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Cricket and Me

I have some fond memories of a cricketing era gone by. And era when all cricketers were gentlemen and all uniforms were white (Sorry Manu Joseph). My earliest memory of the game is the shopkeeper ettas shushing me as they held their breath and  listened to the Hindi radio commentator’s excited voice describing the ball going all the way char run ke liye. Then came the era of grainy television sets and someone turning the antennas outside until a voice from the living room told them to stop because they could finally distinguish between the cricket ball and the fuzzy grains on the Dayanora TV.

It was the Reliance Cup semifinals that finally sealed my love for the game. I got to watch the match on a colour TV at a relative’s house. While the women gossiped in the kitchen, I sat with the men in that typical 80s afternoon and watched the game with absolutely no clue about what was happening. But the next day, I very knowledgeably analysed the match in school by repeating what I heard the uncles say ‘Kapil Dev should have batted first. He won the toss and took the wrong decision. The team ate a heavy lunch and slept through the afternoon instead of playing’. (The next time I repeated after an adult was when MGR died. ‘ That fellow went and died and now they won’t show the cricket match on TV’, I parroted after my Anglo Indian neighbour. I got a slap from my mother. A DMK supporter’s scooter was burning in the street below as I was mouthing those blasphemous words) The only redeeming factor of that World Cup was that Pakistan also lost the semis.I remember feeling sad for England, the seed of hatred for the Australian team was somewhow subconsciously planted early in my mind. Alamboder was the man of the season, but my heart was with Mike Gatting. I was officially cricket obsessed.

It was that time of the century when the internet was unheard of and having only a grainy TV, Malayalam newspaper at home and a father least interested in cricket frustrated the cricket thirsty me. I snuck into my cousin’s forbidden pile of Sportstars and read all the captions on the photos, too bored to read the actual articles. I had a crossword book, an imported one that had simple crosswords on various subjects. I did the cricket crossword in reverse from the answers and sat with a dictionary checking the meaning of each cricketing term. And I made notes in my book. Googly, yorker, off-side, slip, mid-on. In a week I had the halo of cricket around me. In theory, I was a cricket expert. I collected BigFun bubblegum cards that said Dilip Vengsarkar: Get 4 runs and Maninder Singh : Get 1 wicket and exchanged them for a fielding position poster.

The next phase was the tomboy phase where I went around ‘bowling’ balls of crushed paper into wastepaper baskets and tying up wooden rulers and inviting classmates to a game of cricket during lunch break. Thankfully, I did have a few equally cricket crazy friends. A classmate messaged me on Facebook some time ago asking me if I was still cricket crazy. I cringed at the memory of those days and said a loud NO. I hounded friends’ brothers for whatever cricket trivia I could get from them. It was Manoj who told me about a tenth standard boy named Sachin. Soon enough a picture of the Boy Named Sachin was inside the plastic cover of my school calendar only to be pulled out and torn up by Miss Cecily.

Years rolled by and I unpatrioticaly cheered when Imran Khan lifted that cup, admiring him for his cancer hospital plans. I rooted for the South Africans named after kitchen stuff, Wessles, Rice and Cooker. I cried with the long earringed Kambli and grudged Jayasurya’s Audi.

And then the worms crawled out. Manoj Prabhakar happened. Azharuddin ( what a letdown :/) happened. Hansie Cronje happened. And I started distancing myself from the game. The last nail in the coffin, Lalit Modi’s baby then happened and I am now officially a cricket hater, detester, abhorer and everything else. If there is one thing I could ban, it would be cricket.

But let’s see if this new UC Browser will change things for me. They claim that it will revolutionize the cricketing experience.

You can check it out here

http://www.ucweb.com/

The UC cricket part of it can be found here for download

http://www.ucweb.com/English/UCbrowser/cricket.html

Toxic People

Sometimes you have to be brutal and take some time to revise the ratings on all your relationships. When BFFs get downgraded to Friends and Friends get downgraded to Acquaintances. And Acquaintances leave the system and become just People.This is something that is absolutely necessary, something that you should do from time to time for the sake of your own mental health. Your ‘enemies’ aren’t the ones who are dragging you down. Your toxic friends are.

All of us have a dash of these toxins in us, that is natural, normal and that is what makes us human. But there are some people in my life whose toxicity is beyond the permissible limits. And it is time to do a Maggi on them.

