Sunday, August 23, 2009

XKCD and Dos Equis, or why I suddenly feel like posting

Recently, on XKCD:

Elsewhere, The Most Interesting Man in the World (!!)

Previously, on Slate:-)

Making. Things. Up. Down. Yes. No. Maybe.

Cast, Crew and others:
Z and her wonderful house;
D, Z's very incredible but extremely crazy mother;
N, who might not become more than a friend.


The vague outlines of the plan began brewing in my mind earlier in the day. To bring it into fruition would require a rainless evening and clear skies. At least. While rare in their simultaneous occurrence - even more so now when the full force of the monsoon is upon us - they were not the only factors.

“What are you doing this evening? If you're up for it, come over, and we can sit on Z's roof... howl at the moon.” I'd asked N as we were all dispersing, hoping to be out of earshot from the others. “I'm going for dinner with these neighbours/house-guests, and not sure when we'll return. I'll message you, OK?”, she smiled back.

We've never really talked on the phone, except when about work, or if something has to be coordinated. In fact, I don't think I have the “Hi!! I felt like chatting, so just called!” with anyone any more. :-|


It was much after 10, and we had been sitting – chatting, catching up – perched, almost, in one of my favourite spaces of that wonderful house. N had looked at her phone a couple of times already, the preparation and winding down necessary for the coming work-day probably on her mind. Noticing these glances, I realized I'd delayed too much – this evening, and in general – to bring it up, to ask.


Just a few hours earlier, I'd been on the other side of the parapet, pushing, but not too hard, against the small door, hoping to overcome the wood's seasonal swelling. The foray, apart from being preparation for the evening's plan, was many things: part curious exploration, part a childlike-revisiting of previously discovered places and features.

There had been bit of glee too, at the unrestrained freedom afforded by an empty house, and consequently, awareness as well, of how fleeting, strange, and rare these circumstances are. Despite the appreciation and gratitude - a debt that I can never repay - of having learned, experienced and gained so much in this house and its vicinity, I've always felt restrained in the company of its occupants. Z, a precious friend, like an elder sister, and, at times, a confidante, is quite private, organized and very proper. Many delicate negotiations (,/with) un-enunciated expectations and precarious balancing acts have been required to keep relations on the rails. Given the sensitivity of these matters, for N and me to have been able to discuss these things – apprehensions, misgivings, initial impressions and gut feelings, gentle, affectionate jokes on uncovering others' quirks – has been rare, comforting.


The last time N and me had sat on that roof was early this year, on a clear, cold January night. The ladder, of thick, aromatic and expensive wood, noticeable in a country where bamboo – tough, (and in the words of my neighbours and colleagues) “cheap and best” – is ever-present, led us eight rungs up to it. Z was South for the winter, and had requested me, very generously, to house-sit on the weekends. Those days, for that seems like a prior stage in my life now, I would organize my backpack, and reach the village on Friday evenings, leaving early on Monday, to reach work by 9.30.

Like that last time, D had someone staying for the weekend in her upstairs guest room. D's house, two small gardens and hedges, and one thin river stone path across from us, was silent, but not dark. The lights were on, and despite being subdued by an ageing, yellowed lampshade made of handmade paper, we could see. Silently witnessing someone else worried me: was it possible, on this silvery and silent night, for us to be seen as well? At some level, this rendezvous with N on the roof seemed quite clandestine.

Nothing happened, of course, on the roof or off it (I think back now - what was supposed to?), but the feeling reminded me of how my life in this village is composed of many delicate and precarious balancing acts.


We had been spotted in town a couple of months ago by one of my colleagues, when N and me were meeting one afternoon, for chores, shopping, and lunch. “Who is she?”, he teasingly asked me a few days later. “It's easy to tell, you know”, he continued, “guys look straight ahead, and don't notice anyone or anything else, not even their friends.”


Afraid of letting it slip through my fingers again, with wavering courage, and suddenly remembering how I'd wanted to phrase it, I finally blurted it out. “Earlier today, during the assessment I was conducting, you'd said, 'be gentle and don't force things.' This struck me... and reminded me of something from a long time ago. I'd asked if you were single...”

It's strange, but there are very few snatches of conversation from that evening that I remember in detail. Up till then, we'd been talking about a ton of stuff – probably about recent events, things we'd read or stumbled across on the Internet, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, common friends, their proclivities and their mysterious/unexplainable tendencies... Most of that has since slipped from, or isn't immediately available, to my mind. Just three memories remain: discussing the various shapes, phases, faces and impressions of the Moon, how she seemed like she was glowing in the moonlight, and, thinking about it now, what seems more and more like a very gentle “no”...


Friday, January 23, 2009

(Half an hour ago)

Sitting at a roadside shack near the Lake, too tired and weary to make breakfast and do the resulting dishes, I'm starting my day at 10.30am, with a bun-omelette combination and chai. It's cloudy but not cold, and somehow, the fragrances are sharp.

