Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nothing much to say

Well, hello my dear subscribers!
Nothing much to say. My funny bone, what little of it was there, once upon a time, is well and truly gone. I now talk and write in mono syllabic words and now, most people are able to make out the subject and predicates in my sentences.
The world is well and truly coming to an end. Hopefully, if I survive the upcoming ordeal, I hope to be back doing some much needed bloggin' after October.
And the reason why I came over to write this utterly useless post? Hmm, only to share this

Well, I hope you are doing well. All you ... thirty seven dear followers. :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bhartiya Rail ki AC Bogie

I am no more prone to suffering from persecutory delusions than the next man but I think I have chalked up enough terrible experiences in my dealings with the Indian Railways to merit a deeper investigation as to whether somebody up there sits smiling maliciously from behind his steepled fingers, while devising increasingly arcane schemes to make all of my train journeys a living hell. But since the lady at the Grievance Redressal counter was far too busy discussing the trials and tribulations of one of those indistinguishable good bahus,  no doubt inflicted by a suitably invidious in-law with the appropriate background music and dizzying camera zoom-ins to boot - I decided to turn to my own vast cornucopia of experiences with the Indian Railways not unlike the buffet list of tortures a decent self respecting vamp would cook up outside of Geneva Convention guidelines.
To the non believers among the readers, who deny the existence of said grievance redressal mechanism, to them I say - You say you've never seen one! Goodness! My dear chap, you just take the rickety stairs up to the East wing and right behind the 'under renovation' sign, you will find a panel, speak the secret password , travel through the alligator  infested waters of the secret tunnel and should you survive the resident zombie rat population, you'll find yourself there. Pick form 6B- tough luck if they are out of copies, make copies in triplicate, and submit your grievance form along with two recent color passport size photographs- ears sticking out, of course- and attested copies of your testicles' X-ray, in triplicate.

Mind you, this is not going to be a tirade against the dubious field placements of F20-F30s on the reservation charts. That epic saga must unfold. It is not simply the matter of me being allowed to exist only in that unique polygonal space that disallows any direct exchange of pleasantries and/or spiked drinks or a direct line of sight for  any and all personable females who might share the same decade of birth. If the matter stopped there, you wouldn't find me delivering curses , starboard centre and port. After all, I have gone through entire years staring wistfully at the lovely lady on the adjoining balcony without so much as a nod or a 'What Ho!". surely this lack of F's in the immediate vicinity for a mere 24 hour journey is matter of no great consternation for a bumbling nincompoop like Yours Truly. But it's when my feelers detect malicious intent, borne out by the rampaging herd of ageing mastodons  flock in my compartment as if I were handing out free denture sets.Of course, the mini planetary system, replete with tiny , insolent hovering satellites has dibs on the window seat and the lower berths and capable young men like myself ought to pay for them gorging on fried junk, by settling for the top bunk or worse yet, that apallingly horrendous construct, the 9th Tier, deserving neither head space nor leg space, just hanging in there in No Man's Land. Initially, I thought "Isme jaroor videshi takaton ya phir mao-vaadi sangathanon ka haath hoga", the foreign hand that wished to get me to use their airlines the next time, or the leftist revolutionaries who declared class warfare from their unreserved seats in the General Compartment. But this conspiracy theory was soon discredited - my flights and my sleeper compartment journeys have been no better.

But this is not going to be THAT tirade. This is going to be about the nasty little satellites that meteor-strike away any peace and quiet train journeys are famed to provide.

To be continued.....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Krikkit and My Teeth

Alright. I am 22 now. Age entitles me , if nothing else, to some rudimentary respect on the cricketing field. So , when kids half my age, and I do not mean "half" as a hyperbole or a linguistically convenient approximation for unwieldy fractions, when kids half my age appoint me as the match referee or puny captains who still like lollipops, smoke faux sweet cigarettes and play WWE cards in the back of the school bus( smash- double-smash) pick me last from the available portfolio and that too with great reluctance writ large on their chubby faces, my readers will agree that my rage is entirely just and if the selfsame reader happens to come across a leader in the Patna city supplement page 3 reporting the retirement of Yours truly from all forms of of the game - gully, rooftop and apartment foyers(I know, Page 3 in Patna would publish _anything_ , and I do mean anything), such a career decision would not cause much surprise or consternation, notwithstanding the deplorable sight of such an immense cricketing potential going waste, and all due to the neglect and apathy meted out by the cruel and dastardly cabal of U-15s.

