Monday, April 25, 2005


Ladies, Gentlemen and the midget dictator from a tiny south American state only Marquez knew about...

Greetings. This post is because of two wonderful people who posted comments yesterday and made the fishbowl seem suddenly gentler, and even huggable.

All of those who think U2 still got it... voila.


Tough, you think you've got the stuff
You're telling me and anyone
You're hard enough

You don't have to put up a fight
You don't have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don't have to go it alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

We fight all the time
You and I... that's alright
We're the same soul
I don't need... I don't need to hear you say
That if we weren't so alike
You'd like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don't have to go it alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

I know that we don't talk
I'm sick of it all
Can you hear me when I Sing,
you're the reason I sing
You're the reason why the opera is in me

Where are we now?
I've got to let you know
A house still doesn't make a home
Don't leave me here alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can't make it on your own
Sometimes you can't make it
The best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

- U2, 'Sometimes you can't make it on your own'; Album: how to dismantle an atomic bomb (2004)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Pronounced moe-HEE-toe

There are bars, and then there are bars.

Most of them tend to be the ones where try as you and the whiskey might, the taste of A4 paper and the scent of drying permanent marker ink just does not leave you. And whatever you wear, or who you go home with, it doesnt matter- lights or bass-thumping darkness, smoke or air conditioning, the music plays but it doesn't play YOU; it dribbles by over your shoes like an old labrador around lunch time, and the absurdity increases because however far gone you are, you can still count off tomorrow's things to-do list.

See, this lacks magic. And it's boring.

A good bar is like a good cocktail- rare. Too much ice, too much sugar, or too much alcohol, and what you have is not a relaxing evening but under-dressed overloud women who speak too much, men who look like they've discovered a black hole at the bottom of their highball, and waiters who are try too hard to be Jeeves.

[NB- All those who think over-friendly waiters should be issued a restraining order, please raise your hands, NOW. Geez: Just remember my usual, mate and have-a-done with enquiring after my mother's sister's cousin's pooch, already!! Mumblegrumble...]

Hm. I'm not quite sure why, but perfectly sane, ordinary people (the kind who carefully look around to make sure no one's watching when they slyly rub the incredibly itchy nostril) turn into B-grade extras from a kylie minogue video the moment they enter an.. erm... "pub".

Forgive the hesitancy. See, its like this- Chennai has particularly amusing liquor laws. Thanks to the ins-and-outs of this legal system, it is only permissible for watering-holes to exist on the premises of hotels. Thus we chennaites, we have no Pecos... we have no Styx... we have no Hash.

What we do have are attached bars. Oh, goody.

But even with this atmosphere of over-smiling Australian tourists and badly disguised minors [viewing school juniors can give one a depressing sense of aging, really]....

Even with the curious "auntie" who has wandered over to have a vicarous peek inside the... erm... Den of Debauchery which you unluckily waddled out to that same wednesday night- The same Den of Debauchery btw, happens to be right next to the thai restaurant where the aforementioned "auntie", not to mention "uncle" AND uncle's sister from Canada have all come for a family dinner....

Even with all these convivial features, these attached bars aren't particularly bad. Except that they all close at 11:45pm. Oh yup. High spirits are frowned upon post 11:45pm here [Ye heard me, O ghost of Christmas Past? None of that supernatural soul-saving here, please. Its past 11:45 already].

In fact, in a moment of inspiration, while in the company of like-minded sophists, I even coined a term: The Pumpkin Quarter.

The Pumpkin Quarter- (N)The time between the last drink served and the purposeful waving of the bill in front of your bewildered nose. Specifically, 23:45pm-00:00am. Other characteristics of the Quarter are the sudden appearance of ceiling lights that had been absent all evening, and the beginnings of vocals n' guitars which sound suspiciously like Bryan Adams.

Thus- No bacchanalian revelry for us good little south indians. The government would rather that from these attached bars the bemused, beglittered crowd disperse to private parties within the city and on ECR, and hey- if there HAPPENS to be alcohol served, they don't see it, so all is well.

Sigh. Mum's right. Why go at all? Might as well stay at home, and argue over the rights of annexation of the remote. Or might as well just stick to the private parties, oui?


The mind rebels- what of one's need of atmosphere, of frosted glasses, of over-played Lounge music and of amusement?

-Because one must admit, there's nothing funnier watching the occasional straight-haired aphrodite bravely battle her way through experimentation with purty-coloured cocktails. Tee hee.

[Evil, that bloody goblin is. Someone tell his mother he needs a spanking. Hmpf.]

Anyway, the truth is one needs to walk into the night of neon light and music and talk and taste and way too many versions of davidoff. It doesn't happen often for me: a cable connection and free messaging usually soothes the need to go walkabout. But sometimes, you need to get out of the house. And thats all because just one annoying thing that try as you might, you can't ignore forever.

It sneaks up on you certain wednesday mornings.

it spits toothpaste on your pyjama sleeve, and makes sure your coffee is too sweet. It causes you to chew pencil ends listlessly, till everything suddenly tastes like Staedler 4B.

