Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction*

Since this is disclosure week, time to unveil a theme suggested by the erstwhile Gin-Soaked Blogger**. In her plans, a weekly 'Saturday Striptease' would see me "take off one more article of personal detail".

But one doesn't blog on weekends, and since we've had to retire the Friday Food project, I'm launching this today instead. And to make it more interesting, these may or may not be true.

One more thing you didn't know about me:

When I was three years old, I bit a monkey while on a holiday at a hill-station. It was trying to steal my teddy-bear.

* I have a thing will alliteration. And F-words. Deal with it.
** That would be OTP, for those who came late to the party.

Weekend whoopsies

This weekend, an experiment.

No Net, no books, no newspapers, no TV, no films, no radio, no music (with one exception - below). No words of any sort from any non-immediate-person source. I'm undecided on whether I can/should write, but I'm leaning in favour of not allowing that either.

Partly due to to this feeling of sinking under the weight of all this information that we increasingly are being fed (a post on that soon). Partly because I'm preparing for a time when an idiotic nuclear war leaves us with no electricity, and paper is used only for hygienic purposes. And partly because it should be a sobering realisation of what little else I get up to.

It's not like it should be too difficult. At a pinch, there are a number of things that need doing (giving the cycle a thorough servicing, cleaning the house, working on the herb patch, giving the retail world a little boost), but those are just jobs. What I really want to see is whether I end up doing the things I think of doing but for some reason tend not to (hathayoga sessions, long walks, long baths, cooking elaborate meals, long stretches of just...spacing).

The Exception: John McLaughlin live in concert* (Woowoowoohoo! Jumps around the room on imaginary pogostick, scaring everybody within a quarter-mile radius with rather loud yells......whaaaat? it's John McLaughlin!). Although, no songs there, just music, so that fits in the theme. This should also take up a lot of time, especially given the general chaos that is the Underground.

* TR, how are you missing this?


It tempts.

Insiduously. Pervasively. Continuously.

Type, it says.
Explain, it asks.
Details, it prompts for.
Go on, it tempts....let it all out.

Let loose the words. Unburden your mind from the weight of all those suppressed thoughts. Spill the stories that make up your life. Let the world know just who you are, and what you do, and why you think the way you do, and why you never did the things you wish you could, and why you don't know what you try to bluff your way through, and why you search so much for answers, for any answer, and how you learnt to love, and why you learnt to hate, and how much the world scares you, and how little of the world you feel you understand anymore, and what happens to you when you drink, and what you did on lazy summer afternoons when you were half the age you now are, and what you cook when you have to cook for yourself, and why your career took the course it has, and what you learnt from your parents, and their parents, and whether you have siblings, and how you feel about them, and what you think of when you see a clear night sky, and what your opinion is about jellybabies, and peanut butter, and stilettoes, and thrash metal, and abortion, and tie-and-dye prints, and long poems, and eve-teasing, and sun tans, and indie rock, and free trade, and adventure sports, and revolutions, and discos, and virtual reality, and childcare, and organic food, and all the little things that you see and hear and feel and think of and that make up this world and fill your life.

Type, it says.

See all the people reading. See all the people who type back. Think of how many more you could reach out to. Think of the difference you could make. Think of how you could spread a little more awareness, a little more knowledge. Think of how your words could change the life of some teenagers. Think of how your experiences could help somebody make sense of their own misery and grief, or help them to look beyond their little world and start bettering those of others. Think of all the friendships you are missing out on, all the fun lunches, and hilarious escapades, and concerts, and books that you could enjoy. Think of all the ways it could change your career, and all the columns you could be offered. Think of what would happen if you were no longer able to blog, because death or a maiming accident happened to intersect your future. Think of all the questions you would leave behind. Think of all the questions you bring up today, instead of providing answers.

Whatever happened to being heard, it asks.
Whatever happened to improving the world.
Whatever happened to improving your self.
Whatever happened to spontaneity.
Whatever happened to freedom.
Whatever happened to the truth.

Oh, it tempts.


The truth, the whole....well, some of it

One year-ending, in that brief period when I tried such things, I resolved to try and be completely honest. I guess the real point was to see how feasible it was, and how long it could last.

