And he was. He had been flicked off Julius Ceasar's tunic as he was stabbed by the Guardians of Democaracy.
He had been a part of the red tikka on Subhas Chandra Bose's forehead as he signed a document in blood.
He was the first to be hit by a radioactive particles at Nagasaki.
He had been catapulted a million miles into the atmosphere and finally landed on the arms of a lone protester who stopped rolling tanks in China.
He was a significant speck of dust.
But now he was being judged. His crime: Hitching a ride on a space shuttle and trying to escape - leave this gravity well.
You see, specs of dust weren't allowed to leave here. It was in their contract. It didn't stop millions of them from trying each year though.
So he was now being judged. The judge: A large, heavy rock. One of the Establishment. Oh they didn't mind not leaving. They had it good. Comfortable. Once people grow up, they have no idea what's cool anymore.
Our Significant Speck of Dust sighed. He knew the end result. Prison. Sentenced to a life of drowning in an ocean and living on the sea floor. A refugee dust particle forever with no chance of escape. He screamed his lungs out.
I think it's time we got this bit of dust to a psychologist.
That's what we called them. Tinkerers. Loathed by the good bible fearing folks of the town's crowded streets, they hid themselves in Mommy's basement and other dark unnoticed virtual corners.
They aren't Normal. For one, they stay awake after sunset, sometimes All Night. That's how most of them are caught anyway.
Though, they have it fairly easy in this country. East of here, Tinkerers are publicly quartered every weekend. "For Sport". At a time when the biggest religions are publicly traded in stock markets, it ain't wise to anger the Mobs of Belief.
If my father had his way, they'd all be locked up and exposed to small doses of Alpha-radiation. Not enough to kill, just enough to grotesquely mutate - he thought the irony was perfect: they'd finally resemble their damned creations in the end.
"Come pick a religion! I've got plenty to choose from!" cried the hawker on the street corner, “The best deals in eternity! Original Sins and Voodoo dolls, all at half prices!”
Maya and Samir stepped up to examine his wares. “You can get some excellent deals in the black market,” said Maya, “you just need to know how to bargain.”
The lazy flea market settled down in this corner of the city every Wednesday, catering to the religious needs of one and all. The Rich Ones visited the North side of the market. They parked their Jaguars above the street, its gorgeous underbelly sharply visible to the envious crowd below.
Maya took a step back and glanced down the street. A year ago she wouldn’t have dreamt of visiting this – the East side of the market. The Poor Side. No air conditioned “official” vendors like the North, here hawkers and knock-off salesmen reigned supreme.
Samir followed her. He saw salesmen of all sorts - some in brightly coloured attire, others in black sober suits and a cornered minority, stoned and stark naked. They handled different segments of the market ofcourse. He was shocked by the variety and the noise. It was his first visit here after all.
He caught the glint off the golden teeth of a holy preacher. His robe and missing fingers immediately gave away his faith. Sometime in the past, not content with merely disfiguring hidden parts of the human body, some bold faiths had resorted to birth-sacrifices of toes, eyelids and even fingers. These sacrifices were not only for differentiation, but also a cost-effective way of preventing conversion.
Maya circled back to the street corner. A dense but radiant design in the corner seemed interesting. Bright colours and paganism was in vogue again these days.
She pointed. “How much?”
“20% of your income for the next two years."
"Whaat? That's too high!"
Ah, a bargaining tactic thought Samir. Inexperienced in recreational religion as he was, he knew this was a steal! Plus if serviced properly, it would easily be a few years before they bored of it.
They settled at 5%. "Well back to the University", she thought, as she hid her most recent purchase within her. It was illegal on Campus ofcourse.
My regular readers (reader?) will know that I have recently turned a campaigner for Lost 'D's. (Read here first to understand the story thus far)
In my cafeteria, there is one such sign. It reads "Close". Just the other day, I informed the office boy (who deals with such matters) that indeed "Close" is completely incorrect and can lead to infections diseases. I explained at length what my Grade 4 grammar teacher had taught me.
And lo! By lunchtime, the sign had been corrected! It now said "Closed"! Joyously I whistled to myself and did not get bummed that (as always) in my hunger, I had turned up at the cafeteria an hour too early.
