Monday, 13 April 2009

Air-conditioned love

The streets outside lie empty, as if the whole city was hit by a zombie virus. But none of that post-apocalyptic scenarios, I say, it's the heat that's re-embracing its eternal love, the Juliet to its Romeo, this city of Delhi, a dusty hellhole where the fires of heaven cannot remain clenched for too long.
The cold was only a sham. A mirage to lure travelers into its deepest bowels, and residents into believing climate change is finally a reality.
I can feel the hot tepid air on my face as if it never left me. It sucks the air within my lungs, leaves me gasping for another breath even as Helios pours out its love for this city.
In this heat we wander.
And in this heat, that crowded-to-the-brim but air-conditioned metro system seems like an oasis.
How easy it would be to fall asleep while standing under the vents that give out cold air like manna from the heavens.
Yet in this heat we wander.
In circles and spirals, I say, around a maze of glazed white circular constructions--a remnant of the colonial past. Was it any cooler then?
We wander as we relentlessly seek out the elusive watering hole, that one spot in the desert where prey and predator alike beat the mid day heat.
And in our post-modern, cyber-punk, techno-junky, reality-tv-stupified society--it is none other than an enclosed cafe, another modern invention of expenditure, a haven for get-togethers of young couples who hands and kiss each other in the corners of this fancily-lit, magazine-studded, exotic-brews-advertising cafe.
Air-conditioning is as inseparable from us as the shoes on our feet or the underwear that we wear.
Love brews in an air-conditioned environment.
In that heat, an embrace leads to a shrug-off, a seeming rejection of the affection.
Inside the cafe, the embrace becomes an excuse to come closer.
Love needs air-conditioners to survive in this heat.

Friday, 10 April 2009

of grammar and idiosyncrasies in the air

i is just coming back from the land of the bombay, where the merry gujhu bhais has setting up a merry own stall of theirs in the airports. i is flying by spice jet one morning [maybe that is why guju bhais choosing it-teekha teekha] when i realises my plane full of patel chacha and hingorani chachi eating theplas merrily merrily merrily.
they coming back from holy pilgrimage of vaishno mata as it was holy time of nine nights....and they is going back to the dhandha in vashi....
i enter and i see plane is full...
i thinks to myself stopover from jaipur with so many peoples inside...
then i hear the melodious voice of a million gujju bhais going ping pong and air hostess trying to calm them by giving them sandwiches......
but sadly air hostess herself was not aware of the demand for garam chai inside and the foot next to the kettle which she sadly dropping on my foot......
all hot hot tea falling on my foot....
i screaming....air hostess--beautiful she was; christina her name was; good eyes too--she keep saying sorry sorry but the harm was heart was getting stolen....
therefore i is not being able to say much except it is okay.
anyway. back to my uncles.
i like them. they are very nice people. very funny too. filled with joy and pride at the world.
one man being so courteous that he donated 5 sandwich packets, 4 juice packets, 3 water bottles, 6 cashew nut packets [the munchies come on] and 4 chai glasses to the beautiful air hostess
litter bag....
and then very generously offering another aunty [i do not knows if she is known to him. it seems like so. but aunty's uncle was also present. so i dont know what to make out of it] a sandwich which he is saving for the taxi ride from bombay airport to mira road....
so sweet no.
that's exactly what i is thinking.

before i forget, man, i hear this man talking on phone to his mrs. telling her sweetly she is not obese, only little bit fat. to eat tanduri chicken, not butter chicken. so sweet a husband he was.

bombay airport--my my--as crowded as bombay itself....but one good thing i saw.....viveik [i hoping that is his spelling] oberai meeting his friend....
i is being in double mind over taking autograph or not....then i thought i is too cool for i did not....
now i think, i did mistake. i could, maybe, sells it later on ebay.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

A new-age Bollywood

I had this in mind for a very long time, but Mr. Sottai insisted I go ahead. Here you go:

Move aside Mr. Johar and Mr. Chopra. Make way for a new breed in ‘Bollywood’ filmmaking—a breed that is not afraid to tell stories, to express desires, to flaunt psychotic tendencies and to show-off creativity.

‘A Wednesday’, for me, is one of the path-breaking movies in this respect. With a screenplay tighter than a corsette, it moves flawlessly, beckoning the audience to be encapsulated in an urban thriller digressing towards a moral dilemma. Furthermore, it might be one of the few movies where the protagonist is nameless, a representative of the middle class, yet an individual who is willing to take action. What marks it out from the rest of the lot, is the simplicity with which the story is told—there is no time wasted on the rituals of character explanation, and leaves it up to the audience to decide the nuances.

