Saturday, December 23, 2006

This was a blog that I really used to enjoy. The author waged wars against a wide variety of irritants - traffic, dentists northies, you name it- and it was therapeutic just to read it. It was nice to know that someone else was feeling the angst on my behalf. It's comforting ; kinda like having a messiah who dies for my sins. But lately, Dr. Pissed seems to have made his peace with the world and the posts have dried up. So I have to do my own cribbing now. Here are some things that piss me off on a regular basis.

Have you noticed these really chummy pairs of bike riders? The kind that feel obligated by some ridiculous social etiquette to ride along next to each other. It's bad enough that they slow me down completely, but what really aggravates me is that while they are doing this they are also obeying the rules of polite conversation, you know, like making occasional eye contact and all. These days, with the helmet rule in place, they can't really have a very meaningful conversation while they are riding, so they have to scream out the words, and have to slow down further. Yet they persist. Turd-brains!

Someone ask Ravi Shastri to shut up. I know magic-eight-balls which had more things to say. "That's just what the doctor ordered" . "That went like a tracer bullet". What the f*** is a tracer bullet anyway!

(These are not completely my words, but they are exactly my thoughts.)
Respect your religion? Firstly, you ask for submission and not respect, so screw you. Next, even if you mean respect, I have no obligation to RESPECT your religion. I respect your right to follow it, but I refuse to respect your/any religion. You don't see me asking you to respect atheism. Stop pissing me off.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm back

Back from the self-imposed exile to publish more of my pointless crap. During the break I haven't read a book or watched a movie or a tv show or played a game. This morning I couldn't wait to get my life back. I played basketball like a man possessed. I made a complete fool of myself, missed almost all my shots. And now every muscle hurts. I feel so alive.

I got myself a new job. For the first time in my professional life I completely understand the meaning of the phrase "total wavelength mismatch". I'm not claiming intellectual high ground here. I am surrounded by very intelligent people. I'm just saying if everybody in my team drew venn diagrams representing their interests there won't be a single overlap. It is not the best setting to spend 40 hours in a week.

Never before have I looked forward to the christmas break so eagerly. I want to read the books watch the movies, make a trip... The blog posts will follow.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Words that English ought to borrow

One of the joys of learning a language is the kick that you get when you encounter a truly expressive word that has no equivalent in any other language you know.
How many times have you looked at Emraan Hashmi, Deve Gowda or Himesh Reshammiya and struggled to sum up what you thought about their faces? The germans have just the right word for it. "Backpfeifengesicht": a face that cries out for a fist in it.

Just last fortnight, on our trip to see Kuranji Pushpa, we stopped at a lake called GaLikere for a while. The lake is perched on the top of a mountain and Everytime a strong wind blows, the water tips over from the side. That's how it got it's name. It used to be one of the most pristine spots I've ever seen, until a super-idiotic belief suddenly sprang up. People started to follow the custom of leaving their underwear behind after they took bath there, b********! Anyway, that's not the point of this post. At the lake, I got the chance to show off my skill at the game I used to call, until recently, "bouncing stones on water". Apparently, in dutch (oh I'm so in love with the language) they have a name for the sport, plimpplampplettere.

Every Saturday morning, my mom drives herself into a frenzy and turns the house inside out in her quest to personally attack every dust particle. In deutschland they call the mania Putzfimmel.

Read this article.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Meet Goobe



Meet Goobe. A cat who until recently was an uninvited guest in our balcony. He used to hang around there at night, and take flight as soon as we opened the door.

Meet my sis. She has held snakes in her hand but she is completely scared of butterflies and moths. Scared enough to cry when a hapless butterfly happens to get into the house.

Last week, Goobe won himself a lifelong devotee when he jumped up acrobatically and caught a moth. He now gets food and drink on the house, and also has a cozy little mat for himself to sleep on.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I was bugged of tags ere I was tagged by 'bug

Regular vistors to this page will note that this blog serves to satisfy the self-absorption of it's author. So when another opportunity to talk about himself came along, he gladly latched on.

The origin of my nick name, Deppe, is shrowded in mystery. I have a vague recollection of being christened thus when I was in engineering. I also have a faint memory of having hated the name. Much later, while I was talking to myself, I caught one of my inner voices addressing another as Deppe. Shocking!

I am obsessed with reading number plates on vehicles and making judgements about the driver based on his origin. Not unlike people who say "Oh! you are cancerian? That explains it", I , for example, look out for the number plates of drivers who honk incessantly and feel very gratified when I see KA-06 (Tumkur) or KA-11 (Mandya). I'm trying to quit this habit btw.

There was a time I was really fanatical about my home town, Bangalore. Now I practically hate it. If there's any geographical feature in India I am parochial about, it is the Western Ghats. I got childishly angry once when somebody said the ghats are very monotonous.

The ghats have never looked as stunning as during the last couple of weeks. There are particular weirdos in the plant family that inhabit this part of the deccan. Every 12 years they all bloom together and cover the peaks with a purple carpeting. It's a sight to behold. I digressed...

I once stood for elections for the post of class rep, after someone nominated me in jest. I gave the worst possible speech; I said nothing. I got 3 votes ( or was it 2?). I like to think that my life would have turned out dramatically different if I had got just one vote.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jobless

Why did the french invent a spelling scheme so unappealing to my sense of logic? What's the fun if half the letters in a word are silent? It's not pretty. Not at 7 in the morning. I really think they should reform their spellings a bit. Now that would be a French Revolution I'd appreciate.

Forenoons and afternoons are for interviews. I enjoy the interviews, except for the one ocassion when Toshiro Mifune himself quizzed me while wearing his Samurai temper on his sleeve. What I don't enjoy, though, is driving all those miles in this unbelievably horrible traffic, a topic I intend to crib about in greater detail in succeeding posts.

Evenings remind me about the joys of being unemployed.

Just before I hit the sack, I wish the day had a few more hours. Someone told me that that's a good sign.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hyderabad trip

Everytime I travel in a bus, train or plane, I always end up sitting next to an obscenely obese gentleman. Each time, I wait for the law of averages to catch up with me and usher in some long overdue justice, preferably in the form of a hot-babe neighbour in the bus. I sent up a little prayer before boarding the bus to Hyderabad, but apparently I'm not doing it right. The guy who sat next to me looked like he could easily edge Yokozuna out of the dohyo.

As a result, I was playing mind games with the fatso all night long when I should have been sleeping. Straightaway I realised that I was the underdog, and I graciously relinquished all my rights on the common armrest. But these fatsos never stop there. As soon as they sleep, they spill over in all directions. My first course of action was to repeatedly recline and straighten my seat in order to point out that large chunks of adipose had made their way to the wrong side of the common armrest. When that failed to work, I took jerky jabs with my elbow to upset his peace, while pretending that I'm doing all that in my sleep. I must add that I adhered to all bullet points on the geneva convention's regulations for this kind of warfare; my elbow never once left my airspace. But sigh! I guess the nerve endings were buried too deep down because he didn't budge an inch. I gave up trying to sleep.

Apparently, I've accumulated a lot of bad karma, because on the return trip I sat next to a man, who in an ideal world, would voluntarily buy two tickets for himself.

And here's the vote of thanks.

K, you're a swell host buddy. Although you should work on your welcome gestures. Atleast wear a few more clothes.

M & A, thanks for the charming company. See you in bangalore soon.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I'm pissed

oh boy! Give the book a break. It was written a million years ago. Those things do go out of date, you know? Maybe the guys who wrote it were the smartest people at the time, but for fuck's sake, they may have got it wrong. Take Aristotle. He was bloody smart but he misunderstood his own outstanding brain; the guy thought that it was an organ to cool the blood. They get it wrong sometimes.

Who the hell gave those other turd-brains the right to make you sing something you don't wanna sing?

nationality and religion. Why do people expect you to be loyal to choices you never made?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Things I'll miss

Things I will miss when I leave Belgium, in pretty much this order.
* Buana , Roberto, Meneer and Charlie. I came here a year ago looking for the same things that people usually look for when they leave their own shores; experiences, money, an illusion of advancement, expansion of the mind and all that jazz. Funny, I never had thought I'd make friends too.
* The Flemish language and the Flemish people. Belgium is a tiny country surrounded by chauvinism on the east and south and self-assuredness on the north. Somehow the Flemish have managed to stay immune to those 'vices', evident in the way they take pride in speaking atleast 4 languages.
* The beers. When I first made a rather naive vow to taste all belgian beers before I leave, Buana asked me to extend my contract for atleast another decade. I then saw this board and knew what he meant.