But that's not all: With great understanding comes great responsibility! This enthusiastic guy, he actually corrected such signs all over the office! Everywhere I looked, "Closed" signs looked back at me, and I was satisfied that I had helped the world become a better place.
I walked towards the stairwell and passed a door. I paused to read the sign:
"Please closed the door after entering."
Kindergarten grammar lessons flashed in my head. I just walked away from the abomination, took long calming breaths and tried to get a grip on my understanding of the world.
I like wandering the streets in the night. The cool darkness and empty streets induces a certain kind of joy. It's a pleasant break from all the seething crowds and unholy car horns. Unfortunately, there is a phenomenon I increasingly observe that turns my mild joy into a seething rage.
What I refer to is the common practice of shops placing placards on their doors, one side of which reads "Open" and the other reads "Close". Close? CLOSE? I look around, hunting for the lost 'D'. Perhaps it fell down. Perhaps it is just a bit darker than the other letters. But no, sign after sign stubbornly continues to read "Close".
I ask myself if a hundred shopkeepers could be wrong. Am I the mistaken one in all this? In my shaken faith, I turn to what my Grade 4 grammar teacher taught me:
"Is the shop open? No it is not." "Is the shop closed? Yes it is." "
"Is the shop close? Dear Parent, your son is incapable of learning English. Please go burn in Hell."
And this small thorn in my side will continue to prick away at my conscience for hours and hours. "Do something", says Inner EssDee, "Roam around with black markers and 'D' stickers!"
I know, in this increasingly "vher ru" and "omg mai english sux lol im so proud" world of texts and SMS, it's become rather difficult to become a campaigner for lost 'D's. Yet, Inner EssDee refuses this as a rationale for doing nothing.
So, I am left with no resort, but to turn to what a wise 6-year old once prayed for on August 28, 1992: I pray for the strength to change what I can, the inability to accept what I can't and the incapacity to tell the difference.
Thus, I hereby resolve to roam the streets from here on with a general air of haughtiness as I inform offenders of their grievous transgressions.
Inner Me says that I will lead an interesting life.
On the evening news, there is a thin red line drawn neatly across South India, above Kerela and moving onto the Bay of Bengal covering the Andamans. The area south of this line is coloured with a slight grey tone while the rest of the map remains clear.
This line shows the progression of the Indian Monsoon as it slowly inches forward every day. Luckily, every inch on the map is hundred of miles IRL, so it should be here soon.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the monsoons are almost here. A respite from the heat, yada yada. I don't care about that. What really matters is that the trekking season is here.
All I'm saying is that those who would like to come along on a trek anytime this monsoon (in particular the first trek, which will happen on the weekend after the first monsoon rains (most probably mid-June)), let me know (now or later) that you wish to come along. I'll remember to call you.
I've had enough of trying to get people to come along on fun things and then they're like "oh but this...". So screw it. I am going. If you want to come then you're most welcome. Otherwise, GTFO.
That is all, gentle people. That is all. Let the awesomeness begin.
When he was in college, late one night he wandered the mean streets of Thane. He felt the chill cold air and it told him that danger was afoot. Being the hero that he was, he went looking for it.
A few streets down there was a lady, a princess of the night. She wore white, the kind that it is easy to see emotions written on. She was scurrying home from a hard day at work. The evil street Lord, almost invisible in the dark night, flashed his knife and closed upon her as she backed away afraid into a dark alley.
In her fear she turned to her mother language and screamed in Hindi: bachao bachao.
Our hero heard her call and answer'd with a karate-filled rage that would frighten even battle-hardened Spartans. And thus the princess was saved.
Ever since that day, our good friend always answered to the call of "bachao" and in time it was modified to Baccha, thus his name.
A beautiful morning, calm after the storm. Today was a day of sailing and surfboard battles.
We repaired the damage of the previous evening and rigged the sails and boats in the morning.
Kaizad and I decided that to truly be able to use the wind, we must understand how sailboats work. Thus, we hopped into a fast, low sailboat with a very vividly coloured sail, the "Topper".
Riding in the Topper is a charm. It just moves so effortlessly. Seen above is me leaning out to balance the boat against the wind. And it's so vibrant! Look at the reds and oranges and yellows of the sail!
