Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Aroma of Relativity and Nostalgia

It is funny how memory associations work. Doing thing A makes you think of something else (thing B) that is at a superficial level unconnected. The un-connected'ness varies with the time of the day the thought crosses your mind. 2:00 AM on a saturday night is a bad time to be doing anything, least of all think of Paneer Soda (sweet carbonated water). A month before, when in Sholingar, I drank Paneer Soda (goli soda) after a really long time. There is something unique about the soda and it's bottle. It had been years since I had drank goli soda directly from that bottle. Although most shops have this bottle, you don't get to drink it raw. They usually mangle the contents with lime and give you some goop that's significantly inferior in taste. Paneer soda has that exquisite taste and simplicity that is rarely found in any other bottled drink. I had never mastered the art of drinking from that bottle. For newbies, goli soda is a bottle that has a goli (a small ball) as a lid. You push the goli inside to open the bottle. The goli stays on the throat of the bottle without really dropping inside. One has to constantly adjust the bottle between gulps, because the goli in the middle obstructed the flow of soda.
Last month, the shopkeeper took one look at me and taught me to hold the bottle in such a way that didn't have the goli constantly interrupting. I am a Paneer soda veteran and didn't know this technique existed. Paneer soda brings back memories. Memories of a time when there were no Pepsi and Coke cans. A time when my grandma took me to Ranganathan street and treated her grandson for a Rs 2.50 paise (it was a percentage of her monthly allowance) Gold Spot. The Zing Thing really. Once Gold Spot is into my consciousness, I feel shattered. The demise of Gold Spot always makes me sad and envelopes my train of thought. Memory is such a funny thing. I remembered all this yesterday at some arbitrary hour in the night. All that was required to bring out the memory was the ever seductive trap of an old Ilayaraja-SPB song. There I was, magically transported into a time warp and I let myself willingly drift into memory.

The night is dangerous my friend. It is when the soul and mind are at the weakest. When you hear the arresting melody of Ithu Oru Kathal Mayakkam or when Ilayaraja turns his amrithavarshini (the raaga of Varuna, the rain god) magic on you, memory goes into a hyper drive mode that simply sucks you in. Like you just took a blue pill from Morpheus and for a while at least, you'd like to not snap back to reality. If you stay awake in the night for more than necessary, on a weekend night and play around with musicindiaonline.com - you set yourself up for feeling really sad and wretched. The thoughts wander into arbitrary directions and you ponder the irrational, compare apples and oranges and end up feeling despondent that you are unable to change the wheels of time that seems to be cranking fast and hard. It is incredible how the opium of nostalgia has relativity so implicit in it. If nostalgia is rational then, does your life gets progressively horrible as you grow old? If we feel that the past was so great then does that mean our present is dire? Does that mean the future will continue to go down the drain? You wonder if the past's favorable comparison with the present is really true. Was the past really that great or has our memory approximated our old pains into some sort of a romantic struggle, that we apportion as part of the grand scheme of life? Are we struggling to accept change and seek refuge in the comfort zone of the well-known past?

Although I started with music for the ears, my focus was really the nose. Music is a cliched or more traditional nostalgia trigger. It is incredible how a taste or smell takes you back many years into the past. The smell of sand just before rain fall is usually a popular choice. But let me humor you with some not so common things. We know that Sandal wood and Jasmine incense sticks (agarbathis) stirs memories through smell. 'Dasangam' is an other splendid invention with an enchanting smell. Some people like sambrani, but my favorite is Dasangam. When I get up on a Sunday morning, He-Man, dasangam, my grandfather singing 'Sitram Siru Kaalai' and saffron-flavored water is a memory package that is stunning in its ability to make me travel time. Somehow the smell of Masala dosai takes me to a different place. Maybe it is because MD is my favorite food item, ever, by quite a distance. Walking back from school with a heavy bag, I could smell Masala Dosai at beginning of my street and immediately recognized that my mom was surprising me with something from the restaurant. With a 15 year record of having ordered Masala Dosai everytime I walked into a restaurant, surprise was more in the timing than in content. The few times that I've had false positives, I've been so crushed (and cursed my neighbors too).
Then there are these rose milk ice cream sticks for Rs. 0.50, which had a taste that was really priceless. In case, you don't know what this is, it is simply frozen rose milk. Every evening the vendor would taunt us with his small white two-wheeled push-cart and its bus-horn. OzDude was the richest guy around in terms of opulence defined by your ability to hand out Rs. 0.50 freebies. And I'd be one of the two to three "friends" waiting near him hoping he'd have the benevolence (and cash) to buy us one each. Sometimes, I'd have to settle for just a 'taste' (which is sticking your mouth in that "common" ice-cream and sucking the rose essence till that part of the stick turns white and transparent). The warmth of freshly packed coffee powder is another tickler. Not to mention the warmth of freshly ironed dress. The smell of a new notebook or brown cover reminds me of school.