The 280 doesn't even begin to cover the number of types and brands of beer you get here.I will especially miss Leffe Bruin and Rochefort 8.
* The fries. Notice I don't call them "french" fries. You get the most awesome fries in the roadside shops (frituurs) here.I don't know if its a myth, but all 10 million Belgians seem to believe that a belgian invented the fries and the French took credit for it. Charlie calls it the greatest crime in history.
* The main street of Antwerp, Meir. The city square,Groenplaats. The riverside, right bank of the Schelde.
* Playing pool and watching football with the ghanians and the kenyans.
* Ice skating rinks.
* finally, DEFINITELY the belgian pout!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Switzerland

Random notes from my swiss trip.

* Although we hadn't planned for it, we landed in Zurich right on the day of the famous Street Parade. It's hard to describe the scene. By the end of the evening nothing in the world could shock me.
* The mountains of Switzerland are teeming with Indians and Chinese. One of the ticket collectors on the train spoke a bit of hindi too, kinda like Tom Alter as a firang oppressor in all those period movies.

* In the places where there were no tourists, Switzerland is as beautiful as any place I've seen. Jungfraujoch, the highest peak in Europe (?) is not one such place. But sometimes you have to visit these marquee destinations which are vulgarly crowded, mostly with desi couples. There's even an indian restaurant at the top, with a carefully crafted ambience, complete with rude waitresses.
* The high point of my stay,quite literally too, was the sky diving. Experiences like that have a way of creating bonds. That evening, the bunch of us who went on the plane together drank almost till morning. We felt like best buddies. I no longer remember their names.
* For anybody staying at Interlaken, I strongly recommend the hostel, Balmer's Herberge. If not for the great atmosphere you should go there just for this gorgeous bottle they give you when you check-in.

* On the third day, L & I hiked on a random mountain, just to escape the crowds. We sat there by a hilltop-lake saying nothing for a long time, hearing nothing but the chirping birds and the rustling leaves. While I was in the middle of pensive introspection, L chose to break the silence with the most uncalled-for statement "This landscape reminds me of the Brokeback mountains". It's difficult to overstate the peace-shattering effect of that line. I started to pack up before he had uttered the last syllable. I longed for the chinese tourists.

* If nothing, you can just buy a train pass and spend all your time travelling on trains, and the mountain rails and the rope cars and it would still be a worthwhile swiss holiday. I loved the train journey from Interlaken to Luzern.

* I'm definitely going there again.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Commercial Break

The field of advertising is often characterized by superb imagination. But even in this field banalities rule. Last night, while I was channel-hopping, I found the following laws to be relevant to TV ads across cultures and nations.

° Toothpaste ads shall feature fictitious dental organisations (with ridiculous names) vouching for their favourite brand.

° The effectiveness of sanitary napkins shall always be illustrated by the use of blue ink.

° Detergent ads shall employ the services of B-grade celebrities knocking on the houses of very bad actors who are trying their best to look like unsuspecting house wives. The detergent shall always be used to remove ketchup stains.

° Users of shaving creams, razors or after-shaves shall be so obsessed with feeling their own glazed cheeks, they shall not even notice the hot babes clinging on to them.

° Animated chicken shall persuade people to eat their eggs.

° Boys who consume health drinks shall jump over fences to prove that those nutrients really help. Girls shall engage in a more mental activity, such as solving jigsaw puzzles, to prove the same point.

° Contraceptives shall have grossly exaggerated aphrodisiacal effects.

° Shampoo ads shall blatantly ignore populous demographics such as curly haired men or short haired women.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Monday I Can't Complain About

I'll use a borrowed line. The ratio of the number of times I've taken off in an airplane to the number of times I've landed is no longer 1.


There was nervous energy in that airplane. Probably because many of the passengers were flying for the first time in their lives without having to wear seatbelts. Easy to explain why there were no seatbelts; because there were no seats! We took our places next to our respective jump masters on the floor. There was a breathtakingly beautiful view from the top, including a picture-perfect rainbow, but I was just storing the sights in my brain. I was in no condition to enjoy them at that moment. A few minutes later the door opened and the first pair of guys jumped out. I was to go second. I peered down to see how the first pair was doing. They had jumped less than 10 seconds ago and they were already just a tiny speck way down there. Here is where a sky dive differs from a bungee. Once strapped and standing on the bungee platform, you fight an infinitesimally long but monumental battle in your head to convince yourself to make that critical tilt. It's quite often vanity that pushes you forward. In a tandem skydive, however, when you strap yourself on to the instructor, you surrender some of your rights. So before I had the opportunity for a second thought I found myself in a free fall. The first few seconds are the hardest to describe. The jumpmaster tapped me on the shoulder, which was a well-rehearsed signal for me to spread my arms out. But at that moment it didn't make any sense. He had to pry my arms open wide. I got used to the fall soon enough to pose for a cameraman tumbling around me. For 40 seconds or so, I actually felt like I was just hovering in the air. Only the chill moist alpine air stinging my cheeks reminded me that I was going down; real fast! I even remember looking at the Brienzersee lake and wondering why it was so green. The next exciting thing was when the chute actually opened. The deceleration is so fast that I felt like I had reversed my fall and was now shooting back up. The canopy ride is one joy ride and I had all the time to soak in the details of the swiss landscape. The landing was pretty exciting too. They make a swooping arc to generate some horizontal velocity, which is needed for a slide-landing. In the end, it felt great to be on the ground again. It's hard to describe what goes on in the mind during and just after the jump. I felt powerful, cleansed, euphoric and maybe a little vain. The most surreal thing is the way your sense of time gets distorted. Did it last forever? Dit it take a small fraction of a millisecond? Keine Ahnung.

Photos here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I

I am thinking about...
... the pressure to appear witty in these answers.

I said...
... "bitte druecken und be" . Some things don't get lost in translation.

I want to...
... go roadtripping with my two favorite allies. Fully loaded with snacks and supplies.
(I didn't change this one from jax's)

I wish...
... I could swap places with Michael Palin.

I hear...
... cicadas in the background when I remember my fondest childhood memories.

I wonder...
... if 5 yrs from now I'll regret the choices I'm making today.

I regret...
... a lot.

I am...
... a bathroom whistler.

I dance...
... without joy.

I sing...
... at 10 decibels or lesser, with a frequency range to rival a dog-whistle's.

I cry...
... when there's too much chlorine in the swimming pool, or when I'm cutting onions. Grief, hurt and despair only bring those lumps of varying sizes in the throat.

I am not always...
... vegetarian , patriotic , in-control , selfish , adult

I make with my hands...
...chapathis that consistently look like maps of australia.

I write...
... increasingly dispassionately. I don't even care if that last sentence was grammatically incorrect.

I confuse...
... debit and credit. plaintiff and defendant. stalactite and stalagmite. Point and Cover.

I need...
... ( and I'm quoting a friend here) "one woman to lavish my love on, one mentor to show me the way, two good friends, some meaningful conversation, a little adventure, some activity that helps me grow intellectually."
To the author : Plagiarism, you think? See you in court. Where you will be the plaintiff. Or the defendant?

And finally...
... even when I'm not fully serious about it, introspection always leaves me depressed!

That tag was brought to me by jax. I pass the tag on to :
Disha
Kavs
MS

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Deppe Recommends - 4

Movie: The Apu trilogy
I know I suck at reviewing movies, which is why I usually stop at just recommending them. It's all the more hard to describe the beauty of something as uncomplicated as the Apu Trilogy. Finally I understand why they esteem Ray so highly. He doesn't seem to do one thing wrong. Although he made this movie in an age when it was necessary to exaggerate every emotion on screen (remember Annavru and Shivaji Ganesan?), he gets the actors to trick you into believing that they are not acting at all. There are especially the scenes of Apu and his bride "learning" to love each other, like it happens so often in arranged marriages; the honesty in the portrayal of that romance is mind-blowing. And the humour of a smart observation, while not making you laugh aloud, can still be so satisfying. The music is great too, except on a couple of ocassions when it seems to resort to an emotional arm-twisting that the movie itself refrains from doing. Kinda like a laughter track telling you when to laugh, sometimes the music seems to tell you "now you are supposed to cry". You can tell the impact of a movie by how long you linger in the experience after the movie has ended, and judging by that alone, this ranks high up there. I had watched these movies when I was too young to appreciate it. While I didn't remember anything from the first viewing, watching it again brought back pleasant memories of more innocent times when all members of my family could agree on one channel to watch. Not that we had a choice, of course!

