Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Clichés aren't old hat

Twelfth grade English lectures were one of the high points of my otherwise humdrum school life. For one thing, English-Core was the easiest subject by a fair distance, at least for the scant few with the poor sense to opt for biology. For another, our classes were handled by a certain Miss Pretty. Miss Pretty, sadly, didn’t live up to her name, which, FYI, was due to her obsession with that annoying American usage whereby it is considered hip to replace ‘very’ with ‘pretty’ wherever possible and hipper(?) if you say it with a fake accent.

Argh, digressions. So where was I? Yes, Miss Pretty wasn’t pretty. Nor was she attractive by any stretch of imagination. But for the thousands of starved eyes that inhabited DAV Boys’ Gopalapuram, she was all that. And more. She was our answer to Rockford’s Nandita Das, the cute Chink from that Korean movie or the bikini clad lady from the Van Halen song. DAV Boys had more than its share of weirdos, each odder than the next, but if there was something that they shared despite all their bizarreness, it was a crush on Miss Pretty. The Bulk, of course, was an exception.

What made her classes all the more enjoyable, for me, was the rare distinction of Teacher’s Pet. She had her flaws too, like her annoying habit of referring to me as ‘Bella’. That apart, there were few who’d refute my position as her favourite student in 12A. The reasons weren’t too far to seek either. Miss Pretty and I shared a love for clichés, however tiresome everyone else found them. Long hours were spent in class with us firing clichés at each other, as I gradually took over as the apple of her eye.

My love for clichés, as the last line would have demonstrated, persists to this very day. It's all well and good to come up with new stuff, but I, for one, would rather take a riff on the familiar. Besides, expressions become clichés because they work and people like them, buy them and therefore writers use them. They don't become clichés because writers are lazy and it's easier to repeat the same thing over and over than to think up something different. On second thought, writers do use them because they are lazy, but that’s not the point. Love them or hate them, there is no denying the fact that every other day, we encounter a situation perfectly described by the very clichés we love to hate.

One of my personal favourites has always been, ‘so near, yet so far’, perhaps owing to the frequency with which I come across situations apt for its usage. Like how I made it all the way to London but could not take the 6-hour train to Manchester. I visited Emirates and Wembley, but that only made Old Trafford seem all the more elusive. Or the time I topped just about every subject only to be denied the Bulk’s magical tally of 493 by a dismal 84% in Hindi. All that notwithstanding, yesterday would go down as the cruelest instance of ‘so near, yet so far’.

Even as I type, The Dubai International Film Festival is on, with the likes of Salma Hayek, Kim Kardashian and Yvonne Strahovsky within striking distance of yours truly. As you would expect, I was there with the Timid Twins, hoping and praying for the 500-dirham entry pass to magically appear on our palms. A hundred yards ahead of us, a blonde strode elegantly on the red carpet. “Nicole Kidman”, informed the security guard, before rushing to get a closer glimpse himself, leaving us at the mercy of his Terrier. The blonde was safely inside by the time the Twins stopped cursing each other for not bringing along a pair of binoculars. “If only we could teleport,” exclaimed one. “Or get hold of Hiro Nakamura”, chipped in the other. The conversation went on for a while; my only contribution, though, was, “so near, yet so far”.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Society, you're a crazy breed

Only for the third time in seven years, I’m on the island I once called home. It is still home for all technical purposes, but a cancerous proliferation of concrete has left me all but an alien in the locality I grew up in, but I’ll get to that in another post. Bahrain, for the uninitiated, is the Middle-East’s answer to Las Vegas. That, of course, isn’t saying much, but for a person who has spent the last thirty-odd months in a ghetto with nothing remotely feminine within a two-mile radius, the Island of Pearls is no less than Paradise.

The prospect of spotting an East-European belly-dancer from your balcony, sadly, doesn’t appeal as much to the average forty-plus NRI housewife, leading them to engage in less-exciting pursuits such as the weekly desi get-together. Needless to add, attendance is compulsory.

A pool-side dinner, Himesh oooing away in the background, sugary tea and spicy achaar- desi get-togethers in this part of the globe are all the same. While the mums and dads make small talk on how much weight each of them has lost and the kids make the most of the trampoline in the backyard, the solitary 20-year-old is far from welcome.

Yesterday, thankfully, I had company in the form of a hexagenarian bachelor in bell-bottoms. Earlier in the day, Chel$ki had wriggled its way into the last 16 of the Champions League, Lindsay Lohan was spotted kissing in Vermont and Fox News was rife with pictures of Christiano Ronaldo’s new girlfriend. None of that, however, seemed appropriate for a conversation with a retired neurosurgeon, particularly one sporting a T-shirt that read, ‘Om Sweet Om’.

After the mandatory ‘who/what/why/where/how are you’s were exchanged, our conversation seemed to have hit a dead-end. Bell Bottoms seemed far from defeated, though. With topics of interest running dry, he hit upon an infallible technique to ensure our conversation’s continuity. Excerpts:

Bell-bottoms: “You lived in Bangalore, didn’t you?”
Me: “Yes I did.”
BB: “Do you know Random Guy1?”
Me: “No I don’t.”
BB: “Do you know Random Guy2?”
Me: “No.”
BB: “Do you know Random Guy3?”
Me: “No.”
And so it went on.

Two hundred and sixty two ‘no’s’ later,

BB: “Do you know Random Guy 265?”
Me: “Oh yes, he was my classmate in Kindergarten.”
BB: “He was my neighbour. Isn’t that amazing?”
In the meantime, our tête-à-tête was cut short by The Good Host, who seemed troubled that I didn’t seem bored. “So Bell-Bottoms,” he enquired, “you seem to be having a great time with Dela.” “The usual, you know, old friends catching up”, replied the man whom I still know only as Mr. Bell-Bottoms.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Hundred (and one) Days

It has been a while. In the truest sense, this too wouldn’t count as a post- a fact that will dawn on you by the time you’re done reading it. Yes, this is another of those SriP-esque posts on not-posting. Bon nuit.

I completed 100 days on the other side of the wall yesterday, or I thought I did, until Mom shattered my bubble and dutifully reminded me that August had 31 days, which made me 20 and a 101 days. Ah, technicalities.

