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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wind, Thunder, Aunts and Engagements!!!

The wind is blowing hard today.

I have never seen winds coming howling in thus with no rain in tow.

I am awestruck, inspired and to be honest, a little aroused, at the sight of such raw and untrammelled fury.

The thunder has been crashing all day but like an estranged lover, was merely knocking about in the distance unwilling to come closer.

With the advent of the night and perhaps, quite like the errant and usual Hindi Film hero, bolstered with a few shots of whisky, it has come thundering in and is making quite a racket all for nothing.

Am I being too idiotic for words or are my words being too idiotic for what I wish to express?

The past week has been hectic and filthy. There is honestly no other word to express it. My things are jimmied up and jammed worse than the preserves aisle of Somerfield.
(Explanation: Preserves are the English equivalent of jams and Somerfield is a well know dept store)

I should be working on my insane case studies of US Aid and try to make sense out of self-adulatory Americans web sites, but to be honest; my mind is scattering and my fingers and eyes unwilling to set themselves to task.

The bloody wind refuses to give up, its practically moaning up the street, bottles, tin cans anything is grist to its mill of sounds. Am actually impressed with its virtuoso solo’s on the tin cans.

I have recently been to Aberdeen to meet my aunt and uncle up there and ate without mercy on my dieting regimen. As of now, am paying with a nasty bout of tummy ache now, but all that is past.

The week has passed and it is Monday. I haven’t written a word in the past week apart from my lunatic case studies of US Aid. I have tried to write at least one chapter a week on my idiocies here in the land of kilts and scotch and girls with angel faces & figures full enough to make buxom North-Indian girls curl up and wish to die.

Does this constitute as indiscipline? Hmmm, I think it does, but I am going to overlook it this time.

Took a bus to Aberdeen (The mouth of the river don, as informed by my aunt) and was still not happy with the seating arrangements as with brit rail. Travel in the UK is definitely not comfortable by any means. The seats don’t recline and the area allotted per bottom is hardly sufficient and I am a man who hardly has ANY bottom, I crap you not.

Rail travel costs more and takes less time, buses cost less and take more time. Its simpler to try and book tickets in advance via the net and then the difference is not much.

Driver was Polish and rude, perhaps thought he was still in Poland and being the dictator of the sole means of conveyance. Put him to rights with a few choice words including suggesting that he find the difference between Poland and Scotland. The Scots girl behind me murmured a quiet “well done” and looked quite pretty. Unfortunately my mind was not on the ball and promptly fell asleep, which was quite unlike my usual self.

I have been wondering on the entire plight of the Indians being brought up here. The poor guys are neither here and nor there, to put it politely. I don’t mean offence, however, and the whole issue has probably been dealt with far more effectively and much more eruditely than I could ever dream of doing.

Its just that I wonder at times…..what they think and feel…..

I have recently shifted to the faculty residences in Winton Drive and my new flatmate is a Chinese guy who speaks seriously mangled English. I wonder if he understands me, but he seems to be the quiet and decent sort. Heaven knows what sins he must have committed to have drawn a partner like me!!!

The rooms are smaller and the apartment is for two guys only which makes the kitchen smaller as well, however on the whole its quite cozy. The floors creak like they are on their last breath and the views from the windows are anything but scenic. However, the reduced rent and the extra income makes it all right.

That bloody wind!!! Now, its going in for the full orchestra of effects what with thunder playing a drunk percussionist and very much the worse for wear!!!

I was on call as an ASR on Wednesday night and got a call from a rather distraught lady that her hot water was not available. Upon landing up, I not only got the hot water going but a rather libidinous undergrad drunk on my hands and the choice of a beer. My senior warden got a little worried after 10 mins and came looking for me and found me enjoying the beer and inebriated company!!!

After regaining his cool, which took a while, he stated that that the residences and I deserved each other. Am still undecided on how to take the statement. But at least he did have a grin on his face, an evil one, but a grin nonetheless J

I think I like the job….

I also volunteered for additional duty today as it was paying about 6 pounds an hour and it was for the time I would usually take a nap in. So, I basically napped about in the reception area and worked a bit on my assignment. The Chief Senior Resident came in and we blew the breeze a while roving on various topics like comparative religions & mythology to Arthurian and Celtic (pronounced Kel-tic) studies in early Britain. He is brilliantly informed and is working on his doctorate. The guy is immensely strong and extremely likeable.

Am I finally developing bisexual tendencies ??

Will think on this later….not important enough to take space on frontal lobe as of now.

Have been reading the diaries of Adrian Mole, kindly lent to me by the Warden, Kevin Lee who seems to like me and quite often invites me to his study for HUGE tots of Hennessey’s XO Cognac and gives me lots of good advice on do’s and don’ts.

Kevin Lee is a doctor who is doing his further studies here and is a brilliant mind at practical realities and pragmatic decisions. When asked why I wanted to be a resident, I had replied that because I liked Kevin and the way he invited me into the Halls of Residence when I first arrived. Basically, he is a really good sort.

I am absorbed by the intricacies of british life and its customs and quaint lore. The people here treat their children like strangers and often expect them to fend for themselves and even going to the extent of asking them for rent money if they continue to stay at home after their Class 12th’s.

The diaries of Adrian Mole were written by Sue Townsend and were a rage around the eighties and documents the life of a growing teenager in those years with an interesting cast of characters starting with his dysfunctional parents, loving but strict granny and his barmy but beautiful girlfriend. The humour is understated and typically british but the insight that it offers into brit culture, thinking and the lives of the middle classes is mind blowing in its context and content.

The series of books could be an interesting crash course for those wishing to study here in the future and could be taken as an interesting reference point for all the criticism and issues faced by the brits today.