The Thundercloud:

Actually, she is the one who finds the tarnish in the silver linings of each thundercloud. The one who blames the cruel hand of destiny when her maid doesn’t turn up. Or blames her wretched, meaningless existence for the TataSky outage. She will rue the day she was born when she can’t get her winged eyeliner straight. She will text you from the immigration queue at the airport when she’s just back from her third foreign holiday this year to complain about the monotony of her life. She can send you on a guilt trip if you  by telling you about the time her second standard teacher didn’t respond to a question she asked, and how that is the way things have always been with her in her invisible, insignificant life if you don’t reply to her text messages within ten seconds. Victim Olympics? Always wins gold. She is the one who makes you ask yourself the existential question: ‘Do I hate myself enough?’

a song of ice and fire first world problems gif

The Self Centered Diva 

She’s the one who is oblivious to the fact that you haven’t ‘had a birthday’ for the past six years that you’ve been friends. To quote Gabby Solis, she is so self-centered that she doesn’t realize how self-centered you are. She’ll stop you in the middle of a sentence with a wave of her French manicured hand when you’re telling her about how worried you are about the IT industry these days with an ‘Ok. Whatever. Now listen’ and then go on to tell you about the awesome pongal she had for breakfast two days ago. She is the one who gets passive aggressive and deletes a comment she made on your picture when you don’t Like her latest picture on Facebook. That high maintenance diva with whom you can never catch up. Ever. But if you stick on a bit longer, you’ll find yourself getting depressed because you are not her.

God’s salespeople: 

These are the ones who have a god or a godman for every situation in life. Job hunt not working out? They will tell you about a temple that will get you a job in Google. In America. Hung up on your ex? There’s this swami who can get him back for you with a gold amulet on your bicep. Piles? Forty days of lighting candles in this church can make your bowel movements feel like trips to a spa. Trust me, these people aren’t evil Vatican agents or Mullahs or RSSwallahs trying to ‘convert’ you. They are actually harmless wellwishers who actually believe in these things. But give them a bit of space in your life and before you know it you’ll be sitting in a day-long clapfest listening to people talk in tongues,putting locks on trees to shut your enemies up or hanging a five rupee coin wrapped in a green cloth on your doorway. Religion should be like your sexual preferences. Whatever works for you, fine. I’m happy for you,but I don’t want to know.

The Saviour:

Oh, these are the ones who cannot bear to see you happy. They are the opposite of fair-weather friends. They thrive on your misery . They have some kind of radar that picks up even the smallest drop in your happiness chart and will be at your side to console you even before you realise that you’re supposed to be unhappy. And if you’re not unhappy, they will make sure you get there by digging up a dark moment from a decade ago and reminding you about it. They know what your buttons are, where they are and how exactly to push them. And then, they think they know how to make you better. You’ll want to reach out to them every time something good happens in your life, to let them know that you’re happy and to try to erase that opinion they have of you: A sad miserable wretch. But don’t. Because to them, you’ll always be that sad miserable wretch. Even if you go to them riding on your pet unicorn through a rainbow cloud.

Unfiltered Sunshine:

She is the one who is always obscenely happy. She puts glitter in the imaginary word bubbles when she speaks to you. She looks at a wooden bench with faded paint in a busstop and can Instagram the ‘rustic beauty’ of it. With thirty five hashtags. She gets multiple orgasms over a piece of cheesecake. Nothing is not Awesome to her. Actually, she could add more synonyms for Awesome in her vocabulary. Sunshine is good, but there’s a reason why we don’t get it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Let the culling begin!

