December 05, 2009

A Little Death

I walk a little
With my little walker
Around my little bed

In a little ward
In a little hospital
In a little town

I am little number
I am a little old
I suffer from a little forgetfulness
I guess they forgot too

I gasp a little
They wait a little
Everything seems a little strange
Everything seems a little unreal

I die and then they go
I hope they died a little too

September 20, 2009

The Ugly Duck

A modern version of The Ugly Duckling. People curse in it. This was one of my favorite childhood stories ever.

Come on children, take your seats, said Mrs. Swan Head. Today's class is on how to introduce a very slight sashay and twirl in your steps as you glide. Only a few weeks now for graduation, so always remember that these are lessons you will need lifelong. Pay very close attention... YES Marcus, what is it NOW?

Marcus the Ugliest, a.k.a Mugface, rolled his eyes, and scratched his balls sorrowfully. He was an unpleasant duckling with bushy eyebrows and a perpetual bored-as-fuck expression. May I please be excused Mrs. Head? I feel a big, fat fart comin' on this very instant and I think my ass might explode from the pressure.

All the ducklings burst out quacking. Mrs. Swan Head rolled her eyes. She enjoyed a good joke but Mugface was so very lame that it was annoying. After all, this stupid job teaching ugly duckling wanna-be-swan débutantes didn't pay enough. No, actually Marcus, please stay, she said. This is a perfect time to teach the class how to control farts, or if completely unavoidable, how to fart without sound. It was supposed to be tomorrow's lesson but that's okay. I want you all to take this down. Wait for just a minute please, will you, Marcus?

  1. Hold it in as much as you can. Distract yourself by humming or thinking of Enrique Iglesias and his extra-small dick. If you can succeed till you manage to politely get out of hearing range, excellent. This is the mark of a blue-blooded swan. However, most swans do not achieve this, so proceed to step 2. (Marcus, kindly stop moaning and rolling like a pregnant pigeon. It's very unbecoming of a final year student, also highly disturbing.)

  2. The essence of farting silently is to take it slow.. just let it go smoothly, smoothly without putting too much effort. A noiseless fart is easy but requires practice. Clenching your fists helps, as does clenching your butt muscles. (Marcus, clench your butt muscles. Clench. Good. Observe him, class. And no, you are NOT going into labor here, Marcus)

  3. As you all probably don't know, being coarse and common little bitches, a very essential part of the process is getting the timing right. I mean the interval between letting out a quiet fart and accusing the uncoolest person in the group. It is a well-known fact that the farter never gets the smell (some kind of innate protective mechanism, I presume), and always blurts out “Yuck, Vicky let out a nasty stinkie” waaayy before anyone else even gets a whiff. This will make you look sneaky so at all costs, get the timing right. Exactly 8.5 seconds for the aroma to diffuse through your underwear, your pants and sail upwards to assail unsuspecting nostrils. 8.5 seconds. Count in your head. (Marcus you little pussy, be a drake. Be a drake.)

  4. This next part is the trickiest but crucial. Sniff the air gently. Stop in your tracks, or whatever else you're doing and in the most disdainful voice you can muster, say, Oh dear goodness, whatever IS that terrible smell? Don't ever, ever use the word “fart” because that would mean you are actually thinking instead of blindly reacting. (MARCUS, STOP putting your finger up there!)

  5. Once the other people do the usual “I think Andrea or Vicky farted. Or it could be Chuck”, casually say, “I'm pretty sure it was Vicky.” Don't add anything more. Appearing too eager can also seem suspicious. (Victoria, just sit down please. You are too nerdy to not be aware of the fact that you are extremely uncool and also very pissy.)

  6. Finally, change the subject. You can either do it dramatically like, “Look, I gotta go do homework” or gently, like “Guys, let's not make Victoria uncomfortable. Poor girl. Let's drop it and talk about the something else”. The second way will make you, of course, a well-bred swan while the first will just make you more like Victoria.” (Stop sobbing loudly Victoria, it's rude.)
Okay, children. Do you have all that in your notebooks? Now for the practical part. Marcus, I will guide you through the steps and I want the class to ...


The fart alarm went off and the room was covered instantly in a dense brown fume.
Oh dear goodness, whatever IS that terrible smell?, asked Marcus delicately.
As oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and the ducklings stampeded each other to get out, Mrs. Swan Head could be heard telling Mugface about his two week detention cleaning out the toilets.

It was two days later. School fuckin' sucks man, grumbled Mugface. He dragged on the joint and exhaled slowly, making rings in the air.
It's okay Mugsy. We all know Mrs. Head is a, you know, hmmm, cocaine prostitute. Just think about graduation, and being a swan. Finally being able to soar through the skies looking majestic and absolutely fly, said Victoria looking into her boyfriend's red, red eyes.
Fuck you Vicky. Don't you know we're never gonna be swans? It's just a stupid fantasy your parents tell you so you stay in school.
Oh but I love school. And of course we'll become swans. When I become a swan I won't need these braces. Or these glasses. At least that's what Andrea says.
Oh man, screw Andrea. Have you ever seen a swan? Except high up above? Ever seen a swan come back as alumni or something and give us pompous talks? Never. Because they never were pug-ugly overly-educated ducklings to start with. Fuck this system man. I think I'll drop out and sell birdseed.
Now just you listen to me Marcus the Ugliest, you will do nothing of the sort. You are going to graduate and you are going to be the handsomest swan in the whole of Pondside. Don't you go thinking otherwise. Then we'll get married and have lots of really ugly ducklings and.. and.. all that... She stopped uncertainly.
See how absurd it is, Vicky? How can swans have duckling babies? It's just a stupid fairy tale.
I still believe it, said Victoria pissily. I will be a swan, and what's more, without short sight or crooked teeth!
Whatever, said Mugface. He took three large hits in rapid succession, laughed like a maniac, and passed out.

Graduation Day finally arrived. One by one the ugly ducklings received their diploma, made boring speeches and were conducted to The Metamorphosis Zone. It was a long passageway cut into the side of a hill and any duckling entering was supposed to come out a swan at the other end and fly away to seek fame and honor. No one actually knew anyone who had returned, but it was a sacred ritual and nobody doubted it's validity. Except Marcus. Eaten by fuckin' wolves or some shit, I shouldn't wonder, he muttered darkly as he watched his friends go one by one. He was bottom of his class so he had to go second-last. Victoria went first, with much honor and many bows, having come first in class.

All right then, whatever. Screw you all. If I become a swan I'll come back and make fun of your ugly faces. Or not. See ya, said Marcus in his brief but clear speech and sauntered to the Entrance.

After a long walk, it started to get really hot. His feathers started to fall. He felt very, very scared in that dark place but he kept going. All his feathers were gone by now. Oh my God, I'm really becoming a swan, thought Mugface. I'm really going to be a swan. I'm going to fly to the clouds. I'm going to marry Victoria and we are going to have ugly duckling kids. It doesn't make sense but it's a brave, funny world out there. A grand, good world. He was so happy.

Hardly ten seconds after the last feather fell, the passage turned abruptly and Mugface stumbled out into blinding sunlight. And there, in front of him, was the most beautiful sight in the world. Rows and rows of swans taking off like bomber jets, never looking back.

Soon it was his turn. He rotated his wings. He stomped his feet. He was good to go. Then he looked down on himself and almost fainted. For he was naked. His skin was patchy and red. There were no pretty swan feathers. No magnificent wings and sturdy beak. He was just a bald uglier-than-ugliest duckling. No, he corrected himself numbly. I graduated. I'm The Ugly Duck now. A stupid ugly duck. The ugly duckling transformed itself into a frog instead of a Prince. He felt suicidal.

Just as he was looking around for broken glass to slit his throat with and end it all, he heard a squeal from the back. It came from behind some gorse bushes a few feet away. He walked to them slowly and was amazed to see another naked duck lying prostate on the ground, obviously having hidden itself. It looked oddly familiar. And it was sobbing it's ugly face out. Wait, this can't be. It can't possibly be.. no way... oh holy cow... the thick glasses, the black-and-pink braces....Victoria!

Vicky what happened? Why aren't you a swan?
I don't know, I don't know. Oh, what are we to do? We must be the only two Ugly Ducks in the whole of the universe. Oh the disgrace! Everybody else is gone!