And then you begin to wonder about everything from post-it plans to regrets to the uncrossed out names on your hitlist. And you start to grey and you start to grumpify and nothing mum or your boyfriend can do can fix things. It pins you down with comp reboots and laughs cynically at your hair.

Its called the blues. Not the musical variety. The wednesday morning version is tone deaf. And secretly harbours vile intentions of dropping your ipod down the toilet.

Times like this, there's only one thing that can help you break on through to the other side-

Let go. Drop the remote, get dressed, get in the car with your friends and- drive. Fool-proof plan. Sometimes even an attached bar can give one the champagneish lift out of the dumps.

Most times, for me that means the leather bar at the Park here in chennai.

Geez- you need to be there. Most nights there's an air of docile palcidity about it. A design/concept hotel, its patrons belong to one of the most diverse demographics I've yet to encounter. Here you will not only get the overweight Mr. Murugan dressed in spotless white with his customary gold watch, sapiently answering his shiny ericsson which sings in polyphonic celebration of The tamil cinema, but also the young sindhi gentleman who's just discovering the nuances of how to impress the girl with one's ability to order at the bar [the 13th task of Hercules, and a rites of passage, Im told.]

In short- the punjabi business clients from soho, the cousin from Chicago, the latest smiling [and of course korean] additions to the Hyundai empire, the visiting exchange students, the sheepish movie star, the concept pop band put together by a huffing-puffing music channel and your friend's dad.... they all come here. And why not? The dj has absolute sovereignity over his music and guards his discs better than Cerberus could... thus one is sure that the bass-heavy, didgeridooed sloka one is hearing is "for your ears only". Ha. The new age table-candles are temperamental, the waiters drssed in body snuggling black [its the "leather" bar. Yes. Oh yup, their belts have studs.]


and aye, they make a passable mojito. Pronounced moe-hee-toe.

Mojitos taste like cuban women who take time over choosing what perfume to wear, and latino men in whom you can make out the salsa even while they're crossing the street.

[Of course, I've never seen the specie. But one must believe, yes? Faith and such.]

A mojito makes you think of dancing in the moonlight, all of you, the entire tribe. It turns placid domesticity into a place where everyone opens their eyes all together for the first time that night, and they smile. And it doesn't matter how ugly loaded powerful recognised or not the people around you are. Everything gets calmer, the music sounds better. Don't just take my word for it though: ask the professionals.

And you realize- quite sober- that everyone's carrying the same stories. They've all left behind unbalanced teenagers and cheque-books. They've all got in-laws who would make splendid target practice if one were learning to use a crossbow. Everyone's been duped, insulted, used, laughed at, made love to and asked for a second chance. And in a pretty old world, at 11:43pm, thats a nice thought.

And as you're standing out there in a sweltering Madrasi night, waiting for your friend's ride, you can't help but hum to yourself-

"I believe in the sand beneath my toes
The beach gives a feeling an earthy feeling
I believe in the faith that grows
And the four right chords can make me cry
When I’m with you I feel like I could die
And that would be all right, all right"
- Third Eye Blind, 'Semi-Charmed life'.

PS: To make a mojito, here's what you'll need:

2½ oz. light rum
1 lime
1 tbsp. simple syrup
mint leaves (8 or so sprigs worth)
club soda
tall glass
spoon, or some other utensil that can be used to mash the mint leaves

At Night


That was the word that kept whispering itself to me, over and over, the whole of today.

Because no matter how much coffee you drink, however much you love or are loved, however much your word craft may bear you up on delicate spirals of well-spun thought... there remains the darkness that does not allow you to walk with yourself in peace at night, through dark corridors... even if it is to get a glass of water.

I think this doppleganger side of myself has been given bone and tissue and blood this year... I myself have become a shadow, subsisting on fears, and assumptions of what is right and wrong, pulling myself from day to day with the help of those little prayers we make privately to our souls which involves no god, no religion. Things like-

Not now, you son of a bitch. Dont let me fall now... just a bit more. They cant see me fall. Not like this. The bastards will not laugh- I wont let them.

But the double of yourself, your dopplegangger will not leave you alone. I have realized that the more you compromise, the more you decide to not fight, on the basis of fear- the stronger it gets.

This has been happening to me a lot. I can tell, because of many little things... I avoid crowds now, and addressing large groups. And I have started to hate walking alone in the dark, because there's this neverending fear of being followed by something sinister. The worst part is, its not the fear of being hurt or killed. Its the fear that this thing will never leave you.

At least this time, the darkness isnt violent. I need to tell you about the time my best friend and I were in the 9th grade, in school.

We never indulged in quaint activities like spirit calling and candle lighting and ouiji boards- things that all good little girls do on school excursions and at pyjama parties. Yet for about a year, seperately at night, we would both be subject to the same experience. We only realized that it was the same thing one afternoon in school when during a random conversation we suddenly started talking about nightmares. And we found out the same thing was happening to both of us.

We'd wake up in the middle of the night, but we couldnt move, couldnt speak and almost couldnt breathe. We'd break out in a cold sweat. We'd feel a huge weight on our chest, as if something or someone was sitting on top of us, and...aye. Paralysed. The more we fought it, the harder it would be to move. My friend did some research online and found that similar experiences were recorded as symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety disorders, in authentic medical journals.