Uh oh. I’ve become Buzzfeed. I’ve actually included gifs in this post 

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy. A name that evokes extreme emotions. You either hate her or love her, there’s nothing in between. And you either hate the people who love her or love the people who hate her. Again, nothing in between. But my love for Arundhati Roy began long before she won the Booker (and the wrath of some people for ‘vulgarity’ in That Book), long before she called Maoists Gandhians with Guns, long before she said that Kashmir wasn’t an integral part of India, long before she wrote those pages and pages of essays about everything from dams to ‘alleged’ terrorists. My love for her began in a gentler time, simpler time. In one of those long lazy summer afternoons when I used sprawl out in the sunshine on the verandah and read Target, that magazine that shaped the childhoods of the 80s kids. (The silly puns we make on Twitter were made decades ago in the Ha Ha pages of Target.)

arundhati-roys-quotes-7

So one month, in an article which would now probably appear in some listicle as ’10 Multitasking Superheros who hold 5 jobs’  or something as lame, there was this feature about Arundhati Roy. She was an ‘Aerobics instructor who is also an actress, scriptwriter and something else that I don’t rememember clearly’.But she was four things in that feature. And in that black an white photograph that accompanied the writeup, she was the Rahel I would see many many years later. In that interview she spoke about how her mother Mary Roy fought for property rights of married Syrian Christian women. About how her mother started the Corpus Christi school and how since she was the first student of the school that followed no traditional syllabus, she had read Macbeth before she was 10 years old. Macbeth, which again, Rahel and Estha would quote in That Book. She spoke about her dog, Kuttapan Patti Swami Om Prakash. Google doesn’t throw up any results for that name, but I know that it isn’t a figment of my childhood imagination because I remember almost chanting the name because it had that zingy ring to it (Yawn, yes. Like Rahel and Estha chanted Nictating ictating tating ating ting, but inside my head.) That dog would become Khubchand. She was the dropout architect whom I would picture  Rahel as many years later. No, there was no Velutha or Baby Kochamma in that interview. And no, because That Book isn’t exactly autobiographical. She spoke about the script she wrote for In which Annie Gives It Those Ones and how Annie was actually a grubby guy named Anand. ( Since it is out here, I must watch this atleast now). And about her aerobics. And whatever other things that could be fit into that one page feature about her.

And that was when I fell in love with Arundhati Roy.

Arundhati Roy:  Aerobics Instructor, actress, scriptwriter, could-have-been-architect and Something-else-I-Can’t-Remember. Arundhati Roy: Soon to be Booker prize winning, Maoist sympathising, Gandhi-hating, dam-damning,terrorist-supporting, seditious anti-national.

Yes. I can say for sure that I had a girlcrush on her decades before girlcrush became an actual word. She is one of those people I never question. Maybe she has impractical dreams in this practical world. Maybe she only sees problems and doesn’t offer solutions. Maybe she dares to voice her support for people who shouldn’t be supported. Maybe. Maybe not. But I am an unashamed fan, follower, groupie, call-it-what-you want of hers. And yes, you can hate me for that.

Ok. Now why this post? I’ve been suffering from reader’s block for the past couple of months and even though I’ve started five books, I still haven’t been able to finish even one. Last week, a friend (finally) read The God of Small Things and wrote this two point review of the book that said it all. And so I picked up the book. Again. And I am rediscovering the book. Again. Woman, release your next work of fiction soon. We’re waiting.

Ball and Chain

This discussion today just reminded me of a story I’d written some years ago. I kindof cringe at the whole story now, but it anyway I hope it is not as bad as this  book

Karthika took the thali up to her face and touched each eye with it. It was her way of showing reverence to the symbol of her marriage. To her husband.

It was her mother-in-law’s Puja, where every year a group of married women got together and prayed for their husband’s lives. They held out their thalis to be anointed with the sacred red kumkum. Praying that they would never have to remove their thalis until the day they die. It was a blessed boon to die as a still married woman.

Karthika was one confused woman. She was twenty eight, convent educated, had a master’s degree in computer engineering. She had traveled to three countries and worked with Americans and Europeans. But in her heart she was still the small town girl from Tamilnadu. It was an identity crisis she couldn’t cope with. She knew that the thali and the sentiments that her mother, mother-in-law and grandmother thrust on her was just a blind ancient tradition, fuelled further by endless Tamil movies.

Her husband’s life and future did not depend on the appendage hanging on the heavy rope shaped gold chain on her neck. Her brain told her that, but her small town heart said something else. Why anger the Gods? So she wore it and treated it with the expected amount of respect. Sometimes she wished that she could trade it for a lighter more delicate model. Like the black bead mangalsutras the North Indians wore. She had suggested it once, but her mother-in-law had been scandalized. This was her family’s pride and self respect that hung on her neck. Not something that could be compromised.

