"'Truth is strange," you know, "stranger than fiction' - besides being more to the point" - Edgar Allan Poe

December 31, 2004

A must-read short story

Click here.

Break from canning

Toefl tomorrow. Partying like a madman after that. Leaving on 1st to Chennai to meet V_, Prof. B_, and a week of volunteer work. Back to blogging after the tenth. See you then, Pi.

A moment of weakness

[This was written on the 29th night. Pi, when you read this in the future, please remember exactly how you felt.]

Salvation in a glass of rum. I never though it would happen, but it did.

I realize I have too many grouses about the world, but darned if I wasn't proved wrong today. The day started off quite normally, with me waking up with the usual grumpy ohshitanotherday feeling. Lunch at a ridiculously overpriced Samarkhand (29 Rs for a roti? No way!) and family for company ("krec? where's that?") left me feeling no better. This was followed by the mandatory 2 hours of Coldplay, loving myself (um...), napping and a visit to Ms. R_'s place, where she told me about her latest shopping adventures. Ho hum.

I checked back on my blog at the time and realized that life wasn't any better; in fact it'd only gotten worse. The tsunami deathwatch reached 68K, (Note: it's reached 120,000 now) leaving me in even more tension about buddies and pals in Chennai. Crap, I still think I'll be missing a few buddies once I hit college. I hope to god not, but the numbers are quite scary, not the kind of odds I want to bet against. Anyway, we were going to visit A_ and P_'s place again that night, and my cousin and myself were planning on spending the night there. Hopefully some relief from the pain of the world.

Let me explain what A_ and P_ are like. They got married a year ago, a love marriage that shocked the whole konkani clan, sending them into conniptions for a few months. I'm not certain P_'s parents are still chill with the fact, yet they weren't really left with much of a choice, so they smile and thank god that A_ is still a nice guy. Whatever. I like him though, he's... well, for lack of a better description - cool. A_ is your typical macho biker dude; 6' 4", biceps and triceps included, with invective flowing out at VERY regular intervals. A_ doesn't think too much about me (come to think of it, I'm not sure anybody does); he thinks I'm a pussy having been spoon-fed from birth and having had life too easy. P_ is one of my favourite cousins; we share cheap konkani jokes every once in a while and bond over matters of the heart. The only other person I can do this with is S_, my other cousin, with whom I entered A_ and P_'s flat. This flat is where I get a lot of my reading done, thanks to the neat collection of books that they've collected so far. The bookshelf had a new entry - Mike Moore's "Stupid White Men", another in his bushwhacking (punny?) series.

This book is totally depressing; I can understand how he hates the US Govt., but c'mon! There's sarcasm flowing through each page and a primal anger that seeps through each word and leaves you feeling like a silent bystander to the apocalypse that's sweeping through the world. Consider excerpts -
"Welcome to your 21st century nightmare!"
"Not a damn thing has changed in more than 120 years."
"Do you feel like you live in a nation filled with idiots?"
"It's the dirty little secret we'd rather not discuss"
"We're going to eliminate 10,000 jobs here- have a nice day!"
and so on…

(By the way, if you though I'd marked these sections to type out, you're wrong. I randomly picked out pages right now and typed the first things that hit me.)
By the end of all this (and I'm only halfway through the book) I was feeling even more pissed than ever. So the world is going to end. I'm living in the worst phase of history. Oh, to be born in Woodstock! Everything's so fucked up. It's doomsday, and it ain't science fiction. It's happening right now, baby, and there isn't a goddamned thing we can do to fix it. Fuck. And the US is where I want to go, to broaden my horizons and soak in the rest of the world. Ironic. Top it off with an identity crisis, gloom over myself, and terribly fried sausages, and you've got yourself a well roasted Pi sitting there dying for a drink and some soft drugs.

Look, these questions were ringing in my head - God, where are you? I know I'm atheist, but what the fuck? What reason to live, Goddammit?

What reason to live if it's all fucked up anyway?

I've got no drive, no mental peace, no sanity that'll help me conform? Suicide would be quick, cheap, and I'd finally leave the worst place to be- Earth!

