Saturday, December 8, 2007

Seasons in the sun

It’s started. The goodbyes. The real ones, not the ceremonious half-serious farewell sessions that feel like just another chance to meet up, in which you know someone’s leaving but only as a remote thought at the back of your head….. where you read out write-ups summing up the BITSian life and contributions of the person, adding all the quirky details and anecdotes, all the while strengthening the presence of the person in your consciousness rather than a feeling of loss……
But “when the hurly-burly’s done…..”….the real goodbyes are different. Two minutes, three minutes max… what do you say? “Bye, it was nice knowing you, take care, we’ll meet sometime surely, keep in touch….”… redundant cliché’s not meant to express the sudden pang or to hide the feeling but only to show the inadequacy of words, the inability to express what you feel, partly shyness, partly a sudden desire to simply run away…..
They were the people who made up a huge chunk of the very definition of the place for you…they were the people who made your little world what it is…. And not just the people you were close to, but even the ones you barely knew, they all made up that little oasis in the middle of the desert….
These people were the ones who took you under their wings when you came here. They were the ones to give you a sense of security and belonging, show you the ropes, initiate you in the traditions, and the ones who made you see what BITS would mean to you if you let it in….
“Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard….”
I don’t want to pretend to bid a cheerful Englishman goodbye. I just want hide under my blanket…..for my little world as I knew it is slipping away…..

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You're Beautiful

A tremendous attack of writers’ block has beset me ever since I got my lappy. I think it has something to do with the way I keep confusing it for my fragile first-born. I stare for hours at the beautiful shiny surfaces that gleam with the light of joy reflected from my eyes. I run my fingers along the keypad, thrilled by its virgin sheen and I just can’t bring myself to hurt it with harsh keystrokes. I’m absolutely infatuated with it; and every time I sit down to vent my frustrations about some publicity stunt or ponder about the infinite nature of human stupidity (as Einstein had once put it, for all the ignoramuses out there) all the words seem to get tangled up and suddenly all I can think of is whether my keystrokes are light enough and whether I’m abusing my touchpad. I just can’t get properly angry or feel whatever passion may be required for whatever I’m writing on. And unless every key feels what you’re feeling, it’s just not going to sound right!

Yeouch! I’ve been shaking my legs without remembering I have my lappy positioned between my stomach and my thighs, at an angle of 35 degrees. I think I just had a nervous breakdown.

Ah that’s better. I decided not to get so physical with it after all, and have currently restrained myself to the extent of keeping it on the table. Ah my beautiful baby!!

Here’s a poem for it

Beautiful lappy, so shiny and grey

Manufactured in my heart to stay

Who for such dainties would not shop?

Lappy of the evening, beautiful laptop.

Beautiful lappy – who cares for ipod?

Or digicams or funky phones without cord?

Your 120 GB hard drive sure makes me happy!

Lappy of the evening, beautiful lappy!

[ p.s. For those who haven’t figured it out yet, that was a self-confessedly pathetic imitation of “Beautiful Soup” from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

If you’re interested, it goes:

Beautiful soup, so rich and green

Waiting in a hot tureen

Who for such dainties would not stoop?

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup.]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Talk (version 2)

My last post on the topic of the environment triggered various responses from those who cared to read it. Some saw it as hypocrisy, some as a noble thought, some others as yet another useless been-there-done-that crusade with a half-life of max one day. I feel I need to say a few more words on the issue.

See the topic itself is such that it is difficult to approach it without some sort of cynicism. Much has been said, much has been spread, much less has been done. From hopefuls to the crown of Miss Universe to presidential candidates to multi-millionaire celebrities, everyone has a take on it; everyone has pearls of wisdom to offer. Therefore, another voice shouting out the same thing doesn’t really have much of an impact, to put it mildly. Every now and then some school or the other will organize some presentation or the other on the topic; every now and then news reports of global warming will act as fillers between celebrity wedding coverages and bomb blast reports; every once in a while some sort of protest march against poaching or felling of trees will go on somewhere. We have become as used to them as to the cause itself, and as dismissive of them as we are of the actual threats.

But does that mean no one should do anything about it? Does that mean the lectures, the marches and the school projects for EVE must stop? Does that mean the organizers of the beauty pageants must stop taxing the poor little brains of the models on display with predictable questions on the save-earth-crusade? Does that mean no one should make any noise about it for fear of being labeled “politically correct” and “hypocritical”?