I had never had it easy, right since childhood. Dentists said, I had an inherent internal structural imbalance in my dental  substructure that would never allow me to wield a willow well, but my parents never allowed the deformity to curtail my aspirations or set limits to what I could or could not do. So there I was, trying to put mandible over mandible, canines over canines even as I faced the local ground toughies bowling sharp swingin' 'uns into my delicate parts; often succeeding in jeopardizing gazillions of Mini Me's one million at a time. I chugged in ,a menacing 200 pounds of hulking aerodynamic projectile, my all-awry whites(or browns, if you caught me in a no-brush-January)clenched tightly as every boundary across the ropes felt like a kick in my ample gut. On one of those morose foggy winter days, I even had a couple of my front teeth knocked out by a wayward ball that chose to rise to the heavens in a motion of supreme irony and chose to descend at exactly the wrong time in exactly the wrong place , as  if to laugh and make fun of my haphazard tusks that made me so helpless in the one game that was the only one way ticket to High School cool. And no, dear reader, I did not somehow catch the ball on the rebound ,much to the surprise and incredulity of the entire audience in a crackling last-ball nailbiter of a tournament grand finale. I was too busy foraging for my pearly whites.
So, there I was, the eternal loner, rolling around on the playground, like a big ball of tumbleweed, kicked around by captains that audibly groaned when they realized someone simply _had_ to pick me once I got myself into the roster. The usual rules of the rough, tumble and grime did not apply- I went in to bat last, as a sort of a glorious finish to an innings, combusting almost instantly and I can count the days I was allowed to bowl, mostly because the quorum was not complete or the strike bowlers, the first change, the part timers all had exams. I fielded in the most arcane of positions too, sometimes, my captain used to posit me in an out-of-line-of-sight position from the batsman on the off chance of Bernoulli's theorem breaking relativistic limits and to account for superhyperbolic spinning curvettes of balls that got trapped in my not insubstantial gravitational field. Other days, I usually umpired, for I was known far and wide to be just and fair,as can be judged by the fact that only games officiated by me had LBWs as an official method of dismissal. Sure, the bowlers had to take a curved path into his run-up to prevent substantial space time perturbations in his deliveries but with time and practice they soon corrected for this anomaly as well.
Maybe, I was a fool to think ,things will change with time. Maybe as I grew up, kids smaller than me will respect me for my experience and wisdom and yield to me on matters of team selection, batting order, bowling strategies as well as team names, anthems and mascots. The Root canal I had last summer was supposed to be my coming of age ceremony of sorts - finally all the demons that stopped me from achieving greatness on the concrete rooftops of the city would be gone and I would rise from the ashes, a veritable phoenix, ready to hit grounded shots that not only raced away to the boundary(walls) but also ricocheted off awkwardly placed water tanks and drying clothesline so as to deny my opponents 'you-are-out-because-the-ball-felldown-now-go-down-four-flights-of-stairs-and-get-it-back-from-the-adjoining-house-yes-yes-theone-with-rabid-dobermans'.
But it didn't help. Not one bit.
So here I am, officiating matches or playing in ones with rules like OneTipOneHandOut( self explanatory), BoundaryIfItHitsTheWheatPatchDryingInTheSun and YouBowlWithAPlasticBallToThoseLessThanThreeFootTall. Only this time, the kids don't order me around telling me to bat lower down the order or not allowing me to bowl. Nowadays ,they just suggest and leave the rest to my good sense. History continues unchanged.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I can't write. Not today.