"Let's play cards."

Huh? When did A_ start playing cards? He never has, that's for sure, and the clumsy handling of his own Harley Davidson collectors' edition cards made me wonder why he was even doing this. So the four of us got around on the laid out mattresses and started with an old favorite - bluff. Shuffle, deal (and explain the rules to him three times). We made trips to Donkey (an easier version of trump), some cheap card tricks, and various jokes with assorted levels of raunchiness. By the time we actually finished (4 am, mind you), we had died laughing atleast 6 separate times, gone through a half bottle of Reserva, and decided that it was against all logic for a 20+ man to wear 3-4ths in public again [sheepish grin].

That's when it hit me.

Look, I'm an amateur philosopher at best. I juggle logic around to find answers that suit me. I'm not much of a wordsmith either, and the stuff I write is decidedly simple, clean and tothepoint; simply because I lack the skill to go anywhere beyond that. I fake emotions when they're expected of me, and I get aggravated by attacks on my personal integrity. What I do like about myself is that I'm honest, make no doubt about that. I don't mean literal honesty; I still fib about my smoking and stuff like that. I mean personal stuff, like opinions and expressions and such. This leads me to hate the world for all the bullshit it throws at me everyday.

So when I find myself wiping tears of laughter off my face at this ungodly hour, realizing that I haven't enjoyed myself this much in ages, I'm sure something's changed. And it isn't just the alcohol that's making me talk, it's something much deeper. Sure, there's a hole in the ozone layer that's going to burn me up, I'm going to pay taxes to a government that I hate, and vice and lies are going to attack me at every point in my life, and kids in Somalia are going to go hungry for another night, ityadi. That doesn't bother me anymore, I think. Because if there's true happiness, I've realized that it's in letting yourself go, in sharing the secrets of the heart just to see your pal thinks of it, in asking yourself about the things you WANT to do, not complain about what's already happening, and look on each next day as a new challenge; not giving up before it's even upon you. This sounds like chickflick material, but I learned it the hard way.

Love is the reason the world goes around. Fuck the system, everybody's going through it anyway. And the system can never take away what I feel inside. It can try, but it's not going to work.

Jeez, I feel like a blonde pop starlet singing here, so please be gentle in your judgment. Today I truly felt something pure, beyond all the shit that's been driving me crazy for a while. So I suggest this to everybody around me- chuck away those self-help books, and start helping yourself. Stop bitching about what's bugging you, and go out and do something about it. Call up your buddies and thank them for bearing with you, tell them that it's been great hanging out with them (Hwingers, you know what I mean). Hug your girlfriend and ask for a hug back. Don't hate anybody; we're all human inside. Forgive your enemies, a hundred times if you must. It's the only way you can destroy them - by making friends of them.

You deserve better. And only you can make it so.

PS: V_, I love you. Happy 23rd birthday. You probably won't read this, but I hope you know how I feel. I know it's beyond impossible to get with you again, but I'd like you to know that I'll treasure the time we had together forever. I hope your life brings you happiness wherever you are. And in case you need a few laughs and some company for a drink, y'know whom to call.

PPS: Can somebody please reattach my penis for me? I'm not sure I'll be feeling this good tomorrow, and surely it's going to be grumpsville all over again.

[Note to self: Still feeling good.]

December 30, 2004

Why us?

This is worth reading just for the punchline. Printed in the Patna Daily.


Tsunami - Where Are Our Religious Leaders?

by Rajesh Chaubey
December 29, 2004




The world has been left shell-shocked by the tsunami which, in a few moments, ended thousands of lives and left many thousand lives scarred. I have been closely following the news of the great tragedy and the happenings thereafter. The human misery we have witnessed has shaken us to the very core of our souls. The pictures are straight out of some nasty nightmare.

A poor man hugging the body of his child who must have been about three years old when he was snatched away. The man's wife walks in front carrying the body of the elder sibling.

A tiny girl who has lost both parents stands there alone. She looks too young even to comprehend what the tsunami has done to her life.

