Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Butcher Fan Club

(This is a tongue in cheek story about my very good friends Bill and Sujay, written in response to Bill's story featuring myself and Sujay. Not nearly as well written as Bill's but it had to be done.)

"I don't know if I like this place." muttered Sujay from under the brim of his sunhat. He took another sip of the bloody mary he was drinking and continued gazing towards the sea, changing his position only slightly on the beach chair. "I somehow expected it to be more.. exotic."

Bill looked at him irritably from over the rim of his margarita glass. "More exotic, how? Did you expect the tribals to come out dancing around us at every step of the way? It's Sri Lanka in 2015; we won't even have the luck of some LTTE troops jumping us." he sighed morosely. "I hope someone starts a nuclear war somewhere and just gets all of this over with."

Before Sujay could ask him 'all of what', they were interrupted by a huge crash from somewhere behind them. The two of them jumped off their deck chairs and ran towards the source of the noise. They reached the lobby of the resort they were staying at and and saw the owner shaking his head mournfully as he looked up at what appeared to be a very large, and inexplicably slightly dented, egg. And when I say large, I mean humongous, for an egg. Also, it appeared to be covered with bits of what once made up the roof of the hotel.

"10 years you spend building something you think will last you fifty. You spend all those millions of rupees. And this has to happen. Flying eggs, of all things. I wonder if the bleeding thing's mother's going to follow next-" moaned the owner plaintively to himself. Bill interrupted the owner's meandering soliloquy to ask him what was wrong, though it was obvious enough to anyone witnessing the scene: "Lakshan, why is there a giant egg on the floor of your resort?" Lakshan gave him a look that suggested something he would have liked to have done with the egg to Bill, but managed a polite reply, instead: "I'm sure I don't know, Dr. Bill," he said coldly, with an emphasis on the 'doctor' that is reserved for dentists everywhere, "I certainly didn't ask for one to be delivered in this location or size."

Sujay, Bill and the resort owner, along with most of the staff who hadn't continued to sleep through the gigantic crash, and a couple of other curious resort dwellers gathered round to stare at the egg. It was about seven feet tall and was a rich royal purple. It seemed to have pink dots on it arrayed in a certain pattern that looked sort of like Braille, except the pattern remained flat on the egg's smooth surface. There were patches where the colour seemed to have faded off, as though the egg had been scratched by something. As they gazed on, not too sure what to do about the whole thing, quite suddenly, the egg started to quiver.

A smooth fissure developed along the surface of the egg, and it began to split apart. Everyone moved back several steps and attempted to hide behind various items of furniture. Everyone, that is, except for Bill and Sujay whose curiosity about the occurrence got the better of them. "You know, this would make for an excellent story..." said Bill, more to himself than anyone else. Sujay stared on, and thought he could make out a figure in the gradually opening structure. It opened up very neatly with one half of the egg flipping upwards, as though it had been hinged onto the bottom half. It looked almost like... "A spacecraft?!" said Sujay incredulously. Just as his brain began to try to comprehend why a purple egg shaped spaceship would want to appear at the very resort he'd decided to holiday at, something jumped heavily, and a bit clumsily, out of it.

The thing, or perhaps it was safer to say alien, was short and bulky, surprisingly so for something coming out of a seven foot tall egg. It was less than half the size of the egg, just around four and a half feet tall, and looked much like a dinosaur. And if you must know, it looked like a stegosaurus, to be exact. Except, for some reason, it was pink and fuzzy and seemed to be walking towards them.

"Um, Bill, do you mind, perhaps, I don't know, moving a bit, so I can, you know, run for my life?" whispered Sujay urgently as the alien dinosaur lumbered towards the two of them. Bill seemed in no mood to step away as he looked on in excitement and replied, "Nonsense, I'm sure it's come in peace. It's humans you've to fear, you know. How fascinating it looks, I can't wait to see it up close." Meanwhile, the fuzzy pink stegosaurus seemed slightly unsteady on its feet and blinked up at them in a mild manner.