Of course not! Every bit counts. I can almost see the involuntary sneer when my reader reads that done-to-death phrase. But the fact remains that in spite of all the negative vibes associated with it, the dissemination of information through the spoken or written word is still one of the most important steps in dealing with major problems. Every time we roll our eyes over some brainless beauty rattling off rehearsed lines on global warming, every time we struggle to stay awake at some boring presentation in school on the ozone hole, every time we come across Cameron Diaz advocating power conservation on vh1, a tiny bit of it sticks in our minds, the part of our memory dealing with the issue gets reinforced. If someone keeps telling you over and over again that you’re doing something wrong, a vague feeling of guilt is bound to develop – and you won’t be allowed to forget about it in a hurry if people around you keep on making the right noises, no matter how clichéd, no matter how boring, no matter how redundant. It is necessary. It is necessary to keep talking about it, to yak, yak, and yak until everyone knows what’s going on, until it is so firmly imprinted that people will unconsciously switch off the taps and turn off the lights on leaving a room. That maybe a small thing. But it’s important. It’s important to show people what they can do without having to stick out their necks. Then when that basic level of commitment and concern has been reached, one can talk of further activity.

Obviously not every person on earth can become a crusader for the environment. It is not possible and no one expects them to. But the least they can do is modify their lifestyles a bit, a little bit. What they can do is know what’s going on, so that they can tell their kids. It is not right to underestimate the power of the cliché. See not all of us are in a position to do something major like go on tree-planting missions. I am a student, and scoring in tests and chilling out with friends will obviously take precedence over collecting plastic bags from the roads and supervising their recycling.

But at least I can spread the word, at least I can express my concern for the earth and my solidarity with those who are trying to make a difference by talking about it, by incorporating tiny changes that I’m asking everyone else to, till I’m in a position to do something more about it. ‘They also serve, who only stand and wait’.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Yesterday Once More

When I was little (disambiguation: refers to my chronological age, and not to size, therefore, no revision of tense is necessary), my aim in life was to be a bus conductor. In my five-year-old eyes, nothing in the world was as beautiful and as fascinating as the dirty worn out leather pouch that jingled with coins whenever the revered Great One passed by. The Great one himself, complete with his ubiquitous khaki shirt in patches of dark and light demarcating the perspiration-prone areas clearly; the dirty khaki trousers or shorts depending on the season; and that world-weary look as he flipped through a bunch of fresh tickets in his hand with his thumb – little did he know with what starry-eyed admiration a little girl was regarding him. Whenever he reached out his bony hand to give us the ticket, I would eagerly grasp it, look at it reverently for a few minutes, and then keep it tightly clasped until we returned home, never mind if it became soggy with sweat and the fascinating numbers became blurred.

At home, my brother and I started a collection of these tickets – every remotely familiar face who dropped in would first be politely ushered into the drawing room by us good kids, and then requested to part with any bus ticket that he might have the good fortune to possess. When we had collected a sizeable number, we tied up the bunch with the typical fluorescent orange rubber bands and then pretended to flip through them with as much expertise as we could muster, all the while demanding “ticket, ticket!” in a flat monotone.

I don’t know how or exactly when he the charm began to fade. Perhaps it was triggered by the fact that the bus conductors invariably found me within the acceptable range of cute and insisted on pulling my cheeks or tugging playfully at my ponytails. The fact that the god would descend to the level of familiarity was compounded by the fact that I hated the feel of grimy, sweaty fingers on my face (in fact, being quite the little miss snob, I used to wipe it off in front of them – the fact that I only evoked an indulgent laugh due to my cuteness only meant a severe admonition at home) – and so the aura of divinity surrounding the Bus Conductor gradually wore off.

Soon more acceptable ambitions replaced the aforementioned crazy one – teacher, computer engineer (at that time all I knew was that it was the in thing and sounded excessively funky), author, veejay, astronaut, explorer, aircraft designer and so on. As I grew older my ambitions kept getting modified, and now that I have embarked upon the path of engineering, I can at least lay claims to some sort of direction to my career. Physicist or computer engineer or investment banker – the delight of the jingling leather bag doesn’t quite figure in the scheme of things. Nevertheless, whenever I see a bus ticket, it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


