this life doesn't feel enough. It's fun, it's beautiful and all that... But once in a while, we wonder if there's a better place, a better life, waiting for us somewhere. Well, I wouldn't trade my life for anything, but these are the ten worlds I'd love to be in. Ten greatest fictional worlds I've come across:

10. BERK:
Who wouldn't want to live with big burly vikings, drink yak milk and pillage villages for fun? Here, I can sail. And I can fly!
"This is Berk. It snows nine months of the year and hails the other three. What little food grows here is tough, and tasteless. The people that grow here, even more so. The only upsides are the pets. While other places have ponies, and parrots, we have dragons!"
Watch the movie.

It's my life's ambition to meet a real-life super-Saiyyan. That, and Piccolo's makankosappo (or Special Beam Cannon) means that Goku, Bulma and company find their place in the list at number nine.
Come get me!!

Yes, more superheroes! While Bruce Wayne's Gotham alone is worth experiencing, one finds the city devoid of The Green Lantern, J'onn J'onzz and The Flash. So yes, wherever the JL go, I'd like to go with them.
Note 1: Superman is gay: the only eyesore in an otherwise perfect universe.
Note 2: More than offsetting this problem, we'll have Wonder Woman. And she is...

7. ARDA:
Being one of the most elaborately designed worlds ever (the Mahabharata isn't really fiction), not wanting to live in Middle Earth and, later, Valinor should be considered a criminal offence! Silmarils, rings and legendary swords... I'm probably doing Tolkien grave injustice by relegating the world to number se7en.

As a matter of policy, I dislike God-interference. Some plots become murkier and murkier until one stage a solution seems impossible, when Presto! An impossible ending is conjured out of nowhere and all is well. These story-lines just don't make sense! However, there are two exceptions to this rule: 1. My life and 2. A Wodehouse novel.
Jeeves is a genius.

Even though I consider Rowling a highly unoriginal author, I'm a sucker for this world. Come on! 'Wands and Wizards' - there's no way in hell I'd say no to that! Besides, house-elves could do all my work.
(For the record, I prefer elves who tall, beautiful warriors to the sycophantic elves.)

Blistering barnacles, of course! Tintin, Snowy and the cap'n almost skipped my mind entirely... I'd love to gallivant Borduria, Sydavia and places as far away as the Moon. This one comes above Wands and Wizards!

Moonface, Silky the fairy, Dame Washalot, Mister Whatizname, Saucepan Man and the Angry Pixie... Need I say more? What worse could happen to me here than missing the hole back to the tree! Enchanting, yes! And one of the happiest worlds I've lived in as a kid.

Light sabers. Need I say more?

There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no death, there is the Force.

A quintessential Friends group and the bittersweet symphony of Life. The most real, happy place I've ever had the fortune of coming across! Thank you, David Crane and Marta Kauffman for redefining happiness and laughter.
I'll be there for you...
'Cuz you're there for me too.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

One Last Breath

Greyness descended upon him even as his vision blurred. Colours seemed to fade away, as grass merged with dusty earth, in a cold steel grey. The pool of blood appeared black from where he stood. Once again, he crouched behind the makeshift wall to protect himself from sheets of savage arrows. Faces in the wall were a grim reminder of the dead who now constituted it: once his comrades and brothers, they now stared back through empty eyes. With swords in arms, they had all perished in the front-lines and now, in death, they protected him. They would not get a decent burial but dishonour and indignity are rarely felt by the dead.

A man enters a battle in fear, charged with adrenalin... but by the end, he is drained of energy and of tears. And he is fueled by unparalleled courage.

From his breastplate, he pulled out the shaft which had sought him out from behind the wall. The arrowhead smelled of his blood. He rubbed his wound; it did not hurt. He was alone and Death was near. He had sliced and cut his way here with his bloody broadsword before he had been sapped of his strength. He was alone in a losing battle now.

What is fear?

He picked up a fallen bow, instantly recognizing it, but thought not of its previous owner. With a final burst of energy, he sprang up from the dirt. With his one bloody shaft, he armed his bow. He could kill one more man. Through a cloud of approaching arrows, he spotted the chariot. A deep breath filled his lungs, as last breaths often do. He steadied his arms and squinted through the blur. The arrows descended upon him and they sliced through his chain-mail. Blood flowed freely now, even as he imagined that they had entirely missed their target.

He managed a final chuckle and let the arrow fly.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Old Man & The Pot

The mud track took one last turn around the hill, and a smile vanquished the last of those fretful lines upon his face. The boy, tired as he was, was finally nearing the end of his almighty quest. The meandering road had taken him through several villages and shanties, over treacherous rope-ways and some insanely beautiful scenery. But he was glad that it was all over now, for his legs: they were pumping acid; and his vision was blurring from fatigue. And thus, he threw himself around the bend with whatever energy was left in him, unconsumed.

Voila! The sight he beheld astonished him as much as it bewildered his senses, for beauty in its most consummate form can hold one in a trance forever; he held the vision in veneration and fear. The trees were taller than many mountains he had seen in his life and they were richer than the richest of kings. Snowflakes, like little stars, floated down through their almighty canopy into the bursting stream which ran down the hill. And in front of him was the most queer looking house, made of logs and bricks and stone - and yet it didn't look out of place.

He was rejuvenated by the glorious sight and he felt like he could run all the way to the house. For it was for the house that he had undertaken this perilous trip once again. Memories of his previous encounters with the wizened inhabitant of the house flooded his thoughts. It had been two years now...

* * *

"Welcome, welcome..." the old man had said, stroking his flowing beard. “What must I owe this delightful honour to? Not many lads come by these days," he had sighed.

"N… nothing sir..." the boy had stammered. “ I am merely an admirer of nature... and a lover of unadulterated beauty.”

"Oh, come now... Let me boil you some tea," the man had said, as he ushered the boy into his austere dwelling. "But you don't have to lie. I know why you have come. I know why all boys come!"

Then he had meticulously boiled the tealeaves in a large kettle and he had returned to the boy's beside only when he carried two mugs of tea.

"Sip on it when it's hot," he had commanded and the boy had obeyed. All of a sudden, he had found himself fully strong: renewed. The old man then posed the question: "Now that you are better, tell me... What are you willing to trade? I know that you have come for the Pot."

"Trade?!" the boy remembered himself faltering, shocked by the old-man's deduction.

"Of course... A trade! It's only fair, isn't it? And how is it you don't know about the trade?!" He had asked. The man seemed menacing now; no longer friendly and definitely not affable. "The pot isn't free of cost. What will you give me in exchange for the pot?"

"I have some gold...?"

"GOLD!" He had laughed, but without mirth. "You can keep that! It is worthless to me. I am looking for something far more precious."

The boy had stayed silent. The old man had played this game far too many times to lose at it. He always won. Every lad eventually gave in! They all knew that their lives would remain miserable without the pot. It was their only way out!

"You know what it is..." he said, slowly. “I know you lead a wretched life! You have nothing more than a pocketful of gold... You believe Life is unjust to you and you have come to me. But you have something I can trade the Pot for..."

The boy had stared mutely.

"Your dreams, your heart! Your soul..." The man went on. "I am willing to trade."