Her mother-in-law always made it a point to mention that they had given her a thali chain that weighed eleven sovereigns. Eighty eight grams. She conveniently never mentioned the hundred sovereigns of gold that Karthika’s father had decked his daughter in. Or even the ten odd sovereigns that were gifted to the groom, her husband Ram. Bracelets and chains that, thankfully, he never wore.

The moment the marriage broker had shown Ram’s profile to her father, he had decided that Ram should become his son- in- law. A post graduate, only son, no bad habits, earning over a lakh a month, own flat in Chennai. The works. Ram was every father’s dream for his daughter. Most importantly their horoscopes had matched perfectly.

What more could a retired railway employee ask for. He had immediately given his consent to the alliance and withdrawn his entire life’s savings from the Post Office deposits for the wedding expenses. It did not even occur to him to ask Karthika for her consent. But anyway, Karthika wouldn’t have dared to say no even if he had asked her.

She went through the lavish wedding as she was expected to and dutifully slipped into wedded life with no hiccups. All her jewellery had been put back into the safety locker immediately after the wedding. Only the eleven sovereign thali chain and two bangles remained on her. It was almost three years now, and she had forgotten what her jewellery looked like.

Over the first year of her marriage they had kept adding to her thali. The thali itself was typical to her community. A one inch long odd shaped piece of gold with two protruding peaks. Supposed to signify something divine, but she felt it looked more like a frog with protruding eyes. There were some gold beads added after three months, then some gold tubes. Then a couple of black beads. It kept getting heavier and heavier, weighing her down. But each addition increased her husband’s life. She accepted dutifully.

Even when she went to the US for three months she was not allowed to remove it. She wore it hidden deep inside shirts as she travelled to work every day. One daring moment in an office party she had unbuttoned an extra button on her shirt, hoping to expose a bit of cleavage like her American counterparts. But to her ill luck, it was the thali that popped out unexpectedly and was noticed rather than her breasts. She spent the rest of the evening showing it to admiring Americans who were fascinated by the whole concept of the thali, and more so by the concept of supposedly “For the Rest of your Life”. Something totally alien in a land of speed dating and speedier divorces.

The chain chaffed the skin at the back of her neck in the hot Chennai summers. The thali created a small black scar just below her breasts where it constantly rubbed against her sensitive skin. There were moments when she was tempted to remove it. But something deep inside her knew that she could never forgive herself if anything happened to Ram if she did remove it. Sometimes she wanted to pull it off and hurl it into the ocean, fantasizing at the thought of her thali creating a fault in the ocean floor and causing a tsunami centuries later, like the idol in the movie Dasavatharam.

Once she wondered what would happen if she got into a swimming pool wearing nothing but the chain. Maybe she would sink like a stone?

But otherwise, she silently wore it. Never complaining. Ball and chain around her neck. To be relieved only in death.

Ram himself had been a bitter disappointment. She had grown up on a good dose of Hindi and Tamil movies. She expected him to sweep her off her feet with small romances and surprises. She expected a honeymoon at least in Ooty if not in Switzerland. But instead they had gone on a temple tour. With his entire family in tow.

She sometimes wished he would sneak up behind her in the kitchen and squeeze her waist naughtily, knowing well that his mother was watching TV in the next room. She longed for jasmine flowers placed on the pillow some night, a subtle suggestion of what lay ahead. A suggestive email or SMS in the middle of work, surprise weekend beach trips and long walks on the golden sands.

But that was not Ram. He was a good husband. A great provider. A supportive man. He was well read and well traveled. But that was it. There were times when she even wondered whether he was normal. He had no friends, (and therefore no bad habits according to her father), no hobbies, nothing. He was a workaholic, which again was a good thing according to her father. He watched cricket matches, but only because he felt he had to keep track of statistics. He watched movies, but only because he could critically analyse the lighting andangles and find faults in the direction. He watched the news on every channel each night for an “In depth analysis”. He read almost every newspaper in circulation. That was all there was to him.

They had gone to the doctor some time ago since she had not conceived even after two years of marriage. The doctor did all the tests and had told them that nothing was wrong with both of them and they should keep trying. Karthika tried to make the situation lighter, “Sure Doctor,” she had said “At least the “trying” part is fun”.