The bloody wind is still howling under my window and much as I love the sound, I am actually dreading having to walk to college tomorrow morning in that biting blast off the sea.

The bloody Scots have evil grins as they look at our pinched and screwed up faces and I think, for once, they can be forgiven for smiling at our predicaments. It was after all, our choice to come to this inhospitable environment. And I thought not having to sweat would be nice!!!

Recently I got to hear of my cousin Raboo’s engagement and impending doom with trepidation and extreme fear and 'tis a glad man I am that my presence there is not a fact!!! The poor, poor man, he has my deepest condolences for he was a good man to know and talk to. I will grieve for him and burn candles to the memory of his smiles and laughter which won’t be ever heard again.

I used to have a great rep as a jester and eternal trouble-maker and I do miss teasing all my other aunts, but to be honest, the present state that I am in as well as their ongoing obsession with this institution of social contractual and highly ritualistic suicide leave me with no option but to turn a stone ear to all their pleas. If I am to listen to them and arrive in Guwahati airport as of now, I will be measured up, weighed in, engaged, married and sent off to honeymoon before I can utter the word jetlag!!!

In the same vein, I was also quite nicely requested by one of my favourite younger cousins to…
“……n bring home an English chick (it’ll be worth d look on everybody’s face)”

My answer to the same was as follows;

“….Lastly, but not the least, kindly do away with the idea of flooring me with a brit babe just for the looks on the faces of our HUGE clans. I know, I used to love the idea of scaring the utter and complete shit out of my relations with my wild antics and perhaps I still do, but having to end up MARRYING a girl just for teasing people would be a horrible idea anyhow. So, though I hate to actually say no to a brilliant idea for getting all our folks to go total BATSHIT, I must, most respectfully decline your outrageous offer. :) Apologies. Any other stunts you may wish to pull would have my complete blessings and if needed, you can apply to me for funds against the same”

The bloody wind seems to have blown itself out, there is an unearthly silence all around. Think I’ll cash in on a few hrs of slumber.

Adios all

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Blank Spaces and the Words




Sunday;

What is it about a blank word document that sings a siren call to my nerves and synapses to fill it up with utterly meaningless shit and gibberish, of no use to anyone else and of ultimately no other use to myself except to remind me that I wasted an hour writing this shit?

I am a sick, sick man and I usually find justifications for every stupid thing that I do, so allow me to find one for this as well. I could say that writing is one of things that saves me; the discipline and the abstraction of putting m life and my thoughts into words, everyday, helps me cope with shame and its first cousin, despair.
Or I could say that I enjoyed reading and writing. I liked words. Words didn't shout or make loud noises, which pretty much defined the rest of my family. Well, once in a while, I like to make loud noises and shout as well, usually in Capital Letters or BLOCKS.
For newer internet users Caps of Capital letters means talking loudly here and writing in blocks, LIKE THIS means shouting in in net-language.

I know, I know, as if English wasn’t enough

I like to write and I also realise that I write a lot of nonsense, descriptive nonsense, but nonsense still. I mean, shit is shit, however you describe it.
The point is that descriptive writing is very rarely entirely accurate. In fact, some sort of law should be passed in a determined attempt to put a stop to this sort of thing and introduce some honesty into reporting. And this should have been done a long time ago.
Thus, if a legend said of a notable here that "all men spoke of his prowess" any bard who valued his life would add hastily "except for a couple of people in his home village who thought he was a liar, and quite a lot of other people who had never really heard of him."

I like the entire neatness of orderly rows of evenly spaced writing all in the same size, just marching along the white space of a blank document. There is something very relaxing and very Zen about the whole process. After my actual handwriting, anything would be better, but seriously…..

My writing is like, one moment it is an orderly, matter-of-fact printing; the next a series of angular runes. Then it would be curly cursive script. Then it would be pictograms in some ancient, evil and forgotten writing that seemed to consist exclusively of unpleasant reptilian beings doing complicated and painful things to one another...

You get the picture….

My brother can’t ever understand this huge fad or obsession of mind. He is, in fact, functionally literate. That is, he thinks of reading and writing like he thinks about boots -- you needed them, but they weren't supposed to be fun, and you got suspicious about people who got a kick out of them.
Of the early school mates I had, the clans of the back-benchers inc. and chalk-throwers assorted brotherhood's hated writing for all kinds of reasons, but the biggest one was this:
writing stays. It fastens words down. A man can speak his mind and some nasty bastard will write it down and who knows what he'll do with those words? You might as well nail a man's shadow to the wall! Ergo, writing was bad and reading what anyone else wrote was worse!!
The clans were amazingly illiterate and were therefore much appreciated in the various unions and factories around the city and even in certain families of known repute (ill) and close relations to operations of the jet shades.

My granny always held that the dude upstairs invented schools for children, on the basis that since reading and writing were quite difficult it was best to get them over with early.

It’s not as if I think that I am writing words that will last forever. These words would last for a few weeks, maybe even a day if my server decides that he’s had a day and needs time off to go and see his babe at the servicing centre.

All this finally gets deleted, much like an old newspaper being thrown away the next day. But there is always hope……that a few might hang on, in people’s minds or heads. Or more likely like old newspapers, might be quite the reverse.

But then all this is prelude to my actual reasons for even starting to write. Yesterday was Diwali and apparently even today is Diwali. Festivals are often merely an excuse and are understood only when you are with your family and friends because they are merely a means to bring together the same under the guise of rites, rituals and humour for the inherent idiocy of the said rites and rituals.