School (photo above) has its own set of intoxicating aromas. Let me focus again on the unusual. I remember the aroma of various hair oils in Thirunelveli. On aroma and school people focus on lunch. The smell of lunch is prevalent everywhere. When people open their tiffin boxes, a curious smell of korma, sambhar, egg, and dosai, fills the school. The smell of lunch is certainly a treasured smell. But the morning aroma takes a different dimension. My memories of those uneasy 10 minutes in the morning, before classes began is colored with the smell of Hair oil, Cutticura powder and sacred ash. I was in a time and place, where an empty forehead was rarely visible. All students had either kumkum, sandal or scared ash and at least 3 litres of oil in their hair. The hair was pressed down and combed to perfection. For a Madras guy this was too disciplined and odd.

Since the government of India passed an order in 1987 renaming all Math teachers as Srinivasan, there was some chaos in the opposition party of Rajagoplan math teachers. Maybe, due to being in school during the great war of Srinivasan Vs Rajagopalan, I have memories of the chalk filled hands of Rajagopalan math sir as he left the class after an hour full of intense shouting and beating. The memory of the moment when he grabbed the back of my collar and pushed my face down, is terrifying in its clarity. Freeze that moment. You are waiting for impact and you don't know if the pain will crush you or kill you. Quite terrible. But focus on the olfactory senses here. The smell of the desk wood remains in memory. That and the smell of chalk in his hand is actually remembered later as aroma. Even the name carved on the desk with compass and blade is vivid in all its sepia tone glory. After impact, the pain radiates in your back like those glowing Eastman Color red spots they show in medicine advertisements. The smell of chalk and the feel of a virgin unused chalk piece was so stimulating to the senses. This time I visited my school and photographed the class. It was surreal.




Standing near the kitchen and watching your mom/grandma cook those extravagant dishes for a festival had its own set of smells. The Murukku, Thamizh Nadu's gift to the world, had a smell that was quite distinct from Omapodi. The smell of decoction when the filter is opened hits you like a two-ton brick. Laddu and Rava laddu had two distinct aromas. Memories of the distinction usually hits you in the middle of a design meeting several years later and make you cough on your status reports. The best smell to me was that of 'vadam/vetthal'. The vetthal koozh has a smell and taste that is incredible. To me, nirvana is the half-dried-vetthal. After your grandma puts the vetthal in the terrace to let it dry, you sneak up there a few hours later and tear the vethal out from the funky white sheet. It is half dried and half semi-solid koozh. Taste it and you'll know what I am talking about. It still makes my hand go to my head and brings out a silly smile. Someday I'll build a monument bigger than the Taj Mahal for the half-dried Vetthal.

Talking with friends late into the evening is an unforgettable album in the memory archives. The parapet wall, cricket bat, and wet tennis ball all have a smell that is as good as Ilayaraja's music. Recollections of chatting with friends sitting on a parapet wall at 7:30'ish in the evening is an incredible emotion of sadness and serenity. If you arrive late after the group has finished playing cricket then you ask someone to toss you the ball in the dark evening, until the ball is no more visible. Slowly the talk floats to every topic under the sun. You keep throwing and spinning the ball against each other in some random way and talk incessantly. Some people look at the watch and say "I'll leave in 5 minutes". They do that for 2 hours. The smell of evening grass grows on you. The incredible conversations about crushes, gossip and irrational fears about career on those parapet wall and St. Thomas Mt railway station makes you think about the conversation every time you cross that station.

