Monthly Archives: February 2016

Image courtesy: http://what-buddha-said.net/Pics/meditazione.jpg

Going a week without losing my temper

No bullshit. Cut straight to the chase – I have anger issues.

It’s not like I’m normally raging like a Cuban teenager all the time. But in the event of an incident that pisses me off, I pull out the gun, place my finger on the trigger and fire away like I am a character in Grand Theft Auto.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something I have begun to acknowledge as part of my personality. I have soiled quite a few relationships in my life since I had no control over my anger, and then regretted losing my cool in a few hours.

If you’re someone who doesn’t get angry often, it is hard to describe the process. The anger is not a momentary thing, it builds up slowly. Bubbling and frothing like a Hans Zimmer soundtrack, it slowly rises up to your neck, fat and ripe, waiting for the final trigger. And the moment it senses the trigger – BOOM!

I often feel like an asshole within a few hours, but the damage done is mostly irreparable.

However, this is not meant to be a preachy post about my demons. Rather, a detailed explanation of an experiment I decided to undertake last week.

*

I have been reading up on Jiddu Krishnamurthy’s writings (you should too, if you are into that kind of stuff), and in his essays on anger, he suggests getting to the root of the cause without being judgemental on yourself.

It is an opinion echoed by Buddhism as well, which talks of anger actually affecting the angry person more than anything else. Which is probably true because if you keep getting angry, you begin to notice that the people around you stop caring after a point. You are automatically treated as a cranky old fuck, and that’s simply pitiable.

And to rid myself of such misery, I decided to keep my anger on check. It began with solutions from the internet, like Count upto 20 backwards. Which is nice in theory, but I’m so bad with numbers that I’d count down the numbers wrongly and that got me angrier.

There were other remedies, like listening to yourself breathe. Another great suggestion, but when I’m angry, I’m more caught up in the performance. I treat my anger like a theatre production – taking care to emote through my actions, tone, and words.

Finally, I decided the shortcuts won’t work. I decided to go through the painful grind of keeping a tab on my anger. I sat and listed down the situations that made me angry, and then in neat handwriting next to it, the reasons that got me angry about them. After a cathartic two hours, I was ready to test myself.

I’d spend seven days without losing my cool. If I lost my cool, I’d punish myself by not smoking a joint for a week. With the stakes set comfortably high, I laid out the rules:

  1. Shouting counts as losing my cool.
  2. Sarcasm doesn’t count as anger, as I’m still calm enough to think up witty, sarcastic lines.
  3. Not shouting at the person, but spending the next one hour thinking of rebuttals I could have used in the argument counts as anger.

With my rules, my determination, and conviction firmly in place, I began the journey. I was prepared.

*

If cities had characters to themselves, Hyderabad would be like the annoying sidekick in Chhota Bheem. Annoying, pesky, and easy to lose your temper over. The weather is hot and sticky, or cold and damp. There aren’t enough trees around, and the vehicles and honking gets to you after a point.

But luckily, I was in Bangalore.

Bangalore is Zen, that way. Everything is calmer, the people more civilised. The evenings are pleasant, and a walk down a street is like getting a Thai massage if you’ve come from Hyderabad. The first day, I’m proud to say, was a breeze.

There was an incident where I’d placed an order for breakfast – nothing complicated – just two vadas and a coffee. I flipped through Bangalore Times as waiters duly served everybody around, except me. But I wasn’t going to lose my cool over two vadas and a coffee, come on!

I smiled and reminded him of the order, to which he smiled and caused further disorder. Finally, after another fifteen minutes, the vadas and coffee arrived. I gulped them down, both with hunger, as well as satisfaction over my mind-controlling powers.

I was so enamored by my own success that I began to show off to myself in the coming two days. I would walk into situations where I would normally have lost my cool, just because I could do it. Like Steve Austin from the WWE Attitude Era, I walked into danger, and swaggered out of it without losing my temper.

I was clearly good at this.

*

For someone who writes and maintains journals, I began to dissect the dizzying heights of success I achieved in those three days. I wrote about how I had been such a fool, and that one’s demons are in one’s mind. All one has to do is put them on a leash, and zoom out and look at the larger picture.

The next two days were easy as well. There was the case of a hotel boy who got me hot water to drink when I was famished, but I smiled and asked him to change the bottle.

On the fourth day, I got myself a haircut.

Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I fuss about my hair quite a bit. I have had such harrowing experiences with barbers, that I only cut my hair once a year. The rest of the days, I’m Jackie Shroff in the 80s, carrying off a mullet with aplomb.

This particular barber sat me down on the hot seat and wrapped me in the shawl. He then proceeded to intensely watch a Shobhan Babu movie on ETV Telugu.

Somewhere between the haircut, I enquired if he watched films of this age, and he clicked his tongue in disapproval. It was the first sign that I was screwed. When he was done, and I put on my specs and look at myself, I could have cried.

Do you remember Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones? That’s an accurate description of my hairstyle at the time.

BUT. I didn’t lose my cool. I grinned when my friends told me I resembled a budding lesbian teenager. I went to the barber again and asked him to correct my hair. I then went to another barber to get a second corrective operation. Which was followed by my friend snipping scissors on my head, and a final corrective haircut in an expensive salon.

And all through, I remained calm.

I smiled like an ascetic, gushing silently about my victory over my demons. I had finally done it.

Yes!!

*

It is easy to remember your resolution when you’re awake.

When you’re aware, and fully conscious, you can steer your mind to places of your choice. But what happens when one is asleep?

What happens when one is a light sleeper, trying to catch forty winks on a semi-sleeper, with the seat curving at such an awkward angle that even a snake would get spondylitis?

And so it was that on the sixth day, I was on my way back to Hyderabad from Bangalore.

The bus guys graciously chose to play another film by Prabhas, and once that was done, people silently settled into their seats. The snoring picked up, the lights were switched off, the rumble of the engine acting as a lullaby to tired people who couldn’t afford a plane ticket.

I began reading Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, and I spent a good hour travelling to Gaiman’s wonderful, fantastical world. When I returned, I duly put the phone in my pocket, and pulled up the blanket to sleep.

 

Wake up, wake up…it’s a brand new day…

Wake up, wake up…everything begins today…Wake up!

I nudged the guy next to me, ‘Dude, your phone…’ He mumbled and fumbled, and I drifted off to sleep again…

Wake up, wake up…it’s a brand new day…

‘Dude, your phone, man…’ The guy turns to me and shrugs his shoulders, I look around to find the owner of the phone, and it’s quickly turned off. I drift into sleep again…

Wake up, wake up…it’s a brand new day…

I shoot up like a meerkat, turn my head around and find a man in the row behind me.

‘Uncle, please switch off your alarm’. He slobbers up and nods at me. I mutter a few curses in my head and drift back to sleep.

Wake up, wake up…it’s a brand new day…

‘Uncle. Your phone. Can you switch it off?’ Uncle mumbles something and then fiddles with his phone. This time, I don’t drift back to sleep. I am in a half-awake, half-asleep limbo state; I know it’s going to come again…

Wake up, wake up…it’s a brand new day…

‘UNCLE! CAN YOU SHUT OFF THE FUCKING ALARM?’ (A few people wake up and turn to me).

‘I’m trying, but it’s not stopping…’

‘NO! That’s because you’re snoozing it. And I’m losing it!’

There is a silence in the bus, straight out of a Center Fresh advertisement. I cover the blanket and go back to sleep.

*

When I wake up in the morning, there is commotion on the bus.

Turns out a customer mistakenly got down at Jadcherla to pee and got into another bus by mistake. Our bus was waiting for Mr. Christopher Columbus, and the other passengers didn’t seem too pleased about it.

Slowly, as my eyes got used to the light, I realised there was something heavy on my heart. And then the incidents of the previous night came back to me. I turned around to find a man in his late 40s, balding, a paunch with a maroon Polo T-shirt. He looks at me and quickly looks down.

We are three hours away from the destination, and I can’t stop thinking about what I did to the man. I open Neil Gaiman’s book and try to force myself into his world, but he isn’t very pleased either, and won’t let me in.

I turned around to look at the man a few times, and he catches me each and every time. I walk up to the driver a few times, and fidget in my seat.

I made up my mind to apologise to the man.

‘I’m sorry, uncle…I didn’t know it was your phone…so I …’

‘No no, beta. Actually, this is a new phone, and I still don’t know all the functions properly…’

‘No, uncle. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…’

 

Of course, the above conversation never really happened. When my stop came, I sheepishly picked up my luggage and leaped out of the bus as quickly as I could.

Sorry, uncle.