A lot has happened since my last post. An eventful train ride with the Super Nerd was followed by a highly entertaining weekend at Facchaville on the pretext of recruiting minions. I watched Dark Knight for the five hundred and twenty seventh time and drew a lot of flak for my comment on Facebook that it was the greatest movie ever. The Morons set off on a historic trip to the City That Never Sleeps and spent an amazing evening at Hard Rock Café. I fell in love the very next day with a cap and splurged two hundred odd bucks at Adlabs on ‘Rock On’, the cliché-fraught band movie with a few hilariously stupid Hinglish dialogues (‘Tumour mere brain ka hissa ban chuka hai.’) providing some much-needed comic relief.

R-Land welcomed her heroes home with a TS, where the legendary Gee Kay Ess awarded yours truly a naught on twenty five. A long overdue epistle was sent home and I was declared the winner of the War of Words on popular demand ahead of His Wordiness Sheldon Cooper. Somewhere in between all that, I also managed to watch Bollywood’s magnum opus- Junoon (Hero fights with a tiger, Hero gets bitten by the tiger, Hero becomes a tiger.)

Lots of post-worthy material and yet, the only changes my blog saw in the last two months was an absurd Feed Tracker that went unnoticed by even the most faithful of my readers. (Special mention must be made of the Hirsute Hick who visits my blog ten times a day, at least when he isn’t hitchhiking across South East Asia and posing for ridiculous pics like this one and this one. )

Have I given in to the duresses of change already? Teenage Dela would have ranted on at least half a dozen of the aforementioned events. Dela the Tween, though, has all but forgotten about his blog. Maturity, I think, is the term I’m looking for. ‘Bull crap! You’re just getting lazier,’ retorts Bald Guy Junior. Another plausible explanation.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Men are from Mars, Kids are from Ceres

Popularity comes with a price tag, and an increasingly hefty one at that, a fact you'd be aware of if you have been following the meteoric rise in the prices of action figures since the days when we went, ‘Wow, GI Joe!’ every time the Real American Hero was on air (Coming to think of it, I still go, ‘Wow, GI Joe!’ every time he’s on TV but that’s a different story altogether) While I do enjoy giving myself a mental pat-on-the-back every time one of the twenty billion progeny of my ten billion cousins insists on singing Glory Glory Man United even during the Euro 2008 or throws up a fuss about combing his/her hair, my huge kindergarten fan base coerces me into doing many things I’d rather not- like attend their birthday parties.

One of my favourite videos of my extensively photographed childhood is that of Bird Brain’s tenth birthday. The spoilt son that I was, not getting the first slice of the cake and being allowed as much camera-time as my grandmother weren’t situations I faced every other day. Exasperated, ‘I hate all birthdays,’ I exclaimed, adding, ‘except for my own’, almost as an afterthought. Fifteen years hence, there is just one aspect of birthdays that I find just as abhorrent as I did then- gifts.

The days of waking up at six in the morning and ripping open the twenty odd boxes on the coffee table seem as distant a memory as my diapers. The other side of the transaction, sadly, isn’t one bit as much fun. I never have a problem with girls – the simple creatures that they are, Barbie and Candy will be the most happening things in their world even ten generations down the line. Buying gifts for boys is quite another thing though. What do boys play with these days? Are Hot Wheels still as popular as they were in our time? Are Batman figurines still in production?

The fact that my favourite nephew’s big night was merely an hour away didn’t help either. Nor did the fact that I had to turn up in a costume.

45 minutes. Putting off Kaley Cuoco and the rest of the story on Nerdmabelia Scattering for later in the evening, I made my way to Landmark, unsure and annoyed. I was back in the car-park five minutes later, poorer by a grand but armed with the most powerful man in the universe (and, more importantly, the cheapest superhero figure in the store- Spidey cost a whopping 1500 bucks.)

I reached ten minutes late, but I was left hoping I’d taken longer. ‘Musical Chairs’ was followed by ‘What’s the good word?” (which I won, by the way) and the latter by an absurd spoon-game with an equally absurd name. As the evening drew to a long awaited climax, Birthday Boy was curious to know what his beloved Uncle Dela had got him. “I’ve brought you the most powerful man in the universe,” I announced, in the most dramatic baritone I could manage. His eyes lit up instantly. “Superman?” he enquired. "Try again", I replied reassuringly. “Wolverine?” he tried, half hopefully. “Wrong again, this is HE-MAN”, I declared at a pitch that made the hall shudder and the entire audience gape with what I believed was a stunned silence. It wasn’t, as I would realize a couple of minutes later. “Who the heck is this guy?” enquired Birthday Boy.

Is DC Comics’ marketing division listening?

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The clock ticks life away..

75 minutes to go...

Wikipedia tells me that I'll now be in the exalted company of Ana Ivanovic, Nicklas Bendtner, Anderson, Aaron Carter and Bow Wow, to name a few. The list goes on to list a thousand other names ranging from the strangely familiar (Michael Cera, Cybil..) to the completely unknown (Begüm Dalgalar?). As I went through it, I found myself wondering, not for the first time, whether I even deserved to be in that list, albeit with a million other losers for company. At times I wonder, is it just me or do all twenty-year olds love watching Tom and Jerry? Does Bendtner still wear a helmet and pretend to be Darth Vader? Does Anderson still spend hours playing with his Hot Wheels collection, painstakingly collected over 17 years of haggles and bargains? Life has been a blur. Age has come about far sooner than I would have liked it to, and sadly, maturity seems to taking its own jolly time to set in, leaving me stuck between a world where I don't belong and another where I shouldn't.

My melancholic reverie, sadly, was cut dismally short by the Envious Samaritan's remark, made more than half seriously, that I'm fast turning into a far gloomier version of the Decayed Canine. Scary thought that.

P.S: Contrary to what the title might suggest, I still loathe Linkin Park.

Footnote (courtesy Lefty): In a curious coincidence, HHH turned 18 this 18th, I turn 20 this 20th and Lefty 21 on the 21st.

