War and Peace

>> Friday, November 23, 2007

"Once upon a Time," says my Grandfather at story hour, " we had a curfew. This was even before your parents were born. I was a young boy then."

Look of disbelief in my face. Are not grandparents born silverhaired and wrinkled?

"Back in our days, we had real curfews. Lasting for hours, with armed policemen, ordered to shoot on sight. No newspapermen to warn us about numbers to call if one falls sick. Back then, if you fell sick, you waited. You could recover or you could die. The alternative was certain death. So people waited. People nowadays get it all on a platter. Yet they complain.

"We used to live on the first floor of an apartment building. Not an apartment in the truest sense though. They were two roomed flats. And we were eight brothers and sisters. We were a bit hard pressed for space. Look at you. You insisted on a room of your own because you could not stay with your one sister in the same room without breaking into free-for-alls."

I have two cousins. Were all those brothers and sisters celibates? Or was my grandfather a black sheep and casted off from the family tree?

"On one those curfew nights, all was silent on the streets below. The girl living on the rooms above looked out of her window to see whether anyone was about. She was shot through the head. Her age? Possibly fifteen. Maybe fourteen. Definitely not more than sixteen. Her religion? Its more than sixty years now girlie, I do not think she cares anymore."

Tonight, I passed through all those areas war was declared in yesterday. The bus I took included sleeping men, lecherous men, blank faced women, absolutely no cute guys and me, trying to look like a sad faced Madonna (the Raphael version, not the pop star one). However, as soon as we entered Park Circus, everyone suddenly got alert. Eyes began to search the roads, stripping it of all humility. What were we looking for? The illogical fear that someone might decide to stone us? Or, like the vulture every human is, for a remnant of the horror yesterday, one sign to show us how civilization died? But there was nothing. Just common men walking around for common businesses. The city had moved on. Not proudly, not with a head held high, but with sheer doggedness and force of will.

Which is how I will always identify the spirit of the city as. A bent backed sweeper, sweeping all signs of sins committed yesterday to create a cleaner place to live in. There is hopelessness, for one knows it will get dirtier during the course of the day, but, as always, there is no dearth of new beginnings. So the sweeper sweeps on, too proud to beg, too ashamed to forget, yet, too desperate to give up.

Yet, not a shard of broken glass...


Results come out this Monday. If you hear a silence on this website for more than a week, please assume I have gone on a self-induced coma.

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Reflections on Oranges, Death and Om Shanti Om

>> Saturday, November 17, 2007

Its five months since my first University examination (yes, this will be a cribbing, moping, depressing post again). They have been an eventful five months. I have been hospitalized, fallen in love twice, have suffered an entire month of joyous celebrations, have convinced my parents that I actually have an ambition by sheer glib talk and have made a foolproof plan of bombing the University building. However, the people in charge of correcting my papers appear to be having an even more eventful time, for the results are still as far off now as they had been five months ago. And there has been not one day since these five months I have not moaned and groaned and wished death on myself. Yes, I have been a pretty depressing company. My university does that to you. For all I know, my examination answer sheets have been recycled as flyers in the Nandigram issue, used to make temporary refuges in the cyclone ravaged areas (bit of a prediction here) or crafted into jhalmuri containers. They may never have been checked. I may not exist in the University registers. Its the sheer madness of uncertainty which actually brings on the severe depression and the forewarnings to close relatives to buy something white this Puja.

It was while I was watching OSO when i suddenly realized what is the implication of death. No its not the reincarnation jazz. My very own personal view of the movie is that its sheer rubbish and watching Budhdha Mar Gaya is more fruitful. At least you know what you are watching will give you the headache of a lifetime. But it did give me food for thought. So I will be more kindly to the movie and agree it has a few amusing moments. And I do wish Shahrukh Khan's hairdresser has that baby and gives him the damned hair cut already. He is beginning to look like a mop.

Death, I realized, is not just the end of troubles, its the end. A simple end of everything you know, wish, love, think and experience. Its not a forced removal of the future, its the discontinuity of the present. The end of the sheer excitement of existence. When I die, it just would not be the things I am looking forward to I would losing out on, even if they are rather nice things like finally getting to watch all the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episodes, actually watch the last episode of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, know why Kyle XY has no bellybutton (I am thinking I watch too much TV), marrying Johnny Depp, and, of course, see how I finally turn out.

But there is so much more to life right now. There are some lovely things to live for even if Johnny Depp never finds me maddeningly attractive. (This post is just another way to convince myself that life is not all about getting a first class, bear with me). So I began listing out all the reasons I enjoy just being alive for. Here is a bit from the last revised draft

  • Oranges : They mark the beginning of winter for me, my favourite season. What is winter if not spent on some rooftop, soaking in the afternoon sun, eating orange after orange and doing Maths? (This actually goes in good points about High School. Nowadays, I do maths with the radio on, snuggled in rugs, with mugs of coffee surrounding me).
  • Mathematics : Much as I hate the subject, I love the organization which comes with it. It appeals to my messy self like a spirit finite calling to the infinite (I do not know what that means). It has begun affecting my writing style. Now whatever I write has to be bulleted. Its by sheer force of will power that I do not add footnotes.
  • Mosaic floors: They have all these small stones where, if you squint slightly, you can actually make out faces. Marble floors are cold, inhumane things which provide us with no imaginary human company. When I have a home of my own, I will keep the marble floors and get a puppy. That, I think, will be slightly less mad.
  • A.R. Rahman
  • Chalk: I eat them. More accurately, I nibble them. I find the dry texture fascinating, despite the fact I often choke on them. Of course, I mean white chalks. Coloured chalks have a weird bitter taste.
So there you go University Examiners, even if you fail me now, I still win.