I know you didn’t mean to disturb other people, but LEARN THE FUCKING DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SNOOZE AND OFF’.

As you can tell, I lost the bet with myself.

I realise controlling anger cannot be taken up as a project. It can’t be a New Year’s resolution. It entails internal cleansing in the purest sense. Most people who get angry have deep demons inside them, and look for triggers around them to invoke those demons.

I do not have any more targets as of now, but I haven’t lost my cool since that day. It’s been a week now.

I hope this phase lasts slightly longer this time. And I hope that fucking asshole learns to operate the fucking phone.  Shanti Shanti Shantihi.

***

Featured Image courtesy: http://what-buddha-said.net/Pics/meditazione.jpg

premratan6

A very late review of ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’

I often think of myself as a timid man. One without the guts to go watch some of the movies that get released in our country. I know what most people say – ‘It’s just entertainment, leave your brains/kidney/urinary tract at home and watch them’ .  But I often back out of such ventures, my pusillanimous sense of aesthetics afraid to venture further than my comfort zone.

But last night, as I was waiting for sleep to seduce me, I discovered the film on Hotstar. Perhaps some things are destined. May be I was supposed to watch the film on a Sunday night, after two good joints and a day of fulfilling work.

Here is a very late review of ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’. If you have watched the film, good for you. If you haven’t, don’t fucking bother. It’s only interesting if you like Trash movies.

And Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is top quality trash. Top draw, big budget, operatic trash that you can sit back and relish after a good dinner and some sweets. If you don’t like Trash, you might feel like cutting your stomach open and eating your liver.

*

When the iconic 21st Century Fox logo flashes with its iconic tune and trumpets, you realise Bhai is going to piss over all the childhood memories attached to it.

In the Opening Credits, you realise who the film is going to be about. One frame in the Credits reads: ‘Salman Khan’s Costume – XYZ, Salman Khan’s Legal Counsel – XYZ, Salman Khan’s Service Tax Counsel – XYZ’.

Within 5 minutes, our man is dancing with men dressed as women in a song called Prem Leela. I turned around on my bed to lie down on my front, and pulled up my blanket, this was going to be a Trashfest of glorious proportions!
*
Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is vintage Salman Khan.

It is Salman Khan not giving a fuck about you, himself, the cosmos, and Einstein’s Gravitational Waves.

This is Salman Khan in and as Salman KhanWhether it is waltzing from bone-crunching action to a song named

‘Meena ho Rajjo ho, ya ho Sheela…

(wait for it) …Prem Leela…Prem Leela

Or dancing in the middle of a dialogue, sending you back to painful memories of Hello Brother and Yeh Hai Jalwa. Or using random English words in the middle of a sentence even though he plays a village simpleton.

And in a glorious bit of Troll-casting, Bhai is joined by none other than Sonam Kapoor. That woman with such an enigmatic voice that when she talks, you’re unsure if she’s saying something/asking you a question/suffering due to a scarcity of Hajmola.

Sonam Kapoor and Salman Khan share the same initials, and acting abilities. In this film, Sonam Kapoor runs an NGO, flies in a chopper, and does ‘nice’ stuff, like distributing clothes and food to poor children. Salman Khan wants to thank her for her good nature and begins to behave like an 8 year old on cocaine – making faces at the camera, smiling, twitching, doing Prabhudeva steps in the middle of a monologue. Uski marzi.

After a while, the entire enterprise seems like a school’s Annual Day drama, where the Principal’s son is the hero, and the rest of the school is playing along. You think you are set for a regular Salman Khan film.

BUT
(Dhan Dhan Dhan…)
There is another Salman Khan. A sophisticated prince who speaks English.

In order to pull off the highly complex task of portraying another character, the makers resort to the classic Bollywood trick – giving the ‘other guy’ a moustache. This other Salman Khan is calm and composed. For eg, after a fencing match with Neil Nitin Mukesh, he says, ‘That was close, Ajay. Good job’.

This prince uses words like ‘Ranjishein’, and visits people on a horse drawn carriage, fully aware of man’s developments in the domain of automobile cars. Because, Salman Khan.

What follows is a classic case of dual identity, with Salman Khan playing both the roles with such nuance that you can’t tell who’s who. You can’t even tell who you are, after a point. In an effortless performance, Salman Khan skilfully walks the middle line between four lines of coke and six lines of coke.

