Wednesday, May 28, 2008


My cousin tells me I am way to serious on my blog and quite unlike what I am in real life. I thought I was dead crazy in both and that I had only one life, anyway! So for those who find this blog too damn serious, here are two blogs I found which are just the opposite:

  1. Doing Jalsa and Showing Jilpa
  2. Twisted DNA
Seriously hilarious stuff!! :-D

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hits and things missed

I suppose my previous post has caused the traffic to this otherwise unknown blog to increase rapidly (also thanks to it being featured on an extremely popular site)! I never assumed that this blog was the finest or the best, but it feels sad that a rant received more readers than say this or this. Nevertheless, I was glad when a friend contacted me offline and said, "E, been a while since we had posts and comments like this." Indeed!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tsk Tsk Tsk (slightly updated)

I really respect Mint. I rate it better than most other papers I read though the verdict is not yet out on its comparison with The Hindu. But today's column by a T.R.Ramaswami is pathetic (and I am being kind and generous, thanks to several slips of feedback received about my excessive and brutal criticism of human ways). First of all, who the heck is he!? He claims to be a former commercial and investment banker. Fine, good for him and the next seven generations of his family. I fail to understand his authority on a matter of Indian history, though. Frankly, had he provided references and citations, I might be kinder (and call his article "atrociously stupid"). Here is his article for all to read. Really, Mint... tsk tsk tsk! Didn't expect this from you!
Let me explain (else, it wouldn't be like Eroteme) why I think his article is pathetic. He is attempting to date the Kurukshetra battle. He actually doesn't do it at all. He starts out with numbers appended with BC and then with a "Think why no one wants to place the Kurukshetra battle in that gap of 1,000 years. " moves on to irrelevant topics. And then he jumps further away from his stated intent with a "Here’s what happened. There was an Indus Valley civilization which belonged to the Vedic culture." And the basis? If the Indus Valley civilisation was Vedic, then how do you support your claim of Dravidian language of the Indus Valley? No Vedic text is written in Dravidian language? He actually says "That’s why Tamil is the oldest of all present Indian languages and Tamilians were perhaps the first Sindhis! After all they drank jhalam (Tamil for water) from the river that has this name." (supposedly referring to Jhelum/Jhelam). I can't believe that someone could be so stupid!! Jhalam is not Tamil. It is Sanskrit (Jhala). Tamil is known to add the nasal "um" to most words (Paathram, Vaaram, etc.) and that doesn't make them Tamil. So many other Indian languages use the word Jhala for water. Are you then going to suggest that Assamese could have also been the language in Mohenjodaro? Secondly, Jhelum was never Jhelum till a while ago. Even in the time of Alexander's invasion, it was called Hydaspes. In Vedic literature it is referred to as Vitasta. Mr. Ramaswami, you really assume that the reader has no other source to information than your article!?

Before I move on, I would like to dwell a bit on the numbers he quotes. He says the big bad Aryans invaded the Indus Valley between 1800-2000 and historians (who are they?) did not wish to place the battle between 1500 and 2500. Since the Aryans arrived on 23rd May 1800BC at half past seven, we can skip 1500-1800 as time when they were busy booking tickets (you will understand the relevance of railways further down this post). So they reach the station nearest to Mohenjodaro and start invading. Shall we say it took some time to finish it all off? 1801, perhaps? Bhishma was supposed to be the 12th in the line of kings starting with Bharata. If each king lasted about 70 years, then that means 840 years before Bhishma arrived. Then he grows old, witnesses one generation of kings and then the other which includes Mr. P. Arjuna and Mr. D. Duryodhana. So PA and DD arrive around 900 years after a proper establishment of an Aryan kingdom. But wait, our in-house genius says: "Think why no one wants to place the Kurukshetra battle in that gap of 1,000 years. It would tantamount to admitting that the Pandavas and/or the Kauravas were the “invaders” or “outsiders” — the Aryans who displaced the then flourishing Indus Valley civilization and pushed it south to become the Dravidian culture. This aspect has assumed political overtones and, hence, the denials and silence over it." Which means that PA and DD (who were both Aryans, so who is pushing whom where is something I don't understand. Did the loser get the Dravidian trophy and learn Tamil to boot?) were around fighting in 1800. Wokay! So grand-grand-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g daddy Bharata was there from 2700BC and the Vedas and Vedic Literature was there before him. What about the Ramayana (it is not pronounced as rum-eh-yaaanaaa but raaamaaa-yuh-n) and the fact that there were rishis and Gods before that? So we are nearly pushing 3200BC for the invasion making the Indus Valley exist at least from 4200BC. That just didn't happen!!! To assume that the Pandavas and Kauravas chased out the Harappans is stupid because we forget that there were generations before them, all well established in Hastinapur. And then there is Ramayana to make matters worse.

