Friday, April 18, 2014

Gabriel Garcia Marques

Why am I turning into an obituary writer? I never write anything now unless someone has died. Perhaps the most number of posts in this blog are obituaries.

But then again maybe it is because some people deserve our words. There are some people who taught us to love words and believe in their magical powers. And perhaps these words are sometimes the best and the only gift that common people like me can offer them.

Many years ago I read 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' and fell ill. I had fever for three days after reading it. Some writers and some books leave such an everlasting impression in your minds.The world of magical realism till then had existed only in my dreams. Marques wrote what we dreamed of and could only dream of writing.

One important turning point in my life was the two months I spent in Sabarimala as a reporter and as a stringent 'brahmachari'. The book I carried with me then was 'Love in the Time of Cholera' - a book that was deservedly not for a monk who was seeking penance for his sins. But it was a beautiful book. It made me write love letters, and dream of a spring that would last forever. It also made me believe that I would find my redemption, no matter however late in life.

Marques introduced me to the literature of magical realism. He was also my gateway to Latin American authors. Even now, any Latin American writer I read I subconsciously compare with him.

Gabriel Garcia Marques has passed away today.

Dear Marques, please continue writing for the gods and make mortals out of them as you made gods of us. Thank you and Rest In Peace.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

God Retires - Thank You Sachin

I had promised myself I wouldn't write a tribute to Sachin Tendulkar since the situation had become so much over-hyped and dramatic. But then here I am - I just can't stop myself.

We were the truthful owners of Sachin's legacy. From 1989 when I was six years old I knew Sachin and he was a part of my life growing up. He played for us and us only. All others came and went - Vinod Kambli, Inzamam, Brian Lara, the Waugh brothers, Ricky Ponting, Gilchrist, Kallis, Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly - Sachin remained there for us.

No other player single-handedly raised the spirits of this nation like Sachin did. When Sachin got out we cursed and shed tears. We switched off the TV and went outside. Sachin's was the first poster I stuck inside my new cupboard. His batting was like a beacon of hope for a nation starved of heroes. During my teenage and youthful years when I struggled with my own demons, desperation and despondency, Sachin taught me not to give up hope. It is not about his statistics and records - it is about what he meant to each of us individually that made him great.

I remember the time when Sportstar published the poster of Sachin alone with the tagline - "The Indian Cricket Team". How I had to struggle to get a copy of that one.

Of course later things changed. Sehwag came, Dhoni came - Sachin's injuries and his change of style came. We too were growing up and our concentration turned to other things when it became evident that we were no Sachin Tendulkars and had no chance of making it to the national, state or even a district team. And no chance of landing huge advertisement deals either. We grew up into girls and politics. But still when we were engrossed in some thing else and someone said "Sachin is batting" we dropped everything and went back to watch him.

Once upon a time cricket was truly our religion and Sachin was truly our god. Today that God has retired. Perhaps an age has ended, not just for him and the cricketing world, but for me as well. Today perhaps I have finally realized I have grown up too. And its time for a new innings.

Thank you Sachin...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I bleed

I am a man. I bleed.  I have my periods regularly. Once in every thirty days or so, I bleed. Only that its not a natural thing. Every month I manage to get myself hit, hurt, cut, bruised or injured someway or the other. I walk into lampposts, crash the bike or atleast do something incredibly stupid like checking the sharpness of the new scissors by cutting my finger and finding out that it is indeed sharp – sharper than I thought. My head alone is a magnificent testimony to the fact that I bleed. The beautiful ‘Y’ above my left eyebrow which I got trying to play football (that is ten stitches), the small and graceful cut on the right forehead which I got from a falling hammer (please don’t ask how – but it got me three stitches) and plenty more. 

However this last month I did not have my bleeding. I got worried. I have missed my periods! Could something have happened? Some failure on my part? Did I forget something? I started to think it over and it got me more worried. I noticed I have been experiencing bad feelings in my body for the past month. Some ulcer-type boils, pains here and there. I really started to get anxious. I was pretty sure it was the bad blood. If only I would bleed. Or at least if I could donate some blood. It was last October that previously donated my blood. If I didn’t bleed soon something really bad was going to happen. I could feel it.