Well, we had quite a shindig (American for GREAT PARTY) here at our halls of residence. It started with a very British bloke belting out bhajans with a rather nasal harmonium, in rather fluent Hindi and the rest of the audience either awestruck like us or sniggering away at the rest of us who had never seen such a sight before. It was quite a sight I assure you....

There was a rather nice evening veggie meal with naan’s, dal, sabji and pulao and pakoda’s and gulab jamun’s. After weeks of not seeing Indian food, the mob more or less broke down at the sight of the delicacy’s. The event was organised by the Glasgow Univ. Hindu Society and it was quite a show with party games and such, followed by a lot of dancing.
The Indian bucks just rolled back their sleeves and got right down to the shoulder shimmy and a lot of light bulb changing with two hands, bhangra basically. The girls were more or less shunted aside as the blokes of bhangra got into the act. There were no crackers or fireworks as the same would require about 116 different licenses and the police and paramedics standing in attention.
But the hindi party hits of last year were still a treat for the people who have been subsisting on bread, butter and tea and the incomprehensible music of these firang’s!!!

Anyway, the party broke up at about 4 am in my flat kitchen with all my female flatmates in rather compromising positions with the Indian studs, about half the liquor of Glasgow in my kitchen and me kicking and rooting people in rather interesting situations out of the flat.
It was an interesting evening, the sort dreamt by Indian undergrads that bring them out in pimples by the score and create harder foundations of studying abroad than concrete or parental recriminations ever could.

I realise that I am being nasty, petty and horribly cynical, but hell that’s me, so deal with it.
The simple fact is this that like an escape from the boundaries of home, the mere absence of anyone to question their acts make them half delirious with joy and more than half drunk. And to anyone who is in their early twenties, the other fact of having to return to a life of drudgery, actually working for a living and worse of all, MARRIAGE has the effect of doubling their intensity at partying.
I just love this place and encourage one and all without discrimination; the devil and I would have much in common, methinks.

I must also point that while noting down the activities of other, I was by no means an inactive participant in the revels and no mere looker-on. I had more reason than anyone else, I was over the hill according to the youngsters and at present the most successful at their given objectives of the meaning of fun.
The only thing was that since I had been made an ASR so was a bit worried about the noise levels and if the attention of the warden would be attracted. Turned out that we had the quietest party in the year and no one even knew we were having a party.

The only casualty was a “Faccha” a fresher baccha as we call them who slumped off on three pegs and rather openly admired my flatmates obvious assets. The compliment was quite well taken, however before the youngster could end up in either a situation that could be embarrassing for him or for me (Him, if the poor girl got upset and me, if the girl liked the compliments and took him to bed!!!)

So, anyway, I got him in an armlock and got him home, where the dratted fellow actually started bawling about how his mom asked him not to come to “Phoren” land and that he would get “Polluted” and which he was now and how much he missed his mom and his spicy food and how insipid the food was and how he longed for his mom, how polluted he was, how insipid the food was and how he wished he had listened to his mom…..
I tell you, it was not the first time I had put a junior to bed, undressing and all, but I was stuck at perhaps my recollections of an old senior of mine putting me to bed on my first ever drinking bout. And I did feel immensely sad at being so old as to be the one getting these idiots into bed and not the other way around.

To assuage my feelings of guilt, I invited the poor red-faced and totally embarrassed boy back the next day and cooked him the spiciest curry I could. The potatoes got burnt and the chicken was over-done and this guy just dug in and I swear I felt a prickle of awe for anyone missing their food so much. Now I understand my cousin's looks when I would dig into food at their place during my undergrad days...:D

I was laid low for two days after the party with a bitter cough and cold, however I am rallying and am off to class on Monday. I guess, I should call it a day here because it is Monday now and I am dead bushed and I have no more energy to write or type anymore.

Tuesday;

I am in Scotland!!!

It has taken me 4 weeks of unrelenting sightings of bloody white people everywhere to convince me of the fact.

No, I don’t mean it that way.

Its just that today as I was climbing the steep upgrade on Botanical Gardens, I felt the slight twinges on my legs, but I went on walking without taking my usual gasping breaths and breaks. I went on walking till I got to the University and I was sweating freely but I had walked the whole 2 miles of steep upgrades without a stop and my ankles and leg muscles didn’t let me down.

Probably wont be able to do it tomorrow, but as I was coming back home from the Univ. today I suddenly felt different. I realised that I was in a totally different place and absolutely unaware of it, till that moment. The last four weeks had been so hectic and fierce in their pace that I was too wrapped up in my schedule to have time to appreciate the fact of my existence in a completely different area.

I meet and greet people with a “cheers mate” or more like “Chirrrs Maait” as the Scots would say, and “Saary fer det, maaait” !!! I have time for this, instead of worrying about where I am supposed to be next or what I have to finish up before tomorrow.

I am eating of foreign food, which is basically anything that can be microwaved and its usually gross and horrible, which might account for my shrinking waistline. I cant still get into the trousers sewn for me in college, but I am hoping I will be able to soon. My jeans are loose anyhow and the t-shirts now have some cloth to billow in the stiff wind instead of draping itself unflatteringly over my curves.

I spend a little more on food than I should because I am constantly looking for fat free and low fat foods. But then, in the long run I think its worth it. Or at least I hope so!

The cold is setting in and the wind is biting. Even on a sunny day, you better be prepared for a stinging wind instead of the balmy breezes we are accustomed to. No wonder the bloody brits wanted to conquer the southern hemispheres; they needed the sun!!!