"My heart is mine to keep and mine alone to give. One cannot forcibly claim it. My dreams serve me as an infinite staircase to eternal glory... If you want me to trade that, you are fooling yourself sir. I might be poor, destitute, distraught and ill-omened, but I'm willing to walk back home empty handed. There will be no trade today. Now, will you give me the pot? Or must I walk?"

The man had then smiled, like he had smiled before. "Bravo, boy! Bravo..." He had cried, for never before had he listened to such words. People, usually, willingly submitted. “For you lad, free of cost!” And he conjured a small earthen pot out of thin air. "Just promise me that you will never trade. Otherwise you are not worthy of the Pot."

* * *

The boy was once again at the door of the strange tenement, and he stood on the threshold staring at the large oak door. He had once sworn to himself that he would never make this trip again. And now, he was here. He had promised never to trade, even for something he valued as much as the pot. His life had dramatically improved ever since he had sipped some of its magic. And Life had become fair and beautiful and lovely and grand. For two long years, he had ruled his world, but now he found his pot empty. He felt things would go awry once again. He was afraid: afraid to lose it all and return to square one. He felt now like it was worth a trade.

Suddenly, the door sprang open. But there was no old man this time: in his stead was a little boy.

"What do you want, friend," he asked to which the traveller replied that he had come to see the old man.

The boy looked sad now, and he replied: "You have come to meet grandpa! If only you had come sooner... He forgot to take his daily sip yesterday. I'm afraid he's no longer with us!"

The traveller stared aghast.

"Yes," nodded the grandson solemnly. "Grandpa used to sell Luck."

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Senti Mental

Another lazy morning reminds me that the calendar has turned yet another page in what has been a semester of erratic fortunes. The mellow light filtering in through the dusty mesh covering my window reminds me that the newspaperman will be here soon with his pricy Hindu newspaper. I remind myself to go to the ATM to forage enough cash to pay him off; that is when yesterday's copy of the paper reminds me that I haven't done justice to it.

I lift it off my side table meticulously, without disturbing myriad other things which lie beside it, and I discover day-before-yesterday's paper below it. I chastise myself for my shameless habit of not reading-up current-affairs, only to discover that my wrath is ill-directed. For I'm not really angry at myself for not reading the latest on the 2G scam, but for the fact that I let these things lie around.

I remember my mom admonishing me as a kid, when I refused to part with toys of yore, "Throw them out, son!" But I did nothing of that sort. I used to secretly stash them in the corner of my shelf along with the other stuff I couldn't bear to part with - books, worn-out crayons, old clothes and other stochastic paraphernalia. I knew that mom would find them out one day and then destroy them all with one cold-blooded swipe. But that never really hurt me, as I wouldn't know about it happening, until it was all done. And after that, I could barely remember what it was she had thrown away. So all ended well.

Now I am not that kid. And mom's not around to throw stuff away for me. And it hurts. I find myself drowning in a deluge of stuff I really oughtn't keep! I look around to find innocuous immaterial collections of Airline Baggage Tags and Bus and Train tickets, weird stationery items like a first semester notebook or a 'historic' pen, clothes which I won't wear ever - like the T-Shirt my dhobi ripped through, sentimental reminders of what I once thought important including wrappers, labels, boxes and memory-cards, empty cans of deodorant and broken knife blades.

I am determined now to rid myself of this horrendous habit. And what better way than to throw out these relics of the past. And thus I proceed to my shelf to blast them all into oblivion; but then the newspaperman is here. And I need to pay him. May be I should throw the stuff out some other day...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

My New Roomies

I brought food from home: a bag full of it. In fact, I took pains lugging it through Security-Check, proving to them at certain points that the sweets and savories weren't in fact plastic explosives and miscellaneous children of modern warfare. It was, of course, totally worth the effort. Home-food is, as you will agree, unparalleled in awesomeness. And one can never have enough of it.

And thus food from home found itself in S7 - Cautley Bhawan after a rather painful dry spell. It doesn't require Einsteinian IQ to figure out that one can't bring Vadais and Appams and Payasams all the way here, and still manage to enjoy them as food few days later if one isn't anaerobic. Luckily though, the same doesn't apply to sweets and savories. And one can never eat enough of them.

The ants dwelling in my room can't get enough of them either. I discovered today, with much alarm, that (not only are there lizards on my walls) I share my humble dwelling with myriad ants as well. I haven't ever bothered their sedentary lives just as they haven't interrupted mine. But today marked an end of those days of peace. Quite obviously, there isn't enough place for both of us! And hence I took to arms.

But then I faced the tiniest of problems. They were feasting on my 'handmade murukku' which I valued simply too much. So bashing their skulls in with the umbrella handle was out of the question. So, I calmly broke off a piece and kept it beside the rest of the stuff. And presto, within quarter of an hour, the ants completely forgot the packet full of murukku and went after the measly piece. I smiled. And then I threw the piece out of my window. And with it, my roomies.

It surprised me that all those ants went after one single piece of food. They forgot about the whole packet of goodies. And they'll never find out about the bag (mothership) of food. Somehow, I find their behaviour appallingly similar to ours!

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Temple

I drove a long while yesterday, pleasantly surprising myself each time I threw the car around a bend with casual ease; for I have reason to believe that Driving, like Language, can be forgotten. Today I was bursting through the streets once again, though not equipped with the Swift this time around, as I found myself seated precariously on Mom's 50cc Kinetic - empathizing with the way Lord Ganesha feels when he sits on his mouse. Helmeted - not by choice, I stared through the vizor at the way Chennai's greatest road contrasted the erstwhile empire and ancient megalith with modern day towers.

I was on a mission today: an impromptu decision and a whimsical moment, which lead to the beginning of an insatiable urge. Being filled with the improbable melange of piety and desire, while all the time acknowledging the fact that neither could live while the other survived, I decided that it was only prudent that I nip it at the bud. And I embarked upon the pilgrimage.

I haven't been to the shrine for a while now and I felt that the Powers might chastise me for my ignorance, condemn me and relegate me to the desecrated world. But then I have always believed that the Lord is forgiving. And I continued on my trip, with expectations reaching their acme as the temple came into view. Like all temples, there was nothing blindingly brilliant about the exterior, for temples need not boast their existence. They merely need to exist, and people will come.

I stood in awe as I stared at the resplendent medieval facade, tattooed with the number '1844', which seemed to stare back down upon me, as if demanding, "Where have you been all these days?" I bowed my head and putting my right foot forward, I stepped across the threshold. A chill ran down my spine as I reminded myself that I was finally reunited with the lord in his abode, after all the missing years. Every aspect of the place left me amazed: the careless nonchalance in the way the angels presented themselves to those who cared to come, the meticulous and overworked attendants and the overwhelming mix of people who prayed by my beside.

No number of hours could suffice in such a place, as I tried placating a hurt ego - convincing myself that there was still time for redemption. I left the shrine a few hours later, as a greatly enriched man. And I swore to return as soon as fate and time permitted me to. And thus I exited Higginbotham's - the oldest bookstore in the country. And the finest, needless to say.

God bless Abel Joshua Higginbotham.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Long Walks

The end seems near and I invite it closer. The trees fall behind giving way to more as my feet work assiduously against the floor. The street-signs fade along my peripheral vision, disappearing into my immediate past, mimicking the behaviour of the dazed grin which inhabited my face not too long ago. I am walking along a lonely dark road.