So, if Tamil should be the language of Harrapa and the Indus Valley civilisation was Vedic, how come there is no Tamil in the Vedic texts? How come Tamil and scripts on the Indus seals are as alike as I am with Brad Pitt (actually, if you think about it... :-D )?

Then the genius Mr. Ramaswami says: "The biggest give-away is the “18-day” war. Military historians will tell you man’s ability to sustain a battle proper (sieges are not battles) for more than a day came only when railways made logistics feasible." Jesus H Christ!! Are you on a mission to unsurpassed stupidity!? What give-away!? I am sure you must have felt really happy writing that down! The Battle of Thermopylae lasted 3 days and no, Leonidas didn't use the Grand Trunk Express to get there! Think of a small army of 300+ people being sustained for 3 days without proper ration and compare that with a planned battle of the Kurukshetra. What about the Battle of Hydaspes (the great one fought by Alexander and Porus)? Seems like more than one day to me, and again, Alexander had done no bulk booking on the Transcontinental Express! Then Mr. Ramaswami goes ahead to say: "The “day” in the Kurukshetra battle is evidently metaphorical. For, it was oral history. It was more likely to have been 18 months or even 18 years — just the time needed for a migration-cum-invasion to displace a culture and a civilization 3,500 years ago." Have you read the Mahabharata, Mr. Ramaswami? The author doesn't give vague details spread over 18 years. They clearly inform you as to who the commander-in-chief for each day was and what happened at the start and end of each day. Are you telling me that Duryodhana grew 18 years wiser before being killed? No seriously, what did you have for breakfast before writing this article?

The whole Aryan invasion theory, according to me, is bullcrap (and I felt the same when I first read it more than a decade ago in school). There is no evidence of invasion related destruction in the Indus Valley excavation projects. That a small invading tribe could dislocate an entire civilisation is far-fetched to me. If the Battle of Hydaspes is any clue, Alexander found it difficult to sustain an invasion beyond India with all the force that he had mustered. I am sure an older organisation with lesser planning (well, they were supposed to be barbaric and nomadic and all things bad) couldn't have carried out a large scale evacuation of a civilisation that spanned several hundreds of square miles. Secondly, everyone is fixated on the horse thingy. No horse in India, but now there is horse so let's have horse-sh** and say that Aryans came on horses and hence we have horses. Firstly, the "no horse" idea is under threat. Secondly, how come no horse bones are found there? If the Aryans invaded then they should have let at least one horse die there in the valley, right? and where are zee bones?

Nevertheless, we shall keep out doubts regarding the Aryan invasion theory. Let us even assume that did happen. Like I care. How on earth does that give Mr. Ramaswamy the right to conclude this: "If the Mahabharat involved the horse-people, then what about the more antiquated Ramayan, which talks not only of horses, but also the famed Asvamedha yagna? Was Ram a Cossack, the most famed of all horse-people? Doesn’t “Valmiki” sound Russian, perhaps a corruption of Vladmikhailovich, who lived in the present Russian town named Sverdlovsk, formerly perhaps Swargalok? If we don’t accept the invasion theory, then the only other explanation is that both Mahabharat and Ramayan took place outside India, on the Russian steppes, and their stories have come down to us as oral histories through the horse-people, which were then refined to suit cultural and later ethnic, social and political agendas." Huh!?

Valmiki sounds Polish to me or Hawaiin (well, Wiki is Hawaiin). Swargalok sounds Swedish to me. Hanuman could be German Hannemann. Angada could be the Swedish Ansgar. Ravana sounds Irish to me (Ronan). Ramaswami sounds outrageously stupid to me. Russian steppes indeed!! Please do us a favour and read the Mahabharata!