She wept and wept and wept.
Mugface hung his head. Doom reared it's pretty-in-comparison head and laughed scornfully.
Mugface frowned and thought harder than he ever had in his entire life. He hated seeing his love cry.
Then he gently took Victoria's face in his hands. Baby, he whispered. I love you more than anything else in the world. And I want to be with you forever. I just had the greatest idea. We're the Ugly Ducks, the most unique couple in world. I know a way to fame and glory and highest quality of birdScotch.

Victoria looked up, but there was no hope in her eyes.

Don't you see? There is nobody like us in the entire, fuckin' WORLD. What do you say we pimp ourselves out to the biggest circus? Like the Great Political Circus? People from all over the earth will come to see us walk around upside-down dressed like clowns or some shit. We'll be rich, rich, RICH!!!

Victoria's face lit up beautifully. Like all women, she loved money, especially the shallow kind you make just for your appearance. All right, let's get to work then, she said. We need a publicist, a beautician and an office. We also need to bribe journalists and reporters to give us TV coverage. We need to find a place for... She paused, gasping for breath.
Marcus the Ugliest Duck pulled Victoria Pissyface close and beaked her. My queen, he said. My sweet angel. You are MY swan.

Oh no, said Victoria gently, I'm very proud to be an Ugly Duck. And boy, do I hate those swans with their airs and messy long feathers and wingspans. Let them go, you know, molest themselves.

Women, ah inscrutable women.

Of course the Two Ugly Ducks went on to be very famous. Marcus even did a stint in acting under the pseudonym Daffy Duck, where he was as ugly and belligerent as ever. As soon as they had enough money, Victoria got laser correction for her eyes along with extensive dental surgery, and was immediately initiated into “100 Most Beautiful People” by Voguebird, that very fashionable magazine read by all the snob-avies.
They had thirteen extremely ugly children who were firmly never sent to school and went on to become great politicians.

Marcus spent most of his spare time shooting swans.
“Oh Vicky dear, come and see. I think I accidentally shot Mrs. Head in the head.”

And they all lived happily ever after. Except the swans of course, unfortunate things.

August 24, 2009

The Hippie

Great balls of fire
Great balls of lead
Secret desire
Burning in red

A cigarette is lit
A cigarette is flicked
Hope becomes ashes
As another is picked

Covered in warmth
Covered in straw
Ice under the crust
Hatred is raw

Dark is the corner
Dark is the hole
The hippie in the limo
He lightens my soul

July 28, 2009

Train Journeys Teach Us

Last week I had to go somewhere by train, a journey of two hours. I had forgotten to make prior reservations and so had to get General Compartment passes at the last minute. Did you gasp? No? Then you should. Because anyone who lives in India or has traveled here knows that a “General Compartment Journey” is a feat all by itself, ranking right up there with “Enduring Classical Music To Be Cool” and “Conversing With People Who Collect Stamps or Coins”. Traveling in the General Compartment is serious business, dears. There are people who never heard of deodorant dangling from all corners, it's so bloody hot and most importantly I'm a young woman traveling alone. Obviously single, since I don't have the traditional sindoor on my forehead or an elaborate toe-ring to prove otherwise. I said several prayers and waited at the station.

The train rolled in forty minutes late, which made it worse because more people than usual were gathered to get on. There was a noise like that of a thousand thunderstorms as me and my fellow countrymen pushed and shoved to get through the door before it started off again. India scorns at sensors on doors or other luxuries like that, you see. Due to the fact that I spend most of my meager allowance on alcohol-containing products, I am usually broke and forced to travel a lot by public transport. Hence I can push and shove with utmost nonchalance. Except old ladies of course. Them I respect. My moves got nothin' on theirs and I don't want to end up looking silly keeling over on the platform with a broken rib-cage.

There was absolutely no room inside. I was squashed in the middle of a whole load of, luckily, women and it was so packed that, and I kid you not, I was lifted off my feet. There were humans above me, around me and below me. I could feel sweating stranger skins on every part of my body, except my chest area which I shielded with my arms, thrusting them at an angle from my torso. It was a trick I developed after too many “accidental” encounters between random male hands and that region. The next station was an hour away. I contented myself till then by trying not to breathe directly from the mouth of the woman opposite me. No easy task, as it was only two inches away and smelt of the paan she was chewing.

There is a panicked rushing around the compartment when the train pulls into a station, as the standing people try to occupy the seats that empty. The very lucky ones managed to find places. I wasn't so fortunate but I did find enough floor space in the middle of two seats to squeeze my ass into. I opened my backpack and started to read “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” (an example of how, however good the movie is, the book is always better, no exception). After a while, I could feel someone staring down at me. I ignored it till it started to get annoying. As I looked up defiantly, I caught the eyes of an old hag burning her glare into my forehead. It was obvious she had just been waiting for me to notice her. “Why do you not have a cloth?” she asked loudly enough for the nearest seventy people to cran their necks to floor level and my reddening face. What do you mean?, I whispered. She gestured at my breasts with a disdainful flicker of her bloodshot eyes. Then I understood and a mixture of dismay and embarrassment flooded my soul.

You see, traditional Indian women wear either the sari, a long cloth wound around the body, or they wear a “salwar-kameez” set. This set consists of three things : loose pants, a long shirt-like “kurta” and a “dupatta”. A dupatta is a shawl worn over the breasts to supposedly prevent men from looking there. However, since I was wearing (baggy) jeans and a (loose) tee, the dupatta was missing from my outfit. My virginity-guarding “cloth”, the essential iron vest of good Indian girls, it was nowhere to be seen. And this woman obviously had a problem with it. “Your cloth”, she repeated again, just to be clear. “Where is your cloth?” There was a long moment of silence as the men around now realized they had reason to gaze openly at my chest and proceeded to do so with undiluted glee. I sat there miserably, feeling like the world's skankiest whore.

My mind tried but failed.

A voice spoke out then, cutting through my shame like a scapel into a tumor. “Aww come on” said this voice. She was a fat little lady, comfortably leaning her large backside against the wall. The sweet Sound of Redemption was coming from her precious vocal cords. I pleaded her not to stop with beggary eyes. “You, my dear, do not know fashion,”, she continued, addressing the Old Hag. “You won't understand young people nowadays. You don't watch TV, that's why. Everybody dresses like this, even my daughters. Even the Prime Minister's daughters.” She gave me a gentle wink. The Old Hag started to say something and then hesitated uncertainly. Finally she muttered something about how young women had no decency these days and how the country was going to the dogs, implying darkly that there was a direct connection. Then she fell silent.

I mouthed a “thank you” to the fat lady and moved my backpack to cover my chest. The men groaned in unison, abruptly woken up from their pleasant imaginings. Fortunately, within ten minutes the last station came into view so everyone clambered up. Old Hag was intensely gazing at me again as we were carried towards the door by the swirling mass around us.
“I hope you didn't feel bad, my dear. I don't know all these things. I said it for your own good, I swear.”
“No, no. It was quite all right, no problem”, I said as primly as I could and hastily stepped out into Oxygen and away from her eyes which were again fixed at thorax level.

Wondering vaguely about her orientation, I look around at my fellow Indians, my “brothers and sisters”. The railway platform of any country is a good place to see its people. Everyone is here, each type: the poor, the rich, even the nosy and the annoying, all presenting a fair cross-section of the population. I notice the man standing nearby, shouting into his mobile about some meeting he should have been at but for a fuckin' train delay. His pants are too tight and he's scratching his crotch with absolute abandon. A breeze blows, fluttering open his unbuttoned shirt to expose a large, black nipple. I stare at it and fall deep into thought.

What is the moral of this “cloth” incident?, I ask myself. I debate furiously in my head, back and forth, back and forth, questioning my appearance, my values, my ethics, my life views, my place in the world... I work myself into an absolutely paranoid frenzy of self-loathing.

There is a gentle tap on my shoulder. “The moral of the story”, said the fat lady sweetly, “is that you should make sure you reserve tickets next time. India is a democracy, and like in all countries where there is freedom of speech, some people can be assholes.” She pats my face reassuringly and walks away. The man on the phone was scratching his ass by now. That's when I realized. I fit in. Just like him, I belong because I am exactly who I'm supposed to be. A flawed but vital component of this motley crowd.

There is always redemption in my stories, however small.

June 05, 2009

The Rizps Are Coming

This is a horror story. The kind that rattles you and keeps you awake at night wondering if a Rizp will come and crush your skull. Because the Rizps are brain eaters. Because Rizps kill you slowly and painfully. Because there might be a Rizp in your neighborhood, watching you through your half-closed curtains. And waiting.