On the topic of stations, don't you think Thirusulam is a more pleasant station than any other station? There is something about its cleanliness and empty spaces that makes it more special. This brings me to Madras and its beauty. Madras is so beautiful when it rains that you can write a Jekyll and Hyde story based on its summer and monsoon seasons. Travelling in an auto or suburban train when it rains is particularly awesome. In an auto you position yourself in the center of the seat to avoid getting wet and watch the wind beat the hell out of the blanket like protectors, the auto-karan has unrolled for you. Feeling cold in Madras needs to be treasured as a monument. Thank god! for the cross ventilation and the wind chill factor that the auto provides. It is sometimes a pleasure to watch the small wheels hit the puddles and the pedestrians jump to avoid the splash. In the train, especially when the train stops in Thirusulam, rain looks beautiful like never before. If you are travelling in train overnight, the water dropping on the bars of the window, early morning, is like god's little musical rhythm. The mood sweeps are acute when it rains the day before the exam. You are cramming and you have the nagging feeling that it is raining outside. There seems to be flicker of a vision, of some pleasantness that you promise you will experience when it rains after the exams. But you never get around to doing that.

Finally, walking in Venkat Narayana road with a head phones playing the immortal "Ithu oru pon maalai pozhuthu" and staring from the terrace, staring into the sunset with a transistor (541) playing the mesmerizing and probably one of the best songs I have ever heard, "Anthi Mazhai pozhigirathu" is all you can do to re-live nostalgia. But even that feeling will never match the feeling you get when you think about it a few years later, probably while sitting in some office cubicle or waiting in the car for the traffic to move. No matter how many times people write about it and no matter how eloquently the words slither through the neurons of your memory firing thoughts in unpredictable directions. It is an inescapable reality that you will never get it back. That is why nostalgia is some form of necessary masochist behavior where you take pleasure in some loss or sadness.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tonti Tonti

My observation on this Twenty20 cricket tournament are as follows. I guess you know all the gory details of the victory very well. So, let me focus on the more important points.
1. To the guy who, barely 20 seconds after Sreeshanth caught the ball, sends the following email to all his friends, yahoo groups, discussion lists, scraps in orkut with a profound observation on the subtleties of the game -