For a change, an absolutely deathly serious post

It’s there in the disappearing greenery. It’s there in the noxious fumes choking our lungs everytime we step outside. It’s there in the airconditioned rooms we flit in and out of, in the aerosol cans we spray our deo with. It’s there in the crunch of coke bottles under our feet. It’s there in the crackle of a plastic bag getting blown this way and that on the road. It’s there in the thermocol diorama depicting global warming at school exhibitions. It’s there in the computer left on even when not in use, the gtalk status beside the yellow dot saying “away”. It’s there in the light left on throughout the night because the studious one has fallen asleep over linear algebra. It’s there in the bath water overflowing because someone is too busy talking over the phone. It’s there in the TV being perennially in the standby mode because it takes too much time to start. It’s there in the two-minute journey to the next block by an ac car to avoid tired feet. It’s there in the concrete jungle gobbling up land minute by minute, it’s there in land being reclaimed from the sea to satisfy it’s voracious appetite. It’s there in the last spasm of a dying musk deer, the last breath of schools of fish trapped under oil spills, the diminishing numbers of migratory birds, the rapidly vanishing habitat of the giant panda.

It’s the cry of the earth. Can you hear it?

Do your bit. Save our planet. Please. Time is running out...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Twisted Logic

Q: How many senses do we possess?

A: Four in Mumbai and five in the rest of the world.

That’s right folks. Time to demolish old myths assiduously taught to preschoolers by distraught parents desperate for their toddlers’ admissions. For as we all are well aware, the sense of touch is a highly redundant and unhealthy one, and that’s why two schools in the financial capital of India (sometimes confused for a cosmopolitan liberal city) have issued a ban against any physical contact among the opposite sexes in the school premises. For, as we all know, the country is going to the dogs anyway, with all these Western ideas of sex and all (chhee chhee! We never do anything so dirty! See that’s why our three million gods have blessed us with our two billion little ones). People are forgetting their good Indian roots – the best place to start is the schools. As it is, Indian kids are born in such an advanced state of sexual maturity that playing “Tag” might just incite uncontrollable lust. And of course, the potency of handshakes as an aphrodisiac has always been underestimated, I say. Kids are growing up so fast these days – they already know all about these dirty ideas by the time they’re twelve (don’t blame us – we tried to prevent it by banning sex educations in schools) and then if you allow them to touch each other in school – total fireworks! I mean sex is the only thing on the minds of ten-year-olds, didn’t we all know that?

Good Indian kids may not be able to devote 100% of their time to boards and then JEE preps because of their dirty, unnatural curiosity about the opposite sex (god only knows how children of decent, god-fearing parents turn out that way! This generation!). So as guardians of society and proud generators of IIT-androids (with enhanced formula memorizing ability – the preferred product of top tech schools since 1975) we have devised an ingenious way of putting a stop to it all – that’s right folks, let’s hear it for BAN!!!! (the taste of India!) Such a beautifully simple idea – hats off to those silent geniuses toiling day and night to safeguard our kids from evil evolutionary conspiracies against their traditional asexuality (and entrance into IIT). I mean, obviously, boys and girls never meet outside schools, right? And of course, we’ll have 4 cameras per student, positioned so as to capture front, rear and side views, to ensure absolutely no touching takes place. What do you think, we haven’t worked out the details? And then, perhaps, we can put a word in now and then during assemblies, about how touching girls causes AIDS. Or shall we just stick to plain old cooties?

What did you say? We’re creating more interest and curiosity by banning touching? That kids’ minds are more likely to be corrupted by such unhealthy ideas than any music video? bah – go away to your America, you pervert!

Yes, let’s not waste time over silly digressions like that, but instead focus now on how to implement the policy for best results. We’re thinking we could smear the exposed skin of every child with some sort of grease – such that we can obtain fingerprints also, as additional proof to the camera recordings. Obviously, we’ll make the boys and girls sit separately during classes – what are we, stupid? Better still, we’ll have these separate classrooms for boys and girls and maybe separate playgrounds and separate queues during assemblies. What did you say? Go back to single sex schools? But that’s so regressive, we’re liberal people, we want our children to be in more realistic environments. Bah silly digressions again, spoiling our well-laid out plans. Hmm now what shall we do to those who disobey? Cut off their hands? No, no, that’s so Taliban-like. How about expulsion? But we can’t do that, where would we get our revenue then? Difficult question, this. If anyone has any constructive suggestion to offer to keep the future of the nation in safe, non-sexual cocoons, please feel free to contact us. In fact we might make this a contest – just like a business plan competition. Next on our list is banning loud breathing, panting after physical exertion and of course, smiling - obviously for their sexual overtones. Let us all join hands and work towards that ultimate goal of banning free thought, for a cleaner, greener society.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Look At Me