We picked up the surfboards and sailed around a bit, but the main event of the day was... Surfboard Wars!
First we managed to get more than 1 person standing on the same board (Oh and the many times we fell into the water trying!). The next step? Battle! The first one to lose balance and fall into the water loses!
Surfboard Wars was incredible. Add to that the many variations of the fight and I must have fallen into the water atleast a hundred times!
In one battle of me versus Murtuza, we both valiantly refused to lose balance. At times the board was almost flipped, but we somehow kept upright. Eventually we had to revoke the 'non contact' clause and push each other off the board!
The blue sail boat (I think it's called the "Enterprise") looks beautiful. Big sails and a wide steady hull. I must try sailing this one next time.
On Day 3, we did quite a bit of windsurfing as well. By now all three of us had picked up the basics, but had difficulties sailing at angles against the wind.
A small physics discussion with Kaizad about wind and apparent wind led to new fundaes and on Day 4, we managed to sail properly. But here's the cool thing: Most often, a windsurfing board moves faster than the wind! For example, in a 7 knot wind, the surfer often travels at 11 to 12 knots and recollecting our vector mathematics from high school, this changes the apparent direction of the wind! Keeping track of all this and changing the sail direction to catch the wind was Day 4, which you shall read tomorrow. :)
Day 2 of windsurfing. Today we learn to sail. Or atleast that's what the plan was. Nature, it seems, decided otherwise. We didn't learn sailing on Day 2, but it proved to be a more epic day than I've seen in ages.
It started very well. We got the sails going, learnt about how to steer (it involves turning the whole sail and shifting it's position!) and how to stand in a sailing position. It's amazing - turn the sail, force it into the wind and hold on - the wind carries you forward effortlessly!
The winds were really exciting on Day 2. Perfect sailing weather for quite a while. They got out the fancier sailboat and the 29er (a high performance skiff that tends to capsize rather easily!).
The 29er is bloody fast. Seen here overtaking the light blue sailboat whilst going upwind. The little Opti sailboats and the kayaks were all around, having a good time.
And then it hit.
A massive thunderstorm picked up while we were all out at sea.
I was out beyond the bend as the winds were picking up, unable to control the sail or the board. Kaizad and Parry came up in kayaks to rescue me. Kaizad tried for a bit, but could not hold the sail up either. We headed back in our kayaks and Parry took the sail.
Rowing back in waves bigger than most seas in dingy little boats was madness. Every moment we didn't row, the wind and current carried us away from our heading. But we reached shore eventually and by now the wind was really picking up.
Now there was a kid in one of those tiny opti sailboats out in the waves as well. His boat had not only capsized (turned over on the side) but actually overturned (upside down). It was impossible for him to upright it. At the edge of our visibility, a rescue party was launched.
A 2-man kayak headed towards him, battling high waves and impossible winds. We were scurrying around carrying the boats out of water, tying up the sails and what-not. It was hard work with the rain pelting down upon us.
The kayak eventually reached the opti, but the visibility was less than 150m and we had no idea what was happening to them. We launched our own land-rescue effort - carried a bunch of rope and traversed the shoreline towards them.
Eventually we could see the overturned opti sailboat, but there was no sign of the kayak or the 3 people who should have been there. One sailor planned to sail out to the opti whilst carrying rope and then we from the land would pull it in.
But alas, this is when the hail hit us. Yes, real hail. Stones of ice. Ouch, that hurts. And we crouched trying to protect our heads from the hail. Clearly now our rescue would be impossible as we sought shelter near a wall.
All the while we could (just about) see the sailboat, but no people, wondering where they were. Eventually we braved the hail and ran back to camp.
And there we waited for the storm to pass.
Eventually (hours later actually), all the boats and people were rescued. The kid in the opti really played it well. He didn't freak out, just held on to the boat for his life. One windsurfing board had been lost, but everyone was alive and kicking. In retrospect, the storm was an amazing experience. It really showed us how vulnerable we are to the winds and the surf.
Our first first-hand experience at disaster rescue. Sigh. I want to go back to Khadakvasla now.