This is not something new. Camus' The Outsider revolves around the concept of somebody who is direct to the point of alienating others. As was Rand's Fountainhead (the only redeemable facet of that entire book). Heck, you could even go all the way back to Yudhistir.

The experiment lasted three days.

Not just because people cannot handle unadorned honesty, but because I realised I hadn't defined - or understood - what I was really aiming for. The whole thing came unstuck when I tried to decide if the point was to be completely honest, to be Truthful, or to just not lie. A rough summation of how I ended up seeing them is thus:

Not lying is, by far, the easiest of the three - even though it's possibly the most difficult one can ever do. Not lying is not just refusing to say untruths, but also not evading a direct question, or not qualifying any answer. With all the attendant backlash it may bring. A reactive process, if you will.

Honesty is a more active process. It's not just about not lying to others, it's also about having no secrets at all. It's about going up to them and telling them how things really are. And more importantly, extending the same to you. Acknowledging your faults and limitations, your prejudices, your passions, your patterns, your self. Almost-attaining-nirvana-difficult.

After that, you have being Truthful. Which is picking-an-angry-porcupine-with-your-buttcheeks painful. This is looking at every little aspect of every thing around you, and meeting them on the terms that they deserve. It means not being able to promise anything, because you know that you can never guarantee something, only that you will try to make it happen. It means not being able to use definite terms such as always and never and totally and absolutely*.

Defining this, and determining what all I could be honest and truthful about, proved to be a more fruitful usage of time than trying to be completely honest and truthful. It was also a defining period for me, because once you really begin to look at - and accept - who and what you are, life becomes that much easier to deal with. It's a continuous process, and you go on discovering and accepting new things. I've learn to live with and feed off anger, I've accepted and learnt to live with Existential Schizophrenia, and I've seen how easy it is to write and publicly display verse once I accepted I wasn't a Poet.

The point of this? A relevant example of the difference between not lying and being honest. The former would be letting you continue to believe something that sprung up here, and has been perpetuated through a process of assumption, new people reading classificatory* statements made by people who've made those assumptions, and - eventually - by the lack of confirmation or denial by the one person who could clear the matter (that would be me).

The latter would be me telling you not to continue to labour under that misapprehension***.

To wit, this blogger is of the male persuasion.

The comment space is yours to vent vitriol.

PS. Why now? Why not when Flaffy cast me as KSA's sister in her epic? Why not when Pri classified me under the 'Girls' section? Why not when people addressed comments to me as 'Missy'? Because, well...umm...hey look! See the pretty birdie there (scampers off)
PPS. Remember the bit about Perceptions? See what I mean?

* And no, that's not ambivalence, it's just about realising that what you think you can or aim to do is influenced by and can be derailed by various factors.
** If that's not a word in the dictionary, it bloody well should be.
*** Which doesn't mean you need to know everything else. I gave up on the complete bit, remember?


More whimsy

I once remarked to a fellow-blogger about how blog-relationships tend to be like intersecting Venn diagrams (this is where I really wish I could make those graphics). Like water, bloggers soon find their own level - of similarities in taste, style, humour - and settle down to mingling amongst them. This process usually doesn't take much time, because people soon reach the limits of how many others they can keep track of, while also (presumably) juggling their own blogging, work, and other aspects of life.

New blogs and bloggers are sporadically and reluctantly paid attention to, and even more reluctantly included in, largely because of all the effort involved. Go read their archives, hope they've read yours, then the having to explain in-jokes (some of you probably wonder about the unkel-ji's and masterji's on this here blog) and having to explain past references suddenly thrown in the middle of a comment-thread. Kaun itni jhanjhat karega.

And the longer you blog, the longer you've been around, the more difficult it gets to care. And the longer you've been blogging, the higher becomes the threshold level of newness or interest that a new blogger must show, for you to continue being interested in them. And lower goes the threshold at which you're willing to forget about them, if they aren't persistent enough with their comments or posts.