Kaka, unfortunately, doesn't turn 24 this Thursday.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Five and out

Most forms of art have always been well beyond my modest comprehension capacity. The Guernica, to me, is no more than a bouillabaisse of weird shapes and even weirder-looking people. To the best of my sensibilities, the melting clocks in The Persistence of Memory are as profound as a Britney Spears solo. I firmly believe that, given the chance, my brother could easily better van Gogh’s wilting Sunflowers. The only strokes I found even remotely artistic are those off the willow of Sachin Tendulkar. There isn’t a masterpiece more beautiful than the one-handed backhand that won Federer the second set against the consistently erratic Safin. Maradona’s sixty yard run in that historic World Cup semifinal that led to Argentina’s second goal is more graceful than even the most stunning of ballet renditions. My indisposition towards all forms of art and dance notwithstanding, my loyalties in all sports have tilted towards the more artistic and graceful (with the notable exception of F1 where I have suffered from an inexplicable and often unreasonable predilection for McLaren right from the days when the penultimate page of The Khaleej Times was my sole link with the world of Ecclestones, Hakkinens and Schumachers).

The sad thing about sport, though, is that there is a lot more to it than mere grace. Resilience, strength and some luck is often all it takes to excel. Then again, success is one thing and greatness quite another. For all their talent, Johan Cryuff and his legendary Clockwork Oranje never won a major tournament. Despite being the more elegant and technically sound of the two, Mark Waugh could not compeer his prolific twin. More recently, Chelsea were inches away from lifting the Champions League earlier this summer. Indeed, a certain Geenius and a Kangaroo Cub would even argue, not entirely without reason, that they were the more deserving of the two sides. Yet, even if John Terry not succumbed to that historic (and hilarious) slip, a United fan would still have gone home proud of the many moments of genius displayed by his side. I could spend all day describing Scholes’ thunderbolt at Camp Nou. I could write pages and pages on Rooney’s inch-perfect thirty yard pass that nearly led to United’s second goal at Moscow. What memories would have Chelsea carried home from the tournament? Those of the two million own goals that the opposition defenders chose to score for them, realizing that such feats were well beyond the modest capabilities of Drogba and Sheva? Or those of the three million deflections that led to the few goals that Chelsea players scored for themselves?

Though it did in Moscow, fortune doesn’t always favour the worthy. Case in point: the Wimbledon finals. Though out-of-sorts initially, Federer’s game was as imperial as ever by the third set. He seemed to have clawed his way back into the game from two sets down, and with the third set in a row entering tie-breakers, I had a hunch that Federer was well on course to breaking Borg’s record. History, sadly, chose to repeat itself, with Rafa replacing McEnroe in the encore. To his credit, Rafa has come a long way from the brash teenager whose resilience was his sole weapon who made it to the finals two years ago. And yet, even the most loyal of the Spaniard’s supporters wouldn’t declare him a better player than the Swiss Master.

Claude Makelele can get away with a thousand more fouls and he can still not hope to equal Zidane even in his wildest dreams. MS Dhoni can endorse a zillion more products and he still won’t get any closer to the iconic status enjoyed by Sachin. Rafa’s energy and baseliners may win him ten more Wimbledon titles in the years to come, and yet, he’ll still be second best to Federer.

A year ago, 2008 seemed to be year that would be remembered in the history books as the one when Federer scaled Mount Sampras and Mount Borg. Sadly, nothing has gone his way and his grand slam tally has all but stagnated at 12. Mount Sampras seems to be slipping away with each passing tournament and Mount Borg now an impossibility. And yet, despite the prospects of retirement looming large at the mature age of 26, Federer can still walk into the sunset with his chest held high. "I'm happy the way I fought", said the great man after the epic battle, "that's all I could really do."

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Burgundy Alert

For a good part of my childhood, I believed that the world was entirely black and white until a few decades ago, with seas devoid of their azure and meadows of their verdure. Colour, like TV, chocolates, Hot Wheels and most other wonderful things in the world must be one of mankind’s brainchildren (sic), I thought, deceived by the movies of that era. Realization dawned upon me soon enough, though, to this day, I often wonder if my apocryphal world would have a better place to live in. It would have been far simpler, if nothing else.

“It’s on the third row in the basement, a turquoise WagonR,” said my uncle, relenting to my innumerable requests for a drive. Now that I had his permission, I had a completely different obstacle to contend with. Not for the first time, the mention of a colour left me in a daze. Five minutes later, having tried the keys on every WagonR in sight, I learnt that turquoise is some weird shade of bluish-green.

I read a book by Sigmund Freud five years ago and decided to major in psychology, if only to prove him wrong. True to the middle-class values I was raised in, though, I took the road most travelled and ended up in R-land. I am as close to proving Freud wrong as Karan Johar is to making an intelligent movie, and the fact that psychology, philosophy and most other good electives have been done away with hardly helps my cause (Natural Disasters and Seismological Balances, anyone?) One of the few things I do know about human psychology is that we are all born with a voice within us that keeps telling us that there are millions out there superior in brain and brawn. Our entire life is spent fighting that voice. For some, this is all about leaving those around flipping through the dictionary at the slightest of opportunities (The Decayed Canine and his blog come to mind).

Having a good vocabulary is one thing. Dishing out ridiculously fancy terms like turquoise and burgundy like every other guy on the street knew them is quite another. What do you lose by calling burgundy dark-red? Or turquoise bluish-green? So the next time we converse, please bear in mind the fact that my vocabulary isn’t the best in the world, especially when it comes to colours (chromatically challenged, if you like). To the best of my knowledge, peach is a fruit. So is apricot. And I have no idea what mauve is.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I was reading Bachi Karkaria’s article on ‘Les Folies de Marrakech’- the Islam-compatible cabaret minus the usual g-strings, low-waists et al. Think about it, a cabaret without flesh is like chocolate without sin. If you feel virtuous about it, you are taking away its essential allure. This applies even to inseperable pairs without an element of forbidden salaciousness. Imagine Sholay without Gabbar or Mourinho without the loose-talk. They just feel strangely incomplete.


I have enjoyed pulling people’s legs ever since the day I was born.  Perhaps a harbinger of the onset of maturity, I have mellowed down considerably over the last two years. Nevertheless, over my long career, my casualties have all been of two knds: those who hide their displeasure at being teased and those who don’t. Three years ago, though, I met a person who fell into neither of the aforementioned categories. The guy had an ego the size of my toe-nail. I could have teased him for the rest of his life and he still wouldn’t have cared. Worse, the entire leg-pulling ritual seemed to provide him as much pleasure as it provided me. Ridiculing him was like, in many ways, the Islam-compatible cabaret – it just wasn’t fun anymore.


