Wednesday, February 28

Geneticist, Molecular Geneticist

So, you think that Molecular Geneticists are uncool, geeky people who squint through microscopes all day? That they're bespectacled, Einstein-haired freaks whose concept of 'Gourmet Dining' is limited solely to speculating endlessly on whether there's pepperoni or mushrooms on the (free, of course) pizza that they'll get at the Lunchtime Seminar on 'YVR00324 and it's Effects on Tumor Suppressing Growth Factors like TGF Beta-2 in the M22 Cell Line'? Perhaps you imagine that they're alright hidden away in their labs, but come a true crisis in the Real World they'd be as clueless as the rest of humanity?

I have one word for you : Ptuiii (and if I had another one, it'd be Ha! said in a sorta snarky, despairing, hopefully-cynical way). Cos, us Molecular Geneticts are actually more hip and happening (noone uses that expression anymore, do they? *decides to ask around but can't find anyone in her lab who knows*) than all the rest of your journalists, and novelists, and fancy analysts with your parties and your trendsetting clothes put together! You jeer. You mock. The cry goes up, "But how? Where's your proof?". You might expect to flabbergast us with these questions, leave us gasping for an answer in the face of your shrewd and inquisitive search for the Truth. But no! We stand firm. Cos, We have An Answer.

If the world was on the brink of destruction and the Only Thing (Only Thing, mind you) keeping it from complete annihilation was a 0.8% 300ml Agarose gel that had to be moved 3 inches on a soggy piece of filter paper in under 5 minutes, who dya think you'd call? What price all the James Bonds and Bill Gates and Che Guevaras then? See, why I said Ptuiii (and a possible Ha!) earlier? Cos noone, but NOONE, would be able to get you out of that fix quicker than your local resident Molecular Geneticist. So, bow down to the world-saving might of the Uber-Cool Ultra-Trendy Supra-smoking-hot Molecular Geneticists, and pray for their Mercy, Earth-cretin.

Update: I should warn you that the title won't make sense, unless you say it like Bond, James Bond.

Mother's Milk (Perspective: III)

She stares blankly at the dripping fifty rupee note. She hears appa's voice, "We might be poor but noone can call us thieves". Chikki doesn't have pencils for school. Babbla's so sick he can't stand. Her heart breaking inconsequentially, she tucks the note into her blouse. Honour is perfectly fine, when you can afford it.

Note: Chockie Reviews are a Work In Progress. I haven't abandoned them (yet)

Monday, February 26

Hear Ye, Hear Ye (Town Crier Style)

So what better way to ring in the 50th post than with an announcement? And an unveiling? I had an epiphany (I've often wondered why some people are more epiphanic than others. Is it like being lightning-prone? A Phenomenon? Another Post?) today, during the course of my daily Cocoa Quest. I was quietly prowling the aisles of the Corner Shop outside my lab, hunting for that specific bar of gustatory heaven that would perfectly complement my ghastly Monday morning mood. Just as I was giving up all hope of finding something suitable (in the face of the rows of Hershey's staring back at me), out of the corner of my eye I saw a Comrade. It is very easy to discern the true Seeker of Choco Enlightenment from the mere Grab-A-Candy-Bar pedestrian (I mean, people who call choclate, candy??? Candy??? I despair for their souls). But here was a fellow pilgrim on the Brown Brick Road to Heaven. We exchanged the subtlest head-nods, that would have gone unnoticed by anyone but true Chocodevotees. And at that moment, I had my epiphany. Where is Our Voice I wondered (I would have thundered, but I was in the Corner Shop and didn't wanna embarrass myself. Moses had it easy, he was on a barren mountain top *sigh*)? Where is the Voice of the Chocodevotees? There are Book Lovers, Movie Lovers, Music Lovers, Gay Lovers, you name it we've got it. They have clubs, and socials, they write reviews and meet for drinks. They hold themselves up as pillars of society (sometimes, at least). And We (the Chocodevotees, I mean) have nothing. So I've decided to launch a new Section on this blog : The Chocolate Reviews. No choclate shall be too grand or too insignificant to be reviewed herein. No cocoa product shall be too diverse or different to be mentioned in this Section. No stone will be left unturned in gathering information and opinions on everything deliciously brown, sticky and sweet (no smart aleck comments on this, please!). "But what are your qualifications?", you ask hesitantly. I draw myself up in quiet indignation and say quiveringly, "I love chocolate." And you are (justly) silenced.