The culmination of the long trip seems closer now. It is always better to walk with a goal in mind than to wander aimlessly through the many unexplored paths of this world. It isn't half as exciting, but it's a soothing experience: knowing that the end isn't too far away. (No guessing is involved.)

There was once a time when I didn't know what to do with my hands when I strolled down a lane... But those times are forgotten now. My hands don't feel awkward dangling by my sides as I walk. The same, however, cannot be said about my head.

Questions crowd my mind as I continue walking. The dazzling brilliance of the final destination is clearly visible now. But new ideas continue to sparkle intermittently like the stars of the infinite sky which overwhelm me every time I set foot under the shroud of Night. Questions demand answers and statements beg to be questioned. The universe is too vast. And I continue walking.

My legs are pumping battery acid now. The end seems close. The questions are too many. And I am fatigued. The End now acts as a magic bullet, putting to an end the misery caused by a thousand-odd steps. I'd love to answer those questions. I'd love to endure the experience... But that'd have to wait until another day. I hit the bed with stupendous force, hard enough to knock myself out into sweet oblivion. I am tired. And I wouldn't mind walking some more...

Thursday, 23 September 2010


It was never about ‘D by DX’s or asymptotic lines which never mean anything! It has never been about swallowing a few pages up whole overnight and spitting the pages out, without having the goddamn decency to assimilate even a few captions… It has never ever been about dirty un-understandable balances or the fact that 2100 is a boundary condition for turbulence!! We have been lied to.

The foremost institutions of learning have pulled the bloody wool over our eyes; our eyes, only too willingly, have submitted to the shroud. We sit here today, indolent as ever, unwilling to put in even that small ounce of energy into understanding what we came here to do. We sit and we get tired of sitting. We get bored. And we begin watching a movie – a movie which propagandizes a well known foreign institution – lifting it a few notches further in our heads; Awesome has just become God-level. And then we curse. We curse the books; the profs; the methods; the exams; the whole f*#ing system! And we sit in awe of those people sitting abroad, going about their jobs with ostensibly effortless ease.

I don’t know where to start. Is it the professors? Is it Us? Is it MHRD? Is it…

The professors, of course, have failed miserably to perform their basic function – to mentor the student. But they aren’t here to mentor us; are they? They aren’t here out of choice… They seem to have been dumped here. One advice to all those who are thinking about pedagogy as a career: Teach if Teaching is your first love. If you are going to teach because you think you have no better option, then kill yourself. That’s better.

But you can’t really blame a professor, can you? They probably were subjected to the same means of education as we are now, and they know no better. And they don’t want to know any better. But that can’t stop someone who claims he chose Engineering for his life, can it? And in no realm of earthly imagination can Engineering sound boring… So what is it?! Why do we think that life beyond the IITs, far away across the oceans, is all lovely and beautiful; life eased by push-button technology and magical inventions. You can bet your four years in the college that they slog their backsides off like we can hardly imagine. Nothing comes easy.

And why does every one of us feel that it is a pain to go through what we are being taught. If there is one thing I have learnt, it is that Work doesn’t remain Work once you start loving it. And Science and Engineering once stood for everything that I believed in… Where has that gone now? It is only plausible that I have fallen to a devil called Disillusionment. But then, so has everyone else! How the hell does it make sense?

How does it make sense that the highest ranker is so oft looked down upon and is subjected to ridicule rather than veneration? And how does it make sense that the highest ranker in a class studies for the Grade, without love for what he is doing? Why does it happen that 'Management' becomes a fall-back phrase as the senior undergraduate year approaches? Life is not about eliminating opportunities and choosing what you hate least. It’s about what you love most.

If you don’t love anything, your existence is irrelevant. Obsolete.

Today, I met a man who explained to me why his name was prefixed by the phrase “Doctor of Philosophy”. I am afraid I have met him too late; beyond the point of no return. He explained to me the ways of nature, the ways of an engineer and the ways of an ideal engineering institution. He told me about the oneness of man and machine… the union of all the disciplines at the pinnacle of human achievement… And how nothing is possible without effort, observation and intelligence…

Did I get senti? Hell, yes. But can I do anything about it…

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Song Remains The Same

Clear the desks; pull some chairs
Stash the bucket in the shelf…
Shroud the books; slay the sheets
Get up! You’ve got work to do.

Hoard some cash, be very tight
Do not buy and do not give.
And then all! Splurge it all…
Fling it all: Y’ know when to.

Let the windows give away
And let the sky come bursting in
Making way for endless fumes
Of smoke of evil and endless joy.

Grab the caps, light the flares
Get the speakers out once more
Let the cake come, when it must
Fix the old bulb up tonight.

Draw out crapes ‘n streamers encore
And write the names upon the walls–
Splashes of paint and sparkling text
The magic canvas is a glittering hall.

Revive the jukebox from days forgot’
Relive those old joys born anew
Reset the table; Repeat the song
Renumber the spirits alphabet-wise!

Get the knives and spoons and forks;
The dinner is ready – delectable, grand…
Steady the staircase – that infinite one
Which will take you to heaven tonight.

Keep the phone nigh – at hand
To answer all those midnight songs.
Now set the beat and up the heat –
And wait for Earth’s complete round.

Don’t forgive but do forget
All that past that wasn’t right
Indulge! Rejoice! Promise! Ascend!
There will be a party tonight!

Friday, 3 September 2010


Accompanying the cacophonous ultrasound of Light meeting Death, each note converting the spinal cord into a lightning arrestor, was the beginning of a captivating little scribble - creamy white on pitch black. Scrawny and ungainly in proportion, one could but scoff at it in distaste, if it wasn't for the creator of masterpiece. For it is considered rather inappropriate to chastise the dribbling toddler who has just managed to blueprint the first of his fertile thoughts.

The figure lay static, incomplete, with bunglesome protrusions demarcating its realm until the emaciated boundary line faded into oblivion. The clumsy representation thus remained an unfinished, semi-open scrawl yearning for completion. It took a long while but it did come - and in the form of stable albeit inefficient strokes. The newer portions of the art seemed to inherit atavistic knowledge from the ancient; it grew stronger, faster, higher and more profound. There was a sense of power which endorsed the firm slashes of the blade.

With the coming of age, the jagged juvenile edges were smoothed and the beginners' habits were discarded with disdain. He began to learn from himself and from his environs. There was influence and then there was pressure to perform. He adapted fast and learned to live. He watched his compatriots race and often he lost out on speed, although making up in aesthetics and skill. He learnt from each man who bettered him and soon his 'crosses' became a work of art. He fell in love with a girl and all he managed was to learn from her - he mirrored her works the way she mirrored her 'F's.

There were times of struggle and disagreement, where two conflicting powers would often try to establish themselves on the man's style. Neither could succeed while the other survived and feeble pacts were forged. But the blend of styles gave birth to genius. The 'Tittles' were no long dots but narcissistic micro-circles. The edges were no longer straight; there were curves all around. What once stood reliably erect now carried an enviable tilt. He walked with a swagger now.

