Wednesday, December 29, 2010
There are a couple of coconut trees right outside my bedroom balcony. They are tall trees, rising well past my second floor balcony and bearing fruit at the fourth and fifth floors. One tree is ramrod straight, shooting out of the earth like a geyser, while the other appears more wind-swept as it curves backwards to look like a reflected C from my point of view. Both trees have their own private space to grow in, littered with broken bricks. However, they hang over the adjoining road like umbrellas, noticeable only when it rains. And it was about to rain coconuts.
A man walked up to the bent tree. He was bare-chested and wore workman-like blue trousers that were rolled up to above the knees. He stepped out of his weather-beaten leather chappals and left them at the base of the tree, like he was about to enter a temple. Then, as effortlessly as one presses an elevator button, he embraced the tree, put the soles of both of his feet on the trunk, and in a caterpillar-like motion, shimmied up. He used no apparatus, no rope tied around his feet to prevent slippage, no rope that tethered his waist to the tree to rest if he so wished, no safety nets in case he fell. It was almost as if he had been walking down a street, spied a coconut tree and decided it would be a good idea to go up and gather coconuts.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Today, I realised how separate my home is from my social life. My best friends - guys I've grown up with in school - have been to my place just a couple of times. Most people have never even entered my house. I never had sleepovers or pyjama parties or all night movie sessions. I've never hosted a party at my place. However, I've done all this in other people's houses.
For me, home constitutes a very personal space. I've long carried two distinct personalities - one at home and one outside. My belief is that entering one's home is like entering another realm. Amongst friends, I think this carries special significance. To enter a friend's house indicates a certain level of trust and belief in the relationship and in the other person.
I've always been in awe the first time I enter somebody's house. I'm amazed at how much faith that person has in me to allow me into his/her house and to see and partake in his/her most cherished, intimate possessions. Art on the wall, cushions propped on the couch, a messy bedroom, clothes on the backs of chairs, the colour of the walls, some curio on the table-top, the knick-knacks on the bathroom basin - everything adds colour and depth to the person. He/She is allowing me to get close, to know them more intimately, and that is a thrilling development in the dynamic between us.
At the same time, I've been a very nervous host. I've also been a rather poor host, unsure of how to behave at home with friends. I'm always making sure they're ok, they've got stuff, they know where the bathroom and its light switch are, they aren't found wanting for anything. It's like my friends are entering a world that is entirely mine and one that I am proud of, and in my desire to introduce it to them in the short time they spend there, I go overboard. I am an intense person, an all or nothing kind of guy, and the intensity really comes through when I welcome friends home.
So, if I haven't thrown you off out yet, then come on over and pardon this curmudgeonly host.
Monday, December 06, 2010
You fit your legs into the '>' she has created and line up your torso against her back. You marvel at this perfect fit, like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle interlocking. You feel a little worried about your cold feet as you place it under her warmer feet, and she squeals and shivers a little, but she accepts them. Your hand is around her waist, but you move it and clasp her lower shoulder, and you pull yourself closer to her. You feel the connection at places you have never before, like your thighs, or her calves against your shins. Through her back, you feel her heart beating against your chest, and soon both your hearts are beating as one. Your breathing is tempered and both your chests rise and fall together.
In that brief moment between wakefulness and sleep, you truly believe that there is a higher power, a God. What else, but divine intervention, could account for this woman--this fairy, this nymph--whose body heat you are now sharing? This woman who is able to melt your worries and relax you simply by lying down beside you. This woman with whom you are able to have an entire conversation through pure physical contact, without the need for uttering a word ever arising. How else could two have become one?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Through his growing years, Half-Ass brought with him truckloads of energy and a fleeting attention span. Sports was an ideal playground for him to expend that energy. He started with cricket because, well, everyone did. But the long periods of inactivity between his short batting sessions bored him and his cricket kit was pushed to a corner, gathering dust. He picked up badminton but lost interest while waiting to grow taller than the net. He entered the tennis court but it turned out to be too small for his sixer-like shots. He played table tennis for a little longer but after a day when every shot failed to touch the table, he flung his racquet into a corner where it lay waiting to be discovered in a future archaeological dig.
Half-Ass was lucky with women, but not in love. He managed the courtship well enough, with flowers and gifts and poetry, but the hard work required to sustain and develop a relationship eluded his understanding. Bright, eloquent sparks might grab her attention and a little more, but finally it is the candle that provides illumination for the longest period of time. Half-Ass was more the sparkly cracker that makes people turn and say, "Wow!" and then, spent, is pushed into a pile to be dumped.