This quite directly mirrors real-life relationships and communities. You strike up a basic understanding with people due to the coincidence of constant proximity. Then you extend this to a deeper bond on the discovery of more tangible mutual grounds which you can explore at leisure. And occasionally, you get introduced to people who've formed ties with those you've formed ties with, but in a different context/space/time. And if you click with these new people, good. If not, you've always got your old friends.

The people I now communicate regularly with, were a result of taking a chance on the blog-roll recommendations of the one blogger I knew, and whose blog I first started reading. From that person's blog to the others, from there to others on their blog-rolls, and so on. And while you soon get involved in the common group, you are always aware there are others outside whom you don't mingle with, for whatever reasons.

So KM, TR, OTP, Flaffy, Scouty, Space, Falstaff, Szer, and me form one circle (of regular readers and commenters). But TR and Space also know Veena and Black Mamba. And Szerlem, Aishwarya and me know Roswitha. And Pri, Bikerdude and Puppy are another circle. And Pri, The Bride, and me are in another. And OTP, KM, TR, and Ph are in another.

See? Venn Diagrams.

So, whoever you are, you're welcome to join us. Don't be shy. Comment. That's how we'll have a reason to know you. And if you don't find comments on your own blog, it may just be that we don't find much in common, or may not have anything to say. Which is also my way of apologising if you've commented here, but don't find me reading or following your blogs.

Tea vs coffee vs hot chocolate vs Irish cream. Nothing personal - it's all chance and choice.

Bloggyworld is being quiet of late.

OTP left, Flaffy made brief cameo, Scouty's doing whoknowswhat, Falstaff's probably lying undiscovered in his flat under piles of research papers and unpublished poems, TR's busy giving gyaan, JAPpy-da is probably still busy staring at hotel ceilings across the world, Veena's tripping across Europe, Renovatio's still working his way to Oscar glory, Anki's following in his footsteps, Punkster's probably too worked up with feminist anger to even hold a coffee mug, Puppy M is too busy...ok I really wouldn't dare to make a guess, Wiseling's not writing, neither is CS, neither is Phanty (and no ode for you till you do), and Szerlem's (still?) too busy soaking up Delhi heat. Or rain.

The only people going strong (from my blogroll) are KM, Space, Lekhni, Pri, The Bride, and Mad Momma. And I see Biker Dude just redeemed himself.

Aur toh aur, (apart from the regulars) koi comment bhi nahin karta. Not just here. On other blogs too.

Daaaaahlings, we louuwww you. And yes, you're busy and all, but we miss you. Please to write.



The line of tall gulmohurs leaning against the second floor window, coming alive in an almost Gothic manner. Brooding giants, whirling in the frenzy of the unleashed wind, sucking in the steel darkness brought down by the squatting clouds. Dominating the view, demanding to be viewed, luring us into watching as they shamelessly revelled in the shower, scrubbing off the heat and grime of the whole year.

And we watched too, at first in slack-jawed shock, marvelling at how they remained standing under that torrent, and later, squirming in simple delight at their unrestrained joy. And then squealing as they tried to rope us into playing too, drenching us through the window slits through which we stared, wishing we could escape from the suddenly too-bright class into the wild gloom outside.

Some dreaming of running barefeet, squelching through a ground turned wet brown from a dry red. Some mournfully contemplating the soon-to-be-sullied white, white clothes. Others cleverly secreting away bits of chalk, for later scrubbing across tired, muddy trainers. Boys marking which girls were weather-unproofed, or carried only umbrellas, in order to later furtively detail the aftermath of their inevitable drenching. Girls making quick pacts with those more well-prepared, or lucky, determined not to be quite as entertaining as male fantasies were sure to hope they would be. Some unconsciously drooling in anticipation of the deliciousness of hot things to bite into, noticing how the ripples in the frying oil mimic those of the puddles beneath, and then barely waiting for the booty to be removed before stuffing it all down, scalded tongues be damned.

And through it all, everyone ignoring the hapless teacher, trying unsuccessfully to maintain some semblance of dignity and duty, trying to ignore a rhythm seductively suggesting a return to simpler days, when small pleasures still had the power to make the misery of life bearable.


I gave my life to death,
that part of me that ached
with having to live,
simply to die.