But the fuck up was, that for both of us- the sensations ended only when we both began saying the prayers our parents had taught us. It came to a point that the moment I first felt that immense tingling weight I'd start mumbling the lord's prayer- My friend would recite verses from the guru granth sahib. Cold fear. Pitiless. We were held down by something we could not control, at least at that age. A few times, we'd even hear voices. I remember she and I being taunted about whether we thought we could get up..... it stopped over time. The one time it happened while I was in college, I fought back, and was able to get up on my own. Though that did not keep me from mumbling that same prayer afterwards. it did not stop the cold sweat either.

The power of faith against any form of darkness then, even if its as prosaic as an anxiety disorder? Im not sure. But I am aware of how terrible fear can be.

And its not just the type of fear that hollywood movie makers prey on in movies such as 'the fallen'. Its the fear of being ignored.

The fear of failure. The fear of being unloved, or deserted, or laughed at. This fear cripples us, hobbling our feet together, while it builds itself up into our shape, and walks behind us as our shadow, controlling our every move. We do not stride anymore, willing to shuffle painfully, avoiding the dark and solitude, which is when our fears the arms that wrap around us.

I felt that fear again today, as I have had potently for the past few months.It shadows my every thought, I can sense it through my peripheral vision. I took that fear with me today, along with my ipod, and went up to my water tank at 8:00pm.

I havent shown you my water tank, have I?

Well spaced out, my terrace rises surrounded by silent shorter houses and many trees, of the rain and palm variety. With Jeremy pounding in my ears, I walked straight up, turned left and walked down to the other side of my terrace, where the water tank is. There's a ladder that reaches up 15 feet to the top of the tank. A landing, then a 3 rung ladder to the absolute top of the tank. The highest part of my three-floored appartment block. High enough though, and in a residential part of the city, so all you can hear is the wind murmuring and grumbling and singing (depending on her mood and what she wants to tell you) around you and through you, with nothing but sky and clouds and moon around you. The city lights, and the train's groan fades off, and nothing remains. Theres a cement ridge all around the tank, and then a ledge 4 feet below the ridge on the side where theres nothing but air between you and the ground.

My tank is a very special for me. It is mine, even though I have neighbours. There are some people in my life who share this place with me and can see from there all that can be seen... like the enchanted castle, its only magic for some. I go up to my tank when there are things to think about- up there, me and that same friend of mine have shared thought and tears and laughter and ideas- another friend and I discussed nietzsche and why we had the right to be Supermen. Up there, alone, I have wept while bargaining with the Guy in the Sky for the life of a man who was battling cancer and losing, and whom I had never met, but who because of two people I love with all my soul, I can never forget.

[I still remember that night, btw. Clouds swirling in a sullen reddish purple around a hidden moon, while I jabbered prayers insults poetry and dreamy pleadings and offered promises to let the young man live. I remmeber the clouds clearing suddenly, leaving nothing but a sweetly virginal blue night, cool like silver on your forehead. The moon shone silent, bright. A sudden feeling of peace, and then sudden elation- was this a sign of a miracle, had I been heard? Did what I say, and what all the others who around the world were praying for this same man been taken into consideration? Had we saved him?

My phone rang. One of those two beloved people called in tears to tell me he had died. Maybe it was the miracle, to have had that tremendous pain he was fighting taken away. But I will not forget that night. Or the way we held each others faith broken, over continents and phonelines and timelines, holding each other through the tears]

Up there on my terrace, there has been much sorrow. Much thought. And some gladness that is like a sunrise in my mind each time I think about it- a group of us singing sukiyaki up there, even managing to drag up a guitar. And aye... the most precious- the warm hands that hold away the cold beauty of moonlight gently from my face, and my hands. The eyes of this wonderful man which tell me better than any song or poem about how much I am cherished. The feel of his comforting, flat-soled size 11 and a halfs against my feet. His laughter, his voice, his touch- which is the only time that that cynical shadow of mine retreats to wait in places less sacred than my water tank is at that moment.

I went up to my tank today, to consider the road which must be taken. I always wanted the one less travelled by, but Im less sure nowadays whether that is best thing to do. After all... I just want to be a little happy. I dont always want to do the thing thats never been done before, the thing that's larger than life. Carpe diem maybe, and also yes- to strive, to seek and not to yield... but sometimes all that seizing and struggling just gets tired.

Crawling screamed soothingly in my brain, the version with strings in it. I found myself standing, drenched in white moonlight, just in front of the ridge below which was the ledge below which was nothing.

I am not afraid of heights. But I aint no roller coaster freak either. I have stood on that ridge though, but always when there was still daylight. Tonight.....

The fear stood there, palpable. I could smell its breathing. Suddenly, I HAD to stand on that ridge. Immediately, I felt my body and mind react- my palms turned ice cold, and wet. My legs began to shiver, and my gut clenched into a tight ball pushed against my spine as fear dragged itself up my throat and tried to shriek for help. Fear.

