Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On tuesday, i fell in love again.

On tuesday, i fell in love again. With my bag. It was an epiphany. I had just climbed four storeys carrying a bag full of beer, vodka and whiskey...i placed the bag gently on the floor. One of the would-be-drunk people commented something about me being too delicate with my bag, as if it were my partner. i justified my passionate desterity with a speech about the importance of booze in a loser's life and walked away. couldn't stop thinking about the comment though. I mean i did put the bag down gently, but my bigger concern for some reason was the bag getting wet in case of a boozocide, not the boozocide itself. I love these subconscious regression therapy moments. Grass had nothing to do with it. it was pure unadulterated subconscious. and it told me that i loved my bag.
Gradually i picked up the pieces of that missing puzzle. i always thought, or so i was told zillions of times by other people, that i loved myself the most. True. I am selfish. Sue me. but now it dawned, that it wasn't me, that i loved - it's my daily stuff i love. and having lived out of home for a long time now, my bag, my ever faithful black bag, is the shining star in the night sky of my life.
small incidents in the past came to my mind. everytime, i didn't finish my syllabus two hours before an exam, i packed 3-4 fat books in the bag, and surprisingly read almost each one of them in the final metro ride. Everytime i went to score grass, i stored seemingly worthless documents in my bag to back my claims of being a student researching on slums, in case i got busted. The grass itself used to travel through the nooks and corners of delhi in the secret pouch inside the bag, passing undetected through all metro stations. Sita did not have as much spare jewellery with her while getting air lifted by Ravan, as the amount of spare change i have with me at any point in time. My bag jangles with memories of useless transactions. when i collect these memories and put them on the payment counter in a KFC, i enjoy the ghastly look on the cashier's face. i enjoy it more as i say with a smile holding up my darling bag, "there's more where it came from." And i don't need to mention a black bag's importance in a kleptomaniac's life, do i? let me clarify one little thing - i did "buy" the bag though. An investment. a good one.
My bag helps me hide things which if carried in the open, would render me a "bad boy" in this oh-so-perfect-and-decent-society. i shall not go into details of those objects. people who know me, know them. I'm too drunk right now to compose a song for my beloved adidas bag. I love by bag, i love people too - but my bag loves me back.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Full course meal : Shuffle mode