Abhiroop, Kaizad and I went windsurfing last week. It was a 4-day sailing camp at Kharagvasla Lake and we had an absolutely incredible time.
Our first look at the lake. Breathtakingly beautiful, calm with a little breeze. Colourful toppers and white sailboats and green shade. We just handed out high fives 'cuz this was going to be awesome!
We soon jumped into the lake with our surfboards. Within 10 seconds of trying to climb on the board, everyone had fallen off! WIPEOUT! Here are some epic Wipeouts: Board-balancing is one tough step. It takes a lot of quick reflexes and fear of falling into water to succeed. But wiping out is fun too.
Here is me doing some surfboard acrobatics:
By the evening, we had gotten the hang of balancing on them boards. Drenched but still alive, it was time to learn to lift the sail out of the water:
That sail is huge, and even though it's quite light once it's in the air, lifting it is quite difficult with all that water on it. Lifting it whilst ensuring that you don't fall off is... well it takes a few tries.
We felt quite like trapeze artists, balancing on surfboards while juggling sails etcetra. Our arms also felt quite dead from all the kayaking and paddling. For you see, since we cannot sail yet, we tend to drift along the water. The only way to get back is to tow the damn thing back. Ever tried rowing? It's a lot of effort. Now think of that with a a giant sail dragging in the water!
Here's our coach-person, Parry, showing us how it's done. Effortless for him. Parry is a really nice guy and was always looking out for us. He also hangs his mobilephone around his neck while surfing. Pure badass.
Oh, and look: Cute little sailboats! (called "Optees")
And now we head to Pune to meet Krishna, party and watch a movie ("Hot Tub Time Machine"). Unfortunately we only managed to get dinner and fall asleep. Ah how tired we were. Ah how happy we were.
In the future (~100 years or so), humans will derive a major chunk of their daily energy requirements from direct photosynthesis. We will have injected such genes into our DNA to make our skin create sugars instead on Vitamin D on exposure to sunlight. It just seems like the way to go.
Mom will still crib that I don't 'eat' enough though.
This is a story about Chaos 2006. Yes, really it is. Just a few days before Rylan fell into a ditch. Quite funny, so read on...
We were all chillin' n relaxin' at IIMA Chaos 2006. We'd already done Western Band, Rangoli, Wall Painting, JAM and a couple of others when we decided that we were clearly not participating in enough competitions. Looking down the list, we saw a certain fixture titled "Story Building, Team of 4".
We thought that it would be some kind of a creative writing competition and so we gathered up 4 troopers – Avinav, KP, Sumitken and me – we decided to enter this. We hunted for and found pens to write with and went up to CR3.
As we entered and sat, it dawned upon us that this was not indeed a creative writing competition. It was an impromptu speaking competition! Even as we struggled to shut our mouths at the realization, we were called up to speak extempore.
It went like this: They would read us a starting line; we would have to start speaking right away and complete the story, each person speaking for 30 seconds. At the end of 30 seconds, they would sound a clap and the next person would have to take over instantly.
Our starting line was: "A Crow Had Two Socks". And thus the story started with me speaking:
A Crow Had Two Socks, but he didn't know what to do with it. So, with his friend "Tripod", he went to the Himalayas to speak to the Wise Baba Moksha. Baba Mosksha uttered only a few syllables in Hindi: "Ka Mera, Ka Tera; (dramatically) Ka Mera, Ka Tera."
And suddenly Tripod had found his meaning in life: He had found Camera (pronounced Ka Mera)! Camera said her life was too unstable without Tripod and Tripod said he was nothing without Camera.
*clap* (Sumitken takes over)
The soon got married and decided to go on a long honeymoon. But alas! On the honeymoon, Camera was caught filming sex tapes!!! She commits suicide out of embarrassment and Tripod was left broken hearted. HE SOUGHT REVENGE ON THE WORLD for his misfortune.
To this end, he formed a boy band with his brothers: The three brothers Tripod, Dipod and iPod formed this boy band.
*clap* (Avinav's turn to speak)
They sang songs and became rich and famous and girls swooned over them, but that was never their plan because *all* boy bands are gay. He had failed at his revenge, so he quit the boy band...
He quit the boy band and consulted his father Apple. The wise old Apple scratched his Adam's apple and said, "de gur gur de nat de phat de gur de bhat."