But everywhere that I see, it’s the brown faces, the ones with the sharp noses, sometimes slanting eyes, the quick hands and the ever moving hands which intrigue me the most. The British have every right to be bitter about the influx of foreigners who take their jobs. Long, long ago, watching this very phenomenon on the streets of Mumbai I had written some lines, maybe parodied or incorporated from another’s, but mine in its inscription in my diary–

“It is the exiles who own the earth; because they are tough enough to walk without shoes, eat stale crusts and even mate with strange women. For they will survive. Walk any road and you will find a foreigner making money out of the locals. Look up in the sky and see the wild geese flying across the moon.”

This phenomenon exists and I remember the lines with clarity as I scribbled them onto my battered old blue notebook that survived 5 years of law school and 4 years of practice and finally came home to roost in my desktop and now in this laptop.

Even today, perhaps as I write these lines, I will remember them again and perhaps that’s what I have been attempting to do with blank spaces of paper or memory on my computer. Attempting to fill them up with accounts, thoughts, images of my life, of my experience, in a manner that I would be able to understand and retain, if not in my memory, then at least in here. So, perhaps, this is not shit, not meaningless gibberish, of no use to anyone else.
Perhaps this is of use and if of no other, then merely to remind me of the times when I was so full of the sap of life that I could imagine no greater happiness than to inscribe it in regular flowing typescript that would fill up the blank spaces, page after page, recording, reminding me of the times I have had, the moments I have lived….

And perhaps, it is this siren call of these blank spaces that speaks to me of the future which is also gloriously blank and unknown. Someone, perhaps the one above had led my feet to all they have been to and now to Glasgow and I am but a grain in his universe.
So, I write, retain, note and led my feet walk and my fingers talk.
For the blank spaces beckon…..

Friday, October 20, 2006

Truthful truths?

The hard truth, the bitter truth, the simple truth….

Why is truth so hard, always bitter, and never simple?

Why can truth not be easy, good or even acceptable?

Why is truth always a perspective which we wish to be associated with and hardly ever associate ourselves to?

The so called father of our nation even wrote a book about it and named it My Experiments with the Truth. The recent movie Lage Raho Munnabhai, comes up with a new ideology which is basically a take on satyagraha. Gandhigiri as it is known is very fashionable right now and to be honest if I could the person I would most wish to send flowers to would have been the father of the nation. However, that's mine own thinking and not necessarily involve others.

But my opinions and idiosyncrasies aside, why is truth so abhorrent to the world at large? And yet, why is it so much in demand though not for sale?

If people declare that they find the truth to be acceptable, well then, allow me to stand in for the world at large and state that I do find it abhorrent and would state it only when no better alternative presents itself. This is obviously an untruth.

Recently, my cousin Sean lent me a book by this author called Danny Wallace and I have only started and presently am on about chapter 3. The book is called Yes Man and is about the author’s comic wanderings when he decides to say yes more in his life and attempts to say yes to almost anything in his life. The premise is enthralling and the language coherent though colloquial and the pace extremely active. The point that he questions at about chapter 3 is whether he should say yes to everything despite embarrassment, dangers, troubles or even violence and I stopped at that point because reading the question struck me as being related to the question of truth and how applicable was it in this scenario?

Do we say the truth? If we do, do we say it in every scenario ever imagined or real? At what cost do we state the truth? Do we consider the damage to self or to others by such a decision of being truthful? Is it serving any purpose in our lives to continually say the truth? Am I sounding too much like a fanatic if I keep on questing after the truth, only truth and everything else but the truth? A classic line comes to mind which goes like; the presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to those who think they've found it.

My old professor in criminal law told me when in trouble, always tell the truth; you can be sure most people won’t believe you.

On the whole, I was quite a truthful person, but it seemed to me that there were times when things didn't divide easily into "true" and "false", but instead could be "things that people needed to know at the moment" and "things that they didn't need to know at the moment".

A very well regarded and beloved aunt of mine had a rather pragmatic attitude to the truth: she told it if it was convenient and she couldn't be bothered to make up something more interesting. Hers was a mind of meretricious duplicity, a mind that regarded truth as a reference point but certainly not as a shackle and a mind that could think her way through a corkscrew in a Bay of Bengal cyclone without touching the sides. But then, that’s an extreme, a likeable extreme but still an extreme.

However, the truth is not always as we perceive it or wish it to be. Truth is brutal, hard and merciless and one does not compete with it.

In fact as one of my favourite author’s put it - Hypocrisy is just another kind of cruelty and the truth is simply a bully we all pretend to like.

He also went to declare that the truth of all things is more often found in music than in the books of philosophy. Now that is a truth I can accept willingly, however it is not pertinent to my query.

And there are times when you would wish for the truth and the truth itself is inaccessible. Again, as a lawyer I would find that sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known.

Another author adored and revered by me stated it best when he said that in the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap, and much more difficult to find...

Why am I so interested in the truth? Perhaps because I wish to know it always and yet conceal mine own from others. Perhaps because I wish to have the strength and the courage to state certain facts open to public scrutiny but the beast on my back would not allow it for fear of falling from its perch.

Whatever someone says or argues about in this context, the one true thing about truth will always be that the truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head. Or mine for that matter.

But what of truths that should be known to one and all? What of public truth, what of transparency? What of political truth’s, social truth’s and even economical truth’s (pun fully intended)

And if you are in either organized religion or politics, which are basically the same thing, its amazing. You tell the people a lie, and then when you don't need it any more you tell the people another lie and tell them they're progressing along the road to wisdom. Then instead of laughing they follow you even more, hoping that at the heart of all the lies they'll find the truth. And bit by bit they accept the unacceptable.

It was said of a man whose works I knew, that the truth was what he told, but honesty was sometimes not the same thing. Most hindu's should know this person quite well. Is there some truth to even his teachings?