I remember days, with a certain longing too, when I could sit and turn out half a dozen foolscap papers while the professor droned on about the intricate workings of the OS, a fact that partially explains the dismal grades in my systems courses, more than was usual for me in departmental courses. Days when I could thanklessly turn out a dozen poems , waxing eloquent on female(and in one slightly disturbing case, male) beauty, destined to do their bit in an equal number of happily-ever-afters across the length and breadth of the campus. So , you will understand that it is with a non too insignificant trepidation of what the future holds as far as the career in wordsmithy is concerned , do I inform you of my new found incapacity to forge a link between 'anon' and 'betwixt' . I dearly hope that it is merely a temporary one and that I shall find my feet of clay some fine morning- in a day, in a month , a year, I haven't a clue but strive to find them, I will- and when I do, it shall be a return with a vengeance rarely seen in amateur writing circles. But for today, let me rest for the mind is not calm and the hands quiver at the sight of my feathered quills, hanging morosely, parched of a spot of ink on its reedy spine.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A bad hair day, a bad hair do

I had a hair cut

It was A chilly Friday afternoon, I was getting bored
And as I assiduously underlined, a cup of coffee i poured
and i thought life as i knew it ,has become a bit too dull
let's sneak up a trick on it, break this interminable lull

so i decided to give myself a hair cut
and save myself a barbershop trip
and armed with the requisite weapons
i let them loose, snip snip snip

The trimmer it seemed, has a mind of its own
i tried hard to quell the revolt
but it snipped and snapped with gay abandon
like an imperious, nasty colt

Well the long and short of it was that
i was left standing among the debris
as my tresses lay strewn on the ground
scythed down, like my fashion hubris

I tried in vain to gain lost grounds
but the act, i found was fait accompli
and without further ado, my hubris gone
i beckoned for my texan hat, promptly

and so i stand, with a thatch of hair
that looks more like a roadkill
there couldnt be phrase more apt for it
than 'a shock of hair' on the rotund hill


Sunday, October 31, 2010

The English Prude-nt

My sister and I had an interesting argument last night. As most discussions that take place at 3 am in the night go, this one didn't particularly distinguish itself as far as the subtlety of arguments, the inanity of the topic or the intensity of a verbal offensive is concerned. In fact, it occasionally veered dangerously close to the sort of points Demosthenes might make during his speech-making in one of his decadent orgies or towards questionable logical connectives, the sort that sound perfectly sensible provided you have had gaseous extracts from Cannabis sativa or a pint or two of Scotland's best, swirling around your insides for the better part of the last hour. Of course , it all ended like the best arguments do, with a pixel-lated, PG rated display (though completely amiable) of the middle finger from one party to another and there the matter rested.
Until now, that is.
The million bushels-of-Farmville-wheat question that reared its ugly head, after a long time if I might add, was whether, I, Divyanshu Jha, am an English snob. At this point, and at the risk of validating the utterly unsubstantiated allegation, but merely to set the record straight for the benefit of the jury that shall be sitting in judgment and make sure that a spade is referred to as nothing else but with its rightful name, I will now add some authoritative definitions , relevant to the case at hand.
a person who imitates, cultivates, or slavishly admires social superiors and is condescending or overbearing to others.
a person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field.

There are a few things I will admit to, right away.
English is a wonderful language. And before the VHP and Bajrang Dal and Bal Tuckerey and his ilk of nephews, sons, grandsons, second cousin twice removed , those fascinating guardians of the glorious Indian culture get their adorably airy knickers into an ununravellable knot or burn my effigy down (with a smattering of rubber tyres, a whiff of hay and that ubiquitous scrawl on the scrawny neck of the scarecrow), citing "causing affront to delicate sensibilities of x crores of Hindus" - to them I say, "Don't you have another Rath yatra to mount to IIT Roorkee, bring down a disputed youth fest?"

With that truck of rabble rousers taken care of, let me explain what I mean.

