laibach and think of england.

November 27, 2010 § 9 Comments


i watched the harry potter movie a few days back. this was the first time watching one without having read the book first.  how dare i! i know, right?  and yet i did, shame on me. i was blushing from the moment we stepped in the theatre parking lot. i used to froth at the mouth at people like me, back in middle school. mark the semites with a yellow star! mark them, i say!

….which allows me to segue neatly into – primo levi’s if this is a man, which is quite simply a fantastic book. the story is bigger than the storyteller and the storyteller knows enough to let it tell itself; it’s a rare event for the two to come together. the grammar is precise and the narrative is  pitiless. it takes fine sense of tragicomedy to recognise ‘holocaust fatigue‘ even if it is easy enough to feel it, so it takes an exceptional writer to shake you out of it. perhaps only a survivor could do it, and we are lucky such a survivor was primo levi.

my parents holidayed in goa recently. they went to a stately resort in south goa, played some respectable carrom, drank some faultless feni, took some sunny pictures and brought themselves safely back home, bigger in tummy, lighter of wallet and completely unencumbered by any memories of goa outside the resort walls. not for them the draw of backs broken by cheap beds in cheaper hotels or the asthmatic pleasures of rajdoot rides, evidently.

well, what do i know? i haven’t been to goa at all.

the only memories i have of it are vicarious ones eaten hungrily off the internet. a million unknown sunburnt backpackers have given their goa to make me my image of mine. such are the wonders of the internet.

in other news, while my taste in music is what i call ‘non-partisan’ and others call ‘mtv’, youtube has recently held my hand and guided me gently to the wonders of dreamtheater and rammstein, both of whom are present favourites. then i also found laibach and megaherz.

all of this is immensely confusing and highly intriguing. i feel like i am in a foreign country and i don’t speak the language.  whither, lady gaga? show yourself, for i am lost!

google tells me that laibach members dress in ‘provocative communist and fascist clothing’ as ‘sarcastic comments’ supposedly reviling bad-ness of both. i find the idea of a german industrial metal band making public-service messages verrrry verrry funny. you know, the kind of funny you notice but if you mentioned it aloud, no one would laugh? i think they call it british humour.

heh heh heh, it’s a rum thing, old thing, what, and all that.

or maybe i just don’t have a sense of humour.

anyway, laibach does a lovely conan-the-barbarian cover of live is life, which i’ve only heard in its bubblegum avatar courtesy opus.the laibach version sort of makes you want to sprout chest hair, if you get what i mean.

i leave you now to eat curd rice and plantain bajji and die many small happy deaths.



exit, pursued by bear.

November 21, 2010 § 9 Comments

i watched a play on friday. i can safely say i did not understand it at all. i was blinking all through the conclusion but to everyone else, all was apparently Light. this sort of thing gives you faith that just because something is incomprehensible to you does not mean its existence is impossible.

very comforting, i think i am one step closer to finding religion.

either that, or nothing’s changed since vanity fair. :)

the play was at museum theatre, which is a lovely old building with a series of beautiful windows near the ceiling. there are white curtains over the windows, and the place is infested with bats. so in moments that the ancient AC vent chooses to splutter into life, there is a gentle shower of dust and confused bats on the tolerant audience below.

in the parking lot, there is a spreading almond tree with beautiful roots like a pianist’s fingers reaching into the street outside and dislodging stones from the footpath with a delightful sort of nonchalance. inside the gate, there is the theatre itself, a sprinkling of somnolent dogs and the occasional indifferent goat.

all is silent.

less than fifty feet away, there are traffic lights and commuters are yelling savugraaki how you got license also i dont know and autodrivers are shouting big car yuvaar having so anything you are saying? and eye-hurting neon shopfronts are shouting all manner of unimportant things , so it’s nice to know that hidden right there, if only you chose to look, there is a kindly stone mausoleum where you may escape to meditate amongst batdroppings and ghosts of dramas past.