Book :East of Eden
For a tale set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America, the story is held together by a very unusual character; a cook of chinese origin named, surprise surprise, Lee! The cooking is just a livelihood for him. He has enough original philosophy to give Confucius a run for his money. The Lee of my imagination looked like a portly version of one of my chinese colleagues, and it was a struggle to allow him to talk proper english. Lee seemed more realistic talking plopel english, if you know what I mean. And oddly enough, thats the same kind of prejudice that Lee finds himself fighting several times in the novel. Made for a very interactive experience. Lee is like Lord Henry of Dorian Grey, he gets all the good lines. When Cal, one of the protagonists hints at ending his own life, he remarks "Suicide! Its the cheapest form of self indulgence".

Song:Dinosaur by King Crimson
Alright, wipe the tear traaks!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Haven

"Where are they from?" C asked. "They are trainees from Senegal" D said. "Doesn't their hair stink? It looks so greasy". "That's false hair. I assure you they change it more often than you would think possible." "Their skin is absolutely jet black. We are so much better". Since D didn't know where to begin correcting that opinion, he chose to change the topic: "You see the statue over there...?" He had an unconscious need to display how chummy he was with his town. "...and that's how Antwerp got its name. Let me tell you something else about this statue..." He had used that story several times before but for the first time it had failed to captivate his audience. They were already looking elsewhere. "Take a picture of me with that shop in the background" C requested. K's face clearly reflected what he was thinking "Beer Beer everywhere, not a drop to drink". "What's over there?" asked P. "Ah! nothing much" D replied. "But the buildings look nice." "Those are just old buildings at the harbour. Don't think we can go inside. Besides there are no trams from there" he said, scanning his brain for other visit-worthy places to suggest as alternatives. "I don't mind walking" she insisted. He had always prided himself on calling a spade nothing but that, and now he had somehow been manipulated into feeling that he needed to talk euphemistically. He hated it. "Ok that's the red light district. Not many ladies go there". He felt relieved already but he continued "maybe because there are no male whores in those windows. Hey I wonder why not?". Some other day, and with some other people, that would have drawn atleast a few smiles, if not a healthy intellectual debate of a half-baked anthropological nature. That day, it just folded up the evening hastily. Not to mention, there was very little eye-contact.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Köln

I was sitting on a parapet by the fountain dipping my tired feet in the water and watching kids of all sizes splashing about and trying to beat the heat. That's when the pro-Israelis came on to the square waving their flags. In less than 2 minutes there were hundreds of them. They were soon followed by a small clutch of folks holding the Palestinian flags.

And then they started arguing with each other...They all looked like decent people but I swear there was a nervousness in the air. It prompted the "Ah Scheise" from the locals and "Jesus Christ! lets get outta here" from the American tourists. The square by the cathedral is anything but boring.
Don't miss these things if you ever happen to visit Cologne/Köln/Keulen.
- Visit the Dom. Its a cathedral whose hugeness can't be captured in a still photo. To give you an idea it has enough stained glass to cover a hectare. In the evening, watch the skaters, skate-boarders and stunt cyclists showing off just behind the cathedral.
- Taste the Kölsch (its a kind of beer) in any of the charming beer gardens in the Altstadt. Here's a tip; you should open your mouth only if you want to order something other than a kölsch.
- The bank of the Rhine is one 10,000-people-barbecue.

- (For reasons I hated doing this all by myself, but still...)Cross the rhine in the rope-car. If you are too much into morality don't look down.
- Take a boat trip on the Rhine.
- Shop at the Neumarkt. Don't forget to visit the 4711 address, where the famous Eau De Cologne was and is still being made. So far, I thought it was an exotic french perfume, but apparently they started making it to spray it around a very stinky cologne as it existed when Napoleon captured it.

Lastly, here's a statue that defies everything I think I know about harmony. A really grotesque nordic-looking caricature of David, with a vulgar pink body and bright yellow hair. I can't explain why it is there.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cycling in Mol

After Holland, Belgium must be the most bicycle-friendly place in the world. Not just the roads in the cities, but even the most obscure roads through the woods have cycling tracks. My colleagues told me that if I stayed in Belgium a full year and didn't do atleast one long trip on the bike, I deserve to rot in hell. So we decided to go to the sand-sculpture exhibition on bikes. These 9 kg bikes, with all their weight optimisations are great, but do they really have to have such uncomfortable saddles? That combined with deficient padding in the concerned areas ensured that I had to do the last bit of the journey without fully placing my butt on the seat. That apart, I'm feeling very satisfied. It was a fantastic route through woods and by some gorgeous lakes and canals.



Sand sculptures




Friday, July 21, 2006

Deppe recommends - 3

Movie: Monty Python's Life of Brian
I don't know how to understate this but Life of Brian is absolutely the funniest movie I've ever seen. I highly recommend this one to all the people whose religious sentiments are not easily hurt. Actually I recommend it to people whose religious sentiments are easily hurt too: you'll probably self-immolate and die which is not necessarily a bad thing. Sample this

Brian: I'm not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand?! Honestly!
Girl: Only the true Messiah denies His divinity.
Brian: What?! Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!
Followers: He is! He is the Messiah!
Brian: Now, fuck off!
[silence]
Arthur: How shall we fuck off, O Lord?

I always knew Michael Palin and John Cleese were funny guys but here they outdo themselves. Only the poor technical quality of the film gives away the fact that it was made more than 27 yrs ago. The script and most of the funny material are timeless.

Song: Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues
This one is not as much a song as it is a poem. Its got one hell of a video too, which probably cost nothing to make.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My own HSBC ad

The power of local knowledge

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Blast!

Do you know how many people were convicted in the Mumbai blasts of 1993? Exactly zero. I bet that number isn't any different for the Diwali blasts of last year.

Another blast. The politicians get their chance to use the word "dastardly". The phonies get to praise the "resilience" of the Mumbaikar. I get to sit on my high chair and get all acerbic. Life goes on. See you at the next blast.

The cup

Now is there ANYTHING left unsaid about the famous headbutt.
There are even those who appreciated the aesthetics of the act but mostly, there are people who are sad that their hero fell from grace and ask "why? Zidane why?". There are others who volunteer an answer. The fanciest of those explanations was from a guy (with his tongue firmly in the cheek) who speculates that Materazzi had a crush on Zidane, and asked him to "give a head" which Zidane took too literally. Don't discount this theory, because Materazzi pinched the frenchman's nipples minutes before he got rammed.

For days before the game the newspapers were filled with reports about the English crying hoarse over Ronaldo's "ungentlemanly" conduct. The tiny island with the highest density of hooligans in the world, was suddenly outraged by a wink. I bet they still think their ridiculously overvalued team would have walked away with the world cup if Ronaldo had not had those two words with the ref. Zidane, thanks for the headbutt. If nothing, it atleast shut those Englishmen up.

I am fanatic. Don't expect reason from me. For me, the man with that mysterious monk-like serenity just got a little more enigmatic. For me, Zidane is right up there, one tiny step behind the Maardonas.

Other random world cup notes

* South Koreans with blonde hair look ridiculous
* Nedved went home too soon
* The best fans award at our pub goes to the Irish waiters, who joined us in supporting Ghana. Close runners up were the French girls who cried at the end of the finals.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Werchter

Knock Knock
Who's there!
Yup!

The Who performed here last week. Pete Townshend started with an extremely corny line "Werchter, you are the European center of the universe." But he and his band went on to do a mean act. The performance was part of a 4-day rock festival in a modest belgian village called Werchter. It's like Woodstock, without the drugs and the impact. They tell me the 2003 and 2005 editions have won the world's best festival award .