He slowed his hand to grip the edge of the penultimate alphabet and he slid down with consummate ease. And then he finished signing his name, slaloming twice and then punching with precision. A Handwriting was born. But was it his?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Photo Post: Campus Shining

Another one passes by and just like in three previous years, it went by so fast I cannot believe it has. Many have spoken the evergreen truth, but none more than yours truly, that Poly is in fact one of the most insanely unproductive occupations on campus. But being true to the 'Great Hypocrite' tag which I have won myself through persistent and determined industriousness, I decided to give Poly 2010 a shot, after having been egged on by none other than our pin(k)headed friend.

The past few weeks have allowed me to fully appreciate the definitions of a plethora of words: n00b, rookie, newbie, fresher, fledgling, idiot etc. After spending hours at night trying to distinguish the no-good from the competitors and the kings from the jackasses, only to rethink our conclusions the very next day, we were often filled with an inexplicable feeling of unbounded awesomeness which we sometimes confused with a lack of sleep.

The elections of 2010 have finally come to an end for most of us while it is just a beginning for those willing to go that extra mile in proving that unproductive hobbies can go a long, long way. And having exited from such a unique wing which threw in seven candidates for the title of 'Councillor', I end this post with the feeling that I came so close to saying - "Maine banaya!"


There were ambigrams and colourful banners sporting a gazillion names, but one of the most eye-catching posters was of this "Maslow"-esque pyramid.

I wonder if the bloke reached self-actualization?

Cartoons from my own wing-mate... Creativity reaches a new high.

Damn, we ought to have a lot more of these elections... And we can scrap the 'Fine-Arts' section.

The face which launched a million votes.

This was the rope outside the mess which was initially used to put up attractive campaign posters!

What ended up attracting us, though, was TOI's page 2.

Haha! Another punny one!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

With The Flow

Deeper, deeper – I was dragged
Until only blue remained;
Murky, turbid, whirling wrath…
I fought. I fought. Then I waned.

Tossed about with murderous flair
I clawed my way; I was hauled and keeled
I seized each wave with immense faith
And then again, as they did yield.

Like whips and daggers, the spray outlash’d
Puncturing my chest now fresh with breath
And then the logs came floating by
Meandering gently with the flow…

Yonder lay shore’s seductive sand
And yet it lay so far away
My every stroke towards the shore
Rendered harmless by tumultuous spray

I stared at the logs floating by
Riding the crests; gentle, unmarred –
And then the logs went floating by
With the flow, a few wrong yards…

Burning eyes and flailing limbs
Bursting lungs; I felt heavier now
The current was strong; I could still
Shore myself, with one more blow.

I fought to keep my dying breath
As I stared at the logs floating by
Once mighty oaks; so meek in death
They would live and I would die?

I stared at the logs floating by
And managed a smile at the irony,
Drifting away with effortless ease
So what if they swam a few wrong yards?

The easier way of the logs beguiled
The flow was too strong to oppose
So I wilted in the pellucid flow
And maybe now I’ll enjoy the course.

Saturday, 31 July 2010


I entered this phase of my life as a sceptic - a disbeliever. I came prejudiced, constantly and repeatedly attempting to poison my mind with the words - "I shan't yield to temptation". Today, I stand a changed man. A believer. A sinner.

For these six weeks have given me some very memorable moments, ones I will cherish for a long, long time to come. I entered SLB wondering why they recruit people from the 'creamy layer' to perform tasks which any blundering idiot can also, with suitable training... Today I know that it isn't about the job as much as about the culture it brings about. Just like Roorkee, godforsaken that it is, has been able to develop its own quaint, unique culture, so has Schlumberger. And this, most disturbingly, has endeared it to me.

I recall those initial days when we underwent examinations which tested our safety training and safe operating practice knowledge. One particular exam required a minimum of 90% to pass and I can proudly say today, that it is the only test until today which I have failed. Four times in a row. Each of these times, there was this question which repeatedly occurred - "What is the last step after tool maintenance & check-up". I repeatedly dismissed a certain option the first few times, laughing my head off when I saw it pop up on the screen. I finally passed the test when I realized that it was, in fact, the correct answer - "Paint it blue".

These few weeks have seen me become a nomad, an epicurean, a spoilt brat, a romantic... I have come to enjoy a certain facet of life which I never knew I could - one involving the world of malls, movies, million-dollar houses, and more city. Somehow, I've also had the time to fall in love with any language which can make beautiful poetry - Urdu being the latest in this list...

I came to Mumbai happy that I was closer to Roorkee. Now, I wish I had more time here - Roorkee can wait. My blood seems to have turned a little blue and I know I have changed. I wonder if it is correct. Nevertheless, I find it exceedingly hard to separate myself from this experience. And I try to find solace in words:

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Monday, 26 July 2010

What's Your Dream?

There is this little kid next door, only three years old and clever as hell. He's an overly exuberant kid whose restlessness knows no bounds. It is as though he finds it imperative to do more than whatever he is doing at that moment. Albeit exceedingly fast, and sometimes reckless, I realized that he can hardly keep up with the speed at which his processing centre functions!

And hence, he performs like most machines we have studied about - lagging the stimulus by quite a bit. Strangely though, today I discovered that he wasn't much unlike me! It was an alarming discovery.

Some days back, I had asked the kid what he wanted to do when he grew up; a question I take immense pleasure in asking because of the fact that I used to respond 'An Engine Driver'. He promptly answered, "A Neurosurgeon!"

I was impressed. I was amazed at the nonchalance of it all. He had his life planned out at such a tender age, and I swore to myself that day that if ever I'd meet him as a neurosurgeon some decades from now, I'd eat my hat.

Yesterday, I found myself smiling once more as I stood there observing the way he lay underneath his tricycle studying the moving parts therein. What happened next was unexpected as my flatmate found it prudent to walk up to the kid and ask him the same question - "Child, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

The answer came out just as fast as it had the last time - "An Astrophysicist!" I smiled to myself, as my flatmate appreciated the vocabulary of the three-year old.

Today, I approached that kid once more, this time quite deliberately. I only wanted to know if he'd fall back on any of his previous choices. He was playing with a fancy spinning-top. I asked him the question - "Kid, what will you be when you grow up?"

The answer was unleashed - "The president." He continued fiddling with his toy. He never once looked up at me. I was so happy that I'd have bought the kid a lollypop! But then, he asked me a question next; one I was quite unprepared for. It came out of the blue:

"Bhaiyya, what do you want to be?"

I stood there silently. I looked around as the walls seemed to close in. I whispered to him, "I don't know." And I took the elevator for the ground floor. I'm afraid of seeing the child again.

Monday, 19 July 2010

A Train Story

Waking up to new company has been a phenomena I have increasingly got used to owing to the immense variety of people I've been rendezvousing over the past fortnight. But even this sort of experience would have counted zilch if I hadn't remembered the happenings of the night prior. And Cafe Leopold.

Having got up in a room whose co-occupant was a certain Tiger, for the second time in my life, and being a few rooms away from the Blob, wasn't as disturbing an experience as the one prior but the headache was a lot worse. For people unfamiliar with the happenings of 'Wake Up : Episode #1', a brief summary would say that I had to un-'lock' my belt and scrape toothpaste off my face. But I also remembered that morning, that it was the first time I had got drunk on Beer. Haddu, Chatu, Chirag and Monkey were the other champions of the Colaba night.