"'Ere", it started, its breath smelling strangely a bit like beer and its accent strangely a mix of cockney and something one couldn't quite put one's finger on yet, "'ere, which one of yous is the butcher man, den?" the alien demanded, looking from one to the other. The other folk in the hotel seemed to have vanished entirely. Sri Lankans, unlike Indians, it would appear, did not seem to like a good show and had scampered off in the interests of their own self preservation, instead. "HE IS!" yelled Sujay almost immediately, pointing towards Bill with one hand, as he pinched his nose between the fingers of his other hand to block the stench of the (drunk? really?!) dinosaur's breath. "Ah", said the now slightly self satisfied looking dinosaur. "the butcher man hisself. I told 'em you were real, dey jes wouldn't believe me. But who's the idiot now, eh? Eh?" it said to the uncomprehending Bill triumphantly and almost looked like it wanted to tap the side of its snout with its tail.

"What on earth do you mean? Who doesn't think I'm real? Where in the universe are you from? And what is that thing?" He asked in a single breath, pointing at the egg shaped spaceship the dinosaur had stepped out of. "Purple nelly? Yeah, she been mine for two thousand Medusa years now. Nice eh? Picked the colour out meself and all. Sure she's got a bit o' dents and scratches but what you expect, new driver, doing million of light years through outer space ain't no joke, what? Yeah." sighed the dinosaur looking back at its extra terrestrial vehicle, noticing a couple of new dents caused by the crash through the resort roof. "Oh, yeah, you have no idea what I'm 'ere for now, do you? Okay know wot, let me start from the beginnin', eh? So, we read a bit of your books, yeah, we get those on Medusa, books, your interwebs and whatnot, gosh you humans sure are a stupid lot eh? (snigger) I mean, cat videos on social media, really? Ain't you lot got bigger problems? But our little Butcher Fan Club out on the planet absolutely swears by your writin' though, butcher man. But you sees, no one outside the club believes authors are real. They can't believe as there's any intelligent life out here, what with the aforementioned cat videos, and there wos no real person what could write smart things on earth and then I was like no way, I'm goin' to find him and get his ortergraph and show you lot and so here I am." the alien said happily grinning up at Bill. "I'm Purpaza, by the way, be sure to spell that right on the ortergraph, yeah?"

Bill was thoroughly confused now. For the first time in his life, he found himself wishing he'd been back at his clinic instead of staring down at a pink, drunk little alien dinosaur who seemed to have got it into its stupid little head that he was one of the best writers on his planet. Sure, he was a good writer, with several published books to his credit, but even on his best days he would more often than not get annoyed at his written word than want to summon the energy to pen another sentence. Now, here was an alien, shaped like a dinosaur of all things, asking him for an autograph. He wondered, for a minute, if he was dreaming. If he was, it would still make for a good story to write once he woke up, he conceded. "Are you a dinosaur?" he managed as he tried to take it all in. "Dinosaur? Is that wot I look like to you folk? Yeah, sure, that's what I am. If you lot could see wot I really looked like your brain wud prolly shut down, which is why human brains sort of process us as looking like pink and fuzzy things. Never could understand that. Sure theys is some science behind dat but I never was one for the understanding or the explainin' of it." said Purpaza. It looked around at the resort for what seemed to be the first time and seemed to wrinkle its snout in disgust. "You know, I best be gettin' along, got to catch up with the gals' for our night out and all, and I'm pretty sure they's is goin' t' be late as usual, but still, gots to do up the spikes and whatnot, so... getting that ortergraph now would be nice." it finished, staring up at Bill, tapping a forefoot impatiently. "Right, right, of course," said Bill matter-of-factly, "Sujay, I don't suppose you have a pen on you anywhere? Sujay?" asked Bill looking to his left where Sujay had last been seen, but clearly didn't appear to be any more. Bill looked around the room and saw Sujay creeping up behind Purpaza, with a bedsheet in his hands.

Sometime during the time the alien was engaged in discussing its reason for being there, Sujay had decided to run for his life. After he reached the relative safety of the outside of the resort, however, he realised he was being disloyal and reluctantly decided to rescue Bill from a possible alien attack. If there was one thing Sujay was not, it was disloyal. Besides, you could hardly trust a drunk human; goodness' knew what a drunk alien could be capable of. So he ran to their ground floor room and quickly yanked the sheet off the bed, thinking to himself that he could at least trap the alien with the sheet and figure out what to do with the creature once this had been accomplished.