In my twisted world of the past, people said things like "quite possibly we shall never know the truth" which meant, in my personal dictionary, "I know, or think I know what the truth is, and hope like hell it doesn't come out, because things are all smoothed over now."

There are times when you can peel away the lies, and the truth would emerge, naked and ashamed and with nowhere else to hide but would you want it then?

Silences can wound as surely as the twisting lash. But sometimes, being silent is the only way to tell the truth. And some silences would always be more precious and even more honest for us all, no matter how errable or misunderstood than the cold, unloving truth of their world alone or of mine.

..And then again .nothing has to be true forever. Just for long enough, to tell you the truth.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Economists Versus Lawyers

The internet is a lot like a child's toy, the more you play with it, the more variations you can use it for. That’s its greatest advantage and hence the reason for why younger flexible minds with more free time find it such a pleasure and older minds with more focus and lesser time find it such a nuisance. This has nothing to do with my rant, I was just stuck by this thought and thought to write it down. Not a cliche but almost one. Anyway, onwards....

The Brits and Scots need everything substantiated which is a bit of a bore, however to a legal mind its actually wonderfully liberating and enervating though not necessarily utilitarian. Which means that this is basically a rant and so it begins......

Like most people with no grasp whatsoever of real economics, I had equated "proper financial control" with the counting of paperclips and fancy doodling on graph papers and fancier canoodling with the prettier undergrads.

I mean, hello, Economists are worse than lawyers!!! We lawyers try and explain everything that has been screwed up by others but the economists try and justify everything that they themselves have screwed up and call it progress!!! Its crazy how they come up with weird theories which somehow make sense, well, at least until you stop listening and start analysing and sometimes even then!!!

It wasn't until about a hundred or so years ago that they replaced trial by ordeal here with trial by lawyer, and that was only because they found that lawyers were nastier. I guess the next evolutionary step would be management by economists.

In a manner of speaking I can understand how my granddad who passed with Tripos honours in economics from Cambridge was such a fine lawyer. He finished 3 years of convoluted economics, made sense of it and won an award (Buchanan) for doing so. Law must have been a joke for him and later on politics was just mental relaxation!!!

But in another manner of speaking, economics opens your mind to possibilities that I could not imagine. Rooted in the concrete realities of law, I find my previous education to be akin to a springboard from which I can take enormous leaps of faith and abstract thinking which is all very applicable, SINCE it is economics!!! Such as piracy is a crime, but if practiced by a city government on a busy river it would be sound economics and perfectly all right as there is solid economic growth though not necessarily economic development. The political connotations need not concern us presently.

Economics or rather development economics is an unassuming, overlapping and completely insane amalgamation of the worlds of practical application and abstract thinking, where individuality is far better regarded and more jealously upheld than even in law.

The way I can actually make the leap between concrete facts and abstract theories simply with the aid of logic (ergo cogit sum - I think, therefore I am) simply gives me a mind orgasm and esp. when my professors start pulling our collective legs and I rear up and get started on trying to get those legs back is sometimes much better than even practicing law.

I usually operate on the intuitive and yet am severely grounded in common sense and being pessimistic, utterly cynical and mercenary by nature and education, I am starting to understand the subtle dimensions of thought, theory and practice and beginning to appreciate the differences and the intricate and convoluted inter-relations of the elements, factors of change, currents and trends and so much more.

However, I am much deficient in much of my application as I haven’t studied much eco beyond my 12th standard and hence make mistakes which aren’t made by usual eco grads. However, economists are generally a very theoretical lot and extremely retentive though not aggressive enough by nature or education.

Hmmm, enough, basically, I am having quite a cool time. I recently got the post of Asst. Senior Resident (ASR) in my Halls of Residence which pays about okay with almost non-existent hours of work. So after an exhausting interview session (NO, you aren’t allowed to use force to stop drunk undergrads from killing themselves. NO, this is not India and YOU cannot have sexual relations with any undergrad under 18 - as if I could compete with this beer belly of mine!!! NO, you will only try to manage and reason, not maintain peace, that's the job of the police) I landed the job with all perks, benefits, tax breaks etc. The Senior Warden is a cool dude and a tough one so I guess it should be okay. So, have given up my chef's job as I am making enough to pay my interest at least for now with the ASR's post, I want to spend the time in my research and reading.

All this is not to say that I am being anti-social at all. I have two good pals, Shantanu, an electronic engineer doing his masters in some arcane field and Murli, an information techie who is studying bio-informatics which is unbelievably hard. To define that is, I give up in trying to make sense of those who even venture beyond the definitions of such a field.

We are presently experimenting with wave theory in relation to electromagnetic fields, co-related to edible flora and fauna and the cost benefit analysis as well as the parity of such inter-relations transmutated to future beneficiaries and structures. Which basically means we are trying all weird experiments in microwave cooking and deciding what can be made and what cannot be achieved and being the economist and main cook, I ensure that our microwave disasters turn into interesting breakfast items with a bit of frying, baking or basically dumping into the bin.

Some simple examples of our experiments are –
* DO NOT put grapes into a microwave, EVER. The bloody things just swell up and then burst leaving a yucky mess that takes 2 hrs to clean up.
*Scrambled eggs can be easily made with all the ingredients dumped in a glass bowl and whipped up on two minute variations with some stirring after every two mins.
*Garlic can be peeled in seconds by jut popping them in a microwave for a minute on high heat which leaves the stiff dead outer skin crumpled and the inner shell poking out.
*Rice takes 30 minutes on a microwave and is better cooked in a pressure.
*Custards and pizzas are also easier to make, though sandwiches get soggy.
*Coffee goes bad if made in a microwave, but tea is okay.
*DO NOT try warming a mars bar in its wrapper in a microwave, unless you wish to create and observe a localized thunderstorm inside your microwave over.