Bloggitis has hit BITS. All of us for whom blogdom was hitherto foreign ground, have taken to it like fish to water, and with astonishing rapidity. Those that were initiated into its folds before the rest of us lesser mortals have added to their cv by creating two, and for the ones with two to their credit already, one can only extrapolate. Most of us are at a loss for something better to do, which is apparent from our posts (dude, writing about how one spends a lazy summer afternoon by doing nothing? seriously, what was I thinking?) but if you’re thinking of using us to define the new standard of joblessness, you can think again. For, some self-appointed content-police of blogdom start new blogs to comment on other people’s blogs! It surprises me, the amount of effort a certain blogger took to not only read apparently unreadable trash, but to actually pick and choose posts to comment on, and then to actually comment on the comments! dude!! The world of freethinking and freer publishing makes for a highly interesting commentary on human nature!

For instance, why do we blog? Is it the desire to merely shout, or desire to be heard? Is it about writing what we feel like, or about writing what we want others to appreciate? I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s more to do with letting people know that I can think and I can write (whatever others’ opinions might be on that :P) and hence, gain a little more attention. And yes, the comments. I’m sorry to expose such a shallow nature, but it’s the kick I get from seeing 11 comments, that keeps me typing assiduously. That, and an assured audience, of course. Blogdom social circles are as amusing and fraught with as many social niceties as any Country club clique. I add you to my blogroll means you do the same to me. I’m your wingie in personal life, therefore to avoid cold war and/or occasional bouts of violence, I post comments, whether I’ve read your blog or not (I mean, seriously, how many words do you have to go through to post a “hey nice going”?) I’ve manifested my general benevolence and interest in you by stopping by your blog, now you go and check out mine! But this Orkut-testimonial-psychology is one of the primary attraction of blogging, at least to rookies like me. I mean which of us doesn’t want to feel taken notice of. I like it, I like it the way it is. I like reading the blogs of my friends (for quite a few of them write pretty darn well), I like seeing and posting comments even more, and I like the discussions that that sparks off occasionally even more. It’s that feeling of being connected – whether to friends who anyway are bound by duty, or to complete strangers who for whatever reason happen to tell you your blog made for a nice read- that I like, pretty unashamedly as you can see. For me, it’s not so much about letting out my feelings, as it is to see if those feelings find an echo in anyone. Sorry, I’m not really on a mission to revolutionize web journalism, and I don’t think I’ve been divinely ordained to write a thesis on Third World poverty.

I don’t care if what I write about has no real significance or whether people think I’m wasting precious e-space by divulging details about my life that no one could possibly be better off knowing. If I can make for a nice afternoon read, I ask no more of life, at least for the present. Of course, the moment people start telling me they’re getting bored (c’mon, don’t be shy!), I shall mend my ways with lightning speed. So do not fail to comment!

P.S: let not those who know me best misconstrue my comments – what I have hitherto said on your posts has never been tempered by any social obligations, and whether I have liked or disliked your posts, I have made clear.

disclaimer: ok people, I didn't mean this post to sound like a whining child's lament, who can't take a joke. I meant it all in good sport. I'm really sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings. Please don't read this in a serious vein!

Monday, June 18, 2007

All Apologies

Ok the cold war has ended and peace and joy reigns once again in the Bhattacharyya household. Quite a few people have complained about the typical teenage-angst-ridden note of most of my previous posts and have expressed concern over my mental well-being. Also, I realized that the general tone of my posts are giving an entirely one-sided view of me and my life. So time for a little clearing up.

First of all, my life doesn’t suck that much, you know. It’s actually a nice, wholesome, happy one, albeit a little boring right now. My parents have their quirks, but most of the time it’s more funny than irritating – at least I never fail to see the humor of it, and the realization that most parents are more or less cast out of the same mould, helps me laugh off most of their idiosyncrasies.

Consequently, I am not exactly the depressed fuck with more angst than I know where to put. In fact, quite the opposite. I am usually never spotted without a smile on my face and my silly enthusiasm about sunny days, pretty blue flowers, matching jewellery and the like is renowned. The one to come jumping and skipping declaring to whoever might be listening that it’s a beautiful morning – that’s me. I like being happy. You might say, “who doesn’t?” to that but if you think over it, you’ll realize that many people don’t know how to be happy. Happiness is not going to drop onto your lap from the skies; you have to find it. So that’s exactly what I try to do most of the time – no matter how silly the sources may seem to others. It may be “corny” to be thrilled to bits with a poem, it may be “gay” to be ecstatic over the weather, it may be utterly silly to be on top of the world because some stranger wished you good morning, but there, that’s me.