Saturday, February 24

The News Noose

So, the doorbell rings. At 1 in the afternoon. The crack of a Saturday dawn. There's a young Asian kid with a crew cut standing outside smiling at me. He has the smug, I've-been-up-for-at-least-8-hours-and-run-5-miles-before-apparently-deciding-to-knock-at-random-people's-doors look. I, having been at the receiving end of this look before, am unfazed by it's smugness. I simply goggle at him, as my caffeine deprived brain gropes hopelessly for an explanation for his presence. After a couple of seconds of this, he decides to take matters in his own hand. He says, "I'm the newspaper delivery guy?". Recognition creeps in hesitantly. And along with recognition, bitterness and a sense of impending panic. Because behind the affable, muscle-bound, seemingly liekable exterior of this chap lurks the sole reason for one of the Banes of my Existence. The dastardly problem that has so often been used as a clincher in the arguments of informed friends that I'm certifiable. The Unfortunate Newspaper Situation, as it is called in my circles. The facts are simple. I'm an American newspaper virgin. The abundance of their news overwhelms me. I flounder in the face of all those pages. I feel suffocated. It's a complex mixture of clautrophobia, agoraphobia and the very real danger of asphyxiating to death in the morass that is the Sunday paper. I am perfectly happy without the news. As Paul would say, I can get all the news I need from the weather report. However, one fateful weekend dazed by a hangover and disoriented by the early hour, confronted by this selfsame sinisterly smiling boy with the misleadingly unassuming exterior, I blithely signed up for newspaper door delivery. I maintain that I was under the impression that it was Some Other Service that I was signing up for (I'm never at my lucidest on weekend mornings). My friends (who represent the Forces of Evil) jeer and insist that it is just one of the many symptoms of my insanity. However that might be (and we all know that Forces of Evil are never to be believed, it goes with their job description), I can't deny that I keep renewing the subscription every couple of months. I have by now come to terms with the fact that no other service is being offered. As far as I can ascertain the only contract (and I've had ample time to ascertain this in) being entered upon is that of me paying a princely sum, in return for which I get wads of newspaper every day. They invariably pile up on the mat until I can't step out of my house without drowning in a sea of print. At this point of critical mass I normally decide to liquidate them, and this typically involves 5 trips to the dumpster. I have nightmares of being newspaper-ed in and having to jump out of my balcony to get out of my house. I'm perfectly clear that I don't want the newspaper delivered at my doorstep, in fact I'd pay to make them stop. But at the crucial instant, when I ought to be shutting the door firmly on the face of my would-be delivery boy after refusing calmly, and with composure, to renew the subscription, I invariably find myself ushering him out of the house affably, lighter in the pocket, and heavier in the heart (and the doormat).

But this time, it shall not be so. I have given the matter much thought and I have a Speech Prepared, so ha! It will explain how I've enjoyed working with Newspaper Boy, how his work has made a Substantial Difference in my life and often, been the Sole Source of Exercise in my week, but People Change, and he has to Accept it and Move On. Our relationship is Over I will say. It is not him, it's me I will add fixing him with my steely gaze. My speech is a masterful blend of the polite and firm, and I've even practised saying it to one of my marginally less evil friends. Newspaper Boy can proceed to be disgusted at my lack of interest in worldly affairs till he's blue in the face. Disapproving looks will not move me from my burning deck. I will stand firm. I take a deep breath and open my mouth. "Miss, we're discontinuing the newspaper delivery service", he says. I lose the lungful of breath I had just accumulated. "Not enough customers", he explains dismally. I rally quickly, or as quickly as I can at this time of the day. "Awww, that is soo sad", I wail, giving what I feel is a convincing imitation of a grief-stricken news addict. "Yeah", he shakes his head at this bad taste displayed by the world-at-large's abstinence from building newspaper mountains at their apartment door-steps. "It was such a nice idea. And you were so good at it. I don't think you've missed even one day", I feel a manic impulse to shield the boy from the blows of constant disasppointment that is life. I think it's the guilt of intent. "Except one Thursday in December", he says mournfully, "There was a storm". "I'm going to miss seeing the news outside the door when I wake up", I continue perjuring my soul gaily. The over-whelming relief flooding through me makes me giddy. I am free. Free at last!!! "In fact I don't know what I'll do now. I might actually have to start buying them from the vending machines." I chuckle inwardly at that one, floating around eight stories up on my cloud of freedom, feelings of guilt extinguished by my exemplary and selfless (I did perjure my soul) attempts at cheering him up. "Miss, you don't have to do that. I'll just sign you up for the weekend service. We're still doing that. Don't you worry about it." He smiles in happy joy, obviously ringing this up as his good deed for the day. Crazy news-addict lady in Apt #1 made happy. Check. "Will it be cash or cheque?"" He looks at me enquiringly. It's called karma. You can't sidestep it. I float gently down from my eight floor cloud top and sign the subscription form with the lightness that comes from accepting the inevitable.

Friday, February 23

The Shower-God's Revelations (or Epiphany #2)

Luck is abundant, universal and constantly happening to every single individual on this planet (including plants, and other creatures like yeast that lie along the borderline of the living), it's the adjective that requires hard work, preparation or the lack thereof, and has to be contributed by the luck-ee.

What a bummer! You just can't beat the system!!

Pointlessness Abounds

"Blimey, there are so many different people inhabiting this planet. Tis rather sweet how everyone is unique, and special in their own way."

"Are you kidding me? What are you still 8??"

"And what, might I ask, is that supposed to mean?"