If you, Mr. Ramaswami, are genuinely interested in timing the Battle of Kurukshetra and then study the astronomical references in the various chapters (esp. Bhishma Parva). There are mentions of eclipses occurring in a gap of 13 days. The retrograde motion of planets are also mentioned. The SuryaSiddhanta (it is not a costly book, Mr. Ramaswami; even I posses a copy)provides sufficient means of calculation to figure out when all of these could have occurred together. No, this is not astrology but astronomy. I am fine with using the latest scientific gadgetry too. There are several resources available online as well as various research institutes (BORI in Pune, being one). Please refer to the work of serious indologists like Dr. Witzel.

I really wish Mint hadn't published this article. I agree it is not their view, but still.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's This?

What is this new fashion of everyone making their blog private? :-\ So many people listed on this blog have restricted access to their blogs and I feel sad.
and a recent visitor Akila R?

Zindagi Ne Zindagi Bhar Gham

Zindagi Ne Zindagi Bhar

(Feel so relieved having found a way out of having to resort to YouTube)
I simply love listening to this song of late. It feels cool to huddle in the corner of a seat and sing this to the background of life's scenes whizzing past with an occasional pause to reveal some character in my life before they whizz past too. I really wish I could create a video like that. Set in a train, subway or smooth running bus. Aluminum walls with large windows framed in black synthetic guards. Protagonist sitting in a corner with his back to the window, left leg hoisted on the seats (let;s condemn him later for that). Casual clothes or formals with tie loosened and shoe-laces undone. Singing to the roof. Polished steel bars in the view. The world whizzing past (as seen) through the window. Occasionally the scene stops and one of the many human beings in the life of the protagonist is shown either being themselves and absorbed in their world or reaching out to touch the protagonist before the scene whizzes past again. Hmmm.... That might be interesting to watch.

Zindagi ne zindagi bhar gham diye
Jitne bhi mausam diye sab nam diye.

Life, through life, has but given me grief
Damp have been all seasons to no relief.

Jab tadapta hai kabhi, apna koi
Khoon ke aansoo, rula de bebasi

When suffers he who is our own
Tears of blood flow in helpless groan.

Jee ke phir karna kya mujko aisi zindagi? (Very valid question!! :-D )

What then do I have in living such a life?

Jisne zakhmon ko nahin marham diye
Zindagi ne zindagi bhar gham diye.

To one who never had a salve for a wound
Life but gave a lifetime's grief, festooned.

Apne bhi pesh aayen, humse ajnabee
Waqt ki saazish, koi samjha nahin.

One's own appear to us a stranger
Time's ploy, who understands ever

Be-iraada kuch khatayein humse ho gayi.

Unintentional, I have erred seldom

Raah mein patthar meri har dam diye
Zindagi ne zindagi bhar gham diye.

On my path, every stone gave me strength (not really sure of the interpretation here)
Life but gave me grief of a lifetime's length.

Ek mukammal kashmakash hai zindagi
Usne humse ki kabhi na dosti

Life is one wholly chaotic place
Me, in friendship, never did it embrace.

Jab mili mujhko aansoo ke woh taufey de gayi

Whenever we met, she gave me gifts of tears.

Hans sake hum aise mauke kam diye
Zindagi ne zindagi bhar gham diye.

Life gave me fewer moments where I'd smile
Life, with a lifetime's grief did me revile.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Human versus ?