"India won the twenty twenty World Cup".
Its a one line email. Says nothing more, nothing less. And I have question for him - " Dude! Whats the deal here?" If we didn't watch it, we don't care. If we did watch it, we already know. So whats the joie de vivre in communicating this news. Now, don't get me wrong. A simple 'yipeee' is great and far more profound than his dry piece of news announcing "India Won Twenty20 World Cup". These words barely convey the exhilarating enjoyment experienced in those final few moments of the game. It conveys as much joy as words of the hostel warden announcing to Oliver Twist "your soup is served". I see this email as a desperate bid by socially inept losers to get some new emails to their Inbox. I am sure your friends think you are very annoying, I say.
2. Of course, the group of people who don't answer to the name Ajit Agarkar will go to sleep knowing that he got Rs. 80 lacs. I sincerely hope they actually get some sleep. As a member of this illustrious group, I can tell you that sleep is hard to come by. I have to open every pay stub of mine thinking "and Agarkar earned so much". It is not that such a large amount was paid. It is that Agarkar failed in what he tried hard to achieve. Among the people who have failed so far in the entire history of failure, nobody has failed more than Agarkar. He even failed at failing... in that he failed to fail and so failed the opposition team - if you get the Visu that I am trying to say. While this is a significant achievement in itself, is it an achievement worth 80 lacs? If you say, "But he tried hard, if Kerala Govt pays Uthappa because his grandfather had sex in Kozhikode then Agarkar should get 80 lacs. Be happy that the Maharashtra govt has paid him nothing". But should the board pay him for merely trying hard? Trying hard is good. But the end result has to appreciated - India won the World Cup. Thats devastating for Agarkar's so-called 'tried hard' efforts. That the BCCI took the Rudyard Kipling way of treating the two impostors - victory and defeat - alike is what is not going very well with my sleep system. When Agarker is getting a poor performance appraisal from the boards of other countries for not having the killer instinct to deliver the final blow, it is quite discourteous of BCCI to throw money at him. It is un-Indian to laugh at other people's misery, I say.
3. Umar Gul looks like a Urukhai warrior. A king kong. He-man, if I may say so. A beast of a man, who looks like he'd slay 30 people in one blow. Given this, it is inconceivable that he could have the voice that he has. Feminish and almost squeaky. Listening to him was like listening to my 3 year old niece complain "he took my jam mommy"(of course I didn't take her jam). I now know how Danny Morrison felt in 1994, when he heard Tendulkar at the post-match conference "mate! is it the same guy who performed proctectomy on me". Bureaucracy in Brahma and Allah's org, I say.
4. The best moment came when i-am-not-a-metrosexual-but-muffasil-guy Dhoni threw Cow dung on Shastri's face. Ignoring the long question Shastri visu'ed at him after the semi-final game, he started with "First of all I'd like to say something" and went on to say something like "Hey Mac you said we'd lose, we didn't, so whaddaya hafta say now. huh!?". Shastri gave a Colgate smile in return. I am sure he was embarrassed not just in the 'patriotism' angle but that nobody would be asking him for stock tips for quite some time. You have to give it to Dhoni, it was said in such a nice way. He even ended with "you must be more happy with the result". It was Dhoni's translation of "you must be happy to be proven a fool". Nothing wrong in what Shastrigal said, he just didn't have the communication style that Dhoni has. Its all about communication, I say.
5. It was certainly all about communication for Pakistan's captain, Shoaib Malik. He was the second person, in as many post-match interviews, to ignore Shastri's visu'ish question and give his own speech by saying "First of all.." Makes you wonder about Shastri and his visu questions. Nobody cares about them. They don't answer him anyway. So, why is he setting his rather complex and difficult question papers anyway? Makes you also wonder about people who say "First of all" without really intending to say a "Second of all" . Seems rather cunning of such people to promise something and not live up to it. So Mr. Shakesphere Malik says this, and he says it quite eloquently I might add, "First of all I want to say something over here. I want to thank you back home Pakistan and where the Muslim lives all over the world." Now clearly, this Wordsworth'ish poem is not intended for the Rameez Raja's of the world, who I am quite sure is embarrassed. He intends to communicate these words to the guy (who is a Muslim and who lives all over the world...in Pakistan) who can actually understand these encrypted words. He is communicating to - the villager living 120 kms south of Karachi, who wants to behead Shoaib for losing the game. Young marketing folks, observe Shoaib's positioning statement. What Socrates here is trying to say is that - "Dear Village religious fundamentalist man, You are Muslim. I am Muslim. Remember that well. So don't behead me, don't burn my house and for god's sake don't drive my tractor away. We are Bhai-bhai bai. Oh! btw World Cup bye-bye". Its all about knowing your audience and positioning yourself to that audience, I say.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Travelogue: Cauvery