What you see here is not exactly a commentary on who I am. It’s just that I pick topics that enable me to “bitch” because that, I admit, is one of the pleasures of life that I can’t forego.

So now that you know I’m really just your average happy-go-lucky girl-next-door, I can continue my bitching with a clear conscience again!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Man! I Feel Like A Woman

Being a girl, as vouched for by millions of double-X-ites (and that refers to XX chromosome configuration in case you missed school level biology), is not easy. Nineteen years (and continuing) of pimples, bad-hair days, ruined nails, PMS, cramps, hydrating masks, waxing, figure woes have convinced me of that. One spends so much time trying to be a girl that one is often led to wonder what we unbroken creatures would be if not assiduously trained in the art of attaining feminity – possibly some close kin of the Neanderthal man. Or worse, as our mothers never fail to remind us, husbandless.

It begins from the very cradle. I’m sure proud parents of “Sushila” or “Prudence” hush up their masterpiece’s lusty wails with a “behave like a lady”. That continues to how little ladies don’t tear their frocks and don’t fight and don’t behead their ubiquitous Barbies. Then, just where the parents let off, SCHOOL begins. Ok, I concede that my schooling experience is not quite the norm (and is soon dying out, more’s the pity), but my school was one of those charming miniature finishing schools – over a hundred years old (130 is closer) and staffed with the most delightful remnants of the Raj in the shape of ancient Anglo Indian ladies and other Anglophiles.( I say this without a hint of ill-will – those teachers were some of my favorites and it’s heartbreaking for me to see the demise of that old-school class nowadays). So along with our ABC’s and Marian Richardson Cursive Writing, we were taught to sit properly( with legs either crossed in a ladylike fashion or with knees pressed together, ankles touching), walk properly (“Don’t drag your feet”, “Don’t slouch”, “No running in the corridors”, “Chin up”, “Back Straight”), talk properly (in soft dulcet tones, no screaming like a hag, and to note that twenty is pronounced “twen-tay” alone, “twen-tee” in conjunction) and so on and so forth. Young ladies never quarrel – they merely express a difference in opinion. Young ladies never give or receive birthday bumps – that vulgar custom whereby people enjoy other people’s birthdays. Young ladies must not adopt wild hairstyles – hair must be properly braided the moment it threatens to reach twistable length. Young ladies must suffer terrible high heeled pumps in senior school. Young ladies must learn to make cross-stitch table cloths, paint vases and make miscellaneous paper decorations. I wonder why they tried to prepare us for assuming the position of Duchess of York with modest blushes, but somehow or the other, we never quite turned out the way we were supposed to, I guess. A different kind of schooling, one received by default on living in a metro, was at work to thwart the plans of the conformistic school corridors. But this proved no easier in our labours of girlhood, I assure you.

This manifested itself in girlish rebellion – we WON’T plait our hair – remedy, get it cut in razor style, with loose ends galore decorating our sweating faces in June, and irritating bits of hair scratching the back of our necks, but of course, it’s the in thing, and we’d rather die than look like a typical convent school product that our school was trying to churn out. (although I must be careful to mention that our school was Protestant.) We’re rebels, we’re rebels people! So we go through excruciating pain to get multiple ear piercings, the occasional nose piercing and of course colouring our hair in vivid shades of orange (in this case causing eye-problems to onlookers). We wear our skirts two-inches shorter than the prescribed one-inch-above-knee, coz we’re rebelling against forced maidenly modesty – never mind the extra pain and bother of waxing involved. And the constant agonies about our thighs on display not being the perfect shape or size. We hate socks with our high-heeled pumps; we think they look so retarded that the idea could only have been our principal’s brainchild. So what do we do? take off the socks the moment we’re out of the school gates. As for the painful chafing of the backs of our feet and the heels – grin and bear it! Rather spend an hour everyday bathing our feet with hot water and turmeric than look like a clown. And need I even mention the taming of bushy eyebrows and (horror of horrors) the thin line of down over the upper lips ( I can’t say the odious word.. it begins with an M...). The amount of pain we silently bear every three weeks!!