Not being religious is fun. If you don’t want to, then you don’t have to dress up weird for all those festivals, and you can have all kinds of meat on all days, including weekdays and public holidays. Shallow reasons, I know. But it beats mobilizing mobilizees and panditzees to march towards wonders of architecture, just because it’s not the building where your god lives in. It also beats planning for world domination by ostracizing the good ‘ol condom and proclaiming that it’s the devil’s creation. For real? Birth control and Rock music must be siblings then.
So last Friday, I decided to take one of the siblings with me as I went to the kabaab wali gali, near Jama Masjid in Old Delhi. Before conclusions are drawn, allow me to add that this one involves putting something into your ears. Mystery solved, for most people I hope. Yes, I was referring to earphones. A starving belly, a walk through one of the best yet cheap gourmet lanes in town at a time of the day when the locals had just broken their fast, coupled with some of my favourite music arranged in an arcane playlist, and the best bit – shuffle mode. This, I tell you, is the life. So when The Shins started strumming their way into simplistic glory on New Slang, I found myself walking just like the guy in the video, clueless about what to dig into as an appetizer. (The next time someone says soup I’m gonna souperkick his derriere to Manchuria). Like a true Bengali, I start with a sweet dish – pretty sure I’m gonna end my feast with another. The Shaahi Tukda is made from specially baked sweet bread, mixed with all kinds of dry fruits topped with a not-too-sweet-but-fat layer of dry cream and plate costs you ten bucks. I was happy. ‘Twas short lived as the track changed to Phil Collins’ Another day in paradise. I was suddenly conscious of the three street urchins staring at me from the other side of the narrow lane. Always had this argument with myself whether I should give in to the pleas of street dwellers, or walk on out to discourage the culture of begging for alms. Pressed NEXT and walked on. Mohammed by Dandy Warhols helps me forcefully distract myself from such random arguments. My shallow heart aligns its beats with the haunting bass intro of this beautiful song...”I only wanna do the right thing, but all these demons pass my side...” So I find this entrance to a dargah, and sit out the remainder of the song. Listen to it, and you’ll kind of have an idea why.
The track changes to Seven Seas by Antix. As much as I love their work, I couldn’t help noticing after two minutes, that my steps were matching up with the exact beat of the song. And that’s when I realised, it’s about time I changed the track. It’s physically impossible to keep up steps while walking with the beat of a trance number. You’ll eventually end up running like they do in the Roadrunner Show. Classic rock in the form of The Doors comes to my rescue. I was literally shadow singing to the beef kabaabs and tikkis as they were being roasted on the grill. What else can you do with a song like Light My Fire? Do not answer, it was rhetorical. The kabaabs and tikkis complimented each other like the drums and keyboards did in that amazing instrumental break. The plan of taking my own sweet time while eating food of such great quality takes no time to fail. Picture Homer Simpson gobbling a beef stake. I was as dedicated. That’s it, appetizers were over. Not that I had enough space for a full meal from here on, but hey, I do not loiter around in Old Delhi every other day, do I?
Stepping into a small restaurant called Sultan Hotel, I head straight for the small table upstairs under a small but strong wall fan. I look for someone to help me place my order. Abdul, a boy of about fourteen bounces up the stairs. I ask for two tandoori rotis, a beef korma, and nehari. He seems more intrigued by the shape of my head, as if he’s planning a PhD, on the dents up there in my skull. I repeat my order. He jumps out and back in exactly in a minute with the food. The Doors give way to Chet baker, although I doubt if, while writing My Funny Valentine he had the same look in his eyes, as I did while drooling over the juicy meat pieces. As if I cared... One slow track follows another, and this time it’s Radiohead with Talk show host. This is a true testament to the greatness of food over here in this part of Delhi – even my favourite band in the world cannot distract me from my mission. Two more rotis and Pearl Jam’s Nothingman have passed, and I’m suppressing burps trying to convince myself and there’s more space left. Some other day maybe - No, not maybe - some other day for sure.
And now I’m thirsty. It’s sort of hard to spot your favourite lassi shop in a crowded market, but frankly, Smashing Pumpkins’ 1979 animated my experience of bumps and grunts and anglicized Urdu apologies. I finally find it, order a big glass of sweet lassi and end it with a very satiated “Aaaahhh” as if I was the third band member Wham! never had. Bob Marley sings Coming in from the cold. Ok, this might not mean a lot to most people, but to me, some of my close friends and lots of people I’ve met in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Marley is Lord Almighty. The night was ending quite well. I was in two minds whether to take a rickshaw back to the subway, or just walk. I decide to walk as the track changes to Born Slippy by Underworld made famous by the closing scenes in Trainspotting. I smile and wonder if my music phone has a mind of its own. I’m sure it does when I enter the train. Radiohead is back again with Fake Plastic Trees.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Burn it !!! it's a brand....

JNU is not my university. I'm more like the Neelgai that just hangs out there...oh, and has dinner as well. Going by the whole silver lining attitude towards life and its fuck ups, i can say that one of the advantages of not being a student here is that, no one asks you about your affiliations - political/dental...whatever. Having said that, this alienation does not however protect you from shrieking at some of the pamphlets that are out there in every empty 12" x 8" space around campus.

One such pamphlet screams out against the JNU administration for allowing Cafe Coffee Day to open up one of its tiny outlets in one of its schools. I think its the School of Languages. Frankly, i couldn't care less, cause School of Languages is too far for me to walk, just for a cup of coffee. But the stupid reasons for rising in rebellion over this outlet, demands a stupid blog post. Apparently, CCD is evil. Does Darth Vader serve you the coffee?? No, although it would've been fun...picture Mr.Vader asking you in his grave machine induced voice 'Would you like some more cream with that?'.. Apparently, a CCD outlet would desecrate the socially conscious atmosphere inside the campus. The same campus where people enjoy their Cokes and Pepsis (burps included) without looking towards the heaven to check whether good ol' Karl's frowning disapprovingly or not. They complain that the chai is too expensive at 10/- and a samosa at 8/-..."it's very elitist" they say."They" are also regulars at the nearest PVR Cinemas, where nachos are sold at hundred bucks. Go figure.