Apart from The Who, there was Live, Editors (little known but very impressive) and Muse. Anouk was pretty good on the stage too. I had my moment in the limelight as well. During one of the breaks, some drunk dutchmen asked me for my autograph. They kept trying to convince me that my name is Wibi. Apparently I look like a Dutch-Indonesian pianist called Wibi Soerjadi. One guy insisted on getting my autograph. Since he had no paper, I had to sign on a premium piece of untattoed real estate on his shoulder. Wasn't pleasant, despite the rather sincere compliment he paid me about my piano playing. My friends were having a nice laugh in the meanwhile. I attributed that bit of mistaken identity to the dutchmen's intoxication, but later in the afternoon, sober looking girls walking in straightlines shouted out "Hi Wibi" to me! The closest I'll get to having my own groupies?

Separated at birth? You decide.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Toon

Toon's a great guy to travel with on the train to work. His knowledge is vast and his interests are eclectic. He can talk about any subject under the sky. Or for that matter any above the sky. Or anything in between. You get the point. He is very knowledgeable about most things; about things he doesn't know he is very ingenious. Either way, he has a lot to say. The one time he can bore you, though, is when the conversation is about cars. He can make you want to jump out of the window when he starts to talk, for instance, about the "continuously variable transmission on the ML 350". Of course, like the true car connoisseur, he is on a 'first name' intimacy with most cars. So if you don't realise that by ML 350, he means the Mercedes Benz ML 350, he has a look of disgust handy. He rattles on about the new innovations, compares them with those on other cars, all the while making you feel, alternately, stupid and irritated. He's like Marissa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, but without the charm. Ah! Mona Lisa Vito, my longest lasting celebrity crush, one that lasted till I saw Tomei again in The Guru. But I'm digressing...

A thing you can't help noticing about Toon is the way he ends every other sentence with a 'la'. I'm not new to these filler noises. Aren't we all familiar with the "What's up YAAR"? If you grew up in Bangalore, you are likely to have used "da" (as in "keep quiet da") or "man" ("come here man") or the very exotic "maam" ("chumma give it maam") depending on whether you went to a school in the cantonment, in malleswaram or in frazer town respectively. Now I add 'la' to my repertoire. It works like this (if you are planning a trip to malaysia you might want to take notes): if you end up saying anything regrettable or offensive, just put a 'la' at the end. Whether you say "you are a son of a bitch" or " you are a son of a bitch la" could mean the difference between you getting a sock in the face or receiving a nice cordial laugh.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The 10 PM Twilight

"Are those gulls or terns?" she wondered aloud. He turned to face her but all he could see was a bright red spot; he had been staring at the setting sun for too long.

She was frowning now. "Why are men so shallow?" she asked, once again, not expecting an answer. He wasn't going to let this one pass, he had too much to say "You folks have been fooling yourself for too long. Didn't I see you drop your tongue and wag your tail at the handsome rich guy we met at the concert? We are reconciled to our shallowness and you have invented chivalry, sense of humour and intellectual stimulation."

The surface of the water still shimmered and the clouds over the horizon were painted in a thousand hues. Things like that didn't touch her; "Simple pleasures are overrated" she had always maintained. She was staring at her own toes. He heard the drummer by the quay, the racket caused by three drunk teenagers kicking a cola can and the distant steamer's heart-rending wail. She was a loner, always had been. She had blanked out all the noise and she wanted nothing to break her peace. He, on the other hand, could hardly bear the agitation of the long-drawn silence. "Those are terns"

Sunday, June 18, 2006

No. 100

This is incidentally my 100th post.
(APPLAUSE)
There's football almost on every channel on my TV. When the game is not so interesting, I get my kicks by switching to commentary that's in a language I can't understand. (Yeah you're right. I'm easily amused)

I can't stay long on the dutch channel because the guttural noises of the language are deterrants.
The german channels...wait! I vowed to myself; no more german bashing on this page.

For some reason, the french guy just can't get excited about anything. You could have Ronaldinho passing with a scissor kick and Ronaldo reverse kicking (at his current weight, just taking off from the ground would be considered a miracle) into goal, and the french commentator would still be talking dispassionately like he's saying "Our father in heaven holy be thy name" in french.

The longest word in spanish has to be 'Gol'. The commentator starts saying it as soon as the ball hits the back of the net. The players have finished celebrating but the commentator has still not reached the 'l' in Gol. The channel has shown replays from 15 different angles, both teams have forgotten about the goal, the guy has significantly altered the CO2 levels in his room, but he still hasn't finished the damn word.

And then I switch back to good ol' John Motson.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tagged by a co-weirdo

This tag passed by Anu, requires the condemned to mention 5 weird things about himself/herself and then make 5 others do the same.
I thought long and hard about my weird ways, and I found nothing. I almost concluded that I am the paragon of unweirdness but the following came to mind just in time.

I want to perfect juggling four balls. I can juggle three while running and I'm awfully proud of it.

I get recurring dreams about me being in a cottage that is surrounded by lions. Another rank nightmare that I used to get, was one in which I'm chasing an old lady who is just walking leisurely, while I'm running as fast as I can and yet, I can't catch up with her. There's another weird nocturnal phenomenon associated with moi. I have a double bed at home. I use one half to sleep and the other half for strewing clothes. Sometimes I find myself waking up in the middle of the night folding up the clothes almost in a state of unconsciousness. I bet it's due to a recessive compulsive-cleaning-disorder-gene that I inherited from mom.

I know the advertising folks at Pears have carefully positioned their soap as a woman/baby product, but your's truly uses it. It has nothing to do with getting in touch with my feminine side or concern for my complexion. I have an allergy that makes me sneeze my innards out if I use anything else.

I travel alone a lot. But I hate to eat alone. When I travel alone, I skip a lot of meals. I'm one of the least fussy eaters in the world. While I'm on eating habits, I should mention that I can live on Ragi mudde 3 times a day (ok not 3 but atleast 2) , 365 days a year. I also believe you can't ACQUIRE a taste for it. You have to be born into a ragi-mudde eating family.

I'm constantly guilty of some really silly prejudices. Like against people who read Mills and Boon, people who use sms language in mails, engineers who claim "this is what I wanted to do all my life", people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts, and some others I'm too scared to mention here.

I trust extroverts even if ....hey wait a minute I've mentioned 5 already. I have also rambled quite a bit in an earlier post.

I'd like to victimise
Jax - I really hope this will draw you out of a self-imposed retirement.
M.S - calls for another of your trademark staccatos dude.
Lyn, Kavs and Swathi - if you haven't done this already
Traaks - A guy who used to converse in fluent pig latin should have a lot to write, although I seriously doubt if he'll oblige.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ghana vs. Italy

Yesterday, J had been fidgety all day. His team, Ghana, was playing Italy that evening. He was going to watch it in the Dubliner pub and I decided to latch along. You would think this was an unimportant game, but the pub was packed half an hour before the kick-off time. The crowd was almost entirely Italian. We ended up being the odd guys amidst a bunch of Albertos and Robertos shouting "Stupendo" everytime Italy did something nice. At first, it was just the impulse to support an underdog that made me support Ghana. A little later, though, I had clearly been won over. They played some great football. For me, this was the best match so far in the world cup. It's incidental that Ghana lost 2-0, because, as the highly irritating Ravi Shastri would have said, "Football was the real winner." Gross!