*clap* (Now KP come forth)
Tripod did not understand. "de gur gur de nat de phat de gur de bhat."
Finally he understood. He went into the forest and found a deer and he caught it's tail and twisted it. Thus, there was a twist in the tale and Camera came back to life and they lived happily ever after!
THE END to applause!
Phew!.. Yeah that was the story we cooked up for Round 1. Someday I might pen down the later rounds as well, which were equally random.
I was chatting with Rylan. It went something like this:
R: What's up? S: I'm meeting gentle KP for dinner. R: Gentle is he? S: Yes, ever since he fell off that cliff, anything but the touch of finest silk causes him to groan in agony. R: Gladly it seems someone has finally topped my ditch-falling. Is ol' Hurr-Durr in town? S: No, he's in Pune. R: You think he'd mind if we popped in at 3 AM for chai? S: I'm sure he would, but I fail to see how that's a factor...
At 12:30 AM, we (Baccha, Rylan and I (Gentle KP had been invited too, but he is a boring twat now)) left Mumbai for Pune. Our mission: To knock on Krishna's hotel room and yell "Surprise!". It was sure to fry his brain.
Along with us was a wondrous choice of music – 2 CDs of Dire Straits, 1 of Santana and a CD of 40 shady pop songs from the 90's. The choice was unanimous and powered of such class acts as Hanson, All Saints and Five, we powered onwards, stopping only once at 2 AM for paanipuri at the roadside (FTW?! I know!).
One beautiful drive later, we arrived at the fair, albeit deserted, city of Pune. We knew not where to go and after driving around blindly for a while, spotted an individual on the roadside. As we skid to a stop near him, trying to ask him directions, he ordered us straight ahead. It occurred to us that he was highly interested in us leaving without delay. It also occurred to us that we had interrupted the man... uhm... midstream, so to speak. Ah, such are the things that happen on road trips.
So, straight we drove. We realized that in Pune, any two points can be reached by driving exactly straight. Atleast the directions given to us seemed to indicate so.
Once again, quite close to our destination, we knew not how to proceed. There was a hotel nearby called Brookside. Rylan and Baccha went up to the reception to ask for directions. Switching to Rylan's first person account: "It was deserted. There was this guy in the corner, fast asleep with his mouth open and drooling, his pants unbuttoned and his hands inside. Now how does one wake up such a man to ask for directions? Poking him and asking him for the next hotel somehow seemed wrong. We went back to the reception and clapped loudly whilst simultaneously turning away as if we had no idea of the source of said sound. The guya woke and took a minute to tuck himself back together before giving us instructions while sporting a massive look of disapproval. It is possible that we interrupted him in the midst of a very good dream."
3:30 AM. Finally we arrived at Krishna's hotel. Story: It's his birthday and we need to surprise him, so reception should not ring his room. Backup plan: If they insist on ringing, then we'd say to tell him that Sir Bulla-bhai had come to meet him :D
Reception did not indeed call his room and we stood outside ringing his bell in sets of 5 beats. There was no response from within and we heard the TV on, the inhabitant had fallen asleep whilst watching IPL apparently. Clearly we had reached our destination correctly.
About 100 rings later, finally Lord Ludi awoke and opened the door. "SURPRISE!". And oh man, the expression on his face was priceless. It was a mixture of disbelief, astonishment, round-eyed "WTF?" and speechlessness. We should have carried a camera.
So to answer the question in the title, we went on an impromptu midnight road trip and turned up at Krishna's hotel at 3:30 AM, thus successfully frying his brain and having a hell good time driving on the expressway. That is all. :)
Live IPL matches are amazing fun. We were 4 rows from the pitch and I danced and shouted all night long. Here is me (carrying sign). MI lost in the end, but by then I had switched loyalties :D ... also RC had better cheerleaders.
I am the great, one and only, totally magnificent marvelous all round good guy. Yes, I am Sir Kunal.
The other day, I was at an office outing and rather enjoying myself, which is quite a feat. An air of tediousness is often found hanging about office outings, mainly a result of minions completely confused in the informal, yet officey environment.