The doctor had laughed heartily and agreed. But Ram sat there with his face set like stone, shocked at his wife’s words. Not something that a “Family girl” would say openly. He drove back home in a hurt silence, while Karthika looked out of the window trying hard not to giggle recollecting his stunned expression.

On the whole he was a bore. A good man, but a big bore.

He frustrated her with his timetables. He never had his breakfast before eight o’clock or after nine o’clock in the morning. Many Sundays when her in-laws were out of town, they had bitter arguments over breakfast served after ten. He woke up at five o’clock every morning to do his yoga while she stayed in bed enjoying the last lazy moments stretching luxuriously, fantasizing about the imaginary surprises in store for her that day.

He even had a fixed time for making love. No sex before ten pm was the unwritten rule.

It was like an imaginary lock he had installed on the bedroom door. Swipe in before ten pm, and the lock would beep loudly, red lights blinking wildly. Access denied.

And when the Love was actually Made, it was as process oriented as his projects. Done with perfect textbook precision, error free, time bound. Within the budget. She could sometimes even sense the status updates he kept giving himself every minute. Five minutes more to go for project delivery. Now four minutes. Three.

Actually, doctor, the trying is not fun

And then, three months ago her life had changed. Vinod had joined her project as a senior manager. He was a tall cheerful man, full of life. He had a great sense of humour and was a great conversationalist. He even joked about his divorce during lunch with the team once.

“I was George Bush and she was Bin Lady” he said with a booming laugh, “it was doomed from the beginning.”

He took everything with such ease that even deadlines became something to look forward to after his arrival. He made small jokes during status meetings and crazy faces during con-calls with foreign clients. The entire team loved him. But for Karthika, it was something much deeper. In Vinod she began to see all that she wanted to see in Ram. Her feelings did not go unnoticed.

Vinod too began to find himself drawn to her. There were a lot of unsaid words hanging in the glass walled conference rooms long after they had discussed the project status. There were a lot of unnecessary daily updates that they gave each other sitting across the table, gazing into each others eyes. She began to feel his presence even before she saw him enter the room. She sometimes felt a delicious shiver run through her body, only to look up and catch him staring at her with brimming desire from across the hall. The air around them kept getting thick with a fog of sexual energy, and she found herself getting drawn deeper and deeper, closer to him inside that fog.

It was the celebration of their project delivery that Friday. They had abandoned their workstations and taken off to a beach resort. While the rest of the team rejoiced in the liquor that had begun to flow by five pm and beach cricket, Karthika and Vinod sat on the sand, looking aimlessly into the horizon. The silence between them spoke everything they wanted to say to each other. His hand slowly crept across the sand and reached out to hers. She immediately sensed it and withdrew her hand even before their fingers touched.

Darkness slowly began to set it. Dinner was served. Everyone chattered animatedly over the banquet forgetting office pressures. Karthika and Vinod spoke to everyone else, but between themselves the only words that passed were through their eyes.

The team packed themselves into the four cars for their return trip. Karthika went straight and sat in Vinod’s car. She knew that Venkat would be driving past her house, so before he suggested that she get into his car she went into Vinod’s car and closed the door. Three others got into the back seat. Everyone had exhausted their words and it was music that filled the car on the way back. After they had dropped off the others, it was just the two of them in the car. The silence continued.

He stopped in front of a building. “This is where I live”, he said, breaking the silence at last. “Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee?” It was ten pm. She could hear her heart beat bouncing off the car doors loudly.

Her heart cried out

“Yes”

She took a deep breath.

“No”. It came out as a whisper.

He didn’t say a word. He dropped her in front of her apartment and waited till she got inside, then drove away.

The next day she woke up with a terrible headache at 8 o’clock in the morning. Ram looked at her accusingly, when she gave him his coffee at 8.30. The neglected husband. He always had it at 7 am. His parents had already left for Tirupati early in the morning.

Karthika looked at the clock, and decided to finish breakfast before 9 to avoid another accusing stare.

She tried hard to blank out the events of the previous day as she made the dosas. She sang loudly with the radio and tried hard to concentrate on what the blabbering DJs were saying. But the same words kept echoing in her mind all the time.

 “Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee?”

“No”.