You will fall tonight, if you try standing there. I heard that sentence clearly, and waht was worse- I heard me say it to myself. You dont have what it takes to stand there, dont try.... you've been shaky all day. Sudden need to sit down. Heart pounding. fear running icy fingers through the hair at the back of my head.

Maybe I should've sat down. The inner voice, my gut was speaking... or was it? Suddenly, everything came together- all the times in college Ive been afraid of saying something because of its repercussions, all the times Ive held myself back because I had to fit into this system, all the times I had compromised for some fucking greater good..... all the times I had run away from people and perceptions I did not want to face... all those times I let soul-midgets have their way because I thought I had to show the stiff upper lip, and becasue gentlemen will walk but never run..... all those times I had taken for granted or ignored completely.... No word power, no achievements, no people, nothing.

'Put one foot on the ridge. Crumpled inside, fought the internal screaming plea to for god's sake sit down... stood with both feet on that ridge.

It was scariest looking up, so I squinted straight ahead, trying to get my breathing right.

I come in peace.... I come in peace.. with nothing. Here is no time for ending or anything colourful. Just .. I want to stand. Help me stand.

My palms are still ice cold, feet trembling a little less though. I could look up a little, and around- Sudden, one of those powerful flows of wind that happens on my tank. T shirt and shorts flaring out in the wind, arms slowly stretching out.

Flight is a funny thing, friend. There are things your doppleganger cannot do- like rejoice in the idea of free fall with the kind of grace only eagles know...

I took back a part of myself tonight. The fear stil is, but I refuse to shuffle anymore.

Tonight's a good night, for cold beer and flight. Death to all those who cannot be bigger than what their body gives them credit for... great song by john mayer, that one.

To all who dare to be candles in the night where no sun comes- cheers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

For Love of The Game, pt.2- A Story for Gul

There were hushed whispered warnings... Mothers scared naughty toddlers into brushing their teeth at night with the same horrible story- The Garumph was coming.

And then? Worse news.

The shining things had dissapeared. Or rather, she had lost them. When the news spread, A sudden stillness descended. The aquatic weeds quavered to stiff watching lines, as the goldfish gathered in frightened goldish herds. Even the aged piranha looks out from under hoary, greying banked eyebrows out at the still chill rims of the Fishbowl.

The Book Of Bloggations lay upturned, ignored.

Toes dug into the sand bed, she sat staring up at that black circle that meant night sky, pricked through with stars. Waiting.

Then it happened. A sudden shining glimmer psyched the black circle for a nanosecond, and then started arcing downwards.

Her eyes widened.

The glimmer grew larger, starlight bouncing off its glassy surface.

Her jaw dropped. She got up, stretched her hands out and gulped. The goldfish gasped. The water weeds bent backwards in horror. Only the aged piranha, if you looked hard enough, sat back on his tail, folded his fins and allowed the ends of his gnarled mouth to curl upwards. He was grinning.

You see, her lack of motor skills were legendary. Baited breaths were held everywhere.

Faster, and faster, larger and glassier it tumbled and nose-dived through the air.. closer, CLOSER TILL-


The water weeds streamed out at 180 degrees with the force of the happy sigh of relief that pervaded the Bowl.

Breathing like a spouting Beluga with the adrenaline rush, she gazed down at the empty Bacardi Orange twist bottle in her hands, still warm from its travel through the atmosphere.

There was a scroll of paper inside. Holding it upto her eye bravely, she could just about make out ball-point scrawlings.

If I concentrate hard enough, she thought.. If I can twist and turn the bottle as Ir ead, I can make out..

Words- the little fish squirmed in goldish gleeful glee.

Words- The piranha sighed, and wished for a cold kelp beer, from the deep sea

Words- The water weeds pla-

"Ahem. Excuse me, but may I interrupt?"

All humaned, weeded and goggled eyes [even the piranha] turned towards the delciously cool, clipped english voice. Above. On the Bowl's rim.

A pale face peered down.

"Would you mind if I came down there? Its jolly cold up here"

She dumbly nodded. Not out of surprise; things like this often happened in the Bowl. She was busy turning the bottle around, trying to read letters she recognised.

She wasn't watching the voice's descent, but the others were. Streaming short tufts of pale blond hair, an interestingly anaemic long legged man in black velvet pantaloons swam down gracefully, astride a blue bottle nosed dolphin. They came to a halt in front of her, the man now sitting arms crossed, a long suffering look of patience on his face.

The others noticed this and exchanged worried looks. The stranger looked a star: it was something about the glitter in his blue eyes. And the Bowl had fallen into hard times. Ignoring him the way the stupid girl was doing was definately inauspicious. They shifted from fin to fin, now a prussian blue with all that baited breath. They had held their breath so long, that even the fat dangling worms had stopped squirming in pain and sorrow, and now just hung on the waiting hooks as they were- bored little bits of PolyUnsaturatedFattyAcids.

They did not have to worry, though- With a languid, gracious smile, he waved at them, and then turned at an angle that looked suspiciously like a pose. The youngest goldfish caught on, and pulled out his Kodak. The others giggled excitedly and shyly sidled around to have their fins autographed. Then man smiled, bent down and kissed one plump, reddish gold fish who squealed and did a cartwheel. The worms squirmed again, worried at the hunger all this excitement would cause.The murmur rumbled into applause, and laughter.

