Monday, 30 April 2007

After 7 years

I never had a road roller run over me but I know exactly how it will feel. The same as it feels after having played badminton for 4 hours after 7 years. Yes, I played badminton this weekend and every single bone and muscle in my body is killing me now. Given a choice I would NEVER have ventured into the badminton court by myself. However it being a team building initiative in office there was no way I could have skipped it. We have a team building activity each month and a badminton match was what was decided upon for this month.
It was a bright sunny Saturday afternoon and I very reluctantly stepped out of home after an extremely heavy lunch for the club (the venue for the match). Yes, you heard it right. The game was to be played post lunch on a typical Indian summer afternoon. I wonder if POWs are treated any worse. Some may say (and some did) I could have skipped lunch but I was invited to a friend’s place for lunch and I promised to be there. The plans had been made two weeks earlier and I did not want to cancel that plan at all. After all it’s not every day I get good home made food.
Anyways once I reached the club I got into the mood and very happily and very enthusiastically joined the match. After all I realized badminton was the only game I could play besides solitaire, minesweeper, roadrash and their likes and if I had actually gone to the club it only made sense to try and enjoy myself.
So after 7 years I picked a badminton racquet and swung into action. I played for around 2 hours and then started feeling the first repercussions of my act. I could not bend down to pick up the shuttlecock. My back was hurting and I had a feeling that my backbone had turned into steel. It just would not bend. Anyways at that point it was just my back and finally at 18:00 in the evening we wound up and left for home. I went home and applied ice to my arm where I had hurt myself pretty badly after holding my racquet in an odd manner.
If I thought that my hand and back hurt that night I was being completely silly because it wasn’t till the next morning that the pain actually set in. Every muscle and every bone in my body was aching. I was not even aware of the existence of so many muscles in my body till then. But since I had an appointment with the dentist Sunday morning I woke up earlier than I would have wanted to and left home. Every second that day I was made aware of the existence of so many muscles and bones in my body by the extreme pain. Simple daily tasks like brushing my teeth, sitting on a chair, climbing a staircase, changing my dress all required tremendous effort and I had to bite my tongue each time I did anything to stop myself from screaming out loud. To make things worse I have my bed on the floor and every time I lied down I wished I would not need to stand up again and every time I stood up I hoped there would not be any need to bend/sit down.
It’s shocking that at my age I feel like an octogenarian. I should seriously join a gym to get myself back in shape. After all once I used to pride myself on being fit and fine, in perfect shape to go trekking at the drop of a hat. I guess those days are gone now. With my sedentary lifestyle it’s more than enough that I can still walk a few kilometers when required. All I know is my colleagues are not going to see my face at the next monthly party no matter where it is. I need to rest and rest for at least another 7 years.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Tabloid Journalism

The marriage of the decade is finally over. Yes, Abhishek Bachhan is finally (happily) married to Aishwarya Rai and I sincerely hope the circus will end here. I admit that a high profile wedding of the lady touted by the Indian media as “the most beautiful woman in the world” with the most eligible bachelor in the country calls for excitement and media coverage. But I must say that the media went overboard trying to get the better of each other and each TV channel claiming to show the so-called “exclusive” images of the gates to the Bachhan home in Mumbai.
Some might say that I could have easily flicked channels but then if I want to watch the news I cannot watch any other channel but a news channel and no channel no matter how serious an image it has tried to build till now could stay away from the gates of the Bachhan home with a camera. As was very rightly said by an intelligent person the only channels which did not show pictures of the wedding were “Animal Planet” and “Nat Geo” The journalists were literally camping on the road in sheer hope of getting an exclusive shot of the couple. In my attempt to get some news I flicked to a channel which had their correspondent outside Aishwarya’s home and the news reader at the studio wanted to know from their correspondent what was on the menu for the guests at Aishwarya’s home and if he could figure out the menu from the aroma wafting out of the cordoned area. Now what could have been more absurd? Of course I had a good laugh at the cost of the news reader and his sub-zero IQ. At times I wonder what kind of IQ these news readers have. Or maybe they have an IQ but have simply sold their souls for the sake of higher TRP and greater viewership. Maybe with liberalisation in India everything has been commercialised, and that too to such an extent that news too has not been able to remain untouched by this trend.
Well I guess this trend will not get any better now, we can only hope it does not get worse and yes I hope this wedding proves to be one of those “lived happily ever after” type of wedding. I couldn’t bear to see 2 more weddings of this kind. I mean Abhishek getting married to some X and Aishwarya getting married to some Y. The thought is enough to give me goose bumps. May this couple live happily ever after. Amen!