But as dark secrets often do, this story too will let the night fade into the same darkness which enveloped the majestic Gateway that night. But the barley hangover won't be forgotten that easily, for waking up will a heavy head and a topsy turvy world isn't all that hard when you are in familiar environs. But when you realize that you have to traverse half a Mumbai to reach the far-off haven...

And thus I took the trusted local and went to the extent of affording myself the agony of having to change trains in the process - to reach my Navi-Mumbai home. Desperately yearning for that liberating coffee which so often is the antidote to many a headache, the protagonist of this tale crawled through the empty midmorning train and found himself a seat.

A few stations later, I arrived at a hamlet called 'Mankhurd' - one not many would notice if it hadn't been for a drizzle like none other I have ever witnessed. The rain seemed to be falling upwards. As the train gradually pulled out of the station, the rain started getting heavier and the drops larger. The small tenements gave way to a plush green; there was a green of every shade starting out deep and getting lighter with distance before finally fading into the grey-purple hills on the horizon. The cumulous formations seemed to have descended from the heavens, teasing my outstretched palm as I reached for the grey firmament. As the train burst through the greenery at immense pace, I found myself reaching out for the open doorway.

It was then that I saw the clear blue bay hurtling towards me through heaven's cataract. The Mumbai - Vashi bay is a beautiful sight on most days and nights. But this sight was one few are permitted. Plush green, faraway hills, a magical sea, an overbearing grey sky... And the land on the other end of the bridge bathed in golden sunlight unaffected by dampness. I leaned out of the compartment and the first few drops struck my forehead. No longer was there pain. It was pure bliss.

Monday, 12 July 2010


Superheroes are a part of a child's life.

And it was no different for this kid who had grown up watching his boyhood wonder doing everything he does, with panache. There was class stamped over every single move he made, every punch he landed, every feint, every counter... He stood for everything the child had always dreamt of - righteousness, power, speed, agility, dexterity, skill, magic, courage. His hero had once vanquished every demon who had dared to face up to him. And no one was more overjoyed than the little boy who went absolutely crazy celebrating the victory as his very own!

Soon, the neighbourhood chimed in... And the lad had a bunch of cronies who would all share his mirthful delight each time his hero claimed another victim. The lad grew up watching his hero; his hero grew in stature with every blow he landed. The boys would laugh when their fighter would say one of his oft repeated punchlines; they would shed tears whenever their master got hurt, as though their tears could heal the maestro and rejuvenate him! And thus developed a community of devotees who could pledge anything for their king.

Then, one day, the ruler of the land declared a competition - a gauntlet. Their hero, like all others who entered the contest, would face a series of challenges... And one man would emerge champion! How these kids rejoiced for they knew that now, children from far and wide could watch their champion win... It was a victory for these kids.

And then the championship began! Strangely, their hero had changed his ways... The lad had bought the best tickets available to watch the virtuoso performance which they all expected. But then, he was disappointed at the first hurdle... There was no magic; his hero lacked the sting - the venom! The great man won however, though he stumbled like he never had before... Hopeful like children are, he booked the best seats again for the next challenge. Uncharacteristically, the master stumbled again. This time, there was no speed... It was like he had forgotten his own game! He was slow at the dodge; he was almost cut to size by a relative minnow! Nevertheless, he got through the stage... The children, still draped in his colours, waved his flag. The boisterousness in their celebration was lacking though, as passersby noted.

And so it went on... Their hero had reached the grandest stage, scraping through each level with more difficulty than the preceding one. It was then that the boy realized that all that he always saw in his champion - the speed, the agility, the courage, the magic - they were all gone! He had given up everything that he had symbolized, and was closer than ever to legendary fame! But, the boy and his friends arrived at the grand finale dutifully, as they always did - draped in his colours, but more as neutrals than real fans! They hoped the superhero would redeem himself with one final gambit.

It never came. Their hero won. The boy ran out of the stadium screaming like many other fans, who were themselves drunk with joy, with tears streaming down his cheeks... His champion had vanquished his final demon. But these weren't tears of joy... He threw down his 'fan' scarf. And sat down quietly in a corner, trying to digest the fact that such a loser had actually won!

Friday, 9 July 2010

The Problem with Football Fans...

I am not an expert on football and these few paragraphs can be forgiven as being written by a mature n00b who is just getting to know his way around the beautiful game. And since it is a fact that I have followed Joga Bonito closely for but the last year and half, I shall not profess to know much more than you, which in all probability I do not. But I shall also take this as a chance to be vocal about my abhorrence for all other people who have grown into football pundits overnight!

I had never given much thought to the lines I first came across on Murty's blog - "Opinions are like feet. Everyone has a couple and usually they stink." During this time of the year, the odour is particularly putrid and rotten. This is the time of the year you hear the - "How can you watch this World Cup dude? There is no Brazil or Argentina..." And then the chums chiming in - "There's no Messi! How is this a football World Cup?" And then, it get's worse. If the football were made of ferromagnetic material, then Messi's feet are two magnets; this doesn't necessarily mean these magnets did anything great in RSA! So it makes me want to puke when someone shrieks - "OoooOOoh! Messi... Whatta player... What a shot!!" - when the little master has barely touched the ball.

These are men and women who snigger at you when you shout at the top of your voice, exulting when a goal is scored... Or when you curse the ref harshly and desperately throw up your right arm as though the referee, on seeing you from inside the TV, will dish out a few Yellow cards! On the other hand, I find people trying desperately to learn Mesut Oezil's spelling in German (with the umlaute) by rote only so that they can make a witty comment about him at a lunch conversation the next day! I don't mind it that much really; if only they managed to keep it at this much wit. But then they soon start correcting you. Wrongly. Fernando Torres invites more and more insult as days pass, while it is quite clear that even the great David Villa cannot play in that central striker's position profitably for Spain; he needs to drift in from that left-side. I shall refrain from saying more as it will be an act of egoistic hypocrisy.

And it isn't because of profound soccer knowledge or detailed statistical analysis that I make yet another prediction, but because I feel that I can do most of what an Octopus can. And since I'm riding on a wave of luck, I shall make as bold as to say that Spain will win this World Cup, in spite of making the task a million times harder than it ought to have been for them. And to all those out there who have never watched a game and yet shoot your mouth, "Shut up."

P.S. Yes, Holland deserves to be in the Finals.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Warning Storys

A traveller will travel. And if you place this wanderer in a city like Mumbai, he will wander. There is no dearth of places to visit - be it relics of medieval history, shopping malls, restaurants for every budget, bars, cineplexes, beaches... And the wanderer is all the more astounded by the variety the city offers if he hails partly or wholly from a semi-urban background - like 'R-men' do.

However the city poses one major obstacle in his path. His unquenchable wanderlust is brought to a screeching halt by the daunting task of having to traverse enormous distances to reach his final destination, or worse - having to travel short distances for long intervals of time. The latter experience is one every Mumbaikar will be familiar with - Travelling a couple of kilometres in an hour! Why we don't walk, I don't know... But that's probably because there is no space left to walk.

Nevertheless, these difficulties are minified by the awesome train system - which leaves the traveller astounded as to how an arrival time like 21:39 can be maintained! But travelling in trains is as difficult as it is brilliant. While you experience the real Mumbai life, you also end up with your bag strapped in front of your chest, with one hand in your pocket performing the duty of wallet-sentry and your head at an acute angle to the horizontal so that you can catch sufficient breath. But in the end, it is usually worth it.