The eighteen years of my existence prior to my arrival in R-Land took me to 3 different cities and 5 different schools. More out of nostalgia than anything else, I make it a point to visit them whenever I get the time. Friends had Central Perk. HIMYM has McLaren’s. Seinfeld had Monk’s Café. R-Land has Alpahar and Nesci. And PSBB had AB. I don’t even remember what the A stood for any more, but one thing I do remember is that I loved the Bhel Puri there. It neither tasted nor looked like the eponymous Chaat dish we have all grown to love but in its own way, it was delicious.  As the final year of my schooling dawned, I returned to PSBB (and to AB) one last time. The price of the Bhel Puri had increased by a buck since my last visit. The quantity seemed to have shrunk too. AB had also adopted a flashier new board in my year-long absence. One thing that hadn’t changed, thankfully, was the taste of the Bhel Puri, which was just as heavenly as it was a year ago. Mmmm…


While I made love to my Bhel Puri an over-sized fellow customer had his eyes fixed upon me. Worse, he was smiling at me. There was nothing to be done but return the smile. And yet, I didn’t. Two minutes later, a historic conversation began.


Unknown Fat Guy: "Hi. Do you study in PSBB?"

Me: "No, but I used to until a year ago."

UFG: "Oh, when did you pass out? (which, by the way, is a phrase that annoys me. ‘To pass out’, as far as I’m concerned, is to faint.)

Me: "Yesterday, when van Nistelrooy missed the penalty against Arsenal."

UFG: "What?"

Me: "Never mind. Which class are you in?"

UFG: "I’ll be going to the 12th this year."

Me: "Oh nice. I was your batch-mate until a year ago."

UFG: "Wow, then do you know *some random name*?"

Me: "No."

UFG: "You must be knowing *some other random name*?"

Me: "No, I don’t."

50 random names later, he still wouldn’t give up. Eventually, I decided the only way I could end this conversation was by humouring the bonehead. I went on to claim to know a dozen people I hadn’t even heard of. On that happy note, I thought the conversation would be wrapped up. I couldn’t  have been more mistaken.

UFG: "You know so many people I know. I know so many people you know. Yet I don’t know you and you don’t know me. Isn’t that amazing?"

Me: "You know what else is amazing? That you’re still alive."

UFG: "Haha. You’re funny."

Me: "Haha. You’re not."

UFG: "Hahaha. Anyway, I’m waiting for a friend of mine. Wonder why he isn’t here yet."

Me: "I’m not surprised."

UFG: "Why?"

Me: "It’s just that you’re really Boring. With a capital B."

UFG: "Hahaha."

Me: "How is that funny?"

UFG: "My friends call me the Big B. You said I was Boring with a Big B. Pun, see?"

Me: (stunned silence)

I had given up by now. The only way this conversation could be concluded was by landing a tight slap right across his face, I decided. While I prepared for the inevitable, he went on, blissfully unaware of what lay in store for him…

UFG: "So where do you study now?"

Me: "DAV Boys’, Lloyds Road."

UFG: "Why did you join a boys’ school?"

Me: "I realized I was gay a couple of years ago."

UFG: "Err… umm… it’s getting late. I think I should leave. Bye."

Me: (to myself) "Wow, it's the third time that has worked."


…. and Dela lived happily ever after.  

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Fate, luck and all that jazz

You are what you read, someone once told me. Should this be true of the newspapers in India, our fellow countrymen fall into two main categories: the Leftists and the voyeurs (the third major daily has been omitted owing to the fact that it is read by no one apart from PeeTeeVee and Lefty.) This being the case, the ones like yours truly who are a bit of both (or neither) are left with no choice but to buy both newspapers (or neither).  Throughout my first year, the paper-wala, at my behest, dutifully dropped both The Hindu and The Times of India at my doorstep well before I woke up. Once I did, I’d ‘see’ the Times and then go on to read the Hindu. The shortcomings were many. WHile one had a bikini-clad Eva Langoria sitting right in the middle of an article on the Chennai Super Kings' recent drubbing, the other is as interesting as Morrison and Boyd. Then again, it is, as PeeTeeVee puts it, a question of alternatives.


My roomie, on the other hand swore by the Times. Not that he ever read it though, apart from the early morning five minute ‘flip-through’ ritual every Sunday. After the routine comments on Sachin’s form, Icevarya’s weight and Klodia Seefar’s looks, he would proceed to the sports column. Not that he followed any sport. What drew his attention was the astrology column on the left corner of the page by a certain Bejan Daruwala, which he recommended to every third person he met.  Worse, he’d lock himself indoors if Mr. Daruwala warned him of a physical injury. ‘He even predicted my grades accurately’, he claimed, while conveniently ignoring  Daruwala's prophecies on his love life, knowing that they’d never come true. Not in R-land anyway.


Han Solo is byfar my all-time favourite fictional character, followed by Aragorn and Tyler Durden. Perhaps as a consequence of this, I find the entire concept of 'destiny' phoney. Soothsaying even more so.  The very existence of a predetermined course of events, never mind its correlation with stars, palms and whatnot, seems outlandish. Should ‘destiny’ exist, why would I feel a need to do anything at all? Would I rather not sit back with a bag of pop-corn and watch history take its course?


As much as I love dismissing fate as zilch, there are times when even I cannot help but feel an external hand manipulating our actions and their outcomes. On the 21st of May, Ronaldo missed a penalty for Manchester United in the Champions League final at Moscow. John Terry and Chelsea were one kick away from lifting their maiden European trophy. Just when all seemed lost, Terry slipped as he took his shot, and sent the ball dismally wide. Two shots later, Edwin van der Sar saved Nicolas Anelka’s shot and sealed United’s third European Cup and the first since the turn of the millennium.


Sir Alex Ferguson called it ‘fate’. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. But one fact that even I can’t belie is that a force well beyond my comprehension was at work that night at Moscow. At any rate, the trophy is ours. Glory, glory….


Monday, 12 May 2008

The Other Side

“You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side.”

