Saturday, October 26, 2013

The solitary reader

It is a little late in the night. I am in a city where night sable Goddess no longer reigns from her Ebon throne in rayless majesty[1] and has been robbed of all her ancient insignia - the drone of the cicada, the flickering of the stars, the uncomfortable silence of the looming trees and above all the thrilling palpitation of walking into the unknown that she so gracefully doles out in the country. The only solace as I ride on oblivious to the charms of this impostor night that tenants this city is the reassuring thump of my Bullet. Serene she glides along bearing me like a raindrop afloat a cloud.

At the back of my head is the question of food. An activity, that in my opinion has long been an unpleasant act of sustenance. Would I but sustain life by drinking in the sunlight as the birds do! Would I but sustain life by gathering dewdrops on a summer dawn! Would I but sustain life by suckling rain clouds! But such blessing is not mine in this birth. Therefore, I must eat, because hunger reigns over my body as much as madness does over my soul.

So, the thump stops. And I enter a brightly lit restaurant. Another mockery of night's fallen leaden sceptre. A choice is made, commerce transacted and a seat chosen. People all around me, in throngs like moths drawn to light. The idle chatter of the mundane drowns out the throbbing silent of the unpleasant. Once in a while a gruff voice or an irritating cackle exposes the filth underneath. But all in all, like our own precious homes, the world is a place with clean exteriors and rotting interiors.

I sit down and start to read. Nay! I sit down and fly away. Sometimes it is on the thin crumpled wings of musty yellow paper. Sometimes it is on the downy luxurious wings of fresh paperback. Sometimes it is on the twinkling translucent wing of my tablet or mobile phone. But it is always a flight.

A flight into the nebulous world of Fionn and the wisest of poets Finnegas where you sit by a river waiting for a poem; or into the torrid dreams of Ruskin Bond where he writhes around with his sensuous Indian princess; or into the tenuous maze of Basho's Haiku, tender strands of gossamer poetry that a spider might weave; or into the fervid garden of Dorian Gray's painter friend where laburnums burn on tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs[2]; or into the world of Vedic myth where Gods and Demons confound good and bad in subtle nets of hypocritical stratagems; or into the alluring rain soaked rivers of Tagore where sorrow matures into silence and life fruits to death. Away you fly, flit and escape the monotonous vagaries of life.

For a book, a tale, a poem is a cocoon that protects you from the infectious stream of commonplace thought that permeates the very atmosphere we live in. Alone in a crowd, with a book, you are a knight in shining armour battling forces of evil ennui. Alone in a crowd, with a book, you are a Zen monk, resting your trembling mind on a lotus leaf. Alone in a crowd, with a book, you are a Bullet rider who glides where others flit and swerve.

Alone in a crowd, with a book,you are a solitary reap(d)er, reaping silvery herbs of immortality beneath a blooming full moon while the rest of the world suffers in the glare of neon lights. 

[1] - Night thoughts, Edward Young
[2] - Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

Image courtesy: Deviant art

Monday, October 14, 2013


WARNING: Offensive and explicit content ahead. When I say offensive I don't mean this will unintentionally hurt your feelings. This will unintentionally hurt you as much as a guided missile from the U.S. would hurt a Syrian civilian settlement. Or a racial insult from an Australian would hurt an Indian. (Or vice versa if said humans are cricketers with near simian intelligence) Or how the previous statement would insult simians all around the globe. This post will intentionally knee you in your balls, give you a wedgie while you keel over and then post the video of the whole incident on YouTube. So, read at your own risk and don't bother complaining. (Now that warning's got you trapped nice and clean didn't it?)

Any kiddie in school can love like a fool. But hating, my boy, is an art. - Ogden Nash.

On the subject of cursing very little has been said. While some may argue that a lot has been said, looking at how much cursing gets done these days, the fact is, little has been said on the subject itself. Think of it. How many articles do you read on a daily basis that teach you new curse words or tell you the appropriate curse words for a situation? If you answered more than one, you probably have a mental problem, you bastard!

Which brings me to the subject of this essay. My favourite curse word. How I wish schools included topics like these instead of those boring my favourite festival (everybody's was Diwali) or my favourite season. (everybody's was monsoon) My favourite curse word, my favourite murder modus operandi, my favourite torture technique... what delightful flights of fancies could have emerged from the budding imagination of innocent youth with topics like these! But I digress.

My favourite curse word, for the moment and for a while now has been bastard. Observe how it begins with an angry plosive consonant that explodes from your throat and then follows that up with a slithering 's', before again throwing another explosion in your face! This word was designed to hurt.

I always had problems with many other curse words. Motherfucker (or any other fucker, sheep included) sounds too crude and you will, I am sure agree with me when I say that any word with a fuck attached to it is just met with nonchalance nowadays. Honestly, who gives a fuck? Arsehole sounds like something a pompous British beggar would call you if refuse him a penny. Humiliating yes, but not venomous. Cocksucker, faggot, pussy, etc., do not make the cut either. They all sound so pass'e.

But bastard, now that's a curse to use on someone. Because you see, the primary purpose of a curse is not to vent your anger, but to elicit a reaction. If you just wanted to vent your anger, you could bloody well just punch the wall, now right? But you don't want that. You want to get down and dirty. You want it primeval, medieval, primordial or something like that. Really ancient, that is the point. Clubs, stones, animal skins, grunts, blood and gore.