"It's supposed to mean that your attempts to convince yourself that you are an individual rather than another indistinguishable speck in the seething faceless mass that is humanity are laughable and honestly, puerile"

"Well, I say, there's no need to be so dashed rude about it. I was just expressing an opinion. A well founded one, I believe. Haven't you noticed how hardly any two people take the same things away from a book or a movie or a piece of music or a work of art? What do you suppose that is about?"

"I suppose that is about how things that happen to people are different. Not the people themselves."

"Hah! The old 'people are a product of their circumstances' argument. It is a quite outmoded belief. One hears that expressing naive gullible appreciation of every person's uniqueness is all the rage now."

"I, fortunately, do not bow down to the whims of passing fads. I have held this opinion all my life, and will continue to do so till the day I die. Everyone is quite depressingly the same. People from similar backgrounds, and similar lifestyles will 9 out of 10 times come up with very similar responses to the same set of stimuli. The only thing that saves us from eternal boredom and dreariness is that people are normally either out of phase or from different cultures/backgrounds/countries. But the way it's going, we'll soon end up with only two types of people: the Americans and the dregs of the universe."

"You know, old chap, your cynicism does not impress me in anyway whatsoever. You're just seeing this from too broad a perspective. Mostly life is simply about setting the right frame. You, I have had occasion to observe earlier, always use the wide lenses or the microscope. You forget the normal range."

"Oh yeah?! Well, I atleast don't have a godawfully fake British accent. Living a year in that country does not make you a pommie y'know."

"I merely happen to be more sensitive to my environment and the cultures to which I'm exposed, you filthy Philistine."

There should be a law against the voices in my head. At least a Ceiling Act or something. So distracting *sigh*

Wednesday, February 21

Perspective : II

Overheard: words from half a conversation, past nudging the present. I look up. She smiles. Words ensue. Inevitably, the question pops out. "Are you from Madras?" Her face lights up. "You too?" disbelievingly. "Yeah" I confess. "Do you stay with your parents?". "No, they live back home. In India. I live alone". Observed: Heartfelt sympathy.

Espied: a stranger's startled upward glance. A smile offered. A conversation sparked. The question "Are you from Madras?", unexpected. To travel half the world and hear this on my first bus trip. Startled into commitment, "I shifted here as soon as I got married. With my husband." Her steady gaze met fleetingly. Recognised: Heartfelt sympathy.

Note: Y'know how they say there's nothing original left to say, anymore? I have to admit that at the very least there'sno original way left to say it in.

Of Supercilious Arrogant Existentialists

He (inconsequentially): So, if you could be anything in the world that you wanted to be -

She (interring a decent pause): Ahaan?

He (rolling his eyes): D-uh! What would you be?

She (flippantly): I dunno. Maybe an astronaut.

He (with knowing condescension): Over-hyped profession. It just looks all gadgety and cool. Betcha it's totally uncomfortable under that space suit thingamajig. And you probably won't even get to go to space. Besides they seem to let psycho bitches become astronauts these days.

She (after some consideration): Hmm. I suppose it would be interesting to be an author.

He: Hehe (rudely). What? One of those chaps with long hair and inky fingers? The ones who never have anything to say but take a prodigious amount of space saying it? And take themselves oh-so-seriously. Might be quite appropriate actually, considering.

She (irritably): What dya mean might be appropriate? And anyway, I wouldn't be a chap! Maybe an actress then. You can't accuse me of wanting long hair and inky fingers that way.

He (smirking): Ahh. Of course. Fame and riches. Lots of people fall into that trap. Me, I've never needed that sort of validation from millions of people who don't even know me, jerking off in front of my picture. Such a silly sort of profession. No disrespect, of course. I'm sure for vulgar blondes with a weakness for diamonds it's quite the thing.

She (venturingly): Gardener?

He (dismissively): Bah!

She (quickly): Teacher.

He (quicker): Tsk.

She (lightning quickly): Scientist.

He (still quicker): Phooey.

She (despairingly): Social activist.

He (in between snarky sniggers): With a big red bindi? And cotton saris. Heheheh. You're going to save the world?

She (bitterly): Well, it's better than sitting around on a rather big backside, asking people stupid questions and laughing at all their answers.

He (reproachfully): The backside comment hurt. And it's not better! At least I'm not actively harming anything. That's the only thing you can do with one of your so-called "careers". Harm people. Or animals. Or things.

She (witheringly): Oh! So Einstein had a so-called "career" that harmed people?? Picasso??? Monet?? Shakespeare??

He (triumphantly): Course. None of them did anything worthwhile. Relativity? It's not even a theory. Mumbo jumbo that doesn't change anything. The world doesn't change it's fabric just because we give a name to the fabric. And weird shapes and blurred colors are nothing to crow about. Besides encouraging young twerps without a jot of talent to waste time and paint, while mercilessly killing millions of trees. Don't even get me started on mooning heros and crooning sheep. Think about all the men who never had a chance with the girls once they (the girls, that is) got a crack at Shakespeare. After 'I'll follow you and make a heaven out of hell, and I'll die by your hand which I love so well.' who wants ' about it..mumble..tonight..'? Damnable behavior if you ask me.