Every single passing minute convinces me that the Divine begins where man ends. The politically correct claims of the Divine being in everything and especially in every human being is at best ridiculous. I see no divinity in human beings whatsoever, at least, the ones I interact with. Every interaction with each one of them reveals and further establishes that pettiness rules the roost. I am probably mutating into a misanthrope, but I was never a philanthrope in my life. I had had hope, though. Now, I have none.
A sense of rightness has started to recede with the passing day. The current sense of rightness is so tightly coupled with political correctness that the latter has overwhelmed the former into a new sense of rightness. Gone are the days when virtue had some value. Today people will not turn around and look at you if there was nothing in it for them. They wouldn't enquire into your well being or misfortune if they have no future with you. They will not look at an event or a decision objectively if that stance threatens their own well-being and pride. They will do anything for 15 min of fame but do nothing for permanence. They will not consider ethics in the face of societal displeasure (and I am criminal here too but in a very different sort of way). People are only alive to keep themselves alive.
People are (as the agent in Matrix says) very close to being viruses. They are purely focused on their own interests, on their own propagation, on their own greedy wants, under their own salivating mind's spell. People are quick to claim their right to be loved, but have no inclination towards working towards loving someone. Love, anyway, is the most stupid thing which is passed around like a joint. People expect others to follow rules and be considerate, but in turn would skip all of that without batting an eyelid. I feel more and more comfortable with lesser and lesser people around me.
I have always lived in the illusion that it is with other people that we can make this world a better place to live in. It is in the joy of togetherness that lasting bliss can be found. It is communion and selflessness that creates a world of smiles. It is decency that keeps the world going strong (I still believe in this). (I never believed in love so no illusions there. I think I was not even in my teens when I realised that this whole notion of singularly concentrated love was a sham) The illusion is fading and fast. People are no longer relevant beyond the barter. As long as there is the vegetable vendor, the milkman, the launderer, the cab driver, the electrician, the plumber and the like, there is no need for anything else. If there are fellow workers (writers, software engineers, investment bankers, football players, readers, et al) then they are sufficient relatives. I mean real workers and not nincompoops who bring along their bad childhood or domestic woes. People who do their work the way it is supposed to be done (and I love Ayn Rand only for that one dialogue in her books "I've hired you to do a job, not to do your best-whatever that is." Funnily that is the same line that vision-lackers would use.). I think such people make a better world as they also tend to have relationships based on decency and rightness. And such people suffice. It is without their pettiness and greed that man becomes an acceptable companion and maybe, in finer Springs, Divine.
I am sure that the reader is quick to move away from this post as "Yet, another E calling the world dirty and I-am-holier-than-thou." I would be more than glad to have that reader move far away from this blog. If I have wronged, I am willing to correct myself but that doesn't absolve this world of its dirt. People abound who consider that everything is right in this world because they have no intent or energy to see things as they are and work towards correcting them. A sense of sufficiency exists which allows compromise in a manner of a bargain and favour. But I do not understand how or why one should compromise with immoral people. If something is wrong but should be passed or accepted as ok merely because the wrong-doer is your boy-friend, mother, wife, boss or (this takes the cake) your spiritual guru doesn't make sense. If this person was your mortal enemy, would you excuse him/her?
Life is not about right and wrong, they say. It sure isn't once it is based on it. How else would life find a basis? Consider basing all of life on things that change by the minute as your conviction of right and wrong keep changing. What you have is next to personal hell. Once life is based on a wise sense of right and wrong, thereafter, life can evolve into matters which are beyond right and wrong, but a life with the quivering uncertainty of rightness as its substratum cannot ever go beyond the realm of meticulous measurement or even beyond the stages of tricking oneself into believing that so-n-so is ok and acceptable. In a place where all action is driven by a near Divine sense of rightness, one can afford delving into facets other than the binary right or wrong. How can something without a strong base ever rid itself of concerns of forming a strong foundation?