A lady who lost her husband and kids at Kanyakumari talks to the TV correspondent with blank, tearless eyes informing him that she has completed the last rites of her family.
I could go on and on.

The questions that this tragedy raises can never be answered. The last tsunami India experienced was way back in 1883. Why had it to happen now? Each of the thousands of living victims and their relatives will ask "Why me?" Such questions can never be answered. Scientists can not answer them and any religious leaders trying to give explanations should be asked to shut up. These people can explain off anything with their glib talk but would they not be standing in the ocean waters with blank eyes had they lost some one close? Man has to tolerate it without seeking or trying to give explanations.

The silver lining to this very, very dark cloud is the goodness it has brought out of people. People are donating generously and many are leaving home to go and help the victims. The other day bus-loads of UN workers made their way to Sri Lanka. Many NGOs are moving in to help. An NGO from Latur has moved in too. The man who leads them has a simple explanation. "People came forward to help us when we needed them. It is our turn now." He goes on to say that they have helped out earlier in tragedies and that the young men who follow him are trained and will do all the jobs from burying the dead, to putting up shelters fast, distributing rations etc etc.

Here, please take note. I am yet to see a clergyman, mullah, sadhu or a prominent religious organisation standing on the forefront helping the victims. These people must be busy explaining why it all happened. Ordinary mortals are helping ordinary mortals. The god-men are talking to God.

It is the biggest relief operation ever carried out. Ten countries need help. Other countries are sending in a lot of help.

When the nature is kind, the news is full of wars, crime and terrorism. God, this human animal You have created behaves the best when You send in the worst and behaves the worst when You send in the best!!!

Deaths due to natural disasters- Click here.


By the way, the most no. of deaths due to nature was in 1970, when a typhoon hit bangladesh, killing 500,000 (Ref: BBC)

So you lost your trust,
And you never shared her, you never shared her,
But don't break your back,
If you ever see this,
Don't answer that.

In a bullet proof vest,
With the windows all closed,
I'll be doing my best,
I'll see you soon,
In a telescope lens,
And when all you want is friends,
I'll see you soon.



So they came for you,
They came snapping at your heels,
They come snapping at you heels,
But don't break your back,
If you ever see this,
Don't answer that.

In a bullet proof vest,
With the windows all closed,
I'll be doing my best,
I'll see you soon,
In a telescope lens,
And when all you want is friends,
I'll see you soon,
I'll see you soon.

I know you lost your trust,
I know you lost your trust,
Don't lose your trust,
I know you lost your trust

- "See you soon", Coldplay

December 29, 2004

Click here for more information on the tsunami. As of now, death toll crosses 63000., making it one of the worst killers in the history of civilized man.

Sixty Three Thousand.

Where's a god when you need one?

Good Omens - excerpt

[Chapter 1 of “Good omens” by Neil Gaiman and Teri Pratchett]