My dream semi-final line-up already had Holland, Czech republic and Brazil. Yesterday I picked the fourth team.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Bij brand de lift niet gebruiken

The corridor that leads to the door of my apartment is one of the most airtight spaces in the world. You could fart there, come back a week later and still smell it. (The illustration is purely hypothetical. It is not based on actual events and definitely does not reflect the author's sense of hygiene in any way) So when a burning smell wafted through the spaces around my door, I assumed it was a culinary experiment that went wrong in one of the 8 apartments that open into the common corridor. I can't remember if I saw the smoke before I heard the fire engines, but I knew for sure that there was something awfully wrong. I stepped into the corridor and I couldn't see a thing, partly because it was full of dark smoke and partly because they had cut off the electricity mains. Like a good scout, who had earned his fireman badge, I mentally revised the lessons. Held a wet towel to my nose, and walked out without panic. I even remembered the sticker on the lift that said "Bij brand de lift niet gebruiken" (In case of a fire, don't use the lift).One of the things of living out of a suitcase is that I don't own something as basic as a torchlight. I had to use a lighter to find the fire exit, but the smoke was now so thick that the fire wouldn't burn. While I was taking the stairs down I realised the fire was in an apartment in one of the lower floors, because I could see the smoke getting thicker as I went down. As all the houses in the building are duplexes, the 5 floors I had to climb down seemed more like 8 or 9. It's ironic that the descent seemed to take forever and yet I can't remember anything except for the fleeting thought I had at around the 3rd floor "I should have taken the iPod." After I got out of the building I felt silly about my misplaced priorities. I didn't think of my passport or my wallet or my mobile or the laptop or any of the other things that would have been useful if my house were to indeed burn down. I thought of my stupid iPod. I blamed the lack of oxygen in the brain for that weird thought. Anyway I came out and my neighbours asked me "What took you so long?" From outside I could actually see what had happened. One of the apartments in the 4th floor was badly gutted. I learnt later that 4 people were injured. Lots of expert opinions were being thrown around. (It takes a fire to finally get acquainted with your neighbours.) After a while, when people realised everything was in control, they even amused themselves with comments full of the typical flemish cynicism. Some even complained about missing the Henin-Clijsters match in the French open. At around 8 I finally got back inside. Did the incident give me some new perspectives on life? No, I was just happy that my iPod was safe.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Malmedy

The Ardennes are a mountain range in the south of Belgium. With the highest point at a dizzying 485 mts above sea level, the term "mountains" is a bit of a stretch. I've seen road humps in India more worthy of that title. But you should forgive the Belgiums for calling them the mountains, because coming from the 12000 sq km billiard-table-flatness of the Flanders region, these little hills probably look imposing to them. I must admit, though, that it is probably the most beautiful part of the country.

Our trekking route was near a town called Malmedy in the Ardennes range. Compared to trekking in the western ghats in India you notice some differences here.
* While every trekking route in the ghats ends in a bhattru's house or D'Souza's place or a Ragi-mudde-serving pujari's abode, here they end in plush air conditioned French restaurants. Kinda spoils the experience a little but I must concede that the food is extremely delicious.
* Ticks, and not leeches, are the bloodsuckers here, and despite being more dimunitive they somehow manage to be creepier.
* You get overtaken by mountainbikes while you are trudging along on foot. It's not a nice feeling.
* At no point do you really feel removed from civilization. Even when you reach the peak, you just have to look up to see all the ultra light planes above you to spoil the fun.

It still was one hell of a day. The high point of the trek was when I discovered, during the lunch break, my life's true calling. We shunned the restaurant in favour of cooking our own food. While doing so I realised that I've been sent on this earth to make pancakes. They really don't get better than the ones I made that afternoon. I tossed one golden beauty after another while the phirangs watched admiringly. It was a little disappointing to find out later that the admiration was actually for the way I sat with my legs crossed for that long. Buana remarked 'You actually sit like a fakir'. Buana's impressions as usual were a laugh riot. Especially on this trip, maybe because he was wearing army boots, he did the german impression all day long and had us in splits.

Some pictures.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Story Behind The Name Antwerp

I first titled this The story behind the name of my town, but calling it 'my town' seemed a little too intimate. After all I've been here just 8 months. I then changed it to The story behind the name of the town I live in and apart from being too long that felt too impersonal too, because there are things about this town that I really have an attachment to.

Now that I'm at the fag end of my contract, I thought I should chronicle a few sights and sounds from here. I start with the origin of the name Antwerp.

Legend has it that a giant thug, curiously named Antigoon (talk about non-intuitive names!), controlled the opening to the harbour and demanded a huge pay from the ships that passed. He would cut the hands of anyone who refused to pay. This went on till a roman soldier called Silvius Brabo turned up, cut Antigoon's hand and threw it away. This came to be called the place where the hand was thrown (werpen in dutch). In time, Handwerpen got corrupted, as names of towns usually do, to Antwerpen.

Voila! Here's the hand.


At the city's most famous square, the Groenplaats, there is a fountain commemorating the legend. A colleague tells me that the statue is anatomically incorrect because the weight is on the wrong foot, but hell, I wouldn't know.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Democracy ,eh?

They call my country a flawed democracy. Flawed? Aint it more like 'defunct'?

Reservations for the OBCs
Does anyone remember Rajiv Goswami? He made it to the front pages of every newspaper back in the 90s. Now he is reduced to a nice trivia that's thrown around in quiz competitions( Just out of curiosity I googled his name and found out that he died at 33, and he was jobless at the time.)
This time too, the goswamis will fight a spirited fight, but this time too they will lose. Government endorsed racism will continue. It's disheartening. We are not close to solving the caste problem, we are in fact in the process of making the boundaries clearer and the divides wider. There's something else that I find equally vile. There are people, some in my family too, who firmly believe in the caste system for all purposes, take very seriously their upper-class status afforded them by an accident of birth, but are opposed to the reservation issue only because they are disadvantaged by it.

We are proud of the riots. Of the dam too.
Gujarat bans a movie because an actor expressed an opinion. Who's in power there, Parthiv Patel? Reminds me of a rich kid in school who used to deny us access to his video games if we said anything that he didn't like to hear.

Oru Kutrapatrikai
Tamil Nadu bans the Da Vinci Code because they (some asslickers in power) felt it would hurt the sentiments of the "minority". I'll let AB, who happens to be a christian, have the last word "If your faith is fragile enough to be shaken by a badly written novel, then what's the point in having it?"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Captain Planet - Toon

Apart from religiously separating the recyclable stuff from my garbage and making a token donation to Greenpeace every year to silence my conscience, I must admit I haven't done too much for the environment. Trust me, I have strong opinons on the subject and have been known on occasion to get extremely preachy and pretentious about it. But deep down I am a doomsday prophet when it concerns our planet. I firmly believe we have set it on an irreversible path of destruction. If I needed a confirmation that the earth was in wrong hands I got it during two separate discourses by Toon, paraphrased here:
(change to dubbed-hong-kong-movie accent for better effect)
"The forests in Asia are full of bugs and snakes la. Here in Europe, they are clean. That makes it easy for people to appreciate la. We should get rid of the bugs and then people will start growing more forests."
"Geneticists should modify trees to take in carbon-monoxide and give out oxygen la. And then we should plant them in the cities la"

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Deppe Recommends - 2

Last weekend, I painted my masterpiece; Roberto's Kitchen. I'm proud of it, despite having to put up with the embarassment of wearing Roberto's girlfriend's work-clothes because I didn't fit into his. The mass that we attended had given me sufficient inspirations for various biblical stories, that I could almost see come alive on his walls, but Roberto chose to go with plain olive green. The biblical connection continued. My reward was a free ticket to The Da Vinci Code. Which brings me to the recommendation.

Movie of the month
I have no idea why all the reviews are calling it a bad movie because I really enjoyed it. Tom Hanks was a strange choice. I bet Dan Brown, being Dan Brown, would have preferred someone taller, darker and handsomer with a strong chin and high cheekbones and other pulp-fiction-hero stereotypes, but as always hanks doesn't ham. Audrey Tautou is easy on the eyes. So my verdict is that it's worth watching even if you have read the book, because IMO the movie is way better. And if you haven't read the book, then save yourself the trouble.

Book of the month

Have you wondered about small proteinaceous infectious particles that cause spongiform encephalopathies by resisting inactivation by procedures that modify nucleic acids or how mosaicism relates to the relative percentage of 45X cells within the body?If you answered yes, stop reading right now and seek medical help (and allow me to christen you Mendel Manja). The kind of mumbo-jumbo that you see above is exactly what Matt Ridley's 'Genome' is NOT about. It demystifies genetics for the man on the street explaining how genes determined everything about him; like how he ended up being a man and why he came to be on the street. Every chapter in the book picks up one gene on a different pair of chromosome in the human cell, and so the book has 23 chapters. The narrative is so simplified and enthralling that in the end I wished we had a few more pairs. This is definitely one of the best non-fiction works I've ever read.

Song of the month
Clear As The Driven Snow by Doobie Brothers.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Belgian news you couldn't care less about

Crime
On easter evening, a kid was a killed for an MP3 player. Judging by where the murder took place, everybody assumed it was some north africans who did it. Even the north africans seemed to acknowledge that it was one of them who did it. They went out on peace marches immediately after. Last week the culprits were caught; they turned out to be Poles. The prejudices this episode exposed was as shocking as the fact that someone could be killed for a stupid MP3 player.

