Saturday, 29 November 2008

Do you really care?

At a time when the nation mourns the loss of hundreds of innocent people..some choose to use the terrible incident as political leverage.
It is sad and heartless.
Stop messaging me to choose a better government. If you really care about the welfare of the people, stop playing the blame game. Forget about your hunger for power.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Social expectations

I am a bit of an anti-social in the Indian interpretation of the term.

I have been known not to visit home for two years at a stretch at times. Right now, I have not seen my folks for 15 months. This amazes a lot of people I know, specially since I inhabit the same country as them. It is quite unusual in a country with such strong family ties as India.

Another trait that my folks complain about is my apathy to make regular phone calls to them. It is quite the norm here (specially so among the ethnic group that I belong to), that people living away from their families, call them up regularly or at least on alternate days. I fail to comply.
Quite often , I receive calls from home asking " What's the matter with you, you have not called for over a week now. Is everything all right?" or " Why don't you call us? We get worried."
I tried to make them understand that if anything did happen to me, they would be the first person to know. So, by extension, if I do not call, it means I am fine. It did not work.
I still continue to be chided at times for my unwillingness to do the responsible Indian child thing.

But the greatest dilemma faced by my antisocial un-Indian self is when it comes to Death.

At times, when such unfortunate news reaches me, I am always at a loss.
I always prefer to visit the family in person. Under circumstances when that is not possible, the phone call is customarily the next appropriate alternative. But what do you say? How do you share the grief, be an emotional support, or do whatever that you're supposed to, through a phone call, sitting miles away?
It is not that I do not feel all that, but how do you express that?
Even when I am attending in person, I prefer to remain silent. Letting my act of being present beside the family at such a time speak for itself. But when you have to substitute a silent presence with a phone call, it stumps me.


Monday, 17 November 2008

Merry men

Perhaps I am too cynical, but I often wonder about their smiles, staring from the photographs.

Is it joy to be there, or joy to be photographed there?

Is it the virtual equivalent of scribbling your name on monuments?

Is it the residual hangover of a colonised culture still grappling with national identity?

Is it an attempt to scavenge pride through an acknowledgment of inferiority?

Is it about
be-ing or ego ?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

OCD and the Celebrity life

One of my habits [read Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] is related to PC Recycle bins and Trash mail or Spam mail.

When I choose to delete something, either from my PC or my mail Inbox , I delete it. [Hear ye, all Software corporations]. Yes, I can be and am indecisive at times, for instance when I had to choose between buying Naked Lunch and On the Road, both of which I have wanted for sometime [ I ended up buying both]. But at other times, I am very firmly decisive. Specially when it comes to files, folders,mails or random junk which I want to delete from my PC.I am always sure about it. I do not delete important files by mistake. Even if I did, I already have it backed up somewhere. So spare me the Recycle bin and the Trash mail folder.

This means, every time I turn on the PC or check my mail, I have this compelling desire to empty my Recycle bin or Trash folder. The innocuous 'folder inside the bin' icon or those seemingly innocent numbers within the parentheses next to my Trash folder in my mail are lethal threats for me. I have to clear them everytime. There is no escape.

Though the threat of the Recycle bin has been satisfactorily eliminated by me, thanks to the Shift key, the Trash folder remains a continuing threat. And it has company...also known as the Spam folder. So everytime I log in to check mail, which is about 4-5 times a day, I dutifully empty the Trash and Spam folders. I even have nightmares of accumulated junk mail when I do not check my mailbox for somedays.

The reason, that I have brought all this up, in the first place, is that a charming fact of life has revealed itself to me, while I was being a slave to my OCD.

Over the past few months, while cleaning my Spam mail , I noticed an increasing number of mails written in Chinese sitting pretty among the usual spam crowd. Every now and then, between mails promising everlasting erections, a dating life busier than Heathrow, free degrees to make Nobel Laureate professors look like high school drop outs and unclaimed fortunes, there lies the Chinese mail. Over the past few months their numbers have increased. Earlier it used to 5 or 6 per day, now I get almost 30 mails in Chinese everyday !!