A couple of months ago, I followed Cauvery river from Karnataka to ThamizhNadu up to the point where one of its streams merged into the sea near Nagapattinam. Upstream, I went to Shivasamudra in Karnataka where the river split into two, giving rise to Gaganachuki and Barachuki waterfalls on one side and SriRangapattinam on the other. There is also a river bank not very far away from Shivasamudra, which gives you an opportunity to take bath in Cauveri. I forget the name of this place. Here, Cauvery is more wider and the drive from here to Bangalore is very scenic (A separate travelogue on this later).
Downstream in Thamizh Nadu, among many other places, I visited the majestic and incomparable Srirangam. After flowing through Hoganikkal, Cauvery forks into the beautiful island of Srirangam. The 'anaikattu'/rock (very popular and revered) that bifurcates Cauvery was built/found/placed close to 2000 years ago. One part of the forked river is called Kollidam and this part merges into Bay of Bengal near Nagapattinam (the other flows into the sea near Cuddalore). 'Anaikattu' and dams are built to facilitate irrigation. Once into Thamizh Nadu Cauvery splits into several tributaries. I had a good grasp of them a month ago. Now I forget. Suffice to say Thanjavur delta formed near the island of Srirangam, is one of the richest Cauvery banks for irrigation. When I was at Srirangam there was lot of buzz about Cauvery water getting released from the dam, the next day. It got released the next day and I was near Lalgudi to witness Cauvery water flow into the dry river beds. There were about 300 government offiicials present to witness this. I was surprised to see no politician there. Watching the water gush and flow was quite a sight. When I drove to Kumbakonam, Sirgazhi, and Mayavaram there were some moments where we were overtaking the water flow and and some when we were lagging behind it. Quite thrilling.
Some interesting facts (from what the locals said) I learned about Cauvery was 1/3rd of it flows in Karnataka and 2/3rds in ThamizhNadu. About 80% of the water is wasted and not used for any useful agricultural activity (Unverified - and I would be dissapointed if it is true). Since the water is not stored in a dam beyond Srirangam, whatever seeps into the ground and canals is what is used for irrigation. Everything else just flows into the sea. It is easy to call for construction of another dam but I'll desist from judging until I know better. When you see the water flow, the first wave of water has green/brown patches on top of it. Many people who don't know what it is, play with it and potentially die as a result. These patches are "snake nests". Snakes build homes on the river when it is dry and these nests are washed away when water flows. The green/brown patches are sometimes whole snake pits with live snakes.
The emotional attachment that the people of the land attach to the river has to be simply seen to be believed. I had the genuine pleasure of following the river quite literally only a few days after following a major part of ThamaraiBharani.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cult Wars

The Ram Sethu controversy has got to be the biggest stage for cult wars after the vi Vs Emacs editor wars.

People from the scientific cult use words like 'scientific evidence', 'fiasco', 'archeology' and other half-baked knowledge on archeology to back their awesome claims. These cult members worship their bible, some arbitrary book by Richard Dawkins, and got all offended when the book was insulted by the religious cult. Some commerce students who didn't know any science also claimed to be extreme believers and called everybody else kafirs. A few even called religious cult members "bigots, who were close minded". Whereas a group of religious people just finished sacrificing a goat to the 'ellai deivam' Aiyyanar in Thendiruperi Aiyyanar Koil and sharpened their ballot paper finger for next year's elections.

Both cults are reportedly very happy with the claim that their bible is the complete authority on everything that happens in the world. At least my friend S.K Karthik quickly got to the essence when threw the cricket bat at the guy, who claimed vi was better, and shouted "my code always compiles when I write in Emacs. So it is much much better".
P.S: The question religious fundamentalists need to ask themselves is (a) did Valmiki walk all the way to Rameswaram, put on a divers suit(or snorkelling kit), inspect the sediment formation and then incorporate the bridge into his fantasy fiction novel or (b) did he just make up the bridge for the heck of it and it was the sediments, who read Valmiki Ramayana and exactly decided to congregate in that very spot where Valmiki said the bridge was built.
P.S2: The bridge wasn't man made and so (b)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mozhi






Kaatrin Mozhi Oliyaa Isaiyaa
Poovin Mozhi Niramaa Manamaa
Iyarkaiyin Mozhigal Purinthuvidil
Manitharin Mozhigal Thevaiyillai
Idhayathin Mozhigal Purinthuvidil
Manitharukku Mozhiye Thevaiyillai


P.S: "Valley" is an appropriate word to use beneath the name. Really it so is.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ajit Agarkar For Captain

