Life

Apathy

Apathy is a horrible state to be in.

Great music affecting you the same as white noise, becoming something that you process in a corner of your brain without feeling any emotions.

Wonderful works of literature not filling you with that rush, a heady mix of anticipation, thrill and amazement generated by a few scratches on a piece of paper. Instead not even being able to recollect the last word that you read before switching to a new tab. Not feeling it worth the effort to open a book. Feeling nothing reading the Charge of the Rohirrim. Reading trashy novels to blame the book than yourself over not feeling anything.

Avoiding interactions because it makes you feel less. Your life feeling empty and colourless and the sparks and glitters of other lives blinding you and exposing your shortcomings, imagined or not. Talking to people and conversations becoming something that last the duration of the interaction. Promptly forgetting it instead of reminiscing, revelling in or even getting angry about it later. Forgetting, sometimes deliberately and mostly out of reflex to talk to people important to you because you want them to see you at your best.

Being lonely in a crowd with the flip of a switch. Feeling conflicted due to the crowd inside your head telling you too many contrasting things that you end up ignoring instead.

Screwing up your life in different ways and hiding away from the world in a corner of your room. Getting anxious even thinking about trying to fix things because it is sure to go wrong.

Not realizing all this is happening to you till others point it out and then promptly ignoring it.

Apathy is a horrible state to be in

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Bus Karo

Bus rides can be broadly classified into two types: long and short (genius no?). The short ones I love and the long ones I try to avoid like the plague. The short bus rides are for example from the bus stop opposite your house to the grocer two blocks down, or even to the Big Bazaar across town. I like sitting peacefully observing my co-passengeresses, gazing out of the window or reading a book. I also like running after crowded buses, trying to get a foothold on the foot-board and hanging out of the bus in quintessentially Indian fashion.

These short bus rides are of course not everyone’s cup of tea. Hanging on for dear life all the while inhaling the “fragrance” of the salt of the earth and if god forbid it rained, the socks of the earth can sometimes cause even the hardest person to feel the strain. Arguing with the conductor for the change and the driver because he doesn’t stop at your stop as well as alternatively apologising and antagonising your co-passengers for stepping on their foot is one of the traits of a bus ride in Hindustan post Jesus H. Christ. Nonetheless, I enjoy every bit of it.

The bus rides I try to avoid are the long distance ones, the ones across states, countries or continents. A suitable example will be the one that take you from one city full of people sporting backpacks, ID cards and earphones to one in the Naalikerathinte Naadu where you have a house like a Narayanakkilikoodu. Or maybe from one place in the latter to another, sufficiently far apart that the language of one is incomprehensible in the other (that is much closer than you might imagine).

Even the sight of the big bulky bus bounding down the road fills me with trepidation. I remember the countless babies crying their tiny hearts out (at extremely loud volume nonetheless) and the buckets of vomit the trajectories of which miss my face by whiskers. Thank god that I don’t have whiskers! I shed a silent tear thinking about the thousands of beautiful girls that sit in the seat just in front of me while the seats adjacent to me are occupied by people who are carrying enough luggage to last them a lifetime or the inquisitive people who appear to be unable to take their next breath until they know everything about me. I shudder remembering the overturned buses and smashed junks that litter either side of the highway that connects my usual destinations. Cutting the description short, I quake like a jelly and my timbers start shivering.

You would be excused if you conclude that with this great phobia of long distance journeys, I do most of my travelling via train. If you belong to the ilk which believes in planning and foresight, the aforementioned conclusion is almost foregone. There my dear reader, your ignorance of the creature called Damu shines through. Damu, rather I, has(/have respectively) never thought ahead of the day’s breakfast compared to some people who have even thought of the breakfast of the kid they will have in some 10 years. If somebody graded my planning on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being the planning of the grasshopper for winter and 10 being the planning of Rohilettan, I will get somewhere in the region of -10.

I eagerly wait for the day when IRCTC reduces its reservation period from 4 months to 1 day. 4 months! I laugh in their faceless faces at their gross presumption. 4 months! Ha ha. 4 days and you are talking business. 1 and you have got yourself a deal. Till that day, I swallow my fear, harden my nerves and take that shaky step on to the footboard of the Rajahamsa, that humble steed that carries my noble self everywhere.

‘Til Later

Biryani

No, this post is not about biryani – one of the most overrated dishes in my opinion. I find the various spices and all in it disgusting and only eat it if I am left with no other option. In my living memory (I wonder if there is something called dead memory), I have only liked biryani twice. But if I remember right, both times I was starving. Even when I think of biting the clove or cinnamon or cardomom, I gag. Yuck! But then, I am a vegetarian and what the hell do I know.