So here he was, creeping up on the impatient looking alien, bedsheet raised, as he stepped aside to avoid its tail, and with one quick move, threw the bedsheet over the alien and yelled to Bill: "Quick, Bill, grab the sheet and hold it down over the monster!" Bill was a bit amused by this terrible plan, but decided to help in any case. It wasn't everyday that a friend got it into their misguided head to save your life, so one must accede to their requests when they did. Purpaza, at this point was confused and annoyed. She (yes, she was a she, back where she came from) was talking to her most favourite author in the universe one minute and was just going to give him her copy of Rainbow's End to sign, and now, without warning, she found herself seeing white nothingness and hearing a lot of excited yelling. This is not what she'd driven millions of light years through the galaxy for. She wouldn't stand for it. She wouldn't lie down for it, either.

With a mighty roar and flip of the tail, Purpaza managed to sweep Sujay quite literally off his feet and also get the sheet off herself. She looked angrily at the prostrate Sujay and hissed at him. "'Ere! That's no way to treat a lady, why I orter-" she began and seemed to be moving towards Sujay to inflict a tad more physical damage when Bill stepped in between them. "Now, now, Purpaza, Sujay was only trying to rescue me. Friends do that sort of thing out here; dog knows they cause more harm than good in the process, but there it is. Please don't hurt him. I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt you." Purpaza looked furiously down at Sujay but forced herself to calm down and looked back at Bill, putting aside her plan of annihilating at least one human being during her brief visit to Earth. "Right you are, good sir. Much as I'd love to swat out every human in existence, if you say this is that Sujay wot posts that Rationalist stuff on your Facebook (yes, we has been actively stalking you lot on Facebook, hope you don't mind), I guess he orter be given another chance. And any friend of yours is a friend of the Butcher Fan Club, I suppose." said Purpaza, at her tactful best. She quietly handed Bill her copy of Rainbow's End, along with a pen she seemed to have magicked out from somewhere upon her person and waited patiently as he signed it for her. As Bill handed it back to her, he seemed a little sad that he wouldn't be able to get more details about this Medusa place she kept speaking of and the size of the Butcher Fan Club. Sujay, on the other hand, was still closely inspecting the floor with his face, hoping that if he lay still enough, all the aliens in the immediate vicinity would go away and leave him alone. "Thank you, good sir. 'Ppreciate it. Now if you don't mind, I'll be flicking a beer bottle from the bar over there and be on my way. And yeah, we's is all looking forward to Fidayeen, you can be sure", she said as she winked at him and did both of the things she had proposed.

With a superalien effort, she leapt into her dented vehicle and lowered the top with a flick of a switch. In another second, the egg had vanished from sight.


"Is it gone?" asked Sujay of Bill in a loud whisper. He was still lying motionless on the floor just in case the damned alien came back for the rest of the beer in the bar. "Oh yes, she's gone", said Bill with a note of regret in his voice, "Maybe I should have hitched a ride. Would've been interesting. Oh well." He helped Sujay back onto his feet and they made their way to the beach side once more. "I suppose having an alien fan club is better than a nuclear war. For today, in any case." said Bill as he raised his margarita glass back to his lips, his eyes twinkling with glee.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Indian Online Dating Scene... and my experiences

I've been online dating since late last year. Sure, it's not the best way to meet people, but what other choice do we social network addicted, working from homers have these days? I've come to realise that while I try to write about serious issues on this blog, the posts that do receive the highest reads and likes continue to be about my own miserable experiences in life. Thanks for that, by the way.

I therefore want you to take my small hand as I lead you through my awful dating experiences of the past couple of months. It's not pretty. But it will be fun to watch. I promise.

  • Date 1: The first guy I ever met via the dating app I was using at the time, who I kind of clicked with turned out to be a wee bit of a stalker. The first two days we chatted he seemed to be drunk all the time so I unliked him; he managed to find me by tracking down my LinkedIn profile and messaged me. Being the unwitting idiot that I am, I gave him a second chance. We met once. He bought me flowers. Then insisted on only videoconferencing from there on out. The last couple of straws were his constant put downs and snide remarks and that one time when he showed me a picture of a gun he'd just finished cleaning...

  • Date 2: The second chap I met seemed nice. A photographer, traveller, bookworm. Long funny conversations. We met once at a coffee shop after which he introduced me to some amazing North Eastern restaurants I didn't know existed. After that he insisted on me coming over to his place where he promised me lots of tea. After the first two visits over and an almost intimate moment, he quickly blocked all further visits by introducing his cousin sister who had to sleep over and insisting we remain friends. Oh well.