There are other actors thrown in so that Prem doesn’t feel lonely on the sets.
There is Anupam Kher playing a desi Alfred, offering sagely advice to Batman Khan. I wasn’t surprised to see Anupam Kher essay the role, because honestly, I have only seen Anupam Kher essay ridiculously asinine characters all my life.

And it is surprising that he won a Padma recently even though there are SO many actors who have achieved much more. You’d think that only Congress and Communists did stuff like this – rewarding their Yes-men with rewards. And giving Anupam Kher a Padma doesn’t stink of sycophancy at all.

But let us not besmirch a Salman Khan film by looking at it through a socio-political lens.

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is more than that. Watching the film reminded me of the time I had gone to a circus for the first time. I had never been to a circus, but I had read stories, and watched Mera Naam Joker across its runtime of four centuries, so I was excited. I wasn’t a kid or anything – must’ve been around 23, and there was this girl who I thought was cute, and she for some reason wanted to go watch the circus, so I tagged along.

It was a very self-aware experience. I was amazed that they still do stuff like that – elephants balancing on cycles, and clowns whose pants slip off and dwarfs on unicycles on ropes. After a little while, I was transfixed. I had let go of my self-aware, I’mGoingToBlogAboutThis avatar, and enjoyed the entire show.

Watching Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is a bit like that.

At one level, it is a film that has Salman Khan in it. But at a deeper subliminal level, it is also Salman Khan educating the nation about the various varied effects of psychotropic substances. When he is listening to other people talk, for example, it is the perfect expression of a person who has smoked one too many of Shiva’s Regals. When he is fighting, it is a perfect demonstration of coke-rage. When he is singing songs, it is to display the wonderful effects of Ecstasy. When he is being romantic, he smiles with the glee of a sublime blot of Amsterdam acid. It’s a layered performance in the truest sense.

Bhai is showing us as a nation how to handle life’s complexities. He has chosen the largest mass-medium in the country to spread the message.

Bhai is, after all, being human.

A very high human.

***

PK controversial Shiva scene

How the Right Wing is inadvertently converting Hinduism to Islam

I was watching PK on television in a hotel today.

Watching a film for the second time is a wonderful experience. You notice things you didn’t in the first place, read subtexts, and can revel in the experience of the film without the pressure of analysing it as a newly released film. (Read my review here).

But the one thing that saddened me about the film was all the controversy that the film created for insulting Hindu Gods.

It is an argument that was whipped up with great frenzy across social media. In many ways, it was the beginning of the nation’s hatred against Aamir Khan. Before PK, Aamir Khan was ambassador for Indian hospitality, tourism, culture, and behaviour.

From a person who tearfully informed the nation about its shortcomings, public perception of him transformed into a monster who uses Hindu gods and themes to make his point. Which is an absurd point to make because PK was essentially a humour film. Just a few years ago, Akshay Kumar starred in a film which brutally questioned idol worship and Baba cults. The film was well received, people raved about it, no questions were raised about Akshay Kumar’s loyalties.

Was Aamir Khan targeted because he is Muslim? I suspect, yes.

But this is India, and Aamir Khan just needs another film and the entire nation will laugh and cry with him.

*

But what irked me more was why the film should run into controversy.

The infamous scene of Shiva running about to save himself from a mad stalker (PK) was what got the nation infuriated. But what is so offensive about the scene?

India in general and Hinduism in particular has a long history of debate, discussion and provoking of the gods. There are countless stories where rishis curse gods, rebuke and ridicule them. In my opinion, it is beautiful that Hinduism allows us the freedom to worship gods, and live with them. We have idols of gods in our houses, images on note books, calendars on walls. Travel to villages, and you’ll find plays and folk-songs where performers mimic and use gods in their songs. Some of the songs target gods, make fun of their habits, their appearance, their vaahans – what is the big fucking deal?

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron is still considered a cult masterpiece today, and its most famous scene is the one where a botched up Draupadi Vastraharan results in absolute chaos.

Can you imagine such a scene being shot today, without morons taking to their Facebook walls and crying about ‘sentiments being hurt’?

Or, check out this scene from RK Narayan’s legendary Malgudi Days, where a Christian teacher tries talking to the class about how they must all follow Christ, and not ‘bekaar Hindu bhagwaan’. (Watch from 2.03)

Can you imagine a scene like this on national television today?

Highly improbable. Sadly, as time passes and one expects a nation to march forward towards a society that is open to questioning beliefs, we have degenerated into a nation that loses its cool at the drop of a hat.