The afternoon was hot and sultry. It looked like it was going to rain. Ram was sitting on the sofa reading the news paper like he was giving an exam on the news the next day. She went up and sat next to him. She picked up the remote and surfed through some random channels. The clouds outside were becoming dark and menacing. She stopped at a music channel. It was a hot song sequence. The heroine was dripping wet in a black saree, worn precariously low over her hips and seducing a reluctant hero.

Karthika pulled up her feet on the sofa, snuggled closer to Ram and looked up into his eyes. He lay down the news paper, looked at the TV screen. He said nothing, he just smiled. He took the remote from her hand and went back two channels. BBC News.

Access card swiped before ten pm. Access denied.

Of Course.

She got up in a huff, visibly upset and angry and went to the bedroom. Blindly she changed her clothes. She reached out for a light blue saree. Draped it carelessly, clipped her hair up  and grabbed her handbag.

“I’m going to the beauty parlour”, she said and rushed out of the door angrily. He said nothing; he got up to close the door. It was only after she got into the auto rickshaw and heard herself saying, “Anna Nagar” that she herself realized where she was headed.

It was not to the beauty parlour.

The auto rickshaw stopped in front of the now familiar building from the previous night. She picked up her phone and dialed.

“What is your apartment number?” she asked brusquely.

“C45”, he answered, confused.

She hung up before he could say anything else.

A few minutes later, she stood outside C45. There was no hesitation when she rang the doorbell. Vinod opened the door, a look of total surprise in his eyes. She pushed him and walked past into the living room with fierce determination.

“I have come for that cup of coffee you offered yesterday”

He stared at her for a moment and his face broke out into a grin. He looked like a happy schoolboy who had just been selected for the football team.

He turned and went into the kitchen.

She stared behind him, a bit confused, as he walked away.” Coffee? Really?” she thought to herself.

She looked around and entered his bedroom. She stood in front of the mirror.

She removed the barrette and let her hair fall to her shoulders, and ran her fingers through her silky tresses. She turned around and studied herself.

”Not too bad” she thought.

That moment, he entered with two cups of coffee. He placed the cups on the dressing table and looked at her. Without a word, he opened his arms. Happily, she rushed in, leaving the coffee to grow cold.

He kissed her hungrily, wetting her face like an eager puppy. His hands moved all over her body, not knowing where to begin. He gently laid her on the bed and lay down beside her. She sank into the pillow, trying to bypass all the thoughts that came rushing into her mind at full speed, all at once, competing for priority.

He removed her saree pallu, fumbling with the pin, poking into her shoulder as he removed it. He looked at her breasts in the light blue blouse and he buried his face between them. She had never felt this sort of a heady feeling in her life before. She sank deeper and deeper into the moment, eagerly awaiting the ecstasy to follow. She felt a sudden throbbing. She remembered the woman from the porn movie she had once watched secretly. She transformed herself into the porn star. She grabbed his head with a savage energy, running her fingers through his hair, pushing him deeper into her chest. Suddenly the throbbing became more urgent; she wanted his wet kisses there. With the same savage force, she pushed his head downwards.

The next moment she was thrown forward and he screamed with pain.

There is no other way to recreate the last few seconds except through an action replay.

In slow motion.

Rewind…….. naip hitw demaercs eh……….

He was enjoying her at his own pace, panting heavily, dribbling all over her, when the porn star took over. As she grabbed his head and pushed it downwards, his open mouth had gotten caught on her thali. Caught between the savage monster pushing him downwards and the eighty odd grams of gold rope pulling him upwards, his upper lip got fish hooked in the gold appendages that hung between her breasts and tore, dripping blood all over the blue chiffon pallu spread across the bed like a fan.

She stood up in horror and instinctively grabbed her thali, rubbing the back of her neck where the impact had grazed her. There was a bright red glob of blood on the very peaks where auspicious kumkum of the same colour had adorned it the previous week. She grabbed her pallu and wiped it off quickly.

She stared for a moment at the figure in front of her, hair disheveled standing up like two horns on either side of his head, bare chested  blue jeans unzipped, holding the bloodied bed sheet to his bleeding lip, face distorted in pain.

What began as a small giggle slowly evolved into a loud hysterical laughter as she ran out of the bedroom, out into the hallway, into the street. Into the pouring rain.

It was only when she sat down in an auto rickshaw, still laughing, that she realized that there were tears running down her cheeks.