Sports
Mol Wezel vs Meerhout wasn't exactly Arsenal vs Barcelona. Firstly they are BELGIAN clubs. If that's not already low enough, they play in the fourth division. I hope you get the insignificance. Those teams are WAY down there. Bhutan has better odds of becoming a world superpower than these teams do of making it to say the Champion's league. Still the fans turned up in the thousands. There were the painted faces, the flags, the clarions, the works. The atmosphere was great.

It's always better fun if you choose a team to root for and I randomly picked Meerhout. By the 80th minute I was so involved that I swore in Kannada when the striker missed the target. That must have sounded weird. I must say I really enjoyed the game. More importantly, and I admit this is a very sexist thing to say, the macho Sunday of Football and beer compensated for the washing and cleaning from the housewifey Saturday.

Fashion
Here's the latest from the fashion scene from around here. Summer is here and things have definitely brightened up. This particular costume spotted at the Royal Greenhouses is worthy of a special mention. The photographer risked a lot to get this snap; he could have so easily had the black footwear thrown at him.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gabon

When I cleared immigration in the airport in 10 flat minutes I thought it was sheer luck. When the taxi took me through a modern highway, I thought it was probably the only good road in the country. When I checked into the plush hotel room, with a gorgeous view of the beach, I thought it was an anomaly. I kept waiting for my conformation biases to be validated. I was convinced I would see squalor and disorder and abject poverty and all the other sterotypes that you associate with Africa. I had probably even unconsciously prepared myself to be non-chalant about it and all. Libreville turned out to be a surprise. The city is far from crowded; it's population is probably a little over Jayanagar's. The roads are wide and well-maintained and the traffic discipline is way better than Bangalore's. Despite some very african traits, like a president who has been getting "elected" term after term for the last 40 years, several things about this city are very european, like the cost of living, and the custom of saying "bon jour" to everyone you make eye-contact with and sitting around in cafes in the evening. It was not even very unsafe, by the second evening I had stopped wearing the secret money pouch. Of course, having not left the borders of the capital, I can't claim insights into the country. Besides, I was there for just four days, and I spent most of that time inside a switch room (which for some reason was cold enough to be a cryogenics laboratory). But every evening I went on guided tours with this man, Van Damme (thanks to S for the nickname. I feel stupid about not coming up with it myself, though).


Not knowing French was a huge handicap. Even with Van Damme, who has a decent grasp of written english, it was a 4 day long dumb charades. Sign language is inadequate: On friday, we went to the gabonese equivalent of a dhaba with Van Damme's friends, and most jokes were lost in translation. I was the only one with a grim face while the others were flipping over something apparently funny. Sign language can be embarassing. You don't even want to know how one of the guys explained to me that a particular local fruit was good for the libido. But I most rued not knowing french during one of the guided tours in the evening, when Van Damme pointed at a building and said "moss kay". Realising I hadn't understood, he took his hands off the wheel, bent over and said "Allah akbar", while still driving at 60kmph on a not-so-straight road.

My Gabon travelogue would be incomplete without a mention of this fascinating chair in the switch room.


Photos here

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Adventure ahead

The quality of my life at any given point can be judged by the amount of time I spend in front of the TV. And in what most certainly qualifies as a healthy sign, I haven't switched on my TV in the last few days. The highlight of my weekend has to be the cricket match that some of us desis played in the city park here in antwerp, watched by a lot of bewildered eyes. I was playing after more than a year and I can get pretty emotional about these things. The other major activity was to prepare for my first trip to Africa. I know it's the 21st century and I won't get to ask “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” on the banks of lake Tanganyika, but there is still a certain allure to Africa. There's also a tingling sensation in my tummy that comes from not knowing anything about Gabon except that it is ranked higher than India in the Fifa rankings (which is not saying much, because that's true about every country in the world except maybe the Vatican). There's also the matter of language. My french is pretty much restricted to "je ne parles pe la francais" , that I learnt recently and of course, "Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir" (who said you can't learn anything from Christina Aguilera?). Till I'm back, au revoir.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

No boneless kababs this weekend

Random notes from my trip to Italy. Photos here.
Friday 14 Apr: Charleroi airport
Cheap Airlines are a boon to mankind. They help you save a lot of money, which you can then spend on more useful things; like on taxis that you are forced to hire to reach the godforsaken airports from which these cheap flights take off. I don't want to invite lawsuits from airline companies, so I won't name them here, but if you are booking on an airline that has the letters r,y,a,n,a,i,r in its name, then make sure you have the means to reach the airport too.

Do not travel with newly weds. If you must, then rehearse how to pretend to be oblivious to giggles and sweet nothings whispered in your vicinity.

Pisa




Florence


Stood 2 hours in the queue to see Michelangelo's David. Every second was worth it. The statue's majesty, size and the attention to detail; everything about it is simply breath taking. Although when the breath returned I was wondering why these mega males have such modest and unflattering...ahem... It wasn't even all that cold in Israel.


Rome
The crowd at the easter mass confirmed that the pope is the leading superstar of the world.


Fontana di Trevi is a nice little fountain very famous with the tourists.The legend here is that if you throw a coin into the pond you are bound to return to rome. The coin I threw 3 years ago seemed to have worked! You can also wish for something while throwing coins. I emptied all the change I had.



Venice


Quote of the day came rather early in the morning while we had hardly stepped out of the station. "What's the big deal about this place? I'm not impressed"
I guess Venice has that effect. If you are not fascinated by it's history, not amazed by its quirkiness or are not curious about a way of life that's unlike any other, then all you notice is the dirty corroded underbelly exposed during the low-tide and the poorly maintained buildings lining the canals. But you must agree that you haven't seen anything like it anywhere else.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fighting the inertia

Ever since I got back from the coziest vacation of my life my mind has been a collection of a different thoughts all in brownian movement. It's the repeat performance of the oh-so-familiar standoff between a zillion voices. I waited long enough for order to be restored before I could get back to blogging, but it only got worse. What started off as a little reflection on where my life is headed ended up completely scrambling my sphagetti leaving me pissed off at the following things
- at myself, for taking such a SHORT vacation.
- at all the uncertainties that face me in my personal life, and mostly at myself for the whiner that they have turned me into.
- at NGO volunteers who volunteered just so they can say "I am a volunteer at an NGO". Worse still: volunteers who joined up to increase their chances of getting an admit to business schools.
- at myself, for not being able to figure out at 27, what I want to do with my life. And alternatively, I also feel pissed off about letting myself be pressured into finding a purpose in life.

Small hurrah
I had to come to europe to finally possess my first Satyajit Ray.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Crash

Watched Crash yesterday. Despite being set in a contrived coccoon where everyone is racist and/or is affected by racism, its a truly great film. Still in my humble opinion - rated highly by a demography that includes most people who answer to the name 'Deppe' - the academy got it wrong. Brokeback Mountain is superior. Forget who won the prize, has this been a good year for movies or what? Munich, Brokeback, Syriana, Crash....and I'm yet to watch Capote and Good Night and Good Luck.

Is it the smell of blood after banging my nose against the wall? Or is it the excitement of going to thavarumane thats blanking everything else? Or as traaks famously is believed to have quoted I've "officially run out of things to say". Break time. Good night and good luck.

Belgi Beer Roll

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Some More Noise

The blogathon has been an eye-opener; actually its been ruder than that, a kick in the groin if you will. Although I suffered no myopia, the extent of sexual abuse that this has revealed has been shocking to me. People have raised questions each more disturbing than the previous, some have offered solutions each more unsatisfactory than the other. If nothing, an issue is more out in the open than it had been. Lots of people have been dragged out of oblivion and have been made to acknowledge a problem. That's a useful first step.