On Friday the 13th, dark stormy clouds raced threateningly across the sky. A sinister wind rattled the windows, drowning out the high-pitched screams issuing from the musty classroom. For the janitor had just seen the blood. It fell on his thumb, the first drop feeling fresh and warm. The next drop fell into his mouth, and unwillingly he tasted it. Thick human blood. As he looked up at the roof, a shower of clotted mucus, blood and various organs fell on him. The Rizps always entertained before they killed, you see.

The next morning, the newspaper headlines read: “Janitor dies under mysterious circumstances. Only his brain found to be missing, the body damaged almost beyond recognition.” The Rizps laughed evilly in their triumph. Their hide-out was a mess, with squishy leftover brain pieces everywhere and walls splattered in violent blotches of red. There were still a few hours before the next Brain & Bloodbath Special. So, they were content. But not for very long. Never for long.

That afternoon, Mrs. Louise Jonas was at the mall. About one hour back, ever since she watched her husband drive away to work, she had felt a presence. A chilling, ominous presence that threatened to suffocate her. To get away and shake off the feeling, she decided to do what she did best, shop. How would she know that it was the very last trip to the mall she would take? She didn't, but the Rizps sure did. And they knew it was good.
She really liked this dress. It was a strappy, low-backed affair, and made her look kind of sexy. It was certainly slimming. She checked again to make sure the trial room door was properly latched and preened in front of the mirror. When she was done, she started to take the dress off. The Rizps watched her undress with glee. Now it wouldn't be hard to drain the blood from her aorta and suck out her brain. They always found those wretched zippers and buttons confusing.

Louise fell to the floor, dazed. She didn't know what hit her. As she watched in horror, a gaping hole appeared in her chest and blood gushed out like a miniature chocolate fountain. Then she saw them. The baby and animal skulls falling from the roof, covered in plasma and slime. She tried to scream, but the blood filling her throat and mouth choked her. The final image that burned Mrs. Louise Jonas' retinas was the sight of her still-beating heart lying in her left palm. Her skull was broken and her brain snatched without any further ceremony. Another senseless death, just another meal for the Rizps. Some more brain food. Brain food, get it? Ha ha ha. I really can't write a horror story, as you probably figured. I just wanted a good pun for brain food. LOL.

Getting back to the point, Rizps are real, trust me. And they are very interested in you. Actually, a particularly nasty Rizp is watching you right now. Don't be scared, it's too late for you anyway. Look behind you. Yeah, turn around. I'm already here. Goodbye.
Lame? I agree. But I always loved the Goosebumps books, and I still get a little spooked when I read them :)... this is a just a small tribute to R.L Stine.

May 12, 2009

British Airways is Full of Shit

The Indian Premier League cricket games are going on in South Africa and apparently, even though the teams are owned by Indian millionaires, the Indian players are discriminated against and treated “differently” from the other players, who are mainly British and Australian. The source is one of India's best cricketers, Ajay Jadeja. Read more about it here.

Today, in the news I read that ONLY Indian passengers on an Air France flight were treated very badly. About sixty, yeah SIXTY passengers were made to stay overnight in a SINGLE room due to some technical problem and could not get out while the other passengers (non-Indian) were provided good hotel accommodation. Read the full story here.

Blatant racism is not a myth. It exists, and nowhere more than on international flights. When I fly back home to U.S from India, I usually fly British Airways (because my parents think it's a good “standard” airline) and take my connecting flight at Heathrow airport. The differences between the two journeys never fail to piss me off. Even at the airports, the ground staff are always nicer to the “white” people, very fervent in their “Good MORNING Sir”s and their “Have a GREAT flight, Ma'am”s. When they see Indians, the smile fades, the tone is distinctly rude and the greetings are hurried. Sometimes, just to check, I use my American accent on them. I discard my usual Indian one just to see if I get treated better. And I really really do. Not as much as if my skin was lighter, but definitely a lot better than the unfortunate guy next to me who hesitates as he speaks the unfamiliar English language and wears a turban. He got treated like garbage. Now, you may think that kind of racism is rare but it happens shockingly often. I've seen it, been a subject of it and I boil inside. But I am always polite, no matter what. Because I was brought up better. I delicately ask about a free upgrade to Business class, but am rejected on grounds of “no more available”. I sigh gently as the stoned British hippie behind me asks the same thing and instantly gets it. Could they be more fuckin' obvious? Me and the Sikh guy exchange understanding glances and hang our heads in abject hopelessness.

The plane from India to London is as a rule, dirty. There is no actual garbage thrown around everywhere, but there is a distinct unkempt air. The air hostesses are cold. They offer you drinks maybe once or twice in the entire ten hour flight, and that too, never alcohol. If you didn't know they serve wine in Economy class, you'd never get any because, hey, they never offer. You have to raise your hands and shout a million fuckin' times. When the toilets get smelly, they don't spray enough air freshener. And the food, oh man, this is discrimination at its very shiny best. This time when I went home, on the flight towards London, they served rice and chicken curry. Great, but I eat that ALL the fuckin' time and I want something else. But no, they didn't have any other dish. This is bullshit.

After I changed flights and was on the plane headed to America, however, it was a whole different story. Ma'am, red or white wine? Shepherd's pie or beef lasagna? Cold sandwich anyone? I was spoilt for choice. They pressed juice and snacks on all the passengers and it was a joyful, beautiful atmosphere of sunshine and pleasantness. Chicken or beef? Chicken or beef?.. that is the standard cry during dinner on most international flights. But not on the flight to/from India. In fact, on the flight back to India from Heathrow three weeks later, the situation went from bad to worse. Like, they served the Business class and after a very long time, they announced briefly, “The chicken meals are over, and as a result you will be served vegetarian food”. All I got was a dish of some nasty badly-cooked rice and kidney beans. Rice and beans? Do you know how much I pay to fly in your stupid airline? The SAME fuckin' amount your American friends on your other flights do. Why do you kiss their asses so much? What happened to basic human rights? I hate fuckin' racist people, especially those who are supposed to be providing you a service purely based on money. Come now, the way the British Airways people behave, it's as if they are doing YOU a favor by letting you pay to travel in their shitty, smelly planes. Fuck 'em.

Anyways, the Indian passengers who were treated badly on the Air France flight are planning to take some kind of legal action. I'm all for that. And oh yeah, I'll never take a British Airways flight again. If you are against racism, then you wouldn't either.