After travelling to Jughead's in Powai to catch the Oranje win and returning by the midnight train, I decided that two consecutive days of such travel will be highly hazardous to health. And life. So, I could only sigh in relief when they said we'd be watching "I Hate Luv StorYs" at a screen nearby. After all the advertisements and being part of the naive junta, the prospect of watching the Sonam Kapoor and Imran Khan show excited me almost as much as the fact that I'd be back in time to watch Germany versus Argentina.

There were signs. First of all, the people I was supposed to go with left without us. Then, one autorickshaw guy after another refused to take us to the mall. We finally got one at the same time the movie started. It was raining and we were getting soaked too. Stubbornly ignoring all these forebodings and omens, we went. Once inside the mall, we behaved much like rats would once you drop them into a large box. We ran. We ran in all directions. Getting split up in the crowds was no longer a bother as each of us wanted our money's worth. So, when four of us found ourselves inside Hall#3, we didn't bother about the others, for a while. But when two minutes passed and then five, and when we still didn't understand any dialogue in the movie and since there was still no sign of both Sonam and Imran, we started worrying. Just about then, I asked Pulkit, "Dude, is this the movie? Are you sure?"

And then we left the Marathi film which we were trying to follow; we entered the real thing - an oxy-moronic flick which starts off with copycat HIMYM scenes and proceeds to copy the entire series. Only later, after the interval, do the HIMYM references and shameless lifts end; but there ends the movie too - turning insipid from plain empty. I took respite in the fact that I didn't spend more money on a larger popcorn-combo! I'm sure that Marathi flick was better.

This post is a warning.

P.S. I feel bad for Ms. Larissa.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Of Ticks and Triple-Stripes

There aren't too many things which can conjure up such great prominence in such a short span of time like a simple check-mark, an innocuous M or a half-eaten apple! I wonder at times whether one could have ever foreseen this present day world even as recently as a decade ago. 'Free Enterprise' - the Americans would call it; socialists would denounce it as a diabolical plan to ruin mankind - but the bottom-line remains that Capitalism has come to rule the urban world.

Now, let us not fool ourselves here. India is not a mixed economy; even if it is now, it won't be in another decade. Our leaders have embedded their faiths in individualism and competition almost as firmly as Uncle Sam. While Obama is being denounced as anti-American for telling his people the positives of community-service and selflessness, India's demagogues talk about economic equality of the people while pushing through deals for one mall after another. Where is the scope for equality when you ask the Indian pushcart to combat an International Retail Mammoth? Of course, you will give me the argument that greater competition leads to a pursuit of excellence and hence a better India. We could continue this debate for a while, if it weren't for a fact that this isn't the point I'm trying to make!

I hardly care for the 'Is capitalism correct?' debate if it wasn't for the fact that it causes so much pain. There was a point of time when people actually cared about service quality, product calibre, durability, return for money, warranties etc. Nowadays, these are thrown to the winds in exchange for one simple thing - a logo.

It is truly disturbing that someone should choose shoes with three stripes on them knowing only too well that they are greatly overpriced when an equally good pair, if not better, can be bought two stores away. Why doesn't one squeeze a few oranges instead of piercing a pack of Tropicana? Why do you buy a McBurger for nearly a hundred rupees when the Tikki at a Nescafe joint tastes a million times better? Why are people desperate to show off a Macbook when it's quite apparent they are rather incapable of understanding Apple's OS? Why does logic fail?

If only everything can be solved in a completely intellectual manner! But proving a point to society and flaunting expensive useless accessories, sadly, are beyond the realms of intellectual pursuit. Brand loyalty is for morons... I'm not saying the concept of branding is useless as a whole; but I'd have it limited to where it makes sense. This has plagued me for a while now, as I find myself being sucked into a hopeless struggle against myself. I would like to think that most people today recognize this problem but are afraid to admit it, even to themselves! I wouldn't have written about this today, if it wasn't for yesternight's visit to HRC - Mumbai... An experience I am still confused about - for I am unable to understand if I enjoyed the experience or whether I thought I did!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mumbai meri What?

Almost six years ago, on a summer night, Mom, Aashrai and I alighted the Konkan Railway service and headed to Appa’s outstretched arms, who proudly said, “Welcome to the city that never sleeps!” It was my first visit to the commercial capital of the country, or as the indigenous folk calls it – Aamchi Mumbai. Half-dozen years ago, I thus spent my vacation in Andheri, opposite Leela Palace – where Dad used to work, in a rare apartment building (in those days, at least) complete with Swimming Pools and a Sporting Complex – hardly something one expects in a city like Mumbai!

But a few days and an Amoebic dysentery (courtesy: Juhu Vada Pav) later, to say that I absolutely reviled the place and was dying of claustrophobia would be an understatement. I wanted to get out and was glad when I finally did.

I returned to the port city today after risking my life in one of the fastest landings I have ever experienced. The pilot, being absolutely reckless, hit the ground hard enough to sink Mumbai a few feet into the sea. The air hostess smiled at our alarm and said, “Welcome to Chattrapati Shivaji Airport – Domestic Terminal”. I would be lying if I said that my initial feelings of apprehension were subsiding.

I was welcomed, however, by one of the most beautiful overcast skies I have ever seen. The airport having undergone a major face-lift had me standing in awe in the middle of the pick-up bay. The cabbie from Schlumberger told me that I would be going to a Thane guest house. And so we left…

I have seen a lot in the past hours: the winding road around the Powai Lake, the scenic Hiranandani gardens springing out of nowhere, shanties and malls juxtaposed, rather friendly people and a young lad by the slums with no shoes leaping through the puddles in dazzling blue Samsung – Ballack number 13… Even if all these didn’t influence me, the fluent Hing-lish conversation I had with my Tamilian driver did!

I sit here on the 24th floor now, wondering if I’ll have to revise my ‘Favourite Cities’ list real soon…

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Face Off

Burning red eyes in the darkness fix'd
A cold stare, unerringly ahead,
As if to shatter the air betwixt
Himself and wherever he looked.

His chest heaved heavy under the breath
A cold dry draught hurriedly inspired
And as if to bring life to apparent Death,
The air was warm through a choleric fire.

In a brilliant blaze of magnificent wrath
Became apparent the scars of conflicts prior
- Evidence of battle and the tumultuous path
Taken by his Life, Fate and Desire.

His locks were heavy, dark and curled
Flaunting an air of immaculate power,
An intrepid heart and a spirit unfurled...
So mighty did his countenance tower.

His lips curled to suppress a smirk
As if to forget the gashes of ere
Seasoned in war, Past ne'er him irk'd
As if he kept only the Present near.

It was a deadly, menacing face
Like one never to be seen before
Or after. For not even the minutest trace
Of emotion seemed to linger on it.

And then came by a squeaky man,
Absolutely mortified by the sight
From which even the best men ran.
This visage was mankind's blight!

The coward crept up behind the face
And he made brave, though filled with cold,
So as to pull the mask to his own face.
Now he could terrorize the world.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Oh Great One, I Summon You!

A thousand hymns and a hundred names
Pleas for redemption, to allay pain
A prayer to smother the deathly flames
Of evil - in a soothing rain.