I think the press and the BCCI are insulting India's greatest ever cricketer by not even considering his name. He is the best choice for the following reasons
1. Match Winner
2. Guaranteed Place in Test, ODI, Twenty20 teams for next 10 years
3. Guaranteed to play in 2011 and 2015 world cups
4. His performance cannot drop below his current levels because of captaincy pressures
5. The only cricket player to have delivered consistent performance all through his career.
6. Can be relied upon to deliver during crunch situations.
7. Tries his level best to ensure victory even if situation is dire.
8. Will never fail to deliver on people's expectations.
What more does anybody want? Can anybody contest/dispute even one of the above-mentioned 8 points? Just try, I say.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Morning Buzz

It is interesting to see the morning follow two different paths. Path1: The moment you get up, you head straight into the bathroom, brush, shave take a bath and come out. There you are, clean as a whistle and ready for work.
Path2: The other option is where your will power wavers for just a minute and you come out after brushing your teeth. Then you spend the next 40 minutes with coffee in hand and reading newspapers off the Internet before you go to bath.
The difference that these two approaches make to your day, your schedule and your pace is unbelievable. When I get up in the morning, there is no particular way in which I can guess how the day will unravel. It all depends on that crucial 1 second after the tooth brush is kept back.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ram Gopal Varma.

You know, when people talk about over hyped directors, RGV comes to my mind, first. Yes! he was good once upon a time. He was so promising with Udayam (shiva), Kshana Kshanam, Antam, Drohi, and showed signs of his old in Satya, Company and Kaun. He wrote the story for Thiruda Thiruda, many people didn't like it, but I loved it. All was good until the stupid Rangeela came about. After that pathetic movie that ran on Rahman's music and Urmila's thighs RGV fell apart. His nonsense movies began with Rangeela and then we got Daud, Mast, Jungle, Bhoot, Naach, Shiva, Darna Zaroori hai, Nishabd, Aag, and Darling. A director who has given so many bad movies shouldn't be called great anymore.
What I hated most was his self-professed style of writing the script and dialog while shooting was in progress and doing the P. Vasu thing of making 3 movies at a time and generally smelling his fart too much. It was as if he was so full of himself. Even Sarkar, which was his tribute to Godfather fell far (far far) short of Nayagan, if you factor in time, technology and audience maturity. And he is removing whatever good taste Sarkar left in our mouths with Sarkar-2. Critics of Manirathnam should just start following RGV for a while and get a perspective on how to rate Mani over time.
Infact Amithabh/RGV combination is sort of made-for-each-other. Its an explosive combination of overhype, past-the-sell-by-date, over-exposure and nonsense. Outside of death, if anything can stop Amithabh from acting its RGV induced exit.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dear Office Going People - II

A person who interviewed and recommended that I be hired for my first ever job, saw my previous post and sent me a link to an awesome article echoing similar sentiments. This sort of makes me believe that he hired me out of jealousy or sadistic pleasure of destroying my free life, more than anything else :-)

While it starts with a threatening

The life of recent college graduate Jeremy Fahey was forever changed earlier this month when the once outgoing and carefree student succumbed to a job offer at a local insurance claims firm, an unforeseen and tragic event that will most likely keep him confined to an office chair for the rest of his life.

It gets more dire and scary

According to several eyewitnesses at the scene, the impact of Fahey's full-time employment was so sudden and crushing that it has left the former high school track star paralyzed in front of his work computer screen ever since.

Fahey, who according to the article "now spends most days trapped inside a windowless cubicle, and only leaves his office chair in order to use the bathroom" is like my soul mate. He has my empathy, sympathy and sabapathy (and infact my umapathy also)when he says "It's funny: One minute you have your entire future ahead of you, and the next thing you know, you practically need someone to drag you out of bed in the morning."

Some of the mega *.pathy sentiments that this author shares with Fahey are

1. Fahey admitted that he has been forced to abandon a number of his favorite activities, from jogging in the park to just kicking his feet up and watching daytime television.

2. Claims to have lost "all sense of purpose" due to this harrowing turn of events, is already finding it difficult to remember a time when he "didn't feel completely numb."