She looked up at that, impatiently.

"Cant you see that Im trying to read?? Keep it down!"

At that, the man swirled around to face her, scattering happy goldfish. He and the dolphin- who gave out that his name was Humphry- snorted in Synchronicity.

"Well, Im here to help you with that. Sheesh. Girls these days. A mystic Bottle comes to you, and all you're trying to do is get your eyeball stuck in its mouth. Givvit here!!"

With an annoyed look, she handed the empty 'cept-for-the-scroll bottle of bacardi orange twist to the blond slim englishman. He stuck one bony long finger into the bottle and pulled out the parchment.

The weeds were floored in another collectve sigh, accompanied by fishy gurgles of "I love you!!"

With an important air, the man held up the scroll for all to see, but turned it towards himself before anyone could read anything. He waggled an elegant finger at the ground beneath her feet. She nodded, and sat down with 'bump!'.

Clearing his throat, the man bagan reading from the scroll.. slowly, his voice a caress like an evening moonlit wave.

"Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety

You could end up as the only one

Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society

At night a candle's brighter than the sun

Takes more than combat gear to make a man

Takes more than a license for a gun

Confront your enemies, avoid them when you can

A gentleman will walk but never run

If, "Manners maketh man" as someone said

Then he's the hero of the day

It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile

Be yourself no matter what they say"

Silence, but a listening one. Everyone and everything quivered, knowing that Something Specifically Very Important Which Must Be Remembered was about to happen.

The man alighted, patting Humphry's back. He bent and dug into the sand with his fingers, and frowned till they wrapped around something, which he pulled out, tuned and strummed once on. With a quiet smile, carressing just Bm G A7 and Em, he began to sing...

"Sending out an SOS...

Sending out an SOS"

over and over again. And suddenly it was as if everyone's parents had just left for the weekend. Goldfish went crazy, hugging and crying and dancing all quiet, all quiet to this man's music, because it was as if what had been lost was now found.

She looked up, and blinked to see a fireburst of twinkling silverryblueryreddery lights in the black circle above. She blinked again- darn these tears. But no, they were coming closer too. But different from the way the bottle appeared. This time there were waves and whoops and cheering and yelling and haka cries from the twinkling silverryblueryreddery lights. They were tumbling bumbling closer, reaching out shining arms towards the goldfish, the piranha, the weeds, her and the man.

She gasped. Shining arms=the shining things! They had returned!!

As each one plopped down, it was as if an enourmous LG bulb had come on.

And wonder of wonders- the Shining things came up to the scroll, and jostled each other to add words to what was already written. Te man smilingly held it for them. When they had all finished, he turned to the inhabitants of the fishbowl and said-

"SOS' have been answered. Guess everyone felt pretty strongly about this scroll"- at that he looked up, and smiling, waved. The stars above twinked luminous-er for a moment, then went back to their usual shining.

"Here. This is a notice for you to help you remember"

"what?" She, asked, a voice catching a bit.

"Why its worth still raging. Come!"

And grabbing her hand and her heart in one sweep he and Humphry swam her up and out of the Fishbowl, leaving behind a trail of purple curly kelp and magic.

Even the piranha joined the crowd that gurgled around where the man had taped up the scroll. And this is what they read-

"Passion, not pedigree, will win in the end."

---Jon Bon Jovi

"Each warrior wants to leave the mark of his will, his signature, on the important acts he touches. This is not the voice of ego but of the human spirit, rising up and declaring that it has something to contribute."

---Pat Riley

"to be nobody-but-myself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me everybody else means, to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting"- e.e Cummings

"Tell them that I did it for love of the game"- Kevin Costner as Billy Chapel.

I suppose this is the way that magic can happen if you really want it to. Picking bluberries from passing rainclouds and listening to a man named Gordon play a song he wrote a while back. Its cool. We will swim through the madness. And pick up our pencils once again.

And as the night wheeled on, and the piranha chased the plump reddish gold one, and the weeds waved... this is what I heard:

Just a castaway, an island lost at sea, oh

Another lonely day, with no one here but me, oh

More loneliness than any man could bear

Rescue me before I fall into despair, oh

I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world

I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world

I hope that someone gets my

I hope that someone gets my

I hope that someone gets my

Message in a bottle, yeah

Message in a bottle, yeah

A year has passed since I wrote my note

But I should have known this right from the start

Only hope can keep me together

Love can mend your life but

Love can break your heart

I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world

I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world

I hope that someone gets my

I hope that someone gets my

I hope that someone gets my

Message in a bottle, yeah

Message in a bottle, yeah

Message in a bottle, yeah

Message in a bottle, yeah

Walked out this morning, don’t believe what I saw

Hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore

Seems I’m not alone at being alone

Hundred billion castaways, looking for a home

I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world

I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world

I hope that someone gets my

I hope that someone gets my

I hope that someone gets my

Message in a bottle, yeah

Message in a bottle, yeah

Message in a bottle, yeah

Message in a bottle, yeah

Sending out at an s.o.s.