When people need to be instructed and reminded about demonstrating genuine concern, about human decency, about objective rightness, about fairness, about instinctive morality, those days will always be gloomy and without a reason to smile. Why does anyone find it surprising that there is no permanent cheer on earth? There cannot be any until man ceases to be man.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Have you shut your eyes to a coffee shop and heard the clack of ceramic to glass top or the shy giggling glass - holding a honeyed iced-tea perhaps? - walking on stilettos between conversations which serve little entertainment when compared to the rather delightfully brusque tones of crockery and glassware on the archipelago of table tops? I wouldn't do that often - but enough to speak at length about it - as I might miss the looks I came here to collect. I am, as people are unaware unless I let them know, a collector of gazes, stares and shots flung askance when I suddenly, but intentionally, twist my wetted lips into a rather would-they-ever-find-out smile. Is it strange that given my quaint predilection towards garnering frozen images of strange faces hanging over contained liquids, in the singular vault of memory, unable to paste them in rows sorted by countries as in a philatelist's scrapbook, makes me more of a painter than any other occupation that I can decently claim on a 3"x2" piece of card? I am also a keeper of mistresses.
Would they ever know that about me? I let my fingers grip the rim where the waitress presses her mound to lean over and refill my glass. Would she then suspect that I try mistresses in the hope that one of them will leave a mark on me - not the sadly misleading mark of a nibble which leaves the onlooker smiling warm in the consolation that there is at least one man blessed with a tigress or at least a kitten for a wife - a real mark of a man with a secret life, a life filled with elaborate plans in order to throw his wife off guard, a life of bathing once again at the studio - the bath being constructed there under the pretext of ensuring clean models - before returning home in order to discourage any suspicion in the wife, sometimes walking through fish markets in order to drown the scent of her vigorous voluptuous rub against my torso and pelvic girdle - such marks, too, are indecently counter-indicative - the life where I plan gallery shows (and now I lift a finger to ensure that it does force the waitress to take conscious note) in distant towns with well laid beds in shadowy recesses of streets unknown or frowned upon by the native who swears by everything that is of that city, a life filled with mood swings which disallow anyone to allot precious seconds to the intention to know about my life outside of the house, spending nearly all of it in ensuring that nothing stokes the stoves of volatile spirits and temperaments, a life spent creating a secret and more effort spent in the hope that someone will notice the craftily assembled impossibility to detect the secret, a life spent hoping whether odd waitresses and insouciant barmaids would ever know like this one here... would she? Several years into this exercise gleefully spent in the warm caresses of success now gnaw at my sensibilities and personal pride. Have I wasted my cleverness in matters which wouldn't excite a soul? Would a confession of adultery evoke nothing more than a sigh or a quick shift to sealing matters about the pending commission for a painting? I feel cheated that my cunning hasn't warranted a stern glance or a couple of clicks of moral tongues. Restless nights have been spent in the hope that some stray conversation in my sleep might wake me to my wife's quivering back sobbing in the absolute dejection of having her husband of few decades stoop to the level of a common man-animal, but it has always the quivering rear under the throes of frothy toothbrush strokes. Such futile excursions into sin have taxed me as vain claims to deviltry shunned with a hurtful wave of an opisthenar casting such frivolous possibilities to the roster of more infamous gents whose single aberrations spawns a million rumours of ever-increasing proportions - and often, on matters of exaggerated physicality - aching my heart with failed imploring into their innocence. Why do they get blessed with blasted-ness without any effort?
Today, I search the bevelled sea of faces for that one glance which shall absolve me of all wasted sin. One glance which is stitched closely to a muted moral cavil of how old men lose their sanity first to the tender flesh of young female groin. One glance that would hurtle me down the chaste towers of senior propriety. One glance to help me breathe in unbroken joy of having raised the Devil in my ways. One glance that would paint invisible shades of gossip on my paintings and raise their value three-fold - is this brown patch amidst glowing red an indication of the painter's affair with a brunette? One glance to pay salary to all my sweaty clandestine effort of years. One glance. That is all I ask. One glance.
The cafe slowly purges itself of customers and coffee bean stock. The possibility of reprieve abates with the growing prominence of incandescent artificiality, lights which have been the only other witness to my segue into sin. Pointless sin. Wasted sin. Isn't it the most painfully detestable act of man to indulge in invisible sin? Why sin at all if there is no one to grab your fleeing collar and pillory you?
"Like my grandfather, you know... Trembling hands, forgetting where he is and finally remembering enough to take him back home to his equally wrinkled wife."
I turned around and hissed, "Mistress! Mistress!"
"Yes sir, may I take your order. My name is Tess and Miss Tess is fine too. Do you want me to help you with something? Hail a cab, perhaps?"