They brought back unpleasant memories. I remember P's anecdotes, about the guys in bus, about the guy who trailed her all the way home, about the lunatic at her swimming pool, and how she had to grow up so much faster than she needed to. I can never forget L's face after a guy had just flashed his equipment at her, while we were all having chaat at a crowded place. The guy had dared to do that to a girl who was with atleast half a dozen guys, a couple of whom could box a bull down, but she chose to feign non-chalance instead of creating a scene. However, the memory that gives me the greatest shivers are of H's troubled countenance when she told me about her cousin who had taken advantage of her when she was barely out of her childhood. What was scary about it was that the sonuvabitch had a girlfriend that he was going to marry very soon. My blood curdles when I recall how he bragged to us about how much he loved her. He now has a girl child of his own and I still get tempted to break his marriage by telling his wife about his exploits (yes plural!).

I now realise how much more shit girls have to deal with while growing up. But boys have stories to tell too, although the sissy-complex will make sure most guys will never reaveal theirs'. I can remember someone reached for V's(who was nearly 20 then) groin a couple of times in the bus and he shouted "Manushya na neenu !" (Are you human?) which made the scared pervert scoot off the bus. Once in middle school, after our evening sanskrit class, B and I were walking through cubbon park to our bus stop when a middle aged man on a kinetic stopped us, gave us a piece of paper and asked "Where's this address?". Before either of us looked at the paper, we spotted that the guy's fly was open and he had a hard-on. In the next few seconds that are still a little blur in my memory we must have run a super human distance, but I can still vividly remember it took a few days for both of us to be normal again. Cubbon park was a congregation of weirdos. There was another exhibitionist who would show up every now and then, whistle to attract our attention and then masturbate. We usually were in a group and we could laugh about it, but whenever I had to go there alone I couldn't help feel very edgy. But even at that age it was so much easier to be a guy. We employed the services of two of our school footballers (who had chest hair by the time they were 15) and they sought out the guy and, believe it or not, stoned him. Forget the barbarism of our justice, it was a great cathartic release that ensured we carried no scar. Besides that was the only way we could deal with it; in a soceity filled with people who are either prudes or perverts, there are not too many people you can talk to. I studied in one of the few schools which had formal sex-education but it came when most of us were ready for grandchildren. We had derived enough knowledge through porn by then, and the average kids' impressions on sexuality were irreversibly linked with surreptitiousness and dirtiness, as a direct result of which I recall getting sucked into the culture of sniggering when 'Menstrual Cycle' was mentioned in class. That kind of misguided self-education coupled with lack of opportunities to decently express sexuality explains the convoluted ideas of the indian male. The dhak-dhak videos are chartbusters (pun not intended) while The Bandit Queen gets mauled by the censor board , and you hear seetis during the scenes of the nude women in the concentration camp in Schindler's List.

A couple of years ago, with a minimal agenda, I travelled alone to Rajasthan to live out the romance of backpacking. When my sis heard about my plan she sighed that she would never be able to do anything like that and she wished she was a guy too. My first impulse was to tell her that she can do the same when she is old enough, but I snapped out of that illusion in a tick and we just shared a cynical smile. Let alone backpacking in her own country, she cannot even think about jogging in the neighbourhood park, late-nights in dhabas or 2AM meals at Parry's and so many other things that defined my college days. I won't hesitate before admitting that the odds are stacked against women in this soceity. I wish I didn't have to get all worked up when I couldn't pick up my sister from her tuition or feel the terrible unease when S has to take an auto through a godforsaken place. I wish this was a safer place for the people I love.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The noise

You know how they tell you that our land is 'saare jahaan se accha'?
And they tell you about the decadence of western civilisation, the loose morals and all?

Read this.
Just now, if any freakin' guy tries to tell me that my culture is superior, the nearest shovable thing goes up you know what. I feel that familiar mixture of helplessness and rage and shame and sense of dirtiness.

Shady, thanks for the link. Here's my share of the noise.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Skate


No, I don't skate on my butt! And the photo is as bad as it is because its hard to stabilise your camera when you are laughing as hard as Buana was when he shot this. Since I'm still a tyro and it had been over a month since I last set the ice on fire, I wasn't exactly a symbol of elegance during the first ten minutes. Despite George's puns on 'stand up comedy' and my performance being unanimously voted by the Buana family as the funniest show since the muppets, I had a great time.














The unintentional comedy continued at dinner when I was trying to make conversation, in flemish, with Buana's 9-yr old kid Ayla. Despite the laughs, I am extremely proud of myself for the way my flemish has improved. In fact Buana acknowledges that my colleagues shift to French when they have to bitch about me. There's a rich compliment hidden there!

Later over nightcap, the conversation turned to 'dreams'. It was striking how common the arriving-in-office-without-your-pants dream is. But George raised a very disturbing question when he asked me 'But you cycle to office; how come you don't realise it before?'. I've been afraid to sleep ever since.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I want ban on thermal underwear

Now that my tickets are booked and my trip back home is sniffing distance away, it feels not so unhealthy to become homesick. I realise how much I miss my folks, friends, filter coffee, masala dosas, pani puri and all. Ah hell, I never thought I'd say this, even uppittu! Besides, I need a break from
° the animal feed that I cook and pretend is food.
° the crummy furniture; especially the one chair that now sits in the farthest corner of the living room because it still reeks of Rajat Wagle's* hair oil.
° the godawful smell in our air-tight corridor during dinner time; mixture of aromas from one north indian, a vietnamese, an east european and two south indian kitchens.
° the tamilian neighbour who even now starts looking for the coin she never dropped when I enter her peripheral vision.
° sleep walking in the cold to catch the 6:40 train.
° monthly sunshine quotas of 60 hours.
° Sawa's squealing laughter in the train that makes you wish there was no humour in the world.
° the laundromat socialising.
° watching movies alone because my potential companions would rather save that money and watch seven and a half movies in India.

There! that felt good. Now I can't wait to go home and whine about the pollution and the mosquitoes and the crowds and the dirt. Its exactly this kind of pessimism that'll kill me in 2036.

* Name changed to prevent the kind of sticky situation I once found myself in, when another protagonist stumbled upon this page while ego-surfing. Sooner or later everyone does google his/her own name.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

953031640 seconds to go...

According to this I die on May 13 2036. Satisfying to know I'll never have to put money into retirement plans. Don't bug me again dad.

Here's a selection of Bart Simpson's( darn, he'll still be 9 in 2036) chalkboard gags.

Cursive writing does not mean what I think it does
Grammar is not a time of waste.
A trained ape could not teach gym.
I cannot hire a substitute student.
I will not sleep through my education.
I will not fake my way through life
"Bart Bucks" are not legal tender
Funny noises are not funny
This punishment is not boring and pointless
Mud is not one of the 4 food groups
Adding "just kidding" doesn't make it okay to insult the Principal
The Good Humor man can only be pushed so far

I did not learn everything I need to know in kindergarten
I am not my long-lost twin
The truth is not out there
There was no Roman god named "Fartacus"
A trained ape could not teach gym
I will only provide a urine sample when asked
Sandwiches should not contain sand
A booger is not a bookmark
Teacher was not dumped -- it was mutual

I WILL NOT CUT CORNERS
" " " " " "
" " " " " "

Underwear should be worn on the inside
I do not have diplomatic immunity
There are plenty of businesses like show business
I do not have power of attorney over first graders
I am not a lean mean spitting machine
I was not the inspiration for "Kramer"

Monday, February 20, 2006

Paris


The first stop was the monument that's representative of the city itself. You'd think that something that's so overexposed would leave you knowing exactly what to expect, but the Eiffel Tower still takes your breath away. And the view from the top is something else!

I made all the predictable stops; Arc De Triomphe, La Defense, Champs Elysees and several McDonalds. Talking about predictability, staying at youth hostels always ends up being fun. After a day when you think you don't have a drop of energy left, its amazing how you can spend the late night drinking with people whose names you can't pronounce. It was well past two when we finally hit the sack.When I woke up, my dorm-mates had turned a little unfriendly. They accused me of snoring! I told them I was just practising the French 'R', but it's an untrusting world out there. Despite that little sore point, for all the budget travellers to Paris, Deppe recommends the Aloha hostel.