For Macaulay or for worse, my first hand experience with works of English Literature has been far more diverse than with works in my mother tongues of Hindi or Maithili. And , that , sadly is more a reflection of the sparseness of experience of the latter rather than any erudition in the former. Outside of the awesome hasyaras (the names of its major exponents kind of set the stage for what comes next -------------) and veerras traditions(damn, there is so much 'kranti' bubbling inside after a well recited Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' , I feel like Sunny Deol kicking Pakistani asses on the sarhad) in hindi poetry, which I believe, yield to none in their awesomeness and deft little short stories I was lucky enough to be compelled to read at the risk of running afoul of my ghastly Hindi teacher, I have been remarkably untouched by pieces of hindi literature. If you discount(not that there's any reason you should) the sterling collection of comics (SCD, Nagraj, Doga, Bhokaal, Bankelaal, Gamraj, Parmanu... )compiled meticulously over the years on avidly awaited monthly trips to what we had christened the Super Commando Gali, there was little to speak of by way of refined highbrow stuff that delves into the intricacies of the human psyche.

And once the initial conditions are set, it takes quite a bit of effort to diversify. So, while I still enjoy the occasional short story in Hindi, any leisure time would find me comfortably ensconced with P G Wodehouse rather than Phanishwar Nath Renu , despite the close parochial ties. If however, somebody has a good suggestion in the department and is willing to gift me one.... then thats another matter. And I do have plans. Not just yet, but I do have them.

As to what I like about Queen's English , would take space and time that neither the readers nor I have, so let me rant for a bit on which of its myriad forms incurs my displeasure and if not outright scorn, then at least biases me pre-emptively against the perpetrator of the ghastliness.

- meh, mah, moh, frnzz and other such similar silliness. Contracting a word for convenience into an understandable entity(even if it is missing its vowels) makes sense and allowances can be made. But, misspellings that factor in a couple of additional alphabets that clearly would be better off , finding a dignified place in an appropriate word. I sense an underlying need to be 'kewl' and that does jar my senses a bit. I mean, its not like we are playing scrabble and you have zz's and mm's to spare, so hey! why not hike up the scores a bit with some self assembled words. If I needed that, I would read Finnegan's Wake, not be party to a correspondence with you
An associated malady that is oft seen, more often where females are concerned than with the other half of the demography, is the extended word endings. Maybe, it signifies your exuberance but it sure does screech like a nice sharp set of talons recreating the Ninth symphony on a blackboard. So, please, before you end it like thissssss(see how bad this sounds, And on top of it,it reminds you of Mallika Sherawat. Eurrgh!) take a step back, ponder, sense the word's elongated tale form on your lips and realise how very silly it sounds, looks and feels.

- That you like Chetan Bhagat, is none of my concern. So do millions of other people and I wish them all well and will continue to follow their exploits with some interest. I only ask you not to bandy his name like he is the Charles Dickens of our times. Maybe in the future, in more enlightened times, when we have IITs in every town ,zillions of IIT JEE training institutes that pepper the serene landscapes that recruit fresh out of college IITians to train wannabe IITians to get into the aforementioned IITs, in a land where IITians are dime a dozen, still topping India Today Surveys and maintaining their rockstar image, where top rankers are like rajnikanths and chuck norris combined into one, where FIITJEE has started IITJEE training programs from Kindergarten(hey, that day isn't too far. I give it a decade, 2 at maximum), maybe in such a world , you might be forgiven to adore Chetan bhagat and discuss its deeper meanings , revel in its beautiful imagery, the portrayal of the complex interplay of human emotions, the delicate art of his storytelling , its poignant use of vocalbulary that never fails to please, but please, I beg you, do not be so presumptuous as to presume that he is the best writer ever to write on topics that resonate with the innermost emotions of the common denominator of the human race. Liking him only makes me hopeful that you will graduate to better things, that you are primed for reading something else. Worshiping him does not lower you in my eyes, it merely implies there wont be any common ground for us to talk about.