But I ofcourse, had no such problems. I said what I thought and held back no words coated with uncertain sugar. I could freely speak my mind, for I am brave and unconcerned with appearances and also I had recently quit (the very same office job).
To prove my point, I walked up to one of the many vassals and called him a reproductive organ. Why? Because I could. Because that is who I am. Sir Kunal.
But the inevitable mundane conversation grew tiresome. Off I went exploring the hills and soon came to a group of giggling women at the bottom of a small, albeit vertical, cliff.
Women exist to be impressed by my awesome skillz. Thus, in a bid to perform said impressing, I challenged them to climb the cliff. This was all a part of my secret plan to get them to dare ME to climb the cliff. While wearing floaters. And slightly inebriated.
My secret plan succeeded.
"Poof," I said, with a touch of "I could do that with one hand tied behind my back". I accepted their challenge knowing that once I succeeded, they shall swoon all over me.
I took a few seconds to utter an wicked laugh to myself and wring my hands in an evil manner. Muahahahahahaha. Then to the climb.
And so I climbed. Up and up I went and before I knew it, I was 40 feet in the air. I could feel the aura of swooning-ness emanating from them chicks below. I could feel the earth and rocks in my face as I slowly turned to face the world from my awesome vantage spot. This is EPIC, I thought.
Yes, finally! I shall be king of all I survey! Off with their heads!
Alas! But unfortunately I underestimated my rivals. No doubt utterly jealous of my success, one of my competitors had hurled rocks at me from above in an effort to undermine my efforts. And the worst part is that he did triumph.
And down I fell to the ground, scraping and screaming all the way. "Crunch" was the sound I remember. Ouch. By a miracle, I had avoided becoming the Late Great Sir Kunal, but only by a miracle. Foiled by some confounded minions. How embarrassing.
The world then proceeded to go black as I was cooking up a rescue story (in which I was the hero) to tell the world, lest they accuse me of being an inept climber.
Okay, I finally admit it. I'm addicted to the Internet. I'm sitting here in a not-completely-uninteresting class writing this blog, which totally and completely (redundancy required) proves my point.
Luckily, just this week, internet and video game addiction was downgraded by the psychiatric-powers-that-be (in the US) from a nicotine-type addiction to a more benign "case of lack of self-control" (like gambling).
Redditing , YouTubeing (Yes, there is an "ei" in there) and social networking (even though I don't use Facebook!) is really taking up too much of my time and in the war of the real world vs. the anonymous one, there's too much of a rush in learning about new, fascinating, amazing (though sometimes disturbing) stuff about the world.
Till about a month back, it was quite under control and I actually did work a *lot* through December and January. But now that workload's trailed off, I've transitioned from "sit in front of comp 18 hours working" to "ditto-but not working".
So, I've decided to quit, almost-cold turkey. I begin this new week with an aim to get online time under control again. Thus, all online activities, including watching videos of any kind, shall be permissible only betweek 2 AM and 6 AM.
Basically, my love for sleep and my internet addiction can fight it out and in the end, I'll have time for everything in the real world, thus making me the winnah! :D
I just spoke to His Majesty, the Lord Ludi Krishna Ramkumar to found out how KP is doing. Oh wait! Do you know what happened to KP? OMG you don't know? He fell off a cliff! Really!
I ain't joking he really did fall off a cliff! I mean... who does that?? So no he is all battered and bruised and lying in bed. Apparently he can hobble now, oh it won't be soon before he can actually walk. I'm sure he's secretly enjoying all the attention that has been bestowed upon him.
But anyhow I digress. I had called Krishna. Now Krishna has this astounding ability (bordering super-power) of never being where I think he his. Drawing on my vast repertoire of previous observations, my consideration set for his whereabouts included such locations as Pune, Bombay, Germany (you may think this does not happen often, but it is so) and Manipal.
He was at none of these locations. He was instead at Nagpur. Watching a cricket TEST match no less! I mean... who does that??
Anyhow, the point I was trying to make is essentially this: I hope that in the near future I have enough money and time to randomly hop off on trips whenever I fancy (which will probably turn out to be every weekend).
One of the great side effects of this is ofcourse that when people call me, I can say stuff like "Oh yeah, I'm in Leh. How's life?"