Tuesday, September 28, 2004

How-To: Literary Poetry

“Love inevitably leads to sadness”
Now had the great poet known this

He would have become a poet,
A messiah of lost causes and hearts

At a tender age of eleven and three-quarts.
But it took another eleven years

And a bunch of pathetic failures
To drive-in and make him realize

That love is a deadly wiper that bites,
And no amount of wisdom and sagacity

Can be a fitting substitute for audacity.
And all this while the wicked raven,

With his usual propensity for planning
And propinquity with the fairer sex

And with his prolix verbosity, set out
On the preposterous task to bring an end

To the sad and miserable existence
Of the great un-rhyming poet:

Who had judiciously won the bet,
Of having used propensity, propinquity,

Prolix and preposterous in the same breath.
Little did he know that his own end was near

All he had to do was ask the poet to find
A small unassuming puddle of muddy water

And drown himself in it. Oh! The shame
Had the raven known the poet’s shame

Brought about by those to whom the raven
Had been very close (see propinquity),

His task would have been so much easier.
Now they rot together in hell till the end of eternity.

Only, the poet’s pain is more.

Going Cuckoo

I am extremely mad at myself. I am so mad, that I feel crazier than usual. At times like these I wish there was someone who could whack me and straighten that convoluted head of mine.

I solemnly pledge that in the future I’ll do everything according to the Rule of the Horrors. It is a simple theory, this Rule of the Horrors – before doing something which any self respecting Horror wouldn’t do (but which has to be done because of the inherent weakness of the heart and mind) think about what you would have said had someone else done that thing. If the reply is – ‘Dude! That is so gay.’ or ‘Man! That is so corny.’- don’t do it.

But everything is doomed and it is too late now. And to make matters worse I went ahead and got the worst haircut in the history of haircuts. My poor long hair is all gone now. Anguish, extreme anguish!

Other than that life is pretty good: lots of work, lots of sleep and good friends to give company. If only …

Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn;
Wire, briar, limber lock,
Three geese in a flock.
One flew east,
And one flew west,
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Death of the Great Poet

The day was dull
New thoughts entered his skull.

He took out his Deus-Ex-Machina,
Went down to the old cave of McKenna.

This is as far as he rhymed
His whole life now turned into grime.

The raven plummeted from the sky,
It was his prescribed day to die.

Out of the weird shades of blues
A lightning bolt was hurled by Zeus.

Struck by the mighty thunder
The poet was broken asunder.

He landed on a woman’s promiscuity
Apologized, and went away in a scurry.

The raven fell on his head
The claws formed a nice little Zed.

I am Zorro said the raven,
I’ll have your head shaven.

Spare my long dark hair,
Reconsider, be a little fair.

You are the mighty bird of the west
At least give me sometime to rest.

And so the poet went on and on
The poor raven grew very forlorn.

He couldn’t take this jabbering no more,
Decided that his wretched life was such a bore.

And so the raven committed suicide
Having considerably hurt the poet’s pride.

The poet died a few days later of common cold,
It had taken a toll on the poor blighter’s soul.

Now he rusts in peace in the depths of Valhalla,
Royalties from the poems, raking in the moolah.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Requiem for an Un-rhyming Poet in Less than Five Minutes

The problem with this world is that it doesn’t change,
The only thing that history has taught us is

That history repeats itself again and again.
Why is that? I have asked and will ask again.

Quite simple you see – the world does not change.
I look back with my mouth wide open

A fly enters and finding nothing interesting inside
Buzzes back outside to the never changing world.

But how can it be – I have seen the world change
In front of my eyes, eyes which have changed with

Your so called never changing world.
Aha!! It is only your eyes which have changed my friend

The rest of the world around you remains the same.
Haven’t your eyes changed along with mine –

I say to this condescending friend of mine
Oh yes they have changed but the world hasn’t.

And who is responsible for all this un-change
For that I’ll give you an answer you’ll hate:

It is the poets who do not rhyme that are the
Cause of all this misery, all this pain

They refuse to rhyme and be coherent
And make our lives more prosaic than

They ought to be. Death to these poets
I say – death, hang them by their

Toe nails and set the raven upon them.
Which raven, I ask, the one whose existence

Is familiar, matter-of-fact, pointless,
Prosy, unembellished, uninteresting,

I see you have acquired a new thesaurus.
Ah!! The very best there is – Roget’s.

Raven, Raven up in the sky
Why the hell don’t you die die die

Take this un-rhyming poet along with you
And burn in the depths of hell till you smell

Raven, Poet die die die
Go to hell and fry fry fry.