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Moral Policing

I read a news article yesterday about an intercaste marriage in Bhopal which sent the saffron brigade on a rampage. They called for a strike in the city and asked for annulment of the marriage. They claimed that though a girl above 18 maybe legally an adult they still cannot make right decisions. Even after intervention by the Bombay High Court the VHP Leader had to say the following “The court has heard only one side of the case. The VHP will plead against it”.
Now there are just 2 sides to a wedding, the bride’s and the groom’s. Whoever gave the VHP any right to have a say in the wedding of every Indian be it a Hindu’s or a Non-Hindu ? How long will Indians live under the ominous shadow of the moral police ? People who claim that they are the guardians of our customs and traditions and can die or kill before anyone offends our(their) religious feelings. I am a Hindu and speaking for myself I can say that the wedding in Bhopal has not hurt my religious feelings nor did I feel ashamed. What embarasses me is the reaction of these Hindu Activist groups which claim that they speak for all the Hindus in the country each time an act by an innocent Hindu brushes their feathers the wrong way. It embarsses me too see them hold an entire city hostage to put forward a cause which is so much against the ideals of the “secular” State of India.
Do the Hindus of the country actually need to be taught and told what they can do and what they cannot as it hurts the religious sentiments of their fellow countrymen. Aren’t we all old and mature enough to differentiate the right from wrong. When will people in my country learn not to blow small issues out of proportion? When will they learn to focus their attention on more important issues like AIDS, corruption, global warming and ofcourse India’s biggest problem, population.

Growing Up

"You have grown up the day you realise that your parent don't have the answer to all your questions and solutions to all your problems".

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Ode to Rum

Fifteen men on a dead men’s chest,
Yo, Ho, ho and a bottle of Rum

-Robert Lewis Stevenson

I love rum and for very long I have been considering writing a post about it. I was initially wondering what I should write exactly. Should I begin with the history of rum, how it is prepared and state other facts related to it or should I dwell on my personal experiences with rum..ahem. I finally decided to make it a combination of the two. After all a post like life should have many flavours.
Rum is made from sugarcane molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate is then aged in casks. So much from boring sugarcanes? It’s pretty interesting. As a kid I hated sugarcane as it always hurt my gums and even when I drank the extracted juice from the tacky roadside carts I hated the “iron-like” taste which I attributed to the cheap machines. Now if only I had tasted rum then I would have had a very different opinion about sugarcanes, but then again who knows I might have found the taste awful then. The largest production of rum happens in the Caribbean Islands and in South America. Rum is also produced in certain other countries however the Caribbean stands out as the finest producer. Rum has been over the ages associated with pirates, sailors soldiers and adventurers. Robert Louis Stevenson in his book “Treasure Island” immortalized the association between the pirates and rum in his famous pirate song. The verse was later completed by American writer Young Ewing Allison in his poem “Derelict”.
I first drank rum in a pub in Bangalore and fell in love with it instantly. Just a few pegs and the world already looked so much better. I was happier in seconds and could see the brighter side of all issues. Man can anything beat that. And yes it’s cheap too. Not like certain drinks which give me a pleasant high but when I lay my eyes on the cheque I get shock which is equivalent to a few buckets of cold water being poured on my head. I can very well do without those drinks. Rum rules!!!
Of late I have been trying to experiment with rum, blending different types of cocktails though not very successfully. And I just came up with the brilliant idea of mixing rum, Pepsi and vanilla ice cream, yes you heard it right vanilla ice-cream into a smoothie and having it as my desert. As of now the idea appears awesome and I am just waiting for a weekend when I will be able to implement my plan.
Just for the sake of facts I was looking into the origins of rum and realised that there are too many claims with respect to that. Even wikipedia says its origin could have been in various places as distant from each other as India, China, Malaysia, Iran and Barbados. All I can say is I am glad it had its origin somewhere and I am living in the era post its origin. Of course I just have to add that the first guy who picked sugarcane molasses and fermented the same deserves a pat on the back from my end. May his/her soul rest in peace for centuries.
As for me I will just wait for the opportunity to whip up my delectable ice-cream cocktail. Maybe this weekend…..maybe next…or maybe ….