My fear,
I threw before death;
that part of me that lay frozen
at the terror of it all

And my death,
I laid rest for death;
that part of me that worried
how and when this flight
would fail.

And the words
have slowly slunk back,
now that there is but one death
for me to die,
and so many lives to live till then.

Manual of Life - Alternative Definition

n., The feeling you get when you realise that the city you once called home has changed, not caring that you weren't around while it did, and didn't even bother to let you know.

The moment of discovery is usually reached by the absence or modication of a minor (yet comfortingly familiar) detail of life in the city, e.g., the Chinese food stall which stands in place of the local gola-wallah, or the silence which fills the evening spot during which the bheeeeeeeeeeeeeejaaaaa-kaleji wallah used to flaunt his wares.

* Prompted by this post by The Bride.


"People need anything made of rubber here. People need anything made of plastic. People need Tupperware boxes and Ziploc bags and coated rubber bands for hair, Brooklyn Bridge cable kind of hair. People need Rubbermaid dish drainers - the metal kind, coated with rubber, and the rubber trays that go underneath them - so that the wooden counters on which dishes drain down don't stay perpetually humid and rot. They need solid Rubbermaid garbage cans, with snap-on lids to keep rats away. People need things to stack, conserve, preserve, classify, label, repair. People need things to make the things they already have, last; to repair them and organize them, for two-thirds of the population of Cuba was middle class and has devolved. If a Rubbermaid store opened in Cuba, people would be lined up around the block six lines deep. People need ties for plants. People need tomato stakes. People need gaskets. They need gaskets very badly. They need the thick gaskets that go around refrigerator doors and insulated gaskets for oven doors, and they need the rubber rings for espresso pots and canning jars. People need coated wire that bends. People need golf tees to pound into worn screw holes so that they can insert screws again, and the springs and the tiny screws that go inside locks and door handles and window locks so that the rain doesn't come in more than it already does. People need sheets of expanded metal to repair the seats of broken outdoor furniture so they can sit and play dominoes and wait for things to change, and they need Rust-Oleum so that the outdoor furniture doesn't rust through again. People need Thompson's Water Seal. People need burner parts for gas stoves, and new burners for electric stoves, so that they don't have to cook over fires in their own backyards and cut down more trees and make their asthma worse than it already is. People need asthma medicine. Cuba has the highest rate of asthma in the world, from the dust and the mold and the humidity, which they can't get rid of or escape from, for lack of parts".

- Isadora Tattlin (Cuba Diaries*)

* Quietly painful. One of those books that justify sometimes just buying a randomly picked-up book. And the violent critical reviews on Amazon...whooo. Some people just can't look beyond their own romantic notions, and hate anybody who dares puncture through and show them a glimpse of reality. These are the same people who probably still wear Che t-shirts. Doof-asses.


Intense Paranoia - Identification Method #19

Getting more convinced of the civilisation-dominating intentions of the malevolent entity that secretly controls the Big G, and how its so-called 'complete connectivity' offer is just a cover for the beta-version of the monitoring programme that it will eventually use to control us.

This feeling may be re-inforced by noticing how gradually, unnoticed, more and more of online activities continue to be tracked. eg. Realising that the blogs you subscribe to in G-Reader, get higlighted on the blogroll of any other blog, if you visit while logged in to your account.


Manual of Life - Little Known Facts #32

A woman whose skirt flies up due to a gust of wind while a man is looking in her direction, is bound to be judged unfavourably no matter what she does.

If she looks directly at him, she's a hussy.
If she blushes, she's a prissy Victorian maid.
If she grins and shrugs (even in a 'shit-happens-eh' manner), she's obviously no lady.
If she stops and desperately tries to hold it down, she's obviously not an empowered woman.
If she turns away, he begins to wonder what exactly she was trying to prevent him from seeing.
If she has no reaction at all and doesn't try to stop it flying up, she's a lesbian.

Manual of Life - Little Known Facts #33

A man who happens to be looking in the direction of a woman whose skirt flies up due to a gust of wind, is bound to be judged unfavourably no matter what he does.