The saddest part of it all is that the Hindu Rightwing claims to be working for Hinduism. In their speeches and Facebook posts, they criticise and rebuke Islam and its regressive practices. However, without noticing the classic irony staring back at them, they are converting Hinduism – a multicultural way of living – into what they consider their biggest enemy – Islam.

Look at each and every argument that has been made in the last few years, and you’ll assume you’re talking about mullahs in Iran rather than a secular democratic country. They have a problem with a stupid Deepika Padukone video where she says it’s her choice who she wants to sleep with.

They have a problem with the representation of God in daily life, exactly what you’d expect a regressive, conservative Muslim to believe.

They have a problem with young women wearing modern clothes, visiting pubs, or walking in parks holding their boyfriend’s hand. I’m sorry but these are classic signs of a regressive Islamic cult, and not of Hinduism.

And slowly, I am afraid we are slipping into the skin of a nation that cries at the drop of a hat.

The Rightwing is slowly transforming into their biggest fears – Islam and Pakistan – a nation that has no tolerance for an opinion that isn’t part of the mainstream.

*

What is wrong with a person dressed as Shiva running around, if it is written as a gag in a film? If you believe in Lord Shiva, you should know that he is the lord of the universe. You seriously think that he would take offence to a film by Rajkumar Hirani? He doesn’t care, it’s idiots like us who get pissed off. Shiva is probably smiling right now, wondering when he should open his eyes and do the Taandav and destroy this dumb fucking race that he created.

Are we a nation with the IQ of drunk mules, that we cannot take an image in its context? And when does this end?

Do we also adopt a censorship on the use of god’s name and image? Will we also reach a day when some Hindus enter a building and shoot journalists for a harmless cartoon? Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? That only happens in Islam, right?

But where did it all begin? It began exactly like this. With a bunch of dudes who decided to decide for everybody else what is offensive. With protests, and effigies burnt, and slogans, and people with no real work in life protesting on the roads.

That’s how it all begins.  Always.

Image by veganbengaluru for infornicle.com '15 Reasons Why Once You’ve Lived In Bangalore You Will Not Like Another City'

Why Bangalore is the best city to smoke up, and a little plug-in for tonight’s show

The decision to stop posting on Facebook (which, if you have a good boss and a friendly work atmosphere, you should have read yesterday) was the best decision I could have taken.

I have come to Bangalore, and Bhavneet has brought his Kurukshetra-era laptop with him, and I decided to flip it open and start writing a blog. I feel liberated and wild – like a Marwadi teenager who goes out with friends and orders Egg Burji. It’s very nice.

I don’t have to open a note book, and then look around for Reynolds Racer Gel (Best pen in the world, must write about it sometime). I don’t have to find a note book that is unruled, with both the pages new and untouched, and then with a Red or Green pen, scribble down the first draft, and then open my Ayodhya-era laptop and type it all out again. This is better.

*

This is my third visit to Bangalore in the last few months, and it has been able to impress a cynic like me.

I am not a fan of malls or pubs or other shit like UB City or whatever. I have a barometer of my own to judge a city. They involve trees, stray dogs and Mom & Pop stores. I have no solid reasoning behind it, there’s no elaborate philosophy or theory on why I chose these three aspects; but it just is.

It took me a few visits to Bangalore to discover there’s more than malls/pubs/robot-mating centres in the city. If anything, Bangalore is the best city to smoke a joint in.

Of course, you can’t smoke in public (not even a cigarette in some of the areas), but if you find a corner on a street, it’s a sensory treat. The roads are wide, trees forming a canopy, and you can still hear birds chirping (something that is a rarity in urban Hyderabad today, it’s almost like the birds left with the last Nizam).

I like to associate places with substances – Bhubaneswar for me will always be the city of Bhang, Himachal the place to worship Lakshmi-Shiva-Durga, Goa and booze.

Bangalore is the place to smoke pot. Just you and some good pot, a small joint, a pair of earphones, and a walk in the streets. It’s beautiful.

There are old men sitting outside their houses reading newspapers at 11 AM, the sun is not sunny, but a benevolent friend smiling down at you. Stray dogs are well-fed, friendly, and appear in all corners, in all shapes and sizes. Cross a main road and enter a colony, and the sounds of cars and streets are tuned out. What you have instead of honks and noises is a light buzz. Like the one in your head. Bangalore is the best city to smoke a joint in.