She (baffled): Crooning sheep?

He (hastily): I thought we decided to not get started on it! The point is-

She (incredulously): There is one?

He (perseveringly): The point is that there is no way any individual life can actually matter in the grand scheme of things. Say there's a big river that's going somewhere. And every now and then there's a boulder in it's path or a mountain. The river has to either move around it or drill through it, right? But it doesn't matter which way it ends up choosing. To the river. The boulder might erode and become a mere bump, the ground over which the river moves might become fertile and green, life might flourish there. But it makes no difference to the river. Pointless is what it all is.

She (argumentatively): -

He (pre-emptively dismissing): I know what you're going to say. That it *does* make a difference. That maybe the river will move around the mountain and in the process tumble into a deep hole and become an underground spring. Or the river might be stopped by the mountain and become a lake.

She (futilely): No, I wasn't going to say that.

He (waving a careless hand): That's what you ought to have said. Of course I can counter it by saying that whether the river becomes a spring or a lake matters this much(snaps fingers). Whichever way you look at it things will happen. Maybe not the same things. In the same way. To the same cross-section of the world. But things will happen nevertheless. The river is a spring today, an ocean tomorrow or a dried up river bed the next. It doesn't matter. If I ceased to exist today, this second. It wouldn't matter to anyone.

She (heartfelt-ly): It would to me.

He (disregardingly): The point is noone makes a difference and things happen regardless. It's like Russian Roulette, except the outcome doesn't matter really. Ergo, it doesn't matter one whit what you think you want to become. Or would become if you could. In the context of the world, you're a blip that noone can even hear.

She (unimpressed-ly): That was a point?

She (grudgingly after pause induced by excruciating inner struggle): So, if you could be anything in the world you wanted to be?

He (superior-ly): Ahaan?

She (sighing): Yeah, yeah funny. What would you be?

He : Scared. Maybe depressed. Probably both.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to real world supercilious arrogant existentialists is unintended, non-existent and solely in the mind of said s.a. existentialist. Any resemblance to any other He Said-She Saids denied vehemently. It happened by itself!


Two minutes in bed, waking up and listening to the war for the day. Stumble out of bed. Brush teeth waiting for the snatches of song in between the annoying chatter of the RJs. Jump into shower. Dry hair while trying to get into clothes. Think. Have to tell the boss about the fresh probe. The count seems low. Should she repeat it. And also have to place new orders for atleast two restriction enzymes. Annoying radio chatter. Tempted to turn it off. Hair refusing to stay in place. Dang it. Search frantically for clips, pins, bands, anything that'll help. Not satisfied but good enough. Find sweatshirt that matches or at least blends. Hop on one foot putting socks on. Search for lip gloss. Need the colourless one. Rummage in draw, cursing the Fates. Found: orange lip gloss from more than a year back. Pause. Slight smile. Open it. The sickly sweet smell of fake oranges. Smile widens. Her first snowfall, the smell of winter coats musty from disuse, bright scarves, clumsy gloved hands, the sting of fresh air. Sitting on the windowsill reading...what was it? Moving Pictures. Yeah, the Terry Pratchett phase. The buzzing of the phone. Excited squeals from the other end. What? Snow? Where? Outside your window dumbnut! Where else? Drop the receiver, run to the window. Look out. White drifting down. More excited squeals. Hasty walk undertaken. Struggle into layer after layer, rush out the door, scarf ends flying about, leave key in the lock. Soft chuckle. Dab the gloss on. Lock the door, hum a tune. Memories rock.

Inter alia

Go forth and Procreate: Reason # .55

You can buy a new car with all that lovely dough you get from tax returns *sigh*. People with kids can be so annoying sometimes!

Monday, February 19


"Amma, remember how, whenever we went to a restaurant for dinner I would always insist on chocolate mousse for dinnerdessert? Remember? And everytime you'd say, "But kanna, if you never try any other kind how can you know that this is your favourite? You have to try everything at least once, da." I never listened then. It didn't make sense. Or maybe it made too much sense. I was only 5. But amma, now I understand. Now, I think of all the tattoos I never got etched on my skin, the lost testaments to idiocy, all the clothes I never bought because they made me look fat, or they weren't my colour. Now, All the places I never visited because they were too far away, or too noisy, or too dusty.

I seized my second chance, amma. To redeem myself. A second chance for that 5 year old mousse-worshipping kid to grow into someone who isn't scared to grab opportunities by the scruff of the neck and shake the newness out of them. Someone who can order tiramasu and gulp it down without a flinch. Can you imagine, amma? This new me? I'm glad I carpe-ed the diem (see, I've even learnt foreign expressions). You would be proud of me.

