Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That Was the Week That Was

I have condensed the last three weeks into one+. So the Tuesday following the Monday need not be the same good old Tuesday. It never is.

Saturday: Gave the IELTS at the Residency Towers (right opposite Bike and Barrel). Reached the test centre half an hour early. Irresistible urge to down a couple of beers. Resisted. Some how. Test - complete snooze fest. Slept off for ten minutes during the Reading Section. Found the Writing Section tedious. After test drank 2 beers in 5 minutes and left. Saw Sub (don’t know her name) for the fourth time this week. She brushed past smiling.

Sunday: Woke up late. Went for the Speaking Section (interview) at Residency Tower. Talked about neighbours and happiness. Interviewer was this nice middle aged woman. Enjoyed myself for a change. Was generally excited. Wanted a tour of fantasies – so decided to meet the fab-four (they are not a group, different girls). To my amazement saw all of them. Sub at Subway. Usual flirting on the lines of ‘are you stalking me?!’ Much laughter. Exchanged numbers. Decided to meet sometime. Saw N (she looks hot with those spectacles). Met U at gym (realised gym has not been a good socializing place in the past). U has bad habit of flexing and exposing in the men’s area (in retrospect it isn’t a bad habit). Forgot about completing fantasy. Evening went out with good old Ra-to-the-power-2. He’s always good company. Found M at Zara. Was amazed and astonished. Universe has been looking out for me. The fantasy was carried out. Spent night thinking about the complete inter-connectedness of things.

Monday: Wrote a parody of Woody Allen’s The Whore of MENSA. Happy with the result. Evening went for a play reading at house of Ra3. Partied afterwards at the same place. Met some interesting people. One called D was quite enchanting. She left early. Good old Ka, Ra1 and Ra2 (different from Ra-to-the-power-2, have decided to call Ra2 – the artist formerly known as Richard – he was pleased) proved good company as usual. Left at 2 AM.

Tuesday: Slept all day. Realised that I poke people with my big toes when drunk. Use it as a method of communication. Found the reasoning behind this bacchanalian habit interesting. Wrote down these observations for future use. Saw some TV.

Wednesday: I don’t like the middle of the week. A very confusing time. Edited over five thousand words. Don’t remember much else.

Thursday: Met Ra3 at Amethyst. Had lunch and talked. Saw a group of girls on the adjacent table. Memorized one of them. Vivid image. Struck by her eyes. Evening went for King Kong premiere. Peter Jackson is a genius. Andy Serkis should be nominated. The movie should earn $ 2 Billion. Movie has shot straight to my top 5. Decided to stop at Hi-Look for bread-omelette. Met old friends. Felt good. Went home. Wrote all night.

Friday: Bad morning. Felt tired. Had to go judge an event some place. Event was starting late. Had three black coffees. Pain in back started. Event was good. Memory from previous day materialised herself next to me for about two hours. Those eyes. Felt inspired. Felt a fever coming on. Back was in bad shape. Did something foolish. Would regret next day. Still went home and wrote for six hours. Then died. Well almost. Slept for the longest possible time.

Saturday: Slept all day. Evening met the tribe (may we flourish). Told them about Eyes. Told them about foolishness. Was chided and made to feel guilty. ‘Dude! Expected you to act with greater finesse’ So did I. Went home and slept some more.

Sunday: Met the tribe again. Have realised that a good ol’ self destructive streak would be fun. Feel like a stubborn kid who always wants the forbidden candy. A strange evening. Weird confessions from everyone around.

Monday: Wrote a lot. Carpal tunnel syndrome about to strike. Have taken a decision. Need the Universe (as usual) to assist.


Finished Reading:
The Pythons Autobiography by the Pythons
A Book of Illusions – Paul Auster
Freakonomics – Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner

Was there a point to all this. May be!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fiction: The Kiss

She had made fun of me the first time we met.

The acerbic words, the colourful and often (more like always) hurtful diatribes I am now known for were missing in my repertoire back then. It was a time, when once I had found out that the female of the species Canis Familiaris is called a ‘bitch’, had found it exceedingly funny and decided to christen everything I met on my way back from school by the same name, my mom had put a little red chilly powder on my tongue and warned me that if I ever called a woman that she’d disown me.

She had made fun of me and I had remained silent.

I was four years old and she was about three years older and four fingers taller than me. She could have easily taken me.

She had made fun of me and I would have done the same if I were in her position.

You see, I still hadn’t mastered the subtle art of tying my shoelaces. I never really understood the whole ‘one little bunny goes over the bridge, hides below the hedge and is then pulled out by the evil witch’ bit. What the hell was a bunny doing on my shoes anyway?

She had made fun of me and then gone ahead and tied my shoelaces.

We had become friends instantly. And we were inseparable. We were together when I lost my first tooth, when she and I learnt to ride a bicycle, when her parents split, when she had her first period (the oddest day of my life so far), when Jurassic Park came to the theatres, when she was asked out on her first date …

And then my parents decided to move to a different city.

We were sitting on top of the water tank on my terrace (our favourite place). We had not spoken for over an hour. We just sat there looking at the houses around us, the play ground where we had learnt to climb trees together and our old school in the distance. We didn’t look at each other. We didn’t want to cry.

My mom called out from the driveway. They were ready to leave. I said I’ll be down in a few minutes.

I looked at her. And did something I had never expected to do. I kissed her, kissed her for the longest possible time. But something was amiss. She wasn’t responding. Her lips weren’t moving. I kissed her harder, pulled her closer to me. Nothing. I only withdrew when I felt her tears on my cheek. Her face was expressionless. She didn’t say anything.

My mom called again. I stood up in a daze. Said goodbye. She still didn’t say anything. I stood there for a moment and then climbed down the stairs.

On the way to the airport I did not speak to anyone. All I could think about was her. Had I done something wrong? Had I destroyed the only friendship which meant anything to me? Had I …

I was fourteen years old. And that was my first kiss.


I was waiting for her on the airport. We hadn’t met or spoken to each other for almost ten years. She had found me through the internet. She was going to be in the city for a few hours.

I was moving around impatiently in the waiting area, the least bit interested in the cricket match coming on the television. A man walked up to me and inquired about the score and then went ahead and gave me a lecture on the importance of the coach and the captain. I nodded and smiled, appreciating his knowledge and depth of the game, while all the time wishing that he’d find a small unassuming puddle of muck and drown himself in it.

Somebody tugged at my sleeve and turned me around. And before I knew it I was being kissed, kissed passionately. It was her. And we were kissing. She drew me closer and we went on kissing. We stopped when we heard a loud applause. It wasn’t for us. India had won the match and people were celebrating. We laughed. The way we used to. I picked up her luggage and arm-in-arm we left the airport.

“That was how I should have kissed you all those years back” she said as we were getting in my car. “I hope I made up for it”

“More than you’d ever know” I replied and smiled.

We spent the next three hours driving around the city remembering the old days and talking about the present. She works for a top NGO. She is happily married. Plans to have a baby in the next few years.

Just now I left her back at the airport. All the guilt that had built up over the last ten years has been swept away. I have regained a good friend. And I can look back fondly and say - that was my first kiss.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Chubichawa Podcast 01

I finally took some time out of work and decided to record my very first podcast (audio). If all goes well then I’ll probably be able to make it a weekly show. The wonderful people at the Internet Archive are hosting the podcast. Visit my podcast page here. The audio is available in various formats (I recommend the 64 Kbps MP3 recording – 4.4 Mb). I have used this amazing sound editing software called Audacity (open source, hosted by sourceforge.net). This first podcast is a potpourri of some stand-up comedy pieces, old song recordings, a reading of one of my short stories and a review of the new Harry Potter film. It’s just over 9 minutes in length.