3. He has become almost entirely dependent on computers to communicate with those around him.

The only thing that bugs me is that I don't have even a rakhi sister who says

"Jeremy had such a bright future—he could have gone on to do anything he wanted," said Michelle Fahey, who claimed that she almost didn't recognize her brother. "To see him like this now, in that button-down dress shirt and those pleated slacks, it's almost too much to bear."

Well, as they say its all a bloody conspiracy

"Sometimes I imagine what a relief it would be if I just gave up all together, if I never had to deal with another weekday ever again," Fahey said. "But then I think about my school loans and my credit card debt, and I know I have no choice but to keep going."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Dear Office Going People

I agree, I really haven't been inside anything that resembles an office for over 2 years. Especially in the last 6 months, I haven't done anything that can even be remotely described as professional work. I have been on the move, doing the dude thing. Never stayed in a place for more than 5 minutes. Given all this excitement I have had, the contrast that the the office offers is incredible. Well not 'incredible' but in reality cruel, offensive and boring. So, I have a question. No, many questions. How do you - some of my dear readers - manage to sit in the same seat/cubicle office room for 8 hours? Isn't it terribly boring? It is a closed space and all you do is stare at a monitor and type characters into a box. The biggest change during your day is - wait - wait - wait for the incredibly exciting - a meeting, where you go and meet other people in a closed room and talk about typing characters into a box. What is it that you office going people have against roads, open spaces and in general - being out ? 8:00 clk I am in the cubicle staring at the monitor. My back begins to hurt at around 10. I feel sleepy at around 12. I am really restless by 2 and begin to pace up and down my office at 4. There should really be some sort of fast action, pace and movement. Being incarcerated in a single room should be in the Human Rights commission's agenda.

I grew up watching the likes of Senthil and Goundamani. To me, Goundamani was/is the greatest philosopher in the world. To combine Aristotle, Socrates, Betrand Russell using the logic of Immanuel Kant and the mathematical precision of Jacobi is not an easy task. And Goundan discovered the electron before - who ever else it was is credited with the discovery. That Goundamani could be sarcastic makes him an altogether potent combination. When I watched them, they never did work. Didn't seem to have gone to school at all. They were just dancing and prancing in the fields inventing new philosophies and scientific methods. I think they were successfull because they had to do nothing. This was what I was doing for the last 6 months. Nothing. I do have to say, I miss getting up in the morning with a I-have-nothing-to-do feeling. Its an awesome feeling. No feeling can match this. Much literary work needs to be done on this. After all S.Ve.Sekhar can't handle this burden alone. His characterization of Sigamani just did it for me, you know. All Sigamani does is spend his father's money and run behind women. That's his "job". I envied him with all my heart. In his seminal thesis called 1000 Kicks to Sigamani he asks his father "Wont my friends insult me if I go to work? Wont they ask me if my father has become invalid? When I have a father who can earn money, why should I work? So I quit." Simply brilliant.

Not a day has passed by since I got introduced to Sigamani, that I have not asked me father as to why he did not become a corrupt minister. If I were a minister's son I'd have jasmine flowers wrapped around my wrists, wear silk shirts and drive around Doraisami road in Lamborghini. I'd join engineering in NRI quota, have 42 arrears (which I will clear in the 8th semester) and spend 4 years in the company of hot girls. I'd be in gym for a lot of time and won't know multiplication tables beyond 6. Being a CEO's son isn't bad too because as a corrupt minister's son, even though you have some power, there is good chance of seeing your father go to jail. So being born a CEOs son makes you legit. Someday you'll inherit a lot of shares and fight with your brother for an extra billion dollars. Not a bad fight to be in if you consider the fact that a Thanjavur court judge may actually be spending time making decisions on half-a-ground worth of property, near Mayiladuthurai. If the great Goundamani had anything to do with it he'd put a minimum bar on financial level of an issue that is brought to court. "kaakus katravanellam case poda vanthutanunga" - or a more inventive "latrine katranavennallam litigate panna vanthutanunga". Hey, to me, if you are gonna be fighting your sibling in court its better to be fighting over a billion bucks than to be Munnusami's son fighting for a 0.50 grounds that's filled with cow dung. As a CEO's son, you can even visit a psychiatrist to overcome problems of being a star child. Being a CEO or a Minister isn't cool at all. In fact I think they are losers. Do you think all those CEOs are having the time of their life? Or Ministers? They are slogging there butt off 24 * 7. The son inherits all the money, wealth and power but not the work. So its your call - which is better? Have-money-cant-enjoy-do-work or have-money-will-spend-no-work. For me Becoming a CEO does not match the I-have-to-do-nothing feeling that his son might get. You have to born as their children to experience that amazing feeling. It is a feeling so powerful and rewarding that when you get up over there in the morning, your mom thinks you are a darling and gives 2 doses of coffee, your grandma brings some sweet and cooks 2 tons of food straight in your plate. All you do is just walk around and feel special. I got only but a small taste of this life and they grabbed it away. The bloody society.