Then yesterday while I was standing outside my room, my friend came to me saying he had lost his room key. I promptly went with him to his room, took a stone, took aim at the lock on his door and brought the stone down in a huge swoosh – and smashed the little finger of my right hand. While the pain was great I ignored it and raised the stone a second time and noticed the stone was dripping blood. Then I realised it was not the stone but my little pinky that was bleeding. And I was so happy at the sight of it. I was bleeding! I am bleeding! Praise the Lord! I am ok. I am having my normal periods. There is nothing wrong with me. I am bleeding. I am perfectly ok. 

This morning I woke up feeling healthy – and a huge swollen little finger, of course. But I am happy. I am safe. At last it has been confirmed – I bleed! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Lap Question!

Me n Ben find each other in the internet late into the night. I’m pretty much still exploring my new laptop while he is chatting with his soon wife-to -be girl. The conversation runs somewhat like this:

Ben: thats the problem when you get a new lap or a new wife…

DS: hahaha

Ben: both never lets you sleep…

DS: wish one could replace the other

Ben: may you get your replacement soon… hopefully…

DS: ha! naah… i'm happy with the present one

Ben: but the question is… what you will take in your lap, when both are around…

DS: hehe… i hope the wife keeps the lap in her lap when she is sitting in my lap

Ben: and then comes the real question… who gets whose attention..

DS: hmm… if she's talking too much i'd like her to concentrate on THE lap rather than MY lap

Ben: either the way you won't be attending to any of it… the one in your lap or the one in the lap of
your lap..

DS: ahh the irony... better buy a lapdog

Friday, June 14, 2013

Adding Spice - Father’s Day Special

“When I was a boy of seventeen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in there years.” – Mark Twain

Like all children, the fondest memory of my dad in my childhood is of him shaving. Dad shaving was truly a scene of wonder for us – me and my sister. I used to watch in awe as he lathered the shaving cream in his face – an instant transformation into Santa Claus. And how I used to shriek in delight when he obliged by lathering up me too. Then amazement turned to wonder and concern as he took the blade and we watched open-mouthed as in quick, clean sweeps his stubble and the lather vanished. After his turn was over, he removed the blade and ‘shaved’ me too. Boy! Wasn't I so proud to shave like my dad. But the most enduring memory of this daily ritual was the lingering fragrance of the Old Spice aftershave. That was what truly announced the arrival of the new day – “OK new day, we have shaved – here we come!”

Again, like most children, the smell and bottle of Old Spice represented Dad for us. 

But once I entered college and shaving age, after the initial attempts I gave up shaving and took to trimming. I felt having unkempt stubble gave me better looks than being clean-shaven. It did wonders for my rebel look. And again, like most children, I grew distant from my Dad – the representative of the old bourgeoisie tyrant trying to oppress the voice of freedom and the hope of the new generation (me obviously).

Years passed. I entered my new job far away from home - one that required during training days to get up and shave first thing in the morning. We grumbled initially but gradually it became a habit. Whenever I went to the store or supermarket to buy aftershave I used to see the bottle of Old Spice – the same old bottle after all these years – and I would feel pangs of guilt. Of not having been a dutiful son. Of disobeying and rebelling against my dad. So I religiously avoided Old Spice. Firstly all my friends went for the next generation brands – Park Avenue, Axe – the ones whose ads showed chicks running after you.  So did I. Secondly I didn't think myself as good as my dad – not in shaving, not in anything. So I felt I was not worthy of using it – yet. When I saw it in the stands I felt like it belonged to my dad and so I avoided it. 

I finally came home after a long gap to my parents. I had used up my aftershave and so for a couple of days I just went without it. One dad my dad noticed and said – you can use mine if you want. It was a moment of pride for me. My dad was recognizing me as a grown up individual. The prodigal son had truly returned. I went to his bathroom and looked for the familiar Old Spice bottle. But instead, to my utter amazement, I found the Axe ‘Dark Temptation’ aftershave there! I was stunned into silence for a moment. And then I couldn't help smiling at this anti-climatic moment.

I came out with the bottle and asked Dad – Since when did you stop using Old Spice and turn to…uh the new brands? He smiled too as if he had been expecting this question and said – Since I knew you were returning. Besides I’d like some change and isn't this what you youngsters use now. I figured I’ll have to keep up-to-date with you, eh? And he went back to reading the newspaper. 