I had the sniffles the last few days and had a little trouble breathing so my voice wouldn’t be its usual clear resonant self. I suggest listening to the podcast in the privacy of your room or with headphones on. This stuff is not for the faint of heart or for parents and younger siblings. Comments and feedback regarding the format and suggestions for new material are welcome. I suppose it will only get wackier with time. Prudes offended will by now know where to shove their self-righteousness.

The download link

Monday, November 14, 2005

Time Capsule

Forbes has come up with an excellent idea for an email time capsule. This is the email I wrote to myself. I shall receive it after 3 years.

Dear Anshu

You know how I (you?) find it extremely difficult to write the first line. Whether it’s a short story, a play, a poem (remember you used to write those free-verse poems in under five minutes – they usually involved a raven and a dead poet … I hope those two have now become your most famous and enduring creations), a text message or a letter like this one, I always struggle with the first few words. So much depends on the beginning; it defines everything which comes before and everything which will come after it. The first line is like a first kiss (and even though we know that things only start looking up after the third kiss – once you have figured your way around the shape, structure and style of the woman’s lips, tongue and the inner sanctum of her beautiful mouth – the first kiss usually seals the fate).

Damn! This is difficult.

Let’s be analytical about this thing and break it up into sections.

This is where your life stands on 14th November 2005

My (Your) Belief System

Just cause you're hung like a moose doesn't mean you gotta do porn.
-- Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

What’s Up with You?

You are working on another novel (which one got published first?)
You are planning to move to UK.
You are single and ready to mingle but not actively mingling.
There are too many mosquitoes in your room.
You only hate one person with all your being (did you ever forgive that evil frigid cow?)

Recent Happenings

You realised you are not always right about others (you can also get emotionally hurt in a gym – oh! And you have recently figured out that you can get emotionally hurt).
Your already weak faith in arranged marriages is completely shaken.
You judged dramatics in IIT.
Babe (also known as Death and in certain quarters Piggy) has published his first research paper. It’s an elegant review of Strain Field Calculations in Embedded Quantum Dots and Wires. You brag about it to anyone who’d lend you their ears willingly (or unwillingly) and you are so proud of your boy that your heart might explode any minute now.
Vintage Suds just duped his prof and packed his MS thesis project and joined a job.
The Hawk is working his arse off (ok he is just working) in Houston.

Your Short/ Long Term Aims

Publish! Publish! Publish!

What Were You Thinking Before Writing This

You were thinking about the word Anonymous. You were remembering how in kindergarten a teacher told you that Anon was a famous poet who wrote a lot of poems. Dad then told you the correct meaning of the word and you had blasted the living intellectual lights out of the teacher’s head. Even today you are an egoistic bastard and you are proud of it (for your sake I hope you are; I warn you I’ll go medieval on your arse if you are not).

Then you were thinking that you had recently come across a blog (by accident) which seemed to belong to the anonymous poetry lover (Anon1) who left beautiful comments on your blog. You are 93.7% certain, but since you want to maintain the veil of mystery that surrounds your interaction with Anon1 you have decided not to revisit her blog.

There is also an Anon2 (who doesn’t like you by the way). You are not entirely certain whether Anon1 and Anon2 are different people. Anon2 likes to leave scathing personal remarks about you. She also brings out the one quality in you that you hate as well as crave the most. Your anger (an outcome of your tickled ego – it cannot really be hurt, your ego that is) results in such an amazing outpour of words (which are very caustic in nature, mind you) that they destroy everything in their way. There is however the stamp of ingenuity on them, the mark of superiority, which you want all your words to carry. It’s a shame that anger is your greatest creative catalyst.

You were also thinking about ZZ. She hasn’t mailed you in a long time and you don’t really expect her to. You don’t really expect anything from her. But you would like an occasional line or a reason for her withdrawal.

You were also extremely hungry and were about to have a midnight snack.

I hope your life is chaotic and you don’t dream too often. That’ll happen only if you fall asleep when you are dead tired or when her (the tall, slim, 34 D hot intellectual’s) embrace is irresistible.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Life Aquatic with Long Legs Obsessed Man

* Life came full circle when I was invited to judge the inter-hostel dramatics competition in my alma mater IIT. The last time I was on that stage I was taking my clothes off in front of a capacity crowd and the audience was admiring the chequered boxer-shorts I had specially purchased for that play. Needless to say that was the most fun I have ever had performing. This time around a fully-clothed-me was up on stage describing how I used relative grading (the curse of my IIT life) to decide the winners. All the eight plays were extremely entertaining and overall standards were very high. They actually used lights and sound effects!

* Three crazy weeks of writing and reading. Writing output has reached new heights. And reading – ah! Been reading some wonderful stuff –

Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear – Walter Moers
One Night @ the Call Center – Chetan Bhagat
The Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) – Dante Alighieri
The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
The London Pigeon Wars – Patrick Neate
Marvel 1602 – Neil Gaiman and others
City of Glass (graphic novel version) – Paul Auster
Most of Will Eisner stuff
Most of Sin City by Frank Miller
The Far Side (7 volumes) – Gary Larson
The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller and others
Tons of other graphic novels

Finally the backlog of books to read is reducing. Another ten days and I’ll be out of the red (read?!).

Social life – zero, zilch, non-existent!!

* Paid a visit to the newly relocated Odyssey. And then went to Landmark. The Universe was in a mischievous mood today. First I bumped into a young lovey-dovey couple who were busy necking in the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy section. Personally I believe libraries and bookshops are highly romantic places. And I am all for public display of affection. So I gave them a little space and moved away. But why, why did the chap have to go ahead and crack that dialogue to his girl – “Relax... A hickey from Kenickie is like a Hallmark card”?

Grease?! You dolt, you are in a bookshop for crying out loud. You are surrounded by beautiful love inspiring words. And you come up with Grease. I shot a glance at the girl which conveyed both my disappointment and commiseration.

I moved over to the graphic novel and comic book section. I was looking through Bone – Jeff Smith’s hilarious 1300 page collection of the adventures of Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone. Two girls were standing near me looking at the Indian Writing section. Even though I had my back (they could probably see my profile) towards them I could feel one of them boring through me with her eyes. It felt like ants were crawling down my back. So I turned around and faced them.

A short scrawny 18-something girl was standing with a tall (very) stunning enchantress. Contempt, hatred and loathing for my very being were tightly packed together in an unwavering look from the short one. I have drawn some sharp reactions from people in the past but this was the oddest of them all. And from a stranger who I could have squashed under my foot? Never!

Now I should have been thinking about an appropriate expression for my face. But somewhere the Tall Girl Alert had been activated in my brain and all thought processes had ceased. Instead of looking at the little one I was staring at the tall one. After a few seconds I realised I wasn’t blinking. Luckily she spoke and reactivated my brain.

What book is that?

It’s called Bone. It’s a graphic novel.

What is that?

I told her. For the next 10 minutes I introduced her to Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman and Japanese Manga. She decided to purchase Bone. And then the little one pulled her away and I got a call from a friend. She waved and left. Damn! I didn’t even ask her name or take a number. And she had long slender legs which seemed to go on and on. Cruel, cruel world! Gave me a taste of forbidden ambrosia and then snatched it away. Sniff!