In the words of a great soul, “The oddest thing about life is that when you finally get something you hoped and prayed for, you realize that it wasn’t worth the effort in the first place.” These 27 words practically sum up everything that I’ve been through over the last fortnight. Oh, and just for the record, the aforementioned ‘great soul’ is none other than *wait for it* yours truly.

Unending syllabi, lousy vivas and lousier examinations notwithstanding, there is no fortnight more eventful than the one preceding the end-sems. It always begins with detailed study-schedules to make up for the mistakes and ‘C+’s of the past and spend days on end with those lovely red-bound manuscripts that lay forgotten under the bed ever since the start of the sem. Plans make way for hopes and dreams of an unusually simple paper or of getting a physics-defying view of the answer script of the 9 pointer two seats beside you. As D-day approaches, the too fade away, to be replaced by prayers and eventually by just an urge to get the whole thing over and done with.

My fifteen days of ‘preparation’ have all gone the same way. I woke up cursing my annoyingly loud alarm and reached the mess in a record-breaking three minutes and forty seconds, well in time for the first meal of the day- lunch. This was followed by a five minute long walk to the library, a twenty minute long search for some book that sounded at least remotely familiar, and a forty minute search for a seat with a perfect view of the hot fourth year girl two floors below. Once seated, I laboriously placed the two-pound book in front of me and studied. And studied. And studied. And studied. And studied. And studied. Or so it would have seemed to a naïve onlooker. I’ve scaled the Everest, scored goals at the Old Trafford, dated Cobie Smulders and won a Nobel Prize- all while staring blankly at those two thousand yellow-tinted sheets of paper.

Eventually, the shortcomings of my preparation came to light, shattering all my hopes of improving on the slew of C+s and Bs that stood beside my name last semester. All that remained was an eagerness to end up on the other side of the end sems- three months in a world without alarm clocks and lecture notes. Three months of unlimited sleep, food, movies and TV. Three months with Robin Scherbatsky, Frederic Barbarossa and Shannon Rutherford.

Nothing, though, is as beautiful as it is in your dreams. Now that I am on the other side, life seems just as boring. Only more so. HIMYM has nothing going for it apart from the fact that Cobie Smulders is the most beautiful woman alive. Lost is as interesting as a game of chess and the only movies on our LAN that I haven’t seen half a dozen times are the uber-lame romantic comedies that I wouldn’t watch unless my life depended on it.

And talking of being on the ‘other side’, now that I have completed my second year here (or so I hope), I am now on the wrong side of ‘the wall between the young and the young-at-heart, as Lefty fondly refers to it. Five hundred more morons will call me ‘sir’ and idolize me when I return to R-Land after the summer break. Oh crap, I’m dreaming again.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

How the Maddu guy ordered tea

Relativity has always fascinated me. A minute on a hot stove, as Einstein so wonderfully put it, always seems like an hour, while one next to a hot girl seems like a second. In a classic case of the former, the last two weeks have been excruciatingly long. Confined to G86 with my laptop as my sole link with the rest of the world, it was only now that I realized why solitary imprisonment is meted out only to the most notorious of criminals.


The last fortnight saw the end of my longstanding loyalty to Opera. More out of the need for a change than that for a better browser, I have switched to Safari. A fancy new browser notwithstanding, the internet has all but lost its charm. Stage6 is now defunct, and Youtube takes millennia to load. It’s been a while since I deleted my Facebook account, and the 4000 odd spammed mails in my Gmail account have made me refrain from checking my mail altogether.  My GTalk account overflows with the ids of relatives I barely know and friends long since forgotten. The once addictive Orkut has become a pain, thanks to the one million scraps I receive daily on how I could unlock any album in a jiffy and the two million more saying that some fictitious girl had mentioned me in her ‘about me’ column. Me, of all the people in the world. Snowfall in the Sahara might have sounded more credible.


With little coming from my fellow bloggers in terms of entertainment, there was nothing to be done apart from some deep soul-searching. Even as the twilight of my teenage approaches, there is so much about myself that I can barely understand. I turned, yet again, to the internet for answers. What I found, though, only made me feel worse.


According to, I am ‘creative, smart, idealist, loner, attracted to sad things, disorganized, avoidant and can be overwhelmed by unpleasant feelings.


There was something about the result (look to your top-right-corner for details) that it occupied all my thoughts for the next couple of days. It wasn’t the not-so-flattering title of a ‘dreamer’ that bothered me. It wasn’t the fact that I had fallen into what seemed to be the worst of the 16 types on the database.  It wasn’t the twenty pathetic career matches (massage therapist, librarian, church worker, to name a few) that I received. It wasn’t even the fact that the Bulk, B-Pot and the Super Nerd had all walked away with fancy descriptions and career matches. What irked me the most was the knowledge that every single word on that page was true. 20 years of my existence had come down to just 75 seemingly absurd questions.


The list of personalities I resembled, though, did well to cheer me up- JRR Tolkien, Shakespeare, Peter Jackson, Fox Mulder and most importantly, Calvin! Hmmm, the test wasn’t so bad after all.


Elsewhere, a fairytale weekend saw United hold off the resilient Gunners (albeit with some help from Lady Luck and Emmanuel Adebayor) and Chel$ki slip against the Latics. The Premiership seems destined for Old Trafford. Again. Next stop- Camp Nou.

Glory Glory Man. United!


P.S: Pay no heed to the title. It alludes to a very lame PJ I heard way back in high school. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Comfortably Numb

The clocks in my room unanimously read 1 AM, save the one on my ‘study’-table that had acquired a stubborn liking for the 5 o’ clock mark ever since it’s batteries went dry a couple of months ago. Gripping my crutches, I set off on the excruciating journey to the canteen. On another day, I would have made it in under 15 seconds. Today, it took all of two minutes, thanks to the fact that I couldn’t take more than 5 steps at a stretch without stumbling. Nothing had hurt even half as much as this- not the huge bruise on my knee that has left me with a permanent scar, not the fractured bones in my forearm, not even the pin that I stapled into my finger as part of a game of ‘Dare or Confession’. With a torn ligament (and a two-foot long coating of Plaster of Paris) on my right ankle and a humongous blister on my left, if you were one of my hind-limbs, life just couldn’t get any worse.