And to do that the only thing that would work is bastard. Especially in India. Why? Let me explain. Bastard, as any decent 3rd grader these days knows (if yours does not, you should possibly follow up on him/her. How else are they going to find a healthy way to vent out all their frustrations from FIITJEE, swimming, singing, dancing and abacus classes? Murder you in your sleep?) means a child born out of wedlock. That sounds totally romantic to me. You are a boy/girl born out of wedlock and eighteen years later you find your father is the king of the neighbouring country. You embark on a journey to unite with him and claim the throne. Halfway through, you trip over a stone, awaken from your acid trip and die slitting your wrists in depression.

But no, that is not the notion entertained here in this country. In this country, the word connotes a stain on your mother's character. It paints her as a woman of questionable morals, a lady of the night, a woman of pleasure, a wanton wench. (which still appeals to me as a romantic idea, if you can add the right mix of Burton, Wilde and Poe.) And that is supreme offence in India, where the air is so thick with mother sentiment that you can slice it with a knife, tetrapack it and sell it as dehydrated mother's milk.

So you call someone a bastard, that is the Royal British equivalent of removing your glove and slapping him/her in the face challenging them to a duel, only in this case, you first scratched your crotch with the glove on before slapping. The reactions that might ensue can range anywhere from fist fights to gory combat with melee weapons.

Yes, of course, there is always the chance that you might get hurt, amputated or murdered. Perhaps you might get murdered in your after-birth as well. But those are trivial objections to a man with a dauntless heart and a brainless skull. Come what may, call someone a bastard when you are angry and like the Bride, you too shall roar, rampage and get bloody satisfaction.

For women, I prefer the other B. Bitch. I have always been a gentleman (hiding a brute underneath of course. Deep down, we are all cavemen anyway, cause caves are you know, deep.) and I intend to extend courtesy to the gentler sex. So bitch it is, a brief explosive draw of the sword followed by a swift stroke to decapitate the target. Quick, merciful and yet painful enough. And rest assured, this word too will elicit a desirable response. No woman wants to be compared to an animal species with a few exceptions made in the case of cervids and felines. In this case, while the reaction might not be violently satisfying as the other B word, you can expect slaps, flying slippers and perhaps a mixture of both. If you are really lucky, you can expect a full-fledged physical assault with possible injuries to both parties, with you shouldering the bulk of the injuries (thanks to her irate boyfriend or husband joining the fight and ending it prematurely and unfairly, when all he needed to do was keep her on the leash!), but hey, that is what gentlemen do.

So there you go, those are my B and B's. My favourite curse words. My pick of the lot from the verbal gutter that flows down our guttural cords.

So, what is your favourite curse word bastards and bitches?

P.S. Many reasons have been provided to explain why this curse word is my favourite. But the true reason is, 3:20 to 3:32 of this movie clip.

Gravity - A must watch

I went to see Gravity in the blackest of moods. A continued illness followed by a day that did not go to plan combined with an ill-timed nap made me as foul as Sweeney Todd when he found out Mrs.Lovett's treachery. A couple of hours later, I returned, a transformed man. A man much humbled, made to feel completely insignificant and yet blessed.

The film's story is just a one-liner - astronaut gets caught in space debris and separated from her space shuttle makes it back to earth. As simple as that.
*Spoiler end*

No twists. (So that spoiler alert's pretty useless.) No turns. Nothing else apart from that one line to be talked about at all as a plot.

But who needs an elaborate plot, when you have the best tool in film-making ever known to humankind - screenplay. From the very first short, Alfonso Cuaron (the man who made the best and possibly the only good Harry Potter movie till date - Prisoner of Azkaban), casts a wizard's spell over his audience that will not fade a long time after they exit the movie hall. Mere events, one following another with sparse dialogue sprinkled here and there keep your eyes glued to the screen.

Mere events indeed. But how they come to transpire. Like flies trapped in a bell jar, we see our own projected selves hovering in the emptiness of space and the even more dreadful emptiness of time clutching at straws to survive. One minute you push yourself back at your seat trying hard to evade debris from the Russian space station. Next minute you are at the edge of the seat trying to thrust yourself at the Chinese space station. Here at last, after a long time, ladies and gentlemen is a movie that truly makes use of the 3-D medium unlike those rubbish factory made super-hero trash that we've been fed in recent times. Here at last, I daresay is the successor to 2001 A Space Odyssey in sheer visual power.

While the visuals do stun you, they would fall flat if the acting does not measure up. Here, I feel Clooney stands shoulders above all. (there are very few people in the 'all', I know) We barely get to see his face, but the actor shows he can still charm the pants off anybody with just his voice. Too bad we never get to hear the ending to his rather interestingly set up Mardi Gras story. Sandra Bullock delivers just about perfect. She has now officially proven that marvellous acting can be produced by just breathing. The dialogue as mentioned above is spartan and very effective.

While not as great as The Odyssey's score, the movie's music stays true to purpose. If not anything else, it definitely gets your heart racing and pulse quickening at the right moments.

Well, that's about how much I can analyse this movie. Cause words only go a certain distance. Here we are, ants on an anthill going about our tiny lives with our insignificant worries and cares, while just above our heads lies not a world, but a universe to explore. And exploring we are, like a curious child stretching out his arms to cross over the threshold of his playpen.

This film, my friends is a homage to all those intrepid souls who sit on the childlike fingers of humanity and seek forth. Not because we must. Not because we have to. But because we want to. Because we can.

P.S. In the film, Kowlasky (Clooney) gives a bit of advice. 'You are low on Oxygen. Sip not gulp. Wine not beer.' That applies to the movie itself. Sip it and savour it.

P.P.S. After you have watched Gravity and got your spirits up, go watch Children of men by the same director so that you can harbour delicious dark suicidal thoughts! :-) He is good, this Alfonso.