* Read on someone’s blog that they were having a bad hair week. It seems like I have been having a bad hair year. It’s because of the frequent haircuts. I should go back to the 3 cuts a year policy. Life was so simple back then.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fiction: The Thrill of the Chase

Winning a woman’s heart is like a conquest. Once she has fallen in love with you she is no better than a trophy hanging on a wall above the fireplace – a fond reminder of a successful kill. The thrill of romance is in the chase - approaching her, breaking the ice, getting her to agree for the first date, wining and dining her, slowly making her fall in love with you – that is the chase. Every time she looks into your eyes she sees the future, she sees what she can become because of you. Promises are made, which in the heat of the moment come from the bottom of your heart. You leave no stone unturned in winning her. You make her feel special. Each meeting is an improvement on the previous one. Finally the relationship becomes a series of dates – fantastic but meaningless. Were you just trying to tame a wild beast, trying to prove to yourself that you still got it? You wonder.

The realization slowly sinks in. You don’t love her, never did. You loved what she represented – a big fat kill – a challenge that you accepted and won. You call her. Tell her ‘We have to talk’. You make excuses.

It’s not you, it’s me.
I have fallen out of love.
You deserve someone better.

Your mind is concocting stories, coming up with lies faster than you can think. She just sits there dumbfounded, hardly able to believe what she’s listening. You walk away, leaving her behind in tears. You are oddly relieved, even a little happy. You justify your every action to yourself. It was for the best, you say. But guilt slowly creeps its way into your heart. You need a break. You cut yourself from the rest of the world, immerse yourself completely in work. A month goes by. Your conscience is now clear.

You are out partying with your friends. You spot someone dancing. You like what you see. Her every move is irresistible. Your eyes regain that lost spark. Your friends catch you eying her. They spur you on – go for it dude! They make jibes – she’s out of your league! ‘Want to make a small wager out of it’ you tell your friends.

You walk over to her table. Make a witty remark about the music. She and her friends laugh. You ask her for a dance then make fun of your own dancing abilities. You stumble. She laughs. She helps you out with a few moves. You are a fast learner. Now you show her a couple of your moves. She is amazed. She claps. ‘You tricked me, you are a great dancer.’ You laugh your easy laugh, the one which makes everyone around you comfortable. The two of you keep dancing – your bodies getting closer with every passing minute.

You bring her back to your table. Introduce her to your friends. They salute you – their way of accepting defeat. Her friends also join your group. Everyone seems happy, smiles all around. You are the master of your domain. You are the focus of everyone’s attention. She notices it. She has a twinkle in her eyes. She looks at her friends. Nods, smiles, pinches, winks all indicate –

We love him!
He’s a catch.

She takes your hand in hers. You look at the hands and then you look into her eyes. Both of you smile. When no one is looking you steal a kiss. She is shocked, but feels an exhilaration she has never felt before. She clasps your hand tighter.

You look up. A new group of girls is entering the pub. They look familiar. You knew them once, used to hang out with them. It dawns on you. It’s her. The fat one enters first, followed by the talkative one being badgered by the smartass and then her.

Did someone turn the music off? There is silence everywhere. You look around. Everyone’s lips are moving. You can see a flurry of activity around you - the pitcher of beer falling on the neighbouring table, the waiters running towards it, the girl next to you talking to her friend, her hand still wrapped in yours. But you can’t hear a word. The silence around you is deafening. ‘What is wrong with me?’

You snap out of it. All your senses come back. You excuse yourself – make a joke about going to the little boys’ room. They all laugh. Why do they always laugh at that one? You wonder. You walk out. You see her and her friends being escorted to a table on the other side of the room. They haven’t noticed you.

She is smiling. But it looks forced. She hasn’t been out in a while. Her friends are trying to cheer her up. She is still not over you. She is still not over you? You walk out of the pub, head towards the men’s room and splash some water on your face.

You know what has to be done. You walk out, enter the elevator and push the button for the terrace. There are people all around you. They are dancing to some loud music. You walk over to the parapet wall and sit on it with your feet dangling outwards. You feel the wind in your face. You breathe in. You apologize – apologize for every heart you have ever broken. You close your eyes. You are calm. And then it happens.

Actually a number of things happen simultaneously – 37 to be precise. That particular spot on the parapet wall is actually a worm-hole, a gateway (more like a back door entry) to the rest of the universes. Oh yes! And there are 37 of them. You fall into all these 37 universes at the same time. But the outcome is different in all the cases. Here are some of them:

- You decide to jump. You are smashed to a pulp after falling twelve floors.

- You decide not to jump. As you are about to get off the wall some idiot bumps into you and you are smashed to a pulp after falling twelve floors.

- You walk back to the pub and apologize to the first girl. Then you go back to your table and live happily ever after with the second girl who loves holding your hand.

- You finally come out of the closet.

So what happens to you?

Monday, October 10, 2005

55 Fiction

Here are my humble attempts at 55 Fiction. Read this for details on this art form.


Tom, the Deviant, in Heaven

Voyeur! You are calling me a voyeur. You blinded me for something you have been doing all your life – invading people’s privacy!

Taxes! It wasn’t the taxes.
She likes horses, likes riding them all over the city – naked. Stark naked! She is a freaking nudist. And you punished me. Blighter!


A 6-year-old girl, Emily Kent, darted into traffic in Fort Myers, Florida, to save a turtle and was killed when she was hit by a car on Sunday, officials said.

I was taking a shortcut. The hare had been winning the race for so many years.

I wanted to win just once. I’m sorry Emily.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Monkey on a Wire

The first girl I ever loved (more like one-sided devotion in the beginning, cherry popping for both in the middle, ‘We’d live happily ever after’ near the end and ‘goodbye and thanks for all the amazing mind-boggling sex’ eventually) is getting married next year to her boyfriend of three years. I didn’t get the news straight from the horse’s mouth (oh and what a heavenly horse she was), but from the horse’s chuddy-buddy (who has finally blossomed in her 20s, Seabiscuit indeed). Melancholy is hiding somewhere in the deep recesses of my heart waiting to ambush the I-don’t-care-I’ll-get-someone-better-than-her bravado which lurks in my mind.

The affair started at a time when the first sign of manhood was sprouting all over my face and slowly morphing into a thick dark stubble. O what a stubble! I never wanted to shave, just wanted to grow really old and have a long flowing white beard in which bread-crumbs would get stuck. I wanted to be like Gandalf the Grey – chasing dragons and working with dwarfs to find a hidden treasure.

This was a time when I had never heard of the word humility. I was arrogant as hell and drunk on my intellectual prowess. I was ambitious and aggressive and a complete orifice in the posterior.

She changed all that – changed me for the better. And I changed her. It was like ‘Taming of the Shrew’ where we each took turns playing Katherine. Two years it lasted and then fizzled away. I finally understood what Eliot meant in The Hollow Men –

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

The news of her getting hitched made me take a long hard look at all my affairs (of the heart and of the skin). And boy there are a lot of them! I realised that she was the only one ever who truly anchored me to reality. With a fertile mind like mine I had always preferred the world of my imagination over reality. But she proved to me that there were things even Chubby (her nickname for my mind - the size of a football field) couldn’t imagine. And she was right, as usual. But she left. And Chubby came back to haunt me.

Since then I have been trying to find other anchors. Maybe I found better anchors, but let them slip away as they didn’t live up to my expectations, which thanks to Chubby are very high. I realised that I was suffering from the Archie complex. The Betty Coopers of the world have been around me, but I have been desperately trying to find my Veronica Lodge.