*

Now, for the second part of the post.

Cricket has been an integral part of my life, as I’m sure it of yours.

For in India, if you like cricket, life’s good. But even if you don’t like cricket, you are surrounded by friends, parents, relatives, grocery shopkeepers who follow it like a religion.

In a way, growing up for me has been a journey that swivelled, turned and revolved around cricket. Along with a few buddies, we have written a thematic Stand Up Comedy show around Cricket. It’s called Silly Point and is India’s first cricket based stand up comedy show.

If you’re from Bangalore and free this evening at 7, please come down to Rangasthala Auditorium at the MG Road Metro Station. I can’t promise a joint after the show like I usually do in Hyderabad, because Bangalore. But it should be fun.

That’s all. Got shit to sort out for the show, and take a bath, and watch Raja Babu on TV.

Have a good day!

 

***

(Featured Image: A beautiful capture by veganbengaluru for infornicle.com ’15 Reasons Why Once You’ve Lived In Bangalore You Will Not Like Another City’)

mahabharat samay thumbnail

The Dreaded D – Word

I have a long running joke about how certain ailments are apt for a particular gender.

Like, it is OK for a guy to have Loose Motions, but not for a girl you like.

Of course, it is all sexist and jokist and all of that, but let’s sweep that under the carpet for a moment.

 

So, the joke goes that some ailments seem to fit men and some, women. Like you’ll only meet guys who suffer from Diarrhoea and Malaria. And women who have migraine, periods and depression.

For a long time, I looked at Depression as a rich-man, first world problem. And I was a first-rate pig about it.

I made my moves on my first girlfriend when she would go to a park nearby to run. I ‘casually dropped in’ one day and began to have a conversation. I remember she was very sad because her dog Snoopy had died. And I was at that time, as pleasing a personality as KRK on cocaine. ‘Hahaha, it’s a fucking dog’ – were my exact words. She held it against me for years after that.

If there was a person who mentioned the dreaded D – Word, I crept out of the discussion like a cat, gliding away skilfully while making it look good enough to put up on YouTube. If someone said they were feeling lonely/sad/depressed/like they wanted to talk to someone, I’d slip away, change the discussion, or in true classy fashion, dish out one of my premium, top-of-the-draw jokes (What did the gay truck driver say to his partner? ‘Ashok! Ley, lund’ Hahahaha. What? Not funny? Fuck you, it’s funny).

In my head, how can one be ‘depressed’?

We live in an amazing world, a world connected and curated by ideas and technology and rationalism and objectivity. A world where everything you needed was a few feet away, you just had to walk up to the giant old tree and shake it and all the fruits would come raining down on you.

How does one, in such a time and age, get ‘depressed’.

As a result, I have laughed and scoffed and rebuked people for their depression. Is it the normal depression that happens? Or is it a special one? The Great Depression? Hehehe.

In my head, I was not Hriday Ranjan, I was Howard Roark. I am immune to stuff like this that happens to regular people. My rationality, which I wore like a proud Kavacha, protected me from such vagaries.

 

Parantu…

 

mahabharat samay

 

D – Man gets to you.

D – Man is out there, lurking. He is waiting to feed off your habits, your pleasures, your routines. It’s funny how your beliefs change in such a short span of time. Just a few years ago, I’d scoff at people, and today, I completely get it.

With all the wonderful advantages of the world we live in, come the disadvantages.

The constant chatter-patter of voices, opinions. A world that is a permanent Broadway stage, a world that you are a small part of, putting up a picture here, a note there. A world where everybody you know today is not just a person with a profession – a milkman, teacher, tuition master.

Everybody you know is a person with ideas, ideologies, is for or against something or the other. They have a green Honda City and a Labrador and went to Andaman for holidays, and other such information that you didn’t need at all. Till you feel like screaming out amidst the chaos just to stay sane.

 

Have I felt this earlier? I don’t know.

I personally think my maturity levels are working like Benjamin Button’s body did. I think I was more mature in some aspects in my early 20s, and that I’m slowly degenerating into a crazy fucking psycho.

The closest feeling to this that I can think of is from childhood. When we would re-join our school after the Summer Vacations. The parents would all come down and drop their kids, and the next few days in the hostel would be spent crying and wailing. Not by everybody, but a few guys who cried every year. There would also be the other set of guys who didn’t give a rat’s ass. They’d hang out and play and laugh and dance and pull each other’s pants down like nothing ever happened.