Keep an eye on this space for further results of ongoing experiments to be posted

The other interests of these two geeks are the insane filters placed by the administration in my halls of residence to stop them accessing porn sites or downloading music/music files, which of course is merely a goad to them to practically demolish and lead berserker rampages over the borders of filter zones. Till date, they have hacked about 9 DVD’s worth of porn and about 3 GB worth of Hindi and Tamil songs and my laptop which is their favourite weapon of choice takes about 10 minutes to actually boot considering the amount of hacker ware installed in it.

What I am trying to say is that both these arses are raving geniuses and perhaps loonies as well, as they say there is a fine line betwen genius and madness (Though I personally think that both have fallen off the line which makes them adorable!!)

And then we of course have our stock staple conversation pieces such as Indian movies and favourites in them, indian disco's and our favourites amongst them, bitches whom we loved and dumped us and our favourites there NOT et al.

Hmmm, have stopped ranting, so I guess this is a nice place to say hasta la vista baby

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lost my hair, Lost my love, Won everything else

My life can be summed up thus. And so I think till now. My cousin Sean thinks its quite a line. So here it is. As I write this, I am travelling on my second rail journey within the UK. The last time I was doing this, the world was a different place and I was probably unaware of its existence. Which is not to say that I do understand now.

The last few days have been hell on me. Have not slept for about three days by my counting and now, after two pints of good Scots bitters and a double scotch, I can actually feel the stress melting away.

I am actually on my way to my pehi’s house in Newcastle and though the journey is costing me dear, both in terms to expenses and also in terms of missing work, I have to go however.

My cousins are sweet, well till date, they have been so. My aunt’s sons are called Tony and Sean. Well more about them later. As I type I am looking out of the huge plateglass windows, so unlike our cracked, distorted and double paned windows of the Indian rail carriages and miss the strident cries of the hawkers and ticket collectors and summary humanity flowing between the aisles. The unearlthly calm of this place unnerves me and perhaps my laptop switched on the lowest volume is the loudest noise in the entire carriage. In front of me, there is a small picture frame sign stating that cabin B is the Quit Coach and the following rules apply; The rules are too far away to be seen, but the entire sign is kept spotless and there is no defacing of either the sign or of the furnishings or of anything. If anything, the coach looks like it has come from the factory last month.

As I write this, the ticket collector has just come and after clipping my ticket has reminded me in a rather stern voice that no music is allowed in this coach as it is a quiet coach. I try my silliest grin and meekly turn off my player in my laptop.

There is a rather sweet old lady sitting opposite me, engrossed in her evening newspaper and the scene outside my windows is subdued with the hues and colours of twilight. If I half close my eyes, I can almost consider that I am travelling on an Indian train, perhaps back from Pune and onto Guwahati, after gruelling annual exams and a long internship. Its like passing through the desolate patches of India, only there are more people and less lights back home. The country side is verdant in most parts; however, the presence in large quantities of cars and the singular cleanliness give away its antiseptic allure. I long for dirt, for dust, for smells of hot iron wheels being water-cooled and of the peculiar and yet enticing aroma of an Indian evening which would waft across my face as I would sit on the “gate” of an Indian carriage, upon the steps. If I tried to do that here, I would probably be hauled up and jailed, perhaps even extradited.

Much is similar to life back home and yet the devil is in the details as my old boss would always say. The truth is that, the simple and orderly arrays of cars being parked outside the station, waiting for their masters tells us a different story that most of what we would like to believe. True, there is order, there is neatness and facilities, but there is also a vastly alien world which is, in its own way, worse than what we are accustomed to, for its very strangeness.

The boys opposite me have been sitting very quietly sipping their beers and looking at their laptop screens or their portable sling boxes, and true to being college boys, the small table in front of them is almost full of beer cans. Even half of that amount of beer was consumed by triple their number, the entire compartment and the ones beyond and before it would be in chaos, by young college boys behaving like animals. And I have a right to say this as I would have been such and animal long years back.

Today, I sip my lager and watch in awe perhaps as two young boys, aged about 18 or so, well, not old enough to have beards on their faces and just having fuzz, consume prodigious quantities of beer and behave like proper gentlemen, interested in only their laptops or their music players, plugged into their ears. After a while I talk to them and get to know that they are going back to their homes in London for the weekend after a long college week in Glasgow. I am unsure how to behave with them.

Yet, only a while ago, last weekend to be exact, as I emerged from my work place at about 11 at night, I had the opportunity of observing these self same stiff and arrogant Britishers behaving like as Scotland won a football match. So I guess, it’s the same the world over, with exceptions proving the rule.

I am getting really sleepy now, as I haven’t slept for about 2 nights in a row so I am going to catch a catnap.

15-10-2006

Dear Diary,

Fuck that, sounds like a neurotic teen suffering through existential angst.

YO Bitch,

Hmmmmm, do I want to comment on the connotations of that? Don’t think so.

Whatever,

Am back on the train again. Seems like movement brings out the writer in me, movement, motion…..hmmm, I do seem to get the best when I am moving my bowels.

Anyway, it was brilliant being in Newcastle with Pima and Tony and Sean. Actually, six years had passed since I had last met them and to be honest, I was a little bit anxious, as emails have been scarce between us and neither have we chatted much on yahoo or msn. Basically, all of us had grown up since our last meeting so, I was just wondering if there might be a difference.

The guys I met six years back were freaky, hysterically funny and genuinely nice guys who had an eminent sense of brio. Six years hadn’t changed them much. Seeing Sean on the station, I felt like I was seeing Minnie boy and so I just gave him an enormous bear hug. Things kind of just flowed from there. Tonyda was quite the same.