I realised what true love is all about. It’s about mutual co-dependence. When each other’s presence in our lives is as crucial as the air we breathe, then we are in love. As usual the truth dawns, but a little too late.

Ah! Enough mush for a day. Need to go indulge in some bacchanalian revelry. This is a picture some IITian took. Found it in some old folders so decided to put it up.

Friday, September 30, 2005

From Across the Room

Ben stood in a corner, drink in hand, leaning against the wall. As he slowly took the room and its occupants in with his eyes they revealed their deepest most intimate secrets.

From across the room Tess was trying to uncover his secrets. His eyes seemed to be hopping around the room like a bird, settling down for a moment and then flitting away. Those eyes – there was something about them. They would light up with the child-like excitement of discovery and then surge with the sadness of a bleeding heart. Guilt from betrayal would creep into them and then get pushed aside by the promise of love. But were they his emotions or simply reflections upon the stories he was gathering with those wandering eyes?

Ben could feel her eyes on him. They were searching for something. They needed an answer. He looked straight into them and replied.

Now they both knew.
They understood.
They felt.

It was late. The party was coming to an end.

He left alone.
She left with her husband of nine years.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Truth about Adam and Eve

Any generic statements towards/for a group should be read as a statistical fact (anomalies in the form of exceptions always exist). The truth behind many such statements exists at a subconscious level.

* I am a firm believer in evolution. Civilization has so far failed to extract the animal out of us. Most of our thinking and decision making stems from our primal instincts. Human physiology also has a part to play. Think about it – there are species where the female is larger than the male (the black widow comes to mind) – yet the human female is shorter than the male. Check yourself (if you are a man) the next time you are in close proximity to a woman. You will find yourself taking a whiff from her hair. A very primal reaction (similar to dogs sniffing each other) – you are trying to detect the pheromones being released from the woman’s head. Scientists agree that this is the reason why women are shorter than men. An ancient biochemical mating sign – the pheromone. We have largely lost our ability to detect it, but the next time you find a house pet making its way towards your crotch – remember that’s another place where pheromones are released.

The point I am trying to make is this – most animal behaviour is dictated by survival in the form of procreation – finding the perfect mate. And I believe that all, yes all, human behaviour is also dictated by this very need. So next time you are confused about why your girlfriend/boyfriend acted the way she/he did – it’s the animal instinct.

* Women believe that a man’s ability on the dance floor directly corresponds to his prowess in bed. Dancing lessons are the key – tango, mambo and salsa – the passport to relationships. When you dance well with a woman, you not only make an impression on her, but on every other woman on the dance floor. Take it from me – in a club or a disc – they are all looking out for the one who can dance.

* In a crowded place (like a bar) never approach a woman who is not dressed for the occasion. The only reason she isn’t made up is because she doesn’t want to be asked out (‘What is she doing there then?’ you will ask. Eating a table full of food alone is the answer. Believe me, I have seen it). Forget all the crap about ‘one should wear good clothes to make one feel good inside’. Women dress up so that everyone (men and women) sit up and take notice.

* What about cleavage? Jerry Seinfeld warns us that looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun; you look for a moment and then look away. Stare too long, and you’ll be blinded. There are only two reasons why a woman would wear a revealing dress – she has no sense of fashion (bless the universe for that) or she wants you to assess her assets. Take a good long peek – down the periscope. Don’t be shy. But be discrete. Somewhere subconsciously she either loves it or thinks that you are a complete freak. Another Seinfeld brain nugget – Men like breasts, women like shoes.

* Most surveys say that a good sense of humour in a man is the top quality in every woman’s wish list. More crap! The real list goes something like this – big broad shoulders, firm ass, money/plastic in the wallet. And then comes the sense of humour we all have been trying to cultivate since the day we were born.

* Chivalry is not dead. At least women don’t want it to be dead (well not completely). They might insist on sharing the bill, but they’d still like you to open the door for them and give them a helping hand without their asking for it.

* Most women don’t like metrosexuals. Allah be praised! Kill the bloody metrosexuals!! Any man who can spend 5 hours in front of the mirror doesn’t deserve to live. So yeah, take care of your health, look good, wear clean clothes, but please, for crying out loud – no makeup. Being sensitive is one thing, being able to listen to a woman jabber on and on is one thing, but knowing more brands of cosmetics than your girlfriend – not cool.

* One would think that everyone would like to be in love. Not true.

* Stay away from women who worked for a poorly printed newspaper (you know the one … I’ll give a hint – Indian Express) and changed over to a news channel notorious for cooking up news items (all of them do that – but it’s Aaj Tak). If you ever see her in public make the sign of the cross with your fingers and run for your life shouting ‘The evil bitch is here! The evil bitch is here!’ Then go home and pray that she and her entire family rot in hell after having drowned in a small unassuming puddle of muck.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


This post is the result of a comment someone left on my blog a long time back. Miss your comments Unknown.

As we grow old we tend to lose interest in things which earlier meant a lot to us. Interests change, priorities change and some of us tend to become more focused (others like me continue existing in a chaotic mode, aiming for a gazillion goals at once). This post is a form of therapy for me, a kind of an internal review.

Passions Past:

Programming, Gadgets, the Works – I started programming when I was 8 years old. And I wrote code regularly till the age of 21. One of my most enduring friendships is a result of my shared interest in computers with my friend Rahul. I loved the anticipation just before a program was getting compiled. The ‘error free’ status was almost orgasmic. Though I have written code in most of the popular languages, C and Perl will always have a special place in my heart. I fondly remember the good old high school days, the long nights writing thousands of lines of code. I was a nerd and I am proud of it.

But somewhere down the line I got tired of it all. I haven’t done any coding in almost two years. Miss the smooth motion of my fingertips on the keyboard sometimes. 13 years is long enough. Computers were my first love, my first mistress. Maybe I still am a nerd.

Passions in Hibernation

Women! Women!! Women!!! Women!!!!
Need I say anything else?


Enduring Passions:


On the Verge of being Passions:

Women (I am incorrigible)

Will keep adding to this list and keep it as a reference.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Three Burly Men, a Secretary and a Gutless Father

Just when your life is in a bit of a slump and you are hoping something good is just around the corner – bang – you are smacked on your face and told to rest your sweet old ass on the freaking oven in hell.

I have never felt so humiliated in my entire life. This has to be the Mariana Trench of sick stuff that should never happen to any self-respecting human being. What is wrong with some people? Why are people so bad at communicating what they really feel inside?

I have just been accused of harassing a girl and stalking her (OK exaggeration – the word used was ‘irritating’). Me? Of all the people in this world! And that to not by the girl herself, but by three thugs (short, ugly illiterate men with big paunches) and a rather polite secretary (male) of the girl’s father (the gutless character). This is disgraceful. I demand justice and retribution. I am pissed off. I have reached the lowest point of my existence and I don’t think life could show me anything lower. Yeah, so the matter was sorted out within minutes. But the cheek of it, it just infuriates me.

Is it so hard for someone to tell it to your face that they don’t like you? I have done it so many times, to so many people, at so many different occasions. Why is it difficult?

Aaaaarrgggghh! Disgusting! Shameful! Bring me a wall, anyone, please.

My dad seems to think there is a lesson somewhere in this. Yeah dad, there is. I just don’t know it yet. I’ll let all of you know when I find out. For now I need to go and dig my own grave.


What’s the best thing to do when you feel like breaking your fist into the wall – read Fight Club for the third time. It is like manna from the heavens. ‘Therapeutic’ that’s the word. Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favourite writers. So let me spread the mirth.