Rotting in hell – Anshumani Ruddra © 2004

Thursday, September 09, 2004

An Evening with the Alphabets

I have made two new friends recently. For the sake of convenience and anonymity I shall call them Alice and Bob. Now Alice is seventeen and Bob is eighteen and they have just started going to college. In a very short time both of them have endeared themselves to me and I look upon them with brotherly affection. They are quite naïve (probably because they are young) and have a lot to learn about the ways of the world and for some odd reason they think I am some kind of a wise old man (just shows how naïve they are).They are also madly in love with each other and for some odd reason I end up becoming the moderator in all their fights (and they fight a lot – perhaps it explains the ‘madly’ part of their love).

Some days back we were all sitting around in the bar of a very up town hotel with a number of other friends. Alice and Bob were on my left. A rather beautiful specimen of the fairer sex, Clarice, was sitting on my right and was jabbering away to glory with Dick (wonder why I gave him that name, maybe because he is one). Every now and then she would turn around, touch my hand and ask me whether I agreed with what she was saying. Since I wasn’t paying any particular attention to what she was saying (because I was busy checking out the butt of an Eleanor standing near the bar counter) I always replied in the affirmative. Watching Eleanor’s butt and answering yes-you-are-absolutely-right to Clarice was soon interrupted by the chipmunks on my left.

Alice was beating the shit out of Bob for having called her a bra-burning-feminist. Now I have been caught in this situation before where a girl was protesting that she was not a feminist. I also happen to know a thing or two about feminism.

The word has been degraded over the decades to a man-hating-children-hating-housewife-hating woman. This is probably due to the negative impact of the second wave feminism of the late sixties when some misguided women decided that the root of all inequality and all evil were men and women who wanted just to be mothers and housewives. But so strong was this movement (still is) that it overshadowed the feminists who were just asking for equal rights for women in all spheres of life. Sadly all feminists (even the ones who still like men and want to have families) are considered to be a part of the misguided feminists.

Some feminists are so deluded that they do not even accept the physical differences between men and women and want to engineer a society where everyone is the same. Thus, a few stories recently have been about schools removing urinals from the boy's bathrooms, and telling the boys they should piss sitting down, like the girls. This is to eliminate the sense of power that boys supposedly have in using their penises to direct urine where they wish. These Americans are absolutely crazy.

So I explained to the two chipmunks that ‘feminism’ wasn’t a profanity and the bra-burning never really happened (it’s an urban legend). Then I went back to admiring Eleanor’s butt and touching Clarice’s hand (by this time I had already downed a number of beers and was in full flow). I also noticed that Dick had lost his perpendicularity (if there is a word like that) to the ground. He was snoring peacefully in one corner.

Now the topic somehow shifted to mythology which happens to be home territory for me. Clarice wanted to know about Pandora. I was feeling quite high by now and was about to achieve one of those rare moments of absolute clarity. My thoughts were being coherently translated to words which were smoothly flowing out of my lips and I was getting higher because I had everyone’s rapt attention.

What followed was my usual comparison of all mythology (Greek, Roman, Indian and Biblical) and how there was this underlying theme running in all of them, that women were the cause of all misery on earth. Though we Indians worship women and consider them (Shakti) superior to even the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh we do have instances in our mythology where women caused strife. Kunti (mother of all Pandavs) for example could have stopped the Mahabharata had she told her sons that Karna was their elder brother. Yudhishthira when told the truth after the war cursed all womanhood with the inability to keep a secret - hence all the gossip. Helen a mere woman caused the Trojan war, Pandora opened the box given to her by the gods and released sorrow, disease and conflict and Eve decided to eat the forbidden fruit (essentially had sex) and got Adam and herself thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Humanity was also cursed with procreation (which isn’t really a curse) and women had to undergo labour pains as a result.

Now there were a lot of women in our group so I went ahead and said something on the lines of – but what are men without women, which brought a smile on Clarice’s face (I hadn’t noticed before, she had a dimple on her left cheek). Bob however was very excited about this whole women-being-the-cause-of-all-misery thing and was also a little drunk. So he went around and told every woman in our group that they deserved labour pains. Most of them forgave him for being young and foolish, but Alice went ahead and knocked the daylights (nightlights, maybe) out of him.

The evening went on like this and we all finally decided to call it a day around one AM. Clarice asked me if I could drop her at her house. I was more then happy to oblige and was looking forward to a long romantic drive in my car. Yeah but these things never really happen, do they. Alice and Bob had come to this party with me and I had to leave them as well. Both of them had sorted out their differences by now and were in a very lovey-dovey mood. They were also considerably drunk and couldn’t stand properly. So I dragged the two of them to my car and shoved them in the back seat. Clarice sat with me on the front seat and we started out.

The talk revolved around men and our apparent immaturity. Alice and Clarice were putting on a good offence and I was busy driving and Bob, well he was being himself and was shouting at the top of his voice that he was all grown up and was very mature. Suddenly Alice quipped that Bob hadn’t even bought his first pack of condoms. Now this was hitting below the belt and hurt Bob deeply. “Find a chemist, find a pharmacy immediately and I’ll show her that I can buy a pack of condoms”, shouted Bob.