Over the last 3 months in Madras, I have gotten used to long walks in the afternoon. I go down station road, cross Mambalam station, walk through Ranganathan street (incredibly exciting), take a left in Usman road walk until Pothys, take a left in Doraisamy road and go back home. Imagine the number of people I see every day. Imagine the noise I am used to. The noise is like being in a stadium during Ind-Pak game. Compare that life, that royal life to this. This thing, because I refuse to call it a life. My wife wants me to jog in the morning everyday. Compels me to eat low-fat cereal bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Never wants me go near food. Pinches me hard if I touch the lovely little Ruffles chips. On subject of noise. And man, this place is so silent. Nobody talks. America is the lull after the storm. My ears have that hollow sound because of the silence. India is full of screaming people, active environment. And the moment you commit the sin of crossing the seas and step into the port-of-entry box, you are cursed with deathly silence. For the past 2 weeks it feels as if God muted out all the noise in the world. Its even more muted at work. I tell you, the moment they slapped that I.D card around me, made me sign pension, health benefit papers and sent me inside - it felt like I was walking into jail. I shed a tear and said bye to free society. All through school, when my mom put that half-drowser on me and sent me on my way, I complained that the education system was being forced upon me. I cursed the guy who invented the system. And now I have I've jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

I have to say that this society is so male oppressive. It is so biased against the men of the species that somebody ought to do something about it. A woman can stay at home, not work and she is called 'adjusting' and sacrificing. If a man wants to stay at home, he is irresponsible, effeminate, 'dhanda soru', and in general - a madman. Why the discrimination, I ask? Since the beginning of time, men have been sent to gather food, build tribes, conquer tribes, fight wars, build machines, create philosophy, spread religion, kill animals, and now what - go to work. While women have been sitting at home cooking food and having sex. Food and sex - the dream combination that every man wants has been secretly cordoned off by the evil woman. and whats more, the suffragist movement make men feel guilty for letting them have it so easy. They claim that they actually want to do the work and earn food and sex. I'd like them to start all over from the beginning with the invention of fire and wheel and then work their way down to corporate offices. Now that 'work' is being done in A/C rooms - they suddenly want to be a part of it. If a wild boar had to be caught in the dark forest for dinner to be cooked, its time for Asterix and Obelix to do the work. You won't find Mrs Impedimenta or Mrs Geriatrix complaining about the glass ceilings to Chief Vitalstatistix. Can you imagine their ultimate triumph? They've made work look like something special and forced men to dominate it and later made men feel guilty for dominating it. Can there be more injustice? I demand freedom for the stay-at-home guy. Men should be able to stay at home and not be made to feel bad about it. Let this happen and then women can demand equality.

I have to go back to my drawingboard and devise a way to emancipate the stay-at-home man. All those people who have the supressed desire to quit work will soon see a solution. More importantly, I have to discover a way to do it without feeling guilty. Maybe all of mankind in the future will build a statue and sings songs in my praise.

p.s: ok. so I am incredibly homesick. I should be excused for this rant.