Tuesday, 10 April 2007


I just finished reading George Orwell’s 1984 and I am speechless when it comes to describing the book in 1 word. Recommended to me around one and half years back it took me a long time to actually read it. The book relates the story of Winston Smith and his moral destruction by the totalitarian state of Oceania of which he is a citizen.
The narration of the story and the unfolding of the plot is brilliant. The characters of Winston, Julia, Mr Charrington, O’Brien, Goldstein and the formiddable Big Brother are well crafted and speaks volumes about the care taken to build the perfect plot. The book as a whole is an exceptional piece of literarary work. However there are a few points and concepts of the book which I found amazing and cannot help but discuss.

  • Totalitarian Governance : The Government of Oceania headed by Big Brother controls every aspect of the life of the party members. The government not only controlled the individuals but also the past and the future. The Ministry of Truth dealt with writing and rewriting history to ensure that it said only what would be beneficial for Big Brother and the party. All books and refrences to the period before 1960 had been scrapped and no written record other than that maintained by the Ministry of Truth existed. Every piece of paper and record which questioned the stand of the Government was put down the memory hole. So is it actually possible to control the future and the past ? After all like mentioned in the book past is not “Happening” somehwere. It exist only in memories and records and if both could be controlled the past itself was being controlled. What happens if the past is altered and retold to us in a different manner ? What if the same happens today ? How would we deal with it ?
  • Thought Crime : As Winston aptly says, “Thought crime does not entail death, Thought Crime IS death” in Oceania. Each individual’s life is kept under strich surveillance and his/her every move is monitored closely. There were telescreens and microphones fitted in every place to monitor the party members and their movement. Even children were taught to report their parents to the Thought Police if they ever saw, overheard or noticed any signs of treachery. Friends, spouses, children no one could be trusted. This was a spine chilling idea. Loss of freedom and policing of the mind could very well lead many of us to prison. After all how many of us have never thought of revolting against the government? Or a thought which made us feel guity later.
  • DoubleThink : The ability to believe in 2 contradictory views at the same time. The mind would say that 2+2=4. However to believe that 2+2=5 simply because the party says so was to doublethink. It was sanity defined all over again. Can truth be altered simply because the majority believe so ? A whole nation of people can believe that the sun rises from th west. So can a entire nation denying the truth actually falsify it ?
  • Newspeak : The new language of the future. The language which would limit vocabulary and eventually curtail all thoughts leading to betrayal and revolution of any sort. It would abolish words which could explain the concept of political freedom. This idea in itself is amazing for the human mind cannot imagine anything which it cannot articulate. It is difficult to present an abstract idea when there are no befitting words. This revelation increases my respect for language tenfold. Not only can language determine what we say now, it can also determine what we think and say much later. It can decide our future and even the future of a nation and maybe the world too.
  • SelfPreservation over Love : Winston’s only claim to being human was his love for Julia and he firmly believed that the Thought Police could never get into his mind and end his love for her. However when he encounters his greatest fear, rats he betrays Julia screaming that she be subjected to that torture and not him. After his release when he encounters her they speak about their betrayal to each other. The song “Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me” sums up the feeling at that point. So if love can be crushed is love overrated in today’s world ? Is love and romance merely instruments of entertainment? Feeling which can come to an end under severe conditions. Maybe the concept of undying love is a mere poet’s fantasy. Like Utopia, it does not exist yet people dream about it.
  • Sexual Repression : Big Brother’s Government discourages all forms of sexual encounter between man and woman for pleasure. It treats sex as a “Duty to the Party”. It is simply an action for reproduction and nothing more. It believes that there will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. Sexual desire one of the baser instincts of mankind if supressed can only lead to passion spilling out elsewhere. In Hatred and in War. The war between countries which might never end.
  • Proles : When Winston scrawls in his diary “If there is hope... it lies in the proles”. He believes that a revolution will come when the proles will rise and overthrow the government. However the party is sure that the proles will never revolt, never raise their voice against the government. This appears so true in today’s context. No matter how hard the times or how corrupt the government the commmon man has restricted himself to his own life. He will not step out of his small protected world and make any attempt to make a difference.