Would I be less worthy of that pride if I confessed, amma? Don't despise me, but sometimes I worry. And I wish I could ask you what you think. Did I do the right thing? Because he is married. I think of the other 5 year old girl. His daughter. What would she think of me? But, no. As a far more confused man than me said, that way madness lies. I know I did the right thing. I'm experiencing life, like you always wanted me to and it's turning out to be like nothing I ever imagined. So I'm happy. I must be. Even you would say so if you saw me now.

But one thing, amma. I've tried strudels, sorbets, cointreau melts, caramelized fruits in alcoholic concoctions, meringues, pandan rice cake even. I liked them all but I still like chocolate mousse the best.

Apology: So many dashed typos! This is what happens when you type a post out in 15 minutes when you actually ought to be doing something else *hangs head in shame*.

Rhyme and Reason No.1

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell

Encapsulates my mood. The reason I love Auden is because of his unexpectedness. Like most people I slot words. When I'm listening to a song, or a poem, I find my mind jumping to fill in the last word of the next line, only based on habits of rhyme and metre. But with Auden you never know what he's going to say next, what concept he'll introduce, which turn the sentence will take. For that, I adore the man (regardless of how querulous a man he was, which statement annoys me with its irrelevancy). The rest follows below.

But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

Sunday, February 18


As Wiseling said, we present THE BAI CHRONICLES. Pliss to like them.

They sat in the big laundry hamper, eyes round, waiting for her next word. "And then, Bai?" they asked. She savoured the moment. The smell of fresh cotton enveloped them. She folded a shirt, Ralph Lauren. An alphabet-string. She looked up at the shining faces. She wanted to cry. They would pay with attention.

Friday, February 16

Epiphany #1

The problem isn't that there aren't any answers, the problem is in that there *are*.

(I'm still not sure if this is an epiphany or crap, but it seemed ridiculous to title it Crap #1, though I know not as ridiculous as some of the other things these pages have seen :D).

So, I was measuring stuff out (cos that's what the scummiest of the scum does* in a lab) and distributing it among various measuring cylinders all day today. That sort of activity fatally gives you time to think, and eventually your mind comes up with these dazzling flashes of intuition (or whatever the heck it is). And I figure that the whole bloody thing** is just a result of not being able to accept the answer. (It's like when a guy asks you out, and you politely say No, but Thanks, which he then interprets to mean I really truly absobluminitely wanna go out with you but I'm such a shy retarded half-wit that I can't bring myself to say Yes. And then he hounds you.) That's the problem with the world. And that's why we need god. Cos otherwise what's the answer to the question why?

*Is scum a collective noun? Should the verb be do?

**'thing' meaning all those awful 3 in the morning questions like 'What is the meaning of all of this?' and 'Why am I here?' (though that one is often caused simply by a combination of alcohol and high spirits, and can quite easily be answered by conscious bystanders) and 'If I disappeared tomorrow would it make a difference to any freaking person in the world?' (also all too often most easily answered).

Update: See the strip right on top? That is what I'm talking about. XKCD rocks!

Thursday, February 15

A Valentine Binge

So, I've been overcome by Valentine's Day. I admit it. I thought I could look it firmly in the eye, and wilt it with my withering stare. But no. I am not that strong. I have littered the blogosphere with hideous rhyme (written with sweat and grime), sentimental quotes (which haven't won me any love notes) and sighed over sappy verse (to which I was never averse). What is worse than all of that (yeah worse than the stuff in the parantheses even) however, is an unfair allegation (pliss to see the comments section) levelled against me by one who should have known better, one feels *sigh* (or at least one feels that anyone should have known better, not this one in particular, cos one doesn't really know this one, or even who this one is!). However, to keep my word (and also cos I can't stop myself from rhyming! Dang it!) I shall produce the promised Valentine here. And, before you sigh and patiently read the abominations that I shall spew forth (at least I hope you will read the said a. cos otherwise I shall be heartbroken and will sally forth to join the Vogons, who have extended a standing invitation to me btw), I promise you that this shall be my last Valentine (for this year that is). There, hope you're happy!

A Sonnet to N-with-the-exclamation-mark (but not in iambic pentameter cos i suck at it)

Shall I compare thee to a winter storm
So cold, so icy, the winds of your disdain
Your wicked jibes upon my slender form
Pelt, your cruel laughter like sleeting rain.

But yet, you add lightly, with gentle glow
That last mitigating glance, the addendum
Like winter sunshine after the drifting snow
The throwaway endorsements, I adore 'em.

Indeed what winter would melt in one instant
What blizzard vanish before an eye's blink
Then, how could I quicksilver maidens resent
Do not for a moment that, fair one, think.

Though winter's harsh beauty might justly contest
My monosyllabic lady, you are by far the cruellest.

Disclaimer: For all protests and complaints please contact Valentine, Saint at #666, Ninth Heaven, c/o God Inc.