I spent almost the entire Sunday at the Louvre. Sure enough, I paid a visit to the most famous resident, Mona Lisa, and call me a philistine but my first impression was of disappointment ('Its so small'). If it wasn't for all that I've read about the painting, like the divine proportions, and the painting being an androgynous self-portrait, and if it wasn't for the tens of people jostling to get a closer look, or that it was the only item behind bullet proof glass, I'm sure I would have walked past it without a second look. I think I was subconsciously expecting the real painting to evoke the kind of jaw-dropping that the Sistine chapel, for instance, inspires. But despite her enigmatic smile and eyes that follow and all, all I could think was that the lady needs to enrol for aerobics. However I can now confirm what Dylan said "Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues, you can tell from the way she smiles". That apart, I must say with a little help from the audio guide, the Louvre is mindblowingly engrossing.

More pictures.

Monday, February 13, 2006

God verdomme!

Right about now, my social life is about as happening as Mordechai Vanunu's. Being single on Feb 14th just rubs it in. How I long to be in Bangalore, celebrating Valentine's day the traditional Indian way; by burning greeting cards and terrorising wayward college kids. Man! Am I just being paranoid and delusional or has everything been falling apart over the last couple of weeks? I'm not just talking about all those embassies going up in smoke. For one, there's my job! Almost every day I forget to take my brain along to work and I do just fine. Its depressing. If I wasn't such a greedy pig I'd give away my salary in charity. What's scarier is that I did not suffer the weekend-is-over blues on Sunday evening. It is an all encompassing ennui. As a direct consequence I find myself suffering from a huge bout of blogger's block. So if you see this post end abruptly...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Stealth

Did you know that there is actually an award for the worst performances in Hollywod called the Razzies (motto- "Cremating Cinematic Crap"), which are handed out the day before the Oscars? Almost every Madonna movie wins one of these, Tom Cruise is an eternal favourite and Stallone is a confirmed hall-of-shamer with 8 wins.
However there are a couple of things wrong with the Razzies:
° They are not serious enough.
° The actors, bloody killjoys that they are, never come to collect them.

How do you, in fair justice, punish something as hideous as the movie ‘Stealth’? What the hell was Jamie Foxx thinking when he signed up for it? Did he lose a bet? Did they kidnap his mom and hold her at ransom? After Collateral and Jay, THIS???

Just like they appreciate an actor's performance by giving him/her an oscar, they should also symbolically rap them on the knuckle by taking away one for every two bad movies they make. Not unlike the negative marking scheme in NTSE. Even if that means that Adam Sandler(or Vin Diesel for that matter) would need a miracle, a brain-transplant and several births to break even.

Monday, February 06, 2006

the "save the earth" tag

Do everything mentioned here..
...and
* Avoid using polythene bags, humvees and nuclear weapons of all kinds. Trust me on the plastic bags. Its damn easy to refuse them.
* Turn veggie. 7 pounds of grain are needed to make a pound of beef! Stick to poultry if you need meat while you sip on Old Monk rum.
* Kill as many chinese medicine men as possible. The points you accumulate can be encashed for virgins in heaven. (That was a sad bait, but I've heard people still fall for that). Rule applies for Jap whalers too.
* You don't have to turn Amish or Hasidim, but there are some simple restraints that can help too. Turn down the room heater for instance. Most of the times sweaters do the job just as well.
* Make less childrens I say!

I'm yet to do the math on Toilet Paper vs Water. Results later.

the 'my music' tag

I terminate the tag chain right here woooohahahhaha.

I got tagged by - Jax.
Total volume of music on my computer: About 6 GB
Title & Artist that I last bought : X&Y - Coldplay.
Song I am playing right now : "Time Stands still" by Rush

Five+ Songs that I like/have been hooked onto
Janis Joplin - "Down on Me" (The woman's a genius.)
Porcupine Tree - "Drown With Me"
Cranberries - "Linger"
David Gray - "Babylon"
Van Halen - "Could This Be Magic".
Eric Clapton - "Let It Rain".
Morphine - "Scratch"
INXS - "Suicide Blonde"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

TODO: title comes here

Just as the winter and it's short days were bringing in a mind-numbing monotony into my life, Gunds gave me an idea that has brightened up things a little; Swimming! I've always loved it and the only reason I don't do it more often in Bangalore is that I never managed to do a single length at the Sankey tank pool without killing a couple of kids. (At the risk of sounding like the typical irritating NRI) It's so bloody crowded! In stark contrast, the neighbourhood pool here is so much bigger and has so few people using it. The most notable thing is the unwritten lane-usage rules. The first lane is strictly for socialising housewives, happily exchanging gossip as they duck-paddle from end to end, while the eighth is for the pros who glide like porpoises. I made the fourth all my own.

Apart from inspiring me to start swimming again, Gunds also passed me some knowledge that has vastly improved the quality of my life; the recipes for Dal Tadka and Rajma Masala. If you are sneering at me or thinking that this qualifies me for the first lane of the swimming pool, I say 'to hell with you and the gender stereotypes'.

Now that I have firmly established my credentials as a guy free of all gender bias, allow me to betray you by talking about the australian open this time. Boy! Is the gender gap closing fast or what?

What can I say about the women’s champion except that she reminds me of a young Mrs. Doubtfire without her make-up and fake jobs. Don't we all expect a little feminine grace in the ladies' game?

Federer dude, you are *this* close to being my all time favourite tennis player. And I'm sure when you retire from the game you will make Sampras's records look pedestrian, but DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO CRY AFTER EVERY GRAND SLAM YOU WIN?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Brussels Auto Show

These pics are from the Brussels auto show. They were all there....
...from the beautiful ones that didn't even need the hot babes to stand around them and smile like retards to attract the crowds....














...to the plain vulgar! (I wish I could ride it once and then destroy it)













There was also a pretty nice exhibition of cars that appear in the Tintin comic series.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Deppe recommends

Song of the Month
At my former workplace, at exactly noon every single day, they switched on the music in the cafeteria to indicate that lunch was ready to be served. And on every single day during the 3 and a half long years I worked there they played the same tape over and over again: Kenny G. The sound of the sax got so strongly associated with thoughts of food, that if Pavlov hadn't discovered conditioned reflexes, I surely would have. But unlike the famous dog, I never salivated; the thought of the bad food just prompted some disconcerting peristalsis. I came to hate the sax. The instrument did redeem itself at the hands of the uncle who performs live at Java City every weekend. But a few weeks ago I heard Morphine and completely forgave the saxophone.Comprising of a drummer, a guy who plays two saxophones simultaneously and a vocalist with a powerful voice who plays a guitar with just two strings in it, they produce some simple but very distinctive sounds. Deppe especially recommends the song 'Scratch'.

Book of the month
Marquez's 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. As the narrative effortlessly swings back and forth between a quaint fantasy world and a captivating latin american reality, you are lulled into a listening mode where you don't even notice realism being sacrificed. Six generations are chronicled in a little over 500 pages (Joyce wouldn't be able to explain an orgasm in that many !) so the book has a very racy pulse to it. The only piss-off is that all the characters are either called 'Arcadio' or 'Aureliano'. All of Aureliano's kids - 17 out of marriage and a couple legits- are all called Aurelianos. Its understandable if a psycho like Michael Jackson calls his kids Michaels I, II and III ( thats a true fact!), but in general I never understood the philosophy behind the father and son having the exact same name. Definitely made history confusing- I never could be sure if it was Louis the 14th or the 40th that was guillotined, and which of the King Georges was loony. Extremely irritating!

Movie of the Month
Jarhead is about the first of the gulf wars and about the frustrating inaction that the ground troops experienced; the first shots they fired were at the sky to celebrate victory. Evidently inspired by Full Metal Jacket, this movie has its moments too. Considering that his first movie was an all-time great (American Beauty) and his second(Road to perdition) was pretty nice too, this is relatively disappointing, but my verdict is still that Sam Mendes is yet to make a bad movie.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Krikket

Krishnamachari Srikkanth; remember the dashing opening batsman in the 80s, who retired from cricket to turn into a professional clown.
He's doing pretty well for himself. He is reportedly paid millions to appear in the DD shows. His primary function is to make Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath look like first-class intellectuals in contrast.(When that ploy failed they hired Mandira Bedi and a dysfunctional wardrobe for additional distraction)

Now Kris is diversifying. Here he is stating the obvious in his blog in his inimitable style. Hats off to his knack for the mot juste and his usage of just the right adjective to bring out the subtle differences in meaning; notice the usage of "ordinary", "very ordinary" and "very very ordinary".

Whats next for Kris? A column in hindi? That should be fun!