- I DO NOT like people who hate P G Wodehouse. You haven't read him , fine. Not your fault. You found him bleh. Alright. Maybe you like Dostoevsky. Takes all sorts. But you go to the extent of maligning his style and ask for a bloody plot... Go to hell! Snob? Sure. Now shoo.

There are going to be a lot of irate people sriting a strongly worded letter to the Times or in this case, to the blog administrator, which sadly for their pro-free-speech bleedin hearts , is me. But this is restricted almost completely to people whom I haven't had the honor to have an extended conversation with. So, take a chill pill and do not drag me to court on this, dawg!

P.S. It needs a few more points to make the disclaimer iron clad but since I need to sleep now, I will let the glaring inconsistencies to be to allow people of all shapes and sizes take potshots at me and my snobbishness. And snobs of course, will malign me for not liking Joyce and Woolfe and other some such atrocity. I guess I had it coming. Ah well. Happy Diwali to everyone.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hand to Feet existence

Amidst all the recent brouhaha about Obama's secretly being a Opus dei priest, Paris Hilton's newfound fondness for chihuahua meat and the never-ending breaking-news of Kallu Kalmadi's Next Big Scandal, I, in a rare moment of lucidity and clarity of thought brought out by these gut wrenching human element stories, was reminded of why I has started this blog in the first place: To write about things that actually affected and touched the lives of normal people , like you(If you are a regular, dont worry, I dont mean you, of course. You are about as normal as a ray at grazing incidence) and me(heh, that is just to complete the phrase). Stories and philosophical thoughts that people would relate to, that serve a purpose in society: of bringing to attention some existing malaise, some crooked institution and put a spotlight on it, start a debate, mobilize public opinion. And thanks to that epiphany, I would like to write about that most antiquated and, for the Z-next generation(I dont know which is the current one. I think I was the Y-generation, my dad was Generation X--), the most bizarre of all familial practices: 'paer chchoona'.

One of the major hurdles in getting this blog out was to find the english transliteration of this activity. Somehow, a translation("touching the leg/legs") reminds one more of Gangly-Long-Legs Deepika Padukone than a wizened old man with fake dentures; and the essence, as you would expect, is thus lost. Transliteration, too , wasn't perfect in the end and the imperative form "XYZ ke paer choo+o (the "choo" rhymes with glue and the "o" bringing up the rear is as the singleton letter) is tougher still to communicate via english text. But with the audience and I on the same page, and the imagery of the act intact (except for the ones with a leg fetish) let us proceed.