If he stares, he's a pervert.
If he blushes, he's a boy-child who needs to grow up.
If he grins (even to show solidarity in a 'shit-happens-eh' manner), he's a creep.
If he averts his eyes, she thinks he thinks she's not attractive.
If he turns away, she begins to wonder just what he saw that made him take so drastic an action.
If he has no reaction at all, he's a jerk. Or gay.

Random gender-giri

You want (more) evidence of the extent of the patriarchal nature of English? I give you - female breasts.

'Boobs' are quite easily the second most distinctive feminine aspect of any girl/woman. So why is it that so many of the slang terms for breasts have a masculine or (even more oddly) aggressive connotation? When did they suddenly metamorphose into 'bad boys', and 'puppies*', and 'bazookas', and 'bangers'? Ok, there may be the occasional person who refers to 'the girls' or the 'bouncy/pointer sisters', but even when they're 'the twins', they're defined without any gender. Just 'the twins'.

And worse, you don't hear of genitalia given feminine nicknames, do you? You ever hear a man talk about his 'little princess'? Noooooo. It's all 'Mr Wiggly', and 'chhota bhai', and 'One-eyed Willy'.

* Hush? Is that it?


Breaking News

When you think about it, the usage of that phrase by TV channels is so wrong.

What is it supposed to imply? That the news is being broken? No? Oh, so the news story is breaking? But even that doesn't make sense. News doesn't break - it happens, it evolves, it is. And news stories are (taking place, developing, being discovered).

Or is the news trying to "break out (from the confines of secrecy)"? Tchah. That's just stupid.

Maybe it's journalistic license for "breaking the news (to you)". But that's even worse. You deliver the news, you bring people news, you tell them news, you pass on the news. How does breaking come into the picture?

Or is it supposed to mean "breaking up the news into digestible bits of information"? That makes some sense - but only if used in personal conversation ("I slowly broke the news about his father's death after he had settled down"). That meaning is quite unrelated to the "Breaking News" or "a story that's just breaking" that gets flashed across our screens.

So just why has this phrase become the norm?

That said, the alternatives aren't any better.
"Happening News"? Sounds like a pseduo attempt to gain hip-hop popularity.
"This Just In"? Sounds so....archaic.
"Fresh News"? Makes it sound like it's woken up, gone for a jog, had a long shower, and is now ready to face the world*.

Maybe they should just go "Alert! Alert! Alert!".

* Although, the Hindi alternative is strangely appealing. Taaza khabar. Such zing. But even there, quite a few Hindi news channels flash the words "Breaking News" in the vernacular. Doofuses.

Manual of Life - Little Observations #17

When carrying multiple beverage containers, it is easier to open doors if you are holding two (handled) mugs and a glass, rather than two glasses and a mug.

Manual of Life - Cloud in your Silver Lining #13

Warm summer days mean having to properly iron your clothes, as you can no longer hide behind sweaters, cardigans, or jumpers*.

* That word almost always brings up an image of a woollen top going bouncy-bouncy-bouncy in a field somewhere.


Manual of Life - "Ohhh hec....Oh. Fuck." moments

Those instances when you realise that a situation that at first glance seemed just bad, is actually worse than you had assumed.

e.g. Realising that the glass-panelled back door of your house has not shattered after being slammed shut by a gust of wind, but is like that because you have been targetted for the purposes of hostile re-appropriation of goods.

Such moments are likely to cause a temporary heightened awareness of senses, often resulting in much sharp glancing at shadows, startling at sudden sounds, and three-hour sleep periods at night. They can also seriously put a cramp on your weekend.


Intense Paranoia - Identification method #11

Believing that one of the concepts explained in SF&F books that -

1) Revolve around the presence of supernormal entities in the midst of humans, and our manipulation by them (American Gods, Word and Void trilogy, Dark Materials trilogy)
2) Revolve around the occurence of super-intelligent lifeforms, and their continued repression of our gaining knowledge of them (HGTG, End of Eternity)
- is true (and has been made public in order to throw us off-guard and make us believe that what's described cannot be possible, what with it being easily accessible and being sold as 'Fiction' (ha!)).

....but not knowing which of those is true.