And that my dear friends, is where our troubles merely begin. These self-imposed rules and inconveniences are probably programmed in us – we invite lesser pains as if to prepare ourselves for the bigger ones, and who knows, perhaps pain is somehow inherent in the definition of womanhood.... I have a sneaking feeling we even enjoy being martyrs once in a while. But only once in a while. Coz once delicate-darling complaints about period cramps are no longer entertained as a valid reason to miss tests or deadlines, it kinda hits you that you have to grin and bear it... sorry dude, no other way! And unless you want to scream everytime you look into the mirror..... those “hair-raising” incidents must take place, and you can’t afford to yelp everytime a tweezer approaches your face. You want to wear those figure-hugging clothes, so why complain when you have to curb your chocolate cravings or sweat it out at the gym? And if you don’t want to suffer all this, then chill out na, why should you care so much whether you’re attractive to the opposite sex and whether you pass the eagle-eyed criticism of your own?

But the problem is, we do care. And there isn’t anything we’d trade in the world for being who we are, girls. That’s why being a girl is so difficult.... and so damn fun!!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

What do you do when you have two and a half months of complete vacousness ahead of you, coupled with mixed feelings about having no work and (therefore) no good reason to justify your existence? Well, I, for one, read. And when I say read, I mean READ. Getting into brag-mode, let me tell you I am a very, very fast reader. How fast? Well, I finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 5 hours. hah, take that! And I won a competition in British Council for being the fastest reader which got me 1 grand worth of books, tayk it! See, the thing is, to stop me from driving them up all kinds of walls with my endless questions and demands for stories, my parents hit upon the clever idea of teaching me to read, and shutting me up with a book. Since the age of three (or was it four?), there’s been no looking back. Ok, before I begin boring people into a coma (or have I hit a new high and managed to do that already?), let me snap out of it and get back to the point. The point being reading, and the kind of books I’m reading these days (and by the way the example quoted might give you a slightly inaccurate idea of my taste in reading, Harry Potter and I have mentally parted ways after the third book). Which, of course, brings us to the topic of trash. Pure, unadulterated trash (yes, I have noticed the oxymoron in that statement). I have been a loyal visitor to the British Council library everyday (the fact that it’s a five minutes’ walk from my place, helps) and have been assiduously filling up the biblical void generated by four months of Pilani with all kinds of “critically acclaimed” and “prize-winning” books. Is it just me, or do critics really need an all-expenses-paid holiday in Phuket, with breakfast included, bless their hearts? Probably a bit of both, but seriously, dude!!!! Ok, let me give you a blow-by-blow account of my adventures.

First book I pick up – a murder mystery called “Murder In Holy Orders” by P.D.James. Not too many people in my immediate circle have heard of her, which I think rather a pity because her books are actually good. Writing may drag at times, and you might wonder occasionally why intricate details about the clergy should interfere with your desire to know who-the-hell-dunnit, but all-in-all, a decent read.

Very well, encouraged by the success of my first pick, I began on the second. Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves”. I have read her “Mrs. Dalloway”, and it is one of my favourite books till date. The Waves looked promising enough – it’s supposed to represent some pinnacle of her creative ability – but I’m sorry, way too many characters. The stream of consciousness technique, beautiful in Mrs. Dalloway, becomes a pain here – dude, before you figure out what one person is thinking, the narrative has moved to the next, and all those intertwined emotions and relationships make you want to say “wait a minute – who’s in love with whom again?’. Sorry, had to leave it midway, captivating though her style is – it was too much of a mental effort.

Next stop – Ian McEwan’s “Atonement”. Rave reviews always make me a bit suspicious, but I wasn’t disappointed this time. Lovely rendition, although there was an entire section filled with absolutely trivial war-time details that added absolutely nothing to the story save a lot of irritation and skimmed over pages. But, still, a very good read. The end, especially is hauntingly beautiful, and I had to think up a lot of useless reasons to explain the misty eyes (coz, of course, only sentimental pre-pubescent females cry over books).

Next stop Terry Pratchett, “Hogfather”. Hilarious. Thanks to him, I was able, for once, to enjoy a book from beginning to end and at every nook and cranny in between, without once wondering whether this character seems natural, that scene is necessary, or whether my time is worth it. I understand his style might not appeal to all, but I, for one, am glad it does to me! I’m hooked. (And to those of you on whom the significance of my discovery of Terry Pratchett is not lost, let me reiterate, I may have read it on someone’s suggestion, but I like it without any pre-formed bias clouding my judgment).