so at museum theatre, i was surrounded by Beautiful People, the sort of crowd that makes you want to smooth your hair and smell your pits. there was a general atmosphere of blockprinted cotton and socialism;  all kisses were airy, all laughter was tinkly. i felt like i was walking through one cloud of lovely perfume after another, and at the end of every cloud was yet another Beautiful Person accessorising with Amrapali earrings and Fabindia opinions.

all very heady for someone whose work ethic and wardrobe may both be adequately summed up as Halfhearted.

i did end up watching another play there after the first one. it was hilarious, and i was sort of blown away by the articulation and the confidence in all those people on stage, all roughly my age. a little investigation unearthed useful information – school for the performing arts = free tickets = open entry.

this is beginning to sound like my sort of shindig, what?

of course, this creates the possibility of regular interaction with the intellectually emancipated amongst men, which may lead to a broadening of my own intellectual horizons.

perhaps even – nay, could it be? – an end to the fart jokes.


well, what do you know, gentlemen? this eliza may yet live her pygmalion. ;-)

takeaway philosophy, now with a free medium Coke.

November 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

so it’s just one of those days you’re working with lady gaga hoarsely blowing off alejandro in the background.

alejandro is such a convenient song. it’s not the most lyrically complex, so if you keep half a ear out for the chorus, you can just bellow ALEJANDRO-OOH, ALEJANDRO-OOHH whenever she does. it’s super forgettable, so you can sing your lusty sing and go on your bonny way without having gaga breathe heavily and maddeningly in your head all week after.

four more months are down and i am going home again.

in preparation, i am packing my bags, changing my face, upping my guard and lowering my hems.

idle wonderment of the day: is there anyone in the world who can look at all of the people you are, like every single one of them, and not resent you for choosing to be different people, all at once?

a little while back, i experienced a Perfect Day. it came about in a tangled, unexpected fashion, with bits and pieces falling in place all morning, but by the end, it was Perfect. the moment i realised that day had been perfect, i  cast my mind back looking for another day like that, and you know, i couldn’t find one. i don’t seem to have been paying enough attention. this looks like it may have been the first Perfect Day of my life.

i’m not sure what made it perfect, but im very curious. it was dinner and a movie with friends, and that just doesn’t happen enough. perhaps it was that. or perhaps it was the unexpected patch of giant red canna lilies at the theatre complex, or it could that i liked the way my clothes hung on me, or that odd moment when the light from the movie screen lit up the tears of laughter on her cheeks during the climax, or the fact that the persisting memory from that night is the sound of all of us laughing.

aishwarya rai is relaxing around a camera and doing a damn fine job of it.

for this vacation, i have cautious socialisation, coffee appreciation and arbitration planned out, and i am looking forward to every single one of those things; whenever i tire of them, i can pull out, oh yeah,  yet another book that i have been greedily stockpiling for this vacation, and read it while the light from the lighthouse shines into my room once every five seconds.

Ah do believe, deah mythical readuh, that this is what they mean when they say life is just poetry in motion.

paranoid schizophrenia, pigeon flavour.

November 12, 2010 § 2 Comments


i gave my public international law exam today. there were a pair of idiot pigeons (is there any other sort?) in the exam hall, so my answer paper is seventy percent pigeon-feathers by weight.

in other news, apparently the Companies Bill, 2009 is now going to be the Companies Bill, 2011.

which means of course that all the deeply analytical projects that have been submitted on the companies bill are good for a couple more cycles. man, those projects have really been around the block; i mean they’re practically smoking gold flakes and flashing cleavage now.

so, i’m, like, in law school. and we’re, like, not very principled. so, like, sue me.

but please don’t, i’m sort of impoverished.

(a pigeon has taken up residence in the toilet! is it too much to ask for an anxiety-free poop?)

songs usually come in, create a mood, tell a story, and pick up and walk away while you’re still feeling the mood but have no words to fill the vacuum with but your own. so you fit your stories to other people’s tunes. when you do it often enough it becomes predictable, and leads to playlists with titles like ‘sleep’ and ‘happydance’.

(pigeon here!)

the only exception is this. this does not fit on any playlist, and is usually played on its own.

it’s funny that you would never listen to music that did not provoke an emotion in you, and still think less of it for doing so.

and by you i mean me. of course.