Why the Chinese people have chosen to write to me on a regular basis, I do not know. But, I am guessing that I must have become some sort of a celebrity in China. So here I am paying the price of being a celebrity by being flooded by Chinese fans. If only I could read them and reply...

But till then, I guess I can now ask for special celebrity concessions at Chinese restaurants..

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The third question

Lately, all my conversations with people seem to reach a now-predictable stalemate. This is especially the case, when the people concerned are old friends, family or otherwise-very-concerned-for-me people whom I have not met for a while.

The conversations generally begin quite are you, what are you upto these days and all that. But as soon as they feel that they are well versed with my current state of affairs, when they feel just comfy enough, out comes THE question. Statistically speaking, it is generally the third question. Sometimes the question is disguised as a comment [ almost a passing comment, at times], sometimes as a suggestion. But the question is always lurking there, waiting to catch me unaware. At more distressing times, it is even accompanied by helpful suggestions for me, just so that I can triumph over the "problem".

In case, you are wondering, what the question is, here it is, with some of its variants and some of the suggestions...

When are you getting married?
Why are you not getting married?
Why are you single?
Why are you not going out with someone?
Don't you like someone?
So, did you find someone yet?

I think you should go out more often and meet some girls.
This is the age to get married.
Think about your parents.
It'll be too late to marry if you do not be quick about it.
Think about your would-be children.
All of your friends, even your juniors, are married off.
Ask your parents to find a nice girl for you.
You have a steady job. You should get married now.

More insightful suggestions:
You should cut off your hair or else no girl will marry you.
Forget the past, find a nice girl and settle down.
You smoke too much. Stop smoking or you won't find a nice girl.
You should not have got the tattoo.
Stop listening to heavy metal.
You are too weird. Mend your ways.
Shave that goatee and sideburns.
Take off those ear rings.


Certain death

Recently, once again, I expressed my desire to buy a motorcycle to my folks.

As always, it was met with a resounding disapproval.

They are convinced, that certain death awaits me as soon as I sit on a motorcycle. They believe that the moment I am astride a motorcycle, crazy drunk truckers, who have been so long hiding behind bushes with their trucks, generally relaxing and discussing Plato, would be overcome by an overwhelming desire to hunt me down with their trucks...and will do so. Or maybe, the skies will part and an errant meteorite, having lost its way to Saturn's ring, will suddenly decide that me on a motorbike is a jolly good place to land on. And Heaven forbid if the clouds see me on a motorbike, for they will surely, muster all their aqueous strength to rain down heavily enough so that I skid from my bike even without having to start it.

What leads to such zealous belief I fail to comprehend. But the commandment has been delivered:
" Thou shalt not covet the motorbike. Thou shalt buy the car instead."

It remains to see, whether I sin.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Voice of Tibet

Last week, I was back at McLeodganj. With me was my friend, Adil. The journey was quite eventful, in the sense, that we just decided to go and left. We reached the ISBT exactly 15 minutes from the departure of the last bus. We had no tickets, and the counter had a long que.The prospects seemed dismal.

Luckily, my friend, Bali, who had come to try his luck to get a ticket to Chandigarh, found out that the bus had two passengers who had not arrived till then. Conversations with the conductor followed, and shortly we were off to our destination.

On reaching McLeodganj I caught up with my friends, the JJI Exile Brothers. Though the elder brother Jamyang was out of town [having gone to Delhi to buy equipment for the band], we had an amazing time with Jigme and Ingsel.
It took them a while to recognize me, but once the recollection was over, we were invited for a drinking session. Soon all of us headed to their basement with some bottles of whiskey. Amidst the red walled room, filled with graffitti and Jim Morrison posters, we discussed about music, their Europe tour, being Tibetan and their trials and tribulations.

JJI for me reflects the voice of the Tibetan youth. A generation, born in exile, battling with their refugee status, with substance abuse, with disillusion. And what better way to convey such sentiments than through music.

The seeds of rock music have always flourished in times of rebellion. Whether it be the voice of Dylan and Baez in the 60s America or that of the JJI brothers in present day Tibet-in-exile. Their songs, a mix of English and Tibetan, have an addictive honesty.

But, I have said enough, for the rest, I would rather let their music speak for them...

JJI Exile brothers: Songs from their debut album