Perhaps it was the booze; perhaps it was the fact that Clarice was looking at me with those pretty eyes and luscious lips; perhaps it was that by helping Bob I wanted to make a stand for the weaker sex (men, of course). So we went around the city, at that god forsaken hour, on a wild goose chase (rather a wild condom chase) in search for an open drugstore. It was wild; it was fun; it was extremely stupid.

We finally found one open. So Bob stepped out of the car to prove his manhood and fell down. I had to get out and carry him to the front door of the drugstore. “Wouldn’t you come in with me”, said Bob. I could imagine the Horrorz (Ravi, Suds and Nijith) saying –man that is sooo gay, two guys buying condoms. Gay or not I had to help Bob in picking up the last remaining shreds of his manhood. So we went in, me holding Bob, and stood there for sometime. Bob tried. He definitely did. “Can I ... err… can I … ahmmm … can I have some Chlormints.”

“Dumb ass”, I thought and gave him another chance. This was getting out of hand. The girls were sounding the car horn as if proclaiming their victory. Something had to be done. So I turned my back towards the car and told the chemist to forget about the chlormints and give me a pack of Kamasutra. This guy didn’t even bat an eyelid, as if this happened to him daily (it probably did). “Pack of 3 or 10”, he said. “Ten”, exclaimed Bob out of nowhere and looked up at me. I was getting very angry by now so I took the pack of 10, shoved it in Bob’s hand, handed over a 50 and didn’t even take the four bucks change the chemist owed me.

We went back to the car. Bob was now showing off to Alice: “Naaa na naaa na naaa, I got the condoms, I got the condoms”. Alice seemed very proud of him and they again went back to their lovey-dovey mood and before long I could see that they had dozed off. They looked very cute, like a pair of chipmunks. I laughed to myself. Clarice just said, “You are my hero” and gave me a peck (Dictionary – to kiss briefly and casually) on the cheek. We needed a drink and so decided to hit the bar again. That was one long memorable night. For the perverts - all I have is a peck on the cheek to remember the evening by, more on Clarice later.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


I have no roots. This never bothered me before, but it is something which has been weighing me down lately. I was never a religious person and thoroughly believe that religion is just opium for the masses - a way to channel their faith and give them something to believe in. I have also never been able to identify myself with any group based on region and language, which is probably a great thing but at times is disadvantageous. So I am trying to run a thought experiment in my head and elucidate this subject of roots.

I was born into a Brahmin family in the city of Bhopal (MP). Both my parents have Kashmiri roots but their families have been living in Punjab for generations. So for all practical purposes they are Punjabis. But because of my dad’s job they have lived away from the northern part of our country for majority of their married life. Hence we always speak Hindi/English at home and though I can understand a bit of Punjabi I have a hard time speaking it. Because of dad’s job we changed places regularly because in a bank each promotion is usually accompanied by a transfer. So over the course of my first eighteen years on this third rock from the sun, I changed eight schools.

The chain of places I have lived in is something like this: 1982–83 Bhopal, 1983-84 Itarsi, 1984-1988 Bhopal, 1988-89 London, 1989-1991 Bombay, 1991-1993 Mhow, 1993-1996 Bhopal, 1996-2000 Chandigarh, 2000-2002 Mumbai, 2002-2004 Hyderabad/Mumbai and 2000-present Chennai. The last four years while I have been living in Chennai and studying at IIT Madras my folks have moved a number of times.

Now I live in Chennai. Though I have spent a lot of time in Bhopal during three brief stints and have a lot of fond memories of the city and my schools, I have a hard time calling it home. I loved my brief stay in Hyderabad and thought that I could finally call some place home. That didn’t happen. Chennai is one city I truly love probably because IIT is here. I love my alma mater and it is perhaps the only place I can call home.

But the real problem is that though I have enjoyed living in so many cities and making so many friends, I have been unable to keep in touch with my old acquaintances. There are some people who I have luckily found because of the internet but there are hundreds of others who I’ll never see. Most of my IIT friends have gone abroad or have taken up jobs. They will eventually get over IIT because they will make new friends and their new life will keep them busy. I on the other hand decided to become a writer and continued to stay here in Chennai. Although I have lots of friends here, I have had a tough time getting over my IIT friends. But well that is a different story.

At a very young age I started liking English and soon it became the language in which I thought. Even my dreams now are in English. It is the only language in which I am able to express myself (and IIT lingo of course). In some ways this lack of roots and any kind of lasting association with a region has made me the person I am. I remember writing in my CV that I have excellent interpersonal skills and I am as extrovert as they get. This is quite true. I am able to make friends with anyone I want to and am not hindered by language/region. But on the other hand I don’t have the qualities (good/bad) which an archetypal north Indian or south Indian would have. Hence I have never been able to identify myself with any such group. I am a misfit in more ways than one. But I have been lucky enough to meet people who liked me for what I was and accepted me into their lives. To all those friends – thank you. Home is where your friends are.