While all this talk of a new Bollywood breed is on, let’s not forget the harbinger—Mr. Kashyap, who, unfortunately, has taken up for himself to be the torch in this new Statue of Liberty. But the torch wavers; it flickers in the gale of commercialism and an inability to deliver the premise of the film. For example, ‘Gulaal’, probably post-2000’s only mainstream revolutionary film, if we discount the beautiful ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’ as a parallel cinema, fails to show the path that it amazingly lights up in the first half. With an array of the most interesting characters to have graced Indian screens and in a setting that has never been touched in cinema, Mr. Kashyap should have had the good graces to not tumble down the lowly slopes of romantic intrigues and femme fatales. Instead, he does. And the movie, instead of becoming a ground-breaking film, ends up a jamboree of characters who do not know where to proceed, now that they have gone two hours into the film.

A bit about ‘Dev D’ here—which, of course, has been hailed as the ultra-chic and an in-your-face film that has no holds barred. Yes, it is an interesting twist to the traditional Devdas tale. Yes, it shows a deep psychological insight into the characters, as never before. No—it does not work as a reflection of the cesspit Mr. D falls into—the result of a broken heart. Why—because, simply, his relationship with Paro is not defined. His relationship with Paro is a culmination of boyhood fantasies which border on sexual release and the display of machismo. And, most importantly, his relationship with Paro does not appear to be obsessive enough for him to digress into a path of supposedly ‘moral decay’, as marked by Aronofsky and Kashyap’s new best friend Danny Boyle-dedicated 360 degree camera turns and neon lights blinking revealing a drug trip.

But forget the media hype for now. And instead, watch ‘The Stoneman Murders’. Indeed, it has its flaws. There was no need for a lingerie-clad madam to be performing a traditional ‘item’ number. Neither was the concluding scene. Rather—watch it for it represents—an edge-of-the-seat thriller that twists and turns into a maze of cat and mouse, where you never know who the predator is and who the prey. Notice the film posters on the walls—the details are all in there—keeping in mind a basic point of filmmaking: the time and place should not be anachronistic to the event on the screen.

It’s not as if our big budget starrers are not trying to break the mould. ‘Luck by Chance’ is an example—spoofing the inherent tendencies of Bollywood’s obsession with stars and not with actors.

That draws me to an interesting concluding question—is Bollywood getting over the hype of the star, and instead, focusing on the story and the actor? Or is it just a phase—like the time we thought ‘Lagaan’ would show us all a new Bollywood?

Whatever it is—just promise me one thing, all ye directors: never put me through the trauma of another ‘Delhi 6’.

Hunger pangs

In response to Varun Gandhi's over-the-top overture in the wilds of Pilibhit. Had written a long time back, though.

The mob moved ahead, weapons brandished as if they were divine gifts. Their leader, a restive young man in ruffled hair and a cheap orange shirt from the pavement, was urging his followers to move on, reclaim what was once theirs.
The mob didn’t need to be told that. They were hungry, yes, they were. For exacting revenge on the cut-dick bastards who had gone over the top this time. This time, once and for all, things had to be sorted out.
“Remember those martyrs, those pure of heart, who got burnt alive. Those innocents, roasted inside a compartment just the way these fuckers roast their goats. It’s time for us to show them who we really are, won’t we?” the man asked upon his crowd.
The colony looked haunted. Dark - the lights had been cut off a long time ago – except for a yellow bulb giving short glimpses whenever it came within the range of their eyes. It seemed like the gods were on their side – darkness would be the perfect time for a massacre. All the blood, it could seriously unnerve some of the younger ones. Plus if there are any witnesses…..nay, there wouldn’t be.
But they were too late. The entire colony was empty. Not a single human soul now resided in the huts, nor moved among the dark alleys, stepping over the drain that flowed onto the road.

They had moved out in the very first days of the riot.

“Shit. I think these fuckers have already gone to the relief camps,” one of them shouted.
“I knew these guys were too smart to stick around waiting for us to attack.”
“They must have left at night, when our boys went back home.”
Slowly, the mob reached a frenzy. Heated discussions over whose fault it was became the point of the hour. Fingers were pointed, abuses to one’s mother began simmering in the air.
But all of them heard the whimper.
It was a sound of pain, of immeasurable agony.
“It came from this corner,” pointing towards the alley opposite.

A dog slowly appeared in their view. It was an emaciated bitch, her ribs’ presence overpowered by the bulge in her stomach and the overflowing teats.
“It’s just a bloody dog.”
It came towards them, wagging her tail, expecting a bone or if lucky enough, a piece of meat as the others did before they left.
It never saw the blade’s glitter before its head rolled off to the side, its body spraying blood and thrashing around.
“What did you do that for?” asked a man, closest to the dog and recipient of a splatter as well.
The restive man just shrugged, and said “I think it was one of theirs’.”