Whether they were tears of laughter, tears of sorrow, tears of relief or tears of realization. She couldn’t tell.

That Tag

There’s this tag doing the rounds on Facebook. Top ten books that changed your life. I’m too cool to participate in Facebook tags. Also, most of my real life Facebook friends are more Like-and-Facebook-will-donate-one-dollar or Share-in-2-seconds-to -avoid-bad-luck or the Profound Quotes by Rumi and Gandhi sharing types. And on the other extreme I’m intimidated by some of the lists that I see. What if my top ten books are too plebeian for the book bourgeois and they judge me. Someone listed Dante’s Inferno on her list. I tried ten pages of that book after I read the more common-man Dan Brown’s Inferno and gave up in frustration. There’s a lot of Shakspeare also being listed. I wonder if they are being pretentious or they’ve read more Shakespeare than what was prescribed in school. Or maybe abridged versions are allowed on the List. Yes, they should be.  I don’t know the rules. Anyway. I wanted to list mine. This is in no particular order.

( Warning: Too many old blogposts linked here. Kindly adjust)

1. The God of Small Things- Arundhati Roy

People seem to either hate the book or love it.  But I’m tampering with the laws that lay down which book should be loved, and how. And how much. This gets its own blogpost soon. And so does She.

2. Gone with the Wind– Margaret Mitchell

The book has grown up with me. I read it from the perspective of someone new every time I read it. And it is like reading a whole new book each time

3. Animal Farm- George Orwell

This  should be the prescribed textbook in Commie School and should be read even before The Communist Manifesto. Absolute brilliance. And there’s no better way than this to have called Stalin a pig.

4. Nancy Drew- Carolyn Keene

A part of my childhood died when I learnt that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for a group of authors. But then there were some books that kept me up all night with a torch under the pillow and some books that were returned to VK Library, unread. Explains. But Nancy Drew made me write Detective against Ambition when everyone else was writing Doctor or Teacher, and prepare fingerprint kits with cellotape and talcum powder. Again, this gets a separate blogpost soon.

5. Dark Places- Gillian Flynn

It was a tie between this and Gone Girl, but Dark Places was deliciously dark cranberry flavoured bitter chocolate and it pipped the mind games of Gone Girl by one point. Protagonists who are nothing are really something.

6. The Mahabarata- By Anyone

From the ACK comic books to Prem Panicker’s tweets as @epicretold. Jaya, Palace of Illusions, Ajaya, Karna’s Wife. I’ve read almost every non-serious version of this book and still can’t get enough of it. And Karna. Sigh. Oh Karna.  Why isn’t someone writing Karna’s version of it? The closest we’ve got from Karna’s point of view is Dhalapathi. I want a book.

7. Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

The chapter with Jo getting her story published was in my fifth standard English textbook. And I’ve been hooked since then. I’ve read the book right from the baby version when I was ten to the actual unabridged version very recently. Beth doesn’t die in the baby version. And when she did, I felt exactly like Joey .  This too deserves a separate blogpost.

8. A Fine Balance– Rohinton Mistry

Read it very recently. I can’t imagine that I lost out on all that darkness and depression for so many years of my life.

9. The Illicit Happiness of Other People– Manu Joseph

This is popping up on a lot of lists. I’m still recovering from this book . I continue to pick up random passages every now and then and just relish them again

10. The Cuckold- Kiran Nagarkar

Strange how Krishna who spoke so much about Duty in the Gita encourages Meera to not do her duty as a wife. Ok, that’s my interpretation. But this book tells the tale from the Prince of Mewar’s point of view. The husband who lost his wife to a god.

 

Honourable Mentions. I thought I’ll have a difficult time listing my Books, but there are some more.

1. The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseni. He killed it with that Bollywood ending though.

2. The Diary of Anne Frank- Anne Frank. Because it is actually a happy book. Just set during a horrible time.

3. City of Joy- Dominique Lapierre. Priests, poverty, foreign doctors. Lepers, more lepers and even a leper wedding. Reality. What’s there not to like in this book.

4. Half of a Yellow Sun– Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.  I have no clue if the Nigerians still want it, but I wish for a Biafra someday. That’s the secessionist in me talking. Yeah. I’m like that.