April 14, 2009

Handsome and Ghetto

(We all grew up reading fairy tales. This story is supposed to be how "Hansel and Gretel" would have turned out if it was written in the present time. Haven't read "Hansel and Gretel"? Shame! Read it first here  and then read this post, though it still is funny. Please note, I don't mean to cause offense to anyone so please don't get all pissy.)
Once upon a time in a land called America, not too long ago, there arrived a terrible, hitherto unknown plague called The Recession. It was a vicious, nasty thing, never seen before by the American people. You see, there are so many ways of doing finances in America which assumed you had money, that no person had held real currency in their hands for years and years. They had credit cards, debit cards, weird things called hedge funds that had nothing to do with botany, mutual funds that weren't mutual at all, stocks and bonds that sounded vaguely cruel, life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, dental insurance, and most importantly, mortgages. Sure. But it had been a while since they had actually seen any of the green. In fact, it is alleged that the last time someone held a dollar was during the Cold War and that person had been a homeless guy investing in Enron. And now suddenly, trusting citizens everywhere were finding out that the bank vaults were empty and all they had were truckloads of paperwork with meaningless, ridiculously high amounts written on them. A very bad state of things.
Mommy and Daddy were arguing. What the fuck are we going to do, said Mommy. Where are we going to find the money for coke? And Friday Night porn?
Calm down, said Daddy. We can pimp you out or something.
Mommy frowned, thought seriously and said, no, it's not that easy. The customers wanted MILFs in like, what, the fifties? They are now into sexually ambiguous Asians. Why don't we pimp you out? In these times, you'll probably earn more.
They argued back and forth, and finally decided there was only one thing to do. Get rid of the kids. They must be sent away to fend for themselves. What with so many Child Safety Laws, they had more chance of daily KFC and video games at shelters than at home. And they wouldn't have to share the coke when the kids got older. It was all for the best. They called Handsome and Ghetto aged 11 and 10.
Children, children, children. We are going to visit Grandma and Grandpa.
What, said Ghetto incredulously. We saw them only five years back. So soon? Damn.
They piled into the car and set out for the ten minute ride grudgingly. At the gate of the retirement home, as soon as the kids got out, Daddy locked the doors from inside. We're sorry kids. We'll meet again some day. Grandpa and Grandma both moved to Sudan two years ago to look for oil along with Bush Senior. We had to do this. May the Force be with you. Goodbye
Handsome shrugged as his parents high-fived each other and drove away singing Elvis songs.
Dude, our parents are the pits, man. I bet they'll still file their taxes using our names as Dependants.
How could they do this to us, bro? We're their flesh and blood, moaned Ghetto incredulously. He was a very incredulous child.
Aite, aite. Quit bein' a pussy junior. We can never find our way home walking so let's go explore what this wide world is like, said Handsome. Let's roll.
They stopped the next car and got in. It was a very old brown sedan, driven by a man wearing grey robes and a turban. I am going to the Pentagon, said he. Jeez man, you have a weird accent. Like that Prince of Persia dude or some shit, said Ghetto.
I come from a different place, a purer place that is not defiled by immorality and heathens like this god-forsaken land. Rotten infidels. Where do you young men have to go?
Oh the Pentagon is fine, said Handsome politely. We're not particular. Where are you coming from, anyway? I don't mean like morality-wise. I meant like GPS-wise.
I have come a long way to carry out my life mission. I come from the Swat Valley, said the man as he drove.
Aw, man that's in California isn't it? Where they make computers and shit? Wow, that's, like, so far away. You're, like, a world traveler or something. Cool. Ghetto lapsed into awed silence.
They reached the Pentagon in two hours, during which Turban Guy spent most of his time listening to a “last instructions” CD with his headphones on. They parked in the President's spot.
You take the car, I will no longer need it, said Turban Guy mysteriously. He reached into his underwear, took out two AK-47s and disappeared into the main doorway.
Dude, those guns were old as hell, said Ghetto. Daddy has seven just like those. Turban Guy sure is funny. They must have given him a job as a guard or some shit. He left us his car, at any rate.
We can't drive it, stupid, said Handsome impatiently. Neither of us has a license yet. We need to figure out what to do. I'm starving, get two burgers from that stall over there. Use your lunch card, it has more money in it than Daddy's savings.
Just as Ghetto was about to go, however, Turban Guy came out at high speed mumbling and cursing. The guns were nowhere to be seen. He got into the driver seat and took a deep breath.
What the hell happened, asked Ghetto curiously.
Our plan was foiled by these cunning American infidels, groaned Turban Guy. They are too clever. It was all going as we had planned. I passed through security levels A through X without a problem. I even was given a “Best Dressed American” Award for my robes at the J Level. But at Y Level, I just couldn't resist myself. I just couldn't. Turban Guy's lips quivered. He hung his head.
What did they do to you at Y Level, man, asked Handsome coaxingly.
What did they do? Holy cow, what have they done to you, shouted Ghetto, getting very caught up.
There were two guards, said Turban Guy. They were watching The Movie. T-H-E MOVIE, don't you get it? I had only vaguely heard rumors about it. Till now. These guys actually had a copy. Can you imagine my agony? My indecision? Do I go on through to the center and annihilate myself and a few others around me and be a brave martyr only to be scorned and forgotten tomorrow? Or do I try to get my hands on a copy of THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE? The torture was unbearable.
Did you give in, asked Handsome in a reproachful voice?
And what does “annihilate” mean, asked Ghetto?
I gave in, said Turban guy, his hairy face burning with shame. I traded my guns in for it. But it was worth everything. Everything.
His hands trembled as he pulled an old CD from the depths of his underwear. There was a picture of a woman in front and the lettering said "Barb Wire".
You dumb, stupid fuck. You failed in your life mission just to get your hands on Barb Wire? You are one crazy fucker man, said Ghetto. That shit is some old shit. And that Pamela female is super lame. 
Don't say anything, don't give away the plot of the beautiful story. For the last ten years I have dreamed of this movie. Fuck the Headquarters. Fuck slaughtering infidels. I don't want to be a fucking terrorist. I want to go sit beside a quiet river in the Valley and watch this movie on my laptop. You can have the car, it's probably worth more than your house.
Dude, dude, dude. English, please. I beg you. What's “slaughtering”?, asked Ghetto, extremely perplexed.
Yeah, I don't understand your language too well either, said Handsome. What is “terrorist”?
Boys, I don't have time to sit around and chat with you. Barb Wire beckons. Wait, I have something for you.
He reached once more into the depths of his trusty underwear and pulled out two large sacks.
What all do you have down there? Sacks of gold or some shit?, asked Ghetto incredulously. Damn.
I was going to give these to the guards at level Z to mail to my wife. You know, since I was on my life mission. There is enough gold in here to live like Sultans for a hundred years. Take and use well, as your American dollars are worth less than a rodent's asshole now. I do not wish anymore to inflict harm on a country that produces movies like Barb Wire for the common good of the people. You are a very great nation. And I am a changed man.
Turban Guy put his precious CD back in his pants and went away whistling to catch a plane (followed by a train, a bus, a short boat ride, a rickshaw ride and a 34 mile walk) to Swat Valley, where he made 273127 bags of gold by selling pirated copies of Barb Wire. He was hailed “Entrepreneur of the Century” by The Times, several times, and lived a wonderful, fulfilling life. (This is a fairy tale, yo)
Handsome and Ghetto sold the car to a hippie on the sidewalk for five dollars and rode the bus home. Of course Daddy and Mommy repented when they saw the gold and bought five buckets of KFC and two of the latest video games to make up for their abandonment.
America recovered from the Recession in a couple of years after adopting the barter system whereby you trade leaves for corn, corn for fish, fish for coke and so on.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Daddy, what does “infidel” mean?
Shut the fuck up, Ghetto. How should I know?

March 30, 2009

Walking Downstairs

(I moved out of hostel a couple of weeks ago. I lived here for four and a half years. The nostalgia is strong.)

I decide to leave the fan and the bathroom light on despite all the warnings. I need the ventilation, so fuck the electricity bill. The college can pay that, they take enough money from my parents anyway. From across the room I check myself in the mirror over the basin, squinting into it as though if I try harder, I might see something I actually like. I sigh and move out, without locking the damn door. I can't lock it because I broke the handle a long time ago for some obscure reason. I descend the stairs slowly. Four flights to go.

I notice the dusty and empty telephone box made of wood in the corner. It houses about six hundred horny lizards whose children grace the walls of all the rooms in the hostel. Every student has a cellphone now, so the sound of the telephone ringing louding in the corridor is a distant, almost mythical concept. Time changes the little things. I look at my toes as they flex and unflex with each step I take. They are dirty, desperately in need of a pedicure and good moisturizing lotion. But feet are at the opposite end of the psyche, worlds apart. And right now, my life consists of trying to be moderately sane. Right now, these neglected toes don't belong to me.I shrug to myself, and make a mental note to buy closed shoes next time.

I turn around the bend. There is lizard shit on the floor. It's flattened. Trampled faded lizard feces. I'm not disgusted. I used to have lizardophobia but since they are everywhere, they have sort of become like unpleasant wallpaper. You can get used to anything. As the view widens out, I see her, the bitch I hate the most in this place. She's on the phone with her retarded boyfriend, who I'm sure only stays because she gives it up good. I feel violent nausea rise as I remember how she made me so miserable at one point that I wanted to quit studying and run away somewhere where the horrible lies she made up wouldn't get at me. She repaid my friendship with deceit, and I no longer have words for her. I snarl automatically, glare at her pouting lips as she simpers on, and force myself to walk. Bitch bitch bitch. I hope you fuckin' die.

The next floor is a familiar one, I lived here for two years. The faded notice in green greets me, “Please put leftover food in the bins. There are rats on this floor”. I smile. I love those rats, the little buggers. They fight for survival in this alien environment and they survive each bloody night, braving rat-traps and nasty poison bait, more trouble that I've ever had to face. Maybe I should leave some chips on the floor outside my room once in a while. I wonder if they unconditionally love each other? If they do, well, rats are the shit.

“Excuse me, I was wondering if I can borrow your surgery text? We have an exam in two days and I heard you have Bailey & Love? I'll just need it for today and if it's not a problem...”. The hesitating voice trailed off as I stopped and turned around. A junior was standing on the stairs, two steps higher than me. She had frizzy hair, wore shapeless clothes and I didn't like her face. I have seen her around, singing and dancing to herself in the corridors, when she thought no one was watching. But I was. I hate her. I hate that in her world, there is music and lightness. She has grace. I have nothing. “NO I won't give it to you”, I reply with as much bitterness as I can inflect into that word. There is a pause that seems to go on forever. She is shocked, she starts to stammer, but I cannot hear. Her face is falling. I suddenly see myself like how she sees me, the image flashing in my head. I look so cruel, so ruthless. So bereft of hope. Her mouth moves, but my heart is beating so loudly I cannot understand her words. She starts to move away. Rejection. How do you feel?