A promise to scale mountains tall
To negotiate with the Almighty one.
Or perambulate the temple wall
To repent for offences done.

A ritual invoking the soul within;
A quest to, body's depth, unearth.
- Tranquility crushes melancholic din
And serenity returns, if not mirth.

A passing peace, a diabolical trick
- Taking heart again before the fall
What hurt was once searing prick
Is now a saber - slicing all.

For prayers give you heart again.
The Believer begins to brim with trust,
Yearning for that eternal rain
Only to crumble like an Iron in rust.

He burns within in agonizing ache;
For worse still than drowning, is when -
At Death, he thinks there is a chain to take...
Hope is given and withdrawn again.

Wallowing in self pity and envious spite
He hates. He tires. He has lost. He's worn.
Oh Omnipresent Benevolent Light!
I hope you're glad. An atheist is born.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

One Constant in Relentless Change!

It was dusk and the sun turned bronze from radiant gold, peeking out from behind the gentle Cirrus which was splattered across the eternal canvas. A cool wet breeze carrying the occasional grain of sand blew landwards purging heat and assuaging pain. It would be evening soon.

I saw two children being led carefully through the sands, as though being introduced to the Bay, by their grandmother – although it would be very lenient of me to say that they were indeed ‘being led’, and soon enough poor old Grandma had no control of the children as they boisterously somersaulted over each other and threw fist-fulls of sand at each others’ face. After feeble initial protest, the old lady gradually grew despondent and helpless, after which she swore (imitating the great Bheeshma) to the God of the Sea – “I shall, never again, accompany these two children to the beach, alone.” This seemed to work miracles on the impetuous duo and almost magically tranquillity returned to the shores of the Bay of Bengal. I smiled as I saw two guilty looking children and one exasperated Grandma departing, to catch an Auto, together.

As I continued walking along, I saw a group of kids in their later teens playing beach-football. This was not uncommon as beach football was one of the most popular sports played in these parts. Most passes were played in the air and the curl of the shot was often aided by the wind, playing diabolical tricks on the hapless shot-stopper. I looked down and I noticed no more fine patterns and designs drawn by the fine hand of the wind; as all intricacy lay mutilated - bearing testimony to the savage struggles for the football. I jogged past the kids who were bellowing as loudly as their larynxes permitted. Soon, I reached the jogging track.

I witnessed a melange of people here – the twenty year old whose life seemed all but directionless, seated with other twenty year olds who were equally lost, discussing the futilities and pleasures of life, pausing only to take in the occasional stunner; the young gentleman who ran incessantly down the track, wincing as his muscles pumped battery acid, all the while listening to music streaming into his ears through his new iPod; the middle-aged man who walked down the side-lane hand-in-hand with his new wife as they planned their new universe; and the young man or old boy who was madly in love with his hot girlfriend.

I was getting tired and thought of retiring to the nearby Barista, which offered ambrosial delights for a fortune, leaving the customer a few notes lighter… Or maybe the nearly awesome Food-Court called ‘Planet Yumm’ which was the favourite haunt of children of all ages… I paused ephemerally by the group of gossiping old men so as to tell them the time, only to almost be bundled over by an irresponsible pram.

By now, the Sun was no longer visible and the sea seemed to be the beacon of light. The surroundings began to drown me as various elements began to coalesce. The sky was blue, green and violet all at the same time. A distant ship twinkled bravely as the world around me began to succumb in a conflation of immaculate grandeur. I was so lost in the spectacle that I almost forgot who I was!

The infant in the pram, the child with its grandmother, the teenage footballer, the old boy with his new girlfriend, the young jogger, the middle-aged man with his wife, the old gentleman in a veshti asking for the time – were all one person. And I am Time.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Other Side

Even as I write this, I find myself in a satiated state of semiconsciousness; a state which the enlightened would call near-nirvana and doped would call half-stoned. I find myself unable to shift postures too easily. In a way, I feel confident that I'm writing this with my brain. And not with my heart (unlike the previous time I applied ink to paper) which slumbers peacefully in an idyllic clime unfamiliar to Chennai brought about by Lady Laila.

May 2009 will be remembered for the Grand Scrabble Days, where the Farmhouse in one last attempt to make its mark on wonderland forever played its great gambit. It was a welcome measure as much as being a pointless exercise, seeing that the guest was to play against the likes of the soft Southpaw and verbose Velociraptor. At least it blocked out the change which was upon us, however ephemerally, and those few Cautley hours promised to stay on forever. I exited sophomore year fully conscious of pain - pain of having to carry my laptop a few GB heavier in movies.

May 2010 will be remembered. I don't know for what. There was no scrabble and in the absence of intellectual distractions, George Lucas' 'There is no passion; there is serenity' becomes obsolete. And a clear month prior to indulging my brain for the eighth time ever in the very hazardous end-sem rote, I broke down to emotions. I got plain morose and saturnine in my last work and I don't know whether or not to chastise myself for that last indulgence. But, it was relief. And ever since, I haven't known how to feel about the great Goodbye.

The last week lasted a day and the Hour-hand seemed to outrun its Seconds' counterpart. And it seemed as though I was trying to reach out to all those things I had missed so far. Be it the random trip to Ravindra in the pretext of searching for a cap or the Jan Shatabdi I almost missed, the experiences were outlandish. The hardest part though was the inability to convey through the English language what can be best described as an emotional implosion. Luckily, Silence seems to be the best way.

The Watch Out val, the great Lit dinner (which proudly maintains its chivalrous superbia), the last EDC 'party', the Yaadein pages I meticulously filled after having mocked it at first, sessions where I tried explaining what sentiyaap meant, even the Cogni culmination meet... Maybe this is how I'll remember the May of 2010. As the Dreamwalker Diaries so aptly puts it, Roorkee started as a mistake. I think it's the greatest mistake of my life. Hadn't it been for that omnipotent sheet I filled in IIT Madras, I would have missed out on condescending blobs, supersurds, extortion specialists, jobless somnambulists, Gunda-buffs, loveless tigers, reptile kings, kings of kings, air-guitarists, 8mm-collectors and others who I'd love to have known better! The thought simply alarms me.

Half an hour has elapsed since I began writing this and I find myself in that same lucid lull. So this is how the greatest goodbyes are said. In silence.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Till I'm No One Again

It was around four in the afternoon on a rather warm day and he sat there on the Persian carpet, in the middle of the hall, he had managed to soil will generous amounts of plasticine. He was enjoying a post-Siesta chit-chat with his kid brother about why he felt the Cobras were always stronger than the G.I. Joes, while he positioned his Deep-Six action figure next to the tub they had filled up to the brim.

He was still feeling drowsy, the way one feels after a very heavy meal, as he had hurriedly eaten his idlis on the School-van back home so that mom or dad wouldn't find out... It'd have been rather unpleasant if mom found out once she got back from work, especially because she tended to be in one of those moods. His little brother was still eating his hot Top-Ramen which dad had made, slowly separating each noodle strand out meticulously first. He egged him on sincerely hoping that he wouldn't have to use the Microwave to heat the food again! He was the only one allowed to operate the Microwave when parents weren't at home... Li'l brother was still too little.