The act of paer chchoona is as old as the act of sucking up, which, as has been proven by recent archaeological findings of primate fossils, is very old indeed. As for its prevalence, it again mirrors the other quite well, which , needless to say, is omnipresent. In all its avatars and forms, this could go on endlessly, and so for the sake of brevity(one of my strengths) I will restrict my tirade as to how it affects the 15-25 segment of the demography.
For young, impressionable, mild mannered Calvin... sorry, yours truly, surrounded by a characteristically prolific maternal and paternal sides, bursting at the seams with uncles, aunts, grandmother's foofaas, pseudo nanajees, uncle in laws, aunts outside the law and even distant cousins, uncles and foofeejees, all residing in a 5 mile radius in one of civilizational backwaters, it didn't take long for the rite of Paer chchoona to invade my subconcious and cuddle up cosily in one corner , directing behavior for many a year before an internal audit found it out. Long summer vacations were invariably inaugurated by a grand assembly of all known and unknown relations , arranged in rank and file according to seniority, double their number of feet minus 1(one Old Timer had lost his in the Great War of 1857, or so he claimed; and counting the wrinkles on his pug like face, he must have been quite old even back then) laid out in rows upon rows of Paragon wearing appendages, all set to be touched, hands at the ready to either brush kindly on the top of the head or in a classic Cheek Pincher stance, to catch the blessing seeker unawares in a pinch to the death . A favorite of betelnut chewing aunts with equally abhorrent talons to boot, this act of human rights violation involved letting the blessing seeker feel the perfunctory brush against the frontal lobe and just as the quarry thought that the proceedings were over and that he could move on to the next set, the hands swooped down and rendering all evasive tactics futile, pinched young cheeks like Mr Gill having a go at female bottoms. I would like to bring to the attention of the discerning public that the Paer chchoona thingy is a crucial component of the attack, for we are caught in a vulnerable pose which makes evasive action impossible to effect and I strongly suspect that there is a strategic thought process behind this seemingly innocuous coincidence.
Relatively infrequent visits by relatives are met by flurries of bending over forwards; in case of sibling infested households, and small visiting contingents, the whole thing needs to be rehearsed carefully and streaming of participants should be smooth and the ceremony conducted in large open spaces , otherwise resulting in demand supply inequilibrium. This, in turn, leads to a major fracas, in milder form restricted to bumped elbows, in more serious form, head concussions, memory loss and death. And for what?All in the name of touching legs.
If home visits are mere skirmishes, marriages and other massive social get-togethers have to be the analogous World Wars. In such cases, it is futile, especially for the youngest bracket to think and ponder whether the man/woman in front is a relative worthy of a genuflection or a mere "namaste" would suffice. He would be well advised not to think but fall at the mere sight of ugly toes sticking out. Waiting for signals from an already overloaded(and possibly outdated) facial recognition system in his brain or facial twitches from a kindly mom or dad, inevitably lead to a major social faux pas, involving an outraged Toothless , letting out profanities on the "ku-sanskaari" younger generation and in some instances, pointing fingers at lax parental regulations for instilling values and bemoaning the going out of fashion of corporal punishment. Nothing good ever came out of skipping a valid pair of feet at such meetings. But more on the consequences later.
Marriage ceremonies are happy hunting ground for disgruntled old timers, a yearly convention if you will, to train the wayward youth in old values, cultural ethos and what-nots. Be forewarned, for they look at such small slip ups and instead of a long protracted investigation about whether you remember the 12 names of Durgavataars(or is it 13? Almost time for the yearly revision to commence :D ) it would be best to set your homing beacons sensitivity levels to "So Low as to be non existent" and fall down dandvat at every opportunity that presents itself to you.
A major problem with "paer chchoona" and its affiliated activities is to authenticate a candidate. If the predicate for authentication is "blood relation", how far a blood relation, does foofa's chachi's neice's granddaughter's sister in law work? The lack of a central database is disconcerting in itself. If you follow seniority of rank rather than of age, would you touch the feet of your so-called mausi who is barely a year old? If you include friendly acquaintances, how would you respond to a girl who you think is quite hot, falling down prostrate asking for your blessings as an elder brother and ask how to prepare for JEE? Quite a dampener, wouldn't you say?. And then there is the quintessential question of the twilight region of age: with people of plus minus 5 years of age, you are never really sure whether you do a shoulder bump, a nod of acknowledgement or a paer chchoona maneuver, especially in front of those with whom you have a yawning generational chasm. The ambiguity in the whole thing is frustrating and the margin for error , a wrong on-the-spot decision, is quite small.
Then there are the local variants of the practice. While the practice is dying out slowly in a few isolated pockets, the MTV generation has done well in working out a compromise, moving away from the conventional, two handed, multi fingered touch to a I-am-too-cool-to-do-that--single-finger,-tickle-the-knee action. With the body bent away from the subject and feet firmly planted on the ground, the pose gives enough space for a speedy exits in case of the aforementioned Cheek Pinch attack. The more subservient among us have to do with the dandvat pranaam, that village elders hailing from the time of the battle of Plassey insist upon, anything less being considered a sacrilege. Most ,however, are quite content with the two-fingered approach.

All and all, a breathtakingly diverse and truly enervating experience for an inexperienced person who has wandered into ancient territory. A bit more of clarification in rules governing the maneuver and a bit of leeway in terms of errors of omission and commission would go a long way in getting the MTV generation to go the whole 9 yards, or in this case, go down on you.