(pigeon there!)

since it’s been all of twenty four minutes since i mentioned the weather, may i say that we’re having monsoonal evenings and wintry nights. and that i am not only confused, but also excited. shall i wash my woollens? will they dry? could it be time for (oh my god) gloves, yet? i think, i think i’ll tempt the gods today… i’m going out in a fleece shirt!!!ELEVEN!!!

we sure do love liviiiin’ on the edge, son.

in a week i will be joining the parentals and devilspawn sibling at the old homestead.

(everywhere is pigeon! pigeon!)

when people tell me they’ve lived all their lives in one house, i wonder if they realise what a miracle it is to be able to point to grimy palmprints under a switchboard and say, see, i used to live here even back when i was too short to reach the fan switch.


old age is fast approaching.


i wonder if my bodhi tree is cleverly disguised as a pigeon.

the one where jack puts down his lantern.

November 6, 2010 § 6 Comments

four cities, six schools, eight houses and twenty one years down, i do not have a home.

apparently, there is no way of forming an attachment to a city if you insist on viewing yourself as a perennial passer-through.

i’ve spent near on four years in one place, largely left to my own devices, unimpeded by either good judgment or parental concern, so one would imagine that i’d have poked around a good deal and would have generally Experienced Experiences and Made Memories. but i haven’t. it’s curious, now that i think about it, and a little sad. apathy has always been the safer choice, but safety does not make for memories you want to hold on to.

i sit in an auto on the way back to college and i look out at the cliffs and the buildings and the sand and the train tracks and i think, how little i know you. everytime i look at you it feels like i am looking at you for the first time. in four years i should have walked around the old city and discovered the best lac bangle seller and eaten the best mawa kachori made by the best local-secret sweetmaker, and i should be on first name terms with all the tonga-ride chaps, but i am not. i live within spitting distance of the great indian desert, and do you know when the last time was that i was in sitting distance (note clever wordplay) of a camel? 2007. two thousand and goddamn seven.

i couldn’t recommend to you one sugarcane juice seller over another, and all ghevars are alike to me. if you wanted to find a little-known but awesome place to eat, i’d have to direct you to a lonely planet guide. i could not tell you cute stories about getting lost on summer afternoons in the winding lanes of the old town where satisfyingly wrinkled, turbaned and moustachio-ed chaps (of the sort much feted by national geographic) live, because i have never allowed myself to do as much.

if life is supposed to be about the living of it, what have i gained from all these years of moving around? it appears that the only thing i have gained is the ability to be completely unaffected by the moving around. apathy has become a way of life, and now there is no anchor. whither, visceral memories? will the smell of stale maggi call back images of  hostel to me, fifty years from now?

doom and gloom. doom and gloom.

as it turns out, though, life has a way of sneaking up on you in little hallmark-esque moments when you’ve dully come to the conclusion you don’t have one. like in those moments you are sitting in an auto late one wintry evening and you’re blinded by the tears that the cold wind is forcing from your eyes and the only way you know you’ve reached college is when you smell just that exact combination of cigarette smoke, alcohol, maggi and petrol in the air that instinct tells you equals Law Student.

when i close my eyes now and concentrate, i can recollect exactly what smell that is again, and i know that i will call it up with just the same ease, fifty years from now. but if you asked me to describe it to you, i’d throw my hands up and i’d say well that’s impossible, isn’t it? you just had to be there to know it.

you just had to be there.

…and that feeling right there is exactly what i’ve been waiting for.

four cities, six schools, eight houses and twenty one years down, i may not have a home, but it looks like i just might be ready to find one.

a moral story (or) human failings

November 2, 2010 § 4 Comments

first, there were frogs.

but that is not how one begins a story.

what happened in the beginning was july. this year, we did not have an ugly july.

we had a relatively mild july, a july with cloudbursts and gentle rain and red skies and birds in puddles, and gasp – all together now – flowers. we cautiously enjoyed the pleasant mornings and the lovely evenings, ready to whip out our smug pessimism at the slightest sign of summer proper, which is characterised by unbearably hot sun and grimy, weatherbeaten populace whose only joy in life is the discussion, in gruesome detail, of how very hot this year’s summer is and how it is a record for all time, and how up in delhi they’re saying it’ll get even hotter before fall, and you know, in weather like this, pansy goras would be dropping like flies – but we? ha!