I ordered myself a coffee and took the seat beside the lawns. The coffee was served and was halfway down my throat in the space of a few seconds. The warmth of the beverage spread to my entire body- for a few beautiful minutes, even my feet didn’t hurt much. A wonderful numbness engulfed me. This is probably what they call nirvana, I thought to myself. Though the pain was far from gone, intoxicated by the caffeine, my brain chose to ignore them, leaving me in a state of benumbed bliss.

Twelve hours later I was in an examination hall filled with an eerie silence uncharacteristic of the crowd of eighty hooligans that occupied it. The sheet I held in my hand made as much sense as a medieval Incan manuscript. As I looked at the questions on Laplace, Fourier, Poisson and a dozen other transforms with fancy names, I couldn’t agree more with Sushi and his views on the same. Exasperated, more out of habit than nervousness, I began chewing whatever little keratin was left on my finger-tips. Bored of that as well, I began counting the number of birds I could spot in the trees below, hoping to improve on my ten-minute-old tally of fourteen.

Two hours later, I turned up at another venue for another paper, though, sadly, the events that followed were the same as the ones before. The three tests today had a total of twenty two questions in all, and I managed to answer just one of them correctly. Yes, you read right. One. One in twenty two. Wes Brown probably has a better goals-to-games ratio than that. On the rickshaw ride back home, I couldn’t help but reflect on all that R-Land had done to me during my two year stay here. Two years ago, I would have died of shame had I performed half as badly as this in any examination. All of a sudden, I am this low-scoring backbencher who revels in being one. It’s hard to believe that until recently I was on par with the Ayush Goyals and Ashish Agarwals of the world, maybe even a shade ahead, if JEE rank is anything to go by. What is it that has gone wrong in the two years hence? Is it just another classic case of my indulging myself a tad too much, thanks to my new-found freedom? My fast-increasing age notwithstanding, am I still incapable of drawing a line between academics and indulgences? I entered my room determined to resurrect the Dela of old- the focused teenager who had inexplicably vanished in the twists and turns of time and fate. Ten minutes later though, another game of Warcraft commenced on our LAN, and I was the first to join in. For better or for worse, I have become impervious to the dispiriting effects of lousy grades and single-digit test scores. A CGPA like mine would have made an average person writhe, but I’m above all that. However dismal the score, I can face it bravely. Even without coffee.

‘I have become….. comfortably numb.’

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


Impossible, Adolf Dassler (and the innumerable celebrities endorsing his products) would have me believe, is nothing. Day in and day out, hitherto unconquered peaks are scaled, and new ones are discovered which, in time, will meet the same fate. At another level, everyone around us seems to be on a perennial mission to shatter every existing notion or opinion related to them, however remotely so. In the twelve hours that preceded (and inspired) this post, The Bulk had fewer naans than me, the Bihari Potter lost his temper, I stumbled upon a Nirvana song that actually made sense (it was 'Sliver', for those of you who care), and, in the biggest shock of them all, the iPot said something intelligent (just for the record, he said that I was a genius). Miracles, it seems, shall never cease. The ‘impossible’ seems to have a habit of failing to live up to its name.

‘Once bitten, twice sorry’ is one of the more popular of the dime-a-dozen fancy kibitzes you dish out to any freshie willing to endure your free advice out of fear or, on the odd occasion, genuine interest. Practising it, tough, is a different ball game altogether- one I'm particularly lousy at. Ten years ago, I watched Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and swore never to watch another Bollywood movie ever in my life again. Trust me, those were the twenty happiest days of my life. The oath was broken, and a couple of hours later, my hope that Bollywood might, at least by accident, come up with something decent met the same fate. Mast, Hello Brother, Karan Arjun, Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, K3G, Om Shanti Om and a dozen other movies have all been followed by fugacious vows to the same effect. In spite of the aforementioned bilge, somehow, time and again I muster the courage to attempt to endure more of the zilch that comes out of our tinsel-town. Yesterday, another entry was made to the long list above- Race.

I had to watch Pulp Fiction thrice to grasp what Quentin Tarantino was trying to tell me. It was the same with ‘The Butterfly Effect.’ But after understanding the underlying message, you are left with a feeling that it was worth all the effort. Race, presumably, is Bollywood’s answer to Pulp Fiction. Minus the satisfaction of course. Fpr one thing, the film has more twists than dialogues. Bipasha Basu, we’re initially told, is Akshay(e?) Khanna’s love interest. Five minutes later, she is shown coochie-cooing with Saif. Twenty minutes later, she sings a duet with Akshay. Couple this with the fact that there are six lead characters in the movie and you’ll understand why, at the end of the movie, I could barely spell my own name right.

Why did I start off with all that gibberish on the ‘impossible’, you ask? Race, too, achieved something incredible. It made me (and there’s no way I can understate the emphasis on the ‘me’) hate a movie that had both Katrina Kaif and Sameera Reddy in it. Before dismissing this post as another of my nonsensical, inebriated dawdles, look closer, dear reader. By narrating two seemingly irrelevant anecdotes and linking (or at least trying to) them with an absurd, virtually non-existent connection, (the genius that I am) I have made you realize exactly how you would feel after watching Race. Did someone say a picture was worth a thousand words?

P.S: Don’t pay much attention to the title. I’ve been working on TeChase a tad too long.
P.P.S: For the lesser-informed of my readers, TeChase was an online quiz that had questions ranging from the lame (Decipher, ‘River IIIIIOOOIIOOOOIOOOO’.) to the ultra-lame (Connect almonds and the phrase, ‘I love EVERY SONG you SING’).
P.P.P.S: Just for the record, I finished first.
P.P.P.P.S: Modesty is my middle name.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Wherever I may roam

“How can you not like idlies da?’, catechized the Super Nerd, his mouth still filled with the rock-hard rice cakes that the Azad mess specialized in. “It’s something like ending each sentence with a ‘da’- it’s the very basic definition of a South Indian. It's what sets us apart.” I still couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. At any rate, United had just trounced the Toons in their own backyard, and I wasn’t going to ruin my mood over a couple of idlies. “Oh, I forgot,” he added, almost as an afterthought, “you aren't a true Southie anyway.” He looked at me with a part-apologetic, part-‘you deserved it’, expression; perhaps expecting to find me miffed. Maybe I should have been. For some reason, I wasn't.