‘Guts’ is a short story by Chuck. People have been known to pass out and puke after reading this story. Read it here and enjoy. The grossest short story ever – a modern masterpiece.


On a happier note, Inu Yasha’s new episodes are coming on Animax again. Life is just about bearable. Or is it?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Who's Your Daddy?

From a 1939 Kane and Finger Batman story.

Sunday, July 31, 2005


The Advantages of being a Non-Vegetarian
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
What Came First - the Egg or the Chicken?

Laid golden eggs

Greedy man
Cut it up, found nothing.

Moral of story
Today’s special: Butter Chicken Masala

(c) Anshumani Ruddra, 2005

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Gospel According to Saint Ruddra

* Have you ever been in the presence of a woman, who is so beautiful, it hurts every time you look at her. And when words start pouring out of her mouth, every other sound in this world becomes part of a rich background musical theme which is being composed real-time (by Mozart, Alan Silvestri and John Williams all together) just for the two of you. When she walks into a room, every heart skips a beat and your heart actually stops working. You are dead even before your body hits the ground. But there is a smile on your face – the smile of contentment. You just died a very happy man – having seen the most enchanting creature on the face of this magnificent earth. Instant Nirvana!

Now you are thinking – ‘Next he is going to tell us about this woman. He is going to brag about how he sees her everyday, dies and comes back to life to see her all over again’

Naah! Suckers!

I am going to tell you this – I know two such women and I see both of them almost everyday. And each time I see them I worry about my heart – erratic heart-rate would lead to my death one of these days. There are days when I meet both of them. It hurts! It hurts! It hurts!

Between these two women, I think I have understood the entire gamut of feminine emotions and thinking patterns (at least of the ones who make your jaw drop to the floor and your tongue to roll out like a red carpet). Though both of them have the same effect on me (and when I say me, I mean my heart), they are poles apart and screw with my mind in completely different ways. But before I expound further on this matter here is the greatest pain-in-the-arse bitch-slapping who’s-your-daddy truth about life –

All the really really hot girls are dating complete losers-morons-mean-sons-of-warthogs who should drown themselves in small unassuming puddles of muck. And if they are not, that means they just broke up with one such guy and are waiting for another one of them to come along.

You beg to differ, do you? You know some really amazing woman who is not dating some, for the lack of a more appropriate word, chutiya. Then my dear friend, you have just witnessed a miracle of celestial proportions. Birds have crapped on me more than a dozen times, two coconuts have fallen on my back, a rock the size of a football has missed my face by a few inches on the Himalayas, and yet I have never witnessed this miracle.

Ok! I give up. I lied! I have witnessed it a few times (Hell! Some amazing women have dated me in the past), but it should be happening all the time. These women deserve much better men. Do you know why they never get them – because all us mature-brain-the-size-of-a-football-field-sensitive-caring types never approach them. We are either shy or lack confidence or have bad timing or are just plain old unlucky (like yours truly). And the scum of our kind approaches these women and whisks them away while we sit in front of computer screens and rant about it ceaselessly.

Back to the two women in my life (Ah! How I wish one of them actually was in my life). Though both are equally gorgeous, one knows it and the other doesn’t. The first one, let me call her Aphrodite, has probably dated a lot of losers. She is single now, but hurt and vulnerable. So she puts on a strong front and avoids all advances. She doesn’t want to get hurt again. She knows men look at her and fantasize. So she plays with them, tries to get her back. The foolish child wants to be in love but hates everyone who wants to be in love with her. I can understand what dear old Keats was thinking when he wrote – La belle dame sans merci – a beautiful woman with no mercy. I worry about her – engrossed all the time in work, no personal life. I have tried breaking her defences but failed.

The second one, I’ll call her Venus, does not yet know how beautiful she is. She is a little naïve and is still dating a loser who treats her miserably. She wants to break free but can’t. She can’t face the insecurity of not being in a relationship. As time will go by she’ll keep getting hurt, eventually becoming Aphrodite. I shed a tear each time I think of that.

I am trying to be a good friend to both of them – though Aphrodite keeps me at bay, where as Venus loves spending time with me. And I have a policy (a strange one, but I have adhered by it for a long time) – I never date buddies - too complicated; destroys friendships. My head hurts when I think of the whole situation. Even I don’t have the answers to everything.

Was there a point to all this – I am afraid not.

* In a few days time I’ll turn 23 (a prime number I like a lot; favourite of course is the greatest of all primes – 37). Between these two primes is a life I have yet to discover. This blog turned two (the first prime) a few days back. Around 50 posts, 40,000 words and over 25,000 hits. One of these days I should sit and read all the previous posts – see how my life has changed.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Unusually Usual Report

* They are all leaving, going away to that far off country – where the people are so dumb that George Bush got elected twice. We are all chasing our dreams, or in certain cases are being chased by our dreams (like yours truly). The Red-haired one left a few days back. The last Horror will soon leave. The final vestiges of any relationship with IIT will soon vanish. ‘Depressing’ is an understatement. But hey! As the cliché goes – life must go on. Adding salt to the wounds is the fact that I am finding it really difficult to make new friends – I am trying, but it simply isn’t working. Everyone likes me, or at least they used to. Now I just get on everyone’s nerves. Perhaps I am growing old and whatever charm I had is slowly fading away. The thought of not being surrounded by friends is painful. Then again, I can always turn to my dreams; it’s just that I don’t want to any more.

* I simply don’t know when to give up. I should learn to take a hint. Never been given a cold shoulder before (it’s happened once earlier, but that was just pathetic). The weird thing is, I don’t feel hurt – I just feel odd. Pride and arrogance tell me that there is no possible reason for anyone to ignore me. Or is there?

This is my punishment for being so easily amused and cheerful all the time – a good solid dose of depression. It’s definitely not helping the cause of writing. Neither is continuously thinking about the gorgeous older brunette.

* Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is releasing this Friday. I am so excited that I keep humming John Williams' background score after every five minutes. I am looking forward to the light-saber duels and the star-ship dogfights. And Yoda will fight again! Yippee!

Depression and excitement can go together – I am a stinking potpourri of emotions these days. I make myself sick.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Butter Chicken for the Allergic Soul

* I love chicken. I can eat it thirty-two times a day and still have space for some more. But my love for blood, murder, predatory appetite and primal savagery only extends to chicken. I cannot take pork, beef, lamb and I hate (that’s an understatement) sea food. Just think about this for a minute - where do fish crap? - In the water. Where do they live? - In the same freaking water. How can you eat something which lives along with its own crap? Ok! Ok! I know I am being biased, but I have a reason.

The reason, for one, is my ignorance and two, the following - Any of various marine cephalopod mollusks of the genus Loligo and related genera, having a usually elongated body, ten arms surrounding the mouth, a vestigial internal shell, and a pair of triangular or rounded fins.

If you are still guessing, here is a picture:

Even the fungus growing under the flower-pot in my balcony could have told me that I should stay away from anything which looks like that, has ten arms surrounding its mouth and is called SQUID. Yeah! You heard it - I ate squid and those Italians whom I love so much tricked me. How you ask? They couldn’t call the dish they prepared from this freak of nature - ‘Stay Quarantined Until It Disappears’. No! They had to call it bloody Calamari - such a harmless sounding name - people would have said in Hindi - ‘Kiski Mari! Calamari! Kiski Mari! Calamari!’ Well now they can shout out loud -‘Kiski Mari! Anshu Ki Mari! Kiski Mari! Anshu Ki Mari!’