In the beginning
-------------------

It was a nice day.
All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.
The angel of the Eastern Gate put his wings over his head to shield himself from the first drops.
"I'm sorry," he said politely. "What was it you were saying?"
"I said, that one went down like a lead balloon," said the serpent.
"Oh. Yes," said the angel, whose name was Aziraphale.
"I think it was a bit of an overreaction, to be honest," said the serpent. "I mean, first offense and everything. I can't see what's so bad about knowing the difference between good and evil, anyway."
"It must be bad," reasoned Aziraphale, in the slightly concerned tones of one who can't see it either, and is worrying about it, "otherwise you wouldn't have been involved."
"They just said, Get up there and make some trouble," said the serpent, whose name was Crawly, although he was thinking of changing it now. Crawly, he'd decided, was not hint.
"Yes, but you're a demon. I'm not sure if it's actually possible for you to do good," said Aziraphale.
"It's down to your basic, you know, nature. Nothing personal, you understand."
"You've got to admit it's a bit of a pantomime, though," said Crawly. "I mean, pointing out the Tree and saying 'Don't Touch' in big letters. Not very subtle, is it? I mean, why not put it on top of a high mountain or a long way off? Makes you wonder what He's really planning."
"Best not to speculate, really," said Aziraphale. "You can't second-guess ineffability, I always say. There's Right, and there's Wrong. If you do Wrong when you're told to do Right, you deserve to be punished. Er."
They sat in embarrassed silence, watching the raindrops bruise the first flowers.
Eventually Crawly said, "Didn't you have a flaming sword?"
"Er," said the angel. A guilty expression passed across his face, and then came back and camped there.
"You did, didn't you?" said Crawly. "It flamed like anything."
"Er, well-"
"It looked very impressive, I thought."
"Yes, but, well-"
"Lost it, have you?"
"Oh no! No, not exactly lost, more-"
"Well?"
Aziraphale looked wretched. "If you must know," he said, a trifle testily, "I gave it away."
Crawly stared up at him.
"Well, I had to," said the angel, rubbing his hands distractedly. "They looked so cold, poor things, and she's expecting already, and what with the vicious animals out there and the storm coming up I thought, well, where's the harm, so I just said, look, if you come back there's going to be an almighty row, but you might be needing this sword, so here it is, don't bother to thank me, just do everyone a big favor and don't let the sun go down on you here."
He gave Crawly a worried grin.
"That was the best course, wasn't it?"
"I'm not sure it's actually possible for you to do evil," said Crawly sarcastically. Aziraphale didn't notice the tone.
"Oh, I do hope so," he said. "I really do hope so. It's been worrying me all afternoon."
They watched the rain for a while.
"Funny thing is," said Crawly, "I keep wondering whether the apple thing wasn't the right thing to do, as well. A demon can get into real trouble, doing the right thing." He nudged the angel. "Funny if we both got it wrong, eh? Funny if I did the good thing and you did the bad one, eh?"
"Not really," said Aziraphale.
Crawly looked at the rain.
"No," he said, sobering up. "I suppose not."
Slate-black curtains tumbled over Eden. Thunder growled among the hills. The animals, freshly named, cowered from the storm.
Far away, in the dripping woods, something bright and fiery flickered among the trees.

It was going to be a dark and stormy night.

Piffle Paffle ( Or, Stop the world and I'll get off)

"In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move."
Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy


A recollection of memory
------------------------
Look around you. Each object, be it animate or not, is linked to a piece of memory locked away in your head. If you're asked to remember details about it (say, a book), visions pop up of how the pages feel, what fontface is used, avg size of a paragraph, and so on. Each memory seems perfectly normal, and each quite easily accessed from our mental library.
How'd it get there?
I'm not talking about academic details. I'm talking about the stuff we don't choose to remember, like the dogeared sections of a book, the way modem lights blink, the tiny imperfection in your tshirt print... so on. And yet they seem perfectly natural, just like remembering E=mcsquared. Darned if we'll ever figure it out.
Why can't we define what stuff does get stored? What stupid subconscious process says that that I should rather remember the exact details of the mole on my teacher's face, instead of millions of formulae that plug away at my irritability? Why do I remember getting hit by a bike and the pain that lasted for days after that, instead of the guilt that overwhelms me everytime I take another drag? Why do I forget saying "Never again", until I break that very promise and go into invective mode, screaming at my lack of will?
Dammit, this human body has me confounded. Must seek another step of evolution to get these questions answered.


I think, therefore I am... quite lonely
---------------------------------------
Lately I've felt depressed at what I've become. Being an egoist was cool in the beginning, but now I feel pity at missing the more primitive measures in life. And after a while, they're all primitive. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a braggart being honestly happy/satisfied/amazed at something not related to him? And I don't mean sadistic or sarcastic pleasure here.

Personal thoughts I'm ashamed of-
-No person is good enough to be my friend.
-All pursuit of artistic freedom is a waste of time.
-Every short story written is cliched; I'm sure I could have done a better job of it.
-Music? You mean the commercial crap they play on tv nowadays?
-Yeah, that couple will break up soon enough. (This falls under professional jealousy as well)



Currently reading - The complete works of Edgar Allan Poe (again!)
On Winamp - The essential Lynyrd Skynyrd
Feeling - Cranky