Both these guys had actually grown up and yet retained their crazy sense of humour and niceness. It would be hard, if not impossible to not like them.

Getting out of the station, we went for a few pints which is the traditional welcome it seems and anything traditional like that is a tradition with me. Neither of the guys actually drink much, just beer but they are excellent company as they seem to know an enormous cross-section of people across the city and to no one’s surprise, all these people adore them.

Pima welcomed me like a son and Pipapa was the same, so it was more like coming home than anything else. To be honest, I am actually dreading going elsewhere but anyway, that’s another story and not to be considered now.

After 3 weeks of deprivation, I had pasta and pork chops and I actually just devoured the food like a starvation victim from Somalia and after passing on the small gifts I had got from India, I more or less fell asleep on the sofa. Pima very kindly made me go to the guest bedroom and I crashed out.

I woke up the next afternoon at 1 pm. And that too when pima actually woke me up. Was embarrassed but then realised that Tonyda who had a schedule quite similar to mine was still asleep so didn’t feel too bad. Washed up and then went right on partying.

Well, this is getting too detailed.

I mean, like hey, hold on (somewhere else you pervert!). This is getting boring, right? Well, let me summarize. The past weekend was just one long affair of food, food and more food and with booze as filler for the gaps between food. My jeans which were gratifying loose have stopped becoming loose.

Well, attended a party of Sean’s friends, drank a lot, after driving something like halfway to London. Pima tried to buy me stuff which I barely managed to avert. Got my hair chopped off, so that was interesting.

Sean took a pair of shears and went to it like a proper barber and 5 minutes later I was shorn of my locks which were rather less to begin with, anyway. As I stated in the leader of this post, I have now truly signified my statement.

Well, I got back, quite sated and tired and am now gonna just crash out.

Hmm, I must be getting old. At 21 or even 18, I could drink for the whole weekend and get back into action with about 2-3 hours of sleep. I mean, hell, I would be hungover but would shake it off like water off a duck’s back. I am actually bleary now and barely managing to keep my eyes open. So adios for the night.

Meaning of Fun

I get mails from all my friends and though I am glad to hear from all of them as well, I only wish I could reply to each and very one of them personally, but time does not allow much time for such niceties in my world.

Yes it is my world now or at least temporarily and it is vastly different from the one I was accustomed to and you all are still enjoying. Appointments mean showing up 5 minutes before the prescribed time and manners can change the way people behave with you.

This is a world where Bashista Chariali in Guwahati, seems like a dream as even the dust on the streets is not allowed to stand still and people actually stand in queues for everything and wait their turn in peace and hold on to their tempers. I am not eulogising this place, I am merely amazed at the way it all works because there are glaring inconsistencies and disadvantages to this pristine and antiseptic environment.

I see old people barely managing their packages from the dept. stores staggering along the road and people don't have time to offer them a hand. When I do, they are surprised and wary, as if expecting an attack. People are gentle and well-mannered here, but the rule is the rule and the law is the law, no one or nothing will make them change it and this does not endear humanity in them, especially for warm-blooded people such as we.

They will offer you the best of facilities and advantages but will not have time to lend a hand to their aged ones or have the courtesy or humanity to understand a foreigner or a student or the elderly in distress or change their habits to accept or accommodate others. The concept of privacy is so strong that willingly or unwillingly, one is forced to accept it and people email to make an appointment to meet their children and sms to enquire if its all right to call their loved ones, just in case they are busy!!!

Its turning chilly here and to be honest, the fun quotient is a bit sluggish as of now.

A two mile hike every morning for classes through a rather scenic though hilly terrain can leave you gasping for breath and racking pains and cramps in your legs and not having fun at all.

Working three days a week for 9 hours at a really hot kitchen and screaming bar every weekend is interesting but fun could be better defined.

Hammering the professor's who have worked in the world bank and IMF is fun but then they hammer back at you, right in earnest and staying in the game means studying a minimum of 8 hours in the library the remaining 4 days of the week and catching up with the tutorials and coursework doesn't give you a lot of fun.

Hmmmm, so fun, huh?

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately I am not a waiter, I am an assistant cashier cum chef so I get to learn to make Scottish food and such, which is basically a lot of potatoes, a lot more meat and a whole lot of BUTTER and meagre amounts of spices. Basically very starchy and buttery food which accounts for their large sizes but not for their longevity.

I am definitely learning much and experiencing far more, but then perhaps as the pig was happy in the sty, so was I ....perhaps. But you need to challenge life, contend with odds, and fight to a stand to make life worth living. Or that's what I believe, which is not saying much considering my chosen profession.

I gasp for breath and curse my obesity that causes racking cramps in my legs as I trudge up the desolate and breath-taking rolling acres of botanical gardens at 8 am every morning and feel blessed after the pains have passed and my breath is back, that I am able to stand here and still have the guts to bear the pain. I feel that at least I am still strong enough to try something new and have not yet become rusty and fearful with age. When you are landlocked with your horizons stretching to the same monotonous level and every day is merely a repetition of the same shit on a different day, you fear that the sap of your bones has perhaps dried and the guts in your stomach have perhaps gone soft. This is a metaphor, don't try to get smart.

Working in a restaurant in a lowly position reinforces my beliefs for I am re-learning patience and humility. Years of ordering other people around had inured me to the boons of hard physical effort and the exertion of holding back my errant tongue as orders are shouted at me, makes me appreciate my previous life and the advantages I had. You should try it too. The feeling of hot sweat coursing down your face as your body responds to shouted orders till your brain is at peace and your body an automaton. And then the final surcease when your work is done, of stepping out to a cold street, tired, bleary and start on a 2 mile hike back home. Ah, that sleep is more precious than anything. You can't get sleep like that with bottles of expensive scotch or on rich food. You can't beat the lassitude and the deep slumber of tired and honest sleep.