I avert my face and continue on my way. My head reels. She didn't deserve that. She's a happy person and I spoilt it for her. I took away something I want so badly but I can never use. I took away HER joy. Who am I to do that to her? I want to turn back. I want to tear upstairs and get the book. I want to run and throw myself at her feet. I want to lie protrate with dirt in my mouth and scream to her that I am not worthy of her request, that I am so honored she trusted me enough to ask for something from me. I want to beg her for forgiveness till my voice is hoarse and my tears are drenching her feet. I want to go on talking and explaining and force her to listen to me. I want to say, please do understand me, I'm not the person you think I am, you have to believe me. Please believe me. I want to hold the book out as a burnt offering, as a sacrifice that should mean something. But that will never be enough anymore. Her neurons will permanently discard me as a negative, I'm sealed-off forever by an indestructible sheet of frosted glass. I attempt a glance backwards in desperation, but she is no longer there. I don't slow, there is no point.

At the bottom is the Warden's room. She's a little old nun who has hypertension and diabetes and a voice that could belong to a frog that sings soprano. She is good and sincere but with an instinctive anti-Protestant streak that colors everything she says to me and sometimes completely overwhelms me. She doesn't like the fearlessness I seem to portray, but I know she is in total awe of how brutally honest I am. I think I scare her. She asks me why I didn't attend the Morning Mass. I mumble something about being sick and stumble out. The sun is too strong, too bright, too happy. I stop, uncertain. I want to turn back and just go lie on my bed again. But there are four flights of stairs. I don't look back in anger.

And tomorrow, I will walk downstairs again. Maybe.

March 13, 2009

To Count Your Blessings

Last night, we were three children, driving around when we shouldn't have been. We sneaked out of her house together in the dead of night and met him near the corner store. Three medical students, from three different cities, back in the place we grew up. We were high on life, high on other things, drunk on youth, drunk on too much alcohol and time. Too much time and nowhere much to go. Ambition always comes later, usually too late. We climbed up some deserted stairs in the hospital and sat around on discarded and broken ward beds. We talked then, about our defeat, our slow but definite decline into our own little shitholes, away from the bright beams of optimism preached at us from the minute we took our first hit of life. Puff puff pass.

Feeling quite saturated, we decided to leave. It was unsafe to be seen as we are, our eyes red and breaths smelling. We reeked of more than sadness. We reeked of terrible thoughts we hoped our expiration would take away on the warm breeze. We hoped.

"Pass me a cigarette"
"I can't find the pack"
"What the fuck, I need a cigarette"
"Let's go look around for a shop that's still open. Do you think you can drive?"
"Fuck, yeah. I can drive even when I can't stand. Ha ha"

But that's what they said when they were still talking and the trucks hit them. Or before they ran into poles or poor people sleeping on the pavement. The blood cries out to me.

"Okay, then. Let's go back near the stairs. You must have dropped the pack there."

He reversed and drove fast, bringing the car to a jerky stop. It must have been minutes, but I felt alone with my morbid thoughts for five thousand long years.

"Since it was your fault, you can get out and look for the cigarettes. Hurry up."

I opened the car door and prepared my cooling brain for the search. Wait. Something shines in the grass. I reach out and pick it up. The cold, rectangular metal is familiar in my hands. It's my mobile. When did it fall out? Was it lying here since the last time or did i just drop it? Time sense was getting a little foggy. "It's a miracle", I proclaim excitedly. I have found something I didn't know I lost. It really was a miracle, considering the state we were in. I make a cursory search and announce briefly, "No cigarettes". We curse many things.

Now we are flying down the main road, a two-lane street that was dangerous enough during the daytime. So many people have died on this road.. students, doctors, patients. But we are invincible, like only children can so certainly feel. "Watch out, DAMN". We miss the little old lady by an inch. What is she doing out at this time? It's time only for the women of the night, the lonely men they comfort, the homeless... and the bored. Like us. There is no room for anybody else. Old lady, go home. Go home if you know what's good for you.

We pass shop after tiny closed shop. Then there is light. "Look, that guy is just putting down the shutters. Quick, go get some cigs." Cigs are vital to preserve the memory of this night as a tolerable one.

I watch the transaction from the comfort of my car seat. I wonder about the men who own stores like this, drunk as you or me at the end of the day, trying to numb that ever-present sense of failure. I think of their children, the ones who don't get to go to school. I think of their wives who they beat up but can't live without. I think about whose life is more important, the shop guy's or mine. If we are all the same, then why do I have more money without having to work so hard for it? He probably sacrifices more in the course of a month in pleasure than I do in a day. He's probably more honest with himself. Why do I take up more space in the world, more air, have more needs, more shoes?

We are on the way back, driving fanatically fast in eagerness to just settle down again. The shops are a blur. They are small and insignificant, selling lots of random things. Including "Injurious to Health" products to rich, spoilt, wasted young people who don't give a fuck. It's business as usual. And at the end of this cycle, we die. For all our technology, for all our haute coutour, not one bloody soul can say exactly what happens after we pass out for the last time. However, it must be something good because, you know, all the bodies are always smiling before they close the coffin lids.

We park at the beginning of her drive to allay the suspicion of the guards, hoping her parents won't wake up. We talk again. I listen more than I speak this time. We sound so bitter, so fuckin' angry. Like the world actually owes us something. Like we don't already have so much more than displaced Iraqis, the child soldiers in Sudan, the wives and girlfriends praying for their American soldier boys away from home for the first time, the families of the policemen who died when terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team.. oh the list can get so horrendous.

We have too much. We are so blessed beyond measure.

I'm tired of whining, I'm tired of crying. I'm tired of  not counting the heaps and heaps of things I have. Sitting in his car, my mind so chemically screwed up, I have decided to become an adult. Yes, last night was a night to remember.

Today I'm at a club, chucking vodka shots. Three, four, five. Then I go and dance like a wild child, making sure I get that attention. As I head back to the table to order some whiskey, he shakes his head and says, "You are awful. You'll make a terrible mother". I grin. No way. I'll be awesome. Because I'm an adult now. What I'm doing is counting my blessings, enjoying the things this mysterious life has to offer. Like a dance floor in a democracy, even when they play shitty music. Like friends who'll pick up the tab and pick you up off the floor when you get too drunk. Like being able to get low and make people stare. Today I'm counting the fun things I have.

And tomorrow, with a horrible hangover, I will work my ass off and study, (get married, change diapers, have a mortgage) and do all those more annoying  things I am put on this earth for.
Because I am so very grateful. I really, really am.

February 27, 2009

Gay is as Gay Does

Apparently Guy Ritchie (yeah Madonna's ex-husband) is making a movie on Sherlock Holmes. That sounds awesome. Doyle is a fine writer and a good flick will get lots of people reading his books. But get this, he is going to portray Holmes as being in a gay relationship with Watson!!! What the ....?

Why is the world so obsessed with the gay community? Throughout the earth's history, most homosexuals were hiding in the closet, marrying members of the opposite sex and having confused babies who wondered why daddy spent so much time with Uncle Harris from work, the one who talked like a girl. Then came the stage where the doors started to open and gay people came forward to express their orientation and the world seemed okay with it. So you're different, well I have an earthworm fetish. Live and let live. It was great at that point, and the whole thing should have just stayed that way.

But we always ruin the good stuff and hence there was this statistical explosion. Hundreds of homosexuals started crawling out of the woodwork. In the last few years, everywhere you turn, you hear someone say, yeah I'm gay. Look at me, look at me I'm gay. It's suddenly way cool to be gay. So super cool that it has reached heights of ridiculousness. Even in the fashion industry of extremely conservative India, the gay designers are thought to be more "artsy". And yes, yes, yes, guys who wear pink, you do look homo. Please don't think otherwise. Metrosexuals, ewww! Give me a caveman anyday!