So far so good. Wondering where all those fabled terrible works went, at who’s expense I might have been able to provide a few mean laughs? Here they come. My first selections, as it turned out, were merely a case of beginners’ luck (fine, resumers’ luck if you will). My next pick – 2004 Man Booker Prize winner, Alan Holinghurst’s “The Line of Beauty”. I should have known right then, any male author writing about beauty and its linear aspects – shearr gay. While mercifully unaware of the actual orientation of the author, his character’s extreme “gaiety” had me first merely wincing and then absolutely and completely disgusted and finally so out of patience and so completely on the verge of puking that I closed it with a resolute bang and promptly returned it. I hate it when I can’t finish a novel, no matter how bad, but I’m sorry, steamy details of gay orgies is not my idea of “curling up with a good book”. Fine, I grant that there are people with rather different tastes when it comes to sexual orientation, and yeah, I’m sure people have a right to write about them, but the point I want to raise is this – in this day and age, merely choosing a sensational topic transforms a work that is at best mediocre into “revolutionary” literature. The same story told with normal heterosexual characters would have probably had the critics throwing vegetables in various stages of putrefication at the author, because, really, the story is pure shit, at best a stretch of imagination (he falls in love with his gay boyfriend at the first blind date! What are the chances of that?) at worst, absolute drivel. And this most ordinary story won the Booker. I didn’t even get the reference to the title. It was said that Nick’s journey to find beauty would play a prominent role, but I found none, except his discovery of a “beautiful” rich lover. Blah!

Next – the much talked-about, hailed in glory “Brick Lane”, who’s author Monica Ali became an overnight star. The back and inner jacket of the book are filled to bursting point with rave reviews. So I started reading. Then, I realised after two pages that the story was already boring me, and although credible enough, was absolutely redundant and pointless and told in a most – for lack of a better term- weird style, weird voice. Ok, why does the author have to resort to broken English to translate a letter written in Bengali? What sense does it make to say “something has happen. It happen one month past but sometime I think not to tell you” – what the hell? The letter’s supposed to be in Bengali – what’s she trying to say, Bengali=Martian English? And the story – same old dal-chawal fare, parents trying to instill traditional values, children rebelling, been there, done that a million and one boring times. Fine, I give her credit in showing how the woman’s views undergo a change, how though she loves her husband, she silently rebels against some things. But still, hardly any impact. And of course she had to include boring war stuff again. Bah! Try finding a book these days without the shadow of looming catastrophe. I’m sick of it!

Next – Margaret Atwood’s Blind Assasin, Booker winner. Ok I really like her style. Storytelling is unique, the story within the story is unique, the story within the story within the story is extremely well written too. Everything’s fine, no one can doubt her skill. What’s missing then? I don’t know... a sense of relevance maybe... a sense of continuity... most of all normalcy...That’s what I miss most in all the modern day novels I’m reading. Why can’t the characters be normal for once, with normal lives, and the longings and disappointments and laughter and tears of a normal life, emotions we can identify with without having to delve into some dark trenches of our minds.... There’s an underlying note of trying-to-be-too-clever, trying-too-hard... Really, I sometimes so wish someone would write a nice, clean, old-fashioned romance again....Where have all the “normal”s gone? Outsold by freaks, every one.....