Studying something new, fighting with professors as they define theory and you contend them with practice or even perhaps your interpretations of theory is not a pleasure that I will have to spell out for you, but then, the lack of stress over other people's worries and the advantage of studying for the pure fun of studying and for embarking on the great adventure of knowledge is a joy that I cannot even begin to express.

It's been only about 2 weeks since I arrived here and I have adapted to a new environment, a different culture, found my feet, found a job, landed a girl and drank of the waters of being alive once again. Yeah, I guess I am having fun….:D

Thoughts

The weather here continues to be good and though my classes have not yet started, I have been meeting up with my course directors as well as some of my professors etc. The facilities offered by both the universities as well as the halls of residence to the students is awe-inspiring and its no wonder that people pay so much for education here and strive so hard to be part of this entire process. The professors here are extremely well paid and in return take such a keen interest in both the students as well as the courses that they are teaching that its simply a marvel to behold.

Most things and ways of behaviour or even action, in the western world are different from the manner in which we are accustomed to back home in India. Despite having been here before and having observed the culture as well as the work ethics, the people still manage to surprise me to rather interesting perceptions.

The legal processes here are still a little cork-screwed however and in that I take a little consolation that the indian legal process is definitely more sensible and balanced. Listening to the radio over various mis-demenours committed and the offenders so charged for breaking the law is more like listening to a comedy channel. The people here take the law very seriously and therefore end up being a little too pompous and idiotic at times. I promise to give you examples later, but cannot presently due to certain circumstances.

The solicitors here are however worse than vultures and I do mean vultures. The only difference being that the lawyers here dress better and drive sports convertibles that cost horrendously. One of the solicitors who interviewed me was impressed with my work profile, but the work he had outlined for me, though paying very, VERY handsomely was definitely not what I wanted to do EVER and I finally realise why people here do not like lawyers.

My residence is one of the best in Glasgow and people would kill to be in here. The facilities offered are actually beyond what would be offered in a 5 star hotel, minus the hotel staff boys. The only catch of the situation is that you have to do everything yourself. But then the gadgets here make it so much easier that its really not an issue.

The people in my residence are the children of some of the richest people in scotland and almost everyone drives their own cars, which is saying a lot as the cost of the insuarance is more than the cost of the cars themselves. And the cars they drive ARE something. However, they are quite a snobbish lot, except when in the laundry room, which is like a kind of clubhouse for all the members of the residence. We are still wondering over 80% of the instructions and 90% of the buttons on the washing and drying machines. The boys have it easier, because we all simply dump all our clothes into the washer, dump an approximate amount of detergent and once they are washed, just dump them all again into the dryer and just hope for the best!!! Till date, none of my clothes have suffered, but the girls go through agonies in washing their expensive dresses. The only way out was to simply dress like us boys, which was non-shrinkable, tumble dry shirts and jeans, so that has become something of a dress code cum uniform of almost half the university. All you can see is jeans and jeans and jeans, which is quite a nice change from watching only black and white clothes for the last four years.

Cooking is another great experiment for most of the students, though I am having a great time in that sphere. Usually, I just have a quick cup of coffee in the mornings, slap some ham and salad or chicken or anything that comes to hand on a few slices of brown bread and dump the whole lot into the microwave to grill and go for a bath. Out of the bath, I just remove the sandwiches and wrap them in clingfoil, put them in my bag and go off to the university or for a walk. I have that for lunch and come back home and have a salad and something low fat out of a can and thats dinner. Have not yet started cooking because I love cooking and that would get me fat.

I have been taking long wlks almost everyday and my favourite place is a a place called the botanical gardens about 5 mins from my residence and on the way to my college. I usually have my sandwiches there and feed the pigeons and squirrels and fish there. Its like this HIGE park that is filled at all times by schooll children, couples, musicians, parents and dogs and NO VENDORS or BEGGARS. Its a different world, what can I say, except that its nice and its not ghty. which I am not yet missing, but think I will in the weeks to come.

Phoren Se

Hmm, okay, I need to get this on the screen till it is still fresh enough. I have just arrived in Glasgow in Scotland ( for the idiots who might wonder) and with a load of luggage, both physical and metaphorical. The whole journey and the steps leading upto it were a surreal nightmare and I sat upon my pot (MY Fav. place in the world) and smoked innumerable fags, I used to wonder if this would finally arrive?

I have just entered my 27 year on this planet and as I sum up my life I find nothing much of use or value. My work for social and legal activism notwithstanding, my life has been much like my entire CV, basically a talented mess.

I am not even sure of myself and that is saying much. Too many years have passed since I last felt thus. All my life has been pursuing goals at any cost to make sense of self and image. So I intend to flow as for now.

The city of glasgow is beautiful and the weather as of now is totally like shillong. Its not too cold nor too warm, though it does drizzle ALL the time!!! The rain is a constant companion almost, but then unlike guwahati, where rain is basically water hitting the ground as much and as hard as it can, the rain here is ....umm, softer and perhaps more deadlier for colds and coughs.

My room in the halls of residence is very nice and is done up in a blue scheme which is to my taste. We have a very well equipped kitchen and other facilities. My roomies are two girls and another guy, as of yet. One guy and a girl are from greece and the other girl is from South Amercia, chile to be exact. They are quite nice people, till date, though the english spoken by them or even the locals here is mutilated at best and incomprehensively mangled at the worst.

Nothing more for now, I think this should be enough to keep it all going. Will try and write more as I settle in.