Mom came home soon and they both ran towards the door. The younger child threw his arms around her. They liked to have mom around, especially since they got into fights every so often. While the elder kid used his bigger size and superior strength as an advantage, the younger one didn't give up so easily, putting his nails and milk-teeth to good use. The routine 'What-happened-in-school-today' session followed while mom made herself tea and the kids Bournvita.

Soon, they were both off to doing their homework. They had been told to do it early in the afternoon, since they'd be completely free once that was over! Homework took them around half-an-hour to complete. In neat handwriting with a Natraj HB. The younger sibling's best handwriting however could be described as scribbling, at best. The zealous duo then raced down two floors to the play-park where they could get together with other expat kids and play the sport of India - Cricket. The elder kid played decent cricket strokes while his brother didn't care much for the game. In fact, he'd go out of his way to get bowled, so that he could go back to thinking about the new star he had learnt about in Encyclopaedia Brittanica, the previous day.

At quarter-past-six, they rushed back home and threw themselves into the shower. Those were days when the showers could be shared. After a quick hot bath and some bath-tub squabbles which mother had to mediate, they ran out to the one thing they'd never miss in their lives! Scooby Doo was on air, everyday at 6:30. They had watched enough of it to predict every single dialogue, but they still loved it. 'Which Witch is Which' was being shown that day - their most favourite episode! Scooby was the only cartoon character which could pip T-Bone and Razor, the Ninja Robots, Johnny Quest and Centurions, all together! Cartoon Network was God's gift to mankind and they made complete use of the time it was on air, until TNT showed up in an almighty explosion. Disney Hour and Mahabharata (yes!) were good,but no comparison really!

The nights were often the best as Toblerones for dessert were closely followed by the greatest story-teller of all time, save for Grandma, 'Enid Blyton'. The elder sibling often threatened to spoil the Pixie and Brownie tales for his kid brother by telling him the ending when he had just begun! Mom often used to spank him for that. Sometimes dad would tell him to stop too, if the noise they made disturbed the attentive evening news listener. So, generally he would lie down quietly in his bed and read Famous Five all by himself, trying to solve the puzzle before even George did. The only time the two of them read a book together was 'The Magic Faraway Tree' which he was reading for his third time.

Soon dad would come into the room telling them to switch the lights off and they'd run hurriedly to kiss both parents good night and then tuck themselves in. And then silently, they'd slip into sweet oblivion.

Today I got up as a twenty-something year old.

Monday, 26 April 2010

The Talisman

Yesterday, I witnessed something remarkable. It is something which, so strangely, could eclipse the jubilation of watching two of my favorite teams win and go on to etch itself deep into the cells of grey. And even while my mind was swimming in that idyllic lake of Blue and Yellow as I drifted away into sweet oblivion, I knew that I had witnessed something truly wonderful. Once more.

There are times in life we feel hopeless and desperate. Depleted that we are, we yearn for that one magical twist, that one last burst of force, which will transform a tragic story into a fairytale. Rarely does such a thing ever happen, but Hope has a funny way. To believe is something which we all want to do in the most unreasonable situations. While all logic and even half-sound cerebration will suggest the contrary, all of us desperately want to believe in Adidas' "Impossible is Nothing".

There are, of course, those happy times and plentiful periods when we the word "impossible" quickly disappears from our dictionaries. These are times when the steadfast flourish and stability and perfection become the ultimate goals. SRT will bisect the off-side field so beautifully that the opponent team is ripped in half and MSD will smash an in-swinging yorker for a straight six. But these are the prosperous times and as they say, class is permanent. This class shows.

But then, there are dark times; there are times when the infinite is grey and 'silver-lining' is just a fanciful phrase which appears in proverbs. These are times when Class stands hopelessly, it's head bowed in dejection, in front of massively unimaginable odds. The Universe has conspired to kill and priceless blood will be spilled by the end of the ordeal. But then, protecting our icon for the savage, incessant rain of innumerable poison arrows from the sky is a single magic shield: A shield which has not the backing of consistency and reliability. A shield which hardly boasts of triumphs against powerful foes and one which would be disdainfully dismissed as ineffective and impotent had it not been for the fact that each one of us believes that this plate of silver armor can repel the almighty onslaught, parry each blow and carry our heroes to glory and beyond. The shield is a talisman; a talisman which feeds on faith. And delivers each time.

Yesterday, Keiron Pollard (a question I'm still proud of answering, at Dela's last) was that talisman. The effect he had on the crowds was stuff of legend. He arrived at a comically hopeless situation and six balls was all he took to make people believe. And tremble in fright. Each time I look at a talisman, I'm left in awe. It's not what they do as much as what happens when they appear. Everyone starts working, the cogs start clicking away flawlessly and suddenly, the painting is a whole new one! I'd put ManUnited's Macheda (who I dislike and admire) in this category... And Luke Skywalker. Napoleon is said to have had immense faith in his Imperial Guard even as he stared into the abyss of death. These are our shields. These are amulets which we trust in our hour of need. For me, I guess it's Mom.

In the end, it's never true that this magical trinket will take you to safety every single time. There are times it will fall. But that's not the point of life, is it? Most importantly, it makes us believe.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Chequered Flag

I do not understand whether it is with the jubilation of accomplishment, on the completion of the omnipotent list, or the fear of humiliation from actually making this a blog-post that I begin typing at an unearthly 0445 hrs, a phenomenon which is becoming all too common lately contributing wonderfully to my languishing battle against the mighty seventy-five. But today is special. I checked the last Bhawan off my list.

Many before have dreamt of making the magical number Nine, but people have fallen aplenty... While most battle valiantly and end up just two short, there are a few (who are not-so-few in absolute numbers) who get to see the chequered flag. And since not everyone can garner the trust of Chief Wardens and acquire passes, people resolve to a magnificent array of novel-tactics. Some even get committed (this tag has been removed for the author's safety). Others, of course, have sections where it is a deplorable crime to not invite family and kinsfolk; exile and banishment are rewards for declining aforesaid invites. A few, of course, get invited over for a number of varied reasons which GenPop isn't able to comprehend yet. But they all do arrive with unsolicited punctuality, dressed impeccably in Armani, Versace, Nike and Petrol, to sweep their maidens, who might just feel a few kgs heavier and a few inches thicker, off their feet. A few however have the dubious distinction of being invited over, wanting to go and then choosing chicken over everything else. After all, Winner winner, Chicken dinner! Who can argue?

A heartwarming sight did greet me in MI-254 at 6:30 p.m. when the India-quiz was attended in full-strength; LitSecTM never fails you. While I had all but submitted to a strange fate, of ending up with so weirdly with Eight-Bhawans, before anything began, harboring but a tiny notion that someone would, in fact, call me - the call came from the most unexpected source. Battling words of discouragement (which I was later told- was secret envy) and those goading me to attend the event in Shorts, I ambled along to SB in grossly inappropriate attire, with Career Launcher getting free publicity. Add to that my maddu inability to dance (swinging arms and shifting feet simultaneously, and that too synced to the music, is something I will never pick up) and presto, the clown for the night! Oh well, leaving aside the gruesome details and the fact that women ranged from gorgeous to garish to ghostly, and the fact that you might presently be concluding that I am a chauvinist, the night went off well... With the benefit of hindsight, it's something I would never have missed. After all, I've mastered magic number 9 now!