There was a time when overhearing Matkas gossiping in Tamil was all it took to make my heart skip a few dozen beats. The mention of Bangalore was followed by an over-enthusiastic, ‘where in Bangalore?’ The poster of Trisha in the Ganga canteen was all it took to set off a train of thought that inevitably revolved around some place downsouth. Lately, though, like almost everything else I ever believed in, the idea of 'home' seems to have fallen apart.

As I near the halfway mark of my stay in R-Land, I can't help but wonder how much of all this I would actually grow to miss. I will miss the people, certainly, but what else? The library that I visit for the sole purpose of checking my mail? Or the Electrical Department, that has been ever so kind in awarding me more C-pluses than I could ever keep count of? Home, I've come to believe, is no more than an illusion- a mirage, if you like, of a place that promised a better life. For some, the mirage stems from their own memories of their halcyon days of youth. For others, it stems from the self-erected barriers of 'us-and-them'.

Even as I type this out, elsewhere in the country, Biharis are being stoned for committing the 'crime' of settling in another part of their own country. To make matters worse, similar sentiments have been voiced in the two other major cities of the south, though, thankfully, they have, at least so far, remained just voices of dissent. Being a part-maddu, part-kaddu, part-nothing who has spent a good part of his life abroad, the only language in which I can claim a reasonable degree of fluency is the lingua pura. My Tamil starts and ends with the knowledge of the Chennai argot and a dozen Superstar punch-dialogues that four years in Chennai are bound to endow one with. Bargaining with the auto-rickshaw wallah for a ride to 4th block is all I can manage in Kannada. Come to think of it, should the 'maratha manoos' syndrome spread to the rest of the country, I would probably get lynched in just about every single part of the country.

When will we realize that a language is only a means of communication and nothing more? That, at the end of the day you are who you choose to be, and the accident of birth in a particular place has little to do with that? It is sad that, in 1956, the government of our country chose to divide our country on a linguistic basis. What is even sadder is that, 50 years hence, we still haven’t got over those divisions.

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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Il Joga Bonito

There are two kinds of world: the one we dream about and the real one. In the former, I am a shade over 6-foot-4, have the brains of Einstein and the looks of George Clooney. I managed only a 9.8 in the previous semester, and hope to improve. I have the voice of Jim Morrison and the oratory of Mark Anthony (the historic character, mind you). My blog has a readership rivalled only by LOTR, with the Potter series at a far-behind five-hundred-and-second.

Regarding the latter, though, the lesser said the better. But there are times in our life when the two converge, everything seems to be going right and you have to pinch yourself to quell your fears that this was another of those sundry corny stories that ended with the cliched, 'and my mom woke me up and I realized that I had been dreaming all along.' It is days like these that remain etched in our memories- the mid sems, the grades and the innumerable other woes of daily life, somehow, fade into oblivion. It is days like these that we'll tell our grandchildren about some desolate afternoon in a summer decades from now.

Today was one such day. For one thing, we were served Gobi Manchurian in the mess. For another, Manchester United knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup, and how! It was the kind of thing fairytales are made of. Twenty minutes into the game and I realized why Old Trafford was called the Theatre of Dreams. The Red Devils were at their best, though their cause was helped to a large extent by a series of bloopers from an out-of-sorts Gunners side.

'We won!' I exclaimed, much to the perplexity of Miss Muffet. 'Some team, representing a city you haven't even been to, won', she opined. 'What do you mean 'we'?' In more ways than one, football craze is like religion. In both, the sceptic and the believer are in a perennial state of mutual sympathy. The former pities the latter for his apparent immaturity, while the latter does so for all that the sceptic loses out on due to his apathy.

Watching Nani and Anderson make a mockery of the hapless Arsenal defence must have been heart- breaking for any gunner, especially for one as loyal as the Bulk. I couldn't help but notice, though, that in spite of his disappointment, he couldn't help but applaud Nani's artistry. United isn't just about eleven players representing Manchester, just as Arsenal isn't about London, or Liverpool about the Merseyside. Football isn't just about twenty-two players chasing a ball. It's about victory and defeat, ecstasy and heartbreaks, passion and hope, heroes and villains, glory and disgrace. Football is about life, and it takes a while for one to realize how similar the two are. Football shows you how there are days when nothing goes your way no matter how hard you try, and how there are others when you are off colour and yet, manage to walk away with the honours. How it is one thing to talk about fairplay and honesty but quite another to display it on a field with a million eyes on you. How it is easy to stand by a team in victory, but takes tonnes of faith and resolve to do so in defeat. How no matter which side you are on, the game always comes first.

As I watch my fellow United supporters go wild in celebration, I realize that no matter how hard I tried, there was no plausible explanation for our fervour (the passion?). We know our whistles and applause in the Cautley TV Room will never get anywhere near the ears of Sir Alex Ferguson, and yet, we cheer United on just about as fervently as anyone seated in Old Trafford itself. This is, as PeeTeeVee, aptly put it, a love beyond logic. 'Some day', Miss Muffet goes on, 'you'll grow up and look back and laugh at the lameness of it all.' Someday, maybe. But I sincerely hope and pray that such a day never comes.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Growing down?

If there is one thing that maddus (citation: short for madrasis, a hyper-intelligent race hailing from the southern half of India.) love more than food and the Superstar, it is rain. We look forward to the monsoons the way a kid anticipates Christmas, only more eagerly. In cold and frigid R-land though, any form of precipitation is far from welcome, though that only seems to encourage Mother Nature to bless us with all the rain in the world. The icy droplets pierce one's skin like needles, and make the already near-impossible ordeal of attending the 9 o' clock lecture all the more cumbersome.

For me, though, there is a silver lining in the clouds after all. The rains, and the puddles that they bring along, mean that I can exhibit my dexterity in the art of drawing shapes on the pavement with my wet shoe-heels. The other day I even managed to write 'Dela' in the aforementioned manner. As I looked at my work of genius, oddly, it was not pride that I felt. The fact that it had come out brilliantly notwithstanding, for the first time, I felt embarrassed and bewildered by my own puerility.