However, Half-Ass really hit pay-dirt at work. In his very first project, even though he was a lowly intern, there was a magical quality about him that endeared people to him. He quickly rose the ranks from bringing tea to sitting in on meetings to heading them. It was an indescribable quality, but it made his colleagues feel warm and confident and stress-free. With Half-Ass on the team, there was nothing that they could not find the answer to; with him leading the team, it was rock 'n roll all night and party everyday. He was like a sedative and an invigorant, an actioner and a planner, attack and defense, alcohol and Red Bull. And his charm worked. Clients loved him; he made them feel like everything was under control and his team had answers to everything.
Half-Ass's success didn't go unnoticed. Entire books were dedicated to dissecting his management approach; some criticised it saying it would lead to the downfall and corruption of industry, while others welcomed it as a breath of fresh air in the otherwise staid manner of functioning. His style even got its own name: 'The Half-Assed Approach'. The name and practice spread like wildfire across popular culture.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Inside, the feeling of airiness continues and I feel constantly connected to the outside. Even though this is Chennai, the outside doesn't feel quite as bad. There isn't any traffic or pollution or noise, and the weather is cool and pleasant, like Bangalore. While the clear-cut feel of the house extends into its living and dining spaces, with its stark whiteness and ramrod straight lines, this kitchen is peculiarly old-school and homely. It reminds me of kitchens I have seen in houses that were probably built pre-Independence, but that still function perfectly. The spotted floor is yellowed from decades of feet, the black granite counter-tops are round-edged and sporadically splotched with little holes, and there isn't a cupboard in sight. Instead, there is ample storage space under the counter-tops, where all the large vessels are kept, and three or four short lines of shelves on a wall for cups and small plates. The air seems to hang still in the kitchen, but entering it doesn't feel like entering a dingy, musty room, but rather like accessing a childhood memory that is wrapped up in layers of village visits to your grandmother in the summer holidays.
Obama is staying with us. That's right, US President, Mr. Barack Obama, Mr. President, is a house-guest.
Friday, November 05, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
You decide going out and meeting friends will help you get over this momentary setback, for that’s what you believe it is. You contemplate calling the usual suspects, but trawl through your phone book first, just in case. And you begin to reject name after name.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Friday, October 08, 2010
How I have missed thee
I thought you were disabled
With the advent of cable
But with the Commonwealth
I have once more been dealt
The severity of your words
That belong to another world
You overstate the obvious
In a monotone that makes me furious
Your insights are a deathly bore
And you start every sentence with 'Aur'
You insist on transcription
Of words verbatim from actions
I fear I must say to you
This is TV, not radio
In this age of democracy
And politically-correct diplomacy
I'm glad you don't have the phobia
Of being overwhelmingly pro-India
None of our sports-persons
Have appeared any more fearsome
Nor has the player's providence
Ever been attributed to competence
And though you will fade
Into your obscurity self-made
Take pride in the fact
That for twelve days exact
You were the premier sports station
In this gold-winning nation
And everybody saw your dodgy direction
And listened to your sepia diction
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
And yet, time seems to have done them in. The world has moved on.
Every personal blog in my blog roll is, without exception, comatose. Some have been undisturbed for 6 months, others for 9 and still others for over a year. Even the compulsive bloggers have grown silent.
Have they just grown up? Is blogging an age thing? Have they gotten married? Do they have other, more pressing responsibilities and commitments? Has their blog circle dwindled and dried up, leaving them to fend for themselves? Is it just my blog circle? Do I need to find new blogger-friends to party with?
I suddenly feel like Will Smith from I, Legend.
Friday, August 27, 2010
However, I have become a staunch follower and fan of two TV programmes, both of which run on Star World.
|Richard Castle and Det. Kate Beckett|
|The cast of 'Castle'|
Finally, Richard Castle is a novelist. He's a writer, and that's what I am becoming. He's a world-famous, best-selling author, and that's what I want to be. He is working with his muse, who is super-hot with personality and intelligence to match, and who wouldn't want to have that? The chemistry between the lead pair is crackling.
Every day, when the show ends, I want to run to the internet and download every episode and watch them immediately, but I hold myself back and wait for the next episode to air on TV.
|Master Chef Australia|
|The Master Chef Judges|
Sure, Master Chef Australia doesn't have a super-hot judge like Padma Lakshmi, but that might actually be working in their favour, because now all the attention is focused where it should be - on the contestants, rather than on Padma Lakshmi's chest or well-fitting jeans or her lips when she talks. I find the bald judge over-the-top and theatrical, but the other two are all right, and they all have very precise points of what they liked and what they thought could be improved. Their feedback is easily one of the most helpful I've seen.
The only thing that worries me is that Star World is trying to muck up the goodwill from these two shows. They've messed around with Castle a lot already, by not sticking to one time slot and playing far too many reruns. They haven't done anything with Master Chef Australia yet, but there are still a lot of episodes left; anything can happen.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
How must it feel to turn 50; to complete another decade in one’s life? Does it carry the same sense of completion as when the world completes a decade?