Recently, a so called "North East" Dhaba has opened up next to 24X7 Dhaba. The most popular drink over there is the Fruit Beer@15/-....Not a bad deal i say. Surprisingly, the comrades do not mind the fact that the soda used is McDowell's, and the guys behind the counter store them in a Coke Machine. well, not too hard to understand actually....i mean it says Beer, they call it Beer...and it's refreshing. JNU is secular. They say. they proved it by opening up the much awaited NE Dhaba. But seriously, a NE restaurant without pork or beef?!!! so much for being secular, eh? It's like one of those north indian momo places which says in bright red/yellow Chinese Food, and yet when you ask for a plate of momos, they wait for you to specify whether you want chicken, veg or (worst choice) paneer momos.

Well, at the end of the week, the CCD outlet is forced shut. No one gives a rat's ass about the guy who was supposed to work there...most likely a student in some private college, who needed some extra money. No one cares about Pami's friend who said screw the shitty coffee, i love the pastries they serve. What every one seems to care about is 'My party was the first one to come up with the CCD condemning pamphlet'. Liberal my arse. Ask them to name one person whose life would've changed for the worse had the outlet been allowed to run, and they return your question with another one 'which party do you support?'.....Holy Molly, the coffee-pastry-loving-i-can-afford-it-if-i-cut-down-on-four-branded-cigarettes-a-day you fucknuts!!!!

Seriously, the advertising firm handling Cafe Coffee Day got this one right - a lot CAN happen over coffee.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Once upon a time..

You can see a lot of happy faces when a movie has a happy ending. And the expressions more or less look the same. This makes the audience look the same, as if everyone’s from the same family. Scary Brady Bunch shit, I say. It’s not that I hate happy endings. But quite simply put, I’m tired of the conventional, predictable ones. Movies need to be more than that. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to find differences between a movie and nice meal in Old Delhi, ...well, anyways, like I was saying, a movie is not supposed to just make you happy, and it definitely should stop trying to do so with some lame ass ending where it defies logic, chemistry, and at times even physics (don’t believe me, huh? Go see “Wanted” or “G.I. Joe – Rise of the Cobra”...where apparently, ice sinks). Even worse are the romantic comedies that pop out of Hollywood like shit pellets pop out from a goat’s arse.

People have tried to help me out by telling me things like leave your brain outside with the pack of cigarettes when you watch this one, or use the lameness of the lead guy to point out to your date what a unique find you are, although you are broke, ugly, and have no knowledge of kick-boxing. Tried. Yes, both. Nope. Doesn’t work. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t have tried both at the same time. But then again, when you least expect it, a movie is made by some obscure genius and it hits you big time, in an interesting way. I watched this Dublin based movie called Once by John Carney. Had never heard of him. Will keep an eye out for his work from now on. A masterpiece in Irish Cinema, this one was shot in well under two weeks and with just one handy cam, with a one hundred grand budget. A simple and realistic story, full of quirky genuine moments and real people, backed up by one of the best acoustic guitar playlists consisting only of original compositions. The story is nothing more than a week in the lives to two strangers who happen to hang out together sharing their music with each other. And the romance portrayed between them is magical yet so believable... After the movie ended, I felt the movie did not give the viewers what they wanted, but what they needed. Call me corny, but that’s that.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who play the leads, are not professional actors, but musicians. In fact, the only other time you’d have seen Mr.Hansard would have been in another Irish gem called The Commitments where he plays a bassist in the most hardworking band in the world. He also fronts the band The Frames, one of the many brilliant, but brilliantly obscured bands in the Irish indie music scene. And when Marketa Irglova mentioned in her Oscar Speech, that this movie was an attempt by a handful of individuals to make these talented but unsigned musicians get a bigger audience, I almost felt like giving her a hug. The fact that she is a hot East European, same age as I am, who sings like an angel and plays anything and everything on the piano from Mendelssohn to Bob Dylan had nothing to do with it. Yes, this duo won an Oscar for the Best Original Song in a Movie in 2007 for the duet Falling Slowly. Listen to it, and you’ll know why.