(flies remind me, those hundreds of frogs… oh wait. it isn’t time yet.)

summer is the angry blue-white of a hotmetal sky, delicately accessorised with the pink of sunburnt foreign exchange student. summer is mango shakes in our cafeteria and burning sand in our nostrils. summer is our Frenemy.

and this year we did not have this summer.

oh yes, we’d come prepared with our dupatta-shields and our extra-large umbrellas and our 55SPF sunblock and our righteous (and pre-emptive) irritation, but pfzzzt, just like that, just to screw with us, summer refused to happen. instead, here we were, a befuddled mass of undergraduate-ment, forced to enjoy Inclement Weather. oh, the injustice of it all.

we enjoyed it with a light hand and a heavy heart. we knew that the moment we enjoyed it with abandon, it would disappear as well.  we walked silently in the showers. we never complimented in more than the tersest  language.  (“it’s raining.” “yes.” “it’s nice.” “i suppose.”). whenever we slipped up and exclaimed at the magic of puddles, we took care to neutralise it by grumbling about the mudstains they left on our clothes. our enjoyment was marked by responsible exercise of gloomy restraint.

(meanwhile, what was happening, was frogs. frogs on the roads and frogs in the hostels. frogs in the corridors and on the steps. first the novelty of one frog and then the cuteness of two, and then…)

oh yes, there were the inevitable blithe exceptions to the rule, screeching and dancing in the rain and generally jinxing the lovely weather simply through their acknowledgment of it, but most of us took care to line the walls and frown a frown of disapproval at their irresponsibility and shake a headshake of sadness at their naivete. summer will be here soon, and it will be Hot, we moaned. winter will follow, and it will be Cold, we sobbed into our chai. this weather cannot last! we wrung our helpless hands, so unpredictable! all this Global Warming i tell you, we hissed in disapproval.

(…and then, the annoyance of a hundred! there was frogs everywhere! first we noticed, then we whined, then we grew tired of whining and simply stopped noticing the hundreds of thousands of little ugly bundles of moistness hopping about everywhere.)

eventually, inevitably, we relaxed. we began taking the fine weather for granted. we are having Fine Weather here in jodhpur, we proudly told our friends. we budgeted for rain while making plans. we even began to declare – alas, thoughtless naivete! – that jodhpur was possessed of a monsoon season of its own. we will segue gently and calmly from a pleasant monsoon to a lovely winter, we beamed. none of this nonsense hot summer for us.

and then the frogs began to die.

we did not notice that they were dying until the faint, empty frog-shaped outlines on the tar roads began outnumbering actual frogs themselves. frogs that hadn’t died as victims of hit-and-run accidents, were dying of dehydration, which in frog terms is pretty much evaporation because frogs are clearly ninety nine point one hundred percent water. so these frogs were dying every day, melting, fusing against the hot tar roads until all that was left of them was a chalk-like frog shaped outline. and these outlines were everywhere.

so far we’d only had our eyes on puzzlingly froggie-bereft roads. by the time realisation dawned and we’d looked up to the sky, the sky had changed to the merciless blue metal and the sun was beating down at 47 degrees centigrade.

sometime we hadn’t noticed, summer had sneaked up on us – and we’d only found out because it had evaporated our frogs.


what happened next? what could?

dupattas, of course, and umbrellas. socks in floaters, filled desert coolers. dehydrated pigeons falling off balconies. in a day or so it was as though our rainy season had never happened to us. in a day or two you could sit in our cafeteria and talk about how very hot this year’s summer is and how it is a record for all time, and how up in delhi they’re saying it’ll get even hotter before fall, and you know, in weather like this, pansy goras would be dropping like flies – but we? ha!

Not us!

Where Am I?

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