Gay rights are suddenly more important that starvation deaths, the Taliban and child abuse. There are so many marches in the U.S, though you never see the same person twice. So you go, wait, isn't there anyone straight around to make babies with? People who aren't even remotely homosexual get really offended when you make gay jokes. You can make a joke about a person's religion. Christianity takes the biggest and cheapest hits in America. (Ironically, there is the greatest reverence for other religions like Paganism, Buddhism or Hinduism. Ever heard jokes about pagans? See what I mean? They receive respect. Don't get me started.) You can make jokes about race, to a certain extent. What can a Brown do for you? Ha ha ha. But about homosexuality? Oh no, you go to jail, bad boy!

It's like gay people are somehow more special, better than the rest. Put on a pedestal. Given standing applause and psychological medals just for their orientation. Made to feel superior to plain ole boring man-on-woman-lovin' heterosexuals. The whole thing is bullshit, blown out of proportion. Look at Katy Perry. Her "I Kissed a Girl" is so extremely, mind-numbingly stupid that you can't help but wonder about the kind of people who made that song top the charts. Seriously. Exactly where is the world going to?

Coming back to Mr.Ritchie. Sir, you probably never had normal, healthy relationships with great guy friends. You probably find having chest hair uncomfortable. You probably have sexually-charged situations with your doggie and the door post. I can excuse that, and it's nothing a little psychotherapy can't cure. But don't you dare belittle the bond Holmes and Watson share. They come from somewhere you can never go, and Doyle had the kind of genius you can never match. 

Back off, and do a remake of Brokeback Mountain (yes I know it won), the second-worst movie made after The Terminator. You, sir, are a disgrace to the entire human population of right-thinking individuals. Just because you couldn't make it with your wife doesn't mean that you are gay, or everyone else is, so calm down. Next you will be saying Poirot and Hastings are maybe, you know, "sharing their peewees"? Or that the Bronte sisters were not so sisterly? Fuck you Ritchie boy. Know when to stop. I know your movie will probably be a hit. But remember, it's the same people who like Katy Perry who are watching it. Suck it up.

So go on, get a life. Gay people, get some perspective. The rest, get some sleep. And try to streamline the closet doors a little bit. They are falling off the hinges.

February 09, 2009

The Experiment

"And she finally stopped playing their song, when she realized she was dancing alone.”

(I wrote this a long time ago, when things were different. A lot has changed, I have grown and nobody is "too young, too dramatic" anymore. But I love this story and I wanted it on my blog.)

The rat sat on the mat in his boxy cubicle, waiting, waiting. He didn't have much time for the neighbors with their small talk anymore. The rat next door had been feeling sick and a few people around the corner of the room had been dying. He felt puzzled, but his little mind was busy with other things. Like love. That brilliant sensation you get when you eat too much of that good cheese. Knowing that the world was just a moody blur under her pretty feet. He remembered how it felt, his skin against her. His fur prickled at the thought. The smell of her body came on a bolt of desire. A paddy field in summertime.

The scientist looked at her watch. It was time, then. There was so much money invested in this thing, it HAD to work. She bit nervously on her perfect nails. Then laughed. Second manicure tomorrow in two weeks. Oh well. She called the technician and they entered the lab together.

Here she came, the queen of his life. The rat tried to perk up and sit erect. Lately, he had been feeling a littled dizzy and had stopped feeding. This was it, he thought. Love so pure and good, the dead rose from their graves and sang "Love Me Tender".

She spotted him the minute she walked in. How could she not? This was the "king" rat, the crucial animal in their year-long experiment. He had a bigger box which was set a little apart from the rest. "Hey darling, how are we doing this morning?", she asked teasingly. She inspected him closely. If she had her way, she would have preferred any other rat. He was so ugly. Bald in several places, and lots of scar tissue from previous experiments. She didn't have a choice in her selection though, this one being the oldest of them all and the most sensitive to the antibodies. She hated those beady eyes that stared so at her, pupils widely dilated. Probably crazy from the drugs, she thought. She stroked his fur gently, automatically.

The technician brought in the equipment on a special silver tray. Making a ceremony of it. The scientist put on her gloves and loaded the syringe. The rat quivered in anticipation. He loved these shots. There had been more of them in the last few days, but he knew why. She was testing him. She wanted to see how much pain he could endure. And oh, he could endure. He could endure anything. Each shot proved his loyalty and he welcomed the adrenaline rush.

They watched the small drops of the precious serum fall, indicating everything was good. Today's injection was different, the rat noticed. It was green in color, not the usual white. And the dose looked much bigger. He hoped it wouldn't hurt too much. He was a little weak after all.

The scientist experty dabbed his leg and poked him. The fluid entered him smoothly. The rat was suprised. Today it didn't hurt at all. It felt rather... good. Finishing up, the two humans took a step back and stood there, motionless.

The rat was confused. The scientist was a busy woman who usually rushed away with sweet, whispered promises of returning the next day. Now she stood there, just looking at him. What was happening? In a flash, he got very sick. His body started jerking uncontrollably. His involuntary brain took over and threw him against the bars of the box. Pain, worse than anything he had ever experienced coursed through his nerves, screaming, screaming. Help me, he gasped. Please, you angel of goodness. Save me.

The scientist watched the rat convulse, scattering his food grains and water bottle. She calmly inspected him from her spot. His eyes were blood-shot, paws rigid. He was pissing and excreting, unable to control his bladder and bowel movements. Blood appeared from his nose, and soon was pouring out of his mouth and ears too. This was going to take a while.

The rat kept looking at her. He understood everything. The increase in frequency of the shots, the nausea and guidiness, the inability to feed. It was all leading up to this, his undignified death. His queen was was a murderer. She was laughing now. Apparently this was what she wanted, what she wanted all along. The pain started to decrease and his convulsions became less marked. Well, he thought, in death he had given her all he could. He smiled at her. It was romantic. It was beautiful. And yes, it was pure and true. Then he died.

I'm so glad that stupid ugly rat is dead, squealed the scientist to the technician. Look how its nasty eyes are still open. And it looks like it's even smiling. It was one really weird piece of shit. I don't even wanna think about it. You know what this means don't you? A bigger pay-check and more money for our research. Heaven! The technician took her into his arms and right there, in front of the dead staring rat, they became one. Nobody belongs to anybody.

February 04, 2009

Good Food, Not for Thought

I've been home for nearly a week now and I still can't get used to all the food. So I try to eat as much of it as possible, greatly benefiting the American food economy during my brief stay. Last night, when all was still, I snuck down the creaky wooden steps and opened the fridge door and stood looking at it in naked greed for a few seconds. Then, overcome with desire, i pulled out a box of ice-cream and started gorging. I ate about half, and only replaced it because I thought I heard someone coming down the stairs. I know what would happen if they caught me. Shudder. Salad.

That's right. I would be made to eat salad. Because in the last four days, my body has ballooned and I'm starting to get a double chin. So I decided to call it a night. I pour myself a glass of cran-grape, my eleventh that day (I have to have at least ten, it's a ritual, albeit new, and untested for nutritional benefits). I creep up the stairs and snuggle under my blanket. Stupid snow. Then I realize I forgot something. I forgot something really big. Dessert. So I went down again. This time I was caught and sent to bed with dire warnings that included descriptions of how low-fat dressing tastes. Nasty.

Sleep overcomes the Fat One and I snore, my mouth open, reeking and spittley. My dreams are of valleys of cheese among mountains of sausages and bacon and other things Indian people think are way cool. I am woken up by the sound of the alarm, which was set to automatically go off the first misguided day I landed, convinced a little jogging in the snow at dawn can do no harm. Of course it can't, but dawn? Right. I cuss like a mofo and turn off the sound. My stomach grumbles. It wants nuggets. It really, really, needs them. Now.

I stumble down, and grope for the kitchen light. Which is already on. Coffeee?, my mom asks brightly. I nod, exhausted from the hunger and hopelessness of it all. Darn. Go shovel the drive, it snowed like crazy last night. I put on some warm clothing and head out. The air bites. I shovel. My food-deprived brain makes sausages dance in front of my eyes. I slip on the ice. I give up and go inside.

My mom packs mutton biryani in her lunch box. Yum. Indian food is good too. My mouth salivates. But I daren't ask for any. Because that would mean immediate salad. We joke about how the food stinks up her office microwave. She describes the food her co-workers bring. Oh, the pure torture of it all. The nuggets are screaming now. I lock the door behind her and take a deep breath. Then run, run, run and throw open the fridge.