Tuesday, February 13


She squinted in the sudden, dazzling sunshine. She had forgotten how bright her country was, how every sense seemed to go into overdrive as soon as she crossed the border. Recognition and then, an irrepressible smile. She stepped into the familiar embrace, the inimitable fragrance she had grown up with, a combination of something floral, sandalwood and talcum, enveloped her. She was welcome. For an instant she stayed in the circle of reassurance, felt all her hard won independence and strength seeping out of her. The one place she didn't feel like she had to communicate, that she had to work to be understood and to understand, that she was in a parallel universe, on one bank of a raging river shouting over the wind to the other side, trying to be heard. She sighed, her second skin shed. She belonged. Her mother stepped back from the embrace. "You have become a skeleton, papa. Skin and bones! At least I can fatten you up now that you're back". She laced her arm through her mother's as they started walking towards the car, "Amma, what are you saying? I'm fattttt!!!!!!!!" she exclaimed, thinking, for an instant, of all those mornings in the gym and all the calorie-watching that never seemed to be enough. She looked at her dangerously thin daughter. Sometimes she didn't even know who this human being was; where had the child who couldn't get enough of her cooking gone. She felt like she had to communicate, that she had to work to be understood and to understand, that she was in a parallel universe, on one bank of a raging river shouting over the wind to the other side, trying to be heard. She sighed. Her daughter had grown up. She'd have to learn to adjust, to accept her changes.

Thursday, February 8

To Cloudy (the Girl who Couldn't Like Poetry, and Who Can Blame Her)

or Oh! To Care a Monkey for the Blogger Barons

When in doubt or anything else
(or simply to impress hesitant belles)
There is no trail or avenue
So trusted as The Smackeroo

But though tempted, I won't be led
To talk of things that happen in bed.
This verse speaks only of option two
When in doubt, and what to do.

Oft the green 'un with furrowed brow
On starting a blog, overcome with woe
Wonders about fame and stuff
And also if he's done enough

"Let me insert some more pix
Of girls in drag and assorted dicks"
He even writes up serious posts
On feminism and Shakespeare's ghosts.

All of this can be eschewed
If you indulge in something shrewd
Versification might be tricky
But, for Fame, it beats a Hicky

You mightn't be another Pablo Neruda
Your poems might turn intestines to faluda
But if in your heart you want to succeed
To all your detractors (and there'll be many) pay no heed

For tis true that he won't fete you
Wocky certainly won't rush to greet you
This chap might raise a supercilious brow
And she most likely into you will plough*

Stare them down calmly and do not desist
(Though they don't even know you exist)
Cos maybe in an unmarked grave you'll lie
But you'd have Written a Poem before you die

So bloggers and blogrettes take heart and hearken
Trust me, nobody will your blogstep darken
'less you learn to find the words that rhyme
With love and dove and dust and grime

And when you've achieved this special skill
And wonder why noone visits your blog still
Remember that a special circle in Hell
Is reserved for those who can't doggerel.

So, take up your pens, and take a deep breath
To poetry and never stop (unless threat-
-ened by hapless victims who can't understand
Why you won't stop torturing them) and

While they stand around baffled, calling you an arse
And you, red-faced with effort continue to parse
I shall laugh evilly (muahahaha) internet ishtyle
Pliss to remember, Revenge is Futile.


*Especially if you rhyme about
Feminism, you ignorant lout
Cos girls are pretty and very nice
Unlike boys who stink of flies

Update: So they took my advice!!! Can you believe it? At this rate the world might come to an end, soon!

Wednesday, February 7

The Sad Story of Nemo (or The Wisdom of Naming Only Once but Naming Wisely)

Cautionary Note: Maudlin folk who cry during Hallmark commercials, be warned. Possiblity of tears ahead.

He brought home the little clown fish. The latest addition to his aquarium. He couldn't wait for his niece to see the little squirt. He hid the bag behind him as he walked in, and slipped the little fish in when his niece wasn't watching. After dinner, he was watching the news when he heard the squeal. Of delight? The patter of little feet, and his niece was standing before him. Her cheeks flushed. A worried frown creasing her face. Feet planted apart, all earnestness,"There's a new one in the tank" she confided gravely. "Really??" he responded with appropriate incredulity. "Yes, chachu. I just saw it. How dya think it got there?" He professed bafflement at its miraculous arrival (much as Mary must have to her querulous husband). They both stood in front of the tank, discussing the ramifications of the new arrival until it was time for her to go to bed. She turned back for a final glance, "Let's call him Nemo", she said. He smiled at the intrusion of pop culture into even this nook of the world, and nodded in agreement. It was a fine name.

He came home, to find her in a corner. All queries replied to with a shake of the head, and welling tears in her eyes. He thought the fish would cheer her up, and suggested they look in on Nemo. For a cup of tea and a chat, he quipped. She proceeded to burst into tears. Alarmed, he backed away. Tears frightened him. Made him feel clumsy. Helpless. His bhabhi rescued him, saying "She's been like this all day. Some fish in that tank of yours. Dead, I think." Casually, an offhand remark, of no importance but for its consequence. He went to the tank, in trepidation. Nemo was listing to one side, one of his fins ripped off. His eye looked at him, not in accusation, but in listless acceptance. As he stared, a small hand crept into his own. She was still crying.

