Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Stopped in my tracks … almost

I can’t access blogspot. And it’s killing me.

No, let me rephrase, I couldn’t access blogspot. And it was killing me. But as always there is more then one way to get the job done.

Which brings me to the people blocking my morning read. Here's the statement from some government representative on the blocking of blogspot and 11 other sites in the country, it’s priceless, take a read:

"We would like those people to come forward who access these (the 12) radical websites and please explain to us what are they missing from their lives in the absence of these sites."

This got me thinking. See, I’ve always harboured a secret ambition of being an adventurous outlaw. The kind who lives in a dense jungle, defying the authorities and fighting guerrilla wars. I’ve never been able to meet this dream, of course, for a number of reasons. The most obvious being, I’m chicken. Being very scared of scary things like violence, arrest, blood, cut-open bodies, Indian lawyers, (shudder shudder!) torture (ugh!) made this a highly improbable career choice. But suddenly everything has changed. And today, I stand among illustrious fellow outlaws; Robin Hood with his bow and arrow, Che* with his philosophy and an ever-growing line of tee shirts and Me with my blog.

On with the revolution, I say!

* comparison to Che made only for spectacular effect and not in a state of sensless self-illusion.

Oh! In news just in, the block is off! Bye Bye Robin. Later Che ...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wanted


We’re back on track. And we’re much wiser.

This morning I hopped off the train and walked right into two neatly dressed cops. Standing outside the first-class compartment in their crisp khaki saris and tidy plaits they scanned me for any potential terrorist threat. One of them obviously found a glimmer of terror in me and promptly got to work. From lazy strolling cop she suddenly became all business, barking her order in perfect textbook cop style ...madam bag check please.

Nothing wrong in that, I thought, she’s just doing her job. And the obedient citizen I am, in a show of faith, I flashed her a bright happy smile. Shit! Wrong move. You never smile at cops. You scowl or you cower but you never smile. She almost cart wheeled in delight as she gave her colleague a triumphant ‘I told you so!’ look. My flashing smile had openly betrayed my criminal intent, more reason then to probe the contents of my bag. After all bags can carry some pretty scary things. Other then your everyday bombs and hand grenades you could be carrying scary bubblegum strips, cruncy red apples, broken pencils, rubberbands, sharp nibbed pens, dirty handkerchiefs. The list is terrifying and endless.

I opened my bag and tried to guide them through the hundred different things in it, but once again, I was curtly stopped. Again, I gave her the benefit of doubt. She had a point; I could be up to some mean mischief, I could detonate unknown devices using a remote control hidden in my bag. I could be carrying a touch-and-boom-we-all-explode contraption. I could have nerve gas and trigger off even more trouble. My hand in my bag could be the end of our world, making this a very dangerous situation. And so my hand stayed exactly where it was, hanging aimless from my shoulder while her hand gingerly shuffled through my stuff. Pens, paper, book, tissue, more scraps of paper, empty chips packet, blah, blah, blah… damn where were the usual suspects?

The bag gave me a clean chit but not the cops. They had another brainwave, hoping to catch me on the wrong foot. What’s your name they asked me, where are you coming from. Brilliant! If I were a part of the movement for mass destruction, I would definitely tell them my name and where I come from. It is but natural. For that matter I would also alight from a crowded train during rush hour, just after a major mishap in the city carrying a nasty device in my bag. Obviously.

Then again, they were just doing their overworked underpaid job. So what if it was a lousy attempt. Finding nothing in me to suit the profile of a closet terrorist, they reluctantly thanked me and let me go. And focussed their energies on some other equally terrifying person hopping off the next train.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wish you were here


So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground. What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
R.I.P
Syd Barrett
1946-2006

Mumbai

To the rudest people in the world,
Take a bow.

Mumbai,
11/7/06

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cup of Joy?


The Football World Cup;
Breaking millions of hearts since 1930.

In the Rains …


The monsoon is here in all its glory.

Pearl shaped raindrops hit the earth with a gentle splatter. Their rhythmic pitter-patter disturbs the long settled dust, sleeping across the city. Everything is fresher now. Everything is green. And the air is scented with the delicious aroma of roasting corn.

Tempting you from every street corner is a monsoon-drenched cart. A tiny man in an oversized raincoat smiles at you from behind it. Pointing knowingly at the neatly displayed wares on his cart, a tidy heap of lime green butta.

As the skies open out, you run up to the cart and huddle under a dripping umbrella, watching tiny puddles gather to life in a circle around you. You peer through the curtain of raindrops at the tiny man. He smiles, a friendly smile, and strikes a damp matchstick to life. And with these tiny strings of fire, he lights his small coal stove. Instantly little bits of charcoal glow awake, angry red eyes glare at you, from inside the stove, like a monster waking up in a dark fairy tale.

As the stove turns into dots of red, the tiny man picks up a butta and then two, without once disturbing the heap. He rips off the bright green coats they wear and lifts their soft brown velvet veil. He casts a disapproving glance at the flame, not impressed by its progress, he fans it furiously, egging it on to rise. And rise it does, suddenly the air is full of slivers of fire dancing around fat-sparkling drops of rain; the coal is now bright red and the corn roasts to a golden yellow.

After a series of twists and turns, he lifts the golden yellow butta off the smoky hot stove. Yes, it’s perfect, hard enough to bite, soft enough to chew. He smiles. And proceeds to dress it in a melting coat of butter. He adds a touch of namak and a dash of mirch and then to this delicious mix, he adds the final touch, a generous splattering of lime.

You hurriedly grab the hot cob he hands you and greedily bite into this spicy-sweet monsoon delight. And you don’t stop till you rip off every bit of corn from cob. And somewhere between the first bite and the last a thought enters your head, ‘Should I have another one of these?’

And there in the background, stands the tiny man, still smiling, as the bits of coal shut their growling red eyes again.

Running Late



She’s late.
She grabs her bag, haphazardly throwing in all she needs. Wallet. Book. Scribbling paper. Pen.
She steals a glance at the clock. Shit! She’s going to miss the bus.

Eight minutes left.

She gulps down her tea. It’s burning hot. It scalds her throat as it pours in.
She needs a whole minute to put out the burning flames in her throat.
She has no time for this!
She slips on her Osho chappals. And hurries out.

Six minutes left.

She calls for the elevator. Damn! Where is it?
Forget it. She runs down the stairs and rushes out.
She glares at her watch. It’s hard to tell the time when you’re on a trot.
The hands keep jumping nervously around the dial. Is it 8:10? Is it 8:12?

Five minutes left.

The sun is trailing her.
Her shadow is at her tail, goading her on.
The sparrows chipper loudly, taking bets on her chances.
The old grey crow thinks she’ll make it.
The pigeon says she won’t.

Four minutes left.

Cars pass her in slow motion.
So do people talking their morning stroll.
The world moves on at a lazy pace, mocking her urgency.

She doesn’t notice the wrinkled hawker coming from the other side.
He spreads his cart carelessly in front of her.
She halts.
Ouch! Her shadow painfully bumps into her.
She really doesn’t have the time for this!
Panic is setting in.

Two minutes left.

She brushes the cart out of her way.
And then she smiles for the first time today.
She can see the bus now.
She is almost there…

She smoothens her hair.
She straightens her kurta.

One minute left.

She steps into the bus.
There he is.
His fingers are drumming a panicked beat on his laptop.
Where is she?

And then he sees her.
She smiles.
He smiles.

The engine roars to life.