Happy Father’s Day dad. Everyone thinks their dad is the best. But only mine truly is. :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My quotes for the year past - 2012

Given below are some of the quotes I gave in Facebook this year. Re-publishing here solely for the fulfillment of humanity and posterity...gravely, solemnly. 

* When I told my boss last week that the world was going to end on 21st December, he immediately convened a meeting and asked all of us - to complete our pending files immediately!
           All that hard work gone to waste. The world still lives; so do we. :-( (Only my boss has a smug smile on his face today!)

 (Dec 21) 

* In any place, other than Kerala, a 30-year old socialist is a very improbable thing.
(Dec 17)

* Alcohol has its uses: it burns well in rockets. While some drunks think they act like rockets, few have been observed to reach an altitude of more than the floor.
           (Oh and this is by Ron Hubbard... I'd never say anything like this ;-))

(Dec 15)

* I don't want a job... I want a journey!
(Dec 14)

* Now I know who Left Wing Extremists are - they are the crazy drivers in Mumbai who ride, drive and overtake only through the extreme left side! And also they shout extreme abuses while doing so!
            And the colour red electrifies them - especially the red in traffic signals. When they see red they actually increase speed and jump them. Its like the signal for battle - 'chalo chalo!'

(Sep 28)

* I want to be born again
I want to be 'Don' again...

(Sep 9)

* ഓരോ ദിവസത്തെയും ജോലി കഴിഞ്ഞു self-appraisal ചെയ്യണം എന്നാണ് മേലാളന്മാരുടെ പുതിയ ഉത്തരവ്. അതുകൊണ്ട് ഇപ്പോള്‍ ദിവസവും ജോലി കഴിഞ്ഞു തിരിച്ചു വീട്ടിലെത്തുമ്പോള്‍ ഞാന്‍ സ്വന്തമായി തോളില്‍ തട്ടി പറയും "സബാഷ് ഡോണ്‍... സബാഷ് !!" ;-)
(July 20)

* ഹിന്ദി വിക്കീപ്പീഡിയ വായിച്ചപ്പോള്‍ കേരളത്തെപ്പറ്റി ഇങ്ങനെ എഴുതിയിരിക്കുന്നു - കേരളം ഇന്ത്യയുടെ ഒരു 'പ്രാന്താ'ണത്രെ ( केरल भारत का एक प्रान्त है ) !! സത്യമെന്നല്ലാതെ എന്തു പറയാന്‍! ;-)
(Jun 23)

* I have gone back to watching Doordarshan for the news. When first the private channel news had come, it was exciting with the discussions and debates. Now it is only views and half baked stories instead of news. Good old doordarshan. DD News even has got a golden globe instead of the old blue one. Cool!
(June 2)

* The biggest problem about proposing to a girl is ... what if she says 'yes'??
(April 16)   

Brevity is definitely wit

These days no one has time to read big news articles. However journalists/editors have the tendency of reducing news to tiny bits that actually end up having undesired results.

For example, last day there was this news in the front page of a national daily:

"Attack on Airtel office:Two suicide bombers attacked the offices of Airtel and MTN in Kano, Nigeria, on Saturday. Only the duo was killed."

The last line actually made me laugh. What a bungling pair of terrorists! Now I am certain the paper's intent was not to evoke laughter on such a serious incident. But that was the end result.

Long back when the newspapers were still in its infancy, news used to come in bits and pieces because there weren't so many pages for filling in the details. I wonder if it produced the same comic effect back then. Here's an example of a funny last line from a 1921 UK newspaper:

"Divorce details may shock women jurors: Six women made legal history today when they were sworn in as the first female jurors ever to sit on a Divorce Court jury. The only tricky moment came when some abominable and beastly letters and pictures had to be shown to the jury. It was feared that they would terrify an unmarried woman, so the jury decided that only the men should see them. The women agreed not to look."

I mean the whole news is funny when you read it in this age ("beastly and abominable" letters?? hehehe) but the last line is especially funny.

P.S. - Brevity does have its uses, I admit. Did you know that the title Adolf Hitler first gave for his famous autobiography, Mein Kampf (My Struggle), was "Four and a Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice". I wonder whether the book would have been a best-seller with such a long title!