Is it just me or do names take over the named?

Update: So, in the spirit of scientific enquiry and ratiocination and all that, I propose an experiment, brilliant in it's simplicity and general doableness. All I need are brave and noble human volunteers (but no scruples please, I can't deal with people with scruples, nuh-uh). Please step up, said b and n volunteers. Here is the plan. Sally forth (and no, Sally is not a girl) and procure some infants (or toddlers, but preferably infants). Select distinctive and characteristic names for them (these are important criteria, pliss to remember). Then, 25 years from today (please make note of date), we shall meet at the eldritch hour of 3 in the afternoon, at the haunted house in the corner of 9th and 88th (I will not tell you the specific city because in the tradition of the genre of movies to which Serendipity proudly belongs, if it's meant to be, we shall all find ourselves in that city on that date at that time), with the said 20-something year olds in tow. That shall be our finest hour when we will know for certain whether names take over the named or not. Suggestions for the names will be provided on demand - I have already thought of a few like Nietzche, Hawking, Bush (see, why I said no scruples?).

Update 2: Betcha the cuplrit's name is Danny Ocean. Any takers?

Monday, February 5

Homo sapiens (var elevatoricus)

Yeah, yeah, this is one of those cute posts. Y'know the sort that say something that the author thinks is absolutely freaking hilarious, and the reader thinks is bilge. The author knows that the eventual reader (if any) is going to think it's blige. And therein lies the irony of it, cos in the light of the comforting knowledge that the hypothetical reader has prejudged the yet-to-be-written post as bilge, the author increases the cute factor of the post with reckless abandon. Such is life.

I could write a dissertation on this pressing topic (outlined below) but time presses (even I have to work sometimes, courtesy : Dragon Lady aka Boss-Woman who is *not* N). As the more erudite of my hypothetical readers know, there are only two types of people in the world, the ones who start sentences that go 'there are only two types of people in the world' and the ones that don't (whosoever names the source of the quotation shall be named Honorary Flaffee of the week forthwith). I am unabashedly one of the former category and I present you *ta-da* A (Sorely Needed) Dissertation on The Elevator People.

A much-studied (and much-in-need-of-studying) sub-population of the Human spp, the Elevator People have recently been the subject of much controversy and heated debate. If you've missed the documentaries presented by National Geographic and Discovery (yeah, while you were sitting around watching American Idol, other people were trying to Save the World), below is a quick look at the salient characteristics and sub-groups of this sub-population.

The 'Nonchalant' Wall-propper: Easily identified by the studied casual elegance with which he/she props up the elevator walls. Normally spotted with one leg crossed behind the other (it is believed by many behavior scientists that this stance conveys added nonchalance, thereby making the particular Wall-propper uber-nonchalant; there is some discord among scientists as to whether the uber-nonchalant population can be classified as a separate Type unto itself; many petty, pedantic debates have featured this bone of contention in the haute circles of behavior scientists the world over; of course no conclusion has been reached). Some specimens have been observed pursing their lips, as if on the verge of whistling. While unconfirmed reports claim to have heard individuals of this type whistle, popular opinion holds that this is an Old-Wives' Tale. Persons who fall under this category are normally observed to be the last to leave the elevator when it reaches their designated floor. It is believed that said persons believe that this increases nonchalance of their general attitude but certain other types of The Elevator People disapprove of this character trait of the N.W.P.

The Babbler: This group of persons is characterised by their nervous Elevator-Chatter*. The population distribution of this type is believed to be largely geographic segregated. Certain urban habitats in North America and South India have an abundance of this group. However no first-hand data regarding their distribution in other parts of the globe is available (all contributions to the survey can be posted in the comments section herein). An uncanny observation is the complete lack of this species in the United Kingdom (aka Britain). It is commonly believed that the population was driven to extinction in those cold climes by the frigid stares of the Self-appointed-Elevator-Police (expounded on below).

The Self-Appointed-Elevator-Police: This group is often feared by the more timid Babblers and N.W.Ps. Identifiable even to the casual observer by the circle of empty space within which they stand, unmolested by Elevator-chatter and other associated Elevator-Awkwardness-Phenomena (E.A.P). They have on occasion been known to turn towards any offending Elevator-person (the cause for offence including, but not exclusive of, eating, chattering, looking around or sometimes just existing) and 'fix' them with their glimmering eye (not unlike the Ancient Mariner). A frigid aura pervades the elevator when one of this group enters, and hapless victims have been known to feel suffocated in their presence. Persons of this group often make irritated noises (along the lines of tch! or tsk! or sometimes even muttered imprecations) when the elevator stops at more than 2 floors en route to their own level of destination.