  • Date 3: This one guy I met treated our first date like a job interview. I knew I got the job when he said we should meet again for dinner sometime. I found it strange though how he'd never been in a single relationship in the past and how he changed his profile pictures on the dating site even as he was still in a text mode with me. Some things just aren't met to last. And virgins scare me.

  • Date 4: So I meet this guy who, on date three, mentions how he didn't 'feel like' going out and wanted to come over to my place instead and have a couple of drinks with me. After a firm no and polite inquiries as to what was wrong with any of Bangalore's numerous coffee shops, I never heard from him again.

  • Date 5: Easily the most painful and hard to forget. Seemed like a lovely chap who was offended by my pointing out that he was in my life to flirt with me and not my friends. 

  • Date 6: A fellow I was on the phone with, seemed hilarious enough, but shocked me one day when he mentioned how he never liked to have sex in the heat of the moment until his partner went and took a quick shower. After which, he'd use a solution on her nether regions to remove any 'foul odour'. I told him I was so glad he'd told me that, and proceed to never text him again.
The online Indian dating scene has the potential to make traditional arranged marriages look warm and fuzzy. But the path to Mr Right is doomed to be lined with many thorns. Look out for more posts in this series.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The problem with sex (Updated)

Sex is clearly a very big problem. Ask any teacher who's had to discipline boys and girls from talking to each other in class. After all, talking between boys and girls leads to sex, right?

Sex is such a big problem, that you have men up in arms about legalising prostitution - not so that women and men who might actually want to consider a viable option as a sex worker will have their rights protected, and so that it also means there will be less trafficking of minors who are unable to give their consent to being used for sex - but so that their sexually starved brethren will be able to bang out their frustrations in their friendly neighbourhood red light area. After all, if a man is sexually frustrated, he might commit rape, right? Just like a poor man has every right to kill or rob people to satisfy his need.

Clearly, sex is a problem that's staring us in the face. In the darkness of your bedroom, under the covers, far far behind the last book in your bookshelf so mom can't find it. Too little sex and you can be turned into an angry wreck, fuming at every happy couple that passes you by, or alternatively actually pursuing a hobby of worth and making something worthy of your life. Too much sex and you're a nymphoniac tharki slut who should be named and shamed and taught to be more cultural.

I mean, it's not as though sex is a vital function that can be used as an expression of love between two loving partners of a consensual relationship; it's not as if sex is as basic to our human character, as say, hunger and the satisfaction of it is. If you're asexual, it surely doesn't matter to you. But if you are a sexual being, sex, I'm reckoning is something that should be on your mind, at least once a year on your birthday, if you're lucky.

Now, even Google turns on us sex 'aficionados'. Pooh-poohing the 'dirty' human desire for sex and ignoring the fact that we're all naked underneath our clothes, Blogger has announced its new Adult Content Policy*.  Basically it says that if you have sexually explicit content or graphic depictions of nudity on your blogs (unless they're relevant to the subject like art and stuff (no, mommy, no more naked pictures of your baby on your blog unless you've artfully twisted the umbilical cord remnants around its neck)), Blogger will force you to take off said content or will convert your blog to a private one.

I never expected Google to do a Harsh Vardhan on us. I mean, what if the blog were discussing sex in a positive way, teaching young adults what was okay or not? Do they have to poke about in the dark, perverted, paedophilic recesses of the Internet to find out how to have sex? If blogging is all about freedom of expression, how is this new ruling going to help? If they're all for blocking porn, why on earth can't they find a way to do that without taking away the rights from other bloggers who aren't using it for porn? Does this mean that someday TOI will be censored by the gods of the Internet for those shots of Deepika's cleavage and be deemed a porn site?

I wish I could somehow blame this on Modi and make it go away.

*Update: As of March 2015, Blogger stated it wasn't going through with the proposed changes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The End

I've realised that it's no wonder people like Layne Staley and Jim Morrison offed themselves at the young age of 27, what with all the depressing songs they've sung. One such song is below, which is fit for a night full of depression when you're mourning the loss of something you probably never had to begin with.

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end

My eyes have always been blind to the right sort of beauty. I don't go for the superficial kinds, but what I believe to be the beauty of the soul. But I've found I need glasses to look closer because even souls have stains that mess up even the okay looking parts, fouling up the entire package.