Some stains are easier to get...

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Nowhere to go but there...

Deja Vu

One in a million
The only reason I stayed back was the karate classes that were being conducted in the reverberating halls of my school. The karate coach was a tough looking man, toughness, in part, added by the 8 year old's rationality of karate being a tough guy's thing. I wasn't allowed to enroll as my father thought that would make me aggressive and probably violent towards my sister. He didn't recognise my needs for self-defense (even from my sister) as valid reason. So I learnt a technique which has held me in good shape for the decades that flew in after that: stand on the side lines pretending to do work while you learn by observation. My bus was to leave in about 5-10 minutes and I rushed out to check whether the driver had arrived. He was this Parsi guy who was very strict and scared the daylights out of all of us. I left my bag and lunch basket on the seat, thereby reserving its occupancy before rushing back to watch the class. I must have shuttled back and forth a couple of times to check on the bus's departure but the intervals must have grown (though, ideally, they should have shortened). I suppose a part of the class got very interesting and I must have been engrossed in it before I realised that it was quite some time since I had checked the bus. I rushed out to see the bus missing and as expected, with my baggage. I ran out of the other gate (which used to be shut for buses but was a short cut into the route that the bus took) but saw that the bus had passed that point too. The first thought that came to my mind was "Mom! Dad!". They sort of came together whenever I did something really really wrong.
I darted out of the gate and ran over the stone bridge (this is near Mazagaon in Mumbai) and around the turn. Thankfully, those days I was in shape owing to my involvement with the athletics team. I must have ran pretty fast as my thoughts were panting in my head and were interleaved with ideas for possible excuses for missing the bus. I knew I could never make it in front of my parents, but hope is a sneaky talker.
Suddenly I was yanked to a halt by a middle aged man.
"Where are you running like this?"
"I .... bus.... school... bus.... home."
"Are you mad running like this on the road? Where are your parents?"
"Home... bus... school."
"You missed your school bus?"
Here, a nod sufficed.
"Don't be silly running around like this. Here, take 50p and take a BEST bus back home."
I shook my head vehemently as I remembered (and it amazes me how a little head can recall instructions laced with threat and warning and bad stories as lagniappe) how my mother forbade me from taking anything from strangers. He pried open my palm and put the searing coin in there.
"Go, take a bus."
I ran like a boy possessed, both in the urgency of reaching my bus and in the hope that the guilt of having accepted money from a stranger would leave me alone. The coin screamed out at me making me feel guilty and slowing me down near the bus-stop. I ran on after that momentary pause, the weight of fatigue and guilt slowing me down in imperceptibly increasing quanta.
I recall those moments very well. I was rushing past several stores which had once been innocent rectangles casing wares of ignorable kinds. Now they were looming square eyes watching me through leather, bread, laundry and engine oil while I rushed past them wondering which would be the one. At length, I picked a laundry store where I slowed down. I wasn't sure whether it was the promise of white linen hanging behind glass shutters that soothed me, or merely tired feet begging to stop, but that was the shop I picked. I stopped and while my heart beat a forest drum in my ears, I laid the 50p where the shop shutters entered the concrete frame of the shop entrance. I knew it would either be picked up by someone (thereby passing on the guilt or basically being nullified) or crushed by the shutters. I looked at it one last time and ran on. I did manage to get into the bus eventually after having run 2-3 kms or so.
I wasn't sure what frightened me so much that day: my parents, missing the bus, taking money from a stranger, having to run through the roads of Bombay (which is a scary thing to do at any age) or having to revisit the idea that people are not nice when they are also strangers.