But this other set – the ones who were homesick and cried – hanging out with them felt like going to lunch with Dementors. When I would join them (because, you know, human beings seek company and empathy – two other assholes that need some taming), it would just be a session of remembering stuff and feeling sad. Like, one guy would be like ‘This time, my father took me to Essel World, and then we had so much fun…boohoohoo’. And the rest would sit there and listen and transport themselves back to the good times they had at home, and cry. It was an exercise in how miserable you can make yourself feel, by pulling out a happy memory and manipulating it to make yourself feel like shit. It was a strange experience, and I remember going back to it even though I knew what it entailed.

That is the closest to what I feel.

Now, I get it.

I get how all the information in the world, and all the wonderful philosophies and rational arguments and wonderful distractions – of people, things, experiences – are all part of the giant tree you can walk up to shake.

And sometimes, there are too many fruits on the tree. You keep shaking the tree, and the fruits keep bumping on your head till you have a headache and want no more of the tree or the fruits.

D- Man is coming.

I think a world like ours is more prone to depression than the guys before us. And in India we do not possess the social capital to deal with the subject. Speaking about depression is like speaking about incest.

 

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If you know anybody who wants to talk, do talk to them. I wish I had. I wish I had listened, and held her hand, and replied and spoke to her. I wish I had given it some thought, enquired from them how they dealt with it. If you know someone, please do that. Like AIDS and Cancer and Poonam Pandey videos, Depression is a part and parcel of the chaotic times we live in.

D – Man is coming. And when he comes to get you, he does a bloody good job at it.

And Karma, like they say, is a Bitch.

A Depressed Bitch.

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The Tyranny of Facebook Shares, and a Thank You note.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while (which you have, obviously, hence you chose to open the mail; Thank You!), you’d have noticed the posts have thinned out over the last few months.

There are a few reasons, which I’ll try to quickly surmise without boring you.

One, when I began writing, politics wasn’t a part of regular, everyday discourse. I was initially hopeful, as the emergence of politics in everyday debates could only be a good thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Today, political debate has been reduced to mud slinging and whataboutery. Left vs Right, Modi vs Kejriwal, Modi vs Ultron, Modi vs Anti Nationals. You have to be Left or Right, Black or White. Every morning, waking up is a pain because the first thing I see is the political outpouring of a guy I met six years ago over a chai and mirchi bajji.

I am slowly working on leaving Facebook, but till then, I’ll refrain from posting my blogs on Facebook. I don’t have it in me to argue with people over my views anymore. I’d be glad to discuss if you post a comment here, but I do not wish to be a part of the shallow, mud-slinging match that is going on.

The second reason is the ‘Performance’ aspect of posting something on Facebook. Before its advent, writing for me was just an extension of a journal, writing for writing’s sake. Gradually, Facebook helped my blog really boom, and it felt nice. People sharing your stuff, ‘tagging’ you, saying good things. But all’s well as long as you’re talking about Aamir Khan and Uday Chopra. As soon as you enter the marshy territory of politics, religion or social issues, my docile, fun-loving readers transform into sword-wielding online rioters. Slowly, lines are drawn, territories are demarcated, and shots are fired.

It has made me rethink my stances, question my beliefs. I have always held that beliefs are transient, they change and evolve. But these days, when I want to post something, I begin to wonder how X will take it, or Y, whom I met six years ago over chai and fucking mirchi bajji.

In the end, I decided to adopt a stance that a lot of sane minds across the world have adopted – Fuck Facebook.

I will not be posting stuff on FB anymore. And will try to post more regularly to the site. This is more liberating, since I don’t have to imagine X or Y while writing. It is more like writing into a journal in the old days. When it was just ink on paper, and the journal didn’t interact with you and give you a vague societal acceptance rating of the post. There was no Liking or Sharing, just Writing (and hiding from family and friends, because…well, India).

And finally, thank you, dear reader, for subscribing to my blog. I have never said this, but you are awesome. You, the reader who opens  mail in office, the one who casually visits the site every few days to see if there is a new post. I will be writing for you more often. Fuck Facebook.

Thank you.

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The Slow, Tragic Death of Pet Names

The relation between ‘Good Name’ and ‘Pet Name’ has always fascinated me.