5. The Ring and Message from Nam- Danielle Steel- Ouch. Danielle Steel. But yes, I romanticize wars. Or maybe I should read these two books again to see if I still feel the same way about them

6. As The Crow Flies- Jeffrey Archer. Such a pity that the guy who wrote this story of Charlie Trumper is now torturing us with The Clifton Chronicles

10. The Seige and The Betrayal– Helen Dunmore. Because Soviet Russia. Because World War II. Because dark, cold and depressing.

8. Crosswinds- Keepsake. My first series of books with the boy-girl covers. Clean American High School fun. Good old days when sex, booze and cigarettes were not a thing in young adult fiction.

9. Master of the Game- Sidney Sheldon. He’s not called a master storyteller for nothing. Maybe I was too young for it when I read it first. But it only kept getting better and better the second and the third time I read it. A book that keeps you reading through the night whenever you read it even though you know what is going to happen next.

10. Anthem- Ayn Rand.  Dystopian as dystopian can get.

Waah. I want to list some more now. But maybe I’ll do a list of popular books that I just don’t get.

What’s on your list?

 

2014: Dystopia

My previous post and the comment there just got me thinking. What sort of dystopia will scare the bejeesus out of me?

Full Disclosure: I may or may not be one of these.

2014

The year is 2014. The social media wave that had swept over the lovely little Subcontinent has now turned into a social media tsunami. The first generation of innocent Orkutiyas have now evolved into Facebookers and Twitteratti, a more dangerously stupid breed.

Armed with a bunch of photos They sit behind computer monitors, unleashing the virus. The contagion spreads quickly and Gullibility and Stupidity  slowly starts eating into the brains of Facebookers and Twitteratti. It is now ingrained in their DNA. Inbreeding of Orkutiyas, Facebookers and Twitteratti has created a new species: Social Media Morons. They have the characteristics of all three. Concentrated. They can see, they can read. But they can’t think. They can’t analyse. They have lost the ability to Unbelieve. When they see a photo that has been unleashed upon them by Them, they lose the ability to right click on it and select Search Google for this Image. They have forgotten how to use the easiest tool known to mankind: Google. The moment these Social Media Morons see such pictures, they can only click  on three buttons : Share. Retweet. Forward. In rare cases, they are able to exercise self control and click on safer options like Like or Favourite.

But thankfully, a few citizens of the Subcontinent have been immune to the virus. They have been able to resist Gullibility and Stupidity and their brains have developed a protective shield. These people are the Super Cynics. They know how to Google. They haven’t lost the ability to use their brains. They know how to Unbelieve.

Just last night, a Super Cynic saw this. This Super Cynic isn’t too techsavvy, so forgive photo quality.

Exhibit A:

2014-07-30 20.24.21

A normal brain, an average pre Social Media brain, would have looked at atleast the second picture and wondered if this is actually somewhere on the way to Vaishnodevi or even just a railway track. Even a pre Social Media brain sitting in the deep south of the subcontinent where there are no mountains, only sea, would wonder. And then the brain would realise that the first picture is somewhere near Goa, the Konkan Railway line. The second and third picture is from some foreign locale that may soon be seen in a Bollywood movie. And the fourth picture may be of that of the actual Vaishnodevi Railway station, the one where a certain Person recently flagged off the train. Or something. And another Person nitpicked.

But sadly, now the Social Media Morons can do just one thing: Believe. Blindly, Truly, Madly, Deeply Believe.

Exhibit B:

Guj

The key words here that would have triggered off the alarm bells in a pre Social Media brain are ‘Gujarat’  and the M word. A simple right click on the picture and selecting Search Google for this Image would have thrown up atleast 10 results that indicate that the picture was from 2005 and the Mumbai floods. Not from Gujarat or last week’s rains. But no. The keywords, the G word and the M word, have formed a numbing layer on the brain here and the person is unable to look beyond them.

And worse. The Social Media Morons who responded to this image exhibit different forms of moronism. ‘This is not a photo from Gujrat, but from Uttrakhand. Don’t make a fool of public!’.  Don’t make a fool… metametameta.

And the Super Cynics just continue to shake their heads in sad defeat and only hope that someone will find a cure and control this epidemic of Social Media Moronism.

Recommended reading: Plenty. But what’s the point?

Edit: Couldn’t help but share this. For the wellbeing of future generations.