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

unemployment blues

when the going gets tough, there is no place to hide.

2 and a half months and counting. unemployed still. surviving by on daily subsistence levels. realizing the best (and only, so far) offer i had was of an internship that paid less than what half of India earns a day. (That's 100 bucks--what i was getting and what more than half of India earns)

This 'recession' everyone's been talking about--how real a recession is it really?
firstly--India doesn't suffer from recession. It's a slowdown. S-L-O-W-D-O-W-N
secondly--thank the Communists. they've saved India.
thirdly--it's just a fucking excuse for layoffs. cost-cutting benefit analysis.

I am just back from a 5-star. All the lights in the lobby were on. All the valets were working. They had candles on the lobby tables even whiles the bloody lights were on. Stupid stupid aesthetic sense--mine, obviously, not theirs. How dumb of me not to notice--it's the look, dammit.

My friendly Rastaman still grins. Thankfully. My girlfriend is still with me. Thankfully. My maid still takes an off on Sundays. Thankfully.

unemployment blues/ooooooh
life's all loooose/oooooh
i croon all day like a burnt fuse/ooooh
and everyone believes it's all a ruse/ooooooh

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Corbett Corbett...

You can take a man out of the city, but you can never take the city out of a man.

There we were, in one of Corbett National Park's most famous chaurs, or grasslands, while our Gypsy driver pointed out a Horned Owl amid one of the branches. Along came another Gypsy, its denizens a bunch of young men from the City. Seeing us stop, they asked what could we see. We said, an Owl.

"उल्लू की माँ चोदो. हमें शेर देखना हैं."

And in one instance, my vision of a human world co-existing with the natural world disappeared.

Can man, as a species, truly recognize the importance of every species in a ecosystem? Given that everyone goes to Corbett to see a tiger (we did too), does that fact really diminish all other species' importance within that park? What is indeed, the difference between a tiger and an owl? Both cannot live in harmony with humans, and both are equally vital as is the Chital or a Wild Boar in Corbett's ecosystem.

Dhikala resthouse.
Babies play with their nannies while their parents catch up on sleep. Loud men in garish clothes reek of alcohol in a no-drinking place. A family of 10 constantly chats, even while on safaris. And nubile young women stretch their bosoms out of a Cielo to gather a glimpse of an imaginary tiger.

Does the idea of eco-tourism really work? Not in my book, unless one is aware, unless one recognizes the idea of co-existence.
It's a little bit like communalism, really. Hindus don't want to live with Muslims. Muslims don't want to live with Jews. Jews don't want to live with Christians. And all of them certainly don't want animals around them, unless it's a fancy Pomeranian they've bought for 15k.
So is there a solution?
Probably. And in certain little ways, Corbett is an example. Hand out garbage bags at the gate. No non-veg food inside the resthouses. Restrict the traffic inside the reserve. Fine people who do not obey the rules.
Yet, there is a lot more that can be done. Hold workshops inside the resthouses. Teach the people why they should respect forests. Do not look over any sort of indiscipline.
We can save the tigers, but can we save ourselves?

An interesting observation: A solar-electrified fence around the Dhikala resthouse means only one thing. Out here, in this outpost in the middle of a jungle, we are the ones inside cages. Therefore, we have to behave like the ones who live inside cages.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

of fat jaguars and ice-cream addicted monkeys

The signboard reads: 'Dangerous animals. Please don't put your hand inside the cage.'
I finally understand why the Mayans revered the Jaguar as a god.
Sadly-not here in Delhi Zoo.
"It looks unhealthy."
"Obviously. Look at the exercise they get. A bloody 15 by 15 feet cell."
"Look at the flab that hangs under its belly."
"What is it trying to do? Climb that branch?"
"The female's not interested."
"Fuck. That's a lot of flab."

Dangerous animals over. We wade through marsh mosquitoes, and halt at the mother of all thievery corporations.

(A monkey with an ice-cream, in case you were wondering.)

"Bipedal animals look so ugly."

Friday, 13 February 2009

a season of discontent

and life moves on, like a crawling tadpole about to take its first step on land.
my terrace is a cheap replacement for the sands of Goa.
yet i park my behind and sun-bathe like an inglorious individual.

unusually warm for this time of the year. the ants are out of their hibernation and back to what they do best--invade my kitchen. my landlord's sons believe a loud barbecue party is the best way to end the season's depression. coal flakes fly all over my head. my clothes line creates a hyperbolic shape under the weight of all the clothes that we refuse to pick up and pack in.

"Who told you to leave your job at a time like this?"