An extremely thought provoking book which even after almost 60 years is not out of context. It could very well have been written today. A masterpiece in the truest sense of the word.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007


After India’s disastrous exit from the World Cup there has been talks about boycotting every product endorsed by cricketers. This idea got me thinking about transitivity. Mathematical transitivity is defined as aRb, bRc implies aRc. So why should I apply the same relation to my life ? I mean if I like to drink Pepsi (ok, so things are easier for me as I don’t drink Pepsi…I am a coke drinker ..) why should I refrain from doing so just because Indian cricket team lost the chance to win the World Cup (yet again!!) ? I can completely understand if some people cannot understand how transitivity applies here. You have to stretch your imagination a lot to get what I mean.
Ok, I will try to make it a little simpler. I have had a lot of good and bad experiences in my life, met a lot of nice people and “not so nice” people too. Have shared good times and bad times with many friends. And ofcourse I associate a lot of things with memories of my good and bad times. For instance a certain book, a certain song, a restaurant, a cup of espresso, a particular movie, a colour, a certain city, a name and a thousand other small things can trigger a deluge of memories. If all this is associated with good memories than I guess I am just plain lucky. But what happens when they are associated with memories I would rather forget. Memories which cause immense pain. I can avoid a few things to get rid of that pain but how can I ensure that I avoid EVERYTHING that is associated with some unpleasant memory. Practically everyday of my life I come across something which can hurt me, so how do I deal with it ? I finally came up with a solution. It’s not the best but at least it is effective though it’s pretty slow at showing results. I just try and dissociate the object from the memory. Not let them get so jumbled that 1 means the other. Just treat an object as a single entity without any strings attached to any event or any memory. I enjoy a good song, a good book, a good movie, a great cup of coffee for what it is not because it reminds me of an intelligent conversation I had with a friend over a cup of coffee when we argued about the meaning of the lyrics of the song or the philosophy of the book.
Many would disagree with me saying that this is not a good way of treating the cricketers or the brands they endorse. After all the whole idea of boycotting is a about punishing the cricketers. But will my boycotting products make any difference to the sorry state of affairs of the Indian Cricket team or even to an individual cricketer or his income from the brands ? Every big brand which has a cricketer endorsing their product knows that public memory is short. If today we are criticizing the players for the loss it will take us but just 1 win to restart our adulation for them. Then we will all go back to hero-worshipping the players, drinking Pepsi, buying Reebok apparels, MRF tyres and all other products they endorse. I choose not to wait that long, after all I have been eyeing that Reebok T-Shirt in the showroom for quite some time now and I don’t want to wait any longer.

Monday, 2 April 2007

No Post

Aaagghhh..there goes another month without a single post from my end. It’s not that I don’t like blogging….just that I lose patience when it comes to writing full-complete posts. I mean I hate writing posts which look like the last page of my notebooks. Some word, a few doodle and and some incomplete sentences of random thoughts. Ok, so I am aware that a blog is like an online diary where we can write our smallest thoughts but even my diary is always in order. Hmmm, on a more honest note it is not ALWAYS in order but at least no one will ever read it. I would love people to read a nice complete post from my end. A post with an introduction, body and conclusion. Just the way I was taught to write good compositions as part of my ICSE curriculum…but alas all I manage are a few sentences straight off the top of my head and then there is a huge confusion.
Maybe my biggest problem is that I don’t like to organize my thoughts. I think a LOT. In fact there is hardly any chance that I am not utilizing my waking hours thinking. But then I rarely think end to end on any topic. I just change my track whenever I believe I am getting too muddled. Or when I think that I might end up confusing myself further. I had actually started writing a story and I did the same with that too..I abandoned the story half way through. I still think that the story line was good but I never found the determination to complete it. And yes the first few pages of the book along with the story line were conceived under the influence of alcohol. Yes, I am at my productive best when I am drunk… fact I do a lot of work I have been postponing when I am drunk. I have cleaned my room, organised my wardrobe, and rearranged my bookshelf after a good drink. I think I am beginning to digress from the topic. But wait, what was the topic really? I think it’s my short attention span and lack of a streamlined thought process.