Sending out at an s.o.s.

Sending out at an s.o.s.

Sending out at an s.o.s.

Sending out at an s.o.s.

Sending out at an s.o.s...

"And they've all gone to look for America"

Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go
- ‘Father & Son’*

Now see- this is a TERRIBLE way of beginning a blog post. Bloggations, chapter 18 verse 5 states, “thou shalt not quote overgrown ex-boybanders while trying to make a point”.

De Profudis Clamavi ad te, Domine. Sigh.

No but wait, I need to stick to that quote. Because a large part of what I’m about to scribble [typple?] deals with leaving home, and being what our fathers tell us to be.
Rites of passage, rises and fallses [a.k.a Rudyard Kipling’s truth abt falsies named triumph and disaster, and much pardon for being unable to avoid that incredibly bad pun], and what it takes to walk and not run are the other parts of this wordy venture.

Its as simple as this. College is over. And the bit fat worry that is waiting to FAQ me senseless is- “what next?”

[“FAQ me senseless”- ha ha. Ahem. Damn, did it again.]

So the Fulbright scholarship came through. This means I leave on May 13th for a pre-academic program at Portland, Oregon. Then comes the ACTUAL academic program, and where I go depends on me and an academic NGO there called AED. They know and I know that it's schools under NYU or bust, with writing and theatre being the chef’s specials. Or maybe they'll stick me somewhere in North Dakota. Centre controlling the marginalized.

"Burn the gringos. Burn 'em all!!!!"

Oh blimey, I wonder who said that. Such angst. Ha.

This could go on for 2 years. Alright. So Im getting the usual dishing out of cursed squished limes on the ground beneath my feet, as well as the good wishes and blessings of tearful adults who see in my… erm… achievement, the perfect freedom from Canara bank loans and the sale of that maruti. Would that little pinky and motu and bunny and molu do the same.

Being an example is bloody freaky btw. Hairy-assed lab rat pinned against a board for a whitecoated goggled gaggle of scientists….. Enough. ENOUGH! LEAVE ME ALONE, YOU ANIMALS!! AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGggggghhhhhhhh!!!

Ahem. Well, you get the idea.

My point is, its been a strange life. College has ended with that strange on-stage quality that my entire life seems to have had, all this while. And I have played every part… Iago, Romeo, Brutus, Henry IV, gogo…. Without forgetting Pluck and Feste and- but of course- Caliban.
Um, you will notice that I left out the heroines on purpose? Misleading in their psychotropical sweetness… but I wander. Not a heroine, not even a Portia or a Hermia. Wish I was though. They fit better into the stereotype of the happy ending.

Friends, Caledonians, debit card users… lend me thy short attention spans. The fact is that there’s a reason why Protocol sounds like the glue used by a doctor who deals solely with issues of Keester City. College and I have had a strange relationship- More on this later. Fact is its ended, and lookie- No time to gain weight, go swimming with squalling bloody brats in the summer course while wishing they'd drown, no lazy days of a madras summer indoors, no theatre rehearsals, no form filling, no interning, no year offing, just- WHOOSH!!

Look momie, no hands. Yeah, they were cut off by them automatic sliding doors on that new york subway train coz in the hustle-bustle madness no one cared about the big little lost indian student with funny hair who's going to miss her flight coz she forgot those damn circles and arrows that pointed the way to her terminal and tried pulling her big bag in that didn't get in because of the supersize crowd but it was too late and AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

*gasp* *gasp*

As you can tell, I haven't been sleeping too well.

Im not scared ["put 'em up, chump- who yer callin' a wimp?? Put 'em up!!"] of the change, Im just a bit breathless from the incredible suddenness of it all. And because of the questions that suddenly seem to be hopping up and munching huge chunks outta the orange rhizomes of my mind's peace-

Which book do I take with me?

Do I need a new pair of boots?

Will I-please god no- start sounding like "Them"?

Will I be shoved into North Dakota?
[NB- I don't know why Im stuck on North Dakota. Im sure it's a nice place. If there's anyone from North Dakota reading this, I apologise deeply. Smokum peace pipe? And tell me if they still scalp indians there.]

Geez. Shouldn't worry about this stuff, should I? After all, even if I hide in a carton for the remaining days in this city, there's still going to be that flight to catch, those yanks to meet, and those courses to decide on.

Right. Stiff upper lip, clenched sphincter and all.

But please god tell me they're not going to expect me to be the sort of cultural ambassador who plays them all "de hep indie-punjabi-hip- 'op mixes, mon" or tells them about south indian cooking or worse-

"so... do you have a word for fuck off in your language? Like, in tameel?"

"hey I love your country!! I totally dig Aishwarya Rai- sweet jeeeeeeeeeezus, gurl: all Indian chicks like her, 'cept you?"

Ok so maybe I'm being unkind. Im sure in this post-post-colonial era, we ALL will relate to each other as sentient beings of a technologyfied world who try eating healthy at Subway and surreptitiously watch Ftv....