I think not.
We look at our lives in terms of years and events, even when we take a backseat big-picture view of it. So, I was 8 when we moved to Coimbatore, 16 when I finished school, 21 when I was married, 26 when I had my first child, 35 when I bought my first house and so on and so forth. We have specific years that are important to us because of some event that happened in that year, and we look at it that way. When we complete a decade and turn, let’s say, 50, then we tend to start subtracting to find out how many years ago that important event happened in our lives, and with mock (and sometimes real) astonishment, exclaim that it happened 12 or 17 or 31 years ago.
However, when the world looks at its life, it does so in decades and events, and the world almost always takes a backseat big-picture view of it. So, Elvis gyrated in the fifties, the hippie movement made free love in the sixties, the eighties had really bad taste in fashion and so on. Surprisingly enough, we don’t perform mathematical calculations to find out how many years ago it was as much as we do in our lives. We never wake up in the morning (or go to sleep at night) and say, “My goodness, Beatlemania happened 47 years ago.”
However, I have, in the last 5 months or so, had a niggling addition to make in my subtractions. I can no longer simply subtract from 100 and arrive that the sixties happened 40 years ago. I now have to subtract from 110 and that adds an annoying extra decade to my arrivals. The eighties (the decade I was born in) now happened 30 years ago; that means that I will turn 30 this decade. The seventies existed 40 years ago and the sixties 50 years ago. The nineties themselves, which seemed to have only just passed – wasn’t it just some time ago that we were following Nirvana on a daily basis and Bill Clinton was in office with the Monica Lewinsky scandal breaking out and Ayrton Senna died – are now 20 years ago. 20 years! There was a time when it used to be just a few years ago.
Time is flying like The Silver Surfer with little wings on his feet and his helmet and his wrist-cuffs and with rocket boosters under his surfboard; time is galloping like Seabiscuit on the home stretch straining every muscle; the clock on Big Ben (and everywhere else around the world) ticks ahead at the frenetic pace of one second every second. What are you doing to keep up?
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
He awoke suddenly. The heat that had lulled him as he had lain – his head and torso on the mattress on the floor in the living room and his legs on the floor itself, trying to extract every last degree of coolness – now awoke him rudely. With a start, he realised that the late afternoon sunlight had extended its reach through his west-facing balcony doors and now oozed greedily across the floor, like quicksand, devouring painfully slowly with its heat anything that lay in its path. His legs, indeed his entire body, seemed to be caught in the midst of a raging forest fire. He looked up desultorily at the stationary fans on his ceiling. The power had made its absence felt all day.
He quickly got up and shut the balcony door. Almost immediately, he felt the toll the burning heat had had on his body while he had slept in its very cradle. His stomach threw itself around and his head pounded like the jackhammer he imagined he was hearing. He needed to get out of that oven he called his house and into an air-conditioned coffee shop.
To steady himself first, he made a cup of tea. Then, he changed quickly, packed his bag with some work and a book, and left perspiring. The sweat on his body began to cool palpably as soon as he stepped out of the sauna. The auto ride was comfortable and the coffee shop felt cool, in stark contrast to the freezing cold it usually is – a testament to the blazing heat outside.
He still felt wobbly as he drank his coffee. His head continued to swim and he felt trapped in that strange land that just preceded throwing up, unable to return to the land of feeling fine.
Unable to work and desperate to divert his attention, he pulled out his book and began to read. And suddenly, out of nowhere, he was reminded of the conversation he had witnessed in the neighbourhood shop that early afternoon. He had popped in to buy some eggs and bread, but instead had to wait while the young twenty-something guy with styled hair behind the counter was engaged in a very serious conversation about the heat with a frail man hunched over with age.
“You show me a paper and we’ll see what the temperature is,” exclaimed the old man from under his cap.
“In my village in Rajasthan, where I come from, the temperature goes up to 70,” proudly stated the clean-shaven youngster.
“How can you say that? Show me a paper,” argued the old man, not realising that a newspaper in Pune would, in all probability, not carry the temperature of that particular village in Rajasthan that was well over 500 km to the north.
“In your experience, how much do you think it is here?” asked the boy, deftly side-stepping the challenge.
“Oh, 50, not more” said the other, his estimate coated with the mixed, muffled accent that comes with a small-town English education, living in the cantonment area of a bigger city and vocal cords that have done more than their fair share of work; it reminded him of his uncle who drank too much.
As he sat in air-conditioned comfort, sipping his coffee, poised to read a book, lightly remembering this conversation he had heard that was like no other, and his body still in turmoil, it slowly dawned on him that he was probably experiencing the symptoms of heat stroke.