This is the end, my only friend, the end

Exclusivity in any relationship is hard sought, rarely won. While I have been guilty of cheating on a partner in the past, I have ensured that they suffered no more, took ownership of my crime and parted ways. Of course, the way karma works is to ensure that you keep suffering for the crime even when you've mended your ways and made reparation the only ways you knew how to do.

It hurts to set you free

There's so much pain in saying goodbye to someone even if you've only known them for a couple of weeks. To know you'll never look into their eyes again, never hear their laughter, never regale them in conversation. But goodbyes are compulsory even while new hellos are optional.

But you'll never follow me

No, you won't, for your ego is larger than mine. I have learned to mellow down my ego, let go of things that I cannot control, appeal to people to see things my way. I have learned to kneel but I understand if you haven't learned that particular life lesson yet. Perhaps you will in time for the next suitable partner.

The end of laughter and soft lies

Oh the laughter, and the mandatory lies to sustain a casual relationship. A one sided relationship that possibly means more to one than the other and the effort that goes into pretending that you feel the same way. Even if you have fallen harder believing that the other is worth it.

The end of nights we'd try to die

The night you'd told me my existence was precious to you. The night you'd told me to never even say for fun that ending it would be better. Those nights are over now.

This is the end

The end, indeed. Goodbye.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

India's Daughter

I come from a country where women do not have an equal standing in society compared to men. I come from a home where my mother never failed to let both my sister and I know how much she had yearned for a son. I come from a city where relatives would taunt my father about his two girls and comment on how important it was to have a son. It does not matter if these rapists are hung or freed. We need a change in the way women are perceived if we are to combat even a fraction of crimes of this nature - essentially, hate crimes against women.

I support the India's Daughter documentary's attempt to get us to see that the way the rapist thinks and talks is not so different from the way any man in our family might look upon women and their behaviour. Today, The Merry Misanthrope is running a series of quotes from Indian men on the Delhi Gangrape. Please do take a look before you dismiss the documentary that is to be banned in our country, and how it serves as a mirror to such thinking.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Kindness of Strangers

I have mentioned before how much I am always touched and humbled by the kindness of strangers. It's always most unexpected but just by being there for you, they give you so much strength to power on.

The past weekend I proved my idiocy again by getting into an easily avoidable accident involving myself, my ancient scooter and the road. The end result was me looking like something out of Saw and feverishly placing ice packs on any area of my face not covered with blood so that I could look human again. During this time, the few friends I did choose to mention my injuries to really touched me with their concern, going so far as forcing a promise from me to never ever try to kill myself in that preferred method again.

The rest of the kindness that came my way was from unexpected quarters: The neighbour who actually made biryani for me to cheer me up; the landlady who prepared me a lovely dinner; the sweet man who took me to hospital when he didn't have to. I'm ever grateful for being proved that I'm a twat whose misanthropy is misplaced, for the most part at least.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Anger is... best dissipated with chai, sutta and friends

This one is admittedly inspired by one of my favourite online channels TVF Qtiyapa​ that comes out with irregular episodes of the 'Chai Sutta Chronicles'.

When I used to go into the office back in the day (working from home can really increase your social need), there was always time for a relaxing cigarette break with your sutta buddy. Some tea, a smoke and lots of bitching was all you needed to take any stress off of that impending deadline. It was also nice to just sit up with my roommates (yeah, living alone increases your social need to; need I remind you I'm misanthropic?!) in the middle of the night, send someone into the kitchen to make some garama garam chai and sit back with a much needed sutta for relief.

Sending one of them to scout for sutta in the middle of the night optional. Dedicated to everyone who feels the same way.

Anger is... Driving in Bangalore

There's nothing romantic about traffic in Bangalore. While I know my more worse off peers have to endure stationary vehicles on the Silk Board route and the never moving traffic flow at Whitefield, I have to contend with the madness at the Begur-Bommanahalli road. On this wonderful little stretch of approximately 2km, you have to combat with cows, dogs, humans, two wheelers and mad auto rickshaw men as they all want to use the middle of the road and feign complete deafness to my honking horn. It's especially delightful how the traffic policemen stand idly by ignoring the melee, sometimes even stepping into the fray, almost daring you to ram into them when they know you wouldn't dare. It's enough to make one... extremely angry!