Do not miss this one my dear friends, downloaders and countrymen. A movie such as this, totally stripped off of the Hollywood formulae, big names, bigger budgets, single-handedly manages to prove that less is more.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Perfect Love Gone Wrong...

2009 A.D....Delhi metro so far knows three colours – red, yellow and blue. Good. Cause they say, that by 2015, the trains are gonna run in so many different routes each represented by a different colour, that even VIBGYOR-ing your way through the metro maze would be next to impossible. Great! Just when I had decided to give up trying to figure out DTC bus routes and move on to greener (read easier-with-lots-of-air-conditioning) pastures, I am back to square one. Well, not exactly square one. I mean, if you look at a map of the proposed route, then I would call it going back to an intangible mess of discarded guitar strings in a polybag one. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitching about the existence of these beautifully made modern marvels of public transport, I mean, my lazy, fast travel loving, sweat hating self loves it. It’s just that when something you love, grows bigger, things get complicated.

Me: DMRC, are you listening?

DMRC: Yes my lover, what is it?

Me: Ummm....you’ve grown too big for my comfort... We need to talk.

DMRC: *sob sob* ...B-b-but, why? ... How could you? After all this time we’ve spend togeth...*sob sob*....Oh Fuck You Raj, deep down inside I always knew you were a shallow pig!!!

Something along those lines, you know what I mean? ... while you’re reading this, do not give me that look that you’re giving right now. It isn’t all my fault. The metro is one confusing ride, which is if you have the time to be confused while travelling. All you need to do is just open up your mind and just listen to the automated alternating male and female voice on the intercom. I shall present a couple of questionable rules laid out, regarding metro etiquette. Exhibit A, Do not play loud music inside the train. What?!! Nayan agrees to my disagreement, his logic being, that it is all a great ploy to keep us restrained to ourselves and moreover, if everyone enjoys their own music through their earphones, it fuels consumerism. My thoughts are, let’s just say, slightly different. There’s a good chance of people breaking into a twist, or bhangra (yeh dilli hai meri jaan) or in my case, as a close friend would add, even a little tap dance recital when they listen to good music. This effects the moving train’s balance. Very hard for the driver to run the train. Did you ever think that he could be dancing too?? Exhibit B, Always check under your seat, there could be a bomb. Imagine the scene if everyone starts obeying that rule religiously... it would look like a group session for self help oral sex to a perverted mind. People could even improvise and break into the Mexican wave version of this odd ritual. Vivid Picture.

Exhibit C (my favourite), Do not talk to strangers. Yeah right, so we should all continue talking to people we already know, and ....and nothing actually, that’s it. Combine Exhibits B and C. It’s freakin dangerous, I’ll tell you how. So you board a train. And say, you’re kind of a selfless being in this modern world, where you look under not only your seat, but also the seat of the other guy sitting opposite to you. Now you see a teddy bear/thermos/transistor under it (things which the DMRC thinks could be bombs...i frankly thought the bad guys had moved on from Mr.India, the movie) ...so how do you tell the other guy Dude, your ass is about to land on the moon... I mean, he’s a stranger, right? Can’t talk signs flashing in your head!!!! The metro doesn’t only warn you about terrorists, but also pickpockets. Hmmm...ever imagined the catastrophic results of both being on the same train same time? So the terrorist places a Winnie the Pooh teddy under a seat and is almost about to detonate it using the Chinese mobile he’s carrying....or is he? Is the mobile still with him...or has Captain Pickpocket attacked and it’s already on it’s way to Pallika bazaar? Gripping tension, drama and panic.....throw in an item song and you have your own Bollywood version of Speed, the movie. Something like Ramesh Sippy presents Raftaar, the speed. Exhibit D, Do not sit on the floor of the train. Why not? Am I asking for too much if I just wanna enjoy the AC under the connecting space between two compartments? ....the interesting folks are always found at those places anyways....and I’m definitely not asking CM Sheila Dixit to wash my denims.

The Delhi metro can be a funny experience. Weird, but funny. It was fun while it lasted my love.