You have not broken me.

Yet.

As a byword, in case you watched OSO, they show SRK's reincarnated self was afraid of fire because he had died in a fire. I am afraid of
  • fire
  • water
  • ghosts
  • heights
  • dogs
I am guessing in my previous birth, I died when the ghost of a dog, blazed in flames, attacked me on a rooftop, from where I was forced to jump, falling right in to the middle of a swimming pool where I drowned. Only then do all my rational fears make sense.

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Filler

>> Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Andha saalayil nee vandhu saeraamal
Aaru degeree-il en paarvay saayamal
Vilaki poayirunthaal thollayae illai
Ithu vaendaathe vaelai
- An excerpt from the song Hey Goodbye Nanba
Film Ayutha Ezhuthu
Lyricist: Vairamuthu

(If only you hadn't been on that street;
If only my eyes hadn't tilted 6 degrees;
There would have been no trouble...
For we have landed ourselves into unnecessary work)

Found this paragraph extremely cute which, obviously, led to an incessant need to share it with the rest of the world. In case people are wondering which song this could be, its the Tamil version of Hey Khuda Hafiz, from Yuva.

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Because I am Not Sleepy

>> Monday, November 05, 2007

This post is about nothing. It has no literary value whatsoever. No opinion will ever be dictated here. I probably should be sleeping while I type this, but I do not care. Let dark circles remain a permanent feature of my physical attributes. I will show them they are not everything.

Love is a weird thing. Here you are, thinking there is no man on earth who could be everything you wish him to be (which includes having the guts to dance on the roof of a train and be a criminal mastermind) and then suddenly you see him serenading Audrey Hepburn. Life suddenly becomes topsy-turvy. And anyone who suggests this is a school girl crush, may you get the Wagga Wagga disease.
Kolkata buses have many faults. But no one could label them dull. From banters between a fisherwoman and the conductor to free-for-alls, they never lack the human element of comedy. However, the government thinks otherwise. What with too many passengers being dragged to depots because they fall asleep on long bus rides and snore past their stops, they decided not to risk the unpredictable presence of over sensitive passengers and went and added radios. They possibly voted for television firstly, but what with the universal demand for soaps clashing with the fact that they are mostly R-rated, they decided on the radio, where the most harmful thing for children's ears would be the Bula-di advertisements. But since everyone knows them and can recite them backwards, word- perfect, that was not much of a scare.
(BTW, what is it with minibuses and Big FM? Has Mukesh Ambani taken over RT-72 bus? Is a chain of buses the next big thing he wishes to gift his wife after that joke of a jet plane?)

So here was I, one sad Friday afternoon, dragging my sorry self to a Statistics class, pondering on the meaning of life when the friendly, neighborhood radio decided to play the title track of Bhul Bhulaiya again, for what I could make out, the fifth time in the hour. That was when I realized how desperately I was in love. For Gregory Peck materialized in front of me singing that very song, for ME!!! For the next five minutes, i gazed openmouthed at the conductor, for Peck always seemed to hang around him, resurrected from death, lip syncing a pseudo-rap song from a Hindi movie, all because I have a wild imagination and have watched DDLJ absolutely too many times.

I could not concentrate much on my tuition either. Peck seemed to hang around a lot near my teacher's left ear, just looking in that heart warming manner of his.

As if I do not already have enough reasons to quit bothering to educate myself further.

I still do not feel sleepy. I might prolong this post a bit more. I wonder how many of my blogrollers are busy deleting my link.

People who have ever loved Mathematics might appreciate this. What with too many late nights trying to deduce why a particular question was taking you three months to solve and was a possible contender in next year's examination, the subject tends to overcome your senses. You live, breath and feel Maths. I went a step ahead, I started walking Maths.

The area I live in has islands. They are the names for circular edifices at every crossroad, with shrubberies in them. If the following picture belonged to wikimapia (it does not, its a Palit original), it would show islands like this.



Yes, slightly messy. So was Picasso.

Anyway, here is a crossroad, many cars, its late in the evening, Spiderman here is a figment of my imagination and there I am, in the right hand corner lower footpath, waiting there for fifteen minutes. All because I wanted to reach my destination by taking a path which was tangent to the island.

Given,
OP is the radius, not that it matters.
The red star shows my desired destination.
Drivers do not like me. I am a bad pedestrian.

Required to find:
A tangent which does not kill me.

I actually went to and fro the footpaths, around eleven times, till I found the right tangent, starting somewhere two meters away from my starting position.
Also, the angle alpha signifies nothing. I have forgotten what two tangents do when they intersect. Probably start a family of baby tangents and eventually end up getting divorced, but by then, I was home.

Ah, the first glimmers of sleepiness. Let the end be now.

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Ode to Too Many Failed Attempts to Solve an *expletive* Maths Question

>> Saturday, November 03, 2007

Staring out of the window,
At the lone light, struggling for existence,
Like the last beacon in a tempestuous gale,
At the silhouettes, endeavoring to recognize each.

At the last scrap of paper, with the futile attempts
Of an entire day, smudged here and there
With hopeless tears, betraying the anguish
Of a bitterly disillusioned mind.

Praying with the belief of an atheist,
Looking out at the night sky, with a new surge of angst,
Light breaks out, the firmament lightens slowly.
Dawn arrives.

How desperately do I need to sleep.

And I have yet not solved the sum.


I am a bitter woman. I can't rhyme words. I suck at poetry. I am sick of Mathematics. If you hate this poem, its perfectly reasonable. I hate it too.

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