I love the fact that in India, your pet name is not a shorter form of your name, like Bill for William, or Chris for Christopher. Our pet names are living entities by themselves.

Pet names are fairly popular in Orissa, and the names given are fairly common too. Boys are named Pappu, Babuna, Ricky, Kaalia, etc. Girls are called Mamuni, Kunmun, Munmun and Baby.

Giving a child its ‘Good Name’ is a fairly well documented process. There is a complex assortment of beliefs thrown in – Astrology, Numerology, position of the planets, and the mood of the local pujari on that particular day. There is a lot of thought given, a few options are thrown around, and finally, one name is picked. Your Good Name sticks with you for your life, it becomes who you are. It connotes an emotion every time your friends hear the name. Your name becomes you.

And I have a theory that educated Oriya parents of my generation gave their children distinctly long, dramatic names. Shiva Sundar, Debashish, Biswa Kalyan – most Oriya names are long-winding and theatrical. I often joke that it is educated Oriya people’s way of asserting their educated status over the rest of society.

I am no exception. Sai Hrudaya Ranjan is not exactly what you’d call a common name.

 

But how nick-names come to be, has always fascinated me.

Since in Orissa, there are a few commonly used pet names, you have about 10-12 choices, and a pragmatic name is allotted, probably keeping in mind that there’s no other Pappu, Ricky, or Mamuni around. A simple, informal, pragmatic solution.

There is no feeling of historic importance, no histrionics or ceremonies – a pet name sticks to you, a second identity of yours. The one you grow up with outside school, the one your childhood friends call you by.

Some guys have two pet names. One that is given at home, and one that their friends give them. The second pet names are generally not very flattering – Chamba, for example. Some are so bad, they can be interchanged with names of actual pets – Litton, Chepa, Tara, Moti.

I have met a wide vista of pet names in my life. From the ubiquitous ‘Pappu’, to the exotic ‘Lord’, pet names have flashed themselves across my timeline of memories. Chintu, Chimpa, Jhikki, Popuna, Bapuni, Tippul, Babool and Litton.

I have lost my heart to many a Munmun and Kunmun. Sang imaginary songs of love to Chulbul, careful to avoid her sister Bulbul. Written letters to Pinky, Rosy, Reena and Baby.

Pet names generally abided by a simple rule of thumb. They had to be short (maximum 2-3 syllables), easy to remember (Chepa, for example, leaves a distinct imprint), and unique (but not too unique, like Chamba).

Now, this is where I got a real raw deal.

Much of my childhood was determined by this one particular relative. They weren’t really related to us in anyway, but asserted an unbelievable amount of control over what I did. Someone there gave me the most fuckall pet name in the history of fuckall pet names – Puppu.

I remember when my folks would come to visit me at school, and we’d be walking in lines, when all of a sudden, a shrill voice would ring out,

‘Aye, Puuuupppppppppppppppppuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu……………’

A long, intense call that echoed in my ears for about five minutes. I remember being embarrassed by my pet name; I’d look down and walk as quickly as I could.

Folks at school had no idea about the pet name though, as we were referred to by our initials. And admittedly, SHR sounded remarkably more suave and nuanced than Puppu.

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However, I have noticed a strange phenomenon of late.

Oriya people have started adopting strange, anglicised names for their children. I happened to teach at a school in Bhubaneswar for about six months, and the names I came across had no resemblance to the ones I had known.

They were all neutralised, shorn of any MTI – sterile names like Nivaan and Ayaan and Aman and Aabhya.

Of course, I have no right to comment about the names parents choose to give their children. I can’t sit like Bishen Singh Bedi, complain and crib. Naming your child is something you have complete rights over. That’s fine.

But it is the pet names that I am worried about.

Most of these modern names can double up as pet names as well. They are all short and unique, and assume the same importance at home and at school.

I doubt Aabhya, for example, would want to be referred to Bulbul? Nivaan is going to throw his iPhone 6 at your face if you call him Chepa.

In the way that smartphones ate into the market for alarm clocks, these modern names have extinguished the need for short pet names.

I am afraid in a few years, there will be no more Kalias in Bhubaneswar.

There will be no Tippul, with his group of friends on their bikes. No Bapuna hitting on Baby while texting Mamuni.

Pet names, I fear, will die a slow, sad death.

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(Featured Image Courtesy: Pran’s characters Billoo and Pinky, Copyright Diamond Comics India Ltd.)