Decades later I find myself in Ottawa. A strange land with strange ways though beautiful in places like a painting that you don't want to buy though you wouldn't discourage your friend from buying. I was heading to Ottawa University and I realised that I did not have change ($3). I had about $2.25 in loose change and $5 and above. I was hoping that the driver would have the change. The funny thing about buses in Ottawa is that no one really checks whether you carry a valid ticket or not. It is not about being irresponsible and sloppy on the part of the driver (maybe that too) but about the sheer trust people place in each other. As in, why would you want to cheat OCTranspo? No seriously, why? Everything here in Canada seems to run on trust and would require someone to really be a hardened criminal to want to do something cheap and illegal. I am sure that criminals abound here as well, but on basic matters like bus tickets and store managing, they seem to trust people a lot. Anyway, so here I was hoping that the driver would have change for $5.
In comes a red box with a loose middle, snorting and and sighing doors open. I walk in and ask the driver if she (oh yes! drivers can be she's out here) has change for $5. She says no. I ask her what should I do. She recommends asking the passengers for change. So wobble towards the rear and spot an old lady (she is the first amongst the humans I encounter) and ask her whether she would have change for $5. She shakes her head with a rather strict "No". Then I walk up to the next old lady and ask her if she has change for $5.
"I beg your pardon."
"Ma'am, I was wondering if you would have change for five dollars."
"Oh! no, dear. What is it for?"
"I need to buy the bus ticket."
And she begins to rummage through her purse. In the mean time I ask the people sitting behind whether they have change and they all shake their head. I contemplate getting off at the next stop or just forgetting about the $2 that I would be losing (but that's Rs. 80, and I wouldn't mind losing that while buying a pair of jeans but in a bus!? 80 looms larger with a finger wagging in disapproval). Then suddenly the lady stops invading her purse and offers me 2 orange stamp sized card which I faintly recognise as being bus coupons/passes. So I smile at her and say, "Thank you ma'am, but I do not have change." I thought she misunderstood me as wanting coupons/passes in exchange for money.
"That's ok, you can have them."
My mouth clamped shut as scenes from years ago rushed in front of me. Somehow I managed to smile and stepped back.
"No ma'am, that wouldn't be fair. Please take this five and I'll willingly take your coupons."
I calculated that I would rather give $2 to an old kind lady than a driver of a red box.
"No, no. Please, you can have these."
I decided to excuse myself so that I could walk further towards the rear of the bus before deciding on losing $2 to the driver. The first strict lady suddenly leaned forward and blocked my exit.
"The lady is being extremely generous. You should probably take it."
I simply didn't want to take it but I thought it would be culturally impolite to refuse someone to be generous. The lady was still holding out the coupons/passes, smiling at me and urging me with her eyes to take it. I offered the $5 again and she simply shook her head and refused to take it. I bowed low and thanked her for her generosity and accepted the tickets. I walked over to the driver in a trance and asked her if I needed to drop both of them in. She confirmed that. I don't know why but I hope the driver would say, "You know what! I just found two loonies in my pocket. You can have them" and I could rush back and thank the lady and return her stamps. Well, that didn't happen. I walked back slowly, suddenly suspecting all eyes on me and people whispering "Look at him, took money from a stranger and that too an old lady."
I bowed lower to the old lady before sitting down. I was too ashamed to even put that $5 back in my wallet. Somehow that note felt corrupted. I kept holding on to it before placing it in my breast pocket. I extracted my wallet and started counting all the coins I had with the hope that I might magically arrive at $3 (actually the stamps would cost less because they are bought in bulk). I still fell short by about 70c. I kept holding the many coins in my hand debating whether I should go over and offer at least them to her. Then I devised grand plans of giving her something but I realised that I was carrying nothing with me. My watch was too old to be gifted. I dreamed of running into her (and here I looked up at her making note of her features so that I could recognise them later. She was still smiling at me) in the future and helping her with something else and somehow repaying my debt.
My stop arrived before her's which made me feel cheaper (gosh! she helps you and you get off before her!? How rude!) and I thanked her once more and alighted with bowed head. The forest-drum thump was playing in my chest and I don't know why I felt awful the rest of the evening. I even refused my rational head to talk that day.
Now I was old enough to ponder over the incidents of my life and it wouldn't be called being dull (oh! look at that little boy staring vacantly at the lamp-post. Must be dull. Must be so hard on his parents!). That man and this lady had confirmed my faith in human decency amid all vulgarity that surrounds me. Every single step in this world only reveals the abysmal pettiness, shocking narrow-mindedness, immoral selfishness and human lacking that has infected nearly every single person I meet (or maybe I am the chosen one to meet only such persons!). Every single person is so caught up in his or her life, making every move a calculated one, greedily trying to extract whatever one can from others and conducting themselves with rightness dropped in favour of self-preservation and egotistic wants. No, I am not preaching or pointing fingers at people in a mad fad of snobbery. And it is never about me and "them". It is about how things are and the fact that I observe it separates me from it automatically, because observation is an objective act.
These people in their simple ways had revealed to me that human decency or human goodness is not a mere thought nor an incident in the presence of profit or scope for profit. I don't think I would call it a revelation as much as I would call it a reinforcement. A dear dear friend of mine always would ask me to give up my faith in human goodness as it was non-existent (now, now! don't be hard on her. She is right to a great extent in what she says). Maybe I will consider that sometime later...

Monday, May 05, 2008


CN Tower

I kinda liked this pic the most from the ones I shot in Toronto...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I wonder

why I am not writing. It's not the case of being blissfully happy or shamefully busy. It is not the case of a paucity of topics or a drought of words. It is not a case of finding better ways to pass my time or lethargy. Probably it's ennui but why? I know not. I have tonnes of ideas and myriad stories to tell but I look at my blog and just want to look elsewhere. I read poems (and I shall surely write about the best weekend I had in several years) by a Jeet Thayil and I feel thoroughly disappointed with the state of present day writing and hastily conclude that it is probably something to do with my sense of good writing and my own writing that I am unable to see the reason why such writers/poets are even published. His poem about food habits in the mountainous regions was so pathetic that I rushed out of the bookstore and bought an ice-cream. So many other writers simply seem to get published and I wonder whether I should be adding to that mass without ... forget it. I will write for sure as that is pure bliss to me, but now I am basically limping through the streets of a foreign land (though I like the way Ottawa keeps its streets). But I wonder...