As I look around, I realize that everyone around me has a sense of direction. Some are trying to put on some flab, while others are trying to lose theirs. Some are trying hard to hold on to the coveted DR-1 (short for department rank), while others are trying to make up for the uncharacteristic 7 that they scored in the autumn semester. Some are growing locks, albeit with plans to go bald the following semester. Others are busy apping away to glory to all and sundry for an internship in the suburbs of Siberia. Some moving closer to their dreams, others entrenching themselves in the long-forgotten art of studying. Summing up, everyone is moving forward. I, on the other hand, seem to be living life in reverse..

When I was eight years old, I was gripped by the age-old existential question- Who am I? People would point to their bodies, their hearts, their heads and I would drive them up the wall by saying, but that’s your body, who are you?
Now, at the age of nineteen, I crave Snickers bars.

As a sixteen year-old, I religiously attended classes. As an undergrad student, I run out of class midway through a lecture, having already procured the all-important 'P' next to my name. Moving up in life? Two years ago, I was the ideal high school student- teacher's pet (well, in all subjects except for biology, at least) and armed with a Kevin Arnold-esque boyish charm. Today, half my professors don't even know my name, and even those who do, know me for all the wrong reasons.

Why am I becoming shallower with every passing minute? Is the Roorkee water to blame?

At times I wonder, are you allotted just a certain amount of maturity? What if I used it all up as an annoying over-smart kid? Do I resign myself to a lifetime of finding joy in X-Men, puddles and Snickers bars?

Thursday, 17 January 2008


On the left foot, first there is God, then there is Roberto Carlos, and then there is Dela. The Ravindra lawns shall forever be haunted by the magic that was weaved by my left foot on that sodden turf. It has sent shivers down the spines of goalkeepers and terrorized the best of defences. Of late though, my left foot is finding mention in a different context altogether. Several unworthy souls have been alluding to the fact that I have two of them. Metaphorically of course.

Why I never dance is a question I have been asked time and again, to which I have this standard reply- 'Why do you never punch yourself in the face?' This is usually followed by a perplexed gaze (like the one I sport during Solid Mech lectures), though ruminating on the statement further makes the listener realize the depth and veracity in it (Pulp Fiction?). It's not a question of my inability to dance or my lack of grace. It's more a question of not making a fool of myself. It's not that I don't appreciate music. I just don't believe that swinging your limbs around wildly like a dunce is the only way of doing so.

'Morons of a feather flock together', is a cooked up, but very true saying. Coincidentally or otherwise, there isn't a single soul in Morons Inc. that can dance. That, of course, suits me perfectly. The other day, hyde Park was converted into a makeshift discotheque, with a dimwit with a lousy accent for a DJ ('The next saang is the dedicate aaf the aadio secsun.') and a hundred more dimwits for 'dancers'. What were we doing at a discotheque, you ask? We had been informed by our sources that popcorn was being distributed at Hyde Park, and thanks to our legendary appetites, we set out on our quest for popcorn right after dinner. Well, there was no popcorn, but we weren't complaining. The entertainment outdid our expectations. It was like watching a 100 Bhojpuri heroes performing 'Thani sa Jeans' simultaneously. The DJ's accent only added to all the fun. We left an hour later- tired, but thoroughly entertained, having imitated the steps of almost every other dolt on the dance floor.

I recently made a list of things that I couldn't do but would love to. As you would expect, singing was right on top of the list, followed by drawing, bowling (as in the gentleman's game), why, even skiing! Curiously enougyh, dancing did not find a place. I'm a Maddu, for God's sake. Dancing isn't in my blood. I hail from a land where all the hero ever does is walk around flashing his bright red pants and electric blue tees. It's always the heroines who do the dancing around. Of course, every now and then, there are noteworthy (and hilarious) exceptions like 'Tic Tic Tic', but by and large, dancing is a strict no-no downsouth. Having said that, it's not like I'm a complete goner when it comes to dancing. the other day, while dusting my room (hear hear!) I found a souvenir from the days of yore- a certificate to the effect that Abhishek Sunder(Hmph) was the best dancer in 'Salsa/Western' category. It also said that I was a student of class Kindergarten B, but that's beside the point.

Two left feet, anyone?

Monday, 7 January 2008

There and Back Again: A Spider's Tale

DISCLAIMER: This piece was written by the author when his mind was under the influence of the inimical combination of jetlag and boredom. If you find it weird and meaningless, do not
be surprised. That's how it was intended to be.

'The spiders all in tune,
The evening of the moon,
Dreams are made winding through my head.'

Had it not been for the fact that they made no sense to me, I would have sued System of a Down for these lines ages ago. Why can't man leave us alone? There is no superhero named Locust Man. There is no Grasshopper Solitaire. Lamborghini doesn't call the convertible variant of Gallardo a wasp. Why does it always have to be us spiders? Not only are we used as and when needed, our cities are mercilessly destroyed every now and then, and the remains are treated like dirt. It is no surprise, hence, that we loathe men, particularly the ones finicky about cleanliness.

I am more broad-minded though, at least by arachnid standards. Men are not always nefarious beings. They have their soft spots, too. Mankind is extremely considerate at times, especially when it comes to issues such as plagiarism. I wrote a novel recently titled 'Uragon', which was an outright rip-off of 'Lord of the Rings' (a novel by a human named Tolkien). Even the name of my protagonist sounded similar to the one in the original, Aragorn. Though, being an Arachnid, I did not have anything to fear, I was still afraid that, someday, my stealth would be discovered. My fears were quelled a few years ago thpugh, when I learnt that another rip-off, this time by a fellow human, had been released, and this time around, the protagonist was named Eragon- another spin-off of Aragorn. Why, I even heard that, despite the obvious plagiarism, it turned out to be a huge success. What a bunch of dolts!

I happen to have an inexplicable liking for the human in whose room I am put up. Though it may sound outlandish, we have a lot in common. Neither of us can sing too well. I have two, sorry, eight left feet, and he can't dance to save his life either. His aversion to cleanliness is what I like about him the most, though. His room has now become one of the most sought after locations in the country, though there are myths regarding the existence of a canine in Jawahar whose room is even filthier.

Dela has been acting weird today though. It is probably the chillness. Holy crap! Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Some orange-clad weirdo has just handed Dela a broom. I must warn the others before it's too

P.S: Got hit. Won't live much longer. Can't complete the story. G89 no longer safe. Don't mourn my death, brothers. Avenge it. Dela has turned over to the dark side. He's started cleaning his room. Et tu brute!