I spent the third most uncomfortable night of my life after eating that crap. My face and body were so badly swollen that it looked like somebody with a real grudge had used a sledge-hammer on me.

Can’t you write on the menu that this dish is prepared from an organism which can grow anywhere between 5 centimetre and 18 metre (Yeah! Go check the encyclopaedia). Had you told me, I would have run so freaking fast that Forrest would have been proud of me (Little girl - Run Forrest! Run!).

Resolution: Stay away from sea food.

Observation: Yahoo! I finally have an allergy! I am so proud of myself! (You freak!)

* She doesn’t like movies! The moment I heard this, it felt as if the entire weight of the Himalayas had fallen on me. The world stood still and the next one second took a thousand years to pass. I, Anshumani Ruddra, had fallen for someone who doesn’t like movies. Disaster! Irony! The universe mocked me! My entire life flashed in front of my eyes.

And then, she smiled. Ah! That smile.

Who cares about the movies? It is the occupation of the bloody bourgeoisie. People have other hobbies. You will survive. She has so many more interesting things to say. She is so beautiful. She is so spirited. You are a pathetic sell-out. So what? When she laughs gravity disappears - you believe you are a bird - better still, you believe you are a Lockheed Martin SR - 71 Blackbird.

Hmmm ... Just because she dislikes motion pictures doesn’t mean you have to stop watching them. It’s just that your favourite topic of discussion no longer exists. You have other interesting things to say. There is more to you than just movies (Is there? Let me think - I am choking! * Al Pacino voice* - When the shit hits the fan, some people run and some people watch movies. Oh shut up!)

Final Analysis: The world doesn’t revolve around film aficionados. There still exist interesting people in this world who don’t like movies (from Ridley’s Believe It Or Not).

* I love poetry. I love reading it out loud. I love performing it. I love quoting it to others. I even like writing it. But here comes the problem - I suck at writing poetry. But hey, this is my blog! I can put up whatever I want. Read and weep, suckers!

This was written in 2 minutes 44 seconds in an on the spot writing exercise. The theme was - ‘One Way Ticket’

The Poet finally decided to call it quits.
His patience after all had been tested to the hilt.

He could not take this sundry life no more,
The whole bloody thing was such a bore.

The poison and the railway track did not work,
So he kissed the village nurse who was a complete dork.

He died of common cold the next day
Thus buying a one way ticket to hell, oh yay!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

A Question of Age

It’s happening all around me. I think about it in great detail and then try and forget about the whole shebang. But it comes back. What is ‘It’? ‘It’ is this sudden urge in guys I know to fall in love with women who are older than them. My position on this issue till a few weeks back was that of indifferent neutrality; not any more.

Let me quickly put down the few arguments which people give against this age disparity in love. Women mature faster both physically and mentally than men. Women start looking older much earlier than men as time progresses. These are the two most common arguments given by wiser, older and more experienced people in favour of the woman being a few years younger than the man in a relationship. Though the arguments are highly generalized they do make a lot of sense at a certain level and probably apply to the lowest common denominator in our species. But what if we are dealing with above average, well rounded and mature men and women? Age suddenly becomes irrelevant.

The rule-followers will now argue that a few months here and there may be alright but not more than that. So what age gap is acceptable? Few months, one year, less than three years, five years, ten years? Frankly, I don’t know. It depends on the guy and the girl in question. The only chink in the armour I can see is this – Companionship is about experiencing life together as a journey. A much older woman, (man single, 25; woman divorced, mother of one, 32) would have already completed a part of this ‘Journey’ and learnt valuable lessons from it. Agreed that every relationship is unique in itself, but still the joy of experiencing new things together is lost if one partner has already gone down that road before (sex is just a trivial issue here you perverts, ok it’s important but not that important).

I was recently responsible for convincing the parents of the 25 year old to marry him to the 32 year old. Guess what argument I used – They both really love each other, your son is a useless chap whereas she is a highly paid executive in a MNC, and your son is most probably impotent and will never be able to have children – this way you get a readymade grandson who will love you oldies a lot and if the couple is lucky you might be blessed with another grandchild. My powers of persuasion were probably at their best because they bought the whole thing.

It’s easier to argue for or against when one is an uninvolved observer. But what if one is involved? What if I, an intelligent, creative, mature and level-headed 22 year old writer, have a crush on a beautiful (read hot), talented and spirited 24 year old journalist? Now that, would be interesting!

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I am going to discuss the movie ‘Closer’ in detail, so all those who haven’t yet seen the movie and would like to see it, please avoid reading the following blog post. The movie raised a lot of questions in my mind. I tried searching the net for some answers but that wasn’t very helpful. I have tried to answer some of those questions here on my own.

What I understood of the movie:

The Characters:

Dan (Jude Law)
Beginning: Has a girlfriend called Ruth who is not shown throughout the film. Writes the obituary page in the newspaper and hates his work. Wants to become a writer but doesn’t know what to write about.
Middle: Writes a book called ‘The Aquarium’ which fails. The book is inspired by the life of Alice but according to Alice it is not the complete truth.
End: Becomes editor of the obituary page after the death of the editor. The editor is most probably his own father. In the beginning he says his mom died when he was a kid and his dad is just hanging on to dear life. In the end he says he sat next to the editor in the hospital for many days before he died. So I am guessing the editor was his father.

Anna (Julia Roberts)
Beginning: Married to someone but unhappy. She is a professional photographer who has read the manuscript of Dan’s book.
Middle: Becomes a successful photographer with her most famous work being the picture of Alice – London girl.
End: Is married to Larry and is probably happy. But we don’t know how long this happiness will last.

Larry (Clive Owen)
Beginning: Dermatologist working in a hospital.
Middle: Meets Alice and is the only character to whom she tells her real identity but he doesn’t believe it.
End: Has a private practice and is married to Anna. Has sex outside of marriage and still gets away with it because Anna cannot complain.

Alice (Natalie Portman)
Beginning: Stripper from New York who comes to London and changes her identity.
Middle: Goes back to her original identity and works in a club.
End: Goes back to New York but again changes herself.

The Plot Details:

The real Alice: Her real name is Jane Rachel Jones as shown on her passport. She tells Dan that he can never see her passport because then he’ll know her true identity. When Larry asks for her real name repeatedly in the strip joint she tells him the truth each time. When Dan leaves her the first time and asks her what she will do, she says she will disappear. She takes the name Alice Ayers from the porcelain plaque when she and Dan walk through Postman’s Park in the beginning of the movie. The plaque says the following –

“Alice Ayers. Daughter of a bricklayer's labourer who by intrepid conduct saved 3 children from a burning house in Union Street Borough at the cost of her own young life. April 24 1885."

This is exactly what Alice does in the movie. She is compared again and again to an angel by Dan and Larry. She is responsible for saving the other three characters in some way or the other. At the end they are all in a better state then what they were in the beginning of the movie. In the original play on which this movie is based, Alice dies in the end. In the movie the ending is more open – she might meet another stranger in New York, fall in love with him and be completely devoted to him or she may die. I would like to believe that she lives.

Larry the Caveman: For someone who talks about being a caveman and not being very refined, Larry is really smart and a good observer of human nature. He manipulates Dan twice. Even though both the women prefer Dan in bed, Anna still ends up with him. Larry likes to dominate women and treat them like whores. In Anna he has found a woman who likes to be dominated and because of her inherent inability to be happy she will keep coming back to him. He makes Anna tell him all the details about Dan. Anna’s indiscretion is very puzzling and she is perhaps the quintessential bitch.