I am sure at least a few of my Malayalee readers would have seen the movie called One Man Show. And by now, I am sure you must have realised where I am leading to. For the others, no worry, all in good time. The movie has a mad character played by Salim Kumar. In it, he is interned in a lunatic asylum and wreaks havoc with his antics. In one of the best scenes of the movie, he creates a massive charge of his fellow lunatics. When dragged aside and asked what they were doing, he gleefully informs that he told those idiots that free biryani is available near the front gates. Then he is asked why he is running after them and he replies that he is also running because, “engaanum biryani kittiyalo”, which translates to “what if biryani is actually available”.

This wishing for a non-existent or rather improbable biryani, the “what ifs” are a defining part of us. This optimism for the improbable is intrinsic in our psyche and varies only in how far one is optimistic. Even the worst pessimist is an optimist. This optimism is expertly utilised by most advertisements. What if I become fair, what if I lose weight, what if I gain height, what if I get hair back etc etc etc. The entire betting industry revolves around this optimism. Everyone knows that out of a million lottery ticket holders, only one is going to win the bumper prize, yet they imagine themselves to be that person. The higher the odds, the more one feels confident that this is the day. Maybe that is also why four or five lakh odd people write the JEE, the AIEEE or the myriad entrance examinations where the selection percentage is less than one. Hope springs eternal.

How was I reminded of that “class” dialogue? That brings us to point after a long ramble in the neighbourhood of everything but the point. You must have noticed the current prominence of something called Zurker, apparently the creation of the losers of Facebook (bullshit of course, the makers are totally different people). Zurker is a new social network that they claim will revolutionise the entire concept of social networking, the iPhone of social networks if you will. Welcome to the community owned network where every networker is an owner of the network. It is their advertisement strategy that is brilliant, and is the subject of this post.

They promise every networker to get a share of the network when someone he/she recommends join it. The company goes public when a million shares have been distributed. With the IPO of Facebook expected to be of the order of several dozen billions of dollars, even the most pessimistic person is hoping for a share value of a few thousand at least. People are thus optimistically spamming on Facebook (the irony), Twitter, Gmail, blogs and every other possible place they can.

The leprachaun gold at the end of the rainbow is enough for people to tote out essays on why it could not fail and is a guaranteed source of income. Just reach that magic number and enjoy the loot. What could possibly go wrong? You just have to ask Google+, Orkut, MySpace, Friendster and the multitudes of networks that have come and gone with the wind. But if this optimism is changed, I guess we won’t remain humans anymore.

The thrill of the improbable, almost impossible, happening is something which lends magic to our lives, gives us something to look forward to. The underdogs pipping the favourites, the favourites pipping the underdogs expected to pip the favourites and so on. There are a gazillion million possible eventualities and life will be far the worse if robbed of the hope for the one single version that suits us. Life is beautiful as the most hoariest of cliches go.

In related news, you can join Zurker by clicking on this beautiful link. Of course I don’t want to be the one left without the metaphorical biryani though the literal one can go and stuff itself. Or do we stuff ourselves with biryani? God knows.

‘Til Later

PS: This post is an elaborate hoax to make you click that last link and add to my referral count.

PPS: I know that you know but just hoping đŸ˜‰

PPPS: And that is 50 posts! Took a long time. Whatever!

Guess Who Is Back?

Well, that break proved to be unusually refreshing. I am back from that self-imposed exile where you would have found me more difficult to find on the social network than water on moon. This exile was triggered by what many may think to be one of the silliest reasons possible, a game. But when that game turns out to be football, undoubtedly the most popular game on the planet, then it might not be too silly.

To cut a long story short, when my favourite football team, the one to whom I have sworn my allegiance, the one whose fortunes decide my mood of the day and the one who is yet to attend the class Goal Scoring 101 began playing even more horrendously than usual and started going from one nadir to the next, I decided to take a break from everything and come back refreshed. This entailed skipping twitter, where I almost exclusively follow people related to football, all the million blogs which were mirroring my despair, FIFA where I used to play the actual match again and also Facebook just for kicks. And then I realised, I had nothing else to do online.

I curbed my usual habit of opening a hundred tabs and roving from one tab to another, everything related to football. Sometimes out of sheer force of habit, I would open a few of football related sites, but then remembering, I would close my eyes and quickly close the tab, punch myself in the face, dip my hands in boiling oil and walk on fire, or mostly only the first. I went on a pilgrimage, meditated on the futility of it all and understood some fundamental truths about life. That the pilgrimage was part of a trip to Delhi and was not a conscious choice but rather a choice of the parents is another matter altogether.

3 weeks of that self-imposed exile and I found out that I had more time than I even knew. The serendipitous benefit of the exile was my reading. Books, which I used to leave for the rainy day, the offseason when there was no football, the time when I was free from doing my million other responsibilities were quickly finished. I am glad to say I read many fine books. I also discovered the rather humbling fact that if I read a book a day, I would not finish even the classics in my lifetime. I am now exploring authors who are talked about with reverence, the people who shaped the literature of their times, the literary giants on whose shoulders stood many a Chetan Bhagat and achieved bestsellerdom. Though even these giants might have been the Chetan Bhagats of their times, upcoming novices mentioned sometimes as an afterthought.