Three locals - ragpickers and waste collectors - are sitting on the inclide/hillside a few feet away. I chatted with one of them some weeks ago about the weather and he told of the beautiful langurs who visit our area when there's snow in the mountains/forests beyond us.

Since then, we exchange smiles and perfunctory greeting, like amicable residents of the same village.

Suddenly I smell it... and notice the thing in his friend's hand. A bong! Hash, at 10am!

They see me begin a grin, and he smiles hugely, strangely and mildly guilty, very happy, and generally glad. Maybe this is the secret behind the craggy, toothy/toothless smiles I've been getting :-)

Back at my place, I suddenly notice the smell again. Maybe it's in my clothes. Or just in my nose. Or, maybe, just in my mind...

Sunday, April 15, 2007


So, while sitting around, minding my own business (i.e. a program displaying open comics, other windows containing pdf's waiting to be read), I was hit with the latest jewel in urban information awareness.
"Go visit - I saw it written on the back of an auto-rickshaw."
Some browsing later, I realized there wasn't much to be found in the steaming piles of database generated hippopotamus excreta, apart from Stephen King, Erle Stanley Gardner, Carolyn Keene, R. L. Stine, Sidney Sheldon. That, of course, was until I came across a jewel: "Pavitra Papi (Punjabi)."

Hmm... Apart from this sounding like "OOF! I stepped out of the bus terminal, and there was this guy selling brightly coloured/covered booklets of porn stories :-( ", it took me more than a couple of seconds to clear the confusion this book's title caused.

"Then, it hit me."

Juggle three languages, their pure, vernacular and slang, and you'll realize 'papi' - which in hindi/punjabi connotes 'sinner' implies something very different, as per the wisdom dispensed at urbandictionary...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Up... and Down..."

I found myself smiling yesterday... Curious, if only due to the following comment during a recent encounter on google:
BigP: hi, what's up

: mmm... trying to write an abstract...
trying to write matlab just fooling around
what's up with you? big weekend ahead?

BigP: ya tom is iron maiden... my first international band show
me: mine was... sting, i think, and oh, that really sucked.
i don't know if it'll work out. the demand : abstract by the end of the month :-(

BigP: i hope they get iron maiden right
me: want to write on one of these themes
BigP: sounds serious
me: hehe. yeah, i wonder if i am... :-( :'-(
oof. nowadays, it's as if every smiley i want to write/type is a tearie ... wtf.

BigP: hahahhahaa. i am hearing "tearie" for the first time
Back to our story, of course, asides aside...

It had probably been something between ten months and a year since our paths had crossed. "Long lost" acquaintances, stumbling into each other maybe last February, at a nearby coffee shop. Having coordinated to intercept each other in the neighbourhood market (and proceed to the university thereupon), the plan was to search for students, for a promo/photoshoot, a gig that Play had snagged.

During the journey back - one which I hadn't imagined would be conducted by car (I hadn't really given much thought to what to imagine, actually...), the conversation turned away from the missed connections experienced during the previous half hour, and to the condition of traffic on the Outer Ring Road. (ha.)
me: What's your strategy for staying sane during these commutes? The unending barrage of traffic sounds - autos that emit phatphatiya vibrations, motorcycles (their silencers missing) pretending to be Harley-Davidsons (but actually becoming just Hardly-Davidsons), and the rolling thunder of buses - just makes my brain want to go into hibernate :-(

Play: I've gotten used to it all, actually. Work involves so much travel that I nearly do everything in the car now... I've had this car for eight years now...

That was when (or so I'd like to believe) the realization hit me - about why I'd found myself smiling. The car was a Maruti 800. Favoured steed of the 80's, the first car for many of my friends' parents, and of friends - loved and/or lost - when they turned 18 (or responsible.)

In that instant also came another understanding. Of why (for me) these memories of careening around in Maruti 800's have such a gloriousness as well as a warm absurdity attached to them - a sort of liberatory 'anything can happen', with endless "tu bas aaja, phir hum chalte hain."

It's in large parts due to the suspension of these cars :-)

All we do in them is bounce up, down, and around...

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Sometimes, these days, I see myself... I'm hanging...

Friday, December 08, 2006


This clip is from 'Volver'. (It's too bad that using Youtube results in the imagery's vividness being lost :-( Go here, for the original rip/extract. View via VLC)

Friday, December 01, 2006


As I sat, head down, eyes on some text, not glancing at the screen, extracting a passage and making notes, something happened. A song by the Blue Man Group, randomly queued, had been playing. When this section was reached, the music stopped being in the background, and a frightening thought resulted.

That if it was me who walked in through the door at that moment, on to me - as twin, dream, ghost, or out of body experience - I would've been reminded (by this scene of someone attempting the projection of a furious focus into an arcane footnote of an extremely obscure book)... of (the image of) (a) Jack Torrance, hard at work...