Art: Alice’s description of art is an amazing statement and is almost a reflection of the movie itself. Anna’s photographs have captured the sadness of people and yet are beautiful. But this beauty itself will bring joy to others and hence the art is justified. Dan’s book on the other hand was also about Alice but failed to capture the truth (her sadness). This is perhaps why the book failed. The movie is about four sad and emotionally challenged characters and yet it is made beautifully.

Dan and Anna’s search for something better: Alice unconditionally loves Dan. Still Dan falls for Anna simply because he feels Alice is dependant on him and Anna is an independent woman. In reality, Anna likes to be dominated by others. Why else would she go out with a creep like Larry, who chats on sex sites and only has sex on his mind 24/7. Dan and Anna will never be happy because happiness freaks them out and they run away from it. Somehow they remind me of Sisyphus – that guy who used to push a boulder up a hill and then it would fall back and he’ll do it all over again.

Why I am freaked out after watching Closer:

Some bits here are redundant because I wrote this before the previous part.
There are some works of fiction (books/movies) which leave a deep impression on us. This has happened a number of times to me with books but not too often with movies (probably because I see so many of them). The last time I spent many sleepless nights because of a movie was when I saw ‘Requiem for a Dream’. Yesterday I saw ‘Closer’, twice, and I don’t think I’ll be sleeping for the next few days.

They say reality starts following fiction after a while. I believe that, is always the case. Yet, I have never identified myself to such a large extent with any one particular character in a book or a movie (not the way every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks that Howard Roark’s life is their own or Salinger was telling their story). Not until I saw Jude Law’s character - Dan yesterday in Closer.

Dan is an obituary writer. I have been secretly obsessed with obituaries for ages. The guy wants to be a writer at the beginning of the movie and eventually becomes a failed writer by the end. I am an optimist, so that probably wouldn’t happen to me but I am currently writing about a character who is trying to write the perfect obituary for himself. Creepy!

Dan asks Anna (Julia Roberts) to lie to him because he is frustrated with the truth and thinks lies make life so much easier. Dan also is a proficient liar himself with an imagination working on overdrive (he goes on a sex site and pretends to be Anna and chats with Larry (Clive Owen), I haven’t done that but I am very much capable of doing it – it’s just that I hate chatting on the net). Yet, he contradicts himself in the end by asking Alice (Natalie Portman) to tell him the truth and stresses the importance of truth. His selfishness and failure to recognize love is all too familiar. I better go out and party a little or I’ll go crazy.

Listening to:

Closer Soundtrack – The Blower’s Daughter Artist: Damien Rice

Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to
Leave it all behind?

I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind...
My mind...my mind...
'Til I find somebody new

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sex, Mike and Brassiere Measurements

* Disclaimer for female readers: Relax! I am not trying to objectify the female form. I think being a woman is a tough thing and I respect women a lot. Whew!

Creating new characters for my books is a lot of fun. But sometimes it can be a pain in the buttocks. Currently my protagonist is an eight-month-pregnant woman. To flesh out her character in greater details I have been doing a lot of research on pregnancy. My mind is reeling under pressure with 10 centimetre dilations, water breaking, swelling of mammary glands, etcetera etcetera. No wonder my attention span has reduced to 300 milliseconds. Man! There is a lot of stuff out there about pregnancy.

Information overload!
All systems down!

Luckily this character works for a fashion house which makes lingerie (India’s equivalent of Victoria’s Secret). So I have been happy digging facts about lingerie. I am astounded by the simplicity yet effectiveness of bras sizing. Here is a small primer for all patrons on all those terms we never understood – 36 D, 34 C (As a kid I used to think they were bus numbers, serious!). I am attempting to go where a lot of men have gone before and failed miserably (did you know that there are almost a dozen different ways in which bras are hooked – back, front, sides, neck …). They should have taught us all these things in school.

There are two variables which need to be calculated to determine the bras size - Band size and cup size. The band size is always an even number (according to international standards). The cup size is an alphabet like A, B, C, etc. So a typical bras size would look like - 34 C or 36 D.

Measurement of band size: A tape measure (inch) is used to measure around the rib cage directly under the breasts. The number 5 is then added to this number and it is rounded off to the nearest even number.

Measurement of cup size: The next measurement goes around the chest over and including the fullest part of the bust (usually at the level of the nipples). The band size is then subtracted from this measurement. The cup size is then determined using the following table -

Half inch AA
One inch A
Two inches B
Three inches C
Four inches D
Five inches DD or E
Six inches DDD or F
Seven inches G

Example - Suppose the measurement below the breasts is 30 inches. Adding 5 to that we get 35. Rounding it to the nearest even number we get 36. So the band size is 36. Now suppose the measurement over the breasts is 40 inches. 40 - 36 = 4 inches. So cup size from the table is D. Therefore, the bras size is 36 D.

* A few days back I was discussing with some fellow writers how Indian writers are pathetic at writing convincing love making scenes. All of us are working on a collaborative project and most of the stories have couples in them. Yet, very few of us wanted to go down that path where we would have to write about the couple making out. As a challenge I have decided to include a hot and steamy sex scene in my story. The first draft will be put up here for everyone’s inspection in a few days.

* Fans of PhD Comics the world over are waiting with bated breaths as Mike Slackenerny prepares for his thesis defence. Will he finally earn his PhD? Only time will tell. The man who has been rumoured to be around the Stanford campus since the 70s (parents of some recent grad students were students along with him) has been a source of inspiration for graduate students the world over. Procrastinator extraordinaire, Mike is adored by the Horrors for his love of food and sleep. If Mike gets a PhD I hope he joins the faculty at Stanford. Phdcomics wouldn’t be same without him. I can already see Babe (also known as Death and Research Boy in certain quarters) getting his doctorate in a few years. My boy is all grown up. Sniff sniff.

* Back to watching 10 movies and reading 3 books a week. Life is bliss. Saw ‘Finding Neverland’ yesterday and am still lost in the beauty of the film. Magical!!

* Thinking about –

I think there's too much burden placed on the orgasm, you know, to make up for empty areas in life.
- Woody Allen in Annie Hall

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

It’s happened to all of us. Well at least it’s happened to those of us who don’t have anonymous blogs. How do you write about someone who reads your blog and knows you well? How do you write about your secret desires when you know they would no longer remain secret once they are published here?

I firmly believe that every thought, which remains trapped in the deep recesses of the mind, dies a premature death. Every thought has a life cycle – it is born, it grows up and then it dies. But its purpose is only fulfilled if it gives birth to another thought. A nascent thought needs to be translated into words (written or spoken) for it to mature. It dies if it isn’t heard or read. Yet there are things whose beauty lies in their being not spoken and kept a mystery. But if they are not projected outwards, they start haunting you (especially when you have an over active imagination like mine). This blog has always helped me exorcise those ghosts. But it fails when these thoughts are about real people who are close to me or know of me. I could cover those thoughts in a veil of fiction and write them here as I have done on a number of occasions in the past. But sometimes you wish to retain their purity. You store them away safely, to look at them when you are feeling low and need inspiration. They haunt you though – night and day – when you least expect. You might have a brain the size of a football field, but your referees cannot control every player on it. Life would have been bliss if you were born a vegetable. Then again, maybe not!

If you are wondering what the title has to do with this post – I saw the movie a few weeks back and loved it.