Monday, May 28, 2007

I Dare You To Move

Summer afternoons have a dangerous tendency to turn people into amateur philosophers. The mornings you can immerse yourself in world politics and shocking revelations about celebrities (like how Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt fell out over a house, oh my god!). Evenings you can think up something to do – go for a walk or something, attend some retarded parties or get-togethers filled with people you don’t know... but what do you do with yourself from 2 to 5? sleep is probably the most obvious answer, and it should be similarly obvious that after waking up at 10 o’clock which, again, is not exactly the crack of dawn, now is it, try as one might sleep eludes the eyes. A lazy, lazy time...time seems to stretch beyond the limits of credulity. I can think of about a million things I could be doing – reading one of the five books currently pending attention, doing one of glass paintings mom would like so very much to adorn the walls with, get started properly with the math project I’m doing, watch TV (or, rather, bore yourself into a coma or excite yourself into a rage with the shit, the pure shit, that passes for entertainment), call up friends, and oh a million other similarly productive activities. But the fan whirrs lazily above, the curtains billow out in the breeze, the sea shimmers in the afternoon sun far away, and all I do is lie here, lie on my back, staring at the ceiling and out of the window at the blazing blue sky and the tufts of cloud drifting by. I lie here, awake, alert, listening to the sounds all around me, trying to discern the minutest movement, the tiniest squeak, the smallest evidence of life around. The gentle snoring of mom in the next room. The honking of cars in the street below. I live in the nerve-centre of the city where rush is the keyword and having nothing to do when all around you can see people in Brownian motion is a pleasure not to be lightly dismissed. It fascinates me, this torpor, this inability to even stretch my hand and reach for the bottle of water on the table, this complete immobility that I can shake off at a moment’s notice, oh of course I can, only I don’t, I just don’t and let this inertia take over me, conquer me slowly, spread across my veins to reach every nook and corner of my being, such that for a moment I can almost feel my heart stop its beats and succumb to it, my mind shut down and succumb to it.... A crow comes and sits on my windowsill. Don’t ask me why it couldn’t choose some less exalted position – I live on the 13th floor, for god’s sake. An ambitious crow. Interesting. It doesn’t seem to mind my presence much, though. Be my guest, I feel like saying, consider the balcony all yours. Oh, don’t worry, I will – written all over the creature. Bold bastard! Look at it now, inching it’s way into my room! What nerve! Shoo, I want to say, go away! And I can do it, of course, only I don’t... I just keep watching....soon the crow loses interest and shoves off. Good riddance, but dude! My company bored even a crow!!!! I feel vaguely insulted.

The clock tower strikes four. A slow, sonorous sound, not something you readily associate with this crazy city... And that’s when I start wondering about who I am and where I’m heading and I know I’m in for trouble now...philosophy is not after all my forte, I’m going to be an engineer for god’s sake, but these bloody summer afternoons....

Thursday, May 24, 2007

About A Girl

Ok time for a real post.. let me tell you something about myself. I’m a Bong Brahmin 19-year-old duly petted and sheltered for 18 years and exposed to the Big Bad World in the form of college a year back, which again was allowed because it happens to be one of the best technical schools in the country and dad couldn’t relocate there. Now if you look at that introductory sentence again you might realize that every word is loaded. Keywords – Bong Brahmin. Do you know what that means? to find out visit my good friend Saurya Chakraborty’s blog In case you’re too lazy let me tell you what is expected of an average Bong Brahmin girl – two oily plaits, sickening sweetness in voice and tone, intimate knowledge of Rabindra sangeet (or Robindro shongeet, to put it properly), inability to cross streets without holding daddy’s hand, inability to do anything useful under the sun except of course studies and oh did I mention, complete and absolute innocence. No staying out, no partying with friends, no giggling, no flirting (she’s not supposed to even know the meaning of that – and even if she does it’s probably for SAT preps). Your friends are rated in order of academic excellence and any underperforming individual should promptly be chucked out of your group for fear of polluting you with his or her “disability” (oh yeah they’re contagious). And God help you if you’re going out with someone – even if he’s a desirable Bong Brahmin “bhalo chheley”. And if he happens to be anything else ....then, well, even God can’t!

Bah I’ve had enough cribbing about Bong Brahmin upbringing with Saurya and Odie.. I better move on to something more interesting.

Next keyword – 19 year-old-girl. key phrase actually. That, I’ve discovered, is an extremely interesting and useful thing to be.When you enter a campus with youth, Bong eyes and a rather well-appreciated smile... the world’s suddenly your oyster. interesting. very. Dude, the smile takes the place of every other functioning limb, for the sheer bulk of work it gets done! Need help with timetable – smile please! Need free food/ treats – smile please! Need a lift on someone’s bicycle – smile please! that goes on to need to cheat in tuts, need lecture notes, need front-row seats in the audi, need to get someone to do your workshop job, need anything your average Indian guy is capable of delivering – you know what to flash (and no, you pervert, not that, although who am I to challenge the effectiveness of that alternative). Ah the bliss of being on the right side of the 9:1 population ratio!

I think I’ll elaborate on that in my next post. For want of anything better to do or write. Blah. Whatever.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


ah so here I begin my foray into blog-dom. I really don't know what made me start one - probably a linear combination of boredom and keeping-up-with-the-Jones', but since I've started, why bother with the creation myths. I shall think of something more interesting to post by and by, and like all bloggers of my acquaintance will promptly keep the link as my status message the moment I update it. so watch this space!