... Or not. I haven't told you fine people about that Pre-Departure Program I attended in Delhi in March, have I?

Well, its was when they got all us scholarship kiddies/guinea pigs [coz its the first time this program has been instituted, though its part of the entire Fulbright flow] to brief us on our continent-hopping.

Jane E. Schukoske is a professor and a part of the USEFI empire- which is, by the way, the main stork in charge for depositing gurgling happy Indian lads and lassies in the land of lapdances [So sue me, I wanted assonance. Hmpf].

Anyway, part of the day's session was spent with her telling us how important the honor code is in America. Sweet lady, professional, well-meaning, grey haired and pink suited BUT she pissed me off. To give you a taste (NB- CAPS meant for the drawlish emphasis she placed on the sentences; Ellipses a.k.a dots for her pauses; Spellings, coz of my need to reproduce her nuances faithfully, and because Im devil-spawn evil at times)-

"You may wanna READ the print-aaout CAREFULLY, coz you DON'T wanna ever make... the errors that would CAUSE you to be pulled under by your college's litigation. ReMEMber, in AMERICA, we take PLAgiarism VAEry seriously"

"Keep in touch with your FAMILY and your present institution, they'd laaike to know about all the graayt things happening for you. Use an EMAIL SURvice, which is a cheap and easy way... to KEEP in touch. Do you all have EMAIL? Do you all know how to use EMAIL? Are they ALL accessible outside India? Hotmail? Yeaah, thats a GRAAYT one to use"


Imagine sitting through 2 days of this, with a dozen or so other enthusiastic kiddies yelping their assent- "yes, ma'am!"- every time a cue card was held up. It took me a week to get rid of the cynical squiggle off my face, otherwise known on msn as :-S

All that I am, all that I have... now under a yankie microscope? Or will they let me willingly go underground and grunge over books and lurk where the good coffee is?...

One waits. One gulps.

One picks up that pair of boots anyway. Dad always said you can never be too sure... tee hee.

It should be fine. I dare any and all fishbowl makers. Bring it on.

Ah. Le quiet sudden smile. My people, post scriptum, I must say- The great thing about this life is one's innate ability to find a song for every moment. Here's the one for here, now.

[Prashant, Nihal, Vishal- if you guys ever read this, this one's for you. Sing forever : )]

Incubus- Drive

Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I cant help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear take the wheel and steer
It's driven me before, it seems to have a vague
Haunting mass appeal
Lately I'm beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel
Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes yeah
Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there, I'll be there
So if I decide to waiver my chance to be one of the hive
Will I choose water over wine and hold my own and drive, oh oh
It's driven me before, it seems to be the way
That everyone else get around
Lately, I'm beginning to find that when I drive myself, my light is found
Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes yeah
Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there, I'll be there
Would you choose water over wine
Hold the wheel and drive
Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes yeah
Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there, I'll be there


*As sung by Ronan Keating, seen constantly on vh1, which has ear-wigged its way into my head. Not to be confused with that soul-touching original by Yusuf Islam, once known as Cat Stevens. This version, Anshu. This version, Bobbin. This version, Arindam. And apologies to all those who bled for Yusuf without cause. Peace :)

For love of the Game, pt.1

It has started. Im growing up. Its incredibly uncomfortable, being tight under the armpits, but Im going to try to not whine over this.

What's that?

HOW does one know they're growing up?

Ah. Pretty simple really. You know you're growing up, when like a madrasi buffalo in march, you feel involuntarily drawn towards the comfort and cooling muck of the pool of standarized human experience. Suddenly, hush-puppyishly, you sigh with relief- unconciously- when you realize you're eatng where everyone else is eating. You're wearing the same shoes that all the other avid watchers of vh1 do.


Those midnight chocolate fondue orgies on the watertank on your terrace...

Those dates in a sillhouetted gondola with Bocelli murmuring gentle arias in your ear...

Those orange trousers which you wore with your olive-green Woodlands... they dissapear.

You feel it grow. You can smell it, as it hides surreptitiously under the fridge. And earlier the dratted thing would only leave greasy fingerprints on the skirt of my Imagination when I wasn't looking, or when I had to appear particularly virtuous. Now? The venemous being threatens to take over my life- The curse of the Grow Up Garumph. More than my orange trousers have dissapeared.

Because of this Garumph, nowadays...

I am wary of singing Bohemian Rhapsody in the shower, wondering which house painter on the outside might hear and spread the tale of the Baritone Bathing Banshee.

I am wary of eating mum's cake batter by the fingerful, anxious now about the dissapearance of a puppy named Fat, and his place the slow growling of a cellulite bitch, horror stories of whom are discussed weekly at O.P.R.A.H cult gatherings.

I am wary of playing the Jack Of All Trades and the Pretender who laughs at most calling cards, because I have found that with dead leaders and washed out villages and cell phone wars- the knaves and the pretenders are asked to bear the crosses. Wear the badge. Protect the mothers. Because there is no one else.

I am wary of writing poetry when in love. I am in dread of when the lonely words come back after silent ages, and seek your skin out to wrap themselves around and then remind you with mystic goose bumps of what you once were.