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;

- From the poem ‘Eloisa to Abelard’ by Alexander Pope

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A Day in the Life of the Poet and the Raven

The Raven and the Poet had been in the depths of Valhalla for more than an eon now. After an initial period of strife and animosity they both realised that in this place they had no one else for company and hence it would be better to forge a friendship. And as time went by these two became inseparable – the Raven teaching the Poet the fine art of warfare and the Poet teaching the Raven the intricacies of poetry.

Then arrived Phantasos (the worthy son of Somnus and brother of Morpheus; an exchange student from Olympus) and the three together formed an organisation which was to cause a major stir in the world of the Gods as well as us puny humans. This was the Dream Poets Inc., headquartered in Valhalla. But why talk of the Future when the Present is trying to scuttle past us.

Here we find the Poet - lost in the space-time continuum, thinking of his past sins - generally feeling like scum. The Raven on the other hand is smitten with the 5-7-5 syllable simplicity of the haiku and is composing his epic - Haikus from Eden.

Said Adam one day -
No apple for me today,
Eve has a headache.

So, my friend, what do you think of my masterpiece?

Hmmm. Hmmm. Mumble mumble grumble grumble. You have the structure, but where is the mention of the season and the two contrasting thoughts related to the same subject. My dear friend! You must follow the rules of poetry. Otherwise, the critics will slam your work as being pretentious and uninspired.

Critics!? What critics? I am writing these haikus for my own pleasure not for some blasted critic. Counting the syllables and maintaining the symmetry of the haikus has a soothing effect on my nerves. I don’t care if no one ever reads my work, except you, of course.

Ah! But what is writing, if it isn’t read. The triumph of the writer is in extracting a response from the reader – doesn’t matter whether they love it or hate it. You are right about the critics though. I hate them in equal, if not more, measure. But you must write as if your work is going to be read by millions. We both know there is no one else here other than the two of us. But one never knows.

Little did the Poet and the Raven know that in the next few years with the help of Phantasos (whose work it is to create all the inanimate objects in dreams) they would be able to broadcast their work all over the world in people’s dreams.

You are probably right my friend. Tell me, why you look so morose? Has someone broken your heart?

Ah! It would have been so much better had that happened. The pain of heartbreak is like manna for my soul. What I suffer from is guilt, my brother. All those broken hearts I left behind as I moved from shore to shore in search of fulfilment are tearing at my conscience. So many times have I been loved – deeply and unquestionably – and I have thrown it all away for my own selfish motives. And what have I achieved? I rot here, in this Scandinavian hell, for eternity.

Hmmm! But you have me for company!

True! True! So let’s hear some more haikus.

What is for dinner?
- Said Adam one day to Eve.
Apple pie and tea!

An apple a day
Keeps eve a little away.
Now for the doctor …

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Of Hypothetical Situations and Escalators

* Hypothetical situation – you are sitting in a plane. The following conversation happens between you and the gentleman sitting next to you.

Gentleman: Great day today for flying!
You: Yeah.
Gentleman: I am Stanley by the way.
You: Hmmm.
[Two hours later]

: Nice talking to you. Here’s my card. Drop in sometime.
You: Huh!

Now suppose two months later you found the visiting card again inside your bag and read the name on top of it - Stanley Kubrick.

This is the point where I’ll try to drown myself in a small unassuming puddle of muck. Now I didn’t bump into Kubrick (he’s been long dead) but I did bump into someone whom I have admired as an actor and who has worked with the likes of Satyajit Ray on a number of occasions. And I just didn’t bump into him. I worked along with him for a whole week on a dramatized poetry reading organized by a friend where I was helping out as stage manager. And we became mighty friendly - talking on first name basis, cracking jokes and stuff. Even after knowing his full name it took me more than a month to realize who he was. This was Dhritiman Chatterjee, the protagonist of Ray’s 1972 classic Pratidwandi. He can now be seen in the much acclaimed film Black as Rani Mukherjee’s father. There is a slight possibility that I might be acting along side him in the near future in a play. I have my fingers crossed.

* The first time I used an escalator was in 1988 in the Delhi international airport. These moving staircases impressed me like no other wonder of science had ever done before. I had already been on an airplane a month before but somehow the experience of riding an escalator overshadowed that experience. Throughout my brief stay in London (summer 1988) I did what kids all over the world have done at some time or the other (most snipers in movies also make their escape the same way) – going down an escalator which is moving upwards or vice versa. I spent endless hours trying to find the perfect speed with my small legs to counter the upwards movement of the escalator. What resulted was something akin to suspended animation (I always liked the coyote more than the roadrunner). Somehow running at top speed and still not moving a meter forward has its own charm (I find treadmills interesting for the same reason).

Monday, January 31, 2005

Structured Procrastination

You know you have hit rock bottom when you have to put up someone else’s writing on your blog.

Structured Procrastination
By John Perry

Version of
April 25, 1995

I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, an NSF proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.

The most perfect situation for structured procrastination that I ever had was when my wife and I served as Resident Fellows in Soto House, a Stanford dormitory. In the evening, faced with papers to grade, lectures to prepare, committee work to be done, I would leave our cottage next to the dorm and go over to the lounge and play ping-pong with the residents, or talk over things with them in their rooms, or just sit there and read the paper. I got a reputation for being a terrific Resident Fellow, and one of the rare profs on campus who spent time with undergraduates and got to know them. What a set up: play ping pong as a way of not doing more important things, and get a reputation as Mr. Chips.

Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this goes contrary to the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be by definition the most important, and the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is a way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being. At this point you may be asking, "How about the important tasks at the top of the list, that one never does?" Admittedly, there is a potential problem here.

The trick is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list. The ideal sorts of things have two characteristics, First, they seem to have clear deadlines (but really don't). Second, they seem awfully important (but really aren't). Luckily, life abounds with such tasks. In universities the vast majority of tasks fall into this category, and I'm sure the same is true for most other large institutions. Take for example the item right at the top of my list right now. This is finishing an essay for a volume in the philosophy of language. It was supposed to be done eleven months ago. I have accomplished an enormous number of important things as a way of not working on it. A couple of months ago, bothered by guilt, I wrote a letter to the editor saying how sorry I was to be so late and expressing my good intentions to get to work. Writing the letter was, of course, a way of not working on the article. It turned out that I really wasn't much further behind schedule than anyone else. And how important is this article anyway? Not so important that at some point something that seems more important won't come along. Then I'll get to work on it.

Another example is book order forms. I write this in June. In October, I will teach a class on Epistemology. The book order forms are already overdue at the book store. It is easy to take this as an important task with a pressing deadline (for you non-procrastinators, I will observe that deadlines really start to press a week or two after they pass.) I get almost daily reminders from the department secretary, students sometimes ask me what we will be reading, and the unfilled order form sits right in the middle of my desk, right under the wrapping from the sandwich I ate last Wednesday. This task is near the top of my list; it bothers me, and motivates me to do other useful but superficially less important things. But in fact, the book store is plenty busy with forms already filed by non-procrastinators. I can get mine in mid-Summer and things will be fine. I just need to order popular well-known books from efficient publishers. I will accept some other, apparently more important, task sometime between now and, say, August 1st. Then my psyche will feel comfortable about filling out the order forms as a way of not doing this new task.

The observant reader may feel at this point that structured procrastination requires a certain amount of self-deception, since one is in effect constantly perpetrating a pyramid scheme on oneself. Exactly. One needs to be able to recognize and commit oneself to tasks with inflated importance and unreal deadlines, while making oneself feel that they are important and urgent. This is not a problem, because virtually all procrastinators have excellent self-deceptive skills also. And what could be more noble than using one character flaw to offset the bad effects of another?