I broke my exile today on learning that Liverpool (the team that I follow that is) won a match. Was I relieved on coming back into the folds of “society”. Not too much. It is still bickering, sharing weird photos to get “likes”, refreshing a page to see if the like count increased, trying to be witty or pondering on the perils of playing a deep-lying playmaker. I discovered that the exile was not so much of a trouble, rather I enjoyed immensely the time I had. Maybe I am just an ordinary anti-social being, a sociopath if you will. The anti-library (a library containing the unread books) is more than 99.999% full.

Of course, the football bug, once caught is not easily cured, and once my team goes back to its winning ways (if there ever was one), I am sure I will get hooked on again and cry and delight with my fellow fans. But this promise I solemnly make, that unnecessary worry I will not take. After all it is only a game.

The Last Hurrah?

According to Wikipedia, I was a graduand till a few days back. Who are they to judge, you might ask. The fact that you ask that question implies that you have been living in a hole for the last few years. Welcome back Rip Van Winkle, we now have colour televisions and internet. Wikipedia is the new bible. Where was I? Ah, graduand. An eminently Commonwealth word, it refers to a student who has “completed” his graduation but has not yet graduated with a formal ceremony. And the university solved that problem with a convocation (or convo as we cool people call it) ceremony on the 20th of January.

With most of our class being in Bangalore itself, there were many of us in the train that took us to the alma mater. A fun journey as all train journeys are, we reached the ‘city’ of Kozhikode on the morning of the convo. Some noobs had turned up the previous day itself as the official website had told us to be present there for some rehearsal and registration. But our mole in the college had told us that it was all bullshit, so we sauntered in on the relevant day only.

The necessary registration and collection of gowns/robes was done. The dress had a caution deposit of Rs 1500/-(one thousand five hundred only). Shocking. It is not as if we are silly immature people who can’t be trusted to tie our own shoelaces. Oh wait, we are. Then we proceeded to our… oops erstwhile (*sniff**sniff*) hostels to dump the bag. Some people had to carry out their daily routines while the rest of us less disciplined folks waited for them. Then we were all ready for breakfast.

But waiting for one of our flock stuck in Bombay resulted in our delay in going to that hallowed thattukada, our haunt for three years, the place which fed us and kept us out of shape during our college days, that abode of the master of tea-making Vasuettan and the excellent Chechi. Words fail most of us while waxing lyrical about the food there. Some people have stopped drinking tea anywhere else after tasting a sip from Chechi’s, fearing losing that divine taste from the tongue. The person with the best vocabulary of “nice words” in our group slung poetical rhyming swear words at the delayer for delaying us and we ran there fearing that all was lost.

Our fears were almost realised and we had to make do with the second best options available but the divine tea was there to compensate. Feeling very sated and at peace with the world, all at the cost of 20 rupees, smiling benignly at all and sundry, we then proceeded to meet the favourite teacher(s). A lot of fun was had at the expense of some people who give lifts to girls on bikes as well as some people who go to gym when some people are rumoured to come to Bangalore. But alas I can reveal no names.

The convo was scheduled to begin at 3:30 in the afternoon(duh!) and after quick showers and a lot of time deducing how to wear the robes, we went to the Audi. There we learned that the robes have been wrongly worn and after long duels and almost endless namecalling, we finally decided to wear it just as it is. And then I entered the audi.

And then I entered my mistake. The chief guest coming from Saddi Dilli had his flight delayed as a result of the awesome fogs due to the awesome climate in awesome Delhi and it was no fault of the Delhi which is the awesomest place that I know of. But I digress. The nub of the matter is that he was late and some of us were left stuck in the hall with no entertainment other than sitting and twiddling my thumbs while watching grass grow and paint dry. You might wonder why I did not take my awesome iPod but then you were not aware of the stupid rule that no cameras and stuff were aloud. Then you will argue that the 0.3 megapixel camera in the iPod does not qualify as a camera and then I will grab your throat for blaspheming about an iDevice for I am an Apple fanboy. But again I digress.

The ceremony finally began two hours late with loud trumpets and the academic procession entered the halls with great fanfare. The next thing I remember was people going on the stage to collect their certificates. The speeches were said to be excruciatingly boring and infinitely long. My name was finally called and I went on stage all humble and bowing and promptly lost my hat. But being the resourceful person that I am, I converted that mishap into a curtsey and got my photo snapped without further problems. The degree told me that I got through with a First Class with Distinction, talk about awesomeness, which gathering from the expressions on people’s face when I tell them my marks, I would hardly have considered possible let alone probable.