My hair has faded, and I have forgotten to ask Susan, the Goddess of Shearic Style who works at Studio Profile, to trim these woeful sproutings. They curl and wave like Van Gogh's night sky, but I ignore them, worrying about things like mum's getting older and my pants seem to magically shrinking... sigh. Yes, I know. I know. One must face reality. The magic too is an illusion.

"Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one"- Einstein.

[And yet, the blue goblin within me who lives on Amul sneaked over to the Quote Room yesterday, and squeaked with glee when he found what he wanted- Immediately I felt the words bonk me on the head:

"I don't want realism. . . . I'll tell you what I want. Magic! Yes, yes, magic!"- Tennessee Williams.

Sigh. The goblin's in solitary confinement]

Erm... where was I? Ah yes, post Einstein, ergo-

One must face reality. The fact that parents grow old, neighborhood brats grow up, and we must move on into the great ocean where all little fish know there's a piece of pink coral with their name on it. Face the music, child- with all its flats and sharps and missing trombone players.

And with this grown-up bravery in my pocket, I have been thinking about college.



Its NOT just because I have exit stage lefted from my alma mater. Its not just coz all the other little tele-tubbies who are 20 and 21 are doing the same thing. It's not even because the college bursar secretly paid me for this.

[Evil chuckles float up from the solitary confinement cell.

"tee hee"

Damn that goblin. Ladies and gentlemen, I apologise.]

Its because like it or feel the deep need to voodoo doll it, college has been my life for three years.

Set 'em up, joe. Its gonna be a long night. We drink to the end of an episode....

Honestly, what could I say about a place that has allowed me to put together a performance of the Ancient Mariner using Iron maiden, Metallica and America?

Kudos to my college. Stilfled uprisings, admissions of creatures who are future aspirants to the cast of that inspiring Burlesque show Carmen Electra used to be a part of, new buildings, old rules, extortion, excommunication, morning assembly gatherings, cat fights, one or two brilliant professors, 5 trees that are out of Tolkien, a common room that has a higher restricted entry status than the US Embassy in chennai, the banning of personal music.... in short, the stuff that makes our history, all us catholic college women.

College and I have had a funny relationship. Both equipped with a sense of humor- really, it takes A strange circus to elect me student leader. It shows the respect given to good communication and marketing in college. Ahem.

["um, Captain"

"Yes, Robert?"

"um, Captain- Strange gurgling sounds were being emitted from the solitary confinement cell. I went to check on the blue freak-"

"ROBERT!! WHAT have I told you about being politically correct??"

"Sorry, Captain. I went to check on the cobalt-shaded different-looking vertically challenged organism"

"Right. And what was wrong?"

"um... the offender was rolling on the floor, banging his fists on the cobbled stones, laughing hysterically. Gasped out in between the gurgling something about you being MAD worthy, Captain"

"Right. Back to your post, Robert"]

Sigh. No,wait.

There was more to it than a good campaign. College has believed in me, inspite of the anxiety endured due to my inability to wear a sari the way a female Indian human is meant to.

Like two old Victorian ladies, we have shown our teeth sweetly at each other over the coffee pot. Together, college and I have called each other's bluffs, at times forgiven each others faults. Sometimes not. We have pulled our sheeps clothing tight around us when campus got dark and chilly at 8:15pm ...we have run howling under
the moon, on our way to the great bonfire of the vanities of sundry staff members. We have taken, and we have given.

Its now over. No curtain calls, no citations.

Just a windcheatered grey day of me pulling up my metaphorical collar and walking away. Maybe one day, we will again sit together over a coffee pot. Till then, its me, myself and a purple Nokia 3310 named Barney.

My bags will be packed. Anxious prayers said to all the Gods That Be to preserve me from that strange affliction known as the Yankee Drawl. The mysteries of social security numbers and conversion rates will be explained to me.

While standing in motion on this escalator of an interim period, I wonder again about that Grow up Garumph.

Im not happy its happening, you know. Im beginning to feel boring. After 5 years of protocoling, bow n' scraping, and "doing the right thing"... Im more placid than Jack's cow.

"The discipline of desire is the background of character"- John Locke.

["Captain, strange sounds again-"

"Shut up, Robert"

"Aye, Captain. Sorry to bother you, Captain"]


My orange pants and Bocelli have been sacrificed on the altar of good character. Hm. But thats ok, yes? The world being as fragmented and hackneyed as it is, it isn't worth it- all this fighting and yelling and burning and blaze-of-glorying, and not going gentle into the good night. The bastards will get you down. Whether the wife, or the hubby, or the parental units, or the kids or the boss or the family guru SOMETHING will make you tuck your shirt in.

Why suffer the pain?

Why allow them to wring you dry of blood sweat and tears?

Why rage against the fishbowl?



Thats a big one.


Guess it had to come.

I mean I KNOW why I rage. But is it still worth it? And doesn't the Grown Up Garumph eat all those shiny things one shakes free from the aquatic plants?

[Taking a long delayed chocolate break, it was necessary that there was a pause in the blogging. Part 2 of this post will follow shortly. Signed, Bob, the Blue Goblin.]