The Keen-Observer-of-Human-Nature: Perhaps the most disconcerting of the Elevator people, these specimens tend to critically observe all fellow occupiers of a given elevator. Unnamed sources swear that these individuals take mental notes on the behavior of all fellow-elevatorees. The author is unable to confirm these wild rumors. The members of this group tend to give each fellow-elevatoree dispassionately equal thought and consideration (unless one of the fellow-elevatorees is a certifiably hot specimen of the opposite sex). No member of this group is approachable or amenable to questions regarding their behavior (or so it is claimed by most behavioral scientists), and as such form a relatively unstudied group (in the author's personal opinion this is because of the behavioral scientists' disdain for more amateur members of their profession).

The I'm-Just-Going-to-Pretend-that-it's-not-awkward-to-be-shut-into-a-small-box-with-complete-strangers Category: The last major category on record has a name that is untypically self explanatory. They are a peculiar bunch recognizable by their fixed stares (normally glued to some inanimate part of the elevator), their slight, embarrassed smiles (though the cause for their amusement/embarrassment is hard to identify), and their crab-like sideways movements away from all other animate portions of any given elevator. They tend to hunch further and further into themselves especially in crowded elevators, sometimes to the extent of causing concern to the other temporary inhabitants of said elevator. Self-effacing in the confines of the lift, they are often confident, outspoken members of the community in the outside world. The cause for the change in their behavior pattern within the sacred boundaries of the elevator is the focus of most research in this interesting branch of elevatorology.

As mentioned earlier by the author (who is a very busy person), even a cursory mention of the more minor groups, as well as more detailed discussion of the major ones listed above, is outside the scope of this document. However, the author would like to stress the importance of this branch of psychology as a field of study. Detailed investigation might be a godsend to the Society for the Prevention of Elevator Crimes (SPEC, who are btw open to donations that will help further this research, so the author beseeches all right-minded hypothetical readers to sally forth and pour money into their coffers, you could also post cheques and any potential contributers please e-mail author for the postal address) as well as other unnamed organisations (that are believed by some erstwhile individuals from Interpol to be fronts for Al-Qaeda; this is predictably pooh-poohed by all the eminent elevatorologists who stand strangely unanimous on this subject). A public petition to Bush, GW, to increase funding for this intriguing area of bio-mechanical research will soon be appended to this site. Please watch this space (actually the space above; but also this space if the hypothetical reader so wishes).

*Elevator-chatter: A technical term used to define the inane remarks on the weather, the crops, football, work and String Theory that are indulged in by members of this group. It is believed that the chief obstacle and clumsiness of Elevator-chatter lies in the necessity of either the addresser or the addressee having to exit at varying and normally unknown time-points.

Thursday, February 1

Sub: Everyone needs some time away

And that's the truth. Everybody does. I know you're angry right now, you feel slighted. I understand, I even empathize. You did the same to me once, remember? When the media girl stepped on one of your appendages (I can't remember which one at this instant but please don't get into another snit about *that*), remember? You just stopped responding. Froze on me! They had to send you away to the-place-where-such-things-are-cured-and-that-which-we-don't-ever-name. Do you remember? And when you came back, did I greet you with reproaches and sulks? I think not! Not that I'm saying I'm better than you, and I know you'll say you were physically injured and that's why you went away and I on the other hand, went away because of 'the other one' in my life. That's true, I won't deny it. But I promise you, he doesn't mean a thing. Yes, I enjoy his (yeah, yeah and her sometimes, but right now it's 'his' cos Pratchett is a 'he') company every now and again (when I'm waiting for the bus, or just before I fall asleep at night), but he means nothing to me. Honest (No, I'm not crossing my fingers behind my back, that would just be childish!). It's you I see everyday, that I come to whenever I have a question. And therein lies one of the main problems of our relationship, hun. The principal concern. The serpent in the garden, even. You always have answers. And so many of them. Has it ever occured to you that sometimes when I ask you something I'd appreciate it if you said 'Results 0 of about 0 for XXXX', instead of flooding me with reponses. I know that I've told you that one of the first things that attracted me to you was your knowledge. The breadth of it still takes my breath away (sorry about that awful play on words, I didn't intend it). But have you ever considered that it's overwhelming? And intimidating? A constant reminder of my own shocking ignorance and the impossibility of my ever acquiring familiarity with even one-millionth of it? Cos that's how I feel sometimes. No, don't sneer at me. And say you told me so (because that's disgusting when anyone does it, but from you it's just cruel). Maybe you're right. In fact I know you're right. It's not you, it's me. And my inadequacies and insecurities. But it doesn't make it any easier. Wait, though, I digress. I meant this to be a half apology and half reprimand of an e-mail. Not a whining, griping one. I really just wanted to say I love you, inspite of all your idiosyncracies (yeah, that whole freezing thing and getting stuck on me is one of them, one I particularly hate; and how you take so long to do some things sometimes), and I'm truly grateful for everything you've given me (remember our first song? Poetry in Motion I think it was. I never believed you'd have it, but of course you did! The beginning of our love affair). So let's not fight anymore. For in the time honoured tradition of women everywhere, I resist your advances only to cut off your retreat, and now both you and I are linked for eternity. I can't imagine life without you, dear one, so let us kiss and make up.

Yours etc,