I take the huge pack of nuggets and indiscriminately drop them onto a plate. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten... eleven.... twelve. Okay, a tiny thirteen. This of course is Round One. As it heats, I get the biryani ready. Oh, awesome, there are two slices of pepperoni pizza left. Great, I can always used those. I pour my first glass of cran-grape for the day. I munch on a special Indian Cashew Sweet and Hershey's Kisses combo I quickly made to pass the time as the other food is warming. This day shall be called fulfilling. There is nothing more to ask for.

You know, the meat industry will be sad to see me go. But... que sera sera. Burp.

January 27, 2009

Mangalore Horror - Attack against Women, Freedom and Tolerance

I study in Mangalore . It's a nice laid-back small city most of the time, with a few Hindu-Muslim riots in its history, nothing too sensational. Till two days ago. Then our little oasis proved itself to be full of shit. Let me tell you what happened. All the girls at my college were very excited about this new pub for a long time because it promised a big dance floor and a little class, something most places in Mangalore did not have. Because we were in the middle of exams, we didn't have time to go check the place out, and all of us went back to our homes right after. We had plans to come back as soon as classes started and party it up over there. Now, sitting in my grandma's house, watching the news, I feel helpless rage boiling over. I cannot do much but repeat the story and hope people will feel the same way.

It was any usual Saturday afternoon at the pub. Read, not night time. No dancing. Just lunch. Some Hindu fanatics of the group Ram Sena (nasty shit), about 40 of them, stormed the place and started hitting people. They chanted religious slogans. They rounded up some girls in the middle of the dance floor and did stuff to them. They slapped them. They pushed them to the floor and kicked them. They pulled down their pants. They took one girl's shirt off as they roughed her up. They groped all the girls, and pulled their hair. They laughed aloud in glee while doing it. They called the girls whores and sluts. They beat up the guys trying to defend the girls. These guys were the minority. Most just watched. When it was over (as in, the police arrived after ages), they left, unhindered, joyous and triumphant in their victory.

It got reported on TV . At first, as a small, breaking story and later on, as more and more people came to know and became outraged, it became national headlines. The initial reactions from Ram Sena, the group responsible were things like, "We did it to protect the decency and moral values of Indian women" and "We would have done it to our sisters if they were doing this" and funniest, "Girls and boys from different religions were dancing together".

Are these people fuckin' psycho? Or just plain stupid? How is taking a girl's shirt off, exposing her underwear, and groping her PRESERVING decency? And yeah, try doin' it to your sister, you piece of incestuous low-life shit. And it was lunch, for crying out loud. People don't grind while eating rice.

So now, what is happening? One of the biggest assholes in the whole deal, Prasad Attavara, the Vice President of the Ram Sena was arrested, and he didn't back down. He seemed quite proud of what his group "accomplished". I hope someone spits on his face when he's in custody or at the very least, pulls his pants down and cuts his dick off. Divakar Shetty , the "mastermind" behind the whole attack has gone into hiding. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Come on, you cowardly dick. You had the guts to get your little group to molest helpless women, now show your manliness. Come on. But he's nowhere to be found. The State Chief Minister is saying some bullshit. The only light in the darkness seems to be the National Commission for Women (NCW) which has formed a team to deal with the whole thing. Also, applause to Pavan Shetty, a good person who got beaten up for single-handedly trying to take on the mob. You are a hero, even if you don't get any award.

Hindu fanatics, Muslim fanatics, Christian fanatics. Down with them all. You think violence will get you to heaven? Wait till you die, you'll find out.
Fuck you, Prasad Attavara. Fuck your dirty unshaven face and your intolerant views and clothes. You should learn the alphabet and get a real job.
Fuck you Divakar Shetty. I hope the cave you are hiding in gives you syphilis.
Fuck both your wives for not divorcing you, and being docile, submissive, stupid bitches who put up with your bullshit.
Fuck you, all the men who touched those girls. You're on camera, bitch. And you'll get what's coming.
Fuck you Ram Sena, especially P. Muthalik (the founder), you bring disgrace to Hindus.

Once I get back in Mangalore, I'm going to that pub. And I'm going to toast to the resilience of all Indian women who dare to drink, dance, have fuckin' lunch and live their lives how they want. And I'm never going to be afraid.

Note: This is for real. It's happening in my country, in my city. See all the videos/links in this post. Pray for us, and all these blind, misguided fanatics. "Moral Police", my ass. We don't need that Taliban bullshit, thank you very much.

Update: One day later, Muthalik is in custody, thank God. There are protests going on in Mangalore and elsewhere. What touches my soul and warms my body like wine is that most of the protesters are women in saris, mostly over forty, who have never even had a drop of alchohol, let alone been in a pub! Thank you ladies. You're the only ones guarding the remnants of whatever dignity we have left.

Final Update: You CAN do something. Show your support and join the Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women here and on Facebook. They sent panties from all of us to Muthalik on Valentine's Day. In your face, bitch. Please do check it out and wish all Indian women luck.

January 23, 2009

Road to Grandma's

No!, I argue frantically with the auto driver. 40 bucks is hell lotta money. It was 30 last week. This is not fair... Come on... He shrugs and says, I'll drop you off at the bus stop near the place. Then you can walk. I need to eat too. I mumble under my breath the entire trip of ten minutes, hugging my knapsack close to me. Here, stop near this temple I say, and get off. I don't tip. I would have, but he was a mean, greedy person. I hoist my bag on my shoulders and walk past the small temple. There is a lone man standing outside, praying. He had both his hands above his head in a respectful gesture and seemed oblivious to the world. He had lots of oil on his hair and it was neatly brushed back, the red dot on his forehead mingling with his sweat. The temple was at a crossroads, and he was standing in the middle of the narrow street. I tried to siddle past, but I caught his attention. He stopped mid-prayer and let out a long whistle, craning his head to look at me as I walked past. Come on, I'm not THAT hot.

I was about to turn around and let him have a piece of my mind, mostly on the sanctity of worship, when there broke out a cacophony.The chickens from the butcher shop on the opposite side of the road had gotten out of their old, rusted box and were running up and down the road. The butcher and his boy started running too, the boy mostly for the fun of it. One chicken ran up to me and started nibbling at my shoes. Another started to shit about two feet away. I walked away fast.

I passed the church. I have come here several times with Grandma. It'a a quiet and unpretentious place. I don't stop though. It was a long journey and I'm almost there. I turn the bend and almost get knocked over by a cow. It was shitting too. Pang in the middle of the road. What is it about my country and animals shitting in the middle of the road. Indians abroad always laugh at the question frequently asked to them, "Do cows run on the road over there?" and they answer with an indignant "No!". In a way, that is true. The cows don't exactly run, they jus loll about, chillin'. Sometimes they have conferences too, mostly on highways. Funny as hell, except when you're in a hurry. We are a cow country. And big on chicken too.

The old Christian Mission school comes up on the left. It used to be a big deal once, funded by a lot of white people from Europe and the Americas. You were cool if you went there. That was two generations ago, though. Now, most of those people are dead, and their children couldn't care less, what with recession and mortgages and all. The only kids who go there now are either too broke, too high or too retarded to care. The board announcing the school's name is so rusted, you can't read it. I let out a sigh. There are lot of things I'd change if I had the money.

I reach the gate of my grandma's house. It's always been "grandma's", though grandpa lives there too. Dunno why. I say hello and walk straight to the fridge and drink a lot of cranberry juice. It's supposed to be good for her cancer. It's nice to be here again.

January 19, 2009

Notes From My Mobile

These are some random lines that I stored in my cell at various points in the last two years. I felt they were important enough to remember each time. The stuff in brackets are the explanations.

He felt real anger at the way I was degrading myself. He's a good friend.
(On Ashton, who is always there, getting really pissed and sulky when I do crazy shit.)

I'm the kind of girl who waits with her phone in her hands and her fingers on the green answer button for that one call she knows will never come.
(Self-analysis, after indifferent rejection by some guy whose face I don't recall anymore)

When life gives you lemons, just say fuck the lemons and bail.
(from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?)

I wanna say to her, shut up you pragmatic piece of shit. Let's be lazy and careless and awful. And totally, shockingly rude and disgusting for once.
(This is for Aura, she drives me up the wall with her righteousness. She stops me before I hit the roof and explode into curses, though. Usually.)

I can tell what you're thinking. I smoke weed so I know.