The fact that we were stuck in the hall for around 5 hours left us ravenously hungry and the juniors were blessed from the bottom of our hearts when they provided us refreshments. Then I ran around making hasty farewells and searching for the friend who had promised a ride home (his not mine). The aforementioned friend having been found out, gathered Yours Truly and the one who got mocked for the bike incident and took us to his home. And the convo trip that most of us had been waiting for ended.

A huge thank you for all the friends and teachers who enabled me to stumble through four years of college with a degree in hand to show for it. And I am now a graduate, fellow homo sapiens. A graduate from a not too shabby university in India. Bring on the world now. I will shove that degree in their face. Or burn it along with the rest of the stuff when the world ends in 2012. Whatever…

‘Til Later

42

“Rhino- check”

“Duck-billed platypus- check”

“Clown fish- check”, God counted in a very satisfied voice. Heaven was a very busy place at the moment as all the holy ones had gotten together to look at God’s latest  craze- a Lego collection to rival Satan. He even had breathed life into his models and the things were looking quite impressive. “What say you, my dear fellow? Unable to eat anything because you still can’t digest that my collection is better than yours?” asked God. “Not bad, considering that you spent the better part of the last 7 years since I threw my Lego collection party trying to make your own”. “7 years! No man, I have been doing this only for the last 7 days. In fact most of the things were made within a day”

And that my dear friends is how exaggeration was born.

Exaggeration- what a beautiful word, what a beautiful idea. I would not be exaggerating if I said that this is one activity, nay art that I am a champion at. Being a champion of this art as well as this cause, it is my honour-bound duty to instruct those less able than me on this. As I said, exaggeration is not something that everyone is good at. It requires careful planning and innovation. Keeping that poker-face while making that outlandish claim is not simple. Even inventing those outlandish claims is very difficult. There are several unwritten rules which will help you get away with exaggeration. Here you are. Read and study.

Rule Number 1

Multiply by n rule. If arbitrarily increasing a count introduces a twist in the tale in your favour, that count should be multiplied by n (which is usually 10). So the next time you tell about your marks or the number of goals in Legendary mode against Barcelona with Sheffield United, just add that extra zero and enjoy the zing in your tale.

Rule Number 2

Divide by n rule. If arbitrarily decreasing a count introduces a twist in the tale in your favour, that count should be divided by n. God is one of the eminent people to have perfected the use of this rule. Note: This rule is particularly effective when combined with rule number 1.

The above two rules were actually discovered in Ancient Greece while trying to encourage the Greek soldiers waiting for Xerxes army. 3000 Spartans suddenly became 300 and 5000 Persians suddenly became 50000.

Rule Number 3

Eyewitness rule. You always witness everything worth witnessing. The Counter Strike match which lasted 10 days or the athlete next door doing 150 push ups using his pinkie finger were all in your presence. Always.

Rule Number 4

No names rule. As long as you don’t name names, you can’t be caught exaggerating. Pronouns were invented exactly for this reason. And people reciprocate when they know they have not been compromised. So it is always “You should have seen HIM eat. At least 30 Idlis!” And “HE” will be more than glad to say something nice about you too.

Rule Number 5

Swear on the name of every family member possible. A fine example would be “I swear by the last fur on the tail of my Great great grandfather’s favourite labrador that whatever I said happened.”

The above five rules should enable you to invent exaggerations. But the following rule is the most important one when it comes to getting away with it.

Rule Number 6

Quote the Author rule. Quote Shakespeare or Bernard Shaw.  Or better Leo Tolstoy. No one reads those authors. While making claims, follow it up with a quote from one of the above mentioned authors.

“He was so angry that he beat up at least 10 people single-handedly. Like Tolstoy said in War and Peace, anger is the greatest friend you have. It can render you power to defeat even your greatest enemy.”

Rule Number 7

This is the most important rule of all. Pray to Damu. Remember his wisdom. Think about all his greatest attempts. Get inspired by his exaggerations. Read his books on exaggeration. Whenever you feel doubtful, remember the golden rule that Damu knows everything. A good book to start with will be “100001 great exaggerations by Damu” ghost written by Damu.

The most important two rules are 6 and 7 and you will quickly notice that their product is 42. What? You don’t know what is special about 42? Just google “the answer to life the universe and everything”  and enjoy the beauty. Yes, the magic number strikes again. And yes this is my 42nd post since I joined the blogosphere around 2 years ago. That it took me so long to reach this holy number is as much a testament to my laziness as the chronic uncreativity that is present in me.

But there you are. For every creative, zestful, enthusiastic fool, you need a Damu to maintain the precarious balance of life. If you are reading this, thank you for persisting with such a lazy devil in the hope that he will come good. Hoping for many more blogs…

‘Til Later