What you meant to me
Will eventually
Be a memory
(Linkin Park song - In the End. I don't like Linkin Park, but this rhyme sounds good and vaguely deep)

The ugliness finally seems to be really, that she could not see who she was.
(Profound end to a novel I will never write)

I have too much soul for most men to handle. They think I'm clingy, whiny and bossy but I burn, burn, burn all the fucking time. They cannot understand where all this uncomfortable energy is coming from. It's from my soul that just won't calm the hell down.
(Self-analysis, after learning that most men are NOT into moody sarcastic women who dress like homeless people)

Feel the rain on your skin. No one else can feel it for you.
(Song that plays at some point in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Uninspiring movie but this line struck a chord. I later found out it's from this song "Unwritten" by Natasha Beddingfield)

I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.
(Muhammad Ali. I saw it on a crush's profile.)

Drowning in a society where I cannot accept the rules.
(When I was called to the administrative office for breaking hostel rules a few more times than thought appropriate or decent. Screw that, I say)

Can I play with madness?
(From some Iron Maiden song. NOT a fan... far from it... but the line caught my attention when a friend was shrieking the words in my ear.)

I fell before
The guns of paranoia
To the smiling cold below
Here I lie unshaken
Over the scarlet glow
Cover me up
Then let me be
I wish to die alone
(Obviously composed while enduring great pain, but wounds heal even if scars don't go away)

I'm Okay, You're Not So Hot
(Title of some book. Haven't read it, but can't be better than the title.)

Fairy tales are make-believe.
(One of Snoop Dogg's very few sensible songs, Ups and Downs.
“There will be, ups and downs, smiles and frowns
Share with me, fairy tales are make believe”)

All we can do is keep breathing.
(Ingrid Michaelson's song Beyond the Pale/Keep Breathing. They play it in Gray's Anatomy when Burke ditches Christina at the altar and she's standing there in the empty apartment alone and weeping. This line plays over and over in the song. Very dramatic. Of course I cried. A lot.)

Love such big mistakes in your life.
(I was sitting in an auto and feeling very miserable over several recent fuck-ups when I saw this drawn in a bright pink on the back of another auto. It cheered me up to no end)

I need to run and not be scared. I need to face myself.
(Before a Pediatric exam I didn't study for at all)

When real people fall down, they get right up and keep on walking.
(Opal Mehta's line in that book by Kavya V. I loved the story, true in many Indian families)

They say that anyone can hold the world in their hands if they want to. But I don't want to. I usually just crawl under it and sleep. A heavy blanket is a good one.
(After over-sleeping and forgetting to turn up for yet another exam)

Mommy it's dark in here.
(From some artwork by a schizophrenic patient. It's supposed to be a child's cry. It always makes me miserable, the whole idea. Babyhood and childhood are usually amazing times. At least they were for me.)

Why does it look like night today?
Something inside's not right today
Why am I so uptight today?
Paranoia's all I got left
(I must really like Linkin Park subconsciously because this is yet another line from them. Good lyrics though, I must admit. I just hate all the screaming and the piercings)

Everyday a million dreams die.
(When I really really wanted to go for the all-you-can-eat pizza thing and it got over just the day before I knew about it. Messed up)

January 14, 2009

The Fine Art of Letting Go

Of course I'm talking about excretion, what else? It is such an important topic, I'm surprised at the lack of information about it except in my medical texts, and those are very technical and boring. Excretion, that is, micturating and shitting, are arts, learnt by years of experience and mistakes. Of course, the very act is easy, but the perfection, the skill required to take a good shit every friend, that knowledge is priceless. Back home, there are racks in the toilet where mags and book are stacked neatly for the use of any person on the potty. I was always disgusted at the idea of reading while letting it out. How can you? It's like trying to paint while playing a violin! This means that though it can be done, the joy of doing them is lost. So what are the basics for good shitting experiences? First, choose a quiet time of day. This is elementary, because too many people running around and yelling outside the door can disturb your biological rhythms. Next, seating yourself correctly is vital. Do it gently, after taking a deep breath. Do a little swirl in the air with your bum and then settle down. Exhale. Now gently, gently oh so slowly relax those anal muscles and let go. Do NOT get up unless the masterpiece is complete. Get up as gracefully as you sat down and do look over your art. Please do go now and practice. And give the credit where it is due. Thank you.

January 11, 2009

A bitterness

Not rotten
Just broken
Something inside
Is not quite

Petty desire
Eons away
Quickening step
And the magnets move

Late at night
Rest arrives
Never narcissistic
But pretty damn

Mirror mirror
Not you daughter
Can't make the cut
Others will have

Sunny evenings
Communion and beer
Chide so soft
Knows to be

Smashed core
An accident
Childish declarations
Don't want to feel

January 05, 2009

My Extra Dimension

I have severe alcohol poisoning. Last night was a night of drinking to get wasted. Vodka, rum, whiskey. We finished it all up. My stomach unpleasantly contracts and I kept throwing up even the little water I tried to drink. I lie in bed all day.

My friends call. Come eat something.

I eat my first meal in 24 hours. We ordered in.

I am silent today. I don't respond to the good-natured teasing like how I normally would. I feel quite content and extremely drained. I feel.. slow.

Have you noticed how she's not herself? She didn't yell even once. She didn't even roll her eyes. And, and look, she's not spilling any of her food. She's sitting like a lady.

No, they tell me as I mildly protest. You're different somehow today. It's like the neurons that normally fire so bloody fast and frenzied aren't.

Probably destroyed by the alcohol, I joke. They don't laugh.

You're not even feeling insulted. You're more like us today. You are normal today.

Normal. Am I normal? This is not normal for me.

Yes, but now you're normal like all of us.

All of them. Five other girls in the room. I study them quietly. All so different from each other. Intelligent, pretty, funny girls, each incredibly talented. They are all grouping themselves together. They consider themselves “us”. As against me.

Now maybe you'll actually have to study to pass. Maybe for once you'll fail and know how it is to study so hard and not remember during exams.

Don't say that, I reprimand. Quite gently. That's all. I realize I really am not being myself. I know how I would have reacted to that. I would have said, you're such a bunch of bitches. How dare you want me to fail? I'm your friend, you should be happy that I pass. Do you know how it feels to want to study but be unable to sit down even for ten minutes? There's so much more to life than these stupid exams. So much more. People are so made for so much more... we all are. Don't you get it?

I would have gone on and on, explaining stuff that they wouldn't understand, or didn't want to. But I stay silent today.

Maybe I have an extra dimension, I suggest. That just got ripped off with the excessive alcohol toxins in my brain.

That's what I've always thought, she blurted without thinking. I've always thought you had that additional dimension that made you so... so... I don't know... psychotic and quick and over-reacting. This is how it is for us. Life is really this slow. That's why we are not bored all the time like you are.

There is a pause, a dreaded silence, an expectation of a tremendously emotional outburst from me, the breaking of a dam.

My mind wanders.

I do have another dimension. It's not something that makes me smarter, though. It's this capacity to feel. To feel so much that it colors everything I do. To feel so much that I react violently to every situation, even my education, which doesn't seem to matter like it does to everyone else. My extra dimension. It interferes with every little part of my life.

One of my favorite things to do is put myself in the place of someone, anyone and actually know how it is to be them. Imagine for instance, being a girl of seventeen in the Victorian age. I imagine how my long dress would feel like. My legs would be constantly sweating of course, because of the yards of material around it. All the other girls would be sweating too. Everyone would sweat. There was no air-conditioning or fans. I'd imagine all the things I would say to my parents and my little sisters, and what my social rank would be. I imagine the balls, the handsome man everyone wants me to marry, but whom I'm completely unattracted to. I imagine being unhappy at a time when depression was unheard of, and definitely not for women. I imagine not being able to quiet my spirit by playing basketball or writing sad poems or bawling on the phone to startled friends. I imagine thinking, this is how women should be. We should suffer because that is how we are made. Then I get all sad and weepy, and lie crying for ages, when in reality I'm me, not this tragic maiden I made up in my head who lived so long ago. It's my special dimension acting up.

My friends are careful what they say to me. They measure every word because they know it means a very different thing to me. It means more than it does, more than it possibly could. If they tell me I'm unladylike when I drop food, they know to me, it is an insult to my very being. It is an insult to my childhood and my parents because it means they didn't bring me up well. It means they are cursing my life and its existence. They are saying, I wish your mom strangled you as a child so you didn't have to grow up to be so ungraceful. I will be up in an instant, raging and spitting foul language at them for no reason they can think of. My dimension is killing me.

After sleeping tonight, my neurons will probably regenerate and I'll be myself again. 

But today. 

Today, I'd like to say thank you to everyone for letting me be.

Today I'm normal.

Today, I'm not me.